Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of an Era

I realized just recently that this is not only the end of the year, but also the end of a decade, and not just any decade, but the first decade of a new millennium. Kind of weird, huh? We have never been party people on New Year's Eve, as a matter of fact even on this momentous year we will probably not stay up until midnight. However, I could not let this day pass by without taking some time to note some of the most dramatic events of the past decade (for me). In no particular order, other than how my disorganized mind remembers them, I give you happenings of the first decade of the 21st century:

1. I graduated from high school. I remember receiving my diploma and thinking that was a lot of work for one little piece of paper!
2. I worked my first "real" job. Doing stock at the Buckle led to great things-like a real appreciation for the minimum wage employee.
3. I learned how to drive. At the tender age of 18 (and a half) I triumphantly received my driver's license. It only took me twice as long as the average teen.
4. I obtained my associates degree. I still fondly remember college and it was a sweet enough experience to motivate me to continue working towards my bachelor's. Maybe in the next decade...
5. I fell in love-need I say more?
6. I moved away from home. Probably more than anyone realizes this helped me to learn to depend on the Lord.
7. I got married! Hard to believe in February it will be seven years...
8. Joel joined the Army. I never expected to be married to a military man-much less one in the Army!
9. We endured two deployments. Conquered them through the grace of God and we thrived.
10. We had two beautiful babies. I wouldn't change that for the world.
11. I moved 7 times-several of them by myself.
12. We bought our first new car together.
13. I learned how to text and use Craigslist-more important than you may realize.
14. I found a love for blogging.
15. I met God in a whole new way...

Some important, some not so much, but it is hard to sum up ten years of living in a few sentences. I am slightly melancholy to see this year end, but I know tomorrow I will wake up knowing that what the Lord has in store for 2010 will be greater than anything I can comprehend. Because that's just how He is... I leave you with my verses for 2009 and my life verse:

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.For in just a very little while,

"He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him."
But we are not of those who shrink back
and are destroyed,
but of those who believe and are saved."
Hebrews 10:35-39 (NIV)

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Manifesto for 2010

I took our Christmas tree down today. It was a little harder than usual, since Joel decided to name our tree this year. Goodbye, Firbert, you were the noblest of noble firs. However, even saying farewell to our tree that seemed to have a personality didn't make me too sad. I love, love, love taking down the Christmas decorations. I pretty much prefer putting them away to putting them up!:) I know that sounds funny, but I love the openess of all that space. I like the empty areas it leaves behind.

Probably, that is why I love the new year. It is like a big, blank space. I can fill it up, or leave it empty. The fewer things I put in a space the easier it is to keep clean. That also holds true of the new year. I think that the fewer frivilous commitments I make the easier it will be to keep my important priorities in order. I know that is a lot easier to write than do.

Towards the end of this year I have focused on eliminating clutter. I have been turning a critical eye towards pretty much everything in the house. If we don't use it (often!) and I don't love it, I have been selling it on Craigslist, donating it to Goodwill or just tossing it in the trash! I have been amazed by how many things I have considered "must haves" that I haven't used in years. I have run across things that I realized are really useful but I have been too lazy to put them into service (like the great do-it-yourself cookbook my mom gave me that I am absolutely loving). Or the things that I keep just because I have always had them. We are getting ready to part with a few pieces of our living room furniture. That is actually a big deal, because if you have ever been to my house, you know I don't have a lot!

I plan on doing that with my schedule. There are things that I will always need to do. There are definitely things I want to do.There are things that I have opportunity to do but have just not taken the time to do them. But I have also begun to realize that there are plenty of things that I do just because I have always done them. Or things I do just because I think "everybody" expects me to do them. Those time-wasters are clutter I can afford to be rid of!

The hope and promise of a new year, "fresh, with no mistakes in it" as Anne of Green Gables would say, has always been highly alluring to me. The same is true of this coming year. I am looking forward to 2010, but not because I am disappointed with the results of '09. Rather, buoyed by its successes, I look forward to making even greater strides in the new year. Here's to abolition of clutter, both in my home and on my calendar! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Case for (After) Christmas (Deals)!

So, as everyone probably knows, much of what I know about being thrifty I learned from my mom. When I read this article today(see it here) it made me laugh out loud. It is all about shopping the after Christmas sales for more than just Christmas decor and gift wrap.My mom has been doing this for years! And it forgets to mention all the other things that will be on sale like, the special "two for one" or free sample sets of cleaning supplies, hand soap and razor sets that will be on sale. Especially if you have the patience to keep checking back after the new year. I have long purchased many health and beauty items at after Christmas sales. Last year I got Swiffer dusters for such a great deal that I paid to ship them home to myself and still saved money.

And the article's author really didn't give enough attention to the great prices on clothes this time of year. That has more to do with the fact that everyone is dragging out their spring attire, but here in good ol' CO we have at least three more months of winter-if not more! I have paid 97 cents for sweaters and shirts in the end of January. And still had plenty of time to wear them, not even considering that I will still be the same size next year! I don't even waste my time usually shopping when things are only 50% off.

This year, I have to agree with the article on this point, it looks like stores were more prudent with their stock. I don't know that I will have the success with 90% off like I did last year. We purchased an artificial tree for $1.92 then! I also got plain, red, green and even white bows at Hobby Lobby for 19 cents for three, too. Last week, I bought a few things there at half-off and it was slim pickings. However, I have to say that I am holding out, I already told Joel that if it isn't at least 75% off then we won't buy it... and I am thinking I am not the only one!

All this to say, if you have only been shopping the after Christmas sales for gift wrap with snowmen on it, tree lights and ornaments, then you are missing out on some of the best deals out there. January is the best time of year for many things, clothes, toys, household supplies, paper goods, and health and beauty items. So get out of the seasonal item aisle and grab some deals! Thanks for the good advice, mom.:)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Giving Up on Christmas

It's Christmas. We celebrate it every year, taking notice of it with parades, shows, songs, gifts, food and invoking holiday spirit with everything from napkins to socks. Some years, to be honest, I enjoy it more than others. Christmas spirit is very much dependent on what is happening elsewhere in "real" life. This year has been a better year in some ways than others. However, no matter how excited (or ambivalent) I am feeling concerning the hoopla that surrounds the holiday I never fail to be arrested by the real reason for the season. This year is no different in that regard. It seems every year that I am struck by some new facet of that miraculous story, feeling in tune with a particular character. I have my parents to thank for that, from a young age they encouraged us to find a player in that wonderful Story and put ourselves in their shows.

I have often thought fondly of the shepherds, those bottom-of-the-social ladder characters. I also have tried to see how upstanding, rule-following Joseph handled things. I investigated the inn keeper-such a tiny, but oh-so-important, role. Last year, Christ Himself a tiny, fragile, Babe, captured my attention (see that post here). This year though, it has been His mother.

Many songs and stories have been written about the Mother of our Lord. I am fascinated by her youth, her obedience and the suffering she must have endured. I have searched the Scriptures to see what set her apart. She was defintely obedient, her response to truly incredible news was:

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 NIV

But to most of us that is old hat. We have heard her obedience lauded (as it should be) since childhood. But I don't think her amazing obedience was restricted to carrying the Christ-Child. I think that she was chosen for another special reason as well: she knew when to let go.

I apologize if that does not hit you straight between the eyes as it did for me. God knew that Mary had to have a perfect blend of holding on and letting go. You see, she knew the Scriptures. She knew that, one way or another, she would not get to hold onto this Child. He wasn't her's. I suspect that in that tiny stable in Bethlehem she started holding Jesus with open hands. She had to have the strength to love Him with all her heart (and probably in an even different way than you or I, after all she was His mother!) but also the strength to let Him become the Man He was meant to be.

Don't think for a second that Mary could have stood in the way of God's plan for Jesus. But also don't be fooled that she was given superhuman abilities to not care that her Baby was born to die. She could have tried to protect Him, she could have tried to stand in God's way. I can promise you that would have only resulted in pain, albeit a different kind than what I am sure she felt. She could have wrestled with God, begged Him for her Son's life. But I don't think she did. She was not honored above all women because she always got what she wanted. Her heralded character traits were not persistence and doggedness.

I think the reason that this astounded me was because I have always seen Mary as somewhat super-spiritual. But I think her release of Christ to fulfill His Father's plan was a deliberate choice. I mean, I knew that she loved Jesus, I know that she was pained by His death. But then I began to see hints of her open hands in the Word:

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:18

Right after the arrival of the shepherds, Mary began thinking about all these things that were happening. She pondered over how this Baby was like no other. And she realized He wasn't hers. That God's ways are not our ways. That the visit from the lowly herdsmen was one of the first indications that He belonged to everyone.

I am always trying to hold on. My obedience does not extend to giving up, to letting go. I think I have had this mistake conception that obedience meant hanging on, digging in, always persisting. But sometimes the greatest obedience comes in letting God be God. In not trying to insist on your own way, in not even insisting that God explain His ways to you.

Imagine the tears that fell as Mary acknowledged that her Baby wasn't her's. Imagine the pain as she looked down that road and couldn't see the end. Her surprise that the King of Kings got the same treatment as an animal! But she didn't fret and she didn't fight. She treasured all these things...She looked up and she let go...

My Christmas wish is that I would learn to let go. Give my children, my husband, my money to God. Be obedient to His call to forsake all and follow Him. To learn that obeying sometimes means that letting go is more important than holding on. Isn't it all His anyways?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


So, ever since I discovered the "bloggy" tradition of having a special "100 things about me" as your 100th blog post I have been somewhat looking forward to it. I say somewhat because there probably isn't 100 things you want to (or already didn't) know about me. However, 100 posts is a big milestone. I had hoped to reach it by the end of November, but due to our family emergency it didn't work out. So, (drumroll please)here it is:

1. Least favorite chore: dishes.
2. Most favorite chore: bathrooms.
3. I have read the Bible through at least 5 times
4. My favorite Christmas carol is "The Carol of the Bells" especially Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version
5. I re-read "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder almost every winter because my mom always loved it and she said it made her feel thankful. I find it does the same for me!
6. I like to fold laundry
7. but I hate putting it away.
8. I hate hot tea and will not drink it!
9. I have a coffee pot and filters in my house but no coffee. We don't drink at it home so I only have it for company.
10. I have one of those little decorative flag-posts and I love changing the flag every month.
11. I have never owned a bottle of perfume.
12. I would rather read a book than watch television.(And I love television!)
13. I love that Carson says "bebes" like he is French, instead of "babies".
14. I prefer summer over winter
15. but I prefer winter clothes over summer clothes.Too much exposed skin!
16. If I had my druthers I would never leave the house without a necklace-I love costume jewelry.
17. I almost never take a gift to a child's party in a bag.I always use gift wrap because the kids like it so much better.
18. I hate taking a bath!
19. Literally, the last time I took a bath was when I was 16 and sick. Only showers for me.
20. I love a box of candy. I like to take a bite out of a bunch of different pieces and then put them back in the box.:)
21. I love being at home with my kids and I cry if I think about what it would be like to be apart from them every day.
22. I hate uneven numbers. It really bugs me that my birthday is on the 11th.
23. That is also why I was married on the 22nd.
24. I love wearing a scarf and gloves.
25. I always have gloves in my coat pocket.
26. I like lip gloss but I hate lipstick. I wore lip gloss in my wedding.
27. Clothes are my preferred gift. I like to give them, I love to recieve them.
28. Or a gift card.
29. My favorite toy growing up was my dollhouse. That is probably why Jocelyn has 4.
30. If I had a choice between going to the beach or a museum I would pick the museum. Every time!
31. I have always wanted to live in one of the pretend houses in Ikea. You know, the really little ones? I think it would be fun!
32. I don't like crackers. Especially not in my soup.
33. I rarely read a book or watch a movie twice. I have to love it to be willing to read it or see it again.
34. I usually like a black and white photo (or sepia) better than a colored one.
35. I have always wanted to celebrate Hanukah. I love the tradition (and the colors)!
36. I always wanted to marry a taller man. And I did!
37.I would rather have tile, hardwood or even cement than carpet.
38. I have never been able to get past level two of Super Mario Brothers.
39.I like pens with caps better than ones that click.
40. I have a clock in literally every room of my home (some have as many as three!) and I am still late!
41. I prefer reuseable bags over plastic ones. I even take my own bag to Kohl's.
42. All of my shirts are hung by color, sleeve length and whether or not they have a collar.
43. I make amazing Rice Krispy treats.
44. I have never broken any bones.
45. I have only stayed overnight in the hospital for the birth of my children.
46. When I was younger I was going to name my kids Olivia and Octavius. I only like one of those names now...guess which one?
47. My favorite band of all time is the Newsboys.
48. My favorite group for right now is Relient K.
49. I have never taken a formal exercise class.
50. I have never been a member of a gym.
51. All my curtains are valances, I don't have any drapes.
52. I keep my wedding dress under my bed.
53. I hate chocolate with fruit.
54. If you wanted to torture me you could feed me chocolate covered cherries.
55. I hate a movie with a sad ending. I won't watch most of them and the ones I do I don't like!
56. I think all hot chocolate should include marshmallows.
57. I have never dyed my hair.
58. I think I have the best kids in the whole world.
59. My favorite photos of Joel and me are the kissing ones.:)
60. I don't do Santa decor.
61. I wish my birthday was in the summer.
62. Because I always wanted to have a pool party.
63. Which is weird because I don't swim!
64. One of my most treasured possessions is an old, beat-up lunch box my grandpa used.
65. I cried when they changed Herbal Essences shampoo. I used the green one for years.
66. My favorite thing to do at the zoo is feed the giraffes.
67. I want a pond.
68. I always wanted my eyes to be brown when I was growing up.
69. Now, I think it is really cool that my kids have blue eyes.
70. I've never had crutches.
71. Probably, in part, because I have never broken a bone.
72. I always choose chocolate over vanilla.
73. My favorite "eat-out" dessert is the Maple Nut Blondie at Applebee's,
74. I always said I would have white lights on my Christmas tree when I grew up.
75. Now I have colored ones because my husband and kids like them better.
76. I am fascinated by mummies.
77. And I found out this summer, also by cemeteries.
78. One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the crypts in New Orleans
79. and visiting a cemetery in Mexico.Does that make me macabre?
80. I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
81. I love to people-watch with Joel.
82. Actually, I like to do pretty much anything (or nothing) with him!
83. I have never had acrylic nails applied professionally.
84. I love a pedicure
85. and a massage!
86. My sister did my hair for my wedding.
87. I do all my own mending.
88. I am not afraid of mice. I don't like them, but I am not afraid of them.
89. I play pretty mean bass on "Rock Band".
90. I never light candles.
91. I hate the post office and avoid it at all costs.
92. I hate getting up before 7:00 am.
93. I prefer to be in bed no later than 10:30 pm.
94. I like my sleep!
95. Mexican food is my favorite
96. unless I am having a steak, salad and baked potato
97. or a big burger and fries!
98. I hate things with missing pieces: puzzles, toys, anything!
99. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11.
100. I hope I never have to write 100 things about myself again!

If you have read all of these you deserve a medal! Or a nice, long nap from being bored to death...:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Status Update

I'm listening to: "Let it Snow, Baby... Let it Reindeer" by Relient K. Always late to catch on but this is probably my most favorite Christmas album. I always cry over "I Celebrate the Day" but I also love "Merry Christmas, Here's to Many More" and "In Like a Lion (Always Winter). Thanks, Kate, for introducing me!

I'm watching: Criminal Minds (anyone else totally crabby over the end of last week's episode? ugh!) and also "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" which is completely making me want to re-read the whole amazing Chronicles of Narnia series!

I'm reading: "Courting Trouble" by Deeane Gist. Well, I haven't actually started it yet but I will soon and I am really looking forward to it.

I'm putting off: cleaning my laundry room. I trashed it pulling out the Christmas decor but it has needed a major overhaul for a while. My sister informed me the last time she was here that I should keep the door shut...

I want to: address my Christmas cards (hope to do that today) and make candy! I have picked out four different kinds of truffles that I want to make and I am really eager to get started. I also have a cookie exchange coming up and I am looking forward to getting some new recipes.

I'm excited about: Jocelyn singing in church next Sunday. This will be her first "performance" as part of the preschool choir. I am already charging the video camera! I am sure it will be adorable. I am also excited about Christmas Eve-our tradition is to attend the service and then do dinner out. It will be a great family time.

I'm thankful that: it is snowing outside, but warm inside. Also, that we have almost all our Christmas presents purchased (I don't have anything for Joel but he won't take long-everything he wants is so expensive!) Also, that our Savior came in the form of a precious, sweet, innocent Baby to live to die for my sins...

What's up with you?:)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To Jocelyn on Her 4th Birthday

I had to post twice in the same day because I didn't want your birthday to go by without dedicating a post to you. You are my special first child. I marvel every day that you have been in our lives for only four short years. I can't imagine a day without you. You are always reminding me of things, "Mom, did you bring your cell phone?" "Mom, did you get Carson a drink?" and a million other things that I so often forget. You are my big helper.I was unloading the dishwasher the other day and you just came up and started putting the silverware away. I know you won't always see helping me as a fun thing, chores will soon become...chores.But I am thankful for sharing these tasks with you now.

I love how you love your brother. "Mom, when we get home I am going to pull Carson in the laundry basket." You are always so sweet when he is insistent on hugging/kissing/patting you. You have never been a jealous big sister. You love caring for him. It is wonderful to see the bond that you share.

I am so pleased that you are learning how to read. I was delighted when you wrote your name for the first time a couple of weeks ago! It is a joy to see you learning. It is hard to believe that you knows all your colors, how to count and you are memorizing so many sweet Awana verses. I love hearing you say,"All Your words are true.". You love reading the Bible and you never forget to pray at mealtimes. You started our family tradition of holding hands during prayer. It is hard to be mad at someone when you are holding their is a sweet reminder.

There are many days, and sometimes even many times during a day, when you can frustrate me. But, I think that reflects more on me than you:) But, every day I am so thankful for the precious gift God gave me in my Josie Posie. Happy Birthday, Jocelyn.
Love, Mommy

Craigslist and Christmas

vI am a Craigslist junkie. I troll it like I am going to find a hidden treasure any day now. I also look at everything. The stranger the ad title the more likely I am to look at it. I have only recently discovered the "want" section and as I am trying to rid myself of all excess household goods, I pore over that one the most thoroughly. Just in case someone might remind me of something I want to get rid of. Because I look at them so carefully I have become aware of a trend. People ask for a lot of weird stuff, but I can't believe the number of people who ask for a helping hand.

Now I know, because I said myself at first, "How do we know these aren't just lazy/greedy/incompetent people looking for a hand-out?" The answer: we don't. But as my mom and I have concluded, it doesn't matter. I am not anyone's Holy Spirit. What I give in a spirit of generosity I do not have to account for. I am called to give to those in need. I don't have to qualify their need. I don't need a ten step application for donating food, clothes or anything else to someone who asks for it. If I give the weary-looking tattered guy on the street corner $5 and he spends it on booze, that is between him and God. But if I tell him to be warm and well-fed and give him a cheeky grin...well the Bible is obvious about how God feels about that!

So, the question is: what to do? My heart was breaking driving down the highway Sunday noticing all the homeless shelters along the water. In our weather it is cold in my house, much less in a shanty made of tarp. Also, there was a heart breaking post on Craigslist from a military family who needed food for the weekend. Guy said he had four kids and some financial problems and aid wasn't available on Saturdays and Sundays. I know what we make. It is a very real possibility that someone at Joel's rank with four kids would be in a tight spot. A couple that I know just recently decided that the husband should join the reserves to gain access to healthcare. They are struggling to make ends meet and their child has ongoing health problems. You don't even have to be looking to find people who need help!

So, what to do, besides feel helpless and hopeless? What does what I give actually mean? Well, I truly believe that my pittance turns into abundance in the hands of the Lord. So, I give: cans of soup, shoe boxes, outgrown clothes. I give my time, and I become emotionally invested. I cry when I see the woman holding a sign that says she has kids she needs to feed. I don't try to evaluate whether or not she is "needy". I allow it to break my heart, that no matter her economic status, that she has been reduced to a place where she feels it is more profitable to do that than anything else. I can't resist a Salvation Army bell-ringer. My Christmas tradition is to never pass one without putting something in.

Most of all I pray. That I won't judge, that I will be open. That I will be like Jesus. I can't take care of every homeless person. I can't answer every Craigslist ad. However, I can try to make the spirit of Christmas, which is the grace that come through Christ Jesus, last all year long. And if nothing else, I can let it motivate me to be thankful. Because I know the Reason for the Season and He has promised to supply all my needs according to His glorious riches...and maybe along the way I can let Him use me to supply someone else's.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Sewing Story

"Oh Lord, You have searched me and know me, You know when I sit and when I rise, You perceive my thoughts from afar. You hem me in behind and before, You have laid Your hand upon me." -from Psalm 139

The Lord has heard a lot from me lately. It all started with some photos. I was editing some pictures of the kids when I realized Carson's eye was looking odd. Instead of a black spot where his pupil was (or even a red one) that area was milky and cloudy looking. I probably would have just thought it was because I don't have a top-of-the-line camera. Probably, except I had just read an article about retinoblastoma. In the article the little girl's eye cancer had been diagnosed through a photo-her eye looked just like Carson's did. And she had to have it removed in order to save her life.

I am not a WebMD mom. Having a dad who is a doctor has taught me that the easiest answer is usually the best one. 99.9% of things we think are fatal, aren't. I did not want to be guilty of Munchausen's by proxy! However, when I showed the photos to Joel, he didn't just call me crazy. So, since Carson's 18 month check-up was already scheduled we decided to wait and ask the peditrician.

He didn't tell us we were crazy, either. He scheduled a referral with the opthamologist. Not what we wanted to hear. The opthamologist didn't think there was anything wrong-until he saw the photos. Then he worried us by setting up an immediate return appointment.

Let's just say I have driven myself crazy for the last week with all the possibilities. Could it be true that my delightful,busy little boy was deathly ill? I kept petitioning the Lord, "Give me strength, but most of all keep my baby safe." This verse kept coming back to me. He hems me in. He was there at the beginning and He, He alone, will be there to complete what He has begun. He is on the other side of everything.

I would love to say that I have been completely calm, peaceful and sane. Joel would be glad to tell you otherwise. However, every time my emotions threatened to gain the upper hand the Holy Spirit gently reminded me who was hemming me in.

So today, we went back to the opthamologist. The original doctor throughly examined him. A second doctor came in to look everything over. They dilated his eyes and glared ridiculously bright lights in them, much to Carson's dismay. And then, blessed relief. He is fine! Then the doctor told us that he didn't want to say, but after viewing the photos he had felt there was a very real possibility that Carson had a tumor. We hadn't been imagining the image-and it could have been very life-threatening. The doctor was very glad that had not been the case. How does he think we felt?!

Oh, Lord, You have searched me. I am glad that today was not the day when I was found in need of a serious trial. I am so thankful for my healthy family. I know that the Lord is perfect in all He does. He makes no mistakes. I can only praise Him for not choosing our family at this time. Let me be worthy. I can see the Father carefully examining all the seams in my life, checking them for durability, putting in stitches where some are broken or missing. He started the stitching and He isn't about to give up in the middle of the project. He keeps all the threads in place, and I am so grateful. But most of all I am thankful that He is always on the other side, hemming me in.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Musings on Motherhood

Being the mom sometimes is not the most fun when:

-you are the only one to replace the toilet paper.
-you are scraping tooth paste off the shower curtain
-you fold a whole load of laundry, leave the room for two seconds, and return to it all on the floor
-you find a cup of "chunky" milk
-you are the only one who can hear a child crying between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am
-you never get to eat anything that is not room temperature
-"relaxing" is trying to watch tv, talk on the phone, and surf the 'net while waiting for a load of laundry to dry
-cracking a book equates to a siren song, drawing your kids to you from wherever they are at

"Somedays peanuts, somedays shells", my grandmother says. Today was sort of a shell day. Sometimes I wish that I had the money to pay someone to take on all the not fun parts of motherhood. Like turning the socks right side out before washing them. Or pouring the water out of the clean sippy cups from the dishwasher (doesn't matter how I load them, they still turn upside down and fill with water). Or reassembling the fruit puzzle for the 5,283rd time-today! However, I must say-before all of you comment (okay, I wish!) with silly cliches such as, "you will be sad when they are bigger", that I do love my kids. More than life. Sometimes, though like tonight, I must say that I will not be sorry when I no longer am forced to eat cold spaghetti. I just think that no mom of older kids, or grown ones, ever says to herself, "Boy, I really miss pulling Polly Pocket shoes out of my vacuum cleaner..." People who say things like that need a dose of reality...or an opportunity to scrape Pop-Tart off their carpet.I will miss the hugs, the kisses, the adorable stick figure drawings, the funny faces and cute sayings. But I won't miss cleaning gum out of my trash can...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lent Came a Little Late This Year

So, I realized that I had a little shopping problem. My answer: a fast. I know, it seems kind of funny to fast buying clothes but I wanted something kind of dramatic. I think I have the cutest kids ever, so of course, they deserve the cutest clothes. Well, they don't have to have quite so many. My sister is always so generous to hand down all her daughter's things to Josie. Carson has picked up things from Gideyon and Mark both. And of course, Grammy adds to the supply! So it is not like they ever "need" anything (besides shoes, which they both outgrow at an alarming rate!). Also, I have a tendency to "reward" myself by buying new things for me. So, I decided, before it turned into a clinical dilemma to do something about it. Hence, the clothes fast. For the last 2 1/2 weeks I haven't purchased one item of clothing. Not a shirt, pair of pants, jacket, dress, not even a sock! It has been good. It has helped me to realize that we have more than enough. It has helped me to be a little more creative with my own wardrobe. I was especially tempted weekend before last because I was attending PWOC conference and I love to have a reason to get something new! I am sure I personally could make use of some new things, since I only have two pairs of jeans that look decent. But, it is making me realize that I use the word "need" far too loosely! The kids, of course, are doing just fine. Carson has no snowpants, but thankfully it hasn't really snowed. Jocelyn, if she stayed the same size, would be fine for a few more years. (Okay, okay, so she is so much more fun to shop for than Carson! Matching hairthings, cute dresses, fun colors...)

Anyway, I still have another week and some to go. My fast officially ends on Friday, November 13th. But, already it has taught me something important. Just because it is a "steal", and trust me thanks to my mom's fine tutelage I find plenty of those, doesn't mean I have to purchase it. Sometimes it is better to make use of what you already have and be thankful that the Lord is so gracious.It feels good to "just say no!" sometimes. Trust me, my budget has certainly appreciated the reprieve...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Fries with a Side of Grace

So, I am a guilty participant in a sordid love affair food. I know, I know, it is full of horrible, terrible, life-threatening fats,calories and sodium. Not too mention it lacks the all-important vitamins and minerals! But, I can't help myself. Offer me a greasy burger and fries and all willpower seeps out of me. I think that there are support groups but I am not ready to admit that I have a problem! Anyway, I was going to try to behave tonight. We were going grocery shopping at Costco (I love that store!) and we were going to be frugal and have dinner there. Still not healthy, but cheap. However, a trap had been set for me. We were passing right by...Jack-in-the-Box. I love french fries pretty much anywhere, but theirs just take the cake. Teeny bit of skin, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, fried to perfection and then you add the magic: the ranch. Not from the pump! Icky! No, the perfectly chilled, conveniently portioned sides of "Buttermilk Ranch Sauce". Oooh, I wax poetic just thinking about it! Joel, as usual, read my mind. "Do you want to stop at Jack's?", he says. Does a flower want sun? Does a child want candy? Yes!Yes!

So we turned around. I have realized that as much as I like their burgers (love me a Sourdough Jack)in my quest to be (somewhat) cheap I decided to just have tacos (they would require a whole other blog post) and fries. We ordered and our food was brought promptly. We dug in, me savoring every bite. Except that I had to share with Carson. Neither of us like curly fries, which are Josie's favorite, and Joel didn't order fries. So, I was stuck sharing with the fry monster. No fun and I was trying not to be selfish. It is especially difficult when after every bite he would say, "I wanna fry!". Too hard to resist! So we shared but I have to say, he got the bigger half. Anyway, our meal was drawing to a close when a Jack employee appeared with a tray. He stood there for half a second and then said, "Oh, they made your order twice. Well, here you go, just have this!"

What? He was like a large black-shirted magical fry fairy! Just when I had given Carson the remainder of my precious potatoes he appears with more! What bliss, and I still had ranch to spare! And, that is not to mention that everything else was also on the tray like a magical, grease-fried episode of deja vu! Things like that make me so happy. Just little things.

And of course, being the strange creature that I am, it made me think about God. How He doesn't obey the law that if you give it all away you have nothing left. Just when I thought I was out of fries, giving them away, more appeared out of nowhere. I didn't ask for them, I didn't even need them, but I got them anyway. Isn't that just the definition of grace? (I know, you are thinking, only Clare could turn fried potatoes into a spiritual experience, but you do have to remember that they were from Jack-in-the-Box.) But really, I think sometimes God just does things like that to tickle us. He also does it on a much larger scale. Like the little check that arrived today when I was thinking that payday was forever away. Like when I think I am the worst mom/wife/cook/blogger/fill in the blank_________ in the world and someone reminds me that "God made you special and He loves you very much." Like when Jesus continues to bless me and work in my life even when I am not paying attention. But especially when I feel like I have given until I have nothing left. In God's economy it is always "time a little something", always a widow's jar of oil. There is always an extra order of fries waiting in the back...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Tale of Two Pumpkin Patches

I hope everyone got the chance to see the pumpkin patch photos I posted on my Facebook page about two weeks ago. We had a fantastic time. There was a corn maze, lots of photo opportunities, a private hay ride, a really neat bin full of corn kernels for the kids to play in and hundreds of gorgeous (cheap!) pumpkins. The weather was perfect and everything was just right. I had wanted to go to a really fun patch and I looked and looked for the perfect one. This one wasn't close, but it had everything I knew I wanted. I also decided (based on previous experience) that I wanted to be sure to go early. I wanted the best choice of pumpkins. It was great.

Well, we received an invitation to go to another patch. I knew it wasn't so much my style. It didn't have the things that I wanted. There was no maze, no corn bin, and the tractor ride was just a quick, basic to the patch and back affair-without hay! Worst of all, we had waited too long. We had a horrible ice storm that damaged all the pumpkins and the few this place had were mostly rotten and stunted. But, all my friends were going. So, we had to go too, right?

You can probably guess where this is headed. I am not maligning the second place (actually, I know it can be fun at the right time) but it struck me that all too often I am influenced by what other people think. I know what the Holy Spirit is telling me, and often it is not what everyone else is saying. That second patch almost felt like the emperor's new clothes. Everyone said it was so much better but in reality they had never tried the other one. Or any other one. I am glad that I listened to my own instincts and went (even with only my family) to the first place. I knew what I wanted. I wish I was that gutsy over important things. Often, when my dad knew we were being wrongly influenced or pressured, "When you are standing alone, you are standing with God." That is not 100% true but most of the time it is. Sometimes, going to the good patch by yourself results in much greater blessings- and better pumpkins!:)- than following the crowd. Because listening to the Holy Spirit is always the right thing to do.

By the way, my second patch is mostly part of my analogy. I actually had a great day with friends, and because we got pumpkins earlier was not at all disappointed by the ruined crop! It worked out well for us in the end.:)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Normal Expectations or Nasty Neigbor?

So, I am suffering in one of those self-created conundrums that plague people with a tendency to over-think...well, everything! To cut out the blubbering the gist is this: we live in a tightly packed neighborhood. Every building has at least four families in it and most have six. That means, obviously, a lot of noise. This is compounded by the fact that, to put it bluntly-but honestly, we do not have the highest quality neighbors. So, since we live in the ghetto, noise is to be expected. I understand that. I really do. People have to talk, dogs have to bark, cars have to start. However, I firmly believe that all these activities should be restricted to matters of life-or-death after the hours of oh, say, 1:00 am. I think that is being more than generous. However, my very near (across the street) housing companions do not share my opinion. As a matter of fact, their opinion is that all fun must be had between the hours of midnight and 4:00 am. Yep, every single weekend, without fail, they are outside talking,drinking and generally carousing. Clearly they are not decent people because all of those are in bed!

So, tonight I decide to take matters into my own hands. It is Columbus Day weekend and all the soldiers are off until Tuesday. The "neighbors" decided to start up their ruckus again-for the third night in a row. So I decide to call the Military Police. The operator seemed to believe that four day weekends are an excellent excuse to party it up until all hours of the night. "Well, ma'am (so very condescending!), it IS a four-day." As if that provides a license to do whatever one please whenever he or she pleases!

That leaves me in a quandary. Is it rude that I demand that my neighbors follow the rules of polite society? Am I truly just being a fun-ruiner? I don't know. All I know is that my mom always said that nothing good happens after midnight- so true!:) And that I just want some uninterrupted sleep...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Horrible Vacation Photos (the Photos, not the Vacation!)

So, upon review I realized that our vacation photos are terrible. Several times I found myself without my camera and lacking a tripod all the photos of the two of us are pretty much arms-length photography courtesy of long-armed Joel. Don't mistake the lack of decent photos as an indicator that our vacation was not photo-worthy. We started out by leaving from New Orleans-I found the graveyards there fascinating. I couldn't believe that not only were they all over the city but that they were in such pristine condition. My macabre interest in the resting place of the dead would later be gratified again in Progreso but I will leave that for later. We got a little lost (okay more than a little) getting to the ship but that gave us time for a tour (or detour) through the French Quarter. That would probably have been more fun on foot, especially considering that we kept finding closed streets, but thanks to our trusty Rand McNally atlas-don't leave home without it!-and Joel we arrived at the port in plenty of time.

We boarded the ship to find that our first fun activity would be: a lifeboat drill! Yes, I paid hundreds of dollars and was rewarded by wasting over an hour conducting a lifeboat drill complete with hideous orange life vests. I guess I might have been thankful for the drill if we had started sinking, but as an able-bodied, literate, adult I don't think I really needed it. Afterwards we hunted the ship over to figure out where everything was. Joel found the bow of the ship had a deck and we spent the remainder of the cruise looking for a way to get to it to discover that it was not accessible on the last day! We went to dinner to find that we were seated at a table for ten, but we never had more than four other companions. Being somewhat introverted around strangers, that didn't bother me. We came back to find one of the famous Carnival towel animals in our room. I have to say that I loved our room steward. She didn't just make the bed, she cleaned the bathroom every day and actually picked up our room! It was like a little straightening fairy visited every morning and night.

The next day was a "Fun Day at Sea". We were delighted to play around on the water slides-that was one of my favorite things on the boat! We also started our really bad habit: eating five times a day! It was just too easy. Everywhere you turned there was food! I am glad that we didn't cruise for any longer or I wouldn't be able to fit into any of my clothes. We had our "Cruise Formal" dinner that night. I was happy to be able to re-use my dress from the ball. We also stopped to have our photo taken at several of the different photo-op spots. We got a couple of decent ones but decided that the $22 price tag-per photo!- was a little rich for our blood. So we stuck with our trusty camera, but in retrospect the one decent picture might have been worth it.:) We really loved that you could order as much off the menu at dinner as you wanted. I really liked trying the different cold soup options. During the course of the cruise I tried: strawberry, Bing cherry and orange. The orange tasted like melted Creamsicle and was kind of fun! Joel liked that he could have lobster, crab, escargot (yep, snails) and even squid!

The next day was our first day in Mexico. We anchored in the port of Progreso/Yucatan. Let it suffice to say that it was not what I expected! It is an extremely poor part of the country and in the one village we visited none of the houses had doors. We had chosen to visit the ruins of Xcambo. We found later that the ruins at Chichen Itza are much more highly recommended, but of course, hindsight is 20/20. We did enjoy seeing the flamingos and learning that they turn pink because of the bacteria that are present in the shrimp they eat. A baby flamingo is white and the older it gets the more pink it becomes. A free science lesson for you! We were shocked to find that the ruins were so accessible- you know here in the U.S. everything is roped off. People in the village were still living in some of the ruins-which remember, are from around the time of Jesus. We saw a beautiful cathedral that was built in the 1700's. We were so tired that we skipped dinner that night!

The fourth day on the boat we stopped in Cozumel. It was more the tourist trap I had been expecting. We did a really fun ropes/climbing course and then we went snorkeling. That was so fun! I didn't think I would enjoy it that much. I was terribly frightened that I was going to be touched by the fish. However, we did get to see some really neat schools of fish. We had lunch at a fun, exceptionally loud, resturant. Everyone got their own balloon hat and Joel proceeded to wear his during the entire meal. We stopped at Starbuck's on the way back to the boat and that made me very happy! You know, since I had been away from the States three whole (and a half!) days. We bought some tacky souvenirs and also were amazed by the live "statues", especially the silver pirate.

The fifth day was another "Fun Day at Sea". It was rather uneventful, especially considering that I had been sea sick the night before and had taken a little too much motion sickness medicine. We did have fun people-watching by the pool. We took a last dip in the hot tub and enjoyed a really fun tribute show to the Beatles. I was very glad that I was going to see my kids the next day and I think Joel was happy that I could quit talking about missing them. I am glad that we had the time together. However, I think our next vacation will be somewhere stateside where I can call my kids!:)

If you have read all of this you must be really, really bored!:)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Whirlwind Trip (and Post!)

We are home again. After months of planning and preparing the not-quite-two-weeks that we were gone flew by. I am glad that we took the time to do something for ourselves. I am even more glad (and thankful!) that my sister agreed to watch our wild children! I really, really want to post a big ol' blog about our cruise and some pics but we are back in the crazy swing of things and I really don't have time for much more than a synopsis. We left here on Tuesday, the 15th. We arrived in TX after a mostly uneventful (albeit long) trip. We hung out with my sister for a few days and left for Louisiana on Friday the 18th. We stayed with some friends overnight (and got to see my brother) before heading to New Orleans on the 19th. There we got hideously lost in the French Quarter but still managed to make it to our ship in plenty of time. We spent a total of two part days, two whole days at sea and one day each in Progeso and Cozumel. I promise I will post more about that later. We returned to Texas on the 24th and I can say that I was delirious to see my kids. I missed them more than I thought possible! My sister took great care of them, though. We spent a few more days at her house- enough time to go to Ikea, my most favorite place in the world! Also enough time for me to lose my cell phone. That still makes me very grumpy to think about, but I tried to not let it taint the whole vacation. Anyway, we are home now. Back to PWOC, Awana, and everything else. It might be a while before I post again because Joel's dad is coming and we are having Carson dedicated. Hopefully, though, it won't take forever to post my photos 'cause there are some fun ones! By the way, I was very excited to change my background. Super cute, huh?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9 For 9/9/09

I thought it was so cool that today is 9/9/09 that I wanted to post something. I am feeling very ready to get our vacation started... but there is still plenty to be thankful for in the meantime! So, today in honor of the date, 9 things I am thankful for:

1. That all the berry juice came out of our clothes! I made funnel cake fries with fresh berry dipping sauce and while they were a hit with the kids I was more than a little worried that the deep purple raspberry, blueberry, blackberry sauce might never come out of our clothes. Thanks, Shout Dual Power!

2. That I found shoes to match my formal for $10! And I think there is good chance that I might be able to potentially wear them again so that is a double bonus.

3. Joel painted the chest in Carson's room! It has been on my to-do list for the last... forever. It now makes all his furniture coordinate (except his crib but due to his climbing abilities I have a feeling we will be swapping that out for the white toddler bed sooner rather than later!).

4. My mom sent Jocelyn's reading book! We will begin the journey of learning to read right after we get home from vacation. I am a little nervous, but mostly excited, about this new adventure. I think I will be even more proud than when she was potty-trained!

5. I found a fabulous dress for our cruise for-$6- can you believe it? It retailed for over $60 and I think I will look very Jackie-O in it. I love that decade's styles!

6. I have already bought the kids' Halloween costumes. They are going to be adorable! I hate waiting until the last minute to get that kind of stuff so I am happy to have it all done. And the best part of all- they will match! I will post pics after the fall festival in October...

7. I cleaned my hall closet this week. It is so organized- and has so much room! Definitely a fantastic return on my minimal time investment- 1/2 hour of work for a whole lot of happy.

8. I am thankful Joel and I have found a video game we can enjoy together! He loves to game and I usually just watch- not as fun as it sounds!:) We love jamming out together with Rock Band. I can even play on medium pretty proficiently now. Not too bad for two weeks of practice!

9. I am thankful we are leaving to sail the ocean blue in less than a week! Now if only the packing fairies would hurry up and get here....

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Gentle (Much-Needed) Reminder

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

So, I have to believe that the Lord knew what was going to happen today. I opened my email this morning and saw my daily devotional email that I subscribe to. I don't know why I didn't read it. I just didn't. I had a decent morning, uneventful. And then IT happened. I won't go into detail about what went wrong but there was crying, lots of crying, involved. I just didn't know what to do. There is no quick, easy solution. There is no long, drawn-out solution. There is truly no solution that my eyes can see. I berated myself," God has been more than faithful, why can't you trust Him now? Why do you have no faith?" I wept and tried to pray, hoping that a magical (or more providential) answer would magically appear. I knew it was a little too early to hope for something like that, but still....

I pulled myself together and went about my tasks. It wasn't like it was life-threatening, there was no death involved. However, I just sometimes want things taken care of quickly. I wanted an immediate answer to prove that I did indeed have faith. Or, maybe I just wanted a fast response to prove that I indeed have no patience! Whatever the case may be, I was definitely distraught that I was not hunky-dory with the situation. Then I read the devotional in my mailbox that I definitely should have read first thing this morning. (You can find it here :

The author talks about birds in her mustard tree. Her mustard tree is her faith. "Birds" are little ways that she is reminded that she has faith and that God, of course, is always faithful. You can't have birds in a tree that doesn't exist. I guess I don't fully understand it, but I certainly realized one thing. There are plenty of areas in my life that I have exhibited faith. God isn't some stressed-out parent that is going to start yelling, "You never believe Me, why can't you remember everything I have done for you?!" at the first sign of my weakness. He instead is the perfect Father, reminding me gently of every blessing He has given me. But more importantly, today He chose to remind me of all the times I have been faithful. Every scary unknown where I have walked with Him instead of trying to see things on my own. All those memorial stones that He has set up for me to show me the times that I have relied on Him and not my own strength. What a precious thing! I fully expected a firm reprimand at the least. I had spent more than a few minutes wallowing in self-pity (ask my sister, I dragged her into my mud!) I didn't deserve to hear Him singing my praises. But I did.

I am so glad that I serve a God who doesn't give up on me. He doesn't get mad at me for dragging my feet for a few minutes. He knew that instead of bringing up all my failures I would be much more benefitted by being reminded of my successes. I know that I have a mustard tree of faith, and there are more than a few birds in it if I just take the time to look and listen. He doesn't expect perfection. Thanks, God!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm Getting Excited...

So, obviously I haven't had a ton to post about. However, we are in prep mode for some of the things we have coming up. I am looking forward to:

1. Awana starting. They have asked me to direct Trek (the middle school group) and I am a little nervous, but mostly excited.

2. Seeing my sister! I know she thinks we are just using her as childcare so that we can get away, but I am really looking forward to being with her again. I can only go so many months without my "Robyn fix".

3. The Cavalry Ball. I get to wear a princess dress! Last time we had a ball I was pregnant- yuck!- so no pretty dress for me (in little, tiny Killeen it is hard enough to find a normal formal attire, much less maternity). I am definitely excited to get to dress up!

4. Can't forget "The Cruise". Yay for time for just me and Joel. I don't want to leave my kids but I haven't figured out how to take them with me and not actually have to care for them...:) Jocelyn would hate me, too, if I deprived her of her "baycation" at Aunt Robyn's!

5. My brother's new baby. I am sure he will be a doll! Maybe, just maybe, he will decide to arrive a wee bit early and on our way out of Louisiana after the cruise I will get to squeeze him a little bit! That would be too fun...

6. My JBF check. Definitely a twice a year highlight. It is fun to know that I get money for doing something. I love my volunteer work but every now and then it is nice to "earn" some money- even if it is just because I have an addiction to buying cute clothes for my kids.

So, in the meanwhile I have to find a pair of shoes for my dress, finish my packing list for the kids, and find someone to take care of PWOC responsibilities... well, it will just make the time go by faster as I look to all the fun that is in store!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Start of Something...Normal

Not much to post about lately, life has been busy but I don't think anyone is really that interested in hearing about marking my kids' clothes for the JBF sale (by the way, if anyone remembers that far back, I started blogging at this same time last year and actually did post about that!) or the latest PWOC board meeting or the latest thing I have thrown out in my quest to rid my house of all clutter (going, but not great). However, life has just been, well, normal. To some, that might translate as: boring, dull, unexciting. To me it is exactly what I have been waiting for since last September.

Yesterday evening we had dinner, took the kids out to swing and then came inside and had tasty brownies. We watched reruns of "Ace of Cakes" and "Iron Chef America" and brushed teeth and went to bed. It was marvelous, every minute. I know that most of us are smart enough to enjoy a night like that. But for me it almost seems like a miracle. To have all of us together, to not be trying to force something out of every minute because we only have a few weeks, or a few days, is just so wonderful. I don't ever feel like I have taken time as a family for granted. I know that we are just as likely to be apart as together. But sometimes you get so used to not having something that when it comes along you don't even know how to behave. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am so used to crazy that now that calm is slowly returning I don't know quite what to expect. But I am willing to try...

Monday, August 10, 2009


If anyone is wondering why I dropped off the face of the blogosphere (AGAIN!), it is, of course, because Joel is home. He arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and had the next few days off. He was supposed to be home at 10:30 pm on Thursday, then it got moved back to 11:30 pm. Jocelyn and I left the house at 11:10 pm. Carson was asleep in his bed, smart boy. (Don't worry, Jessica was still here and she stayed with him.) We weren't very far away from the Special Events center so it only took a few minutes to get there. We arrived and found literally hundreds of other people waiting. We were excited but mostly tired. We had spent the whole day cleaning and cake-baking and painting a sheet to hang on the post fence by the highway. I knew that there was a possibility that things would be running behind.

Boy, was I right! We waited, watching all the people. Who knew that there are people who come to every welcome home event? Veterans and other people from the community make sure that they are at every ceremony, no matter the time, to enthusiasticly greet each soldier. How impressive! They had a movie screen set up so that we could see all the guys departing the plane. We must have watched that video 5 times and never saw Joel! It is hard to tell who is who when they are all dressed alike. He is pretty tall, but there are a lot of really tall soldiers. (Some super-short ones, too, much to my amusement.) We waited, and waited. Everyone was trying to keep their energy up but we waited over an hour and a half! It was so noisy, they play really loud, upbeat music. That is fine at 2 pm, but a little hard to take at midnight. We kept watching the doors where the soldiers come in. Every time someone would move near the doors, you could hear people saying, "Get ready, they are coming in!" After hearing that about 15 times I finally decided I wasn't moving until I heard the announcer say something. Sure enough, she soon did. That they weren't going to be there until after 12:30 am! Well, some might say that I had already waited all those months, what is a few more minutes? A lifetime, I tell you!

We chatted with the people around us, Jocelyn slept off and on. We took a few pictures.

Then they started the smoke machines (I'm telling you, they make it a really big deal). We started to get a little more excited. Then, after about 10 more minutes (a toe-tapping eternity!) the announcer had everyone stand. And they all marched in! If everyone in the crowd was excited, I can't imagine how excited the soldiers were! They had spent the last two hours filling out paperwork and listening to lectures. The chaplain prayed and the commander said a few words. Then both sides collided, a huge wave of family on one side and soldiers on the other. It reminded me of that Life photo from World War II. People were screaming and crying and hugging. Josie and I just stood in the middle, waiting. I knew Joel would find us. And he did! I would love to say that we laughed and cried, but after a kiss we just hurried to leave behind the craziness. We had to run collect his bags from huge piles of Army green duffel bags and backpacks. I have no idea how he knew which ones were his, besides the dull spray-painted letters everyone has on the bottoms. But finally we were on our way home. It was too late to do anything more than glance at the posters and cake we had made. But, of course, none of that was important. Joel was finally home!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worse for the Waiting

We are getting closer now, and in some ways it was worse than it was a month ago. I have been trying to stay busy so that I am not counting the minutes (even though since we don't have an "official" date I don't even know how many minutes there are!) but even that is not working so well! Jocelyn asks me about 5 times a day, "Is it August yet, when my daddy will be home for real?" Just so you know, "for real" differentiates between him coming home to stay, and just to visit for R & R. I have done so much recently you would think that I would just want to relax but, no, I just don't want to relax until it is with Joel!

I just got home from my parents last Wednesday and have had two lunch dates, a board meeting (I was asked to be childcare liaison for PWOC and if you don't know what means suffice it to say A LOT of work!) a baby shower, and company that arrived on Saturday. My friend Ruth and her cousin Rachel drove down from Illinois to spend their vacation touring Southern Colorado.

Yesterday, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was fun, not too hot. Jocelyn was so cute, she loved petting the "tickly" lambs' ears (of course, the plant variety). I loved the zen Japenese garden. Carson did too, but that mostly had to do with his deep desire to swim with the koi! We also stopped by the 16th Street Mall (a first for me). We didn't really do any shopping but we did have lunch at a cool place called "Mad Greens" that made terrific salads. We also got to ride the light rail bus which both the kids loved. Then on the way home we stopped at the Castle Rock outlets to take advantage of some great deals at the Children's Place. I got some steals on summer things for the kids next year.

However, even with all that fun I am still just itching with anticipation. A year (even one short by few weeks) is still a really, really, loooong time to be without your honey. I guess I will just keep plugging away... And it doesn't hurt that I have doctor's appointments, another baby shower, PWOC duties, more company coming and lots of "chores" to take care of between now and then. I guess I better get cracking!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stop and See the Rocks

So, I'm driving today (seriously, I have all my best epiphanies while I am driving) and I am thinking about where my friends and I are going to lunch, that the driver in front of me is going too slow, that Josie should be sleeping so she won't be such a crab later and a bunch of other miscellaneous things. I am looking at the car in front of me, obeying all the traffic signs and staying in my lane. Good, right? Yeah. Except for that I was driving through the Garden of the Gods.

I had met Ruth and Rachel there after church so that we could go to lunch. I have been there several times (if you have lived in, or even visited Colorado Springs you have been there multiple times.)but not really recently. I finally look up as I am about to exit the park and realize that I have missed all the amazing scenery that makes that place such an attraction. Sure, I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was just going about my business. I was doing all the "right" things. But, I had missed all the God things that were surrounding me.

When I finally stopped to look around me I saw those beautiful rock formations that only my awesome God could have made and I felt ashamed. I had been so caught up in the "everydayness" of living that I couldn't take five minutes to appreciate His creativity and thoughtfulness. I guess that probably happens more than I care to admit, and probably a lot more often than I realize. I think that the joy is in the journey. Focusing on the end result (of heaven) is important, but God didn't make us robots. I am sure that it must make Him happy when we take time to appreciate the little things like a child's laugh,a pretty weed or a free coffee. And especially when we take time for the big, huge things like a husband's safe return from Iraq, or a baby being born or enormous rock formations. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Help with the Bill...

I have to say that my life has been crazy busy, but not really anything too blog worthy. I am still too close to VBS (I just have to make it through tomorrow, yay!) to post on that just yet. Today,though, Carson did something I thought was so cute.

I believe that I have blogged before about how much we love the Schwan's man but I didn't realize it trickled down to our smallest family member. Carson and I were playing in the living room today when the big, yellow truck pulled up. I got up but Carson beat me to the door. As soon as I opened it he greeted Don (yep, I know him by name, no apologies!) with a hearty "Hey-Dough!" and immediately tried to offer him the dollhouse person he had been playing with. "Herego" is Carson's sharing phrase. Don politely declined and Carson decided if Don didn't want the toy then maybe he wanted to hold Carson instead. I rescued the Schwan's man by giving him my order and he left to go fill it.

Carson was highly displeased so I took him with me to get my debit card. He loves anything from my purse mostly because he isn't supposed to be in there (which makes it all the more exciting) so he took it eagerly. As soon as I put him down, he raced towards the window and started banging it towards the truck and yelling, "Herego, Herego!". As soon as Don came back with our items Carson handed it right to him with a proud "Herego!". It was so cute. I guess they really do pick up things fast, although I didn't realize I had trained him in the use of plastic. I guess that is what I get for never having cash. I will be glad to let Carson pick up the tab from now on!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Excitement on an Endless Loop

Jocelyn has a new favorite movie. "Favorite" is not a word I use lightly. She would watch it from dawn until dusk. Anytime she gets to watch tv she wants to watch "Space Buddies". Definitely a cinematic masterpiece! I'm not really sure what she sees in it but I do know that there is a part when the "Buddies" (5 Lab puppies) have to pilot a rocket ship back to Earth. (Please, do not ask me how they got to space in the first place. See the above sarcastic comments to deduce my feelings on this movie.)All I know is that the first time it got to that part I hear vigorous pounding on the floor, squeaking and Josie yelling, "They did it, the puppies did it!". Later, she comes back downstairs and says, "Mom, the puppies did it! They got back to Earth! Yay!!"

So, that was the first time she watched the movie. Then the same thing the next time, and the next. No matter how many times she watches it, it never gets old. Her level of excitement remains the same. Always, the screaming, and the jumping up and down (on MY bed!). She loves that movie and she doesn't get tired of seeing it repeatedly. She rejoices in the success of the imaginary dogs as much as if the story was unfolding in real life (maybe more!).

I love that she loves it. I love that her enthusaism is not dampened by knowledge of what is to come. I hope that she will feel that way about Jesus someday. That His story will never get old. That is pretty much how I feel. No matter how many times I read it, there is always something to rejoice over. There is always something new to learn. I want to help her I can't say that I jump up and down, but maybe I should start!:)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finding My Flip-Flops

Anyone that knows Carson knows that he is not a lover of shoes. Unless they are his sister's. Of course, he is fascinated with Josie's shoes. Which she obligingly leaves all over the house. This morning he repeatedly brought me one of her pink flip-flops. I couldn't figure out what he wanted until he threw it at his foot. Then I realized that he wanted me to put it on him. I tried to talk him out of it. It isn't that I care if he tries to wear them but he had on footed pajamas! He was insistent. I put the shoe on. Sure enough, he took two steps before it fell off. Back to me so I could put it on again. Needless to say, with a 1 year-old, we repeated this scene about 4 times. I tried to persuade him that they weren't his size, not his color, and he doesn't like shoes anyway! Finally, after he would not give up, I took off his pajamas. We put on both shoes and still, no success. He couldn't walk. I am sure that in his little mind, those flip-flops looked pretty exciting. They are hot pink, they are easy to put on and the biggest plus: they belong to Josie and anything that is her's is instantly attractive. I couldn't explain to him that they weren't meant for him, he just knew that he wanted what belonged to his sister.

I got out his shoes. No go, not what he wanted. His own shoes are adorable. They fit his chubby little feet and he can walk in them.But, they are his. He only wanted what wasn't his. He only wanted what belonged to somebody else. It didn't matter that they weren't meant for him, that they would never be the same on him as they are on Josie. He didn't even care that his Dad would be appalled by his fascination with hot pink footwear. He just knew he wanted them.

Since I am getting to be known for finding spiritual correlations in the strangest things it shouldn't surprise anyone that I started thinking about all the times I feel that way. All the times that I have wanted someone else's pink flip-flops and pouted when they didn't look as good on me. Or, I couldn't afford them. Or, they didn't fit my feet. Like when I wish my husband had someone else's job. Or I had their clothes. Or their abilities. Those aren't my flip-flops! It would be like me trying to wear skinny jeans- ha! Sometimes I just need to appreciate how great their flip-flops look on them. I have my own shoes, and if I let them they look just as good on me.

I just think it must make God sad when I don't appreciate my own shoes. He tries to convince me that what He gave me is just perfect- for me. Wanting what someone else has only leads to falls and disappointments. I don't have to settle for what I have. I can be content knowing my Father knows what is best for me. My flip-flops are just right.:)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

8 Thankful Things

I am thankful today, and I thought if I wrote it down it would help me to remember the next time I am crabby. So, today I am thankful that:

1. Joel was able to Skype with us! It is truly a modern miracle to be able to see his face and hear his voice from so far away!

2. The sun is shining. I love "Mr. Golden Sun" and though the rain has been great I love sunshine!

3. My grass is growing! (See above!)

4. Payday is Friday. Yay for Payday, the best two days of any month!:)

5. Joel has been gone almost 9 months. Too bad this is not a pregnancy, or it would be almost over. (Okay, well that is probably a good thing that it is not, but that's a whole other post!) I have a lot less time to wait than I did when we started all this. Very exciting!

6. I purchased my dad's Father's Day card yesterday. Now if I could just think of a spectacular gift... but this is a post on thankfulness, and I will keep it that way.

7. I have a wonderful new car that always starts. God is so good to me...

8. God is good. I don't think I can ever be thankful enough for that.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Construction Ahead

I've discovered that spending time on the road offers me many opportunities for contemplation and reflection. My kids are contained, and being fairly familiar with the roads, I can enter "the zone". I was driving home the other night and had been pondering a number of things when I saw the dreaded orange signs: ROAD WORK AHEAD. Yuck! It was late at night and there were few other cars on the road. I hoped secretly that it was day time construction, but alas, night time work is becoming increasingly popular here (I think the companies have figured out there are fewer vehicles, too. Dang it!)

I suppose I should have just taken it in stride. It wasn't like I was going to be late for an appointment. I was tired but not exhausted. However, it was bridge work which caused me to have to exit the highway and stop at a light to cross over the street to go back up the ramp. Grrr! Probably, I still would not have been bothered, but since we have moved here there has been a non-stop construction party. Joel and I swore for a time that the Interstate was being used as orange barrel storage. Obviously tha had to be the case, due to the enormous numbers of them for no apparent purpose other than closing perfectly good lanes for miles the state must have just needed a place to put them! First, it was a main road near two of the gates, then it was each gate in turn (still working on those!),and the interstate has been under construction the entire time we have lived here. It just gets a little- no, a lot- frustrating. I mean, who are they to de-rail my plans? I have places to go, people to see. No time to stop for the flag-person, no time to slow for the crews. Besides, they are doing construction again on areas they have "fixed" already! What?!

So, anyway, I proceed back on to the highway. Thinking about how I was so frustrated by the delay. Even though it had only been a minor inconvenience it reminded me of all the times it had been significantly worse. Why don't I have any patience? After all, isn't this for my long-term benefit? Even though I can't necessarily see what is being fixed, even if I think the problem doesn't affect me. Hmmm, sound familiar?

I know the Lord does road construction in my life. I know there are some potholes He is working to fix right now, some bridges that need their supports shored up, some lines that need re-painting. More often than not, I need to see those ugly orange signs, cones and barrels. They remind me to pay closer attention, be alert for cops on the prowl for speeders, and to see the cars around me and the scenery, too. Maybe there are temptations that I am not aware of, maybe there are people around me who I am missing in my constant rush. Maybe I have forgotten my boundaries because they have become too familiar. Maybe I will never see the results in this life of what is being repaired but I know it is for my good. I am glad I am not the head of the construction crew. I just hope I will be patient enough to let Him do His job.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Fav 5

In the spirit of the "favorites" lists that have been popping up I decided to list my 5 favorite things this Mother's Day:

1. Josie giving me a little chocolate bar and beautiful picture she had drawn in Sunday School while exclaiming, " Happy Mudder's Day, Mudder!" (For some inexplicable reason she has decided to call me "Mother", it is a little weird!)

2. Carson feeding himself with a spoon for the first time! Yeah! He likes to do special things for holidays, I guess. (Like learning to sit up on Christmas Eve)

3. Playing "Pretty Princess" with Jocelyn. Just one of those sweet, fun memories. And who doesn't love wearing a crown, necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings all made from coordinating plastic?

4. Having a tasty lunch at Chipotle. I love, love, love their new soft corn tortillas. Yummy chicken tacos are a perfect Mother's Day lunch- and I didn't have to cook!

5.The best part: getting to celebrate Mother's Day as the mom of two terrific kids who are the smartest, sweetest, cutest, funniest and all around best 3 year-old girl and 1 year-old boy a mom could want! (I am a little biased...)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cupcakes for Christ

I FINALLY introduced myself to one of my new neighbors on Monday. Not really something to be proud of, since she had moved here in November! I really don't have a valid excuse for not doing it before now. I was gone most of November, all of December and part of January and then part of February. But I was home all of March and April and didn't do it. Anyway, she was kind of funny when I went over there (I took homemade cupcakes) and said, "Yeah, I was talking to my husband and I thought it was kind of funny that no one had come over to welcome us." That made me laugh inside because when you are in the military everyone is always new. So why didn't she introduce herself to anyone?

Anyway, that is beside the point. I don't know why I felt drawn to this particular neighbor. During November I acquired three new neighbors and the one of the other ones has two girls (so maybe if I would get my act together Jocelyn might have a little friend). But, I am hoping we can start a relationship. I never cease to be amazed by the isolation, loneliness and sadness in so many Army wives. Now, I don't necessarily know that this is the case with this woman, we didn't talk for that long. I am just hoping that even with my slow start that the Lord can use me to be a light for Him. I just get so scared. I always worry that people don't like me, and there are good reasons for that! It really takes me a long time to garner my courage. I had been talking to myself almost every day for a week about introducing myself. Yes, I do think that qualifies me as a basket case. But I am discovering that just seeing me in my church clothes on Sunday morning isn't an invitation to ask me how to find Christ. It is in the cupcakes, in the replacing of garbage totes, shoveling of sidewalks and lunches at McDonald's that introductions to Him are made. I am just praying that I will grow bolder with every opportunity-and not burn the cupcakes...:)

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Lift Up My Eyes

It has been a typical spring in Colorado. Which means the weather has been anything but spring! It has been cool and rainy the past couple of days-Joel's absolute favorite climate. However, since he has so recently left it has somewhat compounded my sorrow. I must say, however, that one thing I wouldn't trade about living here for anything in the world is the mountains. People that are natives (or wish they were) always go on and on about the wonderful view we have of the Rockies. They are the most majestic thing; true, constant reminders of God's love and faithfulness. I have been doing Beth Moore's "Stepping Up", a study on the Psalm of Ascents.
They are a collection of Psalms that were recited on the steps of the Temple during festival occasions. One in particular (the one assigned to us to memorize) is really meaningful to me.

Psalm 121 begins,

" I lift up my eyes to the hills,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth."

I can't help but hear that every time I drive home, or look out my back door for that matter. The photos are of my view everyday. Not quite as beautiful as other parts that you can see just driving around Colorado Springs, but not bad for government housing! I know it is really more of a hill, but the verse talks about hills so it works for me. Anyway, as I mentioned above, the weather here has been really disagreeable. I was driving home, missing Joel and looked for the mountains to comfort me. They were gone, covered by a blanket of fog so thick I may as well been living in Kansas. That made me crabby. How was I supposed to look for my help if it was hiding? I stewed over this for a few minutes, grumpy that both my husband and my mountains were removed from my view. Then I realized something. Just like our amazing God, the mountains were still there. I just couldn't see them because of MY position. If I got closer to them, they would appear. I know faith can move a mountain, but I sincerely doubt these guys are going anywhere. They hadn't changed; what was between me and them had.

Now, I can't control the weather (good thing because it would be a boring sunny and 75 for a long, long time!) but I can control what I allow to drift between me and my Lord. If I have trouble in my life, or sadness, that is when I have to get closer to Him so I don't have a wall of clouds in my way. It is so easy for me to want to blame the obstructed view on God. I want to whine, "Why does He seem so far away?". What? Hebrews 13:8 says,

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Definitely not Him.

Verse 5 says, "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

Yep, gotta be me.

So, now whether I can see my beloved mountains or not, I just have to remember that God is always there, always the same. I just have to decide what I want to do about where I am.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

R & R Update

Since it has been three WEEKS since I last posted and I am quickly in danger of becoming one of "those people" (you know, the post-once-every-year ones?), I better think of something-and quick! I don't have too much to say, R & R is one of those things that is in some ways just as hard as it is happy. I was sooo excited to get to see my honey, but even from the very beginning I knew he would have to go back so I had to keep pushing that out of my mind. It is also hard to explain to a three year-old why her daddy is only "visiting". But, even though we didn't do anything too crazy it was a good visit. We decided not to plan anything major because it is enough to try to put a dad back into a family he hasn't seen in 7 1/2 months! We did have buy a car (yeah!yeah!yeah!), and get new cell phones. Those were both major check-marks on my list and things I definitely did not want to do without Joel (no way was I picking out a cell phone for him!). We got to go out THREE times by ourselves- very exciting because we have only gotten to do that a handful of times since we have had kids! We took Josie to Chuck E. Cheese and "Glow Golfing" (the price was right!) and she also got "stickers" for her walls in lieu of the paint she had been promised. Carson just enjoyed being a boy with his dad- they were goofing off at every chance! I, of course, just enjoyed being part of a team rather. Being a geographical single mom is hard work. I am extremely thankful that is not my permanent position in life. God is gracious. Anyway, we also applied for our passports! No promises that we will actually use them, but I figured they would be impossible to use if didn't have them at all! I am sad that he had to go back to work, but I am really trying to focus on the fact that we are at least 2/3 of the way done. I hope! There are no promises in the Army. Anyway, hopefully I will get back in the groove and be posting more regularly!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Proper Emphasis

I won't lie. I haven't had the greatest of days lately. I have indulged in self-pity and sent out a mass of invites to the party. I have cried and complained and vented. However, in the midst of all of this it has not escaped me that it is almost Easter. I don't know if it is the cynicism of age that is coloring my views or if it is fact; but it seems to me that, along with Christmas, this holiday does not receive the fanfare that it did in my childhood. My church did not have the traditional Easter lilies (although they did put out a purple cloth and a thorn crown on the altar) and we attempted to sing a few worship songs that alluded to the cross but there was no rousing rendition of "Up From the Grave He Arose". We did have a Passover Seder on Palm Sunday that was very informational, but there was no dramatic cantata.

I willingly admit that I have been distracted by other things (my car, my sick son, my husband's delayed return) so it could just be that I have missed some of the excitement. Part of it is that I didn't try to do anything extra special. However, even without all of the "trappings" it doesn't diminish the reason for the season. Jesus died for me. I can't think of it at length without crying. The Son of God came to seek and save that which was lost- me! He endured a brutal, shameful death so that I could live.I can never be grateful enough...

"Surely He took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered Him stricken by God,
smitten by Him, and afflicted.

But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed."

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

I just didn't want the only really important part of Easter to be forgotten. Have a Happy Easter, or should I say Thanksgiving?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More Lessons from the School of Josie

We had made special plans to go to the "Adventure Gym" (a open-play time on all the fun gymnastic equipment)with friends this morning. Jocelyn gets so excited about this-it is probably her most favorite activity. Well, as we were headed out the door Jocelyn said, "Mom, are we going? Will the truck start?" To which I honestly replied, "I don't know; you will have to pray about it!" Please do not think that I said this tritely, this is a big deal in our house lately. Josie said, "Yep, I did, Mom." Well, we get out there, everyone gets buckled in and... the truck doesn't start. Well, I wrestle with the hood, fiddle with things that Joel told me to (things that I wouldn't be able to name if my life depended on it) and...nothing. I call our friends, tell them we won't be able to make it. We tried to make alternate plans but we live in the back forty of Egypt and there are too many of us. So, I haul Josie and Carson back inside. Poor Josie, she is crying and telling me how sad she is. She wasn't throwing a fit, she is getting more used to the truck being "broke". I am crying, too. It is so hard to have to disappoint your child. It made me feel like such a failure, but it isn't anything I have any control over. I called my mom (she is my go-to when life is frustrating me). She helps to calm me down, and suggests some things to do at home. Well, Jocelyn is fairly easily distracted. I think she somehow understands that there is no use crying over spilt milk. She goes on her way, being as sweet and loving as she can be. The Schwan's man comes (always an exciting event in our house, Josie is amazed that he brings the "groceries" without us having to leave the house) and we fix lunch- see we didn't even have to go out! Jocelyn has started praying by herself, so when lunch was ready she asked the blessing. This is her prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for our food. Thank you for our fun day. Thank you that the truck wouldn't start. Thank you that Daddy is coming home to fix it. Amen and Jesus (that is how she ends all her prayers)

I am crying while I am writing this. Oh, how I want that to be my heart. Thank you God, for EVERYTHING. Thank you for my child who is not distraught over circumstances she can't control. Thank you for using her to teach me true gratitude. Thank you for not explaining everything to me, and thank you that she does not ask me to explain everything to her. Most of all, thank you that Daddy is coming home to fix it.:)

What do you say? Maybe this won't be as meaningful to anybody but me. But that doesn't matter. Josie teaches me all kind of things and her sweet heart in the face of trouble made me realize that I can't be anymore concerned about this than she is. She really only saw good. She cried and when she was done she just moved on. The next time we get in the truck she will have just as much faith that it will start. She won't let her faith be swayed by a "no" answer. She knows God has His own plans. I know part of His plan is for me to learn more about Him from my precious three year-old.


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