Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Tent (Like The Shack, But Completely Different)

There I was. Minding my own business on the shelves of the Wal-Mart. It was a pretty good life...making fun of the wimpy, tiny tents, chatting with the sleeping bags... I wasn't overly anxious that anyone would buy me and put me to my intended use, although I suppose I always knew it would happen someday...

Then last Tuesday it happened. This family walked up and picked me up and put me into their cart. No more shelf life for me! I should have been wary right away...there were not one, not two, but THREE little kids in this family. After paying for me at the register, the family took me to their vehicle. Again, a clue to my future demise. The vehicle was hitched to a boat and crammed full of...everything! I spent the next hour stuffed under some kid's legs. I learned the mother's name was "Beth" and the father's was "Frank." I think the kids were named "Stop that," "I said stop," and "Quit, NOW!"

We then arrived at the campsite. The mother disappeared supposedly to buy groceries and the father rescued me from the incessant kicking of generic crock-shod feet. At last...I was to complete my destiny as a useful tent! But things started to go all wrong. I don't think the father read the directions at all! He didn't put all my stakes in. He left the rain fly off, leaving me feeling a little naked... But when all was said and done, I was a useful tent in a campsite for all to see. I was being used the very day I was purchased, which is much better than a life in a basement or garage as I've heard from other tents. Things started to improve. I watched as my family (I considered them mine, now.) played at their campsite and cooked dinner and sang songs around the campfire. Life was good. The mother and father put the little ones to bed, and I was pleasantly surprised that they went to sleep without too much poking and prodding of my sides.

Then it started to rain. At first it was a refreshing sprinkle against my nylon sides. The father and mother hurried to put the rain fly on (incorrectly, I might add, although to their credit it WAS in the dark...). They sought shelter inside as the rain became a steady shower. The pitter patter sounds were relaxing...for awhile. But the rain showed no sign of stopping. The kids continued to sleep well, but the adults kept tossing and turning and muttering and then the father got up to check the weather radar on his fancy phone device. I started to worry as I felt the rain drops sink through my seams and into the sleeping area. Whoa to me, I was failing as a tent on my first night...but there was nothing I could do. My poor family just got wet. The middle boy was sleeping in a puddle. The mother and father had wet feet and water dripping on their foreheads. All the towels were put to use, but they could not stop the ever increasing amount of water seeping into me.

By morning my family was not in good spirits. The entire campsite looked like a giant puddle. They piled on the air mattress and ate dry cereal within my confines. They tried to keep the children from bumping into my sides. They bravely tried to play games, but patience ran thin. Finally they ran for the car, and I was abandoned, a failure as a tent. (I hear they tried going to the nature center, but it was closed for the day. They ended up going to the Bloomington Public Library for awhile and then ate lunch in the car, hoping the weather would clear up soon.)

I desperately hoped for another chance. Surely I could still show this family a good time! But luck and weather were not with me. Still the rain poured into the afternoon. The woman returned to me briefly just to wail bitterly at my failure. How I longed to be back on the dry hard shelves of the Wal-Mart. At least on a shelf I still held the promise of outdoor fun. Soon the father returned, too. He ripped up my muddy stakes and threw my dampened poles on the nearest picnic table. I was wadded up and shoved unceremoniously on the floor of the boat. My poles and stakes did not join me and I had no idea where my carrying bag was. I wanted to shout to them, "Don't forget the stakes and poles!" But alas, a tent has no actual voice. And the stakes and poles were left behind as we drove away from the giant puddle of a campsite...

I feared that this was the end for me. Would I stay a wadded and dripping failure forever? But soon I was rescued and my faith in my family was restored. The weather had cleared up. We reached our destination of "the in-laws' house," and I was taken out and hung up to dry. I watched as "grandma" came to take the children and I was again loaded up for travel. But this time there was a sense of hope in the mother and father as they packed their now dry belongings. It was a second chance for us all.

Once again we arrived at the campsite. The puddle had diminished and the father had great plans for pitching me in a better spot. But the poles and stakes were not to be found. Sigh. I am sure a well-meaning camper thought my family had left their campsite for good, and that my innards were fair game for pillaging, but this left me useless and without hope yet again. Until...the father suggested that I be tied and suspended between the SUV and the boat. He is quite an ingenious man, really, despite his shortcomings in reading directions. So I was again restored to use. I may have looked a little odd, but my family was happy, I was useful, and the night was beautiful and clear...

The next day I was packed away again until the next camping adventure, but at least I was in my carrying bag this time...with promises from the father of finding replacement stakes and poles for me at some place called "Ebay." Despite our rough start, I am beginning to think my family and I will get along quite nicely.

P.S. Beth wanted me to let you know that she had a really good time with Frank after everything was dry and the kids were with grandma. Camping round 2 consisted of lots of loungin' on the boat in the SUN and pursuing the quest to toast the perfect marshmallow. :) Here's a picture of the campsite (post flood) and a lake view from the boat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hellooooo, Past Self!

I promise to write about our family's epic camping adventure sometime soon. There's drama and rain and more rain and emergency trips to the in-law's house. I assure you, it'll be action packed! (Don't worry, it has a happy ending.) But as I settle back into a "normal" type week, I'm opting for a little shorter topic to tackle.

My parents were visiting us this weekend and are preparing to move out of a house that they've lived in for twenty odd years. For some reason they didn't want to move all of my college and high school crapola that I left there. Shocker! So they brought it in big ol' boxes to my house.

Among the old work uniforms, prom dresses, and ugly camp art were many, many papers I had written in high school. I don't know why my teenage self thought to keep ALL of them, but there they were. It was a little strange reading through them and getting re-acquainted with my teenage self. I noticed:
A. I was a little less angsty and more well adjusted than I remember.
B. I wrote exactly how I think and speak unless it HAD to be formal...that hasn't changed a bit!
C. I was rather candid...what high school English teachers are forced to put up with! Yikes!
D. I think I was born kind of an old spirit. Does that make sense? Either that or I haven't changed all that much in 15 years.

So, would you like a taste of 14 year-old freshmen Beth? I am semi-prophetic here on some things...but I am happy to report that I was wrong on some things, too. Even though I'm a "busy" adult, I still find the time to write now and again. The creative spirit does not die with adulthood...in fact, it grows and has more material to work with! ;)

Seize the Day While You Can: A High School English Assignment

When I am an adult, I will long to write poetry,
But I will be busy with a career,
And responsibility,
And a family.
I will be on my aching feet all day long.
Wiping runny noses,
Running errands,
Cooking semi-culinary delights.
All the time longing to be creative.

Yes, you can drive as an adult, and make money too.
You can watch your children grow, and build stronger friendships.
But sometimes life gets dull and routine,
And you will want to write a poem, but won't have the time.

Now we must write poems, assigned for Wednesday or Thursday,
Although we would much rather be out driving or making money.
But write while you can.
In a few years the chance will be gone.
And adults can never be children again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's a Sweet Day!

Just wanted to give a shout out to one of my blog pals, Candy! It's her birthday today! A couple of weeks ago she sent me a little love in the mail including a card that says:

Good friends make each other laugh.
Really good friends go for the snort.

So true! Her comments get lots of snorts from me! I hope this comes out like the true compliment it is, Candy, but you remind me a lot of my Mom...funny, reflective, and a spirit truly in love with Jesus that revels in the beauty of His world!

So wander on over to her blog, Steele the Day and leave her some love, got it? Or I'll be forced put on my Smarty Pants and go all superhero on your booty....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Year 1 As A Stay At Home Mom...Check!

As we get ready to celebrate the first birthday of Baby Jay, it also marks my first year as a stay-at-home mom. Throughout my pregnancy with Baby Jay, God kept putting it on Frank and I's hearts that it was time for me to step away from the full time work world. That was a hard decision both emotionally, since I loved my work, and financially, since we didn't know quite how the numbers would crunch without my second income, meager as it was. But I was excited about this new gift of time to spend with my husband, my kids, and my church. I thought that God had some stuff in store for me in those areas that I needed to take a bigger part in. That turned out to be true to a certain extent. But I think the biggest thing I have taken from this past year is God's work in my OWN life. Funny, I knew that this change in lifestyle would have some effect on me, but I really didn't go into it expecting God would use this time to make me DO less so I could SEE God more. Does that make sense? I'm probably getting ahead of myself...

Here's the thing. I keep pleeeenty busy physically managing the house, taking care of the kids, and keeping up with stuff going on at church, with friends, with family and all the miscellaneous things in life. But these days my mind and my heart aren't frantically racing to keep up with life like they were a year ago, when at least 40 hours of the week was chock full of work and everything else had to be crammed into what remained. So that leaves a lot more room for thought and reflection and sometimes loneliness on a particularly bad day (or a day that I don't see another adult until 6 or 7 pm). But I really believe God uses change and uncomfortable new things to grow us up a little spiritually.

I don't think I realized how dependent I was upon ACTION as a way of expressing my love for God. Whether at the church or at my job, the "doing" part of things was a a big part of how I defined myself and saw myself as a healthy, growing Christian. And that's so true in a sense. You can't just hear the Word of God and it's instructions and do nothing...(See James 1:22-25)


First you have to hear the Word of God! Sometimes I think my mind and heart got so busy I forgot to do that vital first step. I'm not saying that everyone needs to quit their job to improve their spiritual life...but staying at home has been an excellent opportunity for me dig into the Bible and then step back and see that:

1. I just simply need to love God. Just praising him while I wash the dishes or drive to the store is just as important to Him as teaching a forgotten child to read or listening to someone's burdens. I don't know why we humans have a need to categorize things as "God values this and this" over "this and this," but we do. Or at least I do! For more on this read my post about it here.

2. Prayer did not have the importance it should in my life. It's like my prayers were kind of dry and kept safely in a little box. I think my whole definition of prayer has changed this year thanks to IHOP (not the pancake place, the prayer place) and our church. This is hard to admit, but I really don't think I believed in intercessory prayer before. It's like I knew it in theory and I knew God listened, but beyond that I didn't think what I prayed had any effect on the outcome. I know, I know... God has grown my faith through prayer this year. And the more I get to know Him, the easier it is to know the hows, whats, and whos to pray for.

3. My kids are an awesome ministry. I used to feel like I never got enough time with my kids. Every chance I got to spend with them was precious. I rarely got tired of them or needed a break from them because I had too much time away. Now...well, sometimes they drive me absolutely nuts!!! But a few weeks after I had Baby Jay we were at church...I had quit my job, but I was still struggling to let it go. We had a silent prayer and reflection time that evening, and as my head was resting on the table, I had this beautiful picture of Jesus come to mind...bright and shining and his arms were open wide. Three people were running to Him...and I realized they were my kids! They seemed to be all grown up but still children at the same time. Hard to explain. They were just so beautiful, too- laughing and running into his arms. That was so encouraging to me. When the days get long and I feel like I'm a crappy, grumpy mom, I know that God has promised me that wonderful things are in store for my kids through Him. I am exactly where I need to be right now. I know Annabelle's only 5 and doesn't truly understand Jesus' sacrifice for her yet, but when she prays and thanks Jesus for his death on the cross, I know she means it with her all her little heart. She loves to dance and sing about God. She knows that He protects, loves, and provides for her. Priceless...

Over the past year we adjusted to a new baby and life with 3 kids, had some growing (shrinking?) pains as a church, Frank's sister and my sister welcomed their first children into the world, Frank started seminary classes, Frank's dad had scary health issues, I got my first random physical ailment (or whatever Bell's Palsy is), my parents started a new adventure in life and are preparing to move, the church just moved to our own building...as usual, life is not boring!

But God has given me some great gifts this year to help me get used to my stay at home status. I learned that I can indeed cook without killing anyone. I got back into running after a decade of inconsistent exercise (That's putting it kindly!). I have read more than I have in years. The kids and I have had some mini adventures to the library, the lake, planting a garden, visiting friends, and other things that we just never had the time to do before. I have witnessed pretty much every day of Baby Jay's little life and he has been such a joyful baby! I started reading blogs and then writing my own as a new creative outlet. Out of that has come numerous friendships that keep me laughing, encouraged, and spiritually challenged. I have had the chance to deepen my friendship with my pastor's wife and that has been such a major blessing. I have had the chance to reconnect with the gals in my women's group here in town. There is so much to be thankful for these days.

So my sweet Baby Jay may not remember his first birthday, but I will look back on his first year with a lot of praise and thanks to God. He's the One who stays the same when life seems to change by the minute.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Love the Baby Cows

Welcome back to another edition of Random Post Week! As I was taking a bike ride this evening (fairly free of malicious dogs, I might add), I rode by our lovely 4H fairgrounds. Tomorrow is the start of the fair and things had that bustling feeling of expectation. I LOVE the fair. Eat a little fattening food, chance my life on the carnie rides... But my hands down favorite thing to do is visit the animals and hope that I will get to see a baby cow.

Now, I know they are really called calves. And although I've lived in small Indiana corn-growin' towns pretty much my entire life, I have not had much farm experience. So bear with me, I just love to call them baby cows. I love their big soft eyes and gangly legs...their velvet noses and slurpy tongues. I was totally in love with the calf Norman in City Slickers.

Why? I have no idea. I like animals okay, but I tend to like people better. My earliest memory of cow love started when I was a kid and I made up these animals called Wrinkle Moos. They were much like the cattle with the big horns, but they had shaggy fur and were wrinkled like a Sharpe dog. I used to tell my sister they were out in the backyard, and when she would look I would say they had disappeared. It kind of was our inside joke and made no sense (like most inside jokes, the more non-sensical the better!) and we were probably way too old to be doing such silly things; it lasted way into high school! But...the "moos" became kind of a thing with us. We fondly called each other mooheads and still do to this day.

And out of this was born the habit of mooing at the cows out the car window as we passed by fields. And if there's a baby or two running around...I get a little giddy. Frank seemed to accept this rather nonchalantly when we were dating (to his credit), and two of the cutest little cows adorned our wedding cake. On our honeymoon there was a pasture behind our rented log cabin. One evening after a rainstorm the cows were standing in the mist right by the fence. We stood and "talked" to them for awhile at sunset and it's one of those memories of just complete and utter peace that I have. (udder/utter...yeah...I just noticed that...)

Love cows. LOVE THEM.

So fair week is upon us and I will stalk the cow stalls and some 13 year old will wonder why an otherwise seemingly sane woman will ask them if she can pet their calf and she will get a happy goofy grin on her face and her three small kids will get tired of the cows before she does...

But sometimes you just gotta stop and moo.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Recycled for Your Reading Enjoyment

This morning I started thinking about some of the songs I wrote awhile back thanks to my ever creative friend Katdish. I have a couple of posts swimming around in my thoughts in their tadpole stage, but I don't have quite the time or patience to grow them into frogs today. (That was a really weird analogy.) So I thought I'd post some of my song lyrics from back in da day. Here's a song I wrote for Frank the summer we were engaged, exactly eight years ago. A lot seems to have happened in eight short/long years! But what I still like about this song is that Terre Haute is included in it. Who knew that we would still be making our mark there 8 years later?


Old town, broken down
Past its prime
Not much to do
But sit and whine
About the train that's keeping me awake
Some days I think I've had more than I can take
Then I see your face
You remind me that things can't be that bad

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

Driving, singing our favorite songs
Laughing, playing all day long
Of course, it's just Saturday
All days can't be that way
But if Saturday is all I have with you
That would be enough for me

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

You remind me
Things can't be that bad

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

Old town, broken down
We'll paint it red

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spaghetti and Irony

Sometimes I'm not sure I know a whole lot. But I know that kids love spaghetti. Here's proof:

We ate spaghetti three times last week. Didn't mean to...just kind of happened that way! But I don't think my kids minded at all. I didn't either, as something as simple as spaghetti is a little different wherever you go. These pics are from last Wednesday when we went to go visit and play with the kiddos at Ryves Youth Center where I used to work. One of the many awesome things about Ryves is that if you're there volunteering at dinner time, you are more than welcome to sit and eat with the kids, which is one of my favorite times there. You can just hang out with them and chat. Have to say the Tastiest Spaghetti of the Week Award, though, goes to our friends the Swanks who had us over for dinner. That sauce was YUMMY, Holli!

Now here's the irony. When we went to Louisville a couple weeks ago, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Guess what the kids wanted to eat? Macaroni and Cheese. Go figure.

P.S. I will do my best to try to post more than once this week and stop my blog slacktacularness...