March 30, 2012

save a life, or two

Today I want to send you to the blog of my friend and neighbor to help save the life of a small child, or two.

If you want a little background, I've written about this friend before: an intro to their adoption story, and a promo for a past fundraiser to help others eager to adopt children in desperate straits.  Otherwise, just jump straight into her passionate plea to help rescue some horribly malnourished orphans with special needs who miraculously are already spoken for by families and matching funds are available if only enough is raised.

Or, go right to the fundraiser, called Mulligan's Stew, and make a donation to bring these children home. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how to give).

Time is running out.



March 28, 2012

minutes

It's 8:42 p.m.  In about fifteen minutes, I'll head upstairs to get ready for bed, and by 9:30 (in my ideal world), my head will hit the pillow and I'll drift off to a mother's only vacation:  sleep.

Tomorrow morning I'll get up with my Farmer, approximately half an hour after his alarm rings at 5:20 a.m.  (This is a ten-years' compromise between jump-out-of-bed-at-the-first-ring me and hit-the-snooze-button-a-dozen-times him.)  I'll shower and head downstairs to make coffee, have my first quiet time of the day, and then eat breakfast . . . and another day is off and running.

There's so much the same, day after day.  So little to remark on when someone asks me, "what's new?"  And yet, as a friend reminded me today, it's what we have.  This is the life we've been given, the life we'll look back on one day, in wonder that it was so quickly over.

                    Will I have really lived?

I spend so much time in the past - berating myself for mistakes, shortcomings, regrets - and yet again so much time in the future - planning, worrying, imagining, dreaming.  What about the present?

I wrote out my one thousand gifts.  I do see the present, when I'm thanking.  It's ingratitude that shifts my focus back, or on ahead.

I will make my minutes count:  I will see.  Lil' Snip's twinkling eyes as he learns to make a joke; Nice's beatific smile as she hugs me for no reason; Spice's confident smile, offering to watch Lil' Snip - "he'll be happy after a bit"; even Sugar, crying her disappointment, then laughing over video footage of her beloved little brother.

I will see:  my Farmer, giving up his night out so that I could go (and then both of us happily staying home together); Sugar's knowing eyes as she assures me that I do deny myself for them, and gives examples; Spice's joy to have a doing project instead of a writing one.

I will see:  Nice shyly showing us the motions to a song she learned; Spice delighting in the delicacy of Bible pages; Lil' Snip putting on his sisters' tiara and saying "hansum boy!" to our laughter.

When the end comes, I will have lived.  And, with God's help, my eyes will be open to see all the minutes.



 With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart

March 20, 2012

a season for slowing down?

Sometimes, it's helpful to know what's coming around again.

I know in advance that Christmas drives me crazy with unrealized ideals, so I can plan for that (well, I could plan for that, in an ideal world - heheh, irony intended) by doing my shopping early, scheduling times of quiet meditation, planning meaningful family traditions, etc.

Spring allergies have often kept me indoors and miserable, so I can plan ahead to take medicine or herbal remedies (or whatever I think might work that year).

When a birthday is approaching, I can take steps to be prepared with a cake, presents, a special meal.

Thanks to this blog, now I am beginning to catch on to another pattern.  I evidently suffer from Early Spring Slump.  Not an official diagnosis as far as I know, but pretty real in my experience.

For the last couple of months I have been fighting against discouragement, despair, tearful mornings, fatigue, hopelessness, self-criticism, discouragement, despair, tearful mornings, fatigue, hopelessness, self-criticism, discouragement ... repeat ad nauseum.

But because I blogged about it last year, when I began to sink into it this year, it felt just familiar enough for me to think, "hmmmmmm...." before collapsing on the sofa for a nap, yet another unfinished project silently accusing me from the corner.

As you may have guessed from reading this blog, life for me doesn't always sink in until I've written about it, which I guess means that vast quantities of my life's hours are lost in Never-Never Land, since who has time to write it all out? not me; I've got naps to take.  So despite having this Early Spring Slump for years, I usually chalked it up to various other random causes including allergies, postpartum blues, and major life changes.  It took blogging about it to wake me up.

Realizing that it's a cycle doesn't exactly make it enjoyable, but when I read last year's post about it, it did give me hope that it will end (which I kind of suspected, anyway, since I remember a respectable amount of productivity happening between then and now...namely the unfinished projects actually having gotten started).

All the helpful advice in the world (and believe me, I have gotten some) hasn't gotten me jumping for joy between January and March.  I just plow through.

Kind of like I'm doing with this blog post, actually.  I don't see a tidy end to it, but I assume that, like this early spring slump, it will somehow end.  Last year my slump evidently ended around (or before?) my post on March 22.

I've got two days.


March 14, 2012

"deactivated"

Well, I did it:  I deactivated my facebook account.

And then I snuck back in on my Farmer's account to see if it worked.  It did.  I am really gone.  As in, even comments that I made yesterday on other people's statuses are just vanished into thin air.  As if I never really did exist.

I feel like a "disappeared" character from George Orwell's 1984 (which I keep saying I want to re-read; now that I'm deactivated maybe I'll have the time to do it).  I kind of expect to hear that someone's read my obituary in a very small newspaper somewhere.

Already I miss the interaction.  Pathetic, I know.  I thought, in the meantime, that I'd keep a record of things that I'm doing during time I might otherwise have spent on facebook, sort of by way of rationalizing my absence (or keeping myself from going back ASAP).

Today, so far, I have weeded flowerbeds, cleared the driveway of sticks with my children, with my son watched a tractor aerate the field, taken a nap, and rearranged my blog layout (moved "what's for supper" down a smidge and got rid of the "one thousand gifts" ongoing list at the bottom since I got to # 999 and quit recording).  And it's not even 3pm yet.....

See, it's good.  I can do this ....


..... right?




March 13, 2012

uneasy alliance

(or, "an unintended ode to facebook")


Technology and me, we go way back.

I remember my first radio:  a wooden and mustard-yellow plastic Fisher-Price.  You turned a ridged plastic  knob, and music poured forth, accompanied by a picture reel featuring Jack and Jill fetching their pail and, lo! tumbling down a hill.  My favorite part?  The little window in the back where you could see the works turning, precisely-placed metal bumps brushing lyrically against tiny metal fingers.

So why did I pledge today to close out my facebook account?


I like the banter that is possible on facebook, the quick, quirky, back-and-forth between friends (or, say, little sisters).  I like the opportunity to tell the "world" in condensed form what my day is looking like just then, ask for supper ideas, or exclaim about the sunset.  Somehow it helps, if the baby is fussy, to post it on facebook.  Not just for the sympathy, although that's very nice, but just to tell someone about it.

I like the encouragement that people offer - sometimes not who you'd expect!  I like reading about other people's triumphs and struggles..... and voila!

It hits me, just now, exactly why I like facebook so much.

"We read,"  C.S. Lewis is credited as saying, "to know we're not alone."  Facebook accomplishes that in a way that (*gasp* I can't believe I'm about to say this) no book ever quite can. You can read Tolstoy's War and Peace and be thrilled at his apt descriptions of people and relationships:  yes, we're like that!  I am like that!!

But guess what?  Tolstoy, for all his sympathetic understanding of humanity, has been dead for over 100 years.  If he was the only one who really gets it, it's too late in this life to have a heart to heart with him about things.

So you find a contemporary author - take your pick; I like Brennan Manning, or for fiction, Alexander McCall Smith - but what are the chances that their understanding connects you with them in any tangible way?  Slim.

But on facebook, you read, you write, and you see not only that you are not alone, but that other people that you actually know are experiencing some of the same discipline problems with their children, the same joys over jobs finally finished, the same occasional exhilerating days, the same glorying in truth and beauty.

We're us.

And on facebook, away from the hairstyle and wardrobe worries (will I ever look cool enough?), away from the potentially awkward social settings (will I always stick my foot in my mouth?!), just you and me and all our friends out amongst the words, we can see that we're mostly the same.  Just people, who cry and laugh and rage and sleep and worry and love.

But.  This wasn't supposed to be an ode to facebook.  I am still planning to delete my account tomorrow morning (although now I hope I'll be able to open it again someday).

Facebook, for all its delightful qualities, has a dark side.

When I'm on facebook, I'm not on the phone with a friend.  I'm not reading to my children.  I'm not sitting in the hammock (okay, I know I could be, with a laptop....).  When I'm on facebook, I'm not napping.  I'm not catching up with my husband's day.  I'm not reading a good book.  I'm not planning school projects.  I'm not sewing or throwing pots.  I'm not working in my flowerbeds.

In short, when I'm on facebook, I'm not really in my life.

Sooo .... once again, I am taking a break.  And since I am so undisciplined that I have been known to "just check" facebook while I am taking a break from it, I am actually going to delete my account.  And since I just listed all the things that I love about facebook, I am hoping that I will be able to reopen it someday, rather sooner than later.


It's an uneasy alliance we have, me and technology.


photo credit for both to bonanza.com


March 6, 2012

the last gift

Seven months ago, I started a list

Twenty-six pages of my composition book later, I am loathe to end it.  I have listed, in the last 200-some days, nine hundred and ninety-nine gifts:  noticings, lifted up from the ordinary into glowing shafts of gratitude, till their origins are obvious:  they are good and perfect gifts, showered down on me from the Father of lights, gift after gift after gift.


Seeing each gift required a stopping.  A stillness.  A savoring so difficult to come to
in life's swirling current.  Each gift was an island of quiet.  








They didn't come gift-wrapped.  No bows to alert my attention.
Some days I wrote nothing down; I never stopped to see.



Other days, craving more proofs of His love, I'd stop a long while
and write out a dozen or more.  I averaged four or five a day.  











How many did I miss, intent on other things?



: : :

My gratitude goes on, whether the list does, or not.
Maybe I'll just stop at #999, to leave room, always, for one more.



March 4, 2012

save the storks

Just a quick note to spread the word:  a new movement/business is arising in Dallas (home of Roe v. Wade) to save the lives of unborn children.

It's called Save the Storks and its method is simple - outfit a Sprinter van with sonagram machine, a licensed operator, a counselor, a tidy and attractive interior, and park outside an abortion clinic.  Approach a potential clinic customer with a smile and an offer for a free sonogram.  Provide the service with love, and connect her with Get Involved For Life in order to meet of her pregnancy or quality-of-life needs.  They're prepared to call a cab for her if she needs a ride to the nearest pregnancy center.



Save the Storks is raising money to outfit these vans and then GIVE them to pregnancy centers.  They need our money, yes, but after that, they are going to need our baby clothes, our time, our prayers, our myriad talents, our spare rooms, whatever it takes to care for the moms and babies who need us.


Save the Storks Dallas Bus Story from SavetheStorks on Vimeo.


For more information, check out this article on Save the Storks, or visit their website, www.savethestorks.com.  Give what you can, and spread the word!


The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but are her feathers and plumage like the stork's?  She abandons her eggs on the ground and lets them be warmed in the sand.  She treats her young harshly, as if they were not her own, with no fear that her labor may have been in vain.  For God has deprived her of wisdom; He has not endowed her with understanding.   ~Job 39:13-17



March 1, 2012

foggy day

I drove to moms' group this morning through fog.  I love fog.  It's exciting to me:  feels like adventure around the corner, mysteries about to be unveiled, impossibilities becoming possible (all good, of course).  "Grownup" that I am, I almost expect to find fairyland come to life when I'm in the fog.

I know some people hate fog; they preach its danger for drivers and dub it fearful.  I do slow down, use low beams, everything my father taught me.  But I still like fog.

I remember one of those so-called psychological tests popular in high school (and beyond, for some of us) where you ask questions and take note of answers and then reveal the key to the test-taker's inner truth in the symbolism of the questions.  This one asked what you feel in the fog.

I said "anticipation".

In the answers, fog symbolized the afterlife.

If that "test" is as bogus as all good pseudo-psychology is, then I probably like the fog because one of my favorite childhood books was about a city that only existed in the fog.

But if there's any truth to the symbolism, my answer would still be the same.  When I think of life after death, I feel delighted anticipation.  As much as I enjoy life and find it unthinkably awful to leave my family brokenhearted behind me, I confess that I am eager to run into the arms of my Savior (Luke 15:20), to have him present me "without fault and with great joy" to the Father (Jude 24), to have finished, finally, the race set before me and to receive that which was unattainable to me here on earth:  a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

To know fully my Maker, as I am fully known (I Corinthians 13:12), to worship unfettered by fears and distractions, to receive a new name (Isaiah 62:2-5; Revelation 2:17), to be done with weariness, to have every tear wiped away, to no longer know pain or crying (Revelation 21:4), to drink from the crystal river and to live in the Light of the Lamb ... surely this is worthy of anticipation.

So I'll drive carefully in the fog.  But I'll always be looking around the corner, too, for Life Eternal.




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