Monthly Archives: November 2009

sCrAbBlEd WeLcOmE

I was preparing the final touches for company to arrive to spend a weekend in our home.
Making my home welcoming is important to me.
It should be clean.
If that isn’t completely possible, it should at least look clean –
 with messy things hidden in my bedroom and in the garage.
My home should smell clean – candles, potpourri, whatever it takes.
I make sure basic needs can be met easily, that guests have access to snacks, tissue, water, towels, etc.
This time I wanted that extra touch.
I wanted them to read my warm welcome as soon as they entered the living room
after a three hour drive through Friday rush- hour traffic.
I spent 15 minutes I should have been cleaning and spelled out a  greeting for our special guests with the  Scrabble tiles I keep in a bowl my husband made in his high school shop class.
As soon as I walked away to hide something else in my bedroom,
 I heard the smooth wood tiles sliding off their holders and back into the bowl.
This is the greeting ONE of my children wanted to use instead.
I won’t tell you his name to protect the guilty.
I was slightly annoyed, and made him change it back.
 A few days later, a new-improved greeting welcomed me.
Ah, peace in the valley again.

MM Meditation – The God Who Never Sleeps

Psalm 121:1-5

 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

 My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.

 He will not allow your foot to be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

 Behold, He who keeps Israel

Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Years ago, I was listening to a dear friend and sister in the Lord, Bonnie, talk about her struggle with  cancer.  Since the disease had spread to several areas, she suffered much physically for many years.
This time, she was telling me about how the pain kept her awake at night after one of her surgeries. You can well imagine the loneliness, the sterile smell, the noises that keep you from truly resting and the diagnosis and prognosis floating in and out and all around the barren room. 
But, as she spoke, there was no bitterness, no anger, no frustration – only joy.
Joy, because the Lord had whispered His presence through this verse while she was laying in that hospital bed, overwhelmed with pain, but overcome with His presence.
 Reminded that He also was awake, she began pouring out her heart in prayer, then in praise, then peace came.
Little did Bonnie know how that conversation, in which she gave the Lord glory and honor and testified to His comforting presence during her greatest hour of need, would minister to my heart, mind and even my own cancer ridden body, many, many times.
When I have lost sleep over troubled relationships, the God who never sleeps hears my pleas.
When I have lost sleep over my dear children, the God who never sleeps comforts my heart.
When I have lost sleep over physical suffering, the God who never sleeps has given me peace with His presence.
Hebrews 4

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

When your heart is so troubled you can’t sleep, remember—

— He isn’t sleeping either.


A Thanksgiving To Be Thankful For

This was a Thanksgiving of many firsts.
 Grace asked to be in charge of the entire meal.
Totally in charge. Not a bad goal for being only Sweet 16.
From menu planning, to list making, to recipe planning, cooking and serving,
our AMAZING GRACE handled it all.
Her menu –
Tangerine Glazed Turkey
Herb Encrusted Duck
Maple Ginger Carrots
Cheddar Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Relish Trays
Another first was homemade stuffing.
Scott had to call my mom several times for coaching,
even though it is just bread chunks, gizzards, celery, onions and some seasoning.
It tasted amazing.
Sorry Stove Top, you may never be welcome in our home again.
Another first, I bought Scott an electric knife.
He was so happy, I probably won’t have to buy him a Christmas present.
The first disaster for the day.
We changed the name of the potatoes  to “Pepper Cheddar Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes”
 when the entire content of the pepper shaker and the lid were added to the potatoes.
Of course, when we asked who left the lid unscrewed….
Grace let me set the table.
That’s my favorite part, anyway.
Scott included our guests in the family tradition of going around the table and expressing one thing you are thankful for. We acknowledged we all have MUCH to be thankful for.
the Lord Jesus Christ
good health
Grace cooking the meal
Scott shared the verses the Lord put on his heart for the day:
 Psalm 95:1-2
 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Since I did all the dishes as she was cooking,  after dinner
we only had to clean up what was on the table.
 I mean, the men only had to clean up the table.
 Since three of the men in the house were guests, this was a daring call, but well received.
Guest Grandpa Pat was the first one in the kitchen and took care of the bulk of the dishes.
 Dave finished loading the dishwasher.
Keith dried.
I told him I would make sure his Mommy saw this picture.
She’ll be so proud of him.
Not sure if my son Jon actually helped, or if he was so fast, I just didn’t get his picture.
The women and children reclined downstairs to watch the classic “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”
The men stayed upstairs and talked.  No football.  We don’t have TV reception or cable.
Thanksgiving without football is wonderful, sorry to rub it in to those of you who didn’t experience that.
Another first, thanks to the influence of our athletic guest, Keith – a Thanksgiving evening run.
Yes, Scott’s headband is pink.
Yes, we teased him.
No, he didn’t care.
He’s also wearing Snoopy Christmas socks.
Jon wants to cook next year.
I thought he was excited about all the new recipes Grace tried and wanted to rise to the occasion as she did.
No, he just loves the rule,
“If you cook,
you don’t clean up.”

Fall Foliage…

Our fall is still lingering.
The last brilliant leaves are unwilling to give up their grip on the almost bare trees. 
Even our several severe windstorms weren’t able to knock them all down.
The leaves have the tenacity writer O. Henry described in the short story  “The Last Leaf.”
When I see the leaves decorating sidewalks, porches and cars,
 I  decide  that the Lord decorates much nicer than Martha Stewart.
Scott and I enjoyed a fall drive a few weeks back, getting out to enjoy
the fall colors,
 the fall smell,
 the fall feel.
Fall is a season you feel with all your senses.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  Albert Camus

But, the statement that leaves speak into my soul is from a fall display created by my daughter Jana’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Benson.  She cut out an elaborate tree with brilliant red, green and gold leaves and displayed it on her door with a seasonal, spiritual play on words.
Her message that still encourages my heart with each falling leaf?
Fall in Love with Jesus

Speaking of Teaching….

What I don’t do well, I teach well.

What I do well, I don’t teach well.

All my kids know how to cook and cook well.   In fact, I often have volunteers for meals and snacks. Not a lot of volunteers for the dishes, but a lot of volunteers for the cooking.

I don’t consider myself a good cook, nor do I consider myself someone who loves cooking.  Ironically, I love inviting people over for dinner.  Then, I get those panicked thoughts, “Oh, that’s right, they’re coming for dinner, I have to FEED them.”  Until I can come up with something I can cook, I am a  little frantic in my mind.  I love  setting the table and welcoming people into my home, I am just not that confident in preparing their food.

Why do my kids love to cook?  I’m pretty sure it is because I adopted my Mom’s open kitchen policy.  We were welcome to cook anything and use anything in her kitchen, we just had to clean up.  She worked full time, so summers were filled with scouring the Betty Crocker cookbook for recipes we thought we could accomplish.  When we craved candy, we learned to make hard candy by boiling sugar, water and Karo syrup, according to the recipe. 

When we craved cake, we used the  two-egg cake.  We loved throwing in a package of Kool-aid for flavoring and color. I remember making a cake for my Mother’s Day that was so hideous, we had to fill the hole in the middle with marshmellows.

After teaching my kids basic kitchen skills like reading a recipe, properly measuring ingredients, using the oven and mixer,  they were given open season on the kitchen.  I have cleaned up batter from every wall, light fixture and ceiling, but they all can run the mixer.  I have had enough potholders and dish towels start on fire that I am guaranteed to be getting them for the next ten Christmases, but they all can use the oven.  I count on one hour of cleanup for every 15 minutes a kid is in the kitchen, and about one glass thing broken each week.

However, I’ve noticed that some of my friends who cook really well, have kids that don’t cook.  Maybe because the moms love cooking and don’t want to share the kitchen.  Maybe the moms don’t want to eat sub-par cooking. Maybe they just know they can do everything better and faster.   Maybe their kids don’t want to try, knowing their accomplishments will never add up to their mom’s.  They say skills skip a generation, but I am not sure I understand why.

I love to write and consider myself a writer.  My high school job wasn’t working at a restaurant, like my kids my age, I was writing for the local newspaper.  My senior year of high school, I was given  my own newspaper column.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, it was for a weekly paper in the upper corner of North Dakota.  I probably had only about 100 readers. But, this job created a passion for putting my thoughts into logical, printed sentences and I  dream about the day when I am published again.

However, I have to be honest – I don’t teach writing well.  I am too critical, too unrealistic about their accomplishments, too slow to compliment because I am too busy editing. I’ve purchased many writing curriculums, but haven’t found they work for me.  It is hard to teach something that comes natural.  I’m blessed, though, that all my kids seem to have a natural bend towards writing, but I am still working on improving my skills in teaching writing.

Anybody else find this true in their life – that it is hard to teach things they do well? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Skill of Teaching a Skill

Today was the long-awaited day for Rebekah.  She learned to sew.  I set my old sewing machine on her table, had her take out the thread and practice seams on paper.
Like all the women from my Mom’s side of the family, Beka was a natural sewer.  She also naturally followed the family tradition of improving your skills by leaving your tongue hanging out of your mouth and pursing your lips in time to the hum of the machine.
When she easily mastered the straight lines, we went on to turning a corner with the needle down.  I made other worksheets to teach her to follow a curve, follow more complicated patterns and to backtack, stitching backwards to keep your seam from unraveling.  (I know how to do this, but I didn’t know the term, I had to Bing it.)
When we finally began using real fabric and my new sewing machine, Beka  sewed and ironed a flat felled seam.
She was clever enough to figure out how to reach the presser foot.
Her final endeavor was to sew a doll pillow.  I couldn’t find the stuffing, so we put our project away.  However, occasionally during the evening, she would sit at the old sewing machine and sew elaborate patterns onto paper.  Her “quilts” were so intricate, the corners so perfectly angled, that her Daddy was amazed with her ability.

As we chatted and sewed and spent a nice morning together, Beka was so happy, and so was I. Once she came over for a hug and said, “We have SO much fun together, don’t we Mom?”

I couldn’t help but reflect on how much better teaching my sixth child to sew was going than teaching my first child.  I taught Jana to sew and after the traditional doll blankets and pillows, we decided  to sew a piece of clothing.  I remember getting frustrated with her because she couldn’t grasp my instructions on things like the facing and setting in the sleeves.

As I vented this frustration to a dear friend, Roxy, who is the same age, but older in wisdom, our conversation changed my life.

Meekly, she reminded me that these were very hard tasks, especially for a 9 year old, and that something like a simple skirt would have been a better place to start, because they could master it easily, wear it, and have that satisfaction of finishing a project.  It would also make them more eager to tackle another project.

She also gently encouraged me to not be such a perfectionist in judging Jana’s sewing.  She pointed out that a seam had to really be off before it really affected the outcome of the garment.  If a seam needed to be ripped out, she did it for her children, to lessen the frustration.

Her advice turned my Type A Sewing Instruction into more of  the comfortable, fun, mother/daughter rite of passage it should be.

Using Roxy’s advice, I taught the rest of my kids to sew, even the boys.  All our children are required to learn the basics and sew at least one item, just so they have that skill available for the rest of their lives.

My regret over my failed first lessons was appeased when Jana sewed adorable hot pink curtains with green polka-dotted trim for her daughter’s room in their first apartment.

Sure, I teach my children how to sew, but my dear friend Roxy taught me how to teach. 

mAkInG fUn oF mOmMy – again

This fall, I was standing in the mirror, bemoaning the fact that the roll around my middle is now evident when I stand up, not just when I sit down. In two weeks this summer, I gained ten pounds, and it all decided to congregate just above the waistline.

Rebekah, ever my cheerleader said, “Ah, Mom, you’re not fat. People that walk by you think you look beautiful.

They don’t even notice that you are ….fff…fffa…fffaa….fffaaa…..ummm….that way…

….they probably won’t even notice because they’ll think it’s your belt.”

Any other mommy out there wearing a 10 pound belt?

Read here to find out all the other wonderful things my family has said about me.