Monday, February 21, 2011

The painting.

I've loved Ann Voskamp for a long time. I remember stumbling across her blog, A Holy Experience, a couple of years ago. At the time, it was the most peaceful, encouraging place I could go without a passport and umbrella drink.

I'm sorry. Comparing her writing to an umbrella drink is probably not flattering to her. I'm pretty sure, though, she's not too concerned about this mama's analogies. Her writing is like reading poetry. It's rich and beautiful and full of love for Jesus.

The other day, my mother-in-law gave me her new book, One Thousand Gifts, and it's been wonderful to read - even if it's just a little each day.

I don't have a lot of art in the house. Unless it's made by my children, or purchased at a flea market, it's probably more accurate to say I don't have any art in my house. I love vintage oil paintings though, but they can sometimes be a little shabbier than chic. The other day, I was moving some stuff around and found this old oil painting that had hung in my boys' room. It's of a little country farmhouse at the edge of a long lane boarded by an old wooden fence.

There was a quarter-sized hole in the canvas and I thought it was probably time to donate it to the garbage.

I'm sure some of you could figure out a way to repurpose it for something fabulous but I am both uncreative and unmotivated. And busy trying to figure out how to get Darius focused on graduating and unfocused on his girlfriend.

My go-to of candy and television just isn't working on his 17 year-old self.

Anyway, I had this old painting set out to be tossed and then, last night, I turned another page of Ann Voskamp's book.

"...I wonder too...if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see throught the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave."

And it makes me look at the painting again. Perhaps that scene, carefully painted long ago, is like our lives - at least what we imagine what our lives should look like. All peaceful and serene and full of sunshine. But, as Ann asked, what if the holes in the painting, the interruptions or diversions or derailments of our plans, actually give us a place through which to better see the Lord?

It makes me think about the holey, torn canvas of my own life, and how, through every rip, I've seen more of the love and faithfulness of the Lord. And it makes me hang the picture back on the wall.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!!

Hope you've had a fabulous day!! I wrote a little somethin'-somethin' over at the Dallas Morning News' Briefing in honor of this romantic day.
You can find it here.

I'm not saying it's romance genius, but you just might find an ace you can keep.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Desperate times...

Although temperatures picked up for the big game on Sunday, Dallas has been hit with another cold snap and I am so DONE.

Really. Finished. Ready for Spring, and flowers blooming, and sunshine, and baseball season. Admittedly, I love to watch the kids play but what I really love is the food associated with baseball games. Hot dogs, nachos, big Diet Cokes, and sunflower seeds.

I'm nothing if not classy.

Speaking of classy...last week, our trash collectors didn't come because of the ice. Well, if you've known me very long, you know I have a strong fear of being overrun by our own garbage. When the city cut us down to one pick up a week, I had to re-evaluate everything. Think of the trash one little box of Hot Pockets creates. With the box, all the wrapping, and then those little foil things that make the fake food actually crisp up in the microwave. Can't they just add another chemical to do that for me? Anyway, that's a lot of trash created for just one food item so those were gone until I could at least learn to pace ourselves a little.

But, even with our more careful management of trash output, missing a weeks pick-up could easily send this family of eight into garbage crisis mode. So, Tuesday, when our trash truck rounded the corner, I was ready. I ran out with a big smile and a bag of oatmeal raisin cookies to bribe a city employee to dump our trash receptical twice to make up for the missed week.

'For the love of all things good, please do not let this man have an aversion to dried fruit or rolled oats. Or be gluten intolerant. Amen.'

Thankfully, he took my cookies and dumped my trash can twice as I waved and whooped and hollared and thanked him like he'd saved me from a near-death experience. Which he totally had. Totally.

And, since Momma had officially run out of things to do on yet another snow day, I allowed Sadie to entertain herself for a while by drawing on my face with pink highlighter.

The bonus was that it was a Sharpie Highlighter so it took me about sixteen tries to wash it off. And glad Hannah was around to take pictures and then immediately post these beauties on Facebook for me. She's a doll.

And for the record, these pics were taken around noon and yes, I was still in my bathrobe.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Circle of life.

As we enter day four of Dallas Winter Extravaganza 2011, I am - despite my earlier claims of being the most creative, fun, and exciting mom ever - running out of things to do.

I actually never claimed to be all those things. Really. Would you please tell my children?

Actually, yesterday, we had a moment of Nature Study right here in the 'hood and now, because we have been cooped up for 72 hours straight and I have nothing else to talk about, I will tell you the story.

Temperatures have not been above 25 degrees since Monday evening so it was not surprising for us to find a bunny, frozen solid, underneath Dea's car yesterday morning. It was actually not a bunny but a large hare. Bunny is just more fun to say.

Bunny. Bunny.

Try it with me.

Anyway. The kids were all sad and wanting to have a funeral but we certainly couldn't bury the thing - "ground's too hard". Saying that, I felt just like Jeff Bridges in True Grit when he couldn't bury the bodies of the men he'd just killed because winter was nary upon them.

Great movie, by the way. I was thinking though, as I was watching, how bad everyone probably smelled back then. You know, without Right Guard and the like.

Anyway, we were observing the dead bunny from the window when we saw a feral cat walk up and start eating it. Lovely.

The children were aghast and I could see this quickly downward spiraling into something nightmares are made of. So, being the super-quick thinker I am, I just casually started talking about the Circle of Life, and how the Lord has provided for the cat with the death of the bunny. Bunny. Bunny. Bunny.

And then I distracted them with television and candy.

It reminds me of the time Tee was very, very little and we were sitting in our backyard watching a locust come out of his shell. Patiently we waitied as the locust's wings dried and he slowly moved them readying them for his first flight into the sweet summer air.

His first attempt failed and he fell softly to the ground making the beautiful buzz that locust are known for. At the sound, Samson, our beloved lab, sauntered slowly up and ate the locust right before our eyes.

Tee turned his chunky little face to me eyes wide, stunned, and speechless. I, holding back my gag reflex, casually told him how some living creatures provide food for other living creatures. It's how God made things.

"But, Momma, I thought that's what the dog food was for?"

"Buddy, how 'bout we go turn on cartoons and eat candy. Okay?"

Works every time.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

They're mocking us.

On the day that marks the arrival to Dallas of most of the Super Bowl media, we are having some of the worst weather of Winter 2011.

I experienced the full brunt of the brutal cold this morning at 4:37 when Tucker decided he had to use the outdoor facilities. The wind was howling so hard and sleet coming in sideways that he wouldn't walk out into the yard unless I went with him. In my bathrobe.

I then came in, turned off all the alarms and sent out a text cancelling this morning's bible study because the kids for sure weren't having school. I immediately got a text back from Hannah, mocking me for cancelling bible study. She said something like...or exactly..."It's just a little rain. Wimp."

Hmmm. I wonder if her sentiments changed this morning when her car door was frozen shut and she couldn't make her morning run to Starbucks to nurse her raging coffee addiciton. Maybe.

Hannah, how those shakes workin' for ya?

Ok, honestly, Hannah isn't really addicted. Last time I saw her, she was actually drinking some sort of tea. Whatever. I'll find her new achilles heel soon enough.

And truthfully, Hannah was just verbalizing what everyone here for the Super Bowl is thinking. Do you think they'd cancel school and all city services for a little snow and freezing rain? NO! In Pittsburg, they're laughing and Green Bay, I can't even imagine what they're thinking. Not good things. Not good.

So, on our unexpected snow day, we've been trying our best to creatively find things to do.

1. House Scavenger Hunt. Trey hid something in the house and then the kids had to find it. Whoever found it first got $1. When Trey was having to move money from our savings to pay the kids, he'd figured we'd played enough rounds.

2. Cooking. We've made french toast, hot chocolate, grilled cheese, soup, smothered pork chops, brownies, and Cosmopolitans.

We haven't really made Cosmopolitans. Trey says they're 'girly drinks' and is already ashamed enough that the world has to see our city shutting down in light of 1/4" of slush.

3. Watching Scout and Tucker play. As much as Scout would deny it, they're actually becoming really good little buddies. Watching them play is hilarious because Tucker just jumps around and Scout has to lay down totally flat so they can be at eye level. I have a video but unlike your great Aunt Nellie and her vacation slides, I'm sparing you the boredom.

4. Pretending we're CSI and trying to figure out the mystery sender of Tee's anonymous Valentine. It was in his cubby yesterday. No name. Just signed: 'Love ?'. If I could drive in this mess, I'd get it to the crime lab for fingerprinting and handwriting analysis. Unfortunately, I can't because, well, I don't have chains, or snow tires, or the resolve of my wooly Americans yonder North.

5. We're kind of running out of things to do so I guess I'm going to get off this computer and get out of my bathrobe so I can go downstairs and harrass Darius and his girlfriend who are watching a movie in the living room. You know, like walk in and out of the room spontaneously. Remind them in a sing-songy voice about keeping four feet on the floor, and pry innappropriately into her goals and dreams for her future, past relationships, and her personal commitment to abstinance.

On second thought, maybe I'll stay in my bathrobe and house shoes. It can only add to the effect.

Stay warm!