Friday, August 31, 2007

Nice Mom? Ya Think???

Thank you for the comments about me being a nice mom for letting the kids bring Lucky into our house. My "kind" act may seem a little less remarkable when I tell you the kids already have pet mice, so I'm used to them. (And, yes, I do hold them on occasion, and I even think they're cute!)

The ironic thing is, for most of the day today I have been feeling far from "nice." Maybe because I stayed up too late last night and had a headache for most of the day. Maybe because I took the kids with me on errands this morning and one or the other of them was constantly complaining or wandering off in another direction. Maybe because my husband has been working long hours this week and I'm tired of feeling like a single parent. (How do you single moms do it???) Or perhaps it's because I just moved into a new house, things are still kind of a mess and my emotional wick is shorter than usual.
Whatever the reason, for most of the day today I have been pretending to be nice. That is, I have been trying to behave contrary to my feelings. This is the kind of day when I have to take frequent deep breaths, when I rely on a lot of self-talk like, Relax, Karen. It isn't really a big deal, and when I must regularly remind myself of what is True.
Honestly, there were times today when I felt like the most rotten person on planet Earth. These kids are great. They are gifts. I am blessed to have three healthy children! How can I possibly be so irritated with them? What's wrong with me??? And so I battle with myself, fighting between who I am and who I long to be.
Over the past few mornings I have been reading about the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, marveling at His perfect love. He was betrayed and abandoned by His closest friends, yet His love never faltered. He was mistreated and ridiculed, but He never turned His back on those He came to save. I want to be like Him. I've had a line from a song running through my head lately, I'm so tired of me. Jesus, I want to be like You! Yes, that is my heart's desire.

I have my first speaking engagement of the year coming up Tuesday night. It's been three and a half months since I've spoken and I am so looking forward to getting back into it. The thought did cross my mind today, Perhaps God, in His goodness, is allowing me to have a day like today in order that I might be more ready to relate with the women to whom I'll be speaking next week. He is always working things out for His good purposes and perfect plan. It wouldn't surprise me if He were up to something good today.
Yes, even in the midst of my yuck, He is still good. I am so thankful God's goodness is not affected by my circumstance. Aren't you?

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not So Lucky

Do you remember Button? A few months ago Joshua rescued a fallen baby bird, and in spite of the fact I told him I thought it would die without it's mother, we took care of that baby and took it to a wildlife rescue center.
Well, Monday the kids went up to the playground at the boys' school and came home with another critter. Joshua was out of breath as he walked into the house and addressed each of my objections before I could even voice them. He ended with, "And remember, you didn't think Button would live, and we took care of her! So, can we keep it?"
It was a baby mouse they'd found at the playground, abandoned by its mother. I looked at the fire in his eyes, listened to the passion in his voice, and thought about Button. What could I say? "What are you going to name it?"
It's name was Lucky because Joshua said the baby mouse was lucky the kids had found it. Cute.
Joshua got out the heating pad to make a bed for Lucky and Elizabeth got online to research "how to care for a baby mouse with fur, whose eyes are not yet open." We went to the store and bought sweetened condensed milk and the kids nursed the orphan carefully. Once again, I loved seeing their compassion on display.
Lucky was with us for a couple days, but he died yesterday. Not so Lucky, I guess. Nonetheless, it was another good experience for the kids and I'm glad they got to experience it.

Lucky is just another of the various creatures we've had in our new home. Joshua had caught one butterfly which he wanted for the bug board he's making. He didn't want to kill it right away so I let him keep it in his room until it died. Then a friend of ours told Joshua he'd found a walking stick at his house, and Joshua asked if he could have it. So Twiggy was added to the mix. Then he found another butterfly. Those three have all since died and have been carefully tacked to the bug board.
The one living creature which remains (in a cage!) is a praying mantis. The day Joshua found Ring we were up at the playground and I watched Joshua stalking a grasshopper. He leaped for it, caught it, smiled at me and said, "Lunch!" Sure enough, when we came home Joshua put the (live) grasshopper in the cage and we watched Ring eat lunch. That's quite a sight.
I suppose if Joshua stops catching gourmet bugs for Ring, he'll become part of the bug board some day. Until then he'll remain a fattened bug. (And I'm glad he finally ate the cricket. I was getting tired of the chirping!)

Yes, I live in a zoo. There's never a dull moment!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Kid at Heart

Our new house is about half a mile from the boys' elementary school and the kids have loved taking advantage of the sidewalk that goes the whole way from our house to school. They ride their bikes up and enjoy the playground. One of Joshua's greatest joys has been the small collection of fire crackers he has gathered at the playground which someone else left behind.
Today one of Joshua's friends came over to play and Joshua was anxious for Brian to get home because he wanted his friend to be able to see the fire crackers explode. When it looked as if Brian wasn't going to be home before his friend left, Joshua begged me to light a fire cracker. I did, the boys squealed with delight, and I enjoyed their response. Then Brian got home and the real show began.
Joshua ran up to Brian and asked him to pleeease light more fire crackers, which he readily agreed to. Matthew joined them outside, so Brian and the three boys yelled with excitement as another cracker exploded. With the next *bang* there was laughter and I learned it was because the noise scared a squirrel in the back yard so much that it jumped, dropped its walnut, and ran in the other direction. At that, the boys called Elizabeth and her friend up to see the show, and Brian came into the kitchen where I was making dinner. (And watching the show through the window!)
Brian saw an empty soup can on the counter, grabbed it and said, "Perfect!" Just as quickly as he'd appeared, Brian was back outside with his little following right by his side. I heard him say, "Now we'll make a rocket!"
Leaning over the counter and peering out the window, I saw what he was up to. Brian had put the can over the fire cracker, with just the wick peering out from underneath. With the kids safely behind him (I'm sure he knew his over-protective-always-worried-someone-will-get-hurt-are-you-sure-you-should-be-doing-this?-wife was watching!) Brian lit the wick and jumped back for 3-2-1-Blast off! The fire cracker exploded, the can flew into the air, and all the observers hollered with delight. I can't say for sure, but I think the "kid" who experienced the greatest amount of pleasure in seeing the "rocket" take flight was none other than my beloved husband.
Yes, this evening I believe I caught a glimpse of Brian when he was nine years old. It was wonderful!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Awww, Thanks!

Over the past couple of weeks, both Karen at Karen's Ramblings and Shawna at Scamp's Place told me they'd nominated me for an award. They told me to come check it out when I wasn't busy. I'm hardly settled in the new place, so I don't think I qualify as not busy, but I checked them out anyway. So glad I did!

Both Karen and Shawna think I'm nice.

I couldn't figure out how to copy the cute award icon, but this is what the award said:

This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people, good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world!

Thanks so much, Karen and Shawna. I'm glad to know someone thinks I'm nice. (And, oh, the irony. I just told Matthew he can't have a snack so now he's yelling at me about how I'm so unfair and mean.) Yup, I really needed your encouragement today! LOL

I know I'm supposed to pass this award on to other nice bloggers, and I do know there are so many who are deserving. I hope you'll forgive me as I "drop the ball" on this one, though. Things are still quite crazy around here and I honestly don't have the emotional energy to put into it now.

Please know I love you all and appreciate how *nice* you've been to me over the past weeks with your prayers and words of encouragement!

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Good to be Back

Time is such a funny thing. I can't believe it was just a week ago at this very moment we were moving into this house. In some ways it seems like so much has happened and I'm sure more than seven days have passed. In other ways I don't even feel like I'm moved in yet, so the fact we have been living here for a week seems impossible.
But we are here. And we have a new digital camera. So come along with me and I'll show you around a bit!

Last time, I told you about my spice rack...Here it is!
I love the kitchen. It has so much cupboard space! In our old house I had a "pantry" in the basement. That is, I had two racks of metal shelves in the basement, on which I stored extra food and paper products because the kitchen was so small. In this house I still have a cupboard I haven't filled yet.
And the oven is great, too. It actually beeps at me when it has finished pre-heating so I know it's ready to bake. I'm telling you, simple things make me happy. Like alphabetically stored spices!

The kitchen goes right into the family room. We had a fireplace in our first house, and I'm glad we have one again. Cold winter days are somehow more bearable when you can light a fire in the fireplace.
Right now the family room is pretty empty though. We had one family room in our old house which was quite full with a couch, glider, end table, TV and bookshelf. Now we have a family room and a living room and have split the furniture between the two, for two fairly empty rooms.
On the upside, with wood floors and not much furniture the family room has great acoustics. (like my shower!) Random fact about me: Barry Manilow is my favorite secular recording artist. So I have thoroughly enjoyed playing Barry's CD Singin' with the Big Bands while I'm singing and dancing around the empty family room.

This is a picture of the bar in our basement. Honestly, this feature is what "sold" me on the house. It's a fun place for the kids and we have all enjoyed sitting here playing games together. I have taught my kids the card game called Speed, which I grew up playing with my sister. As an incentive for the kids to get ready for bed quickly, I tell them we can have Speed Tournaments at the bar if everyone is ready on time. That form of motivation has been quite effective!
Elizabeth and her friend spent time turning this area into the "Pinto Ranch Bar" and served everyone lunch here. It was really cute.

Finally, this picture was taken from the room in the basement next to the bar, looking into the room containing the bar. From this view you can see the doorway to the room which will be our office and guest bedroom. (You're welcome to visit anytime!) From this view you can also see one of the reasons I'm so excited about having a finished basement. Those round red, blue and green things are bouncy balls my mil got my kids for Christmas last year. The kids love them, but whenever all three of them started bouncing around I was always afraid one of two things was going to happen. Either they would crash into the bookshelf and send things flying, or they would break through the floor and end up in the basement. Now they can bounce around as much as they want with no worries on my part! Ahhh. *heavy sigh*
So there you have it. A quick (albeit incomplete) tour of my new digs. Guess you'll have to come visit if you want to see the whole thing. How's that for bribery? *grin*

We got phone and internet service here Thursday, so I'm feeling a little more connected. (Literally.) I'll be around to visit your blogs soon and will be posting here on a more regular basis, too.
Ahhh, yes, it's good to be back!

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Monday, August 20, 2007

We're In!

This is gonna be real quick, but I wanted to let you know the latest.

We successfully got everything out of our old house Saturday and put in the new one. (Notice I said "put in" and not "put away"!)

We won't have internet service there until Thursday. I'm at our old house now, where everything is still hooked up.

Two cool things I discovered at the new place:
1. I have a spice rack in the cupboard which allows me to arrange my spices alphabetically. The house is chaos, but I know right where my spices are.
2. My new shower has awesome acoustics!

I miss you all and hope to get back to normalcy and blog reading within a week.

Loving Jesus,

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Checking In

I only have a few minutes until I need to leave for church, but this may be the last opportunity I have to be at my computer for the next week. I wanted to check in real quick to let you all know I'm still alive and the boxes haven't swallowed me up. Yet.

It's been a crazy week, with some anxious moments. But God delivered words of life through a dear friend's email just when I needed them.

The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even forevermore. Psalm 121:8
He is so good that way, and I love that He knows just what I need.

We're heading out of town this afternoon and will return Friday - to close on our new house and enroll the kids in their new school. Then, Saturday, we move. I've read some of your horror stories about getting internet in your new abode and am prepared to be missing it for awhile. However, there is a WiFi coffee shop "just around the corner" from where we'll be living. Nonetheless, it may be awhile until I post again.

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement for me through this process.

I love you!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Can I Have a...?

OK, is it "cheating" if I post another entry from the book I'm writing? I wanted to post something for you today but we're moving, you know...So I'm going with something I've already written. I pray you'll be blessed.

Can I Have a...?
My children love animals. They always have. Whether it’s some exotic species at the zoo, horses in a field by which we’re driving, or simply squirrels in the back yard, my kids will stop what they’re doing and look up immediately whenever someone says, “Look! It’s a…!” They just love God’s furry creatures.
When they were quite small my kids began wanting a pet, but I had always felt we weren’t ready for one. One day I realized they were outside catching bugs, putting them in containers, naming them, and calling the bugs their pets. Yes, they were resorting to bugs for companions! Oh, I thought, I really need to let them have a pet.
In time, we were in a pet store and I fell in love with the mice. Call me crazy if you wish, but I really did fall in love! At Christmas time the next year, we added pet mice to our family. The kids loved these little critters. They played with them, cleaned their cages and cared for them. And for awhile they were satisfied. Eventually, though, their minds began to wander. They began to want more.
This wanting was especially true of Elizabeth. She began asking for various new pets. A guinea pig. A hermit crab. Perhaps a lizard. She talked about which cage from the attic she could use, so she could get a new pet without buying a new cage. Sometimes she asked about getting books to study about the animals so as to be more knowledgeable and ready to care for said pet. I know, this behavior all seems very responsible and admirable but after I’d just gotten her a mouse I was hoping she’d be content with it. I was getting tired of this new line of questioning.
One particular day she was asking me how much I thought a hermit crab would cost at the pet store. “Honey, I have no idea,” was my reply. Elizabeth stated, “I think they’re probably only $1, since the mice are only $2, and hermit crabs are smaller than mice.” And she asked me again for my opinion. Slightly wary of the conversation, I just said, “I don’t know!”
Then my sweet little, persistent daughter looked at me with her big eyes and asked, “Mom, can I get a hermit crab?”
I looked back at her, a bit exasperated and just thought, Ugh! You wanted a pet and I got you a pet. Now you keep asking me for another pet. And you want me to tell you how much a hermit crab costs. I’m telling you, I don’t know! But that isn’t good enough for you. And now you want to know if I’ll buy you a hermit crab? Girl, you ask too many questions!
When I finished my internal tirade, it was as if God held a mirror up to my face and asked if I could see any similarities between my daughter and me. Oh, they were there! Besides the blue-green eyes, the brown hair, and the charming smile, I saw a woman who asks an awful lot of questions.
God, what should I do in this situation?
That woman really hurt me. How am I supposed to forgive her?
When is this trial going to be over?
I’m so confused, Lord. Will you please lead me through this valley?
Why does mothering have to be so hard?
Do You really know what You’re doing here?
God, why do I have to go through this situation?

Then I looked at the difference between my response to my daughter’s questions, and God’s response to mine. God doesn’t get bothered by my questions. When I ask Him things, He never says, “I don’t know!” He is perfectly willing to listen to me as I share my uncertainties with Him, and He never gets tired of the conversation. Rather, He looks at me and loves me while I’m asking. I pondered this picture for awhile and thought, How thankful I am that God doesn’t tire of my questions! Even when I ask the same ones over and over again.
Can you wrap your mind around the wonder of God’s patience? Although we may grow weary of our children peppering us with inquiries, He is not like us. He knows the concerns and desires of our hearts. He knows the questions filling our minds. None of it is news to Him, yet God patiently and lovingly listens to our requests. Over and over again. And in His perfect time He will give us His answer.

Your Turn:
Is there a question, or questions, you have been asking God repeatedly?
Do you think He gets tired of you asking, or that He patiently and lovingly listens?
Make a list of the questions burdening you today and present them to God. Spend time in prayer thanking Him for listening to you, for loving you, and for answering in His perfect time. Ask Him to speak to your heart and spend time just listening to Him. Perhaps today is the day He will give you some of the answers you have been seeking.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

I'm Overwhelmed, but God is Good!

OK, Overwhelm is setting in.

First, we thought we were going away for a week (for hubby's job, but also good family time worked in) then coming home, closing on the new house and moving. Then we found out we had the dates wrong and wouldn't be going away until one week later. That change caused a few other changes but it gave us an extra week to pack, and that seemed good. Now, we've gotten the closing date moved up and are anticipating moving one week from today, before we leave for that week.
The decision to schedule things in this way was really an attempt to choose the lesser of two very stressful options. I hope we chose right!

There is so much going through my mind that most days lately, when I wake up I lay in bed for a minute just trying to figure out what day it is and running through a list of What do I need to do today?

So what am I doing blogging? Lunch break and the need to decompress. It always helps me gain perspective when I put my thoughts into words.

I am remembering in the midst of packing and wondering what to keep, what to throw away, and Where should I put this? Jesus is still good. He is not thrown off balance by my stress. He is my Rock. Oh, how I need Him!
A few nights ago I got the coolest image in my head. I truly don't know if I was dreaming or awake because I was in and out of sleep so many times. But this is what I saw: A very large hand, and little tiny yellow suitcases softly stacking up on the thumb. It was as if the hand was God's and the suitcases were all my burdens. (Did we choose right? What if Fitness Together doesn't take off? What if there are no kids near us in the neighborhood? Will our house sell? and on and on...) And it was like God was reminding me my burdens are not too difficult for Him. I don't need to worry. I just need to trust!

Even as I'm sitting here typing this out, God is speaking! I'm listening to and typed in Kathy Troccoli as my favorite artist. As I was beginning to type out my burdens, KT's song He Will Make a Way started playing. I love it when He does that!!!

So, break time is over. God is so good. And I'm getting back to packing!

Thanks so much for your prayers and words of encouragement to me. I so appreciate them all.

Much love,

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Joy in Jesus

Ahhhh! I just had a wonderful time with the Lord and before I start on the rest of my day I want to take a minute to share with you.
I was reading John 11:1-45. Three times in the first three verses, it says Lazarus is sick.(Now a man named Lazarus was sick...This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick..."Lord, the one you love is sick.") I read over it a couple of times and thought, OK, Lazarus was definitely sick. I've got that. My mind went to so many people I know of who are sick right now and I began to pray for little Allie, big Allie, Izzy, Micah, Chloe, Ron, Heather, and Andrea. I realized and thanked God that he knows each one is sick, He knows what they need, and He loves them. As I reflected on Jesus' calm response to Lazarus' situation I thanked Him for His power and sovereignty in each of these other situations, too.
I considered Martha's faith, "'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'" (v.21-22) And I prayed for the families surrounding these individuals. I asked God to cover them with His Spirit, to build their faith and to give them confidence in His perfect plan and perfect timing.
When I read about Jesus calling Lazarus out of his grave, I prayed and asked Him to call these individuals out of their sicknesses. And I sat praising and thanking Jesus for His power and His perfect plan. He knew just what He was doing when he delayed going to Lazarus. The whole situation was for His glory (v. 4). So I prayed that He be glorified because of little Allie, big Allie, Izzy, Micah, Chloe, Ron, Heather, and Andrea.

I am so full of joy this morning because of Who Jesus Is and because of what He can do, and I just wanted to share it with you!!!

Now it's time to eat, shower, and get back to packing.

Have a blessed day!

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