Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let's go fly a kite

Their eyes dance following the rainbow of silk bouncing in the wind above. Parent eyes meet and exchange the look "this is the best!"

The girls' first kite flying:

Then parental 'oops' moment: rusty hands crash the stunt kite into the baby kite. Poles shatter. The kite flutters limp to the ground.

Parent eyes meet again and exchange the look: "you're staying up all night if she has nightmares about kamikaze kites!"

She didn't. Maybe the whole event seemed so surreal that the end of flight was mythical as well. Maybe she was bored already. Either way, big one said matter-of-factly: Daddy will fix it. And off we ran, chasing the next great adventure.

She gets it. Daddy will fix it. What more needs to be said. Just follow Him to the next great adventure.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{In the beginning} GOD

Have you ever noticed how many times God appears in the story of creation? I haven't. It took a study asking me to underline his name for me to see him. And when I saw him, the creation became a blur, just a new list of stuff that HE was creating.

I usually read the first chapter of Genesis with a kids' Bible in mind. With questions like: What day did amphibians show up? Were they with the sea creatures or land animals? Were sea turtles and land turtles created at the same time? How about bacteria? And fungus? Where do they fit in? How did flowers pop up? {I envision time lapse.} Pointless ponderings. Fun to consider, but pointless.
Then I underlined the word God.

Did you know? It's not about the flowers or turtles or mountains or stars. It's about God. Over 50 times, about God.

And when you put aside the felt board illustrations, you see God and again, God.
Artist Alfred J. Smuskiewicz
The power in his word. He spoke, and it was so.

The wisdom in his plan. Everything ordered and provided for. Wisdom to build a universe in days that could sustain life for thousands of years.

The goodness of his will. The creator is very good, thus the work is very good. A reflection of its originator.

His sustaining hand. Oceans and land and plants first, then sun and moon. How can that be... except that every system is held together in him. Not a house of cards that must be built in an exact order or crash. He upholds this frail ecosystem even now.

The majesty of the creator reflected in the creation. And he saw that it was very good. As a building reflects the skill of the architect, so the world radiated the creator's glory

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere. ~~ M.C. Babcock, 1901 
Artist Michaelangelo

 P.S. Bible Study Fellowship is studying Genesis this year. As I learned from Acts and the epistles last year, I'm sure many lessons and posts will come from working through Genesis.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Ellis Chronicle

A wise friend recently explained that he regularly looks for a new job. Not necessarily because he wants to leave his current position {of more than a decade}. Because he has to know that he is there for the right reasons. That he's there because he should be there and not because he's too lazy to look elsewhere or too afraid to change.


Why am I still doing this?

We're in the busiest season I can remember. I was not this relentlessly tired in grad school. Tim comes home from work just to use our wifi and continue working. Everyday I fill our daily draft. And the blog slips further down the list.

To write now means that laundry baskets are sitting, clothes unfolded. Stacks of dishes next to the sink. Toys and books and lesson plans. They all cry urgent. And I turn to the wheels squeaking the loudest.

So what about the blog? The time capsule of the Lord's work. It is rarely urgent. And in this season, oft passed over.

And I have to question, why am I writing? Am I cataloguing the mess of parenting and babysitting and ministry? For that I can save the daily agendas. A picture of my efficiency.

I write to remind. We need to chart the work done. Not the work of human hands {lest we begin to boast}. But the God-work by the Holy Spirit. The one who leads our family into faithfulness.

Small one learning to pray. Chin pressed to chest. Kneeling by the bed. Speaking to her Creator in language only He understands. Then, Ahh-meeen! And her sparkling eyes look to us. Did we see what she can do? Watch. She'll do it again.

Big one practicing truth. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6: fiiiiiiiiive! And her deep eyes look to us. Did we see what she can do? Watch. She'll do it again.

Practice and practice. Ever day kneeling and reciting. All these small moments that build to giant worship and understanding.

And we catalogue the Lord's grace.

Grace to train up parents in the way we should go. Grace to teach through little mouths. Mommy, do you know I can trust God no matter how I feel?? I do, baby. He is trustworthy. No matter how busy or tired or frustrated or afraid I feel. He is trustworthy.

And this blog chronicles those acts of my mess turned glory by His faithfulness.

for sweet Christian encouragement

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You-can-do-this Caramel Sauce

A substitue teacher at my alma mater held his cup of coffee, sniffed the steam, and sighed: Ahh, coffee. Nectar of the gods. Every cup. Every time. It became one of my family's silly jokes that we quote as if everyone's in on it.

I sigh the same way over a cup. A sense of relief at what I'm about to sip.

But the phrase is all wrong {and maybe my attitude}. The God that does not sleep or slumber also does not brew a pot before watching over the eastern seaboard. Not ambrosial nectar.

Delicious as it is, coffee is a product of weakness. Weakness that is the penalty of sin. I'm exhausted, subjected to futility because I live in a messed up world. The wages of sin is death, thus my body runs down, my mind clouds over. The better remedy is sleep. When sleep isn't an option, coffee.

My thoughts over a cup should run, Lord, save me from this frail body. In the mean time, thank you for stimulants.

Now that I have justified coffee as a reminder of the cross, let's talk about how to make it yummy. {Was that not the strangest lead in to a recipe??}

You can do this! Caramel Sauce
Absolutely perfect for a homemade caramel macchiato or hot chocolate or cider or a spoon. Really anything.  What says "Welcome Fall!" like a jar of browned sugar and cream?
photo credit

You will need:
a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula
a heavy duty sauce pot, 3 or 4 quart

1 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 T honey {you can use cornstarch if you don't like the flavor of honey}

1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c water
pinch of salt
1/2 t vanilla

Combine the sugar, water and honey in sauce pot and heat over medium. Stir occasionally while sugar dissolves. As sugar cooks, it will bubble and darken. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid uneven heat {you don't have to stand over it...yet}. When the sugar turns amber {this takes longer than you think}, keep a close eye on it and stir more frequently. Cook 3-4 more minutes until the sugar is the color of a penny.
Remove from heat. And stir in heavy cream and water {this will sputter and splatter}. If some of the sugar clumps with the cool liquid, return to low heat and stir until it melts in. When sugar is fully mixed in, add the salt and vanilla.
Pour into a ball jar and store in refrigerator. Thanks to the water, this recipe should be pourable from the fridge. If it's a little stiff, heat it in the microwave in 30 second bursts. The caramel sauce will keep for months, but it won't last that long {smile}.

In case you're wondering how someone who barely blogs once a week finds time to make caramel sauce, well... I was jonesing for a caramel macchiato. All the preservatives and artificial colors in store-bought caramel bothered me, so I made my own. I realize that is a bit like complaining of light pollution from a forrest fire. What can I say? I'm a little ridiculous.

Thanks to My Baking Addiction for the inspiration.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We venture out...

Another childcare week down, almost. I have about an hour 'til Mr. Dad gets here. Every week, I sit during this last short nap break and marvel at how quickly the week has gone and how well it went - Praise be to God!

Rumbly baby is grumping; otherwise, peaceful sleep. The thundering horde ventured out today, descending on a small playground. A clown momma unloading a pile of babies that caused stops and stares, and several, Are they all yours???

I almost wanted to claim them all. They were so good! Even rumbly baby enjoyed herself staring at leafy mobiles. Everyone's ears were turned on and tuned in. No major falls, very little blood, not a single time out. And six heavy eyes in the car {big one says, cars are not for napping, Mommy}.

Emotionally, this week has been hard for the girls. Monday and Tuesday, they trod all over personal space. We had to rotate playing in the backyard. Even that was not big enough.

By Wednesday morning, big one was a mess, clinging to me and whining. When I asked if her body hurt or her heart hurt, she replied, I just so frustrated with all the people coming into my house.

This morning, it was quiet one's turn. I usually don't hear a peep from her from 9-11:30 when she starts asking for bites. This morning, she cried and cried for Mommy, Daddy.

This isn't a string of play-dates anymore. It's work for everybody. Overlooking offences. Restraining our tongues and fists. Trusting God when we're overwhelmed. Hard lessons at 29, even harder at nearly 2 and 3.

We pray over angry hearts. Over lonely hearts. Ask for happy hearts, kind words.

For everyone who asks receives. Matthew 7:8

And it might take a change of scenery to reset hearts.

That's why God made playgrounds.

Monday, September 10, 2012

To bloom in native bower

I read this article the other day quoting an interview with Michelle Obama. The first lady casually observed that staying home with her girls could be boring. She enjoyed her work outside of the home and was glad to juggle both. {my paraphrase}

Any time someone describes your day-in, day-out work as boring, hackles raise. Boring connotes dullness, weariness, devoid of challenge or excitement. As if I sit around all day wondering what to do while my children buzz about their lives {anyone who has met a child can guess that isn't a mom's day}.

Boring. It irks me. I hear the same sentiment rephrased by so many people: That might be alright for you, but I need something more. I can't just be a stay at home mom. And I want to lash back with how difficult my day is, and how I keep my mind active, and how important my family is.

Then a little voice says, Aren't you bored sometimes? What about when big one insisted on singing "Old MacDonald had a Farm" every second she was strapped into a car seat for a year?! After months of coming up with animals to imitate {our MacDonald runs an exotic farm}, did I not dread hearing 'Mommy, we sing I-O-I-O'? Am I not bored during the 4th daily kitchen clean up? or the 400th time reading through 'Corduroy'? {yes, yes, I love that book too. I just don't want to read it again... ever}

Our daily rhythm is full of beautiful moments, but that isn't our whole day. So many hours are monotonous busyness, getting-life-done moments. Common. Mundane.

And I am ashamed of how small my world is.

And I wonder why anyone asks about my day knowing that it is mostly messes I cleaned up and phonics I over-emphasized.

Blogging is hard from this perspective. Life is hard from this perspective. Who wants to feel small and tedious?

But boring has blessing.

I once heard, now I don't remember where, that we are never more like Jesus than when we are serving. My small life presents endless opportunity for Jesus practice: serving clueless people who don't understand most of what you say. Pouring out self only to face more demands. It's exhausting work.  Daily meekness lessons.

But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peacePsalm 37:11

This momma practice of decreasing has the potential to mirror God in detail mostly missed this side of heaven.

And my joy comes not from my children, but from seeing God increase.

Only in a kingdom where the king takes off his robe to wash the feet of homeless men, momma lives of unwanted chores are turned to brilliant lighthouses. Only in God's other worldly values is mommahood a cherished career with value immeasurable.

Not because we work so hard. Or because our children are the future. But because we are allowed Jesus practice. Our service points to the servant king.

In "Prayers for Children," I found this:
God, make my life a little light within the world to glow: a little flame that burneth bright wherever I may go.
God make my life a little flower that giveth joy to all, content to bloom in native bower, although the place be small.
~~M. Betham-Edwards
Maybe a prayer for mommas as well. Content to serve an enormous God in a small world.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It rained and poured...

I am so late with this post that the original copy doesn't make sense. Forgive me.

The flooding subsided in our yard. We might even play back there tonight... if the mosquitoes don't carry small one away. With all this rain they swarm the evening air like a humming cloud.

For days we hid out in the living room watching Sesame Street and Veggietales while thunderstorms rattled the windows. Small one couldn't take it any more and slipped between my legs into the backyard, rain falling on bare shoulders. I started to call her back when she looked at me as if to say, Why have you locked me away from something this wonderful?? And off she ran.

Before long, she coaxed big one and PapaDaddy into the rain with her. Thunderstorm tag ensued.

With days filled to a surface tension bubble, my mind stays in four places at once. This 15 minute bout of spontaneity was a grounding moment. I stood quietly in the doorway, watching my family through the Canon, my life stilled in a frame while they ran around crazy. It was a good reminder of the important stuff.


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