Gone

I was gone from this site for a while.  And by ‘a while’ I mean most of the spring and summer.  But in the scheme of humanity, it’s just a blip, right?  But I’m back to blogging.  Maybe even regularly…hopefully.

It was a stressful spring and a busy summer and now we’re settling into the routine of the school year.  Life is good and hard and beautiful and precious.

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Love

Love is complex.  It’s awesome.  It’s powerful.  It’s hard.  It’s messy.   It can feel random.  Sometimes it is doing the opposite of what you feel.  It’s hard, it’s glorious, it’s miserable, it’s beautiful.

And sometimes love is simply keeping ‘flowers’ in the window long past their prime and smelling them upon request.

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my little photographer

Kianna is a ham. Or a cheese. She’s also a photographer. If you have a camera around at all she first wants you to “take a picture of me” (unless you really want a picture of her. Then she doesn’t want one. Gotta love toddlers.) Then as soon as you take a picture she wants a turn. She is very comfortable borrowing your camera. I sometimes let her borrow my phone to take pictures. A. It is easy for her to use. B. It has a nice sturdy case on on it in case it gets dropped.


Sometimes we play a really fun game. It’s called “guess what this picture is of.” Kianna takes the picture and we guess. She’s really good at it!

Can you guess? It’s one of Jace’s blankets.

Any ideas? This one took me a really long time to figure out. I’ll let you guess.


This one reminds me of a horror movie. What was the series about the evil doll?


Samuel’s basketball game. Can you see Samuel? Me neither, but he’s in the blur on the right somewhere! (In Kianna’s defense, I’m not sure anyone could get a clear pic of indoor action with my phone!)


A laundry basket. I really like this one. Laundry from a toddler’s perspective.


She even got my head in the picture!

This is one of her favorite toys. She even takes it to bed with her.

So if you need a photographer, you know who to call! In addition to her collection of still life, sports, and portraits, she does weddings, and bar mitvahs.

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Birthdays

Some birthdays are easier than others. The very first one…stressful. 16…quite easy. 21…easy. 40…less easy than some of those others. This one I’ve been dreading, partly because it’s 40, and partly because we’re away from our family and friends. Our culture makes a big deal out of ’40’ and I bought into it, feeling a bit sorry for myself along the way. Going into a ‘big birthday’ and feeling lonely is quite a bummer. However, I got some perspective a few days ago. I remembered my birthday 5 years ago. I was in the beautiful land of Kenya, but I was by myself. And I was sick. Not a fabulous birthday. I had met some wonderful people who tried to make the day special for me. They were SO kind! But it was still rough, not feeling well and being on a different continent from Matt and S. This year is much better. I’m with Matt and our children. And other than a minor cold, I’m pretty healthy.


Even though we haven’t been able to develop community here yet, many of you helped me feel so loved from afar. It was a pretty great day, as far as Monday birthdays go. J took excellent naps. K helped me make a birthday cake. S gave me chocolate. Matt took us all out for dinner and made me feel very loved today. I had the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. I got tons of well wishes on Facebook, as well as emails, phone calls, and cards. I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers from friends and another one from my kids. The sun was out and the temp got up to at least 57 Fahrenheit. That’s a good day!

We went out to dinner and S had prime rib for the first time. He was too cute. He was quite concerned at first, seeing all the fat on his meat. But then he took his first bite. He fell back in his seat and said “ah…heaven!” I’d say he is hooked! He definitely enjoyed his meal. We all did, in fact. Then we came home for some yummy cake. The best part of making your own birthday cake is you get exactly the kind you’re in the mood for. Delightful.

I’d like to think in this next decade I’ll be less whiny and more focused on others and the blessings I already have. In fact, I think that’s a good goal for every decade! Be a little less self-centered and a little more grateful every day, every year, every decade.

Thanks for making my day special. It meant a lot to me. I hope you are celebrated well this year too.

Cars

Love them. Hate them. They are a pain in the derrière yet I am so grateful to have one. Today was was of those ambivalent days. I was grateful to drive my vehicle around, but the only reason I was driving it around was because of my vehicle’s needs, which are many. It needs gas all the time. It needs oil. It gets dirty and I have to wash it. If its tires aren’t all nice and puffy it slows down and wastes the gasoline I gave it. If someone leaves a light on it refuses to start the next day. Not only is the van needy, the government wants the vehicle to have a special license and it requires me to have all this paperwork in order to have the special license. Seriously…the vehicle is handy and all, but really demanding.


I’ve put off getting my plates and drivers license switched. Why? Because I could. No other reason, though I have had a few other things going on since I’ve been here. My goal was to get the plate and license switched earlier this week. Monday is the deadline. Today ended up being the day to do it. Matt stayed home with at one cherub while I traveled to the state examiner’s office to accomplish the tasks. I called the office this morning to make sure I was bringing all the right paperwork and then I set off. I turn onto 280, which is the main road by our house. If you’ve been in the GR area, it is like 28th street on a LOT of steroids. As soon as I turn I realize my van sounds funky. Like something is wrong with the tire. Really really wrong with the tire. Being the brilliant woman I am, I think I probably should look at the tire before getting on the expressway. I pull into the first drive I can and take a look. The tire is there. It’s flat. Not puffy at all. As previously mentioned, my vehicle demands puffy tires. This is definitely an issue.

Rewind a couple days. Matt orders a part for his car in order for it to work. (Both of our vehicles are quite demanding.) The part has not come, therefore his car does not work. It’s one of those moments when you fully realize you have moved to a new place. I had no one to call for help. Holidays, birthdays, illness, and times of car trouble bring into sharp focus you’re out of your usual element. The friends and family who used to be around aren’t and you are alone. Thankfully God is in every element.

I pulled into the first drive I could. After I inspected the tire I looked around to see where I was and where I should try to go. Can you guess what parking lot I was in? One for a tire store. A tire store. I ended up in the driveway for a tire store. I don’t know about you, but I found this quite handy. Like I said, even if you’re in a new place, God probably has you covered.

It took forever and I had J with me. Nothing like an unplanned visit to a tire store with a baby. Not my ideal morning. (But considering what it could have been, it was lovely.) I wasn’t too happy with the place, mainly because they seemed really slow. They finally finished and I needed to pay my bill. Can you guess how much it was? Free. This happens to be my favorite price! My opinion of the place suddenly went up!

Finally J and I are on our way to the State Examiner’s office. The mission: an Alabama license plate and driver’s license. As said, I had called ahead to make sure I had all the paperwork I needed. When I arrive I find out I did have all the paperwork I needed. Yay! What I didn’t have was Matt. Since he is also listed on the title he had to be present. Grrr. The place is at least 20 minutes away and Matt is working from home (with a toddler), waiting for me to get back so he can go into the office. This isn’t going as smoothly as we’d hoped. However, I’m able to get my driver’s license, though this isn’t the part that expires on Monday. Of course there’s a wait…with a baby whose morning (and nap schedule) has been completely screwed up. I will say, it could have been much worse. I could have had a toddler with me as well, a blowout diaper, etc. etc. etc.

I come home and pick up Matt and K and we go to the licensing office. Matt tells me we don’t have to go back to the State Examiner’s office for the plates. Yay! The licensing office is close to our apartment. The line isn’t too long either.

So now it’s official. I live in Alabama. With an Alabama plate and drivers license. The worst part is I don’t have a Michigan plate to invoke mercy in traffic when I don’t know where I’m going. The best part is I no longer have the picture on my driver’s license from when I was eight months pregnant with K.

All in all it was a crazy long day. Yet what needed to be accomplished happened and I got to experience grace along the way.

I would like to think my vehicle would be satisfied for a while. We’ll see. I certainly used up a lot of gasoline today….

Martha

Martha is a chick I can relate to. She likes to get things done and is a hard worker. Both are awesome attributes. I’ll bet people appreciated her because she was kind and anxious to help others. She was probably one you could count on if you were in a bind. However, there is one quality she struggled with and I do as well. She wasn’t a be-er. No, not beer. That’s entirely different. Martha stunk at BEing. Me too. I stink at BEing. At sitting. At relaxing. At ignoring the pile of papers/dishes/clothes/to do lists. In all honesty, I stink at enjoying my children some days. Not because I don’t think they’re fabulous. Not because I don’t want to play. But because the clutter drives me crazy. I’m one of those “don’t function well in chaos” people. I think God designed me that way. I like order. A lot. Can you imagine the world if no one needed order? Laundry would overflow the streets. Children would climb on the piles of mail. Birthdays and anniversaries would be celebrated randomly and without cake (oh my!) Grocery stores would be overflowing with people because they had no lists. Yes, people like me are definitely helpful!

But then there is Mary. She was the one who, on at least one day, got kudos from Jesus. For BEing. She was a be-er. She was great at listening to Jesus. I’ll bet she was also great at enjoying children.

Lately God has been ‘allowing’ me to live in chaos. Did I mention I really don’t function well in it? My brain gets ‘clogged up’ when there is lots of clutter/stuff to do around. I’m NOT a fan. But apparently this is the season for clogging. J has been sleeping miserably and many days I’m struggling to get through. That doesn’t leave much energy for order.

To give an example, I still have the Christmas stuff up. Yes, many people do that. You may be one who happily leaves it up till Spring. I am not. It should be neatly packed away by now. The holiday cheer is gone from the decorations and now they taunt me. The snowmen are threatening to melt at any moment. Little animals in their sweaters are begging to be packed away before the Alabama heat kicks in. Our Christmas tree is shoved into our tiny office, so each time I get into a desk drawer I have to fight an artificial pine tree. I don’t know if you’ve ever fought one, but believe me, it can be quite the opponent!

I find myself having to choose every day how I want to spend the limited energy I have. We make choices every day, because they pass quickly, but some periods of life require us to be far more intentional than others. Grad school was a season like that for me. I had to choose what I’d do with my preciously small amount of free time. These days when we visit home I have to decide how to maximize time with loved ones and my schedule has to be carefully chosen.

Every once in a while I do a beautiful job (if I do say so myself) of choosing to be a Mary. It’s usually a deliberate decision, because Martha-ness runs deep in my bones. Yesterday was one of those days. It was a lovely day, filled with tickles, toys, and slobber. Every once in a while I realize how quickly childhood goes by. It’s much too short and all I can do is hang on tight and snatch whatever moments I can. Yesterday I snatched as hard as I good. Today I may not be grabbing all day long, but I’ll be sure to snag a few moments. Even a Martha at heart can savor some Mary minutes each day. In fact, I can see a toddler who needs to be tickled…gotta run.

(Luke 10)

Storypraxis

There’s a great website encouraging people to write. Ten minutes a day. That’s it. He gives you a prompt for the day and you write about it for ten minutes. When you’re done you can post it on the site. I think it is a phenomenal idea. The prompts vary from common words/phrases to a few I’ve had to look up their meaning. Some days I’m inspired to write but don’t have time, other days I’ve got nothing. Today the prompt is “fired.” I thought, this is one I can easily do…..


–She walked right in and fired. One shot straight to his chest. It was just like she had dreamed…except for the two guys with him. They saw her. They knew who she was. So she took off. She ran faster than she had known she could. She ran out of the building, the cool air smacking her face. She rolled under a fence, barely noticing the scraping on her legs. She jumped up and kept running, through the tall grass and behind some trees. She had to get away. She would get away.

The morning began with her husband gloating, again. She knew today would be different. She knew today she would wipe the smug grin right off of his face. She plotted and waited. She waited for just the right moment. Then she walked in with no hesitation and shot. She hadn’t realized the other two were there until it was too late. Her clean getaway ruined. But it was just an inconvenience, really. She’d get away. She was fast and she was small. She could hide easily. She’d keep hiding. She just needed to go a little longer. This time the paintball trophy would be hers.–


Check out the site. You’ll be glad you did!
http://blog.storypraxis.com/

Word for the Year

It’s 2011. I’m still trying to comprehend that. I just heard a song on the radio that came out at least 25 years ago. I remember listening to it on the radio when it was first popular. Oh my. Maybe I was in utero and I remember it? Nope. Nor was I in my crib. Time goes faster the older I get.


When I was in high school my friend and I used to write lists of words we liked and hated. Odd, you say? Maybe. (Odd was one of the words on the list, by the way.) That was how we killed time during boring lectures. I still remember a few of the words.

If I were working on the list today I would have a new word on the ‘like’ side. In fact, it’s my new very favorite word for 2011. “Normal.” My heart does a little flip flop just thinking of this word. The world suddenly gets sunny, flowers bloom dramatically, birds start singing beautifully, and a charming song plays in the background. Okay, maybe I’ve seen too many sappy commercials. Nevertheless, “normal” is a great word. Especially when it comes from the nurse who called regarding the results for the x-rays of J’s head. “Normal” is absolutely fantastic.

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