Friday, April 30, 2010

Stakin' Yo' Stuff

There comes a time in every gardener's life when their seeds and starts start to grow up and get a little wild. They want to test their independence and spread their wings but in gardening, as in parenting, you need to reign them in a little bit. The best way to do this is through stakes and supports (this is starting to sound like a post about bras).

Some vegetables and fruit are climbers by nature and staking and supporting them will help keep them off the ground which not only gives you room in small gardening spaces but it also helps protect them from disease and mold/mildew.

Vegetables that need support:

  • pole beans
  • runner beans
  • pea
  • tomato

Vegetables that can benefit from support:

  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts (but seriously, who plants that crap?)
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • fava beans
  • melon
  • pepper

My peas are getting all happy and viney so I made teepees for them this afternoon during the sun breaks. They are pretty farmy looking but I think they look cute. No doubt Hot Jeff will get home this afternoon and be mortified by their farminess and re-do them. And that's ok because his will no doubt be sturdier and less farmy looking. Sometimes farmy is kind of good though.



1) Congratulations to Emily H, who won the title contest with her entry. Wahoo!

2) Praying for Your Kids Monday starts back up THIS COMING MONDAY!! Thanks for praying for me while I was on PYKM sabbatical! I'm excited to start it back up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kara's Schweddy Balls

2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1t. cinnamon
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
3 cup coconut flakes

In a food processor, blend raisins, almonds and peanut butter.

Place in a gallon size ziploc bag with all the other ingredients. Mix until everything is combined.

With a tablespoon, pull out a bit of the mixture and roll in a ball. Repeat until the mixture is gone. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve as a delicious, protein packed snack for your kids!

*Thanks Bestie Kara for this great snack!
If you have never seen the classic SNL skit for which I named these balls. Click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stylin' and Profilin'

So a little something I've learned about myself is that I'm not very stylish.

I first started wondering about it last week when I overheard a Mom at Samuel's preschool say to another Mom, "Don't mind my sweat pants; I'm on my way to Jazzercise". I looked down at my own pants: sweat pants. And I was not going to Jazzercise; I was heading to Costco. Insert my puzzled look.

So with that in the back of my brain I went to pick out something to wear out of my closet a few days later and had 7 Eddie Bauer black tees staring back at me. Yeah, maybe not a fashionista.

Shannon, who has been getting a ridiculous amount of love lately in this blog, is a serious fashionista. My friend Heidi actually calls Shannon her "fashion icon". One day Shannon pulled off some crazy tights with a short yellow skirt, an adorable top and black fingerless gloves. If I wore that I would look like a drunk bag lady; people would start calling the authorities and asking if there was a mental patient on the loose. "She is wearing tights. And a yellow skirt. And fingerless gloves. She looks positively crazy and perhaps a little dangerous. She was trying to walk with a sexy swagger but she tripped and now her knee is bleeding through her ripped tights."

Not all of Shannon's outfits are that edgy and whenever I see her I say, "Ooh that's so cute" and she always says the same thing, "TJ Maxx".

Introduce Hurdle #1 to me becoming a stylish hottie: I don't like to shop. Gasp. And in case you are wondering, yes I do have a vagina. I just do not like to shop. In fact, I'm not even sure where TJ Maxx is located.

Introduce Solution to Hurdle #1: Give Shannon $20 and let her start buying things for me at TJ Maxx when she is there, which sounds like is about once a week. She gives me new stylish item (that she got for a bargain) and I give her another $20.

I may not be very stylish but I'm a thinker for sure.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weight A Minute

If you read this blog regularly you know that nothing is off limits as far as what I will write about. From the boring day to day to my Jesus lovin' liberal political beliefs, I write about everything (and yes, that includes my garden which I'm pretty sure bores the heck out of you).

One thing I can't recall ever writing about is weight. My weight, your weight and everyone else's weight. I don't like the subject because I think if I don't write about it then it must not exist. On the contrary, MY WEIGHT (and incidentally yours) is always on my mind.

One of the ripple effects of going to Shannon's photo shoot this weekend was thinking about my body, my image of my body and my idea of what I think your idea of my body is. I know that's all convoluted and crazy isn't it? Bear with me.

For about the last 13 years I have been battling the bulge. And not just one bulge and not just 15 pounds but 2 or 3 bulges and 40 or 50 pounds. And on top of that it feels like I am always waiting to do something special or fun until "I lose a little weight". How many of us do that? Of course when Shannon, Valerie and Suzie were all telling me this weekend that I should do a sexy shoot for Hot Jeff my reply was, "After I lose some weight" with some pretty heinous, hateful things about "my fat ass" thrown in for good measure (thank you Suzie for bringing this to my attention and reintroducing the word "heinous" to my vocabulary).

First of all, I would never say such horrible things about anyone else so why would I say it about myself? I tell my kids that 'words hurt' and 'words have power' yet I denigrate myself with my thoughts and words and never even blink an eye or consider about what my own words are doing to my self-image and self-esteem.

Secondly, its not like I'm just sitting around being fat and not doing anything about it so I should give myself at least a little credit. I'm on a weight loss program called "Take Shape for Life" and have lost 30 pounds since February (you can lose 30 pounds in 3 months too--contact my Bestie Kara Brown for details). That's nothing to sneeze at yet I find myself minimizing the hard work I've done (with my comments about myself) and sabotaging myself and future weight loss but eating some of Samily's cheesy quesadilla (more on how I broke up with cheese in another post).

I don't mean to elevate myself and make this a post all about patting myself on the back but if I'm being honest, don't I deserve it? Heck yes I do. Yet I find myself putting myself down way more times than not. I don't hold myself to the same standard I hold others and that is that weight/size does not equate beauty yet it was clear to me on Saturday when I was quick to say I wouldn't do a photo shoot without losing more weight that I determine my own beauty by a number on my jeans.

Bestie Kim loaned me her book Captivating and it is really helping to change my perspective on God's heart for me, how He sees me (and considers me beautiful) and that I am created for beauty. Nevertheless, when it comes to jean sizes and BMI's it is hard to carry that philosophy over. So, I guess this is a journey I'm on with God right now and like most of my journeys with God it always takes longer than I want it to because I let my stupid, sinful self get in the way.

When I started this post I had a lot more to write about but now the midgets are asking me for lunch and I'm distracted so I have to stop blogging to go be a mother, oh puh-leeeeese. Will love to read your comments about your negative self-talk and how you battle it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

There Is No Way To Title This Post

Last night I was trying to fall asleep and was writing this post in my head, as I so often do. The one thing I kepy struggling with (until I hopped up, took a Tylenol PM and solved that problem) was what to title this post. I'm still not sure. So after you read it know that I'm opening it up for suggestions and the winner gets a $5 Starbucks card.

Yesterday was my Bestie Shannon's sexy photo shoot up in Portland. Our friend Valerie is a super fabulous and talented photographer and does a sophisticated photo shoot for women called "Little Black Book". Just in case you think Shannon has turned in to a big porn whore, you should totally go check out Valerie's website and see a sampling of the beautiful pictures she does. She transforms regular ol' women, wives, moms into supermodels and afterwards they feel beautiful, sexy, empowered and captivating. Shannon asked me to join her yesterday and it was such a fun experience.

First of all, the finished product, a leather bound black book of pictures is going to be an anniversary present for Shannon's husband Drew so mum is the word, got it? I'm pretty certain I have a huge following of attorneys down at the Attorney General's office where Drew works so I'd ask all of you to keep your mouths shut until after August.

The morning started off at a ritzy hotel in Portland and Valerie had hired a makeup artist to sex up spruce up the clients before their shoot. When we arrived, our sweet twenty something friend Emily was there getting the last finishing touches on her hair and makeup. Talk about red-hot sex bomb...oh my gosh--Emily is smokin' hot and gave me even more reasons to hate twenty somethings.

When it was Shannon's turn in the chair we got to meet the very adorable, very down to earth, very talented Jennifer Walker. She's a real life makeup artist and I was pretty sure Tom Bergeron was going to step out a closet at any given moment and tell Shannon she was going to be on Dancing with the Stars. Jennifer even had one of those tall director chairs for Shannon to sit in and good lighting. As Shannon sat, I pressed Jennifer for color tips and Shannon and I found out we're pretty much doing it all wrong. Shannon isn't supposed to wash her face with Cetaphil (I seriously thought real-life makeup artist Jennifer was going to need to be resuscitated when Shannon told her that. She went all silent and pale but we couldn't tell she was pale because she had such beautifully applied blush.) and I should stop doing my makeup in the car. She gave us some other helpful tips about moisturizing and so forth and then it was my turn to be shocked. And when I say "shocked" I am severely understating my emotion. It was more like the feeling you felt when one day your presumed dead uncle mysteriously showed up on a flight you were on and told you that not only was he alive but he is not your uncle but really your father and that he is responsible for the kidnapping of your husband who is wanted by the KGB for being a double agent spy. Yeah, it was more like that.

Are you sure you want to keep reading and hear what she told me?

She said I shouldn't wear dark lipsticks but more pinks.

I will stop and give you a moment to gather yourself.

Here all this time I thought I looked like this:

But perhaps I really looked more like this?

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Feel a Gardening Post Coming On

The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is totally running through my brain right now as I write this post. I am so crazy about my garden. Just bonkers.

Yesterday was an amazingly beautiful day so I decided to plant Phase II. I had planted seeds of lettuce, garlic, carrots, peas, onions and potatoes and now that it is warming up a bit I was ready for some of the less hearty plants like cucumbers, peppers and herbs. Because I don't like delayed gratification and had already tested my green thumb with seeds on the other plants I just got starts and went for it. I also planted some marigolds which are a wonderful beneficial flower for the garden. More on beneficials later.

Because my bed is a bit smaller than I would have wanted it, I planted my herbs in pots. This turned out to be good as I just learned parsley needs less sun than the rest of the plants and I'll be able to move it if I see it struggling with the oodles of sunlight my backyard gets. And yes, speaking of herbs, Kristan, I did plant you some basil!

Here's a picture of the whole scene complete with pots and Ella the composter (which should be giving my first load of compost in about 2 weeks!).

Isn't that a lovely little fence? Hot Jeff found and put that together to keep Jersey the evil, neighbor cat out. It has totally worked too. Oh Hot Jeff...not only are you hot but you are so clever. Single ladies, never marry a man who can't outwit a neighbor cat.

This is just another view/angle of the raised bed. Don't you love the rain gauge in the corner? All serious gardeners have rain gauges. I got one so that I would appear to be a serious gardener. I think somewhere in Raleigh, Bug is very, very pleased with me.

Ok, lets talk about beneficial flowers. First of all, I have to give credit to Bug, my gardening Sensei, because without her I wouldn't have even known I needed to google beneficial flowers. Bug knows ALL THINGS GARDENING and she even cans. I know.

So anyway, beneficials, (as they are cleverly called) are flowers you plant in or near your garden to attract bugs that benefit the plants by pollinating them or eating the bugs that kill them. I know it seems that all bugs are bad for your plants but that is not the case and in fact, you need to some to have healthy produce. For example, marigolds deter whiteflies and beetles and cornflowers attract ladybugs who eat aphids while hesperis attracts bees which will help pollinate your flowering plants. Another wonderful beneficial is actually herbs! The basil you planted? It attracts bees and repels aphids. So very cool.

There are a gajillion websites about beneficial flowers but I have found this one to be the most concise and resourceful without being too wordy.

One final word on gardening, I hope I don't get bored with this. I tend to really get excited about stuff and then get bored with it. I'll keep you posted.

p.s. Lying to my kids about their food is going gang-busters! A few days ago we went to McDonalds drive-thru to get diet cokes for Hot Jeff and me and Samuel bellered from the back seat, "We don't eat here! They have fake chicken!" Jamie Oliver would be so proud.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last Friday I flew to Montana to pull off and attend the long-awaited surprise party for my Mom. I have been planning her party since November and long at last it was time to finally board the plane and GO!

I was not traveling with the kids and had no idea how delightful TRAVELING WITHOUT CHILDREN could be. Seriously, I called Jeff after making it through security without sweating or crying and told him if he ever wanted to do something nice for me to just send me to the airport for the day to drink coffee and people watch. It was splendid.

When I started planning her party I knew I wanted it to be a big bash. I've attended a lot of funerals in my day (like an odd amount of funerals) and some have been lame and some have been beautiful. I always leave the beautiful ones thinking how sad it was the dead person didn't get to be there to hear all the kind words, to see the people who came out of the woodwork to pay respects and sit through their slideshow. You see, I'm convinced that no good funeral is complete without a slideshow set to music. If you can't do a slideshow, a 2nd best is a few good picture boards.

Anyway, keeping this in mind I decided I wanted to throw Mom a good party that would rival a great funeral: lots of friends from years past and present and a slideshow! We had both, plus some good cake and a lot more laughing than a funeral should have. Mom was totally surprised, not only about the party, but that I was there. It was amazing and I'm still patting myself on the back!

My Besties, Traci and Jami, who came to love on my Mom and get roped in to cutting and serving cake.

Some of the Niles crew. Not nearly all of us but enough to keep the local police on their toes.

My Mom, Gigi and me.
Inserting "Wind Beneath My Wings" would be highly appropriate here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life After Emily

Last week I was complaining on Facebook that I needed some fresh ideas for blogging and I asked my friends for some prompts. Last time I did this it was fun to hear what your ideas were and this time was too. My friend, Emily, in Seattle suggested I write about how having a 2nd child has changed the dynamic of our family.

Emily (friend Emily) is the daughter of my high school science teacher, Mr. Butler. Mr. Butler was also my speech and drama coach and one of the coolest "adults" I had ever met. I truly believe some of the success I've had as an adult is because of the strong foundation he helped lay when I was in high school. Growing up without a father left me with some pretty strong insecurities with men and Mr. Butler, or Dave as I now get to call him, was amazingly influential. I spent many a study hall hour and long bus rides on speech and drama trips chatting up life, getting advice on boys and life and listening to Mr. Butler's stories (he had some good stories). Mr. Butler also appeared to have a really healthy marriage. I never knew his wife very well but he seemed to adore her, spoke highly and respectively about her and gave me an early picture of a healthy marriage built on trust and mutual admiration. Emily was his young daughter who is now a lovely and funny adult and whom I have reconnected with on Facebook. She just had her second baby and gave the timely prompt idea of how life changed with a second child.

Ok, so now you've got your background and you're all hip on who is who so how has life changed with a 2nd?

When I first read that I thought oh I will be able to write pages and pages about how life has changed but as I'm sitting here trying to write I can hardly think of one way. I think I'm having a hard time with it because it honestly feels like she's been here with us all along. Sometimes when Hot Jeff are feeling all nostalgic and talking about life before kids it feels as though we are talking about someone else's life. Hot Jeff's dad brought over some old VHS tapes last week and we were looking at them and they were shot before we had kids and it felt like I was watching a movie of someone else's life. That night when we went to bed exhausted and desperate I asked Jeff what he thought we used to do with all our time. "Time??", he laughed, "What did we do with all our MONEY?"

I think it is probably easier to think of ways life has changed since Emily when I get to go shopping or run an errand with just one of them. One is so manageable. I can't believe I ever complained about going to Target with just one child. Two kids adds a circus factor, truly it does. You kind of become your own walking freak show when you add more than one child. My mom had such a life of ease by having only one child. Not only was I delightful, intelligent and thoughtful but I was singular rather than plural.

On the flip side of sheer chaos, Emily has given our family a sense of completion. Although we would love to have a whole passle of midgets running around and wrangling up trouble we were almost 100% certain we were only going to have two kids so when Emily came along she put this wonderful, beautiful metaphorical exclamation point on our family.

If you ask Samuel if he remembers life before Emily he says 'yes' but I wonder if he really does. He was 22 months old when she came along and he, thanks be to God, has been in love with her since the moment he met her. I've been astounded, amazed, humbled and grateful that he's never been jealous of her. Now that she's older and so onry she stinks they have their moments but really--he adores her.

So, to wrap it all up, there are the tangible ways a second child changes things like, another car seat, another mouth to feed, one more person to put to bed at night but there's no way to describe the way my heart feels when I hear them laughing at one another in the back of the car, or when Samuel is at school 2 mornings a week and Roo misses him so much. I never thought I could hold so much love in my heart as I do for Roo. I was convinced that I loved Samuel so much there could never be enough for a second but somehow in some-magical-Roo way she made my heart bigger and my love more generous (now if only my patience would catch up).

One last thought. It is kind of depressing but its true. It makes me happy and brings me comfort to know that when Jeff and I are dead and gone Samuel and Emily will have each other. What a cheerful thought to end on. Haha.

Roo, if you ever read this someday, always know that you are the best thing that could have ever happened to the three of us. Thanks for making us four.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Domestic Domination

I have had Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" on my recipe book shelf for over 2 years without ever even opening it. Yep, 2 years. I got the book as a gift when I was pregnant with Emily and I had good intentions of being all sneaky with my vegetables but lets face it: I'm lazy. I'm also a terrible housekeeper but that is beside the point.

The 5 a Day hand idea has been ridiculously clever and the kids are having fun with it (and it is helping to get them eat fruits and veggies) but I still don't think they are getting enough. Nor would any pediatrician. Or dietitian. Or any other -ian's. So this weekend I busted out the book, my blender and made a little trip to the grocery store. And I'm not gonna lie--the kids come by it naturally because I AM NOT KIDDING YOU I had to ask a lady shopping near me, "Is this a sweet potato?"

Saturday night after the kids went to bed I spent 2 hours steaming and pureeing vegetables. Butternut squash, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and avocado.

Let me pause for a minute to make a plea...
Dear Magic Bullet Folks,
My blender is from hell. Satan literally resides in my blender. I need a Magic Bullet. Kara says I need one and so does Jessica Seinfeld. If Jessica Seinfeld says I need one then I must really need one. I know I'm not a famous blogger but if you send me a Magic Bullet I will blog about you in every post. Seriously, every post I write I will somehow fit in a way to say how much I love my Magic Bullet.
Jennifer Henderson, a mother who desperately needs/wants a Magic Bullet

After I pureed the veggies I divided the puree up into 1/4 cups and put them in snack size ziplocs and then I put all the bags in to one big gallon size freezer bad. So now my freezer is plum full of 7 large freezer bags full of pureed veggies.

It truly was two of my finest hours and it got me all misty eyed thinking of my glory days when I used to make my kids' baby food. I know, its true. I really did make their baby food. It surprises me too and I'm the one who did it.

Now I know I've got my haters out there who will criticize me for hiding vegetables in my kids' food. They will say its deceitful and how will they ever learn to eat healthful food if they don't know it and blah, blah, blah. I'm sure my haters will say that I lie to my kids about Santa Clause so this was just the natural progression in my big web of deception I disguise as parenting. To them I just say this: SUCK IT. No, I mean it, really you can just suck it. The night after I spent 120 minutes pureeing vegetables until my kitchen's windows were wet from steam and my blender was smoking (no lie) my kids ate pancakes for breakfast with carrots snuck into them. They also ate a whole banana each and chased it with some yogurt. For a snack they had a cheesy quesadilla with pureed beans spread sneakily on the tortilla under the cheese. For lunch: mini-pizza with spinach tucked quietly into the sauce. Afternoon snack was some organic, gluten free granola bar that they love and have no idea is good for them and strawberries (I've been doing those for a couple of weeks now). Dinner was homemade chicken nuggets battered with pureed sweet potatoes and cauliflower and panko breadcrumbs with steamed carrots and homemade bread and finally, their bedtime snack was an applesauce muffin I had made earlier in the day that had butternut squash baked into it. Yummy. They ate awesome without complaining and Hot Jeff and I were thrilled at all the yummy vegetables they had eaten without knowing or without complaining.

My theory on this, besides that I just don't care and am going to keep on doing it, is that they will acquire a taste for these items because IT IS IN THE FOOD. Secondly, I just don't care and am going to keep on doing it. Third, at some point they will get old like me and know they need to eat their vegetables so they don't keel over at 55 and they will buck up, throw some garlic on them and eat up.

I'd like to give a shout out to Gigi also. Gigi was sneaking vegetables into food before sneaking vegetables into food was cool. Gigi used to put zucchini into her brownies. Ok, I hear you...yes, it was because she had a surplus of zucchini and not because she gave a rip about nutrition but nevertheless, Gigi was sneaking vegetables into food before it was cool. Woot, woot Gigi.

Today was Day Two of Deceptively Delicious and it has gone great. Today is Samuel's 4th birthday and he requested macaroni and cheese for dinner. I know better than to make it homemade so I made the blue box kind he so dearly loves but I snuck in pureed carrots! No one knew except for me and I don't eat that crap!

While I was doing all my muffin baking this weekend (I also made peanut butter and banana muffins with carrots in them) I got nostalgic for my bread making days up in Alaska and have made several loaves of fresh whole wheat bread! I'm now on an unrealistic quest to feed my family homemade bread. We'll see how that goes. That is taking the Going all Little House on the Prairie thing a little far and I may have to start channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder so I'll keep you posted on that. I do have 2 loaves rising right now though.

Please don't lose all hope in me though. I may be changing the way we all eat around here and makin' my own bread and crazy stuff like that but there is still 3 loads of laundry on the couch that need to be folded and put away and my bathrooms still look like they belong in a frat house. Don't worry--at my core I'm still lazy and would rather be on Facebook than in the kitchen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Mommy Dance

The kids and I were at OMSI the other day and I found myself doing an all too familiar dance. Most likely you've done this dance too.

187,000 children were playing in the sand area and I was sitting on a nearby bench watching Samuel and Emily building a little mound of sand together. They were happy clams until little Daisy came along... trying to get to her mom who was sitting next to me and talking to her friend, Daisy stepped on the sand mound, barely missing Samuel and Emily's fingers.

"Its ok", I said to Samuel and Emily's disappointed faces, "It was an accident and you can make another one". Daisy's mom looked at me and smiled before turning her attention back to her friend. Thus began the dance.

Daisy tromped back over the kids' sand mound, abruptly turned around, bend down and wiped the sand mound down to a flat pancake. Samuel and Emily looked at me with surprise on their faces and waited to see what I would say to Daisy. I looked at her mom and waited to see what she would say to Daisy.

Nothing. She said nothing. Then looked at me audaciously and smiled.

I cleared my throat, "Honey, please be gentle; the kids are trying to build something." My words were kind but also loud enough for her mother to hear.

Daisy, not new to this dance, picked up a sand toy and dropped it in the middle of where Samuel and Emily had resumed play, narrowly missing Emily's head.

I waited. 1 Mississippi. 2 Mississippi. 3 Mississippi. Nothing from Darling Daisy's mother.

Throat clear. "Hey sweetie, please play nice; your friends are playing right here". At last, Daisy's mother looks at her and says, "Did you hear the lady?" Daisy doesn't reply but walks over to the other side of the sand pit to torture some other happy kids. Daisy's mother turns back to her conversation.

Now my kids aren't perfect--I don't ever claim they are but come on Daisy's mom...GET A CLUE!! Maybe we wouldn't be in this awkward position of me parenting your child IF YOU WOULD DO IT.

Tell me about your experiences with "the dance"; I love to hear other stories of painful awkwardness and how you handled it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Story About Treasures

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Three weeks ago Josh Mann gave a sermon that blew the doors off my little world. I didn't actually get to listen to it until a few days ago; we had missed church that weekend and so while Hot Jeff and Samuel were out grocery shopping and I was holding a feverish baby Roo I downloaded the sermon and listened. Click on Josh's name and the link will take you to SAC's podcasts. Click on "Welcome to Babylon" to listen to the sermon; it will change you!

Anyway, I listened to the sermon Monday afternoon and when I went to bed that night I was in that sweet spot between being awake and falling asleep when the above Matthew verse came in to my head. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Josh didn't mention it in his sermon so I wondered where it was coming from. I floated in my little wake-sleep state a few moments longer when the verse came to mind again, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Immediately after, for a lack of a better term, I had a vision. This is the story of that vision.

Jesus walked along side me; His face was blurry and I am uncertain of where we were when Jesus asked me to show Him where I kept my heart. I beamed with pride and my pace quickened as I led Him to a beautiful treasure box. The box was decorated ornately and the brass handles glistened and sparkled. Jesus and I kneeled before the glorious box and I looked at Him eagerly to make sure He was ready for me to open the box. He nodded, urging me to do so. We peered together over the side to see my carefully placed Bible, Bible studies, finished and unfinished that I have studied. My "ministry" opportunities lie next to a tenderness for missions. I pointed to my church attendance and hoped He'd notice it is sitting next to books I has read about becoming more like Him. Underneath it were pages and pages of things I had written about Him and how much I love Him and next to it there was a photograph of me at the age of 11 asking Him to live in my heart and be my joy and pride were nearly seeping out of me as He looked over the items in the treasure box.

"But where is your heart?" He asked. Confusion washed over me, "It has to be in here", I thought to myself. Jesus interrupted my thoughts and touched my hand to stop me just as I began to rifle through the box of sacred items looking for my heart. "I thought it was here", I said in a whisper.

Jesus followed me as I led Him to another treasure box not far from the one I had just foolishly and pridefully shown off. I started to explain, "My heart is in this box. It is my family. I'm a could my heart be anywhere but in this box?" If Jesus sensed the defensiveness in my voice He didn't comment.

The box, a little bigger than the one before, sat modestly. It was scribbled all over with crayons and the latch was hanging on by one screw, the other lost long ago. Although I felt shame that my heart had not been in the prior treasure box, my guilt faded as I began lifting items out of the box, each one justifying why my heart was here rather than in the other. A moth eaten wedding dress covered sentimental souvenirs of my children's childhood; a pair of baby shoes, a well loved binkie, a lock of hair in an envelope. Every time I pulled an item out I was flooded by warm memories. I tried to overlook what else I saw in the box: the guilt, the wasted time; my comparisons to other mothers now threatening to spill out over the top of the box. I felt my eyes welling up with tears but I kept digging...I knew my heart was underneath it all, lying at the bottom of the box.

I was on my second run-through the box when Jesus gently touched my shoulder. "It isn't in here either". His voice was calm and tender, but knowing; He pointed to a box in a dusty corner. "No, its not in there" I weakly protested. I knew that box well; its wood was worn smooth from being packed around with me for as long as I could remember. At different times in my life the box had gotten too heavy for me to carry and I would unpack it and take out things that no longer suited me but really I had gotten very clever in my packing and had learned how to fit everything in perfectly.

"Lets take a look", Jesus urged. I protested again, this time with a little more conviction but before I could say 'no' again He was lifting the lid. My pride stared up at me. In this Light it didn't look as appealing as it had in the past. I knew my heart wasn't in this box but I decided to pull everything out just to prove Him wrong. There sitting next to my pride was a rope of defense mechanisms and tucked in next to the rope was a little pill box filled with sarcasm, unwholesome talk and self-righteousness. Growing in a pot was a thriving flower and each petal had words on it: self-doubt, image management, short-tempered and controlling. The root had grown since I last saw it but it was still the same, fear. Other trinkets were thrown in the box but I saw no need to look further. I shut the lid and exclaimed, "Nope, its not in here".

Jesus looked at me kindly, "I think you should look again" He said. He carefully lifted the lid again and I saw it. There was my heart. Tangled and choked by the other things I had stuffed in the treasure box but there nonetheless. Too shocked to cry, I gingerly reached in and touched the life force, repulsed that I had been all too eager to keep it in this place for so long.

"Guard it.", Jesus warned as He handed it back to me, "Now lets go".

Out of habit I bent down and hoisted the heavy treasure box. Jesus looked at me curiously and then smiled. He took the box from my arms and set it on the floor next to my feet. "You can't take this with you. We are going somewhere together and you can't take this with you".

For a brief moment I considered not going with Him; how could I leave my treasures? Just then I felt my heart beat in my chest, the rhythmic thump, thump, thump promised rebirth, renewal...consecration.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday from a Mother's Eyes

Since I've had my own children I read the stories of Mary, the mother of Jesus, a little more keenly. I remember being 8 months pregnant with Emily during the Christmas season and thinking of how much Mary's hips must have ached as she made that long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey. I have a little more empathy for Mary since motherhood has given me new eyes.

Today I'm thinking of her again.

3 years ago this month my dear Uncle Bob was dying from pancreatic cancer. Every day he slipped further and further from this world and closer and closer to eternity. Our family circled around him except for one person--Gigi, his mother. Seeing him in such agony had become too physically hard for her own weakened condition and so she said her final goodbye to him 2 weeks before he died as he lingered in his last moments of consciousness.

I try not to think about that goodbye but when I do, tears spring to my eyes and my heart hurts and fear wells up inside of me at the thought of having to say goodbye to my own children. There is something very unnatural, something horribly cruel, about having to bury your children.

Today I'm thinking of Mary. Today I'm thinking about how horribly cruel it must have felt to see her son struggle under the weight of a cross, broken and bleeding, dying for sins He didn't commit.

I see her standing at the foot of the cross, arching her neck to see her son as he labors for breath, moaning from the pain and praying for those who torture him.

Can you see her? Her hair is probably more grey and her skin more wrinkled than the 3 decades earlier. She has become a woman, made a home, raised a family and now she stands just feet away from her dying son. I can imagine that as she stands there watching his clothing being gambled for she remembers his first grin, his first wobbly steps, the way her heart stopped when she first heard him say, "Mama". I imagine that as the blood drips from his torn body she remembers kissing skinned knees and singing lullabies goodnight.

I wonder if Mary bargained with God. I wonder if she silently pleaded, "To hell with all of them, that is my son". I have no doubt that as He gave His life for us she would have done anything to give her life for His.

Mary couldn't see in to the future; she was as bound to this earth as much as we are. We know her faith was strong, the early chapters of Luke leave us no doubt that it was, but at that moment in time, as her firstborn son hung on a cross like a criminal, I wonder if her mother's heart didn't break, beg and bargain for a different ending.

Today I'm thinking of Mary. Before He was ever her Savior He was her son.