Archive for July, 2008

“Mom, I’m going to Kenya.”

This afternoon Orison got a gift bag and told me he was packing his things.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m going to Kenya,” he replied.

“Wow, what are you going to do there?”

“I’m going to see my friend Eli. I’ll be gone for three days.”

He proceeded to pack all kinds of essentials, like kazoos, blocks, toy cars, and a train whistle. He went in my room for a spell, told me he was getting on the airplane. All the while I’m playing along and encouraging this little game.

He came out of my room after a few minutes with a big grin on his face, proclaiming, “Mommy, I’m back in Minneapolis!”

I can only hope I’m that willing to “play along” when God really does call him to far places. I have no idea what the future holds for our firstborn son. He may be called to the hardest country in the world for the glory of God. Will I be ready for that?

That’s why I love the words of dedication that our church uses for our child dedications. The pastor says something like this:

Orison, together with your parents who love you dearly, and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering together with them all worldly claims upon your life, in the hope that you will belong wholly to God forever.

“Surrendering… all worldly claims upon your life.”

Is my highest hope that he will belong wholly to God forever? Or is it that he’ll go to a good college? or behave well in preschool this year? or have nice friends in adolescence? or marry someone that I approve of?

I felt like I got a small glimpse into my parenting future today. Though I don’t know if he’ll be a missionary, whatever he does with his life will require me to let him go and pray my guts out that he be God’s, above anything else.

July 28, 2008 at 12:22 am 37 comments

Chacos or flip-flops? We have feet in both camps.

Last Saturday, I became the proud owner of my first pair of Chaco sandals.

I had never heard of them before I moved to Minnesota, but you see them around quite a bit here.

They’re usually about $90/pair, and they rarely go on real sale, which is why I haven’t owned a pair since moving here 7 years ago. I have tried them on multiple times at stores like REI, coveted them, and walked out. I just couldn’t drop that kind of money on a pair of sandals.

But on Saturday, all that changed. Kind of. A couple of my girlfriends had been shopping around for some, and called a store that was actually going to stop selling the Chaco brand. So all their Chacos were 50% off!!

I know that’s still $45. That’s the way Abraham sees them, apparently, because he immediately started calculating how long I would have to wear them in order to “get my money’s worth” out of them. However, he was using a standard that I find totally unfair—his pair of $2.50 flip-flops from Old Navy!

He figures I have to wear my new sandals for 16 years. Nothing like sucking all the joy out of my bargain! 😉

July 24, 2008 at 12:14 am 58 comments

Kitchen Remodel: What kind of countertops should we get?

Before we move into the second floor of our duplex, we are planning to remodel the kitchen. This is happening for a number of reasons:

1. My husband is very nice and wants me to have a nice kitchen.
2. The current kitchen is quite small and not laid out very well.
3. We are hoping for this house to be the one we stay in for many years, so figure the investment is worth it.

Our remodel will begin with taking everything out of there, and finding out what’s beneath the current linoleum. We’re praying it’s hardwood, since that’s what’s in the rest of the place. That will make our flooring choice very easy!

Then we will knock out the wall between the current kitchen and the back bedroom of the apartment, making it one large room. This will give us a larger eating area in the kitchen and a place for people to mill around and talk to me while I’m in the kitchen. Or it might just end up being where the kids play while I cook.

Right now I’m really torn about what counter tops to get. Here are the contenders and my feelings on each:

Granite PROS:

  • It’s very pretty.
  • It will last a long time.

Granite CONS:

  • It seems kind of fancy. I’m not very fancy. So it just doesn’t feel like me.
  • It can chip.
  • It’s not repairable.
  • It’s porous, which can gather bacteria.
  • Very expensive.

Quartz PROS:

  • It’s very pretty.
  • It’s durable.
  • It doesn’t seem as fancy as granite.
  • Not porous, so good for keeping out bacteria.

Quartz CONS:

  • Not repairable.
  • Can chip.
  • Expensive.

Corian PROS:

  • A little more affordable than granite and quartz.
  • Repairable. You just melt a new piece in there and it’s fixed.
  • Can have the sink integrated right into the counter top! (This is my favorite feature!)
  • Lots of colors, and the look is not too fancy.

Corian CONS:

  • Still pretty expensive.
  • Seems like it stains like crazy (from what I’ve read on the internet).
  • It scratches (though I’m told you can buff out any scratches very easily).
  • Don’t know if I’d like a Corian sink, and you have to have one if you want to do the integrated sink.

Laminate PROS:

  • Very affordable.
  • If I hate it in 10 years, or if it gets badly damaged, I can replace it (because I didn’t spend as much the first time around).
  • Lots of color choices.

Laminate CONS:

  • Not easily repairable.
  • Not as cool as the other options. (Just being honest.)

So those are my thoughts. Any feedback?

July 23, 2008 at 12:22 am 72 comments

We’re landlords…kind of.

Some of you already know about this, to others it will be a surprise—we bought a duplex!

I’ve read some of Amy’s scary posts on owning properties, but feel that our situation is truly different for a number of reasons:

1. It’s next door to our current house.
2. It’s half a mile from our large church, and many people are looking to rent in this neighborhood to be close to the church.
3. We’re going to be living in it.

That’s right, sometime in the early fall we will be moving next door! It really was a cool opportunity for us. Basically here’s the deal: We live in a house that is about 1400 square feet. Not bad for our needs. However, the layout is just not going to work for the long term.

We have three bedrooms, but one of them is on the first floor. Not that that’s a bad thing, but we live in a pretty urban area, where it would not be sensible for anyone to live on the first floor except the parents. However, the room is pretty small and would make it difficult for us to have even a dresser in there if we had a bed. And it might mean we’d have to go down to a full-size bed, which we could do, but going down a size would be really hard. (I am not a snuggler.)

Honestly, I love my current house so much. I’ve said repeatedly, “If there we some way to make three bedrooms on the second floor, I’d stay here the rest of my life.”

Anyway, we found out the duplex next door was being foreclosed on, and it’s a very nice place. It has some aesthetic things to take care of, but nothing major. The previous owners put new siding on last summer, had all the trim painted, got new furnaces for both units, had a new fence put up, had concrete sidewalks poured, and all new windows put in throughout.

Here’s our plan: There’s a really huge third floor that is currently unfinished. We will move into the second floor apartment and finish the third floor with three bedrooms (all on one level-yes!) and a bathroom. Plus on our main level we’ll have a guest bedroom. And then we’ll have the first-floor unit to rent!

It’s going to be a crazy time of transition, but we’re really excited for it. This was basically the only way we could get more house for our family (which we pray will grow through the years) without making a bigger mortgage payment (which would cost too much).

I look forward to updating you on our life changes.

The current tenants leave at the beginning of August. Can’t wait to show it to you!

July 22, 2008 at 12:46 am 20 comments

God’s Purposes and Our Pain

My father-in-law posted this last week, and it was a good (hard) reminder for me.

Why God Doesn’t Fully Explain Pain

By: John Piper

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions.

God says things like:

  • These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
  • These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
  • This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
  • This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people?

The problem is, we would have to be God to grasp all that God is doing in our problems. In fact, pushing too hard for more detailed explanations from God is a kind of demand that we be God.

Think of this, you are a blacksmith making horseshoes. You are hammering on a white hot shoe and it ricochets off and hits you in the leg and burns you. In your haste to tend to your leg you let the shoe alone unfinished. You wonder why God let this happen. You were singing a hymn and doing his will.

Your helper, not knowing the horseshoe was unfinished gathered it up and put it with the others.

Later there was an invasion of your country by a hostile army with a powerful cavalry. They came through your town and demanded that you supply them with food and with shoes for their horses. You comply.

Their commander has his horse shoed by his own smith using the stolen horseshoes, and the unfinished shoe with the thin weak spot is put on the commander’s horse.

In the decisive battle against the loyal troops defending your homeland the enemy commander is leading the final charge. The weak shoe snaps and catches on a root and causes his horse to fall. He crashes to the ground and his own soldiers, galloping at full speed, trample him to death.

This causes such a confusion that the defenders are able to rout the enemy and the country is saved.

Now you might say, well, it would sure help me trust God if he informed me of these events so that I would know why the horseshoe ricocheted and burned my leg. Well maybe it would help you. Maybe not.

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people.

Let’s trust him and not ask for what our brains cannot contain.

July 21, 2008 at 7:57 am 13 comments

Hey, New Readers!

Welcome to all who clicked through from my post at Rocks in My Dryer!

I was so honored and humbled to be asked to write something for Shannon’s series. She is someone I really admire in the blogging world, and I’m sure many of you share the sentiment.

Thanks for reading. You certainly are welcome here.

July 17, 2008 at 9:23 am 42 comments

I hope you have someone like Danielle.

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting some house guests—my best friend Danielle and her husband Dave, from Erie, PA (my hometown).

I’ve known Danielle since first grade. She and I were friends in elementary school, and then her family moved across town in fourth grade, so we didn’t see each other for a few years. Where I grew up, there is one high school for the whole district, and all the middle school graduates get dumped into the vast sea to sink or swim together. That’s where Danielle and I reconnected.

We were in the same section of Chorus in 9th grade (incidentally, the class my dad taught). She remembered me before I remembered her, but once we re-met, we were pretty fast friends. We laughed a lot, passed notes, auditioned for musicals, ate Cheetos before play practices, etc.

In 11th grade, December of 1995, I became a Christian. Danielle was always “religious” in the sense that her family attended Lutheran church, like mine. But neither of us knew very much about the gospel or the Bible. After lots of conversations with her and God working in her heart, she became a Christian in March of 1996. That took our relationship to a whole different level.

We were pretty much inseparable during the last year and half of high school. We attended youth group at a Baptist church together (much to our parents’ chagrin) and started growing in our relationships with the Lord.

College came. I went to Penn State, three and a half hours from home, and Danielle went to a smaller school about an hour from home. That ended up not working out for her, and the next year she remained in Erie. That meant that I got to see her every time I came home from college, and we spent pretty much all the time we could together. We’d often get house-sitting gigs together or something like that to entertain ourselves.

She eventually became an employee at the church we started attending in high school, as a youth worker for lots of years and now the Director of Communications. Danielle is extremely gifted in all things graphic. If you need wedding invitations or a logo design, or really anything, she’s your girl.

Danielle was the first person I called (after my parents) to break the news about Felicity’s death. I didn’t get her on her cell, so I called her husband’s, and he answered. She was with him. I didn’t know how to get the words out, so I just blurted it out as soon as she got on the phone.

She in turn got on a plane and came here for five or so days, pouring herself into every imaginable aspect of planning a funeral for a baby daughter. She designed our programs, edited our photos, constructed photo displays for the general public at our service, made a scrapbook/guest book for people to sign, made sure I was getting enough rest, managed the crowds and phone calls coming in—pretty much made herself indispensable. That’s kind of what she does.

I loved having her here with me. We played games, where we laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe; we cooked dinner together, which is so much more fun when you have a partner; we bowled, something neither of us are good at but our husbands love; and we worked on Felicity’s book some more, mounting pictures from my pregnancy and clippings from church bulletins. This is a task that has paralyzed me all year. But as soon as I mentioned that I could use her help doing it, it was good as done. She’s amazing like that.

So thanks for listening to me brag on my friend. I hope you have a Danielle in your life. I also hope you’re being a Danielle to someone.

July 17, 2008 at 12:25 am 17 comments

Help me out here, Super Target lovers

Okay, I know so many people love Super Target (“Super T” as some of my girlfriends call it). And trust me, I do too. But I come away from every grocery-buying experience disappointed thinking, “Wow, they’re more expensive than my regular grocery store.”

So if we’re just talking about price, does anyone else find this to be true?

If it is true and you still shop there, that’s fine with me. I just want to know what other factors you weigh into your grocery-buying decision (well-organized stores, proximity to home, Starbucks inside, etc.).

I think I’ve already tipped my hand as to my deciding factor. 😉

July 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm 48 comments

5 books that have made me laugh out loud

Awhile ago, my husband posted on “5 books that have made me laugh out loud.” Here’s my attempt:

Anything Can Happen by George Papashvily and Helen Waite Papashvily
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The fact that I had to really wrack my brain (and use two books by the same author) to get to five books that made me laugh out loud is sad. Clearly I need some recommendations for a funny book. A good funny book can be a great diversion.

July 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm 52 comments

These are few of my favorite things…

On June 22nd, we passed our nine-month mark without Felicity Margaret. Abraham and I went to the cemetery together. It was a beautiful day and, truly, the cemetery where she is buried is a beautiful place. We staked some flowers into the ground by her grave and laid in the warm grass on either side of her.

I know some parents who have lost children don’t enjoy visiting the cemetery. I actually know one mother who has only been to her son’s grave one time since they lost him, probably fifteen years ago. It’s just not a meaningful place for her. I also know other parents who don’t like it because of the emotional pain of it.

I find it painful to go there, too. But it also is a peaceful place, where I don’t have to worry about grieving too much. I can be free to talk, cry, pray, sit. There are no expectations on me there.

And in some strange way, we get to do the only parenting tasks that we’ll ever do for her while we’re there. We can clean her stone, we can pull weeds, we can keep an eye on things. I know that probably sounds very strange to some of you.

But it always blesses me to watch Abraham be her daddy when he brushes the grass clippings aside and tidies things up. If she were with us, he’d give her her evening baths, put on her diaper, and get her dressed in her jammies for bed.

Our desire to parent her did not die with her.

After we visit the grave we always go for a drive on the winding, hilly paths, under the tall trees. And then we always stop at the summit of the hill (the cemetery is aptly named “Hillside”) to take in the spectacular view of Minneapolis. The ritual of it is part of our comfort.

View from the top of Felicity\'s cemetery.

To top off our special time with Felicity on her 9-month birthday, Abraham was very thoughtful and took me up the street to the nearby Dairy Queen, where I enjoyed my twist cone with crunch coating as we walked through the outdoor flower mart next door.

Favorite things of mine that were achieved on this visit:

  • My daughter—check.
  • My husband—check.
  • Flowers—check.
  • Ice cream—check.

July 3, 2008 at 2:22 am 36 comments

Our Child-Naming Philosophy

Yesterday I got an email asking me where we got the name Orison. Believe me, it’s not the first time we’ve been asked this question.

In Minnesota, the land of the “Minnesota Nice,” the conversation usually goes a little something like this:

Minnesotan: Orison… [long pause]… is that …[long pause]… a family name?

Me [in my head]: No, but it is now.

What I actually say is: “It’s a word that means ‘prayer.’ An older English word that means ‘prayer.’ You can find it in books like Paradise Lost or Hamlet.”

Truth be told, Abraham found it while reading the dictionary. He used to do that a lot more than he does now.

We decided that we’d like our children to have names that are actual English words that have significant meaning. Some examples that are more common are names like Faith, Hope, etc. You get the picture. Abraham loves the English language, and he would really like to stick with this for all our children. I probably wouldn’t have had such a defined schema for child-naming on my own, but I’m excited about it, too.

So it was helpful that my favorite girl name of all time, the one that I had planned on using for a daughter since I could remember wanting to have children, worked for our second child:

She was born into the arms of Jesus, so that means that her name is true.

And we have some ideas for any more kids that come, Lord willing, but we’re not telling.

We never do.

July 2, 2008 at 1:37 am 43 comments

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