Monday, March 30, 2015

Make sure to check your oil

The other day while cleaning I found my handwritten notes from an interview I did with Mimi and Papa about their lives. I'm not exactly sure what year I did this, but I remember sitting at their kitchen table with questions, but mostly just listening to their stories of their growing up years. The tape recorder didn't work that day, so I have two pages of notebook paper with my chicken scratch on it to remind me of their stories of my grandma's years in California, both of their years in a little town in southern Illinois where they would walk the square for something fun to do, and of the days when my grandpa would hitchhike up north several hours to where my grandma lived. What a joy to read through my notes tonight. On the back of the paper I found some words of wisdom from Papa. I can almost hear his voice as I read his advice:

  • "Find someone who will stick with you."
  • "Don't spend more than $5-now days $50 - without talking it over with your spouse."
  • "Women need more than men." 
  • "Whatever it is you're arguing about isn't all that important. Let it rest."
  • "At the lowest ebb the tide turns."
  • "Don't be afraid to be the first bird off the wire."
I smiled as I read the list because Papa forgot to mention the piece of advice he always gave me, "Make sure to check your oil."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

There Is Enough Grace For This

I have been reading Kara Tippetts' book, Big Love: The Practice of Loving Beyond Your Limits with a small group of women. It has led to some very good discussion as we examine kindness in our relationships - primarily parenting, but also in marriage, family dynamics and other relationships.  In one section Kara wrote about a time when her husband had to be gone for work for a week at a time - and she was at home pregnant and/or with very young children, and how that was hard for many reasons. She said that God placed a mantra in her head one year when her husband was gone, "There is enough grace for this. There is enough grace for this," and she began looking for grace, for joy, for the gifts in the hard things. (This idea reminded me of Ann Voskamp counting the gifts, even the hard blessings, in her book One Thousand Gifts.)

So for the past couple of days Kara's phrase keeps going through my head, "There is enough grace for this." At times it has brought me strength to complete the task. At times it has brought a smile to my face and a soft answer from my lips. At times it has brought me to tears because after I have thought of her phrase, I have found myself praying, "Help me, Jesus. This is so hard."

The last twenty-four hours with Bug have been difficult. His schedule/routine was off again this week because we had out of town visitors, and last night he could not get to sleep. Lots of crying. Lots of restlessness.  Today has also been difficult for him because of his lack of sleep as well as recovering from a routine change. "There is enough grace for this," I whisper to myself in these moments.

Tears poured out this afternoon as I was driving thinking of all of the things I need grace for in this season.

There is enough grace for the long hard days.

There is enough grace for endless questions from my curious kindergartner.

There is enough grace for the potty training which has mysteriously regressed the last two weeks.

There is enough grace for the season ahead of more schooling for The Hubs.

There is enough grace for the never-ending laundry.

There is enough grace for the Tuesday nights I am without childcare and miss the book study.

I didn't even realize the tears were flowing until Bubby said from the backseat, "Mommy are you crying?" I quickly composed myself.

Grace is a powerful thing. It isn't positive thinking for me, but a trust and surrender to the one Who is the Giver of grace. There is enough for each day. There is enough for each moment.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What I read in February

I did not read as many books as I had planned to during the month of February. My excuse is that it is the shortest month - so I had three less days to read. Plus snow days with young kids in the house are different than snow days pre-kids. Basically they are just as exhausting as non-snow days with the added bonus that schedules are off because of cancelled activities. Hopefully the snow is done for the year.
Now without further ado, the books I read last month:

  • You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan - I love everything I've read by Francis Chan, and this is another book by him I would highly recommend. It's about marriage, but different than any other marriage book I've read. Skip the Dobson and Rainey books on marriage and read this one instead. The Chans are complementarians rather than egalitarians In their marriage but I knew this before reading it. My marriage wouldn't look exactly like theirs because of that fact, but there was still so much to gain from this book. 
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler - I had high hopes for this book. I think Amy is hilarious on tv. Everyone I know who has read this book loved it. It was just okay to me. It wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. (And maybe I shouldn't compare, but I loved Tina Fey's book when I read it a few years ago.) I got about 70-75% through Yes, Please before I had to return it to the library. Maybe it wasn't the right time in my life to read it, but I found it just so-so at best. 
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Such a fun novel. I loved her book Eleanor and Park, and I liked Landline almost as much. The characters were enjoyable and relatable. Plus there was a time-travel aspect to the story ... and I love time travel stories. 
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - There's a reason this book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Beautiful, beautiful writing. I went through this book as slowly as I could. (I'm a speed reader AND I had a three week limit on it from the library.) An elderly man writing to his very young son about several things, but mostly it is him wrestling with some of questions most of us wrestle with. There is a scene near the end of the book that is still staying with me, days after reading it because it was so powerful and beautiful yet simple. My blogger friend, Brandee, told me about this book, and I'm very glad she did. 
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney - This is a children's picture book. (We read a lot of those. I should start reviewing that genre as well!) Lovely read. Even if you don't have kids in the house, read this simple book. You will be inspired. 

I'm already a good portion of the way through three books I hope to review/recommend at the end of this month. What are you reading? What should I read this spring?

Friday, March 6, 2015

This Week (month and a half) in (smartphone) Pictures - week 12-17

The end of January and all of February went by without me posting pictures from my phone of our day-to-day life. Here are the highlights of our winter that I caught on my phone.

Tenth anniversary date night selfie.Thankful for our friends who watched our kiddos while we went out to eat.

A rare nap for Bugaboo.

Bug has really started to get into his play kitchen - this was a great day where his pretend play was the best it had been. He still prefers to just look at his cookbook, but this little kitchen has been where we have had the most success with some of those pretend skills/interaction skills he needs.

 A beautiful day in February playing in the backyard. This was before our snowy weeks.

 "Hey there, groovy chick. I dressed myself before co-op day. Mom didn't realize it was yearbook picture day OR that my shirt was unbuttoned like it was the 1970s." ~ Bubby, age 5

Boxes from Babushka are the best! Exhibit A.

Exhibit B. (Not sure how exactly he got himself in, but he definitely needed my help getting out!)


Bubby helping saute' the veggies for fajitas.

Valentine's box Bubby made at co-op. God bless kindergarten teachers who do the V-day boxes at school instead of having parents do them at home!

The best sugar cookies in all the land. Too good to only eat at Christmas.

Found this waiting for me somewhere in my house.

Night of the Decades theme night at Awana - I tried to dress for the 80's using things I had in my closet.  Wish my bangs would have been puffier. I was better at doing my hair when I was eight.

Trying out a gymnastics class with our other co-op. Fun, fun, fun for both of the boys!

Cars for the Pinewood Derby at church - Cookie Monster Car (Bug) and The Flash (Bubby).

Working on pre-jumping skills using the scooter.

Bubby made Jesus out of play-doh. Next to Jesus (not pictured) is a stegosaurus. I'm assuming Jesus is cool with this.

Finished kindergarten math this week. So proud of Bubby! Onto the next level before we break for summer in two months! (Can't believe how fast this school year has gone!)

Attempting a snow day (aka pajama day) selfie with Bugaboo. He was not really into it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Five Minute Friday - gather

Joining with the Five Minute Friday crew to write for five minutes without editing on a given topic. This week's word is gather.

It's been a week. A week since our guesses were confirmed. A day when everything changed and yet stayed exactly the same. And when I shared our news, everyone gathered around us in their own ways.

The comments you sent on Facebook and on the blog brought me to tears. You emailed. You texted. You called. You asked, "What can we do to help?"

I have felt well loved this week as you have gathered around me in your own ways, even from far off. I have been wrapped in your words and your hugs and uplifted by your prayers.

The tears come easily, but that is nothing new. I cry because that's what I do when I feel something  deeply. And these tears? I know they are gathered, too.

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle." Psalm 56:8