Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Good Things

This morning the sky was the color of brushed chrome and I found myself sitting in my living room on the verge of a chasm of lethargy.  I lay the cheesedoodle on a large pillow in the floor and the mackerdoodle curled up beside him, holding his hand and stroking his hair.  He looked at her and smiled and she laughed, looking at me with a smile that could light up the dreariest day.  I realized that I’ve been making dreary posts lately and having dreary thoughts, when there is so much light in my life.  Here are the good things:

1.  About two and a half weeks ago my sleepy cheesedoodle woke up, and was very displeased with what he found to be his reality.  I wore him a lot and fed him probably more than was necessary, and we listened to baby cries more than any of us cared to.  Conveniently this season of discontent coincided with our sewer troubles.  But two days ago it was like a switch turned in him.  I lay him on his sister’s bed while I changed her diaper, and he just lay there, happily, cooing and kicking.  The mackerdoodle, freshly diapered, climbed up beside him, and they played together.  He grabbed her fingers, she imitated his baby noises, he smiled and she laughed.  They played together for the first time.  Ever since, he’s been content to lie on his back, or sit in the bouncy seat for up to 20 minutes at a time, and  this morning, while lying on that pillow, he just closed his eyes and went to sleep – still grasping his sister’s finger.  It is a good thing.

2.  The mackerdoodle is addicted to Fla-vor-Ice popsicles, and calls them “icee.”  Last week we ran out of icees, and despite being told repeatedly, and shown repeatedly, that there were no plastic tubes of brightly artificially colored sugar water in our freezer, she persisted in asking for “icee” every time she passed the freezer.  Finally I said – in frustration – “How many times do I have to tell you that we don’t have any icees?”  She looked at me, put her head on one side, and said, “um . . . two.”  I laughed so hard I had to sit down for a minute.  It was a good thing.

3.  The mackerdoodle has always been a smiley little kid.  This picture was taken when she was about six weeks old, and it was the rule for her facial expressions even that young.  The cheesedoodle is, I think, more reserved.  His smiles, while not infrequent now, are less effervescent, and cheeky.  But he does something that the mackerdoodle didn’t do as an infant: he smiles when he eats.   It is a good thing to look down at a child being fed from my very body, and see him smiling while he nurses.

4.  The mackerdoodle has added a new phrase to her vocabulary:  “white dere.”  It showed up when she announced from the back seat “Bisa [bike in mackerdoodle, which also includes motorbikes].  Bisa, I see it.”  We saw nothing with less than four wheels in any direction, so Jonathan asked, “Where’s the bicycle?”  Mackerdoodle jabbed her window with her index finger and said, insistently, “white dere,”  and the repeated it even more firmly.  “White.  Dere.”  Sure enough, as traffic began to move, we could see about a block and a half away a man riding his “bisa” to the local state university campus, exactly where the mackerdoodle had pointed.  He was indeed white dere.

So many good things.  I’m healthy and fully recovered according to my 6 week check-up today.  Friday morning someone is showing our house.  My parents are coming to see the cheesedoodle smile – and they’re close enough now that they can just come on short notice.   So many good things that even a gray, dreary day is a good day.

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Motivation

At some point between ten and ten-thirty this morning another set of Realtors walked through our house.  Two weeks ago I spent eighteen hours cleaning my house in preparation for an agent’s open house.  Yesterday evening I spent an hour and a half.  I’m just having a hard time drumming up the energy to care.

First, it’s just a walk through.  Unlike an open house, in which agents come, hang out, eat some free food and chat with one another while casually and leisurely walking through a home, a walk through is when all the agents from one office arrive together, tour the home and then move on to another listing from their office.  They will be here to see the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and living space.  They are far less likely to examine the contents of my linen closet.

Secondly, a great deal of what we did two weeks ago hasn’t been undone.  All of the sorting and organizing of my upstairs rooms remains untouched, the mackerdoodle’s bedroom and my bedroom needed only minor tidying as opposed to the massive overhaul performed two weeks ago, and the same goes for my kitchen.

But primarily, I am having a hard time getting motivated because even if every one of these agents show the house to customers this week, and we got an offer (even a low ball offer would be nice at this point) by the weekend, the chances of closing in time for Jonathan to be in St. Louis for his August 22 start date would be slim.  I had seen the house as a key element in helping Jonathan achieve his goal of seminary education.  Now I see it as the only hindrance, and I’m beginning to resent it.

In the two years we’ve lived here, I have loved my home.  We have had the opportunity to host people for meals, over night stays and large group events.  I have been able to tell people from out of town “just give us a call.  we have plenty of room,” and mean it.  I have been able to practice hospitality in ways never before open to me, and for two years I have praised the Lord for this house.  Now I’m grumbling about it, and seeing it as an albatross around my neck.  Isn’t it crazy how I can let my emotions and circumstances change my perspective?

This morning I expressed these thoughts to Jonathan, and he sat down on the bed, pulled out Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges and began to read.  Bridges says that as Christians we have

“. . . the frequent misperception of God as the divine equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge; the God who demands the last ounce of work out of His people and then pays them poorly.”

He goes on to quote one of John Newton’s hymns:

“Come my soul, my suit prepare/ Jesus loves to answer prayer
He himself has bid thee pray/ Therefore will not say thee nay
Thou art coming to a King/ Large petitions with thee bring
For His grace and power are such/ None can ever ask too much.”

I was stunned at the place in my heart that responded with bitterness, that agreed with Bridges’ statement that ” . . . we tend in a direction of believing God is reluctant to answer prayer. . .” .   Bridges reminds his readers that Satan’s attack against both Eve and Job was to cause them (or attempt to cause them) to question God’s goodness.

I had been wandering around my house picturing God sitting up in heaven saying “No. Just sit there and stew for a little while and I’ll bail you out when I absolutely have to.”  Instead he’s looking at me, pouting around my house, and saying, “But this is so much better.  What I have planned is so much better than what you have planned.  Trust me.”

And suddenly, after having the gospel preached to me by Jerry Bridges and my husband, I’ve found my motivation again.


Just For Me

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Sunday school was on Habakkuk this week, and at the end of it Jonathan and I decided that it was just for us, and everyone else was just there for seat filler.  🙂

The book of Habakkuk consists of complaints against God and God’s answers.  Habakkuk is living in a nation slowly being devoured by the Babylonian empire, and he’s a little upset about it.  At the end of the book he writes the passage above, which I will now paraphrase in the way it impacted me this morning:

Even if my luxuries, food staples and wealth are taken from me, I will make the decision to rejoice in the Lord, because He, not my possessions, are my strength and my salvation.  Even if Jonathan doesn’t find work and we end up eating a steady diet of government cheese, and living in a van down by the river, we will still choose to rejoice in the Lord – to take joy in the God who has saved us.

And today I am in my own home, feeding healthy and abundant food to my beautiful children in comfortable air conditioning, so how much easier should it be to take joy in Him now?  Today, with everything up in the air, but with my every need met and exceeded, I will rejoice in the Lord.


My Odd Sense of Humor

Our tea bag box advertises the flavanoids in tea.  Every time I see the word, it makes me think that if Flavor Flave bought Best Buy, he’d re-name the Geek Squad the “Flava Noids”.

Just the sort of things that run through my mind daily.


Wednesday Weigh In

I’m down two pounds this week.  Considering I couldn’t use my kitchen for two days and had four fast food meals, I don’t think that’s too bad.  Still struggling to exercise though.  I found my Tae Bo tapes, but I don’t think I should be high kicking while wearing a baby – don’t you agree?  🙂

So, what’s working for you and what’s not?


Happy Birthday

dadbristow

Happy Birthday Dad.

Today is my dad’s birthday.  He’s a pretty great dad and I’m awfully fond of him.  I’ve been trying to think of a single story I could tell here that would sum up my dad for you, and it’s really hard.  There are so many good memories, and he’s so multi-faceted.

I think it’s a temptation, when one first meets my Dad, to pigeon hole him in the “bearded lumber jack” category and think of him in only those terms.  Indeed, he worked in the forest industry the vast majority of his working life, and all of my life.  He can wield a chainsaw or a skidder with the best of them, and if you really want to see his eyes light up, ask him about trees.

That is a big part of who my dad is, but it’s not the whole story.

My dad carves beautiful and functional wood creations, including the salad serving set I use at least four times in a week.  He takes beautiful photography – especially black and white because he has an amazing eye for textures.  He reads poetry, can recite lines from MacBeth from memory and cooks fantastic breakfasts!  My dad designed and built the house in which I grew up (which is on the market, by the way.  Just in case you want a William G. Bristow original to add to your real estate portfolio.).  He is a student of the word of God, and of theology.

They say that women marry little bits of their fathers, and if you’ve ever seen my dad and my husband talk about their respective artistic endeavors, a home improvement project, or some aspect of practical theology, you can see that I did.  Both men have artistic temperaments, which means they are given to extremes in their reactions, but both Jonathan and Dad are ready with a smile, a joke and a mischievous twinkle of the eye.  While we were waiting for the hospital to discharge me and the cheesedoodle, Jonathan pointed out the over sized door in the hospital room and commented that if all doors were that size, no one would have trouble moving furniture in and out of houses.  For the next thirty minutes Jonathan and Dad examined the door and discussed the pros and cons of having such a large door in a house.  And they were both genuinely interested in the discussion.

Here’s one of my favorite Dad stories:

Before I can remember, my parents were members of a very liberal church.  The pastor was an unstable alcoholic who preached such shallow messages as when people smiled it was evidence of God in them.  There was another man in the congregation who was also given to drinking to excess, and I suspect neglecting his family, but I don’t know the details.  My Dad went over one day to speak to that man about his condition.  He laid out the gospel as clearly as he knew how, and came home from that meeting completely discouraged.  It had been like speaking to a brick wall.

Not long later, my family left that church and began attending the local Baptist church, and the other family left town.  Years later, when I was nine or ten, my mother ordered a magazine for me and my sister.  The wife of that man my father had visited was working for the subscription department of that magazine and sent my parents a personal letter.  She had been abandoned by her first husband, but was now a believer, married to a believer, and she wrote in that letter that the entire time my dad was sharing the gospel, she was sitting in the kitchen, listening to every word.  As my dad shared, the Lord was planting the seeds of repentance in her heart.  She is still in contact with my parents, and continues to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.  She said she had never heard a man speak so passionately and openly about the things of God until that day my dad sat and spoke to the man who was making her life so difficult.

SO happy birthday Dad.  I love you and treasure you.  And I’m not at all jealous that you get to spend this birthday with my sister.


And Now For Something Completely Different.

The mackerdoodle has just started this cute thing: when we ask her a question, she says,”Um” before answering it.  Even if she knows the answer.  It’s very cute and we’ve been enjoying hearing it.

Saturday afternoon I was changing her diaper while the cheesedoodle lay on his back and cooed little “ah, ah, ah”s  at the wall.  She perked up her head and said to me “Baby talking.”  This is a treat from “Baby cyin” which is more frequent at this stage.  I said, “yeah, the baby’s talking.  What’s he saying?”  She gave me the look people give when they are trying to find a way to explain the obvious.

She said, “Um.  He sayin ah ah ah.”

Indeed he was.