Thursday, November 7, 2013


So, in the random way these things happen, I stumbled across this article just now.  (Don't read it yet.  Come back up here at the end.  Also, I looked through all 30 images so I could feel justified in writing a post about it...but if you don't want to waste a bunch of time, 4 or 5 pictures will do you just about as well.)

It's titled "30 Fairly Shocking Pictures of Celebrities Without Makeup"...but I find myself more shocked by how normal most of them look without the magic wand of a professional makeup artist.  I mean, those pictures on the left?  They are of you and me on any given Saturday morning (or, let's face it, any given most-mornings if you're at home with little kiddos).   

Of course some of these pictures are actually awful, because candid photographs have the same ability as pressing pause at any given moment in a movie: you get the most gruesome, funny distortions of the actors to stare back out of the tv until you come back from your potty break.  But really, start by looking at the left-hand picture in each of these slides, and I think you'll find many of these girls actually garish when they're all done up for the Oscars.

When did our culture redefine beauty this way?  Why are you and I always so terribly conscious of our faces when we go beyond our front porches without makeup?  What IS beauty, anyway?  We are created in God's image, and His paintbrush never touches a makeup palette; He pronounced us Good.  

Now, this isn't a post about whether or not makeup is ok.  I use makeup.  I really, really appreciate makeup, actually, and it's a Big Deal to me if I forget my makeup bag when I'm traveling, or find I left it in the car that went to school with Andy, or something else that necessitates a bare face.  But, though I don't often feel it when I look at my bare self in the mirror--I am beautiful.  My husband seems to prefer my bare face, and I have to choose to take him at his word.  My God certainly doesn't care in the least what I look like, and I have to choose to take Him at His word.  

What my God and my husband care about more than anything else in my life is that I allow things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control shine their beautiful selves brightly in my life.  Those beautiful things, radiating out of the inner me?  They change me, and they change the world that I interact with and touch.  And they have the side effects of physical beauty: a soft countenance, a ready smile, lines creased by laughter instead of stress and anger, a quiet spirit, a body that is stewarded well and therefore trim (if not altogether tone ;0) ).   

What our culture needs is more women who think about their inner Beautiful more than their outer, more women who get their affirmation from Jesus, and let Him do His good, beautiful work in and through us. 

Go.  You're more beautiful than you know. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Day of Misadventures and a Year of Memory-Making

I'm ending today better than I began.  Actually, the day began very nicely, with quiet Quiet Time and all my hot coffee before the boys woke up.  But the whole "daytime" part of the day was pretty darn rough.  Is it bad that all I really (really, REALLY) wanted to do was to clean my house?  I mean, yes, it's nice to have a clean house.  And yes, I'm much happier to go to bed in a few minutes with a cleaner house.  But I was emotionally at war all day with my un-clean, attention-demanding boys.  This is my problem, not theirs.  

But anyway, the big reason I wanted to clean (other than there being laundry, toys, food, milkweed seeds and flower petals literally EVERYWHERE, ALL over the house) was in order to let my home know that I appreciate it.  I do not actually anthropomorphize my house; it's more of a called-to-be-a-good-steward thing, wherein being entrusted with a big gift means I'm expected to take good care.  (...We'll save the post on being a good steward of my children for another day, hopefully for when I'm letting God give me the grace for it.  This was a bad day of accepting grace.  Thank heaven His mercies are new every morning, right?!)

And the big reason I want to let my house know I appreciate it is because... year ago TONIGHT (October 29, 2012), Andy drove to Watertown after school to sign the closing paperwork on our new home. The boys and I met him here afterward with macaroni and cheese for supper in the kitchen out of red plastic cups. Let's make it a macaroni tradition! So blessed to live here! Been praising Jesus for 365 days, and we look forward to many, many more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Small Accomplishments

Lincoln's opinion of Beaver Camp baked oatmeal.

Lewis's opinion of Beaver Camp baked oatmeal. 

The goal is to make a family of scarecrows for our front porch.  Here's the start of the daddy scarecrow.

But how in the world does one make scarecrows stand upright and tall??  I'm having trouble here.  Maybe we'll make an after-dinner family project of it. 


And personal notes of the day:

1)  Freshly plucked eyebrows can make you feel like a new woman.  

2) I'm pretty impressed with the supper I'm about to put on the table.  What a nice feeling!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simmer Down

Sometimes (often times) my older son and I clash.  We are both strong-willed, and we get each other going before we even realize what happened!  So there's this morning, when I mentally congratulated myself for diffusing a battle before it started raging by being first very firm, and then making my child laugh.  Lately I've been consciously employing strategies found in Dr. Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child and meeting with more success.  I'm thankful. 
Because then there's this late-morning, after some "preschool" and "baseball" and cocoa, when my son decides to disobey, blatantly, about something very trivial: pick up those little pegs you just threw all over the room.  And the battle rages.  Sigh.  I am getting better at keeping myself "cool and collected," and I do win, because part of my job is to shape his will and teach him about authority and obedience and those sorts of things.  But it is so draining. 
And it leaves me...let's say peevish
But then the sun comes out, and we take the bike trailer to the farmers' market, and converse with pleasant people and buy colorful veggies and press our own cider.  And then we drink our cider in the sunshine, and I think to myself, "I am happy."  What a wonderful world this can be, and what a wonderful gift to be reminded of it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Distracting Myself

The boys and I are on our own for the evening, and because we know Daddy won't be home for dinner tonight, it's been kind of a rough day.  When I say our boys hang their hopes on daddy's homecoming, I'm not exaggerating all that much!  So there's that. 

Also, my babysitter cancelled for the afternoon, because, get this: she was bitten by a brown recluse spider.  Oh, creeps!  I mean, OH CREEPS!  I am completely freaked out about that, because over the past few weeks I've seen 5 or 6 spiders around our house that drove me to Google Images in the fear of just that.  The ones I've gotten a good look at are more likely Grass or Funnel spiders (still mildly poisonous)...but then to find out, yes, they really are in our area...  Anyway.  I can't even sit at this computer without feeling little creepies on my feet under the desk here.  I stopped watching scary movies a long time ago because of my wild, realistic imagination.  I wish I could stop seeing spiders. 

I need to be distracted.  So, I've lit a candle, put the season's first pumpkin recipe in the oven, and am watching The Office when I'm free to fold laundry.  Go away, crazy fears!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Big Night

I haven't written you a status update in over a week.  And before that, it was a week again.  My life has certainly been more eventful than that, but it's also nice to not care much whether anybody knows about it.  

But tonight!

Tonight I sat on my front porch with a boy in my lap marveling at the fierce storm blowing through.  It left us with a very thorough double rainbow, the main bow of which also had a "shadow" effect of two spectra splayed out beneath it.  My photo is pitiful; I'm sure it's user ignorance of settings. 

After supper, my sister-in-law and I went out jogging, and I could hardly take my eyes off the sky.  Every part of that glorious sky held different colors, textures, types of clouds, all lit up by the sunset.  Watching the retreat of a spectacular storm is a spectacular way to run.  SO GORGEOUS!  I thought of my friend Leanna, who would have recorded that beautiful run on her iPhone.  But non-data-plan-me just gets to remember it all :0)

After the boys were in bed, I took the plunge (a surprisingly weighty-feeling, nervous plunge) and purchased a preschool curriculum to begin working on with Lincoln here at home.  There may be more on this later.  For now, I don't care for the public preschool options Lincoln could be involved in over the next couple of years, and I'm going to try some low-key homeschooling, see how it goes.  I'm nervous about it, for basically selfish reasons; I happen to be comfortable with the ease of not really planning our daily lives and letting time slip by while I read other people's status updates.  But I know that it is not the best I can give my children, and so, by purchasing a curriculum, I'm committing myself to give them more of my best.  Among many reasons homeschooling is of interest to me, I'm realizing that the most important reason I would choose it over public school is to equip my children with the tool of a Biblical worldview.  Worldview is Important.  Capitol I.  My Father's World curriculum is designed for exactly the purpose of "raising up generations of families who see the world through God's eyes and live according to that knowledge."  I'm diving in. 

 And tomorrow!

My husband begins his 12th year of teaching, and it will suddenly be a new season for all of us.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Oasis

My favorite mornings begin in this place, looking out my bay window on the start of a new day, with Bible and journal and coffee at hand, to sit in stillness and remember that His mercies are new every day, and that in every way and for every thing His grace is on me.  

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.  
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Importance of Reading the Instruction Manual

"Father, I ask for Your work in our friendships.  Changes will come, Father, as families move, as our children are involved in different interests and different friendships, as we go through seasons of intense busyness and stress.  First, Father, do everything in Your power (and show us where we can help) to strengthen the marriages.  

Among the friends and families that we get to share some of life with, BUILD STRONG MARRIAGES.  As a whole, convict and inspire us to show the world a large group of excellent marriages.  Where our reactions and habits are to get angry, remind us to be slow to anger, slow to speak, quick to listen.  Remind us that love is patient, kind, not envying or boasting, arrogant or rude.  Love does not demand its own way, and it isn't irritable or resentful.  Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but it does rejoice with the truth.  Love bears all things.  Love believes, hopes, and endures all things.  LOVE NEVER ENDS.  

Love (like You love) never ends, and yet always, always, our marriages are under attack in those particular areas, and we just take it for granted that it's OK to treat each other in these ways (because under everything, he knows I love him, right?).  But it's not OK!  

The desire of Your heart, Father, is that we would know You better because of our marriages.  It is one of Your gifts to us, and every good and perfect gift comes from You.  No gift is fully good or fully perfect, though, unless we use and enjoy it as intended, following the gift's instruction manual, so to speak.  And for our marriages, Father, You've detailed the instructions.  Humble us, no matter our personalities, to follow Your instructions in our marriages, that we might glorify You and know You more perfectly than ever before BECAUSE we are living out our marriages by You, for You, and through You--as one of our gifts to the world."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What a Gift!

 Andy and I just watched a squirrel snack on a peanut butter pine cone (there's only one left hanging from our tree, after the original nine), a robin alight on our front fence to poop, and a deer visiting the violets in the yard across the street.  

For me, it doesn't get any better than to live in a little
village with neighbors and activity all around and to still be in the woods, with creatures and plants and trees and the sound of a waterfall always rushing in the distance. 

What a gift!  Thank You, Father!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Effects of Sunshine

 The effect of sunshine not only on all of life, but on all of our brains and emotions--the degree to which sunlight is connected to how much HOPE we perceive around us, stomping all over despair--this alone should clue us in to the grand design of the Lord of the universe: we need the sun; we need the Son

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse." Romans 1:19-20

Monday, April 15, 2013

All Hail the Conquering Hero

Father, define my perspective today.  This tired, unshowered mommy, who's ever at-risk of being extremely grumpy with her children and who spends way too much time meditating on not only what is bad or disappointing, but what may or may not unfold into something bad or disappointing; this mommy who gets distracted so easily and gives up when she should persevere, and perseveres when she should give up--this mommy, ME, NEEDS YOU to invade and transform her perspective.  


"NO, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loves us.  For I am SURE that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!"  (Romans 8:37-39)

And because

 "I can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me strength!" (Phil. 4:13)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Starting Over Again

Yesterday, I filled up the last page of my journal.  I ordered a new one from Amazon last night, but I decided this morning that this "in-between" couple of days would be a great time to write down my Spring Goals for myself.  I discovered last fall that written goals work for me.  I did really well with that list.  I did very poorly with my Winter Goals.  So now it's time to start over fresh.  Here they are, so you are equipped to help keep me accountable to them (but also, as you'll see at the end, to jump-start my goals immediately):

1) Remember fruit.  Explore vegetables.  

2) Get the boys some outside time every day.  You too!

3) Be consistent in planning your weeks: on Sundays (or Saturdays), have the meal plan on the stove hood; keep the calendar more vigilantly; remember to include those involved in your planning.

4) Invite the Gibsons over for dinner.  Begin meeting the neighborhood kids.  

5) Be intentional about activities and projects for the boys.  

6) When enjoying someone else's hospitality, look for ways to serve them.  

7) Try to be clear with others about your expectations, boundaries, etc.  

8) Look for ways to make Quiet Time happen in other parts of the day on weekends, holidays, and "interrupted" days.  

9) Fold and put away laundry within 24 hours of its dry cycle. 

10) Begin to organize all the Stuff for a yard sale, so it's possible to begin clearing out clutter more earnestly.  

11) Along with No. 2, let them get dirty in their play.  Bathtime should be obviously needed more than once a week!

12) Try to blog once a week.  

And there you have it.  Ready, Set, Go!  

Also, incidentally, this is what happens when I try to write three sentences for a blog post (don't be alarmed, it's magic marker.  Also, magic marker is not as washable as they say it is) :

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fooling Myself

Sometimes I say I'm trusting God to take care of things.

But some of those times, what I really mean is I'm not ready to take on the challenge of addressing the real issues, so I'll ignore them.  

Or that I'm bored or discouraged over praying about them, so I'll quit. 


"Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:24

Saturday, March 9, 2013

First Gift

Thank You for
the first little gift of my day--
I chanced to face an eastern window
while glasses slipped into place
and I suddenly beheld a
crystal, golden thumbnail moon
glowing above the sunrise horizon
glowing itself with 
the first pale greens and azures
of the brand new day.
It took my breath away.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The End is Near!

 Today I drove to Lowville to pick up some groceries (and seeds to plant with Lincoln!).  The sun has shone brilliantly all day, and while we were out and about the reading on the van's thermometer increased by 12 degrees, topping off at 43*.  This is exciting, folks, because though I know that winter will hang on until the end of April... or means that the end is coming soon.  It's so good to have hopeful days.  The fields we drove past also reminded me of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago:

"The First of March"

Under dazzling afternoon sun
I admired fields of old snow
the network of little rivers
eroding the winter--
dying glaciers in microcosm--
tracing across the hillsides
like stretchmarks shimmering down
the slope of a pregnant woman's belly
preparing her for promised new life.

                                   March 1, 2011

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shaping Up Nicely

Last night, I nearly had a nuclear meltdown.  I don't remember the details clearly (funny how hindsight is so much more mellow than the moment), but it involved a culmination of paying too many bills, two meltdown-prone boys, a dirty kitchen, serving as a crash pad for jumping-son, overdone muffins, etc etc etc.  

And my husband, though contributing to my meltdown, also became my Rescuer.  He shared what he'd been pondering on his drive home, that in the midst of a sermon series, it's the topic of the series that gets attacked in our personal lives.  Our current sermon series?  Family!  Yay!  (You can follow along with this wonderful series here.)  My favorite quote of his from that conversation was, "Ahh (snap!), you are SO under attack!"  But you know what that means?  I as a mom and we as a family are actively moving toward what God desires for us; otherwise, there'd be no reason at all for the devil to bother over us.  Our family poses a threat to the schemes of the devil.  So, hooray!  I can rejoice through these meltdown-prone seasons!

Anyway, that was last night's grace after a hard day for me.  And today began with the reminder that indeed His mercies are new every morning!  Today has shaped up nicely: 

I took the time (was able to take the time) to cook myself an omelet (bacon, red pepper, and cheddar), which I enjoyed with one of last night's muffins and a mug of c-boost fruit smoothie.  Lewis thoroughly enjoyed it with me.  My body felt nice and cared for!  

Instead of constant brother-battles in the living room, I successfully convinced Lincoln to relocate his "tower" to the piano top, and scored a stretch of time during which the boys actually played together WHILE enjoying each other's company!

Before 9:00am, supper was in the crock pot.  A feat, indeed!

Later on, nearing a dish-washing disaster (because Lincoln wants the whole sink in which to play with "boats," and mommy requires at least half the sink to, you know, wash dishes), I spied our neighbors outside playing in the snow with their grandkids!  Lincoln immediately abandoned his boats and tried to get their attention by yelling "Hi!" at the dining room window.  I promptly went over to ask if I could bundle him up to join their play.  What a delightful addition to Lincoln's day!  

          Lincoln's new buddies:

The (fundraiser cookie dough tub) cookies I took over to share with the kiddos after they got cold and retreated inside.

Lincoln pointing out the snowman they all teamed up to build together (actually, I think it was mostly crafted by gramma and grampa...).  

And, I didn't get a picture of it, but Lincoln wanted to read his naptime stories in mommy and daddy's bed, which was (mostly) lovely.  And Lewis spent all of storytime on the bed with us and did not fall off (he did drop a book and mommy's hairclip behind the headboard, and rip mommy's glasses off her face over and over, and never spent more than 7 seconds staying still...but we're working on it!).

Altogether a full-day reminder that my gracious God loves to both chisel this mommy's character AND pour out the blessings of just enjoying her wonderful family.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lovely Day

 Last night, I went to bed at 2:00am.  I mean, went to bed for the first time all night!  This was because we had friends over and played a 4 hour game of Settlers of Catan--wonderful!  However, I didn't expect good things for this morning. 

But this morning came graciously, and I was able to sleep until 7:00.  

I made it to my Library Team meeting ON TIME, after stopping at Stewart's for rich-brew coffee and Kinney's for sign-making supplies.  (I really like to be on time or early...but if you know me you know the only reason I get anywhere on time is because of my hubby.  So this was a minor miracle.)  (We're out of creamer; hence the Stewart's coffee.  Also, this may be the first time in history that I have chosen, by preference, drip coffee at a gas station over cappuccino. This has been the Year of Learning to Love Coffee.  I've succumbed.)

Our meeting time together was wonderful, complete with chocolate chip banana bread, chit-chat about life, creative ideas and input all around, and productivity.

I had an encouraging conversation with my pastor in the middle of that meeting.  I thank the Lord for him just about every time he crosses my mind.  Papa Dan (as he's known by his grandkids and my boys) is the most thorough example of a FatherAndShepherdAndPastor's heart I've ever known.  He is such a testament to the grace and the power of Jesus At Work through a person.  

When I pulled in to our driveway, I noticed several pick-up trucks up the road at the house that burned last week.  The thought crossed my mind, "Go ask if they need anything: fresh coffee, somebody to watch the kids awhile, a kitchen table."  For one minute I argued against this thought, because, you know, that's uncomfortable.  But I knew deep down that this was not my own thought, but the Holy Spirit asking me to Go.  I've argued against His requests before, and it never ends well.  So, "Jesus, help me to be brave!"  And I went right up there and had a nice conversation with this neighbor that I'd not met yet but who's in the process of rebuilding his whole family's life. He didn't need anything right then, but whether "seeds were planted" or no, this was a big deal for me!  I heard the Holy Spirit ask something of me, and I obeyed Him, and I was Brave!  Thank the Lord for asking things of me again and again, despite all my years of stubbornness and fear.  

On the way inside, I opened the mailbox to find a wonderful note from a wonderful friend.  I opened the door to hear peals of laughter (almost shocking amounts of joyful laughter) from my older son and husband, wrestling together on the couch like it's their job.  Because it's Saturday, and that IS their job <3  

After lunch, I enjoyed a rare and wonderful cuddle with my hubby on the couch (usually these are interrupted by, say, Flying Lincolns).  

And then ALL the boys in the house went to sleep, and slept for three or more hours!

And I got to use that time to paint signs (posters) to celebrate the sermon series on Family that will begin tomorrow morning.  I love to put my art into action.  Even though my neck is all tight right now.  

After dinner, I drove back to church with my new signs and put the signs commissioned by Pastor on his desk, and the signs for the library door...on the library door.  I'm excited about them.  The library door now reads, "The family that READS together grows together!" 

This means that tomorrow can begin with less chaos than might have been expected.  We still don't have creamer, so it might also begin with a fresh cup of Stewart's rich-brew coffee.

(P.S. As when reading a good book, put your imagination to work dreaming up the pictures that should be illustrating this post.  Google can provide me with Catan and Stewart's pics, but not peals of laughter or library sign pics, and they're more important.  So I decided to skip the pics.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Listen Up

In our new home, the laundry is in the basement.  My household is happy right now, and these are the sounds I heard up above me while changing out loads: 

the slapping of little hands and knees as Lewis scoots around our "racetrack" layout; the buzz of the stand-alone freezer next to me (that doesn't actually freeze food very well); off in the distance, the up and down tones of Diego entertaining my Lincoln for awhile; squeals and rummaging noises from Lewis as he sorts tupperware and makes other such discoveries; the praise music buzzing down from my laptop in the kitchen, setting the tone of our home.  

And then, drowning out the rest of it for a few minutes, the furnace kicks on behind me, roaring to life to keep me and my household warm.  It's a reminder, depending on the state of my heart, of either a) another large bill coming up that won't really be easy to pay, or b) the assurance that my God is watching over all, blessing us with heat and finding yet another little way to take good care of us.   

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."  Our hearts WILL pour forth streams.  Let them be sweet streams, pouring out thanksgiving to Jehovah Jireh, our provider of every good gift!