Friday, January 30, 2009

Noah's Mom Date

I need to confess, I am no where near a perfect mother. And by that, I mean that I am guilty of some pretty serious sin against my kids, but Noah in particular, and against God. I do not give him the grace and forgiveness that God has shown to me over and over again. I place on him unachievable expectations and respond with harsh words, angry tones and frustration when he does not accomplish what I expect. Thankfully, I realize that I can not love, even my own children, in the perfect way I should, by my own strength. I need help loving them, everyday.

Colosian 3: 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Even in just asking God for help in my weakness, he is faithfully at my side, strengthening me to love my children.

And then recently, almost out of the blue, I am finding that I enjoy my time with Noah more.

He smiles more.
He is delighted in my investment of little moments with him.
He is comforted by my encouragement and praise.

I find joy, more often than frustration.
He has become my gift, as well as my child.
My children and the Lord have taught me.

Leading up to this transformation, in November, we had spent a day at OMSI(Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and on the way out, Noah took notice the giant posters advertising the IMAX movies playing at the time.

He said that he would really like to see MUMMIES, I think in part because he had recently heard Mummies in the Morning from the Magic Tree House series. I suggested that we take some time to study about Ancient Egypt before going and that it could be a special Mom Date when we went, just me and him. This was a very exciting proposition for Noah.

He patiently waited as we learned about Egypt and Mummies and practiced writing sarcophagus. He even had to patiently wait until after the big 2 week snow storm, and then until after Christmas, and after the relatives had gone home, and then to find a sitter during the day, which ended up being Dad who was off for MLK Day.

We got out for a late lunch at Noah's favorite place: Taco Bell, for his favorite food: quesedillas. He accompanied me to Winco for my fastest trip in and out of the grocery store ever(because I am never able to move that quickly with everyone in tow). I know that might seem like a strange thing to do on a date, but it was fun for us to do together, just he and I. That never happens.

Popcorn, Root Beer for Noah and a Latte for Mom.

The long hike up to the top of the IMAX theater (because Mom is prone to motion sickness). Now, I can hear someone saying "Dates should be fun, not educational!" If I may respond?
One of my greatest desires in the homeschooling of our children is to create a love for learning. So yea it's educational AND fun! hmph!

We saw a great dramatization of the greatest tomb discovery in history.
We saw the mummy of the Pharaoh, Ramses the Great. As the documentary pointed out, he is probably the only Biblical figure that we can know for certain what he looked like. There is also studies being conducted using DNA on the bones of the Ancient Egyptian mummies, that had not been done before. The hope is that this research might someday lead to advancement in the treatment and possible cure of diseases such as malaria. Wow!

Noah was impressed with the oversize screen and is now something of an expert on Mummies. I was impressed with God's work in my heart and am becoming an expert on Noah.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do other kids still think its a big deal?

I have memories as a child, going and spending hours upon hours in the library. From the time we were in early elementary years well into high school in that same building on Main Street in Horseheads.

Of course, by the time that I was in high school, the old card catalogs that lined the floor in front of the circulation desk were replaced by rows of computer terminals. But for the most part, the place stayed the same. I can't say for certain how old I was when I got my own library card, probably 6 or 7. I remember carrying that light blue paper card with pride.


I had almost forgotten about the rite-of-passage that is the getting of your own library card. And when I realized it was about that time for Noah, I wondered... do kids today even care?

Despite the immense amount of information available to our children through the internet, we still find value in the library. If I was honest, at first all my children hoped for out of the library was a new or different DVD that they hadn't seen before. But recently, we have found great joy in the collection of audio books in the juvenile literature section, and we are finding resources for whatever might be our latest homeschool theme.

I am also very impressed with the Washington County Intra-Library Services, making so many resources available. They even have multi-cultural passes to points of interest in the Portland area, free of charge, on a first come - first serve basis. Often we will use the website before we leave the house to identify what part of the library we need to go to and sometimes to reserve and hold items with out leaving the house!

So yes, Noah was thrilled at the prospect of having his own library card. It may have just been simply to have a REAL card that he can keep in his wallet, but it might be something more. Libraries are wonderfully magical places....

.... I hope my children are constantly in search of the treasure to be found!

What's happening

So if you haven't seen it already, I am keeping a log of some of our homeschool activities on a parallel blog - The Vertner School. The sidebar to the right will automatically show when an update is made.

I am also working on a recipe and cooking blog - Savory Suggestions that should be up shortly. This will also be listed on the sidebar to the right.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer's kids

My dear sweet friend Jennifer got to watch her two oldest children be baptized this last weekend. Here is the video. It is a beautiful thing, especially since they both made this decision on their own.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh, What a day?!

Last night, I expressed my enthusiasm about the inauguration of President Obama. The response from one was "well, we aren't very "Pro-Obama"." What a shame.

I did not vote for Barak Obama. I don't completely agree with his policies and politics. But I think some have forgotten that the election is over, the decision has been made. He is now our president and we can maintain objectivity and still support him. I firmly believe that unity does not require a full agreement on all things. Unity means that we are committed to stand together.

I have been moved to tears and joyous celebration at least a dozen times in the 3 hours since I woke. Here are just a few of the things that have affected me:

  • Democracy is a beautiful thing, even if I don't vote for the winner.
  • As a nation, we can make mistakes and learn from them.
  • I thank God that Americans can freely worship him, claim His name with out fear of persecution.
  • I can't even imagine what it would be like to live under the rule of a king, with an unlimited reign.
  • I love Copland's Simple Gifts and Itsak Pearlman and Yo Yo Ma and the piano and clarinet players... what an incredibly expressive piece.
  • As much as we do need to be vigilant about gaining ground with the sanctity of life issues, I do think that President Obama will accomplish great things for our nation and the world through his policy efforts.
  • When the Reverend Doctor Joesph E Lowery gave the benediction, a nation rose in a clamouring and unison AMEN (to which I sobbed).
  • We are a blessed nation.

So, what moved you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In honor of the good ole days

Thanks to Faceboook, I have recently had the opportunity to reconnect to some old co-workers from my days with Vector / Cutco. This is dedicated to them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What do I feel like today...

I really didn't feel like doing much today.

This morning started out about the same as any other day. But after breakfast, the kids scattered to various play places in the house and I saw an opportunity for some quiet time with the Lord. Well, by the third line my eyes started to cross and I got VERY sleepy. I'm sure it has nothing to do with staying up until almost one last night, just puttering around. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was napping on the couch and my children were watching a movie with out an ounce of family devotions, school or house work done.

So, today has taken a different turn. We have managed to take on a few creative activities and the time away from a strict school schedule has helped me to evaluate some things (which I might blog later). Yet, I'm still unsatisfied. I let myself down when I choose an "I don't feel like doing..." determine the course for the day. I also worry about my children. One of my greatest hopes to teach them is a strong discipline and self control which should imply a strong work ethic. I think I let them down today too. Not that they noticed today, but if this day becomes habit, they might feel it in 10 or 15 years and then regret it, swearing to do things differently when they have children of their own.

Dr Laura's blog confirmed this for me and encourages me to strengthen my own discipline and self control. Read the full post with video here. This is an excerpt:

... you know what I hear so often?
“I just don’t feel like it!”
“Should I have to have sex with my husband when I don’t feel like it?”
“Should I have to go to my wife’s parent’s house when I don’t feel like it?”
Man oh man, where do we get the idea that the only things you do are the things that just make you feel good? Running into a burning building, I don’t think, makes a fireman feel good. But he has a commitment to saving lives.

This email, from Tracie, speaks to this. She said she’s been a listener for 13 years. Thank you. She said, “I often come across things about which I think, ‘Dr. Laura would probably like this’.” Evidently she’s a huge Ralph Waldo Emerson geek and she came to this quote and sent it to me. Quote: “The force of character is cumulative. All the foregone days of virtue work their health into this.” “The first sentence, ‘The force of character is cumulative’,” she writes, “hit me like a brick. I’ve read this a hundred times and for some reason, on this evening, it resonated with me in some inexplicable way. My husband goes to work, day in and day out, even when he’s tired and worn down. My mother faithfully calls each member of our large, extended family on a regular basis to keep us all together. I cook our family’s meals, even when I’m tired, the baby’s crying, the three year old kid is whining…well that’s character. And with that is honor. I thought of you and how you tell us all, your listeners I mean, that very thing each day in a thousand different ways. Even when you, Dr. Laura, are tired or cranky or don’t feel much like speaking into a microphone for some reason. Character is born out of a dedication that eventually becomes habit. Reading that quote from Emerson reminded me that there are so many ways I don’t live up to that standard, but it is sure something to work toward. I’ve written it in bold, black ink and I’m putting it on my refrigerator to remind me that character is cumulative; it becomes a habit. Thank you for being a role model,” (thank you!), “and providing the support for those of striving to build our cumulative characters.”


Monday, January 12, 2009

Job Titles

I have been thinking about a few friends who are going through career type changes, either lay offs and the like, or for a couple, making a decision to leave a job. I shared this with one and thought I'd submit it to all, with the hopes to encourage.

I'm sorry to hear the job search is so rough. I have a friend who is looking to quit her job so that she can stay home with her kids, but is struggling with it too. I know it wouldn't seem that it really relates to your situation, but stick with me. I remember how I used to define who I was in equality to my value in a job that I'd get paid to do. "So tell me about yourself...." and I'd rattle off my resume. I realized after I wasn't in the work place anymore, that regardless of where life may have me, I needed to focus on who I am.... I am a follower of Christ, I am a daughter of the Great High King - by his choice, he adopted me, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a friend. I can be defined by the gifts and blessings he has put on me, which I may use in a job. A job title is one of those things that will pass and fade with different seasons in our lives. A lack of one (job) does not change who you are.

I hope today is a restful and peaceful day for you. I pray that God will set your mind, body, soul at ease and he will show you his purpose for you. Stand strong, find Joy in Christ.

Jer 29: 11-14
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself...

James 1:13-17
And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.

(The following is an abbreviated excerpt from Chapter 4 of Prayers God always Answers by Nancy Kennedy)

Some people say everyone has a soul mate somewhere out there. I happen to believe we can have several. After all, I do - all of them cookies...
...The other day I reached a breaking point. Actually it was the zipper on my jeans that reached the breaking point. I knew it was time. Despite our four-decade-long love affair, my beloved cookies has become the bane of my existence. It was time for us to part company and go our separate ways. Sadly, forlornly, I bid them adieu and turned to my bag of mini carrot sticks for solace. However, my heart still yearned for the silky decadence of a chocolate morsel surrounded by buttery crunchiness. A crumb, just a crumb. I flipped through the pages of a magazine, fantasizing over the full-color photos of holiday cookies and remembering only the day before when I had eaten my last one. I closed the magazine and prayed. "Lord lead me not into temptation. My spirit is willing, but this body of mine is so weak!" My craving subsided for all of three minutes; then it returned. I kept repeating, "It's not a sin to be tempted," as I opened the magazine again and started reading some recipes, waiting for God to give me strength, power and self control as he led me not into cookie's snare. "It's not a sin to be tempted, it's not a sin to be tempted".... ...Then came the big test - the Cookie Exchange. I'd been invited to my friend's cookie party and had looked forward to it for weeks. However, things had changed. Wisdom told me if I didn't go, I could avoid the temptation to eat every cookie in sight, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made that I should go. That it was good for me to go, to look temptation square in the eye and say, "Ha! Gimme your best shot- I'm ready for ya!" Yes, I'd pray for God to "Lead me not," but I was confident that he would not let me be tempted beyond what I could bear, and that he would provide a way to escape so I could stand up under it. ... ...When everyone had divided the cookies and I had filled the tin I brought (for my family, of course), I said good night and got into my car to return home, duly impressed with myself. I opened the tin of cookies and popped one into my mouth as a congratulatory token. That's when the Voice inside my head spoke once again. What are you doing, Child?

Mmmif? Mmmif doeffn't count - I'm in ffuh car." Suddenly the food in my mouth didn't taste as good as it had a minute ago. I swallowed what seemed like a rock. "But eating cookies isn't a sin!" I cried.

Whether you eat or don't eat cookies isn't the issue. Your flagrant flirting with the very thing you asked me to help you avoid is what concerns me. Don't you know by now when you flirt with temptation, you flirt with death?
"Death by Cookies?"

Death by sin, Child. The cookies aren't important, but your soul is.

Hebrews 4:14-16
That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

I can see myself in this place, with cookies, gossip, anger, selfishness. God would not want us to step to the line of sin, flirting with the thing that will cause us harm, even if we never cross that line. Yet I find myself, much like my children do, testing those boundaries. Some how thinking that I, in my own strength, am strong enough. I found the story of the cookie trial to be a great reminder that I shouldn't even get close enough to flirt with the sin.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This morning, I took my Dad to the airport.

He had been here since Christmas Day.

I am so thankful for my father and I am grateful that he will come and spend his vacation with us. This is his vacation and not much is required of him, other than occasionally playing bartender when a round of his famous Whiskey Sours are requested. But I have to acknowledge that even a pure observer in our busy home will experience a sense of exhaustion.

Now, I wouldn't want you to think that while here he was purely an armchair observer. This is quite contrary to the nature of Alan Dedrick. A small and incomplete synopsis of his vacation:

  • He made buttermilk pancakes twice!
  • He replaced my kitchen faucet, which turned into an all day project, eventually requiring a hacksaw.
  • He is working with Noah to identify the 50 states.
  • We played Scrabble no less than 20 times.
  • He assisted and advised me on the preparation and cooking of a 20 lb turkey and prime rib.
  • He accompanied us to OMSI (the Oregon Science and Industry Museum)
  • He helped to sort through and organize the 3 weeks of garbage a recycling taking over my garage after missing normal garbage pick up because of the snow storms.
  • He hugged on his grandkids and gave horsey rides on his knee.
  • He treated us to Zoo Lights with our new Oregon Zoo membership
  • He babysit so that we could enjoy a dinner out, and found out what it means when we say "Maggy just isn't a good sleeper" :-(
  • He fixed the mailbox that I knocked into the road with the front bumper of the van last summer.
  • He shared and offered insight.
  • He read 3 books.
Each year, Dad makes his plans to come visit for those few weeks after Christmas. Each year,I enjoy the time with him more. I am so blessed to have such an incredible man in my life, loving and caring, speaking encouragement and wisdom. Thank you Dad, I love you!

Friday, January 2, 2009

3 years ago today...

My sweet little Zakeaus joined this world.

A joyful and sometimes serious child.

He brings laughter and fun to our home.

He has a vivid imagination for one his age.

He loves Legos, Star Wars, Cars, Power Rangers and playing "family house" with the siblings.

I will always love the Bible story of his namesake....

Luke 19: 6-10 Zaccheaus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the crowds were displeased. "He has gone to be a guest to the notorious sinner," they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!" Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today for this man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham. And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost."
My prayer for our son is that Jesus will always find a home with Zakeaus, and that his life will become an example of God's eternal love and grace for all of us. I also pray that God's heart in Zak will be generous to those in need.

Happy Birthday, my baby boy!