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Friday, October 29, 2010

money.

I hate money.  Hate.  Money.  (Sorry, mom, I know we only hate Satan, but one could argue they are close relatives.)  Hate that I never feel like I have enough of it, when I really do.  Hate doing budget on Tuesday and then having to search the couch cushions by the following Monday for money to buy a gallon of milk because I've blown through my grocery stash already.  Hate Tuesdays.  But I'd hate doing budget on any day.  Hate that catalogs come and emails flood my inbox and I covet what I see there.  That I still play the game where I imagine that I've been awarded a shopping spree by whatever catalog I'm looking at and can buy anything in it.  Hate that I can blow 20 minutes easy, filling up an imaginary shopping cart with imaginary stuff I don't need and would only have to have dry cleaned, which would cost more money.  Love that God is working on me here.  That He's hitting me over the head with a two by four (which is often the means of communication He has to resort to) to make me see that this is not our money to begin with.  That we're just borrowing it, and doing a really crappy job of it too, sometimes.  That we're to live with open hands even if that means that sometimes God has to nearly physically pry our fingers open.  I once knew a boy whose fingers were permanently curled into themselves so that he nearly always was making a fist and the only way he could straighten out his fingers was if someone continually massaged his hand from the palm outward until those muscles relaxed, allowing him to open his hand.  And his face would screw up with pain as the therapist worked those muscles, but it'd be worth it because when the fibers relaxed and his hand fell open, a beatific look would come over his face and you could tell it felt so good.  So good.  God is doing that to us.  Gently massaging our hands until our fingers open and we live palm up, submissive, just not hanging on so tightly.  Not hanging on.  Trying to teach our children the difference between needs and wants.  Trying to learn it ourselves.  Gritting my teeth when fully twenty percent of my grocery budget goes toward duct tape and hand sanitizer and never having enough to buy those crazy expensive electric toothbrush replacement heads that the dentist stopped giving out.  Giving so that it hurts.  Hurts so good.  Teaching the boys that if they're going to bring a quarter for a cookie on Cookie Wednesday, they're going to bring two so that they can buy one for someone who forgot.  Teaching myself that pulling over for the guy with the sign on Knapp and handing over the bunch of bananas I've just bought (and that the kids will ask about after school) and some peanut butter and a fiver is how I'm to live.  Even if it means going without bananas or, worse, having to go back into the vortex of Meijers and get more.
Did you know that in first century Israel, where crop and cattle were currency and king, the people of God were instructed to leave parts of their choice harvest for the widows and orphans and the poor to glean.  They were not allowed to plow the corners.  Not allowed to go back and check for any grapes they might have missed.  Gastronomic socialism.
So this is me.  Verbose me (sorry, next post will be shorter, I promise).  Being real and resolving not to plow the corners.  Being real and working on living with open hands even when it hurts.  Oh, and lurving the fact that as I write this my kids are all asleep and, because they don't have school today, I can leave them to it, because I sort of hate school too (shhh, don't tell the kids).  This is a good day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

week.

Some things that blessed me this week:
A pj stay date with a cherished friend (you know who you are) which I think might be something more moms should look into.  There is something so lovely about hanging out in your comfy cozies and being stripped of all the material distractions we normally put on before we can feel "decent".  But you'll have to get your own friend cause I'm keeping mine.


A dear neighbor (you know who you are) who heard Tess was sick and stopped by with a bag full of goodies that put a smile back on a sick girl's face so quickly.  And she brought some new movies and just in time since I was considering blinding myself with a spork and some Tilex if I had to watch My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas one more time.


My new infit that I got in San Francisco.  It's grey and pink and stretchy and oh so comfy and I think it's my new uniform.  So if you see me in it, don't tell me how I wear it all the time, cause I know and I'm ok with it.  


A new obedience issue that God is really tightening the screws on and it's about sharing Jesus with the people around me and being less concerned that I'll sound like an idiot and not be able to find the proper scripture references to answer their questions and more concerned about getting to heaven some day and not finding them there and knowing I am at least partly responsible.  Because I've been bombarded by all this good information that says there is no lukewarm Christian.  You're either sold out to Jesus or you're sold out to something else.  And I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, it does me too, but that's the word on the street and I'm listening.  You're either all in or you're all out.  And even though I mess up royally so often.  So often.  I am so.  all.  in.  Whatever it takes.  Whatever I have to lose.  Whatever the cost.  I am all in.  And I want everyone around me to be too, cause I'm beginning to realize that the Kingdom of Heaven might be pickier than I previously thought and I want lots and lots of people to be sold out to Jesus and make the cut.  More on this later.


Having all the kids home for a sick day yesterday.  Not all of them were technically sick, but we rarely go by technicalities around here.  Basically if you sneeze funny in the evening you get the next day off.  So they did.  And they did.  And it was lovely.  Although I was ready for Dan to come home in the evening and take a couple of them off to buy chicken food so I could but the house to rights.  But we did spend a lovely hour building boats out of egg cartons and duct tape and sending them off on their maiden voyage in the bathtub before declaring them fair.  That was very good.  But I was still ready for Dan to come home and take a couple of them off to buy chicken food.  Nearly always ready for that.


Dan walking in with a Hudsonville Ice Cream cooler filled with six (6!) quarts of our favorite flavors and making the kids think it was gastronomic Christmas for a bit while they sat on the counter and had a bowl.  And for the fact that one of those quarts was Peppermint Stick, the only flavor I like and only from Hudsonville since it's the best (shameless promotion for a client) and since I knew they'd literally only made it the day before.  So if you come over in the next couple of months, and I wish you would, know that you will likely be offered a big bowl of some happy and a spoon to go with.


My dad pridefully promoting this little blog to all his contacts and making me blush.  Although I did notice he asked all the men to forward it to their wives as something they'd maybe like to read and although I'm most definitely not a feminist (sooo not a feminist, just ask my college Sociology prof) I like to think there's something for men in here too, beyond the little references to sex, I mean.  But really Dad, you made me blush, so thank you.  For a zillion trips to Schuler's that started this obsession with language, and for the way that you made Jesus look so good that I had to have a piece of Him too.  


Spending a couple hours in Peter's room this week and putting names to faces and realizing that I can only take a teeny bit of credit for the current burst of reading growth he's experiencing.  Before Tuesday I thought it was all me, now I realize it's mostly her (you know who you are) and I'm ok with that.  


Having an after school stay date with new friends this week that fed my heart and made me stop once they'd left and say to the kids, see?  This is the good stuff that comes from obedience.  This hanging out with new friends and knowing that if we'd ignored God (which I do a lot too) we would not have had this stay date here this afternoon with these people who live nearby and who we'll probably be friends with for a long time.  Thank you God.  


For the Moms in Touch group I thought I'd visit once to touch the wall, but for whom I've come back each Friday.  And especially for Joyce (you know who you are) who opens her door to me and Lulu each week, despite Lucy doing her Flying Wallendas act down the stairs there and shaving at least six months off all our lives in the process, and who makes us feel warm and welcome and so glad to be living in a  place where women from different backgrounds can gather together and fall on our faces before a common Father to implore Him on behalf of our schools and our children.  That's good stuff.


For the best Nana in the world who turned off her stove and hopped in her car to race to a school she is still getting used to to grab a sick Peter so I didn't have to wake Lucy up from her nap.  And for the million other things she does and has done to make my life easier.  Like watching Lucy so I can work in the kid's classrooms and get to know this school we're getting to know, and stopping by just so she can get some sugar from whatever kids are home right then and for throwing away all my smut novels in high school (even though she still denies ever doing this).  You are the best Nanny Burd and we love you deep.


Oh dear, I just scrolled up and realized that if this post is too long to proofread it's proly too long to read at all, so I'm sorry for being verbose but I have been so blessed so often this week (ok, the infit was not a blessing, more like a perk) and I almost never know when to stop.  So this is me.  Being real.  Blessed. And stopping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

fall.

diving into fall.  sharpening our knives.  growing wild hairs to do things like carve teeny gourds and boil crayfish from the creek and jump each other on bikes.  fall is a time for bundling up and heading outside since the season of hunkering down is coming sooner than we're ready for.  except peter who has his new snowboard and boots next to his bed, at the ready, for the first hint of snow.  winter stuff is arriving daily from our favorite online outfitters, the bills making dan go all bug-eyed and quiet until they model and he can picture them schussing down the slopes with their rosy cheeks and twinkly eyes.  first fire yesterday.  pumpkins lit tonight to lots of fanfare.  plans being made for trick or treating with neighbors.  and, yes, there is a halloween musical that peter is a part of next week.  on the eve of the costume parade and halloween parties and we're not in kansas anymore.  can't even see it from our windows, but there is sweetness here in conversations with great neighbors drummed up over the sound of shuffling feet at the bus stop. and i can hear it in the fervent prayers of the moms in touch group i think i'm falling in love with.  i can see it in the frequent requests for play dates with people within walking distance from our house and when grant took off across the street yesterday to play hide and seek with some friends i didn't even yell after him to be sure and watch for cars.  just threw up in my mouth a little and then cried some bitter sweet tears as i mixed up a batch of molly's (you know who you are) pumpkin muffins.  but they were mostly happy tears cause being here is great.  and we're more than settling in.  we're staying.  right here in this not so big house that welcomed a dear friend (you know who you are) to come over in her pjs this morning with her bra in her picnic basket just in case she wanted to run somewhere on the way home.  and we snuggled in and drank tea, she using the coveted tea cup from san fran, me using the old dan vos construction standbys, and i listened as she told her kids repeatedly that this was her special play date with her friend and making me fall deeper in love with her.  so we're embracing fall and the wild colors and the crazy love of a jesus that challenges us to be more than we think we can and then pushes us farther than that even and sometimes it hurts.  it hurts so bad.  but it's good too.  mostly good being pushed and stretched and formed.  but more on that later.  for now, enjoy your fall.  cause this is me.  being real.  thankful.





















Monday, October 11, 2010

back.

One of the kids asked me yesterday what my favorite part of our trip to San Francisco was as I was pinning them to the floor and plastering their sweet faces with five days worth of prorated sugar.  Thought about it today looking at the few pictures we took and decided it wasn't the Blue Angels whooping it up for Fleet Week and the fact that we happened to be on Alcatraz at the time and consequently had the best seat in the house.  
So my favorite part of San Francisco wasn't the Blue Angels.

Nor was my favorite part going across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Because we never actually made it across the Golden Gate bridge.  Missed our dinner in Sausalito entirely because we were stuck in public transit hell trying to find the Lego store in San Mateo, which was a total bust.  Missed it because we were en route back to the city proper with every Giants fan within a fifty mile radius (and maybe farther) on their way to see the second Giants vs. Braves game in the playoffs.  But we decided it doesn't really have anything more to offer than our own Mackinaw Bridge except some red paint.  
So my favorite part of San Francisco wasn't the Golden Gate Bridge.


And it wasn't Alcatraz, although that was really cool.  Really cool.  For a history buff like myself and a lover of old things like myself it was really.  Cool.  The audio tour was very informative, the weather was perfect and each stage of the audio tour was punctuated by the sound of the Blue Angels flying over head.  The warmth and beauty outside a direct contrast to the stark ugliness inside.  Alcatraz was just cool.
But Alcatraz wasn't my favorite part of San Francisco.




And it wasn't my new favorite pink place in the entire world: Crown and Crumpet.  This tea shop owned by a British expat (who in the world leaves Britain for California?) and is lavish and comfy and has the most delightfully written menu that is witty and cheeky and everything that is good in writing.  There are big armchairs pulled up next to a fireplace and flanked by vintage children's book covers in frames.  There are tables groaning with the weight of British magazines (and you know how I love me some British magazines) and glass apothecary jars filled with colorful candies and the sweetest little corner where they sell the most delightful what-nots and monogrammed tea cups.  So the next time you come over for tea, I may let you use mine instead of the requisite Dan Vos Construction mug, which we only have because they were free and are indestructible for hot cocoa on cold days.  I love love love Crown and Crumpet.  Love it so much I wanted to never leave and have our babysitter (you know who you are) ship the kids so they could live there with me.  But I didn't.  I left.  Cause it wasn't my favorite part of San Francisco.  It was close.  But it wasn't my favorite.




So many lovely things about five days in San Francisco, but the loveliest of them all was sitting across from my husband in Ghiradelli square on our first luncheon there and reintroducing myself.
Hi.  My name is Megan.  I enjoy long walks in the city, reading by the fire, and I'm pretty in love with your kids.  Your eyes are the greatest shade of amber and they are so kind and I've missed having time to just look into them and lose myself there.  My hobbies are writing, sewing and reading but I don't do any of them nearly enough because I don't always prioritize my time very well.  But the thing I'm learning to do better, that I'm really focusing on is being your wife and making sure that you get enough of me each day, which is nearly impossible, I realize.  And I'm loving what God is doing in you and having front row seats for that show, cause Barnum and Bailey has it all wrong.  They aren't the greatest show on earth.  Watching God transform a life and getting to be a part of it?  That's the greatest show on earth.  And I'm sorry for the million and seven times I've failed you by putting everything else first and you last, but I'm here now and I'm breathing deeply and this.  THIS.  Is my favorite part of San Francisco.  You were my favorite part of San Francisco.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

gone.



Please excuse me for a bit as I step away from my computer to check out what's happening in San Francisco with my husband.  Be back soon.
m

Sunday, October 3, 2010

crazy.


If you haven't read Francis Chan's Crazy Love, drop whatever you're doing right now and get your hands on it (the easiest way to do so being to simply click on the book in the carousel above and have Amazon do all the work for you).  I've only just finished reading/inhaling/licking it, umm yeah Sheri (you know who you are), I'll probably need to buy you a new copy.  I know the book fast doesn't end until San Fran in four days, but but Cheryl (you know who you are) said this book counts as a Bible cause it's all about God and that seemed reasonable at the time.  So glad I listened.
Crazy Love is about just that: how the creator of the universe who spoke us into being so we could live our lives as a praise song to Him loves us with a love that is so crazy the world can barely make sense of it.  I can barely make sense of it.  And how we are to love Him back with equal craziness even when it hurts.  Even when it means giving more than we're comfortable with.  Even when it means forsaking our own desires and needs to live sacrificially so others can live better.
"The gap is so extreme in our world that we have to take lightly passages such as Luke 12:33: 'Sell you possessions and give to the poor.'  How else can I walk out of a mud shack and back into my two-thousand-square-foot house without doing anything?  The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful...and nearly unheard of.  We either close the gap or don't take the words of the Bible seriously."
And this.
"Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples.  I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded?  You'll notice that He didn't add, 'But hey, if that's too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians-you know, the people who can get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything.'"
K, you're prolly sick of quotes, but one more to chew on until your copy comes in the mail.
"People generally do find greater joy in giving freely to others than they do in rampant self-indulgence.  Regarding this, the playwright George Bernard Shaw writes, 'This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.'...  Right now a hundred million angels are praising God's name; He certainly doesn't need to beg or plead with us.  We should be the ones begging to worship in His presence."
So much meat in this book that I want to sit and chew on it all day and it's making me think of when the last time we gave of our time and money and stuff until it hurt?  When was the last time I gave God the idea that there was no place on earth I'd rather be than sitting at His feet worshiping and asking to be changed?  Cause that's where I am today and where I want to stay forever and lots of things have converged to make me want to stay and one of them is this book.
So this is me, confessing that I pore over catalogs when they come and dream of what I'd buy if I had an unlimited budget instead of dreaming over whose life I can change with the relative gobs and gobs of money I already have.  And this is me, asking to be changed, to have the selfishness siphoned out so that God can fill those big spaces.  And this is me, asking if you're ready to be "overwhelmed by a relentless God" cause if you are, I'll send a copy your way.  Just comment and I'll pick one as randomly as I can and you'll get yourself 205 pages of zing and pow and you'll be changed for it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

win.

Last night at an awards dinner attended by far too many construction personnel wearing suits for any of us to be comfortable, my husband was awarded the first ever Contractor of the Year award given by ASAM, which is actually not American Society for Addiction Medicine, even though that's what comes up when you google it.  American Subcontractors Association of Michigan is comprised of all the people we work with to erect a building: electricians, plumbers, concrete guys, etc..., who nominated Dan Vos Construction Company based on strict criteria like how well supervised our jobs are, the quality of our workmanship and our bid ethics and practice.  It's the equivalent of the People's Choice Awards.  Nominated by our peers and voted for by our peers.  And he won.  
So we go to this fantastic place called the Goei Center in a neighborhood where little that is fantastic ever happens, making the Goei Center all the more wonderful.  And we ate really delicious food and met the owner, Bing Goei, who definitely has my vote for State Representative in November's elections, if for no other reason than that he's asian and speaks fluent Dutch.  And there was even an envelope:
Which made me realize how thankful I am that my husband is in construction and not entertainment because I held my breath while it was being open and if they'd fumbled it at all, I'd have passed out.  And then there was a flurry of applause, a standing ovation, lots of photog flashes and a quick acceptance speech in which he forgot to mention both his lovely wife and the academy, but it was still gracious and good.  And there was this award which I photographed in the kids bath cause it's the only well lit place in our home at 3 am.  It's exquisite.  The award, not our kid's bathroom.
Nine bronze figures, one of them a woman we named Linda based on her little bronze breasts and the fact that she appears to be holding a teeny can of hairspray in her tool belt (not really), all willing to go the distance for the tenth, a general contractor.  Our own mini art installation.  And they gave us a banner that we briefly considered draping from the back of the suburban and riding all over tarnation cause we were so proud, but we didn't.   Instead we stopped at the office and set it up right inside the door where all the employees will see it first thing: Contractor of the Year, along with a giant love note from Dan.
And other people once they got through the lines of well wishers and press people asking how they'd like to be named in the release would have gone out to celebrate, but we headed home (after not being able to break a twenty and having to admit the Contractor of the Year needed to borrow a fiver to tip the valet) so we wouldn't have to pay another $12.  But there will be lots of celebrations in the next days.  It's a big deal and a huge big honor and there are loads of people who need to be acknowledged and thanked, so for now this is me.  At three twenty four.  Being really proud of my man. And wondering if a press junket isn't too much to hope for and if it could start in Britain.