29 September 2011

Remembering

It's a wet Thursday here in Boston.  I hope maybe it is a beautiful sunny Indian summer day wherever you are...unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case I hope it is a lovely spring day for you!
We are getting ready to make a quick trip to my mother's homeland of Buffalo, New York.  My Grandfather passed away last fall, and this weekend was the soonest time that his ashes could be interred at the family plot.  So we will gather with my grandmother, my mother and dad, my aunt and uncles, and some of my mother's sundry relatives to remember Grandfather (And that is what I called him.  He was always "Grandfather", which suited him perfectly, as far as I can tell.)
The amazing thing about this trip is that the things to which I'm looking forward outweigh the feeling of sadness about Grandfather's passing.  It's funny how time can do that.  I know it may not feel the same for my mom, or her sibling, and especially not for my Grandmother.  But for this far-away granddaughter, I have a long list of things that make this trip special.


I'm grateful that my grandmother asked John to officiate the burial service.  This is an honor for John and for our family.


I'm grateful that we can bring our children, as they will have a chance to see their grandparents, great-uncles and aunts, great-grandmother and meet lots of other relatives that they wouldn't otherwise meet.


I'm grateful that my brother and Robin are coming, and that we will do some music for the service.  The last time my bro and I did music together as at our other brother's wedding nine years ago!


I'm grateful to see a city that figures prominently in my mother's family and heritage.
  
I'm grateful to be able to see my grandmother for the first time since Grandfather's death. I hope it will be some kind of comfort to her to have much of our family together.
                *    *    *


On a completely separate note, I have decided to link up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky and write for 31 days in October.  You can read more about it HERE.  What Emily writes about writing has convicted and encouraged me, and I'm excited about this challenge.  I'm dreaming big about how I might rely on God and see Him work, even on this little bitty blog. On Saturday I'll reveal my topic (still making a final decision about a couple of things).







26 September 2011

Finding space for gratitude

This time of year is so busy for families, with school and sports and all kinds of activities happening all the time.  I find it quite easy to become overwhelmed, and to feel "behind".




But behind what?  What are all the things that we feel we must be "in front of" in order to have it all together?
(I'm preaching to myself here, people.)
God gives us our tasks for the day.  Not only that, but He is the one who gives the hours in which to do the tasks.  He is a God of peace, and a God of provision.  He longs for us to fling ourselves onto Him, to listen to Him, and also to let Him know our hearts.
Today I'm joining with Ann and the others to give thanks for the things I'm learning and seeing and finding:
*  I don't have to feel desperate...only desperate for more Jesus.
*  finding a tennis ball in my bed
*  Nerf darts ALL. OVER. THE. HOUSE.
*  Thursday - quiet, chores, freedom
*  fun time on Friday night with colleagues
*  little girl practicing her handstands
*  still-warm evenings - they are fleeting
*  a boy who suddenly wants to shower more often (hallelujah!)
*  friends who help with kids and schedules
*  knowing people are praying
*  dreaming big and crazy about the future



22 September 2011

Footwear awesomeness.

I have the best mother-in-law in the world.  First of all, she loves me and is one of my biggest admirers.  She and I like to joke by saying that we are part of the Mutual Admiration Society.  She is ever supportive and helpful, and she's been praying for me since my husband was a little baby.
Another great thing about my mother-in-love, is that she has amazing style.  So many of my best pieces of clothing are either hand-me-downs or gifts from her.
About a month ago, I opened a box that had arrived in the mail.  It was from my mother-in-law and was full of some things that we had left at her house over the summer, and other sundry items.  I also pulled out a pair of boots, obviously something from her closet that she wasn't going to wear anymore.  When I saw them, I actually gasped in amazement and had to put them on right away.  They are that awesome.  I don't know much about them except that they are probably from the 1980's or maybe the '90's, made in Italy and totally wicked (that means cool and amazing).
Here is how I rocked them to school the other day.  Oh, the little ruffle-y socks you see peeking over the top are from her, as well.
Thanks, Judy, for sharing your style with me!


20 September 2011

This is it.

Sadly, summer is actually over.  It's my very favorite season and I hate to see it go.
But I will rejoice in the change, rejoice in the order God brings to the seasons, the order He gives to our days, even when it all seems like chaos.
I haven't counted in a while, but have been feeling my need to remember the ways in which the Father loves.  Hear me now:
* coffee (how many times has that been on the list?!?)
* waking up and eventually not feeling like I am going to DIE (too early!)
* peace from God
* trusting in Him with all the new school year busy-ness
* Proverbs and all the widsom
* restoring order
* using timers to help me get things done
* making all THIS every morning
* God meeting us in our WEAKNESS
* this blog and the friends I have met through it


I feel that there is more, but I don't have more on my physical list (yes, I have an actual notebook).  That will have to wait til later in the week.

Well, like I said, I need to show you the rest of our summer pics.  Here they are in fast forward.  Hee hee!
Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.  Oh my!  If you ever have the chance to see his art anywhere, PLEASE do it!
The boys sat on the roof.  Don't worry, no one had fallen off.  Yet.
We went to NYC to visit Uncle Clay and Robin (my bro and his girlfriend).  Here are the two Clays in Long Island City, Queens.
This is how Lucy likes to get around the big city.  Lucky her.  Poor John.



Hey kids!  Hope you all enjoy that over-priced ice cream!  Good thing you are all dang cute.




This is Lucy re-enacting the Statue of Liberty.  Pretty good, huh?
We also saw some dear, dear friends from college and from seminary.  But, of course, I didn't take any pictures of that.
Good-bye summer!  Hello, fall!




18 September 2011

A story about praying like a child

You may have heard me mention, either here or in real life, a book that has really transformed my prayer life in the past year or two.  It is A Praying Life by Paul Miller.
The book is a reassuring, realistic, comforting book about keeping a life of prayer in the midst of life's distractions and troubles.  I am not exaggerating when I say that it has really changed me in lasting ways.
Last March, I was able to attend a brief conference with the author.  He reminded us that Jesus uses little children asking for things as our model for prayer!  Children come as they are, and they are not cynical.  He said that if we were to summarize all of Jesus' teaching on prayer in only one word, it would be:  ASK.  He pointed out that much our difficulty in praying is not lack of discipline, as we may be tempted to believe, but rather lack of trust, lack of child-likeness.
By way of illustration, let me tell you this story of Lucy on the playground about a week ago.
I was pushing Lucy on a swing when another little girl, about Lucy's age, came up to the swing next to us.  The swings were quite high, but this little girl hoisted herself up with her arms, got a knee on the swing, and then maneuvered her legs around to the front and began to swing.  I could tell that Lucy was watching this, for she had attempted a few times in vain to get herself on the swing before I had lifted her up.
Moments later, Lucy jumped down, and ran to a little bench where I had put my bag and her blankey.  She lay down on her tummy, blankey in hand, and bowed her head.  I thought she was sulking.
"Lucy," I asked, "what are doing?"
"I have to do something, Mama.  It's called PRAYING."
Okay, then.
She prayed for minute, then ran back to the swing, and tried to hoist herself onto the swing just like the little girl next to us.  No dice.  Meanwhile, I'm holding my breath to see what happens.  By this time, I've caught on that she was asking God to let her get on the swing.
She tried again, and...success!  She beamed, and as she swung her legs to the front of the swing, she said, "It worked!"
We talked for a moment about how God had said yes to her prayer, and how special it was to see that right then and there.
A minute later, off the swing she jumped, and again off to the bench.
This time she volunteered, "It's called PRAYING, Mama!"  She bowed her head again.
Again, she tried to get on the swing, and she did, face glowing with pleasure.
As a mother, it was so pleasing to see my child want to pray, right there on the playground, and to see her child-like belief that God, her loving Father, would help her.
Is Lucy some kind of saint?  A perfect prayer?  No way; she's just a child asking for something she wants.  A cynical heart wants to poke all kinds of holes in this story.  But God's tender heart is FOR His children.  He didn't have to help Lucy get on that swing.  It would have been okay if He had said "no".  But to show His little daughter that He cares so tenderly about the details of her life, that He loves her, that He wants to build her faith...He said YES.
Friends, that same Father cares for you.  Don't let the cynicism of our age keep you from asking, asking, and asking again, just like a child.  He longs to hear from you.


Updated:  Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.  

17 September 2011

I told you, it's not over yet.

If you live in New England, today's weather may have caused you to think that it is fall.  However, it most certainly IS NOT.  
We have four days of summer left, as evidenced by the fact that I am not done showing you the pictures of our summer adventures.  So much more to show you, friends.
But for tonight, after a tiring first full week of school and a wondrous Saturday, I am going to just show you what we did today, a NOT-FALL, beautiful, glorious day.
John was away last night and today at a quarterly meeting for church elders in our area (also known as a Presbytery, in case you wondered), so the kids and I were on our own.  
Last night was pizza and movie night.  It was so nice to just be together and not have much we had to do.  I sat and folded laundry while we watched a movie.
This morning, the three younger children and I headed out on scooters and a rip-stick to our town's annual celebration! Walter had plans to attend a college football game with a school friend.  Perfect football weather today! (But still not fall.)
First stop, the newly renovated fire house in our town.  You know, you're never too old to get a thrill from climbing on a fire truck.  When Walt and Clayton were itty-bitty, we used to take them our library's annual Vehicle Night, where all the kids could climb on all the town vehicles.  I miss those days.
So fun to tour the fire house, have free doughnuts and coffee, and climb on all the vehicles.



The skylight is made with a wagon wheel from an old-timey fire truck!








We ran into some friends at the fire station and then all made our way into the town center.  There we met up with even more friends, the kids begged for junky toys, we had popcorn and Cokes, saw some dear church friends, and finally hopped a bus back home, just in time for our soccer games.
I was thinking tonight of the things I had to say "no" to this weekend.  There was a party I missed on Friday night, and a birthday party today which we couldn't attend.  With John out of town, there was no way I could do it all.  But you know what?  There was honestly nothing I would have rather done yesterday and today than be with my children, listen to them play, enjoy the sun, be with friends old and new, and just take advantage of our surroundings.
I don't always feel like that; I consider it a great mercy that the Lord can give me peace and contentment in the everyday.


More summer-time fun to come!

10 September 2011

The birthdays

We have two late August birthdays in our family; Theo and Walter are just two days apart.  This year we celebrated with a joint birthday cook-out.  
It was a warm summer evening, complete with ravenous mosquitoes and a great mixture of church friends and neighbors, big kids and little kids.  I'm so thankful for all these families and what they mean to our kids, and to us.





See, I told you summer wasn't over...I'm still not done showing you all our pictures... hee hee!

School. It started.

School started this past week.  Walter on Tuesday, I on Wednesday and the other three on Thursday.
The brothers were rolling their eyes at HOW EXCITED Lucy was about starting kindergarten.  She just could not wait, and even this weekend, is counting the days til she can go back!  Her expectations are so high; I hope that school can live up to everything she hopes it will be.
Here is how Walter felt about going to school.
Here is Walter faking how he felt about going to school.
Here is one VERY!  VERY! excited kindergartner!  She was ready to go about 30 minutes before we needed to leave.

Can you feel the 8th grade love tonight?
And here we have a newly-minted commuter with her brother!  She's happy!
And here is a hardened commuter, calmly reading his morning paper.  
I didn't get many great pics in the classroom, but she is in that bunch of cuties!
The only thing missing here is a picture of me going off to my first day of school!  What was I thinking?!
The beginning of the school year is always a bit discombobulating for me, as we move from one schedule to another.  But the Lord gives grace for even these things, doesn't He?

06 September 2011

It's not over til I'm done showing you my vacation pics

I am SO not ready to say goodbye to summer.  Summer is my favorite season, especially here in New England.  It's just six short weeks of glory, people.  I HATE to see it end!  I love fall, too, but summer...oh, summer.  Don't go.
Here on the blog, we're going to keep summer going because I am NO WHERE near done showing you my photos from our vacation!  That's right, you lucky people, you!

In Maine, we celebrated all summer birthdays.

 We lounged on the deck in the evening and drank cocktails before the mosquitoes began to eat us.

 We went blueberry picking at a farm with the nicest owner ever.  I didn't know that so many varieties of blueberries existed!

That is my really cute mom.



 We went swimming in the Saco River.  It was too cold and cloudy for me, but the kids didn't mind.



With a stick, Theo drew a happy fish and a mad fish.  I love his art.

 We bought 8 live lobsters from a little lobster pound and brought them home.  We made sure to use a seat belt.  Safety first.

 We played with them, and then they became a delicious anniversary dinner!  16 years for John and me!

 On the way back to Boston, we stopped in Ogunquit and swam in the coldest water yet.  I could never get used to it; it was painful the whole time!
Such a lovely place.
 Then we stopped off for the traditional fried seafood extravaganza before driving the rest of the way home.  There's my cute dad.
 She really is a pearl, isn't she?
See, I told you summer wasn't over yet!