Friday, May 25, 2012

Smelling Cat's Claw

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Storm

If you do not live in New Mexico, you may not be aware of what a little spring storm might look like. We had one just the other day, so let me tell you what happens.

First, you hear the thunder and you make the mistake of assuming it is not actually going to rain because after all, you live in southern New Mexico where you get an annual rainfall of 8.5". Then the sky opens up five seconds later and dumps freezing cold rain and hail. You mentally kick yourself for not believing the thunder and run out to rescue the chickens whose home in the backyard is quickly becoming flooded.

Soaked to the skin, you start to blow dry the chickens because they are even more freezing than you, if that is possible. You are struck by the irony that you don't blow dry your own hair, but you blow dry chicken feathers.

After the rain and hail stops, you go outside to assess the damage. Besides the fact that your driveway is currently being washed down the flash flooding arroyo, there doesn't seem to be any damage.

You are reminded why a mini-van is probably not the best choice for your next vehicle.

Then you acquiesce to your daughter’s request to go jump in the puddles. After all, her nap has already been cut short by the cracks of thunder and there is no hope she will go back to sleep.

Next, you take a few minutes to soak in the beauty of a desert willow covered in rain drops.

You breathe deeply the fragrant smell of the creosote after a rain.

Lastly, you think how blessed you are to live in the desert, wild storms and all.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What I Learned About My Husband During Graduate School

This picture is a perfect representation of my marriage. In case you weren’t sure, Chris is supposed to represent the figure standing at the bottom lifting me up. Essentially, I could not have done any of this if it were not for my husband supporting me. He made graduation possible in so many different ways.

Let me tell you a little bit about my husband. One of the things I grew to recognize is that my husband doesn’t delineate responsibilities down traditional lines. I love being the “keeper” of the house, but my husband was always willing to pitch in when I could not complete all the duties around our home.

He stayed home from work to watch sick kids if I had an exam I could not miss. He helped with the shuttling duties by dropping girls off, picking them up, taking them to dance, etc. He helped pack lunches. He cooked dinner on the days I had night classes and he pitched in on the days I was too exhausted to do it on my own. If I got behind on laundry, he waited until he was in dire straits to mention he could really use some clean clothes. He was a great help around the house.

Another thing I discovered about Chris is that he is my biggest cheerleader and a huge emotional support. He believed I could make it through when I doubted myself. He told me he was proud of the work I was doing. He encouraged me to go a little easier on myself. He reminded me this was temporary. He bought me dark chocolate and caffeine to get through the late nights studying (I think this falls under the category of emotional support!).

Finally, I realized that my husband is my protector. Chris knows that I am driven and will caution me when I am about to exceed what I can handle. God has given him wisdom to see my limitations and to allow me to push myself, but not to go past what is healthy for me. Not only does he provide leadership in this area, he also leads our family spiritually in so many other areas.

Oh, and one more thing, he completed his Master of Civil Engineering during this last month. He had completed all his course work previously, but spent many late nights preparing his final project/presentation as well as completing two extremely long take-home exams and defending his knowledge orally. He is the hardest working man I know and I feel extremely blessed to call him "husband."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I Learned About My Daughters During Graduate School

This Saturday I graduate with my Master of Communication Disorders, which means I will be a speech-language pathologist (therapist in less fancy language). This week will be one of reflection for me. This has been a long, hard road and I want to remember the lessons I learned along the way. In addition, I don’t ever want to forget those people who traveled this road with me. It would be a travesty to look back someday and think I did this by myself, for that could not be more untrue.

I have two really great girls. Going to graduate school has taught me so much about my daughters and has given me a fresh perspective on mothering them. These girls have taught me that they love me, no matter what. They love me even though I lose my temper and they are quick to forgive when I ask for it. They love me when I am great at mothering and when I fail at mothering. They love me because I am their mother and not because of what I do as their mother.
They love spending quality, undivided time with me. They love it when we work on craft projects and bake goodies. They love dance parties when we act silly and make up crazy dance moves. They love taking walks or hiking together.

The last couple of years, I have done everything I could so these girls would not feel a twinge of discomfort. My mantra was, “I don’t ever want the girls to suffer because I am in school.” I never studied while they were awake. I pushed myself to stay up late and frost cupcakes for parties, create Halloween costumes, and plan fun activities during school breaks. Often, I teetered on the edge of sheer exhaustion because I wanted them to participate in all same activities as normal kids (as in kids whose mothers did not attend school).

Now the question is, “Did that make me a better mother?” No. The truth is that I probably would have been a better mother if I had rested a bit more and focused on enjoying my time with the girls more. By getting caught up in giving them the trappings of a perfect childhood, I started to miss what is really important about being a mom.

When I finally took a step back, I realized that my girls were teaching me what it is to be a good mom. For them, it is taking the time to listen, to cuddle, to affirm, to play, to be silly, to empathize, to support, to read, to kiss, to bake, to dance, to create, and to laugh. The girls need me to be there for them and they could care less if I make their Halloween costumes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What I Learned About My Friends During Graduate School

This Saturday I graduate with my Master of Communication Disorders, which means I will be a speech-language pathologist (therapist in less fancy language). This week is one of reflection for me. This has been a long, hard road and I want to remember the lessons I learned along the way. In addition, I don’t ever want to forget those people who traveled this road with me. It would be a travesty to look back someday and think I did this by myself, for that could not be more untrue.

I am so incredibly grateful to my friends for believing that I could do this and praying me through it. These women have been encouraging and supportive throughout this time and I want to take this time to thank them. Who am I blessed to count as friends?

They are women who came for dinner and ended up helping in my kitchen. They are women who watched my kids after school when my husband was out-of-town and I had a night class. They are women who wrote notes of encouragement, quoted renewing Bible verses, or gave me Starbucks gift cards to get me through finals. They are women who reminded me that what I was pursuing more than a degree, that I was pursuing a calling. They are women who reassured me that I was a great mother, even if their lives didn’t look like mine. They are women who offered to make my family a meal just to help share my load. They are women who prayed for me during the times of utter exhaustion and looming exams. They are women who rejoiced with me during times of success. They are women who pointed me to Christ through their words and actions.

Not only was I blessed to have an amazing network of friends going into graduate school, I was doubly blessed to develop several new friendships along the way. One of those friendships developed when God brought a compassionate, warm, upbeat woman to care for my girls the first two years of this program. I very well might have dropped out of the program if it were not for a certain child-care provider who let me come to her house multiple times during the day, camp out on her couch, and nurse my baby who refused bottles. She allowed us all to make her house our home-away-from-home and made us feel like family. She encouraged me with notes and small gifts which made those times away from my sweet girls a little more bearable. She kept my children late during the times Chris traveled and I had a night class (and she would save a plate of dinner and send it home for me on those nights too). She was a huge support during times of transition and change.

Another friendship developed when a kind, older woman in our church offered to watch my girls when they were sick and couldn’t go to school. Although I only took her up on it once, it was the idea that someone was willing to care for my puking girls if I absolutely had to go to class or an externship that day. Since having a sick child was not considered a valid excuse to miss class or a day of externship, this offer was so helpful and I adore this woman for making it.

These women and their prayers and encouragement were so instrumental in completing my degree. Thank you ladies. You know who you are.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


We were struck by something recently. Both our girls are old enough to go on a substantial hike (one of several miles) without one of them needing to be carried.

This insight was revolutionary because it has freed us to take advantage of all the nearby hiking trails without needing to bring along a structured child carrier.

So we celebrated by spending several weekends in a row hiking.

The girls love getting on the trail. They imagine they are explorers and try to be the first to spot flowers or wildlife. Addie found this little guy sunning on a rock.

Hiking is a chance to get some fresh air and exercise. It is also a wonderful opportunity to teach the girls to stop and marvel at the world God has made.

Clara loved looking at all the plants and wanted to learn their names, so I ordered a field guide for the southwest. I also bought her a notebook so she can start drawing her finds.

We count ourselves very fortunate to have all this beauty to explore. We can literally walk out our front door and be surrounded by nature. It is one of the best things about living out of town (along with the quiet and the amazing view of the stars).

We are looking forward to a summer filled with hiking new and uncharted territory (for us at least)!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sanctification through Stains

Recently our pastor covered the topic of sanctification in our Sunday school class. I love this definition of sanctification: “A practical progressive holiness in a believer’s life while awaiting the return of Christ.” However, the class discussed that it should probably read “a painful, progressive holiness in a believer’s life…” to be more accurate.

The Holy Spirit is at work in my life sanctifying me through so many ways and I think one of those ways might be through my carpet. The thing is that I might have some OCD tendencies. So it is important to me to have clean, organized house. Now the problem does not lie with taking delight in my work as a housewife, but in lies in finding my identity through the cleanliness of my home. The good news is that my carpet helps to stave off that pet sin of pride.

The carpet in our house is pretty much the bane of my existence. It is the perfect shade of off-white to showcase every single spec of dirt and stain. We bought our house as a foreclosure six years ago. The previous owners didn’t feel obliged to keep the carpet in good condition so it was stained badly when we bought the house. Two dogs and two kids later, the carpet is definitely worse for the wear. No matter what I do to clean our carpet, it appears dirty.

So, just as I start to reach around to pat myself on my back for being a great housewife, I catch a glimpse of the carpet. The carpet points out all my flaws as a housewife (there are those stains I cannot get out and those stains I have inadvertently created). No matter what I do, there will be a point when I fail at whatever it is that I am doing. Sanctification occurs when the Holy Spirit moves in me and I struggle against those pet sins of pride and self-reliance. My carpet is a daily reminder that I should find my identity only in being a daughter of God, not in being a good housewife. Thank goodness, because you should see my laundry pile right now!

Edited: I wrote this post several weeks ago, but never got around to posting it. Last night my daughter projectile vomited across the carpet in her room. Oh, the irony of giving her orange bell peppers for lunch (those stains are the toughest I have encountered!). Apparently I needed another reason not put my trust in clean carpet.

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