Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Library Challenges

I have 2 hours and 12 minutes until my life changes. My regional library system, in an attempt to keep the work load of our lovely and quiet librarians manageable, is halving the number of books one can reserve via our on line reservation system. Gasp. How can they do this to me? Us? We? I live with my reservation system. I love my reservation system. We are deeply close and personal best friends, when I'm not perusing Amazon at the same time, determining the latest and yes, greatest books for the littles. How I am going to live? Adapt? Change? 

 I am going to set up an on line account for an unsuspecting male in our house. I am going to help him reserve some books, and he's going to sigh and say, “you have book and coffee issues.”And I'll smile and hit, submit request.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cause my Punkins' Love Pumpkins...

Impromptu visits are the best. The little punkins' and I made an impromptu visit to the pumpkin patch after school yesterday.

 Perfect moments and perfect mud.
 Scones anyone?
 Sitting pretty.
 Sitting, at all.
 ...if you want one of these. Yes, I bribe them,
to get pictures of punkins' and pumpkins!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Soccer Season Officially Over

 The soccer season is officially over. Brother really enjoyed his time on the field with both his coaches and his teammates. He even ended the year scoring the last goal of the season for his team and his first goal ever. It doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Young Woman of Words

This daughter, not yet woman, is filled with words. Her love of words is with her all her day. She is working hard to form and shape them with care. Diligent to dare. Whether soaking them in or shaping them without, she sets forth a stillness that encourages me to form words wisely. For she lives on the edge of her seat, soaking them all in.

Favorite words right now. Trying to live them. Trying to speak them. 

Truth, trust, transparency.
Small, still, silence.
Real, resolute, responding.
Query, question, quest.
Probe, persist, presence. 
Open, optimist, ocular.
Necessitate, needy, now.
Grasp. Grace. God.

Let us be like lace. Letting light shine in, and illuminating inner rooms.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Little Boy Bean

Little Boy Bean
Long and lean, little boy bean.
Tall and lean, face so clean.
Eyes wide, longer stride.
I shrink, you grow.

He's not so little anymore.
He's losing more teeth each day, but he always keeps his sense of humor! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

First Fire of the Season

The first fire of the season is glowing. The house has a distinctly smokey sweet smell. My lighting weapon when the wood man is getting home late? The blow torch!

I'm about to dive into, It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street by Emma Williams. 

Today was blessed with a soccer win and then some long overdue yard work. I finally finished the gutters! The kiddos relished five hours to do absolutely nothing. Nothing in my mind, everything in theirs.

They did manage to watch a DVD about  American Government for Kids. They also made swords and arrows and became Assyrians, which they have been studying at Classical Conversations as of late. (The kids attend school 4 days a week and join a CC community one day a week.) Loving the resources here:

Classical Conversations Cycle 1

The week is finally over. The rain pouring down. The leaves are yellowing and falling, but it will be weeks before the raking begins.

Praying as you light fires this fall that your loved ones and children will find a warm nest to lay their head.

Recommending for rainy afternoons:

The Story of Classical Music by Darren Henley. Brother pulled some yarn right up to the cd player and worked on a variety of knots, all while soaking in the sounds.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Panoramas of the Painted Hills

My favorite pictures and kids from last week's adventures. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Powell's Books: To be or not to be, that is the question

I guess I still have a bit of the "book business" in me. I can't help but offer my two cents about my favorite book store. Or, here's another theory for you: The rain has begun in Oregon and so has the writing season.

A few years back, I learned you scrapbook in hot Southern summers. But, in the rainy West, we write during the fall, winter, and spring as it pours all around us. Here's to hoping it pours books and coffee this fall.

  Photo courtesy of the Powell's website

Awake during early hours, books were on the brain. Powell's Books, birthed by Michael Powell in 1971, is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Forty one years old and still going strong. I love Powell's, but unfortunately, I don't get there often enough. When I visit, I'm chronically low on time and yet I still manage to spend a bundle. The point? I was dreaming of how I would change Powell's if I was at the helm. Arrogant or inventive? You decide.

Let's begin in children's books, because all good things begin with children. They are our future and our future readers. Powell's has an amazing book collection for children and I work their stacks. I go in drooling like an infant and leave my finger prints like a toddler over all the books. I write down titles I hope and expect my library will have, and many times they do! And then I dig for really old stories you just can't find anymore. These are the books I bring home. Books that will last forever in our hands and in our hearts.

Today's technology will change in a few years. However, paper will last. Think papyrus. At least for a little while. Then there's the fact that paper is in my blood. Mother. Woman. Paper preserver. My books balance my stacks.

So let's begin in the children's book arena. All the children's bookcases should be in a circle. Children move in circles. They circle themselves, they circle each other, and they dance circles around the room. Children like mazes, but parents don't. Children get lost in a maze, amazingly fast. Please put all the children's bookcases facing a carpeted area in a circular pattern. Let the stacks hold hands with just enough space between them for children to jump in and join the circle.

The inner circle ought to have very large block like toys anchored into the floor. Keeping even the busiest children busy with a book “station”. Each side of the book station should tell a story or have a theme. Introduce a new author each month through images. Interact with an author, with or without a screen. Let the authors read them the story right there, and also during interactive author visits and book signings for kids. In person would be awesome, but what if author clips and interactives were talking to the kids. Showing them around their space? Explaining how to use the library? A variety of amazing information could flow in the circle of stacks. Powell's has plenty of staff around and they all look relaxed, staff should pick up a children's story and read at the top of each hour. Read a masterpiece in five minutes, or five minutes of a masterpiece to little ears.

At Powell's little people should have the opportunity to create masterpieces, as well as hear them. Art books and art classes go together well. Hold an art class in the mall once a month. Pass out paper, crayons, and pencils and teach kids to not only read about drawing, but try it. Artfully open minds.

Invite preschools to come for field trips. Let them experience living books. Books breathe as children open pages. Open pages, open minds. Call it early child literacy if you wish, but teach children to help books breathe. In winter, put an electric fireplace in the circle. Read around the fire. Read with a cocoa. Read to me and I'll read to you.

Powell's should keep paying it forward to the littlest people. (Is that a new slogan?) I love what I've read of Powell's It's for Kids program, but until I went searching on Powell's and charity, I wasn't aware they did anything at all in the community. I would love to see Powell's donate books to local foster children or Head Start, our littlest readers (If they don't already.). Keep paying it forward, in new and creative ways, and not just in the Portland metro. Reach beyond your home town with more than online orders. Reading levels the playing field of life. Reading is a boost out of the booster chair and into the driver's seat of life. It's a hot air balloon ride that lets you see the valley below. Reading is perspective. Reading is living.

For more sophisticated readers, the tween and teen books should be separate from the little people books. Place them on the backside of our tall brown circular sententials guarding the inner circle of the littles. Teens like anonymity and don't often want to be seen with their younger siblings. Sure, they'd love their own cool lounge, but placing their books on the outside of the inner circle would work just fine with a few big chairs here and there. Us fossilized readers (that is, parents) can disappear inside the circle with younger children and the teens can exit the circle to find themselves. Powell's, an African village, where teens are sent out to find their way in the world. In time, they will find their way back into the village circle.

On their journey, introduce today's teens to the classics. Present a wide variety of opinions, not just the liberal ones or the super conservative ones. Let them be heard. Expect respect. A mini School of Athens at Powell's once a week. Great minds discuss ideas (Eleanor Roosevelt). Give them a chance to breathe and to think about what it is they think about. Offer teens a safe place to expand their horizons. Offer teens a better world. At a time when it's tempting to focus on me, myself and I, offer them a greater world. The classics were written for you and I, for us. Help teenagers find themselves in the classics.

Now let's talk about the home schooler. You know they exist, and in fact, they are little gnomes of the forest having their own adventures in places less travelled. Well Powell's, you would have more of them in your store if you stocked a better selection of home schooling books and curricula. But, that's all I'll say about that, because I love the east side store that has leaps and bounds more material than you. I don't want you to compete against them. Let's keep some niches. Independent book stores should help each other out, don't you think?

And now my “brothers and sisters, (authors) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 Dear author, your books will endure, they will pass the test of time, when you write what is worthy. What is worthy is timeless. Be worthy of what is timeless.

Coffee, books and culture may they keep connecting us in the future. May the best books win, and see you in the circle!

Friday, October 12, 2012


Giants of the faith are often reluctant to obey God. We of faith are asked to proclaim living, being, breathing, and relating with our Creator. Yet, we are reluctant and unsure. How will this happen? We are not alone in our questioning God.

How can I proclaim Christ? Me, Moses, a plain old shepherd. Once a prince, but no more, I threw away princely privilege the day I killed that man. I was balancing both worlds. Poorly, but I was. It was taking a toll on me, but I was getting it done. I lived in between. One foot in Egypt and one foot in with the Jews, the outcasts and slaves. My family. My heart was torn. I was hearing, “Throw both feet in with Me and take those shoes off. This is holy ground. Walk barefoot. Tread lightly. Listen closely.” God said, “I AM.”

I was standing next to a burning bush, but really walking over hot coals. He told me it was time to use those princely roots, that privilege, that power, to walk with exiles and outcasts. Time to leave behind a shepherd's life, but not the way I expected. I heard, “Proclaim me. Use words. Staffs. Rock. Clouds. Fire. Water.” I was hesitant. It would cost me everything. But how could I say no to my Friend? The scales tipped and I lost my balance. I lost my reputation. I lost the life of a prince and the life of a shepherd. Uncharted territory lay ahead and with a whole tribe of people I had been trying to forget my whole life when He said, “Set my people free.”


How can I proclaim Christ? Me, Samuel, a small boy. I'm little. I don't have influence. I do what adults tell me to. My mother wanted me so bad she gave me up. She prayed me into the family and then sent me away. No one asked what I wanted. Everyone says God has an amazing future for me, but I want my family. This temple is cold at night. There are no other children. I lay awake. I cry and miss them. I want to go home. I want to be like other children. Why am I here? Why am I set apart? I want to be like everyone else, but I'm strange. I hear voices. 

I thought it was Eli. The voice was old and wise and kind. I ran right to Eli. I ran to find out what he wanted and Eli said it was God. He said, “Listen.” I was listening and then the Lord spoke and said, “I am about to do something....”

Le Seigneur dit: Je suis sur le point de faire quelque chose ....

How can I proclaim Christ? Me, Ezekiel, an exhausted pastor. I have given everything to my calling. I have given up everything to obey. My wife died young. He took her, to teach His people. I was not allowed to mourn. I have nothing. I am a pastor, prophet, priest. I proclaim, but they don't listen. They don't care. My people decimate themselves with their own actions. They care not for God, nor for each other. Yet, He keeps telling me to proclaim Him. He said unto me, Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll, then go and speak to the people of Israel. " So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me:" Son of man, eat this scroll I give you and fill your stomach with it. "So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

En hij zeide tot mij: 'Mensenkind, eet wat is voor u, eet deze boekrol, ga dan naar en spreken met het volk van Israël. " Dus ik mijn mond open, en hij gaf me de bladeren te eten.Toen zei hij tegen mij: 'Mensenkind, eet deze boekrol Ik geef je en vul je maag mee. "Dus ik at het, en het smaakte zo zoet als honing in mijn mond.

How can I proclaim Christ? I, Gideon, the weakest of the weak. Look at me! What do you see? I am hiding in this wine press trying to thresh wheat to fill our empty bellies. I've been hungry for seven years. I am nothing and my family is nothing. Why me? And then the Lord appeared to me (Gideon) and he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

"ה 'היא איתך, לוחם אדיר. לך בכוח שיש לך ולשמור את ישראל את ידו של מדין. אני לא שולח
אותך? "

How can I proclaim Christ? Me, a busy mother who struggles to raise her own children. Today has many worries. There is never enough time or enough love to make their aches alright. We live in a time when nothing is respected but rebellion and selfishness. I struggle to help my children have courage and be respectable, and it's a losing battle! 

Tending children is a lot like tending sheep and people respect it the same. They tell you otherwise, but you know your rank on the hierarchy. No rank. I'm to encourage unloved kids? Kids enslaved in a world system where there is no love, only leverage. Me? The world says their destiny is set and their future wrote by the bricks of life they've accumulated. You want me to tell them You have a future for them and you will open the vast sea that accesses freedom? I'm going to do that? Me, of no rank? And then He said, “I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free.”

Я слышал их стоны и пришли, чтобы освободить их.

How can I proclaim Christ? Me, a woman alone. I have nothing. I am nothing. That's what you tell me. But, you will not put me in your box. I am unique. Yet, each day a million little things remind me I am alone. You remind me. I provide for myself, no one else will, in a world where connections mean everything. If I were male the scales would tip in my favor. Each day I am reminded my life hangs in the balance. I am Naomi. I am Ruth. I am white. I am black. I am African. I am Asian. I am right in front of you. I am. Yet, you do your best to not see me. Well, I see you. Each day is a struggle to survive, but I will thrive. I will show you. I will overcome and when I do I will be a force to contend with and I will lift others up. You won't stop me. My voice will be heard. I keep marching forward because He tells me, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Katika mambo haya yote sisi ni zaidi ya kushinda, kwa yeye aliyetupenda.

How can I proclaim Christ? Me, a small student. One of many. Indistinguishable from the rest as far as the world is concerned. I'm trying to be seen, to be heard, to have a voice. I want to learn. I want to know what you won't tell me. I haven't given up yet, but at the same time I'm living for another world. I forget that sometimes. Along with my math and spelling. I'm supposed to live out loud? I know I should set one foot in front of the other today. I will say yes today. The small moments of my life add up. They become a life. They become a light to others. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Ya sea que coman o beban o hagan cualquier otra cosa, háganlo todo para la gloria de Dios.

Reluctant men, women and children proclaim Christ. They live Christ. They rise above circumstances. They overcome. They say “yes” even when it costs them. He makes us to overcome that we may live. In a world where there is pain, poverty, confusion and death, there is life. There is a LIFE. Lead others to life. 

להתגבר על ולהוביל אחרים לחיים.

Moses = Exodus 3, Thai
Samuel = Samuel 3, French
Ezekiel = Ezekiel 3, Dutch
Gideon = Judges 6, Hebrew
Mother = Acts 7, Russian
Woman alone = Romans 8, Swahili
Student = 1 Corinthians 10, Spanish 

Language translation courtesy of Google Translate
Please forgive any incorrect grammar! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Sister

May the wind be on your back today.
May you see new vistas even in the midst of valleys.
May you endeavour to follow the path of transformation.
May you be who you were created to be in God.
May fellow travellers be renewed by their encounter with you.
May the burden neither be to light, nor to heavy. 
May the load be only enough to build strength for the ascent.
May rivers of refreshing cross your path. 
May you find times of rest on weary days.
May you sit by babbling stream.
May animals refresh you and angels minister to you.
May rainbows grace your days and stars your nights.
May the voice of God from heaven guide you all your days.
May your journey never end and be filled with new joys.

I love you. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nurture, Nature

Four new peepers arrived today. We are raising chicks off season, but eggs at Easter are lovely. Children are pondering names. I'm voting for Mercy, Joy, Faith and Love. Sister will help, but these chicks belong to brother.

My mother hungered for art, for illumination.... She lit signal fires in the hills for her son to feel and follow. ~ My Reading Life by Pat Conroy 

Oh, Lord, Help us to light signal fires for our children. Help us be faithful to kindle a love of you and the habit of nurture within them.

(And yes, in case you noticed, he never takes that shirt off :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feet in the Forest

Learning among the trees today. Learning to care and nurture...

To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival. ~ Wendell Berry

  Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do. ~ Wendell Berry


Monday, October 1, 2012

Civil War Crisis

      We have a child in crisis!
She's declared she's a platypus.
   Neither Beaver, nor Duck.
We will be seeking intervention
           before a Civil War.

The Spirit Halloween Store, Coming to a Mall Near You

I love Fall. It's my favorite season and I love everything about it, except Halloween. 

We went trick or treating when I was a kid, but Halloween was not all consuming. These days Halloween eats up autumn beauty faster than 10 kids can eat a bag of candy.

We navigate Halloween each year. We don't try to steer around it, that's impossible. We chart a course through, and lead our children the best we can.

This morning I was pondering The Spirit Halloween Store and what kind of spirit I want influencing my life and my children.

A repost from archives past....

When we dialog with our kids about "magic" our conversations are based on Deuteronomy 18 regarding witchcraft, and also the Apostle Paul talking about how under Christ everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

We have several thoughts:

1. All power comes from God, even Satan's, since he was created by God. But, not all power is used for good, and some is truly used for evil intent. Until God rules on earth, we live in an imperfect and painful place.

2. The Bible says to stay away from the magic, sorcery, witches, wizards and the like, not to make another rule, but because God loves us and wants to protect us. He wants to be our first love and He does not want us to be involved with things that can entangle us and rob us of joy and our future.

3. If we are focused on power, apart from God and His power, we are missing the real power we could be tapped into.

4. If we want to see God do mighty works of power through us, in us, for us, and for others, we need to follow His way, even if we don't always understand. We shouldn't exchange God's power for something less. Relationship with God is amazing and freeing, not enslaving. Seeing God work in and through you and through others is the ultimate high.

5. In today's world, there is an increasing emphasis on the occult and evil power that did not exist when my husband and I were kids. Instead of a simple trick-or-treating night out, you don't know what you will see or hear. People go totally over the top. We don't want to put that in the kids' minds and then not have them be able to erase it. They have never struggled with nightmares, and we don't want them to.

6. Like the Bernstein Bear book about strangers, it is harder and harder to tell who is celebrating Halloween, magic, Harry Potter, etc... without thinking much about it, and those who truly celebrate and are involved in witchcraft. It's hard to tell a good person from a person who is rotten on the inside and might hurt them. So we steer clear of anything that could cause us future pain.

7. Lastly, the verse below from the Apostle Paul, just because we "can" doesn't mean we should. For example, we view pornography and witch craft in the same category. It enslaves those who get involved with it, or can. It can destroy people. And with that potential, it's just not worth it.

1 Corinthians 10: 23
Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

The Apostle Paul also says more strongly in 1 Corinthians 21:
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?"

I would rather experience God's power any day. I have had moments of true darkness in my life, where the enemy of my soul was seeking to destroy me. I know how dark, dark can be. I choose rather, to stay in the light.

1 John 1:5
"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all."

So we dialog with our kids and work out our beliefs the best we can, humbly walking before God and others. I don't want to tell others how to live. I simply would like the freedom to share my thoughts on this and for others to respect our beliefs.

I find it interesting that even in Paul Tough's book, How Children Succeed, we recognize that there is a time for children to just say no. Where is that line for you and for your children?

Thinking about, what it is, I think about. And where ever you find yourself today dear child of God, may you find the light.