Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week, the eighth

Asking for "a picture of your most treasured item" is an impossible request.
The items that I treasure most in this world aren't items at all. Without hesitation, my faith and my family are what I prize above all else, and their value isn't tangible.
Besides, there is nothing on earth that I would not gladly give up, if required by my Sovereign Lord.

Still...this is an exposé, a challenge, of sorts. And so, we take a deep breath and press on.

My most treasured item is such, not because of what it is, but what it represents.
Dorothy Elizebeth Barnett Sheldon, my paternal Grandmother, wore an Opal necklace that my Grandfather had given her. When I was quite young, I made a comment about it to her and she glibly informed me that when she died it would be mine. It was a beautiful thing, so part of me was delighted at the idea. But part of me was repulsed too, and felt guilty at the delight. I was too young to understand all that an heirloom is.
When I was fourteen, Grandma Dorothy passed away, and shortly after that, my Grandfather gave me the necklace. By that time, I was truly able to treasure it for the memories that it held.
No picture can do it justice.

Although that would be enough, that isn't where the story ends.
Seven years later, in the jungle of Venezuela, I read a book by Isobel Kuhn, titled Stones of Fire. Now out of print, it is a missionary story woven throughout with a metaphor comparing the author's life to a gem being worked by a Master Lapidary. The stone is an Opal.
"Do you know that lovely fact about the opal? That in the first place, it is only made of desert dust, sand, and silica, and owes it's beauty and preciousness to a defect. It is a stone with a broken heart. It is full of minute fissures which admit air, and the air refracts the light. Hence it's lovely hues and that sweet lamp of fire that ever burns at it's heart, for the breath of the Lord God is in it.
"You are only conscious of the cracks and desert dust, but so He makes His precious opal. We must be broken in ourselves before we can give back the lovely hues of His light, and the lamp of the temple can burn in us and never go out." ~Ellice Hopkins

And so, quite apart from my doing, I do have an item that represents the two things that are most important to me, and it is treasured indeed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week, the seventh

This week's prompt didn't require as much thought as some of the others have (or will). "A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day."

Now, if I wanted to get all altruistic and noble on you, I'd say that I'd love to trade places with my husband for the day--if only so that he could have one day in which he could live without pain. But even if that's true (and it is), it's a bit gushy and doesn't make for a fun blog post.

On the lighthearted side...I'd love to live in this person's shoes:

...but I'm not sure a day would be long enough. How 'bout a month?

Rick Steves "is an American author, historian, and television personality focusing on European travel. He is the host of the public television series Rick Steves' Europe, has a public radio travel show, Travel with Rick Steves, and has authored various location-specific travel guides."*

I don't know anything about his personal life, political leanings, or anything else beyond the show on PBS. So, if you find out he's part of some underworld triad dealing in human trafficking (which seems highly unlikely), I don't want to know about it.
What appeals to me about trading places with him is the opportunity to travel all over the place and see things beyond the typical tourist attractions. Carrying nothing but a backpack.**
We could skip the camera crew. They'd just slow me down.

Don't read too much into my desire to trade places with a Man. Although, being a man would probably make travel easier in certain areas of the world. Mechanically, and otherwise.

Where are we going first?

*Unashamedly ripped straight out of Wikipedia.
**I bought that backpack, and it really is everything they say it is. I'll never lug a suitcase again. That was part of the 12 Things, remember?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week, the sixth

The prompt for (eh, hem...) last week of the exposé was: "A picture of one of your favorite memories".

My first thought was "Seriously? What if I don't have a favorite memory? What if my favorite memory changes hourly? What if I haven't had my favorite memory yet? Or if I don't happen to have a pictures of it? Like hunting for the spot on the farm where the cat had her kittens....or listening to my Dad read Mrs. PiggleWiggle out loud to us when we were kids...or filling a friend's dorm room with inflatable turtles...or sitting in a boat on a tributary in Venezuela as far from civilization as is possible...or shaking hands with men who are faithful to preaching the Word of God...or holding my daughter for the very first says "one of". Never mind.

Here is my "one of":
In June of 2003, we broke ground on the one-and-only house we ever intend to build. We saved quite a bit of money by doing the general contracting ourselves, and learned a lot in the process. We caught mistakes before they cost us, and are living with a few as well. None of it would be possible without the ridiculous generosity of family on both sides.

When the first floor deck was completed, but no walls were framed, I came over to the site and laid on the floor in front of our future fireplace, and watched the sunset.

We cleaned, painted, hauled, and cleaned some more. And on January 27th, 2004, we moved in. And we're still not done. Probably never will be.

But from this house, many of our other favorite memories have been launched.
  • Heavy lifting on move-in day sparked some physical difficulties that Chad has been dealing with ever since. This, in turn, has brought about some fun, and some not-so-fun trips to Minnesota. And lots of Grace.
  • Family get togethers, holidays, field trips, and vacations all begin and end here.
  • This is school, work, and play for us.
  • The farm is here.
  • This is where the housework gets ignored in favor of the fun stuff.
  • The petting zoo is here.
  • This is where The Shema of Deuteronomy 6 and Mark 12 take place (hopefully).
  • Family is here (and next door...and just down the street...).
  • This is our sanctuary, our life, our home away from Home.
It even has a name.
Welcome to Leaning Tree Acres!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Today we celebrate J's Golden Birthday. For those of you unfamiliar with her story, when she was born, we never expected that we would have the privilege of enjoying this moment. Some days, it still feels too good to be true, and it is by God's Grace Alone.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

South Bend Chocolate Factory

According to the time stamp, October of 2006 is when Grammy and I took the girls to the South Bend Chocolate factory for a fun field trip. Let the cravings commence.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ohio 2006

If they can show retromercials on TV, the I'm taking the liberty to post some retro family photos here. It's not really a priority for us to have them printed. The digital versions take up less space, cost nothing, and can be accessed from any computer.

We took a trip to the Dayton area to visit family in 2006. We did some letterboxing, visited a Children's garden that was a sensory wonderland, and hung out with family. It's such fun for me to look back and see how much the girls have grown since then!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Strange Things

We've been working on getting rid of some clutter over the past few weeks and have come across some unusual items. Even more interesting, however, is the process of sorting through old files on the computer. Pictures in particular. This one seemed appropriate:

In 2006 we took a vacation to visit relatives in Ohio. I was able to squeeze in a couple letterbox hunts while there, thanks to my ever patient family. On one outing, we found this broom--inexplicably parked next to a waterfall. It is easily the strangest thing that I have ever seen while boxing. The second would be the 25 pound bag of cat chow on the trail, miles away from anything.

As I sort through old photos, it is my plan to post slideshows of various vacations, field trips, and asundries. My main purpose is to create a place to look at them (and get them off my hard drive at the same time) without spending the money to print them (at least until I can afford it). Feel free to look at them, or ignore them.

In the meantime, what is the strangest thing that you have found while out hiking?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2 More Things

Remember my list of 12 Things? Well, I thought of 2 more.
  • Kick the Soda Addiction. I can add this one because it's already done. Along with learning to play the spoons, tatting with a shuttle, and carrying less baggage, my trip to Louisiana had the unexpected effect of curing me of my soda (pop, or coke-with a small "c" for those of you who live elsewhere) cravings. Now, you have to understand that this was unintentional, and nothing short of miraculous. I've tried unsuccessfully many times in the past. The two cans that I have opened in the last several weeks have gone unfinished. It doesn't even taste good anymore. And no headaches either. Weird, but good. Now if I could just kick the Praline addiction that I acquired in NOLA.
  • Declutter the house. At the end of last year, several friends found the 365 Less Things website. My whole family (aunts, etc) are now busily getting rid of stuff we didn't even realize was clutter. The unwanted task of going through the possessions that a loved one has left behind has been added incentive for the rest of us to get organized. Some favorite items that our descendants will Not have to deal with now: phone books going back to 2004, a girdle, and 19 toothbrushes kept "just in case we need to scrub something".
PS-I've also caught up on Doctor Who. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Real Men

A very bizarre conversation with my 8 and almost 12 year old daughters took place the other day. We went from the YMCA song, to "why are they dressed like that?", to what does it mean to be a "real man". It was the kind of chat that every attentive mom hopes will happen at some point (I would have preferred later), but one that you can in no way prepare yourself for. (the video is for satirical illustration, not an endorsement--and perhaps not for everyone)

So, what does it mean to be a Real Man? We've heard lots of silliness on the subject:
  • Real Men don't eat Quiche.
  • Real Men don't watch Figure Skating.
  • Real Men don't wear Pink.
  • Real Men play dress up with their daughters.
  • Real Men drive pick up trucks.
  • Real Men hate cats.
The girls and I had a pretty good discussion on the subject; some of it insightful, some of it needing correction. But now it's time for you to weigh in on what a Real Man is to you. It can be positive or negative, what they do or don't do, silly or serious.

Finish the statement "Real Men..."