Saturday, December 18, 2010

You Know You're Pregnant When...

Before you all get too excited [by "you all" I mostly mean my mom] ...I am NOT pregnant. 

But, I have a sweet friend who is...and she wrote a fun post I had to share. Swing over and read it here...and browse her other posts - she is a gifted writer. I love to read Jessica's blog, which she has titled Jessie's Journal!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My husband titled this story: "What's That Cop Putting In The Back of His Car?!"

I have a great story for you...

One day [about a few weeks ago] I was standing at the stove in my kitchen cleaning up after dinner, when my husband came home. He stood by me and we chatted briefly about the day, then he blurted out that he had seen something strange on his way home that evening. [It was late by now, around 10:30 or 11:00.]

He continued to explain that he had taken a different route than usual to drive home and went along back roads through a wooded area at the base of a mountainside. As he was driving he came up on two vehicles pulled off the side of the road with their headlights pointing toward the ditch. He slowed down as he approached the scene to see if there may have been an accident or something and find out if anyone needed help. It became apparent once he was a little closer that there had not been any accident, but he recognized that one vehicle was a sheriff’s suv...the other was a civilian car. He also saw two men loading something a couple large objects into the back of the sheriff's vehicle.

At this point in his story I stopped him.

"I don't want to hear about it if it was creepy. Please don't tell me if you saw something I won't be able to handle hearing about."

"No. No, it wasn't creepy."

"Ok, what was it?"

The hesitation in his voice and cautious look on his face put me slightly on edge. It's not often that J. appears to be alarmed or shaken by situations. It was apparent that he was uneasy about telling me what he had witnessed. All sorts of thoughts were flying through my head now.

"What?..."

"Well, I don't know if I can even describe it...."

"What did you see?!"

By now I was definitely getting anxious.

"Do you think you need to report something? Was there a crime going on? What was it?!"

J. took a deep breath, then with a sheepish, semi-embarrassed look on his face he gingerly blurted, "The best way I can describe it is that it looked like they were loading two dinosaur eggs into the back of the sheriff’s suv."

*Insert awkward silence here.*

"Um...dinosaur eggs?" I repeated back slightly amused, to ensure I had heard him correctly.

"Well...[now he appeared to feel very ridiculous, but certain of what he had witnessed]...ya...that's what they looked like. Big, giant eggs...and one of them appeared to be cracked."

"Are you serious?" J. doesn't play practical jokes or make up stories...ever. But I do, so I wondered if maybe he was playing around.

He laughed, and emphatically responded, "Yes! I'm serious. I mean, I'm sure that's not what they were, but that's exactly what they looked like."

We stood there trying to read one another's expressions. He seemed to be searching to see if I actually believed him...and I was wondering if he needed to lie down. [haha]

Finally I broke the silence, "Ok."

We agreed that it was an odd thing to see...and pondered what it might have been...then we went to bed.

For the next day or two we joked about his "dinosaur egg sighting".

Fast forward a couple of days. While sharing dinner with my parents at their house, J. and I were telling his “dinosaur egg” story. As J. described the scene and explained that the objects being loaded appeared to be dinosaur eggs, my mom burst out laughing and said, "Oh yes. That was in the news."

"In the news?" I asked.

"Yes, someone had stolen the dinosaur eggs from the playground and they were recently found in that area."

A local park has some replica dinosaur eggs for children to play in, much like these.

We all had to laugh.

My dear husband's dinosaur egg story was accurate after all! I think he was relieved to find out that he had, in fact, seen what he thought he had seen - and felt quite vindicated.

So, the moral of the story is...

If you see dinosaur eggs...don't try to convince yourself you didn't.
And if your husband tells you he saw them...believe him. ;)




Saturday, November 20, 2010

...And in Our Hearts Be Love.

No sinful word, nor deed of wrong, nor thoughts that idly rove; But simple truth be on our tongue, and in our hearts be love. - Ambrose of Milan

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

IRL

I just learned something new. You probably already know this - I'm often waaaay behind on things like this, but IRL is often used online, and it means "in real life".

As I discovered this today, I was struck by the realization that we need to clarify between "real life" and "cyber space" in our online communication, as though we live two differing realities. We experience "real life" with the people around us in day to day activities. They see us as we actually are - or at least clearer than those we interact with "virtually". It's easier to portray ourselves as something better, smarter, prettier, funnier, kinder, more organized and a little less real through the internet.

I've seen people leave comments such as, "I know [so and so] IRL, as [he/she] really is a great person!" It's as though we assume most people are lying to us about who they are online...and we create a bustle of thrilled internal applause when it is revealed that "so and so" is truly reflecting his or her self accurately.

As though our lives are not compartmentalized enough - many of us have two separate identities. It’s the saga of WWW vs. IRL.

Let me just clarify a few things about myself, so that there are no major surprises about my own IRL identity. I'm sure even unintentionally I have painted a better image of myself that what truth would reflect. I like to share about the happy and fun and brilliant moments I have...which may be why my posts are few and far between...ha - a lack of brilliant moments. But why share the hard...and ugly...and blah??? First of all - who wants to read about blah...and second, who wants to share the "blah" about themselves? Not me. But here is my reality.

I am a Christian who struggles with making God-honoring decisions everyday.I am impatient with my children at times. I am judgmental in my thoughts about others. I am selfish in my relationship with my husband.

Some days I don't bother to shower...or even change out of my pajamas. Other days I spend far too much time concerned with my appearance.

I am a woman who feels "unlovely" sometimes. I am a grown-up who feels unsure and frightened sometimes.

I speak out when I should just listen. I’ve pretended not to see or hear my children fighting - because I don't want to deal with it. I've burned dinner. [And sometimes we eat cereal for dinner.] I forget ingredients when I bake. I'm often late to everything. I don't clean my bathroom until guests come over. I do not have it all together - I probably don't even have it mostly together. I fail daily in many different ways.

So, if you read my posts and have a rose-colored image of me...go ahead and dispose of that now. IRL, I'm not much different than you. [In fact, I'm probably not as interesting, smart, thoughtful or fun as you are.] I'm just a somebody, sharing stories about the life God has given me, and the experiences He has allowed me to go through. I am blessed. But I also live in the reality of this life...which is imperfect...and my "RL" reflects that. I hope my “WWW” reflects that too.

So there you have it.

No "WWW" or "IRL"...I'm just me. And somehow God uses my life to reflect His beauty - despite my imperfections, and failures. I am so thankful for forgiveness, grace and love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wounds from a Friend

A friend of mine made an odd comment today that is really bugging me. I wish I could just "let it go", but I can't. My husband encouraged me not to take it personally, but it sort of was. I want to ask her about it, but I know she doesn't handle confrontation well. However, if I don't resolve it, I know it will affect our relationship anyway. Bleh. I dislike these situations. What would you do in a situation like this? Or if you've experienced something similar, did you say something? Did you ignore it and move on? What was the outcome?

I once confronted a friend about some long drawn out issues and it was not received well at all. I never wanted to bring it up in the first place. I knew it would be uncomfortable, although I didn't realize it would end our relationship. I addressed my concerns in the most honest and loving way I knew how...I genuinely loved her dearly. But she was unwilling to acknowledge or admit any wrongdoing...and I was unwilling to invest any more of myself in a friendship that lacked honesty. Here I am, eight years later...still saddened by the memory of our exchange that day.

While truth is beautiful and valuable, it is not always pleasant.  Very often, it is not easily expressed - and generally even less easily accepted, especially when it comes to truth about ourselves.  While lies and issue-skirting leave a tangled mess for us to forge our way through later on, in a moment of discomfort, humanity tends to favor these over truth.  It is much safer to float along the surface than it is to dive a little deeper and risk facing the pressure of a current; so we remain shallow in our relationships.

When my husband and I were "dating" [if you could call our pre-marriage relationship a "dating" relationship], we had been in disagreement over something...I can't even remember what now...and I just shut down. I refused to discuss it, and tuned out what he had to say. After what felt like a very long silent drive back to my parents’ house, he parked the car and looked at me and said to me, "Heather, if this relationship is going to work, you have to learn to communicate. I cannot have a relationship with you if you don't learn how to talk about things. We need to be able to resolve conflict, not ignore it. So, you need to decide to work on this, or I can't continue this relationship."

Um...wow.  Those were harsh words for my already wounded spirit to hear.

He was very patient and gracious with me...and continues to be...as I forced myself to talk about difficult things in a healthy way. It was not until after a couple years of marriage that I finally learned how to have an argument without yelling...or storming into another room and slamming the door behind me...or just "checking out" of the conversation and staring off blankly at nothing in an attempt to disengage in the discomfort of our confrontation. He has helped me see the benefit in open communication. And gently forced me to address issues I would have never dealt with apart from his willingness to say the hard things, often making himself vulnerable in the process with phrases like, "How have I contributed to this?" or "If I've done wrong, please tell me, and forgive me."

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." [Proverbs 24:6] This is a verse I often thought of when J. and I were struggling through difficult conversations. He never kissed my lips until the day we were married...and I knew that being honest with him was a way I could love him purely while we were "dating". I know it might sound weird, but honesty is really intimate. I think only my closest friends and family are willing to either ask or answer honest questions. If a stranger says, “Hi, how are you,” the correct answer is always, “Good”; it is not really a genuine question - a brief summary of your current condition would be awkward, and likely unwelcome. By contrast, when someone you trust asks the same question, the answer varies. The question is honest, and so is the reply.

I remember early in our marriage times when he would sit stubbornly and patiently for who even knows how long and wait…wait until I was willing to listen and willing to talk about things. And that was AFTER I had really worked on communicating with him before we got married...can you imagine how poor my conversing skills were prior to his ultimatum?! I was blessed to have been given such a kind and gracious man.

It makes perfect sense that we shirk from the difficult conversations. But, sadly, that keeps us from growing. If I refuse to receive criticism from others, and if I run from correction and refuse to acknowledge my fault and ask forgiveness...how will I ever become better? There is no honesty in a relationship that dances around deep issues. That kind of friendship is cheap. It's easy. I know someone truly loves me when he or she is willing to risk my opinion of them in an effort to help me grow. It's generally pretty obvious when words are spoken with care and concern, vs. a motive of self-assertion and callous fault-finding. The words may sting either way, but wounds from a friend can be trusted...while an enemy multiplies kisses [Proverbs 27:6].

Point being...when you love somebody, you say the hard things when they need to be said. If someone is not that important to you, the risk, the discomfort and uneasiness of confrontation just isn't worth it. Do you have someone in your life that you allow to speak those difficult-to-hear truths into your life? Are you a friend who cares enough to offer loving correction, even when it's not well-received...or easy to give? And are you willing to engage with others in a meaningful way? I've found that many of us [myself included] resist the nitty-gritty of conflict resolution using a wide variety of tactics to dodge the ball and skirt around the issues. And many of us [I'm also guilty here too] have grown so accustomed to shallow interaction, that we don't even realize the hollow state of our relationships.

I still don't know if I will talk with my friend. Not because I am afraid to, I just feel pretty confident it will not end pretty, and wonder if it is even worth it. [Some battles need to be fought, others are less important.] But, the fact that I struggle with whether it's ok to be honest with her or not kind of puts perspective on the depth of our friendship doesn't it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update

We have finished moving in to the new place.
We are not really settled...but I think it will take awhile.

I did learn a few things these last several weeks, as I packed and moved and cleaned, which I will share with you.

*ahem*

1.  I am much braver when I am equipped with a nice pair of rubber gloves.

2.  When you neglect to provide your body adequate rest, it shuts down for you...regardless of what activity you were determined to accomplish.

3.  While chocolate truffles can not completely solve all problems, they do provide temporary, but delightful, stress relief for a wide variety of ailments, both physical and emotional.

I have more to share...but need to go hunt for my pots and pans...I think one more meal of bananas, nuts and cold cereal for dinner will drive me to eat a truffle.  :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yard Sale Shopping With God

It's a weird title, I know...but bear with me here...

I've noticed God whispering to me lately.  It's that "still, small voice". 

There are two things I believe He has been speaking to me recently.  The first is relatively simply summed up: to practice generosity.  The second is less obviously stated...more on this later.

These gentle promptings might sound silly or insignificant, but I think He is showing me areas I need to work on in my life, areas I really didn't see as a problem before.  They're subtle, small things.  Actually, as I am writing and considering it, I actually think He has been speaking one thing to me, I've just viewed these things as though they were separate issues...but they are not really.

I was out this weekend "yard-saleing". 

I'm a pretty good bargainer.  It was difficult for me at first, but I quickly learned how to ask for lower prices.  There was a period of several years in my life when, had it not been for kind people selling their used kids clothes to me at dirt cheap prices, I'm confident we could not have afforded to clothe our kids.  I am equally certain that friends and family would have been more than willing to help, had we shared our need.  However, it's not the same having someone give you a bag of hand-me-downs, as it is to pay something [even just a little something] to obtain those necessities.  If you've ever experienced this, you know what I mean.  I love a freebie as much as the next person, but it is a helpless feeling when you are dependant on the charity of others to provide for your children.  [Just to clarify, the kids were never in rags and it's not as though we were starving or anything...just on a very tight, thinly stretched budget.] 

Anyways, it was during this season of life that I finally gutsied up and began to ask for bargain prices...I even negotiated prices with my dentist.  It was a humbling time.  But I learned in that process that most people are happy to give you a deal.  That table of baby clothes marked at 50 cents or a dollar is just a pile of used and unwanted stuff to them...and they are glad for you to take them off their hands for a quarter each...[or even for free].  I just had to be brave enough to ask. 

Of course, occasionally someone is grievously offended by such a question.  I got the "eye rolls" and the laughs or angry, sharp retorts of "I have them priced very reasonably...I'm not giving them away!"  So, I also had to learn to differentiate between the "get rid of it all" sales and the "I don't want this crap, but I know it's still worth almost as much as what I paid for it originally" sales and the "let's clean up and make some money for that _______ we always wanted" sales. 

It's all very scientific.  ;) 

When someone was terribly upset by my low offer for their goods, I would smile, and respond with, "Oh, I know it's worth what you are asking, I'm  sure someone will pay that.  I'm bargain hunting today, though...thanks anyway - have a great afternoon."  It's amazing what a smile and thoughtful response will do to diffuse an otherwise hostile yard-saleing situation.  ;)

Anyways, short story long [as per usual with me], I was yard-saleing on Friday and every time I wanted to ask someone for a lower price, I heard that whisper.  "No, pay them what they are asking," the voice spoke.  So I did.  I did not offer a single person a lower price yesterday.  I either paid what the items were marked...or left them.  A few items were not marked, so I either offered a price or asked...but never bartered.  I only bought a few things.

Can you guess what "treasures" I found? 
Here are some clues...

How many can you guess right?


#1.

#2.

#3.

#4.

#5.

#6.

#7.

#8.

Did you guess?

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Ok...here's what I found...




#1. a beveled mirror.

[I'm in the middle of packing - and all my "decorative stuff" is put away...so, my salt and pepper shakers became props today...]


#2.  a decorative tray...

[I have a re-purpose project in mind for this little gem...]

[I really like the circular etching in the center of the platter.]


#3. brand new Sterilite plastic storage drawers...

I really like these clear plastic drawers. They aren't fancy, but they are great for organizing and storing just about anything.  I find them often at garage sales for pretty cheap and like using them in the kids' room, because unlike other furniture, they are lightweight and the edges are curved plastic, much safer for the kids to be playing with than straight edged wooden drawers.  I also like the neutral white...other plastic "kids" furniture is often brightly multicolored...which maybe the kids like, but it's too much for me...and let's be honest...they don't really care what their furniture looks like, they are more interested at the toys inside the drawers.


#4. a complete Stampin' Up! "Ornate Floral" Alphabet set...

I can hardly wait to monogram stuff with these!



#5. a Crayola watercolor paper pad for the kids...




#6. a Dover "stained glass" coloring book for the kids...



#7. a large glass jar with lid...

AND finally...

#8. a shadowbox picture frame...

[I'd like to point out a couple things about this picture.  First of all, the dust...I got lazy toward the end and opted not to clean the frame before I photographed it.  Secondly, I'd like to explain why the lack of motivation - may I call your attention to the center of the image above?  See that chubby little arm and those perfect little fingers?  They were wiggling and reaching and grabbing the entire time, she would cry when I put her down, so I chose to take pictures while holding her...my arms are actually sore as I type...it's amazing the energy that is required to hold a squirming baby. 

So...cute baby, dirty dusty frame. 

That about sums up my caption on this one.]


One more game and then I'll get to the conclusion of my story...
Guess how much I spent?



Go on, take a guess...

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Did you guess?
Come on just take a guess...

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Ok...sooo my grand total for all these items:  $5.50!
Woo-hoo!



Alright, enough with the games and back to business...

At one particular sale, I made a purchase - and headed back to my truck.  As I drove away, I realized that I had never even looked the man in the eyes.  I was so busy scoping out the "stuff" and in a hurry to scout out the next sale...that even as I gathered my items...paid him...and as he bagged my things for me, not once did I look at his face.  I mean, I glanced at his face.  But I couldn't have picked him out of a line up.  I remember he wore a hat and his hands were dirty...not like filthy dirty, but almost as though they had become "stained dirty" over the years. 

I continued down the road feeling convicted.

When I spotted the next sign and pulled my vehicle over, I eagerly glanced over the items in the driveway.  And then I heard it again...that voice..."Look in his eyes."

I browsed through the sale casually as I headed toward the back of the garage where he sat in his lawn chair...anticipating a customer.  I looked at him and smiled.  "Hello."

"Hello," he replied.

"How's the sale going?  Have you had many people stop by today?"

"No...not too many actually."

"Yeah, well, the weather isn't really cooperating." [It was a bit windy, overcast and cold that morning.]

"No...nope.  It seemed like it was gonna clear up earlier, but I think it might not now."  His voice was relaxed...disappointed and maybe a little weary even.

"I'm sorry.  I hope it does clear up for ya."

I looked through the assortment of vintage dishes on the table...and glanced across the rest of the garage.  He had an antique rocking chair, and kitchen table...some ladies shoes and vintage women's clothing.  My guess was he may have been doing the sale for his mother.

I spotted the little silver tray and walked back over toward him with it.  I handed him my change, looked him in the eye, smiled and thanked him and then wished him a productive sale.  When I arrived back in the truck, the voice whispered again, "I love him."

***

This I needed to consider for a moment. 

I realized that God wanted me to be less involved in my "shopping" and pay attention to the things He loves.  While I was busy looking for a bargain, He was trying to get me to pay attention to people.  I thought He was trying to teach me generosity and purge my selfishness a bit...I think His real message to me had nothing to do with money or stuff.  He wanted me to take my focus off of the stuff...off of the deals...off of the very thing I had set out to do, and redirect my agenda to meet His own.  He wanted me to love these people. 

It's weird how God involves Himself in every moment - in things like "yard-saleing".  At one time in my life, I believe He used it to humble me...and to provide for me.  And this weekend He wanted to use me to provide for others...and to love them, even if in a simple way, of smiling and sharing friendly conversations. 

Sometimes I just don't pay attention when the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something.  But when I am still enough to hear those soft encouragements...and attentive enough to recognize His voice...I realize that He is speaking. 

I think especially as a mother of small children I have developed a sort of necessary tunnel-vision.  I become so focused on my kids, and the immediate tasks at hand [because I must focus on the kids...and I only have very small windows in which to accomplish a task before someone has a minor crisis and demands my complete attention], I forget to look around me too.  Oh, to be sure, mothers must also master the delicate art of multi-tasking...but it's often within the scheme of the duties that present themselves as a consequence of family, or career.  We tend to easily overlook simple and less demanding and noisy responsibilities.

It's easy to forget to acknowledge the cashier when your toddlers are fighting over who gets to put the groceries on the conveyor belt, and grabbing candy bars begging to buy a handful because they are "starving".  It's not uncommon to nod at our youngsters and throw in an uh-huh while they carry on and on and on about why "this monster truck car can beat that monster truck car when they are crashing into the other guy and doing a double back flip", and never really hear their heart behind the story they are telling us.  We become busy and preoccupied...and simply finding a quiet moment to call a friend and say, "Hello...how are you?" takes planning and effort and let's be honest...quiet moments are rare - and sometimes we are just plain stingy with them.  We need to shop and hurry back home before lunch and naptimes or else kids will have meltdowns...and we forget that God loves the person standing next to us...and we don't have the energy, time or even the thought sometimes to smile and say hello, to start a conversation...to love them.

I learn a lot when God and I go yard-saleing together.  

A few fun treasures from garage sales: $5.50
Snacks to keep the kids happy: $2.00

A reminder that God sees, cares and desires to be involved in even the little things...priceless. 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Decisions, Turquoise Marble Laminate and Other Mushy Stories

As I sit here staring at the offer on the table before me [quite literally], a flood of memories has rushed into my mind and sentiment fills my heart…suddenly what seems as though it should be joyful and exciting is becoming increasingly melancholy. It’s not that I’m unenthusiastic about the papers lying there…waiting for our signatures…I am excited. My sorrow is at all the memorable moments this sweet little home has been a part of.  And as the reality of possibly soon parting with it sinks in, it is a little sad.

I know it’s kind of silly; after all, the house is nothing spectacular. It’s small, it’s old, the floors are slightly uneven…but it is familiar, and comfortable. It is has been home for practically all of my adult life.

As I type here, in the living room, I remember the evening J. proposed to me…right here.

We had the place torn apart. Everything was being remodeled…we gutted the place from one end to the other. Electrical, plumbing…all of it! We had finally arrived at the very exciting point of attaching sheetrock to the walls, and choosing colors, light fixtures, countertop, cabinets…etc.

J. picked me up and our “plan” was to swing by the house to measure something and then head out to the hardware store and decide on lighting. When I stepped inside the house, I realized, the “plan” wasn’t really the “plan”.

A small round wooden two person table was set up in the middle of the living room, surrounded by sheetrock…the bare wood floor exposed with bits of black paper still loosely attached. Rose petals were sprinkled across the unsightly flooring and atop the beautifully arranged dining table. A vase of roses adorned the center of the table. Off to my right, sitting on top of the stove [by “stove”, I do not mean kitchen stove…I mean our heating stove] sat a pot of spaghetti; I later found out he had prepared the pasta himself at his parent’s before driving to my place that night. And soft music gently flowed in from the small bedroom beside us.

He smiled. We had waited a long time – and it felt so much longer to us than it actually was. I remember staring at my ring often throughout the weeks to follow…it was beautiful, and it was mine…from him, what more could I want? That night was like a dream…and here I am today…in the very same place, nearly a decade later…still just as uncertain of what lies ahead, and equally as thankful to know that whatever it may be, we will face the future together.

To my left is the kitchen. I have a clear view of the countertop; I can vividly recall sitting there and crying the first time J. brought me here to see the place. I assure you…it is NOT the same countertop he showed me. It is different, but in the same spot.

The house was a little bit hideous when I first saw it. I exaggerate sometimes, but it really was not attractive…at all. The living room wall was covered in cedar shingles. Gross. Who would cover their wall with roofing?! The carpet smelled. The place was covered in spider webs. I can’t even begin to talk about the bathroom. The dining space was decorated with faux brick wallpaper and a rusted rectangular ummm, well, for the lack of a better term “chandelier” hung about 5 ft from the ground from dirty old metal chains. In the kitchen, all I could even focus my eyes on was the turquoise marble laminate countertop…it was everywhere…and screamed, “Look at me, I’m hideous!” The cabinets were actually ok-ish. They were white, which I love…and hope to someday have white cabinets again…and a few even had glass fronts, which I also love, however, they were painted so thick, they couldn’t even close properly anymore and were old and falling apart.

After J. gave me the “grand tour”, he asked what I thought about the house, and right then I lost it and began bawling. I began to re-think my decision to be seriously involved with this man…how could I possibly live HERE?!

He laughed. It was a kind, “you poor silly girl that I love” sort of a laugh. Then patiently and graciously he explained to me that it was more than what we could even afford and the best of any of the houses he had previously looked at. He convincingly explained that he would “fix it all up” and make it just perfect for me. And being so desperately in love, I choked back the rest of my tears, determined to pretend not to see the horrid turquoise counters anymore, and wishing I had a better imagination, but resigning myself to the fact that I simply did not, I decided I would trust him when he said it could be “fixed up” and “pretty” even.

He definitely followed through. My house isn’t “everything I’ve ever dreamed”, but it has been just perfect for us. It is warm, and inviting…and I am still amazed at what a wonderful job he did making a home for us.

Our yard is full of memories too. It is a big, beautiful yard, fully fenced. J planted a garden off in the corner, where we’ve been growing all kinds of vegetables: beans, zucchini, carrots, squash, and tomatoes. We also grew cilantro and lettuce. Peas are one of our favorites, but sadly, they didn’t produce this year. And we’ve also tried corn, melon and radishes, peppers and strawberries…those too were duds.

Our garage borders the garden and the yard. Along the side bordering our yard, J. planted some ivy we had used to decorate our guest tables at our wedding reception.


This picture was actually taken several years ago...it's grown all the way up now.  We weren’t sure if the clippings would take, but now the entire wall is covered in greenery. I am amazed sometimes that those plants have made it so long. A few years they turned brownish in spots and we thought they might die…but they pulled through. It reminds me that our relationship has endured some “dry” seasons…times when life and love were not always as easy as it was when we were younger…but we were determined to love, and here we are.

Or, I think of the day I found out I was pregnant with our first child.

It was an average summer afternoon; the sun beat hot through the passing clouds, the air was a hint thicker with humidity, and the neighborhood was singing with noise. I could hear the train whistle loud and strong as it passed by near our home. The children next door threw their ball back and forth across the yard, occasionally a kid would miss the catch and the fence would tremble and then moan at the impact, like an old man. Our tall walnut tree was full of sound; squirrels chased one another, climbing in circles up her tall, thick branches, and occasionally a bird, perched on an outer limb, sang out some cheerful announcement across the air before stretching her wings and taking flight.

My husband was outside doing something. I’m sure that even if I had asked what he was doing, the explanation of it would cost him more time than it was worth for either of us, but I doubt I bothered to question him. I recall him using a ladder.

I was inside our little bungalow of a home, in the bathroom, off the kitchen [yes, you read that right…you walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom…that arrangement unfortunately could not be efficiently remedied during our remodel] *ahem* there I stood starring at the object before me in disbelief, unable to discern my emotions, unsettled, uncertain and understandably so.

How would I tell him? How could I go and explain this news to the unsuspecting man outside on that ladder? What would I say?

I wanted to cry. I wanted to laugh. I felt a little bit numb, but not so numb that my internal turmoil went unnoticed…just numb enough to no longer notice the dishes in the sink, or to pay much attention to Sobi as she smacked me with her thick, black tail in excitement when I stepped outside.

“Hey, J…could you come here for a minute?” I called out.

“What d’ ya need?” This was his sensitive reply. [He often uses lazy English when he’s focused on a project. I think he inherited it from his dad.]

“I need you.” I answered, vaguely.

“Honey, I’m in the middle of something. What is it - a spider?”

No. It was not a spider. A spider would be easier…simpler, and far less invasive.

“Uh…noooo.” By this point, I had become more than slightly irritated. This was not how I envisioned our conversation going. I’m not certain I had much of a “vision” for the exchange, but I knew that THIS was not it. Why didn’t he just put the hammer down and run over here to squish the assumed spider for me?! Why were we having this dialogue across the yard? Didn’t he know I have something very serious to discuss?!

“Of course not…how could he?” I reasoned with my self. Then I regained my composure and marched down the steps and through the grass to meet him. He obviously wasn’t convinced by the urgency and seriousness in my voice and intended to continue hammering.

Once I finally blurted out the news, pregnancy test in hand, he responded entirely unalarmed, or emotional, “Ha-ha. Funny Heather…” It took some time for me to convince him that I was indeed serious. [Let that be a lesson to you…it’s like a suped-up version of “the boy who cried wolf”. I think I may have played one too many practical jokes on the guy.]

Oh how our world was forever changed!

Now here I sit with not one, but three little ones around me. My son, [the one who rocked our world a bit] is now five, and is sleeping on the floor in the bedroom. My oldest daughter, three years old, is crashed on the couch across from me…and my youngest little love is resting peacefully and happily in my arms.

Our house is full of memories.

Most of them are sweet…a few are agonizing to recall. So, I won’t.

But the beautiful thing about memories is that we don’t have to leave them behind with the house…they are OURS. I am thankful for the moments and years God has given us here. And although, I really do not know what the future holds for us, I know Him who holds it.

And today, instead of looking around me and crying, [like I did when J. first brought me here so many years ago] I will fix my eyes on Him and know that He loves me and regardless of whatever my present or future circumstances may be, He has promised that He would go and prepare a place for me. And because I am so crazy in love with Him, I will determine to ignore whatever “turquoise marble” I may encounter, and trust that He will take care of me. He may just even be able to make something beautiful out of the messy, filthy, ugly – worn out world we each are all too familiar with living in […and contributing to if we are willing to be honest about it].

Not to say I feel like my current situation is a hardship or difficulty, I just know that life isn’t always easy or glamorous; but I get to share it with Him. THAT is worth overlooking life’s “turquoise marble”.

Now enough storytelling, I’m off to crunch some numbers and pray about big decisions to be made…

Sunday, August 29, 2010

So in Love...

I could just stare at her for hours. She is amazing, precious, adorable, wonderful; a pure delight. Her sparkling blue eyes captivate and her perfect smile full of life and wonder melt my heart into a puddle of mushy love. Her sweet baby cooing is music to me...soft and spectacular. I lay her in my lap facing upward, and cradle her in both arms...and we gaze and smile at one another; whispering soft sounds back and forth. She grips my aging hand with her delicate little fingers. I brush me cheek against her soft face...and tickle her neck with my kisses. Oh - there is nothing in the whole world like those sweet baby kisses! We snuggle and kiss and coo some more and she smiles as her eyelids grow heavy and begin to slowly fall. Soon she is still; her only movement is the rhythmic rise and fall of her tiny chest and all I hear is the comforting sound of her breathing.

And I sit here in awe.

This is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. I am so in love.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dinner Lately...


J. and I have been educating ourselves a bit about food and nutrition.  This is a typical meal lately. 


Actually, it's really not far from our usual dinner...just a little more intentional.  Many of the veggies were grown by J. and the kids in our garden.  I, however, do not "grow" things [at least not yet]...I kill them.  Not intentionally - I have tried to keep plants alive...I just fail, miserably. 

My mother once gave me a plant she said was kill-proof.  "You cannot kill this plant", she explained emphatically.  It was not a command, it was a statement.  It was one of those rubbery plants that "supposedly" won't die even if you want it to.

LIES!!! 

Just kidding.  [No, I'm not. *see below*] She really did think I would be capable of providing the plant with adequate sunlight and water...and whatever else a plant may need that I am ignorant about...but in true Heather fashion, I managed to destroy the poor thing.

When I found out I was pregnant with our first child I went into what I'm sure was a hormone induced panic.  How could I possibly keep a little person alive?!  I wasn't even confident in my ability to care for myself, or my dog...let alone a BABY!  So, I did what any rational thinking person would do and rushed out to the store and purchased a tiny little plant for myself.  I was determined to keep it alive...I HAD to.  I'd dramatically concluded that if I couldn't keep the plant alive, my helpless offspring was doomed. 

I cried when finally one morning I acknowledge that the brown shriveled sprout was without any hope for revival. It took some time, but my dear husband eventually reassured me that my green thumb was not reliably indicative of my maternal instincts - he was confident that I would, in fact, be a much better mother than I had shown myself as a gardener. 

Short story long...J. does the gardening around here.

We've always tried to eat relatively healthy foods.  Fruits and vegetables are a part of our everyday diet...not much red meat...mostly whole grains.  But lately we've been learning quite a bit about those added ingredients I can't pronounce that are listed on almost anything in a box, bag or can.  Since we began actually reading the ingredients in the foods we eat, we've been amazed at how many of those "good" foods are really not so good after all.  

It's not rocket science, really.  We are better off if we eat the foods that God provided for us.  The food we modify, alter and "create" is not going to work as well for our bodies as the food he designed to function well with our system.  

Truth is, we are all actually enjoying the changes in our diet...for the most part.  My husband thought he would really kind of dislike it at first, but he's loved it.  The changes aren't terribly drastic.  Instead of Life or Cheerios with sugar and milk for breakfast, we've been more selective about the whole grain and sugar content of our cereal, substitute part plain almond milk for cow milk, add raisins, bananas, nuts and rolled oats on top, instead of granulated white sugar.  It's super yummy, and better for us.


Instead of snacking on chips or ice cream, we've been dipping whole wheat flat bread in hummus and cutting up fruit.  I've incorporated a couple new foods into the kids' diet.  I like to explain what is on their plate as I serve it to them. 

Tonight I introduced our meal as "rainbow food". I carefully pointed out the veggies that were from our garden. My son happily ate everything - with the exception of the tomatoes with the zucchini, which he ate, but announced that he hopes I don't cook the tomatoes anymore because cooked tomatoes are gross. My daughter ate all but a few bites...which is typical for her...but she did eat all the new foods. So, all in all, seems like everyone is pretty happy.

In all our studying, it seems like a delicate balance to implement a healthy diet. Not so much in the diet itself, but even just in the incorporation of it into our lives. As we take into consideration, affordability, availability...[edibility]...and at the same time keep a right perspective on it all.

What comes out of our mouths is more important than what goes into it. I think it is important for us to care for our bodies and use the resources that God has provided to us wisely...but I don't want to loose sight of those things that are of greater significance. What good is it if I carefully nourish my body, and fail to nourish my soul?

Anyways...before you think too highly of me...[or judge me too harshly depending on your perspective on food]...I will confess that after dinner I ate not one...but TWO slices of chocolate cake.  Yes, it was organic cake, with homemade frosting...but still, chocolaty sugary goodness for which I lack self-control. 

It was leftover from my daughter's birthday party...someone has to eat it...it can't go to waste...I'm nursing...I need the calories, right?  Right?  [I have a longer list of "valid" arguments...I just don't want to exhaust them all at once...]

Note: [*for Meesh]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Number 9

In just a few days my husband and I will celebrate our 9th anniversary.  Nine years...how could nine years have flown by so quickly?!

The most memorable part of my wedding to me was not the decorations, or the ceremony or a speech.  It was not who was or wasn't there...or being walked down the isle by my dad, or when my groom kissed me for the very first time ever.  What I really remember about our wedding day was the emotion I felt that day.  I have never felt so abundantly loved.  I remember walking away from that celebration feeling overwhelmed by the love so many people had showered on us.

Nine years ago I married my best friend; and together we have lived an adventure.  Together we have laughed and together we've wept.  Together we have witnessed the miracle of 3 new lives joining our own.  Together we have faced life and all of the uncertainty it hurls at us.  Together we have been blessed; together we have walked through difficult situations.  Together we have both rejoiced and agonized.  Together we have grown; older and wiser [and possibly heavier & wider too].  Together we have asked and wrestled with hard questions; many still unanswered.  Together we have learned to stand still, and to go.  Together we step out into each day unsure what lies ahead, but willing to place our feet on whatever path that God lays out before us to walk down.  I am so thankful the Lord has blessed my life with someone I love to share it with.

Although learning to share life with another person is trying for sure at times, I think that truly the most testing moments over these past years [certainly more than 9, we fell in love when I was a girlish 16 years old], have been the times we were not together, but apart.  Even as I think back, the hardships of our marriage and our relationship leading up to our marriage were most often ignited by separation; whether physical or emotional, whether intentional or circumstantial.  What God has joined together, let no man separate.  Life is so much better when there's a shoulder to cry on and an arm to pull me close, even if those tears are caused by the turmoil that can be experienced when we share life so intimately.  Mine is a beautiful life, and I am so thankful to be sharing it with my J.

Thank you, my love, for sharing these years with me; for standing beside me; for being my dearest friend. Even in those brief moments when I am uncertain whether I like you or not - I still love you. ;) Thank you for continuing to love me...to lead me...to share this life with me - your love has taught me and blessed me more than I likely even recognize, and certainly more than my simple words can express. Happy [almost] Anniversary, Love!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Treasures From Grandma

A few days ago, I was sitting in the living room with my children when I heard a loud "THUD" outside my front door.  I jumped up to see what it was.  As I peered out the window, I recognized the postal truck, then my eyes dropped to the porch...it was a huge package...from Grandma. 

She is so thoughtful.  She remembers every birthday, every holiday...every anniversary.  She remembers me.  And although she and I live 1, 374 miles apart [approximately]...I know her heart is with us. 

Grandma often makes us gifts. She crochets blankets, hats and scarves. She bakes us cookies. She used to cook us Hungarian meals and send them in the mail. That was not such a great gift...I love her stuffed cabbage...but not after 5 days of unrefrigerated storage and travel, and not leaking out all over everything else in the box. Thankfully, now we only get stuffed cabbage when we visit. 

This package was stuffed with lovingly crafted scarves and baby blankets. Several containers of cookies...and many other treasures; including a crystal ashtray...several lacey vintage nightgowns...a basket shaped like a duck and fancy soap from the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Opening up a gift from my Anyu is a little like yard sale-ing. There is always some surprise. You never know just what to expect. And I often wonder what the stories are behind the treasures she sends. Like the duck basket, which I've seen in her home for years - where did it come from? Or the lovely jewelry she sent...where did she wear it to, who was it from? Or the sets of utensils...who sat around her table and shared a meal with them?

I wonder these things, and wish sometimes that she were closer. I wish I knew her better. It's difficult to know someone well when your visits fall several years apart.  

Here are some of the treasures she sent in her box:


















How fun is THAT?!

I love treasures from Grandma.  Next time, I will take pictures of the nighties and duck basket too...

But you know, the real treasure from Grandma is that she remembers me, she loves me...she is willing to spend $25.00 on postage just to send me a giant box of fun treasures for a special occasion. It's not so much the things she puts inside that I value...what is even more precious to me is the tender care and love I know she puts into each blanket she crochets, every cookie she cuts, every gift she selects from her closet or shelves to send me. I know she is sending me much more than things…she sends me her love…her memories…a little bit of herself. What a lovely gift.