Sunday, July 31, 2011

soul breathing...

there is something about time away that allows my soul to breathe 
in the rush of life, 
I tend to hold my breath 
until my soul is starved for oxygen...
gasping for a few moments of quiet rest
to get some air
8 days,
4 states, 
over 1300 miles
and time spent with 13 of my favorite people
gave my soul time to breathe
after some deep breathing
my soul awakens
and sees gifts from above
a few hours before Multitude Monday
begins at Ann's
my list of gifts is long... 
...for the blessing of another family camping trip
...that he knows how to fix the truck
...for family that allows us to camp in their back yard for free
...for a camper that keeps on going mile after mile
...3 generations together again
...for God's provision and protection over many miles
...starting and ending the week at the cousin's house evening swimming at the beach
...the cool of the water on yet another hot day
...quiet conversations on the beach
...meeting one who has prayed for my children lessons to stretch and to strengthen Eric
...realize anew that college friends are friends for life
...being treated to DQ
...seeing talent bloom
...discovering Norske Nook
...getting soaked on the log ride at Mall of America
...hearing the squeals and giggles as the two girls in front of me got wet
...watching a big sister share her American Girl gift card with her little sister
...sandcastles and slow time
...cousins who long for time together
...being reminded that my man who values family together time is a rare jewel
...many rousing games of the "Alphabet Game" over the miles
...a cool night to sleep without electricity
...evening Yahtzee games
...being reminded that every good and perfect gift comes from above
...standing in awe of the Creator of the universe
...learning that He wants to bless me
...realizing the blessings

join me in counting at Ann's...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

berries for breakfast...

Deep within I have a vault of memories.  Snippets of time freeze-framed in my mind.  Recollections of time gone by... 

... a boy who could not wait to be old enough to play pee wee football... that boy whose helmet was as big as he was and whose shoulder pads weighed as much as he did. The boy who was big enough to take the hits and small enough to kiss me goodnight.

... snuggly pajama days in the dead of winter with that boy and his sisters... working through school books and snuggling together under a blanket sipping hot cocoa and reading... lots and lots of reading.

... a girl who has spent over half of her lifetime dressing her American Girl dolls... doing their hair... entering a world of her own make believe... old enough to do it herself and young enough to play pretend.

... cold mornings awakening to the excitement of children in snow clothes standing by my bed pleading for a chance to go sledding before breakfast and school... watching them scramble to get out the door and listening to their early morning giggles.

... waking to find a small warm body next to mine and having no recollection of when that sweet smelling child climbed into our bed but knowing if I quietly pulled her to me and snuggled her close we would both get a little more sleep... a little one big enough to find me in the dark and small enough to fit between us.

... looking out my bedroom window to see small bodies in pjs and flip flops picking their own breakfast from the berry patch... thrilled to be big enough to go out by themselves and yet small enough to come in with more berry on their faces and hands than in their small containers.

I store these memories because time waits for no one.  The girl is no longer in love with her American Girl Dolls and the little one grew up and stopped crawling in my bed a long time ago.  And the boy... he plays high school football now.

My mind stored another mental picture in my memory vault this morning... a big guy climbing out of my truck with a grumbled "see ya Mom."  No longer the little boy swallowed up by helmet and pads but still young enough to be driven to practice.  

...and my mind recalled a boy in pjs having berries for breakfast.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

in an old library...

In an old library in Warsaw
that is not covered in vines
walked 6 local girls
in 2 straight lines
and the cutest one
was not Madeline.
While her siblings had
their fun at the Fair
it was being in this play
where she got her share.
Traveling for practice in rain
and in hot summer sunshine
this cutest girl loved
being in MADELINE!

The Fight of Our Lives...a BookSneeze Review

"Surrender to Islam?  NEVER!"  

Those words were my heart's cry until I reviewed William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn's book The Fight of Our Lives.  

Though many of us vowed to never forget 9/11, we have succumbed to the influence of the media in forgetting that it was Islamic views, Islamic values and radical Islamics that were the driving forces behind that great attack on Americans.  

In their book, Bennett and Leibsohn take a bold stand on identifying America's enemy by speaking truth against Islam and the influence of Islam in America.  They examine the culture of religious tolerance in America as well as the "politically correct" thinking Americans have adopted.  They also courageously identify the intention of Islam to obliterate all that we, in America, value.  

I stand amazed at the boldness of William Bennett and Seth Liebsohn.  Often, it seems, courage takes a back seat to the fear of offending anyone.  With truth, courage and an attitude of Patriotism, these authors unravel the lies that Americans have accepted as fact and reveal the true intent of Islam.

The Fight for Our Lives was a wake up call to me.  I realized how much I had already surrendered to Islam in my thinking and in my beliefs.  

**disclaimer... I was given this book for my honest review through my affiliation with  BookSneeze.  I received no other compensation.  

Peril in the Palace...a Tyndale Review

Over the years, we've listened to countless hours of Adventures in Odyssey.  It seems as if Whit, Connie, Eugene and Tom Riley have accompanied us on every road trip we have ever taken.  We've loved listening to the adventures and misadventures of gang at Whit's End... especially the experiences taken in the Imagination Station.  

Needless to say, when the offer, from the Tyndale Blog Network, came to review a couple of Adventures in Odyssey books came up, I gladly agreed.  And, when those books came in the mail, Emily intercepted them before I could even peruse them.  She read them in an evening and passed them on to her best friend before I could say "hey!  I need to review those!"  

The Imagination Station Series of books, written by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker, tell the story of two 8 year old cousins, Patrick and Beth, and the adventures they go on through Mr. Whitacre's invention... The Imagination Station.  

Each book takes the cousins to a particular time in history.  In book 3, Peril in the Palace, Patrick and Beth find themselves in China in 1271 where they meet up with Marco Polo, share their faith with Kublai Khan and end up in a spiritual showdown with Mongol magicians.  

Beth and Patrick's adventures do not end in China.  In book 4, Revenge of the Red Knight, the Imagination Station takes them to 15th century England and Lord Darkthorn's castle.  The cousins find themselves accused of theft, in jail and in a jousting contest.

The Imagination Station Series of books are written for ages 7 and up.  The books include short chapters, great action and fun illustrations to make them fun to read... even for a 12 year old who has grown up listening to Adventures in Odyssey!

**disclaimer... I was given these 2 books for my honest review through my affiliation with Tyndale Blog Network.  I received no other compensation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

as the dust settles...

It's a quiet morning here in our home on wheels.  We've been parked at our fairgrounds for a week actively participating our our 4H Fair.  

This is an annual tradition for our family.  We come, we play, we stay.  We do projects and show animals.  We ride rides and eat Fair food.  We get up early and stay up late.  And, mostly, we get dirty.  Seriously, dirty!

{I just realized I should have taken a picture of Ellen's feet before I made her wash them late last night.  She's worn flip flops for days and though she's bathed a few times this week, it doesn't seem to matter.  Everywhere we walk is dusty and by the end of the day feet are ugly!  I think Ellen could have been crowned Grand Champion for dirty feet last night.}

Today is Auction Day.  The day in which all of the hard work pays off.  The 4H kids walk through the auction with their animal.  Friends, family, neighbors and local businesses bid high and pay much for the right to buy the project.   By the end of the day, the barns are empty and 4H kids are happy.

The dust around here will settle tonight.  Tomorrow is the last day of the Fair and the 4H barns will resemble a ghost town.  Memories made blend with echoes of the past.  Gates, cages, tack and pens will return to storage for next year.  And, the ambitious will begin planning for 2012.

As the dust settles in barns and between barns, my spirit settles too.  This morning, Emily hung a whole new set of ribbons on our camper walls... our "Walls of Fame."  My kids are bone deep tired and worn out but equally heart deep happy.  They love this and I love them.  

...and this is why I do what I do and we do 4H.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

how to dress a llama...

If you want to dress a llama,
you have to find a llama.
There are lots of llamas
to choose from at the Fair.
If you want to dress a llama at the Fair
you have to, first, choose a costume.
It's very helpful to choose something
that the llama would like to wear.
and in something that you can easily cut up
out of your dad's closet.
If you want to dress a llama,
be sure to pack lots of safety pins
but be very, very careful that you don't
poke yourself and bleed on your costume.
And as you are dressing your llama
don't forget his feet
your llama may not like his spiffy new surgical booties
but it is all about completing the costume, right?
And if you want to dress a llama,
don't forget to dress yourself
because, of course, if your llama is a doctor
he will need a patient
For all your hard work
dressing your llama
you may even place third
in Llama Costume Class at the Fair.

Friday, July 08, 2011

applying the brakes...

Sometimes the hardest thing for this Mom to do is to apply the brakes in my kids' lives and slow us all down from time to time.  

Usually Mom's foot on the brake pedal of life is not well received in these parts.  In fact, quite the opposite is typically the case.  Most times... bargaining, tears and sometimes even gnashing of teeth is what I receive when I say "no! You can not do one more thing."   Usually....

This evening, though, I was given a precious gift by one who is growing up faster than I can fathom.  After weeks of 4H projects and deadlines... late nights and early mornings... and a day that included 3 hours of dressing, brushing, washing and blow drying a llama as well as a long accordion practice this afternoon, I stepped in said "no more".  The response I got... "I'm okay with that.  Thanks Mom!"

Applying brakes and slowing life down is not always easy or popular but often my kids need me to step in and do it for them.  In the midst of the mayhem, it's not easy for them to see or find a way to slow life down.  It seems there is always ONE MORE fun thing to do.

... just like me.  I rarely can see the brakes or where to reach for the pedal when all 5 of us are living at breakneck speed.  Just like my kids, I need someone to apply the brakes for me... to slow me down... to stop and see what is important... to remember there are many good things to do in life, but am I choosing the best things?

Tomorrow morning we will rise early and journey to a graveside service.  Emily will play her accordion with 4 other girls and we will all gather round as we honor a life that has come to its earthly end.  This time together will be a good reminder of slowing down... seeing what is important... choosing the best things.

...and choosing the best things in life sometimes requires using the brake pedal.

the difference a year makes...

On a very quiet summer morning
while watching a mama and babies swim by
I sit amazed at the goodness of God
in the land of the living.
My heart celebrates God's mercy
in the lives of 2 deeply loved ones
 as we gathered for breakfast in the park
to pray and play together.
Thank You LORD for Your abundant goodness
and for the difference a year makes!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

iced coffee, anyone?

After an incredibly busy and blessed holiday weekend, it's Tuesday... which means {virtual coffee} with Amy.   Care to join me?  I'll be the one sipping contentedly on an iced coffee with sweet Italian cream and monopolizing the entire conversation.... 

If we were really meeting for coffee this morning, I would tell you that this whole iced coffee thing is new to 2011.  I've always hated coffee... until now.  Apparently, at 42, you can still learn a few new tricks.  An iced coffee a day keeps the grumpies away for this mama!  And, the sweet Italian cream is a trick I learned from my sister.  So glad it was on sale this last week!!

I have to be honest, I'm so glad we are meeting for coffee!  I've felt so out-of-the-loop for the past few weeks.  It's 4H time here in our neck of the woods...'nuff said!  4H time tends to be crazy time.  In the end, it's crazy fun time but... "this is the LAST year we will do this!" has been known to go through my mind a time or two.  Like all great things, though, watching my kids having so much fun is what drives me to do 4H year after year.  
Here's a little secret though... I made an executive decision to opt out of a 4H event this morning.  Sometimes one has to say "enough is enough!"

I have GOT to tell you about the wedding reception that we attended this weekend. beautiful!  The wedding and reception were held at the home of the groom's aunt and uncle.  They have a gorgeous home on one of our local lakes.  The reception was one of the most fun, most relaxed, most beautiful receptions I have ever been to.  While we danced and waited for the fireworks to be set off, we watched the spectacular lightening show that God put on in the skies above us.  The entire event was a powerful testimony to the goodness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

We spent the second half of the weekend with friends.  Actually the same friends 2 nights in a row!  How fun is that?!?  Fireworks over the lake the first night and fireworks in the yard the second night... and homemade ice cream BOTH nights!! 

I love having fun at home!  However, my house surely looks like we've had a ton of fun.  There are dishes strewn and laundry overflowing.  And, as much as I would love to sit over coffee all day... I really should be somewhat constructive today and tackle the mess.  

Thanks for listening to me ramble today!  Join in at Amy's!

Monday, July 04, 2011

pausing long enough...

Pausing to count...
... cookouts with friends
... love and laughter
... celebrating freedom and friendships
... chargrilled burgers and homemade ice cream
... an abundance of food when others don't have enough
... a front row seat watching my kids grow up
... an abundance of friends
... spontaneous backyard baseball games
... giggles and water fights
... journeying life with kindred hearts
... beautiful summer nights
... fireworks 2 nights in a row
... the generosity of friends to share their front row seats for the fireworks shows
... a week that holds less 
... pausing long enough to be grateful for the moments

Sunday, July 03, 2011

and we danced...

"Please pray.  Just pray."

Not so long ago... just a few years... a phone call one evening.  A mother's broken heart begging me to pray for restoration... for healing... for family.

... and we prayed... much.

He is faithful!  Tonight we celebrated a daughter's wedding but so much more.  A celebration of restoration... of healing... of family.

... and we danced... much.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
There is a time for everything, 
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

  a time to be born and a time to die, 
   a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
  a time to kill and a time to heal, 
   a time to tear down and a time to build, 
  a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,