27 February 2011

Love constraining to obedience

There is an old hymn I know that's been set to new music.
The last two verses as well as the chorus express so well my struggles and my thoughts of late.


 How long beneath the Law I lay
In bondage and distress
I toiled the precept to obey,
But toiled without success.

Chorus: To see the Law by Christ fulfilled,
To hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child
And duty into choice.

 Then to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do
Now if I feel its power within
I feel I hate it too.

 Then all my servile works were done,
A righteousness to raise
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways.
(William Cowper)

Changes a slave into child; changes duty into choice.  To freely choose His ways because I am constrained by love.  To obey because I am loved, I am delighted in, I am a daughter, not an orphan, not a slave. 
Oh Lord, help me live like your daughter who is free to choose Your ways, free to live into who I truly am.
Just a few of my thoughts this Sunday.  See you tomorrow!

25 February 2011

Friday

Friday, the last day of February vacation.  
Lucy was sick in the night and so felt quite puny this morning.  And I was tired from being up with her.
It's funny how once all your children sleep soundly through the night you really get used to uninterrupted sleep.  I've really wimped out in the sleep department in the last few years.
Lucy and I had a quiet day of watching "Angelina Ballerina" on Netflix and I did some housekeeping.  John and the younger boys went to the movies and Walter...well, he went to school.
Please don't feel too bad for him.  When he has school break in March, we're shipping him to Arizona (I'M SO JEALOUS!  HE'S GOING TO MY HOMELAND WHERE IT'S SUNNY AND WARM EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!).
But I digress.


Anyway, today the winter was really getting me down.  I could not get warm all day, and the drear darkness of rain (and now snow) really had me pining for warmth and sun.  

Let's travel back in time to this week last year when I was here:
That's Playa Fronton in the Dominican Republic. Sniff.   

Oh yes.  While we're on the topic, let's just remember times of warmth, shall we?  Perhaps even remembering being too hot will help.
Family Reunion in Texas two summers ago.  That was hot.  Too hot.  We all would have expired if not for that pool.

Floating down the Rio Grande.  That was hot.  Sunburn city for my pale little children.

And the beach in New England.  Not too hot.  Just right.
Okay.  I feel better now.  How about you?  There is sun out there somewhere and it SHOULD show up sometime here.  In June.
I think I can make it.
Happy Friday!

24 February 2011

Out and about

Or for my Canadian friends, "oot and aboot".

Today we went tooling around our old stomping grounds on the North Shore.  We took a good friend with us.  "Big" Meghann has been in our lives since Clayton was a teeny tiny scrunched-up baby.  She came over when I went into labor with Theo.  She and her roommates used to come over EVERY Sunday night for dinner and to watch "Alias" with us.  And not many beautiful women would be able to graciously carry the nickname "Big" anything, don't you think?  We love her!











23 February 2011

A lot to do

It's winter vacation week and Theo has a lot to do.
Yesterday morning he gave me a run-down of what he "had to do" before lunch:
1.  Throw the football into the couch a few times.
2.  Ask you a million times if we're going to New York.
3.  play Wii Fit Plus.
4.  download a song in itunes
5.  load songs onto the ipod shuffle
6.  ask you a million times if the ipod can be mine

Then after lunch he planned the following:
1.  ask if I can go to Matthew's house with a Wii remote
2.  go to Matthew's house and play Mario Cart
3.  ask you a million bazillion times if you can sign me up for lacrosse

He set right in on the plan by throwing the football into the couch a few times.  Then, after he asked me three times if we could go to New York, he said, "Mom?  When I said a 'million times' I was exaggerating.  If I really did that, it would take up all my time."
Yes, it would.  And it would drive me bonkers.
*******

Later we were looking up Chuck Norris jokes online.  I warned the boys that we need to be careful what websites we look at because some of them might have bad words on them.
Lucy piped up, "Well, I can look at those words because I can't even read!"  Hee hee!

 

21 February 2011

More than 1000 gifts

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:32

I've always loved the comfort of that verse.  I love that Jesus calls us His "little flock".  It shows His tenderness toward us, His regard for our weakness.  I love that He tells us not to be afraid; He knows how tempted we are to fear, just like sheep.  I also love that it is the Father's "good pleasure" to give to us.  He wants to do it, it pleases Him.
But what exactly does it mean that the Father wants to give us the kingdom?  In the very next verse, Jesus says, "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide for yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (vv. 33, 34).
God's giving us the kingdom may not look like much to the world.  In gaining the kingdom, we are to lose all that seems valuable.  But we are not to be afraid of giving away all that we have.  We are to find our treasure in God's kingdom, in His economy.
This keeping of the list is a step, a way to find our way in God's economy.  May my circumstances never hinder my ability to write here the ways I see His love.

I invite you to join with Ann and many, many others today at Holy Experience.

#1211 - 1225

* gift of firewood from friends
* grace to cover all my sins and all of our sins
* cleaning the kitchen
* just trusting God with scary things
* remembering our children aren't really ours
* seeking wisdom
* the glory of singing together in church and having to plant my feet firmly, afraid I might swoon with the swelling sounds
* God's strong words; at the end of the Scripture reading lately I've choked out "Thanks be to God" because the words are too much.  Am I really thankful?
* taking a HUGE chunk of Jesus at the Lord's supper
* friends who are committed to loving our children
* being outside

* being outside together
* when the heat comes on in the late afternoon
* the snow banks melted enough so that we can see when we back out of our driveway now!
* oldest son baking his very own cake; that's the beauty of being grounded from screens

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel
- Anne Steele
   


Sunday afternoon hike

Yesterday afternoon we went for a walk in some hidden woods in our town.  
There's a pond for skating and lots of rocks for climbing.  It was great to be all together, great to be outside, great to admire God's creation.
This morning it's snowing again.











19 February 2011

Saturday

You like that title, don't ya?  Creative.

Today we're forcing two boys to get haircuts.  Here's how one boy is protecting himself.  He says he's now "haircut-proof".

 At least he's smiling, right?  Actually, now he's come to terms with the fact that the haircut will happen and he's asking for a mohawk.

We'll see what happens.

On another happy note, John and I get to GO ON A DATE tonight.  It's been months since we went out just us.  Not good.  But we have a VOLUNTEER babysitter (hooray!  hooray for S. Lints!) and I'm so excited.

OH, on another completely unrelated and random note, the Arizona Wildcats had a great basketball recruiting year.    Good news, good news.  It's all coming together, isn't it?

Now go have a great Saturday!

17 February 2011

Wisdom

This afternoon I accidentally dumped a bag of salt on the kitchen floor.
"Oh!" I exclaimed to no one in particular.  "Look what I did!"

Clayton, aged 10, looked over and quipped, "When that happens to me, I just deal with it.  You can't change your circumstances."

Blink.  Blink.  You're 10?

Thanks for the wisdom, son.

Weakness



This post is the follow-up to why my husband forced me to watch an instructional video on how to wield a knife.

Several nights ago, like an idiot, I sliced a chunk of my finger with a very sharp kitchen knife.  In a rush, I quickly rinsed it, applied pressure and then strapped two band aids on - tight.  Truth be told, it freaked me out a bit and I didn't want to look too closely.


When I went to bed, my finger began to throb, so much so that I couldn't sleep and I began to worry.  Finally, after a few hours of increasing pain, tossing, and watching infomercials, I had the brilliant idea that just maybe the band aids were too tight and were making it hurt more than the actual wound.

Gingerly, with trepidation, I began to unwind the sticky plastic and stopped.  It hurt and I was scared.  The band aid was stuck to the bloody patch and I didn't want to tear it off.  I began to feel woozy and crazy visions came into my head of me passing out in the kitchen, whacking my head on the glass table and my family finding me on the freezing linoleum in the morning.
I crawled up the stairs, woke my confused husband who helped me loosen the band aid enough to relieve the pressure.  He brought me a glass of orange juice to stop my wooziness and said a prayer for his very weird wife. 
I immediately fell into a deep sleep.


Next morning dawned and all went off to school but youngest boy, who was not feeling quite ready to enter the fray.  I was still scared about my finger, wondering if I should make the effort to go to doctor (who is far way), wondering if I'm being a baby, still feeling weak in the knees.
As I struggled and tried to make myself pull off this stinking band aid (what is wrong with me?  I've never been an afraid-of-blood type!  I birthed four babies without pain medication, for crying out loud!!), I whimpered and wished for someone to make it better.
My sons leaned over me and said, "I'll pray for ya, Mom."  
He prayed an earnest 8-year-old prayer and then said, "Mom!  I'll cheer you up!  I'll find you some Chuck Norris jokes!"

As he read jokes to me from the next room, I called husband, all whimpery and pathetic.  He finally asked, "How can I help you with this?"
I burst into tears, "I just want someone to take care of me, but I know I have to do this myself!"  As I wept, I felt a little boy's hand on my shoulder and heard him sniffle with me.


I'm now struck by how I DON'T have to do it myself.  God had given me this son, this funny, dramatic son, to encourage me this very morning.  God knew I could use a joke, a prayer, a little soft hand on my shoulder.  Those things may not strengthen my quaking knees and my bloody finger, but this company and this comfort in my weakness can help my heart, can remind me that God is HERE.

God is not like me.  He is not saying to the weak, "You are fine; get over it.  Rip off the darn band aid."  
He uses my weakness to show me His kindness, His comfort, His presence, His lowliness. He uses a young son to minister to the mama; He kindly shows me that my strength is wrongly perceived, an illusion.
The lesson is painful, just like ripping off the band aid.  My finger is now almost healed;  I know I'll be learning about my weakness til I'm Home.


15 February 2011

Where o where

...is the underwear?
 This is a picture of an empty drawer.  It's a drawer that used to be full of boys' undergarments.
However, there was a problem with this drawer.  It was stuffed, overflowing with undergarments that were, um, shall we say...unused.  Lonely.  Just sitting in the drawer, waiting for their day.  I think you can understand what this means for the few pairs of underwear that were in actual rotation.  They were, shall we say, OVERUSED.


One day, in a fit of tidying rage, I decided to get rid of all the unused things in the boys' drawers.  This drawer got dumped in the storage space.
That's a whole lot of underwear that's fun (or not) to wear (name that 80's commercial).  
I wanted to see how long it would take them to notice that their underwear larder was bare.  
Sadly, it took much too long for them to notice.  I won't say exactly how long; just know that it was MUCH TOO LONG.

I love boys.

14 February 2011

Happy Valentimes

A few years ago (was it last year?) Lucy called this holiday Valentimes.  Now I can't quit calling it that.  Additionally, I have recently been informed that they called it Valentimes on "30 Rock".  
What I want you to think about is this:  who was cool first, Lucy and me, or "30 Rock"?  Hmmm?

No better day than today to keep track of all the ways the Father shows His love for us.  We added to our list as a family last night...you might notice a few "interesting" items.


#1186 - 1210


* knee socks
* stories
* Jesus
* ice skating
* a good book
* back rubs
* Brazilian lunch after church
* L. Rogers, Theo's friend
* guns; they're cool (I told you it would get interesting)
* new babies at church
* red roses on the kitchen table
* warm beds
* cool lighters that look like blow torches (see what I mean?!)
* M. Barnes, Clay's friend
* a yummy dinner
* not having homework (this was more of a wish than something he's grateful for)
* new members at church
* blood
* very nice parents (I really didn't make them say this)
* the day Walter gets to go to college (Walter added this; had to remind that it's not a WISH LIST)
* newly engaged couple
* chocolate

* Chuck Norris and jokes of his ilk
* Cee Lo Green
* Lucy falling asleep on the sofa


Amen.  Grace to you and yours on this Valentimes night.  Sleep tight.



13 February 2011

We're getting ready



I pity the fool

I betcha you don't have one of these guys in your house.
That's right.  That's Mr. T.  See, you can tell by his gold necklace.  And his super-tough, um...sneakers.
He's scary.  The boys' room is finally clean and Mr. T. is in there.
So, really, don't mess with it.  Or him.

09 February 2011

My friend, The Naked Chef

I made one of my favorite winter comfort foods tonight:  risotto.  It was just a basic recipe with no extras (like peas or shrimp or mushrooms or pancetta), but was SOOO good!  Instead of white wine I used vermouth, which gave it a much richer flavor.
The recipe we've always used for risotto is from Jamie Oliver, our old friend.  I swear, I feel like I know that guy.  We used to watch "The Naked Chef" back in the day, and have many of his cook books.  
I think I like that he seems like such a regular guy.  He could be your neighbor -- your neighbor who happens to be a wicked awesome chef.  
Good old Jamie, always comes through in a pinch...
A few weeks ago, John MADE me watch a Jamie Oliver video about how to chop.  I couldn't find the exact video, but here is another one that's quite good.  
Tomorrow I'll tell you what lead up to my HAVING to watch the video.
Hope you learn something!


07 February 2011

Thanks in the bleak mid-winter

I've been reading Ann's book.  Have you?  It's really good, very insightful.  I think I'm going to order a few more copies this week to send to unsuspecting friends.  It's that kind of book.

It's early morning now and I felt very sad when my alarm went off 50 minutes ago.  Very bleak, on the verge of depressed.  
But we've talked about this before.

I've been keeping the list a bit more faithfully the last few days.  Been a bit more intentional with sitting down and really thinking of all the joys of the day.  I've even looked at the hard things and tried to find gratitude.


#1155 - 1185

* clouds floating golden toward the dawn
* kitchen knives all lined up on their magnet on the wall
* remembering mornings in the Dominican Rebpublic one year ago...warmth, the beach, the sounds...take me back!
* snow melting
* dishes clean and stacked
* imagining the sea at sunrise
* remembering that warm places do exist (I'm sensing a theme)
* son texting with his grandpa and his uncle
* technologically adept grandparents
* surprise satin pj pants from my mother-in-love
* wind from God - melt some of this snow!





* (trying to) make the budget work
* chasing Theo up the stairs and his giggling
* Theo remembering the sermon:  "Well, Pastor Jeremy DID say our biggest problem is ourselves."
* skin that heals quickly
* Psalm 34 v. 8  Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!
* sunlight dancing in my kitchen windows
* reminding me that is will not always be winter
* light and shadow
* tidying
* messiness that shows we really really live here.  I mean, we REALLY live here.
* handwriting - all kinds
* ink on paper
* notebooks
* lovely papers
* sand on ice so I don't SLIP!
* our neighbor who chipped the ice off our walkways so we don't have to SLIDE down the stairs
* good drummers
* playing the egg shaker AND the tambourine at church!
* legs and joints that can do all these stairs - we've got a lot of them.
* sculptural piles of gray and black snow - weird, very weird





06 February 2011

Something awesome

Before I show you the thing I have to show you, you probably want to take a deep breath.
Just get ready.
I'm guessing that some of you will have no words for what you are about to see.
This is something that I needed to help me endure.  To help me through the slush, the ice, the slipping, the ice chopping, the non-existent sidewalks, the one lane streets.  The dark mornings and the cold.  These are things you don't even realize have a grip on you until you become aware that you haven't fully relaxed your shoulders in days, perhaps weeks, all in your body's effort to conserve heat.
I have a perfect remedy.  Not the only remedy, mind you, but A remedy.
Behold.

 That's right.  Silver moon boots.  Just like you're walking on the moon.  Only better.
It's okay if you don't know what to say. 
I understand.