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Archive for the ‘Deep Thought’ Category

Questions

Lately, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions. What exactly is my breaking point of stress? Why am I calm and serene with a situation, only moments later to find myself with too much to handle? Why does all H-E-Double Hockeysticks break loose when I leave my children alone in a room for two minutes?

Case in point this morning. My four year old  (soon to be 5 next week) and I were busily washing dishes, my 3 year old was  “sweeping”, and my 20-month old was trying to get in on the action somehow. I left for maybe 2 minutes to put something away in the bathroom when suddenly, banshee-like screams came from the kitchen in an octave I was sure only girls could reach. I returned to the kitchen to find the soon-to-be-five-year-old protecting the sink with all her might, the 20-month old screaming with all his might, and the 3 year old telling me, in her three-year-old way, what all had come to pass while I had taken the 13 steps to the bathroom and back.

Imagine, if you will, water EV-ER-Y-where. Soaked through clothing, dripping down cabinet doors, pooled on the floor in front of the sink. First question in my head: Why are you doing this to me? As if, in the 2 minutes or less that I was gone my three youngest children huddled up and devised a plan to stress me out.

I have this dream of what kind of mom I want to be: actively engaging my kids during chore time, so they learn to be true helpers in our home; remaining calm and patient during stressful times so they learn to do the same; treating them with kindness, always, so they learn that relationships are far more important than any agenda or deadline I have before me. I dream of this, than I find myself sitting on the kitchen floor in tears telling them that I responded the wrong way. Telling them what my goal is: to be more consistent showing them the love that Jesus, our King, asks us to show each other in His Word, and to be thankful for all He has entrusted to me.

Thank you, Jesus, for these little ones. Help me to, someday, automatically give thanks for your blessings instead of letting the Enemy convince me that anger is the remedy to a stressful moment.

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I had been 22 for just over a week and I had recently met the man of my dreams, with whom I knew I would spend the rest of my life, when I began the journey that has just yesterday come to a close. For some reason, God placed me in a shop full of men – some old, some younger…one I even rode the bus with to school in Palmer. I had gone there with the intention of spending 10 weeks and then returning to Anchorage where I would continue going to UAA, but that 10 weeks turned to four years and here we are.

The woman who took my position asked me if I was sad at all to be leaving, and after a little thought my answer was no, because it’s always sad for me to be at work and away from my baby girl. But then, during my last few days there, I realized how many people I really wanted to say goodbye to.  I must have hugged about 50 dirty coverall-wearing guys who all remind me in part of my own dad, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of how they all have been like “dads” to me, or “big brothers” even. And as the majority of them got a little teary-eyed saying goodbye to me, I found myself doing the same.

The shop had a good-bye party for me on Saturday. They aren’t a very emotional group, as you can imagine any group of mechanics would be, but they did say that they feel like they’ve watched me grow up. They were some of the first to hear that I was engaged, saw my pictures from our wedding, and heard that I would be bringing a new life into the world, and also some of the first people to hear that I’d lost my brother. They said they hated to see me go, but they knew I had a good reason. And I know I do, too.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I don’t have to go back. I keep reminding myself by telling Sophia every couple of hours, “Guess what?!” “What?”, she asks. “Mama’s home now, for good.”

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You would think that since I only have as many get-ups as I can count on one hand before I’m completely done with my job, I’d stick it out and work as much as I can until the last minute. But no, that doesn’t seem to suit my personality. Instead, I’ve decided to take this Friday off to be with Sophia all day while her Papa travels up to the Copper River to dipnet some red salmon for us.

My last R&R was a little sad for me to contemplate, because it was my final R&R. I would never again have a two-week sanctuary in the middle of all the working madness: the way-too-early mornings, long days, and the too-little-time with my family. I would instead reach a point where I would not be expected to return back to work. I would have the new challenge off being employed at home full time. Which is why, I suppose, this one final “day off” is so appealing to me. One more chance to enjoy the opportunity to fill myself with rest, time in the Word, and hugs from my little girl. One more chance to put my feet up for a little bit, before the Grand Finale of Work.

I try to remind myself daily that this change does not signify an exchange of work for fun. I know that motherhood is the most important, if not the hardest, job I’ll ever have. After all, I am always much busier during my R&Rs than I ever am at work. The difference is that during my work days I’m forced to use my brain a lot more than during my R&R. The challenge, therefore, will be finding a balance between tedious chores and creative ventures. I know it will take time to get there – I might not even ever find it – but I’m hoping I do. Not just for my sake, but for my family’s, too.

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Toys In Common

These may look like three ordinary, in-every-kid’s-room toys, right? Well, they’re not. And one of the biggest reasons they’re not is that out of all the toys we go through in the lifetime of our children, these three will never be ones that go in the “donation bin” or carelessly are left at a friend’s house… They are ones I plan to help us hold on to.

But why? Surely it’s the quality of these toys, free from any blemishes – so bright and fresh looking. It’s definitely not that, in fact, I hope they are decorated with many blemishes (in other words, love) in the years to come. I hope our kids use their imaginations to play with these toys until they can no longer say the words, “What if?” And most importantly, I hope they understand why I love them so much.

Today my brother John would have turned 28. We were almost exactly 2 years apart in life, which meant we played A LOT as kids. And yes, sometimes that playing meant that I had to be Skeletor, but it also meant that he had to help me take care of my cabbage patch dolls. He was always so fascinated by the tattoo on their bottoms. He also knew I loved frogs. As adults, he always made sure that he looked out for any cool frog things for me…so he surprised us one weekend when we were staying at my mom’s B&B by putting a stuffed frog on the bed for Sophia. And then there’s that phone. For Sophia’s first Christmas he and Dad drove out to Valdez to spend the holiday with us. He was so excited to show Sophia this phone that spoke more than one language, just like his sister, he said.

Just so you know, if he were still here I probably would have gotten him something to do with Star Wars. But since he’s not, I’ll say Happy Birthday and think instead about the generosities he bestowed on his niece and nieces/nephews to come, because no matter how they choose to play with these toys, I’m sure they’ll all be fascinated by that tattoo.

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While I have a few moments of extra time, I wanted to write a little bit about what’s been whirling around in my head these past few weeks and months. As we’re in the process of packing for our big move, I’m realizing I’m getting very little packing done, and much more decluttering and simplifying. It’s really amazing to see what we have let accumulate in our house these past few years – things that we might have thought we needed but never ended up using…even things that we purchased thinking we needed them when in actuality we didn’t. I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about impulse buying – even cheap stuff. She brought up the point that when we buy stuff we really don’t need we are fueling the excess production of consumer goods which costs money and energy. Even though an item seems “cheap” to us, it can actually turn out to be quite expensive if we end up not using it. Not to mention the cost it has on our environment. This friend of mine brought up the point that when we shop at second-hand stores, we are not only saving money, but recycling the products that are already out there, limiting waste.

It’s encouraging to me that saving money and the environment goes hand in hand. Sorry to say, but I’m definitely one of those people who are more motivated by saving money than the environment, but if while saving money I am also doing my part to reduce waste then all the better. When I lived in Germany I was shocked to see that my host family took their own cloth bags to the grocery store when they would shop. It wasn’t until my first solo-shop that I realized the main motivation. When I got to the check-out stand I had of course forgotten the cloth bags and had to take the option of buying plastic bags for my items – at 25 cents a piece! I can tell you right now that afterwards I thought twice about ever leaving the house without a bag big enough to carry what I thought I might need to buy that day.

I know there are many communities, too, with waste management programs that charge you more for not separating your garbage. My grandpa, for example, chooses to pay the higher rate where he lives for the convenience of not having to separate his trash. Now, Alaska is not the most environmentally friendly state and I know of no such programs like this up here, but I do know that if it came down to having to spend more money for the convenience of not having to separate plastic from paper from aluminum, I would definitely let myself be inconvenienced.

When it comes to what we as individuals can do to make a difference, we have to consider where we are living. Each area of the country, and world for that matter, has something about it that makes it easier to make differences in certain ways. Like abstaining from using a clothes-dryer in warm, dry climates where garments can be hung to dry. Or shooting your own game animals, fishing for salmon or other fish, and gathering your own berries in areas where it’s possible to do so. Or buying locally grown produce year round in areas where the growing season never ends. Thinking of my own situation, there is much I can do that is reasonable for the area in which I live. Even something as simple as knowing what perishable goods we have on hand at all times so that we’re able to use them before they go bad can help us save money and limit waste.

Just some thoughts. I would be interested to hear what you guys do to save money and the environment simultaneously. I’ll have more on this later as our project of putting our lives into boxes continues…

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Do you suppose God made seasons because he knew we would welcome the change? Cold to not-so-cold to warmer to hot to cooler before it’s finally cold again? There’s a time for me in spring where I could swear that it is fall: that everything is dying instead of coming back to life. There seems to be such a fine line when this happens, between life and death. Almost as if one is the other. Our spring air here mimics that of the fall – I dare not leave the house without my jacket yet – and is filled with the smell of rain throughout the day.

We spent much of the evening on Mother’s Day helping Isaac build a bonfire out of the brush he’s been clearing on our property. While he moved the great big branches, we puddered around the yard, picking up trash that was left after the snow piles from winter finally finished melting, and inspected stumps and bugs and dirt. Sophia saw a spider and announced, “I love a spider!” and tried to pick it up before I advised against it. She took the advice, thank goodness, and squatted there staring at it for quite a while. The sweetness that accompanies afternoons outside with almost no agenda is something that always causes my heart to leap. To sit with my family by the fire and to talk, or not to talk. Doesn’t really matter because there’s always something to keep you occupied in times like this, even if that “something” means simply staring at the fire and thinking of ways to get it to burn even stronger.

Our very short spring will soon turn into summer before I again start to contemplate this ever changing cycle. Life to death to life again. And as we approach the anniversary of my brother’s accident, I can’t help but wonder if seasons are a way for God to explain life after our own deaths on this earth. Sometimes, most times, the idea of forever is too much for me to contemplate, let alone understand. But in the case of my brother it is like a fresh water spring that you happen upon after having run out of water on a long hike. It is relief from pain and discomfort, and hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. Not to say that a lump doesn’t form in my throat when I stumble upon emails that mention him – even if the mentioning was from my mom or dad just saying that, “John stopped over last night” – or that my heart doesn’t sink when I think of something from our childhood to remind him of and then realize I can’t simply pick up the phone and call. And the worst part about that is he’s the only other person besides me who would remember that part of our childhood! It’s not to say that I’ve stopped missing him because I haven’t. But it is to say that I don’t know where my heart would be if I didn’t believe that, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

I do believe that God’s grace and mercy are sufficient in every situation. He prepares us for the unimaginable in unimaginable ways. For me, the seasons explaining the idea of a new life in Christ has turned out to be one of them.

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There is snow once again, and Sophia is happy to venture out in it. Just last night, while I was planning to do so anyway, she asked if we could “Go side”. It is a pleasure to know that she is enjoying being outside again, after all of the horrible, cold, windy days of February and early March.

It was starting to look a little odd outside, too. What, with the ice and snow disappearing down to the dirt and gravel of the roads that surround our house – but with the bitterly cold wind persisting – I felt as if something was just out of place. The snow has brought our temperatures up to the 20s and 30s, and has provided a new base on which we can pull Sophia’s sled through the neighborhood – while she scoops up the snow and piles in on her lap, forming a mountain of powder to delight in.

With the turn of the weather, I can’t help but think about Sophia’s first weeks home after her birth. On those days where she seemed inconsolable, I could always trust that a jaunt out in the fresh air would calm her down. Whether it was the crunch-crunch-crunching of the snow beneath my boots as we ventured about, her in the front carrier, or the cool air on our breath, it always seemed to do the trick. It’s hard to imagine that my once tiny babe is now big enough to climb out of her sled when our walk is over.

I started reading a book yesterday that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas called Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss. I came across some words that made me think of my little girl:

Where does all the love come from?
If I had had her always I do not see how I could be more fond of her.
And do people call it living who never had any children?

Above all else, I am excited for the time when I will get to spend each day at home with her. Being away, though, gives me a chance to think about her and everything that makes her unique… On more than one occasion, especially lately, I’ve wondered if, when I’m with her all the time, I’ll still have those chances to think about her as much as I do when I’m away. I’ve wondered if I’ll have reasons to write about her as much as I do now. I can only hope that I will.

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