Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

We were THRILLED to break 80 on Memorial Day. It felt so good to wear summer clothes (how easy to get out the door...no coats!), only to be back in the 50s again today. Tonight is supposed to be in the 30s. We plowed up the garden patch but the question still remains of when to plant.

It looks like another year of zoo visits is in store for our brood. With Maddie now of age (to pay for admission) it is officially a steal of a deal for our family to buy an annual membership. $10 more than our tickets cost that day...you gotta love big families!

Here are some pics from our day...
(look at all those cute little white legs!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dr. Kinlaw on Promises

I have never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Kinlaw...but through my husband's interactions with him and largely through reading his devotional (This Day With the Master) I have grown to deeply respect this man, his writings, work, but mostly his journey of faith that he shares so freely and sincerely. I loved these words taken from a recent interview in The High Calling, a publication of the Francis Asbury Society.

I think there are some people who get specific promises, like the promise to Abraham that he would have a son. That was very explicit. I've never had those kinds of things. But that doesn't mean one hasn't lived on promises and out of promises. The kinds of promises that have moved me the most have been the ones like, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." That means bread and meat and daily sustenance, all of the needs of life. Now here is how that has worked for me. I've had the privilege that, as I have moved around, I've never talked salary with anyone. The question was, does God want me there" And if He wants me there, salary is His business. I was indoctrinated in that way of thinking. I don't deserve any credit for thinking that way. I knew people who lived that way and it was impressed upon me. I can give you plenty of examples and illustrations of how God has kept that promise.

Another is "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want." Now that's a promise, a promise about specifics: "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he leads me in the paths of righteousness..." This connects with the promise Jesus gave concerning the coming of the Spirit in John's gospel, "He will lead you, guide you, direct you into all truth."

Father help me be:
A seeker first,
help me lay off my worries about daily stuff,
increase my faith in green pastures, still waters for all God's children around the world and here in our home...no matter what our separate circumstances.
Let me feel Your hand that leads us on...let us know (relationally) your truth.

Best quote

A dear & brilliant friend just told me this on the phone yesterday and I loved it! She said, "May I give you permission to NOT be your children's cruise director this summer!"

I am so excited for summer, for my boys to be home with us; I'm excited for the different activities summer will bring...there will be projects, there will be friends, there will be vacation, there will be sports and swimming, yes, there will be shuttling back and forth....but you know what else....there will be days of nothing and doesn't that sound blessed?

Monday, May 12, 2008

happy day to "deb daughter"

Message from Maddie:
What she wishes for Aunt Deb...
"new fancy shoes
(and she could buy new fancy shoes for me because mine broke)
and a new dress;
that she could move and
we could move and
we could have sleepovers;
and that we could have a picnic outside!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

happy "mommmmma's" day to you!

Mom has always been loyal. Fiercely loyal. Loyal to Dad, loyal to her kids, loyal to her friends. Never wavering in her love, her commitment, her passion. Always loyal.

Mom has always been sacrificial. She always looks for ways to serve others, to help others, to make others succeed. I remember many times Mom waiting until she was sure that there was enough for everyone -- even for everyone to have second helpings -- before taking more than a token amount of food. To a fault, she would put those in her care above herself.

Mom has always been courageous. From fighting through recurrent illnesses (how many times can one person get pneumonia?) to recovering from the rollover accident in Ekalaka to lying with a broken hip for hours on the sidewalk in a Montana winter to facing new churches and new challenges with cheerfulness and hope, Mom has always had a brave heart.

That -- and a whole lot more -- is my Mom. I'm proud of her. I love her.

Happy Mother's Day.


This mother's day weekend I have been rather sick. Being sick has it's advantages...it reminds you of the gift of health...and in this beautiful but hectic world we live in, sometimes it is the only way we truly slow down. It's given me some time to reflect on motherhood and the double blessings I am experiencing in my life right now. First I have the supreme joy of mothering four of the greatest bundles of joy ever known to man....and I get to share the journey with not only their wonderful father, but also the love of my life. Secondly, I am blessed to experience a deep and wonderful friendship with my own mother whose example to me is one I constantly try to emulate. It is to her I "rise up" this morning to try and "bless her" as a small token of all the ways she has blessed my life completely.

The thing that stands out most to me about my mom this year is how much she has always mastered the art of contentment. I don't ever remember hearing her complain. When she married my dad at 28 (most of her community in those days thought she was destined to be an old maid) he took her to Canada on their honeymoon and took her on a boy scouts canoe trip! Yes, you read that right, honeymoon!!! Now if he were here he would loudly protest that it was at the "end" of their honeymoon and they had done some very nice romantic things on the way to the camp, but seriously...nothing much you can say to defend that. My mom didn't even know how to swim. I can remember years later when we were on a canoe trip and my dad put her, myself (probably 4 years old) and another female student (I think) in the same canoe. Sure enough our canoe was the one to overturn...I climbed onto my mom's shoulders (making it even more difficult for my mom to try to swim) and my dad...swam after the canoe!! Now in his defense we all had on lifejackets and were not in danger of drowning...but we were quite shaken up. My mom was my dad's partner in his rafting business in every sense of the word. She lived in a house full of river guides in the summer, she packed "the best lunches in Ohiopyle" for the company's daily excursions, she traveled to Canada and all over the U.S. to experience week long float trips with my dad (often with little girls in tow). It's hard to imagine this was "living the dream" to my mom in the same sense that it was to dad...but that's the art of contentment. Years later she still keeps in touch with several of those river guides...some are like family. She loves to relive those days....my dad loved them so much and in loving him she found herself content and deeply happy.

Another lesson my mom has taught me is to find delight in small things. A good cup of coffee, a fresh slice of bread from the Italian bakery, fresh strawberries (of course picked by her fresh that morning at the patch) over vanilla icecream, a call from any of her daughters, a visit from one of her sisters, the smiles of her grandchildren, anything they say, learning to master her computer, delighting in high speed internet and keeping tabs of her grandchildren through blogging...all of these are ways to absolutely make her day. It is so easy to make her happy...she works so hard at bringing happiness to those she loves, and the least efforts to try and tangibly return it are readily received and delighted over.

My mom hates being idle. It has long been a joke between my sisters and I that if mom is coming, make sure that the fridge is cleaned out, the oven is sparkling and the laundry is totally caught up...because she will find what is undone and put it to rights in no time at all. This spring when I have called home, almost every time she has been outside working her yard (she's 72 and it's a 2 acre lot)!

She often channels that industrious spirit into helping others. She definitely has a problem saying "no," but the flipside of that is that she has passed on a heritage of being quick to help others. I know how important it is in this day and age to draw boundaries allowing ourselves to make family time more important than any self-imposed guilt by saying "no." But I am thankful she taught me to hurt for others, to be quick to feel what it is like to walk in another's shoes and if at all in my powers to help, to in no way withold that help. I think growing up in a household of 8 children who lived in the depression era greatly shaped my mom in this area. As Brokaw correctly pinned that era, "the greatest generation," I think we would all benefit from transposing the lessons they learned so well (and so hard) into our own modern lives of much too easy privilege and right.

Supportive is a simple word that speaks a lot about my mom. As I already wrote, she supported my dad in all his dreams and undertakings. Even when his brain was battling Alzheimer's and Parkinson's she happily obliged his desire to buy an enormous raft that she knew he would probably never ride. Later she said she had absolutely no regrets about those decisions. He had great joy in trying to plan more river trips in his last days...and that she said was worth more than any bill. I know my sisters and father would heartily acknowledge that she was the wind beneath all our successes. She did so much to help us through any difficulties we encountered, and you've never seen someone more proud of each of our successes (and in a way that made us all delight in each other's success).

Finally, simply yet profound, she loves easily and completely. The picture at the top of this post was taken from her trip up to see us in April (for Josiah's birthday). We visited the zoo in Chicago and the following park bench signs brought a tear to her eye, made her grab my elbow and point them out.

"In loving memory of my wife, she loves this place..."

"and I love her, we'll meet again someday."

She will never be the same without my dad, yet she still "smiles at the future" (Proverbs 31:25). I would like to tell her today that none of us would be the same without her touches of grace she has continually poured into our lives. The greatest compliment anyone could ever pay me would be to tell me I am like my mother. But the truth is I know her too well, and know that is a too high of compliment. Thank you for setting such a marvelous example for me. As Maddie said to me a few weeks back, "Mom, I want to be just like you!" What a humbling knowledge but for the grace of God at work in our lives.

Proverbs 31:25-30
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
but you excel them all,"
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

"I can pass on a curse or a blessing...generations will reap what I sow." Sara Groves

Friday, May 9, 2008


...for the economic stimulus package!! Can't begin to understand HOW this is going to stimulate the economy (by passing out "free" money) but it sure is fun to see it sitting it one's bank account. We are not stimulating the economy one bit...but Dave would be mighty proud of us!!

Tom and I continue to enjoy and feel inspired by our Dave Ramsey class. We love the regular date night each Thursday night. Last night I felt like a kid in church again, with a bad case of the giggles, and you know it's probably not the right place, but for some reason it makes you all the more tickled. Tom is really witty and it was really fun to listen to his running monologue throughout the night. Sometimes, after you've been married a bit, the same jokes aren't quite as funny as they used to be...but than there are the moments where you realize no one could make you laugh harder.

The evening ended even better. Tom and I really enjoy the TV show The Office on the rare occasions we actually remember or are able to sit down together. This was the first time this year I actually remembered to try and tape it while we were away. It was in my opinion, classic Office style humor......but the tape ran out 10 minutes shy of the ending. When the Cornell guy crashes his golf cart....we both laughed out SO loud...only to then see a blank screen...followed by great groans...and then more laughter.

Okay, The Office doesn't really matter, but the lesson I was reminded of last night does--it is really important to learn to cultivate a spirit of laughter with your spouse (and not just laughter at what the kids do/say). Laughter has weathered us through many storms of life and I look forward to all the funny memories left to be shared.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Congrats to Dara and Thiago

This post is for all my old college friends. I was so surprised to recently participate in one of those e-mails where you answer 20 questions about unusually mundane items (like ice cream preference) to learn the very exciting news that my friend Dara had gotten married in London! That was definitely not mundane news...after a few e-mails I was able to hear more details and then see these beautiful pictures. I asked her if she'd mind my sharing them because I know some of you will delight in them just as I did. Her new husband is Thiago...they initially met at church where he played drums...and they are moving to Scotland early this summer. She is a beautiful friend (inside and out) and I've never seen her look more so than in the following pictures. Sending much love to their new family from our side of the "pond" to theirs.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

looks like another great Masterpiece

This Sunday night, Cranford (by Elizabeth Gaskill...also wrote Wives & Daughters...Kimber just introduced her to me this year) will be on Masterpiece Theatre. If you long for another trip back to the Dickens/Austen era, then this will be right up your alley.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

a recent assignment

The assignment was to create an imaginary animal (right down this boy's alley) and his writing is in italics. He is spelling the "ok kindergarten way" where he is encouraged to try and spell phonetically the way he thinks it sounds.

My name is Zookeeper Josiah

Here is my Jagu-lion

It is big and red and orange.

It like to scerp chry byrc. (scrape tree bark)

It like to srich uat. (stretch out)

take your child to work day

Cole anticipated last Thursday for the entire week...and seemed to think that working with Dad lived up to all his expectations. I highly suspect two reasons for this: first he really loves spending time with his Dad and really enjoyed hobnobbing with all Tom's colleagues but we cannot also overlook the fact that he got to play on Dad's computer in the afternoon!

Tom was highly amused by a comment Cole made about an hour into the day...."So do you just like sit here all day?"