Monday, February 28, 2011

Favorite Movies

Confession #1: I get a little caught up in the Academy Awards hype. From the time I was walking and talking I was raised to admire pretty dresses, whether it be watching the Miss America pageant or getting up in the middle of the night to watch Princess Diana's wedding live. So it's natural that I'm a little attracted to the glam of the awards, even though my daily uniform of tee shirt, sweat pants, and fuzzy socks is far from glamorous.

Confession #2: Because of Confession #1, I usually buy a People magazine once a year -- the Academy Awards issue -- so I can get my pretty dress fix. This year I have a self-imposed ban on purchasing magazines, so I will have to make a trip to the library later this week.

But none of that has to do with why last night I turned on our television for the first time in . . . maybe all of 2011 . . . to watch the actual awards. Instead of the dresses being the attraction (I'd much rather quickly flip through People than watching the awards for hours), I watched because I loved The King's Speech. I worked on homeschool planning while the film was given awards for the categories of Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Film.

Marc and I went to see The King's Speech in December for our anniversary, and when we left the theatre I commented that I thought it would make my top ten list of all-time-favorite films. Upon further reflection, I realized I don't actually have ten all-time-favorites, so it's been promoted to the top five. I thought for fun I'd share my list.

  1. The Sound of Music. I have loved this movie for as long as I can remember. We watch it as a family every year for my birthday -- a tradition we started, I think, even before the kids were born.
  2. The Shawshank Redemption. I've probably watched this movie more than a dozen times, but I will never, ever get tired of it. (After these two, the order of my favorites is arbitrary.)
  3. Henry V. Music is what really makes a film special to me, so combine a great score with Kenneth Branagh's amazing acting, and even I can get past the intimidation of Shakespeare.
  4. Mr. Holland's Opus. Being the daughter of a public school art teacher and now a mom of a child with special needs, this film still stays with me.
  5. The King's Speech. Comes out on DVD in April, so please see it, if you haven't already. I know some people are wary because of the bad language used in a couple of scenes, but Marc and I were not offended and thought it was perfectly in context because the point was that it was supposed to be out of character. If you want more detail, feel free to email me. And pay special attention to the music in the final speech (Beethoven) -- every note and word seems perfectly timed. Many critics have noted the irony of using German music, but it's absolutely my favorite part of the movie.
If I were to continue my list of favorites, it would be very heavy on war movies -- probably because of my life-long love of history. I love chick flicks too, but they don't tend to stay in my long term memory. Oh, and since the first time I saw a Star Wars movie as a kid, Harrison Ford has been my hero, so just about anything with him is sure to please me.

What about you? What are your favorite movies? Have you seen The King's Speech?

Friday, February 25, 2011

I can take a hint

How are we doing on taking in all the colors?


taken this morning from my back door

A few weeks ago, I shared my heart and apparently struck a chord. I think we all struggle to some extent with how to slow down and live more in the moment. As you could tell, I was deep in the pit.

But I was determined not to stay in the pit, so I immediately saturated myself in God's Word and in prayer. I meditated on His promises day and night . . .

Ha! I wish the above paragraph were true. Sadly, when I'm in the pit, I tend to go to Amazon, rather than the Bible sitting right next to me. Thankfully, God knows how stubborn I am and He patiently waited for me to discover the hard way what He was trying to teach me.

In December, Mr. UPS guy delivered this gem of a book.

I had seen it mentioned on a few blogs and I thought this was the key. If I could just simplify and organize my life better, then I'd have time to slow down. It really is a wonderful resource with great suggestions and tools; and the layout with just the right colors, pictures and balance of white space makes it such a pleasant read. I have referred to the book many, many times since reading it.

But there was one part of the book that just turned me off. Tsh devotes an entire chapter to writing a family purpose statement. As I read, I was thinking

Blah, blah, blah . . . whatever.

After all, as Christians we are called to glorify God in all we do, so what's the point of family purpose statement?

It just seemed like a pointless, silly, exercise. So I quickly skimmed through that chapter to get to the good stuff.

The following Sunday at church our pastor read from the third chapter of Colossians. After an uncomfortable passage about putting to death your earthly nature, we read what the Christian life should look like.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV, emphasis added)

And suddenly I got it; this is what I wanted our family to be. A family that loves. A family ruled by peace. A family that is thankful. Our purpose statement was right there in Colossians 3; we just needed to be intentional about it. Yes, as Christians we are called to glorify God in all we do.

But it's so easy to accept mediocrity when you aren't actively pursuing a goal.

I felt like we were in a constant state of mediocrity. Of course we love. Peace and thankfulness can be found in the Blue House too. But not in the way Paul was describing. Something about this passage was tugging at my heart.

So I did nothing about it.

Remember, I'm stubborn. I'm ashamed to admit this, but while in the pit I had no desire to read the Bible. It was different than when you neglect to be in God's Word and feel guilty about it. I was so hardened I hardly felt the guilt. I did at least recognize that this was a bad thing, but I felt powerless to do anything about it.

It wasn't until I started listening to sermons online that I began to crave God's voice again. So when God spoke through the Colossians passage, I was just beginning to open my ears and heart again. Though I was touched, I apparently needed a stronger push.

The holidays rolled by and suddenly everyone was abuzz with New Year's resolutions. I didn't really make any resolutions, but concentrated on some organizing projects at home. I was still convinced that if I just got more organized, things would be better.

The first Sunday in January I picked up a copy of Tabletalk from the stack that my church leaves on a table in the foyer. I've always heard what a great devotional it is, but had never bothered to read it until now. So I started the new year with a new devotional, not really expecting to keep up with it. But guess what book of the Bible was the focus of the January issue (and half the February issue).

Colossians. Hmmm . . .

A week or so later, I visited Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. I explained here how I had been following a few blogs that participate in her Multitude Mondays, but I had never really spent much time at her blog until then. And, of course, I came across a post about memorizing the book of Colossians in a year.

Enough, Lord! I can take a hint.

I'm just giving the most noteworthy examples, but let me tell you, everywhere I turned there was something leading me to Colossians! I opened the book my husband is reading for men's Bible study and the page I opened to was the beginning of a chapter on a Colossians passage. I cleaned out some papers in my office and I came across a copy of a lecture I gave years ago on another Colossians passage. The list goes on . . .


So one night as Marc and I were out on a date, I explained to him the whole Colossians story and he was pumped. We decided that night that we would, as a family, memorize the entire book of Colossians. The plan calls for two verses a week, but since we got a late start and we're going a little slower than what's on the schedule, it might take us closer to two years. I hope not, but we'll see. I've always been terrible at memorizing things, so this is well out of my comfort zone. My family is being very patient with me. The kids are doing great, and so is Marc, but I'm struggling. I would love prayers for me to get better at this.

Being in the Word again is just part of how God is pulling me from the pit, but it is the most important part. It's not that there is anything wrong with getting organized. I highly recommend the book mentioned above (it is much more than a how-to book). And some of my organizing projects really have made my life so much easier (I plan to share one project with you in the near future). But God has made it clear that He is what I need most. Apparently, this is a lesson I need to learn again

and again

and again . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

1000 Gifts

More blessings to count:

16. A thirteen-year-old who loves to bake, and is good at it.

17. Passing the Snickerdoodle recipe onto the next generation.


18. My son's odd fascination with Bible genealogies. He was absolutely giddy when the pastor read Luke 3 a couple of weeks ago.

19. Cool pillowcases and thick, cozy blankets.

20. Getting to sleep with the windows open for a night -- in February!

21. Waking up to the hooting of an owl.

22. My 20+ year old alarm clock, for the days when I need more than the owl's help.

23. The sound of an eight-year-old humming hymns all day.

24. Making a recipe I haven't tried in years.

25. Kids whose taste buds have matured, declaring said recipe a success.

26. Being on the same page with my husband -- united in a goal.

27. Little girl tea parties.


You too can join others in acknowledging the Lord's many gifts here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

happy day

Besides being a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, homemaker, and all the other roles we moms fill, every year I get the honored job of family tax preparer. I've come a long way from the days I filled out our forms with an electric typewriter. I think I might have even kissed the TurboTax box the first time I used it!

But even with the computer, it's never an easy job. The worst were the years I had to prepare three different state returns. The instructions for each state would always say to start with the other state first, so I'd spend the first hour just figuring out which one to start first. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Almost made me want to move back to Texas where there is no state income tax. But then I remembered the 150% humidity in Texas and I'd come to my senses.

Every year I vow it will be my last, but when tax time comes around again I somehow muster up the motivation. This year I mustered earlier than usual. Yes, the purpose of this post is a shameful brag.

I've filed our tax returns and it's only February 15th! Woo hoo!

That's all. : )

Monday, February 7, 2011

1000 Gifts

My last post was pretty heavy, and I'm sorry if I passed along my sadness. I just needed to share where I've been. I have lots to write about where I'm going. I think you will find it much more refreshing.

Something interesting happened last year when I started lurking on a fellow homeschooling/swim team mom's blog, Goggles and Grace. Heather's Multitude Monday posts are simply lovely. Such an attitude of gratitude. I'm sure being gifted with the camera helps, but she really seems to live in the moment. I was so inspired, I even came of lurking mode to tell her. : )

Then I noticed several other bloggers joining along: Laura. Debi. Jennefer. Each time I read a post, I thought I should do that too. But it wasn't until I started reading Ann Voskamp's new book that I truly understood the purpose of these beautiful lists. If you want to understand how thanksgiving can transform a life, then you must read this book. I'm still reading, but already I'm full of hope of what a life of gratitude can accomplish.

And so, my list begins:

1. Snow days.


2. A storm that accomplished what I can never do, make time stop.


3. Having Daddy home from work for two days.

4. Fireplace, burning hot.

5. My mom's beef stew.

6. Puzzles with my youngest.

7. Read-alouds with Daddy.

8. A kind neighbor who plowed the end of the driveway, the hardest part.

9. A strong husband who shoveled the rest, even with a bad shoulder.

10. Kids playing in almost 14 inches of snow.


11. A few days later, a nature walk in the white, and a friend to share the fun.


12. God's artistry on the frozen creek.


13. Optimism -- always thinking the ice hiding under the snow will be strong enough.


14. Dry socks and clothes up at the house -- because, despite the optimism, feet always seem to get wet.

15. Choosing to laugh instead of scold -- because the snow days won't last forever.


You too can join others in acknowledging the Lord's many gifts here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

before today becomes our yesterday

Part of the reason for ending my blog hibernation is to share some neat things God is doing in my life, but to adequately explain what He's doing I need to back up a bit and explain where I've been the last several months. It's not been pretty.

It all started in mid-October. A broken power cord for my Mac gave me cause to take a weekday morning drive through an area near our before-the-Blue-House house. {Got that?} It was truly a trip down memory lane.

Every few blocks I'd see a young mom pushing a baby stroller. Oh, that was so me, once upon a time. Almost every day, even in the winter, I loaded Anna and Ryne up, and we walked for an hour or more. Sometimes we'd walk with friends, but often it was just the three of us and the dog. I had favorite houses we pass; houses I'd dream of living in someday. {No, none of them were blue.} Sometimes we'd walk to the park and play. Other times we'd drive to a different park to feed the ducks. I'm not sure why we stopped taking walks when we moved to the Blue House. Maybe because it was too difficult to push a double stroller up the giant hills in our new neighborhood. Maybe it was because autism came into our life and we were too busy with therapy schedules. I miss the carefreeness.

As I continued to drive, I passed the church where we had attended a mother's day out program. One morning a week I'd drop the kids off at the nursery and meet other moms upstairs to scrapbook. The kids would happily fall asleep in the car on the way home, letting goldfish crackers be their nourishment instead of a healthy lunch. Probably makes me a bad mom; oh well. I miss the fun.

A week or so later, I cleaned off a shelf in the coat closet by the front door and found this.

Nevermind that I still hung this sign on the front door when Grace was four; she was hardly a baby anymore. But for many years it protected our sacred naptime. As I held the little sign with the dirty ribbon and paint-chipped corners, I thought about how naptime hadn't been just for the kids. Many days I'd curl up with a baby in my bed and we'd snuggle the hours away. Yes, hours. Don't hate me, but my kids were the best nappers. Two to three hours. I miss the quietness.

Another day, I started packing up some of our books the kids have outgrown. Good Night Moon. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Anything by Sandra Boynton. Do I dare admit they went into a box designated for future grandkids? Maybe then I will get to relive curling up in a cozy chair, hearing a toddler's sing-song voice recite the words to the story she's heard so many times. Maybe we'll burst into giggles as our dog howls along with the "nine dogs on a moonlit night." Finishing up with prayers and singing (they knew once we sang the Doxology it was time for sleep), our bedtime routine was perfect. I miss the simple routine.

The final straw was when we watched Toy Story 3 with the kids over Thanksgiving break. Andy's going to college?! Really?! Tomorrow, am I going to be packing up Bunny, wondering where the time went? I cried through the entire movie. I miss it all.

Tying all these events together is a song that I've heard at least a hundred times over the last several months, either on the radio or on my iPod. I love this song, and yet it broke my heart every time I heard it.

And so I'd wrestle with myself.

How do I take in the colors when I feel like every day I'm just trying to muster enough energy to survive the day?
Checklists typically aren't very colorful.

Then we're in big trouble, because all we seem to do is complain and bicker, day in and day out.
And I'm the one leading the parade.

How do I slow down when there is so much to do?
What do I cut out?

I told you it wasn't pretty. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I was feeling defeated in other areas of my life too.

Thankfully, I'm emerging from that pit. I don't have all the answers, but God is slowly changing my heart.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ending the hibernation


I didn't plan to take a two month break from blogging. It just happened. About a month into my break it started feeling really good. I was ready to just call it quits. Blogging was just another thing on a long "to do" list that was weighing me down. More accurately, blogging was just another thing I wasn't doing well. I was feeling like a failure at so many things that if I could cross one of them off the list I could lessen the guilt.

Don't get me wrong, I love blogging. And I love, love, love the friends I have made through blogging. I could never totally leave the blog world; at the very least I'd still read other blogs. But then it's more of a one-sided conversation. You do all the sharing and I just sit there with an occasional nod of agreement. How boring!

Another thing that I noticed on my break was that I was missing opportunities to capture the moment. I'd go days and days without picking up the camera. And then I'd beat myself up: "Why didn't I take a picture of that?" Regardless of whether this should a blogger's motivation, when you're actively blogging, you take a picture of everything because it could end up being the next post. I missed taking a picture of everything. I haven't scrapbooked in more than a decade (has it really been that long?!), so this blog helps me remember.

All this to say, I'm back. I'm still working through what direction I want this blog to take. Part of the reason I struggled with blogging is because my original purpose was to record our homeschooling and autism adventures, but I when it came down to writing those posts I was often uninspired. I'd like to expand the scope of my little corner of cyber space, and share more of what's been on my heart the last several months. I'm even considering making some changes to the blog itself, but we'll see. Step one is just ending the hibernation.