Archive for July 2011

a small celebration.

So, I'm going to brag a bit about how good God is to me and my boys.

Yesterday, I posted about working through the 31 Days to Clean book, but other than the cleaning assignment, I hadn't really read the day's entry. Adam had left that morning to help a friend move and the little boys and I were on our own.

I had plans to have a friend over for coffee and then, if Adam was gone for the whole afternoon, I was going to walk to the library and to a little toy store called Duck Soup. I planned on getting each of the boys a small, new toy. They've outgrown most of the ones filling their toy bin and I wanted to get them a treat. We rarely ever go out and buy new toys for them because we've already been so blessed by friends and family, and I don't believe in them having a ton of toys anyway.

And then I read the entry for the day in 31 Days and, hurrah! My Mary Challenge for the day was to have a friend over for coffee! God set that up so well (before we even know what to ask, huh?).

Then I found out Duck Soup had closed. I figured I'd just take the boys to Wal-Mart or somewhere else later. I was a little disappointed, but didn't feel like the day was ruined or anything.

After lunch, my friend came over with her kids and returned some books she'd borrowed and then pulled out two Yo Gabba Gabba! plush toys. "My littlest one doesn't play with these anymore," she said, "Would you like them?"

Guys, Yo Gabba Gabba! is this household's favorite kids show. It's the only one the boys watch.

And my friend was handing me our two favorite characters.

The little boys were very, very excited. I might have been a tad more excited, but that's okay.

God gave my kids some new toys, through the generosity of a friend.

It gets even better! Adam and I have a lot of big-kid toys like LEGOs, Duplos, and Matchbox cars in the back of a closet for when our kids get older. I pull them out whenever we have other kids over so they don't get bored while grown-ups talk. I pulled out Duplos for my friend's three-year-old and my little boys loved them. I'd thought that the Duplos were still way over their heads, but they proved me wrong. They're nowhere close to building with them, but their new favorite thing is to rummage in the bins and pull out pieces.

Another new toy and we already owned it!

God is so good.

Théoden fell asleep last night holding Brobee, and Plex is nearby in this picture. They were into the Duplos again this morning:

Also, I submitted a story last night for the second Machine of Death anthology. You can read more about it at, but it's basically a writing contest with a shared thesis for every story. The selections will be announced in October and will be published. The thesis is based on a Dinosaur Comic strip, and the first anthology was kind of amazing. I feel like my story needed more work but I sent it in anyway. I thought the deadline was Sunday at midnight and fortunately checked last night while I was working on my story--- the deadline was this morning at around 3am EST.

Anyway, it's called E. coli. One of the contest rules is that the title has to be somebody's test result. I've found a few things I wish I could change, but oh, well. It's submitted. And I'll just keep writing new stuff! If you'd like to read it, email me or let me know on Facebook and I'll send it to you-- I don't want to just post it online right now, though.

Also, 31 Days is kicking my butt a bit. I'm keeping up with the cleaning okay, but it's really challenging my heart. Aren't you glad that God never leaves us alone, though? He never lets us go, and even when that's uncomfortable, I'm so grateful.

The entry today was about priorities. And I had just skimmed a few verses in Psalms and was counting that as my Bible study when I read 31 Days and it was all like, "Do what you say are your priorities and what you treat as priorities really line up? Are you spending time meditating on the Word of God?" and it was exactly the kind of reprimand I needed.

Right now, if I'm honest, I sort of shuffle myself, my little boys, and Adam around in the first priority slot, and then housework and God take turns being in fourth and fifth. Yeah, that's not good. It makes for one cranky, easily irritated Mama and Wife. I'm working on that, but more importantly, the Holy Spirit is working on that in me, and as long as I'm heeding that call, He's not going to stop or let go.

And finally, I have noticed a movement in a lot of the people I know toward the art of hospitality. Sometimes, I forget that this is actually part of the Christian calling. Entertaining people is one thing; intentional hospitality that loves on people and fills a need for them is another. I want to make that more and more a part of my life (within reason; I don't want to get out of balance). So, let me ask you, when you go into another person's home, what makes you feel comfortable and loved? What makes you feel like you belong?

a bit here, a bit there.

I'm working through a new cleaning book that I'm really enjoying. It's part devotional/part cleaning guide. It's called "31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" and you can find it here. It's only available as an eBook, as far as I know, so you can look at it on your computer or you can order the Kindle version and look on a Kindle or on your iPod touch/iPhone/iPad.

I'm on day four and enjoying it so far. It's challenged me to address the attitude of my heart when it comes to cleaning, and one of the "Mary Challenges" was to ask my family what aspects of housecleaning/homemaking made them feel most loved. The little boys, predictably, answered "da da da da?" which means anything from Adam to food to "HI THERE!!!!!"

Adam's answers gave me some insight into what's important to him in the course of a week and helped me shift my focus from what I thought I should have as a priority to what actually blessed him if I made it a priority.

Today, the task is to clean my stove and microwave (I'll be cleaning my toaster oven since we are sans microwave). I'll go do that in a moment...

On another front, Adam and I are very much enjoying our brand-spankin' new Spotify account. The service launched in the U.S. yesterday and is a bit like Netflix for music. You can listen to anything they have on the service (and it's a LOT!) streaming, for free. It's ad-supported. Or, you can pay $5 a month and go ad-free. Or you can pay $10 a month and go ad-free, stream to an iPod, have wireless iPod syncing, and off-line listening. We went with that last option and are cancelling our $12/month eMusic account. eMusic has consistently grown from an amazing site to something really disappointing. They actually removed the option to re-download previously purchased tracks and albums, as other services are moving toward that option, and that just baffles me. But anyway, Spotify! We can listen to almost anything, even new albums, in their entirety, and don't have to pay per album. It's pretty awesome. I'm listening to Anberlin's Blueprints for the Black Market right now, which is an album I loved in high school.

Finally, to wrap up this post, I wanted to share pictures of my most recent project. I'm not really a very crafts-oriented person. I love the idea of crafts and DIY projects, but I'm not very good at following through on them. I don't sew, knit, crochet, woodwork, scrapbook, etc.., and I hardly even paint. That said, I occasionally get in the mood to do something like this and this week I had the chance!

I recently received an antique mirror from my mom; it had belonged to her mother and then ended up in my sister's cabin (a playhouse cabin she's since outgrown). It was nearing the point where it would be beyond salvaging. Even now, the wood is a teeny bit warped on one side. But the trim was falling off, the paint was all chipped, and so on. I had some white paint (I was trying to avoid spending any extra money for supplies) and a brush, so I tackled it the other night. I forgot to take a real "before" picture, but here's mid-way and finished (sorry about the picture quality):

Here's the mirror finished and on the wall. I wanted it to still look like an antique, so I didn't do a second coat of white paint. I wanted some of the older stuff to come through, especially in cracks and crevices.

Oh, and I know I already said "finally," but I'd nearly forgotten that I wanted to show off my other recent project. I put together my recipe binder! I had an envelope stuffed full of loose-leaf recipes and they needed a real home. Despite what I said about not being very crafty, I could put binders together or play around in Photoshop all day.

That's all. :) See my boys with their raspberry popsicles? Aren't they the sweetest?

make my words right.

Today, I was driving home from a friend's house and thinking about things. That sounds like maybe I was thinking about deep, spiritual truths or the course of my life. This is what I was thinking about:

"I like oranges, but they're kind of messy. I don't like messy fruit. I guess, though, if I lived in the 1800s, like in a manor house [ed: just finished Jane Austen book], I would eat oranges for breakfast because it would be a rare thing to have them. I wonder how good they were? They probably didn't get them very fresh. I guess you'd pack them in sawdust or hay or something, like storing apples underground like the pioneers did? What fruit keeps well. Hm. Coconut. I wonder how long coconut lasts if you just let it sit around on a counter. I've opened a coconut before. We slammed it into the garage floor of the DeRoos house. I think you can drain the milk by hammering a screwdriver through one of the little weak spots, but that doesn't really get it open.

"I guess you could use a hatchet? Maybe keep it in one of those clamp things, like for woodworking...I don't know what that's called. Some sort of clamp, though. And then you could hit it with the hatchet. But what if the coconut slips? What if the hatchet has so much force it swings around and ends up in your knee? That sounds like something a little boy would do, something they didn't think through all the way. What if my kids do that? What if Sam does that? What would I do if one of my kids ended up with a hatchet in his knee?"

Okay, so, not pretty. It might have something to do with a film I watched the other day, which was a bit like the Korean version of Man on Fire. But that's the point where I knew I was getting mentally off-track and started praying instead of dwelling on the image.

My prayer went something like this:

"God, please keep my boys safe. As they grow up, keep them from serious injury or anything that threatens their future. Protect them from broken arms and bee stings and..."

It went on for about a minute like that, and then I was a bit bothered by what I was praying. I tried changing my prayer to something more like this:

"Keep them safe from anything that threatens their lives."

And it still wasn't right. Not that it was unacceptable to God, but rather, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be asking Him to do that for my kids.

I fell back on simple prayer as God was revealing something to me.

I started praying: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done for my boys, in their lives, in their futures..."

And the rest of that familiar prayer from Matthew 6:9-13.

This is what I was thinking:

"You know, I have a lot of friends who wouldn't be following Christ right now if they'd been safe. I have a lot of friends who needed wake-up calls."

And it's true. I've even needed them before. I will pray that God keep my kids from temptation and delivers them from evil. I will pray it sincerely and with trust. But I don't know what that looks like for them.

I was realizing that maybe it's not enough to pray that God keeps my kids safe. I don't know if they'll need to be safe. They might need to be the opposite of safe, sometimes. This doesn't mean that I think God needs to stop watching them or just drop them out of His hands. I love God and I know He loves me and my family; I trust Him to never abandon us. But sometimes, the way He'll work in their lives might not look that safe to me or to them.

It might take a broken arm to respect natural consequences. That might keep them from a lot of even more stupid decisions in the future.

It might take a car wreck to think about what they're doing with their lives.

It might take a broken heart to realize how much they need Him.

So, while my children are babies, my plan is simple prayers. I have nothing against specific prayers for children. Sometimes, you know what you need to be praying for a child. Right now, I pray for good rest and relief from teething pain so they can sleep. I pray that they'll learn to walk without really cracking their heads open.

Ephesians 6:18 says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

I will do that for my children. For myself. For others.

But these general, "God keep my children safe all their lives" prayers? I'm done with those.

My mother-in-law is a lovely lady, full of wisdom and truly in love with the Lord. One of the first times I was visiting her house, we somehow got on the subject of the verse in Numbers 32:23, the one that says that your sins will find you out. In context, it's about some of the tribes of Israel keeping a vow they'd made to God, and what will happen if they fail to keep their word. But she said something about that truth that has stuck with me ever since. It was this:

"What a mercy that is!"

And I said, "Huh?"

And she said: "What a mercy it is that our sins find us out here and now, while we have time to repent!"

What a mercy.

My children are sinners. I cannot change this, no matter how much I would love for them to be innocent and pure and never have to wrestle with sin, to wrestle with the flesh and pain and sorrow and death. Sometimes, I will be there to find out and correct. I have, God-willing, years with them to train and teach and guide and discipline.

But someday, I will not be big enough. I will not be big enough physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Someday they will exceed my ability to reproach or heal. There may be times this happens while they are even still at home. It is not my job to teach them their limits in the natural world; nature will do that just fine, thanks. But beyond my ability, I am grateful that their sins will still find them out.

From Jeremiah 32:18-19:

"Great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.'"

God will reward my children according to their conduct. Great are His purposes for them! It is beyond my understanding of how they get to those purposes. And in the end, I want their conduct to honor Him. I so very much desire to see them following Christ wholeheartedly, in the joy that comes with submission to His will.

His will. Ay, there's the rub.

I don't know what that is for them exactly. I know they were created in His image, to honor and serve and worship Him. But I don't know exactly how they will do that. I don't know what desires He's planted and will plant in their hearts. I don't know how or when they might get off-track. But I know they probably will. I know I certainly did, more than once. And I know the day will come when they must choose who they will serve, just as I had to do.

And that's why, right now, my prayers for their future must be summed up in a single prayer, uttered with my whole soul:

"Thy will be done."

I would like to make it to the end of my time on earth without taking them to the ER, or visiting them in a hospital, or hearing them cry on the other end of the phone, or holding them close while they pull themselves together again.

But not at the cost of their salvation. Not at the price of their acceptance of our Savior.

It is not enough for me that my children are safe. I don't know what their eternal safety looks like. I must continually remind myself that my eyes are to be fixed on heaven and not on this temporary, short life on earth. Everything must be weighed against that goal.

I want to pray the will of God for my children. Sometimes, I know the Holy Spirit will tell me exactly what to pray or will pray it for me. But when I am just praying for them and their futures, I must put aside all my selfish desires for whole physical bodies, freedom from embarrassment or criticism, freedom from feeling like a failure as a parent, and pray a dangerous prayer.

It is a prayer that led martyrs to their graves. It is also a prayer that led quiet, peaceful people through quiet, peaceful lives during which they blessed others. It is a prayer that has led to a pastor's heartache, a missionary's struggles, an employee's ostracism in the workplace.

It is a prayer that has used a tragedy to draw a hardened heart to the cross, has used a devastating loss to humble the proud.

It is the prayer that led Christ to the cross.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done."

Even in these, my children.

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