Sunday, June 26, 2011


For my birthday present, S. wrapped up my existing computer. When I "opened" the wrapping paper around my screen I discovered that he created a new blog on word press for me. I now get to look professional so I better get my act together! The site is:

We are still working to move everyone listed as followers over and getting the details figured out but feel free to hop over there- I'll post at that site from now on.
Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hudson at Five

Last month I was making dinner and Hudson was drawing at the table. Completely out of the blue he looked up and said, "Mom, I want to ask Jesus in my heart."
Surprised and wondering what brought this on, I asked, "Why, Hudson?"
With a sudden burst of intensity he answered, "I just love Him SO MUCH!"
I clarified, "So you want Him to forgive your sins and you want Him to be your best friend? You know that means you serve Him instead of just doing things you want to do? You want to honor Him and obey Him first?
Yes, Yes, Yes.
We prayed.

We had been having some problems with Hudson telling the truth whenever he felt backed into a corner. That next week I came into the garage and S. told me about a neighbor boy who dumped out fertilizer and made a mess on the side of the house. One look at Hudson's face told me the neighbor was not the only boy at fault.
"Hudson, tell me about what you did on the side of the house."
He looked at me, wheels spinning, and I knew what he was considering.
I interrupted his thoughts urgently: "Hudson! Right now there is a battle in your thoughts. Part of you really wants to lie so you don't get in trouble. Remember you asked Jesus in your heart. He can give you strength to tell the truth right now. Stop and ask Him to help you. I'm going to go in the house and pray. You stay here and tell Dad the truth."

I walked out. After concentrating a long time in silence, he told the truth and dove into S.'s arms.
That night when tucking him in I said, "Hudson, I can see Jesus in your life. I am so excited that He helped you tell the truth and I am so excited that you listened."
Very seriously he said, "Mom, it was really, really hard." Then he grinned relief and hugged me tight.

Hudson at five wants to know how everything works. I hope this never changes about him. He recently asked, "Are cars battery powered? How does the car use the gas? Why does a car need an engine and a battery?"
Then we pulled into a gas station and as I got out he began crying. Hard. "Mom! I never got to see how you pump the gas! I don't know how it gets in the car."
Soon the three older kids were all unbuckled and standing next to me watching the magic of the gas pump: "Here's where my card goes in. I unscrew this cap...never, ever, ever unscrew this cap until you are sixteen..."
Satisfied, they all piled back in and I waved an apology to the car behind me waiting for my demonstration to be over.

One aspect of Hudson that has been remarkable this year is his role as a brother. He is a peacemaker. In fact, we have had to intervene from the other kids taking advantage of his generosity. There is, however, a line that can be crossed. When someone has pushed too far we see gritted teeth, balled fists, and a reddening face. We're all smart to back off and let him cool.

He has surprised me in his relationship with Little Girly.
Darla was the one to talk, plan, and make room for a baby sister. Hudson has been the one to stick with it. This morning as I got ready, Hudson played cars next to Little Girly. She scoots and inevitably can't reach her toys. He would play, and patiently give a toy back to her. He'd play more, then make his way over to give her a pacifier. On and on it went. When he walks in a room she lights up and kicks her legs. He sings her all of her favorite songs, takes her dirty diapers out, and kisses her until she can't take it anymore.

My "little" boy has already lost six teeth.
Many have been knocked out and appropriately, Hudson is passionate about hockey. He has been practicing on roller blades to keep up with our Canadian neighbors who play hockey in front of the house. He is by far the youngest but with how hard working he is, I don't doubt he'll learn to keep up.
Hudson took swimming lessons this year and swallowed half the pool- I mean... learned how to float a little.
He loves legos, riding his bike, working in the garage (with real tools), and using the weed eater or hedge trimmer by himself (with a cautious dad "spotting" from behind). He even likes playing polly pockets with his long as his doll can climb up "dinosaur mountain" to conquer all the meat eaters (yes, this was a real scene from this week's playtime).
In the fall Hudson will start kindergarten. I'm planning on homeschooling him for this year and am looking forward to the ways it will grow him and expand our relationship.
My prayer for him this year is that his heart will not only be sensitive to the Lord but that he will begin to know God's voice. I pray that as he begins school he would develop confidence and love for learning. I ask for protection over his sensitive heart.

As S. has begun working out at home recently, Hudson has been putting on his own workout shorts and shoes. We saw him out in the backyard doing push ups and he regularly takes out workout equipment to "do my exercise". He attempts to do yoga poses in the living room and when he caught me giggling at his concentration during chair dips, he sternly looked over and said, "I'm getting strong and healthy."
Ahh...he is. And I am very much looking forward to what being five entails for my strong and healthy boy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

She thinks his tiller's sexy

At first I thought I found my husband attractive because he was handling a machine and smelling like man...
Then I realized even more than that it was because he was doing it all for the health of our family (can't wait to plant extra carrots, beans, and squash to puree for Little Girly), and for his wife who despite selling the house- really, really still wanted a garden. Not only that but I didn't even ask or beg, he voluntarily spent his Saturday afternoon doing this. And that my friends- is a turn on.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Decade of Dutch

S. and I just realized that we passed the 10 yr. mark living in our little Northwest corner of the country this month. What began as a summer of work turned into a decade and- behold! I believe that foreign feeling might be roots! Alas...they might be attaching to the ground!

When my dad threw out the idea of moving to Lynden I was getting ready for my senior year of high school. "Just for fun" we came up to visit the small Dutch farming community. I found it quaint, endearing, and beautiful but knew enough to not take my dad seriously the first time around.
The seriousness grew quickly, however. That summer, as I drove my '89 Ford Tempo north following a line of U-Hauls and vehicles, I was almost laughing. Are we really doing this? I unpacked my room and enrolled in a new school mere days before my senior year began.

Being Dutch myself, I had never spent time with people other than my family who shared our heritage. It was a strange adjustment. We weren't the blondest, tallest, cleanest, or the most frugal anymore! I liked Lynden but had no plans to stay as college was coming quickly.

After three years of college and a year of marriage nowhere felt settled but I was accustomed to that because we moved often as I grew up. I was hoping S. might take a job in Southern CA, we were looking at grad schools on the east coast. But... we ran out of money. I evaluated our checkbook and told S., "we can pay one more month of rent or we can pay for a U-Haul. If you don't have a job by Wednesday then I say we call U-Haul."
We did.
My parents assured us that they could park a trailer in their driveway and connect us with some summer work in town. S. bar tended at the town's resort and I worked in the raspberries. By the end of the summer I began considering finishing school online so we could stay. We found a tiny house on Main Street with a window seat and a whopping 840 square feet. That's all it took for us. We made an offer and began to unpack some boxes.
By fall we visited a new church in town and on our first visit the worship director approached us. "I'm so glad you guys are here. You want to help us start a youth ministry?"
S. wasn't so sure. I was very sure. We said yes...

and one summer turned into another... and another... and another.

I went to our town's Farmer Day Parade Saturday and was reminded of the many reasons I love this town. I love that every year we see the Parade with the tractors, berry pickers, and children dressed in traditional Dutch clothes.
I love that in every hard season of the past decade I have experienced huge support from other families in town- financially, emotionally, prayerfully. I love living in a place that has a rich heritage of trusting the Lord. I love the smell of raspberries, the excitement of harvest, the big deal we made about the two lane road growing to four lanes.
I love that the lady from craigslist called for directions and actually guessed what neighborhood we live in because the pictures of our van showed familiar trees in the background. I love that the high schoolers who roll their eyes that there's nothing to do in this town, move away and then come home realizing that having a community of people to BBQ and play soft pitch with might be a little more lasting (and less expensive) than clubbing or going to events in a bigger city.
When I was at my sister's house on Thursday I realized my boys were on a tractor with a strange man. When I went out to retrieve them I realized it was that older gentleman that calls me "Tadema" (my maiden name) with a Dutch accent because he knew my grandfather 40 years ago. Love that.

We may get uprooted again someday. We are open to where the Lord leads. But on a recent drive with Mt. Baker in view
I told S., "I know I'll be fine with what the future holds and wherever we go. But if the Lord sees fit to keep us planted here... that is just fine with me."

Saturday, June 4, 2011


It came as no surprise after reading Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages over a decade ago that I am "words of affirmation". The premise of the book is that there are primarily five ways that we feel and express love: physical touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Like everyone, I need all five of these things but words resonate with me. In high school I kept a shoebox filled with notes of encouragement and affirmation. My poor mother and sister are not "words of affirmation" so I watch them put forth much effort (initially like fish out of water) to "speak my language". My poor husband often will tell me he appreciates me and I answer with "why?" hoping to hear a little more. I know...pathetic.

It makes sense then that as I'm raising a family, we talk much about our words. If one of my kids says something thoughtless or hurtful, they get an opportunity to make it right. They sit down with the person they hurt and share two things they love and appreciate about that person.
If there is a silly squabble over a toy my kids will be seen holding hands and repeating, "You are more important than toys. You are my best friend."
Yes, they repeat it after me but yes, truth is also being ingrained. If nothing else, they roll their eyes at me and then giggle together about their silly mom. I'll take it.
There are days that I feel like I am correcting and instructing every word uttered: "You need to ask him with a kind voice this time." "If the neighbor boy talks about your sister that way then what is your job as a manly brother who fights for his sister and her honor? That's right- you tell him he can leave if he has mean things to say. Do not ever join in with them again." "No, he is not a 'meanie'. That choice wasn't kind but speak something truthful about him now."

Then the clouds part. The sun's rays shine through. And I experience a moment where all the training comes together and I get to bask in beautiful words being said in my home. Darla is a very natural artist, brimming with creativity the rest of us only wish we could muster. It is then so meaningful to hear her build up her brothers: "Oh, wow Hudson. I didn't think about drawing a spaceship like that. Mom, did you see his cool spaceship?" "Everett- I can tell that's a person! Good job with his eyes, Everett!"
It helps having an oldest child who shows love through expressive words. When I was going to be gone for a day last month she said, "Oh, Mom I just don't want you to leave. Whenever you are gone nothing feels quite right...oh, I just love you and I want you by me all the time." Sheesh- how am I supposed to leave after that?!

My favorite is the random affirmations throughout the day. Hudson squeezes Darla and says to me, "Darla is the best. EVER. You my best friend, Darla." She lights up.
Everett told me, "Bruthy give me this motorcycle. Him a good bruthy."

I was laughing with S. about how we've trained the kids when he came home this week and told me my butt looked great in my jeans and I said, "You're the third person that's told me that today."
"What?! Who else is telling you that?"
"Actually Darla and Hudson."

The sweetest result of our words has been my older three kids talking to Little Girly. Daily I hear them speaking truths to her and I get to watch her five month old self soak it up. "Baby- you are so pretty! Look how cute you are today. You're the best baby ever. Oh, we LOVE you. Good job holding your head up! I hope, I hope, I hope you stay here forever. You're so cheerful. Mom- she really is the best, isn't she? You are so fun for us Little Bear."
Equally as beautiful is watching Little Girl receive it. She grins and kicks. How powerful is Truth spoken. When we speak blessings and God's love over her, she is focused and intent on our faces.
Particularly, Hudson melts me as he tells her how beautiful she is as I get her ready in the mornings. He has heard me telling her how God has made her, how she is a blessing to our family, how God has a plan for her life- and I've heard Hudson using some of my words when he's talking to her.

Little Girly had her first experience with baby food this week and S. and I were laughing at our three little cheerleaders: "Good job! Good job with that squash,
Little Girly! You are so big. You're a big girl now. Wow- you are a good little eater. Mom, did I eat as good as her when I was a baby?"
I finally had to tell them to give some space and quiet down because Little Girly would grin at the encouragement
and the squash would dribble right back out. Oh well, I suppose valuable things are being taught and instilled... perhaps as important as the skill of eating.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Horn of Plenty

I've been thinking about plastic fruit after reading an article by business expert and author, Tim Sanders. He tells about the horn of plenty that sat in the middle of his grandma's table. When he inquired about it as a young boy, she informed him, "It's not just a decoration. It's a declaration of abundance."

She then explained to Tim, "When I was much younger, there was a terrible Depression in this country. Those were times when everybody talked like sad sacks and counted the days until they lost everything. Spend time with them, and soon you'd catch the fear too. Even though Dad's farms were producing crops and our gas station was busy, he caught a case of it. The talk at the dinner table was always about the economy and who was going broke."

"One day my mother, your granny Hattie, came home from the Five-and-Dime with this horn of plenty. It represented prosperity, something all of us needed to think about..."

"Your granny Hattie gave a speech that night that changed our family forever. She said that the talk around the table was holding us back and keeping our noses to the grindstone. She pointed out how much land we owned and how healthy we were. Then she stood up and announced that as of that moment, for our family, the Depression was over. She made the decision that we needed to move the conversation forward and get on with our lives."

Tim asked, "Was the Depression really over?"

"For us, yes, it was, because from that day forward, we never talked about misery or lack at the dinner table again," she said. "Instead, we started every meal with a discussion of the day's progress. For the rest of the 1930's we found opportunity right and left." (Taken from Chick-fil-* leadership conference, Leadercast journal)
I realize that it may be over-simplifying to say that if we change the way we talk it will completely change our economics. But truth rang with the clang of conviction as I read. In part, because as a country we are living in a season of economic hardship. But still- as the richest nation we whine like the poorest.

Even more piercing was truth I heard from the Holy Spirit concerning my own perspective and situation. As I mulled it over this week, the Lord has been opening my eyes to His creativity in providing for us. It has been tempting to worry about the inconsistency of our paychecks right now. It's easy to hold up my idea of what would make me feel secure and believe anything short of that is lacking. I was reminded that even with fluctuating income, we have been able to do a few Costco trips due to generous friends. Our lights are on, our house is warm, and we are still richer than at least 95% of the world.

I've always dreamed of having a suburban (or 12 passenger van...don't judge me!) to have room for nieces and nephews along with my own kids. We were blessed to find an older suburban in great shape and I smile whenever I fire it up- here I am driving the vehicle I hoped for, in a time that I thought I'd have to "make do". We don't have a predictable check on predictable days but it has made God's provision so much more obvious. Even as we short sale our house, we have a great roof over our heads and some potential roofs when the season here is over.

My convictions were challenged this week when we lost a donor who gave a substantial amount to our ministry, due to economic hardship. We cringe as we feel like we are treading water, but then simultaneously God shows us His abundance.

This week His abundance showed up in the form of a '94 truck. S. has been looking for months for a truck that he can make into a stage truck for concerts, speaking engagements, and for some things BIG OAK is doing at the fair this summer.. Originally a friend at a dealership was trying to find a trade in for it. Now in a time crunch, he instead generously offered to donate toward one we find. Initially it looked like an uphill battle to raise the difference and do the leg work.

But, wow. In the past week we have had a handful of people donate toward the truck S. found that exactly fit his vision. It didn't stop there. The people who happened to sell it to him also happen to attend our church and support what BIG OAK does. Then they happened to volunteer to do the stage conversion and happened to connect us with another business who generously donated a flatbed that they had just happened to obtain the previous day. S.'s co-worker and close friend just happened to learn pin striping this year and is going to be able to do the design work on the truck. Another generous man is volunteering his time to complete the interior.

Today we are marveling at God's creativity. We thought provision would entail a big check. Never did we imagine it would involve an entire team of people catching the same vision. Now many people get to participate using their own gifts and BIG OAK gets a sweet truck that will get much use as S. shares Christ with students.

Isn't it easy to always feel like we are lacking? Yes, we might own a home but until that mortgage is paid down, we can't rest. Yes, I might have a savings account but until it is 5 times my monthly income I won't feel "safe". Yes, I might start a retirement fund but I'm plagued by the fear that I might have to pay for a nursing home and it won't be enough. The what-ifs, the fears, the constant measuring against what other people have destroys me. It puts the responsibility for abundance on my own head instead of doing the work God puts in front of me and understanding that God is a God of abundance.

Often in this season S. and I have been reminded of the Israelites in the desert. When God gave them manna and quail, it was enough for the day. They complained that they couldn't save it (just in case God didn't come through) and complained about the lack of variety. What an insult to God who was each morning filling their need before they were even awake to collect it. How quickly we stop stepping out of our tent to say, "WHOA! The manna is here AGAIN!" "Can you believe this?! The quail is BACK... what are we going on- forty years of provision here? What a God we serve! Woo-hoo!"
How quickly we pout and whine, "Only enough for today? Why can't I ever get ahead? Manna and quail again?! When is my tent going to be a four bedroom house?"

So I step back. I stop worrying about what our current short sale is going to do to our credit. Instead of focusing on the fact that we started a non-profit ministry in the midst of a flailing economy, I recognize God is meeting our needs each morning before we wake. I will get excited every time I start the suburban. I will praise God that right when Hudson needed new clothes, a friend gave me a huge bag of her son's hand-me-downs that happened to be the perfect size. I will celebrate the doctor visits covered by insurance and the groceries in my cupboard. I will use whatever it takes (but please Lord, don't let it be tacky plastic fruit on my table...) to declare to myself and to my family that God provides....ABUNDANTLY.

Monday, May 16, 2011


"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise." Isaiah 43:19,21

Last year when S. turned 32 I struggled with how to celebrate. I could see the workings of the Spirit but S. had gone through low lows and I had watched him self-destruct in front of me. It was a hard year to kick up our heels and celebrate.

Ahh...but this year is so sweet to commemorate. Coming to the end of himself and his own ability to succeed- even in ministry- was what ultimately brought him to "deny himself, take up his cross" and follow Christ. When Jesus says "whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25 ) He doesn't just mean to become "Christian". S. was a believer for years but only in the past year and a half was brought to such a deep place of surrender. He lost everything that felt 'secure' in his world. Instead of throwing in the towel or making things happen on his own, S. got on his knees and waited for God to begin building life into him.

And now...I could write for hours and kick up my heels. As S. has responded to the Lord, I have seen God focus him, teach him discipline, and feed Truth into him. For the first time since we've been married S. committed to do a Bible Study this past year where he didn't teach or lead. He studied for his own relationship with God and God met him there.

S. has sought wise counsel and it has refreshed both of us to build friendships with people smarter and wiser than we are. He has slowed down to fall in love with our family. Not only is he intentional with our own kids, he has allowed God to break his heart wide open to love Little Girly as his own. It didn't happen automatically. He prayed that God would put him in the right place as he was tempted to have his guard up, not knowing if she will become a Taylor. He believed God was telling him that in this season he is Little Girly's dad and chose to take on that role without inhibition. His love for her is evidenced by the way that she grins, squeals, and throws her arms in the air when he walks in the room.

I have seen the Lord take a man brimming with creativity and ideas and I have watched Him chisel away to give clear direction and specific vision. S. started BIG OAK with about fifty possible directions to take it. God gave us a fantastic board of directors and the right connections to move in the best direction in this season.

A week and a half ago I had the privilege of working the BIG OAK booth at a leadership conference. We got to share about a;life and give mini-presentations to people about how it will work to have this devotional tool online. Watching the vision catch, hearing people from churches and Y*uth for Christ say, "This is a need! How can we get our hands on something like this?" fueled my excitement for what we do.

I am excited about a;life and how the Lord has pulled pieces together for it. Even more so, I am excited to have a husband listening to the Lord. Watching him at the conference, I was excited about his ability to communicate vision and his growing passion to get students grounded in Scripture.

My prayers continue for my husband. I pray this year that God would continue to quicken S.'s ears to His voice, to continue renewing his mind and transforming his spirit. But mostly, this is my year of thanksgiving. It is my year to step back and praise God that the prayers I prayed for a decade are being answered in gracious ways.

This morning at 3am I sat on the couch with Little Girly and her stuffy nose, which was preventing her from sleep. S. stumbled out with some great bed head and said we might as well be up together. As we watched a sitcom and rocked Little Girly, I marveled at the irony: somehow as S. and I are at our poorest (materially) we are experiencing the richest of all seasons. That can't be anything but the work of the Lord. May we get to experience more of God's richness this coming year- Happy Birthday Sean!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

3 years for Everett

Last week our family landed at our favorite local coffee shop for sandwiches and coffee while we had a house showing. It was dangerously close to nap time so I was extra diligent in helping our kids remember manners in the otherwise quiet shop. A beautiful elderly couple sat in chairs near us, enamored with our kids but mostly with Everett.
The woman told him, "Your smile is bright as sunshine!"
He smiled again to prove it.
The gentleman had a strong Dutch brogue and chuckled at the amount of activity happening at our table.
The kids ate. Everett tried to sneak under the table. The kids talked. Everett tried some tricky stunt on the bench he was supposed to be sitting on. The kids helped clean up. Everett saw something in the display case that he thought needed his grubby hands all over.

S. took care of three kids. It took all of me to keep Everett going in the right direction. He was amiable, funny, and mischievous.

We were packing up to leave and the kind woman watching said with a knowing wink, "I see you have an alpha male there."
I laughed. "Yes. That's one way to put it."
She leaned closer to impart her grandmotherly (great-grandmother, I learned later) wisdom. "Those are the best kind. They may take the most work to raise but it's worth it. It's the 'sheep' I worry about. That one that you have...he's definitely not a sheep."
I laughed again. "True. True."
Then I had to leave abruptly because while the other children were waiting for me, I realized Everett was already exploring the parking lot.
I am learning with Everett that sometimes when I think he must need more intervention, what he really needs is more independence. For example, we have struggled with Everett regressing in potty training. My instinct was to hover, to remind him too often, to decide for him when to go. Then one day I heard the toilet flush, the sink go on and off, and a very satisfied Everett emerged. Apparently he needed to do it all himself.
Everett is quite social like his dad (I have yet to have an introverted child...). Right now he is intent on learning social cues. If he does something funny he will continue to test it until it is no longer funny (and then still try again just to make sure the moment has passed). He also has been observing faces. We were at the Y and Everett was intently studying a woman while she watched her kids swim. I had wondered a couple weeks earlier if this particular woman was tired or had endured a sad season of life.
Apparently Everett was wondering the same thing because he pointed from across the room and said, "Why that lady so sad?" (Fortunately it sounded like "I dat lady do dad?" and she didn't pick up on it.)
Yesterday at the bakery he saw a man walk through and inquired, "Mom? Why that man have a mad face?"
"I don't think he's mad, Everett. He's just in a hurry and doesn't seem to have a very cheerful resting face."
It's very difficult cuddling with Everett...because it takes all the restraint in the world to not bite his little cheeks. Something in the combination of his charisma and impish little grin calls to be munched on. He is affectionate and feisty at the same time, reminding me very much of the Tadema boys on my side of the family. The other night after wrestling him to bed by tickling, tossing, and giggling he insisted on giving me three kisses and an equal amounts of hugs. I knew he was procrastinating, knowing all this would keep me there longer.
Then as I was insisting "Last one," he patted my back and said,
"You a great mom."
"and you are a delightful son."
My prayer for Everett this year is that he would be excited about Jesus. When Everett is excited about something, there is no stopping his zeal. I pray that God would capture all that passion and enthusiasm to use for His glory. I also pray for protection over him physically because he doesn't have a lot of fear and can be impulsive in his bravery. He is a little warrior; dreaming about conquering bad guys and confident he could proficiently shoot squirrels with S.'s air soft gun. I pray that God would even now be preparing him for spiritual battle; equipping him to know the Word and to love prayer.

Today, Everett requested spiderman on his cupcake. Done. In fact, the spiderman figurine we have is able to hold 2 of the candles as fire torches. We'll see how that goes.
Happy third birthday, Everett Clifford!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

I had a post Mother's Day glow this morning. My sweet children painted little flower pots for me and each said what they appreciated about me (affirming Darla said, "I'm so glad you don't go work and you decide to stay with us instead.")
I hoped the glow wouldn't rub off as I was homeschooling (which meant shouting out word definitions) while I changed a wet diaper and warned my 2yr. old to stay on the toilet until I had a chance to make sure the wiping was adequate. Within minutes of starting school there were whines about spelling words, a multitude of army men spread on the carpet waiting to poke my feet as I walked through (holding a baby), and two preschool boys with a significant volume control problem. Instead of pulling my hair out in chunks...I recalled my favorite poem and share it with you now in (late) celebration of Mothers Day.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World
by William Ross Wallace

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All in a Day's Play

I recently read a blog that listed ways we stifle our children's creativity. It's true. We are a generation of parents who easily succumb to immediate gratification, keeping our kids quiet with TV, video games, or "learning" toys. We have beautiful homes on tiny lots and we have been taught to hover: instructing our kids to not climb so high, not to walk to the neighbors independently, having over-supervised play dates.

How irritated I would get as a child when I told my mom "I'm bored" and her response was, "Oh good! I have plenty for you to do." I was irritated then but as I say the same irritating words to my own kids- I'm thankful she did it. With a mom who required some personal responsibility, who didn't hand us entertainment in our listlessness, and a house full of siblings, we managed to get creative in our play. My own kids are blessed to have the same opportunities and even in a ridiculously wet Northwest spring, are finding inventive ways to play.

Spontaneously one morning Darla set to work on masks. Her cousins were going to be coming by and she thought if they were going to be Belle, Tinkerbell, and Silvermist- they should look the parts. She found paper plates and set to work. No one fed her a single idea, I simply tied a string on the back when the masks were completed. (I missed the picture of the boys' batman and spiderman masks.)
The next day Hudson had a wooden spoon and bowl out, pretending to cook for us. I went to feed Little Girly and put laundry away, amazed at how happy and quiet the other three were for an extended time. Upon entering the kitchen I was overwhelmed with the smell of cinnamon. Apparently invisible food didn't cut it so they created "Cinnamon Shake" (ingredients: water, cinnamon, sprinkles). I came in as the milk was being poured... into wine glasses. Our house smelled of cinnamon goodness for two days and I discovered in the back of the fridge that they saved some in a glass jar. Mmm mmm.
As they were cleaning up the kitchen mess, they found the paper plates and cups again. They immediately set to work making "phone systems". I was impressed that they thought to use the hole punch and string...and even more impressed that they knew what a rotary phone is.
(Yes, that is left over cinnamon still on Everett's face.)
One of the things on the list of creative children was to let children use furniture and toys for things other than their intended purpose. They accomplished that later in the afternoon when they tipped all our kitchen chairs on their backs to create a train (at least the steering wheel was a plastic plate). Kids and stuffed animals alike choo-chooed down the hall.

There is still cut up cardboard in my kitchen because they thought a great idea would be to make a sign to hang from our suburban's antennae that reads, "Taylor Car".

I thought that was enough for a day but when I was making dinner Darla came in the door with folded papers. "I've been asking the neighbors for help and money."
"For our zoo."
"Our what?"
"We want to make a zoo in our yard. We might borrow some people's animals. For sure we'll have Taryn (5 yr. old neighbor boy) get bugs. He's practically a bug scientist."
"What is it you'll need money for?"
" huh. I guess we don't. I guess I'll just give these invitations to the neighbors so they can come to the zoo."
"Sounds great. But it's dinner time so let's wait on the zoo."

The highlight of creativity came at the end of the week. Our neighborhood has an annual clean up day. Our kids decided with the neighbor kids that as a "reward" for everyone who cleans up, they would have a play to conclude the day. They found all the chairs they could and lined them on our sport court.
They enlisted the help of an older neighbor girl to build a 'fort' out of branches, which then became the castle.
Quite unfortunately, in their role casting and set design, they neglected to bother with lines, plot, a narrator, or anything else that might help the play be...well, a play. We watched them "play" for some time and they were proud of their performance.
Here is neighbor boy "King Kierian" with sword in what could loosely be described as an action scene:
Later Darla and I learned about narrators, plot conflict, and the essential aspect of letting your audience know what they are watching. She is excited to write the next script and let S. be narrator (so she can still play the leading lady role, naturally).
Our house is listed to sell and everything in me wants to keep it spotless so when we get last minute calls to show it, I can retain my sanity. When cinnamon fills the air, when paints and crayons and slivers of paper cover the floor, when I realize my lilac bush is naked because "the wild bunnies needed salad", I am tempted to hand over the video games. Ah, but there is more to learn than what a spotless house and clean children can teach... (I said with a nervous laugh.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Thirsty Soul

"O God you are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." Psalm63:1

I have had nearly the same conversation three times with three people this past week. Whenever that happens I start to think I should blog about here I am.

A couple years ago I made an observation. Most of the time when asking a follower of Christ, "What is God teaching you?" Or "What is God speaking to you about?" the person pauses.
Then, the answer almost always along the lines of "I need to have more quiet time." "I'm not reading the Bible enough." "Um... I missed a couple days of devotions because my kids were sick..."

At first I thought people were saying, "I'm not slowing down enough to hear the voice of God." But then I noticed something else. It seemed to be that guilt was blocking any ability to hear the voice of God.
I noticed even friends who are involved in Bible Studies, know Scripture, and do have time with God (to some extent) answer the same way- with guilt and obligation. I've noticed a tendency to put God on a list along with "workout, wash windows, pick up prescription". We put in our chapter of Bible reading a day to alleviate our conscience until the next requirement pops up.

In having this discussion with a group of women, I felt heartbroken for us and for God that we reduce our relationship with Him in this way. I believe it's a trap to think of time with Jesus like I think of other to-dos in my day, or to think that the Creator could be restricted to half an hour in the morning.

I suppose the closest thing I could liken it to (flawed as it is) is marriage. It would not be constructive to S. and my relationship if I looked at my to-do list, sighed, and thought, "Well...I guess I should spend half an hour with my husband. I am married, after all. Hard as it is, I better put my time in."

No way! I can't wait for S. to get home from work so we can share about our days. I love breakfast together in the morning, taking our little family for a walk after dinner, road tripping, planning our future. And I'm not even talking about a perfect, all-knowing, Almighty God...I'm talking about my well-intentioned husband (who every once in a great while might fall a little short of "completing" me).
When S. and I are busy and aren't connecting, we miss each other. Not because we are obligated to, but because our relationship is life giving and we like each other. We might not be spending focused time together but we call each other to tell a quick story, we stay up later than we should so we can be uninterrupted, I send suggestive (er...I mean... loving...) e mails to remind him I'm his.
Then when we do have focused time or a weekend away- I soak it up. I don't spend the whole time feeling guilty that it doesn't happen every weekend. I don't worry that he will be angry when I have a day where we aren't talking as frequently.

How quickly we forget that Jesus died, rose, and forgives us so that we have a relationship with Him. I have yet to hear a pastor say "Surrender to Jesus so you can add Him to your checklist."
How much more in my relationship with Jesus should I be squeezing in every moment of intimacy? If I do this with S. then certainly wouldn't I do this with the Lord who won't fail me, knows me more deeply, who is faithful and holds all the answers?

As I've been reflecting I asked the Lord why (in His grace) I have escaped the mentality of checking Him off the list. Some days I hear His voice loudly and constantly. Other days my quiet time is interrupted by busy children; my down time filled with tasks. I resort to worship music while we clean, a Bible story from the Children's Bible after dinner, and distracted prayers as I fall to sleep. I know His love for me isn't based on my day, and regardless of my schedule...I crave Him.

I then realized that I haven't had the leisure of keeping God a small part of my life. By His grace He has allowed circumstances in my life that have stretched me, broken me, caused me to continually land on my face before Him. I don't spend time with Him because I know I should. I don't read my Bible to alleviate my conscience. I have a relationship with Christ because I need Him.
I talk to Him constantly because there is no other way for me to get from minute one to minute two without it. Without His voice I am inspiration-less, lifeless, irrational, and truthfully- a boring person. Without His Word I am rudderless, shallow, and in a constant state of confusion. Without His Spirit I lack boldness, direction, and discernment.

There is no compartmentalizing possible for me. I am unable to leave Jesus at my quiet time chair. He speaks to me in the shower (and I will continue to use that excuse for my ridiculously long showers). Today I silently cried out to Him as I sat with my oldest son waiting for him to correct a lie with truth. He goes before me as I take a deep breath and sit down to pay bills. He is in every conversation I have (even with the checker at Target when Darla wants to share about buying baby things for the orphanage in Honduras). There is nothing in my life separate from Him.

"I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget your word." Psalm 119:15-16

I love how excited David gets about God's Word in the Psalms. It's beautiful that he found so much life in God's law and promises...and this was before God made the ultimate sacrifice of His Son! David was pumped about God even when he didn't understand the extent of God's grace, goodness, and love to the degree that we can read about every single day.
I should be so grateful!

"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes (like David) I don't want to hear what God has to say. Whether it is my guilt, selfishness, or fear, I have at times cowered and not wanted to come before the Lord. But...I do. Thankfully He continues to compel me, in spite of myself, to come back to Him.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1
Ahhh...what a place to rest. Free of condemnation, misunderstandings, insecurities, and fear.

In this season of life I am thankful that I can delight in the Lord with my messy, inconsistent life. (Here a picture of the messiness that occurs when I'm in the next room enjoying "quiet":)
In another season of life I anticipate days that look like this:
But for now I will enjoy that the Lord speaks to me through this: