Thursday, October 31, 2013

Small Voices

We did the pumpkin thing. Two hours and five pumpkins and a bunch of boys and a wooden block of knives that, when I sent a picture, made my friend cringe.

The boys had stripped their T-shirts and were up to their elbows in orange. We now had jack-o-lanterns. Lop-sided smiles and triangle eyes and a mustache that spread across Mr. Pumpkin in a curling grin.

We also had a mess. A seeds-on-the-floor, mountains of pulp, stringy goodness everywhere kind of deal. Lonny and I were trying to get control of the kitchen again. Every ladle had been used for scooping. Markers, caps off, were covered with slime. It was easier to send the boys to the tubs, rather than have them help...

 We were working in the kitchen when we heard a voice in the dining room. We peered around the corner. Zay sat at the table. He'd gotten himself a slice of banana bread from under the glass dome on the buffet. He had a paper plate. He somehow had gotten himself a mug of milk, too.

 Right in the center of the mess.

"Sit down with me, Dad," he said. Zay smiled and nodded toward a chair. "Talk with me, Dad," he said. "Sit down and talk?"

Lonny scanned the wreckage. He glanced at the grandfather clock. He looked at the sink that bulged with dishes and the counters that would need to be scraped to come clean. Then his gaze settled on his son.

And he smiled.

"Go," I said. "Sit. Listen."

Lonny set his towel on the counter. He took a place at the table with his boy.

The clean-up work, the getting straight to bed, the stack of things to do. It didn't seem to matter that much.

Know me.
Share my heart.

Sometimes from the softest voices come the strongest things.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Wife I Don't Want To Be

I'm standing in my friend's kitchen when I start to drip. Well, not me, really. My handbag. Fat drops of water fall from my bag and splatter on the ground.


I paw through the deep belly of my purse. My checkbook is wet. My lipsticks swim in a puddle. My water bottle is empty and the cap bobs in the tide. I fish around for my wet keys and understand that my personal items will spend the afternoon soaking in the sun.

I look to the floor.

"Let me dry this," I say.  And as I swipe the drops from my friend's hardwood, a verse about a drippy wife comes to mind. And as that verse settles on my heart, I remember the text I'd sent Lonny an hour before.

There's a mouse in the schoolroom. Washing machine croaking.. Engine light on red van. And your children are driving me wild.

Lonny is out of town again. He's busy. I'm busy. Our conversations have been limited. And when I think about it, when I really think, most of my words have sounded the same.

I fall into this pattern sometimes. Lonny, my closest friend, my most safe place, the other half of my heart, often gets the deep complaints. I don't want to pretend with him, or withhold the depths of my life, but there are times when my words, my tone, may leave a little to be desired.

Catch the mouse.
Save the washer.
Fix the van.
Rescue me from the children.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.
Complain. Complain. Fuss. Fuss.

Maybe holding back on the negative stuff, swapping for a few encouraging words, would be a good thing. Maybe uplifting words, rather than a stockpile of frustration, would be pleasing to hear.

I place the towel on the counter. The water is removed from the floor. I'm excited to remove the drips of frustration from my future conversations with Lonny, too.

Sounds good.

Now for the souped-out status of my purse...

A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Proverbs 27:15 NLT

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Lettuce in the Cupboard

I find the lettuce in the cupboard. Shimmied between multi grain crackers and a crumpled bag of Lay's.

It's the pre-washed kind. Lettuce in a bag. Only now it's warm and wilty. It's been there since yesterday.

I'm noticing such things more and more lately. I'm losing things. I'm forgetting things. I think it's the daily rush. There's always a list. There's always a stack. There's always a Top One Hundred Things To Do.

I pull the lettuce from the cupboard and toss it in the trash. Suddenly I'm laughing. I'm remembering last week when my sweet mama came to the boys' soccer game wafting lemons. The furniture polish had been in the bathroom. She styled her hair, reached for hairspray,  and misted her head with Pledge.

Not much hope for a gal like me. But I'm smiling just the same.

Maybe it's too much input. Too many things churning in my head. Maybe I'm distracted or my mind is fogging with forty-something age. I'm not sure. But somewhere between the lettuce in the cupboard and the next hundred things I'll do, there's a prayer:

Lord, help me to take my time with the important things. Time in Your Word. Time with my husband. Time with my boys.

Lord, help me put the important things in the right places. My energy. My talents. My service. My hours.

Lord, let me deal with myself with grace when my efforts fall short.

And Lord, keep me smiling, as laughter is a gift.

Just then a bevy of boys bursts around the corner. "Mom, what's for dinner?" echoes through the halls.

I'm not sure. It won't be salad.

The lettuce went warm in the cupboard.

But everything will be just fine.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What I Found on Saturday

Logan and I took a day trip on Saturday. We filled the gas tank and headed north. We found that the river valley was decorated for fall.

We found a roadside flea market, and I found a green rabbit cookie jar with a smile that made me smile.

We found a restaurant with crispy crust pizza and an antique store in a former opera house. Logan found an old window pane, and I found a kitchen stool with a funky retro print.

I found a fishbowl with an unusual shape, and then we found a coffee shop and eggnog lattes. And later in the day we found our way home.

We found many things on Saturday, but the most important treasure, the thing that moved my heart, was the understanding that no matter how much our children grow, even when we blink and a babe becomes a boy and then a young man, time shared, one on one, is a gift.

Time to laugh. Time to smile. Time to share. Time to be quiet. Time to appreciate the grace and goodness in the relationship that we have.

What a blessing I found on Saturday!

It's one I plan to keep.

Lord, thank you for time, carved and created, with my growing sons. Amen.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dogs, Boys, and Bible Truth

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Lonny and I took the boys on an outing last weekend. Logan stayed home to study. When we returned, he was still at the dining room table, books piled high. Flash, our greyhound boy, was sleeping at his feet.

"Oh," I said. "Sweet. Flash kept you company. What a peaceful thing."

"Not quite," Logan said. He looked up from his books. "First I found him in the school room chewing on the easel. Then he gnawed the corner off a book."

I bit my lip. Flash can be a handful.

"He went upstairs and nabbed Gabe's sock monkey. Then he went back to the school room to attack the flannel board."

"No," I said. "Tell me he didn't eat the letters." We use our flannel board for phonics. It's a staple in our school day.

"I saved them," he said. "But the vowels were stuck to his feet. You should know I chased him around the house to retrieve lowercase a."

"Thanks," I said.

Hard to believe, this quiet curl of a dog, face resting on my son's feet, can cause such a stir. He's quite different from our first greyhound, Sis. She's gentle. Still. Stretches in the sun like a cat. Her favorite place is in the hall closet. She'd never gnaw a book or swipe a vowel.

These dogs are crazy different.

But we love them just the same.

It's like our sons, really. No two are alike. There are similarities that stretch beyond the physical, but mostly they are as varied as can be. One is most at ease in a quiet spot with a book in hand. One thrives on adventure. One has a natural sense of humor that can brighten any day. Some are athletic. Some enjoy music.Some are quiet in a crowd. Some enjoy the spotlight. Some are easy. Reserved. A couple of others are spirited, and like Flash, keep things lively by stirring the pot.

They are individuals. Crafted differently from the inside out. Not one comes close to being a carbon copy of the other. But these very different boys, with their unique gifts and challenges and shortcomings and abilities, are alike in the most kind of ways...

each is a gift, a treasure, a heritage, a reward.

I know it in  my mother-heart,

and the Bible tells me so.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blog Break Today

Dear Friends,

I hope that you're enjoying a beautiful fall day.

I'm going to take a blog break, but I'll be back on Thursday.

See you then!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crazy Normal

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

Crazy is our new normal. With two teenage boys and three little boys, our family is in perpetual motion - to the baseball diamond, track field, piano lessons, and Bible club. Even though we've limited each boy's activities and try our best to defend our family time, it seems that we're in a constant state of flight.

"Embrace it. Roll with it," my husband, Lonny says. "It's going to be like this for a while."

He's right. It's likely that life will continue to careen full-throttle forward before it slows down. But I remembered the still, quiet days that our family used to enjoy. I missed our long walks through the park when we clutched the boys' little hands and took time to feel the sun on our shoulders. I longed for the lazy Saturday afternoons under the oak in our backyard, when towhead boys built forts of sticks and castles of sand. I wanted to slip back a few years, when busyness was the exception and not the rule.

One night, after a particularly full day and an evening of Little League games, our family gathered on the porch for ice cream. Two parents, two teens, and three small boys piled on one old swing and a couple of rocking chairs.

We were together, in one place, for a small slice of time.

The moon was full. The Mississippi River, flowing past our home, was smooth as glass. The creak of the swing was the only sound. Lonny's arm draped across my shoulders in the comfortable way it had for twenty years. I wrapped my own arms around the son who sat on my lap and breathed deeply to inhale his little-boy scent - dirt and sweat and a hint of Tide.

My heart was still and content.

I realized that while crazy is our new normal, God is faithful to provide blessings along the way. They may look different from before, but they are still there - even if they're in the form of a single moment on the porch, when Rocky Road runs in sweet rivers down small, summer-brown arms, and the night drapes our porch and frames our family.

Maybe I just needed the eyes to see.

Lord, you are faithful to provide everything that my family needs. In a crazy, busy time of life, help me to appreciate the quiet times and see your blessings. Amen.

As printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tasty Tuesday at Sozowomen

Dear Friends,

Happy October!

I'd like to share last Tuesday's post at Sozowomen - a recipe for pumpkin pie pound cake. It's a family

Thanks for joining me. I'll look forward to posting Monday about little something I learned this afternoon while teaching my boys (funny how that works, huh?).

Have a blessed weekend!