Saturday, October 1

Stone of Help

For the longest time I thought “Ebenezer” was a cup. Not just any cup, mind you, one of those old drinking vessels that might also be called goblet or chalice.

My reasoning, you see, was all based on the hymn, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.” To my little girl ears, it sounded like someone was proposing a toast, glass in hand to having made it so far.

I know better now, but I still feel as if I am far more likely to toast how far I’ve made it than to set a large stone on end.

But truthfully, I’m not very likely to do either. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not slighting the role God has had in bringing me as far as I am. And it’s not a lack of gratitude that turns me into being one of the nine lepers who never returned to thank Jesus for his healing. (At least, not always.)

Instead, I’ve found that many times I don’t want to draw attention to what God has done for me because I worry it will make others feel as if I am intimating that I am a favorite of God’s. Instead of using stories of God’s care to encourage others (as the Bible prompts us), I think it will just come across as one more instance of condemnation. Instead of an attempt to affirm success as having nothing to do with my efforts, maybe it will seem a shallow misguided soapbox on how the rest of the world really just needs to let go and let God.

And then there’s a second layer of worry. What happens if I broadcast God’s provision for me and then tomorrow that method of provision dries up? Will it make me look foolish for having believed God was helping me?

It’s taken me awhile to realize that no one expects me to have been brought over the Jordan river on dry land. No duh, right? But I can’t expect God to help me in the exact same way that He helped Joshua or any of the other generations of Bible times or any of the generations of modern times. So when I hear someone’s story about how God worked it out for them to live in an apartment with their own washer and dryer, I shouldn’t feel like three-day old milk-sogged Cheerios, forgotten in a household too busy to catch up on dishes. Instead, I need to look back at the ways God has helped me. And when I reflect on those ways and get the little zippy high that invariably comes when thinking about how awesome God has been to me, I need to remember that it wasn’t because I use essential oils and get my children to bed on time and always greet my tired husband with a spotless home (or whatever else I might mistake my success to be caused by, because heaven knows those three aren’t true).

No, when I take a few moments to wrestle a stone upright (or more appropriately, wrestle words onto a page), I am merely commemorating God’s help up to this point. And certainly, if He has helped me until now, I can trust Him to help me still even if it may not look the same. And if, by chance, you happen upon a place where I’ve piled words all up on each other so you ask, What are these words here for? What did someone mean by putting these words altogether like this?

Then I will say, this far the Lord has helped me.  

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Sunday, August 7

Eight Photos of Us

This week marks 8 years since SOS asked me to marry him. In honor of that occasion, here are eight photos of us.
Our first picture together. At my sister's wedding, two months after I finally admitted we were dating... and six months after our first date.

In front of the Beverly Hills Court House after getting our marriage license. Because starting something off in Beverly Hills is much more glamorous than in Northridge... or maybe just the lines are shorter.

Our wedding day.

Dinner at our first home (our Honeymoon House). Notice the yogurt cups and pie plates we are using as our fine china and our high quality furniture.

Our first meal in our new house. We had some work to do. :)

First international travel together. Notice how well we communicated about what kind of picture we were taking. 

What we look like through our children's eyes.

And proof that every decision we make as parents is met with joy and enthusiasm by the children.

Thursday, July 28

Lazy Days of Summer

You may wonder what it is about a Wisconsin summer that warrants nary a post. Honestly, I have no idea. Around about Memorial Day, when the air was still chilly enough on some days to grab a jacket, we packed up kids and car to drive nearly 900 miles to spend our lazy days of summer in Maryland.

Let me correct that. The kids and I get lazy days of summer. SOS is commuting approximately five hours a day to a summer internship just outside of D.C. He certainly knows how to live it up, doesn't he?

Having a summer internship away from our student housing in Wisconsin was always part of the plan in this great adventure of sending SOS back to school. I've lost track of the number of people who have given me looks to indicate that we are crazy, but I have a little bit of research to share with you on the matter.

At the end of this summer I will celebrate my 34 years. Provided you don't count my years in Southern California as one long summer, I've had 34 summers.

With me so far?

Of those 34 summers, 21 of them have involved either A) spending six weeks or more in a location other than where I spent the school years bookending that summer or B) a move in residence... or C) both.

So you see, it's not so much that I'm crazy. I'm habituated.

Recently I discovered a pocket of thought on the internet championing the idea of giving young children a broader understanding of the world. From recommendations for reading stories from around the world to "world-schooling," there seems to be a growing hunger for a more global perspective.

I remember dreaming up plans for cultivating this kind of perspective while I was still in grade school, and further appreciated the value of such things when pursuing my undergraduate degree in intercultural studies. So it really should be no surprise to find myself attracted in some way to the idea of pulling up our family's tent pegs and seeing the world.

But before I get carried away planning an elaborate trip, I remind myself that to a certain degree, I am already living it. This summer I keep having flashbacks to the summer five years ago when we traveled the US by train. Again I found myself in the foyer of Independence Hall, shushing a fussy baby and regretting the great acoustics that turns even an isolated baby squeal into a performance. Again I found myself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, feeding a baby boy who is three weeks shy of walking.
Mama and CutieBabyBoy at Lincoln Memorial, July 2011
Three Kids at Lincoln Memorial, July 2016

With our tent pegs loose, who knows what sights we'll see, where our meanderings will take us?

As far as experiencing a Wisconsin summer, however, the chances look pretty slim. Next year promises to add one more summer to my long list of summers on the road. I'd better enjoy these lazy days of summer while I've got them.

Saturday, May 21

Wisconsin in Spring

Of course it would be a travesty if I were to have posts about every day of Wisconsin Winter and not even one post about Wisconsin in Spring.

So here is that one post.

Can I just affirm that tulips are amazing? Maybe (almost maybe), winter is worth the glory of a city populated by tulips.

Okay, and dandelions. Giant dandelions.

I've decided that if I were to create a crayon color for spring, I would call it Hallelujah Green and it would be that luminous green of a fresh spring leaf.

Periodically, SmilesBabyGirl will wax eloquent about the return of the sun's warmth. "Oh, I love the sun. Don't you just love the sun, Mama? The sun loves us! The sun is warm! The sun is my favorite. I love the sun."

I'm pretty sure the birds are saying the same thing. There are so many of them now! We live near some prime bird-watching spots, so we've gotten to see several kinds that we've never seen before.

It's warm enough that we need a boat to go out on the lake now.
And so, gentle readers, thus ends the long winter (which everyone here tells me was much too mild and short to call a long winter). I found this the other day which goes to show that I am in good company as far as reinterpreting what defines winter.

Thank you for letting me share the dragging days with all of you by way of too many posts about the weather. Here is a big high five for sticking with it (from someone who is an expert on cold weather).


Saturday, May 14

The One Hundred Twenty-Second Day of Winter

Of course it was bound to happen.

I finally took the snow shovel and ice scraper out of the back of the car last night. So of course there was snow today.

I was running errands and kept thinking to myself, "A few weeks of warmer weather and I've gotten soft again. Why am I so cold?" And then I saw white stuff floating down from the sky, and I studied it carefully so as to make sure it was not A) ash B) blossom petals C) dandelion fluff (which have all been airborne since the last snow). Indeed they were snow flakes.

Not enough so as to require the snow shovel, but sufficient to be glad I had not yet packed away all of our winter gear. See? Procrastination (or busy-mommedness) has its benefits sometimes.

SOS and CutieLittleBoy are off to try their luck at fishing, now. If cold temperatures slow fish down, they won't need any hooks. They should be able to reach in and grab any passing fish.

Sunday, April 10

The One Hundred Twenty-first Day of Winter

SOS left before seven this morning to catch a flight to San Diego. When he left, it was snowing.

It would have been helpful to know this before I got the kids out of the house for church. Let's just say I overestimated the certainty of spring arriving this week.

The good news, though, is that when we came out of church with insufficient outerwear, the precipitation that met us was merely rain and not snow.

Saturday, April 9

The One Hundred Twentieth Day of Winter

How can I so easily forget how to dress sufficiently warmly for a bike ride? I did not turn into an icicle during my ride, but that does not mean that nothing else did.

I keep telling myself that this is the week. A year ago, SOS came for a view weekend. He said that when he showed up it still looked very much like winter. By the time he left, however, the trees had a sheen of green. This is the week, Wisconsin. Do you hear?