Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meet Fiona

Malachi got a Webkinz (Webkin?) for his Birthday, and of course I helped him get it all set up. I helped a lot. Not because he needed the help, because he's a total computer whiz, but because Webkinz? Super fun.

A couple weeks ago Alif & I were working in the nursery at church and my friends Kim & Kristi were talking about Webkinz. They asked if I ever play and I laughingly admitted that I'd been playing with Malachi's. "Oh, no!", Kim said, "You have to get your OWN!" Kristi added, "He'll mess it all up." It turns out that these two awesome Mommies play Webkinz like, all the time. Kristi's all, "are you going to the Extravaganza?" Whaaaaat? She told me all about it and we did indeed to to the Webkinz Extravaganza - Friday AND Saturday. We left Friday with Fiona for me and Saturday we adopted Stripey the black & white cat for Caris, Max the cocker spaniel for Graham, and Painter the leopard for Malachi.

So ok, I totally wish I could show you my Webkinz room but I can't. But if you want to add me as your Webkinz friend, my Webkinz name is HisKids37. Make sure you comment or e-mail and tell me who you are though so I know who's contacting me. I can't be getting all crazy out there in Webkinz world.

Be warned, if you're intrigued by Webkinz and think you might want to join the underground world of Webkinz Mommies, it can suck HOURS out of your day. Seriously.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Inside Out

A few nights ago Alif was out and the kids were in bed, so I was alone with my thoughts, which is pretty unusual around here. I sat down with a clean piece of binder paper and a pen and thought it would be a nice time to write out some areas of self-improvement that I'd like to work on. I thought I'd come up with about 4-6 general areas. Half an hour and Supernanny in the background later, I had more than filled up that sheet of binder paper. I was surprisingly not depressed about this. I pictured my PBPGINFWMY pin (please be patient; God is not finished with me yet) and said to myself, I said self (I know you hate me for saying that), "This is a job for my God." I also thought that it's no wonder God keeps us on this Earth for more than a few years. He's got a lot of work to do on hearts like mine!

ANYway. About 6-8 self-improvement ideas in, I realized that there is no way I can make these changes on my own. I need help. I need advice. I need support or at least commiseration. That is where you come in!

Introducing . . . . INSIDE OUT! Inside Out will focus on areas of improvement. Notice I've dropped the "self"? This is work for a big God, not for a puny gal like me. I've tried and tried and failed and failed. I need God to make these changes inside my heart, and because of his promise to me in Philippians 1:6 I know that He will not fail. He will not give up.

Come along with me, won't you? Let's focus on some areas that we struggle in and see just what our big, faithful God can really do! In the next day or two I'll reveal our first focus area. 'Til then! ::muah::

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

God With Us

Alif's parents own a couple of time-shares, so they sometimes get opportunities to preview other time-shares to see if they'd like to buy in to them. They invited us along on their most recent trip so we could celebrate Alif's 34th Birthday in style. We stayed at a beautiful resort at Avila Beach. As soon as I heard about this trip I got a little nervous. Avila Beach is right next door to Shell Beach, where my Grandparents lived. I hadn't been over there in quite a while - my last trip was to help clear out the house after we had moved them both to nursing homes in town. Even then it was a time of grieving. I have so many cherished memories of this quaint little beach town.

A lot has happened since that last trip. Both of my Grandparents have passed on. Their old house was torn down and a new one built in its place. How could I face driving through Shell Beach, seeing this new house, knowing my Grandparents are really really GONE?

The drive over was both soothing and painful. The familiarity of it was like a punch in the gut, over and over, but also comforting. I told Alif as we drove, "I would like to take a photographic trip over here, where I can stop any time something strikes me. It wouldn't be about the beach and everything, it would just be a way to document this trip, this place." He, in all of his emotionally sensitive splendor, said, "I'll let you do that." I thought, "Pbbt!" but then - hey, maybe I will. Maybe Mom and Megan and I could take a little photographic trip over here, stay in the Apple Farm like we always wanted to, and then compile our efforts into a big Shutterfly photobook to treasure. (Mom? Megan? Want to?)

As we got closer Alif asked where I'd like to go first. I said I didn't know but ultimately it came down to me. I said I'd like to go to Shell Beach, dreading it even as I said it. How it hurt to see the Shell Beach exit, the Welcome to Shell Beach sign, all the familiar businesses and streets. Tears trickled down as I saw that the city has built a cool new playground at one end. It's changed! It's not exactly the same as the last time I was here! By the time we reached my Grandparents' old street, the tears were streaming down. Mom was right, though - I was pleasantly surprised at the new house built on their lot. It looks like an upgraded version of what used to stand in its place. There was a young woman gardening in the front yard and a young man standing in the driveway, chatting with his neighbor. They're really, really gone. They no longer walk these streets, arm in arm.

Alif asked where I'd like to park for beach access and I said, "this is so much harder than you might think. Let's please just go down to that new park." I pulled myself together and the kids had a lovely time and thought the new park was awesome. After that we left Shell Beach, thankfully, and headed into Avila. I took the kids swimming in the hotel pool, and then we had dinner on the pier in Avila at a nice, unfamiliar restaurant. When we got back to the hotel I took Malachi into the bedroom and hugged him. He was being so attitude-ish. I told him that we all have bad days sometimes, and is there something he would like to talk about? He said no and looked grumpy. I told him, "You know what, honey? On the way in here today, I had to have a nice, long cry in the car. It was so overwhelming to me to drive in to a place so familiar to me and to know that my Grandparents are gone now. I really miss them." Wow, was I shocked when he started bawling. I haven't seen him cry that hard in a long, long time. I asked if he was missing them too and he nodded. I held him there for a long time and then asked if he'd like some time to be alone. He said he would. I was so sad for him feeling that way, but so grateful too that he DOES carry a strong memory of them, of this place that mean so much to me.

The next morning we went out to the beach and like the soft waves pouring in, my grief set in again. Visions of my Grandparents walking along the street, the stores they used to frequent, the restaurants. Having a familiar, loving place to visit when we went to the beach. Everything we did, everything anyone said, evoked some memory very precious to me. Alif asked if I'd like to take a nap with him and I thought of that big oak bed upstairs, those white curtains we pesky cousins once dropped out onto the grass and stained green, the view onto their backyard from the upstairs window, plants calling to be watered, an old water pump waiting for little hands to work it again. Oh, Lord, how can it all be gone? This is unbearable! I miss them too much!

That afternoon we drove in to San Luis to visit the mission there and gather information for Malachi's 4th-grade mission project. I dreaded seeing some little shop where my Grandma loved to look at fabrics or something but didn't and felt very thankful. My last memories of the San Luis farmer's market were just of Alif & I. It was a nice afternoon, feeling somewhat emotionally steady and really enjoying the mission and the information we received there.

Then we took one last trip down to the beach. I walked slowly with Canaan as he chased the seagulls and picked up treasures of driftwood, seaweed or rocks. Alif & Fred walked along behind the big kids as they darted in and out of the water, climbed rocks, stashed their own little treasures into a big blue grocery bag. Canaan sat and I sat next to him, combing through the sand like I did as a little girl, looking for polished little bits of white shells. The wave came over me again: They're really not here, Lord. They're really with you, and I'm glad they are but this hole is so BIG. I can't stand it, Lord, I can't stand it. I can't face that they're gone from this place. In that moment, with my kids around me and my husband strong and sure, and the sun setting, birds soaring overhead, waves crashing in higher now, smooth stones glistening, God spoke clearly to my heart:
God with us
so close to us
God with us
I sang that refrain over and over, this time like a soothing, calming wave over my heart. My Grandparents aren't my security. Their home wasn't my security either. Even my own parents, husband, children aren't my security. God is my safe place, and he is with me wherever I go, whatever path my feet may travel, whatever place I call home. I know that mourning my Grandparents will take time, but I am so thankful that I can choose to live in the security that God is with me.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Before I had children I worked in an office. Well, I had lots of little jobs before I had kids, but the one I had just before I had my first son was in an office. It was a clear-cut job: I got up early in the morning, showered, dressed, rushed out the door and fought with the 8:00 traffic to get to my desk by 8:00, or hopefully a few minutes before. I had an inbox and various files; I had computer documents to fill in and phone calls to make. I faxed some things and mailed others. I took a one-hour lunch break and at 5:00 I cleaned up my desk and went home.

Then I had kids. I stopped working outside the home and each day was more full of joy than it ever had been at the office, but it was also a jumbled, confusing, non-structured pile of days. I figured I'd approach life like I had when I worked and just make sure I was ready for each day bright and early. Any mother knows that isn't as simple as it sounds.

Four kids, a home business, homeschooling and internet access have really complicated matters. I'm doing good to be dressed and ready for the day at any point during my day. If I'm ready first thing it's a huge accomplishment. If my home is clean and dinner cooked, I've really mastered the day. If it's a mess and we eat take-out - well, at least we've eaten something and have clothes to wear. And speaking of, let's not even get into the laundry situation.

What's my point here? We moms are all in this together. We all struggle to get it all done and frankly, I don't know a single one who does. It's a busy time of life and perfection isn't a realistic goal.

However. Did you know that my name means "industrious"? It does. I've always felt completely unworthy of having that meaning attached to my name. I'm so not industrious. I have always had problems with time management. In fact, I remember having two books when I was a little girl about time and money management. They absolutely intrigued me. Making schedules and budgets - ooooh, so fun! Doing them though? Not so much.

Which brings me to the point. I think. I am reading through Genesis right now and boy did I see some things in a fresh light! Let's go to Genesis 2 and look at a few verses that you've read a bunch of times. We're in a place where we're learning about creation.

5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground

WOAH, NELLIE! I am seeing two things here. First, the systems of earth weren't ready to support plant life yet, and second, there wasn't anyone to work it. How many of God's blessings am I missing out on in my life because I'm not ready and I'm not willing to work? A major theme at my Grandma's funeral on Monday was her hospitality. My Grandma was just amazing at it. Every one of us grandkids has such good memories of being in her home - our friends were just as welcome as we were, and they opened their lovely home to us hundreds of times over the years. Being hospitable is a big goal of mine, but am I doing my part? My home isn't ready. I always have to do substantial cleaning before we have a party. Maybe if I'd work the way God has called me to, His gifts could play out in a bigger way in my life (and thus create a ministry that I am currently unable to carry out!).

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Ok, we skipped a few verses so maybe we're thinking that this is after they ate the apple and got in trouble and now they have to work. Mmm, no. Because after they got busted, they had to leave the Garden of Eden. Here's the thing: they were put in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. It was their purpose in life! When it really boils down, isn't that my purpose too? To take care of my husband, my children, my home, the people God places in my life? Right now, my work isn't in an office, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be taking it seriously. How effective a mother am I if I'm still in pajamas at noon? Should a friend call at 10 and ask if we'd like to go to the park, the answer is no because I'm not ready.

Let's go back a little bit, to 2:3b

he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

My husband works hard all day, and then he comes home and works hard. He does not eat the bread of idleness. At night though, when the work is done and it's time to relax, he relaxes hard. He sits quietly and watches a movie or talks with me and then he crawls into bed and falls asleep in less than a minute. He does not, like me, need to lie in bed reading until he cannot read any more. He isn't anxious or jittery, he's tired. He's genuinely tired from working hard all day long. I think that these two thoughts are very closely related. If I spend my day working hard, two things happen: I complete my tasks, which relieves anxiety, and I'm physically weary. Working hard + tasks completed = real rest.
Lift Up Your Hearts is getting a face lift! The make-over is in progress, so check back soon for the final product!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Too busy

WOW. Elisabeth Elliot's devotionals often give me something new to think about, but today's actually made me say WOW.

One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.

Monday, April 07, 2008

It's her day

My much-beloved Grandma went home to be with Jesus today. We Christians use that phrase a lot when we talk about other believers' deaths, and it's a comfort to us to know that our loved ones are in Heaven. Today though, this is the first time that my joy for a loved one being with Jesus has really outweighed my grief. Don't get me wrong, I've cried so much today. A couple hours after I got the news I got in the shower and had a good, long, cleansing cry.

"Go to sleep little pumpkin, and tuck in your toes
When you wake in the mornin' you will turn to a rose

Go to sleepy little baby
Go to sleepy little baby
When you wake
You'll patty-patty-cake
And ride a shiny little pony"

I will miss her so much. She was the kind of Grandma every child wants to have. She was such an example.

She was an example of a Godly woman. My Grandma loved Jesus with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything she did was about serving Him, honoring Him, loving Him. Even in the little things, like finding a good parking spot: "Thank you, Lord!"

She knew how to be hospitable. My Grandma had us (and so many others) in her beautiful home at every opportunity. There was never any need to knock. We'd pull up, walk in and call, "Yoo hoo!" (just like she did when they came to our house!) and she was always ready. There was gum in the candy dish. Mixed juices in the morning, each cup already poured and waiting on the table. Fresh oranges from the tree in the yard. Watering cans that little hands could easily handle. A basket of toys in the closet. Walks down the street to Shell Beach, naps upstairs with the white curtains blowing in the beachy breeze, meals around the big oak table, cuckoo clock chiming out the hours, bounce-bounce-bouncing up and down when she tucked us in at night, her soft, strong hands on our chests. And when it was time to go, she and Grandpa standing arm in arm on the front porch, waving 'till we couldn't see each other any more. "Let the phone ring twice when you get home."

Grandma was a most excellent wife.
I never heard a single negative comment about my Grandpa come from her mouth. She supported him and loved him and kept personal matters private.

She showed us how to have FUN! We have a long legacy of laughers in my family. I don't know how far back it goes, but my great-grandma Gonny was a laugher and my Grandma even more so. We're not just talking about subdued giggles here - my Grandma could really LAUGH. Tears streaming down her face, full-blown laughing. I'm glad to say that trait has carried through the generations just fine.

Grandma was a peace-maker. She knew how to keep us kids in control and any time two people started gettin' snippy, she'd say, "Now, now." And somehow that was enough.

Grandma taught us how to give. From a very young age, Grandpa and Grandma took us kids on vacations with them, kept us at their house for a week or so, drove over and over to see our recitals, graduations, Birthday parties, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. They loved to be with us, and the feeling was mutual. Grandma was the family glue.

There's never been a Grandma more loved. I will miss her so, so much, but I rest in comfort knowing that she's with our Savior. I love you, Grandma.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I'm not one to get hung up on growth percentiles, but I do think it's fun to run them every so often for kicks. I marvel at how different my kids are, and this is just one more (albeit small) way to see how unique God made them. Here's where they fall in the lineup today:

At 10 years:

your child is 67.5 pounds, and that is
at the 39th percentile for weight.

your child is 54.75 inches, and that is
at the 51st percentile for height.

At 8 years and 4 months:

your child is 58.5 pounds, and that is
at the 49th percentile for weight.

your child is 54 inches, and that is
at the 88th percentile for height.

At 4 years and 10 months:

your child is 45.5 pounds, and that is
at the 84th percentile for weight.

your child is 46.5 inches, and that is
at greater than the 97th percentile for height.

At 14 months:

your child is 27.5 pounds, and that is
at the 88th percentile for weight.

your child is 31 inches, and that is
at the 54th percentile for height.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I've always wanted to try making tortillas and have heard it's easy, but I just have never given it a go. Last week I finally decided to just go for it. It really was easy! Here you go, check it out and try making your own!

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 cup warm water

Mix dry ingredients. Add in vegetable shortening and mix in well with a fork. Add water and stir, then knead (about 2 minutes), to make a dough. It shouldn't be sticky, so if it is then add a little more flour.

Divide into twelve little balls, cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

On a well-floured surface, roll into a circle, nice and thin.
Plop onto a nice hot griddle. Wait just until bubbles form (it's quick, just a few seconds!) and then flip over for a few more to finish 'er up.
Enjoy with mounds of butter, then run three miles to burn off all the fat and calories. Like I always do when I eat something like this. That's why I'm so incredibly trim & fit. Yeah.