Monthly Archives: March 2013

Remember

Ever since I made a commitment to myself to write a blog post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, those three days have been crazier than they’ve ever been before. Friday was no exception. I had hoped to join in on Five Minute Friday, but I just didn’t have a chance to work it into my schedule.

The topic Lisa Jo chose for this week was “Remember.” I’m not setting the timer, but this is what I would have written  if I’d had a chance….

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I remember you sitting at the dining room table with your NCAA brackets sheet. Every March you’d fill one out and compete with the guys at work to see who could pick the most winners. I don’t remember when I decided I wanted to do it, too, but every year since, I filled out my own brackets. I don’t think you took my participation seriously. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have a very scientific way of choosing my winners. I’d pick the ones with the best mascots or only the schools whose names I recognized, or even by who picked the best color combinations for their uniforms. And without fail, no matter how they’d played all season, I’d put Duke in my Final Four and I always picked Duke to win it all. You’d shake your head and consult the scores to see how well you’d fared.

No matter where I lived, when March rolled around, I’d fill out my brackets because it made me feel closer to you. Sometimes I’d mention it to you when we talked on the phone, but many years, I never said a word. But I faithfully participated because I knew you were, too.

Since you died, I haven’t filled out the basketball brackets. Everything had changed and since you were why I started doing it in the first place, I didn’t see any reason.

But your youngest grandson has decided  basketball is his favorite sport. So this year, I printed out brackets for the boys and me. Maybe one day they will remember how their mom checked the scores to see how we all fared. I can’t say that my selections were anymore scientific than they used to be, and as always, I put Duke in my Final Four, but I chose Indiana to win it all. Because sometimes things don’t stay exactly the same.

But I’ll always remember.

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Stuff My Pastor Said: Living Life Along the Way

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Whenever my plans don’t turn out the way I wanted, one of my favorite things to say is, “Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.”  Until recently, I didn’t know John Lennon said it first, I just knew it was my flip way to acknowledge that sometimes, despite our best plans and intentions, life doesn’t go the way you want it to go. In other words, to quote Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want.”  Or  like The Police said, “‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,’ is all I want to say to you.” That last one made no sense, but I was trying to stick with the theme.

Recently, I saw a different, deeper meaning to my “other plans” refrain. I meet regularly with a group of mom friends from my Classical Conversations homeschool group to “talk story,” encourage each other, pray for one another, and to do life together. We have been working our way through my pastor’s latest book, Jesus Pure & Simple

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Chapter 10 is about “Living Life Along the Way.” At the beginning of the chapter, Pastor Wayne talks about the time he was scheduled to lead worship at the mid-week service at church. To make the most of his time, he decided to practice his guitar in a local park rather than make the drive all the way back to his home. (If you’ve ever driven in Honolulu you understand why driving anywhere is usually not the most efficient use of your time.) In the park, he met a homeless man. Knowing he didn’t have a lot of time to spare, he really didn’t want to engage him, but when the man told him he was just learning the ukulele and asked if he wanted to play together for a little while, Pastor Wayne decided to stay a few extra minutes. He didn’t really want to and had plenty of other things he felt he needed to do with that time, but reluctantly he agreed.

As they played together, they began a conversation that led to a discussion about Jesus. Nothing overly deep or theological, just a basic introduction to who Jesus is and how He related to this man’s life. Eventually Pastor Wayne left and went on about his day, but the next week he went back to the same park with his guitar. He didn’t see his new friend, but he saw another man who said he remembered Pastor Wayne from when he played guitar with “Smitty.” The man told Pastor Wayne that Smitty had died a few days earlier from a massive heart attack.

Pastor Wayne realized that while he thought he was supposed to be preparing to lead worship at church, God had something else in mind. His main job that day was to talk to Smitty about Jesus.

“Life happened along the way….”

In that chapter, Pastor Wayne points out a few of the instances in Jesus’s ministry on earth where important acts happened along the way. The woman with the hemorrhage who touched Jesus’s garment when he was on the way to heal  Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:21-43). The lepers who were healed on the way to show themselves to the priest (Luke 17:11-19). The woman at the well that Jesus met when he was on the way from Galilee down to Jerusalem.

As I was reading, I realized that often what I see as a hindrance to my plans may be what God had planned for me all along. Instead of huffing and puffing because I didn’t get my way, I want to start looking at these interruptions or detours as opportunities that I don’t want to miss.

Perhaps a cancelled event is actually unexpected free time at home with my family. Gridlock on the highway can lead to an impromptu sing-along with the kids, complete with our own crazy versions of the lyrics. (It’s not, “Whoa, my bread is on fire, but my eggs are fine;” it’s “Whoa, my head is on my fire, but my legs are fine.” Maybe fun. should work a little harder on enunciation.)  A long line at Costco could actually be the place I’m going to meet a new friend who’s stuck waiting with me. When my plans are thwarted, maybe it’s an opportunity to model for my kids how to respond gracefully when life throws me a curveball.  Maybe my plan wasn’t the actual plan after all, but just another avenue for God to get me to the place He wants me to be.

This new perspective keeps me from wallowing in the “what now!” moments of my day. Whatever the reason may be for the unexpected twists and turns, I want to be flexible enough to let go of my own agenda in order to surrender to His.

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Just something to think about.

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Five Minute Friday: Rest

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Sometimes on Friday, I join The Gypsy Mama to write for five minutes unedited about the prompt she gives us.

Today our word was “rest.”

8:30 a.m.

Stress test.

The technician wires me up and connects me to her machine and I step on the treadmill.

“Every three minutes, the incline and speed will increase a little. If it gets to be too much, tell us and we’ll stop.”

At first I’m fine, but a few cycles in, I feel my heart pounding and it’s harder to get a good, deep breath. I’m trying to carry on a conversation, dutifully answering the questions the technician is asking, but then she asks me to let go of the bar with one hand so she can check my blood pressure and it’s all I can do to hold on. I hear my pulse pounding as if it’s coming from inside my head of my heart.

“The machine will slow down, but when it stops, you stop and be perfectly still.”

She has me come back to the bed to lie down so she can take another blood pressure reading and almost as quickly as I felt my heart race wildly, I feel it settle down into a comfortable rhythm.

Sometimes my life feels like a stress test.

The path feels steeper and it feels like the world is going faster than I can keep up. I try as hard as I can to pick up the pace, but I just can’t push any harder. And it feels like if I let go for just even a second, I’m going to fall right off the edge of the world.

Just when I think I can’t make it not even one more step, You call me to rest. To be quiet and listen for Your still, small voice. I think I can’t rest because of all the rest, but like a treadmill going nowhere, it will all be there. And I’ll have the strength to continue with my real-life “stress test.”

After I rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

You can read what others wrote about rest here.

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Goodbye, Google Reader

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Do you remember how just yesterday I was talking about Google Reader? Well, right after I published that post, I went to Google Reader and saw a popup message that informed me that Google Reader will “retire” on July 1, 2013. Retire? Like with a pension and gold watch and a fancy sheet cake from Sam’s? Did it actually retire or was it let go due to sequestration? I don’t know. But I do know that this news did not make me happy.

Upon further investigation, I found the official Google Reader blog and found this:

“We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too.”

I wonder if they’re really sad or if they’re just saying that to make me feel better.

I keep up with all of the blogs I read through Google Reader. I mean “keep up” in the very loosest meaning of the phrase. My Google Reader is rarely empty because I subscribe to way too many blogs and then don’t read most of them. I have the same handful of blogs that I’ve been reading for years and every now and then a new favorite joins the mix, but I rarely have time to read all of the posts I collect.

I’ve read some articles that say blogging is “out of vogue” now and maybe that’s why Google Reader is folding.  On their “official” blog, here is the reason they gave for letting Google Reader go (presumably with a nice severance package):

“There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.”

When I am sad, I reach out to friends. I tried CPQ first. My messages are in blue.

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Ignore her second remark. We are always carrying on at least two conversations simultaneously. And besides it’s okay to exercise as long as you don’t talk about it. Am I right?

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Anyway, I quickly realized Sus wasn’t going to commiserate with me. She saw this news as an opportunity to spring clean.

So I consulted with my tech-y author friend Jeff, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew about Google Reader’s demise before he did! That never happens. But then I realized that meant he’d had no time to prepare a Plan B either. But within seconds, he had options. He sent me to a CNET article that listed “five worthy alternatives” to Google Reader. Shortly after, he sent me a link to The Old Reader. My first thought is that may be the option I choose. Right now they are too busy to automatically transfer all of your blogs over from Google Reader in one fell swoop, but since I have until July, I think this may be a good time to clean out my Reader and only transfer over blogs that are still active (I subscribe to quite a few blogs that haven’t had new posts in several years.) and that I actually will make the time to read.
I thought I’d share those options with you in case you, too, will be looking for a new plan to replace your Google Reader.  I know some of my other friends that blog get to my blog from a link they’ve created in their sidebar and some of you get posts delivered to your email inbox, but I’m curious (and I really hope you’ll take the time to give me feedback), if you are a regular reader of this silly, little blog, how do you get here? How many of you read Snoodlings from Google Reader?  Do any of you have a good method for reading blogs you follow that you’d like to share with the rest of us? You have the floor….

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Read This Book: Sparkly Green Earrings

My relationship with books borders on obsessive. I am rarely without one. I feel slightly panicky if I get to the end of one and don’t know what I’m immediately going to start reading next.

When I was a kid, my mom used to have to make me go outside to play. And sometimes she wouldn’t let me take a book. Let’s just say I embraced my inner nerd at a very early age.

When I am in bookstores, I take pictures of books that I want to read.

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“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” (or too many books by or about C.S. Lewis)  That’s what I’m told C.S. Lewis said. Well, the first part. I said the part in parentheses. That quote is just one of the many reasons I would want him on the guest list for my imaginary dinner party from the ice breaker question. You know the one. “If you could have dinner with any five people, dead or living, who would you choose?” I only answer one or two people at the most because I want to leave all my options open. Just in case this really happens and at the last minute I think of someone I REALLY want at the party. Actually, my first question is, do I have to be the one hosting the party? Because, the pressure! I don’t think I could take it.

Anyway, books.

When I read a particularly good book, I like to tell my friends about it so they can also read it and we can discuss it amongst ourselves. I’ve read a couple of books recently that I absolutely loved and I wanted to tell you about one of them today.

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Melanie Shankle is known in the blog world as Big Mama. Although she isn’t. Big, that is. She is a mama. And Sparkly Green Earrings is her first book. It’s about her journey as a mom. And the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking of all the mom friends I wanted to read this.

The first two blogs I started reading (that weren’t written by people I already knew) were Big Mama and BooMama. When my Google Reader is filled to overflowing with posts I haven’t read, I start with theirs first (After I read yours, of course. If you have a blog. And I know you.) I don’t know either one of them, but I know people who know them, so that’s practically the same. And I feel like I know them because they both write their blogs in a way that makes you feel like one of their girl friends.

That’s why I was thrilled to find out that both BooMama and Big Mama had written books. BooMama’s comes out this summer (available for pre-order now). In fact, it sounds funny, but I was actually proud of them. As if one of my friends had written a book and had it published. I’m familiar with that emotion because I have real-life friends who have had books published, and I couldn’t have been happier. It’s just strange to feel so proud of people you’ve never met.

I’ve always loved Big Mama’s sense of humor. I am not an LOLer. I don’t text it and I’m not one who laughs loudly and wildly at everything I find amusing. Mostly I SALTS (Smile A Little, Then Stop). It’s not that I don’t love to laugh out loud or that I’m anti-laughter. Occasionally I get the giggles like a 4th grade girl at a slumber party. But I am more of an inside laugher most of the time. But several times during my reading of this book, I LOLed. Since I usually read every night before I turn out the lights, most of my LOLing was in bed while my husband was trying to sleep. He’d roll over and ask what was funny and then I’d have to read to him the passage responsible for my mirth. This book is funny. Although my husband may not agree, simply because he likes to sleep without being interrupted by someone who wants to read him funny stories.

But besides being funny, this book is also sweet. And real. And my favorite thing about this book is that it reminded me of how precious this time in my life is. I’ve loved every single stage of each one of my children’s lives so far, but they’ve all gone by so much faster than I ever knew they would. I was grateful for the reminder of the sweet places we’ve been and even more thankful for the alarm clock warning that all too soon this season will be just another sweet place in my memory. Being a mom is what I’ve wanted to be for as long as I can remember. It has definitely been the best career move I’ve ever made. It’s messy and it’s hard and some days I’d like to call in sick, but I love books like this that remind me of the things I love most about my life.

Part of me wants to give this book and a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible at every baby shower I’m invited to from now on. But then a part of me wonders if you can really get this book until you’ve already lived most of it. I need to think about it. If you’ve already read it, what do you think?

Anyway, I know my mom friends should read it so we can talk about it and trade favorite parts. Actually, even though it may not be the same experience,  I think you’d like this book even if you aren’t a mom but want to be. Or don’t want to be a mom, but know a mom. Or even if you just have a mom.

By the way, this isn’t a post I did in return for a copy of the book. I just read this book, loved it, and wanted to share it with my friends. I’m a giver like that.

Tune in next week, for things you should buy next time you’re at the grocery store. Like these crackers that we discovered last night and think are very tasty:

2a9bbe54c9799d3bde266cb0db9d01a3I was actually looking for the New Lay’s flavors. Has anyone tried those yet?

Or have anything else that I simply must read? Or eat?

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Give Me a Break!

I love my family. I would rather spend time with them than any other people on the face of the earth.

I love being my kids’ mom. I have enjoyed all the little stages of their childhoods that have brought us to this point and I truly love the people they are becoming.

Even if sometimes the people they are becoming can be a little bit goofy.

Every time we are at Aloha Tower, they have to pose like the statues.

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One of the three was not in much of a posing mood.

However…..

I need time to not be with my children.

One of the best bits of advice Sus gave me when I was a brand new mom was to schedule time away from the kids. She told me that even if she got away for just a little while, she was always a better mom after a little break.

As usual, she was right.

It has been harder to find time to myself since we moved here last summer, but this weekend, I had the opportunity to get some hairapy and spend time with two of my favorite people. It was fun to laugh and eat and talk with grown up friends. Not to say that we weren’t a little goofy at times ourselves. Conversations took strange twists and turns that resulted in weird and random Google searches.

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I don’t think we ever figured out which newscaster Alex was trying to remember. It wasn’t either of these.

I came home Sunday evening to a clean house and a family who loves me.

So here’s the takeaway point on this short little post:

Friends, no matter how hard it is to schedule, you need time away to recharge your batteries. You need date nights alone with your husband (That’s still a challenge we need to make happen at my house!), you need time with girl friends, and you need time all by yourself. Of course, you also need a husband who will support you in these endeavors and I am more than blessed to have a man who doesn’t begrudge me any time that I get to sneak away.

I’d be curious to know how you all schedule time away from the kids. And if you had a dream weekend all to yourself, how would you spend it?

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Five Minute Friday: Home

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The Facebook requests usually start trickling in from my most organized friends at the end of October:

“Message me your new address so I can send you a Christmas card.”

I dutifully reply with the numbers and street of the house where we’ll be putting up our Christmas tree that year, but always remind my friends to “write it in pencil, because it’s likely to change.”

And it does. Sometimes before the next batch of Christmas cards is addressed.

Because of my husband’s job–his calling–this is the way my family does life. For us, home is not a physical place, it is a feeling we create.

On a fairly regular basis, we find new rooms to inhabit where we unpack our familiar pieces and hang them on unfamiliar walls.

Every move I try to pinpoint the exact time that a new place feels like home. Is it after all the boxes are unpacked? When we can make it to the grocery store and back without using the GPS? I don’t know for sure. I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s when we decide we are home, because home is a place we carry around with us in our hearts wherever we go.

Home is where you others give you parts of themselves and you return the favor.

That’s why South Africa was home even though I only spent a few weeks there.

It’s why my kids look confused and don’t have a good answer when people ask them “where they’re from.”

It’s why we feel so conflicted about the decisions we need to make about where to start the next chapter of our family’s story.

We make new friends and keep the old, leaving pieces of our hearts every place we’ve ever been.

Everywhere we live, I pull the “Bloom Where You’re Planted” sign out of a box. I find the “Bloom Where You’re Planted” magnet that Tanya gave me and I put it on my refrigerator. It used to be a reminder that I had to put down roots in order for my life to have beautiful flowers in a place. Now it serves as more of a declaration of who I am, of what my family has become.

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No matter how much I love where I am, part of me is always restless for wherever I will be next. For awhile I thought it was because I missed the family and friends I’d left behind. Then I thought it was because I’d become use to a nomad existence. Now I think God made all of us that way because as wonderful as life can be in community with people we love, this Earth is not our forever home. All of us, no matter how long we’ve had the same address, are transients passing through on the way our real home.

Until then, we play house here and make our homes in our heart and wherever God takes us on this journey.

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Aw, man! I didn’t want to stop! I loved this theme and wanted to write chapters and chapters!! So many ideas!! But having a timer allows me to write guilt-free on a day that I need to be doing so many other things, so I’ll stop with my unfinished ending. But as I was writing, I couldn’t help but think about this passage and so I pulled down my copy of Mere Christianity and found the passage that I couldn’t get out of my head:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only kind of a copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find until after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.”   C.S. Lewis

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