Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reader Survey: The Lowdown on Peeps

Title: Reader Survey: The Lowdown on Peeps

Subtitle: What's your opinion of these nearly glow-in-the-dark confections?  Love them? Hate them? See them as an annual guilty pleasure?  Fess up and share: are Peeps Easter delights or edible frights?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Good in Good Friday

Growing up, I never liked the idea of Good Friday.  Perhaps it was due to the name, which didn't seem accurate.  What could be good about nail pierced hands, a crown of thorns, and a cross?  Was it even permissible to be happy on a day that commemorates a crucifixion?

I think about this day differently now.

Within the last 24 hours, Brooke colored on the kitchen table with a pen, leaving behind permanent scribble.  Reese's carelessness resulted in a Google search on how to remove gum from a microfiber couch and berber carpeting.  They've nagged.  They've bickered.  They've gotten under my skin.

Yet, even during their most annoying moments -- moments when behaviors are unacceptable and attitudes are deplorable, moments when they're deliberately disobeying, I wouldn't need to think twice if they were put in harm's way.  I'd step in willfully.  I'd risk my own well-being to save them from harm.

As a parent, you know this.  Deep in your heart, you've looked at your children and felt the brunt of this sobering realization: you'd die for them.

That's the heart of God.

God knew that we were in harm's way.  Our sin had separated us from him, and he willingly risked his own well-being for our good.  Knowing that the cross would serve as the bridge to connect us again with God, he chose death.

This is good news.  It's not pretty.  It's not budding tulips, fluffy chicks, and pastel eggs as we're apt to distill Easter, but it's good in every sense of the word.  A holy good.

Yes, the day is named accurately.
Originally posted April 22, 2011.  Resurrected for today.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Cleaning, Growing Tulips, Getting Dirty, Eating Smores, Watching Golf, and the Birthday Season

Typical of weekends, the particular one we just experienced came to a close before I could get my bearings.  Yesterday morning I woke amazed (and a little distressed) to find that I've been flung into another new week. 

Let me take a moment to catch up and share some recent happenings with you, stream-of-consciousness style.

1) House Rental Season (spring edition) is upon us.  As I've written before, as homeowners in a university town, we periodically rent our house to alumni who are visiting for a special event, like graduation, or football games, or in the case of this past weekend, an exhibition football game where the team breaks in half to play itself while over 70K fans, all of whom have been deprived of football since the fall, come to watch. 

Preparing for a rental entails extensive cleaning, which ultimately means that my house was gleaming.  (Note the use of past tense here.  We're once again back in our house with our three children, which automatically implies that surfaces no longer gleam.)

2) Things are growing.  On Sunday afternoon I strolled the yard on my daily tulip hunt.  Yep, they're coming.

3) Days of sunshine make you realize what you're missing when it rains.  Friends, we were spoiled this weekend with two days that epitomized what spring should be about: beautiful blue skies, warm sun, and light breezes.  Once we returned from the rental, the girls played in the yard and made a happy mess of themselves, which solidified our decision that it was high time to start a campfire in our fire pit and roast marshmallows.

I've come to the conclusion that one should never bring clean children to a campfire -- only dirty children -- as it's inevitable that marshmallow will end up smeared on somebody's clothes.  And face.  And in their hair.  And, in the case of my five-year-old, inside their ear, which really seems to demonstrate a special talent.

4) I appreciate Smores more each time I eat them.  This sentiment can stand alone without further explanation.

5) I love watching golf on television.  Don't judge.  Don't tell me it's boring and slow.  I already know that it's slow, and sometimes I need boring.  This weekend was the Masters, and I loved listening to the hushed announcers with their pleasing British and Scottish accents.  I loved watching the innovative camera angles as we're flown in an aerial view over Augusta National.  The lush greenness!  The azaleas!  The fact that Bubba Watson won the green jacket again!

Oh, yes, I can handle this kind of boring as a backdrop to my Sunday afternoon and evening.

6) There are three more weeks of the semester.  Four, if you're including finals week.  Not that I'm counting, but I have roughly 300 more pages of student essays, 56 more speeches, 66 student blogs, 33 final projects, and 56 final exams left to go. 

But I'm not counting.

7) The Kramer family birthday season is upon us.  My oldest daughter turns nine today.  Nine years old!  Obviously, this has unfolded day by day, yet a part of me is surprised by the fact that I've been mothering this long.  Another part of me feels every day of it, all 3,285 of them.  What a ride it has been.  What a blessing!

By this time next month, we'll have celebrated the birthday of my husband and my other two daughters, which means that I'm going to hang a "Happy Birthday" sign and leave it up for the next four weeks to account for this massed influx of spring births.  (Once and done decorating, my friends.)

Wishing you a glorious day!

Augusta National Golf Course pictures compliments of Robert Du Bois and Torrey Wiley, respectively (

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

He's Not Overwhelmed

Several Sundays ago, the youth pastor at my church preached an amazing message.  I'm still mulling over his words, especially on this nugget, which I'll paraphrase for you: Jesus never got overwhelmed by anything he faced.  Instead, he overwhelmed it.

Such a difference!  How often do I let mountains in my life overwhelm me?  I cannot forget that Jesus wasn't overwhelmed by disease and sickness, or hardship and trials, or sin and death.  He overwhelmed those very things by his presence! 

If you're facing an overwhelming situation and feeling hard-pressed on all sides, remember that the Jesus who disrupted a funeral procession to return a son to his mother is the same Jesus who intercedes for us today.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Adventure Waiting to Happen Right In Our Neighborhood

I have a suspicion that spring has tricked us.  Last week, we were graced with two promising days of sunshine, but since then we've descended to temperatures in the upper 30's and low 40's coupled with dreary rain and wind.  (Even as I type, I wear a blanket wrapped around my shoulders.  I can't shake the chill.)

That being said, my family recently has discovered something, or more aptly, somewhere.  It's a small path just a few minute's walk from our house that leads through woods along a shallow creek bed. 

I can't divulge more information regarding its location, though.  It's a secret.  My oldest daughter is intent on keeping it this way, with the exception of sharing its whereabouts with a select few neighborhood friends who have either proven themselves trustworthy or who appear sufficiently directionally-impaired, and thus, would be unable to accurately convey directions if interrogated.

As for me, I'm just amazed that this place exists.  It's less than five minutes from the house where I've lived for nearly eight years.  What else don't I know about my neighborhood?

I hadn't known that braided vines dangle from the trees, creating an ethereal vibe like I've wandered into a Tolkein forest.

I didn't expect that the make-shift bridge my husband erected with a single board would draw out calm, encouraging leadership from my eight-year-old as she coached her younger sisters to watch their steps.

I hadn't remembered how kids could be enthralled with being outside: touching moss, inspecting spiky jaggers on a bush, listening to a bird's call, or overturning rocks in a stream bed in hopes of finding a fossil.

I feel like Mary in The Secret Garden, as if we've discovered something that's been locked away.  I'm not the only one; yesterday, my oldest stood at the window as rain dripped down the screen and said, "I want to go back to our path."

I understand.  So does my husband, who was the first to discover the trail and since has returned multiple times with pruning shears to carefully clear a walkable route.  "This is what childhood should be about," he noted.

Explore on, kids.  Explore on.

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