Thursday, July 30, 2009

as i drove down the last leg of our journey home from san francisco today and hit the breathtaking views of the coast, i got quite emotional about the prospect of leaving this place. i broke out with an old mix cd that crystal had made me years ago, and started crying when this song came on. it is a perfect description of what i have come to learn about God in my own prayers...

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessd beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace ...

But, Jesus, would You please ...

-Nichole Nordeman

Saturday, July 25, 2009

more umbrellas

awhile ago, i posted a note of thankfulness because a couple we know had handed us a trader joe's gift certificate. for some reason, i had titled the post "umbrella in a storm." well. we really needed the food money at the time, and finances were stormy, so it kinda made sense. God has been dropping me little umbrellas like this for a long time now, and i realize they are more like stepping stones in a rushing river, where you think you are going to fall off into the water, but at the last minute, you see another stepping stone and are able to take one more step across the water. all during our engagement there were stones like these showing up in envelopes as cash and many other ways. and God still sends them; this past month or so has been incredibly full of them, and i know i must keep my eyes on Jesus to see every day's salvation as i look to him for eternal salvation. let's give thanks for His many stones, his umbrellas that he throws us to let us know He is still covering us, and that's how it should be. truly, that's how it is even for someone who lacks nothing and thinks they are self-sufficient. all is held together by God. i am thankful to have that perspective from firsthand experience.

-the other week my friend from college got to visit us with her two kids. she left me half a costco box of diapers and wipes. right as i was all out!

-our neighbors/ old roommates asked me to babysit, which i would gladly to for them for free, and then gave me an exorbitant amount of money as "pay," even though their daughter was in her room the entire time!

-our other neighbors/old roommates came by and dropped off a trader joe's gift certificate (yes, another one!) on the eve of us going to AZ. it fed us the whole time we were there.

-our friends in AZ wanted us to be able to come visit for a wedding of an old friend, so they paid for our gas! there i was with an entirely free vacation on my hands! praise God. when they handed us "the greenbacks," it covered a lot more than just our gas costs...

-the same friends gave us diapers, clothes, and (drumroll) an external hard drive! (i have been talking about getting one to save my pics from hard drive problems. there ya go. God hooked it up.)

-today there was a little miracle envelope in the mail: a gift certificate to Fresco, AND a gift card to peet's?! i have my suspicions as to who it was, but...i guess anonymous gift givers like to remain anonymous. "who loves us?" sparrow asked. "i don't know..." i said, "...God."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

june quotables

"i just have one question: can you give me a hug?" -june 2

"can we sit and read in the lightness?" -easrly june, after having turned light on

(i have a character called "sunny wunny" i make up poems about (wunny from "wonne:" means joy, delight). sparrow absolutely loves her. i do impromptu poems about her most every night while i floss sparrow's teeth. they are usually loosely based on something sparrow did that day.)
me: "sunny wunny watched a leopard movie, up late with her daddy..."
sp: "and it was totally SAD." -june 8

sparrow loves a good narrative. i am convinced it's from all that reading we do. i estimate that i've read her about 4,000 books so far, some are repeats of course. every month or so i go to the library and check out between 40 and 60 new books to keep us busy for the next stretch... sparrow is now constantly asking for me or thomas to tell her stories we make up as well, and she is beginning to create stories of her own! here goes a good one:
sp: "once upon a time there was a little puppy and he had a mama. and they were lost in the woods. and they went swimming in the ocean at the beach that was in the big woods."
me: "and then what happened?"
sp: "there was a big shark and it swallowed them up." -june 8

(we do baby sign with golden and are making up signs for all the animals)
me: "what sign should we do for 'horse'?"
sp: holds up middle fingers and waves them around. "this one! this is the sign for horse!" (aaaaah, no. no, that can't be the sign for horse...) -june 8

sp: "mom, can i have a balloon?"
me: "sure, do you want a string on it?"
sp: "yeah, and i want to give it to you. you will get a balloon, mommy."
me: "oh, thank you, i will be so happy!"
sp: "you will be welcomed." -june 12

"i swung down." (correct past tense of "swing!" wow!) -june 11

me: "we don't have that kind of food right now."
sp: "let's go get some at trader joe's."
me: "well in order to buy stuff at trader joe's you actually have to have some money first."
sp: "maybe we could go to the bank AND to trader joe's!" -early june

"squishiness, squishiness is what i long for, squishiness is what i neeeeeeeed..." -june 14

sp: "tomorrow your belly will get big and you will have a baby."
me: "well, maybe not tomorrow, but probably someday soon. would you like it if you got another sister or brother?"
sp: "brother."
me: "but what if it's a girl, cause we can't decide."
sp: "well if i change my mind i will get a girl. but someday i will get a boy. a baby boy." -june 17

me: "and Jesus was really popular with a lot of the people..."
sp: "but what about his israelites?" -june 18

sp: "golden! golden! where's golden?"
me: "golden! guggen-heim!"
sp: "is that how you say it in german?" -june 18

me: "what is it that you like about daddy?"
sp: "cause if you don't have your family, there will be no mamma and daddas cause you will be all alone." -june 21 (father's day)

"i like toys and i like daddy." -june 21

(playing 'pregnant' with a balloon in her shirt)
"mom, i'm going to have a baby and it's going to be a boy. named freddy. mom, are you so excited about my baby? would you like to come to the hospital with me? (pulling it out)'s a b-b-b-balloon!" -june 21

me: "sunny wunny is a girl so sweet. she likes to smile & say 'ooh, that's neat!' she goes skipping down the street..."
sp: "and she stays on the road longer and cars run her over." -june 25 (what's with the morbid story endings??!!)

"kootzenkatz." -june 27 (she re-named a little clown whistle toy)

"my daughter's name is reophebek. my daughter's name is two-cats." -june 28

trying to settle in to the couch for a read:
me: "i still feel like i have no room."
sp: "well, it will go away in a second... when you get up." -june 29

"when it's my birthday there will be lo-o-o-o-o-o-ts of marshmallows. and butter." -june 29

blueberry picking

kind of last minute, we drove up to buellton this afternoon to a blueberry farm and had the most fun family outing. we brought our jogging stroller and golden was able to entertain herself picking and eating berries if i parked her close enough to a bush! good times for all.

seriously, here's the best thing about picking blueberries (where you can eat while you pick):
being able to shove a huge handful of them in your mouth without feeling guilty that you just ate four dollars in one bite!

and, of course, getting to eat this dessert late at night: (don't tell mary-ann.)
restoration oaks blueberry farm is open 10:30 to 5:30 every day through the season. no pesticides are used. be prepared to pay $15 per (small-ish) bucket, though. i thought it was worth it for the original experience! still cheaper than grocery store prices. (but hey, i bet farmers LOVE it when they can get customers to come up and pick their own berries, m? smart!) call 805-689-9014 for more info.

Friday, July 10, 2009

4th of july

this has always been my favorite holiday. summertime, history, patriotism, fireworks...

we went to the stowe house in the AM to see what was going on at their kids festival, but turned right around when we saw the entrance fee and detoured into the train museum instead, which was free. and sparrow did not even know the difference! she was extremely excited about the trains. as was i. i love learning about cool old stuff.

in the afternoon i was able to pick up some fire crackers and flags while out getting food for the potluck. the flags were made in the USA--thank God; it would have been just classic to give the chai-comms another profit from buying an american flag on independence day. sparrow was as happy as christmas when i brought the flags home. she sang and danced and waved them around (and still does.) she kept exclaiming, "i love my american flag!" i am sure she diesn't quite get the patriotism thing yet--does she even know what a country is? no. a few examples of her impression of the 4th of july. when i told her it was our country's birthday, she said, "are we gonna get the fourth day of july a birthday cake?" also, a few days before we had been in trader joe's and she had suddenly said, "ooh, is it a holiday?" i'd looked up and seen that she was pointing out a red/white/blue star wreath thing hanging up. "oh, it IS a holiday, sparrow, but it's not christmas. it's for the fourth of july." so on the actual fourth, when we woke up in the AM i said, "hooray, it's the 4th of july!" and sparrow said, "YAAAAAAAAY! I WANNA GO TO TRADER JOE'S!" somehow she must have thought it was a tj's thing? i dunno, i just laughed at the cuteness.

the potluck at alan and melissa's was really fun. we arrived in bonnets, cowboy hats, and all, waving flags and singing the star spangled banner. gotta cheese it up when you have kids. but seriously, over the years i had lost much of my kiddish patriotism, and i am happy to say it has recently all been coming back. i am SO thankful to live in this country and hope i can be as active as possible in protecting it and the CONSERVATIVE values that made this country so free and creative and amazing. yes, amazing. the values that indeed gave every whining liberal her liberty to whine.

we set off our firecrackers on the sidewalk and drove off to the nearest fireworks in goleta. our family ended up watching them from the albertsons parking lot, and sparrow, i am happy to say, was much more enthusiastic about them this year than last. last year we were at the daltons with a super good time, but sparrow kept saying that she didn't like the fireworks and making me really sad! the year before, when she was only one year old, we had watched far off ones from our balcony, but she had been so adorable and repeating "oo" "aa" with me. i can't believe this is her fourth fourth of july! at any rate, she was still hanging on to her flag and describing all the colors to me and saying happily, "i like it, i like it, i like it!" the albertsons parking lot lights were not ideal, but we didn't care. the moon was full behind the fireworks display and it was gorgeous. even golden said, or markedly tried to say "boom boom." she was pretty scared of them at first, but with sparrow's and my excitement, she soon caught on that it was fun! anyways, i am still SO mad that i lost the little video of sparrow watching the fireworks. i got home and loaded stuff onto the computer and forgot i have to do something special with the vid. files now on my new computer. so they didn't load, and i went thru and deleted all the stuff in my camera immediately! stooooo-pid. gone. .....oh well. gone is gone. it was a fabulous and memorable day; i'll just have to commit that scene to memory.

melissa helping sparrow with firecrackers

in the celebratory spirit

Sunday, July 5, 2009

parenting is death to self

the other night i was talking with my friend who likes to go swing dancing and she mentioned that there are a few parents at the venues who bring in their kids/babies for these late-night shin digs. my response: what are they thinking? ...ok, ok, i know what they're thinking: just because i'm married with children doesn't mean i can't be hip/ go out and have some fun. just because i have kids doesn't mean i need to be boring! a little swing music never hurt anyone, right? or for the ones that are a little more honest about their motives: "darn it, i'm a great parent all day long. i deserve to go out and do the stuff i used to do. get in the pouch, gina! we're going dancing!"

young people may think that they will be a "cool" parent who can totally hang with all the young single peeps and not lose a whit of their spark. martinis, night clubs, mini skirts, pedicures, long stints at the gym, roadtrips, etc. whatever it is that floats your boat, why should you give it up when you become a mom or dad? you can be an intuitive parent, raise your kid (or kids--2 maximum!) in an "alternative" manner, and be that vivacious, up-to-date vixen at the same time, can't you?

well, sure, you can stick the baby in a sling and take them anywhere and everywhere all day long, and they LOVE it! right? close to mommy, etc. but follow this approach a little further. toddler age: if they are not in day care most of the time by now, then mom takes them out on a string of play dates, parks, and exercise sessions. these kids turn into grade schoolers who go to school all morning and to soccer all afternoon. and before you know it they are in high school and driving themselves around to multiple activities a day, and then they leave for college and you never cultivated in them a love for home nor the ability to be content in stillness.

but the bigger issue is that people are missing this one fact: parenting IS essentially a call for death to self. that is how God designed it to be. kids are people. they are not just property to tote about and show off, like clothes or dogs. so--take the home school family with the seven children, the semi-frumpy mom, the tired dad, the mediocre house... to a young outsider these people may look dull, certainly not a lot to be envied. they are wrapped up in the home life, don't know about the latest movies and music, and can't spend much money on clothes or eating out. Lord, spare me from such a fate! right? but when you look inside the family, there is LIFE. there is exuberance and love and joy and togetherness and collaboration. ideas. conversation. learning. this is what most any person in the world would say are "the most important things in life:" family, relationships, love. the parents here are rich, rich, rich in what is important. i'm willing to bet, too, that you can't have both your youthful, less meaningful pursuits AND a healthy, happy family.

you know, it is actually sad when your values don't change and deepen with experience. do we really want to be stuck in the teenage mindset of coolness and beauty obsession for the rest of our lives? that thing in us that wants to be parents who are hip and self-fulfilled has not a bit of root in God's word. rather, it is based on self-interest, worldly image-idolatry, and feminist theory. not to mention temporal perspective. God's word only ever speaks of children as an asset and a blessing. our society views them as a liability. liability to fun! how disgustingly trite that sounds. is that the kind of parent i want my kids to have?

sure, perhaps you can raise one or two kids, be a cool dancing (working/city council/perfectly pedicured) mom, and even accomplish good friendships with your children when they are grown, but is that the high road? was that the best thing for your kids? did they witness sacrificial love in their home? did they feel that their parents knew and understood them? did they gain an understanding of God's heart for them? are they well-adjusted, productive? free of emotional pitfalls like self-pity, anger, and depression? are they christian?

i know you ultimately can't make your children become christians, of course but my point is this: HOME. home is where the foundations for life are laid. and if you and your children are NOT home very much, not focused on one another, it is practically impossible to train them, let alone get to really know their heart and have opportunity in shaping it toward God. i read recently a mother who wrote that quality time is impossible to schedule. quantity time is what we must strive for, because quality time crops up in and around the mundane tasks of daily home life. so, die to yourself! take your joy and your cue from the Lord's word. make home the exciting, affirming place to be, and you will find so much fulfillment in watching your children flourish and love. you will never pine for your lost dancing nights again.