Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bits and Pieces #17

  • I am a grammar freak.  I know this and I know it's annoying to others around me (it's annoying to me quite often!), but I can't help it.  Grammar mistakes usually jump out at me and drive. me. crazy.  Keeping that in mind, imagine me at the Mommy and Me class I teach.  We sing songs, play with instruments and dance a bunch (I'm super good at the dancing part - ha!).  Recently I was singing one of the songs with an egg shaker with the kids, and the verse ended like this:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slow!"  And oh my word.  I couldn't handle that last word!  So as I sang it, I quietly changed the last word, though I'm sure those around me could hear me and think I'm a nut case.  But I had to do it.  I felt so much better singing it this way:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slowly!".  Whew.
  • Our cute but naughty doggie, Shadow, loves to chomp on all manner of things, as you might have heard.  He loves to eat the tips off of nerf darts, gnaw on pencils, swallow bouncy balls whole and rip apart stuffed animals which have great sentimental value.  Yes, he loves to rip out the eyes and noses of stuffed animals, pull the stuffing out and basically kill the poor defenseless creatures.  But thankfully, my eldest daughter is a saint.  Whenever we catch him in the act (or happen upon a grisly murder scene), we take the stuffed animal directly up to my daughter's room, which doubles as an ER for dying stuffed animals.  Patiently, she restuffs their innards, stitches up their limbs and sews on eye patches when needed.  Seriously, she never complains about the frequent patients that just appear on her desk.  She's a gem, and my youngest son and daughter are reaping the benefits of her kindness.  And Shadow the naughty doggie keeps her in business.
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday, when I am off from work, I have a uniform:  jeans (or sweats if I'm just home), and a Thrivent T-shirt. I have about 5 of these T-shirts (I admit some of my teens' shirts have made their way into my drawer).  They are the most comfortable shirts on the planet.  I adore wearing them and find it rather annoying if I have to go somewhere or do something that necessitates me wearing something nicer than one of these shirts.  The older I get, the more I value comfort, and Thrivent T-shirts are my jam (hey - just because I look like a 40-year-old bum doesn't mean I can't talk like a teenager!
  • The weather in the midwest is crazy.  That is all.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Could Not Ask For More

It was late summer, 1999.  I was about two months pregnant with our first child.  I recall vividly standing at our bedroom window, looking out on the birch tree that was right in front of it back then, and out to the yard below.  The weather was beautiful -- almost becoming a bit fall-ish, but not quite.  Warm, with a hint of fall to come.  I had new life growing within me.  I had a husband I cherished, a new home that we were making our own, and a wonderful church family who was welcoming us in those first new years of being there.  The world felt full of promise and I suddenly felt overwhelmed with excitement of what was ahead of us.  A popular song at the time, "I Could Not Ask For More", by Edwin McCain came to mind, and boy did I feel that sentiment.  I had so much!  I felt as if my cup was overflowing exponentially. A new baby -- a burgeoning family, which was what I had been dreaming of and praying for my whole life.  As the song replayed in my head, I felt like my heart might burst.

. . .these are the moments I thank God I'm alive,
These are the moments I'll remember all my life.
I've got all I've waited for,
And I could not ask for more.

So many joys had been afforded me at only 26!  There was so much on the horizon, and even though I couldn't quite imagine the life ahead, I had this overwhelming feeling that it would be beautiful.

That was more than 17 (!) years ago, and so many of those dreams have come true.  My family has continued to grow and bless me.  Of course, life is not perfect, and there have been trials, pain, loss, frustration and moments where I was ready to throw in the towel.  But as I look back on my young self, with so much ahead of me, it makes me smile.  I knew something great was about to happen - we were on the cusp of the family years, but I couldn't quite imagine how it would actually look. "I could not ask for more" was exactly how I felt.  That I had been blessed so greatly at the moment, how could I ask for anything more? But here I am, 17 plus years later, and we have humbly asked for more over the years as we have been open to children.  God continues to provide for us in ways I never could have imagined.
If I could go back and talk to that young gal of 26, I would tell her, "There is so much more ahead!  This feeling you're having - it is so real.  God will continue to provide for you in ways bigger than you could ever dream.  Yes, there will be some pain along the way, but God will work His glory through it.  His plans are always good, and He will walk with you every step of the way.  Enjoy these moments, soak them in, and understand:  life just keeps getting richer."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Vocation and Sacrifice and Holiness

My day yesterday:

Get up at 5:30, get myself and all the kids ready.
Leave at 6:55.
Drop older two off for high school bus.
Get to work at 7:15.
Teach 3/4-year-olds until 3:00.
Leave work at 4:00.
Get home and sit at island helping with homework.
Start dinner at 4:30, while cleaning up kitchen of stray items.  Calm child who is having a meltdown.
Serve dinner at 5:15, and eat quickly myself.
Leave at 5:30 to pick up high schoolers.
Arrive back home at 6:40 because they were running late.
Leave with eldest at 6:50 to go to theater.
Go to meeting at church late at 7:15.
Pick up eldest at theater at 9.
Get home at 9:15 and work on grocery list, dishes, kitchen clean up, laundry.
Fall into bed at 10:45.

Maybe you can relate to my day.  Your day probably didn't look just like mine, but maybe it was full and busy and exhausting. Maybe you spent your day serving others.  Maybe you stayed home with your little ones and felt like you got nothing accomplished.  Maybe you worked all day in a job that feels unfulfilling.  Maybe you spent your day in a job you love! Or maybe you were afforded a day of leisure -- of spending time doing what refreshes and renews you.

No matter how you spent your day, likely some (if not much of it) felt very ordinary, full of minutiae, even boring or frustrating.  I know my days often feel that way.  Just a to-do list that never ends.  Laundry, taxiing children, work, cleaning, dishes, paperwork. . .it can feel as if I am drowning.

I recently read this passage that resonated with me so.  The idea of vocation has long been something that has fascinated me.  That God would work in our lives, and even more, do HIS work in our lives -- our seemingly very ordinary, mundane existence -- amazes me.

. . ."For all their [lay people] works, prayer and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne - all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Our ordinary lives are made holy in Christ!  Our every day sufferings, pain, minutiae, joys, chores, and work actually become a spiritual worship when we offer them up to Christ.

What joy this brings us!  While we might not feel as though our daily lives are anything special, we know that Christ is working in even these moments -- bringing us closer to Him, and often through our example, bringing others to Him as well.

Today I will have a similar day as yesterday.  I don't work today, but I will be working - running errands, doing household chores, ferrying children to and fro. And since today is Valentine's Day, I will close out the day with a special family dinner.  But today I pray that instead of being bogged down in the mire of ordinary life,  that I would see this day and every day as the sacred work Christ has chosen to do in my life.

Great holiness consists in carrying out the 'little duties' of each moment.
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Week in Pictures

Here's a visual summary of my week:

This meme was basically made with me and my daughter in mind.  Note the red and blond hair? (Though I assure you I would NEVER wear pink!).  Many of my items have disappeared into her room...leggings, scarves, socks. hair accessories, hair products, shoes, sweaters...the list goes on.  I suppose I should feel flattered that my teenage daughter thinks my stuff is worthy of "borrowing", right?

One quick scribble and this!  Our "I can't believe it's not butter" becomes the über hilarious "I can't believe it's not butt"!  Butt!  Butt!  Nothing could be funnier than a condiment that is almost butt! 

I got this fitbit flex 2 for freeeeee! Our insurance company pays us for healthy, proactive habits, and I guess they think having a fitbit will help us with those habits.  I'm pretty excited about it - I've wanted one for awhile but didn't feel I could spend the money on it. I'm enjoying tracking my steps, calories, and sleep. The fitbit has confirmed what my husband has been telling me for years - I am a restless sleeper. It tracks how many times I'm restless in the night, how many minutes I'm awake, how long I sleep.  It's pretty interesting and only vaguely unnerving.  #bigbrother

We went to a marriage night at church last night and had a great time.  We laughed, danced and connected - the committee made it a wonderful night.  One of the things we had to do as a couple was create something with play dough that represented our marriage/family.  My husband made the masterpiece above.  Can you guess what it is?  It's our dear old pop-up, where we have spent many weeks together and created countless memories.
  I'm pretty sure the actual pop-up is sturdier than its play dough counterpart.  Hopefully.