{Site currently under construction. Grace for my mess?}

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ready. Set. Go.

Sometimes when God moves, He does it slowly.  And we frantic people run around anxiously, buzzing here and there, spitting out hasty prayers and all the while saying hurryuphurryuphurryuphurryuphurryupGodpleasewon’tyouhurryup?!

And sometimes, even after we’ve lingered awhile in that fretful pace of waiting, He moves with such gusto and solidarity that we’re about knocked clean over while we sit there with our jaws hanging open, silenced in awe at the way love and power and grace and wisdom can manifest in tangible reminders that God is who He says He is.

Last time I posted here, I said I was in a waiting place.

I had been there awhile, and I was getting restless.

And boy… was I bowled over this week when He swept me right out of that waiting place and into a moving place, a go ahead place, a tie-on-your-tennis-shoes-and-let’s-do-this-thing place.  And I struggled to get in gear because I’d sat on my laurels awhile already and stuttered and stumbled a bit when my feet hit the pavement.  My legs are a little wobbly yet, proverbially speaking.  

This is also a goodbye place, and it will be crushingly hard.  And it will be good.

For awhile now, my identity has been a little wrapped up in my one-word job description.  I am a houseparent.  I do residential child care for abused and neglected teenagers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and I wear a fat bracelet to cover over the other one-word identity that is branded across my wrist…the word in black under-skin ink, the reminder, directive, and command to my heart and hands:  “write”.  

I wear the bracelet because covering tattoos is a dress code policy and I wear the bracelet because covering and quieting my fervor for writing is the way I’ve managed to fill my time with anything else.

It is scary to call yourself a writer, isn’t it? 

This will be my last month as a housemom.  This will also be my last month as a Texan.  Come October, I’ll be back in Oregon – back in the land of pine trees and evergreens, lakes and rivers and cold northwestern air, and I will drink apple cider and wear a scarf again this fall while the leaves change before my eyes and the icy wintering air sucks the breath right out of my body. 

God willing.

And the life that is before me now will have less sweet tea and less southern phraseology and less laundry and (much) less high school football and hopefully less tears, but more of our families and more of the church I love and more camping and more laughing and maybe a glass of wine every now and then.  And more writing.  Much more writing.

I happened to stumble across this yesterday, and let my heart dance a bit with possibility while my stomach flip-flopped in all the possibility already before me on this new journey.  The High Calling is giving away one spot to the Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat this fall.  I have been drooling unceremoniously over the creative non-fiction workshop by Gregory Wolfe for weeks already, but just haven't been able to make the dollars materialize so I could attend the retreat.  Laity Lodge happens to be a short drive from here, in my favorite part of Texas, and the retreat also happens to be during the last weekend I’ll live in this state.  It falls smack-dab on the days I’ll make my maybe-only-mental transition from Fumbling Southern Housemom to Fumbling Northwestern Writer, and… well… I really can’t imagine a better way to end my Texas journey to begin another one.  Consider me, High Calling, would you?  Would it help if I begged?  

And so, while I wait for the retreat winner to be announced and I wait for the pieces of my new stage of life to come together, and I pack up a house while thirteen people still live in it, I’ll have my hands full a bit these next few weeks.  Thanks in advance, readers and friends, for your grace if my presence around this place is a little spotty over the next few weeks.  Thank you, too, if you should happen to offer up a prayer on behalf of my family, especially the children of my body and the children of my heart as we all make a big transition this October, with many tears and many hopes and many sweet memories of the time we've had in this place.  May God be glorified, despite the fumbling.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Congrats, Jessica!


You won the My Memories Suite Giveaway! 

For everyone that didn't win (and even those of you that didn't get around to entering), My Memories Suite is still giving ALL Whimsy Smitten readers a $10 discount off the purchase of the software AND a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store.  What a deal, right?  Just visit www.mymemories.com and enter coupon code: STMMMS75704 for your discount.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Light in a Waiting Place

I’m in a waiting place.

Contentment in the waiting is the least strongest of my virtues.  Or, should I say, a virtue that I don’t really have at all.

I am eternally wrought with impatience.  I am restless.  I am ever-in-a-hurry for changing landscapes and new news.

I usually hate that about myself, but… there it is. 

I got up early this morning, for no other reason than the bed was too stiff and my back was too sore and the ticking clock on the nightstand was digging into my brain until I could take no more.  My feet shuffled to the kitchen and I grabbed coffee and listened to a little silence and sat in the living room, where my big windows let in all the light.

I leave my blinds open all. the. time.  And not just open like the slats are horizontal, but open like the cord is pulled down to the floor and every bit of window is exposed to the outside world.

This drives my husband bonkers (Do you want the whole world to see in here?!), but I can’t help it. 

I just need me some light up in here.  As much of it as I can get, really. 

I want sunlight to spill across the teal carpet that I hate and bounce off the tarnished brass corners on the ugly coffee table.  I want the warm yellow light to flood across the already-yellow linoleum, cracks glinting in exposure, and all our window streaks revealed. I want to be reminded, in the dark and blah of this home that’s not my own, that we’re really just a part of the big, wide expanse beyond these walls.  I want the light to cover over all this darkness, to wash away the ugly and give life to the old and the dark and the hopeless.

The sunlight warms my face, even behind the glass, and everything looks fresh and new in the dawn.  I am grateful for the light that I can nearly taste today, the big bright deluge that pours inside and covers all.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:4

-          Relief from a difficult situation
-          Memories of home
-          Polka dots
-          Lazy days off that still held plenty of productivity
-          The first day of school today – Connections Academy for us this year
-     A freshened up school room that's also a dining room, with pencils sharpened and books at the ready
-          Laugh lines around my husband’s eyes
-          My biggest baby boy, turning 12 tomorrow
-          Sweet anticipation of the unknown
-          Sixty-six days ‘til this
-          To-die-for Mexican food, for a mere couple-a bucks
-          Beauty, in unlikely places

Don't forget to visit my last post to enter the My Memories Suite giveaway!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Memories Suite - GIVEAWAY!

Have you heard of My Memories Suite?

This is a wonderful digital scrapbooking software program that makes quick work of digital albums.  Even if you’ve never scrapbooked before, you can use My Memories Suite to create albums, newsletters, slide shows.

Imagine my delight when they contacted me with a free download of their software to give away to one lucky WhimsySmitten reader!  I regularly used My Memories Suite (and loved it) before this, so a giveaway copy for my readers is just icing on the cake. 

I’ve used this software for a bunch of different stuff, but last Christmas, My Memories Suite came to my rescue.  I made digital layouts in a jiffy to create a calendar, then uploaded and had them printed.  Voila – gifts for all the parents/grandparents.  Here are a few examples of things I’ve made with the software:

Aren’t they cute?  (The pages, I mean… I know the kids are cute – wink, wink).

(Note, some elements/embellishments used on those pages were digital files I already had, some were directly from the My Memories Suite software, but the software was used to compile all the pages above.)

Now that I have you itchin’ for your own copy of the software, here’s a few ways to enter:

1)      Visit www.mymemories.com.  Comment here with one feature of the software you like, or your favorite digital paper pack or layout.
2)      Like MyMemoriesSuite on Facebook and “like” them, then leave a comment on this post that you did or follow MyMemoriesSuite on Twitter, then leave a comment on this post that you did.
3)      Become a follower of this here blog via Google Friend Connect or Blogger.com, and leave a comment on this post letting me know.
4)      Blog, tweet, or facebook about this giveaway and post a comment here letting me know that you did.

One entry for each one of the above, multiple entries allowed and encouraged!  Comments will be closed and winner will be announced Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by 10 p.m. CST.  Remember, you must leave a separate comment on this post for each one of the above entries in order to have all entries counted.  Please make sure your email is listed in your profile or I have some other way of contacting you if you win.  Unfortunately, only one of you can win.

But wait!  There’s more!

(Did you picture me saying that in my very best infomercial voice?  I thought so.)

If you just can’t wait for the winner to be announced and for everyone that doesn’t win, My Memories Suite is also giving ALL Whimsy Smitten readers a $10 discount off the purchase of the software AND a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store.  What a deal, right?  Just visit www.mymemories.com and enter coupon code: STMMMS75704 for your discount.

Thanks to the fine folks at My Memories Suite for giving away this awesome product.  Now, run…don’t walk… over to MyMemories.com and check this program out!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five Minute Friday - No Sight for Sore Eyes

Beauty means something else these days, since coming to Texas… maybe since becoming a mother, I’m not entirely sure.

I’m a woman that believes in at least a decent attempt to look like a woman even if I’m really just a mom, and that a killer pair of high heels and knock-em-dead mascara can do wonders for a woman’s energy and self-esteem.


My “uniform” here is usually something made of half-bleached cotton (we have funky and highly chlorinated water and nothing is sacred in the washing machine, it seems).  My hair-do is practically tragic and I haven’t put on a pair of heels all year.  It is easy to feel all run-ragged, to live in pajamas and not recognize my own self in the mirror many days, and eleven kids is sure enough to make my femininity drain right through my chipped toenails.

I can doll myself up and slip into something frilly and feel beautiful.

Or I can dish a second helping of chili mac (don’t judge) onto a kid’s plate and tousle his head and kiss my husband long and deep… and be beautiful.  I can stumble with eyes half-closed in the night hours to soothe a baby and I can gather up the gumption to apologize after an argument, even if I don’t think I’m wrong.  I am not a sight for sore eyes these days, but oh that the Lord would make me, in my weakness and through His strength, a balm for hurting hearts. 

Linking to:  The Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

I hate that phrase, but... I couldn't help myself.

Congratulations, Jeniffer Smith!  

Thanks to Random.org.  Jeniffer, you won the DaySpring Back-to-School Giveaway!  Hope you find something nice!  I'll be emailing you shortly with a code/info. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Side Effects of Fruit

Last night I cried and into the pitch-black hours where coyotes howled beyond the window I lurched and pitched, shoulders wracking with the sobs so deep they hurt my rib bones.

And I just couldn’t manage the silence another night.  Couldn’t bear to say the things, the words already tumbling out of my howling mouth, making up excuses for the God who stays silent while I thrash and demand an answer, demand a word to free me, and instead make my own way in impatience, walking barefoot on proverbial broken glass and know that I don’t want it to be this way.  No, no… this will never work, and I am forgetting what to hope will come of all this.

But I have come this far under my own influence.  I have come all this way and now, He nods in my direction.  “Go on.  Have it your way.”  

So He waits quiet to see what I will do next but of course already knows and I wait but don’t know already and I mumble-pray-weep-plead that He just have something up His sleeve.  And all the while I am Eve and I long for that fruit of selfishness and I too wonder why He is keeping good things from me, and the serpent winds between my feet while my pillow swallows tears and before I know it, I’m hissing along with the serpent’s song.  I have it in my head that what God wants for me is only hard living.  I am parched and licking lips for what I’m sure He must be keeping beyond my grasp.

And isn’t that the lie that gets us every time?

That He is keeping something good from us?  That He is the God Who Holds Back?

And the hours pass ‘til I stir with fever and the delirium hasn’t faded.  How does a girl paralyzed learn to walk in silence?  How do I move an inch without knowing the way, and I am filled with doubt and fear and all the side effects of being Eve and eating fruit. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back-to-School Giveaway!

I am now and always have been a bit of a word nerd, a girl made happy with book pages and fresh paper.  For that and many reasons, Fall is my favorite time of year. 

It always started in early August, though there would be a month still until the school year began.  I began my plea early and often, pestering my mother to take me on the best shopping trip of the year.

For me, it was never about fashion.  New school clothes were fine, but a girl like me really got jazzed about rows of unsharpened pencils, Pee-Chee folders, and piles of college-ruled notebook paper.  Back-to-school was always an exciting adventure – the thrill of scaling the mountain ahead, fully equipped with all the right supplies for the journey.

Now, it’s my kids’ turn to oooh and aaah over fresh new school gear, blank pages, and the shavings of brand-new pencils.  Our classroom is the dining table, but also the meadow, the zoo, the Internet, the beach, the factory, and the shade tree, and our education is ever-widening, often on display for the world to see.  It is a little far-reaching, this thing we call school, in that we try and incorporate as much life into our education as we incorporate education into our life.

This year, we’ll be rocking DaySpring’s new Back to School with a Purpose collection, and showing those in and around our not-always-at-home-school that love and grace and faith and fun rolls right in there with the way we educate.  It’s true.  I do know where love comes from, and I gotta smile when the joy of new school supplies helps us spread the word.  After all, it’s no secret.

It’s also no secret that I love my readers, and just for sticking through me here, I’ve got a little somethin’ for one of you.  Who wants $20 to spend in the DaySpring Online store?  Ooooh, all those hands raised – now it’s really looking like back-to-school time around here! 

Entry is easy-peasy:  Leave a comment with your favorite DaySpring product/product line, “like” WhimsySmitten on Facebook (link on sidebar), follow me on Twitter (link on sidebar), or become a new follower of this blog, and each one will get you one entry.  For more than one entry, please leave a separate comment here on this post (one comment for each entry), and make sure your blog or profile gives an e-mail address where I can notify you.  Comments/entries will be closed at 10 p.m. central time on Thursday, August 11th. Winner will be randomly chosen among entries on Friday, August 12.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Hole in My Wholeness

Five Minute Friday:  "Whole".
Join us?  Write for just 5 minutes, no editing, no fussing, no stressing.  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I used to be whole.  I know what it looks like.  I’m aware of the source.

And yet.

I chase wholeness down with good deeds, commitments, conversations.  Pursue it with perfection-set eyes, just so very sure that if I was only good enough, I would be whole again.

All the while, there is a hole in my wholeness.

And in all my chasing down goodness, the hole widens and looms, gaping, and my tennis shoes scuff the edge as I brace and try not to fall in to the chasm between my goodness and His goodness – the hole that leads down the rabbit hole, into the unknown, into the giving up of all I ever thought I knew.

(I seem to be channeling Lewis Carroll these days, but I digress.) 

Goodness is not wholeness.

And man, how I have gotten it confused.

So my shoes toe closer to that widening pit and I peer down into the black and spin around, then throw my arms wide and…


Into my own imperfection.  Into the unknown.  Into the gap of all I cannot and never will be in control of. 

I freefall into grace.

In the hole where I can be made whole.  In the vast wide hole of faith and trust and stretching arms and heart wide open to receive what I can never do and never be and never give without Him.


Crazy, extravagant, stunning, radiant grace.

And in this gap where the grace rains down, I am filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18).  And my goodness floods in the light of His goodness and I can take a breath and stop striving for anything I can do in my own strength.  The grace…just…floods.  And this is what it means to be whole. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Rest and Kind Words

As for my little vacation, I'll just leave ya with a few lingering images.  It was wonderful...albeit too short, but restful nonetheless -- precisely what the doctor ordered.

A true delight, though, was coming home to discover that David Rupert at The High Calling had featured Whimsy Smitten in this month's Around the Network post.  He had some delightful and encouraging things to say about this little blog, and I am blessed by the feature, particularly to be included with the other talented bloggers featured along with me.  Thanks David! Go see the post here.