November 21, 2011

Counting Comforts

I find it funny some of the things that comfort me.

Eating apples on a fall evening. The sound of the furnace running. Oatmeal and peanut butter toast. Venison steak. Preserving food. Eating my preserved food.

And when I really look at all those silly things, they are most obviously tied to my childhood.

When my dad would go deer hunting on a crisp fall Saturday evening, my mom would pack up my brother and me and drive a mile down the road to an orchard where we would buy a bag of our favorite apples. We would go back home and eat a few of the apples while watching the Lawrence Welk show. Sometimes the evening would end in helping Dad track a wounded deer or in hanging a deer from the branch of our swinging tree.

Sundays evenings always meant Mom wasn't going to really cook, so we would all work together to make cocoa and oatmeal and peanut butter toast and eat it while watching America's Funniest Home Videos.

And after we all worked together to butcher a deer and package the meat, we would all savor the flavor and tenderness of some venison chops served with fried potatoes.

All of this, silly little recurring memories, when life was slow and sweet and when your parents weren't graying and wrinkling. The beauty of childhood with parents who gave the real kind of quality time that can only be bred by quantity time and by just doing life together.

So when the "cancer" word creeps back into the family circle and bites so close again, and even when you know God is good and God is in control, and you believe these things but also know that God's goodness spans the breadth of eternity and not just the now, you search out comfort.

On the night when the husband wouldn't be home and there was just one more day 'til the diagnosis would be given and you are feeling just a little lonely, you cook up some venison chops and make oven fried potatoes and soak up the history of those flavors. Even as you cut up little pieces for the plates of the little ones that belong to you, you can see yourself sitting at the small metal table in the old farmhouse of your youth chomping away at deer meat, garden potatoes, and mom's frozen sweet corn. The furnace would kick in and hum its song of warmth, and your world felt secure.

It makes you wonder what moments, what right-now-living-and-breathing moments are becoming the mooring points for your own children. It makes you wonder if you are giving the kind of quality that is birthed from quantity or if you are trying to force the quality to happen.

So you make new traditions of your own, replacing Lawrence Welk with Mike Rowe and Sunday night oatmeal with homemade pizza. You cut out another turkey this year and scribble down everyone's daily thanks. You whip up the waffle batter for the weekly waffles even when you really don't have time and let the kids get all bundled up to go play in the first snow of the year before breakfast.

And everyday you look for God's goodness and slowly learn that His goodness is so more much than what we think. That is what is comforting. I don't have to try to find the silver lining in the cloud. The cloud is the gift. We just don't really understand what "good" is sometimes.

And as happens so often, Ann over at A Holy Experience is saying the same thing better than I am:

"To bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice your understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because He is benevolent.
A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and raises hands in praise anyways – always.
A sacrifice is by definition not an easy thing.
There is this: We give thanks to God not because of how we feel – but because of Who He is."

{And it's a little sad that you make your family make caramel apples in the near dark with the lights off so that you can shoot at max ISO with the little available natural light to avoid using flash and suffering the horrible white balance issues of the artificial lights in our kitchen. I do think that all the noise works with this series.}

Counting Comforts with everybody else over HERE.
#366. another thing to give to God
#367. another opportunity to let God define what His goodness is
#368. an upcoming 4 day weekend
#369. living close to both sets of parents
#370. venison in the freezer
#371. a bowl of apples on the table
#372. the excitement of children over the first snow of the year
#373. Jack-Jack waking up early the day after all the snow, hearing him come downstairs and stand by the deck door and happily whisper, "Da snow is still dare. Da snow is still dare."
#374. making waffles in pajamas with four extra little helping hands

November 14, 2011


I had forgotten what day it was, the anniversary of all that...that....whatever those memories are. He had been gone for two days, away in the city working with his distributors, and I had been away at my parents' for the same two days diving back into the homeschool group of my youth head first.

And when it came time to head home and I realized what day it was and I realized I had not yet spoken to him that day AND I realized that I had only planned leftover soup for supper, I felt guilty. Guilty for not remembering what day it was 'til now, guilty for not knowing if I was supposed to acknowledge to him that I knew what day it was, and guilty for planning the leftovers of his least favorite meal to mark the occasion.

We pulled onto the highway that would take us home, and I glanced in the rear view mirror. To my pleasant surprise, I could see his vehicle less than a mile behind me. Somehow, after two days of being hundreds of miles apart, and after two days of having our attentions focused on things so different, we ended up here, on the same road at the same time, heading home together.

So that's what I'll take the the memories for. They were the road we shared together, those experiences we faced together - however differently - and those things that glued us together. And now we are here with different challenges and different duties, but our eyes are still fixed on the same goal - just getting home to be together.

#361. doing this life thing together with him
#362. that God saw the original Adam's need for companionship and created the woman and told them to exercise dominion over this world in different ways, but together
#363. being at home, the four us, together
#364. working on the basement project together
#365. finding ourselves on the same road home at the same time....together

Ann from A Holy Experience  is busy writing about Ecuador this week so I'm not linking up to "Multitudes on Monday" today. But click over HERE and read what she has to say about God giving the world all the resources it needs and choosing us to distribute those resources.

November 10, 2011

Eau Claire Trip #2 Re-Cap {Did you know?}

We found ourselves back in Eau Claire, WI, with the husband for another week while he worked. While this week may not have been as magical as our first week out there together, the kids and I still had lots of fun little adventures and enjoyed a break from home.

We spent a day at a picturesque town 20 minutes away, and took pictures in the high noon sun.

We were so blessed to receive a "friends and family rate" on our hotel room, and that left us with quite a bit more in our daily budget to spend on food. (Did you know I'm stingy?) So good-bye peanut butter and homemade jam sandwiches for lunch! least for a few days. Packing a lunch is not only cheaper, it's healthier.

So with the local college breaking for lunch and college students spilling into the streets and filling all the restaurants, the three of us walked blocks upon blocks looking for just the right place to eat.

Did you know that in Wisconsin can you get beer and espresso in the same cafe?

After lunch, we drove to the edge of town to re-visit this place. It had been too rainy during our first trip to even get out of the car and have a look around.

I had no idea where I was supposed to get a trail pass.

So we just had a little peak at the trail. And it made me wish I had my bike and the kids' bike trailer - even though I had thrown caution to the wind that day and worn boots, abandoning my normal practical footware while traveling stance.


My shy little girl turned over a new leaf during the trip, having to tell every waitress and cashier her name, ask for their name, tell them how to spell her name, and insist that I recount all of our trip highlights thus far to the poor, uninterested person.

Did you know there are a lot of rivers in Wisconsin? I have to say I never quite knew which one we were looking at. In the heart of Laura Ingalls' beginning territory, I couldn't help but wonder what all the pioneers thought when they found themselves at the bank of yet another river. "Really?!?! Another one??!!"

Anytime the kids are occupied and playing well at home, I am usually frantically trying to get as much done as possible before a fight breaks out or another meal needs prepping. So, on these trips, it's initially a bit challenging for me to just chill and do nothing while they play and explore.

A few days later after our city exploration, we left the rivers to head into the hills and enjoy some local autumn fun.

My husband can read my mind, and told me we didn't have any room for pumpkins in our vehicle (did you know my pumpkin patch this year was a giant failure?) so "please don't buy any." I countered with an ineffective argument that I could maybe just decorate our hotel room with small pumpkins since we were living there for a week anyway.......? He just laughed.......knowing I was mostly joking.

Did you know that I am relatively gullible (while simultaneously being a skeptic)? I tried the below......and figured it out.

And did you also know that I love red oaks? Red maples are so pretty and showy but kind of finicky and they don't last long. These deep red oaks were in their prime while we visited.

{I may or may not be obsessed with shooting up from the base of a tree. And this photo really should be rotated, but I'm too lazy to go back and do that right now. So in the name of creative artistic license, I leave you with this upside down tree)

Ava, here, is "patiently" waiting for her brother....

...who decided to check out these huge slides...

...but then (thankfully!) chickened out...

...and did not want to be paparazzied by his mother during his humbling descent.

And did you know that I am contemplating yet another trip to Eau Claire in the coming weeks? Part of me doesn't want to go, part of me wants to. And a huge part of me is begging Matco recruiting to find another area to fill with new distributors.