Saturday, December 20, 2008

God's Storehouse

The 38th Chapter of Job is one of my favorite passages of the Bible.

In it, God is talking to Job and sorta straight-shooting with him about His power. (Job had been in a period of testing and despair - God was setting him straight about Who was in charge, not only over Job but also lightning, snow, the ocean, lions, etc) Anyhow, the whole chapter both thrills me and comforts me.

It thrills me to know that when the weatherman predicts "abominable, drastic, deadly" weather (like he has today with this upcoming winter storm), I actually know the One in charge of all of it. It thrills me to know the Lord has such POWER and can use nature to humble man and cry out to Him. This power can also be contained and can be used to delight and inspire a soul - He can drift little icy filigrees just as easily as He can swamp a city. It thrills me to know the Lord has this power and yet can be exceedingly gentle with me as well - like a mother is with her child, He says. He can choose a mighty thunderclap to get my attention, or a tender pastel sunrise. It thrills me to know He's got storehouses of snow, and can hurl lightning bolts and can limit where waves can! What a God!

So, tonight as I am home from a freakish blizzard walk...I am at peace. I'm thinking that God's storehouses aren't "snow only" - I think He's got other storehouses full of gifts as well. Peace among them....also These gifts also awe and draw glory to Him, much as the snowfall and storms. And like weather, these gifts can either be rained down gently, or flurry about us in the dark, be hailed upon us mightily, or swirlingly waft around us, ethereal as fog.

This Christmas, I'm looking to Heaven for my gifts, as the region looks to the heavens for signs of weather. Topping my list is wisdom, followed by joy and peace. Praise to the Lord, abundant in all these things - mighty ruler of all - sovereign owner of the gifts - gentle lover of my soul.
"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail?" Job 38:22

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows
James 1:17

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tiptoe at the Crossroads

Today might be the last day possible to write such a blog.

Because my blog theme is "a lot can happen in a year," I must take a few minutes to describe the crossroads at which we are standing tiptoe - trying not to squint too hard at the future, but curious about the path ahead, nonetheless.

Today we might get a college acceptance's in the air, as some of our friends have received them by now. Abby near or far, Purple or Crimson....

Next week, Jon has an interview for a Microsoft project in London/Paris, that could redefine our next 2 years of family life and what we've mapped out for Katie's senior year...

Next month, a possible job opening for me at the church. Part time, but still with a part time impact on the family. It actually would be cool to see God's hand in this - the job has been on a low simmer since October of 2007! I'm excited to see His purpose and plan for it coming into reality.

Next year, a schooling change for Ben. At this point we see no clear direction - that could be because God has that overseas opportunity instead - but we are evaluating all the options. Public high school, private high school, a hybrid of classes combined with Legacy....we are blessed to have choices! But we want to be wise and mindful of whatever God's best for Ben we pray for guidance.

So, from today to next week to next month to next year - changes and choices abound. We are at peace regarding them all, knowing the Lord has gone before us and true to form, will be gracious to us...providing for all of our needs, and designing a future that is good and will glorify Him. It is exciting to be at this crossroads and to imagine the possibilities!

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Regrets - Looks Like I Have a Few

Regrets are very unfashionable.

Even to say "I regret my parents divorced" seems to imply you are regretting a milestone that "made you who you are today," and so in essence, regretting something in your past is regretting your true self. Pfft!

Jon and I discussed regrets in parenting last month. We were speaking at a young parents' Life Group on the topic of parenting, so the subject of "what we did right" also begged the question "what mistakes have you made" in parenting....preparing for that talk was a good heart-digging time for us. Fortunately I am Oprah-ized enough to recognize most of my mistakes in parenting have actually turned out ok - it's "who I am today" and also "who my children are today."

Maybe it is because we are so close to the holidays that one regret has surfaced though, and is still an area I am working through.

In an effort to limit materialism, selfishness, greed, and debt, we have always had the policy that birthdays and Christmases are the time you can ask for (and receive) things like toys, videos, cds, clothes,! The rest of the year is spent just enjoying those items, and by waiting for holiday gifts, you don't have to deal with the daily distraction of greed. The exception to the clothes rule was getting basics at the beginning of a school year or sports season, or buying an item because a stage role or occasion warranted it. The kids were also free to buy their own stuff (if they had the money - subject for another post).

The downside has been this: I have two children born the week before Christmas. As a result, their wish lists wait for one week of the year...and while they are non-materialistic (parenting goal reached), their wardrobes suffer with this policy. Especially this year with the Recession - we're scrimping for not just ONE holiday, but three (including one sweet-sixteen birthday). Not only do we have a Recession, but also a campaign at our church to reduce consumerism. Shopping is politically incorrect this holiday at OCC....but giving is in.

I guess my dilemma is with balance. Balance of consumerism vs. voluntary poverty. Balance of daughters who aren't slaves to fashion but also who aren't looking like a member of some polygamous sect either. Balance of teaching them how to budget for clothes with the idea of "wants not needs." Balance of giving and saving. Balance of dressing attractively but not to attract. Balance of being low maintenance as a woman, and of keeping the focus on godly character. Balance of living within a small budget when it comes to beauty upkeep so that more money can be donated to those in need. Balance of how much you think of yourself versus thinking of others, and letting your money and time reflect that.

It was easier when the kids were growing and you could replace their clothes because they outgrew them. But for girls, the teen years marks a slowdown of that growth, and they enter the phase of life that says you buy clothing only if you get fatter or thinner...or if you want to remain trendy...or if your old stuff wears out. It's an interesting time to budget in fashion - at what point is it a "want" versus a "need?" How well does the mom reflect appropriate priorities? At what age do you begin to teach these values? To what degree will you sacrifice trendy in order to budget in more charitable giving? To what degree will you abdicate the title of "cool?"

Parenting teenaged girls is such a check on my spirit! They are so aware. Not judgmental, but aware - how much was that haircut? How much did you spend on those boots? Is that a pro pedi or did you do it yourself? Their eyes watch and their brains evaluate - habits are mimicked, values are taught. I'm pretty sure boys wouldn't notice any of that!

So if I could do it over, I'd do a combination of two things:
  • Have you heard the one about the "3 Gift Christmas?" I like it. Basically you are limiting your child's gift number to the amount that Jesus got, so it can't get all out of control.
  • Because we'd be limited to 3 gifts, I'd make sure to budget (as in, spell it out and live it out) monthly expenditures for clothes and personal maintenance. Therefore, the girls' wardrobes would be kept fresh without sacrificing the focus on Jesus at Christmastime. Crown Financial Ministries has a good budget calculator - I'm considering implementing it for 2009. ( )
...give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
(Psalm 30:8-9)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


6:30 am Thanksgiving morning and the house is still asleep. Time to reflect before the chopping, baking, dish washing and hosting.

  • Thankful for my husband. He is such a hard worker, and keeps our home in working order plus food on the table. It is an honor to be his helpmeet - it helps that he is so smart and wise (can't say that for everyone!) and funny and has those cute sparkly eyes. He's a great dad and a man of great integrity...I didn't know when I married him how critical that is!
  • Thankful for my kids. They are increasingly enjoyable - they make me proud and they make me laugh. I am proud of their character (honest, diligent, creative, trustworthy) and their accomplishments. They are nice to be around (which is a good thing to say no matter what age you are).
  • Thankful for the extended family. Everyone is healthy, and every one is a blessing in their own way. Jon and I are so fortunate to come from families that place their priorities honorably - it's provided such a strong foundation. They are a constant encouragement to us!
  • Thankful for our church. Our friendships and ministry opportunities have enriched our marriage, family, and personal lives so much. Not simply encouragement for the journey, but challenge and fellowship as well. Thankful for the ministry we receive from being in ministry!
  • Thankful for our jobs. We completely realize Jon's job is Providential, and are at the Lord's mercy for the continuation of his employment after February. My job as homemaker and homeschooler are also Providential - if Jon's job goes, my job goes! Humbly we ask for that cup to pass, and humbly we look at how I can help, should it not. We are also thankful for the kids' jobs - that is, of being full time students. Education is a privilege and both homeschooling and Running Start have been tremendous blessings to us!
  • Thankful for our health. Again, mercy. Again, humble and complete gratefulness. Thankful for not only our immediate family's health, but also the blessed we are to have them involved and active and able to "endure" many visits with us!
  • Thankful for our country. This could be a post all on its own. But this year - thankful to know a hero like John McCain and receive inspiration from him...thankful for articulate, bright and capable women like Sarah Palin...and thankful for the chance to exercise my hope muscle that the "change" Obama promises will help get our country out of this economic pit.
Well, Ben's awake now and I hear other Turkey Bowlers rustling around I will sign off.

This time next year - Abby home from college for the weekend! God willing - we'll all be together counting our blessings and adding to them - in Him we trust.

I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Friday, November 21, 2008

When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts

Depression settles over America.

No, not simply an economic depression, but an emotional one too. America is being stripped down to reveal what is at its core....stripped by daily news of stocks diving and job losses. Bleak forecasters have colored this holiday season in shades of gray for consumers, and red for retailers. The emotional toll is being taken because there seems to be no relief in sight - no bailout is fixing the trouble, no solution seems to be arising. Regrets are abounding over impulse purchases, maxed out mortgages, credit card risk, and foolishness of every type. Panic is now setting in as friends are losing jobs on a daily basis. Crisis meetings are taking place in offices, churches, and at the family dinner table.

In the spirit of it all, I went to the library a few weeks ago and checked out a bunch of books on the Great Depression. "When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts" was one, "A Nickel's Worth of Skim Milk" another. I wanted to gain a perspective on how a generation went through a similar season. What lessons did they learn that we can glean from? What wisdom do they have now about economics, hardship and perseverance?

I learned about hobos - knocking on doors and being fed along their way....along their way where? To the train tracks where they could ride the rails to....where? Supposed land of opportunity? Or just ride the rails because it provided a dry roof over their heads?

I read about soup kitchens and the long lines of humble, hungry families.

I read about brave housewives who fed hobos (brave!) and who converted their homes to boardinghouses...or who simply sucked it up and let their in-laws come live with them. No, not just their parents in-law but also their uncles, aunts and cousins. Not simply "every bed filled" but also filled to overflowing. These same housewives grew gardens and created simple meals off the proverbial shoestring.

I read about kids who put cardboard in their shoes to cover the holes. Who didn't finish their education so they could work and contribute to the family budget.

I read about dads who jumped out windows because they felt overwhelmed by the stock market crash, and that their self-worth only amounted to their net worth.

As I reflect on these readings - before I return them to the library - I think about where America is now, and that core to which it is being stripped. I hope the core is not one of miscalculated self worth. Nor that money is the root of our joy and our security. I think, though, if we find ourselves left with a core like that, it's the perfect time for God to step in and readjust our focus. We're probably easier to work with when we aren't shackled by greed and fear!

As we approach Thanksgiving, it's my personal prayer that when I am stripped of everything else, there is a core that is built on solid faith in the Lord. Layers wrap around that core - I choose hope and humor and generosity and prudence and perseverance! I will choose to limit Depression to one of economics, not emotion.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long Time No Post

Were you raised with the maxim, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"

I think the quote is attributed to Peter Rabbit's mother. Or, my Granny Kay. Either way, the phrase has been an unspoken approach to communication in my life....thus, my silence on my blog over the last few weeks. It was nice to be missed, though! I'll see if I can pick up where I left off.

Over the course of the last month we've had 2 fender benders (my fault), my new van "smashed and grabbed," one mento up and quit on me, and our garage door break (the fixed van is now stuck in the garage until this weekend when Jon fixes the door!). It's been upwards of $1K in unforeseen expenses just in the past couple of weeks, and loads of hassles with mechanics and crippled vans. Of course, the election didn't lift our spirits to compensate! Add in the economy and job insecurity...the list could go on and on.

The net-net (dad phrase there, I think it means "bottom line") is that with each passing day there were stresses that did not lend itself to my writing muse, let's just say that much. :) (see how good I am with my Granny Kay's maxim?)

God has been teaching me quite a bit though. Here are my lessons from Oct/Nov:
  • People are more important than things. What caused me tears and unslept nights was the break in the mentor relationship, not the hemorrhaging of cash nor the transportation hassles. The fender bender's grip of terror on me was knowing there were elderly people in the other car, not the scratch of paint or the boatload of cash it took to aright their dent.
  • Ministry is a risk, but a necessary one. When God asks you to do something, the important thing on your end is to be obedient. Investing in people - being vulnerable and open and giving and committed does not entitle you to the same from them. It is like any relationship - you might do your best, but that does not guarantee you will receive that in kind. Your heart may be broken. Humans fail each other.
  • God heals broken hearts. I think instead of super glue, though, God chooses to stitch together broken hearts. With each little piercing of His needle, and each tug of the thread, there is a little pain and anguish. Each poke and tug is His Spirit working in you and showing you, where you went, what His Word says about the situation......and, both the times you were selfish and when you were acting in righteousness. It's as if this healing pain had a purpose - that He does not permit the broken heart to heal without allowing it to make a difference in your life. He uses the balm of His Spirit, but the stitching hurts....when the pain abates, the healing is complete.
  • I married the right man. I wonder if this is how it is with my relationship with God too? Is it this way for you - that when things are going so swimmingly, you sorta get independent and think you are handling everything so perfectly on your own? And then in times of despair or sadness you get a dose of God's comfort and you say to Him - "Lord! I love you! I am so grateful for you in my life!!!" Your worship is then more poignant, your devotion more complete? Well, over the past month I've brought my brokenness to God and Jon, and was sweetly touched by Jon's forgiveness, mercy, and tenderness toward me. Imagine two fender benders in less than 24 hours? Imagine! One was cause enough for him to worry....but two? I thought I was going to need to whip out the defibrillator ....but instead all I needed was a big ole box of kleenex for me when he chose to hold and comfort me instead of lecture or scold. Tears still pop up when I recall his grace. Anyhow, it all served to further devote my heart to this man, not because of duty or position, but because of love. Through all the trials of this past month, I think this result of rekindling has been worth it all.
So, thus ends my lesson listing. If I were a superstitious woman, I would say "gosh I hope our season of trials can end now because look at how well I've learned the lessons God planned for me!" It does seem like trials come in waves! I am incredibly ready to move on now - I would love to get back into my blessing groove! But I also consider it joy to carry with me my stitched and healing heart, my reignited love for my husband, and my realignment of priorities.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Phantom: Rethought

Last night I saw "Phantom" for the first time!

Well, saw it for the first time as a gal in my 40's, that is. Technically it was my third time to see it, but as is everything in life, there can be something new to see or learn or experience, based on where you are in life.

Reaction to Phantom in my 20's:
  • How cool to be the focus of someone's overwhelming desire, like Christine was to the Phantom.
  • My favorite suitor was Phantom over Raoul, based on the mercy rule, the passion rule, of course his prowess on the keyboard and his ability to compose melancholy love songs. Also dug his candle collection, his boat, his mask and his swirly cape....he cuts a very dashing figure!
  • Raoul seems a little dull. Doesn't really stoke a girls' fire, ifyaknowwhatimean.
  • There's something alluring about being called to the dark side.
Reaction to Phantom in my 30's:
  • It's a little creepy to be the focus of someone's overwhelming desire.
  • Favor starting to tip toward Raoul - what kind of father would the Phantom make? Would he have outbursts of anger in front of the kids - would he noose up the paperboy if he was late with the morning edition of Le Monde? Would he insist on staying in his candlelit lair - could he throw a baseball with PJ (Phantom Junior) or carpool the girls to the mall?
  • Christine is starting to look bipolar. (in my 30's I became increasingly paranoid that everyone was secretly bipolar - lol) And I'm pretty sure the Phantom qualifies as "emo."
  • I'm starting to appreciate Raoul's steadiness, catches of humor, love of the arts, and down to earth take on Little Miss Christine - he knew her as a childhood friend AND as a successful performer....there's a balance there to his love, which is rich.
  • There's something dangerous about being called to the dark side.
Reaction to Phantom in my 40's:
  • Meg is starting to look more interesting as a character. Why doesn't Rauol bag on Christine and go with Meg? She's a supportive friend, loving daughter....she has an inquisitive mind and a courageous spirit - not to mention dancer legs and a lovely voice. What's not to like?
  • The Phantom needs counseling. This guy has some serious issues from his childhood. He does not need a lover, he needs Jesus and he needs a mother's love and maybe a tiny bit of Prozac. This guy could use some homemade chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk after a rough day at the opera. I feel badly that Christine feels she is his rescuer. Girls - don't marry someone who needs rescuing! Bake him some cookies, pour him some milk, give him warm hugs....and then send him to a counselor. But do not think you have to MARRY him to save him!
  • Raoul is too good for Christine. Sure, he's "safe" but he's also studly, brave, and can hold his own in a duet. Hard to find better men than that! She is too "drama" to appreciate him.
  • which leads me to this: Christine is a DRAMA QUEEN! Her mom needed to curb that little girls' tantrums and whims, and needed to open up the Word of God as a way to help her make her choices. You don't go for the pathetic murderer who can sing hauntingly and who has a sexy Deuteronomy 30:19 as a way to decide who to pick. Also - she needs to know a little about spiritual warfare and fruit of the spirit. Let's see - one guy kidnaps, murders, explodes with anger...the other is protective, kind, gentle (studly!)......Christine is not only a drama queen, she's also a ditz. Dr. Laura would have a field day with her. I think this girl has attention needs, and needs a little 1 Peter 1:13 drilled into her (KJV, please).
  • There's something disturbing about being called to the dark side.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

(2 Cor. 14)

Friday, September 26, 2008

End of First Real Week '08/'09


We did it - got to the end of our first Real Week of the school year with everyone in their proper places - piano lessons, college classes, Legacy, basketball, BSF, youth group and the like. My eyes are hazy and crossed as they squint toward the weekend - Ben's worship team auditions, a football game, Katie's gig at the hospital, Mariners Game for the boys, and Phantom for the girls. Oh yes, and somewhere in there we find jeans for Katie! And do church.

I'm enjoying having the girls both gone in the morning. Ben and Dusty are quiet and non-interfering company to keep - I've been able to plunk around doing youth group data entry, and able to research college scholarships with nary an interruption. With the girls both gone it also eliminates more of the run around in the van - gotta love that! Granted, Ben's new piano teacher teaches out of Westlake Center in Seattle, so my Friday mornings just got a little urbanified - can you say WEEKLY SHOPPING EXCUSE? Yes ma'am!

And to wrap up my pathetic post from last week regarding the WSU visit - it went well....ish. Jon convinced Abby to not contact me all day - deliberately - so that went over NOT WELL. NOT WELL AT ALL! Can you say "bouquet of red roses last night" to help smooth my ruffled fur? Can you say Mama Bear moment? It's amazing how after so many years of togetherness (let's see - coming up on 27) we can still miss the mark so badly on showing love, offering forgiveness, effectively communicating, making peace, etc! One would think by now we'd learn by our mistakes and be fairly sliding into home...but....I 'spose until our flesh dies we'll still be looking out for number one now and again, and then have to suffer the consequences. Fortunately, we are getting more infrequent with our flub-ups. I'd like to think a year from now we'll have even less. And I'd like to see in myself more humility, clearer and sweeter communication, and that winsomeness I long for from the Lord. More of Him, less of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simply Pathetic!

I am a wimp!

Today was a practice day for me to be here and for Abby to be there. Did not like it one bit.

I was supposed to be the parent taking her to WSU for Cougar Day - campus tour, chat with the Communications Dept, BBQ and football game....but instead I had to be home to teach Home Fellowship Group tonight. So, off went Abby and Jon at 4:30 am, and I've been anxiously awaiting a phone call or text ALL DAY LONG!


They have either forgotten their phones (not likely for a teen) or their chargers or Pullman is some podunk town with no T-Mobile coverage. Sometime during their trip home their phone will get into a live area and my texts and messages will grab their attention hopefully.

A friend told me to get used to this. AAAAGHHH - this is very very very difficult to imagine! But there is Abby having all these new impressions and experiences, ones that I feel are more important than the average-time-away-from-home ones, since we're still in such deliberation over where she should go to college....anyhow, if I were there with her I'd be able to debrief and infer and deduce and intuitate....and I can't. Grrr. This is what it looks like to not be in control, nor in touch, nor "simpatico" with the first born.

Next year she'll be somewhere, and I will be here. I won't know her friends. I won't get to debrief after parties or classes. I won't be able to read her face or see her eyes sparkle or shine with tears. I won't be able to see her little toes every day. No goodnight or goodmorning kisses.

I think I already have a chunk of my heart in Pullman and she doesn't even go there yet. I'm home and I'm homesick.

Psalm 139:8-10

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Embarrassment of Riches

So I finished "Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. Thought I'd throw in a little book report since it's such a hot topic book...

Basically it boils down to this man's gathering of stories of how to live as Jesus would live in this world. Claiborne is an "ordinary radical" much as Jesus was.

When the book was recommended to me by two people twice in one week, I was intrigued. The first person verbally "threw the book at me" as a challenge to my lifestyle and beliefs; the second inspired me to read it with his own personal excitement for what the book provoked in him. Anyhow, because the first recommendation came with that challenge, I had some defenses to break down before I could hear Claiborne's heart. Pride was my chief stumbling block.

I appreciated Claiborne's take on the Church (we need to do more) and community (we need to connect way more than we're already doing). I value his call to Voluntary Poverty and believe he's doing that successfully! Because of reading this book, I look at things like my pantry (which is stuffed to the point of needing micro-organizing to fit it all in) and my checkbook (which sadly, if a stranger looked through it, they wouldn't infer that I care much about the poor). Because I am an application-type-learner, I'd like to move forward and be a better steward of my resources, and be more hands (and cash) on with my concern for the poor.

Writing that makes me sound quite mechanical, and most readers of "Irresistible Revolution" would cringe at such a response. I'm sure their hearts break over Claiborne's stories, and to a degree mine did as well....yet....experiences and common sense meld with emotions in me.

Experiences like visiting North Philadelphia and seeing Campolo's work over a long weekend...seeing both the joys of reward (we got to go on a 4th of July outing with his inner city kids, which was such fun! also witnessing the bonds and relationships within the community) and the realities of the situation (families working the welfare system pretty strategically, Christian or nonChristian). Deduction: Campolo's ministry is imperfect - it has a terrific heart (helping the needy, choosing poverty, etc) and yet it didn't have all the answers for these people. Granted, little is better than nothing...more importantly - these workers are being obedient to God's call on their life, so I trust the fruit is rich and abundant.

I mostly take issue with Claiborne's judgement on Christians. He's a little heavy with his criticism of Christians in suburbia - with their self-centered lifestyles and their samplings of behavior that "makes them feel better" - like donating money to a cause, or going on short-term missions. He gave me a feel that he snubs even third party charities like World Vision - where a donor can write a check but not interact personally with the receiver - that donating to such is ineffective or wrong. My thought is that God has called Claiborne to a certain lifestyle - playing in fire hydrants with inner city children, sleeping in the streets with the homeless, packing up and going to India or Iraq to hug the ill or wounded.....and he is being obedient to that call, which is awesome. However, to cast judgement on Christians who are not following that exact pattern is spiritually presumptuous.

I believe God has called Christians into all walks of life, and we are to be obedient to Him wherever we are - we are to serve those around us, be examples and sources of love and grace, and to use our gifts and talents for His Kingdom. For one, that might be Iraq. For another, it could be Wall Street. There are certain challenges of being Salt and Light in either location - one could slip into self-righteousness ('oh, look how i suffer so! i must be a great Christian') or into self-dependence ('oh, look at my paycheck - i am so talented and successful!')...but the point is that it is the Lord who will direct a man's steps and inspire/strengthen/equip him for every good work which was determined before the earth's foundation was laid. I'm not sure all of us are called to play in fire hydrants 24/7. In fact, I think God has sprinkled His people throughout the world for a purpose - some are working Wall Street to underwrite someone else's ministry in the fire hydrant....knowwhatimean?

I see now where many readers of "Irresistible Revolution" have gotten their reverse discrimination worldview. What Claiborne might've intended was to inspire the Church to action - to sacrifice and to Christlikeness....but what has resulted instead is a skewed perspective on other Christians, I believe. The focus has changed from Grace and the contents of a man's heart - to one of works and self-righteousness. (IF you have slept on the streets with the homeless, THEN you are a real Christian. IF you live in poverty, THEN you are wise and I'll listen to you. IF you live in a ghetto, THEN you are Christlike. And the converse? IF you afford braces for your child's teeth, THEN you have an ungodly take on finances. IF you have only done short-term missions, THEN you shouldn't voice opinions on global matters, etc....retch)

To me it seems like such a slippery slope. We desire to have Christ's heart and mind, yet how quickly do we take works to analyze/judge ourselves and others? And once we've categorized other Christians, we reversely discriminate - only choosing to care for, love, listen to, involve with - those who are disenfranchised or who have the same level of (self) righteousness that we perceive ourselves to have. I think the bigger challenge than hugging children in Iraq or playing in fire hydrants is to daily/hourly/minutely humble ourselves, to love others, and to listen for God's promptings on how we spend our money, time, energy, gifts, etc....and then to obey those promptings. If the Body of Christ operated like that, not only would we be a "well-oiled machine" but also a phenomenal witness. The more time we spend nitpicking each other and trying to find modern day Pharisees, the more we are enslaved by the enemy who would like to see nothing more than for us to be ineffective!

Grace = need more.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pullman or PLNU?

This is the time of year we plan for next year.

Next September all of our questions will have answers with them - well, at least regarding colleges. This month Abby studies for the SATs, visits campuses, and strives for excellence at BCC. She works on her deadlines and essays and we ask questions of "those who have gone before" in hopes of narrowing her career focus. We pray and we pray about things like housing, environment, readiness and worldviews.

At this juncture it appears her colleges have been whittled down to two choices - WSU and PLNU. Both with outstanding broadcast journalism/communications departments, but one dressed in frugality and beer, and one in cost and Christianity. (I know full well that reputations aren't always 100% correct, these are just broad generalizations)

So, we are at a crossroads of decision. It is an exciting place to be!

If I were to choose today, I might go with WSU because of it's relative proximity. (5 hours by car versus 3 hours by plane....or 24 hours by car! yikes) I look at Abby and think of her being so SO far away in Southern California and it just about breaks my heart. I know our visits would be confined to major holidays only - aaaaghhh that seems pretty unthinkable from where I'm sitting now!

I'm wondering if other moms feel like I do. Had I sent her away to school all these years, would I be more comfortable with her absence? Had she been a difficult teenager, would that absence be welcomed? Will this senior year be such a time of maturing that by next September we'll both be ready for the separation? Did my parents ever feel this way? (I think not!)

Anyhow, I do not regret our homeschooling. If I were hit by a truck today, I would have been thankful for our extra hours together, and I would've been grateful for the bond we share - I would have confidence that she would have both quantity and quality of memories after I was gone. In fact, our homechooling has given me a scooch more confidence that she is rooted and grounded in the most important things, and wherever she ends up she'll be just fine! It's actually just me that might not be.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

(Psalm 139: 7-10)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Glimpse of the Past, Glimpse of the Future

So today as we were packing the van for our car trip to Newport, I got a glimpse of the past and a glimpse of the future.

The glimpse of the past came to me in memories of my own family going on car trips - most often it was to our grandparents' house in Bishop, CA....6 hours from home. We had the trip down to a science - stopped at Astro Burger every time for lunch in the middle of the blazing dad would blare his classical music from the rear speakers so as to assure conversation privacy with mom...and I was sure to sleep through at least half the trip. Anyhow, thinking back on my childhood car trips made me appreciate all the details my parents covered so effortlessly - mom would provide snacks (she's more of a grape snacker than a chip or candy snacker - in fact, I can't recall any junk food on trip!), and dad would load the luggage and make sure the car was in good condition.

My family's style of travel was to only knock down 8 hours max in the car - or was that because we never went further than that? We had relatives in the Bay Area, so getting to San Francisco never took longer than 8 hours....and if we were driving any further north, the rest of the miles could be taken after a night's stop with them. I suppose we flew more often than we drove - wonder it seems new to plan car trips with Jon!

My parents are both hyper-planners, so we always had reservations at hotels (AAA approved, of course) and we always knew ahead of time where our stops were going to be. This is a big difference with Jon and I - he'd prefer to drive the 22 hours straight to Newport - and/or just stop along the way when we are worn out....playing Hotel Roulette, no AAA suggestions needed.

Anyhow, the glimpse into the future was thinking of how my children will do vacations with their own children. Will they pack grapes or candy? Will they plan and make reservations or just drive through the night? Will they eat in familiar chain restaurants or greasy local spoons? Will they lose their temper when unexpected and annoying things arise? Will they splurge on books instead of fashion? Will they fly or drive?

It's cool to think of my kids one day orchestrating their family travels. I hope our trip this week gives them ideas to grow on for that "one day" that they are in charge! Praying Jon and I will invest in their "happy childhood memory bank" for the day they reflect back on family travel. Travel, not travail. That is my goal. :)

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Showers Early, Rain Later

Today's forecast was "showers early, rain later."

My response? HOORAY! Double backflips and high five's all around - this is great news! (albeit redundant and/or confusing...reminds me of how Eskimos supposedly have a jillion words to describe "snow".....Seattle forecasters have a jillion different ways to describe rain!)

Anyhow, my jubilance is a result of a deep character flaw of mine. I would rather sacrifice a day (or two) of rain and chill in the summer so that I don't have to water my plants any more.

By August I am so tired to death of my plants and am ready for them all to just die and be covered with moss again. Here in the Pacific Northwest, most people don't have watering systems (because the Good Lord takes care of that naturally, practically DAILY)....but when the sky is cloudless, one must troop out to the garden with a hose and tenderly saturate the flowers/grass/shrubs/baby trees by hand. QUITE time consuming, and quite annoying on a daily basis. I generally assign the job to my children, but every third day or so it's up to me to go out and do it properly - deeply to the roots, not just getting the leaves wet and calling it good.

As an aside, I am not the cruelest gardener in the NW. A friend of mine deliberately waters her plants lightly so that they keep a shallow root system! Thus, they barely survive on mere drops - thus, her workload is lighter. Cruelty!

In May I am the most enthusiastic of gardeners - excited to get my new plants, hanging baskets and thrilled to see perreniels coming back and setting blooms. In June my garden looks clean and fairly tidy - roses begin to bloom and everything is fresh and colorful. By the end of July, though, I'm starting to assign garden work to my kids - my back is hurting - and weeds are emerging, rose leaves are blackspotting, petunias need deadheading. (thankfully my mom was here in late July - she is a star gardener and is tireless and creative in my yard) Now it is August, and I'm ready for being the lazy gardener more backyard dinners, no more guests to sit on the patio and stare at my blackspot.....ready to just reign everyone in and keep just the house clean and presentable.

So my deep character flaw that this represents is my lack of completion focus. Since childhood, I've been a great project starter but a poor finisher. This is one reason I only had 3 kids, and had them in 3.5 years - I knew I could be really really great at starting a family (seemed to have all the equipment working right, and really adored those early years too!), but I wanted to make sure I didnt' string things out too much and risk doing a really poor job with the last child. I didn't want to be too burned out to read bedtime stories, or to not give adequate time. This character flaw was my parents' main concern (and then sorta mine, too) about homeschooling - would it be a project that got off to an enthusiastic start, but then peter out and my children would be couch surfers and fulltime droolers? (the answer to this burning question is yes: I have relaxed an awful lot in my homeschooling efforts, but fortunately I sowed enough good seeeds at the beginning - the kids are all self-motivated and responsible, and fortunately have their daddy's good mental genes!)

The rain in its due season (you know God planned today's rain showers as a sign of mercy to me and my garden) is characteristic of Him and His grace toward me. Just when you think I am wearing down in life, and have come to the end of my motivation and efforts, He is ready to step in and recharge me - redirect - and cover my flaws with His perfect power. I think He does this so HE gets the glory and not myself. For example, for anyone who meets my children and enjoys them, or admires their accomplishments....I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that those things are there because of God....not me. I was used in the process, but as a faulty tool. Yes, homeschooling is an amazing lifestyle, and the best choice for our family, but for me to collect credit would be unthinkable. God's rain of mercy and grace upon our children came in due season - showers early (light and spotty rain, for you non NWesterners) when I still had motivation and enthusiasm....and rain late (heavy, constant) when I was at the end of myself.

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it;
I, the LORD, have created it.

Isaiah 45:8

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby's First Bar Mitzvah

Well, my mom can finally write in my baby book that I got to attend a Bar Mitzvah! Finally!

We took the whole family, even though the girls don't know Sam much. I recognized this as a unique cultural opportunity, so we slapped on the sundresses and sandals, ties and belts, and off we went.

Katie will one day blog about her own strong opinions regarding the occasion. :) Suffice to say for now she'd like to marry a Messianic Jew, but she is sensitive to any smack of idol worship, even if it is the Torah that people are focusing on.

A few things I really liked:
  • the strong family presence in the ceremony - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents (and parents, of course). I am curious whether or not family is present as much in every day Temple life - in contrast, sometimes I feel like at our church I have no clue who the students' parents are.....I have a sneaking suspicion a lot of them are just dropped off. Anyhow, I really really liked seeing family.
  • I liked the charge to the young man/woman to revere the Torah's teachings and to make it a priority to study it throughout their life on a daily basis. The Torah was definitely the star of the show - wow! I loved that. It showed such respect. Sometimes I think in NW3 we are almost apologetic about the amount of scripture we ask our kids to study at the midweek - like "oops - here is a portion - eeek - it's almost 10 verses...SORRY!" And at Temple yesterday there was pretty much nonstop readings and prayers from scripture - no apologies.
  • I also liked the ceremony. It recognizes a new phase in life - that of being old enough to be responsible and mature and growing in one's faith. Granted, not every 13 year old would be ready for such a charge - but if not at 13, then when? Americans extend youth beyond what it really should be - some 20-somethings could use a little "charge" to get them going! LOL. I think ceremonies help by giving life a little shape - some stepping stones, so to speak.
Mazel Tov!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reaction to John Edwards

Last week the news of John Edwards' infidelity broke in the mainstream media.

Audible gasps emanated from American women, and even a few male eyebrows raised. To think of a man cheating on a wife with incurable cancer! The disdain was palpable in the press, at the water cooler, and at the family dinner table.

It did get me thinking about the degree to which we can tolerate infidelity. John Edwards' perhaps couldn't have easily gotten away with this even ten years ago - at that point, he and his wife had suffered through the death of their oldest son, Wade, and were planning Part Two of their family with the births of Emma and Jack. But rewind back perhaps 2o years when he was "just" married with 2 children - had he been unfaithful then, would our collective response be different?

Thirty years with a spouse....4 children...a bleak outlook regarding her cancer...yes, the disdain for his unfaithfulness is warranted. But I would like to purpose that our reaction to infidelity should be the same if he were "just" married, even without children or cancer in the picture. Bearing children or cancer cells does not make you any more valuable as a human being - Elizabeth should elicit the same honor and respect from her husband no matter her medical condition. And we as a culture should treat each marital affair - whether in the news or in our neighborhood - with the same amount of shock and awe as we did last week when Edwards was exposed.

Another thought that has been percolating in regards to this story: what I call "The Canonization of Cancer." We see it here with the Edwards. Again, if we rewound the tape 20 years ago and he had cheated on her precancer, would we have been as disturbed by this story? (It's somewhat unfortunate to use Elizabeth as our example here because I truly do admire her in so many ways!) Let's imagine she is an amazing and yet flawed woman (like so many of us are!). Let's even go as far to say she is 75% amazing and 25% flawed, just for the purpose of this exercise. So - with a cancer diagnosis, does her 25% flaw either disappear or become instantly forgiven and erased from memory?

My point here is that I also think our culture canonizes, or creates saints, out of cancer victims. While I believe the hardship of cancer certainly hones and refines and develops character, I find it interesting to consider that America considers it is a "free pass" of sorts. No longer are you accountable for past actions and behavior - instead you are seen through lenses of compassion and grace. No longer will we tolerate your spouse cheating on you. Almost overnight you are raised to a new level of human value. At this level you deserve fidelity, honesty, forgiveness, kindness and respect.

My point here is that we should challenge ourselves to consider all humans with such value. Would we treat our spouse differently if we had a medical report in our hand? If the biopsy comes back negative, do we not forgive as readily? If the biopsy is positive, do we then end our philandering? Or at the least do we curtail our selfishness? For our friends - do we communicate more gracefully, love more generously, only when they are diagnosed?

How much would a cancer diagnosis change our ministry, relationships...our personality and perspective?

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
~Psalm 90:12

Friday, July 25, 2008

Back from Camp

OK, only if I am in heaven next year will I miss JH Camp at Wenatchee!

I read my previous post and it sounded "iffy," but God willing I will return next was that awesome.

Small, short, hyper people worshipping and making breakthroughs in their walk with the Lord.

My favorite style of worship - the kind with warm wind whipping around you as a reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

Baptisms (34 this year!) in the Wenatchee River - kids psyched to leave their old life buried and to raise to walk a new life! Their excitement for that always revitalizes me and brings me back to basics - aaaaah thank you Lord for that new life!

Anyhow, I had my perfect job this year at camp - Baptism Coordinator and Floating Counselor. LOVED IT! Had significant conversations with at least a dozen people sprinkled throughout the weekend, which is my favorite style of ministry. Got to laugh at the antics, hang with the students, and still make emergency runs to Starbucks. :) Amazing week.

My heart is changing, which is so awesome. I remember months before our youth missions trip to Mexico I spoke with Betty (a saint in our congregation). She was saying that in her prayers she was asking God to say YES to her going - she wanted it that badly. I was more in the frame of mind of "Lord, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from my lips!" It was such a paradigm shift to think of someone begging God for permission to go...I figured He'd say yes to any such, I couldn't really fathom that craving to go. But now I have that same feeling, not only for Wenatchee but also for Mexico! Seriously - who would've thunk it? That new creation that the baptizers celebrated is also the one I continuously celebrate in my walk with Him!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, July 18, 2008

Retraction and Reflection

I've already retracted an blog - my 3rd on parenting.

No, you can't see it anymore - I deleted it and will rewrite it. No sooner did I write about the payoffs of being a stay-at-home mom then I went to pick up Ben from basketball camp. Of all the hundreds of kids there, one was chosen to read his homage to his mom aloud to the camp - a beautifully written, humble and honoring his WORKING MOM. LOL! I found it very like God to say - "Alison, please check your holier-than-thou attitude about being a stay at home mom. I will bless those I will bless, and am sovereign over these matters." Sooo - I will rewrite the blog and strive for it to be peppered with grace (which I shot for in the beginning! promise! I just have to heed that red flag that I think I saw God waving over this mother and her boy).

Anyhow, what a week. Kids home from camp.....lots of laundry and listening! Then 2 mothers' funerals - their daughters being friends with my unexpected, one anticipated but dreaded. Now I am off to Junior High camp in the morning - most probably my last Wenatchee.

So - I've retracted so now let me reflect. The mothers dying has given new energy to me about my own purpose. It's help me not be so LAME about stupid issues (wearing a bathing suit in front of teenagers) and to yearn for the heart of what camp is all about - connecting students with Christ. Also - to enjoy the life that Christ has intended for us - that camp feeling of freedom and joy and closeness to Him - good to get that shot in the arm! It definitely outweighs the tents and gross-out bathrooms by a mile. I am what I am - NOT A CAMPER! :) But I love students and I love Christ - putting the two together is the best in satisfaction.

A year from now? I might visit Wenatchee and still savor the baptisms, the worship in the wind, and the crazy laughter from smaller people. But for now I will not GUARANTEE that it will happen - look at Emily's mom and Kami's mom - aaaarrrgh - I will savor today and what the Lord has laid out for is well with my soul!

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
(Prov. 16:9)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Parenting: Using the Fussing Corner

Every parent has their pet peeve about children - their own, and others' children.

My particular pet peeve is whining. What bugs me about it is the underlying attitude of most whining - it is unthankful, it is rebellious, it selfish, and it is petty. Yes, of course a child who is sick or overtired is whining because they don't have the maturity to nobly cope with hardship! I am talking about all other types of whining in this case.

One observation I've made about whining is that it does not improve with age if it is not disciplined away. I have seen school-aged children whine about what's on their dinner plate, junior highers whine about "needing" a cell phone, high schoolers whining about their "unfair teachers"....I'm sure even some adults still whine! So I don't think it behooves a parent to ignore or distract their toddler/preschooler when they are whining - I don't think it's something a human outgrows. I think parents need to deal with it straight on.

Little tidbit from the Acone home: we used the Fussing Corner as a place that was okay for the kid to whine and tantrum in....the point was that it was out of sight from ME (thus keeping my blood pressure low plus not reinforcing them in this state). It was located in the hallway by the front door - out in plain sight (therefore safe) and easy to get to for little legs. Away from toys. Away from fun. Away from sympathetic grandparent glances. :)

When the child began to whine or tantrum in any way, I would give the neutralized tone of voice "how about you go to the fussing corner until you are done, and then you can come out and we'll talk about it" (or "play" or "finish dinner"). After awhile, the child began to turn their attitude around as they simply walked toward the corner - they were able to stop the tear flow, or adjust the tone of voice....they knew that spending time in the corner with their bad attitude wasn't really going to get them the payoff they desired (attention, the toy they were fighting over, certainly it wasn't going to get them their way!). Basically, spending time in the corner was considered a waste of energy and my kids were smart enough to learn how to cope with negative feelings before it got the better of them.

After they were done fussing and had come out of the corner, of course there was always my positive and warm greeting, and there was something GOOD to participate in. This doesn't mean they were rewarded for coming out with a good attitude - that would be classified as bribery - but I do believe that being a good citizen (getting along, being cheerful, sharing with others) has rewards of its own....people are happy to see you, you can be a part of group activities, you can eat a good meal, play with your toys, and enjoy the harmony of friendly relationships. Being in the corner with tears and a mad heart is a bummer. Being stuck in the corner with a drag IS a drag!

I think I can attribute my daughters' pleasant teenaged attitudes to the use of the Fussing Corner. The principle of "adjust the negative attitude" is fairly engrained by now, and we've avoided the "typical" emotional rollercoaster that preteen and teen girls have earned a reputation for riding. No, they aren't emotionally stunted...but they do laugh an enormous amount more than they ever cry, and they are cheery and agreeable and long-suffering...even when sick or during long travels or doing hard labor or being inconvenienced. I think the basic premise of whining not paying off has virtually eliminated that from their character.

God has been so good to me to help me deal with the issue of whining, since it has always been my pet peeve. By eliminating that monster from our home, we have been left with an atmosphere of peace which is where Jon and I function best. Probably all of us do! I hope if you are having issues with whining or fussing that you will try a Fussing Corner for a month and enjoy the results. My bet is that you'll keep it once you give it a trial run.

For the despondent, every day brings trouble;

for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Pr. 15:15)

Parenting Advice: First Step Toward Doom?

I consider myself not superstitious. I don't knock on wood, I avoid horoscopes, and think pretty much anyone consulting a stargazer is going to hell in a handbasket. :)

But one thing that has challenged me as an older, "been down the road" type of woman is the subject of advice giving. I am all for authors and speakers and mentors to share their wisdom with those who are further behind in the journey! In fact, I do think that is biblical and wise and practical....three of my favorite things. But when I presume to give advice I shudder at crossing the line between humility and pride....where angels fear to tread, if you glance through the Bible at what God thinks of proud people! He opposes them! He lowers them! Two things that strike fear into my heart.

Well, a few people have commented to me before that they think I should write a book on parenting. :) Somehow I feel like the minute I pen a paragraph on parenting, my children will up and rebel as a way for God to keep my ego in check. It has never been worth that kind of gamble for me - I've been happy to just continue the course I'm on, and enjoy the results.....but....then someone else will ask for parenting wisdom and I think - if I share some and maintain humility, then it's the best of both worlds, right? I am in God's Will both in attitude and in practice.The challenge is to offer advice and maintain a humble spirit so that God doesn't have to take out the pruning shears.

So gulp - here goes the first of a few posts on parenting. Consider it free material - feel free to debate me on it if you disagree - or feel free to ignore it. My disclaimer at the outset is that I am confident the Lord has co-parented with me and has filled my no way do I claim to have reached the finish line in parenting yet! But with God's help I have enjoyed each stage of my children's lives (with the exception of a challenging first year with Abby) and they continue to bless Jon and I, as well as those around them. (for those who don't know them personally, Abby is 17, Katie is 15.5 and Ben is 13.5). This continual blessing is what I desire others to have in their home, as we have.

Most of the people who ask me for parenting tips are those with babies and toddlers and school-aged kids, so that's where I'll start.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Year in SL

Last night was our first night of Student Leadership for 08/09.

Rory and I led the two groups in back-to-back mode, which is so cool. The JHers are so young and squirrely - but have these amazing insights that constantly surprise me. We have 10 (out of 17) new faces on board - I can't wait to see if a year mellows out the squirrels, and I can't wait to see these guys in all new situations - camps, Sundays, and hopefully Mexico!

The HSers of course were way more chill and sophisticated. :) They are such superstars too - as I looked around the room I could tell stories in my heart of the way they have served so much already - they are indeed the cream of the crop.

This could be my last year with my heart I've purposed to finish with Abby's class which would make it a full 10 years in ministry with that group. Granted, the other classes tend to worm their way into my heart eventually too - so it might turn out that I can't leave until they're ALL gone! Anyhow, that will be interesting - this time next year will I be in SL? I wonder how clearly/strongly God will lead me on that one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Graduation Countdown

365 days and counting until Abby graduates from high school.

We went to Legacy's graduation ceremony over the weekend. What struck me as we watched the baby-pictures-morphing-into-young-adult-pictures, and as we listened to the parents' exhortations and the graduates appreciation...was that next year that will be US. It will be slides of Baby Abby on screen - shots of her sweet childhood, sibling times, lisp-singing...and then the metamorphosis to this graceful, musical and radiant teen....

It will be Jon and I who have to nutshell her into 150 words. And then somehow manage to articulate through tears. And then stand there as she delivers 100 words back to us....

And then she'll leave us.

I think homeschooling might mean even more to me this time next year than it ever did. I'm wondering if there really is a saturation point in parenting - do you ever get tired of them? Is there ever a moment when you say - "OK! DONE! They know all they possibly could know and so WHOOSH! off they go." I think this time next year I will be glad to say - "I chose to use each moment to be with them - watch them grow - read with them - share adventures and laughter with them....not waste the days with them gone....because too soon they leave, regardless."

Monday, June 9, 2008

So, here is a "before" and an "after" picture of my jawline. The "before" was taken the night before the surgery - my small group went out for "formal night along Kirkland waterfront", so I got to be happily distracted from my upcoming disfiguration. :)

They say "a lot can happen in a year" so I'm hoping my scar will shrink and fade in a year's time.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Scarlet Letter

I have a scarlet letter to wear for the rest of my life. It is an "L", right on my jawline.

L is for LAME....someone who slathers themselves with baby oil and lays on the beach to fry, day after sunny day, year after year growing up in Newport Beach....oh, and without sunscreen....they are LAME.

L is for LOST....I lost a chunk of skin cancer yesterday and got 15 stitches instead.

L is for LAUGHTER....the kids still have that, and tease about finally getting to qualify for college scholarships because their mom "has cancer."

L is for LOVED....I feel that way because Jon is far more worried about my health than about my appearance. Sweetly and surprisingly encouraging to such an old woman as myself.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Goodbye Pastor Dave

Today at church I will wish I wore waterproof mascara.

I know I'll cry during Pastor Dave's "tribute service" or whatever the term's his last service to lead worship before he leaves OCC. In honor of his 27 years there, the choir and orchestra will be reuniting and worshiping one last time together. I got a sneak peak at their rehearsal on Wednesday night and was bowled over by the amount of people on stage...amazing!! Amazed to think of that amount of people once having been a part of the OCC family... and now... gone - that's how I read the full stage.

I'm trying to be a big girl and recognize this moment as a glimpse of heaven - that when we are there, we will be reunited with faces that were precious to us, and we will worship together and it will be good and crowded and musical. (no tears then though!)

Anyhow, I think I grieve Pastor Dave's departure on a few levels. One, the immature level of me that hates change. :) Two, the level of me that recognizes a Good Man and the benefit of having one around. You really can't ask for a more righteous man than Pastor Dave, and sitting under his teaching or basking in his presence is really a blessing. I am SO GLAD that Katie got to work under him this past year as the choir pianist - God really saw ahead of the game on that one and knew to put her in that spot for a brief but blessed season! Thirdly, I think genetically I have a grief for losing part of the arts at our church - choir and orchestra. I think, being the granddaughter of a choral conductor, that my appreciation for a broader range of music transcends into a broader range of worship style (said conductor grandfather was also a worship pastor).

So, on all those levels - the immature, the respectful and the genetic - I will be wishing I had waterproof mascara today at church.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Year Ago

Speaking of "a lot can happen in a year," I am remembering this time last year. It was a weekend full of nostalgic pain, as a former student of mine was killed in a car accident.

Amy was 25 when she died - a young bride heading off to UCLA's MBA program...full of life and hope and dreams and zest like no other. Dimples, strawberry blond hair, something in her eyes far more than a twinkle - almost a lightning bolt? or a shooting star? So bright - so magnetic for Christ - it's still hard to believe that a mere accident could snuff out a light like that.

So in a year's time my grief has gone from acute and piercing and a little duller and more "achy..." but still confused. To visit her memorial page and see her pictures ( is to scratch the wound and let it bleed - so it's easier to not go there.

One thing I've taken away from her life and death is to really savor my children since there are no guarantees that we all see our 80th birthday. Too often we forget that - we think we are immune to the unexpected. Katie in particular reminds me of Amy - brilliant in mind and spirit, dimpled and zesty - I think in honor of Amy, Katie will be getting some extra kisses and hugs from her mom this week.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

After Five Years - New Chapter

Last night might have been my last night as a small group leader in Student Ministries.

I've led a group for the past five years, and have loved spending my Wednesday nights with junior highers - mostly 9th grade girls. I love being a part of the leadership, the laughter, and having that midweek shot-in-the-arm of worship and refocus. I love being inspired by the spiritual growth in young people, which is quite humbling and incredibly real. I owe whatever is young and fresh about me to the youth in NW3 - without them I would be undoubtedly a cranky crone.

However, I had felt a sense of change even before Pastor Jake posed a new opportunity before me. I've "felt my years" in a sense - felt that my age was more of an asset to the leadership (perhaps) than to your typical 9th grade girl. Understandably they want someone young, fun and cool....and I definitely only fit one of those qualifications!

Next year I think I'll like being the Small Group Floater Chick for both Fuel and Deeper. I'll get to connect to ALL the Student Ministry leaders and stay connected to ALL the students, which truly is a dream come true....I absolutely hate when students leave and they become a memory instead of a reality in my world. (no, I am not good with change!) In my wildest dreams/prayers I wish I could go to Houseboats AND Wenatchee, both retreats and Mexico too! For sure I will keep on with Student Leadership as my best connection to actual students.

But with every new phase in life you look at the old phase and wonder what parts about it you will painfully miss. I'm wondering if I'll miss that sense of belonging with all the other small group leaders - will my presence seem natural or awkward in my new role?

Next week might cement my resolve to move on to that new role: our last activity as 9th graders is to dress up in beautiful "prom dresses" (good night nurse! mine is 25 years old and a size 3 - no way in heck is that fitting), and we will walk around the Kirkland waterfront with ice cream cones. The "cement part" is that most of the girls are planning to jump off the dock into Lake Washington, and I'm sure the young, fun and cool leaders will jump too. I'm pretty sure it will be at that point where I KNOW it's time to move on! I'll tell you next week if I jump as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorable Memorial Day wedding

The only thing I love more than rocking babies is a wedding.

Kellyn and Joe were married on Sunday night, and my heart is still warm and squooshy. I loved his vulnerability at the altar - such unabashed love and devotion towards his bride beaming out from his tear-drenched face. He looked ready to die for her - or ready to LIVE for her...what better embodiment of love could there be? And of course Kellyn was her typically radiant self - but at the altar I glimpsed another side of her....strong and steady like a rock - ready to be loved and to love - someone you could bank on for the "better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health." Quite a woman.

The night was warm from the sun and the fellowship. The venue spoke timelessness and beauty. Love was thick and welcoming and magnetic and powerful. Memorable Memorial Day wedding.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Do You Measure a Year?

In honor of my new blog, chronically a "year in the life," I want to throw in some of my favorite lyrics to a song from Rent. I'm sure this will be the first of many lyrics I use to express myself here - I am a confirmed Broadway/Country/Christian music lover and think that if I were a scooch more talented (LOL) I'd be a composer. Or if I were a scooch more emo I'd be a poet.

Anyway, here's "Seasons of Love" from Rent:

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.

525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?

Measure in love...Seasons of love.

525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan.

525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.

In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends

let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends.

Remember the love! Remember the love!

Measure in love...Seasons of love!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Lot Can Happen in a Year

Have you ever been quoted before? I envy those people who come up with inspirational or quippy quotes that are forever attributed to them....or that go beyond the typical "as my mom used to say....someone's gonna put an eye out!" or, "as my mom used to say....someone's going to get hurt!"

(why is it that mothers have doom and gloom sayings? what is that about?)

Anyhow, probably the only thing slightly original that my kids have heard me say repeatedly is, "a lot can happen in a year."

friends can come and sometimes they go....feelings can change....circumstances and opinions and world events and popularity ratings and families and favorites....they all have a way of looking different from one year to the next. even God's truth in the Word will affect me differently one year to the next, although for the record I maintain that He is unchangeable, immutable and a ROCK. when you hear that phrase, "some things never change," He is what they are referring to.

I think the goal of this blog is to capture some of the changes that happen along the way from June 07 to June 08....possibly longer if this becomes addictive. :) I'm not expecting anyone to find my musings pivotal or riveting - rather, they might be mundane and occasionally inflammatory (since I tend to be both)....but I am trying to keep in mind that this blog is not for others necessarily....rather, it is to challenge myself to become more vulnerable and expressive, and perhaps leave an immortalized blip in the cyberworld.