Sep 24, 2013

Sunset

9/24/2013 — cori

Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because 
they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.
― Richard Paul Evans, The Gift





When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, 
my soul expands in the worship of the creator. 
- Mahatma Gandhi




Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. 
And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things 
are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. 
How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?






Learn to like what doesn't cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.

Learn to like people, even though some of them may be different...different from you.
Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction doing your job as well as it can be done.

Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows,
 and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.

Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be
controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.”





“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. 
When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying,
 "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." 
I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” 
― Carl R. Rogers



Sep 22, 2013

Mankato Powwow

9/22/2013 — cori
Yesterday we did something we've always wanted to do:  attend a real, live Native American Powwow.   The proper name is actually Wacipi (wa-chee-pee), which means 'dancers' in the Dakota language.  It was neat to learn that a powwow is simply a large community gathering of different tribes meeting once a year to dance and renew old friendships.  It's pretty much a celebration of community. 


This particular one is significant because it occurs on the anniversary of the largest mass execution in US history.  In Mankato,  over 150 years ago, 38 Dakota were hanged.  The history behind this is fascinating and goes mostly untold.  I only learned about it last year.  


It was humbling being the minority in the crowd.  I was amazed that they opened up this deeply personal, special event to out-siders such as us.   I was saddened by the obvious signs of poverty.  I admired the beautiful art work that they have kept alive along with their history amidst many cultural challenges.  Lastly, I was impressed that there were no words of bitterness directed towards the whites. I don't think I would have acted so honorably having received such a short end of the stick.


Also surprising to me was the fact that as a people, the Native Americans are very patriotic.  The Grand Entry began with a procession of flags and men in uniform who served in several different wars.


I saw this guy dancing in the ring the whole time.  He was rather intimidating looking.  I was too scared to take his picture so I paid our neighbor girl (who joined us on our expedition) to take it for me.  We were supposed to ask each dancer permission to take their picture. But I just couldn't bring myself to ask this gentleman for permission.  If he said "no", how do you recover from that?  I knew he wouldn't say no to a young girl.


Wisdom

9/22/2013 — cori
Even though I may not be Catholic I still admire Pope Francis and his tender, humble heart towards God and people.  I especially appreciate his quote on doubt and faith:



"If one has the answers to all the questions that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble."
This struck a chord with me because I've known many self-righteous people in my day who seem to have Christianity and God all figured out.  I have often felt like the lone questioner or the only one who doesn't get it or the only one who must be doing it wrong.  I definitely prefer this posture of humility towards God and others.  
Lord, please forgive me for the times I've acted as if I've known it all. I know nothing, only that You love all of us and want me to do the same. Please show me how.  Forgive me for desiring to be right more often than desiring to love and show grace. Thank you for teaching me how to follow you.

Sep 18, 2013

Staying Afloat

9/18/2013 — cori
As we have been walking this unknown path these last few weeks of unemployment I've taken great comfort in the writings of David G. Benner from his book "Surrender to Love".  Ironically, I was reading this book before these events unfolded.  I thought I'd already 'surrendered to love'.  I was about to find out just how wrong I was.

I've heard the term 'surrender' most of my life.  I'm very familiar with it.  I thought I knew exactly how to 'do it'.  Afterall, I 'surrender' something to God at least every 2.7 seconds throughout the day. Apparently I like to take the 'surrendered stuff' back once I give it up to Him and have to go back to Him with my tail between my legs and give it Him again.   Humbling, yes.  If I've supposedly already learned this lesson, why then do I keep trying to take back control?  Why am I more comfortable in the position of control than allowing God to be?

Easy...I haven't completely surrendered to love.  We hear so much in Christian circles about how God demands/commands/requires our obedience to surrender.  Is God really that militaristic?  I don't think so.  Maybe that's why we have a hard time surrendering...who wants to surrender something to someone when you're afraid of that someone on some subconscious level.

Surrendering to love comes out of the deepest knowing that you are loved in your most vulnerable, naked state.  You know you have nothing to offer.  You know you can't make yourself look better, do better, be better, yet you are desired above all else - and you actually believe it.  That is transforming love.  That is unconditional love.  That is a safe place.  That is the truest sense of love.  And in that most peaceful, content, restful place you can't help but trust, you can't help but yield out of love for the one who loves you.  Surrender isn't demanded from this lover, it is a result of knowing and being in love.  It happens naturally.  It's a response to love.

Then it dawned on me....I've never truly surrendered to the love of God.   Maybe at times I've tasted that delectable goodness and freedom and joy but then let it go out of fear that I might lose it.  Twisted thinking, I know, but true none-the-less.  Fear is like that.

Dr. Benner gave the most amazing analogy to surrender that I've ever read or heard about and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I was hoping to write a poem about it, but it never came to me in that form.  So I'm writing it down in this format to keep this picture alive in my mind and heart and so maybe one day my kids can read it and find peace when they need it.

He explained that God and His love are like a river.  We surrender when we float on this river.  When we struggle, we sink.  When we try to tread water, we eventually sink.  When we pick our head up to look around to see where we are, we sink.  When we are afraid we're going the wrong way and panic, we sink.  We only float when we rest and let the river carry us.  The only effort floating takes is letting go of your trying.  It is being in a state of rest.  That is surrender.  And that is beautiful.

So I'll just be floating down the river today if you need me.

Sep 16, 2013

My Public Image

9/16/2013 — cori
The other day I was outside visiting with one of my neighbors when she confides in me that they are pregnant.  This is fantastic news because a year ago she went through a heart breaking miscarriage.  However, the news gets even better.  She's having twins.  The cool thing about this is her husband told her that she could stay at home if she ever had twins and wouldn't have to go back to work (thinking it would most likely never happen).  She was telling me their conversation about this and told me, "And then he said, 'Well, I guess you're going to have to talk to Cori and have her teach you how to make soap.'"  This is in reference to how they're going to have to cut back on living costs and be more efficient with less income.  Apparently I have a reputation.

Soap???

There were just so many questions running through my mind at that precise moment, I had no idea how to respond.  I must have said something stupid like, "Oh ya, anytime."

Soap???  So the neighbors think of me sitting at home all day making homemade soap since I'm a stay at home mom?  How did I get this notoriety?  Who is spreading soap rumors about me?  Do I look like someone who would make her own homemade soap?  Granted, I went through a phase a year ago where I was making my own laundry detergent and deodorant but have since ceased all such nonsense (it costs too much to make your own and doesn't work nearly as well, for the record).  But I don't recall ever going outside and making a public announcement to the neighborhood about my homemade soap making abilities.  Are my neighbors secretly referring to me as 'The Homemade Soap Lady'?  I'm beside myself with my newfound public image.  What else could they possibly think of me?  Why do I care so much?  Most importantly, what are my kids saying about me when they're at the neighbor's house?

I better scour the internet for a good soap making recipe for my neighbor for when her twins are due - they're counting on me and I don't want to let them down...afterall, I am The Homemade Soap Lady.

Sep 12, 2013

On Being Different

9/12/2013 — cori
Bennett tells me the other day that he thinks he'd like to take Judo and wants to know where he can sign up.  I tell him that's cool and all but he's going to have to wait until after basketball season.  We have a one extracurricular activity per kid per season rule in our house for our own sanity.  I then proceed to encourage him to google all the Judo schools in the area and let me know which ones look cool and we can look at them together.

I sense he wants to talk more about it before beginning his research so I ask him why he's suddenly so interested in Judo.  He responds with, "Well, just look at Gavin.  He's so strong and muscular and confident now that he's been doing Tae-kwon-do for so long.  I want that too."  That's as close to complimenting his brother as we're going to get.  I told him I agreed with him and can understand.  He admires what martial arts does to a person mentally and physically and he wants in.

He went to look up his new dream and only minutes later came to find me with his hopes shattered and dreams dashed about like broken glass.  Apparently, there are no martial arts schools close enough to home that offer Judo for kids.  Heartbroken.  Now what?

Chuck felt the need to take this discussion further.  He couldn't understand why Bennett didn't want to just go to the same Tae-kwon-do school as Gavin that is 5 minutes from our house and asked him about it? Bennett responds with, "Well....Dad...I don't want to be known as 'Gavin's Younger Brother'.  I want to strike out on my own, do my own thing."

Ahhhh....I see what we have going on here.

"Plus, I like Judo cuz it's Japanese and I like all things about Japan."

Ok, makes sense.

"I just want to be different than Gavin."

Oh to be the middle child.  Or the youngest.  It's got to be hard, always in the shadow of the oldest.  We tried to be very understanding.  Chuck would have preferred practicality since we could have gotten a second sibling discount.  But I completely understood that this is a big deal to Bennett, so we need to make it a big deal to us.  We have to remember his world and concerns are alot smaller than our adult ones.  Although he may admittedly admire his older brother, he wants to try something a little different because he's a little different.  I totally get it.

Unfortunately our search still ended in failure for Judo.  But we were able to find Wu Shu Kung Fu, which is Chinese, but it's training focuses on stamina and strength, two things Bennett values for his basketball.  Plus, as an added bonus, we read these awesome books this summer about these kids and their impressive Chinese Kung Fu skills.  Now that he can relate, he's sold.  Kung Fu is it.

Come April, we might just have two martial artists in this house.

Sep 6, 2013

Life Happens

9/06/2013 — cori

So, this isn't the most encouraging of posts but it is our life none-the-less and something we will always want to remember for it's moments like these that shape us the most.  Last week Chuck was unexpectedly laid off.  He went from working his dream job to being told he couldn't come back due to no fault of his own just that the company needed to downsize.  The effect this had on him was like being sucker punched in the gut.  He was in shock for a full day.  God was so gracious to give me a premonition that this was about to happen the morning he went to meet with his boss.  I was ready, by the grace of God alone, to be the strong one and support him as he reeled.  He took it in stride and constantly kept a positive outlook always telling me, "hey, it could be worse...we didn't just get news that one of us has a terminal illness, we'll make it through this."  It's all about perspective.  And trust.

Fast forward a week and Chuck has already gone on several job interviews.  The design community and network of friends and colleagues he has is amazing.  He was looking forward to going to downtown Minneapolis for the first of these interviews.  However, he got lost on his way into the city. He accidentally took a wrong turn and couldn't turn around again for like 10 miles.  Plus his phone died and he couldn't look up directions on how to get back.  He was thinking he'd just not go, he didn't want to be late to an interview, plus he wasn't all that excited about this place.  Miraculously, he finds his way back, finds an open parking spot across the street from the building and puts in enough quarters for 1 1/2 hours (he felt he was being overly generous with the time).  

He ends up talking to 6 people during this 3 hour interview.  He comes out of the meeting at 6:30pm. His interview began at 3pm.  He goes to look for his car and can't find it. At this point, he called me said he was low on battery and that he was going to go look for his car.  Somehow he figured out it was at the impound lot.  He found the lot on his maps app and then his phone dies for good.  He burns the directions into his brain and sets out to walk the 2 miles.  

He just so happens to be in the shady side of town where all the bums hang out.  He walked 2 miles past all the bums.  At one point he sees a man sleeping under the bushes and realizes things could be a lot worse....but he's still mad as a hornet.  He gets to the impound lot and there are alot of other people waiting too.  20 minutes and $130 later he leaves with his car to drive home - in rush hour.   He told me later that he stopped at 2 different gas stations to ask to use their phone to call me so that I wouldn't be worried.  Both times he was denied.  Just more nails for him to chew as he was driving home like a maniac. 

I had to pick Gavin up from tae-kwon-do at 8pm.  I left at 7:50 to get him.  I decided that if Chuck wasn't back by time I got home I'd drive into the city and just start looking for him thinking maybe he assaulted the impound lot guy and was in a holding cell or got assaulted himself along the way. Miraculously, he pulled into the driveway as I was pulling out.

Later that night as he was tucking Bennett into bed and retelling his tale of woe, Bennett said, "Dad, I don't believe in coincidence.  I think God wanted you to see that bum.  That was meant to remind you that things can always be worse."  Great minds think alike. :)

No, he doesn't have a job yet.  But that's okay.  We're in God's hands...the best place of all to be.  We can't only trust him when everything is going our way.  The test of our faith is if we really trust him when things are at their worst, when we have lost control and can't find our way.  He will guide us down the path we should go, we have no doubt.  Sometimes it's dark and bleak looking during the waiting time but that is also the growing time and I wouldn't want to change a thing.  We're enjoying this little surprise gift of extra time together.  And we're "counting it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds knowing that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:2).

Sep 4, 2013

The High Five

9/04/2013 — cori
One would think that the customary high five is a natural, in-born response that most children have a visceral understanding of.  Not mine.  High fives in this house are a whole other ballgame.  We don't high five, rather we have the patented "Mallott Hand Clasp" or "The Clasp of Solidarity".  It says "we are one" without using words.




EVERY TIME, without fail, that we go to high five one of our people, they start by hitting palm to palm and then they invariably interlace their fingers with ours to 'finish off' the high five.  Think of it like a hand hug in the air.  Or more like our hands have joined together for prayer in the air.  Either way...it's not normal...but for us it is.  This is how we roll people.

We don't even try to fist bump...who knows what a mess we'd make of that one.

Sep 3, 2013

School

9/03/2013 — cori
I could live in an endless summer if that means my kids are always home, it's always sunny and hot out and we have ample books and outdoor activities to keep us going.  Throw a few road trips in there and I'm completely sold.  The problem is, I just love being with my kids so much that when school starts again every year like it always does, I get so lonely.  All my playmates are gone.   All peeps find new peeps to hang with.  Those 3 months of summer are always my favorite.  I'm thrilled that my kids are so excited to go to school and that they love to learn and they get ample opportunities to love other people...I just wish I could do it with them.  I guess it's best to yank the band-aid off fast, so that's what today was for me...it was like a band-aid being ripped off my body fast and furious.  It's all good though.  I survived.  My kids are on cloud 9 each in their respective schools.  We've got one at each: Elementary, Middle and High School.  I've got a lot to be thankful for.  I like to take a picture with the kids on the first day of school to document that I'm shrinking in height.  Each of them have grown so much.  By the end of this school year, I might just be the shortest one.


Chloe the 4th grader who is already in love with her teacher.


Bennett the 6th grader.  
He was so proud to tell us that he only got lost twice today.  



Gavin the 9th grader.  
He has finally discovered his sense of style and I couldn't be happier.


It was so sweet to hear a little knock on our door at 7am from our sweet neighbor Jenna.  She is like a sister to Chloe.  She just stopped by to wish Chloe a wonderful first day of school.  Is that a friend or what?!  And then she walked with Bennett to their bus stop and looked out for him at school today.  I wish I'd taken a picture with Jenna too cuz she's like my own child.  

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