Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Word Pictures

What makes a good book in my opinion is one with really strong word pictures. I like to feel like I'm inside the story and yet I feel I may have some really strong opinions on what a good word picture is. For instance, I like to know what is happening with the characters, but I like better to know about their environment in detail. Colors and sounds are very helpful, but the one that is really strong for me is when they describe smells.
I would wager I have a rather strong sense of smell and it is highly linked to my photographic memory.
    *side note: for those who don't know, I have a pretty decent photographic type memory which is helpful in some ways, but also sort of disturbing in others ways.
So smells, they invoke all kinds of memories and pictures in my mind. Some smells can take me from feeling bored to overwhelmingly happy, some smells make me feel sad, and there are even some smells that make me feel physically sick because of a memory they call forth.
An example of that last one is in order, because perhaps some of you think I am exaggerating, but I am not, I promise. When I was small, I once rode in a friends car that had leaky exhaust smells in their car, they also I would suspect had mold carpets in the back seat. Both of which give me headaches. Combine the mold/exhaust fume headache with a child who also suffers from severe car sickness and you can imagine what that 20 minute car ride was like for me. I can remember the color of that carpet and the seats and the mess of papers and magazines on the floors in the back. Mostly I remember the smell. I would wager most people would not get in that car and think a thing of the smell. For plenty of cars it is a normal smell. For me, it was the doorway to sickness that I would assume ended in vomiting.
So now that smell has been linked to a sense of nauseousness that even as an adult can still affect me in the wrong car.
Hopefully you can see how much smell affects me and therefore you may have an image of my immaculate house - yeah right. Dirty smells don't really bother me, the smell of dead animals or a skunk don't bother me. It is not like I go out looking for those horrid smells, they just don't evoke memories that bother me.
Yet the smell of my house is a different thing for me. I strive to have a smell that reminds me of some of my favorite family type memories.  My parents house smells like a combination of fabric softener and wood smoke and occasionally bacon. The smell of my aunt's house always smelled like oatmeal, apples, and vanilla. My first house smelled like fresh paint and coffee.
All of those smells are wonderful to me, and even now as a twenty something mom of two, when my mom sends me a package from her house, I breath in the smell from their house that lingers on any soft surfaces. It is a link to a very happy period of my life, when I lived at home.
My life is happy now too, but I still have not managed to get the smell of my home down. I think I cook good smelling food, but the smell that lingers after the food is put away is sometimes less than desirable. I have good smelling candles, but I rarely burn them because they are too expensive to replace. We don't have a wood burning stove, and Ken doesn't eat bacon. I have apples and vanilla and oatmeal in my house, but I don't know how my aunt got those smells to linger in the air. Fabric softener is too expensive and in our current home, our laundry is on the second floor, so the smells of laundry never greet me when I come in the door.
You can see my dilemma.
Then one day recently my housemate cleaned with some bleach and I came into my house horrified. The smell permeated all the way downstairs and made my home smell like a sterilized hospital or worse, a nursing home. The smell of sweet smelling lotions mixed with the smell of old woman perfumes and then on top of it the scent of food that has been sitting in a buffet under heat lamps for too long, all with an overwhelming scent of clean bleach - that is the smell of a nursing home in my opinion. That is sort of what my house smelled like.
I immediately went to the kitchen to cook something or at least fill my nostrils with the over ripe melons sitting on my counter. Then I opened the downstairs bathroom door to let out more of my Glade plug in scent that is strong enough to knock you out when you enter our little cubical-style half-bath.
Sigh. It didn't overcome the bleach and took several days to return to my regular smell - stale dirty dishes in the sink mixed with Glade plug in mixed with Swiffer Sweeper citrus scent mixed with what ever Asian-style dish my housemate has cooked recently in my absence. Not my favorite combination so far.
When I smell the smell of my home the most is when I first walk in from being away. So I feel the smell of my home is sort of like a first impression that I am still trying to perfect. I want the first smell people smell in my home to match with my personality and skills as a hostess - yummy food, gourmet coffee, fresh fruit, mixed with clean & breezy fresh air (that last one is hard to accomplish in summer because the windows are never open).
So for now my house doesn't smell much like any of those things.
But at least my house doesn't smell like a typical house with small children, which in my experience includes the smells of pancake syrup, slightly sour milk, and stale mac n cheese, sometimes accompanied by the smell of a dog or cat.
Now, for all of my friends who I have ever visited in their homes, none of you need to worry. The smell of your homes is not going to reflect on our friendships. In fact, the smells of peoples homes is a very individual type thing and as I fall in love with the people in the homes, the smell of their home grows into a beautiful memory that will affect me for years.
So even if your home smells like mold, pet urine, cooking beans, and stale wet laundry (had a friend who's house smelled like this as a child), I can still love you and as I enjoy your friendship deeper and deeper, the smell of your house will be a reminder of that love and all our good memories (some of my best child hood memories were in that same friend's house and therefore I love some of those smells now because they evoke such happy memories).
For a few of my friends who I spent considerable time at your houses, here is what I remember of your smells.
Lydia, the smell I most remember about your house is garlic and onion being sauteed on your stove, a very comforting smell even at this distance. I cook so often, but I always think of you when I cook onions and garlic together, or when I make fresh salsa. Another smell memory in your home centers around coffee and warm chocolate.
Elizabeth, your house always smelled fresh, like when you open the door after you take a shower and the smells of soap and warm water come wafting out - like that and sometimes like apples.
Rachel Cherry Myers, your dwellings were all about the same, the Shiloh office, the Shiloh house, your room at the ranch - the smell is of dried mud, old dusty furniture, stale food, and spices/dried herbs.
All three of those just described smell combos are very dear to me, and whenever I smell them randomly somewhere else they always make me think of you. So I hope you all know that, even as I am still trying to perfect my own smell.
PS. If I could make an air freshener for my home that would be unique to me, it would be the scent of warm sandlewood and baked apples and roses. Sigh.

News Less Worthy

I'm sorry to inform my blog readers that the exciting news I shared in my previous blog has turned to sadness. I've miscarried my baby about a week and a half ago, and have spent that time grieving and praying and learning to worship the Lord thru my pain. It is a really hard thing to lose one, even so small as my little baby, but the Lord has been faithful to meet me in my pain and comfort me as only He can.
Most of you probably already know of our tragedy, but I needed to make it clear on here for those who might not have heard. It is also a kind of way to thank those of you who have walked with us through this and loved us well in the midst of our hurting. Thank you to all of those people who said kind words and gave us hugs and prayers, and thank you even to those people who said the wrong things but with well intentioned hearts.
We are healing and with the Lord's help, we will rally and be stronger and better equipped to comfort others in the future.
That is all I have to say for now, but in the midst of all of this the Lord had been giving me some creativity that I hope to share more about soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

News Worth Sharing

For weeks now I haven't been on my blog much. I just felt like I didn't have much to say. I also has a lot of things on my mind that I wasn't ready to talk about with the world wide web audience.
I guess now I'm feeling like it might be time to explain the journey we've been on.
It all started last fall, in November I think (I would have to look back in my journal to be sure, but I'm too lazy to get up and go find it at the moment), when I was feeling the baby itch. Kalei had just turned one in October, and I was ready for another. Rational, I think not, but then a mother's heart is not always rational.
So I was praying and asking the Lord when, when would my third baby come? I had already been praying for a few weeks for the Lord to move on Ken's heart to make him want another one, but so far there was no interest from Ken. I had just started a new and sort of stressful work schedule, and I wanted to know when I could expect to take a break to be with a new baby.
So I ask and asked the Lord, and then one day while I was sitting on my back deck drinking coffee I heard the Lord whisper 'when you are settled your third baby will come along'. I had no idea what that could mean, so I thought it must have to do with my new job assignments. I thought, as soon as I get used to this new work schedule, and learn to enjoy the routine, then I will get pregnant. I related it to the way that Julie Meyer's talked about her seasons in the 'back row' and how the Lord told her she wouldn't come out of the 'back row' season until she learned to enjoy it.
Then near New Year's Ken and I separately started to hear the Lord telling us we were on the verge of some big change. We had no idea what it was, but we began to ask Him what He wanted to do with us. Separately we both felt the Lord pointing to Morning Star in Fort Mill, SC, and so we sent Ken off to visit and hear from the Lord.
He came back and we both felt we were to move there and be intercessory missionaries on the Morning Star Campus. It was a big change for sure, and suddenly, the Lord's words back in November were making a little more sense, literal sense. So I began to pray again for the Lord's will to be done and I started praying for this little one that I felt was going to come along soon.
About that same time, without me saying anything to Ken, he decided he was ready to consider having another baby. It was a great breakthrough, because I had tried so hard not to talk to Ken about having more babies. I didn't want to manipulate him with my own wants and emotions on the subject. I wanted the Lord to make Ken ready when it was time.
So then I waited. Months went by, we were packing and moving and then we were in transition, me in Peoria with the girls for three weeks, and Ken here and there making loading and hauling our stuff. Finally by the first week in June we were in Fort Mill, all as a family.
Immediately I set to work. The Lord said the third baby would come along when we were 'settled', so I made my house as complete as I could. I cleaned and unpacked and organized and decorated. I even hung pictures within the first month, determined to make this place feel like home. It paid off, it did feel like home, but the baby didn't come in June. I wasn't too sad.
Then we had the whole month of July, and we had no money. Baby was not really on my mind. I was praying and petitioning for our finances, and I used all my extra energies to stir up my faith and hope in the Lord to provide. On August first we had no money for rent. We had a five day grace period to pay it, so we waited and prayed and prayed some more.
On the fourth day we decided that we would have to pay it, so we pulled money from our two credit cards and paid it. I cried all day. I felt so betrayed and hurt, because using the credit card felt so fleshly. I was a wreck literally, because I knew that the Lord could have come through but for some reason He didn't. I was so confused and I spewed all kinds of accusations at Him, and then Ken made me get out of the house which helped me get out of my self pity mode also. So I talked to the Lord and felt a bit better.
Later that same day I noticed some spotting and knew I was about to start my monthly cycle (men reading this, sorry, but this is how it happens, so get over it). I felt even more bummed out. He hadn't given us money and He hadn't given me the baby I'd been praying for.
        *side note: Kinsey had also been praying for a little brother in the month of July. Out of no where one day she asked me to get her a little brother, and I laughed and told her she had to talk to Jesus about that one, and so she did. I heard her pray out loud at least a half dozen times for a little brother, and it was so sweet, but I also had guessed it would be powerful because the Lord loves the hearts of little children so much.
But here I was with no money, a huge debt on our credit cards and a monthly cycle that made me feel even more pathetic.
The next day money came in, a lot of money, enough to pay off all that we had just put on our credit cards. It was amazing and wonderful and I cried. Then my spotting stopped, and I was confused, but I told myself not to be hopeful. Then it spotted again a bit, and it was all 'old' (women will know what I mean, men, be grateful if you don't). Then it stopped, and never started again.
Meanwhile, we got a house mate. It's a really long story how we met and this story is already long enough, but the Lord connected us in some odd circumstances and she came to stay with us the day after we got all the money to pay off our credit cards. So on Friday we got the money, on Saturday we got the housemate, and then on Sunday I took a pregnancy test and it was a bold two liner that made me cry with joy. I was pregnant!
What a crazy month, eh?
So now I have been just sorting through all the emotions while coming to terms with the fatigue that has already begun to set in. I am praying for an awesome pregnancy this time though, no sickness, so if you would like to join me, I would welcome it.
Meanwhile I've learned that although I want to be strong for the work that the Lord has called us to here in Fort Mill, I think this last month of testing was a beautiful picture of how we can be so strong up to a point. Then our weakness shows itself, we fall flat on our faces, and the Lord still comes through despite our weakness and makes us shine because of His strength and faithfulness.
If there is one words that sums up the way I've been feeling for the past week, it would be - grateful. Nothing has been able to dampen my spirits (except a brownie hang over which I suffered from early this morning, darn those brownies). People say that women glow when they are pregnant, but I think if I am glowing it is because I realize how loved I am by the Lord. Even little 'ol me is loved and precious and I'm feeling it full force right now.
Lord never let me forget these things which you have done for me and my family. Amen.
(PS, I have not proofed this post, I just hurried and put down all my thoughts, so if something doesn't make total sense, just try to grasp the jist of it.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Reading List

Well, I took almost two weeks off from my facebook page and blog to de-clutter my time and help me to refocus and make a plan for this fall. I'm starting homeschooling with Kinsey, which is pretty simple at her age, just lots of reading and we play learning games and then I read to her some more.

As you can guess, all that reading has helped us to make fast friends with our new local library in Fort Mill, and I'm happy to say that I have been reading a lot too because of the social networking break. I've found it helps to pass the time on really hot days when it is way to hot to go outside to play/clean/do anything but sit under a vent.
Already I've put a pretty good dent in my summer reading list and added to it some.

What I've read so far:
    The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson
    The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke
    The Prophet (from the Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Unashamed, Unveiled, and Unspoken (the Lineage of Grace series) by Francine Rivers
    The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser
    Katrina's Wings by Patricia Hickman
    As High as the Heavens by Kathleen Morgan

Currently Reading (or have in possession to read):
    The Scribe (Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Green (Circle series) Ted Dekker
    Entering the Presence of God by Derek Prince
Updated List of Remaining Titles:
    The Priest, The Warrior, The Prince (Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Black, Red, and White (Circle series) by Ted Dekker
    Appointment in Jerusalem by Lydia and Derek Prince
   Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson
    Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman
    The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey
    The Azusa Street Mission and Revival by Thomas Nelson
    The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum

So there you have it. My summer reading list, updated and revised, and here are a few of my opinions on the books I've read so far. Right off the bat I'm going to say don't bother reading 'As High as the Heavens', it was a predictable as all get out. It was also a sappy romance type that even though it had a weak strand of Christian principles in it, was very lacking in spirituality and there were even romantic parts that I skipped over because I felt they were too details for any good Christian to read. That again, is just my opinion, but we women live a lot in our minds, so why feed our minds unrealistic fantasy that will only make us bitter with reality.
On to the next few - I love all the books by Francine Rivers in the series of Sons of Encouragement (5) and the Lineage of Grace (5). She takes Bible characters and builds a real life type story around them. The ones I've read so far were about Tamar, Bathsheba, Rahab, Amos, and Silas. So good, and very well written to teach about the culture of the times. Which leads me to another Bible character type book, the Centurion's Wife, which was based in Bible times. It was so cool to read about the times right after Jesus has died and to the time when He eventually ascended. My only grumble was that the story ended quite abruptly and there is no sequel, so I'm left with my mind trying to finish it because I don't feel as thought the writer did. I even checked at the end to make sure that none of the last few pages had been ripped out and missing, that is how abrupt I felt it was.
Now lastly, another few titles that I want to rave about, they were that good. Katrina's Wings and The Swan House are both stories based in the south, one during the 70's and one in the 60's. Both were coming of age type books, as two women find their identities while also discovering Christ in their respective cultures. The word pictures in Katrina's Wings was amazing, and The Swan House just made you ache with the main character. I like books where I can feel like I am a part of them because they are just that real.
So, if you like to read and want a few good books to check out, then I highly suggest these and a few others I've read in the past few years.
Some titles that I like to tell everyone about are: Perpetua by Amy Rachel Peterson, Winter is Past by Ruth Axtell Morren, and Prophet by Frank Peretti - also by Peretti, When Heaven Weeps, and The Martyr Song, and This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.
All of those I would highly recommend, not all of Frank Peretti's books are scary.

Since summer is almost over, make a fall reading list. As the weather finally starts to get colder and colder (which can't seem to happen soon enough for me right now), it is always nice to curl up with a good book. Blessings.