Monday, June 30, 2008


So I'm making lunch for my kids, and they choose bell peppers as their vegetable.  As I take them out I think to myself,  "These are so bright and pretty.  My sister-in-law would take a picture of them.  I could do that, but I refuse to start taking pictures of food.  Nope, I don't need one more thing to obsess over."

Next thing I know, Benjamin says, "Mom, those are so bright, you should take a picture of them."  The way the boy thinks like me is SO scary!

You started it, Aunt Mary.  (But they really are pretty, aren't they?)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Women of the Bible

There is a cool contest going on at Christian Women Online's Internet Cafe.  To enter you have to comment and tell which woman from the Bible you would want to have coffee with.  All of the obvious ones were already taken by the time I showed up:  Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary and Martha, Eve, Ruth, Esther, Sarah, and Hannah.  Even Eunice and Lois (Timothy's mother and grandmother), Priscilla, Leah, and Phoebe had been mentioned.  And I would really like to have coffee with the women still living who chose Rahab and Delilah.  I'm with you.

So who is left?  Well, I thought of Deborah first--how in the world did this woman rise from a male-dominated society into a position of power and leadership?  But then I settled on three others whose lives must have changed beyond recognition after they each individually encountered the same man:  the Lord Jesus.

Have you ever said anything that turned out to be so profound in your life that you can hardly believe it came out of your own mouth?  When Lee and I first began dating, there were some heavy issues Lee had been dealing with that left him feeling unworthy of a promising future.  I told him that I thought he was about to have an encounter with grace.  Several weeks later, he referenced my comment, saying, "Remember when you told me I was about to receive grace?"  I quickly corrected him, saying, "No.  I told you you were about to have an encounter with grace.  Whether you receive it or not is entirely up to you."  Well, he has.  And we both continue to receive grace upon grace in our lives.  Freedom from legalism, having acknowledged that, no, we are not worthy.  Freedom to celebrate that God is crazy about us and wants to use us anyway. 

So I would like to meet three women who had huge encounters with Grace Himself:  the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and the woman who touched His garment for healing.  I would like to know the rest of the story.  Did they receive His grace and find freedom?  How were their lives transformed?

I can't wait for heaven.  We'll have eternity to hear every story.  I hope there is a Caribou Coffee.  I'll have a Mint Condition, please.  Or maybe a Turtle mocha...there will be time to try one of everything!  

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ten Amazing Years: I Had No Idea

June 27, 1998

Dear Sweet Man,

On the day we married, I had no idea.

I had no idea what romance awaited us or how many ways we would experience God’s faithfulness together.

I had no idea how much I would treasure your godly character and integrity until I saw our tiny Benjamin, gazing into your eyes and wanting to be just like you.

I had no idea what an anchor your steady consistency would be until I saw the confidence growing in our sweet Bethany’s face each time you held her hand.

I had no idea that being a family together with you would bring so much laughter and such intense joy.

I had no idea that the simple moments of walking and chatting or being goofy at home would often bring as much pleasure as the monumental ones.

I had no idea that I could fall in love with you all over again, deeper than before, each time I learned something new about you by what you did or said.

If someone had tried to tell me, my heart wouldn’t have been big enough to hold the truth of it.

The funny thing is, it will happen again, and when it does, I’ll still be amazed.

You are the surprise of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Color Update

Thanks to everyone who gave feedback about my blog color. I shut the poll down early because Shanna was kind enough to not only give feedback, but tell me what I could DO about it! Thank you Shanna!! You're my new hero. (By the way, for my mom friends looking for food their kids will like, she has a cool shared blog called Good Stuff, Maynard!)

Also, thanks to Jane, who was kind enough to have a contest for the weirdest parenting moment, which I won with this picture and post! My prize was some awesome digital scrapbooking supplies, which provided my new papery background (and much more!).

This is definitely a work in progress, but I didn't want to scare any more people away. I'm happy for now until there is more time, but alas it's summer, and I'd rather play outside!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ten Amazing Years: Something That We Do

I've had a wonderful time wandering through our ten years of marriage over the past couple of months, but this week it will be time to wrap it up.  I'm working on the grand finale right now. It involves a song by Clint Black called "Something That We Do".

Before I met Lee, I was no fan of country music.  Lee is not that big on it either, but he was BORN to SING it.  Every now and then when we're driving down the road he flips through the channels and lands on a country love song and sings it to me. Don't ask me how he knows the words.  All I know is that it melts me into a puddle every time.

Just about the time we were married, he stumbled on this one, and it never fails to make me cry. This song is the bottom line of what makes our marriage work.  God holds it together, most definitely, but this is what makes it work.  Check back in at the end of the week to hear it, but for now, here are the lyrics:

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn't something that we find
It's something that we do

It's holding tight, lettin' go
It's flying high and laying low
Let your strongest feelings show
And your weakness, too
It's a little and a lot to ask
An endless and a welcome task
Love isn't something that we have
It's something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start

It gives me heart remembering how
We started with a simple vow
There's so much to look back on now
Still it feels brand-new
We're on a road that has no end
And each day we begin again
Love's not just something that we're in
It's something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start

Love is wide, love is long
Love is deep and love is strong
Love is why I love this song
And I hope you love it too
I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
Love isn't just those words we said
It's something that we do

There's no request too big or small
We give ourselves, we give our all
Love isn't someplace that we fall
It's something that we do

Sunday, June 22, 2008


"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

Each week this year our church bulletin has a verse that everyone is encouraged to commit to memory in the week ahead. We often review it as a family on the 20 minute drive to church the next Sunday. So this morning we were working on the verse above. I had so many thoughts about the depths of truth in that one verse that it was a little like drinking out of a fire hydrant.

But one thought piggy-backed off of my "Safe!" post earlier this week. As a mom, I find that I panic when my kids make bad choices (i.e. indulge their sinful nature), especially when they are unsafe or when they ignore me when I ask them to stop what they are doing. Sometimes I wonder why my emotions (and often my temper) escalate so fast when this happens. These are not usually my finest parenting moments. My knee-jerk response is to control the situation by tightening the reins and take away their freedom. While this seems perfectly justified, and may be a wise choice if executed well, I often regret it afterwards and wonder if there isn't a better way for them to learn to make better choices.

We are called to freedom. Freedom from the burden of our sin. Freedom from guilt and second guessing ourselves and the condemnation of God, and free to ignore the condemnation of others. Freedom TO serve and TO love without wondering if we're worthy (we're not, but that is all taken care of).

So how does God parent us when we use our freedom to indulge the sinful nature? I'm sure he doesn't panic and give us knee-jerk responses. What could I learn from His example? I need to process this, but, what do YOU think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


One day when our kids were really little, we were all loading into the van to go somewhere. Out of nowhere, Ben says, "Dad will be the driver, and Mom will be the watcher." Lee replied, "Well then what does that make you?" To which Ben immediately replied with a big grin, "Safe!"

Oh, that we could truly make him safe. But an x-ray at the orthopedic assures us that this is not possible. The big toe is broken. Definitely broken. On the growth plate. A month in the boot.

Dr.: So baseball season is over.
Ben: No, it goes to the middle of July,
Dr. (looking Ben straight in the eye): No, for YOU, baseball season is over. Do you understand that?
Ben (being as brave as possible): Oh.
Me (silently): Thank you God for Dr.!

So what are ya gonna do to keep 'em safe? Tell them they can't play in the basement with their friends because they might accidentally get their toes stepped on? Strap them to their beds?

I found it surprising after the 9/11 attacks that so many people seemed shocked that something like that could happen in America. AMERICA! And now I just laugh when I drive by the airport and the sign says the alert level is ORANGE. Hello. It's been orange for the past 6 1/2 years. Does knowing this make me safer? We expect to have security provided for us, but the reality is that as long as there are people bent on doing harm, regardless of the consequences, nobody can keep us safe.

We could dig ourselves a hole, stock it with supplies, and crawl in, I suppose. But is that safety?

I was impressed by a video I saw by Sara Groves the other day. She was describing the impact of her visits to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Rwanda in the aftermath of genocide. She said she had previously tended to be a little paranoid , wanting to protect her small children from every imaginable harm. But now, after seeing those who had suffered so much, she wants to empower her kids to be the kind of bold followers of Christ who would actually be willing to take risks, or sacrifice some comfort or relative "security" to add some beauty to their world. Me too.

Here's real safety:

"I will lie down and sleep in peace; for you ALONE, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

Wordless Wednesday: Sidelined???

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Day 1:  Friday, June 13

(Good thing we're not superstitious!)

Potential season-ending injury.  We'll keep you posted.
(And look at him still smiling.  Bless his little heart!!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ten Amazing Years: Bethany

And then along came Bethany, less than two years after Ben. It didn't take Daddy long to give her the title "High Adventure Girl". One day when they were very small, I said to Ben for some reason, "You are a smart somebody!" To which he replied (gleefully), "And Bethany is a determined somebody!" Hmm, wonder where he heard THAT! Alas it's true, she was determined from the start to keep up with her brother, but in her own, more graceful way. Mostly.

Bethany has always had a way with words. When she was younger, she loved to go to her cousins' to see the "monsters" (hamsters). And up until recently, her favorite position to play in baseball was the "vampire". One of my very favorite pastimes it just watching her do her thing. She takes my breath away.

You can have some fun "girl time" with Bethany by visiting my favorite posts about her:

A lot of people have said she looks like her mom, but I'm not so sure...

(Note: To see the rest of the scrapbook that goes with the collage above, click here.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Irises in bloom

I love the fact that my irises are almost always in bloom on June 10th. It was my mom's birthday, and they were her favorites. Almost like a little hello from heaven.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We're so lame

Ben's buddy was over today, while Bethany was at his house playing with his sister.  Ben and his friend were playing about five feet away from me.

Buddy to Ben:  Your family is really lame.
Me (in a surprised voice):  Why do you say that?
Buddy:  Well, when things are kind of noisy or crazy at our house, Bethany like hides in the bathroom.
Me:  Really?  And that's lame?
Buddy:  Yeah.
Me:  Well what does lame mean to you?
Buddy:  It's like really calm.
Me:  Really?  Well, I think that most people would not necessarily think that lame was a compliment. I think of it more like, uh, dumb or stupid.
Buddy (with big eyes):  NO!  You're one of the nicest families I've ever met!

So there you have it.  Lucky us.  We're nice.  And lame.  But don't ask me how he figures we're calm!  (Do you suppose he meant TAME???)

(Note to self:  Remember to ask Bethany why she was hiding in the bathroom.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Meet our new neighbors!

We went to meet our new neighbors today! We have been awaiting their arrival for a long time! Click here to see a scrapbook about our day.

Note: This is a new and very cool experiment. Please let me know if you try it, whether it works for you. Once you get there it might take a minute to load. Then I recommend clicking "full-screen" at the bottom, and then to see each page better, click zoom in and then zoom out when you're finished. Click the yellow arrows in the little daisies to go forward and backward. Go ahead, give it a whirl!

UPDATE: This scrapbook now has three VIDEOS on it where there used to be still photos! I have been dreaming of this day for OH SO LONG! I'm not excited or anything. ;-D

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ten Amazing Years: Benjamin

So along came Benjamin. He defies being summed up, because just when you think you've put your finger on him, he squirms right out and gives you something new to consider. Let's just say I knew I was in trouble when he was three. We gave him a mini Blue's Clues computer for Christmas. It took him a few days to figure out the answer to every single question Steve could throw his way, and then he started giving the wrong answers. On purpose. And then giggling. "Don't you want Steve to know that you know the right answer?" I asked. More giggling. Thank the Lord he has not become the underachiever that I then feared he would be. Seriously!

Visit him for yourself at my favorite posts about him. He is so much fun!

True Love
Parlez Vous?
On the eighth day of Christmas...
Today's stretch of the road
Fun with Ben and Bethany
Never a dull moment

A lot of people say he looks like his dad...

Ten Amazing Years: A Dream Come True

Look at that sweet, peaceful face. Our Benjamin. I was holding him in the hospital just like that, with tears streaming down my face, when Lee came over and asked, "Did you get what you wanted?" He knows joyful tears when he sees them.

What I wanted? Oh, and for how long???

What young woman doesn't dream of being a wife and a mom? Well, maybe a few, but I wasn't one of them. There were a few men along the way, but none of them was for keeps.

But there is a God who is for keeps. THE one and only SURE THING. And after a trip to Haiti my senior year in college, I was hooked on following this God wherever He took me. So my twenties were pretty adventurous, and then when I turned 31 I found myself about to board a plane to Central Asia for two years. I think this is when it occurred to me that the wife and mom dream might never be a reality for me. So I got on the plane and left my dream in God's hands.

God could have kept that dream and still remained His faithful self. But the day I first held Benjamin was the day I realized my dreams had been returned to me completely. Even beyond my imagination. He is a faithful keeper of dreams.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory..." Ephesians 3:20-21

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The New Journey

I've decided on a solution to my mid-blog crisis. I am going to combine my two blogs into this one. The compartmentalized me is not working. I think I'm going to like this much better!

But for those of you who really just want to keep up with the kids, you will have to scroll through my ramblings to get to the photos. Sorry about that! You just might like never know!

And for those of you who are more interested in my ponderings (who am I kidding??), you will have to tiptoe through the tulips with the kids on your way. It will be good for you!

And finally, for those of you who have me on Google Reader, you have my apology. I am moving the best of the Tracy's Scrapbook posts over to The Journey. Please bear with me. I am attempting to publish them all at once so you can just delete them all together--unless of course you haven't read them yet! In that case, read...and better yet, comment!

Ten Amazing Years: First Anniversary

Here we are on our first anniversary in one of my favorite places.  The trails at Gooseberry Falls were a little more interesting to navigate at seven months pregnant.  In fact, some other hikers looked downright nervous when we started the ascent back up from Lake Superior.  No problem.  Ben was born ten days late, and would barely be coerced from the womb at that point.  (But that's a whole different story!)

I was 36 years old, and had just closed down my 15 year teaching career.  It was at this point that I lost almost all of my previous identity.  But I've discovered that the background is a very comfortable place for me.  And although I still get a lot of satisfaction from all that I accomplished in my former life, I think I enjoy the freedom to dream of and explore the possibilities before me even more. But this time along with the loves of my life.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Our Great God

Yesterday the worship leader at church gave people a chance to tell about the ways God has shown Himself to be great in their lives. After a few minutes, there was a sweet outpouring of little ways and big ways that people have seen Him at work. I love that.

You don't have to read my blog for long to know that this is a time of amazing abundance in my life and family. We are enjoying life like crazy. We certainly see this as a demonstration of God's goodness in our lives, but his blessings aren't what make him great. We have also experienced times of great loss and need, and our God was just as great in his mercy and comfort and provision.

The thing that was going through my mind was this passage from Ephesians 3:16-19 (and beyond):

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp 
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

This passage is so familiar to me that I am prone to make the mistake of assuming that by now I have already grasped how wide and long and high and deep Christ's love is. But this endeavor could last a thousand lifetimes. I wonder, do I even have a clue of the dimensions of His love?

So Lord, make me still enough to search out how truly great you are. It's not enough to be a "cup half full" person--I want to be filled with the measure of ALL your fullness!

How has God demonstrated his greatness in your life?