Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stretching my Borders into China and beyond....

If you were to ask me the top things that I dislike in life (only pertaining to myself and not having to do with slavery, hunger, etc.) I would state the following: hiking uphill, being cold, critical people, competition, and arguing.

Seeing how I hail from Alaska and married a mountain climber, the first two are unfortunate, but I've managed to cope and wear long underwear. Critical people, I've learned to spot a mile away and shamelessly run. My family knows that mommy doesn't compete, even when we play games, so we play them nicely. "I'm sorry I had to send you home but that was the only move possible," is commonly heard. As for arguing, a kind answer truly does "turn away wrath".

Unfortunately, my children not only did not inherit my particular set of dislikes but they claim their own. Which makes for an interesting dinner table. They also possess their own particular likes that don't always parallel my own. Take, The Three Stodges for example. But I endure. Rowan, in particular, is passionate about things that I have a hard time getting excited about. He's a huge history buff, he collects instruments (and plays them), he wants to be president so he loves politics, he is constantly asking questions and debating my answers. But I love him. Love every freckle on his little nose. So I try.

Several weeks ago he asked if he could be on a debate team. I told him I'd look into it and contacted someone in charge of our area's speech and debate team for home school students. She said the best way to be introduced to their team was to come to the speech and debate competition, and since I was going, would I judge at it? (!!!) Every freckle, every I say yes.

This my friends, is how I end up with so many stories. I say yes with NO INFORMATION.

Thursday morning, Rowan and I go to the school where the competition was being held at 7:15 am. I am told I will judge a debate on US trade policies with China. I will be the only judge and will pick a winner and rate the speakers from best to last. I try not to cry. You may realize that I just entered into a world in which the last three things on my list are first and foremost. I have to criticize people. I have to engage in a competition and listen to people argue (don't tell me debating is different). Not to mention: TRADE WITH CHINA. Which I know nothing about, nor have a any desire to know anything about.

I come in the room and sit at a table with the person who is timing on one side and Rowan on the other. I have a ballot in front of me. Each team has two contestants and they all come and shake my hand. Then one guy speaks up and asks, "We would like to know the extent of your judging experience and what you want to see today."

This my friends, is raw. Everything I've just written here flashes through my brain but all I say is, "I have no experience." Then I answer the second part of his question 'what do you want to see.' I refrain from the truth, which is, I want to see my bed and a cup of tea, and answered, "I want to see clear points with good support." God help me.

The debate is over. Everyone shakes hands. My eyeballs hurt. An hour and ten minutes of my life has passed. Rowan and I go to the judge's room and he tells me how to fill out the ballot and who won. He has clear points with good support. He says, "I love this Mom. I can't wait to do this." Every freckle, every freckle...

I then went on to judge literature interpretation which took two hours. The kids who performed weren't arguing and most of them made me laugh so that wasn't so bad. One of them made me cry, she got first place.

I came home five hours later laughing and thoroughly exhausted. How stuffy and confined I'd be if it weren't for my husband and children. They have stretched the borders of what I think and do until I almost don't recognize my own inheritance. The love I have for them is always growing, and in its expansion, I also expand. This isn't always comfortable but it's so worth it.

And if I'm going to enter the world of debating, I need to find the equivalent of long underwear.
Maybe earplugs?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Quiet Life Where People Talk Angrily


Ah, the country.
Neighbors sprinkled sparingly like salt. A little friendliness makes everything more flavorful, too much and you gag.
We met a few of our neighbors over the summer. Nice, quiet, peaceful people.
Then a man tried to build a road adjacent to our private country neighborhood road to construct a house on, and the country got angry.
I was texted.
I was called.
I was visited.
The evil of this act was explained to me and it had something to do with CCNRs. I tried to get a word in edgewise to explain that I didn't know what those were. But no, my words were not to be. I signed something and my new neighbors left happy.
In parting they said, "We're sorry you have to be involved in this when you are new to the neighborhood."
I responded, "Well we used to live across from government housing so you guys are a step up."

About 5 days later, I was headed out alone to the store when I was intercepted on our road. By a man in a fuzzy gray robe with dangling earrings. He stopped me and introduced himself as Junior. He was about 50 years old. He was angry that the man was building his house in the mornings when his dad was trying to sleep. His dad is 87 years old and this house building is threatening his life.
I had already heard from the other neighbors that 2 of the senior citizens on our street had to be seen by a doctor because they were so upset about the illegal road activity, but this was new news.
Junior went on to tell me all the nasty things he planned to do to this builder if he didn't stop threatening his father's life. A couple of times he stopped and looked intently at me to see how I was taking it. I think he could tell I was stunned because he said, twice, "You look like a very nice lady." To which I nodded acquiesce. I finally just started driving slowly away, he walked beside my car, still talking for a bit.

I take back what I said about a step up. Sure there was a shooting, several drug dealers, and brawling in the old neighborhood,  but I never once saw anyone in their bathrobe.

I don't know what is going to happen next but I hope that everyone it involves is fully clothed.

Speaking of clothing, I went out warm up the car to take Grant to school on Thursday morning, and found the car already warm. It was running. It had been running since 11:30 am on the previous day. Almost 21 hours of my car running but not going anywhere. This is my mom's fault. She is in Pennsylvania visiting my brother and I am all too obviously co-dependent.

Thanksgiving is this week and again, despite absent mothers and fuzzy robe clad neighbors, I am so thankful.
Thankful for the breath that fills my lungs every morning.
Thankful for the people God has given me to share life with.
Thankful for the Truth that is interwoven into the trite, making all of life meaningful. (I know you're thinking bathrobe here. Stop.)
Thankful for laughter that knits my family together through everything.
Thankful for the interesting people that live in the country. Who knew!

Growing Still

Thanksgiving drifted into Christmas and Christmas slid into January. The weather up at the cottage was just how Dave likes it...cold and snowy. We took full advantage of it with downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing and sledding.

The first day of January fell softly like the snow out the window.
It's newness reminded me of birth, of a wrinkled wise baby waiting to grown into itself.
We spent time together as a family, dedicating the baby year. Asking God to grow it strong and healthy and hopeful.

Then we came home and I moved back into the comfortable, happy rhythm of school and life with my husband and four children on the path toward adulthood. The familiarity of schedule is good, but there's a deeper good underneath it. I know I am growing. There have been years spent just trying to maintain sanity. Years when growth was, I thought, only what the children did.

Rose bringing in the New Year with Elijah and Annaka

Maybe it had something to do with an impulse I had right before Christmas. Our family initiated our new house with a game of sardines. We used to play it in our old house but just hadn't gotten around to it here. All the lights were out except the Christmas lights and we hid and found and frolicked. Then, inspired by the levity of the moment, I popped in a video of myself (previously unviewed by the kids) dancing and singing when I was 14. My children were shocked. I was obviously not stage shy. I danced with full abandon. After watching that video I had an epiphany. I am growing. I wasn't that same girl shimmying across the stage. I had grown demure.

Once I woke up to the fact, I saw other evidences. I could keep my mouth shut for longer periods of time. My devotions were consistent. I kept my temper with Rose during math (this is meant to be a general statement). Growing is present tense. I'm still in the midst of it. But it's there, and it's good.

So the year started and I recognize it as a journey, a single stair, a stepping stone.
Another opportunity to grow along with it.
So I dedicate myself again and I ask God to make me strong and healthy and hopeful.
And nice.
And sensitive.
And forgiving....good thing I'm only in my forties!
My niece Saylor

I try to remember that this is where we all are. In process. Being born. Growing up.

Happy baby year to you....may it be full of growth and joy....may it live up to its potential.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


This morning I awoke to the sunrise. A fruity affair of mellow cantaloupe and tangy lemons with a mandarin sun.
I was confused. We are going on eight months in this house and I had never before observed the sun rise from my bed.
Our room has four large windows in it. Dave and I, being city folk, were a little wary of these windows.

Windows in the city, mean people looking in. One time, it meant someone actually stopping and talking to us from the sidewalk as we sat on our couch. So we meticulously closed the blinds on the windows every night since we've moved in, thinking that in doing so we were securing our privacy.

Windows in the country, mean people looking out. Several days ago we had the epiphany that we have no neighbors that could possibly look into our bedroom windows, not even with binoculars. All we were doing, in our fear and self-consciousness, was limiting our view.

All these thoughts floated through my mind as I watched the sun rise this morning and I had to admit several disturbing things. Our preconceptions had made us miss many glorious sunrises. The sunrises that I did see, I had to go out of my way to find, when they were actually just beyond my own bedroom window.

God reminded me again, through different symbols, what He has taught me so many times.
Live with your windows open.

Fear will not stop the sun rise, it will only hinder your enjoyment of it.

Preconceived ideas only limit our perception of what's good, be open to change when His Spirit

Securing our privacy often means missing out.

Stay in bed as late as possible.

I wish I could think of more lessons because I have more pictures. But I can't. If you can, let me know. I'll post the pictures anyway.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Glory Pursues

Day by day life rolls along.
A lilting song.
A shout of laughter.
A child's cry.
A near disaster.

This loud learning process never ends.
Or it ends only to begin again. Immediately.

In the fall, the glory pursues me.
The loveliness grabs me aggressively and I lean into it, lover-like.

In the arms of this radiance,
I realize afresh how far I am from where I want to be.
But I see also, how far I've come and how I'm covered in grace.

My life is a song that I am desperately trying to sing
before the words wrinkle into silence.

In the silence, I can hear the leaves fall.
And they sound like the footsteps of glory,

Monday, September 19, 2016


The good news is I'm not walking into walls anymore when I try to go upstairs in the dark.

We are still moving in. Who knew it would take 6 months and many bruises? Not this little optimistic Eskimo. I thought I could do it in a week. Or so.

Dave started to help me put pictures up last weekend. You would think that after having 6 months to ponder where those pictures should go we'd be able to slap them up in a jiffy. I have made some bad calls.

Take the Lady of Shallot for instance. I love her. I thought I would love her in my bathroom.

But it kind of looks like she's trying to peek.

I'm not Lancelot and don't find this flattering. Or comfortable.

In other news...I went to pick the kids up at camp in July and came home with a puppy. Some women impulse buy shoes, I bring home pets. Pets that will someday be LARGE.

 But she's not large right now. She is the yummiest bear of a baby and her name is Pearl. The way I babble at her and cuddle her is proof that I should have had more children.

Two weeks ago we went peach picking. It was highly romantic. Almost as romantic as having the Lady of Shallot watch you take a bath.

Of course we couldn't eat the entire 26 pounds of peaches that we picked so we mixed them up with blackberries and made fruit leather.

Here is the peach/blackberry fruit leather before it went into the dryer. Doesn't it look like a big hearted swan??? I found this extraordinary and very romantic. Also possibly prophetic although I haven't figured out how.

Last week we went on our last summer outing as a family. We explored Fort Vancouver. It seemed symbolic (I think symbolism is romantic) that we step into the past before we step into the future.

Our future is this: Avonlea is a Senior and graduates this June. Grant started public high school. Rowan and Rose keep me busy as 4th and 5th graders at opposite ends of the education spectrum. Rowan wants to know everything because he wants to be President of the United States as soon as he turns 30. He eats up everything I can feed him mentally and asks questions that keep Google and I tight. Rose on the other hand has no ambition except to be a ballerina missionary. When questioned further she will tell you she wants to dance for Africans. But in general it's best NOT to question her further.

(She wrote a poem the other night that said "the moon is sining, all the stars sin together". She meant shine. She asked me if I wanted her to illustrate the poem. NO. No thank you dear, go practice your ballet.)

Dave and I's future is always together....for the romantic moments and the not-so-romantic moments. For the puppies and the starry nights (whether sinning or not)  and the morning fog. For the four lives that bind us so closely to each other and our God. For pumpkin patches and huckleberry picking and laughter.

A future built on a mountain of memories and a foundation of love.
So we welcome fall, I have a tingly feeling that it is going to be very romantic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When Jesus Comes To Your House

First, thank you my friends for your texts, emails, and comments over the past few days.

We had an incredibly sensitive and difficult situation to deal with concerning family trauma. Everyone is okay, still on our knees, but okay. Mom and I battled together for spiritual victory in the life of someone dear to us. Many of you joined in the prayers and we are so thankful for you.

Yesterday, I told Dave I would hire a landscaper if he just gave me some names to call.

Today I got a text from Dave that said, "Call Jesus." Followed by a number. Even though I knew that probably wasn't how he pronounced his name, I had to smile.

I thought, that's what I've been doing all week, calling Jesus.

I called Jesus. He didn't answer so I left a message. Again I smiled, I've left many very important messages this week for another Jesus.

I started to text Dave back when Jesus called. He was kind and told me he could come tonight by 6pm. Jesus called back, and he made me a priority.

At 5pm Jesus pulled up, I wasn't ready for him and was caught off guard. When I went out to meet him, he introduced himself as Jesus and then the man who was with him introduced himself as Jesus also saying, "He's the father, I'm the son." I did a quick glance around for the Holy Spirit.

I left them in the yard measuring for bark dust and I had a good laugh. Somehow...through a Craigslist landscaper....God reassured me that He hears, that He shows up, that He always exceeds my expectations. That He's full of surprises.

Jesus made me laugh.


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