Thursday, July 29, 2010


I am shedding…lots.

I always keep my hair in a ponytail now, because otherwise I end up leaving a trail of hair behind anywhere I go. The shower drain needs to be unclogged often...and I can barely keep up with the sweeping and vacuuming necessary to prevent a layer of my locks from coating our floors.

It is disgusting.

At least it's my own hair...but I still think it's gross. I often get that tickly feeling, as though a tiny creature of the six - or worse - eight legged sort is crawling down my back or arm...only to realize it's just my hair, which is a relief, but still...eww.

And as practical as a ponytail may be...some days I just want to wear my hair down...this “ponytail-for-6-months” thing is getting old.

It's L.'s fault. Her delightful arrival has initiated this shedding of my hair. And hair is not the only thing being lost and left behind.

I'm shedding pounds too, which is great. I like that kind of shedding. I'm nearly back to pre-pregnancy weight, although I don't think I'll be returning to pre-pregnancy shape for awhile...either in appearance or physical aptitude.

Modesty is shed quickly when giving birth.

"A few strangers want to watch me push a baby through my hoo-hah?...Oh, that's fine, come on in!" [Turned out mine was the only natural birth those students had ever witnessed.]

"Excuse me,, I'm peeing in the bathroom, could you please bring me another iced diaper."

"Hello, man-I've-never-met-before...sure you can bring my lunch in. Don’t mind my lactating breasts hanging out while my baby and I are trying to figure out this nursing thing."

I've shed a few tears. Some were reasonably shed...most were likely hormonal, or due to the excessive amount of sleep I've shed.

And parenting these three children has shed some light on a few things; mostly on God's greatness and my own inadequacies. These have developed in me a more grace-filled perspective of my own parents and of parents in general.

Back to my hair, though...

So, I learned that hair follows a natural cycle of growing, becoming dormant, and shedding. During pregnancy, the increase of hormones in a woman's body prohibits the hair from being shed, as it normally would be. So generally about 1-3 months after delivery, as her hormone levels return to "normal" [pshhh, yah right, like our hormone's are ever "normal"], the hair that was previously prevented from falling out, is shed over a relatively short period of time. And the hair rejuvenating process continues as before.

The peak of this massive post-pregnancy hair shedding is typically 3-4 months after delivery, so I should be just about through - I seriously hope so!

This whole shedding thing made me think about how the Lord is always purifying our hearts.

The healthy things in our life continue to grow. The things that are dormant, useless, and dead, fall out. It's a cycle. We are constantly being renewed as believers in Jesus. But when an imbalance in our spiritual lives interferes with that "shedding" process, what is dormant and dead is prevented from being removed...until He delivers us. And then the icky, messy, gross process of shedding all that is lifeless begins. The sin is going to be dealt with - one way or another it will fall...but I tell you what, when it's held onto for a time, the shedding of it is a much messier ordeal.

So, there's a weird analogy for you...

…and possibly tmi.

But hopefully He can redeem my ramblings and bless your heart in some way through them.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:22-24

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can't Stop Crying

Each of my older children has a journal. My 2 year old mostly just colors in hers...although she pretends to write. She will even "sound out" words and say various letters as she "writes". She can make an "O" many words end up "oooo".

My 5 year old has been writing in his since he was 4. I really find it challenging to read phonetically sometimes. It's great not only to see him interested in writing, but it's so special to peer into his little heart and mind at a new angle. I think he is able to express his thoughts with more clarity when he writes than he is verbally. Sometimes what he writes makes me laugh...sometimes it melts my heart, and occasionally, it causes me to take a step back and take a painfully honest look at myself, and my interaction with him.

This is one of those entries that kind of grips me. It catches me and forces me to think about how I am parenting.

"I can't stop crying right away."

My son is, well, dramatic...and emotional. I'm not sure if it's his age, life changes that are happening in the family...or just his personality - or maybe something else. However, it. is. so. painful...for him, for my husband and I...for his siblings.

He has developed a tendency to respond to situations he dislikes with high pitched crying and screaming. Recently, we have determined to take a "zero tolerance policy" approach to it. It's just not ok for him to yell. Whether it's a loud sad wailing or an angry outburst...he is punished whenever he chooses that behavior.

While I think this is good, I also realized that sometimes he just needs to be removed from the situation and given time to consider what transpired. Often I just expect and demand that he stop...right now. And although I think he is able and must learn to discipline himself in that way...sometimes he needs some space and some time to cry and be sad. Not to yell and be hysterical - that I won't tolerate...but I need to allow him some space to express his emotions in a healthy way. It's my job to correct his poor behavior, but also to guide him and show him how to appropriately express his thoughts and emotions, not just to train him to suppress them, although that skill is also important.

Sometimes we all just need a good cry.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Berry" Thoughtful

So, apparently my mama read my post about eating the last of the cherries...

And look what a sweet mama she is:

She sent me more cherries - AND blueberries AND raspberries too!

Thanks, Mom!  You're the best!  ((hug))

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just a Bowl Full of Cherries...

We recently spent some time at my parents' home, which is situated atop a bluff in the middle of a local farming community.  Although my family does not farm for income, they do have a small orchard with several different types of fruit trees. 

Dad took my husband out to the orchard and they picked several boxes of cherries.  There is nothing like fresh picked fruit!  We devoured the last of our harvest with dinner the other night...yum!  I guess it's about time for another visit to grandma's house. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Negligence vs. Sacrifice

Can I just be really bold here and say that I believe we, and by we I mean Christian believers, or at least those who go by the title, quite often become so involved with “ministry” that we overlook and fail to fulfill the most basic responsibilities God has very clearly placed in our lives. The fine line between sacrifice and neglect becomes blurry. And we tend to sanctify in our minds what is little more than busyness, whatever great intentions we may pursue the work with.

With enthusiasm we devote ourselves to faithfully serving coffee, or food…or to setting the stage for worship…or to some other “doing”. Yet, sadly, in all our accumulated tasks we become deaf to the still small voice. The noise and clatter of our constant movement and compounded commitments drowns out both the supernatural and the obvious. We no longer notice the Spirit's prompting or we haven't the time to take heed. We no longer see the hurting and the lonely and the vulnerable around us. We are distracted by our own objective and our peripheral is skewed. We are so involved with material and temporal things that the eternal and meaningful become slighted: things like…our spouses, our children, our relationships with family and neighbors and friends.

In all our activity, time passes us. Opportunities pass us. And often the things we dub “ministry” are nothing more than recreational pastimes for churchgoers, and the maintaining of contemporary comforts and conveniences.

Are my conclusions drastic?
I don’t think so.
But maybe.

Then again, maybe we will find ourselves saying, “Lord, Lord…didn’t we do all these things in Your name?” I sometimes shudder at the consideration of what His response might be. Perhaps we do, in fact, seek Him and He will receive us. Yet, we remain guilty of a gross misappropriation of our time and thought and effort.

This is what I have observed and experienced. Not only do we neglect the important things God places in our lives – we fail to minister to our children and to our spouses, and often others around us…but we praise those who do the same. We define it as sacrifice and paint it holy. We admire the time spent in continual “service”, and remain ignorant to the end of it all.

May He open our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our minds to understand. May we learn to love rather than “do”. Although the two may appear similar or even the same, may we truly recognize the difference and commit ourselves to the better.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Darkness in the Valley

Darkness has fallen upon the little valley where we live. The evening chill has begun to settle in for the night. It is quiet here...with the exception of the whirring of our rickety old fan as it faithfully neutralizes the summer heat. But my heart and mind are full of commotion.  

Fear loudly challenges every thought. And Discouragement threatens each moment. All the while Hope cheers on, like an energetic high school girl, "Gimme a "P"...gimme an "E"..."R"..."S"..."E"..."V"..."E"..."R"..."E"! And Joy refuses to be silenced...even as Worry and Cynicism shoot disdainful glares her way, as if to say, "Grow up and taste reality, you have nothing to say worth listening to." This is the stage set to the chaos of my thoughts tonight.

My last month even, has been full of tragic moments turned hopeful; discouraging news enveloped by new possibilities, and frightening circumstances passing without leaving much more than a mere shadow behind to attest that indeed they had been nearby. Yet for all the grace-filled outcomes, my heart still wrestles with the shadows I have brushed up against these past days. And the darkness outside reminds me to be afraid...while the Spirit whispers, "Hush, my not be afraid for I am with You. Do not be dismayed for I am Your God." And because in my heart I linger here somewhere between the darkness and the light...all I see are shadows...and they tempt me to fear them.

My mind is dizzy with anxiety, yet determination and inexplicable calm embrace my spirit and hold me still.

And maybe this is part of His desire in allowing these shadows to touch me. Maybe He wants me to wrestle with these thoughts. Not once or twice...but over and over until every muscle of my spiritual and emotional self has been built up to meet these dark adversaries and defeat them; the dark foes of fear and doubt and a cynical, worrisome spirit, and anxiety and discouragement. These well-practiced opponents must be met squarely and fiercely...or they may slyly enter unnoticed and settle deep within our selves where one’s will alone could never pry them loose. Maybe this is preparation.

I must know that He is to be trusted. I must know that He is to be worshipped in every circumstance. I must choose to let Joy sing, "Blessed be Your name!", when Cynicism and Worry attempt to intimidate her. I must be prepared to cling to Him when all the stormy winds of life shake and press upon and toss my world around.

When my husband has no job...when I see loved ones being destroyed by the temptress Alcohol…when my family and friends are airlifted to the hospital...when an SUV runs a red light on the highway and hits people I love...when strange men creep near my window...He is there. He is here. And even the blanket of night cannot hide His presence. He is.

"even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You." - Psalm 139:12

So, Hope will continue to cheer; I will give Joy a voice in each every all circumstances.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And I will trust that He is here. I will rest in His strong hand. I will know that He is good...and I will worship Him...even in the dark valley, the valley where I live and the valleys I may face in this brief life. I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

"Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering,
Blessed be Your name..."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Little Sister / Big Brother

Little Sister:  "Oh no!" [said in a very sad tone, with her head hung low]

Big Brother:  "What?  What's the matter R.?"

Little Sister: [deep, dramatic sigh] "Well, there is something wrong with my room."

Big Brother: [with a puzzled expression on his face] "What is wrong with your room?"

Little Sister: [now with hurried and concerned excitement] "Um, there is something wrong with my room that makes it scary."

Big Brother:  "Ohhh.  Well, is it the darkness?  Or is it that the closet door is open?"

Little Sister:  "It is that the closet door is open and there is darkness in there."

Big Brother:  [now in a VERY big brotherly, step-back-and-let-me-handle-this-for-you sort of a voice] "Ok, R.  Don't worry, I'll go with you.  I'm not afraid of the closet...or the darkness."

And then Big Brother proceeds to lead the way to the scary closet filled with darkness and shut the door.  He marches back to Little Sister and proudly announces, "There you go, R.  I took care of it for you."

Mama:  [smiles]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If You Want Me To, I Can

I was putting on makeup one my bright-eyed daughter watched curiously.  The "watching" didn't last long...she wanted to have some "pretties" too. 

Both of my older children [5 & 2 years old] have said this phrase to me before, or some version of it: "If you want me to I can."  It's usually stated as a preface to asking for something they assume the answer to will be "no", but still hold out hope it might be "yes". 

Example: "Mom, I'm not sure if I can...but if you say I can then I can...but, well, mom, can we watch a movie [even though it's already an hour past bedtime and I just spent 45 minutes playing video games because I whined and begged until finally the phone rang and you said yes without realizing what you were saying yes to]...pleeeeese?"


"Mom, may I have a cookie."
"No, not before lunch."
"We----ll, if you want me to, I can."
"We----ll, I don't want you to."
"Aw, man!"  [my 2 year olds latest phrase]

And this particular morning was no exception.  I very rarely let her wear any makeup...I mean, she is 2!!!  But every once in a while, I brush on a splash of blush, or dab a hint of "sparklies" [eye shadow] on her little eyelids.  This was one of those special "just for fun" days.  She asked for blush and sparklies and then inserted her next request: "Can I have some of that?  [pointing to the mascara]"  With no pause for an answer, she continued, "Well, if you want me to I can." 

No, she did not get any mascara.  But she was perfectly content with her barely visible blush and eye shadow and skipped across the room to wake her daddy up so that he could see her "pretties".  [Am I corrupting her and distorting her perception of beauty already?...but that's another post.] 

What struck me that morning were not so much the words themselves...but the phrase paired with her reaction to my response.  Even though she had hoped I would let her wear the mascara, she wasn't disappointed when I didn't.  Instead she was thankful for what I had given her and happily ran off to express her delight. 

How quickly we loose our childlikeness. 

When I pray, "Lord, Your will be done."  How often am I then disappointed when what I had hoped for is not His will?  I accept it.  And I know in my mind that if it's not what He wants for me, then I really don't want it after all.  Yet, still, there is that feeling of discouragement.  It's easy to get lost in the absence of what we had desired and miss the beauty of the present.  We forget to be thankful for what He HAS given us.

Oh, to be a 2 year old at heart and rest our lives comfortably in His hands, as we pray, "Well, if You want me to I can"!

I'm so thankful for my beautiful little girl.  God uses her to teach me so much.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shot Down

Tonight my 5 year old son was playing video games with dad. Dad had to step away to take care of something for a moment, so I thoughtfully offered to take his place, so our son wouldn’t need to wait for him.

My son, who was sitting next to me on the couch, just looked at me amused. And with a knowing look in his eye and a tone in his voice that could have easily passed for pity, he smiled and said, “Um, no thanks Mom. You don’t know how to play this. This is a hard level – any level will be too hard for you.” And as he spoke, he leaned over and kissed my cheek, as though to soften the blow and heal any wound he may have been inflicting upon me. “Maybe you can just start with Mario Kart. That one you might be able to figure out.” I could do nothing, but nod in agreement.


I am good at other stuff, you know.