Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Girl

We are still in the "season of birthdays" in our family. Very soon my second daughter, Tara, will be turning 26 years old. Twenty-six years old. As I go back in my mind to the time in our lives when Tara joined our family of 3 it seems not so long ago. My husband was in his junior year of college and we were making plans to travel across the country to attend seminary. Our oldest daughter was only 6 months old when I very not-intentionally got pregnant again. We didn't have any money. My oldest daughter was not a very easy baby - she was quite fussy. We were resident directors in a college dorm and the students were my age - it was the class I would have graduated with if I had not quit school to get married and have babies. We didn't have any money. I was working part-time around my husband's school schedule so he could watch the baby we already had. And did I mention we didn't have any money? As ashamed as I am to say it now, I did not want this baby. It was not a good time, life was difficult, my 6 month old daughter was difficult to care for, and of course, we had no money. I spent the next few months feeling sorry for myself and I didn't enjoy my pregnancy at all. I was a brat. A real brat. In fact, when Tara was born and I held her I didn't feel the maternal love that I had felt for her older sister (who was now 15 months old)- I was still too preoccupied with thinking about me. I remember when that love came flooding over me though. Tara was 3 weeks old and suddenly I looked at her and I knew that God had a very special purpose for this child and that I would be very privileged to be her mother. I knew in that moment that I would die for her if I had to. I fell in love with my little girl. And what a wonderful little girl she was! If ever there was a model of a perfect baby - it was Tara. She just didn't cry. She played, and loved, and smiled, and grew. And oh how we loved her! She was such a good little girl. The only difficulty we had with her was her appetite - she was very picky!!! And even though she had a real independent, stubborn streak, she didn't display it very often. She had little wisps of blond hair and she was always very tiny. She loved her babies and "little things". She loved kitties. She loved roly-poly bugs. And I'm really sorry we never were able to get her that baby lamb she always wanted.

As she grew into a teen-ager she developed into the sweetest person. She developed a passion for the under privileged and felt a call upon her life to be a missionary. Everyone who knew her loved her. If ever there was a model for the perfect teen-ager - it was Tara. No tantrums, no fits, no bursts of emotion. She was always helpful and had an infectious giggle that we heard often. Most nights would find her in her room reading her Bible. She begged us to sponsor a needy child and eventually signed up to sponsor one herself. Faithfully, every month she would send in her money to feed the little girl she took care of through Compassion International. Many times she inspired and motivated me to become a better follower of Christ. It was uncommon, I think, to find such a young lady with such strong convictions.

The day came when Tara moved away from home and went to college. Our home was strangely quiet. Not because she had made a lot of noise, but because she had brought a lot of joy and the emptiness rang hollow in our hearts. We have never really gotten used to it. College brought us some challenging days. Deep questions of faith and belief made their way to the surface and we tread a lot of spiritual water. Sometimes I thought we were all going to drown. But through it all our love and admiration for this girl has never wavered. This girl has taught her mom and dad how to pray! After college graduation she took off to backpack through Europe for 2 weeks and didn't come home until 6 months later! Boy, has this girl taught us how to pray! For the last couple of years she has been working in a homeless women's shelter in a big city - we are still praying! She is soon to be moving to the other side of the country to a VERY big city to achieve one of her goals - a master's degree in social work. I think our prayer life will reach limits we never imagined!

As I shamefully remember the days when I thought I didn't want another baby so soon, I realize that God knew something I didn't know. He knew I needed you, Tara. You have done so much to make me a better person and a better Christian. You have caused me to ask myself very hard questions and dig very hard for the answers. I love you with a love that is so fierce it scares me sometimes.

And He knew that His world needs you. For you are feeding His lambs.

Some time ago, we met up for a weekend in Los Angeles and we shared a bed together in our hotel room. I woke up early that next morning and I saw you sleeping beside me. I laid my hands on you and I prayed over you for the longest time. I prayed for your future and your purpose in life. I prayed scripture over you and I had one of the most meaningful times with God that I ever have had. I thanked God over and over again for the gift of you. I thanked Him for letting me be your mama. I received a promise that morning from God about your life. I am looking forward with great anticipation to watching it come to pass. The assurance God gave me when you were three weeks old has been so very true- I AM privileged to be your mother. I love you Tara - you always have been and always will be my girl.

BOOK REVIEW- Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

A book review for the Spring Reading Thing
Heather Curridge has it all. A handsome, rich, doctor husband, a sweet, respectful teen-age son, and a beautiful home on a lake. But it never seems to be enough. Heather finds herself being an overweight, church neglecting, critical, compulsive shopper who has begun to hear strange voices in her head asking very pointed questions. And the memories from her past begin to haunt her. Memories of the awful way she treated a classmate during her school years. But never fear. It's all nothing that a kangaroo, a nun, a drug dealer, and two old quaker spinsters can't change!
It took me a little while to get into this book but it did slowly pull me in. Lisa Samson is a talented writer and she skillfully weaves a story line within the story that all comes together at the end of the book. This novel challenges todays Christian into asking questions about the lives of privilege we lead and what our responsibilities to the under-privileged are. When is all the "stuff" we have enough, and are we doing enough to follow Jesus command to take care of the poor?
The characters are a little bit quirky, and some of their conversations seemed a little unrealistic. But the process of transformation in Heather and her family throughout the storyline was excellent. I also felt that the author tried to include too many current day issues in one story, she couldn't do them all justice. But overall I would recommend this book and I give it

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You've Got to be Kidding!

**UPDATE AT BOTTOM* (no pun intended)

“I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.” Sheryl Crow

Does Ms. Crow think we all have bidet's in our bathrooms?

And wouldn't it be common sense to think that toilet paper limitations would require MUCH more energy to be used with washers, dryers, soap, and sanitizer?


Do we REALLY want to go here?

Just wondering

*UPDATE* Okay, it seems that Ms. Crow was just joking about this idea. Ummm.. okay...yeah - well Ms. Crow, just ask my kids - I have never appreciated bathroom humor!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Make's Me Want to Melt

This is Paisley, the little yorkie I am raising that is going to live with my sister-in-law in North Dakota. We only have her for 2 more weeks before she goes to her new home and we have fallen for her! This one will be hard to let go! She loves to snuggle and she is so soft that I can't even describe it! She sleeps in her little carrier on my nightstand every night. Her sisters and brother all left this weekend for their new homes. It is much quieter around our home today! It's always good to see these sweeties go make other people happy, but I have to admit that Paisley is a keeper!

Book Review - Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale

This book was written by Ian Morgan Cron
What caught my attention about this book in the first place were three things: One, the cover was an Italian countryside scene; two, it had a study guide in the back and I love study guides; and three, the back cover said that Chase Falcon, megachurch pastor has lost his faith, and he did it in front of his congregation. Mercy!
I found this to be a great book and caused me to have a lot of questions about myself. In fact, I have encouraged my husband to read it so we can discuss it together. (I covet his wisdom!)
Chase Falcon had run out of answers. He had built a big church and should have been enjoying the fruit of his labor, but things just weren't right. And finally, when a tragedy occurs involving a little girl in his congregation, he cannot come to terms with why God allowed this to happen. After his spiritual breakdown, his church requests that he take a sabbatical. Having no where else to go, he meets up with his uncle who sends him on a pilgrimage through Italy, following the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The descriptions of Italy are breathtaking and the reader gets a strong picture of the life and beliefs of St. Francis. Through this journey Chase falls in love with Jesus all over again and his faith is renewed even though he must make some difficult decisions in his life.
This book challenged my thinking in several areas of my life. How much am I looking inward versus outward? What did Jesus mean by helping the poor? Who are the poor? Does my church have a healthy vision for the people who sit in its pews? What does it mean to just "play church"? I have had these questions pop into my mind frequently and that usually means God is trying to speak to me. I have decided to start listening to what He is asking me - even though I know that intense soul searching is never very fun - but very worthwhile.
I really did like this book and I give it:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Who - me?

Wow - I was so blessed this morning to see that Toni from special K family bestowed upon me the Thinking Blogger Award - my very first blogging award ever!!! And it means especially alot to me because my friend Toni gave it to me. She made me laugh when she said "We are a weird combo, I think, but you DO make me think! Usually about the spiritual side of life! Thanks!!".

We probably are a weird combo but you know what? I think when we write we are exposing the deepest parts of us and there is just something about Toni's writing that connects with me. I see your heart Toni - and it's a good one! So while we do have our differences, I think we have many more similarities- such as a passion for our families and our country. I just love your open and honest approach to life - you are who you are and I like that! And you are married to a military man and how can you NOT love a military family - you are doing an incredible thing for me and my family. And your sense of humor cracks me up! I need to laugh more and you definitely make me laugh! So thank you friend Toni - I really appreciate you!

So now it has become my duty to bestow this prestigious award to 5 blogs that make me think. Wow- only five. My choices are:

Becky of The Butler's Wife. She is a teacher and I love her approach to writing. She is intellectual without being stuffy - she very creatively weaves deeper meanings into ordinary happenings. That's my favorite type of writing!

Mayhem and Miracles is a new blog I am reading. I love her style. She uses lots of words and when I finish reading her posts I feel like I have just finished a satisfying conversation.

Ashleigh at Heart & Home is a young mom who inspires me! She has so much spiritual insight for such a young woman - she is the kind of mom I hope my daughters are when they have kids.

Jennifer at Jeneric Jeneralities is always a fun read with deep thoughts. I've been a lurker on her sight for a long time - she always has something going on!

And finally, Julie at A Day in the Life of a Preacher's Wife always has a theological thought that makes me think. And she is just so kind.

So ladies, here is what you need to do:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote. (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Well, I'm off to think some more!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

A couple of weeks ago as we sang this song in church the words began to stick in my mind and the meaning of them dawned upon me as tears began to flow down my face. I suddenly began to face the fact that I have fallen so short in the area of blessing the Lord. The name of the Lord is blessed and glorious and deserves to be praised and lifted up by me. Not just once in a while, but often, every day, as I walk the walk with Him. In my new found awareness I asked for and received forgiveness from Him whose name is blessed!

I continued to sing and as the words changed they began to go deeper into my soul.

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

The first part seems so easy. There is no problem in blessing the Lord when I am in the land that is plentiful and abundance is flowing. The biggest problem then is just in remembering to be thankful and bless Him. Remembering that all good things are gifts from God and not of my own doing can sometimes become an obstacle in my life. I prayed that God would remind me whenever necessary that I am not in control – He is. I also think it is a natural thing for me to draw close to the Lord when I am “in the desert” or “wilderness”. I don’t like being lonely or afraid. I naturally seek the Lord during those times – I want to be close to Him and feel His nearness. He is very blessed to me during those times. I thank Him for that! Blessed be His name!

But the words changed again.

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Oh, There's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

This is harder. Am I willing to bless His name even when bad things happen? Even when my prayers don’t seem to be answered? Even when I have done everything right and it still goes all wrong? Even when my heart is breaking and answers don’t come? Even when those I love the most have disappointed me so deeply? Can I still bless his name even during the bleakest moments of my life? Can I still bless His name when He seems so very distant and I wonder how much He really does care about all the matters in my life? “What does it mean to bless his name anyway?”, I scream from my innermost being. “What more does he want from me? What more can He take from me? When did I ever agree to suffering? Doesn’t He remember we had a pact, a deal? I would bless Him and He would give me everything good – what went wrong?” Very quietly, through my bitter tears, the thought begins to form in my mind that maybe I had it all wrong. In fact, when I think more about it I realize there had never been a “deal” at all. The bargain was in my mind.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to stay
Well Blessed be your name

I get it! There was no bargain, no deal, no pact. God IS good even when bad things happen. It is my choice to stay with him and bless His name. How arrogant of me to think that I deserve all good and no bad. Who do I think I am anyway? I settle into a peacefulness as I realize that I don’t have all the answers, I don’t even have to have all the answers. My heart will CHOOSE to stay with the One whose name I bless. Every blessing you pour out, I will turn back to praise. Even when the blessings don’t feel like blessings, I will praise You Oh Holy One of Israel! You are my God, my salvation, my only Hope. I will choose to believe that You are working in my life always, even in the darkest moments. It is painful to let it go and bless you anyway, but I will do it..

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Egg-y

In getting ready to write my first book review for the Spring Reading Thing, I decided to come up with my very own Robinznest award system to rate the books I have read. You know, something like the Oscar, the Grammy, or the Popcorn -that's the one our local newspaper gives for movie reviews :) . I am going to use

the Egg-y -

and it works like this: if I really love a book it will get 5 egg-y's. If a book is good but I had some problems with it; it gets 3 egg-y's. If I just plain didn't like the book (assuming that I even finish reading it, in that case) it will only get 1 egg-y. A two or four egg-y will fall somewhere in between. Well, I hope this all makes sense! Here is my first book review:

White Chocolate Moments - by Lori Wick
I just have to say it - this was not my favorite Lori Wick book. I loved the title, and the storyline sounded promising - but it was just "a little pitchy daawwg" - if you know what I mean!
It is the story of a young girl, Arcineh Bryant, whose parents are killed in a tragic accident and she goes to live with her grandfather. The conflict enters with her aunt and very spoiled rich cousin who compete for her grandfathers affections. The story is predictable, and just never really takes off. It meanders through Arcineh's life and the misunderstandings with her grandfather were so simple - it wouldn't have taken much to fix it. The reactions of the characters in the book were a bit dramatic - it just wasn't believable. I found myself constantly checking to see how many pages were left before I could be done. It just doesn't stand up to Lori Wick's other works - doesn't even come close to Sophie's Heart . I won't give the ending away (not that you wouldn't guess it) but suffice it to say, it is very weak and disappointing. I'm so sorry to start my spring reading book reviews out this way, but this book only gets:

and I think I am being generous.

Pray for Heather

Go here to Especially Heather and read how an incredible woman with an incredible faith deals with an unthinkable situation. And please pray for Heather and her family.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Real Mama's

Becky at The Butler's Wife tagged everyone to play this game! I have loved reading everyone's responses - they have been so touching and beautiful. So here is my list:

Real mama’s:

Don’t try to live their lives vicariously through their children

Don’t try to be their child’s best friend. They know their kids will have LOTS of friends, but they will only have ONE mama.

Provide a home that is a haven from the world outside, a place to feel safe and loved and warm and special.

Are their children’s biggest source of encouragement

Hold their kiddo’s accountable for when they do wrong

Enjoy being in their children’s presence

Don’t say, “Wait till your dad gets home”

Hold back from protecting their children from everything – they know that some things are only learned the hard way.

Love and respect their husbands in front of their children

Talk with God A LOT

Know when to let go and trust that God will bless the job you have done

Thank God always for the wonderful, beautiful, incredible, breath-taking privilege of being a MAMA!

So now, if you are a mama, I am tagging, YOU!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spring Reading Thing 2007

One of my favorite things to do is read, so when I found this Spring Reading Thing 2007 reading contest, I couldn't wait to compile my list of books that I intend to read this spring. Here is my list:

Melt Down - Patrick J. Michaels
I want to read this book to help me understand the whole global warming argument. I have read some on the other point of view too. I know what I think, but I want to learn more to substantiate what I already feel.

Second Calling - Dale Hanson Bourke
I love, love, love this author. She wrote some incredible devotional thought books on child rearing and when I was a young mom I really connected with her. This book is focusing on how empty-nest moms can have purpose with the next part of their lives.

Stronger Than You Think - Kim Eckert
I don't know anything about this author but the subtitle of the book is Becoming Whole Without Having to be Perfect. That yelled at me!

The Trouble With Islam Today - Irshad Manji
I heard this lady interviewed on tv and she impressed me so much I ordered her book. She talks about how mainstream Islamists do not agree with radical Islam and she says that the mainstream Islamists are the only ones who can stop the radical movement in regard to terrorism and treatment of women. I look forward to reading this one.


Chasing Francis - Ian Morgan Cron
This is the story of a pastor with burn-out. He comes close to losing his faith until he takes a pilgrimage to Italy following the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi.

White Chocolate Moments - Lori Wick

Beach House - Sally John

Quaker Summer - Lisa Samson

Freefall- Kristen Heitzmann

Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling - Neta Jackson
I love this series and this author!

Now, when I am going to get these books read is another topic!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Circus Circus and the Crucifixion

When my two older girls were five and six, we embarked on a family vacation to Disneyland. The distance we had to drive was far and the route indicated that Las Vegas would be a natural stopping place for the night. Having two little girls with us, we made the decision to stop at Circus Circus hoping that little eyes wouldn't be exposed to too many forms of "adult" entertainment. We pulled into the parking lot when suddenly I heard my five year old, Tara, break into sobs in the back seat. "I don't want to go here, I don't want to go here" she emphatically cried. After several minutes of trying to discover what the problem was, Tara told us that she didn't want to go here because as she said, "This is where they hung Jesus on the cross!" My husband and I looked at each other bewildered as to why in the world she would think this. Finally we were able to calm her down and discover the reason for her alarm. We assured her that Jesus was not hung on the cross here, that had happened long ago in a faraway place.
"Tara, honey, why do you think Jesus was killed here?"
"Because, mommy, you said they gambled for his clothes".

Ah...the innocence of a child.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hurricane Jess

This week marks an important milestone in our family's life. Our youngest child will be turning 17 years old and it leaves us breathless as we consider how quickly the years have flown by.

Even though we had three children and one in heaven, I knew my family wasn't complete. It just felt like there was someone missing. Someone who was supposed to be there who wasn't. I felt that feeling strongly. And then Jessica arrived. And as I held her wet, warm, squalling little body I knew we were complete. She arrived quickly. I was anticipating a long, long labor like the ones I experienced with her sisters before her. But she surprised me. And she surprised the nurse and doctor. One second I was dilated to 6 and then she was straining and pushing her way into the world, before any of us were prepared. I was relaxing in the hot tub, trying to deal with the labor pains, and suddenly I told the nurse the baby was coming NOW! The nurse tried to assure me it couldn't possibly be but when she looked into the water there was no denying that the world would soon be reckoning with a force we fondly nicknamed Hurricane Jess. It was only natural that Jess blew her way into the world because she has been a strong, steady, gale ever since!
I remember her wild, curly, uncontrollable hair that went in a thousand different directions. The only thing consistent about it was the long curl that hung down her forehead. She cried a lot, and I do mean a lot, and only ever wanted her mama. No one else would do. She hated being in the car seat and really was and still is a homebody. She loved her "soft" pants - no zipper or button please, and the seams of her socks had to be perfectly aligned with her little toes at every moment! And her little stuffed friend, Puffy, who started out a bunny and ended up an indescribable, indiscernible lump of cotton and fabric, went absolutely everywhere with her.

Starting school was not fun. Her daddy would take her and most mornings bring her back home with him. Mama would have to take her back, crying and kicking. Looking back I wish I would have waited until she was ready, or tried homeschooling, but those thoughts didn't occur to me then. All 5 year olds went to school and that was that. School still isn't her favorite thing!

As a little girl, Jess always had a strong conviction of right and wrong, to the point to tattling on herself! She does not tolerate injustice to the lesser privileged and always befriends those who are lonely. She never fails to say thank you - even for the ordinary everyday things like a meal! She still likes to be home and the thought of going to live in the dorm at college unnerves her more than she wants to admit. She loves movies and shopping, her dog Buddy, and spending time with her aunts who are more like sisters and her sisters who are more like friends.

As her dad and I are preparing ourselves for the day when the winds are still and the hollowness in our lives holds only the memories of the days that a hurricane force blew through our home, we are so proud and thankful and happy that Jess is ours. In spite of us, God grew her into a beautiful young lady and we are anxious to see what His plans are for her future. When she was a baby we received her as a gift from God and we offered her back to Him to be used to His glory. We have not been disappointed. As you step into the future Jess, always seek His will and follow His plan and you won't be disappointed either.

Happy Birthday honey!

This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Art Bookbindery, "Empowering Writers to Self Publish."