Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the one where I spill..

the biggest reason it is hard to share her story.

Yes, she's been seizure-free for more than two years.
In some ways that year seems like a trial that happened a very long time ago.

Theoretically, I could be that wise mother who had an awful experience, who is now strong and healthy and ready to share her hard-earned wisdom with you.

But then, she gets tired, and there are circles around her eyes, and I remember.
We could go back there.
Any second.

One little seizure could bring us right back to that place.
One little cell left behind could be forming an aggressive tumor.

She could return to weakness.
And if she does, I will return to weakness with her.

If you've read my book, then you know I mean that. And you'll know why that terrifies me.

There is no super strength. No tried and true strategy. No secret Scripture that has immunized me against suffering.

So I guess I better tell you right now--
because if she goes back there, you'll be watching--
I might disappear for awhile.
I'll probably be tempted with despair, anger, addiction, depression.

And I'll have nothing good to say to you about any of that.

Unless, of course, He helps.

I guess all I can do it bank on that.


You are safe in God Pictures, Images and Photos


Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, 

   for in you my soul takes refuge; 

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, 

   till the storms of destruction pass by 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Contest winners!

Question Mark Pictures, Images and PhotosThank you everyone who submitted questions!  Watch the blog for the compiled list, coming later this week! The questions are so fun they might make you look forward to your next road trip with the kids! (almost)


I struggled to choose between the top two conversation-generating questions, when I suddenly realized they were both submitted by the same person!


Creative Genius: Katie Jo


The top two questions: 


What would you do if you had the chance to replace one of your hands with any type of food you wanted. You can only choose one thing for it to be for the rest of your life, but it will keep growing back every time it is eaten or removed. Would you? Why or why not?


This was a great question. At first, all the children thought of their favorite food and how wonderful it would be to have it permanently accessible.  But soon, they realized some of the things they would not be able to do if they had only one hand: climb trees! play on the monkey bars! play the piano!


And how gross would it be to swim with a pizza hand!

And imagine, when you get married and you're dressed so beautifully in your wedding dress... wouldn't a hamburger hand look a little ridiculous?

It was fun to watch them struggle:
Oh man, I really really like hamburgers... but I like to do stuff too... but I really like hamburgers...


In the end, only one of the children decided there could be no potential problem that would outweigh the joy of having ever-available hamburgers at hand.


What would you do if you could trade places with anyone (living? or historical?) in the world for a day? Who would you be and why? 


Some of them would trade places with a classmate. We had fun imagining what another family would be like- and what their friends would think of being part of OUR family for a day!

But Aggie melted my heart. She said she would want to trade places with Nana for a day.
"That way, when the Cook kids came to visit me, I could give them all their chocolate milks."
She and her Nana both have that beautiful generous spirit!



The Lucky One, chosen randomly via random.org:


VDMA


With the question: 
What would you do if Jesus invited you to ascend into heaven now? Would you go, or would you stay? What would you do if you stayed here?


These sweet little pastor's kids, on their way to Disney world, unanimously voted for going to heaven now. They acted as if it were not a question at all.  This makes me think.. perhaps they are more well-trained than I realize, at least in answering questions the way a good Christian is supposed to answer them.


(If I consider that question seriously, there is much thinking and wrestling involved.)


Then again, maybe it had something to do with the torturous van ride we just endured on the way to Florida.  
There will be no stomach flu in heaven, praise God.


WINNERS- Please email me your mailing address and I will send you a book right away!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things I should not have to say in the van

Don't lick the windows!
Yes, we are getting closer.

Don't chew on your brother's seat belt!
Don't chew on your BROTHER!

Don't eat stuff you find on the floor!
Pick that hamburger up off the floor and eat it! I'm not buying you another one!
Yes, we are getting closer.

Stop making that NOISE!
Nobody touch anybody for the rest of the trip. I'm serious.
Do you want me to forbid talking until we get to Florida? (What's "forbid?")

No, I do not have any chicken nuggets in my bag.
No, I did not pack three blankets for you. You will be OK with one this week.

YES, we are getting closer!


But this vacation, my least favorite thing I should not have to say that I said over and over and over again...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Survival Idea #2 Kitchen fun

Source: wwwrs.kraftrecipes.com via Wona on Pinterest
My girls like to make calzones (grill or bake in oven). We make pizza dough (they can knead it and everything), roll it out, choose the toppings they want (or add things like purred spinach where they can't see) fold them over, sprinkle cheese or whatever on the outside. We sometimes make sweet dessert versions with fruit or chocolate too. Papa murphys has a s'mores pizza that looks yummy.

You could also do a flat pizza and cut out pizza dough shapes for on top.

Putting the sauce (or spinach purée - green slime anyone?) in squeeze bottles helps.



--- tip from Carrie. 


This idea is great for many reasons
- kneading keeps them busy for a few minutes
- it is a practical project- they get to eat the finished product!
- supposedly kids eat better when they help make the food. 
- you can allow some creative expression on the inside of the calzone with very little aesthetic consequences for the end product!
- I love pizza and all things pizza related.


Thanks, Carrie! 


Here's to all of us moms and kids making it through this winter!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why make the bed?

"Why do I need to make my bed if it's just going to get messed up again?"
The child whines.

Sometimes I wonder and whine, too.

Why do we need to do any of this, really?

Why should I wash the windows any time between now and when the children are grown? Nobody is going to notice, and they are going to look just as bad tomorrow whether I do it or not.

Our kids ask these questions of us.
We ask them of ourselves.

How often we just keep on plowing through, for who-knows-why.
Today- stop for a second, please.

Consider this answer.


episodes

At first, we called them "episodes."  Early episodes lasted mere seconds, and always left me guessing if I saw what I thought I saw.

She just looked like she was daydreaming. Or distracted.
The strange giggle that we heard made us wonder if she just had an inside joke with herself or something.

The word "seizure" never occurred to me.  I always thought seizures were more dramatic.

This one happened in the middle of our prayer:



I was armed with my camera that day, ready to document her quirks, determined not to let anybody tell me that she was just fine. I knew she was not.

We learned later that this was a complex-partial seizure.
We learned later that these seizures can also be very dramatic.

We knew then that something was not right.
And time moved very, very slowly while we investigated that "something."


Father, uphold all of Your children for whom time moves slowly today.  In the wondering and the waiting and the worry, assure us of Your unchanging love.  Be the Solid Thing for all of us, in this place that is constantly changing, where life is constantly threatened and those whom we love fall away.  Hold us close, safe in Your Son Jesus.  Amen.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

A beef with God: The dance.

This is a dance I have done before, so at least I know how the steps go.
But I still hate it.
Perhaps you have done this dance before, too.

Step 1- Hear of a tragedy or some other sadness. (This week it was the drowning of a little boy, mixed with me spending too much time in the epilepsy forums.)

Step 2- Take it to heart. Stare into it deeply, and take on the burden of the sadness myself.

Step 3- Wonder where God is. Wonder if He really is good. Wonder how in the world can He allow such things if He really is good.

Step 4- Let a crust form on my heart towards God.  Perhaps give Him the silent treatment.  Look away from Him, and nurse my secret grudge.

(This is the kind of thing that can go on for days, weeks, or years. Sometimes this is the kind of thing that keeps people away from church for the rest of their lives. If you are one of those people- I get it.)

Step 5- Fall on my face in some way or another. Realize this is not a good long term strategy.

(aside: sometimes the above steps combine with medical problems or hormones or whatever and depression follows. Depression can cause you to feel stuck right here, forever, no matter what you do. If this is you, say it out loud to someone, please.)

Step 6- Write and pray and think. Realize that my bad day wasn't just about naughty kids or the stupid dog, but about the beef I have with God.

Step 7- Start talking to Him again.

God I've been pouting.
I have something to say. I know I shouldn't say it, but if I if I talk to you I can't not think it, so I might as well say it...


What the hell, God? 
(forgive me but ... what is going on here?)


Why? Where are you? You really love us? I believe- kind of- help my unbelief, Lord!
How can I possibly let my light shine when everything around me and inside me is so dark?

Step 8- Fess up


My heart is overflowing with anger, mistrust, and doubt. Forgive me, Jesus.


You have proven to me a million times that You are good and trustworthy. But God I am weak.. I need You to do it again...  show me where to look so that I can again believe that you are good!

Step 8- He helps.

I ought to know this already, but He mercifully repeats Himself.

He swaddles my flailing soul in the comforts of His Unchanging Word.

He gently turns my eyes back to the cross of Christ.

jesus-cross Pictures, Images and Photos

Here I find forgiveness for my sins. How quickly I forget His poured out life for me!

Here I realize there is so much I do not understand.  How can I scream angry questions at Him?

Here I find evidence of His goodness.  Overwhelming evidence. Evidence that bled out of His heart and flowed down on to the rebellious earth. onto me.

My questions do not disappear, but they are quieted for a moment while I rest in His love--
while I am weak and loved.

I look up to Him. I open my hands to receive help.
Faith.
Hope.

I look forward to the day when I will see Him fully and my questions will be silenced forever.


And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

1 Cor 6:14


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Survival Idea #1 Forbid something random

They were getting bored with their toys. They rode bikes in circles as I tried to do the laundry, but I could sense they were bumping each other just a little too hard to be having fun for long.

Marcus squealed and crashed into a box, knocking down my tennis shoes. He got off his bike to pick them up, and I jokingly yelled, "Marcus! What are you doing with my shoes!!! You BETTER not be touching my running shoes!"


Whenever I use the pretend-angry tone of voice, he gets the stinker sparkle. 

He grabbed the shoes and ran.

Suddenly I realized something: I had just turned my SHOES into the most-desired toy in the entire house!


They swiped, I chased, they ran away laughing.

The shoes retaliated:




Winter survival tip #1 noted: Forbid Something Random.
A joking prohibition will turn whatever-it-is into a coveted piece of fun.

I wonder if this will work with broccoli?


(How are you surviving the winter? Welcoming comments and guest posts!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Survival Ideas.. coming soon

Do you have children at home who will sit with you and do crafts for hours? Congratulations, you. Oh, and you say they love reading books, and will snuggle with you in bed as long as you will keep reading to them? Must be nice.

You highly favored ones, you do not need the kind of help I offer.  Enjoy those crafts and those intellectual conversations.

I'll be over here, in the zoo.

I'm at home this year with four preschool boys.

They are boys who inspire me to rhyme.
The the boys who wonder.
The boys who send me to the edge.
The boys who make me sweat.
The boys who inspired me to tease them with a song (that I am still waiting for somebody to sing for me and put on You Tube. Why not you?)

These are the boys with whom I must spend the winter.


These are the boy on whom I will experiment in the coming weeks, attempting to discover high-energy, no-cost, mom-friendly ways to spend the long winter hours.

When I discover something that works, I will past it on.


I think I'm going to need your help with this.
I'd love it if you would share your ideas, too.
Right now, I'm just asking.
By March, I'll probably be begging.

Welcoming comments or guest posts!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More good questions

Just for fun, I’m adding a few questions of my own!

If you could choose between living for one year at the zoo (in a cage) or living for one year in the woods all by yourself, which would you choose?  What would be good and bad about each of these?

If you had to talk in an unusual voice for an entire year,
t
which voice would you choose: Elmo, Darth Vader, or Elmer Fudd?
Source: fastcharacters.com via Emily on Pinteres

If you could choose between living in a house with NO babies, and living in a house with 50 babies, which would you choose and why? (hmm.. hitting close to home here!)

If we could build a house big enough for our entire family (extended family, both sides), would you want to?  Which 3 relatives would you want to share a room with?  Are there any relatives that you think might NOT want to room together?

If Moby (our van) could talk, what would he say? What would you ask him?




Ask a good question to win my book!
Help me survive an upcoming road trip!

I intend to compile the list into an easy-to-use format for you! (Just be patient with me after contest close- I am still working on the logistics!)

Together, we can make road trips with small children
educational
exciting
fun
more tolerable!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Her head

When Aggie was a baby I could calm her easily.  


I would stroke her head, and she would melt into me, as if I had given her the signal that she was home.


They say you lose 90% of your heat through your head in cold weather.  I think Aggie receives 90% of her love that way.



And the fit dissolved into peace...


I see this picture and I remember how upset she was a moment before it was taken.  Then, her little baby fit vanished as if the warm water on her head just washed it right away.



She is seven years old, but this little trick still works.  She still melts when I stroke her hair. (She also screams when I brush it, but that is another story.)


Of course when she was a baby, I did not know there was anything different about Aggie’s head.  


I had no idea what a unique head it was that I held in my hand.

Now I look at that picture and I wonder, could I have known, somehow? Was there a sign that I missed? Was the tumor there all along, hiding, waiting until her bright and happy fourth year to stretch its evil tendrils?

But I didn't know.

I kissed those chubby cheeks and held her tiny hand and petted her soft head.
I fetched her pacifier and put frilly socks on her feet and watched her receive awkward big-sister love .

I just enjoyed her.

She was special to me.

I'm glad I didn't know everything that was special about her head.

God, thank you for those days of innocent mommy joy.


- - - - - - - -


Stay tuned for "more of the story" every Monday!  I'll be adding thoughts and snapshots that are part of the Mother-Daughter Love Story, but not in the book!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

good words

From another book review from my friends at CSPP:


"Emily, unlike any other Christian mom-author I've ever read, finds comfort in precise places: her daughter's baptism, her own baptism, the real promises of God rather than fake general ones people made up, salvation in Christ even if there is no happy ending in this life. There is no blather about God's perfect plan or the blessings of watching one's child suffer a life-threatening illness (?!). There is only the cross that breaks us, sick baby or not, and the cross that saves us, for we are all sick babies"

Read the full review here

Friday, January 13, 2012

steeped in God's favor

If you put a hoop in front of me, I will jump through it, and I will bow for applause.  I loved getting report cards with all A's.  I like to be seen as talented and accomplished.

Pinned Image
Go me!

I can almost imagine that God uses the same standards to judge me, too.

Full of energy and health, I might well be able to accomplish many pious-looking things.

I might be able to buzz along on a treadmill all day long, sure that that God gives A's for effort.

I might cheerfully pretend that He ignores the pervasive selfishness in my heart even as I work "for Him."

I might be quite impressed with myself for measuring up to my own standards, especially if I close my ears to His.

But suddenly there's a bowling ball on the treadmill-- a crisis, a seizure, a bout of depression, a trial-- and before I know it, I am flat on my face with a bruise on my knee and tread burn on my face. And I'm not getting back up any time soon.


No more walking, forget running.

No loving God and neighbor while I'm nursing my own wounds.

No more meeting my own awesome self-imposed standards.

No more pretending to meet God's standards, either.

- - - - -

Epiphany Sunday is the time for talking about the wise men and their journey to Jesus.  They investigated.  They traveled.  They sought.

And then, they found.
And they didn't wait to receive congratulations. Instead, "they fell down and worshiped him."

Why? Because in beholding the living Christ, they realized God's grace was not a reward for their work, but a free gift.  In Jesus, they saw the extravagant love of God-made-flesh, and they realized that they were standing in God's favor.  Standing right in it.

They were standing in grace.  It poured on them like streaming light.
God's favor.  God in the flesh.  God's word of gospel and redemption.
Jesus.

This is the thought I have carried with me this week.

In Jesus, we are standing in God's favor. 

In Jesus, God's love and grace surround us like air.
This is true whether we are standing, OR lying on the floor.

In Jesus, we are covered in God's favor.

I am always amazed at his generous love for me, especially when I cannot even get on the treadmill.

His light and His favor do reach all the way down to the floor.  


Source: flickr.com via allegra on Pinterest


And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, god and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My First Book Review

I think my mom might hang this on her fridge :)

Read it here.

And tomorrow, I will post something that is NOT about the book!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Approved.

I hit the button to publish imperfect blog posts almost every day! Why is this so much different?

But it is. It is a book in PRINT... in STONE (almost.)

Overcoming the perfectionism and nervousness and hitting APPROVE... right NOW.

Preview it here.
Buy it here.
And keep trying to win it here!

(Don't worry, if you buy it and you win one, then you will have one to give away!)

It is time.

The final proof has arrived.
It is the moment of truth.


Time to stare at the computer for awhile....



13 great reasons to tackle your child

My four young boys have greatly impressed upon me the value of daily wrestling matches.  I am convinced that these children actually have some sort of inner quota that I must meet for them to function at optimum health.  For the sake of their overall well-being, I simply must find time for a hearty tickle-fight.

If you also have small children, you may want to consider incorporating this into your own daily homeschool and/or fitness plan.

Preliminary studies (in this house) have shown several surprising benefits of the daily wrestle for both mother and child.  They are as follows, in no particular order.

Burn off those cinnamon rolls: for both mother and child.  You can burn about 300 calories in a half hour- if you are playing with enthusiasm! (just think- approximately 10 minutes will burn off that snack-size Snickers bar!)

Practice the liturgy of apology: Someone screams in pain. Someone screams "it was an accident!" Mother reminds, "even if it is an accident, the kind thing to do is stop to see if they are OK and say you are sorry that they got hurt. Do that now and then we will get back to wrestling."

Teach them to stuff their emotions: 
Someone screams in pain, again. Mother gets very serious, examines the injury, and says, "Oh no... I guess I will have to cut it off!"  Child stops screaming, giggles, and runs away. Wrestling resumes.

Your kids will be smarter: Teach them things they won’t learn in preschool.  Even young children can learn the fine distinctions between a tickle and a pinch, and the nuances of a zerbit and a bite. (I love that somebody wrote up a definition for zerbit.)

Collect more data: Observe which children understand the art of "talking smack." Some children may get serious and worried. Others will light up and reveal their inner smart-aleck.

Earn some quiet time:
Wrestling done well will yield tired children who will sit in front of the TV for a half hour without fighting. (How do you think I find time to blog?)

Teach them to debate under pressure: Mother voices grave concern over the condition of the child's toes. "Oh no! Your toes are loose! I'm going to have to pull them for you!"  Child then must attempt to reason with mother while laughing and panicking.

Teach them not to crumble:
When the wrestling leads to one screaming, then two, then all of them, do not be fooled. It is a strategy they use to get mom to fix everything like she always does. Mother's counter-attack: throw self on the floor in imitation of the most dramatic child and wail along with them.  Within 15 seconds one will start laughing, and the fun will resume.

Impress their friends:
Wrestle your kids when their friends are over. Experience the enjoyment of pinning your child on the mat while his wide-eyed foreign friend stares at you with a mix of fear and awe.

Reign them in: There is a time and a place for cannon-balling into each other and sitting on large piles of little boys, there is also a time to stop such things.  A good lesson for all involved.

Give affection on the sly:
Some children pretend to be too big or mature for hugs, but playful wrestling can be a well-received form of affection.

Let 'em at you. They'll love it.
And in truth, you don’t have to “feel like it” for it to be fun... for them. Your kids can experience the full enjoyment of kneeing you in the back whether you are healthy or sick.  Your headache does not make the tackling any less hilarious. Little kids are very flexible that way.

Impress other mothers: Nothing says “I’m an awesome mom” like scratches on your face.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

getting ready...

 From where I'm standing I see...

someone who thinks he is very clever.

  • Boys that can't go anywhere while I shop-vac the front of the van. Genius.
  • A baby who seems to think the back of the van is his own personal dance floor.
  • Smudgy windows. I doubt I will get to those.
  • My baby who knows he can disarm me with those dimples.
  • Boys NOT touching each other, or yelling about someone touching someone. (I think I snapped the only moment like this in the entire morning.)
  • Kids who have no idea they are going on vacation soon! (please don't spoil the surprise!)
  • Kids who should suspect something is strange because mommy is cleaning the van and nobody even threw up in it first.
  • A van that is going to have to contain a LOT of energy for a many hours...


From where I'm standing I suspect...
that it is going to be a trying car ride.

But maybe not- with your help!
Keep those good questions coming!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Good Questions for kids!

Ask a good question and win my book!

This contest is now closed.

But you can still buy my book here!

AND please click here for a FREE DOWNLOAD - the fruit of this contest- 60 good questions for kids!
If you like that, don't miss Good Questions for Valentine's Day!

---------
You are hereby invited to participate in a contest hosted for my own purely selfish motives.

The prize: A free copy of my book, Weak and Loved,.

My selfish motives include, but are not limited to, the following:

I want you to share my website.
I want you to help me have a peaceful road trip with my children.
I want you to read my book.

The contest: That's a good question!

How to play:
Pinned ImageImagine you are stuck in a car for innumerable hours with six children under the age of nine.  Imagine the strong desire you have to keep the peace, so Father can drive.  Imagine also that you are a dreamer; that even in this cramped van smelling like chicken nuggets, you aspire to create a family bonding experience.

Now, get creative. Work with me. Let's get the children talking, thinking, and imagining. (I need your help, because this is when I start staring blankly out the window and the creativity disappears in car sickness and clock-watching.)

Write a good question, using one of the following formats:
What would you do if...
If you had to choose between...

Questions may be simple or complex, and they may contain more than one clause or question.

Good example:
What would you do if a giant rat knocked on your door and asked you for some cheese?  What would you do if that rat was a mother rat with babies?

Bad example:
If you had to choose between eating cereal covered in dog drool or sleeping on a pillow made out of dirty diapers, what would you choose?

(This is a bad example because 1. It's gross and 2. The responses would mostly be limited to "ewww." Not much intellectual stimulation.)

Please avoid the following subject matters: body fluids of people or animals, potty humor, private body parts, or other gross stuff.  The children will already be talking about most of these things.

How to enter:
Leave your ideas in the comment section, on my facebook page, or email me at emilymariecook AT weakandloved DOT com. Then, please share this post with your friends.  The contest will be open until midnight Wednesday, January 18. Multiple entries will be accepted and will count individually for the random drawing.

How to win:
Two winners will be chosen.

1.  The Creative Genius will be chosen by my children and me, after our upcoming very long car ride.  The winning question will be the question that gets the biggest and best reaction from the children.  It will get them thinking, debating, and imagining... for at least 5 consecutive minutes. (I'm dreaming big!) If all goes well, I will have stories to share!

2. The Lucky One will be chosen at random via random.org.

I will announce the winners on January 30.
(Please allow 2-4 weeks for shipping. See complete contest rules here.)

Soooo...
If you had to choose between entering this contest (thus helping me and my kids, giving yourself a chance to win my book, and sharing my site, and making my day), or ignoring this completely..... what would you chose?


Friday, January 6, 2012

returning to simple

"The One whose presence you desire above all else, 
the Father who sent his Son to be with us and for us, 
is pleased with you.  

In repentance and faith, therefore, 
with the praise of  God on our lips, 
we can go forth to pursue our daily labor.  

There to find the neighbor.  
There to carry out our spiritual worship.  
There to do, as best we can, good work."

(Gilbert Meilaender )
Love Taking Shape: Sermons on the Christian Life
fantastic book.

After feeling very overwhelmed yesterday, I am carrying this thought with me today.
 
Simple. Solid.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steeped in an unnatural idea...


For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."

Isaiah 30:15


I hear this verse with a toddler on my lap, fighting me. The other kids are sitting by my side, doing their best to use their "church manners" and not to be distracting.  It's not working.


I'd go HERE if I could. Grumble.
Rest and quietness!?  
I wish. 
Grumble. Resent.


But do I?
Do I really wish I had a quiet house and a short list and all the time in the world to rest, relax, and be still with God?  Or, if I had a quiet house and a short list, would I simply add things to the list until I had a noisy house and a full day again?

I'm driven, busy, and task-oriented to a fault.

Rest and quiet are about as natural to me as... well, returning, and trust.


Returning to the Lord. 
Returning, when my life has changed suddenly, to God Who does not change.
Returning, when darkness threatens to swallow me up, to The Light of the World.
Returning, after a failed battle with my own sin, to God Who forgives.


Ceasing from activity, from problem-solving, from justifying myself, and from worry,
and quietly resting in His love for me.

And remembering who I am, Whose I am.

A child of God.
Weak and loved.



For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."


Father,
Teach my heart to do what does not come naturally.  Open my eyes to the pockets of time in my day when I may rest in You.  I often miss those moments, when the children are quiet and no tasks are urgent, and I fill them up with mental chatter, worry, or little things that could wait.  May I not just breathe and to rest my body, but rest my heart as well, in You.  Fill me with returning and trust, and let Your strength be my strength as I enter this day.

In Jesus' name, Amen





Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Taylor Swift + my crazy life = this song

LOUD
(Inspired by my four boys, and Mean- listen if you don't know the song)

YOU, with your toys like knives and swords
and Nerf darts that you shoot at me
YOU, knock-knock jokin' again and again
got me feeling like I'm crazy

You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard,
calling me "MOM" when you're wounded

You, pickin' on the weaker brother


Well, you can make me crazy with just one Wiggles show
But you don't know what you don't know

Someday I'll be living in the quiet country
And all you're ever gonna be is LOUD

Someday I go hide away where you can't find me
And all you're ever gonna be is LOUD

Why you gotta be so LOUD?


YOU, with your matchbox cars and your bugs in jars
and your taste for demolition
YOU, have smudged my windows again
as if I didn't just clean them



I work with my headphones on trying to block you out
'cause you'll never stop taking
I just wanna think complete thoughts again

I know you get pushed around, somebody made you fall

But the tattling ends right now 'cause you're drivin' mama up the wall

but soon it won't be like this at all

Someday I'll be living in the quiet country
And all you're ever gonna be is LOUD
Someday I go hide away where you can't find me
And all you're ever gonna be is LOUD

Why you gotta be so LOUD?



And I can see you years from now on a field, fighting over a football game
With that same big loud opinion but everybody's listening
Suited up and grunting about the same boy-barian things
Mad and grumbling on about how the ref can't see

But all you are is LOUD



All you are is LOUD
and rambunctious 
and destructive and full of life

And loud, and loud, and loud, and loud

Someday I'll be living in the quiet country
And all you're ever gonna be is  LOUD
Someday I go hide away where you can't find me
And all you're ever gonna be is LOUD


Why you gotta be so LOUD?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let it snow!



From where I'm standing I see...

Our trusty 15 passenger van.  His name is Moby.

Glad we got a little snow here in Michigan this week, even if it wasn't on Christmas.

A van that could theoretically be just as clean as any other car inside.  It is not.

I feel...

Like people driving by probably think I am strange for taking a picture of my van in the snow.

I hear...

My children pounding on the window, asking me why I just ran outside with my camera.

I wonder...

If maybe I should get some kids to come out here with me so I don't feel so ridiculous.

I worry...

that my mom is about to grab the camera and take a picture of me!

Yup:





I think it is pretty sweet that my mom still likes to take pictures of her little girl playing in the snow.

Monday, January 2, 2012

introducing: Steeping in Sunday

I sit at my computer on the chair that upholds my normal, and I find that I have more to say.
I resolve to receive.
And remember what I have received.
And carry with me that which I have received.

But I let the dog out and forget about him two minutes later. I start an email and wonder why I have 48 drafts saved. I microwave coffee and discover it the next morning.

It is hard for me to focus on anything except that which is in front of my face.

"Blessed are those who hear the Word and keep it." Luke 11:28

It is easy to hear only law in this passage.  As if Jesus were saying, obey, obey, OBEY you sinner, otherwise you have no part with me.  But He --the one who came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it-- gives this Word and all of His Words to us as a gift.

Keep my Word, my child. Treasure it. Carry it with you.  Receive from it life and hope and health.  Make your home in it.  Steep in it.  Let it color your world.  Let it remake your heart.

Coming soon:
Steeping in Sunday

TEA BAG Pictures, Images and Photos

If all goes to plan, I will post a short Scripture or hymn or idea in the blog sidebar on Sundays.

I'll let it steep in my chaotic life.  I'll post it by the sink too, and maybe on the coffee pot, so it doesn't fall completely out of my brain like so many other things do.

Mixing the Word with my chaos always produces some interesting pictures.
I'll show you some of the artwork on Thursdays.



easier than a gingerbread house...

Gingerbread houses stress me out.
They require so much chaos, 
so much candy,
so much mess!
Especially with six kids as young as mine.
(Aggie made the one in the other picture with her class)

I have come up with a much easier alternative.

Snow people.





Marshmallows, chocolate syrup, and toothpicks.


If I am feeling extra kind, 
chocolate chips,
and maybe frosting.


The baby can just sit and snack while the children create.


He doesn't mind at all.


 Marcus said his snowman was rolling in the mud!




Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weak and Loved: snippets of 2011

A few "Weakandloved" highlights from 2011.
Randomly chosen just for the fun of it.

The first of many grunt interpretations:
How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me ridicule the boogers on your face,' when you yourself fail to see the layers of crust on your own face? You hypocrite! First wipe the crust from your own face, and then you will see clearly enough to to teach good hygiene skills to your brother!
It is so much fun to probe the mind of an Alpha Kitchen Buddy and little boys fighting temptation.


On the professional side of things,
I discovered and coined a new condition: PTSSD
I performed various experiments on my children
and wrote a well-respected manual for children
A two-year old's guide to fit-throwing


And in times of grief and tragedy I prayed, O Lord, Open my Ears,
and wrote other reflections on the life, death, and Life of baby Delia, and brother in Christ Alan.


Depression
One little post turned into a few more, and I am surprised at how many of you share my struggles.  I will come back to this topic in 2012, though I can't help to hope that I only revisit in in memory and in theory. Friends who have been or are in the pit, let us continue to hold each other up in prayer.


Memorial Mondays: I remember life as an army wife.

And here at the end of the year I find I am still Kicking it in at night, hurrying through tasks and forgetting that love is given slowly, with open eyes and hands that receive that which they are told to give.

Yet Immanuel, God-with-us, meets me here in the noise and the mess and the exhaustion.

And I end the year as I began.

Weak and loved.




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