August 31, 2007

Rocking our babies

I was reading on another blog this morning and getting an update from a family who is over in China getting their baby girl. She is the one of the authors of Five in a Row, the curriculum that we're using. Go read this post to see a beautiful picture of how Christ meets our needs when we come to Him.

As Becky Jane's writing about Laney beginning to rock herself to sleep, I couldn't help but think of how often I try to rock myself to sleep, comfort myself or meet my own needs in all sorts of ways. Christ is waiting with open arms for me to run to Him so He can quiet my restless heart, comfort me, fill up my dry soul with living water. "No more rocking yourself to sleep, Baby Girl!" Becky says. Jesus is saying that same thing to you and me...

I'm Invisible

My aunt shared this with me today and I thought it was worth passing on.


It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell
peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I
brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with
admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see
finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime
because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM

August 28, 2007

Mattie stories

Well, lest any of you think Mattie has gotten any less walking-tornado-ish lately, I'll assure you that's not the case...

Yesterday: dumped the whole box of baking soda on the living room carpet. (Hey, at least my vacuum bag smells good now!)

Today: came into the kitchen dripping wet from head to exaggeration. I asked her where she got the water and she took me into my bathroom. She had gotten herself a cup from the kid dish drawer in the kitchen, gone into my bathroom and proceeded to dump LOTS of cupfulls of water over her head!

And these things happen while I'm doing legitimate things...not just ignoring my children!

Two bits about manna

This morning was my first week at the women's Bible Study. We're doing A Woman's Heart, by Beth Moore. Today was the third video, but my first of the series. It was great! Anyway, she was talking about the time when the Lord was feeding manna to sustain the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. Two things she said really struck a chord with me...

1) The manna was not just physical food, but the Israelites need for manna kept them humble and dependent on God.
God was not just feeding them by providing the manna, He was doing it in a way that the grumbling Israelites could not take credit for or help with, so they had to trust Him. It's like that proverb (Proverbs 30:8,9) that asks something like this... "make me rich enough to not be hungry and steal but poor enough to need you to provide for me." I want God to keep me in a place where I know how much I need Him.

2) The Israelites had to get up and out of their tent every morning (except Sunday)to get the manna.
Beth Moore was talking about sin and how we need to get that sin into the light of Christ every day before it grows and grows. We need the fresh bread of Christ every day to sustain us. God doesn't get angry if we miss a "quiet time" with Him, but how much more we are blessed from that time when we choose to give it to Him! God is faithful to meet me when I make myself available to Him. He loves that time with me and it blesses Him.

This doesn't really have to do with the manna, but she also mentioned that our daily troubles are what keep the ground level among us. Knowing we all struggle can keep our nose out of the air (when we're doing well) and help us keep our chin up (when we're struggling).

Lamentations 3:19-25
Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord's lovingkindness indeed never ceases for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

August 25, 2007

Mattie got her first.......

Flower girl invitation!!! Pam & Eddie's (our best "couple" friends of 10+ years) daughter, Ashley, is getting married March 1st and asked if Mattie would be her flower girl! Let me just tell you, shopping for those little white dresses and tiaras is so fun! I can't wait to see her all dressed up with her curls sticking out of a rosebud tiara and carrying a little white purse! Won't she be so cute?!

(Yes, I remember saying I won't know what to do with a girl...and I still don't what I'll do when she's 11. For now, we're doing just fine!)

P.S. Florida pics coming soon...I'm having a hard time narrowing down which ones to post!

August 15, 2007

Florida Vacation Chapter 2

I have a few minutes before I crash tonight, so I thought I'd share about our day. We had the best one yet!

I have been having lots of restaurant food since Saturday...for me, that means lots of corn (to which I'm allergic). So, I've been feeling impatient, cranky, down and irritable for several days. It just makes for long days when I don't feel well and the kids and I pay for it. (I don't consciously choose to be irritable, it just ends up happening and I don't really see it.) Yesterday I did a lot better and ate food with no/less corn and in turn, felt so much better today! Aaaah...what a blessing!

Monday and Tuesday we spent most of our tijme at the pool, only going down to the beach in the evenings. Today Kjirstin wanted to spend some time on the sand before she had to go home tonight, so we went there instead of the pool. We had a great time! Jacob actually played in the gulf with us (with 3-5' waves!!) in his life jacket floating all by himself!! It took some encouragement to begin with as he was really nervous, but I let him hang on for dear life for awhile and he got used to it. I was so proud of him! He was floating up and down like a pro by the end of it! Mattie loved it surprise there. :) She got quite a few face-fulls of water and took it in stride. These two are definitely polar opposites with water!!

While we were out in the gulf, Jacob got a lot of salt water in his mouth too. And he didn't handle it so, um, gracefully at first. Tonight at bedtime I was telling him he should just keep his mouth closed when he's out there and then he wouldn't get saltwater in his mouth. He just said, "But I just have so many questions I want to ask you, Mom." Is that Jacob or is that Jacob?!?! We all got a good chuckle out of that one!

After the ocean we went into the pool where Jacob got brave and decided to follow in Mattie's footsteps and jump off the side with no lifevest...getting his head wet! (I know...very boring to some of you to read, but this is major in my daily life!) He decided this isn't so bad for now. But we might be starting all over tomorrow...

Mattie is getting darker by the minute, I believe. She has not needed sunscreen yet, in spite of the fact that all of us are needing SPF 4-30 in varying degrees to keep from frying. This is day 3. I think by day 10 she's going to look like we picked her up in Mexico.

I must say on these trips I realize how much I count on Robert on a daily basis. Mom, Dad and Kjirstin are a huge help with the kids, but there is a difference when there is another parent around. It's different when he's working out of town, because it's all pretty controllable at home. But being out at restaurants, stores, and lots of public places is just tiring without him. What a blessing he is to me!

Off to relish a few quiet minutes while I can still keep my eyes open...

August 14, 2007

We made it!

Well, we survived the road trip!

(We're in St. Pete Beach, FL. My dad has a conference each year down here at the Island Grand Tradewinds Resort and Mom & Dad treat us to a trip! This is our fourth year here. Robert had to work, so he stayed home this year. He knows how much we love it, so he's happy for us to come.)

Back to the road trip...It took us 9 hours on Saturday and then 4 more on Sunday...the shortest amount of time we've done yet! The kids did really well during the ride. Mattie didn't nap Friday, amazingly enough, but she was remarkably happy still! She and Jacob were soooo excited to get to jump on hotel beds 'till their hearts' content! (What else are hotel beds for???) By Sunday, the kids were definitely tired of the car, but survived. Jacob just asked, "How many more minutes, Grampa?" a couple of hundred times.

Mom got an Eric Carle DVD with several stories we did with school recently. We read some of Elmer and the Dragon. And we worked 1/3 of the way through Jacob's maps/charts/graphs book, so it will go down as a day of school!

We've spent many hours in the pool already! The kids are old enough now that I don't have to be holding on to them in the kiddie pool, so I can actually just sit next to them and enjoy watching. Jacob is doing great in the big pool with his lifevest and Mattie was floating alone with water wings today! And both of them were jumping off the edge too! (Mattie is happy to go under and Jacob is just surviving the splash, but that's major progress for him!) Mattie will go to the edge and say, "Two, two, two!" when she wants to jump.

And I brought our North American Wildlife book too...we've seen Rock Dove's (pigeons), lizards, fish and flowers to name!! It's been fun to carry on our Creation study! The birds are very used to people around here. Yesterday there was one about 6 feet from Mattie near the pool. She walked in his direction and he squawked at her quite loudly. Needless to say she was not very happy about it!

Last night we went to dinner and got Alaskan King Crab...very yummy! Normally Robert peels all my seafood for me, so I was on my own last night since he's not here. Amazingly enough, I had both kids around me and peeled and ate my crab to finish first!! The kids both ate some, but it cost way too much to share with someone who doesn't appreciate it! And, hey, why feed Mattie King Crab when there are saltines to dip in ketchup??

August 10, 2007

Psalm 63

I just thought I'd share a Psalm I was blessed by today. This seems to put into words the general consistency and steadfastness I find in Jesus. God is a good god, no matter what. He's all we need.

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen you in the sanctuary, to see your power and glory.
Because your lovingkindness is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live,
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,
for You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; Your right hand upholds me."

Psalm 63:1-8

August 09, 2007

The heavens...

"The heavens declare the Glory of God, and their expanse proclaims the work of his hands."
Psalm 19:1

Robert caught this sunrise this morning. What a beautiful way to start a day!

August 07, 2007

My baby girl is growing up!

Our Mattie girl is 18 months old this week! I just can't believe it. All of a sudden she seems so big, so tall, so much more independent. (Though no less needy or messy!)

Our big girl ready for church.

Her favorite things right now are Cedarmont Kids movies. She jumps up and down and squeals when she sees me getting one started. She'll watch and do the motions too! We keep seeing her walking around doing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "If You're Happy and You Know It..." If there is no movie on, she'll go into her room and start a CD. So, as we've known all along, she LOVES music!! She likes to carry her Mozart Music Cube around and dance, especially with Robert. And any day I have the camera in her reach, she'll bring it to me, scoot back and say, "Teez!"

Why, oh why? don't they make Thomas the Tank Engine things for girls??? She likes wearing Jacob's glasses. (And I think she looks like Danny in this one.)

She's still climbing and getting into things virtually every day. This weekend she almost pulled the bookshelf over on herself and Jacob while unloading it all over the living room floor. (Thankfully Robert was in the same room and saw it quickly enough to catch it!) And yesterday I had a 30 minute delay in my already not so good baking experience...she had confiscated the vanilla and I had to round it up. And today she was walking around with a collection of sticky notes and a pen. (Robert saw her get a pen out of the drawer and when that one didn't work, she went back in and got another one.) She likes to wash her face with water from my unattended cup.

Washing her face with my water cup. And experimenting with the salt shaker.

She is becoming girly in her own little way too. She still loves Thomas and other things she sees Jacob like, but she's putting her own girly slant on things. Saturday she and Jacob were swordfighting and she kept fussing/screaming at Jacob. She wanted to play, but she wanted to trade swords - his sword had a purple jewel on the handle!! And we have strings of Christmas beads that never made it back into the Christmas box. She walks around with the red ones dangling around her shoulders. She likes to try on my shoes and get into my makeup bag. And she loves to put her comb in running water to comb her hair!

Her delightful little face after blackberry picking. She was eating as fast as I was picking!

She definitely doesn't miss a beat around here! She keep me hopping, and has been a lot more high maintenance than Jacob ever was, but I still can't imagine our life without her. It would be so boring!!

August 06, 2007

Chocolate chip cookies - the thorn in my flesh

Well, just being real here...

Generally, I really do okay with my kids' allergies. (Mattie-dairy and wheat; Jacob-corn, dairy, and eggs) I don't like it, but hey, we don't have leukemia. Today is one of those days I have about once a year or less. I'm so frustrated!!! I don't love to cook to begin with, but food is such a major deal at our house it's even worse than normal.

I've been trying to cook meals that we can all eat as a family, but it's so hard! We have very few options...
~marinades and dressings ALL have corn in them b/c of the vinegar (and homemade ones are nasty)
~casseroles all have "cream of ..." soups and are out for dairy and corn (Can't make my own b/c there is no corn free bouillon.)

Plain grilled chicken with ketchup on it just gets yucky after awhile. Well, after the first bite. So then I give up. And then I feel bad that my kids are eating the same boring things they always eat. And that Robert is eating boring food too (though he never complains). Planning our weekly meals just reminds me how complicated it is to make a "normal" meal for my where we all eat the same thing.

I've been trying to bake some things that we can all eat...that means corn free, egg free, wheat free, and dairy free. The problem is that it means substituting a lot of ingredients and they just flop! Since I don't like to bake to begin with, I really hate it when I try and blow it so bad! Generally, it makes me feel like a terrible cook. I know it's not my fault that egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free chocolate chip cookies are hard to bake, but that is no consolation when I pull a crumbly, greasy flop out of the oven for the fourth time. It's even worse when I consider the cost of the ingredients that just got wasted! (Dairy-free corn-free chocolate chips are $5.69 per bag! Not to mention the pecans and organic raisins.) And the worst part?! Jacob complains that they are yucky!!!!! (Now, I've eaten several of them this morning. They are not yucky. Messy? Yes. Yucky? No.) I give up!

So here I sit venting to my cyber family (after talking to the Lord), crying all the while because food is such a high stress factor for me some days! I still have all the dirty dishes from my baking failures on the counter and in the sink. And nothing good to show for it. So, not feeling much like the warm fuzzy Proverbs 31 woman this morning.

I am reminded of a few things though...
~The fact that I don't like to bake is not my imagination.
~Egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free chocolate chip cookies are not possible in my kitchen.
~There is a reason we cook with wheat, butter and eggs.
~This is not going away.
~David (in the Psalms) does not address food allergies.