Ten Blue Eyes

life as we see it


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Counting My Blessings

DSC_0452My husband and I have a little tradition we keep each Christmas season. We make popcorn and snuggle up to watch the movie, White Christmas, together. Real men watch Bing Crosby dance… in case you didn’t know.

Each year I get teary-eyed as the snow falls at the end of the movie and as Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney’s characters realize they’ve fallen in love.

My love and I get certain song lyrics stuck in our heads for days after we’ve watched the movie. And actually, there’s one song I try to recall often throughout the year.

There is a scene where Bing and Rosemary’s characters can’t sleep. They too snuggle up with a snack and then they sing a beautiful song with the following lyrics,

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep
Counting your blessings (Irving Berlin, 1954, White Christmas)  

I like those lyrics.

I admit that I don’t often live by them (or fall asleep by them!) Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself lying awake worrying about various things. Sometimes my concerns are valid and other times I’ve created imaginary scenarios that will never come to pass, but I spend time worrying about them anyway.

My worries or complaints don’t just occur as I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes I find myself complaining out loud during the day or fretting as my schedule becomes full.

 And that’s when I start counting.

I don’t count to three to try to regain my composure or to get one of my children to obey.

I don’t count how many items I have remaining on my to-do list.

I don’t count how many times I’ve lost my cool that day (or hour!)

 I count my blessings.

It’s a game changer, folks.

I’ve discovered that it’s hard to complain when you’re making a mental list of how many things have gone right for you on any given Tuesday afternoon. And even on terrible days, there’s always something that has been good.

I’ve found that it’s difficult to worry about the future when you’re looking around and naming all of the gifts you’ve been given in the present.

And I know that it’s hard to fret and bite your nails when you’re sinking your teeth into the blessings you’ve been fortunate enough to reap.

I have to admit that I don’t sound nearly as good as Bing Crosby or Rosemary Clooney when I sing this song in my head. But the attitude change that comes from putting these lyrics into practice sure does bring some beautiful harmony!

 

 


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A Glutton For Grace

I drew in a deep breath and then let it out quickly. I pushed my lips firmly together and shut my eyes while I clenched my fists.

Why was I so angry?

It was a pile of toys, for crying out loud. And it was in the basement where the kids are supposed to play with toys.

But I couldn’t let it go. Even though I wanted to, I just felt compelled to make them clean it up before we walked out the door.

They know better. They’ve been warned.

So I called up the steps for the three of them.

“Guys, get down here and clean up this stuff! We’ve got to go and we’re not leaving until it’s picked up!”

My two girls slowly made their way down the steps as if in a depressed stupor. They robotically began to clean up the mess.

And I waited.

Where was their brother? I called up the steps again. I could hear him in the kitchen at the top of the stairs. Certainly he could hear me. Again, I shouted for him to come down, but he did not.

I’d had it.

In my firmest voice I yelled for him and my anger was easily implied in both my tone and my volume.

Karson came down the steps with a confused and hurt look on his face. “What, Mom? What do you want me to do?”

“Are you serious?! I’ve been calling you to come clean up this mess and you’ve been completely ignoring me. Now get to work!”

He lowered his eyebrows in confusion and then squatted down to help his sisters finish clearing the pile.

“Mom, I didn’t hear you. I didn’t know you were calling me.”

I huffed again and then headed up the stairs to get coats and shoes ready for us to head out the door.

As we drove down the road several minutes later the guilt hit me.

I had no reason to yell like I did, and I knew it.

Sure, I had excuses.

IMG_7377My husband had been out of town and I was worn out from taking care of the kids alone for a few days and keeping up with a full schedule. On top of that, I had had this “brilliant” idea to get the kids up that Saturday morning at 6:30 so that we could have an “adventure” and go to the grand opening of a local doughnut shop where the first 100 costumers got free doughnuts for a year. The kids had begged me the previous night to wake them up before dawn that morning so that we could go try to win. I thought it sounded kind of fun and like a great springboard to a special memory (and good doughnuts!) so I set my alarm and we all stood in the freezing cold for an hour and a half that morning.

And we were the 107th in line.

Good things come to those who wait, but these yummy treats and the warm coffee were a long time coming… and not free. But it was a fun morning. And boy were those doughnuts yummy.

Now, as I drove our minivan to my nephews’ basketball games it was only noon, but the kids and I had had our fill of doughnuts, and we were tired.

I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and found Karson in the rearview mirror. I swallowed my pride, as I so often have to do, and said, “Karson, I’m really sorry that I yelled at you in the basement. I thought you heard me ask you to come down and I assumed you were ignoring me. I’m really sorry, bud. Will you forgive me?”

“Yeah. That’s ok.” He said and quickly went back to the conversation he was having with his sister in the backseat.

I thought I’d learned my lesson for the day.

Later in the afternoon as I sat on the top bleacher watching our third basketball game of the afternoon, my sister-in-law climbed back up the bleacher steps and sat back down beside me. She’d gone out to the hall for a few minutes to check on our younger kids who weren’t playing basketball, or watching it for that matter, but were playing together in the hallway all afternoon.

Laura smiled as she sat down and said, “Do you know what happened out there?”

“What? Is everything okay?” I asked.

“Yes, it is now. Karly was upset with Karson about something in the game they were playing in the hallway and she got all worked up and started whining and swinging her arms at him as if she were going to hit him. I stopped and asked her if I needed to bring her to you. Before she could answer, Karson spoke for her. He said, ‘It’s okay, she’s just been up since 6:30.’

Laura laughed with me about how understanding Karson was as a big brother to recognize that his little sister was just tired and needed to be shown some grace.

Outwardly, I agreed with her. Karson was exactly right.

Inwardly, I cringed.

Why couldn’t I have responded to him a few hours earlier in the same graceful way he’d responded to his sister.

I turned my head to watch the basketball game once again but I let my thoughts simmer on Karson’s response for a few moments.

“It’s okay, she’s just been up since 6:30.”

And I realized that our early morning doughnut adventure proved to do more than just make me appear to be a glutton for great sweets.

That day has made me yearn to be a glutton for grace.


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Did You See That?

Here I am again trying another Five Minute Friday. This is where I link up at this site with other bloggers and we all write about the same topic for 5 minutes (or so…this one was closer to 10 minutes for me) and then we link up with each other for fun. We are all given the same one-word prompt and it’s interesting to see what direction we each take it as we write. I’ve enjoyed giving this a try for several Fridays. It’s a fun challenge! Anyway, here’s my latest FMF post. 

This week’s word: NOTICE 

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Did You See That? 

There are those who see the world through rose-colored glasses, and those who have to squint a little to see much of anything at all.

There are some who astutely observe the smallest of details in the colorful and bustling world around them.

And then there’s my husband.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore the man. He’s wise, handsome, kind, witty… but one thing he ain’t is observant.

When we were dating, Kraig couldn’t believe how observant my mom is. She has a keen eye for decorating, and ascetics in general, and Kraig was intrigued. He couldn’t quite understand how she decorated her home with such precision and he wanted to test her once and for all to see if she was truly as observant as he thought she was.

So one evening, Kraig placed a plastic travel coffee mug amongst all of the beautiful paraphernalia that was covering my mom’s decorated mantel. The mug was nicely hidden amongst the pretty decor with only a small part of it being visible. Kraig smiled smugly at me and said, “Let’s see how long it takes her to notice that!”

A few minutes later, Kraig and I watched from our seats on the couch as mom walked into the room, stopped suddenly in her tracks, and stared at the mantel. “What’s that doing there?” she said puzzled as she walked over and removed the plastic coffee mug.

Suspicion confirmed. She’s pretty darn observant.

Kraig, on the other hand, doesn’t notice things. We’ve been married for about 12 years and I still find myself in a state of shock when I make a major change in our home and he’s none the wiser. There are the small things, like changing some wall decor, that I don’t really expect him to see. But there are some other times when I’ll move furniture or change something rather drastically and he will just not see it. Well, he sees it, he just doesn’t SEE it.

I wonder if I painted the kitchen hot pink with zebra stripes if he’d sense a change?

Sometimes Kraig’s lack of observational skills bugs me. I mean, I do ALL this work to clean up our storage room or sort and organize three billion plastic toys into various containers and he barely remembers what it looked like before I started.

Come on, man. I want you to notice all I’ve done so you’ll appreciate me.

But, just this week I was encouraged that maybe he’s noticing things after all. I overheard Kraig telling one of our children how much he loves being home because our house is such a peaceful place to be.

So maybe he doesn’t notice all of the pieces, parts, elbow grease and art that go into making our house a home, but apparently the sum of all of those parts equals peace.

And I’ll raise my empty plastic travel mug to that!


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My Father’s Face

Well, it’s Friday again. This is my fourth week trying Five Minute Friday. This is where a group of bloggers (Anyone, really! Thanks, Internet!) can log on here and get a one-word prompt to write about for five minutes. After you write, you link up with the other people who have done the same. It’s a great way to get to know new writers and to see what goes on in other’s minds when we’re all prompted with the same word/topic. Plus, it’s just a good challenge (and kind of fun too!) :)

Today’s word was: TURN

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MY FATHER’S FACE

It was dark. Our camping trip was well underway and I was snuggled in my sleeping bag with heavy eyes. Granted we’d only gone as far as the backyard, but sleeping in a tent all night was a pretty big deal to my little Kindergarten self.

I tried to stop my brain from having so many thoughts… and I tried to stop my wiggles as well. But I just couldn’t. Sleep wasn’t happening on this hard ground where I could feel the coldness of the earth and hear strange and scary noises.

And then suddenly I knew what do to. I knew what would help me fall asleep at last.

And so I stretched out my little hand.

Beside me lay my father in his sleeping bag. I couldn’t see him but I knew he was there. What I wanted to know was if he was facing me.

Was his face turned toward me?

I felt in the darkness and found his face. I felt his warm nose and forehead and patted his cheeks.

“What are doing?” his whispered voice cut through the darkness.

“Daddy, I just wanted to make sure your face was looking at me. Now I feel safe and I can go to sleep.”

I smiled and slid my arms back into the warmth of my sleeping bag.

I’d found my peace.

My Daddy was looking at me in the darkness. Even if I couldn’t see him, I knew he was there.

Now I rarely lay in a sleeping bag, but sometimes I still have trouble finding sleep. The darkness, the noises, and the unknowns of this earth can keep me awake.

Though I try to calm my anxious thoughts and restless body, I often fail.

But I know what to do.

I reach out again to my Father. The Father who is always beside me and who can provide me with a peace that passes all understanding.

His voice cuts through the darkness.

And I rest assured that He will turn His face toward me.

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Number 6:24-26


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That’s Gonna Leave A Mark.

I’m giving Five Minute Friday a try again. I find it fun, challenging, and I just drank coffee too late in the evening so I’m wide awake and why not! :) Five Minute Friday is where a group of bloggers are given a one-word prompt and then they write about that topic for five minutes and then link up with others who have done the same. The prompt is given at 10pm on Thursday night here if you’d like to join us! And if you want to read what others have written about today’s word you can find them all linked here

Today’s word prompt is: LEAVE 

That’s Gonna Leave A Mark.

We sat in a circle this morning with Bibles open on laps and scribbled words on our papers. We’ve been studying the life of Moses and today we discussed that crazy day when Joshua was called to fight the Amalekites and Moses stood on top of a mountain all day holding his staff up in the air.

Weird.

We read about how when Moses lowered the staff, the Amalekites would begin to win, and when he raised the staff up, then his people, the Israelites, would be the victors. The staff was a visual represtentaion of God’s power.

We studied that as the day wore on, Moses’ arms grew weary (who can blame him!) and so he pulled up a rock, took a seat, and had his buddy, Hur, and his brother, Aaron, hold his arms up for him.

I don’t claim to understand how this all worked. Like I said, it’s kind of strange and not something I see every day. Or ever.

But I believe it.

And what’s more, I was struck in our study by the fact that God actually asks Moses to record what happened that day so that Joshua and the rest of the Israelites (and you and me too!) would know about this whole staff and tired arms thing. And even more important than that, so we’d all see how God led His people to victory in a powerful way, like only He could.

Basically, God wanted Moses to be sure to tell the story.

To not let the memory of that day fade with the setting sun.

Poor Moses didn’t have the great tools we have today to do such telling.

He couldn’t tweet:

@EgyptnoMoe Just helped my army win a big battle… but boy are my “armies” sore now!
#punintended #AaronandHuraremywingmen

He couldn’t blog:

Check on my new post “My Triceps are Killing Me but the Amalekites Aren’t” over at http://www.wanderingwildernessramblings.com

He couldn’t even update his status on Facebook:

Check out this group selfie of my bro Aaron, my buddy Hur and me. Long day helping Joshua win a battle. Can’t win ‘em all, but we sure won this one! ;) By the way, this staff sure is something!!

But technology, tools, convenience, or not, God asked Moses to record the events of the day and to pass it down to others.

God asked Moses to tell the story.

I see this theme in Scripture elsewhere. In Deuteronomy, God tells his people to impress God’s laws on their children. To talk about God and his law in their daily lives. To tell the stories of God’s work in their history. To pile a group of stones in a location where God did something and when their kids asked, “Hey Mom, what’s that pile of rocks for?” to tell them the story.

Because when we tell the story, we tell what God has done.

And that’s gonna leave a mark.

 

 

 


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A Different Dare.

Last week I tried Five Minute Friday for the first time and I enjoyed it! It was a good challenge for me and I had fun trying to be creative with the topic. Five Minute Friday is where a group of bloggers (anybody who wants to) write on a given topic (from a one word prompt!) for 5 minutes and then link up with others who have done the same. I thought I’d give it a try again this week. 

Today’s word: DARE

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A DIFFERENT DARE

 

We walked down the tiled and cold hallway of the mall.  My little daughter’s warm and soft hand was in mine.

Her feet shuffled quickly as she worked to keep up with my stride and her sweet little eyes moved from side to side as she took in our surroundings.

The lights. The mannequins in the windows dressed in strange clothes. The signs. The smells. The noise.

It was all communicating loudly to us without saying a word. It dared us to join in. “These are the things that society says are important.” it was clearly stating.

Wear the trendy clothes. Be relevant. 

Spritz yourself daily with a scent created by someone you admire.

Be thin. No, be skinny.

Fit in with right crowd.

Spend. Spend. Spend.

To thine own self be true.

But, little daughters of mine, I dare you to be different. And I’ve found that being different is even more difficult than trying to be the same as everyone else. 

I hold your hand today, but someday soon you’ll grow up and be gone. And so I want you to hear these things and hold them in your heart.

Wear dignity. Be full of grace. 

Spritz yourself daily with gratitude, for you have been created by the One who admires you.

Be you. Be healthy.

Help those who don’t seem to fit anywhere.

Give. Give. Give.

Be humble and think of others’ needs above your own.

For these are the things that are truly important.

I dare you to be different.

 


11 Comments

The Longest Temporary.

I’m trying something new today! A friend, who is an amazing writer and blogger at Poets And Saints, encouraged me to try Five Minute Friday where you write for 5 minutes about a topic that is given to you and then you link up with other bloggers who did the same. Each Friday there is a new word given as a theme. I thought I’d give it a try! 

Today’s word was: Long. Here’s what I came up with…

(By the way, I wrote for five minutes and then went back and added the pictures and exact Scripture reference. I tried not to edit much because you’re not supposed to overthink it! Okay, maybe I did fiddle with a few sentences, but the main post was done in 5 minutes. This was harder than I was expecting it to be!) 

Five Minute Friday: Long

The Longest Temporary

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It was like a punch in the gut. My head could not even comprehend it. Three years of chemotherapy? My toddler will be “on chemo” from the age of two to the age of five?

This can not be my life.

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It took us time to process what our future held… and what dreams we’d have to let go of.

I sat with swollen eyes and read the one thing that calmed my soul. The Bible.

2 Cor 4:16-18 says:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Light and momentary? Are you serious?!

Three years of watching my baby boy receive a toxic poison in his blood was not light. And it most certainly did not feel momentary.

But those words washed over me like a balm. They comforted me in a way I can not describe. And though we are now far on the other side of that three awful years, those word comfort me still.

What is seen is temporary.

Temporary is shorter than forever.

It doesn’t always feel that way when you’re looking forward–when the road ahead stretches longer than you can see.

But God’s perfect grace reaches down into the pain of this temporary world.

And though our suffering feels long, His mighty arm reaches longer still.

 

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