Monday, January 23, 2012

Fleeting Glimpse of Joy

There’s a way to wake up and not to live numb. The way to love life is to imagine losing it.

What an amazing idea. What a terrifying, amazing concept. To open the door, just a crack, just a glimpse, just enough to let in a shaft of light. An idea.

Life alone. Without the ones I love. Without the One I love.

To wake up to silence. Alone-ness. No doors closing. No showers running. No dishes left in the kitchen sink. No iron left on the bathroom counter. No ever dwindling pantry stores. No milk jug with less and less in it every day. No garage door opening at 6 every night. No mud tracked in on dirty boots. No pencils and papers laying around messy living rooms at the end of long days.

No more little things, daily rituals; no more. When I think of these things, when I open up that door of 'what could be' just a crack, I am flooded with gratefulness for what is.

The life I have; the noise, the expense, the hassles, the work, the PEOPLE; it is not just what brings me joy. It IS joy. They all are my joy.

When you wake to losing someone, you win love.

When you realize that what you have, you will lose — you win real eyes. You win grateful joy
~ Ann Voskamp

When I stop to consider this moment, this time in my life, these people that I share it with; it's all temporary. We will all stand before our Creator alone. It is in this realization that true, pure, unadulterated thankfulness lives.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joy Dare: Days 13-14

Joy Dare by Ann Voskamp

3 sounds you hear
1. My boys and their dad laughing and working together. It makes my heart happy that my husband and 17 and 20 year old boys are friends and that they are strong of mind and body and can work together.

2. My daughter giggling in the back room with her friend that slept over last night. Praise the Lord for good friends for my children.

3. The sound of the coffee pot on a cold morning.

3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God

1. I have a pool! I have wanted a pool for such a long time. I can’t wait to jump into it! (when it warms up a bit!)

2. We’re going here this summer. To the white sandy beaches. I can’t wait to see the sunset over the ocean.

3. One of these men is my father in law and the other is my sister-in-law’s father. Both men spent their lives serving the Lord. Both men could have chosen to use their extreme intelligence to increase their own coffers, but instead chose to work for the Lord as Bible Translators, increasing His kingdom. Examples of what it looks like to be a great man of the Lord are all around me and my family. I am blessed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

For These I Am Grateful. Joy Dare: Day 12

A warm, happy place on a cold, winter's night.

Violet, who really is the best dog ever.

And a fireplace...that will eventually be fixed and able to handle real flame.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Joy Dare: Days 9-11

Day 9 - A gift in your hand, A gift you walked by, a gift you sat with.

In my hand? My iPhone. Don’t laugh. It seems somehow irreverent to be so thankful for an iPhone, but seriously, how cool is today’s technology? I read a funny quote yesterday, something like ‘One day, I will tell my grandchildren I am older than the internet and blow their minds’. It’s TRUE! What on earth did we do before there was the Great and Mighty Google?

A gift I walked by? Every day in my new home, I walk by my laundry room. Did you catch that? A laundry ROOM! It’s not a closet off the hallway. It’s its own ROOM! Never in the history of forever has anyone been more grateful for a laundry room, I don’t think. My daughter even made me a sign for my new laundry room and I put a little M&M tin next to it to catch all the loose change.

A gift I sat with? This one is easy. My father in law. Yesterday I took lunch to my in laws. No real reason, just because. My MIL was having a hard day, so I took them some soup and some flowers to brighten up her day. And for a few minutes while my mother in law was out, I chatted with my FIL.

He is quite ill, living with the after-effects of 25 years of brain cancer and the damage the cancer itself and the treatment has caused. He can barely hear you or be heard himself, so those few minutes of quiet I spent with him were sweet. We had a rare moment of communication.

When my first son was born, 20 years ago we gave him the middle name of his grandfather, assuming that this would be the only grandchild he would ever meet. The doctors had not given him long to live. That was 20 years, 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild ago. Every day with my FIL simply being present on this earth, is a gift.

Day 10

A gift that’s sour, A gift that’s sweet, a gift that’s just right.

Sour? Humm. That’s a hard one for me. I don’t like sour. Literally or metaphorically, but I guess without the sour in juxtaposition to the sweet, we would not appreciate how wonderful the sweet really is.

Sweet? Hello? Chocolate! I cannot imagine a life without chocolate.

Just right?
This. This family God gave me. I would have chosen differently, probably. I wanted more children, but God said ‘No. This is just right.' And it is. Just right.

Day 11

Three yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy.

I LOVE yellow!

When we moved into this house I knew I wanted yellow somewhere. Yellow is happy, yellow is bright, yellow is cheery. You can’t be sad in a yellow room. Yellow will not allow sadness. I painted our dining room yellow. It was purple when we bought the house.

This room makes me happy.

We've had a few dreary days here so I picked up some yellow tulips the other day to bring a little cheer to the house. Tulips are my favorite flower and yellow tulips are like sunshine in a vase!

And, of course, the best yellow of all…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Joy Dare; Day 8

A light that caught you, a reflection that surprised you, a shadow that fell lovely.

The sunrise, new every morning. The reflection of the trees in the still, morning, pool. The shadows falling over the sun-golden field. Gods Beauty. It felt like He did it just for me on this morning.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Joy Dare: Day 7

Three Graces From People You Love…

Definition of Grace
A Basic Definition—lexical

The Greek word for grace is caris. Its basic idea is simply “non-meritorious or unearned favor, an unearned gift, a favor or blessings bestowed as a gift, freely and never as merit for work performed.”

Sticking with the traditional definition of ‘Grace’ I’m going to answer today’s Joy Dare with 3 literal gifts I have received from family.

1. After moving into our new and long awaited home, my Sister in Law, Ruthie, gave me this plaque. It sits on my windowsill just above my sink. Every time I see it, I can’t help but hum the old hymn. What a gift. It points me to my Lord with these words…

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

2. Another ‘house warming’ gift I received was the literal gift of warmth. My sister and her family gave us this fire pit when they came over on Christmas Eve, one week exactly after we’d moved in. They even brought firewood so we could light it right up and enjoy the God-given warmth of fire, and the heart-warmth of family gathered around it.

3. The next Grace I received from people I loved is the gift of laughter from my family. We have some strange and silly traditions in this family.

First, my Mother in Law is quite the jokster. She has bought every family member (and then some!) a gnome. Our gnomes are of the roaming variety. She tends to move them around to odd places when she’s here visiting. Other, younger, members of the family have joined in the game and now my gnome ends up in some very odd palces. This is where I found Harold the Roaming Gnome after my twin nephews left the other day.

(The PukPuk is up at the top of the window. Sorry, not the best shot.)

Second, we have the odd tradition of ‘The Golden PukPuk’ . PukPuk is Iatmul for Crocodile. Iatmul is a language group in Papua New Guinea. My In-Law’s translated the Bible into their laughage. When they came home from New Guinea, they brought several artifacts including many PukPuks. This particular PukPuk was painted gold and somehow finds its way into the newest house in the family. I turned around one day after getting something out of my pantry and lo’ and behold, there was the Golden PukPuk. He was last residing in my Brother-in-Law Eric’s house, so I suspect Eric helped it find its way to my window. It makes me smile every time I see it.

And finally, my other Sister-in-Law Rachel gave me this sign. She bought it a while back and held onto it for a long time in faith that one day I’d have an actual laundry ROOM to put it in. Now I do. I love it. Also, I am really hoping NO ONE takes the sign seriously. That could be awkward.

I love my family. My side, my husband’s side, and those we’ve grafted in. My cup overfloweth.

(January's Joy Dare Daily List)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 6, Joy Dare.

One thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart.

My Bag…

See that green thing in the corner of my bag? That’s my daughter’s epi pen. She’s fatally allergic to all dairy. I carry one and she carries one. There is one in the car, several in the house, one at the church, basically there is one everywhere she spends any time. She is almost 13. She’s only had to have it administered once. She’s had shots of epinephrine several times at the ER when she’s had a reaction but only once did she have to have the epi pen used on her.

I am grateful for that. I remember being completely overwhelmed when I was told my 4th child had an anaphylactic allergy to dairy. I’d already set up how we eat in this family, with the other children, and it involved a LOT of dairy. The panic. How would I feed this child, how would I keep her safe? Dairy is EVERYWHERE. She’ll never have a normal life. You know what? She has a totally normal life. It’s not such a big deal at home anymore. We’ve figured it out. She’s figured it out. I still panic sometimes when she’s in a new environment or away from me for a long period, but I’m learning to leave it with the Lord. Only He can take care of her anyway.

My Fridge…

Well, just the fact that I have two fridges makes me giddy with happiness! We lived in a small space for such a long time. One small fridge, a tiny pantry; so tiny in fact, that Annika pointed out yesterday that the cabinet in my bathroom is as big as our old pantry.

Now I can really stock up. I can have enough food around to not have to go to the grocery every other day (I wish that were an exaggeration, I was literally at the grocery store every other day). There is something that makes me feel a little safe, content, happy, when my pantry and fridge are filled; like I have all that is necessary to provide healthy meals for my family. That is one of the most basic jobs of the mom after-all. Fill their bellies.

My heart…

That’s easy. This is my heart. My family. My children.

It now goes out into the world and walks around. Drives. Rides motorcycles. Works in unsafe environments. Makes choices for itself and how it will live this life God has given it, outside my body.

As Elizabeth Stone so aptly put it… “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”

Go here to see January's Daily Joy Dare

Thursday, January 5, 2012

1000 Gifts: It begins.

I know, I know. Have I been living under a rock?

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

I am just now getting to this book. To be frank, I don't like self-help style books, Christian or otherwise. They bug me. The whole name of the genre is off. SELF help. If I can do it myself, why do I need your book, or program, or snake oil... (Cynical much, you ask.)

The Ladies Bible Study I'm a part of has chosen this book to study. We are to read one chapter a week and then we are going to discuss it. I snatched up the book when I had a couple of minutes between the chaos and the noise. I am a fast reader; I'll just skim the first chapter. Um, yeah. Those of you who've already read the book can stop laughing now. I got maybe 2 pages in. You cannot skim Ann Voskamp's book. You must absorb it. Her language is poetic, her topics deep. You must slow down and digest every word.

After making it through most of the first chapter I've decided I need to participate. So here we go. Days 1 - 5

1. Three things about yourself you are grateful for.
(ah, starting off with the hardest! YIKES) I guess...that I love fiercely, I feel deeply, and I am working on loving without condition.

2. A gift outside, inside, on a plate.


God has given me a new view to gaze upon. I am so terribly thankful.


I am so thankful for a new, soft thing for under my feet.

On a plate...

I am grateful for the realization that I am far from perfect and I am so thankful God has given me the ability to laugh at myself.

3. 3 lines you overheard that were grace.

Overheard in the store between a hunched over old man and what was obviously his daughter helping him shop..

"We're going so slowly, I'm sorry it's taking so long."
"Don't worry dad, there is nowhere else I'd rather be." Said as she patted his hand. It brought tears to my eyes. I am thankful love like this still exists and I got to see it in action today.

4. One gift old, new and blue.

This photo contains all of the above. My sweet sister in law popped over today to bring me these blue plates and white and blue frame that she had on display in her old home, but that she has not found a spot for in her new one. She knew I wanted blue plates to put on my newly yellow walls. In the photo is my husband’s grandmother; a lovely woman, now living with the Lord. I am grateful to have married into such an amazing Christian family heritage, and I'm blessed to have sisters in law who are also my friends.

5. Something you're reading, you’re making, you’re seeing.
I'm reading through this One Thousand Gifts book with purposefulness. I WILL learn to be more grateful. I'm making progress. I'm seeing hope.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Mystery of the Sudsy Septic System

I got up with Dave this morning to enjoy a cup of coffee before he left for work. I glanced out of my back window while drinking my coffee; I love to do this in the early morning. I am usually greeted with the happy sounds of goats (baby goats even!) frolicking around in the field behind our house, birds chittering and flying about, and Violet running around the yard chasing bunnies. Not so this morning. This morning I was greeted by a sudsy mass seeping out around the cement cover of our septic system. I’m new to this whole septic system business, but I was pretty sure that was not supposed to happen.

Dave left for work, laughing and saying “Have fun with that.” Nice. Such a helper he is. I called the company that is responsible for our septic upkeep. The man I spoke to chuckled and said he’d never seen that before. Really? They’ve been in business for over 30 years! We’ve been the owners of a septic system for less than one month and we’ve already created an anomaly. Super. He said he’d be out to check it sometime this afternoon.

I thought about it and realized the only recent change was new laundry soap. I’d recently purchased some of the ultra concentrated variety. When all the kids got up I asked them if anyone had done laundry the night before. Yes, said Annika. Turns out, she put in 2 caps full instead of the ½ cap full that she should have. Uhh, yeah. I think that’ll do it.

I called the guy back and told him that I don’t think he needed to come out after-all. The suds were dissipating and the problem had been solved. WAY too much ultra concentrated laundry soap (and perhaps a mom that needs to pay more attention! Apparently Annika ALWAYS uses 2 caps full! NO WONDER we’re going through laundry soap so fast!) He chuckled some more and told me to call him back if we have any other problems.

Well, at least I brought a little laughter to someone’s day and I bet the inside of my septic tanks are clean, soft, and smell of lavender.