Why Must I Drop My Leaves?

As the leaves fall in layers outside my window, crunch beneath my shoes and swirl behind the cars, it reminds me summer is over and winter is coming. This little season we call fall prepares the way for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It ushers in chilly mornings, darker evenings and pumpkin spice smells in the kitchen.

I’ve often said that if I was a deciduous tree in fall, I would be the one to look around and say, “You know what, I’ve decided I’m keeping my leaves this year! I mean these are my favorite set! What’s the point of dropping my leaves now just to get them back again in a few months? Winter isn’t too bad here, can’t I just keep them?!”

What’s going to happen to me?

I’m probably going to freeze to death because if trees don’t drop their leaves in fall, they’ll die in winter from lack of food. Winter is not the time for nourishing extra things like leaves.

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“I’m Just Listening For My Name”

In an old Cosby TV show, Clair Huxtable is sporadically speaking Spanish to a colleague, while Cliff Huxtable stands off to the side, staring at them, because he doesn’t understand what’s being said. The two banter back and forth while Cliff’s face contorts into half a dozen classic Bill Cosby expressions. When the Spanish speaking pair looks back at Cliff he responds, “I’m just listening for my name!” That’s the one thing he understands and can respond to in a paragraph of fast flying foreign words.

This past month has been like a blur of fast flying foreign words. It’s been a series of packing and unpacking suitcases, preparing and speaking sessions, and eating lunch when I can. Between a Kenyan ladies conference, a Hutto Bible ladies retreat and my cousin’s wedding, I have spoken in a microphone more in the pat 45 days than in my entire life!

So many times after we return from Kenya, my heart is on fire with passionate future dreams. I usually hit the ground running in a flurry of activity, praying for clarity and trying to attain to the vision, before I wear a hole in the carpet.

Except all that changed about two years ago when God told us to “go home” from Kenya. We weren’t sure if we’d ever go back – not because anything bad happened but because it felt like the same cherubim and flaming sword God placed to guard the Garden of Eden from being re-entered was also guarding us against returning west.

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Why Can’t I?

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew…

My eyes are bigger than my stomach…

Basically, sometimes I think I can do things, I can’t.

Like in my head I think I can do a round-off back handspring in my front yard. I’ve watched my daughter do it countless times. It looks easy!

But have you tried a cartwheel lately?

Something happened around 27 years of age that biochemically defies turning upside down without torrential side effects.

I remember one time, I was really excited about something and I did a frontwards flip onto my bed like a little kid. Afterwards I just laid there, flat on my back, watching the room pass by in front of me.

But I have these moments in life too…not over cartwheels and front flips anymore for I respect those boundaries… where I think I can do things I can’t.

Now, it’s over schedules and activities I think I can jam into my week and stay sane. Problem is they have the same result as the front flip on my bed – leave me dazed and confused as to what just happened!

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Failure is NOT an Option. Or Is It?

Adam broke the silence of our family dinner with a bang, “So what is something you failed at today? And what did you learn from it?”

Gulp. And gulp again to swallow my food.

I studied his eyes to see if he was serious. He was.

Silence hung in the air as the four of us contemplated his words, not really appreciating having to think about the areas in which we failed today.

In our Facebook, perfectionist, everyone gets a trophy culture, we generally frown on sharing our failures because it is neither a trophy or worthy of shares. We feel ashamed when we fail, which evokes in us the need to cover the evidence, not display it.

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Made Just For…What?

For weeks my daughter has been on the hunt to find a costume that represents Queen Isabella from Castile for our Classical Conversations end-of-the-year party. Back in the 1400s, Queen Isabella signed off on Christopher Columbus’s quest to find the New World.

After searching unsuccessfully online for cheap costumes we decided to try Goodwill. Walking up and down the isles, Mackenzie sized up each dress, long skirt and hideous shirt, looking for something we could pass off for fifteenth century royalty. Finally she made her decision. With a couple of scarves to add some color and drape over her shoulders, and some stick on fingernails that were four for a dollar, the outfit was set.

When the cashier rang up our treasures she noticed the seams on the inside of the dress and said, “Hmmm, this dress looks like it was made just for someone.” She looked further and found a tag nestled inside with a name inscribed with black sharpie on it. Kim Peterson, UT Austin.

I smiled at purchasing something homemade, for I can appreciate all the work involved. I said to the cashier, “I bet the owner would be proud to know her custom made dress is now in the hands of a young lady dressing up as Queen Isabella.”

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The Power of “Come”

A few weekends ago my oldest son wanted to sleep outside. And when my oldest son wants to do something, he lets me know of his plans every chance he can. We could be talking about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and Caleb would insert a plug for his case to sleep outside.

Maybe it’s partly my fault. Being the mama that I am, I don’t tell him yes to everything, for if I did, we’d be fur trading in Alaska and eating bear soup for dinner. I make him work for his yeses. He must convince me as to why he needs to sleep outside in such a way that I understand his cause and want to say yes to him with joy.

So I had put him off for days but by Saturday night I had no more reasons to say no. He had convinced me and with a smile I said Yes.

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Because He Loves Me

“Oh Momma….come heerree,” my little man called from the back door in his sing-song voice. “I’ve got something to show yoouu.”

Sometimes these requests cause me to hold my breath, afraid there will be a finger dangling from its base or some disaster to clean up. But something in his voice this time sounded promising. So I stopped whatever I was doing and followed him to the back porch. You can imagine my surprise when I saw this:

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A freshly blown off porch (blower provided by Daddy with a rent fee of $2), wiped down picnic table with a beautiful camellia blossom planted in a vase. All just for me! Just because he loves me!

I engulfed my little boy in my arms and said thank you with all the reciprocal love I could find. Then I sat down across from him on the bench seat and discussed the finer things in life according to a seven year old while soaking in the serene scene he created for us.

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When God Asks for Everything

Well it’s time for me to eat some humble pie here on this website. So much has transpired in my mind since the last time I posted here. Let me catch you up a bit…

During the Christmas break and after Papa passed, I struggled again with this calling of homeschooling. I’ll save you the long boring details. Let’s just say that in the end the Lord showed me that this calling to homeschool is like a marriage. Sometimes we’re on the same page and sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we get along and sometimes we fight. But He’s called me to be committed to this relationship no matter what.

With that said, when I try to squirm out of this calling and imagine how wonderful it would be to NOT homeschool, I’m being unfaithful to this marriage. It’s like flirting with another man. GULP! That truth really broke me. God’s word is so sharp and so personal that it hurts when He convicts you.

It reminds me of my sweet, bouncy daughter. Her favorite thing right now is to kick her own butt with her heels as she walks. So literally, every other step she’s alternating her heels into her backside. I can handle the commotion for awhile, but by evening time when we’re in the kitchen together and she’s bouncing around I have to say, “Darling, STOP! Please just keep your feet on the ground!”

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Good Morning!

This morning my sleepy 13 year old stumbled into my room. Since he was the first one up, he nestled quietly into the coveted spot right beside me on the bed. With his head against a pillow propped up on my leg we discussed quite deeply the thoughts of a young hunter/trapper boy. Most of the language I didn’t understand but I tracked along as well as I could with my barely awake brain.

He talked about guns and what the calibers meant, how many bullets go in each barrel and so forth. And I just listened. We talked battle scars and injuries and how it would be good for his future wife to have some nursing background.

I marveled at how easily we embraced and how fluidly the conversation ebbed along. I wasn’t distracted by my phone pinging the day’s notifications and I wasn’t in the middle of teaching my other two math or English. It was just me and him enjoying some sweet conversation.

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My Grief Observed (Part Two)

Sunday was a hard day for me. I don’t know what goes on subconsciously, but even simple tasks like going to the grocery store and putting lotion on your hands can evoke such emotions that lead to tears.

On Sunday I did my grocery shopping for the week like I usually do. And what did I see there? Lays potato chips, bottles of peanuts, rotisserie chicken, cranberry limeade juice – all things Papa stored in his kitchen, some for him and some for my kids. A lump began to form in my throat as I pulled into the checkout line. So many times I stood in this line, checking out these items for him.

After I got home from the grocery store, Adam and I snuggled down to watch a movie. But before we hit play Adam grabbed some lotion to put on his hands. He took his wedding ring off so the lotion wouldn’t glob up inside it, and when he did, my mind instantly went to Papa.

When mom and I sat at his bedside the day before he died, she slipped his ring off his finger and as she did a pang hit my gut. That ring never came off. It couldn’t. It had a worn a permanent divot underneath his knuckle and couldn’t escape. That moment was when I knew it was for real. He was leaving me soon. Going somewhere I couldn’t go…just yet.

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