Mixed Well.

I like most all things creative, a well written poem, a play doh sculpture, a sidewalk chalk drawing, an engaging book, a thought provoking photograph, an artfully decorated cake, well, the list could continue on and on. The ability to thoughtfully create something is one of the greatest gifts we as a race have been given by our loving creator.

There is so no way I could describe the feeling I have when I find myself applying the my creative giftedness to a canvas or paper. I dont get the opportunity to do it much. But when I can… there is something about those moments. I get giddy with anticpation. I find my thoughts racing. My mood actually is lifted. I get lost in what I am doing. And it’s not because I am so very skilled. There are many, many artists out there whose skill far exceeds my own. (My daughter is one of those people.)

But just beacuse I so enjoy it.

I was thinking recently how we are all made in God’s image.

You. Me. Your spouse. Your parents.Your siblings.  All made in God’s image.

God is a wonderous creator. He delighted in creating us.

It says in Psalms 139:15 that we were skillfully made..  When you look up the word skillfully (in Hebrew: raqam) it literally means to “to variegate; to mix colors”… Isn’t that beautiful?

I saw something interesting in that definition.

I like to paint whenever I can find the extra time. I grab a styrafoam plate off the top of my fridge, and the shoe box of paints. I squirt a quarter size amount of blue, red, yellow, brown, white and black… I use the primary colors to create whatever color I need.

A dusty blue for the sky. A muddied green for grassy leaves. And often times I run out of the mixed color I created.

Then I have to try to recreate that shade… I know for the dusty blue I used blue, a bit of white and a bit of brown. But try as I might, I cannot duplicate that shade. I can get close, but a exact.

God created us that way… a mixed color. Not to be duplicated. Never to be recreated.

Only once in all of creation will he mix a colorful you.

Only once will the world see the work of art that is you.

So, I say, let your colors shout! Let them be loud!

Figure out what the tone of your mix is… and turn up the volume!!

Insert proud grin….

Alina wrote this story last year… when she was 12… maybe some day we will see it published?

All in a day’s work.

The night has snuffed out the last of the light. The snow is falling, we are all in preparation for bed. Jammies on. Teeth brushed. But there is one ingredient missing. Do you know what it is? What’s that? A story? Well, yes, a story. It just so happens I know one.

Here’s one to as you snuggle up on this cold January night.

“Once upon a time there were  three men, all working towards building the same structure. A back breaking job, chipping rock to form the wall that would surround a new building. It was hot. The progress was slow. And so they worked, day by day.

A stranger happens by, noticing the pile of rubble and wondered to the first worker, “What are you doing?” The worker, agitated by the interruption, doesn’t even look up from his labor. He responds gruffly with, “What does it look like I’m doing, I’m breaking rocks!”

The wandering stranger moves on down the sidewalk a bit and asks the second worker, “What are you doing?” The second worker responds, leaning heavily on his hammer,  in a tired worn voice, “I’m chipping stone for this stupid fence.”

The stranger goes a bit further and sees the third worker, busy stacking the rock, and asks him, “What are you doing?” The worker looks up, wipes the sweat from his brow, smiles, and with a sweeping gesture toward the location of the new building says, “I’m building a cathedral, and it will be magnificent!”

Three laborers. All doing the same job. All received the same pay. Each with a different view of his work.

I have to admit that my view isn’t so positive most of the time. A lot of the time I’m just face down in the sticky ceramic tile. Or the stained berber carpeting. Or the piles of smelly laundry.

In the midst of all the cooking, cleaning, teaching, and mothering, I can feel very much like the first laborer. I can be bitter and indifferent. I feel the slow progress of my daily work. Sometimes being a wife and mother can feel like such a thankless job. I never seem to accomplish anything, and the work is seemingly endless. It taunts me daily. I tell myself, “No one really appreciates me.”

Sometimes I find myself in the work boots of the second contractor. Tired and worn. Stretched to what I feel is my limit. Empty of self. I inwardly sigh at the constant requests of my children. The expectations of my husband. I tire at the pull of the requirments and responsibilites. And secretly I wonder, “Will what I do here make any difference?”

But, oh….

Oh God, I want to be like the third worker. I want to see the bigger picture. To see my daily life as you see it. To see the importance of my service. To have abundant joy and take pride in what I’m called to do. I want to see that the work that I’m doing here is much bigger than even I can imagine.

That I have in my power, the ability to change this environment from tedious to tremendous. For you and your purposes. Teach me how to make doing dishes a holy service. Cleaning laundry as a worship. Making my house a place of imperfect magnificence.

Today, they are mess makers. Snack sneakers. Dish dirtiers. Fight pickers. Clingy cryers. Fussin Nellies. Eye rollers. Grumblers. May God help me to see past that. When I inwardly sigh at my days and I stop to I wipe my brow, remind me to choose to smile, look at my girls and say, “I am building a cathedral. One day I will stand and see four magnificent God serving women.”

Sick Day.

So, for those who have the extreme blessing of knowing me, you know I like to verbalize. I am a talker. And sometimes, I whine. I might have an occasional tendency to complain. Shameful, I know. Woe to those who know me.

Today… I am sick. I gots me a little cold. Generously served up by one of my bacteria-carrying little ones. (They are so kind to share. – They get their giving spirit from their Mamma.)

So, now taking into consideration my love of the art of spoken words couple that with me sick? Well, no one wins.

It is a sad day, indeed. Let the complaining commence.

I could tell you of the stuffy nose. The scratchy throat. The pained ears. The chilly toes. (Oh! The chilliness of the toes!)

But I will try to save you from the torment of my complaining.(Because my love for you is so great.)

Instead, I will offer up to you… a pictorial.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So for your viewing pleasure, I give you.

My morning as a me… only sick.

Me and my BFF. My mac. The warmth of the motor. The glow of the screen. Ahhh….

It’s cold here at the “Du” today. (The “Du” is my husband’s affectionate name for our temporary home, a duplex.) We are trying to save some money on the heating bill. Anybody ever been there? The briskness may be why I am ill today. (Remind me to complain later.)

Here we have exhibit “A” of my illness. An empty roll of TP, which was my tissue of choice until Charlie got me a new box of ACTUAL tissues. Good thing he also bought a fresh supply of TP as well, as this was the last roll available in the “Du”.

When you are as ill as me. (Or as lazy as me. Or a combination of both.) You need to keep the essentials nearby. Here you will see my phone and remote. It is sad how worn out our remote is. (This is in no way an indication of how much TV we watch here at the “Du”. None whatsoever.)

Awe, look who stopped by to check on me… ain’t she sweet? So full of love. So full of kindness. Compassion, even.  She even brought her own blanket so I won’t have to share mine. (I am not what they call a “sharer”.)

Wait folks. Wait just a minute. She did not come as an angel of mercy… but a thief of my Mac. O cruelness of it all. I cannot bear such treachery… in my own house. It pains me so. (Remind me to complain about that later.)

I turn to the Bible in times like this. Of illness. Of betrayal. It is a healing salve, is it not? I do love me some study time. (Even if someone is stealing my covers while I read it.)

Cover stealer.

Even though, at the moment, my toes have reach chilliness that should never be known to man, I will push through this and share with you a bit of lost wisdom. I don’t know if you knew this or not. But one of the most well-kept secrets on recovery is M&Ms. Lot’s of them. Preferably peanut. I accredit them to my speedy recovery. Wait… I am not quite recovered yet. Maybe I should eat more?  Couldn’t hurt.

My oldest daughter has been homeschooling. What? I didn’t tell you? Well, she is. We have abandoned the traditional brick and mortar school for the “School in yer Jammies”. I highly recommend it. (Even if I have to take a break from eating M&Ms to check her American History quiz.)

When you homeschool, your child can attempt to speed your healing with humor. Humor may be healing. But wasting chocolate in such a manner? That is not helpful to my recovery. I wouldn’t advise it. In fact, it is frowned upon here at the “School in yer Jammies”.

And the younger are so easily influenced. For shame. (Remind me to complain about this later.)

I decided to paint my toes. I do enjoy to paint. Canvases. And although, most people might categorize me as creative, I am always disappointed in my toe painting skills. I chose this color because I thought it might look “Christmassy”. It does not. It looks “Shrekky”. I am not delighted. (Again, remind me to complain later.)

Here you go, something for  you lovers of all things random. Here is something that is CUTE & GREEN. Unlike my shrekky toes. Right? Right? It makes me smile.The caterpillar, not my toes.

Well, I must retreat back into my blankie. Have a bowl of stewed chicken and veggies. Watch the Hallmark channel. Maybe being sick isn’t the worst way to spend the morning.

 

 

The View From the Backseat.

So the other day I took a pair of the young’uns to Cleveland to visit the Rainforest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. (We have season passes. I know, it’s impressive. Be impressed. I know people.) So, anyhoo, me and the pair headed northwards to go visit the Rainforest and I took along my trusty D80 to snap a few pictures of a couple of my kids cavorting with the critters. Well, when I was driving, my children took control of the shutter.

This was the result of that road trip.

There was a snowstorm the night before. My lil Cabrio was enveloped by 15″ of powder.

Perhaps I should have taken the time to clean off my whole windshield, no? Eh, it was fine. Who needs to look to right? Certainly not me.

These little kicker boots belong to my three year old. Who handles a Nikon D80 with alarming ease.

How does a 9 year old survive a one hour trip (thanks to the snow laden roads) to Cleveland? Electronics. That’s how.

Ah, the loverly grayness that is Ohio somehow seems less dreary when captured by the chubby little fingers of brown eyed baby.

Why does my 9 year old beauty look so suspicious? It’s like she doesn’t believe me when I say Ohio is cheerful. Eh, who am I kidding? It’s still gray. Still dreary.

But the company makes it tolerable.

Me = Mom

Being a stay at home Mom has many rewards. And depending on the day, just as many downsides.  If I were working for another person, no one would ever eye me up and down at the end of my work day and suspiciously question, “So, what did YOU do today?” The times I have been asked such a question is too many to number. And each time the question brings me discomfort . I go back and forth between wanting to defend myself and second guessing my abilities and work ethic. Near the end of a day, when I do get asked this, I shift back and forth in my seat, my mind races to replay the day. “Did I work as hard as I could?” “I did spend a lot of time not doing productive things.” I can understand

why someone might ask me this query. There will be days when dishes are undone, in the sink, on the counters, and often times scattered through the house where the users left them. There will be days when laundry is sitting cold and wrinkled in the dryer, or in a basket piled high to its limit, or often times on the floor of the users rooms. Don’t be mistaken though, just because laundry is on the floor does not mean that the aforementioned clothing is dirty. It could be clean. From where I had folded it and given it to the users to be taken to their rooms and be put away into their dressers or closets, but instead, they put it on top of dressers with good intentions to return later and do the job to its completion. But instead, it gets forgotten, then knocked over, until it resembles the dirty and discarded clothing that sits next to it on the floor. This can only be remedied by a trip from me into their rooms to sniff and examine and sort dirty from clean. There are days when the kitchen table is hidden from view. Hidden by homework discarded. By bill unopened. By junk mail left. By the contents of a purse that was spilled out in a desperate search for a few quarters for snack money. It is a miracle of nature how loose items are magnetically drawn to open flat surfaces. Kitchen counters. Tables. Shelves. I have never seen a science research paper on this phenomenon, but I am willing to bet that there is enough data in my house alone to back up this theory. These are the things that stare me in the face, defying me to answer that I work hard. I am not a non stop cleaning machine. I clean out of necessity.

Because it is required of me. Because we need clothes to wear. Dishes to eat off of. Utensils to eat with. Cleaning does not inspire me. It is not the therapeutic joy that I have heard about. When my acquaintances speak of their chores, you see a smile spread across their faces and they practically glow at the idea of the smell of bleach or the thought of a newly reorganized office. I envy them. Because what inspires me is frivolous to most. And what we do, measures who we are. Like it or not. And not whether or not we do it, but how skilled we are at it. How seamless we balance the many aspects of motherhood. Clean house, pantries full, homework assignments complete, faces scrubbed, outfits matchy

matched and cute, loose and crazy hair tamed, parent teacher conferences attended, the poor marks on the report card fall on our shoulders, the toys that gets tripped on is our fault, the lack luster dinner that no one eats, the fragile emotional well being of our children our ours to maintain, to teach them health and esteem, love and safety, teach them work ethic (that you yourself question if you even have at all), train them in the ways of organization, groom integrity into their character.  In so many different ways I fall short. I utterly and completely fail. There are days where I feel lost. Alone. Where I go to bed questioning my abilities. And where I wake up praying I don’t ruin the chance  have been given to impact my girls

in a great a wonderful way. There are days when prayers are harder and silence and doubt are easier. The silence is mostly in my heart, not in my world.

Because I am a mom, so my world is full of noise. Electric toys, coughing in the night, groans in the morning, the crash of a broken glass, the all to familiar whine of my children, the radio that seeps out of their room and clashes with the cartoons

on the television, and the occasional bicker the breaks out amongst the ranks.

I take encouragement knowing that this is common territory for Moms like me. And knowing full well the love of my Father in heaven. Who in him and through him, I will always be enough. Who sees me as I am. All my failures. All my shortcomings. My laziness. And loves me the same. Who understands where I am. And is patient with me. Like a good, loving Father. The way he parents me, makes me a better parent to my children. Makes me better in every way.

Ha! Looking back over this blog post, I see it’s a rather solemn post. But, that’s okay.

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

So… it’s been a while. How ya been? Good? Good. The family? Doin’ well? Good. How’s work? Eh, well, two outta three ain’t bad.

Me? Well, I am glad you asked.

Alina is runnning cross country this year. Her best pal join cross country as well. So they get to hang out and run till blisters cover their toes. She loves it. Except for the running part. And the blister part.

Alina also is playing soccer as well this year. As well as an avid member of FaceBook. Wait… what’s that? That’s not a sport? Well, what about YouTube? No?!? Sigh. So she’s not that sporty. But she is gifted. Her drawing skills have excelled over the summer break. She took her sketchpad everywhere. For example, I had to make her put away her paper and pencils while we were at the Forth of July Carnival & Fireworks in my hometown. She’s THAT dedicated.

Keni also playing soccer. On the Trasher team. They are doin much better than last year. Thankfully. Last year I coached. This year, I do not. Maybe that’s why they are doin better. Hmmm… I hadn’t thought of that before. Anyways, this summer Keni has perfected her frog catching skills. All summer we had scores of those things. First in the wading pool. Then in pop tubs. Then in small buckets. She walk to her Grammies? Come back with a frog. Go for a ride in the semi truck with her dad? Come back with a frog. Go to my parents house? Come back with a frog. She has yet to find a prince tho.

Reggie? Also playing soccer. I know. I know. I can’t believe we are the “soccer family”. There are so many other things I would rather be, than the” soccer family.” Like the “museum family” or the “zoo family” the “beach family”… hey! I’d even take the “tv family”… ok, I guess not, but still. So, what was I sayin? O yes… Reggie… she plays for The Heat. She is VERY into this sport. (Although she keeps bugging us about golf, which she’ll be doin next year, God help me.) She will be the one on the team shouting out the plays. “Get the ball!” or “Pass it! Pass it!” or “Hey! I’m open!” or when she’s defending, she’ll coach the other defenders and goalie, “Here comes the ball… you guys ready?” It makes my heart smile, even tho I don’t care for sports…  I can’t get enough of Reggie playing them.

Reese.. o my word. My baby. She’s three and a half now. Busy. Busy. And bored now that her sisters are in school. Because, I am… how do you say? Ah yes.. boring. Reese is a strong and brave girl. A helpless and needy girl. She is an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, dipped in confusing sauce. She’s not scared of the dark, but terrified there might be a big dog in the bushes. She tells me, “I can do it myself.” when she is on the computer, but says, “I am a baby, so I don’t have to clean, right Mom?”

I have  four little girls, but so far none of the are the same as the others. Just when I think I’ve mastered a certain aspect of parenting. Or when I am on the brink of figuring out how the brain of a girl works. It changes up. They grow out of one phase and  it’s, “On to the next!” I cannot keep up. They have me breathless.

But I love every minute of it.

Holy Hairballs!!

The process of hair brushing is a necessary evil. Just ask my girls. The torture that results in a untangled hairdo is a thing my girls dread.

They wince. They whine. The squint their eyeballs. They lean forward to try to escape the brushing implement. If they are lucky, a mirror is in front of them, so they can take their face making skills to the next level. It is a treasured time of bonding. And crying.

When the horrendous event comes to it’s beautifully coifed end… the girls will get up and run to the mirror. Where they admire themselves. They demurely batt their eyelashes. Coyly turn and look over their shoulder. They flash a super star smile at their reflection and discover what I sometimes tell them is true. “Beauty is pain.” (That’s a joke.)

The real pain is the hair balls that follow. All tangled up in my brushes. Eww.

Which brings me to my point. (I knew I had one all along.)

I got a new hair brush… check it out…..

Can you see the hair ball waiting to be freed from it’s bristley prison? No? Well, trust me… it’s there. Lurking beneath the black bristles. But, wait… look at that red button…. wonder what it’s for?

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Like magic all the bristles disappear into the barrel. Leaving only the abandoned folicles behind.

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Now comes the skin crawling duty of removing aforementioned hair.

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It’s a dirty job. But someone’s got to do it.

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And look!!! It’s like a brand new brush!!

On a side note: how bored am I this morning? I have a ton of house work I could be doin. But noooo! Letting the interweb know about this miracle grooming utensil was at the top of my priority list today. I am a complex lady.

On another unrelated sidenote: Check out my freckled fingers. What’s up with that?

Mystical Love.

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Friday afternoon, with vans filled to bursting with sleeping bags, work gloves, preteen gals, moms, snacks a plenty and one grandpa we hit the road.

It was a four hour trip to our destination, The Hannah House in Athens, Ohio. The Hannah House was our home for 2 nights.

We hung out and talked with people who were under the heavy weight of poverty. Who struggled with addictions. Who were disabled. We shoveled gardens. Built compost bins. Prepared meals. Played bingo. Raked leaves. Gathered limbs. Sorted canned goods.

Of of the volunteers there said something I thought was very insightful.

“Loving God and loving others are somehow mystically intertwined. Where one cannot tell where loving God stops and loving others begins.”

Last weekend we served. We worshiped. We loved.

Reese Joslyn.

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My youngest turned three last week.

When I was little I remember how time used to drag by. Each Christmas and birthday took eons to get here. A trip to the Champion Hills Department store was the longest drive when i was young. When my parents gave me an extra 15 minutes of playtime, it felt like freedom.

Now that I am.. ahem… older, time whizzes past. My wedding, then a baby, then another, then another, then another. Christmas, then birthday after birthday. Crawling then walking. Cooing then talking. Diapers then big girl pants. Gray hairs then wrinkles.

Where does the time go? Why does it feel so much faster?

I think Reese has all the answers. At the ripe age of three she contains the wisdom of all the ages:

1. Live right now. Taste. Feel. Breathe. Be. When you are young all that matters is right now. As you age you become acutely aware of time and of it’s passing.

2. Don’t be self concious. Get messy. Get sticky. Get dirty. Be naked. (I am not just talking literally here.) It’s hard to enjoy a 2 pound sucker when you are worried about getting your face sticky. You can always wash it off later.

3. Be grateful. For what you have right now. For what you feel right now. Appreciate it fully. Revel in what you have. Cuz life tastes so much sweeter when you do.

Thank you, Reese Josyln. My enthusiastic cascade of laughter. May you always help me to see things through your eyes. Pure and perfect.