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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Original Composition…..

Recent events in our home  (or perhaps its the lack of sleep) have inspired me to compose a poem.  This might be the only "gift" I give this season….'cause 'ain't NOBODY wants cookies from dis house!

A Mom's Christmas Poem

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the land,
The germs are on rampage! They've taken a stand;

The viruses are nestled in children and spouses,
With visions of infecting families and houses.

And I, on my couch, with a dog in my lap
Dreamed of a beautiful afternoon nap.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear…
But an 8-year-old saying those words all moms fear.

"My tummy feels funny and something's not right."
I knew we were in for a magical night.

When from the upstairs there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my couch to see what was the matter!

Dragging one child up the staircase I ran-
Burst into the bathroom and the door I did slam.

Big brother was bent over the porcelain throne,
And I patted his back as the poor child moaned;

His eyes--how they watered,
His arms---how shaky;
His back was so tense it would later be achey.

Then poor little sister--not to be outdone,
Began using the sink for some more puking fun.

Her long pretty hair I pulled back in a tie
As she wretched and she sobbed and she thought she "might die."

They filled up their vessels and sat on the floor,
Then crawled back to bed to try and sleep some more.

Then using my fingers to pinch off my nose,
And grabbing my bleach off to cleansing I go!

Then both spouse and children come join me downstairs
As I try and alleviate cross-contamination fears;

So I tuck the kids in with a blanket and bowl,
And give my spouse DayQuill and more Tylenol;

Then turn on a movie and pray healing's begun,
And echo Mr. Dickens, "God bless us, everyone."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dear Santa…..

Pet peeves.

We've all got 'em.

Things that make us absolutely nutty with barely suppressed almost-rage.

I could make a long monstrous decent list of mine here…but I don't want to expose ALL my neuroses at once.  I'd like people to be nice to me in the Starbucks parking lot when I see them!!

So……I'll limit myself to one.
One that I KNOW several ga-billion other people share with me.

Christmas stuff in the stores before Halloween.

Hold your reindeer horses!!!

By my calculations, there are 55 days between October 31st and December 25.  That's MORE THAN ENOUGH time to decorate and bake and shop and glitter-ize and do anything else you want to do to usher in the Christmas season.

There is simply NO need to scar my delicate senses with images of zombies staggering past poor little Baby Jesus in His manger.

Enough already!

Part of the reason I don't like it is because it makes me feel like I'm somehow "behind" in my holiday preparations.
Part of the reason is I feel we don't get to enjoy Halloween, Thanksgiving and fall-in-general because the focus is already on Christmas.
But I think the main reason is that all of the paraphernalia in the stores has one big purpose:  to make people buy Christmas stuff.
It's all about the commercial-spend-happy-facet of the holiday.

And that facet?  It's my least favorite part of Christmas.

Here are my two truths:
First:  I know and realize and LOVE the fact that Christmas marks a celebration of when God came to earth wrapped up in human skin.
I get goosebumps every single time I read:
Then the angel said to them (the shepherds), 
"Do not be afraid. for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
--Luke 2:10-14

I know what this holy holiday really represents….and I LOVE it.

Second:   I love all the "ambiance" of the Christmas season.
It's true.  I love twinkle lights and frosted window panes and shiny ornaments and pine-scented anything.
I'm from the Deep South.  I decorate BIG.
My kids leave their stockings hung with care and put cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer.

There is almost no part of Christmas I don't love.


You see….there is one thing that bothers me every year.
One thing that gives me twinges of conscience and makes me do an inward cringe of yuck.

Buying gifts.

Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE giving people presents!  I do it all year long, in fact.  
It truly does give me great joy and satisfaction in seeing the smile I can put on someone's face when they receive something I've spent precious time and resources picking out for them.

BUT….I don't like facing the fact that the 19.99 I just spent on an apple scented candle could have purchased enough to feed a small family for over a week.

Over the past few years I've tried different things:
I've donated to organizations in people's names.
I've sent funds to purchase cows and rabbits and heifers to feed people in honor of my friends and families.
I've made a larger donation to one organization and given notes to friends/family members explaining that the donation was in lieu of individual gifts.

None of these ideas have quite hit the mark I'm aiming for.
I want to present the people in my life with a little token….something that shows them they are special to me….and that I want to share a gift with them just like God shared with me 2014 years ago.

However….I am all too aware of the thousands of hundreds of millions of people who have true needs.
People whose lives could be changed forever by the money I'm spending on Christmas goodies.

I have a list.
A Christmas List, if you will.

It's a list of organizations that sell really neat things.
Things that I would love to have myself…and can imagine my friends and family getting excited about receiving.
And each of these organizations have a purpose.
Some of them sell goods made by women/children rescued from sex slave operations.
Others have products created by moms and grandmothers struggling to support children in countries where they can't work otherwise.
Several use their profits to support orphanages.
Some of them provide "micro grants" to people in struggling communities so they can start a life-sustaining business.
A few of them use their proceeds to dig wells and supply clean water so people can drink and live safely.

There are lots of options on this list, and lots of super cool products.
I have researched the companies the best I can….and they all seem to be free-trade type organizations.
Most of them are faith-based and pretty loud and proud of their status.  Others are just people-loving and humanity-serving.
Some of them I've ordered from myself and can personally guarantee the amazing quality.
Others I've only heard about…but I would (and will!) order from them this season.

So here is a list I've compiled over the last year.
I pray it makes "shopping with a purpose" an easy option for anyone who might want to give it a try.
Because while it feels really great to put a smile on one person's face….
It feels a whole lot more great to know you have helped someone else out, too.

Sites Who Give Proceeds Back to the Manufactures:
Hand Crafting Justice:  scarves, handmade toys, stationary, pottery, jewelry, indigenous art, home decor, bags and purses
(provides free trade opportunities for women in 20 developing countries around the world)
Beads for Life:  shea products, jewelry, beads, bags and purses, home goods
(to create opportunities for down-trodden women in Uganda to support themselves and their families)
Padhma Creations:  hand knit accessories, Christmas stockings, head bands, clothing
(made by women in SE Asia to support their families)
Rooted in Love:  journals, bags, purses, jewelry, t-shirts, accessories,
(supports fair-trade artisans working in various missionary positions)
Noonday: home goods, bags, headbands, belts, arm warmers, scarves, jewelry, beaded jewelry
(provides fair-trade opportunities for women in developing countries to have sustainable incomes; donates a portion from each trunk show to help adoptive families bring their kids home)
The Mighty River:  beaded jewelry. gorgeous woven trays, bags, aprons
(supports 8 Ugandan female artisans with a fair-trade opportunity; orphan care in Uganda; provides a livestock micro-lending program to women in Uganda)
Krochet Kids: amazing hand-crocheted apparel, hats, scarves, mittens, ties, bags and more
(provide jobs, education and mentoring for poverty stricken people in Uganda and Peru)
Global Girlfriend:  everything.  Seriously.  I have ordered jewelry, skirts, tops, journals…it's all beautiful.
(provides micro-grants to poverty stricken women in Africa to start and sustain their own businesses; uses part of proceeds to supply education to young women in Africa)
Delicate Fortress: baby gifts, bags, PJ pants, jewelry, beaded jewelry,  accessories, bath products, many other unique gift ideas
(provides gainful employment to trafficking survivors around the globe)
Amazima:  beaded jewelry, books, music
(creates income for impoverished women in Uganda)

Sites Who Support Beautiful Causes:
Love41:  beautiful leather bags, leather accessories, clothing
(supports Africa New Life Ministries in Rwanda--which runs an orphanage and sponsorship programs)
Show Hope:  clothing, resources, jewelry
(Steven Curtis Chapman's foundation that helps families fund adoptions)
Lifesong forLife Song for Orphans:  hand knit accessories, Christmas stockings, head bands, clothing
(supports LifeSong for Orphans in areas of adoption, orphan care and foster families)
No41: Bags, burlap bags, aprons, jewelry
(support ins an orphanage and women in the village of Gisenyi, Rwanda)
Olive Tree Promise:  art, clothing, music, accessories, home decor, holiday decorations
(raises funds to assist adoptive families in bringing their children home)
Sevenly:  clothing
(supports a different cause each week)
Visiting Orphans:  coffee, adult and children's clothing, accessories, jewelry
(helps train people to serve and "visit" orphans and widows in 14 countries around the world)
Voices 4 the Voiceless:  beaded jewelry, beaded bags, t-shirts
(provides money to support orphanages in Uganda)
147 Million: t-shirts, bags, jewelry, accessories
(to provide food, shelter and medical care to orphans in Haiti, Uganda, Honduras and the USA)
A21:  jewelry, t-shirts, tote bags
(enables a ministry to rescue sex trafficking victims and provide them a new life)

Sites Where you can Donate in Someone's Honor or Buy Gifts for Someone Across the World:
Gospel For Asia:  I can't say enough about this amazing organization
Watoto:  Raising awareness and providence for orphaned kiddos in Africa.  You can also buy gifts here...
World Vision:  Taking care of "the least of these" all over Africa.  Gifts are also available for purchase..

Please feel free to add your own links in the "comment section" or let me know if you have other ideas to make Christmas giving more global….and please share with anyone you think might like the idea!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

But but but but but…….

I've been told that I'm something of a Grammar-Police-Lady.
Well…..that's possibly true.
While I can't claim to be right 100% of the time (97.8% is more accurate),
I suppose that my English minor has given me some inclination toward using words properly.

I like words to be used properly.
While I'm not going to bring up the whole "their/they're/there" or "your/you're" debacle….suffice it to say that my kids are oh-so grateful to have me around to edit their English assignments.

Grammar, of course, goes hand-in-hand with punctuation.
My poor daughter has to re-read many assignments when she refuses to stop at "end marks" or to slow down for the commas.
Haven't you seen the T-shirts with "Let's eat Grandma!/Let's eat, Grandma!" joke going around?
(Seriously…life and death matter there….)

In the same vein….I also believe that voice inflection can change meanings just as easily (if not more) then punctuation.

For instance….the word "sorry."
Said contritely…it shows true repentance.
Said loudly….it shows lack or sorrow with some anger.
Said sarcastically….it just asks for irritation.

And my new worst/best word?
Three little letters that pack a WALLOP of meaning.

In my experience it's commonly used as an excuse.
"I want dessert but I don't want to eat my broccoli."
"He called the front seat but I was already there."
"I think you told me, but I forgot."
"We understand you want another latte, but you've had 3 already."

I use that word myself quite often.  If I am requested to do something, my scarily automatic response is:
"I'd like to….but I'm really busy now."
"Sounds like a good idea….but I don't know how."
"That works for other people….but that doesn't apply to me."

Sometimes Occasionally Often I even have that response when I feel God leading me to do something. In these phrases,  mentally put a whiny tone on the word "God."

But God.

But God, what in the world am I supposed to do about 417 million orphans?
But God, apologizing makes no sense!  It's his fault!
But God, I just sat down for some well-deserved "me" time.
But God, I've worked really hard for this break.  Why should I do this work?
But God, I don't feel comfortable around that kind of person.
But God, who would ever care about reading what I write?
But God, it's too embarrassing!
But God, I'm sooooooo tired.  I couldn't do it right anyway.

Excuses.  Complaining.  Demanding my own way.

And some of these are pretty valid issues!  What CAN I do to end world hunger?  It IS embarrassing to do certain things!  I AM flippin' exhausted!

Insert another voice inflection here.  Remove the whiny tone, and say the whole phrase quietly….with a stronger voice for the word, "God."

But God.

I don't know what to do here….but God does.
I don't want to forgive this person….but God does.
I don't have the energy to help anyone….but God does.
I don't understand why I'm doing this….but God does.
I don't have the ability to do this task….but God does.

The word no longer exists as an excuse.
It becomes an introduction to an alternative.

Some things are truly insurmountable or incomprehensible or completely overwhelming for us.
They are literally impossible to achieve.

BUT they are attainable, doable, achievable and right for God to do.

Years ago at my kids' preschool the children were trickling in for a Halloween party.  As parents were driving through the parking lot and kids were running for the building….the unthinkable happened.
A little boy, about 3 years old, ran behind a minivan as it was backing up.
It ran him over with both tires.

Someone ran into the lobby screaming, "CALL 911!"
I ran to the parking lot and found the child laying on his back, tire marks across his little orange pumpkin shirt, not breathing.

He was little.
So little.
The car had smashed his chest.
His lungs had stopped doing what lungs need to do.

He should have been (and possibly was) on his way to heaven right then and there.
(But God….that's not fair!  He's so young!  But God….his mom's not even here to hold him!  But God, it's a party…he was so excited!  But God….it shouldn't be like this!)

But God.

Praying happened.  CPR was done.  Breathing started.

But God….in His wisdom…with his power….could and did save him.
It was nothing we horrified parents could do….but God could.

When we come across that inkling…that strange persistent idea that we are supposed to do a certain something…it may not make any sense at all.  If it's from God though…that idea won't go away.  It will continue to make itself known.
Do we whine, "But Gooooddddd…..that's impossible!  I don't want to! That's crazy!"?

Well…yeah.  We might.
And it might actually be crazy.
It might actually be impossible.

After the pity party has ended however…..maybe we should change our inflection.
But God.
It is hard.  Perhaps humanly insurmountable.  It's uncomfortable and odd.  There will be adversity and it will seem too difficult to imagine.

But God.
But God will do it….and He will let us be a part.
If we just stop making excuses….and realize that His power is a pretty darn good alternative to our own.

And depending on Him instead of ourselves…
That's pretty glorifying to.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coffee Thought….

Morning thought:

In Acts: 5 several of the apostles are jailed for preaching about Jesus.

God sends an angel to prison and sets them free, and then when the priests and Sadducees went to chat with them the next morning, they were utterly confused by the empty cell.  Eventually the clued in to the fact that the apostles were back where they had started, preaching and teaching away again.  The priests were ticked.
They were working on a plan to kill these men, when one of their leaders, Gamaliel, advised them to hang on a minute.  Gamaliel asked them to send the apostles away so they could speak privately....then convinced the other priests to let them live.....saying that if the apostles were "of man"....then their followers would eventually disperse since the leader had been killed; BUT if they were of God....nothing could be done to overthrow them....and it was a bad idea to fight against God anyway.

The other priests agreed....then just had the living snot beaten out of the apostles and sent them on their way.

Here it says that the apostles "Departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name." (Acts 5:41)

They were certainly not rejoicing in the fact that they had been beaten.....
They were rejoicing in the fact that they had been following Him strongly enough that they had to suffer.
Suffering is never fun.
Bad things aren't fun.
Bosses attacking you aren't fun.

Realizing that you have been following Him strongly enough to ...
threaten somebody's sense of "normal"...
shake up someone's idea of "fair"...
make satan want to throw in some "extra nastiness" to tip the scales his way again.....

it may not be "fun"...
But I think it's probably something to do a little bit of rejoicing over.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Spread it Thick...

"Give them roots," they say.
"Give them roots and give them wings."

Apparently, these are the most important gifts we can give our kids.
We are supposed to firmly implant "things" in them that will, one day, enable them to launch themselves out into an independent life.


That sounds horribly hard and scary if you ask me.

What kind of "things" am I supposed to give them?
To show them?
To teach them?

And how in the heck do I make sure these "things" stick?
(Especially when I'm relatively certain that 98% 87% 50% of the things I say simply fly directly past their ears into neverland. )

And then, when these children of mine are, as we in redneck-ville like to say, locked and loaded… do I ever convince them (and myself) to leave the proverbial nest and fly???

What an annoying saying.
What a horrifically hard responsibility.
What a humbling opportunity.

What roots do I want my kids to have?

Well…what are roots anyway?
They aren't simply static things that sit there and allow you a firm place to build.

(That would be a foundation….and while that's an important thing too…it's not in the saying so I'm not discussing it today.)

Roots are lifelines from which plants and trees draw nourishment and strength.  They provide the sustenance something needs to survive…..and even thrive.  Roots also give support….so that when (not if….but when) strong winds come, deep strong roots can help keep the plant upright.  The deeper the roots, the more leverage the plant has against the environment.  Deeper roots mean more access to nutrients…as well as a better ability to strengthen the plant against adversity.

(Yes….my job in college was a botany lab assistant.  True nerdy fact.)

In my life I have learned that the only things that consistently direct my path correctly…
that answer every question I have ever had…
that are always there when I need them (and often when I think I don't)…
that I can always depend on for true direction….
those only things…
Are God and His son, Jesus.

So I teach my own sons and daughter about Them.
I read to them, I make them memorize scripture, I teach them verses, I do bible studies with them, I give them books, I send them to Sunday School, I pray for them and with them….

But here's the deal.
All of these things that I do are basically really good mucky fertilizer that I'm adding to new little seedlings.  It will help them grow….but it doesn't create roots.

They are growing their little roots all by their little selves.

Now…I can hope and pray that the "nutrients" those roots are drawing in are coming mostly from the "fertilizer" I am supplying.
I hope I am spreading that stuff thickly enough that no yucky old worldly dirt is seeping into those little rhizomes (yeah, I used a botany word!) and changing the insides of the emerging plant.

And so the plant grows.
As do the kids.
And maybe we even get to see some of the fruit blossom from what those little roots have been pulling in so far.

But at some point….our "fertilizer" can't get down to those big deep growing roots.
We, the parents, can only add to the ground near the surface and they have to pull their nutrients from another deeper source.

At this point some of us might be tempted to haul in some construction equipment and tunnel down next to our cute trees and deposit packages of mother-approved miracle-grow.
Let me tell you….that's only going to weaken the ground around these guys.  Those roots are big enough that they can (and need to) find their own support.

Here's where the scary-somewhat-cool part comes in.
If those roots have been growing and broadening as they should…
If our children have been taking in what we've been teaching them about God….
Then there is something that begins to take our "mommy-daddy" place to help them discern the ways they should go.

John 14:25-26 tells us what Jesus said to His best friends the night before He knew He was going to leave them on their own.  Jesus told them that God would send a "helper" who,
"…Will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the things that I (Jesus) have said to you." 

Hear that???
Jesus promised that when He couldn't physically be with his apostles anymore that God would send a helper (AKA the Holy Spirit) to help them REMEMBER ALL THE THINGS HE HAD BEEN TEACHING THEM!!!!!

When God becomes firmly entrenched in our children's hearts…they will have the help of the Holy Spirit to know how they should live their lives.

To continue this tree analogy;
Our kids' roots have been primed and conditioned to respond to and accept awesome rich fertilizer.  When those roots have gone so deep and become so big that the little bit of stuff we spread on the surface is not longer enough for them…they will seek out similar stuff in the earth around them.

Our kids' hearts have been primed and conditioned to respond to and accept the teaching and the gifts of God.  When they have grown…in stature and in their minds…so big that what we offer them is no longer enough…they will begin seeking something else.  Jesus tells us that God will send them the Holy Spirit to continue to teach them, and to help them remember all the things they already learned about Him.

Those roots….they have some awesome divine guidance to help them seek out the good stuff.

And…back to one of my original questions (about how we make our teaching "stick" with our kids)…God tells us that HE will make sure they have help remembering it.

Thank goodness!!!!  Because today alone my kids communally lost an iPhone, a wallet, 2 pairs of shoes, a basketball , their tempers, a dog leash, a sweatshirt and a pair of goggles.  There's no way they remembered the scripture from church this morning!!!

That's scary too.
That will necessitate a post all of its' own at some point.
However….I will say that it's a little easier to let them fly….when you know the Guy who built those wings.

I'll leave you with this image of some really cool "fruit" I got to see in my 10 year old's leafy little life today.
I'm beyond grateful that I got to witness this….and pretty darn excited to see what's next.
I'm also quite thankful that God will be there to guide him…because my sense of direction is just so….so….human and all.

If I could make this video play that song about Going Down To the River I would….but my nerdiness is limited to tap roots and photosynthesis.  Ah well.  Enjoy anyway.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Clean Slate...

Every morning is new.

Those regrets that come crashing into your consciousness the moment you're awake enough to realize them?

They don't have a right to you.

Chances are….
You messed up yesterday.
Maybe big….maybe small….but I'd surmise there is something you wish you had done differently.

Tell God about it.
Confess your actions,
confess your regret,
and give it all to Him.

Then, while your hands are still open from letting go of those things….
Accept His forgiveness.
Accept another chance.

Know that God will help you do better today….
And that you don't have to do it on your own.

It's a new morning.
A new start.

And you can decide how you want to use it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three Years….

Three years is an amazingly long time.

Yet there are times…
…when it's quiet at night
…when I look for a building that's no longer there
…when I smell leaking gas
…when multiple helicopters fly overhead
…when I hug one of my kids
…when I see a program about our town on the Weather Channel
…when tornado sirens scream to life
that it doesn't seem like all that much time has passed.

Not every time that these things occur….but sometimes.
Random times.
Ones that catch me off guard.

And memories (visions, smells, sounds) shatter their way into the foremost part of my mind with a force that still takes me aback.

I don't know.  Maybe.
Isn't "flashback" just a word for a strong memory?

3 years later,
we-- as city, a community, a family,
have certainly come a really really long way.
Obstacles have been overcome,
Anniversaries have been …well…survived if not celebrated,
And our city has been mostly (not yet completely) restored to a better than original state.

In three months the new high school should be opening, and President Obama will be back to oversee the festivities.
I think this is his 3rd trip here.  RH and I went and heard him speak the first time, and my eldest went to hear him at the first Joplin High School graduation the year after the storm.
((Who'd of thunk we'd be on such close terms with the supreme chief executive????))

While things have grown and settled and been restored and repaired….make no mistake.
The memory of that time is still quite fresh here.
The impact it had on our town….both good and bad….is immeasurable.

Lots of people still define their life timelines with "before the tornado" and "after the tornado".
Restore Joplin signs and t-shirts and bumper stickers are visible daily.
New buildings are still popping up…and empty deserted lots with concrete stairs leading nowhere are right beside them.

This city is moving forward….but we aren't moving away from May 22, 2011.
We can't put it behind us.
We won't forget.

We will remember:
…the way the world rallied around us
…how criminals and police worked side by side to save lives
…when strangers took strangers into their homes and hearts
…how houses were completely gone except for one small area that sheltered and saved a family
…what miracles looked like
…the importance of white butterflies
…how it felt to have a stranger walk up and hug you and give you bottled water
…the smell of "tornado puke"
…when thousands of people came to our town to show us we were not alone.

And we will also remember the hard things.
The bad things.
The things that we maybe don't enjoy revisiting…but can't always help it.

But that's ok….because those things help us remember how it felt to be utterly and completely helpless.
Because for me….that was the time I fully realized how very dependent I was on God….and how very able He was to provide.

God said,
"Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you."
--Exodus 20:24

Memories, articles, pictures….they are all ways we can remind ourselves of God's goodness and faithfulness.   They are our mini- high-tech altars that cause us to stop and recognize the things that God brought us through.

So….here are my memories.
I've linked them to other stories and such….just click on the colored words if you want to visit them too.
And as time continues to pass I will remember that God is the same today as He was then,
and the same as He was a thousand years ago, and the same He will be next week and next year.

He is enough.

And while I might not understand how three years can be so long and so short all at the same time…
He does.
And that's enough for me.

----Here's my story of that day and night….It took me over a year to be able to read it myself without shaking.

----My daughter was with my sister-in-law….and her story is still a little hard for me to read.

-----When we were finally able to leave our neighborhood, I remember my brother-in-law gasping when we saw what had happened to the hospital.  The story of what happened inside St. John's hospital is unbelievable.

----These are the pictures from that night.  I had my camera with me because we had been celebrating Bennett's birthday.

-----Out of the MANY bizarre experiences… knocking down my own home had to be one of the most surreal.

----Re-reading this post makes me so grateful that we are so much farther away from 2011…but helps me remember that there is an explanation as to why I have gaping holes in my memory.

---Videos like this one  and this one can still make me tear up…and I can't even watch this one the whole way through.

-----Some memories such as these and these just come back at random times….and I have to remind myself that they actually DID really happen.

--And in this post I actually said that I was recording things so that in THREE YEARS I wouldn't forget them.

---There are songs like this one and definitely this one that still make my knees tremble with thankfulness.

I will use this little list of links when I need a dose of perspective…or a reminder of why I tear up at weird and random times.  I will use it to remind myself of how blessed I am…and to help me remember   how strong I can be.  Feel free to peek or not…and add whatever ones you think are important too.
Thanks for being here….

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

What is Today???

Sometimes Friday gets confused and thinks it's a Monday.

When your spouse leaves (loudly) for a super early flight in the morning.
When you manage to fall back asleep for the precious 45 minutes you have before your alarm goes off.
When your phone gets unplugged at some point during the night and dies….therefore rendering the alarm null and void.
When you luckily wake up because your kiddo is loudly going to the restroom at 6:15 (gross yet weirdly helpful).
When you get an automated phone call as you're chugging your coffee that tells you your spouse's connecting flight is cancelled and he's been re-booked on a flight 8 hours later.
When you reach for the coffee to to refill your half empty cold cup (because it is really needed) and the coffee pot is mysteriously absent.
When you realize you are the only one home drinking coffee.
When you accuse and threaten and cajole and beg your children to return the coffee pot.

(the pot, mind you.  the entire big 12 cup pot.  that's silver and black. with a big handle. a biiiig pot.)

When you suspect that your children are telling the truth when they state that they did not hide the coffee pot.
When you remind your children 26 times to get their folders and be ready to leave.
When your children are picked up for school by a friend (first time this year I don't have to drive them!!!) and your eldest keeps her waiting while you sweetly scream at him to hurry the heck up.
When you discover your 2nd child has left their folder with their homework in it on the counter.
When you have to text your spouse and tell them their flight is delayed.
When you try to find a new flight for your spouse but you still can't find your coffee pot.

(it's big.  it's not a small little individual mug of coffee.  it's a big heavy pot for crying out loud.)

When you receive a phone call alerting you that you have to be at the school an hour early at pick-up…on your home phone that you would have missed had you driven to school.
When you find out that you can bring the folder to school then without your child getting penalized.
When your spouse calls to say that the flight isn't actually cancelled.
When your school connection calls to say that your presence isn't necessary…all is well.
When you realize the flight really is cancelled but you can make car rental arrangements easily from your computer.

Friday's fighting back.  Monday mentality almost got a leg in the door…but Friday is

I suspect it would prevail a bit better if it had more coffee.
Where's my big pot?

Maybe I'll find it Monday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stumbling Rocks….

I've mentioned before that I am not, by personality, a runner.
Yes.  I run.
But only because it's the quickest and most effective way for me to be able to stay healthy.
(Note:  "stay healthy" can also be translated as "eat waffle fries drenched in Chick-Fil-A sauce and Shake's wedding cake concretes.")

When I do "hit the pavement" I wear minimalist shoes.  These are shoes that don't offer support, but have a tough layer to protect my feet from the pointy things of life.

Because you see, I've learned about these pointy things in life.
I tend to go barefoot whenever possible.  I just prefer it.
(Not in public though…I actually find that kind of gross.  Especially in places where I'm expected to sit on the areas where people's stinky bare feet have been all curled up.  Ewww.)
When at home I shed the shoes and let the toes hang out.

This is fine….until one encounters some of life's little pointy gifts.
Gifts such as legos,
thumb tacks,
pieces of a son's "fool's gold" collection,
cockle burrs fallen off of hunting clothes,
barbie's high heels,
the metal candlestick from the game Clue….
or really old dried-up pieces of play dough.

Those things….even to my thick-soled old feet….sinkin' hurt.
They make me jump.
Perhaps even give a little gentle shout.
Maybe even cause me to say something that makes me very happy my angels are at school.

Usually I can walk over most anything without noticing it….because my feet have become toughened and immune to most of the things that "tender-feet" can't handle.
But there are still those lovely "surprises" that make me stand up straight and take serious notice.

(Who knew this weirdly compelling story about my feet was about to become an allegory for life experiences?
Well…probably anyone who has read anything I've written!)

As we go through a "normal" day, week, month we experience all kinds of things.
The majority of these things barely register on our awareness indicators.
(When I run, I don't notice the flat gravel underneath my thin-soled shoes.)
We make standard replies, act reflexively, and continue on our pre-planned path.

Other things might make us pause for a moment.
Something nudges us out of our routine and we have to regroup a little bit.
(If I step on a irregular shaped rock my foot might slip…but it doesn't cause much pain.)
Our eyes are opened to something new, and we have to consider how to respond.

Then come the moments that stop us dead in our tracks.
Something is brought to our awareness that resonates and shakes every bone in our body.
(I step on a sharp piece of metal or glass that pierces through my flimsy shoe.)
We are not the same person we were before that occurred.

In other words…the awareness indicator just went off the dial.

These "things" could come as emails.
Donation requests on Facebook..
Conversations with the grocery store clerk…

You name it.  Any ordinary thing that you've probably been exposed to a GA-BILLION times and never been "wowed"…..until this one time.
And this one time….
You're over-wowed.

There have been times that things have simply "struck" me.  Pulled at my heart.  Made me stop in my tracks

These are the things, or should I say "realizations" or "new awarenesses", that just won't go away.
You simply can't forget them or put them out of your mind.

Oh…you may try to refocus your thoughts….but that won't help anymore than me trying to convince myself I can run on tiptoe and ignore the spiky thing hanging out of the bottom of my shoe.

And I just have to think...that when those "things" keep coming to mind over and over and over and over again…
Maybe it's just God saying "PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!"

If you see a news story about a fundraiser for a sick kiddo it will probably pull at your heart strings.
Maybe you'll think about it when sitting down to dinner with your healthy children.
You might even pray about it before bed.
Perhaps you'll even go to the web site and donate the next day.
But…chances are….your memory of that story will grow dim.
In a few months you may casually wonder how that family is doing….but it won't be a huge presence in your life.

Then you see another news story about refugees who have no where to go.
Again, it pulls at your heart strings.
Again, you think, pray, and possibly even donate.
But…the memory of that story doesn't go dim.
You don't stop thinking of it.
It is front and center in your mind and heart.
Days later, weeks later, lots-o-time later.  And then you start hearing other stories about these refugees.
You see things on the news, or overhear people talking about them, or get a random pop-up on your Facebook screen about the plight.
Your Bible reading takes you to verses that obviously apply to the situation.
The memory is not growing dimmer….and you can't "un-know" the seriousness of the situation.

It has been put in front of you not as a coincidence…
Not as a burden...
Not as an opportunity…
But as a purpose.

Fact:  God opens our eyes to things.
Sometimes they are brief little openings….like fluttering eyes when you're half-dreaming.
Other times though?
It's that sit-straight-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-your-eyes-wide-opened-and-your-heart-pounding-out-of-your-chest kind of feeling.

Know what that THING is???

That's your purpose.

Don't try to forget about it.
Well…go on and try….but He won't let you.

What the heck are you (am I ) supposed to do about the worldwide plight of refugees??
(or whatever situation put in front of you)
I don't know.
But He does.

"…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
--Esther 4:14

You're aware.
Waaaaaaaay aware.

God's put a serious sense of purpose on your heart.

Now what?

Wish I had a good pat answer for that one.
BOY do I.

Truth is…..I don't know.
But I DO know…that God knows.

He has something He wants you to do.
Something He planned out for you waaaaaay before you were even a sparkle in someone's eye.

And He will show you what it is you're supposed to do in response to that gripping longing and desire in your heart.
(By the way….the Christian-ese word for that feeling is "conviction".)

So how do you figure out what to do?
I learned a great little "ABC's" while teaching my Sunday school class.

A:  Ask God.  Pray.
B:  Biblical agreement.  Does it line up with scripture?
C:  Counsel.  Ask advice from wise people in your life.
D:  Doors.  Are they opening or shutting?
E:  Extraordinary events.  It probably is NOT going to be something you can do without God's help.

Remember….His timing really is better than ours.
Way better.

So we wait.
We remember our ABC(DE)'s.
And we keep on running (after bandaging and proper rest) so that we're ready and trained-up when the true task is revealed.

And we have dessert.
Because we did go for a run.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Blowing in the Wind….

This morning I asked the kids to clean the kitchen
(specifically to sweep the muddy mess previously known as "kitchen floor")
while I went upstairs to tackle the mound of spring break laundry.

They happily started the job.
(And by happily, I mean with only 5-7 minutes of whining and grumbling.)

Then, I  heard a noise.
A very loud noise.

A noise that sounded suspiciously like a leaf blower in my kitchen.


That's what I thought.

As I walked down the stairs I heard my daughter say above the roar of the gas powered lawn tool,
"You know, Mom is not going to like that you're doing this!"

Clever girl.

And as the whiff of diesel wafted through the dining room,
I whipped out my phone to video this monumental occasion.

They were cleaning.
In their own special little way.

Clever little redneck children.

No kids or animals were hurt during this scenario.
Children were appropriately lectured on danger of using gas-powered tools in enclosed areas.
Mom got a 6th 2nd cup of coffee and a piece of butter cake so children would not be beaten.
Leaf blowers work well on leaves and dried dirt but aren't very effective with caked on mud.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Last and First...

Tonight the kids and I watched the final episode of the show Good Luck Charlie.

It's a cute little Disney show that's been running for a few years….and a miracle form of entertainment in the fact that all of my kids actually enjoy it.

So they were really  pumped up for the FINAL episode….and I actually sat down to watch with them instead of doing one of 800 other more productive things.

As finales go it was fine.

The main character (Charlie's big sister) was heading off to college and saying good-bye to her family and friends as she prepared for the new chapter of her life.

When my eldest noticed that I was actually planted in one spot and looking toward the TV he said,
"Mom…you're WATCHING with us????
Why?  What's the big deal about it being the last one?"

"I don't know," was my sagacious reply.
"Last ones seem to be the ones you should pay attention to and remember, I guess."
Well said super-wise-mother….well said.

I remember a few years earlier watching the last episode of iCarly.
Again…wasn't my personal favorite…
But I loved it because all of my children watched it together….
And it was kind of the end of an era.

(I will always remember how they danced and rubbed their stomachs during the theme song….)

I remember getting together with my friends in high school to watch the final episode of Cheers.
I remember my mom being teary eyed after watching the last episode of MASH.

(What is with the final episode business?
We don't KNOW these characters…
We don't (mostly) CARE about these characters….
We possibly identify with parts of the show but it's a SHOW!
Not real life!!)

Then Disney did the inevitably cheesy yet annoyingly poignant flashbacks of the characters through the ages…..
showing how they'd grown and changed,
how they'd matured,
how they'd become older and bigger and more adult-like.

And I flipping teared up.


For crying out loud.
I don't even particularly LIKE this show.

As my unruly eyes leaked tears while Charlie's sister ( I still don't even know her name!) sang some sappy song….my son asked me incredulously,
"Are you CRYING????"

Then, like the sweet kind children they are,
All three of them began comforting me with beautiful sentiments such as:
"Just wait until I go to college….it's only 5 years away!"
"Well when I go you'll have no boys left at home!"
"But when I leave your house will be soooooo empty!"

And as my angels all laughed uproariously at my sentimentally challenged self…
I smiled and directed their attention to the TV and just thought.
Thought about…
How sometimes I missed the final "episodes" with them.

I remember so clearly helping my first-born take his first steps.
I vividly recall him letting my fingers slide out of his tight fist as he stumbled forward
four steps before collapsing to the ground with a gigantic smile on his little face.

I remember that….
But I can't remember the last time he needed my hands to keep him balanced.

I remember the first time I walked my younger son into school.
How he clung fiercely to my hand.
How he sat bravely at his desk with his eyes focused on the board trying not to cry.
How he gave me
three hugs before forcefully releasing me.
How he gave me a very small wave as I walked out of the door.

I remember that…
But I can't remember the final time we hugged before he ran into school on his own.

I remember showing my daughter how to use a tippy cup.
I remember the feel of her sticky fingers on mine as we tipped it up over her head.
I distinctly recall the look of surprise on her face when she got JUICE from the cup instead of a bottle.

I remember that….
But when….when was the very last time she needed my help to do it?

Those "firsts" are so important.
So memorable.
Such milestones.

First tooth.
First word.
First date.

But….what about the "lasts"?
When did he stop sleeping with his stuffed cow?
When did she stop needing a night light?
When did he give up his favorite blanket?

How did I miss those moments?
How didn't I realize that the "ends" of
rituals and
habits and
years and
eras….were so easy to miss?

I mean….superheroes were all one of my kids cared about for YEARS.
They ruled every facet of his life.
And now…he wouldn't be caught watching Spiderman if a whole year's allowance depended on it.

When did that happen?
How did I miss the end of that?
I still see him in a Flash costume….
but then I blink…
and it's actually a football jersey and he's being tackled by some ginormous 300 pound 7 foot tall lineman.

I wish I had know that these "lasts" were coming.
I would have maybe cuddled a little longer….knowing that the next night I wouldn't be allowed to lay in her bed.
I might have sung one more horribly out of tune song if I knew that the next evening I would be told to "just turn out the light".
I would have brought lunch to school and sat with him and his buddies one more time if I'd known the the next day I would get the whispered, "Thanks, Mom….but can you just hand it to me in the doorway and go on?"

I guess there's a reason that "Don't Know What Ya Got 'Till it's Gone" song did so well.
It's horribly true.
And that's probably why so many people still say things like,
"Don't go to bed angry."
"Always kiss good-night."
"Never leave something unsaid."
(etc etc etc etc)

Because we DON'T know when the last time will be.

Whether it's the last time my son needs two pacifiers to sleep…
or the last time a kid needs an adult to drive him somewhere…
or the last time I get to hug my grandmother….
or the last time I get to say good-night to my dad…
or the last time I see a friend….
or the last time I get a chance to tell someone that I'm sorry.

First times are obvious.
Last times are not.

Except when they are cheesy hour-long finales that have been advertised for 3 months.

So I'm that sentimental mom who cries watching Disney.
(Dang it.)
I imagine how it's going to be when I look UP at my baby,
Stretch high to put my arms around the shoulders I used to carry on my shoulder…
Kiss his stubbly cheek that I used to bury my face into….
And watch him drive off to a new life.

Then I blow my nose.
I promise myself to treasure what I've got in front of me.
I commit myself to enjoying what I have while I have it.

But also to remember that each "last"….makes room for a new "first."

New phases and seasons of life can be beautiful.
Even the hard and painful ones…because they lead us to better ones.

"Lasts" aren't necessarily bad….but they are sometimes hard.
They're especially hard when you realize they've happened…and you somehow missed them.

As for the show…
Well--thankfully through the power of re-runs and DVR's and all that high netflix techno jazz…
we can be happily reunited with our favorite characters whenever we want.

As for life…
I guess we will remember most of the "firsts"…
And just shake our heads at how fast they became "lasts."

And when I try to explain to my kids that I watch the finales because I've missed the well-defined ends of various parts of real life….
And when they give each other the look that their mother has gone off the deep end and is neck-deep in unreachable crazy-mud…
And I start to cry as the teenage Disney stars sing some Elton John remake….

I'll rest comfortably in the fact that it's probably possibly definitely not the last time I will dumbfound and confuse my children.

You're welcome, angels.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby it's COLD outside….

And with the temperatures coming in today at a balmy -8 degrees…..
And with a spectacular wind chill of -21 degrees….

Our school made the decision last night to….
extend Christmas break by another day!

I mean…..YEA!!!

Kids were, of course, over the moon excited.

The boy cousins came over to have a movie night and a sleepover
And Carolyn went to their house to do the same thing
(on a pinker and pony-er level)
with my niece.

I did what I could for my waaaaaay overused kitchen….
I scooped up and dried four sets of snow clothes….
I put the sopping wet bath mats (Well HE opened the door while I was showering so I HAD to spray him with the water!)...
I mopped the slushy floor.,,,
I wiped snow ice cream residue off of every counter….
I ventured into the arctic to retrieve a pair of wayward snow boots….

Then I got the boys settled in for a date with Indiana Jones downstairs.

As I turned off the lights in the kitchen I brewed a steamin' cup of tea for myself.
(Hey….it was that or a double shot of tequila.)

I carried my well-earned reward to the basement and plopped myself on the couch for a well deserved rest.

And one fourth grader snuggled close close very close into my right side.

So I switched my cup of tea to my left hand.

And one second grader snuggled very very close to my left side.

So I put my warm cozy mug on the table….and hugged two precious kids.

As I watched my drink cool….I knew it was the best cup of tea I've ever wasted.