Thursday, December 9, 2010

Girls Growing Up


My girls and I were invited to a woman's 90th birthday luncheon today. I will admit that I was a bit nervous, especially when I realized that this gathering was going to be small. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm the first to brag on my children's amazing gifts. They are sweet and engaging, curious and generally polite. However, Emma (aged 5) also has a propensity to talk about death. Especially with anyone over about 40. "You're 59?" she'll ask sweetly. "Are you going to die soon?" After reminding them that people of the generation of the birthday lady (as well as that of our hostess) expect children in public to be polite and making Emma promise not to talk about death, we headed off to lunch. The small gathering ended up being the celebrant, our hostess, one other neighbour and ourselves. No one to hide behind.

I'm typing this blog post up today at the instigation of my mother, but I want to remember this day myself. My daughters were perfect little ladies this afternoon. Yes, Emma drank her tea with her spoon and I had to keep Katie from dipping into the sugar bowl with her fingers. But, remembering that they are 7 and 5, I am proud to bursting with how my little ones behaved. They were a delight to share this afternoon with. They remembered their "pleases" and "thank you's." They helped to set and clear the table, allowing the older women to sit and chat. They passed things and no one talked about the birthday lady dying!

Life has not been easy in this congregation for the past six months or so. Not everyone has felt the love that we have for these people. Nor have we always felt loved. But today, on a special occasion, by an invitation and the good behaviour of two young ladies, love was shared around a table. I was able to tell my daughters today that their behaviour didn't just make me happy, it had told three other people that they are loved, important, respected. I want to remember that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just Do It

I don't feel like blogging today. So, like I know to do: Just do it! Life is busy and a bit hard right now. Time to keep making good choices. There is still much to be thankful for.





407. Fall is coming.
408. A hard conversation
409. Teaching
410. A new puppy!
411. Continued bounty from the garden
412. A tough decision
413. Encouragement from a more experienced pastor and his wife
414. Spontaneous company
415. Clean floors because of said new puppy
416. The wedding of the first couple Rob and I counseled together
417. My parents-in-law's anniversary - Congatulations on 35 years!!
418. New ideas

holy experience

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Great Thanksgiving Desert



It's been far too long since I've sat down and given thanks. Oh, we still do it at mealtimes and at bedtimes, but not regulartimes. It's been far too long and my attitude is showing. This is a difficult season for our family, but I have never found that not giving thanks is helpful during tough patches. (Confusing sentence? Try living in my brain this week!)
School officially started for us this week and with the advent of our new schedule comes the return to the blog. I'm looking forward to the regular remembering of His many blessings. I hope you'll join me again.

Picking up where I left off:
398. School beginning
399. A fabulous garden harvest
400. No tomato/potato blight
401. Girls finishing their county fair projects
402. Girls winning blue ribbons for their fair projects
403. No dead chickens
404. A dog - Jack - joining our family
405. Fall coming
406. Forgiveness


holy experience

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Time to Go Out and a Time to Return

We have been home from our vacation (and Rob's study leave) for two days. I think I can find a couple of minutes to blog about the trip. I haven't been here for a while and I am hoping that this week will mark a return to our regular routine. We'll see; the conference we attended talked a lot about a "new normal" after a deployment and I think that I should be prepared for that myself.

We left home on Saturday the 26th and drove about six hours, through Washington's Crossing in New Jersey to Valley Forge, PA. We picnicked at that first stop which was quite lovely and we could have spent more time there. We moved on, crossing the Delaware where George Washington did on Christmas 1776. (The opposite direction of course.) At Valley Forge, we went to the visitor's center where the kids were "drafted" into the Continental Army - a 45-minute demonstration complete with costumes, arms, and drilling. All began as privates, though Katie through her great knowledge was promoted quickly to corporal and Rob (appropriately enough) made captain. Ian was dubbed "the General," as his main task seemed to be to shout at people from the rear, hit them with his musket, and do a lot of drinking. The nickname has sort of stuck. That night we stayed in a Motel 6, though there is a lot of camping to come! Oh yes, this is also the beginning of two weeks of the children not going to sleep until about eleven o'clock every night. Not my favourite part of travelling!

The next day we chose to sleep in for the aforementioned reason instead of going to church at Valley Forge as we had planned. It was worth it. We had a fairly long drive to get to the caverns at Natural Bridge, VA, just outside of Roanoke. Along the way we continued to read C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle which the kids just devoured! The cavern tour was just the right length and was only ten minutes from our campsite. There was a bit of drama as we discovered all of the things we'd forgotten (hooray for KOA stores!) and the kids worked out their squirreliness. Rob set up the tents while I cooked dinner (hot dogs), then we made smores and went swimming. That night I journalled and made a list of all the injuries to that point: Ian: 3 face bashes, light sunburn, dog bite; David: skinned hands, knees, scraped ankle; Emma: scraped back (fell off the picnic table); Me: good sunburn, bashed shin on car door; Rob: head bites (from Ian), ears scratched (also Ian), knee hurting. I stopped keeping track although in order to include the whole family, Katie was bitten by a yellow jacket a couple of days later.

The next morning we packed up and then played at the playground there at the campsite before we left, bringing full circle my childhood camping experiences. I remember my dad playing with us at a campground once. It was a good memory and it was fun to do with my kids. We arrived that evening at the Bonclarken retreat center in Flat Rock, NC, where we were to gather for the next three days with other Presbyterian military chaplains. It was a full time emotionally. While the kids participated in some kid activities, Rob and I attended sessions with two different speakers teaching on how God knows you and how to translate that into ministry to those who have experienced trauma. In this case, they were looking particularly at the military, but the wisdom is for anyone. They were looking particularly at the stories of Jacob wrestling with God, Psalm 139, and the resurrection. I found that it was bringing up all sorts of emotions that I thought I’d either dealt with or had let go. It was wonderful to be in a place with so many people who understand what we’re dealing with in our circumstances. I cried a lot that first day and have since enjoyed journaling and working things more deeply.

We left there on the 1st of July and had some errands to run before we met with a dear friend in Georgia whom I haven’t seen since her wedding seven years ago! The nook we bought to feed Katie’s reading habit stopped working right before we left and we had to find a Barnes and Noble to replace it. We also needed to pick up some more groceries for our camping times. One of many blessings: there was a Whole Foods right across from B&N in Greenville, SC. I haven’t been to Whole Foods in a year and a half at least! Such a treat! Our stops made us late for our lunch date (sorry, Nicole), but we had a lovely visit with my friend and her daughter. A nasty accident on the freeway again changed our plans. We pulled off the road to get dinner and to plan. We ended up at another KOA campground with a huge trampoline pillow. The kids were thrilled. By the way, they were great travelers most of the trip, flowing with the changes and accepting that this was an adventure, even if it was not the one we’d planned.

The next morning we had longer to go than we wanted and Katie threw up in the car (did I mention it’s starting to get really warm down south?). We visited the Jamestown Settlement from about three until six and what a treat that was! It’s a great learning place and the kids loved it. Then we set up camp, again Rob setting up the tents while I burned dinner.  I had a sweet time with my girls that night as we did the dishes and then showered. We sang and helped and shared together. They are angels!

Colonial Williamsburg was only about 15 minutes from us and July 3rd was our day set aside for that. The kids dressed up as colonial kids and were given tasks to do in the town (mailing letters, planting seeds, joining the local militia, etc.). This, too, was a fun day, though for any of you planning to go to the area, if you can only do one, do Jamestown. Much less expensive and more hands on! We’ve got lots of pictures of these days which I’m hoping to put on Facebook soon. Check back often.

Our great nation turned two hundred thirty-four years old the next day. Quite amazing really, when I considered that two days earlier I spent the afternoon at a settlement that is celebrating four hundred three years. Even Colonial Williamsburg is older than the country. It seemed strange to me. We were staying a Fort Belvoir, and Army base near Mount Vernon and greatly enjoyed spending the 4th of July celebrations with other military members there on base. The fireworks were wonderful and it was especially enjoyable to watch Ian learn to like them. A very late night, but important as we continued to teach our children about the founding and sustaining of this nation.

We spent the next day in Washington D.C. The heat wave that hit the east and other parts of the country was pretty intense. It was right around 100 degrees. We took the Metro in (note to self: the kids liked this enough that maybe next time we can skip everything else…hmmm) and visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Then we rode an open-topped bus that was touring the city since we knew we wouldn’t be able to get to even a quarter of what there is to see there. That was dreadfully warm, but worth it. We had dinner at a restaurant called the Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria then fell completely off the wagon and had ice cream at an ice cream parlour nearby.
The next day it was a little bit difficult to get out of bed. We were starting to be ready to go home. It was over 100 degrees that day as we walked around the city and we were pretty drained. We took a tour of the capitol building first thing. It really is an amazing system of government we have. Quite the “great experiment” and I’m not entirely certain it will work. It’s certainly not a sure thing. It requires much diligence on the part of the people – a diligence I think we have lost a good deal of. I pray we’ll recover it. Next we visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The early civilizations and the mineral and gemstone exhibits were favourites, especially since the early civilizations were what Katie studied in school this year and she’s getting ready for geology in the fall. I discovered about myself that I love beryl, particularly aquamarine. There is something “otherworldly” about it. Also on display there was the Hope Diamond which was cool to see because of its fame, though it wasn’t the most beautiful specimen there, I thought. While walking to the Metro we partook of the Hickinbotham family tradition of Missile Popsicles in D.C. Then we headed to some friends house for dinner and some time in their swimming pool. Very refreshing! (Thanks, Hyders!) Also, the kids picture was taken by a news photographer for a story about the heat wave. A full and fun day!
July 7th, we were supposed to visit the Gettysburg battlefield but the heat was just too much. And we were tired. So we slept in and decided to drive up that day but do the park the next. That meant skipping the tour of Philadelphia but we were a little museum fatigued anyway. The tour of the park the next day was very moving for me. My family used to go to Gettysburg two or three times a year for several years when we lived in the area. I don’t remember being so moved before. It’s a peaceful place, but very sad. We camped that night at French Creek State Park where I saw more bugs (quantity and types) than anywhere else in my life.
We met up with my brother and his family the next day at Longwood Gardens (just outside of Philadelphia) and spent the morning in that beautiful place. The kids’ fountain garden was particularly delightful! Imagine a place where the kids can play in all the fountains without being told not to touch! The garden even has towels on hand in case Mom and Dad didn’t know about the water! We spent the rest of the afternoon, after being drenched on our way to the car, at a local park. We played soccer, used the playground, and adventured in the creek until dinnertime. It was a really special time with my brother.
My journal entry from the 10th of July says: “Home at last! Home at last! Thank God Almighty we’re home at last!” Yes, it was a day earlier than we’d planned; we were mainly just ready to be home. Another contributing factor was that at about 5:30 that morning it began to pour. We enjoyed the noise and the coolness for about an hour until we realized that our tent’s seams were leaking and we were lying in puddles. It was hilarious as we got the campsite packed up in a break in the downpour. (God was so good!) By the time we finished though, Rob and I were soaked through, as were our tents. The thought of unpacking and sleeping in wet gear was unappealing, so we spent the afternoon with our friends in Southern New York and then we drove home. A beautiful rainbow guided us home and we even managed to get all of our wet gear hung up after the kids went to bed.
I had forgotten how much work it takes to come home from vacation, but it is good to be back in familiar surroundings, weeding the garden, caring for our animals, going to swimming lessons. God blessed us and carried us through this whole trip and we are very grateful. I pray your summers are going well and you are seeing God’s hand in all of your days.
holy experience

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two Weddings (sort of) and a Funeral...and a Birthday

"So, honey, I have a great idea for our anniversary!"
"Yes, what is it?"
"You want to go to a funeral with me?!"

It was a bizarre way to spend our ninth anniversary, but in one way it was also very beautiful. Wednesday we attended the funeral of a neighbour and a dear member of our community. Also in attendance was his wife of 52 years. We saw, that day, the end of a relationship. The next day we sat with a couple Pastor-husband and I are counseling as they seek to get married. Their story is just beginning. How amazing to watch God work through our whole human timeline.

And just as we celebrated the end of a life this week, so also we celebrate the coming into life of our little Grace girl. Emma turns 5 today and we are so blessed to have had her in our family for these years. Much to give thanks for.

384. Emma Grace Rose
385. Richard "Dick" Waite
386. Missing snakes
387. A new chicken run
388. Sprouts!
389. Church gathering for fellowship
390. Taking time to talk with a sister in the Lord
391. Answered prayers for said talk
392. Time with my highschool group to talk about God's plan for their bodies and relationships
393. Trip with the whole family to Ft. Ticonderoga
394. Mini-golf
395. New shoes for the kids
396. More thunderstorms
397. Freshly picked tomatoes

That's all for now!

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Weathering the Storm

On Wednesday, Lord willing, Rob and I will have been married for nine years. That may seem unbelievably long for some; it's unbelievably short for us. We have been blessed with many things and frustrated by a number, too. In retrospect (all we have, really), none of our storms have been huge though at the time some seemed insurmountable. I was reminded of this earlier this week when we had a huge thunderstorm come through. It went on for hours and even after I couldn't hear the thunder anymore the lightning continued to flash. It was beautiful if a little frightening. Our marriage is something like that. Huge storms come through, frightening and beautiful in the growth they bring. Sometimes the flashes of those storms remain for years. By God's grace we have weathered our storms and by his grace we'll weather more. This week I'm grateful to God for many things. I'm also grateful to my husband for the many years of love and faithful service to me. What a treasure you are! (And yes, everyone, I'll tell him in person, too! I just want him to know that I want everyone to know!)

Thank you Lord, for:
371. Thunderstorms
372. The morning after a thunderstorm
373. Children's clipped fingernails
374. Children sitting still for said clipping
375. Pancakes
376. Family portraits
377. Village-wide yard sale
378. Great finds!
379. A neighbour going home to be with the Lord
380. Being able to apologize. Again.
381. Volleyball with church friends
382. Marriage
383. My husband

holy experience

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Washing Up


Dirty hands. Dirty feet. Dirty chicken feeder. Dirty floors. Dirty laundry.

Dirty soul.

Washed hands. Washed feet. Washed feeder. Washed floors. Washed laundry.
I spend all day cleaning.

Dirty soul.

Holy Spirit-Cleanser washes

Clean.



holy experience

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quick Thanksgiving

Headed for bed, but not before giving thanks for the many blessings of this week:
355. It's the last week of softball.
356. Parents visiting
357. 6 still-alive chickens, now living outside
358. Pentecost
359. The Holy Spirit
360. Sewing time
361. Renewed prayer
362. Spiders, even big ones
363. Last weeks of school
364. Not being unmarried (I'm so over highschool.)
365. Independent bookstores
366. Conscience pricks
367. Coaching
368. New playset for the kids
369. Playing with those same kids!!
370. No new cavities at the dentist!

There is much to be grateful for. =)

holy experience


Monday, May 17, 2010



"In everything give thanks
In every situation
Lift your voice and sing
And praise Him from your heart"
~ Psalty Song

Life here in the garden has not been all roses. People are hard, or rather, relationships are hard. We've been separated for quite some time for travel reasons, then returned to extended family visiting (which we love!), and finally we've been struggling through some tough issues in our church home. All of these require relational work. Much growth is happening through that work, but it sometimes seems harder to give thanks in this time. To that end, I'm up early this morning to just do it!

341. Ladies improving in softball
342. Dance parties
343. Church unity
344. Family visits
345. Flying kites
346. Highschoolers coming to play with the kids - just because
347. The local creamery
348. Ralph and Larry stories
349. Sleep
350. A new fabric store
351. The circus
352. Garden beds full of dirt
353. Frogs
354. A brother willing to help


holy experience


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Putting it All Together


I was encouraged by Ann Voskamp's blog this morning (as I am most mornings), particularly because it spoke to what I've been meditating on for the past couple of weeks. I left my dear family for ten days to visit with a friend who is expecting her first child soon and to attend a cousin's wedding. (I'll blog more about my gratitude for this time on Monday.) I was excited to use this as an opportunity to take some time from my church and community here, to see how others are "doing church," and to dialogue with some of the people I most respect in the faith. All of this happened, but I discovered that it was almost too much. I have so much to process and try and put into practice that I'm not entirely sure where to start!

The theme that came up over and over again was how we as the church are successfully - or not - sharing the message of the Gospel with the world. Many of you know of my ongoing love/hate relationship with the current manifestation of the Church in the world. I was privileged to attend three different congregations while away from home. One was led by my friend's husband, the second is an emergent church on the beach in California, and the third was a college-age gathering led by my youngest brother. (How cool was that, to be preached to by my baby brother and have God speak through him!!) All very different services, but the key that tied them all together was passion. At least one person (sometimes just the pastor, sometimes not) had a passion for sharing the Gospel. I miss that. In my own life sometimes and more often in the life of the current congregation we serve.

In case there are those from my church who are reading this, let me be clear. I love the people of this congregation. You are a hard-working, conscientious, generous group. But I will also be honest: you lack zeal for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to growing with this congregation in passion for the message that God Himself came to deliver and die for. I want to see those in our community drawn to its power; I want to be known only as the light-bearers in this place.

How that will come to pass, I don't know. Through prayer. Possibly with study. But I know that I want God to change the hearts of the people in his Church to have a burden for those who don't know the power of the new life that salvation gives. Even if that is for themselves. Those of you who are so inclined, please be praying for us. For me. For this Bride of Christ who is so distracted from her Groom. Would you pray also for vision to put together what I gathered on my time away and wisdom to know how to encourage those around me.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
holy experience


Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Time Away

I'm in denial. Again, I might add. Or perhaps I should say, as usual. My sweet husband is giving me a precious gift: some time away. I leave on Friday for a ten-day trip to see my dear friend in Chicago and then to attend the wedding of a cousin who stood up in my wedding. I desperately wanted this time away, but as I draw near my departure date, I'm conflicted. People keep asking if I'm packed/ready/excited. The answer is no. The truth is, now that it comes to it, I don't really want to go. Oh, I want to see my friends and my family. I'm so grateful that I get to see this cousin's wedding. But I don't want to leave my family. It's a reminder that I'm not meant to. Occasional short trips aside, God has called me to be a homemaker, a wife, a mother. It's tough to leave what you've been called to do. And blessed to do! So, would you all please pray for me this week as I get ready to leave behind my vocation (for a some needed R&R) to return renewed and refreshed? Pray for my sweet husband who will be a full-time stay-at-home mom while I'm gone. I'll try and blog on Wednesday before I go, but I probably won't get to this page while I'm gone.

In the meantime I'm grateful for:
329. Not wanting to leave on this trip
330. Emma's selflessness
331. Cool nights
332. A whole day to clean the house
333. A new school term
334. New recipes (Simply in Season)
335. A clean kitchen to cook in
336. A grace-based perspective on parenting
337. Snuggles with Ian and Emma
338. Dinner with the Moskowitz family
339. Not-yet-believers at church on Sunday!
340. Getting started on school this morning
holy experience

Monday, April 5, 2010

One of Those Days




We're spring cleaning this week. So the blogging will be short. Again, more for me than anyone else. I still need to keep track of what I'm thankful for!

320. Easter and the great work done on that day!
321. Nature hike
322. Katie picking up trash on said hike

323. Dinner with friends
324. Quilt squares

325. Excitement around ordering next year's homeschooling supplies
326. Frogs peeping
327. Sunny days


328. Planting flowers with Rob and the kids

Thank you, Lord.
holy experience

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Screwy Weekend


This was a full and crazy week! Much to be thankful for, but little time to write it down! A full week of softball practice, school, and gymnastics led into a weekend devoted to the 30-Hour Famine. Our highschoolers at church were participating in this fundraising event where we fasted for 30-Hours and stayed (mostly) together to do activities that would remind us of those around the world that suffer from hunger all the time. It was a humbling experience for me to realize just how blessed I am and how little I'm aware of the regular gift of food on my table. It was a special challenge this year as our children were not fasting and I was responsible to give them food five times that day! So hard to see all that they left on their plates when I was so hungry!

The real adventure came at about three in the afternoon on Saturday. I was downstairs working while the kids played quietly upstairs during "naptime." All of sudden I hear Katie scream, "I'll get Mom!" David is crying/screaming as is Emma; I assume someone has fallen. As I race upstairs, Emma's words become clearer: "He's gonna die! He's gonna die!" Katie quickly tells me that David has swallowed - is swallowing would be more accurate - a screw. The screaming is escalating (we've all woken up Ian by now) as I try and get David to throw up said screw. It's obviously still high up in his throat and I figure better out than in. No luck with that and he finally swallows it. I as how big or small the screw is and there are differing opinions. David squishes his fingers together to show its miniscule size. Katie's pretty certain it's at least an inch long and pointed on the end. I actually managed to keep pretty cool. David said it wasn't hurting anymore so I let Rob know what was going on and accepted an offer from one of my highschool girls to come with me to the urgent care clinic. Now, on Monday, we know that it appears to be a bolt (flat-ended) between 1/2 and 3/4 of inch in length. We don't know where it came from or why David decided it would be tasty. We do know that God is gracious and watches out for my children - indeed, all of us - and David should be less screwy in a couple of days. =)

And so, I'm giving thanks for:
311. David's health
312. X-rays
313. Softball
314. Rob caring for our kids
315. Feeling good about my body
316. Hunger
317. Food
318. Sap from our maple tree
319. Microsoft Excel (It does everything, maybe even dishes!)



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