Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Galas Galore!

We have a Gala Semi-Dwarf apple tree that we bought in a 5-gallon container for about $10 on clearance a few years ago.

This little powerhouse (we'll call her Gale) is capable of producing oodles of apples on a weekly basis.

This evening I took a small basket out to pick the ones that were ready and quickly realized how much I had once again underestimated Gale and her ability to be fruitful and multiply.

I turned to Mr. Zipps, who was just over the fence, and pulled out the ever-classic, best movie line of all time.


So I've got about 10 or so pounds to use up. Last week we had baked apple pouches and chunky applesauce. This week was apple crisp. What applicious delight should I make with these?

Any suggestions?

Keep it up, Gale!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's Your Story?

So one of my favorite authors, whom I've mentioned before here, and you can get to know better here, also speaks at conferences and does seminars.

If you have read anything by Mr. Miller, and you know me, then you know why I connect with his writing so well. He writes true life in story format. Which is how I like to write. I do not write fiction. I write life. But not as advice, how-to, or factoid. Life as story.

People are always telling me, "I love how real you are." Well, I don't decide to be that way. It's not a concentrated effort or a decision. It's how it all comes out. Quite unfortunately, sometimes, for those who are in the line of fire. Because I just say what I say and tell what I tell - usually with a humor that makes a lot of people nervous unless they know me.

I talk about life like it is handed to me - like I live it. It's often not pretty. I tell almost every dumb thing I do. I don't try to hide much. What is the point? If you hide something, you may lose the opportunity to connect with someone else who may need to hear about that one thing to make them realize they aren't the only one.

If you put yourself out there as anything but exactly what you are, then being you becomes work instead of life. And isn't life already hard enough?

SO. In saying all of this, I'm trying to get out that every life is a story - and not always the one you originally outlined. The issue becomes finding the balance between being a participant in driving your storyline in a particular direction and letting the story unfold to see where it takes you - and realizing when you are in the between stages.

This is the most difficult part for me. It always has been. I tend to barrel through that part in the middle where I feel I'm stalling. My mind and heart are forever questioning where I'm going and why. Is this where I'm supposed to be? Did I make a wrong turn? There seems to be nothing here! God, can you please just get me there? And when I can't figure out where it is I'm going, where I want to go, where I should be going or where God is leading me - I get panicky about my life. I don't sit still very easily - physically or mentally.

A friend of mine knows how I struggle with this and recently recommended a book:

The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion
In The Land Between, author Jeff Manion uses the biblical story of the Israelite's journey through Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in undesired, transitional space. After enduring generations of slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob travel through the desert (the land between) toward their new home in Canaan. They crave the food of their former home in Egypt and despise their present environment. They are unable to go back and incapable of moving forward. The Land Between explores the way in which their reactions can provide insight and guidance on how to respond to God during our own seasons of difficult transition . . . While it is possible to move through transitions and learn little, they provide our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. God desires to meet us in our chaos and emotional upheaval, and he intends for us to encounter his goodness and provision during these upsetting seasons.

I have not read the book yet, and will be back with a review once I do.

This friend knows how much I struggle with this role I've been placed within and how I bounce back and forth between knowing this is where I need to be right now and being resentful, upset, anxious, and downright bewildered at not knowing the point of why I am where I am right now.

I have a degree in journalism and in my former life worked in advertising and then freelanced for a few years before becoming a full-time stay-at-home parent. I knew without a doubt that God wanted me to be home with my boys (at the time I had two). I was willing to put some things on hold, or at least slow them way down, to do this.

My goal has always been to be a full-time writer, but life keeps getting in the way. Raising three boys; having one, then two diagnosed on different parts of the autism spectrum (youngest with flat-out autism); wrapping my life around helping them overcome ...

In the meantime, where I want to be keeps getting pushed back and pushed aside. Little time. Little energy. Little motivation. And my confidence in my talent and abilities decreases with each passing year. (It's been 10 now).

Every time I try to take an opportunity to jump back in, to give it my all, it takes away from the emotional energy and time it takes to deal with my boys' issues. Well, let's be honest. They are exhausting and there is little left over in my mind at the end of the day.

Add in a new part-time job to help pay for meds and therapies, and I'm physically dragging, too. I don't feel that much of my time or mental energy is my own.

Which brings me back to Don Miller. Along with The Land Between recommendation, I discovered that Mr. Miller will be speaking at a conference called Living a Better Story. And being familiar with the way he approaches life, I'm sure it will be a couple of awesome days.

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

I would love to attend. But alas, I'm nowhere near Portland, Oregon; and nowhere near being able to use funds for something frivolous just for me that are slated for real life things in the Anderson abode.

That's just life!

So onward and upward. Or more appropriately for what I'm trying to get through my head: be still and know that I am Lord.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear Amy

The bacon of which I speak:

And the note that must be written on it when you have three boys - all of whom would eat the entire package unless told not to:

When Even Bacon Won't Make It All Better

You know it's all comin' down around you when stealing your son's bacon off his plate before school didn't make you feel any better. Yikes.

I love bacon. Who doesn't? Even my 7-year-old announcing, "You know where bacon comes from? A pig's butt," doesn't deter me. I love pigs. I live with three of them.

And when they make it vacuum-packed, already cooked so all you have to do is put it in the microwave oven and you still get nice, crispy bacon?  And you can get this amazing delicacy in HUGE PACKAGES AT SAM'S CLUB? WITH 72 MOUTH-WATERING SLICES? Oh sweet mother of all inventions.

It's like feeling guilty about an illicit affair. I guess? (And is there really any other kind of affair?)

You see - the grease, the mess, the clean up. That is a deterrent. That is what keeps me from bacon. The fat? The calories? Not enough. I would shave a few years off my life and accept a few inches around the middle for bacon. I would die for bacon.

But when even the closest-thing-to-heaven-on-earth taste of bacon doesn't make it all better - it's bad.

When it's Monday morning, and I'm not jumping for joy at having my alone time back when the younger boys are off to school - it's bad.

When it's a chilly morning for the first time in months and all the windows are open and fresh air is flowing through the house and I'm not giddy with the prospect of fall colors, smells, and wearing sweatshirts - it's bad.

What's so bad, you say?

I have green snot.
My throat hurts.
My head hurts.
I can't breathe.
I can't think.
Cough drops make bacon taste funny.
Bacon makes cough drops taste funny.


So I thought I'd make a big deal about it. People are dying. Kids are suffering. Animals need homes. They will never win the Whale Wars. But, hey - at least I'm writing.

Right, Brian?

Back in the saddle.

Now coffee. That will surely make it all better. Time to fire up the Keurig.

Monday, I'm back.



Seven-year-old autistic son decides no corner of White River Christian Church is suitable. Get to listen to sermon on marriage alone while husband walks halls with son.

Have to pull over on the way home because said son is upset and crying I can't stand not to hold him close.


12-year-old with Asperger's comes unglued at lunch over computer mouse. U.N.G.L.U.E.D.

Change of scenery. STAT!

Indianapolis Zoo.

Shark petting. Snake gawking. Cheetah racing. Ice cream eating. Lions "fighting." Baboons with red butts. Dolphins, rhinos, and giraffes. Oh my!

"I'm hungry!" (We just had ice cream.)
"I'm hot!" (It's the coolest day we've had in weeks.)
"Why is the dolphin show sold out?"
"What does 'sold out' mean?"
"I want to ride the coaster!!"
"I want to race a cheetah."
"I want to race a cheetah."
"Can I race a cheetah?"
"I couldn't beat a cheetah. I'm DUMB."
"I'm hungry."
"I'm hot."
"I'm hungry."
"I'm hungry."
"I'm hungry."
"I'm hungry."


Pork burgers on the grill for dinner.

"I want pork strips like last time." (pulled pork)
"I'm not hungry."


Bedtime. 9:00 p.m.

9:15. 7-year-old up.

"I want to sleep with Joel." (No. Not on school nights.)

9:17. 12-year-old still not in bed. 7-year-old up again.
"I can't find my fuzzy blanket." (in his closet)

9:20. 12-year-old back downstairs to charge MP3 player. 7-year-old back up.

9:22. 12-year-old in bathroom. 7-year-old complaining of being cold. It's August.

9:25. 12-year-old in my room to complain. Husband's head spinning around on shoulders like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

9:32. 12-year-old's threatened to have head rolled down hallway. 7-year-old silent. Finally.

9:45. 12-year-old back in bathroom. Sent back to room for 459th time.

9:52. 12-year-old's light is on. Upon investigation, he is sitting backwards in bed, reading Brain Quest questions. He's told to turn light off and GO TO SLEEP. He asks if he can ask me a question. I shut door mid-sentence to keep composure. For his own safety.

10:16. Text-chatting with BFF next door about 12-year-old's sleep habits (or lack thereof).

11:12. Read friend's blog about her lovely, productive day (I love you, Amy!) and decide to keep the universe in balance by posting about mine.

12:14 a.m. Watching Mad Men and drinking a coconut pineapple smoothie.

Not bad. For a day in the life of parents with kids on different parts of the Spectrum?

We had family time. We laughed. We tickled. We cried. We cuddled. We pushed through frustration, anger, upset - to break through the clouds to the sunshine.

Not a bad day at all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

And This Is Why I Love Donald Miller

And respect his writing. And follow his blog. And his tweets.

It seems that when I'm struggling, God leads me to something or someone that will speak to me about what is going on in my head or heart. Today has been no exception.

Perusing through my Google Reader this morning to catch up on blogs that I follow, the title of Miller's latest post I'd Rather Be Hated Than Loved Conditionally knocked me over. It was exactly how I am feeling, but have been unable to weave into discernible words and sentences. It was how I tried so desperately to explain to my husband last night bawling in the driveway, sitting in the car, after we took a drive to get a coffee. I could not mix the thoughts and feelings into anything that made sense.

And that sentence. That sentiment. That blog title could have rolled right out of my heart in those tears. I just couldn't pinpoint it. So God gave me a little boost.

I have been in a bad place this morning. I was still awake after 3am, slept on the couch, and woke up to realize I hadn't shaken the feelings. Going off on a friend, who even complimented what a good rant it was, didn't do any good. It merely made my feelings razor sharp. (Which is exactly what my son's therapist tells us that ranting does. Perhaps we should listen?)

I love to love. I love to do things for people. I don't do it for the return; in fact, when people thank me or say something nice about what I've done, it makes me feel weird inside. I don't accept it very well for some reason. I have just taken this to be another thing within me that doesn't work quite like it should. I even tell myself, "Just say thank you. That's it. Don't argue."

I do things that I see that need to be done. It's that simple. I can't stand for things to go undone. I want others to be happy. If I do something well, and someone else doesn't, I do not mind using my skill to make it easier on them. I think it's more of an obsessive/compulsive thing. And I'm serious. I just want people to be happy.

The unhappiness often slips into my heart when I can't overcome when someone else doesn't see it my way. Or do it my way. Or think like I think. The thing is, I am so much better about it than I used to be, but I can't seem to kick that last bit of it hanging onto my personality.

I have been cranky and grouchy and generally upset today because I was feeling it from the other side. I was feeling treated badly, loved but only with conditions, made to feel yucky. When I saw the title, I was thinking of myself. And I was so happy that words had been attached to how I was feeling!

Then I read on. And realized that God brought me here for another reason as well.

I will not say that I do not love unconditionally, because I feel I do much of the time; but I am guilty of letting differences irritate me to the point that I'm ruining my own day. I am guilty of not letting these things roll off my back. And I am guilty of becoming frustrated when someone else does this. I believe this is why God led me to Miller's post. A mini coming-to-Jesus meeting, of sorts.

If I want to be loved without strings, then I must must be willing to do it myself. Jesus was not a control freak and, for crying out loud, he certainly had the right to be! But he chose not to be.

If you want to be a control freak, by all means - do it. Control yourself and quit focusing on when those around you aren't doing what you want, when you want, in exactly the way you want and are absolutely sure is the best way to do it.

And we are not talking about parenting here, where you are there to correct and lead. Not this time. What this is about is adult, consenting relationships. Adults do not need to be treated like children by other adults. They do not need to be treated well on the condition that they are doing life your way. 

Relationships are give and take - and that does not mean you give orders and conditions and those in your life take them and go about life so you will be happy. You give love, you take love; you give in sometimes, they give in sometimes; you give leeway, they give leeway; you give a good ribbing, they take it; they give a good ribbing, and you take it.

Laugh, talk, discuss the good and the bad. Let others be able to talk to you about how they feel without fear of ridicule and criticism. Listen. Love. Comfort. You do not have to agree to be supportive. And get this: sometimes your opinion doesn't matter.

I'm sure Jesus wanted to throttle 80% of those he encountered during his ministry on earth. He felt pain. He felt sadness. He was tempted. He was human. However, as God's son he could have called out everyone he had relationships with on how wrong they were about the way they went about so much in their lives. Yes, he cared for their well-being. Yes, he knew there was a better way. Yes, he could see their ways were not lining up with his. But he did not browbeat, did not criticize, did not act condescendingly to make them see things his way. He acted quietly and lovingly. Amazingly, the end does not always justify the means.

I was feeling browbeaten and realized that I was feeling conditionally loved, but ended up with so much more. I am feeling convicted to look inward instead of point fingers.

Thanks, Donald, for being the conduit for God's message to me this morning. It seems he's been trying to reach me without success.