Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Once

in my life I'd like to be too tall and too skinny to find a single pair of jeans that fit me after searching through eight stores.

Just once.

Is that really asking too much?

For now, I guess I'll have to settle for being the mother of such a person. Sigh. More jean shopping will continue tomorrow. Wish us luck.

A Great Man, Not Just a Great Football Player

I knew it had to happen at some point, but I was hoping for one more season.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4433305

Thanks #54!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So I Don't Forget

"You wonder why God doesn't remove temptation from your life? If He did, you might lean on your strength instead of His grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you: His grace is sufficient for your sin.

"You wonder why God doesn't remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because He wants you to love like He loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. So what if you aren't everyone's hero? His grace is sufficient for your self-image.

"You wonder why God doesn't alter your personality? You, like Paul, are a bit rough around the edges? Say things you later regret or do things you later question? Why doesn't God make you more like him? He is. He's just not finished yet. Until he is, his grace is sufficient to overcome your flaws.

"You wonder why God doesn't heal you? He has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul and a perfected body. His plan is to give you the soul now and the body when you get home. He may choose to heal parts of your body before heaven. But if he doesn't, don't you still have a reason for gratitude? If he never gave you more than eternal life, could you ask for more than that? His grace is sufficient for gratitude.

"Wonder why God won't give you a skill? If only God had made you a singer or a runner or a writer or a missionary. But there you are tone-deaf, slow of foot and mind. Don't despair. God's grace is still sufficient to finish what he began. And until he's finished, let Paul remind you that the power is in the message, not the messenger. His grace is suffcient to speak clearly even when you don't.

"For all we don't know about thorns, we can be sure of this. God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. And if it takes a thorn for him to make his point, he loves us enough not to pluck it out.

"God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. The parachute is strong and the landing will be safe. His grace is sufficient."


In the Grip of Grace - Max Lucado

Your Grace is Enough

Sunday, at church, I was talking with a friend who had previously invited me to join her small group in the fall. I had asked her when the get togethers would resume when she got all excited and shared with me that they were having a end-of-summer picnic and pool party that afternoon and immediately invited me to join them.

I accepted her offer, but inside I was full of trepidation. Would I know anyone else there? Wouldn't I rather meet everyone when the group meetings began again instead of crashing some picnic I wasn't even prepared to attend? Would anyone else be as eager to see me and to have me there as this friend was to invite me?

I needn't of worried, of course. This friend allowed me to follow them to the picnic lest I get lost on the way. And the moment we arrived, she introduced me one by one to all the other members of the group that were present. When it was time for lunch, she handed me a plate and welcomed me at the table even though I had nothing to contribute to the meal. She asked me questions and brought me into their conversations, explaining the things I didn't know and clarifying the questions I had.

At the suggestion of another friend at church, I just picked up my first Max Lucado book at the library, In the Grip of Grace. In one chapter, Mr. Lucado is talking about Christ, as he takes our hand and leads us to the Father. I can imagine entering Heaven with trepidation. Is this gift for real? Is God going to change his mind when he has seen my past? Will His grace really be enough? And then I see Christ, coming to greet me with a hug and reassurances. He takes me by the hand and personally introduces me to God - not a formal introduction, but an excited, eager, introduction of a dear friend to his father!

I am one of these people Mr. Lucado is writing about. I think, yes, this grace is a wonderful idea, but really? Really? I mean, for some people, sure, they are good and wonderful and have loved God since the beginning of their life, but me? I've made some mistakes. Some captial-M Mistakes. I don't know if this grace thing is going to be enough.

It is. It always will be. It always was. Before I was created, before I ever sinned, God planned His grace for me. For ME!! (psst! For you, too!)

I Peter 1:18-20: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."

THIS JUST IN!!!

Flash is coming home on Sunday!!!!!

PRAISE THE LORD!!!

(My goodness have I missed this kid this summer!)

Top Ten

I texted Flash tonight and asked him to please come home as no one will play Yahtzee with me here. He texted me back to say that playing Yahtzee would be the fourth thing he did when he got home.

I got to thinking and sent him my top ten list of things Flash will do upon his return home:

1. walk the dog
2. clean the cat box
3. eat everything
4. lost 20 Yahtzee games to Mom
5. cook dinner all week
6. rebuild the K'nex thingy George broke.
7. eat again
8. do all the reading you should have done this summer
9. throw Jonah (the cat) down the hall
10. tell Mom you missed her.


His reply:

1. play with the dog
2. be glad I'm back
3. leave all my stuff right where it will drive you wacko and then move it.
4. win 50 Yahtzee games
5. Call my two best buds
6. take the dog out
7. tell the cat to leave me alone
8. unpack an astounding amount of STUFF
9. reply to the 5236 texts Dad sent me during that time
10. sleep in my own bed.

My message back? "Love the list! (mainly because there is no mention of food consumption in your top ten!)"

His reply: "That's items 11-15."

His next text: "And 16-20 is telling my mom I missed her and all about my summer."


Oh how I miss my boy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Visitor Returns

There was a note at my door when I arrived home, along with the books and DVD's he had borrowed the other night. He wondered if maybe I would want to watch a movie together later.

I welcomed him down but declined to watch the movie he brought with him (I didn't think it was appropriate despite it's rating).

He wanted to tell me about the first day of football practice - of how they have to get down on one knee and look the coach in the eye when he speaks, and how they only get ten second water breaks and how today they practiced at his old middle school but tomorrow they get to practice at the new one. And he pulled out last year's yearbook so I could see his school picture (which he didn't like but smiled when I said it was a great picture) and to show me the picture of the girl that he likes. He answered my questions about her and told me a little about their relationship. He likes her but she turned him down. He still texts her, though and he thinks maybe she does like him a little. It was cute and innocent and sweet.

He walked the wet puppy with me and then spent some time looking for more books in Flash's room. When he emerged I told him I'd be busy tomorrow night but perhaps if he wanted to come visit again on Wednesday, I would be around. He said goodnight and thanked me again for letting him take more books with him. I thanked him for sharing his yearbook and movies with me. As he left he told me he had straightened up Flash's bookshelf. I thanked him for that gesture and he responded by saying, "It was the least I could do."

He is so very different from my own child, despite being the same age. But the fact that he so readily comes to my door, so easily sits down with much on his mind to talk about, so grateful for a book to borrow, a movie to watch again, someone just to talk to that my heart aches a little. He has a good mom, a hard working, single mom. I just hope she gets these wonderful, tender moments with him, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Company

I posted a few weeks ago about my upstairs neighbor. The music has been toned down, but I didn't get any response to my invitation to do something together. After my trip to the peach orchard, I took a handful of fresh peaches up, but they weren't interested in peaches and I left feeling defeated.

Then, the other night when I arrived home late from the movies, I had three missed calls in quick succession on my cell from upstairs. As I arrived home wondering what might have prompted the calls, I found my doorknob had been greased. There's only one culprit I would even suspect and I found the same frustrated feeling rising in me again.

I left a voicemail that night for my neighbor (for him mom, really) just asking if there was anything the matter or something I could help with. I didn't catch up with her until the following morning when she explained her frustration at her son for calling me. "He's so bored," she went on to say, "but it doesn't excuse him from just calling you like that." He hadn't left a voicemail. I don't know if he was actually trying to reach me or just see if I was home, but in any case, I waved it away and didn't mention to her about my doorknob. I didn't want him in trouble.

I've spoken with his mom outside at 7:30 the past couple of mornings. She's on her way home from work and I'm on my way out to work. We've been talking about the new middle school down the road and whether Flash will be attending with her son. We've talked about the bus route (or lack thereof) and about her desire for her son to "start fresh" at the new middle school and not be around the "hoodlums" he's been hanging with at the old school.

I spent some time while babysitting the other day trying to brainstorm some ideas on what I could invite her son to do with me some evening that might be enticing to a 13 year old boy. You'd think I'd know that sort of answer, but he's a different sort of child than my own.

Tonight, my question was answered for me.

When I arrived home tonight, there was a book and a note outside my door. Without even looking at it, I knew it was from upstairs. His note was an apology, as it always is, and a thank you to Flash for lending him this book long ago. He asked if he might borrow another some time and asked if I would just knock or leave it outside his door.

I took Eli for a walk and thought about my options. when I came in, I opened the mail and had my answer. My Netflix movies had arrived. One of them I remember putting on my list, but hadn't realized I'd bumped up to the number one slot (so it got mailed now). It was a movie I had intended to watch with Flash when he arrived back home. It's a sci-fi action thriller rated PG-13. Perfect for a 13-year old boy...

I called upstairs and told my neighbor that he was more than welcome to come down and borrow any books of Flash's that he was interested in, I know Flash won't mind at all. And by the way, I was going to watch this movie tonight, did he have any interest?

He asked his mom and got permission and will be down in just a few minutes to join me.

I know it's just a movie. I know it's not a big deal. But somehow, it's one less bored night for this boy, and a night when I get to have company for a movie.

I see it as a win-win.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Somewhere

Down the road at the bar, is a man who is talking about the places where he has lived and laughing when he finds out the stranger next to him has lived in many of those places, too. Down the road, watching the Red Sox game, is a man, a father, who is telling this woman about the business he owns, his involvement in a community she is familiar with, about his family. Down the road at the bar, is a man who is witty, flirtatious and intelligent.

On the stool next to me is this man. He is telling me about his kids. He is reminiscing with me about places "back home". He is watching me now, and not the game. He is telling me about his life, his family. He is unconvincingly without a ring, leaving gaps in his life story that only a wife could fill. He is telling me about his unhappiness. He reluctantly tells me about his wife.

Somewhere in the next town over tonight, is a woman. She's a mother of four boys. Her sons attend the schools in the district where I work. She's at home tonight. But her husband is not.

Somewhere out there tonight this woman is waiting. She is wondering what sort of errand to WalMart takes four hours. She is alone at home.

Somewhere tonight is a husband. Left alone on his barstool. Rejected for his offer to go elsewhere, he'll finish his beer alone or find someone else to tell his censored story to.

For somewhere in the next town over is a woman. Who, tonight, was offered more respect for her marriage by a stranger on a barstool than from her own husband.

It is a small consolation, perhaps, but I hope it is something.

The Man of My Dreams

I just woke from dreaming of you and it was so real and so vivid, I had to write it down.


I was in a grocery store, perhaps with my niece, although she would have been younger. The grocery store was small, but higher quality, and we were buying ingredients to make homemade macaroni and cheese. I was going to make it for my sister, apparently, who came into the store on her lunch break (or some such) and I explained to her that had I known earlier that I was going to be making that, I would have put in the effort to do it well - and so that's what we were doing now, we were getting whole grain pasta noodles, and then I asked my niece if we should get ham to put in it and she agreed that we should. (I should admit here that I don't know what happened to my niece as she isn't in the rest of the dream, so I'm hoping I didn't somehow lose her. And my sister changed form quite dramatically from the start of my dream where she looked like she actually looks now to the end, but I'm getting ahead of myself).

I went over to this little serve-yourself sort of dream-strange counter where the ham would be. Things were in big ziploc bags and there was chicken (which was like chicken legs, only some of the bones that people had apparently either eaten or taken chicken off of, was now back in the bag...) and I found the bag that had some ham, and there were some really good ham pieces in the bottom of the bag and so I got my own little ziploc and I was forking out some of the really good ham slices. And this man came up to my left and was waiting patiently to get whatever it was that he came for. But then I saw this bag with bread in it. It was a dark rye-looking bread and I thought that would be perfect (I'm not quite sure what part of my mac and cheese needed this dark bread, in my mind now, it seems like it was going to have some sort of soft crouton-ish purpose in the mix) and so I reached to my left to this bag of bread and started selecting some pieces, but there was some sort of spread on the corner of some, a tartar sauce-looking sort of spread, and I was trying to get pieces that didn't have that.

The man, it seemed, was waiting for that bread as well, and yet I managed to take nearly all of it. I apologized to him, but he just laughed this perfect, casual laugh and I realized I was entertaining him with my antics as I tried to avoid the sauce. I don't know if I started to explain to him what I was doing or what, but the next thing I can remember from my dream is we were talking.

And then it was like we were at the store for a second time, having run into each other again, but this time we were eating at a table next to each other. No one else was at the table and we sat side by side, not across from one another. We were talking about nothing, but I know I was nervous. I liked him and as I became more and more aware of that, I became more and more aware that he wasn't at all affected with nerves the way I seemed to be. He was funny and witty and flirting with me. He was teasing me in a way that told me that he was interested, and yet, he wasn't afraid I wouldn't be interested back. It set me on edge and I got up and started packing up my lunch things which mainly consisted of about ten water bottles of various color and size. I was putting them all into this bag, walking even to the other side of this man to collect all these bottles, when I realized I was packing up his bottles, too. The red ones were his, or some of the red ones were and so I started to take them out of my bag, angry with myself for being so flustered. I knew he noticed that I had packed (and was now unpacking) his, but he just went on telling me whatever witty thing he was saying (as if I could even hear like a rational person at this point) and went on eating. I remember asking the man if he Facebooked (oh heavens tell me it's not true) and he laughed this sweet little laugh and said, no, he didn't facebook (and how much more I liked him for that) but that he'd do anything for this crazy new stranger he'd met. And I kept thinking "he called me crazy?" realizing I was acting as strangely as I ever had.

It was then that my family arrived. And by family, I mean my dad, my sister (who had changed into a blonde with long-hair) and several other people, I'm not sure who they were, really. They were apparently ready to go, although my sister was with someone she wanted to introduce me to, but I went to her and drug her by the hand over to this man as if I was going to introduce them.

I don't remember actually doing so, what I remember is that I loaded up my things into my cart or some such thing, and when I came back for the last of it, my dad was talking with this man and I felt the need to introduce them somehow. I said something else first and then realized I was being inappropriate and they were both waiting for an introduction (as if they realized this was the start of something much bigger) and so I said to the man, "this is my father, Roger Wilson" and then I looked at my dad and said, "This is Rodger..." and before I could even say his last name, I felt the need to know, and so I asked the man, "do you spell it with a 'd' or without?" And he replied with the same flirtatious casualness that he'd shown all afternoon "well, how did you spell it?" And I was about to explain that I hadn't yet had reason to write it down when I woke up.

I want to say his last name was something like Clemons, but obviously that's just baseball stuck in my head, and even having written that, it makes it all seem so much more like some crazy dream.

But for a moment, a short while ago, it didn't feel like a dream at all. It felt like I had met him. It felt like he was real. He had a name. He had dark hair and this amazing smile. And while I acted like a bumbling fool, he liked me. And I knew somehow that he was going to be important enough for me to introduce to my father. And to spell his name correctly.

I spelled it with a 'd', Rodger. It seems like that's the way you spell it, but I didn't get the answer from you to know for certain. I hope that was the right way.


I should point out, that this dream only disturbs me in that his name wasn't Charlie. For those that recall, I once had a similarly real-feeling dream that I was getting married and his name was Charlie and that we met in a pastry shop (see? I can remember all the details even now. I'd link to the post if it wasn't 5:45 in the morning.) For the vividness of this dream, it feels only a contradiction that his name didn't stay the same. The realness of this man still feels tangible in the early morning hours. I know he's not. But out there somewhere he is.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peach Goo Anyone?

My house is easily 112 degrees. My dishwasher is running a full load and I still have two bit pots on the stove that will need washing. I have four beautiful jars of canned peaches on my counter waiting to be processed. I have 5 processed and not so pretty jars sitting on my table cooling off. I have 7 jars in the canner at the moment boiling their little hearts out although I'm wondering why I bother at this point since I pretty much filled the jars with peach goo.

When I visited the orchard two days ago, the woman asked me exactly what I wanted peaches for, and I said, "for canning." She asked me when I would be canning and I replied, "within the next few days." And with that information she led me right to very specific trees with very specific instructions on just what kind of peaches to pick.

Two days later I have a house full of fruit flies, smooshy, gushy peaches and I'm so disgusted that I may never actually eat a peach again.

This has been the most disgusting, disappointing, frustrating process. My only saving grace is that it cost me a grand total of $30, so if the canned peaches taste as bad as the process, well, I won't feel too badly.

It's currently 11:15 and I still have 15 minutes left on this batch in the canner and then another batch to go, which easily takes 30 minutes to get up to boiling and then they need to process for another 30 minutes.

Ugh. I think that's my word of the day. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

George's Take On It

Bear and Jules are having a party. They've invited Bear's entire office over for a get together at their house. This week they've been busy with preparations: getting the lawn in shape, making sure the music system works outside, stocking up on beverages, and cleaning the house.

Yesterday, George was talking with me about parking for the party, making suggestions as to where people might wish to park their cars when they come for the party.

And then he said, "If you bring your wife to the party, you can get drunk."

It took me a minute to realize he was referring to the idea of a designated driver for the party.

I responded by saying, "What if the wife wants to get drunk?"

Not missing a beat, George quipped, "Then you'd better start drinking first!"

Yep, I think he's ready for a fraternity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

1919

He married young, as they did back then, with a child on the way. A baby that would only live a few short days. He was a farmer his entire life, raising hogs and cattle, corn and soybeans. He had a stroke when my mom was still alive; they used to joke about making a "complete person" with her good right hand and his good left. He moved to town awhile back, abandoning the overalls he always wore for "proper city clothes". If by 'city' you mean a town of a few thousand.


Whereas Grandma taught me to go to church, how to garden, the best places to find newborn kitties on a farm, Grandad taught me to shoot pool, to drink Shirley Temples and to lie to Grandma about where we'd been ("We just went into town to get water for the well. I have no idea why we smell like the pool hall!") He drove an old pick up truck way too fast and often on the wrong side of the road. He always used a toothpick and he never called my sister or me by name. We were always, affectionately, and nondescriptly, "Kid".

In addition to the baby, he has buried two grown children, a son, a daughter and more recently, his wife of nearly 70 years. He has lived in a nursing home for the past many years but is still sharp as a tack if only he could hear all your questions. You can see Grandma's old apartment out the back through his window. She used to visit him every day the weather would permit her to walk across the lawn and would watch for his light to go off in the evening.

This past weekend, I rode along with my sister and her family to celebrate Grandad's 90th birthday. Officially, he turned 90 on July 28th. As one of the nurses pointed out, we were "late". Grandad simply smiled and adamantly reminded her, "But they're here." He wanted nothing more than to be taken outside in the sweltering heat to sit in the gazebo. A simple but rare treat.

My sister had ordered cake. Enough to feed the entire town, it would seem, but well worth seeing my Grandad's lips turn green from the icing.

Being a diabetic, he shouldn't have been allowed a first piece, but when you're 90, I think you deserve the right to choose for yourself. And Grandad chose to have a second piece. And a third. And he scolded my sister for wiping the icing off his arm saying, "I was saving that for later!"



We saw my uncle, Grandad's only surviving child, the one relative we feared the most when we were kids. Not because he was particularly scary, just that we only saw him when he came in for supper and he would come through the house hunting us down and tickling us when he did find us and we thought that was scary enough. Birdy and George will never have such fearful memories of their great-uncle. They love his teases and tickles!
It was a great day spent with a great man. A man I thought was old even when I was very young. I am grateful for all the years since that have given me a chance to grow old with this man I love.

Happy Birthday, Grandad!

If Only I Could Share Her Enthusiasm


Rosie is ready to pack! (Or to be packed, anyway!)

Speaking of Angels

Not to live in the bliss for too long, as I was driving home from the orchard, there was a severe accident on the road. A car coming from the other direction had gone off the road and head first into a tree. There was an ambulance, two fire trucks and at least 5 police vehicles at the scene. A man was being loaded onto a stretcher, but I don't know if there were others involved or not. It was a terrifying scene.

Just a mile or two down the road, the car up ahead of me put on his signal and turned right. I wasn't too close behind, but stepped on my brakes to slow a bit as he turned and had little resistance as my foot went slowly to the floor and the car only slightly slowed. I pumped the brakes, thankful that the car ahead had already easily made the turn, but to no avail. Brakes seemed to be absent.

I slowed the car a bit, pushing the pedal all the way to the floor and doing a tremendous amount of praying and found that in a pinch, I could bring my car to a crawl, but any sudden need to stop was completely out of the question.

Fortunately, I had turned off my usual path home to bring my sister a taste of heaven (a peach or two) and wasn't just discovering this problem as I tried to slow on the exit ramp off the highway. I called my sister, asking if she'd meet me at the mechanic in her town so I could drop off my car hoping they could work on it in the morning when they opened. I explained the problem and as Bear listened in, Jules said, "Bear says to bring it here. He'll look at it first."

I prayed and crawled the last ten miles or so to my sister's house. Thankful for plenty of room in front of me and for patience for the driver behind me. I had to peel my hands off the steering wheel when at last I parked in her driveway (thankful that her drive is UPhill).

Bear came out, took a look and then said he wanted to test drive it. I cautioned him, concerned my Taurus would become part of the corn field at the end of their drive, but he buckled in and took it down the drive and down the road. He returned proclaiming, "I think you're just low on brake fluid." And off he went in his truck to fetch some. He was back before I could blink, filled it up and tested it out and all was fine and perfect.

I cannot express my gratitude. Not just for Bear, which was no small thing. He saved me a mechanic's bill, the hassle of swapping cars and shuffling around while I work to get mine fixed. But as all the 'what ifs' run through my mind tonight, I could sit here terrified of what might have happened. What if I had gone home on the highway? What if I hadn't had so much room between that car in front of me when he turned? What if I had been rounding one of the many curves when I needed my brakes instead of out on the straight road? What if I had been in PA, without Bear to calmly and easily solve the problem?

I know that I am always in God's hands. But tonight He gave me a reminder of just how carefully He holds me. I won't soon forget.

Heaven

I've been doing a lot of thinking about Heaven lately. We've had a couple sermons on the topic. I've read a book or two. And I've just been letting my mind wander to imagine what God might have in store for my eternity.

Tonight, I think I had a taste.

People asked why I had to drive all the way out to Crane's to pick peaches. We have roadside stands every where in Michigan with an abundance of fresh, local, produce, including my much-desired peaches. But Crane's has always been a near-spiritual experience for me each fall when we go to pick apples and I wanted the experience of picking peaches right off the tree.

Despite picking apples at orchards for years, nothing quite prepared me for the "awesomnosity" (to steal a word from Flash) of the peach orchard. It's the SMELL along with the feel, and the sun streaming through the branches. It's the gentleness of your touch as you pick each one. It's the juice running down my arm. It's looking around on a Tuesday night and feeling as if I was the only one present in the whole field.

I didn't have my camera with me, or you'd be blessed with a million shots, all fallling short of capturing even a fragment of the experience.

To top it off, as I went to pay with my debit card, as I always do when we pick apples at the orchard (easier to hold a card in my pocket than the cash required for all of our apples) the woman in charge politely informed me that the peach side of the orchard does not take debit cards. Being several dollars short of the cash I would need, I began to think back to where the nearest ATM was. Before I could even utter outloud that I'd be right back, the woman began writing on a piece of paper saying, "It's not a problem. You can mail me a check when you get home. Here's our address."

An angel. Well, of course, it is a piece of Heaven.

And so if you're wondering what Heaven might be like, might I suggest a trip to Crane's Orchard in Fennville, MI. For me, it's complete bliss.

Monday, August 10, 2009

If It Weren't For George

As Birdy snuggled down into her sleeping bag with the bag ties under her head instead of at her feet, Bear suggested she might want to turn the bag around so she didn't get strangled in the night.

"Yeah, Birdy," I commented. "I'd hate for the morning paper to read: Teenager Strangled by Sleeping Bag Ties While Parents and Aunt Slept Nearby."

George quickly chimed in, "And Brother Had Nothing to Do With Her Death!" just to be certain he wouldn't be blamed!

Much Ado

So I haven't been posting. Most of you don't seem to be noticing, but I've had a couple comments and nudges and some flat out remarks. It's not for lack of material (see previous post - comments such as those are a daily occurence with George around) it's for lack of time and energy.

What?! Me lacking time and energy? I know. Things change in a hurry around here, keep up.

It's a "be careful what you wish for" reminder as I have been bored to tears without my boy at home this summer when lo and behold I get an offer to do some side work for school and now all I do is laminate and cut it would seem.

But it's money. And right now, money in the bank is a blessing.

Because...

There seems to be movement on the house. After months of silence and waiting, I was informed last week that there is forward movement on the short sale and the seller's bank may wish to close soon and suddenly on the house. Translated: OH MY GOODNESS.

When we moved from PA to MI (if you recall, it's still a bit blurry in my mind) we went from sold to moved in less than 2 weeks' time. I was hoping for something a little less hectic this time around. And I may still get my wish. Even if they wish to close soon, I still have 30 days on my lease from the point that I give notice, so the move itself might be leisurely even if nothing else seems to be at this time.

But, the good news is that God has been providing. I've patchworked summer jobs (summer school, two babysitting jobs and now this extra work) which has replenished my down payment money and is now giving me some cushion (which helps me sleep at night). And closing before school starts would be a benefit to Flash who would prefer not to start at the new middle school only to switch back to the one he has been attending should we move.

So in a nutshell, I spend my days babysitting and cutting. My evenings are spent fetching boxes and cutting. And when I get an extra moment, I sleep. I hope you'll forgive me for not blogging more often. At some point I realize I'm going to have to squeeze in some packing.

Note: Flash doesn't know the latest news on the house. As there is still a level of uncertainty, I didn't want him to get his hopes up again only to have them dashed. He truly loves this house and it would delight him senseless if we were to actually get our hands on it. Until I know for certain that it's going to be ours, I'm going to keep mum. For those of you that read and know Flash IRL, would you please not mention it just yet? Of course, it could be quite a shock when I pick him up in September and drive him to a new home across town!!

Where I Realize I Wouldn't Have Anything Funny to Report Without George Around

Yesterday my sister and Bear dropped Birdy off with her paternal grandparents for a special trip to Niagra Falls. As they drove away, George admitted he was a little envious of his sister.

"I'm sure you will get to visit Niagra Falls someday," comforted my sister.

"I don't care about Niagra Falls," George replied. "Birdy will get to see real live Canadians!"

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I know it was no small thing for him to ask. He talked about it while he was still here. I had mentioned the idea, but I think he was nervous about asking his dad, about imposing, and presuming.

But today for the first time outside of his grandparent's church, my boy sat with his FATHER at church. At our old church. In a pew next to our dearest friends.

And while I wish I could have been there, while I wish I could have hugged Myra and Ken and while I miss having my boy next to me in church, I can recognize this as a wonderful event just as it is. A big moment. A brave moment for my boy. And a generous one by his dad.

Thank you, Myra and Ken for your warmth. Jacob would not have gone there if you hadn't been there.

And thank you to J, for taking our boy and sitting beside him in a pew. I hope it was no small thing to you, either.
She wasn't there this time. She wasn't among those precious little ones dressed in leotards and ballet shoes. She wasn't there to dance and perhaps it was easier this way.

A year ago I sat with a boy in church and watched his daughter dance. It was the start of a new relationship and it was one of the first times I had been around his children. I was honored to be there. I was delighted to see her dance. And I was deeply touched by the opportunity (at last!) to sit beside a boy in a pew. It was no small thing. But it was not meant to be a lengthy thing.

This weekend, she was not there to dance. At her mother's for most of the week, she missed out on our church's dance camp. He was not there either. It's his 41st birthday and he was off to celebrate with his new girlfriend - as it should be. It's all good.

But I couldn't help but think this morning, sitting in a pew alone, of my thoughts from a year ago. My hope. My joy. The thrill of having a little boy wrap himself up in me, a little girl who waved from the stage when she saw her dad. Of a man, who put his arm around me and prayed with me at his side.

He wasn't meant to be mine, nor I his. We disagree - a lot. We are better apart than ever could be together. And I think we've both reached a point of understanding and accepting that.

But I still hope that I will get such an opportunity again. A chance to love little ones as if they were my own. A chance for the joy that comes from praying together.

I wish TB a very happy birthday today. I pray that The Rentals are safe and loved and cherished. And I pray that his new relationship might be a real blessing from above - full of joy and laughter.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Summer Project

It started when I flipped through a book I bought as a Christmas present for my second mom. The book was titled, "100 Things To Do Before Heaven" or some such ambitious thing, and one of the items was "have a signature dish". Have a signature dish? I don't even have a dish for company. When company comes over, I often ask my second mom for advice on what to fix, as I'm lacking anything that seems fancy enough for guests. But somehow this attracted my attention and I began thinking from time to time about my favorite foods and wondering why all of them are things I eat at restaurants and not things I ever cook at home.

The first problem is, that despite what Flash might tell you, I'm not much of a cook. I can put a meal together, sure, but it's probably meat grilled on the George Foreman, veggies steamed right in the bag and maybe rice or a salad to boot. And while I can more than 50 jars of applesauce and a dozen or more jars of jam each year, there's nothing fancy about my cooking. There's nothing that takes much more than a half an hour to any of my dishes. So, I started looking through my recipe books to find some ideas on my "signature dish".

In my cabinet are 3 cookbooks. Better Homes and Gardens, which J bought me years and years and a lifetime ago when we were married. I use it when I make banana bread. Seriously, that's it. I used to use it for things like pancakes, waffles, cakes and brownies and such, but I've learned the prepared mixes are so much better than my from-scratch versions so those pages have been untouched for a long time now. I also have a recipe book that Stacy sent to me of recipes from the church we used to attend together. I cherish that one for more sentimental than culinary reasons. And then we have MY recipe book. Nothing more than an old small binder, white at one point in its life, now yellowed and covered with various crusted ingredients. It was thick with pages. Some written on fancy recipe pages, some hand written, others ambitiously typed.

For the most part, the recipes I used most from that book were now loosely tucked in the front pocket- having ripped out long ago from frequent use. There you would find my mom's recipe for French Cookies, my grandma's recipe for Jumbo Raisin Cookies, Judy's recipe for lasagna, my own notes on strawberry jam and applesauce.

Within the thick, tabbed pages I held a sundry of recipes. Many torn from magazines with pictures included. Some in the signature of friends. A few printed from an online source. My book included ideas on how to make a dessert more presentable as well as edible. I had recipes for modeling clay and homemade cleansers.

For the most part, my recipe book was a young bride's relic. An optimistic resource created so that I might one day be the perfect wife, the perfect hostess. And then, like the Luvs diaper ads used to proclaim, "Reality hit."

I spent a portion of the other day sorting through the book, tearing out most, keeping little. I held onto my grandmother's recipe for homemade noodles and pie crusts, even though I never imagine making either. I kept recipes for my dad's "college cookies" that my mom used to make when he would come to visit. I even kept a recipe for my ex's favorite birthday cake, hoping that maybe one day my son would make it for his dad.

So now, my poor decrepit, stained, flour-covered binder is all but empty. And while this certainly won't upset my usual cooking routine (while Flash is away, "cooking" is a very relative term to begin with), it would be nice to restock my recipe book, but this time with a more realistic set of pages. While I am still searching for (and once I have a second-eater and opinion-maker in the house, testing out) the perfect signature dish recipe, I really want the casserole you put together last Tuesday night, the one that only needs six ingredients and ten minutes to throw together. I want the soup recipe that you concocted last winter that your daughter said was better than Campbell's. I want that funny little thing you do with green beans written down and shared. Or maybe it's that sangria recipe that you made for company last week. Or the potluck dish you had at the church retreat. And the cake your grandmother made when you came to visit? I want that one, too. What do you make when you have guests? What do you take when you need a dish to pass? What do you put together when you're four days from payday and the fridge seems empty? Tell me your signature dish, or just the one that you make most often. Doesn't have to be fancy at all, probably better if it's not.

Help me fill up my recipe book (after it gets a thorough cleaning) with new delectables. Will you share your favorites with me?

Feel free to post here for all to enjoy or email recipes straight to me at bluered28@yahoo.com.

Wanted

One man.

Needs to have: a passion for Christ, a stable home, a love for children, a great sense of humor, an ability to laugh at himself, a spontaneous side, and a few things he is passionate about (even if they are football, perfecting BBQ chicken and Monty Python movies).

Should be: responsible, financially secure, and able to act his age (most of the time). A great listener, laid-back and able to decipher which secret statement at a party means, "Can we please leave now?"

Might: wish he still owned a motorcycle, be planning a vacation to Maine or Ireland, think the 42" plasma is inadequate for Monday Night Football, have regrets but he's forgiven himself and has moved on.

Doesn't want: me to be his savior, his mother, his housekeeper or his conscience. Prefers not to go shopping at the mall, to endure two chick-flicks in a row, and hates high-maintenance women.

Desires: to keep growing - in faith, in experience, in maturity - and a partner to enjoy the journey. (Secretly wishes to get a 12-point this Thanksgiving.)

Offers: more than just companionship. He wants a relationship that helps us both realize and accomplish our purposes for being here, and the desire to let God lead the way. (Note: might also come with a nice couch and big dog!)

Thinks: that true love is not old-fashioned, a Hollywood myth or something to be taken lightly. He understands it takes hard work, tenacity, courage, and a well-developed sense of humor. Also firmly believes the DH is a cop-out.

Is willing to: Cheer for the Red Sox (and against the Yankees), sit in silence at the lake, handle all things electronic, mechanical or related to plumbing, endure my singing in the car, be vulnerable, make mistakes, risk looking like a fool, and love completely and unconditionally.

Applications are currently being accepted.