Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friday Book Review (early)

"Icy Sparks" by Gyn Hyman Rubio was amazing. A young girl with weird mannerisms and tendencies ends up institutionalized, home-schooled and finally emerges into the real world to enter college and finally be given an explanation...Tourette's Syndrome. But that's just a tiny glimpse of this fantastic book that gives a huge portion to God and his role in the life of this child and her family. Don't miss out if you have a chance to read it.

"You're Not You" by Michelle Wildgen is about a woman who becomes a caregiver for another woman with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Another incredible read. The title refers to the care giver's role to interpret for her client when the disease makes her speech unintelligible to the outside world. When her husband leaves the woman her caregiver becomes enraged on her behalf and veers from interpretation to her own opinions on the husband's betrayal. The ill woman's instruction, "You're not you." In other words, you are here to be me to a world I can't reach. Amazing.

"Accidental Happiness" by Jean Reynolds Page seems to be the final book in a trio this week about women dealing with various disorders. In this case, Reese returns in search of her ex husband to find only Gina...his second wife. Ben has been killed in an automobile accident. Reese has her daughter, Angel, in tow and the question becomes a debate over who Angel's father is and how much Ben knew before his death. Reese is sick and is desperate to find some kind of plan for her daughter should the worst happen. When it does, the answers are far different than I guessed. Great book? No. Good idea, good plot. Lacking those descriptive passages I eat up. The book happens in a seaside cottage, on a sail boat, in the mountains. Nothing there to draw me in and make me imagine the setting. Blah.

Current read, "Blessings" by Anna Quindlen. Only a few chapters in but so far lots of descriptions of an old house with furniture and meadows and antique linens! Looks like a winner!

Almost finished with "Wives Behaving Badly" by Elizabeth Buchan on CD. Loving it.

Small grace: sitting on my patio after working and just breathing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Is there anything worse than being wrong? Yes. It's the utter exhaustion of denying it.
This is going to be one of those "I have a friend who..." posts for the sake of privacy. One of the greatest lessons I've learned in life is to watch closely with judgement held at bay so that I can learn to avoid rather than scoff at the mistakes of others.
So I have a friend...
Who did something quite extraordinarily terrible years and years (and years) ago. Something so terrible that you'd be hard-pressed to find someone inside or outside of Christianity who could come up with a reasonable excuse for her behavior. It was a calculated and well-thought out kind of wrong. It was a knowing exactly what you're doing and doing it anyway kind of wrong. A purposefully hurting other people to get your way kind of wrong. A wrong whose hurt started with a handful and spread to all the people who love those people and hurt them by association.
And still; years and years (and years) later, she claims a hint of responsibility with always the disclaimer..."but the thing is..." As though that makes the wrong less wrong or maybe even a little bit right. In reality, when you're the one with a hole in your heart it hurts the same regardless of the explanation. You just want someone to pull the knife out.
So we hear that yes, she was wrong, but it's too late now to go back and change it. Yes, she was wrong but so was someone else and they maybe had it coming (or at least that's the implication.) Yes she was wrong but it's turned out right in the end and her actions have ultimately resulted in a good outcome in some ways.
I had the unusual opportunity for a short conversation with one of that original handful of people who were on the front lines of this offense years and years (and years) ago. She still cried when she talked about it. She apologized for talking about it and then couldn't stop. The Mr. and I wondered what she wanted or needed now so long after the fact, when it's quite obvious that the pain cannot be reversed and the time lost cannot be recaptured. What could we offer in the way of comfort?
I took my position of watching with judgement held at bay to find my lesson. Not easy for me as judgement comes quite easily in this situation. The lessons I walked away with are these; sometimes are wrongs are so large we cannot make them right. And this inability to fix what we've done makes us run away or try to minimize the damage with our rationalizations. When we do this, we are wrong a thousand times instead of once. How very stupid.
Secondly, God has set life and death before us. The choice of life in the pursuit of holiness saves us from ourselves but also saves others from us and the great damage we can do.
Let me live with the wisdom and purity of heart to do no intentional wrong. But when I do, let me do wrong only once and never for years and years (and years.)

Small grace: My first ripened grape tomato.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I believe my family poisoned me.
The Mr. grilled on Saturday. I took mine outside after loading my salmon burger with dill, whole grain mustard, onions and tomato. Shortly thereafter I started feeling sick to my stomach. Chills, sweats, aches, nauseated. Lasted all night. A little better but not completely on Sunday. Very, very tired and sore today. So Mac tells me that his dad gave he and I the last few buns out of a package before opening a new one for himself. Mac says that the buns smelled like "b.o." so he took his off and threw them away. I didn't notice this smell, probably because of my many condiments.
And that is how my family poisoned me.

Small grace: Fresh parsley on egg noodles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 26, 2009

Job 11:16-18

Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.

Small Grace: All the windows open and a cool breeze blowing through.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Morning Routine (In no particular order)

1. Coffee, which was set up the night before and only needs to be switched on.
2. Brush teeth, wash face. Shower at night before bed.
3. Do hair, always.
4. Make-up, usually.
5. Make bed.
6. Clean bathroom.
7. Check e mail, blogs.
8. News for twenty minutes or so.
9. Turn off computer to prevent vegging all day.
10. Feed & water Donny.

Small grace: All of my gramma's old glassware.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I heard a great line today, "It isn't my fault, but it is my responsibility." Have you ever thought about that? I have been guilty countless times of permitting myself to be off the hook because it wasn't my fault. Settling an argument I didn't start. Cleaning a mess I didn't make. Even giving money to someone who has blown their own.

But what a great concept for a society who is so anxious to find ways around stepping up. If we could really embrace this, would we even be debating national health care or who will pay for medications of elderly patients? Could even a few marriages be saved?

It would take wisdom to live rightly and responsibly. I am not a believer in bailing people out over and over again or excusing behavior that is clearly unacceptable. I think a lot of harm comes of sheltering people from the consequences of their behavior. So I've got to figure out how to take responsibility without enabling. I don't really know how that works.

Well yes; I kind of do. Christ was able to figure it out. It wasn't his fault that I sinned but he took responsibility for making a way for me to be redeemed. Maybe responsibility means being someone who not only points in the right direction but will even take up a shovel to clear a path so the lost can find their way. Am I willing to contribute my own sore muscles, blisters and sweat to someone elses opportunity?

Am I?
Small grace: The book on CD I just checked out of the library turned out to be the sequel to a paperback book I found and read up north! I didn't realize it until I started recognizing the characters. Fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baby I'm Tired

In about 12 hours I'll be off a 48 hour stretch. Not that I've worked straight through of course. I've just been the only supervisor over the hospital across all shifts since Tuesday at 8:00 and (hopefully) will be back to supervising only adult services tomorrow when the pediatrics supervisor comes back to work. And the midnights manager comes back. Keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be working tomorrow with some help and actually off the clock at 8:p.m.! I'm really tired today. The cool weather and rain isn't making me energized at all. The Mr. has practice so he's gone and I am thinking after I check in at the hospital and do staffing it's a good night to hit the sack with my new library books and get to sleep early. Please pray that I don't get any middle of the night phone calls! Boy do I hate that.
As you can see, not much of interest on this end of the world. Zzzzzzz.

Small grace: Woodpecker in my tree.

Mr. Histamine

Is it possible to be allergic to your husband? I think I am.

Small Grace: Delicious iced tea with dinner.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Small Graces

I got some wonderful and long-prayed for news last week. I don't want to go into great detail but suffice it to say that second to my health it has been something I've been seeking God's hand in for a long time. I got my answer and immediately gave God the glory. Then I had that thought I've had a hundred times...after this; nothing else is worth getting twisted about. I said that in 1992 when my marriage was healed. In 2003 after Jay was diagnosed with Celiac when we were looking at a lot of other scarier possibilities. In 2008 when I was seeking God's will about moving. In 2009 when I was waiting to find out if I had to have a hysterectomy. Over and over I've had moments of putting life into perspective and thinking I've learned.
How long do I hang on to this new found wisdom? Sometimes up to one day. Then something else will come along and reduce the miracle that couldn't be contained to a small pebble in my hand. A bad day at work or an argument with the kids or the Mr. doing something that knocks me off my tightrope. Yesterday I came home from work to find Donny taking a deep snoring siesta...on top of my new perennial bed. Good bye beautiful lilies. Argh! As Charlie Brown would say. So I have a new mindset because I've learned that big miracles are few and far between and I've already had more than my share. Instead of trying to live on yesterday's manna I'm going to purposefully recognize every day's small graces. To be sure that I stay on this track, I'm going to put a foot note on my blogs to focus myself on where God whispered to me. Since I have to hear the whisper I will be forced to listen. Maybe you need to put down yesterday's manna too, because it was never meant to sustain you forever. Where's your small grace for today?

Small Grace: The familiar sweet scent of my home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hello Monday Morning

Morning! After working the weekend, it's a much appreciated day off for me. Little bit of this and that planned. Straightening the house, a load or two of laundry, library run. Nothing special but I so love having the whole day to myself. And of course, somewhere in there I'll be sitting outside just relaxing. Probably after my library visit so I'll have a new book to enjoy. There is literally nothing in this house to read. Just finished "Odd Hours" by Dean Koontz. It's a beautiful day here, a little cooler and can't decide whether or not to be overcast but it's beautiful because I'm off work!
Oh, and here's a picture my mom took of the patio I unearthed on the north side of the yard aka the farm. The Mr. put in the garden box for me in early spring but the area under the awning had just been a trash can area. I vaguely remembered as a kid that the patio ran all the way down the length of the garage although other than the trash storage the rest of the area was dirt. So I grabbed a shovel last week to clear the dirt and voila! There is indeed a bit of a patio over there! The grandparents never used it as such but I'm repurposing it. There was never any real seating area over there and we're quite enjoying it. It's more private than Italy (the deck.) Lots of big trees and our garden to look at. The Mr. bought me a hammock for my birthday and found the chairs you see here, which match the hammock, on clearance at ACO a few days ago. A trip to Jo Anne's and the little round tables were on clearance for $13 & $17. Some elbow grease helped along by my dad coming by with a power washer and our casual farm patio made its debut for the shish-a-palooza. Of course it was freezing and raining and no one actually sat there but my mom was kind enough to take a picture of it anyway.
Gonna go sit out there in my clearance chair and finish my coffee and that should be about the time to get dressed and go to the library.
Come on by for a cup of joe! You choose...the farm or Italy?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009

Proverbs 29: 11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome To My Italian Farm

1. Hosting mom's shish-a-palooza today.
2. Also working today, I'll be the last guest to arrive!
3. Cool, crisp and DRY weather please Lord.
4. The Mr. decided to power wash the house AFTER I had cleaned the lawn furniture blasting crud all over the clean furniture. We're quite a well-oiled machine over here.
5. Does a person's yard ever get finished? I think not.
6. Speaking of which, we now refer to the north yard as Italy and I have come to think of the south yard as the farm (small letters.)
7. Have unearthed a second patio on the farm side. Who knew?
8. My incisions hurt. Maybe that means I'm going to come in to some money.
9. Probably means the fat is stressing the seams.
10. I gotta get ready for work, I can't play with you guys all morning!
Above: Actual painting of our home I did this morning while sitting on the veranda in Tuscany.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I've never thought of this before, but in creating us, isn't it wonderful that God included the capacity to love? Curiosity, imagination, creativity, physical strength and ability, intelligence. All of this would be wiped away without love, wouldn't it? Isn't love the drive behind everything else we are able to do and be?
I had a nightmare the other night that I lost Dean. It was so vivid that it woke me up and the feeling of terror lingered for almost half an hour after I had awakened. Then last night when he was sick I found myself waking up often throughout the night to feel his forehead for fever and check that he was sleeping comfortably.
Love pushes us through the potential for terror with its loss to throw ourselves headlong into the possibility of its beauty shining a miraculous light into corners nothing else can touch.
When just for a moment I grasped the enormity of what God implied with the ability to love; I am stunned at how little I accomplish with so great a gift.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Please pray for the Mr. today. He started to have some pain in his glands yesterday and they became hugely swollen. I think he was running a low grade fever last night while he slept. I forced him to stay home today to see a doctor. As unbelievable as it sounds, it really looks like mumps to me! Many people who had vaccinations as children are no longer protected into adulthood and would need a booster so it's not an impossible diagnosis. So please, remember him to the Lord.
Also please pray that the doctor would, of course, have wisdom and insight to whatever is going on.
Update: The doctor did not mention mumps nor did the Mr. ask; of course! Doc says maybe infection, maybe blockage. Got an antibiotic prescription and if no improvement by Monday he'll see an ENT. Dean doesn't feel bad, the worst was yesterday all though he still looks very, very swollen. Pat, he had terrible pain yesterday when he started to eat! That's why I am suspicious! No one believes I am a doctor.
Uppidy Update: Dean is off to practice promising he'll be home early and get to bed. HOWEVER, I am having some body aches and a dull headache that does not bode well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book Review On Location

My absolute favorite vacation activity is reading. How that differs from my usual favorite activity is anyone's guess. So without further ado; the book review you've been waiting for.
"When Madeline Was Young" by Jane Hamilton was so wonderful. The premise is that a young wife sustains a terrible head injury leaving her mentally and emotionally incapacitated. At her full recovery she is reduced to the function of a six year old. Her husband loves her deeply despite the fact that this love cannot help but change because his vibrant and beautiful wife has become a child in a woman's body. The young bride's family quickly "moves on" and in fact moves out of state leaving her husband to create a life that is good for both of them. Ultimately, he remarries and has two children with his second wife. Madeline, the woman/child is not put into an institution as those around Aaron advise. This new family simply folds Madeline in. The children think of her as their sister. The second Mrs. Maciver becomes a mother to the brain-damaged Madeline. It sounds bizarre and even unseemly at the outset but becomes a beautiful story that made me stop and think about what I am capable of. And to admit, I don't think there is this deep a store of goodness within me.
Along similar lines was "The Dive From Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer. The main character is Carrie who is realizing that she is simply falling out of love with her high school sweetheart & fiance Mike. There's nothing really wrong between them other than the fact that Carrie no longer feels the passion that sustained them as teenagers and she is trying to figure out what to do with this relationship that has changed from romantic love to deep friendship. Before decisions can be made Mike is injured in a diving accident and becomes a quadriplegic. Now those around the couple wait for Carrie to step forward and do the right thing; marry Mike and build a life with him despite his future in a wheelchair. Carrie, however, doesn't find a renewal of her love for Mike as she sits at his bedside waiting for him to awaken from a coma. She has to reach a decision that is fair and honest for both of them. Most of us would say she must push beyond her own desires for his sake. I'll let you read the book if you are curious about what Carrie does. It's a worthwhile read.
"The Maytrees" by Annie Dillard is a beautifully written novel about the life of a married couple beginning with their courtship. The prose is lovely and smart. And I quit reading it because although it is beautifully written I realized about halfway through that I really didn't care about these people. Despite pretty words, the author failed to make the characters real to me. So that was the end of the Maytrees.
"The Bay At Midnight" by Diane Chamberlain should not have been a great book. Simple murder mystery, implausible ending. However, the author made up in texture what was lacking in plot. Fantastic descriptions of a family's summer house on the shore and richly developed characters pushes the story forward so you find yourself reading only partially for the answer to the mystery. Moreso than assembling clues I was absorbed in the people, the places and the emotions the author put on paper. It was interesting from start to finish and just 'unserious' enough to be great summer reading. Nothing too hard to think about, but plenty of brain candy.
"Off Season" by Anne Rivers Siddons who happens to be one of my favorite authors. Another writer who creates a rich landscape with words; the places and people of her books become as clear and engaging as any experienced in real life. In this book the main character's husband dies and she spends the next several chapters recalling her life prior to meeting him and through her marriage. Was it Siddon's best work? No. Worth reading? Yes. Although the last few pages kind of fell apart for me a little bit. I'm interested to hear what others might have thought of it?
While up north I read a few of the cottage books that my mom stocks in and did not write down the titles or authors! Let's see....Bubbles A Broad (good, entertaining, silly.) Crimes of Fashion (might have been the title, might have been the main character's column in a news paper. Either way, fun.) Another novel that I cannot begin to remember the title of about a woman whose husband leaves her. It was good. Based on that description, maybe you can find it. Good luck. "Keeping Faith" by Jodi Piccoult I remember. Weird. Read it and explain the last page to me.
I'm halfway through "The Lord Of The Flies" which I'm book clubbing with Jay and also "Breakfast At Tiffany's." Reviews to follow.

Now you know why there aren't any exciting pictures of my vacation!

I think unforgiveness is like standing behind curtains drawn on a beautiful sunrise. God opens one side but we hold the other shut so our view of the future is always half-hidden behind our side of the curtain.

July 12, 2009

Lamentations 3:22-24 It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I have learned to appreciate...

1. The friendship of other women.
2. Wearing shorts.
3. Quietness.
4. Letting go of pride in the form of self-consciousness.
5. Backyards.
6. Sleep.
7. Healthy food.
8. Water.
9. My relationship with God.
10. God's faithfulness.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Going on vacation!

See you next week!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Reduce Me To Love

My home is usually in presentable order. I wouldn't be embarrassed, most days, to get an unexpected visitor. If there is one thing that I insist upon, it is that I awaken to a house that is tidy. It feels, to me, like a set-up for a good day. On the other hand, waking up to a messy house, dirty dishes in the sink, dust on the end tables; is not a good start. It sets me off wrong and I usually don't succeed in getting my mood in good order as efficiently as I set my house in order.

I take this as my own responsibility because it is something only I really care about. So every evening I make the rounds before bed cleaning up and leaving the kitchen ready, including coffee pot at the go, for the morning. Dean (finally!) understands that this is important to me so for the most part, he makes sure the kitchen is clean before bed if he and daboyz are still up and eating after I go to sleep.

The only problem remaining on most days is that daboyz will regularly snack and leave their mess behind. The total time of morning clean-up rarely exceeds five minutes but it just infuriates me! One pop can on the coffee table, no big deal? Yes it is a big deal. The other morning I awoke to Jay's nacho pan in the sink with dried cheese cemented to it, his dinner plate and two drinking glasses. Pop can on the counter. The mess was cleared before my coffee was done brewing but boy oh boy; did it set the tone of my day.

I know that many women would quietly clean the mess and consider themselves blessed that their kids are at home making a mess and not out there somewhere doing much more destructive things than letting cheese dry on a cookie sheet. It isn't that I don't feel that gratitude for good kids who give me few problems. It's just that this is important to me. Period.

I haven't been a regular viewer of Jon, Kate and the eight. Of course, like the rest of America I am now pulled into their lives with the sad announcement of their divorce and like someone gawking at a traffic accident, I tend to stop on TLC when I'm channel surfing to see if they are on. I've made a few observations. Kate is gorgeous. Here's what I've also noticed. There is a relationship that settles between men and women that starts as compromise, becomes survival and finishes as destruction.

Men can act like they are one of the children. The tone for the quality of life is set by the wife and this is because the standard is much higher than dad would set. She does as much as she can to keep the family on the track she has chosen believing that without her influence they will not fare as well. Dad then decides that his wife is a B- and becomes even more passive-aggressive about her pushiness by becoming more child-like. Only this child, she cannot really control. She finds a method to discipline him that is often public humiliation and sarcasm not to mention the private communication that loses all semblance of respect and partnership. So he acts even less responsible so that he can exert punishment on her.

Childish men. Domineering women. I doubt any of us embraced this model in our vows but I see it in the real world almost constantly. I see it in Jon & Kate. I've seen it in my own home.

We've learned to iron out those destructive habits. Then there are mornings when the house that I left in good order at bed time is in need of a pick-up when I awaken. Yes, the example above was the responsibility of the kids. Then again, Dean was up with them after I went to sleep and didn't tell them to clean up after themselves.

So this morning as I cleaned up, my morning turned from pleasant to nasty. The domineering woman rising up to chastise the irresponsible men.

At the end of it all, I think we are quite a sorry lot. The ones who live for themselves by not trying hard enough and the ones who live for themselves by being martyrs. What a bunch of brats we are. How does God not turn his face away?

The dirty nacho pan has already been washed and the kitchen is clean. The daily toothpaste flecks have been windexed from the bathroom mirror and the bed is made. My house is in order.

We women who set ourselves forth to create and maintain a beautiful quality of life do so out of love and then somewhere, we start to do so out of control with a lot of pride in the mix. I don't know how to define the motivation of the men who fight so hard to remain in control by living without control of themselves. I always felt it as a statement against all that I was good at, a mockery of the things that I put my heart into. A way to really hurt me that could be hurled back at me when I called it out. Plausible deniability of intent.

It has taken over twenty years for us to learn not to be these people although the shadows of those bickering children still hover in the background. Human nature requires that blame be placed, that one person be held accountable. I know this is not truth. Love covers a multitude of sins. We must be daily aware that sin means offense. The offensive tone I have used against him. The lack of seriousness about our lives that offended me. So many daily offenses without enough love to restore balance.

I could never make Dean love the "right" way. I tried with all of my might only to arrive exhausted at the conclusion that I had to love in response to Christ. Despite the mornings of messy family rooms, love has procreated and covered a multitude of offenses.

Finally I have learned that if I read bedtime stories, make wholesome meals and keep a beautiful home but do so without love...I have accomplished nothing.

Doing all as an act of worship is the only method by which my hands can accomplish love.