Gazing Upward
  • Reading and Writing
  • September13th

    11 Comments
    Last Friday, I was feeling a little blue. I wasn’t sure why. I think I was simply exhausted. The littles had had their first day of school, first ballet class, and first soccer practice. Caroline had a couple of doctor’s appointments. Scott was (and is) working long days to prepare for an upcoming trial. I finally realized that if I don’t want my wheat allergy to continue progressing toward full-blown Celiac Disease, I’m going to have to suck it up, say goodbye to some of my fave foods, and go gluten-free. And let’s face it, I hadn’t spent good quality time with the Lord. It wasn’t a horrible week. In fact, it had been pretty good. But I was dead tired.


    Enough about my own issues. My day was not unlike the days many of you often endure. We’re living through a challenging season. As high as our calling is as servants, wives, and mothers, it’s still difficult at the end of the day to smile and consider our job well done. Sometimes, it seems that we’re never done.

    So back to last Friday. All three kids were at school. After working out, I thought I’d check out the new used bookstore in town called “2nd and Charles.” And to my great delight, I found these:

    Two novels by Steinbeck, one of which I’m currently reading but could not find a good hardcover copy! (Sidenote: East of Eden is fabulous! And I’m only 7 chapters in.)

    One of my pleasures in life is reading. I read everything from mysteries and current bestsellers to biographies and Christian devotionals. But my favorite genre is classic literature, and preferably 19th century lit by British authors. I know…I sound pretty snobby. Or nerdy. Or both.
    But I digress. Back again to Friday when I discovered this treasure. This is the cover of The Grapes of Wrath, this particular edition published in 1967. I am convinced they had this book shrinkwrapped in plastic because it has no discoloration or foxing on the pages.

    Isn’t the dusk jacket beautiful? And this is the what the hardcover looks like…just like my mom’s copy! My mom has shelves and shelves of books that I have read or hope to soon read. And her copies are just beautiful. So I developed a habit of scouting out rare, old, or eye-pleasing copies of the books that I adore.

    I also found this copy of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

    Beautiful illustrations fill the pages.
    After the I left the bookstore, I wondered if my sudden joy was sinful. You know what I mean…. material possessions filling me with giddiness when really I should be relying on Christ as the source of my joy and vitality. But the Lord spoke to my heart with a reassurance that many things in this world He provides for our happiness. After all, He gifted the writers with their creativity and eloquence. He blessed the musicians with their talents and melodies. He created the coffee bean from the beginning of time with the knowledge that a savory cup of coffee could comfort and rejuvenate just as He desires. Perhaps He literally meant it when He inspired the verse, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” At 6 am in the morning, a sip of coffee makes me believe it. 🙂
    I recalled the passage in Lamentations 3 about His mercies being new every morning. And I wondered if just maybe God presents some of his mercies in the form of “happies” that uplift our spirit and energize us enough to take the next step forward. As long as we understand that He alone is our bread of life, we can partake of the minor joys of life with gratitude and delight.
    For me, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a glowing sunset, a sparkling glass of wine, an antique novel, an enticing read, a yellow tulip … all these things are little “happies” that can lighten my day within seconds. This book, which I uncovered in a London antiquarian bookstore years ago, intrigues me with its history and personalization.

    Leo V. Quimby…Belfast…Christmas 1881, From Sister Annie.

    This is the oldest book I own. And sometimes I’ll open the cover and stare in wonder at the the calligraphic writing, just pondering the personality of the being whose hands one beheld this literary work. What was his home like? A modest cabin or a glorious castle? How large was Leo’s family? Was Annie a true familial relation or a devoted nun? Or a forbidden love to the receiver of this holiday present? Isn’t it fun to imagine?

    Sometimes I lose myself in the magic of the object. And I am thankful that the Lord created such gifts. Because they’re a temporary diversion from the arduous task before us. A glorious and noble task, but one that demands attention, commitment, energy, love, prayer, and sacrifice. And aren’t you glad that God has such forethought, such innovation, such LOVE that He would create and inspire daily joys that can deliver a smile to our weary faces? I certainly am. So I do not feel at all guilty for bouncing out of the bookstore with my newfound literary treasures. Their beauty and literary flair gave me the umph to continue persevering. It was then that I realized my need to increase my awareness of everyday surprises and beauties that God may be orchestrating just for us. For our pleasure. For our enjoyment. For our inspiration. And sometimes, on those frustrating, hair-raising, or simply blue days…for our sanity. God is good…all the time.

    What are the little happies that make you smile?

  • May11th

    1 Comment

    Sorry for the lack of posts….I’ll get them going again. 🙂 Still no updates on our paperwork except that our approval (that is 2+months late) is supposedly coming this week or next. It’s been a very difficult wait. But we appreciate all of your prayers…Caroline needs them more than us.

    On a different note, a college friend asked me to contribute my Top 12 to a great site called “Domestic Ease.” Click here to read my top 12 ways to kickoff Spring, and have fun browsing the site. Great ideas and articles!

  • May29th

    2 Comments

    …this fabulous book.

    After my “Wild at Heart” post last week, Scott was inspired to get out this book,

    which was given to Carter by his Uncle Stuart on his 1st Christmas.
    From instructions for tying knots and camping to a list of books every boy should read, this book is packed with ideas and lessons to instill a love for adventure.
    An Amazon review describes the book as a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book’s ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own).”

    Scott thought that Virginia Grace was just as in need of a guidebook to adventure as her brother, so he headed to the bookstore and found the companion book, The Daring Book for Girls.
    The description of this book on Amazon says, “The Daring Book for Girls is the manual for everything that girls need to know—and that doesn’t mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it’s female heroes in history, secret note-passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it’s not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers—although that’s included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl’s invitation to adventure.

    And while I typically think my kids are naturally “wild,” this picture from today suggests they may need some inspiration for adventure. 🙂

  • May27th

    5 Comments

    Y’all….I just finished reading this article in the June 2010 issue of Parents magazine. And I’ve been laughing so hard that I made my kids laugh just at the sight of me. You HAVE to click on the link and read it…it’s by Jay Mohr, an actor and comedian, who shares a real-life potty-training story that will make you almost wet your own pants. You can appreciate the humor even if you’re not yet a parent. After you read, please come back and share your thoughts so I know I’m not the only one who thinks bathroom humor (more like diaper humor) is hilarious! 🙂

  • May21st

    5 Comments

    Today marks four weeks of being home as a foursome. It’s been an amazing and memorable month. It’s also been a crazy one. We’ve had more freak accidents (and near accidents) in the last 4 weeks than in the last year. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’m now constantly wavering between paranoia and prevention. Every time I hear a thud or a loud sound, I jump and wait for cries. I hold my breath as the kids come down the stairs. I’m constantly on edge at the playground. And I find myself saying “no,” “don’t,” and “stop” much too often.
    As Carter nears 2 1/2, he’s becoming stronger, bolder, more agile, and more adventurous. And it’s making me a nervous wreck. Then I recalled some words etched in my mind almost 9 years ago.
    “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. That is how he bears the image of God; that is what God made him to be.” (inside dust jacket of Wild at Heart)
    I read Wild at Heart in grad school. And even then, before marriage or children, John Eldredge succeeded in convincing me that “adventure is written into the heart of a man.” (p.13) I made a vow in 2001 that if God blessed me with sons, I would let my boys be boys. I would encourage them in their interests rather than hindering them out of my own fear.
    Oh, if only living it out were that simple. I’m not sure how to balance encouraging Carter’s warrior heart and nature with teaching him to be careful and avoid injury. I’m trying to take on the perspective that if the potential consequence aren’t life-threatening or life-debilitating, we can handle it. I mean, aren’t battle wounds (aka scars) cool?

    Climbing up the ladder into a treehouse…that was about 8 feet or higher off the ground.

    I guess moms weren’t allowed into the clubhouse. This was Carter shutting the trap door as he politely said, “No Mommy.”

    Looking out of the treehouse window.

    I should mention that this amazing treehouse at my cousin’s house was built by my uncle for his grandkids. He is a talented guy!
    I don’t really want Carter to become a motorcycle-driving, skydiving, bungee-jumping, thrill-seeking addict. But I do want him to run, jump, climb trees, play in treehouses… I long for him to explore, discover, and learn his strengths and limits. I want him to be wise but not always to play it safe. I want him to love with abandon and develop a fierce and passionate heart. I’d love for him to follow in his dad’s and uncle’s footsteps of exploring the backcountry of Denali, Alaska. I want him to grow into a man. I want him to dive into “a creative work worthy of God.” (p. 199) And all of this starts now with how I teach him to live and play.
    So I’m still gonna be holding my breath. But I’ll give him a wink and smile as he ventures forth. Veteran moms of boys….does it get any easier?