Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Shelter is Not a Place, It’s a Relationship August 16, 2009

I had not heard of Raising Five until tonight but I’m so glad I found it (HT Owlhaven).  Katherine wrote awhile back about sheltering our children vs. giving them freedom as they grow and uses her own growing up as an example.  I hope you find the article as encouraging and insightful as I did.


Being Pharaoh April 24, 2009

I realized something this morning. It isn’t pretty. As per usual, it’s come from observing my toddler.  If anyone’s sitting there thinking right now that I’m mean for saying I’ve learned something bad from my toddler, I’m assuming you’ve never had one.  But for those of you who aren’t too offended to keep reading, I continue.  🙂

We’re at this stage with my son, who just turned three. It’s this stage where he has learned to follow rules, but his heart has not understood what it means to obey. Some of this is a lack in our parenting and example, I’m sure. Some of it, though, is that he is a fallen being and he was before he hit zygote stage. Scripture is clear on this.

This morning, Eamonn got up way earlier than usual. I have been getting up at 5:00 AM to have some time to myself — some time of peace where I can drink enough coffee to wake up and pray myself into the day. One of my prayer requests is that this time won’t keep getting shortened by Eamonn’s getting up earlier and earlier as he did this morning. So, finally, at 6:30 he was up for a bit and what I thought was for good.

You know, moms, those mornings, where every little thing — even the easy ones — become a battle? “Eamonn, it is too early for you to be up. But you can sit with me while I finish reading and praying. You may do a hidden picture sheet or you may read a book.” “Ohh…I think I play my dart gun.” “No, no dart gun. That is loud. You may do your hidden picture or look at a book. Oh, or you can do puzzles. It needs to be quiet because I’m not done yet.” “I play your computer?” “No. You may choose puzzles, book, or hidden pictures.”  “Ohhhh.  Okay I do puzzles.”  Which lasted for about 3 minutes when I heard both xylophones being played at once.  “Eamonn, you must play quiet things.” “But I AM playing dem quiet and in my room.”  “No.  This is not what I’ve asked.  I’ve given you three things you may do…” “But…”  I won’t go into anymore detial because it wasn’t fun for anyone.

But so it began. With every single option given, something else off the list was chosen — or, something partially on the list but slightly different.  Of all the available options, each of which he would love had he not been active in resistance this morning, none was chosen as presented. Look, I’m new at this. I’m sure plenty of you would have caught onto the issue way before I did this morning. May I blame it on not having had my second mug ‘o joe? Whatever, I’m getting to the point.

Puzzles were chosen again and I lay down on the floor of Eamonn’s room with him while he worked a puzzle and I started to read in Exodus. (I’m way behind on my ESV in a year reading plan.) I was at the 7th plague. This is one of those stories that you’ve heard so many times since you were a little kid that you sort of shut down parts of your brain when you read it because you think you already know everything that’s in there. That’s how I tend to think about things like Moses and the Plagues, or Noah and the flood, or David and Goliath.

But here is what hit me this morning that I’ve never heard anyone mention before.  Pharaoh obeyed a few times before the first Passover!  Well wait.  Let me restate that.  Pharaoh obeyed…sort of.  Moses said, “Let my people go.” And Pharoh said, “All right!  Go!  Well, okay, the men can go.  But the kids stay here.”  Plague.  Moses said, “Let my people go with all of their belongings.”  Pharaoh obeyed some more and disobeyed some more, “Fine.  GO.  Good riddance.  All of you go.  Oh, but I’ll need all your cattle to stay.”  I’m paraphrasing a little.  

First I thought of Eamonn.  Hooooo boy!  Yup!  My kid’s not just a pharasee — keeping the “whole” Law but rebelling in heart.  He’s PHARAOH.  Keeping part of the law laid down but resisting parts and calling it obedience.  I mean it was just all crashing in so clearly, what his problem was.  

And then a small niggling thought occurred to me.

I do this ALL the time.  I am called to submit to different forms of authority before God and I am the queen of partial submission.  I give on the items in my home especially where I agree and no sacrifice is involved.  But what about the areas where my husbad for perfectly legitimate reasons has an opinion or desire different from mine?  

I could go on and on in all of the areas of partial obedience in my life.  That content alone would constitute a whole fleshed-out category in this blog if I wanted it to.  But instead I want to focus on vocabulary.  It isn’t partial “obedience” at all.  Rather, it’s plain disobedience through and through because any alteration is resistance in full.  It’s hypocrisy at its clearest because it’s made to look like submission and obedience when really, somewhere, I’ve made it on my terms.

This is garbled because that second mug is still sitting on the table getting cold.  But I just had to get this down.  This morning I read Exodus and I identified with Pharaoh instead of the enslaved Israelites and Moses.

The difference, thankfully, is that my heart is not hard like Pharaoh’s.  I am allowed to see, by God’s grace, my own disobedience and resistance. And I am promised help in changing because I’m steeped in Love freely given, not plagues and wrath poured out on my deserving head.  I am hidden away from the final wrath and consequences Pharaoh was dealt because of the blood of the true Passover Lamb.  

So this morning as I go microwave my coffee, now cold on the table, I contemplate full submission and obedience and pray for the grace to carry them out.

And finally as an imitator of my Father like in Ephesians 5:1 and 2 I will walk in love and try to pour myself out well to my son as an example of real obedience and submission.  By God’s grace I will accomplish it.


Longing June 6, 2008

Eamonn woke up in the middle of the night shivering and crying and I’d brought him to bed with us for a little while so that he could calm back down and drink some water. I slept for a bit with my nose in his hair, remembering all the nights I clung to my mom when I was little, wishing that she could just stay the whole night with me. There are few aches like the aches we feel when we long for our mommies. I hold him a little closer when I feel like that and his poor, hot baby skin burned against mine while his fever did its work and he fell back to sleep.

I have been having strange dreams every night and last night was no exception. I keep dreaming I am with my mother and that she doesn’t know she’s dead and that it’s my job, somehow, to make her understand. I wonder what my heart is trying to process that makes me dream this over and over again?

When we woke up this morning, Eamonn and I were both a little the worse for wear. Since I was a little kid, a family remedy for morning blues was a trip to the local diner where all the waitresses know you. So I packed Eamonn up with promises of pancakes and we headed out to our nearest family-owned diner for breakfast.

My visits to this particular diner have been shaky at best since Mom died. It was a favorite of my mom’s and mine. It is where she, my mother-in-law, and I went for pie after seeing Eamonn on 4d ultrasound for the first time. We sat in awe with huge smiles and lots of tears, cooing to the waitresses about how clearly cute and talented my boy already was, even in the womb. We used to just sit there on rainy afternoons and laugh at Eamonn’s antics as he flirted with waitresses and old ladies who stopped by the table to say hi. It’s a busy place, but they never hesitate to pour you just one more cup of coffee over and over again when they know you. It’s the place mom took me for lunch to let me know that her cancer was back. She’s the only person I know who would buy you lunch to soften the news of her own cancer. Doesn’t it seem like cancer should be a free lunch ticket? But not to my mom.

On our visit to the Village Kitchen the week before last, I finally explained to Curtis, the owner’s son, why Eamonn and I had switched down from being a party of three to a party of two. It makes it a little easier to know that they know when I well up over my coffee, which seems unavoidable when I’m there these days. Today was no exception.

I ordered eggs, pancakes, and bacon for us. I always get cheese on my scrambled eggs and while Eamonn and I were eating we started to laugh as I pulled and pulled at a bite of cheddar and egg — the string of melted cheese was never-ending no matter how much I twirled my fork. Suddenly, like a loudspeaker had been turned on in my head, I heard my mom laughing. When Eamonn was about a year old we’d ordered him a grilled cheese sandwich and laughed over the very same melty cheese. “It’s longhorn cheddar!” she’d giggled, “What a dirty trick to play on a kid!” and we’d melted into hysterics while trying to help him manage his sandwich with such a little mouth and little hands.

Bam. Tears. That’s all it takes right now. Oh how I wanted her there.

Eamonn lasted beautifully through breakfast and then a trip to the hardware store for canning jars, but he was so tired when we got home. I put him down for his nap early and after listening to him cry for a little while he started to sob, “I lubbus, mommmm. Mommmmm, I lubbus!” His baby version of “I love you.” I couldn’t resist. I went and scooped him up and snuggled him against me in his rocker while he finally calmed down and slept. The smell of him, the weight of him, and the feel of his little hand on my neck — all of them made me ache.

This all got me to thinking about longing. I deal with a lot of longing right now. I shudder sometimes to think about the weight of the longing my father must feel without my mother there anymore. But in the midst of all of this longing, there is hope. And maybe this is why, though I long I do not fall apart the ways I expected to. And maybe this is why, too, I keep dreaming that my mother does not know that she’s dead. I’m trying to reconcile my earthly understanding of death and the seeming permanence of it with the faith I have that what we see here is not all there is.

Last night while I was cleaning, I unearthed the Christmas letter my mom wrote in 2006, only months before we found out that her cancer had returned. After all the family news was done, she mentioned that for the first time in years, we were all going up to spend Christmas with the extended family — her brothers and all of our cousins and our kids. She wrote:

“The whole bunch of us are going, and there’ll be lots of hilarity and reminiscing over old times, longing for others who won’t be able to be there, and remembering loved ones long gone. It will be a sweet time, and we can hardly wait.

There is another greater Family Gathering coming
that we both find harder and harder to wait for with each passing year. That gathering will be what our Creator took on flesh for on that first Christmas and BURST into history to do battle to reclaim. It will be what He WON, on the cross, at the cost of His own life. It will be what He planned from the very beginning — His living in warm-hearted “family-ness” with His people — no more guilt on our part, no more fear, only perfect security and everlasting purpose and contentment. And it will be just as real as you standing there with this letter in your hand reading about it.”


And so as I weep and ache and long, I do not despair. My mind is trying to grasp that while she is gone from here, she is alive and well. And all shall be well. All manner of things will be well. And it will be just as real as you sitting here in front of your monitor reading this blog.


Eamonn Eats Zucchini June 5, 2008

Making up for the candy debacle, my son downed soup with zucchini in it last night. In fact, after taking a few tentative bites, he finally threw down his spoon, crowed, “Mmm mmm MMM!” and picked up his bowl to DRINK his soup!

Photographic evidence:
Eamonn eats soup

On another zucchini note, Ina Garten made a zucchini gratin today that looked absolutely amazing. Leave it to her or Paula Dean to figure out how to make a zucchini fattening, right? But oh man did it look good. There are some bad reviews on the site, but the overall rating was still 5 stars out of a ton of reviews. So I’ll give it a shot at some point this week. Because I’m still bringing in more zucchini than I know what to do with.

My sweet mother-in-law also sent me a ton of zucchini recipes that my husband grew up with. As I use them I will post them here.


The Best Made Plans are Laid to Toddlers May 29, 2008

It’s amazing how quickly a two-year-old can knock you off your high horse.

“Of the three things we are eating tonight, Ryan, only the turkey sausage is store bought!” I crowed to my husband tonight before dinner. “The bread is homemade, the squash is from our garden and I gave that much again to Teri. And tomorrow we’re having purslane salad again! I love that I can feed you guys so healthily.” I was really, really proud of myself. So proud, in fact, that I had pondered taking pictures of our plates and of Eamonn relishing every bite of his home-grown meal.

Only, about that…

Grandma sent a box of goodies to us that arrived today. She is the queen of care packages, my mother-in-law. In that package was candy and Eamonn knew it.

In the end the only way I got the kid to literally choke down a single bite of squash was to convince him that he had to try at least one bite before he got some of that candy. We did this by allowing Daddy a piece in front of Eamonn after he finished his own squash.

So instead of a picture of my son loving every bit of his garden harvest, I give you:

Yes, when I took it he was crowing, “Canneeeeeee!”

Ah well.


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