Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We are counting down the days until we have our only child: 9 to be exact. We are super excited! I remember praying for the blessing of this pregnancy long before I ever took a positive test. The possibility of a child was such a joy. Now, as I work to wait patiently for these final moments to come to a close, I find myself daydreaming about the sweetness I will hold in just a matter of days. This is all new to me.

You may wonder at my sanity if you read my above paragraph and happen to know that this is my eighth child. The two appear to be diametrically opposed. But they aren't. And the perception that mothers with larger families cease to view their children as individuals and instead begin to morph them into the Borg is one I run into often. The enthusiasm used for welcoming the first born is replaced with a nonchalant acceptance - sometimes only a tolerance - for additional children. It saddens me. And it makes me wonder at our culture.

Now, there are obviously certain things that hold true for a mom of many. I don't worry about every twinge and flutter throughout gestation. I am fairly level-headed about what needs to be set up for the baby's arrival and what doesn't. I don't follow a daily "here is what's happening to your baby today" book or blog. However, just because the enjoyment of pregnancy is mellowed by experience doesn't mean the anticipation of an entirely unique human being entering our world as my child holds any less thrill because this isn't my first time giving birth.

I don't think God ever designed welcoming children into our lives to become something... ordinary.

Think about so many of the other amazing things we get to participate in time after time, but which never grow old. How many poems are written about sunrises, seasons, friendships, love? Why do we still stop and gape, open mouthed, when an act of kindness really expresses sacrificial concern? Have we never before seen these things? Hardly. But their reminder that we have a Savior who is beautiful, tender, giving and full of hope simply overwhelms us in the moment. We enter the experience as if for the first time - relishing in the swell of our hearts. In fact, this repetition of "first time experiences" is so important to us that we actually grieve for people, or ourselves, when bitterness steals the joy of this unique privilege. The hardened, contrary person who constantly belittles the beauty of a fresh encounter with hope earns our pity. And rightfully so.

Newness of life is something we are meant to wonder at time and time again. Whether it is the budding of spring blossoms while snow still covers the ground or the quiet dawning of a day filled with promise we are designed to be amazed by the never-ending offer of life given by our Creator. What could possibly encompass a greater opportunity to see hope set itself against the hardness and coldness so often seen in our world than the beginning of life?

John 10:10 ~ The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Leah's Gift

Leah has several gifts. She can make her daddy laugh faster than anyone in our family. She speaks her mind in such an utterly disarming way that no matter what she says you can't help but smile. However, she revealed her most special gift just a few days ago.

Bethany was away for a week at the camp she attends each summer. One of the things the campers are allowed to do is use a bow and shoot arrows for archery class. This happens only once during the entire week. To say Bethany was excited about the opportunity to practice archery would be an understatement.

On Friday, Bethany's last day at camp, Leah was sitting at our dining room table during lunch and staring out the window. Suddenly she said, rather prophetically, "I can tell by the way the sky looks that Bethany is doing archery right now."

Hannah laughed and questioned, "Leah, how can you tell what Bethany is doing at camp by the way the sky looks here? The sky looks like this all the time."

Leah chuckled at this delightfully innocent question. Then she answered with only a tinge of condescension, "Because, this is what the sky looks like when she does archery."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sage Counsel

Caleb and I were listen to the radio station on our way to an appointment when a contest was announced for a Father's Day tribute. Contestants needed to call in and offer their father's best/most memorable words of advice in order to be entered into the grand prize. Caleb didn't quite understand the game so I reexplained the basic concept.

Oh! I see. I wish I could do that for Daddy. I already know what I would say.

What would you say?

I would tell them that Daddy's best piece of advice he has ever given me is, "Don't hurt yourself." Because I like to do crazy things and when I tell him about my ideas that's what he says to me. And it's pretty good advice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garage Sale Find!

I can't count how many times I've noticed some darling pair of shoes, beautiful piece of furniture, or stunning vase only to be told by the owner that they bought it at a garage sale for a steal.


You see, I don't ever find those treasures. I'm the one that goes to garage sales where they're only selling 8-tracks of Crystal Gayle and soiled baby's bibs for 25cents each. The irony of this most magical power to identify the world's worst garage sales is that my family knows how to put on the All-American-Yard-Sale to beat anyone. Don't laugh. I'm serious. My mom, a retired general manager for her parents' successful gift store, reaches into the depths of her vast retail experience and actually merchandises her inventory. She has stations manned for questions. There are cashiers who know how to count back change. She will even pull out paper for wrapping those most precious breakables and bags to tote the junk to your car. You can't understate the scale of her garage sales. Where most people get excited at pulling in $300 over a weekend she easily walks away with nearly a grand. It's kind of scary.

Now magnify this picture by a thousand, add my aunt (a professional decorator and sales woman in her own rite) and you may begin to imagine the liquidation of my grandparent's home this past weekend. They called it an "Estate Sale." It was nothing short of organized extortion. People coming simply didn't have a chance. Before they even entered the front door they were greeted with no less than four volunteer staff all waiting to serve, answer questions, or schlepp out those large purchases with dollies. The garage was conspicuously closed, but no worries - an email sign-up was provided for the convenience of potential buyers interested in coming back to view the good of a finalist in the "He Who Has The Most Tools Wins" contest. Multiple couches, appliances in good working order, desks and small household goods all stood ready for purchase prior to even passing the threshold. What these visitors encountered next was dumbfounding.

Every inch of my grandparents' nearly 2000 square foot home, along with the granny unit and quarter acre backyard, were packed with items covering just about every known interest in Christendom. Each room was themed giving browsers an opportunity to peruse anything from antique china and cut crystal to meticulously handcrafted lace and fine linens. The odds and ends were out too with no less than six televisions, some 32 spatulas, ginormous speakers that would have put Ike Turner's home recording studio to shame, and 4327 individual matchbooks - a lifetime's collection. There was a sales associate in every room providing gracious help or, if necessary, bouncer back-up in case someone tried to escape without actually buying anything. We even had runners who would gladly begin a tab for you at the check-out by whisking your selected items from your arms thereby freeing you for more shopping.

But what really put the cap on this amazing event were the items themselves. I mean, anyone can have a lot of junk. It isn't necessarily compelling to walk into a house filled with commemorative Happy Days memorabilia. As much as we all loved the Fonz his silkscreened face on a thousand porcelain objects does not necessarily loosen the purse strings. And if it does then you need to be spending your money on help not another miniature Cunningham portrait shellacked onto a trivet.

But I digress. Back to the stuff.

You know those shows where people bring in the really old junk they bought at someone's garage sale and a professional assess it and tells you that it comes from the Chinese Ming Dynasty and is worth 7.3 gazillion dollars even though you haggled the poor schmo so he would come down from $5 to $3.75? I'm not saying anyone haggled me down that much, but I won't be surprised when one of those episodes proudly displays a random antique apothecary jar, which William Shakespeare used for inspiration when writing his famous Romeo and Juliet, that sat on my grandparent's bar for no less than 27 years.

If you disbelieve me just take a gander at the following photo:

This is a travel belt used before the days of fanny-packs (or by those still somewhat concerned about how they look while huffing to the top of Mt. Everest). You could tuck a small amount of cash into an inside pocket and then zip it up before resting it snug against your pants. No one was stealing your money. Also, you weren't accessing it without risking a public nudity fine so in effect this ingenious contraption protected money from robbers and from spendthrifts. My aunt priced this leather gem at $5, but realized that it wasn't competitive in the free market. Wisely, she chose to mark it down to $1.50. While she was changing the tag she noticed that the zipper was stuck. Not wanting to be caught selling damaged goods, Gail worked to get the zipper open (even getting help when it became too stubborn for her because one simply can't let a one dollar and fifty cents used leather belt sell with a stuck zipper). What unfurled from that tiny space was a crisply folded $100 dollar bill. 


Admittedly I wasn't shocked. After all, these are my grandparents. I just wish some of the Hyler eccentricities of money management had rubbed off on me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Father's Day Hero

The third Sunday in every June is set apart to commemorate fathers. It began humbly in 1910 by a woman wishing to honor the role her Civil War veteran father played in single-handedly raising his six children after she listened to a May sermon extolling the virtues of mothers. Sonoroa Dodd wanted the celebration to be on June 5, her father's birthday, but her pastor didn't believe there was enough time to adequately prepare a sermon and participation from the community on such short notice. It was decided to move the celebration to the third Sunday of June, where it more or less stayed until 1972 when it was finally instituted into law by President Richard Nixon. You may wonder at the need for 62 years of deliberation between the inception of Father's Day (rightly spelled Fathers' Day as a plural possessive, but inadvertently misspelled as Father's Day in the original 1913 bill presented to Congress and never changed) and its final status of legal holiday. The primary push-back for officially acknowledging men in their parental roles was a fear of commercialization. Much of the country believed the holiday was just another way to give men's clothier and snuff shops an excuse to drive up sales. While it has become a "second Christmas" for many specialized men's retailers, I think most of us recognize the far greater weight of taking a moment to see the value in men who dedicate their hearts to loving the next generation. These are remarkable people, indeed.

Fathers come in many shapes and sizes - men who have filled the role of mentor in our life. Grandfathers, uncles, pastors, teachers, employers and friends (along with dads) often provide a network of support that could all rightly be seen as the role of father fulfilled. But I strongly believe we are made to connect with one special man who ideally encompasses unconditional love, discipleship and influence. I want to take a moment, on the eve of this special day, to commemorate my Father's Day hero.


It may at first appear a little strange that I see my own husband in this role. He isn't substantially older than me. Doesn't play a paternal role in my own life. Never condescends to me. But what he has given me is a picture of fatherhood through his relationship with our children that simply overwhelms me with gratitude! Christopher is the most amazing daddy. Because my own view of parenting was uniquely shaped by a single mom I didn't really understand the intricacies of having a man present in the upbringing of children. My mom worked hard, provided, nursed, supported, guided, disciplined, sacrificed, loved and for better or worse did it herself. I had no intentions of being a single mother (neither did she!). But being married to my children's father and actually parenting as a complimentary team are two very different things. From the beginning men bring a unique and passionate experience to the proverbial table. For instance, studies show that men tend to hold their infants and babies against their chests facing outward while women hold these children facing inward. I trust you can see the larger picture of fathering exemplified in this simple act. Father's engage their children with the world, teaching them how to view themselves as part of a larger entity that doesn't revolve around them. When the parenting team is able to work collaboratively it naturally follows that mothers create a nest of safety, fathers create a vision for exploration.

I came to appreciate these differences as baby after baby arrived, and obviously needed us both. But what surprised me even more than my children's evident need for a father was how strong my own reaction was to watching a daddy in action. Christopher has shown me, through his amazing love towards his children, about the amazing love I have in my Heavenly Father. Seeing his leadership, and deep concern for the welfare of every son and daughter, has grown in me my own trust for God's sovereign plan even when I don't understand it. And the sacrifices he makes to be present, involved and emotionally attached to every little person bearing his name reminds me that Jesus Christ invites me into a personal relationship with him on a daily basis. I have experienced a great deal of healing through seeing the joy in my own children as they grow up under the protection of a man who not only pays the bills but invests in the lives of his beloved.

The time is approaching for us to bring home another little person. I'm excited about the ways I will again watch my strong, capable husband tenderly care for the needs of a newborn. But really, I'm excited every day as I watch him listen to our 13 year old daughter digest adult truths for the first time. I am humbled by his interactions with our 11 year old daughter who needs copious amounts of physical affection. It is wonderful to see him share dreams with our 9 year old son. He makes me chuckle every time he chases our 7 year old daughter, reminding her that he will embarrass her on purpose. I sometimes blink back tears when I see him light up at the sight of our 6 year old daughter racing into his arms after a long day at work. He genuinely loves coming home. It is encouraging to watch him set aside his evening's plan in order to read another Dr. Seuss book to our 4 year old son. And I am reminded of the importance to always keep first things first when he plays "copy cat" with our 3 year old daughter, standing on his chair at the dinner table making our entire family roar with laughter.

He bent over my belly just a moment ago to whisper sweet words of love to his teeniest "buhbee."

I love this daddy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

20% More

It used to be the unmatched ratio between packaged hot dogs and hot dog buns. Then it became water bottle and thermos sizes too large for vehicle cup holders. But I am now happy to report that there is a new pet peeve in town.

20% more toilet paper on the roll.

First of all, I have no idea why our culture is so obsessed with everything being bigger. If it worked when it was size x it will work better at size x + 5%... 10%... 20%... In case you question my point you may use the example of Starbuck's Trenta Frappuccino. It is 31 ounces, averages 800 calories, and is roughly the size of the human stomach. Seriously, we need to purchase a frozen whipped drink that can fill an empty stomach and provide over 1/3 of the average adult's caloric needs in one fell swoop? (My husband just asked if he could order a Trenta espresso. I won't comment.)

But I digress - toilet paper rolls.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find toilet paper rolled into sizes that actually FIT my toilet paper holder. Do manufacturer's not realize that the standard clearance of nearly all wall mount holders (and I won't even address recess mounted holders) do not provide enough space for one of these newer behemoths? I get the extraordinary pleasure of breaking off one square of toilet paper at a time for the first few days of use because the roll won't turn freely until it is roughly 20% smaller. Apparently it saves me  from the horribly inconvenient act of replacing the toilet paper roll - something tantamount to WWIII - for another 37.2 hours. Those are marketable statistics.

I can't decide how best to handle this new gem. Out of a maniacal desire to simply protest I briefly entertained the idea of installing one of those dispensers that doles out toilet paper in single, pre folded sheets. Then I thought I struck gold with the idea of buying a commercial dispenser that uses a roll roughly the size of my car's tire. This would be perfect! I could even lock the thing so only licensed employees of the Randall Corporation were allowed access to change the roll. This would ensure the correct over/under position of each replacement roll for generations to come.

Until they make the roll 20% larger and it stops fitting in the dispenser.