If you can dream it, you can be it?????

Nothing warms the heart much more than watching my beautiful daughters grow their sisterly bond through using their imaginations to create a fantasy world. Donning their lavender and green crochet baby blankets as robes, they are princesses riding horses and solving mysteries and saving each other from unnamed danger. It’s so spiritually gratifying to have peace in my home. To watch them play and not fight, to cooperate and not compete. Then…

Then– standing about three feet from me, they “huddle up” to plan the next episode of their adventure, and five year-old says softly to the 2 year-old:

“Okay. Pretend I’m in jail. So go in there and cry until I come downstairs.”

And she did.

You can bet your last dollar I was paying attention now, but I wasn’t letting them know I was paying attention. And then — CURSES — their daddy came home, and the game was interrupted. Not that I wanted them to keep playing out this fantasy, but I was eager to see where that was going.

And all I can say is– Wha? Seriously? Where does she get this stuff?

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What it’s not.

It was goodnaturedly suggested to me that my last post may have been motivated by something specific, something with a name–or, more accurately, an acronym. I just wanted to point out that of course it wasn’t that.

If it had been that *I* would have been the one who would have poured/prepared four different beverages for myself and none of them would have been satisfying. It would have been me wiping my head on the floor.  Nope, all I need to get a little snarky is a little frustration added to a heap of boredom. That’s all.

In other news, John and I went shopping for Little Miss G’s birthday. Buying gifts gets increasingly tough because I am so over things like Barbie’s, Disney princesses, dress-up dresses, puzzles, movies, etc. It’s hard to buy something when you know she already has 2-3 variations of the same thing. Sometimes I have to remind myself to try to see these toy aisles as she would see them. We ended up with a nice variety of things: some frivelous, some educational, some very practical. She wants new, matching bedding with decorative throw-pillows and such, so that is going to be her big gift from us. We found some super-cute rainbow quilts at Target. They’re very bright and cheery,and will match virtually any paint color or accessories. The girls will be getting bunk beds within the next two weeks, so Super L is moving into a big girl bed very soon.

Summer chronicals, Vol. 2: “Mommy, I got a ‘skeeter bite!”

Super L is one of those poor souls who could marinate in insect repellant, and they will still feast upon her sweet little body. Conversely, Little Miss G has barely been bitten all summer. This prompts questions from LMG like, “Why did God make mosquitos have to bite?” Good question. I wish I knew because I honestly can’t think of a reason why they have to feast upon human blood. This also applies to chiggers, bee stings, and any other kind of relative discomfort insects inflict. I know, I know, it’s the whole symbiotic, circle of life stuff, but if mosquitos have to bite, then why do they have to itch? And why do they have to swell into huge whelps on some kids. The pics below show Super L’s little body. And this is the best her arms and legs have looked all summer. We do put insect repellent on her, I promise.

Asking for it.

I’ve never been the kind of girl who holds back and hopes that what I want will come to me. I’ve pretty much always been a go-getter. I guess my parents fostered that “you never know until you try” mentality in me.

In relationships if I was interested in someone, I’d put myself in a situation where I could meet him(with the help of some trusty friends). But once the ice was broken, I’d pretty much be honest if I liked the guy. Friendships worked the same way. If I wanted to be friends with someone, I just said so. If I didn’t, I just tried to avoid them. It was much easier that way. The point is that I’ve always pursued the relationships I wanted.

Professionally, it has been the same way. When I decided that my first career wasn’t making me happy, I went back to school full time to earn my teaching certification: two years and one child later, it was done.

I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn, so to speak. What I’m trying to say is that I’m used to getting what I want. I don’t mind working and striving for it. Sure, there are things that haven’t worked out… things that I thought I wanted, but once I had them it wasn’t what I thought it would be. But for the most part I’ve made my decisions, worked hard, and built the life I have wanted. Right?

Wrong.

It’s a big, fat, stinky lie to think that I am empowered to do anything outside of God’s providence. It is because of Him that my body works and can get up out of bed in the morning. It is because of Him that I can even lay in bed and breathe. All these things that I do only happens because He allows me the ability and free will to do them.

And that is when I get really frustrated with myself. Why is it that I can pretty much just up and decide to revamp the kitchen and do it, but I can’t decide that I’m going to draw closer to God through prayer and bible study, and do that?

Why is it that I can decide to make a major career change and spend hours every day devoting myself to becoming a great teacher, but I can’t take a fraction of that time getting to know Him better?

Why is it that I can (and always have) been so willing and able to ask for help, guidance, and support from the people in my life who I love and trust, but I don’t seek that from Him first and foremost?

Why does a disagreement or misunderstanding with a friend/family member stick like a thorn in my side until it is resolved, but I’m able to put Him off and barely lose a wink of sleep at night?

I think about how excited I get when I know that one of my best childhood friends are coming home. I only get to see them once or twice a year, and I so look forward to those visits and cherish the precious hours I have with them. I remember how much I loved the one-on-one, undivided attention I occassionally received from my parents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and other people I loved and admired. When I imagine myself in heaven for eternity, I imagine myself sitting at the foot of Jesus, gazing up at His face, and just listening to His words. Spending time with the people I love is a very big deal for me. It always has been.

The the thing is, I don’t have to wait until I enter the gates of heaven to spend time in Jesus’ presence. I can do that now. I can come before Him and “listen” to His teaching through prayer and reading the scripture. If time spent together is what I’ve always craved from the people I love, then why don’t I crave it the same way with the One who created me? The One who understands me, knows me, loves me with far more tenderness, mercy and passion than I can fathom? Why can’t I take the same pro-active approach to my walk with God as I have toward almost everything else in my life?

Is it unpleasant to spend time with the lover of my soul? I hardly think so. It used to be that I thought I had to do some “sprucing up” before I talked to God. Something like, I should probably go to church for a couple of weeks before I ask God to resolve that work issue. It wasn’t that I thought I could do it by being good, I just felt bad asking God to do something for me when I knew I wasn’t doing what He asked me to do. It took me a long time to really understand and believe the sentiment behind that old hymn “Just as I am.” It has taken me a long time to really know that I can come to God with no pretense. He sees me, and he created me with all my faults and tendencies.

I don’t have to change one ounce of who I am to stand before Him, but those old thought process do come creeping back now and then. I have to remind myself that whatever it is that I think I am supposed to be like, I can leave that baggage behind. I can stand before my Father, deserving nothing, yet receive His grace. I can sit at His foot, knowing little, yet receive His counsel. I hide myself in His presence and whisper anything that I fear that anyone else might discover, and receive His peace. And whatever it is that I want, whatever it is that I need, for myself or on behalf of someone I love, I can ask knowing He has already granted me all good things according to His plan which is far better than my own.

My friend Sheri has this beautiful artwork of Jesus holding a lamb. As it is depicted, the lamb is looking back at the viewer, and Jesus’ face is lowered, His cheek nestled against the lamb’s side. As we looked at it, she commented that she loved the expression on the lamb’s face; it was so peaceful. However, I was struck by the face and posture of Jesus, who held that lamb as though it was a cherished treasure. His lowered face reminded me of the same posture that we parents often have when our children, in an unexpected moment of sheer honesty, say or do something that brings a tidal wave of raw emotion, and we feel surely our hearts are bursting, and we bring them to us, enfold them in our arms, and drop our chins into their little shoulders because, truly, at that moment, they have broken our hearts with joy or pain, and that for a moment, we are quite overcome with the awesome power of the love and devotion that our Creator has enabled us to feel for them. And we are humbled by the awesome power of the love and devotion they feel for us.

In those moments when our children are wrapped in our arms, we silently think If something were to happen to this child, I don’t think I could survive. We’ve all been there. But I think sometimes we forget that is how passionately Jesus loves us. How very tender His love for us sinners must be. How desperately He wants us to know Him. He did die so that we would not have to. And He waits for us to come to Him so he can envelop us into that same tender embrace for eternity. He waits for me. And He waits for you, too.

Random thoughts

1. I made John’s favorite dessert today and it just doesn’t taste right… Not the “I think I forgot an ingredient” kind of not right. More like the “something is definitely wrong” not right. I think it’s the walnuts. It bums me out because out I wanted to do something nice for him, and it tastes just plain weird. But the dessert is otherwise so good we ate it all anyway. “We” being John and I. The girls weren’t interested. They had cookies. I hope we’ll be okay…

2. I’ve been trying to listen to a really good movie while I “work” on the computer. It just isn’t the same as sitting on the couch and watching it.

3. Summer break is half over. Boo!!!

4. I am very very very very very very very very very very very very blessed to have most of my close family nearby. Most of my close friends do not live anywhere near their families, and do not enjoy the benefits of being able to get together frequently and with ease. Sure, some would say that I never really “got away” from here, but why would I want to “escape” when most of what I love is within a one hour round trip drive?

5. I really, really, really need to get up to Springfield and see Jaime and Leslie. Now that the kitchen is done, that might actually happen soon.

This is a pathetic excuse for a blog, I know. Sorry.

Kiss the girls.

This week we’ve been going to bed late (late even for me) so it didn’t surprise me yesterday when I woke up to discover that 1. both the girls had somehow made it into bed with me without my realizing it, and 2. that John was running extremely late and had not left work work yet. I had just woke up when he walked in briskly. We made eye contact and I smiled, but I was too sleepy to say anything yet. He came over to the bed, kissed Super L, kissed Little Miss G and told them he loved them and would see them later. He walked out, got as far as the kitchen and turned around and came back into the room, walked over to my side of the bed, and kissed me on the cheek.

I think he likes me.

Drumroll, please.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The remodel is finished. I am tired and very pleased with the results. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves. (Click on the thumbnails for larger views)

What do you think?

Five, going on fifteen.

Sunday we went to the zoo and our neighbor Nicole and her daughter joined us. Being relatively new to the area, she had never been there before, so we had fun showing her all of our favorite places. The only thing is that the St. Louis Zoo is so big that it is hard to see the whole thing when you have younger kids. They just tucker out before that can be accomplished. The highlights of this trip was seeing the elephants, the penguins, a tiny owl, zeebras, bears, prairie dogs, a hippo, a big orangutan and (my favorite) a 5 week-old leopard. She was so sweet.  The girls also enjoyed petting the goats and guinea pigs.

Of course, this is the Pollyanna account of this trip. Little Miss G was the one who was the most excited to be going and the most miserable once we got there. “I wanna go pet the goats.” (repeat this about 20 times). As soon as we’re done with the goats, “I wanna go see the penguins” (repeat this about 40 times despite the fact that we guaranteed her we would see them, but we wanted to go through a different exhibit first). After the penguin exhibit, the flow of traffic takes you through a little souvenir shop, and that started her in on begging for a toy, and that did not stop until we left. I made a mental note that the penguins shall be the last thing we see from now on. Now, add to all that begging this response to any observation that John or I made:

Me: Oh look, that sea lion is sunning himself on that rock.

Little Miss G: How do you know?

or

John: We need to sit down for a minute, my legs are getting tired.

LMG: How do you know?

or

Me: Hey guys, wait up. Super L is lagging behind.

LMG: How do you know?

This went on and on, and frankly, between that and the begging/whining, I was about to lose it. We still had fun, but it just stinks when you try to do something fun and nice for your kids, and they spend the whole time complaining. When I asked LMG if she had fun she said yes, but then she has to point out the 2% of the day that didn’t turn out the way she wanted it to.

I guess it’s human nature, though. No matter how good things are, we tend to focus on the miniscule things that aren’t just exactly the way we want them. How does God put up with all of us. I just have one child this way and I was ready to stay and live with more appreciative beings, like frogs or something.