Thursday, December 30, 2010

Be Confident of This...

The house smells like something is burning... something like mistletoe.

Here's what happened.

I was reheating some leftovers in the toaster oven, using the toasting method. Some crumbs in the bottom got a little too toasty and caught on fire. I had read the "In case of flare up, do not open door. Unplug." sign on the cord many times. Well, I opened the door. I did unplug it. Then I just watched it for a second before calling, "Uh, Josh, there's a fire in here. Can you help me."

I'm sure he feels confident in his wife's ability to keep the house from burning down.

The mistletoe part comes from the Yankee candle that was burning at the time. I went to the store, came home and immediately smelled the burning plus the mistletoe. Near the dining room, a little bit of paint too.

What a week.

On Tuesday Josh worked late. It was not a good day for him to work late.

I had been peeling wallpaper for two days and needed a shower badly. While I'm in the shower, the kids are pounding on the door telling me Petite had climbed up in Mister's bed. He has bunk beds with a staircase. I quickly jump out of the shower, grab a towel and run down the hall to Mr.'s room. As I walk in the door, I hear Petite start crying. "She fell through the crack!" Mister yells. I assume she was on the bottom bunk and fell between the wall and bed. Wrong. She was on the top bunk and fell between the wall and bed and her plump little tushy caused her to get stuck between the window and the bed. So she's crying and I'm trying to wedge the poor thing out in nothing but a towel, thanking God that our home is surrounded by trees because the towel isn't staying on. TMI, I know, but that's the story.

But there's more. I hug and console my baby and set her down on the floor.I head to the bathroom to get a towel for my dripping wet hair. Petite shows up about 5 seconds later holding... broken glass. An ornament from the tree. I groan loudly and tell the kids to stay where they are because who knows where all the glass is. I fish the little pieces out of Petite's tightly wadded fist (while trying to keep the towel on) and carry her to my bedroom to keep her from stepping on glass. I set her down and she starts coughing and sputtering. Ug! I swab her mouth and catch a few little pieces of broken ornament. She's gagging. I'm saying "Don't swallow it!" like she can understand me.

If Josh were home, I'm sure I would have said, "Uh, Josh, Petite is gagging on glass. Could you help me in here?". And he would feel confident in his wife's ability to keep his children from killing themselves.

All of that in the span of like 2 minutes.

Those were the high points of the day, but lots of little things piled up. Josh called at 4 to tell me he would be maybe another 15 minutes, maybe another 2 hours (He got home at 7). I think, "Gee, I hate that paper mill sometimes" and the two horrific years he spent working at the other mill come back to mind. But then I make pumpkin pancakes for the kids' supper and everything is better.

So why a picture of a laundry basket? Well, I forgot to take a picture of Josh throwing a glass of water on the fire. And I was too busy trying to keep a towel on to take a picture of Petite wedged between the bed and the window.

And I'd like Josh to feel confident knowing that I haven't misplaced all his Under Armor socks. They are in that basket somewhere.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lessons From the Father to the Mama

How often I find God using this thing called motherhood to teach me more about Him and more about myself. While he uses each of my children, there is one particularly that seems to teach me the greatest lessons. Perhaps because we are so much alike in our personalities. Introverts, pessimists (oy!), sensitive.

Recently this fall I had promised my children to give them each a dollar or so if they helped to clean up the yard. We have apples and pears that drop off the tree and need to be picked up and composted, sticks that need to go to the brush pile, and leaves to be raked. As one worked, I heard the continuous lament that "I'll work and work and work but I won't get any dollars!". I tried to cheer this kiddo on, promising over and over that yes, I would pay just as I said. Met with continued negativity, I got more and more frustrated. And sad too. "Why don't you believe me when I say I will do something?" my voice quivered even in its annoyance.

Immediately, that still small voice spoke to me. "Why don't you believe Me when I say I will do something?" I was cut to the heart. God had been giving me several promises over and over as of late, and I continued to worry and fret about my situation anyway. He was promising to do exceedingly abundantly above all I could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 ). He was promising strength if I would be quiet and rest in him- but I would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15).

The most recent teachable moment (my own!) was last night. For some reasons the worries and fears that plagued me this fall came rushing back in. All of the what-ifs and wonderings about what is going to happen. Though we have heard a continuous instruction to "wait" (Isaiah 30:18), I began to worry if waiting was the best thing after all.

I was sad and felt the weight of this worry as we sat down to watch a Christmas movie together. The movie was cute, involved puppies, orphans, and a mean lady (think Mrs. Hannigan from Annie) who destroyed any toys she found amongst the orphan girls. While the movie was easily predictable to Josh and I, my sensitive child had so much difficulty watching the movie. Tears, worry, and angst about the toys being destroyed, the mean lady, and the puppy made the movie less cute and enjoyable for this kiddo. While it seemed silly to Josh and I, again God spoke to my heart. I wrapped this sensitive-one in my arms and said "It's scary when we don't know what's going to happen, isn't it?" Which was my own problem at the moment. And He reminded me that just as this cute little Christmas movie was so predictable to me, so is my own personal situation to Him right now. He knows exactly what is going to happen, he's not worried about it, and it's going to turn out good (Jeremiah 29:11). I loved watching the angst turn to joy in my kiddo's eyes when the movie ended happily ever after.

Learning to have joy before the happily ever after is just a part of the faith-walk I am on right now.

I am so thankful for these children of mine. The Lord uses them so tenderly to teach me more about his amazing love as a Father to me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Modern Mama? Or Simple Woman?

Can I show you one of my favorite picture book drawings? It's Sal and her mom, canning blueberries. I really love the full spread of the picture which includes the old-fashioned kitchen that is neat as a pin. Look at Mother, so elegant in her sweater and skirt, neatly coiffed hair, and frilly apron. There's not a spot of blue on her. She's so brave to let Sal help her "store up food for winter".

On one hand, I wish I had a picture of what I and my kitchen looked like yesterday as I attempted to store up food for winter. On the other hand, I'm glad I was too harried and too sticky to pick up a camera. Tomato sauce had dried onto the stove. Cinnamon syrup oozed down the cupboards onto the floor. I kept misplacing my jar lifter. Skinny red apple peels fell on the floor and got carted around the kitchen by my littlest one who woke up from her nap too soon and found her favorite place at my feet. My hair was held up in several jaw clips and barrettes in the attempt to keep it out of my face. My apron was filthy. I kept shooing the older two kids out of the kitchen. I'm a long way from being Sal's mother.

On top of it all, the jars of apples I processed didn't seal. The syrup oozed out during the boiling water bath. The tomato sauce did seal, thankfully, and there's nothing quite like the sound of the pop of the lid when they do! I kept finding myself asking how on earth the women of yore did this???? Many had more children than I do, fewer kitchen amenities, and maybe not even electricity! Processing 21 jars took me all day and made me a mad woman. It's rather nice having a row of jars all ready to store, but the novelty wears off when you find that you really just don't enjoy this.

I told a friend recently that I have two sides to me- one that pretty much wants to be Amish- the "simple" life (if you call living without electricity and indoor plumbing "simple). The other wants to be Modern Mama. I like my Yukon. I like my cute-cut jeans. I like fancy cooking ingredients. I love my computer! The appeal of the Amish- or even the earlier part of the 20th century- is that there was less and sometimes less is indeed more. Mostly, less stuff to distract me from what is really important.

Yesterday, with my foot in both worlds, I discovered that although this canning thing could be great someday, it is just not as simple as it seems. It took a lot of time and caused me a lot of stress. More than once I thought, Is this really worth it? I'm missing out on Saturday with my kids. I've got 7 quarts of unsealed apples and 13 pints of tomato sauce, but who cares? I turned into a bear trying to make it happen.

Modern Mama took over again last night and almost ordered a pizza due to the fact that I hated that kitchen by the time the last jar came out of the pot. But today, the simple woman dreams of the yummy roast chicken I'm going to prepare for dinner while wearing my homemade apron. No doubt, my kitchen will be a mess cause that's just the kind of cook I am. But I've got a dishwasher to clean up the plates afterward and the house will smell so good. It's the best of both worlds, what can I say?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The First Little Crumbs

There is something extremely cathartic about writing which is why I even have the audacity to start a blog all about me. I heard a quote once, strangely enough from John-Boy Walton, who was quoting another, and it had something to do with the arrogance of being a writer. For the life of me, I cannot find the quote, but I can identify with it. How very arrogant to believe you have something important enough to say and to invite others to listen and expect them to be interested, and perhaps even devoted. Particularly in this blogging age. Any one with an email account and a tiny bit of computer know-how can create a blog and write about anything they fancy. I've read some truly special blogs and some absolutely ridiculous blogs. And now I run the risk of being one or the other or somewhere in between and I have the arrogance to think some of you just may want to "follow" what I have to say.

But really, I just want to write because it is that wonderful Greek process of "purifying and cleansing" for me. Sometimes there are so many words bumping together in my head that if I just don't get them onto paper I'll implode! So I let them explode into random jots here and there. I have countless notebooks laying around my house for my words. Lists, lines of a would-be song or poem, prayers, fumings, scenes. I fear that one day they will be found by my husband and children and they will discover how eccentric I really am.

Before that can happen, they will probably discover this blog. They will read about my life in crumbs, little pieces here and there, and I might be so arrogant as to say they will cherish these words and find that they knew me better bit by bit. You may find the same.

Not only is writing arrogant, it is also a vulnerability. C.S. Lewis said "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart is sure to be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one..."

Allow me to share with you the things I love and give my heart to (in keeping with the Greek, let me assure you that these are a variety of loves: philia, storge, agape, eros):

My husband Josh
My children,
Jesus Christ
My extended family
My church family
Home Education
Bible study
Peanut Butter

And, of course, writing. And, because you are reading this, I give my heart to you, knowing you could wring it and hang it out to dry. But I arrogantly take that risk and invite you to discover my life in crumbs.