Monthly Archives: May 2009

“Real Mothers”

We sort of missed Mother’s Day, and sort of celebrated it yesterday by going to Hoffmaster Park for a hike along the beach and a picnic. Here is something about moms that I just love, because it reminds me so much of the early days of trying to survive motherhood!

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.

MOTHERS

Real mothers don’t eat quiche; they don’t have time to make it.
Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.
Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens, and happy kids.
Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn’t come out of carpets..
Real Mothers don’t want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.
Real Mothers sometimes ask ‘Why me?’ and get their answer when a little voice says, ‘Because I love you best.’
Real Mothers know that a child’s growth is not measured by height or years or grade…by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother…

A Room with a View

lilacs out our windowWant to see what I get to enjoy out my bedroom window these days? When I throw open the window in the morning, our room is filled with the heavy scent of lilacs! This is our view from the west window.

View from balconyHere’s the view to the north out our balcony window.

Eastern view from balcony

And, the view to the east!

The tea roomAnd if I step onto the deck outside, I can see our tea room…and Davy, enjoying the morning breeze.

Alan often says he thinks he’s living in the suburbs of heaven. 2009 has been one of the busiest but happiest years of our lives so far, so I can’t help but agree with him. I am so thankful to be living in our little “Tanglewood Cottage” paradise enjoying the beauty of God’s nature all around us. What a privilege and gift! Still, life at it’s kindest and fullest is fringed with pain and sorrow…even when not our own, in the lives of some who are very near and dear to us. As I thank the Lord for all He’s allowing me to enjoy today, I am also comforted to know that someday all who accept His gift of life in Christ will be taken up to heaven and enjoy an eternity of wonderful “rooms with views” as part of the family of God in our Father’s house!

“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions (abiding places); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

“Thomas saith unto him, ‘Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?’

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'”

Debut of the Cygnets

Debut of the cygnetsGuess what I saw when I opened the shades this morning! The swans were blessed with not one or two cygnets (as in years past), or even three or four (like last summer), but seven wonderful, wobbly, bobbling fluff balls this year! I am amazed and delighted! Seven babies is all Alan and I had over the entire course of our marriage!

Cynets through the lilacsThey are very wary of sounds or movement, so I had to slip out the front door and hide behind the lilac bushes along our pool to keep from being spotted, but aren’t they adorable?

I think there’s a lesson in perseverance here. Last year the swans had four cygnets, but only one made it to adulthood…and having even one survive was a first in the six years they’ve been on our lake. I was hoping the young swan would return with a bride this summer, but alas, it was not to be! However, the swans never seem to give up, and every year they try again. Ah, you say, but it’s instinctive. Perhaps. If so, Lord, please grant me the instinct to never give up…to persevere in trying to nurture life, to bring beauty from chaos, and to live with stubborn joy in trying to become like Christ!

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not,
but rejoices for those which he has.
~Epictetus

Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy,
for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one’s liberty.
~Henri Frederic Amiel

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

– Paul in Philippians 3:13-14

Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Hi!

I’m back in the land of the living but not ready to post yet. However, I started reading my 125 happy e-notes from loved ones and found this forward that I particularly liked. Hope you do too!

Below are some lovely thoughts Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her ‘beauty tips.’ They were read at her funeral years later.


For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Time Out

I’m on the run again, trying to get everything in order for about 10 days of wonderful family times! Michael arrives tonight. Dan graduates tomorrow morning at U.M. and then Stephen has his recital at M.S.U. later on. Joel graduates Saturday. Our entire family will be together for a few days of wonderful fun, and then we’ll start losing families. At the peak, all 17 of us will be together. That will be a first for some of the newer members of the family! Grace and Eowyn will stay with us afterward until Dan’s wedding at the end of May, but Michael has to fly back to Germany to work for a couple of weeks in between. All this fun will pretty much empty everybody’s piggy banks, but these are mighty important milestones in our family life, and so it will be especially grand to have everyone together to celebrate!

That being said, I will very likely not be posting again until May 18 or so! But, I will keep praying for all my beloved friends and family, and I hope you will pray for us too!  We all love you!

Afraid of Butterflies?

monarch
I had the pleasure of hosting a young lady for five days who is considering coming to GR to attend one of our Christian colleges next year. She grew up out east in a neighborhood with precious little grass and who had never gone very far from home—never flown on a plane or taken a ride in a rowboat—and had frankly lived a pretty difficult life for such a young girl! However, her mother and dear aunts are taking care of her now, and she’s graduating from a Christian high school this spring.
Cassandra was lots of fun, and we had a great time together. Just before her flight back to Philly, I took her to Meijer Garden, which I thought she might especially enjoy because of the thrilling butterfly exhibit, where dozens of new butterflies from all over the world emerge each day from cocoons and flit about, making the conservatory seem like a tropical paradise.
There were two buses unloading passengers when we arrived and hardly a place to park. Meijer Garden was alive with colorful daffodils and tulips and wonderful scents of hyacinths and lilies. People were wandering everywhere, and many delighted children were stretching out eager arms, hoping a butterfly might land on them.
“I’m afraid of butterflies,” Cassandra confessed, grabbing my arm tightly.
“Would you rather leave?” I asked in surprise.
“No! Just don’t let any of them touch me, will you?” she pleaded, walking half a step behind me.
“Okay, I’ll protect you!” I said with a gallant wave of my free arm. “But, you know butterflies can’t hurt you, don’t you?”
“Yes, but they’re still scary. They move so fast, and I’m afraid one might land on me!”
I’ve been thinking about Cassandra’s fear of butterflies since she left. What am I afraid of that can’t really hurt me? Beautiful women flitting about my husband all day? This happened when I knew we were leaving in a couple of days for a conference where many “giddy” (as my husband described them) men and women were already sending out emails to all the other attendees giving biographical information about themselves and expressing their hopes for the conference. Yikes! My sister had just that morning asked me to pray for two different marriages in her church that are in danger of dissolving. We are walking through a world not unlike Meijer Garden; every day thousands of new people are emerging as “single and seeking,” and the chances of a flirtatious man or woman hitting on you or your spouse is high! My sister-in-law mentioned that the scourge of divorce seems to be infecting couples right up the line where they house their boat, but she and her happy hubby are trusting that they won’t catch the plague!
Is it a case of, as F.D.Roosevelt used to say, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” God tells us to fear nothing but God. That is a good thing to remember! Love all people…even the beautiful ones who flit about unpredictably and might try to land on you or your spouse! If any of them do, just brush them off! Have as your only fear the fear of displeasing God. Remember: No person can take God away from us, and that’s what matters most. So, don’t live in fear of the butterflies in your life, what or whoever they are! The Scriptures encourage us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything to pray, making our requests known to God, with thanksgiving, and to relax into the peace of God as He walks us through life’s journey! He has the power to keep the butterflies at bay if we’ll let Him. And, hey, if one lands on us, it won’t be the end of the world! Just keep trusting God and following Him!

Why Climb?

mountains1

While Alan was attending the ACPE leadership meeting in Chicago, I was privileged to hear their inspirational keynote speaker, Peter Athans, also known as “Mr. Everest.” Peter has reached the summit of Mt. Everest 15 times and extrapolated lessons on life from his years of overcoming the challenges of climbing the world’s highest mountain. Three lessons from his lecture have really stayed with me: 1. The greatest satisfaction in life comes from doing good. 2. Many people are unnecessarily blind and need to have their eyes opened: so they can see, and so they’re motivated to explore! 3.You never lose the perspective you gain from reaching the top.

Peter learned the first lesson—that the greatest satisfaction in life comes from doing good—over the course of many years while working with sherpas in Katmandu (the city at the base of Mt. Everest). Peter and some of his fellow climbers eventually developed genuine compassion for the people in the area where they were climbing. One climber was also an ophthalmologist, and his heart went out to the multitudes of people who were prematurely going blind in this area because of their constant exposure to ultraviolet rays (due to  the extremely high altitudes) and smoke- filled huts. This doctor eventually started performing cataract surgery as a charity. When he first became known, over 600,000 people applied for help! His passion to meet the overwhelming needs eventually led to his building a factory to make synthetic lenses so that the cost of surgery has been reduced to a simple and usually affordable $18.00! Peter and his family got involved in helping and eventually branched out in their own ministry of developing libraries to help children learn to read and expand their worlds. Peter’s enthusiastic reflection on his career is that the greatest happiness has not come from satisfaction over his personal conquest of Mt. Everest, but from the deep joy of participating with the ophthalmologist in helping blind people see and teaching children to read. Although Peter made no profession of faith in the Divine Healer, our Lord Jesus Christ, I couldn’t help but be touched by his insight into the fact that life’s deepest satisfaction does not come from taking in but from giving out! There is no greater joy in my life than bringing someone to the Divine Healer so that their spiritual eyes can be opened and they can be brought out of the darkness to walk in the light of God’s presence!

Also, Mr. Everest is working in conjunction with National Geographic and PBS to put out a series later in 2009 on exploration in this area, and he mentioned that some of the people had lived in the villages their entire lives and had never left the village or explored even 15 minutes away where there is an incredibly vast system of hand-carved mountain caves filled with archeological treasures! Peter is an avid educator and has found great satisfaction in taking some of the local residents to see the marvelous caves. He’s also enjoyed working with his family to provide exciting books to the children in this area so they can understand the world around them and have their vision expanded to beyond what they can see. Isn’t this like the calling of God for us? “Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all men. Teaching them to observe all things that I have written.” God wants us to help people “explore” spiritually outside their tiny world and learn to read the Scriptures so they can experience spiritual realities that are beyond their present capacity to comprehend with human eyes and understanding.

Finally, why climb? According to Peter Athan, because you never forget the perspectives you gain from getting to the top. Even though you can’t live at the summit and inevitably have to come down, the experiences you learn in training, and the sacrifices you have to make, the mistakes, the struggles, and the rewards—all of these things are unforgettable and make you a deeper, more dedicated, more passionate, more confident person…all the time! It’s worth the climb, because it’s worth the view, and even though you can’t keep the view, you never forget the perspectives. So, be inspired to climb!

“Come with me…my spouse…look from the top of Amana”
Song of Solomon 4:8