Friday, December 13, 2013


We all like to have the illusion that we have some control over our lives. Children constantly struggle with their inability to control what is happening around them. Even my little 16-month-old son is learning to want to be in control. I struggle with my need to put constraints on him, to help him to trust me to be in control of the things he is not yet old enough to decide for himself.
All parents can identify with the struggle that we call bedtime. We know that children NEED to go to sleep yet they think we are just spoiling their fun. So they fight us. They roll around in bed, talk to their siblings, or remember something sooo important that it just can't wait until morning. Sometimes they make excuses or try to reason with us. Other times they simply whine. They may cry and call us mean. My 16-month-old has no words to plead with. He simply keeps himself awake. He rubs his eyes and reaches out his arms to me. If I put him in his bed he will stand there and cry. He wants me to hold him, to rescue him from his own sleepiness. So I pick him up and comfort him and try to calm him. I want him to sleep because I know he needs to, because it is best for him. I may feel impatient and tired myself but I do my best to make bedtime pleasant for him.
Tonight it took hours of nursing him and cuddling him, rocking him and soothing him before he finally let himself drift into dreamland. Now he is cuddled up peacefully in bed. Why did he fight it so?
Why do I fight it so when God is parenting me? He certainly knows what is best, but so often I don't want what he has for me. I want to decide, to choose for myself. The illusion of control is comforting, but it is not safe. Why would I rather be angry then rest in His peace? All I gain is hours of wasted time, wanting my own way, feeling I deserve this or that, that I NEED it to be a certain way.
Why not just close my eyes and rest in his arms?
Just this thought helps me to view my own children differently. Bedtime may be frustrating, but I am just like them. I reason and complain. I whine and make excuses, hoping to get my own way. I may even cry. In the end I always end up in my Heavenly Father's arms, as he rocks me to sleep.
"O rest in The Lord, wait patiently for him and he shall give thee thy hearts desires."
Thank you Lord that I am not in control. Give me the patience with my children that you extend to your own. Amen

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the last mile is the longest

Now that we have a date set to move to New Jersey, my mind is reeling with things to get done. Yet I wish I was leaving tomorrow. I want to throw everyone in the car and just drive, just get there. I want to be done with waiting. It would be pointless though because I am not waiting to get back to NJ, or waiting to settle into my new home or even waiting to see my extended family whom I miss so much. I want to be driving to Bryan, my husband, the man I married, who I pledged my life to for better or for worse, for all of it, for as long as we both have breath.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh."
One person can't be in two places at once unless he is is severed from his other part. With this process death would ensue. For the past 7 months some part of me has been dead. Some part of my heart has been so hard in order to bear the separation. Otherwise it would have been too heavy with the weight of all that missing to carry on.
But now the ice is melting away. My protection is weak and I have to muster up my happy face for today. Why now when it is so close to being over does the heaviness of all those days press like an iron fist around my heart?
Is it the realization of all that water under the bridge; all those moments lived apart, only partly alive?
Could I have lived those months more fully, if I had not hidden my soul like a turtle in its shell? Or would every moment have been sheer frustration, full of loneliness.
Pain is a refining fire that molds our hearts into the image of Christ. Did I, in my desire to protect my heart and to "just get through this," stunt my own growth?
I don't know. I have these last days to get though still. Days of anticipation and worry. What if he doesn't leave early enough, and I arrive there before him and am still stuck, still waiting.
I want to be driving to my husband, nothing else. But there may be more lessons ahead that I wish I did not have to learn.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Around Town Continues Update

I am having some trouble editing the Around Town page on my mom's Ipad. I just added a new post but for some reason it re-posted the entire page again at the bottom. SO, you didn't miss out on 3 prior posts, it is just a glitch and I hope to have it fixed soon. I will try editing it on a PC. Anyway, I hope you will read about my continuing struggle with CLS on the "Around Town Continues" page. I love having problems like this. It feels so good to laugh at myself and I hope you will too! (I don't mean that the way it sounds. I don't mean that you should laugh at yourself. I am sure that you have it all together and that there is nothing funny about you. Other then when you are telling a joke of course. I on the other hand am a terrible joke teller but a hysterical homemaker.)
Before I dig myself another hole, go ahead and click on the "Around Town Continues" page. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My daily miracles

Every day I am witness to miracles. It is the same miracle over and over again but it never fails to fill me with wonder. Those moments between waking and sleep that pass over the faces of my boys as I cradle them in my arms or simply lie next to them; to help them calm down, surrender to rest. These spaces in the day are wondrous and peaceful, rich with the fullness of time. Each moment is stretching, each second overflowing with gentle beauty as my little three-year-old presses his head into my shoulder, pulls my arm to his chest and whispers "Oh my little mommy, you so soft my little mommy." His black lashed eyes lazily open and close beneath his nodding head of golden hair.
There are times when I am nursing the baby while he fights sleep, trying to turn his head, rubbing his dark round eyes, trying to push me away, but hungry enough to keep eating despite the sleep tugging at him, finally pulling him out of consciousness to slumber.
His big brother cuddles next to him, snuggling in closer "Oh Allen so cozy, so cozy" as he too drifts out of ceaseless motion into the world of dreams.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Bad dreams have a way of haunting you in the daytime. They are not unlike that scary movie you watch. You put off bedtime, hoping you'll be tired enough, sleep soundly enough that nightmares
wont wake you from your slumber.
I think the thing I hate worst about them is that moment in the night when you awake and there they are, fresh in your mind. Every sound in the house seems suspicious. The noise of the cat walking down the hall frightens you into alertness. You know you are tired but the adrenaline pumping in your veins keeps you from settling and your mind races.
That is why I am sitting up tonight, typing away, putting off my much needed sleep. I wanted to take a nice long peaceful nap today, but my boys napped at different times, leaving me without a respite for my own nap time.
The nightmares are still vivid in my memory. More vivid then the things I actually did the past few days, my nightmares are there, those startling and unsettling memories. At least when I watch a frightening movie I am not one of the actors, but my nightmares are movies in which I was an actor, playing a part in terrible scenarios that leave my heart racing.
When I awoke the past few nights in my bed, hearing the breathing of my little ones, I was so thankful that those dreams were only the imaginings of my mind. Each time I was relieved to be able to hear my children around me sleeping safely. My heart cried out to The Lord in thankfulness that all was well in our home.
In a way these night terrors awaken me to thankfulness. Thankfulness for another ordinary day with ordinary stressors and frustrations. I love our ordinary days with the rhythm of preparing meals, cleaning house, resolving arguments between bickering children, and soothing bumps and bruises.
They are such a gift.
Before I go to bed tonight I will beg The Lord for restful sleep. I will also remember to thank him for this ordinary day, free from the horrors of my night visions. Today was just an ordinary day. How wonderful and beautiful is was.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Struggling to remember

Living here in a place that I only vacationed before, all of a sudden I will have a memory surface. It greets me like a movie scene, full of depth and color. Then as quick as it came, it is gone.
I am left wondering what value they have. When a vivid memory stirs my present reality there is a sense of loss that comes as well. Time is moving on and taking me with it. I am not the person that I was when I first experienced that which is now my memory. But even more then that I feel a loss for all the things I can no longer remember, all those yesterdays for which I have no recollection. I have 36 years full of days behind me but only a few minutes here and there are memorable to me. The rest of my life is more of an impression. There were the college years, my trip to Italy, my early childhood when my parents were still married and we lived on a farm, the years my Mom was living with her third husband, the year when we moved to Florida and my mother didn't tell anyone. That was the lost year. Each of these phases leaves an impression on my mind and I can pick out a few memories from each, but there is so much I can't bring to mind, both pleasant and unpleasant.
My oldest daughter can remember what she was wearing the day her first sister was born; the details of the place where she stayed overnight with my mother. My daughter was 18 months old. There are no pictures to tell the tale. Those are real memories. My memories are so fractured. I often wonder if it is my mind's way of dealing with the bad things, the abuse, the things I wanted to forget. So that now, when I want to remember every single detail of every moment with my children, my mind has trained itself to forget. It has learned to file my memories away where they can't  sneak up on me again later. Where they can't stab me in the back when I let down my guard. If my memories can't find me, they can't hurt me.
I struggle to make memories that stick. I look at the face of my one year old. I look and I look. I say to myself, "I will remember this moment. I will not forget."
Yet later, although I can remember my mantra and the intention behind it, I cannot conjure up the memory. I can remember my longing to preserve the moment forever but not the image I tried so hard to burn into my conciseness. I am left with the longing, with the loss. I am left with my struggle to remember.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When I have my own place again

When I have my own place again I want to remember...
 1. to not use my oven for storage. It is a pain to have to empty the oven of pans and baking sheets every time I want to use it. If it doesn't fit in a cupboard then I shouldn't have it.
2. to be thankful for cupboards.
3. to have a designated place for laundry sorting and folding, and I don't mean the sofa or the dining table. It drives me insane to have the living room turned into a laundromat, the sofa and chairs covered in mountains of laundry, leaving me no place to sit.
4. to make an ingoing and outgoing station with trays that hang on the walls marked "things to be signed", "bills to be payed", and incoming boxes for each of the kids homework and pictures. Also trays for "things to be mailed" and "letters in progress." My table is too often cluttered with this stuff because it has no where else to go.
5. to write letters to my mom and grandma and actually mail them.
6. to never use my bedroom as a staging area. I want my bedroom to be neat, clean and nearly empty. NO CLUTTER and NO STORING OF EXTRA STUFF IS ALLOWED! It should be a place to rest and be alone with my husband. Not a garbage dump.
7. to be alone with my husband in our room every day.
8. to have a small desk for writing that faces out a window. That way I can't get distracted by housework. When I am writing I want to be writing. When I am cleaning, I want to be cleaning. Doing both at the same time is incredibly ineffective.

I will remember. I will remember. I will remember.

Monday, September 30, 2013

An update

Somehow I managed to remove my "Around Town" page from the blog, but it is back up now. I am having technical issues learning to write and edit my blog on the iPad. My computer is SSSOOOOO slow, so I am using my moms iPad while I am here.
I will be having a bi-weekly column in a local paper here on Fort Myers Beach that will start this week! I am exited to be able to continue being a published writer. This paper has a significant circulation as this is a densely populated area with a lot of tourists coming through as well. I am so thankful  this opportunity.
You can check the paper out online at
I will continue to blog but it will be biweekly on the opposite week as my article in the Island Sandpaper.
I know, I know, I haven't had a blog entry in 2 weeks now. Well I wrote one, but I couldn't edit it and spell check it for some reason on the iPad. With my crazy brood of kiddos I only have so much time for writing, and usually that is when I should be asleep.
Thank you for your patience and encouragement. Keep checking back, take a look at the Sandpaper's website and comment!
Time for my newest invention, Pine Nut Biscotti to come out of the oven. It smells heavenly but "I will resist, I will resist, I will resist..."

Monday, September 2, 2013

A tomorrow that never comes

I intended to get into a regular routine of writing. I had so many plans. I am so good at making plans, setting goals, imagining what it will be like, where it all might lead.
I am slightly less accomplished at achieving these goals. If things work out, fall into place, I think my idea is good. If I encounter significant roadblocks, I start to question the validity of my plans.
Almost every evening while I stand in the shower, reviewing the events of my day, turning them over in my mind, I renew afresh my resolve to adhere to my most recent proposed eating plan. While I review my plans for the next day I feel a surge of optimism and resolve. Tomorrow I will start afresh. It will be the day I overcome. I will eat the foods on my eating plan and I will not eat anything else. Simple enough. But somehow on the next day by three o'clock in the afternoon, I find a box of crackers or a dish of ice cream in my hand. By dinner time I am munching away on this and that as I prepare the evening meal for my family.
Plans derailed, I revert to my default eating pattern which is mindless eating and too much of it. But by the time the day is done and I am in the shower again, I am starting all over, making plans for tomorrow, a tomorrow that never comes.
Writing isn't that different from dieting. It requires a commitment of time and choosing to stick to it even when it is easier to return to the default activity, usually cleaning. Sure cleaning is good but it won't help me a become a better writer. For that matter, my homemade chocolate biscotti is pretty good but it won't help me become a thinner women.
That is why on this weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer I have only blogged twice and I haven't lost an ounce of weight since I arrived in Florida over three months ago.
Thankfully I will probably have the chance to try again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow until I have no more tomorrows. Another chance to do it better. Another day to spend on the things that really chocolate biscotti.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Around Town Continues

For those of you who have followed our family adventures in The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor, I have added a page to my blog focusing on our continuing adventures out of town. I have temporarily relocated with our children to sunny, humid south Florida while my husband slaves away in sunny, arid Colorado trying to get our house ready for sale. The inspiration for having a blog to begin with came from my constant struggle to keep our small two bedroom house clean and organized while our family continued to grow. Now I have an added incentive to blog as I will no longer be writing for The Surveyor. They focus on using local writers, which I no longer am. We loved living in Berthoud and have spent nearly ten years walking to Hays Market, drinking coffee at Da Bean, getting lots of help at Ace Hardware, borrowing books at the library, frequenting local businesses, and enjoying the small town charm of Berthoud.
During this period of crazy change, we have continued to get involved in the community where we are living; supporting local businesses, getting to know the people who work and volunteer in the community while enjoying the beauty and uniqueness of the place we are living now. The climate in Florida is drastically different from Colorado but people are people everywhere and we have been blessed to meet a lot of wonderful ones.
So if you were a fan of my "Around Town" columns for The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor, I will continue to supply you with a weekly dose of humor and family misadventures via my "Around Town Continued"  page on my blog. There will be a new post every Wednesday and you can expect the same fare as my column only they sadly will not be set in Berthoud anymore.
Just go to my blog and click on the tab that says "Around Town Continued." You can also sign up to follow my blog and receive email notifications when I have posted a new article. Or just check on Wednesdays. I look forward to continuing my journey as a writer as I journey around the country and hope that you will gets some laughs out of it along the way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is a simple life one to be remembered?

I have often seen the bumper sticker "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History." I guess that is true, but what impression do "badly" behaved women leave behind them? Think of memorable women that people everyone would recognize, Marilyn Monroe is a perfect example. She is iconic, her image is everywhere years after her death, men still lust after her and women still wish they could look like her but for what good? She is dead, her life spent out at a young age and cut short by her own hand and a string of broken and disfunctional relationships ttmarked her personal life. The most desirable women in the world went into eternity lonely and alone.
My grandma has a book featuring the 50 most memorable actresses of Hollywood's studio era. The lives of most of these women were unconventional and daring. They had multiple husbands and lovers. They signified what it ment to be alluring and successful to generations of women. Yet the depth of fulfillment in the relationships of their personal life seems abysmal. Is making history really success?
One of my favorite novels is Middlemarch by George Elliot. George Elliot was an unconventional women who scoffed social norms by living with a married man and later in life marrying a man much her junior. She denied the Christian faith but continued to write novels reinforcing the morals taught by Christ and espoused (though not lived out) by her hypocritical Victoian society. She was a misbehaving women who left an indelible mark on history. Yet her own words speak of something else as the measure of success.
As Dorothea's epitath in Middlemarch, George Elliot says this...
"Her finely touched spirit had its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like the river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependant on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This is my job

Like every mother I know, I've looked into those  "work from home and make a million dollars a week" scams. I've often tried to find some way to make money while also caring for my children. The problem with that has been that my children are a full time job, requiring constant supervision and care. If I get on the phone, start vacuuming, or try to write (this is happening right now) my children will suddenly become discontent, sullen, hurt themselves or start fighting (right now all of the above are happening). Starting with the birth of my oldest daughter I have felt that task of motherhood is stretching me. With the birth of each child I have realized that I am just a little more flexible then I was before. Having five children all at once would have been a disaster but with each child I have grown.
I always considered mothering a full time job, requiring that I be present most all the time, ready to deal with all the complicated relationships of family life. Then our life situations changed and I started to doubt myself, started to listen to the voices all around me, started to compare myself with others, started to listen to the "man at the back door."
Maybe I should get a job and find daycare of some sort. I mean desperate times call for desperate measures. For many of you reading this you may feel that you need to work, for many different reasons, and I am in no way suggesting that working is wrong...but I was afraid; not choosing but reacting, not trusting but looking for a way to work things out myself. Fear gets me caught up in all the things that drag me down, pulls me away from the light, keeps me from hearing the one who calls to me from the front door. God doesn't need to sneak around. He comes right up to the door and knocks. Satan whispers through the back screen, whispers my name, whispers my fears, whispers how I'm not good enough, aren't doing enough. Before I knew it I was trapped in my own mind, doubting all my choices, about everything.
When I was sharing with my sister on the phone about all my fears and worries and doubts, especially about working outside of the home, she simply said " Have you asked God what he thinks about that?" In that moment I realized I was looking for affirmation and approval in the wrong way. I wanted to answer my own questions. So I simply went to the front door and asked him "Dear Lord, do you want me to get a job?"
And that still small voice that answers our heart's call, answered me in his gentle way. " Why did you wait so long to ask me? You already have a job, the one I appointed for you since the foundations of the earth. I want to help you to do that one well. Don't get distracted by the whispers of the deceiver."
So now I don't have to justify myself or my choices or to look for approval from others. I just have to open the front door and keep asking God "what he thinks about that ."

My thanks to Serena Ontiveros for her kind encouragement and also to Dr. Kimberly Schmidt. The analogy about the man at the back door and God at the front one is hers. It was passed onto me by my sister and has been a valuable tool in discerning the voice of The Lord. My Thanks to you both.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Living with aging

In our society we are obsessed with thwarting death, with staying young for as long as possible. We cover up our grey hair, have our skin surgically stretched to remove wrinkles, receive injections to make us look plump where we used to, get hair implant therapy if our hair is thinning, use every sort of imaginable cream for every part of our body to " reduce the signs of aging" and have surgery to add something to our parts which may have shrunk or are sagging and other surgeries to thin parts that have gotten bigger then they used to be. So many women that I see at the beach are cosmetically enhanced. The skin on their legs is clearly many decades older then the buoyancy of their breasts. Why have an aging body when you can buy yourself a younger looking one?
It is simply consumerism taken to the next level. We are making idols out of our own bodies, sort of a combination of Frankenstein's monster and Baal worship.
You probably think I'm being too extreme. Why not have a "beautiful" body if you can afford one?

I have been living at my grandmother 's house for the past couple of months. She celebrated her 93rd birthday last month. Being around her has made me think about my own mortality more then I ever have before. She was once a baby like my little Allen. She had a mother who held her and cuddled her close, who felt about her the way I do about my little ones. Being with her reminds me that life here on earth is finite. It begins and it ends. It is an uncomfortable and unsettling reality. It is also exactly what all this culture of anti-aging is designed to help us avoid. The reality of aging and death. You might be a cosmetically created masterpiece of a corpse but you will still be dead. If we are preoccupied with our physical bodies we will come to death unprepared for the most important journey of of lives. Seeing the physical signs of aging reminds us that life is continuing on, that it is passing. Being with my grandma and seeing the changes that time has wrought on her physical form reminds me that one day I too will grow old. Will I spend my life trying to pretend that it won't happen or will I remember to treasure in my heart the greater reality that this world is not my home?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old Clothes

Our little house is bursting at the seams. It is a two bedroom bungalow (that is realtorese for tiny house) occupied by seven people. I have been vigilant to keep the clutter at bay but there is only so much I have been able to do. We have no dressers or drawers in our bedrooms. They are just rooms for beds. The girls keep their clothes in fabric storage baskets on the counter in the laundry room while Bryan and I use the bookshelf in our room in lieu of a dresser. It has been nine and a half years of reorganizing, reassessing, and rearranging. Still it is never enough. There is always too much stuff for our home.
Today I tacked our laundry room with vigor. I separated, washed and dried, folded and hung. I also rearranged and removed things I can do without. I tackled boxes and boxes of baby clothes. Having had three girls in a row, I accumulated quite a collection of seersucker dresses with matching bloomers, pink and yellow sleepers decorated with flowers, and lacy Sunday clothes. It has been five years since I had needed most of these adorable outfits but I was loathe to get rid of them. My mother had somehow managed to save baby clothes from my childhood, and even some from her own. My grandmother is the daughter of a seamstress so many of those clothes had been made by her. It was delightful to put my daughters in dresses that had been made by my grandmother for my mother and were worn in turn by me. I wanted to keep my daughters’ clothes too carry on this tradition. Unfortunately I felt encumbered by them, tied by the responsibility to preserve all these garments. Many of the clothes that were my mother’s have now fallen apart after having been won by all three of my daughters. A lot of the clothes that I was saving were not handmade heirlooms, but I was holding onto them to comfort myself. I wanted to look at them and remember when each of my daughters wore each of these outfits. I felt that by keeping the clothes I would be keeping the memories, holding onto those precious little girls.
When I looked through the boxes today, it was all a blur. I felt ashamed. I should remember each girl distinctly. Instead I had only vague recollections of seeing the articles before. Only a few had any distinct connection for me, but those clothes were stained and worn.
So I let them go. Sure I kept a few special items. And yes I have a few more boxes to go through. Yet I feel glad to be rid of them. I am so grateful that I still have all three of my girls this side of heaven and don’t need to hang on to their old garments. They are growing up. It is the person they are now that I know and adore. I know that I loved them from the minute I held them for the first time. I know I only love them more now. I will let go of hoping to remember details that are lost to me. Those moments were investments in our souls. I may not be able to recall those moments clearly, but hanging onto old clothes can never fix that loss for me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Making less laudry (hopefully)

Emotions are such capricious things, coming and going without an apparent connection to current events. Sometimes I will look around at our cluttered laundry room overflowing with dirty clothes; more then even fits in the baskets, and feel totally overwhelmed and hopeless that I will ever be able to get it done. Other times however, I will feel exited about the prospect of devoting my day to laundry, knowing the sense of satisfaction I will feel when it is all put away (or at least most of it). What is the difference? Is it just lack of sleep, a poor diet and too much coffee? Or maybe not enough?
My overwhelmed feeling comes from feeling hopeless, that it will never be done, or if it is ever finished, there will just be another big mess again in a few days. Whenever I come up with a new laundry scheme I feel hopeful that things will be different and laundry will never take over my life again. It seems having a plan, no matter how ineffectual, keeps me from falling into despair.
So far all of my laundry schemes have failed, but the hope of a new plan always helps me tackle the mess with vigor. I hate laundry and would like nothing more then to have a laundry service pick it up once a week and bring it all back folded and ready to put away. But then I might miss out on this lesson about why I feel overwhelmed some days and hopeful others.
But know that I have learned this lesson, if you know of any good deals on laundry services, please let me know.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A return to writing

In the autumn of last year, I returned to writing a weekly column for our local paper, the Berthoud Surveyor. It has been a time or growth for me as a writer. The craft of writing is best cultivated by practice but there comes a time where the habit begins to feed itself. Instead of needing to make myself write, I need to find more oppertunities to write; one article a week is not enough.
So I have retuned to this blog as an outlet.
I am typing on my smart phone while I wrestle to keep our yougest son in my arms. I am earning my profile name right now.