Thursday, May 31, 2007

Goodbye Button!

Well, the little bird Joshua rescued has a new home.
I talked to the folks at the wildlife rehabilitation and educational center to ask them what we needed to do to prepare Button for release. They told me to bring her in so they could teach her how to be a bird. She needs to know how to get her own food so she isn't dependent upon humans, and doesn't end up as someone else's dinner.
So this evening the whole family got into the van as we drove our little Button to the rehabilitation center. We decided since her care here has been a family affair, it would be nice for all of us to take her away and say goodbye.
The lady at the rehabilitation center was very nice and promised to take good care of Button in preparation for releasing her when she's ready. We're confident Button is in good hands. On the way home we stopped and got ice cream sundaes to celebrate one more step in Button's return home.
In talking with the lady at the rehab center, I learned we should have taken Button to them right when we found her. She gave us the reasons why, and we understand them. If we ever find another orphaned baby bird, we know now what to do. But I am thankful for the opportunity we had to care for this little sparrow we came to know and love. I am thankful for the ways my kids demonstrated compassion, for all the lessons they learned, and for the confidence I'm sure they gained in successfully caring for our Button.
We'll miss her!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ First Date Edition

Today Annie is asking us to recall our first date...I can't. Oh, I'm sure I know who it was with and I could guess about what we did, but I don't have the creative juices available this morning to make it sound interesting.

So, instead I'm going to tell you about my first date with my husband.

Let's see, the date was November 3, 1989 and the event was a hockey game between Western Michigan University and Michigan State University.
Earlier that week, a rather large group of us from my dorm had decided to go to the game together, and I was in charge of getting tickets. Being an inexperienced freshman, I had no idea games against MSU drew such a large crowd and that I should get to the ticket office extra early. When I arrived I was surprised to see tons of people there already, and we ended up with Standing Room Only tickets. Not to worry - that worked out to my advantage!
On the night of the game, the entire group of us gathered together in the lobby and I handed out the tickets before we all walked over to Lawson Arena. Somehow, on the way over to the arena the group scattered and only Brian and I were together. Pity.
We found a space to stand along the railing and watched the game from the top of the arena. Between periods Brian and I turned around and leaned against the railing, and almost every time, the sides of our hands touched each other. Ahhh....

After the game, Brian and I went back to his room. He had a nerf basketball hoop hanging on his wall and we shot baskets for awhile. Sometimes when we handed the ball off to each other, our hands touched again. *grin* Though this sounds like a junior high episode, I assure you we were both 18 at the time! As we played ball, besides being enamored by his presence, I had one thought running through my head. This guy couldn't make a basket to save his life!
When I'm sure Brian had no hope of beating me in our friendly little game, we moved on to something else. We sat and talked for hours. We took turns asking questions, and then each of us would answer them. It was a fun time of getting to know each other better.
Finally, when it was probably two or three o'clock in the morning, Brian picked up the ball and asked, "What will you give me if I make this basket?" Based upon previous experience I was sure he'd miss it, so I just smiled and said, "A prize."
With that, he tossed the ball and there it went - through the hoop. Perfectly.
I was stunned. What do I do now?
Brian just smiled and asked for his prize.
I said, "Uh, what do you want?"
"How about eight hours of sleep?" (He had to work at the reception desk at eight o'clock that morning...So that option was out.)
"Or tickets to tomorrow night's hockey game." (I had told him how excited I was that my dad was taking me home Saturday so we could go to the hockey game at MSU Saturday night. That option was also out.)
"Or...a kiss." (That option was definitely not out. But I was so shy! What should I do? Well, what would you do?)
So I leaned forward and kissed him! And the rest, as they say, is history!

For more first date stories, visit Annie and the rest of today's Time Travelers!

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Button Update, again

It looks like I may have been wrong on two accounts, and the kids right on both.
First was my prediction Button would die within a day or two of being with us. Clearly I was wrong there, and glad to be so.
My second area of wrongness seems to be in what kind of bird our little Button is. The kids kept saying she was a sparrow, but I was insisting she's a robin. Elizabeth found pictures online of baby sparrows which looked like her, and I found pictures of baby robins which also looked like her. To me, her feathers definitely looked black, so I just knew she was a robin. Never mind there was not a single hint of orange in her chest feathers...
Well, now that a little more time has passed and we've had her out in daylight, I'm thinking we have a little sparrow here. Imagine, I've been wrong two times in two weeks. What's happening to me???

Button is flapping her little wings quite a bit now, which has led the kids on some new adventures.
At some time in the past, while watching a TV show on PBS, Joshua saw a segment about raising baby birds and particularly about teaching them how to fly. How convenient! So putting this knowledge to use, the kids have been holding Button in their hands and gently moving her up and down to give her the feeling of flying. Today they ran excitedly into the house, wanting me to come out onto the porch and see Button's flying progress.
Elizabeth held Button then gently tossed her up in the air. Button flapped her wings and made a soft landing. She isn't taking off by herself yet, but she's learning how to land!
When my kids first told me they were going to teach Button how to fly, I thought, How do you - a human - intend to teach that little bird to fly? You can't exactly grow wings and show her how it's done. Ugh, could that be three times I'm wrong now?

Yes, this little bird has been a delightful addition to our family. Tomorrow I'm going to call a wild animal rescue shelter in a nearby city to ask them about releasing her. We're wondering if we can get her ready, or if we should take her to them and let them do the release. It will be sad to see her go, but what good memories we've built with her.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Slumber Party

I can't believe it's done!
Four years ago we started working on our front porch. It needed to be completely re-done. Like the rest of the house when we moved in, the porch was old and yucky. (I'm guessing it looked nice in the 60's/70's when it was new...) We'd gotten most of the other rooms in the house finished and made a trip to Home Depot to get everything we needed for the porch.
Just then we had an opportunity to buy another house which we were going to have as a rental property. This new house needed quite a bit of TLC, and the porch project was put on hold.
Soon after we were finished with that house we bought another which required our time, and the porch project remained on the back burner.
Before we knew it, winter had arrived, and who wants to work on the porch in the dead of winter? So it kept sitting there, old and ugly.
For four years something has always been taking precedence over completing the front porch. The carpet and other materials we'd brought home from Home Depot sat there, just waiting to find their place, but we had lost our motivation.

A month or so ago, my sister-in-law did something which would ultimately give us the push we needed. (Thanks, N!!!) She gave us a swing. One of those nice, big, three-seater swings you associate with care-free summer nights. We thought, This swing will be great on our porch - whenever we get it finished. And it lay in pieces on the porch along with the carpet and paneling and various other "fix-it" items.
Then last Sunday, something came over my husband. He came up to me and said, "Let's get the porch done. I want to put together the swing, but it would be stupid to put it together now because I'd just have to take it apart when I lay the carpeting. I want to get the porch done now." And we went to work.
After a few days of pretty hard work, it's all done. And it looks so good!

In celebration of our nice new porch, we're having a slumber party out there tonight. All of us. My husband, my kids, and me. Elizabeth has already "called" the swing. The kids have assigned a corner for Brian and I, and have decided where both of the boys will sleep. I'm going to pop lots of popcorn for us to munch on, Matthew has a really cool SpiderMan light we'll use to flash spiders on the ceiling, and we'll probably stay up too late laughing and telling stories. It's going to be so much fun!

I remember one summer night when I was a kid. My mom ordered pizza and we all lay outside on top of our camper eating pizza and watching a meteor shower. That's one of my favorite childhood memories.
I wonder if, when my kids are thirty-five, they'll remember the night we had a slumber party on our front porch. I sure hope so!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pass the Parcel

Have you ever seen Family Fun magazine? Or visited their website? Both are chock full of great things to do with your family. I rarely have time to read through the magazines anymore, but they keep sending them every month. (Probably because I've paid for them. Duh!) However, when the most recent issue arrived I sat right down and started flipping through it. I'm so glad I did!
Included in this issue was an article about summer camp games, adapted for the family, and I came across an idea which I think will be highly utilized in the Hossink household. I have to say, I went to summer camp seven years in a row as a kid and was a counselor for two years during college, and I'd never heard of this game. It's called Pass the Parcel, and I'm so glad I've finally found out about it!
Here's what to do to get ready: Make or purchase a "prize" that can be shared among everyone playing the game and wrap it up. On the outside of the wrapper, place instructions saying something like, "Unwrap this package and share it with everyone after you sing the Barney theme song while rubbing your belly." Wrap the package again and affix directions for another activity. Keep wrapping until there are enough layers for everyone who will be playing the game. Finally, wrap one more time without affixing an activity.
Here's how you play: Give the parcel to the first player. This person unwraps the first layer and performs the activity, then passes the parcel to the next player who unwraps one layer to find their activity. And on it goes until the final layer has been unwrapped and everyone is enjoying the prize.

When I went grocery shopping Monday, I bought a huge Hersey bar for the prize and introduced Pass the Parcel to my family after dinner. I came up with silly activities, like singing the Barney theme song while rubbing your belly, and doing jumping jacks while reciting the alphabet. We had fun and everyone enjoyed the candy bar for dessert.
Friday morning I had another idea for this game. I was going to the store to get some pages for Matthew to store his Pokemon cards.(Yes, he has copied Joshua's interest.) Something came over me (it must have been God, because I am usually so stingy!) and I decided it would be fun to buy a small gift for each of the kids to play another Pass the Parcel game. So I got the pages for Matthew, a small pack of Pokemon cards for Joshua, and a Littlest Pet Shop figurine for Elizabeth.
This time when I wrapped them up, I wrote down Bible verse references for the kids to look up and read as the activity. It was great to watch them help each other find the verses, and they fully enjoyed the simple gifts I'd gotten for them. Brian told me last night he heard Joshua say he really likes Pass the Parcel and he hopes we keep on playing it.
One of the things I like so much about this game is, it's very versatile. You can do silly activities, include physical challenges, and practice Bible knowledge. I suppose you could even incorporate math practice and chores, eg. How many legs are there on three horses? or Find three toys that are out of place and put them away. The possibilities are endless.

This is my gift to you today - an idea for a fun thing you can do with your kids.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Rock!!!

Oh, that boy!
The one who drives me nuts and warms my heart.
The child who makes me think I'm the meanest mom in the world, and the best mom ever.
If you've been reading here long, you know who I'm talking about.
My Joshua.

On the way home from school, Joshua told me the story behind his homework. While he was at speech class the rest of the kids in his classroom were misbehaving and the teacher couldn't get through the math lesson. When Joshua returned, he witnessed the teacher's frustration as an extra page was assigned for homework with the understanding if the kids didn't complete it, they would miss recess the next day and do the homework instead. Joshua moaned about suffering the consequences of his classmates' behavior. Of course, he is always a perfect role model and never misbehaves in class... Right.
Anyway, we talked briefly about taking responsibility for your own behavior, and the reality of having to suffer the consequences of other people's behavior sometimes. Then Joshua - completely on his own - decided he would do his homework right away when he got home, rather than going to the community center to play, so he didn't forget to do it later and end up missing recess tomorrow. Since homework is often a point of contention, I was quite impressed with his logic and reasoning. However, by the time we got home he had changed his attitude.
He ran around for a bit to unwind, which was a good thing, but when he decided to start his homework he was sweaty and didn't want to sit down and work. I reminded him there was quite a lot to do, and he really should focus in on it and get going. I think that's when he started yelling and complaining. "I don't want to! I'm too hot!" I offered to get Joshua some ice water to help him cool down (hoping it would help his temperament as well as his temperature) and he responded by essentially saying, "Go ahead and try it, but it isn't going to work."
I got him the water and brought it to the table. He had started his math and was already wanting to take a break, but I told him to keep working. My words didn't sit well with him. I could tell he didn't like me at the moment, but felt it was important to see that he stick to the task at hand. To be honest, at this point I was just about as frustrated with Joshua as he was with his math. It drives me nuts when he gets in these moods, making simple tasks monumental and finding every possible reason to be upset.
When I returned to the kitchen I heard Joshua gasp, and I turned around to see the water spilled all over the table and Joshua's math page. My initial reaction was to be upset with him for messing around and spilling the water. Somehow I could just picture him intentionally dumping the cup in an attempt to get out of doing the work. But for some strange reason, I remained calm and got paper towels and a wash cloth to clean up the spill.
As I was mopping up the water, I could tell Joshua was sorry. He told me his hand was sweaty and when he picked up the cup it slipped and fell over. So he wasn't messing around and intentionally spilling the water. Boy, was I glad I hadn't yelled at him!
Only half of his math paper was wet, so I told him he could work on the dry part and then take a break. When the paper was dry, he could finish the rest. I was prepared for him to argue with me again, but he didn't. He sat at the table and did his work and I went into the kitchen to make muffins.

I was trying to understand the situation we'd just endured. How had we gone from a good idea in the van, to fighting over making the idea a reality, to working together to clean up a mess - which could've been messier, were it not for God keeping my mouth shut?
Sometimes I am at such a loss for what to do with that child. He gets angry and defiant. He yells at me. He focuses in on everything that's wrong around him and I feel like I can't get him out of the pit. I have started taking him to a therapist to see if we can help him but, at moments like this afternoon, I feel almost helpless.

Perhaps you have read the account of the little "game" Joshua and I play wherein we tell each other, "You rock!" Well, since then we've come up with another way to say it. You know how you do rock in the game Rock, Paper, Scissors? Now Joshua and I point to each other and then make the rock signal - our wordless way of saying, "You rock!"
So, just as I was in the middle of the above thought process, Joshua had finished the dry section of his homework and came into the kitchen with me. He said, "Mom?" When I turned toward him, he pointed at me and then pounded his fist on the palm of his hand.
You rock.
Though I was nearing my wits' end with him just moments before, though we were fighting over the completion of a simple task, though I thought he was ready to declare once more that I'm the meanest mom in the world, Joshua told me I rock. Yes, I live on a roller coaster. But with God's help, I'm determined to enjoy the ride.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Button Update

Our baby is growing!!!

She is eating well, practically sleeping through the night, and -wow- is she growing feathers!
Yes, I believe I was wrong. When Joshua brought home a baby bird last week which had fallen from its nest, I told the kids they could try to nurse it to adulthood but they shouldn't expect it to live more than 24 hours without its mommy. And here it is, eight days later, and Button is doing very well. In fact, Joshua just moved her from her little margarine container into a large box because she's starting to flap her wings and move around more.
I continue to enjoy watching the compassion my kids have for this little bird as they care for her and monitor her progress. Though I had to chuckle this morning when I went into Elizabeth's room (where Button is staying). Button was squawking, as she does whenever she's hungry, and Elizabeth was fumbling around with the medicine dropper and the nearly-empty dish of baby bird food. My little girl seemed flustered and held the dish out in my direction mumbling, "We need more food. I can't feed her with what's in here." She reminded me of a young, tired, frustrated mother trying to feed her new-born baby after a restless night of listening for her baby's cries. Yes, I've been in that postion before. But you keep on because you love the little squawker!
I must admit, I think I'm having more fun with Button than even my kids are. Since I'm home most of the day I check on her hourly, to feed and talk to her. I'd like to think she knows me, but I doubt it. Anyway, I cleaned her up a bit (she gets messy sometimes during feedings) and took a picture of her last night so you can see how much she's grown over the week.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Blogging beginning edition

It's Tuesday, and you know what that means, don't you? Annie is taking us on an adventure. This week, we're sharing our first blog post and telling why we got started blogging.

I joined the blogosphere last September, just after I sent my book to the printer. My bookcoach had told me having a blog would be a good way for me to get the *word out* about my book. Because Christine suggested it, I decided to start a blog but I had no idea I would enjoy blogging so much. I love it for the sake of writing and having an outlet to express my feelings, and for the many bloggy friends I've made. I love you all! Anyway, since beginning my blog I have been encouraged to know God is using - not just the book - but this blog as well, to bring hope to overwhelmed moms.
I still remember the very beginning. I had a rough night with the kids and when it was finally "over" I thought, This night would be a good experience to write about in a blog. So I e-mailed the woman who was creating my website and asked her how quickly she could set up a blog for me. It didn't take her long. And this is what I wrote:

Last night was a terrible night!

I’ve been feeling edgy and irritable for the past few days, with the kids being crazy, disobedient, disrespectful, and generally out of control. Maybe their behavior wasn’t as bad as I was perceiving it…I don’t know, but it hasn’t been good - For sure!

Anyway, last night my husband was gone and the kids were giving me trouble before dinner. Joshua and Elizabeth were fighting in the kitchen and I went in to break things up. Matthew came in and started scrapping too and I reacted without thinking and slapped his hand – which sent him upstairs crying. I followed him up, my own tears flowing as I apologized, told him I was wrong and asked for his forgiveness. I kneeled by his bed as he lay under his covers repeating, “Matthew, I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have slapped you. Please forgive me.” Oh, I hate when I react out of anger!

Wanting to get in the habit of reading nightly, I told Joshua he needed to read me a short story, but he insisted otherwise. When I told him it was going to happen regardless, he “ran away.” (Which always amounts to riding his bike around the block.) We argued during dinner – Matthew didn’t like the chicken, Joshua was still stewing about my requirement that he read – and after dinner we argued more and Joshua “ran away” again.

I was trying to understand, trying to believe that God is refining me, but I just couldn’t see. I ran up to my room crying, closed my door and fell to my knees by my bed as I sobbed, “I don’t see the point, God! I don’t understand! Why does this have to be so hard? I don’t see the point!!!!!”

I felt utterly broken. I hated myself for lashing out at the kids. I didn’t want to lose my composure in front of them and have them see me crying. I was disappointed in myself for not being completely pliable and flowing into God’s will for me. My greatest desire is to please Him, but I was confident I wasn’t presently pleasing.

God has shown me before, and I believe it’s true, He is using my children and my struggles as a mother to make me into the woman He wants me to be. Yet, last night I just couldn’t see it. I tried to remind myself of what is true – God is good. Always. His ways are perfect. All of them. But in the middle of my fire (and it was HOT) I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t embrace it. Lord, forgive me!

Yet, He is not only my Refiner. He is also my Redeemer. In spite of a few more outbursts by Joshua, he eventually calmed down (as did I), and was even helpful in getting ready for bed. We gathered in the boys’ room to pray and I prayed for each of my kids individually, specifically thanking God for the things I love most about each one. I sang to each of them and truly loved them. All the while I was mindful of God’s redeeming power – how He transformed the night from what it had been into a loving, peaceful time.

I still can’t say I understand the point of these intensely hard times. But I know without a doubt God is good, His ways are perfect, and nothing will change those facts.

Thank You, Lord, for hope that never ends, for grace that knows no bounds, and for love that never fails!

So there's my first post, and the story behind Surviving Motherhood. Thanks for visiting, and to get the history on some other blogs, visit Annie to find more Time Travel Tuesday participants.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Oh Boy!!!

Is there really a difference between boys and girls? I mean, besides the obvious.

Some people say boys are easier to raise than girls. Others argue girls are by far the simpler species. While still others say boys are easier until the teen years, then your sweet little girl becomes a rage of hormones and there is no hope for peace. And there are those who say kids are kids, regardless of gender, and if you can understand one you can understand them all. Yeah, right.
I'm here to say, there is a difference. I see it in my own kids every day. But I got the biggest kick out of the differences I saw in other people's kids this weekend.

Friday afternoon Joshua asked if he could invite his best friend over to spend the night. Spur of the moment plans like this one don't often work out, but this time it did and Joshua's friend came over to visit. This little boy is so well-behaved and polite I am happy to have him over any time. He is also so well-behaved and polite I don't always think of him as a typical boy. He changed my impression Friday night.
After we'd watched our Friday night movie and they'd had a chance to play awhile I told all the kids it was time for bed. Of course they were reluctant, but they eventually made it upstairs and got settled into bed. As I came back downstairs, expecting them to go to sleep soon (oh, silly me) I sat down to talk with my husband and got an ear-full from upstairs. The boys - all of them - were making the biggest, juiciest farting noises I've ever heard. And you should have heard the laughter accompanying the noise. The thing is, I think Joshua's friend was the biggest instigator of the whole event. My husband and I just looked at each other, laughed, and said, "They're boys!"

On Saturday, the big event was Matthew's birthday party. He turned seven on Friday and was excited to be having his first ever "friend birthday party." Creating the guest list for his party was a task Matthew took very seriously, and he thought it wise to consult with his older and more experienced siblings.
Matthew wanted to invite one little girl from his class, who is his good friend, but he wasn't so interested in having any other girls come. Elizabeth and Joshua avised him this little girl might feel odd, being the only girl, and thought he should invite other girls or at the very least inform this friend of the fact she was the only girl on the guest list. Matthew went with the second option and was pleased to report back that this girl "was OK with it." I'd heard opinions from other parents that this girl wasn't very "girly" and wondered how she would compare to the boys.
Let me say, "girly" or not, she confirmed for me there is a difference between boys and girls even before the teen years. This young lady was the first guest to arrive and she promptly followed me past the hanging streamers and floor covered with balloons into the play room, found a book and started reading. She told me how much she enjoys sitting and reading books, and I thought, Oh, how peaceful.
Within moments, the other guests started arriving. The boys came into the house, ran back and forth between the rooms which had streamers hanging in the doorway, found the big bouncy balls and started jumping on them. They were loud and having tons of fun just yelling, for no apparent reason except to see who could be loudest.
When it was time to play a game, the boys were all pushing to be first and the little girl said, "I'll go last." Similarly, when it was time to open presents the boys were eagerly saying, "Open mine first," and even ripping into the presents themselves.
I sat back observing the situation, not thinking badly of the boys, just marveling at the stark difference I saw between the two genders. We are all created in the image of God. How can it be we are so different?
I don't think I'll ever understand the answer to that question, and I'm almost resigned to the fact I'll never really understand boys. Oh, I'll keep trying. Rumor has it there are some good books out there which would be helpful. And I can always ask my husband, "Is that just a boy thing?"
But for anyone who really believes kids are kids and that's that, I beg to differ. And for those who say boys are easier to raise than girls, I disagree. OK, maybe I'll change my tune in a couple years when Elizabeth becomes a teenager, but for now I am a proponent for the Girls Are Easier camp.

What's your opinion???

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bandaids for Everyone!

Button isn't biting anyone, but we always have plenty of bandaid needs around our house. Somehow even when I just bought some, there are no bandaids when I'm the one who is in need.
Here comes Five Minutes for Mom to the rescue! They're giving away a year's supply of bandages. Go visit them to sign up for your chance to win. That is, if you really want to lower my chances of winning. *sniff, sniff*

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Cute as a Button

Tuesday afternoon Joshua came home with a baby bird which had fallen out of it's nest. Actually another little boy had found the bird but didn't think his mom would let him keep it, so Joshua took it. He told me the situation with the other little boy's mom and I thought, And you thought your mom would let you keep it? Perhaps it was his faith in my good will that got me to say OK.
I remember many little birds and even a baby bunny that my mom allowed my sister and I to take in. How could I really say No to my kids? However, I also remember each of the little critters we tried to rescue died within 24 to 48 hours of our heroic attempt. While I admired my kids' desires to save this baby bird, I wanted to be sure they understood the baby probably wouldn't survive without it's mother. So I told them while I would allow them to keep the bird, I fully expected it to die within a day and I wanted them to understand this likelihood. They said they understood.
The kids got busy finding a little box and lining it with towels to make the bird's home. They went outside and dug up worms to chop up and feed the baby. A bowl of water and a medicine dropper would serve to give the bird a drink. They doted on the bird that night like parents on their new born baby.
Wednesday morning, the bird was still with us. Elizabeth left Brian with instructions to feed the bird during the day and even showed him the location of the chopped up worms. Nice, I thought, but it probably won't be long now. Brian reported later that morning, "The bird ate everything Elizabeth left. She was hungry!" (We call it a she, even though we have no idea!)

That night Elizabeth came downstairs, very excited after her shower. She said, "Mom, God told me Google!" Elizabeth explained that while she was in the shower, she was praying for the bird and she believed God told her to do a Google search about how to care for baby birds. She said, "Mom, we've been trying to do it on our own, and not following instructions. Just like in life, it goes better when we follow God's Word than when we try to do it on our own. We need to follow instructions for caring for the bird." How could I argue that?
So Elizabeth got on the computer and within minutes had found what she was looking for. She asked me if we had a heating pad, because we needed to put the bird in a margarine container lined with a paper towel and then put it on a heating pad. Check.
She continued reading and gave me instructions to go to the pet store the next day for food. Check.
Part of me was still thinking, This bird is going to die. But how could I deny my kids' efforts? So I said I'd get the food in the morning. As I was observing my kids with Button (She has a name now.) I was delighted to see their compassion. That night I prayed with them for Button. I thanked God that He saw her when she fell from the tree, and asked Him to use her and this situation according to His good purposes.
That night I talked with my mom on the phone and told her about Button. She reminded me of a woman with whom she once worked, who nursed a fallen baby Starling to adulthood. She told me the woman taught the bird how to find it's own food, and the bird learned how to fly on it's own. One day it met a mate, and off they went to start a family. I began to wonder if Button might make it after all.
The next morning I got the baby bird food and came home to feed Button. She's a good eater. I checked on her hourly and fed her whenever she peeped. I was starting to get attached. When I picked the kids up from school, I was the one eager to talk about Button.

It's Friday night now, and Button is still with us. She has pooped on me a few times today, but I don't mind. That's a good sign, right? I feel like I have a new born again - watching for stools and wet diapers to make sure she's eating enough. LOL! My kids have reminded me more than once that I thought she'd be dead by now. I'm happy to be wrong. I don't know if Button is going to make it, but more and more I'm hoping we get to see this baby grow up, and fly away when the right mate comes along!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Forgot!

Tonight for dinner, I made Pork Chops with Orange Rice. I especially love the orange flavored rice and was looking forward to enjoying this meal with my family.
The recipe for this dish is soooo simple, and the results soooo yummy I actually got it published in my favorite cooking magazine several years ago. Really, all you do is season pork chops with salt and pepper and brown them in cooking oil. Place 1 1/3 cups instant rice in a greased casserole dish, pour one cup of orange juice over the rice and top the rice with the browned pork chops. Then pour a can of chicken with rice soup over it all, cover it and bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. So simple! Too simple to mess up, right? You'd think so.
As I brought dinner to the table I noticed the rice around the edges looked a little dry. That happens sometimes, and when it does I just don't scoop around the edges. But tonight as I looked at the rice I realized why it was dry. I'd forgotten to put the orange juice over the rice.
Awwww. How could I have done that? This recipe is so simple. It's too simple to mess up. But somehow I managed to do it.
My family was very gracious. Everyone avoided the rice as best as they could, and just smiled politely as they spit out crunchy rice. Fortunately, the pork chops were still good and the bread was yummy. It wasn't a total loss. I still felt stupid for forgetting the orange juice, though. I mean, come on, I've been making this recipe for fourteen years now.

When it was time for the kids to start getting ready for bed, I directed Matthew to get into the shower and I started washing the dishes. Quite often, Matthew needs close supervision in order to complete his tasks. More than once, I have walked into the bathroom to ask if he's almost finished with his shower only to find out he's simply been standing under the running water and hasn't even started washing yet. But tonight he got the job done without much intervention.
I returned to the kitchen after checking in on him and was only barely aware of what he was doing for the next several minutes. Then I realized Matthew was standing in the dining room, still dripping wet. I called out from the kitchen, "Matthew, how about drying off and getting into your pajamas." He perked up and said, "Oh yeah," with the tone of voice that said, So that's what I'm supposed to do after I get out of the shower. I'm supposed to use this towel Mom gave me to dry off. Then since I'm naked, I should put something on my body, and since it's time for bed I may as well put on pajamas. Yeah, this all makes sense now.
I noted his tone of voice and thought to myself, Matthew, you're almost seven years old. Getting ready for bed is not a new thing anymore. You know what to do. Just then, I looked down at the dishes in the sink. Sitting right in front of me was the casserole dish. The one with dried rice stuck to it. I thought about that simple recipe I've been preparing for some fourteen years. The one that is too simple to mess up. I thought about the fact I'd forgotten to put the orange juice in the Pork Chops with Orange Rice. And I thought, Maybe I need to give Matthew a little more grace.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ "Eighteen" edition

Annie asked for input regarding which age we wanted to visit during our Time Travel Tuesdays. I enthusiastically voted for eighteen.
I turned eighteen on September 22, 1989, just a few weeks into my freshman year at Western Michigan University. The first thing I did as an "adult", (because now I could) is I went out and got my left ear triple peirced. I had to wait for the first peircing until I was eleven. I secretly double peirced my left ear at my friend's house when I was thirteen. Now, at eighteen, I went right to the mall and got it done without a note from my mom giving me permission. I'm such a rebel!
But things were soon to change.
If you read my 100 Things post, you already got a glimpse into what happened when I was eighteen. I was living in the dorms at WMU, thinking mostly about music and guys. Fortuantely for me, God was thinking about me and while I was pursuing good times, He was pursuing me. And He knew just how to do it. Through a good looking guy!
I met Brian in my dorm. (Actually he was on my hall council committee. Brian picked my committee because he thought I was cute! I love it when he tells that story. *grin*) When Brian was working at the reception desk, I often stopped to talk with him. After awhile I began to be interested in him.
As time went on, Brian asked me if I went to church. I had grown up going to church, so I answered, "Yes." Then he asked if I'd like to go with him sometime. What could I say? Of course I wanted to go anywhere with this guy!
I was in a vocal jazz group at Western and we had our first concert coming up, so I invited Brian to attend. We went to a hockey game together. I slyly figured out a way to get him to take me shopping for decorations we needed for a hall council activity. Spending time with Brian was tons of fun. I believed I was starting to fall in love. But then Brian led me to a greater love!
He was always talking about Jesus and reading the Bible. Although I had been raised going to church and assumed that meant I was a Christian, spending time talking with and listening to Brian made me understand I was not a Christian. I believed Jesus was God, that He was sinless, that He died on the cross to pay the price for the sin of the world, and that He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. That's what I had learned all those years in church! I knew it, so I figured I was covered.
Through Brian's witness, I understood just knowing the facts - even believing them - wasn't enough. I needed to make a personal response to what He did. I needed to move from believing Jesus paid the price for the world's sin to confessing and asking forgiveness for my sin.
So the biggest event of my eighteenth year - No. Of my whole life. - was accepting Jesus as my Savior and entering into an eternal relationship with Him. Best decision I have ever made!!!!!
And here, for your viewing pleasure is a picture of Brian and I, probably taken not too long after I made that decision.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

My babies love me!

So, how was your Mother's Day? We didn't do anything "special" around my house. In fact, I spent part of my Mother's Day afternoon cleaning and painting the ceiling at a rental house we own. No breakfast in bed. No spa treatments. No dinner out at a nice restaurant. But I know my family loves me. Know how? Check out the Mother's Day card Matthew made for me...Joshua and Elizabeth made me cards in Sunday school, too.
I thought Matthew's creation was absolutely charming. I suppose his teacher instructed the kids to think about their mom and write down words that describe her. In case you can't read it, I'll tell you what it says - in first grader spelling.

Loveing so much
good looking
nise hare
good mom

The comment that really gets me is the one about nice hair. As I mentioned in my 100 Things post, I had to have all my hair shaved off in February, 2003 for brain surgery. Matthew was two and a half years old at the time and loved my long hair. When I would hold him, he would often bury his face in my hair and was constantly running his fingers through it. Matthew's attachment to my locks made me extra sad to have them shaved off.
However, a month or so after surgery when my hair was about half an inch long, Matthew started running his hand all the way around my head saying, "I like yous (rhymes with "shoes") all gone hair." I had originally planned to grow it long again, but short hair is so much easier, so this is how it's staying. Every now and then Matthew asks me, "Do you remember when you had long hair?" I thought maybe he missed it. Now I'm glad to know he thinks it's nise.
You can't see it in the picture, but Matthew also wrote, "I love you," and "XOXOXOXO" on his card for me. Elizabeth and Joshua's cards were also decorated with those sentiments. And the enthusiasm with which they gave me these greetings assures me of their sincerity. I know my kids love me.

I was talking with another mom the other day about how much it hurts when our kids tell us they hate us. Her child has been saying that to her quite a bit lately. I shared with her about the times my kids have said the same to me, and how much it hurt the day Joshua took the time to find paper and pencil so he could write it all down for me in a note. But I reminded this mom, our kids don't really hate us. When they say they do, what they really mean is they're mad at us or they don't like what we're telling them to do. (Or not do, as the case maybe.) When our kids are calm and thinking reasonably, they know they love us. I have the cards to prove it!!!
And I belive I'll hold on to them to read again on the days when my kids are upset, and saying things to the contrary.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

100 Things

When I first started blogging and reading blogs I noticed this common phrase, 100 Things, though I didn't know when or why one was supposed to post it. Then one day I came across the actual posting of someone's 100 Things and discovered, at least for her, the occasion for the subject was the 100th post. So following her lead, here for you is my 100th post, consisting of things about me - some random, some interesting(?), some thoughtful, some funny - totaling 100 and telling my story.
By the way, I know there are some of you who are lurking around my blog. That is, you read, but you have never left a comment. How about, in celebration of my 100th post, you at least say Hi in the comments and let me know you're out there. Please???

OK, introduction and begging complete. Here we go with my 100 Things!

1. I was born in Lansing, MI, September 22, 1971.
2. I grew up with my mom and dad, two brothers and a sister.
3. We also had a dog.
4. I attended Western Michigan University from 1989-1993.
5. At first, I was a music major with dreams of “making it” on Broadway someday.
6. After nine weeks I started to hate music.
7. I was only a music major for that first semester.
8. During that first semester I met a really cute guy in my dorm.
9. He asked me if I went to church.
10. I said, “Yes.” (Well, I did. I hadn’t since I was at college, but that wasn’t what he asked.)
11. He asked if I’d like to go with him sometime.
12. I thought, “Uh, you’re cute! You want me to go somewhere with you?”
13. I said, “Sure!”
14. I’d always considered myself to be a Christian.
15. This guy talked to me about Jesus.
16. I began to understand I wasn’t a Christian.
17. I needed to confess my sin and ask for Jesus’ forgiveness.
18. I needed to receive the gift of salvation He offers.
19. During my freshman year of college, that’s just what I did.
20. A few months after I graduated from WMU, I married that guy!
21. Now we have three children.
22. One girl and two boys.
23. I don’t understand boys.
24. My kids want a pet dog.
25. I don’t.
26. We’ve settled on mice for now.
27. Mice are small and caged.
28. I can handle that.
29. My daughter is trying to talk me into a rat.
30. I am not ready to go there.
31. I might go for a dog before I buy a rat.
32. Please don’t tell my daughter I just said that!
33. I used to have long hair.
34. I also used to have a whole brain.
35. That all changed in February, 2003 because…
36. When I was 13, on occasion, I started getting a funny feeling and weird pictures in my head.
37. I never said anything about it, because I was afraid people would think I’m weird.
38. When I was 23, I finally mentioned it to my doctor because the episodes were beginning to interrupt my ability to concentrate.
39. Turns out I was having seizures.
40. I started taking anti-convulsants.
41. Tegratol didn’t control the seizures and gave me arthritis.
42. Dilantin didn’t control them and made me very sleepy.
43. Lamictal didn’t bother me, but it didn’t control the seizures.
44. Keppra wasn’t helpful either.
45. After eight years of trying different drugs in various doses, with no success of seizure control, my neurologist recommended brain surgery.
46. I went through lots of testing and monitoring to find the part of my brain from where the seizures originated.
47. One of the tests involved putting one half of my brain “to sleep” at a time, to see how I would function without it.
48. That was kind of cool!
49. Finally, I had electrodes surgically implanted on my brain and was monitored in the hospital for 13 days.
50. I had to have my whole head shaved for the surgery.
51. I had a really bad reaction to the anesthesia.
52. The area around my right eye got really swollen and purple.
53. Looking at the swollenness in the mirror, along with hair stubble along the edge of the bandages, was depressing.
54. In spite of the nausea and things that depressed me, I was encouraged by many prayers, cards, and phone calls from family and friends – and some people I’d never met before.
55. Satisfied he knew where the “problem” was, the surgeon opened me back up and took out a portion of my brain about as big as the tip of your finger.
56. I haven’t missed it.
57. I’m seizure-free now.
58. For awhile, whenever I did something stupid I would say, “Hey, give me a break! I’m missing part of my brain!”
59. That excuse doesn’t work anymore.
60. I have realized the whole ordeal wasn’t about me or my seizures.
61. It was all about God being glorified.
62. I was able to share my faith with, and pray for, a lot of people I wouldn’t have encountered were it not for the tests and hospitalizations through which I had to go.
63. My family and I were able to experience His goodness through the care and love of many, many people who helped us.
64. At a time when I was very depressed, feeling bald and ugly, Jesus met me in a sweet way I’ll never, ever, ever forget.
65. I know I wouldn’t have had that experience with Him if I hadn’t gone through that trial.
66. God has taught me He uses trials in our lives for His good purposes.
67. Struggles with my children are the trials He uses most significantly in my life now.
68. For quite some time, my son told me I was the Meanest Mom in the World.
69. Loving him was hard for me to do.
70. We butted heads over and over. Daily.
71. I usually ended up yelling, and getting mad at myself for it.
72. I wanted to be a good mom, but I felt so frustrated.
73. I was often overwhelmed, wishing I could just run away.
74. Once, I sat in tears and honestly questioned God’s wisdom in giving me children.
75. Then God changed my heart.
76. He gave me the desire to change – to be more like Him.
77. But I kept getting angry and frustrated with my kids.
78. I didn’t understand how I could become more Christ-like while I was dealing with my kids.
79. I thought they were keeping me from becoming the woman I want to be – the woman God wants me to be.
80. Then God opened my eyes.
81. God showed me He uses adversity to shape us.
82. I began to understand God is using my children and my struggles as a mother to make me into the woman He wants me to be.
83. This understanding didn’t make the hard times easier, but it gave me a whole lot of HOPE!
84. I am able to look at my children now with more hope, and less hostility.
85. You can read all about this journey in my book, Confessions of an Irritable Mother.
86. Now I am a speaker for moms groups.
87. I love sharing honestly about my struggles as a mom and the hope God has given me.
88. More than that, I love hearing from other moms how God has used my sharing to give them hope and encouragement.
89. I wish we, as moms, would take our masks off and just be real with each other.
90. I don’t have things all together.
91. I am a broken, imperfect woman.
92. I am desperate.
93. I cannot “do” this mothering thing, or any of life, without God!
94. I know God is good.
95. All the time.
96. I believe He knows perfectly what is necessary in my life to refine me.
97. Though I don’t like going through the hard times,
98. I choose to trust God.
99. I am so glad He loves me.
100. I know He loves you, too!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm Liking this Prescription

A couple of months ago I started getting occasional pains in my head and some odd pressure. I mentioned it to my doctor at my annual check up. She noticed some tension in my neck and shoulder and wondered if that may be the cause. I was supposed to let her know in a week if it was still bothering me. Well, I eventually did make another appointment with her about it.
At this second appointment she was really shocked by the tension in my neck and shoulder. She stood me in front of the mirror and showed me that I'm actually *lopsided*. How is it I never noticed that? No matter. That isn't important.
What I like about this situation is the prescription she gave me...Physical therapy! I went today for my second session and guess what my PT consists of??? First I lay down with a heating pad on my shoulders for, oh, I'm guessing five to ten minutes. Then the therapist comes in and massages my neck and shoulders for about the same amount of time. Then I flip over on my back and he pulls and pushes my neck and shoulders in various directions to stretch the muscles. Finally I do some exercises he has shown me and a little work with weights. And I leave feeling sooooo relaxed.
Today my therapist said he can already see a slight improvement. He also mentioned that in his eighteen years as a physical therapist he's never seen someone as messed up as me. OK, those weren't his exact words, but I think that's what he meant.
Anyway, I'm not sure if my lopsided shoulder is the cause of my head stuff, but I sure like this physical therapy business. I'm wondering, can I fake not improving just so I can keep doing therapy three times a week???

By the way...This entry is my 99th post. That means, tomorrow I'm posting my 100 Things. I've had fun writing tomorrow's post and I hope you'll come back to read it.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Is the doctor in?

This has been a night of ups and downs and twists and turns. In other words, it was bedtime and Brian was gone. Worse yet, it was a bath night. And on top of that, I had to enforce the consequence from last night's bedtime...7:30 bedtime for the boys.
Of course they weren't happy with that move. Joshua argued that he didn't do anything wrong last night. When I reminded him of the truth he said he had stopped before I told him he was going to have an early bedtime tonight. (His sense of reality is soooo in his own favor!) Matthew was ranting about how unfair it is that adults get to make up all the rules and "boss kids around." He said he wants to be the grown up and make the rules the way he wants them. And, yes, sometimes I'd like to be the kid again. I won't bore you with all the details. I think you have a good enough picture here.
I tried to love them through this bedtime routine. I did sing for them. I did pray for them. And I did stand in their doorway, feeling like the bully they were calling me, playing guard so they would be quiet. As I stood there I reminded myself how much I don't want to wish these days away.
Yes. I am looking forward to the time when they'll get themselves ready for bed completely, and there will be no arguing or fighting to end the day. I hope they'll still want me to come into their room and kiss them and pray for them, and maybe even sing to them. (Wondering if they'll still have their favorite songs, or if that'll change.) I'm looking forward to that peace, but I don't want to live my life waiting for that day.
So as I stood guard in the doorway, my heart was heavy as I wondered how to cherish these times that are so difficult. Have you been there?
Once the boys were "settled" I got Elizabeth going on her bedtime routine. In the middle of her activity, Joshua called me into his room. "Mom, I'm sorry for yelling at you." "I love you, Joshua. I'm sorry for yelling at you, too." One sentence from that boy can lift my spirits and make me forget being upset with him.
Then I returned to Elizabeth and got her settled. With Elizabeth in bed I went to look in on the boys. Joshua was standing at his desk. (gasp! What was he doing out of bed??? I had been so clear that he was to stay in bed and remain quiet!) Then he walked over to me and gave me a piece of paper which says, I love you Mom! How does he do that??? Not half an hour earlier he was ranting and raving about how unfair I am - that I'm a bully. (He didn't hand out the Meanest Mom in the World award, though I was anticipating it.) And suddenly he's warming my heart. Grab this moment, Karen. Cherish it!!!
And so my evening went. One moment trying to keep from exploding, the other on the verge of melting. Even in the process of writing this post I have been interrupted about ten times for various complaints and problems. A couple of times for a random hug, kiss, and I love you, too.

So this is motherhood. It isn't easy, but I choose to cherish it. God has seen fit to put me here and He has never done anything wrong. When I'm about to explode, I need to remember that truth. And when I'm about to melt, I need to push the record button in my memory and cherish that moment.

OK, therapy session over. Thanks. I feel better!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Time Traveling to Sweet Sixteen

Annie has us traveling through time on Tuesdays now. This week we're re-visiting Sweet Sixteen. I just read Annie's memories of her 16th year, and admired all the cute pictures she included. You're going to have to use your imagination here, my friends.
I turned sixteen on September 22, 1987. My hair was shoulder length, parted on the side and feathered back. I think I most often wore purplish eye shadow, and pink blush and lipstick. (I'm imagining my school picture from my junior year...)Weren't the 80's great?!
Let's see, a quick Google search tells me Die Hard was in the theaters. On the one hand we had Tone Loc's Wild Thing on the radio and if you were looking for something a little easier, there was Breathe's Hands to Heaven. Ronald Reagan was the President and Iran Contra news was all over.
For me personally, I was a junior in high school, and I finally got my driver's license. Since I'm a September baby, I was one of the youngest in my class. ALL my friends got their driver's licenses when we were sophomores and I hated waiting. What made it worse is, I was born on my parents' ninth wedding anniversary. Do the math...That made my sixteenth birthday their twenty-fifth anniversary. As if that is a big deal or something, my parents went away for a week to celebrate. Since you have to have a parent with you to take your driving test, I had to wait another entire week to get my license. I thought I was going to die!
I survived.

We performed The Music Man for the fall musical. I choreographed the show and played Zaneeta - the Mayor's oldest girl. In the spring we did Godspell, which I also choreographed, and in which I played Sonya. Anyone familiar with these shows sense some type-casting?
I have often wondered how much more meaningful Godspell would've been to me if I'd been a follower of Jesus when I was in the show. Oh, I was a church-goer at the time, but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. That would come in two more years.
Also during my junior year, I was in the Madrigal Singers, the concert choir, and an extra curricular girls singing group called (appropriately) Sweet Sixteen. The concert choir traveled to Chicago to perform with other high school groups in the spring of 1988. That was lots of fun.
Pretty much, at sixteen, if I was singing or chasing boys I was happy.
How about you???

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Not Lacking in the Self-Esteem Department - AT ALL!

Matthew is my youngest child. He'll be seven in less than two weeks. YIKES!!! That's hard to believe.
When he was a toddler and my husband and I were introducing him to someone new, it was not uncommon for Matthew to approach the person and climb right up onto their lap or give them a big hug. Brian and I would usually smile and say something like, "He's really shy. We're trying to work with him on that!" He is such an outgoing little guy, and that is one of the things I love about him.

I have recently noticed another area in which I think Matthew is excelling. Let me describe the situation and see if you agree with me.
When I pick the kids up from school, Matthew is usually the first to get to the van. Since Elizabeth is the oldest (and somewhat bossy when it comes to things like seating in the van) she has eternal dibs on the front seat. However, since Matthew gets there first he usually climbs in front with me until Elizabeth arrives. With the weather being so nice recently I often have the windows rolled down, and this situation has prompted Matthew to display his self-confidence.
This is how it goes:
Matthew hops in the van and kisses me. I ask how his day was, he says, "Good!" and jumps into the front seat. Then it is as if he doesn't notice me anymore because he gets nose-to-nose with himself in the side mirror and starts saying, "Hi, Handsome! You're handsome! Wow! Look at you, Handsome!" And today he added a new one. "There isn't even one speck of un-handsome in you!"
So, tell me. Do you think I need to work with him on developiing his self-esteem???


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Out of the overflow of the heart, the fingers type

Starting with the lesson I learned earlier this week, and combining with a few other thoughts going on in this head of mine, I've been a lot more intentional about the way I'm responding to my kids lately. I don't want to waste a precious moment.
Last night was movie night at our house and I sat on the couch with the boys. There were a few "scary" parts and I loved having them snuggle up closer to me. Towards the end I was quite tired, so I decided to lay down. Joshua let me put my feet on his lap, and Matthew climbed on top of me. I kind of dozed in and out, but I think the movie ended with all the problems being resolved. Just as we expected.
After the movie, Elizabeth wanted to play a new board game she received as a birthday gift. I was nearly asleep, so I planned to stay on the couch while Brian and the kids played the game. But as I lay there, I started thinking. Am I wasting this opportunity? Why should I lay here and listen to them play? I don't want to miss these chances and regret it later. So I got up and asked if it was too late for me to join in. Of course, they welcomed me! I sat with Matthew on my lap and we played Herd Your Horses until 10:00 when it was time for everyone to go to bed.
By this time, I was really tired. The boys wanted their bedtime song sung to them, so I did that. And I tried to cherish the moment. Then I went in to say goodnight to Elizabeth and she wanted to finish a game we'd started earlier in the afternoon. I started to protest, "Honey,I'm really tired." But she looked at me (her eyes are irresistible) and I thought about what really matters, and I sat down to finish the game. (It didn't even take that long. Don't know why I felt the need to protest.) Then I kissed her and said goodnight.
And I actually slept well, and the kids were quiet when they got up this morning! That was nice.
That lesson from earlier this week, Heather, Annie, my thoughts - all are reminding me I want to live my days with purpose. I want to love my kids, and make sure they know it. I don't want to waste a moment.
So, that's on my heart today. Thanks for letting me share.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Tag! I'm it...

Coach J has tagged me for a meme. What fun! I used to hate getting tagged when I was a kid out at recess, but this time I like it.

Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!

The tricky thing about this assignment is, I just finished working on my 100 Things, since my 100th post is coming up soon. (This one is number 94.) Since I don't want to give away any of those 100 Things, I've been thinking hard to come up with seven more. Or should this be a preview??? Nah, I'm going to try for unique. Here goes!

* When I was a little girl I used to get up on Saturday mornings, get two pickles out of the refrigerator, wrap them in a paper towel, snuggle in a blanket and watch cartoons as I ate pickles for breakfast. When the pickles were gone, I would just smell the pickle juice left in the paper towel.
Weird, I know. But Coach J said something about pickles in her answers to this meme and it reminded me of my silly little habit.
* I can move my eyes independently of each other. That is, I can keep one looking straight and turn the other in toward my nose, then bring the straight one in and straighten the second.
* When I was a little girl I had a dog named Happy. But we had to have her put to sleep after she got into a fight with a forest critter and started getting mad.
* I can bend my finger at the top knuckle while keeping the bottom knuckle straight. Hmmm, is this turning into a stupid human tricks entry?
* In my lifetime I have broken my left middle finger, my right elbow, and my left knee. And as a result of various accidents and one surgery I have had somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 stitches in my head.
* Oh, this is a fun fact. It's one I often use when I play the get-to-know-ya game called Two Truths and a Lie. I have performed on the same stage as Barry Manilow. Really. I have. The truer truth is that we performed on the same stage at two totally different times.
* As a young adult, my dream used to be to "make it" on Broadway someday. Now I just want to live and glorify God on the narrow way!

Awww, that's seven already. I was just getting on a roll. Well, there's more to come in a week or so when I make it to my 100th post. Thanks, Coach J, for giving me such a great opportunity to promote my 100 Things. *wink*

In the mean time, I want to tag MomTeacherFriend, Heather, Karen, Ann, Melissa, Elizabeth, and Jen. Have fun, ladies. And let me know if you decide to play so I can come and see what you have to say!

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

God Can Handle It

Have you ever been looking forward to something, been anticipating it for months, making lots of plans, checking off your list of things-to-do to be ready, and then when the event comes around you can't believe how many things are going wrong?

That's exactly what happened to me last night!

Several months ago I was invited by my sister-in-law's MOPS group to come and speak for them today. My sil has told me so much about this group of women, how much they love God and how they've ministered to her, and I was soooo looking forward to being a part of this meeting. In order to avoid morning Detroit traffic, we planned that I would come and spend the night at my sil's house and we'd go over to the church together in the morning.
As I was getting my things together to leave last night, I realized didn't have my accompaniment CD. I sing twice during my talk, and when I was speaking Tuesday I forgot to get the CD out of the sound system before I left. I couldn't believe I had forgotten the CD! What was I going to do? I have cassettes with the tracks, but my sil told me previously her church only had a CD player in the sound system. I knew I wasn't going to sing a capella, and the songs are such an important part of my presentation I knew I didn't want to cut them. Needless to say, I was crying. Then I caught a glimpse of hope.
My sil's church is in the same city as where I'd spoken Tuesday. I figured if I called the coordinator of that other group we could arrange a way for me to get the CD from her. However, at that moment I wasn't in a very good frame of mind, so my wonderful husband called her for me. I went upstairs to get my bag and when I came back he was finishing the conversation. I thought, Well, that didn't take long. And he said, "It's a good thing you didn't make that call." He went on to explain this woman noticed I had forgotten the CD so she grabbed it and was going to mail it to me, but she was currently on vacation in Indiana! No chance of meeting up with her to get that CD.

That's when I really panicked.

I grabbed the cassettes and my boom box. Maybe we'd need to make do with that. In my heart, I knew God could handle this situation and it probably would all work out fine. But I couldn't hold back the tears that wanted to flow. (I had also just had a difficult experience with Joshua, which took waaaaay too long and left me rushing around packing my things and making dinner for Brian and the kids for tonight, since I won't be home. Plus, it's just about that time, so I'm sure PMS was playing with my emotional stability...) So, in tears, I took my things out to the van. Brian and the kids met me at the door, told me they loved me, and sent me on my way.

I was flustered but I believed God could handle things. As I drove, I sang and prayed a lot. I tried to remember what is True. God loves me - even when I'm an emotional, irrational mess. He is good - no matter what my circumstance says. He is able to do all things - even when I can only see the impossibility of a situation. Then I called my sil to tell her about the missing CD.
Ahhhh, what a breath of fresh air she is! She told me that she was pretty sure the church did have a cassette player in the sound system after all, and though they'd never used it a MOPS she was sure they'd be able to figure it out. Then she asked if I had any other problems I'd like her to solve for me. We could spend all night there! I smiled, relieved the music wasn't going to be an issue, and told her I'd see her in a little while. And on I drove, thanking God for handling this situation.

I arrived at my sil's house, and just when I thought everything was calm and settled, a new question popped into my head. Where's my bag? I was getting out of the van and I saw my outfit that I was going to wear for speaking, and my bag with all my notes and other speaking things, but where was my bag with all my other stuff? My shirt, shoes, earrings, make-up, toothbrush, and all those other essentials? I couldn't believe it! When Brian and the kids had met me at the door, I completely forgot to grab that bag. I thought I was all done with fires for tonight!
I tried to evaluate how important all that stuff was. My sil suggested I could go barefoot at the meeting. I could use her make-up. I thought about it, didn't want to do the barefoot thing, and then I realized I really did need that shirt! The thought of driving all the way back home seemed crazy, so I called my husband to see if he would meet me half-way. Of course, by now you know I have the best husband in the world, and he was more than willing to do that for me.
As I stood there on the phone with him, exhausted from not sleeping well the night before, my mother-in-law piped up and said she'd drive out to meet him. Do I have the best family, or what??? So they picked a meeting spot, and arranged to put out another one of my fires.

This morning when I woke up, I breathed in deeply and thanked God that His mercies are new every morning. My bag was in the hallway, so I hopped into the shower and was extra thankful when I got to put on my own deoderant, make-up, shirt and shoes. I remembered again that God wasn't in a panic last night when I walked out of the house without that bag, or Tuesday when I left the church without my CD. He knew it all would happen, and He was all over it!

What really brought me joy was to see how He was all over the MOPS meeting this morning. Yes, the details of the cassette deck working and the Power Point operating properly were great. But as I spoke and looked out across the room at other moms, some in tears and others just nodding their heads in understanding, I thanked God for bringing these women and for speaking to their hearts.
After the meeting, I loved hearing stories of how God had encouraged these women through my talk. I was able to pray with some of them. Again, I was thankful that God uses the hard times we go through to bring hope and encouragement to others who are going through the same thing. He knows just what He is doing, and I love that He can handle every situation.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Praying for Heather

OK, I'm in tears as I write.
Perhaps you are familiar with Heather. Her surgery is tomorrow, and last night I learned there is a 24/7 prayer effort being organized for her. I just now read her most recent post, and that is what brought me to tears. Heather's faith is beautiful, and I join her in praying that many, many people will come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as a result of her situation and testimony.
This morning I was praying God would cover Heather and her family with a peace they cannot explain or understand, except that it comes from Him. I see in her post, He has done that. Praise Him!
If you would like to join in the prayer effort which Kelli is organizing, you can indicate your commitment by going here.
Thanks for covering this dear sister in prayer!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

This morning I spoke for a group of moms. The women were warm and welcoming, and I always love speaking, but it was what happened after I spoke that was remarkably good.
The coordinator of the group was in tears as she shared about a very hard time she and her husband are going through with their oldest daughter. I'll skip the details, except to say this mom reminded us to stay focused on what's important. She said, "It doesn't matter if they don't eat all their peas. It doesn't matter if they go outside in an outfit that doesn't match." She pleaded with us to love our kids and not get hung up on and bent out of shape over things that really don't matter. In the end she affirmed the fact she still has hope in God, and knows He will use even this very difficult situation for His ultimate good.
Her words about staying focused on what's important have stayed with me all day. Though I am sorry for the pain she is going through right now, I am glad for her willingness to share, and the wisdom which has been resounding in my mind.

When I got home, I heard a message from Matthew's teacher on the answering machine. He wasn't behaving well today. It makes me angry when he does this. He knows better! His teacher is such a dear woman, and she doesn't need to put up with his shenanigans. Oh, yes. I would certainly be having a talk with him after school! I think it was the words from that mother this morning (used by the Holy Spirit) that helped me to respond wisely, rather than how I'd initially thought to.
After dinner, Joshua wanted to sit on my lap so I scooted back and made room for him. Matthew was on Brian's lap and we started playing Pokey Torture. It's a silly game where one of the kids says, "Pokey Torture on." Then the adults poke the kid on their lap all over (emphasizing sides and arm pits!) until one of the kids calls out, "Pokey Torture off!"
When that game was over, Joshua and I got into a Wet Willy War. (You know what a Wet Willy is, don't you? It's when you put your finger in your mouth and then stick it in someone's ear. I know. I'm so childish and gross!) Anyway, it started with Joshua trying to give me one. But I, being the stronger of the two, (for a couple more years) grabbed his wrists and tried to make him give himself the treat. We carried on for several minutes. I was successful in getting Joshua's fingers into his mouth, but he managed to keep them out of his ears. Anyway, we were laughing and having poor table manners, but it was fun.
Then after dinner the kids cleared the table and I was getting ready to wash the dishes. Joshua came into the kitchen with a long face saying, "You said there was going to be enough time for Elizabeth and I to go to the park." I looked at him and said, "Yeah?" And he said, "It's a dishes night." (On non-bath nights, it is Elizabeth and Joshua's job to wash the dishes.) I had completely forgotten about them doing the dishes when I told him they'd be able to go to the park after dinner.
But then those words from this morning came back to me and I thought, I can make an exception, can't I? So I told him I would do the dishes tonight and the two of them could go to the park and play.
Oh, how many times I have wanted to say, (and sometimes I have said...)"When I was a kid, Aunt Kimmy and I did the dishes every night. No questions. No complaints." My kids don't realize how good they have it!
But tonight I just wanted them to enjoy being kids. And if you could have seen the look on their faces, and heard the tone of their voices when they thanked me for doing the dishes for them. I'm telling you, those two things made it all worth it!

I am not posting about this series of events so I'll get comments telling me what a great mom I am. I fail miserably, and if you've been around here long enough you've read about some of my failures.
Rather, I am reflecting on this day and the words I heard this morning in hopes that you and your kids will benefit from the hard lessons of a fellow mom.
Now, go hug your kids!!!

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