Sunday, July 31, 2011

summer is for weekending

Wisconsin this weekend was full of summery things...

lakeside walking with little ones
playground fun
the sun setting behind a barn
night talking around the dinner table
smoothies on the porch
reading in bed
sleeping in
time spent with good friends
sun, beach, and water
wine tasting
a field full of fireflies

Back in the big city, now. Back to work tomorrow. Everything so busy and fast....but i don't want to forget what I think and feel and pray out where the sky is bigger--wider--and the fields so green. Why does my whole soul seem to enlarge when I am out where there is space? It always catches me off guard how much "clearer" some things seem to become when I go where life is a little less busy; and where nature is closer than trees here and there--small patches of grass amidst all the asphalt...things seem to sink in out there. I'm always brought back here, where i have to practice the clarity; where i live out the things learned. Hmm. Interesting thing, this pattern i've discovered this year, of getting out and then coming back.

My only regret of the weekend: no bike ride. I so wanted those open roads. But it was beastly hot and time was short.

Lately i've been craving the water--to be out on the water. In a canoe. Summer isn't summer without time in a canoe. I suppose I can get my fix up North in August. Mmm. SO LOOKING FORWARD :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Ninja's don't wait till you're ready..."

Today at swim, I was sitting on the couch in the lobby because C wanted to wait and "rest" a bit while S swam. Next thing I knew, he was flying through the air and on top of me--knee in the stomach, elbow in the nose. After a gasp and a laugh and an effort to explain that next time I'd appreciate a warning, he said,"Ninja's don't wait till you're ready!"


Thursday, July 21, 2011

my summer theme song ;)

For real, yo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

this family of mine

We're all so excited for the "reunion" at Grandma's this August. I can tell already it's going to be such good time of fun and togetherness....and a whole lot of laughter. This family laughs a lot when it gets together :)

We've been mass emailing plans back and forth. Luke posted this in an email a few days ago. It about says it all for us, I think!

"Up North is a lone set of cross-country ski tracks across a wilderness lake and the wood smoke rising from a cabin chimney. It's bunchberries in July and wild rice in September. Each of us has an Up North. It's a time and place far from the here and now. It's a map on the wall, a dream in the making, a tugging at ones soul. For those who feel the tug, who make the dream happen, who put the map in the packsack and go, the world is never quite the same again. We have been Up North and part of us always will be." -Sam Cook

Thursday, July 14, 2011

living in new directions

I've been thinking on choice a bit lately. There's a tension, it seems, between choice/freedom/responsibility...these (words) ideas we use when we talk about our ways of living--our behavior. Belief lies at the heart of behavior.

What do I believe about this world--it's people, patterns, and personality? What do I believe about myself--body, soul, and spirit? What do I believe about God--his person, character, and interaction with all things around?

The answers are found in the way I live. Belief lives and grows in our deepest places, where no one else can see. From there it wells up and comes out in the way we think and choose, and act.

I've learned some things this semester about the thought-life as the "breeding grounds" (so to speak) of belief. What a gift it is that we are thinking beings--intentional, no doubt about it. We've been created with such capacity to ask and wonder, think and learn. We are always thinking and reasoning and living our lives on those conclusions.

I read Romans 12:2 at some point and felt the inspiration behind Paul's charge, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

It's big-deal stuff he's talking. I can tell because I've lived it. I am living it. The transformation of thought is so key to developing healthy patterns of living. Belief to change behavior--to achieve growth and foster maturity. Not the other way around. Not just a modification of behavior. We don't change like that. We just don't. I know this of myself.

I read this just a few minutes ago from Ann Voskamp, "It's only prides hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart, keeps us enslaved to fear."

We all have perfectionist tendencies--some more than others. I certainly do, and I've had to do hard battle with them at times. They won't ever go away altogether but there's value in digging down to determine what's under it all. Why do I feel like I need to be_____ or act_____ or achieve______.

Fear isn't freedom. And this I've learned in some really hard ways this year. I have a feeling I'll be learning it all life long.
Because God is about setting us free from things--free from the world--toward a better life. And we keep getting tangled up with things here. "Don't copy this world...have God change the way you think...know God's good will for you..." Promises we bank on for life, right?

His patience is what gets me. Probably because I lose patience with myself so easily. But He is consistently and constantly present in the ongoing work of learning to be free and untangled. I hope this never ceases to amaze me...and fill my heart with gratitude.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

priceless moments

The kids' mama has been in the ER all day for appendicitis. She's still there waiting for an opening for surgery. It's something a little scary for a kid, I think, to know mom is in the hospital and needs surgery but to not be sure quite what that means. She called them in the afternoon and the first question out of their mouths was "can we watch a movie?!" Normally they're not allowed to watch TV when I'm there, unless it's a special occasion. Probably out of sheer exhaustion, the answer was yes...which meant they both wanted to watch a (different) movie.

C picked his favorite: The Giants of Brazil (which recaps one of the World Cup games--really old). S picked The Last Song, that Miley Cyrus teenage drama with terrible acting but, nevertheless, every important component of a teenage drama: summer love born out of a few cheesy pick up lines, jealous ex-girlfriend that spreads rumors, a heart wrenching break-up, and...duh...the heart wrenching reunion at the end of the movie. True love, apparently. I was in and out of the living room doing laundry, etc., but eventually sat down to finish the movie with S. Eew, eeeeew. It was such a terrible movie. Painful to watch, really. I hope my daughter never wants to watch that kind of stuff. She probably will. I hope she also wants to watch The Giants of Brazil. Seriously. High school love chick flicks make me gag.

But then, inevitably, by the last scene of the movie we're on the edge of our seats waiting for the reunion that is about to happen on that beautiful beach with the sun setting behind. Okay, I wasn't actually on the edge of my seat. But S was and those sappy cheesy stories get girls' emotions all a tangle. That's part of why I hate them.
By this point C had finished watching his educational film (bless his heart) and was sitting on my lap. I love when he wants to sit on my lap--so cute. There we were, all cute like, sitting together watching this overly emotionally charged last scene of the movie where she runs to him and he catches her up and they kiss and everything is better again (resolution comes quick and easy to little high schoolers, apparently).

I could almost feel S catch her breath right at that moment and at the exact same time I heard C say under his breath: "Why can't I make this into a torpedo; I used to be able to make it into a torpedo!" And I looked down to find C folding and rolling the band-aid he had put on earlier after Millie bit him. I laughed and he looked up at me, "What?" Nothing, I thought, you are just amazing...and I am so glad you were making a torpedo out of a band-aid while Miley Cyrus was kissing Mr. too-tan-and-too-blonde-for-comfort out there on that beach. It was a priceless moment.

Friday, July 08, 2011

so great...

The Civil Wars - Forget Me Not

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

summer lovin' with the little ones

a few favorites...

1. Hot days made cooler by ice cream--sticky fingers and thick, smeared mustaches.
2. Damp, sandy beach towels.
3. Looking in the rearview mirror to see a six-year-old sound asleep minutes after leaving swim class.
4. Throwing pennies in public fountains.
5. A cookie date at a coffee shop with a two-year-old who is finding her words.
6. Walking the neighborhood until the wee one falls asleep.
7. "Penalty kick shoot-outs" in the basement and conversations that go like this:
C: "Andrea, you're a pretty good keeper for someone like you."
Me: "Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"
C: "For someone who isn't very good at soccer. We're like opposites. You are a good keeper, I am a good player."
Me: Uuuuhh...
8. A ten-year-old eager to tell me about her day.
9. Tucking in and "counting sheep" with a bored boy who won't sleep even though he's laying on the coolest (ever) spiderman sheets.
10. Loving a beautiful girl who is almost eleven and weighs herself 3 different times in the locker room. Frustrated that I'm tongue-tied and want to tell her things that will turn her mind from where it's at.
11. Dinner together at Potbelly's while mom and dad are out. Laughing so hard chips spew (chewed up ones; in my face) and sprite dribbles down the sides of his mouth. And her lips are stained brown from the chocolate brownie cookie we are supposed to be "splitting."
12. Laughing till it doesn't make sense because we're all probably over-tired and high on the sun.
13. Learning as I watch them that this is where life is real: these moments that sometimes feel mundane and routine but that are gifted moments and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Tonight I felt so grateful to be sharing these years with these little ones. It has been hard and beautiful and quite a journey. They have taught me so much. Loving them has turned to an ache. Uh oh, good gracious. They've gotten to me.

And I'll need to be reminded, again, when things are tough and I'm on the floor cleaning up puppy diarrhea or acting as referee (for the umpteenth time) that this is where it's at. That "relationships grow only in a hot house of humility, selflessness, open-handedness" and I will have to give of myself again...and again...and again. He taught us self-giving. That's how we live best, but it isn't always easiest. No wonder we find ourselves praying for strength and courage to put our best foot forward. And for baby steps :)

Monday, July 04, 2011

A different kind of 4th

Of all holidays, I think I have the most unique and varied memories of the 4th of July--top two being the one before I started high school and the one spent in Swaziland. That summer spent (in the U.P.) at the lake house before high school was simply wonderful. I don't know if anything will beat watching the fireworks burst overhead from our seat in the row boat (pieces of cardboard and what-not landing in the water around us). And then I'll never forget homemade pizza, watching Jim and Matt and others set off small firecrackers and sparklers from the balcony of that Mbabane base, while being led in our national anthem by Nini (a native Swazi). I think she had more pride in celebrating the holiday with us than any of us American's had in being American. It was kind of cute.

This year, I got to spend the weekend with my Grandma and my uncle Matt. I was so grateful because I don't necessarily get to see them all that often. It's a gift to be with people who are at different stages of life and who are family and who love you. Sometimes I get caught in my stage of life. It's so helpful to listen to people who are in the middle of their lives or to those nearing the end. And I don't mean this at all in a morbid sense. There's a certain beauty about those who have soaked up so much of life's wisdom because they've been around long enough. I felt it with Grandma--yes, you Grandma!--this weekend. I want to listen to things she says because I know she knows what she's talking about. She's lived so much more of life than I have. For example: when she says, "what joy have we but family--relationships?" I listen up and I tuck that away because I know that she's right...and that she's had more experience with it all than I have.

I delighted to walk through the woods with Matt--up Swede Town Creek--and sit on the shore of that certain Great Lake :) soaking up "the peace of wild things" and catching up on life.

And, as usual, pictures and memories of Papa that will always have me aching and missing him but we do alright because we still have each other and we're still taking pictures and making memories.

Then there was the drive home which was good for thinking and wondering and praying and processing. There is so much space for it out there. Driving across Wisconsin today was so refreshing. The sky so BIG and clear and blue. The fields so FAR and rich and green. Spectacular.

There's been much on my mind and heart and I was able to reach a good bit of clarity this weekend, which I am thankful for. One thing i've been thinking about is the relationship between belief and freedom (faith and hope is sort of another way of terming it, i think). I was thinking about our instinctive search for truth and lasting things--which is a search for peace (freedom). I felt this on the shore of Lake Superior. I find peace there. Freedom. Why do we ache so much to find peace? Mom reminded me today that we were made for more than this life, so we feel unsettled if we think this is all there is.

I got home and got to looking through some Piper sermons. Gosh, I haven't listened to him in so so long. I watched this of his and was floored. So timely. So good to hear. So simple and so beautiful. I had to laugh a little--he's so goofy and I'd forgotten. I appreciate how utterly captivated he is by his love for the Lord. He doesn't discount the difficulty of faith but he also doesn't discount the joy of knowing Christ. He emphasizes spiritual knowledge (head) and spiritual experience (heart) and I think I'll always be indebted to him for helping me learn the necessity of these both for the maturity of faith (scholarship and relationship). I have a lot to learn. We do well to be reminded of the beauty of God and his interactive life with the world. Wait till you get to his discussion of the relationship between freedom and desire. I really appreciate what he has to say. His illustrations are helpful. SO, enough jibber jabber. I hope you watch it. It is 45 minutes well worth it. Take a little break...

Happy 4th, everyone. I hear the explosions across the city!!

Friday, July 01, 2011

sleep won't come for awhile i do what i always do when i can't sleep: i write.

I made it up north. It's beautiful in the U.P. in the summertime. Lupines lined the road driving up--absolutely breathtaking. Wish I had a picture of my own but google images will have to do. They are SUCH a beautiful flower. If you have never read the children's book Miss Rumphius ("The Lupine Lady"), you must. It was a childhood favorite.

The air seemed to get cleaner and clearer. The water was so bright and blue. Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be sunny and 70's and i can't wait for walks, runs, strolls around the neighborhood and along the shore. MmmMmm.

Coffee in the morning with Grandma (although we agreed to sleep in and THEN have coffee :)) then Uncle Matt gets in later tomorrow. A lovely, relaxed weekend away with those I love...what could be better?!

Driving up here alone isn't quite as fun as driving up with friends. I passed the time singing obnoxiously loud to country songs, car dancing until i realized i was swerving a little bit too much, admiring Wisconsin farms (more and more attached all the time), talking to myself (giving advice to self is better done out loud, I'd say), and, well, praying (also really helpful to do out loud--especially if there is any venting, pleading, wondering, or frustration just gets it out and puts it to Him and there it is, at His feet where it should be, messy and all). These were all very helpful and very therapeutic ways to pass the time today. But...I'm exhausted. I really should sleep...

it's good to be here.