Wednesday, February 26, 2014

writing and not

Seven years ago today, I received the news that my dad had passed away.  Of course there is still the ache of mourning, of missing someone, but everyday I think of him and can smile. 

I recognize parts of him in my own behavior, my owns strengths and weaknesses.  So I feel that even though he's in heaven and not here, he is still here with me.  He gave me part of himself that I keep with me every day.

I love you, Dad.  Thank you for who you are and who you taught me to be.

In other news, maybe I don't write on my blog enough lately.

Maybe I write whole posts

                                          then delete them. 

As I told my sister, sometimes it is hard to know what to write, how much of myself to share, how much to hold back.

I don't write just words.  These words carry the weight of my heart.  Once written and shared these words leave me vulnerable.

Yes, I like to write day-to-day stuff.  But even then, I feel sometimes that I just want to hold those things live and experience living without recording it in words or pictures.

Or maybe I choose not to write to keep some mystery.

Like, I wrote recently about some workout shoes I wanted to buy, with pictures.  I went back and deleted that post.  For one, it seemed shallow.  For two, does it matter?  And for three, what if I wanted to surprise you with my new gym shoes when I saw you on the street instead of having you say, "Oh, I saw those on your blog!".

So, in not writing, I'm holding back a part of myself that I would rather share in person, parts more important than gym shoes.

But also in not writing, maybe I make it difficult for far away friends and family to feel involved in my life.  For that I'm sorry.  But I do make an effort to write handwritten letters...occasionally.

Until next time!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday musings

Outside my window... 
looking outside I see gray sky, gray light, calm air.  Not much of anything exciting out my window at the moment although somewhere nearby I'm sure all sorts of exciting things are occurring.  I'm not in the seeing mood today.

I am thankful... 
for HOME.  I love my family and our home together.  I like cooking good food for them and being comfortable together.  And listening to puppies snore.  And drinking coffee and wearing socks.

In the kitchen...
French press coffee waiting to be pressed.  It's Folgers Gourmet something.  With some Pumpkin Pie creamer.  Yummmmm.  Later on I'm making a meatloaf, served with baked potatoes (butter and sour cream!), and green beans.  Spumoni ice cream for dessert.

I am wearing... 
smelly work clothes because I'm too lazy at the moment to go change out of them.
I am going... 
to get better.  I'm sick with no voice, little energy, and an overall sense of "blah". 
I am reading... 
Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot.  This is my second time through this particular book.  She's a wise woman with lots of things to impart.
I am praying... 
There are things I'm keeping close to my heart.    Good things, scary things, unknown things.  Causing me to just hold on and trust my Lord to hear my heart of hearts.
I am learning... 
My body is strong and capable.  I knew this but after a few years of consistent back pain and new issues that flare up, pain that keeps me from doing things but I learn to deal with it because life marches on,  I had begun to doubt the strength and flexibility and power of my body.  I felt frail.  I felt weak. 
Years ago I was consistent with yoga and pilates, falling away from it with new priorities and focuses.  Recently I took it back up and have been reminded, reacquainted with my strength and abilities.  I'm doing handstands that I never thought I could do.  I'm relaxing into stretches and positions I had forgotten.  And my body eases right into like no time was lost.  There is a difference, I know my body better than I used to, I listen better.  And I think my body responds in turn.

Around the house... 
In addition to practicing yoga for my back, we also purchased a memory foam mattress topper.  Our old pillow top mattress is, well, old.  But we just couldn't make a new mattress happen.  $150 at Costco for a 3 inch memory foam.  Best money spent in a long time!!  The difference is remarkable.  Sleeping through the night, waking up without pain.  I'm a believer in the memory foam!
A favorite quote for today... 
When telling a co-worker that my husband and I had been tv shopping he replied, "Is that like window shopping?" 
A few plans for the rest of the week... 
Tomorrow is Saturday, lots of housework, finishing taxes online, registering eldest son with the high school for next school year (just part time again), taking the boys swimming, getting some groceries...I'll just go to sleep now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

valentine's week (part four)

I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the things I could write about on this topic of love and marriage.  As of now, I've only just scratched the surface.  But it is an immeasurable topic.  One that swallows me up.

I've seen God work in my own heart, in my life, in my marriage, displaying His love to me, teaching me how to love and how to be loved in a way that is so unlike what the world teaches.  Media, advertisers, and the entertainment industry would have a soul believe that love is a shallow emotion, one that can be passionately hot one moment and bitterly cold the next.  My soul has been scarred by an inaccurate view of what love is and I grieve over the loss of my innocence.

One thing I would abolish in this world if I had power to make magical things happen would be the monster that is pornography.  We are groomed to develop an appetite for this in it's softest form and it can only grow from there.  I'm talking about the blaring magazine covers, the covertly sexual ads on tv, the detailed depictions in movies and books, and growing from there into the blatantly wicked pornography industry.  It is poison.  Pure deadly poison.

For myself, and I'm being transparently honest here, my own self image, the way I view the person God made me with the body I have, the soul I have, the heart I have...I've struggled with this because who I am doesn't line up with what we are told women are (by the world).  The world shows us that women are a sex object.  With long thin legs.  With full red lips.  With swaying hips.  But the woman I see in the mirror is so simple, so plain.  And I compare.  And then I wonder if others compare.  And then I wonder, in my heart of hearts, if my husband compares. 

It is so damaging.  So scarring.

And I grieve.

The devil would certainly have us believe that we are anything but lovely, anything but loveable.  And we fill the discontent with self deprecation.  Focusing on the flaws.  Believing that know one can love us as we are.

Truth is, we are loved.  God doesn't create us by accident, not one soul.  Not one body.  He counts the hairs on our heads.  He bends his ear to the very cries of our hearts.  He shelters us from the storms.  Love.  This is love.

Love doesn't compare.  Love doesn't steal.  Love doesn't mar.

Pure love uplifts and sacrifices and cultivates and accepts and listens and takes the time and hears the heart.

HE hears your heart.

HE sees the pain there.

And HE loves you.  The creator of the entire universe loves you.

And when you can accept His pure love, you are free to love and be loved, in your imperfections.

This is what I've learned.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

valentine's week (part three)

Marriage cannot complete you.

It will not fill the void in your soul.

Only God can make you whole.

Our sinful nature separates us from our Creator, leaving a gaping absence that we each try to fill with something, anything.  Continually reaching, searching, and always....incomplete.

Jesus Christ took our sin upon his shoulders, laying down his sinless life, receiving the punishment for our sins.  Not only that but he defeated death when he rose triumphantly from the grave!

By this, if we can only recognize our own brokenness, acknowledging what Christ did for us, by this we are made whole.



And when two whole people are in a marriage together they don't need to seek for the other to fill the void within, they are free to give 100% of themselves.

This is pure

                   and beautiful.

Monday, February 10, 2014

valentine's week (part two)

My husband is such an example of love to me.  He loves and he loves well.

We are taught in the Bible that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.  Christ was a servant.  He washed feet, he loved the unlovely, he spent time with people.  Christ gave his very life for love.

My husband mirrors this and points my heart to a greater love.

Maybe I should back up a little bit.  Pour a little foundation.

We were 19 when we married, jumping in head first into something bigger than we could have ever known or dreamed of.

Did you know that God designed marriage?  When we were preparing to marry, I remember being told this.  And I nodded my head in youthful naivety.  Yep, it's sacred, got it, let's go.

I've learned over time, experience, and actually listening that God, out of love for us, designed marriage to be a sort of picture of his relationship with us.  It is a gift.  It is a covenant, a holy sacred promise.  Never meant to be taken casually during any step, any stage, any moment.

It is my whole hearted belief that when God formed me, he formed me with my husband in mind.  He formed my hand to fit perfectly in his.  He formed my forehead to fit perfectly in the curve of my husband's neck.  He formed my body to please my husband.  He created me with strengths and weaknesses that would compliment and exist with my husband's.  He made me for this man and this man for me.

Now I'm not na├»ve enough to think that every man is a great husband, or even that my own husband is a model of husbanding perfection.  Nor does every woman know how to be a great wife, fully living out every good and wonderful thing that marriage intends.  I'm certainly not, but I have learned.  And my husband is patient.  And God is merciful.

A strong, healthy, loving, wonderful marriage is first and foremost grounded with God.  He is the blueprint, the foundation, the cornerstone, and the nails that hold it all together.  A marriage is meant to be a picture of God, pointing others to Him by the very breath that it breathes.

It is my great desire that the marriage that my husband and I have, the one we tend to, labor over, nurture, and display is an accurate depiction of our Lord.

In our 16 and a 1/2 years of marriage we've experienced a lot together.  We've been at the peak of harmony and joy and we've trudged some mighty dark valleys.  But it's this beautiful journey that we walk hand in hand, and every year that goes by it becomes more beautiful, more precious.

It is so precious, in fact, that I really just want to let others know, it's possible.  Harmony is possible.  A deep, passionate, larger than life love is possible.  It is possible to have your heart drawn closer to God by your marriage.  It is possible to shine a light with your marriage that will reveal the glory of God to others.  Not by some magical 12 step formula but by a continual, purposeful walk, step by step, following God's leading, and yielding your own selfish thoughts and will.

Maybe in my writing this week I will be able to convey some of what I've learned, if not for the benefit of anyone else, just to remind myself.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

valentine's week (part one)

Keeping reading to see a dog in a hairnet....

Valentine's Day.  Love, romance, oo-la-la.  Never been a fan of the day of love, although my parents were romantic enough to marry on the day.  I'm thankful that they did.  But most everything else about the day seems so contrived.

If you watch tv you'll see commercials telling a man that if he loves his woman he'll buy her jewelry.  You'll see commercials telling a woman she deserves that jewelry.  In the stores, displays of last minute candy gifts and flower arrangements scream, "Get your love something, loser!"

So, I boycott.  Do we really need a day set aside to remember to love?  We shouldn't need it.  It should be a monthly, weekly, daily, hourly purposing to LOVE in word and deed.

Being a Christian I see a deeper meaning to love.  I see a perfect love from my Heavenly Father.  I see the Christ that loved me in my deepest sin yet still died for me.  I see the love of the Holy Spirit whispering comfort to my soul in a world that is very unlovely.  God says "I love you" but He doesn't stop there, He shows His love.

Really,  His perfect love is a model to us, how we ought to love others.  God doesn't love us one day a year and send a thoughtless gift because if he didn't we'd think he was a heel and must have forgot.  He doesn't feel obligated to show his love because everyone else is.  And he doesn't love someone and then decide he doesn't love them anymore or it was never love at all.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.   
I John 4:9-11
And here we have a dog in a hairnet.....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

my boys

It is no surprise that I am crazy about my sons.  They are the finest individuals I've ever met.
I'd probably say that even if I weren't their mother.
Youngest son has been a bit out of sorts lately.  He'll be 13 in a couple months so I attribute his moodiness to this.  I'm not making excuse or saying that he's turning into a monster just because he'll be a teenager.  I'm just acknowledging the fact that his body is being flooded by hormones and we are in for an adjustment period.
Eldest son received a ribbon in NJROTC for physical training and an additional silver lamp pin for his performance in said training.  He already had a ribbon for passing the AMI inspection with 100%.  It's ok if you don't know what most of this means, I'm still learning.  He's up for a promotion this week, hoping to earn the rank of "Seaman".  It is dependent upon how well he scored on the big test last week.
Here is the serious face.  He has a name for this saluting position but I forgot it the moment after he told me.

Checking out the ribbons, making sure they are placed correctly.  They should be 1/4 inch above the pocket.

And boy...this is his personality.  Easygoing, fun, relaxed, happy.
I live in a house full of boys.  I am outnumbered 5 to 1.  There are perks to this arrangement but it also gets a little overwhelming at times.
The littlest boy, my Charlie dog, does his best to make sure I'm never lonely.  Yes, the dog is annoying at times.  He barks at the wind.  He pees in the garage.  But he is the warmest little creature ever.  He looks into my soul and reads my emotions.  He understands most everything I say.  And he just wants to be with me, not expecting anything in return.
Case in point:

I was sitting there and he climbed up on the arm just to be nearest me.  When I got up to get his picture I told him, just once, to stay.  He didn't move but his eyes to follow me until after I got a couple pictures.  I'm enamored by this bit of fluff and honored that he is enamored by me.

Honorable mention:  Silas, the chocolate Lab.  He will try to inhale your soul from out your very own nostrils.  He loves, loves, loves.  I think he's dumb as a rock but my husband will wholeheartedly disagree with me.  He's partial though.  That dog is his baby.  He's our old man puppy, gray fur and aching bones.  He turned 11 a few days ago. 

And that is all I had to say today.  And more.

Monday, February 3, 2014

the light

As I leaned over and dug in the cool, rich soil my Silas came up underneath me and nosed my chin.  We stayed there, locked in a moment, him expressing his love, me accepting it.  He ventured off, to gnaw on a bone probably, and I continued digging. 

I  dug and turned the soil, separating the clumps of sod until I couldn't stand up straight anymore, at which time I surmised that was as good a time to stop as any.  And that digging in the soil, dreaming of the food that will grow there, in my garden, made me take a look around and when I did...I saw promise. 

Tiny green shoots have popped up out of the dirt, showing the location of bulbs someone before me took the time to plant.  A large bush with shiny leaves (rhododendron or azalea?) has tiny, hard buds waiting for their time to unfold.  A close look at the bald cherry tree shows something, a hint, tiny growths at the ends of the branches. 

The light is different.  It seems to be one of the first changes I notice.  Like the first hint of dawn at the end of a long night.  I won't fool myself and say Spring has sprung, fully understanding there are still 45 days until the calendar welcomes her in.  But the little kindle of knowing has lit, and I sing like a bird before first light, knowing that the light is coming.