Thee Angel Project

A year of writing a little bit of everything. Writers Write, Right?


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for the love

Every year. Every. Single. Year.

This is serious stuff. Serious enough for me to navigate the changes in WordPress and actually write a post.

Every single year they are on the store shelves, and each year they drive me a little more crazy. Just ask my husband. I rant about this every year. Not because they are inherently bad, but I think the idea behind them just makes me squirm a little. I think it’s about the ease of it all. The not needing to think or plan or anticipate. The idea that all children need is big and glittery and a little sugary, oh and also breakable, and in no way shape or form lasting.

For the love of all that is good and right and yes, salutary…
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy your children cellophane wrapped Easter baskets this year!

Buy eggs, buy a little treat. Buy a game to play with them and a book to read with them. Buy them a new outfit. Write them a poem. Hide their basket and help them search for it.

Leave their basket empty as a reminder of the empty tomb and DO this instead. Seriously, do it!

You have six days. Mom, Dad, you can do better.

 

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i’m a better mom when…

I’m not so consumed with this place. It’s true. I fought it for a long time, but the fact is that I cannot do all of the things I want to do and do them well. Something’s got to give and because I am too anal (sorry, there is no better word) when it comes to writing, this is it.

My children will argue and make masterpieces and say all manner of things hilarious and grow by leaps and bounds and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss it.

So that’s where I’ve been these past couple weeks, knee deep in the masterpieces, and to be honest, it’s been really great. I’ll give you the quick highlights and then let you get back to your own children, because if you’re not careful, you’ll miss it too.

The boy turned 14 and seemingly grew from a child to a man overnight. Well, maybe a man in training. I just keep thinking, I have four more years with him. Four. That’s it. Oh, I’ll still show up in his dorm room and on his doorstep and be his number one stalker, but all of him is mine for only four more years. It’s not long enough and yet the anticipation of the man he is becoming is a bit intoxicating. It’s gonna be good.

Just yesterday we welcomed some dear friends back into the area. They are Oldest Middle’s godparents and to say she is thrilled might be a bit of an understatement.

Haiti. We bought our tickets! We’re going back and I. Cannot. Wait. We get to take my dad with us this time as well as a dear couple from our first church family. I’ve been looking back through my notes and blog posts and packing lists from our first trip and my heart is all aflutter with the joy and heartache and love that I know is coming.

We’re praying for all manner of things here. For friends with a difficult diagnosis, more than one. That might be one of the hardest things about moving away, not being there to bring meals or give hugs or share knowing glances or just be. Thankfully we left those that we love in some pretty capable hands. God’s hands and feet are at work and it is a joy to watch from afar.

Where Two or Three are Gathered has been a casualty of these last few weeks I’m afraid. I have been checking in occasionally, but haven’t done much commenting and cheering you on and for that I apologize. I will admit that the amount of time and energy it took to grow the group, only to have it just be a few of us, was a little frustrating. That wasn’t fair to this last month’s participants though. I have enjoyed reading your work and will continue to do so. I’m throwing a month 4 link up out there…just because.

 

The rest of our time recently has been consumed with snakes in our home…yep, that noun right there is plural…there were two…I’m so sorry! (Friends, please still come visit us!) :), Bible study (Love!), and trying to make sure the eight month old doesn’t eat anything she shouldn’t while trying to get her to eat something she actually should. She did open her mouth twice for some green beans yesterday. It’s progress. I’ll take it. Considering Haiti is only four months away though and she’s not coming with us…we’ve got some work to do…little stinker.

This is the day that the Lord has made! Now go, rejoice, and be glad!

We’ll talk again soon.

 


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the 12 seconds i can’t get back

A car fire rages in the background. Her body slumps over the engine of her own broken down pick-up. She turns around revealing her shredded jeans and bloodied legs. The camera scans upward to show her matted hair, her blood stained shirt, and her gray and broken skin. Without warning, there is a yellow explosion on her head and the camera sets its sights on the junior army rangers who have just scored their first kill in this year’s zombie hunt.

the 12 seconds i can't get back

This is the scene my eight year old daughter plays over and over in her head. (I’ll warn you, before you click on the link, my description doesn’t do it justice. It’s quite disturbing.) It renders her frozen in fear and strapped to my neck as she recounts the previous day’s nightmare.

12 seconds. That’s all it took to leave an impression. It is this same 12 seconds that will no doubt be shown dozens of times between today and October 31st, a mere 36 days from today. Ugh. I didn’t take her to any theater and she’s never been on a zombie hunt. She didn’t read about it in a book or see it on Netflix. All she did was sit with me while I watched the morning news. Morning. News. You know, the program shown from 7 to 9 am…in the morning.

First I was averting my eyes and grappling with the discomfort (no pun intended) of sitting in a room with my teenage son as the Osphena women spoke of vaginal dryness while seducing the camera. Now this.

I can’t imagine that the Osphena commercial plays to the same demographic as the zombie killing one. (Perhaps it does.) Morning show advertising must be on sale this month.

Here’s the irony, at the close of every morning news program, our local CBS affiliate, the very same one that has sold airtime for this nightmare inducing graphic display, airs a segment called Moms Everyday. This is a national organization geared toward providing moms with the tools to take better care of themselves and their families. Can anyone say, Oxymoron?

Although the commercial on my local network puts knots in my stomach, I don’t much care that it exists. Ok, I care a little bit, but I don’t plan on doing any zombie hunting of my own any time soon, so normally I could just ignore it. I do care though that it is shown at 8:00 am. I do care that I have to be vigilant about remaining in the livingroom, even though my other children are rising and needing help with breakfast, just so I can be sure to distract my eight year old, should the zombies surface again.

Yes, I could turn off the television. Yes, I could watch a different morning news program (although I doubt I would find the advertising to be much different.) But, here’s the thing, why should I have to?

Is there no time in my day that I can let down my guard, even a little? Is there no point at which I can turn on the television and not worry that a random 12 seconds is going to keep my children up countless nights? Is there no criteria by which we, as society, check ourselves on the idiot scale? Is there no time at which we look at what we’ve done and realize we’ve sold our souls and the souls of our children and are taken aback? Is there no limit to what we will allow our children to see?

I’ll be writing my local station. I’ll be making contact with Moms Everyday. And, while I might just be fighting a losing battle, I’ll be fighting. Care to join me? Watch carefully. I would imagine you’ll see a similar scene on your television sometime in the next 36 days.


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how we’re doing

I had a lovely friend ask me yesterday how we’re doing. If you were with me throughout our last weeks in Kansas, through all of the madness, through the baby having and baptizing, and holy week surviving, and house hunting, and box packing, and goodbye saying, you would know, it’s a good question.

Our women’s Bible study at church began a couple weeks ago. It’s a bit like an oasis in a desert. Just a taste of the things to come. I forgot how long it takes to get to know people in a new environment, and how crucial all of those “in addition to Sunday morning” activities can be when getting to know a new church family. I am looking forward to that day when instead of being in an oasis, I’m on an island surrounded by all of the knowledge and love and joy in this journey I can possibly take in. I know it’s coming. I can feel it.

Walking into the sanctuary of our new home is beginning to actually feel like home. I know where the silverware is kept and the paper cutter too. I have yet to take on the dishwasher or the sound system in the fellowship hall, but those both feel like second half of the first year kind of things.

Seth has been crazy busy getting to know our new families and I am keeping up…eh, no I’m not. I’ll get there eventually. It hasn’t been until this week, yesterday in fact, that I can see a light at the end of this tunnel of our unscheduled madness. Usually I am a roll with the punches kind of girl, but with my family being in three, sometimes four, sometimes five separate places on any given day, I find myself often fumbling around for a sense of familiarity. This has been the case though for the past…well, since February. We’re all just trying not to drop any proverbial balls. So far…so good…I think.

School for the bigs is going well. A funny thing happened on the way back into the classroom setting though. I learned that I really no longer care about grades. Really, at all. I used to think of them as a good measure of how my children were doing in school, but have since learned, through the learning of my children themselves, that they are really only a fraction of the story of their days. I’m not upset about F’s and I’m not enamored by A’s. If they’re learning the material and are enjoying their days, I could care less about the rest. The boy left his homework folder at home today, so all of today’s work will be late. Neither Seth, nor I, am running it back to him. He’ll learn. We’ll see if that new found, “meh,” attitude sticks. I hope it does.

Built on the Rock is back in session too and this week we added some preschool-ish type activities to our days. Trying to get Youngest Daughter to cooperate with some sort of schedule is impossible with the rest of us fumbling about. It’s like the chicken and the egg thing. I can’t keep my students on schedule without the baby’s day being consistent…and the opposite is also true. We’re trying to also fit in times for Seth and I to work out a few times a week, a much needed aspect of our days for health and sanity as well. Once we get that figured out, I can hopefully squeeze in some reading and daily personal devotion time as well. You would think finding an extra thirty minutes in the day and the energy to do something that requires attentive brain cells, would be easy. I’m working on it. We’re almost there.

Thank you for asking, dear friend. Thank you.

 


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what i loved, laughed, and learned today

What I loved today…
Watching my son run cross country. Really, everything about it. The course, the drizzling rain, the fact that he was all muddy afterwards, that he never stopped to walk and was thrilled about it, the running back and forth to see him as much as possible, his kick at the end.
The cookies I made for our volleyball tournament this weekend. Sooo delicious!
Oldest Daughter’s attitude about homework. She didn’t come home with a ton, but it was enough that it could have proven frustrating. She took it in stride. That’s my girl.
10,000 steps! This hardly ever happens during the week!
Oldest Daughter quoting the fourth commandment along with its meaning because she thought that I would love that she knew it. I do.
Reading “The Mixed Up Files…” with Oldest Middle and coming upon the end of the chapter unexpectedly. We wanted more!
My six, soon to be seven month old. Have you smelled baby cheeks lately? Head to toe she is just remarkable (even if she never, ever, ever sleeps through the night.)

What made me laugh today…
Youngest Middle in her black long-sleeve sparkly shirt underneath her brown tank top sparkly shirt, paired with red pants that were so last year she can now wear them as capris (can, but perhaps should not,) and yellow and pink crocs.

What I learned today…
You can get crayon out of a battery operated pencil sharpener by melting it out, but that will render said sharpener useless.
Refrigerating cookie dough makes for fluffy chewy cookies as opposed to flat-stanley ones.
I think I might actually like doing the dishes. I know! I am as shocked as you are! Laundry is still a big fat no because there truly is no end to that, but dishes? I had maybe a whole 30 minutes today where every dish in the house was clean. It was bliss I tell you.
Sometimes the graded papers your son hands you at the end of the day he really does need back. Oops.

What did you love, laugh, learn today?


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it feels good to be here

This past weekend we were privileged to be invited to the wedding of a beautiful young woman who Seth had the honor of confirming just yesterday…or so it seems. I remember thinking during the whole cutting of the cake ceremony and the obligatory (although you don’t ever see the bride and groom protest) smooching, “How can she possibly be old enough to kiss a boy?” I do not know. I do know though that she was stunning and happy and all of the things a new bride should be.

We were only in our old stomping grounds for two days but tried with all our might to cram everything we possibly could into that time. I could narrate the whole weekend for you, but how about a few highlights instead?

Our lovely young at heart German neighbor upon hearing we were going to be in the area, baked some “healthy” oatmeal cookies for us just in case we stopped by. We did and enjoyed much too short a visit that included seeing how my girls’ adopted of the heart kittens have grown and of course a few rides on the zip line.

Oldest daughter had a chance to spend the night with a friend from our home school group. They went to the rodeo, milked the cows, and exchanged diaries until the next time they see one another. These two could be sisters. I love my children’s friends. Truly.

Our son got to swim with some of his own friends from our home school group. It was too short of a time, but I’m not sure that an entire weekend would have been enough for him.

I got to see my Haiti friend and talk Haiti children and adoption and anticipation with her. If you were praying with us for these children, know this, there are still a couple of them who are feeling the effects of the virus, and Josie is still really hurting. God is choosing to say, “Yes” to some and, “Wait” to others. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers!

We had lunch at a friend’s house. It’s always a joy to sit and relax and just be comfortable with God’s gift of friendship.

We got to worship with our first congregation. It was so good to see everyone and it was only a little weird. We left. It was God’s call, but we did have a choice, so it’s bound to be a tough transition and a shift in relationships for us all. We were once again loved upon and it made me all the more anxious to see who their new pastor will be, who they will get to love all over next. They are really good at it. They are just beginning the call process, but we are praying fervently for them and for whomever God is preparing for them. I’m so excited for them both.

As we were sitting, having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants before getting dressed for the wedding, Oldest Middle looked at me and said, “Mom, it feels good to be here.”

Wise beyond her years, she was right.

It was indeed good to be there.


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ticket to ride

This is our new favorite game, and despite the fact that I end up singing that Beatles song in my head every time I think about it and get frustrated because I only know the chorus and none of the verses, it’s totally worth it. And also, despite the fact that I have never ever won and my husband always, always does, it’s totally worth it.

DSCF7642

This is not a promotion and there is no way I’m being paid a cent to say this, but if the makers of the game wanted to send me the original America version, I wouldn’t send it back.

Ticket to Ride has about a hundred rules and it took us for-ev-er to figure it out the very first time we played. Now we are experts though, and it is quite delightful. It is for ages 8 and up, but our littles can even play a simplified version where they just match the colors to make trains.

On this particular day I tried a new strategy and completely stunk up the place, but…totally worth it. Plus, my husband only won by one point. A strategical error by his brother cost him the game. We’ll have to play with Brother more often. Husband’s luck has got to run out at some point, right?

Now, if I could only stop singing the song.


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how to talk with your girl about being a girl

This is a mom post. Any and all boys should click away now…unless you’re a single dad, then, please stay. Don’t worry, the rest of you can come back tomorrow.

The oldest girl child in my house was starting to ask some tough questions. Actually, the questions weren’t tough, but me getting up the guts enough to answer honestly…and aloud, well, that’s another story. But alas, she was ready, and even if I wasn’t, it was time for me to put on my big girl underwear and fake it.
I invited some back-up, two of her aunts, to join me. (Thank You, Ladies! I am indebted to you for your wisdom and for the love that you show my girls, not just today, but everyday!) We went in armed with a basket full of all things essential for a pre-teen girl, as we tackled the issues together.

girl talk

Seated at our kitchen table with iced coffees and Oreos ready to be consumed, this is about how our conversation went…

“God,” I said, “is starting to get your body ready to be a mom. Now, this is not something that’s going to happen overnight. It is a process that will take years, and a husband, to complete. Your aunts and I have bought you some gifts in order to get you ready for all that being a girl turning into a woman entails.”

We slowly pulled things out of our gift basket one at a time. She had been asking a lot about breasts. Not surprising since I am currently nursing her littlest sister. So, we started there.

Bras “I bought you a couple bras. You know that as you grow, your breast will start to get bigger, so that when you’re a mom, you can nurse your babies.”

Paper and Pencil *Moms, feel free to put your drawing skills to the test here. “The other main part of your body that God is going to be getting ready is your uterus. You know that when I was pregnant with your sister I didn’t actually eat her, right? She wasn’t ever in my stomach, although that’s what people sometimes say. Instead, she was inside another part of my belly called my uterus. Your body has a uterine home for babies too. When littlest sis was inside growing, she was surrounded with watery fluid and her belly button was attached to something called a placenta that was attached to the wall of my uterus. That wall is lined with blood, the same kind of blood that is in all of the other parts of your body. Now that God is growing your body, sometime in the next couple years though you’re going to go to the bathroom and you are going to notice that there’s a little bit of this blood on your underwear. It’s okay. It’s supposed to happen. This is what’s going on; every day your body works on getting your uterus ready to be a nice home for a baby. Babies need nice new homes to live in though. So, when your body builds a lining on the wall of you uterus, and you don’t become pregnant, because you’re not married, your body needs to get rid of the lining so it can start to work on another nice new lining, that won’t be used, because you won’t become pregnant, because you’re not married, so your body will need to get rid of that one too. This will happen over and over and over again, about once a month, until one day when you are married, God may prayerfully decide it’s time to craft a wonderfully made baby to use that lining in your comfy uterine home.”

Pads and Tampons “Now, the amount of blood will sometimes look like a lot, but in reality it’s only about two or three tablespoons worth that comes out over about 4 or 5 days. You’ll use these for now to help keep yourself clean.” (Show her how to place the pad.) “I’m giving you pads for now, when you’re older and playing sports or you want to go swimming I’ll teach you how to use the tampons. You’re not old enough for those yet.” *Moms, knowing how to use tampons would have saved me a lot of worry while playing high school sports. Teach your girl when she is ready though and only if you are as certain as you can be that she will come to you if she loses one. You may decide to wait until after her first gynecological exam so that she is a little more comfortable with her physician (yeah, I know, when are you ever comfortable in that position?) if she does have a problem.

A Cute Little Zippered Bag “I want you to keep a couple of your pads in this bag and just leave it in your backpack. That way, when your period starts you can be ready and this will help you be discreet as you take them with you to the bathroom.”

Chocolate Bars “Sometimes when you begin your period, your body feels like you are starving. You’ll want to eat more, and while it’s important to eat healthy, lots of fruits and vegetables, it’s okay to have a little extra treat every now and then.”

Rice Bag or Midol “As your body gets ready for your period each month, you may be a little achy too. You can heat up the rice bag and put it on your belly. If you get too uncomfortable though, make sure you let me know and we can talk about trying some pain relief or some other things like exercise to help you feel better.” *Moms, if you purchase Midol or any type of medicine for your daughter, I would recommend keeping it in your possession so you can discuss the need for it and make certain it is administered safely and correctly.

“How You Are Changing” Book “This is your book, but I’m going to hold onto it. I want to read it with you at various times throughout the next couple years. *Moms, I love this book, but my ten year old is not ready to just dive in unaccompanied. I will introduce her to the various topics when I feel she’s ready. Plus, I can say uterus and period aloud to my daughter, but I’m not quite there with the word erection. This is a process. I’m growing too.

“The Care and Keeping of You 1” Book “This is your book to keep with you. It talks all about all of the parts of your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, and tells you how to care for them. As you read through it, if you have any questions, be sure to let me know and we can talk about it together.” *Moms, this is an AWESOME book! I will be ordering volume 2 so that I can read through it and be ready for coming stages.

Deodorant “When you get to be a growing girl, your body will start to sweat more, especially when you exercise. This will help keep your body smelling fresh and clean. You can use this at home each morning, and we’ll put a smaller one in your zippered bag for use at school.”

When we first began our talk and specifically when we mentioned bleeding, I thought she was going to pass out, poor girl. But, by the time we were finished she had tried on her bra, was asking questions, and drawing her own pictures complete with the use of correct terminology. We were able to take a short walk later in the evening and she could barely contain her excitement over all that she had learned. She asked more questions and talked and talked and talked about how excited she was and how much fun she had. She even offered to talk with her brother about girls so that he wouldn’t have to learn it from his bride. (We’ll see how that goes.) She could barely contain herself when we talked about her little sisters too. She wanted to tell them everything she learned at that very moment.

I pray that our time together opened the doors for conversations about all manner of things for her good and to her Creator’s glory! Your girl is a seriously amazing creation. Tell her so.


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sometimes…

worship and Bible study (the pastor didn’t preach on either of the lessons I would have chosen for him to study…guess that’s just one of a million reasons why it’s not my job)

a surprise visit from my four year old’s godfather

lunch with said godfather and some other notables

home to blanch peaches (yes, that’s a thing and I now know how to do it!) and make a delicious dessert

guests for dinner

easy conversation

baby to sleep

a little, house m.d.

sometimes there’s not enough time to write because there’s just too much living to do

 


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ten things you must do this summer

1. Put an extra two dollars in your vehicle. Hide it in a spot where you won’t be tempted to spend it on something else. This is your lemonade money.

We recently moved into town, so one of the very first things my daughters wanted to do this summer was host a lemonade stand. My oldest spent hours planning designs for the stand and crafting a sign and baking cookies to serve along side the lemony deliciousness. Now, our children do not want for a thing, so one of the rules we put in place was that they would donate a good portion of their sales to a local crisis pregnancy center.

They set up their stand at 9:00 and very quickly had a sale with a nice donation to their cause. Then, they waited…and waited…and waited. They watched and waived as cars went by and…nothing. It was heart-breaking to watch and while they did have a pretty good time with the very few customers they got to serve, watching cars pass by all day without giving the girls a second thought was tough. They came back inside with a jug full of lemonade and containers full of cookies. And, let’s face it, that kind of stuff sitting around my house is not good for anyone.

This summer you must, must, must, stop at every lemonade stand you see.

lemonade summer

2. Take your children to visit their grandparents. I grew up living in the same town as my grandparents. I didn’t know what a blessing that was until I had children. Start packing now.

3. Teach them to play cards. It’s cheap. It’s easy. You can play anywhere. This skill will prepare them well for dorm life in college, (more importantly, so will the conversations you have while you play.)

4. Give them cousin time. Lots of it. As much as you can. These are the friends that will stand by them through moves and awkward stages, through thick and thin. Foster those relationships from the moment they’re born.

5. Let them get dirty. I once let my children swim in the ditch in the pouring rain in their church clothes. Now, I wouldn’t let them cover themselves with mud every day, but once in a while? Certainly! Clothes wash.

6. Feed them ice cream and sno cones. Because when they get one, you do too.

7. Read to them. Please. Scroll down the list of Newberry Award winners and just pick one. Get on Pinterest and search “books for 3rd graders” or “chapter books for girls.” Read whatever you loved as a child. Just read.

8. Paint something. Go to a garage sale and find something cheap and made of wood. Choose a crazy color of paint. Sand it down and paint it together.

9. Plant something. Buy a 10 cent package of seeds and mark out a place in the garden for little hands to work. When they forget to water their plants and they all die, buy another package of seeds and go at it again.

10. Be kind. Do something for your neighbor’s good. Every day. It doesn’t have to be anything big and it doesn’t have to cost a thing. There need not be any planning either. Pick up twigs in someone’s yard after a storm. Take your neighbor a piece of the cake you shared at supper. Be the house where the neighborhood kids can play and the parents know they will be safe. Take someone’s cart back into the grocery store. Help them load their bags into their car. Find something to do today.

And finally, a little extra must do…Let them be bored. Resist the temptation to solve all of their problems or to fill each moment of the day with activity. Out of the depths of boredom comes splendid creativity.

Happy Summer!