Faith · Perspective

Borderless

Our pastor says every Sunday: God fed – Spirit led.

I like it. It sticks with me.

Another quick phrase that stays in my mind: God is God and God is Good. Always.

I’ve been making the effort to get out of bed before everyone else in the morning. Tiptoeing down the bedroom hall, I go to the kitchen and make my morning beverage. About a minute after that, I sneak down to the basement to sit with my study Bible in my robe with a lamp on. No TV. No phone. No overhead lights. Yes cozy blanket.

IMG_0976
Morning View

It’s been mentioned before that I don’t have time in my schedule to attend a regular group study. This is not my life season for that. Instead, my goal is to get those 20-30 minutes of devotion at least 5 days a week.

I finished reading thru the book of James about a week ago. Picking a passage, I read thru it all once. Then, verse by verse, reading the commentary and being mindful about what it says, I study it. I try to apply it to what is going on around me. Who can I pray for? What does this make me feel? What does this make me think? Am I convicted or uplifted by this passage? What is the application of this for me and others?

James is full of practical application. He says it in black and white. It wasn’t like the passage from Isaiah I read for my scripture at church: Isaiah 28:23-28. (The commentary was necessary for me to get the point of this one – each of us is God-created and unique. We each require something different and should pay attention to the special needs of those around us.)

I started on the book of Psalms at the end of last week. Psalms 7 and 8 were my focus this morning. Psalm 7 focuses on praying for those who wrong you instead of taking revenge. It felt sorrowful and heart-clutching. How often do you immediately pray for those who lie, steal, back-stab, or hurt you or your children instead of lashing back? Ouch. Touché. Message received.

Psalm 8 is one of joy. I often marvel at how God loves us even at our worst. I struggle to love myself during hard times! Why create such insidious creatures as humans? Because He knows how beautiful (heart, soul, kindness, love, compassion) we can truly be. He has placed His beloved children above the angels.

He put the world in our care! Man, we’ve mucked that up too… Let’s try to step it up in that department, shall we? Take the time to show a neighbor or a child the beauty of nature. Listen for the birds and wind. Appreciate the open sky and voluminous clouds. Conserve water. Recycle. Don’t be wasteful. Treat all creatures with respect – every living thing has a purpose.

Speaking of children, my young crew at children’s church – although confused about many things 🙂 – have faith. Faith that the sun will rise. Faith that birds will fly. Faith that God loves them. They don’t question it. It takes faith to accept that God will take care of the things that are beyond our humble realm of knowledge.

Before anyone writes me off as simple-minded, lacking in scientific knowledge, or thinks that I live in a religious bubble, please recognize this: Understanding the mechanics of the world and having faith are NOT mutually exclusive. Tough concept in our current cultural atmosphere. When you accept how borderless God is, it is amazing how everything else finds a place within that lack of borders.

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Childhood Fort

It occurred to me as I was cleaning out flower beds in the gorgeous spring sun that I had a wonderful childhood. I’ve appreciated it before, but as a parent, my perspective shifts and deepens.

I was trimming down the pampas grass. It grew to about 12ft tall and the bundle of stems was approximately 18 inches in diameter. Each stem was 0.5-1″ thick. The winter had stripped most of the loose layers off.

pampas grass

I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect those stems would be for constructing a fort!

Did you ever build forts when you were a kid using the random branches, boards, and other materials that you scrounged up? Did you dig into a natural low spot and set up a shack? Find that perfect arrangement of tree branches to pretend you had a house?

My sisters and I built forts everywhere we went – our house, the shelter belt of trees, down by the creek, at our grandparents, the trees behind the church between baseball games, etc. The list could go on and include anywhere we traveled from ages 5-12.

My dad lost half a dozen hammers to our construction escapades. He found the majority when he cleared out the area where we built our magnum opus – two stories, scrap lumber with wooden fence posts, a ladder, door, and window. The neighbor boys (2 miles away) came to help us put on the roof. We took fabric scraps and nailed them up for curtains. It was amazing and apparently full of dad’s lost hammers!

cabbagepatch-618x412Many lunchboxes filled with PB&J, cucumbers, and little Thermoses of water accompanied us out to the fort. Our favorite dolls would spend the day playing house or exploring “the forest.” When it was time to come in, my mom would honk the car horn. She does this now with our kids, who adventure around the farm on their own.

As I trimmed and stacked the pampas grass, I felt unbelievably lucky to have those experiences. Carefree in the country, sheltered from the world’s cares. Basking in the summer sunlight and smelling like the trees and grass when we came in at dark.

I want that kind of idyllic memory for my children: experiencing the freedom of imagination and nature. The simplicity and creativity of childhood illustrated in the building of a fort.

I kept the stems and trimmings.

Although we arrived home from a birthday party with only 30 minutes until their bedtime, we went outside to play until the sun was gone. My son’s eyes lit up when I told him he could have all the material I cleaned out of the flower beds. With excitement, last night they built their own fort.

Creativity · Family · Perspective

Child-View Photography: POV

Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy. In an effort to lighten things up, here is the world from my children’s point of view. Not necessarily in focus or properly framed, but authentic child-view.

Every once in awhile, one of them sneaks my phone and takes random pictures. 99% of the time, my phone is completely off limits to them. Exceptions are few and far between.

I give you the photography of M (age 4) and T (age 6).

IMG_0689
Outdoor Scenes. And a good reminder that I need to get the flower beds and yard ready for spring!

The above porch project (rip it off and pour a new pad and patio) is the LAST thing on my husband’s “honey-do” list. It is also kind of on my father-in-law’s honey-do list as he does concrete work and is a brick mason. Now to coordinate the two…

IMG_0688IMG_0690

A nice evening, early spring sunset. We like to sit on this swing in the evenings and listen to the night hawks and cicadas in the summer.

I find it entertaining what they focus on. Truly fascinating to see what they notice.

This is our 14 year old 19# house cat. He’s been with us since before we married. Still has his claws and does not, nor ever did, have the ambition to use them. He also enjoys small children carrying him around and key lime pie yogurt.

These two were M. A picture she painted, then continued with an ink pen to create on. Not her cleanest work, but I refuse to judge or have an opinion about free-style child artwork. Her dance shoe. We are wrapping up her first few months in dance. She’s become a much more creative kitchen dancer since starting class. Now it’s not just me…

Finally this. I hope this is what they always leave my presence with.

IMG_0528

 

Perspective · Uncategorized

Carpool playlist

Yesterday’s carpool playlist. Short and eclectic with my personalized commentary.

Number 1.

image

This song has mad bongo skills and is one of my personal favorites for kitchen dancing. Also a dance song at the end of “Despicable Me.”

Number 2.

image

I just want to celebrate… Another day of living! Generally speaking, this is my personal motto. I know how fragile life is and that the faultiness of the human body is inevitable. So celebrate today and that your heart is beating. You have a purpose today!

Number 3.

image2.jpeg

No amazing message here. I just enjoy Panic! At the Disco and his amazing vocals.

Number 4.

imageI enjoy singing to this one. My parents thought her voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard when I was in high school.

Number 5.

image

Come on Patty. Get it together…  Classic country with a great beat. Seriously can’t beat Prime Country if you’re a fan of country music.

Yesterday I had about 90 miles in carpool driving with school drop off, then preschool pickup at 11, followed by the 3:15 1st grade crew and being the drop-off for CLASH youth group. And of course, my job in between all these jaunts to the school and back out again to the office, occasionally grabbing filters or a part for the guys in the shop. I get to do almost the exact same thing today!

You may have noticed KIDZBOP on the menu. KIDZBOP makes my ears bleed… but occasionally I’ll click on it as a distraction for my littles. If the song is terrible and has a bad message, I turn it off again.

I introduced the kids to Scott Joplin a few days ago in the form of the Entertainer. It’s such a fun song to play on the piano! They weren’t quite sure about its entertainment value… Guess I’ll just have to keep introducing them to new – read it: old – music!

Family · Perspective

The Christmas Letter – Pt 1

The Christmas Letter. Do you write one? As a 30-something, I remember the excitement of getting the letters in the mail. They came from cousins, aunts and uncles, and family friends. Handwritten of course – it was the 80’s and 90’s. They told of family vacations, births, deaths, graduations, and the highlights of the year. They were part of the Christmas tradition.

I do still write the traditional letter. Some friends have shifted to just a card, some go email, and others stick an update on facebook. I’m NEVER the first to get the letter out and occasionally don’t get it mailed until the end of the month. I get giddy when I open Christmas cards and display them happily on my desk for a full month. They start at the beginning of December and usually end mid-January. The number varies by year.

school-calendar-clip-art-school-calendar-spynww-clipart

Fast forward to 2010. That was the year we had our first child. Suddenly, I had something to write about. Before that, all my friends and I were doing the same things. We were almost all married, but none of us had kids. We enjoyed tailgating together and college football and basketball games. We traveled on spontaneous vacations that had no set stopping points and flitted from one place to another. There was no point in writing about any of this because we actually rendezvoused more than once or twice a year.

2010: after a very long (ok so almost all pregnancies are the same length…) and fun filled (lots and lots of all day vomiting – no “oh you’re pregnant!” glow for me) pregnancy, our first child was born. The months FLEW by and suddenly it’s Christmas letter time! Do I smash it full of pictures of our little guy? Of course I do. They don’t want to read about me vomiting or how I’m now an expert on baby poop colors. The masses just want to see pictures of this kid! So I obliged with pictures and short captions.

2011: more pictures and a few cute stories.

2012: Baby #2! If it’s possible to believe, there was more vomiting with the second child, but I left that out. I was the most pregnant lady at the pool on 4th of July. It was so hot and I was just a few days shy of 40 weeks. Some friends and I took our crew to the DQ for ice cream before the pool. I couldn’t fit in the booth. Yikes. That actually did make the Christmas letter… I also smushed a TON of pictures of my two littles into the Christmas letter that year.

2013: More kid pictures. More cute stories. She’s walking. He’s building things and jumping off of couches. Tra la la la la!

2014… 2015… You get the picture. And here we are 2016. What do I write? Do I go timeline? Do I go humorous? Do we focus on the kids and gloss over my husband and I? Do I go with the traditional Christmas pictures or mix it up with refrigerator magnet pictures without a Christmas message? So many options!!!

I guess I’ll just have to see where my mood leads me. That’s part of the joy of being on the receiving end of one of our letters. You get whatever I write and mail accompanied by a few toothy grins in nice clothes.

 

Family · Perspective

Glasses

I’ve been wearing glasses for almost 27 years- starting the ripe old age of 7. In 5th grade, my vision had degraded enough that I was self-conscious about the thickness. Enter into my life: contacts. Fast forward to being 20… my eyes were still increasing in correction… And now here we are. I’m legally blind without correction. To add insult to injury, a few years ago my optometrist suggested that I might need reading glasses coupled with my contacts. He was right, but boy glassesdid I fight that suggestion.

 

It seemed to be the most concrete proof of aging that had yet presented itself. Did turning 30 bother me? Not at all. 30 was exactly like 29. But WHOA! Reading Glasses??? Bring on the geriatric diet, shoes, and cranked-up thermometer.

 

I know. This sounds so vain. And it truly is. Vanity, plain and simple vanity. I’m poignantly reminded of this today, the eve of a funeral for a close friend’s grandmother. She lived to be in her 90’s – a beautiful, gracious, graceful 90+years. Soft-spoken, caring, and welcoming, she was genuinely interested in what you had to say. She  was the definition of a classy lady.

 

There have been and are women in my life that I look up to – my grandmothers, my mother, Fama, Doris, MJ, among others – and what I see in them is grace. If they cared about something petty like needing reading glasses, they didn’t show it. It wasn’t vainly broadcast. They quietly took it in stride all the while being kind, welcoming, and caring to those around them. They knew each day was and IS a gift.

 

I guess I needed those reading glasses for two reasons.

  1. The ability to see and read clearly. This is obvious.
  2. The ability to think and put life clearly in perspective. This situation called me out on my own vanity and thoughts on aging. Aging is something to be celebrated. Each year, each birthday, each eye-wrinkle I earn from smiling is all an example of life lived. If I needed glasses to clearly see that, then ply me with correction.

My hope is that I can do it as gracefully and graciously as those classy, strong women I look up to.