Friday, January 28, 2011

Taking five...

1. The Big's solo costume came in via UPS. We were all extremely thankful it arrived, seeing as she needs it to compete next weekend in GA.

2. My brother. sil, and niece left North America to live overseas for at least the next four years. Most likely for their lifetime...it's for work and I know they'll love it, but saying goodbye via phone and Skype was bittersweet.

3. Little Bit finished second grade math and is almost done with second grade english. She's only six...Looks like I need to order new curriculum and write into ABC asking them to do a show called "Dougina Howser". Wink.

4. We played rousing games of both Quirkle and Bananagrams all weekend. I highly recommend these to anyone who wants to have fun but not spend hours at a time on a game.

5. I spent a lot of time in prayer. God really kept me on my knees this week...I usually pray a ton, but my heart was extra burdened. Between my best buddy just not getting any better, Joanne in a coma, baby Scarlette taking a few dives in the NICU this week, and all of the Williams clan battling the stomach junk, I've just been petitioning up a storm for many that I don't know but my heart hurts for... I'm constantly in awe of how our God unites us.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

She Needs

She needs a friend.

She searches it out in me, her Mama.

The one who sets the rules, makes her brush her still falling out baby teeth, tailors her curriculum, disciplines, and tucks her into bed at night.

I look forward to the day where I am less parent and more friend, but that is a good decade or more in our future. She desires it now...and it makes me wistful that I cannot yet gift it to her. For the time being, I am charged with shaping her heart.

She needs a comrade to pal around with, giggle, and share secrets...with which she can be a goof.

Her soul, sweet and tender, often bruised by the unkindness of those around her.

She’s always been

Sensitive

Intuitive

Reactive

In one-too-many ways, grown-up before her time

Being incredibly intelligent doesn’t help things; other ten in less than two weeks eleven year olds don’t enjoy better yet prefer conversations with adults or consider those three to four years older “peers”. Most of the tweens she knows are into Tiger Beat magazine. She’s never flipped though the glossy pages. She prefers discussing our Compassion Child to chatting up Justin Bieber. Her heart is heavy, even troubled, with the weight of the unknown for missionaries she holds dear to her little heart. She’s able to pretend that I can do anything because I once did...effortlessly in her eyes. She doesn’t want to see my limitations. I’m often asked to push them aside so that she can continue to perceive me as completely whole because the reality terrifies her.

She has “friends”. I’d consider her popular, both with parents and peers. More individuals than she could count on both hands and toes consider her a buddy. Her laughter is shared and multiplied and her shoulder is often used. Like a magnet, she draws people to her with sweetness and an open, beautiful heart. But where does she place her burdens? Like a kettle, she holds them till steam comes out and the whistle blows. Everything falls apart and she feels alone.

My rational heart knows that this is a trying, difficult age. I’ve navigated not always successfully this maze she’s in and I wouldn’t voluntarily experience it again. Okay, in honesty, I’d rather have all of my toes amputated than be her age. At eleven I was heavy with the weight of steroids and medication, rode a short bus, and used a wheelchair, all while attending a public school. It was a time I’ll forever refer to as “the dark years”. I’d rather be almost any age than eleven. I, of all people, get it. But she’s not me...she’s beautiful and petite and well received. Her eyes sparkle and her smile warms. She thinks she’s okay going it mostly alone, but she’s not.

I know.
I’ve been there.

So, I pray. I ask God to give this girl of ours, the one with the sweet, feisty, tender heart, a friend. A buddy. One who will accept her where she’s at, cheer for each and every accomplishment, and support her through thick and thin. I’m asking Him for a girl who shares her interests and her faith.

A big request? You betcha.

But I’m counting on it being filled, for it’s His desire that we’re in community with others...whether we’re eleven or four times that number.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another...” Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Ditch (Part 2)

I said last Thursday I'd back on Monday...

Or, on Tuesday....smile

Because Monday? It got away from me.

___________________________

...He was there with me.

I was not alone. I mean, I've sung the perennial favorite What a Friend We Have in Jesus and read the poem Footprints more times than should be allowed by law, but coming to the realization that He never leaves me was to say the least daunting.

In fact, if examined from a logical viewpoint, even a bit creepy, as pointed out to me by my then three year old. “Mama, does God watch over you when you’re sleeping?” asked Little Bit as I snuggled her into bed a few years ago. Never skipping a beat my reply was, “You betcha!” “Even when you get out of bed to go to the bathroom,” she paused “Is He there, too?” She sounded slightly nervous at this point, and I was beginning to get her drift. My response, blithely, was to the effect that she’d never need to be weary of the dark again. Unfortunately, I should have been a bit clearer, because to this day the kid can’t sleep with the door to the bathroom ajar.

From a spiritual standpoint, although still slightly unnerved by the notion, I find the concept that we’re never alone comforting. People will disappoint me. I’ll do ridiculous things and punish myself indefinitely for them. I’ll end up in the ditch and will show too much pride to ask someone to come beside me and maybe even beneath me and lift and push and pull me up, but even then?

He’s with me.

The Creator of the heavens.

The One who spoke the stars into being.

This God who became man, lived on this earth without sin, and died for all of mine.

He’s with me.

I need to start getting out of my own way. I need to realize that hoping for control and actually having it are two completely different concepts. I need to willingly give it over to Him instead of clutching it in my hands until it’s worn and twisted and wrung so hard that the writing is no longer legible. It whatever it is was never mine to begin with. It has always been His...much like I have. I’m loved, and I’m certainly not alone in these trenches.

In fact, if I was to open my eyes and glance, I’d see hands outstretched all over the place. Sleeves rolled up ready to lend a hand. Because our God? He never leaves us anywhere alone...and He always makes sure we have a way back out.

For this? Thankful does not seem to cut it.

But...don’t be surprised if all of the bathroom doors in the house are shut tight when the last light is extinguished this evening. Wink.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Take 5

Friday is all about taking five...five minutes, five instances (good, bad, or ugly), five memories, five reasons to be thankful for the week or simply grateful that it's over.

1. I'm most thankful this week that my amazing husband let me fall asleep on the couch last night. Yes, seriously. Best three hours of my week, hands down. I've not been sleeping consistently, so when I fell asleep during the second showing of White Collar at 11p.m., he sat next to me and let me snooze...until I woke at 1:40a.m. Although he had to leave for work at dark-thirty, he remained there because I looked so restful and he didn't want to wake me. What did I ever do to deserve this man?

2. I chose not to get groceries last night because all of the handicapped spaces were full at Kroger. All the close spots were gone too. Seriously, has no parking lot engineer ever heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act? Sometimes I wonder. It was one of those days where you feel every joint before a storm starts, I had Little Bit in tow (as usual) and needed a bunch of heavy items. I just didn't feel like lugging, trucking, and loading. I've never just gone through the parking lot of a store and left because there was no room at the inn, but it was slightly liberating. We had the basics (cereal, almond milk, bread, pb&j) but needed the good stuff. The items you use to make meals. I thank God my family loves me. A lot.

3. One of the caveats of homeschooling is the fact that it is difficult to reason taking a snow day when you do not leave the house to school. Sigh. The district has amassed six of them so far in our neck of the woods, but we haven't taken one yet. I tell the chicks that they'll appreciate schooling now when everyone is making up later. I'm not sure my Big is buying the logic.

4. The professor is teaching two classes this semester in addition to doing research. I miss him. His brain goes other places when he gets uber busy. I am so thankful for the fact that we are well employed, but when he suggested finding a job on a warm, tropical island the other night, I almost began packing. Then I sighed as I rejoined reality.

5. My eldest babe continued work on her solo for dance this week. I'm seriously in love with it. I could watch her and listen to the music for hours. She's done three lessons and is almost ready to compete with it starting in two weeks. I'm feeling large does of gratitude for the dance room we put in this summer... It's allowed her to go in and learn choreography in about three and a half hours total and come home and clean it on her own and given me the gift of not having to sit at the studio while she works. Phew. I prefer home to anywhere in the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Ditch (Part 1)

I've planned to do this post in a few segments, a little now and a bit later; I'm working on thoughtful consideration.
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Have you ever been in a ditch, either literally or figuratively? Were you able to climb out? Did strangers appear and lend a hand, or was it close friends and family?

Or...

Were you left, alone, just wondering if you’d ever be rescued?

I’ve never literally been in a ditch. We’ve had car issues of course, and I remember a few accidents and being “stranded” as a kid, but in a ditch? Nope. However, I’ve seen multiple cars in a such a spot. Cell phones come out and friends arrive. People stop.

I think that physical ditches are a whole lot easier to escape from. You might need a tow truck, but generally, you are visible there. Given aid. Lifted up. Freed.

It’s the figurative ditches that tend to do us in. The ones that people have no idea we’re trapped in...Maybe we’ve fallen there, or maybe we’ve dug them for ourselves. Nevertheless, we’re in there, and most likely?

We. Are. Stuck.

And it’s seemingly the most lonely and uncomfortable spot in the whole wide world.

It’s cold. Icy air sinks and is trapped by the earthen walls surrounding you.

It’s dim. Even though the sky is visible above, shadows come and tease with their movement.

It’s quiet. Sounds are muffled.

It’s isolated. Not necessarily visible from the road and to other travellers.

It’s where you are...alone.

Or at least if feels as if you're solitary. Dwelling on your own island. Having a "Guess I'll go eat Worms..." moment.

It's a horrible place to reside.

I've been there. I've actually looked my sweet husband in the eyes and with pure certainty whispered, "I'm drowning. Seriously under water. I need you to throw me a line. Poste haste."

Did I do this when I went into the ditch? Um....No. I hemmed and hawed and felt slightly sorry for myself. I'd convinced me *and everyone else for that matter* that I could do it. ALL BY MYSELF. It's one of my most extraordinary talents; ask the sweet man of mine. He'll tell you a million times over that I'm the most self-sufficent person he's ever known. My mom and best friend would say the same. I generally don't ask for help, I take care of everything on my own, making sure the house and kids and activities run ship-shape and on-schedule (note: say that in your head with a Brittish accent, it sounds so much lovlier that way). I figure, if I use humor and accents as a distraction, you'll be less likely to see me as you should in this situation. Full of pride. Without humility. Alone. Afraid. Not willing to ask for assistance the instant I went into the ditch.

Why? Because I was trying to do it all I'd put myself squarely in the ditch. I was making it about me by trying to prove to others that I was capable (totally not my intention). I was in the ditch because I was unwilling to see that I wasn't alone. The God who created the universe was there as well. I just wasn't opening my baby blues and looking around instead of just ahead, realizing that He was there with me.

Silly, eh?

The rest of my ditch experience will be detailed on Monday, after we "take five" tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sparkle

I've been quiet for the last month, mostly due to the fact that the holiday and travel in addition to school, dance, and real life was pretty much all I could handle. I'm working on getting back into the swing of things and figured when Sara needed an off day I'd jump back into blogging. Yep, that's how all the wildly overachieving kids do it...guest posting on GitzenGirl. Wink. I plan on being much more regular. It's good for the spirit, and reminds me that I'm something other than a mother and wife and homeschooler...


Sparkle.

Such a simple word; it brings to mind images of stars in the night sky, engagement rings, and bright, wonder-filled eyes.

Sparkle.

I’m taking liberties and off the cuff calling it a scientific phenomenon that was witnessed and documented copiously with digital images.

Sparkle.

It is what five humans are capable of doing when put together in a cozy condo for four glorious days.

We did all of the “usual” stuff...trips to Sonic for Happy Hour, a stop at Hy-Vee for soup and crackers, movies on the bed, filling the dishwasher, doing laundry, loving all over the white pooch, writing with a calligraphy set, and working on our creative flair with stencils and colored pencils. We opened gifts, sang, laugh, cried, and prayed. There was even fingernail painting and the two oldest in the house I won’t mention who is really the oldest and who’s the runner up managed to put on makeup every single day in case the camera came out of nowhere. I think we both secretly hoped it would.

The ultimate goal was to capture the moment and freeze it in both perfect stillness and absolute motion so our eyes could witness later what our hearts were holding now. I wasn’t sure it would be possible, but between the two of us Canon toting shutterbugs (with Jay thrown in for good measure) I figured we’d get a few shots. Golden memories that my camera shy sidekick would allow me to print and display.

In total, hundreds of images were amassed. Some were off center, others blurry because I’m still working on shutter speedand aperture and all of those other big fancy camera words that make photos pop. Sara’s, of course, were the bee’s knees. As I was going through the pictures on the camera and transferring them to external storage, I had a nagging feeling that there was something weirdly similar in all of the shots. I was tired, it was late, and I decided I’d go back and figure it out later when the kids didn’t need my help with piano and I wasn’t making dinner and correcting math and grammar homework and preparing Jay’s lunch and setting up the teaching schedule for the next day and folding the laundry and yelling at the dog to STOP BARKING NOW.

In complete honesty, it’s a miracle I went back to these photographs so quickly. I’m the girl who meticulously documented my first girl’s days, complete with date, time and location. Even if I didn’t scrapbook them, they were organized and booked.

Then came Little Bit, and it all went out the window. It will be a miracle if it ever gets done, but that’s a post for another day
.
Hence, back to the photos, and the similarity. At first glance as I paged through snapshots, the rational part of me was looking for the parallels. I noticed clothing, lighting, and location. That wasn’t it. Then, it hit me.

We SPARKLED.

Not in a new engagement ring sort of way, but in a full of love and joy and completely and utterly surprised in every moment by God’s wondrous grace sort of way.

I’ve decided that it’s the way friends look when they’re crazy comfortable with each other. How babes appear when basking in the love of adults who simply adore them. How a married couple seems when nothing in their life is ordinary and they seek to view every single day as gift.

Sparkle.

It’s what we did for the hours we spent together, sharing moments. I didn’t realize it then, but it’s what the camera captured in every shot. It was the moment, frozen in both perfect stillness and absolute motion. Forever paused, my eyes are able to look at what my heart captured.


Guess what...just thinking about it?


I’m sparkling.

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