Thursday, May 31, 2007

To Top It All

Ok, so I'm driving home from our local discount superstore, and I glance over at the lady driving the neighboring SUV. She held a jar in one hand while bracing the steering wheel with that elbow. I watched as she used her other hand to untwist the jar's lid while steering with her other elbow! My thoughts were mainly focused on how dangerous that seemed....and I began to look for an opportunity to change lanes. As I looked over again, she was gulping from the jar. I leaned across my center console to gawk....It was a jar of Maraschino Cherries! She was chugging cherry juice, people! Now my mind was a blur....did she just buy those at Wal-Mart? What difference does it make--she's slurping straight sucrose! I regained composure, placed my hands at 10 and 2, and checked all my mirrors. Now, back to "Sweet Swiggin' Sue"...I peered one last time to see if it's customary to totally drain the cherries before tightening the lid, or if good humor would allow for the chomping of a couple, there, toward the end. We'll never know....she had put the jar away, and was continuing to drive with an elbow and a hand while she talked on the phone! I'm writing my congressman to see if the cell phone law could be extended to include the impulsive consumption of sundae toppings.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorable Day

What a wonderful day! The kids and I made a special breakfast for Philip, then greeted him in bed with an energetic rendition of "Happy Birthday". He spent the day exactly as he wished. Saturday was honorary Birthday Fishing Day, so he piddled outdoors with the mower, the boat, and a couple of the bikes. His absence from the house afforded me plenty of time to cook and bake a cake. We surprised him this evening by inviting some friends over for dinner, cake, and games. After dinner, there were about 15-20 people in every direction playing baseball in the backyard....I mean they were literally playing baseball (with tennis balls) in every direction. It was a good time.

Textbooks should arrive this week! Ready, set, learn!

Thank you, God, for big back yards and air-conditioned dining rooms, and for good friends to fill them up.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bogged Down

Man, am I glad to see this week come to an end! It wasn't horrible. No tragedies. No drama. But not great, either. I've been very pensive...contemplative...trying to figure things out. Nothing specific...just wondering as I'm wandering. My thoughts are always crowded this time every year. Crowded: like I completely forgot my dear friend's birthday. It has fallen between Mother's day and Philip's birthday every May since I met her 7 years ago...and I mean REALLY FALLEN since I can't pull my brain together for two consecutive moments to make it remotely special for her. I'm a dork. Philip will turn thirty-something-else on Monday. Luckily, there's no gift to buy. He seems to have everything he wants, not so much from contentment, but more from a sort of self-provisional lifestyle. His day was my dad's birthday, too, so when Phil is fishing, I'll spend the day missing my dad. Also, it's time to start our new school year, and amidst the excitement, there is a very real sense of overwhelming responsibility. SO, perhaps after this post, I can leave most of these thoughts here in this week...enjoy tomorrow, and start fresh on this Lord's Day!

Thank You, Lord, for friends who forgive. Thank You for a very handsome, low-maintenance husband. Thank You for my dad and all the love he shared with me. Please stay VERY near the Johnson "Academy" this year. We want to honor You in all we do and say. Allow me to rest in Your peace and renew me with Your strength. I cast all my cares upon You for great is Your Faithfulness! When nothing else could help Your love lifted me...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Can I Get This For You?

Question of the decade: If I wait on my kids "hand and foot", won't they be spoiled? And yet, if I deny them service, won't I be modeling indifference and selfishness, and won't they grow up to be spoiled?

I consider the two sides of this proverbial coin almost daily. I see my kids gaining independence, learning teamwork, and embracing responsibility as I require them to do things for themselves. And I consider that a victory. But they seem to imitate my unhelpfulness --purposeful as it may be-- when dealing with each other. They echo my words to their siblings: "I didn't put that there, YOU pick it up." "I loaded the dishwasher, you can UNload it." Today, when they quoted me, I quoted Jesus. With extreme self-righteousness, I explained: "In the Bible, Jesus tells the people that whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me." I continued with phase two: "Now, honey, if Jesus needed a drink, would you get it for him?" And then I lost concentration. To the best of my memory, the kids learned the lesson I assumed I was teaching them, and everyone got their juice refills. My mind was rushing to analyze the text from my little lunchtime sermonette.

Matthew 25:34-40 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of theses brothers of mine, you did for me."

Wow! Except for the prison part (but for grace), this sounds like what I do all day long to these little "least of these's"...Folks are hungry; I feed 'em. Folks get thirsty; I give 'em juice. Folks are actin' strange; I still let 'em stick around. Folks need clothes; I get 'em clothes. Folks get sick; I hang out with them anyhoo. Sometimes I lose perspective to such an extent, that I approach our days together like a bitter maid. Here's the truth that can set me free: Christ died so that I could live His life: a loving servant.

I still don't know the answer to my question: to spoil, or not spoil (Feel free to chime in) But I feel my heart changing. Lord, let me see those around me the way You see them...and respond in the same Spirit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Great Outdoors

I got the picnic table painted today. I've placed an order for sunny, breezy weather to try it out, and the "storm team 3 forecast" gives every indication I'll get my wish.

Mari may be following in her siblings' more ways than one. She's pulling up into a standing position every chance she gets and is loving her view from two feet off the ground. So as we monitor her first steps around couches and coffee tables, we're noticing that she may be an "outside girl". She has been so fussy indoors lately, but outside in the stroller or exersaucer, she's good to go. We bought her a swing today to attach to the set Papaw built. She LOVED it! At one point, she was giggling so hard, her eyes rolled back in her head. We all got a big laugh.

I'd love to write more, but Philip wants to go to sleep.....
More later

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Day

My morning was called to order with an urgently whispered plea: "Mom-- we have breakfast ready, do you want to come?" I groggily requested two more minutes. I drifted back to sleep. "Mom-- your two minutes turned into twenty, so do you want coffee or what? Oops! Sorry, Mom...I know it's Mother's Day, but....would you like to keep sleeping?"

Why, yes, I WOULD like to keep sleeping. Are you kidding? Pour the coffee! Here I come. Philip got up with Mari and I had nothing pressing on the calendar until Sunday School at 9:45.....except for BREAKFAST. It was wonderful! Waffles, toast, scrambled eggs, juice, coffee, and togetherness.

Here is the poem Landen presented orally at our gathering:

I love you mom because you are so sweet.
And what I love is to hear your little tweet.
But mom you are so grand.
And what I like is before the Lord you stand.
God loves you and you love him.
So you sing a very lovely hymn.
Jesus is almighty, holy, and kind.
But when you lie to Him it gets you in a bind.
Oh, do you know how you like to copy? Read: "Blog"
Well Happy Mother's Day Mommy.

Ardyn gave me a hand-drawn picture. My favorite thing about her artwork is that I always appear so slender. She excused herself and returned shortly with a dollar bill and some pennies. She said it was all her money, and that I should buy something really special for myself with it. (She learned that from her daddy)

Last night, Luke handed me an envelope embellished with drawings of glasses of ice water, bottles of lotion, and feet. In fine cursive ink were the words:

Dear Mom, you are invited to a foot mousning (sp: massaging) Mother's Day party. I hope you can come. PS. It's in your room.

Philip arranged for Domino's pizza to be delivered almost immediately upon our return from church. (I had requested that we steer clear of the over-crowded restaurants today...I can barely handle the usual Sunday lunch crowds... everybody and their kid sister would be takin' "mom" out today!) After lunch, Ashli asked if she could rest with me. Mari was napping so Ash and I climbed up in my bed for a Mother's Day nap. She excitedly offered, "Hey! We could NOT take and nap and just read and hug!" Plus on that! Mari was apparently in on it....she woke up before we finished the second library book.

We put on our "play clothes" and joined the others who were outside having a Mother's Day car wash and a Mother's Day picnic table refinishing party....which promptly morphed into Mother's Day sprinkler party. James showcased his new found pressure-washing skills to prep the picnic table. After a sun bath, it was ready for sanding. Philip put the "Israel Kamakawiwo ole" CD in his Blazer so we could all enjoy some Mother's Day tunes. He mowed and edged the lawn then took the older kids to church softball practice. I had the little girls in bed by 8, called my mom, and have finished my fine day here in Bloggerville, USA.

Thank You, God for Mother's Day. Thank You for my mom. She has loved me longer than anyone on that's not an easy task at times. Thank You for Gramma Iona, and Gramma Billie, for Mary Alice and each of their moms. Thank You for Becki, Gramma Ray, Gramma Johnson, and each of their moms. Thank You for my aunts and great aunts who have encouraged me along the way. I am blessed with cousins, friends, and sisters-in-law who love me and build me up. Thank You for being strong when we are weak, and promising to give us wisdom when we ask for it. We do not doubt Your love!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Not Quite Mother's Day

My kids keep seeing Mother's Day advertisements on TV and at the store. They think it's been Mother's Day for about 2 weeks, now. Throughout the day, Ardyn and Ashli present me with carefully folded notes that usually depict the three of us riding horses, or dressed up and singing on stage at "American Idol". The boys offer to make me meals, and continue to do extra chores to "celebrate". They are so sweet to love me, especially considering the moody week we just wrapped up --no pun intended.

Today, we were all sitting around the living room reading and talking. I was grinning at something Ashli had said. Landen looked across the room at me and smiled. "I love it when you smile, Momma, 'cause that's when you know it's gonna be a good day." I wanted to cry. Do I have THAT much influence on the emotional climate our lives? Is it so remarkable that I am smiling? How often does he glance across the room to check my demeanor? How often am I NOT smiling? I finally asked, "Do I not smile very often?" Then they all began to list off incidents they could remember. The "Mommy Memorial" covered 6 years and included a myriad of emotions ranging from irritated to irate. I was crushed with embarrassment and shame. I honestly had no recollection of most of the "one times" they referred to. I wanted so desperately to trace it back to some post-partum, pre-menstral, oft-pregnant condition that would allow me to get out of jail free. I stopped myself. Regardless of extenuating circumstance, there is no excuse for being unloving to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Certainly not toward "gifts" from the Father, Himself. I rendered my public apology, and explained that I needed to be forgiven so that these bad times could be "remembered no more". My darlings were eager to put the past behind us. I am putting my best face forward.

Dear Father, You have blessed me with these beautiful, precious gifts. Thank You. There are days that I try so incredibly hard to succeed. Then there are days when I'm tired and weary. Every day I fall short. Pour out Your grace to cover my multitude of shortcomings. Help me be humble and transparent with my children. Be near us as we learn to trust You and depend on You for EVERY thought, word, and deed...and facial expression. It is by grace alone, that we accomplish anything of merit. Thank You for saving me. Give me courage and strength to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling." I want to finish the task. I want to be obedient. I want You to be pleased with my life. I love You. Bless all the dear children....and their handsome dad.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

No Boys Allowed

I can't imagine any men who might read my blog, except for the "brethren" and Philip. (I pretty much make them read it so I can get my spousal/sibling "atta-girl" fix.) ANYHOO....this is going to be a female post. Reader discretion strongly advised.

Last week I thought I was literally losing my mind. I was depressed. I was worried about the state of the union (not kidding). I felt horrible. I was grouchy. I screamed and sobbed over wet bath towels left on the floor. After a month of really nutritious choices and no sweets, I wanted a burger and a shake....maybe two. I didn't think Philip loved me. I was confident that James was sick of me. The kids were avoiding me. Everybody hated me, and I was warming up a plate of worms.

By Thursday evening, the whole week took on new clarity and interpretation. For the first time since November 2005, I had a period! Ahh, yes, we remember this. I guess it HAS been a month since surgery brought my breastfeeding days to a screeching halt.

Next question: Where do I keep the tampons? Did they make the move? Have I unpacked them? Do they have a shelf life?
Big announcement: We live in the country now....with a septic system. On city sewer, I was a "flusher". Philip's decree tore that rig down. Now I'm cramping AND grossed out. I whined to him, "The trash is gonna STINK!" Without missing a beat, he mocked my whine, "You'll have to take it OUT!" So many hormones, so little compassion.

I'm better now. I'm so relieved to know I'm NOT crazy. The towels CAN be hung on hooks. Philip DOES love me. That burger DID make me sick. Life can return to normal. Thank you for letting me share. I have to go mark my calendar so I don't go through with the worm stew next month! Hysterectomy, anyone?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Photos from 4-H

Landen was all too eager to pose for a shot....Luke was down to business.
The girs were patient encouragers while the guys did their thing.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wide-eyed & Wonderful

As our "friend", Chandler Bing, would say, "Could her eyes BE any bigger?" We were having a huge time just a-splishin' and a-splashin'...