Sunday, January 25, 2009


Mood: contemplative

I took care of our youth pastor's little four year-old boy Friday and Saturday. He is so much fun! When we got to Jylle's basketball game, he sat for maaaaybe one minute and then asked, "Can we go on an adventure?" Translation: Can we go all over the place? On the way home, Jylle and Kev started throwing riddles and knock-knock jokes back and forth. After about 87 of them, there was a quiet moment. Josiah spoke up and told three of his own! Then he sang Christmas songs, one after another, and we all joined in. It was the most fun I've had on a trip back home in a long time!

We've had our pastor's two girls since yesterday, and we'll have them until Tuesday. The oldest one is head on, sold out, crazy overboard in love with horses. They've been helping feed them morning and night, and Kev has led them around on two rides so far. Their intense and constant interest in all the animals is sweet and refreshing. They're easy keepers, and it's wonderful to be able to help out a family we love and respect so much.

I made three loaves of bread yesterday, and I took half of one for my SS class. One boy is lactose intolerant, so I skipped the butter and just brought honey. They loved it! It was the close to my talk on possessions and workmanship. (Right, if that's not self-explanatory, I don't know what is.)

I was barely upstairs after class when the girls were ready to hit the road and get back to the horses. It's so cold out, but the sunshine is delightful! They brushed the dogs, pet the cats, went on a long ride, and are watching "Anastasia" now.

The busyness and constant occupation recall vividly for me these same times with my three. It's a different kind of sweet to be thus engaged with kids not my own. Must be similar to the joy a grandparent experiences, savoring and drinking in all the moments, knowing they will end much sooner than later. I'll be thinking about that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My Houdini horse keeps escaping. If there's any weakness at all in the electric fence, he can smell it a mile away and takes full advantage. On Saturday he got out five times. It's not safe or healthy for them to eat too much grain, so I had to hog tie the barrel of oats to keep him from lifting the lid and gorging himself. I'd thought the enormous rock I set on top would be enough, but no, he bites the lip of the lid and just lifts. (He probably thinks my little attempts are cute.) It took about 15 minutes to wrap and knot and interconnect enough twine to keep the barrel secured, but it was worth it because he hasn't been able to get in it again.

Here he is in the garage on Saturday. He's more like a big dog than the image of a noble horse. Kev snapped this one minute before he let loose and pooped--big ol' pile right there in the garage! My poor husband.

My brilliant Kevin finally had the idea to string a second and even third wire across. They're not even hot, but they provide enough resistance that he can't just push through or under the one that
is hot.

It worked for three days. ***heavy sigh***

Because he's been so successful, I've been keeping a few flakes of hay in the barn so he'll stick around. Otherwise, he'd probably head down the road to the neighbor's barn. That's where we've found him before. I saw him in the barn
this morning and barely took time to get Kev's lunch and breakfast together before strapping my boots on and heading out to investigate the damage and try to locate the point of exit. Didn't take long and wasn't difficult (thank You, Lord!) so I'll see how long he stays in this time. He's so cute and the sweetest, dearest personality. I'm taken by his complete absence of malice. He's just got this great wanderlust. And constant hunger.

Oh, crap! He's out again! I'm not even kidding! grrrrrr........

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Complete" by Parachute Band

I love this song. It's my new favorite worship song, even though it's not new. God-things are like that--new when you're ready for them.


By Parachute Band

Here I am, O God
I bring this sacrifice—my open heart.
I offer up my life.
I look to You, Lord
Your love that never ends
Restores me again

So I lift my eyes to You, Lord
In Your strength will I break through, Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
I know Your love dispels all my fears.
Through the storm I will hold on, Lord.
And by faith I will hold on, Lord
Then I’ll see beyond my Calvary one day
And I will be complete in You.

Here I am, O God
I bring this sacrifice—my open heart.
I offer up my life.
And I look to You, Lord.
Your love that never ends,
It restores me again.

So I lift my eyes to You, Lord
In Your strength will I break through, Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
I know Your love dispels all my fears.
Through the storm I will hold on, Lord.
And by faith I will walk on, Lord
Then I’ll see beyond my Calvary one day
And I will be complete in You.

I look to You, Lord
Your love that never ends
It restores me again

So I lift my eyes to You, Lord
In Your strength will I break through, Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
I know Your love dispels all my fears.
Through the storm I will hold on, Lord.
And by faith I will walk on, Lord
Then I’ll see beyond my Calvary one day
And I will be complete,
Yes, I will be complete
I will be complete in You.

O Jesus, O Jesus,
I will be complete in You.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

fired... again

My poor husband. This is the second time he's been fired from coaching. He called me this morning to say that he was called into the AD's office and asked to step down from the 8th grade girls coaching position. Just last Monday the JV girls coach called him into the hallway, saying he wanted to talk to him for a minute. In the hall already was the head girls coach. She asked him if he was going to be cooperative, if he was going to do what she wanted to develop this program. He was completely blind-sided by the entire meeting and just kind of stammered a yes. It was as if she were addressing a potentially disobedient child instead of a seasoned coach with more experience and success than she's ever going to see if she keeps coaching the way she is.

Now this. They're going to keep paying him, and she's going to take over as the 8th grade girls coach and do it for free. He's out because she wants him out. It's all so emasculating.

Where I HAVE to go, where I MUST absolutely go, is the real, true world, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~Eph 6:12

My flesh wants to rail against this ridiculously small, stupid, soul-less, foul-mouthed moron, and my imagination wants to enjoy all means of revenge against her. But that is not where I want to go. That is not how I want to live.

I told Kev to pray for her. He said, "But I don't consider her my enemy." I find that noble. Even in the midst of this, he doesn't want anything but to enjoy some low key basketball (certainly compared to what he's experienced in the past). He doesn't want any enemies, any revenge, any commotion, conflict, or controversy. There's just something about him that she took issue with from Day One, and he did say this day would come. Pray for her. When I pray for people against whom I have an offense, sincerely and over time they become dear to me. I end up caring a great deal about their welfare and well-being, and I cease to link them to that offense. They become lambs as dear to God's heart as I know I am. It is heaven on earth when His all-Love heart meets our loveless times.

For now I will continue to encourage and strengthen him as I can. He is only human, and he struggles with handing trials over once and for all as most of us do. He will rise above this, and it will leave its mark, but this time, I'm praying it does the supernatural work of molding him further into the image of the Lord who saves--and saves and saves us.

But you, O Sovereign LORD,
deal well with me for your name's sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.

For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me. ~Ps. 109:21-22

Monday, January 12, 2009

sure hurts

My Ryrie left to go back to college today. He set his alarm for 5:45. I know 'cause I checked the time when I heard music in the still dark morning. He must've hit snooze several times 'cause I heard it go off at least three more times. At quarter of seven, I went down and asked quietly if he needed to get up (since his ride was due here at 7:15). "YEAH-uh!" He has one speed, "cool." Fortunately, Avery hadn't called him yet to tell him they were on their way here. In the middle of breakfast, his phone rings. We're stuck on your hill. Can you come help us?

Ryan had the foresight to bring gloves and plenty of shovels. I did pretty much nothing but watch since there wasn't any more room to work with three guys digging out the one stuck side. The road was so slick that I had to grasp the sides of the truck to work myself the slight distance from the cab to the tailgate to fetch a shovel. Avery's dad asked if we deal with this every winter. Apparently, it wasn't until they were already into that dicey part of the hill that Avery answered his dad about our road with something like I think you have really gun it. First attempt to back down the hill resulted in yet another wedgy. This time, however, Avery's dad pulled a rather James Bond move by taxing the tires and pivoting right outta that berm. Down the hill and back up at a speed I didn't know anyone could drive up a steepish icy road, we watched him zip past us and successfully . I followed with the boys in the truck. Thank God for four-wheel drive was Ryan's benediction on the whole thing.

We finally get ALL of Ryan's stuff loaded on top of ALL of Avery's stuff, and Ryan is wedged into a smidgeon of the back seat all ready to go. With no other snack foods besides string cheese and venison pepperoni sticks, he waves goodbye to me through a foggy rear window, crests the driveway hill, and I woodenly walk to the barn to feed the horses. Somewhere along the way I am vaguely aware of a conversation amongst the Committee In My Head:

You really, really, really miss him.

I'll see him in like eight weeks.

Remember how we laughed and laughed last night?! Yeah, well, that's not gonna happen for like eight weeks.

Like why do you like talk like an eighth grader like?

Everybody, shut up. This isn't even about you. It's about not practicing the Presence of God so that even in the middle of something grueling, trying, and tempting, my experience is to be as present with Him as if I was in prolonged worship.

I burst into tears and sobbed for a while. I didn't see that coming. I thought I was pretty okay with him leaving and coming back mid-March. There was a sudden awareness of how empty the house was now--and that room in my heart where everything feels just right. I couldn't will myself joyful. I couldn't muster that active yieldedness to what is. I felt only the connection of a Parent's heart to a child He loves, enjoys, and misses. Lord, it hurts sooo much.

I just had to get it out. I felt better afterward, a little more at peace, a little more accepting again. I am a parent who misses a child, and I am a child being missed by a Parent. Lord God, You are amazing. Heartbreakingly, incredibly amazing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

on a life of integrity

We had just heard something on the radio in the car about living a life of integrity. I turned first to Brett.

Me:  Brett, are you living a life of integrity?

B:  (unflinching) Yep.

Me:  Ryan,
are you living a life of integrity?

R:  (unflinching) Yep.

Me:  Jylle,
are you living a life of integrity?

J:  (pause            pause             pause)            Yes...?

This is the kid who has always gotten caught when she was doing something wrong. Her reputation is sullied, and she's tried for a long time, with intermittent success, to overcome her bad choices.

Reminds me of the story about the pastor who goes in to speak to the little kids' SS class. He engages them with this question: There's a furry little animal with a fluffy tail who climbs trees and stores nuts. What is it?  A small hand is slowly raised as a tiny voice from the group speaks up in a miserable tone, "Pastor, I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

To-Do List

I don't feel terribly motivated to get anything done. I haven't even sent out a Christmas letter. It's going to be a New Year's letter now. Or maybe Valentine's Day at this rate. I'll probably get back to business as usual once Ryan's not here to have fun with, but until then, in uncharacteristic optimism, I have constructed a to-do list:
  • write the New Year's letter
  • resize pictures
  • go through three boxes & eliminate at least one
  • clean the kitchen windows
  • organize my Ya-Ya box
  • peruse the books I borrowed from Jewelee
  • research to see what vacuum I want
  • create a menu for the rest of the month
  • do the eewwwwy litter boxes (Goober the garage cat snuck into the house one of those sub-zero days and way overstayed his welcome. His aim is pathetic AND he doesn't care. Come to think of it, maybe I'll have Ryan man up and take care of this one.)
  • re-situate my morning books (somehow they got all scrambled)
  • do some laundry
Just having accomplished a to-do list was a major feat. Time now for some refreshment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thought Salad

  • The impossible has finally happened. School is canceled today. Hasn't happened in the last ten years. The boys say Jylle gets all the breaks--her school has been closed for two days. All the Ya-Yas have canceled schools now today.
  • I think morbidly. It wasn't until I voiced some of these thoughts to a sympathizer that I was made to realize just how morbid. For instance, when I drive alone, I hook my purse into my seatbelt so that if I'm found dead, they'll be able to identify me. And I make sure the purse is zipped so my wallet doesn't fly out. This isn't something I even think about--I just do it.
  • Th 'e' on my kyboard has startd sticking so I hav to prss it twic now... bugga...
  • I'm going to try roasting vegetables instead of steaming them. Supposedly the flavor is immensely better.
  • I'm using the Google Chrome browser now. Minimalistic. I like it. Still learning it.
  • We're closing the land deal on a small parcel across the road from us. We'll be the proud owners of a pond and the land our well is on.
  • Ryan goes back to college on Monday instead of Sunday--yea for one more day!
  • My dear cousin's little girl just underwent surgery to implant a shunt in her brain to prevent the accumulation of fluid. This is her fourth surgery in four years, and she's only 11. Meanwhile, my cousin is being sued for libel by a maniac cousin to whom I am also unfortunately related.
  • I need new sneakers. It's been five years.
  • We still haven't sent out Christmas cards.
  • We just received a small check for selling two carbon sinks. That means someone paid us for having trees and plants on our property so they could say they're helping the environment, thereby granting them bragging rights for having "green points."
  • I just discovered snow shoeing, and I like it!
  • A few of my eyelashes are gray now.
  • My cat is 10 years old, and all our old friends are amazed that we still have him. That's not terribly old for an inside cat, is it?
  • I've been eating tsaziki almost every day. Let's hear it for warm flat bread.
  • There is NO OTHER NAME by which we are saved. I can call on the Father all I want, but it's when I call on the name of JESUS that things happen. I know they are One and the same, but this was the revelation given to me while--again--alone on the road. There is something preparatory in this for me.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

that vulnerability

"One more push."

"It's a boy!"

He is laid in my arms, and I hold for the first time a tiny blanketed body whose face I cannot exactly identify, but whose something I immediately connect to in my own somewhere. He is so tiny. The world is so big. Even in that rather small room he is so stinking small and helpless that if left alone as is he would die in hours.

It is in that moment of acknowledging that very present, awful vulnerability that a certain variety of protection is formed inside me, never to leave. It is that nature of nurturing and protection that I have practiced these mothering years, and now that it is no longer called on to the degree it once was, it doesn't know how to die down. And I don't know how to make it dissipate. I wish it away, but it doesn't seem to fade. There is always a kind of radar beeping round and round, alert to any alien ship or a veering off course or any seeming threat to these kids. I cannot turn it off.

Mothering is the closest thing
to unconditional love that I have probably experienced. They can have the middle part of my cinnamon roll. They can forget to take out the garbage for the eighth time. They can use up all the TP and not tell me. They can forget to call and consider me irrelevant as they chase the new day. But the love never turns off. It never fades, fails, or gives up hope. It is ongoing, active, present, productive, and the most vivid thing in my life. It is at once a blessing and a trial. Love costs everything--and it is the only thing worth everything.

"And a sword will pierce your very soul.” ~Luke 2:35 (NLT)