Friday, July 31, 2009

Sea glass is so lovely

Taking a leisurely walk on the beach in the morning with the hubs, the ocean's frothy waves roll onto my feet and I spot a little treasure. You don't find too many intact seashells these days but you can still find wonders. Yesterday I began collecting something new...I now collect sea glass.

Sea glass is created when a piece of glass falls into the ocean. Stupid knuckleheads chuck beer and soda bottles into the ocean and the water and sand tumble and smooth the sharp edges. The result is pretty pieces of smooth, frosted glass in a variety of colors.

The more I searched for sea glass, the more I found!

Sometimes I'd find sea glass in a mass of shells and sand. I'd see slivers of shells made of tans and soft oranges and suddenly, a piece of sea glass in a minty green or a gentle turquoise would emerge. Or a beautiful piece of amber sea glass would peek in sand, the result of a wave. My heart skipped a beat when that would happen.

Later in the day, two of my OS joined me and soon we began a new collection...of shark's teeth. And then I began another new collection, I began searching for shells to spell my name. I thought it would be impossible to find a "Y" and no sooner had I said that, when I gazed at a shell in my hand and realized that a "Y" was carved right on the shell! Talk about fun!

But sea glass and I have a few things in common. I confess that there are some jagged places in my past and plenty of broken pieces. Life has tumbled me about and I have been tossed by the waves of the world. As I reflect on my life, the good and the bad, the things I did to myself and others and the things that have happened to me, I have seen how the Lord has used those pieces formerly tossed aside to ultimately make something of worth. He has smoothed out the rough places, (ok, some of the rough places as I'm an ongoing project!) and the things I assumed were junk and created a person of greater value. Like sea glass, I have experienced a transformation. I am a new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

We have one more day to go before going home. I can't wait to comb the sand for more sea glass to serve as a memory of what God can do for even a wretch like me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My New Job

Well I wasn't going to be looking for a new job, that is until

YESTERDAY!

I was minding my own business at Carolina Beach, just waiting for my food order. I began reading Beach Buzz and an ad grabbed my attention. It spoke to an undiscovered part of
me. You know I like making things but I never imagined this.

I have been working in the non-profit industry for nearly eight years but now I'm ready to bring in some cold, hard cash making...

LAMPS
And not just regular lamps, friends.

I'm gonna make SQUIRREL LAMPS!!!

And I know the first squirrel I can use. It's the one Ike took a picture of several weeks ago. A lounging squirrel lamp would be perfect in someone's living room.

Our neighbors recently had a 25 pound snapping turtle on their lawn. Our neighbor was so freaked out about it, he knocked on our door and the hubs lugged it back to the pond. It jumped and did its customary snapping thing at the hubs. Next time it comes 'round here, I'm going to have the hubs capture it and I can work on making a snapping turtle lamp for a deserving soul.

I just can't contain myself, this is gonna be good!

Questions:

1. I'm not sure a fee structure so how much do you think I should charge? (Hint: if I were you, I'd put your order in early before my prices go up.)

2. If you could make a lamp out of any animal in the world, what would it be?

3. How much would you pay for a squirrel lamp?

But wait, what is this??? Have I been punked?
NOOOOOO!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Sound of Music

I have gotten used to the additional laundry and grocery expenses which result when my oldest OS is home from West Point. We will enjoy his company for three weeks and then he'll be back to join the Long Gray Line.

In addition to Nate being home, my 89 year old grandma came for a visit. She wanted to see our family and my sister is going to have her third child (a long awaited GIRL!) in September. Grandma is a real kick in the pants and doesn't let much get in her way. Not a bum knee, breast cancer, the loss of a child (my dad) or two husbands, she's truly one of my besties. Naturally, I wanted to do something special with her but couldn't figure out what would be fun and budget conscious. A tricky combination.

I pondered the possibilities and had an idea. It started when about a year and a half ago, my DH spent $250 on a Christmas gift for me. He was taking me to the theatre to see a play, The Spelling Bee. I
had been looking forward to this event as I am a word aficionado.

Only there was a big problem. The Spelling Bee was HORRIBLE! It was offensive, vulgar and shocking, an indulgent production completely wrong for family enjoyment. We were so appalled by the production, we left before intermission and raised Caine about it so much so that we were promised free tickets to a future show.

It's hard to find a theatre production that is appropriate for a discerning family. I have perused the upcoming shows and not been impressed. We have outgrown Thomas the Tank Engine or the Sesame Street/Diego stuff and procrastinated about when we were going to redeem these tickets. I was determined to not waste $250. Every time I thought about The Spelling Bee, I became angry.

With our window of time dwindling, I contacted the Box Office and was offered tickets to The Sound of Music. We got the tickets and I wondered how in the world I was ever going to get my three OS, especially my Soldier/West Point cadet to actually want to see this production.

This is when God did something. First my husband accidentally booked my grandma to leave a day early. I was so disappointed because it meant that Grandma wouldn't be able to go to the show and I had promised her. It was something she was really looking forward to but we couldn't afford to change her plane ticket. POO!

Mark called the Box Office, told them they had an opportunity to save a marriage and to our delight, they agreed to allow us to trade the Sunday tickets for the Saturday night show instead. My sweetie dashed to pick up the tickets and y'all, they didn't give him five tickets to the show...they gave him SIX! Mark was prepared to pay for the sixth ticket but they gave it to him FREE! Oh happy day!

We went out for dinner on Saturday night and arrived at the theatre. Grandma beamed as a passerby offered to take a family picture and when we entered the building, we discovered that our seats were perfect. Not on the front row where our necks would have been straining or too far for my VERY hearing impaired grandma to hear. We couldn't have picked better seats if we had done it ourselves.

I can't say Nathan loved the performance, nor can I say Isaac was enthralled but Aaron, our OS who's been involved in drama for years now, appreciated the talent he observed on stage. It was really a wonderful show! For me, the highlight was hearing my grandma softly singing "Edelweiss" beside me. I had to hold back the tears. When will I ever get another chance for a moment like that? The Lord blessed me!

Who would have thought something so nasty could turn into something so lovely? The time we wasted at the first performance on a Sunday was more than compensated for on a treasured Saturday night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good things come in small packages

This was a new one for me. I opened the mailbox and found a small package inside. Upon inspecting the label, I recognized my oldest OS's handwriting. "Why how nice of Nate to send us a little package. What a thoughtful guy! Awww." He hadn't mentioned anything to me about this during our many telephone conversations so it was a special treat.

Then I read the back of the package and learned that my OS graciously sent us...(insert dramatic music)

Applesauce

And not just any applesauce, dear friends. CARBOHYDRATE ENHANCED APPLE SAUCE

And who's the fine maker of CARBOHYDRATE ENHANCED APPLESAUCE??? It is compliments of the United States Army, thank you very much.

Nate sent his beloved family Army-issue MRE (meals ready to eat) applesauce - just rip open the pouch and squirt contents in your mouth. Slap yo mama good! NOT! Per my Soldier, it's utterly horrible.

No one knows why some of the MREs have postage. He thought sending us applesauce would be awkward. I concur. But thank you Jesus he didn't send us the "veggie omelet!" According to Nate, "It's the nastiest thing ever. I don't even think it's real. It's just a nasty, egg-white thing that you could literally slurp out of a straw." Ew! I hate gelatinous things even more after hearing that!

Sometimes while out on the field, squad leaders randomly hand out the MREs. You can get something good or something "inhuman." Occasionally, Nate has heard some of the guys yell, "Oh #%@$!" That means they got the dreaded omelet.

Back to the CARBOHYDRATE ENHANCED APPLESAUCE...why I can just see your mouths drooling with slobber. I know you're jealous. How many moms get their sons to send them anything, let alone applesauce? Such is the life of a mama of three sons - one of whom will be a Cadet Corporal in just a few days!

Loving it!

We did it! Thanks Pistol Pete!

I've never been a big fan of 11 year old kids reading the f-bomb. I don't know, I guess I'm weird like that.

And so you can only imagine my horror 18 months ago when my orange-haired, freckle faced, youngest OS announces one day that the book his daddy got him had that lovely word printed ON THE VERY FIRST PAGE! I nearly fell out of my chair.

It was a basketball book entitled Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich and the reason the hubs bought it for our OS is because Isaac loves basketball. Our OS needed to work on his reading and boy, was I glad our OS said something about the curse word! Faced with a dilemma, do I throw the book in the trash or take it back to Borders, I took immediate action. I chose to do neither but I did do something with that book I never expected.

I read it out loud to my son. The G-rated, completely edited and censored version, of course.

And guess what?

I loved every minute of it. We finished the book on Friday. 323 pages, 18 months, we did it!

If you know me at all, you know I am not a sports person. Much to my OS's chagrin, I still can't remember the positions they play in their respective sports. It drives them nuts! And for the last year and a half, Ike and I have been reading a book about the great basketball legend, Pete Maravich.

When we finished I seriously wanted to cry. It was an accomplishment and a blessing. We didn't merely read the book; we took it deeper. We talked extensively about the book. Pistol Pete Maravich was a complex man with a difficult life. He had many excesses and demons, he had a complicated childhood ~ there were many dimensions to this man. This book touched both of our hearts.

And we did even more than that. We did A LOT of vocabulary. Always by our side was the trusty Webster's. At times, my OS loathed that dictionary with a passion but together we learned words such as:
mollify, triumvirate, augur, majordomo, chaw, vestigial, bonanza, vituperative, excoriate, progency, ignominy, assiduous, junto, bifurcated ~ nearly 200 words my OS searched. It turns out I don't think Ike could have read this book without me. It was an advanced read for both of us but so worth it.

We learned so much ~ about Pete Maravich (he came to know Jesus and died of a heart condition while playing basketball with Dr. James Dobson) and we learned things about each other too. Sometimes, while I read to Ike, he would draw and despite countless emotional outbursts "I hate this stupid book!" "I don't want to read!" (read this in your loudest, most emotional 12 year old boy voice!), we didn't give up. The time we had with each other makes me feel that this "fait accompli" has blessed us with an "inexorable" experience which has left me feeling "ebullient" inside. How's that for using my new words?

I must share with you another book we read together which was delightful which was very different than Pistol. I'll do that soon, it's just the best.

Any ideas as to what to read next are welcome. I'm really proud of us. Don't let anyone tell you you can't read to older kids. You're missing out on a treat, seize those special moments.


Thanks to a curiously placed cuss word, I got treasured time with my OS which beats sitting in front of the stupid box (TV) any day.

PS. Don't tell Ike that I'm working on a comprehension test next. ;) Spelling and grammar will count!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Isaac's sweet potato times

When your big brother attends West Point and is at Fort Knox shooting a 68 ton Abrams tank and your middle brother is in Guatemala witnessing miracles and doing evangelical street dramas, a freckle-faced, orange haired, 12 year old kid has some major pressure on him. What can he do to make his summer fun-filled and exciting? Who can help him create memories to last a lifetime?

Answer: All you need are some giant sweet potatoes and a very silly mama

Thankfully Ike had both of these things readily available on a recent July afternoon. With my trusty digital camera on hand, Ike and I transformed an otherwise ho-hum July afternoon into a fairly weird occasion. We took some ordinary, ok, not so ordinary sweet potatoes and decided to make our own summer memories. Here are the results

video

So check your pantry, people and see what treasures await your family! Or go to your local farmer's market and find the funkiest fruit or grotesquely shaped veggie out there. Buy it before some other mother snatches it out of your hands and then start taking pictures and let your creativity loose.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On the mission field, part two ~ new creation

It occurred to me that this young mother didn't want just anyone to cut her two year old's hair...she wanted ME! WHAT??? Didn't she know that I had never cut anyone's hair, including my own three OS? Didn't she know I farmed out that service to qualified hands? Where's a Sports Clips or a Great Clips when you need one?

The mom returned, scissors in hand and I ridiculously asked her what kind of haircut she wanted her daughter to have. This is funny because it wasn't like I had a variety of coifs from which to choose. That's when she blew my mind and informed me that the child in front of me with a long, thick ponytail wasn't a girl ~ this little person was a boy! Huh? And his name was Richard, not Ricardo. Dumbfounded I stood by a dusty boulder in this forsaken village. The pressure was on. My heart pounded faster.

I prayed to Jesus and put the scissors in my hand and began the job. Richard was the best client a stylist as new and inexperienced as I could ever want. So still, so patient, if he only knew who was about to give him his first haircut! At first I just simply cut the long ponytail but as I looked at the precious face before me, something came over me. I felt empowered to do more. The scissors began trimming around Richard's ears, giving him bangs, the whole works. There was some styling going on! Richard's mom gathered some of his locks into a plastic bag I as many American moms have done in the past. I don't believe I cut Richard's hair. I believe God did.

Then she asked me my name and told me that the first person who cuts a baby's hair became that child's godmother. Oh my goodness.

I stood there, astonished and handed the young mama the bottle of shampoo. At long last, the Bumble and Bumble had found its rightful owner. She gave a heartfelt thank you and scooped up Richard. Just before it was time to board the bus and say farewell, this Peruvian mama returned and paraded Richard in front of me. She must have taken him into her simple abode and used the shampoo immediately. There in front of me stood Richard, his hair was freshly washed, wearing a collared shirt looking cute as can be. This child looked like a little boy!

I wonder what my OS is learning and where he is in Guatemala. What are his stories? I can't wait to know! I've learned this and I'm sure he is as well. The Lord can use our simple gifts, our imperfect efforts (which I have in abundance.) This is the power of transformation.

I have another story about shampoo, this time in El Salvador. Do you want to hear it? Tell me your story about transformation, I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Being on the mission field, part one


Prior to going to Guatemala, I gave my middle OS a project. A crafting project. Most 14 year old boys don't really like doing crafts. My 14 year old boy is no exception but with constant prodding on behalf of his mom, my son made these...

Aren't they pretty? So simple and cheap but I just know that God is going to use that boy and these necklaces in a powerful way. How do I know? Because two years ago I had a similar experience. Not with a craft item but with a simple bottle of shampoo.

In July 2007, I went to Lima, Peru on a mission trip. Prior to leaving my hairstylist, (the one who puts pink highlights in my hair), gave me a big bottle of Bumble and Bumble shampoo to use there. Not for my head, there would be no vanity on this trip, but because we were going to be washing children's hair. In certain areas of Peru, people can't even afford shampoo, it is a luxury they often do without. I packed it eagerly curious as to what the Lord had in store.

Weeks later, to my astonishment, I found myself washing children's hair on a filthy, dirt-covered street. The kids would just line up and with nary a peep, we would pour cold water from a hose on their head. With plastic gloves, I would squirt a dollop of shampoo on their little charcoal black heads and proceed to wash their thick Peruvian hair. We used buckets to rinse the water and their attentive mothers would just look on and act so grateful. It was rather amusing because there were even adult men lining up for our hair washing services but we had to decline and concentrate just on the kids.

It was our last day on the mission field. The big bottle of shampoo I was given had been too cumbersome to lug around for our hair washing projects so I still had it in my possession. I certainly wasn't going to be taking it back home with me. I trusted it was meant for someone else so I placed big bottle in my backpack determined to give it to someone deserving.

We arrived at an impoverished village. The ramshackle homes spoke of a hard life bereft of most creature comforts. I helped prepare chicken foot (yes, chicken FOOT) soup and served hot chocolate to the scads of children milling about.
Another group washed hair and when we were nearly all done, a mother approached me. Through the help of a translator, she asked me if we cut hair. I knew I didn't cut hair so I went the easy route and said we didn't have any scissors. Then she told me, not to worry, she had scissors.

Because I'm so quick on my feet (HA!), I presumed someone could do it and I told this mama we could probably do that. I went inside the bus and asked if anyone cut hair. No one listened to me and then it occurred to me that she wanted ME to cut her child's hair...something I have never done before, not in my own country and certainly not in South America...

I'll write another post and tell you what happened next...