Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Location, Location, Location

Today I was a mom of three, and after eating an early lunch I realized it was potentially another two hours until nap time.  Oh man, I was ready for a nap already!

So I bundled up the kiddos, strapped the baby to my front, and we went outside for some fresh air.  I walked back and forth along my property front to enjoy the benefits of a "walk", and the slip-free road surface.  The boys started by diving into the snow of the front yard, but quickly moved over behind the garage, where we have a steep embankment that they love sliding/sledding down.  As Lincoln led the way over there, planning to slide on bottoms where there actually wasn't much snow to cushion them, I asked him, "What if you get a stick in your butt?"  A similar thing happened to me once.  Not fun.  But I decided we'd just deal with that gore if we came to it.  They had a wonderful time.  No stick injuries to speak of.  

It occurred to me as I walked, once again, how much I appreciate the location of our home.  We're tucked away on a back street of our village, and the only cars I saw during my time on the road were the mail carrier and a friend dropping my neighbor off at home.  There were signs of lots of "foot traffic": squirrels and mice tunnels and rabbits and cats and deer and boys.  

What a gift for my afternoon.  The Lord knew exactly where our home ought to be, giving us the best of both village and woods life.  I got to snuggle a baby as she watched my boys' antics, and then fell asleep on my chest.  I filled my lungs with fresh air instead of a fresh cup of coffee, and my body felt better for it.  

When I relocate my thoughts to Gifts and the Giver instead of whatI'dratherbedoing, all of life is better for it.   

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sometimes It Would Be Nice...

Sometimes I think about how wonderful it would be to have a full day to do nothing but spa-pamper myself.  In most ways it seems like a total waste of time and/or money, or at least impractical--I mean, I shave my legs and they're already stubbly the next day.  Hair grows (everywhere), polish chips, muscles tense, skin dries, on and on.

But what a day that would be, to just feel PERFECT.  With a friend or two, I could exercise, running or swimming or doing yoga (or all of that) and feeling all limbered up, then head to a hot jacuzzi tub filled with bubbles and emollients and drink a gallon of cucumber-lemon water.  I could wrap up in fluffy-white Turkish cotton robes, and relax in a heated recliner while my feet and hands experience the best mani-pedi of my life.  I could--heavens!--get waxed, eek!  I could lie down and have my body returned to perfect alignment and my muscles rubbed into happy submission while I just let my skin feel and my brain wander around in sleepy contentment.  My hair could receive a deep conditioning, a cut and (low-maintenance) style to perfectly complement my features, and then a true Hollywood makeup artist could do the sort of before-and-after magic that transforms a normal 50-year-old face into a cover girl masterpiece.  And then I could choose The Dress, the perfect gorgeous dress for me, along with the shoes, the jewelry, the bag...and spend a night out on the town with my hubby for the best date night of our lives.  Something like a world-class gourmet restaurant and Broadway show should be included in that.  Oh yea, and all day long before this, healthy, light, organic and super-tasty little meal snacks would be served so my insides feel as good as my outside.

One day, every now and then.

Queen Esther had an entire year of such treatment, and it wasn't just for the sake of her face; she won the heart of the king and changed the course of history, because she used her God-given beauty courageously.

And the young woman pleased (Hegai) and won his favor.  And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king's palace (to serve her)...after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women--when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king's palace.  -Esther 2:9, 12b-13
One day, every now and then.  How incredible would that be?  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Set Aside

It's Thanksgiving!  I am a thankful person by nature, looking for reasons to be thankful, looking for the perspective that sheds some light from God's Bigger Picture on my situation and making it more grace-full.  

But here's the thing: I only open my eyes to the great variety of gifts in my life when I set aside the time to look for them.  I have to sanctify parts of my day for thanksgiving or else suffer grumpiness in the chaos of sharing my life with, you know, other people.  

So, whether you're by nature a thankful person or not, today, of all days, SET ASIDE SOME TIME.  Go away from the crowds for a little while, step away from your chaos, so that like Him, who "often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed", you may be refreshed in order to refresh others.  

Be reminded that His eyes are on the sparrows all around and in you.  He isn't always safe, but He is always good.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In This Together

November 11, 2014:

Yesterday, after three-plus weeks of growing my baby and nearly three weeks of my body's miscarry process, I spent the day at the hospital and had a D&C.  This brings the physical part of sharing my life with Libi to a close, but our hearts will always have this little baby.  


The main thing I want to do here is to say Thank You, to each of you.  Thank you for listening and for reading.  Thank you for hugging me, for praying with me and for me.  Thank you for sharing your stories and words of compassion and encouragement.  Thank you for crying with me, for checking in with me, for hoping with me.  Thank you to those of you who have helped in physical ways, taking care of my children while I go to appointments, providing supper, traveling to visit me, setting aside your day to give me as much time as needed.   

Thank you for being with me through the process.  

Because of Libi, I have been learning in a fresh way just how good it is to be part of the family of God--and more specifically, to be knit together with a particular church family.  It is a really Wonderful thing to walk through the valley knowing you're not alone.  Of course it's more enjoyable to walk through the good things together, but sharing the hard things of life is somehow...richer.  

Immanuel: God with us.  And we are His hands and feet, a gift He asks us to give to each other.  

YOU are my Month of Thanksgiving.  Thank you, my friends, my family, for being WITH me.  Thank you, my Jesus, for being WITH me.  And thank you, Jesus, for the gift that is Libi, who has helped me receive love in new ways.

Thank you, all, for being with me, and for me, and full of hope <3

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Riding the Swells

A long time ago, when I was maybe 8, we spent a family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  One of my favorite memories of that trip was the time spent with my daddy "riding the swells": he in chest-deep water in the trough of a swell, holding me up and carrying me through the exhilarating up-and-down rocking of the rolling water that would be waves closer to shore.  

It occurs to me, just now, that my sweet memory makes a beautiful parallel with the emotions I've been experiencing through the past week, and today more fully than before.  I can't describe in a tidy paragraph "how I'm doing," because I don't really understand how I'm doing.  I'm rolling with it.  

Losing Libi is an unprecedented kind of grief in my life.  The closest I've related to this before is when my Opa died, and I didn't really grieve him for a year or more.  I finally realized that by choosing to not grieve, I built stronger and stronger walls around my heart, and they would keep me from feeling anything--the Bad or the Good!--to the depth God designed me to feel.  I decided I had rather be vulnerable than unbreakable, and made the choice to feel again.  So in this fresh round of grief, I'm ok with grieving, and the sadness surprises me when I'm not expecting it.

Much of the time this week, I've been pretty decent, with just the background sadness behind the laughter and busyness of life with the boys.  A few times, I cried in the sanctuary of the bathroom while the boys napped, but not for very long.  Talking on the phone with my family, or helping Lincoln understand what has happened--I cried in those times, too.  And then there have been times like yesterday morning, when I felt (for lack of a more gracious way of putting it) more or less over it, ready to move on.  Of course, I knew that wasn't true, that there will be hard days and sadness and at some point I may even be angry with God.  But yesterday morning I was fine.  

THIS morning, I left home early to spend the day at a women's conference called something like, "Lord, I Just Want Some Peace!"  I listened to NPR as I drove down; driving solo is my one opportunity to listen to any sort of international news and discussion.  And man, I was in tears over the professor captured by the Taliban who was able to spend several months of his captivity actually teaching a large group of local shepherd boys.  People just want the opportunity to live, the opportunity to thrive!  And then I cried about everything after that.

So I knew when I arrived at the conference that I was in a fragile emotional state.  

And it's been a full, long, tiring day of grieving in a more concentrated way than I've yet done.  It comes to the surface a lot faster when I'm surrounded by compassionate women of my church family who love me and know what happened this week than it does in the midst of taking care of my wild boys (not to mention going multiple times for blood work in a week...).  And yesterday--out of order, sorry--I got to spend a long time with one of my very best friends and another dear friend who came just to love on me.  It's been a good couple of days.  

But it also feels very good, now, to sit here in sweats and have a cat curled up on my lap.  It is sweet to hear my sons call to me from the other room and describe the whacks they're giving the bad guys in a game they're playing with daddy.  It is very nice to feel the warmth of a mug of tea in my hand and on my face.  

And I'm looking forward to an extra hour tonight to just be quiet.  Quiet quiet.  Riding the swells is good, but its own form of exhausting.   

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Libi, My Little, Little Loved One

October 16 was a big day for one reason only: I found out I was pregnant!  

There is a lot of joy in a positive pregnancy test.  And there was even more joy to find this little baby's due date to be June 22--right at the end of the school year, with the whole summer stretched out before us, exactly as we'd prayed for.  

We got one week of pure gladness over the joy of this baby, and then I started bleeding.  

I did not think much of it at first, because at the same point in my pregnancy, I bled a little with Lewis.  Obviously, he's perfectly whole and healthy.  So I hadn't even said anything to Andy yet.  But then it continued, a little bit heavier, and it just didn't seem right.  I spent Sunday morning in the ER, hoping to have a definite answer about what was happening.

They diagnosed me with a threatened miscarriage, but really couldn't give me the definite answer yet.  Through the past week, I have had a total of four blood draws, two ultrasounds, an internal exam, and lots of conversations with the doctors and nurses.  Between that information and my own research, it looks like our little baby started life with the incomplete thing called a "blighted ovum," in which for some totally random reason vast amounts of chromosomal DNA information were just missing.  So my body got all excited to begin manufacturing Baby, and Baby grew until that vital information was needed for the next step.  And she couldn't grow any more.   

My body hasn't yet completed this process, and I am currently hoping and praying that the miscarry of my baby will happen thoroughly all by itself, with no further complications or questions.  We don't know now what the Lord's timing will be, but we know and choose to trust that He has promised us another child, and that His timing will somehow be more perfect than ours.  

We are so, so sad; another baby is a desire of Andy's and my heart, and a desire of our boys' hearts.  A friend of mine reminded me a few days ago of a beautiful thing, though: that even though we will never know this baby here, Someday, when we are finally Home, we will know our baby in her completeness, her perfection.  Jesus is the Author of Life, and every life is precious to Him.  As Dr. Seuss would say, a person's a person, no matter how small.  

And so I've named this baby.  Of course, there's no way to know if we were growing a little boy or a little girl, but we have been praying for a baby girl for months and months. 

Her name is Libi, which is Hebrew for "loved one, dear one, my heart."  And she already knows just how dear she is.  Thank you, Jesus.  


I have been reading Isaiah, and there are so many wondrous things it holds for my heart.  So if you need some encouragement straight from the heart of the Father, that I have applied to my situation and you can apply to yours, read on:

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.' Isaiah 41:13
I will open rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water...that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:18,20
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.  Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.  I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Isaiah 43:1-7
Even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is as bright as day, for darkness is as light to You. Psalm 139:12
But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!  Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.  This one will say, 'I am the Lord's,' another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,' and name himself by the name of Israel. Isaiah 44:1-5
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by name, I name you, though you do not know me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.  I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:4-7
Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you.  I have made you, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save. Isaiah 46:3-4

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choosing Peace

Last night my hubby wasn't able to be home until after 9:00pm.  These evenings, where my 1-on-1 with the boys lasts until the very, very end, are usually pretty strife-filled.  We just get cranky with each other, and it goes downhill fast.  

But not last night.  Last night I went ahead and did the work of making a real supper, one of the few that my little boys love just as much as Andy and I do: homemade macaroni and cheese.  And it was ready when they got up from their naps, and we set up in the living room, and had family movie night with The Muppets, and they ate all their peas and earned ice cream, and afterward I washed the dishes while they peacefully created works of art on scratch-off paper.  


That was the entire reason the flavor of the evening was so enjoyable.  And it's got me thinking again about the Peace that passes understanding, the only peace that has lasting effect and can change the flavor of...everything.  

"...the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES DO I GIVE TO YOU.  Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid." (John 14:26-27) "I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  BUT TAKE HEART: I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) -Jesus
"To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."  Romans 8:6 

If I can go ahead and discipline my mind to THINK on the Spirit, to CHOOSE the Peace that he offers me, even when I'm mad, even when I'm worried--ESPECIALLY right there where I'm mad, right there where I'm worried--then he offers me LIFE and PEACE.  I have to lay down my "right" to be mad, my "right" to be upset about what's going on around me--from screeching boys to ebola epidemics, from the impatience of waiting for a doctor's appointment to always wishing I had a breakfast chef--and choose to see what He shows me.  

His perspective brings peace, no matter what the chaos.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trees of Knowledge

I'm seeing all these "Back to School" posts on the Facebook feed, realizing things like...

My generation?  Our kids are starting school now.  Wow.  The next generation is really here, fully realized and moving away from the precious innocence of infancy and bridging the gap toward being full partakers of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  There's no way to go back, no way to shield our beautiful babies from knowing, for better or worse, the bad and the beautiful that this world holds for them. 

Oh, my heart.  

And in my home, the start of school has an added dimension, because Daddy is a teacher.  I had a little epiphany last night about why school makes me sad: in a short-term way, because inevitably, school starts and suddenly we don't see Daddy for two weeks (not only are there 12-hour days to work around, but the first two weekends are always full of conferences, so we don't see him on in-between days, either).  But the bigger, longer reason that school makes me sad is that, especially in the past two years, school begins and Daddy is perpetually exhausted.  For the next 10 months.  I mean, except for a short business call and saying prayers with the boys at bedtime, Daddy went to bed at 7:45 last night.  

And so it begins.  Yes, of course there are lots of wonderful things that come along with the school year, and I LOVE learning and so far have two boys who also LOVE learning.  And I have a hard-working, wildly gifted husband who LOVES learning and also loves to teach.  We're fans of knowledge, don't get me wrong.  

But school makes me sad in a lot of ways, and that's just that.  

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'"  Genesis 2:15-17 

"I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man."  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Do You Want the Good News First or the Bad News?

In our family, this is a frequent question.  And we just about always start with the bad news, so we can finish (and dwell on) the good news.  :0)

The bad news: While Andy drove from Old Forge to Boonville, the alternator belt (or something) broke, fell off, and everything electrical and vital for driving quit.  And his phone was dead. 
The good news: he was in the Pitts' driveway, and Brandon was home.  So he could plug in his phone to call me, and do Kingdom Creations work all afternoon as he intended.  And a mechanic friend from church should be able to make repairs tomorrow morning.   
The bad news: Half the (carpeted) floor in our downstairs bathroom is wet, and it turns out the leak is coming from that pipe that travels from the tank to the floor.  And there's no shut-off valve I've yet found.  The good news: I found the leak.  And our plumber friend from church should be able to come tomorrow morning to try to get it all fixed up. 
The bad news: The specialty smart-TV remote, which Lewis tossed into the dish water a few days ago, seems to have decided to give up the ghost for good.  So the TV is half-way to Netflix, and I'm unable to change the channel, the volume, or even turn it off.  The good news: It's stuck on PBS.  Of course, that currently means BBC World News America...pretty sure the boys won't be fans of this. 
The bad news: The chili in the crock pot didn't get plugged in for the first 3 hours it was "cooking."  And "high" for 3 plugged-in hours isn't enough to soften those beans at all. The good news: There's warm crusty bread, anyway!  

When it rains, it pours.  Except it's currently sunshiny.  Here's to a good evening, friends!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Camping Accounts

From July 18 to 22,  our family traveled to the Meacham Lake DEC Campground for our "first annual campout."  Each morning I spent time by the fire writing in my journal; here are the adventures I recorded.

July 19, 2014 
And we are camping.  The birds wake up in full force a little before 5am--but even by 6:00 now they have calmed down (except the crows), and the noises are mostly from chipmunks and other little ground creatures. 
I tried to get firewood this morning, but they keep the woodbox locked overnight, and I can't find any indication of what time it will be opened.  
Lincoln just said, "Mommy, I'm so aware that there's a spider who likes the hot, hot charcoal."  (There's a daddy-long-legs huddled up against a still-black brick of charcoal.)  And, "I love seeing Chippy so up close."  (We have a very fearless resident chipmunk who likes to come right up close for a better view of us--and his potential meals, I'm sure!) 
A charcoal fire isn't too bad; not quite as charming, or warm from a distance, but it certainly will cook our breakfast well. 
And speaking of good cooking: last night we ate like camping kings!  We marinated a London broil steak--just lager beer and montreal seasoning--and for once we didn't overcook it.  My word, that was the most delicious meat I've had in quite a time!  And jet-boil instant mashed potatoes, salad, s'mores.  Setting up camp yesterday went with only a few hiccups that needed time outs.  But our site has a wonderful little trail out the back of it, and the boys LOVED spending their time exploring it.  In one spot you can scoot down the bank pretty easily to a little mud "beach" of the creek, and there are clam shells all over it, and even a few clams still closed.  I found one footprint in the mud that looked like a raccoon or something similar, and one from probably a crow.   
And Lewis LOVED helping with the tent poles, both putting them together and then through the sleeves.  He was so delighted by it!   
The boys' "chore" while we camp will be dishes.  Andy supervised supper cleanup, so I don't know exactly how thoroughly the boys were.  But Andy said they did pretty well for this first time.  

July 20, 2014 
It's Sunday morning.  I slept so much better last night than the past few, even getting up a couple of times for a crying Lewis.  Thank you for that gift, Father!   
And this morning I get to sit here next to a roaring fire, and will have coffee soon thanks to my wonderful hubby.   
Yesterday we simply spent at the campground. They get kudos for showers and a sandy swim area.  Opposite for lifeguards.  And who should I meet in the bathhouse but Lauren Premo, Mike's wife, and to find that they camp here every year and are right across from that bathhouse this weekend! 
The squirrels or chipmunks gnawed several places around the edge of our Pantry rubbermaid tote while we were away at the showers, and so we know they don't waste any time around here and we must put all food and garbage in the van when we've finished eating.   
During nap time I first had a lovely read and a little nap in the hammock.  THANK YOU, Will, for sending that hammock!  And then, while everyone else slept, I left to go exploring.  And I followed to the end of the main campground road, and there found a little secret-feeling footpath that follows the edge of the lake.  It was full of magic: the tallest cedar trees I've ever seen; huge shore-line boulders wrapped around with intricate tree root-works; the sound of little waves; a mother wood duck? loon? swimming with her 6 chicks all lined up behind her.  That was a good explore.  

July 21, 2014 
We made it to church yesterday, Father!  Without remembering (from 8 years ago) what time [Lake Placid Baptist] church starts, we feared we were pretty late; turns out we arrived about 10 minutes early, with a perfect amount of time to settle in before the service.  I got to see Morgan and Charlie, Jeff, Cameron, Tree, Tom and his family--and meet Mark, Vivian and Bob, Dave, and Pastor Jim.  They didn't have any Sunday School [this week] for the boys to go to, which was rough...but they do have these great entertainment bags: canvas totes with crayons, coloring books, Bible story books, old copies of Clubhouse magazine.  I want to do that through the library for our church. 

Lunch at Tail O' The Pup, with their playground; riding the Adirondack Carousel, with their playground; ice cream stop at Donnelly's, with good conversation with the people in line while I waited.  All of this would have been more fun without the boys' temper tantrums, but anyway... 
While Andy and the boys napped I read and then napped in the hammock again.  I like this pattern.  I also like the part of the pattern where I leave to go exploring after the birds wake me up.  Yesterday I explored several of our neighbor campsites (because it's true: by Sunday afternoon the campground is substantially emptier, and by afternoon only one other site at the far end of our little back road was still occupied; late last evening, we gained just one more resident a few sites down.)  And so I compared other sites along our creek, and then followed the footpath in the other direction from the "narrow bridge."  That's another wonderful little trail, and as I explored I felt like Gene Stratton Porter, whose biography about her writing and nature-study life I read in the long introduction to her books on my Kindle.  She was wonderful, to the extent I'd like to be rather like her! 
Chili out of a can for supper, finally something Lincoln enjoyed all the way around.  A bike ride down to the beach playground at dusk.  Flow sticks (a delight and a curse).  Bedtime stories, kisses, and a toad hopping along the tarp at the base of the tent (yes, sounding much bigger in the dark than his little inch-long frame.  

July 22, 2014 
It's our last morning here, and I feel like soaking everything in: an extra hot fire to burn my legs, all the birdsong and creature sounds, the opportunity later for pancakes, canoeing, packing up camp, hopefully bathing these boys, hitting the road.   
I stirred at 5:06, and when I looked at my watch I thought, "The crows should start anytime now."  And literally a moment after that thought the crow chorus began.  I've wished many times that I had a better view of these birds and a pair of binoculars, because it's about the best opportunity I could ask for to study crows in their own rookery.  
The chipmunks and squirrels are all around on their reconnaissance missions, our boys have been groaning and are now beginning to talk sleepily to each other, Andy and I are reading scripture and he pauses to said things like, "I have a trivia question for you: what was Eve's maiden name?" 
And Amos is saying things like "Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.  Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."  (Amos 5:14-15)

July 23, 2014

We're home!  We took our time traveling, stopping to pick up lunch, then to play a long time at Arrowhead Park in Inlet.  We got ice cream, and stopped to clean Lewis up and then to get gas.  But even so we got home at 4:00 and had a leisurely (hot) evening after unloading the van.  

I slept great.  Andy slept horribly because of his sunburn.  Fred slept great--I let her stay up with us instead of going to the basement, and I don't think she ever left the foot of the bed.  

Thank you, Father, for such a great camping trip.  It did set us up well to want to camp next year, to be lovers of camping.  

And now, as we tackle the second half of summer, I really desire, Father, to have a fresh wind of motivation and diligence in running my home, caring for my family, being an excellent co-manager of Huntress Hollow :0) Help me to be mentally organized and on top of things, ready to take on challenges, ready to prepare for life!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Every Little Thing

I am excited by the littlest things as I prepare for our first family camping trip.  

Teeny beading baggies filled with 1 fry pan-worth of bacon grease.  Awesome flapjacks and eggs, here we come!
Nature "I Spy" cards, and a Hide-A-Bee!  The boys are already playing Hide A Bee at much cuter in a campsite?!

First of all, I've been mentally preparing now for weeks: just thinking about tents and s'mores and hikes and bikes; exploring Saranac Lake's awesome website of area attractions and hikes to make a Huntress-friendly list; Pinning all sorts of camping-with-preschoolers tips, games and camp crafts.   

Then, as we delved into our pre-kid camping supplies, we have made too many trips to WalMart and Amazon Prime--but of course, we're preparing not only for this camping trip, but for many camping adventures to come, right?!

Last summer, we did a couple of nights of "practice camping" in our back woods (because I realized that I wasn't up for a 24-hour gear overhaul between a separate family trip and heading to the Tent).  We made a campsite and fire circle out there, and had a delightful couple of days, which were also low-stress because it didn't matter that most things we "forgot" and just went inside for.  

So this year, instead of 24 hours, I've stretched this process out over 3 or 4 weeks.  And along with my extreme mental excitement, I've experienced this oxymoronic mental sluggishness.  The symptoms mostly consist of procrastination, which drives me either to my latest good book or, more often, to the internet for some more mindless Facebooking (or kid-craft inspiration).  

Pretty sure it will be good for me to have a four-day Facebook Fast. 

And now, it really is TIME to pack up some food or something!  Tomorrow's the big day!  Happy trails to you and yours!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In my living room, right now, there's a wonderful sound: the voice of a boy becoming a good read-alouder, entertaining my son with a story before naptime.  

First, they chose stories, then built a blanket fort.  Add flashlights to the mix and Fred the Cat figuring out what this creation might be, and you have a recipe for delight.  

A recipe for friendship.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Well-Earned Siestas

I googled "at home bike tune up," discovered how dreadfully I care for my bicycle (I add air to the tires about once a year...), and decided to at least wash it a little with the "gentle dish soap suds" described.  I swept and washed all the super-webby spiders off the bike trailer and hooked it up behind my bike.  I adjusted helmets for the past year's growth and fitting over ball caps.

And we were off :0)

It's Farmers' Market season again in Lyons Falls, and we made the most of it with playground, firemen's lunch, running around with sticks, making a new friend, choosing our purchases, and tucking it all into the back of the trailer for the ride home.

Lincoln was given the task of holding the sunbrella, with a reminder to hold on tightly so last year's episode of "it flew away when we were on the bridge" wasn't repeated.  He did a great job :0)

Lewis fell asleep about 4 minutes into the ride home, and Lincoln put up with his brother's wayward bobbing head like a champ.

And now they'll siesta the afternoon away.  What a day!

Oh, and my boy is going to be 4 years old tomorrow.  What the hey?! <3

Friday, May 30, 2014

Circling the Issue

It's a season of introspection.  You know the feeling: when all sorts of outside influences, intentionally or not, speak to your spirit about a particular issue.  You may want to ignore it, but it will not be ignored.  

I've been reading The Circle Maker, which has come highly recommended from every person in my social circle who's read it.  Its subtitle is "Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears."  Now, I have some pretty big dreams--and some pretty great fears.  So ushering in dreams and conquering fears seems like a worthwhile pursuit, don't you think?  

But here's the thing: I thought the book was going to focus on the dreams and fears we have for ourselves.  And yes, these are worth praying circles around.  But what's actually been standing out to me is the Miraculous that God wants to work because we're praying circles around 


And that's a scary thing.  So it becomes true, for me, that my spirit perceives at some level that the mirror-dim dreams that float around in the back of my mind--those exhilarating, mysterious, generation- and region-transforming dreams that the Holy Spirit resurrects in my heart every year or so--those dreams also are wrapped up inside my biggest fears.  

I like my comfortable life.  I don't really want my life to be radically different, turned upside-down for the purpose of investing in this generation of children.  But I know, too, that as long as I hold on to being comfortable, my influence will not extend outside my comfortable walls.  The Lord's work will go undone by me.  

There is no way for me to know What May Be, or What Could Have Been.  I love control, love knowing what to expect.  But the only thing I really have any control over is how I spend this moment.  How will my Present Tense be spent?  And I know that more than any other pursuit, what God desires of me, what He's compelling me to do, is to Pray.  I have to learn to pray.  I so desperately want to be able to learn it by reading a book, by learning from someone else's experience.  But that just won't do.  The only "trick" for getting the hang of being a prayer warrior of any clout at all is to 

just pray. 

So maybe the first circle I need to pray through is 

EXTEND MY WALLS.  Less of me, and more of You, God!

And those of you who are already decent pray-ers?  Would you lift me up?  That I would just pray, and see at a profoundly deeper level what the Lord has for me to put my hands to?  Thank you, friends!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hope is a Verb

I've only seen the first half of these photographs, and the tears are running down my face.  Wonder, pain, beauty, faithfulness, despair, the inevitable forming of the stories that might have branched out from every one the images--but above all, Hope.  And Love.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waiting for the Paint To Dry

For months after we moved into this home, Lincoln would proudly take any visitor upstairs to "see his pink room."  And it isn't just that it was pink.  But it was this pale, sickly pink wallpaper with antique floral bouquets and pearl strings all over it.  And definitely pink carpet.  

For the past year, I've been talking about painting the boys' bedroom, and discussing my ideas with Lincoln for a Charley Harper-inspired woodland mural.  Is it a mural when it goes around a whole room but is more of a motif than a detailed surround-picture?  

After awhile Lincoln transitioned from showing off his pink room to asking, "Mommy, why haven't you painted my room yet?"  

And the truth is because I've been afraid of this project.  We have lathe and plaster walls with multiple layers of wallpaper.  They are the opposite of perfectly smooth, straight surfaces.  Then there's all that paint PREP, that isn't really painting.  Ugh.  And then what if my painting hand does not match my imagination?  I have a very particular, precise style I'm going for here.  

And then I realized two things: yes, plan such a project for Spring Break, when it's ok to span across multiple days and I'll have the help of my hubby; and just get over the fear.  Dive in and create something on those walls that will be on no other boys' walls, ever.  It will be awesome.  

So I'm not finished.  I'm waiting for the paint to dry.  But the first coat is finished.  And the rest should be easier.  And more fun :0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chopping Days

April has arrived, which means Chopping Days have begun!  

Chopping days happen every year at the border between winter and spring, when I get the itch to help the sunshine dispel the snow and ice ASAP.  So it's not a calendar date which begins this Event, and it isn't (officially) celebrated beyond my driveway.  (But I'm sure there are other Choppers out there--North Country winters drive us to some drastic measures.) 

They begin with a certain intensity of the sunshine, punching microscopic holes in the ice that slowly grow and connect and make the ice noticeably weak.  Chopping Days begin with a low boil in my blood that insists we go outside, and inevitably I stomp around with my boots to see if the ice is old enough yet.  

And when the time is right, I just go at it!  Make way for spring!  Make way for picnics!  Make way for play!

Plus there's real satisfaction in swinging a mattock around and smashing ice...especially when those ice chunks are immediately fashioned into an ice palace by my boys, so thrilled to be outside in fleeces and helping the spring come faster :0)

Sunday, March 30, 2014


I spent the past two-and-a-half days at Beaver Camp enjoying scrapbooking with the smallest group of ladies in a long while.  And that meant that the hosting was low-key, the conversations were in-depth and meaningful, the encouragement was tangible.  

I came home this afternoon not sure if our boys would be asleep yet...and they were hiding under a blanket on daddy's lap, waiting to jump out and surprise me with the most wonderful, WONDERFUL Welcome Home smiles.  I have such sweet boys.  

I could have jumped right back in to taking care of my family by making them a real dinner...but instead I ordered pizza and a salad and we had family movie night in the living room.  We rented Frozen--which really is a delightful movie.  Near the end, when the guy you thought was good but is actually bad reveals his true character, Lewis declared him a Bad Guy, complete with smashing gestures.  He has such a discerning heart (you know, for a 2 year old).  And at the end, when the bad spell almost wins but love saves the day, Lincoln cried.  He has such a sweet heart.  And then he gets all cuddly and reminds you that he likes you.  Actually, he loves you.  Ah, my mama heart!

And somewhere in all that action, Fred came into the living room with a mouse in her mouth.  Way to go Fred!!!  But of course, it's startling and the mouse was still alive at that point, so we all rushes around and managed to get FredandMouse out the front door so she could take care of it in her own fashion...  

While the boys went up with Andy to brush their teeth I cleaned up the mouse guts that Fred left behind in the entryway.  There wasn't much, and I couldn't find any more Mouse outside on the porch or I'm hoping Fred tossed the rest of that mouse away somewhere, and that it isn't all in her belly...  Yuck.  I'm all about that mouse being dead and not in our house.  But it's still pretty darn yucky to deal with guts, even for a girl who is fascinated by biology dissection labs and the like.  

And then I headed upstairs to help Andy finish tucking our boys into bed, and give lots of kisses, and give Lincoln a chatting story about that time when I was a piece of wall (by request).  We're serious about storytelling entertainment around here.  

Sometimes days happen that remind me my own normal, busy, distracted, wonderful life really is made up of some serious storytelling entertainment.  And so is yours.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Simple Gifts

This past weekend has been so wonderful, and I didn't take a single picture of it for you.  

The highlight of it was returning to my high school to watch their musical production of "Titanic"--which also happens to be the first-ever musical I performed in, 12 years ago when I was a junior at the Academy.  

The first gift of the weekend was finding out that, for the first time ever, my dad was able to leave his job on time, which meant that he and I got to enjoy a daddy-daughter theater date together.  He's usually on the phones at work an hour and a half or more past "quitting time."  Our prayers through the week wrought a small miracle, because, you know, God cares about the little things, and He cares about our desires. 

The next gift was given by my mom, who despite exhaustion after a day of shop-vaccing a flooding basement, babysat my boys for the evening so I could enjoy the show.  

And an extra piece of that gift was that she let me leave earlier than expected to do a little SHOPPING!  I was hoping to find a pair of great-fitting jeans at TJ Maxx.  I didn't.  I miss when everything was boot-cut style.  And I miss jeans that are cut for short people.  Instead, I bought a top and new cute-crocs that went better with the jeans I've got, and made me feel fresh and pretty.

And the sun was shining on a 52 degree evening in Canandaigua.  I literally smiled my way across the parking lot and had to consciously slow down my excited lead foot all the way to the school.  I drive faster when I'm happy.  Do you?  

(As I write, I have all these beautiful mental snapshots illustrating my words.  Too bad you can't see them along with me!)

And then, the gift of the weekend--sitting in the auditorium of Canandaigua Academy to take in every last minute of the stunning and excellently done "Titanic."  I LOVE this show, and am always just blown away by the quality of the performances, and performers, of the CA theater department.  And of course, because of my roles in "Titanic" and "Les Miserables," there's a very special piece of my heart connected to all the memories I made there.  

I started crying about 4 minutes into the show.  When the captain, the owner, and the builder of the ship sing their first trio--oh my, there were Ryan and Joe and Dick, right there on the stage of my memory.  And that lasted all through the show: the ghosts of the actors of 12 years ago were all over that stage, living again in the wonderful kids performing this time around.  In their faces and voices, I saw Jake, Cyp, Ryan, Sarah, Katie, Dick, Phil, Katherine, David, and others. I saw them up there, and the beauty of it teetered back and forth along that fine emotional line I had set for myself.  I had expected, even wanted to cry at this show.  But I didn't actually want to sob uncontrollably.  And so between my own memories and the thoughts that these characters were real people, full of hopes and dreams that drowned in the Atlantic--well, let's just say the line was very, very blurred.  

At the end of the show, I got to chat for a few minutes with the director--my director--Scott Schauman.  When I found him to give him a hug he said, "One of my Kates!"  And you know, it just warms a girl's heart to not only remember, but to be remembered.  

Lots of simple gifts.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Heart Friends, Tho I've Never Met Them

For a little over a year now, I've given a part of my heart to a family I've never met, but with whom I've cried and ached and laughed and longed for heaven

Aaron and Stephanie Kelley are currently in Kenya, Africa as medical missionaries.  Well, Aaron does the medical part, Stephanie does the school-teaching part, and together they do everything else that goes along with living with and loving their three boys and a community of Kenyans and other missionary families.  

And for a full year now, they've walked through the Valley, praising God in the storm and letting Him carry them, because their little girl, Hannah, went to be Jesus on March 14, 2013.  

Because of their pain--and their triumph in the midst of their trial--I have grown and been challenged, and been altogether edified and exhorted in pursuing steadfastness and Love for my Jesus.  

And it's not even that I just haven't met them.  I haven't so much as commented on a blog post of theirs.  

And yet, because my Heart connects with them, and connects with the story God is writing through them, I love them.

Maybe I should tell them <3  Thank you, Jesus, for this family.

For the Kelley family, at one year.  
Psalm 138

I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
       before the gods I sing Your praise;
I bow down toward Your holy temple
       and give thanks to Your name for
       Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness,
For You have exalted above all things
       Your name and Your word.
On the day I called, You answered me;
All the kings of the earth shall give You thanks, O Lord,
       for they have heard the words of Your mouth,
For though the Lord is high,
       He regards the lowly,
       but the haughty He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
       You preserve my life;
       You stretch out Your hand against
       the wrath of my enemies,
       and Your right hand delivers me.
       Your steadfast love, O Lord,
       endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

See their Story for yourself at Mom on a Mission and Aaron in Kenya

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Will Tip-Toe

A few weeks ago, the boys and I took our first stroller walk in months (our first ANY walk in almost as many months).  It was 40some degrees and thrilling.  And I asked the boys if they could spot any clues that spring is on its way.  I was expecting something like "puddles," or "wind."  Instead, Lincoln's response was a little more profound: "Because the days just keep passing, mommy."  

But I've kept my senses peeled to the clues, and these are some of the ways I know my hope is not in vain.

1) The air is suddenly more humid:

  • My split fingertips are healing, and I know it isn't because I'm putting cream on them more or cleaning any fewer messes;
  • When I climb out of the shower in the morning, our vent-less bathroom has begun to drip its ceiling condensation instead of being just steamy enough to make my nose comfortable;
  • Foggy mornings happen sometimes. 
2) The sun shines more often than it does not, and it is shining WARMLY, whether or not the windchill agrees.

3) The skunks have woken up.  A few nights ago I was literally woken from a deep sleep by the horrible stink of fresh, very close-by skunk spray.  There's a family of skunks that live in our back woods, so we always know when they're about!

4) Fred the Cat wants to spend some time outside again.  For many weeks it was a very forced fresh-air-and-potty break.

5) Even if I'm wearing lightweight capris for sleeping, I've spent some time awake most nights recently because I'm too warm.  And when I get up with Lewis, I still put on my hoodie and slippers, but I'm not actually scrunched up with bearing the cold until I can be back in my own bed. 

6) Playing on our sliding hill last week, I noticed hints of shimmering green on some tree buds (HOORAY!).

6) The lady bugs are exploring my home.  They were the very first sign that spring is near, beginning their investigations of my home lots of weeks ago.  

And we've all got our senses peeled for Spring.  Yesterday, climbing into our van, Lincoln noticed this Sign of Spring: mud!  And in the evening, the boys and I played in our front yard snowbanks without hats or snowpants.  And while we played, we discovered THIS most hopeful, most wonderful sign that Spring will be here soon, no matter what snow Events come our way between now and then!

This morning, as the sun climbed over the horizon and lit up our porch roof-slide, Lincoln claimed the dripping edges as our latest Sign. 

She's coming, friends.  Slowly, tip-toeing into our hearts and into our land.  But just as surely as the sun will rise, just as surely as my God lives and loves, the Spring will be here soon.  Take heart!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Baby, My Boy

My Lewis is growing up, and it's exciting.  And I already miss my baby.  This thought is repeated so often, by so many mothers, that it becomes a comment that only skims the surface, not sinking in deeply.  But once you're actually experiencing it, it's cause for consternation.  

He's sleeping in a boy's bed, sharing a room with his brother.  He's been in there napping for a while, but the past two nights he wanted to be with "Linky"--and he's not only stayed through 'til morning, but he SLEPT THROUGH those two nights in a row.  This morning, he cried for me shortly before 5:00, but then went back to sleep until 7:00.  I don't remember the last time that happened; his normal wake up is around 5:40.  

He's potty training by choice.  He's making jokes with his brother that crack them both up.  He's wanting to do things on his own, like climb the stairs with no hand from mommy. His legs are looking long.  He's fierce in expressing his desires.  Though the product looks very different from his brother's, he does most of our school lesson projects right along with us.  He's so proud of himself whenever he does something new or well, like watercoloring: often the water-filled brush goes to the paper without any paint, and he's puzzled.  But then he gets the order properly, and a big, bold swash of turquoise lands on his paper, and he's just delighted.   

I'm so proud of him. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Jonah Day


In the language of Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame), a "Jonah Day" refers to a generally bad day, where everything just seems to be going against you.  Those of you who are Biblically literate can see the connection: you know, just a guy trying to mind his own (selfish) business and then interrupted with an unsavory task, which he ran away from, which led to a horrendous storm-tossed sail, which led to his being thrown overboard and swallowed by a giant fish, his sitting in its belly for a long time, then being thrown up on a strange beach, bringing him back to follow through on the unsavory task after all. 

Today seems to be shaping up into a Jonah day for me.  I'm going to complain for a bit here, under the guise of looking forward to heaven.  Because, you know, in heaven there will actually be no more sorrow, no more suffering, no more injustice, no more selfishness, no more regret.  That is so hard to even begin to fathom for me.  

It means, for example, that my right hand, which already begins to feel arthritic, will never ache or suffer from split knuckles in the cold again.  My neck and back, perpetually cricked and tense (especially during the cold, scrunched-up season), will be able to somersault and dance and probably even turn like an owl without the least complaint.  I'll never have to keep up the personal chores I do for the sake of being my most beautiful.  (Actually, I haven't kept up with those for years now, so it will be unthinkably wonderful to just be, just BE beautiful, nothing doing.)  

There will be no poop in heaven.  No poop of any creature, at all, for me to face.  Hallelujah.  

I can sing all I want and not have anybody tell me to stop, that it's too loud.  Dishes.  No more dishes.  I have a feeling that being creative will always be a joy, and never a burden or a frustration.  There will not be cranky toddlers beating on my back begging for my attention while I focus on something else.  For that matter, it seems likely that I'll be able to devote my full attention either to as many things as desired all at once, or else there will be the opportunity to focus entirely on one thing at a time, fully and completely, for always.  I will not crash into things from clumsiness anymore, and there will be no ingredients-flung-about disasters while cooking.  There will never be heartache or loneliness, and I will never Not Understand again--myself, others, my wonderful, mysterious Father God.  I can learn every secret I've ever wondered--and more--about how this incredible creation works.  All the dots will be connected.

I have sometimes wondered how eternal life, the whole system, will be able to function without what we know as Decay.  Because in our system, our broken, beautiful world, everything kind of functions based on the cycle of life and death, Decay.  I can't imagine something different, because that's just how it Is.  But you know what?  I absolutely trust that Elohim, the Creator of the universe, is fully capable of a perfect, Perfect system in heaven, which allows for all things without death.  

Oh, the Joy that will be!