Category Archives: Livin the Daily

Same as it ever was…

The other morning my friend (and neighbor)’s son came to my house to catch the bus.

I put on my slippers, grabbed the 5-point-harness booster, and walked my daughter up a few houses to catch her carpool to pre-K.

I thought about James, you know, the brother of Jesus. Did he shuttle kids to houses for pickup? He had a fairly important Big Brother – how did he deal with that dynamic? Did he ever want to tackle him, as my littles seem to enjoy between the hours of 7 and 8 am? What was school like? James, you’re the first biblical writer who made sense to me; does any of my American suburban life make sense to you?

Years ago, once in a lifetime, I thought I would be single. In Ireland. Schooling my friends’ kids. And yet, I’m shuffling in my slippers in suburban Oregon, shuttling littles up and down the neighborhood sidewalk, pondering what’s for dinner, contemplating the depths of the New Testament and flexible spending accounts.

It’s a new season, and yet a continuing season. Same as it ever was….

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Quaker Roads Take Me Home

Today I wandered the isles of Grocery Outlet, our local selling-almost-past-selling-date store that sports random organic/not-organic/hodgepodge food stuffs, seasonal GO-branded bobble heads, blaring catchy commercial jingles on overhead speakers, and sporting  plenty of space (and gracious workers) for my littles (not so little since last I wrote) to roam. The speakers warbled a familiar tune, one from my youth: “Country roads, take me home, to the place that I belong …” Yes, my parents listened to John Denver. Yes, I saw John Denver in concert at a very, very young age. Yes, today I whistled along to the tune just as my father would have. Some habits are hard (or near impossible) to “un-learn”: they’re so engrained that they seemingly become part of one’s personhood.

This site has been fairly dormant for a while now. I’ve been busy birthing and tending to Littles: three darling persons who are a combination of DNA from me and my husband, and yet more than that. My littlest – a girl – can make a face (happy or cranky) so mirroring my mother that I have to do a double-check as to whether I’m responding as a mother or a daughter. And people I encounter in public give offerings – “Oh, he looks more and more like you with each passing day!” followed a few moments later with someone exclaiming, “THAT’S your kid?!! How is he related to you?!!” Generally comments center around the theme of energy (they have a lot), spunk (they have a lot), opinions (likewise), and rest (yeah: not so present).

Today while wandering the store isles, not knowing where my children were but sensing I could find them near the Easter decorations or discounted toys, I realized I’m formed by elements I would never have expected or desired. John Denver songs: really? And the following Beatles songs I know not from my folks but from watching Help with my high school friends. And yet: those melodies are home to me. Local stores (not truly “local” in a sustainable sense, but rather on my morning driving route) and their employees are community. And my Quaker upbringing?! …

Selfishly, lazily, I ache to know certainty – something that is solid. I thought that was my “religious” upbringing. But it’s not. This past weekend I bought my first Bible. Yes, I have a lot of versions of the Bible, but I’ve never bought my own. My work requires a certain translation that I can find on an obscure website; but I “randomly” came across a pretty, slim, cheap copy at a beach outlet mall bookstore. What should I read first in this sacred book? I thought about the first time that scripture came alive to me – reading the book of James at a junior high camp. Yeah: that should’ve sent off some warning bells about the kind of life I might be sent down (trials – tribulations – endurance: not my strong points), and yet: sigh. I whistled along as I read the oh-so-familiar words that seemed new in an odd sort of way.

Previously this website centered around my Quaker upbringing. But as of late I listen to Bethel Church podcasts and whistle along to the songs on the Jesus Culture Pandora channel. I attend local charismatic conferences and listen to some neo-Calvinist sermons. And I find life and hope and joy when a Grocery Outlet worker asks me how my day is going and if my daughter (not even three) would like a greeter job at the store (because she’s just that gregarious, hanging onto the shopping cart and smiling as though she’s in a parade, greeting her public).

Before I thought I knew what I was doing; now I certainly know that I don’t. And yet – the words still want to break forth. Just as my three children are breaking forth from their rooms, very certain that Quiet Time is over. “Mom, it’s three three zero. Quiet Time is over. And we’re cleaning up as fast as we can.” Yes, yes, you are. And so are my words.

So let it be said, so let it be done. (Ten Commandments junkie to the end – some things never change.)

From the Heights to the Depths You’re There

A few months ago I had a chuckle. During our worship gathering one of my boys was sitting in the sound booth, “helping” with his favorite sound technician.  He puts on headphones, watches the computer screen, and actually sits quietly until he’s dismissed to “children’s church.”

Meanwhile, my other son was stuck in the men’s bathroom stall.  A friend’s son found him; with loving concern the whole family brought him in his distress to us and stayed to make sure he was okay.

One running things in the balcony; the other stuck in the basement bathroom.  But both helped out by our extended family.

Today the eldest was back in the sound booth and the middle child was sitting with one of his best bud’s family.  Jason and I enjoyed a moment of rest. I worked to enter into worship, trying not to get stuck on the mention of the “Quaker handraising” (described as a small extension of the hands to the side, totally non-expressive. Doesn’t quite seem in line with a denomination that got its name from describing their bodily manifestations of the Spirit). I thought about how nice it would be after worship, having received an invitation to a friend’s house for a Real Sunday Dinner (with grandparents and Wii entertainment for the tykes – delightful!).

Downstairs I ran into one of the Weighty Friends in my life.  Her face lit up when our eyes connected.  We waxed poetic about people we admire in our lives and joked about how it’s good that we don’t sit together, lest we stir up “real” trouble.

Similar to the experience I earlier described with my boys, I was enjoying life in the balcony, while another was stuck in a metaphorical crapper.

It can be hard to get through service with young kids, especially when the dismissal to children’s church occurs later than usual.  Instead of experiencing the help of a friend “opening the stall door” to get through, a snarky comment about controlling kids or not having them in the sanctuary pretty much slammed that door shut.

This is not the first time it’s happened to someone I know.

What do I do with something like that? What do *WE* do with that? What does it look like to give grace (“oh, maybe they were having a hard day”) or to call into loving correction (“this is not how we treat each other”)? My fear is I will hear more excuses (“yep, that happens in churches”) rather than being heard (“that’s hard. and not okay. what does this mean, and what must we do?”).

Ultimately it’s not my choice: it didn’t happen to me. Directly. But it happened to someone in my family.

After trying on a myriad of reactions, I take the lead from today’s message on prayer: pray without ceasing, in *all* things. In the heights/balcony and the depths/basement men’s bathroom, You’re there redeeming, O Lord. You pour Your righteous love on us all – the old, the young; the movers, the sitters; the finger-extenders, the quakers.

A song that echos through my days, and ultimately I hope to be my evident in my life:

We are His portion and He is our prize.
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us, oh how He loves us. – John Mark McMillan

New Song

Worship Fully:  Today at Women’s Bible Fellowship a friend shared about the process of grieving her mother’s death.  She said eventually her tears and sadness were turned into praise, noticing that each morning instead of the gray, she woke with a praise song running through her mind.  It was a true example of God giving a New Song.  I notice that sometimes in my life, when something a child does that would’ve annoyed me to no end in the past I now find amusing, or a circumstance that would’ve made me angry I choose to let go of.  I’m thankful for that transformative God.

Spend Less:  I sent a link onto a friend full of homemade recipes to give away, mostly because I thought some of the recipes she’d like to make and keep for herself.  Funny thing:  she had the paper edition and actually filed it away already.  Glad my research skills are on target.  😉

Give More:  My son had his school Christmas party this morning, attended with Jason.  They went to a local Christmas-y store, sang songs, had goodies, and did a book exchange.  But the thing he was most excited about?  Giving Jason and me our Christmas surprise gifts that he’s been working on all month.  Each day he would come home, telling the adventures of the day, pointing out “And I worked on a surprise, and I CAN’T TELL YOU so DON’T ASK”.  Which, of course, became the game of me trying to wheedle it out of him, and him being all grins and dimples and shouting, “NO!  TEACHER LOEKIE SAID NOT TO TELL!!”  It was his day, but he was more excited about what he created to give to us.  That kid …

Love All:  During a sharing time at WBF a friend (who I actually grew up with as a kid in Idaho:  crazy life) reflected on her experience with Yvonne.  She said that she never really personally connected with her, and yet being in our community and walking alongside her in that group has forever changed and affected her.  Apparently one of Yvonne’s fears was that she hadn’t done enough to affect those around her with the love of Christ:  we all begged to differ.

A Love We Don’t Have to Earn

Worship Fully:  I really enjoy the work that Mustard Seed Associates puts out.  Christine Sine has been very helpful to me in following and celebrating the liturgical year.  Her work (and the work of others) is really quality in regards to Advent this year.

Spend Less:  Today I listened to a great interview on CraftSanity.  It was so refreshing to listen to something creative while being able to putter around the house (Judah was at school, Abel had a box to play with, and Josephine napped for a bit).  Creativity and reusing:  great combination.

Give More:  Today I gave more time to Christmas goodies in the kitchen.  Waffles for lunch (just because), peanut butter popcorn (fail:  need to learn to work with hot sugar and temperatures), eggnog scones (for dinner and tomorrow), and some kind of German spice cookie (just because):  it felt nice to create with ingredients that I already had to nurture and nourish others (and for me to hear yummy noises – love that).

Love All:  “What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.” – Madeleine L’Engle

On the Interwebs

Worship Fully:  I’m an avid podcast listener.  Multitasker to the end, I love learning and hearing from others while doing the mundane of folding laundry, sweeping, chasing those every present crumbs.  And, when I’m feeling pushed to the brink, it’s really nice to hear adults talking to me rather than the demands of the Little People (darling as they are).  A few podcasts I listen to are keepers, but I find that many of them I listen to for a season:  they resonate for a while, and then my mind starts tuning them out along with the constant question of  “Can we eat our Advent calendar chocolate *now*?”  Other podcasts I try on for a bit, and they don’t connect, so I let them go.  One such podcast was from The Village Church in Texas.  Having heard great things about their pastor Matt Chandler (and having had a friend who I adored of the same name), I listened for a bit.  But one can only listen to so many sermon series from churches one doesn’t attend before it’s just gluttony, so I let that podcast go.  Then I read the story of what’s happening at that faith gathering, and I listened to Matt’s last sermon, and it just hit home.  Talk about worshiping fully.  It’s a challenging listen, and I’m finding my heart laboring with those from The Village Church, looking forward to where the Spirit will lead them in this.

Spend Less:  So I went against the grain and ordered a few things for Christmas.  Yeah, the orders didn’t go through.  I had a choice:  meltdown?  Or welcome it as a blessing?  I went with a little of both.  🙂

Give More:  of combining help and food and volunteering and donating and just giving more.  Food bloggers rock in this area.

Love All:  Today at the doctor’s office I did not have a hard time loving some little kids playing with Josephine:  she smiled, they giggled, it was great.  I did have a hard time loving the doctor who told me that he can’t do anything to make me feel better.  Love is a choice, not a feeling.  Love is a choice, not a feeling.  Love is a choice, not a feeling … 🙂

Just a Day

Worship Fully:  While reading a lift-the-flap nativity book, Judah asked online canadian pharmacy me questions like, “Why was there no room?”  “Where were they going?”  And as I was summarizing the story for him, I wondered, “Was Mary miffed at Joseph that there was no room?”  Let me tell you, when I was in labor, if Jason didn’t know where we were going and could guarantee that I’d have a clean bed and help with the experience, there would be some STRONG words said.  “Really?  We have to do this census thing NOW?  You couldn’t have arranged for a room?  REALLY?”  Ah, Mary, I’m sure you were more gracious than I am: perhaps something to think about in my daily interactions.

Spend Less:  Today I heard a friend announce that he no longer ate meat:  “Correction:  I don’t eat *commercial* meat.”  His family had us over for a wonderful dinner, part of which was a “happy chicken” (free range/organic), although I don’t know how happy any chicken is in a crockpot.  🙂   His family had gone in with a group of people to purchase a large quantity of fryers, bringing down the price.  Happy meat sure is monetarily expensive and can take a while to find and process (spendy timewise), but I wonder if we end up spending less in the long run:  on doctors for health reasons, on food by making meat more of an accent than the main ingredient, on the world’s resources from packaging to shipping to the horrible conditions the animals exist in.
Give More:  Today I gave more personal space to my kids.  From eating breakfast with not one, but two people on my lap; from nursing one and reading to two others at the same time; from letting the eldest have input into what should be served in my cafe on Facebook:  I want to remember that this time shall pass, and soon I’ll be begging to give them a hug instead of the other way around.
Love All:  Another rough day – just feeling a bit beaten down.  But hearing the giggles of my boys with their friends, racing around with light sabers and foam swords galore, I realize my heart is filled with love from and for our community, and even when I’m tired and just want to crawl into bed, it’s much better to be with friends and family (and yummy food).  🙂

Simple as a Drink of Water … Or Not

Worship Fully:  got to engage in song with wonderful women as we mourned and rejoiced as the physical passing of a friend.  So happy she’s dancing with the saints, but selfishly sad for our missing of her body in our midst.

Spend Less:  Today’s speaker at WBF shared her reflections on Luke 17 & 18.  So many stories packed into two chapters!  Christ doesn’t seem to be one to babble. 🙂   What stood out to me were stories regarding water.  First, she told of a time when she went to a pumpkin patch with her extended family.  She was about to buy a bottle of water, having forgot her water bottle at home.  She offered it to others, and her grown son said that he no longer drinks from bottled water:  much of it is bottled by Nestle, who has bought the rights to water in countries where people desperately need water and can no longer have access to it because of our consumerism.  She also shared how when hosting kids from an African choir they could not get over her washing machine:  “You mean water just comes in there?”

When I spend more, others have to spend less.  I heard someone recently define rich as “when I am rich, it means I am taking from others who can no longer have.”  When I drink water without thinking where it comes from, I am taking from others who don’t have; my need to be quenched creates a thirst in them.

Give More:  I’m not so much a baby person:  give me a teenager any day, and let’s have awesome conversations and go do stuff.  But babies:  they sure take a lot, and don’t give a lot, that is, if you’re a person who wants to go and do.  I’ve never been a sit & cuddle person as my folks can tell you – I held them at arms length pretty much since day one.  And when I have an infant of my own, I’m easily babied-out.  But today I actually wanted to hold someone else’s baby:  he was born one day after my daughter, and he reminds me of my boys – a bit more on the fussy side, active side, wearing his mama out side.  See, she had a girl first:  a cuddler.  Me, the opposite.  And now that I have little miss “let me smile at you to show you all the insides of my mouth:  see, this is how big I can get it!” girl, I don’t mind pacing with the active boy:  I have something of me to give.  Finally.  That sure is nice.

Love All:  Funny how I just talked about loving on my friend’s boy, and yet I had not a lot of love for my own boys this afternoon.  It’s too easy to whang on myself, so I’m just going to put this day away and look forward to a day tomorrow with new opportunities to create and play and love, or at least try to keep the tiredcrabbies to myself.  🙂

That’s Why We Give?

Worship Fully:  Didn’t make it to corporate worship this morning – sniffles, aches, and sleepyheads.  But I tried to slow down the day, not engage in the hustle and bustle of being at home (laundry, cleaning, etc.).  The tree was decorated, manger scenes played with, and some cleaning happened, but that was during quiet time, so it doesn’t count, right?  🙂

Spend Less:  Like I said, I was going to spend less time doing the things I feel *need* to get done.  Normally I would dive into the laundry with the air of martyrdom about me while everyone else rested.  Instead, I sat.  I sat with a baby on my lap and looked at the tree.  In the evening Jason asked if he could help start laundry:  who am I to say no? 🙂

Give More:  Today I gave more thought as to why we give at all.  At lunch time while reading a Parenting Magazine  I came across a section explaining brief synopsis to give to kids about the variety of holidays occurring this time of year.  The Christmas explanation stated that we give presents in remembrance of the magi who gave gifts to the Baby Jesus.  For some odd reason I’ve never made that connection.  I would say something about St. Nick giving gifts and celebration of Christ’s birth, but I never tied it to the Magi.

Which got me thinking:  if it’s in remembrance of that event, then the whole Christmas holiday is really mucked up!  Obviously.  But really:  if we’re going to be like the magi, we should be giving gifts to Christ, not each other.  True, I could use a Quaker principle as a cop-out, “But I’m giving to that of Christ in others!”  🙂  But how is giving a DVD player to another person honoring the birth of the Christ child?  Yes, the magi’s gifts were extremely costly, so we need to spend ourselves into debt?  OR we give of something that’s truly costly to us.  For myself:  it’s my quiet time – I *love* to be by myself, to think and write and read and be.  To give that time to my kids, to do something they want to do whether I find it a good use of time or not, that is costly to me.  And I think that might be honoring of Christ ….  Just some interesting thoughts.

Love All:  I don’t know that I loved all today, but I certainly felt loved by my family.  I’ve been feeling under the weather, and my husband took care of the kids this morning.  He held the baby when she cried, he front-packed her while sorting through gobs of laundry, and he asked repeatedly how he could help today.  My sons gave me lots of hugs, cuddles, and made all sorts of appropriate yummy noises when I made them hot (lukewarm) cocoa with marshmallows and candy cane bits.  And my daughter made all sorts of gummy smiley faces at me.  I am truly blessed by these people in the small things and the big things.

Impressions of a Summer Passing

So.  Fall’s almost here.  And I have yet to feel like summer ever started.  Last summer I remember more free time, more days spent in the yard, less scheduled events.  But my mind has a tendency to wax poetically, and it’s very likely that I spent last summer like I spent this one, since I can’t even remember what I did last week ….

We gathered at Yearly Meeting in July.  The heat “encouraged” me to take advantage of the full range of opportunities:  workshops, board meetings, evening gatherings, evening celebration times.  Two words:  air-conditioned childcare.  Really, I did it “for the kids.”  🙂  But as I saw the eldest forging some bonds, making friends, loving to go play in the sprinkler and watch Larry-Boy and run amuck with wild abandon, I felt less guilty about dumping him off, filling myself up with connections with adults and quiet time to prep for upcoming events, and recognizing:  Hey, I liked YM for those same reasons!  And now he gets to have those memories as well!  The toddler would be less rosy about his experience, but next year when he moves to the “children who don’t wear diapers” room, I think it’ll all be good.

Following Yearly Meeting came our worship gathering’s Vacation Bible School.  Which I wasn’t sure about the eldest’s participation.  But again:  I saw the crafts, the running around, the morning cheer of “Yay!  VBS!”, and I knew why it was a good thing for him to be there.  Actually, VBS is where I first had an opportunity to “make a decision for Christ” – not that I didn’t make repeated decisions at later opportunities, but still.  And somehow it became oddly important to me that Judah have such experiences.  Finally, parental inclinations might be manifesting …

The next week the kids were shipped up (lovingly, of course) to the grand’rents while Jason and I went to join about 350 other crazy people at the coast for Surfside, our high school camp.  I facilitated a tract for the high school grads focusing on life transitions and our identity in Christ.  It was GREAT:  high schoolers are amazing people.  From kids voicing fears that they will only have dead-end jobs and therefore a dead-end life, to others talking about wanting to leave their faith gatherings all their lives until the community had a split and now wanting to walk through that pain and grief with them – wow.  The larger camp met corporately under a tent in a meadow.  Then it rained.  Then it heated up:  swamp thing!  Meals were served in the dining hall and neighboring meeting room.  Through it all (even my 1am bedtimes and 6am wake-up times) people loved on each other and loved on God and were loved on by God.  God.Is.Good.

After that, I felt like summer could start.  Except now it’s mostly prep for the fall.  Which is good and enh, all at the same time.  Fall is the hardest transition for me:  grey skies are coming, plants are dying, hibernation is on the way.  How not to repeat patterns that weren’t the best from past years?  How to live in the life and light that I feel in the summer without getting discouraged in the daily mundane?  How to re-enter into a more scheduled community life … or enter in at all? …

God is present in every season, ready to speak life and light and healing.  I’m not called to live in the summer season all the time:  I’m called to live a day at a time, with each one being a gift (although some days feel like they were gifts picked out of the dollar bins at Target).  🙂  Summer:  thank you for your light.  Fall:  soon we shall meet – please be kind (rewind).