Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crunchy messes

I avoid you on days like this. Days when I have nothing to offer. At least nothing positive.

I'm angry and frustrated, and maybe I'm not honest enough about these days.

I'm angry about how much of my day is spent watching other people poop. That's the real result of early potty training. You can't trust them to wipe or call you when they're done. So you sit in the bathroom awkwardly {is there any other way?} while they strain. And I get angry.

I'm angry because big one sang through her nap, which happens to be my nap too. So this insomniac prego momma hasn't found rest yet.

I'm angry at the sponge cake that was supposed to be awesome for hubby's belated birthday dinner - it's a flat, crunchy mess. Which reminds me that I'm also angry with the loaf of bread which stubbornly refused to rise.

I'm angry that my kids can't find a single safe, legal toy when I'm in the middle of a project. I think the collapsed cake had something to do with the sand fight that erupted during the 2 minute 'watch carefully' step.

And I'm angry because my heart is wallowing in the frustrations around me. I have been given truth to overcome these days. And I seem to have lost it.

I don't post on these days because I don't feel godly or helpful.

Instead of hiding in silence today, or posting a recipe, I'm opting for more dangerous transparency. Because I know every mom has these days. Days when we want to give our children away, or envy anyone who talks to adults all day. Days when we know joy and peace are out there; they are simply eluding us. If I hide these feelings, these ugly days, do I leave you feeling lonely and broken on your angry days? I certainly feel lonely and broken today.

Even now I'm searching for a wrap-up that leaves on an edifying note. I have none. Nothing to offer. I'm merely a sympathetic virtual shoulder to anyone else whose day stinks.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A gift for life

Dear Son, my little man,

You don't know it yet, but before you even arrive, you have a tremendous gift... your dad. Not just the genetic potential for a Paul Bunyan-like beard and bones that never break. You have a dad who lives like a man should, who loves The Lord, shoulders responsibility gladly, and leads his family. Not every little man has that example.

I pray that as you grow, you look to the Word like your dad does. That you trust the Bible. That you study the Bible. That you see the Bible as your greatest resource on this Earth. Because it is. Nothing else answers your questions and guides your life like the Word. Your daddy knows that. If you watch him, you'll know it too.

I pray that as you grow you pray for your family like your dad does. That you trust God with your family to do the real work in their hearts. That your first posture every morning is one of humility and recognition of your Father.

I pray that as you grow you watch out for your sisters like your dad does. That you treat them with respect and keep their best, that is Godly interests in mind. That you speak up when they are in danger. That you tell them everyday that they are beautiful. That you value their girlish view on life. That you include them in your grand adventures so that they don't need other boys to take them.

I pray for your future wife that you will love her well and sacrifice for her like your dad does. That you will joyfully pull weeds when she is too pregnant to bother. That you will always thank her for mundane chores and never treat her like a babysitter, a roommate or a sexual ATM. That you will always kiss her goodbye and praise her often and highly in front of your children.

I pray that you will serve the church like your dad does. Sure he's paid, but look carefully and you'll see how much unpaid work he does that no one ever notices. Be busy about that work. That's the work the church needs.

If the list is daunting, remember that these are my prayers. I don't expect you to manage on your own. God is fighting for you and in you. And He has started the fight by giving you a dad to lead the way. You are blessed!

Love, momma

To my dear husband - I love you! Thank you for showing our boy how to be a real man. Happy Birthday, Hun.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Two fewer fish in the sea

Full week {or is it two?}. Sis married the pilot of her dreams Saturday. Beautiful day for a sweet couple.

My thoughts are still scattered across a couple states, so this post isn't coming together as I'd like.

Instead a few pictures from the 'day off' mid-wedding week.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Who's three??

Revisiting blog posts, it seems like small one gets most of the pictures and big one the stories. Maybe because, as you saw last week, big one has grown a bit bored with momma's camera. Or because small one doesn't yet have the words for humorous quips.

I thought I'd break trend today. Show pics of Gwenny and a story from Afton.

The girls love to fight. Afton especially. She creates situations for them to fight about. Just for the fun of a good fight. The most popular topic: mac n' cheese. Small one will start, Let's fight about mac n' cheese {I am not making this up}, then they yell back and forth over who likes mac n' cheese and who doesn't. Afton's favorite game.

With more words, her fight-starting skills are really improving.

The other night at dinner, she recognized a chink in big sis's armor and attacked. No! That's how she starts. Just No! No explanation, just a fight.

Big sis is immediately thrown off her game. They are fighting, and she doesn't even know what about. You can see the desperation building in her eyes, as she tries to regain footing. No! she yells back.

Small one, No! I two. You three.

Big one, No!

Small one, No! I two. You three.

Big one, really frustrated now, No, I'm two! You're three. I'm two!

Long pause. Small one sits back looking satisfied. Big one is still trying to figure out what happened.

Wait, I'm three?

Afton says nothing. PoppaDaddy and I hide silent giggles behind coffee mugs. Gwennan is still unsure.

That's our little girl. Genetically predisposed to ruffle feathers. I've never seen her prouder.

{I don't meant to misrepresent them. In general, the girls work together very well. For instance, this game of 'Pooh sticks' rapidly became 'Pooh landscaping timber' with a bit of sister team work.}

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Faith created

We are learning the 'fruit of the spirit.' Count three fruits three times: love, joy peace. patience, kindness, goodness. faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We pray for these fruits. Ask the Spirit to give us kindness towards one another. To bring us happy hearts, his joy. To give self-control when we feel none.
I'm stuck on these gifts. How they can all be faked, learned behavior, masquerading as heart change, hiding the hypocrite inside. All, except faithfulness.

We can't fake faithfulness, not for long anyway.

Life is built to challenge our faith, that the one who is faking it will be revealed and the one bearing true fruit will be pruned.

In that realization, I find a terrifying, freeing parenting truth. No earthly thing creates faithfulness.
I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. Jeremiah 2:7
How can I bless my children more than God blessed his? How can I give them more, train them more, cite example upon example of God's goodness more than God himself did?
But my people have change their glory for that which does not profit. Jeremiah 2:11
Earthly blessings do not produce faithfulness. No amount of blessed rituals or sacred family practices. I cannot create faith.

Nor can I force it.
In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction. Jeremiah 2:30
How can I discipline more effectively than God? How can I hope to correct my children perfectly, justly, lovingly, in proportion, faithfully at all times?
Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Jeremiah 2:23
Discipline, even Godly discipline doesn't force faith.

Terrifying. This human momma wants control, wants results, wants a formula. Blessing + discipline = faithful children. Isn't that in Proverbs somewhere? Do it right, and they have to respond.

No. It isn't. And how many times have I watched parents 'do it right' before the eyes of unrepentant children.


And freeing.

Because I won't do it right. I don't do it right. I will never balance blessing and discipline. I will never parent so diligently. I am frail and weak and prone to wander myself. How can I teach anything else to my children?

And freeing because the book doesn't end with chapter 2 {how horrifying if it did}.
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:33,34, emphasis mine
He sets his word in place, in hearts made fertile to grow and bear much fruit.
To guarantee that this new covenant will not fail, Christ takes the initiative to create the faith and secure the faithfulness of his people. ~~John Piper 
Faithfulness isn't about training, but covenant. Promise from God through Jesus that he will change our hearts. Create in us a new person that longs for him, that blooms with faith.

His steadfast love completes what all the parenting in the world fails to achieve. Create faithfulness in his children. Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blueberry quinoa salad with shaved broccoli

Broccoli and I have never gotten along. Not a digestive thing. I just don't like broccoli Eee gads - The queen of whole grains and veggies doesn't like broccoli??? I know. It's a nutritional weakness.

After reading Alton Browns must-eat food list, I've made a serious effort to include broccoli in my weekly menu. Which means finding recipes where broccoli doesn't taste like broccoli.

My first brilliant find was over at Smitten Kitchen. Broccoli Cream Pesto, or 'green pasta.' The whole family went nuts for this one, even Momma {who doesn't like broccoli, remember}. Because it doesn't taste like broccoli.

Which got me thinking, maybe broccoli doesn't always have to overwhelm a dish with its broccoli-ness. Maybe I can incorporate broccoli into a dish and feature something other than broccoli. Thus, today's recipe. A cold quinoa salad with fresh blueberries and shaved broccoli. Shaving stemmy veggies makes the soft pith the focus instead of the outer skin. I think that's why this recipe works.

This salad is a great transition from winter to spring while broccoli is still in harvest and blueberries are first arriving. I made this my side for Easter dinner, as it makes plenty for sharing. Prepare ahead for best results.
Used the salad as a side to grilled salmon last night. Yumm-o!

Or serve as a light lunch
Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Shaved Broccoli


2 c quinoa
1 c fresh blueberries, washd
1 bunch broccoli stems {you can include the florets, finely chopped}
1/2 c pistachios
1/2 c crumbled feta

1/4 c cherry pit vinegar {can substitute raspberry or red wine vinegar}
1/4 c olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Cook quinoa in 4 c salted water {20-30 minutes}. When cooked, fluff with a fork and cool {takes about an hour}.  Using a peeler, shave broccoli stems into slivers {as seen in the warm asparagus salad}. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients.

Mix dressing in a separate bowl until salt and sugar are incorporated and pour over salad. Stir well. Best if allowed to sit for at least an hour before serving.

Serve cold.

Another broccoli hit. Enjoy!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The aftermath of Passion week

We're back from the land of the ill. It was a rough visit, one we hope not to repeat any time soon. Somewhere in the middle of all that sick, Passion week happened... here and gone.

I hope you had a blessed Easter. We did, thanks to some wonderful friends who cleaned their house, dyed eggs, constructed cute baskets, cooked dinner, and invited our little family to celebrate with them. My contribution to the event: dressing everyone in other-than-pajamas at the same time.

My plans for Easter this year were grand: resurrection cake, an easter tree, dyed eggs, Seder supper on Saturday. None of it came together. I barely scraped almond butter on sandwiches.

I found my joy over Easter crumbling. Easter felt like a waste because I couldn't celebrate the way I wanted. Then I wasted the day by neglecting to worship.

I totally missed the point.

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:12-14

Plans flop or change or go smoothly without producing what we expected. The wise recognize our finite number of days and make the most of the day given, whether it goes according to plan or sickness.
Darlin', you were never in control. You're just recognizing it today. ~ A wise friend
I am not yet wise. I have not yet numbered. I am not yet satisfied with a different plan.

Even today, I feel futility, not least when I look at the attempted Easter pictures {any tricks for getting a 2 and 3 year old to look at the camera and smile at the same time???}.

I reread the Psalm.     {Lord} Teach us to number...       {Lord} Have pity...        {Lord} Satisfy us...   

The psalmist doesn't have it all together either. That psalmist, Moses, the greatest leader Israel ever knew, the man who saw God's glory, who talked directly to God. He begs to be taught, to be pitied, to be satisfied.

Maybe I'm not the only one who loses sight and misses days, even weeks.

Steadfast love. Never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. Isn't that the answer? The Lord's love engulfs my small-minded heart, giving me a new day to celebrate Him.
 Like so many younger sisters, Afton lives in a gigantic shadow, a gigantic, gregarious shadow with large brown eyes and self-proclaimed Rapunzel hair. {Up until a couple months ago, Afton was still being confused for a boy.} But when she pulled on this dress, she became a princess. She twirled and leaped and kissed and 'thank you'd.' I could dress her in it everyday to see her eyes light up again.

Our first attempt at an Easter picture...
 I love small one's expression... Sis, what sort of smile is that??

Our second attempt, followed by a shrug and a 'good enough' from Momma...


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