Friday, February 21, 2014

I'll Just Be Little Until I'm Big

She climbed up on the stool to watch as I fixed dinner. 

"Ya know Mom, I really like being 5. It's great to be a little girl. I'm just going to stay a little girl until I'm a  mommy like you." 

"Well Molly, that sounds like quite a plan," I said smiling to myself thinking how nice it was that she wanted to be like me one day.

"I'll probably come to your funeral," she continued, feigning a somber look, "and THEN, I'll marry DADDY!"

Playing Doctor

When I was a little girl my sisters and I used to play doctor with our dolls. We'd gather all of our babies, one for each of us was not nearly enough patients. We would place our dolls in our plastic play kitchen, pretending that the miniature freezer and oven were incubators and the stove top was the examining table. 

It was one of my very favorite things to play until we grew a bit and began participating in a new adventure called Bank which involved play money from our Monopoly and Payday board games and a wobbly green card table. 

I loved playing bank and I loved playing nurse to all of the doll babies. I know now even more than I knew then how much fun I was having.  These days I know that it's not nearly as fun when your teller drawer doesn't balance at a the bank or to draw up loan documents as it was to count the brightly colored money into the outstretched hands of my sisters and to write down the pretend amounts of money in each of our piles. 

Today I discovered that playing doctor to more than one patient at a time is not nearly as much fun in real life either. In the last three days every one of my kiddos have been ill. Two of them had been sacked worse than the others or so I thought until yesterday morning when two different patients came down with the bug and one of the serious cases from the day before made a remarkable improvement. 

This morning in the wee hours, the child that I thought would join us on the “well” side of the universe became the sickest of the bunch. We have chuckled about the Petrie dish that is our home  and the probable need of surgical masks. In a family the size of ours the odds of multiple simeltaneous sickness is not unheard of, but it's the first time we've reached the current doctor to patient ratio. 

The care for my children these last few days little resembles the care that my dolls received all those years ago.  Long ago when baby dolls were patients, their soft pink smiles never faded under the strain of their ailments. Their plastic foreheads remained ever cool to the touch. They stayed blissfully asleep all through the night no matter what the diagnosis. 

My real children are way too big to put in my little plastic doctor's office of years past. Their faces don’t default into gentle pink smiles nor do their foreheads rain cool to the touch. They do have rosy pink cheeks like my dolls used to, but those cheeks are perched under eyes that shine with fever. My living, breathing, germ-sharing patients wake at all hours of night needing care and comfort. Never did my dolls make me feel like a dragon slayer administering dose after dose of thick pink liquid to combat the hot breath of fevers nor did I ever feel the need to curl up to their plastic and cloth forms to chaperone their high fevers through the night. 

My residency as a baby doll doctor did little to prepare me for this current season of reality, but it did give me a soft and gentle dream of having little real ones someday to tend to in their illnesses. As in some cases however, the dream gets a bit tarnished by the contagious reality.

My kids will be well soon and back to their regular ornery lives and the knowing of that is abundant blessing. Just a few days more of this sickness for us I imagine, if, that is, our ailments mirror those common in our circles. We’re all excited to have ventured beyond what will certainly be a memorable family event in coming years…”Remember when we were ALL sick at the SAME time?” 

And remember it we will... just like my sisters and I remember the times of the double pneumonia epidemic that tore through our little plastic doll hospital all those years ago!

"If taking vitamins doesn't keep you healthy enough, try more laughter: The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed."
~Nicholas-Sebastien de Champort

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Offering Plate

The phone rang mid-morning. It was my Man. Oh no. Why's he calling? He usually just texts. What's the matter? Who is hurting? Why an actual phone call?


"Hi. How's your morning going?"

"Fine. What's up? What's going on? Who died? Why are you calling?"

"Everything's fine. I was calling to ask if you'd sing Sunday since the choir hasn't had a chance to practice for the last three weeks."

Everything's FINE? No everything is not fine! I'm too old and scared to sing...the young girl is gone who you'd take along to sing when you preached so that it would take up more time because the sermons were not as long as the church expected them to be! 

"Sure, I'll do it."

"You sure? I can call someone else if you don't want to. I almost didn't even call. I know how overwhelmed you get these days. You really don't have to."

"No. It's alright. I've just decided not to get nervous."

{Knowing chuckle heard on the other end of the line...}

"Really. I'll be fine."

"Ok, thank you."

And I was fine. I found a song and practiced when it was quiet at home, trying not to allow butterflies and random worries to take over my determination. Left to wander, my mind likes to whisper less-than-sweet-nothings in my ear... You'll mess up. You'll forget. You'll miss a note or seven. What were you thinking? There are 87 other people who could have handled this better than you. You are too nervous. Remember the last solo you sang?

Saturday came and passed and I almost forgot what Sunday had waiting for me. Sunday, between curling hair and ironing a shirt, I practiced one more time in the kitchen at the computer while the swirl of Sunday morning chaos was in high gear.

Nerves set on me like boulders. It was hard to breathe deeply.

Legions of butterflies...little resolve.

"Mom," said Cole from another room, "is that for today?"



"Mom, is that for the offering plate?" asked Kate wondering whether I would be singing in the normal choir spot in the worship service while the offering was being collected.

But her question struck me literally.

IS your song for the offering plate Mom? Will it be your offering to the God who saved you and allowed you to be able to sing? WILL it Mom? Is your song your OFFERING?

"Yes, Kate it is indeed for the offering plate."

Nerves eased. Knots relaxed. Prayers answered.

After all, what kind of person is too old or too nervous or too full of herself to be scared while placing her offering in the offering plate when it passes by?

Yes, Kate, yes, it's for the offering plate and for no other thing. Not for the approval of man, woman, or child. Not for applause. Not for your Daddy, though I like to see him grin. Not so I can say I did it well or not so well. Not so you'll be proud of me. All of that is nice, but it completely disqualifies the singing from the offering plate. If I do it for any other reason than as an offering to no longer becomes an offering to Him, it becomes a performance by be motivated by the applause of the earthly which is short-lived and glory-stealing.

The music began, the plates were passed, and my offering was added along with all the rest.

Thank you Kate...

Thank You Lord.

"Never saved by our performance, never sanctified by our performance, 
never finally delivered by our performance. It's all done by grace." 
~Paul David Tripp

Thursday, February 6, 2014

French Toast Bagel Bake {Overnight}

A friend stayed with us during the last bad, not the one at the beginning of this week, or the one before that, the one two weeks ago. It was a snowy Saturday evening and she arrived after a steep shivering walk up our hill, just after supper had been cleared away. "No problem!" said my Man who threw together a plate of his famous nachos and placed them before her.

I cannot tell you how many times those nachos have saved my bacon.

No peanut butter? Nachos!

Out of lettuce? Nachos!

Mom cooked all afternoon to make three dinners ahead for the week and not ONE of them is finished in time for dinner? Nachos!!!!

Having a go-to meal on standby is a confidence builder and it also seems to do my Man's heart good to be the dinner hero once in a while.

I've recently come across a breakfast standby that's almost as simple as nachos but will perhaps fill your belly for a bit longer. This offering is simple enough for a weekday breakfast but decadent enough to reserve for special weekends as well. It was this recipe that Meg and I prepared ahead for our family and our friend to enjoy on a snowy Sunday morning. It took all of 10 minutes to assemble and it is easy enough to fix while you are visiting with your thawing winter guest.

French Toast Bagel Bake
{Printable Recipe here}
{Adapted very slightly from Lisa-Marie}


1 sleeve of bagels, any flavor though we particularly enjoy cinnamon or blueberry
8 eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

Here's what to do:

With a serrated knife (one that has "teeth") cut the bagels into cubes. Place cubes into a 9x13 baking dish. 

In a large bowl, add eggs and beat them to break the yolks. To the beaten eggs add milk and vanilla and stir to combine. 

Pour egg and milk mixture over the bagel cubes and press the bread down into the dish gently with your hands until the bagels begin to soak up some of the liquid. 

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. 

To make the syrup:

Either the night before, or while dish is baking in the morning...

...combine the softened butter and the brown sugar until the mixture becomes paste-like. 


Turn oven to 350˚ and remove bagel bake from the refrigerator (don't forget to remove the plastic wrap). When oven has reached 350˚ bake dish for 30-35 minutes then remove from oven and dot the top with the butter/brown sugar mixture. 

Place back in the oven for 5 minutes until syrup forms on the surface. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Note: Cinnamon or nutmeg, can be added to the butter/brown sugar topping if desired. Begin with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon and adjust to taste.

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, 
"what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully, "It's the same thing," he said. 
~A. A. Milne~

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