Monday, November 2, 2009

the blessing of nature

This was a full weekend.

It was a birthday weekend, and a year where the blessings kept coming. They trickled in, were hinted at and meandered through two days with the grand culmination of a formal dinner prepped by our local chef, a French/Russian waiter serving and professional photographer documenting it all. A bit over the top, a bit overwhelming, A huge blessing from those who love me.

Thursday was busy with routine obligations and a missed the busy detour thrown in. My first cake awaited me- a great creation of pumpkin sitting in "dirt"- yum! Dinner was enjoyed at the mexican resteraunt nearby- Best Food Yes! they tell us and we agree. I think I barely ate the next day as the food was so good. Cake #2 was Friday afternoon snack as it was the soonest we had room for such a delight. A great appetizer for the dinner ahead.

My bear and I enjoyed a walk in the local woods... great predate activity. Nature does so much to restore me within. Leaves of all colors dancing through the air, grasses drying as they wave. So many memories of mine are connected with woods, fields and slowing the pace.

Friday night my love escorted me to the neighbors cabin where we were quickly seated by the matri di (she?). Sparkling bubbly soon followed and thus began the many courses... crab stuffed mushrooms, homemade french bread with dipping sauce, salad, artichoke, garlic sauted green beans and potatoes of choice. I thought the next course was the topper- Lobster! and oh my was it fun and delicious, but the dessert was about its equal- terimisu! YUM YUM YUM !!! all of it wonderful, delightful and a blessing. My children and the girls who children of our heart all served and blessed us with their presence and service. Matthew was our photographer, Elizabeth the su chef, Daniel our french/russian waiter, Bette and Jose his assistants and Jesse serenaded us with violin music! It ws fun to be part of both as recipeint and as bystander, hearing the kids work and play togehter in the kitchen. To enjoy their talents and willingness to serve others. To make memories together. To share a meal of such delight and blessing with friends who are as family.

What a day, what a night, what a birthday blessing. what scheming family and friends and neighbors... what a life. And the weekend was half over.

Saturday I reluctantly went to a yardsale, to bless my bear, I had other plans. Seems God may have had plans as well. We made a curiosity inquiry about a Jenn Air double wall oven that sat in the garage and were told it was free to whoever would take it away. we did a doubletake. (Our oven door glass departed us a few weeks ago and is on the slate for replacement (stove) when we get to remod.) we had talked about a wall oven. Free, 5 yr old, jenn air. hmmm... van ??? Yes, we fit it in the van and it now awaits our dreams to move to action. who would have thunk??? The rest of the day was filled with college grad for a friend... being part of the end of what was worked so hard on. And then trunk or treat...serving the community to help them have sweet memories of family time and the scent of Jesus in the midst of what can be a dark holiday. All good and busy and satisfying activities.

Sunday I awoke with a question of what to do- home or nature. I chose nature. After such a busy, busy weekend the idea of retreating to the woods seemed a salve for the harried life we lived over the past few days. We grabbed the youngest and loaded the van, and off we went. What peaceful beauty awaited us as we drove throught Tennessee countryside, walked on paths, pebble beaches and wooded lanes. We enjoyed the breezes off the lake, the decay of catfish larger than I think I knew existed, birds flying out of their wooden roost and dazzling us with their beauty. All of it renewing, bringig peace, contentment and a settling within.

So often I find that I resist going out when I am worn down. Yet when I do venture into nature I find that I am renewed. Maybe it is the sun, the breeze, the beauty???? Maybe it is just the tonic that God created it to be... it is Good!

Life returns to "normal" today... the cakes are about gone, one piece of tarimisu awaits in the fridge and the routine of the week awaits my engaging. I am ready, I have spent time rejoicing in the creation of my Lord, gazing at His beauty and resting on His day! I am blessed indeed!

Friday, October 30, 2009

resetting the clock

We went to the doctors last week and all was smooth, new meds were not a hit, so back to old meds and all seemed good.Tthen from upstairs I heard the word "seizure" up I sprang and trotted.

I missed the fullness, but was left with the aftereffects- bloody lip, 1/4 of the body not co-operating for several minutes, confusion and tears and then sleep... the sleep that erases memories. This morning no memories except listening to faithful Hank the cowdog while on a sleeping bag the floor. It was his choice of a safe place to be after the seizure. We were happy to accomadate. A good nights sleep and we start the clock again. We were up to 7 months without a major seizure- YEAH!! We press on, work on keeping sleep secure, fluids up and lots of healthy exercise along with meds. We do our part, the rest is up to God and his brain's wiring.

Epilepsy... something I thought to be far off... something i held in the back closet of our family, then the front closet, now some days it visits us in the living room or bedroom. Some days a companion. Often more like an overripe relative that you want to leave but you just can't figure out how to make it want to go. All part of the journey that we are on, learning grace, learning wisdom, learning patience and faith and trust.

Last night again I breathed a sigh of relief and my spirit a prayer of thanks for the life we have, the life extended, the briefness of the brainstorm that gave me a reason to trot upstairs and love on my son for a bit.

And so begins day 1 as the clock is reset.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where do you go to church?

A few weeks ago I would have answered this question with.... First Church.... Then I read a book that challenged my thinking of the definition of church. Somehow, I have forgotten over time that I am part of the church... the body of Christ. That the church is more than the building or a denomination or a congregation. It is all of those things and more, linked together and alive because of the Spirit of God, alive within the members.

Yesterday I found myself in a room full of strangers, all gathered for the purpose of unity and service. What a great gathering it was as I found myself among folks who were from many different congregations and those who attended no congregation at all. All were joined together to spend several hours loving others by giving of their time and talent.

I had a moment where I felt like the baton of my folks had been passed on to me. They had raised me to a lifestyle of service and giving to others, and once again I found myself in a place where I might serve strangers as I had done in my childhood. I felt like I had joined in an event that they would have chosen to be a part of. But I am digressing... from the morning events I walked away with a word to answer the question at hand. It was asked of me by a few of the folks yesterday and I found that it settled well into my heart as I wrestled with how to answer this question, which is often asked of me.

What congregation are you a part of? I like that, the question is not what building, as though that would define where I worship, but rather what gathering of the body of Christ do I worship with. That fits better my new understanding of church. For I am a member of the body of Christ, who gather together and make up His "church".

Today we awoke and put on "church" clothes, all set to walk out the door and go to "church". Then the phone rang and it became time to put on my other church clothes, the ones I am truly more comfortable in. Our neighbor had a water leak, in the wall, and needed help. So rather than worshipping in a building we lived life before the Lord with wet butts and laughter and spraying water. We shared life with a friend who has yet to understand the Life that was sacrificed for her. We were the body of Christ in the life of this neighbor and in our hearts we worshipped the Lord and thanked Him for an opportunity to lay our life down for Him. We did not attend a set program, we broke our tradition and elavated the needs of an unbeliever over our tradition of attending a gathering of believers, and it was good.

This is not all that different from what my beliefs were a few weeks ago. Yet as I reflected today of my heart attitude of serving the needs of the lost and starving, giving them priority over serving the "expection" of the believers around me, I know I may be viewed as radical. To break tradition, to work on my day of rest, is it ok? Could this work be holy? Could serving be worship? Can one have church on a wet rug sharing life with an unbeliever? I think yes, I think that what we did today is what Jesus would have done, and so I believe that today we went to church at my neighbor's house, and it was a great service!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If you go to Julie and Julia....

I feel like a character in the if you give a mouse a cookie book. If you go to see the movie Julie and Julia you willbe inspired by all the food and you will want to cook. If you open your cookbook you will think back on the movie. If you stumble upon a Julia related cookbook you will buy it......

So, I went to the movie, it was inspirational to me, has me thinking about cooking through a cookbook. I found that in the week following I was drying my meat so that it would brown, I was giving mushrooms space so they would saute better.The gleaned hints worked! And so I began to dream about cooking my way through a cookbook.

On Sunday I stopped at our local perpetual yardsale/ flea market and stumbled upon Baking with Julia. I opened it and the breads drew me in, crusty and appealing, so for $3 I had the cookbook to begin my journey. For the next few days I have wandered through it dreaming of the breads that would come. I bought my first bag of rye flour only to realize later that I did not have caraway seeds and it may be important, so since I am trying to be true to Julia's honor I will wait so that I may stick close (exact) to the receipe as possible.

Then I found myself returning again and again to this picture. I was inspired to try my hand at this crusty crunchy Potato Bread. The receipe was easy to follow and I think it came out well. The smell is wafting through the house, drawing studying children down from afar. The first hungry soul offered to cut me a piece but I declined yet when I went out to take pictures I found I could not resist, and yes, it was worth the work. It is crusty yet tender.

Spritzing water in the oven does make a difference, ice cubes on the bottom of the oven did not destroy it. Maybe the stone that it was baked on also made for a crispy crust.

I think I am going back to my past endevours and will again be baking bread . Bread is a favorite of everyone in the house and I just have not found the wonderful artisian breads that we came to love from the bakeries in NY and Germany. I expect there is a location locally that has them yet I also aniticapate that they are beyond my pricepoint preference or common travel path. So I will be playing in the flour again!

So, thank you Hollywood for the inspiration to bake and my family thanks you as well for who knows what will happen if you go to see Julie and Julia!

Academically challenging

The phrase academically challenging has hit a whole new level of meaning for me in the past week.

I have a son in college taking classes that the name I can barely pronounce let alone begin to understand what is taught- high level math and science classes... he strives to earn the prize of an electrical engineering degree. I expect he will make it to the goal but there will be blood and sweat along the way and so the prize will be all the more sweet along with the reward of a paycheck that could make life a bit easier. He has academically challenging courses and thankfully his brain cells process most of the information well, or he wrestles with it until he is able to make some sense of it.

I have a daughter who is also in college, her recent academic challenges have come in the form of learning grace and personal responsibility even when the professors are unintelligible. It seems that both of the kids have teachers who are of foreign birth and come to their universities with heavy accents so one of the challenges is to decipher the words spoken and attempt to align them with known words, not always easy. She tells me that often the teacher is spelling out his words as the whole class is struggling to understand the spoken words. She also has the academic challenge of learning that in college the syllabus is the guide and no matter what the prof may or may not teach you are responsible for the material presented in the guide. not an easy lesson after being led by the hand in high school.

Our next son has voluntarily signed up for AP courses this year. He "whines" about the work, we smile as we know the challenge is good for him. He is finding it academically challenging to keep up with the reading and studying. He is finding that the teachers mean business and expect the students to come prepared. He is rising to the challenge and we see it as a good thing as he seems to enjoy a life full of challenge.

All three of these kids face academic challenges as I have known them, that was my past definition, tough challenging coursework, above the norm expectations, needing focus attention.

This week I had a new look at the meaning of academically challenged as I began to realize the inkling I have had that this year would be a year of challenge came to fruition. Our youngest has had growing learning struggles. Not sure that they have grown as much as I have grown to realize how invasive they are. As the years have passed with his peers gaining in academic skills I have seem him move forward at his own pace. This year it is beginning to feel like the rabbit and hare scenario... one that I knew was on the horizon but had not come to fully acknowledge.

This week I am looking at it with the rose colored glasses off. This week the reality of advocating, intervention, accommodations and their place in our life has hit home. Class work that is simple for many will not be quickly mastered by this one, yet can be mastered in its fundamentals. I have come to realize that these are challenges that are to be faced, prepped for and negotiated. There will be need for prep for classes and extra study devoted. We will have to shift through the material and choose what is truly the important and what is fluff, leaving off the fluff as there is just not time and energy for more than the basics.

This week in the midst of the revelation and personal (yes, emotional) toil of my heart to face reality I saw God. As I again and again face what is and not what I want there to be God shows up to remind me that He is aware of the struggle and allows grace in the midst of it. I received a call from one teacher who affirmed some of the struggles and the reality that copying information from the board and listening to the lecture at the same time was not realistic. We talked about options and strategies for success in the class. Another teacher and I are in the midst of reviewing material to see what is also realistic and how to test for retention and bring success in another class. Both classes will be simplified and for this child that will be academically challenging. For another it would not.

Hmmm.... Academically challenging... when the child is challenged by the academics, to learn and get his brain to retain the material. hmmm, same definition but coming from the other side, I guess it is not a black and white definition. I guess I can no longer think that only higher level stuff is academically challenging. sometimes, for some people the simple stuff is academically challenging.

And so grace walks in... to accept each person where they are at, and allow for what is easy for me and you to be a challenge for a peer. To meet a child where they are at, accepting , encouraging and cheering them on as they wrestle with their own academic challenges.

And the Gracious One continues to shape me and mold me in his loving way. Again I find myself feeling like I am on the potters wheel, pressed upon and hugged as he lovingly makes adjustments and shapes and forms me. How different this parenting thing is when it does not fit the mold of the past children, when there are new situations to learn through. When your expectations don't meet with reality and there is nothing you can do but be patient and wait and live a dependent life fully trusting that God knows what he is doing. Ahhh, its that S word again, surrender. laying down and allowing Him to reign, letting go of control. So, I too am being challenged by academics, learning to let go and not place them on the altar of life as an idol but acknowledge that they truly are just a part of life and a stepping stone on the path of the journey.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Reflections of summer past

Summer is officially over, it is Labor Day, and so even kids in the north will be starting school tomorrow, if they haven't already, we've been hitting the books for over 3 weeks. As I stopped into the blog,I realized tonight that it really has been a long time since I have posted. My dear one is hanging around the saved swampland of the south (Florida) for a few days so tonight seemed a good time to stop and post.

The summer has passed with many busy days and a few down days. It felt like a different kind of summer as the dynamics of the family change with the shifting of children moving into new season. My son is busy burning braincells over Physics 3 and deciphering the accent of a prof along with working 20+ hours a week. Our daughter is settling into another local university to the east of our home. Our middle son spent the summer enjoying life, rescuing deer and waiting for school to begin again. Our youngest spent time working his way through metronome therapy, going to summer camp and enjoying a slower pace as well as some camping with Dad.

Now here we are in September, and schooling has begun again. The therapy that we worked hard on for 6 weeks has paid off. A child who NEVER noticed a joke is now telling us "you are teasing me", he is more interactive, aware and his reading speed has picked up. The 20 second attention span has moved up to 9 minutes. All this has delighted me as a mom and his teacher. We continue to work on learning struggles and life lessons that need to be taught.

The summer was active with canning... chicken, salsa, peaches, salsa, g.beans, salsa, potatoes, salsa, jam and salsa. Yes, we had tomatoes and peppers in moderate abundance, but not enought to can them alone so salsa was my default for a bucket of tomatoes and peppers. we are now blessed with a few shelves of canning jars, lined up and waiting for our appetites. It has been a blessing to also have a jar or two of homemade jam to share with those we love.

This was a summer of wedding travel. Our children are getting of the age where their peers are starting to wed. We traveled to Tennessee to see a childhood friend unite with her beloved amidst a volley of approval. (the outdoor wedding field backed to a skeet shooting range that just happened to be holding a shooting contest as the nupticals were spoken- perfect for a 'country wedding"). The simple wedding was beautiful and rustic, one that reminded me of our own wedding of 26 years ago. It was a sweet time as we visited with old friends and enjoyed the passage of seasons for our friend and her new spouse.

August brought us to the wedding of our "red headed stepson"- a favorite friend of our son and one we shared life with in NC. He and his bride had a beautiful wedding in a chapel and it was fun to watch the family rejoice and enjoy a day of beauty and joy as the couple sealed their commitment with a ring.

The trip to NC was one anticipated on many fronts- visit with friends, time spent sharing life with a girlfriend and the wedding. Life was what happened when I made other plans. My girlfriend had to leave town unexpectedly, yet I was able to spend time with a friend that was unplanned but was of encouragement to both of us. I also stopped by the place of fellowship one evening and had a conversation that left both parties encouraged to press on in life and loving others.

While in NC I began to see God in the midst of my travels in some very real ways. I was driving across town to visit my old neighbors when I noticed that traffic ahead was slowing, soon flashing lights appeared on the horizon. My cell phone rang and as I answered it, I found that it was my girlfriend, at whose house I was staying. She began telling me of her son having had a car accident. As we spoke I realized their accident was ahead of me. She was with her mother in another state and her husband was also traveling out of state. God was caring for their boys amidst a life event, and I was who He was putting there. I was soon on the scene of the accident and in comunication with the boys and caring for them in her stead. We are and were amazed at God's provision in the midst of the mess of the accident to have help so close by.

I made it to my neighbors the following day, finding it to be a blessing to sit in their backyard, enjoying their company and nature. My dear friend has walked down the pink ribbon path, battling breast cancer and as of now, winning. It has shaped and changed them, and given her a desire to encourage and share life with others who will embark upon the same journey. It was a sweet time of sharing life and longing for the minutes to stretch longer as we miss the sporadic chats we once shared amidst gardening. I have reflected upon the peaceful joy I have in the company of many elderly friends, a blessing I never anticipated as a youth, but one I savor as they come into and share life with me.

Along the path home was an exit that would have led to the homes of many of my husband's cousins. My son was anxious to return home so we decided to not call and stop in for a visit, yet I mused to my Lord about the possiblitiy of Him making it possible for us to meet one of them for lunch at that exit. It was a thought, a hope but not truly thought possible,as I never called anyone, yet we did get off the exit where they lived and into Arby's parking lot we pulled. Then my son said "Don't we know that person?" sure enough God had done it, my husband's cousin was standing in the parking lot talking on a cell! I jumped out and rejoiced as his wife came out and we enjoyed a lunch together. It was a sweet time for me as we had not seen them for 3 years. Life had been happening for them and I was able to hear a bit of their story, encourage them and now pray with wisdom for them.. Again, God had intersected our life in an unexpected way.

And not to miss an opportunity to speak of how small this world is for our God I will tell you one last tale of how he can connect people in this vast world to bless those who love Him. A few weeks ago a friend asked a favor of me. I was asked to search for and buy a homeschool book for her. It was a book she needed "yesterday" and so I looked. I found it on an online posting for selling books throughout the USA. I noticed a posting from AL, as I looked closer I noticed it was our local city. I thought of how it was a shame to wait on postal service rather than connect and pickup the book. On a whim I pulled out the telephone book and looked to see if the name listed was in fact a name. It was, and it was a gal who knew my name. I had not remebered her but she is a MaryKay gal. She agreed to sell the book to us, and my girlfriend picked it up that night. It was huge- as it eased stress in her life, but moreso because it was a way that God showed that he cares about the details of our lives, amidst the mess and stress, amidst the dissappointments and struggles, He is aware. A small thing, a book, and yet a big thing... connections made that perhaps are co-incidental and yet I chose to believe that it was the loving heart of our Heavenly Father that was caring for her daughter that needed encouragement and loving upon.

And so our summer has passed with moments where we have seen the hand of God, moments of life happening when we had other plans, moments of shared struggle and growth, moments of down-time and delight. I have risked my fear, faced th e canner and now it is my friend. I have slowed down and delighted in looser structure yet now enjoy a bit more structure to guide our days.

Perhaps I am back to posting again, not sure... Blogging is like getting a letter from a friend in the mail, a delightful way to catchup, keep up, inspire and encourage as we walk this path of life. Thanks for stopping in, may the month ahead have some moments where you too see the finger of God moving through your life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

pressure canning

A few weeks ago I found a DEAL on chicken, unexpectedly and soon I found myself cooking and prepping for it for canning. I have avoided pressure canners for years. My mother in law once sent me one and it sat until I passed it along to another brave soul. Last year I thoguht I found a deal on a pressure canner, only to find out that it was an unsafe model so I sent part of it away so it would never be used as a canner.

The spring came along this year and the request that I pressure can was repeated by my husband of 25 yrs. He desired for me to givecanning a try. I determined to brave it out and give it a go. This desire to please the mister was assisted by the discovery of a tried and true canner sitting on a thrift shop shelf waiting for me and my deal sniffing nose. I snatched it up, figuring that a used on had proved itself and would be safe for me to use. I outfitted it with missing parts and looked for an opportunity to put it inuse.

I began the chicken canning morning early and soon found the jars ready for the pot. Soon I had two canners moving towards boiling. The more I read about the process the easier I found it to be- put 1.5 or 2 qts of water into bottom of canner, put in jars and cover, lock and seal. Bring to boil, once steam escapes let it steam for 10 min. Then put on weight to specified poundage. Cook for specified time as receipe indicates. When time is up, turn off heat and let cool. Once cool enough open top- pressure will have released. Let jars cool on counter and when cool wash, remove rings and store. It is a step by step process that is fairly simple to manage. There is not LOTS of water to pour and manage as it boils over like a water bath cannning method. I am hooked now, I follow the steps and wait for the steam, then the timer to go off, then the jiggler goes on and before I know it the canning is done!

It has been a few weeks now... I have canned 13pts chicken, 3 pts chicken stock, 6 qts peaches, 5 pints of salsa and a pint of soup. today I took a #10 can of pizza sauce and divided it into 6 pint jars and canned it- cheaper than buying the small jars at the store and more convenient than the freezer, and if the door is left open , no biggie. The last batch of frozen pizza sauce became quasi italian taco soup as I emptied all the thawing freezer contents into the stock pot.

So... if any of you in reader land are fearful of the pressure canner, take the plunge and give it a go... it really is not hard. Hmmm, what shall I can tomorrow?? maybe more salsa as the tomatoes are ripening up nicely!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It has been a busy few weeks, lots of folks, activity and therapy. Amidst all that I have found time to stitch and quilt. Yesterday as I finished up a baby quilt I realized that I had hit quilt burnout- I was tired of quilting- my hands were tired of stitching. Yet as I write this in the early hours of the day, maybe it is just that I am weary from all the activity that our life has held.

We have joyfully welcomed guests, more guests and a repeat guest in the last two weeks. We have repaired a chimney, worked in the garden and continued a daily therapy routine that has promising results, some already seen. And we have lived normal life. I find myself falliing into bed each night bone weary, just too much living maybe??? Yet, except for the chimney repair afternoon I dont know that any of it would be denied given the choice.

My daughter is off on her first road adventure, and it was with joy that we waved goodbye, having enjoyed a few days with her friend sharing life with us. They will return on Saturday and we'll enjoy a few more fun filled days with Paula and her laughter and sweet spirit. More joy.

So as I finish the quilts before me, with joy at the blessing they will be to the ones we love, it is good to come to an end of some projects, good to rest for a bit and consider what is ahead. It will be good to take a few days a bit slower and then return renewed to home life and the activity to come.

off to kids camp we go

I am heading to camp today.... yet not. My son is heading to children's camp today for 3 days- should be alot of fun. Because of his medical condition sleep is a necessity, camp does not promote this with 10 pm bed time which equates to midnight quiet time. Not good. Our solution is - me! I will go, and provide a sleep space at 830 pm that will provide quiet and peace= a hotel room. Ahh, he does get the "good life", or spoiling as the siblings would call it. camp but a/c and hotel living!

As I approach this event it is with an bit of uncertainty, how do I as a Mom check in and monitor yet give him space to just be a camper. How will my days be filled?? will I be needed to "work" in some reguard or will they be days of ease, reading and vacationing for me??? Many unknowns, yet I will be in a new place, I will have my van and the freedom to travel to check out local spotlights if I wish, soI am sure it will all be fine.

A new adventure, a new approach- making adaptions to allow for a common childhood event - summer camp- but with a bit of creativity to meet the needs of our child's medical needs. Let the adventure begin....

Monday, May 18, 2009

water, an element that continues to visit us within

We had plans for some work on the house, not fun stuff, but rather needful stuff. It was to be next week... but life happens when you make other plans.

Friday as Paul and I enjoyed b'fast on the "veranda" our wise siding guy arrived. He also does roofing work, which has been a blessing to us. He came for one purpose but soon was busy with us to determine the source of the elusive roof leak.

Last week Tim came and we watered down the chimney and then the siding. It appeared that it was a siding issue as I found water in a small hole I cut in the drywall next to the chimney as he sprayed water on the siding. We did not give consideration to the reality that there had been water on the roof first.

Friday the guys began at the siding- giving it a good pounding of water, with no water coming in. By this point- 5 months since the first leak, we are well ready for the source to be found. Paul took my 1 x 2 inch hole and cut away the drywall up to the ceiling and then part of the ceiling drywall to allow access into the space above for greater visablity.

Water is then introduced above on the roof. Suddenly it is coming in. then it stops and again it is coming down. Further examination helps to narrow the leak. It is back to a roof issue, a flashing issue it appears. We contact the roofing company- they will be out to relook later this week. I am sure they are not pleased by our cutting as it also has revealed black mold and will increase the repairs that need to be done. We are just ready to stop looking up when it rains.

Water, water, water so seems the theme of this season. Friday afternoon I wanted to get the shower that did not come that morning as we tore into the roof. The hotwater heater decided, once again, to not play. After 20 hash marks on the "we can get to 1,000 marks" chart (Ebeth's lighthearted way of dealing with frustration) we decided that maybe it had given up the ghost.

I cashed in on open door offer of neighbors, returning clean and refreshed to a house with no hotwater heater on the wall again. Paul decided that today was the day to begin, not next week. That night he picked up plumbing supplies and Saturday turned into a plumbing marathon. 13 hours later he had rerouted the plumbing lines, installed a sediment and scale filter and the new hot water heater has fired up. We have cooed, prayed and cheered it on. We hope that this is the one that wil stay and serve the house well.

We so often take things for granted- hot water, dry ceilings.... they are not taken for granted so much these days. We are grateful for the provisions of the companies that have returned again and again, grateful for their ongoing striving to make it all right. Many days we are weary in the journey, yet press on knowing that it is a season and it too shall pass and one day we will look back from this time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

T-tapp update

I awoke this morning thinking of conversations i had yesterday with two friends. Both have begun to t-tapp and both are finding results. One found 2" weight loss and 1 pant size change in a weeks time. The other was not so specific with her feedback beyond how it is a workout and she is feeling better and finding her body changing.

It has been 6 weeks since I wrote about t-tapping. 7 weeks since I began. I had an unexpected week off due to technical difficulites, otherwise I have maintained my routine of t-tapping twice a week or more since then. for me that is huge as I have not routinely exercised in years beyond a few months of jogging in NC.

I still have not tracked well my measurement changes, beyond the pounds on the scale- which I tend to avoid. The reality is that I am switching from flab to toned muscle so the numbers have gone up slightly. Yet the other reality is that I feel tighter within, there is a change that is slowly going on from the inside out. I expect one day to find that the upper arms are going to be well defined where now they are just starting to be defined. Makes me wish I had taken the before pics for an objective mark of where I began. I sense changes but the pics would be proof positive.

The other change I am noticing is that my left thigh,which has always had a greatly diminished muscle on the inner top side seems to be changing. I don't know if over time it will develop fully, but just knowing that it is developing has given me further motivation.

So, I keep on the 15 min workout. Loving that I moving and continuing to feel energized, that if my body gets creaky I spend a short time moving and I am aligned and no longer in pain and creaky. That in a simple way I am achieving a goal that i never thought I could achieve as I am so exercise lazy- yet it was through a simple routine that good changes have come.

So, if you long for a do-able exercise routine and dont want to have to kill yourself to get real change give t-tapp a try. One friend had been following some kind of video and sweating away with no change. she made the switch and found there was a dramatic difference in the outcome. i dont understand the why, i just know it is different and productive. is where a wealth of information can be found. I am off to do some hoe downs and today I may begin to learn the walking workout, I am feeling like its time to challenge my body a bit more.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The stone is passed

Last night after months of waiting my daughter received word of a scholarship being granted her for her school of choice. This was not the typical- submit your scholarship application and receive word journey. It was a journey of faith, perseverence and a bit of nagging. All cemented together with prayer.

In October of last year she submitted her application and essay. Within a week she received word that part of it was missing, so she resubmitted her paperwork. By January she called to see if any decision had been made as she hoped to start college midyear. She was told that the commitee had not met yet. So the waiting began as she worked a full time job.

As spring approached she began to work the process of cementing her enrollment. She made several inquiries about scholarship status, all to end in no clear answer. As April began and spring was on its way she stepped up inquiries, still no clear answers. As the closing of April came I began to wonder at the lack of clear communication of any sort. I made a few inquiries and at last we found that her scholarship application had turned up MIA. She went to campus and we were grateful to find that her scholarship essay was in her file with the Oct 08 stamp receival date upon it.

More perseverence was still required as she met with, emailed and submitted more paperwork and chased trails for any scholarship posiblity as most of the funds had been granted at this point. We prayed, asked God for provision and waited. yesterday word was given that she will recieve full tuition and fees scholarship.

What does this have to do with stones?? At first glance not much, yet in our family we have stones that symblize times of faith testing or provisions of God. As I received the news of this season of waiting and the wonderful provision I knew it was an "Ebenezer stone" time. I sat down and made a stone for the scholarship and one for her job- as her first job kind of "fell from heaven". As she came home I showed them to her, acknowledging that she has begun her own walk of faith journey and this was one of the stepping stones of that journey.

Walking by faith, not easy, not fun, but the scenery is memorable, the lessons indelible. Watching her walk, seeking prayer from others and living dependent upon the Lord has been a joy to behold. It has been a week of surrender and calling out to God- sometimes to get a quick answer, sometimes to continue to wait and persevere.

Sam lost his treasured Leatherman, searching availed it not, so we talked and prayed. Then I questioned him a bit more and soon we found it- chance, perhaps, but maybe just the beginning of God allowing him to learn to seek Him in the midst of his need. For Ebeth it was perseverence and patience as well as alot of footwork. Not easy, not fun, often frustrating, but in the end there was a blessing.

What a joy to watch our children learn to live by faith!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

wet weekend

Its been rather wet in Toney this weekend. Thankfully it has all stayed outside if you dont count what we have tracked in on our feet. That is right, it seems that the roof is fixed, not sure where the leak originated or which glob of caulk sealed it but the water is no longer invading the room upstairs- YEAH!!!!

It has been a weekend of rest as the end of the week was a "life is what happens when you make other plans" kind of days. Our dear neighbor had a virus that seems to have caused dehydration that seems to have caused her to pass out that led to broken fingers that caused much pain..... hospital.... doctors office visits....childcare.... Kind of the "if you give the mouse a coookie" (a children's book) scenrio but it was rather the illness gone wrong strain of life. She is now happily braced, drugged and waiting for swelling to go down and surgery to pin her fingers into happy places. short drop makes for big boo boos! We found our life in the midst of theirs as support team. It was fun to be around 1.5, 4, and 6 yr olds. When baby chicks arrived on Friday Paul became chief chick sitter and it was fun to see the cute soft chicks peep their way into our hearts.

The garden is mostly planted. We have begun to harvest broccoli and strawberries- yum!! i need to think of things to eat spring onions with as they are doing great. The spinach is beginning to come up as are the beets so in a few weeks they will be ready to enjoy. I built three new boxes and have planted in two of them. I will be taking the cucumbers and squash verticle this year- no longer allowing them to run rampant over the ground. I am hoping to focus the cuc's energy on fruit and less on vine this year- we'll see how it goes. It looks like the peach tree and grape vines are settling into life in the side yard. I have put in enough flowers that I now need to keep away from Lowe's - my favorite place to go for deep discount, rescue me before I die plants. so cheap its hard to say no, but I will try.

We helped out a co-worker of Paul a few weeks ago. He had surgery and had not gotten to the spring cleanup of the yard. The Team Varian swept in and groomed it into manageable shape. Amidst that morning of activity came the lesson of "dont overplant" - thinking forward to what is truly manageable in terms of flower beds and plant maintance for the golden years of life. I think I am there about where I am at. I have been adding small perrenial beds around bases of foundation and fencing but I think it may be time to stop. There gets to be a point of too much and if I am not careful I may hit it. At present the ivy that swarms the front bed feels like too much, but I have been reluctant to roundup the vines- it may yet occur, just to keep ahead of the growth.

This year is a bit different here, the last two were drought kind of years, this one is not, at all. We shall begin to truly see the growth potential of the land here. My hydrengas may actually bloom and all the small ones i transplanted last year may grown up a bit. Exciting and scary at the same time. Already I am seeing where plants will be a bit crowded, but I am getting less and less leary of being a transplaner. I guess I have begun to "own" my home and gardens. The sage bushes were moved out of the herb garden - I dont like sage- and relegated to ornamental bush. I have moved in some daisies as I love that flower and would like to enjoy some cut flowers among the herbs.

So as the cool weather makes the green vibrant outside I am enjoying a leisurely Sunday. I spent the afternoon out with my daughter- a blessing to enjoy her company and she seems to reflect the same. Now a quiet evening of quiliting and looking forward to the week ahead. I am thankfull for the slower pace that wet weekends bring to us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

blog slacking

I was visiting an old friends blog and saw the term blog slacker, and thought, yup that has been me. Life has been happening- seems it often gets in the way of glorious creations, elaborate plans and dreams that seeem so great, until reality shoves its way into the bubble of dreamland.

This week has been one of bouncing fevers. Our son started Saturday morning flopping on the stairs, the bathroom floor and holding his head- he was NOT well- ("faking it" said one sibling- NOT said mom). Fast forward a few hours, cleanup of the erruption that followed and we had one sick kid on our hands, but by noon all looked good. And so began the roller coaster ride of this flu that wouldn't shoo. Temps spiked at 100-101, up and down they went. yesterday (tues) we went to see doc- to be safe, and were cofirmed that it looked like the flu. Today he is coming back to normal- a nice thing after seeing him lay his head on the island too miserable to eat dinner, yet 45 min later chowing down and asking for dessert!? the joys of rollercoaster flu!

So, today we ventured back into some books, but going slow. He says he is "55%" on the way to health. I am cautious, but rejoicing to have him back. It will be good to be back on level ground and no more rollercoaster riding.

It was interesting to me - I enjoyed having a bit of free time from schooling- finishing a quilting top while he slept. yet at the same time the house was quiet and part of me longed for routine. Other times as I answered the many calls for "mom" I found myself weary of being on call, feeling trapped on the outside as he was inside his flu laden body. A week of testing my selflessness- not sure I always passed. More of my mess reflected in the mirror of myheart.

So, slowly this blog slacker is re-entering life. Perhaps now I will also venture into the garden life and stop slacking there... I have big plans, but find myself slow to engage as I pamper my everpresent tennis elbow that I want to ignore, yet it wont let me and so i must acknowledge that I am not full strength and need to tone back my activity level from hyper to a bit normal. So, I may, or may not get extra boxes in this year, I may or may not achieve all I set out for. I guess in reality it really is ok to not do so much, but after being hyper it can be hard to slow down. So, if I slack, perhaps it is for my good, it is a slowing down, living life at a more reasonable pace.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the lightbulb went on

We were riding in the car, doing math and multitasking- math on the go so we could once again have food in the house. Once again I heard " I am confused" from my son. My first reaction was frustration at a simple instruction not making sense to him. Then the lightbulb went on.

A few weeks ago I was told that mini seizures were/ are/ have been happening in his brain, 1 sec blips that alter consciousness. At times I have seen them and nicknamed them the "one second pause", thinking it was a processing delay. No, seizure. At that moment the connection hit- the "I'm confused" may actually be my cue that he has returned from a brain storm, a minor one but one that has left him fuzzy on what is/ was happening and now needs to be cued in to present activity.

Another dot connected! A moment of "duh, why did I not get that sooner?" A realization that what I may be hearing and what he is speaking can be two totally different things. A moment when I begin to look at life from his seat a wee little bit. A blessing to me to understand a bit more of the struggles he faces.

So, slowly the lightbulbs are warming up here, the understanding of life with epilepsy and the many facets of its walk grows within us. Some weeks the light feels strong and harsh, other days we do not even notice that it is shining in our lives. Many times we are shaped with grace and mercy and compassion as we consider what our buddy has to deal with at unexpected times and for undetermined days.

In all this we thank the Lord for understanding,revelation, compassion and protection. We seek to be gracious and keep it all in perspective. The lite lightbulb is helping.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

T tapp time

A few weeks ago I attended a ladies retreat- all about keepers of the home and loving husbands well. In the middle of Saturday afternoon some ladies threw in an extra- a promo of an exercise system that they have been doing and finding great results in... in 15 min a day! It sounded cool, their demo and testimonies were strong, and the free DVD demo and paperwork were a plus. I have known that I needed to change something but the elliptical continues to gather dust and the weights just seem heavy and as beautiful as our neighborhood is I just don't seem to be able to motivate myself to walk down the street on a regular basis.

I was blessed to receive a door prize of a DVD set, so I came home and watched the informational seminar. The next day I was a bit sore having done a few of the simple movements shown. hmmm. I next began "boot camp"- learning a series of moves that were awkward at first and as time went by became easier. Now a week and half later, most are familiar and I am finding that my previously tight shoulders are loose. I am less inclined to rest in the afternoon and perhaps my cloudy brain is not quite so cloudy.

This morning I left "boot camp" behind and ventured into the full routine and managed to keep up. It ended with "hoedowns" - a series of movements that can drop glucose levels and burn calories- they get the heart pumping for sure. I was breathless and yet refreshed at the end of the 18 min of exercises.

The amazing thing about t-tapp is the testimonies- folks do only the 15 min of these exercises and in weeks have lost a dress size or many belt notches. Weight is flushed out as they bend knee, tuck but, shoulders back and knees over little toe to begin exercising. The lymphatic system is activated and the body goes to work to burn and stretch.

Today I measured myself as I am beginning to wonder if there is any changes going on... time will tell. I am not feeling quite so creaky and with the loose shoulders I am thinking something is happening in my 15 min a day of stretch and burn time. In general there seems to be a tightness within my core that I dont recall being there before. That and the fact that I keep going back and doing the exercises, I have not been this repetitive before on any exercise for a long time. Maybe its the knowledge that its only 15 min, not 30 min, or a long distance or, or , or. speaking of which, time to t-tapp again!

Friday, March 20, 2009

brain storms

This morning we awoke early in preparation for the days events. First up on the schedule was Dad vs #4 on the wii, then on to the computer for some Battlefront action followed by b'fast out at Hardees with mom. So began our day of early waking to sleep deprive our child so he was ready for an EEG.

What was last week a "lets see what is going on" scheduling of an EEG (monitoring of brain wave activity) this week became a timely event. Earlier in the week our early morning sleep in time was interrupted by pounding feet and a knock at the door- #4 was in the midst of a brain storm. A seizure. A short one but one that interrupted his life and ours for a few minutes of time. It was a quick one, unexpected as they all are, but powerful.

This morning as I sat in the darkened room and watched the lines jump and bounce I wondered at what I was seeing. Over the past year we have changed medications slowly, adapting to a new drug that seemed to bring control. Only to find during a fall campout while sharing tent space that our sleep was interuppted by the sounds of a new brain storm. Now spring break has again brought our attention to the ever present, not often thought about guest to our lives- epilepsy.

Todays' revelation coupled with the midweeek "brain party" as I had dubbed it resulted in knowledge that status quo was not enough. So I returned home to add more pills to the pill boxes and again begin on the journey of increase in hopes of stilling the storms and calling an end to the pauses that are more than a pause.

I am grateful for the time spent in sheltered workshops and group homes as a young adult, where seizures were seen and adjusted to. Those days prepared me to respond not react to what I might find when I enter a room where a storm is occuring. I am grateful to the calm that is peace in the midst of reality that all electrical circuits are not firing normally. I expect that all will settle and rest, though in the back of my mind I know it could take a while, I pray that it is quick.

I find that as I dialogue about what our life holds that it is a reality that I don't process in its fullness, but face it bit by bit, event by event. As I shared the timeline and history recently I realized that we have walked a path of much variety and variation. That the silent presence of epilepsy is truly present, no longer just something in the back closet. It influences and affects us and yet we work hard to limit the impact and to live life fully in the midst of its presence.

Months ago epilepsy was a back closet topic; acknowledged but kind of ignored and in the realm of denial. Today I am more welcoming of it, more accepting of it, sharing it more freely. I have talked with our son of the whys and how are you doings? that surround living with seizures.

I am sure he is weary of the unexpected, tiring, and extra parts of his life that come with being a keeper of the storms. It is part of our family life for now so we prepare, train and respond as needed. We pray for and thank God for our doc's and all in the health care profession who help us on this journey. We are made more aware of its hazards when it makes the headlines with hollywood attention, and we breathe easy and kind of forget when weeks pass without any hint of activity.

Brainstorms, brain storms- same letters, different activities. May your life be full of brainstorms and my your heart and head be full of compassion and grace to those who experience brain storms.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Seems to be a morning of reflection... a morning for writing and thinking, good stuff for a bit and then back into my hyper life.

I was caught up short last week by a comment made to me. "Glad you aren't bitter" it was spoken with sarcasm and I caught it. I was surprised by it. Stunned. And my heart was pricked. Was I bitter? hmmm, welll, maybe, hmmmm. I spent time reflecting upon forgiveness and bitterness, considering it, rolling it over in my mind and heart.

My name means bitter in Hebrew; Mara- bitter. I have known this for years and strived to not become bitter. I have heard bitterness drip from those around me. Seen the wounds manifest themselves in their physical body. Unforgiveness drives deep into the bones of others and the spirit of an unforgiving person is "bitter" to behold. I thought I was immune. Hah! not!

Amidst the struggles of the past few years, taking it in stride and facing each struggle along the way I have unwittingly given in to tastes and touches of bitternesss. The record player has played a bit long on the woes of the injustice, the struggle and the drama of our lives. I had become aware of the broken record sound several months ago and tried to turn the volumne down, pull the plug and lay it to rest. I have not totally suceeded. A continual battle is the struggle to give up rights to self, to justice, to honor.

And last week, my words spoke volumnes of the attitude of my arrogant heart without my awareness. Again, I was clueless, until the prick came and God gently shined a light upon the attitude within. Pride. A battle I often ignore yet fight in the depth of my heart on a daily basis. Pride. the right to rule my life, my self, my world. the right to choose my will over His will. The "right" for justice and honor.

Over the last week I have been turning such thoughts over in my mind. Bitterness and forgiveness, which will I choose to walk in? Oh, this is a strong will within. Excuses and explanations abound in my head and heart, justifications and explantions, any way to avoid facing this wicked heart and the reality of its ugly state. Yet as the days pass and God's spirit continues to speak gently within the words come easier and His healing comes. Grace begets grace. His grace reminds me of the depth of His forgiveness, and this helps me to lay down my "rights" and my mess and let go of my bitterness, my hurt, my pain.

So the battle rages on- the battle to be without bitterness, to let go. To give up rights and lay down my will and demands before the Lord. To walk in forgiveness and reflect Him both inside and out. In words and deed. The battle to surrender- to lay down my life before the giver of life, accepting that which He brings into my life. Not easy, not fun yet so worth the peace that follows.

Deaf to gifts of love

This weekend I am off to the annual ladies retreat for our homeschool ladies. A great group of women who care for the hearts of the women beyond getting grades in and blocks checked! Last year's retreat settled some questions in my heart and stretched me in new paths of faith. I am not sure what this one will bring forth, but part of me is a bit excited. I am sharing this one with my daughter and hoping she will find some kindred spirits among the many young ladies attending.

As I have been preparing for my little part of the weekend I have been reading The five Love Language of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell,MD. I am speaking on love languages and thought it would be a quick scan and picking of information. Ahh, is it ever so simple?

As I read over the chapter of the language of gifts this quote struck my heart.

"A true gift is ... an expression of love for the individual and is freely given by the donor. "

I thought about the many gifts given to me, the acts of service, the touches, the time spent with quality so I can fill up my need of for time deposits in my love tank and the many letters that fill my desire for affirmation and encouragement. I thought about my heart attitude in receiving the many gifts bestowed upon me and how I have received them.

When an expression of love matched my expectation it is joyfully received and cherished. Unfortunately when it was not a good match with my expectation I have not been gracious in my heart. The attitude was not gratitude. My bad.

I have been pricked this week to realize how much love has been poured into my life, but in a foreign language, one that I have not interpreted well. Sometimes I have figured out the message and in time have come to cherish the expression, unfortunately oftentimes it has come after the attitude of ingratitude has soured the gift and wounded the messenger. my bad. my sad.

This week I repented before my husband for my cluelessness in my heart of the hurts I was returning for the gifts given. My vision was all self centered- "what is in it for me" not what is he trying to tell me as he gave to me freely? When I scorned the hardware when I heard of the flowers- yet years later I turn to the "box of flowers" hardware box again and again in joy for the thoughtfulness and forsight of my husband for my needs. When I have belittled in my heart the gift of growing things that were given as I love plants, not thinking of how it was given freely and in love for my delight.

Oh how deceptive this heart has been in thinking of love as all about me. its not. Love in about sharing and caring and living beyond oneself. "Love is not selfseeking" (1Cor 13) When others give a hug it may be because they long to share their love with another. They may not realized that it is a foreign language to the reciepient. The home improvement that takes over the house might not be only an improvement but may also be an outpouring of lavish love by a spouse who speaks love with acts of service. Running an errand on the day its asked for is another way to speak "acts of servcie love". The card given when words dont come easy may be love shown in words of affirmation from another when he knows they are important to the receipient. When a child asks for a game or a book read, they may be asking for your time, your "quality time" to feed the need for that love language spoken in their life. And when a gift is given to you, no matter the size or value, taking time to value the heart of love that caused the giver to choose to bestow it is truly giving value to the gift- an act of love.

Oh that I would always have my universal love translator on. That I will always understand the love that is bestowed upon me and respond with gratitude and honor to those who pour out their life into mine. Maybe your translator needs a tune up as mine did. Check out a 5Love Language book at the library and retune your head and heart for the langugaes that bombard your life today!

I am now seeing the give and take of speaking love. Speak it from your heart, when able speak in the language of others, as you know the dialect. Listen close for the language of love in the words and actions of another and if confused consult the universal translator and consider the dialect spoken to clear up any communication confusion. When this is done the expressions of love abound.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

slowing down to breathe

Today I had a full agenda. School in the morning. Art class prep mid day then on to Physical therapy. After that pick up one son, then another and be on the road doing errands until dinner at church and then classes in the evening. Home by 830- whew! done!

All that changed about 1:55 today when I did not slow down, breathe and take my time at a stop sign. I approached the stop sign. I looked left and right and thinking I had time to pull into traffic as vehicles were only on the horizon I pulled. As I made the turn there was a noise, a bump and brakes- hmmm??!!! I pulled over, uncertain of what had happened. I had been struck.

It seems that when I looked right I missed the little red pickup that was approaching the intersection. The car I did see watched me pull into his travel path and his attempt to avoid a collision. He pulled to the right, and did as best he could, but did clip the back of the passenger door and front of the rear panel.

He was gracious and kind as I apologized and told of my lack of sight. It was a new experience for each of us; a car accident. We were both thankful for the lack of injury and apparent minor damage to our vehicles. we both drove away, shook up but uninjured. I, saddened by the cost of my haste, the hassle and cost of repairs ahead. A bit in shock over the unexpected turn to the day.

Accidents are strange... you know what you did and saw, and believe your perception to be true, yet the witnesses tell of other impressions. A moment before I had been contemplating forgiveness and bitterness, talking to God about a recent conversation and thinking about my heart attitude, yet also feeling the weariness of the day.

Oh that I would have breathed a breath, seen the little green truck. waited a bit longer. perhaps it was behind the trees and shrubs to my right as i scanned the road, perhaps i looked too far down the road and not near enough. i will never know. i do know that I will be much slower in pulling away from stop signs in the future. I will take a breath and pause a bit.

Just as I have developed my routine for starting the diesel truck- turn key, put on seat belt, start truck (having allowed wait to start light to shut off) so I think I will rethink my mode of operation at stop signs. Maybe stop, 3 breaths as I look back and forth, then pull out for clear travel.

For today, I am staying home. My active afternoon came to a halt with the unexpected trip on the way home. I am recovering from myself, content to stay put. tomorrow will bring more time on the road, more time to practice breathing.

so if you come up behind a red van and it seems slow to pull away from the stop sign, be patient, it may be saving her some $$$ and time in the long run.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

passing the torch

Today as I was telling of our banner picture, thinking of the season of joy its creation was filled with I realized it was also a season of learning. We had struggled with process management of the waste system within the house and found a reasonable solution. It prepared us for a conversation that came about a few months later. I was able to quickly offer a viable solution.

Greater still was the joy in being able to send an emmissary of help to another state to help the other family with waste management struggles to install a solution device. We passed the torch of learning and solution. It would have been easy enough to not engage in conversation and dialogue aobut the learning curve we have journeyed upon. Rather we had and from that conversation help and heath transpired.

Kind of like life, we all have journeys of learning- some easily shared, some within our heart and soul, less openly revealed. There are times that we quickly reveal the experiences, other times with reluctance. I have found that rarely is an experience that leaves a lasting memory one that does not have value to be shared with others. At times it needs to be covered with prayer and sensitivity, other times laughter or hands one application is the venue of passign the torch. It is in the sharing that I find the pain of the initial experience is validated and expanded to worth.

Funny how often God has used the humble things to reveal wisdom. Once it was clogged pipes to speak to my heart about my stubborn pride. Septic gas to reflect my aroma. Sometimes it is watching nature or the way of children. Other times it is the experience of another to remind me of how my past reflects that which I would be quick to criticize, forgetting my own nature.

I am thankful for lessons that stay and can be passed on to others.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why am I always surprised?

Why am I always surprised when God answers a prayer? When what we hope for comes into being? when it comes back as good news rather than difficulty ahead?

This morning I received a call from my sister in law with the great news of the sucessful surgery on a family member. What could have been majorly invasive and dibiltating was a fairly routine procedure and limited - ectomy. What could have been cancer was benign. What could have been crisis is no longer, rather a recovery. In all this I rejoice. I had not realized the weight of my concern until it was gone and the lightness within.

I am thankful for the good report, for the recovery without further procedures, for the hopes being given life. I am thankful that God was merciful in this unknown situation. I am renewed in my faith that God answers prayers and He cares for those I care for.

I like surprises, and I will continue to take them and enjoy the joyfulness that come with them!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Following a command

Today we put into practice a command of Jesus- love one another. It felt good.

In December we read in the paper about the tent village under the highway. folks had gone to visit to give away personal care items and clothing, many were enjoyed but many not taken as the folks wanted to leave the items for others in greater need. It was a quick view into the life of those less fortunate, those living on the margins of society. A few words of the whole article struck me. Firewood is a great need and hard to get.

Those words planted a seed. My husband LOVES to cut wood. Recently he asked about the freedom to cut wood in a nearby lot where trees have been downed and have remained. He was granted it and so he has joyfully started a new Saturday morning activity with the boys (whose joy does not quite match his), they cut wood, load the truck and unload. The past two weeks we have stocked our woodpile as we have begun to enjoy a fire in the fireplace.

Today the recipient was to be the homeless. We werent sure where they lived but we called the mission and prayed. The family worked together to cut and load the truck and off we went. A few wrong turns and we arrived at the tent village. Only a few folks were home amidst a dozen or more tent sites. Most had more than one tent in their area, all had a bit of wood alongside their burnbarrel.

Larry and Tracy were the couple we met. They helped to unload the wood, thankful for the bounty of it. The wood we saw when we arrived still had some leaves attached. She spoke of it bubbling when put in the barrel. Larry added a few sticks to the ashes they had going and was amazed at the heat it threw off and the rapidity of it catching. It is suppose to be cold tonight. They will be less cold.

They shared how they once had a service business- lawns, gutters, painting, then hard times fell and they are now there. Folks like us, living life, making do. We shared life for a few minutes, maybe the beginning of a relationship? maybe not? just following a command, turning a thought into action, logs into love, meeting a need, making homeless folks no longer faceless or nameless.

A good day, fresh air, perspective and a sense of an accomplished goal met. Larry and Tracy will have a bit more heat to keep them warm as the cool weather moves in. love in action- give it a try.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ebeneezer Stones

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying , "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
1 Sam 7:12

(Ebenezer means stone of help)

Have you ever had something really cool happen that you want to remember because it was a significant event?? We have had several times where God has done somethingin our lives that we knew beyond any doubt was His hand. We have enjoyed relationships that He has provided. Each occurance of His movement in our life has been worth a stone!

For years a friend of mine would speak about Ebenezers- stones of remembrance. She spoke of labeling stones to help us remember what God has done in the midst of our life's journey. It was spoken of yet we did not act. Then one day I was in the garden section of a store and there was a bag of polished stones. So we began our pile of Ebenezer stones.

First we tried writing with permanent marker, yet over time the print rubbed off. On to paint markers- they worked well and stayed even after handling. We began with a reviewing of what God had done in our lives, things that stood out in our memory. Each season has its own color in my bowl of stones, and each season has its own sweet memories. Lets look at a few....

Sunday Bagels- we lived in the city and every week we'd walk around the corner and get fresh bagels and enjoy them as a family hot and delightful- bonding us in the midst of a season of tight living. reliving memories from my childhood and giving my kids sweet memories in the midst of change.

Mom F Mozambique/ Atlanta - God took my mom across the world and back on a missions trip, in the midst of it, preparing her for a week delay in Atlanta and using this dear, sweet white haired woman to minister to a lady who was in jail there. A post 911 homeland security glitch that followed past abortion clinic protests that brought her life to intersect with another. He protected her belongings and was her peace in the midst of the delay.

new roof- read my past blogs for more details- God was seen in the wisdom of siders, the honor of roofers and the delightful provision of a new roof as correction was made to past errors- when many roofing companies do not call back when called.

Rusty- the car- when we moved to NY in 2000 we were in an accident in the midst of the move. My sister had a car that she was willing to sell us for $1000 and it ran the entire year we were in need of it and then we were able to recoup our cost. Rusty- the faithful car that was a God provision in the midst of our need.

Dedons- while in NY we were house hunting. The Dedons were the couple who were our agents. The couple who spent hours and hours with us looking. Who twice told us "sellers never do this" and graciously walked with us as we took those words as closed doors and walked away from potential houses. When we were FSBO gave us wisdom and support in the midst of selling the house they helped us to buy. God's provision for honorable realtors in the midst of an uncertain time and occupation.

First Church- our present home for worship. While in NC I heard from Paul that Scott, our pastor from Tenn, was there. God whispered in my ear "got you covered honey". And so we did not hunt for a church but settled here. Not always perfect, none are, but where God has placed us and planted us.

job at GE- when Paul was retiring from the Army he started to look for a job. A friend I knew from Germany PWOC was living near where we once did, no longer in the Army. I spoke to Leslie about post Army life. She talked with her husband. He asked for Paul's resume- and so the story of Paul's job at GE began. When we left the area in the 80's we never expected to ever be able to work for GE- yet in the 2001 season of life he worked there and grew in understanding of many things that have shaped into the man he is today.

the Rogers- while in NY we were blessed with many relationships. The Rogers are among the dearest- a young couple who shared life and faith with us. God's provision for friendship and family in the midst of body life.

polyp- ahhh the foolishness of the land of denial. I lived there from 1992-1993 and then it was time to leave. A few days after my son was born I was suddenly rushed out of denial as I reentered the hospital via the ER with a need for surgery and the fear of cancer looming. God in his graciousness had answered my prayer to face whatever was going on inside of me. He provided a christian surgeon to pray with us, a young couple with 3 kids, one who was still in the nursery at the hospital. He provided care for the family, a renewed sense of the love of a body after pain from past wounds. He allowed the polyp to not be cancerous though the surgeon deemed it the largest he'd ever seen. God spared my life, and I am so grateful for His love and provision in the midst of my own stupidity.

I can go on and on, but I will spare you all my stones... two more, hmm where shall my hand fall...

Herdas- neighbors and friends. We delight in relationships with folks of all ages. These folks are special as they have wisdom of time that we dont have. They are a double blessing as they bless our son as well- they employ him as a helper. I enjoy our visits and the sharing of life that they give to us. I delight that my children get to interact with "grand"people who have lived much life- as their grandparents are not closeby.

Feltwell RX NY- when we lived in NY - Ft Drumm we had neighbors who were in the medical field. For me that was a blessing as I cut my finger deeply one night- we were new and I did not know what to do, Paul was away, young kids in the house. He came and checked it out and gave me guidance. Stitches were in order. They cared for the kids until Paul got home. Later during our stay my sister, home from china, hurt her leg. Her insurance was good everywhere, but USA. He cared for her so she was on the way to mending as she returned to China. God's provision.

And so the stories are for each stones, just a few words to triggere a memory, a provision, a blessing ,a relationship. When life is overwhelming and faith is looking hopeless I can walk back in time over the stones of our days and remember how God provided people, stuff, life and be reminded that He is still God and He hasnt left me and forgotten about me, rather I am reminded to call out to Him.

So, if you have sweet memories and provisons that you'd love to share and remember pick up a bag of flat stones in the craft shop, get a paint marker and get busy... what joy it is to remember and to share our faith with others when they ask about your bowl of stones.

Thanks KP for the great idea.... my life is richer for it, as is my faith enriched by it.

one last memory-

Salad, sewage and sin- a difficult lesson for me in TN- amidst a small "rebellion" I was found out and God revealed bigger rebellion of my heart. I had been instructed to not use the garbage disposal often. I oopsed bigtime and stuffed some salad down. It was CLOGGED- as in cut pipes in the basement clogged!!!! As we smelled the stench of sewage gas and I cleaned out the pipe God revealed to me the state of my heart- stinky and clogged. OuCH! my sin - I had been running from it, again in "denial" and He intersected with my life to humble me and clean me out just as the pipes were cleaned out that day. The start of a major cleaning that has been the base for glorious new beginnings.

God is my every present help... of all my needs.... desires.... and life!

what are your Ebenezers? How has God shown Himself in your life? Enjoy the memories and know that they will grow in number over time.

Bill and Sharon
God sells house
Keith vists
memories with Big Grandma
Krista h plant sitter
Mitre job
chord wood gone
Sam's seizures
swimming pool
Ed S- NY helper
Toyota Camry
phone #xxx-2417

What a helping God he is!

Reading the Word

Last week as I was brainstorming with my bear about a class he would lead I remembered an event that I attended in North Carolina. It was a day of reading the Word of God with several fellow believers. What was different about that day was that we read books of the Bible, corporately and chronologically, out loud.

The morning started with prayer and a bit of organization of how many verses each would read in turn and then when we as a group would jointly read. What joy it was for all the pieces of a gospel to be put into order and connect. Slowly around the room, one after another each of us would stand and read aloud 6-10 verses and then on to the next person and verses. We all read along quietly, allowing the gospel story and message to sink in. Every few chapters all in the room would stand and in unison we'd read together.

By lunch time we had finished a gospel and were on our way through an epistle. As we sat under the Word we found the stories of Jesus's birth, life and travels connecting. What once seemed like individual stories were now part of the bigger picture. God's story. The same was found true when we read through an epistle- instructions for the early church now were not snippets of information but a letter to a group of believers facing struggles even as we do.

This past week we chose to lead the group in a read through the epistle to the Ephesians. It was a first for most in the room. As we read through the book we found common focus and the application of this book to our lives. This was a letter for building up the body, we are a body in the midst of learning to grow up and disciple others. For some it was a first to see where some of the messages from Paul were located. Many shared a verse or two that struck them. My verse was Eph 5:10 "and find out what pleases God" .

Hmmm, "find out what pleases God", part of me assumes I know what pleases God but part of me wonders how much I don't know. this verse challenged me to take time to investigate, meditate adn contemplate- lots of ating to go on :) . I have in the past asked the Lord to help my heart weep over what makes His heart weep, helping me to be tender to what touches His heart. In the same wayI am now thinking a bit about what pleases God. I expect some of what pleases Him is not what I am accustom to doing, so there may be some changes ahead.

Another stretch I experienced that day was reading the Word aloud. In the afternoon I did it at home, in preparation for the class. Then corporately, with classmates. It was interesting to hear a few speak of how they often read aloud- getting the Word through the ear and eye gate. One gentleman spoke of being hoarse from his reading earlier in the day. That has encouraged me, his testimony of his quiet time with the Lord that isnt so quiet, but I am quite sure quite contemplative.

So, next time you pick up the Word of God, try something new- read a book. The whole book, in one sitting, and out loud. You may find that some of the dots of the pages connect. Some of the stories are richer if there is a tale told in many stages. If its a letter you may well come away with a more complete view of the writers intent. At first it may well seem odd to read aloud, but if you are like me, its just a matter of getting over self awareness and remembering to whom you are reading and the delight that the Father will gain in you reading back to Him his love story to you.

Any thoughts? please share, until then enjoy a good read. I am thinking its time to spend a bit more time in Ephesians- try out a few versions and let it really soak into my heart. I continue to seek out what pleases God.

Thursday, February 12, 2009



The real truth about mothering is that it is the hardest job you will ever do,

and that you are probably less prepared for it than you were for your learner’s permit….

mothering is also the most costly investment you will ever make,

for it involves giving yourself lavishly for others,

filling in the deep wells of self-centeredness in your life with acts of kindness, care, maintenance, and love."

You will arrive, as every other mother before you,

at the end of your own adequacy.

When you find yourself needing your Heavenly Father every moment,

even as you are needed by your children,

you will be exactly where God wants you.”

Virelle Kidder

This is one of my all time favorite quotes. I shared it tonight with a new friend amidst conversation about dependency. I thought back to what has influenced my pespective and this wonderful quote of wisdom is what came to mind. I realized that I have not posted it here, and thought that I should as it has been a shaping factor in how I look at mothering, and how I have endured the challenges that have come my way amidst the journey.

each day brings new joys and challenges. Never do I know what the day will hold. Mostly it is joy- like the days I hear my 16yr old son who stands taller than I say "Mommy" and whine in hopes of getting his own way, knowing he won't. what a delight compared to the battles of the will / or will he nots that have occurred. Far too infrequently do i remember to go to the lighter tone and funny way of looking at his teenage demensia rather than my typical parental myopia. When my brain actually opperates well and I laughingly respond we are able to negotate the hormonal powerstruggle highway with more grace and come out with grins, or at least some churckles.

Todays delight was in watching my youngest instruct and share a game with the neighbor girls on the trampoline. They delighted in his participation and the power of his bounce to "break the egg". To see them all share life and joy together, what a delight. He has not been around many younger, so it is a opportunity for growth and grace as he often finds it awkward, yet today he did it well.

It was a delight to see my eldest helping a friend with an electrical need. I arrived home to an extra vehicle in the drive and they were working on a faulty something in a guitar. what a blessing to see your children living beyond themselves and giving away their skills to help another. My daughter is off volunteering tonight for a dinner for ??? but it involves dressing up and hopefully connecting with some likeminded gals and reaquainting with some she has not seen in a while. I delight in the thought of what that will do for her relational bank account that has run low in deposits.

Mothering, a joy and delight, a giving of self and a laying down before the Lord, entrusting them and the path ahead into His tender care. Not easy, often times seemingly impossible yet once done His peace walks beside and cares for and reassures you of the truth that He cares far more and loves far more than we ever could.

Blesssings to you mothers who are on the journey this day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The only constant is change

New years bring many thoughts of resolutions and changes in behavior. Sometimes we do well, sometimes we quickly fall into old habits that are so imbedded that they seem to be part of our nature. So also our routines and habits can be hard to break or shift. We get comfortable in our routine and the way we spend our time. We think we want to change, yet the cost of the shirt seems greater than the desire.

This month has seen a good deal of change in our household. One son off to school for the first time- from a class of 2 to over 2,000. Another it is a shift in classes and work week and now a three day weekend- yipee except it is consumed with studying. Our daughter has quickly found herself in the midst of adult life with a full time job- complete with questionable heating conditions and car having funny noises. today is my turn for a bit of change. I have been enjoying the extra free time that comes with only one student and no co-op. That ends today as co-op begins again.

And though I am teaching the same class topic one of the classes has rotated off and I will receive a new group of students. Change. It will be fun to share drawing basics with them, to help them to see the world in a few basic line categories and get them thinking that if they look carefully they will be able to draw what they see. It will be fun to reconnect with the class I had last semester, to hear of their holiday break and see what they drew over the break. It will be nice to greet and share life with the mom's who are back and the new moms.

Our life has had a few others shifts. We are now attending a leadership training class on Wednesday nights. It means eating a bit earlier, or leaving a bit earlier to join in the community meal that is available at church. It means an hour of downtiime for the kids as the parents learn. It means we have homework and live a bit more deliberately in our days to allow for the added class.

The most joyous change for us is that we are to begin a small group this week. We have long hoped for an anticipated the start of small groups in our church. We came expectant and waited patiently and not so patiently for small groups to begin. This week we meet the other "groupies" and start to share lives and study time togeteher. We hope that it will be as most other small groups we have been in have been- enriching and encouraging. We have friends from past groups still... they help fill the gap that living away from family makes. It makes walking on this foreign soil not so foreign.

So, on this gray and blue January day, a day like many January day I await the change that is before me with expectatiion and understanding... change is here, will come and go and be a constant in my life. As my friend Wendy once told me... run toward the goal you'll get there faster.... I am joyously moving toward the change today to see what the new normal will become!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quilting bug bit me

These are a few of my favorite things... reading, mushy movies and quilting. Of recent they have all been tied together. Over christmas break I took over the upstairs hall way to plan and construct a quilt. I stapled cloth on the wall and moved and pinned pieces until they were right. By the end of break I had finished the quilt top- almost twin size- my largest one in recent years. I had leftover squares so I went on and made a lap quilt and then casting my eye on other leftover fabric cut and sewed until a few more quilts of various sizes had been created. The movie time came as I sewed the binding on by hand- finishing my "hand made" creation.

I have realized that it is the individuality of quilts that is so delightful. I am too hyper to totally stitch by hand, but I hand cut, hand piece, hand guide the cloth through the machine and then hand guide it again to machine quilt. Most of the time I hand stitch the last of the binding on to finish the quilt. Each one is covered with love and prayer for the intended as I sew, sew, sew. That is not something you can get from China!

So the quilt bug has hit. I am savoring my free time to cut and assemble quilts... not content until the top is quilted to the backing and the binding its on. I have had conversations with gals about what colors delightt them. We have enjoyed dreaming together and planning a blessing for a loved one as we think of fabric and rooms that will be brightened by a wall quilt. I am jazzed as I think of the joy that will come as folks gaze on the beauty of color and and design. I have begun to see art in the quilts. I see personality start to come through. I see them as personal if allowed to be.

A relative saw my quilt pictures on facebook and so we planned a quilt wall hanging together. Her daughter admired and she too was in my thoughts when fabric jumped out at me. Presently one small quilt is done, another awaits time under the machine for quilting. I have put lots of thought into the quilt for my MIL, as she is a light color person , where I enjoy variety. When it was time to choose paint she suggested lavender, I went for taupe or burgundy. Contrast yet we have commonality. Yesterday I found her focus fabric- sky with butterflies and vines. lots of color, many of her liking an a few of mine- great for log cabin design. Most of all it will be filled with love and thoughts of her as I cut and create.

My goal amidst my quilt fever is to not accumulate tons of scraps, but rather to use up as I go and keep moving on to new projects and trying new colors and patterns. This past month I have continued on that vein. As I hit the MLK sale at Hancock's yesterday, looking at fabric, I renewed my resolve that I will not use fabrick I dont' like.

My thinking is this- if I dont like it I wont want to work with it, and I wont enjoy the time of creation. Quilting, for me is a joy and recreation, so I can choose to be a bit picky about what I do. So I wont compromise and use colors that really dont belong together. The batik that I rescued from a daughters failed project that was perfect colors for "snot rags" will not be making an appearance in my quilts as I just dont like the colors enough to work with them. It is worth waiting for the right fabric rather than devote time and $$ to something in a rush and then dislike the outcome because of color or quality being off. Hmmm, I guess amidst my hyperactivity I am a wee bit of a quilt snob wanting quality not just quantity.

I think my quilting frenzy will last a few more months, then spring will come and outdoors I will head. So I have lined up my projects for others and myself for a little while and the window is closed at present for anything else new. My brain is full and a bit weary. Hmmm, maybe I am a bit overdoing it????? Maybe its time to find a chick flick, some hand stitching or not and veg on the couch as I contemplate life with my feet up!