November 28, 2008

Goodbye, Little Buddy

One kitten. Eighteen years ago. It was Eric's wedding gift to me. We'd only been married two weeks. Enough time to honeymoon, unwrap presents, pack them up in our Jeep, put a double mattress on top, and leave California for Washington. Pulling into the little town of Gig Harbor, we dutifully asked every apartment manager, "Do you take cats?" The answer was generally an emphatic "No!" Never mind that we didn't even have the little beast yet, I was not going to be deterred. Finally, at the top of the world's largest hill, with a view of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier on a clear day, we found it: a log cabin. We quickly called the number on the For Rent sign and asked the owner the only question that mattered, "Do you take cats?" What young married fools we were. But the owner was just as young, just as foolish, and fortunately for us, just as much of an animal lover.

Honestly, I can't remember how many days later, I don't even know if we unpacked, but we made our way over to the Tacoma pound. Yep, pound. The kind where animals don't last long. Noisy, smelly, cement floors, rows and rows of cats in cages, a person who adopted here really would feel like a hero. They had two cages of kittens-males and females- and there she was. Furry bundle of sassy black and white meow with emerald green eyes. The littlest package, she sat in my hand. My first baby, I named her Toulouse, forever a favorite name of mine and one I knew no offspring would ever appreciate. But there was Eric, no kitten for him. And there in the neighboring cage sat Toulouse's litter mate-the same black and white, the same emerald green eyes, but where she was a ball of fluff, he was sleek silk. No sass for him, he was sweet, gentle love. It made sense; we didn't have brand new his and her towels, but we could have matching kitties. We had wedding gift money to burn. He was my husband's Gilligan, and so we brought home Toulouse and Little Buddy.

Not having a television, the cats became our entertainment. We took pictures galore. They nestled in our bed and found all sorts of hidey holes in that cabin. Unfortunately, being young and foolish and in love, and having wanted cats more than reasonable rent, the cabin didn't last long. That's when we started to learn that while maybe some people would take one cat for a ridiculous fee, two cats- no way! It became a yearly search, for that's about how often we moved those first few years of marraige. But Toulouse and Little Buddy always went with us. They were co-conspirators the first Thanksgiving my parents visited. So proud of our first BBQ'ed turkey, we left it on the counter to rest. The cats loved their turkey dinner that year.

Hannah soon joined us and Little Buddy loved her warm little body. She was a great snuggler. We made our final move in Washington, unbeknownst to us. This time, the cats paid the high price: they had to be declawed. But they came.

Four years later, we moved back to California. I drove with Hannah, not yet two, the cats, not in cages, and plenty of Benadryl. But we made it back and have never moved since. A year later, Malcolm made his appearance and, as usual, the cats adjusted. Little Buddy always was a "lover, not a fighter" and after some initial timidity would welcome any new little being. And they came- guinea pigs, rabbits, stray kittens, even more cats. Finally, the worst nightmare- a bouncing, barking Jack Russell, a little Jack who wanted to be best friends with these long tailed, hissing, spitting, running litter mates. And Little Bud acquiesed. He even put up with the dog. We added to the cat collection. As the kids turned ten, we would troop off to the local animal shelter (far cries from that first hell-hole, these were life-oriented shelters) and pick out a new little bundle of fur. Boo, pure black, a Halloween baby, and Ares, a chubby white male with a Zorro mask and a tail dipped in black ink. We still had other stray cats, but the kids figured it out: if they weren't black and white, they didn't last long in our home. Leukemia usually took them away or some disease. It was our pound kitties that loved and lasted. Eventually, we brought Matthew home from VietNam. The Jack was a bit boisterous for this shell-shocked little guy, but Little Buddy's gentle bonkings on the forehead won him over. Two years ago, another stray found us, and she was black and white. Maybe we kept her because she reminded us of our Little Bud and his heart had already been failing for awhile. In fact, as she grew, in the right light, you couldn't tell them apart. Like all the kittens, he welcomed her in and she nestled next to his slumbering form. Old and young.

Toulouse never liked another animal. Always intolerant of everyone but her brother, she would refuse to share my lap with anyone but him. And that's where those two have spent many mornings for the last eighteen years. I'd feed them, make the coffee, and sit down with my Bible. Then they would come. I'd have to reorganize everything to fit them on my lap. That's where I'd wonder what did they reveal about God? For they are His creation and so must reflect something about Him. I know I'm a crazy, cat loving fool, but I also have a God who cares about falling sparrows, so I know He cares for these two.

But today came. Little Buddy had been melting away over the last few years. His heart was failing, his kidneys ruined, yet he was still happy. Still loved basking in sunshine, his breakfast in the morning, and climbing on my lap. He didn't walk so well and he smelled bad. His once silken coat was matted and dull and would even fall out in tufts. But today he was in pain. Today he came to breakfast, but didn't eat. Today, we needed to let him go.

So today, Little Buddy lies under the redwood tree where a sunbeam resides in the spring and summer. Ares and Princess love to play under that tree and we can see it from the kitchen window while we wash the dishes.

Goodbye, Little Buddy

October 1990-November 2008

November 27, 2008

Thank You

Thank You, my precious Holy Father,

for this beautiful life. For choosing me before the world began and setting in place a plan to make me your forever daughter and heir. Thank You, my Savior, for perfectly living the life I can't, for facing the same trials and sorrows and joys and pleasures and for never once giving into sin like I do. Holy Spirit, You've washed me with regeneration and You open my eyes to the Glory of God; You guide me, convict me, comfort me, all the while sealing me.

Not only all this, which is so much more then I deserve, for all I deserve is Your wrath and eternal white hot burning fire and damnation, forever separated from You, but then You have given me life abundant:

tears and laughter, both gut-wrenching

sorrow and joy, over sin, over weaknesses, over triumph and victory

days when adrenaline and caffeine run through my veins- I can do it all

nights when sleeps flees, tears are my only companion, dripping onto Your Word as I realize I can't do anything without You

a husband who has covenanted in companionship with me, a lover and friend, faithful father, a true noble man, one of God's primary means of conforming me to the image of Christ

three precious children, beautiful in form, growing in character, full of the newness and awe of life, three more means of sanctification

America- God bless her!

Obama- God bless him and use him to grow us

Philadelphia, city of brotherly love and you welcomed us, plus cheesesteaks come from there

New York City, only 24 hours there, but what a memory of family laughter

Sebastopol, more like Sodom but still where God has me and mine and this place keeps me on my knees

Sonoma County, the vineyards are glorious reflections of God's beauty, I gasp in awe

oceans that thunder under our boogie boards

snow and rain, fog and drizzle

blazing bright sun

hot chocolate, whip cream and marshmallows

the morning smell of coffee

garlic roasting

my mother who is my biggest fan, my step-father who I'm learning to honor, my earthly dad long gone to his heavenly home, waiting while a place is prepared for me

books, books, and more books

the freedom to homeschool

mornings I don't have to hop out of bed at five a.m. and I get to linger amidst sweet husband and cats and dog

mornings I hop out of bed at five a.m. and have such quiet, peaceful times with my Savior, interceding for those still asleep

cold morning walks

hot afternoon swims

life...joyous, pain-filled, heart-wrenching, exhausting, exhilarating, temporary journey for now, eternal kingdom forever

Thank You, God

November 26, 2008

A Pictorial Thanksgiving

Calendar Quote of the Day

One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunies for a different kind of work, but do just the things we 'find to do' day by day.
Charles Spurgeon


Lord of Immortality,
Before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces,
enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear.
Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts,
help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth.
Thou who art righteous,
let me not harbor sin in my heart,
or indulge a worldly temper,
or seek satisfaction in things that perish.
I hasten towards an hour when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain,
when it will be indifferent whether I have been
rich or poor,
successful or disappointed {as a mother and as a wife},
admired or despised {by my church, by my neighbors, by my friends, or the people I meet}.
But it will be of eternal moment that I have
mourned for sin {even though sometimes, my Christ, I have forgotten Your resurrection and only bow under the grief of how I have crucified You},
hungered and thirsted after righteousness,
loved the Lord in sincerity,
gloried in His cross.
May these objects engross my chief solicitude!
Produce in me those principles and dispositions that make Thy service perfect freedom.
Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame,
so that with firmness and courage I may confess the Redeemer before men,
go forth with Him bearing His reproach,
be zealous with His knowledge,
be filled with His wisdom,
walk with His circumspection,
ask counsel of Him in all things,
repair to the Scriptures for His orders,
stay my mind on His peace,
knowing that nothing can befall me
without His permission, appointment, and administration.
The Valley of Vision

November 25, 2008

Truths for a Tuesday

I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.
Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:75-77 ESV

November 21, 2008

Five Favorites for a Friday

  1. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, less than a week, and Simple Pleasures just tickled my soul. It's the equivalent of an adult Thanksgiving tree. What is most beautiful about it are the comments- take time to peruse the gracious and humble thoughts of the simple pleasures in life.
  2. As four-fifths of our family is involved in Facebook, Thinking Biblically About Facebook, caught my eye and I appreciated what I read. Good food for thought! I also didn't realize FB was practically next door to us- do I feel a field trip coming on or what? It was also my first visit to Buzzard Blog and I think I might have to return. HT: Justin Taylor
  3. I also loved Janelle Bradshaw's "Jelly Toast" story. Her humility and her perseverance caught at my soul, simultaneously encouraging and exhorting me in my own parenting. But that's why Girl Talk is on my top ten!
  4. Have you ever made the comment "I'm so busy," in response to the generic "How ya' doin' "? Then C.J. Mahaney's series on busyness is for you. I think I will get back to this one eventually because busyness is a personal pet peeve for me.
  5. And the last is actually a whole blog site that caught my eye, Making Home. I noticed that it made the blog roll for Titus2Talk and decided to quickly peruse it. I suggest giving it a quick gander.

Calendar Quote of the Day

Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censer smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving. Charles Spurgeon

November 20, 2008

Bored? Nothing to Do?

For Matthew’s Bible we are doing what I have academically entitled “Old Testament Survey.” Actually, it is not that daunting. Using The Victor Journey Through the Bible, we read a chapter of the Bible, read the commentary in …Journey… and color maps and stuff. As we started “Exodus”, the author, V. Gilbert Beers, discussed the difference between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. “Music and the arts were popular entertainment among Egyptians, but the Hebrews enjoyed gathering in their tents to talk and eat.” What a powerful thought to stop and consider this major difference between the pagans and God’s chosen ones. What an even more powerful thought to stop and consider whom we might resemble more? The truth I see revealed in our family makes me shudder. I do not hate entertainment; I love it! After an exhausting day, I revel in getting Lost on some island, wonder what kind of super Hero power I would like, or maybe just delight in seeing somebody else’s Life. Disengagement. It is easier than pulling out a game board, reading aloud, or- why not get really radical- family Bible study and giving “my time” to another who needs it. Yet, this type of disengagement is precisely what leads to apathy, a “deadness of soul,” both far more appropriate synonyms for the innocuous sounding “boredom.” I honestly do not think I had ever considered this word or thought of all the sin that it covers until I read Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment. Who knows what caught me? Culture? Entertainment? Or the subtitle: Rediscovering Passion and Wonder? All buzzwords guaranteed to prick my ears. It was advertised in Shepherd’s Press so if the Tripp brothers were recommending it, I would read it.
It opened my eyes to what I call Biblical language- using Biblical terms to define worldly language such as calling naughtiness sin, whining and fussing are grumbling and complaining, not sharing is selfishness, a tattle-tale is a tale-bearer, not listening is disobedience, and boredom becomes idleness, laziness, apathy, and discontent. In fact, after the historical study of boredom that Richard Winter, the author, presents, we learn that the early church fathers considered it a spiritual disorder, “the monks had lost interest in and passion for the very thing that previously motivated their choices and lifestyle: the pursuit of God and a holy life.” OUCH! Winter helps us to understand the basics of boredom, the two types, how our beloved entertainment industry exacerbates boredom, even how advertising affects it, how certain personalities are prone to it- having two boys and several gaming systems shows me that. He also presents the worldviews that influence boredom and the painful consequences such as sexual addiction and aggression. Yet in God’s grace, Mr. Winter also shares the antidote: and it is just that- God’s grace. A proper, high view of God. A delight in God. A life of love-filled gratitude for God.
I know in my pursuit to engage the culture, I am tempted to be engaged by it or to disengage. And I know that when I consider Biblical language, “taking every thought captive”, “run the race with diligence- as to win”, “pursue”, “ throw off all that hinders”, I am reminded to be “an effectual doer” and Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment exhorts me to that call.

November 19, 2008

Calendar Quote of the Day

Our churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love.
Charles Spurgeon

Truths for a Tuesday

When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul!

Psalm 94:19

Thinking Humbly

If you would enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your duty. Place yourself before God in your helplessness; consent to the fact that you are powerless to slay yourself; give yourself in patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look upon every person who tries or troubles you as a means of grace to humble you.
Andrew Murray, Humility

November 18, 2008

Truths for a Tuesday

I am collecting verses to remind me of who God is and how He deals with me. I write them on index cards and keep them as my bookmark in the Psalms. I don't read them daily, more like every other day. On particularly tough days, I have been known to keep them in my hand and refer to them frequently. Some are quite crumpled and tear-stained but my heart does stay true when I cling to these precious words. I call these paper declarations "statements of confidence."

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Psalm 54:4

November 17, 2008

A Mom's Monday Morning Musings

Ok, so it's not Monday morning any longer but the alliteration was just too corny to pass up. It could be because my day started at 4:30 this morning when our Jack Russell leapt upon my husband's sleeping head in a frantic attempt to kill the raccoon intruder straddling the fence outside our bedroom window. Welcome to Monday!
Why is it that temptation has to start at 4:30 a.m. on a Monday? "Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to selfish gain," I pray. Sure, I get up in 30 minutes anyway, but it is really easy to rationalize every moment of lost sleep and my Mondays are a tad bit daunting to me for they involve lots of driving here and there and even worse: precise timing. You know what I mean, drop eldest daughter off at work, run home, get some quality educating in, run to the grocery store on the way to dropping middle son off at piano, then back to pick up the eldest from work, pick up middle from piano, rush home to get dinner for eldest prior to rushing her to babysitting job while middle son dashes off to karate, all the while toting youngest brother. Whew! But on this day- and it is the only day we live like that- I desperately need to spend time with God, to make Him my priority in all that I do, to provide bits of Scripture for meditation and prayer during all that driving and rushing. And God is good, He answers me.

Calendar Quote for the Day

The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosed Him for ours. Charles Spurgeon

November 15, 2008

What's Cooking

Tonight is Malcolm's first kenpo-karate tournament. He's simultaneously excited and nervous. The whole event is a potluck and he requested Holiday Meatballs, a recipe from our dear friend, Jodie Williams.

This is a really easy recipe. I've converted it to the crockpot and use frozen meatballs from Costco to make it even easier. I actually will make meatballs

  • when hamburger is on sale and I can buy a lot
  • when I have a few hours to keep popping batches in the oven. Then I just pack them in plastic bags and freeze!
  • Voila! Instant homemade meatballs.

Holiday Meatballs

  • Meatballs- figure 3-5 per person. Bake if you are using the frozen kind or use your own recipe and cook.
  • 1- 16 oz. can cranberry sauce, jellied or whole, I use one of each.
  • 1- 12 oz. bottle of chile sauce
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. lemon juice

After you've baked the meatballs, place them in a crockpot - or they can go in a warming server, electric skillet, or pot on the stove.

Heat the sauces, sugar and lemon juice just until boiling, stirring to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, turn the crockpot on low and let it go until you are ready to serve. I generally double the sauce because I do let it simmer for several hours and the longer it cooks, the more sauce the meatballs absorb.

My kids like these over rice for a complete dinner but I often just take them as is to potlucks and people always rave!

November 14, 2008

The Valley Where I Live

God's Glory, God's Promise

November 12, 2008

The Road I Travel

This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
Not health but healing,
Not being but becoming,
Not rest but exercise,
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it;
The process is not yet finished but it is going on;
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.
Martin Luther

November 11, 2008

What Do You See?

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, Book 7