Observations: A Snapshot of Morning

He takes a heavy text book out of his backpack. Its weight was too much for the bike ride to school, just as I’d warned him.
I make his lunch and then glancing up through the back window, something with a huge wingspan catches my eye and draws me in for closer look as it slowly descends to the creekside in the back. It’s the gray Crane I’ve seen many times before. The closest I can imagine a prehistoric bird might look like. There’s something about its size and grace as it flies, demanding my attention. I call Angel over and we watch it walk in the creek, precariously looking around for all but two minutes before it takes flight again, in a confused pattern, obviously trying to find a safe passageway out of the maze of branches above.
She asks me if we can gel up her hair, but I insist on turning on the curling iron for six or seven flippy curls…a style her new shag cut simply demands. “There!” I say. “Woah!” she says back.
My coffee is cooling down way too fast.
Her iPod is spewing tinny sounds of cheesy pop rock so I change it Christian Dub-step.
I give a fourth reminder to her to eat some breakfast. She half-smiles and rolls her green eyes at me. Her beauty has a way of eclipsing my every effort to get frustrated.
His jersey tank is acceptable today. It’ll be over 60 degrees. His jacket is nowhere, so he finds a long-sleeve, just for the ride. I pour Chocolate Chex into a custom lunch baggie I made from Press n Seal Glad wrap, and throw it in his paper bag on top of the rest of his lunch; an added snack. I staple the top. And tell him I love him, trying to steal a kiss to the temple while escaping the smell of his Axe hair putty.
I make him stay for just thirty seconds longer in the kitchen while I pray for his day, my hands on either side of his face. “No, mom! There’s no time!” I insist and pray anyway, as he watches the stove clock the whole time, his head pressing against my left hand in the direction of the door. I say something like “furtherance of the Kingdom”, a phrase I immediately question if he understood, and then “blessing everyone he sees”, a phrase that surely covered the former.
He zooms away.
Another bird catches my eye – a Blue Jay. I know that kind, because of its arrogant looking faux-hawk. Then two Red-headed Woodpeckers start fighting over who gets possession of the birdhouse. Their bodies are black feathered with white dots. Such a stark contrast.
She changes into the shirt and scarf I recommended. I feel listened to.
Thirty more seconds will do it this time.
Mmmm. Just a little more creamer, one pump of DaVinci sweetener, and it’s perfect.
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Going Topless

Earlier this week I had a dilemma that God and a friend helped me through. I had to address a girl about not covering up quite enough in front of my kids. I felt it was an important topic to not ignore…especially when there’s so much skin showing that everyone in eyeshot is distracted by it. God really helped me…even woke me up to pray about it, and when it came time to say something, it was received (in privacy & confidentiality) with understanding. I thought to myself with an internal sigh of relief, “Whew! That was tough. But thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me the words and the courage!”

 

We have this mannequin Ricky got for a work video (don’t ask), and normally she’s wearing a jacket. But for some reason she “sat” shirtless in the corner today. Well as soon as Angel noticed her without a top, she gasped, ran over and tried to cover her up as best she could. I put my phone on silent and snapped this photo of her as she dressed the mannequin.

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Then she walked past me with a sigh of relief, “that was a close one.”

I just thought that was interesting. I never brought up the incident from earlier that the Lord helped me through, yet my 7 year old instinctively knew the importance of modesty – even on an inadament object. It was a big deal. And that ‘s awesome. I pray that it remains a big deal to her for the rest of her life.

1 Timothy 2:9 says, “…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works”

1 Peter 3:4 says of women, “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

I’m a little more proud of her right now than usual. And the usual’s pretty high.

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Courage Creek

Yesterday was the first day of Spring Break. And the last day of sunny weather for this Spring Break. So Ricky and I took the opportunity to let the kids have some fun on the swing Ricky made the day before. The swing that takes them, feet dangling, over Hess Creek, hovering the grass on the other side and then back to a slippery hillside where, with wide smiles, they hope to gain their balance once again. This day, in an effort to share the adventure, we invited the neighbor kids, T & E to join in. E went first with excitement in her eyes. She adjusted the rope-length and went for it – no issues. Then my two had their turns, while T stood by on the launching spot and watched. At first, he politely declined, but his sister E kept asking and encouraging him to try. I understand his hesitancy though. Although younger, he is on the bigger side. So the rest of us didn’t pressure him. He was just so unsure. But we all watched him as he gathered the courage to just go for it, and thought he’d get the idea after watching the rest of the kids give it a-go, that you need to run down the hill as fast as you can to build up the momentum needed to soar across. But something was missed there. He kept bending his knees and calculating the risks, and then before we knew it, he was walking nervously down the hillside, and pushed off.

He made it across, reached the other side, and started to come back, but hadn’t the momentum to get back to the launch hill and stay there. So he drifted back over the creek and just hung there. Ricky was close by (thank God!) and grabbed a rake to pull the rope above T closer to the bank…just close enough for for him to reach his legs and find his footing again. He was pretty worried as he hung vulnerably over that 12′ wide creek. Even though it was just waist deep water, it was muddy and cold. His hands gripped that pair of handle bars that Ricky had disassembled from his old bike, as he yelled out, “I’m gonna fall!” So when he made it back, we were all pretty relieved. Especially T. As the sun warmed us through hundreds of branches, Braylon, Angel and E had several more turns and then an unexpected “I want to go again!” came from T. We all looked to him to see if he was serious, but didn’t want to discourage his burst of risk-taking in action. He just wanted to have the same fun as everyone else. All we could do was stand there and watch. And of course cheer. And clap…until about 2 seconds later when he lost his grip…directly over the creek.

SPLASSHHH!

Our eyes all widened, I covered my mouth, then yelled out to him, “Are you ok?!” with near certainty that the only thing hurting was the sense of pride he had upon jumping. My heart was thankful and sinking at the same time as I watched him struggle to get his footing on the slippery mud that only added insult to emotional injury. Those couple minutes seemed to morph into an hour as my mind recalled when I was about his age, struggling with my own weight, and dreading all water activities for this very reason – for fear I would be left to flounder as I tried desperately to retain an ounce of grace as I found my way to solid ground. As I stood watching by the big tree, I was glad T was facing the opposite bank and didn’t see the inadvertent smirks that I saw. In an attempt to redirect those initial muffled outbursts of giggles, I solicited Bray’s help in going inside to get some towels. Once inside, I muttered a quick prayer for T as I ran upstairs to grab him a soft, dry shirt he could use our garage to change into. After he took me up on the offer, he came out sportin’ the clean shirt -backwards- and these few remarkable statements of gratitude,

“Thanks for the Tee shirt. Hey, at least I didn’t get my hair wet!”

…he said with the cutest half-smile ever. And that was the exclamation mark on our swing-time fun, the first day of Spring Break, 2014. I’m determined to get him a gift this week from all of us, to honor him for overcoming his fear. When he looks back at this day, I want it to be marked with a sense of pride and courage more than just an embarrassing moment. I want him to feel accepted, even celebrated.

A Stuffed Dadimal

Angel told Ricky tonight:

Daddy, I wished that whenever you leave, I’d have a stuffed daddy. Like a stuffed animal, but it would look JUST like you.

And it would be warm when I snuggle up to it. Maybe it would have a sock thingy that could be warm in it or I could put it by the fireplace for a few minutes.

I’d dress it in different outfits, but his underwear would be sew’d.
And it would have a heart that when I squeeze it, it would say, “I love you, Angel.”

St. Helens Day Trip

As Papa Bruce drove us (me, the kids, and mom) up I5, passing into Washington, he debated changing the course of the day-trip he ‘d planned. Looking to the east, we saw a thick haze shrouding the mountains, from summer forest fires. There was no use in going to Mt. St.Helens if it was just going to be smoky and visibility dull. The coast sounded like a good alternative to me. So at our pit-stop, the Kalama River picnic area, he declared, “Ok, ok…I can be democratic. Let’s take a vote. Hands up for the beach. Now hands up for St.Helens.” St. Helens won by 1 pair of hands so after exploring, berry picking, monkey bar swinging and discovering thousands of strange spidery snail-like creatures in the river, we revved up the minivan and were off for Braylon and Angel’s very first adventure to an erupted volcano.

Papa has a knack for finding places to stop that have hidden treasures. One stop we made was a simple turn-out o viewpoint. But when we got out we could hear the sound of rushing water across the road. When we followed him over, and through an opening in a bush, we saw the gorgeous flow of a waterfall splashing into tons of loose, slippery rocks. It was hot by then, so I sure welcomed the fresh water spray and the sight of this lil oasis. The kids were quite brave navigators til Angel started screaming wildly … she saw a bee. We stayed long enough to chat with another visitor who was traveling from the east coast and must have needed a shower, cause he had his shirt off and gave himself one right there in the fall. Off we took, to the land of parched and blasted trees.

Another stop we made on our way, was the Forestry Visitors Center…a very nice building and gift shop, where Bray and Angel got to buy souvenirs (a sling shot & a lil frog with magnetic limbs).

When we got to our destinations off of Spirit Lake Rd, an amazing viewpoint and the Johnston Observatory, the kids were all over the dry land. Throwing rocks, feeding squirrels and having an adventurous time. And so was I. The volcano was spectacular. We were so close to what Papa called its “throat”! And we even got in on an official tour-guide’s speech. Bray got himself an adventure-scope and mood ring – more assurance that he will never forget this day.
I honestly don’t think any of us will. It was a blast.

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Angel’s Mother’s Day Gift

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Interpretation:

By, Angel Russ
Let me tell you about my mom.
She is 100 years old.
My mom is special because…
She is a mommy
My mom helps me…
Clean my closet
My mom makes the best…
Brownies
My mom taught me how to…
Snap
I help my mom…
I help my mommy make
(“make” is our word for bake or cook in the kitchen).

I luv this!!

Here are a few more pics of her card she made for me and our fun time making pizza’s & giving gifts at the Stewart home today…

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