A friend telephoned this afternoon wanting to know if I was interested in babysitting another child... I told her I would need to ask James and pray about it tonight. With all the talk of love and mercy, with all the adoption stories I have read, with all the children in the world who just need someone to show them a little TLC, I am wondering if this is one of those "Moments of Mercy"... Do I have enough love and patience? Am I willing to give a little more of myself? Can God provide for my every need? Of course He can and through Him I can. I'm still not sure what the decision will be, but I do know He is able. Maybe the question is really, "How available am I willing to be?"
Today it is raining. The sun is up there somewhere, but has not peeked though the clouds even once and I don't expect it will. Its a good day for a duck (or a goose, or a frog,...). Its a good day to stay inside and sort through old papers and junk. I don't feel any anxiety staying inside on a day like this. I can clean, read, take a nap, count my shoes, or watch a movie all without feeling guilty in the least. All without feeling like I might miss the nice weather. I may need several of these days to catch up with the paper trail, so I'll take them as they come. We need the rain and after two weeks of perfectly gorgeous days, we had better not complain. The sun will come out tomorrow... or maybe the next day.
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Mercy has come up often in recent conversations. Looking out for the "little guy". Putting others first. Forgiving when I'd rather seek revenge. Sometimes mercy is not laughing when it comes at the expense of another.
Yesterday we stopped at a fast food restaurant drive-through so the boys could get a cold drink on the way home. We watched a young mother cross the parking lot, her arms and hands full of baby, purse, and a drink. The baby went into the car seat and she climbed into the driver's seat. Her drink remained on the roof of her car. I will admit, it was kind of amusing. Soon she would close the car door, start up the engine, and drive off with her drink resting on top. How long would it take before she realized it was missing? Would it fall off the front or roll down the back? Would she even notice? We weren't at Starbuck's and it wasn't a publicity stunt. Should we sit and watch, snickering the whole time, or should one of us find some mercy deep within and rescue the drink while time remained?
Maybe this week I will look purposely for "moments of mercy". How often will they arise and how willing am I to go out of my way to meet a need or offer forgiveness? Maybe you all better pray for me.
I decided to go to Webster this morning. I left Hannah ourfriends who take her to horseback riding lessons and took the boys and Sofie along with me. First we stopped at Grandma's house. She enjoys a visit now and then and loves to see a little dog arrive to lick her chin and chew on her oxygen tubes. Nate walked from Grandma's house to the music store for guitar strings and Ben helped Grandpa work on rewiring his car to haul a trailer. (The lights weren't working.) I ran my errands, bought some new shoes, and enjoyed the weather.
We returned home around 3 o'clock and the boys filled the gas tanks on the lawn mowers and set off to cut the grass. Meanwhile the sky grew blacker and blacker. Lucky thing they put the mowers away before the rain started to fall. We had an awesome thunderstorm with some incredible lightening! We do need the rain but I'm afraid our summer temperatures are gone. It is supposed to be nice tomorrow and then more cold air will rush in. I'm praying it doesn't snow! The cherry trees have bossomed, the tulips are happy, and we have awakened from our winter hibernation. It will be hard enough to face "normal" temperatures again. (Minnesota, I hope your winter is over after this!)
Today we have beautiful summer-like temperatures. By Tuesday they will be but a memory. So, I have decided to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while it is here. I can run the "great paper chase" next week when the temperatures are not so inviting. What will I do today? I have no clue. I do need to get some gasoline for our lawnmower and I probably should get a few gallons of milk. Is it worth it to drive 12 miles for cheaper gas and milk or am I burning up all my savings getting there? Hmmm... Maybe the drive in the sunshine is worth it just for smile the sun puts on my face. I'll take my camera along and maybe I'll see something wonderful. Maybe I'll buy a new pair of shoes just for the fun of it. Or maybe not.
With Josh on her lap, Bethany sat down to play our piano last night. I had to laugh as I watched this little guy. He looked first at one hand and then the other as her fingers moved over the keys. I could see him thinking and gathering information as he watched and listened. It took me back to some of my own babies who also liked music. I remember Nathan watching James play and Benjamin reaching for the keys himeself. While Jim was still just crawling he sat on my father's foot as Dad played his guitar and tried to keep the other foot from tapping with his hands. Will Josh be able to carry a tune when he's just two years old like a couple of my children? I don't know, but he does enjoy listening. And, of course, he likes to take a little taste of the hands which not only make the music but also tenderly love and take care of him.
My first tulip of the year has bloomed. It is my favorite of all my garden flowers. The other tulips are pretty and the daffodils bring a smile to my face, but this salmon colored tulip is the best! Each year I fear that it will not return as it grows in a rather vulnerable garden spot. Maybe this year I will finally dig it up and move it to a safer location.
My little grape hyacinths are showing now too, along with some dog-tooth violets that I'm not sure I ever noticed before. The garden under my kitchen window will soon be full of columbines and lilies of the valley. Spring is so much fun!
I fear I may have misled some of you who know me solely from the great and wonderful world of blogging. When I say my house is a mess and I feel as though I am drowning, it is my own somewhat exaggerated way of coping. You may even step into my house someday and say, "Woman, what is your problem?! Your house is lived in, what do you expect?" The thing is, my house is lived in 24/7, so nothing we clean stays neat for longer than 10 minutes. Rewind the clock 25 years and you would have found the rim of my toilet bowl sparkling, dustless furniture, and a lintless carpet. "For everything a place and everything in its place." Few items were ever lost, I knew where everything was, only my toddler son's face was dirty, the house was spotless. (See # 15) Enter 6 more children, several pets, a decision to homeschool, and my husband's homebased business. I have fought valiently to preserve my sanity. I have thrown, tossed, bagged and burned. I have endeavored to keep clutter from overtaking necessity and found it is a never ending battle. Sometimes I get tired. Yesterday the knot in the end of my rope came untied and the beads were crashing to the ground. Today is another day, the storm clouds are rolling in from the west bringing some much needed rain, and I plan to attack my dresser drawers which are in dire need of relief. Maybe I'll finally be able to put all my clothes away!
I am looking for a way of escape, not from my home or family, not from everyday chores, and not from myself, but from the stranglehold of stuff that fills every room of my house. I am feeling ruthless today. I wish I had some great big boxes, I wish Good-Will was closer, I wish I had a dumpster. (I wish I didn't have so much junk!)
The advance of technology has not helped my plight to be free from my possessions. We now have a rather healthy collection of video tapes (The VCR is broken...) and a growing supply of DVDs. We are stockpiling photo CDs and computer programs and most of these really should be backed up with a "hard copy". What do I do with my box of cassette tapes now, and what will I do with our music CDs when they are no longer relevant? I have more school books than I care to admit. These should go into a curriculum sale or give away but it never seems to happen. The file cabinets... How long do I have to keep records anyhow? (I feel like I am drowning!)
On the brighter side, I did take a box of stuff out to my van. It will go to Good-Will later, and Bethany is taking her long basket and my old "pineapple" lamp. I both vacuumed and dusted the dining room and hope to move the table back in there soon. I do make may bed every day, well almost... and the laundry is washed, dried, and folded. Now we just have to put it away.
Spring has arrived in full force. Daffodils are everywhere, forsythias are blooming, and dandelions are appearing. Almost all the flowers I see are white or yellow, but here and there are little bits of pink or purple. The grass is looking very green. Its growing fast. We will soon have to start up the lawn mower. It feels more like April in Texas than New York. I'm almost afraid to believe it will last, but I sure hope it does. I'm more than ready to pack the winter clothes away for a few months.
I had a busy weekend with grocery shopping on Friday evening, a bridal shower Saturday morning, and a farewell party Sunday afternoon. I came home from the bridal shower rather sleepy and have been feeling drowsy ever since. (Rachel, I think those allergies caught up with me.) Even coffee can't keep me awake. This too shall pass. I am taking my antihistamines and hoping my body adjusts quickly. I hate to sleep through such beautiful weather!
We couldn't have asked for a better week to enjoy spring break. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous! I wish I could say I accomplished all I had in mind to do, but it has been a productive week in spite of that... and I still have tomorrow. Maybe I will get those camp forms mailed off early afterall. And that paperwork for the school... Well, we'll see, it could happen.
Josh has been by to visit several times this week. Yesterday we enjoyed a walk past Shelly's house (She wasn't home.) and today we took a ride on the tire swing. Priscilla came out to visit and Audra enjoyed playing with both Josh and Sofie. Josh has been a bit of a poker-face lately (I bought him a Mr. Happy t-shirt the other day...) but anyone who cuts a whole mouthful of teeth at 5 months could not be expected to be especially smiley. He did laugh at Sofie chasing her little monkey yesterday. I think he's doing okay, and he's awfully cute besides!
Monday I posted about the turkey vultures I had seen up the road from my house, and admitted that I had never seen these creatures before. Well, my sister had a comment for me and I, a rather smart-alecky retort...
Priscilla said... You've lead a sheltered life. One time there were about 3 in my back yard. You should have seen Sherman run like the wind to try to catch them. They all took off at once and flew over the house. 9:06 PM, April 15, 2008
Martha said... Well, Priscilla, I've heard that these nice looking birds like to hang out around dead and decaying animals, so I don't feel so bad about not seeing them in my backyard. 9:13 PM, April 15, 2008
It has taken me abot 12 hours to realize I am tasting shoe leather. Bethany came this morning aound 9:30 am to drop Josh off and go to work, and asked about the dead deer lying down by my blueberry patch. I thought she was kidding. There was nothing there when James and I took our walk Monday evening, but there it was "big as life" laying in my yard. (Do you know there is no town or county program in place to pick up and dispose of these creatures?) I am now watching the skies for a very large flock of turkey vultures... and praying that James gets his skid steer running before too many warm days pass. (Sorry, Priscilla!)
When Sofie wakes up in the morning she is ready to play. She just loves Jasmine and, believe it or not, Jazz is warming up to her. The other day she let Sofie jump on her and nibble at her ears. She even wags her tail a little bit.
One of Sofie's favorite games is chasing a Teeny Beany monkey and bringing it back for me to throw time and again. She seems to like being able to see. I'll have to make a concerted effort to keep the hair trimmed out of her eyes. She's growing fast and we're having fun with her even if she is feisty.
It was another sunshiney day. The breeze was cold but that didn't keep us inside the house. Today we ventured out to Rachel's while her boys are off of school. We drove out to Webster along Lake Rd and came home the same way rather than taking Rt 104 like usual. Sometimes I actually remember to notice the Great Lake that lies just to the north and appreciate its beauty. It is still strange to think of this as a border town, but only the lake lies between us and Canada.
The lakeshore is still dotted with fruit farms, some long abandoned, looking sad and forlorn. These days one is more likely to see expensive houses occupying the shore, looking grand but standing idle. Few of the occupants work the land or use the lake for anything other than recreation. Time changes things and I am thankful for the parks that also find themselves sitting close to the water's edge, making it possible for me to enjoy the beach too.
Just a mile from home I saw a hawk soaring through the sky. I had my camera along but didn't think I could stop and catch the picture in time. As I drove on Hannah said, "Mom, there were three more sitting on top of the barn." Odd, I thought, but decided to turn around and check it out for myself. On my way back down the road I saw two flying birds and, sure enough, there on top of the barn were two more large birds. I wondered what they were doing up there. Hannah snapped a couple pictures, then I turned the van around and snapped a couple myself. When I took a closer look at the pictures, I found that whatever was on the barn was definitely not a hawk, it looked more like a turkey. I thought it strange for turkeys to be sitting on a barn roof.
After returning home and completeing several odd jobs around the house, I put in a call to my favorite bird lady. "Those are turkey vultures," said my mom. (Kinda what I had been thinking...) "And the bird you saw flying was probably another one," Mom continued, "Your father and I saw some just the other day." Mom and Dad grew up seeing all kinds of wildlife. I've lived in the same general vicinity my entire life, and this is the first time I ever recall seeing turkey vultures.
Long before he was ever my dad, he was somebody's little darling. A little boy who loved to run and play with his older brother, who couldn't sit still in school, and who made the mistake of calling his father a "son of a gun". He got into plenty of trouble throwing rocks at his uncle's bull, water on passing cars, and chickens out the haymow window. He had a girlfriend named Jane Ellen, a dog named Pal, and 46 first cousins. He loved boats and water, and even a spanking couldn't keep him away from Irondequoit Bay. He joined the Naval Reserves and went to Cuba, but they sent him back home because one of his legs was stunted and shriveled by polio. He married my mom in 1953 and together they moved to "the farm" where he accidentally locked Mom in the chicken coop. She had open toed shoes and red painted toenails, and was none too happy with the experience of chickens pecking relentlessly at her feet. Dad took us camping almost every summer, washed our dirty feet in the bathroom sink, and on cold winter days threatened to warm his icy hands on our warm tummies. He drew pictures for us and with us, read bedtime stories, and taught us to pray. He still sings songs and plays his guitar and harmonica, teases his grandchildren, and laughs at his own childhood antics. I wouldn't trade him for the world!
Rachel called me from our parents house this evening around 6 o'clock. She and Dave had picked up an ice cream cake and stopped over with the boys to see Dad and wish him a happy 76th birthday. Priscilla and Jamie were there with the kids. She wondered if we would be stopping by too? How should they cut the cake? I didn't know quite how to answer. James wasn't home and neither was Hannah. I had just returned home myself. I suddenly felt teary, like I was supposed to be there, but I wasn't. I didn't know what to do or say when she handed the phone to Dad. "You can come to my birthday next year," he said, a smile in his voice. I wanted to cry. What had I been thinking? Why hadn't we actually planned to gather together? No one had intentionally left us out, it just happened this way. I'll see my dad tomoroow morning at church. I'll give him a hug and wish him another good year. He will hug me back and likely wish me aonther good year too. Maybe next year we'll remember and plan a birthday party.
It's a gray day, overcast and threatening rain. The world was encased in fog early this morning. Each day the grass is a bit greener and the daffodils a little greater with child. It appears they are content in their new garden home and I'm looking forward to the blossoms that will soon brighten up my yard.
In a few minutes James and I will leave to meet some friends for lunch and afterward I will be heading out to get Ben a haircut and do a little bit of shopping. Hannah will leave with friends to clean the horse stalls and have her first horseback riding lesson. One day I will have to go along and get some pictures of that too.
Almighty, infinite Father, Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us, Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne
God is checking my heart again and I'm finding that I still have unforgiveness that needs to be washed away. Hard feelings are just that, hard, and they don't just "go away" without much prayer and giving of myself to the Lord and His will. He has taught me so much and those "yucky" moments have been fewer and farther between. Yucky moments are when He shows me where I am in the wrong and need to change my ideas and attitudes. Sometimes I need to change regardless of the situation, not because I was wrong initially, but because I have let someone else's wrong affect my response. The remedy? A prayer for God's blessing on whoever I don't want to forgive, a prayer of love even when I would prefer not to.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."
No sooner do they appear, than they are fading away. The happy little crocus has such a short life and yet brings a bigger smile to my face than the other early spring flowers. When the crocus appears, I know that spring is really here. Oh, it may get cold again, we may even see a few snowfakes fall, but the crocus brings the message that the long winter is behind us and we can look forward to much nicer weather.
My little snowdrops are much longer lasting. They stand the test of snow and ice, seem to enjoy the sunshine, and hang around for several weeks before fading away until the next year. Now I am watching the daffodils bulge, pregnant with the next blossoms of spring. Each new flower, every new color finds me wanting more and more to be out working in my gardens, looking for the next surprise in God's treasure chest.
Today was one of those days where I feel as though I have accomplished little, and yet when I look back, I did more than I would have thought. This morning I baked another batch of cookies, one that will be enjoyed here at home, and I also did several loads of laundry. Had I known it was to be such a beautiful day, I would have hung my sheets outside to dry on the line. I transplanted some daffodils and spent a little bit of time outside with Troy and Sofie.
I'm feeling the effects of my seasonal allergies. They make me sleepy but I can't stand the thought of sleeping my way through these first warm days. I can always sleep when the rain shows up. For now I want to be out in the sun.
My morning was spent running errands. Ben went along for a haircut which didn't happen. The barber shop was closed on account of it being Monday, so he is still looking shaggy. We picked Joe's license plate up by the side of the highway where he hit the deer. I figured we might as well look for it before someone else found it. It was laying face down so no one else would have even known it was there.
It was a gorgeous afternoon. I think if I could, I would spend all day outside right now. Too bad there is still so much to do inside the house. Soon I will just leave the inside work to be done "later" and spend my time outside instead. Sofie is liking it out there more and more and she is getting used to her leash too. She doesn't struggle near as much. Jazz just wants to lay in the yard and soak up the sunshine. Pretty smart dog, I think.
He doesn't want to be reminded that he is another year older. Well, if he would just allow me to stop counting my birthdays and not tell me how much "older" I am than he, well... maybe I'd let him quit having birthdays.
If the leaves insist on staying on the trees until after the snow falls in autumn, it makes for extra work come springtime. James has rounded up the tribe and set them to work with rakes in hand. There leaves to be raked, gravel to be flipped back into the driveway, sticks to be picked up, and garbage to be collected. Good thing we have an ample supply of rakes and wheelbarrows.
Soon it will be time for clearing out and planting early spring vegetables like lettuce and radishes. Then we will move on to the bigger garden and do the "real" planting; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash,... Maybe I'll even try my hand at growing potatoes! And carrots! Might even try that new purple kind of carrot... And I don't want to miss out on my own sweet corn this year. I'll need a bunch of that!
And then there are the flower gardens. Have to have some marigolds and petunias, and I think this year I'll find a nice sunny spot to grow a few different varieties of sunflowers, some nice tall ones and a few smaller kinds too. And then there is the dog run which needs to be installed along the side of the house. Yup, I think we have plenty of jobs to keep us all busy. Gotta go, the vacuum cleaner is waiting.
Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Roughly translated into my language, this verse might read, "Where there is no family, the dishes stay clean." This time of year is especially frustrating for me when it comes to getting and keeping my house neat and clean. We have been spending the majority of our time inside the house for the last five months and although I put up a valiant effort, at least some days, it seems impossible to keep up with the dirt, dust, and other garbage that wants to accumulate on my floors, countertops, and any other flat level surface. Yesterday I washed over 2 dozen cups or glasses before supper. There were only six of us in the house! (Good thing I am a champion dish stacker!) I know I could get and keep my home clean if I lived here all alone, but I much prefer the company of my wonderful family. I just need a gentle scripture reminder each spring as fresh muddy footprints are tracked across my freshly washed linoleum. (That was Jasmine.)
April has arrived and with it the fluctuating temperatures of an upstate NY spring. The weather on Tuesday was gorgeous with a high temperature of 64. Yesterday we hovered near freezing, and today the sunshine has brought back a comfortable 52 degrees. The crocuses have decided it is safe to bloom and bring the first spots of bright color to an otherwise drab, brown garden.
I took advantage of the nice day and raked out the area where I am planning to build a dog run for Sofie. It will go though my flower garden and along the east side of the house where there is plenty of afternoon shade in the summer time. My dogs always want to use this area as a potty on cold winter days anyway. I've already installed my own "invisible" fence wires twice in the past, only to have them stop working midwinter. This time I want a real fence so I don't have to wonder where my little dog will wander if we happen to take our eyes off her for a few minutes. None of us want to lose another little friend to a car. That is just too hard.
It's April Fool's Day once again. Ten years ago we had a Fool's Day incident that was anything but funny. The house was full of children, some playing toys and some gathered around the dining room table doing school work. I was in the kitchen when I heard Josiah, then 10 years old, cry out. I found him squatting by the wall with both hands over his right eye. He had been poked in the eye with a freshly sharpened pencil, but at the time I had no clue as to whether it was the pointed end or the eraser. Joe couldn't open his eye to show me, so I let him rest and told him to come show me when he was able.
To make a very long story short, we spent the better part of the afternoon at the eye doctor's office and all evening at Strong Memorial Hospital. The pencil had penetrated Joe's cornea and also hit his lens. The opthamologist stitched up his cornea and Joe spent two days in the hospital where he played endless games of Mario while they watched him for signs of infection. He came home with dark glasses, too many gifts to mention, and a myriad of eye drops. A month later he underwent cateract surgery. While still in the hospital he was shown an eye chart and asked what he could see. His response, "All I can see is a blur." My days were so busy back then that I often felt all I could see was a blur too. Ten years later both Joe and I are able to see much clearer and I look forward to a much less eventful April Fool's.
Note: It was brought to my attention that this incident occurred not on April 1, but April 2. Ooops!)
It's a warm spring day! The wind is blowing like crazy, but I did go outside to see if I could find anything interesting. My hair was swirled around my head and the ground was wet and soggy. The grass is looking dead, but I know that soon it will turn bright green and everything will be looking fresh and new instead of old and brown. The little birds are busy and the flowers are pushing their way up out of the ground. Soon there will be bright splashes of color and flowers will be smiling in my gardens. Another sign of spring? Deer. Joe had one jump in front of his truck on his way home last night. I haven't seen the truck but I hear the deer didn't fare too well.