Friday, November 30

No More NaBloPoMo!

I made it! I don't know when I have been more relieved to see the last day of a month*. This exercise in daily blogging has been more of a challenge than I anticipated. It seems that every night at around 11 pm I would jolt with the realization - I still have to post! I thoroughly stretched my creative & writing muscles, though, which was the point.

In other news: My new MacBook arrived today! Any wagers on when I'll actually pry it out of Allan's hands and get to play with it myself?

Still no news: My dead phone is still...dead. In order to use a fantastic 25% discount on a replacement, I had to have it shipped. It has made its way from China to Alaska and is catching a dogsled from there.

And finally: We in the Northwest are gearing up to be slammed by a trifecta of storms this weekend. Snow! Wind! Rain! Cold! It should be a fun one.

Have a great weekend!

* Besides starting a day late, I missed one day due to extremely needy sick children - please let me set you down so I can post!.

Thursday, November 29

On Turning Five

No more four year old going to bed now! Connor proudly declared a few minutes ago. Clearly age five takes one well beyond the realm of "little boy". We had a great day of celebration for this important milestone. I'm sure Connor would tell you that his favorite part of the day was getting a new train (or two or three) for his Thomas collection or maybe it was seeing the amazing Thomas cake that Grammy made. He thoroughly enjoyed his party with more than a dozen friends, playing games and being as loud and rowdy as our little living room could handle. One part of the party that I surprisingly enjoyed was Connor opening his gifts. This was not the greedy free-for-all of tearing through paper and ribbons to expose the latest and greatest worthless gadgets. Rather, from one family Connor received two trains which he had played with for the last few years at their house. The same was true for three cars given to him by another. His friends looked at their own things and chose with care what they knew Connor would love. It is a tradition that I think is worth perpetuating. The other especially meaningful part of the day happened before the cake and presents. We asked the kids to answer one question - What is something that you like or love about Connor? I was touched as his friends each in turn shared a simple way in which Connor is a blessing. I like how Connor is funny! I love that Connor is smart and lovable. I like how Connor shares his trains and his birthday cake! Connor is nice - he's my friend. I like Connor's eyes. Those are some insightful children! How right they are on all accounts.

Happy 5th Birthday, Connor - I love you more each day.

Wednesday, November 28

Let There Be Rejoicing!

I wish I had a video clip to show you from this evening. During our Life Group, Allan mentioned that he had driven home through some snow. This bit of news sent the children, especially Kevin Crumrine, into a complete tizzy. I thought the poor kid might blow a gasket from his overwhelming excitement. Allan quickly went into thorough explanations of altitude and snow elevations, while I stumbled over an apology to Leah for the night that was to come in their household (he won't go to sleep now!). When we had prayer time with the children, we went around the group and each finished the sentence, "Thank you God for..." and of course snow was mentioned. Just a few minutes later, lo and behold, I got to make the greatest announcement of the day, Kids, It's Snowing!! There was much screaming and jumping. And more screaming and jumping. The joy was beautiful and contagious.

Thank you, God, for the snow-

Monday, November 26

I Look Good With a Gold Lasso

We just finished another exciting episode of Heroes, a tv show about people coming to terms with their extraordinary and sometimes unusual gifts. There's the boy who can control electricity and the girl who instantly self-heals. One girl can learn anything by simply observing (aka a Matrix download). Then there's some of the regular talents - walking through walls, flying, time travel, mind reading. If you could choose your superhero gift, what would it be? I think I have to go with the instant learning gig. Can you imagine? Take in one Bruce Lee flick and then go kick the tails of all the neighborhood bad guys. Today I think I'd like to be a world class downhill skier! Find Picabo Street playing on ESPN classics and viola', play the American national anthem for me. Now I just need to find a good costume. Edna!!

Sunday, November 25

Can You Hear Me Now?

This last week my phone finally went kaput - in a most permanent way. The first couple of days I was filled with anxiety. Who might be trying to call? How can I get in touch with Allan when I need him to get milk? It was especially agonizing the first day when the phone would still ring, but none of the buttons were responsive. So-n-so is calling, but I don't know what they want and I don't have a way to call back. They're going to think I'm just rude by not returning their call! The last few days, though, I have felt strangely liberated from this particular shackle. I realize that I have been freed from other internal dialogue. Should I answer the phone during dinner? It's time to go - where is my phone?? And the rather unladylike Ugh, I really don't want to talk to this person right now. Should I punt them to voicemail or take it? This little unintentional social experiment has helped me recognize some unhealthy boundaries in my own daily life. Just don't be mad at me if I haven't returned your call this week.

Friday, November 23

Black Friday

According to Snopes, an online rumor and urban legend site, the day after Thanksgiving is actually not the biggest shopping day of the year, as it is touted. But you wouldn't know it by looking at all of the ads, or even more so, by stepping outside your house - as only the brave would dare. This day, menacingly known as Black Friday (because that is supposedly the day when businesses become financially "in the black"), is pretty much out of control. Although I love getting a good deal as much or probably more as the next gal, the only shopping I engaged in today was a little online Apple store action. Did any of you brave the crowds for the good deals?

Oh, and just in case anyone was concerned, Mr. Rogers did not serve in the military and is not covered with tattoos.

Thursday, November 22

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope today was a good one for you. We all have so much for which be thankful.

Wednesday, November 21

Thank You

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. - Margaret Cousins
Today I answered the door in my striped t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms (I had been thrown up on & had to change in the dark) to be handed a lovely basket of goodies by a dear friend and a gaggle of cute kids. Being a bit hazy in thought, I rudely did not invite them in (please accept my apologies!). Along with candles, relaxing music, chocolate, and girly lotions and body washes, I was pleasantly surprised to find a kind note of appreciation from my church family, expressing their thanks for me and my work for PUMP. I was washed over with a deep appreciation of my own - for a church that stretches and loves and seeks to be the hands of Jesus to our community and to each other.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20

I Am Artist

The art gene runs true and strong in my husband's family. Allan's father and his father's father were recognized talents in the field, as is Allan and his brother. That particular stream runs a bit more shallow in my family - only my mom and brother Steve can claim to have the artist's touch.

That is until I was forced encouraged by my peers to find my inner Martha Stewart. There's a bunch of girls at PUMP who are naturals at all things sponge painting, stamping, scrapbooking, and Michael's craft store. The first several years we were together for Mom's Group or a women's evening out, I would stare in misery at whatever craft project lay before us. The choices of patterns and colors and where to place the ribbon was always enough to send me into a cold sweat. I really don't enjoy the feeling of complete incompetence.

Fast forward to today...This crafty mama convert elaborately designs and creates cards and books, sketches in charcoal and pencil, paints ceramics (see photo - the bowl I brought home today), and can bravely and boldly (okay - maybe it's still timidly) declare myself "artist". So I raise my ceramic painted mug to my friends for encouraging me to stretch into a new and unknown world.

Monday, November 19

We're Communicating

Anyone who has a spouse (or a co-worker, sibling, parent, child...) knows that healthy relationships take work. A lot of work. There are a million factors at play when two people live together day after day and have chosen for there to not be an "out". Personality differences, exhaustion, childhood baggage, temptations, parenting styles, physical stressors, financial difficulties, family obligations, work decisions, and a million other factors can eat away or enhance a relationship, depending on how the couple manages the journey and by the grace and strength of God.

Here's some good advice from Psychology Today:
Want to predict the outcome of a spousal spat? Tally up pronouns. The person who says "we" the most during an argument puts forward the best solutions, according to a study in Psychological Science. "We"-users may have a sense of shared interest that sparks compromises and other ideas pleasing to both partners. "You"-sayers, on the contrary, tend to criticize, disagree, justify and otherwise teem with negativity. When one partner complains that he or she feels under attack, the other can ease the tension by rephrasing sentences to use the winning "we."
Let me try this: "We are late again because we don't care about being on time. This makes us really angry because we feel like we don't care about respecting others feelings. We are such a dork sometimes! Why don't we just listen to ourselves?? We're sorry for losing our cool." I think they're on to something. We feel better, don't we?

Sunday, November 18

My PUMP Morning

Walking three blocks in the rain with Connor & Fiona. Laughing with Joe. With no voice of my own, listening to the beautiful singing. Focusing on Ike's words. Being distracted by disruptive kids. Karla's It is Well. Holding Sariyah in my lap. Thankful communion. Praying with Leah. Telling pre-schoolers the story of Mara (blek!). Older kids cooperating to put together a puzzle. Elbow to elbow people of different colors, ages, backgrounds, & financial standing. Special play time with Isaiah. Catching up with Kristi B. Walking home in the rain.

Saturday, November 17

Learning Leadership

Early the following spring, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes' reign, I [Nehemiah] was serving the king his wine. I had never appeared sad in his presence before this time. So the king asked me, 'Why are you so sad? You aren't sick, are you? You look like a man with deep troubles.' Then I was badly frightened, but I replied, 'Long live the king! Why shouldn't I be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been burned down.' The king asked, 'Well, how can I help you?' With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied...
Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai: 'The whole world knows that anyone who appears before the king in the his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him in more than a month'...Three days later, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her, holding out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched its tip. Then the king asked her, 'What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request?...And Esther replied, 'If it please Your Majesty...'
I was recently reading Nehemiah when I noticed a familiarity in the story with that of a story I know better - that of Queen Esther. I am struck by a couple of ideas. First of all, I am thankful to serve a King who allows me to freely enter His courtyard. He not only accepts my honor and my pleas, but he truly wants to hear the desires of my heart. I think that may be more amazing than we in our free culture can easily understand. Second, I notice deep courage - a great deal more than I have ever had to muster and more than I may even have the potential to find within me. I see selflessness. These two frightened souls put their people and those whom they love ahead of their own safety. These are fantastic accounts about amazing, strong leaders from whom I hope to learn more.

* To read more, see the books of Esther and Nehemiah in the Old Testament.

Friday, November 16

I Love Yogurt!

I love it when I have enough time to let Fiona feed herself - especially something fun like yogurt. There is nothing more amusing than a child totally engrossed in play with food (I especially love the cereal stuck to her belly!). This actually happened while I was turned away, cooking breakfast for the rest of us. Just let her go for it and throw in the tub afterwards!

Thursday, November 15

Who's In Your Five?

I read this interesting quote today:
You are the average of the five or so people you associate with most.
Thankfully I hang out with some pretty nice people, who hopefully have been influencing me through the years. On the other hand, three of my five indicate that I will be spending a portion of each day in tantrum mode! This quote really sparked for me, though, the most important question one can ask - Is Jesus one of my five?If Jesus is even just one-fifth of who I am, I will look at the world with love and hope, not shaking my head in doubt and disgust. If Jesus is part of me, I will boldly speak Truth. I will have kindness in my words, acceptance in my eyes, arms that hug and give and bless. If Jesus is in me, I will crave spending time in the Word and with our Father. I will naturally be drawn to better myself through the spiritual disciplines. If Jesus is one of my five I will be humble with my gifts, be generous with blessings, be thankful for my adversities, and be faithful in everything. If Jesus is part of who I am, the world around me will be a better place. Then anyone who is around me will, in turn, be touched by Him - making their part of the world more like Him as well.

Is Jesus one of my five?

Wednesday, November 14

Free the Rice!

A friend introduced me to a new site this evening that I can already see might be a bit of an addiction. FreeRice is a vocabulary game - for each three correct words in a row, you move up a level; each mistake drops you back down one. As a bonus, for each word correctly defined, the United Nations World Food Program receives ten grain of rice to distribute to needy countries. So not only am I playing a game, I'm getting smarter while I do it and feeding hungry families, too! How great is that?

Although I hit level 39, I really hover around 36 most comfortably. The first time Allan sat down with it, he shot right up there to 45. You know who to turn to next time you are playing Scrabble. Try it out!

Monday, November 12

Boys Will Be Boys. Girls Will Be...

Boys tend to draw trouble to themselves. As a parent of a boy, I look forward with fear and trepidation and a sense of curiosity and bemusement to the antics that will undoubtedly find Connor in the years ahead. With three older brothers, I saw this principle often at work. There was the neighbor's flooded basement, the principal's office filled with newspaper, the classroom filled with mace, and BB guns used to shoot just about anything. A friend told me the other day how he filled a lady's station wagon with dirt and used his dad's record collection as frisbees. I always assumed this was an issue for the male gender since I personally never found the attraction to such revelry. I was probably just too busy, though, protecting my dolls and the small animals of the world from explosions and various forms of torture to partake in the nuisance making. So I have been a little surprised that my sweet, innocent eldest daughter has found herself in the middle of several...shall we call them..."adventures". The latest involves a garage remote and magic tricks. She and her cousin were magically causing the garage door to lift and lower - just by commanding it to do so! It's true - I saw it myself. What happened next I did not see coming, mostly because I told them to stop playing with the remote. They must have thought, "Ah, a call for the finale! We must really show our stuff now!" Here is where they pushed the remote for the door to close and then...yes, you got it...threw the remote under the closing door - kind of like Indiana Jones' hat. Yes, of course we have another remote. Oh wait, you mean the one that Fiona took out in the rain that same week, causing it to short out. Hmmm...

Maybe I should warn the neighbors now.

Sunday, November 11

Family Portrait

My mom has been on our case for a long while about getting a family portrait taken. The one on her wall is from a time when Connor was still in diapers and we had a different third child. It was reinforced recently when Connor was asked to bring a picture of our family to school for a project, yet we could only find one that contained all five of us (minutes after Fiona was born). So, this family of photographers decided it was time to gather on the other side of the lens. Let's call this the before shot:

And this is our angelic group moments later:

Saturday, November 10

And Question 3/4

So...what next?

New possibilities have opened up. Make the change.

So what next, huh? Today's next is to wash my face, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed. Tommorrow's next is to spend some time with a few of those talked about in yesterday's post. But that's probably not quite what this question is after.

I think if I came away from this exercise with any specific ideas, it is that I want to be more deliberate. You know that freaky moment when you pull in the driveway but you can't remember the details of driving there? Your autopilot had apparently been on and got you from one place to another safely. It is so easy to go through the motions of the Sunday morning assembly without engaging one's spirit with the Spirit. At the end of the day you realize that you didn't spend time in play with your children. Weeks (or months) go by between dates with one's spouse. Just letting life happen; forgetting what it's all about. I don't want it to be like that. I want to be deliberate. I want to focus on the many areas of life that are going well and to work to improve myself in those areas that are holding me back. I want to engage with the Spirit and play with my kids and go on dates with my husband.

For now, I am going to deliberately crawl into bed.

Friday, November 9

Question #5

Who do you love?

When you think about them you smile. Love them. And be loved.

That's a pretty big question, given that our English language has so many varied meanings for love, but I'll give it a go...I love my husband - the man whom holds me back from the brink of insanity (and who painted ceramics with me on our date night tonight!). I love my children - and my almost child and any children the Lord might put in our future. I love my parents, brothers & their families, all those Cash people, and anyone else who is or would like to be related to us (because, you know, everyone should want to be related to us). I love PUMP and all the children and adults who have walked through the doors of our little dream. I love the people of Uganda whom I briefly have known. I love all the people of Scotland - whom I consider my extended family. I love the Trailblazers. I love the people of the Northwest - with our relaxed attitudes, pioneer spirit, environmental passion, and great sense of style (okay, three out of four isn't bad). I love my friends - those from my childhood who loved me through the bad haIr years, fits of jealousy, cheerleading tryouts, boy obsessions, and body image issues, and those from more recently who have loved me through pregnancies, motherhood traumas, identity crises, spiritual battles, and body image issues (still??).

There's a whole lotta love going on.

Thursday, November 8

Question #4

How do you want to be remembered?

Your epitaph is already half written. Decide how it ends.

My Nona Cash was a force with which to be reckoned. She was the true matriarch of the Cash Clan. Nona died when I was thirteen, so my impression of who she was is from a child's perspective. I remember her hugs and sitting in her lap and watching her cook. But her greatest legacy - the one that sticks with me the most? Nona as evangelist. The Lord used her to bring my Grandad to Christ - a man who led his church for many years as an influential elder. Nona & Grandad had three sons, two of whom serve as elders in their own churches today. There were eleven cousins produced, almost all faithful Christians. I think there is something like 37 kids in the next generation being taught to love the Lord and live a life in service to Him. That's Nona's legacy. That's a legacy worth pursuing.

Wednesday, November 7

Question #3

First of all, I am not cheating on my one post per day, if you noticed that some dates have changed (and really, who would have noticed that - but I feel the need to come clean). I put a bunch of post drafts up the other day but forgot to change the dates as I finished & posted them. Whew - I feel better now.

What's boring you?

Things are too comfortable. Comfortable is boring with good p.r. Stir things up!

This is a tough one. I really wish I could feel bored more often, but that is so hard when there are so many diapers to change and children to direct and miles to drive and meals to cook. Boredom sounds kind of nice right now.

The only times I can think of being bored is when Allan has control of the remote. He has some compulsion, some odd attraction to shows that have 1. guns, 2. war planes, or 3. martial arts. Say it with me now, "Booorrring." It kills me, really.

Otherwise, I don't feel stuck in a rut. Between PUMP and family, things are pretty much always on the move and always in transition. I think that's a good thing. It helps keep me thinking and dreaming about the possibilities ahead. Or, if not that, at least it keeps me focused on keeping my head above water.

Tuesday, November 6

Question #2

What are you trying to ignore?

Anxiety is a tap on your shoulder saying, "Something important is happening here!" Pay attention.

I'm afraid that I am ignoring a few important health considerations. With a family of diabetics, including a sibling, I have a huge bullseye target sitting right there on my pancreas. Can't you see it? None of us are overweight, so it is easy to think we are healthy. I'm not sure what greater motivator I could have for daily exercising, but somehow diabetes is not enough of a threat for me.

There's a few relationships that could use some healing in my life. I'm not sure how to make that happen, so I ignore the splinter. Not so wise an approach.

Everyone has dreams that creep into consciousness at times and whispers, "Why aren't you coming after me?" I wonder sometimes if I am ignoring some Spirit-led direction in my life - because to answer the whisper would be scary or hard or confusing.

I'm trying to ignore all the TO-DOs that I see around me each day - the cluttered basement, the roses that need trimming, the cookies that should be baked...

*shiver* I'm feeling somewhat vulnerable at the moment, so I think I'll go do something else and ignore these feelings.

Monday, November 5

Question #1

My friend Jennifer, over at Creative Outlet Labs has introduced her readers to Canadian executive coach Michael Bungay Stanier and his 5 3/4 Questions You've Been Avoiding. I figure that if I work through one question per day, I'll be a whole new person by mid-afternoon on Saturday!

What's going well for you?

My marriage is probably my greatest team success story. Allan and I talk deeply, argue well, laugh often, and genuinely enjoy each other.

My kids are not out-of-control and I have not caused them any intentional physical harm (how's that for looking at the positive!). Although parenting is a tough process, my children are generally sweet kids who hug me a lot, make me laugh, and dance & wrestle with me with reckless abandon. They are healthy, active, and on target developmentally.

We are financially stable. We have a home and a car and can pay our bills on time (or close to it).

I have a wonderful extended family to whom I am immensely proud to be related. Everyone is healthy. No one is too much of embarrassment to handle.

My job is one for which I feel deep passion.

I am enjoying the age I am, the health I have, and the ways I am growing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Although we do not connect as much as I would like, there are seasoned friendships in my life that bring me much peace.

We get to live in Portland - a place I deeply love (especially on a sunny fall day like today).

Sunday, November 4

Clearing Out the Clutter

I spent much of this weekend packing up my brother's house for their move across town. There is nothing like rifling through drawers and closets to remind us of how much extra clutter we have in our lives. I guess it would have been easier just to look in my basement, though, to learn that lesson. Despite my recent valiant efforts to single-handedly supply thrift stores with years worth of fodder, I would bet there are a dozen boxes that we have yet to even open since we moved in two years ago. Obviously these are not greatly needed items in our life. Even if we did desire some boxed away treasure at some point, we would have no idea where to find it; we'd either have to give up said need or buy a replacement. I'm not really sure why I ever thought I should keep every set of notes in every notebook from every college and grad school class I ever took. These will be a great resource! Maybe, just maybe, in the era before the internet that could make some sense. But now? They are just boxes taking up space - space that could be better used as a place to exercise or sort laundry. So here's to de-cluttering. Here's to sorting through boxes to clear the excess away. Here's to convenient thrift store drop off sites. And maybe this winter, here's to using Psych 101 papers as fire starter.

Saturday, November 3

On Being an Extraordinary Woman

From John McCarthy's Twelve Extraordinary Women:
Wherever the gospel has spread, the social, legal, and spiritual status of women has, as a rule, been elevated. When the gospel has been eclipsed (whether by repression, false religion, secularism, humanistic philosophy, or spiritual decay within the church), the status of women has declined accordingly.
This message is extraordinary! The Bible and the message of Christ is one that brings honor and value to women, even when that view is, at the least, counter-cultural, and at most, seen as heretical.


And on another note - Yay Ducks!

Friday, November 2


November is National Blog Posting Month. Who knew? I have accepted the challenge to write a post each day this month. Why? you ask? Good question. I guess I like a challenge. Have I ever told you about how my dad said that if I chose to go to school in Europe for a semester that there's no way I would be able to pay for it and he'd end up having to bail me out? His lack of trust in my assurances (or was he just being clever?), angered me enough to get two jobs the summer prior and work myself silly to have enough money. Granted, I didn't eat most of semester (one of the professors wives insisted I take her jar of peanut butter in order to get some protein while traveling) and I got to bring home very few souvenirs. I spent my very last $3 for an ice cream cone in LAX on the return trip home. Dad gave me not a nickel for that journey of a lifetime. HA! Challenge me, will you? Shoot - it's already November 2nd, so I've already failed. But that takes the pressure off, right? On your mark. Get set. Blog!