Saturday, March 27, 2010

crossing the tight rope

I think I need a plan.  I am starting to rack up thoughts, ideas, to do lists, new activities I want to start, old activities I want to continue, unfinished projects I want to finish.  People to see, places to go, things to do.  And, of course, I want to do it all.  I need a plan.

I believe I have mentioned once or twice how much I love to plan.  I love to set goals, I love to create lists and charts, to do lists.  And I also love to create file systems, organize closets and drawers to help me implement all the plans I have made.  I love the saying, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  Words to live by.  I knew I was in the right place when I saw it written on the wall of the school we visited in Kenya.  Everyone around the world knows the truth of that statement.  The problem is...I don't like to actually follow through on the plan.  That is so...tedious, so mundane, so everyday regular life.  I am working on that.

One of our church's stated values is the value of a balanced life.  This past week I have really been wondering what exactly that means.  I thought maybe if I wrote down all I had to balance it would help me visualize better how to balance it all.  Boy was that a mistake.  Do you kow how long the list was?  There is no possible way to balance everything on the list, it is too long.

Of course I know the sunday school answer to the problem of the balanced life, balance it on Jesus.  So simple, so obvious, so not helpful.  I mean conceptually I am a mature enough Christian to understand my need to start and end my day with the Lord, lay my burdons at his feet, trust him to take care of all the things on my to-do list.  I have seen him work in giving me peace when I trust him with the cares of this life.  But after I lay it at Jesus feet all the tasks will still be staring me in the face.

I think it is like "hope".  As I posted a few months ago, when we struggled with infertility I knew I needed hope but just being told to "put your hope in the Lord" is so meaningless when you have no hope.  It is conceptual not practical so there is no clear path to doing it or achieving it.  There is no clear path to balancing your life on the Lord.  You have to journey through it.  For me with hope it was changing my thinking that created hope for me, allowing God to change my thinking.  And I suspect the same will be true of balance.

So I begin the search for balance in my life.  Balancing my children, my husband, my home, my ministry, my friends, my work, my healthy, my recreational activities, my workouts, my plans, goals and dreams and of course my relationship with the Lord.

One thing I love to do is read and hear about other people's journeys and ideas.  Recently I heard Susie Larson speak on her new book called, Growing Grateful Kids.  Future post on that to come but she has also written a book on balance and a friend of mine bought a DVD of her speaking on the topic.  I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say and the path she might begin me on toward discovering balance in my life.  Let the search begin!

Monday, March 22, 2010

joy kill

Sometimes my old computer just sucks the joy I find out of blogging, surfing the web, checking my emails and looking at my photos.  It takes forever to just switch from one screen to the other even if I am not doing anything on either of them.

Does anyone have some extra computer memory they could spare?  Apparently I don't.

(If the computer hadn't already sucked the life out of me I bet I could come up with an entire devotional thought related to this subject but alas my mind has grinded to a halt along with the computer.  Which might be a sign we are getting to close.)

and then he was no more

All that is left of our Christmas snowman is his eyes and mouth made out of coal, his celery nose and his arms.  He entertained us through the winter but I can't say we are sorry to see him go.

Last Sunday as the warmth began to decend upon us here in the frozen tundra I found Isabelle working away on the little snow left in the shadow of our house (now long gone).

What is she doing?

Making soup in a rusty old firepit of course.

And loving every minute of it.

We have all been so much brighter and happier the past week.  Here's to springtime in Minnesota.  Is there any chance it will last?

Monday, March 15, 2010


Isarella was all ready for the ball when she noticed the mess left by her mother on the kitchen floor.  Knowing she couldn't go to the ball with the house a mess she got out the broom to clean up the kitchen.

And once she got started with the sweeping there is just no reason to stop until you have also mopped the whole house.


As she left her sparking house on the way to the ball she left not her glass slippers but a few glassy footprints in the wet tile floor.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To Write or Not To Write

I started this blog over a year ago with much trepidation.  I expressed in that first post my secret desire to be a writer and thought it might be fun to see what came out of my head here in blog world.  I wasn't even sure I was going to tell anyone I had started it assuming that if I didn't tell anyone nobody would ever read it and I could sort of get it out of my system without having to be vulnerable.  Of course the reality is that I can't keep a secret, certainly not one about myself, and so I told my sister within hours of publishing that first post.  She doesn't get my weird insecurity at all and insisted I go for it, dictated the topic of a couple of my first posts and as I recall published the link on her facebook page.  She also started her own blog as did my mom as a result. 

All of that certainly gave me a lot more confidence to go for it here in blog world sharing oh so many random pieces of information from deep to pointless.  As evidenced by my snowman post the other day, I can always just whip up a post on nothing any time I hit a dry patch.  I am having fun writing here and recieving positive feedback on my posts.  Believe it or not I also get a lot of people who read the random emails I send them telling me that I should be a writer just based on those.  Email readers tell me I am funny...Do you think my blog is funny?  I feel like I am funnier in email than in my blog...Well that is another discussion and getting a little off my point...

Today I have another secret that I wasn't going to tell anyone for a while but here I am writing about it a few hours later.

I was chatting with one of those friends who thinks I am a funny email writer telling her I felt like God was preparing me for some next step in my life as Isabelle gets near school age but I didn't really know what it was.  We discussed various careers I could embark on but that didn't really feel like the direction I was being pulled.  Then I mentioned the writing thing and my friend got all excited and said I should definately pursue that going on and on about what a great and funny writer I am. (She actually used the words "modern day Erma Bombeck".  Really?) She really pumped me up and by the time she left I was seriously thinking about it for the first time in my life.  I picked up a book at the library about writing and perused a few books while out at Barnes and Noble.  I told my husband who was also extremely supportive of the idea.

I know it might sound a little weird but I really want to write magazine articles.  Yes, yes maybe a book someday would be an ultimate dream but seriously I would think I hit big time if a magazine of any size published something I wrote and actually paid me for it.  So that has become the big goal.

How is this done?  I still barely know.  If you know someone who is a writer and has a clue where I start please send them my way.  In the mean time I have some research to do this spring in preparation for the big step I am taking this summer...I signed up for a writers conference! 

A friend of mine who wants to write a book and actually launch a whole ministry was planning to attend and telling me about it.  Knowing my secret desire she had suggested in passing that I should come too but I am sure never thought I would consider taking her up on it.  And when she said it in passing I never thought I would consider taking her up on it.  But here I am a couple months later all signed up to drive to North Carolina the end of July for She Speaks Conference.  Have I lost my mind?  Totally possible.  But I just really want to live my life pursuing my dreams rather than just talking about them.  I don't want to wonder if I could have been a writer but just passed on the opportunity.

Actually that is a little of what I am speaking on at our women's retreat, following God's leading in your life.  I am planning to encourage all those women to listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their lives and act. I am planning to tell them that if God is in it whatever He asks of us will be doable because He has already prepared the way.  So that is what I am believing, God is preparing the way for me in writing.  I don't know where he is taking me, and I suspect it will not be a short road, but I am excited to walk down it and see where it leads.

Anyone else want to come?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A New Girl

My son is "special".  Actually I think my son may be a typical teenage boy.  Clueless.  But he is learning.  I think one of the hardest parts of parenting this age is watching them run toward disaster and realizing the only thing you can do is stand by them and help clean up the mess when it is over.  That is certainly what I thought I would be doing at this point but somehow no matter how big a disaster it seems like it is going to be Jake always lands on his feet and comes out smelling like a rose.  I usually find this trait a little annoying in people but since he is my son it seems a little less annoying on him.

What am I talking about?  2 girls, who are friends, battle for my son's affections and at the end of it everyone remains friends.  It could have been messy but we tried to give him wise counsel and prayed he would take it.  In the end he did choosing the girl we preferred (although both were on the approved list).  And the other girl who had asked him to her prom, he thought as friends, was let down easy and with plenty of time to find another date.  I am sure there are some hurt feelings but in the end I believe all will remain friends.

So who is this new girl.  Her name is Jade.  Jake first became friends with her at his first Jr. High summer camp with the church he attends on Wednesday night.  He was just about to enter 7th grade and had become aware of girls that previous year.  The night of pick up they bring all the kids and parents together and show a slide show of the week as well as telling us a little about what the kids learned at camp.  I am sitting next to Jake watching the slides mostly of kids I don't know pass by and he leans over and quickly says something in my ear.  "What??", I say.  "I met those girls", he says. At least 3 more slides have now passed.  What girls?!  A minute later he says it again and again I am too late.  I wanted to stand up and yell, "STOP THE SLIDE SHOW!  MY SON MET SOME GIRLS AND I MISSED IT!"  Jade was one of those girls.  I did eventually meet those girls and Jake has remained friends with all of them (in fact that other girl in the above senario was also one of them as was his first girlfriend.  Clearly a fateful event in his life.)

So we are on to new adventures.  Jade only lives a few blocks from our house and can already drive.  This is turning into a new experience for us as they have already gone on several friend dates where she picked him up and we didn't have to coordinate our schedules to accomodate his.  How long this new relationship will last and what new adventures it will take all of us on I do not know but it certainly will not be boring.

OH and I learned a new phrase for all of you trying to keep up with teen lingo. FBO stands for "facebook official".  Although Jake and Jade decided to be "in a relationship" on Tuesday they were not FBO until Wednesday night after Jake had talked to the other girl.  I guess now after this post it is also MBO, mom's blog official. ha ha.  OK those are the kind of lame things I say to Jake and his friends to solidify my status as old foggy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parlez-Vous Francais?

Now that I have a 5 year old you all must know what is next...Kindergarten.  Yes Isabelle will be in kindergarten this coming fall. And I am not going to lie to you, I have really been looking forward to it.  I don't really believe in the necessity of pre-school so I have yet to get any sort of extended break from her at this point and that is exactly how I like it.  However, I do think about it times...a few times a week...daily...hourly.

I have my heart set on sending her to the french immersion program in our community.  A free public school that offers her the opportunity to become fluent in a second language.  A non-traditional approach to learning that really opens up the understanding of language in general.  I am not an expert on the pros and cons of immersion programs but what I do know I like and sending her there is my number 1 choice.  Actually I don't even have a number 2 choice.

Unfortunately I am not the only one in my community that thinks this is a great idea and so each year they choose by lottery who will get in and who will be put on the waiting list.  John and I spent our date night at the french school open house and I quickly popped my application in the mail when I recieved it.  I felt confident that I would get in.  I mean I really, really want to get in...We didn't get in.  We are number 32 on the waiting list...devestation.  What to do?

I knew from talking to friends whose children are in the school that they will take kids off the waiting list through 1st grade.  One of my neighbors got in mid year and made the decision to pull her son out of one school and move him to the french school.  While he is doing fine now I wasn't sure I wanted to risk that difficult decision so I have made the decision to homeschool kindergarten.  I spent a few days mourning the whole experience but am slowing warming to the idea and getting excited about it.

Since Isabelle really is just about ready for 1st grade in many ways I figure I only need to spend about 30 minutes a day reading to her and working on handwriting. Her birthmother happens to be fluent in french and so we are talking about a weekly french lesson over the phone. I actually have so many neighbors with children in the french school that I could probably get enough information from them to recreate the program myself!

I actually homeschooled Jake for Kindergarten and 1st grade.  It was fun.  I wanted a break from him too but I also knew he needed to be home with me.  While I don't feel that same conviction about Isabelle and will be finding a second option for 1st grade if she doesn't eventually get in the french school, I am definately feeling that spark of excitement I had with Jake begin to ignite.  I have had to tell homeschooling friends to stop telling me about various things they are doing because I refuse to actually get excited about homeschooling and see it as a long term solution.  ONE YEAR ONLY!  I know, famous last words.

Monday, March 8, 2010

There is nothing new under the sun

I am going to be speaking at our church's upcoming women's retreat.  I have never done anything like this before and I am both excited and terrified.  My talk is sort of the introduction for the whole weekend with others giving other talks throughout the day on various subjects related to the theme I will present.  The theme is based on the post I did about the quote, "it takes so little to be above average."  I am feeling pretty good about what I have come up with so far.  I have significantly expanded on the idea from my original post to incorporate the idea of understanding "above average" to be defined not by the world but by Christ and our relationship with Him.  Who am I in Christ?  Plus talking about how we compare ourselves to others and set a wrong standard for oureselves.  More details in the coming weeks.  I don't want to give it all away before the retreat!

One of the speakers is going to speak on seeing God in the mundane of everyday life.  I am really looking forward to that one.  Yesterday as I was busy cleaning up the house for Isabelle's 5th birthday party and thinking about how the party would go I started asking myself "what makes what I am doing different than everyone else?"  What gives my life meaning?  I am certainly not going to give the best birthday parties, my house will never be the cleanest, my kids will never be the best, I will never be the best.  What makes my life significant?  Obviously the answer is my relationship with Christ.  Something that had been sorely neglected the past couple weeks while I was coincidentally in my funk/rut.

I can sort of relate to the writer of Ecclesiastes who said everything is,

"Meaningless! Meaningless!...Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless."
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." 

I just keep doing the same things.  Over and over I clean the floors, do the dishes, wash clothes, dust, vaccuum, swish toilets, make meals.  What has been done will be done again and again and again and again.  What is the point?  Where is the significance?

.Without Christ there is no point.  It really is meaningless.  When I focus on the Lord and seeing what I am doing as working for the Lord my life is rich and full of meaning.  I am fulfilling God's purpose for my life in all that I do.  When I wipe the mac and cheese off the floor I am worshiping and praising God because I am doing it in obedience to his call on my life.

There isn't a lot of enthusiasm in Ecclesiastes, at the end of the book the writer comes to a somewhat more positive conclusion, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."   But I know from experience that when I keep my life focused on Christ and view my everyday, mundane tasks through His eyes I experience far more joy and enthusiasm for life than I do when I work only for my own or others approval.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Isabelle is officially 5 years old.  Several parties and celebrations later it has definately not snuck up on us but has come full of energy and enthusiasm for the year to come.

The celebrations began the day before, a trip to Build-a Bear with a girlfriend of mine who is in love with Isabelle.

Isabelle chose a kitty and helped make her new favorite animal.

She really loves it.

A red outfit to finish it up and we were off to lunch with Kim.

While we were gone John was setting up her new bed and rearranging the furniture so that she could wake up as a 5 year old in her new room:

She is loving sleeping on a big girl bed (she had been in a toddler bed converted from the crib.)  She says it is like sleeping over at Grandma's house.  Grandma was ahead of us in the bed department.

We kept the day fairly low key, she enjoyed being the center of attention at our normal morning bible study and had been reminding the leader of her Wednesday night class of her up coming birthday for weeks.

We decided to let Isabelle tell us where she wanted to go for dinner.  She chose her favorite restaurant, McDonald's.  Since we would be going straight to church from there we decided on a before dinner cake:

She shared her cake with Jake's friend Jaxon who was going to church with Jake

And her brother Jake.


All that sugar was followed up with a meal of grease and washed down with a few swigs of her brother's pop.  Swamp water Jaxon called it, we used to call it a suicide.  Several flavors mixed together.

But that is not all, oh no, that's not all...

After relaxing on Thursday we had a party with 2 of her girlfriends on Friday afternoon.  There was cupcake making

A craft to do

Candy to eat (after a pinata I forgot to photograph)

Gifts to open

Cupcakes to decorate and eat

And a little time to just hang with friends

Another fun party.  But that is STILL not all.  OH NO that is not all.

The family cannot be neglected in this celebration and so Saturday night We celebrated with the family.

John made a candy tree for me with the left over candy from the pinata.

It was a "surprise" party as requested by her.  John took her to the store for a couple last minute items while everyone arrived.  Although she was fully aware there was a party she was still surprised when everyone jumped out.  I think surprise parties turned out to be a little scarier than she anticipated.

Her cousins greeted her and she quickly perked up and had fun playing with them. 

After dinner we opened the gifts.

And then in keeping with tradition sang happy birthday and she blew out the candles for the 3rd time in celebration of turning 5.  (While wearing the new ballet outfit from grandma.)

And lest we forget there was a 4th celebration back in January before the other grandma went to Florida.  Another year properly celebrated.

I look forward to the new and exciting adventures Isabelle and I will have this year.  Happy Birthday my sweet girl.