Five on Good Friday

1.  It is good to ponder the darkness.  There’s a quiet unsettledness that comes with Good Friday.  I was talking to Travis last night about why we call Friday “good”.  He was intent on brushing his teeth so I’m not quite sure how much got through (the boy is very serious about his oral hygiene) but it was good to ponder the beauty that comes from seemingly difficult circumstances.

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This Mary Oliver quote is one of my favorites and while I’ve thought about it many times in the context of learning from past hurts and failures, it also points to the gift of Christ’s death as a darkness that became light.

2.  It is good to have Craig home.  He walked in the door at 9:30 this morning, bleary-eyed from an overnight trip home from San Jose.  He’s sleeping for a few hours before going to the office to wrap up some loose ends.  He works hard for our family and we are grateful.

3.  It is good to laugh. The kids have cracked me up this week. Wednesday it was while we were in the car headed to therapy (New wheelchair fitting! Yay! And it fits in the van without having to be disassembled! Even better!). As is my practice, I was listening to XM 7 (old school, baby) and the Bee Gees came on.  I was ready to jam but wasn’t prepared for the sing-along from the back seat.

4.  It is good to have carbs. I’m making PW’s hot cross buns this morning and banking on a hope that Easter bread with the sign of Jesus on it doesn’t count towards calorie limits. Who’s with me?

5.  It is good to have old friends I talked to my old boss yesterday. I should say “former” and not “old” but after twenty years I still like to rattle his chain. Within seconds of picking up the phone, I was twenty-four again and he was probably rolling his eyes on the other end of the line.  The kids were wondering why their mother was cackling and it’s because I was somewhat tickled that I’m now the age he was when he hired me and yet somehow we’re not any older.  That three-minute phone call absolutely made my day.  How I lucked into such a fabulous manager, mentor, and colleague right out of the gate, I will never know.

Old friends are good friends.

Good Friday, indeed.

Have a nice day. 

Monday Musings

At least I think it’s Monday.  The days sort of roll together when we’re tracked out which isn’t a complaint at all.  We’ve been resting – sleeping a little more than normal, not sticking to a schedule (lunch at 2:30, anyone?), leaving town at the drop of a hat (hello, impromptu vacation to Williamsburg planned in thirty minutes), and just plain enjoying being together.  I like these teenagers living under my roof, eating my food, and occasionally hugging me.  They’re generally a sweet bunch.

The leaves have finally started popping out on the trees in the back yard and soon the thick green hedge that shields the neighbor’s house will fill in.  I don’t mind the neighbors at all – they’re delightful people – but I love the enclosed feeling when I look out the back bank of windows and see a canopy of green. The sunshine is raising my spirits and giving me energy to create again.  Since the boys are home during the day these three weeks, I’ve been spending  a lot of time in the kitchen. Some of our favorites have been homemade bread, ham and cheese scones pizza bread (I’m sensing a carb theme), Salisbury steak, and parchment-baked chicken.

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And while I would love to say that I’ve devoured boatloads of all the above, I’ve tried to be judicious because I’ve been on a lettuce and water plan since coming back from Barbados and I didn’t want to say anything about it because it would alert you to the fact that I regained every last bit of the weight that I lost three years ago may have a couple of pounds to lose but there you have it and I’m happy to celebrate this morning that I’ve lost 20 pounds so far and I have a little bit more to go but I feel much better about life even though it means passing up a biscuit here and there.  And while we’re copping to deep, dark secrets, I will also confess that I made a New Year’s resolution this year to NOT eat a single French fry in 2014 and, though it has slayed me, I’ve managed to go four entire months without one.

Let’s all guess where Sus will be at 12:01, January 1, 2015.

The biggest challenge has been not emotionally eating because we’ve had a mess on our hands dealing with high school placement and trying to keep our kids in the same school next year.  It has caused great anxiety, anger, fear, and all those emotions that I’d like to think I don’t have, but there you go and I do.  I *think* as of this morning we have everything worked out.  I’m just waiting on a phone call to confirm the details and then I’ll have to hightail it up to school to get them all registered since we are way past all the deadlines the county imposed for getting it done and I’m such a rule follower that missing those dates, in and of itself, has caused great anxiety but what are you going to do? At least I didn’t eat the pantry dealing with it.

Baby steps.

We still have a week and a half left before the kids go back to school so we are filling the time with checkups, eye exams, and the occasional trip to the movie theater.  We’ve seen Muppets Most Wanted (long but cute), Captain America: Winter Soldier (geek alert – Susie loves any and all superhero movies), and later this week we’re going to see God’s Not Dead which I hear is wonderful.  Lots to do with the people I love and blessed time to do it.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

I think about having a daughter a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my sons and don’t feel incomplete by not having one but since I enjoy being a girl, wife, daughter, and mother, there’s a wee part of me that’s a teensy bit jealous of my friends that have pink ones running through their houses.

Part of the wistfulness is, rightly or wrongly, I feel like moms and daughters are better equipped to have an ongoing conversation throughout life because for the most part daughters become mothers and, if they’re like me, they call Mom frequently (because she’s always right) to make sure they aren’t screwing up their kids and to receive assurance they, in fact, will survive *insert whatever phase you’re going through now*.

Lately, some not-quite-formed observations about being a woman in today’s social media saturated environment have swirled in my brain.  Gone are the women who trust confidently in their identity in Christ, who rest peacefully in God’s calling on their lives, and who are comfortable reading and studying and understanding the Bible on their own.  It seems like everywhere I look I see sheep, following this blogger or that blogger, feverishly retweeting or sharing “celebrity Christian” status updates, clinging to other people’s opinions (that are often driven by the need to generate clicks and ad revenue) and substituting some other person’s interpretation for thinking for themselves.

It has to stop.

So today, n0n-existent daughter, here are some things your mom wants you know:

1.  Stop looking to others for validation.

You have been created by God Almighty for a relationship with Him.  You have been called, gifted, and equipped to bear witness to His glory.   Your character speaks for itself and no kudos or high fives or likes or shares or Klout score or followers or name recognition have anything to do with how precious you are to Him.

2.  Be informed but be careful where you get the information to form your opinions. 

There are lots of loud policy debates taking place every day.  First of all, be strong doctrinally and know your Bible, forwards and backwards.  Gauge everything you hear against the truth of the Word.  Take care to avoid the wolves in sheep’s clothing who rip apart the Church with their careless remarks, who bring shame upon women for standing on the Word.  They hide their swords behind snark and they are dangerous.

Avoid those who enjoy stirring the pot.  Don’t allow them to inject bitterness and rancor into your heart.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and patience, not strife.

3.  Trust God, not other bloggers or authors, to lead you in the way He’d have you go. 

Confused about what that means?  It will never be inconsistent with His Word or with His character. It won’t feel coerced or guilt driven.

4.  You are an adult.  Act like one.

That starry-eyed feeling when you talk about your favorite Christian speaker, blogger, pastor, theologian?  You aren’t a teenager anymore and this isn’t American Idol.  Don’t let your appreciation for someone’s words cross into adulation.  Take a look at your re-tweets, your Facebook timeline – who are you consistently lifting up?  Last I checked,  the ground is level at the cross.

5.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author of your faith.

Don’t look at the world, or hang your hat on the opinions of others. Shut out the voices that tell you what you ought to do, what you should be doing.  Open the Word and sit under its authority.  I recently heard someone say that the Word is the essence of life and to avoid drinking deeply of it means to invite detriment to yourself.  Bring spiritual health, maturity, wisdom, and assurance into your life by learning from the Master himself.  He generously gives to those who seek Him and in Him you will have all you need.

That’s what’s on my heart today, pretend child of mine.

I hope you listen to your mama.

She’s always right.

 

Have a nice day. 

Five on Friday: Random Randomness

Lots of opinionated people pointedly opining this week so I’m choosing to focus on levity because it’s Friday and the birds are singing and April is just around the corner which means I’m that much closer to warm.

1. We have a friend in the hospital and I texted his son that I’d bring a meal when his dad was released but I sent the message to the wrong number. Am still fighting the urge to clarify to the stranger that “released” didn’t mean “from jail”.

2. Tuesday was hair appointment day and I don’t know whether to be offended or pleased when Travis got off the bus and made the comment that I was now a “newer Mom”.

3. Good Wife is dead to me.

4. I’ve been craving Jose Olé corn taquitos for about a week but am determined to succumb not to their siren call for, lo, therein lies a swift and direct path to destruction.

5. Have a nice day.

In which I get more than I bargained for at the talent show

Ah, the talent show.

Let’s dispense with the suspense  - J did a wonderful job delivering his monologue in front of the crowd Friday night.  Craig and I sat slack-jawed in the audience because we had never seen him so confident, engaging, and warm as we did for those three and a half minutes he stood under the lights, drinking from a Pepsi can he brought on stage as a prop. He was the epitome of cool, and my baby had SWAG, lemme’ tell you.

My favorite joke?  

“I don’t have a bank account yet but only because I don’t know my mother’s maiden name.”

I may have snort laughed.

And remotely checked my bank balance.

The preponderance of acts were from aspiring musicians.  We heard a little Taylor Swift, Adele, Bruno Mars (sung by a tiny 6th grade boy complete with all the feels over losing his girlfriend), and Imagine Dragons.  There was dancing (I think one girl demonstrated ballet but it could have been hip hop or a tumbling routine – still trying to figure it out but rest assured it did not lack for enthusiasm), instrumental pieces (one boy played the piano, another the harp, and one girl a little red Solo cup), and were even witness to an interesting self-defense karate sequence to Radioactive that I’m not likely to forget for a long time to come.

I’ll admit to walking into the auditorium that night a little nervous about J’s performance but after the first few acts, I began to understand something that was both relief and a sobering realization.

The relief?

The other kids weren’t perfect.

The realization?

I was expecting it from my kid.

And why?

Because I expect it from myself.

If there had been a wall near me, you’d have found me banging my head against it.  I’ve fought perfectionism for a long time and while I don’t struggle with it in some areas (let’s just take a look at the piles of clothes in the floor of my closet as Exhibit A), in others it’s still an issue.  And I was so proud of John for standing on stage and trying something I would never do for fear of bombing publicly.  He has more bravery than his mother ever will, no fear of failure, and I cannot tell you 1) how proud I was of him and 2) how chagrined I was at imposing my out-of-whack expectations on such a tender kid.

He is 14.

He is not me.

He has his own desires and interests.

He will have success.

He will have failure.

It will be okay.

I CANNOT WRITE HIS STORY FOR IT IS HIS TO TELL.

All that from a little $5 admission ticket.

It was worth every penny.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday

1.  This afternoon, my first-born will take the stage in his comedic debut at the school talent show.  He’s been working on his monologue for weeks but I haven’t heard a word of it because “I’m only going to perform it once for you, Mom.”  I’m assuming the faculty at school has okayed it because he survived tryouts and both dress rehearsals but I’m a little nervous because he said no one really laughed when he delivered the material yesterday. He, on the other hand, was not nervous at all.  He’s been determined to stand on a stage and tell his favorite joke since the 5th grade when he tried out for the elementary school talent show and then forgot to remind us the day of the performance that he was supposed to go.

Tonight is his night to shine.

And mine to breathe into a paper bag.

Break a leg, kid.

2.  Speaking of breathing into paper bags, I’m having trouble settling on a return-to-shorter-bangs-or-not decision.

3.  We decided on a company to help us with our window blind replacement project and the salesman came out to take measurements Tuesday.  With him were various sample books of linen white, bisque white, Nordic white, snow white, desert white, beach sand white, fanciful flight, white cloud, and every other name for basically the same color.

Serenity now.

He spent three hours talking to me about pull cords, fabric styles, opacity, pleat size, and thermal conduction and in the end said, “I’ll give you a few weeks to think about what you want” and then dropped his jaw when I spouted my selections.

Bangs that will grow in six weeks?

Agonizing.

Window coverings that I will look at for the next twenty years?

Piece of cake.

4.  Cake reminds me of pie which reminds me that I meant to share this picture with you of a dessert I made for the kids that was super easy – just a ready-made pie crust cut into triangles, spread with Nutella, rolled, sprinkled with coarse sugar, and baked. The little crescents are super rich and delicious warm from the oven.

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5.  Finally, here’s Mom’s 80th birthday quilt.  It’s the fourth one I’ve made and each one has turned out better than the last.  None, though, gave me as much joy as this one because 1) it was a surprise for her, 2) red is her favorite color and 3) gingham her favorite fabric.  Every minute spent at the sewing machine except for the quilting part made me smile because I knew she’d be pleased.

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Happy cozy napping, Mom.

Have a nice day.

Oh, hi

So I really stuck to that “revive the blog” resolution, didn’t I? 

*sigh*

Yeah, February was a tad depressing and I just couldn’t summon the will to live the creative muse at all.  The lack of sunshine, the cold, the endless snow days, and general funkiness sent me into a hole I’ve only recently crawled out of. 

Going to Barbados helped.

Hooray for sun and sand!

Getting into a swimsuit in Barbados? 

Ack.

That’s a death spiral right there, people.

I’m happy to report the sun is out and my spirits are a little more cheery now that the calendar has flipped to March. We are winding down the quarter for the kids in a few weeks (with all the snow days, I feel like they never really started) and the “lasts” are starting to happen – the last middle school band concert, the last time middle school IEP meeting - someone needs to put the brakes on, please.

We’ve been busyish with some home improvement projects.  Saturday morning around 9:30 I looked at a smudge on the front door sidelight and six hours later I’d washed every window in the house, inside and out.  It took two days before I could lift my arms again but the light coming through now is sparkly and it doesn’t make me twitchy every time I look outside. Next on the agenda is to replace the torn window blinds so I can return the clothespins currently holding them together to the laundry room.

Classy.

I’ve also kicked off the planning countdown to the Life Extraordinary women’s conference at my church (April 17-18, 2015 – mark your calendars, local peeps).  Long-time readers will remember the year I stressed over being the registration chairman (2011), the year I stressed over being the co-chairman (2013), and now, guess what?  You get to walk through the year I stressed over being the chairman.  

On the bright side, I roll off the committee next year so you NEVER HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT AGAIN.  

Thank you for your patience.

Oh, and I’ve been crafty, too!  Tune in later on to see the quilt I made for my mother’s significant birthday (am I allowed to tell which one, Mom?) and another project that I can’t divulge because it’s for someone who is a regular reader and she hasn’t received it yet. 

The owner of my favorite quilt shop had a record sales month in February because lemme tell you, I was on fire with the sewing projects during my blogging hiatus.

So that’s sort of where I’ve been.  A little depressed, a little vacationed, a little hunkered down with the weather, a little preoccupied with some projects, and a lot happy that winter is over.  Thanks for the sweet notes and texts telling me you’d missed the updates. I’ve missed you, too. 

Have a nice day.