Monday, August 31, 2009

to not forget

one of these years, the summer will come true.

Friday, August 28, 2009

they said it

This picture is a year old. I guess some things haven't changed.

[Yesterday afternoon. Back yard.]

Me: C'mon Nate, it's time to go to Toys R Us.
Nate: No, I can't!
Me: (very surprised, since he loves Toys R Us) Why not?
Nate: Because I have to go pee on this bush!


[This morning. In Dexter's room, changing his diaper.]

(quietly singing and mumbling from his room)
Me: (loudly, so Nate can hear me through the wall) OK, you can get out of bed now!
Dexter: Mommy, why you talking to the wall?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

good moms have bad days


I'm not talking about days where you have to wait in line for 4 hours with a teething baby at the DMV and you forgot the diaper bag at home, or days where you get stuck in traffic in August with a potty training toddler and your air conditioning is broken. Not those days. I'm talking about the days where nothing really atrocious happens, just run-of-the-mill life with small children, but you find yourself simply unable to cope.

Moms are typically more than happy to talk about the first kind of bad day, trading our litanies of "one thing after another," sympathizing with each other, and laughing so we don't cry. But we don't usually talk about the second kind. Why not?

Because it means admitting our inadequacy.
Because we are ashamed that we don't "have it all together" all the time.
Because we are afraid that other moms will judge us.
Because we don't want to hear suggestions of how we could have handled things differently.
Because we are sure that no one else has days like this.

I hate those days. But when the clouds pass and I have a moment to look back on a day like yesterday, when I had no patience and burst into tears or spoke harshly to my kids at the slightest provocation, I can see that it wasn't all bad. It served to tease out a few nasty lies that had been hiding amongst my beliefs about motherhood, which I am now glad to reject and actively resist. It served to remind me that I am inadequate, and that self-reliance will always land me in a mess. It is not my adequacy that makes me a good mom, but rather the specific gifts of God for the work to which He has called me. Good revelations from a bad day.

So let's talk about our bad days. We may not be able to prevent them altogether, but at the very least we can prevent them from being useless.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

beauty in love

What could be more beautiful than two people, each transformed and made new by the redeeming grace of God, joining their lives together as one in the gift of marriage?

I am reminded that nothing is impossible for God...
I am brought back to the reality that love wins...
and I am convinced that Dostoevsky was right: Beauty will save the world.

Congratulations Mike & Nicole.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

absence made the beans grow longer

Leaving a vegetable garden for a week and a half in mid-August constitutes a considerable sacrifice for the gardener, and possibly for the vegetables as well. In the case of this gardener, however, my recent absence was beneficial for both parties. You see, I am a chronically early harvester. I get so excited about the barely-orange tomatoes, the skinny dark-green beans, and the sweet baby carrots that I can't contain myself. I pick them. I know better, but I do it anyway. That being the case, a week without their over-enthusiastic gardener was exactly what my veggies needed.

As with everything that happens in a garden, I am sure this little drama plays itself out on other stages of my life. But those are deeper thoughts for another night -- for now I am content to keep my mind in the garden.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

keep scribbling, i'm reading

This is fun. A reader of this blog (who is an excellent writer and future feature-film star -- never let the dream die, Serenity!) has nominated me for the "Superior Scribbler" blog award. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either, but the good part is that it gives me an opportunity to pass along this award to a few deserving bloggers out there. To accept this award, one must follow these rules:

1. Pass the award on to 5 most-deserving blogging friends.
2. Link to the author and blog name from whom he/she received the award.
3. Display the award and link to its explanation.
4. The receiver must visit the explanation post and add their name to the list of winners.
5. Winners must repost the rules.

There are some people to whom I just want to say, for whatever it's worth, Keep Writing! And here they are:

Amy Ulrickson, Just Mothering Through: honest and poignant reflections on being a mom of 2 young children.

Bryan Burton, Christ is Victorious: insights from a great theologian, professor and pastor.

Lauren Miller, Three Bowls: beautiful words from a beautiful girl.

Laura Osterman, Hollidaysburke: a lawyer in small-town Virginia who makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

Renee Bergeron, A Baker's Dozen: fantastic photos and snippets of daily life in a family with 13 children, a handful of whom are adopted.

To the winners, don't feel the least bit obligated to pass this on (unless you want to). I just wanted to take this opportunity to honor you and let you know that I enjoy your words.

Monday, August 17, 2009

a new law

As part of a sermon illustration, a pastor tells a story about a youth leader answering her phone at midnight to the sobs of a high school girl whose boyfriend has just broken up with her (again). Where does the pastor go from here? Does he point out the sacrificial love of the youth leader and their willingness to be used by God to help the hurting, day or night? Or does he tell another chapter of the story, about the youth leader who burned out after 6 months of ministry and the girl who never learned healthy boundaries in relationships?

Like just about everything else, that situation could go either way. Man, I hate that. How can I win the game if the rules change all the time? Or, to get to the real question behind the question: how can I do this thing (i.e. live as God desires) on my own? Derek Webb sums it up perfectly in his song "A New Law": Don't teach me how to listen to the Spirit / just give me a new law / I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy / so just bring it down from the mountain to me / I want a new law.

I want someone to tell me exactly what the right answer is, exactly what to do when facing any given situation, exactly what is expected so that I can do the right thing every time. I am a Pharisee looking for a law that is clear and manageable. Something that makes me look good on the outside and keeps me standing on my own two feet. No need to ask anyone for anything. No need to listen to the Spirit. No need for grace.

Once again, Webb hits the nail on the head: What's the use in trading a law you can never keep / for one you can that cannot give you anything?

So can I give it up? The intoxicating high of feeding my addiction to status and signficance... the smug belief that I have the answers... the simplicity of reducing mystery down to something I can hold in my grasp and control to my benefit... I don't know. Probably not, at least not for good. But God I want to.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

things that are (apparently) not true

Upside-down Pyramid by Jeremy Mangan

1. I can be two places at once.
2. Coffee and Chips Ahoy! constitute adequate daily nutrition.
3. I am fine with less than 7 hours of sleep.
4. I can remain patient and kind while 4 toddlers are crying at the same time in my car.
5. I plan ahead and don't procrastinate.
6. I clean my house regularly.
7. I eat breakfast.
8. I don't let my kids watch much TV.
9. I know what I'm talking about.
10. I am Superwoman.
11. God and the people I love are disappointed that #1-10 are not true.

this came in the mail yesterday

Monday, August 10, 2009

they said it

If you don't care what cute things my kids have said recently, ignore this and all subsequent posts titled "they said it."

My first periodic post series. I am so proud.

Nate (talking to my cousin): I'm a big boy, I'm four.
Dexter: Mine big boy too! Mine five!

Dexter playing with trains.
Jon: Dexter, time to come upstairs and eat dinner.
Dexter: OK Daddy. Bye bye Thomas! Bye bye James! I love you!

After dinner, headed down the stairs.
Dexter: Thomas! James! I'm coming back!

Standing on the changing table after a diaper change, eye level with me.
Dexter (spontaneously gives me a hug): I love you mom.


Dexter showing Uncle Chase and his college buddies his Thomas the Train sticker book. Kid who can't say the letter R + steam engine named Percy = hours of immature entertainment.

and the two become one

congratulations brother and (new) sister.

Friday, August 7, 2009

tenacious D

After a rough day on Wednesday, Dexter has had 2 good nights and a good day in between. Thank the Lord! He's back on the antibiotic/anti-parasitic drugs and they seem to be working, but this time we'll keep testing him even after the symptoms go away to make sure that little bug is really dead. In the meantime, we're all happy that his appetite and energy are back!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the bad with the good.

"A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race." Wendell Berry


In other news, Dexter's parasite may be back. His symptoms came back this morning, so we'll start antibiotics again today just in case. Please pray with us for quick healing, and that he will stay hydrated at home so that we can avoid hospitals and IVs. Bless you little man.

Sleeping off a tough morning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Here are a few slices of priceless conversation with my boys over the past week or two, as well as a few more summer photos.


(At midnight on one of our last nights in the hospital, Dexter is totally thrown off schedule and still hasn't gone to sleep. Obviously he was getting to the point of delirium.)

Oh! Smell something!
Me: You smell something? What do you smell?
Dexter: Owl!
Me: You smell an owl?
Dexter: (grabbing my hand and trying to pull me out of bed) Yeah! C'mon Mommy!


(A few days after coming home from the hospital. Apparently the whole experience was not so bad for him.)

Dexter: Mommy, mine go hospital watch Nemo and Thomas?
Me: You want to go back to the hospital?
Dexter: (grinning) Yeah! Watch Nemo and Thomas!


(Before a recent outing I told Nate he could bring his backpack with a few toys in it.)

Me: (in the car) So Nate, how many toys did you put in your backpack?
Nate: Hmm... Hard to say.


(At my parents house after church today.)

Hey guys! Question for you!
Us: (laughing) What Dexter?
Dexter: Um... Bouncy Place! [the name of an indoor playland we love]
Papa: Toothpaste?
Dexter: No, BOUNCY Place! You know that Papa?


Playing with Papa

My darling nephew Noah

Taller than me, and probably sweeter.