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Archive for March 2009

tiny messages . All Over Us

harmony_postmark As you may have read, I’ve opted for a theme word for 2009 rather than a set of resolutions. In my pursuit of harmony, the word that chose me, I’ve been prompted by some conversations this week to consider this question: How do you achieve harmony between folks who don’t agree? Different people with differing view points–not just life circumstances, but life choices and priorities and beliefs. Is it really possible to agree to disagree? Can friendship occur in that situation? Can harmony? Building relationships with like-minded pals is pretty easy. But, building and nurturing relationships with the unlike-minded is advanced harmony. It’s harmony coursework at the 5000 level. You have to want it, because harmonizing at that level takes some work.

As is often the case, Little Drummer Boy inadvertently taught me something. He reminded me that true harmony with my fellow man, woman and child has a ground rule. And, the lesson came in another episode of the “doo doo chronicles.”

Last week I was sitting at the dressing table in my bedroom trying to minimize the look of not enough sleep so as not to frighten any Saturday morning fellow grocery shoppers. Hub had been supervising while Squiggle and Little Drummer Boy watched a movie and Baby Girl watched Squiggle and Little Drummer Boy. It had given me the opportunity to grab a quick shower before morning errands, and I’d vacated the bathroom just in time for LDB’s second cup of juice to convince him it was “tee-tee” time.

His jaunt in the bathroom was suspiciously long, and I vaguely remember that no flushing sound preceded him bounding out of the door on the way to not missing any more of his movie. As I glanced down the hall between eye liner and blush, I caught him in a hurried shuffle with the back side of his Thomas the Train underwear in plain view and his blue jeans down around his ankles. How I love the innocence of a just-shy-of-four-year old’s utter disregard of pants down around the ankles, but… Cue concern: There are still a few finer points of potty ettiquette we haven’t covered yet–at least we haven’t covered them convincingly enough. And, no time like the present.

Mommy: “Sweetie, we don’t need to come out of the bathroom with our pants down.”
LDB: “Why?” [I love that boy]
Mommy: “Because it’s not modest.”
LDB: Quizzical look.
Mommy: “That means we need to cover ourselves.”
LDB: “Yeah, so we don’t show anyone our knees.” [If only. I’ll remember that one for Baby Girl.]
Mommy: “Well, it’s ok for people to see our knees, but we don’t want to show anyone our bottom-boo.”
LDB: “Yes. Because if we doo-doo on them, it will get all over us.”

Righhhht. My insistence that Little Drummer Boy pull his pants up before going one step further was punctuated by giggles and reflection. Harmony in relationships does indeed have a baseline, a ground rule, reiterated in a hundred different refrains of the same tune.

What goes around comes around. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “Whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.” (galatians 6:7)

So often that verse is used as a weapon, an accusation against the “opposition.” But, “if we doo-doo on them, it will get all over us.” It’s the basic principle of life God created and set in motion: you get what you give. When I give peace, when I give love, when I give hope, I can much more easily recognize it in others around me. I can’t make someone’s choices for him, but I can choose to extend love and peace and joy and hope. Harmony isn’t about agreeing. Harmony is about finding the common ground and the largeness of spirit to give what I want to receive. So, I’m thinking our doo-doo is best put in the potty, lest it get all over us.

The tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)

poetry . Married to Amazement

I was reading again on the blog you didn’t know I was reading.  The one that inspired me here and here.  The one I’ve written a post about — complimenting it, explaining my enjoyment of it, paying attention to its point of view.  Ok. I’ve written it in my HEAD and hope to soon commit it to keyboard and hit “publish.”

Yesterday she posted a remarkable poetic tribute to the nephew she lost to cancer four years ago. And, I found myself in that place.  That horrible place of dual gratitude: Thank You for my life and let me live it completely.  And… thank You that it was them and not me saying goodbye.

It’s hard to resolve in my spirit, but her subsequent pledge to “live my life and my parenthood with my eyes and heart as wide open as possible” so echos my own desire to soak up every second of this day with those that have made my life so rich, that I wanted to reprint the poem here.  “So teach us to number our days, so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (psalm 90:12)

“When Death Comes”
by Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


Sugar Has No Daily Value?


A week or so ago, I read an article at MomSpark about Lucky Charms — the cereal, not the amulets.  Amy was discussing their nutritional value and all after having received a free box to try from General Mills.  Happily, I did not need to petition General Mills for my own box. I simply had to grab the almost empty one from my cabinet.  I’ve chosen to ignore the (I’m sure) exorbitant amount of sugar present and go with the good-for-you whole grain and host of other vitamins that are showcased on the side of the box corresponding to great percentages of DVs. Yep, the Charms have long been a favorite in my house.  And, frankly, I like sugar.

After reading, I decided to take a closer look at my box and enjoy a nice pat on the back at my nutritional accumen while scarfing some pink diamonds and green clover.  As I scanned the handy nutritional panel, one phrase stopped me in my tracks.  There it was in the bright blue “Nutritional Highlights” box, like some kind of universal cosmic disclaimer.

luckycharms Did you catch it there?  Like me, I’m sure you tried to deny it’s existence or at the very least ignore it.  But, still it’s right there in the last line:

“Sugar does not have a daily value.”

GenMills and the USDA clearly don’t reside in the deep South.  Granted, in my corner of the kitchen table, sugar may have a slightly different meaning than the chrystaline white stuff we generally load up our iced tea with.  For the unindoctrinated, “sugar” is synonymous with “kisses” down here.  Circle that one in your Southern for Dummies Handbook.  “Sugar” is something you get off your children–usually accompanied by an “I’m gonna get me some,” as if there were a finite amount laying right there on their plump cheeks for the taking.  “Sugar” is also something it’s polite to request–as in, “Gimme some sugar,” or sometimes while referring to yourself in third person like “Give Mama some sugar,” as if there were an endless supply of the good stuff just waiting to be doled out.

For boys, I’ve noticed, sugar giving is one of those situations where spitting is optional.  Now, in defiance of my Southern roots, if it’s up to me, spitting is hardly ever an option.  So, to include it as some sort of souped up, tricked out sugar accessory is a pretty big step for me.  That said, given the option, my little guys tend to vote with the slobbery sugar side of the issue. I don’t know if that’s a Southern version of high fructose corn syrup, or what.

Yep, I’m guilty as charged.  I tend to try to “get me” and “gimme” some sugar off Little Drummer Boy, Squiggle and Baby Girl as much as Mommyly possible.  I suppose that’s what prompted LDB to invent the “Hug Store” and the “Kiss Store” to allow himself some legitimate control over the distribution of sugar, thereby getting Mommy off his back, or cheek as the case may be.  So, I am now subject to random sugar rations as the mood and trips to the Kiss Store strike.  Woe is Mommy.

It was during one such rationing that I got into a discussion with LDB about wisdom, which of course, should naturally be a part of any honest dialogue on the giving and getting of sugar.  Since the early Fall, Little Drummer Boy has been involved in his first little extra-curricular activity (yes, his preschool life does have a curriculum, be it ever so fluid).  He’s been a part of the AWANA program at the church where he goes to daycare.  If you don’t know much about the program, check it out here.  I highly recommend it as a fun way for children as young as 2 or 3 to begin learning Bible verses.  LDB has really enjoyed it, and we’ve been amazed at how quickly he can learn the verses and retain them.  Look into this and take advantage of the sponge years to fill your baby’s mind with some truth!  That was for free.  Now, back to sugar.  And wisdom.

So, I breezed by the breakfast table as LDB and Hub were finishing work on one of his AWANA verses.  I can’t quite remember the status of the plates, but I’m sure there was probably some remnant of poptart and a pile of Lucky Charms–heavy on the charms, not so much lucky.  Little Drummer Boy recited the verse for me:

“Jesus grew in wisdom” [Hark! 252 fans]

Mommy: “Good job! Mommy wants you to grow in wisdom, too.”
LDB: Quizzical look.
Mommy: “Wisdom is learning to do good things, the best things.” (Ok, maybe not the most astute explanation in the world, but give me a break.  I was thinking on my feet while hopped up on purple horseshoes.)
LDB: “Yes, good things.”
Mommy: “Good things are like using our kind words, sharing, taking care of Squiggle…”
LDB: “Well… (pause here for effect) I think a good thing is… (additional pause for effect)

Well, I’ll be.  It seems he has grown in wisdom just like Mommy wanted–at least where kisses are concerned.
Sugar has no daily value?  Harumph. I beg to differ, people.

Doo Doo Chronicles: Breaking Up is Hard to Do


Dear John,

I don’t mean to dump this on you suddenly, but really, it can’t come as a surprise.  It’s something that’s been building deep inside for a while.  Our relationship just doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere.  Our time together has slowed to nothing more than a trickle every day–and just when I was starting to get into the big stuff.  I know we told everyone we would be spending more regular time together, but things just keep getting messier and messier.  It’s just that every time I’m ready to deal with something really big, you’re nowhere to be found.  You know what they say: “fools flush in.”  I think maybe I just sat on this thing a little too quickly.

I know it’s partly my fault.  A relationship like this takes commitment, but right now I’m at the point in my life where I’m more interested in playing (in) the field–and the patio, and the living room, and the toy box.  I don’t know.  Our time together has been good, clean fun, but I really miss my pull-ups.  You know, they’ve really been there for me–long before you came along, especially when I had a big load to deal with.

I know what you’re thinking.  Everyone in my life thought we really had something going, and I did too.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not flushing the whole thing.  I’d still like to hang with you.  I just really need to be around my pull-ups when I get the urge to let go.  Maybe you can just go with the flow for a while.  One of these days I’ll grow up and turn four.  Then, maybe I’ll be ready to commit to the long-term relationship everyone was hoping for.  Until then, thanks for understanding.  I hope we can still be friends.  Maybe we can go bowl-ing sometime real soon.

Little Drummer Boy

Still Dad, and Still God

One month ago today, my dad had his stroke.  Although he doesn’t have some of the same skills he did (yet), Dad is still the same dad he was one month ago plus a day.  And, God is still the same God he was on February 7.

My dad and my family are in a season of change–again.  He’s been in the hospital for the last month undergoing physical and occupational therapy to regain movement in his left leg and arm which were primarily affected.  We and the doctors are very hopeful that in time he will be able to do many of the things he’s always done.  Each day he is making improvements and becoming more like “himself”, shifting again the reality of what his daily life is like.  Regardless of how close he gets to his full potential with additional therapy and sheer will of character, life has inevitably changed.  Dad’s can dos have changed.  His schedule has changed.  His independence has changed.  Both Dad and Mom’s jobs have changed.  How they spend their time has changed.  Where they can go has changed.  The scale of their lives has changed, time and energy focused on more basic tasks.  The appearance of their home has changed.  Their ability to visit in my home has changed.  The ease of holding my children has changed.  Their presence in our lives has changed.

Throughout this month, two thoughts have persisted in rising above the din of confusion and adjustment, of sickness and care-giving, of schedules and sleeplessness.  Despite the changes, a family is a family regardless of time, abilities, presence and the space between.  And, we will remain a family.  We will adjust, and life and love will continue.

And this:
“I, the Lord, do not change; therefore, you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (malachi 3:6)

Right now, Dad can’t move as he once did.  But, God is still moving in strong support of His own. Therefore, we are not consumed by helplessness.

Though we are beginning to see movement in his shoulder, Dad’s arm has been greatly weakened.  But, the same outstretched arm of God that made the heavens and the earth is still reaching.  Therefore, we are not consumed by impossibilities.

In the days after the stroke, Dad had a slight slurred speech that has thankfully subsided.  But, the words of God were and are crisp and sharp.  They stand forever.  Therefore, we are not consumed by the silent unknown.

Next week, Dad will come home sitting in a wheelchair, at least for a time.  But, God is still sitting on the same throne of righteousness He inhabited 29 days ago.  Therefore, we are not consumed by paralyzing fear.

It will be some time before Dad may be able to enjoy the same activities he once did.  But, the uncommon joy of God is our strength.  Therefore, we are not consumed by sorrow.

Dad may not be able to work again.  But, God has not stopped working in us for His good pleasure.  Therefore, we are not consumed by inactivity.

Dad is slowly relearning to put one foot in front of the other.  But, the rock of our God still enables sure footing.  Therefore, we are not consumed by dark stumbling.

The comfortable assumption of a parent I’ve relied upon to be strong has been weakened.  But, the God of comfort is still the abundant Father of mercies.  Therefore, we are not consumed by anxious unrest.

God has not changed. He remains. Our healer. Our protector. Our light. His love and His reach will continue as it always has.  In this, alone, are we steadied from the consuming tide of change.

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