Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peace of Christ to You

We said very sad farewells using these very words to many of our dear friends at church today, and they seemed a fitting way to sign off of this blog. Peace to you.

Well, that and a couple of Calvinisms...

The other day he got a huge splinter in his foot, and as we were pulling it out, he lamented, "I can see the death that will befall me!"

Then, as we were pouring some hydrogen peroxide on the wound, "No! No! Don't put carbon monoxide on it! That is dangerous"

Today, on the way home from church, he was discussing the fact that Auntie E had actually bought our Wii for Daddy a couple of years ago. "She didn't know the lion's den she was walking into with that one, did she? She thought she got that for our daddy, but all we do is play it all the time. We use it more than Daddy. It's just Wii, Wii, Wii."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time to Close Up Shop

I started this blog over three years ago as an outlet from life with little people. I had no idea what a gift it would be to me or how many interesting and thoughtful people I would meet through this world. So many of you have been gifts to me through your insightful writing on your own blogs and your kind comments on mine. Thank you for the good conversation over the years.

I am going to have to stop posting here while we are in China, though I may resurrect this little spot one day. In the meantime, we will have a family blog in China. If you are interested, e-mail me for the link.

I feel like there should be a bigger ceremony, a long post about TwoSquareMeals, or some other thoughtful something to end this, but we are getting on a plane in less than nine days. I barely have the energy to write this post. It is going to be a long week!

In lieu of something to say, I am going to show my real face, and that of my kids. Here's the face behind the curtain. Check out the bloody knee from a recent hike to my favorite waterfall in TN. We've enjoyed our last autumn in the States with lots of mountain time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ramblin' Woman

It looks pretty certain that we are leaving for China in about FIVE WEEKS!! Don't even ask me how much we have to get done. I am really praying it all gets finished in time for us to enjoy our last few weeks here.

Today I said the first in what promises to be a long string of good-byes. I've known Max for fifteen years, longer than I've known my husband or any of my friends here in North Carolina. We have so many memories together, driving curvy mountain roads, windows down, music blaring, stopping to pick daisies on the roadside in the summer and inhaling the cool air of autumn. We drove all around East Tennessee during high school, staying out too late and goofing off in the innocent way you can only do in a small mountain town. He went with me when I decided to take a roadtrip one summer in college "just because." We wound our way through Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York visiting friends along the way and getting lost in New Jersey. He went along when my friend Matt and I made our epic trip to Mardi Gras one February. He was there for late night talks with boyfriends and midnight runs to the Waffle House in college. He ran away with me every time I needed to get away during my restless years, driving off to Jones Gap to hike or just driving, with no destination in mind, until my mind cleared and I found peace enough to go home.

Max, Maxwell, short for Maxwell's Silver Hammer is my silver, 1995 Acura Integra. (Yes, I named all of our family's cars after Beatles' songs, but I just can't come up with a name for our black minivan.) I suppose I should say he "was" my Integra. I didn't think I would be so sad to sell him. We need the money to get us by until we leave for the field, and we don't need the extra car. It didn't make sense to keep him sitting idle somewhere for four years.

But as I drove to meet the new owner this evening, I cried. This was my first car, bought for me by my Daddy. It's a huge memory of him, not to mention all the memories I have associated with that car after fifteen years of driving it. I was such a restless, lost soul for so many years, and that car was the one thing that stayed constant and went with me wherever I ran to...that car and the Holy Spirit, I suppose.

Selling Maxwell today reminded me of the person I was, the restless, rambling, music and fresh air loving girl that used to drive around with the windows down and the Allman Brothers playing. I never was happy in one place for very long, and I used to be able to pack up everything I needed in that car and just take off at a moment's notice. Somewhere in the midst of a marriage and three kids and five years in one place, I lost that ability to pick up and go. In some ways that was good, growing up and no longer running away, but I am starting to remember that some of that restlessness is good, a reminder that things are not as they should be and that I am not as I want to be, that there is work to be done for peace and justice and love and truth.

For too long now I have been living a stable, stationary life. It wasn't all bad, but I am waking up and realizing that God is calling me to more, that He made me restless and rambling for a reason. It's funny that the first step toward rediscovering that is selling Maxwell. Good old Maxwell, who saw me through the tumultuous years and doesn't get to see the newly restless (in a good way) me. I will miss you, my faithful traveling companion.

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes-Almost Too Late


The busyness continues, and I'm just not finding time to organize my thoughts and write them. If all goes as planned, we will be in Asia the beginning of November. Never mind that we have a house two sell, eight years of marriage and three kids worth of stuff to go through, visas to obtain, and any number of other things to accomplish by then. Oh, and we need to find good time to spend with family and process this whole moving thing.


That leads to take number two, in which I tell you that I am not sleeping all. For some of you this may be normal, but not for me. Even when I have a newborn waking me up multiple times at night, I sleep exceptionally well. In fact, sometimes my husband has to wake me up to tell me a baby is crying. All three of my kids sleep through the night now, and I have always been one to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and not wake up until the alarm (or a child) wakes me. This lack of sleep due to stress is new for me, and I am not handling it well at all. Any suggestions other than just drinking lots of caffeinated drinks? Help, anyone?


On a brighter note, we spent Labor Day weekend in the mountains and took Monday totally off from moving/support raising/totally uprooting our lives work. It was lovely and cool and clear on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we stopped at my favorite apple orchard (definitely the most scenic in the world) for some apples. We've already made applesauce and will be doing apple butter and pie tomorrow. Yum!


I have been thinking a lot of deep thoughts lately, but I just haven't had time to process them in writing. I have been thinking about how we spend so much time living our lives for an audience and documenting them that we don't actually live them. With blogs and digital photography and Facebook and Twitter, even those of us who try to avoid it often end up spending more time thinking about how to present our lives to others than actually living them. Because I have spent so much of the summer having to live in the here and now and not even having a moment to consider blogging or taking pictures or updating Facebook, I am realizing how much better life is without all of that. I think the generation becoming adults right now is growing up more narcissistic than any before because none of us have thought through how to use this new technology well. I heard about this book on NPR the other day, and would love other good resources that discuss how to live well without becoming a luddite and rejecting all technology.


I've also been thinking about Muslims in America. I want to hate that crazy preacher in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Qu'ran. I want to hate him, but that would make me just as bad as he is. So instead I want to be like Catherine, who is finding ways to reach out to her Muslim neighbors. But can I still be mad at 24-hour news media? If it weren't for their need to have something to report on, the Qu'ran burners would not have national coverage, and the hatred that they are showing would not be the fuel for more hatred, toward Muslims or toward Christians. I'm pretty sure the Jesus I follow said something about loving my neighbor. In fact, He even said something about loving my enemy...I guess that includes the guy in Florida as much as it does the 9/11 hijackers and even the news media.


On the parenting front, I have loved this article from Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter (whose blog you really must subscribe to). Her parenting articles (and others as well) are so sensible and down to earth. This one was even better. I especially liked the alternate version of Ma Ingalls telling Laura to go in the house when there was a bear:

Today's child, in the false comfortable world of prosperity where parents think they have the luxury of listening to "experts" (who have no obedient children themselves), would cause this scenario:

"Laura, get inside!"
"Sweetie, get inside, please. Mommy needs you to get inside. Mommy doesn't want to scare you, but there's a big bear and she needs you to make a good choice now and do what she says."

"Will you buy me a treat?"

"Yes, sweetie, please, go inside."

"Where's Daddy?"

"Mommy knows you have questions, and that's very smart of you. I'm so proud of you. Please go inside now."

"He's never here! Why isn't he here? You TOLD me he'd be here!"
"Sweetie, when you argue with me, you are making a bad choice. What did we say about bad choices? Now, you'll have a time-out if you don't do what I say..."

Meanwhile, the bear eats them.

Why? Because Mommy is so patient that she allowed every interaction with her child to be an exchange between equals rather than a strong wall that a child can't breach. For her own sake.

My husband and I took her advice on having obedience practice, and it has worked wonders. We randomly ask the boys to run to the middle of the room and stand on one foot or hide behind the curtains. They do it the first time we ask because it is so funny, but the great thing is that they really caught on and started obeying the first time we asked them to pick up their toys or do something helpful for us. It was...well...wonderful.


On a purely frivolous note, my team plays Oregon tomorrow. We are totally outmatched. But we are playing at home, which is an intimidating place for even number 7. It could be an upset. I can always hope...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Five Days...

...not that I have an obsession or anything...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes-T-shirts, Books, and Movies

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen. And, no, I don't have one of those fancy Amazon accounts that lets me earn money when you click one of these links and buy the book. I just share my opinions on books for free because they aren't worth much more than that.


First this link, because it is more important than anything I have to say. My amazingly compassionate, loving, beautiful friends are in the process of adopting a daughter (or a pair of siblings) from Ethiopia. They already have three biological children, and they are opening their home to more. They are selling these super cool shirts to raise funds. Visit Cortney's blog to buy one. If you aren't convinced, read her story of being called to adopt. Start at the beginning or just read this post.

I have actually been making myself take time to read lately despite the insanity that surrounds me. I just finished The Alchemist, and though I don't think it was a consistently profound book, I did love it. It had many, many beautiful nuggets of truth in it, and it was a wonderful tale (fable? semi-allegory?). I think I loved it for the places it touched on Christian truth in the way I love a good movie that has glimpses of the truth in it. It's a quick read, one that had been on my list forever, and definitely worth it.

I am also finally trying to get serious about this idea of homeschooling and buckling down to read The Well-Trained Mind. I love the idea of classical education, but I am not sure I would love the practical working out of it. Anyone have any experience or advice on this? It seems so heavily academic at such an early age, and that scares me off a bit. Since my boys will already be in Chinese Kindergarten in the mornings, I don't want to overdo it. I'd love to hear from other moms of young ones who have started classical education at home.

For something less deep but just as wonderful, I just finished Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine. I love her Big Stone Gap series and all of her books, and this new book did not disappoint. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.

If you are interested in China or good travel/culture books in general, you can't beat Peter Hessler. I highly recommend every one of his books, including Country Driving, of which I have only read the first ten pages. He is an incredibly talented story teller/writer/weaver of words, and you will not regret picking up one of his books.

On to visual media...We have been loving Foyle's War in the Two Square household. We get the episodes through Netflix and have gotten my husband's whole family addicted to this fantastic British murder drama set in World War II. The history is fascinating and the characters are lovably British. (Why DO we Americans have such an obsession with all things British?)

On the personal front, for those who care, we are...well...still really busy and traveling and trying to sell our house (or rent it...what to do, what to do) and making phone calls and sending letters and praying really hard that we can get to Asia by November at the latest. If you are the praying sort, please pray with us!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Also With You

"Calvin, you can't say those words to Auntie S. Words have meaning, and when you say that you don't love her you are saying what those words mean, even if you don't really think you are. You need to apologize and tell Auntie S that you love her."

It seems we have this conversation a lot with our boys. We tell them that we don't say words like that in our family, that we love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. We stress that these are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


Some say that the very repetition of the liturgy, Sunday after Sunday, renders it meaningless, but I don't agree. The words I say matter, not because of how I feel about them, but because the truth in them has power to change me. Every Sunday, as I recite the Nicene Creed and pray the prayer of confession and offer the "Peace of Christ" to those around me, those words mean something.

Whether I have conjured enough faith in my heart or paid enough attention to each word that Sunday matters little. I have chosen to say those words and those words have meaning. By saying them, I choose to be transformed by them and to join the community of the church, both in that building on Sunday and throughout all of history.

Some Sundays I am distracted by children or exhausted by life and go through almost an entire liturgy without thinking about what I am saying. But it never fails that one word or phrase or prayer jolts me out of my distraction and reminds me of the cosmic reality, the meaning behind those words.

"The Lord be with you."

"And also with you."

We say these words every Sunday during the Eucharistic liturgy, as the priest begins preparing the table. So often I have said it and only half thought about it, but this past week, as I looked at our pastor and dear friend who was serving the Eucharist, the meaning behind what I said moved me to tears. Suddenly I knew, beyond any doubt, that I truly wanted the Lord, in all of His fullness, to be with our rector and with that beautiful group of people gathered to commune around His table. Because of that moment, because of the meaning of those words, my soul was changed. I am certain that when I am halfway around the world and remembering that liturgy, even as my church family is saying it aloud together, my soul will be knit to theirs. I know that, because the Lord is with me and also with them, we are united in His love.

Words have meaning, and when I say them I am transformed. When we say them together, our souls are united in worship. No matter how alone I am feeling in a foreign country, no matter how much my faith may whither, I can speak the words of the liturgy and know that there is a greater truth than how I am feeling. The Word, who cares about my feelings and my struggles, meets me in that liturgy, and the strength of the community sustains me when I am too weak to say the words alone.

We love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. These are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our spiritual parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


And so Calvin and Hobbes say the words of apology and love, sometimes sincerely and sometimes still protesting in their hearts while they repeat what we have said. But they say them because those words have the power to transform them, to remind them that they do love, to unite them to a truth greater than their own emotions.

"I love you Auntie S."

"The Lord be with you..."

Monday, August 2, 2010

It Can't Be Helped

As I cuddled with Calvin on the couch Sunday night, the night before his sixth birthday, I said, "Don't turn six, Calvin."

"It can't be helped," was his reply.

His answer was so very Calvin-like, with his uncanny ability to toss out grown-up or antiquated turns of phrase at the most unlikely of moments. But lately those grown-up ways of speaking seem to fit him more and more. He is really growing up into a boy-man, and though there are traces of those emotional meltdowns and tantrums of his preschool years, he often tries really hard to control them. I love watching him discover his gifts and passions, seeing him learn to take responsibility, and following him along this path to greater independence. He stays up way past his bedtime reading old Hardy Boys books, he takes care of Linus with great attention, and he can occupy himself with Legos for hours on end. He is one amazing kid, and I am privileged to be his mommy.

I have not been a great mom to preschoolers, but if what I see of Calvin is indicative of the future, I think I am going to like the boy years. It can't be helped.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Boys vs. Birds

This lovely picture was taken by my youngest sister-in-law. So was the one in my header.

We survived our back-to-back vacation weeks and even managed to have fun. Now on to some seriously intense prayer and support development and a big push to try to get to Asia soon. It doesn't look likely to happen in September, and we are just trusting that it will happen when God wants it to. Prayers are appreciated. I think I need to start really blogging again for the sake of my sanity. We'll see if it happens.

I hope you are all having lovely ends of the summer!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eat A Peach

Or so say the Allman Brothers. Aren't they lovely? They are in my mother-in-law's orchard. I'm going to miss this place. We're off for back-to-back weeks for vacation with both sides of the family. I may write a lot. I may not write at all. I will definitely be eating peaches.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Breaking the Silence, Showing our Face

I know I have sorely neglected this spot lately, but I am afraid that is just the way it is. It is going to be awfully silent around here and then may have to be shut down entirely once we move. I am working on finding a way to keep a blog overseas that won't compromise our security there.

There is so very much to do to get read for this move overseas. So. Very. Much. I am tired and overwhelmed and leaning more into God's grace and love and faithfulness every day. So many thoughts come and go before I have a chance to write and work them out here. But there are very good moments in the midst of the busy-ness.

We have such very, very good friends and such a very, very amazing church. We have wonderful family. We are enjoying baby goats. Check out my photo in my header. This is the first time I have shown the faces of my sweet boys in this space. Please respect my desires for their security and just enjoy the sweet photo. I am actually showing you a peek of my boys because I adore the way Hobbes is looking at the goat and the way you can see Linus' amazingly long lashes when he is looking down. Life is good, and getting to Asia will be good. The harder we work, I am learning, the better it is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

To Have and To Hold

We are so, so, so busy and overwhelmed (mostly in a good way) right now, that I didn't realize until 9:30 tonight that today is our eight year wedding anniversary. I wouldn't have remembered at all if the guy on the classical radio station hadn't mentioned it's being his and his wife's 52nd anniversary. My husband would have forgotten it, too, if my mom hadn't called to apologize about forgetting it. Oh well, at least we both forgot it!

Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband! Here's hoping we get to celebrate 52 years together like the couple on the radio!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

House Rules

Calvin wrote these out a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I'd share. Here's the translation for those who have trouble reading his writing:

  • Do not be bad.
  • Be good.
  • Do not fight other people if they don't want to be fought.
  • Play Wii.
  • Don't stay in bed in the morning.
  • Eat your meals.
In other news, check out that cute pudgy hand picking the blueberries in my header. We were in TN last week and enjoyed some of the fruits of my late grandma's lovely blueberry bushes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Life Right Now: A Photo Essay

-letters and labels and stamps-

-chasing this guy and trying to keep him fed and uninjured-

-yard sale pile and boxes-

-prayer group preparations-

-enjoying a bit of the beauty of our yard-

-trying to make our house beautiful-

-rewarding Calvin and Hobbes for helping with the cleaning-

-drinking lot of sweet tea to keep going-
(Thank you, Chick-fil-A, for making the nectar of the gods.)


-procrastinating here when there is way too much to do-

Sunday, June 6, 2010


She opens the door with caution and peeks her head outside...

Anyone still around out there? I assure you I have been reading your blogs. Our lives have just been so busy with this new plan that I have not had a spare moment to comment or to write for myself. I miss this little outlet for my thoughts, though, and wanted to at least stop in and say "hi." Here's a brief update followed by a funny Hobbes story.

Oh, and if you just read me in your reader, you really should go on over to my blog and see the cute ducklings in the photo on my header. They were born at my in-laws' farm last week, and we have been enjoying them immensely.

Things are moving forward quickly with our plans for Asia. We have been contacting a lot of churches and are getting ready to send out a letter and start calling folks to talk about our plans. We have no idea where the funding will come from in such a short time or how all of the details will fall into place, but God is showing me that I just need to worry about doing what I can do in one day, not looking ahead to too many details at once.

Here's a wonderful story that feels like such a confirmation of God's provision in all of this. I was so stressed out about getting the house ready, purging and storing our things, and staging the house to have on the market. I had no idea when we would get it done with all of the more immediate needs of medical clearances and passports and building our support team. Thanks to a random e-mail I sent to a listserve, we already have a couple that is highly interested. We've shown the house twice to their daughters, and they are driving down from NY to check it out for themselves. Wouldn't it by funny if, after all of my stress about how to get it all done, these folks bought the house without my even having to do one more project or get it all cleaned out and staged? Maybe it won't work out that way, but right now, it certainly seems to have God's hand all over it.

I still have so little faith that we can get from 15% to 100% of our support in a month, get our ducks in a row, get our visas, and get there by September. But there are a lot of people praying with a lot of faith for it to happen. And God seems to be showing me that I can trust Him to show up in big ways. This is ultimately His work to do, not ours, and we are just called to be faithful each day to the tasks He has given. That may or may not mean He wants to get us there by September. But I think my faith is going to be stretched a lot this summer! It's hard to live this out, but I know we will look back one day and have a great story to tell.

Now, I'm off for a much needed Sabbath rest. The boys have been so funny lately, and I have lots of Calvinisms and Hobbes' quotes to share with you. I just haven't had time to write them down. For now, here is a funny from Hobbes.

We were at my sister-in-law's high school graduation yesterday, and the graduates were wearing blue robes. It was hot and the ceremony was long, and I was in the back with the boys under a tree. Hobbes was sitting up in the tree, a little Zaccheus character if ever there was one, and he looked down at me with a huge grin and said, a little too loudly, "Mommy, when I'm up here, I can see lots of the blue people!"

And then, pointing to the stage at all of the dignitaries in their black academic garb, "And there are all the black people!"

Apparently, his aunt and her peers are some sort of alien race with blue skin. And we, to all of those sitting nearby who heard but had no context, are now racists.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Caught in a Whirlwind

For those of you who keep up with this blog and were praying for us, we decided to accept the call from our sending agency to move fill the need in Western China. They want us there by September. That means we have to have financial and medical clearance by July. That means we have three months to get it all done and get there.

Yes, I am a bit unglued, stressed, overwhelmed, get the picture.

But I am excited, too. I know that if God wants us there He will make it happen. It is an undertaking of huge proportions, nonetheless. If we do our part to make this plan happen, we are going to be some crazy-busy people. So you may not hear much from me. It is also likely that this blog will be shut down when we move. But I am looking into ways to have another one that is a bit more secure. I'll let you know.

In the meantime, we can definitely use your prayers. I'll try to update you on occasion and maybe even have some non-moving related posts to share.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hatching of a Heart

I am an Appalachian girl. There are good things about that, but there are downsides, too. We tend to be stoic people, keeping our emotions bottled up until too much moonshine combined with an insult to our kinfolk stirs us to fightin'. But my family is one of the stoic ones, not one of the fighting ones. We don't often show emotion, even to those we love the most. Sometimes we don't even know how to deal with it inside ourselves.

I go through most of my life like this, emotionally reserved, even keel, not expressing or expecting emotional openness. I suppose that is why I am prone to depression and don't find it easy to make deep friendships.

But there are times when even I cannot keep the sadness and the beauty and the joy of life from slipping in and breaking open my heart. It is a slowly widening crack, as my Maker gently and lovingly pries open the shell around my heart. As he helps me to open up, I am learning to invite these emotions into their proper places. Most days they still feel like strangers, but sometimes, like this week, I know that they are finding in my heart a place that could be home.

As I accept the sadness of a missionary hero of mine (and dear family friend) dying of cancer then turn around to watch Linus belly laughing at his daddy and brothers, I wonder if my heart will break from the opening, from the stretching and growing and making room. As I watch Hobbes on a perfect May afternoon, picking strawberries at my in-laws' and eating them straight from the patch (See that lovely photo at the top of my blog?), I wonder if my heart can hold the beauty and heartbreak of it all. I think it is too much.

But I am trying, trying to open my heart and hands to accept life and to live it fully, to allow myself to feel deeply and truly. Maybe just maybe, this heart will hatch one day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

These Feet Were Made For Walkin'...

Somehow, in this insanely busy past month, Baby Linus became Toddler Linus. I almost missed it. I mean, I knew he was starting to walk and getting braver every day, but I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I almost forgot to celebrate when those cute, curled up toes decided it was time to conquer the world. I certainly didn't manage to get video of it. I do have video of some of his early steps, so I guess that's good enough.

But walking is not the only way he is growing up. We are down to two nursing sessions a day, sometimes one, and while I thought he might hold on for a while longer, it seems like he may be ready to wean. I had a rare peaceful moment with him today. As we lay on my bed, him feeding and holding onto my shirt and me stroking his cheek, I knew that this might be the last time like this, even if not the last time he nurses.

Linus has never been one to nurse to sleep or want to cuddle. He likes breastfeeding, but he usually does it quickly and hops up to play. Even as a newborn, he nursed right after waking and preferred to go to sleep on his own in his crib later. For the most part, I have been very thankful that my third wanted to go to sleep on his own. It made life much easier for me after having had two who needed lots of help going to sleep. But now that we are at the end, I wonder what I missed. Nursing him has always been a distracted business, with one or the other of us busy paying attention to Calvin and Hobbes. There has been very little one-on-one time in these breastfeeding months.

So as he feel asleep this afternoon, one hand holding mine and the other clutching my shirt, I treasured it. I looked at those sweet toes, curled up under his feet after a morning of wandering the playground. I stared at his body becoming long and lean with the work of walking. And I cuddled my baby. He may be beginning the journey to boyhood, but when he is asleep and those feet are at rest, he is still my baby.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day Giveaways All Week

My friends, Catherine and Farrah, over at DuPage Mamas, are hosting a lot of giveaways this week. If you live in DuPage County, Illinois, or know someone who does, visit their site to register. Some of the giveaways are not local, so we can all enter those!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Excuse

Not that I need to give one, but here is my excuse for not writing much lately. Really, it's a call to prayer, if you are the praying type.

In the midst of three trips to Tennessee in three weeks to see my Grandma before she died and to attend her burial and the worship service celebrating her life, we got an e-mail and phone call from our sending organization for Asia. They are asking us to consider a huge shift in our plans that involves moving to another, more remote city where Daddy TwoSquare will work at a software startup whose founder is going on home assignment for a year. It is a strategic work with an important minority group focus, and if the company folds, the folks working there could lose their visas. Even if they don't, the work they are doing to build trust and to live with integrity there could be jeopardized.

Seems like a no-brainer, but it comes with a lot of cons for our family, including a limit on our language acquisition for that first year. Our original plan involved doing two years of full-time language study with very little work or ministry, living in a much more accessible city with more foreigners, and having an overall easier adjustment. This new option is in a city that I love dearly, but it is a hard place to learn language because of the work schedule my husband would have and because of the strong local dialect.

This only needs to be a temporary situation, and we can return to our original plan after the year is up. The reality, however, is that we are unlikely to want to uproot our family and move to a new city to start the cultural adjustment process all over. We can turn back to full time language study in this city after that year, but the language program is far inferior to the one we were originally planning to attend.

As you can see, I have a lot on my mind. We are praying a talking and discerning with wise counselors. If we decide to go ahead with this, they want us to try to get our support raised and be there as early in the Fall as possible, hopefully September. It is overwhelming, to say the least. But it could be exciting.

I may not be around these parts much, or I may turn here a lot to process and cope with the insanity. I would appreciate your prayers. And if you have a heart for Asia and want to learn more about what we are doing so that you can pray more specifically, I'd be glad to contact you. Just e-mail me at twosquaremeals[at]gmail[dot]com. I just can't post more specifically here for security reasons.

I am overwhelmed and exhausted and emotionally frayed, but now I am off to get a lunch packed and watch Calvin's soccer game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grandma's Wisdom

Today, a short post, perhaps the wisest saying I've ever heard attributed to my Grandma:

"Women are mean, and men are stupid."

Knowing that could solve a lot of the world's relationship problems.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

These Aren't Your Grandma's Blueberries (reposted)

I was hoping to do a series of posts about my Grandma this week. I may or may not get many done. But here is one from a couple of years ago. My Grandma's house has the most amazingly prolific blueberry bushes in the backyard. This includes one of my favorite of her many delicious recipes, her blueberry batter pie.

But they are my grandma's blueberries. Aren't they lovely?

We have had a busy few days around here. On Thursday, the boys and I drove the four-hours one way trip to Tennessee just to pick some of these fantastic berries. Of course, we did manage to stay two days to enjoy family and to breathe some of the mountain air, which is significantly less oppressive than the air around here, even if it isn't that much cooler.

I'm not sure how long Grandma has had her blueberry bushes, but they are huge. She gets around 20 gallons each summer, and all of her friends and relatives who want to can take a turn picking. We got there just in time to glean some of the last fruits. In fact, my wonderful Grandma had saved two bushes just for us. Calvin had a blast picking...or eating...the berries with Grandma. Hobbes was more interested in pouring them from one bucket to another, dumping them on the ground, and generally undoing our work. He eventually decided it was more fun to play hide-and-seek in the bushes while we picked.

So now I am home with a gallon of berries, some of which I will freeze for use in oatmeal and pancakes and muffins throughout the year. Many of them we will eat in handfuls of juicy, sweet goodness. The rest will go into Grandma's blueberry batter pie and a batch of these. I am still searching for the perfect blueberry muffin recipe, so if you have a good one, send it my way. For that matter, send me any good blueberry recipes you have. I'd love to know what other people do with them!

Grandma's Blueberry Batter Pie

Melt one stick butter in the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish.

Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, and a dash of salt. Set aside.

Combine 1 quart blueberries, 1 cup sugar, and a little water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on stovetop and remove from heat.

Pour batter over melted butter in baking dish. Spoon blueberry mixture evenly over batter and pour remaining juice on top. Bake at 350 for 3o minutes or until batter rises to top and begins to brown.

Best served warm with some vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eulogy for My Grandma

Today was the worship service celebrating my Grandma's life. All of the grandkids were asked to say something about what we learned from her. This is what I wrote and read.

When (my uncle) asked me to write something about what I learned from Grandma or what she meant to me, I wondered what to write. Should I tell about how she taught me to make her famous chocolate cake, measuring the cocoa so that it was heaped just the right amount in the tablespoon? Or about how I used to love spending the night with her as a kid because we got to have all the candy we wanted, stay up late, and eat chicken noodle soup for lunch? Should I tell about my memories of eating freshly picked blueberries off the bushes in her backyard until my stomach hurt? Or of sitting in her living room stringing beans with her and most of the family helping? Maybe I should tell how her involvement in missions, though she never moved away from these mountains, was one of the influences that led me to follow God’s call to China. Whether big or small, all of these are pieces of her story that have helped to write mine, and I am so very grateful for them. But they are not want I really want to tell.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I wanted more than I even realized to have a girl, and when we found out we were having yet another boy, I was a bit disappointed. How does anyone raise three boys? Then I remembered (I don’t know how I had forgotten) that Grandma did it. Grandma, who had wanted so much to have just one girl and was thrilled when I was finally born into the family, raised three boys and raised them well.

When I asked her how she did it, how she managed to raise three boys who turned out so well and even liked each other, she said, “Well, I guess I just did it.” In this age, when motherhood is such a complicated business, and everyone is telling you the perfect method for childrearing and insisting that you buy their book or take their class or follow their method, my Grandma’s wisdom is the only advice that has really stuck with me. She just did it. She got up every morning and made the meals and mended the clothes and disciplined when needed and didn’t worry too much about self-esteem or cognitive development or anything else. In fact, the only thing she ever told me that she was sure to teach her boys was that church was not optional.

I know that Grandma was able to do what she did because she loved Jesus, and she showed her love for Him and for the people around her by meeting practical needs. Even her most treasured gifts to us were made for the most practical of reasons, to keep us warm. Those beautiful quilts she made for all of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are pieces of art, but they are not meant to hang on walls. When I tuck my three boys under them at night and crawl under one myself, I remember Grandma’s love for us and her acts of service that allowed her to do more for the Kingdom of God than she might have expected. I am reminded just to finish the next task that God places before me, to care for those He has put around me, to keep our family close and Jesus at the center. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to look back and see three godly sons, loving daughters-in-law, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who love Jesus and their families. Because in all of those years of just doing the next practical thing, those are the works of art Grandma created, more beautiful than any quilt.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Poem

by Calvin and Hobbes (with a little help from Auntie M)

If I went to the moon, I would bring my car
So that I could put it in a star.
The star would burn up the car
And the ashes would be bizarre.
I would also bring my sword
To fight for my lord
Against Count Bleck the Mean
The most dangerous villain you've ever seen.
I would of course win the fight
Unless Count Bleck had stronger might.
And then I would have to leave the moon
And fly back to Earth very soon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sending Love to a Friend

My dear friend in real life, Farrah, is remembering the birth and death of her firstborn son this week. She wrote a touching post about her grief and how she has grown over the past six years that I thought was worth sharing. If you have a moment, go and read it and leave her an encouraging comment. She is a beautiful woman and friend, and I have been blessed by her openness through these past six (and more) very difficult years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Because it's still Easter...

...and I've been thinking about this in the midst of grief and funerals and explaining death and resurrection to my kids. Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!

The Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostem

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My dear, wonderful Grandma passed away this morning. We were praying for God to take her, as she was in much pain and ready to go. Now she is well and whole and with Jesus and all of our family that has gone before, including my daddy. She will be missed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

7 Quick Takes-Spring and New Life

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Happy sixth day of Easter to you! One of the things that I love about being Anglican is that Easter lasts even longer than Lent. We get to celebrate right up to Pentecost. This blog had a great quotation from N.T. Wright about how Christians should celebrate Easter. I especially like the part about champagne after morning prayers for the first week. I have read this passage before, and I think Wright is spot on. Without the resurrection, Christianity has no meaning. So celebrate! And if you want to read a good article about why the resurrection matters, check out this article by a dear friend of mine that was in this month's Christianity Today.

The plants and trees are celebrating Easter by sending out lots of pollen. If you don't live in a place that has a lot of pine trees, you don't know the joy of walking outside to see everything coated in a layer of sticky yellow-green pollen. Really, you have no idea how horrible this stuff is. Here is a picture from a couple of years ago.

Yes, that is pine pollen coating my son's bum and the slide and our porch and cars and everything inside and out. That was after a good rain, too. This year, it was dry, record heat (90ish) and windy when the green scourge hit full force. Folks said it looked like fires everywhere with the clouds of pollen blowing. Let's just say I am glad we decided to trek over the mountains this week for Spring break. It is much better in Tennessee.

As nature is putting on a show of new life (my favorite right now being the dogwood blooms), it seems many folks are welcoming new lives into their homes. So many of my friends had babies and announced it on Facebook while I was away for Lent, and I am enjoying looking at pictures of their little babes. And this blogger and mother of five boys, whom I discovered just recently, just welcomed her first baby girl. It gives me hope...not that I am planning on trying for a girl or boy any time soon or that I am even sure what I would know what to do with a girl. But I am enjoying reading her stories of life with all those boys.

Speaking of boys, mine are growing like weeds, and I am taking full advantage of the warm weather to watch as they blossom into little boys. Even sweet Linus is working on growing up on me. He is walking so much now, though not all of the time, and becoming very independent. While he keeps his agreeable disposition most of the time, he is not afraid to let us know what he wants. He screams and points and throws a tantrum until someone figures it out, and then he instantly smiles and returns to his normally pleasant self. It is almost like two different babies.

All of this life all around makes it hard to accept the death that our family is facing. We are also in Tennessee because my grandma is nearing her death. Even in the grief, though, we know that she is going to enter new life and to prepare for new creation. She is ready to go and be with her Creator and see the face of Jesus. That is one of the beauties of the created order, isn't it, that nature in her yearly death and rebirth reminds us of the truth of our rebirth that happens even as we die.

I was able to do a bit of a family history interview with my Grandma last month. Now that I am unable to continue it, I am pondering the preserving of memories in the reality of eternity and new creation. There is so much that is lost over the years, and I do think we can learn a lot from the past. At the same time, we have become a culture obsessed with documenting our lives, taking thousands of photos and updating out status every day and tweeting or twittering or whatever it is that people do. I think we obsess so much over documenting and preserving memories that we don't actually make memories or really live in the present. It is like scrapbookers who are thinking about how they will turn an event into a scrapbook page even as they are participating in it and taking photos of it. Anyway, I just think that at some point we have to trust that all of those memories that we lose along the way are being held by God for us to pull up and remember in eternity.

And now, a lighthearted Calvinism to end this Quick Takes:

Nana (to Hobbes, who had just told her about a computer game): "Really? That's interesting!"

Calvin: "You're just pretending to be interested, aren't you?"

Nana: "No, Calvin, I really am interested."

Calvin: "No you're not. That sort of think doesn't strike your fancy."

The turns of phrase that boy picks up from reading. I love it!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Christ is risen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

He Has Done It

Psalm 22 (ESV translation)
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

All of today's daily lectionary readings from the Book of Common Prayer can be found here. They are powerful. I encourage you to read them.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stay with me...

...Remain here with me. Watch and pray.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-43, ESV)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"That's exactly why I'm not heavy into activities" (Or I wasn't, anyway.)

Bonus points if you know the movie I'm quoting. In this week's 7 Quick Takes, I promised a post about soccer.

I have sworn since Calvin was first born that I was not going to have my kids involved in a lot of activities and spend all of our time in the car. In fact, avoiding "minivanitis," as a friend puts it, is one of the reasons I am looking forward to moving to Asia. Now, I took piano lessons and spent nearly every day at the ballet studio as a teenager, so I am not sure why I am so opposed to the idea. Perhaps it's because I want to avoid living an over-scheduled life. Maybe it's because I don't want my children burning out before they reach middle school. Most likely it is because my rebellious nature causes me to dig in my heels every time I find myself taking one more step toward a conventional, suburban, American life.

So when I suggested to my husband that we sign Calvin up for soccer, he pretty much thought I was crazy. I pretty much thought I was crazy, too. Calvin had been kicking the ball around with Auntie M and really fell in love with it. When he found out that kids his age played real games on real teams, he was ecstatic. With great hesitation, we signed him up for the Spring youth league that started in March.

That was in January. Over the past two and a half months, we have become increasingly certain that our decision was actually a good one. Calvin spends a lot of time outside playing sports of all kinds by himself these days, kicking the soccer ball, hitting golf balls, asking us to pitch a softball to him so he can practice batting. But he is always by himself.

When Calvin competes with an actual person, his good sportsmanship skills leave a lot to be desired. An innocent board game like Candy Land often ends with the board turned over, pieces scattered, and Calvin stomping off, fists on hips, ready to punch anyone who gets in his way. Bike rides turn into screaming, hysterical meltdowns if Hobbes gets a head start and is in front of him for even one second. Never mind that Calvin always passes his brother in the end. He is a remarkably bad loser. Every time. I would say it's just a kid thing, but Hobbes is not like Calvin, not to that extent.

With this is mind, we headed to the fields today, Calvin in his sky-blue shirt, ready for the first game of the season. I wasn't expecting much, since the only practice had been sort of chaotic, but when the whistle blew, a miracle happened right before my eyes. Sure, the kids all sort of ran in a clump around the ball. And they kicked it out of bounds or into the other team's goal more than into their own. Players tripped their teammates. No one kept score, and there were not many rules to follow.

But Calvin ran and dribbled and kicked and tripped with the best of them. He ran hard, determination and joy mingling on his face. He celebrated when his team got a goal, whether he kicked it in or not. He gave high fives and listened to his coaches and actually tried to play the game with his team instead of in spite of them. When the other team scored, or he accidentally kicked it into their goal, those hands went to his hips for a minute, a scowl threatening on his face. Just as quickly, the ball moved in the other direction, and his scowl was lost in joy as he ran back down the field. When the game ended and the teams lined up to shake hands, he didn't just give a slap and a mumbled "good game" to each passing player. He walked down the line, huge grin covering his entire face, giving each player a hearty handshake as he went.

At the end of the game, two players on each team got the "MVP" award and received a coupon for a free ice cream treat. The idea is that each child will receive one by the end of the season. Part of me cringes at that, at the way our society wants to make everyone feel like a winner when I want my kids to realize that they will lose sometimes. Part of me hates that they don't keep scores at kids' games so that feelings don't get hurt. But most of me knows that minimizing competition is a really good thing for Calvin right now. His joy in the game might just be enough to move him a little closer to good sportsmanship, and if he can just learn to think less and move faster, he might even become decent at this sport.

Then again, this is Calvin, the king of overthinking. I don't really care how good he becomes, as long as he learns to lose and win with grace. Missed goals and all, when he ran to show me his award tonight, there wasn't a prouder mom on the soccer field. Then he showed me the certificate and said, with much disappointment, "Mommy, it just says a free waffle cone."

"Don't worry, Calvin, it means a waffle cone with ice cream."

And now I'm off to wash a uniform for tomorrow's game. Maybe afterward we'll celebrate with that ice cream cone.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

7 Quick Takes

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary. I'll probably be quiet around here next week. A blessed Holy Week to you.

So it may be Holy Week next week, but there is another religion that takes precedence in March around these parts. We are not much into basketball in the TwoSquare household, having a strong preference for the true Southern sport, football. The bookworm in me found this alternate Tournament of Novels much more exciting. There is a vote each day (starting yesterday) until it gets down to a champion, so go over to help decide if The Brothers Karamozov truly is the greatest novel ever. I am only disappointed that Absalom, Absalom didn't make it. I'm sure Rosa Coldfield would've made a great point guard.

Speaking of Holy Week, I am totally unprepared. I have done NOTHING with my kids for Lent this year other than going to an amazing Stations of the Cross that our youth pastor coordinated. It was a really meaningful time for all of us, with art and sensory experiences to tell the story of the Passion. But other than that, nothing. Any ideas for easy ways to at least make next week meaningful?

We did do a pretty good job of keeping up with our fast from artificial light after sundown. We were often out of town or at my in-laws', so it didn't always happen. But when it has, it has been really good. I think we will keep it up one night a week after Lent.

My personal Lent has not been much better than what I did with the kids. I always find myself suddenly wanting to be more serious about it right around now, a few days before Holy Week. But it is hard to practice self-denial and be in a somber mood when the world outside is already in full bloom. The boys brought me this lovely bouquet from Auntie M's house this week. See why it is hard to keep a Lenten mind in this part of the country in March?

So I think I am going to try just a couple of things from now until Easter Sunday. I am going to get up early to pray, and I am going to try to fast from sweets/refined sugar. I know I can't completely avoid sugar that is already in things without a major lifestyle change, but just avoiding sweet foods and sugar in my tea and such will be hard enough.

I also finally made a Lenten playlist for my iPhone this week. It has some classic Lenten hymns on it and some parts of Handel's Messiah, but it also has such classic Lenten selections as Good Friday by the Cowboy Junkies and The Weight as sung by Bob Dylan. Oh, and let's not forget Let It Be, Blackbird, and Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, along with some Johnny Cash, U2, and Indigo Girls for good measure. Seriously, they are all songs that speak of longing and loss and a need for redemption. It has helped to sober my mind, even as I drive past large patches of daffodils on the side of the interstate.

Soon Easter will be here, and we are deciding what we will take up for the season, as we have given up some things for Lent. I think Daddy TwoSquare and I are going to take up exercise, perhaps in the form of the Couch25K program. If you know me, and know how much I hate running, you may think this should have been a Lenten discipline. But I am at the point where I know any sort of commitment to exercise, especially with my husband doing it too, will make me happy in the long run. We will probably also do lots of feasting and enjoying family time outdoors...when we aren't at Calvin's soccer games, that is. But that is a post for another time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Revised Calvin Version

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, ESV)

Hobbes: I want to learn to read, Mommy.

Mommy: I could teach you if you want.

Calvin: I already know how to read. I could read when I was only three years old!

Mommy (trying to temper the pride coming from the backseat of the van): That's right, Calvin. Being that good at reading is a gift that God gave you. He definitely gave you the gift of language.

Calvin: Yeah, and he gave Hobbes the gift of making pouty lips.

(Hobbes sticks his bottom lip out as far as possible and bats his long eyelashes.)

End Scene.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Cake Wreck-Keeping It Real

So you don't think that this is normal. Here is a photo of Linus' first birthday cake.

Now that was a failure. With the insanity and travel around Christmas, I got into town late on the 23rd only to realize I needed a cake for the babe. I ran out and bought some mix and canned frosting. (All of my cakes are from mixes, by the way. I can't bake a cake to save my life.) I baked a lopsided two-layer cake with some hastily slapped-on frosting and M&M's for decoration. Then, in my sleep-deprived and over-busy state, I put it in the cake saver the wrong way. We basically had to dump it out upside down and turn it back over because the plate was wedged tight in the saver. Linus was so tired by the time we got around to celebrating his birthday that he didn't even want to look at the cake. Yep, that goes down the in loser mom category for sure. We didn't even get him a present. I'm just glad they don't remember their first birthdays. Maybe I should delete the photographic evidence?

So, thanks for the compliments, but without some internet images of R2 and this tutorial, I would have been lost.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Finding His Place

(photo credit to my youngest sister-in-law)

And so it is complete, that transition from baby to boy. So much growing up happens between three and four. I saw it with your brother, so I knew it was coming with you, too. Still, I am in awe to see it again, watching as your face and body grow long and agile and strong with the play of boyhood, seeing you grow more daring and independent, watching you run into childhood and leave the baby years behind.

I am glad, though, that you have not lost you sweet spirit and love of beautiful things as you enter the kingdom of boys. You are such a gift to us, Hobbes, and we too often forget to notice. You are kind and helpful and loving, you like to spend time just being with the people you love. Grandpa still seems to be your favorite. He bought you a big bag of candy for your birthday, and the way you beamed at him, your whole face smiling, made all of us glad. The only person who beats out Grandpa is your baby brother. You love Linus so protectively, going in to his crib to play with him when he is crying in the morning, bringing him toys, and feeding him while he sits in his high chair. You are a good big brother.

You have such a great imagination and enjoy making beautiful things, painting and blowing bubbles and sculpting play-dough. Your daddy and I got you art lessons for your birthday, and I can't wait to see you at work in the studio. If there is a paint brush out, you beg to have it in your hand. You have such a busy little mind, working to create and build scenes from computer games you play with Daddy or making up your own creations. You are comfortable in your own skin and mind now and can play without Calvin, creating your own worlds and stories.
You are entering your boy years with such a wonderful spirit, quirky sense of humor, and lively imagination, and my joy at the boy you are becoming far outweighs my sadness at your growing. It doesn't hurt that you still love your people enough to come back to us after a good adventure.

Go forth, dear Hobbes, to slay dragons and build cities and paint masterpieces and run barefoot in the wild. I know you will always be home for dinner and maybe, if I am lucky, for a few more years of cuddling at bedtime.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The R2D2 Cake

I'm no cake decorator, but this one turned out okay. I used a couple of ideas from other folks on the web. It was much easier than the space shuttles I made for Calvin's 4th and Hobbes' 3rd. Hobbes liked it, anyway...almost as much as the big bag of candy he got from Grandpa. We had a lovely birthday party for Hobbes and Auntie M today. The weather was warm and sunny and perfect for a picnic by the waterfall at the farm. Couldn't have been better.

Friday, March 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes-Just Barely In Time

I wasn't going to write at all today, but I thought I could at least share what is keeping me from writing. For more Quick Takes, visit Jen.

Hobbes turned four today. Four! When did that happen? I am so proud of the quirky, smart, sensitive, funny boy he is becoming, but I do wish he had asked for something easier than an R2D2 cake for his party tomorrow (pictures to come...maybe).

I just finished Hannah Coulter a couple of days ago. Wendell Berry did it again. Maybe it is just because I am an Appalachian woman descended from many Appalachian women, but I have never read a book that told the story of being a woman so truly and beautifully. I am pretty sure every woman should read this book, and I know I will read it again and again and again at different transition times during my life. I may write more about it later, but in the meantime, go read it.

While we are on the theme of Appalachia, I have been thoroughly enjoying my latest issue of Now & Then magazine. For those with any interest whatsoever in Appalachia, I can't recommend this little publication enough. It is always full of lovely stories and poems and essays and photographs. It makes me itch to try to get published...maybe one day.

Linus is just about to walk, finally! He is taking several steps in a row and getting more and more brave about it by the day. I am ready for it, as he is getting heavy to carry around, even in my Ergo. And he is adding stubborness to his charm. He is trying so hard to talk and learn signs. But when we ask him to sign "please" for something when doesn't want to, a battle of wills takes place, complete with tantrums, often ending in a standoff. It is a sight to behold. He is perfecting the pouty lip already. He's going to be an interesting one, this kid.

It's Spring! The daffodils and redbuds are adding color everywhere. New grass is coming up in the perfect St. Patrick's Day color, and the trees are full of buds, some ready to burst into bloom any day now. We have spent most of our daylight hours outside this week, playing in our (finally dried out) back yard, taking walks, riding bikes, and being at the in-laws' farm.

The farm. Sometimes I think we live such a lovely life. It is hard, as all lives are, but we get to go out to 70 acres of woods and fields and streams and play with goat kids and puppies. If all goes well, we hope to have our house on the market and be living there before too long, focusing more intently on getting to Asia.

And, yes, that move is still looming over me. So much to do and absolutely no time in which to do it. How to people with children get anything accomplished other than laundry and food and keeping kids alive? Really, I want to know.