Saturday, April 26, 2014

Normalcy

It's been a normal week around here.

Whatever.

I heard once that normal is just a setting my dryer.

I inspected both my dryer and washer today.  Actually, neither one has a "normal" setting.  It's possible that normal doesn't even exist.

Speaking of dryers,  I ran my dryer for nearly an entire cycle last week with absolutely nothing in it...

Here's a couple of other crazy normal things we've been up to . . .

*  After a normal shopping trip I learned the wisdom of not putting all your eggs in one basket.  Or at least not placing 3 dozen in one plastic bag.  One of the kids (who hates it when I talk about him, so he shall remain nameless) dropped the receptacle of my Easter sale treasures.  Right in the driveway.  I was inside nursing the baby, so I had no idea what had happened until his older brother ran in, eager to tell all about it.

 "Oh well," I philosophized.  "I can always scramble them or make an omelet.  It's an ill wind that blows no good."

 Evidently my young Vandal inherited my make-the-best of it genes.  He took the opportunity to thoroughly egg the well house . . .

*  I was rushing around on Saturday, making last minute preparations for Sunday dinner.  My pastor's family had requested I bring an apple pie.  I stood at the kitchen sink awhile, holding a dialogue with myself on the benefits of removing my ring or leaving it on while I worked with the pie crust.  Recalling the day I lost my brand new engagement ring was enough to convince me to leave my ring right where it belongs, on my finger.  I just about panicked when I looked down about an hour later at my ringless left hand.  The kitchen window sill was barren as well.  I prayed and searched for the next two hours, rehearsing how I was going to break the news to Rob when he returned with the boys from town.  It was with sinking heart that I sat down to the dinner table.  I deemed the straightforward approach to be best.

"I have something very important to say, haveanyofyouseenmyringit'smissingandI'velookedeverywhereandI'msoooosorryRobertwaaaaa"

Cy leapt to his feet with a very guilty look and fished my token of endless love out of his grimy pocket.  He professes that he was just as surprised as I was when he found it in his pocket.  Very strange.

*  The next day was Easter.  I'm not all that big into holidays.  It's just too much stress.  Not to mention, the whole pagan/religious tradition debate.  It's kinda complicated.  Suffice it to say I'm very happy to make the most of every chance I get to eat a nice dinner without the guilt if I don't make up baskets or hide eggs.  We also try to dress in our best clothes on Resurrection Sunday.  It just seems to be the right thing to do.  So, I track down all the boys dress shoes, dress socks, clip on ties, and dry clean only suits.  I rise a whole hour earlier.  We spit and polish and spritz with Daddy's cologne.  Ten minutes before time to leave I hear someone ask, "Where's Alvin?"  That always strikes terror into my heart.  Good grief!  Where is Alvin?  The door opens and in creeps a very gray and grizzled little waif.  He must have gotten Easter confused with Ash Wednesday.  He is covered in ashes.  From the crown of his dusty blonde head to the sole of his scuffed smokey dress shoes.  He smells like a burnt marshmallow.  He had been selflessly stoking the smoldering brush pile that we had burned the night before.  I don't know what we would have done if that brush pile had burnt out.  Maybe made it to church on time or something terrible like that.  He was the only kid in church that day wearing jeans and spider man tennis shoes.

And I never dry clean little boys suits.  I wash them.  Don't tell anyone.

*  Monday we took Ana for her two month vaccinations.  Boy, that's tough.  I have friends that refuse to vaccinate and friends that diligently get their flu shots.  I know a couple who trace their son's autism to his shots and others who have chapter and verse to prove that can't possibly happen.  Deciding where I stand on the issue has been one of the most difficult choices of my motherhood career.  Right up there with circumcision.  Blech!  I found Cynthia Copeland's tongue in cheek take on it in her book, The Diaper Diaries sums it up pretty well:

"The doctor then says he will give the baby immunizations today that he refers to by Star Wars kinds of names:DTaP, IPV, Hib, Hep-B4, and PCV7.
  He gives you one minute and 13 seconds to read 27 pages of information about everything that has ever gone wrong after a baby has been given a shot.
  Then he warns you that common reactions to the vaccine range from excessive crankiness (which you're thinking you probably wouldn't notice) to excessive sleepiness (which you're kind of hoping for).
  He allows you 24 seconds to read another stack of papers that say, essentially:  "This shot could prevent some horrible disease in the future or cause one.  The baby could die from this shot in five minutes or sometime next week.  She may have seizures, convulsions, and brain damage-----or not.
Sign here."

Exactly.   

But, we got it over with.  The boys all cringed together in the corner and covered their ears.  Ana held a grudge against me for the next two days.

*  Tuesday was my turn to go to the doctor.  I've been having flashes of light in my peripheral vision.  I'm at a higher risk for retinal detachment, so we've been keeping a close eye on the situation.  (That was a pun. Eye get it! Oops, there's another one.  Somebody stop me)

*  Tuesday afternoon, Cy broke out into hives the size of dinner plates.  Took him to the doctor on Wednesday.

*  By Thursday I had to take the entire day off of school just to get the laundry done.  Sad.

*  The good news is that my darling honey bunch bought me a nifty new phone!  As soon as Betsy and I get acquainted I hope to start posting pictures on this here blog.

*  Let's see, what else happened this week.  Oh yeah, on Friday we did school, picked up the church van, picked up two sets of friends, went to McDonalds, then Bounce U, then McDonalds again, then took both sets of friends home, then returned the church van, then returned the diaper bag I had inadvertently absconded with, then fixed some outrageously good/Pioneer Woman Pork Chops With Apples and Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits.  And we watched It's A Wonderful Life.

 Just a normal, wonderful day.

By God's Grace, just a normal, wonderful week.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Love The Lord, Because . . .

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

I haven't been able to get away from Psalms 116 and 118 this week.
 

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.


The footnotes in my Bible describe how that Psalms 113-118 are traditionally sung before and after the Passover meal.  113 and 114 are sung before.  115-118 after.  "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." Matt 29:30

 
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.


The first time I read this, I was overwhelmed by thinking of all that the Lord has brought me through.

 
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears and my feet from falling.


From the lowest points to the highest, He has carried me.  "The just shall live by faith".  Certainly not my faith, for that is far too weak.  I can no more hold on to God than baby Ana can hold on to me.  It's His faithfulness that keeps me from falling.


And then, it began to dawn on me.  Jesus may very well have sung these words before he walked out of the warmth of fellowship into the blackness of rejection.


Precious in the sight of the LORD is  the death of his saints.

O LORD, truly I am thy servant, and thee son of thine handmaid:

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all the people.


I called upon the LORD in my distress: 
The LORD answered me

But it is only because Christ was forsaken when He cried out.
The LORD is on my side; 
I will not fear: 
what can man do unto me?

Can you picture Christ singing these words of faith and confidence?

They compassed me about...
But in the name of the LORD 
I will destroy them.

I shall not die,
 but live,
and declare the works of the
 LORD.

The LORD hath chastened me sore;
but he hath not given me over to death.

The stone which the builders rejected is become the head stone of the corner.

This is the LORD'S doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which the LORD has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

I will never quote this verse the same way again.  So often embroidered on cheery wall hangings, so often quoted at the beginning of a day with nice weather.  That was the day ordained before the foundation of the world for it's Creator to die!  How we ought to rejoice!  This is a verse for our darkest days, not just the sunny ones.

Blessed be he that cometh in the name of 
the LORD.

Hmm, where have we heard that before?

But here is the verse that stops everything cold.  Picture the upper room: an empty cup of wine, crumbs from the unleavened bread, twelve men gathered in fellowship, one is missing.

...Bind the sacrifice with cords, 
even to the horns of the altar...

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever!


select verses from Psalms 116 and 118   

Monday, April 14, 2014

Books To Nurse By: A Bleary-Eyed Book Review

Books have always been a major part of my life.  My mom likes to recount the hours she spent reading stacks of books to me everyday.  As the oldest (and only child for all of 14 months) there is no doubt I benefited tremendously from the golden hours spent with my mother's collection of Little Golden Books.

Thank you so much, mom!

Mi Madre was also my phonics teacher.  And she did a most thorough job.  Maybe a little too thorough.  I recall the scolding I received when she discovered I was habitually hiding with my books in a tree in order to evade household chores.

Reading is one of the things that makes me feel human.  I could live without a television, VCR and DVD player, reliable internet, a second car, long distance telephone, cell phone, or family nearby as long as I have access to a library.  Which is exactly how I lived for two years in the barren wastelands of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

I read a lot.

A whole lot.

It's hard to calculate how many books I might have read in the past 29 years of existence, 11 years of marriage, 10 years of motherhood and 4 years of homeschooling.  I certainly could never begin to try and recall each and every book.  But, there are 5 books that stand out in my memory.

 5 volumes that I will never forget.

Not necessarily because of gripping plot or deep philosophy.  But because they were the main reasons I willingly got up at 12:15, 1:45, 3:08, 4:29 and 6:19 EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  These fab five were my nursing companions.  The first book I read after each child was born.  The only thing that kept me sane for the first two tremulous weeks postpartum.

 If you are always on the prowl for a good read, may I recommend my Bleary-Eyed Book Review?


Baby #1
Caledonia: Legend of the Celtic Stone, Michael Phillips

 I perused the Beaver County Public Library, scouring it's shelves for something that I hadn't already read to take to the hospital with me.  This book practically fell off the shelf into my waiting arms.  It's sheer mass gave me pause.  I only had about two weeks left in this library district before we moved across the state.  Would I be able to complete the massive tome in time?  By the time I finished scanning the back cover I was hooked.  This book skillfully weaves current events and hypothetical crimes in the Scottish Freedom Movement with historically fictionalized epochs reaching back to the very beginning of time.  Who might have been Scotland's first settler?  What occasioned the raising of the megaliths?  Why should we remember Glencoe?  And most of all, Where did the Stone of Scone come from and What has happened to it since?  A political thriller, mystery and historical fantasy is bound together in this epic trilogy.  And no, I did not get to finish it before we moved.  It almost gave me literal pain to return it, half unread as we left town.  I spent the next 6 years searching for it.  Of course, now I realize I could have purchased it off Amazon.  But then again, the wait just made completing the tale that much the sweeter.


Baby #2
 To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, Courtney Anderson

Since we were giving our innocent baby boy the unconventional name, Adoniram, I felt it behooved me to know a little more about his namesake.  What a ride!  I had no idea this missionary pioneer had such an exciting life.  Adoniram was the first American to travel overseas to a foreign field.  But, before that incredible adventure could begin, God first had to track the rebellious actor down.  His conversion story still gives me chills.  From his tearful farewell at the dock, to the agony of losing those dearest to him again and again, to the triumph of his first convert, to the horrors of the Burmese Death Prison, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.  You will visit golden palaces, tropical forests and bamboo huts. You will meet despotic emperors, faithful followers, courageous women and driven men.  Beyond the history and exotic adventure you will find yourself challenged, forced to ask the question, "Are you willing to leave all and follow Him?"   This book goes down on my Life Changer list.


Baby #3
The Gift Of Pain, Dr. Paul Brand

What an odd title!  The bright orange cover caught my eye as I scanned my grandfather's shelf.  I was familiar with Dr. Brand's writing.  He and Phillip Yancy had written Fearfully and Wonderfully Made together.  (a most excellent book as well)  In this book, Dr. Brand draws on his years of service to the lepers of India and the United States to illustrate what a preserving miracle pain is.  If you enjoy science and medicine, or just want a better understanding of God's hidden mercies, hunt this book down


Baby #4
Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie

 Branching out a bit, this book was a departure from my usual, safe, Christian books.  The unusual plot is what grabbed my attention.  This historical fiction begins in Nagasaki, just before The Bomb, extends into Pakistan right before and after the British withdrawal and leads up to September 11th.  It is controversial.  I am not necessarily endorsing any of the viewpoints expressed.  It does open questions.  Questions are not always bad.  It was dark in some ways, hopeful in others.  I read this at an extremely vulnerable time in my life and I find it interesting in retrospection that this preceded my worst bout of depression to date.  So, reader beware. 


Baby #5
He Satisfies My Soul, Dr. Paul Brand

 Dr. Brand is at it again. One of my most refreshing reads to date.  Compiled by Phillip Yancy (disclaimer: I am not specifically endorsing Phillip Yancy or his theology) this book explores some of the body's least extolled functions and draws spiritual parallels from anti-bodies, taste buds, digestion and the chemical laboratory that is our nose.  While I do not agree with all of the author's theology or conclusions, this book was a tremendous blessing to my weary soul.  What a marvelous Creator!  What splendid Creation!  

How about you?  Are there any memorable books you would like to share?  I apologize in advance for the way my comments section is set up.  If you would like to comment publicly, a Google account is currently required.  If there are any digital gurus out there who could tell me how to change to an open comment forum, please leave a comment walking me through the process.

Happy reading!
CCCCcCccAn epic saga of courage and romance in Scotland, linking a parliament member with an ancient heritage. Caledonia book 1. - See more at: http://tccl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1496907063_legend_of_the_celtic_stone#sthash.i82LBQxg.dpuf
An epic saga of courage and romance in Scotland, linking a parliament member with an ancient heritage. Caledonia book 1. - See more at: http://tccl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1496907063_legend_of_the_celtic_stone#sthash.i82LBQxg.dpuf

Sunday, April 13, 2014

'Tis The Gift

'Tis the gift to be simple.
'Tis the gift to be free.
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be.
And when you find your self in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning, we come 'round right.



I love this old Shaker hymn.  The Shaker's themselves were somewhat creepy.  But they did beautifully express the joy and peace of simplicity.  The tune is exquisite, haunting.  Aaron Copeland borrowed it to craft the centerpiece of his Appalachian Spring  It makes me want to sit out under a tree and ponder the meaning of life.  

Or clean out a closet.  

Same difference.

Both help me achieve a sense of inner harmony and feng shui.

Man, I have got to stop eating fortune cookies!

A month ago I took a personality test.  I have taken these before, no big deal.  It certainly wasn't life changing.  This time I took a Briggs-Meyer type test, looking to see what sort of a career I might be suited for.  Not that I'm looking for a career other than Full Time Mommy.  I guess it's just the Postpartum Identity Crisis I seem to go through every two years.  Anyways, I took several tests and they all came back the same.  I classify as an ENFP.

I know that just rocked your world.

Seriously, if you would like to take the test, HERE is a good place to take one.  They explain after the test what the alphabet soup classification means.  Here is my analysis:


ENFP - Journalist
ENFPs love novelty and surprises. They are big on emotions and expression and their life is an exciting drama. They are good in sales, advertising, politics, and acting. 5% of the total population.ENFP's have a tendency to overextend themselves in both their physical and emotional commitments. Their proclivity to procrastinate and to overlook details complicates their circumstances. ENFP's often move on to new ventures without completing those they have already started. Their charming personalities can show signs of irritability and over-sensitivity when their desires to please different people come into conflict. During times of stress, ENFP's feel alienated. They then engage in deceptions that serve to obscure what is occurring within themselves. 


I am just beginning to realize how often I overextend myself.  Procrastination and overlooking details definitely complicate my circumstances.  I'm usually late just about wherever I go because I am trying to cram "just one more thing" into the day.  Often just one more thing is necessary because I didn't do it earlier.  And it's usually harder because I don't have what I need because I either didn't put it on my list or I didn't see it on my list at the store because I was in a rush because I was late for the party because I didn't shop for a present earlier because I didn't put "present" on my list because I was rushing to get to the bank before it closed because breakfast was late because we got in bed late the night before because dinner was late because I had to go to the store at the last minute for a key ingredient that I missed from my list because . . .

You get the picture.

Another personality test site (can't find it now) revealed that ENFP's, though extroverts, also have a need for quiet, space and personal down time.  Just like classic introverts.  I knew it!  I've always known that I wanted down time.  Now I know I need it.  In the old days, like last month, if Miss Velma offered to watch the kids for me I would take the opportunity to stay out all day running errands like a chicken with it's head lopped off.  I would return home cranky and worn out.  My "day off" had virtually no effect whatsoever.  Granted, one can't drag 5 small kids through the lingerie store in order to redeem the free underwear coupon one received in the mail.  Especially when 3/5ths of  said children happen to be militant masculinists.  (If you have boys under the age of 12 then you are familiar with militant masculinists)   Leaving the kids with someone in order to run errands is nice.  But it does not qualify as refreshing.  At least not for me.

It's hard to admit, but this Stay-At-Home-Mamma longs for more time at home.

By. My. Self.

That is when my best ideas happen.  While I sip my tea under the tree, pondering the cumulonimbus clouds, (and patting myself on my homeschool back for knowing that word) I suddenly get The Great Idea to tear apart and rearrange the School Shelf.  While returning the books to alphabetical order I ruminate on why 3/5ths of the toys wind up under the couch cushions and thereby resolve to put into effect The Great Minimalist Movement.  The Great Minimalist Movement involves splitting all toys into fourths.  Only 1/4th of my young slobs toys will be accessible at any given time.  Hopefully this will make cleaning up 3/4ths easier, giving me and the children more time to pursue Meaningful Activities, like gardening and violin lessons.

A few other ENFP analyses  explain why I dress in a rather (to put it kindly) "eccentric" manner.  It's because I just don't care about that kind of stuff.  Of course, my mom could have told you that 27 years ago.  But she doesn't have a Doctorate of Psychology behind her name, so I just kind of ignored her.  Sorry, mom!  It also explains why I don't pre-treat my kids laundry stains, why the next door neighbor took the socks right off my kid's feet and gave them new ones and why I'm not willing to pay for a haircut.  I thought it was just because I was a noodle head.  But, nope!  ENFP's are too busy being creative and contemplating the next earth shattering blog post to worry about deep cleaning and purging holey socks. 

Another challenge, I don't know when to stop.  I am so full of energy looking for ways to simplify my life so that I can meditate on Shaker poetry, I just run myself into the ground.  Here it is, a rainy Sunday at home with a sick child.  I can't wait to start relaxing.  First thing to do, make a list of all the refreshing activities I want to engage in.  (you can see where this is going, can't you)

It's no wonder I suffer from moderate adrenal insufficiency.  The last time I went to church camp I literally climbed the walls.  The climbing wall at the playground, the cliff at the swimming hole, the mountain behind camp.  I couldn't stop moving.  I was determined to make the most of Every. Single. Second.  It's no coincidence that trip precipitated my Great Depression of 2012.  I just can't keep up with myself.

The spring weather and postpartum stir craziness are in my bones.  I'm a rampage waiting to happen.  But now that I know a little more about myself, I hope that I can use my energy and resources a little more wisely.

I need to remember 'tis the gift to be simple.

'Tis the gift to be free.