Friday, January 30, 2009

From Dread to Delight

On Wednesday I got one of those phone calls that puts a pit in your stomach.

"Jennifer, this is Carli Robinson from Southside Christian School. I was wondering if you could come in tomorrow at 2 p.m. We need to make you aware of some issues that we've been having with your sons."

"Both of them????"

"Yes, both of them. Can you come in at 2 tomorrow?"

Gulp. "Yes, I can be there."

It was my annual call from the teacher. Once a school year I get a call like this. To the boys' credit, it is never exactly the same issue twice and after the one meeting the issues are usually resolved for the remainder of the year. This is because the boys fear me (a little) and David (a lot). This is a good, healthy kind of fear. The kind of fear we should have before God. The kind of fear that is bathed in love and rooted in a deep desire to please Dad. For the most part, the teachers know they will have an ally in us, and that just alerting us to the problem is more than enough to make our boys get serious about solving it.

Here is the really twisted part: though I dread these parent-teacher conferences, I always come away from them feeling deeply grateful for my children, proud of who they are, and confident that that God is hard at work in their lives. The "issues" are never big surprises to me and they are things that would not even be addressed if my boys were in a public school setting--the teachers always make a point of telling me this. Through these conferences I get a glimpse of my boys through the eyes of the people to whom I entrust them for almost 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. While there are the "issues" to deal with, the other things I hear are so affirming. They love Graham's dry sense of humor. They delight in Chandler's enthusiasm. They go on and on and on about how smart they are--almost as if they need to convince me (they don't). They speak of leadership abilities, gifted writing abilities, evidence of integrity. I smile inside, bursting with pride.

In the end, I am thankful for teachers who genuinely love my boys and want them to experience God's best. And I am thankful for two boys who want the same thing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm a Quack!

I buy eggs from my neighbor, and they are SO much better than grocery store eggs. And prettier, too, don't you think? These eggs often have double yolks and the yolks are always a deep, rich yellow. As a breakfast lover, fresh eggs are one of my favorite things. But my neighbor has recently added ducks to her laying line-up, and as the ducks are quite prolific, I am getting about 4 duck eggs in every dozen. I didn't think this would be a big deal, I mean how different can they be? However, the other day Graham made himself a fried egg with a duck egg, and he had such a hard time choking it down. He thinks it was more the idea of it than the taste of it that was causing him pause. But why? On one hand, I totally understood his hesitation, but on the other hand, neither of us could rationalize why it was any different from a chicken egg. So I wonder, would you eat a duck egg? I could just use them in baking, but they are considerably larger than the chicken eggs, so I worry that they would mess up the recipe.

These are the moments when I realize that no matter how I try to be a "country girl," when it comes right down do it, I have "city slicker" written all over me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Well

Poor David is sicker than a dog. He worsened over the weekend, and plans to get in to see a doctor today. His cough sounds painful, he is now sporting a low grade fever, and he really isn't much fun. Will you pray for him? And me. I'm not very good at this nurse Nancy thing. I much prefer David taking care of me, and actually so does he. Which means we are both out of our element.

We are leaving for our Greater Europe Mission Orientation in Monument, Colorad0 this coming Saturday. This is our THIRD scheduled orientation...something has always seemed to get in the way of our going. Last week I would not have imagined that David could possibly still be sick by the time we were supposed to go, but now I am concerned.

I suspect this could be more than just a nasty bug. Please pray.


David has a sinus infection, and is now on antibiotics. I anticipate a full recovery by the time we depart for Colorado! Thanks for praying.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


For the past 10 years I have run 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week. It is a routine I started in an effort to lose the baby weight from my pregnancy with Chandler. For the first three years it was a dreaded task--every single time I went. Then it became a tolerable ritual--I still didn't like to do it, but I liked how I felt because I did it. Eventually, over the last two years or so, running had actually become a beloved habit. I no longer HAD to run, I WANTED to run.

But in December Spokane got 70 inches of snow--and it was veritably impossible for me to run for about three weeks. At first, this was crazy-making. My running had become an addiction, and I felt downright fidgety when I couldn't run every other day or so. I am certain that my running hiatus contributed to a major flare up of my insomnia, a two-week battle with constipation, and the TILT reading that registers when I step on the scale. But despite the negative side effects of my abundant inactivity, my body did finally adjust to a sedentary life. I could have started running again about three weeks ago, but I had been lazy long enough that the urge to run had completely escaped me.

So while I am once again sleeping and, well, "regular," the bonus pounds from the holidays are still hanging around, limiting me to the larger sizes in my wardrobe and creating a overwhelming desire to shower blind-folded. I realized it was time to dig out the running shoes from the bottom of my closet and hope that my now snug running pants didn't offend my neighbors.

It did occur to me that my fitness level might have decreased, since the most strenuous workouts I had endured in six weeks were carrying laundry and kneading bread dough. I did not, however, expect to be completely out of shape. I ran ONE pathetically slow mile, and I thought I was going to DIE. I was winded, nauseated, and exhausted from a very short run on flat terrain. It probably didn't help that I had eaten half a pound of Jelly Bellys just before I went. After ten years of running, it took only six weeks for me to lose any endurance I had built.

While I was catching my breath (which, honestly, was like an hour long process) I began to think of how often the Bible likens our spiritual training to physical training. When I am in the habit of seeking God everyday, it goes from being something I "ought" to do to something I "want" to do. I even begin to feel disjointed and restless if I have not been in the Word. But when I let the habit slide, when I move from accepting grace for a missed day to embracing excuses for missed weeks and months, I wonder how drastically my spiritual fitness is compromised.

Right now, as an American, I can survive as a pretty fat Christian--spiritually speaking. But there may be a day when I am called to give an answer for the reason for my hope. I may one day need to stand firm in the face of tremendous temptation. I may even be called to withstand pain or persecution for the sake of Jesus. When that day comes, I don't want to find myself gasping for air, stumbling from weak spiritual muscles. I want to be strong.

Strength doesn't happen on accident. Strength cannot be achieved overnight. Strength is the result of consistent training, day after day, week after week, month after month, and finally year after year. Building strength, in body or spirit, is a long-term commitment--an effort that becomes a joy.
Weakness takes no effort at all.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This and That

In modern slang, something really super cool is called "sick." Today David is sick, and let me just tell you, it is NOT really super cool. Be thankful that you are on that side of the computer, because I think I risked my life sharing a bed with my sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching stuffy-head, fevered husband.

On a lighter note, I have recently started using eye-cream. At what age does a woman begin this daily regimen? For me it was the year that some girlfriends decided to GIVE me eye-cream for Christmas. Subtle hint? Perhaps. But I LOVE it. Eye-cream is my newest passion. It smells slightly medicinal, it feels soft as silk. I use it religiously.

By the by, how often should a family have a family portrait made? Taking photos for our family has not gotten better as the boys have gotten older. I still must drag all three of them kicking and screaming, throw in a bribe or two, and reward them with food. So I avoid this ritual like the plague. But someday, will I regret not having more family pictures? Should we endure the torture annually? Every other year? Truly, I need to know.

And as the Oscar nominations were announced today I realized that I must be the most out-of-it person on the planet. I have not seen ANY of the movies that were nominated. Not ONE. This should not surprise me, since I think that the last movie I saw in the theaters was Alvin and the Chipmunks---which, to my knowledge, did not win any awards (though I found it totally entertaining). I am just about to give up on Hollywood altogether. I can't even go in to a regular video store without feeling like I have somehow compromised my integrity. Sad. I used to love going to movies. Over the past few years the entertainment industry has gotten looser in their moral standards, and while I did not intend to get stricter in mine, I have lost all tolerance for filth. As Graham used to say when he was a toddler, "I can't like it."

I finished my knitted bag, but I don't think it felted like it was supposed to. I washed it three times in the hottest water possible, but the fibers didn't meld together like I thought they would. Does anyone know what I might have done wrong? It is still cute, but it doesn't look like the pattern picture. I have so much to learn!

We have snow in our forecast for the weekend. I'm ready for a fresh coat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


President Obama has assumed his position as the leader of the free world. As a politics junkie, I have a sense of the great historical importance of this event. But my emotions are a mixed bag. I am grateful that President Obama carries himself with the demeanor of a true statesman. I am frustrated with the media, which always describes our country as "deeply divided" when a republican is in office, but seems to sense a "spirit of unity" when a democrat wins. I am confused by the overwhelming confidence that the masses seem to have in such an inexperienced, unknown politician. I am captivated by the beauty of the Obama family and the genuine love they seem to share with one another. I am nervous about the direction that President Obama wants to take our country.

I spent the morning with some amazing women of faith, and we prayed fervently for President Obama. Despite my roller coaster emotions, I have tremendous hope in the sovereignty of God. Daniel 2: 21 says:

He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

God has allowed Barack Obama to rise to the office of President of the United States. God will use his presidency to accomplish holy purposes. God does not even need President Obama's cooperation. God is, and always has been, in complete control. So yes, I have the audacity to hope.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Precious Moments

Yesterday we went skiing again, and it was a huge blessing. Spokane was socked in with heavy fog, but on Mt. Spokane it was sunny and clear. Our boys progressed in their abilities to the point where they could tackle some of the intermediate slopes. We had a beautiful day enjoying God's creation, healthy activity, and family relationships. As I rode the chair lift with Chandler for our last run, we were discussing all of the delights of the day. In the midst of that moment, he turned to me, gazed deeply into my eyes, and said, "Mom, your mustache is back."

Thank you, son.

I scheduled a wax.

Friday, January 16, 2009

ALL for the Glory

The Bible says to do everything for the glory of God. I don't know about you, but that challenges me. Let's just take today:

  • I was unkind to my nearly-perfect husband (which does NOT glorify God)

  • I whined about having too much to do (not glorifying to God)

  • I disappointed a friend (not glorifying)

  • I went out to lunch (might have been glorifying, except that I over-ate)

  • I got a pedicure (glorifying to my toes!)

  • I messed up dinner (not glorifying)

  • I dropped the ball on a ministry need (not glorifying)

So here is my question: In the midst of my fallen the context of my frail spite of my disappointing dedication to disaster...can I still give glory to God? Can a melody of praise be heard above the constant rhythm of my mistakes? Is it possible that the Great Composer intends to work even my failures into the symphony of His glory?

Oh that He would do it!

In truth, when I am doing well, I am sometimes compelled to take the glory for myself. I can begin to imagine that I have accomplished something on my own, stand in the spotlight, and relish the applause. I can forget to give credit where credit is due--to Jesus.

And then there are days like today, laden with evidence that I am still a sinner. I know there is no glory for me today, but could there still be glory for God?

Lord, teach me to fail in a way that glorifies You. Let my weakness always point to Your strength, let my foolishness reveal Your wisdom, let my sin pale in comparison to Your grace. And Father, let Your kindness towards me lead me to repentance, that I might truly be changed into the likeness of your Son--to the praise of His glory--both now and forever. Amen

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wrestling with THAT Woman

"Who," you ask, "is THAT woman?"

Well, I haven't exactly met her, yet I've known of her all my life. Her reputation spans generations as she holds out that unattainable standard of womanhood. I find myself vacillating between genuine admiration of her great achievements and eye-rolling exasperation at her seeming perfection.

Have you figured it out? No, I am not talking about Martha Stewart. The woman of whom I speak is nameless, but her M.O. is found in Proverbs 31.

THAT woman did it all. She brought home the bacon, she fried it up in a pan! My Bible commentary says,"Traditionally this poem was recited by husbands and children at the Sabbath table on Friday night."

I can just imagine my husband and children reciting Proverbs 31 to me at dinner on Friday night. The laughter would begin at verse 15, when they try to say "She gets up while it is still dark" with straight faces. It would turn to hilarity by verse 27, when they talk about NOT eating the bread of idleness. "Idleness" is my favorite food group! I have no trouble seeing how that Sabbath tradition may have gone the way of the dodo.

I am somewhat comforted by the mention that this woman had "servant girls," because I could get a lot more done if I had a few of those buzzing around the house. her or hate or, there she is--that Christian paradigm for feminine godliness. More often than not, I have heard Christian women distancing themselves from this passage, scoffing at it as "too idealistic" and preaching sermons on why we don't have to live up to that standard. I haven't heard a positive take on the passage in years. I think maybe we have allowed Mrs. 31 to intimidate rather than inspire. This intimidation is not the work of Christ.

So today I decided anew to embrace the inspiration of the Proverbs 31 woman. I will not strive after Martha Stewart perfection; but I can no longer stand to wallow in Roseanne Barr mediocrity either. The God who redeemed me promised to transform me. That's right--I'm a Transformer--"more than meets the eye!" My new name tag might read: Domestic Diva in Training.

I feel called, at the moment, to invest myself more in the area of cooking. I enjoy cooking, but as I have been working more hours and spending more days away from the house, I have begun to compromise, giving less than my best in the kitchen. I have a fresh desire to prepare nutritious, delicious, and visibly pleasing meals for my family. Just at the right moment, God brought me the perfect tool to help me on my way. My dear friend Holli has just gone public with her amazing cooking blog, which is packed full of what I will call "Family Gourmet" recipes, complete with careful step by step instructions and beautiful photographs. I strongly encourage you to check it out if you need a boost in your culinary endeavors, as I know I did! You can find her blog by clicking here: MamaHollioni's Kitchen

Tonight we will be having The Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup and Herbed Garlic Bread--both are recipes from Mama Hollioni's blog. I am using homemade chicken stock in the soup, which I made from scratch for the first time at Mama Hollioni's recommendation. Really, if truth be told, this dinner has not taken much time to prepare. The effort lies more in being organized: shopping with a meal plan in mind and making the most of the days I do spend at home.

Mealtime is so important to our family. It is sometimes quiet, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but always a time of connection. And, we all enjoy good food. Dinner, especially, is a daily God-given opportunity to love my family in a practical way. I don't want to just get by anymore. Now I am not about to commit to 5 course meals every night of the week. The fact is, I do work outside of the home 2 days a week, and some days dinner will just have to be quick and easy. The problem is, I started making EVERY meal quick and easy, and that definitely is NOT giving my family my best.

The Proverbs 31 woman gives her family good food, even gourmet, I would say. The passage says:

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

To me, this indicates that she planned ahead to ensure that her family was well fed. I aspire to do the same!

Friday, January 9, 2009

No Word

For years I have avoided making New Year's resolutions and chosen instead to choose a word or theme. My word would become a guiding thought for the year, often leading me to new insights, deeper intimacy with God, and greater faith.

My word for 2008 was "focus" and each day I would ask the Lord to help my eyes and ears to focus on His plan for my life. I found my gaze being redirected on a regular basis, often times towards wiser or more loving outcomes. I asked myself, in troubled times, where I was focusing, and realized that eyes fixed on myself or my circumstances usually produced anxiety, while eyes fixed on Jesus produced deep peace and satisfaction.

In 2007 my word was "slow," and I memorized Proverbs 19:2, which says, "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way!" Isn't that a great verse? I used to run a million miles an hour, frequently "missing the way." I loved learning to rejoice when I hit roadblocks or hurdles, recognizing that God was slowing me down to give me knowledge and help me find the way.

In 2006 my word was "decrease," as in John 3:30, "He must become greater, I must become less." That was an awesome word! I practiced UNDERreacting to my boys, speaking less and listening more, and looking for opportunities to get out of God's way. This was the year our house flooded, and let me just say that decreasing became not only easy, but desirable for me.

I could go all of the way back to 1999. Each year, a great adventure with Jesus, as He enlarged my view, deepened my trust, challenged my abilities, and changed my heart.

But as I have waited and pondered a word for 2009, I have simply come up blank. I feel adrift. Chaotic. Undone. And I like it. Perhaps at the end of the year, I will be able to look back and explain in words what God did...or maybe not. Maybe there will be no words. That doesn't mean there will be no growth, it just means that sometimes God works outside of the box--beyond my ability to define or describe. He can do whatever He wants. And I hope He does!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Small World Wide Web

The other day I received the nicest e-mail from a woman I have never met. I asked her permission to share it, and she graciously agreed, so here is an excerpt:

I am Christy Martin in Jacksonville Florida. Your website/blog was picked up by Random House and forwarded to us because you recommend my husband Charles' books on your reading list. I happened to see it and had such a laugh as I have just learned to knit as well. It is rather addicting isn't it? I'm currently working on two scarves....

We are always grateful to anyone who spreads the word about Charles' books and do hope you have enjoyed them. Best to you and yours and May the Lord Richly Bless, Protect and Guide You in 2009.

How amazingly cool is that? I have read three books by Charles Martin, and I look forward to reading many more. He writes beautifully crafted stories that are poignant, peppered with humor, and filled with refreshingly candid characters. Martin has (in my humble opinion) the VERY rare ability to infuse faith in God into a story without making it seem trite or sugary sweet.
If you haven't read any of his books, I would highly recommend checking them out. My favorite so far is The Dead Don't Dance, and the next one I plan on reading is called When Crickets Cry. Happy reading! And please let me know what you think if you do read any of his books. I'm always up for a good chat about literature.

Monday, January 5, 2009

If You Can't Beat It...

The snow in Spokane is unrelenting this year, so we decided to make the most of it. We bundled up and drove to Mt. Spokane for a play day on the slopes! WOOHOOO!

Graham and Chandler started the day with lessons--Graham took the Intermediate Snowboard Class (below, middle, grey/black coat). He was awesome! Next time I'll try to get an action shot for you. The amazing Graham Williamson; however, thinks it is funny to swing the chair when the lift stops and make his mother hug the pole and scream like a little girl. Funny it is NOT!

Here is Chandler tackling the bunny hill on his first day on skis. Note the classic beginner form: poles out front, butt out back. By the afternoon he was racing down the hill at record speeds. Unfortunately, his stopping abilities are still somewhat lacking, which means he was the proud owner of numerous high velocity collisions--primarily with snowbanks.

While the boys were in lessons, David and I took some time to explore the summit runs. I was too cold to remove my gloves to take a photo of him, but my brave manly man removed his gloves to snap this pic of me near the top. He calls these my "High School Musical" sunglasses. Neither of us have seen that movie, but somehow I feel it is an accurate title.

We are all excited to get back up and do it again. Four skiing/snowboarding days were our big family Christmas gift this year. We feel it is an important part of our preparation for becoming missionaries in France--where two weeks of every winter are dedicated to a skiing vacation. I can just see us now, all four Williamsons going SINGLE in the lift lines in the French Alps, pairing up with strangers, and then having a captive audience for 10-15 minutes, where we can share the gospel while riding up the mountain. Skiing evangelism. It could work!

Friday, January 2, 2009


I am so excited that I have finally learned to knit! A dear friend taught me the basics this past October, but up until now I haven't actually made anything. I have just practiced knitting and purling, knitting and purling, knitting and purling.

Another friend, hearing of my new found hobby, gave me some knitting magazines with patterns in them for Christmas. So last week I made a washcloth, which was my first attempt at following a knitting pattern. I used some old yarn that I had lying around the house and had fun figuring out (with my visiting mother's help) how to follow the directions to produce this waffle pattern:

Now, feeling some small level of success with the washcloth, I have decided to tackle a scarf project. I love the colors in this yarn, and it is 50% wool and 50% acrylic, which makes it very easy to work with, but not too scratchy.

Here is a close-up of the stitches. It is a very basic pattern, since I am just a beginner!

For my friends who knit, I am adding a gadget on the sidebar where I will post pictures of my current knitting projects throughout the year. I hope that I will be able to attempt more complicated patterns as my skills progress.

Who knew I would love to knit? I guess it's because I am becoming more like Jesus every day. After all, everyone knows that He is a knitter:

You knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 130:13b