Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not my will, but Thine be done

Sometimes it's hard to not push your kids into the things you wish you'd accomplished. It's even harder when they enjoy those same things.

I had a shot at being a real pianist. I had an excellent teacher (thank you Mrs. Ellsworth) with stellar credentials and the ability to create stars out of dinky small-town Ohio kids. But this kid wanted the glory of being able to play without the drudgery of scales and technique and cord progressions. I had music in my bones but laziness in my butt, and therefore gave poor Mrs. Ellsworth a very hard time and my parents very little return on their money.

My kids love the piano. They've played since their pudgy little fingers could reach the keys. Bubba has shown glimpses of talent--picking things up by ear, memorizing everything, the ability to transpose into different keys--and Sis is following close behind. They have a delightful teacher whose aim is to encourage love of the piano rather than strict discipline. While this is wonderful for them, I find it rather irritating. I want them to play with excellence, to be star performers, and...to burn out by the age of 12. Oh, wait, not that. But if I'm not careful, that's exactly where we're headed.

The kids gave their yearly recital this past Friday. It was Sissy's first; she played a duet with her teacher and one with her brother. Bubba played Clementi's Opus 36. Sonatina No.1--the same thing I played for a recital at his age. I think I was more nervous than the two of them put together. Sissy is made for performance: she loves the stage and never fumbles over mistakes, but keeps on moving. Bubba plays with his entire being. He love music and doesn't have to be asked to practice, but plays every time he passes the piano. Now if mother can just keep her wits about her and remember that we asked the Lord to accomplish His plans with our children, virtuosos or not. May He get the glory, not the children nor their mother.

We all scream for ice cream

Don't miss 31-cent Scoop Night at Baskin Robinns this Wednesday, April 30, from 5:00 to 10:00, in honor of America's firefighters. Click here to find a store near you.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pulled Muscles

My doctrinal muscles have been experiencing a lot of stretching lately, and frankly, I'm rather sore, discouraged with my progress, and ready to quit working out.

Our church is currently redefining our mission as a body and as individual believers, focusing on the redemptive work of God through Jesus and His assignment to His followers to carry on that work until He returns. The whole idea of living a life glorifying to God and going and making disciples is nothing new to me: I grew up in the church. But I've gotten really comfortable in my definition of what these things entail and am starting to wonder if they really revolve around making myself comfortable rather than pleasing the Lord.

I am very comfortable being a homemaker and only setting foot off my property twice a week for Sunday morning worship and a very busy errand day. I've been patting myself on the back for fulfilling God's call to be "busy at home" and "looking to the ways of my household." But what I'm starting to see is that this, in part, is an excuse to avoid part of my calling as a believer. While it appears godly on the outside, truthfully I'd rather not be bothered with my neighbors, or the check-out girl, or the library volunteer. I don't see them as people in need of kindness and grace, let alone the gospel. Instead of seeing myself as a minister of God's good news to a dying world, I've sought to run from its sinfulness, hiding within the walls of my self-sustaining Christian culture with its own music, kids' clubs, exercise groups, and coffee houses. I'm starting to wonder if something is wrong with this picture. And that is very uncomfortable.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The way I see it

You always pay for things, one way or another. And sometimes "another" is more expensive.

We opted out of little league this year because the cost for two boys to play for two months was close to $400; Daddy's work schedule rarely allowed him to make the games; and little league games are...well...not too exciting for the fans so more than half of the family was hot, cold, wet, tired or bored most of the time. We figured that money could be better spent on something the whole family could enjoy.

So this is what we bought.

Yup. A picture window. You see, boy with baseball must throw to other boy, even if second boy is IN THE LIVING ROOM!!!
And, in case you haven't priced this sort of thing lately, having the glass replaced in a 35-year-old double-paned picture window is a little less than $700. Why couldn't chess be the great American pastime?

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Poetry

We found a fun, albeit cheeky, book of poetry at the library yesterday entitled Technically, It's not My Fault, by John Grandits. All of the entries are written from the perspective of an 11-year-old boy: so, yes, it does contain bits of bodily noise humor. The following poem made my kid-os giggle and I'm sure can be appreciated by those who go to school and those who don't, probably for different reasons, none of which I desire to hear.

TyrannosaurBus Rex

I am the vicious TyrannosaurBus Rex.
I roam the suburbs, hunting.
Those who see me gaze in terror.
Those who are spared are grateful.

Early in the morning, I spy
a group of small human children
standing on the corner of Elm and Spring.
I slam on my brakes.
I open my mouth.
"Come in, little children," I say.
They don't want to, but they must.
Their parents have delivered them to me.
Human sacrifices.

I eat the humans.
They are young and tender.

Then I go to Elm and Hudson.
More children. More sacrifices.

I follow my usual route.
Hudson and Harding.

Harding and Broad.
Broad and White.

Soon I am full.

My breakfast is noisy.
My breakfast is jumping around in my stomach.
My breakfast is giggling and laughing and arguing.
My stomach is queasy.
I don't feel so good.

I go to the
school parking lot.
I open my mouth
and barf out my noisy,

I'm so tired from hunting. I settle into my nap
and dream dreams about 3:30
when I will go to the parking lot
next to the school and hunt again.

Wish we all could be California girls

About 4:30 this morning I woke up with a very odd feeling. Things were shaking and the pictures on the wall were rattling. Was it a train? We're too far from the tracks. A low flying jet? It would have to be a military bomber. A big truck rumbling down the road? Not at this hour. But it couldn't be an earthquake. Not here. Well, I was wrong. 5.2 on the Richter scale. What's next, monsoons?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A scrap of pink paper containing this poem has been in my Bible for over 15 years. It has haunted me, inspired me, and chastised me time and time again. I thought it a fitting one for my contribution to the celebration of National Poetry Month.

Psalm of Single-mindedness

Lord of reality
make me real
not plastic
pretend phony
an actor playing out his part
I don’t want
to keep a prayer list
but to pray
nor agonize to find Your will
but to obey
what I already know
to argue
theories of inspiration
but submit to Your Word.
I don’t want
to explain the difference
between eros and philos
and agape
but to love.
I don’t want
to sing as if I mean it
I want to mean it.
I don’t want
to tell it like it is
but to be it
like you want it.
I don’t want to think another need me
but I need him
else I’m not complete.
I don’t want
to tell others how to do it
but to do it
to have to always be right
but admit it when I’m wrong.
I don’t want to be a census taker
but an obstetrician
nor an involved person, a professional
but a friend
I don’t want to be insensitive
but to hurt where other people hurt
nor to say I know how you feel
But to say God knows
and I’ll try
if you’ll be patient with me
and meanwhile I’ll be quiet.
I don’t want to scorn the clich├ęs of others
but to mean everything I say
including this.

from Psalms of my Life, by Joseph Bayly

Monday, April 14, 2008

This just in...

I received the following email in response to a question I asked about growth hormones in Prairie Farms milk:

Effective February 1, 2008 Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. only purchases milk from dairy farms where the farmer has signed an affidavit stating that he/she does not use rBST on their farm.

Gary D. Lee
V.P. Procurement
Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc

Go here to get Prairie Farms coupons.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Riding the Green Machine

After yesterday's mishap, the kids and I decided to take a day off of school and examine the status of organic food in our area. We hit six--yes six--grocery stores: Sam's Club; Trader Joe's; Meijer; an employee owned, cash-only store; and two local independent grocers. Our prognosis should not surprise anyone: organic is expensive. But how expensive was a shock to my system, along with the fact that there was very little difference in price from store to store. There just aren't many deals on organic food.

We found that organic milk, butter and eggs were consistently twice the price of their store counterparts. But now that Meijer and Dean's brand (non-organic) milk are rBHT-free, I feel less pressure to buy organic milk, anyway.

Meat was another kicker: double the price for non-hormone, non-antibiotic beef or chicken; I did find some chicken thighs marked down 40% for quick sale at Meijer.

Organic canned and bottled items such as tomatoes, beans, and salad dressings were a bit more reasonable especially when purchased under the store's private label at Meijer or Trader Joe's, with prices 25% to 50% above the regular brands.

Veggies were scary bad. Meijer had run-of-the-mill pesticide laden strawberries for $.99 per pound. The organic ones were $3.75. Ouch! The local grocer had romaine on sale for $.39 per pound while the organic was on sale at Meijer for $2.00 per 14 oz. package. I didn't even glance in the produce direction at Trader Joe's. Makes that garden all the more necessary!

The reality check has been deposited and it will not cover organics! No matter how I figure it, my $50 per week grocery budget is not going to stretch to include all these wonderfully healthy products. I'll look for the mark-downs, shop the pathetically slim sales, and weigh my options carefully, but for the present time, this home economist is going to have to mean that "Lord, bless this food to our bodies" in a "don't let us get poisoned" kind of way.
Now about those chickens...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A very blustery day

Those kiddie umbrellas with critters on the handles ought to come with warning labels. Trying desperately to hold on to the handle of his dinosaur umbrella in the torrential rain, our little man was literally picked up by the 35 mile hour wind and deposited, cute little hiney down, in a large mud puddle in the parking lot of our local warehouse club. It was all rather Piglet-esque.

Of course by this time Sissy's screaming because her umbrella's inside out and Bubba's giving us all commands as if we were very undisciplined soldiers on a soggy battlefield.

If I wasn't so irritated by the fact that we now had to turn around and head home for a down-to-the-skivvies clothing change instead of doing some grocery shopping and heading to the library before piano lessons, I'd have laughed my head off. As it was, I'm sure our wet shenanigans gave more than a couple folks something to smile about.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chicken Scratch

Come to find out, my mom had chickens when she was a girl. As she remembers it, her brother had close to 100 chicks for a FFA (that's Future Farmers of America) project. They kept them in a two-story barn in their backyard. She had some grizzly stories about butchering time. I guess the Polish woman next door used to do the deed, holding them down until they stopped squirming because letting them run around headless damaged the dinner. My mamma was none too happy about the process of dipping the decapitated birds in boiling water before plucking them and would leave that to her mamma. Needless to say, she doesn't think I'm cut out for raising chickens. She hasn't seen this. Of course when I saw the price of the Eglu I almost choked! It would take years to "re-coop" that kind of money! Someone estimated the cost of the eggs at $.93 each for the first year. At that rate the organic cage free eggs from my local green grocer are a steal.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cracking Up

I must be losing my mind because I'm seriously intrigued by this.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

Keep praying for the Lawrensons; they've got miles to go. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


If you aren't familiar with this family, today would be a great day to get acquainted and make good use of your breath praying for theirs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More Green Stuff

In order to collect my thoughts about living "green" and organize the scads of information I'm consuming, I've started a Green Lifestyle Notebook. Joe Thorn inspired me with his great post on setting up a Moleskine . Being cheap, my notebook is not of the $20 variety--it's a plain-Jane spiral 10-cent-er from WallyMart--but I used his plan to organize it, adding a few pages for a bibliography in the back.

I'm planning to jot down information I find related to the things I do as a housewife--cleaning, cooking, laundering, gardening--and keep a list of good books and websites to reference or buy at a later date.

Any source suggestions would be greatly appreciated.