Thursday, November 29, 2007

Amazing Grace

Last week My Hero and I watched Amazing Grace, the film about William Wilberforce's battle to end slavery in England. I highly recommend it. It's rare these days to watch a film that captures me heart and soul...where I can identify with the main character, and admire and respect him, and wholeheartedly agree with his goals. The main characters in most movies I've seen lately have little or no moral fiber. Or are just unrealistic heros, like Jack Bauer in 24, which is actually my favorite TV series ever, I think. And the romantic comedies, which used to be my favorite genre, I almost always have to set aside my actual views of life and how it should be lived in order to attempt to enjoy the story of two divorced people, or sometimes one who is married, or always they're in a relationship of some kind, "finding" each other...and generally the only form of attraction they have for each other is beauty, and shared circumstances, and some sort of emotional connection. I find it mildly entertaining from time to time, but the ones that grab me and suck me in are stories about struggle, and giving oneself to something truly valuable, and the love stories I like to watch are ones where there's an attraction based on beauty of character (Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice).

Well. This post was going to be about how I saw such a correlation between the slavery issue of a few generations ago, and the abortion issue today. It gave me a renewed sense of hope that change for the good is possible. It showed me that a nation's moral code is not necessarily always can be built back up.

I was struck by how inane the arguments for slavery sounded. How could they have allowed it? I wondered. How could they not see how barbaric it was? They justified slavery with arguments of "We're actually giving them a better life," and "If we weren't doing it, France would do it and prosper instead of us" and "We have no evidence to show that the Negroes themselves have any objection to the slave trade." And the primary issue that made most of England's leadership want to keep slavery legal was the money involved. It was so lucrative.

I think while many people uphold the abortion option as a convenience (as I'm sure having slaves to do the housework was a convenience to many a British housewife), I'm also convinced that government funding of abortion related causes such as Planned Parenthood is the primary motivation for the big powerful abortion supporters fighting so passionately to keep abortion legal.

Our eyes have been opened since Roe vs. Wade, though. Now we can see inside the uterus, now we can keep tiny humans alive in the earliest stages of development. Now the line between life and unborn is blurring, fading...not even there? Our eyes are open. The facts are there. The truth is out. Now we just need a William Wilberforce and an army of people behind him to fight for good to prevail, to fight against the unjust, cruel destruction of these tiny innocent persons.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Didn't Know

"I was blindsided," he said. "I didn't know about any of this."

He stood before the people, telling his story.

"Unlike [the man before me], I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I didn't know. My wife and I joined a financial class because we wanted to learn how to get out of debt. We had no idea the rest of the group would be Christians. My wife and I talked about wanting our kids to learn about God..." He explained how they came to church the first time, unknowing. And were blown away. They'd never been so welcomed. They'd never known the Truth. They've been coming to our church for several months now, and he joined a small group. Last Sunday as part of our service we had a memorial for an elderly, godly woman, mother of two older ladies in our church. And our pastor talked about how God is all powerful, so we are secure, and can rest. Sunday evening in his small group, this man gave his life to Christ.

This Sunday he told us about it. He and another man who chose to surrender himself to Christ last week.

The man before him told of his long, difficult, bitter journey. About how he was raised a Christian and felt pressure to claim a faith that he knows now wasn't genuine. How a few years ago in pain and frustration he swore never to darken the door of a church again. About the prayers of his wife and God's work in his heart, how he came to this baby church and how his eyes were opened last week to God's mercy, God's loving arms wrapping him in security, not measuring him to a standard he could never reach.

An awesome story of God's hand working in a man's life, through the complexities of bitterness and disillusionment and misconceptions. But the second man's story was so simple in contrast. "I hadn't heard. I didn't know." That's all that was keeping him from God. He hadn't heard. Invite him in. Show him love. He wanted to know. He wanted to follow. How many others in our community feel that way? How many will choose to believe if they could just hear, just taste a little bit of His love?

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:36-38

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I Want to Homeschool

I found this article the other day, and it rang true in every corner of its arguments. It matters to me because, although my boys aren't school-age yet, I already see myself as their educator, and we've begun taking excursions into the exciting, scary world of academics.

A year ago I dreaded the thought of Green Bean reaching school age and us having to decide where to send him. Both My Hero and I were open to all the options, but I had no sense of which would be better or right for our son. Then I found this website and realised that if I did it myself, I could provide my sons with an education superior to my own (which I think was very good; I had a lot of excellent teachers throughout elementary and high school). I was filled, and still am, with a passion and excitement to take charge of their education and teach them in a systematized, logical, progressional way. An area of weakness in my own education was that as I switched from teacher to teacher much of my knowledge was fragmented. I didn't know how to put it all together as a whole, especially in areas such as history and science. I think with the big picture in mind, studying the history of the world chronologically three times, each time becoming more in-depth, my boys should have a much firmer grasp of what happened when and what fits where. I feel like education that is done badly is a supreme waste of time. I sat through some college courses in which I learned next to nothing. If I can make their learning time productive, active, and logical, I feel like they will come away with a much fuller, richer understanding of their world, how it works, and where they fit in. And of course I get to remain their main source of authority on moral and spiritual truths, which gives me peace and puts a fire under my pants at the same time.

But when people ask me where I plan to send my boys to school, I find myself reluctant to admit that I've decided to home school them. I feel like there's a strong bias against homeschooling, a lot of preconceived ideas about what it is...not among my immediate family, thankfully, but many of my acquaintances. And I know sometimes homeschooling is done badly, in which case the kids are not at an advantage. But I just felt this article expressed articulately, something I often feel incapable of doing, all my reasoning behind wanting to home school my boys. It's nice to have that choice affirmed so intelligently.

I give thanks to You, O God

34. Mentors, all around me, showing me how to live, teaching me ways to do my job better, deepening my thinking, spurring me on toward love and good deeds.

35. Stories of God's grace to past generations: the parting of the Red Sea in the nick of time for a people who had packed up everything and followed God in faith that He would lead them to a better place.

36. David, young and unacknowledged, slaying Goliath with just a slingshot - the mighty courage God gave him that day.

37. Daniel's rock hard faith when faced with a choice, stop praying to God publicly or be thrown alive to ravenous lions.

38. Christ's unmatchable sacrifice, borne from unfathomable love for us undeserving selfish people.

39. Augustine's transformation, and his mother's unwavering prayers for him when his repentence seemed an impossibility.

40. My older brother's life change - grace, where my own heart had almost ceased to hope.

41. Abraham Lincoln's humble leadership, and his Emancipation Proclamation.

42. William Wilberforce's exhausting fight to end slavery in England, and the victory God gave him before he died.

43. Hope, that the same social reform might be possible to stop the obviously cruel inhumanity of abortion.

44. Thomas Edison's lifetime of dedication and sacrifice to find ways to introduce new improvements into our lives, especially the light bulb.

45. Those who figured out how to pave roads.

46. Those who contributed to figuring out how to bring running water into individual homes, and how to make it warm.

47. Luis Pasteur, and all who contributed and contribute to finding cures for diseases.

48. Vaccines - that most illnesses my boys come down with give me little worry or concern for their lives.

49. A job that challenges, demands my best, and fills me with purpose, hopes, goals, passion.

50. A washing machine and laundry detergent that allow me to drop soiled undies, sheets, and blankets in, push some buttons, wait a half hour, and pull them out smelling clean.

51. The knowing that all the material things I'm thankful for, I don't need one. He is all I need, and if I lose the whole world I will never lose Him. And so many who have gone before me, who have lost everything, count that occurrance as some of the sweetest moments of their lives, the closest to God they have ever been. How much hope is there in that? What have I to fear?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It was the perfect morning.

It began the day before...the sunshine so strong and bright it was almost warm Monday afternoon, and a tree full of apples beckoning irresitably. Sunday afternoon Dad showed me bags of apples he and the boys had found in an untended apple tree in their field. Red apples, crispy and sweet. Most years they stay green and sour, inedible. Hundreds more, he said. He invited me to come make applesause with them Sunday evening, and as we we washed and my brother cut out the bad spots and Dad and I sliced and boiled, then began the straining, I knew I wanted to make a batch of my own.

Monday afternoon Green Bean and Peanut Butter bundled up in layers of soft heavy clothing, I headed to Mom and Dad's for a trek through the fields to gather my own apples. "You can have some of ours," Dad said, home for his lunch break. "How many do you want?" "Lots," I said. Green Bean helped me fill a bag from Dad's big box on the porch, but I wanted to gather some from the trees myself. I didn't want the half hour I spent bundling up my boys to be for nothing. "Do you have a ladder?" Dad asked. No, and if I did I wouldn't be able to carry it. "Do I need one?" I asked. "Yes, probably. We gathered all the good ones from the ground." Pause. "But there are other trees we didn't even look at. You might find more." I felt sure I would, so I borrowed their wheelbarrow, and with Peanut Butter in a backpack on my back and Green Bean resting comfortably in the wheelbarrow, we started off through the fields. Three fields away, the trees were. Oy. "Could you walk a little?" I asked Green Bean as I pushed achingly through the long grass. "We're almost there." I got him out and with a lightened load and renewed determination pushed the last 20 feet. Green Bean began to cry. Twenty feet was too far to walk. "You can do it," I assured him, and began looking around the ground under the different trees. Green Bean made it, but I was finding only deer tracks around each apple tree. Apparently they're enjoying the apples this year, too. Finally I set Peanut Butter down in the backpack and climbed in one of the trees to shake the branches. Apples dropped and tumbled willingly. I shook, then gathered a good bag. Another tree, taller, with stronger limbs that were harder to shake, but with a little more effort I had knocked a good number to the ground. I gathered them up to the cries of Green Bean and Peanut Butter. Funny how I was doing ALL of the work, but they were the ones complaining. I remember feeling the same way, though, outside in the cold on one of Dad's escapades when I was young. We (I) had gathered two big bags of apples, which is all the wheelbarrow would hold with Green Bean riding in it. So I shouldered Peanut Butter's backpack and loaded Green Bean into the wheelbarrow with the apples spilling around him, and began the backbreaking treck back through the fields.

I had promised Green Bean that these apples were for making applesause, but by the time we got home from gathering them it was time to make supper and my energy level was near empty. "Tomorrow," I said.

Yesterday morning I breezed through the daily chores, put Peanut Butter down for his first nap, and Green Bean and I began making applesauce.

Sinks full of! A gift from the Father, unearned, undeserved...makes this home economist's heart sing.

The line from Ann Voskamp's recent blog kept running through my head.

"Everything I dreamed of, right before my eyes."

My two boys, my own kitchen, making applesauce aided by an eager helper. The tangy sweet smell of apples cooking. The first snow of the season falling softly outside, painting the world in white. Words of life filling our home with truth and wisdom, instructing my heart, enlarging my soul. Also free. Another priceless gift.

Six quarts of pink, tangy homemade applesauce packed in the freezer for yearlong enjoyment.

Big bowl of applesauce in the fridge for this week's pleasure.

A heart full of gratitude, for all God has given.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Struck Dead

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a shocking one. They lied and said the money they donated to the church was the whole amount from the field they sold, and God struck them dead. Everyone who heard about it was terrified.

It seems inconsistent. Most of us have told a half-truth or a lie sometime in our lives, and we're still here.

I wonder if this was an important part of the beginning of His Church. A lesson to all the believers, then and now, that God in all His grace still does not tolerate sin. A sharp example to us all of how God could react when we take his calling lightly and sink into self-service. It makes it easier to fear God, knowing that sometimes He chooses to mete out justice as soon as it's deserved.

We serve a God who hates sin and loves justice. That should make us tremble.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Day in the Life of ...

5:00 Wake up to alarm. Scoop up Tuttles the kitty and hold as I make coffee. Sit on couch and read the last chapter of Matthew with Tuttles purring desperately in my lap. He was shut out of my bedroom last night because Green Bean was in my bed in the middle of the night with an earache, and Tuttles kept trying to lick him, and it really bothered Green Bean. So now Tuttles is desperate for human companionship.

5:25 Go into my bedroom to give Green Bean his milk to help him stop coughing. He complains about his ear again (his very first ear infection??) and wants to go back to his own bed. I carry him quietly into his bedroom so as not to wake Peanut Butter, and come back out to sit at the computer.

5:35 Begin a post that ends up taking almost an hour to complete. Blow past my 6:00 deadline, but Green Bean is still sleeping after the long sleepless night, so I let myself.

6:25 Make my bed, change into workout clothes, plug in the blue nightlight that tells Green Bean when he wakes up that it's okay to get up now. Turn on Dave Ramsey commercial free podcast to listen to while I excercise. Turn on workout video.

6:30 Decide it would be fun to chronicle my day, so pause the exercising to begin this post.

6:43 Resume workout, 43 minutes behind schedule.

6:50 Both boys wake up. Green Bean sits on the couch with his library books, and I give Peanut Butter some breakfast in his high chair. Excercising resumes.

7:25 I head to the shower while Green Bean plays his "Elmo Game" and Peanut Butter empties the bathroom cupboard drawers.

7:40 Clean and dressed, I grab a bowl of cereal and decide to make pumpkin muffins for breakfast / snack. Take Green Bean potty, change Peanut Butter's diaper, and get them both dressed.

8:10 Put muffins in the oven, empty the dishwasher with Peanut Butter's help. Yes, he's only 15 months. He stands on the door and hands me dishes from the shelves. "Herey'go!"

8:20 Put Peanut Butter down for nap #1.

8:50 Finish cleaning the kitchen and feeding muffins to Green Bean.

9:00 Clean the bathtub.

9:05 Choose clothes for work tonight for My Hero while bathtub cleaner does its work.

9:15 Get Peanut Butter up from his nap. Rinse bathtub and finish cleaning bathroom.

9:35 My Hero's home!! Listen to work stories, talk about things together as he eats breakfast, feed Peanut Butter some muffins, make up a batch of baby wipes, clean up breakfast/snack mess.

10:25 My Hero goes to bed. Begin a list of family birthdays and anniversaries for my new sister in law.

10:45 Get a call from my mom, wondering if I have any extra pumpkins...hers are all too frozen from being outside, and she wants to make a pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin for Thanksgiving. Yes, yes I do! And I haven't done anything with them yet... She stops by a few minutes later and picks one that looks promising.

11:00 Read a few books to my boys.

11:15 Send some e-mails to gather information for my birthdays and anniversaries list I'm compiling.

11:30 Join the little boys in their bedroom and play and read books together.

12:00 Put both boys down for a nap. Try to decide if I should use this sunny day naptime for hauling dirt in a wheelbarrow to fill my retaining wall in front of our house or for cooking up pumpkin to freeze and use for pumpkin pie. I'll be hauling dirt. Who knows how many more tolerably warm sunny days I'll have before winter sets in and the ground is too frozen to dig dirt anymore. I'd love to get the walls filled in and some tulip bulbs planted before winter. Although it's already late for planting tulip bulbs.

12:07 Receive an e-mail from Charlie Lehardy informing me that he has linked to me on his blog. Sunshine bursts from the clouds and radiates my spirits. My humble ramblings honored with a link from his thoughtful, intelligent blog. Thank you.

12:10 I hear voices outside my window. I look out and see my dad and younger brother outside, nearing the front steps. It's one of my favorite things about living near family...unexpected visits. Dad is putting up the mailbox for my grandparents, who have a house newly built across the street from mine and plan on moving into it next Wednesday. He uses my phone to discuss with Mom just where he should put it. He talks about doing our gardens together next year, and about seed prices.

12:30 I head outside and haul dirt with my wheelbarrow to fill my retaining walls. I get more done than I expect to.

1:45 Boys wake up, and I hurry to put away the wheelbarrow and shovel, go inside and wash my hands, then give them lunch. Leftover casserole from last night's supper. It's one they both liked.

2:00 I get lunch for myself as the boys eat. Leftover chicken taco. Mmmm.

2:22 I decide to search the internet for how to cook pumpkin.

2:35 I think I'll try cooking pumpkin in the microwave and baking it in the oven, and see which method I like better.

3:30 I interrupt my pumpkin cooking to give a snack to the boys. I also get the playdough down from the cupboard for the boys to play with.

4:15 I interrupt my pumpkin cooking to put Peanut Butter down for nap #3.

4:25 I interrupt my pumpking cooking to make supper.

5:10 Green Bean and I go wake up My Hero.

5:30 Green Bean and My Hero go wake up Peanut Butter.

5:40 We all sit down to supper together.

6:10 I clean up the supper dishes while My Hero reads to us from Exodus. I bit off more than I should have with the pumpkin cooking. It's still in progress, and it has made a huge mess of my kitchen, and I don't have a lot of energy left. My Hero plays and has "rough time" with the boys while I clean the kitchen.

7:00 I finish cleaning up the kitchen and freezing the pumpkin. I take the garbage out and pick out clothes for the boys to wear to church tomorrow. Green Bean is outgrowing his 3T shirts, so I take down the 4T ones I've been buying and storing for such a time as this. It's easier to choose something to wear tomorrow from a new batch of shirts.

7:30 I empty the kitty litter box and give Tuttles fresh water.

7:45 My Hero says goodbye and leaves for work. I put Peanut Butter in his pajamas while Green Bean reads Green Eggs and Ham beside me. Green Bean begins One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and I read it with him. I put Green Bean in his pajamas, and get the toothbrushes.

8:00 After brushing teeth, I enlist the boys to speedily pick up their toys around the house. Green Bean cooperates; Peanut Butter climbs in a chair, rips several pages off of my magnetic notepad, and gets a measuring cup out of a drawer before I find him and stop the madness.

8:10 The house is (fairly) clean, the kids are in bed, and I'm exhausted. I update my birthdays and anniversaries list with the information my sister and my mom sent me in e-mails during the day. Just waiting for my brother to reply. It could be a while.

8:47 Time to relax. With some hot cider and a book. Goodnight.

Like Butter Over Too Much Bread

I found a new system for keeping the house clean. It comes directly from Rockin' Granola's description of how she keeps hers clean.

Becoming a member of the blogging world has exposed me to women I want to emulate as a wife, as a mother, as a homemaker, as a child of God. I could never have predicted I would be so challenged to change my habits or humble my heart.

I made my own list, to fit my own home, and for the last seven days have been trying to keep up with it. I've done fairly well, and I LOVE how clean all over the house is. My goal for at least a year has been to keep my house in consistent orderliness and cleanliness so that when someone stops by unexpectedly, I'm not embarrassed to let them in. I've been slowly gaining ground in the area of clutter, which has been my major focus. The house almost always looks good by the end of the day after the kids are in bed, but stop by in the middle of most days and you won't believe that it was clean just a few hours ago. Whenever we have friends or family over, we clean thoroughly, and we generally have people over at least once a week. Over the years that we've been married and had our own place, having guests over is what keeps us on top of the clutters and messes. Go a few weeks without inviting anyone to come, and the place would be, well, like my bedroom when I was a child.

I guess I'm growing up. The thing I kept running into as life with two little boys keeps me busier than ever, is that I wouldn't have time in the hour or two before people arrived, to clean everything that had been neglected. Dusting, cleaning the front of the refrigerator, washing the kitchen floor, washing the windows, the sticky kitchen chairs, the grimy build-up in the kitchen sink, etc. There's not always time to do all those things before guests arrive, and My Hero, who generally helps me during that hour or two before people arrive, doesn't see most of the things listed above as critical anyway, and urges me to forget about them.

That's why the list of daily cleaning is such a great idea. Breaking the tasks up into a few each day keeps the house generally clean, each area being cleaned at least once a week keeps things from getting really grimy.

But, and it's just the first week, so I'm sure I'll get faster, but when I spend the time to do the cleaning on my list every day, I don't have much time left for anything else. In my head I visualize myself flitting quickly around the kitchen with a wipe in my hand doing a once-over to the front of the microwave, dishwasher, fridge, oven in about three minutes. Reality sees me getting a wipe and starting on the fridge, only to be interupted by Green Bean who would like me to get his puzzle for him. I get the puzzle down and resume wiping when I notice Peanut Butter has found a permanent marker. I take the marker away and hear the dryer buzz, so I bring Peanut Butter with me to the dryer to help me take the laundry out and distract him from wailing about the marker. After I finish folding laundry the kids are hungry and it's snack time. I get them their snacks, then grab the wipe and resume wiping the fridge. Peanut Butter needs milk, so I open the fridge, grab his sippy cup, and bring it to him. Then pour a small cup of milk for Green Bean. By this time Peanut Butter is done his snack and standing in his high chair, so I wipe him down, let him run and play, clean his tray, then wipe Green Bean's hands and face, clean up Green Bean's snack mess, put everything away, and if I'm still thinking about it, go back to my three minute job.

I look at my list and wonder why it's so hard to get it done, then I think about what life with two small boys is really like.

And a clean house is only one of my goals, and not necessarily the most important one.

I make time to read to the boys every day, but I'd love to read more, and I want to make reading poetry to them part of our daily routine. It just hasn't fit in yet. Somehow.

I want to spend time daily doing learning things, weekly activities from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready and more with learning numbers and letters with Green Bean, which this spring I was doing with him daily, but summer hit and schedules changed and it no longer happens. I want to homeschool these little guys, and I can't imagine how I'll ever stay on top of everything when I'm dedicating whole sections of my days to education!

I just wonder what I'm doing wrong. How I can be the homemaker I want to be and the mother I want to be without becoming burned out and completely discouraged. I don't want to spend these precious days with my little boys as a stressed out, busy with her own things mother. But I do want to be an example to them of self-discipline and doing my job well. And I do want to educate them as well as I possibly can. I guess all of life will probably a struggle for balance. A struggle to fill my days with the best of things, and trying to weed out time wasters that detract from our overall quality of life. A struggle to put Jesus first and in the midst of all my goals and aspirations, to be flexible enough to hear His voice and respond when He calls me to meet a need.

I guess if prioritizing was easy, everyone would do it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Smell the Roses

My Hero and I were finishing up a movie together during our little boys' naptime yesterday, and before it was over the little guys woke up. Green Bean stumbled out and headed to My Hero's lap while Peanut Butter began wailing from the bedroom, stuck in his crib, unable to follow his big brother. I went to get him, lowering the crib railing and lifting him out, touching his soft warm wake-up cheeks to mine as I brought him back to sit with My Hero and Green Bean and I in our oversized chair to watch the last few minutes of our movie. As the credits scrolled down the screen and Green Bean and Peanut Butter soaked up the notes of music playing, I looked at them and a few years they won't fit as easily in our laps or snuggle down as willingly in our arms.

There are lots of times I wish these days away...look forward to when they can help with the dishes and dress themselves and even stay home by themselves for a few hours while My Hero and I have some ALONE time... But I'll long for these days sometimes, when they're past, and I'll look back and treasure the memories of warm wake-up cheeks and bright soft eyes and little ones who want most just to be with me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

a shoe box of promise

"Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?"... "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" Matthew 25:37-40

When I read those words the other morning, God kindled a flame of passion in my spirit, gave me a burning desire to feed and clothe Jesus by doing it for someone in need. But who? Where? When? I've been praying, and keeping my eyes wide open.

Yesterday my best friend described taking her daughter shopping for gifts to fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, a project that sends shoe boxes of gifts to children who may never have received a gift before. The gifts are given and the truth about Christ's priceless gift to all of us is explained to them.

I'd love to help someone face to face, but this was a start. I explained to Green Bean that we were going shopping today, and that I'd like his help picking out toys for a little boy who doesn't have any. Green Bean liked that idea. His imagination was captured by the thought of a little boy who didn't have any toys in his closet. Shopping for the toys was fun, although Green Bean's choices were not exactly thoughtful or reasonable. "Would he like a bike, Mommy?" "No, sweetheart, we can't get him a bike. Remember, the gifts have to fit inside a shoebox." But when I gave him a choice between a plush puppy and a plush moose, he helped decide on the puppy. Which Peanut Butter then hugged and snuggled for a while in the cart, making the same noises he makes when he's mauling, I mean, snuggling our new kitty, Tuttles.

I wanted to fill the box full of as many truly fun, age appropriate toys as I could without going to a million stores and spending a lot of money. In the end I was proud of the selection we managed to fit in the box, and I kind of feel like an expert on what types of toys a 2-4 year old boy would like to find waiting inside.
Green Bean asked several times this evening if the boy was coming over. We explained to him as well as we could that the boy lives far away and the box will have to travel for a long time to reach him. We showed him the video from Operation Christmas Child's website, and he watched it twice. I think it gave him an idea of what it was about.

It feels like a gift to God Himself. It's certainly not the first time I've ever done anything "for God" or given anything to someone in need. It's just that this time, it all began from a pulsing desire to do something to show God that He's everything to me. That I understand that the gift He gave us of Himself on the cross is worth my everything...any sacrifice. And I feel like my life is terribly self-absorbed and self-serving. And I want to change. He calls me to change. To fail to do so, to fail to reach out and offer food to the hungry and comfort to the sick and lonely, is to call into question whether I've even heard His call at all.

This is a small step of faith. Because our Christmas gift money is carefully budgeted. Because all of our money is fully accounted for. I feel like we have so much, but it all has places to go already. I resist unplanned for giving because it doesn't fit, it isn't planned. But this time, I'll sacrifice something I wanted, or we'll scrape it from somewhere, because my priorities aren't in line with God's just yet, and they need to change.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I need some bread

"I should make some bread," I told myself several times yesterday. This morning, again, I planned it into my day. At some point I should make some bread, since I didn't buy any when I was shopping, and I'd love to make french toast for breakfast. Hours passed, windows were washed and screens taken down, sick toddler cuddled and snuggled, preschool boy guided through "writing exercises" he begged to do, vacuum cleaner was repaired, supper thoughts began to percolate. Pizza. We hadn't made pizza in weeks. I opened the breadmaker to begin the pizza dough, and was greeted by a still, cold loaf of bread sulking in the breakmaker bowl. Shocked, I foggily recalled following through with my "I should make some bread" prompts several days ago, to go along with the homemade chicken noodle soup I made for supper. Only I was gone for the evening when it finished, and My Hero must've just left it, not knowing exactly what it was for.

It's french toast for breakfast tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

a wedding

Settling into routine after two long trips away, back to back, two older brothers married, two brand new sisters in law, I'm full of happiness and contentment about the two celebrations, and grateful to be home with two months of not travelling in a car with two small boys stretching calmly before me.

The first was My Hero's older brother, the second my own older brother marrying his high school sweetheart. They'd lived separate lives for about ten years, then reconnected this summer.

In a way, I feel like he's returned from a long trip abroad. Synonymous with the return to his high school sweetheart was a return to the faith, a humbleness, a spoken desire to live God's way. For ten years I thought he didn't care much about our family. About me, or any of us. Now he's back, and intentionally spends time with us, seeks my dad's advice, brings his sweetheart around to let us know her. It's good. I've missed him.

My younger brother, the one who was born when I was almost 15, was a groomsman, and standing in his tux he looked like a man. He's thirteen, and he's taller than I am now. It's amazing to me watching him grow up.

My younger brother by two years was also a groomsman. He's a police officer in Denver, Colorado. He's the soft, gentle, loving boy with a heart of gold who became a tough, strong, smart man capable of protecting his family, wrestling down criminals, dealing with the scum of the streets. I can't quite put into words how much I admire him.

My youngest brother, the one born when I was away, a freshman in college, is ten. He was also involved in the wedding, passing out the orders of ceremony, escorting my grandparents to their seats. He's so much like my older brother that I keep wondering how similar their paths will be. He utterly refused to participate in the wedding of my younger sister four years ago, because he knew people would tell him how cute he was, and he couldn't tolerate the thought. My mom couldn't even bribe him to do it. This wedding he was glad to have a part in.

My whole family was together this past parents and all seven of their children plus spouses. My sister and her husband from Chicago, my little sister from college in New York, my brother and sister in law from Colorado, together with those of us living in New England to celebrate the wedding of my brother who lives in Connecticut. Who knows how long it'll be before we're all together again.

It's a mystery, isn't it, how you can grow up so intimately entwined in each others' daily lives, then grow up and move away, and only intentional effort keeps you together, keeps you close. Otherwise, you become distant memories, separate worlds.