This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Brick by Brick….Sock by Sock….

I wish for world peace.
I wish for no one to be hungry.
I wish that everyone can understand how precious they are to God.
I wish for an end to sorrow.

I wish what almost every other person on earth wishes
…..including those pretty people competing in various beauty pageants everywhere.

(Hey….that's why the "world-peace-wishers" win these competitions.
They wish for what we all wish for.
Just sayin'…..)

I think as people….
as humans….
most of us simply want GOOD things for others.
We want other people to be free of yucky things.
We want to see joy.

Most of us feel something on the spectrum of sorrow when we see bad situations.

Maybe I feel mad when I see children being abused….
or frustrated when I see big groups misappropriating donated money…
or appalled when I discover purposeful mistreatment of someone…
or despair when I hear that thousands of kids under age 5 die of starvation each day…
or overwhelming sadness when I read about  teenagers aging out of orphanages…

These are bad things.
I hate that they exist.

When I learn about these kinds of things….
When they are called to my attention…


I want to find that elusive magical "make-it-better" wand and wave that sucker all over this crazy little planet.

But I can't find it.
And I can't fix world hunger.

I think it was Mother Theresa who said something along the lines of,
"You can't help everyone….but you can help someone."

I read a cool devotional last night by the president of World Vision.

He was feeling overwhelmed by all the people who needed help….and his organization's limited ability to assist.

Then he found inspiration and comfort in the book of Nehemiah in the Bible.

Nehemiah was really upset when he realized that the giant wall that used to surround Jerusalem was still broken down and in ruins from when the city had been attacked years before.

He knew that the Jews were supposed to rebuild it….and even got permission from the king to go ahead and start the project.

But….it was huge.
There was soooooooooooooooo much that needed to be fixed.
How could it ever be completed by "normal people" who were certainly not masons or wall-builders by trade?


…The priests made repairs, each in front of his own house.
--Nehemiah 3:28

And you know what happened?

The entire wall was repaired in FIFTY-TWO days because each person focused on the specific task right in front of them.

This devotional ends with the question,
"What section of the wall has God put in front of you?"

I can't fix an entire wall.
I can't save the world.
I can't even get all of my laundry done.

But…I can put away the basket of socks.
I can make one phone call.
I can stack a few bricks.

I think that God puts something specific in my path each day.
Something that he has prepared expressly for me to do.

In fact,
.We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared BEFOREHAND that we should walk in them.
--Ephesians 2:10

So my only task today?
Find that specific task God has laid out before me.

Make sure I don't ignore or overlook it….
small things which may seem so unimportant and insignificant to me are often the ones that have the greatest impact on others.

Say "yes" to this job even if it's inconvenient….
things that seem like burdens are often great opportunities in disguise.

Be thankful when I find a chance to serve….
remember that my life is not about how clean my house is or even about my personal schedule at all...

Do what I can….even when I can't do it all.

I am quite sure that God is big enough to finish the jobs He wants complete.

So I'm off to find my little wall section (or single basket of laundry).
I hope I recognize it….even if I have to trip over it to do so!

When I'm laying on the floor looking upward….
I see things the most clearly anyways.

Here is a link to a great book by Richard and Renee Stearns….

Friday, December 13, 2013


Last month I agreed to take on a two-week substitute teaching job for my kids' school.

Sure, the two weeks were the last two weeks before Christmas break….but with some foresight and a lot of coffee I could manage, right?

I've said it before and I'll say this again….
Teachers do not get paid nearly enough.

And I've got it easy!
All the lesson plans are done for me (in beautiful detail),
All the worksheets are copied and labeled,
All of the activities are organized,
All of the supplies are carefully laid out,
All of the other teachers are awesomely kind and helpful.

Still….I seem to be a bit behind in every other area of my life.

Ah well.

It's been a great lesson in priorities and time management….and I think it's given my kids and RH a fresh appreciation for the things I do during my "lounging" time while they're at work and school.

Anyway…today has been a lovely experience in how quickly circumstances can change my perspective.  And it's only 8 am.

--Alarm goes off at 5:10---uggh…..
--I hear sleet hitting the window so I hit "snooze"--good….
--Alarm goes off again--uggh….
--I have hot coffee with RH--good….
--Phone alarm goes off to tell me that several schools are cancelled--iffy.
--My school isn't--good. (Kids have many tests and two of my classes have fiestas!)….
--I'm running late from checking school cancellations--grrrr.
--I bump into my middle kid coming up/down the stairs-he's up early! Good…..
--I see the wreck that is my bedroom and closet from all of the junk thrown in there over the last 1.5 weeks of my "working" and I feel really really frazzled.  Ugggh….
--RH turns on the radio in the bedroom and it's playing my favorite old song….so good.
--RH comes up--but interrupts my thankful spiel with, "Ethan's throwing up.  Everywhere."  Not so good….
--RH agrees to stay with sick kiddo until I can figure out who to call to arrange for a substitute for my substitute job--sorta good….
--My mother-in-law agrees to take other kids to school…helpful good….
--Rh tells me he's cleaned the carpet with vinegar (because he remembered to not use bleach on the oriental rug)….super good…
--I get other kids up and try not to flinch as I tell them that they are the only school system in session today and their brother will also be staying home….iffy…
--I come downstairs to an interesting yet not unpleasant odor--Ahhh.  RH has used apple cider vinegar to clean oriental rug.  Good? Bad? Verdict's still out on this one…
--I realize I've hidden the supplies for the fiestas today--dang….
--I get other kids off to school via super MIL-good…
--I think that possibly I can get caught up on laundry while kiddo rests on couch--ha ha….
--I rush to help barely-making-it-to-the-sink kid--uggh…
--My kid feels so so awful.  So not good….
--I get a load of laundry in--awesome…
--It's all de-germ-sick stuff….mixed…
--My kiddo asks me to cuddle on couch and watch Polar Express--Good.  Very good.

So…despite not making it to my job today (and the huge guilt associated with that),
Despite a horribly sadly sick child,
Despite the smell of cider vinegar permeating every fiber of this house,
Despite a day of not working and still not being productive,..

I find nothing in this home except gratitude and joy.

Because, you see, tooday is the anniversary of Sandy Hook.

My fourth grader is here and he wants to cuddle with me.

So I will.
All afternoon.

I am going to bleach the sink.
A lot.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My (almost) New Job….

Today my kids saw a "Now Hiring" sign at Braum's.
They asked me if I would take the job so they could have free ice cream.

I asked them who would take care of them while I was working….and they said, "Dad."

"Do you think you'd ever have clean underwear if Dad was taking care of you every day?"

They said that NOT ONLY would they have clean underwear…
but that he would cook food for them
(especially bacon which he makes awesomely and they can eat it but they can't eat mine it's so bad)
and get stuff out of the freezer for them
and take them places
and clean stuff
and make them do homework but not so strictly and not right after school.

So go on and take the job, mom.

When I told my RH all of this (in front of kids) he laughed and agreed.
Yup,  agreed.

Said he would do a great job.

So I'll check if they're still hiring, I guess.

Flash forward to 9:00.

I've just come home from picking up my eldest from Wyldlife.

RH tells me that Carolyn threw up.
On her carpet.

And he said he just looked at it….and didn't know where to begin.

(Seriously?  Amateur.  Not knowing where to begin is for multiple upchucks on a top bunk that continue as a sickee climbs down the ladder still projectile vomiting.  WITH another person on the bottom bunk.  Sheesh.)

Apparently Carolyn had walked over to his side of the bed (where he had dozed off watching football) and told him (after coughing copiously all over his face and in his water glass) that she had thrown up.

RH followed her groggily into her bedroom and asked, "Where?"

She looked at him incredulously and said,

(wait for it)

"You're standing in it, Dad."


And so.

After hearing the story, I asked my sweet newly showered spouse if he still wanted me to apply at Braum's.

Can you guess the answer?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Of Tutus and Jack Hammers...

This morning I came across a link on Facebook entitled: "Must watch with your daughter!"

I peeked at the preview (during the time I could have/should have been doing something WAY more productive) and saw it looked potentially cute and relatively harmless.

Something about "boys' toys being for girls too" and stereotypes and all of that.

Since it seemed to involve a bunch of cutie pie's singing "We are the Champions" I thought my own little rock star might actually enjoy it, and kept it up on my computer screen to show her at breakfast.

My boys left early for school with their grandfather
(for 6:45 AM haircuts….which is soooooooo not kosher)
so Carolyn and I had some alone time.

As she was munching on her waffles I played the video.

It was cute.
A bunch of little girls trying to communicate that they could ride skateboards and build things just as well as they could play baby-dolls and do ballet.

Skate and build away!

Then the girls skated/ran/barrelled into a toy store and congregated in the "girl aisle".
You know the one.
It's easy to recognize because it's stocked with all things pink and glitzy and domestic and barbie and Lala Loopsy.

Anyway….when the diva/construction workers arrived there they skidded to a stop and let out a decidedly un-girly collective roar.
Then a caption came across the screen saying something like, "Disrupting the Pink Aisle!"

Apparently the point of this video is to encourage girls to embrace and enjoy subjects such as math, science and engineering as much as boys seem to do.  A new toy company has designed some sort of engineering toys that are supposed to help break down the gender barrier in toys.

Great idea.  Lovely thoughts.
I am, in fact, all about any kind of equalization toys.

As a kid I had all different kinds of toys.
I had the requisite  Cabbage Patch Kid…but mostly I just used it as a pillow for my stuffed dogs.
I played Barbies….but they hung out with Luke Skywalker in the Ewok Village and did violent battles against Professor Cold Heart from the Care Bears.

My brother (please don't hate me for this dear brother of mine!) had an "Adoption Doll" my mother had made him named Charles.
He looooooooooved that baby.
Dressed it and carried it and put it to bed.
And cuddled it.

As we grew up my brother turned more to potato guns and Ninja night-stalking.
I, however, never really grew more "girly."
Sure…I dabbled with makeup in the 7th grade….but I didn't really like it.
I did gymnastics instead of ballet and mowed the lawn instead of doing KP.

My parents didn't push us one direction or the other….they just let us BE.

Now I have a daughter myself.
And I think the apple, perhaps,  rolled a small distance from the tree.

She loves loves loves playing "family" and being a mom to her baby dolls.
She loves playing "teacher" and setting her animals and babies up in neat rows.
She loves pretending to clean the entire house--complete with doing laundry.
She loves playing "waitress" and taking orders and serving all of us food and lattes.
She is all things glitzy.
She adores pink and butterflies and unicorns.
She loves kittens and puppies that fit in tiny leopard print purses which she carries everywhere.
She is the reason Toys R Us created that pink aisle.

My daughter also has the ability to tackle her 3 year older brother and take him down to the ground.
She can do burpees (the pushup things that result from any of our kids arguing) with better form than either of her brothers.
She looks at me with barely concealed disdain when she sees another little girl acting scared of bugs.

When she grows up, my almost 7 year old wants to be a cashier at Target.

She is a little girl.
She is tough.

Here's the thing.
I truly agree with the premise of gender equality.
There are very few things that should be limited to one person or another based on their sex.

(Having babies and upright urination are among the few exceptions.)

As long as a person is capable of doing something….they should be allowed to do it.

My son played 4th grade tackle football this year.
(Uggh.  Scary sport for a mom.)
He was beyond appalled when he heard about another team with (gasp) a GIRL on it.

He came home sputtering and blubbering about what an AWFUL thing it was.
His brother was aghast when he heard about it too.

They came together to tell me about this HORRIBLE thing…fully expecting me to agree with them.


"Well," I asked, "Can she run pretty fast?"

"Yeah," said my younger son, "She went really far."

"Can she tackle?"

"Ummm….yeah.  She took a lot of people down.  She blocked a lot."

"When she got tackled did she cry and run away and say it wasn't fair?"

"Mom! No! It's football!"

"So….why shouldn't she play?"


After I pointed out that several boys on his team had cried about unfairness this week,
and several boys on his team didn't run too quickly,
and several boys on his team were afraid to tackle….
I shared my view with them.

Every job (or sport or team or position) has certain criteria.
If somebody meets that criteria….they should be able to fulfill that job.

Irregardless of gender, race, religion, physical disability or anything else that the discrimination act may throw out…..
If they can do it… it.

However…I also shared with my kids this side:
If they can't do it….they shouldn't do it.

People should not be put into positions or accepted onto teams or promoted into roles if they cannot or do not fulfill the criteria.
Irregardless of gender, race, religion, physical disability or anything else that the discrimination act may throw out.

At some point….that football-loving girl may not be able to run as fast as her team mates.
Or tackle them.
Or handle being tackled without severe bodily harm.

Then…she shouldn't be playing.

Because here's the deal (and yes…I'm done with my political-ish rant now):
God created boys and girls differently.

Not just the obvious differences….
But the ones that are deep inside and can't be easily seen.

The Bible describes women as "The weaker vessel."
It's true.
Like it or not….it's in there…1 Peter 3:7, in fact.

As a kid/young adult/middle-aged adult I have spent way too much time trying to prove this scripture wrong.  
It really gets got under my skin.
I have often gone out of my way to prove my strength….
And, in fact, am a pretty tough girl.

But….RH is still stronger.
If we did the same work out regiment for our whole life….
he would still be stronger.
Even if I did that psycho Cross Fit stuff he adores….I'm sure he would still be stronger.


The Bible also says that women were created as a help-mate to their husbands.  As a perfect complement to a male persona.

Men are instructed to protect and provide care for women.

When Mary found out she was to be the mom to Jesus the angel told her, "Blessed are you among women."  (Luke 1:28)
Among women.  Among all people, surely.
But among women especially.

You see….women are a different group than men.
Men make up a different group than women.

You can take away toy guns from a boy…
But he'll find some sticks or his fingers and make a weapon to protect people from "bad guys."

You can give a girl a toy truck instead of a doll….
But she'll wrap that truck up in a t-shirt and rock it as she sings.

Some girls love to:
Build with a hammer and nails….
Twirl and sing in the grass….
Play with dinosaurs….
Have a tea party with dinosaurs….
Play kick ball…
Skip rope….
Use glitter…
Drive race cars….
Wear tutu's everywhere….
Serve everyone….
Eat (real) mud pies…
Cuddle with their moms….

Insert the word "boy" in the section above and it works just fine too.

On the whole (and NOT always!)…gals are the nurturers.
The whole "maternal instinct" thing is just plain true.
Even when they're not mama's.

God made females that way.

So let a little girl use a jack hammer to smash up a bunch of rocks.
But….if she wants to take all the little pebbles she's created and name them and make a family of them and put them in a pink shoe-box home….let her do that too.

Carolyn like the video I showed her.
Who wouldn't like girls in tutus riding skateboards?

But when it was over,
And she was left looking at the "anti-girl stuff" slogan over her favorite aisle in the toy store…..
I had something to tell her.

You can be anything you want to be.
Don't let anyone EVER tell you can't do something JUST BECAUSE you're a girl.
And don't let anyone EVER tell you you SHOULD do something because you're a girl.

Be a doctor.
Be an engineer.
Be a stay-at-home mom.
Be a teacher.
Be a roofer.
Be a missionary.

God created you to be YOU.
If something makes you sad that doesn't make other kids sad….that's ok.
If something is interesting to you that other girls don't seem interested in…that's fine.

It's ok and good and wonderful to love glittery pink and purple dust pans.
It's ok and good and wonderful to love being a "mom" to your babies.
It's ok and good and WONDERFUL to enjoy the things God made you to enjoy.

Right now the world is telling you that you have to go out and compete like a boy.
Like a man, eventually.

Let me tell you my precious kid….
They're wrong.

Got out there and compete like YOU.
The wonderful girl God made.

If you want to do something?  Try it.
If you can do it?  Do it.
If you find out you don't really like it or it's not for you?
Find YOUR niche.

Because I promise….God made you a very special perfect niche.
Perfect for a tough tackling little glittery diva like you.

Be what you want.

And she looked at me wide-eyed.
And nodded.
And swallowed her waffles.

Then she got her glittery self into the car for school.

I never in a million years thought I'd be a stay-at-home mom with two degrees.
But I know I'm exactly where God wants me to be….and I find pure joy in that.

And if Carolyn decides that a career as a Target cashier is what she really wants?
Well…maybe I'll get a discount at the Starbuck's there.
They have cake-pops, you know.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Perspective From the Far Side...

This should be read.
By everyone.

Click the link…
Grab a coffee….
And start your mind a 'thinking.

Here's how lives change….

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

39 and Counting....

39 Thoughts on my Last Day of the Decade

1.  Always grant the "Just one more hug??" request.  Even the 11th time.
2.  When someone cuts you off in big and wave bigger.
3.  Take your contacts out every night.  Seriously.  Every night.
4.  One cupcake is always worth it.
5.  Two cupcakes are not.
6.  Separating your whites and darks is really a waste of time.  The clothes will wear out before they fade too much anyway.
7.  Turn your phone to silent and shut your laptop when you come home in the evening.  As long as your spouse and kids are at home....there's nothing that can't wait until after they go to bed.
8.  Wearing lip gloss when it's windy will never be good idea.
9.  Go ahead and make that call you have been putting off making.  You won't regret it.  I promise.
10.  Dance to crazy loud music in your car.  Your younger kids will love it... and you will love your spouse and teenagers cringing with abject shame.
11.  Smell the roses.  Literally.  It makes you slow down, breathe deeply, and relax a bit.
12.  Always Always Always smell the milk before you pour it over cereal.  Always.
13.  Take pictures of "normal moments".  Someday you will look back and realize that those were the most precious memories of all.
14.  When in doubt, send a thank-you note.
15.  After a shower get as ready as you can before attending to your hair.  Then it won't be as wet and will take less time to dry.
16.  If you forget someone's name,  just go ahead and apologize and ask them again.
17.  If you forget someone's name a second time....fake it.
18.  Make time for coffee with a friend.  MAKE it happen.  It's an investment that is totally worth it.
19.  Ink cartridges and staplers never run out at convenient times.  Just go ahead and replace them as soon as you know they're low.
20.  Cold soggy french fries are simply not worth the calories.  Put. Them. Down.
21.  Genuinely apologizing to your kids can leave a bigger impression then your bad behavior did in the first place.
22.  The cookie dough is simply better than the baked cookie.  Admit it.  Deal with it.  And eat it.
23.  Even when you don't feel like it at all....go ahead and exercise.  You will be happier.
24.  However...if you have to choose between being there for a friend and working out...choose the friend.  You will be happier.
25.  Actual tangible mail that arrives in a physical mailbox really makes people happy.  Send a real card.
26.  If you don't take time with God first thing in the morning...the rest of your day will go crazy and it will be very difficult to find time later.
27.  When you take kids out for ice cream--go ahead and get some for yourself.  You don't have to eat it all...but you need to participate in the activity.
28.  Doritos and fluffer-nutter sandwiches are still as good as you remember them being when you were young.  Bubblicious gum is not.
29.  When someone asks you for advice....take a moment before answering.  Chances are-that first response that popped into your head should stay in your head.
30.  Teaching your kids to clean a toilet is one of the greatest gifts you can give their future spouses.
31.  Gift bags are convenient...but there is something truly special about wrapping paper.
32.  Generic brand lemon juice is fine.  Generic brand toilet paper and cream cheese aren't.
33.  Sometimes things that interrupt a finely tuned schedule are actually beautiful opportunities from God.  Don't miss them.
34.  Always have your coffee maker ready to turn on.
35.  The music you have playing in your car WILL enter your kids' (and your own) minds and hearts. This can be a curse and a blessing.  Play wisely.
36.  If you're feeling sad...find someone who needs help and help them.  You'll both feel better.
37.  Pre-made chocolate milk out of a bottle tastes better than white milk mixed with chocolate syrup.
38.  You really truly might be the only "Bible" others ever read.  Think about what you're representing.
39.  Sometimes individual days stretch out for weeks....but time, overall, moves very very very quickly.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lower Your Net!

Some days I feel so redundant.
No....that wasn't a type-o...
I meant to put "I".

I feel redundant.
Not needed.
An extra person just taking up space.

My kids get everything done without me
(Cue heavenly angelic chorus)....
My husband has all the answers...
Someone invites us for dinner
(so I don't have to cook!)
and what they prepare is 40 thousand times better than what I can do....

And even though these above things may seem like a dream world
(in fact....they are!)
Sometimes I simply feel like I have nothing good to offer anyone.

This isn't a "I feel sorry for myself" kind of thing....
It's more of a "Why am I even around and bothering?" type of issue.

Have you ever felt like that?

You go to sign up for something and are told that it's been taken care of already.
You spend all day making a "here's how we're going to productively get our lives on track after school" plan and the kids end up going home with their friends/grandparents.
You finally offer to help someone with something and find out that other people have already stepped in.

Are you really all that needed?
Do you really have something to bring to the proverbial table?
Is it really worth bothering?

It is.

You have a gift.
I'm not talking about some sparkly present with a glittery bow...

But a talent.
An ability.
A God given strength.

God says,
Do not neglect the gift that is in you.
1 Timothy 4:14

In you.
It is IN you.

God put it there when he knitted you together cell by cell back in your mother's womb.

YOU have a very special gift.

Find it.
Discover it.
Nurture it.

Neglect means: to give little attention or respect to, to disregard.  To leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness.

So we have to regard this talent.
Attend to this gift.
Respect this ability.

My pastor included a quote in our Bible study from a guy named John Courson.
He stated;

Each us has been given gifts by the Spirit.  But here's the problem:  We spend far too much time trying to strengthen our weaknesses--only to find that in so doing, we weaken our strengths!  Go where you're strong.  If you are gifted as a worship leader, then lead worship.  If you're gifted with kids, plug into children's ministry.  If you're gifted in one-on-one situations, don't try to preach before thousands.  Go with your strength, gang.  Whatever God has called you to do, go for it with intensity and tenacity.

So maybe I'm not a fabulous cook.
Or I don't "go with the flow" on a busy after school day.
Perhaps I'm really not as good as I think I am with organizing life!

So what?
Stop trying to strengthen the weaknesses!
Do the best that can be done...
and then use the abilities God has given you.

The ability He has given me.

What is my special gift?

Not sure.
But I don't want to neglect it....
So I'm going to find it....
And see what God wants me to do with it.

It's findable, I think.
It's IN me....and surely I can search my own darn self.

Isn't it easier to see others gifts and talents sometimes though???
I can look at people and tell you,
"She's an awesome photographer!"
"He is such a great writer!"
"That lady is a fabulous teacher!"
"This guy is a phenomenal physician!"'s often not too hard to find all of the amazing abilities God has given the people around us.

But we need to Look Inward, as Jedi Master Yoda (I think??) said.

Lower your net into the water and allow God to help you discover your calling.
Let Him reveal your gifts.

We all have a gift.
The Bible tells us so!

So quit neglecting it.
Be grateful for it.
Use it.
Stir it up....commit it to God....and


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Break That Chain....

Yesterday I made a big fat mistake.

I should have known better.

In fact...I DID know better.

I just somehow forgot what I knew.

I was reading a verse I really love that says:

"And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, know that tribulation produces perseverance (sometimes translated as "patience") and patience produces character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:3-5

Great verse, by the way.
And upon reading this verse I thought of ALL the ways I have been showing how much I lack patience.

(And you KNEW this was coming....)
I asked God to help me with patience.

Bad idea.
Good thing to want....but bad idea.

Because in order for me to learn patience....
Well....look at the verse.
What produces patience?

(Give you a hint....the answer is not "a calm peaceful rainbow-y kind of day".)

And so.
To sum it up?

The kids woke up and the morning went to pot.

They whined...I yelled.
They crept like snails...I barked orders.
They picked on each other...I snapped.
They spilled stuff...I fumed.
They ignored me....I got louder.
They got upset....I did too.

That bad boy didn't even get one foot in the window.

On the sullen quiet snuffling ride to school I took a few deep breaths.
I knew what I had done....
And I felt awful.

Sure....they need some discipline.
In fact they need discipline, manners, stop watches, referees, groomers and an occasional drop-kick,

But they are really good kids.


Kids who are learning how to be responsible God-loving adults...
And who unfortunately have psycho mom as their example.

So I did what I must sadly too often do...

I apologized.
I told them I shouldn't have lost my temper and raised my voice.
I asked their forgiveness and told them how very much I love them...
and tried to change the focus to other things they were going to do that day.

We got to school without further incidents and they climbed out of the car smiling and shouting (or whispering for those in 4th grade and above) "I love you's!" and moseyed on in to class.

And I pulled away with tears in my eyes because I felt like the biggest jerk in the world.

What had I done?

God gave me these three little people...AS A GIFT!
Three precious beautiful souls.
Children I was supposed to teach about God's love....

I am so unworthy of these gifts.
I am truly a lousy mom.
I am the WORST example to them.

That's what I sat thinking in my car.

These kids deserve so much more than I can give them in terms of leadership, love, and calmness.

Maybe they'd be better off if I went back to work and hired a cool nanny who was a cross between Mary Poppins and Jessie from Nickelodeon.

But then I remembered what I had told my son a few days before.

He had requested for me to do something, and when I told him "no" he came back with his typical 9 year old response (which is actually the typical response for all my kids because they adore their aunt and cousins),
"But Aunt Kim lets the cousins do it!"

And I retorted with my standard reply,
"Aunt Kim is much cooler than I am.
And sorry kid....but for some reason, God picked me to be your mom."

That was it.
That IS it.

God PICKED me to be their mom.
He picked me.
He chose me.
He selected me to be the one to raise these beautiful souls.

I truly have no earthly idea.
I suck at it much of the time.

But...God knows what is going on.

He knew...
even before ever creating my great great great a gazillion times great grandfather...
that I would come along with my short temper and desire for order and perfection.
He knew how I would react to whining and "accidental" elbow bumping.
He knew what noises would make my left eyelid twitch....and He still chose to give me these children.

"For I have chosen her, that she may command her children and her household after her to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has promised him."
Genesis 18:19 (underline/emphasis mine)

God knew.
He knows.
And God simply does NOT make mistakes.

I mess up with my kids.
Some days more than others.
That is a sad true undeniable fact.

But...God knew that before He gave them to me.

I have to remember....that He knows best.

I can't berate myself...yell at myself....make myself feel even lower than I already do about the mistakes I make with my kids.

I have to break that chain...
Remember that I need and have God's help...
And just buck up and try again.

Does God want me to snap at my kids?
To lose patience and get angry and frustrated?
To raise my voice when things don't go smoothly?

Big fat NO to that.

I need to be a godly example to them....
And that includes the areas of patience, tolerance, self-control....
AND following God's word.

God's word which says, 
Despite my MANY inaptitudes...
I am chosen to be a mom.

I have to break the chain of self criticism that I wrap around myself when it comes to mothering.
Funny....(or not!) but I ran across a Cool Blog today that showed me how many moms struggle with this.

Apparently there are a lot of us.

We're not all great moms.
I'm nowhere near great most of the time.

But....I am enough....because I am chosen.

No matter how badly I mess up...
I can turn it around.
I can realize,
and try again.

According to God.....I'm still the right girl for the job.

Will my kids hate me at some point for what I do to them?
Probably they will....that's why I'm saving for their therapy now!

But even when they yell at me and tell me that I'm personally ruining their life...
I don't have to feel trapped by the fact that I'm awful and they should have another better mom.

By knowing that God chose ME....
I can break that rusty rough chain that has bound me to the idea that I am not good enough for the job.

God chose me to be the mom.
And I'm sticking with it.
Because God knows what He's doing....even when I don't!

He'll help me with these little critters.....
I just have to remember to ask Him BEFORE I become Unglued.

And while I am truly and honestly grateful to have an opportunity to learn patience....
I think I won't specifically ask for that again for a while.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


My six year old LOVES to help.
Loves it.

(Except when I ask her to help clean her room or pick up the dog "souvenirs" from the backyard. 
When I make those requests she always seems to be suddenly deathly ill or otherwise occupied. 
Go figure.)

She wants to help me
start the dishwasher,
drive the car,
push the shopping cart,
saute loudly popping things on the stove,
put on eyeliner,
wash the dog,
put groceries on the check-out belt,
cut my toenails,
and on
and on
and on.

According to parenting books I should encourage this behavior....and for the most part, I do.
I think it's great to have someone who really wants to help me...
And I know that if I "train her" now, then when she's older she will be a huge help.

I would guess that I am not a parenting book author's favorite person.
There are some things I simply say "no" to.

The stove thing isn't so safe,
My eyesight is too necessary to have an eyeliner shoved into my retina,
And I have had my foot mutilated by TOO MANY shopping carts to allow "helping" with that one.

For the most part though ...she is my tag-along-assistant-extrordinaire.

And I don't think her esteem has been too damaged by my "no's"...
Because she keeps on asking to help.
(A lot.)

But here's the thing....
She's happy when she helps me....
But she is THRILLED when I ASK her to help.

And if it is a job where she can tell she has been truly and honestly needed?

She is down-right over-the-moon giddily ecstatic.

She will get this look of joyous amazement like..
Wow...I was really useful!

I mean after all,
Doesn't everyone like to feel that way?

When you get your paycheck at the end of a long week,
It's good to be able to take care of your bills...
But it's also nice to know you were useful to your customers.

When you can answer a question on some obscure subject and save someone a ton of research
(or a quick trip to google-land)
It feels good to know you can be useful to them.

When someone tells you that they, "Couldn't have done it without you!"
It's a great feeling to know that your knowledge and/or skills were usable.

What's really cool to me though,
Is when I don't think I am usable...
And I am chosen anyway...
And somehow,
I become an asset.

Last month the kids and I went to Moore, Oklahoma to deliver some thank-you goodies to all of the volunteers helping around the town.

We knew that our city needed those volunteers desperately when we had our storm 2 years ago....and we wanted those people to know how appreciated they were.

Bunches of amazing friends and neighbors baked and brought over  DELICIOUS treats for us to deliver for them.

One special lady brought yummy muffins and a huge tupperware container full of....
Stuffed animals?

She explained to me that her children had put some "comfort kits" together.
Each one consisted of:
a new stuffed animal,
a toothbrush,
and a pair of cuddly PJ's.

Originally her kids (ages 13 and 10!!!) had a vision of these kits being given to children abruptly entering the foster system so they would have something of their own.
(How awesome is that!?!?!)

But when their mom explained why she was baking muffins, they asked if they could send some of these bundles with her because there might be kids in Moore who would need them.

Once I wiped my eyes enough to see
I promised the mom that I would do my very best
to put these precious gifts in the hands that needed them most.

So....we went to Moore.
FYI....not a bunch of kids around a disaster zone.

We met a woman who's grandkids had lost everything and she happily-tearfully took a few bundles to give them...but that was it.

By lunch we had passed out almost all of the baked goods....but still had the huge bin of "comfort kits" in the back of my car.

After we had eaten the kids and I discussed HOW we were supposed to find people to give these things to!!

We didn't know our way around the town and had NO idea where to find specific groups of people.
We gave up.
On ourselves, that is.

We realized that God was going to have to do some serious rein-grabbing and steer us to the right people or place.

We bowed our heads in Qdoba and prayed,
"Father God,
Thank you for letting us come here today.
Thank you for all of the people back in Joplin who want to help this town.
Please us what to do with these bundles.
Give us a divine appointment with whomever really needs them.
Guide us to where you want us to be...
Show us where to go and what to do...
And thanks for being with us."

Then we loaded in the car and drove back to the site where Plaza Elementary School used to stand.
A chain-link fence encircled the area, and people milled around putting mementos on the fence and just looking and talking.

We pulled up to the curb and parked, and I said,
"Thanks, God!"
"We understand, God!"
"I am faithful to follow Your leading, God!"
"Now what???"

I saw a man with three younger kids standing by the fence.
I was out of the car before I realized it (left the door open in fact)
and walking toward him with my kids scrambling after us.

"Excuse me, Sir?" I asked.


"Are these your kids?"


(What?  Dang.  Dang.)

"Well...sort of.  They're students of mine.  I am a teacher....used to teach here in fact.  Those guys were students here.  So many of them lost so much...."

(And here he teared up and couldn't go on.  He later told me that he hadn't cried in days....and he wasn't sure why he suddenly did.)

"Ummm....this might sound strange....but....
I think you're the person we've been praying to meet."

I certainly received an interesting look...but when I went on to explain what we had and what we'd been praying for....he started smiling.
And crying.
And smiling.

He told us that he was going to a meeting
at a church that would serve as a temporary school next year.

And at that meeting would be many of the kids and families who had been "displaced."
In other was a gathering of families who had lost their homes and weren't sure what to do about the upcoming school year.
The teachers and administration were going to discuss options and try to learn the families' needs
AND give them some uplifting hope.

These "comfort kits"??

You bet your sweet doozy they would be well used and received there!!

So we transferred the big Tupperware container into his car and I gave the last pan of brownies to a volunteer group from Alabama that was riding around with this teacher.

We got to see where school would be held that year,
And met some truly wonderful people.

And when we piled back in the car I turned to the kids and said,


And one of them asked,
"Do you think God let us meet that man?"

"Duh!" said the sensitive other sibling,
"Why do you think He put that guy there right after we prayed?  And why do you think we had all of these animals in the car anyway?"

After gently removing the offended sibling's vice grip from around the "duh" sibling's arm, I sat back in my seat.

Well.....God saw fit to use us.
To use me.

Even in my dirty cracked dented and dinged state....
He allowed me the unbelievable privilege of being a courier.

Of being the transportation that delivered some children's beautiful gifts
into the hands of someone who would put them
just where God wanted them to go.

God knew that there were certain little souls who would benefit from the packages that people in Joplin had put together.

He could have just made care packages appear outside these kids' doors.
He could have convinced the makers of the care kits to go to Oklahoma themselves.
He could have hinted at the teacher to make some comfort bundles himself!

But no.
He let me in on it.

And He let me be useful.
And He let me feel needed.
And in that....He made me feel loved.

And I stand amazed.
Humbly amazed.

when my daughter is helping me...
If she feels even an inkling
of this amazement...
this wonderful feeling of being useful to someone who does not actually need help but is using you to show you how loved you are.....

Then she can totally clean toilets with me anytime.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Opportunity is A-knockin'....

I read a news story recently about a waitress who received an amazing surprise.
One of her regular customers left her some crazy big tip....
Crazy big like over $400 on a 6 dollar tab.

The patron said she did it because the waitress had always been.....
Just plain nice.

The waitress was completely floored and tried to not accept the money,
but the woman insisted.

Apparently the customer had been coming to this restaurant for years and this waitress had always taken special good care of her.

The waitress (like many people in the service industry) probably tried to be friendly to many people.
That's how the wait-staff makes a living, after all.
Tips for a job well done.

Apparently this waitress had gone above and beyond many times.

Did she do that for a tip?
I don't honestly know....but in my happy smiley bubble I would like to think not.
I'd like to think that she just enjoyed making people feel good...
That serving other people was just how she like to live her life.

Or maybe she did it solely for gratuities.

Either way....she did her job well and was recognized for it.

And that's a nice thing.

I know that I appreciate being appreciated.
I think most of us do.

And that "appreciation" can come in all kinds of forms:
...a paycheck award
...a thank-you note
...a bonus
...a referral
...a special favor
...concretes delivered from Shake's

...all things that acknowledge that you have done something that the "receiver" feels grateful for.

There are so many things we do for other people because...
because we have to.

Maybe it's because it's our the waitress.
Maybe it's because it's our volunteering at school or church.
Maybe it's because it's for our family.
Maybe it's just things that holding the door open for someone with full arms.

Those are all things we do every day because it's just plain LIFE.

What I have on my mind are the other types of things.
The ones that inconvenience us....
Stretch us....
Make us go beyond the boundaries of regular service...
Mess with our plans.

If someone asks you to watch their 4 kids for an afternoon...
or take them to the doctor/store/Austin, Texas....
or water their plants while they're out of town...
or teach them to bake a cake....
or anything else that requires a commitment of time and makes us switch our lives around in big or small ways.

Those kinds of things.

I have an aunt who, when her kids were little, belonged to a babysitting "co-op".

The purpose of this group was to provide childcare for each other's kids.
They had tickets...and would exchange them per kid per hour of child care so that no one would feel taken advantage of and everyone would have fair time of care vs. freedom.

(Neat idea, by the way. Wish I'd lived in her neighborhood!)

Occasionally, as a favor, one of the moms would let the kids stay an extra hour or so.
BUT...that had to be returned by the "free" mom later.

When a favor was done...a favor was expected in return.

How many times have a heard my own kids say to their siblings,

"Will you please please please let me use this amazingly-precious-object-that-I-never-cared-about-until-I-saw-you-playing-with-it??
I PROMISE I will pay you back and let you use my equally-as-junky-precious-thingy???????"

Favors require repayment.

The Bible even says it with:
"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt."
Romans 4: 4

Work, or a "favor",  leaves a debt that must be paid.
It's not done just to be nice....but with the anticipation that something will be given at some point in return.

It might not be  fairly obvious "wages" such as a paycheck or next-night babysitting.
It might simply be knowing that you have someone indebted to you....and that if you need something you can call on them to provide it.


On the flip side....

One day not long after the tornado I was standing outside the remnants of my kitchen trying to decide if it was a smart idea to retrieve all my beloved cookbooks from the one remaining saggy baggy cupboard.

A police car (from somewhere in Kansas???) showed up and two officers walked through the drizzly rain to ask me what I was doing.

I explained my random dilemma...and without a second's pause the guys grabbed someone's giant plastic flower pot,
climbed over a tree and a grill,
went through a shattered window,
filled the pot with wet moldy cookbooks
and carried it to the back of my car.

In tears and shock I thanked them and thanked them.

And you know what they did?

They thanked me.

They said they had been hoping and looking for an opportunity to help someone....
And they were really grateful I had let them do it.

They they drove off on their shiny white horse back to Kansas.

These sweet men had been searching for an opportunity to serve.
They felt grateful that they had been able to help.

They didn't want any kind of repayment....
They were happy to be a blessing to me...
And they,
in turn,
felt grateful and blessed.

They were appreciative for the opportunity.
They weren't looking for appreciation.

They weren't working for wages....but for grace.

Almost every day I  ask God to show me how I can serve Him.
And almost every day oh-so-inconvenient needs show up around me.

My daughter's teacher asks me to make copies for her as I'm rushing to make a coffee date.
I'll do it
But am I just happy to be a blessing?
Or do I think that she will be appreciative to me and be nicer to my kiddo?

God ALWAYS give me chances to serve.
Opportunities to bless.
Instances where I can help one of His babies.

I don't have to go across the globe or move mountains....
There are openings all around me.

Do I look at them as favors?
Or opportunities?

Do I require wages?
Or will it be counted as grace?

You know what I've found?
When I get off my cushy little high horse and realize that God is giving me a chance to be of use to Him...
When I do the task with the pure joy that comes from truly serving...
I usually end up a heck of a lot more blessed than whomever I am "serving."

Bonus with purchase.

Favor vs Opportunity.
One entitles you to repayment...
The other is a two-way service.

I mean after all...
I'm pretty much of the opinion that God's given me everything I have....including time.
So how can I claim it as my own and only grudgingly parcel it out when it's advantageous to me?

I will try to see opportunities instead of inconveniences.
I will try to work for grace instead of debt.
I will enjoy and appreciate the joy that comes from serving.

But...I will not say no if someone sends me a wedding cake concrete.
I believe those are gifts from heaven, too.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I'll Take a Diet Coke Please....

When my kids get a coke
(which is a southern generic term for ANY type of carbonated beverage...)
at a "serve yourself fountain drink" kind of place
they like to fill their cups with a little bit of each available drink.

They call it a "suicide."

--side note....
I tried to convince them to call it a "kamikaze" because that's what I called it as a kid and it doesn't sound so bad to me.  Then my eldest pointed out that "kamikazes" kill more people than "suicides' I gave up.

I did that as a kid.
Fun times, fun times.

Well, the other day we were sitting at lunch.

I picked up my cup to take a sip of my Diet Coke...
and just about spit a mouthful of NASTINESS across the table.

I had grabbed my kids cup instead.


After my precious offspring stopped laughing,
he asked me if I really thought it tasted that bad.

Upon consideration....I told him it most certainly did taste bad,
but probably not bad enough to warrant the spitting reaction.

Thing was....I had expected a Diet Coke taste.
Thing was....I got a weird lemony peppery funky orangey taste.

It wasn't my favorite...but it was deal-with-able.
It just wasn't what I was expecting.

Had I known I was going to get a "new taste sensation"
I would have been anticipating it.

But I wasn't.
It was a minor shocker.

If perhaps the lid had been off of the cup and I could have seen the strange orange tint of the drink...
....then I might have realized it wasn't MY drink before I took a gulp.

If you have a little opaque cardboard cup sitting in front of you...
the easiest way to figure out what's in there
(other than chugging it)
is to figure out a way to see the contents. see the overflow of the contents.

When some of the liquid pours out
(on the table or into your mouth)
then you can identify the drink.

Yesterday I was in the middle of paying bills.
I was really focused on trying to figure out some numbers when my 9 year old came up to ask me a random strange innocent question about atoms.
I answered the best I could,
but apparently it wasn't good enough because he kept asking related questions.

I finally said (not yelled, but said quite firmly),

"Ethan!  I said I didn't know.  I have no idea whether protons or neutrons are bigger.  You'll have to call your grandfather.  Now please let me finish this!"

Later, after I was done, I found my son sitting quietly in his room.
His eyes were watery and he wouldn't look at me.

"What's wrong, bud?"

"You're mad at me."

"What??  No I'm not!  Why would you think that?"

"Because you yelled at me.  You told me to go away.  You wanted me to talk to someone else instead of you."


I sat down with my arm around him and tried to explain to him that I had just been concentrating on my little job.
That I truly didn't know the answers to his questions....and that I thought it would be a fun conversation for him to have with his grandfather.
That I loved him and I loved his curious mind AND its' questions.

He looked at me and said,
"That's not how you sounded."



He was right.

In my heart I adore my son.
Beyond adore.
Cherish, love, need, crave, LOVE love LoVe love. many amazing talents as my kiddo has...
Reading minds (or hearts) isn't one of them.

The only window Ethan has to my heart....
is what comes out of my mouth.

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  
Matthew 12:3

The overflow of what's in my heart trickles out of my mouth.

If someone wants to know how I feel about them...
They will pay attention to how I speak TO them.

How many times have I had a disagreement with someone...
A misunderstanding of sorts....
Only for that person (or me!) to say,
"But that's not what I meant!"

It's possibly and probably NOT what was meant...
But it's what was heard.
It's what came out.

Who can look inside a person and read their heart?
Nobody I know.

Say I hand you a styrofoam "to-go" cup...
And as you're reaching for it boiling hot coffee sloshes over the top and all over your hand.

Then, while you nurse your scalded fingers,
I tell you that it was a crazy one-time weird occurrence.
That it couldn't ever happen again because the cup is actually filled with cold milk.
And I try to convince you to take the cup again.

Chances would tell me I was out of my ever-loving-mind and not trust me with being your beverage distributor for a long long time.

So too with what comes out of my mouth.
How can I
... profess to love someone and speak nastily to them?
...claim to love God when horrid mean things spill out of my mouth?
...tell someone I support them and constantly criticize them?

No one can see my heart.
They can only guess at its contents from observing my actions and words.

I pray daily for God to dwell with me.
For the Holy Spirit to be evident in me.
To open my eyes to the people He is putting in my path that He wants me to speak with....or help.

How will those people
(strangers, parents of kids' classmates, friends, checkers at Walmart, cousins, people at the gym, drivers who are mad at me and giving me interesting hand gestures,)
know that I am full of God's love?

They will know by what I do and say.

Matthew also says:
A good man out of the good treasures of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."
Matthew 12:35

In order to be able to say and do good things.....I need some good treasure buried inside of me.

Because....I am clumsy.
What I mean is...I trip and stumble a lot.
And when I do....I want whatever "sloshes over" the top of my cup
To be good things.

When I run into bumps
(which happens every now and always)...
When I am squeezed by life
(which occurs on a daily hourly minutely basis)....
When the state of my heart overflows so that the world can see

I want my words and actions to show
that my heart-shaped cup is full of God's love.

So I will work on acquiring good "treasure."

I will try to fill myself with.....
I will ask God to fill me.
With His presence.
With His strength.
With His peace that passes all understanding.

And then,
I hope,
my actions will be good
and my words gentle and pure.

I may not ever know whether protons are bigger than neutrons....
But I have a dad who does...
And would enjoy teaching his grandson about it.

I have a Father who MADE neutrons.
And He can see inside of cups.
And He can make sure that my cup is full of exactly what I need.

Diet Coke...
Wedding cake concretes...
But not kamikazes.
Ever, please.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Palms Up....

"Put the ipod down."

Familiar refrain between my 9 year old and myself lately.

"Time's up.  Give me the gadget."

And he does.
Ever so slowly.
Making sure to move in sloooooow moooootion.

He hands it toward me....
And pulls it back.

"I just want to log-out."

He moves it in my direction again....
And pulls it back.

"I just need to make sure I set my alarm."

The ipod comes toward me....
And he pulls it back.

"What time did it say again?"

And again.
And again.
And again.
Until I grab the bloody thing and wrest it away from his sweaty over tech-ized hands gently remove it from his grip myself.

Kid likes his gadget.
Kid likes to be in charge of how much time he gets with said gadget.
Kid likes to retain control of things.

I get it.

Do I get it.

There might possibly maybe potentially be a bit of a familial control issue here.

When I was struggling to regain a semblance of footing in my life following the tornado,
I realized that a huge part of my problem was
(as sad as this sounds and all kidding aside)
that my calendar had been blown to a neighboring town.

(Actually....I found a few pages of it.  May and August, I think)

I was sure that once I had all of my "life" written down on a new calendar then
my memory would return and
my orderliness would return and
my organization would return and
some normalcy would return.

My mom found me some random calendar she'd received from some random real estate company and I
flat went to it.

I called people to find out birthdays and anniversaries...
I recorded kid activities....
I penciled and penned in appointments....
I filled as many of those little squares as I could.

It helped.

For a few days.

Then I accidentally buried it under mounds of insurance papers and couldn't find it for a week and realized that chaos was apparently going to reign for a while yet.

Point being....
I wanted to be back in control.

I wanted to be in charge.

I LIKE that.

Now I don't necessarily want to RUN every event my family is a part of....
But I DO prefer knowing the details of the event and
where we are supposed to be
at what time
and what our responsibilities entail
and who is riding with who to get there.

I like order.

I like definite.

It's true.

In this season of my life,
I try to make some sort of plan in my head for how things are going to go.

It usually not how I want them to go for my personal pleasure...
It's more like: how-they-should-go-so-that-the-other-4-people-in-my-life-can-all-do-what-they-want-and-get-where-they-need-to-be-to-keep-everyone-happy-and-punctual-and-fulfilled.

I'm a logistical orderly people pleasing planning psycho.
(Put that on a resume´!)

When situations arise that thwart my plans....
I stress.
I stew.
I get irritated.
I snap.

And that snapping thing?
It never really helps.

My 13 year old has started making his own plans on his own phone.
That's how it should be.
(Granted....since I'm the driver and custodian...I should probably be made aware of these plans before they're confirmed....but it's good he's taking initiative like that.)

I've found myself gritting my teeth today when he told me he made plans with his grandfather.

I love him spending time with his grandfather....don't get me wrong.

It's just that....
I had already made a plan for the day.

And it included my eldest.
And now he's not going.
And he's doing something he likes better.
And it's an awesome opportunity for him.
And it won't really affect the other two if he's not there....
But it wasn't how I pictured it.

And I don't know when they are going and when they'll return and where I should be and how I will meet up with them...and I don't like not having knowledge of the details.

My control....slipped down a cell phone shaped drain.

This control-desire is in other areas of my life, too.

I have people in my life whom I love very very much.

They don't have much of a relationship with God.
They certainly don't believe that Jesus loves them.
They don't really even believe that Jesus is God's son.

This eats eats eats at me.
Not so much because I can't convince them....
But because I see so many of them struggling with the idea.

And they are good people.
Really good.
And they do so so so much for others.
They sacrificially love people.

And I know that God said good works is nothing without faith....
And I know that He loves them even more than me...
And I know He's given each person free will to make choices...
And I want God to crack open their hardened hearts with a big giant sledge hammer and rip the blinders from their eyes and let them see the truth.

I am apparently not in charge of those situations either.

Sometimes I find myself irritated.

It's hard for me to pray sometimes.
Or read my Bible more deeply than looking at the ink.

I feel distanced from God....
and it's hard to find my way closer.

And I have begun to realize that my desire.....
my need...
for control is a big part of the problem.

When "life" changes my carefully laid plans....
 I don't look at the interruptions as "blessings"...but as hurdles.

Because I didn't plan them?

When I think about "my people" who don't know God and won't experience life forever with Him...
I accept, but I don't really comprehend.
Or maybe I am just too sad.
And because it's so hard to understand....I push away.

And while I know that these two situations are WAY different in many ways....
I have also realized that they have similar roots.

I can't understand.
I can't control.
I can't.

These are the facts.
I simply simply can't.

And sometimes, when I honestly realize that truth...
I mean TRULY accept it....
There's some peace.

Sound contradictory?
A little weird?
Yeah.  I know.

Here's the deal.
I know that God is big.
Really big.
And He knows everything.
Every. Thing.
He knows the big picture.
If I knew what He knows....then I would understand and agree that all the things that happen are really ok.
That, in the end, all these things will bring glory to Him.

I certainly do NOT understand how.
I confess...I have moments I doubt how it can happen.

But....I believe it will.

1 Corinthians 2:16 says:
For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?

If I could understand everything about God....then would He really be big and amazing and wonderful enough for me to worship?

Isaiah 55:8-9 reads:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways...For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

If I always knew what was best for myself (and all the people in my life)....and I knew the perfect paths for all people to follow, then what would I need God for anyway?

So....I give Him control.

And there is peace in that.

But....I tend to snatch that pretty parcel of control back up.

Then I give it back.

Then I grab it again.

And again.
And again.
And even again.

I simply have to open my hands,
Hold them out with my palms up,
And ask Him to take away my control.

Take this day, God.
Use it for Your own.
Let me embrace and be thankful for opportunities that arise.
Help me find the appointments You have made for me.
Remind me again and again that Your ways are not always the ones I would choose.
Thank you for saving me from my wrong choices.
Thank you for being so much bigger and wiser and kinder than I can imagine.
Let me remember that You are directing my paths....
And help me not fight against that direction.
Remind me that the details are not usually salvational.
Show me Your way...
And help me keep my hands wide open,
Palms upward,
Letting go of my attempts at control
And giving them to You.
Let my open hands receive the gift of peace You have for me....
And hold on to that tightly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beautiful Disasters....

There are many
different levels of disasters.

My daughter's room after a 12 minute play-date:

My teenager's closet after he "organizes" his room:

My RH's bedside table (which is piled so high with junk important stuff that it's continually toppling over in the middle of the night LOUDLY):

Really...I've found that I use that word kinda often.

The state of my garage,
An attempt to make banana bread in a convection oven,
The basement after a ping pong tournament,
The kitchen table after six kids devoured cupcakes,
The idea of doing "summer math",
RH's dog's encounter with a skunk,
Shake's being out of wedding cake for my concrete.....

All things I've labeled "disasters."

But seriously?

Minor inconveniences, really.
Many of them are even kind of humorous.
(But not the Shake's one.  Not at all.)

Real disasters.....
Those are different.

A tornado ripping through your town?
Pretty disastrous.

A tornado taking away someone you love?
Even way way worse.

Disasaters are relative....
and there is always something worse.

My family and I saw our town turn into a disaster area a little over two years ago.
'Ol Obama himself came and declared us an official disaster zone.

We walked over it.
We climbed on it.
We smelled it.
We lived in it.

It was hard...
And sometimes kind of scary.
But after a while we became somewhat....
Accustomed to it?
Used to it?
Pretty blasé about it?

You almost have to, sometimes.

Then a year later we were in Indiana a few weeks after some horrible tornadoes had ripped through several communities.

The damage was no where as wide spread as Joplin....but it was pretty nasty.

I was worried about how the kids would react to seeing the damage around us.
Would they have flashbacks?
Would it be scary to them?
Would it bring back memories they'd worked to overcome?

We pulled into town and came up to some of the more damaged areas and turned off the kids' (mind-numbing keep-'em-quiet for the trip) movie and told them to look.
They did.
And kind of shrugged their shoulders.
"Looks like Joplin.  Not as bad.  Where are the people we can help?"

Ok then.
Have they become numb to disasters?
Are they compartmentalizing?
Have they run out empathy?

Fast forward to Hurricane Sandy.

I have family on Long Island.
They had to evacuate and we kept in close contact with them.
When the ocean met the bay over their home....we tried to convince them to come to Missouri.
("Forget it! Too many tornadoes there!" )

My kids were worried about their relatives....
But didn't seem too shocked by the pictures of the damage.

When we went to New York this summer and saw a boat still in someone's front yard they thought it was interesting.

We were in Moore, Oklahoma this summer where the damage is still quite fresh.
I believe that it's an official disaster as well....thank you Mr. Obama.

Again....the kids were relatively unimpressed with the rubble fields previously known as homes around them.
Again....they kept their eyes peeled for people we could make contact with.
People who wanted to tell their stories.
People who wanted to be heard.
People who wanted cookies.

That afternoon we went to the Memorial Museum for the Okalhoma City Bombing.


(Side note:  That might be the most impressive and heart-wrenching place I've been to.
Beautifully done.
Impossible not to be touched deeply.)

Lots of pictures and examples of the debris.
Lots of survivor stories.
Lots of tributes to those who were lost.

As I walked around I noticed that my kids were drawn to the pictures of rescuers.
They seemed most interested in the stories of the people who came to help.
They loved seeing a wall of T-shirts with all of the places on them that people had come from to help.

I realize my kids have been exposed
(purposely in some cases)
to many "disaster areas".

I've had people question my reasoning and parenting in allowing them to see these things.

Here's the deal.
I did NOT choose to expose them to their first "big disaster."
But it happened.
And they saw. they kept seeing....
Their focus became directed toward the "helpers."

to how they could help.

Apparently the legendary Mr. Roger's had a quote he used when disasters were unfolding:
"Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping."

My kids have not seen Mr. Rogers.
I'm relatively certain they have no idea who he is.

Kids (and people) WANT to find the good.
They WANT to find the helpers.

They naturally search for the good....the Godly....the pure the midst of disasters.

Even when I find myself tearfully aghast at someone's story....
I have a kid tugging on my sleeves and smiling and waving at volunteers walking toward us.

They look for the good
Because they know there IS good.

Have I done something to teach them this?

They just haven"t (perhaps)
Grown up enough to become negatively focused.

Where I might see shattered dreams....
They see cool youth groups coming to help clear someone's lot.

Where I might fixate on the "could have been so bad"'s.....
They focus on the "it turned out ok!"

When I might see an overwhelmingly huge (literal) debris field...
They notice the sunflower growing next to piles of smashed homes.

My kids have shown me lots.

Some of it I don't always want to see like what random food they're currently chewing on  because, as an adult (or is it just me????) I need to see the "ugly" so that I can empathize and sympathize and be 100% ready and willing to sacrificially help.

But....when I do see what they see....
I find hope.

And don't kids live in a perpetual state of hope?

And isn't that a pretty darn good state in which to live?

(Less tornados there, I think.)

Point being....
I think it's ok for my kids to see real life.
I think them seeing that bad things can happen
(because they do)
is ok because THEN they see how goodness blooms out of all of that dirt.

That being said...
I don't let them watch certain movies.
I turn off the news when certain stories come on.
I monitor what they see on the computer.

I want to preserve their innocence to certain kinds of ugliness for as long as I can.

I know,
That someday they will be thrust out from under my wings into the real cold scary world.

I pray that by then they will be so good at looking for...
the helpers,
the good things,
the way God brings beauty out of disaster..

That they will be able to keep on keepin' on without
cynicism or
despair or
paralyzing fear
or anger....

That they will be able to look past the "yuck" and find the hope.
And...that they will be able to search for ways to serve and help.

I want my kids (and I want myself!)
to know know know know know
that in the midst of any type of disaster....
God is there.

And when He is there,
Because He is there...
it will,
be ok.

And doesn't God, in His awesomeness, sometimes use people to show other people how He loves??

By being there...
By being in the "disasters"...
By being ready and available....

Maybe we can be lucky enough to be used.

So we will keep on.
Trying to be there.
Looking for ways to help.
Searching for the good.
Pointing out the helpers.

Learning gradually daily minutely to focus on the bits of beauty amidst the chaos.

And maybe...
Just maybe....
we will even be able to find the clean spot on my daughter's floor and use it to stand in as we begin cleaning up the mess.


Monday, July 22, 2013

I Need Speed (Bumps).....

In my Sunday school class yesterday the lesson was about using the gifts God has given us.
I walked in with a big 'ol box wrapped prettily in bright blue paper.
Talk about an instant kid magnet!

They ALL wanted to hold it and shake it and open it immediately.

I told them that I had just received this "gift" in the mail.
I told them how cool it was to get such a neat gift.
I told them how excited and grateful I was to receive this big box.

Then I threw it in the trash can.

Ballistic freaking out ensued.

Of course we later pulled it out and my rabid precious 3rd and 4th graders psychotically excitedly ripped it open and we discussed how important it was to recognize and use and appreciate our God given gifts and talents.

(And before you think I am at all creative....that idea was directly from my pre-printed lesson guide!)

The big blue box,
in combination with this really cool book I'm reading,
Got me thinking.

How many gifts am I given that I basically just chuck into the trash can?

How many many many good things do I unconsciously
(and sadly enough....consciously)
ignore or
overlook or
push aside or
simply not recognize
because I'm too busy focusing on the constant chaos that consists of my daily life?

Paul says,
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

All circumstances.
ALL of them.

I've heard that before.

When things...."bigger things".....happen in my life I do try to find thankful moments.
It's certainly not easy....and it's not really natural sometimes...but I try.

If the "event" is big enough that it registers on my
then it's a little easier for me to recognize it and look for the proverbial silver lining.

Dishwasher breaks down?
Thank God we have a warranty and running water and paper plates.

Car battery dies?
Thank God I have a good neighbor and recognize that He might have been protecting us from something along the driving journey.

Flight gets cancelled (three freaking times)?
Thank God for extra time with my kids and a cool experience.

But what about all the smaller moments?
The tiny events and occurrences that add up to the "normal" daily grind of my life?

Making coffee.
Washing dishes.
Checking email.
Shopping for school supplies.
Working out.
Washing sheets.
Watering plants.
Driving to activities.
Paying bills.
Dusting shelves.

I suspect that every single one of these little activities....
these "moments"
carries something that I could
-and should-
be thankful about.

I have 3 healthy kids.
They go to an amazing school.
They progressed to the next grade.
They are excited about new supplies.
My husband has a job to make enough money to purchase supplies.
I am DONE school supply shopping.

All things to be thankful for....sure.
BUT....what about the SMALLER moments?
The little "freeze frames" that make up the frenzied chaotic and (let's admit it) relatively stressful excursion of outfitting 3 kids with school supplies trip??

--Ethan's total focus on finding just the right ruler.
--Carolyn's gi-normous grin when she finds a pocket folder with puppies on the front.
--Bennett's pretended nonchalance as he requests locker accessories.
--the smell of freshly sharpened wooden #2 pencils.

These "mini-moments".

Just writing about them makes me smile.

If I can slow down enough to recognize them as they are happening....
Recognize and grab onto the "blips" of joy that are truly truly numerous...
...It would begin to seem that all of these small events could  add up to
and hours
and eventually (possibly) into a state of being.

When I look for
and recognize
and thank God for these smaller things.....
They stand out more to me.

Instead of the stressful nuttiness with which I usually operate....
I can maybe begin to see all of the goodness God has placed in my path. picking out the little little things...
(the way tomato plants smell when water hits them)
(the sound coffee makes when it's perking)
(the feel of warm sheets coming out of the dryer)
(the satisfaction of seeing a pile of bills ready to be mailed)
(the smell of lemon Pledge )

...I can really truly be thankful in ALL things.
In ALL circumstances.
With ALL situations.

So many things I've overlooked or ignored.
So many gifts God's plopped right into my lap that I've tossed in the trash.
So many moments I've missed because I'm too busy to see them.

Slow down.

I'll try.
I'll really try.

Maybe I'll just sit and drink my coffee without answering emails and reading the paper and straightening the kitchen and having to rewarm the cup 8 times.

Maybe I should start with baby steps and just try to only rewarm it once???

Either way....I'll be thankful that I have a microwave.
And more coffee.
And new moments with new chances for the many times I mess it up.

So many little gifts.
Wrapped in all kinds of pretty paper.

I'm going to keep my eyes (and heart) open for them....
And probably drink more coffee.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Today I came across a link to a really neat blog.

I found this paragraph.....and it hit me pretty hard.

I have no fancy preface,
No humorous introduction,
No dry funny sarcastic transition....

Just this.

I love reading over the accounts of those who are in Eastern Europe now, and meeting their children.  I was particularly touched by one family's account this week.  They are adopting two little boys.  As they visited in the orphanage, a little girl sat beside the mom and said, "Don't adopt ____, he's a naughty boy.  You should adopt me instead."   Most children that we know who are growing up, it goes without saying that they are loved and wanted, even though we say it plenty to them anyway.  Can you imagine having a little girl sit next to you -- a perfect stranger to her -- who is so desperate to have a Mommy, a family, a home, a place to belong, that she would try to convince you to take her home?  The sadness of this just really impacts me.  This mom went on to say that many of the children at the orphanage asked her to please find them a family too.  There are children in this world who are begging to have one of the most basic things in the world:  a family.  Not a rich family, or a family of a certain size or in a certain place.  Just a family.  Just somebody to want them and to belong to.  What a basic right, that we take for granted.  Such a simple thing to provide for a child who needs it; something that YOU could provide.  Hear them sitting next to you, and asking you, "Can you please help find a family for me?  Couldn't you bring me home?"

Oh my heart.
Oh my selfish horrid self-pleasing heart.

I am grumpy because my car is having issues.
My child complained to me that they were tired of the swimming pool.
Another child grumped about having to practice reading.
I spent my afternoon irritated that my dishwasher isn't working for the third week straight.

Oh my heart.


What am I thinking?
What are we doing?
Why is this ok???

So I send money.
I sponsor a child.
Or two.
I pray, and remind my kids to pray for the "less fortunate."
I maybe even help coordinate a fundraiser.

And I crawl into my big 'ol bed in my air conditioned house....
And my kids each crawl into their own beds with fluffy clean blankets...
And I tell them good-night.
And they sleep.
And they sleep with peace...because they know that

...their dad and I will keep them safe that night,
...if they have a bad dream I will rub their backs and help them sleep.
...if they are sick they have a mom to hear them and come help.
...they will wake up in their own home in the morning.

Shouldn't every single baby have that?
Shouldn't every single child know that security?
Shouldn't every kid know that they are wanted and loved?

My heart.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Escape From New York....

Let me start this post by saying:
This is not a highly spiritual or emotionally charged message.

Yes....emotions are involved.
Yes....I did a lot of praying.
But....this is more of a narrative kind of thing to simply preserve a lovely and unique experience (and to hopefully remind my children--years down the road--that I truly deserve a REALLY NICE nursing home).

Last Monday the kids and I drove down to Arkansas to hop on a plane to NYC.
My aunt and cousins live there and we hadn't seen them in 4 years.
It was time.
WAY past time...actually.

We had an uneventful and awesome direct flight into LaGuardia where we rented a car and drove out to their place on Long Island.

I would like to post
(and probably will later)
about the super fun we had up there....

How great it was to see the 10 cousin kids melt into a crazy perfect romper-room-esque playground.
How fantastic it was to just sit and chat with my cousins and my aunt....
How beautiful it was for us to sing the songs my grandfather had taught us and have my kids realize I was NOT crazy and did NOT make up a song about a guy who made a machine to grind dogs and rats into sausages and just remember....
How emotional it was to see the damage that Sandy had done to their community....
How inspiring it was to see the "Rebuild the Beach" signs up all over.

I would like to post about that....but if I'm to describe our little jaunt home....I simply do not have time in this post.

(But it was really truly awesome!)

On Wednesday we said our goodbyes and drove back to our hotel.
Thursday morning we got up super early and drove into the city.

By "city" I mean the place where people honk and scream (instead of wave) and yell not-so-nice-words at your 13 year old when he accidentally bumps their girlfriend as he's gawking at sky scrapers.

We went up to the top of the Empire State Building

and did a quick tour of Times Square,
then hopped back into the rental car and drove to the airport.

We got there PLENTY early (you're welcome Dad!) for our 5:50 DIRECT FLIGHT back to Arkansas.

We relaxed and ate and shopped for chintzy souvenirs and I even managed to keep from saying a word I learned in "the city" when my offspring dumped a large root beer on my cloth carry-on and all of its contents.

At 5:15 the gate agent asked us to gather our things and climb on a bus (yeah I said bus) which would shuttle us out to our plane.


We climbed on and we shuttled
150 feet
to a plane sitting NO WHERE NEAR a runway.

We boarded
...a little mystified as to why we couldn't have walked from the stairs to the plane...
and proceeded to sit there with the door open for 30 minutes.

A flight attendant informed us that the pilot was delayed on another late flight and we had to wait for him before we took off.

Good idea, I suppose.

40 minutes later
(and don't tell me they didn't know the pilot wasn't available when they bussed us away from the gate they apparently needed for another flight)
the pilot arrived.


He got the door shut and began taxiing.
Then stopped.
He told us we had to wait in line to leave because there was so much bad weather that flights were "trickling up" and it would take a while.


Two hours later (yeah I said two) the pilot informed us that no flights could leave to the west or south.

That's sort of where Arkansas is located.

BUT....said pilot man....there was a possibility of flying north for a bit and then going south.
However....this would necessitate a fuel stop somewhere along the way because now we were running low due to sitting on the ground for over three (yeah I said three) hours.

Ummm....not so Ok.

You see...
My kids' entertainment devices had run out of batteries.
I was running low on sanity.
The plane was actually rocking on the runway due to high winds in the New York area.
I could see nasty storms on the radar on my phone (which was loosing battery power rapidly).
We had been on the plane for 3.5 hours and IF we flew we wouldn't arrive until after midnight where I still faced over an hour drive home.

I pressed the little stewardess button.
She came.
I nicely stated that, if she wouldn't mind, I would appreciate her telling the captain that my vote was to go back to the terminal and try again the next day.

She smiled and said we would know in the next 15 minutes if we were flying.

I grimaced smiled back and said, "Ummm....Ok."

30 minutes later the pilot informed us that,
we were taxiing back to the terminal.

We taxied back to the "bus stop" and ran through the pouring rain to the terminal.

We were told we could "hang around the gate" in hopes that the flight would eventually take off...
Or we could rebook for the next day and go....somewhere else.

It was 10:30pm.
It was really stormy.
My kids were beat.
I was beyond beat.
We were out of there.

I asked at the desk about a flight for the next day.
"We have a 7am to Arkansas but it's full."
"But we have space on the 3:25!"
"Just you?"
And my 3 offspring.
"No way.  That won't work.  I only have two seats."
"We don't have anything else available for tomorrow."

I decided to take my kids out of that particular level of hell and call the airlines later.

When the pilot finally decided to go back to the airport I managed to shoot RH a text asking him to find us a hotel room.
Then my phone died.

Awesome RH had booked us a hotel (in Manhattan because everything around the airport was booked).

We found a cab and taxied our way back into the city....
found the hotel...
ate the bagels we'd gotten for RH and carefully packed in our bag...
and the kids collapsed.

I crept into the bathroom and called the airline.

Again I was told there were no flights for all of us into Arkansas.
I told them I was willing to fly out of LaGuardia, JKF, or even Newark.
I told them I was willing to fly into Springfield, Kansas City, or Tulsa.
I told them I could even do Dallas and rent a car home.
Ah HA!
Flight found!
Except it connected through SAN FRANCISCO and didn't arrive until after midnight the next day.


So I hung up and tried not to cry.
Then I pulled up my trust Expedia app.
Found a flight the next day at 3:50 into St Louis.

I can drive home from St Louis!

I called the airline back and they confirmed that all four of us could go to St. Louis the next day.

Book us.

Pass out.

The next morning we packed our things (including the bagels) and set out to explore New York.


As we found cleanish clothes I discovered that a certain nameless child had opened a $30 dollar "Multi-port charger" from our mini-bar to "just see it."

I managed again not to repeat the word I had learned from the mad New Yorker the prior day....and packed the lovely 30 dollar souvenir into my carry on.

We left our bags at the front desk and caught a cab to Central Park.
It was awfully pretty....and other than Bennett's encounter with what we hope was dog poop we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
For exactly 1.5 hours.

We had to get back to the hotel then to meet the car service to get to the airport.

Silly me....
I thought it would be easy to find a cab around Central Flippin' Park.

20 minutes later a taxi finally stopped and we climbed in.
When I told him where we wanted to go he said something like,

"Theese ezzz one waay street.  I no go theeere.  You geeet out my cab."

And I, certain I had misunderstood, repeated the name of our hotel with my sweetest most innocent smile I could muster.

And he started yelling at me.



We got out.
And I smiled at the kids and told them what a NICE man that was to give us instructions like that!

And we finally found another cab.
And we got back to the hotel.
And we got the car service.
And we headed for the airport.
And my phone "ding-a-linged" with a message.

"This is your airline.  Your flight to St Louis has been cancelled.  You have been automatically rebooked on flight xxx to St Louis TOMORROW."

At this point hysterical laughter took over.
My kids looked at me smiling.
Gradually, their smiles turned into looks of concern.

I confirmed the date with my driver.
I confirmed the date again.
It happened.

Then I played the message so the kids could hear and confirm it.

It was true.

The driver offered to take us back to the hotel.
I manically laughed at him declined and asked him to take us to the rental car area.

The kids looked even more concerned now.

"Umm...Mom?  Are you really thinking about driving to Missouri?"

"No sweet babies.  We ARE driving."

Road trip!!!!!

According to mapquest it was only 1350 miles or so.

We got this.

Seemed pretty obvious that God didn't want us flying home, anyway.

Now I love a good road trip....but I like to pack and prepare.

This wasn't what I had planned.

We had no DVD player.
We had no atlas with carefully highlighted routes.
We had no extra clean clothes.
(and all of our gently worn clothes smelled like "everything" bagels.)

We had a great deal on a rental car.
We had a close-by gas station to purchase a map.
We had some serious moxie.
We had to get out of New York City.

And you know what?

We had a darn great time.

An unexpected adventure that created precious memories.

1,350 miles...
11 states....
358 juicy drop pops...
7 nights in hotels....
3 movies replaying on a kindle...
4 new pair of underwear at Walmart in West Virginia...
48 pounds of gas station junk food...

I'll take it.
And feel