Slices Abroad: getting past my own pie

Lulu-Tree-Prayer-Page

What ever you did to the least  you did it to me.

Whatever you did not do to the least- you did not do to me.

Book of Matthew.Chapter 25.Words of Christ.

I’m part of the prayer team for this Uganda-based mother sponsor organization

founded by Emily Wierenga.   {please click to read more}

 

 

 

  I also serve as a “Rahab Rebel” in The Potter’s Hands Foundation that seeks to rescue girls from sex trafficking in upstate New York…please click to read more

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   {Because my little world

is not the whole world}.

Keep Reading…

 

Unexpected soft spots of color

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Unexpected soft spots of color.

This sentence sums up how I decorate.

My garden and my home.

But I am not really going to talk about decorating because Martha Stewart and Pintrest have got that pretty well covered don’t you think?

Every gardener knows that the majority of plant life is green.

Green is good.

Green is life.

But green on green on green is not so beautiful, especially once the dazzling show of yellow, pink, purple Spring buds and flowers has faded gently away.

It takes years for a gardener to figure out the rhythm of plant life cycles and then how to plan, select, plant, and nurture bulbs, perennials, annuls, herbs, and produce accordingly. And if you are an upstate New Yorker like me, you have less than 20 weeks a year to unfold it all.

I have yet to perfectly master it all {lack of funds and time being the main culprit} but have found that a handful of unexpected pretty objects, well weathered, quirky, pleasing in shape and color, break up my tangled jungle that is a blur of green on green on green.

Every housewife knows that Country Living or Real Simple magazine spreads are about as realistic an ideal as calling Batman in an emergency.

It would be nice, but c’mon!

I stopped reading magazines altogether, even in the dentist waiting room, because it makes me so annoyed. That’s right: I would rather read up on the signs of early mouth cancer!

However, once I chucked out unrealistic ideals I was still left with the conundrum that my house is always going to be slightly messy, with minor but un-going structural damage, yet I still need some order and some beauty without being a psycho about it.

There are a few square feet in our 2000 square feet home that I keep sparse:

Unexpected Soft Spots Of Color.

Pretty things, creative things, good things against the easy backdrop of natural wood that fills our home

It keeps the blur of:

crumbs

papers

books

clothes

licked cleaned chocolate pudding lids

& cat hair

that swim about in rest of the house in a temporary background, at least psychologically.

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Right now you may be thinking:

Wow! You are pretty smart.

You, young lady, have certainly gotten it all figured out.

Or maybe you are thinking:

Hey! I thought you said you were not going to talk about decorating.

Don’t I recall some cynical comment or two about Martha Stewart and Pintrest?

The thing is: in my quest for decorating and gardening equilibrium, that maybe I do have a good handle on-

I still struggle every single day to find inner peace in my life.

And really who cares about pretty gardens and cute window seats if the people who planted the gardens and live in the homes can’t handle what life throws at them?

It reminds me a lot of taking care of the outer man to the detriment of the inner.

All this outer is fading away, like the wild flowers, but our souls we will carry for eternity. Not only our own, but everyone we interact with.

Everyone in our home.

And don’t we all know too well that the condition of our inner man effects those we live with and love the most.

Taking photos this morning in my garden, with all that lovely green sparkling in shiny drops from last nights storm in early morning light, I was thinking about just this.

Does gardening and photography really matter in the light of panic attacks and anger?

Jesus often told parables using agriculture metaphors, as did the prophets.

The outer form can’t help but reflect what is going on in the inner.

Which makes sense because the one who created the soul for eternity also created the daisies that grow for a few days in the ditch alongside the road.

So while trying to catch the light that is filtering between my over grown forsythia and falling on a single delicate strand of spider web that survived last night storm I realized how peaceful and content I am at this moment.

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I know well, that if my life is a simple blur of work- I become a blur of choking emotions.

I forget though.

Then I resolutely go about getting those carved out soft spots of creativity to color my life.

That have nothing to do with making money.

Nothing that will factor into my formula to do and accomplish.

Nothing that most people get or care about it.

Let’s not get whimsical here.

It’s work.

Beating back the black hungry vultures of questions and accusations that whisper:

“this is a waste of time”

“you should be…”

I think about my husband at work.

My children at school.

Other mothers at work.

And I feel like an out of touch, entitled, lazy, teenager bumming away their Summer vacation.

Always, always, I am a woman torn.

I debated taking the additional time it takes to load these photos on the PC. And then the extra, extra time to blog about it. Not even having a clear picture what it is! For a minute scratch of space of the internet next to no one reads. {Just being honest}.

I fought through it.

I remembered again:

the outer form can’t help but reflect what is going on in the inner.

My real need is not photography or blogging or gardening or decorations in small spaces.

My real need is peace.

Just like everyone else on the planet.

It is what every religion promises to give because it is what everyone craves every single day.

Small surprising creative spaces in my life give way to unexpected peace.

It has to stay small though, or it disappoints, then curdles into something nasty.

I know too well from my twenties, that if I make my life all about finding Me Moments I become that spoiled toddler who throws tantrums precisely because she gets what she wants, how she wants, when she wants, much too often.

My husband, my children, the watching world, are not in need of a creative wife, mother, neighbor.

My husband, my children, the watching world, are not in need of a perfect performing achieving wife, mother, neighbor.

No.

What these people in my life, and those is your own, need is:

to be singularly drawn, and slightly mystified at how lightly we take the heavy things of this world because we have peace, and that allows us to love others well.

I believe that is what kept drawing people to Jesus, after the shock and awe of the miracles wore off.

Because He being the Prince of Peace for mankind is the greatest miracle of all.

What a horrible shame if I, who may talk about Jesus and strive to live like Him, carry none of His Peace.

Unlike outer morality, and learned inner theology, there is no formula or lists to check off for peace.

And so I flounder.

Until…

He shows me, in a small quiet surprising way how to simply be.

Season by season.

Moment by moment.

I often picture it like that favorite teacher everyone has from elementary school who would stop, put an gentle arm around, whisper what’s wrong?, then take that extra time to help you, when you were sitting in your chair, close to tears so frustrated and embarrassed that you could not get it; and no one else in the classroom even knew.

It is always a restful surprise and all it takes are “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”.

May you find your personal peace today that will invite others to sit along too.

Cheers.

DSCN0760P.S.

Like most of my rambling posts it was drawn from another blog post that I read and have been chewing on for a few days.

If anything here resonates in your inner man, go over here to Tresta’s space. I also recommend the book she mentions, C.S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory.

Post Cheers.

BLUE_five minute friday

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All our eyes are blue.

At one point all of the hair on our respective little heads were blond- pure pale blond- that Clairol can never quite duplicate.

Now a days he and I have much darker hair, just about brunette.

The oldest and youngest girls have retained that California blond.

The two middlers- daughter two and three- have a golden ash hue hovering in between, that fluctuates with the seasons it seems.

Some have Dad’s ear and gift for music.

Some share my way at looking at the world and a need to slip away.

Some are exuberant in their feelings and thoughts.

Some have an old soul.

We are all sarcastic.

Genetically, the blue eyes were stamped upon them as their tiny, tiny bodies were being knitted in pools of life giving blood, hidden from the human eye.

Children are interesting creatures of study.

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As every parent knows, despite raising them in the same environment, they each develop in completely different and unique ways.

Their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, talents, and way of looking at the world, vary is subtle complex shades, like the shades of our ash-brown hair.

New experiences really expose this:

like going to the beach this month.

How one handles a long car ride.

How one reacts to not getting enough sleep.

How one burns so much more quickly than the other.

How one can stay in the 50 degree Atlantic ocean for longer than should be humanly possible.

But we all have blue eyes.

A predetermined stamp in our DNA.

This is comforting.

It reminds me of the great truth that all of humanity has stamped upon themselves- all seven billion plus- the image of God.

Abba.

Like father like son.

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Human experience and millenniums ripples over and we wonder that we can really be the same species.

But somewhere, like a long ago deeply buried cord, there is a commonality.

That cord is tethered to heaven.

It has imputed upon it a single bond that simply IS.

Made in His Image.

The divine that goes deeper than DNA.

Blue eyes or not.

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Stop.

Life has been busy and writing has been non-existent for me for nearly a month.

Thankful for a quiet open Friday morning enabling me to link up with Kate at Five Minute Friday again.

Join in or simply peruse some good, straight from the gut, writing.

Cheers.

DOOR_five minute friday

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Every morning for the last two weeks when my feet hit the living room floor, by eyes lift up and search out the front house windows.

My forsythia bush in the front corner of our front lawn sits just in eye view, and each day it gets brighter and denser.

From mellow yellow bits vibrating out of brown sticks

to

vivid yellow, plush and snagging the eye immediately.

It’s more stimulating than starbucks { and that is saying something}.

Like an i.v. hook up of sanguine to drip into and flush through my brain.

If you think about it:

it is stange

yet

universally agreed upon

that bright colors are especially potent in their ability to stimulate positive feelings and hope.

My forsythia bush, for the last 14 years we have lived in this house, is my sign post:

ITS OVER.

Ta-Da!

It makes me happy, and I forget how everything in my life is so freakin annoying!

I don’t know a single woman who does not have the persistent itch of something they need to get through right now, and then it will be better.

Its okay.

We are programmed to look forward to Spring.

If only the sign post of:

“hey over here, this is the way” was as so obvious as my forsythia.

We are taught and we believe that:

“God is in all, through all, and works all things together as good”

Any yet,

_____________________________ {fill in the blank}.

“Lord I believe, but help my unbelief”.

So I took out my camera to take a picture of my forsythia bush, because that is what bloggers do.

It’s so resplendent bright however, zooming in spot on would just create a yellow blur of zig-zag branches and pointed petals.

So I macro zoomed on a

single

tiny

insignificant

stubborn

green

shoot of life.

Growing sideways {not what it is supposed to do}

out of a

rusted

cracked

weather worn

dull colored

pot

that someone else was going to throw away, but was rescued.

The effect was magnificent.

The forsythia bush became glory in the not too far removed landscape.

I’m so restless for the next.

And to a certain point I know I will always will be.

It’s me.

And I want easy obvious picture perfect signs.

But the way to resplendent glory

{which is always summed up in:God’s perfect personal plan to redeem}

is seeing, sensing, focusing on tiny verdant life, not even going in the “right” direction, categorized by many as weeds, but in drawing no attention to itself; it points the way.

The door is sometimes a crack.

the door is a crack

Stop.

Linking up with the delightful crowd at Kate place for Five Minute Friday.

Its the first of May: May Day!

Resurrect the old British tradition of leaving flowers at someone’s door anonymously  {its even more fun to ring the bell and run}.

Kids love to do this because it feels like an obnoxious prank that mom says is okay.

Cheers.

 

new laundry {how we hide behind our labels}

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Girl number three started soccer this Spring.

For the last two years she has been asking to join a soccer league and for two years I have replied, without remorse, under no uncertain terms:

NO.

The reason I, {we} have replied “NO” under no uncertain terms are as followed:

1.   we don’t like sports leagues because of how intrusive the schedules are on family time

2.   it seems a waste of time because kicking/throwing a ball in a certain direction is not a needed life skill, does not increase knowledge, is not creative, and this  household puts a high value on those things

3.  in observing this trend in other families we slowly developed a Pharisaic approach to parenting; we drew that line in the sand and smugly stood on the other side relieved that we had figured it out, and how could the rest be so dumb

 

So, we went to the library, not the athletic fields.

Our girls were enrolled in music, art, and dance, not tee-ball, soft ball, or soccer.

And only one girl at a time, for short seasons.

And it was probably the right thing for our household.

Because I was throwing up pregnant, getting up in the middle of the night, and chasing strong willed toddlers with a baby on my hip pretty much for close to ten years straight. {Four children in seven years, nine months of sickness for every pregnancy, and stay at home mom}. The chances are very high that twice a week tee ball practice with a game every weekend for two or three of my girls, then doing it all over again for the fall sports, would of drove me completely off the deep end, that I was dangerously teetering on.

Then suddenly, the dynamics in our home began to change.

The “big girls” are a teen and tweener.

The “little ones” are in school all day, and like to hang out with each other more than me.

I do not have children attached to my body all day.

So what now?

In all the ups and downs of our family expanding and shifting through stages and Tim and I, blurry eyed, trying to stay one step ahead, one thing has remained constant:

our unshakable knowing of our need to seek God.

And He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. {Hebrews 11:6}.

What He gives is Himself, in the form of counsel and grace at every bend.

And as my children grew to not physically needing me;

i.e.; mauling me and climbing on my lap and sneaking into bed two, three, times a night, and putting my arms around them for twenty minutes for a scrap that is barely visible {beautiful, beautiful times}

He kept speaking over me, in my desperation, to finally “get a life and be a mom”, that what they really need now is my presence, they need my shepherding.

I have no idea how to do that practically.

Because that does not fit into a category, or a parenting philosophy.

And there are lots of conversation with my face in the pillow of:

“wait a second God, wasn’t that You who told me to start ministry work, and to get a part time job, and oh crap I think I am doing to have a panic attack because I just signed up for summer classes, and now I am feeling convicted and stressed about how I am parenting!”

My confident, rock solid title of: stay at home mom, parent-centered, purposeful family time household, no longer drapes neatly over my daughters, making them safe, and making me feel good about myself. Because I seem to living a contradiction of beliefs, that I was 100 percent sure were Spirit led.

I work outside the home and we do sports!

But what plays like a tape recorder over and over again is this:

They are coming into their own, and all I really care about is that when they cross the thresh hold of adult are they going to willingly follow Christ, whose way is narrow.

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Am I really following Christ, whose way is narrow?

Or am I marching into the broad box of titles that has Leah smack in the middle:

stay at home mom

evangelical

social conservative

parent-centered home.

And it’s not that I did it wrong, or that I am wrong in my beliefs. Honestly, if I had to do things over again, I would not change any of the broad strokes of my life.

But no ones gets to do it over again, do they?

We just keep moving forward. And my moving forward can not hide behind self righteous titles, even if those titles represented God’s perfect will in my life.

I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I just feel this restless pulling inside of me.

Like one bright thread of wool tugging and tugging till the whole garment comes unraveled.

I can’t stop thinking about the words of Isaiah speaking of Christ:

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. and the bruised reed he shall not break. {Isaiah 42:2,3}

And I have swallowed long enough the religion of angry loud mouth, and wounding people who believe differently than me.

And just as I have no idea how to shepherd my children with my presence but start to find a life outside of the role of mother only, I have no idea how to stand for The Truth of God’s Word which is good and kind and life giving, and not steamroll over already hurt, and feeling-condemned people.

And so I guess this post, read by only a handful, most of the time by people I don’t even know, has become a confession to whomever may be reading:

I’m so sorry for judging the mom who puts her children in day care. God is not disappointed or mad at you.

I’m so sorry that I and the church have treated homosexuals like they are a disease to avoid, and not a human being whom God loves. I would gladly sit across the table and share a meal with you, not to debate with, but be human with.

I am so sorry that my first response is to get red in the face angry over and think of good comebacks, that are more like daggers, when people post their beliefs online of evolution and mock creationists. I should of been on my face in sorrow, then turned to prayer, that a human being thinks that they are a detached accident not a loved creation. Jesus said to rejoice when we are mocked by others for His sake. This response should of been automatic for those in my own family.

And so, this household of ours is changing. Because Tim and I are changing.

The change in us is bigger than different stages of parenting.

It is even bigger than our personal growth as believers, as people.

It is something that is stirring in the entire body of The Church universal.

The Bride of Christ getting off those dirty rags of self-righteousness and being made beautiful in Christ. New laundry, not hiding behind our stances.

Because we are part of the greatest paradox and contradiction of the ages:

Jesus: Man of Sorrows and Conquering King.

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This is being posted with the Five Minute Friday link up over at Kate’s blog.

I apologize that I did not stick to the usual format.

I was not going to link up today because all I could think about was her soccer uniform hanging up to dry and that seemed to have nothing to do with today’s word prompt of “hide”. But as  I began to write, for my own post, it came full circle, as things often do.

So there you go.

Happy Friday

&

Cheers.

 

 

white easter_#tell his story

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“Not what I expected”.

Try saying it out loud and I bet your voice dips a smidgen lower and drips a little at the end with cynicism.

We woke today, this Resurrection Sunday, this high day on the Christian calendar, to snow.

A white Easter.

The snow continued and piled and the wind picked up speed and we scrambled for knit tights to go with bright dresses for church.

Just yesterday with the temperatures high and the sun shining the girls and I did chalk drawings on our long stretch of blacktop drive way. I drew a rough sketch of a pink tulip and circled around it, in my messy handwriting, Jesus Is Forever Spring.

Hmmm. Today I am not feeling so sanguine and poetic.

This week for Spring break my husband and I went to NYC. We left a day and half early because I got sick.

And so it seems expectations are a dangerous thing.

One could argue that to play it safe, to guard and preserve yourself from further deflating harm, a wise man would just stop looking forward to things. Life is after all, not a perpetual candy shop-that’s for kiddies. Because there is, after all, something so smugly adult about putting on a good face and just making peace with a world full of disappointments.

There is something so rightly Christian about not attaching yourself and just put a stop to being happy over tangible things in this world, because it just distracts you from the eternal, the spiritual.

I know some people like that and quite frankly, the are horrible people to be around. So that can’t be it.

We had a guest speaker for service today, as we have had for the last three months with our church currently being without a Pastor. He preached on Resurrection Miracle, and my eyes kept drifting to the snow coming down sideways and piling up out the narrow slats of the sanctuary windows.

And all of a sudden, it was right there:

The Struggle.

Not so much to listen to the sermon and stop staring out the window.

Rather, to not allow present circumstances to permeate my spiritual faith.

We know the scriptures by rote.

But we react like everyone else.

But for good reason:

Our world is on a spinning axis.

Our bodies flux to hormones, enzymes, chemicals, adrenalin.

Our minds tilt to the reaction of past experiences, learned patterns, and a constant inundation of emotions, a good many, not even conscious.

And so here I am, on a white cold Easter, on the heels of get-a-way vacation that sucked, and its whispering over me what I truly need isn’t

a perfect romantic weekend,

or green buds swelling under sunny warm skies,

{though both are wonderful gifts I have enjoyed and will again}.

No, I am white-knuckled desperate for something, someone, constant and lasting.

No beginning. No end. Too big to neatly analyze and put into a tidy labeled box.

If I can believe, then recognize, then proceed in THAT-

the suckiness won’t go away, those mild irritations to the devastating news will still find its mark-

but it will not be the ultimate reality.

For a month I keep getting this image whenever I wrestle in prayer of a great river, which is also a song over us all.

It puts into context those old words “when peace like river…”

And as abstract and weird as that may seem, in those whirling moments when I am trying to put the world in some sort of order that makes sense, it allows me to relax my shoulders and exhale.

And my stance changes:

not brimming with self-confidence and knowing it all;

it makes me see clearer and be thankful.

Awareness of the unseen trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit who are good and in control,  bring into sharp focus those things and people right in front of me, who are good and I don’t need to control.

My last post was about my fractionated mind that I can’t keep neat and orderly anymore, and knowing I need Christ to heal the fissure cracks from the inside, however He may do so. Today I read in Isaiah 64 God’s message and promise to come down flowing like fire and water for those who wait. 

We don’t wait like a sour puss, bemoaning the woes, we wait dogged determined to be filled up with Gratitude. It is the only accepted stance for those who have been transformed, put right, and made whole on the inside. Even though logically and put on paper it does not make sense.

It coaxes the invisible to invade the visible.

Here are a few digital gratitudes from this white Easter weekend.

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frying fat

large quantities of caffeine

hunks in aprons

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paper hats sent home from kindergarten teachers {bless you}

the shirt says it all

chocolate bunnies mauled to oblivion in less than 24 hours

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undaunted daffodils

snow that always eventually melts

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Our tradition of hiding not a Single basket,

but Scads of candy

all over the house

on Saturday morning not Sunday.

 Cheers.

Linking up, two days after Easter (because it takes me forever to get one post completed) with writer and great encourager Jennifer Dukes Lee at #tellhisstory blog link up

BREAK_five minute friday

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I started this blog over three years ago, naming it Many Slices, because I saw my life as a divided whole; and really it was, and is.

Child of God

Wife

Mother

Switcher of loads of laundry

Homework helper

Ministry leader

Writer

Needer of community

Needer of solitude

These neat little labels I give myself:

they are stacking up

spilling over

getting complicated

I try to reshuffle them into neat laminated categories

“Wait I am an introvert, but I am called to lead…”

“Wait I am a Wife first, but I have four daughters who are much more persistent…”

ect. ect.

I find myself trying to operate out of a halved brain.

This halved brain keeps fracturing in jagged pieces.

Most days my life does not resemble neat tidy symmetrical pieces of a lovely pie.

It looks like the crumbs left on the floor after a party with everyone too freakin tired to clean up afterward.

At least on the inside.

That is what I feel.

On the outside I still look stellar.

And it is not even all the time.

It sneaks up on me at odd times and I feel a strange disconnect with everyone important in my life.

This morning, an hour before I went on the blog, I prayed:

“Jesus You said You were healing balm” { I know its in the Bible somewhere…possibly Old Testament prophetic metaphor? I don’t know but I said it anyway }.

“I need my mind healed of all these fractionated pieces I keep trying to keep in rotation…because it is not working”

I know we woman always must wear many hats.

I know part of the promise of having the power of Christ is “I can do all things”. {Philippians 4}

But I don’t know how to do it outwardly, and then maintain a wholeness of  mental peace inwardly.

I do not know how to be praying for 13 millions persecuted Christians, and little girls being sex trafficked and abortion doctors one moment, and then switch gears and help my one daughter with math, then gently but sternly direct my youngest to calm down for the 5th time before bedtime, and then finish a conversation with my husband about his day, the next moment.

Because they both matter incredibly.

But they operate in such different extreme spheres.

I get the need to have a broken spirit, or  “poor in spirit”,

Jesus says we are blessed for having one; in fact it is imperative. {Matthew 5}

But I don’t think we are called for a broken mind.

Because it is said of Jesus that: He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed. {Isaiah 53}

And so there it is:

I do what Christians have always done from the beginning, I wait in hope.

The whole point of the break, is to give room for the heal, after all.

Stop.

fill the cracksLinking up this trying-to-feel-like-spring-Friday with Kate for another installment of Five Minute Friday.

Cheers.

Creativity

DSCN0335I am going to “surprise the tuna salad”* out of my number one reader today: My husband, and do a post all about him.

*thank you Mo Williams- author of the Pigeon Books- for your awesome expression.

Nine years ago we put on an addition because our family was swelling to five, and no one wanted to buy our little, slightly out-dated, adorable, cape cod cottage. With the extra square footage, 900 plus square feet, built nearly entirely by said ” number one reader” above, I got a lovely sewing room in the deal. Complete with French doors that allowed my adoring family to look in, and me to keep them out.

Then I stopped sewing.

However, we are advocates of creativity, and while we may deny our four children things like buying their clothes at the mall, video games during the the week, and Cheez-it crackers products {they kinda hate me over that one}, we DO buy them copious amounts of craft and art supplies, and allow them to make a hideous mess with it, often.

So, the sewing room turned into “craft room”; dominated by the little people.

Which is another way of saying it was always disgusting and cluttered and the floors we meticulously restored and then checked- destroyed.

Then, the babe got older, and yet another room, the “toy room” was no longer needed.

We considered making the toy room the craft room and using the French door room as a space for the big guy. Then, as quickly as you can turn around, I decided to home school my big girls for two years.

We needed a home school room of course.

Then, they went back to school.

This little room with beautiful French doors and sad destroyed hard wood floors hosted a lot of cool stuff and creative endeavors.

However, the big guy in the house:

The only one without estrogen-fueled emotional issues, still had all his crap in our old, drafty garage.

Until now.

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{yep. that is a princess guitar you see propped in the corner..there is no escaping pink}

During our long, seemingly endless, upstate New York winter, this room has been renamed and re-purposed again as a music room.

Tax return money afforded some sound equipment and this gave way to Tim trying out his vocal cords.

He has been playing around with learning the fundamentals of the old vintage style  “tube amps”, which are the mechanical method of sound amplification, circa 1968 and earlier.

We all know that the hipsters are making old school cool again, so to buy a vintage tube amp…which means 60 years or older…cost a pretty penny.

None of our pennies are very pretty.

Our pennies are more like the ugly red-headed step-child.

So what did he do?

He sold a child {we have lots}.

No, not really.

Fully operating tube amps may be costly, but when one starts to look around, one realizes that there are modifiable ones out there, a plenty.

Think, buying old funky curtains at Salvo, to get vintage fabric (that cost about 20 bucks a yard these days at a specialty shop) for a few bucks, and them cutting out the good fabric yourself, to then make your own vintage sewing piece.

Except Tim bought two old small organs that did not work, on Craigslist.

A little homework,

A little tearing apart,

A little applied electrical know how,

And voila!

Vintage amp.

For his new creative music room.

Every single one of us-

because we are made in the image of The Creator

has a need to be creative.

The range of what “creative” is wide and varied and often leads you to surprising bunny trails.

Like picking up how to play an instrument in your 30s, that leads to another instrument, that leads to singing on the worship team at church, that leads to recording music, that leads to how to make your own vintage amp.

This process, I am convinced, is just what stressed, weary, responsible, adults, in a hurry up, rushed, modern world, need.

Needs that are not being met deflate our soul, our inner man.

Creativity, in solitude, is a human need to fill us up again.

It stills the inner, when our outer is flying in many directions, responding to other necessary needs.

But it seems odd and indulgent.

Something reserved, surely, for professionals who earn money for their time.

I am reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea.

Am so enjoying her deep insightful words describing what it is to be human.

Writing on modern whirlwind pressures (and this was published seventy years ago!) and the need for solitude I underlined the following passage:

The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets time aside for a business appointment, a trip to the hair dresser, or social engagement, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot because that is my time to be alone; one is considered rude, egotistical, and strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect, when one has to apologize for it, make excuses or hide the fact that one practices it- like a secret vice!

Solitude is needed for spiritual awareness and growth.

And there is something set apart-a scratching at something deep and profound-like connecting to God, the creator, when we create, by ourselves.

It spills over.

Tim is happier.

His brain is being engaged in a new way, which science has proven slows down the aging process.

No matter how “pointless”

how it does not “make you money”

forcing yourself to close the door and do something creative is a discipline that pays off in surprising ways.

And in an obvious, tangible, take the easy short cut, materialistic world,

don’t be surprised if a lot of people don’t get it.

sing

Cheers.

PLAN_five minute friday

cropped-p4190116.jpg

Our 15-year anniversary is this July.

We planned on going away to NYC for four days {our longest trip away from the kids yet} to celebrate.

Yet, on Wednesday we booked a snug little room on the upper, upper West Side for the last week in March, in other words in about two weeks!

Because come March, every March, I need a plan.

The lethargic sameness of winter comes to a breaking point.

Then, the clocks spring forward.

That faint dull circle, more of a yellow smear in gray clouds, begins to wax strong and its rays actually warm my upturned face, instead of just making me squint.

Like sap rising, I feel the influx of something buried and waiting begin to rise in me.

I remember how much we love Summer here in upstate NY.

We now have a pool.

The girls breed bunnies.

The vegetable and herb garden gets enlarged each May, as we ignore our shrinking square footage of grass.

We live on our deck and rarely have dinner before 7pm.

We take day trips to Ithaca, NY, home of Cornell University, and the unofficial “little Vermont” of New York, often.

I remembered that we always plan to do less {no kids activities, sports, music, horses, or every camps}.

Tim rarely works Fridays in the long months of Summer.

So we changed our plan.

Because it is very obvious:

We need that cool paradox of having the wide space of being alone in a busy cramped city of millions, together, right now.

It will only be my third visit; the second with just Tim, but there is something about New York City I adore.

When we return the calender will say April and Spring Gardening Plans can start in earnest.

A plan, nothing life changing or critical, but light and pleasurable, can make all the difference.

Sun shine
&
Pavement

sun shine timStop.

Linking up with Kate for another installment of Five Minute Friday.

Cheers.

Slices Abroad_COMPASSION

So I started this series of mine quite awhile ago.

This Slices Abroad thing.

This getting over myself

which is the crux of the Christian faith.

I have so many emotions

such an array of deep  theological ideas

packaged in such simple life

in such a simple person

I don’t know where to start,

so I find myself letting it lay.

Except it does not stay still and neat and polite, does it?

But really, ever single writer is just a teller of stories when it is all said and done.

So here is just a simple true story that illustrates something that is deeper than  any of us can really comprehend.

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It was just another cold weekend in February.

February in upstate New York.

There was nothing to do.

There was no money to entertain ourselves with retail distractions and eating out.

It was in the negatives again, so sending the children out to play was out of the question.

And I was feeling guilty.

Guilty because this past Christmas, the first Christmas I found myself working, retail, I was so stressed, so Bah Humbug, about “American Christmas.” I never got around to making the time and budgeting the money to send a Christmas letter and give an extra twenty bucks for a Christmas gift for our sponsor sons we support, something we usually do every November.

Luis in Columbia.

Kokou in Togo.

Prince in Rwanda.

Those are our sponsor sons.

And I, rich Christian American,  didn’t acknowledge them on the world wide celebration of our Savior’s birthday.

But the hope of Christmas is fully redeemed in the resurrection of Easter, right?

So, on this particular bitter, bored, broke, Saturday in February I was hoping to redeem myself with the hope of Easter wrapped up in a photo shoot with bunnies in a bucket.

bunny in a bucket

Sponsor kids love, love getting letters.

Photographs with letter are the icing on the cake.

Photos with cute bunnies and even cuter girls?

creme da la creme

basket head

I announced in true authoritative Mama fashion for the big girls to get the bunnies from their outside pens and bring them inside, and ” everyone brush your hair and take those slobby pajamas off” because I had suddenly decided to orchestrate an Easter photo shoot.

{It’s moments like these I love being a Mother. Only a Mother could so suddenly demand such varied, random, immediate actions and get results}.

Baskets were hulled down from icy attics.

Colorful quilts were laid down on cleared floors.

Marching orders set and I took pictures.

The four girls plus our ever present neighbor girl were allowed to haul out paints and brushes and the good water color paper to make Easter cards.

I wrote three letters. Pretty much identical, destined to land in Columbia, Togo, and Rwanda in about six weeks.

I always include a  scripture, not planned, but whatever seems right at the moment.

Writing a letter to children of a different nationality, of a different culture, that needs to be translated is a little bit…what is the word for it?…stifling?…if you think about it too long.

Rather complicated

time consuming

and does it really matter?

The first introduction letter is easy.

But what do you say after you the preliminaries are covered?

It’s like that awkward pause in small talk;  but continents apart.

But I have learned, as in polite unsure conversation, to dig down and continue anyway.

Because everything is not about me, and my comfort level, and my perception, in my contained perfect little slice of life.

I trust in the bigness of this world, the seven billion people who populate it, overseen by an even bigger God, expressed in the grandness of Christ on the cross then Christ leaving the tomb, and the power that came to perfect completion in the tongues of Holy Spirit fire that fell on Pentecost.

Over two years in, we still write. In starts and stutters with months and months between communicating.

I am always surprised at what words come out when the family gathers with pens, paper, crayons, envelops, Bible and postage stamps.

{No small feat for a family of six with four of its members under the age 14. Nor is it a quick crammed in to-do list requirement.}

More surprising still:

That Saturday with the bunnies, prompted with guilt, it brought genuine joy, despite the fact that, to quote my husband I “turn into Stalin” when I take family photos.

Seriously, I am not friendly…”get out of the picture now!”…”why are you making that face you look constipated”!…Tim, no one gives a crap about your hair just get in here and DON’T slouch” !

It was what our family needed.

More than white American guilt and regimented Christian good works, that Saturday afternoon, purposely altered to not go about doing what we normally do, to send three some 100- word- letters to children half way around the world, wishing Happy Easter, and trying to explain why we have a rabbit in a pastel bucket, and my militant photo shoot,  all of it, in all our human folly and lack, reminded me of the great truth:

Getting your eyes off yourself is the best way to feel better.

And when it is done in:

The Name of Christ,

Spurred by the Love of God,

Finely tuned by The Prompting of The Holy Spirit

we became part of something more lasting than the feel good high of “paying it forward”.

It is truly partaking in the active work of Christ’s work and goodness in a world that to me often feels stagnant and hopelessly broken.

But because there is something of Jesus Himself-

when we take time

do something ridiculous

press toward something not easily grasped

for something that gives no tangible fruit,

ALL for the LEAST.

These three sponsor sons of ours.

We hope to have four within the next few years.

Four sponsor sons to a make a gender equivalent for our four biological daughters.

collage Easter sponsor

It has changed our, and our children’s lives.

April is Compassion’s month of Sponsor advocacy.

We sponsored Prince last year through World Help, because of the prompting of blogger and writer Emily Wiergna, who on a Compassion sponsored trip to visit her own sponsor child, followed the Spirit’s leading to form an all but unprecedented mother sponsorship non-profit. Their line is “Preventing tomorrow’s orphan’s by equipping today’s mothers”.

I really don’t talk about our sponsor boys that much.

Misplaced “let your good works be done is secret”?

But it has been such an enormous part of my maturing faith, of understanding my own unhappiness with the bland experience of American church culture, that it is silly to NOT talk to about it. And if I come off as “judge-y “or “preachy” to you, well that is really not my problem because it certainly is not my intent.

Considering praying and then clicking on the

Compassion

or

World Help

or

Lulu Tree links,

and be prepared to be surprised.

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Cheers

VISIT_five minute friday

DSCN0084The sun is high and bright and completely uninhabited

and yet

it still reads in the negatives on my phone.

And so I stay inside.

There is always something to do after all

and the audible waves of quiet that waft around when there are no children with in these walls is such a welcome sound.

The wood stove glows hot and radiates red and orange comfort, even in a circle of dusty ash.

But there is no denying these long winter months, a welcome respite in some ways, directly after the crazy retail chaos of Christmas:

It isolates.

The lack of exchange of words, eye contact, relating of what is going on, and how we feel about this life, affects me.

I liken it a tangle ball of yarn:

my thoughts

that loop around

hook and weave

my emotions.

A visit,

person to person,

eyeball to eyeball

word to word

has some sort of power to untangle and bust out knots inside of me that I did not know were clogging up the works in my mind.

Even if it is with people I am not well acquainted with, and nothing serious is discussed.

Even those quick exchanges {usually about the weather!} in miserable gray frigidness at bus stops with my daughter as we wait, bundled like Eskimos on rock salt and ice, for the arrival of the bus, melt that hard yet droopy weight in me that comes at the end of every February.

Visit

it is the opposite of

isolation.

And it does not even have to be lengthy, deep, and with someone you know well.

It is just human.

Stop.

Linking up with Kate for another installment of Five Minute Friday.

The online equivalent of The Body Visiting.

Cheers.