Friday, February 28, 2014

All in a Day's Work

John and Joy had to take a road trip today.   And it will take all day.  Everyone knows that road trips with toddlers are to be avoided – unless heading to Grandma’s house!

So Poppa and Noni offered to fill-in at home.  Spencer - three.  Abby - eighteen months.  Noah - four months.  Just one, eighteen-hour day!  What’s the big deal?

Then we realized that our kitchen renovation would be complete enough that we could potentially host the church leadership meeting at our house.  A golden opportunity if  Frank could shape up a few final things.  Just one, eighteen-hour day!  What’s the big deal? 

Of course, Joy immediately offered to stay home.  But I reminded her that I once worked as a stay-at-home mom.  And I happened to be caregiver to the mothers of the three children I’d be in charge of today.  What’s the big deal?

What’s the big deal?  The big deal is that I had forgotten a few things.  For example:
  • ·      Toddlers have routines.  And when that routine is altered – even slightly – it can throw everything into chaos.
  •     You never go to the bathroom alone when toddlers are around.
  • ·      They get very frustrated when you don’t understand that “Minau!”  “Minau!” means, “I want to wear the Minnie Mouse slippers that Aunt Meagan gave me for Christmas.  And no, tennis shoes will NOT do just as well.”
  • ·      Strollers that reportedly open with one hand do NOT open with one hand if you don’t know about the small latch release on the side.
  • ·      The blue cup is NOT the same as the yellow cup.  Although they are made identically.
  • ·      Diapers don’t change themselves. 
  • ·      Even the cutest babies create casualty diapers.
  • ·      Baby boys want to be fed quickly.  And don’t dare offer a taste of the fruit before all the carrots are finished or the carrots won’t be finished.
  • ·      Drums are loud.  Baby dolls can fly.  Infants roll quickly.  Fingers tend to stick in crevices.  Real tears make Noni want to cry.

Yeah, I’d forgotten several things about working full-time as a stay at home mom.

Fortunately, the entire family put their heads together and I’m only on duty until four today.  Five of us will rotate off during this eighteen-hour shift in an attempt to do what Joy does all day, all alone, five days a week.

When I get home, I’ll probably collapse across my king size bed and sleep for a while.   At the very least, I’m going to expect a back rub from Frank.  Even though he’s spent all day mowing and hedging and cleaning the yard and moving lawn furniture.

But before I close out. let me mention a few other things I’d forgotten:
  • ·      Unsolicited morning cuddles are the best.
  • ·      Sleepy eyes beg to be kissed.
  • ·      Milk on the chin beneath a  big toothless grin really is poetic.
  • ·      “Noni, watch me!”  Makes you feel like the most important person in the world.
  • ·      Fat, baby hands have dimples.
  • ·      A milky-smelling kiss followed by, “I Yove Lou, Noni!”  Is better than a $1000.00 gift card to your favorite shoe store!
I’m glad I got this opportunity to remember all those wonderful days as a stay-at- home mom.  But I’m also glad I worked that job in my twenties and thirties instead of my fifties! 

Trying it fulltime now would be a very BIG Deal, indeed!

Friday, February 21, 2014


We're almost there!

Almost - but not quite.........

As of the writing of this post, I've spent the past week (yes, that would be seven days) opening my refrigerator door in the living room.

Why?!  Because that's where it's been sitting.  Along with my range and the dining room table which seats ten.  In. The. Living. Room.  (The dishwasher came to rest on the former porch, a.k.a. - new dining room.)

Why?!  Because that's what you do when you're renovating.
  • You just arrange appliances so you can still sit on the couch and view the Olympics at night.  
  • You eat out every meal except breakfast.  
  • You keep washing one cup, one cereal bowl and spoon per household resident each day.  
  • And you focus on how lovely everything will be once the project is complete.
We ran into one massive hiccup last Saturday.

Apparently, whoever laid the original tile in my kitchen discovered that the floor was uneven.  Instead of repairing it properly, they chose to use some adhesive compound to level said floor.  They obviously thought no one would ever know.

Well, WE KNOW!  And Buddy, if we could only find that guy........

Four wonderful men spent eight hours on their knees trying to extricate the old tiles from their heavily adhered resting place.  Steve has worked with tile for over twenty-five years.  He said he's never seen anything like it.

Great!  We finally take first place in something and it's a nightmare event.

Those men hammered and chiseled and ground and hammered some more.  They created so much dust that it looked like a re-enactment of the mid-western dust storms from the 1930's.

In spite of the plastic sheeting meticulously taped to cover cabinets and to protect the living room - the dust escaped.  It seeped into every possible nook and cranny.  It settled over every item in every square inch of my former kitchen and current living room.  Dishes, glasses, pots, pans, food items, cleaning supplies.........  Each item will have to be washed, wiped down or simply tossed.

We have our very own version of Pompeii - and it ain't pretty!

But finally the tile removal has been completed!  (Don't mess with the men of Garden Grove Church.  They are tenacious!)  The floor has been leveled - PROPERLY!  The new tile has arrived.  The appliances are out of the way.  We're ready to Go for the Gold!

Last night, we used markers to write scriptures on the newly leveled concrete.  (A tradition we gleaned from mentors Dave and Judy Kyllonen.)  Each family member selected a meaningful passage.  Yes, they'll all be covered when the new tile goes down.  So we recorded the references in a book.

My scripture?

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1  

I wrote it under the new bay window where I hope to enjoy sunrises and devotions for many years to come.  Almost there............

Friday, February 14, 2014


The dream is just outside my kitchen wall.  And suddenly, I'm scared spit-less!

Weeks ago we launched a project I've dreamed of for a couple of years.  My eat-in kitchen has continued to shrink as my family has continued to grow.  Getting all twelve of us around the table for family dinner has become reminiscent of the days we spent living in an RV.

"Okay, you move slightly to the right so I can step around behind you and squeeze the high chair to the left of his elbow."

One morning while sipping coffee on my patio, I realized that if we could just put walls in and take out the sliding glass door, I'd have a terrific dining room.  Simple little project, right?


I talked about my dream dining room for many months. I shared my vision with every visitor standing in our small kitchen.  I talked about it so much that finally my family got tired of hearing it.

Dad stepped in with a financial jump start.  Frank recruited our builder friends Ed, Raymond and Steve to get it rolling.  Both son-in-laws committed to lending youthful muscle when needed. Our church family even contributed a Christmas offering to help.

Still, everyone helping has been extremely busy.  The work has gone slowly.  Some concrete this week.  Windows installed next week.  Waiting for the arrival of back ordered materials.  One small change at a time right outside my sliding glass door.  Creeping forward; creeping forward.

Until yesterday.........

I arrived home to discover that not only were they adding stucco to the outside walls, the inside drywall was completed and the mud was going on that moment.  I wasn't quite ready for the biggest change.

The sliding glass door was no where to be seen!  The kitchen was finally, completely, irrevocably open to the dream room.

My jaw dropped!  My hands patted involuntarily with delight!  My ears detected a squeal of joy escaping from my lips!

All evening I moved around the kitchen with a big, silly grin.  Of course, it's still in process.  Plastic sheeting covers my dining room furniture as well as the side cart.  The new room has a bare floor and naked walls.  But it's now part of the house.   No longer part of outside.  How exciting!

But my feelings while making coffee the next morning, caught me completely off guard.

The new space makes every noise in the kitchen echo - loudly.  And my once cozy kitchen has just doubled in size.  That's twice the floor space that will now need mopping.  That's more air conditioning to pay for in August. What have we done??!!

Is it too late to go back to the thought of putting in a french door between the two rooms?

As I stood hiding behind my steaming coffee cup, starring into the massive cavern that will become our long awaited dining room, understanding dawned.............

Sometimes, the realization of our dreams is frightening.

That moment standing just on the precipice that separates what was - from what will be.  It's a scarey spot! And I wondered how many of us allow our dreams to die on that precipice.

This dining room is the very thing I've wanted for years!  And now, just at the moment we're ready to "move in" to the dream fulfillment, I feel fear. Genuine anxiety.  Uncertainty.

Ah, the human condition.

That's why we need the courage provided by the ultimate Dream Giver!

Otherwise, the fear that naturally accompanies plunging headlong into dream fulfillment can paralyze and even extinguish our dreams.  It takes courage to make the leap from now to next.  It takes vision to look beyond the uncertainty of what is to the assurance of what will be.

May I challenge you this Valentine's Day? Don't allow fear of the UNKNOWN cause your dreams to be UNREALIZED!

Take a step back.  Get a deep breath.  Rehearse the vision.  And fling yourself forward.

Who knows what wonders await?!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Affordable Generosity

"We can afford to be generous!"

It's one of the phrases you'll hear occasionally around our home.  I got offended and had the opportunity to rehearse it for myself just this week.

Yes, someone hurt my feelings - in a rather BIG way.  I left their company shackled to an iron ball of offense that weighed at least fifty pounds.

I'd made an appointment to meet with a lady about a business matter that needed attention.  Her office is in her home so we planned for me to arrive there at  2:00 the following afternoon.

I rang her doorbell at 2:01 while congratulating myself on my punctuality!  (Have you heard the phrase......."Pride goes before a fall" ?)

No response.

I waited.  Then rang the doorbell again.


Just as I prepared to knock loudly, a man yanked open the door.

He felt no need to make eye contact nor pick up the mail littering their grand entry.  He didn't introduce himself nor did he bother to ask my name.  He offered no chair, no apologies, no instruction.  He simply turned on his heel and threw this information over his shoulder, "My wife'll be right here."

I carefully stepped into the foyer, simultaneously closing the massive door behind me and picking my way over the mail strewn in my path.  Silence stood with me on the magnificent tile floor.

It became apparent that choosing a place to wait was completely up to me.  So I slipped over to the dining room chair closest to the door and sat down. 

After some time, the business woman finally came swirling into the foyer.  I stood to greet her.  We shook hands; exchanged introductions and she walked away - toward her office.  I was left to suppose that she intended for me to follow her.

Short Aside:  If you are at all familiar with Southern Culture, you are already appalled!  No one comes into the home of a true Southerner without being warmly greeted; offered refreshment; encouraged to take the most comfortable seat; immediately engaged in conversation even if said conversation is of no particular benefit.   For us, it's all about making the guest feel "at home."   

Now back to the story.

T.B.W.  (The Business Woman) never stopped talking - about herself and her business success.  She strode toward her desk, took her chair, pushed back her hair, stared up at me and sighed, "Now what do you need?"

I was left to stand on the opposite side of her desk feeling like a child who'd been summoned to the principal's office for disciplinary action.  Because that was something I never actually experienced in school, I stood there dumbstruck.

But suddenly, I came to my senses.  "Wait a minute!  I'm a potential customer.  I'm doing YOU the favor here.  And besides, even if you're rude and don't want to acknowledge the Southern Hospitality Code, I'm NOT rude.  I DO know the Code.  I'm fifty-five years old, for pity's sake and I deserve a little bit of respect here!"

So in the most polite sounding voice I could muster through my irritation I said, "May I take a seat?"

T.B.W. expressed a slight irritation at being asked and said, "Well, sure." Then waved toward another chair.

Needless to say, our conversation was terse!  And lasted only as long as was completely necessary!  She spoke in condescending verbiage and used body language designed to intimidate.  Because I deal with people every day of my life, I knew exactly what she was doing and her behavior only fueled my irritation.

In my not-so-humble opinion, there is never a reason to intentionally make someone feel badly!  Life is tough enough.  We should do everything in our power to encourage and cheer for one another!

I got out of there just as quickly as possible.  And it brought me no great joy to know that I would need to encounter T.B.W. at least once more to conclude this little matter.

Anger doesn't overcome me very often but it's safe to say I Was Fuming as I drove away!

Frank got home too late to be regaled with my story of suffering and injustice.   So I had to wait until the next day to share with a trusted friend.  And by that time, the offense had grown to epic proportions!

My friend listened attentively.  She offered commiseration born of having encountered T.B.W. on several previous occasions.  We soundly condemned T.B.W. for her total disregard of the Southern Hospitality Code.  We shook our heads in utter disbelief!  We clucked our tongues, sighed deeply and crossed our arms in finality.  Obviously, there was little to no hope for T.B.W.  Such a shame.

But you know what?  I didn't feel one bit better about the matter after unloading on my friend.  In fact, I felt somewhat worse.

Back in my office trying to get some work done, I finally had to stop and sit quietly for a few minutes.  The Heavenly Father had a little something to say about my sad situation and I needed to listen.

First off, I know full well that most people who intentionally try to intimidate others do so because of their personal insecurities.  T.B.W. didn't see herself as superior to me, she has built a polished shield of intimidation to use as a cover for her own struggle.

The Father reminded me that the rudeness of her husband was (most likely) habitual.  And that I probably got a small taste of how he regards T.B.W. on a daily basis.

Finally, I thought back to the grandeur of her residence.  Every element spoke of being designed to impress.  But there was no warmth.  There were no pictures of family.  Nothing to indicate a welcoming, joyful atmosphere at all.

And then came the gentle reminder, "Sheri, you can afford to be generous!"

My husband is thoughtful.  My children and grandchildren pile into my home routinely, giving our residence both the appearance and feeling of warmth.  While I'm covered up with imperfections, I don't have enough time to dwell on them and give them power over me.  And my dealings with people are usually so encouraging and satisfying that I don't even see my work as a job at all.  It's a calling.  A privilege.

"Yes, Father.  I can afford to be generous!"  As I admitted that aloud, I also heard (in my heart) an unlocking sound.  The ball and chain of offense dropped from my ankle.  Suddenly, I started feeling much better.

The Father has been so very generous with us: salvation, forgiveness, patience, long-suffering.  We can certainly afford to be generous with those around us!

Perhaps you'll want to invest in some "Affordable Generosity" today.  If you listen carefully, I'll bet you hear that same unlocking sound as offense falls off!  It's a glorious feeling.  Take it from someone who knows!