Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Good Measure

When I was a little girl, I loved to bake with my mom. She would let me sift flour and carefully crack eggs and add vanilla. One of my favorite parts was when we put brown sugar in a recipe. Mom taught me that you couldn't just scoop up brown sugar and dump it in, you had to pack it down into the measuring cup--that way you could get a lot more in. At some point in time, she taught me the verse, "Give and it shall be given to you; a good measure pressed down and running over into your lap." She explained that if we give our little bit to God--our money or time or talent--that His return to us will be so great; it's like that brown sugar, packed down until it's spilling out over the cup.

This weekend was a pretty typical one--busy, lots of stuff going on, lots of responsibility for me--but nothing unusual for probably any ordinary mom. I had a lot of errands to run after work on Friday, and I've got a number of books in my "queue"--both to read and some to review. In fact on Friday night I wanted Darren to take a picture of me because, while I usually have two or three books I'm reading at any given time, that night I was sitting in bed with one book open on my lap and another in my hands, reading both of them.

Saturday morning I got up and got Lucy ready for a birthday party at 10. It was a dress-up party, so here she is:

While she was gone, Elaine and I went to a greenhouse to get a gift certificate for my dad whose birthday is the 30th. He and my mom were coming over at 1:00. Then my mom and I were going to a play. (It was fantastic--a lost Agatha Christie play called "A Daughter's A Daughter," and I think it is the first time it has ever been performed.) Before they came, I had to give the house at least a rudimentary cleaning since it was a disaster (I don't know how it got that way. It was just immaculate for Easter.) By the time Elaine and I got home, it was time for me to pick up Lucy from the party (which was about 1/2 a block away). I ran over and stayed for maybe 10 or 15 minutes.

We walked in the back door, and two things registered with me instantly. One was that it smelled really good, as if someone had just cleaned the kitchen. The other was that Lucy ran in the dining room and demanded, "What's Elaine doing in the naughty chair?" I walked in the kitchen and saw Darren standing there, trying to figure out what to do for Elaine had taken the opportunity in my absence to decorate the kitchen with 3/4 of a bottle of Palmolive. This is her, telling me she's sorry. You can see she is filled with remorse (note the Palmolive on her outfit).

I eventually got all of the downstairs straightened up and just gave up on the upstairs and closed all the doors. My mom and I left for the play, and I spent the ride (after accidentally running through a red light) chattering away to her about the morning and how I hadn't wrapped Dad's present yet, and my work, and oh, I had made the ice cream pies for dessert but I hadn't gotten any of the topping on, and the books I was reading, and also how I needed to make something for the church potluck tomorrow and on and on. When Lucy does this kind of thing to me, I call it "4-year-old stream of consciousness." When I do it to my mom, I prefer to think of it as Joycean, but really? it's just 38-year-old stream of consciousness.

When we got out of the car and were walking across the parking lot, my mom said to me, half laughing and half serious, "Honey? Do you think you have too much of a life? I used to worry about you because you might not have had enough of one, but now I think you might have too much life!"

Then we laughed and laughed.

I thought about it though throughout the day. She's right. I do have too much of a life. Most days I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. I am a person who loves quiet and serenity and peace and order. I need a lot of time to myself in order to read and just think about ideas and just be. I'm an introvert. But now my life is filled with disorder and multi-tasking and running and crisis control (case in point: this afternoon Elaine wanted to go upstairs and see Daddy who was taking a nap. The next thing I knew, I heard piercing screams. She had fallen off the bed and cut the corner of her eye and hit the back of her head--now she has a big knot that matches Lucy's).

As I was thinking of my too-much life, I remembered how it used to be. The days I had all the peace and quiet and order I could ever want, and what I really wanted was a baby of my own. I didn't know if I could or would ever have one. The hard times I have spent either searching for a job or working at a job I hate. The two years we spent here after we moved completely alone and not knowing anyone, never meeting people and not having a church or friends.

I tried as much as I could to give what I had, my hopes and dreams and wishes, to Him. And this is what He has given me--more than I can hold, brown sugar packed down to keep fitting more into the cup. Yes, sometimes it IS a too-much life. But I am loving this life, all of it, as it spills over into my lap.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hypothetically Speaking

Here is a "conversation" (aka argument) that I hear almost every day as of late.

"Lucy, I play de piano. You play de organ."

"I don't want to play the organ. I want to play the piano."

"No, you play organ."

"But I don't want to! I really want the piano."

(outraged screech) "Play organ, Lucy!"

"Moooommmm, Elaine says I have to play the organ, but I want to play the piano."

"Will the two of you just relax? You can both play the piano."

"But she's telling me I can't."

"Lucy, she's 2. I said you can both play the piano. Elaine, you need to simmer down."

"Elaine, I'm playing the piano too BECAUSE MOM SAID SO."

"OK, Lucy. You can play piano. Me too. Mom, you play de organ."

"All right. I'll play the organ, you both play the piano, and we'll all sing."

And the argument is lost in the happy noise of instruments and voices.

Wait. Did I mention that the location of these arguments is our car? And that we own neither a piano nor an organ? And that the instruments we are referring to are, in fact, the girls' laps and the car steering wheel?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm sitting here checking my email and reading the Tribune. Lucy's in the living room watching Curious George because, when I took her to urgent care last night for the big lump on the back of her head she got from falling on the ceramic tile floor, the doctor discovered she has strep throat (her head is fine). There is basically no food in the house--grocery shopping is on the agenda today. Consequently, Elaine had mandarin oranges and teddy grahams for breakfast. She watched me at my computer, got down from her own chair, climbed up on mine, and plopped down beside me.

She looked up at me with her great big grin (and dimples) and said (oh so casually in between munches, sort of like the Fonz), "Hey, Mama. I love you!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It Is (Technically) Spring!

It really doesn't get much better than this. I'm sitting here at my kitchen island, drinking a cup of Earl Grey, and listening to these guys while the girls play outside. Did you hear that? While the girls play outside! It's sunny and kind of cold, but it's supposed to hit the exalted high of 55 today.

Because I spent last week blogging about Easter, I skipped over the first day of Spring. That morning though when the girls woke up I told them that something mysterious had happened. I had gone down to the kitchen, and apparently a visitor had come and left something for them. It was the Spring Bunny, and this is what they found at each of their places at the table.

(This is actually a picture of Darren's breakfast. Because what man doesn't need to start the day with a pink-frosted bunny cinnamon roll?)

The Spring Bunny also left them each a package of flower seeds to plant. (This was the day before the blizzard we got.) Maybe someday I'll have pictures to post of full-grown, flowering sweet peas. Hopefully they'll be more successful than the pumpkin we tried to grow (in a styrofoam cup) last Fall.

Here are my little spring bunnies:

Yesterday was the first day they really got to play outside. They came back in about 30 minutes later with streaming noses and a sand bucket full of their treasures, including dead raggedy pinecones (which are now "decorating" the kitchen table. That is a mother's love, for sure.) and pieces of concrete from our rapidly disintegrating patio (I drew the line at those in the house).

This morning the first thing they wanted to do was go back out again. This time they took their babies out for an airing as well.

They're back inside now because Shelley (one of the dolls) has fallen, hurt her knee, and "blood is gushing out." I'm in charge of triage.
Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Great New Habit

The other night while the girls were getting ready for bed, we were hanging out in Elaine's room (oh and a little blog preview: this is soon to be Elaine's room no more. We're hopefully transitioning her to Lucy's room this week, so henceforth it will be known as Lucy and Elaine's room. Then we're going to redo her room into a guestroom. There will be tales of wallpaper removal! Paint chips! Choices of bed linens! Before and after pictures! Oh, the blogging possibilities are endless....) As I said, we were hanging out in Elaine's room, and Lucy sat down in Elaine's Maisy chair.

"Get out of my chair," Elaine demanded.

Lucy walked out of the room without another word, in search of her nightly Tic-Tac.

[A note of explanation: Lucy sucks her thumb. She always has. I'm sure she did it in utero. The majority of infant pictures I have of her she has her thumb in her mouth. I've never made a big deal about it, until lately our dentist has been giving us dire warnings. Now we're working on breaking this habit, and I can put all the blame squarely in Dr. Sullivan's lap so I don't look like a mean mom. When we first started talking about it together she told me, "But Mom, I need something to suck on. Can I have a Lifesaver instead?" So we settled on a Tic-Tac because they're sugarless (aren't they?), and I'm not worried about her choking on them. The success rate has been dubious so far because she faithfully sucks on the Tic-Tac, then when I check on her later at night, she's fast asleep with her thumb planted firmly in her mouth.]

Anyway, after Elaine said that, I told her, "Elaine, that was very rude. Your sister shares all kinds of things with you. You need to apologize to her." When Lucy came back in the room, Elaine said (kind of casually), "Sorry, Luce." Lucy said sweetly, "I forgive you," and then gave her one of her precious Tic-Tacs.

She turned to me and said, "Mama, while I was in my room I heard God say to me, 'You really should forgive Elaine. And then you should show her mercy,' so I gave her one of my Tic-Tacs!"

I looked at that little girl with her huge brown eyes, standing there in her fuzzy pajamas dispensing forgiveness, mercy, and Tic-Tacs, and I just had to give her the biggest hug.

I love her so.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Weekend Pictures

Watching March Madness.....

Spring in the Midwest...

Decorating Easter eggs...

All dressed up for Resurrection Sunday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

(from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe")

At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise--a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant's plate. "What's that?" said Lucy, clutching Susan's arm. "I--I feel afraid to turn around," said Susan, "Something awful is happening."

"They're doing something worse to Him," said Lucy. "Come on!" And she turned, pulling Susan round with her. The rising of the sun had made everything look so different--all colors and shadows were changed--that for a moment they didn't see the important thing. Then they did.

The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end, and there was no Aslan. "Oh, oh, oh!" cried the two girls, rushing back to the Table. "Oh, it's too bad," sobbed Lucy, "they might have left the body alone."

"Who's done it?" cried Susan. "What does it mean? Is it more magic?"

"Yes!" said a great voice behind their backs. "It is more magic."

They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

"Oh, you're real, you're real! Oh, Aslan!" cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

(from "Rainbow Garden")

The church was overflowing with people and full of Easter flowers. The Communion Table was a mass of huge daffodil trumpets, white blossom, and tulips, and the choir and congregation rose to their feet and sang as only the Welsh can sing: "Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!"

Then Mr. Owen read the story of the Resurrection and how the Angel of the Lord came down and opened the tomb in raiment white as snow, and I thought of the Lord Jesus coming forth, no doubt in shining robes to match the Angel. To walk close to Him in the path of life, sharing His fullness of joy, one would need to be very clean and pure too. Janet was right; nothing dirty or soiling could stay near that radiance.

We rose again to sing the second hymn. Peter in the choir had a solo part in this one, and his voice, clear and unbroken, seemed to soar right to the roof:

Jesus lives! For us He died!
Then alone to Jesus living,
Pure in heart may we abide,
Glory to our Saviour giving,


After that, I guess I don't have much to add except the words of the angel: "He is not here; He is risen! Why do you look for the living among the dead?!"

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

This year, since Easter is so early (the earliest it's been since 1817 my mother-in-law told me) it may be the first year ever I don't attend church on Good Friday. I hope that doesn't happen, but there's a winter storm warning, and 8-9 inches of snow is headed our way. A white Easter!

If indeed we are able to go to church, it will be similar to probably many services around the country and the world. There will be a processional with the cross. We will sing Good Friday hymns. There will be the lighting of the candles. We will read through the crucifixion account. We will take Communion. The bell will toll thirty-three times, for Jesus' life here on Earth. Tears will be shed. The candles will be extinguished. The cross will be draped in black as well as the communion table covered in black. We will all exit the church in total darkness and complete silence.

(from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe")

A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing towards them, and for a moment the Witch herself seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild, fierce laugh.

"The fool!" she cried. "The fool has come. Bind him fast."

They rolled the huge Lion round on his back and tied all his four paws together, shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all.

And they surged round Aslan jeering at him saying things like "How many mice have you caught today, Cat?" Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him--so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.

The Witch bared her arms and began to whet her knife. At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan's head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice, "and now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die."

The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn't bear to look and had covered their eyes.


(from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones)

"So you're a king, are you?" the Roman soldiers jeered. "Then you'll need a crown and a robe." They gave Jesus a crown made out of thorns. And put a purple robe on Him. And pretended to bow down to Him. "Your Majesty!" they said. Then they whipped Him. And spat on Him. They didn't understand that this was the Prince of Life, the King of heaven and earth, who had come to rescue them. The soldiers made Him a sign--"Our King"--and nailed it to a wooden cross.

They walked up a hill outside the city. Jesus carried the cross on his back. Jesus had never done anything wrong. But they were going to kill Him the way criminals were killed. They nailed Jesus to the cross. "Father, forgive them," Jesus gasped. "they don't understand what they're doing."

"Papa?" Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. "Papa? Where are you? Don't leave me!" And for the first time--and the last--when He spoke, nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn't answer. He turned away from his Boy.

Tears rolled down Jesus' face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye. Even though it was midday, a dreadful darkness covered the face of the world. The sun could not shine. The earth trembled and quaked. Until it seemed that the whole world would break. That creation itself would tear apart.

The full force of the storm of God's fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. instead of his people.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, "It is finished!"

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world. "Father!" Jesus cried. "I give you my life." And with a great sign He let Himself die.

Jesus' friends gently carried Jesus and laid Him in a new tomb. How could Jesus die? What had gone wrong? What did it mean? They didn't know anything anymore. Except they did know their hearts were breaking.

"That's the end of Jesus," the leaders said. But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.


Or as James Macdonald says, "Yeah, we'll see about that. Hey, don't read ahead!"

A very, VERY Good Friday to all...

Some Seder Night Pictures...

The Seder platter
The traditional four cups...and a sippy cup

The girls admiring the lamb cake their Manga're not really supposed to eat anything with leaven in it this night, but we suspend that rule for dessert. It's a little perk of being Gentiles, I guess...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Cup

Food is obviously an important part of the Passover celebration. The girls have been sampling the matzah bread today ("It's too crunchy, Mom. I don't like it."). There is also a lamb shank, a hard-boiled egg, horseradish, haroset (apples and walnuts ground up with wine, representing the mortar and bricks the Israelites made for the Egyptians), and parsley (representing life) dipped in salt water (reminding us that life is filled with tears). There is a good meal of roast chicken, roasted garlic potatoes, sweet carrots, salad, and cake (I'd like to start with matzoh ball soup, but I'm not a real Jewish mama and I don't keep chicken fat in my freezer, so I know I'd be making an inferior product!)

But the most important part of the meal and the ceremony are the various cups of wine (or sparkling grape juice since we have little ones). As in every element of the supper, each cup (four are drunk in all) symbolizes something. The four cups correspond with the four "I WILL" statements God made to the Israelites in Exodus 6: "I WILL bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians" is the first, the cup of Sanctification and Freedom. "I WILL free you from being slaves to them" is the second, the cup of Deliverance. (This is sort of fun too, because before you drink it, you get to dip your finger in it ten times and put a drop of wine on your plate each time to represent the ten plagues.)

After the two cups, the supper is eaten. Then the third cup is filled. This is the cup for the prophet Elijah. (In a traditional Seder, no one drinks from this cup.) When this cup is placed on the table, the children run and open the door for Elijah (the girls love that part!) At the end of the meal, everyone looks to see if Elijah has been, if the wine in his cup has gone down a fraction.

I don't know about you, but I never really thought or knew much about the meaning behind the Last Supper. I sort of just assumed that Jesus picked up a piece of bread on the table and a cup of wine and then made the statements about His body and His blood. That's meaning enough in and of itself, right? Not now though, for me. The book of Luke gives us three key words, and they are "After the supper." That is when Jesus picked up the cup. That is when the third cup is always served, the cup set aside for Elijah. Are you ready for what it is? It corresponds to the third I WILL statement: "I WILL redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment." It is called the Cup of Redemption. It is this Cup of Redemption that Jesus referred to when He wept in the garden, pleading that this cup pass from Him. But notice what He says afterward, "Not My will, but THY WILL be done." He knows that He must fulfill the I WILL statements made thousands of years before. After He wrestles with that in the garden, nothing more is said. He's ready to go straight to the hill. There He redeemed us with His arms outstretched. The mighty acts of judgment that we deserved were poured out on Him.

(from Rainbow Garden)

“Tell me about it,” said Mr. Owen at last. After I had told him everything, I trailed off miserably. It was all out, and what would happen now I couldn’t imagine, and yet strange to say my heart felt lighter.

“Do you want to hear how sin can be taken right away?” he asked. “It’s all here, written down for you.” I sniffed and nodded. I wanted to know so badly, but I still couldn’t say anything. So he read them aloud slowly, and I leaned against him and read them too—the verses I was to love so much later on, those verses written by an old man whose eyes had actually once seen his Savior hanging on the Cross.

“These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“What does ‘confess’ mean?” asked Mr. Owen.

“Saying you did it,” I whispered shamefacedly.

“Yes, that’s right,” he answered, “it’s telling God about the sins you can remember and asking Him to take into account all you can’t remember and then believing that He laid them all on the Cross of Jesus and they were all paid for there. And then, because there is nothing between you any more, you can come straight to God and give yourself to Him to obey and serve Him forever. Would you like to do it?”

I nodded again.

“Then tell Him about it now,” said Mr. Owen. “Tell Him what you did, tell Him that you believe that Jesus has died so that it can be forgiven, and then thank Him for making you clean and leading you into the light.” So we closed our eyes, and he prayed out loud and I silently: “Oh, dear Lord, I want to tell you about the shell I stole and the lies I told and all the things I was so afraid and unhappy about. I am coming to You because Jesus died and You promised to forgive. Please wash me whiter than snow and make me Your own little girl. And come into my heart and make me brave and truthful, so that I can put right what I did. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.”

I opened my eyes and looked round half expecting to see some visible Presence standing near. As we walked back to the house, every far peak stood out separate and shining, revealed in the last light, and the clouds were flung like bright banners across the West. “Walking in the light,” I thought to myself, “that’s what it’s like—all gold with nothing hidden,” and I suddenly felt brave and strong and joyful…


My girls are too young to understand all this yet. They know Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Lucy is just learning that the Good Shepherd actually gave His own life for all the sheep. I love to watch it dawning in her face and her mind. It breaks her heart to hear of His suffering and death. As a parent, I wish I could make all my girls' decisions for them. I wish I could just choose Jesus for them forever, and that they'd never waver. But I can't. It has to be a decision they each make for themselves, individually.

On Thursday night, when I hear Lucy's sweet, childish voice asking Darren the traditional question of the Seder, "Father, why is this night different from other nights?" this is what I will think of: Because He took my place. He got what I deserved. He redeemed me...with an outstretched arm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Bread

This Thursday night our family will celebrate with a Christian Seder meal. We've found that this ceremony lends itself to children's participation, and it has great meaning to us adults too. When we started it, I decided to do a little research into it. What I found has changed my life.

During the Seder (which means "order"), four cups of wine are drunk (more on those tomorrow), and several pieces of unleavened bread are eaten. One piece of bread in particular is broken off, wrapped in a cloth napkin, and hidden. This piece is called the afikomen. It stands for the bread saved in their cloaks by the Israelite slaves--it represents servitude and freedom. The bread and wine are eaten and drunk throughout the ceremony, and in the middle a full meal is served. After the meal, the children participating in the Seder search and find the afikomen. After they find it, they are given a little present for it. Then it is broken and drunk with the third cup.

The gospels tell the narrative of Jesus sharing the Passover, which is known to us as The Last Supper, with his disciples. (Bear with me now, something interesting is coming!) Bible scholars believe that it is the afikomen that Jesus broke saying, "This is my body broken for you; do this in remembrance of me." After this Bread of Freedom is taken, nothing else is eaten that evening. Jesus was giving them (and us) a beautiful picture. Through His brokenness, through His servitude, we can be free.

We've had kind of an interesting year as a family. We discovered one of our friends was a pedophile, and we also got sort of involved with a con man (long story, not for this blog!) When I saw the newspaper article about our friend and his subsequent prison sentence, some sort of sick fascination propelled me to view the reader comments' associated with it. (I really don't know why I do this ever. I'm convinced that the reader/commenters on the Tribune are representative of the lowest common denominator of society.) It was so bizarre to read things such as, "Excellent. Another dirtbag white child molestor behind bars" and know that it was referring to someone I know. And when I ended up talking to a State's Attorney representative about the con man we met, she said, "He is a total piece of crap." Then I recently read an article in the paper about a man who murdered his brother for money, in cold blood. (We actually don't know this guy. Yet.) The judge said at his sentencing, "This is no hope for you."

I've been thinking those three people and those statements made about them a lot lately. Now, I am not like them at all. I am a nice mama with a good job who is a responsible member of society. I've had only one speeding ticket and one warning. I pay my taxes, and I don't steal other people's money. I'm kind to my neighbors. I go to church. I certainly don't harm children, and I've never murdered my brother or anybody else. I have (expensive) highlights in my hair, I use Crest whitestrips on my teeth, and I have a master's degree. Why, I'm pretty much your all-around dream citizen. No one would ever call me a "total piece of crap" or a "dirtbag."

But wait a minute. Scratch beneath my nice veneer. You will find someone hopelessly materialistic. Someone who has gossipped and slandered others many times. Someone who has held many grudges and taken offense at countless slights. I've cheated. I've lied. I've cursed. I've lost my temper. I've picked fights with my husband. I've hated. In elementary school, I joined in with the rest of the class as we laughed at poor David Reed, who repeated a grade and still couldn't read. (Something which, I would give all my money in the bank if it would buy me the chance to make amends with him.) I've stood aside many times and watched wrong being done, because I was too cowardly to do the right thing. I've laughed at things and people I should never have laughed at. My list could go on and on. Shame and a sense of self-preservation are preventing me from writing many of my other sins here. There are things I've done that I never want anyone else to know.

And after all that? I can easily hear the verdict being handed down on my own self, "There is no hope for you."

There is really one significant difference between me and those three men. It is this: I have thrown myself on the mercy of the court. I have confessed, broken-hearted, each of these things, all the others unprinted and unprintable, and any others I may have forgotten (I'm sure there are many). I have claimed His broken body as my own righteousness, the righteousness I could never possess on my own. And consequently? I am free. I am forgiven! There is nothing in the English language to convey the sweet grace and weightlessness of those words. I am by no means perfect. But I don't carry that guilt anymore (and by guilt, I don't mean sorrow. The sorrow over what I've done will only be eased when I get to heaven.) Today though--I live in freedom.

I wish I had a chance to say to those men, instead of the indictments that have been (rightly) passed down on them, the words of Isaiah 55 "Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Despite what they have done, they could be forgiven. They, too, could live in freedom because of what He has done.

Thursday night, as my little girls seek and find the afikomen and eagerly claim their gift, as we all partake of the Bread of Freedom broken for us, it is yet another chance for me to be grateful for the indescribable gift He has given me.

Washing Feet and a Sweet Fragrance

I have to double up on posts tonight because I don't plan on being online on Good Friday, and I want to write about each day of this week.

Tonight we'll be reading the story of how Mary broke the expensive jar of perfume over Jesus. Then we'll read about how Jesus washed His disciples' feet before the Last Supper. We'll talk about what this means for us: how our gifts to Him should mean something and be costly to us and how we should be servants to others.

We're going to light a scented candle and smell its sweet fragrance. We're going to take sweet-smelling Easter lilies to some neighbors and maybe some elderly people from church.

(By the way, we'll be reading the stories from this. It's awesome. I highly recommend it.)

As always, when teaching my children, I learn myself. Do I go out of my way to give sacrificially to Him? (For me, this is less about money and more about doing things with which I may be uncomfortable.) When I am doing my jobs, particularly as wife and mom, am I grumbling and seething internally about yet more laundry or dirty dishes or am I emulating the King, who wrapped a towel around His waist, knelt down, and graciously wiped the muck from His students' feet?

As I smell the scent of lilies or as I change that nth diaper, I pray that my life is a sweet act of service.

Cleaning House

For Monday of Holy Week, we talked about Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. Lucy had never heard that story before, so it took a little explanation. We talked about how the temple was like our own church, and what would happen if some people put a bunch of things to sell around and were mostly interested in making money instead of being in church. We didn't travel down that road of thought for too long, though if she were older we sure could have. It seems not much has changed in some churches since that time so long ago.

What we really talked about though was that church is to be a house of prayer. It's a special place. That's why we wear special clothes, but more importantly we act like it's a house of prayer. We don't run or scream or hang on the furniture or act like wild orangatuans in general (a moment of parental honesty here: this is a venture with which we've had fair to moderate success so far. But we're working on it.)

A corresponding activity that we could have done together but didn't because I didn't get home from work until 6 and then had to grocery shop (I have got to take this whole week as vacation next year for sure) was make soft pretzels together. This is a typical Lenten snack, and the pretzels (if you tilt your head and squint) resemble arms folded in prayer. I thought about having the girls do that with my mom today while she watches them, but my mom does enough for me without me rocking her world with bread dough, boiling water, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old. So, maybe next year!

However, in honor of Jesus cleaning the temple, Holy Week is also the time we spring clean our house. We deep clean from top to bottom, including pulling all the slipcovers off the furniture and laundering them, washing the baseboards, etc. (It takes AT LEAST this week, but we'll try to have it all done by Sunday.)

By the end, we'll have a clean house and hopefully a refreshed idea of church. I have to admit that I occasionally forget that--church is a place to worship, sing, listen to sermons, talk to friends, eat (a key component at the Baptist church I've discovered)--but primarily, it is to be a house of prayer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It Looked Pretty Roomy For a Rabbit...

Shortly before we get to Elaine's daycare center, she and I drive through a residential area (the daycare center itself is in a commercial area. It's next door to a seedy-looking bowling alley and across the road from an establishment that bills itself as "Adult Fun" and another building that looks like a large, gray metal container called "Zebulon Adult Bookshop." Disconcertingly, the parking lot is full there, no matter what time of day we drive by, including 6:45 a.m. But I digress.). Anyway, the residential area is one of those that seems to decorate wildly for any given holiday. So we enjoy looking at giant inflatable turkeys or snowmen or what-have-you, depending on the season.

This morning as we drove through I said, "Let's see if we can see an Easter bunny here. Look out your window!" We drove a couple blocks, but surprisingly, there was nothing. Elaine was looking out the window intently though, and then I heard a hopeful little voice say (as she pointed at one of the identical-to-each-other houses in the subdivision), "Dere's da Easser bunny's house, Mom!"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Waving

The last few lines of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" read as follows: "...and it was always said of him, that he know how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge..." Well, Easter has long been my favorite holiday, and when my girls were born, I promised that those words could always be said of our family about this Holy Week and Easter.

Both girls are named from books in which Easter and the Resurrection are central themes. They were books that were read to me as a child, and they became part of who I am. Lucy, of course, from C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and Elaine from a book by Patricia St. John called "Rainbow Garden." "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is the story of the four children who found their way into the enchanted land of Narnia (led by Lucy); of the one of the four who became a traitor; and of the great Lion, Aslan, who laid down his life in order to save the children and all of Narnia. "Rainbow Garden" is the story of a lonely little girl named Elaine, who is sent from London to live with a minister, his wife, and their six children in Wales. As Spring comes to Wales, the truth of Easter comes to Elaine's heart.

I find a key word in parenting for me is "intentional." As my favorite parenting book puts it, "Children are like arrows. If you aim at nothing, you will surely hit it." Intentionality doesn't mean that everything works out perfectly, but it does mean that no matter what, we've made the effort in the hopes that some good will come of it. The books the girls are named from are more than just pretty stories. They are part of their faith heritage. So it is only fitting that this week is commemorated and celebrated at our house, with great solemnity and with great joy.

Today is the first day, Palm Sunday. I have a special place in my own heart for Palm Sunday because 35 years ago on this day (I was 3 in case you're wondering), my brother, who was 5, came home from Sunday School and told me, "Al, I don't want you to go to hell, so I want you to pray this prayer after me and invite Jesus into your heart." I didn't really know what that meant and I didn't know what hell was, but if my brother told me he didn't want me to go there, then I sure didn't want to go either. And that was the beginning of this great journey of faith for me. The road has been anything but straight, and many times I have veered from it. But as the angel told the apostles in the book of Acts when they were freed from prison, "Go and tell the people all the words of this life," and that's what I want for Lucy and Elaine--to know from me all the words of this life.

Our former church was quite large, and on Palm Sunday all of the children, well over 100 of them in their little choir robes, would march into the sanctuary, waving palm branches and crying "Hosanna! Hosanna!" Following them, the adult choir would come in, and all the congregation would rise and sing "All Glory, Laud, and Honor." I used to think that someday my own children would do that, but we've moved away now and our new church is much smaller. So yesterday I cut palm branches out of paper, and the girls sat at the island and colored them (not just green, lots of colors!). This morning, dressed for church, they marched through the downstairs, waving their colored branches and shouting, "Hosanna!" and "Praise to the King!"

It made my heart happy and reminded me of some passages from their namesake books.

(from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe")

“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus.”

“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.

“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

(from "Rainbow Garden")

"I kept repeating over to myself the words I had seen in the churchyard—“fullness of joy…fullness of joy.” I felt that these words were the heart of some tremendous secret, and perhaps the missing words were the key. In where, or in what, could fullness of joy be found? And what was fullness of joy? Nothing I had ever known in my dull, lonely little life, and yet something I was crying out to know. And as I stood there, forgetful of everything, but longing, something happened. The sun pierced the mists outside, and the church was suddenly filled with a golden glory, transfiguring the stained windows, streaming on the bright heads and snowy surplices of the choir boys, warm and blessing us all. Just for a moment I thought I knew what fullness of joy must be like. It would transfigure everything, even the ugly things, and make all the dull, ordinary things precious and beautiful."

So, happy Palm Sunday to all and a blessed beginning to Holy Week. Hosanna to the Son of David!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Little Wrap-Up

Just a few random thoughts for Friday. I filled up my car with gas and saw that the person before me had put $82.00 in the tank. Yikes. That is a lot of tubes of lipstick, even MAC lipstick, which I used to buy by the bagful (B.C., of course). (And yes, it's usual that I think of sums of money in terms of how much lipstick it could buy.)

I kept seeing this news headline this week, "Salvia is the new marijuana" only I kept reading it as "Saliva is the new marijuana" so I've been pondering the implications of that all week. I finally read it right, so now we can all rest easy because that was concerning me.

Yesterday the girls and I (after making the robin treats) got out photo albums from when they were both born. They love doing that. We got out Lucy's first, and when Elaine saw Lucy as an infant, she made that same noise that everyone makes when they see a baby, "Awwwww!"

Speaking of babies, tomorrow I'm going to a baby shower for a friend. It's her first baby. Each baby is so wonderful, but there is something undeniably exciting and unique about your first. I realized too that almost exactly five years ago, I was having a shower. Here's me at my shower (and Lucy!) (Pardon the extra big rim around the picture; don't know how to fix that.)

I asked Darren to scan the picture for me, and he did and emailed it to me. He asked me, "Did you get the picture I emailed you?" I hadn't yet, but when I got it later, I saw why he was asking. He named the file "Big Mama." Isn't that sweet? But then, this is the same man who, also when I was pregnant, would bump me out of the way in front of the bathroom mirror and say, "Move over, Bacon, there's something leaner."

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And Behold, It Happened!

When I mentioned the first robin of spring yesterday, I had no idea those were prophetic words. But on the way to school, I slammed on the brakes because lo and behold, bouncing along merrily in someone's ugly, dormant, brown yard was our first robin! We were all very excited. And it wasn't a fluke, because we saw another one in our own ugly, dormant, brown yard today.

So of course we had to make our famous robin treats and have our annual Welcome The Robins party.

The Treats

The Celebrants

Spring is coming! Welcome, robins!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off, And All That Good Stuff

It's funny how soon something happy can just crash and burn, how euphoria can quickly become tarnished. Yesterday after seeing the horse (and he really was there! Lucy's teacher said he was there for Inventure, a special presentation and projects for the older kids that evening but that Lucy was welcome to come too) Lucy and I were so excited we galloped (ha ha) inside to Darren and Elaine.

"There's a horse in Lucy's school!" I told Elaine. "Do you want to come see him after supper?" Her face was wreathed in smiles at the thought of something so wondrous as a horse. "I wanna see the horse!" she said.

Everything was going wonderfully. Everyone was happy. The soundtrack from Jaws may just as well been playing in the background. "I need to wash my hands" I heard (what else is new?) After she'd been in there for awhile, I said, "Elaine, please put the placemats on the table and tell Lucy that supper is ready." "I wash my hands," I heard from the bathroom. I waited a minute or so, went in the bathroom, and repeated my request. "I wash my hands." I gently lifted her off the stool, turned off the water, and said, "Put the placemats on the table and go call Lucy." She looked me full in the face and screamed as loud as she could. "NO! I WASH MY HANDS!"

That sent Darren running upstairs from his basement office. He applied a little discipline, set her in the Naughty Chair, and said, "You tell Mom you're sorry for screaming at her." Usually when she sits in the Naughty Chair, it's only a few minutes before I hear, "Sorry. I'm sorry, Mom. I get down now." Not tonight. I gave her repeated chances. Finally I said, "If you can't say you're sorry, you'll need to go upstairs and get into bed until you can."

I took her upstairs, kicking and screaming, and looking like the exact definition of "2-year-old tantrum" in the Big Book of Stereotypes. All the happiness and excitement of the afternoon were gone. Remember how parents would say, "This hurts me more than it hurts you" when they disciplined you and we all thought that was the most ridiculous lie in the world? Newsflash, turns out they were right. It's so awful. This went on for almost an hour. In case you're wondering, an hour is a very, very long time.

In the meantime, I got Lucy fed and bathed. She said to me, "Mom, can I tell you something secret, just between you and me? I don't think Elaine deserves to go tonight. But I still want her to." Yeah, that pretty much summed up exactly how I felt too. I stood there blowdrying her hair, chatting cheerfully to her amidst the ear-splitting screams, while inside I was a) praying that God would soften that little one's stubborn heart and b) wishing I could just get in bed and pull the covers over my head instead of driving to school for the third time that day just to see a smelly old horse whom I now blamed utterly for wreaking such havoc on my family.

Finally, finally (with Darren's prompting) I saw a little tear-streaked, woebegone figure in the bathroom doorway. She sidled up to me, buried her face in my shoulder, hiccupped a few times, and whispered, "Sorry." Then she said, "Want my leeny-leeny (aka tortellini) now."

Eventually we got everyone fed and bundled into the car. When we got to school I asked the lady at the door who was welcoming everyone, "Where's the horse?" She looked at me like, uh lady, do you really think we'd let a horse stay for hours in our elementary school? and said, "I think the horse went home quite awhile ago."

You have GOT to be kidding me.

We went into the gym and looked at the books kids wrote (they were great), the science exhibits, and the social studies projects. I said to Lucy, "Luce! Someday you'll do projects like this!" and she wailed, "But I don't know how!" as if I expected her to construct a suspension bridge out of cardboard and dental floss by herself tomorrow.

When we went out to the car I said to Elaine, "I'm sorry, sweetie, that you didn't get to see the horse. I guess he went home for his supper and to bed." "You teased me, Mom" she said dejectedly, as if the entire horrific evening was some sort of elaborate practical joke I'd played on her.

But is a new day. There are new games to play, new pictures to color, a chance to do everything over. Maybe we'll see the first robin of spring today! They seem to be more reliable than horses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Do You Think He Had An Appointment?

Little things can make me ridiculously happy. Like the fact that there is Easter candy in all the stores (and in my pantry), and I can eat Brach's peacock eggs (with real fruit pectin!) and Hershey's marshmallow eggs any time I feel like it. Like the fact that it is sunny and 44 degrees here, and I kept the window rolled down all the home after dropping Lucy off at school this morning.

And like when I picked Lucy up from school (and prepared to wait in the carpool line), there was a horse standing in the schoolyard. After standing in the yard a few minutes, the horse then slowly walked across the lanes of waiting mothers in their cars, whinnied softly, walked in the front doors of the school, and disappeared down the front hall.

It was the best thing I've seen in ages, and I smiled all the way home.

Then and Now

I was talking to a friend at work who has three small children at home. He said, "Before we had kids, you just did stuff. You had things you needed to accomplish, like, wash the kitchen floor. And you just did them. But now you have to think and plan how and when you're going to get the floor done. It's challenging." I thought about it for minute. (OK, I'll be honest. I first thought, "You wash the kitchen floor? There's a MAN who washes kitchen floors?") But then I thought, it's very true. Each task that needs to get done needs almost a military campaign before it can actually happen. And the counterpart to that is that your life is also now haphazard.

Take, for instance, getting ready in the morning. Something I never really thought about previously. I would get up, work out, shower, do my hair and make-up, get dressed, and be out the door at the exact same minute on the clock on the stove every day (I had to catch a train). Every day. The same.

Here is a sample of getting ready in the morning now (taken from real-life events). The alarm goes off. Repeatedly. Darren groans, "I'm so tired. Are you tired?" Me: "I'm exhausted and I'm not even out of bed yet." The alarm goes off a few more times. Me: "We have to get up now." I hear Elaine from her crib, "Mommmmmmmmy, OUT! I wanna eat!"

I get up and cobble together what I plan to wear and drape it over the bannister (note: on mornings I go to work, the clothes are slightly better than what I wear at home. But only slightly. I've been known to hold something up, think "This really needs ironing," then think, "Oh well, it's only work," and go on my way.) Lucy comes in the bathroom while I'm brushing my teeth and says, "Can I get dressed?" "Sure," I say, and she comes back with a pink-flowered t-shirt, a red and black plaid skirt, and a purple-flowered sweater. With a Strawberry Shortcake barrette of course. She looks like she's going to interview at clown school but oddly adorable. In the meantime, I've been staring in the mirror, wondering how it's possible that I could simultaneously need anti-acne cream and anti-wrinkle cream.

After showering and getting dressed, Lucy asks if I'll brush her hair. Usually when I get within 6 inches of her hair with a brush, she starts to cry and says I'm hurting her. But today as I brushed she said, "You're brushing my hair like a gentle dove this morning, Mom." We listen to Elaine as she shouts random things from her crib. (I'm oddly reminded of the mentally ill man in the bad neighborhood where we used to live, who invariably roamed the streets at around 6:00 a.m., shouting out his thoughts as he went.) Lucy looks at me and smiles and says quietly, "She's such a little bandicoot, isn't she?" (She's learning about Australian animals. I had to look up what a bandicoot is. Here's one. Now picture it in pink-striped pajamas.)

We go in together to get Elaine out of her bed. Her hair is standing on end, and she's got one leg hoisted over the edge of the crib, sort of like a cat burglar making his escape. (As I read over what I've written so far, there's apparently a penchant in our family for metaphor and simile.) I get her out and lay her on the guestroom bed to change her diaper and dress her. "I want Zoe!" she proclaims (she has a Zoe sweatshirt, size 18 months, that she would wear every day if I let her). I talk her into something else, and amazingly, she complies. Now all three of us are dressed and ready to meet the day.

I will not lie. Sometimes I miss the days of peace and order, the perpetually clean house, the luxury of not having to speak to anyone before I'd had two cups of tea. But life is different now, and my mornings are punctuated with the singing and chattering of two little girls. I must admit, if it were silent, I would miss that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Now That's Just Sad

Somehow we have ants in our house. Big, ugly, black carpenter ants. We can't figure out where they came from or where they're concentrated either because they just randomly appear--under the coffee table, in the kitchen sink, outside the upstairs bathroom. They're equal opportunity offenders. And being the houseful of (mostly) girls that we are, each time there's an ant sighting, it's cause for alarm.

Here's a typical scene:

Me: AGH! There's one of those grody ants. Somebody get a shoe--right away! (we never seem to have any of the hundreds of shoes in the house at hand or on foot). Get a napkin! Get a kleenex!

Lucy: (scream) An ant! Get out of this house, ant! We'll kill you! (Should I be alarmed about this type of militaristic rhetoric?)

Elaine: Mom, Mom, Mom! A bug! Get it! Step on it! Yucky!

So, yesterday we were playing out this same scene because we spotted three of them in three different places while running around trying to find the implements to hasten their death. (I'm sorry if anyone reading this is one of those St. Francis of Assisi types. Trust me, I'm an animal lover too. But insects belong outdoors. They're only asking for trouble by entering my house. They should know better.)

I said to Lucy, "Honey, please. Just run and get a tissue and squish that living room ant with it while I get this one in the kitchen with my shoe. You can do it, I know you can."

She said (in a teary, dramatic voice), "Oh Mama, I can't. I need YOU to do it. You're so brave! You're just the bravest person I know!"

So, yeah. I killed all the ants. My girls are now safe again. I'm brave like that.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A (Sort of) Typical Morning

A few weeks ago, Lucy slipped and fell on the hardwood floor. She said she hurt her mouth, but she didn't cry for very long and seemed OK, so we thought everything was cool. About four days later, I noticed that her top front tooth was gray. Ergo, a trip to the dentist (which we needed to do anyway). Now, being us, of course we don't have a dentist here in town (we've lived here only three years, you know). We kept our previous dentist (good dentists are hard to find), but that means we drive an hour and a half to get there. And the only appointment he has today is 8:30 a.m. I'll let you do the math on the time we have to leave here.

I was up at 5:30 to get ready, and when I was done I heard moaning and crying from Elaine's room. I threw open the door and demanded, "Who is fussing in here?" She was lying face down on the bare mattress because for some unknown reason, each night she likes to remove her sheets after I've put her in bed. She popped her head up and gave me a big grin (fake crying to be sure). She immediately stood up and said, "I throw Jackie out of here," then unceremoniously dumped her baby on the floor. I asked, "Where are Jackie's clothes?" "De're in de wash," she answered (I'm raising a Chicagoan for sure).

She then held on the rails of her crib and began to bounce up and down. I picked her up and she hugged me tight and said, "I love you too much, Mom" (by the way, in case you're wondering, this is a GREAT way to start the day). I said, "Go in and wake up Lucy, OK?" I then heard her stomp off in her footie pajamas and yell, "LUUUUUUUUUCY! Time for supper!"

When we got down to the kitchen (and after starting the car--sing it with me now, I'll be SO GLAD when winter is over), I said, "We have to have a simple breakfast this morning since we're in a hurry. Would you like yogurt and apple bread or berry bars?" Lucy said, "I'd like apple bread, please!"

Elaine looked me straight in the eye, smiled that naughty smile, and said, "I'd like cotton candy, please."

Won't the dentist love that?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Mirror Reflection

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a birthday party Lucy attended that had a Hannah Montana theme. I felt a little bad afterward because I wrote about it in a flippant way and denigrated it, and, if someone reading this has made the call to let their little girl like Hannah Montana, I would never want to be hurtful and ungracious in my speech.

Then I had a friend email me and say something like, "Don't you think you're setting yourself up for a backlash down the road?" and yes, maybe that could be true. Some of our cousins weren't allowed to have sugar and candy. They went on vacation with us once when we were all little. My dad bought us a bag of those delicious, sugary orange slices, and our cousins, apparently crazed with years of sugar deprivation, ate most of the bag (OK, and I'm still a little bitter about that). I know there's a certain principle of denial--if you're too stringent about something, then you're just asking your kid to stage a complete rebellion and embrace it as soon as they're able.

On the other hand, there are certain battles I have to pick as a mother, and this is one of them. Oh, not just Hannah Montana per se, but fighting the insidious creeping truth in our society that a) little girls are sexualized beings and b) the outside is more important than the inside.

I read an article in the NY Times last week on this very topic. Here are a few quotes: "But today, cosmetic companies and retailers increasingly aim their sophisticated products and service packages squarely at 6- to 9-year-olds, who are being transformed into savvy beauty consumers before they’re out of elementary school... We live in a culture of insta-celebrity. Our little girls now grow up thinking they need to be ready for their close-up, lest the paparazzi arrive...At Club Libby Lu, a mall-based chain and the most mainstream of the primping party outlets, girls of any age can mix their own lip gloss and live out their pop idol fantasies. Last year, the chain did about a million makeovers in its 90 stores nationwide...Many of those were Hannah Montana makeovers, which entail donning blond wigs, makeup and concert costumes like the ones the girls’ idol wears...."

I was talking to my friend Sarah last week, and her daughter is one year older than Lucy and in kindergarten. She recently got two invitations to birthday parties: one was a My Little Pony party (perfectly fine). The other was a pajama party where the girls would be given makeovers and they would watch High School Musical. (Girls of 6 need makeovers?)

I know mothers of boys have their own parenting issues to deal with with that gender. This is what mothers of girls have to contend with. How do I bring them up to have fun (because admittedly, we love clothes and shoes and purses around here! As I type, they are dressing their Maggie Leigh doll together...) but not to cross that line? That line that tells little girls that their outer wrapping is more important than their soul? That line that tells 5- and 6-year-olds how to dress and act in order to attract the opposite sex? Yikes. Or..."Grossy" as Elaine would say.

Other people have written about this topic far more eloquently than I have. But one of the topics that is taking up my space in my brain lately (and really, these girls hog up about 97% of what's in there!) is the tricky proposition of teaching, and more importantly, modeling for them how they should live and view the world--especially as women.

The other day, I read in my quiet time about how whenever Moses came down from talking with God on the mountain, his face shone with God's reflected glory--so much so that the people were afraid, and Moses covered his face with a veil. Paul later used Moses as a reference point in 2 Cor. 3:18 "We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

My most recent prayers for both myself and my girls is that when people see our faces, our lives, that they won't see brown eyes or blue eyes or dimples or the annoying glasses I've been forced to wear recently, or whatever cute (or not cute!) clothes we're wearing, but instead they'll see Jesus. In our words and our smiles, they'll see His glory. His kindness. His gentleness.

It's an ongoing process. A lifelong one, I think!

When Bloggers Meet...

(From left: Me, Ann-Marie, Juliet) The should-be winners of the Sequence match
(From left: Brett, Gary, Darren) The Cheaters (Brett exempted)

...and two random cute girls in their green velvet Sunday dresses...

Monday, March 03, 2008

After the weekend...

Friday night, Darren decided he wanted to take Lucy to a hockey game. She was all excited to go even though she didn't even know what hockey is just because she loves hanging out with Dad, and any sporting event with him means copious amounts of junk food for dinner. After they left and I got Elaine down to bed, I made myself a delicious bacon-avocado-tomato sandwich on sourdough bread with chips and washed down with pop with a dessert of Easter candy and ate it all in bed while watching an old Miss Marple movie. To me, it was the height of social splendor and there's nothing I'd rather be doing more on a Friday night.

Saturday Darren and Lucy went bowling, another first for her (too bad, no pictures). She came home all excited because she'd gotten a spare, which now places her bowling at a higher level than anything I've ever achieved.

Elaine and I stayed home, cleaned the house, and chatted as we often do. A few weeks ago, we took the girls out to breakfast but didn't tell them before we got there. We pulled into the parking lot of Perkins, and Lucy said, "Are we going out to breakfast? Can we eat at this restaurant?" as if this wonderful idea had just occurred to her. I said, "Well, you can, but not Elaine. We're leaving her here in the car." I keep forgetting Elaine's not a baby anymore, because she really understood that and burst into tears. I had to apologize and say, "I'm sorry, Smoochie! I was just teasing you! I would never go to breakfast without you!" Throughout the rest of the day, she would occasionally say (in an accusing voice), "You tease me at breffuss, Mom."

Anyway, now anytime I tell her "No" about anything, even legitimately she'll say, "Don't tease me, Mom!" as if she can't imagine that she would ever be denied anything, so I guess we're still working on comprehension. I should probably stop teasing her for now, but it's kind of fun so I'm finding it hard to resist. On Saturday she wanted to go to the store with me, and I said, "Nah, you just stay here while I go." She looked up and said, "Don't tease. You're wicked, Mom." OK, then.

Saturday night Juliet from "Retired and Loving It," her husband Gary, her daughter Ann-Marie from "The Left-Handed Rabbit," and her husband Brett, all came over for pizza and games. We've known Juliet and Gary for a little while now, but we hadn't met Ann-Marie and Brett in person yet. I told the girls they were all coming, and I asked Elaine, "Are you going to be nice and friendly and talk?" She said, "I will peek at them." That's pretty much just what she did. Lucy however talked Juliet's ear off and discussed the intricate plot points of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Blossom Festival and showed both Juliet and Ann-Marie her room.

We dispatched the girls pretty quickly to bed, but I think they knew they were missing out on having fun because Lucy asked, "You're having PIZZA?!" and when I tucked Elaine in she asked suspiciously, "You goin' to bed too now?"

We all had the aforementioned pizza and Gary's made-from-scratch apple pie. Then we had a Sequence cage match, which the women narrowly lost because Gary and Darren engaged in table talk. Cheaters.

I'll have a couple pictures tomorrow...

Saturday, March 01, 2008