We just experienced our family’s first wedding, which was splendid – and surreal! I never quite imagined myself in the role of “mother of the groom”. It was always someone else dressing up and being walked down the aisle to sit in that seat. But this time it was my husband and I playing in the drama, hearing our son and his bride sing a duet and take their vows, and viewing the mystery of God molding a new family entity.
Although getting everyone packed off on a plane across the country was an intense task, I think it caused us to give our undivided attention to the event, live in-the-moment and purposefully mingle with new friends and family members. Brothers and sisters in Jesus inspired us with their generous hospitality. They let us invade their homes, eat their food and drive their company van for the weekend. Love was seen everywhere, and not just at the altar.
We are still chewing on the reality that it’s over, and giving glory to God for His inscrutable, glorious, ongoing plan!
Maybe you are wondering how we are rolling with our Newbery Book Reading Challenge. We are going strong! We all read Holes,and now can’t stop repeating phrases and referring to it in everyday life. I also enjoyed The View from Saturday, The Midwife’s Apprentice, A Single Shard and Adam of the Road. (I seem to have a thing for literature in a medieval setting. I could read the Crispin series over and over again, too.) Other recent family favorites on the Newbery list include: When You Reach Me, Miracles on Maple Hill, Riflesfor Watie,and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. (My daughter gave me an enthusiastic summary of that last one as we drove into town, and I felt like I had just watched the movie! She loved it.)
Some Favorite Children’s Books
I have been negligent about blog writing and also for the Storyworth stories I am supposed to be creating. This week’s Storyworth question was: “What is one of your favorite children’s books?” Alas, I cannot choose just one, so here’s a full list of them. I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Be sure to comment with your favorites, too!
Pickle Chiffon Pie
by Jolly Roger Bradfield. It’s the story of three very different princes seeking to win the favor of the king and the hand of the princess. They go off into the forest to see who can bring back the most wonderful thing and marry the princess. The book made pickle chiffon pie look like the most delicious thing in the world. My sister Sara gave me a copy of the book when I was forty-something!
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
by William Steig. I discovered this when I was taking a Children’s Literature class in college. I loved the author’s humor, the delightful illustrations and the engaging story.
The Sheep of the Lal Bagh
by David Mark / illustrated by Lionel Kalish. Sara gave me a copy of this one too – and I had almost forgotten about this dear book! I think the original was given to me by my childhood friend, Beth McCarty. This story, based in India, is about a beloved sheep that used to mow the grass in beautiful patterns, until the town decided to get a new lawn mower.
The Beatrix Potter Treasury
I never especially liked Beatrix Potter books when I was young. Fast forward to the year after we got married, had no children of our own yet, and we were housesitting & babysitting the children of some friends. One of the little boys had just received the Beatrix Potter Treasury and wanted it read to him over and over. So, I did – and I found myself enamored with the perfect illustrations, quirky animal personalities and superbly funny stories.
Retold by Marcia Brown. This timeless tale is about three hungry soldiers who approach a town and are turned away at every door. They teach the stingy townspeople how to make stone soup, so they will never be hungry again, and they leave as heroes.
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Retold by Arlene Mosel. I can still remember: “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.” It’s the made-up legend of why Chinese people have short names.
Caps for Sale
By Esphyr Slobodkina. A true classic that’s as memorable as the monkeys are mischievous.
The Story of Ferdinand
By Munro Leaf. All mild-mannered Ferdinand wanted to do was sit in the shade of the trees and smell the flowers, but a bee sting changed his life.
The Five Chinese Brothers
By Claire Bishop. This is kind of a horrific story for children, involving death, torture, and suffocation, but it does have a happy ending after all. Clever and suspenseful.
Curious George Takes a Job
By H.A. Rey. I especially like the part where George paints the lady’s room to look like a jungle.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
By Sally Lloyd-Jones. We discovered this a few years ago in audio and print versions. It includes excerpts of Bible accounts, revised for children. Keep a box of tissues handy while reading; these stories of faith are poignant and beautifully told.
My first baby’s birth did not go as planned. In fact, it went as opposite as we ever could have imagined.
We had planned for a full-term, natural birth with a midwife attending. We hoped it would be the first of a number of children that God would give us.
Instead, I landed an emergency classical c-section attended by a gaggle of doctors, and gave birth to a 2-pound preterm baby who was struggling to breathe. Just before the birth, someone came in to prepare me for the fact that he could be blind and have many other health issues.
After the c-section several doctors sternly told me:
“You can never have a natural birth. Your scar would most likely rupture, endangering your life and the baby’s.”
“And by the way…you should only have three c-sections at most. Any more could compromise your health and endanger the baby’s life.”
Tears. Dead dreams. Fears and sorrows.
A cleaning lady entered my hospital room while I was recovering from the c-section and subsequent infection. She stopped sweeping, looked at me and said:
“I would never let them cut me open.”
More tears, coupled with doses of indignation plus hormones.
The doctors sent me home with a thick pack of official papers that described my scar and the classical c-section. These papers earnestly affirmed that I could never-ever-no-never have anything but a c-section. Home birth was definitely out of the question.
After three months of daily visits to the hospital, my preemie baby boy finally arrived home. While enjoying my new baby, I still was preoccupied with my perceived “damaged and scarred” state. I remember actually looking at and envying other pregnant moms while thinking, “SHE will probably have a natural birth, but I never will.” Then, a good friend suddenly encouraged me with the fact that:
“Scar tissue is actually stronger than the original tissue.”
Was that true? I wondered if other moms had safe, natural births after a c-section. I started reading and researching about the heresy possibility that the doctors might have been wrong?
Digging for Answers
There was no internet available to me in 1992, so I just went to the library and looked up birth stories. I also talked and wrote to people that had healthy VBACs. I found a lot of evidence that it would be possible for me to have a natural birth after all. But a doctor wouldn’t be able to help; it would have to be a home birth and it would have to be a midwife willing to take me on, BIG UGLY SCAR and all.
In February of 1993, I became pregnant and after calling a long list of midwives, I finally found midwives Jan and Jeanne. They didn’t seem to mind about my scar, my history and all the doctor warnings. So I threw away all of those official papers and knew I had only one more thing to acquire before I was ready.
One Missing Thing
I had godly cheerleader-type friends in my life who encouraged me. They reminded me that God can take care of me and my baby whether I am at home or at the hospital. My husband (who has limited respect for doctors) told me I’d be way better off having a home birth, with no doctors interfering with the natural birth process, trying to give me things I don’t need! :0
I assembled my home birth supplies and the only other thing I needed for my first home birth was… FAITH. I needed to trust my loving, sovereign, omnipotent, Heavenly Father. The passage I found most encouraging was this, which became my life verses:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Rest of the Story
God’s will for each of us is played out differently, but this is my story. It’s the story of a scar, dead dreams, and a harvest of faith bigger than I could have imagined. I don’t give myself credit for the faith, though. Any faith I have comes from Him, because even faith is a gift.
After that first home birth, I had nine more home births. Most of these involved an attending midwife or two, and none involved pain meds (but if they were available I probably would have said yes!) The last home birth brought complications, but God was sovereign in that one too, and it had nothing to do with the scar as predicted.
Speaking of scars, if you too have a scar (physical or emotional or both), please consider my story. Our loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God can make a “scar story” build our faith and even work out better than the original plan. He can take dead dreams and breathe life into them.
Last summer, my adult daughter read Gone With the Wind. One thousand pages / 50 listening hours later, she wanted to see Georgia for herself. She settled on Savannah and asked me if I wanted to go.
No Minnesotan would decline a December trip into the sunshine, and I love traveling with my people.
Here are five trip highlights:
Oh, the well-preserved, colorful Savannah homes! The history-rich stone mansions and ancient cemeteries! The beautifully gnarled oaks, dripping with decorative Spanish moss! Walking around in 70 degree weather in December is a treat for any northern person. The natural and urban beauty was a bonus.
Eating Out & Shopping
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop with its unique and compassionate business model was a highlight and a truly special place. Besides the coffee, we bought souvenirs.
We knew we wanted to visit the 100+ year old Savannah favorite: Leopold’s Ice Cream. After standing in a long line, I chose their famous tutti-frutti, made with Georgia pecans, and topped it with hot fudge.
My favorite shop was Folklorico, a fair-trade boutique stuffed with lovely things.
A Farmer’s Market in December?
Up north, farmers markets start hibernating in October, but the Forsyth Park Farmers Market is active all year long. It was fun to stroll along and see what people in Savannah are buying outdoors in December, like mushrooms, honey, bread, soap and more.
Someone said that the best way to see Savannah is to walk square by square. It’s an ideal way to explore the historical part of the city. Each square has a size, personality, and landmarks all its own. Seeing the statues of confederate war heroes reminded us with every step that we were definitely in southern territory!
Dodging waves in bare feet while it was snowing back in Minnesota was tremendously satisfying. The drive from inner Savannah out to Tybee Beach took us through low-lying watery flats, peppered by one-lane bridges. I’m not used to driving in unknown places – my husband typically takes that task when we travel. But heading out to Tybee, there I was: the grownup with the rental car, soaring out into the sunshine with my daughter when we could have just been home baking Christmas cookies. Woohoo!
“There are vaster and wealthier cities, but for architectural simplicity, for an indescribable charm about its streets and buildings, its parks and squares, there is but one Savannah. Without a rival, without an equal, it stands unique.”
I like walking along the beautiful Lake Minnetonka, but the shoreline homes are so dazzling and covet-worthy that I find my mind wandering…”what would it be like to live here?”
Sigh…we could never afford a place like 35018 Sleepy Hollow Road — a storybook cottage nestled along a peaceful, lapping lakeshore. But the people who live here are not necessarily happy, I console myself. And, they probably feel the pressure to keep up with rich neighbors. And they must endure walkers like myself, who gawk and stare while moving along the rail trail.
One last random thought enters my head: this place doesn’t even have a clothesline.
After looking up the home price (sold for 3 million in 2018) I thought I’d write one of those real estate descriptions for OUR home — you know — the kind of copy that makes even a major weakness sound like an intriguing possibility?
Roomy Home on the Prairie
Relax in country paradise in this multi-level rambler on the prairie. A quiet hideaway on seven acres, this spacious property offers nearby access to biking trails, parks, schools and shopping. (Relatively new) updates include hardwood floors and windows. Additional updates pending. Indefinitely.
Large, finished basement offers a “lived-in” look, plus plenty of light from generous windows.
Enjoy the master bedroom + bath and a large top floor bedroom that serves as a spacious office — both with original oak flooring. This home features three bedrooms on the lower level plus three full bathrooms and a half bath.
Very vintage floor-to-ceiling living room windows allow a broad view of the backyard garden, tall trees and natural prairie wildflowers that attract wildlife, bees and birds. Enjoy a private walk around the property or a cozy bonfire near the mature apple tree orchard. Toss a football around or play a game of ultimate frisbee on the lovingly tended ball field.
Harness natural wind power to dry your clothes in country fresh air on the updated clothesline (Make sure the manure spreader isn’t working on the adjoining land first.)
This property is convenient to local towns and services, but is nestled in its own private country space.
Finally, it’s not for sale, because WE live in this roomy, happy home on the prairie — and it’s better than a million-dollar lake home.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:16-18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Being over 50, my ears have heard many words. Some words I wish I could recall. Some words I would like to forget. But there are three things people once said to me that I believe I will remember forever.
1. “You will always have beauty in your life.”
I took biology my sophomore year at Edina High School. Mr. Ehlert was my teacher: a quirky older man who sported bow ties, tweed jackets, and a grizzled beard. He would lecture every day, and our task was to take attentive notes in our all-important notebooks. Our grade depended heavily on these notebooks, which we offered for grading every few weeks.
It was — and is still — my habit to doodle in notebooks, so mine was filled alternately with words, pictures and word-pictures. I might have written out the process of metamorphosis in words, with arrows, or doodled a whimsical caterpillar~butterfly combo as my pencil flew across the pages.
We handed in our notebooks one Friday and got them back the next week. In my notebook, he made comments and asked occasional questions. He did not scowl at my doodling — instead, he approvingly referred to my artsy note- taking when he wrote:
“You will always have beauty in your life.”
I have never forgotten that little comment — the memory of it has grown over the years and made me feel richer.
2. “You smell like Jesus, Lisa.”
I remember the day I walked to my p.o. box at college, opened it and found a simple note, that began with a Bible passage:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
You smell like Jesus, Lisa!
I looked around the mailroom. Who had sent me this encouraging, anonymous message? Who thinks I *smell* like Jesus?!
Looking back, this period of my life was sometimes more selfish and stinky than spiritually fragrant! Although the message could have been the result of someone’s Bible class assignment, or sent in bulk to several people, my spirit soared and I have pondered over and cherished this verse ever since. It’s also good to remember that if we ever eke out a Jesus fragrance, it is only because we have His power to do it. The rest of the verse says: “And who is adequate for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:16.
3. “You never complain!”
Betsy was a beautiful southern lady, twenty years my senior. She hosted a small group at her home, simply to build God-focused encouragement into the lives of women.
I remember the time she looked me in the eye and told me:
“Ly-suh…I never hear you complain! You never complain, do you?”
Betsy didn’t live with me, and my husband certainly could have told her the real truth, but as I reflect on her words, I realize that the moment she said that, she pronounced upon me something to live up to; something like a prophecy:
I am someone who doesn’t complain. I will be someone who doesn’t complain.
Her words have diffused power over the years, and have caused me to hold my tongue or think of my blessings instead of my lack. I only hope that I will be a “Betsy” to others who need one throughout their journey.
The value of looking back at these three comments is to cause me to be inspired to do the same for others. Our words are powerful. These three people probably had no idea of the impact of their short messages. They didn’t preach a sermon at me, or lecture, or use fancy words; but the effort they took to speak something kind ended up being as valuable to me as gold.
any more than The Christian Life is all about YOU.
Marriage is one big school to make you more like Jesus.
Someday, you will look back and see
the big picture
and the footprints of God
who effortlessly carried you through every joy and trial.
Keep that fresh, dewy, idealistic smile on your face.
You got this.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – from 1 Corinthians 13