Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Prayer
























I lift my eyes to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

~Psalm 121:1-2

I turn my face to God.

::

"One more hug, Momma," little hands pull my neck down next to his cheek. He smells like honey and dirt, sweat and fresh cut grass. A little man. Mercy from heaven.

::

My momma has a bulldog. All sweetness and snort, she brambles around a house that used to hold children. She's the baby. She is sick. Still sick after a looong time.

Children most frequently pray for grandparents and pets. So if you'd like to pretend you're a child for a moment, say a little prayer for Punkin the bulldog.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fire Roasted Vegetables
















After watching thrift stores for a year, Craig finally found a BBQ. Although I will miss the thrill of lighting our old grill without igniting clothing, hair, or nearby children, Craig was having most of the so called fun anyway. Our top marks go to the Habitat For Humanity Surplus Store. Did I mention that we also purchased tile? $4.00 worth of tile and we can re-do the whole bathroom with it!

Here's some fun we've been having with the BBQ:

Fire Roasted Veggies:

1 sweet onion
1 red bell pepper
2-4 c. green beans

olive oil
balsamic vinegar syrup*
salt
pepper
1 T. rosemary


Directions:
1. Chop onion and bell pepper and combine with beans.
2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar syrup*.
4. Grind rosemary to a powder using a pestle and sprinkle over vegetables.
5. Toss to coat and dump in BBQ grill basket (see pic above).
6. BBQ on medium heat for 5 min. Stir and roast another 5 min.
7. Cool and serve along side your favorite meat.




Balsamic Vinegar Syrup*

In a sauce pan bring one cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until the vinegar reduces to 1/3 cup. Pour into a glass measuring cup to cool, then transfer to a drizzle container. Enjoy over vegetables, salads, sandwiches, or meat, a gourmet accent to almost any meal. One article even suggested trying it over vanilla ice cream!


Any other grilling tips or recipes?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a Grain of Rice
























What to do in these perilous times? How do I explain to a pressing four-year-old that our president would let me kill a baby in my tummy? He says its OK. Jane keeps asking, "Do you think Obama will come to our house?" Eyes wide, she wants to know will Daddy protect Lucy from Obama? It's all so literal for her. Lucy is still a BABY! HELP!! And after all isn't she?

My first pregnancy I miscarried. Sorrow upon alum sorrow. The second was Jane. Six weeks old and grain-of-rice-size, even so, I watched her tiny heart pulse. ALIVE. The inexplicable spark of life had happened right there inside of me before I even knew. Every nuance of Jane written out in complex codes of DNA snapped into place and pulse-pulse-pulse. The unique imprint of soul already authored by God was right there, beating. How terrifying, God gave me a life?!

Can it really be that we devote an entire industry to snuffing this life out? No matter how efficient, noninvasive, and quickly done, I will always see a tiny freckle in my womb beating away, fierce with life. Jane will see Lucy.


God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.

~Thomas Jefferson

(excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nation's capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Pitch























In trouble again. We've all been there haven't we? Janie crosses and then uncrosses her arms, "I feel bad for myself now, Momma."

A promising start, "Okay, why?"

Janie lifts a caterpillar brow, crinkles her forehead, "For being wicked." Lips extended for emphasis, she pauses.

"Oh," I lean to one side, squint. "Ok, what did you do?"

Jane takes her CEO stance and begins the pitch, "Well," she raises both shoulders, "I don't know what the wicked thing is," this isn't looking good, "but I know how to say the word, 'wicked'." Shrug, "It's just a thing that kids understand."

"Ah. So you want a little more time to think about what you actually did?"

Sigh. Deflated like a birthday balloon, "Yeah."

Don't we all think that? If we can just say the magic phrase won't that just make everything ok? The business of changing a heart is just so sticky.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

10 Years

















10 years. 520 Sunday lessons. Thousands of children. Hundreds of volunteers. A man devoted to his Savior. Breathtaking. Thanks, Craig. I'm proud to be called your wife. Happy 10 year anniversary as a Children's Pastor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

We Drove By A Cemetery

















She's asking again, "Where is it? Where is it, Momma? I don't want to miss it." Swooshing by the driver side there it goes, Eden-like turf and bright silk flowers, granite stones arranged in rows. The cemetery. We are mapping my jog route. Sometimes I run past a sweeping cemetery acreage, breathe in the tide of fresh cut grass. It's just another bend in the road that Janie imagines is paradise.

On the way to church we see another one. They are everywhere. These strange portals into eternity blend into parks and crosswalks, school zones and small shouldered roads that sail us through a winding city. When is the last time you noticed one? They are invisible, almost.

"Hey Momma, I know that there are a lot of people in heaven," Jane explains, "because I look at the stones of when people have died and I just notice there are a lot." Yes, a lot. She thinks they knew Jesus. And so the way of childhood sees picnics and tumbling somersaults in a cemetery.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sighting Day

















At birthdays we all we take turns. Bellies feasted full, we divide up a lemon pie. Then, one by one, we say out loud good things about the birthday recipient. Grown men and women pause to squarely evaluate the miracle of you. It's a feast of words, the pie is just a garnish.

If photosynthesis were human we'd see it weave and grow right there between lemony bites of pie. The power of a word. ~I've really seen great courage in you this year... I respect how skilled you've become at your job... I'm picky, but you are the kind of person I'd trust my kids with... Everywhere I go I am so proud to be related to you... Your faith impresses me... The way you go the extra mile, that's the way I want my kids to be... I always laugh so hard when I am with you.

















This year to celebrate resurrection we offered simple sentences of God's work in us. One by one we groped for the words to encircle who Christ is. Layer upon layer we each offered our own portraits of grace. It was as if the resurrection unfolded there on a plain black table between forks and crumbs and elbows leaned in close. The layers of who we each know Christ to be fleshed out an image of my invisible God. I welled up in reverence, shame, and devotion. How is it that I've taken Holy Week so lightly? I left quieted in the bedrock assurance of God's presence. Worship, the starting point, when did I forget? He is RISEN. He is risen INDEED.

So here we are, simple offerings in hand:
~I am coming to realize I have nothing, nothing to offer God. Even my kindest acts have some selfish kick back for me. And, also humiliation is the beginning of humility. I should feel humiliated at my sin.

~God CHOOSES us. Breathtaking.

~Sometimes it is so hard to know if I am praying in the will of God. Other times, I pray for a small thing for someone, an extra, a blessing. I almost feel foolish to mention it. And yet, there God is answering with, "Yes." The kindness of God makes me weep.

~God's will for me may be different than my will for me.

~Passiveness and idleness are dangerous. And the devil is happy to entertain you, set you down the gentle road to destruction.

~God, please reveal something new to me this year.

~God is teaching me to find a sustainable faith.

~God is so patient with us, patient far beyond what we would ever tolerate.

~In graphing my greatest trials I see I have peaks of faith at every trial. I don't want to wish for trials, but I do want to know great faith in God.

~God always reveals himself at just the right time, never early, never late, right on time.

So there we are, it is sighting day and we are each catching glimpses, angles, snap shots of the King. There he is, there, here, over yonder, round back, disguised in the minutia of that situation you were sure he had left you in all alone. Sighting day.


Tell me your sightings!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Swing Me Home























"Momma, I'm getting all talked out right now." Her last underdog push into the big blue sky has waned to no effect on the endless chatter. I heave, push, again up over my head as I step under dangling legs swinging wide. Swoosh. If long swishing pushes and conversations the shape of forever could sustain a person I think Jane would give up eating altogether. I stop at the slide, sip a warm mouthful of coffee.

She senses I am drifting, "So mom, you should probably put a lot of energy into answering my questions, because I don't want to have any during nap." {Sigh} And here I though I was going out to tend the garden. Another underdog push and I wonder what fields of ideas we have yet to plow through.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Write Them on Your Gates






















So keep my words in your hearts and minds. Write them down and tie them on your hands as a reminder. Also tie them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses. Also write them on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (NIrV)
























"Are we gonna do that?" She's looking at our gray fence. I'd paused long enough for another question to edge in between paragraphs of scripture. She's matter of fact: There are the words, there's the fence, grab a pen! Am I really thinking, Oh well, He doesn't mean that? And, what does he mean? We are Christians, not bound to the legalism of the Old Testament, but I am drawn to her boldness. A conundrum.

"Honey, it's sort of just a way to train ourselves to know God. Sort of how I sometimes give you treats when you do something hard, but just to help you learn." She takes this in. "Do you think we should do it?"

She smiles, hand already poised to present. "Well, maybe we could write it on the gate with a marker or with paint so it won't come off when it rains." All of the sudden I understand why my dad said yes to displaying a six-foot kid-made cross in our front yard when I was ten (to commemorate Mr. Big Toad, of course). My weak dribbles of faith sustain me bland as toast. And I pray to be so bold.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Resurrection Clothes

















My children wore their Easter clothes to a funeral today. Resurrection clothes, I guess. Plaid and flowers hand in hands we munched over stodgy spring grass up a neat sidewalk to the funeral home. Inside my children's wide eyes absorbed black ornate rugs, soft and deep as quicksand, solemn faces, and I suppose, the knees of a lot of suits. Janie carried our handwritten card as a matter of rank. Jack held my hand.

With friends and relations we marked the passing of a friend of a dear friend. While people shared, I realized the shadow of this man was far greater than the man himself. I was struck by the indelible mark he's left on lives close to him. Funny, if the lighting is right, we are so much more than the sum of our parts. Isn't influence like this, a shadow cast far out beyond our feeble attempts at greatness. It's almost as if it sneaks up on us, piled up in small gestures, simple moments around a table passing the potatoes and carrying on about deadlines and raises and dessert. Suddenly before we know it, there behind us is a shadow quotient of all those days ironed out in a perfect silhouette of character. I was honored to come today with my kids.

I savored up mismatched moments of Jack and Jane racing over the front lawn, a flurry of watercolor blue and chestnut brown tangled in a game of tag. Race to sidewalk, race to Momma, lob a Cheerio in Lulie's mouth, refrain from tagging to the ground. Base! One of them grabs my leg.

In the end I left, shadows trailing behind. Each day I pray my face will be warmed by the light of my Savior that my shadow may rise up and honor all it touches.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sick Day

These are the children who doted on their sick puking momma these past two days and then finally coaxed me out into the yard this morning.






















How have I never see Janie's gift to serve? Full-hearted and without expectation she made me the apple of her eye. Between pillows and blankies, tuck-ins and gentle pats, errands and undivided attention, I captured a glimpse of gentleness in this fierce daughter of mine. "Are you sure I can't get you anything else, Momma? Maybe another little pillow for right here?" pointing to a gap in the blanket. She is already puffing another in place. Jack was all hugs. And hugs and hugs.























Lulie ate a boxful of Cheerios and thanked the Lord for Daddy.
Me too!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Whorls
















So here we go embarking on the task, the privilege, the mystery of patching a perfectly good eye until the child is eight or so. Who knew our elegant brain takes eight years to learn the expanse and breadth of the eye? I wonder what splash this obedience of patching will make in our path.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

4 Hours a Day























Four hours. That's how long we paste a patch over little Lucy's eye each day. It's hard and easy all at once. It's an offering. Here, God, we'll patch like eyes were made for patches. I always feel sort of like I'm putting a band-aid on the whole affair. Sometimes I wonder if God gave me this tiny hand hold of control just to feel like I'm helping. It's sort of like the way I let Janie stir the cookie dough.

Our appointment was yesterday. Small black plots on a graph, so unimpressive, and yet so startling. Her bad eye scored 20/47, the tippy top of the developmental curve! The good eye scored 20/90. Her GOOD eye actually lags slightly behind the BAD eye (though still well within the range of normal).

So when something miraculous happens, what do you do? I have no praise grand enough, no heart pure enough. I guess in a way I fear the Lord more that he can so matter of factly give vision to my child. Even writing it sounds funny. Give vision?! Who does that? Nah, let's not bring flowers this time; let's just pluck a few stems of sight to bring instead. All the while the cataract planted in the middle of her glassy lens worships God. Who knew the very imperfection would be the glory of glories. Sight in the face of all odds. Oh to be so imperfect.


A Journey of Eight Years