Saturday, March 31, 2018

Good Friday

Last night we celebrated Good Friday. We had a family meal together and read, the account in the gospel, of Jesus at the last supper with his disciples. Dave and I got down and washed our children's feet, encouraging them to go and do likewise. It always surprises me how some of us fight being served. One child refused to remove his socks. A Peter among us asked Dave to wash his hands as well as his feet. It's a vulnerable place. To hand someone your filthy foot and try not to anticipate judgement.

Five or so years ago Dave and I took the kids out to dinner for Good Friday. We had a large gift card to the restaurant so we let everyone order lavishly. Order, like they wouldn't have to pay for it. To our surprise, the gift card that we gave our waiter had never been activated. We had lived largely and had a debt to pay. Thankfully, Dave had money in the car and we were able to leave without washing any dishes. 

I'll never forget the the unwillingness of my child to uncover his foot.
I'll never forget sitting at a table and being told that what I thought would cover my debt, couldn't. 
I'll never forget the moment I realized I needed a Savior, my debt was discovered, my filthiness exposed. 

So we remember. 
A life full of moments that we entered into the life of Jesus, and He entered into ours. 
And we celebrate.
Because Good Friday, really is Good.

The world in resurrection!

Good Friday hike. Getting our clean feet dirty.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Life in the Oven

I woke at 4 am and thought, "I love baking. You always know what's going to come out of the oven by the ingredients you put in the bowl."

This may appear to be a random observation at 4 am, but it wasn't. It stemmed from the vastly different personalities of my children, all whom I have raised EXACTLY THE SAME.

The same ingredients went in the bowl, but let me tell you, I am pulling some interesting things out of the oven.

Avonlea rocked the boat a little as a teenager. Grant has capsized it.

It's not just a few scattered incidents, it's a constant state of incident.

Take this morning. I was in the shower. I was startled by a furious pounding at the door. I hear Grant yell, "I need help!"

At least he's admitting it, I muttered. I turned the shower off so I could hear him, "What's the matter?"

"I need a comb!"

"I'm sorry dear, but I am not getting out of the shower to get you a comb."

Real angst in his voice, "But I already put the gel in!"

I sensed tears were near so I jumped out, dripping, grabbed a comb and stuck it through the cracked door. Did I hear a relieved thank you? Oh, no.

I heard an exasperated Grant say, "Not THAT one!"

I think shock set in about this time and somehow he got his correct comb and I got my shower but I'm not sure how.

Recently, Grant had friends over for his 16th birthday. He told me that he gave them a talk about relationships. Okay....this was curious....what about relationships?

"Well, I told them there were two types of relationships, dominant and recessive."

I replied, "Aren't those gene types?"

"Yeah, well it works for relationships, too. Recessive relationships are shallow and don't last. (At which point he told me one of his friends shook his head and muttered, "I've had a lot of recessive relationships.") Dominant relationships have two characteristics; both people like each other and they are willing to wait a really long time."

I gathered my scattered wits at this eloquence and asked, "Where did you get this?"

He replied bitterly, "Experience."

Grant was running across the sidewalk the other week when his dog ran between his legs and sent him flying. He got up and ran after his dog. Comet is no fool and when she saw him coming she rolled onto her back and played dead.

I said to him later, "She didn't mean to knock you down Grant, you shouldn't have gotten so angry with her."

He replied, "I wasn't angry that she knocked me down, I was angry that she didn't come back to check if I was okay!"

At which point I laughed. Really hard. Because when you put the ingredients for scones into the bowl and pull pork and beans out of the oven the only reasonable response is laughter.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Remembering our Royalty

The days are dominoes. Slipping softly one after another or clanging loudly on top of each other aggressively. I am fairly passive in this process. My mold for each day, stuffing minutes like play-doh into the shape I want it to form, is gone. I tossed the mold at some point or maybe it exploded when the minutes became combustible. Entering the world of teenagers and middle schoolers has pretty much annihilated my game plan, and made me very very tired. I grab after laughter like ointment, the only thing that heals my chapped optimism, and I talk. I talk late to my boys. I see this world through their eyes and I feel the confusion and temptations that come with growing into manhood in this culture. I lay my time and heart out in mothering like I never have before and, yet, I can't guarantee anything. I pray for a faithful heart that doesn't grow weary.

Our new couch was a little bit bigger than I anticipated it being!
Earlier this week I found a few minutes to curl up on our new couch with a magazine. The door opened and I saw my mom come in. I continued to read until I sensed an undercurrent of excitement in the room. Now, I love my mom, but her undercurrents of excitement usually stem from things like discovering that peanuts are solely responsible for obesity in America. (MOM, what have I told you about clicking on those ads on the computer). So I hesitated to look up, finding the magazine much more safe. I lifted my eyes to see her fidgeting at the edge of the couch.
I braced myself but not enough.

"I just found out that we're related to King David."

Just found out? As in angelic messenger? As in an old genealogy hidden in a secret compartment in Grandmother's jewelry case?

"No, my sister got a new app on her phone that traced us all the way back. She just kept pressing the back arrow and there was King David!"

That's a lot of back arrows. I tentatively asked, "How can they know the lineage that far back?"

"Oh, they kept very good records of royalty." She swished back out the door and I could almost hear her purple robe trailing behind her.

I love this woman. I want to throw in the towel and howl and she's content with knowing that she's royalty. And she is, she is God's daughter, whole-heartedly, and she never forgets it.

She reminds me, that I too, am of the generation of faith. I have a cloud of witnesses who lived this life faithfully before me. I may or may not have the blood of King David running through my veins, but I do have the same Spirit, and so do my children.

So I smile and ruminate that the royal line wouldn't be intimidated by the tactics of the enemy.
I open my Bible, ready to form a new game plan.
I continue to lay my time and my heart out in mothering like I never have before and I have faith that the words and actions I lay on this alter of love will help shape a generation, one life at a time.

Later, I go upstairs to tuck in my little daughter and I can sense an undercurrent of excitement in the room. I try not to groan, but an undercurrent of excitement in Rose usually stems from things like telling me how many scoops she got out of the litter box that day.
So I braced myself, but not enough.

"When I start my period will you get me a bunny to celebrate?"

I tuck in the slightly shorter version of my mother into bed and get my royal self downstairs.




Rowan is Twelve and Skinning

Rowan turned 12 this October and has once again baffled me. His new means of intrigue is taxidermy. Remember when he wanted to be President of the United States and made me go and judge a debate so that he could learn how to out talk his opponents? Presidency and debating are things of the past and he now wants to pursue professional taxidermy. Meaning, he skins whatever animals he can get his little mitts on. Which right now means moles.

So for his birthday he got a pellet gun from us and he used his birthday money from his grandparents to invest in flesh scraping tools, scalpels, and de-greaser. The birthday money that usually goes into the bank for college. Apparently taxidermists don't have to go to college, but they do need sharp knives.


This hobby has once again rocked my world. Here's a vingette from this week.

Rowan walks into the house with bloody gloves on and says, "I'd have no problem being a doctor, this kind of stuff doesn't bug me at all."
My eyes light up. "Are you interested in becoming a doctor Rowan?"
"Nope. Do you think I could get a frozen bobcat to skin for Christmas?"
"I'll be in my room, please don't let anyone disturb me until the crying is no longer audible."

His birthday brought another unexpected change to our family. I bought Rowan the TV series, "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew." They were filmed in the 70's and I had watched them when I was little (on Saturday right after Hee-Haw). We watched the first one as a family and almost died laughing. The only thing is...they weren't supposed to be funny. But they were.

The first result of watching several of these episodes was that people started getting paranoid. Rowan thought the mail was being pilfered by a strange man (the newspaper deliverer). Avonlea heard musical chords in the night. When I ran into the door in the dark, my first thought was that an intruder attacked me.

The second result is that we were exposed to the music of Shaun Cassidy (AKA Joe Hardy) and vibed with his groove.
Way.too.much.fun.

Dance parties followed and I got my stiff boys loose and laughing. All of them.

Then I received a CD and call book for English Country Dancing which I used to make everyone dance. They endure my hobbies and I endure theirs. Rowan can dance with the best of them and I'm completely nonchalant about the mole skins laying on my sofa table.

This is family. The little strings that tie us tight together. Moles, dancing, and the Hardy Boys.



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Glorious Autumn

There are times when I lay on the floor of my bedroom, curled up in a patch of sunlight, half delirious with the brightness of fall leaves and half suffocated by the suffering world around me.


There are days when I spend hours outside in glorious autumn, planting bulbs, brown, egg-shaped personifications of hope.

There are 43 autumns behind me now, lived out in Alaska, California, England, Oregon and Washington. Yet every single autumn I am surprised by the beauty of this world.


I have spent 43 years watching God move in my life, seeing His goodness, testifying to His grace. Yet every single time He shows up I am surprised by His love.

Last night I said goodnight to the kids at the bottom of the stairs, I turned and quickly walked through the dark office to get to my own much desired bed. My mind was on Saturday's dress fitting for the Nutcracker. Obviously absorbing. The next thing I knew something slammed into me. Hard. I flew back several feet and landed flat on my back with a force that brought a scream and sob simultaneously.  I was stunned and in pain.

After Dave got me to my feet (ah I could still use my legs, good sign) I realized that I had run into the half open door. The solid wood had pushed my glasses into my now swollen eye and propelled me backwards with the same force I had been moving forward. I had walked into a door...don't only old people do things like that? My tailbone took the brunt of it and is now officially elderly.

God has this same effect on me. I move through life swiftly, thinking, planning, organizing my days, and I run into the God of the universe. Sometimes He stops me gently, and sometimes He's a door in the dark. Sometimes I lay on my back longer than I need to, insensible to what's going on. Other times, I'm up and thankful for the direction, for the halt. Maybe, like last night, I hobble to bed wry and bruised and humble. 

But the overwhelming fact is God shows up. He cares enough about our lives and our circumstances to interact with us. He is unpredictable, yet consistently faithful. 


Tonight, the rain rolls down the windows of my home. The trees drip leaves of red and yellow. Avonlea plays the piano and sings and a gray cat walks into my room. I am again overwhelmed by the beauty of life. But the heights reflect the depths and I also think of the suffering of the world, of people I love, and of my own burdens and I lift them up to God. I remember that I am not an exception. This good God who shows up and guides and helps me will also be present in the lives of those in need. 

To live hope is to take a prayer, an action, a word and bury it, bulb-like, in the hard ground; to revel in the glory of autumn is to prepare for the beauty of spring .








Monday, August 28, 2017

Avonlea's Graduation

When it comes right down to it, I'm a sentimentalist. I don't try to be, I just am.

So I approached Avonlea's high school graduation with fear and trembling. Granted, Avonlea's personality doesn't encourage sentimentality. She is silly and quirky and a bit of a bubble but STILL she's my first born and she was graduating. Sniff, gulp. 
She had a really hard time with the tassel making her cross eyed. Bubble.
We decided to do a home school graduation where Dave and I would talk to her on stage for several minutes and then she would respond to us. There were 11 graduates total and I knew that this had the potential for a full out sob fest. 

Avonlea with four of her graduating friends. I had just said something funny.

When my friend Dayna moved to North Dakota I gave a little talk at her farewell party at the church. I made it too nostalgic and got teary and promptly forgot the end of the speech. (Which, unfortunately, was the best part). So I learned my lesson and knew that if I got emotional I'd end up not saying what I wanted to. So we decided to make it funny.

Lord knows, with Avonlea, it wasn't too hard. The hard part was trying to narrow down her exploits to mock. I wrote out both my part and Dave's and he added his own personal touch at the end. The result was laughter and a memory of joy. 

I thought I'd include our talk here so that everyone one who wanted to come, but couldn't, could laugh with us.

Our Graduation Talk to Avonlea.....June 10, 2017

Me: Avonlea, I've never told you this before, but your dad and I established certain criteria to determine whether or not we should keep you.

Of course there were the general baby qualifiers, big eyes, fat thighs, etc. But what it boiled down to was " Will this child make us laugh?"

So since you had the eye/thigh thing going on we kept you around to see if you produced mirth.

Dave: Do you remember when you were seven and I took you up to your grandma's attic? I told you not to step on the insulation. You were obedient and you didn't step on the insulation, but you did sit on it. You went bottom first through the ceiling I lunged and caught you by the ankle. Your only comment was "Now I have something exciting to tell my children!"
You were expensive and destructive, but you were funny.

Me: And when I took you into the dressing room with me at a nice clothing store and in the quiet of concentrated shoppers your little voice popped out, "Wow mommy! Your legs start out so small at the bottom and get so big at the top!" I grinned and admitted that though you were embarrassing, you were funny.

Dave: When you took your first communion at church and before we could stop you clicked plastic cups with us and said "Cheers". You were sacrilegious, but you were funny.

Me: And when our house was filled with your music, when the days were lived to the melodies your fingers produced on the harp and the piano, When your harp music would coax the animals to you and you'd play with a parakeet on your shoulder and a cat in your lap. You were talented, but even in your talent, you found a way to be funny.

Dave: When you spent the majority of adolescence in the woods seeking birds' nests and strange fungus. You'd come home with your twigs and moss sticking out of your wild hair and burrs stuck to your camo. We'd look at you and say, she's crazy, but she's funny.

Me: So the decision was unanimous.

Dave: And we've never regretted it.

Me: Thanks for all the laughter Avonlea. Homeschooling you for the past 17 years has been a joy to me. Your have taught me more than I taught you. Thank you for being my guinea pig and allowing me to try eyery conceivable curriculum on you. You are scholastically well rounded. Thank you for staying patient and loving me even when I was a crazy wild woman. Your sweetness always calmed me. Over all the achievements that we celebrate today is the core that really matters, you love Jesus. We thank God for the gift of you Avonlea. We love you.

Dave: From the day you were born I committed myself to being the best father I could be. And though I failed many times I thank God for His help in raising you. He has truly blessed me beyond measure to see you through the last 17 years become increasingly more responsible, independent, and most importantly have a faith in Jesus Christ you have called your own. May your faith in God grow and flourish becoming fully dependent on Him in all circumstances. May you follow Him with abandon not based on feeling but based on commitment in the God you trust. I am proud of you and love you very much.

Avonlea is going to be around this year working. She was accepted at Capernwray Bible College in New Zealand for the 2018-19 school year. So I'm still able to keep my chin up and tell myself I have her for 11 more months. 
We were at a light. Pretty sure.
I'm so thankful to all of our friends and family who have contributed to Avonlea's life these past 17 years. So many of you have demonstrated Jesus in tangible ways and she is close to Him because she was close to you first. We were so blessed by everyone who celebrated with us through presence and presents. Thank you.

And now we move into the next chapter....(I can feel the sentimentality starting to tingle) Bible school, then marriage, and finally grand-children...and it seemed only yesterday she was toddling around in diapers...I need to go blow my nose.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Loops

I like loops.
Roads that begin and end in the same place.
I like leaving and I like coming home.
I like continuity.

My first loop experience was at Capernwray where you left the castle door with a chum or two and came back to the castle door with an enlarged worldview or a poetic twist on your common ideas.

Along the loop you'd see things like this:

And this:

The beauty of the journey shaped my soul as much as the conversation enlarged my thoughts.

I have recently experienced another type of loop. This month, Dave and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. Since we met in England we decided to loop back to Europe to toast our twenty. So in May, Dave and I spent a week in Switzerland.

The Matterhorn
We spoke of our own 20 year loop as we looped along mountain passes and waterfalls. We let our eyes feast on the beauty and our souls feast on the faithfulness of God through the long, winding years. I had time to look at my husband and say, "Thank you. You have been a faithful, loving husband to me for 20 years. I appreciate it. You are more than I deserve. God has shown me His goodness through you."

Tolkien's inspiration for Rivendell. Valley of 72 waterfalls.

Dave had time to tell me a hundred times a day that he thinks I'm beautiful and that he feels very blessed to be my husband. I had time to agree with him.

He took my hand when we crossed the street and he put me on the inside of the sidewalk when we walked. Dave took care of me loving and it reminded me of all the times he has sacrificially cared for me.


 
We are starting out from the castle door again. A new loop with new views and hopefully another 20 years journey to look forward to. There will be steep hills and deep valleys and graves by the roadside. But I wouldn't want to walk it with anyone else.
 
A ruin/graveyard I saw from the town and felt compelled to explore.
 

Our hotel served afternoon tea every day and I loved it!!!
We can see some things on the horizon. Avonlea, our first born, graduated from high school three weeks after we came home. We have our foster care training in August. Rowan starts junior high in the fall. Rose got promoted to the next level of her ballet training.
 
You don't think of the Alps as being blinding, but they were! We could barely open our eyes without sunglasses!

But there are lots of bends and dips in the road that we just can't see. But we know who we're following and we know we will walk next to each other. So we trust and we set out.


I like loops.
Roads that begin and end in the same place.
I like leaving and I like coming home.
I like walking next to you.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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