Eight Years of Otto Fox

 

The only Keigley baby who can claim the title “unexpected”.

The true baby of the family.  He still can’t pronounce the letter “r” and none of us are certain if he has ever actually slept in any variation of his own bed.

 

 

Otto Fox Wilder McDonald.

Named after Otto Frank and Laura Ingalls Wilder and his grandmother’s family and a wild animal.

Today he turns eight.

Eight years since I gave birth to my only child born in the state of South Carolina.

Eight years since I held a fresh-to-this-painful-and-beautiful-world newborn who shares my last name and my whole heart and who cost me extra weight and sleepless nights and held in his tiny fists both my fears and my hopes.

 

 

When he was a newborn, Otto Fox had some sort of condition whose name already escapes me.  For the first three months of his life, he had to be fed upright and he couldn’t be in a lying down position for at least thirty minutes after every. single. feeding or the entire contents of his miniature stomach would simply flow right back out.

And so, with five other children in stair step ages mostly, I sat down to nurse this infant Wilde Fox and then I held him upright for thirty minutes.  Sometimes with one hand while changing Piper Finn’s diaper with the other hand.  Sometimes while making breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Or snack.  Sometimes just quietly in his room.  Sometimes while watching Curious George with the rest of the renegades.

I knew from his start that Otto was my last.

And so the sitting still was less painful.  Or more.

This weekend Otto began flag football.  His first ever team sport.  Or team anything really.

 

 

He’s pretty into it.

His calf muscles are worthy of envy and his focus is intense.  Boy can run.

I loved watching him catch the ball and run the length of the field, one aim in mind.

 

 

When this boy wakes up, he finds me.  Like a little homing pigeon.   Still warm from sleep he always says, “I love you Mommy” and then I get a cuddle but if Ryder is around, the dog gets all the extra love.

I’m still such a fan of this EIGHT year old.  As big of a fan as I was at his birth.

It’s shocking that he is my baby, my youngest, the last of the band, and that he is already eight entire years alive.

I don’t know where those years went.

And I sort of do.

 

 

In parenting moments both glorious and regrettable.  In memories I was paying full attention while they were happening and in memories I was mom-glazed-over and missing out.  In sunshine and rain.

The years have passed as so many years before them.

I taught this boy to read and I’ve wiped a decent amount of tears from his eyes and I’ve watched him ride his bike without training wheels and  I was there when he hiked seven miles in one day.  I’ve given countless baths and thousands of tuck-ins.

I am grateful for each of those moments.

In my wallet I have a gift certificate from Otto for a foot massage.  I think he spelled it “message”.   I’ll just be keeping that little scrap of paper.  

HIs writing is improving.  He’ll find the key to pronouncing his “r'” soon enough.  He can read chapter books and he thinks math is fun.

Otto Fox — while your time is still kind of in my hands, I’ll be squeezing your face and kissing your cheeks and hugging your neck and there’s not much you can do to stop me.

 

 

______________________________________

 

 

 

five finds friday. (the kitten is cute and the brother makes me laugh and nothing impressive to eat)

 

What’s the point of even talking about the warp speed of my life right now?

No – really.  Someone tell me what’s the point??

(This is an unsustainable pace.  Of which I will speak more about later.  Or, better yet, of which I will begin to take action against.  Soon.)

Until that time, it’s Friday ya’ll.

 

 

funny

 

This is a long story.  But I think it’s worth the read. (Obviously, I think this.  I took the time to type it all out.)

I made a terrible mistake.  I told one of my brothers the wrong date for our family reunion.  I told him the end date of the lodging was one day past what it actually is.  He purchased his plane tickets based on my erroneous message.

I don’t remember doing this. I don’t recall sending the text.

But my generous and loving brother went back through his textual records and retrieved the incriminating words.

(Dude always has to have the last word, prove his point, make me look all Little Sister and stuff.)

He forwarded the text to me, he is so thorough that way.

I’ve apologized profusely and sincerely.  I mean, basically I gave him an extra day in Colorado with his family – what’s he complaining about anyway, right?

This afternoon he called me to fill me in on this entire situation.

This is how that conversation went.

Him: Let’s get right to it.  I’ve got two things to talk to you about.

Me:  You mean three?

Him: Huh?

Me:  Three.  You love me.

Him:  Yeah, sure.  Three.  I love you.  Now.  One – it’s snowing in Colorado today.  I’ve already finished with winter.  Are you aware that it is snowing?

Me:  Yes!! Isn’t that exciting?  Won’t this be fun?  I love winter.  Be prepared.  It’s so great.  I can’t wait.

Him:  Okay.  Fine.  You’re aware.  Two.  You told me the wrong date.  I’ve got the text to prove it.  Want me to send it to you?

Me:  What?  No.  Don’t send it.  I’m sorry.  That stinks.  Why didn’t you double-check with me first?

Him:  I had it in writing.  That was my double checking.  I bought my plane tickets.  Ah, Lacey.  I should’ve expected this.

Me:  I’m really sorry.  Expected this?

Him:  You to disappoint me.

Me: !

Him:  In the Marine Corp we have a code to determine the trustworthiness of certain informants.  When one of the informants turns out to be a total liar and we have to write them off completely, we label them an F6.  That’s what you are now.  An F6.

Me: I don’t want to be an F6.

Him:  People like me, on the other hand, you can stake your life on what I say.  That’s trustworthy.

Me:  I’ll pay for your hotel on your extra night?

Him:  I’m going to send you the text you sent me.

Me:  No.  Please don’t do that.  I don’t want to see it.  I’ll feel worse.

He sent me the screenshot of the text.  Of course.

And then we have this exchange:

 

 

After this, I try to change the subject and tell him that I saw a bear at a state park today.

And he has only one response.

“I wish I could believe you.”

 

fashionable

 

Let’s talk fashion advice.

I have four daughters.  Four smart and clever and lovely and unique daughters.

 

Photo by Emma Joersz

 

 

If I were forced to give them fashion advice, it would probably sound a little like this:

Every day is special enough to wear lovely earrings.

If one bracelet is good, three are better.

Wear whatever shoes you like, whenever you like, with whatever you like.

Your face is beautiful.  Let’s see it.  (Don’t hide it behind hair draped over your eyes or heaps of make up.)

 

flavorful

 

I’m literally not even going to try this week.

We’ve eaten this week, of course, but it’s been your run of the mill kind of eating – tacos and cereal and sandwiches and spaghetti and salad and nachos, rice pudding and take out Chinese food.

The end.

 

faithful

 

One area I truly desire to be faithful in is in the area of finances.

It’s hard to teach kids how to handle their money properly if I am incapable of handling my money properly.

I’m endlessly grateful for a father who taught me from an early age how to save, how interest works, how to pay in cash, how to live within your means, how to give generously and tithe regularly and support others financially.

I have not always lived what I have known, but I have always known the right foundation.

Last week the girls opened up savings accounts with earnings they’ve gained from scone sales and selling some of their own items.  I’m hopeful they can learn early and well how to master their money so they need never be mastered by money.

 

 

feels

 

All anyone needs for this section this week are photos.  Photos of Puck The Adorable.

(I will say nothing more.)

 

 

 

______________________________

 

 

On Why I Can’t Wait To Drive 3,000 Miles Next Week

 

Part of the reason why I cannot wait for our departure on this Beyond Wildwood adventure is because the last month or so has found me and mine shockingly busy.  Unusually so.  Schedule stacked sort of busy.

The kind of busy I have spent the majority of my parenting years actively avoiding and orchestrating our family’s life in an opposite direction.

I know some of this shift is natural with the rising ages of my children.  Also, with the sheer number of children in my house.  (Not that the number seems big to me.)  Not even every child currently has an activity or a sport or a hobby they are pursuing outside of our four walls, but several of them do and those numbers and plans multiply in a hurry.

Some of the blame lies with the month of May herself.  The season for wrapping up school and big projects coinciding dangerously with inviting spring weather and summer planning.

Some of the fault is with my undertaking the start of a business.  That business growing and the truth that any small business run independently can occupy every minute of your time if you let it.  Constantly more could be done, more could be attempted, more could be written.  And when your office is your front porch and your living room and your kitchen table, well then, the work follows you around as you make strawberry jam and sweep the floor and fold laundry.  It’s hard to silence the thought stream.

I’ve certainly allowed this onslaught of change to take the lead in our home lately.

I’m ready for a reset button.

 

 

I don’t really plan to pull the plug on anything in particular.  I’m just hoping this stepping away, this car ride and ranch visit and family reunion will all serve to offer camaraderie back in our midst.  Will give me opportunity to breathe and to put my pen down and to not be forming stories as I walk and move.  (Well, I’m not sure I can cure that one, but at least the pressure to get the words out of my head will be lessened.)  My to-do list that keeps a steady record of what’s next can take a back seat and what’s next can be – ride a horse to Helen’s Rock and eat dinner with my dad.

I don’t mind if I am in the car for a couple thousand miles.  Kansas doesn’t scare me.  I’ve got podcasts and good company and a rotating shift of eager navigators and pro peanut butter and jelly sandwich makers.

In fact, trapped with those five wonders is exactly what I think I’ve been missing in my month.

I’ve been running circles, working hard, staying up late, waking up early, forgetting to exercise or eat well and generally giving myself wrinkles and ulcers and early hair loss.  (I hope I’m kidding about the hair loss.)

When I return I hope I remember how to say no and how to say yes.  How to do the right things in the right order.  How to talk to my kids without rushing them to the ends of their stories.  How to love the life I have been given.

 

 

__________________________________

 

 

our number & our table

 

Perspective is a kooky thing.

Even though I have six children and people told me that we looked like a preschool when all of the kids were little and we’d go anywhere – grocery store, zoo, gas station – I never thought of us as being a huge family.  And then I’d see some mom in a restaurant wth a herd of children around her and I’d catch myself counting their heads and when I reached four or five or six, I’d think – man, that woman looks like she has a lot of kids.  Oh wait.  That’s how I look to other people too.  Because it was my own life, it felt normal.  Eight people never seemed like a big number.  (Once I got used to it.)

Our family number was eight.

How many people need a reservation?  Eight.  
We need a car that seats eight.
Is there a group rate for eight tickets?
Let’s see, how many pizzas does it take to feed eight people?
We’re having sandwiches for lunch – better get two loaves of bread, there are eight of us after all.

Eight.

So when two family members no longer lived at home (one through growing up and the other through, well, you know) the number we were left with felt foreign.

For a long time it just felt like our numbers were off.  Like we were always counting wrong.  

Table for six, please.
I think one pizza and breadsticks should be fine here.
We have room in the car for friends.

I’ve been slow to embrace the number six.  (I was pretty partial to the number eight.)

In our dining room is a gigantic table.  It easily seats 12 and we’ve certainly maxed it out at 16 without it being too incredibly awkward and if some of those 16 are children.

It takes up the entire dining room and if you are sitting in certain seats you pretty much need to plan to stay seated throughout the meal because it’s just too hard to get up and to get down again.

We do our school daily at this table and it’s all too easy to leave it overflowing with All The Books because you can simply shove them to one end and still comfortably eat at the other end.  In fact, this is very normal daily behavior.  Shove the books to one end, eat at the other end.

Today I decided to rearrange the dining room.  It’s the only room I have never actually rearranged.  (And I rearrange obsessively with the frequency of a perfectly normal human.)  I also did something else.  I removed the two additions to the table.  I made it shorter.  Still sufficiently long enough at six feet long.  (I measured – I took off over three feet.)

 

 

And you know what?

Our table feels tiny.

Like – miniscule.  Sort of like our family.  I honestly seldom think of us as a large family.

With the smaller table I could center it under the light.  Ah – we’ve been missing out on quality lighting over our table for years.  Years!  And we can all sit down and get up from the table with ease, not disturbing anyone else.

London said, “Mom, I love this table’s size.  It’s so pretty that it makes me want to set the table in a nicer way.”

When we ate dinner there last night we could hold hands easily for prayer.  We weren’t scattered around it and we could all reach the food to pass it around.

The table fit us better.

The six of us.  Our family.

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

 

 

What a Weekend: Making My Survivor Dreams Come True

 

My weekend stole Monday too.

It was such a full and crowded and busy and fun and exhausting weekend that it just creeped its way right into the first day of the week and I couldn’t tell Monday from Saturday somehow.  (Also, is creeped a word?  I’m not going to bother finding out.)

Friday night and Saturday I spent being a bit of a nerd.  A TV show nerd.  Or fan.  Or whatever word is the word I should use here.  (Someone tell me the words I should be using so I sound cooler than I actually am.)

 

 

Former Survivor castaways were in town for a fundraiser and I was all about enjoying the little glimpse into TV Reality Show drama that I got to witness, first in my friend’s living room and then in my town at a fitness center and then at our favorite pizza place.

 

 

It was indeed surreal to walk into my friend’s house and see former Survivor show winners Sandra and Tina just sitting on the sofa, eating burgers, chilling out in Leslie’s kitchen.  You know.  Leslie was beyond gracious and I played it as cool as I could, eating my burger and listening to everything they said.  There were about seven of the castaways there that evening while I was visiting.  They were all regular.  Of course they were.  But they were also kind of characters to me since I’d only ever seen them in the box in my own living room as I discussed their skills at challenges and groaned when they were voted out or cheered when they left the tribal counsel area.  Their faces and their images were familiar to me and yet they were complete strangers.  I was leaning against the counter and talking about Kentucky and pound cake and cutting coupons.  (Two time million dollar Survivor winner Sandra still cuts coupons.)

 

 

It was about as much fun as my little geeky Survivor fan self could handle.

When I left the house that evening, I sent a text to the only person I could think of who likes Survivor as much as I do – my college roommate Gretchen, who has actually applied to be on Survivor.  (Something I’m not sure I could actually follow through with.  Although Sandra told me I should.  So – there you have it.)

The next morning I met the Survivors and more fans like me at Hub Fitness to take on a two hour work out.  (All for charity.)  What on earth?  I don’t work out for twenty minutes.  Two hours was intense for me.  Leading us was one Survivor – one very fit Survivor.  Behind me on our little yoga mats was another Survivor.  He was rather amusingly distracting as he fumbled his way through the exercises.  I think his fumbling was the result of him laughing and playing the clown a little, while mine was for real struggling to do a plank.  A plank, ya’ll.

 

 

I paid a mighty high price for that work out too, and I don’t mean dollars.  I mean – on Sunday I thought I might literally not be able to move.  My body hurt in places I never knew actually had muscles.  I either want to do all of that exercising again so those muscles can become something they have never been, or I want to lie very still from this day until the day I die.  Whichever.

 

 

I had the opportunity to send several of the Survivors down to our Farmers Market and persuaded them to try the best shaved ice with my buddies at Nomadik Few.  I was pretty satisfied knowing that I introduced them to that treat.

The afternoon held a pizza party at Sidewall with more folks and Survivor castaways.  A really neat couple drove down from North Carolina with all of these Survivor-esque games and challenges that we could all try our hands at.  (This fella – Russell – has tried out for Survivor 17 times!!  I told him that it’s time to try out 18 times and I hope I get to see him on the show one day.  He and his wife were great!)  The challenges are my favorite part of the show so it was fun to attempt a few ourselves.  The kids beat me in almost every challenge though.

 

 

It was also such fun to just watch other Survivor fans like myself mingle with and chat with the Survivors – who were all just generous and kind with their time and their attention – who listened to people and shared pizza and laughed and enjoyed the rainy afternoon for a wonderful cause.  The question and answer section was funny and entertaining and answered a handful of those sort of questions you always want to know about the show and how it all breaks down off camera.

 

 

I found each one of the Survivors to be interesting and normal, warm and gracious, just regular people like I assumed they must be, but was still so satisfying to experience in real life.  Truly – it was such a fun day to be in my own town and eating pizza and sitting at a table with people who have sat at tribal counsel, have voted one another out, served on the jury, met Jeff Probst, won the entire show, worn the same outfit for forty days.

It makes watching the next episodes that much more exciting, that much more tangible.  And that my kids got to experience it all with me was even better!

 

 

 

___________________________

 

 

Five Finds Friday (the wrong jar, adorable art and a swimsuit mistake)

 

The weather this week has been so HAPPY and that helps everything.

It’s Friday and we only have one more week of school and that is also very HAPPY.

 

 

funny

 

1. This week London paid her sister to do her share of the lawn mowing because London prefers being indoors, clean, unsweaty.  She gave her actual cash, plus a Lego.

2. Also.  We had a picnic after church on Sunday and I grabbed a few snack items from our house and tossed them in a bag.

See these jars?

 

 

They were both in the fridge.

Here is what is in them.  One holds chocolate covered almonds.  One holds leftover black beans.

Guess which one I wanted to bring to a picnic.

Guess which one I actually put in my bag.

 

fashionable

 

I think it’s often more fun to make note of what should not be fashionable than to actually concern myself too deeply with what should be fashionable.

A magazine came to the house this week.  I think it was Parents.  There was a spread about fashions that could take you to multiple places – the clothing you can shift quickly from work to a day at the park to a night out.

Included was this bit here ………

 

 

A top over another shirt.  That’s fine.  I’m all about the layers.  But, wait.  It isn’t just any base layer this model has going on.

Nope.  It’s not a base layer that you would expect it all.

It’s much more creative than that.

 

 

It’s a swimsuit!!

Ya’ll.  First, since when does putting a swimsuit on under your clothing constitute high fashion?  I thought wearing swimsuits under your clothing was either what happened at the beach or back in college when all the laundry was dirty.

But fine, whatever.  I really don’t care.

All I can think about, however, is what happens when this lovely model finishes drinking her eight glasses of water daily and has to use the restroom.

I mean, she has to literally take off pretty much all of her clothes, just to begin the process.  Even her top layer shirt!

No, thank you.

 

flavorful

 

I bought chorizo recently for the first time.  I’d never even seen it in the store although I think I have eaten it at some point.

It is packaged so that it looks like kielbasa to me, so I assumed that was its basic structure.

It’s not like kielbasa at all.  It’s like – regular sausage, sort of.

So, chorizo fans – what am I supposed to do with it?

 

faithful

 

Our community group has morphed and changed over the years and it’s in such a lovely and sweet place right now.  I love that there is a wide age range amongst our group and that the younger people in our group are legitimately interested in including the kids and in knowing them as people, regular people, instead of treating them as extras or as burdens.

It’s wonderful to watch.

 

feels

 

Look at these gorgeous prints of characters from some of our favorite stories.

 

 

The girls each received one recently as the sweetest gifts and I love them!

You can find them here – plus Jane Eyre and Sara Crewe and Elizabeth Bennet and more!

Aren’t they some kind of wonderful?

 

 

___________________________________

 

 

 

sort of poetry

 

I need to rest

and I need to be awake.

I need to write

but my words are coming slow.

It’s Too Much

and it’s Never Enough.

 

 

This is a Terrifyingly Hard and Beautiful Life

and it only makes sense about one third of the time.

In the mornings,

after the long nights of Not Enough Sleep,

what eventually propels me from the lying prone position in my bed

to the feet sliding over the side,

hit the floor,

is not hope

so much

as gravity.

Not prospect of good

but responsibility

and The Only Next Thing To Do.

 

 

And if my heart feels a little tender and bruised,

you know,

it’s just because it is coming back to life.

It’s just because it has been in solitary confinement.

It’s not so much about What I Want

as it is about What I Cannot Have

and,

in the words of Mr. Wendell Berry, 

“it’s not right, but it’s alright”.

 

 

The sun shining the next day always helps.

Being outdoors is better than being indoors.

One always feels less desperate beside a tree.

Less lonely in the woods.

Less hopeless when the sun is warming your bare skin.

Oh Sunshine,

bring good news.

 

 

Reinvent and revive me.

Restore me and collect the bits of me floating away and apart.

 

 

_________________________________

 

 

 

just a day – in a few words and in a few pictures

 

Mid week and the grass is already high even though we mowed less than five days ago but the trash is at the curb despite the fact that our trash can has officially “lost” both of its wheels.

It’s a race to departure day for our Beyond Wildwood adventure and the question looming of “Will I get all the tasks completed before we leave?” feels certain to be a resounding NO but I tidied up the front porch today (finally) and we are once again taking the majority of our meals together in its paint peeling glory and sunshine.

My baby started his first practice of team sports and it’s flag football and he needs a mouth guard and tonight – completely un-sport-related – that same “baby” lost his last front tooth and when I looked at a picture a stranger took of us all this morning I realized that there are no babies hanging out at my house because my last son turns eight this month and that’s a real long distance from diapers and pull ups and extra sets of clothing in the backseat just in case and nap schedules ruling our days.  He’s reading Roald Dahl and Piper is starting her first on-her-own attempt at a Narnia book and all of that makes me all kinds of happy because teaching reading was way harder than I thought it would be but I’m not sure my heart and my brain can keep up at the same pace as my children’s limbs are stretching and growing and now it’s London who pulls me aside and shares how cute her little brother is and a family friend told me this morning that he is having a hard time coping with the adolescence of my children via social media and if he thinks it’s hard to watch them grow older in the pictures, how on earth am I supposed to sleep and breathe this coming of age all around me?

My sentences are all Charles Dickens – they’re too long to read in one breath.  My heart is all Virginia Woolf – looking back and looking forward and feeling like both are out of reach and too slippery.  My life is more William Shakespeare – tragedy and comedy and history all morphed into one heavily-worded mess that only the playwright understands.

I think I’ll stop with the words and go heavy with the pictures.  Of this day – just this one day in the life of the people I know best and love best.  Beginning to end – not important particularly, not thorough or all-inclusive by any means.  Just the story as it unfolds in bits that was a very ordinary weekday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________

 

 

 

Grove Collaborative Giveaway: All the Good Stuff

 

It’s spring!  And, for some people – certain kinds of people, you know – spring means deep cleaning and airing out the bedding.

I’m not really one of those people.

But, living in a home with a half dozen humans, a dog and a new kitten (apparently) and a host of friends here and there, sometimes I have to sort of clean things up around here.  And if I am going to clean, I want to halfway enjoy the process and for me – that means using products that smell good and look pretty.  (Trust me, pleasing aromas and cute bottles go a long way toward motivating me.)

The Grove Collaborative is simply an online store that provides the supplies for getting the jobs done – also the supplies for necessary items like toothpaste and deodorant and shampoo and you name it.

 

 

The way it works is this:  

You sign up (and today’s deal is THE perfect time to sign up) on the website, and you fill your cart with stuff you want.  The box of goodies arrives at your door in the usual delivery style fashion that we’ve all grown accustomed to.  Each month you’ll get an email reminding you that you can reorder anything you’re out of, or anything new, and it will come to you.  If you need a new order before the month is up, go for it.  If you don’t need anything when your shipment date arrives, just log onto the website and push your order back a month – or two, or six, whatever works for you then.  (They’ll send you plenty of email reminders so all you have to do is read your email and respond appropriately.)

Here’s why I use Grove:

  • It’s a good deal on stuff I already buy.  (Prices are lower than Target’s, which is where I usually buy my Mrs.Meyer’s products.  And where I usually waste money buying stuff I just don’t need – I’m looking at you, Dollar Spot.)
  • It’s so incredibly convenient.  (I haven’t run out of dish detergent or hand soap or dish soap or sponges since I started using Grove Co. a few years ago.)
  • It’s one less thing I have to think about and plan for and take care of.  (The work of remembering is already being done for me.)
  • Their customer service is actually the best.  (They are speedy in responses and really nice and eager to help.  That’s unusual and I appreciate it.)
  • When I don’t need an order for the month I can easily skip it.  (They remind me routinely through emails and I’ve never been surprised by receiving a box full of stuff I forgot to cancel.  Unlike that CD club I joined back in college and I kept ending up with CDs I never wanted and never listened to.  What was that club called anyway?  It was harder to get out of than prison.  I think.  I don’t know.)

I mainly stick to my orders of soaps and sponges and dish soap and toilet bowl cleaner, but I’ve branched out over the last year and tried shaving cream and face lotion and sunscreen and laundry stain remover and I can’t even remember what else.  I’ve never been displeased.

I love it.  For real.

This month’s giveaway is a good one – it covers all the basics and is pretty much a sampling of what I always have on hand at my house.  (You have until Sunday to make your big decision and receive this deal!)

 

 

Here’s what you get:

  • Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Multi Surface Spray
  • Grove Collaborative Bubble Up
  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you are already an existing customer, let’s be honest, the deals are never quite as exciting.  However, you do still get something for free as a bonus!

And, actually, this month it is a product I use every.single.day — Grove Walnut Scrubber Sponges.  Once upon a time my friend Rhonda told me to try these (after she tried them through my link here!).  I tossed out whatever I used before and became a die hard fan of these scrubbers.  They never stink.  It’s just true.  And they last a long time.  I use mine until the thicker brown side wears down and then I toss it and get a new one.

Order here:

 

Also a reminder:

Now, these offers today really are all free.  But, as others have pointed out before, on your first Grove order, you will be asked to purchase a certain amount of other items to add to your cart.  So, again, these items are completely free, but your entire order is not completely free.  (Just like to be up front about these little details.)  You can choose whatever you want to buy of course.  I’m pretty confident there’s something on the website that you buy regularly and could use a restock of.  Or – something that you want to try.  You need to buy $20 worth of products to get your FREE stash listed above.

 

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sunday reflections . . .

 

Once a year our church holds an outdoor service in May.  It’s loud and sometimes it’s hot (although today it was chilly by turns) and the field is slam packed full of people on blankets and in camping chairs and you have to arrive early if you’d like a chance to park in the actual parking lot.

And every year I am so glad I attend this particular service.

People get baptized periodically all throughout the year at church but at this service there is usually a larger number of baptisms.

For a person who really likes words, I don’t know why but I always get a bit tongue-tied when I try to explain what exactly it is that I love about watching baptisms take place.

I believe that baptism is a sign.  A symbol.  It’s about something more than water and going under.  It’s not a salvation in the act itself and it can’t magically rescue you or heal your wounds.

But it’s still pretty incredible.

It’s important.  This picture of an inward change.  A external picture of an internal transition.  A sign.  A proclamation.

An identifying with Jesus.

It’s beautiful to witness and I’m never not moved by what I see.

I always think to myself, “Well, I won’t cry today.  There’s no reason for that.”  And then.  I always cry.

The outdoor service is a good one to let the tears flow unchecked, however, because it’s so bright outside that I’m wearing sunglasses and then no one can see the tears anyway.  (Maybe I’ll start wearing sunglasses indoors too.  That won’t be weird at all.  I’m old enough for that to  just be eccentric – right?)

The baptisms were varied – as they usually are.  Young children, teenagers, grown ups, college students.  A dear friend’s son.  An entire family of five.  (You can imagine that one really had me.  What a sweet memory – your entire family baptized on the same day.)  An adopted daughter.  I especially sense the rise of the tender feelings when I watch the children look into the eyes of their daddies as their parent undertakes this lovely and humbling honor and responsibility to stand side by side in the water with their children and declare life from death, hope from sorrow.

My family sat on our blanket in the field beside a group of ladies from an addiction recovery program in our town called Renewal.  Several women in the program were being baptized and the response from their friends on the blankets beside us was overwhelming and enthusiastic.  Shouts and cheers and there was a time that sort of overflow would have embarrassed me.  Not any longer.  Instead, it reminds me of what I am so quick to forget.

Recovery and hope are always worth celebrating.  

Ending self-destructive habits and patterns and claiming a rebirth is cheer-worthy.  It’s something we should all get loud about.

I leaned over to the sweet lady on my right and whispered in her ear, “I loved sitting here beside you today.  Your joy is beautiful.”

It’s beautiful for a child to stand on a stage and to say, “I can not ever recall not knowing about Jesus.”  And it’s beautiful for a young lady to say, “I was lost and desperate, addicted and alone.  And Jesus met me there.”  To hear a college student profess, “I am not the man I once was.”  And a former lawyer turned addict confess, “I was always in the driver’s seat.  There was no room in my life for Jesus.  And now that is no longer true.”  For an eleven year old to say, “My parents taught me to love Jesus from the time I was born.”

There are all these paths to hope.

And each one ebbs and flows in a different manner and when the myriad of trails and journeys merged together in that one baptism pool today, it was breath taking.

 

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

– C.S. Lewis

 

 

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