Transparent

I need to say something before I take my little homeschooling-bloggy-break. Some of your comments have convicted me, and I’m taking time to write this in the interest of truth-in-advertising and all that jazz.

 

I’m not the person you think I am.

 

Not full of faith.

 

Not full of joy.

 

Not full of gratitude.

 

Most days, I feel about 99% darkness.

 

The bible tells us that Satan goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and friends? Sometimes I feel about halfway down his throat.

 

Everything I do here…my posts about thankfulness, my prayers and poetry…they only tell a portion of the story. They are the hope that I cling to, the hope that one day all that I know in my head will make it into my heart.

 

But I am nowhere near that point. Right now I doubt I will ever get close.

 

Depression is a heavy blanket laid upon my heart. The decision to see God’s hand at work, the deliberate focusing on His gifts each day pushes it back, incrementally, and allow rays of His light shine into the darkness and provide relief from the weight. But some days it won’t budge. No matter what. And I feel utterly bereft.

 

I have struggled with being truthful here. We aren’t supposed to cause others to stumble in our words or actions. I want to be a beacon of hope. But I feel that only hinting at the depths to which I struggle is becoming dishonest. I just want you to know: I’m broken. I’m floundering. Sometimes I think the heart-soil into which His Word was sown has been irreparably poisoned and its fruit will constantly be choking and dying.

 

I don’t know how to do the job He’s given me. Many times I don’t believe He gives a shit about me.

 

Yes, I just said shit. I do that sometimes.

 

So I doubt Him, and I argue with Him, and I tell Him that it would be far, far better to just take me home now via an out-of-control bus or a fatal disease, but He doesn’t listen. For some reason I am still here.

 

And some days are so full of joy I can hardly breathe. I marvel at His goodness, and I cling to His grace. I feel His love around me and I believe He is big enough to fix even me. I walk in His light and am directed by His hand and even if all doesn’t go smoothly, I am reassured. I know He sees the Big Picture, and I trust Him.

 

(today is not one of those days)

 

I say all this to warn you: sometimes I will be unpredictable. Sometimes I will say I am giving up blogging only to return after a couple of months because I realize that writing is therapeutic and even essential to me in working out the tangled mess that is my emotional life, and having someone to read it and give me feedback buoys me up. Sometimes I will say summer is not over, only to say it is in the next breath. Sometimes I will say I am going on a bloggy break in order to prepare to homeschool, only to then immediately post one more thing.

 

Sometimes I will cuss.

 

Hello, my name is Jenni, and it’s nice to meet you. I hope you don’t expect perfection.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Awesome Oklahoma Critters

It’s Top Ten Tuesday again!

 

 

Today on TTT, I wanted to share (as BooMama would say) All The Nature with you.

 

Here in Oklahoma we have nature. It’s not Nature! but it’s nature. And it’s pretty cool in its own way. Now, let me just warn you that some of you (and by “some of you” I mean those of a “sissy girl” nature) might squeal, or shriek, or turn pale, or suddenly need to go potty when looking at some of these pictures. I understand. Really, I do. I am full of mercy towards those who are a little squeamish when it comes to certain branches of Kingdom Animalia, and I would never make fun of you.

 

I, myself, have a teensy bit of a complex when it comes to cicada skins. My children (in particular girl-child number two) collect them with great relish, and love to leave them in places where my unsuspecting person will stumble upon them. Like my sunglasses case.

 

Which made me shriek in an extremely sissy-girl-ish manner, if you must know.

 

However, if you belong in the category of sissy-girl, then please, I beg of you, do not leave me a comment saying “OMG! That (fill in the blank) is SO DISGUSTING! I hate them so much! The only good (fill in the blank) is a DEAD (fill in the blank)” or anything of that ilk.

 

Because then I will have to hunt you down and put worms in your bed.

 

Okay! Ready? Set? Go!

 

1. Tarantulas

 

When I was a kid, I remember tarantulas crossing the roads in great numbers at one time, and have been saddened to realize their numbers are declining. So I was delighted that during our stay at my parent’s house we found a total of six (6) tarantulas! This was the smallest one of the group.

 

2. Toads

 

He/she was obviously tickled pink to pose for me.

 

3. Gray Treefrogs

 

They have really pretty golden legs on the underside…

 

4. Skinks

 

It’s a snake, with legs. Except not really.

 

5. Hummingbird Moths

 

Funky!

 

6. Ribbon Snakes

 

Doesn’t he just have the cutest little smile on his face? You can always tell the non-venomous snakes by their friendly smiles.

 

7. Box turtles

 

He’s not venomous either, but you wouldn’t know it by his face.

 

8. Collared Lizards

 

The Official State Lizard of Oklahoma. Yes, we have a State Lizard. We are klassy that way.

 

9. Fireflies

 

I wish I could get my butt to light up…

 

10. Coyotes

 

Yes, that’s a coyote. He wouldn’t come any closer, no matter how much I whistled and said “Good doggie!” He looks strangely deer-like in this photo (click to see it larger).

 

 

Got any Top-Tens to share with me today? Leave me a link, for Pete’s sake!

Death: A Metaphor for Life

Welcome to Metaphor Monday, friends!

 

 

When we housesat for my parents, one of the things we did while we were there was visit the little country cemetary down the road.

 

It always surprises me when people exclaim “ooh…creepy!” when I tell them we did this.

 

I don’t find cemetaries creepy in the least. I find them peaceful, lovely places, although often the sadness of tiny graves with one date alone grieves me greatly.

 

 

Another response I get is “why?” when I tell people we visited a cemetary in which no one we know personally is buried.

 

Frankly, one reason is for the kick-ass names.

 

Parthenia! Sedonia! Ketchum! I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness.

 

Hanorah and Bluford, sittin’ in a tree…

 

 

But mostly I visit a cemetary to be reminded of the fleeting quality of life. There’s something so grounding about the incontrovertible truth. The evidence is all around me. This is not our home. This is just Earthcamp. And someday these earthly tents we inhabit will be laid to rest.

 

 

Our birth ushers us onto life’s stage, and our death sweeps us out. If you don’t know where Home is, how will you recognize it when you reach that Door? I hope the simple truth touches your heart before the sun sets on this campground.

 

 

Calvin Miller said it best, and delightfully metaphorically, in his poem:

 

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that, past the pain,

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

 

 

Have a metaphor for me today? Please leave a link in the comments!

Lucky Duck, take two…

So I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to pick a winner for EPFYCDBAS today!

 

Forgive me; I’ve been just a tad distracted.

 

Actually, I was born that way. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is an unauthorized biography, if you must know.

 

At any rate, the number that Random.org spat (spat, I tell you! spat!) at me was #21, Pamelotta! Congratulations, Pam! I know you’ll love the book thoroughly, whether it’s a gift or for yourself.

 

Thanks to everybody who participated in my giveaways, and have a lovely Sunday (what’s left of it)!

Lucky Ducks

Just a quick note to say that the winner of TSWGTRALF is commenter number 48, Marie! Thanks to everybody for playing…

 

Daughter Connie is celebrating her 15th birthday today; she is the antithesis of the average fifteen year old and thusly is quite the delight. I remember 15 as an intensely awkward stage, but it doesn’t seem to bother her in the least. Her entire wish list was composed of lengthy novels and webkinz. Easy to please? Just a bit.

 

Here’s a picture of me at 15:

 

 

Could someone please explain to me why I felt compelled to augment my eyebrows so heavily? My only explanation is that I have suffered from brow-envy most of my life, so when I discovered eyebrow pencil I obviously followed the more-is-better philosophy.

 

Does anyone besides me like the way they look now better than the way they looked in high school? Maybe it just has to do with becoming comfortable with imperfections like freckles and three-haired eyebrows. They just don’t seem quite the crises anymore.

 

Not that I have retired my eyebrow pencil by any means; I just don’t wield it with quite the same energy.

 

What quirks about your appearance have you learned to embrace?

 

Be-Bop-A-Lu-Bah, be my (bloghop) Baby…

Would you believe that I didn’t even know until today that BlogHer was even going on this weekend? It’s true. Shocking, but true.

 

There was a time when I rolled my eyes and chuckled up my sleeve at the ladies who trooped off to parts unknown simply to sit around and discuss blogging, but I have matured past that these days. Now, I sit and weep quietly that I am not one of them.

 

Haha! Not really. Maybe if they were meeting somewhere coastal instead of Chicago, I would suffer a pang or two, but as it is, I’m far too busy living the dream to worry about who’s at Blogher instead of me.

 

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

 

In any case, there is a recourse for those of us NOT Blogherring (haha! I said herring! haha!) this weekend, and that is a little shindig called the BlogHOP that is currently in full swing over at Robin’s place.

 

 

Even if you don’t give one whit about BlogHer and are at this very moment saying to yourself Tee hee! I had no idea grown women met together to discuss their silly little blogs! What will they think of next?  then you’ll STILL want to head over to Pensieve right now because there are giveaways and stuff.

 

If you’re arriving HERE, at my little corner of the inter-web, for the first time, let me give you a hearty welcome! There are a couple of giveaways going on here and here if you’re interested in that sort of thing, and if you’re not then you can read my favorite post ever.

 

Okay, it’s probably not my favorite post ever. But it’s one that has been googled more than any other, probably due to its liberal use of a certain *P* word.

 

In a nutshell, I’m a homeschooling mommy to 12, MIL to one swell guy, and Nonny to the sweetest little boy EVAH. I also love the ocean but I live in Oklahoma, which makes my life a tragedy of epic proportions.

 

I also like hyperbole.

 

If you want something more thoughtful, read this or this.

 

I also like to take pretty pictures (I’m so unique! Just like everyone else!) And write poetry.

 

So make yourself at home and have a happy BlogHop, ya hear? Because we can’t all go hobnob with Pioneer Woman and feel fancy in Chicago, can we? 

 

*cue quiet weeping*

Another Book Review and Giveaway! (No, really! It’s a whole different book!)*

So I think I mentioned a little herniated disc issue I had a while back that enabled me to actually do nothing but read for a few days? It was absolutely heavenly to slowly make my way through the stack on my bedside table!

 

Except for the agonizing lower back pain, that is.

 

Nevertheless, one of the lovely little books that was waiting patiently for me to finally pick it up was Expecting: Praying for Your Child’s Development–Body and Soul by the delightful Marla Taviano.

 

Can I just say? This book is a gem. An absolute delight. I fear I cannot say enough things about how sweet it is.

 

For starters, it’s a really nice size. I have a silly fondness for cute little hand-sized books, and this one is just so. It’s perfect for the bedside table, not obscenely large and demanding lots of attention (unlike the pregnant women it has been written for). It is demure and polite as it waits for you to pick it up.

 

 

And you will want to pick it up, and frequently! Because EPFYCDBAS, as I shall refer to it from here-on, is so much more than a book. It is a personal journal through every stage of pregnancy, including the days before you’re even certain that a baby is on the horizon.

 

Each week of pregnancy has some suggested prayers, information about what’s going on in both the baby and the mother’s development, and a place to record thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the future. Each week has gentle advice from Marla, herself a mama to three precious little girls, about how to prepare for the arrival of the wee one.

 

Scattered throughout EPFYCDBAS are perfectly timed Bible verses and quotes ranging from humorous to profound. As an unapologetic quote-hound, I was consistently delighted by this touch!

 

At the end of 40 weeks, the expectant mommy goes from expectant to gratified and has not only a beautiful little baby to snuggle, but a keepsake journal to give the snugglee at some point in his/her future, perhaps when parenthood becomes a reality for them as well. I only wish I’d had a stash of copies some 22 years ago!

 

This book would be so perfect for anyone who is pregnant, plans to be pregnant, knows anyone who is pregnant, or is otherwise a member of the human race. Seriously, it would be an excellent gift for that special woman who has just gotten the elusive two pink lines on the pee stick. Is that lady you? Then I offer my congratulations. AND a chance to win this little jewel.

 

Just leave me a comment letting me know what brand of pregnancy test you believe is the best, and you’ll be entered to win. Do you prefer EPT’s? Generic? Killing a bunny? I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on Sunday and get a copy on its way to you. Not my copy, however. I’m still hoping to use it someday myself.

 

*just in case you’re using a feed reader and thought this was the same post as before

Book Review and Giveaway!

So the amazing Mary at Owlhaven asked me approximately eleventy-million years ago if I would review her book, The Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family, and I cheerfully said “Sure! I’ll take your book and hold onto it for a zillion years before having a herniated disc that forces me to bed, unable to do anything but read through the giant pile of books on my bedside table, at which point I will love it and write a review!”

 

I like to be completely upfront and honest with people. I think it’s the right thing to do.

 

In any case, Mary sent me a copy of her book back in, uh. Uh. March? And I finally read it, thanks to the aforementioned lumbar constraints which I suspect were a thinly disguised kick in the arse from the Man Upstairs.

 

In a nutshell, I loved the book, just like I knew I would. For one thing, the cover is awfully cute. Which has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I’d mention it.

 

 (awwwwwwwwwwwww!)

 

More importantly, the book is solid. Solid advice. Solid balance. Solid practicality. Solid reassurance.

 

Mary totally made me believe I could truly raise a large family!!

 

Which is a relief, when you get right down to it.

 

Although I’m not 100% sure about the “sane” part. I think you (and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible) really have to have a little bit of the insane in you to consider raising a family larger than the norm these days. That is, if “insane” can be defined as the audacity to go against the flow, live contrary to popular culture, challenge suppositions, and embrace your inner rebel.

 

But you know, it’s all semantics in the end.

 

Mary’s book, or ASWGTRALF, as I’ll refer to it from here-on, addresses the very real issues of space and money and time in the context of hoards of children, but also delves into deeper issues of being emotionally available for both children and spouse, as well as the Myth of the Supermom (oh how I loathe that one!) and how to encourage sibling friendships.

 

I found so much sensible and soothing about this book; it was like settling down with a cup of tea and some really good chocolate (referenced multiple times as one of Mary’s secret weapons for coping, by the way) and having a lengthy chat with a close, level-headed friend after a particularly tiring day. It refreshed my spirit and strengthed my resolve to do the very best job humanly possible with this parenting gig.

 

Which subsequently made me wish quite longingly that I lived next door to Mary, not surprisingly. 

 

Even if you are done growing your family and it isn’t considered large by the world’s definition, this book has so many practical hints on how to save money, make time for your children, foster family fun, and remember that guy you said your vows to, that I would bet just about any woman with any number of children would glean something worthwhile from the reading.

 

In celebration of the fact that I Read An Actual Book With Actual Pages, I am giving away, via Mary, a copy of ASWGTRALF today! Just leave me a comment with your personal opinion of just how many children constitutes a “large family” and you’ll be entered. I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on Saturday!

 

And please, remember, if you don’t win, buy yourself a copy of ASWGTRALF, or one for a friend (or, hey! both!) anyway. Then we can all get together and start a Want-To-Live-Next-To-Mary Club.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Literary Heroes

Top Ten Tuesday!

 

 

Time again for a TTT…and today I wanted to simply list my favorite fictional people. Oh! How I wish they were real! Or that I were not, so that I could live in their world! This list is not in any particular order except with regards to number one. Number one is unchanging. Number one is so much higher above all the rest that he reigns supreme, even though he would be supremely uncomfortable doing so.

 

If you feel like playing along, leave me a comment with a link! You can use Mr. Squidly, and pick your own top ten whathaveyous, or use my idea. And Happy Tuesday!

 

1. Atticus Finch

(To Kill A Mockingbird)

 

2. Samwise Gamgee

(The Lord of The Rings)

 

3. Neville Longbottom

(Harry Potter)

 

4. Lucy Pevensie

(Chronicles of Narnia)

 

5. Lily Owen

(the Secret Life of Bees)

 

6. George Knightley

(Emma)

 

7. Jane Eyre

(Jane Eyre)

 

8. Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper

(The Prydain Chronicles)

 

9. Willy Wonka

(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

 

10. Anne Shirley

(Anne of Green Gables)

 

11. Jo March

(Little Women)

 

Oops, slipped one extra one in there. Sorry! Got carried away and had to make myself stop…