These Boots

As promised: the Easter boots. Big win this time. The girls loved them, and we were able to take the tromp into the woods without worrying about the muck or mud. In fact, they’ve made appearances almost every day since, even when there was not a puddle in sight. As my friend Stephanie says, “My rainboots make me fearless.” We agree. (Photo credit: Ryan Long.)

Easter Boots

 

Creative Encouragement

My husband is hosting a songwriting challenge on his blog this week called 5in5. The participants (including the two of us as a team) are committing to writing five songs in five days. Last night’s third song was completed just under the deadline! And I heard that story from more than one of the groups.

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves during the project and Dan is planning a reflection post after the week is over, but I have one observation that has meant the most to me so far.

 

Last night as we tweaked and scrubbed the song we were working on, I heard a sweet noise coming from Jesse’s room. I walked through his dark room to find him seated on the floor of his lighted closet with a notebook and pen in his hand. He was humming out the tune to the words he was writing down in his neat 4th grade penmanship.

“What’cha working on, Jess?”

“A song.”

Because, apparently, we do that now. We write songs. Every morning this week he has asked to hear the songs we worked on the night before. I guess he finally decided to give it a shot himself. Because he can. Somehow, because we tried, it gave him permission.

And that is worth everything.

 

 

Also check out Serenity’s take on why creating matters. So good.

Easter Mom

I can’t wait to show you the new rubber boots that will serve as Easter baskets for the kids this year, all stuffed with fake green grass and chocolates. I hope I’ll get to take the kids on a walk in the woods at my Grandparents’ farm and watch them revel in the joy of exploring a small winding creek. In Sunday School we’ll cut out big paper stones and paste them carefully to the side of a hillside tomb. We’ll put the sticker of an angel in the space next to Mary. And it will all be as it should be for them.

For me, I know there is more. More that they will grow into and understand someday.

. . . .

This week driving Claire home from physical therapy (an hour each way), I was able to listen to a moving message by Chuck Swindoll. After he encouraged his audience to take the time to soak in the difficulty of the Passion Week instead of glossing over it as a means to an end, the musicians at his church performed a piece called “Pieta” by Joseph M. Martin. I assume the lyrics and music, which are both beautiful and haunting, were inspired by the famous Michelangelo sculpture of the same name.

I wanted to post the lyrics for you here as a reminder of what it really means to be an Easter Mom:

In the shadow of a manger, by a candle’s dancing flame, tender Mary holds her baby, and she breathes His holy name. “Jesus rest your weary head, close your weeping eyes.” As evening falls, she starts to sing a lullaby. “Lulay, lulay, peace be yours tonight.”

In the shadow of the temple, in a place so far from home, Mary sees her child of wonder, and she marvels how He’s grown. “Jesus rest your weary head, and think on gentle things.” With loving arms she holds her Savior and she sings, “Lulay, lulay, peace be yours tonight.”

In the shadow of Golgotha, underneath a darkened sky, Mary gently cradles Jesus. Through her tears she says goodbye. “Jesus rest your weary head. Your work on earth is done. And as the darkness falls, she whispers to her son, “Lulay, lulay, peace be yours tonight.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*photo credit to borablu

“profitable for . . . training in righteousness”

Based on our discussions here and here, I’ve gone a bit more Tiger Mother on Ada in regards to her piano practicing. She’s just getting to the place that running through her material 30 minutes before her lesson isn’t getting the job done anymore. She has to put in more actual work now and, frankly, she’d rather play outside on her scooter.

But we discuss. And I remind her that if she wants to play like Daddy she needs to “work at it” and “try hard” to master the material. She replies, “I never see Daddy practice.” I tell her Daddy practices when she is at school. : )

One particularly sunny afternoon last week found Ada slumped over the keyboard in our living room moaning about the task in front of her: ten minutes of actual piano playing. I even set a timer. But it still loomed in front of her and she plucked out a scale or two while grumbling. I was occupied on my computer and determined to ignore her whining, so I didn’t notice when it had stopped until she said this:

“Mom, something just made a lot of sense to me.”

“Really? What?”

“Look at this,” and she showed me a Scripture strategically placed at the bottom of her piano lesson page and decorated with an ornamental frame and scrollwork.

“What does it say?”

Worship the LORD with gladness. I have NOT been doing that.” She smiles at me slyly.

“Can you start?”

“Yep!” And she did.

The ten minutes flew by and I believed all over again that the Word of God to us today speaks for itself. Even to a child. It just needs to be read and then willingly applied to our circumstances. Smart girl, that one!

Beautiful, Fragile Jars

On Saturday night I bought Claire a purple baby afghan for one of her dolls at a benefit auction for a friend of mine from high school. This particular friend has been diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. He is suffering through treatments designed to prolong what they now expect to be a short life.

Just last summer, while visiting his mother who lives nearby, he brought his family to my door just to see if we were home. I’m so glad we were. He was proud of his beautiful wife and charming children. Of course that warm afternoon sticks out to me in retrospect. I was barefoot and embarrassed that my roses needed pruned. None of that matters now. As another friend said, “He is not much longer for this world.”

And he’s not the only one. Even while I basked in the warm country sounds of a seasoned auctioneer that evening, I was aware that the song of his voice probably carried across the town square to the porch where another friend’s father sat quietly. Just a few weeks ago he heard the same word: cancer. Stage 4. Pancreas to the liver. Chemotherapy only to slow its progress.

Of course, there are more. You know them. I know them. On that night I felt gluttonous for sharing the news we had received earlier in the week: Seren’s cancer was gone. A clear scan. What everyone else hopes for. People would ask and then we would nod knowingly, rejoice quietly. Cancer is a like a tornado that flies down suburban sidewalks ripping holes in some houses and leaving others untouched. And it never makes sense.

It seems too common to me now, but I remember when mortality first hit my house directly. Up until then the tornado had always been in someone else’s backyard; this time my house was in its path. Our baby girls Claire and Ellery were born 15 weeks too soon. Ellery never caught a deep, full breath on her own. We had to plan a funeral. Meanwhile, Claire was lucky and blessed. She fought and won.

In the early days of her battle, we would look at her tiny frame and wonder at the creative power of God. How silently and uneventfully babies are formed in their mother’s wombs. In Claire’s case, a lot of the forming happened outside the womb: eyelashes came in, ear cartilage formed, lungs expanded. Yet the beauty was fragile. In that season, I was reminded of Paul’s words to his church friends in Corinth:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

. . . and a few verses later . . .

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Those words meant much more to me when I was monitoring a beautiful, fragile jar everyday.

I saw the weakness of this flesh we are given. I’m reminded still of how easy it is for the jars to be broken, unmendable, beyond earthly repair. But in those who have found something to live for besides this life, there is an undeniable light – a treasure. And it can’t be hidden. No, this treasure is actually made brighter as the vessel weakens. It’s a beautiful mystery.

After the auction I brought home the blanket – my feeble attempt at helping out a friend in need. By the time I woke the next morning, Claire had already harnessed its baby-warming powers for her beloved doll with the big cartoon eyes that open and close and the yellow plastic hair molded into spunky pig tails. Specifically, it’s the doll she calls her Baby Alive.

We don’t know, I suppose, how long these vessels will hold up under the weight and pressure of a corrupted and spoiled world. But it is the treasure that holds the promise, not the jar. This is the treasure of God’s expansive and perfect plan to make everything right someday. And that truth is never more appealing than when everything seems to be going very wrong. That’s when the weakness allows us see the treasure more clearly. We need it more. We long to be wrapped up in its life-giving truth. It’s the gift of the beautiful, fragile jar.

 

 

Changing Things Up

 

 

We love pizza around here but we’re trying to eat a little more consciously. Not to get all crazy about it, but we want to help the kids develop healthy habits. This tasted so fresh and light. Super easy recipe: bake refrigerated pizza dough, mix dry ranch seasoning into light mayo and spread on cooled crust, top with cooked turkey bacon, chopped lettuce and tomatoes.

Maybe you’ll be inspired to try it.

We’ve re-discovered joy in our evening routines lately. Dan is cooking earlier meals and we’re having time to settle in for a real time of conversation and fellowship around our tall table. As a result, the kids are moving toward bed at a slower and less stressful pace.

Meanwhile, Dan and I are actually practicing some of our Dream Year lessons and the effect on our family is positive. I’ve been blogging five times a week now for about six weeks. Our evening tv watching is way down, and, big surprise, we’re actually producing instead of consuming. It’s a good feeling. (Speaking of Dream Year, if you are available June 3-5 and could get to Washington, D. C., you should attend the next Dream Year weekend. Highly recommended as a jump start for taking real action toward your next step in life.)

Now, about being productive. Since I’ve proved to myself that I can write a little bit every night, I’m ready to dive into some non-blog stuff. Brave, I know. I’m not assuming that you are waiting around hanging on my every word, but I’m wondering if you would have a preference for regular posting days if I cut back to two posts a week? Like Monday mornings? What about Saturdays – it seems like no one blogs on the weekends? Or do you even care if it is the same days? Thoughts? Now that I’m used to writing a little every night, I’d like to transfer some of my blogging time into other projects as well.

I’m all about small changes that I can live with. Made any good ones lately?