Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise

Advertisements

It’s just a rock…

I am on vacation.

Just me.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids.

Superman thought it would be a great idea for me to get to spend some time with my sisters and my parents.

Without distractions.

For those of you who know me, or think you know me, or just WANT to know me…;) You know that my life is very full of little people with lots of “learning experiences” and “opportunities for growth”…

All of those opportunities tend to crowd out quiet time and time to write…I almost gave up blogging. It became so hard to find time to write, and I felt so guilty NOT writing, and the internal struggle was more than I had time to deal with…

So…I write infrequently. And it frustrates me.

Superman knew that I needed some true R & R, and off I went…to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

One of my sisters lives near San Diego, the other lives in tornado alley near Oklahoma City…fortunately, my parents live just ten minutes from my house.

But THIS week, we are all together…under one roof. The nephews tease about our cackling laughter when we get to be together. There is a lot of cackling.

We also have very serious conversations, though. We have each gone through some very hard times with some of our children. We cry together and encourage each other and share the joys and sorrows and glimmers of hope that God allows to foster hope in our lives.

I love rocks, and usually collect rocks wherever I travel to display in dishes around my house. The rocks are not special. They are just rocks. But I love them and can almost always remember where each rock came from and what I was doing when I found them.

My beautiful daughter...

My beautiful daughter and granddaughter…

My daughter, whose children are Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top, doesn’t share my love of rocks. They are merely part of what she would call my hoarding disease.

But I love my rocks.

Yesterday, I had a call from my daughter. She sounded very animated and tense.

“Mom! Where is that verse about the husband cherishing his wife like a jewel???”

“ummm, do you mean Ephesians 5?”

I read her the verses.

Ephesians 5:25-30
(English Standard Version)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“Nooooo. That’s not the right one,” she sighed. Clearly frustrated.

“Well, what about this, in I Peter?” And I read her the verses.

1 Peter 3:7-8
(English Standard Version)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“No. That’s not it either. On Sunday, the pastor preached about this and read these verses about how the husband should love and care for his wife like she is a precious jewel…”

“Well, Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman being worth more than rubies…”

She looked it up and read it…

“Yes!! That’s it. Oh wait…” pausing as she read more…”No, that’s not it either.”

I suggested she call the pastor and ask him what it was. Oh no, she could NEVER do that. Of course, I told her she could, but she refused. Or his wife. Oh no. You just can’t do that. (Can someone please explain to me WHY one cannot do this???)

We talked a little more. She said she was so stressed trying to find it. I asked why it would be so stressful? And she informed me that she had been up until the wee hours of the previous night trying to find it, and her DAD didn’t know and if I didn’t know…well, she was stressed.

So, I suggested maybe Song of Solomon had something like that…She looked it up. Apparently for the first time. She started reading…

“Oh my goodness! That man’s a pervert!”

I started laughing. She continued to exclaim about the details she read. She was clearly SHOCKED that those verses could even BE in the Bible. She did not want to read any further.

“Well, in the context of marriage, it is beautiful,” I said.

I shared that maybe the preacher had used several different passages and created a composite of them with an explanation that she THOUGHT were actual verses, but were really his words.

Then I had an idea.

“Why don’t you check to see if the message was recorded and listen to it again? Then you will hear it again.”

“Oh, mom. You are so SMART!”

I almost fainted. How many years had I waited to hear those words! And NOT said dripping with sarcasm!

We got off the phone, and I started thinking about the conversation.

Superman and I have traveled a very painful road with our daughter. She has learned many lessons through a lot of pain that left a lot of scars. We have learned more about ourselves, and about God, as we have been on this journey. But mostly, we have learned how very much God loves His children, and works in our lives for His glory.

That God even loves us at all is such a gift.

That He is patient and long-suffering, well, that is just His grace and mercy.

That He doesn’t leave us is a promise I know I can believe.

So when my daughter was stressing over finding some verses, I could see how much God had done in her heart.

Kind of like rocks.

Diamonds and rubies and other precious jewels are not mined out of the ground in a condition to wear and show how valuable they really are.

diamonds

The rocks ARE valuable because of what can happen when a master stone cutter takes that raw stone and chisels away those things that detract from its value and beauty. As the stone is hammered and polished, it is transformed into something so beautiful.

That is what God does to a hard heart when it is yielded to Him. He loves that heart. He molds it. He creates a thing of beauty out of something that wasn’t before.

And only a Master can do that.

And I am so, so, so thankful that He chooses to transform us, day by day, moment by moment.

God is so good.

My FIRST DIY

There are a lot of DIYers out there nowadays. Apparently, the new IN thing is to do it yourself and then brag about it and write a “tute” and “pin” it on Pinterest.

I am not quite that immersed in the whole post and brag stuff on Pinterest, but I DO wholeheartedly live my life in the DIY realm. And I love, love, love Pinterest. (My husband is not quite as much of a fan…it just means more work…)

Let’s face it…I have more time and junk than money, and I am married to someone who views our roles in this way: I am the composer and he is the performer; I am the architect and he is the contractor; I am the designer and he follows my plans. And believe me, we make some pretty remarkable music together…when he follows the music and is in the right key. Or as long as this designer fully communicates the plan and has thought through all the ins and outs…

It wasn’t always this way. My need to save junk from the dumpster created a lot of opportunities for Superman to show exactly what he was/is made of…and I think he now actually loves all the positive reinforcement that gets showered on him for all of his hard work.

At least, I think he likes it…except for when I say, “I have a great idea…” and he is already in the middle of another of my great ideas. Sigh…my brain runs way too fast for my own good…

But once upon a time, he didn’t know about DIYs and didn’t really know how to build or fix much of anything. I probably didn’t either, but I thought I did…

I met my husband in September of 1978…I was a freshman in college and he was a big man on campus senior…there were a lot of things that we shared in terms of common interests, but not everything.

Let’s just say we grew up in two very different worlds…suburban St. Louis vs. middle of nowhere Nome, Alaska. Malls vs. Catalogs. Style vs. Necessity. Trees vs. Tundra. Hot Humidity vs. Frozen Precipitation. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables vs. Canned Everything.

How we hit it off is kind of still a mystery, since he thought clothing should only be blue and brown, and well…I love colors…all of them.

When we met, he looked just a little bit like Napolean Dynamite…

The ORIGINAL Napoleon Dynamite...

The ORIGINAL Napoleon Dynamite…

Tundra Man...note the cool dude shades and the super wide diy leather watch band...stylin' Nome style

Tundra Man…note the cool dude shades and the super wide diy leather watch band…stylin’ Nome style

But after we had been dating for awhile, things changed a little bit…and after almost two years, we successfully added TAN into his color scheme…And when we got married, well…the afro was significantly reduced in size, but not totally gone…

Wedding Day...new shades, new hair, new watch...mustache...yep

Wedding Day…new shades, new hair, new watch…mustache…yep

By the time we got married, he figured out that he really looked a lot better (not that he CARED) in the clothes I picked out, and he really didn’t enjoy buying his own clothes…(chuckling)…the floodgates of color opened…eventually adding in GRAY!

Little by little, colors became no big deal and we started working on patterns … colors were, and are, still a bit of a problem because he doesn’t understand that all blues cannot go together, nor should he EVER concoct his own outfit unless it was previously combined by ME…we still experience the major fail from time to time…

But now, he usually has hair that is sort of tame…although the afro returns fast if the hair gets too long…his glasses are not huge anymore…nor are they shaded…and when he wears a watch, it is a normal watch that is bought at a store…the whole sock issue is still problematic as he really likes his white-over-the calf athletic socks…

But I threw them away…hehehehe…

Before and After…what a handsome job on my first real DIY…

Nathan 3

Nathan 6And he even smiles while he works…
I sure love this guy!

Promises–Cross Your Heart or Cross Your Fingers

Froglegs has learned something new. There are levels, or degrees, of promises.

How do I know this? So glad you asked…

The other day we were having a discussion. I don’t even remember what it was about. All I remember is the end of the conversation.

“I promise, Froglegs,” said this Nana, very sincerely.

“Do you really, REALLY promise???” was his response.

“Absolutely, I promise,” was my reassuring reply.

“Ok. Pinky promise, then,” he demanded. To which, I complied and we pinky-ed our promise.

I had to chuckle at being made to pinky promise with my grandson. I really take my promises seriously anyway, with or without the pinky swear part. But my little buddy knows all too much about broken promises, so if my pinky-pinky promise with him added a measure of security, well…let me double pinky promise with that sweet boy.

That also got me thinking about our young neighbors next door. They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary, and like all marriages, they have already gotten to experience the ups and downs that occur in all relationships. But I am getting way ahead of myself here.

This young couple purchased the house next to ours, but only the young man moved in.  He lived there alone for almost a year. From time to time, his fiancee would come over to work on the house or in the yard, but she never stayed the night.

Finally, their wedding day arrived and for the first time, she was there 24/7. My husband and I were so blessed to see the honor that they held for their coming marriage. And the seriousness in which they have continued to live out the promises they made to one another.

As they settled in to their life as  husband and wife, Superman and I would comment from time to time at the joy they shared together and how easily it overflowed into their interaction with our family of monkey-children.

During the winter, the couple went skiing and the young wife injured her knee. Eventually she had surgery to repair it and the subsequent rehab to get back her range of motion and strength.

This couple had also gotten a German Shepherd puppy named “Stella”–and believe me when I say that this dog required a lot of exercise.  And Stella didn’t care if her owner was saddled with a bum knee.

One afternoon, we were enjoying the weather, sitting on our deck and watching the ducks and the birds doing their flying, floating, quacking…We saw Stella bound down the hill of her back yard, and her “mom” carefully navigating the slope to get down to the flat part of the yard.

Once safely down the hill, she tossed the balls and played fetch for quite awhile. Suddenly, we saw Stella take off for the front. No matter how she was commanded to come back, Stella was not in any hurry to obey. After just a few minutes, we saw the reason why…

“Daddy” was home…she jumped up and down and ran with great excitement. She followed him into the back yard where we observed him, carrying a load of stuff, walking down the hill to his wife’s side.

He kissed her so tenderly as his greeting to her. There was a purity to their embrace that was so moving. I think Superman was almost teary-eyed by this point. But then, the young husband leaned over, scooped up his wife and carried her up the hill so she wouldn’t have to walk back up the steep slope with her bad knee.

We just looked at each other. Their love was not the transient kind. Their promises to love each other for better or worse didn’t have qualifiers attached. Their promises to love each other in sickness and in health were not made with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

No. Their promises were the “cross your heart and hope to die” kind…the grown up version of the pinky promise. The kind of promises real fathers and mothers make to their children. The kind of promises God makes to His children.

That pinky promise meant the world to my Froglegs. And those marriage vows carry that same kind of intention–

I just wish everyone would approach every promise as a life and death kind of promise instead of the “fingers crossed behind their backs” kind of promise. Can you imagine what our world would look like if everyone kept their promises???

What a wonderful world that would be…

The Costco Butcher

(I know Easter has already passed. Tell that to my internet connection that keeps kicking me offline when I want to be online. I am behind, but I decided to post my Easter thoughts at this late date regardless.)

On the Saturday before Easter, my husband took me on a date to Costco.

Yes. Costco.

And yes, it was a date.

We don’t have a lot of time to ourselves, so stealing away to a place that offers free samples of tasty treats, great deals on all kinds of cool stuff, and GLUTEN FREE DOG FOOD should certainly be on the top of anyone’s Top Ten Date Ideas, right? I know, you’re jealous of my life…

So we made our way through the humongous Six Flags over Groceries and Stuff, and eventually walked through the meat department. There is something to be said at finding a pork loin that is almost three feet long…I cut it into thirds so it would fit in my pan…

But as I looked over the selection of meat, I saw the butcher walking through the meat department. He was wearing a white uniform and what probably started as a white apron. The apron was now very blood-stained, bearing the marks of the butcher’s workmanship. It wasn’t the first time I had ever seen a bloody butcher’s apron, but this time it got my mind going.

The following morning, I was again reminded of the butcher in his bloodied apron. It was Easter Sunday, and I was thinking about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I thought about the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, my mind was filled with images of them being splattered and stained with His blood. His sacrifice was not a neat and tidy job. It was truly a bloody and torturous death. And in much the same manner as the butcher bore the bloodstains of the slaughtered animals, so would the soldiers have borne the stains of the Savior on their bodies and clothing. I wondered how they felt? Did it cause them any fear? Did they feel nothing at all? Were they even aware of WHO they were killing?

My memory of the blood-stained butcher is stamped in my brain. Even stronger in my mind is the image of my slain Savior who died at man’s hands to offer the final sacrifice for sin. There is no longer any suitable offering for sin…Jesus completed His work at Calvary. Not only was the sacrifice sufficient, but in rising again and being ascended into heaven, we see the work of Christ complete as He now is seated at the right hand of the Father.

There is nothing left that any of us can do to make His sacrifice more effective or more complete. He bore the payment for sin in His own body that I might live. Freely live a life of hope and grace and mercy and love. 

Hebrews 9:11 ff

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things,
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly
since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all … to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

 

 

Can I Give You My Number?

I have three very beautiful kids. They are gorgeous. And that isn’t just me talking. OK, right now it is, but I am not the only one who says it.

my sweet daughter and her baby

my sweet daughter and her baby

My oldest child…isn’t she beautiful? Holding Little Boy Blue, my sweet little love with the blonde hair and big blue peepers! She brings happiness and comfort in her own special way to everyone around her, whether it is her pediatric patients or her friends and family…and let’s just say she has a great big joy that emanates from her, no matter who you are.

Then there is my second child…

Andrew, Stephanie and Paul at Paul's high school graduation, May 25, 2012

Andrew, Stephanie and Paul at Paul’s high school graduation, May 25, 2012

She is striking…and let me tell you it is awful going to Wal-Mart or Target with her…strangers whistling at her…men who just don’t know how to behave when they are confronted by her beauty…Some of them get an instant education from her on the appropriate way to voice their appreciation…let’s just say that she is able to make herself clearly understood. And if her children are with her…watch what you say and how you say it! Just because she is only 4′ 11″ on her tallest day…she is one tough cookie.

IMG_1450

Lastly, there is mi hijo…my only son…the one everyone loves, whose nickname is Paulie…as if he were an Italian…ha ha! He always has a smile on his face, knows no strangers, he loves his niece and nephews and is fiercely protective. He has threatened to “deal with” more than one guy who got out of line with his sister…and he is just a teddy bear.

But, to be honest, daughter number two gets a lot more time in my life because she still lives with us…and so do her kiddos, remember? Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top? They are instant inspiration.

Today she had a new experience…and the cashier at a local Panera is probably still wiping egg off his face. She went through a drive through, but had forgotten her Panera card at home. When she arrived at the window, she asked the cashier (young male) if he could take her number…He said sure, and hurried off to get a piece of paper…

I am imagining his heart just racing…so excited, the improbability of it all…

That poor guy…he misunderstood and thought she was giving him her TELEPHONE NUMBER! Can you imagine how he felt when he realized she was using her frequent buyer number???

I am still just shaking my head…

Sew…Curly Top Turned 3…

Yep, made her tutu ;)

Yep, made her tutu 😉

IMG_3170

Can you believe it? That crazy, twirly-tomboy girlie whirlwind is now three years old. I am still trying to recover from her birthday.

You see, her mother likes BIG birthdays on the odd numbered years…for some reason my daughter has an aversion to even numbers. But she is absolutely in love with prime numbers.

So, Curly Top’s mama had some big ideas for this child’s birthday. Most of them involved me, my sewing machines, all my time and creativity for about two weeks.

Right before Valentine’s Day…

Problem. I was already making my little cherubs special pillows for Valentine’s Day…

You see, I like to do random little things that are somewhat unexpected (oops, that is mildly redundant), and I was trying to perfect my pillow-making, so they each got one that was specifically geared toward their room colors and interests…sort of.

What little boy doesn't love Lightning McQueen?

What little boy doesn’t love Lightning McQueen?

Bubba is really into Cars. Actually all the boys seem to like Cars…probably why they fight over Mater the Tow Truck and Lightning McQueen’s bright red car…

But even better is the screaming that takes place between Bubba and Curly Top when all the children are suppose to hail her as Queen and Bubba chimes in with his “I’m Lightning McQueen!” which is met with “No! I am the Queen!” and it just loops around over and over and over and over…

IMG_2539 IMG_2538

Are you a morning person? Or a night person?

Are you a morning person? Or a night person?

And who could forget about Vesuvius? That Irish-Italian spitfire who cannot be adequately impersonated by a mere portion of the day–NO–for HIM the song “Night and Day, You are the One” comes to mind. He begins my child care day with his big grin (usually) and draws it to a close.

He shines like moon and stars and streams light…or maybe I should say ‘screams’ light…he is the most vocal child in my care.

Then there are the little girls…Australia and Cookie. One is graduating to preschool at the end of this school year, and the other is just this tiny wisp of a child. Australia loves purple. Also pink. So what could be more perfect for this little girl???

Sweetness with a vintage button...

Sweetness with a vintage button…

 

IMG_2532

 

 

 

Cookie has a room that is shades of pinks and blues…she is the prize of her family…you know, first granddaughter and all, I know you understand…I make fun of her dad all the time…slightly over-protective and all. And tonight…she is taking her first swim lesson. She just took her first steps over the weekend. Soooooo….

A rose is a rose is a rose...

A rose is a rose is a rose…

So I managed to get these all finished in time for Valentine’s Day, but then there was Curly Top and her birthday…ugh…

I owed her a quilt for her big girl bed. The fabric had been sitting around. I started with the squares right before Christmas, but I was sick for so many weeks and just couldn’t get to the quilt.

Even though the daughter of MINE nagged me about it…like every 10 minutes.

So…I got cracking. And I finished it. Not only the quilt, but just look and see…

Pillow case, Throw Pillow and Quilt

Pillow case, Throw Pillow and Quilt

IMG_2550 IMG_2554 IMG_2555 IMG_2557 Once I got the quilt finished, I decided to make a matching pillow case. I had already given the little pillow to her for Valentine’s Day.

I was pleased…she was pleased…and even the mama was happy. But her parting question to me was when was I planning to make HER a quilt?

Suddenly, I am feeling a little tired…