Creating Heavenly Pearls

Every woman should have a southern friend at least once in their lifetime. In fact, I would go so far as to say that until you have a southern friend, you don’t really understand friendship. Really. That’s how incredible sweet tea sipping, sunhat wearing, smocked jumper buying, pie making, advice giving southern women are. Or, maybe that’s just my friend Melissa. I have a suspicion it’s all belles though.

Among the many southern-isms I’ve learned in the past 4 years of friendship, one stands out. A cultural idiosyncrasy I immediately wished was part of life in the Pacific Northwest. No. Not hush puppies. Although, the story behind those is adorable. Not even that “Bless Your Heart” is actually somewhat of an insult. Who knew? No, the tradition I lamented never learning involves pearls.

One morning, a few years ago, Melissa seemed a little down. When I asked if she was ok, her response was, “Well, I’m wearing my pearls.” She then clued me in to the most delightful secret girl code ever. In the South, if it’s a bad day, you wear your pearls. It makes you feel better — how can you be grumpy with pearls on — and is a signal to your friends that things aren’t the greatest. I mean come on. How did I live 30 years before hearing about this? Car broke down? Pearls. Kids trashed the house? Pearls. Baby spit up on you and then blew out the diaper…but only after you’d changed out of your curdled milk pants? Double strand of pearls! It’s amazing! The pearl solution changes my outlook on the day. I feel like a secret agent and a princess all at once. Ooooh, “Princess Secret Agent”. Coming soon to a theater near you.

Heavenly Pearls
As Christmas approaches this year, I decided to pass along this Southerner wisdom to my two teenage nieces. I set about writing a little poem to package with a set of pearls for each niece. As I started writing, the thought occurred to me that there was a deeper spiritual wisdom to the whole Southern pearls tradition. Pearls are created when sand irritates an oyster right? In the process of pearl creation, something beautiful is developed out of the annoyance and pain. Do oysters feel pain? Surely they must. As I mulled about this, James 1:2-4 came to mind.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

What an amazing scriptural tie in! Wearing pearls when you are upset, and also remembering the truth of trials producing perseverance, which helps us be mature and complete. Exactly what I want for my nieces. I added these principles to my poetry and bada-boom-bada-bing, the gifts were finished. I can hardly wait for Christmas! And, for my own daughter to get her own set of pearls when she’s  a little older.

Heavenly Pearls

Print the poem using this pdf and select 2×2 per page to make it turn out just the right size for slipping into a little jewelry box.

If you are interested in a starter pearl set for the young lady in your life, click here to purchase the ones I did. They are freshwater pearls, unique in shape, not round. They don’t come in a box, just a little pretty bag. So, I purchased these gift boxes to put them in.

Heavenly Pearls

For those of you in the neighborhood of a Shane Company jewelry store, who are rolling in the dough, I absolutely ADORE my pearls from Shane Co. They are an amazing place and I’ve never been disappointed with the service, quality or selection there.

For all of you ladies, as we hit the season of peace on earth and joyful hearts (and crazy family, drama, traffic, stress and spending), remember your pearls! Anyone have other Southern traditions or wisdom my life isn’t complete without?

Hiding From Healing

Voices floated across the warm placid air, carrying to my hiding place beneath the trailer table. “Has anyone seen Tonya? We can’t find her anywhere.” The urgency in the muffled question almost propelled me from the protection of my secret spot. I willed myself to become as small as possible as I listened to the voices trail away across the field outside and felt the sweet relief of remaining undiscovered wash over my huddled frame. Only too soon I knew someone would think to recheck the trailer, and then the pain would start again. I knew it was a temporary respite, but for now, I was safe. Hidden. My arm encased in the cast that had been my companion for months.

My earliest memories are of agony. Of a medicinal smell tinged with the fragrance of blood. Of pleading any words I could muster and fighting with every ounce of my petite frame to force my parents to stop. I recall being assured how much I was loved, that this was the best thing for me, but only wanting to run and hide from the daily torture of my life. It was that desire to flee that found me crouched in a stiflingly hot trailer as the sweltering summer afternoon faded towards twilight, praying that this day I might escape the inevitable.

It took over a decade before I glimpsed the extent of my parent’s devotion to me. And only 20 years later, after experiencing parenthood myself did I truly understand their willingness to struggle with me through heartache and gut-wrenching pain so that I could face life without a permanent reminder of the accident that almost scarred my life forever. The accident. At the age of five, as a freckled, exuberant pixie, I fell while twirling and rolled straight into the side of a barrel of burning trash. From my knuckles to my shoulder my flesh was singed. Scorched. Destroyed. Through the layers of sun spotted skin, the blazing metal demolished my tissue down to the nerves. I suffered third degree burns. Even with proper treatment, horrible scarring would almost certainly be the result.

In God’s eternal graciousness, my mother’s best friend “happened” to be a nurse at Seattle’s premiere burn unit. Harborview. She rescued me from a lengthy stay in the burn unit by assuring the doctors that with her oversight, my parents would do whatever necessary to treat me at home, and would return me weekly to Harborview’s capable staff for check-ups, thorough treatments and admission to the burn center, should the at-home care prove insufficient for my recovery. However, in relieving me of the loneliness of a hospital stay, she sentenced me to the realities of burn treatment without drugs to dull the pain, or professional staff to shield my mother and father from my daily screams of anguish.

Burns of this magnitude and depth cannot be just left alone to heal on their own. Our bodies will quickly scab over such wounds in an attempt to protect them, but the deep void beneath become a breeding ground for infection. In addition, not allowing the burn to heal inside up is what ultimately results in scars. The only solution is to repeatedly remove all scabs, opening the wound multiple times a day, washing, medicating and re-bandaging it until the burned tissue regrows from the deepest parts out. The process takes months. Multiple times a day, my father had to pin me down while my mother scrubbed the newly growing skin off my arm, revealing the slowly healing burns beneath. It was his six-foot frame that steadied and vainly attempted to comfort me because fueled by pain and adrenaline, my 40 pound body could overpower my mother. Once a week I returned to the hospital burn unit to be scrubbed down by professionals, where, breathing in drugged air, I laughed and joked with the staff as blood covered my arm. Days stretched to weeks into months, the repeated horribly familiar cycle becoming almost normal. Until at last, fresh skin covered my wounds and was allowed to remain. To this day, my mom’s nurse friend marvels that I’m the only patient she’s ever seen to come through third degree burns with no scarring.  Zero. None. A testament to my parent’s unyielding love and devotion to do what was best, regardless of the daily emotional toll it took on all of us. You would never guess which arm suffered such a traumatic event. I even recovered all my freckles. A miracle I’m thankful for every day.

Freckles

I was reminded of this painful period of my life this morning in church. With this scripture 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

The imagery of “fiery trial”, is obviously applicable in a very real sense for me. To this day, 30 years later, any analogy involving fire instantly makes me uncomfortable as the symbolism hits too close to home. This morning, as I scribbled down my thoughts, for the first time it occurred to me that healing from a severe burn replicates our need for healing from the wounds caused by the fiery trials of our earthly life. Betrayal, lies, broken relationships, disappointment, anger, resentment all inflict emotional damage that burn past the surface, to the nerves of our souls. Our natural instinct is to scab over these hurts. To insulate our pain and develop a crusty outer layer. But is this really healing? To pretend that wounds don’t exist? We hear to “just move on”, to “get over it” and that seems to make sense, but is it truly what’s best for our souls?

Maybe we need daily emotional scrubbing. Perhaps our wounds are best bandaged by continually opening up the ugly rawness to the tender hands of the Lord. The irony of third degree burns is that because of the damage to the nerves, the actual burns are not what causes agony. It’s the regrowth of the tissue that hurts. The burgeoning sensors of pain bursting to life as healing takes place is truly torture. I think our emotional trauma is the same way. Better to leave the scorched damaged memories buried and unscoured than open ourselves up to the tremendous suffering of true and lasting healing. Processing our pain and allowing the inward change that comes from turning our hurts over to the Father is the emotional equivalent of my childhood torment. It feels awful. We feel vulnerable. The ache is consuming. It doesn’t seem worth it. We just want the pain to stop. To go back to cowering under our table. Praying nobody will find us. Pretending it isn’t there. But just as my parents searched me out, our Lord wants to meet us in our hiding places and walk with us in the hard painful parts of life. To comfort us amid overwhelming circumstances. Seeing us through the fiery trials of this world into forever healing, not just temporary scabs or permanent scars. Allowing us to come forth through the anguish to find exceeding joy and freedom on the other side.

Easter Fun For Everyone!

Here’s a round-up of some fun and easy activities you can do with your family during Easter week. Enjoy!
Resurrection Rolls – a fun food demonstration with disappearing marshmallows!

Resurrection Rolls - Dissonant Symphony

Fingerprint Eggs – if you are sick of dyeing eggs, try painting instead!

Fingerprint Eggs - Dissonant Symphony

Resurrection Eggs – a great way to teach your children the story of Easter, and enable them to share it with others!

Resurrection Eggs - Dissonant Symphony

Hot Cross Buns – delicious fluffy rolls perfect for little hands to help making!

Hot Cross Buns - Dissonant Symphony

If you are looking for Easter deliciousness, head over to Bakerlady to find Perfect Deviled Eggs, and other Easter Foods that are Easier than You’d Expect! Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen!

Why I Just Quit My Job as a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Because some days, don’t we all want to? Due to the nature of the internet, I feel it is necessary to preface this post with the following disclaimer. I love my kids. Most days, I feel blessed beyond measure to have the privilege of raising such remarkable little people. However…there are days. Unbelievably challenging, never-ending afternoons of horror. Days that stretch me to the very breaking point. Today was such a loathsome 24-hours. I’d had enough. Beyond frustration. I’d taken a breather, and a short walk. Neither helped. There was nothing left to do…so I quit. My husband received the following resignation letter this afternoon.

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Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

While my husband was training for his new job in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the kids and I took a jaunt to the Oregon Coast and spent 5 glorious days flying kites, observing nature, building sand castles, exploring miles of pristine beaches, discovering tide pool creatures and generally having a jolly good time.

At the Oregon Coast

The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area was one of the highlights of our trip, and I thought I’d share a little for anyone in search of a ruggedly beautiful place to vacation this summer.

Yaquina Head & Lighthouse from Cape Foulweather

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Wouldn’t You Agree?

I just completed a phone survey about kids and television. My blood is boiling. Forgive me for this rant, I have to unload somewhere. Prepare yourself.

We made the decision to get rid of television in our home 6 years ago. I find television news a passive approach to information and despise being spoon fed opinions on current events. I prefer to get my facts from the source rather than filtered down through various editor’s desks, being wrapped in makeup and lighting, and finally disseminated in the most politically correct way possible. Television news is a business. This kind of “news” is meant to garner ratings. Period. I find it pandering and insulting to my intelligence. How’s that for breaking news? Continue reading

May Day Merriment

It’s a well known fact that I enjoy making a big deal out of the little things in life. My kids know to expect unexpected fun and anticipate special occasions even on the most blah “holidays”. For example, May Day. Leaving a basket of flowers and treats used to be a very popular tradition on May Day. The tradition dates at least as far back as Louisa May Alcott writing about May Baskets in her book “Jack and Jill” in the 1800s. Welcoming spring with a special basket/bundle of flowers, ringing the doorbell and running away is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. And that makes me sad. What kind of world is this anyway?

May Day Merriment Continue reading