Monday, November 28, 2011

Instructions on Don't

Don't lick your sister
Don't lick the counter
Don't lick the butter knife
And never ever never ever
Under any circumstances
Lick a porcupine

Don't chew on your pencil
Don't chew on your fingers
Don't chew on your pillow
And never ever never ever
Chew on a porcupine

Don't squeeze your juice box
Don't squeeze the baby
Don't squeeze an earthworm
And never ever never ever
Under any circumstances
Squeeze a porcupine

Don't tickle a lion or a shark
Don't tickle a tarantula or an alligator
Don't tickle a grizzly bear when it needs to go potty
And never ever never ever
Under any circumstances
Tickle a porcupine

Don't wake her dolly
Don't wake his dinosaurs
Don't wake your father
And never ever never ever
Under any circumstances
Wake a cranky porcupine

Don't spill my coffee please
DON'T spill my coffee please
DON'T SPILL my coffee please
And never ever never ever
Under any circumstances
Spill a porcupine's coffee

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pride and Procrastination:The saga of a youngish unpublished writer

Last year I discovered something rather interesting about my inner athlete.  It's that I have no inner athlete.  None whatsoever.  I was training for a half marathon because I really wanted to find some inkling of an inner athlete in this ballerina body. I truly have admired marathoners and triathaloners and the whole Olympic spirit that surrounds you people.  I love that the apostle Paul uses athletics in so many verses to describe this life we have to run for Christ and finish for His glory.  You athletes have such cool passages to inspire you.  I wanted to be inspirational like you.  But you know how it mile 10 my knee cap pretty much fell on the floor and I nudged my running buddy and said, "Hey look, my knee cap just fell on the floor" and so I went home and drank my chocolate milk and pondered...."Why can't I be like an athlete and have inspirational scriptures and proudly give Paul a high five when I get to heaven?"  I really was bummed out.  Okay, maybe for like five seconds because the inner artist in me started getting in the face of the inner athlete, that actually wasn't ever there, and saying "I know you want to be spiritual but whatever happened to the artistic thing?"  Some massive wave of creative insanity came over me at the beginning of this year.
This is where I it goes...
I am a HUGE writer NERD...
I can't get through the day without writing a poem or jotting down an idea for a childrens play.  I can't hear a song without starting to choreograph a dance in my head.  I can't look at a twisted pile of collected orchard branches without imagining a photo sitting.  I can't watch my kids laughing over some funny animal we find in our science book without writing down my next picture book.  I can't read a Bible passage without humming a melody that would suit how it makes me feel.  I can't turn it off.  It's like a broadway musical going on in my head ALL DAY LONG.  Sometimes I feel like that guy from A Beautiful Mind constantly writing notes every where and recording tunes in my iphone recorder.  I AM crazy...a fun crazy that my family doesn't seem to mind but most certainly crazy and a big fat writing nerd.  So here's the issues that I think the Lord has graciously solved in my mind over the past month...
My greatest fear in sharing my writing is this...that I would look like a show off.  That kind of freaks me out.  I want to be a godly Christian not a show off Christian.  I don't want this to be yet another source of pride in my long list of struggles with lame.  My second fear is that this would turn into yet another thing that I procrastinate on.  (Let us pause and find humor in the fact that my two most obnoxious habits both start with 'pr', pride and procrastination which I will probably write about in a poem some day.)  I have been praying and wondering over these two issues for the past year. 
Pride and Procrastination...the saga of a youngish unpublished writer...Well, the Lord answered as He always does...
Why should I shut up my creativity and assume that putting my name on anything automatically takes away the glory from God?  God didn't tell David to shut up when he was singing all those psalms in the Bethlehem hills to his little lambsies.  God didn't tell C S Lewis to shut up when He was writing the coolest allegorical books of all time.  God didn't tell John Newton to shut up when he was pouring his heart into the most tear jerking hymn of God's redemption.  It seems so shallow now how I thought it wasn't honoring to the Lord to share what I write.  Yes, in my sin I can turn it into pride but oh the JOY that is before me just to enjoy you enjoying what I enjoy!  I don't hear the Lord telling me to shut I won't.
I think I know how to solve my procrastination problem but those who read my blog might have to be the ones that suffer.  I don't do well working by myself.  I need a sounding board.  I need to know that someone will see this at a set time so I actually get some steady work done.  I don't have any writing friends or a writers club and I am not in a season of life that I can go off gallivanting whenever I want to find such things.  I have a set amount of time every evening to myself and little people asleep in there beds whom I am watching over so I'm not going anywhere.  It's a good thing this blog is called half made because I think I'll be showing a lot of that.  I just need to know that some one else is seeing it.  That makes it fun for me and motivating.
As of today I have one picture book almost completely illustrated by my AMAZING illustrator friend and a plan to self publish hopefully some time early next year.  I have four completed picture books awaiting illustrations from my illustrator (MY illustrator not yours) and I can not be more excited about this.  I don't know how long this will all take, I don't care if I don't make any money, I don't mind if they never get put next to Sandra Boynton's books because, you know what?  I am having fun making my kids laugh with our little books that I wrote about them and I want to share them with your kids and this is just so much FUN and I can hardly stand all the fun I'm having! 
I am embracing the writer nerd in me.  It is a very natural part of my day to write stories, poems, plays,and songs with my kids.  How amazing is this life the Lord has given me!  You know what athletes? Writers have cool scriptures too.  "For we are His workmanship(poem) created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)  I am God's poem and I am half made!  I love the first verse in Psalm 45 that says...
"My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer."
I feel like that all day heart really is overflowing with a good theme. 
I guess I've told you everything.
Pray that the other 'pr' words stay away and take care to remind me that I have no inner athlete and I should just stick to my writing.  And are God's poem.  Sleep on that promise.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Random Facts

In a meadow you frolic
In a swamp you lurk
In a forest you wander
In a roller coaster you jerk

In a salt sea you float
In a submarine you sink
In a jet you zoom
In a library you think

In a box you are stuffy
In a parachute you are airy
In a monkey suit you are silly
In a lion's mouth you are daring

But there is one place
Where each item plays a part
You zoom, lurk, wander, jerk, and sink
At none other than Walmart

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confounded Mess

Before there was sin
Mosquitoes gave you kisses
After there was sin
They bite and never misses

Before there was sin
Flys never came inside
After there was sin
They come in and grin

Before there was sin
Howler monkeys only crooned
After there was sin
They even wake the moon!

Before there was sin
Lions ate veggie burgers
After there was sin
They take their zebra with two sugars

But don't you fret and don't you worry
God is coming and I hope He'll hurry
Because this place is in great distress
He'll straighten out this confounded mess

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Navy Wife's Wilderness

I don’t see how the woman in Wal-Mart knew I was a military wife with a husband on deployment.  I only had one kid in the cart, one kid in my back carrier and one kid dangling from the side and a look of young-mother-all-alone-in-the-world bedazzling from my saggy eyes.  How did she know? I speak sarcastically; of course it was very obvious.  She said hi to the squirrely kids and walked away.  About five minutes later she was back in front of me with tears in her eyes.  She said, “Thank you for all you do for our country and for all the sacrifices your family makes for us.”

That was the first time I really felt truly and completely a part of what my husband does when he deploys.  No longer did I feel like only my husband was protecting our country but I felt a part of it.  That woman’s tears did wonders for my broken heart.

When my husband leaves it’s like someone takes away one of my hands and then asks me to do a job that needs four.  It’s like half my mind is not capable of completing thoughts but the tasks at hand require my full brain capacity plus half of my husband’s.  It’s overwhelming, lonely, and so isolating….all the things I fear.  It’s unimaginably sad to see him walk away from my arms and onto a ship or an airplane knowing that tomorrow he won’t be there to squeeze my hand when I need it or stay up and watch a movie with me or put his arm around me in church.

It’s my wilderness time…it’s my Elijah time…

I always go back to Elijah’s story in I Kings 19 where God reveals Himself to Elijah in His still small voice.  During deployments all I hear sometimes are the earthquakes and the fire and wind ripping rocks from mountains just like the story goes…

I pray…I pray…and I pray…all I want to hear in this wilderness is that still small voice.

And I always do.  
 I am half way through this deployment and half way truly is the hardest part…but I hear His voice.  I really do.

God used ravens to feed Elijah in the wilderness and I’m so sorry to have to call you guys ravens but that’s the only way this analogy will work.  Thank you ravens for sustaining me in the wilderness.  Even an entire church cannot replace my husband but I thank you for all that you do. 

Military wives mainly need just two things: someone to step up and take over the occasional task that is usually done by the husband’s brain and someone to step up and go let the military wife rest her own brain for a while.  Thank you for being mindful of my brain.  It becomes very cranky and unmanageable when it doesn’t get its rest.

Another woman gave me a far different reaction then the first one I mentioned.  She was watching me lining up my kids and looked at me in shock and said, “He left you to take care of four kids by yourself?”  That did not give me the warm fuzzies but it does help me to point out that military wives do not need sympathy.  We chose this life knowing full well that deployments are inevitable.  I never want to feel sorry for myself.  That leads down the path of bitterness and every night eatings of crates of chocolate ice cream.  No, I prefer the first woman’s reaction to keep my chin up and a frequent reading of I Kings 19.

We each have our God-given wilderness…this one is mine…don't worry, I'm sure you'll get your own someday.

Through all the sleepless nights, and the PB&J dinners, and the misbehaving toddlers, and the broken cars, and broken faucets and the broken computers I can truly say that “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence.  If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” Psalm 94:17-18

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Postpartum Cabin Fever, Teaching Addiction, and Ballerina Complex

I don't believe I ever experienced postpartum depression.  I had extreme gestational crankiness which was usually followed by extatic joyfullness of holding my precious snuggly newborn and FINALLY not being pregnant anymore.  Then....about two months down the road, the real sickness would start.  And boy would I get it bad. 

Let me digress for a paragraph. I was a very involved single woman for the Lord.  I'm not bragging, you just need to get through this paragraph to get the whole point of this profound blog that is going to change your life forever and ever.  I lead the children's worship, I was on the adult worship team, taught Sunday School, taught a young girl's Bible study, and went on every mission trip.  On top of all that, I taught ballet all week in a christian studio.  I was an active, visible, genuine, servant of my gracious and loving Savior.

And then I had a baby girl.  ALL of those things stopped. The 200 eyes that were on me for teaching and guiding and mentoring and example getting became just those 2 sweet little eyes of baby girl.  No depression came just joy over my lovely little one but OH MY GRACIOUS the lesson the Lord wanted me to learned for the next five years was a hard one to swallow and OH how excited I am to share it now that I see the Lord's gracious plan from beggining to end. 

Isn't that what we need so often? Someone just a few miles ahead of us to look back and smile and say. Keep walking....the Lord has a plan....and it is a good one.

I went through such a dry time in my walk with the Lord in that first year of mothering.  It was the same feeling that consumed me when I lived in Peru. Complete Isolation. There was actually a short while that I felt like I must be backslidden because I just wasn't feeling that vibrant firely love for the Lord that I had in my single years.  I blamed it on not having that constant motivation of so many young eyes looking to me for spiritual guidance.  I thought starting back into teaching right away would solve that empty pain.  Yes, my heart really was feeling pain.  My wonderful pastor encouraged me that my family was my new ministry now and yes my head knew this and my heart knew that but neither were fully submitting it all.  I continued to really feel the dry pain and really missing that fire that kept me in such perfect peace.  One Biblestudy evening, I was walking a noisy little baby girl in the very back of the back room of the church when one of the ladies walked in to go to the service.  She cooed at the baby and then smiled at me and said, "After you have a baby you go from the front of the church to the back of the church."....


And then it hit me....foolish foolish foolish Rachel...oh silly little lamb of little faith. Oh poor little woman overcome with postpartum cabin fever, consumed with teaching addiction, and lover of great attention due to your ballerina complex and yes even that thing that's starts with "S" and ends with "N" and has an "I" in the middle...oh foolish Rachel.  Do I need people to watch me love You so that I can fully love You?  Can't it just be You and me hanging out and stuff? As the Lord is opening those teaching doors back up now that my children are older I rejoice that He taught me that loving Him privatly is just as honoring as loving Him publicly. 

Jesus wanted to meet with me in my new role as mother but I wanted to meet with him in my old role as single teacher girl.  It was no wonder I kept missing our meetings.  It was no wonder I thought that I could only love Him completly if I put the baby girl-less me back in place with the new mother me when He just wanted to work through me in a new and glorious way.  

My baby girl is a Christian now.  That makes her my sister in Christ.  That makes her my fellowship.  As the Lord is opening those teaching doors back up now that my children are older I rejoice that He taught me that loving Him privatly is just as honoring as loving Him publicly. The cabin fever is gone most of the time and I admit I am still hopelessly addicted to teaching and yes I still have a bit of a "Hey look, I'm on stage!" stuck in my ballerina brain....but please dear friends...go forth in your isolation and just let the Lord love you...He really wants to just love you.  And love Him back whether 200 people are watching or maybe just one little baby girl. 

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yeehaw! I'm TWENTY NINE!

I'm 29 today. is my dad.  Well, sarcastically speaking.

Let me explain how deep sarcasm runs in my family.

In 1929 Carl Herman married a farm girl named Nellie and some how the combination of Kansas, German, farm boy marries farm girl, depression era stolwartness created this...

The most Sarcastic Hilarious family every known to mankind.

When I was a little girl  I would just sit and watch my great grandma, planted in her designated great grandma chair at Hume Lake, just busting up a storm of hilarity with the family just crowded around her with their sides busting.  She was wonderful.  She died just recently at the ripe old age of 102. She had been married over eighty years folks.

Exactly 25 years after Carl and Nellie married, thier daughter Aleta married Kenneth Rees and yet another delightful combination was begot. My Grandpa Ken brought a whole new meaning to the delightful title of The Storyteller and my Grandma is a firecracker set in the same mold of her firecracker mother.

So now you see that sarcasm begot hilarity which beget firecrackers which begot my dad.

My wonderful dad. Exactly 25 years after his parents, he married some extremely smart college girl who really liked him, despite the fact that the first date he invited her on was to go bug collecting!  They up and got married.

Every year on his birthday...I mean EVERY year the convorsation would go like this...

"Hey Dad, how old are you?"

"I'm TWENTY NINE."  (When you read that please use your best sarcastic Rees voice)

Five years later...

"Dad, how old are you?"

"I'm TWENTY NINE." (Read in the same Rees voice but make it sound older)

You see my Dad has always been 29 because he is a Rees that came from the most Sarcastic, Hilarious Storytelling, side busting, firecracker family of ALL mankind.

Exactly 25 years after my parents married Richard Cook became my husband.  And you know what? The Cook family almost has the Reeses beat with the whole sarcasm thing.

So now you see, my children have no way of escape.

The scientific conclusion of the matter is thus...Sarcasm gives you a very long and happy life with a very wonderful marriage that could quite possibly pass 80 years. I do believe somehow the exact distanst of 25 years in the marriages have emphasised the sarcasm.  I choose sarcasm people and that is why I would like to anounce that next year I will yet again be...

Twenty nine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Black Cherry Ice Cream, Oxygen, and THE PAUSE

I love black cherry ice cream.

I would mow lawns and scour shower stalls for black cherry ice cream.

I really want you to love it too.  Come on.  Take a bite.  It really is good.  No one should be without black cherry ice cream.

I like oxygen too.  I kind of need it.  No one should be deprived of oxygen. 
I love homeschooling my kids.  Even more than I love black cherry ice cream.  Everything about homeschooling delights me. 

I really want you to love it too.  But more like I really want you to love black cherry ice cream and not like I think you are being deprived of oxygen. 

Wow. Step aside C. S. Lewis.  I own metaphors now.

If I smash my black cherry ice cream in your face it’s just because I’m super excited for you to try it.  Sorry about that.  I just love homeschooling so much. 

We desperately don’t want to screw up our kids, huh?  As Richard and I have moved from newborns to kindergarteners I have been desperately aware of how desperately no godly parent wants to screw up their kids. 

God is good.  Isn’t He?  He gave me such a sweet comfort today through His Word and through my memories of the families that I grew up with. 

Parents the power is in the PAUSE….

I’ve had my bespectacled face in Dueteronomy 6 all day, especially verse 7.  You go read the whole chapter yourself but I’ll tell you the gist of that verse.  God is telling the Israelites to teach their children about the Lord…

…“When you sit in your house
When you walk by the way
When you lie down
And when you rise up”…

The power is in the PAUSE.

I could tell you a pile of families that I grew up with that used those pauses.  They were home schooled, public schooled, private schooled, or whatever and I would be hanging out with them and they would just be talking about the Lord and life and what the Lord feels about this and that part of your life.  Those Dueteronomy 6 kids grew up and the love of the Lord radiates out of their faces. 

It’s a sight to behold. 

I thank my parents for homeschooling me but much more than that, I thank them for using the pauses. 

Don’t rush guys.  You’ll get rotten miracles.

You want some of my black cherry ice cream?


I don’t mind if you prefer lemon flavored (craziness)

But you do need oxygen and that’s found in Dueteronomy 6
God has so many blessings for Dueteronomy 6 kids….

Just watch and see. 

Just PAUSE….

If Q Didn't Marry U

If Q didn't marry U
No one could be quiet

If Q didn't marry U
No king would have a queen

If Q didn't marry U
Nothing would be quite the same

I'm glad those words need those two
Just like this Q needs U

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No seriously, I would have such an ashmazing garden if I only had the TIME.  My house would look ashmazing and you would want to come put it in The Ashmazing Houses of the World magazine.

 On the front page. 

Or maybe I could pay somebody to do it for me and then I would have more TIME but then I would have less MONEY.  I could also pay somebody to clean my house and then I’ll have more TIME in my garden.  But that still leaves me with less MONEY, dog gone it. 
AND if I went out to clean somebody elses house and tend to someone elses garden so that I could have more MONEY for my house and garden then I would have no TIME to do it!

King Solomon… Dude.  Why did you ask for wisdom when you could have asked for more TIME and MONEY?  I would have said, “Lord, everyone seems to always be whining about running out of TIME and MONEY.  Sooooo….I’ll take two endless piles of both of those please.” 

But no.  You had to ask for wisdom and make all the rest of us look bad.  Thanks a lot Solomon.

I really never wanted to be a rich girl.  I’ve read too many books to want to be rich (book readers have gobs of character and they know that the rich girl in every book doesn’t have any…that’s why).  But oh boy, would I love more TIME and don’t think I haven’t thought of the fact that MONEY can be turned into TIME.  I end all the conversations I have with myself with, “This problem would be solved if I only had more TIME” or “This problem would be completely gone if I only had the MONEY.” 

For crying out loud.  What a lame way to end conversations with myself.  What a lame way to end conversations with the Lord!  I have been so convicted by this lately.  Jesus knows my hours and my minutes and He knows my dollars and my cents…He knows EVERYTHING.  So many things in my life really would go smoother if I had more TIME or more MONEY or more of both but how lame of me to think that the Lord would want me to rely on those and not Jesus.

Solomon, you just had to ask for WISDOM. 

I am now prayerfully and trustingly, and faithfully knowing that God will answer, turning my whines for more TIME and MONEY into Solomon’s prayer.

Jesus, I ask for WISDOM. 

After all…Solomon says “it is better than rubies”
Who needs a stinkin’ ruby when you have the Lord?  Not me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mommy Brain Sensitive Juice

There is a part of the mommy’s brain that holds the Sensitive Mommy Brain Juice.  The concoction is made up of 1 part guilt, 1 part defensive, and 1 part sheer terror.  The juice will always be there whether it’s working at a very high level or maybe you’ve gotten pretty laid back by your fourth kid and the juice is barely noticeable . But you will always have it.  New moms have the most sensitive levels and I know this because six years ago my brain juice was almost always in an active, exploding, confused, defensive, guilty state!
I have such a burden and heavy heart for new pregnant moms.  I know what it’s like to walk in those shoes.  I know the size, the feel, and every bump and bend of those prego flip flops.   SO MANY CHOICES.  Natural childbirth or medically influenced, breastfeed or bottle feed, schedule or cue feed, vaccinations or none, space the siblings or just get it all done, chemical birth control or other means, baby sleep on the back or the belly…so…many…choices.  We each really want to get this mommy thing RIGHT.  And when you pick a side and you happen to be talking to a mom from the other side…oh dear…the mommy brain juice brings on that three part concoction and it is not fun.  Guilt, defensive, and sheer terror.  So overwhelming. 

How about we settle this right now?   
I’m right and you’re wrong.  Okay bye

I’m SO funny….

Dear new mommies, if I could just gather you all up and tell you just three specials things this is what they would be…
1.  1.  Individual, Individual, Individual. How amazing that God chose that man, out of millions of options in this world, to be your man.  And how amazing that God has chose YOU to be your child’s mommy and none other.  This means that He will work individually and uniquely with your family.  Do what works for YOUR family.  Everyone has unique circumstances.  That’s the glory of God’s love for us.
2..        2. Research, research, research.  Why did I choose the things that I did?  Because of research.  Don’t treat childbirth or chemical birth control like it’s just another day or it’s just another drug.  Research, research, research. Read books, internet research, talk to women you respect.  Get perspective and then some more perspective and then some more perspective. Pray and research, pray and research.
3.      3.   Find your special level.  Every choice does not mean you have to go to the extreme.  Think of every choice as having two sides, one side starts at 1 and the other side ends at 10.  Take scheduling vs. cue feeding as an example.  I would say I’m about a 3 towards cue feeding.  Just because I chose to cue feed does not mean I have to go to the extreme stereotype that I always pictured with my child nursing until he’s 8 at any hour of the day.  That’s someone who’s at a 1 (or maybe a -3).  Every choice does not mean you need to go the extreme side.  That was a huge eye opener for me with my first baby.  Find what number on the scale works for you.

Be intentional in your choices and gracious with the choices of others.  Dear friends, be so extremely gracious when sharing your choices.  I have found such joy in sharing and teaching others the wonderful blessings that have come from my childbirth, breast feeding, co sleeping, and ext choices!  It really has blessed me!  It is so encouraging how God has used my own mother’s choices and that of other people that influenced me to have such good experiences!  I have also learned and I’m still learning when to shut my mouth because I KNOW my words will activate that Sensitive Mommy Brain Juice and for goodness sake, I know how that feels.  Forgive me if I have every made your brain explode.  I truly am sorry. 

I love mommies.  They are one of my most favorite things on earth.  We take care of these little people and our nurturing arms know that they depend on every one of our choices.  They will for their whole lives.  New mommies, the choices don’t stop.  Soon you will have to choose how to discipline; home school or public/private school, video games or no video games, boxed processed foods or some organic farmer the writer knows…the choices don’t end. 

But praise God and His great love for each of us!  His brain juice never stops loving us!  Amen?  Of course amen!