Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Decade in Review

10 years ago today I was great with child. Seriously. The child who defied his due date and came on January 3, 2000, weighed in at 10 pounds, 2 ounces and was 24 inches long at birth. The birth (sunny side up) was agonizing but he was the happiest and mellowest little fella on planet earth till he turned 3 and concluded that it rocked to thunder and he hasn't been quiet since! The decade past has been Mr. Toad's Wild Ride...kinda like the decade before that...maybe this one will be calmer? Doubt that. I'm married to Adventure Man, a.k.a. Adrenaline Junkie and his little brood of Adrenaline Junkie off-spring. Not sure how I got mixed up with this crowd but I'm in too deep to back out now. While I have a bunch of hopes and dreams for the next decade I thought it'd be interesting to review what I've done the know, a person who doesn't know history is damned to repeat it and all of here goes...
  • I have lived in 4 different homes
  • Moved from the Southwest to the North Midwest
  • Birthed 2 more children in addition to the 3 we had
  • Nursed for 26 additional months
  • Painted an entire house from ceiling to floorboards including but not limited to inside cupboards, doors, trim, and kitchen cabinets. Meanwhile, Viking Man built a 154' backyard fence and did a kitchen make-over, adding cabinets and counter-top. We made a tidy little profit on that house, which we owned for just 18 months.
  • Bought and sold our first house.
  • Bought a house and an acreage in one of the least populated states in the Nation, after having lived in one of the most
  • Bought and sold and buried sheep, goats, cats, fowl, and a horse
  • Landscaped, Gardened, Canned, Homesteaded
  • Cooked (so much it seems that it deserves it's own line on the page)
  • Wrote articles on homeschooling and parenting
  • Spoke to women and families about women and families, marriage, parenting and education.
  • Completed a second master's degree, this time in Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Homeschooled 10 more years (in addition to the 9 I'd already done)
  • Graduated 2 homeschool students - collectively that's 24 years of homeschooling I've done!
  • Saw my dad remarry (after my mom's death) to a lovely lady- another psychologist in the fam! Congratulations Dad and Corrine!
  • Survived my oldest dd's international travel
  • Started 3 successful homeschool programs in our local area
  • Brought TeenPact to our state
  • Survived my dh's job being pulled out from under him and 2 years of re-grouping/ severe underemployment
  • Left a church (for reasons other than a move)
  • Stood by my KB's hospital bed as she awaited neurosurgery from a severe car accident. Despite having her brain exposed and a 1x3" piece of skull removed, she is fine.
  • Said "Good-bye" to 2 friends who bravely fought cancer
  • Rejoiced with 2 friends who are bravely fighting cancer
  • Stood in amazement as God provided a full ride, 4-year scholarship for our oldest dd to a college that is a perfect fit in so many ways.
  • Celebrated with family at my in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary! Congratulations Bob and Donna!
  • Attended my 48 yo sister's funeral. It hurts to say "farewell" to those we love
  • Watched my house burn. It hurts to say "farewell" to what we love
  • Watched my oldest daughter fall in love with a man
  • Fallen all the more in love with my dh who is a rare combination of Visionary & Do-er. He is brilliant, witty, athletic, passionate, committed and creative. We'll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this June, God willing. How does time stand still and move faster than the speed of sound at the same time?
  • Been amazed at God's continued LOVE, Grace & provision for me and for the World.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WW: Christmas at Our House was a Jolly Good Time

Flower's "best" present. "Elizabeth from" AG. Love at first sight.
KB wanted a guitar and we found a black Fender. Isn't it kewl? Perfect fit as black was always her fav color (even at age 3- believe me, her response to the fav color question at that age elicited concerned responses!)
Da' boys examining the uber Lego set Cub got. Feche-boy had a great time helping put it together proving that you're never to old for Lego's!

Fresh faced and newly turned 23. Miss. R practicing her foot-popping. R's Beau couldn't make it for a visit due to work but sent thoughtful and funny letters to everyone.

Peas in a Pod.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Homeschool Year in Review

A forum buddy over at TWTM has started a thread on best successes of the year. Thought it was a good idea to just do a basic review, especially as I need to see what we have, sort what we've been given and re-group in order to start spring semester next week.

The big win this fall was the discovery and utilization of Writing With Ease. Another excellent product from our friends over at Peace Hill Press We've used WWE I for Flower and her class at TDA and WWE 2 & 4 for Cub. It includes excellent literature, copywork, dictation, narration, grammar. What more could you want from a lower level eled writing program?

We have also loved the Classical Studies history program from Memoria Press along with the lit/history guides for high school: The Trojan War, Odyssey, Iliad, The Hobbit, along with the classic Famous Men series Work on cursive continues with New American Cursive. Simple and effective.

We stuck with Horizons Math for the 1rst and 4th grade. I'm looking for something else for 4th grade. The second semester's book is gone (via fire and smoke) and I'd like to find something that gives Cub a better sense of what he knows and end each math session with him feeling like a winner instead of frustrated. Feche Boy is still working through Saxon's Algebra I.

Science has been a wash. Feche Boy will start Bio I this spring, hopefully doing labs with a friend using Apologia, which I need to re-purchase. I've discovered more John Howard Tiner books so Cub and Flower will be reading more of those this next semester.

Modified, since the fire, TDA, for Art and Drama and the boys especially are being challenged by their art homework. Of course, we might just have the best art instructor in our corner of the world. Music puttered out but I plan to revive it in a week with a composer study and basic theory. I figure the years I spent singing in choirs and playing in bands (flute, piccolo, sax) should hold me in good enough stead for a basic music class.

Tantara, the Festival of One Act Plays, is at the end of January and we have begun practice. We have, once again, an award winning script, a great directress, and a cast that is fun and funny.

Latin has been hard to hold on to this semester. Partly cause memory work has taken a big backseat and partly cause the CD's are, I hope, in the pod, but not with us. Feche Boy is taking Latin through Classical Liberal Arts Academy starting next week: They have lots of offerings I'd love to delve into, but will have to wait.

Viking Man taught an Apologetics course based on the writings of C.S. Lewis for TDA's high school students; for 8 weeks at least. I'd love to be able to package and market both what he and Kristen Hickey, history,, taught. Both gifted teachers with a passion for people and the Word.

Memory Work has been on hold, too, though we've been listening to Classical Conversations Cycle 1 CD and have re-ordered Drew Cambell's Living Memory . We'll be back at it as soon as I get a new white board and markers.

TDA, as stated before, is still in modified form and we have some decisions to make for this spring and next fall. Still in gathering data mode (the story of my life right now). I'd also love to figure out how to incorporate insurance forms into some type of school/educational project but the creative juices just haven't flown in that direction so guess I'm on my own.

We haven't gotten as far as I'd hoped but we made it through the semester actually having completed coursework, despite illness, fire death and blizzard. As I've said before, I'm calling that a win.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homeschooling, the State of the Union & More... CBD interview with Richard Maybury

Richard Maybury, also known as "Uncle Eric" was recently interviewed by Christian Book Distributors. You might not agree with his economics or isolationist stance on government but he is always thought provoking and worthy of discussion. He has lots more to say than what I've cut and pasted here, including thoughts on the U.S./ Middle Eastern conflict. You can read the entire interview here:

Hope you find the following as interesting as I did:
CBD: Many of your predictions about the current conflict have come true. Do you have any new or updated predictions on what will happen in the next ten years?

The next ten years. Tough question. I’ll give it a try, but please keep in mind that this is all guesswork.
That said, one of the very few things about which I am absolutely certain is, when people play God, they always do it badly.Most of the population was raised in government-controlled schools, and they see the government as God-like, the solution to all their problems.Over the next ten years I think the war and its cost will expand, and the economy will worsen. Lots more inflation, business failures, unemployment and poverty.The U.S. government’s size, power and taxes will grow, as the population demands that their political God do something, anything, to save them. But it’s a false God, so it will not only fail, it will continue making things worse. As Ronald Reagan said, government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.I think there is a 90% probability the great crisis will be upon us within ten years. One reason is that the whole generation of baby boomers was lied to about economics. And now, the World War II generation is retired, and everything is being run by the boomers. You don’t need to know any more than that to see why the economy is a mess, and why there are very few people in the government who have the foggiest idea how to fix it. They were all taught either Keynesianism or socialism, and for most, real economics will have little chance of penetrating their educations.In ten years, I think America will be an unrecognizable mess. In twenty, it will be either a Camelot that has returned to the Constitution, or it will be totally fascist.The outcome depends on what we do now. That’s why I wrote the Uncle Eric books, and it’s why I believe talking with the clergy is the indispensable key to the whole contest. It’s either God’s law or the government’s law; it can’t be both, because they currently contradict each other. We must return to a legal and political system based on the two laws.

CBD: Do you have any new advice for the up-and-coming generation of homeschoolers?

RICHARD MAYBURY: Yes. If you are not homeschooling your children, do it now, don’t delay, because there is no telling how long it will remain legal. When governments get themselves into the kind of geopolitical and economic trouble Washington has stirred up for itself, the politicians and bureaucrats don’t want people thinking for themselves. They want “unity,” meaning, we all think the same way — the way they tell us to.Homeschooling is diametrically opposed to groupthink, so I believe it will come under increasing pressure in many states. Do it now, while you still can.Incidentally, on the subject of homeschooling, I’m the voice of experience. Whenever possible, I hire people who were homeschooled, and I can tell you for a fact that most are self-starters who are smarter, harder working, more clever, mature and honest, and have vastly better social skills. With rare exceptions, the leaders of tomorrow will not be the conventionally public schooled, they will be the homeschooled.After all, it stands to reason. A child who is raised by someone who knows and loves her or him, is likely to be better off than one who is raised by strangers.
There’s also this. A deep, dark secret that no conventional public school wants us to understand is that the children aren’t really raised by the teachers, they are raised by the peer group.
A conventional public school is a peer pressure cooker. The teacher is spread far too thin to have much influence, but the peer group has the time and the manpower to spend hours per day, intensely focused on the individual child, to convert the child to whatever beliefs and behaviors are fashionable. It’s emotional mob rule, all day, every day. And, the peer group knows the child much better than the teacher ever will. It knows every chink in the child’s emotional armor.
Lots of couples say they’ll take too big a cut in their income if one of them stays home to educate the children. I’ve seen more than one of these cases in which they ended up spending all that extra money on psychiatrists and lawyers.
To each parent, I say, no one loves your child as much as you do. Homeschool as much as you can while it’s still legal, because the child who is well-raised by the people who love him or her has a much better chance at happiness and success.For God’s sake — and I mean that expression literally — a child is supposed to be raised by people who love the child! What could be more obvious?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy to the World!

There is a blizzard raging on the high plains and Viking Man & Feche Boy have gone out to help someone stranded on the road. Inside it is warm and cozy, full of good food and hot drinks and the anticipation of stockings and presents.
The Candlelight Christmas Eve service was cancelled at church last night, due to weather, but we used the script the notsolittles had for their parts in the readings and had our own. We've watched The Nativity and, not only is it a sweet love story between Joesph and Mary but it depicts well the ultimate love story between each one of us and the lover of our souls. Christ, in His infinite mercy and love, made Himself low, to tabernacle among us as a man.
Joy to the World, the Lord has come!
Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Daughter!!

Today is our oldest daughter's birthday! She is our guinnea pig baby, no matter how old; our adventurer, story-teller, laugh-factory. She can travel the world and find friends, loves the young and the old, is creative, funny, intelligent, passionate and faithful.
Not to sound too proud, she is also stubborn, strong-willed, and hard-headed. I attribute this to her father's gene-pool = ).
She's done adventuresome, crazy, life-changing and thrilling things in her short life. She plans on doing more.
She is grounded and deep and intellectual and a bubble-brain all at once. It always flabbergasts me how she can't get from one end of town to the other without going the long way around, but she can go from continent to continent all by herself and get there alive (praise God!).
She is a great writer, a great cook, a great friend, a great thinker, a great woman of God.

We LOVE YOU Miss.R!!

Looking forward with anticipation (and honestly, a little fear and trembling) to all God has for you!
You can read more about her adventures at her blog:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Heart Hurts

So often in the past couple of weeks I've had people comment in response to the house, "At least you all got out alive" and in response to the death of my sister, "At least she died peacefully." I am grateful for these things. Totally grateful. But honestly, in side, I am on spin cycle. My life is topsy turvey, upside down and backwards. The fire has been the most disruptive on-going event in my entire life. I can't even fathom the possibility of having someone die in the fire so I'm not going there emotionally. All I know is I feel overwhelmed, uncreative, at the end of my emotional resources, short tempered, and restless.
And I can't even tell you how grateful I am that my sister died peacefully, but darn that, she was 48 for pete's sake. I am caught off guard, frequently, by profound grief. I want to bend over and wail and mourn and lament. It's not that we were so "close." It's that we had a relationship that was for life and now her life here is gone. I could count on Sue. I could count on her to be available, to be generous, to be accepting, to understand goofy, stupid references and laugh out loud and long with me, to share my history, to love my kids, to befriend my husband. And I could also count on her to be bossy, opinionated, strong-willed and down-right b*tchy. It didn't matter. When push came to shove, she was my big sis and that was that. We'd been through enough of each others crap in life to see the dross in living, muddy color and to be dazzled by the gold. I don't want her to be gone. I don't want to have this profound sense of loss and hurt in my heart. I don't want things to be tospy-turvy and me to be short tempered and irritated. And I don't want to be so petty that I am grieving over things that were thrown away. I want to be bigger than that. To be full of grace in difficult circumstances, to be full of gratitude that no one died in the fire and that Sue died peacefully. I am grateful, but the gratitude feels crowded out by this feeling of intense sorrow.
We are certainly a grief denying culture, but I can't deny the grief I have. I know, truly, that "things" will work out. That we'll look back on this year and rejoice in all of the many ways God scooped us up and carried us. But for now, the loss just hurts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Overwhelmed by Grace

A knock on the door. At 6:30? It's pitch black out, sleeting, we don't know anyone in the neighborhood and few people know our new address. A man in a Santa hat with a huge smile informs us that he has some Christmas items for us and wonders if he can bring them in. We nod in a kind of dumbfounded manner as I query, "Who are you?" He shrugs and smiles. Within minutes a flock of Santa hatted, smiling, singing people are walking in, wiping their feet and walking to the kitchen, loaded with boxes and bags of food. Turkey and ham and soup and fruit and candy and household products and lots more. They sing a carole, turn around and start filing out. Each one looks me in the eyes, wishes me a "Merry Christmas", touches my arm, smiles.
We stand at the window and wave and 4 car-loads of friends that we don't know wave back.
Overwhelmed, once again, by GRACE.

In the boxes a small pink note that says "Merry Christmas from the S.F. Ghosts of Christmas."
We are blessed. Beyond measure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vision Revision.

In college I was the student coordinator of the Annual Festival of Faith and Art called Vision Revision. The year I coordinated Calvin Miller was the guest speaker and a darn good one at that. Ever since I've been committed to the proverb, "without a vision the people will perish," and conversely one of my own, "with a vision, the people will thrive." Which is why I particularly like "success" stories such as the one related to the flick we watched this past week-end, "Pendragon."

Created by Burns family productions it's written, scored, directed, and starred in by a group of people with a clear vision. There were moments of cheesy acting, slow dialog and questions on the authenticity of the costumes or weaponry, but overall our fam gave it a big thumbs up. 1/2 way through viewing one of the kids asked if the Burns family were homeschoolers and sure enough they are. Burns Family Productions consists of a group of homeschooling families having a blast with history and media and winning awards left and right with their little foray in to the world of cinema . You can find out more about it here:

I've been described as driven in the past as well as just recently and it's not an assessment that I agree with. During one conversation another friend stepped in, put her arm around me and said, "She's not driven, she has vision." I'll take that as a compliment. I love "success" stories like the Burns family, the Kendrick Brothers (Sherwood Films) and others because it gives me hope of fulfillment, which I believe is the meaning of Hope in the Hebrew. It's about completion.

I've felt knocked off balance of late, for good reason you might agree. Being burned out of our home, a dd's E.R. visit complete with CAT scan, the death of my sister, Viking Man with pneumonia, having a abscessed cyst removed all within a matter of days was disorienting to say the least. I've been floundering with what the vision has been, distracted by others ideas and demands, disoriented by grief, consumed with the house and re-locating. We've been on survival mode, but I keep having glimpses of what the vision is. It's calling to me, but I'm not sure how to articulate what I see could be. I feel unsure about how to proceed. And I've wondered at times if that has been the whole point of this on-going, relentless foray into disorder and chaos. Distraction. My prayer of late has been that God gives me a clear vision, that He refines my hope. That He gives me the tools and understanding and courage to really go for what He's called me to do. I keep having glimpses, and I know what the end could be, I'm just not sure of how to get there.

Clarity of vision. Hope fulfilled. The Vision Refined and Revised.

Prayers appreciated.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

WR: Lowering the Bar

Just thought I'd give it a shot. Bear in mind that this week we lowered the bar.

Monday- spent time with a friend who came over with yet more items for the house. Kids played and did whatever. I think Feche Boy might have read some of the Odyssey. It's Barbie land in the living room and Bionicle World in the family room. Classical Ed world, right here. Ha.
Tuesday - had several false starts on the trip to MN to pick up Rachel for the last leg of her return home. Finally went back home with sacks of Happy Meals and the notsolittles while KB and Feche Boy went to the big city. I worked on inventory sheets. The littles played and watched Santa Clauses 1& 2. I joined them for 3. The older kids returned home with harrowing stories of near fatal car incidents. I think all of our IQ's might have plummeted by a couple of points and my left elbow shows all the signs of a sports injury due to hours spent bent over a computer.
Wednesday - last day of modified TDA. Drama, art. The younger kids made structurally unsound gingerbread houses and trees, had a blast on the play-ground and gym. We did finish up Pilgrim's Progress, which the kids loved. KB was aghast that we read the kids a story where everyone died in the end and wanted to know if it was written during the Black Plague. Uh, no. The older kids had serious play practice as Tantara season has officially begun. Actually ate salad with dinner. Could cause a gastronomical revolution.
Thursday - went through piles of clothes with Miss. R. I think Feche-Boy and Cub read a little. Flower and I read stories, first her, then me. I love the level books. Returned items to Stuff Mart- broken stuff straight from the box. ugh.
Friday- returned more items that won't work/don't fit to 4 different stores. Went Christmas shopping with Miss.R. Reviewed the events and stresses of the last 3 months. Given how well everything turned out there is still a lot that just didn't turn out well.
Met up with friends from Rapid who gifted us with yet more toys/curriculum. We have been overwhelmed with kindness.
Viking Man and I finally used a year old gift card and celebrated our June anniversary by going out to a nice restaurant. It was great to sit across from each other, hold hands and order whatever we wanted from the menu. His body temp runs hot, or at least warm and while I get cold in September and thaw around late May, he is usually peeling off layers. I'm huddled in the corner shivering and he's sweating. I would say opposites attract but I get hung up on the line in Treasure Planet where Dr. Doppler says, "you know what they say, "opposites, well, repel, actually, but...." so I'll just drop it. Did a little more Christmas shopping. Actually I think the majority of our Christmas items can be counted under replacement items on our insurance claim. Twofer.
The insurance company totaled out the house. Love the check. Too bad most of it doesn't belong to us. New relationships to be formed at the bank. Thank-God our mortgage was held by a local bank. Really appreciating our claims adjuster.

Friends that we know from Pierre not only sent us a box of brand new curriculum but also a box of wrapped and wonderful advent gifts. It has been a high light for the notsolittles to read and open a present each evening. Last night Cub unwrapped bathtub crayons and both of them woke up wanting baths. What a sweet blessing. And I'm so behind thank-you cards. But every.single.night. I thank God for the Borah family and their generous act of kindness that has blessed our family so much.

The big news of the week is that no-one keeled over from Fast Food Poisoning and everyone survived everyone elses mood swings. "I'm not a therapist or anything (unless you live here or are related to Viking Man or I) but I think s/he suffers from mood disorders." Still sorting out the tragedy and blessings of the last several months. Another week survived. I call it a win.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


My life has been about sheets lately. First off, some friends from church, who happen to own a furniture store, among the many other things they do vocationally and avocationally, blessed our family with beds. Nice beds. Pillow top, comfy, fall into bliss beds. If you are in the market for quality, beautiful furniture and great customer service visit our friends, the Klein's, at
Platte Furniture Mart: 518 Main Street Platte, SD 57369(605) 337-3028.

It's been a lot of fun decorating aforementioned beds. We've been gifted with soft, warm, beautiful sheets and comforters from friends from all over. Flower was given a too cute bed set with tea pots and flowers. The boys were given custom made American Indian motive sets, and KB has stuck with down. The generosity of God's people has continued to blow us away.When I'm not sleeping on my comfy bed I've been filling out inventory sheets for the insurance company. As we off-loaded the contents of the house to the gravel truck we wrote down as much descriptive information as we could. Now I am assigning a price per line-item. It's kinda of interesting as it's virtual shopping for what we've already owned but it also gets pretty tedious. There are sheets and sheets of these pages, 30 lines to a page. I've had to laugh a couple of times because of few of the items that we received for our wedding are now classified as antiques. Seriously. And most of the stuff that I have from my mom, mother-in-law, and grandma are totally in that category. It's been an interesting look into the value of "stuff"as well as a look at the evolution of items. For instance, the sewing box my mom had from when she was a kid, and was a classic plastic box, with little drawers in it, has morphed into zippered, plastic, sectioned, high-faluting storage units that micro-manage your projects. I'm thankful that if we had to have a fire, it was done after the advent of google. I asked our claims adjuster what people did before Internet and he said, "wondered the aisles of WalMart"- egads. While googling item values by internet isn't on my top 30 Fun-things-to-do list, wandering the isles of StuffMart finding prices would send me to 4th floor somewhere fast.
In other news Miss. R is home for a short break from college. We haven't had washer and dryer facilities for over a week and while there is plenty of room for her to sleep, clean sheets and towels have been a different story. Once we get our set hooked-up we'll be focusing on cleaning sheets.
Sheets, sheets and more sheets.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On Kingship & Intimacy

Heard a sermon on Friday night about knowing God intimately. Knowing God intimately. Knowing God in such a deep and personal way that we are transparent and transformed by knowing Him, for intimacy does that to us and for us.

I know my husband's hands. I know them by sight or touch. I've held his hands for over a quarter of a century and I know that they will be warm, well-manicured, gentle, strong and confident, creative and expressive. I know that if they are shaking he's hungry, if they are cold he's sick. I know my husband's hands as well as my own and I love his hands. I know the attributes of them, the feel, the scent, the touch. I am intimately acquainted with them and they have changed me..... do I know the attributes of God as well? Do I see and feel and hear and smell who God is? Am I intimately acquainted with Him?

I've been impressed in the last 3 years about the Lord's kingship. I've had pictures in my mind's eye about His throne room, His throne, His majesty. Our smallness. Our humanity in light of HIM, the great I AM. That we are only significant in light of all He's created because He allows us to be. That, as vassals, we wouldn't even be invited in to the Holy of Holies without a personal invitation. But, in His Grace, He invites us in. He includes us in His Glory. He says, "Come, dine at my table, dance at my wedding, be my son, my daughter, my beloved." And in His Glory, His divinity, His majesty and splendor He says, let me get to know you. Follow so closely in my footsteps that the dust of heaven kicks up in your face and covers you with it's Glory. Follow me as Your King and I'll know you as my beloved.
Known and loved by the King.
A blessed Sabbath.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Myrna!

My friend Myrna had a birthday yesterday. She has grown older with grace and humility. She laughs easily. She exudes joy. She and her husband of 52 years are still in love, still growing, still serving, still laughing.
Thank-you, Myrna, for shinning the light of God's love wherever you go! May this coming year be one of JOY and HOPE.
Happy Birthday, Myrna!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Road & The Way

Read "The Road" yesterday. Odd that I had time and was without kids, but so it was. Feche Boy, KB and I had considered going to see the movie as the reviews were pretty good and I picked up a paper back copy to pre-view it. The writing was more poetry than prose throughout and the author, McCarthy is the master of the VSS (very short sentence for those non-IEW grads). Basically it's an existentialist view of what happens when the lights finally go out and the comforts of modernity cease to exist. Cannibalism and scavenging are the only means of survival and the author paints a horrific tale of life without meaning, future, hope or God. Viking Man and I were talking about some of more horrific scenes; basically where humans are kept alive as cattle and parts are harvested for food as needed. The "Boy" is horrified, demands answers from "The Man" and is told that "we are the good guys" and "we carry the flame." The flame of what is not defined, more's the pity. In other words, they don't eat other humans and would starve rather than do so. But honestly, without a value system that transcends ourselves, what is the point in NOT becoming cannibalistic. Seriously. God is hinted at but never named and The Man places his hope in the relationship with The Boy rather than in something or some One that transcends himself. The book was an interesting read, given the authors writing style, and for the fact that it saved us money at the theater I'm glad I purchased it. Other than that it was dark, dreary and worth skipping. It's Christmas after all and besides bright lights we are hanging our hope on the LIGHT of the world, whose birth we celebrate this season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shrink Speak

Dr. Viking Man, long time shrink, summed up the house situation yesterday by saying, "I feel like I've been in a 6 year long relationship with a borderline who finally offed herself." I asked if "she" (the house) intended to actually kill herself or just cause a lot of damage. His response, "With a borderline, it's always hard to tell."

Sad to say but we both howled. For a long time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Tonight the kids went swimming and KB and I sat watching, laughing, reading the non-informative paper, making fun of the "news" and texted back and forth, roaring with laughter at our own silliness and stupidity. Later we went on Craigslist and looked at furniture and possibilities cause we need pretty much a house worth-full and it didn't surprise me too much that we liked the same stuff.
We went on friends Face book pages and KB pretended to be me and vice versa and we left goofy messages.
I like my kids. Especially as they become adults and morph into like-minded friends. One of life's profound and simple pleasures.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I loved our house on the acreage, though having a zillion people help sort it, inventory it and haul the contents off was more than a bit of humble pie. Basically cause our house was messy. Just for the record I'd like to justify a little bit about why that was so.

1. There were a lot of people in it.
2. The people never left, as in we homeschool, so the majority of the people were there the majority of the time.
3. We did a lot of stuff. We had a lot of hobbies. We were curious about life. We tried things out, explored, got messy, made mistakes (think Ms. Frizzle).
4. We had a lot of books; we are a family of bibliophiles who use books, wear them out, get curious about the next thing.
5. We were busy with life. We cooked 3 meals a day, from scratch, usually for a whole passel of people, canned, chopped wood, homeschooled, read, walked the dogs, gardened, talked,etc. All of those activities detract from mess-organization.

We lived in our home. We lived on our property. I wish it hadn't been such a mess, more ordered, more organized, but I'm glad that we spent hours and hours outside gardening together, and hauling wood, homeschooling and talking and praying together and all of the other things that we did, even when the house needed cleaned. Cause we did enough of that, too.

I'm a bit anxious about what this move will mean. It will mean a lot more "comfort." There's a dishwasher, a heater, a small yard, etc. It's neat and modern and contains a lot of what one expects in a middle class neighborhood from a not-to-cheap/not-too expensive home. So, a lot of what we've spent our time doing on the acreage -the homesteading things- won't need done. For that I'm partially grateful cause frankly I've been feeling way over 40 lately. But the hours that we spent together working hard won't need to be done and there will be a lot more "leisure" time. I've already seen the effects of some of that and it's not really something I'm pleased with. Too much computer/"free" time and one has bored, uninterested, cranky kids on their hands. Living in a house, versus hotel, will, of course, change some of that, but I've been considering just how off the grid we've lived, in so many ways, for the past 14 years, both in New Mexico and in the Territories, and how that has shaped and molded each one of us.
It's a new season, that much is certain. And between on the edge of panic attacks I've been fighting off I'm curious to see what it holds. But for certain, right now at least, it won't contain our home. Our quirky, curious, beautiful friend of a place that was a big pain in the patooey, that was the perfect back-drop for Christmas, that held hopes and dreams and all of our mess and that is now empty and sitting alone in a valley.
It's o.k. really. But, True Confessions, I've cried and grieved over the house and the acreage and the place we knew as Home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Housing Update

We leased a house on Saturday. Nice living areas, a fireplace in the basement, good natural light and some trees in the back-yard. Front of the house.
Miss. Flower

The kitchen. Large, open, tons of cupboard space with sliding glass doors leading out to a deck and the back-yard.

The downstairs living area.
As soon as we procure beds and bedding we'll move in. We can put in a dog run, which is a relief, as our older, bigger dog is behaving like the last month has worn her out. I can relate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Viking Man hates stuffing and I love it. I have a killer recipe that I make once a year, he eats an obligatory serving and tells me I am the best cook in the world. That he loves my laugh. And asks if anyone has told me that I am beautiful lately. 24 1/2 years later and he still thinks I'm great. Love is blind in so many ways, but I'm o.k. with that. I'd rather be loved by someone who sees the art in me and whom I love back, than not.

I drive my kids nuts. I am too bossy and too scatterbrained as well as generally irritating, but smart and funny and a good Momma and Flower hugs me and says, "your the best Mom in the whoollle wide world" and Cub says, "I love you Momma" and Feche-Boy kisses me everynight and gives me a hug and says, "Good-night, Mom, I love you." and KB and I do the Mwah Mwah kiss cause I'd like to think I'm more elegant that I am and she truly is, and Miss. R FB's and emails and calls and keeps in touch and asks our opinions and tells us that she appreciates us and has a beau that she likes and cares that we like, and we do.
And our parents are alive and well and still married. Our siblings are our friends. We have a church that has been family in so many ways.

I am thank-full. For all that we have. For what's to come. For the surprise of a new day. For family that we live with and those far away that we love. For friends. For a new season.

Happy Thanksgiving
to you and yours and may the richness of your blessings overwhelm you with JOY!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gathering Places.

I've been thinking a lot about "Gathering places" and gathering times in my life as I near Thanksgiving- which is as big a gathering day as it gets in North America. I think of the places I've gathered in the past, almost 1/2 century, and realize that my life has been full of gathering places, that have been far more important than I've realized until now. It's always about the women in my life and "their" homes, though the husbands and Dads are always present, dressed nicely and glad for family to enjoy and feast with, but out of place with a whole day of not working.

The first gathering place I think of is Grandma Rummels. House immaculate. Frugal to the core. Food, hearty and plentiful and made with love and care. Cooking was her craft. Huge bowlfuls of perfect mashed potatoes, with a mound of butter nestled on top, platterfuls of homemade noodles, gastronomical perfection. If we could have, Sue and I would have eaten only potatoes and noodles. But there were also green beans and perfect sweet corn and peaches and some kind of meat, with rich gravy, and Beefsteak Tomatoes sliced into thick slabs and peppered and a zillion desserts. And always the uncles and aunts, who somehow didn't have many kids of there own but loved and adored us because, not only were we their oldest brother's oldest son's kids, but because they were kind and good. Aunt Dollie, who wore too much rouge and caused scandal by walking into the room with it on, even though she'd been part of the family for decades. She smelled sweet and fragile, always asked us to sing and would sit and listen with tears in her eyes, like we were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, showing up to grace her living room. It was a little boring, cause children were supposed to be seen, but not often, and definitely not heard, unless they were singing. Still it was safe and friendly and warm and inviting. Money was a taboo subject but it was understood that hard work earned it, debt was evil and frivolity, meaning spending on anything beyond food, shelter and basic clothing was sin, as was jewelry, movies and most of the world outside of their corner of it.

And then Grams house in the BIG city. Stuffed full of animals and books and notions and knitting and coffee, which we were privileged to drink, and accouterments and other luxuries that I don't remember but the smell of Grampas tobacco pipe and Grams' knitting and the kitchen. It was friendly and full of life and always warm and we were so loved and wanted there. We'd eat de shrveined shrimp and think we were elegant and cultured, and go shopping with Gram and out to lunch and basically get to buy whatever we wanted because Gram was a working woman and had owned a dry cleaner store, probably before women had the vote, and now worked for a BIG company in the BIG city. Gram was our friend. It was personal. She knew what we liked and gave us money to pursue our dreams. She taught us to knit and payed for our lessons and talked about books and the things she was reading and about her work. And Uncle Hank and Grampa were at home when we got back to admire the clothes and records and to say that we deserved to be spoiled and Grampa would pull 1/2 dollars out of our ears and hand them back to us and give us ice-cream in cool 1/2 pint cartons between meals. Gram took us to every single Disney movie ever made and when I'd go visit her from college we'd spend the week-ends going to movies and out to eat and talk and laugh. Whenever I had a crisis, from age 8 on up, Gram would let me cry and tell me, "it'll be alright, Baby." And I knew I was one of her babies and it would be alright.

And Mom's house. With familiar dishes and food, like green bean casserole which I will, probably to my chagrin, admit that I secretly LOVE, and always new and interesting food. All of us, including Dad cooking and getting dressed up and making an occasion out the Holiday. And flowers on the table and everything clean and neat and tidy. With a football game on later, or maybe a movie, or more friends over and popcorn, inevitably, because our family believed it had it's own tier on the food pyramid, which is a belief I still hold to. And frequently after feast hikes in the damp, late fall. Full of wet leaves, and the smell of someones wood fireplace and the crisp air burning off platters worth of food. And going back to the house to snack or not but to continue the lack of routine and wash dishes together.

And my Mother-in-Laws house. Comfortable. No pretense. No formality. No china. But familiarity and ease and Aunt Doris' clan and familiar people all getting caught up on how things are and have been. And kids and ping-pong games and maybe a puzzle or a board game. And routine and stability.
My house has been a gathering place for our immediate family, and at times, those folks that we've gathered along the way to journey with, or family that occasionally visits, like the many Easters in New Mexico. But, mainly for the 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of us as our family has grown. China from great-grandma, and a menu that's planned with familiar favorites and new recipes and always flowers, cause flowers are a must for any occasion. And when KB was little, homemade, hand print place cards. And pictures around the table, with the feast laid out, and everything clean and neat and just-so. And good music on thanks to Miss R. or Viking Man and sparkling cider. A spectacular desert, which is just as important as flowers. Perhaps apple or pumpkin pie or a truffle or ice-cream, or all of the above, crafted and beautiful as well as delicious.
We've lost memories and our gathering place this month and we've cried over the memories that we won't be making this season. But, Viking Man has comforted us all with the thought that God holds all of our memories in His vast store house of knowing and they are safe with Him. We don't have to remember everything. And that has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders and allowed me time to remember some excellent things, and gathering places and seasons that have shaped me, comforted me, guided me, molded me. And the knowledge that all of those gathering places are with me, despite the place or lack-thereof.
May your gathering places be blessed this week. May God hold your memories, both those past and those to come and may you be blessed this season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I am a refugee living in the lap of luxury.
Free laundry, pool, hot breakfasts, stove, refrigerator, clean linens, towels and
hot, running water.
And we are sad, grieving, feeling a profound sense of loss.
House burned and charred.
Stuff thrown out.
Season change.

But I've been wondering a lot.
(cause Justice rears its head and demands to be reckoned with)
About other mothers and their crying children
whose homes have been burned by war, terror, hatred;
things more profound and chilling than bad wiring.
That are homeless and wandering.
Hungry, shoeless. Dirty. Cold. Illiterate.
And we talk insurance numbers into the thousands of dollars,
maybe even higher
and worry about what was lost.
When others have nothing and no hope of reclaiming or restoring.
I'm humbled.
As I ride the elevator.
And clean my clothes with designer detergent.
And brush my teeth in running water.
And soothe aches with hot tubs.
And cry, with soft white tissue in hand.
And eat hot food, made with love, by those who care.

And I wonder.
At other mothers.
Whose children cry.
But have no blanket to cover them.
Or new toy to snuggle with.
Or nourishing food to feed them.
Or good book to enrich their souls.

I wonder.
At their burden.
And mine seems...pretty shallow.
Not so much.
What's to come.
More of what we had.
Enough. More than enough.
And there are so many that live with nothing.
And we have so much.
So much.
I am humbled.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Why Memory Work is Important.

Today was a hard day for the not-so-littles. Friday we spent lots of time looking at rentals together. Yesterday was spent at the property and, thanks in great part to faithful friends, got the last of the stuff out of the house. Yesterday was clean out the basement day; dark, damp and smoky. I don't use the words, "faithful friends," lightly. If you were there yesterday, THANK-YOU!!!

Today, we drove out to the house in the morning to get things under cover before the season of rain and snow start in earnest. Today Flower and Cub fell apart. They were mad, angry, irritated, and sad.sad.sad. It started with a discussion about rental properties and barn cats. We had a bumper crop this year and are up to 6. These are not your typical stand-offish, 1/2 wild barn cats. This are loved on, named (first, middle and last), taught to neck-ride cats that have been found and cuddled since day 1. Rental properties and roaming barn cats aren't a great fit. That realization hit over breakfast.

Next up was a discussion about stuffed animals and where the vast and decades old (we've had kids for a long time) collection of Beanie Babies, (thank-you Grandma Donna!) went. Lest you think I joke we counted Beanies into the 100's. Each one inventoried long before fire and insurance forms made their way into our lives, played with, and loved on by certain kiddos in our family. Smoke and small stuffed animals, no matter how cute, don't scream "Keep Me." That realization hit about bed-time tonight.

KB and I were planning the week and the discussion turned once again to the house. Flower started crying, recalling memories she had of singing on the front porch together, running out the front door in the freezing cold and dark of night to look at the latest astronomical wonder that GeekDad had announced, eating breakfast on the porch in the summer, walking to the river, all the while crying, crying, crying. KB tried to calm her saying that we weren't sure what would happen to the house yet and Miss. Flower, who has been an excellent, but not always happy about memory work, student began quoting one of our memory verses from last year, "to everything there is a season, a time to build up and a time to tear down." And the tears flowed. Poor little thing.

We've often been told that our "kids are just smart," or "not everyone can do what your kids can do." All of which might be true on any given day (though if you joined us for homework these days you might laugh at just how dull we are can be). Yea, I'm pretty sure my kids are smart. But, I also know that my kids are trained. Flower has been doing lots of memory work for the past 2 1/2 years. She doesn't even begin to love it. She doesn't like how tedious it is. She'd rather be playing. She'd rather have a girl party and paint her nails. She'd probably rather be cleaning toilets. Seriously. But despite all of that she's had to participate in memory work, including memorizing large portions of Scripture. Tonight I realized that not only does she understand the words of Scripture that she's memorized, but that she can apply the theology in profound and meaningful ways.

And I am humbled. I am in awe. I am crying with my wilted little Flower that is feeling burdened and sad, but knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is in control and gives and takes away. An I am trusting that the God she believes in will hear her faithfulness and her sorrow and gather her tears and her memories and relieve her burden.

Cub admitted tonight that he didn't want to go to church, that he was mad at God for taking his house and the property and his cats and the dogs and the toys (no mention of clothes out of him, imagine that!) and he was pretty sure that he shouldn't go to church feeling like he wanted to punch out a window. Then he asked me if he was bitter. Which provided an opportunity to talk about getting committed to anger and frustration and disappointment and how important forgiveness is and that God is big enough to take all of his anger, which seems overwhelming to him, but is nothing to a mighty God, and loves him anyway. And he cried and went to church (though, True Confessions, we let him read a book during the service).

And now they are sleeping. I truly believe, and say frequently to my offspring, that sleep is cheap medicine. And I pray that God is restoring them as they sleep and that they wake up refreshed and full of vigor. Cause tomorrow, little do they know, we're actually gonna get some school done, including Memory Work.

A blessed Sabbath!

Friday, November 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes

Heard back from contractors and it looks like one the biggest decisions that we have to make about the house is already made.
Jen at Conversion Diaries, host of Quick Takes, mentioned that when she nurtures her Diet Coke addiction, her craving for sugar heightens as well. I can't find the source but read an article years ago that Diet drinks with caramel (like Coke and Pepsi) cause tumor growth. Something to think about.
In another Quick Take Jen shared that she feels the old decluttering adage of "you'll never miss it" is a lie. Throwing away stuff by the ton, literally, which is one way to declutter but not what I would personally recommend (due to fire and smoke damage) has caused me anxiety all week. Not sure what we'll miss yet as we are becoming hotel rats.

Looked at houses to lease for 6 months this week, that will allow lots of kids and dogs. It's not a long list.

Actually did some school work with the kids this week. Feche Boy asked about signing up for on-line Latin. Still need to replace some school items.

Walked through Sam's on the way for yet more antibiotics. It was interesting to see full carts, some already carting Christmas gifts and ornaments, because we haven't done much actual shopping for the past month (In part due to my gifted shopping friend, Tamara- thank-you, Tamara!), in part due to the fact that don't have a permanent residence. We usually decorate for fall in late September and the day after Thanksgiving pull out all of the Christmas decorations. Viking Man has a twinkle light obsession and a 3 story farmhouse and 10 acres provided him with the room he needed to light up our world. Twinkle lights were stored in the basement so they are long gone. Here I am sad over twinkle lights and the normal routines that I've counted on like cooking all next week and China on Thursday and picking a tree out the next week-end and the old Christmas ornaments and the twinkle lights. I am in a pitiful mood.

Got "Bucket List" to watch tonight. I figure it's a good time to evaluate what we still want to get done on this side. It certainly seems like now is an obvious turning point in our lives. I've been thinking about my sister and how the morning that she passed away she was all set to go swimming and then scrapbooking. Hoping that she got done all of the things that she wanted to do, that she loved all the people that she was called to love, and that there were no regrets. And that's how we are trying to do things- with no regrets, but it sure feels like the water is murky right now. Really murky.
As always, hope on over to Jennifer's at Conversion Diaries for more Quick Takes.


Feeling wrecked and de-railed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WW: Still laughing.

Who really knows when they get married what "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" will really mean? It's been a rough fall but we are still believing in God's sovereignty and still laughing! (sometimes at each other = ).

Monday, November 16, 2009


We have been, what seems to me, insanely busy, and totally out of any semblance of a routine. The kids have had a great time using the hotel swimming pool and the close proximity of friends, but inversely spending way too much time on the computer and not doing any reading. We did get laundry caught up today, washed tons of dishes, and looked at rentals, but the math that we were going to get done, didn't. Primarily because we never did find the math books. This is not a good thing. Truly, it was what I grabbed on the way out the door the morning of the fire.
We had a long work day at the property last Saturday and hauled 2 concrete trucks worth of household stuff to the dump, plus a pick-up truck worth of appliances. The first and second floors, as well as the attic are empty, and 1/2 the basement. Still to go are the 1/4 basement that is mostly charred whatever, which I think we'll just take shovels to, and 1/4 basement that was the workroom. What's left fills a not-so-large pod.
Through it all the animals are doing o.k. but the kids are discontent. They are bored and anxious, want to be with their cats and dogs and are having disturbing dreams. Shocker.

It's odd what has been meaningful to them throughout the last couple of weeks. Viking Man and I sleeping in the same bed- which we didn't at our first locale because they were all in the beds with us and the sizes weren't conducive to that many people and sleep. Watching familiar videos together, that we know most of the lines to and quote at odd times, which we did tonight (thanks Michelle, for the loaners!) and for holding hands together before we pray, including whoever might be joining us. Rituals and routines that say, "All is well, despite havoc."
Read a great little book about that many years ago by Alexandra Stoddard, "Creating a Beautiful Life." Which is what we're attempting to do, in the midst of the mess.

Mr. Hopkins, Miss. R's beau, emailed me the morning of the fire,
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3
We certainly have had a lot to give thanks and praise for, and I'm praying that we all find JOY unspeakable and that it embraces us like a garmet. I've found it interesting that I've had the opportunity to share about the accident that the kids survived 5 years ago, but they left KB with part of her skull missing several times lately. It is still a powerful testimony to God's miraculous saving grace and I found myself crying today as I shared the story with a friend. Another tragedy that wasn't. God's power to save is greater than anything else. Anything.
Back to earth, we've heard from contractors and it seems like the insurance company has made some decisions. We need to make some of our own and soon, regarding the house and what's next.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Anchors and Why You Need the Church, Part II

Not only has our church been amazing, but people of faith around the country have stood in the gap for us in tangible ways in the past three weeks. My in-laws Sunday School at Stillwater U.M. Church in Dayton, Ohio:; the students and staff at Boyce College:; friends who I've only met on-line at The Well Trained Mind forums:; our friends Melissa Molstad and her mom, Pamela Opland, who loaded us down with every.single.Mary Kay moisturizer and lots of other fun MK stuff as well; Reid and Hope Friese, owners of CherryBean Coffee Company,who have given us boatloads of free coffee, warmed up food and kept our house key besides, friends from in the area (like Lori and Mike and Cyndi and Stan - we LOVE you guys!!) and other friends from as far back as college who knew Sue, friends we homeschooled with years ago in NM, as well as those around the country who have sent letters and gifts of money, games and toys, and words of encouragement. My long time friend, Laura, who has gone through fires and trials of her own, and has been my friend through thick and thin sent me this Willowtree ornament: Celebrate, With Joyful Anticipation. What a sweet reminder that there is always more ahead because God knows the plans that He has for us, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope, when we search for Him with all our hearts.

Why I have needed the church is because we've been walking through a valley. And the church has been there to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to us as we've been walking. Chances are that you'll walk through a valley soon, if you aren't already. And two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. (Ecc. 4:9). You need the church, because you'll need the support and love and encouragement that only a community of faith can give. And honestly, it needs you. Because if you are not going through a valley yourself, someone else is, and you are being called to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to someone who needs to know they are loved and cared for.
You need the church and it needs you. It's that simple.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anchors & Why You Should Go to Church

I hope I've said it before but just in case I haven't I'd like to say that our church rocks. You can read about it here: The Church at the Gate, under the leadership of Pastor Steve Hickey is a conservative, Bible believing, charismatic group of people who believe in putting their faith into action. You can see this in many ways; for instance, the fact that there are people meeting in our church and using the rooms and the building pretty much every single day, morning, noon and night. Secondly, during every election our church comes out in droves to campaign and pray for our government and issues that are up for vote.

Our church has put their faith into action in so many ways that have affected us personally in the past 3 weeks that I probably won't even remember them all. They have showed up to put plywood over axed out windows, done laundry, fed us, clothed us, prayed for us, provided hot showers and shampoo and toothbrushes, shopped for clothes and medicine, given our kids toys and gifts, taken them for days as we've worked, shown up to sort and inventory and throw away, hugged us, gifted us monetarily, cooked for us, and told us over and over that they loved us.

4 days after the fire that burned us out of our house, my sister died. At that point our church made sure that we could get to the funeral, prayed for us some more and sent a monetary gift to the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Sue's honor. I can not even tell you how deeply touched I was by this specific act of generosity and care.

And now that we are home again, we are overwhelmed by friends in church and from church that are calling to find out how we are doing, asking us what we need, checking to help us find a rental and on how the kids are doing, grabbing us to give us a hug and telling us that they have been praying for us specifically each and every day.

Today we started up our modified TDA (The Daniel Academy) program again and during devotionals we read the following from "The Little Pilgrim's Progress," You know what is the use of an anchor. If it is firmly fixed the sailors do not mind how rough the sea may be. The anchor holds their vessel safely, though the waves may be tossing and the wind roaring all around them. So if you love the King, the hope that He will help you will keep your heart from failing. And, though you may be in the greatest danger or difficulty, you will never be really afraid."

Our anchor of late has been the Lord, Jehovah Jireh, and His church. And, specifically, our church, The Church at the Gate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WW: House Fire

The upstairs bathroom- all of the porcelain is smoke stained.
The master bedroom.

The kitchen.

The corner where we first smelled burning plastic. The fire was already burning under the kitchen floor and had gone into the vents and was burning whatever was in front of it.
A good idea of what all of the vents are now looking like.
The basement stairwell.
The vent in the boys bedroom, right next to the chimney (which the fire had also gotten into).

The stairwell upstairs. This wall was knocked out to get to the fire in the chimney.

This used to be the hall going downstairs to the basement. Now a breezeway to the kitchen.

The kitchen. We can't go into it because the timbers under it are burned to a crisp.
One of the dining room windows. Axes and wood window frames are not a winning combo.
From the back door looking up the stairwell. The kitchen is on the left.
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver me from the snare of the Fowler, And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover me with His feathers. And under His wings I shall take refuge. His truth shall be my shield and buckler. I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
Psalm 91: 1-6

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Puddleglum and Life's Purpose

I cry and grieve and heave trash bags full of life's stuff to the front yard.
Awaiting a bigger dumpster to haul it away, where it will live unceremoniously as land-fill.

Stuff, after all, is what there is too much of.
Getting in the way of people, vision, callings.
But, true confessions, I have doubts. I question. I want comfort. I want a place of rest. I want beauty, if only in a couch these days.

I watch idealistic children, those we've raised, who have plans and purposes way beyond comfy couches, challenge me.
But I'm middle aged enough to question. Have we chosen well?
Did we really follow a greater calling?
Or are we lunatics?
If I blame him, am I off the hook? Do I have to participate in owning the crazy part of how we've lived and why?
Banking on ideas and prayer that sounds like we are people of the corn instead of mature, educated, thoughtful and deliberate.

doubts and questions. Yes. And my man answers that it's all about Puddleglum. How's that for an educated repsonse? The hope of what we live for beats all hollow the reality others have. Truly. I'm spared my own melancholiness by a children's story that is part of the DNA of our family so much that we all know the reference and refer to the character as a beloved member of the family.

And I'm comforted. I can rest. I'm assured. The reality is that I'm too timid to be a pragmatist. I need more. I need hope and beauty and comfort and the assurance that I'll see those I've loved again who have died. That there is a greater purpose than the mundane. That the stuff is secondary to the hopes and plans my God has for me.

Me and Puddleglum and my idealistic Man and our idealistic children and C.S. Yep. My people. Our hope.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Me & Mother West Wind

As we are sorting and bagging and throwing most of our household possessions away I am caught off guard by what hurts.

My mom was adopted, but remained motherless until she was 8 years old. When she was 8 my Grandpa married the women who became my Grandma. She's 93 now and a shadow of herself, though her eyes are still soft and brown and warm and full of life. Her nickname was "Kitty" and if you knew her you'd know that it fits.

My mom couldn't read when Gram first came to the house so she made it her mission to teach her.
They spent every morning of that first summer together with Gram reading mom Shakespeare. Then Mom would read to Gram. At the end of the week, as a reward, Gram would take Mom to the 5 & Dime in their Windy City neighborhood and Mom could pick out a Mother West Wind book. She had a small collection of Original Mother West Wind stories, with the original covers and the original 35 cent price on the cover.

When Mom was sick and she and Dad moved for her health they downsized everything and somehow the Mother West Wind stories made it to me. I'd loved them as a child. The stories are sweet and the pages are soft and the hardback covers are sturdy and the covers are simple and lovely. They held a place of honor, in my mind at least, in the built in bookshelf in our living room.

Right where the fire was bad, the smoke horrible, the fire hose turned on full blast. The bookshelf burned and while there is some of the books left they came out of the bookshelf as one chunk, charred and burned and frail and damaged.

I'm grieving for the books. And for my mom who never got better but died instead; for my sister who is gone and with whom I've shared books and stories all of my life; for my Gram who has valued education and being a woman and faith and family and who is now frail and wispy; and for my house, which has been a home and a place of safety and refuge, which is empty and burned and full of choking smoke.

A book is such a small thing, really. But like KB said, our home was a home of ideas, like the books we've read so many times they've become part of us and the people that we've loved, imperfectly but for years,, so much that to imagine the world without them seems incomprehensible. Ideas and possibilities and hopes and dreams. And it's hard to go to the next thing yet because this season of throwing away and saying good-bye is intertwined with so much at once. The house and my family and memories and people and stories and good and hard.

I am trusting, once again, in words. Spoken by a man whose ideas and hopes have captured and captivated me for a quarter of a century. Words, stories, hope.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Richness of a Christian Funeral

My pastor recently blogged about the "Poverty of modern Christian funerals. You can read about it here: He links an article in Christian Century, describing the current trends in Christian funerals, which you can read about here. I read all of this with interest a couple of weeks ago, totally unsuspecting that I would be trekking east to attend the untimely funeral of my sister.

I've always liked my brother-in-law. I've known him since I was 15 and we've been good friends ever since. He is a solid, smart, funny, practical and wise man. He loved my sister well, despite a chronic illness that changed her personality, humor and abilities. I have the highest respect for him and love him all the more for his faithfulness and love for Sue. And honestly, for the funeral that he created. My sisters funeral was decidedly Christian, recognizing the hope of heaven. It allowed us time to cry and grieve together, was full of ritual and liturgy, songs that ministered to our heart hurt and focused on God's saving grace. For that I am forever grateful. The ritual of funeral allowed us to say "good-bye" to our daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend,with dignity and peace and also allowed us the opportunity to focus on the fact that we would see her again.

Doug chose a beautiful spray of roses for the coffin that was huge and colorful. Before they lowered the coffin, the pastor gave roses to the women, starting with her daughter, my sister and I. He handed me a red one and I cried. Cried for the love of my sister; cried for the loss that is now in my life; cried for what's to come. Cried for the hope of heaven and for healing. Thank-you Sue, for the beauty of your life. Thank-you Doug for celebrating it well.

From An Acceptable Time, by Madeline L'Engle, (with a slight revision), "All I know is that Sue gave me great riches, and we would, all of us, be less than we are if it weren't for those we love and who've loved us who have died."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It's been a long week, full of family and loss, tears and thoughts. Read a Madeline L'Engle book on the long way home after visiting my dear 93 year Gram in Chicago. Words heal.

The biggest laugh I had all week was in the middle of Nowheresville, IN in a vile little truck stop bathroom. I'm talking nasty. You could smell the sewer 10 feet from the bathrooms, they were stained and unclean, with not enough water, soap or paper towels available. But, sometimes a nasty bathroom is better than no bathroom and this was one of those times. I pulled out a required feminine product and there written on the side was this little gem,
"Live dangerously."
Seriously. Who gets paid to come up with this stuff? The real joke was in thinking just how dangerous using the aforementioned bathroom was.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roaring Banners

His banner
His banner over me.
A roar
Lion of Judah roars.
The whole earth trembles.

Hears from the greatest to the least.
Small, infinitesimal particles and out beyond the heavens.
I breathe.
Not do, say, think, hear, know, understand.

The Roar.
The Lion.
My banner.
Over Me.

The demons flee
banished to outer darkness.
And then.
Life for death.
Healing for ill.
Joy for tears.
Beauty for ashes.

The roar drowns out the doubt.
Fills the void and then,
Light grows. Warm, vibrant. Beauty unspeakable.
A banner.
A banner over me.
Love. Perfected Love.

His Name.
His banner.
His roar.
His banner over me.
I breathe.

Isa 59:19
So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.

My First Best Friend.

My sister Sue died yesterday morning. I see her dancing round the heavens with Jesus. No more pain. No more sorrow. Just.Pure.Joy.

Please pray for her family, her husband, Doug and beautiful kids, Aaron, Dan and Monica. Her sweet girl, Monica, found her.

I am profoundly sad.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We spent yesterday at the house, throwing away about 80% of the "stuff" on the first and second floor. The basement should come in higher and the attic not so bad. The kitchen is off-limits becasue the timbers under the floor have gone missing.

We'll talk to contractors this week and get estimates. The insurance agent is talking about maxing out the policy and writing a check and several people have mentioned bulldozing the house, selling the acerage and getting a different house.
Oh my.
I am hanging out with Cub and Flower today who are 1/2 sick, cranky, sad, irritable and bored. I'm feeling lousy myself and melatonin only goes so far helping one sleep. This week-end, not at all.
Miss R spent last night in a Kentucky E.R. trying to track down a blood clot around her heart. Thankfully, even though the test came back postive the CAT scan showed nothing. I think Jehovah Rophi had something to do with a quick and total healing. Praise be HE!!

Lots of decisions ahead. We covet your prayers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

He Provides

I want to be successful.
I am feeble.

I want to be strong.
I ache and hurt.

I want to be wise.
I am addled.

I want to have enough to give generously.
I am living off of the generosity of others.

What I have is gone.
What I want is not to be.
I crawl, like a bleeding, destitute woman to I Am and reach out
to touch the hem of the robe of Him.

He stands. He is clean, strong, creator, Abba, comforter.
I reach, ashamed, weak, crying, afraid.

He knows. Sees. Lifts my head. Gives me Hope.
Joy Unspeakable.
More than I can imagine.
More of You, Lord.
I need more of You.

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies."--2 Corinthians 4: 8-10