Thursday, March 31, 2011

Puzzling ~ Part two

     So. When Joe came home today, I happened to be soothing his fussy brother, so he said, "Love you mommy. Come in the dining room when you can." When Max was finally settled, I put him in his high chair and we headed to the dining room. As we chatted about Joe's day, his science test, indoor recess, and all the rest, I watched as he just....worked. I would pick up a piece and he would say, "Up there, to the left."  Amazing. He steadfastly worked until every piece was in place. Here is his creation:

     I have always loved puzzles, but will admit that this one was pretty difficult. What a great time this was with my son. My own little puzzle just waiting for all of the pieces to fit....waiting for help from mommy, daddy, and God to help him recognize his uniqueness, his greatness, his heart. Oh what fun we will have!


Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.
YODA, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

     Joe, our nine year old, is, and always has been, a puzzle. From the moment labor began, he had his own will, his own idea as to when he was going to make his entrance. No matter that contractions would get to 1 minute apart.....and then slow to 20 minutes apart. No. He was going to enter the world when HE was ready. 
     When he was two years old, he received foam alphabet and number puzzles from my Grammie. She said, "I know that he isn't ready for them, but you can start to teach him the shapes." Well. I started to push out the puzzle pieces and spread them around. He then picked them up and started to turn them over and place them over the correct spot. To see my Grammie stare in wonder at her two year old great-grandson was magic. She looked at me in awe and said, "I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Wow."
     Joe still loves puzzles and as we were working on the one of Washington, D.C., I sat a moment and just watched. Watched as he would look at a space and then, as if by magic, would find just the right piece.

     He worked on it for over an hour and a half. Amazing for someone who is sometimes unable to sit for 5 minutes!

     Puzzling, I tell you, these creatures that are gifted to us from God. We try so hard to fit them into a certain idea of what we think they should be.... and yet if we just watch. Observe. Marvel. We will hear clearly what God is trying to tell us. For I believe that they are here, in fact, to teach us. To show us what it is like to have that child-like faith that we have sometimes forgotten. We want to put God in a box, a book, or a church, and fail to remember that he is everywhere. Ready to listen. Ready to show himself. Through the eyes and hearts of our children.
     This is what I am pondering today:

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

     I know that my faith now, as an adult, is much deeper, more molded than it was when I was a child. But I also recognize that when I was a child, there was no doubt. There was no fear. There was just faith and trust. I want to get back to that. Get back to the way I could so easily just believe without this huge world screaming. I also want that for my children. To help them to just....believe.
     So even though I am still sometimes puzzled by my dear Joe, and have to sort through all of his (and my own!) emotions and thoughts, I look to my faith in my God, and my trust in Him to help me through. For Joe is my child, my gift, my heart. How wonderful a puzzle I have been given!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daybook ~ Missing Spring

FOR TODAY ~ Tuesday mid-morning

Outside my window...
Dogwood blossoms and oak tree branches are rustling in the soft (chilly!) breeze, and I am a little concerned about the seeds and plants that I so lovingly put in the ground last week. Mama and daddy robin are keeping watch over their nest, and several goldfinches, nuthatches, and black-capped chickadees have come to feed.

I am thinking...
Where are you Spring? You were so welcome and warm last week. I miss you, so please come back soon....

I am thankful for...
My cousin Kellie who so lovingly took care of my baby these last two days while I went to the dentist, and who also took care of my son Joe when he came home from school. (I am also grateful for a fabulous dentist...and Novocaine.)

From the learning rooms...
Although we haven't "officially" started to home school, we are nevertheless always searching for knowledge and have been researching certain facts about the Titanic (Joe's latest interest) and music from Africa. We are also going over the Stations of the Cross and delving deeper into Lent.

From the kitchen...
On a sleety, cold Sunday, cousin Nicole, with Joe's help, made special "banana dippers". So yummy and thoughtful.

Later tonight, we will have homemade macaroni and cheese (perfect soft comfort food), roasted sweet potato fries, and Southwest turkey burgers....

WAIT! ~ just got a phone call from Aunt Mary Anne (Cousin Kellie's sweet mama). She is going to bring us dinner tonight.... just because. Homemade chicken noodle soup, broccoli casserole, and pork tenderloin. I love my family, and am so grateful for their love and generosity!

I am wearing...
Comfy brown corduroys, and a soft cable-knit sweater. Oh. And my sweet cat, Sasha, is curled up on my lap. ;)

I am creating...
A blue multi-colored baby hat for a dear friend. (Cheating a little using the "Nifty Knitter" set...But hey, at least it's creating!)

I am going...
a little crazy because I haven't been able to cross things off of my list as quickly as I had hoped...Trying, therefore, to relax, and get into the rhythm of it instead of fighting it. Not easy for me to do. At. All.

I am (still) reading...
The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. A fascinating look at three women, their faiths, and how they struggle to explain life to their children after 9/11. Beautiful. Intense. Uncomfortable. Necessary.

I am hoping and praying...
That my heart and mind will settle down some. Feeling a little anxious as I think about all of the things that need to get done, have to happen, or that I feel that I must do. Really, what I want to do is to be able to just move through life gracefully, and instead, feel like a clumsy ox. I pray for the grace to relax, to breathe, to enjoy. (This is indeed a recurring prayer of mine...)

I am listening to...
Baby Max's soft breathing as he naps, the purring of Sasha, and Mozart.

Around the house...
I am ashamed to say that I see some clutter piles and areas that need to be truly attended to.

One of my favorite things...
Is the way that Joe said, "Mommy. You really are just. Cool. And kind of funny." Because truthfully, I really don't feel that most of the time! I guess that it was because I was able to laugh at myself for not putting the puzzle pieces together right last night. I had told him that the Novocaine went to my brain. ;)

I am pondering...
the idea that I always want to have my home "guest ready". Tom and I want to have a loving, warm, inviting space that says, "come on in and stay awhile". Lately, I realize that no matter how clean my home is, it is never good enough for me. Because I see all of the dirty spots. All of the mess that I just didn't get to. However, when I really think about it, our home is always guest ready because our hearts are always open and ready. Much like our God, who is able to look past our "dirty spots" that we haven't cleaned yet, he is always ready to listen. So I am going to try really hard to not stress about the little things, and instead, be ready and open for anyone who happens to want to come and stay awhile.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Root Canal  ~ done! (well, 90% done anyway..)
Help Joe with homework.
Snuggle with Max.
Create healthy meals for my family.
Call and write a few friends who need encouraging.
Attack the clutter piles.
Laundry. Laundry. Repeat.

Picture thought

Head on over to:
for more inspirational thoughts! :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waking Life

Teaming up with Gypsy Mama again today for Five Minute Friday. Write for 5 minutes, no editing (yikes!), and then link back to her site. :)  Have fun and join in!


As my mind slowly comes back from my dreams, I awaken to the sounds of those that I love. My husband breathing next to me, the soft coos of my baby, and the footsteps of his older brother coming down the stairs to greet us. As Joe snuggles in with daddy, I rise and make my way to get Max... and am greeted with a smile that is just for me. Mama. Mommy. Little hands reaching, ready to be held, to be cradled, to be loved....

Joe moves over to make way for us, and suddenly, morning has become a time of remembering what we are here for. What God has given to us. What a gift this life is! Although there are many things to do, we take a little extra time to just be.... Waking up to this. To life. With each other.


Thursday, March 24, 2011


Last night, I was reminded, in small ways, of how very much I am needed by all of the creatures in my household. The littlest one, Max, had a hard time settling down, which is very unusual. As he thrashed and whimpered in my arms, I recognized that awful process of cutting a new tooth. What pain, what discomfort he must have been feeling! After rubbing his gums to help ease the pain as best as I could, I sat in the glider in his room and sang softly (and maybe a tad off-key) "Seek Ye First", "Father I Adore You", and our favorite, "You Are My Sunshine". Slowly but surely, he settled in, softly rubbing his little hand on my face, and began to drift off. What a gift! To be able to rock my baby to help ease his pain, with nothing but sheer love and concern as the balm, it made me feel so connected to the multitude of women over the ages who have done the same thing. Even when we are tired. Even when we are physically, mentally drained. We are graced with the ability to continue to give. Thanks be to God.

And so, after I gently laid him down, I heard the quiet plea of, "Um. Mommy. Can you please give me a backrub?" This, from my darling Joe who wasn't all that crazy about the current thunderstorm raging around us. In fact, I was surprised that he hadn't snuck down to our bed...but then again, he too had his own tooth issues. His latest tooth under the pillow waiting for the gift of that elusive fairy. Guarding it maybe? Who knows. As I settled in on his bed, gently rubbing his back, he said, "Exactly why does God have to be so loud?" Hmmm. Always the most interesting questions from this one, the most sensitive to sounds and light. So I said, "Well darlin', sometimes he has to be loud so that we can hear him in the quiet."


 "Mommy. That makes a little bit of sense." Whew. Crisis averted. And when I thought about it, it actually does make a little bit of sense. There is a great power that is bigger than ourselves. So big that He is able to light the entire sky with electric roads and make our homes tremble with the resounding sound. How much, then, is He able to light our lives and make our hearts tremble? If we could just take time to listen....

As I slowly made my way downstairs, looking forward to reading a little and listening to the storm, I hear, "Honey, can you come and see me?" My husband Tom was in the sunroom reading, the soft light of the lamp often punctuated by the lightning. And there, I realized, was also our dog and our cat. All snuggled together, waiting for me. Waiting for my love, my heart, and my attention. How good it is to be needed. To be loved. To be trusted. To be trusting.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On turning 9 years old...a letter to Joe

Dearest Joseph Nicholas,
     On March 19th, 2002, your daddy and I joyfully welcomed you into our lives, our hearts, and our souls. Truly, you were a dream come true. How we had longed for you, and indeed prayed for you until we thought our hearts would break. I know that you know the story of your birth, but daddy and I still find it interesting that I went into labor on St. Patrick's Day, and it wasn't until St. Joseph's Day (um. yes. that is 2 DAYS later) that you decided to let go of the warmth and enter into the shocking cold of life outside the womb. Oh we had several names picked out, but it all came clear as soon as you were born. You were our Joseph. Our Joe. (And as Aunt Ra-Ra nicknamed you, our Joe Nicky as well.  ;)  ) You were going to come when you were ready. That's that determination factor that we see so clearly. More on that in a moment.
      I want you to know how much I appreciate your sensitive nature. Your love of animals is so sweet, and I am sure that if daddy would let us, we would have a house full of them! ;)  (Well, all except the chickens and sheep. We still can't convince him on that, can we?!) More importantly, I am so in awe of your love for your little brother. It is simply amazing how much you love him, and truly, how much he loves you. I tell you, he knew your voice right away because of all of that time that you read to him while he was in my belly. Being a big brother fits you perfectly, and you are sensitive to his needs. Oh how I know how that sensitivity can be heartbreaking, too. When our hearts are so big, it is hard to not let the words that people say to us affect us. We take them to heart. We hurt, and the wounds are gaping and sometimes hard to fix....
     But what I see in you, also, is an incredible sense of determination. You work at something until it is done right. (Even when we tell you that it is O.K. to stop.) You keep going. You believe. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...what do we do? we swim. swim... Good ol' Dory!)  The questions that you continually ask us about our God and our faith challenge daddy and I to grow in our own faith as well. Did you know that? Did you know that you teach us, too? This faith journey is made richer because you are here. Remember that whenever someone says something that hurts. I know that I can't take that away, but I can help you through it. You are my heart, dear one.
     Never give up, kiddo. Know that daddy and I are here. Always. All ways. May your life continue to be blessed with love, and may you know that you are wanted. You are loved. You are cherished.

All my love,
Mommy XOXO

     Braving the waves....

Being a great big brother....

Just taking it all in....    

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Waiting

I've linked up with with, and am following The Gypsy Mama’s advice and spending 5 minutes once a week to “take the chance to just write, and not worry if it’s just right or not....head on over there to see what others were pondering ;)
On Waiting
Thinking back to this time last year, I was joyfully expecting (waiting!) for our dear son to continue growing and stretching and moving in my belly. Oh how we waited for him! Our firstborn was already eight years old, and we just weren't sure that this new baby, this blessing, would ever BE.
Gut-wrenching, piercing, horrendous pain is what I think of when I hear the word waiting.....for it took us 6 years for our first child, and 8 years for our second. I was indeed waiting for my houseful of children when I was first married..... But my body knows that I don't have time to wait for another 8 years.... so my prayer has again become, "Please God, help me to bear this waiting with patience. My heart cannot hold it all. I need your peace. Your guidance. Your strength."  Will we be blessed with another little one?! We'll have to "wait in joyful hope" for it........
Whew. O.K. So that was fun, and I am so very glad that I found this link. Please feel free to comment and let me know that you stopped by... (This is only my second post, so I know it's rather bare!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Small steps....

As I begin the season of Lent, I pray for the grace to just be. In this big, loud, crazy world of ours, I usually end my day with my ears ringing and my heart yearning for peace. As I pray, I have a hard time shutting out the noise and I can only imagine what my children are feeling and experiencing. I have to remind myself to slow down, listen with my whole heart, and breathe. How I usually take breathing for granted! When I am able to get quiet enough to hear the gentle rhythm of my baby's breathing, then I know that I am hearing the whisper and grace of my God.

I invite you to walk with me, Elizabeth, and others as we venture towards grace.
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