Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Playing With an Internet Scammer

Josh is presently on the hunt for a car.
He has been busy searching the internet for just the right vehicle:
*not too old
*good condition
*at least 22mpg
*big enough to carry a canoe on top
*kinda sporty
and, of course,
*low cost.

And one evening last week...He thought he'd found it.
A 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee; 92,400 miles; body looked great in the photo; $2,500

It almost seemed too good to be true.
Brian began a conversation with him about that very real possibility. You know, perhaps the side of the vehicle NOT shown in the picture had a big dent in it. Or maybe the brakes were shot. Perhaps it had been totaled in an accident and given a cheap make-over. Matthew asked, "Are you sure it has an engine?"
So, Josh contacted the seller, and this is the response he received:
I'm emailing you about my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited I have for sale. It has all books, complete set of tools and keys and 92,400 miles. The price was reduced at $2,500 as I need to sell it before October 25th, when I'll be leaving with my unit back to Baghdad replacing the troops scheduled to come home...
The message went on to explain that the seller did not need to be present to complete the sale, the vehicle was located in Memphis, TN, it would be shipped to Josh in 2-3 days - at no additional charge, and everything would take place through Google wallet.
Needless to say, we saw lots and lots of red flags, but before he deleted the email, Josh decided to have some fun with it. This was his reply:
That sounds great! I'm 30 minutes away from Memphis right now. Give me an address please and I'd love to see it.
By the way, my dad was also in Baghdad. He unfortunately was declared missing in action. October 25 will be the one year anniversary. He had a jeep almost identical to this one and it would make me so happy to have this one!
When I saw your message I knew it was meant to be. Please respond as soon as possible, and thank you so much for serving our country. It shows I can really trust you. Best of luck in Baghdad, my prayers will be with you.
So, even though Josh was extremely disappointed (and a bit angry) that this deal of a lifetime was just a scam, we all had a good laugh as he constructed his response.
And his writer-mom was super proud of his creativity! *wink*


Monday, October 20, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Things aren't always as easy as they seem.

The fun part of this lesson came from a "Donut Eating Contest" we had Wednesday afternoon.
We tied donuts from the ceiling and challenged people to eat them from the string.
Without using their hands.
And, while at first many folks thought it a strange game, no one realized how difficult it would be.
It was kind of funny to hear audience members "coaching" the contestants.
Just bite it!
Use your tongue to grab the donut!

They had no idea.
When all was said and done, everyone had a great time - and enjoyed LOTS of laughter.
But the recurring phrase that afternoon was, "Wow! That was harder than I thought it would be!"

Like I said, that was the fun part of the lesson.

The not-fun part came earlier in the week.
I had the day off Monday so I could attend my uncle's memorial service, and when I came in Tuesday I had notes from Monday morning's staff meeting in my email. As I read through them I was surprised to read, "D moved out Sunday". I mean, I knew her move-out was coming. I knew I was going to have to say good-bye. And, while I wasn't happy about the prospect of it, I knew she needed to move. (We are going to be adding a memory-care facility to our property in the next year-or-so. But until that happens, I have to say good-bye to folks whose needs have gone beyond what we're able to do. *sad face*)
But I've seen people leave before.
And it's always been OK.
However, this time the actual move happened without my knowledge. And I didn't get to say good-bye. And I want to go give her one more hug. But D is having a difficult time adjusting to her new home, so for me to go over and see her really wouldn't be good. And the idea of just *bam!* ending the relationship breaks my heart.

This isn't as easy as I thought it would be.

And there's that lesson, again. Things aren't always as easy as they seem.
Thankfully, I have hope and trust in God. I know He is watching over my lovely D. And, although I cannot wrap my arms around her again and tell her I love her, I am praying for her. Believing God will wrap HIS arms around her and love her through this transition.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beauty and the Beau: Surprise! Edition

I had a little challenge last week.

I was in on two surprises, and it was difficult at times to keep the secrets.
In fact, I almost let it slip a time, or two.

The surprises started with Beauty. She was planning a visit to Beau for the weekend, to celebrate his 18th birthday. The plan - as far as Beau knew - was for Beauty to come into town after she finished classes on Friday. What he didn't know was that, since I was speaking Thursday in a town just minutes from Wheaton, I was picking up Beauty and bringing her to his house THURSDAY.
Beau was very unsuspecting when he came to answer the door.
And very happy.
The second surprise was one Beau had planned for Beauty.
He knew we were all coming to his birthday party Friday night, so he contacted Beauty's BFF and encouraged her to come along with us. M was as excited to see Beauty as the rest of us, and I was so happy for the surprise in store for my girl.
Because she'd just told me on Thursday how much she missed her BFF.
When we arrived at the party, Brian found Elizabeth and asked her to come with him to the van. (Where M was hiding.)
What a precious sight to see friends embrace.
But, honestly, the most precious thing to me was to see Beauty and Beau planning a surprise for one another. It was sweet to see them thinking of what would make the other happy, and then working out the details to make it happen.
I'm telling you, these two bless my heart!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For Moms Who Struggle with Guilt and Shame

Last Thursday I spoke for a group of moms in Lisle, Illinois. It is always a joy for me to share my story with other moms who are struggling, and to show them that HOPE is possible - even in the hard times. Often when I am speaking I am able to make a connection with particular moms in the audience by noticing their body language (or tears...) and I will aim specific encouragements toward them.
When I was in Lisle last week, I was able to speak directly with one of those moms during discussion time at the end of the meeting. This woman shared with all of us who were sitting at her table that she loses her temper and yells at her children on occasion. And every time she yells, she is then filled with feelings of guilt and shame.


Feelings which leave her believing she is not worthy of love from her children, her husband, or God. The guilt and shame she feels over losing her temper threaten to keep her from receiving love, and equally keep her from giving love fully. Guilt and shame become paralyzing forces in her life.
I understand.
Because I have been there.
And the truth of the matter is, I know this mom and I are not alone. LOTS of moms have been bombarded with guilt and shame. Perhaps the mom who is reading these very words has also struggled.
Maybe you are right now.

I will be forever thankful for my mentor, whom God used to free me from the bondage of guilt and shame. She led me in a time of prayer and contemplation through which I came to understand that when I was frustrated and at my wits' end, God wasn't angry at me. Rather, I found that He knew my heart - my desire to love my children, not hurt them - and I finally "got" that He was able/willing/wanting to help me in those moments.
God was not throwing darts of guilt and shame at me. They were coming from my enemy, the devil. And in that moment, God showed me that He would be my Shield to protect me from those darts.
It was as I recognized my absolute inability to hold myself together, and as I surrendered all sense of control to God, that I was finally free from the terrible grip of guilt and shame. When I recognized I cannot do this mothering thing on my own, and when I believed God wanted to help me with every step and hurdle, I began my journey of trusting Him to deliver me from guilt and shame.

Soooooo, fellow mom, are you struggling with these burdens today?
Please hear me when I tell you, those feelings - those thoughts which say you are too awful to be worthy of love - are lies from your enemy. The One who loves you (And who always will!) doesn't want you walking around burdened by guilt and shame. Yes, Jesus died even for your failings as a mom and He will help you overcome them. Please accept this invitation to lay your burdens, your failures, your short-comings at His feet and take up His offer to help you.
"For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

~Isaiah 41:13

If you'd like to talk further about this issue and don't feel comfortable doing so in the comment section, please feel free to send me an email. The link is in the right-hand column.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014


My heart and emotions are so confused right now.

Because the circumstances in my life and both horrible and wonderful.

So much so, that I actually found myself in tears at work on Monday.
And that hasn't happened in a looooooong time.
Amidst the stresses I have been trying to be strong, trying to do my best, trying to fill the holes as best as I can. I've been plugging along like that little engine, I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
And I finally realized, I can't.
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
~Psalm 118:13-14

On the other hand, I am leaving tonight to go to Illinois. I'll be speaking for a parents' group in Lisle, IL tomorrow morning, and then I am going to see my girl in Wheaton. *smile*
I have a birthday party to attend Friday night, and a wedding Saturday.
There is lots of celebrating good things coming up in the next days.
And that's wonderful!

So, in the midst of the confusion - when my heart can't decide whether it should be "up" or "down" - I am frequently remembering Psalm 118:13-14. The LORD is my strength and my song.
Let us hold firmly onto HIM.

P.S. I cannot see any realistic hope that I'll be able to do any blogging for the next several days. LORD willing, I'll be back sometime next week.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Or a Son...

Yes, for me it's a son.

Definitely a son.

Of the 16-year-old variety.

And some days I wonder which one of us will make it to our next birthday. *ahem*

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Josh and Matthew have taken over washing the dishes since Elizabeth left for college. And that my concern with Matthew is the copious amounts of water he uses to get the job done.
Well, Josh gives me a different concern. That is, he often doesn't really do a complete job. As in, I look at the dishes after he's "finished" and there's still food on them. Usually on the outside. So I call him back to the kitchen and have him re-wash.

And that NEVER goes over well.

Most recently (two nights ago) he was annoyed with me for making him re-wash the pots and pans - including the OUTSIDE. To him, the grease on the side of the pan looked like water and he thought it was clean. So he thought I was unreasonable for thinking he should have washed it anyway. Not to mention my demand suggestion that he ought to have checked the shiny surface by swiping his finger over it to see if it really was water - at which time he would have realized it was grease and would have known it needed washing and would have saved us from another argument discussion about how to wash dishes.
Needless to say, that interaction was not a pleasant one. Both Josh and I were extremely frustrated with each other. Though, I must say, he did a great job re-washing the pots and pans when I stood there watching him. They came out very clean. And I told him so. (But he was still annoyed with me.)

So, as the night wore on and we both calmed down I decided I wanted to address the situation one more time. I was thinking about the occasions when I thought my own mother was annoying for "making" me clean things and take care of items that didn't seem like they needed it. I recalled finally understanding her ways when I began being responsible for maintaining my own home. And I prayed God would help my son see my heart as I made that explanation to him.
I walked out to the living room where Josh was doing his Chemistry homework and sat down beside him. Then I shared my heart, and told him once more that I appreciated the way he washed the pans the second time.
Josh didn't throw his arms around me in a hug. He didn't tell me he understands, and will keep my words in mind the next time he does his chores. He didn't promise to never be annoyed with me again because he trusts that I always have good intentions. But we ended the night at peace with each other, and that was good enough for me.

Besides, I'm still holding onto the hope that by the time he's 40 he'll realize I was right. *wink*