Sunday, September 25, 2011

To the Summit! (bloody stubs and all)

Wake before sunrise. Eat a hearty breakfast. Dress in layers. Lace your boots. Fill your camelbak with cold water. Strap on your backpack loaded with supplies. Check the map. Hit the trail.

I miss this. Bob and I had six fairly carefree years of marriage before the three little blessings came along. We sometimes ask each other what in the world we used to do back then. Our lives are so full of family activity now. But if I squeeze my eyes shut and concentrate, I can remember what we did:


This included hiking up several of the Rocky Mountains.

We had a dream of reaching the top of all the 14ers of the Rockies--those mountains 14,000 feet and higher.

As of this writing, 48 out of 53 of those 14ers are still untouched by our boots.

But the ones we did climb are pretty cool notches in our belts. Each one gave us different stories to tell and unique learning experiences to put toward the next climb.

And of course each one had that final victorious moment: reaching the peak. It's a thrilling, singular experience to realize you are almost as high on the earth as your feet can take you.
But really, the mountain climbing hasn't ended for us. We're just climbing a different kind of mountain now. It's called Mount Parenthood, and from here, it looks much higher than 14,000 feet. We have a long way to go, but I have hopes and dreams about the summit. I want us to reach the top with children who have grown into confident, happy adults. I want them to know that they are fully loved and to be able to give that love away. I want their hearts to beat in rhythm with their Heavenly Father's heart. I want them to "shine like stars in the universe as they hold out the Word of Life" (from Philippians 2).

We've already completed several legs of this journey: the newborn leg, the two-in-diapers leg, the pre-school leg, the adding-a-third-isn't-that-bad leg, and the deciding-to-homeschool-and-actually-doing-it leg. I figure we're up about 10,000 feet. Making it through the teen years must get you at least 30 or 40,000 feet higher, right? I shudder.

We recently had the joy of taking the three to our old hiking area and showing them them ropes.

Look. Ben praises the Lord we finally made it.

Mountain hiking is good for body, soul, and spirit.
Sometimes it's tough. Sometimes a duck tries to eat your granola bar.

Sometimes you can't believe how many miles you have left to walk.

Sometimes you cut your finger on a pine tree. Blasted pine trees!

And sometimes you just hafta sit down 'cause your feet feel like bloody stubs.

If you are paying attention on your journey, though, you will notice the gifts: like smooth sticks that were made just for your hand, to help you with the walking,

ferns that fill your thirsty soul with heavenly green,

smaller accomplishments along the way that give confidence for what lies ahead,

chipmunks who stand tall and give speeches to tell you how well you are doing,

little girls who offer to carry your backpack for a spell,

bridges safely crossed without incident,

the perfect shade of lavender,

birds to remind you that you can soar, if only you will jump off the edge of your fear,

and then...then, you can see it. You are almost there.

And then you know... for you have lived it,

that beauty is worth the struggle.

Joy is worth fighting for.

What kind of mountain are you facing?

Whatever it is, you can climb it. Be encouraged! Take heart! You are not climbing alone.

God goes with you. He will lead you beside still waters.

He will let you lie down in a green meadow and rest.

His rod and staff will comfort you.

He will anoint your head with the oil of joy.

Your cup will overflow!

His goodness and love will follow you...right up to the summit.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Little Autumn on my Arm

Loving Autumn as I do, I am happy to join Rachel and many others over at Stitched in Color in creating handmade goodness with the colors of the season.

Inspired by the whimsical trees on my son's curtains,

and a favorite book of ours,

I gathered bits of fabric and had some fun.

I can feel the change coming.

God speaks to my heart in this time of goodbyes.

There is a beauty in the dying and the hope that life will come again.

Gray days will come, but not without the brilliant ones that splash us with sunlight and color. And inside is the warmth of the fire that burns, welcoming and comforting.

Gather seeds, little bird, and line your nest with warmth.

And you, little cutie, fly away to a place where you will thrive and remember to come back again.

Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 19, 2011

the day I baked the cookies and my sister sat there watching

I am creaming. Butter and sugar get married and turn fluffy. Flour and oats come to the party. She is sitting in the chair. It's the one people sit in when they want to be close to the magic that happens in my kitchen. She holds her baby and coos to him. The other little people are committing crimes in the basement, but we don't care. It is afternoon, and we are together, like days after school, chatting about nothing and everything. I need to be with her more. She has a way of making me feel funnier than I really am, I think. She's been looking down at her baby. He is still new, and he elicits much examining. Now she tilts her head back, stretches her neck, and looks over at me. I am stirring with more effort now that the chocolate chips are in my dough. "You look like Dad right now," she says. Her observation gives me more pleasure than I am willing to show. I now have one more thing to add to my list of reasons why I really like God: He invented family resemblance. She and my brother do this for me. I do it for them. We remind each other. And it is His way of keeping Dad in our company. I smile and put the first batch in the oven.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


tired, sleepless, wide-eyed, I lay on my bed
looking out my window
eyes free of my artificial lenses
but able to see the moon
full and luminous

without clarity
you look like a dandelion, old moon
ready to be scattered by the gusty blast of a
boy turned tornado

you might be a million shards of light
blown away
never to return to the whole

without warning
a ribbon of fear wraps itself
around my heart

is this what I have done, Father?
have I, with unfocused eyes
seen You as a someone
You are not?

have I, in weakness
believed You to be fragile
easily disseminated by my recklessness?

before the ribbon tightens
my fear becomes a prayer

help me see You
with heart eyes clear and focused faith
that You are solid
a rock
to be

and my lids surrender then to sleep.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (I Corinthians 13:12, NLT)

Linking today with the inspiring eMiLy at

Monday, September 12, 2011

Whittle the Zwittle

I feel it safe to say that God has been the main character in this blog. Supporting roles have been played by amazing family and friends, tiny humans, potatoes, and giant piles of laundry. Occasionally, I have thrown in the made-up word. Made-up words are essential. Every real word has first begun as made-up; some just don't make it past the Dictionary Committee.

For example, my current favorite:

zwittle, n. any large pile of work that is procrastinated, such as laundry, dirty dishes, homework, home-improvement projects, gift-wrapping, ironing, thank-you notes, e-mails, recipe planning, essential shopping, organizing drawers, cleaning out closets, phone calls, appointment setting, bathroom cleaning, vehicle vacuuming, attic de-junking, toenail cutting, etc.

We recently spent a lovely week in the Rocky Mountains where very little zwittle exists. Coming home is always good, but the zwittle here smacked me in the face, and I am still feeling the sting. And so, I have been cheerfully(somewhat) reminding myself that big things get done bit by bit. I can curl up into a little ball of paralyzed inactivity for only so long. I am not an armadillo. And so, I begin by doing one thing. And then another and another. Little by little, I will whittle the zwittle, say I. I will straighten one room, fold one load, write one note, do one thing. Something! Anything! Just do it! I exhort myself.

And I exhort you, too. If you are swamped by zwittle, do one thing. You can do one thing. And doing one thing will give you the courage you need to do the second. Do you remember Nehemiah? He was grieved for the city of Jerusalem, because it's wall was broken down and it's gates were burned when God's people were taken into exile in Babylon. He took it upon himself to oversee the rebuilding of the wall. This overwhelming job of his makes my zwittle look like nothing. In fact, I feel a little silly for even making up the word.

Despite the fact that my work looks like a trip to Grandma's house compared to Nehemiah's, there are times that the devil just tries to drag me down. He tries to convince me that I will never be able to do everything I should be doing. Being overwhelmed by work is real. I think we all feel this way at times.

The devil tried to get Nehemiah down, too. He had some enemies who repeatedly tried to sabotage his efforts. Check out this verse in chapter six: They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed." But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."  I love this! I think the key here is but I prayed. Nehemiah could have quit knowing his life might be in danger. He could have whined. He could have become overwhelmed. But he prayed.

His prayer was simple. He had no time for flowery speeches. He had work to do! Now strengthen my hands. Right to the point. And God helped Nehemiah and the other men. They finished the job in fifty-two days. And we will finish our work, too. You and I. We will get it done. Let's start with a prayer and then one thing. Even just a tiny one. Little by little, we will whittle the zwittle! We will!  Zwittle will not win. We are victorious.

I love you. I am praying for you.

Father, strengthen my hands and the hands of my friends for the work we have before us this day. Strengthen, too, the hands of our brothers and sisters in this country and around the world who carry the burden of rebuilding the areas affected by fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wars. We look to You as our unending source of help.

avandia recall