Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carving Pumpkins

The pure splendor wrapped up in this sweet October Sunday left me once again tip toeing around, creeping into unexplored spaces of my mind and heart.  This little spiritual walk I'm on continues to surprise me and leave me with my hands reaching up, waiting for more.

With the sun shining brightly and the breeze blowing lightly, I began preparing the picnic table in the backyard for an afternoon of pumpkin carving.  While the boys pulled their wagon loads of pumpkins around the house, I lined the table with paper, set out bowls to sort seeds into, and a displayed a wide array of creative tools, scoops and patterns for inspiration.

We selected our pumpkins and began what turned out to be a somewhat tedious process.  Just as we got started, and I found myself arm deep in yuck, my mind wandered off (as it too often does) and I got lost deep in thought, analysis and understanding.

Interestingly enough what I found myself pondering was the fact that we, as humans, journeying through our lives, aren't that unlike the pumpkins we were carving.

Each one of us, so uniquely made, completely one of kind.  Some round, some tall, some skinny and some not.  Some are flat, others thick skinned.  They come in shades from white to yellow to orange, red and green.  Indeed, there are no two alike.

The process each one must go through to become a masterpiece is different.  You never know exactly what's ahead until you open the pumpkin and peer deeply inside at the work to do be done.

Are you following me here?  Pumpkins, much like us, are messy inside.  When we first dig in we find so much to sort through, each one contains something slightly different than the last.  Yes, they all have pulp, some stringy, some mushy.  And seeds, of course.  Sorting through the seeds you often encounter a few that just aren't good.  They must be pulled away from the good seeds and tossed out.  Time and again, I find that even after sorting through the seeds, when I finally wash and prepare a batch for roasting I encounter a few bad ones I missed the first time around.  This is so true to real life.  How often in life do we go through something and think we have learned a valuable lesson, only to have the same issue resurface again later, and we realize that maybe we didn't learn quite everything we needed to the first time around?

It's interesting to notice how some pumpkins clean up a lot faster than others, they just seem perfect right from the start.  Obviously this doesn't make it a better pumpkin.  Just because it clean, and prepared doesn't mean that the finished product will shine brighter than the pumpkin that you had to spend extra time scooping, sorting and cleaning.

Then the carving begins, not always easy, or error free.  It is a process and things don't always go the way you had planned.  Sometimes you have no choice but to stop, think, recalculate, improvise and even ask for help.

Austin was quick to ask for help today, and as soon as I was there he made every attempt to just get up, run away and let me do the work.  Unfortunately, for him, that wasn't part of the bargain, so I made him sit there while we finished his work together.  Needless to say, he carved one pumpkin and headed off to enjoy an autumn afternoon playing outdoors.  Then there was Ry, who I watched struggle through each step (in part because he was working on a pumpkin nearly as large as himself....take note:  I had told him at least 10 times at the pumpkin patch that his choice would not be an easy one to work with, but hey, what does mom know?)  Anyhow, as he attempted to open his pumpkin up I offered guidance.  He ignored me.  I watched him struggle and get frustrated, but he repeatedly turned down my offers to help.  I stepped away and went back to my own project.  Ryan continued on diligently and finally got a good look inside his pumpkin.  He was pretty dismayed, but nowhere near ready to give up.  He dug, and he scooped, and dug some more.  He sorted and cleaned.  Everyone else finished up, and there he sat still working away.  I continued to encourage him and he pushed on, but finally he found himself with teary eyes and too much frustration to finish alone.

I absolutely related the above to what often happens in the real world.  We all have such different paths.  For some folks things just seem to come together as they stroll though life smiling, often comparing, turning a blind eye or not quite understanding why those around them can't quite keep up.  Then there are others who are happy to hand over their troubles and have someone else clean up their messes while they run as fast as they can in another direction.  And of course, there are those who struggle through ever step, afraid to ask for help, but longing to persevere.  Things take longer to learn, they trip over the same rock, and stumble in the same hole, over and over until they are ready to give up.  Thankfully, we are blessed with friends, family, or that complete stranger who's been watching from afar.  It seems that when we think we can't go on, there is usually someone who loves us, ready and willing to roll up their sleeves, open their heart and get dirty themselves if that's what it takes to get the job done.

At the end of the day, when the pumpkins are carved, whether it was a simple process or one that was a bit more challenging........the result is the same.   You place a candle inside, and those pumpkins all shine brightly.  Whether they showcase a scene of magnificence, or big, round, droopy eyes and a crooked, toothless grin, each one brings delight to your heart, smile to your face, and warmth to your inside.

And finally, where my thought ended was that we are exactly like those pumpkins.  It doesn't matter who we are, where we have been or what our finished product looks like.  As long as we have accepted Jesus, and we allow his light to shine brightly from deep within us, we too delight the hearts of those around us.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yes Days!!!!!

They bring dimples to cheeks that can only be reached through wide smiles.  They draw giggles, yippee's and genuine "thank you's" from the mouths of little boys.  They light up eyes that twinkle with delight so much that they brighten a room.  YES DAYS!  Those days that my cup is full, and I have enough left to give that I can answer each plea and request with a YES or a WHY NOT?

Days like today!  They are my favorites.  Simple days really.

Leaving the school parking lot two little boys quietly ask if we can go for smoothies at Juice Jungle, and I can say YES.  Two little boys want to stay and play a while chasing their friends in the front door and out the back, and climb rock piles, and I can say YES.

Back in the car and headed to my office to catch up on a little work, two little boys want to stop at Blue Moon and Allsport to pick out a little toy to entertain them while mommy works, and I can say YES.  Oh the joy that can be found in $3.75 worth of rubber zombies, or a new sketch book and pencils because I can say YES.

A trip to the grocery store and those same two guys bicker over dinner ideas.  Ry asks for a pot of my potato soup with breadsticks and Austin makes a good argument for bbq burgers, and I can say YES, of course I can make both.

Chocolate treats and ice cream after dinner?  Well of course I said YES!

I love days like today, so simple, so easy, over flowing with the little things that fill me up.

There are so many days that I want to hunch at the shoulders, plug my ears and drop my head when I listen to myself repeat over and over the word no, because I said so, because mommy is tired, because mommy has too much to do, because mommy needs a minute.......excuses made by a girl who is learning to perfect the word NO when it comes to requests that empty me.

A girl that is learning that sometimes saying NO to everything else allows me to say YES to my family.

I love YES days.


Linking up with Gypsy Mama for 5 minute Fridays.

On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.
For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.
For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



Sometimes I find myself getting so wrapped up in activities, events, and projects.  I create to-do lists, and agendas and schedules.  I find myself rushing, and stressing, and complaining.  I get grumpy, and irritated and stressed.  I feel inadequate, irresponsible, and unable.

Today's prompt is a good reminder that many of the things I busy myself with really don't matter.  In my walk with the Lord I have been reading much about the way satan uses chaos in our lives to keep us from seeking time with God.  His agenda is to steal our time, steal our resources, occupy our minds, make us busy, busy, busy.  Tempting us to borrow and spend, engage in small talk and gossip, filling our minds with thoughts of greed and want.  He sends husbands and wives away from their homes for endless hours so that they can better afford empty lifestyles, and children can raise themselves.  He fills our homes with the many distractions of television, video games, internet and texting so that when that small, still voice comes whispering our name we are too distracted to actually hear it.  How often do you rush through your week, from commitment to commitment, heading into over scheduled, over planned weekends filled with excess of this and that, so much of it meaningless, only to reach Sunday night feeling exhausted and unprepared for the week ahead?  I am becoming keenly aware of the way satan works to distract us from our own lives and living for what is really relevant.

Relevant is a husband who needs my encouragement, support and love when he returns home from providing for his family.  It is two small boys who need to be lavished with gooey kisses, bear hugs, laughter, gentle words and my undivided attention without hearing me promise that I will be available if they just give me 5 more minutes.  It is a teenage daughter who I don't always feel like I know or understand, and my need to find a stronger relationship and common ground with her so that there is a level or comfort, and she doesn't doubt how much she is loved.  It is my oldest baby as he journeys into adulthood needing  my respect, encouragement, and trust.  He needs me to lengthen the reign but stand within arms reach so I can catch him if he falls.

What is relevant is me.  It is my relationship with myself, my relationship with God, and my focus on following a path that brings me the strength, enthusiasm and peace I need to be the wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend I want to be to those who really matter in my life.

That is what is relevant.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What are you thankful for Wednesday?

So tonight I asked the boys to share with me 5 things they are thankful for, and what they would ask God for if they only had one wish.  I realize how much energy I put into expressing my gratitude, counting my blessings, and praying for the needs of others as well as my own.  However, I don't discuss the importance of gratitude nearly often enough with the kids.  After chatting with them about this, we have decided that every Wednesday I will ask them these same questions and record their answers.  I am excited to learn more about the places in their lives that they feel blessed and hope to see some of their answers evolve.

Austin is thankful for: 
Playing soccer
Playing the precorder
Nintendo DSI
His Bike 
If he could ask God for one thing, it would be that his family never dies.

Ryan is thankful:
That mom makes really good dinner
For mom and dad doing the laundry
His toys
Food when he is hungry
Getting to go to the waterslides

If he could ask God for one thing, it would be that our family had more money.

And tonight I am grateful for:
Dinner time around the table with my boys.
Hearing "thank you mom, dinner was so good" and receiving a giant hug from Ryan (something he learned from his daddy).
Fresh brewed coffee waiting when I climb out of bed.
Bubble baths.
Mint truffles.

If I could ask God for one thing, it would be for him to reveal himself to my husband, in a way that he can trust and believe, so that he too can build a relationship with the Lord.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's Brewing?

Well, here I go, finally....although I am not quite sure if I am jumping in with both feet or diving head first!  And so it begins, the birth of something that I have shushed, silenced and stuffed until it became to big for the box I was keeping it in.  I'm not sure yet where this process will lead me, or why I have chosen now, but I want to share, I want to write, I want to pour myself out with the belief that doing so will allow me to again be filled up.  If you are a private person and believe some things are just too personal to share, I can certainly promise that this isn't the place for you.  I tend to be an open book type girl, and this is where I want to let it all go.  I will share my sins, struggles, blessings, dreams, accomplishments and my love of God.  It may not always be packaged pretty, or even polite for that matter, but it will always be honest.  Here I will tell my truth, as I know it.  I will speak it, accept it, forgive it, embrace it and decorate it.  If you know me personally, you know I usually go deep.  I'm a lover of long talks about matters of the heart with both strangers and the closest of friends.  I am not so interested in making small talk, unless I am late which is not uncommon in my world.  Ask me how I am, and most likely I will tell you, usually far more than you wanted to know.  I am a random speaking, thought interrupting, comma, parentheses and .....using fool.  I write much like I think.  Sometimes concise and edited and other times I just dump it all out in a sloppy pile.  Take it for what it's worth.  This is my place to learn to be me, imperfect but beautiful.  Here I will worry less about what others think and more about what matters to me.  My hope is that writing will recharge me and awaken my soul much like that first, strong cup of coffee after an evenings slumber.  Cheers to new beginnings!