Sunday, May 29, 2011

Follow Through Friday - on Sunday

It's 10:52 Sunday morning and I am sitting by gate 58 at Kansas City International Airport. Getting ready to be here was no small task - which is my very valid reason for not posting on Friday. I know that if I had been getting paid to blog, that post would have been written on time, and I would be sitting here, probably starting another blog post. But, I'm not getting paid, and I knew any of you who visit here would understand.

We are on the way to Hawaii. I have all kinds of emotions surrounding that fact. I'm excited. A tiny bit nervous - I have a love/hate relationship with flying. I don't like being that far above the ground. I love having hours to read, think, sleep, etc. And, I feel incredibly, undeservedly blessed. Why do I get to do this? This time away with my family is such a gift. Even the little bickering that's already surfaced a couple of times this morning - I'm thankful for the reminder that they aren't perfect, I'm not perfect. We are all, to quote a dear friend, in process. And thankfully, these 7 people love me in the middle of my messy processing.

And unbelievably, we get to continue processing together for a week in Hawaii. Wow.

Thank you, Lord, for today and what you have for us. All glory to you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Don't Be Boring."

Christopher Hitchens, well known intellectual, author, and atheist was mentioned on twitter recently. He has esophageal cancer and his prognosis is not good. Wanting to learn a bit more, I googled him and found a March 6, 2011, interview he gave on 60 minutes. Of that 12 minute talk, the part that reverberated in my head was the following:

His father was a naval officer, and his mother was the first real splash of color in an otherwise drab existence. She told him the only unforgivable sin was to be boring, and he has rarely committed it. She aspired for him to go to Oxford and become a proper English gentleman - and one of those wishes came true. (March 6, 2011 CBS 60 Minutes)

Christopher Hitchens remembered something his mom had told him. And it sounds like he took it seriously.  Now I'm not putting all of who Christopher Hitchens turned out to be on his mom's shoulders - or on those words. But just hearing that, reading that, made me ask myself, "What words of mine reverberate (or will reverberate) in my kids' heads?

I immediately winced  because I knew I could predict at least one statement they would say if I asked them the "what words reverberate" question. I did summon the courage a couple of days ago to do just that. I relayed this story about Hitchens and then asked, "Ok, now - and remember, be nice - what would you say I'm known for saying a lot? Pretend you are older, and you have kids. Finish the following statement: My mom used to always say _______."

It's funny, but only one of them voiced my predicted, dreaded answer. Elizabeth immediately echoed what she'd frequently heard come from my mouth, "Have you done your chore today?" I wince again typing that. But, I knew it would come up, because I ask it almost every day. Obviously, I need a different system of accountability in place. Threatening repeating parents are never winsome.(I am taking notes....)

Elizabeth did follow quickly with, "and, Hold a high head and a booming tail and go on!" I'm kind of glad about that one, though, because it's straight from my mom's mouth and it helped me through a million awkward moments. Nervous? Not sure what to do, but you have to do something? No getting out of an awkward situation? Hold a high head and a booming tail and go on.  Thanks, Mom. Your grandkids are hearing your voice through me.

Hannah, sweet thing, says she hears me saying, "Rise and Shine!" And, surprisingly, she said that without a hint of bitterness at me being the one who daily disturbed her slumber. This made me feel like she was glad my voice was the first one she heard most days.

Faith, who I asked as quickly as I could because, as usual, she was running in the house to get something she needed before she went to the next place she was going. "Many hands make light work!"  And with that, Whoosh!  She was gone. I guess she figured that comment needed no explanation. And, it really didn't - but I am noticing a bit of a theme here...

Then Mary Grace chimed in. Hers is the only one that I almost want to take issue with. She said, "You are always asking me, 'Mary, will you take the dog out?'"  I have to believe she was feeling especially put upon about this chore the day I asked this. Please, let this not be my legacy!

The boys' answer reflects what some may say is  typical for males. My two have issues with misplacing, well, everything. So it was no surprise when they answered my question with the question that they know they'll hear from me the minute they tell me they've lost something. "Where is the last place you absolutely, for sure, remember having it?"  Ok, I do think they will find this question useful the rest of their lives. It's the starting question they'll use as they retrace their steps to find the lost object de jour.

This was an interesting exercise for me - and telling. And surprising. And so very... everyday. I think I expected them to say something a little more profound. But we live in the very everyday, don't we? And I think I'm forgetting how profound everyday and the everyday really is.

Will these statements, given by my kids at their still young ages, be my signature statements in their minds? I guess time will tell. I am glad to have this post that chronicles what they were thinking in May 2011. And this post has most definitely made me do some more thinking. Thinking about what I'm saying, because, contrary to what I think a lot of the time, my kids are listening.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Through Friday - Weed Party

Can I confess here that I don't mind weeding? Actually, enjoy it?  My kids are once again shaking their heads at the things their mother "enjoys."  I don't enjoy it in the sense that it would be on my top 10 list of favorite things to do.  It's a necessary, unavoidable, dirty, usually sweaty, task. But just like any work that could be described with these same adjectives, weeding has its positive side.

1. It makes an immediate improvement in the way things look.
2. It takes no real mental effort. (Isn't that nice, sometimes?)
3. I can sit down while I do it. (Thank you, David -see 3/25 post)
4. I have complete control over those weeds.
5. Great think time.
6. Or, great listen to an audio book/podcast time.
7. I'm outside.
8. When kids help, I enjoy interesting conversation.
9. I imagine I'm bringing my own Secret Garden to life (love that story).
10. My dad loved working in the dirt, and I spent many hours alongside him, doing just that.

As I reread my Follow Through from last week, I intimated that it was something I try to put off because I dread it.

Yard work is screaming at me again. I've been effectively squelching it up to this point, but some weeds have reached small tree status. I need the accountability of reporting next week to get 'er done.

I don't dread it, but I can put it off because the daily working of the family isn't sent into a tailspin if the weeds are taller than the shrubs. We jumped on it this week though, just a little, between the rain showers, and helped the look of things around here.

Unfortunately, I am posting this on Friday night - the key word in that sentence being night, when it is dark outside. I took before pictures in the sunlight, but neglected to take any after pictures in that same sunlight. There's a reason for that. The 3 younger girls and I were having our weed party yesterday, when a certain reptile decided to crash it. 
Elizabeth, Mary Grace, Faith, entertaining snake, Komo

Obviously, this was a distraction, and by the time we finished taking pictures of it and watching it slither off into the woods, it was time to shed the garden gloves and move on to the next thing happening around here. So, I'll have to post those in my next Follow Through. In fact,  next week,  pictures of completed tasks is really all I can foresee getting done as we prepare for Hawaii. And for those of you who may remember the post I did on Mary Grace's garden, I'll try to include pictures of that completed project too. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God in a Greeting

The Encounter at FBC Bolivar, where I attend church, is having a scripture memory emphasis this summer. Since we are studying the book of James, all the verses being chosen to memorize are from that rich, rich book. Being on the leadership team that helps plan the worship service, I am in on the discussion of which verses we plan to memorize.

That first week we read through the first few verses of James 1 out loud. This was what Billy was preaching on and we wanted the memory verse to come from there.  The person reading stopped after 1:1, which says,

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings."

The comment made went something like, "Well, obviously, we don't want to memorize that as a congregation." I agreed, as did everybody else in the room, but then I proceeded to tell them what I'm about to tell you.

God reminds me of something every time I think of those words. These words in this greeting. In times past, I typically read quickly - even scanned - the beginning of the letters in the New Testament,  so I can hurry up and get to the good parts. But a couple of years ago, I decided to try to memorize the book of James. My brother had told me about a girl in his church in Washington that had recited the whole book during one of their church services and how powerful it was. I was becoming more and more convicted of my need for putting God's word in my heart in a more permanent way, so I decided to give this a try. So far, I have only memorized the first chapter - and if pressed to recite it right now, I would stumble horribly.

But it was in the memorizing of that first verse that God spoke to  me. I was saying those words from James 1:1 one day, when it hit me how James had described himself. He said he was a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. God nudged me and asked, "How would you describe yourself? Could you replace James with Shelley? Are you really my servant?"

Wow. Big questions from what I typically had considered a gloss-overable greeting. Memorizing had slowed me down enough to have to really think about what was being said. And what was being said was big. Nothing in God's word is just filler.

God is in the greeting.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Follow Through Friday - My Maps

I've mentioned here before that I love maps. Just looking at globes and maps makes my heart beat a little faster. The world is so big and there's so much to see and do and learn. A world map and a U.S. map are prominently displayed in our family room.
When I bought these, my plan was for each person in our family to have a different color map pin that they would stick in the map showing all the places they had been.  But after I thought about that a while, I wondered if our U.S. map might turn into one big map pin. And even at this point, we are undecided about what to do with it. We've discussed marking where we've lived and places we've vacationed as a family - but even that seems a bit pin heavy. I'd love to hear any thoughts or suggestions any of you may have regarding how to mark it.

The world map is another story. We've done some traveling, but not enough to worry about pin overcrowding. My biggest hurdle with marking it was actually sticking the first pin in those perfectly mounted maps.

I was concerned that I wouldn't like it, and then I'd have a gaping hole that would stick out like a sore thumb. This Follow Through was just the push I needed. I stuck that first pin into Sri Lanka and after that, there was no turning back.

Some of you may remember the movie While You Were Sleeping. In it, Sandra Bullock's character wants to travel just to get her passport stamped. (I love that too!) I want to travel for a lot of different reasons, but I have to be honest and say that I do want to be able to put more pins in my world map. Hannah is hoping to study abroad in Italy in 2012. If that happens, Lou and I plan to visit. My map pin is ready.

Next Week: Yard work is screaming at me again. I've been effectively squelching it up to this point, but some weeds have reached small tree status. I need the accountability of reporting next week to get 'er done.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Follow Through Friday - Hawaii

Crazy. Our family is going to Hawaii. And here's how I put my Follow Through task last week.

Next week: We are going to Hawaii at the end of May. I want to get some materials together to present to the family - both for educational purposes and to build excitement. (nerd alert lights are flashing)

After I wrote that, I imagined some of you thinking, "She needs to build excitement for a trip to Hawaii?!" No, I don't. That part was more for my kiddos, in case they read my blog. I'm trying to sell the notion that education -knowledge- builds excitement for whatever you are doing.

This will be my 3rd trip to those islands. Oahu was the first place the mission group I was a part of back in 1984 stopped and sang on our way to our other destinations - Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.
Flyer that was distributed in Hong Kong
 After completing 3 months in those amazing places, I ended with a week vacation in Hawaii and stayed with my brother, who was stationed there at the time.
My friends Sue, Tina, and a 22 yr old me at the Dole pineapple show
Who is that girl? Wow, a lot has happened since then. God has been faithful. So faithful. And Lord willing, that girl, and 7 other people she loves dearly will get to enjoy the beauty of the Aloha state at the end of May.

So, what am I doing to educate? Well, map lover that I am, I have a map of Oahu and the Hawaiian islands up next to our table in the kitchen. I'll be blabbing to the kids about the 8 major islands and I've printed out some interesting facts about Hawaii. I plan on introducing my sporadic espousing of that information with the same 3 words over the next 3 weeks. I'm going to call it "Did you know....? and then fill the dots with all the cool stuff I've found. Hey, you never know when the next "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" opportunity may come their way. Or, if they land on Jeopardy and the category is Hawaii, I want them to be able to say, "Hawaii for $1000 please."

Also, since we are visiting Pearl Harbor, I plan on going into its history in greater detail. Just surfing tonight, I found what looks like some good documentaries on You Tube. And I have been known to make my kids watch documentaries.

So hopefully, this effort on my part will help us all learn a little bit more about where we are going and increase our enjoyment of it.

Wow, we get to go to Hawaii. Crazy.

Next Week: Purchase map pins for our world map and then put those puppies in it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Regrets

We all have regrets.

One of my dad's was that he listened to the little boys who teased him when he began to take violin lessons.  He said they would make the "shame on you" hand gesture. (I wish that was the worst gesture people made with fingers today...)  Anyway, he hated that. So much so that he stopped playing the violin.

His violin collected dust for years until my parents retired and downsized. I brought it to my home because I liked the way it looked and the story it told.

A couple of years after he died, Mary Grace announced that she'd like to take violin lessons.  We've been through some ups and downs on that road - and I have a couple of regrets - but we've turned a corner. We are on the way up. As I have sat in on her lessons and listened to her work and struggle and yet, persevere, I wrote the following words.


She's doing a hard thing
This baby girl of mine
Making music from those strings
Is not easy all the time.

But what skills come with ease?
Without costing mind and heart?
For those, you don't do as you please
That's known right from the start.

Her wooden tool - from the youth of my dad
Kept silent for all these years
To hear her play would make him glad
Pride and joy would move to tears.

Her right hand holds his horsehair bow
Fingers curved, but not too tight,
The other hand cradles the neck just so
Fingers up and ready to strike.

The music begins, we hear her play.
Play? Her work does translate just so.
"Bravo!" is what our mouth must say
Beauty heard through the highs and lows.

 I'm ending with a video that I recorded last weekend. It's Mary Grace and her fellow violin students playing "My Heart Will Go On," the theme from Titanic. (She is standing next to the boy.) I botched the video at the end because I didn't know what I was doing as I tried to zoom in, so there are some distracting clicks and blurry frames. Sorry about that. I regret not knowing how to properly run the camera. But I absolutely do not regret all the blood, sweat, and tears that have brought us to a point where she can play such beautiful music. We haven't arrived, but we are on the path.

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." Galatians 6:9