Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just another exciting night in the Isom Household

Here is a post by my husband, Jeff. He's an occasional contributor to the blog, offering his perspective as a husband and dad.

Me: washing dishes downstairs
Boys: getting ready for bed upstairs
Ben: yelling "Dad! Dad! Kyle has a game piece up his nose!"

Well, at least we got it out without a trip to the ER.

Ben afterwards: "Mrs. Shuell said in Grossology that we shouldn't stick things in our ears...I guess that goes for noses too!"

And then we all dissolved into giggles


could it be?

Last weekend Jeff and I had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. It's fairly new, local, and cozy. I'd heard really good things about the food, and we'd been wanting to try some of their fare. It was simply wonderful! And while I don't really see us taking the whole family (small space, restless toddler, picky eaters...), I have a feeling that Jeff and I will be back again soon. Anyway, while we were there, we had an interesting conversation.

Basically, I think I'm finally becoming acclimated.

It's been almost 10 years since Jeff and I packed up our stuff, and, in January 2001, said goodbye to the only place we've really ever known. We moved from Kansas (a state where we both loved living) and moved to Oregon...and the unknown.

It's funny in retrospect that, in spite of the major change we were about to experience, I had no inkling of any "transplant" issues. At least, I don't remember any. I remember thinking of it as a big adventure - a surprising response for an introvert like myself. But there you go. When people would ask me, "Why Oregon?" I would just smile with assurance and say "That's where God seems to want us."

And it was! With amazing speed, He threw open the doors, and before you could say "cross-country move," we were in the Pacific Northwest.

In January.

It rains here in January. It rains a lot.

Yes, it was exciting. Finding a place to live, finding a church, starting to put down roots. But there were major growing pains. The weather was a huge change. But even more than that was the culture shock. Let's just say that liberal Portland is a pretty big departure from the Bible belt.

So yeah, it's taken a while to grow accustomed to our new place.

But something in my spirit seems to be shifting. I'm quite sure that that, 10 years ago, I never would've suggested a Lebanese restaurant for dinner. I'm growing accustomed to the landscape, the mentality, the people...perhaps (just perhaps!) even the weather. This autumn, when the rains began, I found myself burrowing down. Grateful for my warm, dry house. Grateful for an excuse to cuddle my little ones.

Over the plates of hummus, pita, and lamb pies, I told my husband that I was actually kind of enjoying the rain this autumn. It makes things seem...cozy.

He stared at me, jaw dropped. But I stood by the word I'd chosen. Yes...cozy. Though it may be cold and wet outdoors, our homelight - our love - burns bright. And so, I do say that, this year, the rain lends a cozy feeling to my home.

But please, don't quote me on that come January...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

a penny for your thoughts

Maya Angelou is credited with saying, "If, someone shows you who they are, believe them."

While I don't necessarily consider Maya Angelou a spiritual giant, something about this statement resonates with me. Possibly it's because I endured a betrayal this year, by someone I had formerly considered a friend. But at the risk of sounding blithe, what would Jesus say?

Is this attitude wise? Prudent? Discerning?

Or does it fail to allow for God's grace? Heaven knows we all need it.

As far as forgiveness goes, there's no doubt in my mind about that. Forgiveness is always, always God's will. But at what point is it appropriate to end a relationship? To say, "This person clearly isn't trustworthy. S/he is dangerous to my emotional health."

I don't have any answers here; I'm still trying to figure this out in my own mind. So, what do you have to say about it? I covet your thoughts, truly.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thankful me

Today I'm thankful for...

...the fact that I told my 2-year-old to go upstairs, take off his wet things, put them in the diaper pail, put on clean briefs, and he did it.

...my daughter's smile.

...the fact that I got both pie crusts for Thanksgiving dinner rolled out and into the pans just seconds before the baby woke up from her nap.

...my husband.

...the fact that my son loves books so much that he followed me through the store the other day while reading his new book.

...the safe travel we've enjoyed over the years.

...my warm, dry home.

...regular income.

...the fact that my parents, and my husband's parents, are still married to each other.

...my wonderful family.

...the wonderful family I married into.


...the sacrifice that Jesus made, and the knowledge that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

in the darkness

I wrote and posted this piece a little over two years ago, when Owen was a nursling. Now I've tweaked it, and am publishing it in honor of the little girl who needed me so much last night. It's an honor and a privilege to mother my children when they are sick...even during the night.

Together in the rocking chair
The house so quiet
She and I alone awake
Relaxing, her little body a sigh
Eyes closing again, a gentle tugging
Her tiny hand lightly running along my forearm
And back again
As if to reassure herself that even in the dark
I, as familiar as her own skin, am here
Holding her, snug on my lap
We are warm
Relaxing, together, in this dark quiet time

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

be kind

Why are we, as women, so cruel to ourselves?

The other day I spoke with a woman, and in the course of our conversation, she referred to herself as "chubby." I'm telling you, friends, this lady did not have ten pounds to lose. I would describe her as willowy...slender...slim. But she didn't see herself that way. Not at all.

For the past few months I've been mulling over the issue of women, weight, and society. The subject came up because the women's Bible study group I'm part of is doing Beth Moore's Esther study. It is phenomenal. The full title is "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman."

And boy, is it ever. Especially when we measure ourselves against society's standard instead of God's.

In the study book, she talks about the young girls gathered in Persia (Esther 2). They're described as "beautiful." So...beautiful. Young. And then what? They're given 12 months of beauty treatments. Bear in mind that these young ladies were already beautiful. They weren't the girls who needed "help." Alright...maybe they could've benefited from a new hairstyle. Perhaps their feet were a bit calloused...everybody can use a nice foot soak, right? But really...12 months? It seems rather excessive.

Perhaps the Persians suffered from the same quest for perfection which we modern women do. There is such pressure on us: often pressure we heap upon our own over-processed heads.

So, when I heard the word "chubby," that day, I immediately thought, "Why are we so cruel to ourselves?"

This is not a foreign concept to me. I've been plenty cruel to myself over the years. When I lost 60 lbs from 1998-2000, I did it through cruelty. I deprived myself. I didn't let myself eat anything that was truly delicious. And worst of all, I was mean. I called myself names. If I slipped up on my diet, I was merciless. No personal trainer could've shamed me more than I shamed myself.

And that's been so much a part of my relationship with my body, with food. When I "messed up," I would shame myself. If I wasn't the size I wanted to be, I would shame myself. Maybe if I was ashamed enough, I would shape up. Maybe if I was ashamed enough, I would behave myself.

It worked, sometimes. But the thing is, it didn't really work, not in any way that counts. Because in treating myself that way, I devalued myself. I treated myself like something - a thing - which must be beaten into submission. Instead of what I am: a vessel shaped by the hands of the Potter.

Health is important. Absolutely. America is in a health crisis. We need to seek health, to take care of these bodies we live in here on earth...no doubt about it.

Still. Let's learn to be kind to ourselves. To love ourselves. Let's give ourselves some grace. For the sake of our children, let's be gentle with ourselves. Ladies, I challenge you to go stand in front of a mirror. Start at the top, and spend some time thanking the Lord for his wonderful creativity. The way He created our eyelashes. How our joints work. The intricacy of the human hand. Thank Him for the way your body has supported your children - both before and after they were born. Thank Him for the ability to hold hands, stroke a cheek, embrace someone you love.

With all their "flaws," our bodies are amazing.

There's nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward. Accentuating your best features. Playing to your strengths. Yes, be healthy. Nourish yourself.

But please...accept who you are a precious child of God, exactly the way you are. Right now, in this moment. Not a few pounds down the road. Not just before you had the baby. But right now.

Sister, you are loved. Cherished, precious, exactly as you are. You can rest in that promise.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

you know you're a homeschooling mom when...

...your kids play-act the Trojan War, declaring that they are superheroes of Troy and Greece.

...your son says he wants a Nintendo DS to help him learn Roman numerals.

...you find the thought of leaving the house on more than one weekday morning utterly exhausting.

...you love the idea of scheduling school terms around your calendar.

...you take an abacus along when you visit Grandma and Grandpa's house.

...the kids get a day off when mom is sick.

...you sometimes turn on "Sid the Science Kid," and call it Science.

...you hope and pray that your kids will finish their Reading chapter before the baby wakes up from her nap.

...you have an Educator's Library Card in your purse, even though your profession is "homemaker."

...you can take the gang to have lunch out, even though it's the middle of the week.

...you get excited about ordering curriculum.

...your kids get excited when you declare a Game Day, even if it's math games.

...you're always keeping an eye out for caterpillars.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm from...

I'm from my dad's Mickey Mouse pancakes. His baking powder biscuits. Watching him cut up a chicken for my mom to cook. Hearing eggs called "cackleberries," and milk called "moo juice."

I'm from celebrating our close birthdays with my grandma. Two days apart. Sweet times.

I'm from sharing a bedroom with my brother when I was little. Living across the street from a small college campus, where we explored, pushed a stroller, and rode bikes. Attending campus worship.

I'm from moving twice during elementary school. New towns, schools, churches, friends. I'm from finding a Christian girl in my 5th grade homeroom class, who had also just moved, and whose name rhymed with my own. Blessed to have her as one of my oldest friends.

I'm from the plains. Wide open skies. The most spectacular watercolor sunsets. Rolling hills. The feeling of breathing deep in the open air.

I'm from a town with only one stoplight. I'm from it being a big deal with we got a McDonald's. I'm from a graduating class of 100, in a town populated by 4000 people. The Tulip Festival. Octoberfest. The Dutch Mill, the Independence Day Parade. Town pride.

I'm from comfort food. Meatloaf, casseroles. Potato-cheese soup. I'm from regular desserts. Whoopie pies. Chocolate cake. Butterscotch brownies, No-Bake Cookies in the summertime. Too many cookies to name, really.

I'm from the choir. Sixth grade. Junior High. High School. College. Church. I'm from the drama department. Willingly staying in the chorus. Loving the excitement of performing without the responsibility of a speaking part.

I'm from playing the recorder, the piano, and the trumpet...for a while, anyway.

I'm from keeping two guinea pigs. A cocker spaniel. Two cats. But rarely more than one kind of animal at a time.

I'm from playing with dolls. Generic, Cabbage Patch, Barbie. Birthday parties with my friend for a "baby's" birthday, complete with cupcakes. Writing novellas to chronicle the happenings in my Barbie-people's lives. Intricate storylines.

I'm from giving my heart to the Lord after hearing Luis Palau speak at a nearby convention. Having waited to commit until I knew it to be my own faith, I went down for the altar call. Saved at 13.

I'm from keeping diaries. Hearbreaks, hopes. Happy times, times of bitter loneliness. Circles dotting the "i"s and flourishes on the "y" of my name. Thrills, growing pains.

I'm from having God's hand on my life, whether I knew He was there or not.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

mommy confessions

~While I find toddlerhood incredibly charming, it so much makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

~I just searched my old blog posts in hopes of finding out when Owen got his first tooth. I still have no idea.

~Finally made these Pumpkin Cake Bars, and then I could not stop talking about how yummy they were.

~My daughter does not yet have a baby book.

~Contrary to what one might think, I do not love doing homeschooling. I'm not one of those people who just longs to be with my kids 24/7. But the thing is, I believe in homeschooling. And what's more, I feel a definite call to homeschool. So for me, it's more about obedience and the greater good, than the other things.

~I send my children outside to play, as much for my own well being as for theirs.

~Recently, I caught my baby trying to eat a dead spider. (shudder)

~I have been sucked into watching the farewell season of Oprah.

~After years of teasing my husband for his love of podcasts, I have inherited his iPod, and am now hooked on listening to broadcasts from Cheeseslave.

Friday, November 12, 2010

she is

Guess who's 9 months old?

Elise is!
Yes, as of last weekend, our pretty little darling is a whole three-quarters of a year old. At 9 months, she is...

...army crawling. She gets around pretty good, and while her method doesn't exactly keep her belly clean, it seems to suit her.

...crazy about vegetables! She'll eat almost any vegetables, but is fairly selective about fruit. Hey, I'll take it.

...adored by her brothers. And it's totally mutual.

...so happy that people rarely believe me when I say she needs a nap.

...a master crumb-finder. This girl explores the dining room, lingering under the table in hopes of finding debris from her brothers' meals. She's often successful. If there is food on the floor, Elise will zero in on it.

...not afraid to tell her big brothers when she'd had enough.

...still not keen on spending time in the car, but it's getting better.

...sleeping a delicious 10 or 11 hours without eating at night - and then sleeping a couple of hours more before she's up for the day.

...undeniably, absolutely, super excited about the fact that her first Christmas is coming up.

Oh wait...maybe that's just me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

home away from home

I'm taking a minute to share a few photos from our most recent sojourn at Grandma's house. (It's Grandpa's house too, but somehow that doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?)

Ben relished a chance to help Grandpa with the firewood.
Owen was quite taken with their new puppy, Cookie. I think it's safe to say the feeling was mutual.
The boys had a fun wrestle time with Grandpa...
Elise had the requisite sink bath...

...oh, and I did I mention that most of us had the flu while we were there? Good times. But...Grandma made chicken soup, and Jeff took care of the sad, sick little boys while I was sick in bed, myself. We could see God's blessings through it all (for example, the baby slept through a lot of nighttime angst) , and we survived.

So that's it: a taste of our visit to Idaho, our home away from home. Without the germs we unintentionally brought along as a hostess gift...