The sun came out today for the first time in who knows when and someone opened the blinds. With light flooding the house so many unseen things came into focus. Seriously, how did the Cocoa Puff find it’s way to the food free zoned living room and plant itself on the wall above the fish tank? When my kids were small and mushy in the brain it was a little easier to understand, but they are far too big now to be living like monkeys! Just yesterday my husband had to unclog their bathroom sink that was filled with toilet paper. I don’t even want to know why the sink was full of toilet paper. Looking up from cooking today I noticed bluish splatter all over the ceiling coming down the wall in trail form leading to the blender.
With the light of spring flooding into homes after a long dark winter, it is no wonder that the tradition of spring cleaning sprung up. I think of spring as God’s way of tidying the earth. He refreshes the air with blooming flowers, and gently cleanses with spring rain. He renews the earth with sprouts and new life. As spring prompts me into action to clean up after a long winter shut in with the resident monkeys, I’m going to take some time to allow God to refresh my life. Just as easy as it is for the monkey to stick a half eaten sandwich in the coffee table drawer for storage, it is easy for sin to be given an unrightfull place the heart. It’s time for God’s cleansing and refreshing rain to wash over our hearts to sprout new life in us. I’m on the verge of spring cleaning and this is my prayer.
Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT)
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you
My husband does everything with a certain level of enthusiasm and passion. It’s grand in the scheme of things as he gets a lot done and he enjoys every moment of the process. I on the other hand, was not cut from the same cloth. Recently In viewing my 2nd grade report card I found this description of me written by Mrs. Beland, “Jenni never gets too excited about anything. She seems to lack energy and enthusiasm that are commonly found in children her age.”
And then comes the pressure washer. If you know anything about the northwest you’ll understand the importance of a pressure washer. With the very wet climate, our driveways, fences, roof tops, porches and just about anything outside grows green with moss. The moss has been happily creeping into every nook and cranny surrounding our abode and my hubby could stand it no more. With all the passion and gusto he could muster he found himself prowling the local stores on a pressure washer hunt. His hunt was perfection finding just what he needed for half the price at Camping World. Every pressure washer hunt should end up at Camping World, right?
Then there’s today, it’s Friday! My day off from work, the day I get to sleep in and slump around the house like a sloth. I’m enjoying my slow pace, laid back in my comfy chair only to have my peaceful serenity interupted by enthusiasm. My husband who had been washing the driveway burst in the door yelling, “this thing is so much fun you have to try it! Get your shoes on you’re going to love it!’ Who invited this pep party to my lazy day!! And how dare they suggest i change my pace. Was I to trade my leisurely loitering for vigorous work? Did someone just suggest that I should bounce out to the driveway and not only enjoy cleaning it, but feel exhilarated when I’m done?
So many things ran through my mind at that moment, but one thing was for sure, I WAS NOT going to love going outside to clean the driveway. I know ladies, some of you enjoy cleaning, but for me it is my lot in life that I loathe and the thought of keeping the house clean is overwhelming enough, but now do we have to add the driveway to the list!!! And why does the outside cleaning equipment get to be so much fun! I mean humans have been washing floors for centuries longer than they’ve been washing driveways! How is that we’ve invented pressure washers for outdoors, but the best thing we can come up with for indoors is a wimpy Shark Vac or a puney Swiffer Sweeper? Self-cleaning floors… is that too much to ask? We’ve made it to the moon people. Can we not invent Laundry that puts itself away.
I’m still sitting in my chair like a sloth in the sun and my husband is waiting with baited breath for me to come and see how fun cleaning the driveway can be. Which leads me on the verge of the pressure washer setting off a pressure cooker in my mind. Could it be energy and enthusiasm are bubbling up inside of me? Could it be that I’m compelled to play along with exuberance? Am I about to exchange my inactive lagging for busy work? Nah, more than likely it’s just the Costco dog I ate for dinner last night causing some pressure of it’s own.
I must admit that I love snuggling by the fire with a warm blanket and hot chocolate on a cold winter night. I have a robust appreciation for the Holiday season and the long winter months.
Some things about winter though, can be down right ugly: naked trees, dirty driven on snow, or the never-ending rain in the Northwest. The chilly gray of winter can sometimes feel relentless and defeating. As I sit here snug in my blanket with hot chocolate in hand I am ever so aware of how the heart can be chilled with something like the winter uglies. Which interestingly enough can happen in our hearts at anytime of the year. Harsh conditions in our lives can leave us feeling defenseless, broken and cold.
If the winter uglies are setting in I suggest a good run! I don’t mean a healthy sprint outside, though some of you runners would suggest it will help. I’m also not suggesting you cut your losses and get out-of-town. I’m imploring you to run with all your might to God.
Proverbs 18:10 proclaims that: “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” Put down your hot chocolate if you feel so inclined and enjoy being on the verge of a good winter run minus the running part. Run to Jesus. He is your hope, your defense, your safe place and He will see you through.
Working and living in the Chicago suburbs, we found ourselves in need of affordable housing. A very small mobile home became available to rent in a trailer park. There was not room for a kitchen table so we ate from the couch. Add a high chair, playpen, diaper bag, and baby toys to the single wide 4 room trailer and you can imagine the cramped space, and how quickly things could pile up.
One particular day when I was exhausted and overwhelmed with laundry Hannah decided to play with the phone. I was scaling Mt. Laundry in the front room when I noticed her activity. I grabbed the phone, hung it up and gave her a fine scolding. As the kids got unbelievably silent I looked up to see what new naughtiness they had engaged in. Josiah who was two and Hannah three were standing there completely naked. They had stripped off all their clothes including their diapers. I had two naked giggling kids standing in pile of laundry and then at that very precise moment came a knock on the door.
As I peeked out the window I noticed a police officer on my porch. Scared to death that he would see my messy home and unclothed children in the dead of an Illinois winter and haul my kids to foster care, I opened the door just a crack to speak to him. All along I was hoping he would only see a small portion of my messy home, not knowing that while my daughter was playing with the phone she had called 911. With a 911 call and women answering the door just a crack what else was the police officer to believe, but that there was an intruder in my home holding me hostage and hiding behind the door. If only I knew 5 minutes earlier my naughty toddler was on the verge of naked 911 call!
I must start with a disclaimer that there is a word in this blog that is demeaning and derogatory, but it is a part of my history so I felt the need to include it. My hometown Pekin, IL was named by Mrs. Ann Eliza Cromwell in 1829 naming it after Beijing China then spelled “Peking” or “Pekin”. In the 1840’s Pekin became the site where Lincoln and other ambitious politicians struck a deal called the Pekin Agreement which helped Lincoln win the election to congress in 1846. The first council of the Union League of America, to promote patriotism and loyalty to the Union in the Civil War was established in Pekin June of 1862. The Union league helped the war effort by training nurses, and providing medical supplies. They also advocated equality for slaves. What a great heritage of acceptance, honoring other nations by name and even advocating equal rights for slaves!
Then came the KKK in the 1920’s. They assumed owner ship of the city’s newspaper the Pekin Daily Times, and Pekin became included in the list of historic sundown towns. Despite the efforts of the Pekin church pastors who participated in the civil rights marches of the 1960s and the role of Pekin’s U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the town received a reputation as a prejudiced town due to the KKK’s efforts.
Fast forward to 1974 – 75 school year where a group of chinese americans tried to get Pekin High School to rethink their school mascot. The Pekin school mascots, a girl and boy student dressed in traditional Chinese attire were called “The Pekin Chinks.” The decision was put to the student body who voted down the change and made national news. In 1981 the school administration changed the nickname to the dragons. I remember the student body protesting chanting Pekin chinks, dragons stink.
Which leads to me spending my jr. high years skating at the Chink Rink the local skating rink. Truthfully, I had no idea that “chink” was derogatory or offensive. Knowing what I know now I am happy they changed the mascot! One day in late 1980 something my school bus pulled up in front of the East Campus of Pekin High school. As we drove up we noticed that the outer walls of the school entrance had been tagged with spray paint. The taggers meant to write prejudiced but instead they made a tactical error and sprayed prejuiced on the wall. This is when Pekin’s reputation was first brought to my attention. Then I learned all the negative things about my town’s history.
It wasn’t until the age of 40 I discovered so much of the possitive early history of my hometown. I’m happy I discovered it because I can be proud of that early record. I haven’t lived in my hometown for several years, but I hope today they are verging on being more prejuiced than prejudiced.
It’s that time people. I’ve sat down with the menu and have committed to paper what the family will be eating for the coming week. You say big deal, but buck-o I may need to employ a rocket scientist to feed this family of six! They’re lined up in the kitchen and we’re about to have the Chinese chili fight of the century.
Yes I said it, a Chinese chili fight! This war of the worlds began with my husband’s no beans rule, and my unwillingness to ingest Chinese cuisine , better yet…ANYTHING ASIAN. Ranch dressing is also on my list of WNE’s, but just about everything else is fair game unless it was hit by a car. My husband adds meatloaf, casseroles, quiche, sloppy jose, pasta salads, and goulash to his list, Which brings us back to the war in the kitchen.
With all wars come casualties and in this war they are in the shape of four children whom all adore both chili and chinese food. With tearful eyes and tingling pallets as I make out my shopping list they are occupying my kitchen looking all puny and deprived. Why must chinese food and chili be banned from their home? What brutal dictator would do such a thing? Which leads me to this question, what on earth are we eating for dinner this week? The kids are on the verge of a chinese chili fight!
My 14-year-old son has a group of friends that have been hanging out since the 4th grade. They are all good boys from good families, but the recent onslaught of puberty has greatly changed the dynamics of the group. Ah, jr. high…a place devoid of childhood niceties, where hormones rage, put downs fly, Limbs flail about awkwardly, sores ooze on faces, and it all leaves me wondering if there is anything good that comes from a jr. high school?
In true 8th grade boy form, my son’s group began picking on one of its most valued members in the way of confiscating his dessert items everyday at lunch. Jokingly eating them in front of the poor boy, because well, they find that sort of thing funny. Of course after weeks of loosing his dessert the said boy was a little perturb with his “friends!”
My son, who did not partake in the dessert heists, tried to get the perpetrators to stop. A few days later, the dessert item was stolen yet again, but this time it was gifted to my son, who had no clue that the giver had no rights to the item. The boy with rights to the item had enough. Reaching his limit watching my son eat what belonged to him. He punched my son in the face three times in a row.
My son however did not retaliate he simply asked why? Soon the whole story was brought to light which led my son to a decision point. In two days the 7th grade was going on an incentive field trip and this incident would keep the puncher and possibly my son from going on the trip. He also thought about the fact that the puncher was having a hard time at home. As the boy apologized my son made a decision to forgive. He implored the lunch staff not to turn the incident into the office. They agreed.
Since this altercation never made it to the office, I heard about from another mother whose son talked about it when he got home from school. I must admit my first reaction wasn’t pride for my sons act of forgiveness. I really grappled with making my son turn this kid in. I did not want him to become easy prey for bullies. I wanted him to stand up for himself.
Fast forward several months and a few more incidences that required more forgiveness, and you can imagine that my patience grew thin, and that I started to demand action against this boy only to learn the rest of the story. I guess It was time for this mama bear to be schooled in forgiveness. The punching boy has far bigger issues than stolen lunch items. He is dealing with a father suffering from MS. Each day dad is getting weaker and weaker. This week they had to call in hospice care. My son, recognized how difficult this must be. He could understand where the anger was coming from. He decided his friend just needed a little support and forgiveness. My son chose to put into action Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as you love yourself and to forgive.
I know that hard times are no excuse for physical violence. It occurs to me though, that this boy is getting exactly what he needs right now. He has the support of friendship, and was bestowed grace even in the unlikely unforgiving land of Jr. high. I guess some good things can come from a jr. high school, like friends who are 14 verging on hero.
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Some years ago after picking up dinner at a drive through my 5-year-old son got a big surprise after opening his hamburger wrapper. There was just a naked bun. No meat for the poor boy. I remember him putting his head in his little hands and tearfully saying “where’s the meat.” “How could they do this to me?” It was sad yet a proud moment for his carnivorous dad with the realization of just how much love his son had developed for beef. This event and many others has led to the frantic checking of the bags every time we find ourselves at the drive through window making sure we have received the correct order. Which leads us to lunch yesterday and me forgetting the awesome charge of checking the bag. As I unpacked the bag with two burgers one for my hubby and me, I was caught off guard with a round green special sticker on the wrappers. I didn’t pay much attention until I unwrapped my burger to see a curious green thick sauce overrunning the bun edges. I immediately rechecked the sticker which read “guac.” I know that guacamole has many fans, but none of them happen to live in my home. As my husband and I frantically tried to scrape off all traces of the green slime I heard a cry reminiscent of my son years before, “Who would assault a burger in such a way!” I don’t want any hate mail guac fans, but I must say the maker of that sandwich deserved to be charged with assault and battery with intention to ruin the blessed beef! Seriously, I was on the verge of accidentally ingesting guacamole due to drive through incompetence!
One of my favorite Bible stories takes place at the beach (John 21). Soon after Jesus died and was resurrected, the disciples returned to their old trade of fishing. Jesus chose a unique way to get the disciples attention while they were out in the boat. He set up shop on the beach, stoked the fire, and barbecued some fish. The disciples, like any self-respecting men would, followed their noses, rowed a shore in route to some freshly cooked meat. It was during that BBQ that Jesus gave the famous “feed my sheep” talk to Peter. He was letting the disciples know that it was not time for fishing. It was time for feeding sheep. A new season of life began that day for those men as they dropped their fishing nets leaving behind their old way of life. It was then that they picked up the good news and began their new life of teaching and preaching. Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and he could have met with the disciples in a much more spectacular way. He could have gone Ochocinco on the boys and made a stadium worthy entrance, but he chose a small BBQ on the beach. A gathering around the fire at the beach certainly can open minds and encourage hearts. So as we sign off for summer make sure to get in one more BBQ, but leave room at the table for Jesus. He may have a new life changing journey for you.
Why is there constant interruption while I’m trying to use the bathroom? Is the sound of my exhausted body dropping on the bowl a sonar signal for children, salesmen, and the neighborhood watch lady? JW’s with their watchtower, how did they know I forgot to bring in some reading materials? Does the Dr.’s Office always have to return my calls just as I sit down on the pot? First of all, how is it that my children who have not said boo to me all day have a plethora of questions as soon as I close the bathroom door? Secondly, when they knock why is it that they ask, may I come in? I’m thinking seriously, you know what’s going on in here, do you really want to come in? Maybe I should start charging admission since your coming to the show. Honestly, I’m in and out in 5 minutes. Is the world going to come to an end if your questions aren’t answered in the next 5 minutes? Can a mother not use the restroom in peace? I’m on the verge of a bladder infection due to constant interruption!