Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sell Out

My husband likes to call me a city slicker. The kids think that is hilarious. When we moved to a small town there were a lot of things I had to get used to like: living next to a field they spread manure in, having no pizza delivery service, being 30 miles from a Target and mall, looking out the window and seeing my neighbors turkeys looking back in, having skunks and coyotes wander through the field behind us and dogs chasing me while I’m jogging.

I admit there are some things I’ve learned to enjoy. I love hanging clothes on the clothesline (but not when they are spreading manure) , eating at the local restaurant and sending the kids to a small K-12 school. We even looked at a camper today that was made in 1976. You might be shocked to know that I was considering sleeping in it at a campground. Outside.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a true country girl but I’m getting closer.

Through the years, I’ve always had a line in the sand on country living. And that has always been the Chicken Swap. Mike takes the kids and they have all sort of fun. I never wanted to go. I don’t love animals or flea markets. Or animals with fleas. It’s a line I was not going to cross. Until today.

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It draws a really big crowd. I know because I’ve driven through on my way to more civilized pursuits before.

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I went with the ultimatum that we would not come home with anything furry or feathered. Apparently people sell all sort of animals there. They weren’t kidding.

Puppies in trunks and kennels and rubbermaids. Lots of puppies.

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Goats, chickens, roosters, pigeons, bunnies and ducks.

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The chicken swap is fun and kind of charming. Mike was embarrassed that I was taking pictures. Pretty city slickerish I guess. So I didn't get pictures of the baked goods, animal sculptures made of rakes, handmade toys and tractor manuals. You'll just have to take my word for it.

We saw all sorts of people we know. My friend bought a duck for her daughter and then realized she didn’t know what to do with it. So she turned around a resold it to someone else. Those are the kind of deals that are made at the chicken swap.

Next time I’ll be sure to bring my hand sanitizer or does that have city girl written all over it?

So now I am now officially a sell out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Still Five

Annie has been looking forward to being five for months. Five means school. All day yesterday she kept asking if she was five now despite the evidence of presents, balloons, streamers and birthday cake. It might be because Mike was teasing her that she could never turn five and on her birthday he would sing her a new song: Four Forever! After all the waiting it was like she couldn't really believe it. Was she five? It didn't feel different.

This morning she asked several times again. Am I five? I kept reassuring her that yes she was indeed still five.

It struck me how often I do that with God. Am I saved? Am I forgiven? Am I loved? Because it is hard to believe that anyone could forgive me for the things I've done and still love me enough to die for me. So I keep asking. It doesn't feel any different. I still feel like the same old Michelle. I make mistakes, get tired, act mean to my family. Still after all these years of following Christ.

So, God, am I really changed? Do you still love me? I would totally understand if you didn't. Sometimes I don't even love myself.

But God is not like us. He continually and gently reassures us that yes we are indeed still saved.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8

His sacrifice was once for all.
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit" 1 Peter 3:18

His love will never end.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God is him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:16-18

His forgiveness knows no bounds.
"As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12

As I've been answering Annie's questions I thought maybe God doesn't mind reassuring us. Just like when one of my kids runs into my arms it's another chance to show them my love. The love doesn't waver, it's always there. I'm the one that flounders. I need reassurance and I think he knows that. Of course He knows that, He knows everything! That's why he gave me the Bible. It shouldn't stop me from being secure in the promises He's given. It's just that every once in a while it is nice to hear those words again.

Now we are on to the next questions. Mom, Am I five and a half? When will I be six?

And I gently answer back, in 364 days honey.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Seven years ago Mike and I were at a marriage conference.  We didn’t really want to go.  Our marriage was fine.  Great.  We met an older couple that shared how they had thought their wedding day was the mountaintop of happiness.  Now that they had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary they realized they were wrong.  The joy and happiness of a life lived together is a much higher mountaintop than the naive giddiness of a wedding day.  I didn’t get it at the time, but God is showing me that as the years go by and we go through joys and trials it just keeps growing and getting better. 

Five years ago today, I was holding a brand new baby girl.  All 9 pounds, six ounces of her.  It feels like the pinnacle of happiness the day you give birth to a new bundle of joy. 

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Those are some of the most precious and happy memories of my years with kids.  But if that is all the happiness there is, then today is a sad day. Because now she’s five.  She can swim.  She can ride a two-wheeler.  She can’t wait for school.

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Next year her days will be filled with a new world.  School, teachers and friends.  I thought I would be thrilled to have one more climbing on the bus in the morning.  But I am going to miss these days with little miss sunshine.


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As the years with little ones at home draw to a close, instead of gleefully moving on I’m finding myself tightening my grip.  Maybe I should keep her home next year?  But I’ve always known that my hold shouldn’t and couldn’t last.  She’s in His grip.  Step by step she’s got to move on.  And so do I.

But the words of that couple from the marriage conference keep coming back to mind.  We are only five years in and it’s such a blessing.  The days filled with her laughter and smile are just the beginning.  Imagine how much joy there will be in five years when I love her that much more.  When we’ve been through more ups and downs together.  Puberty, trouble with friends at school and losses and victories in sports? Or in ten or twenty years?  By the time we get to graduations and weddings, I can’t really imagine the place my heart will be if my love grows at this rate every five years.  It might burst into a million pieces.  It’s growing into something more than I could ever have imagined that day sitting in a hospital bed. 

And it gives me great hope.  That letting go is actually making room for more.  So bring it on, but not too fast.  I’m pretty satisfied with five right now.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

You Might Be a Parent of Many

If there are a million pairs of shoes in the closet and yet the shoe rack is empty, you might be a parent of many.

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If you need three shoe storage units to keep track of all the hats and mittens and yet no one can ever find a matching pair, you might be the parent of many.

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If you have the pleasure of driving a vehicle like this, you might be the parent of many.

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If you have vehicles that are so dirty your kids write their names in the back and sayings like “wash me” because who has the energy to wash such a beast? You might be the parent of many.

When booking a hotel online you realize there isn’t even an option for the number in your family, you might be a parent of many.

When you have to take out a personal loan to take the family to Arby’s, you might be the parent of many.

If you run to the store for a few quick staples just to get you through the week and come home with this, you might be the parent of many.

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If you have more toothbrushes than could possibly fit in one of those cute countertop holders, you might be the parent of many.

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If your yard looks like a used bike lot, you might be the parent of many.

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If you gave up on the idea of building a patio out back because it really functions better as a sandbox, you might be the parent of many.

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If you used all your patio money on peanut butter and syrup, you might be the parent of many.

If it takes five minutes to dirty six load of laundry, you might be the parent of many.

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If you tried to make laundry soap once and decided you wanted your clothes to be clean and not smelly so you switched back to Tide even though it costs a lot and the big one lasts 3 days, you might be the parent of many. Or that might just be me.

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If a dozen doughnuts isn’t enough to go around, you might be the parent of many.

If your feet stick to the kitchen floor (Hello gallon of syrup) and it doesn’t really bother you, you might be the parent of many.

If you own several sets of bunk beds, you might be the parent of many.

If you spray paint an old bike because three other kids have trashed used it, you might be the parent of many.

If this is what your calendar looks like on a good month, you might be the parent of many.

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If the idea of saving for college sends you into fits on laughter, you might be the parent of many.

If you are so tired at the end of the day that you want to puke, you might be the parent of many.

If at night after the nausea subsides and before the numbness hits you realize how blessed you are, you might be the parent of many.