Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Face Of a Papa

I rented Fiddler On The Roof from our local library this week. We watched the first half last night and I was absolutely delighted! There is so much material here to discuss with my family. What were the girls' dreams for their lives? What were their realities? How did the parents get along? What were you feeling as we watched them give the Sabbath blessing to their children? What positive values do you see? Negative? How did each of the young couples interact? How does all of this line up with what you are learning about growing up?

My son, R, "accused" me of having a thing for the Jews, based upon my love for movies about their lives. I do. I love their sense of self-deprecating humor, their out in the openness about so many practical and sometimes petty things, their quaint time-honored sayings and habits, their fear of God's holy wrath, their trust in Him through thick and thin, their honest conversations - at least this is how it all strikes me in the movies. Such transparency.

Most of all, I love the fact that you can see the child in them regardless of the years they wear.

Teyve's song, If I Were A Rich Man, and the cart he then must pull afterwards reminded me so much of my own dear husband. Such uninhibited abandoned confession in prayer... and the look on his face imagining all the time he could spend learning more about the scriptures... I can't wait to watch the second half. (However, I'm afraid the lyrics and melodies of the songs are stuck in my head for the next month! Anyone else like that?)

The word of the LORD came to me: "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
" 'I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the desert,
through a land not sown.

Israel was holy to the LORD,
the firstfruits of his harvest...

Jeremiah 2:1-3

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monkey Magnet

If you have kids, or are somebody's kid, you know what it's like to see yourself in someone else, or the reflections family cast upon eachother. My son Q's mix of emotionalism and logic is a carbon copy of his Papa. Within the first day of receiving my daughter, A, I saw both the artistic and the bold side in her that echoed the child Me. R's march to his own drumbeat is unique to himself, yet we constantly see the all-so-familiar patterns of his brothers in him. L marveled us with her unintended reproduction of D back when he was a little firecracker, even down to facial expressions of open delight that seemed cast from her brother's countenance.
And there are times when I just have to turn to my husband after one of our children behaves in a way that mystifies him, and say, "I'm sorry." My genes, my influence.... rising up beyond my power or control, I see a visage of myself in them - usually maddening or perplexing my patient Love.  
And with such sweet knowing of one another, sharing shades of one another's ways, comes the unique opportunity to play as only family can. With my boys, this sometimes shows up in needling me up to the line from time to time. You know that line that says, "This far and no farther - beyond this place there be Dragons - or at least a Mama you don't want to mess with." Q goes more for shock effect, laughing at my no-nonsense responses as I push back (usually without any real cleverness); D likes to "noodge" me with exasperating phrases like 'hip-hop' and 'whatever'; Ro's ventures show up more in daring antics that border on the foolhardy - like matches getting too close. My suspicion is that underneath it all, they are grateful there is a line for their hippie mother turned sold-out follower of The Way.

This little "pretty" is also for D.
His search for a balance between boundaries and freedom sounds an answering quest within my own soul. The magnet is a wry, wacky poke at the struggle.  Remember that into each day He brings us something to smile at.  It could be something goofy like this, or a sunset, or the thoughtfulness of others, or the opportunity to do good.  The Word is a gift that never perishes or fades:

*Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Christ is the answer and the power, D, always.....

*James 1:2-6

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anticuchos de Corazon


What do you do with beef heart? Google and improvise, my dear, google and improvise....
Pickled heart did not really appeal to me - although I probably would like it just fine, it appeared to take too much time. Boiling also did not exactly tickle my fancy. However, I was willing to bet that something south of the border would be a winner around our table. Anticuchos appear to be a popular dish in both Nicaragua and Peru (perhaps elsewhere as well,) and I was willing to wager that my little Colombianitas and Mexicanos would find it muy delicioso tambien.

I can't wait to make it again! Lucky for us, I have one more packet of free-range beefheart waiting in the freezer.

Anticuchos de Corazon de Ruiz-Esparza Familia

1 beef heart cleaned of membranes and cut in 1/2" slices
good splishy-splash of bluberry-pomegranate vinegar
healthy whoosh of olive oil
appx. 1 and 1/2 tsp. chili powder
appx. 1 T. comida
appx. 1 T. mexican oregano
2 finely minced garlic
appx. 1 tsp. salt

Put it all in a ziplock bag, massage it well, and leave in the fridge to marinate at least 4 hours. Grill outside about 4 min. a side. Goce! (Pic coutesy of google images, I'm afraid, but it's a pretty good replication.) We had beans and greens with it, which I will post later on.

Mayo su placa sea siempre llena con bendiciones.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The End (Is Only The Beginning)

Well, if I just had an extra $800....

That's what it would put me back to get this absolutely perfect gift for my son, D - $750 for the book, $50 for shipping. I was looking at a few back issues of NPR's The Picture Show when I was introduced to Rodney Smith. The connection in my mind between D and this fellow was instantaneous.

When the boys were younger, I discovered Chris Van Allsberg's wonderful The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in our local library. I used his fantastic mysterious drawings as springboards for the boys to create their own stories. His drawings left so much to the imagination while at the same time providing fodder for fancy to take flight within the mind. Even now, when I look within the book's pages I feel the tingling of creativity bubbling up.

Well, combine puzzling pictures with photography and a more mature and quirky sense of humor and you get either Rodney Smith or my son, D. It'd be a coin toss really, only Mr. Smith has beaten D to the punch and is reaping the fun, financial rewards for it. I was laughing out loud in delight at his photos - clever, whimsical, original, and I especially liked his black and white ones. I would absolutely love to get his book for my sweet boy - but there are only 1,000 autographed copies available and they are a bit too rich for this Mama's pocketbook. So into the box of empty pretties it goes.

Here's a delightful excerpt detailing his latest book:

If I could, I would pick out a few delightful choice photographs and surprise Dom with them on the walls of his room at home. So, I "pretend" gift it to you, D. Hope you like it too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Greed In Me

Well, just leave it to my wandering heart to go salivating after the deceptive fleeting pursuit of finding satisfaction in
things as soon as I get to feeling really content. Do you ever struggle with wanting material goods or experiences or "fill in the blank" that you cannot have? And getting things doesn't slay this Dragon! I just had a new faucet installed in my kitchen today, and the new water fixtures in the kids bathroom that I purchased last summer were put in today as well. And the thing is, I'm reading numerous articles and books (not to mention His WORD) that have to do with what really is of value. No matter. My desires and lusts for other baubles in life isn't contingent upon the fact that I already have enough. It's born of a carnality that is bottomless and deep. *"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

When I was younger and poorer, in our early days of marriage, I read somewhere (probably the ponderous and sage wisdom found between the pages of Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, or Woman's Day) that if I just put down on paper those things that I was struggling with feelings of covetousness for - and then came back to that list two or three days later - those yearnings would probably be gone. I didn't believe it, but I put this bit of instruction to the test. Oh wicked woman that I am - I always still wanted "IT"!

The passage of time has lessened this struggle, but I can't help but wonder if that has something to do with the fact that I have so much more now. Would I be so content today if I had acquired no more in the passing years than I had 25 years ago? There's really no way of knowing, but oh how I hope so.

As I drove along today, that old bit of homespun advise popped into my head. I thought, what the heck? Go ahead and put down the things you hanker after but are too frugal or poor to purchase. Not with the expectation that this will kill the hunger within me for them, but to expose them as the empty box of pretties that they are.

First on the list is this cutie. I saw somebody with this adorable little trinket on the freeway yesterday.

*James 1:14

Monday, March 15, 2010

Captivated by This Bizarre Love Child

I just love our Pastor, Giorgio Hiatt. I love that he loves words and everything about them. I love that he understands that words mean something. I went looking to see if he might not have a blog I could read, thinking it would most certainly be interesting and thought provoking. It was.

The Blog In My Own Eye
I vowed to never blog. It was immoral--the bizarre love child of the voyeur and the exhibitionist.
Don't you just love his way with words, his turning of a phrase, the way he gently mocks both himself and us at the same time, like a teasing big brother? He cleanly drives home the point of his blade, while remaining above the fray, arms folded behind when you looked to see - ouch! Who poked me?

"The bizarre love child of the voyeur and the exhibitionist." Hmmm.......
I have mused over this clever little synopsis of what it means to blog. Personally, I abhor the word itself. It lacks any of either the finesse of the word "writing" or the empathy for all of the mental considerations and sweat that goes into this craft. But I am speaking from my own personal point of origin.

Bloggers do so for any number of reasons and come in all manner of styles - political, advisory, ministerial, alternative, online clubs, seekers, sensationalists, artists, hermits, movers and shakers, activists, travelers, missionaries, the lonelies, and my personal favorites - the foodies. Certainly among those I've thought of (and the countless others I've missed), there are the voyeurs and the exhibitionists. I'll even allow for at least a 1/4 cup of those qualities in every blogger out there, your's truly included.

Giorgio's comment nudged me to consider why I undertook a blog, myself. Blogs, for lack of a better name, are both books and galleries - both of which I could spend hours within their pages or walls. For me, it is writing; it is art. I drool over the beauty of other's cover pages. I envy their splendid cameras that can deliver such perfect photos. I groan in admiration and jealousy over the writing of another. I get over it and do my own thing. Most of all, I get to express myself in the medium of my heart. And like my walk, I am challenged to do this thoughtfully, in a way that is in right keeping with a good response to I John 2: And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming.

It could be today! So blog like it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our Daily Steps

I've always been drawn to things that have the wear of time on them, old houses, faded letters, old-fashioned watches, abandoned barns, and neglected cemeteries. On the flip side, I do not take or keep pictures very often, I purge from our home on at least a semi-annual basis, I am not into a great accumulation of things, and if something gets broken (as it will) there is usually not a great deal of mourning from me. So there's not much chance that my things will ever last long enough to qualify as an antique. While I love looking into the eyes of strangers in old photographs, wondering about their past personal lives, it does not bother me that there might not be a similar picture of myself to be pondered in the decades ahead.

I believe in living in the here and now. The following are some of my dearest words I live by as one who follows in The Way. * "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. " That last one always brings a wry smile to my face - ain't it the truth?

Another Mom recently directed me to read this post from It's Almost Naptime. I read it aloud as my girls listened on. I read it with delight and kindred recognition of the values and truths this Mommy has written to her own children. She appears to live with an understanding of the precious fleetingness of this life.

Prior to adopting our girls, my husband and I had looked ahead. We had two sons who would be graduating within the next few years, and another one not too far behind. So college expenses were definitely part of our considerations as we prayerfully considered what steps to take. In the face of our realities (obligations, responsibilities, expenses, etc.) was a clear calling to step forward and adopt. This was a real test of our faith and obedience, and I thank God for His faithfulness to our response. He provided for most of our oldest two boys' college education within the next four years. Looking back, we'd had no idea how He would of course, but He did.

We are now once again prayerfully considering our third son's walk forward into this worldly world of academia. He has been accepted into two fine colleges, fairly equal in expenses, mixed bags in all other ways. He has his heart set on one, and we are praying. Thoughts come into our minds, attempts at reasoning, weighing, rationalizing. Every time, I give them a moment, then I set them up and away as I turn to prayer once again, seeking an answer from the One who knows more than I possibly can. I never want to be somewhere that He has not brought me, nor send my children where He has not led.

Last week I'd chosen what to put on my son's graduation diploma. I thought he'd like something in Latin. He is a classic sort, for all his quirky ways that surprise and delight and aggravate. I chose words that I know will never fail or disappoint.

Quaerite prime regnum Dei
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

My life does not need to be one that leaves behind a picture of who I was. But I pray that it is one where a well-worn place is left from the steps I repeatedly took - bringing my cares before the throne, my pleas for direction up to His hands, my secret longings revealed to His examinations, my wounds to His ministering touch, my each and every thing to be enveloped in His ALL. May the mark of my footfall be of such consistent reliance that they are worn deep into stone steps.

*Colossians 3:17,23 Matthew 6:34

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let Us Break Cake Together, On Our Knees

First off, I mean nothing sacrilegious by the title I have given this piece. I'd written something else, originally. As I left to join my community group for the evening, I began humming "let us break bread together on our knees," a song laden with a feeling of family and many fond memories. As I was bringing cake.... well, you see where I went with it. With every community group I have been a part of, the question has always arisen... before we start getting into His word - what are we going to eat? There's just something about breaking bread, or cake, or chip and dip, or whatever together that encourages fellowship - so this issue of the meal, or even just a snack, always needs resolution.

In our group a few pot luck, smorgasborg things have been tried. We have now committed ourselves to the sign-up sheet whereupon each family takes it upon themselves to bring the goodies for that week's gathering. There are a lot of us, usually at least 20 adults, so this is no small sacrifice for the giver. But it seems to work for us. Everyone is very thankful for whatever is brought, and there are long stretches of time before it is your turn again.

Tonight is my turn. Which has translated into Luisa being given the arduous task of making a carrot cake yesterday while I was out for a good portion of the day on errands. (She would much rather be given the assignment of simply grating carrots, but Angelina was busy making her first cheesecake for the family - white chocolate raspberry. She's a mini-Quentin.) So with recipe in hand, my little Lu turned out a very nice cake! In our family, nobody is exempt from cooking - except for Roman the magician who mysteriously and consistently disappears when this routine task arises. He's the dishwasher.

Today, Angelina is in bed, sick. So Luisa and I have been finishing the rest of the fixins for tonight. I made a classic cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake to begin with. Then, we attempted an apple cake that could only have been created in the South. This thing is guaranteed to give you a cavity if you do not brush immediately afterwards. The cake itself may be a rather standard (if sugar heavy) recipe, but once it was taken from the oven the directions instructed us to have a sauce composed of 1 cup brown sugar, 1 stick of butter, and 1/4 cup of milk ready to pour over the hot cake and let it rest for an hour. This we did. What I didn't do was bake it in a flute pan, so my intricately designed bundt pat held on fast to all that sticky sweetness and we wound up with a cake that wouldn't let loose - well half of it wouldn't, and half of it did. So, this baby will be staying home to be eaten with vanilla ice-cream, having proven itself unfit for public presentation. Ah well.....

It's a good thing I also had Luisa help me make a chocolate banana cake. We decided a sweet and tangy chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe would set it off perfectly. And in keeping with our readings on prayer by Paul Miller, I find it fitting to offer a child's prayer here:

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the friends we meet.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything. Amen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I say this with more pride and surprise than you can imagine. My 3rd grade teacher kindly consoled me with these words, "Girls just aren't as good in math, my dear." I grabbed onto that little nugget of sympathy and worked it over good through the years, comforting myself with it often through my struggles and failures in this area. After all, I wasn't meant to be any good at this!

When I began homeschooling, I realized that this negative stance I'd taken against mathematics wasn't going to help my sons at all - so I cut "I hate math" out of my vocabulary and focused on being an encourager. To my surprise, I began to see this subject in a new light - it was actually a little fun and kind of like puzzles. Still, I grew anxious as we passed on through the lower levels of math and approached the stages that actually got their own names - firstly ALGEBRA. I entered it keeping my fear and trepidation secret, as well as the sigh of relief that blew through me when my sons all proved adept at this dreaded subject without much (or after a while, any) help from me. With my third son, homeschooling had changed as well as our finances so that I could afford to put him in a class with a "real" teacher with experience from years of public school teaching. More than anything, I wanted accountability for that particular son so we went with a very fine homeschool Mom to lead him forward in this subject.

Bear in mind, however, that underneath it all I really felt that if push came to shove - I could teach this to my children. My thoughts on education, on my own capabilities, on what we can do with the Lord's help has changed so much since I was a struggling, disappointed eight year old dealing with failure.

Time goes by and in 2004 we bring our daughters into our family. They'd had no formal education prior to our adoption, so hands-on-total-involvement is the name of the game. Five years later, and my oldest daughter is now entering the first math with a title. Here we go again.... And unlike my sons, I sense my girls will need me to continue to walk beside them in these upper years. So I am called out to own up - do I really think I can teach this stuff or were those just inner illusions of grandeur I was schlepping around?

Well, you never know until you try! It has been slow going, but it has been going. I am learning each day alongside my girl, but I amazed by this!

I picture this same daughter on the plane as we came home from Bogota. She was a rather bossy, emotional, exuberant child full of bravado. She and I had "bonded" while in Colombia as she threw up all over my shoes while I held her after a twisty ride to the top of Monserrat. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from her as we lifted off the ground and our plane took flight. She looked across the aisle, nodding knowingly at me and smiled as though to say, "This is just what I knew it would be like."

It feels something like that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Remember that big finger of conviction that I've mentioned before that shows up jabbing at my chest? Well, it poked me good this morning. I was reading the latest post from Penniless Parenting and saw my bad self reflected there in her plain and honest confession of being on the computer too much. My husband was teasing me about it recently, and boy did I have an overreaction to it. I read "Penny's" words and while I know I have to use my computer for various things, I recognized enough of myself in what she was talking about to be brought up short.

So, I got off the computer (right after I posted a response >grin<), and in the last two hours I have been busy getting things done that need to get done. I have gotten showered and dressed, given the girls a devotional to work on and instructed them in it, taken the sheets off my bed, gotten laundry moving along, halfway cleaned my bathroom, went over scheduling with the girls, and corrected 4 lessons of math (forever behind in correcting it seems). As I cleaned my mirror I chided my reflection, "Seriously? You can't do a better job of managing your time to get more done in a day?" Yes, I am a busy woman, but I know I can do a better job with the stewardship of my time.

So, what's the plan? Well, my kids have daily assigned chores, but there are still plenty of things that I know need to get done around here that are not big projects but would be good for me to fit into my day in 10-30 minute increments. So here's my -
"Seriously? You mean you have to get on the computer now? You don't have time to do this?" list:
Some laundry
Some dusting
Wash down some dirty walls
Sweep the deck
Some bathroom cleaning
Clean the sliding door in the kitchen
Organize a shelf somewhere in the house
Clean out a bin or shelf in the fridge
Sweep the kitchen floor

After 20+ years of marriage you'd think I'd have this down, wouldn't you? But I don't know if I'll ever have arrived. I realize that my list consists of artless housework, but as I once reflected when my children were young, 'what I do is like knitting a sweater at one end, and life keeps unraveling it at the other.' The Chatelaine's Key has a beautifully written piece on the virtue of rhythmically repetitive labor. Here's a small excerpt:
"My grandmother told me that when I was a grown woman, I would live my life in a sea of labor that was done each morning, and undone before I went to bed. I would wash the dishes and cook meals, only to see them eaten and the dishes dirtied again. I would wash clothes, dry them, and see them back in the hamper. She observed to me that it was necessary that I learn to do something that “stayed done at the end of the day.” She was telling me how important this was to her, and she wanted very much to pass on the knowledge."
Funny how with many things, if you describe them well or tweak your view of them, often rise in esteem and value. And upon further reflection, if I leave my blogging (the thing that stays done) and my penchant for browsing to a more appropriate time, my days' work will settle more easily into their rightful places, as will all else.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Ephesians 5: 15-17

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Brief History of My Writing Career

I feel worn out today.

Perhaps not the best day to post... and I might just delete this later. I just want to write anyway. I don't know what I want to talk about. I just want to write.

I love writing. That's why I began this blog. I'm still feeling my way with it. Some things seem too personal to share in such a public arena. Some things that parade across my thoughts might hurt or damage relationships so they're understandably off limits. Some wonderful topics I might discuss sometime simply do not call to be written today.

When I was in school, writing was what came naturally to me. I loved to have my papers read anonymously in class, smiling with delight inside at the quiet praise. My teachers encouraged me to go into the journalism field. While flattered, of course, I mentally recoiled at the thought of abandoning my children. I was a mother already in my heart. ;D Someday I would write, when my children were all grown.

In my younger years I journaled religiously. I occasionally cut and pasted pictures from magazines to illustrate my entries. I loved the freedom that lay in putting forth somewhere my thoughts, rants, and dreams. Years later I picked them up and went through them nostalgically. I am sentimental about the here and now, but I'm not one for keeping momentos really. No family photos all over the house, or even many in boxes. Off the books went to the garbage bin. It wasn't really great writing anyway.

Once I had my kids, all of that got put away; my life was at the same time too busy and too boring. I'd always known that once my real life of Wife and Mommy commenced, I would no longer have room for such a regular literary indulgence. This was the time for fully living, and who knew but that I might not have something worthwhile to write about someday?

You'd have to be a Mama to understand how that previous paragraph fits together so perfectly.

My husband got me this laptop last fall. It was the perfect gift at just the right time for me. Although we write today with these handy electronic traveling keyboards, my heart still feel the words are penned with ink like the woman in my caption. My children are not completely grown, but if I start writing now I might actually be a real writer someday when I grow up.