Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Use Care When Operating Heavy Machinery

I was about a mile and a half from home, driving that fun, curvy road, and hardly able to keep my eyes open, when it dawned on me that I probably shouldn't be operating heavy machinery.

You see, I had been feeling out of sorts all day, but at that moment it was utterly apparent that this wasn't any ordinary, run of the mill, not getting enough sleep plus spending too much time quality time with the kids tiredness.  No, this was a medically induced mental shut-down.

The label on my medication warned me this might happen.  It says "this drug may impair the ability to drive or operate machinery.  Use care until you become familiar with its effects."  Oh, and it adds, "may cause drowsiness or dizziness," for good measure.

Gotta love the illustrations!

But I thought I was familiar with its effects, having been on and off of this medication for 5 plus years now.  Apparently not familiar enough.

I started taking it at night, oh, the second day I took it, because it made me feel so horrible (tired, dizzy, nauseous) when I took it in the morning.  But sometimes I forget*, so that day I took it in the morning.  Took me out of play for almost an entire day.  Not sure why it has taken me this long to make the connection.  Must be another possible side-effect: mental confusion.

No fair, that something that is supposed to heal my body throws me for such a loop.  How can a drug that mimics the effects of dopamine make me feel so rotten?  Honestly.

On the bright side, I made it the rest of the way home safely, and the kids and husband were kind enough to let me sleep it off,  While I was out in the medically-induced haze, they even distributed the items I had purchased that morning to their appropriate locations (because it was all I could do to get the frozen and refrigerated items stowed before collapsing in bed).



* I seem to forget with some frequency.  I think it's because I really don't want to take this med.   I don't like what it does to me.  I don't want there to be anything wrong with me. So my subconscious brain decides to "forget."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Growth

A few years ago, I mentioned that it takes a lot of faith to plant a garden.  And it's true, don't you think?  I mean, you put these tiny dead-looking things into the ground, cover them with dirt, and spray the ground with water.  And nothing happens.  So you keep spraying and believing.  It's a lot of work, and the result is uncertain.

I'm familiar with the process of plant reproduction, but when you look at those specks of seeds, it seems utterly ridiculous to believe that, not only will it grow into a many-times-larger plant, but it will also produce yummy food to feed my family.  Ridiculous.

tomato seed saving 4 Pictures, Images and Photos
This?
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That was 3 years ago. I'm thinking it was the second year that I had ever planted a garden as an adult. This morning, as I gazed lovingly at my garden, which has already produced yummy sugar snap peas, grape and cherry tomatoes, and zucchini, contemplating the sweet taste of homegrown tomatoes on our BLTs tomorrow, I realized that it's gotten easier. Believing, that is.

Becomes this?

The repeated experience of believing has made it easier to believe.  Exercising my faith has made it stronger.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, friends, as is right,
because your faith is growing abundantly,
and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 (MOUNCE)

My friends, this is true, not just in gardening, but in every area of our lives.  Exercising your faith will strengthen it.  Each time we trust God, we learn that God is trustworthy.  When we place our lives on God's altar, we learn to see with God's eyes how God is working in us and through us, and as we experience God's faithfulness over and over again, it becomes easier to trust--our faith becomes stronger.

Know this: God, your God, is God indeed,
a God you can depend upon.
He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him
and observe his commandments for a thousand generations.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (Message) 

I know it's hard to believe, but sisters and brothers, I urge you: take that leap of faith.  It's a lot of work, and the result is uncertain.  But I can tell you this beyond a shadow of a doubt, the result will be perfect.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Home Improvement Kiss of Death

My friends, it's happened.  The home improvement do-it-yourself kiss of death.  We couldn't get the wainscot and trim on the wall fast enough, so we've made an accommodation to allow us to keep our laundry room torn apart while still being able to use the appliances.  Hubby extended the dryer's exhaust vent for me (thank you so much Hubby--I was not very excited about having to hang the vomited-upon clothes out to dry this morning.  In the rain). 

Yes, my friends, I have my dryer back, and the incredible mountain of stinky, dirty laundry that had grown up overnight as a result of the boys returning from their little jaunt in the wilderness is slowly shrinking.  I fear what this will mean for the laundry room's eventual completion.  Or non-completion.


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If you've been paying attention, you know that AKD celebrated a birthday this week.  Cakes are kind of a big deal around here, kind of a tradition, so I figured I'd better show you a pic.


Yes, this does look remarkably similar to the cake from 2 years ago.  It's what he wanted.  This time, I had candy rocks, though.


I invited a few of AKD's closest friends over to help us eat the cake.  Oh, and to surprise AKD, as well.
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And!  I'm not done with it yet, so I can't tell you what it is, but here's a photo hint of my next project.  Burlap, ruffles, floral print...what would you do with that?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vulnerable

I'm so excited!  We have finally started overhauling our laundry/mud room (wow, seriously, looking back at those pictures, the room already looks so much better).  We (mostly I) figured if we were going to reorganize it, we (mostly I) might as well make it pretty, which meant filling in the holes and painting the walls a lovely blue called December Sky.

So, while the Hubs and kids have been away (coming home today, yipee!), I've been disassembling our laundry room, spackling, and painting.  I love the color, but it's a little much to have that little room all blue, so we're going to be installing some white wainscot and trim on two (or maybe three) of the walls.  The accents are silver--it's going to be not just pretty, but gorgeous!


Don't you just love the color?  Well, you actually can't see it very well in this photo (especially with that shadow)--you'll just have to come see it for yourself before you make a judgement.

An interesting insight has come from this project.  The washer is still hooked up, just pulled away from the wall. All I would need to do to use it is plug it in and turn the water switch back to on. But the dryer vent didn't reach far enough to be able to leave it hooked up. In order to use the dryer, I would have to push it back into place, carefully lining up the vent on the dryer with the vent on the wall without bending either out of shape, seal the vent, and plug it back in.  And then, when I was done, I would have to unhook it all again and pull it away from the wall again in order to install the wainscot and trim (which I need to wait for Sawblock to help with).

I feel vulnerable with the dryer unusable. 

Which is really kind of strange, because if I need to dry something, I can just put it on the clothesline.  It might take a really long time to dry, what with the humidity and the rain and all, but it would dry, eventually.  And it's not like I even have a whole lot of people around right now who are making things dirty that would need to be washed and then dried. 

Isn't it interesting how we come to depend on these modern conveniences?  I so totally could get by without a dryer, but without one, I feel a little...lost.  Even though I don't need to do any laundry right now.  I know people who would be lost without their cell phones, or computers, or cars, or any number of things (even things that don't start with a c :), that are not, when you come right down to it, necessary.

It's just that, the dryer, it's a part of how I move through my days; it's a part of how I relate to the world.  It's part of my normal.  And being without it reminds me how easily my normal can be disrupted.  It's a bit unsettling.  If such a little thing can throw me for a loop, what happens when something big occurs?  Something like a brain tumor, perhaps?  Or a lost job?  Or a natural disaster?  Or an unexpected accident or death?

We know that most of what happens to us is out of our control, and while many of us say we love surprises, it's not really true.  We love good surprises, safe surprises.  But what we love most is being in control.

I take comfort in knowing that I am not in control, that I never really will be in control, that I don't have to try to be in control.  That makes it so much easier to turn all of my insecurities, all of life's uncertainties, all of my fears, all of my doubts over to the One who holds my life in His hands.


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?    
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.    If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 
    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25, 27-30, 33-34

And my dryer?  It'll be back up and running again in a few days, hopefully before everyone runs out of clean clothes.  As for the rest?  God will see me, all of us, through.

Monday, July 23, 2012

AKD through the years...

2000

2001

2002

2003


2004

2005

2006

2007


2008

2009

2010


2011

2012
My oldest baby is 12!  Where has the time gone?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Silver Refined

Argh!  It has been...way too long...since I posted a Blogging for Books review.  I'm a little surprised they haven't kicked me out of the program yet.  So, without further ado (and with fervent wishes that they will still be willing to give me actual paper copies of books), here ya go.

I was super excited to receive my review copy of As Silver Refined: Answers to Life's Disappointments by Kay Arthur.  I love the premise of this book, that what we regard as disappointments in life may really be God's appointments, that he's using those disappointments to make us more like Christ.  The idea is that our circumstances are actually the flames of God's grace, intended to burn away the sin and undesirable elements in our lives, leaving us pure, just like refined silver.






You see, silver doesn't just come out of the ground all shiny and beautiful--it's buried in rocks, mixed with imperfections.  To purify the silver, a refiner first crushes the ore into smaller pieces, and places them in a crucible.  He places the crucible over a fire and the ore softens.  The temperature of the fire must be kept exactly right--not too hot, not too cool.  The silver melts first, and the solid impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed away.  As the crucible continues to heat, more imperfections rise to the surface and are skimmed off.  The refiner continues this process, heating and skimming, never leaving the fire, but constantly watching and tending the silver.

After a while, he builds the fire even hotter, still skimming impurities away as they rise to the surface.  After many hours of careful tending, the silver is pure--the refiner can see his reflection in the molten silver.

Kay Arthur equates this process of refining silver to our lives.  She asserts that God allows trials in our lives to expose our imperfections and purify us, but that even in the heat of the flames, God is always there, always in control, always watching, always caring for us.  And when we have come through that refining fire, we are pure, reflecting God's image to the world.  I love that analogy.

The author also suggests that, because we know that these circumstances in our lives are allowed to bring us closer to God, we should stop fighting against them, that we should allow these circumstances to accomplish what God wants them to, and that when we face trials, we should be asking God what he wants to teach through the situation. 

Like I said, I love the premise of the book--it is so spot on for my life, for all of our lives, and makes so much sense.  I did not, however, enjoy the book.  It was a very slow read because of its repetitiveness.  Long after I thought the author should have moved on, she was still hammering away at a previous point.  This book could easily be shortened to 1/3 its length without losing its message.

I do like the study guide at the back.  There are additional scripture readings and several questions about each chapter of the book, and with 13 chapters, this would work well for a Bible study group.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Day Off

The other day, my little guy asked me when we were going to have a day off.  I kind of laughed and responded that every day is a day off during the summer (laughing mostly because mommies never get a day off).  "No," he insisted, "I mean the kind of day off where we stay home and just play.  You play with me, Daddy plays with me, you know!"

It has been a busy, busy summer here in the Bluefield household.  I don't understand people who say they look forward to summer because it's less busy and more relaxing.  During the summer we are on the go.  All the time.  I can count on one hand the number of days we have just stayed home this summer.   Just to give you an idea, we have had plans every weekend this summer, and about 3/4 of those weekends we have been out of town.  We don't have a free weekend until after Labor Day, and even then we still have soccer and karate on the weekends.

We have so much fun together!  Camping, summer adventures, other day trips and longer trips.  We work so hard to provide for our children, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, and it is so easy to get caught up in the act of providing and to never stop and simply be with them.  In the midst of all this busy-ness, it is easy to forget that what our children crave most is...us. 

One look at our calendar convinced me that a day off, a real day off, as defined by Roger, would be a long, long time coming.  But his simple question reminded me how easy it is to incorporate a little bit of that day-off feeling Roger has been missing every day.  It's that feeling of Mommy's-got-nothing-more-important-to-do-than-spend-time-with-me-doing-something-I-enjoy, because that is the most important thing.

Photo courtesy of AKD
This week we have stayed home as much as possible.  We built block towers.  We jumped on the trampoline with the sprinkler going underneath.  We swam in the pool together.  We read books.  We played with trucks.  We drew pictures.  We played board and card games.  We sat on the porch swing together.  I got up early and stayed up late to do what needed to be done to keep the house running, making these "days off" possible.  And it has been worth every moment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finding Rainbows

I was disappointed.  I had tears in my eyes as I told MC that none of his friends could come over because they were all busy doing other things that day.

MC was devastated. 
This isn't the first time we've had this conversation.  No one is ever able to come play with him*.  I don't know how MC feels about this whole business (because I don't want to plant thoughts in his head by bringing it up), but I'm beginning to wonder if it's me or him or if I'm just paranoid (I'm leaning toward paranoid because the alternatives are just too sad to contemplate).  What's wrong with us?  Do they just not like us?

* Technically not true, however, it is true that more than half the time we can't get any of his friends to come over.

Anyway, no one could play, and MC dissolved into tears.  Messy, noisy, the-world-is-ending tears.  He had been so looking forward to hanging out with a friend.  You know how a little piece of your heart dies when your child experiences disappointment?  Yeah.  That.

I told him I would play with him.  I would be his friend.  I won't say he perked right up, but at least he stopped crying.
45 Pictures, Images and Photos
{Image Source}

You know how, after it rains, the sun comes out, and there's a rainbow?  And even sometimes, the sun will be out while it's still raining and you can spot a rainbow then?

I always, always look for the rainbow.  Because to me, rainbows are not only God's promise to never destroy the world by flood again; to me, rainbows are God's promise that even after the darkest storm, the bleakest night, the most hopeless devastation, the sun will return, and it'll be OK.  Everything will be OK, because all things work together for good for those who love the LORD.

{I feel like I should mention that God's idea of OK is sometimes radically different than ours}

Today, as I was jumping with my boy on a sprinkler-soaked trampoline, I saw the rainbow.  Yes, an actual real-live rainbow right there in the trampoline, reminding me that everything is going to be OK.  I don't know how.  I don't know what OK will look like, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God's got this covered.  He's got it all covered.  All of our dashed hopes and dreams, all of our disappointments and failures--they'll all be OK.

Maybe you are going through a storm right now, a storm that seems endless and dark and void of hope.  Maybe you need a rainbow today, a reminder of God's endless love and providence.  My friend, this is for you.


I don't know when, I don't know how, I don't know what it will look like, but the storm will pass, the sun will return, and everything will be OK.

Look for the rainbow, my friends. It might not be where you expect, but it's there.

And we know that all things work together
for good to those who love God,
who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NIV

Another rainbow--one of MC's friend's plans changed :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mad Camping Pics

It was sort of an odd Independence Day for a lot of folks this year due to the holiday's falling on a Wednesday. We took the opportunity to head out for a camping trip a little farther away than we would normally go for a weekend--we headed to Madeline Island, which is one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior near Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Have I mentioned that I love Lake Superior? I went to school near Superior, and my favorite camping trips have involved the lake. Hubby even popped the question at Lake Superior. I love the rocky cliffs, the sea caves, and the sandy beaches. I love the lighthouses and the stories of storms and shipwreck. I love Superior's vast expanse.

But enough about my love affair with the best great lake...you came for the pictures, right?

Our trip began at Boy Scout camp, where AKD was just finishing up a week being a boy, earning merit badges in Lifesaving and Climbing.

The next day we headed to the ferry in Bayfield, which delivered us to the town of La Pointe on Madeline Island.
 We set up camp...
 and then got busy swimming... 
 and burying each other in the sand. 
 True story: Lake Superior is much warmer on the south shore.  The next morning, Sawblock and AKD headed out for an early morning paddle...
 through the sea caves along the shoreline.
 But they're not the only ones who kayaked!
 One day most of the boys rode their bikes the 7 or so miles into town, and Bubby and I met them for a picnic lunch and swim at this beach.
 You already know about the cliff jumping.  We also swam through sea caves and underwater tunnels.
We took a hike along the shoreline, stopping at beaches along the way.  This one had lots of rock cairns, so of course we had to build our own.
And Bubby found this itty-bitty froggy.
At this beach, the boys made a "raft" out of driftwood.
 
And Bubby learned to skip rocks.
 And there was more swimming and more kayaking and more biking and more hiking.  And relaxing by the fire with some s'mores.
 At the end of our time on Madeline Island, we packed up our stuff (and AKD did a little truck surfing) and headed back toward home.

Oh, what a great time we had!  I hope you enjoyed your holiday celebrations, too :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Fun To Do List: the new pool

You know, the one with the zipline and the climbing wall.

This was my activity choice, and we had a great time :)

AKD doing his Spiderman impression on the climbing wall

Cliff jumping
So there was lots of fun stuff at the pool--I didn't get a whole lot of pictures, because I was busy playing...but, in addition to the climbing and jumping cliff, there were 4 slides in the play area, including one that was wide enough for our whole family to go down at one time (and we did), a zipline that MC and AKD both zipped on,

video

and a lazy river, along with lots of sprinkling and spraying things.

Playing in the sprinkles


The best part?
MC jumped.  Lots of times.  Told you he was brave.

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Here's the updated Summer Fun To-Do List.  With a little less than half of the summer gone, we are a little more than half done with our list
  • the new pool--the one with a zipline and a climbing wall you can jump off of into the water  Done. Zippily.
  • cave (ahhh, 50* F year-round)
  • take a picnic lunch and bike along the river in the city, play in the fountain, and watch the barges
  • indoor waterpark
  • mountain biking with friends Done. Exuberantly.
  • kayaking (perhaps in Colorado) Done, but not the Colorado part.
  • trampoline place Done. Flyingly.
  • inflatable jumpy place Done. Boingingly.
  • big zoo
  • hike to the waterfall Done. Beautifully.
  • take a train ride Done. Chuggingly.
  • beach--the one at the man made lake, with the really cool play structure nearby

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Big J, Little j, what begins with J?

Why Jerry Jordan's jelly jar and jam begin that way, of course.

That little rhyme from Dr. Suess's ABC was running through my head this morning as I successfully completed my first ever jam-making experience.  It was my own little jam session...ha ha {groan}.

That's right: I am now the proud owner of 9 half-pint jars (plus a leftover 1/2 cup) of strawberry jam.


Yummy!

I used this recipe from my Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Just FYI, 2 qt of strawberries equals about 3 pounds of strawberries, and it's equivalent to about 5 cups of crushed strawberries.

Oh, and use a really big pot.  Trust me on this.


I just love the little popping sound that lets me know the jars are sealed.  :)
Now I just need to keep the family stocked with yummy homemade honey-whole wheat bread to eat spread with the jam...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Deadheading and Weeding

On Thursday and Friday, I deadheaded.  On Saturday I weeded.  As you can imagine (or maybe not, if you're not a gardener), there was quite a bit of deadheading and weeding to do after I had been absent for a week.  And actually, I haven't really weeded the garden all season, so it was kind of a jungle out there.



Just in case you're thinking that deadheading is a task that involves heavy metal music and sharp implements, you're half right. Deadheading is the process of cutting dead flowers off of plants so that new flowers will grow.  You see, the purpose of flowers is to attract pollinators so that the plant can produce seeds. Once a flower has been pollinated, the plant diverts its resources into producing seeds, rather than producing more flowers.  By removing the distraction (if you will) of developing seeds, the plant is able to focus on flowers.

Weeds are another story.  Weeds grow up and choke useful plants, diverting resources they need to produce fruit.  With the removal of the weeds, the plants are then able to use the limited resources of soil, light, and water to grow and produce food.

 
As I worked, I was reminded how this is something that must be done continually.  You can't just do it once and be done, it's a constant renewal of effort.  The blooms are always fading, the weeds are always growing, and if I want to have beautiful flowers and yummy vegetables, I must deal with the weeds and the faded blooms.

It's the same way in my spiritual life--I need to put forth a constant daily effort to clear away the distractions and barriers to living in Christ--to deadhead my soul and weed around my heart.  Each new day I must recommit myself to following Christ, to continually choose the ways that lead to life.  I can't just do it once and be done.  I cannot slide into complacency, because the blooms continue to fade, distracting me away from my purpose, and the weeds continue to grow, choking my spirit and stealing my resources.


No, if I want to bloom in Christ, if I want to produce spiritual fruit, I must choose every day to follow Christ.

Inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 
2 Corinthians 4:16b

When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified,
and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
John 15:8 (AMP)

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 (NLT)
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