He Says, She Says Saturday: For My Mother

To my shame, I do not nearly often enough pay tribute to my mother here. My mother-in-law got her own post once, and my step-mother’s had a glowing mention here and there, but for the most part, my mom only gets a playful shout-out once in a while. You all know that I depend on her and miss her a ton when I don’t get to spend time with her, but I’ve never really told you how much she means to me.

So I was thinking, what would mean the most to my mom this Mother’s Day? It is quite possible that what she desires more than anything else is a day off work (or a month), but I don’t have that kind of sway. Second to that, she might love for me to get my head out of the blogosphere for long enough to get some eBay listings done for her store. Just in case, I did that first.

Then I thought, hey, my mom loves a good laugh, and she thinks my kids are pretty much the best thing since… well, me, so maybe she’d enjoy this video, which has me laughing until my stomach hurts every time I watch it: (Click here if the video doesn’t work on your browser.)

(Subtitles: We going on a bear hunt. We gonna catch a big one. What a boo-ful day! We’re not scared. Uh-oh, a no storm (snow storm). We can’t go in it. Oh no! We have a go through it. <Odd sound effect that bears no resemblance to a snowstorm> Repeat ad infinitum.)

Then again, perhaps she would like a poem. Here is a haiku I wrote for a contest a month or so ago. It didn’t win, but you know moms: I’m sure she’ll like it anyway.

Oh, do you love me
As much as I love my girls?
I *so* get it now.

But in my heart of hearts, I already know what my mom needs most for Mother’s Day. She needs to know that she is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and it maybe wouldn’t hurt to tell her why.  So, in no particular order, here are ten things I love about my mom:

  • She can take an ugly lamp (or shirt, for that matter) and make it look so cool that it brings a whole room to life.
  • I asked her once what age she was when she started to feel like a grown-up, and she told me she’d let me know.
  • She is my greatest cheerleader.  She thinks I’m pretty, smart, hilariously funny and fantastically good at everything I turn my hand to.  Even though I know now that all moms think that about their kids, it still feels pretty great to have a fan.
  • She is absolutely the best person to have around for a crisis, such as having to clean my entire house in one day because my in-laws are coming to stay when I have just had a baby three weeks earlier.  There is no one in the world I would rather have a complete meltdown with.
  • She makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
  • She almost never comes to my house without bringing me coffee from WaWa and a little snickety-snack.
  • She owns her weaknesses and has taught me to do the same with mine.  (We are both endeavoring to improve in the whole thank-you-notes area.) Though we both certainly have our flaky moments, she manages to to rise to every new challenge she faces in work and in life with incredible grace and talent.  I am so proud of her.
  • She is real.  Not just with me but with every single person she encounters.
  • She makes lemonade.
  • She would do anything for my sister or me.  Or for my girls.  Or for anyone who needed something, come to think of it.
  • Finally (eh, who’s counting?), she is my comfy place.  I can be completely myself with her and she will always love me and even like me, most of the time, which is really saying something.  She always has something to give, even when she’s running on empty, and I always feel taken care of when I’m with her.

For all of these and so many more, thank you, Mom.  I love you.  Happy Mother’s Day!

(Don’t forget to hop on over and see what he says about his Mum today.)

He Says, She Says Saturday: My Favorite Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I discovered this verse, quite accidentally, when I was in my late tweens/early teens. It was the first time I can remember reading the Bible purely of my own accord, finding a verse that spoke to me, and committing it to memory. I wish I could say that it was the beginning of a lifelong habit for me, but, alas, it is yet another area in which God is still working on me.

By that age, I was just starting to realize that being a Christian is not the default in our world. Many grow up going to church or being exposed to Christian ideas and stories, but not so many truly understand this “message of the cross” of which Paul wrote here. I was beginnning to see differences in the choices my friends were making, including one who had begun to call herself an atheist. I was beginnning to see that living this life was going to mean being thought a fool, and this verse made it all make sense.

In this verse, I hear the Lord telling me that He knows how crazy the story of the cross will sound to those who have hardened their hearts, but it is never mine to decide who those people are. The message of the cross, of our complete justification through Christ’s death in our place, might sounds like madness to some, but the truth is, it is powerful to save those who will believe its simple truth. The very power of God is contained in a message that Christ empowers me and emboldens me to vocalize. Whether I will be thought a fool or not, this verse reminds me that it is entirely worth it to share this powerful message at every available opportunity.

Now fly over to his blog and check out his favorite verse!

He Says, She Says Saturday: Living in a Foreign Country

When Trevor blogged about Scotland a while back, I kicked myself that we hadn’t thought of it as an HSSSS topic.  Today when he suggested this as our topic du jour, I jumped at it as my chance to tell you about how Edinburgh became “my hometown.”  Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a long, bumpy ride!

Here is how Scotland happened.  It was my sophomore year of college. I was sitting in a required art history class watching slides of European architecture and feeling sorry for myself about a very unpleasant ex-boyfriend situation I had going on, when it hit me. I should study abroad! I went almost immediately to talk to my advisor about it and find out if it was even possible for a physics major to do that. He didn’t know. No one had ever tried. But he sent me to the study abroad advisor, and she gave me piles of information about universities in Scotland (and Australia, but they never stood a chance). I know now that these circumstances were entirely orchestrated by the Lord, because it was so out of character for me to pursue something that wasn’t the normal, expected thing for me to do.

I continued to push doors, and doors continued to swing wide open.  I recorded the whole process and all my to-do-lists in this little notebook because I was just that nerdy organized.
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And in October 1997, days before my 20th birthday, I arrived in Scotland and my life changed forever. My arrival was less than smooth. Having been told that my ATM card would be accepted there, I took only enough cash for my train fare to Edinburgh. It was a full week before I found the *one* ATM in Edinburgh that did accept my card. I only made it to my dorm room by the kindness of strangers who offered their help when they saw me standing teary-eyed, exhausted and terrified in King’s Cross Station in London.

When I got to my room, I cried and cried and drank tap water out of my hands from the sink in my room as though I had just walked across the desert to get there. (With one pound to my name for the forseeable future, I hadn’t wanted to squander it on a drink for the 6-hour train journey.) And I felt a profound sense that God was with me, that He had led me there, that He was bigger than the distance I was from home, and realer than He’d ever been to me before. I was peaceful, and so, so excited to see what was in store for me.

In spite of living on two meals a day in the cafeteria until my money situation was sorted out, I was in love. I immediately started compiling this list (unless you have really good eyes, you’ll probably want to click them.)
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Less than half way through what was supposed to be a ten-week term, I was on the phone to my advisor back home to find out if I could stay the year. Everything about this country had stolen my heart. The people, the accents, the smells, the cool damp air, the oldness…
Photobucket And all of that was before I even met this fellow: Photobucket (This was, of course, before he had his faithful built-in barber!)

Trevor and I didn’t become friends until about a month before I had to go home, and the story of our courtship and marriage is one for another post.  In September 2000, after two years back in the States and a few months in England while Trevor completed his internship, I returned to my favorite city in the world, this time as a young wife.  Working and keeping a home in Scotland opened my eyes to aspects of the culture I hadn’t really come across before.  I met real locals now, not just University students who mostly hailed from England or Northern Ireland.  Every day of going to a mind-numbingly boring temp job seemed like an adventure and a page out of a fairy tale.  In the six years I lived there, that feeling never completely wore off.

We moved out of the city centre in 2001, and found ourselves even deeper into “real” Edinburgh.  The more I came to know its people, the more I realized that underneath the accents and cultural nuances,  people were just people.  They had the same problems and temptations as people at home did. Our dear friends at church knew the same Lord and Savior that I knew, and loved Him probably even better.  It was home, and I could have stayed there forever.

The Lord did move us on, and I have never once regretted our decision to move to the States (though, I’ll admit, writing this out has made me more homesick for Scotland than I’ve ever been since moving back here.) Living abroad took me outside of myself. It showed me things about my own culture (who knew America had a culture?) that I would never have seen from home. It taught me that God is gracious and present wherever there are men for Him to bestow His grace on, and that His creation is so much more incredible and diverse than I ever knew. Oh, and I got to bring back some pretty incredible souvenirs, too.img_6303-2.JPG (Speaking of him, he says this.)

He Says, She Says Saturdays: Facial Hair

On men, that is.  If I ever have facial hair, that might warrant a blog post all its own!

This somewhat random topic comes to us courtesy of our friend Jeff, whom we had the pleasure of having over for dinner tonight.  Jeff does not have an active blog, but he ought to, and as an attempt to lure him into the blogosphere, I will give this little linky shout-out to his thoughts on beards on his badly neglected MySpace blog.  (Hey, maybe we should call it He Says, She Says, Jeff Says Saturday this week… our first guest speaker!)  Jeff’s beard looks like this, incidentally, or at least it did two years ago.  I don’t think it is much different now, but I am not a facial hair expert, as you are about to find out.
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This is, to my knowledge, the most facial hair my husband has ever had:

Photobucket (Right before shaving it off.)
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(Just an excuse to show off a picture of 6-month-old Romilly – wasn’t she sweet?)

He stopped shaving when he left his job in Scotland and didn’t shave again until his first interview in America.  I think it was basically just an experiment to see if he could grow a beard.  It was a fun experiment, but I can’t say I was sad to see it go.  I don’t mind the look of a nicely trimmed beard (Orlando  as opposed to bearded Jack) facial-hair-orlando-bloom-400a010907.jpg jack-beard-715965.jpg but I don’t want it on my husby.  They’re just no fun to cuddle.  I didn’t mind Trevor’s beard when he had it, but I am not a huge fan of the stubbliness it took to get there (or, indeed, of the stubbliness that always seems to accumulate between shaves for him.)  I guess I just like his face too much to see (or feel) it obscured in any way.

Hopefully he will have something more interesting to say on the topic than I did sometime in the near future, but in the meantime, I have an important task for you, my faithful and devoted readers: Please, oh please, fill up my comment box with some ideas for what on earth we can blog about on Saturdays! We had intended this to be a much more… well, interesting endeavor than it has been, and we seem to have fallen into a rut of writing about whatever we happen to be up to on that particular weekend. I know we can do better. So, unless you want to read drivel like this again next weekend, get thinking! (Hey, at least you got some nice pictures today, right?)

He Says, She Says Saturdays: Let’s Go To the Movies

Watch me!

I should start with a confession: when I was little, I used to put on my curly red Annie wig and scrub my mom’s kitchen floor while singing “It’s the Hard Knock Life”. Annie was once my *favorite* movie, so tracking down this clip on YouTube made me just a little bit giddy. I will also admit that going to the movies nowadays is every bit as much of an event for me as it would have been for little orphan Annie during the depression (okay, almost).

It doesn’t happen often that we find someone who wants to watch all three of our little ones for the evening and we can justify spending the ridiculous fortune it costs to go to the movies now, but last night was one such night.  Thanks to a very well-planned Christmas present from Mary and Duncan, we had babysitters for an evening and managed to do the whole cinematic shebang (including popcorn, soda, and skittles) for $0.75 in total.  It was quite possibly one of our best date nights ever.  We saw The Other Boleyn Girl, and both really enjoyed it.  It sparked a long-dormant (wait, dormant implies that it was there once, which is not quite right…) interest in history for me, and was also fascinating to Trevor, who already knew the history of Henry VIII’s wives so well that halfway through the movie he leaned over and whispered to me, “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, lived” (apparently this is something that every good English boy knows???).  We will forgive him if part of the initial draw to this movie was its connection to our favorite (or at least most-viewed) movie of all time, Where the Heart Is.

popcorn.jpegAs I was saying, getting to the movies is a very big deal for me. In spite of there being times in my life when I went much more often than my current rate of, oh, once every six months, I think it has always been a big deal to me.   I enjoy the whole experience: the previews, the popcorn (mmm… especially the popcorn, the more butter the better), the grandness of it all.

What’s more, for better or for worse, I really do enjoy the movies themselves.  I find myself increasingly particular about what I want to have passing before my eyes (and ears) as I get older, and proportionately disturbed by what passes as appropriate viewing for a 13-year-old.  Juno springs to mind here.  I took my sister to see it a couple months ago, and although I appreciate that some aspects of the message were good… why, oh, why with the language?  (It didn’t bother Paige so much.  I rest my case.)

In spite of all that, I love how movies give me insight into the human condition and experience, good and bad.  They give me glimpses of the how the unredeemed mind sees the world, and of how deceptive my own heart can be.  They give me a sense of kinship with all mankind,  one place in the world or period in history at a time, one quirky personality type or unseen subculture at a time.  They cause me to marvel at the talents and beauty God has built into human beings, and sometimes at what poor stewards we can be of such gifts. And as I shake off that post-movie fog like waking up from a very real dream, I am always thankful that the truth is still what the Truth is, and not what Hollywood paints it to be.

Don’t forget to check out what he says here.

He Says, She Says Saturday: Easter

For obvious reasons, our topic du jour is Easter.  Why not see what he says first for a change?  Go ahead.  I’ll still be here.

Oh, you’re back already?  Okay, let’s get started then.

Easter, like most holidays, was a pretty big to-do in my home growing up.  Lots of this sort of thing.
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And indeed, there is still a healthy dose of family tradition in our Easter festivities now. Today we were at Grandmom’s for egg-dying, with Mary, of course, who has has come every year for a very long time (even some years when I couldn’t make it to the festivities while I was in Scotland).
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(Congratulations, Paigie, on your first appearance on my blog!)

I was pleasantly surprised this morning at the effort that was made at our church’s children’s Easter party to keep the focus where it should be.  Sure, there were some eggs, and there was some candy, but there was also a lesson about the resurrection, as well as this craft.
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We have tried to read the resurrection story to the girls in as many different children’s Bibles as we could over the past few days, but I daresay the meaning of this holiday has still been somewhat eclipsed by Easter egg hunts and jelly beans in the girls’ impressionable young minds. Next year, I think we will have to try something different. Maybe something like this idea Amanda had of having a separate springy party a bit before Easter.

Just so the point is not missed here, this is what Easter is all about.

Luke 24:1 – 12

the_empty_tomb001.jpgBut on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. 

I chose Luke’s account because I could really relate to the apostles when they first heard this story. Isn’t that just what it is to us now if we let it become that? A story? An “idle tale” that we pull out once a year in the name of tradition?

Thank God for Peter, who immediately knew that it wasn’t just a story. That if it was true it was the most important event ever to have taken place on this earth. God Himself came to earth, lived a spotless, perfect life, and was killed by sinful man. In doing so He somehow, by God’s incredible grace, bore the weight of my sin, and died the death that I should have died as the penalty for my sin against God, so that I could receive what only He could deserve: an eternity to enjoy God and His Heaven.  And Christ proved every claim He made when He rose from the dead.

Would I have been like Peter and run for that tomb already rejoicing in my heart for what I knew I would find there? Maybe not. It might have sounded like an idle tale to me, too.  But by God’s grace, I know that it is not just a story, and as we remember the resurrection especially tomorrow, I pray that God will impress on my heart the weight of what was accomplished on the cross that day long ago.

He Says, She Says Saturdays: Why I Blog

normal_ink-quill.jpgAs I write this, my poor sweetie has been in bed for the better part for the last 18 hours, so I’m not at all sure we’ll be hearing from him today, but I’ve taken the liberty of choosing what I thought would be a pretty easy topic for us to address, even with a slightly foggy brain.

*         *          *         *          *

As I write this, it is now Monday morning, Trevor is back on his feet and at work (he’s such a trouper!), and a power failure on Saturday night combined with a super-busy Sunday kept either of us from doing any blogging this weekend.

On to the topic at hand.  I guess I’ve already touched on this a bit here and there.  We’ve had a website since Pippa was born that has primarily showcased photos, but has also served as a record for us of what we did when, what the girls were doing at different ages, and what life was like for us at any given time.  Once Pippa started talking, I began to feel that photos just weren’t capturing her enough, I needed somewhere to write.  A lot.  My technological whiz of a husband set this blog up for me, I had no sooner written my first post then I discovered Romilly was hot on Pippa’s heels in the talking department.   In the process of writing my second post, I ran into some technical glitches that ended up keeping me quietly frustrated with blogdom for the next several months.

During that little hiatus, in addition to having a baby and enduring what felt like an eternity without a well-functioning computer, I spent some time seeing what some other people were using their blogs for. I began to see the appeal again, and Trevor and I had several conversations that went something like this:

Me:  I think I really want a blog.

Him: You already have a blog.

Me:  Oh.

I think what  I was trying to express, albeit in very  simple terms, was that I wanted  (a) a pretty blog, (b) a blog that I knew how to add pictures to and that wouldn’t (just occasionally, on a whim) put an entire paragraph into one enormously long straight line (anyone else have this issue with WordPress???), and (c) a blog with a bit more purpose, that would be worthy of spending my time on.

So here I am now.  I guess that was more of a history than  a reason.  Probably there are some posts that don’t fulfill any of these purposes, but here is why I blog now:

  •  To remember.  As I said in my very first post, I don’t ever want to forget this sweet sweet time in my life, or the way my girls are right now.  I know I can’t hold onto it forever, but I also know one day I will cherish the moments I record here.
  • To celebrate.  Something about turning a thought, conversation, or event into a blog post somehow makes it bigger and more significant.  Blogging makes me notice the little things that make life wonderful and thank God for them, and even the ones I never get around to turning into posts are more note-worthy for my having that mindset.
  • To think deeply.  A mom of three little ones doesn’t often have the mental energy, the time, or the brain cells to think deeply about life, but blogging forces me to make the effort.  In the process, I can (sometimes, hopefully) turn my thoughts upward and see how God is present and working in my life.  There is so much real meaning hiding behind the apparently mundane tasks of a wife and mother, and I don’t want to miss that while I’m caught up in the middle of it all.

I wonder why he blogs…

He Says, She Says Saturday: Birthdays!

I am happy to introduce to you what I hope will become a regular, if not weekly, feature on my blog. Since my sweet husby and I are now partners in crime in this adventure called blogging , we thought it would be fun, just once a week, to try to find a neutral topic that we can both tackle. I’m not really sure what our goal is: maybe it’s a study in how the male and female minds approach a subject, maybe it will help you understand us better and us understand each other better, maybe it will just mean that we’re forced to update our blogs at least once a week. Whatever the reason, today, I will take a break from babies and Bible studies and he will take a break from gardening and politics and we will meet somewhere in the middle to pontificate  separately together the topic of…

Birthdays!

This is a timely topic, since today is (one day later than usual, on account of Leap Year) Trevor’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Love! A birthday is a real cause for celebration, I think. Of course, when you’re little, the date of your birthday is the most magical date of all, filled with promise and excitement. I remember enjoying everything I did on my birthday as a child, even if half of the day was spent at school. I would smile every time I wrote the date on my paper (and usually had to stop myself from completing the date with “77” regardless of what the current year was). It was truly a red-letter day.

But then again, my birthday was always met with quite a bit of fanfare. I was an only child until I was fifteen, so most years, I had two birthday parties: one for family and a slumber party for friends. The latter was made paricularly spectacular by my Aunt June (Junie) who would come armed with homemade games and fabulous prizes (well, you know, a smurf figurine was pretty fabulous when you were eight) that had us absolutely giddy with laughter by the time the grown-ups turned in and left us to our own devices. We got very little sleep, , and great friendships were forged.
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(I believe this was my 11th.  Can you tell I have an October birthday? I’m in the middle.  The crazy girl next to me holding the pumpkin on her head is Mary, who has now been my best friends for 25 years. Junie is, as usual, the one behind the camera.  The two sisters on the far left now are now both happily married and have *seven* kids between them!)

On September 6, 2004, I gave birth to my first daughter and discovered what birthdays are *really* all about. Six weeks later, when my own birthday rolled around again, I discovered that my own birthday would never involve much fanfare again, and that that was okay.   Celebrating the girls’ birthdays is such a joy to me because I can look back and remember the time before their birth.  (Was there ever not a Pippa, a Romilly, a Beatrix in the world???)  I can remember the anticipation and the incredible joy of their arrivals, and I can thank God for letting me have them in my life for another year.

I am learning though, that children’s birthday parties are somewhat less enjoyable than I remember them being when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved all five birthday parties we’ve had for the girls so far, but the ones I’ve been in charge of have been hard work! Pippa’s first was the only one we had while we lived in Scotland, and therefore away from family, so I braved my first and only all-the-little-rugrat-friends-and-their-mommies party.
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While it was a wonderful blessing to be surrounded by friends who felt like family, the dominant sentiments of the day were: 1. Why is it so crazy hot in here in September in Scotland? 2. Where did all these babies come from? Did I really invite *thirteen* babies into my home at the same time?!?  I think we might wait a while before doing the “friends” party thing again.

Today’s festivities were modest at best, and I daresay the birthday boy would have liked them better even more modest.  This was the scene at my mom’s house this afternoon.
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We did get to spend last night at the lovely Joseph Ambler Inn where we also spent our wedding night (compliments of Junie both times – thank you so much!).  Next year is a rather bigger number that ends with a zero for him, so who knows what he may be in for then! (The same one just passed for me, and I got off pretty lightly with a smallish “surprise” gathering at my mom’s house.) Pippa also helped make him this:
Photobucket I’m not sure it will ever be seen in public, but perhaps it will be fun to wear under a sweater (close to his heart) and just know that he’s loved.  Hope it was a good one!

Now, go see what he says about it here.  Go, go, go!