of a rockhound and 4th grader under pressure

So Ryland has decided he wants to be a Rockhound.   He's been telling us how much he loves rocks for about a year now.  His room has about as many rocks as Lego people scattered on every surface.  But about a month ago there must have been a geology lesson in his 3rd grade class because he's been passionate about rocks ever since.  He asked if he could join a rockhound club.  Wanted to know if I'd take him to look for rocks on a mountain, and if he could have one of the pick tools to break the rocks apart with.  I did the only thing a tired, barely getting over a virus working mom could do, I googled kids geology clubs in the area.  That turned up nothing.  I tried kids rock clubs.  Nothing.  Kids rockhounding?  Nada.  So I suggested he start his own rock club.  His eyes lit up and he started scheming.  I offered to let him start his own rockhounding blog.  He was jumping up and down with yes's.  So ARockHoundKid is born.

The Music Man dad asked Ryland what he was going to do when the kids started coming to his rock club.

"I don't know.  I don't have anything to do but look at rocks!"  He answered emphatically as though to say, "Duh!  What else is there to do in a rock club dad?"

So if you're in the neighborhood, keep your eye open.  You just might see a boy or two out there in my driveway, hunched over rocks, pounding them with hammers and lining them up in neat rows.  And if Ryland has his way, there will be a sign that says:

Rockhound Kid Club meets here.  Rocks for sale.  Geodes five dollars.

We'll see how it goes.

In the mean time, Connor is anticipating starting Majors and trying to trust his parents that his current 4th grade stresses will pass.  I think he's got a lot of pressure to perform.  I wish I could take that away from him.  I'm almost 40 and I'm still trying to turn myself from the self-centered path of performing for others' approval.  I'm trying to at least help him during this time to see that he doesn't need to impress me, he just needs to do hard work and listen.  I'm concerned for him.  Like Solomon prayed, I'm praying for wisdom to make right judgments.  I wish I could wave pixy dust over him and all would be well.  But that's just now how it works.  And so I present my requests with thanksgiving and beyond understanding there's a visceral assurance inside that says Connor's heilsgeschichte is being worked out even now.  Even in this.
My food blog is fast becoming a pumpkin bread blog.  I just scrolled back and realized I have three different pumpkin bread or muffin posts.  I like pumpkin.  I like it better in a bread than in a pie.  I've also discovered I like custard.  Custard is a refined person's desert. When I was a newly married 19 year old working as a live-in health aide for a wealthy family in Scottsdale four days a week, the 80 year old woman I cared for taught me how to make custard.  It was her favorite breakfast.  I didn't think much of it when I tasted it back then at 19.  My palate was more suited to Whoppers and Snickers bars in those days.  But the other day I made a custard using coconut milk, egg yokes, honey, vanilla and nutmeg.  All I can say is I guess my palate is a little more refined than it was 19 years ago cause custard is creamy deliciousness.


I need a Leak Healer

Periodically I'm reminded...

I'm leaking
Out my eyes
Out my mouth
I can produce nothing without the miracle of God.

I'm like a bucket full of holes
I can't hold water
I can't achieve my sole purpose
Fill me!
Fill me!
Fill me!
I want to be filled.

But I keep dripping

I'm an ancient city, strong walls breached and broken down.
Build me!
Build me!
Build me!
I want to be strong.

But I keep being found weak

I need a Leak Healer
A Wall Builder
A Life Giver
A Living Water Springer
Aw, forget the bucket
I need a spring in me!

And each time I look square in the mirror at the reality of my inability
Just when I seem most hopeless, or most aware of my hopelessness
Just then I'm most hope filled
I hope like good-as-dead Abraham hoped
In Him who calls into existence the things that do not exist


Clinging and Being Held

"My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." - Psalm 63:8

I read this this morning here in the dark.  My body's not fully awake but the Spirit in me resonates an "amen" even in this sleepy shell.  I quicken and stir and whisper it into the quiet house.  I remember Ama.  Amy Charmichael, one of my heroes of the faith.  I remember something I read that Elizabeth Elliot, another woman of God who spurs me on to love and good deeds, said when talking about Amy.  She addressed her listeners first with:

"You are loved with an everlasting love," That's what the Bible says.  'And underneath are the everlasting arms."

It's what Psalm 63:8 made me think of this morning.  I'm tired.  I'm worn.  Being up with a coughing boy through the night is making waking and quiet time with the Lord hard.  But when I read Psalm 63:8 and remembered what Elizabeth said inside my tired body rose up a hope-filled joy.

I am a Christ-clinging woman.  My soul clings to Him.  He is my only hope.  But my clinging is not what keeps me attached.  His right hand upholds me.  I am loved with an everlasting love, and just in case my grip weakens and I start looking around and sink- underneath are the everlasting arms.

I still cling to Him.  Who else could I cling to?  No one else, nothing else, has everlasting arms and everlasting love.  I don't cling because my spiritual safety is dependent upon the strength of my clinging.  I cling because my rescue is dependent up His everlasting love and arms alone.  Who else should I cling to?

It's a relationship.  I cling.  He holds.  His love and might keep me clinging to Him.  And just when I think I'm too worn to hold on, it's not a boost of strength that renews me as much as it is looking again at those strong, nail-scarred arms underneath me.  Remembering His love, and His ability to save keeps me clinging to Him.


I really am an old soul

I've decided I really am an 80 year old woman in a 30 something year old body. If only swing music was in now. Ella Fitzgerald is my new favorite singer. I can't dance, but if I could, it would be to Big Band/Swing music.

I read her bio on wikipedia.  Pretty amazing rags to riches story.  A black woman in the 50's singing a German rendition of this song in Berlin.  Crazy cool.

I stayed home with my ailing oldest today instead of going to church.  I really don't go to church anymore.  I say I go to church because it's too much to explain.  But really I get to hang with other redeemed-ones for an hour or so, let truth renew my mind, center-down, let the world fade away, renew my mind in Christ, and plant truth-seeds in eager children's ears.  I always walk away breathing again.  Not as soul-anemic as I was before I walked into that gathering place.

But today, I got to stay home and plant not only those good-news seeds but also my fix-breakfast-rub-back-listen-to-your-feelings-hug-a-child life in Connor, who's got some kind of bacterial infection. I thought it was strep, but yesterday he had a strep test and a mono test that both came back negative.  He's had 3 weeks of sore throat, headache and stomach ache that come and go with fever popping up once a week.  His fevers on Friday night and Saturday morning were the last straw.  No more chalking it up to a avoiding work or psychosomatic complaints.  Fevers are fever.  Fevers of unknown origin, when they keep popping up, need to be investigated.

Connor doesn't do well when illness forces him to lay down and rest.  To Connor there is no life if it doesn't involve fast movements and expressions of physical prowess.  Being still is not in his vocabulary of comprehensible concepts.  It's like a foreign language.  He's learning to do it, because that's what everyone expects of him, but it's not his mother tongue.

I've been doing quite a bit of food blogging over at my other blog.  I'm really excited about the cooking I've been doing at home and my new-found love of paleo-style eating.  There are at least 100 other excellent paleo food blogs out there that already have a cookbook to go with the blog and thousands of recipes and followers.  I doubt my food blog will go there, but it's a venue to share my cooking expression of affection- which my husband is all about supporting.  His support means a lot.

My inspiration to write a re-telling of the scriptures to my boys via blog is still flickering, but just barely.  I need to give it some dedicated time.

I've given up Facebooking for Lent for Ryland.  Let me explain.  I don't observe Lent in a traditional since.  I didn't grow up in a church that observed Lent and the church I meet with now doesn't observe Lent either.  I place no special spiritual kudos on observing Lent.  I do think the concept of "fasting" from something (food, technology, etc.) for a period of time to replace that activity with the intentional, concentrated focus on Gospel truth feeding and Christ-in-me living is a worthwhile discipline.  It's a discipline many disciples of Christ before me have practiced in an effort induce a hunger for what one really needs: Christ.  It's hard to hunger for Christ when you're stuffed on every pleasure you can grasp.

Ryland mentioned Lent to me telling me his friend at school told him she was giving up candy and soda for Lent and asking me if I knew what Ash Wednesday was.  We talked.  It was a good two-way conversation.  I explained, he asked more questions and suggested that I give up Facebook for Lent.  Smile.   I listened.

If there's an appetite I need to curb it's my insatiable appetite for what others think, mostly of me and/or my endeavors.  I hate hearing myself say it, but it's the ugly truth.  I am too concerned with the approval of others and not concerned enough that I am well pleasing to the Lord.  If I am that to Him, why does what anyone else thinks matter?  I want to live for an audience of One.  That unhealthy appetite of mine needs to be dealt with.  Hence a period of abstinence from Facebook and a feeding on His Book.

This Devotions for Lent book has scripture readings for each week and some writings from other Christians.  This week I was struck by how fallen we are.  So fallen because we are endowed with so high a design: Imago Dei.  We were made to glorify God.   We were made to be reflectors of His beauty.  But we all fall short.  Oh so short.  And we're so deluded.  We think we're so good.

"There is no one righteous. No not one.  There is none who understands; none who seeks after God... For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  - Romans 3:10,11,23

We shovel in pleasure and are so stuffed on thoughtless indulgence we can't see how starved, how fallen we truly are.

Oh boy, I hear asthma-like coughs coming from the well child.  Breathing trumps blogging.


Got power?

Committing Colossians to my heart, this struck me:

...being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father... Colossians 1:11-12a

We Christ-clinging ones, we have heard and believed and desire to live a life worthy of the Lord, though we know we will never live a life worthy of Him.  We have become fruit-bearers by His Spirit and have begun to be filled with wisdom and understanding and are being strengthened so that we may...

Have the best family we can?
Have a happy marriage?
Have obedient children?
Have a successful career?
Be financially secure?
Have a successful ministry?
Be healthy and happy?

No! Oh how selfish I am even with His grace!

Oh how I have missed the boat so many times.  So many times my thoughts begin to drown in a sea of contempt due to all the expectations I unknowingly had when the gospel-boat, the Ark of Christ came to me.  I'm so thankful He is restoring me, despite my proud ear-lopping reactions to His will to take up my cross and follow Him.  I'm so thankful He still says, "Feed my sheep."  I hang my head in shame, but he lifts my head and talks of love and what His power in me is for.  Three things.


That Holy-Spirit power is not for what I think it may be for.  He's here in me so I can endure the loss of the very things I mistakenly thought He was going to give me. 

Will I endure?  Only with His glorious power. 

Will I be patient?  Only with the strength of His might. 

Will I give Joyful-Thanks?  Only if I see what His power in me is really for.  And when I see it; when I see that Christ-like endurance press through my depraved flesh; when I see the godly bend-down-to-be-the-servant like my Servant King patience take it's knee-stand in me, bearing with another fallen Imago Dei one, then I will be gushing with joyful thanksgiving. 

For there's really nothing else this redeemed one desires this side of heaven than to be redeemed, to glorify Him, to be a reflector of His grace to another.


The earth is full of His heaviness

I'm beyond tired.  The Music Man and I were up with Ryland from 2:30 am on.  He woke up with a stridor, which is a very scary sound!  We took him out into the cool air and he was able to breathe much easier.  It's croup.  Croup = No fun, sleepless nights and prednisone wired days.  Booo.

So I'm off to bed early tonight, so is the croupy boy.

Yesterday at church we sang a line:  The earth is filed with His glory.

Glory is a word and half.  It holds a lot of weight.  It is a lot of weight.  It comes from a word that means heaviness.   It's substance.  It's evidence.  It's presence.  It's what represents.  It's what makes one revered, honored, great, majestic.

(I didn't make it to completing this post last night.  So continuing this morning...)

When I sang, "the earth is filled with His glory," a theme filled my heart.  What is the earth full of that is the heaviness of God?  What is the earth filled with that makes God revered, honored, great, majestic?  I turned away from the screen filled with words and looked at the Imago Dei ones standing all around me.  I thought of everyday I drive to and fro, and yes, the creation, yes, the eternal blue sky, and the pillars of clouds (God's water storage that looks like a dream), yes, the blazing sunrise and the purple hewed mountains, but even more all those busy people, moving in cars from here to there, bearing the image of God broken by sin.  There's His weightiest heaviness.  There in those blue eyed and brown eyed and fair skinned and dark skinned and male and female and tall and short and heavy and thin and variously gifted, there lies the greatest evidence of God's majesty.

The earth is filled with people God made in his image.  And oh how very fallen we are!  The greatest evidence of God's glory has become the greatest perversion of God's glory.  And we are twisted and broken and perverse and no longer reflect His image.  And He knows this and has given us a sure and great hope.   The Image of God Restorer.  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  The very Image of God Himself, taking on our brokenness, dying our destined death, satisfying God's right to reject everyone he created- we perverts of His image-  and rising as proof and promise: He will raise all the Christ-hoping ones too.

I don't know how to put words to this theme really.  I lack the ability to grab hold.  But when I sing, "The earth is filled with His glory."  I drink living waters.  And I realize how very treasured every soul I see is.  Worth the only One who ever was full of His glory dying for.  And I want to treat each one with the honor He deserves. And I want to work out my own amazing salvation with fear and trembling.  Christ in me, the hope of glory.


Psalm 5

These are my sacred minutes. Here in the dark, in the quiet, before everyone gets up, with a hot cup of coffee, a pen, my journals and Bible in this corner chair.

I come here every morning and I... groan. This morning I opened Psalm 5 after I mumbled out groanings and jumbled-up words, searching for how to start the day when my mind is already barraged with fears and doubts and its not even 6 AM yet.

"Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch." 

A sacrifice?

Truth comes to mind: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God... ...a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of your lips giving thanks to His name...

I move on through pleas for deliverance, confessions of languishing, reasons for asking- for the sake of your steadfast love (Psalm 6:4), more questions- Why? Why does the Lord seem to be sitting there doing nothing while people, in their pride, don't seek God, keep doing wrong and think nothing of God and seem to succeed in their god-less, proud ways?

These were my oldest son's questions last night in his anger, in his wanting to be right and despising correction. I looked into his red face and bulging eyes and assured him that this is nothing new. Many 9 year old boys have faced the same corrections and consequences throughout time. This is life here in this fallenness. We aren't right. We're wrong. And there's only two things to do with the the object of love who does wrong: Reject him or Redeem him.

There is no fairy dust or magic wand you sprinkle over a person that instantly makes them flawless and perfect. There's only blood. Self-sacrificing, righteous blood spilled to fulfill the rejection and at the same time redeem. There's only a Life planted like a seed in the dirt of our soiled hearts. There's only time taken to correct and train and discipline in love, using the wrong to produce the right.

And the only right now is not pre-fallen innocence. The right now is letting go of Eden to embrace a cross: to loose my life, my plans, my desires for the way things should be, to gain the eternal life that Christ produces in me through self-sacrificial loving of another fallen-one in His name. And when my doubts come and I'm tempted by my own desires and I hear:

Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? 

 Let my answer be:

 MY mountain? Flee to my mountain? In the Lord I take refuge! The Lord is where He should be! The Lord is ruling! The Lord is sees what's going on! The Lord tests me in this time, He knows me! The Lord will take care of the wicked. The Lord does what's right! Always! And He loves to see me do what's right. That's why He tests me, to rid me of wickedness and draw out righteousness. One day I will see Him face to face. My mountain? NO! Flee to my strength, my rights, my plans, my dreams? NO! God forbid! I will flee to my Savior. I'll run to Him, the Righteous-Maker, my Redeemer.


Three days into my flash-flood week

(My Music/Metal-Detecting Man and his sons)

I got up at 4 AM yesterday to *try* working out before going to work. I gave it a try. Unlike cleaning up my diet, changing my workout time to 4 AM had no beneficial effect other than feeling wide awake and ready to go at 5 AM. By 10, I was ready for a nap.

I really didn't think I'd wimp out that easy since I usually get up at 5, but I guess that one hour makes a huge difference.  Maybe if I gave it a good 2 weeks I'd get used to it, but I'm not gonna. 

So today I stopped at the gym after work.  That works better for me.  I just need to get in the habit of going after work.  Working out is not a stress-reliever for me... it's a stress builder.  I know lots of people say they work out as a release, but for me, working out is crimp in my plan- my plan to slow down, read, write, think, walk, breathe and write some more.   I work out for the same reason I brush my teeth and eat my veggies (actually I like to eat my veggies)... it's good for me.  It's definitely not my hobby.

From the moment I get in my car after church on Sunday the commencing week hits me like a flash flood.  Before I know it, it's Thursday and I've got no blog post to show for it. Smile.  I seriously feel like each day that I don't write I don't fully digest that day's benefits and lessons.

I've been thinking on these quotes:

Contempt is conceived with expectations.  Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude.  We can choose which one we will obsess over- expectations, or thanksgivings.  That choice will result in a birth- and the child will be named either contempt, or respect. - Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Making someone else feel smaller so that we can feel larger is antithetical to the Christian faith, a complete rejection of the Christian virtues of humility, sacrifice, and service.  So often Jesus left the crowd to minister to the individual, while we rationalize leaving the individual- particularly our spouse- to curry favor with the crowd... If a man or woman is unrelentingly ambitious, willing to ignore or to sacrifice a spouse as they pursue their own agenda, they will almost undoubtedly be unrelentingly ambitious toward others as well, bringing them on board to serve their purposes, not to engage them in mutual kingdom service. - Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Well my world-weary Music Man is home from a 14 hour mentally-grueling day.  Now would be a good time to leave the crowd to minister to the one.


My life-rythm is about as good as my dancing

(Connor's work on his memory verse)

When I was 16 I wanted to be a ballerina. Somehow though, six foot and awkward don't look very graceful in a tutu. I can't dance. I want to dance. I like to dance. But if you saw me and my kids playing Just Dance4 you could come up with some good blackmail material. Shoot, I can't even tap my foot to a beat for long.

My life feels sort of the same way.  I'm moving to the music the best I can, but my timing and rhythm are all messed up!  I'm always trying to get the beat back on track and I'm pretty sure if I would play just one song at a time, it wouldn't be so bad.  But as it is I'm trying to keep up with my blogging, my journaling, my 1000 gifts journal, my goal to memorize Colossians in a year, my clean eating plan, exercising, Sunday school lessons... and the daily life stuff, not to mention spending time with my kids and husband.  I guess each of those things doesn't necessarily need to be it's own "song".  It can be an instrument in the symphony God is composing out of my life.  I need to focus on the Conductor and not worry about all the instruments and just simply play the part He's conducting me in now.

Mornings begin the rhythm... If I get that wrong, the rest of the day is not so harmonic.  I've been taking in the Word every morning with my black coffee and using the memorizing of Colossians as my daily bread. 

The month of January was dedicated to clean eating, grateful journaling, seeking Eucharistic living, heart-knowing the Word, and more consistent exercise.  By the grace of God, all those endeavors have been blessed with success.  More grace and mercy to keep moving forward please!

I know it was grace-given success because a root of bitterness got dealt with and seeds of gratitude are already bearing fruit: having contempt for contempt I chose to think on the good and so decided to call him my Music Man.  He loves to jam.  He walks around with his guitar.  He's always reminding me, without saying a word, of that seemingly prophetic line in the song we walked down the isle as husband and wife to:

They say that the road
Ain't no place to start a family
Right down the line it's been you and me
And loving a music man
Ain't always what it's supposed to be
Oh Girl
You stand by me
I'm forever yours

I'm reading several books right now:  A Long Obedience In The Same Direction If God is GoodIt Starts With Food, Sacred Marriage, and Robinson Crusoe.  I keep bouncing from one to the next.  There are so many good quotes in them all.  I keep highlighting and underlining and dog-earing... good books. 

Baseball season is coming.  Connor and James do baseball.  I cheer them on and support in anyway I can.  Ryland looks for other player's siblings who want to play a game with him.  Ryland's been doing Crossfit kids.  He loves it.  I'm glad.  It's the only physically active activity  he enjoys.  He also wants to join chess club and today told me he misses piano lessons.  It's gotta be hard for non-jock boy with a jock dad and jock big brother.  Actually, he doesn't seem to think it's hard.  He's perfectly happy the way he is. 

Sometimes I feel we could easily become a family where one child goes with one parent and the other child with the other parent.  I guard against that.  When it's Connor's baseball season we are there for him.  When Ryland has Crossfit or is involved with the chess club, we're there for him. 

Since I spent the last 30 + days doing the Whole30 challenge I am now being encouraged by the Music Man to pursue cooking my clean, nutrient dense meals and bringing them to Crossfit gyms in the area to sell to fatigued post WOD-ers.  He suggests a morning, afternoon, and evening stop.  I guess he likes my cooking.  Smile. 

At first I thought he was just being nice, but he's serious business.  So we'll see where this goes.  I don't even know where to start.  I guess three good, kitchen-tested recipes, say, a breakfast, lunch and dinner, might be a good place to start.  Then maybe just a giveaway after a WOD... hmmm, I feel a brainstorm coming.  I guess I'll take a step of faith and go for it.   This is one of those things where I look up and think maybe the stars are aligned right...  The Proverbs 21:1 star, the 1 Peter 5:6 star, and the 1 Peter 3:1 star. 

I gave my notice at work that I won't be coming back next year.  This was before the suggestion by the Music Man to get a "roach coach" (as he puts it) and start selling Something Real meals.  I made the decision to go back to work at a hospital next year part time and use the tuition reimbursement most hospital's offer to finish my bachelor's degree in nursing.  In 2020 it will be a requirement to even become a R.N.  No more A.A.S. nurses like me.  My priority is building relationships in my family and making a home, and whatever work I do for an income needs to support that, not tear it down.  Working as a school nurse has a very beneficial schedule for a mom of school aged children, but I've decided the trade off of evenings, weekends, holidays and summer break doesn't make up for the daily life available and together.  As it is right now I feel like a part-time, seasonal mom and wife and a full-time school nurse.  That is the wrong order.  The Music Man is supportive of this and as I said, is even now encouraging me towards entrepreneurship.  Who knew?!  I know Who knew.  And He also knows what's next.  All my plans are in His hands.  If the Lord wills, next year I will be working part time, working on my bachelor's degree online, and hopefully helping out in a classroom once a week... my kids' classroom!

If every morning and every evening and all day long I don't come back to the lyrics of truth, when the seasons of my life change, when the many options surround me, when I want my life to be what it's not, when thoughts barrage and lies slip in, I loose the beat and fall apart.  But if I can keep the beat of truth going all day and all night I might just be a dancer in His sight. 


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