Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't you just love this guy?

I don't know what it is about John Denver's music that just carries me away, but it somehow touches my very soul. I have "John Denver's Greatest Hits", which I listen to quite often. His lyrics are so passionate and the music is so beautiful sometimes I just have to stop what I'm doing and listen. John Denver is definitely not background music. "Annie's Song" is one of those songs that I just have to stop and listen to. There's so much depth of feeling conveyed in that song that when it pulls at my heart, it's almost a physical sensation. The beauty of the music sometimes brings me to tears. "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" reminds me to not make so much of the complications in my life and to simplify things. "My Calypso" makes me want to throw my hands up in the air, close my eyes and let the music take me away. In a way his lyrics unnerve me because he is so transparent with his emotions and I am so tight lipped with mine, but it's good for me to listen to him. Maybe I can learn to let loose, even just a little!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This is why I dye my hair...

Because watching this child's antics just makes me go gray! She has always been a little monkey. She was walking at 11 months and was 14 months old when we got the fort. As soon as it was up she was climbing the ladder.
She's always pretty confident in what she can do and seems to know her limitations, though. I have never been that way. I was unathletic as a child and didn't have that physical self-awareness to be able to make my limbs do what I wanted them to do.

See the trike under her. She uses that to get high enough to grab the trapeze, and then she goes through all sorts of contortions to get into a sitting position.
She is just one amazing little girl.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Promise of Spring

I feel like this is a learning time in my life. There are times of plateaus, when life just goes along, and then there are learning times. Times when I feel like God is trying to get me through to a new level of... understanding, I guess would be a good word for it. There are just a lot of things that have been going through my mind and I know that sooner or later, they will coelesce and I will figure out what it is I'm supposed to figure out. But, until then, I will just wait and ponder and really really pray.

One of the things I've been pondering the past several months is this bit of Scripture from Isaiah 55, vs. 2-3 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live." (NKJV). And then, here's what Matthew Henry in his commentary says,"The vanity of the things of this world. They are not bread, not proper food for a soul; they afford no suitable nourishment nor refreshment. All the wealth and pleasure in the world are not a meal's meat for the soul. The folly of the children of this world. They spend their money and their labor for these uncertain, unsatisfying things. Let all the disappointment we meet with in the world help to drive us to Christ, and lead us to seek for satisfaction in Him only."

I have no idea how I got to this position, but lately I have just felt enslaved, yes, that is the only correct term, enslaved by fear and worry. The trees are beginning to bloom, the sun is shining and yet I only see the economy, I worry about money, I worry about our country and our freedoms being eliminated. I worry about being a good mother, and if I'm too harsh or impatient or don't listen and respond to every word my children say then I berate myself. But then, I'm exhausted by the end of the day and feel I have nothing left to give my husband because the children have taken it all. I worry about finding the right homeschool curriculum, and is it too expensive? Should I do strictly Classical, should I modify it a bit? I worry about the children's program at church; the numbers have really been decreasing. I worry about my weight. I've reached goal, but do I have the self-control to stay there? All of these worries and fears have trussed me up to where I can hardly move.

It is not that these things are not valid concerns, but somehow I have let myself become a slave to them. And so, the past several days I have prayed that God would set me free. I want to live in freedom. I want to "eat what is good and let my soul delight in abundance...". I want to embrace my life, revel in it and be a light in this dark world. I want to, as an old colleague used to pray for at the beginning of each school day "have a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye!" So, I sense a change is coming. It's like this morning, when I was out on my daily constitutional in the early morning hours. I felt the air on my cheek and the bite of winter was not there. It was still cold, but there's a promise of spring in the air. And I think there's a promise of spring in my own life as God releases me from the grip of these worries and fears and brings me to that abundant table. It's coming!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

If your mother-in-law gives you lemons... freeze 'em!

My in-laws have a couple of lemon trees. I wish I had a lemon tree! Actually, I wish I had a whole farm, but that's the subject of a whole different post. We're talking about lemons here. I discovered a couple years ago that you can juice lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays and it works out really well. Each cube is about 2 tablespoons worth of juice and if I want to make lemonade, or lemon bars or a lemon meringue pie, I have what I need year round. I'm even experimenting a little this year with the zest. Since you usually need zest when you're making something with lemon juice, I grated the zest with my handy dandy microplane grater (which is my new favorite thing) and I spread it on wax paper on a small cookie sheet and popped it in the freezer. I'll leave it in there a while and then put it in a plastic bag when it's good and frozen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Isn't he just the greatest?

My husband, that is! Late Friday afternoon I was getting dinner started and one of the kids ran up and asked if they could get the door. I hadn't even heard the doorbell ring, but I followed him out and said, "Sure!" And there, standing on the porch was my sweet hubby with a bouquet of three roses. He had remembered it was the seventh anniversary of our engagement, and the bouquet was the same as he got me when he proposed. I still remember it so clearly.
He was supposed to come over for dinner that February night, so I was cooking up a pot of pasta in my little apartment there in the ghetto in Clovis. The doorbell rang and there he was with his hand behind his back and a funny look on his face. I invited him in and a brings out this beautiful bouquet. It had three roses in it. "The first rose is yellow. It's because you're my best friend, " he began. "The second rose is white, for the purity of our relationship. And the third rose is red, because I love you. Will you marry me?" I almost died. Of course I said "yes" and he gave me this gorgeous diamond ring. I really can't remember what we did next. I guess we ate dinner, or something. And then we started calling people - his parents, my parents, siblings, etc. It was the most wonderful night of my life. Of course, I knew when we met he was the one for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You know it's time to clean out the pantry...

when Hubby opens it up and an avalanche of cans of beans, jars of vinegar and potato chips practically buries him. And that's what happened this morning. So, I decided it was time to create order from the chaos. This is what it looked like when I started. OK, why does a person need two half full bottles of Dark Karo syrup? Why does a person even need one?
And then, we need to combine the jars of boullion.
I feel bad about the tea. But, I just don't like it. It looked good, but it's been sitting in the pantry for several years now... it just needs to go. I hate throwing stuff out, I feel so wasteful. I threw a few things out, combined some stuff, did a little of this and a little of that and.... voila.
It looks good and nothing falls out when I open the door. It didn't even take me that long either! Boy, I feel like I've accomplished something today!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If you want to feel appreciated...

Pet your cat. I'm sure dog lovers might add, "Pet your dog," but since I don't have a dog I can't say that. It's not that I don't feel appreciated in life. Well, sometimes I don't. But, you know, you work your buns off making a good, healthy dinner and a little 5 year old boy turns up his nose and says, "What's that?" So, anyhow, I was feeling a little sorry for myself this evening as I put three screaming children to bed (you don't want to know why they were screaming... well, ok, they were screaming because I'd just finished reading to them and was attempting to sing when Missy Lou dropped to the floor in a tantrum because it wasn't the song SHE wanted, and Duh-duh was reaching over me and hitting Bubba because Bubba had something of his and Bubba just wasn't listening to me sing because he was trying to make Duh-duh mad! So, I said, "Forget it! I'm not singing to you people! Get in bed!" And they all started screaming. Ok, you just had to ask, didn't you?) So, I grabbed the bag of trash and escaped through the garage. And there, sitting on the car all sprawled out was my Nikki cat. She looked up at me and I started scratching her chin and she started purring and nuzzling my hand. You know how cats do. So I scratched her ears and the purring got louder. It just became a big ol' love fest. And when I came back in the house after taking the trash cans to the curb and admiring the stars and looking at the little tiny leaf buds on my rose bushes, and trying to peer in my neighbor's window (they hadn't drawn the blinds yet), and wondering what else I could do before going back inside... it was quiet.

Friday, February 6, 2009

People I admire... part 3

Well, here we go with another installment of people I admire. This person has really been on my mind and in my heart this week, because she just made an awesome announcement on her blog that they are once again going to add to their family. This person is Christine Reed.
I met Christine at a mother's group I go to called MUGS. She actually was instrumental in starting it, several years ago and it has been such a blessing to mothers of young children all over our town. I'm not exactly sure how we met, but we did connect with each other over adoption. I had adopted already and she and her husband were looking in to it. We've had many conversations about adoption and life in general and even though she moved and isn't going to MUGS anymore, I still keep in touch with her via the blogosphere.
One of the many things I admire about Christine is her "jump-in-feet-first, go-for-it" attitude toward life. "There is no obstacle that God cannot overcome" seems to be her philosophy. While I know that God calls us each to our own specific tasks in His kingdom, and I know that perhaps four is how many children God has called us to raise, I often wish for more kids. But so often I am paralyzed by fear or by a whole host of excuses why we can't have many more children. I'm sure she may have some of the same fears and excuses, but they don't seem to paralyze her.
Another thing I admire about Christine is the way she manages her family. I know she's not perfect, she'd be the first to admit that. Yet, she has a tremendous amount of wisdom and committment to those who God has placed in her charge and she discharges her duties well.
Christine (and her husband John) truly explemplify obedience to God's command to care for the widows and orphans in their distress. They have given of themselves and their finances sacrificially to provide a home and family to the "least of these", and I am excited to follow their journey back to the Ukraine to bring back this precious little boy who captured their hearts this past summer. And some day, they will be able to stand before their Lord and hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servants!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Late winter beauty

One of my favorite plants in the yard is my Lenten Rose. I have several of them, several colors, and I just love them, all year round. They're an ever green, and, as my mother found out, should not be cut back. Hers came back, of course. They just didn't bloom. I generally just take away the dead leaves. They're blooming right now - hence the name Lenten Rose. Of course, this year it's not quite Lent yet, but... well, we'll forgive that because they are so beautiful. They just bloom and bloom and bloom, too. The one pictured is one of my white ones, but I have some deep burgandy ones, and last year I bought a couple that had a more greyish green leaf and a mauve bloom. It was so pretty, I just couldn't resist. Buttonwillow Nursery is a dangerous place for me. Those aren't blooming right now, but I did just plant them last year.
The rest of my Lentens are blooming now, but after they're done, the plant itself looks very nice. It has large glossy leaves of deep green. The only thing I found that I don't like is that you can't cut the blooms. Well, technically, you can cut them, but they don't last longer than about 30 minutes in a bouquet. So, we just have to enjoy them outside. But, they are definitely worth it! Lenten Roses.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Writers Block

It's just one of those days... I don't know what to write about. Sure, I have a couple more people in mind for my "People I admire" series, but... I just didn't feel like writing an installment today. I'm in one of those "I just don't feel like doing anything" moods. So, instead, I'm sitting down and writing a gripy, whiny post. I'm sorry. I know, I'll just make this one of those "stream of consciousness" posts, and just start writing and see where I end up. I suppose I could go out and plant some of those Persian daffodils I bought from Home Depot. I promised myself last spring, when I saw all my neighbor's daffs pop up that I would have daffodils this spring. But, of course I forgot. And there's none in the stores. I guess I should have checked earlier. There's nothing that says spring to me like those big bright clumps of yellow. I love it. Maybe I should put a sticky note on my calendar on "October" and remind myself to buy daffodil bulbs. I did watch the Superbowl yesterday. I was disappointed, but not devestated. I was cheering for the Cardinals, but... well, because I like Kurt W. and they were the underdogs. But one thing I did notice was how incredibly old Bruce Springsteen has become. We loved him in high school. But that was like 25 years ago. He was slightly pudgy yesterday and just didn't move with the ease he used to. He kind of had to heave himself up on the piano. I was sure he was going to strain something. It was kind of embarrassing to watch. Well, even this stream has dried up, so, I think I'm going to go now. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day!