Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where I Blog

I love my "Christmas desk" - the one Real Gil made for me. It was the perfect gift for a book worm like me. It's homemade, rustic, and full of sentiment. The very wood started as a tree on my parents' mountain property.

Real Gil was rather smart in building it because he can walk by it every day and comfort himself: yes, I have turquoise walls in my bedroom and a chandelier hanging on a birdcage hook...

...but with that desk, at least she'll never want to move from this house. Which means he doesn't have to move the heaviest treadmill in the whole wide world.

I was so proud the day he completed it.

And he was so proud the day he carried in this printer - big, bulky, and efficient - into our bedroom. (Efficient is key here - it doesn't even print in color because that's a conspiracy by the printer manufacturers to get you to use colored ink cartridges.)

Hmmm....I tried my best not to say anything. After all, he has to put up with all the garage-sale treasures I haul into this house. And we haven't been married for twelve years for nothing. I've learned a few things in my day, primarily that we need a printer, he's not going to let me spray paint it brown, and it's an eyesore.
So, I waited until he went to work, and kids were occupied. I blew the dust off the sewing machine, gave myself an anti-anxiety pep talk, and made super crooked curtains.But I think crooked curtains go with my crooked wall decor - as a former geometry teacher, this wall of frames is bringing out a new obsessive/compulsive behavior in me. Get me the level and a tape measure, please.

But as long as you don't look too closely at the curtains or the walls, this bedroom is perfect. That's mediocre at it's best, but that works for me today!

Resting in Him,

If You Give a Two-Year Old a Special Blankie...

If you give a two-year old a special blankie...he'll drag it all around the campground.

If he drags it all around the campground, it will be disgusting.

If the blankie is disgusting while camping, it will go days-overdue for a wash.

If the blankie is days-overdue for a wash, it will be one of the first things Mama washes when the family gets home from camping.

If Mama washes the blankie when the family gets home from camping, a two-year old will wait anxiously.

And smash his face into its warm familiarity...if you give a two-year old his blankie.

Resting in the Security of the Best Blanket Ever - Jesus!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Revenge for that Goldilocks Debacle

When you...

...go camping...buy really expensive steaks...rub perfectly balanced steak rub on them...husk the corn...saute the snap peas...skillet the potatoes...toss the salad...set the picnic table...add the condiments (steak sauce, ketchup, salt, a cube of butter)...sit down to pray over the steaming plates...grab fork and knife and prepare for that first bite...

...you're just asking for it.

Or so the official campground-man-on-a-golf-cart informed me with little to no sympathy.

"That bear charged our picnic table...while we were sitting at it," I insisted.

"Didn't you see the signs?" he asked.

Yeah, I also saw the picnic table. Guess I thought it was okay to actually eat while camping.

After the bears gorged themselves on everything from steaks to a bottle of ketchup and a salt shaker, we have officially learned our lesson.

From now on, we are eating inside the bear box.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Preschool Dropouts

As we are away "camping" this week, there's only a few links for you this week. The ole computer isn't invited. But for the record, the hairdryer is, thank you very much.

May your weekend be filled with Jesus, plain and simple.
  • When I first traveled to Indiana to meet some of Real Gil's family, his dear little Grandma sat us all down at the kitchen table and asked us to go around the circle and say our favorite Bible memory verse. I knew this was a ploy to figure out if her grandson had brought a good Bible girl home from college. But I resented the coercion...at first, I was really tempted to pick Deuteronomy 25:11-12, but for three reasons, I did not: I loved Real Gil, I am a wimp, and I wasn't sure I had the numbers and words right. (If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.) I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be in the will if I had done it...I'm not sure we're in the will anyways. This link, though, is on the topic of "life verses" wherein Christians ask one another what their favorite passages of Scripture are. It's funny! By the way, my answer to Grandma Wilma was Galatians 2:20, and today, I would answer the same.
  • I am having so much fun with second grade! I've even informed Punkin that school is for Mom, not her. Teaching preschool, however, is a whole other can of worms. I'm pretty sure I'm a preschool dropout, and unless I get the ball rolling, my children will be too. This link had some great reading suggestions for little ones. If you are searching for good books, check this gal's list out.
  • On a more serious note, I'm burdened for others in raw pain. As hard as it is to look, we can only give food and drink to the least by seeing them first. Praying for them, for the saints who comfort them, for us that we will move as He directs us.
Resting in Him,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Automated Voice Lady


We are not available to take your call right now.

If you will leave your name and a brief message,

we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When Namesakes Meet

Bear hugs fly all around. Excitement bubbles and my voice raises an octave. "You haven't changed a bit! Mother of four??!...Well, helllllo, Beautiful Girl. You have changed...And who is this?" I lower my voice to a whisper as this one leans in with dimples.

Kids present themselves timid, hiding behind their mama's legs. Then, in the snap of a finger, they throw off their inhibitions and throw on costumes.

New babies melt our hearts as we introduce newest members of each family. It's loud and chaotic and the fellowship of the saints. I can almost hear the memories and messes being made as I'm cutting and pasting the pictures into this post.

Our little man studies the man who keeps answering to his name, and warms to him quickly.

Even pounces on him like boys can.

And we're already planning how to make it happen again.

Isn't it beautiful when the Body gives little glimpses, teasers, of what will be? I'm relishing the thought of that perfect reunion, with no more good-byes at the end of the weekend.

Resting in Him Who Will End Good-Byes,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Moms Do Best

Better than any other person in the whole world...

...we mother.

That's why God gave us children, and hearts that beat.

Though we don't always do it His way, our entire perspective on life changes in that moment when we become mothers.

There is something else, then, that we can do best. And only we can do it. We can pray from a mother's heart.

I am praying today
  • that I trust fully in God's perfect wisdom to make me my kids' mom; that you might do the same.
  • that we walk in this calling as He equips us with everything good to do this work through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20-21)
  • that we as a group of women can shine His light in our children, our homes, and our communities.
  • one other prayer. Will you consider joining me in praying for Baby Casey? And her parents? I've never met them, but a mother's heart doesn't need to.

Resting in Him Who Hears,

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Art Class at the Berger Academy

Who needs oil paints? Stretched canvas with clean brushes?

We use cable ties on a canvas of growing hair.

Add a tail, bike pads, and some chalk paint.

Art, I say.

Their inspirations are many, but I'm pretty sure it all stemmed from one dear Auntie who lets her artistic flair...fly. She even paid money for this.

In an effort to remain selfless, Punkin decided to spread her artistic gifts further by presenting the gallery of originals titled "Monster Trucks at Bedtime."

Met with full approval, they are already scheming their artistic pursuits for tomorrow. Eat your heart out, Charlotte Mason.

Now, please excuse me while I go sew prairie bonnets.

Resting Amidst the Chaos and Cahoots,

P.S. I hope you are laughing with us. (And I hope my homeschool humor doesn't offend.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kid Chores

Every year, right about this time, I start brainstorming what to do about chores in our home.

Before I had children, this was a no-brainer.

After one child, this became an area that required consistency and a few packs of gold stickers.

After two children, I found it was just easier to do the chores myself.

And now, with three children, it is definitely easier to do the chores myself, but that's not really the point of assigning them. For the kids, they are proud of their work, take better care of things, and enjoy learning how to manage their "commission" (Dave Ramsey lingo).

It hasn't been easy to stick with these, however. The problem couldn't possibly be with Management...so I make yet another chore chart, another cute chore craft with pictures and popsicle sticks (found and copied from here).

As a completely indulgent aside, I think it took me a few years to figure out that children four years and younger really don't understand chore charts. This should have been apparent to a high school math teacher who has tried to teach bar graphs to high school students. The embarrassing part is how long my toddlers had me fooled, slapping gold stickers on a chore chart with reckless randomness. So, we don't do the official chore charts in our house yet. If we did, I would be making my own Mom Chore Chart one day and watching gleefully as the chart extended down the wall and down the hall. Well, maybe not that far, but it'd still be deeply satisfying.

Anyways, here's how chores work in our house:
  • Age-appropriate chores are for everyone. The two-year old puts his blankie and stuffed animals back on his bed, cleans his messes (yeah, right.), helps take the trash out, and sometimes, when we use non-breakable dishes, he sets the table. Our four-year old makes her bed, dresses, cleans up her messes (yeah, right.), sorts the laundry into colors, and transfers the laundry from the washer to the dryer. The six-year old does these, helps Dad wash the cars, and loves to dust with socks on her hands.
  • We pay our children for their "official" chores. I know this is different for each family. My own parents did not pay me for chores, simply adopting the philosophy that "Family works together." I totally get that...but what better way to teach my kids about money than to give them some, even if it's just a dime or a quarter? I know that it would be super hard for me to go to work without getting a paycheck (Oh wait, I already do that. Huh.) And I figure God's economy is full of rewards, even Heaven itself. So, we pay our kids.
  • We do not pay our children for basic assumed responsibilities - cleaning up after yourself, personal hygiene, picking up your shoes, taking two items with you as you unload the car (these are your "tickets" out of the car, into the house). Because let's face it, we all have to do some things whether we are given an incentive or not. Can you say annual OB appointment? No incentive. Not even a sugar-free candy on the way out the door. All you OB/GYNs, can I make a personal request that you add a little treasure box full of Oriental Trading Company gadgets in the corner of your waiting area? After I survive, I really want to go in the corner and pick a glow-in-the-dark kaleidoscope. Or even just a princess sticker or two. It would make it all better.
  • How do we get them to do their chores? This is an easy one - they're not teenagers yet. So, they just do it. A time or two, I have threatened to do their chores for them and they will pay me from their piggy banks, and that was enough motivation. I'll have to get back to you when I actually have teenagers. Kevin Lehman's idea is a good one though -you can give your adolescents until a specific time, say on Saturday, to get their chores done. If they do not get them done by that cutoff, just hire the neighbor kids.
  • Our chore system: we have three magnetic boards attached to a wall at the kids' eye level. I bought sticky-sided magnets at Staples and affixed clipart pictures to the magnets. Each morning, the magnetic board shows what chores need to be done, with no words, just pictures. I'd share the clipart, but I'm pretty sure I broke some hidden copyright rule somewhere. You can go to Google Images and just type in the chores, one by one, and get lots of cartoon art for it. When the kids finish their chore, they slide it into a plastic pocket until I use it again the next day. I check off the day when they have finished all of their chores. I never forget to do this. Ever.

  • If your kids are away from the home for school each day, I might encourage you to take a much lighter approach to chores. As for us, homeschooling means that they have more time and more messes throughout their day. So, they get to help more.
  • If you are looking for ideas for age-appropriate chores, you can check this list out for a few.
  • Jolanthe is the queen of organization and her chore charts are the real reason I didn't share my own. :) Here are the preschool ones, and the older children versions. In fact, I probably should have just given you the title, Kid Chores, a link to her blog, and a smiley face for good measure.
Well, anyways, it's written so I'm posting it. I'd love your own tips on keeping chores organized, Management motivated, and children self-directed.

Resting in Him who Makes the Work of Our Hands Beautiful,

To Brandi on Bedrest, Week 2

Praying for you and Baby Boy has been such a privilege. Thank you for the opportunity...At 28 weeks, I figure you only have 10 more weeks of me writing you personal blog posts. :) Enjoy the hospital food, and a few articles I found for you.

Much Love,
  • We are Narnia fans around here. And this link has a free audio version of the series. It might be perfect for a long car ride, or bedtime at your house.
  • A great article about aging - a theology of jiggly thighs.
  • Having only recently discovered this blog, I thought you might like to read one of his articles, Did Jesus Teach Legalism?
  • I am definitely against the Christian patriarchy movement, in most of its elements. I won't go into it, but if you want to check out this blog from a man who has left the movement, you will see his discernment and new-found freedom in Christ.
  • Oh my goodness, I need to get me some rusty wagons!
  • Check out this gifted gal's home - much to Real Gil's dismay, I'm stealing lots of ideas.
  • And Brandi, if you are still looking at what to read, here's what one girl did to her stairs and about 100 other ladies' creative ideas for their houses. That should keep you occupied for a little while!
  • A lot of homeschool parents use the "isolation" method to protect their kids from "the world." (This, I believe, is oft times why homeschooled kids appear to be socially immature.) This is not our approach at all. If anything, I want the Berger Academy to be a place where we explore and serve and love on those in our community, our neighborhood, and our world. One woman's look at Proverbs 31 shows that the virtuous woman (if she was a real woman at all) and her husband were involved in their community.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mistaken Identity

I used to be a math teacher.

Before I lost all of my brain cells during childbirth.

Or maybe I lost them afterwards...or maybe I lost them staring at this computer screen.

But I used to be a high school math teacher.

The number one thing students used to ask me, other than "Can I have a hall pass? a pencil? your wallet?" was, "Are you going to tell us a story about your dad today?!!"

My dad. Complex in thoughts, but simple in living. Easily bored, probably needs some Ritalin, a man's man, a great dad. By trade, he is a mechanical engineer without the official degree. An inventor to the layperson.

One time, we were watching the Discovery Channel - he does that - and there was footage from inside the newest NASA shuttle. He points to a little doodad in the far corner of the screen.

"See that?" he asks nonchalantly. "I made that."

Of course you did, Dad.

He made my math class so much fun. There wasn't a math lesson that didn't have a dad-in-real-life application. One time, he and my mom stopped by my classroom and I have never seen high school boys so quiet in all my life. Suddenly, they were sitting up straighter, chests out, and one even asked if he needed an extra welder in his shop. Dirty is cool if you work for him, or so said every boy in high school. I think there might have been other things said, which prevented me from getting many serious dates in high school, something along the lines of, "Whatever you do to my daughter...I'll do to you."

One time, a boy came to pick up my twin sister and Dad marched out into the living room wearing a really short bathrobe and cowboy boots. If that wasn't enough, he sat down with his rifle across his lap. We all laughed and so did he. But he also had this amazing gift of discernment, knew the boy was up to no good...and did not budge from that chair.

I could go on and on about my dad. He's that great.

But this post is much more surface-y than that.

This post is really written with one purpose - to tell you all that if you are looking for a Brett Favre look-alike, my dad is one.

Apparently, while my dad was shopping with my mom in Chicago this week, a very excited man on a cell phone was exclaiming, "It's him! He's right here in the store! Brett Favre!" and pointing at my dad.

Even sweeter than that was my mom's response: "And Karen, he really does look like that guy."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Writer's Block

I've got it.

I've stared at this screen for too long. All of my ideas seem petty or boring or preachy. So, I'm taking an impromptu hiatus until I can think of something that is worthy of the precious time it takes you to read it.

Please forgive me...indulge me...enjoy your new-found freedom.

And if you have any ideas on what to blog about, I'm always open for suggestions!


P.S. If you want an opportunity to tease me in public, or practice church discipline blog-style, I welcome guest posts anytime.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Good Samaritan and Martha

Why is it that Jesus, immediately after extolling the Good Samaritan for his many deeds on behalf of the injured man, walks to Mary and Martha's house and through the course of the day, gently chides Martha for her many deeds?

Can't you relate to Martha? I can just imagine the scene:

Olive oil, spices, endless kneading of the bread. All to welcome the Rabbi Jesus.

A breathless messenger comes with the news: "He's coming, He'll be here soon." An admiring shake of his head. "Ladies, I wish you could have heard what He said to that smarty pants lawyer. Jesus told him a story about a guy getting beat up and a good Samaritan - what an oxymoron! - doing all these kind things to help the guy."

Martha might have heard that and thought to herself, "Well, I hope He notices all the good things I'm doing...Is that meat ever going to get tender?...Salt, we need more salt...Mary?!! Where is that deadbeat sister of mine!??"

And yet, when Jesus arrived and started to teach, Martha found herself getting madder and madder. Here she was working in the kitchen while her sister just sat there listening! When she finally got Jesus' attention, a distracted Martha vented. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." (Luke 10:40) (Talk about a controlling-woman moment. How she must have trembled after His resurrection to think she had bossed the God of the Universe around her kitchen!)

I wonder if she was thinking about that Good Samaritan. She was doing so well, working so hard to serve Jesus. "Love your neighbor as yourself" might have been repeating itself in her mind. And Mary was like the Priest or the Levite, just completely ignoring all the tasks that begged to be done!

Can you imagine the defeated breath she took when Jesus gently answered, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

Were there embarrassed tears? A half-cooked meal because Martha plunked herself down next to Mary in defeat? We do not know how it all unfolded.

But it's definitely got me to thinking...If I had heard the parable of the Good Samaritan helping an injured man, like Martha, I would have been encouraged to work harder, especially if I had the chance to serve the mysterious Man who told the story. And if He needed a little help noticing what a Good Samaritan I was, in contrast to my lazy-bum sister, I just might be willing to point it out. Playing the martyr just might suit for the moment.

Somehow, though, Jesus saw through it all. Of course He did. That was, and is, His specialty.

The difference between the Good Samaritan's deeds and Martha's deeds is the heart. One shows love to a neighbor out of the overflow of his wholehearted love for God (Luke 10:27) - a love that flows from His life through his towards an enemy - while the latter shows service to a neighbor with a distracted heart. Or no heart at all. Or perhaps a heart that wanted to be recognized for her good deeds. Wouldn't it have made her day if Jesus had said, "Like Martha here! She's a great example of the Good Samaritan, working so hard with little appreciation, while her sister sits here listening to me teach. Beautiful work, Martha!"?

This wasn't the only meal that Martha prepared for Jesus (John 12). She was not rebuked during that meal, so why was she given this gentle correction here? Because she was operating in her own strength.

Working hard is a wonderful, beautiful thing...when it is infused with His life "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) And apart from Him, we can do nothing of true value. (John 15:5)

I'm so thankful I serve a King who took the time to talk to His cook!

Resting in Him,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teacher Karen

I was actually called that today. It was sorta sweet, sorta weird. Other weird things that happened to me include wearing an official name badge and getting a mysteriously slimy high-five from a student. Also, while putting sunscreen on my three children, about twenty other children lined up behind my kids and asked for sunscreen. I'm pretty sure a few of them already had sunscreen on, but I went along with it and applied myself.

Okay, now that I've aired that, I will readily admit that with VBS in full swing around here, I'm trying to stay one step ahead of the kids...

Which means I'm not going to have long-winded posts this week. Aren't you happy? Okay, I get it. You're happy....do you have to be that happy? Even Brandi on bedrest is doing a happy dance. Sheesh.

So, because I'm exhausted, all I have are these two goofy links, both of which should be required reading if you are involved in kids' church ministry. Don't take them too seriously. Or me for that matter right now.

And with no hints at what you're going to read, check these out. It's like a faith walk, you just have to trust that I'm not sending you to some Paypal link where you give me all your money.

Link #1.

Link #2.

Okay, 'nuf said.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Playing the Odds...

(Comic Relief compliments of www.sacredsandwich.com)

I'm gearing up for this.

The squirming of children, mostly trying to please me with their mechanical answers, "Je-sus...Wait, no. God!...Moses?" There's always the smart-aleck that adds, "Nebuchadnezzar."

It's going to be a week of heat, boogers, and lots of fun as we kick off Vacation Bible School at our church. My official title is something along the lines of this teacher in the picture, right down to the corset and coiffed hair. Kids just see me and they mumble "Je-sus" not because I am so downright holy, but because I grill them with questions and they definitely play the odds.

But so do I. I'm playing the odds when I wear a skirt and hope there's no reason that will be a huge mistake, like if some wicked child pulls the chair out from under me or I slip on watermelon rind and flash the world around me. I'm also playing the odds anytime I talk to sixth-graders. Especially the ones who ask what circumcised is just to have a chance to say the word out loud in front of their peers.

But there's more than odds at work here. I'm trusting in a loving Father that wants to pour into these little ones' lives, even if they do answer "Je-sus" to everything. After all, Jesus is the answer to everything! Looking forward to the refreshment and refocus they bring to me...and the chance to watch His perfect odds win out.

Resting in the Chaos,

P.S. Posting this week might be sporadic because of this. I appreciate your patience, I will write again when I get all the Cheez-Whiz out of my hair...

Friday, August 6, 2010

To Brandi on Bedrest

For my dear friend and sister in Christ, Brandi, on bedrest in the hospital (you know who you are), keep that baby boy cooking! Rejoicing that he is staying put...as you are staying put. Here's some reading links for you, and all of my readers.

  • I'm not sure if I have a favorite book of the Bible, but Galatians has to be in the top three. Here's a wonderful, humorous article titled "If Paul's Epistle to the Galatians was Published in Christianity Today.
  • Katie always inspires. How can she not, a young woman who is now a parent of fourteen?
  • The oldest farm in America is closing its doors, selling its equipment. Here's their announcement on their own website. (Thanks, Ann.)
  • Being freed from legalism is always controversial, difficult, and always worth it. Here's one woman's story about leaving a lifestyle steeped in rules and regulations, for a lifestyle that is centered on Christ alone. Can there be a better title than "How I ditched the denim jumper for blue jeans"!!?
  • I don't have the time to put one of these together, but I just might be hinting to all you locals (except Bedrest Brandi) to do so and invite me. Put me down for pretzel sticks and paper napkins, promise.
  • Click on this one if you love history and want to see it in color. Some of the rare color photography from the early 1900's.
  • I love Ann, don't you? One of the few blogs I read every day. And one of the few blogs that leave me more in love with Jesus than I was before I read it.
Resting in Him Who Weaves Babies and Mamas,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Mama Breaks Out the Crayons

I'm not sure if Dave Ramsey would approve of this or not. Some psychologist might say it is harmful to our childrens' well-being. But so is sugar and white flour. You pick your battles.

Here's what happened:

We have been discussing housing with our children...how we can either rent a home or own a home. We're somewhere in between those two. Every month, we explained, we make a house payment so that we slowly pay off our house, until one day, we will own it, free and clear.

Only a few days later, Real Gil loaded the whole family up and we went to the bank to make a substantial payment on the house, one he had been working on for a while now. It was exciting!
Later, Sugs mentioned how great it was that we owned the house now. Hmm...how do I explain this to a four-year old? I thought...

So, inside my wardrobe, I posted this amateur drawing:

Although you can't see the grid lines, it is broken up into house payment increments and as we make payments on the house, we color in more areas. You can see we have a long way to go, but one day, this picture is going to be full of color!

This has been very helpful to the kids, and even for me. We've noticed how readily they accept the answer "No" in response to their requests to purchase things, usually, in the checkout line when they are begging for Skittles. Being a good steward of God's money means that someday, we might own our house and have more to GIVE each month. There's something about showing, by example, that delaying gratification, planning, and carefully saving can be rewarding to us and to others in the long-run.

It's been exciting, and has definitely kept me focused on our goal to be mortgage-free some day.

There are so many different opinions on finances and children. Do you do an allowance? Commission? Chores for no pay or pay? And how do you balance good stewardship while also curtailing materialism? All challenging issues for this household!

But for now, I'm happy to color in these lines when we can.

Resting in Him who Provides,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Song

I lay with one eye peeking. His eyes are closed, his little body curled up next to mine. Little puffs of sleepy breath hit my neck and I wonder:

How is it that this sweet, sleeping mass was only five minutes ago screaming, crying, kicking? I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't watched the whole thing unfold in front of me. And similarly, in myself, how can I go from feeling nothing but anger to nothing but affection in those five minutes?

It was not one of my best moments - raising my voice at a two-year old and plopping him none-so-gently back on his bed. I stormed out and stopped, staring blankly at the piano with hands on my hips...deep breath...I really need to dust this piano, I thought to myself...I prayed he would choose not to come back out of his room for the fifteenth, no twentieth time...but he did...I repeated the entire sequence a few more times, my voice getting louder each time.

Finally, he stayed in his bed. Not because he wanted to, but because he knew it was no use. Or perhaps because he had gotten enough reaction out of me to satisfy. Either way, he stayed put. But I knew it was not over.

Eyes closed, I heard the small, strong voice and left the computer screen for the now-quiet battlefield.

When I turned the corner into his room, I found him buried under stuffed animals, his breath still hiccups. His arms reached for me and I reached for him, pulled him close.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, hating the number of times I will have to say this over the next decade. Or five. "Sorry I yelled."

He kept his fingers busy with Snoopy's ears, flopping the old fur back and forth. "It's okay," he said. But I knew it wasn't. I pressed him. "Will you forgive me?" He smiled a smile framed in red licorice residue. "I 'give you, Mama." I took it at face value - forgiveness, and smiled back.

So, I laid my head back, accepted his forgiveness, and Someone else's too. Then, I curled on the airplane comforter next to my favorite toddler and sang a song, his favorite. Something I had sung a million times, words that are silly - "Punkin' Noodle" - and true - "Mama loves you, Papa loves you, but most of all, Jesus loves you."

I savored that last line for him, knowing it is only Christ's love that can do what Mama - or any earthly parent, for that matter - cannot. And I prayed that last line too, my hand on his shoulder, praying for a man's heart that might beat for Jesus.

Slowly, I rose up on my elbows and peeked at his sleeping face. I need to wash this too, I resolved. Then, marveling at his sweet sleep, I thanked God for yet another song. His to me, and mine to another, all a chorus of forgiveness and restoration today.

Resting in Him and the Songs He Gives,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sing Over Me

To place it in time is difficult. Those years were a blur of socializing and studying. It was somewhere after tight-rolling and feathered bangs, but somewhere before internet and Y2K fears started cropping up.

The D.C. looks the same today as it did then - a dark cavernous room with a tiled, tiered floor; fold-up tables which no one actually sits at to eat, cafeteria smells pervading every nook and cranny, homemade poster paints taped precariously to the walls announcing school events, the tenacious coke machine that continues to fight every healthy-eating guru in the state.

The top tier was where I usually stood, or leaned, depending on how nonchalant I was trying to be. My girlfriends and I had the secret, unwritten rule of meeting there, cramming for afternoon-period tests, catching up on gossip, going en mass to the square-paper-issuing bathroom stalls to make sure our names weren't graffiti'd anywhere.

And like a deleted scene out of Glee-gone-bad, I remember the flock of boys, all of them my friends, when they marched with determination to our perch. Standing directly in front of me, they dropped to their knees like football players in a locker room.

You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your li-i-ips...and there's no tenderness like before in your fingerti-i-ips...

Panic is an understatement, even for an extrovert like me. The boys, obviously extroverts themselves and gathering steam in a crowd, watched me squirm with delight, their laughing eyes intent on my red face as they dramatically flopped hands over their hearts, their voices off-pitch as the tune went up the scale.

But Ba-by! Ba-by, I know it! You've lost that lovin' feelin'. Whoa, that lovin' feelin'...

When the lyrics ran out, the boys were smart, leaving no awkward dead silence at the end as they quickly rose to their feet, giving high-fives to one another and relishing the now-silent cafeteria audience. One of them scooped me up in a big bear hug that made me laugh nervously, then in relief that it was over.

To this day, I still find myself pondering that moment... was I the nerd who didn't know it? Or the kid-sister who could always take a joke? Either way, I have to smile. It was funny and spontaneous and - I may be disillusioned, but I'm hoping - innocent. It was also awkward and loud and off-tune.

Why was I chosen? And was Chosen a good thing?

Interestingly enough, this will not be the only time I will be sung to. Only the next time it happens it will not be awkward or off-pitch. And there will be no wondering...why was I chosen? And is Chosen a good thing?

"The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

Resting in Him Who Gives Songs and Life,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rogue Lamp

I'm pretty sure it's ugly. Everyone who has seen it tries not to laugh. That's okay.

Because I know a good thing when I see it.

That's why I tight-rolled my pleated pants. And wore mismatched tube socks in middle school. Wish I knew how to scan old pictures so I could show you the proof. Or maybe I'm glad I can't.

Check out this lamp pioneer:

Purchased for a fraction of the cost of...prettier lamps.

That didn't help me much when I carried it into the house. Real Gil couldn't believe I spent any money on it. Poor man, he's stuck with odd lamps.

The great thing about Real Gil, though, is he is thrifty. So, if you spend any money on anything, it stays. Because that's what a good steward does.

So, the lamp sits. Right next to the ugly remote control.

And like tight-rolled pants, it's making a statement. I'm just not sure everyone else is hearing what I'm hearing.