Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bits: Glorious & Messy

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Glory, she is something else.

Dusting off this little blog of mine tonight.

It's late, too late, to be uploading and click-clacking my way through a post but I cannot help it.  It's been a busy day, and I need to unwind.

Pictures and words are the perfect cure.
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::Before all of the things merry and Decembery bright, there was an anniversary.  A big one.
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Our idea of date night is typically to put the girls to bed, eat something yummy and watch a movie-- often while folding laundry.  I love these simple nights.  But for the celebration of ten years, Joe did it up right.  He surprised me with two nights (!!) at the hotel where we were engaged while my Mom watched our girls.  We slept in, we ate delicious food across downtown Asheville, we poured over books and lovely junk in my favorite old dives, we found the perfect handpainted Nativity for our girls and Pepsi in glass bottles and Wolverine's claws.  We talked and laughed and marveled at God's grace to make it through ten years of love, laughter, arguments, forgiveness, little girls, big moves, and even bigger dreams.
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Ten years of this glorious, messy life we've created... together.

::And before the jingle bells, there was Thanksgiving.  I love that Thanksgiving precedes the Christmas season.  It just feels right to prepare our hearts with gratefulness for the lavish love we could neither buy nor earn, no matter how hard we could ever try.  A free gift, though definitely not cheap-- our Savior and the price He willingly paid.
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Bad weather had us leave NC early and miss our trip up North completely, but it was a pretty precious day at home.  Sometimes the unexpected has its way like that-- its War and Pictionary playing, dancing, mantle decorating, making a meal of our favorite things way.  Hope summed it up best when she said, "We may not have gotten to be with everyone we love today but this has been just about the greatest Thanksgiving ever."

::December is here.There has been a recital about the meaning of Christmas and a trip to an authentic tea room with friends.   There has been Nana in town for a week which meant gingerbread baking, ornament making, and visiting library Santa with Mexican food after.  There have been Kindness Elves and advent readings and a daily stable full of friends.  There have been too-tired evenings and memory making gone mad.  There has been many a picture.
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There has been, best of all, more of this glorious messy life... together.

With Joy,
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bits: Simple Gifts

In preparation for our annual Operation Christmas Child packing party, I loaded a video from Samaritan's Purse that had the phrase "simple gifts" in the title.  We watched as thrilled little boys and girls from so many different nations opened shoe boxes filled with small gifts, simple gifts.  All with a simple, but profound message.

Jesus loves you.

And, you know, I think that's how it is with the bits I record in this space.  Each time I unwrap a small moment, simply captured I can hear the same profound whisper.

Jesus loves me.

Now I've lived long enough and experienced enough life to know that Jesus isn't just in the happy, the ship shape, the perfect.

His glory lives in smushed peanut butter and jelly between the van seats, heart wrenching doctor reports, teaching little girls that life really is better if we all just get along, and stretched bank accounts.

Life will hold suffering.
Life will hold triumph.


Jesus loves us all.
Some simple gifts...

:: I never tire of stumbling upon my girls engrossed in books.
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Sister has reached that stage where she is very into her wardrobe choices. Which explains why she is either naked or in yet another outfit approximately 3/4 of the day.

:: Speaking of stories, this is our favorite reset button.  Books on CD in the van as we drive around until we find a good and scenic place to park.  If I can scrounge the change, we throw in a tall warm Butterscotch Toffee- a little bit of cream and sugar- and three tiny cups of free animal crackers from the local coffee drive-thru.  We have cried and laughed our way through CD after CD checked out from the library down the street.
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:: A refueling mid-afternoon treat that's healthy enough to serve for breakfast.
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2 ripe mashed bananas, 1 cup of oats (steel cut or regular), and 1/4 cup of peanut butter {raisins and/or chocolate chips never hurt either}mixed together and dropped by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet for about 12 minutes at 350. Note: Add a little flour if the batter is too runny.

:: We took Daddy camping for his birthday.  My camera petered out on me moments after we arrived, but I have so many fond memories to spill out.  My girls playing "Little House on the Prairie" inside a small and rustic log home found at the campground park.  Chilly s'mores, Apples to Apples, and songs by the campfire with friends who drove two hours round-trip just to help us celebrate.  Alysse experiencing mild claustrophobia from her new mummy bag, so my finally tucking her in with me-- my other two, old pros, and barely moving once snuggled down. Mile and a half hikes up to some of the tallest waterfalls in the country.  Whiny miniature hikers toward the end, optionally remembered.:)  Sunday afternoon naps, traditional once-a-year Daddy birthday fare (marinated steaks, loaded baked potatoes, and green beans-- with cold root beers straight out of the bottles) and coconut vanilla cake with other good friends late in the evening. I think he had a happy weekend, and that makes me so... happy.
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:: Friday morning centers allowing me a hot shower before another full November weekend.  Or at least allowing me the hot shower until someone accidentally rearranged Alysse's tangram butterfly creation.
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Everyone might learn better in a white fairy gown and some Minnie Mouse heels from time to time, I think.

:: And that packing party that helped me to remember the gift of it all.
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Playing Christmas music and wearing last year's Christmas jammies, not optional whatsoever.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bits: Sweet Spots

This is quite possibly one of the greatest surprises of motherhood.

These sweet spots.
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After mornings of spilled cheerios and incessant squabbles, my grumpiness growing-- it seems-- by the moment.  After afternoons of chasing littles and their scooters up and down sidewalks, scraped knees abundant, my half contemplating putting them to bed at 3 pm.  After the worn edges of evening, waiting on Daddy who's working late, and their picking at dinner like a blown out of proportion dagger to my heart. 

After these things, come sweet spots.

Instant renewal found by the slip of a final chubby hand in mine, her two sisters having already stretched their fingers into the slender form of little girls.  A shared book, everyone scrambling for my lap or the crook of my arm, and all of us lost in some other world for a good half hour or more.  The shouting of, "It's Surprise Day!"  {Code for, "I don't have a clue where we're going.")  Meandering all over town, shouts from the backseat guessing our every destination.  Shared Chicken Minis, hashbrowns, melon for breakfast.  A trip to the Children's Museum on our annual membership and smoothies to refuel us.  Last stop: The fun used bookstore up the road where we score practically the whole Laura Ingalls' collection for $12.50.

The sweet murmurings and happy contentment found in lovely surprises and the beautiful mundane, all of us often gathered around the worn wood dining room table sharing life every single day.  All of us spread between two bunks and a daybed whispering prayers, Alysse curled up next to me.  Daddy taking turns rubbing Hope's feet, then Maddie's back.  The quiet that follows in the house that has been bursting with life and energy the whole live long day.

I am grateful for the sometimes struggle because it turns up the volume on sweet.  And, I find, the more I get in tune with sweetness of this time together the less often we struggle.  There is something so powerful in looking for good, even when it's hard.

So thankful for the spots Fall, in particular, offers us.

It really is something pretty special.

::"What does Alysse do when you homeschool?"  I've been asked this a time or seven.  She joins in, sometimes when I don't even realize it, evidenced by the fact that she told her Sunday School teacher that there were cumulus clouds in the sky last Sunday.  Or that she told me her lunch was in her digestive system the other day.  But often, she just slips off and I find her mulling over her collection of treasures-- leaves, rocks, flowers, and grasses.  Sometimes I find her a little something like this.
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Occassionally she also gives her five year-old sister a hair massacre cut.  Oy.  At least I can boast that I offer career training around here.

::I love when communities come together.  We were very intentional about our neighborhood, wanting the chance to impact and be impacted.  So when a church up the street opened its doors for a neighborhood fall festival, filled with so many different kinds of people each with their own stories-- we feel privileged to be there.
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Mary Poppins even carried her umbrella high above her head the whole way, much to the delight of passersby.

:: One day I will be so sad when I do not find Noah's wife in my silverware drawer or a cowboy doll in my make up bag.
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:: Halloween.  I am not even trying to be politically correct anymore.  I love this holiday.  We aren't into scary, never have been.  But what a sweet spot for building community, doors flung open wide.  Introductions to neighbors we might not otherwise meet.  Giggles and pretend, chili cook-offs at church and silly photo booths and bounce houses and face painting. Such a good, good day.
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:: Watching our TN Volunteers lose again?  Not so lovely.  Save the snacks and being able to stream it live off Joe's computer (plus the girls' hollering, "Come on TN!!")-- football season being the only real time we wish we had cable.
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:: Carnival stuffed animal prizes fueling a request for a lunch-time tea cold apple cider party.

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::How our mornings at home frequently begin, slowly, like a warm cup of coffee's embrace.
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You with us, Leesie? Almost.

:: Mom and Pop farms?  Good stuff and the perfect finale to the end of October.
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::These afternoons, some of the best in my life.
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