A purple miracle

The eldest child is in 2nd grade. She reads crazy fast. She writes that way too. It’s messy. She is a loyal and brave and funny person. This makes her a great friend but It also means that her report cards and daily behavior chart at school typically mention the need to slow down and not talk to her neighbors. Mine said the same thing in 2nd grade.

The class management program at her school is a clip chart. Kids start out every morning at green. They clip up or down based on their behavior. The warm side of the rainbow is not good. Yellow. Orange. And then the dreaded parent contact red. The cool side of the rainbow is good. Clip up to blue. Pink and the oh so good kid purple… Role model. People like my daughter and I hang out at green a lot. Sometimes visit yellow. When we really strive we hit blue or pink. Purple not so much. Way too many ways to wiggle and giggle to get up to purple.

I seriously still get in trouble. A friend loves to tell about the time I got scolded at by a in home scrapbooking party lady. I still bought the obligatory friend is having a party item. This is one of the main reasons I like being self employed. No behavior clip charts.

So Thursday the 2nd grader had a rough day. Spent most of the day in the scary Orange clip area. She said she was so relieved when at the last minute she clipped up and was able to report only a yellow. Whew!

Our morning conversation on Friday went like this.

So is today going to be a good day?

Yup. But Mom….purple is impossible. I never have made purple.

Ah yes but don’t forget nothing is impossible with God!

Okay I’ll pray! God help me make purple!

And I thought….well it would take a miracle.

I always tremble a bit when I tell kids to pray. I understand that sometimes God answers yes. But I worry about fragile faith when God answers no or wait. I really shouldn’t worry. God is the one who told us to have faith like a child.

Check out the 2nd graders clip report for Friday.

We cheered!! God is so good. Purple miracle.

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Nigh and Naught

Mornings at our house have a pattern.   On good days, when I don’t hit the snooze button, the pattern includes time to think.  Snooze button days not so much.   Part of my morning includes standing in the bathroom holding my daughter’s towel and waiting for her to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.   I help her get dressed, we talk about the day and I brush her hair into its familiar double ponytail.  There won’t be very many more years that she’ll let me do this so I treasure the time.    Many days while I hold her towel, I read her daily Bible verse while I stand there and wait.      Today’s verse gave me pause.

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In my coffee deprived mind the words rattled around and came up with this meaning  “God is naught.  No where.  Hard to find”.     I shook my head, hugged my kiddo’s bright orange towel closer and looked again.     Nigh.   I had associated Nigh with No, Night, Never, Nope, Nada.    Nigh does not mean Naught.   Whew.

Strange that nigh and naught are so different.   In the midst of a trial I sometimes feel like they are the same.  But feelings are not truth.  Reality starts with clear definitions.  Nigh is near and God is good.  All the time.     When I start with proper definitions I see clearly.

Last night we took our kids to the school playground around the corner.   The big sister rode her bike and ran and jumped and generally caused a ruckus.    The little sister went down the slide all by herself.  She grinned like she was big stuff.     We put the little sister back in the stroller and went for a walk on the track.     Little sister became concerned.   Asked for “sister?”.   She became worried.   Yelled for “sister!”.     She didn’t know that the one she was calling for was close by – circling, coming up fast and wouldn’t dream of leaving her.     When the bicycle went zooming past the baby settled back in for a content ride.

the girls

And that’s what I reminded myself this morning.   When I am broken-hearted and worried I don’t need to panic.    I can call out His name because He is Nigh.  Next to.   Near.

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Welling Up

This is a busy crazy week.   Let me rephrase.   This is one busy crazy life.    I’ve developed a fairly stable system to handle this.   It involves a lot of lists.  I have a joint digital calendar and digital list with my spouse, a hard copy calendar and scheduled review session with my business partner/mother.  I have bits of random lists on my phone and by my bedside.  I have lists that track how many glasses of water I drink and if I made my bed.  I don’t always accomplish everything on my lists and most of the time I have lots of loose ends.   But it generally works. However lately there is one area of my life I’m not controlling all that well.    Tears.   I’ve had a lot of tears.

Before you worry about me and send me off to counseling (been there…done that) know that we’re doing fine.   It’s more that this stuffing all the joy we can handle into our lives has put us very close to people.  People who sometimes hurt.  People who frequently overcome. Plus I have two daughters and a husband.

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That would do it all by itself.   I’m blessed and I hurt.   And so I cry.

The resident chef and I are about to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and I still adore the guy.   Last night I spent hours of time trying to impress him with a new casserole involving peppers and cheese.  It was okay.  Kinda boring and certainly not worth the work. I really should leave the cooking to him.    For St. Patrick’s tonight he’s making the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage but just for fun he made Irish Brown Bread and Creamy Vegetable soup that are EXACTLY likes the ones we had when we were in Ireland for our tenth anniversary.  I can’t wait! When  I watch the video he made of that trip and I think about the past fifteen years and boom – tears.

One of my dearest friends had some heart ache in the last couple of years.  (Haven’t we all?)  I’ve cheered them on.  They make me proud.   I love watching how God is revealed in their conduct and character.  She sent me this photo from her recent doctor appointment.

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    Tears.  Lots of tears.

Our church is in the midst of a remodel.   Couple of weeks ago a wall was torn open and this was found.   A message written there years ago by a family friend who lost a terrible fight with cancer.    Psalm 46:1  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ”    I love that this message was placed right where it would be seen again and would testify to us all about the goodness of God and how He carried her through her battle.

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  Big tears.

My youngest is almost two and she pats when she gives hugs.  God knew at this stage in my life I’d want hugs and so He sent this sweet loving little miss.    The chef and she Facetimed me earlier today and showed me her new grin.

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Tears.   Smiling grinning sloppy tears.

My oldest will be eight in two weeks.   She’s a fierce, loyal, brave and independent kid.  Huge heart.  Last six months she’s proved it through some personal battles.  Most recently, she just raised the most money in her school for the American Heart Association.  Every time someone agreed to donate to her I smiled and felt the tears threatening.    A close friend emailed her with her donation and told her that she could see what kind of person she’d grow up to be…a person like Jesus.   My little fighter said “oh mom. my tears are welling up “.   And that’s where I’ve been living lately.   Tears welling up.

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The things that make me cry are varied and frequent.   My daughters sitting at my grandma’s piano. Holding my nephew.   Kneeling and looking into the huge big eyes of my niece.   My daffodils.   A really good joke.   Every song in Bow The Knee.    (It’s this weekend….go see it!)    Friends who take over when I can’t handle things.   My mother.   Sunshine.   A great book.     As it turns out,  even the painful tears are good.   Doesn’t make them not painful.   But painful isn’t always bad.

So I thought I’d better tell you all.  The true list that holds my crazy world together is all of you.  People who bless me.  People who take my loose ends and tie them together.    It’s a list from God that prove He is good.    All the time.    My list of gratitude to God.   And its all of you.

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Horses, Horses, Horses Revised

Three years ago I wrote a blog called Horses, Horses, Horses.    Its an odd thing to read a blog I wrote with which I no longer agree.   I spent fifteen years remembering my scary fall.   I spent thirteen years ignoring my husband when he talked about how much he wanted our daughters to ride horses.  He always wins.  He’s way more tenacious than I am.  Therefore, I have spent the last two years praying like crazy that my daughter would not fall off as we sent her to horse camp.

Somewhere along the line I decided that I didn’t need to live with a fear that I could probably overcome.     I don’t want to be the kind of mom that sits on the sideline.  I want to be the kind of mom that gets in there and plays and learns and grows and fights.    So I signed my daughter and I up for lessons.

The first week I was absolutely terrified.    However seven weeks of watching the courage of my daughter and listening to our crazy patient teacher I’m doing better.    My horse, Chaktah and I have come to a level of understanding.    I know how to groom and tack and do their feet.   I can tie a 4H knot.   Last night we loped.   (For those of you with an elementary horse knowledge like myself loping is to Western riding what Cantering is to English riding.  Its fast.  It’s a little scary.  It’s a lot of fun).    I’m still clumsy and have to be continually reminded to watch my posture.   But over the last seven weeks my inner dialogue has switched from “Don’t fall off,  Don’t fall off.”  to “Shoulder’s back, Heels down.”   This is progress.

Really I wanted to write this updated blog solely to show you this photo.    I didn’t actually know that I loved horses until I saw this photo.

chaktah and mindy

Sometimes it is fun to be wrong.  Turns out I love the sound and feel of the leather saddle.  I love the smell of the barn.  I love the curry brush.  I love watching my daughter ride.  I love that my baby smiled watching us.   I love that my husband told me last night to go buy a pair of cowboy boots.   I love this sweet giant horse.   He reminds me of a preschooler.  So a revision was due.

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Crying over Fruit.

 

Last weekend I drove to the beach with my little sister.   She’s having a baby in December.   We talked about labor and delivery and nursing and new moms and new dads.   We talked about my daughters.   We covered conferences, horse camp, mean girls and Christmas programs.    When we got to the beach we joined over sixty women from our church in a ladies retreat.    The topic was the Fruit of the Spirit.

If you grew up going to Sunday School you know that The Fruit of the Spirit is a common topic for kids.   We spent time as children coloring grapes and oranges and bananas and labeling them with the nine character qualities listed in Galatians 4:22 – 23.   We never colored in Apples.  Apples have a bad rap in pop culture – they are always associated with the forbidden fruit that started the whole mess of sin and disease and death.    Honestly though, I doubt it was an apple.   They are too good for you.    Also the climate in the middle east isn’t great for apples.   Although our apples in Rwanda are doing amazing…  But I digress.

All sixty women spent three days eating, talking, playing games, telling stories and learning.   We heard speakers elaborate on each of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit.   For the record they are;  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   I cried.  Several times.       

I cried when I listened to my dear friend Nicole talk about her husband’s fight with cancer and the Joy that only God gives.   (You can read her blog at http://shougmama.wordpress.com/).     I listened in hushed awe as Jacquee told us how her Grandfather exemplified Peace during his last days.    Susan’s recovery from a stroke God used to grow in her Patience.   I felt convicted and cried with Linda as she walked us through Kindness and Self Control.  I cried my way through Faithfulness and stories of my grandmother.  I hate crying in front of crowds.  I really must start talking in public about things I don’t care about!  Or take more Kleenex.   I watched and cried as Jennifer portrayed what it looks like to submit with Gentleness.   Karen explained goodness and guess what- I cried. Sunday morning Barb explained how Love is the embodiment of all the attributes.  I sat with a loved one and we cried.   

I always come home from ladies’ retreat tired, emotionally stretched and ready to makes some changes.   This time I came back with some friends who promise to hold me accountable.   I ran this week once.   I read my Bible.  I practiced piano with my daughter and I didn’t snap her head off.   I did snap and bicker with my spouse.   I overslept.   I worried.  I failed.   But I learned something at retreat.     The Fruit of the Spirit isn’t about what I do or not to do.  It’s about allowing what God already did affect my heart.   Out of that grows fruit.   And tears.

My sister and I drove home together from retreat.  We talked about the lessons of the fruit.   We talked about this new baby that is coming in December.  I want to learn the lessons at retreat so he sees consistency in his aunt with what she teaches him in Sunday School.    What did you learn?

 

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The value of rings

Yesterday the rainy weather held off long enough for us to get in a few outdoor projects.  My husband winterized the pool.   I dug up the dead green bean plants, the wilty lemon cucumber plants and mountains of weeds that had taken residence all around our yard.   I filled our composter.  I filled our yard debris can.   I gloried in the clean and trim flower beds.     I went inside.  I washed my hands.   I had a panic attack.     One of my rings was not on my finger.   It was dark outside and my ring was somewhere out in the yard.  Or in the composter.  Or in the yard debris can.

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This ring is 42 years old.   My father bought it in New Mexico as a gift for my mother on their 1st anniversary.   My mother wore it for years.   I remember what her hand looked like with this ring.  About ten years ago she gave it to me.  My hand looks the same.  I wear it because I love my parents, and long marriages, and my husband, and my daughters.   I wear it because people ask about it all the time and I love to tell a good love story.   I always said that someday, I’d pass the ring on to one of my girls.   Now its out in the mud somewhere.

Last night I called my mom and I told her I lost her ring.   She said “Oh honey, I’m so glad it wasn’t your wedding ring.   I have another ring you can have.   Don’t worry.  It’s just a ring”.    The fact that she is so gracious makes me want to find it more.    I know this band of silver and turquoise is just a thing.  But it does happen to be one of my favorite things.   Lesson from my mama though is simple.    People matter.   Things don’t.

I spent an hour today in the rain wandering around my yard.   I dug through the compost bin.  (Ewwww).   I emptied and sorted through the yard debris bin.  (Twice).   I got wet.  and muddy.   and a tad sad.    So I gave up.   I grabbed a few green tomatoes off my plants and went and found my eldest daughter.     She’s always up for cooking something.   Frequently she saves me from great disaster.  The resident chef is training her well.

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This time though I had a plan.   I followed a recipe and I didn’t try to substitute any ingredients.   We chopped and dipped and chatted and took pictures.    She liked how messy our fingers were.

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I liked the smell of the egg and corn meal frying.   She liked the little tomatoes.   I like the taste of the biggest circles.     Fried Green Tomatoes are some pretty amazing rings.   The first time I had Fried Green Tomatoes I was in Atlanta, Georgia.  Great little cafe.   Good ribs.  Good tomatoes.     The second time I had Fried Green Tomatoes was at book club.   Enough said. Anything at book club is divine.

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These turned out nicely.   Crispy on the outside, tart and juicy on the inside.    My daughter and I plan on making them every year.   My baby will be old enough to help next year.    I love how food entertwines us and circles the year.

I’m not giving up on my mama’s ring.   A friend promises to bring his metal detector over and he’s going to comb through my grass.   I hope we find it.   If not, its okay.    I have lots of rings.    My life is circled by love.

 

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Big Harvest from Little Garden

I quit blogging sometime last spring.   If I’m honest, I quit blogging about two years ago. About the same time I got pregnant.  I tried again sometime after my darling baby arrived but it fizzled again.     I’d gone so far down the I quit blogging road that I quit even thinking about blogging, I quit seeing stories unfold in life and I even quit feeling guilty that I quit blogging.

IMG_1017Last spring my husband bought me a couple of raised garden beds.  I had a vague idea that watching things grow was good for kids and good for the soul.   Somewhere in the back of my mind I wanted to have nice organic pesticide and preservative free vegetables to feed my children.   I ordered in really good dirt.    The fact that I thought it looked like crushed up Oreo cookies shows that in reality I didn’t care about fake food.

I spent the summer taking photos of my piles of green beans, my lemon cucumbers, and lovely amazing tomatoes.   Pitiful strawberries (They really didn’t do well. I think I let them grow too many daughter plants.  I just couldn’t rip the daughters out and throw them away.   I  have a thing for daughters.  I need to rename the off shoots something else.  Maybe space sucking monsters.)   The chef at my house spent the summer looking up recipes to attack the piles of food I kept bringing into his kitchen.    IMG_1295 Tonight’s harvest was large.  The chef researched recipes and  tonight we’re having cherry tomato, onion and basil sauce.  All from the garden.  Go Oreo Dirt!

I also spent the summer enjoying summer.  We went to the fair and ate cotton candy.  We went camping and ate everything in sight.  We celebrated with a cancer free friend and ate sausages and pie.  We had a fabulous birthday party and ate homemade tamales’ and margaritas.  Celebrated our youngest’s first birthday and ate piles of Hawaiian food.  Repainted the decks and ate junk food.  I helped run a charity golf tournament, raised a ton of money and ate whatever my dear friends put in from of me.    I walked to the beach as part of the Portland to Coast relay, got massive blisters and ate  hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter and carrots.

IMG_1297We were busy all summer. Lots of great memories.  I have a confession though.  I also sadly spent the summer playing too much on my phone.   Really who cares what level of Candy Crush I achieve or what some random person I knew twenty years ago did over the weekend?    This morning lying in bed I deleted a couple of apps from my phone.   Shocker, this afternoon I started thinking about blogging.   And smiling at my kids.  And smelling my tomatoes.  My husband is a smarty pants.  I should listen to him more often.   You can tell him I said that.

So I make no promises.   I have no clue if this note is the start of a trend.   I hope so.  Wanna join me?  Delete something off your phone.   See what happens.   You may be surprised by the harvest.

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