Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Reeling. It's the first word that comes to mind to describe myself this month.

According to my google search, to reel is to "lose one's balance and stagger or lurch violently".

I'm not sure who has been coming around this blog of mine recently; in fact, I've hardly ever known. Few comments are left but the number of visitors go up. It doesn't matter really, but occasionally I do ask myself why I write of the intimate parts of my life for anyone to see. I'm generally more of a private person, so it hardly makes sense that I'd be so open. Still, I have a certain ease here. At times writing helps me to process the things that go on in and around me, other times writing brings me a sense of closure. As for writing publicly, I figure I'm hardly a unique person and the things of my life are probably more common than not. Maybe in my honesty someone out there can relate, probably not in the particulars but possibly in the experience of emotion and, more importantly, in the learning. I think all of my life is really about learning: It's about learning of God, and who I am in Him. That part is the exciting part, the part easiest to share. I hope that my life (and therefore my words here) point onlookers to God. I know it isn't always the case, but it's my desire nonetheless.

So about reeling:

I've lurched violently and I've been off balance. A couple days after I last wrote I was faced with possibly the hardest decision I've had to make in my life. Of course there have been huge and impactful decisions to make before now: Following Jesus in repentance and faith? An irresistible choice! Marrying Jon? Yes, please! Beyond that there have been other big decisions to make, but none have had the same weightiness and permanent ramifications. None were quite so risky. No decision has ever been made under such duress and with so many lingering unknowns. It's one thing to make a life altering decision, it's quite another thing to make a life altering decision (one that could impact generations of our family) and have lifelong regret.

I didn't know which way to go, what to choose. I've never been so conflicted and in utter turmoil in all of my life. Paralyzed.

One afternoon I sat in a hot car for a moment just trying to get away to think without the distraction of people and responsibility. Silently I prayed for clarity and direction, desperately wanting stability of thought and emotion, desperately needing God to guide me in an undeniable way. My mind and heart raced. There was a tap at my window and the parking police said that I'd overstayed my limit and he would right me up if I didn't move immediately. I drove out of his sight and parked illegally, the only option in the area. I called Jon hoping that through prayer and thought he would have a decision made. I'd go with whatever he said, and I would have confidence in whatever decision he made.

But no. He is supportive of me. The decision wasn't a clear moral or ethical one, and since the weight of it ultimately fell on me, the decision was mine to make. Tears that I'd fought so hard could no longer be stopped and time raced and the world spun. It was as if everything I understood was pulled out from under me. What I'd desired for so long was now questionable at best. 

The next day was our anniversary, but even though my mother-in-law was visiting and we had the option of going away for a night, the sentiment of the day was heavy and we decided to stay nearby for our evening out. Up to that point Jon and I had not had focused time together, but in the end I think it served to point us in the same direction. Sometimes God leads by giving his children desires, or by redirecting desires, or by removing them entirely. We weren't sure of many things, but we were coming to the same conclusions. It seemed right that in the celebration of our marriage, we would be united and likeminded.

I'm still reeling. I do think we made a good decision, but this experience has caused me to questions many things. I've had questions about how God answers prayer and about my relationship with Him because, yeah, he had seemed silent to me. I've questioned the way I've understood certain Bible passages. I've wondered how to differentiate between feelings and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. I've wondered why God is doing what He is doing, and I know that is not my place.

I have also wondered if I acted like Peter, stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus in the water only to look around at the danger and begin to fear and doubt. It comforts me that Jesus pulled Peter out of the water and lead him back to the boat. Peter later went on to serve the Lord bravely and wholeheartedly. God doesn't allow our weaknesses and doubt to go to waste when He is at work in us.


I've been in my head a lot this month. The days race on around me, and I've had a hard time pulling myself out of deep thought and being present and helpful to those around me. Summer is ending soon, and I commit and recommit to enjoying those around me...

(On a short hike to the beach with my kids last week)

(I had lost interest in taking pictures, so it was good to see things through my lens again. Unfortunately, I forgot to check my white balance and exposure settings.)

(Mud fights for the boys)

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul." 
Ps. 143:8

"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God."
Ps. 42:11


Monday, July 28, 2014

July Closing

This is the part of summer when I feel the days are just slipping by. I love the summer months and the break from school. We have a few good solid weeks left before the school year begins, but all the back-to-school chatter and advertisements are making me count my days, pace myself, and savor the freedom.

Jon was away last week, so I pulled out my kids' "Summer List" (their annual bucket list of sort) and we picked a few items to check off. It was no surprise that sleeping outside made the list again this year, so that's what we planned for. It made sense since roughing it isn't Jon's favorite thing to do when a cozy bed is just a few steps away.

I believe this was the fourth summer now that the kids and I have slept together under the stars. It has become our little summer tradition.

In the afternoon we inflated mattresses and set out layers and layers of blankets, finishing with the kids' quilts which covered their beds during the pre-school years. Nostalgic for sure.

I wanted to make our evening memorable, so we hopped on our bikes and pointed toward the coast. I'm not sure who will remember it most, but that ride seems ingrained in my mind. So lovely. We passed by a street call Lucky, and it struck me that luck has nothing to do with it. My heart thanked God for his kindness toward we. What a blessing, really. This is what I get to do, this is my job. My uniform was a pair of cut off jean shorts, a flouncy tank with crocheted straps, and flip flops. My work is real, it is significant, and it is fun.

Anyway, back to our evening... We rode down to a little taco place, then continued up the coast for some ice cream. We investigated a bike path, then detour by way of the beach. We made it home in time for the sun to set; after showers we cozied up under the stars, our heads all pointing toward the middle for nighttime conversation.

And what sort of things did we talk about? Just silly things, really. With three boys ages 7, 9, 11 you just have to roll with it (and maybe try to steer a bit). In the course of our conversation, the boys realized that peanut butter is brown. Their color blind eyes see it as green and they were appalled by the thought of poop colored spread! It turns out that some of them see chicken noodle soup as also being green. And boogers look orange. It never occurred to me to tell them that peanut butter is brown...

Um, we also looked at the starts and passing airplanes, hoping for a shooting start. One boy confessed that once he saw a shooting star, but since he couldn't think of a wish fast enough he wished for another shooting star.

Jacob and I shared a mattress, the other three slept sideways on the other mattress. Unfortunately, the night turned out to be very dewy and I would discover that my mattress had a couple holes. All night long I awoke to the feeling of deck boards under my back, and the mattress needed to be refilled every hour or so. It wasn't the most refreshing night, and my back suffered for a couple days.

The kids slept out there a second night, but I chose the comfort of my bed. 

Other than that, the kids are involved in lots of projects recently. The school room is more of a project room now: Michael is building a model helicopter, Olivia and Andrew are building a popsicle stick house (complete with rooms, furniture, and soldered light fixtures, and a deck). Neighborhood fruit trees have brought in those shiny green beetles, so Andrew has been catching them and tying a string around their body (under the wings). Then he flies them like a kite, or like a flying beetle on a leash. 

Also, more rocket flying.

Jacob can usually be found investigating something or other under the bushes, or playing some imaginary game. Here, a big palm pod became his toy boat.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Growing Up

My birthday follows Jon's, just a week apart (+1 year). It seems fitting that we would celebrate together in some way since at 36 I have spent the greater part of my life growing up with him. Actually it just struck me now that exactly 20 years ago, unbeknownst to me, I was about to begin my relationship with him. What a ride it has been! I can remember that summer so well, all the feelings and the wonder!

Last week we took off one evening after dinner for the seaside, a simple place for a simple celebration with the kids. Just a few days prior, Jon had his wisdom teeth removed so he was still in some pain and couldn't eat much solid food. With that in mind, Michael and I had made little pots de crème au chocolat with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

While setting up our little spot, Olivia and I talked about my mom. I mentioned that I've only ever seen one picture of her in her thirties, just a small wallet size family picture, and perhaps two or three photographs of her in her twenties. I don't actually own any to even show Olivia. I would have loved to have pictures of my mother over the course of her life time. 

So Olivia became photographer for Jon and I. Maybe one day she will be glad to have photos of her parents in their thirties. This is one reason I have forced myself to step in front of the lens on occasion. 

I didn't want to push it with Jon, making him pose for shots with his mouth all sore and inflamed just days after surgery, but I had to include this next one because this is real life. We must have been calling out to one of the boys who was probably doing something he shouldn't...

The next couple are way over-exposed, but I like them because of my little Jack. He is my affectionate one-- such a fun kid!

A little dessert and football before the sun set...

It's true that my birthdays are increasingly becoming a day I'd like to forget. I wish I weren't so fickle, but I really don't enjoy the idea of getting older! I'd prefer not to look into the mirror and see my skin and hair changing, or know that my back issues will likely remain with me till I see the other side of eternity. I sometimes wonder if a widening middle is a given for those past a certain age. I wonder if slowness of body is primarily permitted or simply inevitable.

I was inspired by a 93 year old man who ran the same race I did a couple years ago, just as I am impressed by the 80-something year old that still teaches dance. I recently saw a really old couple tuck thin white strands of hair into swim caps before heading into the waves with their flippers and boogie boards.  I love to see a fresh faced older woman, fit and confident in her age, not fighting it but accepting and redefining her beauty as it changes.

I believe the choices I have made in the past and the choices I make in the years to come will greatly impact how I age. I also think many people begin to think and act old long before they need to, and I'm not sure why.

I hope to enjoy each season of life for their unique blessings, and I hope I can do it gracefully not acting my age. ;)


Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Crown for Her Head

Saturday morning she slept till 11am. She had arrived late the night before; we stayed up even later, her talking, me listening. In the morning I quietly slipped a note under her door before the boys and I left for a couple hours in case she should awake to an empty house.

Afternoon hours slipped by. The pool was filled with boys slashing, yelling the way boys do. The younger ones were inspecting the garden, so I slipped inside to slice watermelon and lifeguard from the window. Behind me I heard a faint pitter-patter; turning I saw that the petals had all fallen from my rose, leaving a little pile of delicate color on the counter.

Pity, I thought.  Then an idea came, one which was perfectly suited for my girl on a day such as it was.

On the deck she laced the petals onto embroidery thread and saved them in a bowl in the refrigerator. Later as boys showered up and the sun set, she and I did a little creating. We enjoy turning something ordinary, maybe broken and used up, into something unexpected.

A second chance. New and beautiful.

She, being the Olivia that she is, came back from camp with knees looking like this. She may be girly, but she plays to win. She says the wounds, still oozing days later, were entirely worth it.

Our earnest desire and solemn prayer for her and for all our children is this:

"The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.

She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."
Ps. 4:7-9