Just look at all the booty being given away to one lucky winner at Blissfully Domestic this week!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Just look at all the booty being given away to one lucky winner at Blissfully Domestic this week!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
June, last year. Harper. The school dance. A difficult night.
Compare this experience to Friday night.
April, this year. Harper. The school dance. A terrific night.
Of course I was sick and had to miss this "she's come full circle moment", but as George put it, "Well, you got to be there for her first communion. So, God gave me this one."
As he explained it over the cell phone in the middle of gym full of K-3rd graders, with DJ music thumping and the overwhelming sounds of screaming, laughing, and yelling, Harper was in her element. I was very thankful that he called to give me the report in the midst of the moment. He couldn't hear my response of glee, but I could hear his every word.
Led to the floor by Miss Beckstedt, first grade teacher extraordinaire and forever and ever in our gratitude for the work she did in Harper's life last year, Harper, while at first a bit timid, released that fear and just took off poppin' and lockin' (in her own way) with her friends.
Word on the street is that at one moment, all her friends were surrounding her as Harper break danced in the middle of a circle.
Upon her return home, Harper shared with me that she did the running man, the moonwalk, break danced, the cha-cha slide, and had a blast during all of it.
"What was so different this year, Harper?" I asked.
"I've grown up. I'm confident."
Perhaps I'll have little Miss confident explain it in her own words in a guest post. We'll see if she can leave the dance floor behind for a bit in order to share her experience here.
Light is light.
I found myself saying this to a friend today. A friend, who in the midst of his own pain, was able to bless our family with a meal, and took a moment on the phone to ask how we are fairing. George, who was supposed to be in Beaver this weekend, had to call off his trip due to the flu-like symptoms that suddenly took over my body on Thursday. There would have been absolutely no way I could have handled the kids and the care-taking of the house for showings, unless he remained at home. And thus, he did.
And not only did he stay home to help, but our surrounding troops stepped in with hugs, prayer, meals, phone calls from lifelong friends, babysitting for Zane, rides to get Harper to/from a party, more meals, and just your good 'ole down home support. A few friends from church, neighbors, Lincolnwood parents, college buds (Stacey, I will call you back - post illness) and MK ladies all picked up the baton and ran for us. I have a lot of Thank You notes to write. Gladly.
This does a lot to help adjust one's perspective on things. As I said to George earlier, "My perspective on this entire house-selling experience has indeed changed (for the better - although I would never wish selling a home in a recession on ANYONE), even if it doesn't actually relieve the pain." The pain of fatigue, stress (seriously, I think I have mini heart-attacks throughout the day), and more fatigue has taken over my body. I am so far from being the "me" I know myself to be, and am aching, literally aching, for myself to return. For even though I can see pockets of light, I am still in the midst of feeling physical pain.
A new perspective isn't an immediate pain reliever.
God has changed my perspective through His very presence and through the presence of His people. My children are also those people. If you've never thought of your children as being a spiritual support, then I challenge you to listen to them a bit more closely.
I've got my daughter, who before leaving for school, joins me on the bed while I lay there languishing in chills, aches, and fever, so she can read me the 23rd Psalm and share with me that God is Peace.
I've got my son, who shares with us that "I love Jesus so much in my heart" and than taps his head while saying, "I love Him in my mind also."
This same little boy, who at times baffles us with is spiritually mature perspective, also made mention of our friend's grief in losing their newborn baby. Upon my sharing that little Leah is in Heaven with Jesus, he made this remarkably intuitive statement, "That is so sad. But it is so good! Amy's baby is touching Jesus right now because Jesus is the only one who can make her feel better."
Seriously, what is a parent to do with that other than leave the room in tears? And then, before the moment fades, call Leah's parents who love Jesus with their whole being, and yet still bear the pain of loss.
A new perspective isn't an immediate pain reliever.
This type of heartfelt proclamation can not be taught to a child. This is way more internal than I can ever hope to reach in the life of my kids. This is God territory.
I could care less if my kids have the books of the bible memorized, whether they know when the walls of Jericho fell or can tell me on what animal Paul was riding during his conversion.
All of that can be looked up in the Table of Contents or Index.
On the other hand, the prompting of my children to point me towards the light of God is completely spirit-led. No Table of Contents needed. That other stuff will come, but the depth? I'm beginning to see it within them, without their knowing exact bible facts and figures.
I can now see the many lights that God has been planting throughout this experience. He, the Ultimate Light, has also graced me with the light of friendship, the light of encouragement from my children, and the light of confirmation that He has indeed called us to this move.
Light is light. Dim or bright.
Gotta keep my eye on it.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I suppose my blog is now my journal. It just feels different - almost too easy. There is something so very immediate about the process of writing electronically as opposed to using a bound blank book and a pen for means of documenting personal reflection and contemplation: The ability to get one's thoughts out so quickly, to reread and edit, the ease of sharing so openly, and having an "audience", to name a few. I can get over the fact that I now have difficulty hand writing my thoughts, as I am genuinely thankful for this new outlet. I also know that if I waited for the moment when the timing would lend itself to returning to keeping a handwritten journal, I would pen absolutely nothing.
That, and, with no Cuppa Jo all of you would be bored.
My opinion on blogging is very different than my opinion about scrap booking. For I am actually planning on having my blog digitally reproduced and bound into hard copy volumes for my children. The handwritten journals they will have to fight over. This is definitely a long range goal, as I have almost 8 years of blogging to cut, paste, and transfer to a site that can reproduce it for me. I call this process, "Beaver To Do List: Number 1 - bind the blogs".
One of my coolest entries during my journal keeping years was when God gifted me with the ability to see his good works "blink by blink". It became my buzz phrase with the college girls I was disciplining at the time. I know we all talk a good talk about seeing God's good works and blessings in our lives, and yet, I was finding that some women, myself included, were overlooking the seemingly tiny good works and blessings that God was doling out, resulting in heavy feelings of discouragement and abandonment. The ability to recognize, and feel, and taste His presence was trumped by the need to see something "big". Thus, His morsels of grace were easily missed, as the tendency to search for and notice only the large visual chunks overshadowed His awesome presence.
However, through writing, I had learned for myself, that I would benefit from a walk with Jesus that gave value to the "blink by blink" moments which even though small, were incredibly powerful and sustaining. And thus, I went on a campaign to promote such thinking in the lives of the students with whom I worked, always challenging them to take a second and third and fourth look at their situations, knowing that by doing so, they too, would find a glimmer of hope and God's hand during blinks.
Recognizing God in "blink by blink" moments:
- Reminds me of God's immediacy in my life down to the millisecond
- Reminds me of His constant communication with me
- Reminds me of His love for me by gifting me with several moments of His embrace throughout my day
Recently, during the opening of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (right here in Skokie), Elie Wiesel (whose charity lost $15.2 million and his entire life savings to Bernard Madoff) made a quote encouraging us to enjoy the moments of life, rather than the days of life, as life is made up of moments. When I find the actual quote, I'll add it here - as I'm not doing it justice.
So true is this. Both our walks with God, and the dailiness of life are made up of moments (blinks). Perhaps I've gone a bit micro-manager when it comes to walk/running this desert marathon, but if I only keep my eyes on the finish (how much further, its location, what it looks like, when I'll get there, what kind of free food there will be), I will miss the important moments along the way. The cups of water being handed to me for re hydration, the running buddy who can distract me from the physical pain by chatting with me, and the cheers from encouragers and supporters along the path.
Will you join me in seeing God during the "blink by blink" moments of your day?
Blink. Even the tiniest of blessings are huge.
We've flipped it. We've turned it. We've done what anyone is supposed to do in order to keep a mattress at its best.
Well . . . it's done. It's not coming with us when we move to PA, and we're planning on purchasing a new one.
That is, unless we WIN THIS AMAZING GIVEAWAY!
This is one of the reasons I love Blissfully Domestic. The giveaways! Here is the latest:
I am beyond thrilled to announce that Select Comfort is giving the bed pictured above, the new C3 Sleep Number Bed by Select Comfort to one of our readers here at Blissfully Domestic, including a foundation and UPS delivery.
Visit this post at Blissfully Domestic and find how you can enter to win up to 4 times!
But just a warning. I'll fight you for it.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I never thought I'd receive inspiration for a post from a kid's movie. And if ever I was to attempt to glean inspiration for a post from a kid's movie, I doubt I would choose Zathura as the film through which I would receive a new nugget for personal reflection. For I'd tend to lean more towards a film with the depth of, say, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, or The Secret Garden. But, Zathura? Surprising.
This is how I feel.
I can honestly say that other than my family, she is the first person here to acknowledge that this truly has been the case for us. Even I have tried to brush off the impact made by the constant "fires" by redefining our lives as a "new normal", even though this "new normal" has taken an incredible toll on my physical, spiritual, and emotional health - which, simply, can not be good.
Do you realize how comforting it was to have someone communicate that they have seen how difficult the past four years have been? I am so very thankful - not so much for her seeing our difficulty, but more so that she actually told me that she could see how hard it has been.
Everyone has their asteroid showers. I know this. I'm not saying that my shower is tougher than yours. I'm not challenging you to a "my life is harder than your life" competition. I also don't believe in a health and wealth Gospel that insures that I will have a healthy and prosperous life, free from hardship and suffering, because I believe, love, and make my feeble attempts to walk with Jesus.
This is not a compare and contrast piece.
Rather, it is a personal acknowledgement that the ducking and weaving from both the big and small calamities of life, has completely challenged my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual toughness. I am the-about-to-be-40 year old woman that I never thought I would ever be. The tired one. Worn out. A bit frayed.
Thankfully, I have faith that God won't leave me in this place. I'm pretty darn sure that He has a personal training program set up for me to begin.
Just. Not. Now.
The asteroid shower hasn't let up enough yet. I do have faith it will slow down, allowing me time to catch my breath. However, I am not praying that it will stop altogether, because life doesn't really work that way. For there will always be an asteroid of some size. So I am praying for the frequency of the blows to slow up, enough for me make an attempt to regroup. And until that day, I will rely upon my belief that in my weakness He is so very strong. For once the shower is downgraded to a "spit", I will once again have a window of time to rest and train up my mind, body, and spirit back to my former self.
So, thanks Zathura for the visual. (Geez. That's sounds so weird.)
And thank you, Stephanie, for the verbal acknowledgment that we've been bombarded.
And congratulations on your engagement!!!!!
Friday, April 17, 2009
If your school or church or women's club or, well, whatever, holds a rummage sale, and you are a thrifty shopper . . . VOLUNTEER.
Not only did I unload boxes of stuff from our home, but I picked up some amazing Star Wars toys, a few new shirts for myself, 4T pants for Zane, and two new pairs of boots (for me) - one being from LL BEAN.
My Frazzled Friday tip of the week?
It took us from 8-8 to sort everything today. The sale is tomorrow . . . see why I'm frazzled?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thank you for this day, Lord.
Salvation, Hope, Light, and Freedom are offered to all through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So, what does the microphone photo have to do with Easter?
I have taken these last two months off from singing with our worship band at church. Second to writing, singing is my mode of communication with God, and yet, since the house going up for sale, I've not been able to muster up the ability to do so. Sundays have been hectic, what with having to leave the house clean and spotless for showings and Open Houses, plus getting the kids ready, as well as myself in order to get out the door early to rehearse. And for as much as I adore singing, God was gently tapping my shoulder to take a breather during this season where I've felt like I've been wearing a whalebone corset. Short of breath, dizzy, tight, and tense.
As the band began today I was absolutely elated to see that the newest female vocalist was stepping up to the mike to fill the gap. I smiled. And then, the woman next to me whispered, "Oh! That is your song."
No. It isn't.
I realize that she was merely being kind - communicating that she would miss us when we moved. I knew her inner monologue. Still, it was never my song, but rather a song that God gave me the grace to sing.
I never set out to take this hiatus and always thought I would just continue singing until we moved, but the break has proven to be good for me. It has forced me to commune with God differently. Even though the communion as of late has mainly consisted of a weakly squeaked prayer containing one word: Help.
It's a good prayer. Solid. Packed with sincerity and not too wordy.
I've not been able to get through worship without crying every week, and no doubt the Lord knew this when He prompted me to lay down the mike. I've needed this time. To sit with George. To minister to Harper. To have the freedom to fall apart in the pew rather than doing so during a song I'm trying to lead.
Today, I was especially moved by the Easter message. It confirmed for me what I've been experiencing over these last two months. For the first time ever, I really identified with Mary, who stricken with grief upon finding the tomb empty, couldn't be moved from this state by either John's belief that Jesus had risen, or the two angels inside the tomb who spoke directly to her heart's concern.
I too have not been able to rise out of the despair I have been feeling despite the incredible wishes and encouraging words from friends and family that God will do a great thing and sell my house. I have heard their words, just as Mary heard from John and the angels, but the words haven't sunk in deeply enough to soften, relax, or remove the weariness and grief I have been feeling.
For, like Mary, I have known all along that until Jesus speaks, I will be immobile.
I found this to be so affirming, for I mistook my emotions as a lack of faith. How surprised was I to realize that:
- I am actually banking solely on Jesus to close the deal. The encouraging words I have received from others have been most appreciated, revealing the support from the body of Christ, and yet, I'm waiting for God to speak. Only then will I be satisfied and refreshed.
- Laying down my mike has been necessary. God knew that I would become paralyzed throughout this period. He has taken these last few months to build up a "God and me alone" mentality. Lonely, at times, to be sure, but necessary for my spiritual development, as I frequently err on the side of depending more so on people than Him. I've never doubted saying "no" to singing during this time. I knew I had heard Him tell me to make that choice. This decision was confirmed today.
That Salvation, Hope, Light, and Freedom are offered to all through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for this day, Lord.
Photo by ganatronic
One of the eggs was my brother's.
All the eggs had our initials on it. All 9 of mine had H's. But one of them had a Z. So I went to my Dad and I yelled at him because he hid the wrong egg!!!!!!!
Church was very good. Both of the songs were really really cool!!!!
We had friends come over to our house. Their names are Myron and Alyssa and Coraline Crockett.
I got to play alot of video games, too!!!!
But the best thing about Easter was being with my family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Visit the Jelly Belly factory.
We had two showings today and really wanted to do something fun with the kids other than just walking the streets of Evanston. Last night we had a fantastic time at the Mitchell Museum (thanks for the idea Angie), where Harper served as tour guide, and Zane received inspiration for his new bedroom in Beaver. He's going all out American Indian style. The kid wants a tee pee, mural, fake fire, and a pretend bow and arrow. George is all over it.
So, today, we did another Zane fav. Jelly beans.
We arrived in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin at 11:00. The line for the factory tour (via train) wasn't too long at this point, but rather than risking further crowds, we jumped in line rather than visiting the store first.
2 hours later . . .
2 hours later . . . I call the 1-800 number from inside the waiting area to ask about the tour, number of trains, the wait time, etc. (as it was too cramped to reach the front desk to ask in person why it was taking so jelly freakin' belly long), only to find out that today they only had 1 train available. 1 TRAIN. The day before Easter. 1 TRAIN. What was this place thinking? The day before Easter when they publicize the Easter bunny, sales, raffles, and the tour, they pull out all the stops with 1 TRAIN?
After about and hour and a half of waiting and slowly moving forward, we see a sign advertising a factory walking tour. The entrance being around the corner, with no line.
Now, I realize that this would not have been nearly as fun for the kids, and we would have had a mutiny had we even suggested blowing of the train for foot, however, where was the staff to tell us about this tour? Where was the staff to share that due to being down a few trains, the wait would be seriously crazy, and that perhaps some folks would prefer to take the walking tour?
We passed the time by talking with others, praying for our showings, and taking pictures with a Jelly Belly costumed figure, a car, and, of course the Easter Bunny.
And wouldn't you know that just as we're getting close to the entrance and they are beginning to take what we thought would be our group, they CLOSE THE GATE AT OUR FAMILY.
And then, Jesus had had enough.
One of the staff comes over to us and says, "We have 4 more seats for this train."
I knew that tubal ligation was a brilliant idea.
However, despite the fact that we stood, and stood, and stood in line for 2 hours, with no food, and a few bathroom breaks, what was the response of Harper and Zane once we sat on that train?
"THIS IS SOOO AWESOME!"
The two hour wait was forgotten the very moment we were handed our paper Jelly Belly hats (which we had to wear since we were in a factory).
Forgotten. Never even spoken of again. Not brought up. Not mentioned. Not alluded to. Nada. They were handsomely rewarded with A&W Root Beer Jelly Belly's. I was rewarded with buy two, get one free, Belly Flops.
I have to give huge props to our kids. They whined maybe three times in a span of 2 hours. We were surrounded by Super Nanny candidates - all yelling, "So and so, don't do that or there won't be any tour for you. I mean it. One more time and we're going home!" Ah, the sweet sounds of the empty threat. So pointless.
Kids, Mom and Dad, but mainly Mom, can learn a great deal from you. YOU made today fun, and even though I didn't get a chance to try the "vomit", "ear wax", "boogers", or "moldy cheese" Jelly Belly's at the sample counter, which would have been great entertainment, we did indeed have fun. Your egg hunt will be well stocked tomorrow. The Belly Flops may look all elephant manish, but they taste awesome - and now, having been on the factory tour, we know why!
On the drive home we went through our old stomping grounds in Highwood and showed Harper where we lived prior to Evanston (Zane was out cold in a sugar coma). She was genuinely interested in both our homes on High Street and later Sard Place. I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that I've lived here for almost 18 years.
Drive: 88 miles (roundtrip)
Wait time for 20 minute tour: 2 hours
Belly Flops, Root Beer Jelly Belly's, and a surprise key chain for my key chain collecting daughter: $28
Time with family: Priceless
And oh yeah, you just know that I left a comment card . . .
Friday, April 10, 2009
Good Friday, 2008. No, it isn't snowing today, as it was last year, but the weather report in my heart is chilly and cloudy with a chance of heavy winds and a torrential downpour. A climate that only Jesus can alter and control.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I've been quite clear about my blog-envy for Stephanie over at A Year of Crockpotting and Totally Together Journal.
I know. Envy is bad.
And yet, how can it be bad when the result from my blog-crushin' on her is so, well, good?
I've already shared the good that has come from practicing her Daily 7.
So, I decided this week to attempt to cook a meal from items currently in my pantry. For I am beginning to reinvent my pantry - stocking it full of staples so that in a bind I can, indeed, just whip something together. Turned out, after taking a quick inventory, that I had all the fixin's to make Stephanie's recipe for Poor Man's Chili.
And talk about thrifty. I had all the simple ingredients on hand, plus some leftover diced chicken and roast that I also dumped in - making it not so "poor". However, it would have been just fine had I not included the meat. It was hearty.
George loved it.
Harper loved it.
Zane had pasta.
Our freezer is happy to be taking care of the leftovers for us. Our freezer feels so important.
My goal is to continue working at keeping a well stocked pantry to assist with my weekly meal planning as well as with emergencies. I do not have the desire to do a monthly meal plan, nor do I desire to once a month cook, but I do desire to have the ability to shoot from the hip should the need arise.
Is your pantry well stocked? Stocked well enough to pull something together at a moment's notice?
She had her worship journal with her, and as has been the habit for several weeks now, we settled into our tradition of writing questions and answers back and forth regarding faith and the service.
This week, however, the written conversation took a big turn as we began a dialogue about sin and why Jesus had to die.
Without sharing the exact contents of this discussion, as it is her journal after all, it became clear to me that Harper does indeed have a fundamental belief in Jesus as the Son of God. Savior. As Lord? Well, I believe this belief only grows with time - the act of following Him completely with heart, soul, mind, and strength - one's whole being.
So, as communion was served that morning, Harper became frustrated when the plate wasn't offered to her.
In what can only be described as a stage whisper she said, "Mom! I believe! I believe!"
She was emphatic.
At that moment I realized that I could not see inside her heart. I could not be the judge of this statement, for we had just completed pages of Q&A about God's love for her and the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus in order that she may spend eternity with God in heaven. I had even shared with her how the act of communion was a symbol of Jesus giving his body and blood for her.
Thus, I summoned over an elder and friend, Ray Carmichael, and shared in whispers that this would be Harper's first time taking communion.
"Harper, this is the body of Christ. Broken for you."
I helped her to answer with, "Thanks be to God."
As the juice was passed, I made sure that it was offered to my daughter.
At first, I was saddened that George was missing this very important step in Harper's spiritual development, and yet I also knew that he wouldn't have wanted us to pass up the moment just because he wasn't present.
I realize that this is just the beginning for Harper. Having taken enough courses in seminary to now be of the belief that there isn't necessarily a "sinner's prayer" or just one "moment of belief", I know that this act of faith is a first step down a long road of her faith journey.
I am thankful that God allowed me to share this special moment with her, for I too have a memory of my first communion. It is certainly not as special. What do I remember? My partner (as I took my first communion in the Catholic Church dressed as a bride and partnered with a boy in a tux) going the wrong way after taking the Host.
He blew the blocking.
And that's my memory.
Hopefully, Harper will have a different memory of her first communion. No dress. No veil. No partner. Just Jesus. And her. And Mom. Back pew.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sorry for leaving you hanging on Thrifty Thursday.
My lack of posting that day was intentional, for I wanted to see how Saturday and Sunday would look if I truly adopted the "Daily 7" that I wrote about last week.
The result of our commitment to the "Daily 7" is this:
We've saved our weekend. We've saved our "sabbath time".
By reaching the weekend without having anything extra to straighten.
Which helped tremendously when we got a call today requesting a showing of our home 30 minutes before the potential buyers wanted to come.
This is also the first weekend where we haven't had to spend a Saturday catching up on loads of laundry.
This will be the first Sunday where we will not have to use part of the day to wash, fold, and return clothes to the proper closet.
So while this post isn't necessarily about saving money, or being thrifty and frugal, it IS about saving TIME - which is precious.
I am thrilled that we have adopted new habits. For we are now convinced that tiny tid-bits of cleaning every day can add up to big rewards on the weekends.
And that equals a saved Saturday.
Friday, April 3, 2009
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
I was pleasantly awaken this morning by, nope, not George, but Harper with a hot cup of morning joe in her hand (interestingly enough in my "No Whining" mug). It was early. Earlier than usual for her to even be up. She was dressed.
I heard Zane up as well. He was still in pj's, but had apparently discarded his nighttime pull-up, having changed into clean underwear on his own, and had already eaten breakfast.
Zane entered with a cheerful, "Good morning, Mommy. I am the Captain of Coffee and Harper is my helper. She made it."
It was true.
As George recounts it, the kids woke very early. George was already up when Harper came downstairs dressed and eagerly offering to make breakfast for everyone.
"Dad, I got breakfast. You can go walk the dog."
She heated up Zane's pancakes (we make a huge stack at the beginning of the week and freeze them), and popped some bagels in the toaster while George walked the dog down to 7-11 to pick up some coffee. He returned home to see Harper serving Zane his breakfast.
She then got the coffee going, properly doctored the morning elixir, and delivered it to me.
It wasn't even 7:30.
George said he was so overwhelmed by the actions and countenance of Harper and Zane this morning that he walked the dog in tears. We are blessed beyond measure. We know this.
We. Absolutely. Know. This.
The remainder of the morning included:
- Secretly watching Zane attempt to make his bed
- Harper telling me to step away from her dirty clothes as SHE would bring them to the hamper
- A snuggle-fest with George and Zane on the bed during which Zane used all his "love talk" to woo me
- Harper helping me make the bed
- And many other "blinks" of God's goodness that I am unable to even recount, as there seemed to be such a multitude of "mercy moments" buzzing and whizzing through the climate of our home at such a high rate of speed that I couldn't possibly get them all recorded
God can use anyone to minister.
Thanks, Lord, for using my children.
Additional thought . . . after experiencing this incredible morning, I thought it would be interesting to go back in time. Here is my post from April 3, 2008. Quite a different morning this year.