31 August 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Treadmill

- While starting my treadmill routine today I looked up and saw The Price Is Right playing on the "mesmerizer." Wow, I use to LOVE that show when I was a kid. We don't have a mesmerizer at home, so when I'm walking on the treadmill, it sometimes fascinates me to see what's on the air these days. I am, indeed, mesmerized.
Bob Barker looks great for being older than the hills. And, surrounded by his bevy of Barbies, he was happy to award a banana-yellow Corvette convertable to a girl from Alaska. Oh, she was pumped! Now she'll be able to find her car in a blizzard.
The next bidding game featured an antique replica gas pump. "This 1950's era gas pump will be a delightful feature to any afficianado's collection," said Rod Roddenberry. "And that's not all, you're also bidding on Polident Denture Cleaner. For that fresh, clean denture smile."

Ok, it is beyond me what a gas pump and denture cleaner have in common, but hey, the show has been running since before my time, so they ought to know what they're doing. I wonder if we're meant to dump the denture cleaner in the holding tank for easy dispensing. Can't you just see that? "Park yer walker over here by mah "Dog-On Good" gas pump and let's git them dentures clean, Grandma. Put on this tarp and open wide, it'll jest take a jif." Something like that might be useful in a nursing home.
The next lot up for bid was an at-home batting cage and a box of kitty flea collars.
This is how I whiled away a good 15 - 20 minutes on the treadmill. Thanks, Bob and company.

- I just love athletic clothing! Steve gave me a gym membership for my birthday so I'm getting back into the swing of things. Of course, I can't very well show up for my date with Fitness in bleach-spotted, paint-splattered, bum-around-the-house clothes. So I trekked over to a local athletic store and picked out a few tops and shorts. Looking at all the different attire for all the different muscle-pumping activity is just plain inspiring. I felt healthier just standing there. They've got these great big posters of buff and slender people all greased up and running somewhere at full tilt. Or smiling and chatting as they wait for their fourth to sink his putt.
Or looking determined to leg press the weight equivalent to that of a small elephant. I want to be like that. I believe I once was somewhat like that. Long ago when I could eat ice cream for every meal.

also bought myself a new pair of running shoes. Despite not being a runner, I really find that they are the most comfortable shoes. So squishy and bouncy. I boing all over the place for the first few months in them and I absolutely love it. Feels good to my back, feels good to my feet. I sometimes clean the house in workout clothes, and it's amazing how I just want to clean and scrub and boing around with a toilet brush. Fitness clothing makes me feel healthier.

- Mary DeMuth recently posted a great video on her blog that features four guys (the bright red pants clued me in that they are probably Brits) doing this crazy dance routine on treadmills. They lined up 8 treadmills in alternating directions and made up an entire dance routine on them. It is so fun to watch! Ellie watched it with me, and so today on the way to the gym I wove a great yarn about how I had to get to my treadmill dance team practice. We are honing our dance for the world competition and I really need to work on the flip-over-the-handle, slide-under-my-partners-legs bit because we keep crashing into each other.
My kids were like, "No way, Mom! Do you really do that when we're playing in the childcare room? Do people
really flip all over the treadmills? No way, that's too dangerous, you'd never do that. Would you?" (Confidentially, no I wouldn't. Unless it was on accident.) I fessed up and told them I was going for a regular old fat-burning walk, but it strikes me that if a British guy in red slacks can do it, surely a Mom in her brand new fitness wear can do it too. Right?

- And after all was said, done, and thought, I plugged in my iPod, cranked up Chris Tomlin and got down to business. "Your Grace is Enough" is a great song to walk to! It's got rhythm, and a funky "thunka-whumpa-thunka-whumpa" bridge. I just love walking to that song, and I have to restrain myself from raising my hands and crying as I walk and worship. Perhaps I really
ought to join a treadmill dance team, and just quit trying to fight the urge.

Do you ever come up with a fantastic blog topic and then re-think it a few days later, only to realize it was no, not fantastic, but goofy?
Too late... I'm pressing "Publish Post."

30 August 2006

The Twilight Table

Those of you with weak stomachs, don't read this. Chris has another science report posted on her blog which is much more palatable.

****If Rod Serling were to host our homeschool science lab. ****

Consider if you will...
Two women, wanting the most out of their children's education, searching for opportunities to expand horizons, to push the envelope, to do what most school's will not do.

Welcome to, The Twilight Table. Otherwise titled, Remind Me Again Why They Do This?

We find our characters exchanging E-mails...

Chris: Hey Erin, we had to move a shrub in our front yard and found a Mockingbird nest in it. There are three eggs in there, and I've left it out in the yard for a few days, but I think the mother has abandoned it. The kids and I are going to dissect the eggs to see what a developing Mockingbird looks like, do you guys wanna join us?

Erin: Oh sorry, we're going to be out of town this weekend. But have fun learning and let me know how it goes!

Four days later...

Erin: Chris, how'd the egg dissection go? Did everyone manage to keep their cookies? ;)

Chris: Oh, we haven't had a chance to do it yet. Do you guys still want to join us? What are you doing after Bible Study on Tuesday? You can pack a lunch and we'll dissect them then.

Erin: Sure, that sounds like a lot of fun!

*Should it have occurred to them that these eggs had been abandoned for over a week already... and the implications of that?

Tuesday after Bible Study and lunch

Chris: Ok kids, c'mon in and we're going to see what's inside these eggs! Erin, would you grab the little bowl they're in? Its' right there on the counter top.

Erin: Oh, you took them out of the fridge already? I guess it's easier to dissect them when they're not cold.

Chris: Should I have kept them in the fridge? I didn't think about doing that.

*Ok, THAT right there should have given them pause...

Erin: Well, I imagine they're a little rancid by now. (As the three thumb-nail sized eggs wobble a bit in the bowl, a not-so-lovely scent wafts up.) Phew! Oh yeah, these guys are some bad dudes. Do you have something to take them apart with?

Chris: Nothing really. A pair of tweezers... oh wait, here's a handful of toothpicks, let's use these. I don't think the shells are very hard. Ok kids, gather round. Who wants to open up a Mockingbird egg and see what's inside?
Um, maybe I ought to put some paper down on the dining room table before we do this."

(Various responses ranging from jostling to get the best position, to running away squealing,"I'm NEVER going to watch you kill a baby bird!"
Yesterday's paper gets laid out, jostlers are settled and calm, squealers are fetched from the other room and forced to at least watch.)

Consider if you will...
Three eggs. Three willing dissectors armed with toothpicks. One two-year-old to hold at bay- she wants to squeeze the living daylights out of any and all rotten Mockingbird eggs. One slightly green conscientious objector. Two moms who have thought this through about as much as the 2 year old. But they have a camera!

- One egg not-so-gently placed on the newspaper by an excited 6 year old. It cracks. It wafts. They gag. One dissected egg. TWO slightly green people around the table. Check.

- One egg grabbed hastily by a 7 year old- it rolls, it drops on the cloth covered chair, it breaks, it oozes, they gag. The moms yelp, they run for paper towels, they try to salvage the cloth chair from rotten bird embryo. Two eggs dissected. FOUR green members on the lab team. Check. Check.

- One egg placed tenderly on the work table with maternal care. One 5 year old boy, toothpick at the ready, cracks it open. It oozes, it wafts, but they're all "used" to it now. They identify the beginnings of wings, legs, beak and eye. One mom snaps a few pictures. They all gaze and make an attempt to oooh and aaaah.

Two minutes later
They call it quits, wrap up the newspaper and dissection implements, congratulate themselves on sticking with the plan despite all odds, then go outside for some fresh air. Three dissected eggs. All team members still standing, all with cookies still residing resolutely in their bellies. Check. Check. And check.

Consider if you will...
This, my friends, is a succesful homeschool science lab.

29 August 2006

Homeschoolers Take Recess Too

I'll admit I'm a little cyber-dense . What exactly does "meme" mean? I have a secret fear that it is a word I'm supposed to know and I'm now proving my utter and complete uncouth.
Ah well, you had an inkling anyway, didn't you?

The girls and I spent yesterday in glorious freedom while all the other kids around us went of to, *cue ominous music*, their first day of school. My oldest 2 had appointments at the new pediatrician in the morning, and the doc said, "I wondered if you guys were homeschoolers, because I couldn't imagine a parent booking an appointment for the first day of school."
It was also Rebekah's 8th birthday yesterday, so I decided we would bask in the full glory of being homeschoolers and just NOT school in honor of her birthday.
We happened to be outside at 4pm when the neighbor kids' school bus dropped them off, and I made a point to count the # of hours they'd been at school. Yow. And they probably had to wear shoes the entire time. Those public school tyrants.

But it's not just the public and private schoolers that are back at it. Oh no, the homeschoolers are getting up early, cracking the books, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and taking recess too. Just today I got tagged during recess. And the tagger, Sprittibee, says I'm "it" until I answer.

Homeschool Meme

I just got a 4 book set called, The Lifestyle of Learning, by Marilyn Howshall. I am thrilled by the idea that learning is a lifestyle rather than a set of compartments with doors that mechanically open and close when Big Brother decides you've learned enough to pass the test with a C. I'm just beginning the book, but I'm hopeful since I am still rather ticked that the public school system squelched my thirst to learn.

My mom. A brief history: She began homeschooling my youngest brother and sister in 1989. It was my senior year of high school and she invited me to also come home and school with her. I believe my exact words were, " 'Shyaw RIGHT!" I laughed in her face.
Fast forward to 2002, when Erin is now a mother who wants to homeschool, and my mom became our biggest cheerleader. I don't have to prove that my kids are being socialized, or that they aren't inbred, or that they are on par with all the other "normal" kids their age. Mom, I LOVE you!
She is also a tireless learner herself. Any activity, project, field trip or hair-brained idea I come up with, I know Mom would be the first person to sign-up for it.

I'm a tightwad and don't usually buy something unless I know I'm going to use it. I do have a lot of hand-me-down curricula that take up a lot of room on the bookshelves. I'm not sure we're ever going to use it, but it kills me to get rid of it. 'Cause you just never know, right?

Other people. Like I said, I come up with a lot of hair-brained homeschooling schemes. Mom got us a giant pumpkin box from her grocery store to build a cathedral, many seminary friends have handily answered my theological and doctrinal questions that come up in our h'schooling day, I polled a large group of friends to recommend songs that draw them into worship so I could assemble a worship CD for our Honor Unit (which we still listen to all the time), my pastor's wife told me how to pester the librarian for an inter-library loan. It really does take a village where Erin's concerned.

I found a fun, free on-line typing tutorial. I never learned to actually type so this year Rebekah and I will learn how to do it right with the help of Dance Mat Typing.

A full-fledged pottery wheel and kiln.

A local homeschool lending library where I could:
- flip through all the different curricula that's out there so I can see, touch, smell, and taste it before I buy.
- maybe actually FIND some of the books recommended in my Konos guide! (Our library is large, but skinny on certain topics and titles.)
- borrow books with like-minded perspective from like-minded people.

Honestly, I'd rather talk with an average Joe/Jane who has actually used the stuff and is not simply trying to sell it. "How do you like it? What is good about it? What's not so good? Did you feel like it worked for you? Was it worth the money? Show me how it works." Catalogs rarely tell me that.


Gosh, I think I only know one other homeschooling blogger. Chris, you're on!

Instead, I'll leave you with a quiz.

What is the name of our homeschool?

1) Sponge Brain Academy
2) Hair-brained Academy
3) Teske School of Higher Learning
4) Green Grass, Quiet River School
5) Life Learners

23 August 2006

9 Out of 10 Relatives Agree

These three lovely gals recently contacted a passel of relatives to find out how they've been influenced by their family tree. We sent out a "Nature vs. Nurture" survey to see what our genetic roots look like. The results are in!

Nature (DNA)

Out of 24 responders:

- blue-eyed, right-handers predominate

- 4 people have dimples when they smile (I love dimples!)

- a whopping 8 relatives can raise one eyebrow. And Grandma Dollie can raise TWO, the talented gal!

-There are absolutely no twins, triplets, quadruplets or split personalities in our family. (That was a joke.) But we make up for it by passing down these family traits: belly fat, stubby fingers, tallness, bent pinky fingers, chin moles, hairiness, freckles, and the infamous "Wauer nose" (which Grandpa so handsomely displays below).

Now, wouldn't you like to meet my family in a dark alley?

Nurture (Upbringing)

Some interesting highlights:

- Popular childhood games and activities include tag, Kick the Can, soccer, baseball, basketball, Cowboys and Indians, Hide and Seek, riding Bigwheels (oh yeah!), Freeze Tag, bike riding, Red Rover, Ghost in the Graveyard, and putting pennies on the railroad tracks to watch the trains smoosh them. (Kimmy is an upstanding citizen these days)

-Family pets included the usual cats and dogs, a few ducks, a parakeet named Shakespeare, hamsters, rabbits and fish. Pet names were Pepper, Smokey, Rascal, Cutie, Tyke, Prezie, Chichi, Chumpy, Sasha, Charcoal, Snowball, Magillafuddy, Murphy, Bo, and "a stray dog dad named, Herpes, because we couldn't get rid of it."

- How is the world different today from what it was like when you were a child? "much more technological and complicated. Not the easy-going world." "Faster pace now. More crime and violence. More natural disasters." "Today my world is too busy with things that don't include enough family time." "Self-entertainment is the thing now. People have too much and do not take care of it, they just buy new." "Ability to travel long distances easily. Telecommunications." "Gasoline is much more expensive."

- Professional life. We're a family that has a secretary, car mechanic, Christian bookstore manager, RN in psychology, realtor, upholsterer, photographer/script-writer/video- producer, military officer, computer systems engineer, musician, carpenter, marketer, and a few parents (just to round things out with the hardest job of all!)

- Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable? "To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." "The importance of having a relationship with God and loving your kids." "To be a Christian that believes in the God of the Bible." "I learned how to work. Although I did not like it at the time it has taught me how to survive no matter what. That is a very valuable thing." "Think before you speak or react." "We would visit widows or shut-ins growing up. My parents still do this and I would like our family to as well." "To love and honor God." "unconditional love and support." "honesty and love."

- Famous relatives: Absolutely ZIPPO. So nice to be anonymous. I deal with the papparazzi enough as it is. (Seriously though, here's a website related to our family. B.G. Sulzle. Someone on my husband's maternal grandmother's side makes these medical needles up in New York. Could this be the rich uncle we've been waiting for?)

And finally, when asked what special items she remembered from her first house, Grandma Pat answered, "Mice."

22 August 2006

Between a Cross and a Fishbowl

These words are written by my friend, Mary, who has more reason than most to desire a nurturing, protective environment for her family. What was not readily granted to her, she seeks to provide for her three kids in abundance. In these words I see Mary as a wrestler- examining the motives that drive her parenting, evaluating her past, present and future through the lens of Jesus.

There is a place when our children are young, to protect them. But as they grow older, it is imperative we begin to introduce them to the real sea world out there. I know this is probably not a popular opinion. But I can say this: pioneer parents tend to swing to the other pendulum when raising their kids. If they grew up in a permissive home, they move toward a more controlling home and visa versa. We so long to see our children have the safety of a Christian home. But we need not aim too shortsightedly. Think of the long haul. Think of your children interacting with the world. And prepare them now. Teach them to swim in this crazy world. Maybe part of that teaching involves personal risk.

I wonder how many of us ALSO prefer to live insulated, safe lives in the fishbowl.

So, please, if you're homeschooling, don't hear my words as a criticism, but as an invitation to think something through.

So I took Mary's advice (feeling no criticism from her), and prayed it through for our family. We're starting our 3rd year of homeschooling soon so this is the perfect time for me to wrestle with these concepts. Here is what has come to my heart concerning our family this week.

Look at all the Pretty Fish in the Bowl
There is more than one way for a Christian parent to "fishbowl" themselves. For some, homeschooling is taking the easy way out by protecting our kids from all the perceived evils in the world. For others, using the public or private school system is living in the fishbowl because then we just don't have to deal with our kids. Either way represents a self-focus (read that: sin) on the part of the parents. Protectionism or pawning off.

As with anything I do in life, I need to be in constant communication with God as to whether or not homeschooling is still "on the table" for me. " God, is homeschooling the right thing for our family this year? Are you moving us into another area of yieldedness? Is it time to put myself aside and send my kids to learn under someone else? Am I homeschooling out of fear that the public school is going to 'ruin' my children?"

News flash to self: I'm ruining them pretty well on my own. I am a sinner. I can do nothing BUT ruin them in my own flesh, so how is that different from what the state-run system is going to do them?
Another news flash to self: Praise be to God who can bring beauty from ashes, life from death, kisses from tears, and joy from weeping! And turn students into scholars, munchkins into missionaries despite the ruin imposed by their frail parents and/or the local school down the road. :)

Parenting is a Cross
"If any man would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

I have to ask God, "What is the cross you want me to carry this year?" ALL schooling choices (and all of parenting, really) contain their fair share of crosses to bear. For me, the question is not which cross is better or holier, but which cross has my name on it, and am I willing to bear it and follow Christ?
New flash to self: My cross is not entirely the same as my neighbor, Michelle's, cross. Nor is it completely the same as the cross my mother bore. Nor is it identical to any other cross throughout history and creation. My cross is specific to me, reflecting my weaknesses, the areas in which I fail to trust my savior, goofy ideas I have about the way life ought to be, etc.

I like time to myself. I like to read MY books, do MY art projects, take MY naps, keep MY schedule. I have all those paper lanterns I keep writing about. When are they ever going to get done? One might go so far as to call me selfish. (Big shocker there, I know.) Plus, I don't know how to teach math, science, history, grammar, phonics, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness or self-control. I need someone to teach those things to me! I am so truly inadequate for the task at hand. Sending my children to the "professionals" sounds pretty good. But Jesus has handed me a cross with my name on it, and part of that cross (at least this year) is to come out of myself and my interests to learn to consider myself as nothing more than a servant. Oh man, that's a hard cross. And I don't want to do it.

As to being in a homeschool fishbowl, the world and all its ugly baggage has an easy enough time finding my doorstep. It often even creeps into my bedroom and snuggles up close all night long. The sin that oozes out of my mouth and pores first thing in the morning is proof that my own home can be just as spiritually treacherous as the elementary school playground and the carpool or bus route. Oh yes, there's quite enough sin floating around this household of 5.

Where the Cross and Fishbowl Meet
I vividly remember being a 6th grader riding the bus to school at 7:30am, and watching the 8th graders getting high on White Out, pot, and model airplane glue. I remember one nameless, faceless girl whose mother actually came to school and beat up her own child over who-knows-what. (I assume this qualifies for Mary's description of a "real sea world.") I saw all kinds of "red light district" behavior going down all around me, and yet didn't have a mentor there to tell me a) this is wrong, b) here's what's wrong about it, c) here's what God says in response to what's happening, d) here's how you need to respond, as a Christian.

The school staff was certainly not helping me make sense of these things. My parents, well, I never told my parents about what transpired at my middle school. I thought they were fuddy duddies. I thought I was too cool and too mature to need their help sorting this stuff out. For whatever reason, I did not have a repoire with my folks that enabled me to come to them for direction.
Now it's my turn to be the parent and who will teach my children the proper way to respond to little red pills being passed around the back of the bus? Or how to address the name calling and potty talk 5th graders might use to bully a kindergartener? Or what to do with that one boy that just doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the group? I fail to see how a group of 28 nine year olds can be their own authority on what is wise, what is moral, what is worthy, what is just. Which leads me to a rallying point for all of us parents...

Parenting is the Point
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 lays it out for us as parents, no matter which schooling option we choose, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..." The point is, you must be involved in giving your child the framework to view the sin and decay of this world. The tools my daughters need to understand how to respond to the ocean of worldliness are meant to come from none other than me.

I have yet to read this verse, "Verily I say unto thee, homeschool thine children. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if thou homeschoolest thy children." Nor have I come across this one, "The true fruit of righteousness is this, send your child to the school of the state. By this, your faith in the Lord is evidenced. "

But I DO find this in the Scriptures...

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139: 23-24

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

And I love this one, in The Message translation:

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Romans 12:1-2

I just find that liberating! There is a certain homeschooling culture and it is not always about the business of God. There's a send-your-kids-off-to-school culture, and there are unsavory elements there too. Am I offering my everyday, ordinary school choices to the Lord? Am I listening to what He says about it? Am I obeying what He says, ignoring popular opinion? Do I make opportunites to teach my children to walk in the way of wisdom, to love as Jesus loved, to stand for righteousness and run from the counsel of the wicked? Whether or not I teach them geometry, Latin and dramatic reading or hire someone else to do so, am I parenting them? If I embrace the role of parent, I'm good.

My parenting will always have a touch of fishbowlness to it, I'm afraid. But my prayer is that this year I will willingly take up my cross and follow Him. *

*Which might mean you won't see me around Blogger a whole lot. Unless God multiplies my time. A girl can wish, can't she?

16 August 2006

I'm Not a Writer, But

I'm pitching a novel on SoulPerBlog. Check it out and tell me if you think they'd go for it over at Random House.

15 August 2006

Read a Book, Win a Prize

My children participated in the county library's reading program this summer. I haven't done one of these since I was in, like, 3rd grade, and back then my big prize for participating was a set of certificates shaped like a train on which I could write the titles of all my completed books and tape it around my bedroom wall. That, and a discount coupon to Pizza Hut.

Frederick County Public Library in 2006 has come a long way. The girls had all summer to read their books and perform various other library/reading/research related tasks. They got prizes just for signing up for the program, prizes for completing each level, prizes for finishing the program, prizes for having blue eyes, prizes for breathing... Granted, the prizes consisted of pencils, notepads, stickers and temporary tattoos, but they literally got prizes EVERY time they darkened the door of the children's section.

The one prize drawing that really convinced me to sign them up was this: A weekend trip for four to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Europe. Wow. That ain't no discount coupon to Pizza Hut! Turns out I could even enter my 2 year old for the drawing. (She had to actually complete the program before her name went in the hat. I was honest, I read TO her. And it was perfectly legal.) I figure our chances are about 3 in 4,000. (We're studying the Colonists this fall, so a free trip to Williamsburg would be perfect. 3 in 4,000 is a lot better odds than 0 in 4,000, ya know.)

Tonight we took our free coupons for Taco Bell (from the reading program) and ate soft tacos before we headed off to use our free passes to the Frederick Keys baseball game (from the reading program). I still have to plan a date to use our free passes to the Baltimore Zoo (from the reading program) and double coupons for a soft serve ice cream at Chik-Fil-A (from the reading program).
More prizes awaited them when we went to the Reading Club Completion Party (only those who've finished the program get invited- ooh la la). A magician, italian ice served buffet-style in the park, more pencils, more tattoos, more stickers and bookmarks.

I'll be opening up an office supply store here soon. No matter that everything is emblazoned, "Reading Rocks!" And if my 2 year old happens to win the grand-prize drawing, you'll be sure to read about it. Who knew reading could be so lucrative?

14 August 2006

To Life!

My Dad
Ellie- age 5

I've been tagged again! This time. it's by a lovely gal I don't even know personally, Heather. Go read her blog. You're sure to enjoy it. Since she and I have never met, and since I just love her blog title and the volumes it speaks about her embrace of life, I now dub this list, L'Chaim.

1. A friend who has blessed me: Jeni Ward. So fun, such a cheerleader to her family, so always-believing-the-best. She is an example of so many things that I am not. She is a helium balloon of a mom. I am usually the Nazi parent.
Here's another way she blesses me- her tireless pursuit of holiness. This girl's motto is: "Change Me, Lord." I can't help but be challenged when I'm with to her.

2. An unexpected gift: I just had a birthday last month. 34. Receiving gifts on my birthday is not a huge deal for me. I'm just happy to be alive and loved by somebody. But I was so blessed by some unconventional and unexpected gifts this year! My daughters gave me a frisbee and a Milky Way bar, my husband got me a membership to the local gym (I'd asked him to take me to Italy, but practicality won out. Go, you chicken fat, go away!), Jeni sent me a children's book she enjoyed reading to her kids (and she loves my kids so much that she would steal them from me under cover of darkness and read them this book too), Sandi somehow figured out how to print a great picture of my Soul Per Suit friends on the back of a deck of cards- Soul Per Suit is our art group that uses playing cards as a spiritual journal, so this was such an awesome gift!), Rhonda is making me my very own customized homeschool planning book (oh bliss!), and my Mom took me on the most glorious girl's date ever- an exhibit of Venetian Renaissance painting at the National Gallery of Art, watercoloring in the cafe, and a yummy lemon tart to top it all off.
Oh yes, I am alive and somebodies love me. Love me very well.

3. A kind word shared with me recently: "I love you." Such a simple phrase. Something you tend to forget to say to your spouse when you're in the thick of raising young'uns. Steve said, "I love you" last night. Now, isn't that kind?

4. Something that makes me stop and praise God: The variety of the Body of Christ. Remember that bit about being a Nazi parent? I can't tell you how thankful I am that there are others out there that have the spiritual gift of mercy. And administration. And prophecy. And service. Praise be to God that He has created each of us to compliment one another as His beautiful Bride. That guy really knows what He's doing.

5. Something I'm looking forward to: Eating at Pappasito's again someday.

6. A particular part of me I'm pleased with: I like that God made me creative. It seems so boring to not ever have a hobby or an interest to pursue. 'Course, if I was a boring person, I'd probably be content to be boring and would never know that I WAS bored. Or boring, for that matter.
(I do not like that I am verbose and meandering. ;) Brevity and specificity are such beautiful skills to own.)

7. Something in my life that I wanted but never expected: Living in Europe.

8. A place that moved/moves me: The communion table. Seeing my sin juxtaposed with Christ's holiness is a picture of infinite grace. For this, human language is inadequate.

9. One thing/person that always makes me smile: My brother, Ben.

10. Most recent "love note" from God: Sitting outside a few weeks ago. The weather was gorgeous. nature was bustling with activity, God and I were having a great conversation. Just to sit there with Him and enjoy His creation together was like being in Eden. He said, "See? This is just a small taste of what I created for us. This isn't anything compared to what things could have been like. And because of my love, it's going to be even better in the end. Wait and see. You're gonna love it!" Hey, I already love it. Thanks, God.

I'm tagging: Well, if you're not sick of me yet, I'll tag you. But then how would I know if you are sick of me unless you leave me a nasty comment? And then I'd just delete it anyway. I call an "All Play."

02 August 2006

Book Tag

I'm coming out of vacation mode to play book tag with my friend, Kelley.

1. One book that changed your life: Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts -Steve Turner. This is a must-read for anyone who loves Jesus and loves the arts. It's high time...

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls - Gary L. Thomas

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: How to Cook and Build Absolutely Anything out of Sand and Seaweed. Free bonus gift included with purchase: Super-size, all-weather propane lighter and Swiss Army knife!

4. One book that made you laugh: A Year in Provence- Peter Mayle. Being a Westerner (British or American) and living in France lends itself to many curious, head-scratching-in-wonderment, occasions. I read this when we'd been in Paris for the first 2 weeks of our 5 month stay. Everything he wrote about was happening to me!

5. One book that made you cry: Meet Addy -from The American Girl series. I read this with my 3 and 5 year old daughters. Imagine being a young slave girl on a Southern plantation and watching your father and older brother sold like cattle. Then that same night, running away with your mother under cover of darkness, but being told at the very last minute that your baby sister is NOT coming with you because her sweet baby noises would give you away. Imagine reading this when your hormones are pumping at 8 months pregnant.

6. One book that you wish had been written: How to Cook and Build Absolutely Anything out of Sand and Seaweed.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Couldn't think of a book off the top of my head, so I'm going with a movie. U-Turn. This is everything I wish a movie was NOT. Psychedelic, sleazy, incestual, brutal. All-around ick.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Eat, Pray, Love -Elizabeth Gilbert. I really love her writing style. She is a lost soul searching for "fulfillment and enlightenment" in all the wrong places. If you can get over that, it's an enjoyable book.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Desiring God -John Piper. Jeni keeps telling me to read it. Guess I better get on it. I think I might even own it already. (sheepish grin)

10. Now tag five people: Rhonda, Erica, Mary, Abby, Christine, Greta... I'm feeling like a party though- if you are reading this blog and have one of your own (and haven't already been tagged) YOU'RE IT! Just give us a "heads up" in the comment section.