July 28, 2011

What God Chooses to Give {Unabridged}

{an unabridged re-post. original post and list here}

I don't know what I am going to make for supper tonight.

That's quite unlike me. The menu hanging on the fridge is from last week.

But not knowing what to make for supper tonight is not the only uncertainty in life. And we ask for God to give us clarity and confidence and the next big thing....

Not only do I not know what I will be feeding my family tonight, but I don't know what we will be feeling tonight. It will either be celebration or disappointment. Either way, after tonight, we will be able to move on, and I guess that's all that really matters. After 2 months, it will be nice to just know.

bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give..."

I read those words over at A Holy Experience, and my head knows it's true. I try to impress them on my heart because my head is tired.

Let God give what God chooses to give

I call the husband and ask him what time they are meeting to decide our fate. And he says 3:00 our time. He's already got his eyes set on the time. And I can hear it in his voice; fatigue after a busy, fun wedding weekend, emotional exhaustion after 2 months of courting a large company for a new position that he was asked to apply for, restrained anticipation for this evening's decision.  We didn't pursue this on our own, the opportunity fell in our lap, and now we wait.

"I'll let you know as soon as I know."

"Okay......I love you."

Let God give what God chooses to give

So I snap some asparagus out of the backyard patch and try to decide which to thaw out, venison, pork, or turkey.

The wind blows and the birds sing and the washing machine chugs and the kids play and tussle.....and the clock ticks.

Do we really want to give up our business for this opportunity?

What will God choose to give?  And how we will receive what He gives?

The tots play in the fence swinging on their tummies, throwing stuff in the kiddie pool, and yelling at each other over little disagreements. They only see what they want in that moment; they don't see the bigger picture. They don't see what Mom and Dad do. They don't fully understand that every "yes" and "no" we tell them is usually thought through what will best launch them into their future. And if I do this for my kids, how much more does God do this for me, to launch me into eternity?

He never holds back with His giving. His kingdom budget is driven by love not limitation. And what He gives in love may not make sense right now, but right now is not what matters. Tomorrow is not what matters. Eternity is what matters. And these twists and turns of today are only given to shape us for what matters.

Let God give what God chooses to give

Some days it seems my tots are never satisfied, never done wanting, needing.... always asking for that next thing. And even though it's my job right now to meet their needs and I typically enjoy doing so, I just want them to see what they already have, that they have so much, are so full........just be thankful....

And so I see that learning to receive and learning to be full of thanks are gifts in and of themselves. And I see that God gives this too......the ability to name those things when the uncertainty is nearly choking.

So God gives and we receive and we know that every good and perfect gift is from Him.

{Not linking up today but still counting. This week's gratitude post right HERE over at A Holy Experience.}
#321. finally knowing
#322. that a roller coaster of emotions does not phase God
#323. eating platefuls of garden produce
#324. toddlers happily splashing in the water
#325. beach towels
#326. sand between toes
#327. watching God work it all out:
#328. eleven interviews
#329. the husband just catching the flight he should have missed
#330. a new distributor to take over

July 22, 2011

Finished {also known as the Loaded Post}

The sky is getting dark.

There's a storm brewing up, and every now and then I can hear a low rumble of thunder in the distance over the William Joseph mix I've got cranked on Pandora.

The husband is not home yet. But it's really okay. It's his last day on the truck. {More on that in a later post...or two...or three...and actually, I've already hinted at it.} That's a tough thing to explain to the kids, and it makes me a little teary.....even though it's all good. It's not the risk and the unknown and the new-ness that gets me; it's the looking back and letting go.

By this time of the evening, I have a really hard time not focusing on all the things I didn't get done today. Even if I've had a great day, it's hard for me to see past the undone, the re-done, the never done, the forgotten.

But as I sit here typing this while the kids eat supper and compare notes on who did the most dangerous thing in the bathtub ("I dunked my head!"  "I put my face in the water!"  "I swam on my tummy!"), I realize how ridiculous I sound. I just pulled a pan of bars out of the oven and popped in two loaves of homemade french bread. I made zucchini muffins (again) this morning for breakfast, and after a picnic breakfast outside where we pretended the dog didn't lick the butter, the kids helped me do some much needed cleaning around here (which ended up only being dusting in 2 rooms of the house and cleaning the kitchen/dining room/front entry floor).

I then had the crazy idea to take the kids to the local horticulture gardens and stop on the way for ice cream cones.....with sprinkles. Did you know that melting ice cream is a lot more messy when its dragging sticky spinkles with it down your child's hand, onto his/hers clothes, and finally onto the carseat?

The kids decided they just didn't want the ice cream (??) so I was left with 3 baby-sized sprinkle cones to eat myself. And then we spent some time at the gardens in the near 90 degree heat with no breeze whatsoever.

So after all that plus the normal things I do each day, how can I really expect to get more done? And why is there always this nagging what-I-didn't-get-done mental list at the end of every day?

When I feel like this, I can't help but remember something I read in a book that I went through at my moms' Bible study last year.  There was, what the author considered, a lie with a corresponding truth.

Lie: I don't have time to do everything I'm supposed to do.
Truth: There is time in every day to do everything that God wants me to do.

And I still can't fully wrap my mind around this one. But the author drove home this thought by pointing out that Jesus accomplished everything God wanted Him to do. Jesus said, "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do" (John 17:4).

At first it's easy to say, "Well of course Jesus finished the work. He's God!"

But Jesus did not heal every cripple, every lame, every ill.....He did not cast out every demon....He did not purge Israel of the Romans.....He did not do what everyone thought he should do.

If anyone had a reason to feel weighed down by the undone and never-done, it was Jesus. But even with the sick still lining the streets, and the scoffers still lurking in the corners, and the Romans still galavanting around, He said, "I have finished the work which You have given me to do."

And I really don't know what this looks like. How is this truth suppose to play out in the reality of my life? How, how, how do I fully realize God's to-do list for my day so that I can end the day knowing I finished the work which He has given me to do?

It dawns on me as I wonder all these things that maybe it's not about what I do. Maybe it's not about a to-do list. Maybe the answer is right there.

 "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do" (John 17:4).

Maybe that's it. There will always be the struggle of balancing household duties with wifely duties with motherhood duties with stupid, crazy, expensive, fun hobbies. But maybe it's not about acheiving the perfect balance so much as it is about glorifying God while daily working to find the balance.

I dunno. But that would be just like God......to put the answer right there....to make it simple.

So I wonder what my life will look like now that I've quit my job {more on that in another post}. What will those extra 8-16 hours a week look like for me?

And with the toys still lining the floors and the dust still lurking in the corners and the half-dressed toddlers still galavanting around, can I say "I have finished the work you have given me to do?"

July 21, 2011

Visions of Peas

I have this vision.

I am sitting on a swing on the deck. The kids are on either side of me, and the dog is laying at my feet.

The summer evening air is warm and still, and there are no bugs. We quietly talk about our day and sing a few silly songs. There are lots of smiles and laughs and love.

We're shelling peas together. Every now and then we steal a few peas to munch on, but the bowl of shelled peas fills more quickly than the bowl of empty pods

There are enough peas for us to eat fresh with supper for many nights and enough to freeze for the winter. Every time we eat them, we smile and think of the wonderful time we had shelling them all together, and we talk about how the weeds never seem to grow in our garden.


I have this reality.

I throw some salmon on the grill and run out to the garden in my husband's sandles to quick pull a few pods off the vine. The intense heat of the past week makes me concerned that my cooler-temps loving peas will soon shrivel. I steal a few seconds to pull the weeds that seem to grow overnight and repeatedly scold the dog for romping through the carrotts and onion.

I shell the peas hurriedly in the kitchen while the brown rice cooks. The pitifully small amount of peas steams quickly while I throw everything on the table and call everyone to supper.

I carefully dish out a golf-ball sized amount of peas onto four plates and make up fanciful tales in order for the kids to eat them, pretending the peas are little baby Nemos and that we have to put them into our mouths to save them from the big scary shark . (I realize it makes no sense, but it works.)

Reality is rarely what it should be.

Visions are rarely reality.

But that's okay.


We've been eating lots and lots of salads around here. The garden lettuce is tough to keep with up! We've got buckets of it in the refrigerator and it seems to grow back almost as soon as I mow it down with my scissors. Thankfully everyone in the house loves a lettuce salad!

I'm always looking for new things to try with these salads, and the latest concoction was roasted garbonzo beans (aka chick peas).
Drain, rinse, and pat dry one can of garbonzo beans.
Spread on a cookie sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and season as desired (this particular recipe called for cumin and coriander. I used cumin and a little bit of cayenne. If I try it again, I will likely use garlic salt or powder and paprika).
Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20 min, stirring once.
Sprinkle on salad.

We enjoyed a decent amount of freshly picked green beans at supper the other night. Despite a heat index of 115 degrees, my children loved picking them and were thrilled to gobble them up.

Green beans out of the garden are one of our all time favorites around here. I still have a few bags of beans  in the freezer from last year, which is okay since I don't think our green bean harvest will be quite as plentiful this year.

And I am loving the fence that my husband and his brother put up around my typically-eaten-by-critters plants. It's made with hog-paneling that my in-laws let me reclaim, and it also serves as a support for the peas.


Everything had a slow start around here with a dreary May and a cool June. But a hot July has given us hope for a bountiful harvest. Everything is in bloom and putting on fruit. And most of the garden appreciated the 5 days of 90+ temps with the 90%+ humidity that was thankfully buffered by 4 inches of rain the previous week.
{marigolds from my annual trip to Lu's greenhouse with the brunettes that are finally doing something}

{zucchini blooms. What to do with the 10+ bags of frozen shredded zucchini still in the freezer?)

{I had 3 blueberries amongst my 3 blueberry plants. Now, I only have 2 blueberries. But they are ripening!}

And guess what!? I am actually doing a KinderGardens post this week! And I am actually writing it long before the Mr. Linky closes. And I am linking up right HERE.

July 17, 2011

Lake Andrew

We broke with tradition this year.

Instead of spending a week with my mom's side of the family on Lake Ida, we found ourselves at Lake Andrew.

Minnesota's got 10,000 lakes. No sense spending all our time at just one.

{thanks to Uncle for coordinating efforts and footing the bill}

We were a *bit* more laid back this year.

Just kneeboarding, tubing, swimming, and dock jumping for us.

Heat, humidity, and too many people in life transitions makes for a less motivated crew.

But as only the lake can do, we found ourselves relaxed enough to leave it all behind to eat, bond, and be family.

Our weekend visit was capped off with the storm of the summer that sent us to the basement for shelter and blocked off our way home with 2 downed power lines and a felled tree.

Our middle of the week visit left us with clouds, drizzle, and rain, keeping us inside with Grandma to make necklaces and bracelettes, work jigsaw puzzles, and build jet skis out of legos.

{and take noisy pictures}

Momma and Jack-Jack did venture down to the docks for a dip in the 80 degree water on a 60 degree day.

Some beautiful and meaningful words should go here to conclude this post. But I've got nothing.....expect for a bit of writer's block....so I'll just leave you with smiles and laughter.

July 12, 2011

A Dead Monkey

Plans for yesterday evening were postponed, plans that involved me making supper for guests (which I love) and me cleaning the house (which I loathe). I wasn't surprised really. This is just another postpone-ment in a whole string of just-wait-it-outs that's been going on for almost 3 months now, but it did involve some creative re-arranging of my week. I've got my routines and my schedules because I like them and they make me more productive, but I also know how to be flexible. It's just more challenging in the summertime when I book fun stuff into our week and give it the same priority as "real" and "important" stuff.

But I got it done. Menus got shuffled, child-care for one day of work and dog-care for one night away got arranged, plans for cleaning the house were procrastinated.

The afternoon fell open before me, and I don't think I did a very good job of utilizing it. I hate that. I didn't do a good job of playing with the kids or tending to household duties that had been neglected for a week. Did I mention I hate that?

I remember lots of interruptions during the day from the kids, from the dog, from the laundry, and I remember the dog lying on my back while I was trying to take pictures.

But I also remember little laugh-able moments - crazy, messy, and exhausting moments - the kind that aren't always fun in the moment but always tug my lips into a little smile only seconds after they're over.  Moments like.....

...Jack letting muddy Belle in the house when I was half way through one french-braided pig tail in Ava's hair. For once, the braid actually looked good on the first try so I wasn't about to stop braiding to kick the dog out of the house.

...Muddy dog prints all over the dining room floor, my bedroom floor, and my comforter. But the braids were worth it.

...Watching Belle fruitlessly chase Barn Swallows with that this-time-I'm-gonna-catch-one look.

...Cleaning out and filling up the kiddie pool......complete with hauling warm water out the door......for 10-15 minutes of kiddie pool use.

...Biking into town, pulling the kids on the bike trailer, for one item at the store - with 2 low tires on the bike, 2 low tires on the trailer, soft gravel road from the previous night's rain, and wind against me in both directions. (Plus it was 80+ degrees outside with stifling humidity to boot........again with the less than rational decisions.)

...a filthy Jack-Hammer telling me he threw a dead monkey in the garbage. I asked him again, "What did you throw in the garbage?" 

"A monkey, momma!"

"What kind of monkey?"

"Eeee...Eee..oooo...oooo...ahhh...ahhh," he replied while waving his arms wildly.

I go check out the dumpster. But Jack says, "No not in there. I put it in the fire garbage." (The fire garbage is apparently what Jack calls our silo which survived the whole barn euthanasia event, and you don't need to know why Jack refers to it as the "fire garbage.")

"And what did you throw in there again, Jack?" I ask.

"A dead monkey!"

I guess we'll never really know what he threw in there.

I'll just keep living through the moments, my life to the sound track of trucks being pushed up and down the driveway and the little girl constantly singing to herself.

And I'll keep my eye out for more dead monkies.

July 11, 2011

The Fourth

We girls set out the food for the family picnic that evening.
We had taken in the volunteer fire department's pancake breakfast that morning. We had perused through a few local sales in town. We had braved the heat to wait in line for the world's best pork-chop-on-a-stick.

{the other pork chop is mine}

We had waved, smiled, cheered and collected candy through the parade.

We had sat outside in a circle of lawn chairs in the shade catching up with visiting relatives, sharing rhubarb slush, and trying to get hot and sticky tots to "please take another sip of water."

We had played catch, rode four-wheelers, and climbed rocks.


And as I made another batch of rhubarb slush, sliced tomatoes and onions, and set out bean dip, I could hear the strains of an "old" song over the stereo speakers in my mother-in-law's kitchen.

The chorus sent me back to the past, to those Marine Corps years filled with potent memories and feelings.  My current life is so full, so blessed, and so beautifully exhausting that the memories didn't submerge me as they used to. I was able to stay afloat in the memories to both feel and appreciate them while staying mentally and emotionally involved in the happiness around me.

I remembered our first 4th together, me 16, him 17, shaking with the intensity of the moment as we decided to embark on this relationship. A year later found him, a young Marine, spending an insane amount on a plane ticket just to get home for 2 1/2 days after over 3 months of being at Pendleton and us only talking on the phone once a week. The following 4th of July placed me in an airport in Thailand touring with the Continentals and him on the road to Baghdad. And the next year we made a few final preparations for our quick little wedding the day after the 4th. He was deploying again and replacing a unit with a mortality rating of 50%. If he didn't come home, I wanted to be his widow.

In my mind's eye, I see the shoebox at home filled with letters from him and the huge tote filled with letters from me, some of my letters stained with spritzes of perfume that he could still smell after the envelope traveled half way around the world.

Somehow we landed here, years later, twins later, a few more pounds around the waist later.....standing on the same wooden floor where we said so many good-byes, where I shed so many tears, where we shared so many dreams.....now living this little life, about to embark on another adventure, me....looking back......not regretting any of it. I would do it all again.

I fill two plates with the best of summer food for our tots and re-join the lawn chair circle outside. I take a sip of my rhubarb slush. My bare feet are dirty. My pony tail rests on my neck.

We're happy to be here.....in this country, in this time, in this life....together.  I think patriotism is not just about loving your country but also about enjoying the life you're in, about being thankful for how and why you got here.

Patriotism doesn't ignore the bad....the faulty legislation, the shut-downs, the enormous deficit...but it sees the span of a country....how it started, why it started, what it has done, what it can do....and commits to live through, pray through, vote through all of it.

And it never takes life and freedom for granted.

Thanking God for:
#306. tying me together in this life with a Marine
#307. the experience of military life
#308. all of our men and women defending our country
#309. communicating almost solely through letters with the husband for a collective total of almost a year
#310. America
#311. our founding fathers
#312. traditions
#313. the process of learning to be a civilian again
#314. having learned it
#315. the promise of eternal life
#316. being a citizen of the Kingdom of God
#317. playing volleyball 'til dark
#318. how we never get too old to like fireworks....even if we pretend we do
#319. sharing our latest traditions with the latest brother to re-enter civilian-hood
#320. running into old friends