Friday, December 29, 2006
Here's a photo of our Christmas Loot. Before you start thinking that my kids are super-spoiled, let me just say that both of my brothers, their wives, my parents, and my grandparents all squeeze into my living room on Christmas. That totals 12 people, and there are no giving restrictions, so everyone has gifts for everyone else. It's a lot. That really big box on the left? It's a drill press for my dad. He was about as excited as dads get - which is not very - but secretly, I know he was jumping up and down, clapping his hands and squealing. But - imagine being a kid and waking up to that! Wow! As you can see, we gave the kids new bikes. But the BIG deal was that we built them a new playground in our backyard.
We managed to mostly keep this a secret as the guys built this during the two days before Christmas. Then we led them on a treasure hunt on Christmas morning, and wound up in the back yard where all the grown-ups were waiting ON the playground (up in the forts, on the swings, etc...) It was really cool. This was their Jesus' Birthday present - that's something we do every year. It's always something hand-made, and usually something really big and cheap. This year's was big anyway. One year, we made a puppet theater out of PVC pipe, one year I made a chalkboard out of a huge slab of plywood....you get the picture.
The Christmas season is a month-long ritual in our family. There are traditions that happen throughout the season. We watch White Christmas (Sigh - Bing makes me swoon), we give Jesus a birthday present (usually something like buying toys for needy kids), the girls buy Christmas jammies, the boys buy new tools and put up lights, we have a whole day dedicated to baking cookies.....it's so much fun! But the truth is, every year as I put up the tree, I struggle with reconciling the celebration to the meaning of the holiday. I mean, we all know that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th, and for some reason, that always bothers me. Doesn't it bother you, too? I'm not going to go crazy and stop celebrating or anything, but I think it's a stretch to say the tree symbolizes never-ending life (btw, mine's a fake tree, which makes it seem even less important somehow), the gifts we give to each other represent the gift of Christ to us, the candles represent the light of Christ - really, the list is long. Sometimes I feel like I could find a way to assign spiritual meaning to anything I wanted to include. So, every year I feel divided - like there are two separate celebrations going on. I am celebrating the birth of my Savior along with the Western tradition of Christmas.
On the other hand, though, maybe it's kind of like having a theme party. I like to do theme parties for my kids' birthdays. Having a pirate party or a tea party is a wonderful way to celebrate, but it has close to no meaning when it comes to celebrating the birth of my children. Maybe my mind will rest if, instead of trying to assign meaning to Santa and Shiny Brite ornaments, I just think of it as the party, and the entertainment is a big, fat guy in a red suit. Maybe, as long as I don't forget to take the time every year to sit down and reflect on what really happened, as long as I don't forget the big picture - the story of a life lived for all humanity, as long as I remind my children of the Reason we are celebrating, I can feel reassured that I haven't forgotten the Important Thing. Maybe this is what my parents have meant all along in their celebration, too. Maybe I'm just now getting it. Hm. Sometimes I'm a little slow.
DAILY BLISS: my husband took vacation time this week - it's so nice to have him around!!!
Friday, December 22, 2006
If you haven't figured it out by now, or if you didn't already know, my family celebrates the start of each new season. I think it's a great way for my kids to be aware of their environment, to give praise to the Creator, and to learn the stories He tells us through the seasonal cycles. So, today is the Winter Solstice - the first day of winter. This one usually gets lost in the shuffle of Christmas, to be honest. We have so many special things that we do for the other seasons, but I have struggled with this one. I have managed a traditional breakfast, though, as pictured above. Just in case they are too crude to decipher, they are donut snowmen. My black icing was a little drippy this year, and their heads all fell off before I took this picture (on my dirty countertop - see earlier post about holiday house cleaning), smearing the black gel everywhere. But, they are still snowmen - stacked up proudly on their white plates. The kids are currently devouring them at a very messy table. When I am busy, Emma helps herself to the art supplies and leaves paper mess everywhere, but mostly at the kitchen table. She is even messier than I am. We'll make snowflakes later - sometime between the last-minute errands and supposed house-cleaning. Ha! That always gets moved to tomorrow's list.
Anyway, we have been ravaged by influenza this week. The kids have both had it, and I seem to be fighting it off (sore throat and fatigue, but it hasn't gotten serious....). Andrew has been VERY sick - 103 fever and higher. We thought he was better yesterday, as his fever left for nearly 24 hours, then he spiked back up again last night, causing much maternal concern. He seems fine this morning, but we're going to take it easy. This will make it a little easier to fit paper snowflake cutting into our day. Some years, that gets set aside and the donut snowmen are the only thing that marks the change of season! Poor kids (insert sarcastic smirk).
DAILY BLISS: eating cheap powdered sugar donuts and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I have yet to register for next semester. I'm eyeing one class: Survey of Feminist Theology, but that'll probably be all I tackle this spring. I just about put myself out of my mind this semester, and I'm determined to learn my lesson and take it down a notch or two. Otherwise, I'll be blogging from a hospital somewhere if they'll untie my straight jacket.
I'm actually enjoying getting back to my life. As my load lightens mentally, I'm actually finding I forgot how I enjoy normal stuff like making cookies and Christmas candy, and making my bed. This Christmas will be our first spent just us four. I'm making my final trip to Wal-mart today to get all the groceries I need to make my Granny's dressing and all the other traditional eats my family has always had. I may not be able to see their faces, but thank God I learned how to duplicate what they will be tasting!! Goes to show what a comfort food can be... my hips are also evidence of that fact. I may be a city girl now, but there's an iron skillet on my stovetop, seasoned nice and black, and I KNOW how to use it. Haven't forgotten where I came from.
I have vivid memories of watching my mom and my Granny make food as a kid. Granny used to mix up the dressing with her hands. She made biscuits that way too. Guess it's the time of year, or all these food memories, but I miss her more than usual. Mackenzie was just a toddler when she went to heaven. I can't help wondering what she would say about how Mackenzie has grown, about the crazy turns my life has taken. I hope most of all I've handled life like she did... with the grace and beauty of a delicate flower and the strength of steel. She was a lady through and through, but she "knew when to hold 'em" so to speak. (are you thinkin' of the song? me too!! ha!) Isn't that what Jesus would call "as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove?" Of course He would, and that's just where she got that perfect mix of softness and steel. Right from Him. Guess that's where I'll get it too, and maybe if I can show Mackenzie how to fall in love with Him, He'll produce it in her as well.
.... sigh... I've just rambled, but it's nice to pour out some pent up thought... even if it's completely random.
In case I don't write again, Merry Christmas to you, friends! May you remember that the birth of Jesus was indeed the beginning of the most wonderful occurrence in the history of man. Zechariah (John the Baptist's dad) called Jesus' birth the "Dawn from on High." Indeed it was. That baby Jesus was the Sunrise signaling the end of a very long, dark night for humanity. I love that thought, and I love living in His new day. May you treasure Him this Christmas.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
But a few new things struck me this time around. They ran straightaway to find Jesus. They didn't stop and pick up a baby gift at the Bethlehem Wal-Mart (I'm sure they wouldn't have shopped at Macy's). They didn't think about grabbing food for their trip, or whether they would be welcome by a new mother who had never met them before. They were outcasts, so they were not concerned with social protocol. They just ran for it! I love that! I hope that I would run with abandon and without thought at the promise of meeting my Savior too!
And that's another thing - I know the angels told them and all, but they went running toward a promise - to a hope. Verse 20 says, "The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!" It seems like it wasn't until they came back that they fully realized it was all true - almost like there could have been some doubt - and then they partied. They weren't even really sure what would be waiting for them in Bethlehem. They probably couldn't comprehend it - but they ran to find it anyway! Oh, they saw the angels and heard what they said, but a Savior? A baby? In a stable? Come on. Then, after it dawned on them that it was all so wonderfully true, they partied - they rejoiced!
I think the shepherds were my kind of people....
DAILY BLISS: watching White Christmas - it's a tradition....I could listen to Bing Crosby sing all day long
Saturday, December 16, 2006
This morning, we had breakfast with Santa. Apparently, he has a thing for Chick-fil-a.
We got a call from my brother (who works for Chick-fil-a) asking if we were going to be bringing the kids to the breakfast with Santa this year. I said I hadn't paid any attention and didn't know when it was. He told me it was tomorrow morning (he called last night at 10 PM, so he didn't say it was this morning at the time). Well, this is a ticketed event, and we were utterly unprepared, but he is well connected. He was in management at this store for a while, so he decided to meet us there for breakfast and get the kids in.
I must say that Emma was way more excited than Drew. Drew is getting to be much too big for this sort of thing - not that he believed in Santa to begin with, but the pretending is beginning to wear on him. We didn't tell them, though, until we were there and Santa and Mrs. Claus walked in. Since we were early, the Clauses came right over to our table and started talking to the kids. Mrs. Claus told Emma she loved her pretty hair (a sure-fire way to win Emma's affection), and loved her outfit. Drew played along and was nice. Welllll, he was nice, anyway. So, here are a couple of photos:
DAILY BLISS: I got invited to a Christmas party! We had a good time, too - made some new friends.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The boys have a tradition during Christmas that they call "tool day." They started this because the girls did an annual Christmas jammie day (when we all get to buy new Christmas jammies) and they all felt a little left out. So, on the day that they put up the lights on all four family homes in town, they also go to the big boy toy store (where the people wear orange aprons) and pick out a new tool. Then they go out to eat meat. Usually barbecue.
Anyhoo, the boys were going out, and their day didn't coincide with jammie day this year, so Emma and I went out to dinner ourselves. It was delightful, even if the wait for a table was much longer than any Wednesday should call for. What a lift for me. Lovely company and delightful conversation.
We came home and turned off the lights, plugged in the Christmas tree and just looked at it. She was telling me which ornaments held the most joy. The winner was the Bethlehem one because it told about Jesus. Second place went to the "pure" ones - white ones, I guess - because baby Jesus was pure. Honestly - she made this up on her own! I just love it.
DAILY BLISS: singing Christmas songs in the car with my kids
Feels so good to be out from underneath that weight. I can already feel the rest of my life crowding in for attention. Somehow, I gotta find a way to revel in this! My neuroses tend to keep me wound up tight looking for the next achievement. But, know what? WHO is asking me to run around like a crazy woman trying to be super special?? NOBODY BUT ME, that's who!!! Time to step back and take an inventory. I've become so overloaded, mentally, emotionally, and physically, that I don't even know which way's up anymore. Time to dump out the basket that is me and figure out what I'm carrying around that doesn't really need to be in there, what is it I WANT to be carrying, and how do I lighten the load?
The last couple of months have been hellish inside for me. But hey, let's lift our celebratory glass of whatever and toast the fact that I no doubt surface from the yuckiness with a different perspective. So maybe the next time you see a ridiculously happy woman skip by with a basket of perfect weight loaded up only with what she loves, that'll be me! This is starting to unravel, and I'm not sure it makes sense anymore.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Though this is the Christmas season, there are still birthday parties to go to, porches to paint and groceries to buy. I guess it just stinks to be a grown-up this time of year. Nobody hands you glue, glitter and scissors and asks you to make pretty snowflakes. Instead, you have to make sure Junior and Little Miss have hand-made gifts to pass out to classmates, friends and family, along with the incredible, "easy," hand-made gifts from the kitchen that you are also supposed to hand out from yourself to all the people I just mentioned.
The truth is, though, I don't know anybody that really expects that. We all think that everybody does, but "everybody" is such a vague acquaintance. Who are those people? Some people think that's who I am. I think I've decided to destroy their foolish illusions this year. Nobody's gettin' ANYTHING homemade from me this Christmas. Unless you happen to stop by my house on the 23rd. That's when I'll be baking Christmas cookies. I always like company in the kitchen, and you are welcome to pull up a chair, have a warm cookie and some hot tea or coffee and visit while I have fun. But don't expect that it's going to be clean yet. I'll clean on Christmas Eve. It hasn't happened since before Thanksgiving, and I don't expect it to happen anytime soon.
How do you like that, "everybody?"
DAILY BLISS: Being almost done with my shopping and being really excited about what I decided to give my brother. It makes me giggle every time I think of it!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
DAILY BLISS: dressing up for a night out
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Anyway, by the time 8:30 AM rolled around, I was already in full-shopping mode. This is surprising to any of you who have actually seen me at 8:30 in the morning. I don't mind if everyone knows that I tend to be a bit frowsty until somewhere around, say, 10:00. I had tossed together my best cover-up-the-sins-of-Thanksgiving-and-leave-room-for-Christmas-cookie-debauchery clothes, managed to find shoes that sorta matched. I was headed up the sidewalk to the bookstore, hoping to make this one stop function as three or four by purchasing gifts for birthdays AND Christmas and classroom gift exchanges. I was minding my own business.
A construction worker stepped out in front of me and told me he liked my top. I mean, that is a quote. He said, "I really like that top!" with a grin and a pointed finger. And not in any way that could be construed as gay. He was flirting with me! It really doesn't matter that he was 10 years older than I am and he was kinda scruffy (I'm much more comfortable with scruffy people, anyway). It's just nice to be noticed - frowsty face and comfy clothes and all. Plus, guys just don't hit on 30-something mothers-of-two who drive aging green Cadillacs. I can't figure out why.
So, that's how my day was made. I did have concern that when one's day is made at 8:30 AM, it's bound to go downhill from there. It didn't, though.
DAILY BLISS: Lunch out with my hubby, who was working in town. He pretty much never does that.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
DAILY BLISS: peppermint ribbon candy and a high of 70 degrees!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
"A green shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding Branch. "
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I love this season in the church! We always try to celebrate Advent creatively in our community, and I wanted to share our celebration with you. The first candle in the Advent wreath symbolizes prophecy or hope (there are many different traditions and themes, but these are the most common). We took the concept from the above-mentioned scripture in Isaiah, along with others, and made a Jesse tree in church today. For those of you who celbrate Advent already, this is a familiar idea, but for the sake of those who don't, I'll fill you in a little bit. I found a stump (on the side of the road!!!) that we used to represent the family of Jesse, the lineage of Jesus, and we used a twig to be the "green shoot," representing Jesus. We lit the candles and spent some time meditating over the prophetic names of Jesus mentioned in Isaiah 9:6 and in other scriptures, and each of us selected a name that held personal meaning , wrote it down on a leaf and attached it to our twig.
In some households, this even takes the place of a Christmas tree, and the children create ornaments each night to add decoration to it based on the scripture reading for that night. Generally, the study goes through the lineage of Christ and ends with the Nativity story as you near Christmas Day.
Anyway, I don't suppose I have anything too poetic to say about it. I'm much too exhausted for that! We are taking a painting break tonight, though, to wrap Christmas presents. Yay! It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
DAILY BLISS: Watching my dad, brother, husband and son put up our Christmas lights. I'll post some photos tomorrow, maybe.....
Friday, December 01, 2006
I have been working hard on my house. Really hard. Not just that, but we traveled for Thanksgiving and now have Christmas preparations underway. So, my schedule is something like: up really early, make kids' lunches, get kids dressed/hair fixed, receive daytime baby from his mommy, schlep everybody off to school, run one errand that I can do before baby's nap, put baby to bed, change into painting clothes, climb the ladder and paint for an hour, wake up baby, feed baby, run one more errand before baby's next nap, put baby to bed, change into painting clothes, climb up the ladder and paint for an hour, wake baby up to pick kids up from school....well, you get the idea. once I get my own kids to bed, I hoist myself up on the ladder one more time to paint for another hour or two and sometimes make it to bed before midnight. I forgot to mention that I must clean up at least some and change into real person clothes every time I come off the ladder. Anyway, I'm really exhausted. My whole body is just aching, and I am really sleep-deprived. It would take three pots of coffee to wake me up, but I just can't do that to myself. At some point this week, I just gave up on the cleaning-myself-up part. I'm just running around town in a paint-splattered ponytail and with paint-splattered skin. I even found a warpaint-like stripe on my face today as I glanced in the rearview mirror of my car.
Anyway, on to that moment. It came time to pick up my kids from school today. We have to wait in the car line, and all of you who are moms out there know what I mean. You have to get there at least twenty minutes before school gets out, or you have a really bad place in line, which means you're going to be idling in your car for 30 minutes or so. What is a mommy to do? I usually listen to the radio. I listen to all the bad stuff that I don't let my kids listen to yet. Today's choice was Led Zeppelin. I always stop channel-surfing for Led Zeppelin. This is a little-known fact. Then, once I stop, I turn up the radio really loud. I know it's pretty dirtball, but I kinda am a dirtball.
All of a sudden, I was lifted out of my bleary-eyed haze to see myself, covered in paint, wearing a dirty, paint-y ponytail, sitting in my really old Cadillac (all of the other moms drive expensive SUV's - this is also a game I play in car line called "count the SUV's" in which I count how many there are before the row is broken by a sedan. The sedan is usually a Mercedes. The SUVs are often Cadillacs, but my Cadillac is non-SUV and it's as old as my marriage. At least. And it's green.)....anyway sitting in my old car, while Robert Plant tells me how much love he has. I guess it's a whole lotta. I was singing along. It occurred to me at that moment that I really didn't fit in. Not even in car line.
DAILY BLISS: Being paint-y and not really caring what anybody else thinks.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Today I experienced something wonderfully profound and got the jump start of inspiration I needed. I had coffee with a friend. Not just any friend. This friend and I have suffered an irreparably broken relationship. Irreparable by most people’s standards, anyway. God has brought an incredible healing to our relationship. I’m not sure either of us can understand it. We kind of just giggle and throw up our hands, not sure we can believe something this wonderful is possible.
We talked for a couple of hours, laughed and truly enjoyed ourselves. I left and on the drive home I couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus and the cross. I realized that His cross has taken on yet another dimension of meaning in my life. I realized that the healing I have experienced was personally bought by Christ as He bore my pain and mistakes on the cross. It was handed to me as a gift, a gift so extravagant and priceless that I’m left with no way to even comprehend it. Because of His suffering, I have been given grace. His grace has made it possible for my friend and I to look into one another’s eyes after deep pain and hurt, and extend true friendship with no shame, no regrets, and no hesitation. The road to this healing hasn't been easy for either of us. We've had to learn to set aside painful feelings, to sacrificially forgive, and to let go of any right to revenge. We didn't have to mend this friendship. It took a lot of painful work to get here.
But know what? In my opinion, for us to do any less than embrace the forgiveness and healing that God has brought to us would be a sad disrespect to His suffering and sacrifice for us. My Jesus died a messy, ugly, painful, embarrassing, agonizing death so that I could have this kind of restoration. How dare I do anything but embrace it, bask in it, and enjoy it like the humbly grateful daughter I want to be. I always knew God was big. He’s blown my mind by showing me just how incredible He is. He’s made the impossible possible for me.
I’m really doing a terrible job of communicating the awesomeness of what God has done. Maybe someday the whole story will be for the telling. For now, maybe you’ll be inspired to explore and embrace the impossible restoration and forgiveness God wants to bring about for you. Or maybe you’ll just think I’m nuts!! Either way is ok.with me. I was just too excited not to write something. about how God amazed me today.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I've emerged from Thanksgiving indeed thankful for the supportive and loving family and friends I have. I could never survive without them. Now... to make it two more weeks through final exams and I'm FREE!!!!!
Coming soon! New Woman on the Edge site. CAN'T WAIT!!!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
DAILY BLISS: My own bed. Sigh.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Maybe some specific conclusions from the chapters later. For now, suffice it to say that a deep discussion of Ezra was a definite stepping stone toward getting out of the pit of frustration I've been in. Good ole Ez!!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
We had a lot of fun this Halloween. I'm just going to post a few pictures here. They are self-explanatory. But....I can never resist a little explanation.....so:
We have Andrew as Clark Kent/Superman. He was very particular about his hairdo. We have Emma as a heavenly angel. She always picks out something with wings. And then we have me and my sister-in-law Mindy. We wanted to dress up too, so we put on some eyelashes and black stuff to pass out candy. We sat on my porch and ate the good parts out of my trick-or-treat bowl and sipped apple cider while Chris took the kids to the good neighborhood for candy :) Ha!
All the time I'm thinking these thoughts of longing for what once was, I know in my mind I don't really want that. This sensation makes me feel like I might go nuts. This reminds me of something. When I was having Levi, I went to "the zone." I see women go there all the time on A Baby Story! It's when the physical pain is such that you just exit yourself for a while. You go out of your mind. You are reduced to nothing but instinct or natural physical reaction to what you are experiencing. You are no longer making coherent thought, you just try to survive the pain. At one point, I needed to stop pushing because the umbilical cord was around Levi's neck. The midwife couldn't really make me understand what I needed to do. I remember my mother getting close to my face and telling me I had to stop pushing for a minute. She held onto my hand and talked right to my face. For a few seconds that actually felt like years I was totally helpless and simply followed her every direction because I was helpless to do anything else.
It occurs to me that this mental pain feels like the zone. And I feel like God is doing just what my mom did that day. He's holding my hand and giving instruction for the next few seconds. It's this intense, searing desperation for Him that I know is brought about by pain. I also know this produces, as my past pain has, an intense and deep bond with Him that is so intimate, so personal, it almost defies words. It does defy words. Even this minute I wish I were able to explain how it feels...
So what does all this mean? My pastor tells me all the time that Christ wants to live through me. Christ wants to do life FOR me. So maybe a stubborn girl like me needs to visit the zone every once in a while. A place where I have no CHOICE but to let Him do it for me because I am a helpless heap of humanity that is literally unable to function without Him. I know He's my only hope. He's the only thing Good about me. I desperately love Him, and I don't know what else to do but hang onto Him.
Feels strange to have bared my soul in this way. But I hope to let someone see that real Christ-following isn't just Sunday school lessons and casserole dishes. It's real, messy, passionate, intense LIFE that sometimes feels as though it might tear you in two and sometimes feels as though you will explode because of your inability to contain the joy, and ALWAYS brings an unspeakable awareness that you have encountered and are not merely encountering but entering into intimacy with the God of All. Bottom line: It's worth it. He's worth it. To hold inside me the incredible mystery of my spirit wrapped up with the Spirit of God is WORTH IT.
Here's me laughing about my pumpkin - I'm wearing my favorite apron.
Here's my son being a typical boy.
And here's an action shot of all the festivities!!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I am making this pumpkin bread for tomorrow's church breakfast. We have our church in our living room for those of you (ha! like I have readers!) that don't already know. On Sunday mornings we have breakfast together and worship together around my piano. We sit in the living room and discuss scripture. It's different, I guess, than what most Christians do on Sunday morning, but it suits us just fine!
I am particularly looking forward to tomorrow morning. We are going to put tables in our back yard, eat an alfresco breakfast, worship in the cool morning air, and then we are all going to carve pumpkins!! I have two lovely pumpkin specimens in my living room awaiting the painstaking removal of their innards and strategic portions of exterior flesh. They look a little bit like Bert and Ernie. One is tall and lean, the other short and squatty.
Y'all know I love any excuse for a theme party. So, our little church will be partying tomorrow morning, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the works of our Creator. All while dining on the flesh of the poor victims of our carving knives.
I'm really glad I'm not a pumpkin, although I admittedly resemble the Ernie pumpkin just a little bit.....
DAILY BLISS: Progress on the living room built-in that was begun nearly two years ago. It may take forever, but it will be a bastion of stability to be sure. I could camp out in the top cabinet and it would not even wobble.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Anyway, both of the kids went to a friend's house for a sleepover and we went out for the loveliest steak dinner - such a gorgeous filet and it was practically fork-tender, served with scallopes too!Yummy! The company wasn't half-bad either (wink). I got all gussied up too. I felt like I was such a hottie that I asked Chris to take a picture of me. It didn't go well. The camera batteries died upon initialization. I'll post a photo if I find that there is one there when I check it out and/or recharge the batteries.
Anyway, once we had spent half our week's grocery budget on one restaurant meal (yikes!), we moved on to what all 12-years-married couples do on a night when the children are gone. Chris went to Home Depot with my dad and I came home to work on a Halloween project for the kids' school. Really.
I'm not complaining or anything. It's super nice to go about one's business in the evening without interruptions for after-lights-out bathroom trips and extra glasses of water (methinks the two could be related)! Mostly, I just think it's really funny that this does not bother me. Dinner was special - and enough. We don't HAVE to do more to feel like we had a special night. I catch myself in this very moment with a huge grin on my face. Does this mean that we are content or that we are complacent? Maybe that's a choice we have to make. I'm going with content.
DAILY BLISS: Steak and beer and not cooking (My apologies to my Baptist and Assemblies of God friends - I come from a German Lutheran family. We drink beer.)!! Woohoo!
Psalm 139:7 "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me."
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
All that to say, though, that it was pretty nice. I sat on my porch with a pitiful bowl of oatmeal and listened to my windchimes singing a blustery sort of song as the first cold front of the season blew in. I pulled my winter clothes down from the top shelf of my wardrobe (note: winter clothes in Florida means long-sleeved tee shirts), snugged up in some wooly slippers, made my bed and then took a nap on it, surrounded by all of my fluffy, shabby chic pillows. I discovered that my sheer cotton curtains do indeed billow in the breeze when the windows are open, as I suspected they would. This is really quite beautiful. I even ate M&Ms for lunch. Comfort food, indeed! Looking forward to my sister-in-law's visit. She felt sorry for me, as I hope you do, and offered to bring by some hot apple cider and some company of the not-sitting-too-close kind. Can you see my pouty lip from all the way over there?
I'm quite sure it will be much better tomorrow. But before that happens, I'm hoping to work in a plea for take-out dinner tonight. You know - I wouldn't want to prepare food for my children and possibly pass this on to them in the process (wink, wink)!
DAILY BLISS: Silence. No music, no little voices, no tv, just open windows and silence.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Lo and behold, that sweet smell attracts little tiny hummingbirds!!! I had no idea that they lived in Florida. Now, I am spending every dawn and dusk outside stalking the hummingbirds.
This is definitely a change in lifestyle. Normally, dawn is spent guzzling coffee (not that I don't do so on the porch), and dusk is spent collapsed on the couch. So, at least I'm outside.
I am completely captivated by their tiny bodies and their thrumming wings. They almost look like big bugs and I would have mistaken them for such were it not for my observant brother, who pointed them out to me last week. He bought a feeder for them on the same night, but so far, they prefer the flowers. I guess I can't blame them too much.
That could suffice for my daily bliss today, but.....
DAILY BLISS: Parent/teacher conferences and straight A's all around (well, straight S's for my kindergartener, but....same difference!)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
So, I just want to say thanks to a couple of friends who gave me a pause which helped me to remember to think today. I had a great time chatting with Becky today. We talked some about taking responsibility for mapping out one's own life. We talked some about listening to the voice of our Heavenly Father and not evaluating our reality by comparing it to someone else's reality. Also thanks to a high school friend, Tim, whose blog I faithfully read (http://bridges4christ.blogspot.com/). He posted, I guess, yesterday about grace. This has been something that I've been chewing on in my own life for a little while. I've talked a little bit here before about accepting the gift that God offers to us in the form of grace. I think that we perfectionists, we goody-two-shoes, try really hard to make it on our own. We punish ourselves severely for our mistakes (well, I know I do anyway), and try so hard to make all the right choices. But I think that this behavior actually rejects what God has offered to us. Imagine that! Rejecting a gift from God! Well, I have long since decided that I'd rather open the box and enjoy the present, if that's not carrying the metaphor too far!
So anyway, my brain has been trying really hard to reconcile those two moments of thought today. How do you take responsibility for your life without punishing yourself for the inevitable mistakes? Sheesh! I think they're connected somehow, these two conversations (well, I guess I didn't really converse with Tim, I just read his blog and subsequently posted an utterly mediocre comment). At any rate, this is not a desperate quest for answers, just a "hey - here's what I'm thinking about today" kind of a post.
I feel like I'm trying to push a stalled car here. The first push is always the hardest, but once you get it rolling, it gains momentum. My trains of thought are kinda stalled out right now. This is taking a lot of effort.
So, my friends, thanks for reminding me to think today!! I am enjoying it immensely. BTW, I promise I'm not as dense as I sound in this post.
DAILY BLISS: The discovery that I am not above Shrek Ogre Essence bubble bath. It sorta smelled like green apples, I guess. Desperate times, you know.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I had just sat down to my lunch when I heard a rumble of thunder. It has been a while since I have heard any thunder, and during this intermission, I have attained an entirely new front porch – the perfect venue to take in God’s beautiful way of watering His garden! So, I grabbed my bag of apple slices, headed out the front door, and snagged a front row seat. By the time I sat down, sheets of gray had already begun to roll in from the north, telling me that the sun shining through the slats in the railing would be soon departing.
Then, my wind chimes quietly informed me that they would be narrating this particular performance, standing as interpreters between Mother Nature and myself. They conferred with each other in hushed tones as the sky rumbled and forewarned. Then they began to sing to me. It was a Gentle and Sweet sort of a song and the trees bowed in agreement with their interpretation of the scene.
This went on for quite some time, and I deeply appreciated the romantic sensibilities of the song. But, after much discussion among themselves, the copper tubes decided it was necessary to change their song. It became a Gusty and Excited sort of a song and the trees agreed even more strongly.
They were soon joined by the percussive thumps of fat raindrops on the wide, green leaves of the hibiscus to my left. This began slowly and loudly, but as they were joined by more and more drops of rain. In their excitement, they began to take over the song.
The wind chimes conceded, fading into the background, agreeing with each other that this Thunderstorm sort of song was even more magic than theirs.
My nose was forced to accept the sting of wet dirt and grass, and the chimes sang only when they felt they had something important to say. Soon, though, the performance became so exuberant that my jeans were quite damp, from the ankles to the knees, and I knew it was time to come back inside so that the rain could feel comfortable doing whatever it wanted to do, without fear of offending me by soaking my new porch.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Ok. Everybody knows the story of Esther, right? I've known it since I was a kid, but I've never thought about Esther's predecessor much until the last couple of days. Vashti was queen before Esther. She got stripped of her royal title and banished from the kings presence as punishment for her refusal to appear before him so that he could show her off during a drunken party. I've never noticed before how her stand caused such great fear among the men. They were afraid her refusal would inspire other women to do the same.
Esther is often praised for her courageous act of approaching the king to intercede for her people, but no one mentions Vashti and the courage it must have taken for her to refuse the kings command in the way she did. She had to have known there could be severe consequences for her actions. Yet, she still stood against the king's lewd command. Her stance was a threat to the men. They were frightened by her assertion of control, fearing that she would remove control from them.
Vashti lost her royal title as a consequence for refusal to obey the king. I wonder if she felt alone, afraid, or even regretted her unpopular stance. It's not easy to live an inspiring, passionate life, unapologetic about your beliefs. Sometimes, owning your passion and going for your calling can be a lonely thing to do. So, hey Vashti, thanks for going for it!!!
So just for fun, here's a pic of my latest accessory! Another ear piercing! With my short hair, I'm havin' fun bedazzling my ears!
Friday, October 06, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
You can see that I'm very excited about all of this. That's a light green on the left, and the beige for trim on the right. The middle green will be kind of like the house's eyeliner. It will just go around the window sashes. I tried out the paint scheme tonight. Being the smart consumer, I purchased quart-sized samples of my top candidates and painted a big splotch on the front of my house. I'm sure that my neighbors will really love this, because, if previous do-it-yourself projects are any indication, it will be at least seven years before the house actually gets painted. Ah well.....I can revel in the knowledge of fresh paint anyway.
I really like to paint things. It feels so fresh and clean every time! You know, even if you can't seem to scrub all the dirt out of that one corner above the baseboards in the bathroom, you can always seal it in with a fresh coat of paint. That's my kind of housework!
DH on the floor doing math homework with the boy and the little curls that fall out of my little girl's braids.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
A) I've gotten too lazy to look for good reading material
B) I'm only reading at 10:00 in the evening
C) Starbucks philosophy is just that good!
Picking out a novel in the bookstore for my son's book report. It's really great to pass on my love of books - oh wait! Maybe I just answered my own question. I'm spending too much time in the children's book section!
Friday, September 29, 2006
I pulled up to my house today after running errands, and caught sight of a vision that sent tears jumping out of the corners of my eyes!! Take a look at my porch today:
It is JUST how I have imagined it and it isn't even done yet!!! You can see where the steps have yet to be poured in the front, but you get the idea. It's finally coming together. It's going to be even more fabulous after I paint, and I'll try really hard not to post more pictures until that point in time.....just to avoid overexposure!
Anyway - that's all for today. Nothing profound, nothing thought-provoking. Just tears over my porch, I guess.
DAILY BLISS: Pumpkin spice lattes made with soy milk and Halloween costumes.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
In my attempt to treat myself to the escape of a good book, I picked up an intriguing story called Mozart's Sister. Did you know that Mozart had a sister who was equally as talented as he? Her name was Nannerl Mozart. Author Nancy Moser has done an incredible job of telling her story in a beautifully written, well researched historical fiction novel based on Nannerl's life! Nannerl Mozart was denied the prestigious opportunities that Wolfgang had because she was a girl. But more than a statement about inequality among the sexes, Mozart's Sister is a thought provoking story that is challenging me to think about my purpose, my calling, and my gifts. In the dedication, Moser writes something I think is incredibly profound:
"To all who live in this amazing age of opportunity. Waste no chance to carry out your God-given purpose. Too many have not had the luxury of CHOICE."
So here's to you, Nannerl Mozart! And here's to God for the purpose He's woven into my being. I determine to faithfully live out that purpose no matter how it scares me. How dare I do any less in light of those like Nannerl who had no opportunity to do so!
So much for Mind Candy!!! This is something to chew on!!!
I mean, it's OK, but it just isn't my dream house, you know? I love porches. I even have a book about porches. I dream of sitting on my porch with a mug of hot cider on a cold night with a blanket and a book. I dream of hanging patriotic bunting from my porch rail in the summertime. I dream of having a hammock even - but this may be far-reaching.
At any rate, I have spent hours and hours with graph paper and issues of magazines like Country Living, Country Home, Cottage Style and Bungalow Style dreaming, designing and planning. And finally, my day has come. My porch is now under construction. Here's what it looked like after the first day - Demolition Day:
That's my sweet hubby on the left, surveying the damage. We paid somebody else to do it so he wouldn't have to. And that's my friend that I'm paying to do the porch on the right.
So, here's what the porch looked like yesterday with my fat craftsman-esque columns basically constructed:
Anyway, I suppose there is a universal appeal to a front-porch lifestyle. I'm expecting that having a front porch will be life-changing. Well, maybe not expecting, but hoping. Well, maybe not life-changing, but life-slowing. Not that it will reduce the number of ballet practices or after-school clubs my kids are involved in, and not that it will turn off the noise of modern family life, but I guess that I hope I will hear it calling my name in the middle of my life, and that the call will lure me outside to have a cup of tea, and for five mintues now and again, make me feel like my life has slowed down. I guess that's kind of how dreams are - they're things you shoot for even if you never get that far.
So, now that the silly dreams of my own mind are out there in public, I'll bid you farewell. More updates will come - there are lots of beautiful details being added to my columns today, front steps are being poured out of concrete, and railings will be added between the columns. And when that's done - PAINT!! Yahoo!!
DAILY BLISS: Chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven, made with my kids' help!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
So.....I'm a total freak. I'm sure you've already guessed that if you've read any of my blog at all. But, I really love autumn. I spent my childhood in Minnesota, and it was always so beautiful when the weather turned cool and the leaves turned colorful. Then we moved to Florida. The most colorful season we have is the muted green of spring. I say muted green, because it's never even that beautiful bright green that comes after everything dies for the winter and comes back to life in the spring. We just don't have much in the way of seasons here.
But I celebrate the change of seasons with my family anyway. I think it's important that my children are aware of God's earth - how its seasons are metaphoric for the seasons in our lives, how there is a constant cycle of death and birth....you know....all that deep, poetic stuff that only nerds and poets think about.
We have our rituals for every season, but fall is my favorite! Every year, I hold out the hope that by tossing silk leaves about and serving apple cider and cinnamon-laced desserts, somehow Autumn will hear me calling her and come to visit me here in Florida. She never does, but that hope never seems to die.
This year, we hosted a dinner. I've done this before, but it's been a couple of years. I've spent two days baking and cutting up squash and sweet potatoes! Yummy! Here's a photo of the table in my backyard:
We gathered so many of our dear ones together and everyone enjoyed a bountiful feast! I know that everyone is going to think that I'm crazy now. But here's the thing - I'm not all about being Martha. The dinner was forty-five minutes late getting to the table. Everyone was hot and sweaty, since apparently Miss Autumn didn't hear me calling. It wasn't perfect. But it was so beautiful! Looking down that long table and seeing the ones I love - my friends AND my family all in one place - my grandma, my mom and dad, my friends and some of their parents, my friends and their babies, my brothers and sisters-in-law. What a beautiful reminder of God's Earth and its seasons, and of His people and their seasons.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Anyway, we had a few casualties the first night, and I presumed that most of them would perish within a few days, due to the chlorine in the pool (the levels of which were obviously not high enough, but I assumed there must at least be some). I knew of their supposed fate because I spent an extensive amount of time Googling the care and raising of tadpoles. Chlorine is their enemy. You are even supposed to buy special water conditioners if you are keeping them in tap water.
Well, I already was going to have to buy some goldfish food for these guys to eat, and I really didn't want to invest in water conditioners, knowing that these guys would be dead in a matter of days. I decided on the tactic that we used with our goldfish (which probably explains their limited life spans) - if you leave the tap water out for 24 hours, the chlorine supposedly dissipates.
There never seemed to be that much time to just let the water sit around, though, and we presumed that overnight would be just fine.
They lived. They grew. And on Sunday, they sprouted back legs! Which really freaked me out! I hadn't expected them to live that long and knew I had read something about them needing something to climb on, due to the fact that they lose their ability to breathe through gills when their legs sprout! I panicked and grabbed a dirty rock out of my front yard. They have been just fine, and didn't even mess with the rock.
Until today. When the kids were on their way out the door to school, my son came running back in the house shouting incoherently about tads and legs (we have given them a collective moniker - tads). The front legs of one had burst out of its side, and it was now climbing out of the plastic box. He could barely contain himself! I guess they need rocks and real air once their front legs sprout.
Since the kids have been at school, another one also sprouted front legs. We will be taking them to a nearby lake as their front legs sprout. I have no desire to deal with 25 frogs jumping around on my front porch, not to mention the fact that I really don't want to try catching enough bugs to feed them......
Anyway, this little group of survivors is soon to be released into the wild, where I'm quite sure they will be eaten by a catfish. Oh well.
Giant ginger cookies baking in the oven, and my DH, home from his business trip, having earned several comp days to spend with me!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
So.....I made a real dinner. Artichokes and everything (yeah - my kids love them!). My daughter suggested candlelight since we were in the middle of a thunderstorm. Feeling a little giddy, I agreed.
They both wound up getting bathed and showered - Zing! I made homemade cookies for dessert - Zap! I even tackled the three loads of laundry that had been moved from my bed to my desk to my bed to my desk to my bed to the kitchen table (thinking this might make it seem more urgent) - Zow!
By the time the kids were in bed, I decided that, after the day's successes, I simply had to pull myself together for one last battle. Armed with the Scrubbing Bubbles and a brand new rag, I screamed out, "Yaaaaaaaarrrgh!" and charged into my shower! Most of you may not understand the pure risk involved in this maneuver. My shower, girls, hasn't been scrubbed in a time akin to the gestation period of a pachyderm. It's just nasty. There was serious danger of my being overpowered by Slimy Fingers of Living Grime (which might be a good name for a rock band - or at least an album).
Maybe it was the way my hair sticks up by this time of day, maybe it was some wild glint in my eye - whatever. I scared it into submission. Not only did I clean the shower, I cleaned all the pieces of the bathroom. At once. A feat not often accomplished in my home.
And so, I retire with a cup of jasmine tea. That's enough for one day. I wouldn't want anyone getting any ideas of what I could really accomplish if I just put my mind to it!
DAILY BLISS: Honestly - jasmine tea.
Suddenly, it all makes sense. The journey through some painful times, the daring call to New Orleans, the facing of some unlovely things about myself, the depression I've dealt with, and even the joyful moments have all been teaching me truths that fit the Woman on the Edge message. I've watched in awe as material for this conference flows out of email conversations, discussions, and thoughts I've journaled over the past year. I had no idea I was working on conference material, but here it is!! My jaw is dropping as God brings just the right women to the team and how He has ordered their lives with just the right experiences and truths as well.
Yet again, I marvel at God's incredible ability to orchestrate my life into something wonderful... in SPITE of me.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I have been pondering, lately, the sense of emotional weariness that plagues me now and again. I had concluded some time ago that I was one of the few women I knew who battled constantly to keep her heart intact. Eventually, I started to wonder what was wrong with me that I never could bring myself to lop off big parts of my self in order to just get through the time at hand. Everywhere we go, everything we do - from the time we are small - threatens to shred little bits of our hearts as women. I have seen this so often. Women shut down their dreams, kill little bits of themselves, just to deal with the hurts and disappointments that life brings.
So, I ran across a scripture that really encouraged me yesterday. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Then I thought about how I have always interpreted that verse. It seems that I have always thought it meant to lock away my heart - to keep it somewhere safe so that no one ever hurt it. But that conflicts with my need to have an impact on the world around me. I don't think anything is completely true and effective unless it comes from the heart. But nothing can come from the heart if it's shut away from the world.
But it doesn't say "lock your heart away." I got this picture of myself standing around a fortress - in some kind of medieval battle armor! Ha! Not very feminine, I guess. But I think that's more along the lines of what the scripture teaches. My heart must be what it is. It can't function unless it's open to the air. It has doors and the walls have tops - that is to say, there are points of entry and exit into my heart. But I must guard it. I have to discern whether something that approaches is safe to let in. And sometimes, I can't know, but I have to be ready to fight. I have to watch what comes out, too. Make sure that what I unleash on the rest of the world is beneficial.
Why? Because it's the wellspring of life! Isn't that the ultimate definition of the feminine? Isn't that one of the most beautiful ways that women reflect their Creator? We bring life into this world. I don't just mean babies, either. I mean Life, Beauty, Good Things. But only if we have a well-trained guard standing at the post.
An hour all by myself in the craft store! Wheee!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I guess, though, my point is that kitchen stuff and homemaking stuff is fun for me. It's how I express myself. But that isn't the definition of the feminine by any stretch. You alluded to that at the end of your post, B. Some very feminine women like to go rock climbing or are engineers. I think it has less to do with our tasks and more to do with our approach to our tasks. I think feminine women are alluring (if you don't like that word, insert "inviting"), warm, open and emotionally connected with themselves and the world around them. They long to be desired. They are irresistlbe because they know who they are and they are comfortable with themselves. Now, that's just a short list, but.....it's a start.
Hmmm. Now, my brain has just drawn a blank. Maybe I should get on to bed and continue this tomorrow......
Warm, soaking tropical rain with no thunder or lightning. ALL DAY! Woohoo! And building a fort out of sheets and a table with my kids.
So, in the spirit of celebrating my femininity, and because I ran out of the store bought kind, I attempted to make homemade mayonnaise. Let me warn you that those who tout "easy" mayonnaise making are LIARS! Before attempting homemade mayonnaise, one really needs to have a degree in chemistry!! I carefully followed the directions, and nearly burned up the motor in my very feminine stand mixer, but only came up with oil and egg yolk syrup. Nasty.
Frustrated, yet determined, I continued my quest. Since funds are low, and I'm scraping the bottom of my pantry as it is, I couldn't let myself lose this battle and waste what I had! Ugh! I did a search on google: "How to thicken homemade mayonnaise" which turned up some interesting information, along with the sad realization that I would have to count as loss the two egg yolks and cup of olive oil I had already sacrificed to my stand mixer. I began a second batch, this time using my whisk to blend the ingredients. I beat and I beat and I beat those yolks and then began to incorporate the oil, DROP by DROP, still beating all the time. This batch turned out better. It was thickening up nicely, but my arm was about to FALL OFF!! Plus the ingredients I was mixing were starting to trigger my gag reflex. At this point, I'm feeling anything but feminine.
Suddenly, the phone rang, interrupting my feminine celebration gone awry. I heard my husband's voice on the other end, and he, hearing the flustered banging of my whisk, gallantly offered to bring home a jar of mayo from the store on his lunch break. So as my knight in shining armor rode in on his steed to rescue me with a jar of Hellmann's, I began to think. Maybe femininity isn't something I've lost in the layers of my assertive, driven personality. Maybe it's always there, and maybe it's more than high heels and nail polish. Maybe I'm more feminine than I thought! So I thankfully grabbed the jar of mayo from my man and sent him off with a kiss. Perhaps I've celebrated my femininity in spite of myself!!
Regardless, friends, I've found an appreciation for some things storebought. Knowing firsthand where the "Hell" comes from in Hellmann's, I'll forever be grateful for that jar with the blue lid... and for the man who buys it and brings it home to his very feminine woman!!!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I cried a lot those first few weeks, and have cried many more times over the past year. Here we are a year later, and some days the tears are far from over. But you know what? Hope always rises to the top of the puddle of tears. Even on those days when the tears seem like an ocean, Hope's ship is still sailing, and guess who her Captain is? He's the Only One who has seen my deepest sorrow and most regrettable mistakes, but still welcomes me freely. He's the One whose arms I've run to with my sorrows time and again, and the One whose held me through storms before. So when Jesus reaches over the side of His ship of hope to catch me and pull me in, I welcome His embrace, I hold onto Him with everything I am, and I cherish those moments because it's then He's holding me closest.
Thank God for the ocean of tears, thank God for Katrina, and thank God for the chance she gave me to crawl up in His lap, with nowhere else to go, and see His face in a wonderful way.
Friday, August 25, 2006
In that spirit, I have grabbed for a few books that I've been meaning to read...and one that was recommended to me by some very reliable sources was The Barbarian Way, by Erwin McManus. It's what fell into my hands first, so I devoured it, cover to cover, in less than two days. If you haven't read it, I hope this will still make sense to you.....
It's so encouraging to have words that define my identity! It's so nice to know there are other people out there who think like I do and feel like I do and don't-fit-in like I do! But as I reached the end of the book, the following paragraph really seemed relevant to me, in light of the conversations Becky and I have been having, so I'm going to share it with you. He is talking about the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt: "It is no different for us. As it was for them, freedom is not a return to Paradise Lost (it's not safe back there anymore), but to a promised land that we must win. Like Israel, who longed for Egypt (this would be the wishing fog right here) because the journey was more difficult than the people expected, we must be aware of the temptation to return to the captivity from which we were freed. There is but one path to freedom. There is no easy road made available. We cannot claim to know Christ and to honor Him if we refuse the path He calls us to follow." Parenthetical statements added by me....of course.
I think that we have many crossroads in our lifetimes, but this has been a particularly difficult one for me. Maybe it's just my age. Maybe it's the many milestones and big changes that have occurred in my life this year. I don't know, really, what it is. But I know I have been standing there, just waiting, wishing, resting - whatever. I know where I'm headed, and I know Who will be with me, but it has really been more difficult than I expected.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
All of a sudden, looking at the back of his head, I remembered what he was like when he was two and when he was five and even last year. My heart just broke. I remember how his little body used to curl up next to mine on a regular basis. How I knew what his skin felt like and took it for granted. How I even sometimes just wished for a moment with nobody touching me. He gave me a big hug before we got up. The light was just passing. It struck me that he is almost the same size as I am now.
I'm young, and he still has much growing to do, but I think I'm starting to get it. I have begun to understand that bittersweet separation between a mom and her boy. And though my heart broke, I'm not entirely sure that it didn't mainly burst out of pride for who he is becoming and the matchless joy of holding him close to me one more time.
So, the changing of the light is fleeting, but so is my little boy. And I don't get to have another chance to catch it tomorrow, you know?
I love taking baths! I mean - I really love taking baths. I have taken to bathing in coconut milk - I just love how it makes my skin feel. Now, I usually add a little rum extract for a nicely scented bath, but today, on recommendation from none other than Becky, I added almond extract instead. It smelled like a macaroon! And when I stepped out, I almost felt like I was a warm, toasted coconut cookie. Yum!