Saturday, August 7, 2010

At the core of me...

Food is important. Food is love and life and togetherness. Food is more than a necessary part of our lives. Food is social. It’s artistic. It’s therapy. Food seems to be at the core of me. And, THAT was given to me by my mama. ♥

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day



For most of my life, Memorial Day has pretty much been the mark of summer and good cook-outs and watermelon.

My father and his brother fought in WWII, but we didn't hear a lot about it and they both came back alive and well. My father felt deeply, but didn't talk a lot about his feelings. I know that he felt something on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, though. On each of those holidays, he flew a big American flag. It was a subtle, yet powerful reminder to him. But it didn't really hit me until yesterday.

Raney and I took our walk through the cemetery. There were quite a few people there who were cleaning tombstones and placing flowers on graves. The soldiers' memorial was surrounded by twenty-one huge American flags. And, all of a sudden, after 48 years of observing Memorial Day, it struck me what a HUGE thing all those soldiers have given for me. I don't even think I have ANY idea how huge a sacrifice they have made...and that humbles me.

So, even though you won't see a yellow ribbon on my car and even though I don't currently have an American flag flying outside my house... and even though I think war is awful and we should not even BE in Iraq,..I am grateful for the soldiers. I am grateful for their families who let them go. And, I am grateful that I live in the United States of America.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Scenes

Friday night usually means pizza and a movie in front of the t.v.

Tonight it was hot dogs and not-very-good french fries and a root beer packed for a picnic overlooking the water. The setting was in the back of the van with a picnic blanket and some flowers for ambiance. My dream evening would have included a beautiful sunset.

Even though the hot dogs and fries didn't really taste good, they tasted good. You know what I mean?

After we ate, we played a round of Hit or Miss. Then we packed our cold selves up and headed home.

I wasn't quite ready to give up on the sunset so we tried one more time at Marine Park. We sat there for a while and watched the water and the people coming and going and finally decided to head home.

As we were leaving the park, Harv came up with a fun idea...

The girls and I jumped out of the car and pretended we were the family from Little Miss Sunshine. We pretended that we were pushing the car so it would start. Harv, VERY CAREFULLY pulled forward and each one of us ran to jump in the van while the park-goers looked and wondered. We laughed and laughed.

On the way home we stopped for milk at Fred Meyer. Hannah decided that she wanted to go with me to get the milk.

This is an amazing thing to me... My almost-13 year old daughter walked into the grocery store holding my hand and THEN she wanted to dance down the aisle with me.

I obliged.
video

Another Lesson from Donald Miller


I'm still reading Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Yesterday I read about creating memorable scenes in our "story" -- scenes that stay with us long after they're over.

Miller told a couple of stories about people who had chosen to make memories instead of letting the moment slip by unnoticed.

One scene was of a father who chose to dress up and have his picture made with his daughter in her in her new prom dress.

Another scene was of a family choosing to send their guests off with a big ol' jump off their dock instead of a wave good-bye.

This morning my sleepy girls woke up and began their usual routine -- one girl showers while the other girl practices piano and then they switch. When Hannah came downstairs, Donald Miller's words about creating memorable scenes popped into my head. I wasn't coming up with anything grandiose, but I invited Hannah to sit with me by the fire. She snuggled in beside me and we sat in silence.

"Control Mama" was trying to bust out of me and get the routine back on track. However, this time, "Memorable Scene Mama" butted in and told "Control Mama" to shut up. So, the whole time Sarah was in the shower, Hannah and I sat in silence. Throughout the morning cuddle, I kept wondering "Is this a scene that Hannah will remember in the future? -- 'The day Mama let me skip piano practice and just cuddle with her.' I wasn't sure...I'm still not sure, but I thought it was something I needed to do...

I reapeated the cuddle by the fire with Sarah and wondered if it would be meaningful to her.

And, then, I wondered how can I create memorable scenes for all of my family? How can I "stir things up" so that my husband and children are surprised and begin to store lots of memories of our times together. And, what scenes can I create to make our marriage and our family stronger?

Just like the neighborhood meeting the other night, I don't know what will come of the morning cuddle or what scenes I can create with my husband that will stand out in the future.

I do know, though, that I want to change the course of my story a little bit--more action, fewer dreams of action.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walkin'


Slightly more than a year ago, we brought home our dog-child, Raney. What a gift!

Being the control-freak I am, it took a while for me to relax enough to take her in the off-leash area of the park. Eventually, I did.

Every day I would take her for a 2 1/2 to 4 mile walk -- some of which was off-leash. It was great for her (and it didn't hurt my training for the 3-Day either). And, slowly but surely, we began to notice the same people and dogs each time we went. There's Jim and Judy and their dog, Jack. There's Shola and her dog, Fozzie. And, there's Snicker and his owner (whose face I know, but whose name I don't). And, occasionally, we'd pass by Mary and her dog, Teddy. For a long time, I would just say "Good mornin' "and keep on walking. Then, little by little our "conversations" would get longer. Some people were slightly more "business like" on their walks than others, but you could tell that many of these people and dogs had come to enjoy meeting each other most every morning at about 8:30 and finding out how everyone was.

One day, I stopped and talked to Shola and I mentioned to her that I was going to do the 3-Day again this coming October. She asked questions and I shared some of my sister's struggle and we had a nice conversation that day.

Shortly after that I was heading back through the park on my way home and noticed Shola talking with Mary (whose name I didn't know at the time). I recognized Mary from the park and remembered that Teddy was "old and blind and grumpy." They saw me approaching and Mary called out "Are you doing the 3-Day walk?" I said "Yes." And then, Mary asked "Will you carry me in your heart?"

Mary had recently found out that she has breast cancer. And even MORE recently found that it had spread to her lungs.

I don't see Mary everyday, but when I do, we stop and talk and discuss how she is and how she feels. Mary thinks cancer stinks. So do I.

Today I was headed into the off-leash area when I saw Mary and Teddy coming out. We stopped and talked and decided that we'd have coffee tomorrow afternoon.

(Meanwhile, my sweet 1 1/2 year old puppy has figured out instinctively that she needs to give Teddy space. She explores the area around Teddy, but never tries to play with him. She just KNOWS. Teddy didn't have to "tell" her. I just love that!)

Anyway, as Mary and I were exchanging phone numbers, our friend, Shola, drove up with Fozzie. We all chatted briefly before Mary took Teddy home.

While we were standing at Mary's car, a thought occurred to me: All this time, I've been thinking that I was just going for a walk with the dog.

But the truth is, my world has been getting larger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I've been reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.

Donald Miller writes in such a comfortable, easy way. He writes like I imagine he talks -- conversationally. And, he writes like I think. He's real. He shares his insecurities, which is comforting to one who is always wondering if I'm trying hard enough or working enough, or being good enough to everyone.

He says things that gently take me out of my comfort zone. He points out that if we're not satisfied with our "story," then we can do something about it. If we dream of climbing a mountain (I don't), we have to take the step to make that part of our story come true -- not just sit around eating Chunky Monkey and THINKING about it.

And, while it's not a mountain, last night I attended my first neighborhood association meeting. I had enough reasons to stay home, but I really felt like I needed to be in touch with what's happening. Nothing in my life changed dramatically by going to that meeting, but my world became slightly larger. I became slightly less "couch potato-y." I don't know what will come of that meeting, but I wanted my story to be a little bit different than "Carrie wakes up, gets the girls to school, walks the dog, feeds the family dinner, eats some Chunky Monkey while watching t.v. and goes to bed."

Miller also writes about fear and says "...fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life."

I think back on my childhood when I was always too afraid to go waterskiing when I had the opportunity. Fear of failure was the biggest reason, but I was afraid of the creatures in the lake and afraid I might get hurt if I fell and afraid of looking stupid. And, then, when I was in my twenties, I just decided to go for it. The fears didn't completely disappear, but something inside of me urged me on. Turns out, I loved it! I DID fall. Over and over. And, I'm sure I looked pretty stupid, but I actually had fun. One day I tried it again and I didn't fall ...and then I learned how to go outside of the wake! And, I had even MORE fun than I did the first day I tried it. Donald Miller is right.

Later in the book, he discusses The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield says something that I've felt in my gut for years.

"Pressfield says that every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when trying to create something good. He even says resistance, a kind of feeling that comes against you when you point toward a distant horizon, is a sure sign that you are supposed to do the thing in the first place. The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be, Pressfield believes."

There aren't many times in my life when my whole body tenses up and my heart races and I can't let the feeling go -- that aren't directly connected to a situation in which I KNOW I'm supposed to do or say something that is difficult. When I feel my body react in that way, I've always felt that I had to respond.

Miller tells the story of his climb to Machu Pichu and it's challenges. He says that he could've gone the easy route along the river, but that he appreciated more about the WHOLE trip by doing it the painful, difficult way.

He says: "It wasn't only the pain of the trail that made you appreciate the city; it was the pain of the landscape, steep in the mountains of the Andes, spiraled towers of natural rock, cliffs dropping for a thousand feet to the river. And, the houses, the weight of them and the perfection of their lines, spoke of the many dead Incas who gave their lives to build the city.

"The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than if we'd showed up at the ending an easier way. It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they've endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives."

Lately, I haven't understood why certain things have happened. I don't see the point in the pain. And, while I don't believe that God wishes pain on anyone, I believe he can use it. What Donald Miller says about pain somehow gives me comfort in knowing that God can use that pain to eventually make lives richer and more meaningful. My prayer is just that... That God would take the difficult journey and give rich rewards to those who are struggling right now. That the payoff for the pain would far outweigh the pain itself.

If you want to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and change the story you're currently living, read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Little by little I believe our stories can get better.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Insecurity

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)

I am who I am.

Some days “homemaker” may mean that the activities of my day are less than exciting….carpools to drive, shopping to do, bathrooms to clean, laundry to fold, dog to walk, meals to plan and prepare, travel plans to be made, sports to watch, recitals to attend, bedtimes to meet. When people ask what I’ve been doing, I report “not much,” but the truth is I run a household. And, I am able to do that without totally stressing myself out. Some people like to fill their days with lots of things. I like my days to be less full. This is my life. I’ve been given the gift of being a homemaker as a full-time job. The “boring little details” of my life aren’t very exciting to report, but that is what I do.

It’s also true that I’m not very adventurous. Don’t put me in skis. Don’t make me climb a mountain or sail the ocean. Don’t make me swim in water that might have animals in it. And, please don’t make me walk on a trail while listening to coyotes howl in the background.

I live in a part of the country that is populated by outdoor enthusiasts. I love the outdoors, but from a safe vantage point. I love the IDEA of seeing a cougar or a bear, but from the safety of my house or car. I love the IDEA of fishing for dinner, but please don’t make me put on the bait or take the fish off the hook after I catch it and please don’t make me clean it. Surely there are others like me. But the people I run into are the ones who are taking full advantage of our AMAZING surroundings. I watch nature from my deck or from a safe little walk in the park.

How do I learn to accept that THAT is who I am? I don’t HAVE to be just like other people. There was some reason why I was created this way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Sometimes the need to write knocks on the door of my soul and says “Get me out on the page. Spill whatever this feeling is…” I’ve been feeling this way for a while, but the words haven’t formed. They’re still just swirling around in my head waiting to turn into something real.

There are lots of things to think about: winter turning into spring, birds singing, wonderful walks in the park, my sweet dog, the ache in my soul for my parents, the ache in my soul for my family to feel good and for the grieving (about whatever it happens to be) to stop, the ache in my soul to feel fully and completely connected to God.

There was a time when (and I just keep repeating myself) God fit in a box. He liked this and not that. He loved this person, but didn’t approve of that person. There was a time when “Christian” was clear and the details of the faith seemed real and believable.

Somewhere along the line, things got blurry. And yet, I cannot let go of my core belief that God is God. And, I can’t reconcile the way I feel with the way I think it should be. Thus, a feeling of “unsettledness.”

I ache. My soul aches. My heart aches. I hate to see the world in pain. I know there’s much good around me. I know that the flowers still bloom and the birds still sing. But I’m distracted by the pain I read about and know.

I’m disturbed that I can’t make a difference for friends whose marriage is over. I can’t help the lady with cancer. I can’t make the war in Iraq stop. I can’t make everybody just get along.

I want the world to be happy. I want sickness to stop.

The tears are flowing now, but not the way they need to ….

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Surviving The Curves

Recently, I found inspiration from some writings by M. Craig Barnes. Thought I'd share one of 'em with you...
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Surviving The Curves
by M. Craig Barnes


We are a people who like straight lines. We want our careers to take a straight line from the bottom to the top, our relationships to move consistently from good to better, and our lifestyles to just keep improving. Yet that never happens.

It is only a matter of time until every journey through life hits a major curve in the road. That's dangerous only when you're moving too fast to handle it. If you're paying attention to your life, when the curves come you won't insist on continuing to head straight for your goals, because that would run you into the ditch. No, the only way to survive a curve is to turn into it. The lost jobs, relationships, and dreams don't have to be the end of your life. They can simply be an invitation to start moving in a new direction.

The life you are living in the present is not what you were planning in the past. Isn't that good news? Can you imagine how dull your life would have been if you had stayed on a straight course toward all the goals you used to cherish? If you have ever driven on a road that runs in a straight line for miles and miles, you how boring that can be. It's the curves that make a road interesting.

Remember, God designed the path you are traveling. If it has a curve in it, that is only because you will never get to his future filled with hope by continuing in a straight line.