Wednesday, October 23, 2013

on savoring and sequins (in the bathroom)


You too?

I'm not the only one who drives a letter to the post office so it can go out in today's mail so I can have ten minutes of peace?

[okay, peace is a nebulous concept, hard to put your arms around, but in my book, it's children restrained by the law of seatbelt usage and Matt Maher and Audrey Assad with Hayley on the background vocals belting out Lord, I Need You]

You don't?

So it's just me.  That's okay.

Savor the moments and slow down everyone says, you know, your mom, your grandma, Ann Voskamp's facebook posts, Jesus Calling (I read Jesus Calling and then I can't remember what I read five minutes later, but I'm pretty sure it was slow down and don't hurry).

I savor about one moment per week.

I showed Eli what sunshine patches on the floor were this week.  We sat on the floor in a huge square of sunlight and I made his little hand feel the temperature difference between the sun and the shadow.  It was very sweet to sit there and wiggle our toes together.  I should probably do it more often.

It should be more often.

Like wayyyy more often.

Instead I am annoyed by noise and irritated by the child reading the news over my shoulder while loudly crunching on a carrot stick and impatient with childish arguments.

Stop. Savor.  Yeah.  Sometimes.

I teach - it's a full-time job.  I get done teaching and all of the home stuff is waiting for me, patiently, it hasn't gone anywhere at all.  Some weeks teaching our children is glorious and heady and just such a privilege and other weeks you wonder if everyone is getting the short end of the stick.  We have a life outside all this and sometimes that life is super rewarding and other times it's just plain a ton of work.

I was driving home from AWANA tonight, stopping to check on a house issue that Daniel + tenant were working on, going home to dishes piled and laundry spread on the living room floor.  God. . . I just need a little bit of encouragement.  Please.  Just a little something pouring in.

I put Eli to bed and we read about the 9 little "bunkeys" that were Curious George's previous family- before the Man With The Yellow Hat- the things you learn.  I didn't even know. 

And then the kids were in our bedroom, breathless.  They had hot coffee and my Philip Yancey book that I am almost done with and book marks made from their looper loom. 

Mom, just stay here, please.  Ok? Don't come out.

I know it's  a shameless ploy to stay up a bit later but I'm too tired to care and oh coffee and Yancey sound too good to be true.

A little bit later they're back with careful notes and instructions: go to the pumkins.

I tiptoe down to the coffee table in the living room.  The laundry is gone (probably behind the couch, but who cares) and all the toys and library books are picked up.  The note next to the pumkins says: go to the appels and pumkins.

The dining room table is clean and dinner dishes left in the pre-church scramble are all cleared away.  The only thing on the table is my silver tiered cupcake platter filled with apples and mini pumpkins.  The note next to it reads: go to where your shoes are.

Oh my kitchen is so clean! The dishwasher is running and their faces are beaming.  The shoes are straightened and neat and my last instruction reads: go to the toilet

Um okay.

So my elaborate treasure hunt ends at the clean toilet, with a note on the lid declaring how much fun of a mom I am,  signed by "Jake" and "Cambria". . . . and the best part. . . . a whole scattering of sparkly sequins sprinkled around the toilet. . . for pizazz, I suppose, the hurrah of the treasure hunt.

I want to die laughing.  It's all so funny.  The toilet, the sequins, my request to God for encouragement, my children's happiness, that God answered with my kids. . .

My heart is warmed from the inside out and we sit at the dining room table and eat microwave s'mores and microwaved cookie dough-turned-cookies in the glow of our clean house and our pumkins and appels.

Thanks, God, for my sequined toilet surprise.  You're pretty creative. 

 Yeah, I'm savoring.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

crescent roll egg bake

This is a great super easy recipe from my friend Phoebe:
it's the go-to dinner on a super hectic night
or we suddenly have overnight company breakfast
or let's just have a special brunch
kind of yummy treat
and with crescent rolls it's hard to go wrong.
1 tube crescent rolls
2 cups  shredded cheese
12 eggs, beaten, salt and pepper to taste
*see variations
Unroll crescent rolls in greased 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle with cheese, pour eggs over.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until eggs are puffy and done.
*Phoebe sprinkled sausage as the base, then crescents, then cheese.
*I made it all summer with crescents, cheese, and then precooked bacon strips lined up on top
*pictured below: fresh veggies, fried potatoes, sausage, cheese, bacon, then crescents + eggs = perfect quick dinner with a big green salad!

Monday, October 21, 2013

. . .and life itself is grace

- Frederick Buechner, Now and Then,  [and taken from Philip Yancey's Soul Survivor: how my faith survived the church]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(the vision weekend)

These are things I heard my husband say this summer:

I want to go see Mark in Haiti this winter.  (best man in our wedding, Mark and Daniel have been friends for. . .ever)

Hey there's a FEMA class I wanna take.  It's like a week long.  (was it in Arizona? Louisiana? don't remember- it wasn't close, that's for sure.)

I think we should go see Jake and Loren, that would be really fun. (Hello, New Jersey)

Since this is our ten year, we oughtta book a week on a deserted island. (um, sign me up!)

among other items.

Daniel consistently logs 90+ hour work weeks and adding travel to that schedule just sounded insane to me.  I could feel my little security/pressure gauge rising as I logged in my head the logistics of these super great travel ideas that would leave me a) alone or b) snowed under in packing and unpacking alone.

I suggested said that we needed to sit down with a calendar and log this out so that all of these trips didn't end up back to back with all of us going crazy. 

Out of very short sighted and selfish reasons, one of our greatest lightbulb moments as a couple happened:

the vision weekend.

We were already planning to go away for a Thursday/Friday night in August to see Tim Hawkins with my fam so we just tacked on an extra night to our hotel stay intending to do some planning and scheduling together.

As we went through small group studies this summer we were challenged to strengthen our family and purposefully use and enjoy the gifts God has given us. We were given a lot to think about and bring to the planning table: beyond the calendar, what does God want us to do? 

Over dessert in our living room with Adam and Nicole one night, we shared our plan of going away to plan.

"That's cool," Adam said.  "Someone told me once that you shouldn't plan your next year, rather write down how you want the end of your life to look and then plan backwards from there. . . like, if I want  ____________ to be in place when I'm 90, what do I need to be doing at age 50, age 40, age 30 to make ____________ happen?"

We looked at each other; I saw the little glint in my uber-organized husband's eyes and I knew that we would be writing out end of life plans on our trip.

As our church has gone through a lot of change this summer, the leadership has been using a Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) model for charting out things we need to improve and work on.  Each member has had a chance to contribute to this list.  It's been an incredibly positive and energizing formula and we decided to let our kids do it for our family.

About a week before we went on the vision weekend I sat down with the kids and gave them a chance to voice our own strengths and weaknesses.  They talked, I wrote.  It was good.  It was enlightening.  I wrote as fast as I could and filed the results to talk about with Daniel.

Our long awaited calender --> vision --> priority evaluation weekend arrived and we started off early and motivated, not deterred by our first Hotwire bomb hotel choice (let's just say it was heavy on the maroon carpet)

We found this awesome little corner, maroon carpet aside, to spread our stuff out.

We started with these questions:

What motivates people?

What motivates us?

What are our dreams?

We wrote and dreamed and planned for hours.  It was good. We looked at our children's concerns (we don't want to see you argue) and what they loved (family mealtimes). We looked at our own dreams.  It was exhilarating to find how much God has taught us and how closely our dreams are aligned. 

I think in marriage, men and women fear sitting down and actually talking about their dreams because they might find out that he wants to go to the moon and she wants to never ever move.  You know, if we talk about our dreams, they might drive us apart. 

But not talking about them isn't the answer either:  the underlying tension of not being united causes a different set of problems. 

At the end of the trip we had scribbled through many legal pad pages, prayed together and separately, sought God's leading and His desires, listened to music that was currently impacting each of us, written desires for when we're old and gray, roughly planned out goals for our family over the next 5-10 years and written a family mission statement.

Really writing a mission statement was probably the most fun and we both felt dumb for not doing it sooner.  We had one for our business before it ever really started.  Churches have them. Anyone wanting to succeed at what they are doing has to filter a lot through the sieve of does this fit in the grand scheme of what we're about?

And what do families have?

Well. . . we have marriage vows.  Those are good.

And then you have a positive pregnancy test and all of a sudden you are hurled headlong into the tyranny of the urgent.

Never, never, do we want to view bending to tie little shoes and reading I am a Bunny as unimportant.  But without vision, sometimes you wonder if tying shoes is important.  Without any plan for our children or where we are going as a family it is far too easy to for us to be victims of our self-induced busy-town, to quote Richard Scarry. 

Writing a mission statement for our family has been so freeing.  It helps us understand what to say yes to and what to kick off the to-do list.  It helps us understand what we're about.

Planning for us is held very loosely.  We are well aware that all can be wiped away in a moment; we also understand peace and prosperity are poor teachers.  Planning what we will do next year? That's a concept we can only embrace because of great healing and believing that the heart of God is kind.  Our dreams and plans are not about control or telling God what we're going to do for Him, rather not wanting to waste the life He's given and prioritizing well.

And at the end of all those plans, we say, ultimately, God, these are all Yours. You can change anything You want.

And at the end of the weekend, we realized that while we never got to the calendar, we had accomplished something much more important:  we came away with unity, with dreams, with hope for our marriage and family, with great excitement about what God is doing and so much joy in joining Him.  Way better than charting dates and times.

We'll get to the calendar eventually.  :)

typical of us, whenever we find something that works, we're so excited and want everyone to be able to share the experience. the vision weekend is no exception.  here are some starter ideas. . . at the very least, good questions to ask people you love.

Quiet, Peace, No Distractions: This doesn't have to mean going out of town and getting a hotel, but that's what worked for us.  It's the only way to peel our noses off the grindstone. ;)

What are we learning about right now?

Who is impacting us?

What is the opportunity right in front of you?

Based on current performance would you trust you with this opportunity?

Am I preparing for the next opportunity?

Am I ignoring an opportunity because the income does not match the work load?

If you could do anything for God, what would it be?

How do you envision the end of your life?

What motivates you?

What drains you?

What do I/you love doing?

*Listen to great music. Great music is always a subjective term but here are the songs impacting our vision weekend: Believer (AudioA) + Jesus, Move (Big Daddy Weave)

Sample from our papers:

Family Mission Statement 2013/2014

we’re not afraid, we’re believers

Jesus, we’re alive to glorify Your name


We desire to raise a family producing effective children who will make others’ lives better through Christ; strong enough as a family to be able to open our doors and step out into the world that is broken.  We want our family to be a safe place where each one is loved unconditionally, where we meet and satisfy one another’s deep relationship needs. We want others to feel welcome, safe and loved in our home and family.

Go write your own story!