Tuesday, December 30, 2008


In the weeks before Christmas, the air is thick with anticipation. The coming festivities envelop me with a warmth that permeates the cold December days and heats my very heart. Christmas carols in the car and twinkle lights in the windows keep me company at home and out and about and I get wrapped up and carried away. It is utterly delightful!

December 26 brings with it a bit of a vacuum. As is our nature, we tend to fill a vacuum, and in our house, we fill the days following Christmas with special treats like board games and books by the fire, movies with popcorn and long marvelous mornings sleeping in, the unwanted alarm clock sulkily unused across the room.

Somewhere in the week after December 25, a little bug bites me and give me the itch to regroup and repack and return to a life of routine. Don't get me wrong. I have not yet put away my decorations and I have no desire to give the alarm clock his reign over my morning. However, I find myself inexplicably drawn to websites like www.holdeverything.com and www.organize.com and www.containerstore.com and the giddy feeling I previously got from wrapping gifts is now coming from the thought of cleaning out my pantry. This is a sick twist, a strange trade off, but one that I find delightfully practical and, dare I admit it, welcome!

Until it is actually time to put things away (a few more days of festive pleasure) and move into the new year, I content myself to browse the occasional store ad full of totes and bins, linens and cleaning supplies. I pour over storage possibilities and sorting and purging tips like a gardener bides her winter time with seed catalogs. To everything there is a season and a time to every activity under heaven. I choose to take Solomon's wise (and inspired) words to heart and enjoy each season for what it has in store, with predictable turns and surprise endings alike!

Off I go to read my book before I tackle the pantry!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ten Days of Christmas

Can it really be December 15? This month is rushing along like the shivering shoppers in the busy parking lots! How are you doing? I hope you are carefully considering your plates, as we talked about last time! I am trying and relying on my wise husband to keep me in check as well! So, in the interest of time, a quick note for today!

With ten days until Christmas, here's some stuff I still need to do.
10 - Sunday School Teacher Gifts (I think...I should count again!)
9 - Different kinds of cookies I still want to bake
8 - Presents I still need to buy (yikes - I thought I was more "done" than that!)
7 - Church events or meetings to attend
6 - Oranges for the toes of six stockings (actually, this is done - they are in my fridge!)
5 - Things I'm forgetting to do ;0)
4 - Children to take Christmas shopping for each other
3 - School parties on Friday
2 - Meals to make this week for other people
1 - Savior worth celebrating!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Full Plates

I am sure I cannot be the only one who suffers with the struggle to eat reasonably during this Christmas season. We are inundated with tasty treats and savory snacks, with parties at home and dinners out, with late-night cookies and cocoa. I often find myself with a plastic cup full of punch, a cute red and green paper plate in hand, and too many yummy choices on the heavy laden table before me. Have you been there? Do you have favorite holiday food for which you have been longing? I have made some lists on the right of some of my favorite things. I'm sure at least some will strike a chord with you.

Do you find yourself with a figurative full plate as well? As evidenced by the chaos of my kitchen, the mayhem in my mudroom and the craziness of my crammed closets, when I say I have a lot on my plate, I'm not just talking Pita Chips and Crab and Artichoke Dip!

My favorite holiday treats tend to be hors d'oeuvres. I just love all those little bite sized morsels and the opportunity they give me to taste lots of different things in one sitting. Unfortunately, my plate gets just as full from all those little snacks as it would with a few choices of real food. I sure can make a meal out of dips and spreads and little weenies! The problem often comes when I realize that I have so many different little things on my plate that I am still overwhelmed my the shear quantity of bites before me! Each individual yummy seems harmless enough on its own. En mass, however, the last three things to land on my plate inevitably become my downfall.

The same is true about my figurative plate. I have a tendency to look at the individual tasks or commitments and think, "That won't take long," and the little tongs in my brain tell my tongue to say that dangerous little three letter word, "yes!" What inevitably happens is that the list of little bite sized morsels, otherwise known as service, commitment, responsibility, obligation, chores, plans, opportunity, and even fun, fill my plate to overflowing and the real food can find no room at all.

If I were to first fill my plate with raw veggies, a piece of fruit and a half a sandwich, the snacks would not have so much room to overtake and I would be forced to choose my absolute favorites. If I fill my figurative plate with the good stuff first, then there will only be room for a few extras, and I will choose them more carefully. The real meat and potatoes of my life are my daily personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, my daily purposeful relationship with my sweet husband, and my daily precious relationship with my four children. Commitments to friends and family, faithfulness to serving at church, and helping out at the school are a few of the extras that vie for room on the plate, so I need to prayerfully consider them before I reach out and grab with both hands that which may tip the scale.

I don't want to regret holiday eating because I can't get into my jeans in January, and I don't want to see the important contents of my figurative plate in a mess on the floor because I didn't choose carefully the things that would occupy space in my days.

As we look ahead to the weeks of December, I know we all see things like family get-togethers, office parties, choir concerts, school programs, shopping trips, caroling excursions, road trips and much much more. I wonder if you will join me (and I invite you to ask me...to keep me accountable) in my effort to carefully choose what goes on my plate. Maybe together we can stay trim!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I realize that the arrival of November is no surprise to anyone, since it drops in faithfully on the heals of October every year! However, I was just beginning to settle into a comfortable fall and already I find myself taunted by its imminent follower, winter. We have not even begun to dispose of all the leaves, the ducks and geese and swans are still congregating in the lake outside the windows, and I am still in bare feet (and yes, my toes are painted)!

Nevertheless, winter comes. It snowed this week and those cheeky meteorologists are threatening more this weekend. (This is no excuse, however, for the inflatable snow-globe lawn ornaments I saw this morning! Really!) Retailers serenade us with Bing Crosby's White Christmas and tempt us with shiny Christmas wraps and snazzy gift sets, door-buster sales and extended holiday hours. My inner toddler stamps her foot and says "No!"

I want to enjoy a few more crisp weeks of leaves underfoot and V's of geese overhead. I want to feel the autumn sun pouring through the kitchen window (while stubbornly ignoring the dirty glass!) and wave at my kids playing soccer in the leaf laden grass, sweatshirts trailing and faces warm and chilly all at the same time. Our oak trees are as stubborn as I am, as they cling to their brown leaves and refuse to let the November wind carry them away just yet. The squirrels are still busy collecting and storing up their winter meals and the waterfowl, as I mentioned, still seem to be making their final travel arrangements (I think I actually saw a Mrs. Mallard with a list yesterday).

Will you join my little creature friends and me as we enjoy the last days of fall. Winter will be here soon and, as always in these parts, it will settle in for a good long visit. For now, please enjoy the last radiance of mums, the final crunch of leaves, the sweet-tart scent of apples on your counter. Plan for a lavish or simple Thanksgiving; whichever suits you best. Play touch football with the kids, take a brisk walk with your husband and shuffle through the leaves as you meander down the sidewalk or the woodland path. Enjoy November and don't get too worried about the coming craziness of December (later we'll talk about making it not so crazy!)

Happy not-quite-halfway-through-November to you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

On this historic day, I reflect on the many choices that are continually before me. My vote, whether it is part of turning the political tide in a direction that pleases me or not, is a precious liberty I do not take lightly. My children watched me vote today and have been there every election day in the past. Today there were only two of them, and I had some slight regret that I didn't wait until after school for the others to accompany us! At the risk of sounding overly sentimental or patriotic, I must emphatically state that my freedom to vote was bought by the blood of many! Men fought for a free country in which we now live. Women stood boldly up and demanded a voice in government, and the cost to many was the ultimate one. I don't want to take it lightly, nor do I want my children to miss the enormity of what they will one day do.

It is not lost on me that the freedom to vote, along with the many other freedoms we have living in this democratic (really a republic) nation, is only a hint of the freedom we have available to us in Christ.

Here, too, I want my children by my side, watching me cast my vote, making my choice, using my voice. I want them to see that the freedom of a believer cannot be removed by any man or woman in office. The rights I now have as an American pale in comparison to the rights I have as a child of the King. I have an inheritance. I have eternal security. I have hope. I have a future. I have an Anchor. The liberty I have in Christ Jesus was also bought with blood, but this sacrifice only required one life. His was faultless and holy and obedient. His sacrifice was complete and sure and thoroughly satisfying.

With my freedom in Christ, I cast my vote, I make my choice, for many things each day. Today I choose joy - not happiness born from fine circumstances, but joy that bubbles up from the depths of me. Today I choose obedience - not just a bending of my actions and my will but of my heart. Today I choose love - not out of the loveliness of my heart or others, but because He first loved me. Today I choose to exercise the choices given to me when I was first chosen by the One who had nothing to gain but still gave it all on the cross out of utter obedience to His Father and love for me.

Today I celebrate freedom - Freedom to vote for the leaders of the land, freedom to worship in a way that is pleasing to God, freedom from the bondage of sin and the hopelessness and fear of an uncertain future.

We are no longer slaves but daughters and sons. Let freedom ring!

Monday, October 13, 2008


We've all heard the humble, though pungent, onion used as an illustrative tool for many a point. With all those layers, it is just ripe for comparison! I'll spare you another analogy with the over-used onion but instead, I'd like to consider layers of another sort.

My October has been busy, as evidenced by my absence from this keyboard. In the past flurry of weeks, the calendar full of events was layered in heaps upon my days, like the clothes on the floor in the laundry room.

My husband's shirts and pants are in there, soiled from long days with patients, and reminding me to pull them out for the dry cleaner. (I praise God for this small indulgence!) He is a good, hard working man, and I thank God for him. I need to make sure he knows it.

My boys had many trips to the soccer field, and their sweaty socks (in little irritating, smelly wads) and dirty T-shirts, inside-out game jerseys and grass-stained shin guards prompt me to pray for their safety on the field. This week the tournaments start and even as I type I wonder how we'll fit dinner in. Something tells me my slow-cooker will work hard this week! Also in their layer of grubbies I find the clothes my ten year-old wore on the field trip last Thursday. I got to go along on this one (thanks to my mom, who took the day off and, as my husband put it, allowed me to be in two places at once!) When my son thanked her for making my part of the trip possible, he told her it wouldn't have been as much fun without me. Sniff sniff and all smiles...that was a golden mom moment. I still feel the glow inside me!

My little one has dribbly shirts and dirty knees and sodden onesies in the heap and I remember that the poor boy has been traipsing around after us all for the past few weeks with a great little toddler smile, and a wonderful sweetness. There is nothing terrible about this two year-old lately and I thank God for his joyful participation and his cute chatter. What a trooper! Note to self: plan his 2-year birthday party (something quiet and special with just the six of us?)...it will be here in a week!

Another laundry layer is pink and soft and peppered with doll clothes as well. (she insists on changing the baby doll clothes and thinks they must be washed :0) My daughter had her first field trip last week and, though we shivered our way through a cold, wet orchard, her soggy fleece jacket reminds me that the cold "forced" us to sip hot chocolate and snuggle even closer on the wagon, and it was a special, memorable first for her.

My workout clothes are in there, but not enough of them, reminding me that now that my schedule is about to clear a bit ( I hope...just after soccer skids to a halt), I need to get on that treadmill more than every couple of days. I am thankful for my sweet friend who reminds me that exercise is for my good, but I am not a slave to it! "The Sabbath was made for man; man was not made for the Sabbath..."

Layers of towels remind me of bubble baths for curly headed little ones and quick showers for boys who are literally growing up overnight. There are socks, hinting that our twelve feet are getting colder as the temperatures drop. I won't complain about that. I love fall and resolve to get out and do my walk outside more often.

When the layers of clothes and linens have made their way through the washer and the dryer, I am out of laundry soap, low on Bounce sheets, and my house smells fresh and warm. There is three dollars and twenty seven cents jingling in the Pizza Money jar and a plastic hair clip, two army men, a toy car, a rubber band, and two now-illegible receipts on the dryer and a soggy pull-up in the garbage can (just in case you wondered, when you wash one of those things, your machine will be full of what resembles little piles of wet snow, but it is not nearly as much fun as that sounds).

As I type and remember that past couple of weeks, I have propped my feet on a stool and the keyboard on my lap. It is not hard to spend so much time with you today because, frankly, I can't muster the energy to get up now that I've finally sat down! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! The big missions week at church, for which much of my time these weeks was commandeered, went well. My to-do list is full of check marks, and onward I go. At the moment, while two and four year-old heads slumber, the layers are thin and gentle. The trickle of the fish tank filter carries on a low conversation with the murmering dishwasher. The dog softly snores near me as if she is beat from her busy life as well. The filmy dust taunts me, but I say let the last layers stay a while longer while I linger here and wonder what layers fill your lives today?

I challenge you, along with myself so I had better sit up a little straighter, to peel back a few of your layers and examine them. While I am first to admit that life really is daily and it is, by necessity, full of layers that may not seem to have any eternal significance, I desire to make even the grubbiest layers count. God's mercies are new every morning and I am certain He knows I need them to face the moments that can so swiftly become overwhelming mounds, just like the laundry. Do you trust Him with it all? Do I? I pray that we go about our days, doing what must be done, but also ready to spot the spectacular in the mundane, and relish each layer as part of the rich fabric of our lives.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No time

Thought I'd share a list of stuff for which I don't have time (but I must be brief!)

Clean my closet (even though it is currently more of a "walk on" than a "walk in"

Empty the junk drawer (shouldn't this be easy since, by definition, it is all just junk anyway?)

Clean the Jell-o off the middle refrigerator shelf (it spilled and is now a permanent fixture)

Re-Paint my toenails (this might not seem important, but it is. For now, I keep touching up the ends!)

Wash windows (the forty small fingers and forty small toes -yes, toes- and slobbery dog are winning)

Get the laptop fixed (the tech guy actually asked me if there was anything important on it - do they not know what computers are for? If there was nothing important on it, why would I care if it didn't work?)

Pray (okay this doesn't matter, because I can't afford not to pray, so I make time. Praise God that He stretches the minutes I spend with Him when I make it a priority!)

Waste (yup - no time to waste! My kids are here now. They need me and they won't wait for all the other stuff to get done. My marriage requires my active participation, my efforts, my commitment, my devotion. My Lord bids me to come as well. He is not impressed with my busy schedule. I must lay it all at the feet of the Savior and trust Him with what's next.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall Decorations

My daughter helped me put out fall decorations this week. She was much more excited than I. I was sad to put away treasures and traces of summer. I was a bit grumpy about saying goodbye to long hot days full of sunshine and swimming and sand between my toes! She was simply excited to help me do a job. It made her feel big and special and useful. Her days seem to stretch out before her with no end in sight, and, if anything, she would rush them along if she could, while I plan to cling to my flip-flops until the snow flies! Her little person brain has no idea that the passage of time seems to speed up at an alarming rate as we get older. For her, it is just fun to see each new day, each new season unfold in front of her and she is often impatient to get to the next new something! So, she eagerly helped me remove an assortment of glass bottles and shells and driftwood and other summertime treasures from the mantle and replace them with grapevine pumpkins entwined with twinkle lights and faux berry garland in shades of cinnamon and nutmeg and clove. An interesting thing kept happening along the way, however. She repeatedly asked me when we were going to put up the fall stuff. As I looked at her, arms laden with autumn leaves and candles, I was confused. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one. After her nap a few hours later, she came down and looked around and said, " Mom, did you put up the decorations?" Clearly I am missing something here. I say, "Well, yes, see? There they are." I slowly spin in place, arms outstretched. "But Mom," she says, "none of them are falling. They are still right where we put them!" :0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School Arithmetic

20 pencils L needs for school
19 number of times I will likely have to peel C off my leg before she goes to her class without a fuss
18 minutes it takes to get to school
17 number of snow days we are praying for
16 peanut butter and jam sandwiches I will make in the first week
15 minutes we usually leave ourselves to get to school
14 number of us who will be here over the last summer weekend! Mealtime will be great fun!
13 days until C starts preschool
12 gallons of milk we'll use for breakfast in the first month of school
11 time I need to get to bed each night to make it through the busy days
10 age of my fifth grader
9 number of library books I predict A will make it through in the first two weeks
8 times I may have to shake L to wake him on the first day
7 number of glue sticks on C's list (I think the teacher must be expecting the kids to eat some!)
6 in the morning: time I'm going to have to get up starting next Tuesday
5 days until school starts for A and L
4 age I was when I started school 30 (yikes) years ago
3 times I talked to the school secretary to determine what we still owed in book fees and other miscellaneous stuff
2 number of backpacks we bought before we settled on one for L
1 number of trumpets we now own for our new fifth grader

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sounds of Summer

We just spent a week off and we stayed home and simply enjoyed things around the house and in our community. What fun to take it easy for seven days! Our week was full, as usual, but this time our calendar was bulging with amusement parks, ice cream cones, flip flops and bathing suits, boat rides, the sandbox and the screen porch. We spent time with friends, with family, and with nobody at all! What a treat to enjoy each moment together. The days were swift but wonderfully fun.

Sunday we said goodbye to new friends (that's not fun) and hello to a new week (one that would be not nearly as fun as the last.) Time passes, whether we want it to or not. The longer days of summer are shrinking, and the cooler evenings remind me that our care-free days are numbered.

Before I let the retail world pull my beach towel right out from under me, I want to stop and smell the sunscreen for a few more weeks! I am determined to notice the things that I will so sadly miss in the middle of the long winter that is surely coming.

There is nothing like the sound of a summer breeze in the top of our tall oak trees. The gentle inhale and exhale that draws the thick green leaves one way then pushes them away again will turn to a more frantic blow whose chill will take our breath away. But for now, they whisper me to sleep on the porch swing. The high cry of the seagulls will give way to the honking Canadian geese. But for now, my senses enjoy the selfish banter of the beach birds. The rhythmic cricket conversation answered in kind by myriad toads and frogs will disappear in favor of the busy chatter of squirrels gathering their stores for winter, but for now, I applaud the cicadas for their metronomic consistency. Sticky faces that smile at me around melty chocolate and marshmallow s'mores or drippy Popsicles will be cleaned up for school, only to be slathered with peanut butter and jelly and milk mustaches. But for now, I will give them an extra bar of chocolate and let them burn as many marshmallows as their hearts desire.

Are you enjoying the simple pleasures of summer? Are there things you've been hoping to do this summer but still haven't done? Do them. Play hooky. Eat ice cream for supper (have some mint chocolate chip for me). Go to a water park and float in the lazy river. Kick off your flip flops and take a nap with your book on your lap. Invite some friends over (or come on over to our house!) to grill great burgers and potato packs and stay up too late playing Euchre or Pictionary. Go to the zoo. Make faces at the monkeys and growl at the lions. Enjoy these last weeks because they will race away on the wheels of lessons and clubs and homework and even holidays!

Happy mid-August-summer-is-still-hanging-on-don't-miss-every-firefly-moment to you!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sprinklers and Hoses

In spite of the fact that there are numerous beaches and pools at our disposal, I find it wonderful that we can thoroughly enjoy the wet fun provided by a green water hose and a sprinkler head! What starts out as the simple chore of watering pots of thirsty pink Martha Washington Geraniums quickly becomes an opportunity for cooling off and splashing each other with the icy water from the hose. Our clothes will have to be changed - no big deal. Our feet are muddy - a fun excuse to use the hose one more time. The hot sidewalk smells wet and feels great underfoot - the sun will burn it off all too quickly. The once parched pots are now sufficiently soaked - I can almost hear Mrs. Washington's satisfied sigh. Spontaneity cooled us off, accomplished a task, and gave us some special moments of old-fashioned summer fun. (Now...who is going to put the hose away?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Most Important Day

I recently saw an ad for a writing contest in which the author was supposed to write about the most important day in her life. I imagine they will recieve hundreds of accounts of wedding days and birthdays. There will, no doubt, be tales from the delivery room as well as the cemetery. Believers would be likely to recount the day they gave their life to Christ or entered the waters of baptism. Perhaps some might remember packing off to college or backpacking across Europe. Does one special day come to your mind as you read?

Allow me recount my most important day.

My poor husband woke to the much-too-early alarm clock at 5:30am. I comfortably rolled over, punching my pillow back into place, and slept for another two hours. Bliss!

By 8:20 the five of us were on the road, breakfast - apples and granola bars - in hand (read, hit the snooze alarm twice) and on our way to Science Camp. Alex and Luke enjoyed three hours in the land of spy stuff and creepy crawlies, respectively, while the Lilliputions and I did our best to be productive - Post Office (where my son screamed every time my daughter tried to take away his naked brown baby), and Sam's Club (where were left a trail of, appropriately, trail mix, in our wake.)

Our mid-day meal was consumed, again, on the road. This time Subway provided what we needed and I am certain lettuce will please my husband even less than French fries on the floor! Here I marvel at the things my boys are learning and doing; taking pictures with pinhole cameras and learning how many eyes spiders have (the same number as they have legs!)

After getting some things done at home, we spend two hours at the beach. The hot, clear day is perfectly suited for this and we swim and splash until we are thoroughly water-logged! Sand now fights sandwich scraps for space in the seats and on the floor of the SUV.

Supper is Five Spice Chinese Chicken, a new recipe, followed by popcorn in front of Anne of Green Gables. I am thrilled that they are loving it every bit as much a s I do! Alex thinks she shouldn't be so sorry to have red hair because he thinks, "that's what makes her pretty!" Oh boy...something said with such sweet innocence makes us wonder how long it will be before he starts to notice, really notice, girls. Lord, help! Let us stay in these golden years a bit longer.

Teeth are scrubbed, showers taken, and a whole beach is left behind in the tub! It may be silly and slightly sentimental, but I love the warm and stiff feeling of a little bit of sunburn on my shoulders and the sand in my hair. I love white bottoms and brown little arms wrapped in fluffy white towels. I love wet hair on pillows and long eyelashes on sun-kissed cheeks. My children, even after showers, still carry a hint of the sweet, fresh scent of Lake Michigan on their skin and their heads will swim tonight with even sweeter memories of a day well spent.

There are thunderclouds overhead now, lightening on the horizon, and rain drenching my hot, thirsty flowers and lawn. The night is slowly settling over the bayou and the house, and the grandfather in the corner sings his Westminster song to remind me it is time for me to wind down like the kids akready have done. There are dishes to do and papers to file and laundry to fold and the list goes on. Still...I will shower first, because I have high hopes of fifteen minutes peace in there (where I will pray and pour out my day to the One who handed it to me on a sunny, sandy platter), then tackle the last tasks of the day before settling down with my favorite book (I am not embarassed to say that I am reading it for the fifth, or is it sixth?, time). In it, I will be transported to India for a while before I am finally transported to sleep.

My sweet, hard-working husband will, I hope, interrupt this long, winding-down evening. If he does, I will be blessed by his company and his smile and his laughter. He will share his most important day with me and we will be in each-other's highlights if only for the moments it takes to tell the tales.

Tomorrow will dawn soon and I will again be faced with another day in the life of us. What a gift each day is. Such a treasure to discover, a wondrous purse full of moments to spend. The Bible says This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Today is the most important day in my life....until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Long Time No Write?

It has been so long since my last post that my two or three faithful readers have probably given up on me and moved on to someone else's blog (thirteenfeet?) but here I am anyway! The weeks of summer sail by on balmy breezes and sometimes take my breath away with their swiftness. The kids are enjoying all things summer, from swimming lessons in the carefully chlorinated pool at the middle school, to flips off the dock in the cool yet murky waters of the bayou down the hill. They revel in the world of sidewalk chalk, super-soakers, and bicycles. The water out back is alive with jetskis and boats and tubes and swimmers. The grill sizzles with savory meats and the freezer is well-stocked with sticky popsicles. We've been camping - in a campground and in soccer camps, science camps, and 5-Day clubs. We have celebrated three summer birthdays in the family and have one more to go. The mosquitos have been tenacious, but I am up to the challenge, armed with my Cutter Familycare! I look forward to the lazy, hazy days of summer, when our big decisions run along the lines of, North Shore Beach or the State Park? SPF 30 or 40 on the kids? Bike or walk to the ice cream store? Hot dogs or hamburgers? I hope your summer slows down to a comfortable pace that matches that of the porch swing and I pray that your family will have the opportunity for refreshment that comes from basking in the sun on a warm July afternoon. Remember that God gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Silly Anniversary

To prove that we understand (and practice what we preach) that laughter is a big part of making our marriage work...another eleven points to observe on our big day.

Acting your age is overrated; having fun together isn't!
Nothing says I love you like putting down the toilet seat.
Nobody likes to clean those toilets, but somebody's got to do it!
If you smell it, you change it (works with diapers, garbage, etc.)
Vacuuming is men's work (it's a power tool, right?)
Empty ice trays do not a happy marriage make.
Road trips aren't for sissies.("I thought you said you had looked at the map?")
Spice is nice.
Another year is always worth celebrating! (it's been fourteen! can you believe we were only eleven when we got married?!)
Running out of gas doesn't really ruin the engine, but it might ruin the evening.
Yelling is no good, unless it is at a sporting event on on a roller coaster! Yahooooo!

Happy Anniversary

Today is my anniversary! In honor of fourteen years (wow! We can't be old enough for that!,)I give you an acrostic:

Always be gentle, because a soft answer turns away wrath.
Never hold grudges, because love keeps no record of wrongs.
Never lie, because love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.
Invest time into your marriage, because it was created by God for His glory and for your good.
Value your husband, because he was made in God's image.
Encourage your husband, so that he need not find praise elsewhere.
Respect him, because God has given him the difficult job of leadership in your home.
Say the words, because we all need to hear, "I love you."
Always forgive, because Christ has offered forgiveness to you.
Rejoice in his successes, because He was gifted by God.
Yield your heart to God first, then you will be ready to take your place beside our husband.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stinky Pirates

My daughter was singing in the SUV the other day. I love it when kids are at that stage when they sing everything and freely improvise as needed! The Psalms are full of the call to make a joyful noise and she is smack in the middle of a time in her life when noise is like breathing to her. The joyful part also comes pretty naturally, although there are times when we must work at it a little! In song, she worships with abandon, sings lullabies with tenderness, and gets silly with gusto. Her latest was a bit of a combination of the latter two. She was sweetly singing to her baby, wrapped tenderly in her arms. "What can you do with a stinky pirate? What can you do with a stinky pirate? What can you do with a stinky pirate? Put her off to bed..." :0)

Enjoy your day and remember to make a joyful noise today!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Happy Day to all the mothers out there and especially to my own! I have been thinking that there are so many things that I do on a daily basis that I learned from my mom. She taught me how to pack a lunch, complete with the occasional hand-written note on the napkin. She taught me how to lay a cool, wet washcloth on a forehead that is hot and hurting. She taught me to cut these cute little leaf-like lines in the top of my pies to vent them. She taught me to give hugs and kisses with bandaids and hold hands for no reason (there is a reason, though; it's to convey love and comfort). She taught me to send treats for class parties, to go on field trips, to send in gifts for teachers on all sorts of occasions. She taught me to include the kids in taking care of others, especially for no reason other than that God has laid them on our hearts. She taught me how to fold sheets, even the fitted ones and to fold towels and to turn socks into each other to keep them together. She taught me to say please and thank you and excuse me. She taught me to be kind, let others go first, and to be thankful for what I have. She taught me to lick the spoon, take an extra spoonful of cookie dough, and cut my sandwiches on the diagonal. She taught me how to sew a straight seam (which means I can make curtains) and wield a hammer and a screwdriver (which means I can fix stuff even without duct tape). She taught me to take a hostess gift when I am a guest and put fresh flowers in the room of my guests. In so many ways, she taught me how to be a grown-up, responsible woman who serves others. She taught me to give and receive love. Thanks, mom, for so many things. I love you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

All the cool kids...

I recently bought a fun belated birthday card that said all the cool people are sending birthday cards late. Yeah - that's me. I am also going to go out on a limb and assume that all the cool people have been neglecting their blogs. Yeah - me, too. Any chance the cool people have also been neglecting their kitchen floors, the tops of all their furniture, balancing their checkbooks, and going shopping for groceries? I think they might also have overdue library books, clothes that need to go to the dry cleaners, even though they picked up stuff there just today, and a pile of papers on their kitchen counters. Cool people also don't have the energy to get on the treadmill tonight and would prefer to watch Pride and Prejudice. Really cool people have leaves to rake, need to spend more time reading their Bibles, and find themselves knee deep in their kids' end of year projects. Cool people of the world unite! (And make me feel like I am not the only one with too much stuff to do ;0)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brothers and Sisters

The first song playing today is the English version of one sang by a group of Togolese believers on the morning we left for home. I will try to get the real video and audio of that moment on here at a later date. We were moved by these brothers and sisters in Christ and their open acceptance of all of us. They humbled us with their gratitude. Especially in the hospital setting, the staff was so thankful to have the team and their skills. Even outside the hospital and clinic, were all treated with such kindness and openness and gratitude. The missionaries, who we had hoped to encourage in some small way, ministered to us directly by their kindness and patience and indirectly by their example of steadfast service and gritty hard work. As we left, we found ourselves asking, how they could thank us when we were the ones leaving with hearts so full?

I could write a novel about the fifteen days we spent away from home, and I won't attempt to do that here. My journal from the trip is but a splash in the pond of our experiences, but I will share drops of it here over the coming weeks. The days were full, and the memories already spill into each other as I look back.

For now, as I already begin to fade as jetlag rears its ugly head, I will say that the thing for which I fervently prayed was granted by our awesome God. I asked that we would all return changed. We have. I asked that the experience would be positive for my boys. It was. I asked for safety and health and fun for our little ones with Grandpa and Grandma back home. All four did great! I asked that we would come home and not forget the ways God moved in us while we were there. He continues to move mightily. How awesome to know that the One who moved over the faces of the deep, the One who parted waters and felled armies, the One who raised the dead to life, is alive and moving in the hearts of our little family. I am humbled. We are blessed.

Friday, April 4, 2008


It is eight in the morning and already hot and humid. The boys are playing with two monkeys that one of the missionary families has. Jeff and Dan have a major case today - be praying! It will take several hours. Also pray for Jason and Teresa, who will arrive today from Ghana. It is difficult to decribe what it feels like here. Remember the old song that says, "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. I can feel His mighty power, and His grace..." That song sums it up better than I can. It is wonderful to see the physical, practical, tangible work of God, as the believers here, missionary and Togolese alike, are truly the hands of the Great Physician to so many in need. Then, I see the awesome power of God as the believers here rely on prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit to provide for their needs and to stir the hearts of the lost. There is one missionary here that the Togolese call Grandma Jesse. She is an old saint and she is so loving and sweet. When she heard that the guys were in need of something for the OR that they didn't have, she said, "well, let's pray about that - right now!" They did and it was a done deal in her eyes! :0) Later that day, they discovered that the maintanence man was able to rig up something that would work perfectly. What a privilege to see the simple, but powerful work of God and such quick answer to prayer! The boys are loving it here. Each night when we pray as a family, Alex remembers to thank God for the things and the people and the work here and recognizes in prayer that none of it would be here if not for God being at work. Luke is thoroughly enjoying the other missionary children and is eager for any adventure. We so appreciate your prayers for us, and for the rest of our family at home who we miss terribly, and we can't wait to share with you pictures and stories!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I will try not to be redundant, as I just sent an email to many of you who will read this. We are sitting in London Heathrow (I can't believe I am in England!) The boys are doing exceptonally well. Both were able to get some sleep on the flight from Chicago. The adults had a more difficult time, but we are all fine and thrilled to be this far along. I am struck by the diverse languages swirling around us and the diverse dress we see at every turn. The wide variety of strange snack foods is also fun, and I know this is only the beginning. I love this! More soon...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring has sprung!

In spite of a still-frozen body of water outside my windows and the twelve inches of snow in my front yard, it is officialy spring and I say praise God for that! Since my brain and my life are functioning in a highly list-oriented world. I thought I would share a list today in this spot, in addition to the many lists of favorites to the right of this blog.

Some things we learned in this family this week:

1. A full night of sleep is precious and not to be taken for granted!

This week, many nights were interrupted by either a little one in tears (even though I told him we are well past that stage, he wanted to revisit it for three nights :0)and pager (and an ER) on a rampage.

2. My nine year-old is smarter than me (okay - this is not really news).

This week, when he finished reading the book of Revelation, he said he had a couple of questions. I said, "Just a couple?" ;0) After two conversations (one with me and one with another person much smarter than me) he was satisfied. that's all it took. Go figure.

3. Some songs still bring me to tears.

The first song on this blog's playlist is a perfect example. I think I'll pick her voice to be what I will sound like in heaven! :0) I do get to pick, right?! Another is Agnes Dei (by Michael W. Smith, but it was a congregational song on Sunday and I couldn't make it through the whole thing.) This is what it will be like singing in heaven, I am sure of it! Another one that gets me, is Voice of Truth. I always liked it, but the other night, my litle reader of Revelation told me it is one of his favorite songs. Then, the next day we sang it at AWANA. It turned me into a puddle to see him sing it with all his heart. That song will never be the same for me.

4. I still really like my husband!

Sometimes I still feel like a teenager, just falling in love with him. Monday night I watched a good movie and it hit me about fifteen minutes into it that I hated to have any sort of fun without him, even if it was simply enjoying a movie I knew he would like! (go ahead, you can call me a sap, I can take it!)

5. Things change.

Whether it is seasons or socks, where we live or what we wear, change is a big part of our daily lives. My daughter has mastered (okay - about 90% of the time) the art of putting her shoes on the right feet. My little one now can, and alway wants to, use silverware. My first grader can read more words today than he could yesterday. New friends move away. Ice and snow melt away (hallelujah!). Now, let's hope my winter waistline will do the same!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Today was one of those days when I needed my tennis shoes on to keep me movin'. It was a full, busy day, and, like the whole week really, it sometimes felt like I was taking two steps forward, one step back all day long. Ever have one of those days? I know I accomplished much, but I am left feeling like the man in Robert Frost's poem from last week, with "miles to go before I sleep." We are about to embark on a trip to Africa, and the preparations are many. However, the day to day stuff is still there, so the minutes sail by on a swift current and often pass in a blur. I find myself ever-so thankful for lists, and laptops, and little red cans of Coke! ;0)

In the midst of the hurried plans of this big event, I don't want to miss the ordinary. My six year-old lost a tooth yesterday (pictures to follow soon). My baby is speaking simple, simple sentences ("mama, more ball" which means "mama please get the ball that has fallen beyond my reach"). My daughter is going with one grandma to her first play on Saturday (Cinderella) and she is wearing her special, princess dress, handmade by her other grandma. My oldest is avidly trying to learn as much French as he can in the next two weeks because they speak French in Togo. He's nine, but knowing him, he will be conversing like a pro!

My wish and my prayer for you this week is the same one I pray for myself. May the monotony of our busy, daily lives be sprinkled with moments so ordinary and yet so memorable that we sit up and take notice. May we be full of big plans, because God has big plans for us, and may we be touched by the simple, because He cares about the smallest things, too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Webster's defines the word extravagant as "unrestrained, especially in relation to feelings." I love the thought that God's love for me is unrestrained. To be unrestrained means to hold nothing back. It amazes me that He would love me this way. It does not surprise me, however, because I see evidence of His extravagance all around me. I see it in the faces of my children, open and trusting. I feel it in the love I have for my husband; sometimes he still takes my breath away! I see God's extravagance in the joy my children have in their grandparents, full of exuberance. I experience it every day when He provides my daily bread and there are baskets-ful remaining when we've had our fill. His extravagance in loving me is clear as the hearts of my friends reach out to mine over many miles. Most importantly, though, I experience His lack of restraint in loving me in that His Son died for me, lives for me, interceeds for me, and His Spirit resides in me. What wondrous love is this, oh, my soul.

May you know His extravagant love today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Day Out

It was about twenty degrees and overcast, snow covered just about everything, and the ice was thick on the beach on Saturday when we went to explore. Armed with snow pants and boots rather than sunscreen and towels, the kids thought they were on the grandest adventure! We could have done this on our local beach, but we decided to spend a rare Saturday off in another great little lakeside town up north a bit and it truly felt like a day away. The big boys were fearless, often getting a little too close to the waters' edge for my comfort, their sister right behind them, but they obeyed well and made the day even better by their great behavior and adventurous spirits. The little one wasn't sure what to think, and any time we put him down on his own, he just stood there, all stiff and bundled in his snow suit. So cute! We ate (first there was steaming hot chocolate) at a great little restaurant and just had a great, fun-filled day! See our pictures below...make sure you see the one at the bottom of the page - great shot of the ice in the boat launch!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Long Week

Isn't it funny that I feel like this week is one that will never end? It occurred to me tonight that it is because we have had so many days off for snow days and mid winter breaks and holidays, that we haven't had a full, five-day week in ages! How spoiled we are! By we, of course, I mean me!;0)

We look forward to the coming of March, but I am not fooled by the balmy temperatures in the 20's. They say we should rejoice, like twenty degrees is a sure sign that spring is coming. What is the matter with these weather people? Have they lost their collective mind? I say getting excited about the upper twenties is like getting excited when gas dips, gasp, below $3.00 a gallon! Who do they think they are kidding, anyway! :0)

It is far too cold to sit at my computer, so I am off to find a thick blanket and an even thicker book to read! Happy Wednesday friends!

P.S. Don't forget to kiss all your loved ones today/tonight. Tell them you love them. It is not enough for them to just know it. They need to hear it! We won't regret having said it too much!

Monday, February 25, 2008


My friend Shannon's blog says "It's a Wonderful Life" and when I found this current song, I began thinking of wonderful things. Thought I would share some: it's wonderful the way new snow smells cold. Have you ever noticed that? Someone who has not experienced snow cannot comprehend that cold can be something experienced through smell, but it's true! It is wonderful the way my hand fits perfectly in my husband's hand. That feeling is so special. How cool that God gave us the ability to intertwine our fingers! :0) It is wonderful the way my children look when they sleep - like they are frozen in a hush of suspended time. Sometimes when I look at them I can see them as tiny newborns again, all bundled and fragile, and other times I see their whole lives rushing by in a flash that leaves me breathless. It is wonderful the way music moves me and touches my heart in a way that transports me. Our ears have such a treat of a job don't they? What a blessing to use music to praise and commune with our Creator! (If you haven't ever heard it, look for the song called The Singer, by David Phelps - truly amazing!) It's wonderful to be given all these senses to experience our days! Oh, Lord, may I never take any of them for granted!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quick Note

FYI: Aside from an occasional additional post like today's, you can expect this blog to be updated once a week (look for it by Thursday mornings). Thanks for being patient as I try this thing and thanks for being even remotely interested in checking it out! ;0)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I was hoping for another snow day today. I am greedy for them like my children are! Instead, God sent glorious sunshine and blue skies. It was a very cold day, but the break from clouds was truly a treat. I think this was an example of God giving me more than I could ask or imagine!

Ever notice how much cleaner your house is at night? I can't figure out if this is due to the lack of little bodies running around making a mess, or the dark that hides the dirt! Dust bunnies are apparently not nocturnal creatures, because they only seem to be about in broad daylight at my house.

off I go - I have promises to keep...and miles to go before I sleep

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Okay - so I am already behind because I had planned to update every Wednesday night and I missed it last night! Oops! For what it is worth, it was an extraordinarily busy day and I was just happy to make it through in one piece! I spent the morning speaking at a MOPS meeting about an hour and a half from here and the treacherous roads made the morning trip about two and a half hours long. Praise God, I made it safely and the talk went very well. It was well received and the ladies were very receptive and gracious! The topic of the talk was Loving and Encouraging Your Husband, and the timing, so near to Valentine's Day, was perfect. Thanks to all who prayed. It is humbling to be used this way, and the responsibility I felt to share the Truth while I had the platform was a little lighter burden knowing I was being upheld in prayer!

As for today, the balmy temperatures, which have been in the mid-twenties, have been a welcomed reprieve from the sub-zero temperatures that have been ravaging our days of late! The weather people are predicting more snow tonight, and I am beginning to wonder where they will put it when they plow!

Enjoy this special day, and take a moment to kiss your spouse and your kiddos and the other loved ones in your life and count them as the blessings that they are...

Friday, February 8, 2008


It seems appropriate that I step into the unknown waters of a new blog entitled Twelve Feet when it is twelve o'clock! If you know me, you understand how that sort of thing makes me happy. Since, however, it is midnight - this will be all for now - more soon.