April 30, 2008

Thy Word

This song has been running through my mind all day. Well, except when I was cleaning up vomit. Then I was concentrating on breathing through my mouth and containing the toxic sludge mess.

Isn’t it true, though?

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I think that I, too often, try to read the Bible as a “how to” book, rather than a narrative of God’s love toward me. Like if I do this, this, and this, then God will do that, that, and that. As if He is under any obligation to do a thing for me? Rather, it’s out of His great love that I’m not squashed like a bug. Or worse, abandoned and left to my own devices.

Hah. That reminds me. I was reading Ladybug a story from the Children’s Bible the other night, and, since we were starting at the beginning, we read about Adam and Eve and then Cain and Abel. We got to the part where Cain kills Abel (I’m thinking, Wait, these are stories for children?) and Ladybug says to me, “Oh, he squished him like a bug!” Um, yes, I guess so… how does a small child comprehend death? I guess “squished like a bug” is where I’ll leave it for now.

When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way, still You’re there right beside me.

Nothing will I fear as long as You are near. Please be near me to the end.

And He is. Despite the fact that I sometimes read His Word to me like it’s an instruction manual, and all I have to do is comply. Put this there, screw it in, attach this to the left side, ratchet it tightly together, and voila, you have just constructed a perfect life. And don’t worry about the leftover hardware, we always include extras. (THAT many extras? Yes, that many extras.) I mean, yes, there are instructions, and yes, I do need to comply, but it’s so much more about a heart attitude. Rather than “I’m doing this because I have to, not because I want to” jaw clenched attitude, it’s a “I love you and so I want to do things that make you happy” attitude. Kinda like with spouses. But I want you to want to clean the kitchen/rub my feet/go see the Nutcracker. Only that’s a topic for another day!

I will not forget Your love for me, and yet, my heart forever is wandering.

Jesus be my Guide, hold me to Your side, and I will love You to the end.

Oh that wandering heart! Can’t I just take it out and put it there so I can watch it closely? No? You say I need it in me for pumping blood and things like that? Oh. Well, if you say so.

Remember when Amy Grant (who originally sang Thy Word) went *gasp* mainstream, and started singing love songs? Am I the only teenager that couldn’t understand why it wasn’t “Christian” to sing love songs?

Isn’t this a terribly rambly post? Perhaps it’s because Sir Puke-a-Lot (aka Wild Thing) is sleeping. Peacefully. And not in his own vomit. I know this because I have the baby monitor on. And I only have two more loads of laundry to wash, which means I have three more to dry, and four more to fold. Well, might as well get back to it, since my son is slacking off sleeping and not doing the laundry like he’s supposed to.

Cry It Out

So my entire parenting philosophy is crashing down around me.

Ok, not like it’s a very well-developed philosophy. It’s not even complex. Mostly it’s a very practical approach to parenting. And I have doled out this advice liberally to friends, family, pregnant women I meet on the street. Baby won’t sleep? Eh, just let ’em cry it out. They’ll fall asleep eventually. Baby won’t eat? When they get hungry enough they will. Infant hates tummy time? They’ll learn to roll over a lot faster then.

This approach has worked very well for me. Ladybug was sleeping a full 8 hours every night at 4 weeks old. She’s the best sleeper I’ve ever met. She takes a good (3-4 hour) afternoon nap every day, AND she sleeps a full 11-12 hours every night. She’s also not a picky eater. She’s not a huge eater, either, but what she does eat it is nutritious. Like, you know, real food. Not animal cookies and artificially colored and flavored “fruit” gummy snacks. She eats eggs, and pears, and oatmeal, and ham sandwiches, and vegetables, and pasta, chicken, mashed potatoes, squash – all sorts of good things. She is particularly fond of sweet potatoes. See? I did something right. One score for the practical parenting philosophy.

So when Wild Thing came along, well, out came the ol’ practical parenting philosophy and we did things the same way. Regular naps. Eating *gasp* on a schedule. A bedtime routine. When it came time for solid foods, he ate real, homemade baby food. Now that he’s a year old, he still takes two naps a day, and eats regular meals with the rest of the family. I mean, he’s just a regular mini person. Another score for the practical parenting philosophy.

Except it hasn’t worked so well as I’d hoped. Don’t get me wrong – he is a good eater. A fantastic one, in fact. He relishes food, adores it, begs for more from others. (Yes, he has been known to go around the living room and beg bites of dessert of our dinner guests. And we all indulge him, he’s just that cute.) And he’s a good sleeper too. He just takes a little longer to settle down. Yes, the Man of the House and I have had to grit our teeth and turn up the volume on the TV a time or two as he hollered and wailed and carried on about the needles in his mattress. We may even admit to hiding in other, distant, parts of the house to escape his wails. And yes, I’ve been known to say, under my breath, in frustration, “Just go to sleep, Wild Thing.”

And eventually, he always does. And he always sleeps through the night. And he always sleeps really WELL at night. It’s one of his many accomplishments of which I am so proud. That, and climbing to the top of the piano. That was impressive. If only I’d had the camera nearby to capture it. Oh well. We mothers are sometimes unprepared like that, especially when trying to figure out how in the world he got all the way up there in such a short span of time. But I digress….

Lately, it’s been life as usual. We put jammies on, snuggle and read, snuggle some more, and then tenderly lay him in his needle-filled soft bed. He spends 2-20 minutes crying it out, then falls asleep. Then, the next morning, I go in to get him for breakfast – and that’s when “normal” ends. The other morning I found him with his leg stuck between the crib rails. I felt really bad. Fortunately he’s young and flexible still and won’t get a kink in his back from sleeping like that. This morning? I found him sleeping in vomit.

Yes, vomit.

HIS vomit.

I guess he’d thrown up his dinner last night after we put him to bed. And because the Man of the House and I were hiding in the far recesses of the house paying bills together, we didn’t hear him.

Boy don’t I feel like the lousy mom of the century. So much for the practical parenting philosophy. So much for cry it out. Look where it got poor Wild Thing!?

I cleaned him up, changed his sheets, wiped down the crib and the walls, vacuumed the floor, and gave him a bath. After breakfast, he promptly rewarded all my loving behavior by puking all his oatmeal on me and his highchair. Twenty minutes later he puked water and crackers on me, the couch, and the blanket I was snuggling him in. Twenty minutes after that, he puked applesauce and tea all over me, my bed, Lovebug, and the towel that was wrapped around him.

Desperate, and rapidly accumulating piles of laundry, I called my dad. “Dad, can you go to the store and get me some Pedialyte and fruit juice? Wild Thing is puking and I need something to keep him hydrated.” Of course, like the devoted grandfather and dad that he is, he showed up 15 minutes later bearing said liquids in hand.

I think Wild Thing is ok now. Me? I still feel bad. Maybe I’ll use the baby monitor for a few days to see how things go. Oh wait, no need to do that. I’ll be doing laundry outside his bedroom door for the next 59 days now, so I’ll be able to hear if he needs anything. Thanks, child.

April 25, 2008


Here I am, all alone. TV off. Books away. Just me. Kids in bed. Man of the House is away for the evening. Just me, all alone. Alone with my feelings, if I dare explore them. And do I dare? They are so wide, so deep, so dark. And I am afraid of being engulfed. That, and not feeling anything at all. What if I’ve “stuffed” them so long that now I cannot feel them?

So what do I feel?

Anger. Horror. Dismay. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Hopeless. Bereft and alone. Futile. Overwhelmed.

I am so afraid of the unknown. So afraid of the future. I want to hold on to every day, live it, embrace it, savor it, and not surrender to sleep at night because it signals that there is one less day before facing… what?

“I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Ok, so I don’t have to be scared of the future. But I am also afraid for my children. Afraid of how this may affect them. But I cannot control that, so I can only entrust them to Jesus.

Hopeless… how can this turn out well for me and my family?

I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Right. And I am not bereft and alone. God has NOT abandoned me. His mercy IS new every morning. He hasn’t given up on me, and He won’t ever.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God is still at work in my life and in my circumstances. Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And yes, I am needy. I cannot do anything on my own or with my own strength. And when I call to Jesus, He will answer me.

I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Overwhelmed? Sure. But—

Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

God HAS been good to me. He has held me up during times when I didn’t think I would make it. He has blessed me with good health, a loving family. He is still in control. Any illusions I have of being in control are false. God is the King. And nothing, no system, no entity, no person, can triumph over his authority and might. I will make it through this. God will get me through this. I don’t see when, or how, but His mercy will carry me through.

Don't know what to say.

I got some bad news today. Not terrible. But it doesn’t help anything. And it makes things more complicated.

I’m so angry and frustrated. I feel so useless, like there is nothing I can to do change things or impact the outcome.

Ladybug was calling from her bed, ready to get up. I couldn’t take the time to indulge (wallow) in these feelings – I mean, there are little people depending on me to have it together. So I turned on some cartoons and climbed in the shower. And cried. The shower is a great place to cry. You don’t have to wipe your eyes or nose, and your pillow and shirt don’t get wet. I also prayed. Well, tried to. More like “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over.

What if I go away? How will I handle the thousand heartbreaks of being away from my family? Wild Thing’s first words? Ladybug’s first day of school? Where is Mama? Why do you have to go, Mama? When will Mama be home, Daddy? How can I leave my husband to answer these questions?

I can handle being broke, doing without. Can I handle being broken?

How can I do this? How can I handle what surely lies ahead for me? For my family?

Cast all your cares upon Me…

But how?

The name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower; the righteous run to it and are saved.

But how do I run to the name of the Lord?

Do you not know how, or do you not trust Me?

Of course I trust you. But what if You let me down? What if the outcome isn’t what I want?

My love and mercy never fail you. They are new every morning.

But how will I get through it? How?

Nothing can separate you from My love.

What about my children?

They belong to me, and I am a compassionate Father. I will draw them to myself with arms of love.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know my fears and apprehension. But I also know that Jesus came to conquer fear and death. And the reassurance of His love truly IS an assurance. But I’m still scared. And worried. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the days ahead. Only by His mercy.

April 23, 2008


Ever have one of those days when, ugh, laundry? Dishes? Changing diapers? Can’t ya just hold it until your father gets home, child?

So here’s what I’m going to do. First, I’m going to suspend my guilt. Then I’m going to determinedly walk past the basket of laundry in the hall. Next I’m going to go watch the last episode of NY Housewives. Then I’ll make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. And when the Man of the House gets home, he can change the diapers.


For the Dough

1 cup whole milk

6 Tbsp butter

2 packages rapid-rise yeast

1 cup warm water

1 Tbsp sugar

7 cups flour

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 sugar

For the Layers

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

For the Topping

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 Tbsp of milk (or more, to desired consistency)

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional, for decoration)

To Make the Dough:

- Heat milk and butter until warm, but not hot, about 110 degrees on instant-read thermometer

- Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, soften yeast with 1 cup warm water (warm to the touch) and 1 tablespoon sugar

- Add warm milk and butter, salt, remaining sugar, and 3 cups flour. Beat in mixer until smooth.

- Add eggs, beat well

- Add remaining 4 cups of flour, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Dough will be medium soft.

- Kneed by hand or machine until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

- Place in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until doubled (about 2 hours) or allow to rise in refrigerator overnight.

To Shape the Rolls:

- After rising, gently press dough into 9 x 24 inch rectangle.

- Spread with 4 tablespoons softened butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar

- Fold in thirds, like a letter. Roll out again to 9 x 24 inch rectangle. Spread butter, sprinkle sugar, and fold in thirds again. Repeat, until you have folded and rolled 3 times total. (Shape to 9x24 rectangle, spread, sprinkle, fold. Roll to rectangle, spread, sprinkle, fold. Roll to rectangle, spread, sprinkle, fold. Roll to rectangle, spread, sprinkle, fold. Roll to rectangle. Stop.)

- Cut in 18 to 24 strips approximately 1 inch wide. Twist dough and shape into pinwheel rounds, tucking outside end in. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow to double in size.

- Bake in 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, one sheet at a time, until golden brown.

- Remove from sheet and allow to cool 5 minutes. Drizzle with icing and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

April 22, 2008

Sunshine and snow

Usually we have rain here. I mean, it’s the pacific northwest, right? But lately we’ve been having weird snow and hail storms. Very strange. Ladybug looked out the window the other day and said, “Oh, it’s like Sixlets.” To a 3 year old, doesn’t everything, somehow, relate to candy?

The crabapple tree in our yard is blooming. Two weeks back I saw all the buds on it, and thought how gorgeous it would be when it blossomed. Today I finally looked at it again and was amazed that it was flowering! Seems life has been so full that I forget to look out the windows. That’s kind of sad to think about now that I’ve written it out…

The other day, Wild Thing, Ladybug and I made Butterhorns, from my great aunt’s recipe. If you are familiar with the butterhorns from the Starbucks pastry case, then this is NOTHING like it. The rolls are made from a rich, sweet, egg dough, rolled out with layers of butter and sugar, then glazed with an almond glaze and garnished with sliced almonds. Delish. To die for. Everyone in our house loves them. Even Ladybug, who lately has been eating food ONLY to get her candy reward. Remember? To a 3 year old, all roads lead to candy. Swedish Fish, Smarties, Whoppers Eggs – doesn’t matter what it is. Anyway, here’s a picture of the butterhorns, and I’ll post the recipe soon.

April 7, 2008

The Mercy Project

Thanks for stopping by for a visit. We’re not that fancy here at the Mercy Project – truth is, I have nothing to be real fancy about! My life is a lot like that of any other. I have a family; I have a business; I have a home. I have a spouse, children, and no pets. And I’ve agonized about this first blog post for a couple days now. Why is that??

And why call it the Mercy Project? Because that about sums up my life. When I look in the mirror in the morning, aside from seeing a person that needs a haircut, I see a woman in need of mercy. I’m like anyone else in that I try to get it right and mess up a lot of the time. I love my husband, but sometimes I can be critical and intolerant. I adore my children, but sometimes I’m cranky and impatient. I like my work and enjoy keeping house, but can be lazy and irresponsible.

Webster’s defines mercy the following way: a compassion or forbearance; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; compassionate treatment of those in distress.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Sounds like something I need – compassion and forbearance for sure! But it also sounds like something I want to be. I would love if my grown children would fondly remember their mother’s compassionate care, rather than her impatience and crankiness.

I like this verse, from Titus 3, “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done.” That’s me all right – the “not because of any good things that we have done” part. I try hard. I really do. But measured up against perfection, I’m not sure I show up on the scale at all.

So welcome. I’m glad you’ve joined me as I become acquainted with mercy, in the daily and in the divine. This is my journey. It’s an exercise of faith. A reconciliation of love. Awash in mercy.