Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Night Summary

It occurred to me recently as I spoke with a friend that I often need to "mind dump" in order to feel situated mentally. Same holds true of my emotions. I just need to get it out.
I journal quite a bit, but not as much as I like. 
I think about my family all the time but don't communicate with any of them consistently, even my mom. Sorry, mom.
I also have  not been writing consistently in this space, and I think it is partly due to me over thinking it. Listening to a podcast today with Maria Popova, author of famed blog, "Brain Pickings," which I admit I have never read, something she said struck a cord with me. She said that in order for a person's writing to be sustainable over the long haul, one should always write, in whatever medium, for one's self.

For these reasons and more, I thought I would start and hopefully, sustain, a "Sunday Night Summary" series here on my blog. I know myself well enough to know I will not write every Sunday night. I just won't. The only thing I am consistent with is inconsistency. I lie. I brush my teeth every day. Without fail. A part from that, there is just little else I do consistently that isn't necessary for my survival of course.  

But, I am hoping to tap out a *brief* (if this is possible for me) summary of my week

  • to serve as a mind dump, a type of mental closure on my week. This is for me more than anyone who might read my blog. 
  • to send to my family so they can at least have heard something from me on what's going on in my world.
  • to write something here on the blog consistently.
Onto the inaugural Sunday Night Summary!

We'll go with categories for brevity's sake. 

Reading: "Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. In the chapter entitled, "Taming the Beast of Housework," Sally points out that, " a happy mom is a real gift for her children."  I am not the picture of a happy mom. I am grumpy a lot as I carry out my duties as a wife, mom and home maker. I become particularly grumpy about messes.

I know I am not alone in this struggle. But just because it is a common temptation for many a momma does not mean that I want to remain in this place. I want to find that gentle balance of having an orderly home environment while maintaining joy and peace in our hearts and relationships with one another. What good is an outwardly, orderly home when inwardly, we are all striving and embittered toward one another?

I appreciated her last thoughts of the chapter on creating a haven. No need to ditch my desire for order and cleanliness. I just have to learn how to motivate myself and my children in life giving ways. She suggests listening to an audio book , playing loud music, or setting timers with a promised reward at the conclusion of that time. I often do this for myself, but it has not often occurred to me to do this for my children.

I love how Sally motivates her reader to try a mentality and approach toward housework that will lighten everyone's mood by saying, "Adding color and interest into the tasks of life significantly diminishes that weight of stress and refills my soul to keep going."

Eating: For this category, I'll say that I was able to make my monthly trip to BB's on Saturday with a friend this time. This is an activity I look forward to each month. I love the thrill of finding great food at amazing prices and walking out with the immense satisfaction that I am saving my family a lot of money. This is good because I cost my family a lot of money in other areas of life, like car repairs....and oh boy, have we had a lot going on in that department lately. 
The deal I was most excited about this month? Organic Almond Butter for $2.00 and Neumann-O's (like Oreos but organic) for $1.49. Woo Hoo!!

We had a very full week, having opportunities to hang out with many friends.
The kids had musical practice on Monday afternoon. I love when they sing the songs from the musical in the car and practice them at home. I love that my boys still have young boy voices. They are still "my babies" for a little while longer. 

Tuesday, we headed down to the Annapolis area to hang with some buds from Speech Club, the Logan's. We met another family there who is thinking about joining speech, the husband of which is a race horse trainer. That was quite fascinating to hear about his work. 

The kids swam all afternoon while I had the opportunity to hear more about Rachael's life in South Africa (this is where she grew up and lived until just several years ago). She told me about foods and other parts of her culture she misses along with the story of how God revealed Himself and the truth about Jesus to her when she was a college student. She actually came to know Christ through an event that Campus Crusade held on her campus. Oh, it made me miss my days on staff with Cru and long for another season of ministry like that. Maybe one day again. Maybe. 

That evening, our family joined a few other families to begin a four week course on "Trust Based Parenting."  We are seeking to support friends of ours who are preparing to become foster parents, and we are also looking for some parenting help for ourselves with some of the issues we face here with our own three who qualify as "kids from hard places" given the way they all experienced "trauma" at birth in their own individual ways. 

Wednesday, our Pilot was taken to the mechanic for some maintenance and to look at a tire and steering, both of which we have noticed some problems.  I thought I was going to be getting the Pilot back at the end of the day, but lo and behold our mechanic didn't even look at it that day. Ugh!

That evening, I hosted "Gather" for the 2nd month. I have invited a few of my neighbors who I have come to know over the last year or two to join me in my home once a month for a few bites to eat, sips to drink and thoughtful conversation about family and faith.  This month, two friends were able to come, and we had a great time chatting it up.  

Thursday, my plans were totally rearranged for the day given I had no car again. My friend, Meghan, kindly invited us to swim at her in-laws' pool and picked us up to boot.  The kids had a fantastic time swimming in what we counted was the 6th pool they have swam in this summer, until we heard thunder. Then it was a scramble to get out of the pool, dried off and into Meghan's car before it dumped on us. Dump it did. We pulled up to my house with the rain coming down hard. 

Because it was raining so hard, Meghan ended up hanging out at our house with her kids, and I had Judah call the library to let them know he wouldn't make it to "work" that afternoon. I love that he is volunteering at the library this summer. What a great life experience this has been for him, and I have loved catching a glimpse at the independence, responsibilities and growth that is coming down the road for my three.  

Friday, we were supposed to check out a local swimming hole with some friends, but because I still didn't have the Pilot back, those friends came to us, and we all swam at Mr. Harry's (my neighbor) pool. Mid afternoon, we all loaded up into Tiffany's van and headed to our local library for a program put on  by the Franklin Institute about space. It was so well done, and I even learned a few new things like how astronauts shower in space. Do you know?  

Friday night, after Lawrence retrieved our Pilot from the mechanic, we had our family pizza/movie night.  This week we watched "Star Wars."

Saturday, I went to BB's with a friend which took up a large chunk of my day. On my way home, 
the Pilot's steering went awry and dash lights came on. I pulled over, put my hazards on and called LA. Long story short, we are looking at another repair, and I am without my car for another four days. Grr..

With the unexpected curve ball of dealing w/ the car, we weren't sure if we were going to have time to pull off having three families to our home that evening for a fire/cookout we had planned.  But, our friends were gracious, helped us get things together and helped by bringing food and drinks. 

We had 14 kiddos, 8 adults and a lot of fun sitting around the fire, making smores, cracking jokes and talking about all things from the best Netflix murder mystery series to really weird church experiences to how in the world we are going to parent our children who are growing up too fast. 

I haven't enjoyed hosting this many people at one time this much in a long time, which was rather surprising given how busy my week had already been and all the craziness with our car. Maybe Lawrence and I  are finding a groove with hosting.  

One thing I am learning to do to make hosting large groups not only possible but also enjoyable for me is to ask for help both in bringing food/drink and getting it all ready and dispensed to everyone. I am also learning to Keep It Simple, Silly.  Hot dogs, salsa, chips, watermelon, and smores was all we needed. Easy Peezy. 

Today, I stayed home from church because LA only has the capacity for four people to ride in his car. I opted to stay home and rest. I decided with a quiet house for a few hours, I would finally start in on some of the painting projects I wanted to devote my summer to doing. 

I spray painted four chairs that will go around our dining table. They are four different colors, fall-ish colors that coordinate with the colors in our curtains for that room.  I also painted a trunk we have had for years and years. We bought it at a thrift store. It was hunter green with $19.99 written in sharpie on top of the lid. It is now orange and will sit in our school room at the foot of our leather chair in there to house the kids' games and allow for feet to be plopped on top.

We ended our week playing a card games with the kids, LA reading an article to the kids about redemption in suffering, and I read the next chapter from our current read aloud, "The Green Ember." 

And, now the house is entirely quiet except for the hum of fans and the sound machine and the clickety-clack of me typing. Ah, this is my favorite hour of all. And, it's not even midnight yet. Hoorah!!

Looking Ahead: It's WEEK OF BIRTHDAY here for the boys. They will wake up 11 year olds tomorrow!!
I am not the best at celebrating with pomp and circumstance, but I am praying that I will put the perpetually running, mental to-do list on "pause" and focus on really entering into the celebration of my boys' lives and the gift they are to me, our family and others. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

I'm a little late to the game. I usually am. Nevertheless, I wanted to document a thought, just one, I ruminated on regarding my hubby yesterday, Father's Day. 

There was a plethora of  touching tributes to fathers and pictures of dads with their children as I scrolled through my facebook and instagram feeds yesterday. But, I remained silent.  I am not sure entirely why I do this. Mother's Day, Father's Day, people's birthdays. I freeze up. There's always been something about these days having hints of obligation behind one's card, gift or words of well wishes that just keep me at a distance.
I know. I have issues. Let's just move on.

The one thing, the most pronounced and really important thing that makes my husband an amazing father is simply this: he loves us when we are unlovable. He has demonstrated this to me more times than I could enumerate over the thirteen years that we have been married. He is now demonstrating this to our children with a steadfastness that seems impenetrable at times. He is not perfect in this, of course, but he perseveres with some unlovely creatures here in our home at times. 

He is patient and soft-toned many times. He comes alongside us in our emotional pits and encourages us, cheers us on, and reminds us Whose we are, that God loves us, and that we also love God and want to live for Him. And, he makes us laugh when the air becomes just a little too thick for comfort with intense emotion. He lightens the mood and enlivens our hearts to love one another again.

He is a picture of Jesus to us in this characteristic of his fatherhood and as a spouse. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Thank you, Lawrence, for demonstrating some serious love to me, your wife, and to our children, at our most unlovely moments. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Sunday Prayer

After a week where it seemed that so many who are dear to me were suffering or in turmoil of various kinds, I arrived to church this morning feeling so very desperate, broken, and in great need. 

As we sang "Our God Reigns,"  I prayed and pleaded with God. 

Perhaps you are in a similar place and need words to replace the groans which is all that seems to come these days.  Here are a few of mine I share with you. Let's pray and trust the Lord hears the cries of the righteous and delivers them from all their trouble. 

Break cycles of bondage.
Be bigger, Jesus. 
Pour out resurrection power to overcome all that seeks to steal, kill and destroy. 
Do not hold darkness at bay; push it back.
Show Your might and mercy, your kindness, compassion and power. 

Shake us. Uproot all that needs uprooting. 
Make us fertile soil. 
Bring a harvest through the pain of this. 

Be our rock of refuge that stands firm.
Be not moved in our shaking.

May we not return evil for evil,
injustice for injustice, 
disrespect and hatred for disrespect and hatred. 

Help us to do good and not withhold, 

to love You and out of that love to go the extra mile, 
to be inconvenienced, 
to lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven rather than on this earth, 
to be led by Your Spirit and bear the fruits of Your Spirit. 

Fill us as you empty us.
Fill us with Your love that is selfless,

with your grace that does unto others what we would have done unto ourselves. 

Give us empathy, a pause to think and feel for another. 

Fill us with gentleness 
and joy
and peace 
and faithfulness. 

Thank You that You do good unto all who love you, who call upon your name.
Thank You that You will not put your people to shame. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Monday After

There was a sense of let down when I woke up this morning. 
What now?
What for today?
Easter celebrations are over. 

I am having to remind myself that Easter celebrations for me, a Christian, are never over. 
Today, I celebrate afresh, again and for always--
     Christ is risen from the dead, 

     Trampling over death by death

I walk out onto my stone porch, leaving my over-sized sliding glass door open behind me so I can hear the words to Matt Maher's "Christ is Risen" blaring from our speaker and with my arms stretched out wide, eyes scanning the trees to search for buds of life amidst the dead limbs, I defiantly declare, 
     O death, where is your sting?
     O hell, where is your victory?
     O Church, come stand in the light.
     The glory of God has defeated the night. 

So today, when I am tempted to give in to discouragement, loneliness and let down, I resolve to remember, "God has defeated the night." Any night of the soul over me has no welcome and no claim on me; it has been defeated. 
I will persist to proclaim it. 
I will believe it. 

And when I walk the yard and fear the life of plants and bushes was stolen from this past winter, one of the coldest Maryland has seen in decades, I will purpose to pay mind to the life that remains and praise the One who gives life, sustains life and calls awake what lies dormant and dead. 

Friday, April 03, 2015

What's so good about Good Friday?

At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might dare to die. 
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him!       Romans 5

What other god has done this or would do this? 

The God, who justly could pour out His wrath on us, full fury, because of our selfishness, our shortcomings, our laziness and our living for ourselves.
This is the same God who saves us, rescues us, justifies us, makes us right by Himself? 
His own Son's blood. 
His Son, 
whom He loved and shared perfect communion with, 
who never did any wrong, 
who only ever chose to do the right thing. Every time. 
who obeyed even to the point of death. On a cross.

This selfless Son He gives up for us. 

What other god does this?
Demands a sacrifice and then provides the most spotless, perfect sacrifice History has ever known--on this day we remember as Good Friday. 

Good indeed for all those who flee to the merciful covering, the justly justifying, the never failing love of Jesus's blood.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Spring Will Come

“Anna just puked again” read the text from my friend, Jo, who was up the entire night before with Anna who, in total, threw up 20 times and only stopped retching due to the modern, medical help of anti-nausea medicine.  This is the second time this winter the stomach virus has fallen upon my friend's home.
And, I know Jo’s experience is not an isolated one.

I have a Southern friend, Amy, who has fought to find activities to keep her two boys busy while they have waited out TEN days of cancelled school, called off due to snow and ice covered roads that Nashville is simply not equipped to handle.

As I write this post, my daughter lays on the kitchen banquette beside me, sniffing and just plain worn out from fighting some kind of sinus cold despite how diligent I have been to avoid sugar, get enough rest and  pump our bodies with all varieties of immune boosting supplements.

It is finally March, the month that spring officially arrives, but we have been ready for the end of winter for at least a month now. Yes?

I adopted a mantra to help keep me from complaining. That mantra is, "Spring will come."  I figured it has come every year; it will come again. Renewal, rejuvenation, rebirth. It will all come.

Yet, we endure winter in the midst of our longing for spring.

I think many of us are longing not just for a literal spring but also for a spiritual spring--a renewal, rejuvenation and rebirth of the soul.

The winter of this fallen earth is evident: 

Positive thinking only gets us so far, and it just does not erase these realities.  

I have thought, "OH, Jesus, how I LONG for spring....not just the spring that brings daffodils and daisies but the spring that brings YOU again, the spring that ushers in the new earth and new heaven, new bodies for those who are in Christ, the new Kingdom of His righteous reign."

Spring will come. It will.

There is something, rather someONE who will take us farther than self affirmations.  
There is someONE who will take all the wrongs of this world and one day make it right,
who will call all evil to account,
who will fully and finally shackle all that shackles us,
who will burst on the scene with more brilliance than any row of azaleas ever could display.

His name is Jesus.

And, he came to earth once. We celebrate His first coming at Christmas.
We are now looking forward to Easter when we remember Christ’s dying and rejoice at His resurrection because it assures us that death has been conquered, eternal life in Heaven with Him is possible,
spring will come again.

What is in my heart and what I have tried to communicate in this post is perhaps more succinctly and poetically expressed in the lines taken from one of our family's favorite series, "The Chronicles of Narnia", 
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

We WILL have spring again. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Meditation on Psalm 57

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.                   Psalm 57:1

The storms will pass
Though they rage now.
You have a refuge
If to Him you'll bow.

It is God, the Creator
Who gives you shelter.
Under His wings
Hide from the helter skelter

Tell your soul
It is secure and safe,
Sheltered in God's mercy
That He will not abate.