31 May 2010

Memorial Day and gratitude


Thinking of our soldiers who gave their lives to serve their country and grateful for their acts.

Pioneer Woman has an amazing series of photos on her Photography section today, all on the theme of "Coming Home". I encourage you to go look and pray for our service families.

Still counting to 1000:

0592 cool sofa cushions behind my back
0593 fine yellow dust covering EVERYTHING
0594 cool air through windows
0595 time without kids for a few days
0596 kids getting uninterrupted fun time with grandparents!
0597 grandparents who want to be with their grandchildren!
0598 repenting
0599 apology to friends
0600 friends to laugh with (with whom to laugh?)
0601 walking with my Johnny
0602 sunny square on golden hardwood floor
0603 sitting down with coffee, good pen, Bible and journal
0604 seeing young people get married
0605 I like a Sunday wedding!
0606 anticipation of getting kids back today; I wonder who is more exhausted, the children or the grandparents?

0607 unpressured morning and the quiet outside
0608 good time after church talking with a friend
0609 sunlight illuminating yellow glass vase -- brilliant!
0610 laughing at our own foolishness
0611 time to talk to friends you never get to talk to
0612 college friend - first beautiful baby for her and sweet husband!

0613 going to see TWO college friends today!

0614 grandparents and their awesome RV!!
0615 Theo's team finally winning a game! Yay!
0616 exercising til I'm really worn out
0617 Walter making lots of great catches in the outfield
0618 just like baby's first skin peels off, God peels back the layers til we are our real selves in Him

holy experience

30 May 2010

Draw your own conclusions

Another great day in Second Honeymoon 2010.
We were running late to church and our kids weren't even with us. I guess it's really been just our fault all these years. Eye-opening.
During the confession in church, I noticed that I didn't have as many sins all up in my grill as usual. Hmmm. WHAT is the connection here? My kids are away...not as many sins in my face...hmmmmm.
Then had a great time with a good friend. Talked about her upcoming marriage, her life, etc. Prayed for her. What a privilege.
THEN two lovely and brilliant friends from church were married this afternoon. I was the "wedding coordinator". It was really a lot of fun and everything went swimmingly. Beautiful bride, doting groom, gorgeous flowers, two supportive and loving Christian families. Oh, and the bride and groom BOTH graduated from Harvard a few days ago. What a whirlwind for them and their families! A great celebration on a beautiful spring day!

On another note, I'm sorry to report that the picture below happened yesterday. I'm sorry. I really am. You will just have to draw your own conclusions about it. And when you do, please be sure to tell me what it all means.

In the words of another famous blogger, goodbye forever.
PS I'm not meaning to be too flippant about the confession stuff. I hope you get what I'm saying. I guess what I'm saying is that parenthood really is the turbo sanctification machine.

29 May 2010

Second honeymoon


So John and I are on this second honeymoon. Only we're staying at home and all our kids are gone. It is so WEIRD. Weird, I tell you.

Yesterday, after I finished teaching, we went for a long walk around Fresh Pond. That's something we've NEVER done, if you can believe it. Talked about it, said we should do that...but never ACTUALLY did it. But now we have. So awesome and here are some pictures to prove it. There were birds and flowers and dogs and people watching galore.

Then we went to a movie. Iron Man 2. Not that great. But who cares, it was a movie. We got a REALLY GOOD DEAL on a big drink and bag of popcorn. Not. But we did sneak in our own Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, and dark chocolate M and Ms. So maybe it all evens out. Maybe.

Today, we watched Friday Night Lights on the DVR after we woke up. Then we ALMOST went on a bike ride. But my bike tire popped while we were pumping it up. Glad that happened at home and not 10 miles down the road. I was SO disappointed, I was ready to go buy a new bike just so I could go on a bike ride. Instead, we took three of our family's bikes to get tune-ups, bought a new bike for SOMEONE in the family (no, it's not me). Then we came home, got dressed up, went to a wedding rehearsal, had a fun time laughing with friends, went out for cocktails and now we're home. AND NO ONE else is here. EXCEPT FOR ME AND JOHN. It's so weird.

28 May 2010

Consider


Consider this, if you will:

Prayer is where I do my best work as a husband, dad, worker, and friend. I'm aware of the weeds of unbelief in me and the struggles in others' lives. The Holy Spirit puts his finger on issues that only he can solve.

I'm actually managing my life through my daily prayer time. I'm shaping my heart, my work, my family -- in fact, everything that is dear to me -- through prayer in fellowship with my heavenly Father. I'm doing that because I don't have control over my heart and life or the hearts and lives of those around me. But God does.
--Paul Miller, A Praying Life

Imagine if PRAYER was where we did our best work. Oh yes. I'm feeling the freedom.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is encouraging, warm, reassuring, instructive and has sparked in me a new hope, a new energy for prayer. God is so good.


27 May 2010

What we're up to

The grandparents are in town!!! Yippee!!! I am one of the MOST fortunate of women in that I love my parents-in-law and am so thankful for them.

They have arrived in their WICKED AWESOME RV and are taking the kids to Cape Cod in the morning. John and I are going to have a couple of nights to ourselves! I just don't know WHAT we'll do...

So the kids' weekend is starting now, and my weekend will begin tomorrow after my classes. I'm coordinating a wedding for some friends at church this weekend, so I'm hoping all goes smoothly.

I can feel the summer comin' on...
last summer at the rodeo in Taos

26 May 2010

DR Recap Part 4: Fairy House

Bet you didn't think a fairy house would be a part of a trip to the Dominican Republic, did you? Neither did I.
This is the beach where our driver, Giovani, dropped us off after a long drive in the van. From here, we took another short ride and then hiked for about an hour to Playa Fronton. More on that later.
But check out this fairy house. Mrs. Levy and Mrs. Utter were the real masterminds behind this. Mrs. Utter wove the roof!!!

This kid is a seriously good egg.

25 May 2010

Morning light

This was the light as I stumbled out of bed this morning.

In the winter, I always lay out my work-out clothes the night before so that I can grab them in the dark when I get up. Now it's already light when the alarm goes off. I can collect my things by the light of day as I go off to exercise (and empty the dishwasher and try to wake up and pray and make the lunches and think about lesson plans).
Those seasons, they really are different, aren't they? Duh.

24 May 2010

Counting to 1000 (continued)

A great habit for a Monday (even though this Monday has only got a few hours left!!) is to keep a list of gratitudes. Doing so has really changed me and I've seen it change others. I didn't come up with this idea; I'm just copying her.

Last Monday I came into my Spanish class of 5th and 6th graders and was greeted with this warning: "Preciosa is grumpy!"

Preciosa, if you must know, has QUITE OFTEN been grumpy this year in Spanish. She has struggled. She has wept. She has felt discouraged, despite my and other teachers' best efforts to bring her along, to encourage her, to build her up.

In the last month or so, her attitude has really turned around. All of her teachers have seen great improvement. But, as happens to the best of us, Monday mornings can sneak right up and make you REAL skellery (this is a word made up by Lucy that means scowling, grumpy, with a sour countenance).

So last Monday, as skellery Preciosa came into class and slumped her tiny frame into her desk, I came up and knelt beside her. The rest of the class was busy with their work.

"Here's what I want you to do," I whispered. "You can write this in English. Write down five things you're thankful for. Then let me know when you're done."

I went on with class as usual and circled back around to her after about 10 minutes. To my wonder, she had written her list IN SPANISH and she had included SIX things. And her attitude has suddenly and remarkably turned. She smiled with shy pride as she showed me her list. And the rest of class, she wasn't skellery at all.

My friends, this can happen to YOU! Think about joining me by starting your own list.

0566 only four more days of teaching!
0567 flowers are blooming all around
0568 two days in a ROW of running!
0569 Theo's profession of faith and God's grace in his life
0570 infant baptism (it's okay if you don't agree!)
0571 sweeping up crumbs
0572 finding peace in my everyday work (this is a struggle for me)
0573 drinking water
0574 the boys' room is CLEANED OUT!!! (quick, come over, it'll never look this good again!

0575 paying bills
0576 being able to pay bills
0577 Lucy's first recital; she had a really great class of little girls and fun moms!

0578 making prayer cards
0579 painting with Lucy
0580 getting our family bike-riding ready!
0581 John leading in the discipline arena
0582 community
0583 the sweet girls from my small group at last weekend's retreat
0584 I'm actually getting much better at making dinner (has been my nemesis for years)
0585 letter from a friend
0586 restoring order
0587 looking forward to dinner with a friend this week!
0588 when the boys want to hold my hand
0589 singing SUPER loud in church - ha ha!
0590 flowers in the median on an ugly stretch of road
0591 God's faithfulness to His church; He never lets go - of you or me either!


holy experience

23 May 2010

Day of Pentecost

From our church bulletin this morning:

God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of His Spirit to abolish it. Rather, He sent down the same Spirit by whose power He had dispensed the Word, to complete His work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.
--John Calvin

What an awesome morning of worship and seeing the promises of the Lord right before our eyes!

WARNING: The next paragraph contains some church-y type language.

In the first service, a precious baby was baptized and brought into the God's family. We hope for and expect the day that Baby Jack, when ready, will make his own profession of faith.

To me, the picture of a helpless infant being brought into the family of the Lord reminds me that I am like that helpless baby. God brought me into His family by no goodness or merit on my part. I, too, am weak, unable to walk toward the Lord of my own power. He draws me; He carries me.

Then, new members were admitted to the Lord's Supper. The best thing was that these four new members were four covenant children (baptized as infants) who were making their own professions of faith: our own Theo and three of his friends, Johnny, Selah and Kieran. What a picture of God's faithfulness to see these children take on a faith of their own and participate in the Lord's Supper for the first time. God is so good.

In the second service (which I missed), an sweet family of four became members of the church. The elder daughter professed her faith and was baptized. The younger daughter, who is Lucy's age, was baptized as a child of the covenant! John tells me it was quite touching.

What a morning. I'm so grateful for these visible signs (also called scaraments) of God's love and care for His people! Praise Him!




22 May 2010

Oh my


Oh yes. Lucy's first ever ballet recital is tomorrow. Today was the dress rehearsal. I've never seen so many sequins and sparkles in one place. OF COURSE, Lucy's class was the best. The most accomplished. I mean, they ARE four-year-olds, after all!
I LOVE this photo of the day. OH, are they ever girly!

21 May 2010

It's coming

First, I'm still working on the header (though I really haven't spent much time on it). It's really bugging me. Hope to resolve over the weekend. I know, I'm non-bloggy I can't even figure out this blogger thing. Sigh.

Also, I just thought I would let you know that I am really beginning to get excited for things like this:
and this:
and this:
and this:
and most definitely this:

20 May 2010

Note:

I'm trying to change my header picture (two weeks of Theo with the mustache is enough) but I'm having trouble getting the picture to the right size.
So, sorry for the blank space. I'm working on it. Also, friends with know-how, tell me how I did this before. I can't remember. Brain...cells...weakening...must...get...sleep.

Goodbye and goodnight.

These make me happy

I took these photos last June at Pike Place Market in Seattle. The colors make me happy and I love the memories of that trip with my oldest son.

19 May 2010

Judgment

I was driving angry. You know what I mean, don't you? The details of what made me angry don't really matter. The heart of it was that I was being thwarted. Things were not going my way. I was being wronged. And boy, was I right about things.

I could feel the ugliness of my sin. I had the impression that my very countenance reflected the ugliness of my self-righteousness.

Driving on a bridge, I noticed two grown men walking on the sidewalk toward me. One was pushing a grocery cart (carriage?) from a grocery store down the street. Thieves. Two GROWN men, stealing a grocery cart. Adding fuel to my fire, I saw that the cart was full of a case of beer. At 10 in the morning.

Sarcasm ran through my head. "Awesome," I thought. "Two able bodied men, not working on work day, stealing a cart AND getting ready to drink themselves into a stupor in the middle of the morning. Idiots."

I know, this sounds harsh. It was harsh; there's no sugar-coating it.

The thought that finally brought me up short was this: I AM those two idiots going to get drunk before lunch. I am a thief. I am a slacker.

I may not be hauling a case of beer to my house. But I sure as heck look for ways to make myself feel better. I don't steal a shopping cart. But I steal from my children when I'm angry with them. I look to control to make me feel good. I look to getting things MY way to get me through the day.

Sound desperate? You're right. It IS desperate. In my journal I wrote a quote from our pastor one Sunday: Are you crazy or are you desperate?

Why are you following this Jesus? What can He possibly offer you that you could not try to obtain elsewhere?

I feel it, friends. I am desperate.

John 6:68,69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

18 May 2010

A gift from the sea (DR reflection)


When it comes to gifts, there are two kinds: the kind you ask for and expect, and the kind you don’t ask for and don’t expect. The asked for and expected gift might fill a need or a want. The unexpected gift, however, delivers pure delight. Our heavenly Father especially loves to delight his children; He longs to show us gifts that will fill us with joy and wonder. On the beach in the Dominican Republic, I received such a gift.


The breeze gently lifted the tent flaps as my eyes creaked open. I had just spent my first night on Playa Fronton. My hips and shoulders were stiff from sleeping on the hard ground. I slowly turned over to find that my tent-mate was already up. How long had I slept? It felt like only an hour or two, though I knew that I had in fact been lying in my sleeping bag since 9 p.m. the previous night.


I sat up and ran my fingers through my hair. Time to show the world how I really look in the morning. Lucky world. I parted the tent flaps and was greeted with the view of palm tree silhouettes and rose-tinted clouds in the distance. Mounds and streaks of clouds kept the sun from view while soft air brushed around me. The waters of the Caribbean shone muted grays and blues against the clouds.


I found Mrs. L. a few feet away, resting quietly on a chaise. We exchanged quiet morning greetings as I sat down beside her. Had the sun been fully out, our eyes would have struggled against the glare on the water. As it was, we could comfortably gaze to the horizon. We talked of our exciting hike to the beach the day before and the wonders of the way: the ancient coral path, the strange and ugly fruits, the mountains of decaying coconuts and the exotically large leaves all around.


As our talk turned to the coral reef, hidden under the sea in front of us, and all its creatures, Mrs. L. queried, “I wonder if we’ll see a whale?” This was the season, we knew, for mama whales and their babies to make their slow way to colder northern waters. We had been told that perhaps, if we were very lucky, we might see one.


As the Mrs. L.’s words of wondering left her lips, an unexpected spray of water spewed from the sea before us, hundreds of yards away. Immediately following, a whale’s side flipper emerged from the water, arced slowly to the left and again submerged.


“A whale! It’s a whale!” we exclaimed as my heart thrilled within me. My eyes strained toward the place where the flipper had last been seen, hoping against hope that I might see it again. Had I really just seen that or did my eyes deceive me in the dull, overcast light?


Much to my delight, the same flipper appeared again, in the same manner. And again. And even again, up to six times the whale seemed to wave at us from his watery play. It wasn’t a mirage, it was really happening! A whale, we had been given the gift of seeing a whale. It was just for us; no one else had seen what we had seen. Furthermore, there were no additional whale sightings that trip.


Our dear Father had given us a special gift, one we didn’t even know that we really wanted. We didn’t ask for it much ahead of time; we just wondered if it might be. And because He loves us so, and longs to give us good things, our Father gave me (and Mrs. L.!) a delightful gift…just because. Just because He loves us.

17 May 2010

End of weekend.

photo by Clayton; the pond near one of the many baseball fields we tend to frequent in the spring

So it's the end of the weekend. And what a weekend it was! Two days in Maine and two days on the women's retreat.
Looking back and looking ahead, I want to pour back to God all the blessings He delivers.

Continuing the list of gratitude:

0536 end of year activities at schools
0537 Walter home from his class trip!
0538 Maine: the coast, summer towns, walking on the beach, dunes, candy shops and cattail marshes
0539 a free place to stay overnight
0540 cool spring air and open windows
0541 road trip! even if only a few hours away
0542 another road trip with another friend (a few hours away)
0543 coming HOME!!! I love home
0544 hugging my children tight
0545 snuggling up with my love
0546 beautiful, amazing weather for the weekend
0547 hearing testimonies of God's work in our lives
0548 looking forward to a new week (it's all grace!!)
0549 buttercups
0550 wild strawberry plants in bloom; fruit in June
0551 smell of sun on pine straw
0552 rocks warmed by sun
0553 finally writing my Dominican Republic reflection for school (will share this week)
0554 sound of many birds
0555 secluded meadow
0556 time to be ALL ALONE in that secluded meadow
0557 sketching
0558 carrots
0559 Lucy's new bedspread (this is Lucy)
0560 paella!
0561 Papa (this is Lucy again)
0562 Papa (I asked her "what else?" and she said "Papa" again. yay for daddies!)
0563 Jody Brenner (hi Jody!)
0564 inspiring school, principal, teachers and kids: King Middle School, Portland, ME
0565 recalcitrant student writing down 6 things she's thankful for (I only asked for 5!) in Spanish and that turning her attitude around!

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!
Stop by A Holy Experience to read some phenomenal writing and peek in on the gratitude lists of others. Come on, you know you want to!



center>holy experience

16 May 2010

I'm baaaaaack!


I'm back from all my adventures and so glad to be home. The seminar in Maine was so inspiring. The women's retreat was refreshing and fun and I'm so thankful for it.
Thanks to my sweet husband for holding down the fort AND for guest blogging for me in my absence. Though, after John's two posts, I'm a little afraid that he may upstage me. He can't be funnier than I am!!!
I'll write more about the retreat this week.
Multitude Monday coming in the morning! Good night!

15 May 2010

The era of the flat-brim hip hop hat has begun in our house (brought on by Walt's trip to D.C.). Lucy started her day by trying it on for size.

The day ahead would require a little carbing up on some waffles.


...with some grade A amber New England maple syrup.


It was great to start the day having breakfast with Walter. We missed him!


Clay's game was well under way by the time I got everyone out of the house. Here he is, fresh off a single.


Best. Team. Sponsor. Ever.


Lucy picked up some paint sample cards at Home Depot.


The fridge before I cleaned it out.


...after the clean-out.


Lots of time in the van today.


The opening of a new pet store in Arlington Heights featured the biggest balloons we've ever seen.


I figured I would pay Clay's team sponsor a visit (even though I bought my steaks at Costco earlier that day).


Theo's friend Carlos came by for a play date.


Eventually, beer-thirty rolls around.


Theo and some friends went down to the Five and Dime, where he picked up this sweet candy necklace.


A great soundtrack for getting ready for some time on the grill.


Food porn.


Unsure about whether Lucy would go for the ribeyes, I made a back-up batch of Mac-n-Cheese.


I also managed to install a new toilet seat today (with cutting edge "whisper close" technology).


That's just beautiful.


My friend Christian came by, along with his dog Ringo who made fast friends with some of the neighbor kids.


More kids from the 'hood...


Miles putting his light sabre to use.


Smoke.


My friend Christian in sfumato silhouette.


The results.



Theo sporting the new shirt his brother got for him in D.C. He also managed to pick up smoking while Kit was gone.


A little TV time at the end of a long day.


The day went a little too long for some of us.