Friday, October 31, 2008

Bubbles of Happiness

Happiness: it's something we'd all like more of, but find it difficult to achieve at times. In my recent reflections on happiness, two thoughts have emerged continually.

The first is this: happiness is an elusive goal. Having intentional goals to capture--or achieve--or produce--happiness doesn't always seem to work; in fact, many times it seems like just the opposite happens. The more I think, "I'm going to do this, and then I'll be happy," the less real happiness I seem to possess. We've all heard the fallacy of this line of thinking: "When I'm married, then I'll be happy" or "When my baby is potty-trained, then I'll be happy" or "When I get the house decorated for Christmas, then I'll be happy." But, despite my awareness of the falseness of that, I admit that, from time to time, I still find myself following those dead-end rabbit trails in my mind.

Here's my second recurring thought: I think about whether I'm happy way too much. Maybe the "am I happy?" question isn't the right one to ask. Maybe it should be "is God happy?" Is He pleased with me? Have I been faithful today? Have I done the right thing? Have I sat at His feet and rejoiced in His grace? Have I showed Christ in my interactions with others? I've learned from the first point, that when I reach for personal happiness, I sometimes come up empty-handed...but it's become even clearer to me recently that as I ask the more meaningful questions in this second point, happiness is very often a by-product of that. Any decent therapist knows that the more we navel-gaze, the more miserable we become. Get outward-focused, make a positive difference for someone else, and happiness finds us.

I say all of that as a prelude to writing about bubbles of happiness that I've encountered in my path recently. Bubbles, like happiness, are difficult to grasp when you reach for them...they are fleeting...they should be savored in the moment since they'll soon be gone...and they are beautiful. Sometimes in the course of my days, these bubbles of happiness rise up all around me; and I'm blind to them. I see right through them, never once realizing that, "hey, these are happy moments!" Certainly my camera and this blog help me to capture them and savor them, long after the bubble has popped and the moment is gone.


Bubble #1

Last Thursday, Josiah was seized with a strong desire to earn some money. Knowing that Grandpa and Grandma pay him a dime for every book that he reads, he proceeded to go to the bookshelf and pull off book after book after book to read. This occurred on a day when I was quite busy preparing for a large gathering of people that was coming the next evening, so I benefited greatly from Josiah's concentration on this project...and so did David who enjoyed the privilege of having his big brother read lots and lots of stories to him!


Bubble #2

Last Sunday afternoon was Josiah's last soccer game for this season (postponed from Saturday because of rain). He was delighted that, in addition to David and Tobin and I, his grandma was able to come watch him as well! (Jeff would have come, too, of course, but was gone for the afternoon and evening at a Pastoral Council retreat and was, sadly, unable to be in two places at once!) Josiah so badly wanted to score a goal during this game (as he has during most of them), especially to impress Grandma; and he did--the only one his team scored, in fact. I'm not sure if he or I was happier! :)
When Josiah played soccer a year and a half ago, he was only 4 years old and was definitely one of the youngest and least talented on his team. He had a great time, however, so I didn't regret the experience a bit; but it has been nice this time around to have him be older, stronger, and more skilled. He and Elissa (pictured above) were probably the best players on the team and were often found on defense together. Oddly enough to me, Josiah loves being the goalie (although they're not really allowed to have a goalie in this league)...odd to me because during my experience playing soccer, that was by far my least favorite position. All those balls coming at me! Horrors! ;)
Good sportsmanship is strongly emphasized in this league, and I've never seen a coach or parent lose their cool. It's a beautiful thing to see! (And see those scarlet trees in the background of the above photo...another truly beautiful thing!)
At the end of the game, Josiah was awarded a medal of participation which he proudly wore home; then he got his medal from the last time he played and draped them both around his teddy bear. How sweet is that! A little later, he gave one of the medals to David to wear and then hang on his shelf since Josiah didn't need two...and that is even sweeter. :)


Bubble #3

From time to time, the boys got very gung-ho about stickers; and the sticker bug hit them again recently. Fortunately for them, my dad had received a huge bag of stickers in the mail from some company who intended for him to pass them out to the children he treats in his medical practice; and he, not needing nearly all the stickers, passed them along to two very grateful children who happen to be related to him! :) The stickers had sat in our craft/homeschool closet for quite some time, just waiting for eager hands to grab for them. These pictures were taken on Monday morning when some serious "stickering" was in progress.
I enjoyed watching Josiah and David sort the stickers by type and make long rows of matching ones on their paper. They got along extremely well doing this project, and the fact that there were plenty of stickers made that easy, I suppose!


Bubble #4

Since the day of victory when I gathered the first egg from our chickens, we had consistently received one egg per day...which is great, but not when you have five hens that you expect to lay! Last Tuesday, I made a great discovery: one hen likes to lay her eggs in the chicken coop (where we wanted them all to lay since it's easy to reach them); however, one or more of the other ones prefers laying under an old picnic table in their enclosure, so on this particular day, I discovered four eggs under there when I went out to gather the normal one from the coop! Later on in the day, I found another one under the table. To be clear, we did not have six eggs laid in one day--that would be pretty extraordinary to have more eggs in a day than hens--but our temperatures had been cool enough to refrigerate the eggs during the extra time they were left outside so I happily gathered them up and brought them in, gratified to know that our hens were not all duds after all. :)


Bubble #5

What are you doing, Tobin Bear? Reaching for David's bicycle helmet, hung on the handlebar of his tricycle? Does that look interesting to you? Don't you know you might pull the whole tricycle over on top of yourself?
Ah, now you're just going to smile for the camera and act all innocent? You think you can fool me? I know what you're up to, little one. You're just making us all fall in love with you more and more; that's what you're doing!


Bubble #6

On Wednesday, Jeff bought something for himself that he's been wanting for a very long time--a food processor. (In my defense, I didn't know he wanted it or I would have gotten it for him!) He immediately got it set up and used it to make salsa which he then canned. Even Josiah got into the act, dropping jalapenos down the long tunnel to be ground up finely.


Bubble #7

Yesterday, as my mother raked up pine needles to use for mulching some flowerbeds, David got to be outside with her and had so much fun cavorting as she worked. She would rake up a pile, he would jump in them (I don't know why, but jumping into pine needles just doesn't sound like much fun to me), then roll around, do somersaults, lie on his back and kick his feet up (like he's doing in the picture below), etc.
And then, even though it's hard to see in the picture below because I was taking these pictures from our house and my parents' swing set got in the way, he got to ride in the wheelbarrow as Grandma pushed it. Is life good or what?


Bubble #8

Tonight was our church's annual Hallelujah Party, a much-anticipated event in our household, particularly among the under-4-feet-tall crowd. I gave them an option of being a cowboy (with a sheriff's badge), a giraffe, a railroad conductor, or a joker--costumes we already had. :) Josiah instantly claimed the cowboy one (weren't you a cowboy last year? oh, yeah! you were; but hey, if it doesn't bother you to repeat, it doesn't bother me either!), and David, despite my guess that he would want to be the train man, steadfastly said he'd be the joker. Really, it's fitting, I suppose.

I asked David and Josiah to be still like statues so I could get a clear picture in the fading light, so this is the pose they gave me.
Then I asked them to look at each other...
...and then to give each other a hug. The cowboy sheriff hugs the joker, and there is peace on earth.
Meanwhile, this little guy stole the show. Not only was this green hat lots of fun for Tobin to hold and even chew, it also helped people identify what he was. If that long green thing is a stem, then...let's see...
...oh!...of course!...he's a chili pepper!
And now, at this late hour, my chili pepper, joker, cowboy, and their daddy are all sleeping peacefully--happily--and I'm off to join them. Tomorrow will undoubtedly bring more bubbles of happiness floating my way. May I have eyes to see them!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Updated AGAIN to add this video link. Jeff passed this along to me, and I found it thought-provoking and gripping. The part that I found particularly chilling was the quote by Obama about his daughters: "but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." How much further from Psalm 127:3-5 can a person get?????

Updated to add a few more points under "Other Thoughts"...

It occurred to me recently that I haven't mentioned a word about the upcoming election--and perhaps I should. Otherwise, my sons may be sitting around together, in 50 years or so, reading through this blog (surely, they'll be doing that; they'll certainly treasure every word I write!) when puzzlement strikes: "What? There's no mention of the election in 2008? What was Mom thinking? Didn't she know that was THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN HISTORY?" Can you detect my wry grin as I write this?

I do have lots of thoughts about the election...and about politics in general. Even though my initial reaction is usually "ugh," I can go a bit deeper than that. ;)

First, let me say that I used to be more motivated politically, even to the point of going to Washington, D.C. for marches and holding signs on street corners to protest. And then I lived in Israel. When I returned, I was disheartened--"sickened" might be a more accurate word--at the way so many Christians in our country seemed absolutely blinded to the larger world around them. The equation of America = God's kingdom is so completely false that I can hardly believe that some live as if it is true. Reading The Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd was a breath of fresh air, to put it mildly. It's not that I'm against voting (in fact, I have voted and will do so again); it's just that we need a little perspective, folks! God is working so powerfully all around the world, and He's really not limited at all by what the American public decides to do next Tuesday.

Ah, there's more to say about that; but I'll defer to someone who says it more eloquently than I could. Today I read this, written by Harvey Yoder, a local man whom we know and respect. I was so struck by it that I immediately emailed him to ask for permission to post it here, and he kindly agreed. This is what I think about the election...

An Election Reflection

We’ve heard a lot about how all-important the US presidential race is this year, as though the very survival of civilization rested on the outcome. I agree that the choices offered this year are significant, and that the question of how or whether to exercise the stewardship of the one vote each of us has deserves prayerful thought. The following, however, is an attempt to put things in a larger perspective, to help us think globally and not just nationally, to look at the larger historical picture and not just our own situation in this one corner of the globe.

First, it’s good to remember that the United States is only one of 230 nations in the world, and that it represents a mere 5% of the world's people (even though the US currently controls the majority of the world's wealth and military might). Biblically, all nations are of minor consequence in comparison to God’s worldwide, eternal kingdom. As God’s citizens, we might think less of governments simply ruling us and more about prayerfully urging them to act in more just and in less violent ways (I Timothy 2:1-6).

Second, we need to remind ourselves that a US president is the chief presider and leader of only one of three branches of a federal government, and that the judicial and legislative branches are equally deserving of prayer and concern. This three-part federal system, in turn, must share power with 50 states and commonwealths, each made up of county and municipal governments, and each responsible to the people. In other words, we are electing a presider of one branch of one part of a democracy made up of citizens, not choosing a monarch or dictator over a kingdom of mere subjects. Besides, each president's four-year term is only 1.7% of this nation's relatively brief 230-year history (which in turn represents only 5% of the total history of the world since the time of Abraham and Sarah).

Finally, we (US Americans) are not a “chosen people” whose culture and way of life is superior to everyone else’s. Take our national language, for example. Our one official tongue is English, mostly the language of white Caucasians. While English is popular worldwide as a second language, it is still only one of nearly 7000 spoken around the world. God has no favorite race, language or nationality.

So for perspective’s sake, we need to gain a humbler opinion of our importance, while respecting others' ways of thinking and living elsewhere in God’s world. Nationalistic pride would have us imagine ourselves, our culture, and our political contests to be the most important on the planet.

Well said, Harvey! Thank you!!!

On the other hand, when I do venture into the world of politics and exercise my right to vote, I find that I keep coming back to the issue that was the first to ever grab me and the first about which I educated myself. Abortion. I've written before about this issue, so I won't repeat everything here (and, consequently, will probably come across very one-sided and harsh...if you're bothered, go read my earlier post to get a bigger picture); but I must admit that I find myself hugely swayed by how each candidate stands on this particular issue. I can't see myself ever voting for someone who didn't attempt to limit abortion or--worse by far--who tried to knock down the few restrictions we do have in this country against it. It's just not right--for the babies, for the parents, for the culture of our nation as a whole.

It's. Just. Not. Right.

With the belief that life begins at conception, the idea of protecting someone's choice--when it involves murdering another human being--is simply beyond comprehension to me. And so, when Sarah Palin was selected as McCain's running mate, I was excited--thrilled!--at a such a concrete example of a pro-life family. I've given away who I'm voting for, of course; but I do hope to not receive a barrage of hateful comments.

Other thoughts:
~ I'm happy that Obama has broken the racial barrier. In my book, being pro-life also means being anti-racism, so I'm very grateful to see this historic moment.
~ I don't have much personal respect for either Obama or McCain. I think politics in this fallen world is a messy business, and they are both polluted with it. I do, however, respect them as part of the authority God has placed over me at this time.
~ I admire Sarah Palin for many reasons, but have no illusions that she's perfect--in fact, if I were in her shoes, I would have handled certain issues very, very differently.
~ As far as the war in Iraq, another hot campaign topic, I have (and have had for a long time) very serious misgivings about it for a multitude of reasons.
~ I'm not in favor of government getting any "bigger" than it already is. Take the issue of health care: ever since I did a research paper in high school about socialized medicine, I've been against it strongly. In our current situation, with Jeff being self-employed and obviously not receiving health insurance through his work, we have found a very satisfactory answer to that "problem" through our participation in Samaritan Ministries. I don't think more government intervention is the key to the health care problems our country faces.

In the end, I find myself back at the beginning--saying "ugh" about the very idea of politics. However, I am immensely encouraged today by the piece by Harvey Yoder and the reminder that God is big--so, SO much bigger than this country and this election. Thanks be to God for His "worldwide, eternal kingdom" of true peace and justice, love and mercy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simple Sunday - Mountain View

~ thankful for this view from our front window: trees gradually losing their leaves in autumn's descent, fields bare after the harvest, and, most of all, the mountains rising up as symbols of security and strength
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
~ Psalm 121:1-2

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Yesterday was a special day: the 67th birthday of an extraordinary woman--the woman whom I love and admire the most in the whole wide world! In honor of the occasion, here are a few words about my beloved mother.

B - bold. Mother views most of life in black and white and has a courageous attitude about dealing with it. When she decides to act, she does it quickly and does not give in to fear (or laziness or anything else that might slow her down!). :)

A - astonishing. I've written before about how highly I respect her for the way she raised me and poured herself out for her family (as well as in other spheres of influence and service). I am astonished at how much she accomplished and how well she did it.

R - righteous. Mother lived a life of still living it, as a matter of fact! :) Her life-long heart's desire has been to follow God and live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

B - beautiful. She defined true beauty for me by her eagerness to be a lady--focused most of all on beauty of the heart which then spilled over to the kind of beauty which shows itself primarily in smile lines. She taught me by her example that people won't remember you by your amazing hair color or the half hour you spent applying your perfect makeup, but they will remember your smile and your love. :)

A - available. No matter what she's doing when I knock on her door or call her on the telephone, Mother drops everything and makes me feel like she has nothing better in the world than attending to my needs and wants. She sets a high standard in this area--an area in which I seriously need to grow.

R - reflective. Mother is an introvert and needs time away from people to be still and reflect; I think she passed this characteristic down to me! Unfortunately for her, this time of reflection often seems to come in the middle of the night when she can't sleep but lies awake mulling over the events of the day or concerns that are pressing. Unfortunately for me, her name doesn't contain a "U" because if it did, I would use the word "uncomplaining" for that is what she is. Even when she's awake for several hours in the night, she'll keep a positive attitude about it and perhaps cheerfully announce the next day, "Well, I got caught up on my devotional reading--all three daily books that I'm using--in the middle of the night!" And here I was all ready to complain that Tobin got me out of bed so early at 6:15 a.m. Gulp...I think I'll keep that to myself. :)

A - amazing. Mother amazes me, and the fact that God placed me in her family to be her daughter is yet another evidence of His amazing grace.

And now, a few pictures. Of course, I've shared many pictures of my mother in this blog previously; but for this post, I reached back into my picture archives of 2006, before I started blogging, and found these treasures...
~ Mother watching a baptism at a local river
~ Mother and Josiah watching the ground being leveled before my parents' carport was put up...I'm constantly grateful for how involved my mother is with my sons...she is quick to include them when various interesting things are happening around here, and she is patient enough to explain what is going on and answer their questions, too
~ Mother raking leaves on a beautiful fall day...I don't know anyone at all who shows more love in the area of acts of service than she does
~ in Virginia Beach when we stayed in a beachside hotel to attend a conference
~ having fun with the boys on Christmas morning...she is quick to offer her lap for them to sit on or her arms for them to jump into...I hope they give her at least a fraction of the joy she gives to them

All that is left to say is that I love you very much, Mother; and I'm unspeakably blessed to be your girl.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Already?

Over supper tonight, my dad mentioned that he noticed that even though I had changed the header of my blog, I hadn't posted anything new for a while.

Really? Has it been a few days? Is it truly Wednesday night already, and my last post was Sunday? Have I not written one tiny bit about our life this week? Have I not shared any pictures? Not even this one of Josiah and David hanging out with Tobin in the playpen?
Oh me, oh my,
How the time does fly!

So, hello, Wednesday...and goodbye. Soon Thursday will be here with a forecast of a "slight chance of blogging" with a "heavy busy-ness advisory." I'll see you sometime, dear blog...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simple Sunday - Transformation

~ thankful for transformation...for the process of change that occurs in the leaves each year...and for the process of transformation in me...I am not the same person as I was last year or even last week; and, in the future, I will be different than I am now...when I get discouraged by my failures, I need to remember the old song by Joel Hemphill that says,
"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be,
He's still working on me."
~ one of our maples, on October 12
~ the same maple, on October 15
~ the same maple again, on October quickly the process of transformation in this tree! slowly I find myself being transformed...still, I find myself uplifted by this visual reminder of glorious change; and when I see these leaves, I will be reminded of God at work within me

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's the Little Things...

...that make me smile. Like tonight, for instance, I'm extra happy simply because I have new slippers to cushion my feet. These are not just any slippers either! Pink...fuzzy...a flip-flop style...definitely a change for me. When I first saw flip-flop slippers a few years ago (the first time I noticed them was when my sister-in-law Lori came to visit and brought hers), I thought they were silly. :) I mean, slippers are supposed to keep your feet warm, right? How could they do that if the top was open?

However, when my old slippers finally gave up the ghost (which was a long process, previously written about here...I kept talking myself out of buying new slippers), I decided to be daring and get these "silly" slippers (so brave of me, I know! I really live life on the edge). And amazingly, I love them!!! When I had regular slippers, I found that my feet got so hot that I had to kick off the slippers before too long. But then my feet got too cold without something on them, so I had to put the slippers back on. And back and forth, I would go. With these flip-flop slippers, however, I don't have that problem since they provide just the right balance of warmth and coolness for me. Even better, the price was something about which I could feel good: $6.00. :)

I didn't mean to do a commercial for this kind of slippers, but I did want to simply express gratitude for the small things that make life so comfortable. Tonight, besides all the big important stuff for which I give thanks, I also am grateful for these.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just a Photo Tonight...

...of the sweetest little 9 month old I know.
Tobin, you truly remind me that God is very, very good!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

I recently noticed and photographed a sunset. I guess today it was time for a magnificent sunrise to finish the pair? :)

When I spotted the sky this morning, I knew I had to drop everything and grab the camera. Fortunately for Tobin, I wasn't holding him at the time. :)
I took the next picture and noticed the corner of the swing set in it, so I thought...
"That's kind of neat; let's show more of it!"
The sky continued to lighten, and I was reminded of how quickly sunrises and sunsets occur. In just a few moments, the sun is up or it's down; and there isn't much time to linger or you'll miss it.
Even the sky itself was beautiful this morning.

Psalm 19 comes to mind; it begins this way in The Message:

1-2 God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

3-4 Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

4-5 God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun's a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

6 That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Which Came First?

The chicken or the egg?

In our case, the chickens clearly came first...all six of them that currently occupy our chicken coop and fenced enclosure. We have five hens and one flashy rooster, and one of those hens has finally figured out what her purpose in life is: to lay eggs for us, of course!

Finally--finally!--the egg came. I had been watching and waiting for it and had almost wondered if we needed to do something differently to convince our hens to lay when suddenly, last evening, there it was--a beautiful brown egg in the chicken coop, exactly where we were hoping the eggs would be laid (to make it easier for us to reach them). I was absolutely thrilled! :)
This morning, I nominated myself as the fortunate recipient of the first egg (which actually wasn't as selfish of me as it sounds since Jeff isn't a huge egg fan--and he was at work anyway--and Josiah and David think they don't like eggs so much--although since they're in our family, they are "privileged" to eat eggs when served). I cracked that beautiful egg into our frying pan...
...then gently laid it on mustard-smeared bread, covered it with grated cheese, and put several huge green olives on top.
A fried egg sandwich--delicious!!!
Lo and behold, when I went outside this afternoon, there was another egg in nearly the same spot as the first one. I think I could get used to this!

Collecting eggs from our very own chickens makes me feel so very Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Field Trip...and Following Up

Our homeschool co-op had an optional field trip yesterday to a local corn maze, so I took Josiah and David while my mother stayed here with Tobin who was having a peaceful morning nap (and actually stayed in bed the whole time we were gone, making it an easy babysitting job for my instead of keeping herself busy with Tobin care, she used her time to do my laundry--lots of it...what a saint!).

I had never been to a corn maze so wasn't sure what to expect, but I was actually impressed by the variety of activities at the farm; it was definitely much more than a corn maze...which was good because the boys and I actually decided to not do the maze...or rather, to do it some time when Jeff is with us so that if we all get lost, he'll help us find our way out of there. :) In any case, we had tons of fun; and I'd be more than happy to make going there a new family fall tradition.

~ Josiah by an "outhouse"'s hard to tell what he's doing, but he's actually playing mini golf on a course there, and the last hole just happens to be up that ramp and in the outhouse :)
~ one of the boys' favorite things was this slide that actually "goes under the ground," as David excitedly and repeatedly informed me
~ duck races with old-fashioned pumps--what a neat idea!

~ this corn tunnel was a little less intimidating to the boys than the huge corn maze!
~ making music, the country bumpkin way :)
~ the boys really enjoyed these swings, especially when they got to bump into each other :) ~ David liked being on this because it made him taller than me
~ time for a little bowling...
~...and a tractor race...
~...before climbing on a cornstalk horse...
~...and a tractor
A merry time was had by all!


Now, the follow-up... I have been so appreciative of the responses--ALL of them--to my "Perfect" post. The thoughtfulness expressed by those who left comments really ministered to my soul and gave me excellent food for thought as I sought to change my perspective on the sad fact of truly being imperfect. :)

One of the reasons I decided to go ahead and write that post was because I would never want someone to look at my blog and feel discouraged because of how "put-together" I seem to be. I'm actually laughing as I write that because, really, how could they even think that? But I know how we are; and when we see a picture of brothers getting along well and we read a story about how tender they are, we think (often unconsciously), "It must be that way all the time in their household. What's wrong with me that my family can't be that way?" When I mentioned recently that I was starting to work on my Christmas letter project, I thought, "Oh dear, I hope no one assumes that I'm so organized that I'll surely have all my letters written, envelopes stuffed with correct addresses on them, stamped and ready to go by--oh, maybe the day after Thanksgiving, because that's just not how it is around here!" (In fact, every year I start valiantly in the "A" section of my address list, and then run out of steam somewhere around the "J" section." My friends with "W" last names are to be pitied because I never seem to get that far, and they probably think I've abandoned them.) But my point is that it's so incredibly easy to take a snippet of success off someone's blog and build it into a huge idea of how "perfect" they are, when really, that's so far from the truth. (That's why I have a "Keepin' It Real" category of posts; they're a good reality check as well as being a lesson in humility for me.)

In the last few days, several things have stood out to me about this topic. First, when I was talking about this with my parents, my dad teased me by saying, "And you know how perfect my office is: a perfect mess!" Of course, his office isn't really that messy, but he does have some piles of assorted papers/medical journals/who knows what else sitting around in a few corners. :) I was reminded, once again, that almost everyone has places like that; and you know, they don't bother me when it's true of someone else. I don't see someone's messy corner in a blog post--like #7 in this post :) --and think, "Oh my goodness, how could they leave it like that?" In fact, I usually do quite the opposite and think, "I'm so glad I'm not the only one!" :)

Second, Sally's comment about my perspective on my mother being shaped differently than hers because I'm the youngest in a "small" family (which is funny to me because I've never thought of our family of four children being small, but I guess to Sally who grew up in a family of 10 children, it is!)...anyway, what she wrote about that was literally a brand new thought to me. I can't count how many times my mother has told me that she wasn't a perfect mother and she wishes she could change some things and she never did figure how best to handle this or that aspect of parenting, etc. I guess I unconsciously tune all of that out, however, and still maintain this image of her having it all together...and me not coming close to that. But Sally's comment made a lot of sense, and I'll keep it in mind.

Third, this post from Julie was exactly what I needed to read to alter my outlook on my imperfections to a much healthier perspective.

And finally, a quote from Ravi Zacharias, that was left by Lea in a comment on Debbie's blog, Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen: The primary purpose of a home is to reflect and to distribute the love of Christ. Anything that usurps that is idolatrous. Wow. What more can I say? Only that I long to leave idolatry behind me--the idolatry of worshipping the unattainable vision of a perfect home and perfect self--and press on to reflect and distribute the love of Christ...first, to the precious ones that, like me, call this space home, and then to all who enter or are reached from this place.