Tuesday, December 22, 2009
"Mommy, don't be afraid!" June is holding an angel ornament above my head. "I come to tell you good news!"
"Oh!" I say. "What's the good news, angel?"
"Trust in the Lord and I will carry you to Bethlehem to see the baby king."
So, we "travel" to "Bethlehem" and find the baby Jesus lying under a blanket with Mary and Joseph nestled up next to him.
"Angel," I say, "will you sing, now?"
"Sure!" And here is her song:
Glory to the newborn King, glory to the newborn King,
Christ is born in Bethlehem, glory to the newborn King.
Gloria in excelsis deo (this line is translated through mommy-ears)
Do I wonder if she's getting the right message with Christmas? Of course. There are days when all she wants to talk about is Santa Claus and presents. But then we have Angel Days. And I sigh a little, knowing that sometimes this mommy-business is just a little out of my hands. I gotta trust my Boss a little. He's at a higher pay grade.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Check out this great video adaptation of the Jesus Storybook Bible version of Jesus' Birth- "He's Here!" and click on the logo above to see more about this great children's Bible (free downloads, too!).
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
“No, seriously! I can do this!”
“What? Don’t you believe me?”
“Well, let’s think about it for awhile, ok?”
Translation: He’s giving it six months.
Ok. He has a point. I already have a home business, am involved with a local mom’s group, teach kids at a Tuesday morning Bible study, have two blogs, an obsession with Facebook, a greenhouse and six chickens. Can our family vision handle another project?
Here’s the problem. Homeschooling isn’t just another project. It’s THE project. I could outline my fifty good reasons and the answers for all your questions, but let’s just shorten it to this:
1) I will not hide my daughter away from the world, or vice versa.
2) Socialization doesn’t happen at a desk, limited only to your peers. It happens out in the world with all sorts of real people.
3) I’m not lazy, I’m crazy. You’d have to be crazy to think that home schooling is easy.
Homeschooling seems to be gaining popularity these days, or I just have lots of crazy friends.
Either way there is a ton of information out there. I could write a whole week of blog posts about the great resources that are out there for homeschool families. I‘ve read tons of books and articles and interviewed friends and strangers alike. I‘ve joined chat groups, follow blogs and have a journal where I write it all down. Research is not the hard part. The hard part is sticking to it, day by day, and being disciplined.
Who knows my adorable, strong-willed, smart little girl better than me? Who is better equipped to teach her than me? We already do "school" at home with sorting/counting (math), books/abc (reading/writing) as well as science, dance and music. Each year adds more structure, more planning, more thought. Sounds fun to me!
I'm so excited about the idea... anyone out there with me? Are you thinking about homeschooling? Why? Why not? Are you already doing it? Why did you decide to homeschool? Please leave your comments below! I need to know! Oh- and don't forget to scroll down and enter the contest to win the Jesus Storybook Bible! The contest will be up before you know it!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
I'm about to tell you how big our church is, but first I have to explain that living in a small city like Bend, 3 hours from another Costco, it's rare to find a large group of people congregating, anywhere. One example of a crowd you see often is at the base of the Pine Marten chair lift at 8:59 am on December 26th. But that's mostly tourists.
Needless to say, Westside Church is fairly large and you can certainly feel lost in the crowd, but now that we've been attending there for over five years, I feel like an established part of this community. So here I was, sitting in the back. I began to recognize people: a woman from a Bible Study I participated in a few years ago, a man in my husband's men's group, a family whose kids are friends with our kid, a single mom from our MOPS group, a woman who works at the local grocery store, my insurance guy, a customer of mine... the list goes on. It hits me all of a sudden: I belong here. I love these people. They help me walk through life, transformed rather than conformed to the world. Not a superficial thing, at all. And impossible to do, alone.
I usually try not to wax too spiritual in my blog, but I can't help myself. I'm a deeply spiritual person barely contained by some very thin layers of superficiality and vague appropriateness. What I want to know is, what do you value about your spiritual community? Or what do you wish for in a spiritual community? Answer the question as a response to this posting by November 30th (Facebookers, you have to actually go to the blog) and you could win a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, deluxe edition. This children's Bible is unique in that it relates every story in the Bible back to Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. I love it and I hope you will too. I'll draw a name from the comments at the end of the month.
This blog is quickly becoming about community, and I'm excited to see your comments, about yours! Oh yeah, and I picked that photo 'cuz the happy crowd-surfing girl kind of looks like me. But she's not. She's from Lollapalooza.com.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- A mostly empty bottle of Dr. Pepper in the back of my fridge belongs to my friend’s husband. He loves the stuff. Our family doesn’t care for it. But there it is, in the back of our fridge, and it always makes me think of him. They helped us build a greenhouse. Our girls are best friends. We love them.
- A bag of rice flour in the baking cupboard reminds me of our good friend who has Celiac’s Disease (he can’t eat gluten). My husband likes to bake and will make gluten-free treats when this friend comes by. We like having this honorary “uncle” around for our daughter to love.
- A pizza in our freezer. It’s waiting to be shared with someone, given to a hungry family, or maybe just a reminder that we will not go hungry, today. My life is bigger than just me. Feeding people is a small thing I can do to be Jesus with skin on for someone else.
“Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that‘s in you, love him with all you‘ve got! Write these commandments that I‘ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9 - The Message
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Truthfully, it's been ten years, but it's only been six (Sept. 20) since the day I walked barefoot through the oak trees to meet him as my husband for the first time. I can honestly say it was the happiest day of my life. I could say that about childbirth, but I'd be lying. Part of our lifestyle commitment has been to encourage other couples to hang in there, make it work, and find creative ways to love each other. We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we are committed! Here are some simple ways to love your spouse this fall:
- play in the leaves together
- have a coffee date in the middle of the day
- turn off the t.v. and talk
- praying together
- jumping on the trampoline (great for aggression!)
- sharing common interests and making time for them- especially active ones like snowboarding, running or hiking
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
So, lately people have been asking me which blogs I follow. I scramble to think of a few, depending on the person, and e-mail a list from my "favorites" menu. We all have people in our lives who inspire and motivate us. I'm talking about people who make you want to sit down and write that novel. Or dance. Or spontaneously sing. This blog post is for a few of you girls out in blog-land (random fact: they're all moms) that I look to when I need a Tori-style pick-me-up. I follow a lot of blogs that encourage and inspire me, but these are among the ones who write of more than family news and pictures of their kids (i.e., I don't think they'll mind me sharing). So, here goes:
Bee Repartee Jenn (we have a weird family connection that is better left unexplored) is some sort of soul-sister and is a good writer, a rare thing these days. She has a good balance of mommy stories, life lore and ponderings. Her writing style is like mine, but with more wisdom and humor. Seriously, Bee- you always make me laugh.
This Simple Life- I "found" Toni one day when I was blog-hopping, looking for inspiration for my own blog. She is an earthy homeschooling mom who seems to appreciate the beauty and spontaneity of childhood exploration. She beautifully captures the little moments that are rest stops on that sometimes treacherous path of mommy-hood. Toni makes me want to paint my house with home-made finger paints. Though I'm not sure either of us would let our kids do it.
Steady Mom Jamie is a homeschooling mom, among other things. Steady Mom is also an international mommy- two of her kids are adopted from other parts of the world. I love her blog because she gives away wisdom, great ideas and a place to discuss the things that weigh on our hearts as mothers. Inspirational, for sure.
And, of course, Bo Stern... I rarely read anything she writes without saying, "oh, wow- she should get up in front of people and talk about this stuff... oh, wait, she does!" She writes exactly as she speaks and I love that about her style. She also names her kids cool things like "Tori." If I didn't go to her church and share a name with her daughter I might qualify as a mere stalker. Instead, she's a secret mentor of mine.
OK- Time for a freebie- Sign up to "follow" my blog and post a comment to this post. At the end of September I will randomly pick someone to receive a copy of "A Quiet Place: Essays on Life and Family" by Peggy O'Mara (one of my favorite people), publisher and editor of Mothering Magazine. These are amazing and quick-reading essays about mothering, life and the world around us. Tell your friends!
Friday, August 21, 2009
As a younger woman I bought into the lie that beauty was unattainable. I believed in my heart that my God saw me as beautiful, regardless of how I viewed myself. I even understood that the lie existed. But the lie permeated my life so completely that I became obsessed with ignoring it. Pretending it didn't hurt when I didn't match up. Pretending the comments from long ago didn't still scream out loud inside my head. It wasn’t until I became a mother that the truth actually made sense and murdered the lie.
My body was so stretched and full and bloated with another purpose, another life, that I ceased to exist. I had to scream and cry and scratch and bleed, laboring for a child’s life, not caring who saw or why. My heart had to be broken by the loss of a hopeful dream of natural childbirth followed by the anger, bargaining, depression and finally inevitable acceptance that I was simply out cold, unavailable, flat on an operating table when my child entered the world. I had to physically restrain myself from ripping monitors, wires and tubes off her tiny body so I could hold her skin to skin as if we had never been apart, fleeing from the hospital, a thief and a runaway. Walking into my own home, I had to feel the strangeness of my skin: the unfamiliarity of the new me. Who is this woman?
Through stretch marks, flaps and bulges I saw something beautiful and amazing. I saw a woman where before there had only been a girl. The rite of passage of childbirth had brought forth in me something completely and wholly pleasant. It is a sweet thing that the baby needs me and loves me unconditionally, but this goes deeper. I was made for this. I was made to mother, to love, to nurture, to set aside my own interests so I teach my daughter her own song. All the idealistic dreams of my youth gave way to the realization that I am finally, right now, doing something that matters. Please don't think that I'm saying this is the only way to make a difference, just know that it was the way for me.
I believe it is a divine love that created us, loves us unconditionally and longs to be near to us. But it is the everyday perspective of that love that breaks me and brings me to tears. How can God love me even more than I love this little girl? God’s purpose for me is now so clear: I made you to be lovely, be yourself, love well. Now, teach her to do the same.
How do I now pass that promise to my own daughter? Exposing her to real women, real mothers, real daughters, not glossy magazine pin-ups will only prolong the inevitable: she will be hurt by this. It is the wound we bear as women. But wounds are inevitable and will either break us or make us stronger. I only hope I can be there to hold her close when she comes forth from her own pain, when she sees her own transformed beauty for the first time.
As a younger woman I bought into the lie that beauty was unattainable. Now, as a mother, I understand that beauty is not mine to decide. And the uncomfortable truth: It's not about me at all.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Leslie Harold Whitehead was born on a small farm in Roy, Washington in 1919. One of several boys, the joke goes, his mother (Elsie) wanted a girl and insisted on dressing him in girl clothes. Or maybe that was just a family joke referring to the girlie baby clothes of the day. Either way, my grandpa was always good for a joke and took it as well as he dished it out. Maybe that's why he was such a great runner. He ran track and was apparently quite good at it.
Grandpa went to medical school and served some time in WWII. During his time in the war he spent hours searching his heart and the Bible for truth. Apparently he found it, since he became a pastor and was serving in that capacity when he was debilitated by polio in his mid-twenties. He was wearing a body cast and braces on his legs when He heard God say, "Loose him and let him go." He went upstairs, took off the cast and braces, and never put them back on. I don't think he was ever able to run, again, but that didn't stop him from running "the race marked out" for him (Hebrews 12:1). Let it be noted that I didn't know this about my grandpa until after he died. He walked with a very slight limp, the only sign of having struggled with polio.
Les served as a pastor and travelled more than once to Africa, Haiti, and Israel. He pastored churches all over the northwest and eventually became superintendent of the Northwest Conference of Free Methodist Churches. After that he and Grandma spent a year pastoring in the Philippines and years building up churches here in the Northwest USA. He was diagnosed with cancer and died in November of 1994. The final word: Two memorial services, one in Centralia, WA at a church he pastored there just before his death and one at First Church in Seattle, WA. Both packed out. Completely. My grandfather touched thousands of lives. That touches me.
Things I will always remember about Grandpa:
- He wasn't allowed to play cards growing up (too much like gambling), but he taught me to play poker (and a million other games, coining the term, "who dealt this lousy mess of cards?" just before winning, with a grin)
- He traditionally scored at least 200 in a game of Scrabble. He insisted on playing upside down.
- Grandpa was an amazing storyteller. His three pigs stories will live on in infamy (and on cd). He also read the entire Chronicles of Narnia, much of it on tape, for his grandchildren.
- He doubted God's word, sought the truth, and found it. In God's word. He didn't always have the right answers, but he was a great preacher. Or maybe that made him a great preacher.
- In his final years I remember him reading the entire Bible each month. He memorized large portions of scripture, some which he recited on his deathbed.
- A great sense of humor and a still air of melancholy both defined him.
- Grandma didn't like his driving. She still talks about it. No joke.
- "He spent his life teaching people to live, he spent his last year teaching people how to die."- Grandma Esther. He spent time in his last year travelling to nursing homes telling people about Jesus. He led many to Jesus through his own illness and imminent mortality.
- He did not want people saying untrue things about him in death, such as: "he could fix anything," "he always knew the right thing to say," "he was such a great man." Sorry, Grandpa. You were a great man. But you were never good with tools.
- My middle name is Leslie.
I would love to read the comments of family who have other memories of him...I'm sure I could write much more, but this is just a snapshot. Here's a link to his obituary. Couldn't find a picture online, but maybe I'll put one on, myself if one of you tech-saavy elders (with a scanner) can pass one on to me. See you soon, Grandpa. Further in and further up.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I'm inspired by his story, probably in the most pedestrian of ways. Barack Obama appears to be a man who has dealt with the crap in his life and has been able to rise above it. It wasn't poverty that dealt him challenges as much as the lack of a father, instability in his home life, and a bi-racial heritage. He didn't take much time to feel sorry for himself, in life. Instead he chose to dive head first into everything he did. One of his greatest accomplishments, in my opinion, was his marriage to a woman who is probably even smarter than he is (can you tell I LOVE Michelle Obama?). The woman supported him when he was a community organizer and pro-bono laywer. Now she has the strength to step back and be a mother first when she has the opportunity to yield great power as the first lady. The girl knows what she wants!
Ok, but this book isn't about Michelle, it's about Barack. From his childhood through his first days in office, this book covers it all in great detail. I'm sure I'll hang on to this book as a memory of that day he stood in front of all of us and said, for the first time as our President (and I cried tears of real amazement that we managed to elect someone like this):
"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."
A few disapointments about this book:
1) The author doesn't seem to know his audience. The text alternates between incredibly simplified to obtuse and boring. This is a young reader's edition and could have been crafted a little more carefully with the audience in mind. Especially the first chapter, which should be the attention getter (not the overview, as in a short article).
2) A full page devoted to the foibles of Sarah Palin and barely a scratch on Joe Biden. I understand the pop-culture mania around Palin at the time of this book's publication, but it's a little annoying in an intented historical perspective of a campaign.
3) Most of the material in this book came directly from New York Times articles or from Obama's two published books, "Dreams of My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." These are all great sources, but seemed a little heavy in the annotations.
Thanks to Mom Central and Mothertalk for the great opportunity to review this book and to relive the campaign days of 2008.!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
January- Now is the time to start thinking about your garden! Pore over old seed catalogues, start a gardening journal to keep track of your plans. Drink a lot of tea and daydream as much as possible. Go out and tromp around in the snow, thinking of how great your garden will look in a few short months. Word of wisdom: don't kill your houseplants because you forgot to water in the midst of your springtime daydream.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
There is a great deal of debate about this right now. I tend to fall in the "good" camp (anyone who knows me on Facebook can attest to my addiction).
- This is not deep friendship
- It is wasting your time
- It is selfish and self-centered
- What are you actually accomplishing?
- Is there any personal growth that can come from this?
- Is it dangerous for our kids?
Here's my take:
- It IS deep friendship and here's why: I'm a stay-at-home mom which means that the last time I finished a sentence without being interrupted (outside of nap time) was almost three years ago. Being able to dictate when and how I finish my thought is a powerful tool for me. This relates to e-mail, too. The second I pick up the phone she's onto me. But I can jot down a quick thought to a friend on her page and be done with it in 10 seconds. Which one makes a better friend? The one who actually reaches out in a filtered environment without having to wipe bottoms in the background of the conversation.
- It is NOT wasting my time. I have a home business, am in leadership at our MOPS group and am co-leading a Bible Study of 20 women. I also have family and friends scattered to the far winds. What better way to keep track of everyone, all in one place! Granted, not all those friendships will be deep ones, but that's why there are FILTERS, PEOPLE! Use your settings. I'm even in a book group that meets on Facebook.
- It is a little self-centered, but people are inherently self-focused. It's a survival mechanism. You don't have to be my "friend" if you don't want to. If you DO want to know what's going on in my life or what I've been thinking about, all you have to do is hop on my Facebook, follow the links to our blogs or website or just send me a quick note. I post a lot of pics because so many of our peeps are out of town and we're too broke to send real pictures. Also- it makes me happy to see them. Some of the content is truly obnoxious, but I've just reconnected with some old friends and they might want a quick synopsis of my life in top-ten form. It's a good way to fill in the gaps of years that have been lost. Which is why the article, Facebook is For Old Fogies is so funny to me. And right on.
- I am accomplishing something important. Moms are inherently lonely and prone to depression (not this one, anymore- praise God). We need a place to connect so we don't feel isolated. It's great to get out once or twice a month for a play-date, but that's not really enough time to fuel a deep friendship. Facebook (and other social networking sites) allow you to fill in the time gaps between conversations. You can skip over all the "what did you do for Christmas?" and "what is your husband's name, again?" because you read all that on Facebook.
- There are many other great things about Facebook: you can share articles and ideas, network, promote yourself and your business, and, my personal favorite, hold yourself accountable. If you don't want pictures of yourself, drunk, to show up on Facebook, maybe you shouldn't be going out to the bars after work. Duh. Same reasoning with infidelity or anything else. How many nasty and awkward conversations have I avoided in real-life by recognizing blatant political differences on someone's Facebook page? I have a foot-in-mouth problem, and Facebook helps me think now, act later.
- The world is a dangerous place. The truth is that I'm terrified of my daughter reaching that age. I'll be one of those annoying parents who reads everything she writes to everyone, knows all her logins and always keeps the computer in the living room. But I'll also give her some chances to build trust with me and to make good decisions for herself. I don't think it's responsible for people to let their 12 year-old kids cruise unchaperoned ANYWHERE, let alone online. Facebook is not the most dangerous place kids could be- you can help set their privacy settings, control who sees their content and whose content they see, etc. It's more structured than a lot of places online, including many chatrooms in seemingly innocent places.
Final thoughts: It's fun. It's free. It's better than MySpace (which I never joined because it always felt a little creepy to me). I really do cruise through my friends and check in on them now and then. I'm not constantly reading everyone's pages, but sometimes (because God is cool like this) someone will come to mind. I hop on their page, check in, pray for them and move on. I'm a much better friend with Facebook than I could ever be on my own. My best friendships exist outside of cyberspace. But I still check in on them on Facebook.