Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Thursday's crisp morning air reminded us of sweaters, cider and pumpkins. Fall is upon us, yet I am reluctant to release the warm bright days.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Outstretched hands, teetering on unsteady feet, and so comes the first step...then another or perhaps a stumble, but soon the baby learns to walk. And in a blink, the baby is 19 and all that has been poured into his life comes to fruition. The first of so many good-byes in this precious role of parenting is heart wrenching.
Gabriel has now begun school in Norway, the same school to which I went 25 years ago. He is ready, armed with Truth, full of hope, excitement and a vigor for life. Dennis cared well for our seven other children while I accompanied Gabe on his journey. My last glimpse of our oldest boy was at dawn as he stood in the doorway of his dorm with tea light and Bible in hand. He kindly thanked Dennis and me for everything and told me he loves us. This set off my tears that flowed for twelve of the 24 hours it took me to get home! I blubbered through airline security in Norway, forgetting a sharp wine bottle opener in my purse! The security gal took one look at me and let me through! The man seated beside me on one of the flights shifted uncomfortably, perhaps he wondered if I were having a nervous breakdown. I tried to explain why I wept, which left him dumbfounded and likely questioning my mental health. How does one explain a broken heart over the joys in life? It reminds me of something George MacDonald wrote about love, "life would not be worth saving except for the tears."
Loving well requires every ounce of our being given in unconditional abandonment of ourselves, our time and all else we value. Loving children is a roller-coaster of teachable opportunities through which we can speak life into rough situations, where obedience replaces rebellion, truth overpowers lies, and love overcomes selfishness. Yet at times we see little fruit for our labor. Strength and encouragement often come through God alone, but we must trust in delayed gratification just as every humble, toiling gardener. There is no way to see the deep, healthy roots unless we dig for them and risk their destruction. 'The days are long, but the years are short.' And every moment is a gift.
I came home to my sweet family feeling sad and weary, yet with the first hug of welcome-home Salome' asked, "Didn't you bawl your eyes out cuz you missed us so much?" Yes, I did...and I will, for every last one of these precious babes entrusted to us. But for now I roll up my sleeves and am thankful for each hand to hold, willing to walk each day we are given, letting go when we must.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
A man we know sells books; beautiful, old, leather-bound books. Each one is unique, inviting the curious to enter into an adventure. It is evident that these books were created by quality craftsmanship, designed to last longer than a lifetime. But none of these books is written in English, for they were purchased in foreign lands.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
My own words and actions can sometimes come back to haunt me. Malachi knows I love caramel, in all forms, as I have expressed to him. On Tuesday of last week, he made scrambled eggs for me and everyone else in the house under 8! Six large plates containing wet, jiggly mounds of pale yellow, filled the table. (There is a cow and a flock of chickens somewhere we should thank.) The kitchen was in shambles, but all was in order on the table. I obediently delved into my plate to discover an odd sweet taste mixed into my eggs. Malachi beamed, "Did you get it Mom? I hid a very special treat in your lunch!" The taste of the hidden caramel had permeated every ounce of my eggs! I dutifully downed the mound to the last bite, glad to be gifted in the skill of eating anything. Since my thoughtful little chef watched my every bite, there was no other choice.
Friday, July 2, 2010
The time is 12:23 am and I am breathing deeply as this day finally ends. My desire for a week or so has been to finish a blog I'd written called Perspective. This writing time is food for my soul, so I felt happy to spend a few moments to rewrite. In the midst of reshaping a few phrases, I hit an obscure command that should be labeled “black hole” and now, my Perspective is lost.
Perhaps my weighty analogies of “rain-soaked day” and “sunlight filtered through delicate branches” spoke less convincingly of my subject than my computer-illiterate action of cleaning the slate. My own perspective can easily be lost by a difficult morning with my littlest team-members. Day before yesterday, Emmaus, who not long ago told me, “Mommy needs to obey Emmaus!” (isn't his English excellent?) offered me an unopened silver nail polish bottle. I was thrilled that he'd come to me without opening the container first. He was immediately followed by Zion, who also held a nail polish container in his hand, this one, a candy-apple red. The brush, however, hung precariously from his teeth! Only weeks before he had highlighted the tips of Ezra's hair with hot pink! [And no, I have no idea why the toddlers find nail polish everywhere!]
I certainly find ample opportunity to “look at the bright side” when disaster seems to lurk around every giggling corner! Yesterday, at the pediatrician's office, I kept losing a child or two, to the brilliant distracting escapades of the third. I now feel I know the entire reception staff far better than expected. “And how does this copier work?” Zion was certainly wondering. The office goldfish, I am thankful to report, remains alive, though perhaps in a state of shock. Such excursions leave me weary and wondering at my own capabilities. I know that love covers a multitude of my inabilities. So when, in the sweet moment of my question, “Who is beautiful?” they all cry out, “I AM!” I realize we will make it!
And, in the odder moments when I forget the power of my influence, Salome' reminds me. I made a strange comment on some fluffy shoes at the shoe store. I thought they should be “worn by someone drinking a martini!” Salome' didn't miss a beat, she pulled on a pair of teal boots and announced, with an aire of sophistication, “These boots make me feel like I should be drinking hot cocoa!” On another day, her comment was this, “Why are you so beautiful Mommy? It must be because God made you!”
So I leave you with the right perspective tonight. You are beautiful, because God makes only beautiful people! Just ask Salome', resident expert on shoes, people and perspective.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Zion is the type of guy who can walk around with a pebble in his shoe and not notice. This morning at 6 am he exuberantly downed two tangerines, half a glass of orange juice (while the other half spilled down his pajama shirt), and a sugar cube dunked in my tea. A dribble of tea mingled nicely with the orange juice stain as he climbed onto my lap, tightly holding his monster truck with both hands, content and quiet for a split second. A loud noise from outside caught his attention, he plowed straight through the block box and onto the little table to peer out the window. With furrowed brow, he said in his deepest toddler tone, "[S]cawy,cawy twuck!" For all his toughness, spiders and loud noises terrify him. On the other hand Emmaus fears neither of those things, but a spot on his clothes, wet sleeves or dirty feet are completely unacceptable. His new term is, "Aszolutely not!", which seems to apply to everything!
Raising these three, or for that matter eight, is a challenge and a joy, but my mountain is finding the time and energy each one requires individually. I'll never forget the words of my sweet girlfriend, Jodi, "It is not how many children you have, but what you do with them that matters!" So my daily hike is making time for each one, setting up boundaries for the family and myself. This is what I do and if any outside activity takes away from this one job for which I am accountable, it must go! The life I lead "between my ears" as another girlfriend, Anne Ortlund, said, must contain right thinking, right actions, must be swept clean daily of wrong thoughts and must be filled with good things. Prayer is the tool for this!
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Our two grandfather clocks used to chime, not simultaneously however, they were never as precise as some might prefer clocks to be. No, they rang in answer or anticipation of the other, not for the benefit of the observer. Each clock offered a unique ring, intertwined as if they played separate parts of the same song. They were a consistent, predictable presence in our house but, they need work now and stand solitary in separate rooms. Like many broken things, they can be fixed, but I have to be willing to take on the difficult task of doing so.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Incidentally, two of the" fwogs" wintered under the California Lilacs. The third rested heavily amidst a few stoic yellow tulips. When Zion picked up the last one, we found a tiny, pinched colorless flower under it. By Monday this same tulip stood almost straight in vibrant magenta. It is a strong example to me of the weight we hold or the freedom we wield with words.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
I often say the children must not pause to reason with deceit. There will always be an appealing snare when discussions are held in the darkness of our own minds. Blurting out the truth is sometimes the only way to escape a lie. A lie is never better than the truth. Nothing we do is so bad that it cannot be repaired in the light of truth.
If I am to speak this to my children then the mirror of my life must reflect the same thing. Questions about Santa, where babies come from, will Daddy be safe in Iraq (years ago) and the like, often generate a pause in my answer. However, careful responses must never contain white-lies. There are no white-lies, a lie is a lie, and Salome' would show you by pointing to her arm pit, that lies are from the pit!
Speaking truth can be painful and in our household there are always consequences for wrongs done. The question is always the same, "What did you do?" It is not, "Why did you do it?" Once truth is established without lengthy explanation, just consequences are followed by asking for and giving forgiveness, and finally, we are given a "clean slate". The term, clean slate, came from our friends Jim and Rochelle, it means it is finished, all is well, and the offense will never be brought up again. If, in 5 minutes, the wrong doing is repeated, there is no reference to the prior act. To live with a clean slate is to hold no hurts against each other. It means we walk in freedom and transparency and forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a weight no one is intended to bear. To not forgive hurts the one who denies it as much as he to whom it is denied.
Our clean slate begins with living in Truth. It means I do not have freedom to hide things, but if truth is painful I must tell it gently. No truth should blast or leave the recipient in a bloody heap. And to believe humbly that any wrongful act done by you could equally be done by me is the beginning of healing. Truth stands alone. Almost-true is the drop of poison in a cup of water, or the last length of bridge across a chasm that was never laid.
My life must stand on the absolute of Truth. I cannot require of anyone what I am not willing to be myself. It is the daily surrender, the dashing and the flexing I do that allows me to tell Malachi, "Yes, I can definitely see those truth muscles!"