Saturday, May 31, 2008
-- James Matthew Barrie
This morning we made our weekly trek to the public library. Delaney has made fast friends with the librarian and takes her a piece of art each time we go. She is allowed to choose 10 books, half of which have to be non-fiction, and 2 magazines and 3 movies. I watched her today as she purposefully made her selections. Her non fiction choices included a book on what it's like to be an earthworm, a book on weather and a kids cookbook. (She is really interested in cooking lately.) She also chose an art book that takes you step by step through drawing insects. This is the first book she ran to open when we got home, and she drew on a huge piece of art paper an entire family of bugs. I love to see the fiction books she chooses because she is drawn to books with beautiful illustrations or photography. The title or theme of the fiction books seem secondary to the aesthetics. She is so excited to ask the librarian for help if she wants to find a book on a certain subject, even getting them through interlibrary loan if our library doesn't have them. Then she runs behind the counter to help scan the books and check them out. This will be her first summer taking part in the summer reading program, and she can hardly wait for the kick off next week.
One of the movies we picked together is Summer Magic, you know the old Disney movie with Hayley Mills? Dan is gone for the weekend in South Carolina, so we have plans to snuggle in the big bed and watch this movie tonight with popcorn. I think we both can't wait for bedtime! As Delaney grows I see more and more of myself in her. I love sharing the absolute joy that comes from learning and loving to read. I love sharing the wonderment of the library experience.
Thank you for the reflection of myself in my dear daughter, a reminder to allow for the possibilities each new day holds.
Friday, May 30, 2008
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for while, leave footprints in our hearts, and we are never the same."
Delaney graduated from Kindergarten on Wednesday morning. This is a picture of her with her dear teacher, Mrs. Vaudrin. When I think of all the changes and uncertainty my brave girl went through this past year I immediately think of this amazing woman. Laurie stepped in as a surrogate mother to Delaney while she was living here, and I was in the hospital. Although she was dealing with so many trials of her own, including aging parents and her own husband's health problems, she always took the extra time to champion Delaney, to comfort her when she was lonely or afraid and love her. I know Delaney will never forget her.
I truly believe the first years of education are the most critical. They provide the foundation for how our children feel about learning and how they perceive themselves academically and socially. Delaney has been so blessed to not only have two amazing years at White Flint Montessori, molding her into a kind friend, a confident leader and diligent learner, but now this year at Lake Center reinforcing those qualities with an even greater message of God's love.
At the graduation each child was not only recognized for academic achievements but given a certificate for a character trait they specifically exemplify. I loved this focus on not just what they are learning but who they are becoming as people. Delaney's character trait was "cheerfulness." My mom and I joke often about how Delaney is like a little bird, chirping from the first moment she wakes in the morning. I felt so proud because, as much as I worry about how the many changes of our life may have affected her, I see how happy she is and no mother could really ask for more!
Thank you for Mrs. Vaudrin and her lasting ministry to mine and other's children. I am so grateful for my dear daughter, so full of joy and the love of life. Please protect her tender heart as she grows.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I have been living on manna for over a year now. Since I lost my job last April and all through my pregnancy, recovery and our move here to Ohio God was teaching me the important lesson of waking each morning and rejoicing I had what I needed for that day because of His provision. I know we all do it, but I think I am particularly prone to becoming attached to things. I love beautiful clothes and handbags. I love beautiful furniture and linens. These things have always been a way for me to reflect to others who I am. Not all I am but certainly one part of me. I justified the value I placed on them because I felt they reflected my care and good taste and diligent work. I also subconsciously always felt I deserved these things.
During this last move I once again, out of necessity, had to sell some things that I thought were very important to me. I sold my big white French country bed, I sold my bookcases, my china hutch and my ash table which I always joked my grandchildren would fight over. My books are still in boxes in the basement. I still have windows without treatments. Only the absolutely necessary dishes are in the cupboards instead of the beautiful and sentimental ones and our bed is on rails. So I struggle with the idea of having ENOUGH. After over a year of no "disposable" income, you begin to see your socks are more than a little thin, you haven't added one new thing to your wardrobe, the towels are frayed and there is not really a day in the future when you can see beginning to shop again or replenish the things you lost. I would be lying if I didn't admit I become disgruntled at times and discontent, but during this purging process the empty space left by the things has been filled with manna for my soul.
My dad asked me the other day how we were doing, and I laughed as I answered him. We are good. I feel blessed because we can afford the groceries we need. We have health. We have relationships full of meaning. Most importantly we have a deeper knowledge of the Giver of all gifts. In the words of Chris Tomlin's song Enough,
All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough
Thank you for emptying my mind and heart and life to be filled with ENOUGH.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Yesterday was such a fun day for her. She and my mom ran, that's right, RAN, a one mile race together. Delaney said loudly to my mom as they crossed the finish line mid way in the pack, "You're a pretty fast runner for an old lady!" When they returned home they spent some time hanging out in the hammock in our back yard. My dad was here helping mow our very large yard since Dan had to work and then he and mom took Laney to buy two swings for our swing set. She has already spent hours back there swinging her heart out! Later last night my mom came back over to watch the girls so Dan and I could have a date and she got even more time with her grandma.
Only two more days of school left. She will graduate Kindergarten on Wednesday morning. All I can say sometimes is "What a kid!" I watched her excitedly wash the cars with Dan today and then dig for worms and hold them in her hands. I watched as she helped me bake a cream cheese pound cake this evening, so thrilled to crack the eggs and hold the beaters. When we snuggled into bed I read her the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red from her big Grimm's treasury, and I watched her imagining the details because there are no pictures and could tell she was really in the forest with those girls.
Thank you for my girl, such a perfect mix of princess and tomboy; such a friend and companion; my love; my joy; my Laney.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Thank you for showing me that loving my family is MORE than enough for me right now and exactly what I should be doing.
Please play the montage below to hear the beautiful song.
"We fall down and lay our crowns,
at the feet of Jesus.
The greatness of His mercy and love,
at the feet of Jesus.
We cry Holy, Holy, Holy.
We cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb."
Delaney sings the chorus over and over getting louder and louder. I smile. The response of her sweet heart to the splendor of the morning and the possibilities of the day prompt her to worship. Out of the mouths of babes! (Ten minutes later she is screaming her head off about losing some "fuzzies" she was collecting. Laughing . . . isn't that how life is?)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
And then my husband sends me a message that Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria, was killed in an accident yesterday when her brother backed over her in the driveway. You know Maria, one of the darling little girls they adopted from China. Remember the song When Love Takes You In? I was just thinking of them this morning as my heart was burdened for all those children in China now without parents. I was thinking of the Chapman's amazing crusade for Chinese orphans over the last 8 or so years. I cannot even imagine their grief.
I stop. Is God still good? Is He still in control? Do I really believe?
God sees my heart. He knows that today I am feeling the gaps in my faith. In Susan BanBreathnach's book Simple Abundance she writes about these gaps. She says, "Perhaps the gaps are what make faith possible, especially when the pain is unbearable. If there were no doubt, why would we need faith? Perhaps the doubts must be acknowledged, accepted, embraced, and pushed past before our faith is strong enough, not just to talk about, but to sustain."
Part of this being real with God and with one another is acknowledging the gaps. Yes, even being grateful for what they teach us. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen."
"Lord, help me to pray for these dear ones in faith today. You have promised that even if it the size of a mustard seed it can move mountains. Give me faith."
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Check out our slide show!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
This morning while we were getting ready for church we finally discovered the hole where our family of chipmunks lives. We watched four of them scurry in and out. The adult chippy (probably mom) with her cheeks full came back to the hole with breakfast and then the three babies came out to eat and play in "their" front yard. This picture is of two of the babies. "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all." Thank you for the joy these little animals bring to us!
"A man's delight in looking forward to and hoping for some particular satisfaction is a part of the pleasure flowing out of it, enjoyed in advance." Arthur Schopenhauer
I remember the feeling as a child. Looking forward to something so deeply I made myself sick. I remember not being able to sleep, lying there imagining how the event was going to be, who would be there, what I would wear and what we would eat. Rarely did it ever live up to my expectations, but that was somehow okay, because the anticipation was enough.
Yesterday Delaney was invited to a birthday party for a friend from school, Ysabel. Beginning Friday night the excitement was evident. It was hard to get her to settle down and she already had her outfit picked out. I tried to warn her that 4 pm the next day was a very long time from now. After waking at 6:45 am she began hours of art projects, making card after card for her friends who would also be at the party. You could see the wheels in her head racing, every once in awhile asking a question about what I thought the party would be like. Finally, it was time to go. She stood by the door proudly carrying the Webkins Panda she had chosen for a gift. (Webkins are the craze for her class right now--who has which one, who has the most. I think Delaney has six, which I thought was a lot until one of the girls at the party told Delaney and I in a very superior tone she has collected them all, close to one hundred. Oh the "inadequacies" our children are made to feel so early from emphasis on material possessions.)
After a day of rain, the sun had gloriously come out as we turned into the drive. I have always loved long driveways with thoughtfully planted trees lining both sides, after years of growth making a kind of tunnel of trees. Delaney took a deep breath and said, "This is beautiful!" The girls who were already there rushed to the car to greet Delaney, and they all ran off to play in the big yard. I looked around at the rolling countryside, the cows, the big horse barn, the creek at the base of the property and thought of how different our lives have become so quickly. The girls pestered to go down and see the horses and so some of the moms finally agreed, despite the mud. The barn was full of stunning Arabians, Palominos and my favorite a horse named "Harley Davidson", a Paint horse. I could see it in Delaney's eyes--the wonder of these gorgeous creatures. Spark, a new interest and opportunity for her life. I smiled. As we left the barn the other girls rushed ahead but Delaney held back with me as if she knew we had both just experienced something very special. As we walked hand in hand back up to the party I told her about how I briefly grew to love horses when I was exactly her age and we lived in Louisville, KY and how her grandma, my mom, always had her own horse growing up and even rode bareback through the MN fields. This barn is less than a minute from our house, and we agreed that she would love to learn to ride.
The rest of the party was predictable. There was popcorn and a cotton candy machine and games. The gift bags had party blowers in them and the kids discovered if they blew them together the cows briskly came through the fields towards the barn. Watching her friend open gift after gift, including four new Webkins, Delaney's eyes grew a little green. Leaving, as we walked to the car I could see her let down begin. After a few moments of quiet she began to chatter about her birthday in September and how she wanted her party this year . . . beginning new anticipation.
As I tucked her in last night I thought about her world and how much it has changed in such a short time. I marveled at her courage and confidence with so many new peers. I laughed as I thought about her "city girl" ways and how "worldly" (and I mean that in a good way) she seems sometimes. And then I look over at her in her turtle jammies snuggled with her stuffed cow and "cheech", and I know she is still my little girl. I have finally learned as a mother no anticipation is better than living in this moment. All the hopes and dreams I have for my children can wait, because I have the sweet gift of now. Thank you.
Friday, May 16, 2008
26. Rainy days.
27. A pint of Haagen-Dasz Mango Sorbet.
28. Watching Laney play basketball with her daddy, dribbling and making shots, her confidence growing.
30. Flying Kites.
31. Danica's first "snaggle tooth".
32. Hand-me downs.
33. Bubble baths.
34. The silliness that ensues after bubble baths.
35. Naps on rainy days like today, YAAWN.
36. Naps on ANY day.
37. Swings; My childhood memories of soaring high into the trees at Gypsy Hill Park; Watching Delaney learn to pump her legs and swing herself so high she feels free; Pushing Danica in her baby swing outside, planting the seed for her own love of swings!
40. My tweezers and strange obsession with hair removal, believe me you should be thankful for this too--remember my early 90's brow look?
41. Cleveland Indians baseball games.
42. Any baseball game.
43. "Mom, let's do art," from Delaney.
45. A blank quilt square ready to be filled with a memory of Alice Snyder, Dan's mother, a mother I never met but somehow know so well.
46. QUIET. "Be still and know that I Am." No TV, No computer, No phone, No music, No voices--Can you hear Him?
47. Emptiness, because sometimes you have to rid your mind and heart of all clutter to make room for what truly matters.
49. Memories. Can you imagine losing the very thoughts that make you who you are? Today I praise God for my mind and the ability to remember and reflect on my yesterdays creating such a peaceful today and hopeful tomorrow.
"I have heard of you by hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You." Job 42:5
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Yesterday I had one of those days when gratefulness is hard to come by. Not so much because there weren't many things to be thankful for but finding the time to even reflect on them was a challenge. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work from home right now. I know, everyone thinks working from home would be the best of both worlds, but I promise you it has unique obstacles. Anyone who has known me for very long knows I have almost always loved my work, particularly in real estate. There weren't many days when I couldn't wait to get up and start another day. I rarely took those positive experiences for granted. I now realize that like everything else, much of my professional happiness came from something inside me, not just my job circumstances. My current work at home is as a database administrator for a company in Leesburg, VA that "rents" marketing lists to mostly conservative political organizations. It is completely opposite any work I have ever done before. I have always been an ideas person, managing operations and people and creating strategy. This job is purely administrative, it is technical and tedious and so not me. But it allows me to contribute financially to my family and still be here with Danica during the day and when Delaney gets home from school. Every time I get Danica up from her nap and see her sweet smile or see her do something for the first time I say a prayer of thanks I am here and doing the work I have been given for this day.
Last night, after a stressful day full of rush orders and technical issues, I took my sweet baby upstairs to tuck her in. We read a few of her favorite board books, Good Night Moon and Guess How Much I Love You, the same books I used to read to Laney when she was small. We sang our usual songs and said a prayer. Then I held her close and rocked her. While I exhaled I thought of how quickly this will end, and I drank it in. Then I went in to tuck Delaney into bed. Our routine is not much different than Danica's except she's too big for the rocking chair now and so we snuggle under a quilt in her bed. We listened to a lullaby CD I bought her when she was a baby recorded with her name sung in each song. The following song played, and I cried because it was exactly how I was feeling. Oh how thankful I am for the gift of time with these precious girls in the rocking chair!
The house is hushed and still
My other blessings are asleep.
You've waited all this time.
Now to my arms you creep.
We walk all through the house,
See the remnants of the day.
I push them all aside for we are on our way
To the rocking chair that's waiting in your room.
Our peaceful rocking chair where sleep
Will find you soon.
We cuddle with a book. I talk about our day.
We sing a little song. And then a prayer we say.
We thank the Lord above for the
Blessings that He brings.
We thank Him for this love and a list of many things.
Not least the rocking chair, our favorite place to be.
I should be feeling tired, but this is joy to me.
Looking at your face, I see it must be true,
The rocking chair brings sleep and quietness to you.
For Mama it brings more.
Danica (Delaney), someday you will know,
A place to thank the Lord for the blessings He bestows.
Our faithful rocking chair, it's purpose now has served
For Danica (Delaney), you're sleep.
My prayers have all been heard.
by Elizabeth Bettich
Monday, May 12, 2008
I began a blog under the name “circle journal” well over a year ago. I have been so completely changed by this past year I needed to start over. The purpose of Simple Abundance, although focused specifically on everyday gifts, is similar as before in that I want it to be a place where I can be real and you can be real back so we can truly know one another.
I love the poem “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. In many ways it sums up what I long for in my relationships with people I care about.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
Today I am thankful for the amazing gift of my friend, Angie. From childhood she and I accepted this invitation from one another. Although we grew apart for a time, God has brought her back into my life, and it is as if she never left. Lately, through her struggle with breast cancer, I have had to relearn how to sit with her pain without moving to hide it or fade or fix it. I have rediscovered how to see her beauty even when it is not pretty. Her courage and faith have reminded me of what sustains us both from the inside when everything else falls away. "Thank you, God, for this amazing woman and true friend. Please strengthen her today and bring healing to her body and spirit."
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The most beautiful example of this kind of love has been demonstrated to me my entire life by my own mother. I have been reading Elisabeth George's book, Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman. The book is a study on the Proverbs 31 woman. Her lessons on each verse are amazing, but it is my mother's notes in the margins that have spoken the most to me. I have always known my mother's love in a profound way, but it was the trials of this past year and my own mother's sacrifice lighting my way that kept me on the difficult path.
Today, I am full of thanksgiving for my two beautiful daughters. What a blessing and privilege to hold these children of God for awhile as my own. I am thankful for my husband. This man who has loved me through so many good and bad times. He has stood firm through times when I was giving my all and times when I had nothing to give. He has born the burdens of sickness and poverty and reveled in the joys of health and riches.
I am thankful for the gift of carrot cake from the Mustard Seed market, a surprise for Mother's Day from a husband who remembered it was the best cake I have ever had (three and a half years ago) and went to find it for me. I am thankful for azaleas picked by my sweet Delaney during a day spent outdoors at my parent's house with my mom and her cousins. I am thankful for Danica, sitting up by herself for the first time unassisted today, growing so strong and sweet, a daily reminder of God's goodness and faithfulness to me. I am thankful for the honor and praise from my husband and girls.
"Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all." Proverbs 31:29
Saturday, May 10, 2008
1. An blooming Ohio dogwood, reminding me of my Virginia roots.
2. A Starbucks Venti' white mocha with whip, calm and energy all in one. No one will ever convince me it's not worth almost 5 dollars.
3. The intoxicating baby smell as I kiss Danica's head over and over while I rock her.
4. A cup of coffee with two Splenda packets and the baby's bottle ready on the counter when I wake, thoughtful gestures from a man who cherishes me.
5. New freckles on my Delaney's nose, exposure to the sun and life, cinnamon and sugar on my sweet girl.
6. Date night rituals, always ending with a bottle of cabernet, dark chocolate and heart to hearts.
7. Daily phone calls from my sister, Rochelle, my first and forever friend.
8. Living so close to my mom I can hug her EVERYDAY!
9. Flip flops and freshly painted toes.
10. Comfy jammie pants.
11. Laney reading books to me before bed, the first stage in a life of literacy.
12. My Pottery Barn slipcovered sofa, bright white is only a wash away.
13. A yard full of dandelions, who decided they were weeds anyway?
14. Quilts and the hands that made them.
15. Quiet moments drinking at the well of sweet spiritual water, and I am satisfied.
16. Indoor voices.
17. Lying on Dan's chest at the end of a long day, always my happy place.
18. Sweet tea, just like grandma makes.
19. Old books, friends I can revisit over and over again.
20. New books, more word worlds to discover.
21. Mani/Pedis, proof I really am a princess.
22. Sleep, although it often eludes me, when it comes I bask in it's restorative power, and I give praise!
23. Bedtime routines and familiar lullabys, knowing my children will "Sleep Sound in Jesus."
24. A sensitive heart that has to FEEL things all the way all the time.
25. Two little bunnies who visit our yard at dusk each evening.