Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Snow Keeps Falling





I clean in energetic spurts. And to the dismay of my children, I don’t like to clean alone. So this usually means an energy rush on my end, followed by a “calling all the children!” moment, and an instantaneous smashing of all whines and complaints. After a frantic thirty minutes of running here and there, I am pleased. I dismiss the minions, um, I mean kids, to whatever they were previously occupied with, and I sit a moment to rest.

Every once in a while, I get on a longer kick, where all-the-things-must-be-cleaned-at-the-same-time!

…only to turn around 15 minutes later and have dishes in the sink, new towels in the basket to be washed, and what do you know, everyone’s hungry again.

Phyllis Diller wisely said:



And then it hit me.

The snow keeps falling.

In my stage of life, there isn’t a break in the constant down-pouring of the frozen bits of water.

The snow around me falls…


  • In clothes that need to be washed.
  • In dishes that get used.
  • In stomachs that beg to be filled.
  • In weeds that fight against being pulled.
  • In dust that settles on flat surfaces.
  • In toys strewn about.
  • In brains that need to be taught.
  • In disputes that must be settled.
  • In boo-boos that ask to be kissed.
  • In imaginations that long to be heard.


The snow keeps falling. Cold and relentless.

Twenty minutes ago, in the midst of a blizzard in the kitchen, I escaped to my room to reflect. My mind was a whirl of thoughts and I couldn’t get them straight. I literally just locked my door, turned on an instrumental Christmas Pandora station, and began browsing our family photos of winters past.

Building Snowmen. Sledding Fast. Making Angels.



I smile. I breath.

I remember the peacefulness that can hug me on those rare 35 degree days with some flurries and a sun that shines brightly in the white sky. For some reason, thinking of it this way seems to settle my soul. The flakes aren’t all bad. Sometimes, they feel more like white powdery pieces of heaven, sent by my loving God.

In my thankfulness, I begin appreciating the other flakes that fall, side by side with the rest.


  • The arms that reach up to be hugged.
  • The smiles that brighten the dinner table.
  • The hands that eagerly help with meals.
  • The legs that run in circles.
  • The snuggles by a fire.
  • The intelligence that’s learning to read.
  • The fingers trying to braid my hair.
  • The competition of a game well-played.
  • The companionship while walking our dog.
  • The tears of friendship that are shared.
  • The joys.
  • The laughter.
  • The thrills.


I embrace it all.

One day, when they’re grown, there will be quiet days when the snow doesn’t fall. And I know I’ll miss the cool, individual flakes that line my lashes. The special ones that land on my heart. And the overall joy of a snow fall that brightens my day and makes my life sparkle.

So fall on, snow. And I will raise my head, spread my arms, and enjoy it for all that it is.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Waiting to Dive



I’m standing on this diving board, Lord, ready to jump in when you blow the whistle. I’ve got my suit on. There are sparkles from the sun dancing along the surface of the clear blue water. I’m just waiting for your cue.

I’m a little nervous. What if I’m not a good swimmer? But oh, I see that red tube over there on the side, and I know you’ll throw it to me if I start to sink. You’ve got this, and I’m ready when you are. Just say the word.

It’s getting a little hot out here. I’m starting to glisten – not sweat of course – just sort of shimmer with perspiration. Do you want me to jump in? Or should I take a step back and sit down on that lawn chair? I could do some journaling or read a magazine. I could even drink some iced tea and chat with a friend. So, what do you want?


 
I’ll wait here a bit longer. Wow, I can really feel the sun now. I should probably reapply the sunscreen soon. My shoulders will be a little red in the morning. And my nose. My nose always burns first.

I wiggle my toes, feeling the rough surface of the long white plank beneath my feet. My toenail polish is starting to chip. I blow a strand of hair off of my forehead and I reach up to the sky – reaching high – and trace the clouds that dance above my head. I stretch my neck from side to side, trying to loosen up. It’s sort of tiring, just standing here. 

And it’s getting a little awkward, really. I feel pretty vulnerable in my suit and all, but not getting wet.

I really don’t have to jump in, you know. You could call me off the board. I could take a quick nap in the shade. I could give up swimming altogether, get dressed, and go fishing at the lake. I think the pole is already baited in the shed. I could get a pad of paper and sketch the flowers in the garden. I could bake some cookies and bring them next door.

Ok, I guess I’ll stand here a little longer. I’ll wait on your timing. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A little reflecting

Kids were in bed. Not quiet, but in bed. My husband left to fill the car with gas. I wanted to sit in my cozy fleece sheets and scroll through Pinterest on my phone.

But I cleaned up the house. It's amazing what 30 minutes will do.

I just didn't want to start Monday behind.

I don't always make that choice. I hate having to be responsible. I think Heaven will be one big pot of creativity, and we'll get to dance in the wind, finger painting the sky.

But until then, I have to learn faithfulness.

35 years and I'm still learning.

And I get frustrated that my children haven't learned it yet.

So I also need to learn gracious patience.

My dishwasher is humming. Pandora is playing. My husband will roll back in the driveway any minute.

Goodnight everyone.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am the sunflower

After an unseasonably long winter followed by a cool summer, I'm beginning to wilt.

Bundled in a long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, and jeans, I went to the Indiana State Fair and saw this sad sight:


And I thought, that's a little like me, right now.

Summers of Indiana Past, I remember you.

Hot, 95 degree days. Humidity so thick you can drink it. Feeling the heat burn through your shirt and lighting a fire on your skin. Reading a book in the full afternoon sun while sipping iced tea.

I don't think I've ever complained about the heat. Even when our summer was so hot, our neighborhood pool felt like a hot tub, I didn't complain. I love the heat.

And without it, I'm starting to wither a little bit inside.

Shallow? Maybe.

And yet there are people rejoicing. My husband says this is the best Indiana summer EVER.

I roll my eyes.

And contemplate moving even further south.

Or buying a heat lamp.


You get the idea.

There are plants that thrive in the coolness of the summer. But like tomatoes. And roses. And that poor sunflower. I miss the heat.

Here's a haiku poem about it:

Indy in Summer
Remember 90 degrees
How I long for you

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Magic Ring: 20 Minute Free-Writing

20 Minute Free-Writing
Topic: A girls find a diamond ring on the bus

GO:



Bump. Bump. Bump. Screech. Our yellow bus began to slow near my stop.

Carefully peeling my legs off of the hot, plastic bench, I scooted to the aisle. Flinging my backpack over my shoulder, I stood, just as the bus made a final jerk, lunging me down to the ground. I wish I were wearing jeans, I thought, examining the small stones that had planted themselves in my knees.

Tucking my long bangs behind my ear, I went to stand up, but then I caught a glimpse of a shiny object under the seat. Bravely, I pushed through the years of dirt and took hold of a small, hard object. Brushing it off, I could tell it was a ring, but I didn’t have time to examine it.

“Are you getting off or not?” the boy behind me asked rudely. In my mind, I replied powerfully, putting him in his place. But in reality, I simply kept my tongue quiet, forced the ring into the tight front pocket of my shorts, and sauntered forward.

I was only a block from my house. I kept the ring hidden, not wanting to share my treasure with any of the kids at my stop. I passed a row of perfectly manicured homes before I saw my own – a mess of weeds and overgrown bushes. My mom always said that dandelions deserved a chance to grow, but I wasn’t so sure. I was already different. I wished our home didn’t have to be different too.

Flipping up the shabby welcome mat that had seen better days, I grabbed the key and pushed the door in with my shoulder, letting the screen door slam. Mom would hate that, but she wasn’t home to hear it.

I dumped my bag in the middle of the hallway, poured a glass of milk, and sat down at the table where the afternoon sun was magnifying its scratched surface. The ring was hard and round, with a hint of shimmer mixed with lint. I rubbed it vigorously onto my t-shirt to remove some of the grime. As the dirt was rubbed away, the ring began to glow. A smile spread across my face for the first time that day. Maybe that week.

Without hesitating, I slipped it easily onto my finger. And in that moment, everything disappeared.  

STOP


While teaching the girls creative writing this year, I'm going to be writing myself. We're using Gail Carson Levine's book Writing Magic as our inspiration, and we're taking creative liberties from there.

So far, it's been fun! I'm amazed at what the girls come up with. For this topic, A13 wrote a story around the Harry Potter series, and K11 started a mystery.

As Levine advises, "The way to becoming a better writer is to write more."


Friday, May 23, 2014

I wish I were different

I've been thinking about what I would change if I could snap my fingers and *poof* I'd be different. Not physically like my nose or my arm hair. Or the big things, like "never sin again," but just the other stuff. (Not a deep post here, folks.) This is one of the things:

I wish I woke up happy. 

I'd love to be able to wake up with a smile, greeting the world with a thankful "hello," excited to be blessed with a new day. My reality is a groan. I usually hear Lee's alarm first. And then I fall back into a dream-filled restless sleep until my alarm goes off. I grumble, hit the snooze button, you get the picture. (I'm always able to lie to myself that I'll pray during my seven minute snooze, and I can't believe I still fall for it.)

I wish this weren't the case, but I don't know how to change it.


And just for fun, here's a picture of my alarm clock I've had since 3rd grade. We've tried other clocks now and then, but they always break. This one is old reliable. Guaranteed to buzz obnoxiously just when I don't want it to.


So there you go. What comes to your mind?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to fix number reversals in 5 minutes

My 8 year old boy still reverses many numbers and letters. From experience with his sisters, I'm pretty sure that learning cursive this fall will help with the letters, but I was at a loss as to how to correct his numbers.

I drew a correct and incorrect 7. He couldn't choose the right one. The same with 5, 3, 2, 6, and 9.

After a little internet reading, we figured it out!

Hold up your right hand (the one with the pencil) and form a C.


This is the shape of the opening to the 2, 3, 5, and 7. Curve it a little and you get the 4 as well. (He caught onto this very quickly.)

For the letter d, I'd already taught him that his donut rolled off the table and hit a wall. (Get out a piece of paper, draw a donut, and expain what happened, drawing the line for the wall.)

So keeping with that wall theme, we pretended that 9 donuts ran up the wall and got stuck up there. (Using the paper, I drew nine lines going up the wall, counting them all out.)

But, the 6th donut rolled up and over to the other side of the wall. (Creating the number 6).

I explained 9 and 6 again, drawing it out again. Then he told me the stories.

I had him write his numbers twice.

He did them all correctly, with a little excited giggling from both of us.

Time will tell if this will stick, but I'm thinking our number reversal problems are fixed!

I hope this helps some of your kiddos!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

4 Book Reviews, 4 Minutes Each... Go!

I've recently read 4 books and am going to review them quickly - giving myself only 4 minutes for each book. You will appreciate this time-limit. Trust me. I could go on and on about each of them. Thankfully, I'm a super fast typer, and I'll try to fit a bunch in.

Ready? Go!

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung starts out light hearted and keeps me laughing through the whole book. He goes at it with an "I'm in this with you" attitude rather than an "I've fixed my problems" plattitude.

He says:

"It's ok to be busy at times. You can't love and serve others without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it's not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride."

My biggest take-aways:

1. He explains that many Christians seem to be walking around "with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough... so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves." Boy, I can relate.
2. I am not the Christ. I can care about AIDS and Homelessness and Orphans and etc etc but it's not my mission in life to solve every-single-crisis-that-I-read-about-on-Facebook.
3. Even Jesus didn't do all the good He could have done in the world. He didn't heal everyone. He didn't fix everything. (From our earthly perspective.)  "He was not driven by the needs of others... the approval of others... but by the Holy Spirit. He was driven by His God-given mission."
4. It's important to have margins in my life, so that when one brick topples a little, the whole tower doesn't collapse. (Meaning, someone can't find their shoes fast enough and I explode. Just saying.)
5. Being too busy is bad for our souls if we don't make time for our relationship with God.
6. Focus point: What am I uniquely gifted to do? Start there.

Whoops, lost track of time. NEXT!

Family Vocation by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and Mary J. Moerbe

This father-daughter team explains Martin Luther's drive to have all people seen as valuable in God's Kingdom by raising the family and parenting roles as critical vocations during a time when the only vocations that mattered were in the church. They indicate that most moms today would find the job of a nun in a monastery to be freeing and easy. Basically, we are all important in God's kingdom.

"Husbands and wives nurture each other. Fathers and mothers nurture their children. And God nurtures everyone through these offices."

The main emphasis was in getting your eyes off of yourself and onto God and others by sacrificing for them. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." I John 4:10-11.

They explain, "Though God doesn't need our good works, our neighbor does. Our neighbor is in need. God commands us to love and serve that neighbor."

In recap, the book encouraged me to work hard with hands as unto the Lord, with renewed eyes that every single cup of water given and every snotty nose wiped matters for His Kingdom.

Whew... Number 3.

The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy by Penelope Wilcock


It was interesting to read this immediately after the book about Martin Luther's criticism of the priesthood's elitism. In this Historical Fiction novel, we grow to love the lives of the men in the monastery under the careful eye of their Abbott Peregrine. This is a book that beautifully combines theology and relationships, and I savored every word. What a delightful story. Slow moving, but meaningful. I even underlined some passages I want to go back to and remember. Like when Peregrine argued that God's mercy was greater than His justice.

If you're looking for a delightful and endearing summer read, pick this up. It was on my booklist for our school year's study of the middle ages. I ordinarily wouldn't be drawn to a book about a bunch of men in a monestary. But I'm glad I listened to my brother's advice and read it to the end.

And finally...

7: An experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker


Jen does an experiment by limiting herself in specific ways for 7 months. Only eating 7 foods, giving up 7 forms of media. Wearing 7 items of clothing. You get the idea.

The book was so funny. I laughed out loud a lot.

The book was painful. Ouch. Like, "I don't like you now, Jen. You had me laughing, and now we're no longer BFFs."

I'm glad I'd already read Crazy Busy because otherwise Jen's book would cause my "do more" personality to add about fifty more things to my to-do list. I had to repeat to myself often while reading, "I am not the Christ." Which is strange since the goal of the book is to simplify...

I haven't fully processed the book. It's going to sit and simmer a while in my mind. I will probably never garden and I can't seem to rationalize spending more money to buy local food and I can't possibly fathom giving away 75% of our income.... but the ideas were intriguing. Basically, live simply and give more. That I like!


So there you have it. A glimpse into my book world for the last month or so.

What are you reading? If you want to borrow any of these, let me know!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hemming Jeans: Pinterest Success!

When you are vertically challenged like me, the bottoms of your jeans get frayed and tangled. I've just learned to deal with it.

But I saw a tutorial on Pinterest HERE that I thought looked doable for the girl who owns a sewing machine but doesn't know how to really use it.

Guess what: it worked!!

I hemmed a pair of my husband's too!

I got "sew" excited, and my machine was already out, that I tried another of her tutorials: How to Make Skinny Jeans.

I had a pair of black capris bound for Goodwill that always looked like they were dress pants I'd shrunk. I figured I'd give it a try.


Her blog is pretty amazing. Check out her other tutorials. I just might end up making a bag out of a sweater or something like that. (As long as I don't use anyone's good sweater, of course, like the dog boots....)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homemade Self Tanner: Pinterest Fail

It's sunny outside, and as I thought about wearing some capris, I remembered a homemade recipe for a self-tanner I'd pinned on Pinterest. I thought I'd give it a try!

It sounded simple:

2tbs cocoa powder (depending in how tan you want to be.)
 + 
Any moisturizer
 + 
an empty bottle 
mix it all together. Good for super light girls.

Here was the original photo:


Wow! I had to try it. So I gathered my supplies, mixed it up, spread it on...

 

And I was a chocolatey, sticky mess.

There was no tan. There was just stupidity.

Ok, so that was a fail. Please, don't try this at home, unless you feel like wasting a few good ingredients.

So... in light of the sunshine and "fair maiden" syndrome we have after 6 months indoors in Indiana, do you have any good self-tanner suggestions?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Open the Flood Gates. A Book Review


I felt bad for crying at my grandma's funeral. Like I had failed as a Christian in some way. Why is that? Cheryl Cecil's book, Open the Flood Gates: Welcoming Grief into Our Seasons of Loss, explores this question.

The grieving process is a unique experience. No two situations are alike. She wrote this book to help both those who are in the midst of grief, as well as friends and family, understand that there is indeed a time to mourn. It's full of Biblical truth and practical examples you can begin to apply right away. I highly recommend it!

You can see more here:Open the Floodgates.

Amazon

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coconut Oil Face Wash and Moisturizer: Pinterest Success!

Last summer, I set out on a journey to find the best natural facewash and moisturizer. My tween daughters needed to add this to their daily routine, and I didn't want to load them on chemicals if I didn't have to. Enter the scene: Coconut Oil.




I ended up making Coconut Oil Facewash for all of us, and we love it! I made another batch last week for a friend.

I can't tell you how much I've loved using this combination for my facewash and moisturizer. I followed most of the instructions here: Camp Wander.

Basically, you add coconut oil, olive oil, and an essential oil (I use Lavender) for the face wash, and then use plain coconut oil for the moisturizer. (I buy mine at Costco).


Here are daily instructions:
  1. Spread cleanser evenly over your face. You may use it as eye makeup remover too. 
  2. Wet a cloth with hot water and hold it against your face. Rinse and do it again. You are steaming your skin and opening your pores. 
  3. Then use the cloth to wipe off the oil. 
  4. Use a smaller amount of the moisturizer and pat it lightly on your face. (This winter was so dry, I put it on thick!) You can use the moisturizer on your whole body if you like. The oil absorbs quickly into your skin.
Notes:
  • Sometimes before I take a shower, I'll put the cleanser on my face and wipe it off while I'm in there.
  • I just used lavender in the cleanser to keep it gentle. You can add melrose or tea tree oil if you feel like you need extra blemish control. 
  • Also, coconut oil hardens above 76 degrees. So just put it on your finger tips, rub them together, and it melts.

The blogger I followed says:

"If you're prone to break outs, coconut oil is great.  It will open up the pores and release built up toxins that have accumulated from various skin products, dirt, trapped oil etc. There is a possibility that during the detox period you could suffer a breakout resulting from the toxins being pushed up to the surface but it will subside once the pores are cleansed.  Believe it or not, this protocol is excellent for the acne prone."


You can read more about the potential benefits of Coconut Oil HERE.


What should be next on my list of Pinterest Challenges? Check out my boards and let me know:
Becky Emerick, Pinterest.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dinosaur Toothbrush Holder: Pinterest SUCCESS

For my little man's birthday, I made him a dinosaur toothbrush holder. I attacked this dinosaur with a drill and a bit, and though the battle was intense, I conquered.

I think I used that power tool in a way it was never intended to be used, but the toothbrushes fit, and everyone is happy. And isn't it soooo fun?

Pinterest: SUCCESS!

Travel LEGO Box: Pinterest Success!

Next on my Pinterest mission was to make a travel LEGO box for my little man's birthday. I got the idea from HERE.

I used a diaper wipe container. It had an oval "pop out" area in the center, so it wasn't flat, but I cut that out with an exacto knife and then put the green plates on both the inside and the outside with hot glue. The plates cut easily with a sharp pair of scissors.

He loves it! His big brother is asking for one now. :)



Monday, March 3, 2014

Popsicle Stick Chore Chart: Pinterest SUCCESS

I tried yet another Pinterest item today in my quest to actually do the things I've pinned. (I also did one of the exercise plans, but I don't think I can count it as done until I've done it for at least, well, a week or so.)

I got the original idea from here: Chore Chart.

Basically, on one side is a chore or school task, and the other side has a color. Once they get the task finished, they flip the stick. My boys took out a bag of foamies and added some little people to the sticks too.


For my 4 year old, he also has 4 "15 Minutes of Computer Time" sticks that he can trade in after he's finished the other sticks. Basically, these are a way to keep me accountable, because when teaching the other kids, it's so much easier to just have him on a computer game than doing something more worthwhile. So this keeps both of us accountable!

We made them and used them today, and so far so good. The boys seem into it, so maybe it will last. And, I don't have to say, "Have you cleaned your room?" I can say, "Have you done all of your popsicle sticks?" I think it sounds less naggy. At least for now. :)




What fun ways have you found to keep up with chores and tasks?

PS - I didn't realize that I didn't know how to spell "popsicle" until I tried typing it multiple times.