Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Recently Holy Mama created a post she called Snapshot, which I thought was a lot of fun. So, I decided to put my own snapshot of what's going on in my head here. Care to join me?

Reading: Fair is the Rose, by Liz Curtis Higgs
Song stuck in my head: Happy, by Aisha Woods
Verse that spoke to me today: "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." Matthew 27:65 No matter what we do, we can't prevent God from performing a resurrection!
Planning: a spring break trip to Washington, D.C.
Wishing: Friday would get here soon, cuz I can't wait for Kathy Troccoli to come and lead our women's conference at church.
Considering: when and how to have "the talk" with my daughter (She just started wearing a training bra...)
Thankful: that God loves me in spite of who I am and what I do.
Heart's desire: to follow the path God creates for me, not to make my own.
Life goal: to be a reflection of Jesus to my children.
Challenge: Pick at least 3 of the above categories and leave your answer in the comments!

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Look Out Below!

Now that was fun! Totally, completely, seriously fun!
My toes froze, my nose ran like a faucet, and my fingers are still numb enough that I keep making errors by hitting the wrong keys. (OK, maybe that's just a reflection of poor typing skills!) But we went sledding again this afternoon, and I'm telling you, I had a blast!
Last time we went sledding I told you it was cold and icy. No way! Today was cold and icy. In fact, almost the entire hill was covered with ice. Only one corner (Do hills have corners? This one does.) was walkable. Everything else was ice covered and you simply couldn't walk up it. But let me tell you, you sure could slide down it. And fast!

This morning before we left for church, Joshua asked me, "Mom, can we go sledding today?" "I don't know," was my non-committal, looking for space, on the edge of being selfish answer. Inside I was saying, "No. I don't want to!" and "Yes. I should probably say 'Yes.'" But I had bought myself time with my non-committal answer.
Once at church, I took the kids to their classes and went to my post as a second grade teacher. We are finishing up a series on servanthood and had a great lesson about doing things for other people. What was God bringing to my mind as I was asking the girls, "What can you do this week to serve the people around you?" Sledding, of course!
Our activity to apply the lesson was to make a "Servanthood Coupon" upon which we wrote something specific we would do for an individual. Then we were to present the coupon and do that thing. As I was explaining the coupon to the girls, I told them about Joshua's request this morning and told them I was going to make a sledding coupon for him.

After church I picked the kids up and Elizabeth gave me a coupon she'd made for me. I opened up my Bible and said, "Somewhere in here I have a coupon for someone, too!" I found it and gave it to Joshua, and I wish you could have seen the look in his eyes. He let out a little squeal, I assured Elizabeth and Matthew that they could come sledding, too, and then we all made our way toward the exit. On the way, Joshua saw one of his friends and said, "Look what my mom gave me!" He was so excited. His reaction to the coupon was more "reward" than I had ever hoped to receive.
So we got home, changed our clothes, ate lunch, bundled up, and went to the sledding hill. And, I'm telling you, we all had a great time. The kids went down on their bellies - without sleds, cause it was so icy you didn't need them. Sometimes we went down in a train/blob. My husband and I rode together. I even tried the side with the jump. Once.

And I 'm reminded again, there is joy in saying "No" to myself. It doesn't always happen this way. Sometimes I do what the kids want and I simply grin and bear it as I plod through the activity, smiling politely when they ask, "Are you having fun, Mom?" And I breathe a heavy sigh of relief when we're finished, thinking, "OK. I made it through that one." But sometimes, like today, I really have fun. And I'm thankful for my kids and that God is working through them to rid me of selfishness.
Sometimes the refining fire is hot and, yes, painful. In spite of the pain, I am thankful God knows perfectly what is needed in my life for Him to make me into the woman He wants me to be. And I'm grateful for the times like today when the fire doesn't even hurt, when I actually have fun by not being selfish.
Really, I've been home for over an hour now and my toes are still cold. But I haven't had that much fun in a very long time!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Being Real

I really enjoy having a blog. I love having a place where I can share my life and thoughts. When my editor first told me about blogging, she talked to me about using it to “get the word out” about my book. But, like so many other things in my life, I had no idea what it would become.
As I think about what I want this place in cyberspace to be, I imagine it being a place where readers are uplifted. I want to offer hope and encouragement, particularly to other moms, but really to anyone who happens by. I love reading the musings and experiences of others in the blogosphere, and I want my space to be a nice place to visit, too.
However, as I was making my way through the day today, this blog post was troubling me. Honestly, today had some very rough spots in it and I kept thinking, “Yuck. I can’t blog about this!” I was feeling quite down. Nothing “uplifting” was flowing from my creative juices.
The problem is, one of my life goals is to be real. I have spent enough time trying to be who I think others expect me to be, and I’m done with that. So, what’s a blogger to do? How can I be both real and uplifting when I'm having a rotten day?

When my circumstances are good, it’s easy to be uplifting.
When funny things happen in my family, it’s easy to be funny in my blog.
When the kids are cute and adorable, it’s easy to inspire with precious stories.

When we’re fighting over homework,
When Matthew is telling me I’m mean and bossy,
When he’s fussing and demanding way too much of my attention,
When I’m just getting dinner in the oven and it’s after 6:00,
When I’m questioning my adequacy at being a mom and homemaker,
When my circumstances stink…it’s hard to be the uplifting encourager I want to be.

So I put in one of my favorite CDs and listen to “The Voice of Truth” (by Casting Crowns) and I remind myself of what is True.
I remind myself that, even though my circumstance at the moment stinks, Jesus hasn’t changed.
I thank Him because He doesn’t change from day to day or moment to moment, and that I can trust Him to carry me through my hard times just as He does through the good times.
I thank Him that the apparent “goodness” of my circumstance has no impact on the reality of His eternal goodness.
And I realize, even in my brokenness, I can be an encourager. I don’t need to point to my circumstance. I can point to Jesus!!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Candy for breakfast?

My alarm went off, as usual, at 6:00 this morning. I'd been mostly awake since about 4:00, though. That's OK. It seems God wanted me to be praying. So I spent most of my waking moments in prayer about the women's conference coming up at my home church. Have I mentioned how excited I am that Kathy Troccoli is coming? And how much I hope the sanctuary is filled with women? That is my prayer.

Anyway, I rolled out of bed, donned my robe and slippers, and opened my bedroom door. Usually I look in on a sleeping Joshua and Matthew and give Joshua the option of getting up now or waiting until 6:40. (Sometimes he likes to get up early so he can play on the computer before he goes to school. Hey, whatever works!) This morning, though, when I looked into their room Joshua was already awake. He said, "Here, Mom. I got this for you last night," and he handed me a Reese's peanut butter cup which he'd taped to the side of his bed.
Joshua knows Reese's are my favorite kind of candy and yesterday when he was going over to the community center he told me he was going to get me one, but honestly, I'd forgotten. (I received a phone call from the coordinator of a MOPS group Monday evening, whose speaker for their Tuesday night meeting was nowhere to be found. I checked it out with Brian and determined I could fill in, so before Joshua arrived home with my treat I was on my way to speak.) So it really was a pleasant surprise for me this morning when he gave me the candy bar.

Besides giving me something sweet on which to feast, it also gave me something sweet on which to dwell. Whenever Joshua does something like this, I am reminded of his tender heart. In spite of the times he brings me to my knees in tears, Joshua really is a precious boy. He thinks about the feelings of others (OK, not always, but sometimes is better than never!) and he loves to make people happy. I don't fully understand Joshua, and sometimes loving him is a choice I make and takes serious effort. But I am thankful for moments like this morning when I get a glimpse of his tender heart and am reminded he's a precious boy.
Surely, I am not the only mother who struggles with loving her kids sometimes. I wonder, what are the things your kids do which remind you how precious they are, and which renew your love for them?

OK, now I need to go eat breakfast, because this candy bar sitting at my side is calling my name and I cannot (in good conscience) eat it before breakfast!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Who's on First?

Ann Kroeker writes a blog which I enjoy reading. We were chuckling over e-mail recently that we seem to be thinking some of the same thoughts, and she commented, "Great minds think alike?" (I was honored that she assumed I have a great mind!) Well, it seems to have happened again. Today as I was reading her blog I thought, "This is exactly what I'm dealing with right now!"
She spoke of the conflict we face when we want to put first things first. For Ann and I, the struggle comes from wanting to put our families first, and our writing first, and our...You get the idea. There's a clash.

I'm coming to understand it really comes down to putting others first. I just finished writing an article about saying "Yes" to my kids more often. I won't re-hash the whole thing here, but the bottom line is I'm making a decision to say "No" to myself and "Yes" to them.
Funny how God gives us ample opportunity to put into practice the good decisions we make. That is, the decisions that cause us to grow, to say "no" to self, you know, the ones that go against our sin nature.
Just this morning I was sitting down to check my e-mail when my kids started asking me for things. (Did I say "started"? Check that, they started before I'd even gotten out of bed!) One wanted to invite a friend over, which I agreed to, but the friend couldn't come. Then they wanted to invite over the neighbor kids to play, and I agreed to that as well. It continued...

"Mom, can I have a snack?"
"What do you want?"
"An apple."

"Mom, can I have a snack?"
"What do you want?"
"A granola bar."

Hmmm, this saying "Yes" thing isn't really so hard.

"Mom, will you take us sledding?"
What? Can't you see I'm trying to get my own thing done here? Sledding is simply not on my agenda. I don't want to go sledding. I want to do what I want to do - not what you want to do.

Saying "yes" was easy when I could say it without having to put someone else first. It was easy when I could say it and stay in my chair, doing what I wanted to do. But one of the things I've decided to do is this: If I can't think of an unselfish reason to say "No," I'm going to say "Yes." And since all my reasons for saying "No" were clearly selfish, I said "Yes" to sledding.
My neighbor has her nieces and nephew for the weekend, so the two of us took two vans and nine kids and went to the local sledding hill. It was cold. It was icy. It was very cold. It was fast. It was a lot of fun!!!
Besides truly having a good time - enjoying racing down the hill on a piece of plastic with one of various kids between my legs - going sledding brought me joy. It brought me joy to say "No" to myself and to put my kids first. Those of you who've heard me speak at a MOPS group know I admit I'm a selfish person by nature, so it brings me joy to do unselfish things. It's almost like I'm winning a battle over the parts of me I don't like. (Take that, you selfish nature! Die!!!)
Now, if it were only easy for me to be unselfish. Ahhh, I don't think that'll be happening this side of heaven! So, I'll keep asking myself, "Who's on first?"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What a great day!

What a day this has been,
What a rare mood I'm in,
Why it's almost like being in love!

Oh, excuse me. I was just re-visiting my high school days when we performed the musical "Brigadoon." Aye, lass, those were great times!
But I have had a great day today, and it does make me feel like breaking out in song. (Except that I'm sitting in a coffee shop right now and I fear people would look at me quite strangely. So I'll try to contain myself.)
I spoke to a MOPS group this morning and enjoyed spending the hour and twenty minute drive praying and singing to Jesus. The women at the meeting were incredibly kind and receptive to me, and God ministered HOPE to many of them. They shared with me that God must've known they needed to be at MOPS this morning because of the obstacles He overcame to get them there.
I'm speaking on this side of the state again tomorrow, so instead of driving back to Lansing today and coming back again tomorrow, I'm spending the night with the woman who edited my book. We're going to have dinner together in just a short while. I've spent the afternoon in this nice little coffee shop working on my taxes, catching up on e-mail and reading blogs, and doing some writing. Ahhhh, it's been a lovely day!

Some days are harder. I get stressed, and sometimes depressed. But today I'm thanking God for a break, for encouragment and peace. And I'm remembering He's just as good on my bad days as He is on my good ones. I love that about Him...He never changes. He's always good. He's always worthy of my praise!

Monday, January 15, 2007

They're Tired. (But God isn't!)

They're tired. They're tired. They're tired.

This statement has been my mantra for the past few hours.

My mother-in-law came to Lansing yesterday, rented a room in a hotel with an indoor pool, and took my kids overnight. They swam all afternoon and evening yesterday, stayed up late with Grandma, got up and swam some more this morning, then came home for Joshua's "family birthday party." My mother-in-law warned us when she brought them back that they'd need to go to bed early tonight.
Everyone made it through the day OK. The kids and I went shopping for about an hour this afternoon, and they were quite well-behaved for our trip. However, when we got home and I was making dinner, well let's say I came to agree that bed time would be early tonight.
When I made the declaration about bedtime, Elizabeth said, "Good. I want to go to bed early tonight." Hmmmm, that was easy. But Matthew started crying and protested (read with a whiny tone), "But I'm not tired!!!" Right, and you'll probably jump out of bed and hug me when I wake you up for school tomorrow. As we moved through complaining about getting the table set for dinner, settling down to eat, and coming to an agreement that a small serving of cake and ice cream was adequate for dessert, since they also had cake and ice cream after lunch, I continued my mantra. They're tired. They're tired. They're tired.
Reminding myself about their condition really did help me not get so upset with them. They're behavior was annoying, but I tried to extend grace because their little bodies were tired, and I looked forward to the peace that would come (to all of us!) when they were asleep.

Ahhh, yes. Peace like my husband and I had yesterday. After my mother-in-law left with the kids, Brian and I cleaned the house. And it stayed clean for hours! Then we had a quiet dinner and enjoyed uninterrupted conversation with each other. Our small group came over in the evening and we talked together and prayed without the usual thump, thump of the boys jumping out of bed, or the frequent calls of, "Mom! Matthew's out of bed!" Yes, it was so peaceful here yesterday and last night!
As I enjoyed my brief hiatus from motherhood, I also realized the wonder of God's perfect love and unfailing patience. While I was cherishing the moments that my mother-in-law had my kids, I considered the wonderful truth that God never gets tired of me. God never says to Himself, "Oh, it would be so nice if someone would take Karen away from me for just a night, so I could enjoy some peace and quiet." And this is true for you, too, you know? He never wants to get away from you for just a little while. He never tires of hearing you ask for help. He never wishes you would stop needing Him.
Rather, He rejoices over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) He loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) And He will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40) How wonderful is that???

Potty Talk

My neighbors were gone the week between Christmas and New Years, so I collected their mail for them. One day I noticed a MOMSense magazine (put out by MOPS International and Christianity Today) in the pile. I used to enjoy reading MOMSense when I was in MOPS a few years ago, so I decided to read through this issue. Ever since that day, I have been waiting for the online version of this issue of MOMSense to become available so I could share an article with you...
Have you ever been in a situation when your kids completely humiliated you? Perhaps they said something to a stranger that just shouldn't have been spoken, or they blurted out something you did which was really foolish and you wanted to crawl under a chair and hide. We've all had times as mothers when we regretted teaching our children to talk, when we've wished there was a way to erase from the air the words that just passed their lips.
But I must admit, my children have never done anything to me like the little guy in this story did to his mom! You've got to read it. You might want to stop first and use the bathroom, though, as I anticipate great amounts of laughter coming from you, and we don't want any "accidents."


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Because I Love You

Today's the day! The day we've all been waiting for. It's Joshua's birthday!
Over Christmas break, during one of our trips to Meijer for groceries, Joshua sighted what he thought would be the best gift he could ever receive. It was a box full of Pokemon cards, stickers, and a video. Joshua has gotten very excited about these cards recently. He has no idea how to really play the game. All he knows is he wants to collect as many cards as he can. His goal is to have 1,000 cards by age ten.
So when he saw this box full of cards, Joshua's eyes grew wide and he said he would just love to recieve it for his birthday. But he thought it was probably too expensive and didn't think I'd get it for him. He continued to remind me, though, that for his birthday he wanted Pokemon cards, Pokemon cards, or Pokemon cards. Nothing else would be necessary.
Personally, I don't see what the big deal is about these cards. Like I said, he doesn't play with them. He just collects them and yells in excitement, "Look! I got a 120!" "Oh, cool! It's a Legendary!" "Wow! This one is a holographic!" I guess I collected pointless things when I was nine years old, too.

So, as I was shopping last week, I knew it was time to pick Joshua's birthday gift. I went to where we'd seen the prized box of cards, and didn't see it at first. I saw something not quite as cool and was going to get it, but then I saw the box. I picked it up, looked at it, thought about spending that much money on (stupid) cards, thought about how much Joshua wanted it, imagined the smile on his face that would appear when he opened it, thought again about what I considered to be a waste of money, imagined the smile on his face again, and made a buying decision. I got the cards!
To be perfectly logical about it, I was willing to spend that much money for his birthday gift. I just would have chosen something more practical if it were for me. But it wasn't for me. I knew Joshua would be happy beyond measure with this gift. And bringing him joy was the thing on my mind. I bought the gift, not because it was practical, but because I love Joshua and I wanted to do something that would make him smile. (And he does have a great smile, don't you think?)
All week I've been looking forward to this morning and the look on Joshua's face when he would open his gift.

This gift decision reminded me of a conversation I had several months ago with a dear friend. We talked about the times we do things for our kids, just because we love them. The thing we do (letting them have a piece of candy, giving them a sticker they want so much, letting them sleep on the floor instead of in bed) may not seem important or special. It may not be a big deal for us to give. We may not understand why they are so excited. But we do it because we love them. And the joy they express brings joy to our own hearts and makes us want to do it again and again.

Do you suppose God might look at us in a similar way? How many times do we come to Him asking for things we really want, and he gives them to us just because He loves us? And when He has plans to give us our heart's desire, do you think He anticipates our joyful response, and that it brings Him joy when we respond with a grateful heart?
God supplies all our needs. I have seen Him do amazing things to provide for my family, sometimes when the situation seemed rather bleak. He's good that way. But I truly believe sometimes He gives us things not because they're important and we need them, but just because He loves us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bedtime Battles

OK, they're finally in bed. For good. I think.

Brian was gone tonight, and it was a bath night. Usually that's a terrible combination but this time things started off, well, slightly above average and I was hopeful we'd get through things without incident. Honestly, sometimes I wonder when I'll ever learn!
With the kids in bed, clean and snug, I thought my job was done. Oh, no! Joshua wanted to get up and look at his Pokemon cards. So did Matthew. I was willing for Joshua to do it because he's usually pretty responsible about going to bed when he's truly tired. But I had to say "no" to Matthew because every morning when I go in to wake him, he squeeks at me and pushes me away. He is very hard to rouse and my goal for him is to get to sleep earlier, not later.
OK, that ruling went over like a lead balloon. Yes, I understand the seeming "unfairness" of it. The fact is, Joshua has proven himself responsible in this area, and Matthew has not. At this point in time, though, reason and logic had no place in Matthew's mind. He just begged and cried and said he would get up when I tell him to in the morning. Sorry, kiddo. I'm going on history, not promises, on this one.
Soon enough, Joshua climbed back in bed and I foolishly thought the end of the fussing must be on the horizon. What did Matthew have to fuss about now, anyway? No more unfairness, right? Oh, silly girl! Lacking a reason to fuss, the boys decided to fill their time with talking which, of course, bothered Elizabeth - who needs her beauty rest. She took it upon herself to take notes about the things they were saying so she could provide me with a complete report. And I probably would've gotten the word-for-word account if I hadn't stopped her short.
So I found myself back upstairs standing in the doorway of the boys' room. I was getting frustrated, feeling like a broken record telling them over and over again to be quiet and go to sleep. And I was stuck for a consequence to give them for their behavior. I couldn't send them to their room. They were already there! I couldn't send Dad up. He wasn't home.
For lack of a better idea I just stood in the doorway and watched them. And I began to pray. Lord, I know You love these boys. Please help me to love them now. I'm frustrated with them. Thank You that Your love is perfect - toward them and toward me. Oh, please help me to love these boys! And I stood there and looked at them and tried to have loving thoughts about them. Know what they did? They said it was "creepy" to have me standing there. Whatever!
When I thought they were ready to stay quiet and was about to leave them, I came up with an idea I wished I'd had much earlier. I told Joshua I was going to go back downstairs and work on decorations for his birthday party. I said I would work on the project if he stayed in bed and remained quiet. I came up with a less impressive bargain for Matthew. But they seem to have worked because the boys are still in bed, and they're still quiet. Hmmm, I'll have to remember this tactic!
Now I must go work on that project!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Painful Honesty

OK. The music is over and now it's time to type. I've been sitting here listening to (and singing along with!) Kathy Troccoli. Did you know you can listen to her online? Except I find it hard to get anything done when I'm listening. I keep stopping to sing along. I mean, I can walk and chew gum at the same time, but sing and type. No way. See? Did you notice that pause? OK, Karen. Focus!

I think I've mentioned in my blog somewhere that I am currently going through the book of Matthew during my quiet times. This morning I read a familiar passage, but God caused me to see it in a new way. (He's good like that!) I was reading Matthew 25:31-46, you know, the sheep and the goats.
Prior to today when I've looked at this passage I have always considered "the least of these" to be basically strangers to me. I've thought of "the less fortunate" in my community, people I may or may not come across in the course of a day or week or month. People I may serve at the soup kitchen, or who may wear something we donate to the rescue mission, or whom we may serve in some capacity through our church. People whom I know Jesus loves, but who are generally not too close to me.
Today when I read this passage, however, my mind turned to my children as "the least of these." I considered how many times they ask me for things, how much they want from me, and my usual inward response of, "Not again!" I wrote in my journal, "They are needy and I admit I often see them as intruders on my time. The honesty is painful."
If I tucked Jesus into bed and He asked me for a drink of water, of course I would walk all the way downstairs and back up again to get it for Him! Why do I find that so hard to do for Joshua? If Jesus asked me to sing Him just one more song to help Him get to sleep, of course I would put off doing my own thing for one more minute so I could sing for Him. Why do I usually refuse to do it for Elizabeth? If Jesus wanted me to hug Him for five minutes at a time, I would treasure that embrace before I went off to do my "important" things. Why do I feel the need to rush Matthew's hugs? Yes, this honesty is painful.
This world is full of "the least of these." Some are far from me and I serve them as best as I can. I love volunteering at the soup kitchen and praying for the people there. But I only do that once every other month. My church has a great outreach we do for the "needy" in our community and I eagerly help with that. But that's just one month out of the year. We give clothing to the Rescue Mission. But that's seasonal, too. My children are with me every day.
Lord, please give me Your eyes for my children. Please help me have Your perspective, the wisdom to know how to shape them, and the love to serve them and meet their needs.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Those of you with elementary aged children are probably up-to-your-ears familiar with this game. Those of you with younger (or much older!) children will have to recall the days of your own childhood. Surely you played "Jinx."
This is how it goes with my kids: Two of them say something, word for word, at the same time. Then they yell, "Jinx" and whoever says "Jinx" last isn't supposed to talk until the other individual says their name. The way it works around here is, in addition to saying the initial word or phrase simultaneously, my kids usually say, "Jinx!" at the same time. Then they get into, "Jinx before you!" "Jinx before you again!" "Jinx before you a hundred times!" "Jinx before you'll ever say it again!" Most times it ends in laughter, sometimes fighting about who really "won," and always with Brian and I rolling our eyes at this silly game.
Tonight it was our turn to be silly. We were eating dinner when Elizabeth excused herself from the table saying, "My tummy is really gassy." As she passed by us she, uh, passed gas. Loudly. Brian and I looked at each other and said, "I guess so!" And followed our comments with, "Jinx!" Then quickly, "Jinx before you!" I was laughing so hard, I nearly spit my food out at him!
I am so mature...


Five Minutes for Mom

Oooo, five minutes for mom. Doesn't that sound nice?

While Brian was gone and I spent the evenings online, learning more about blogs and linking, etc., I came across this group and liked what they offered, so I joined them!

"Surviving Motherhood" has just been added to the Christian Moms blog directory at "5 Minutes for Mom". Have you ever visited "5 Minutes for Mom"? If not, let me encourage to go and see what all they have there... it's all for moms! They have tons of mom blogs and mom-written websites as well as a quickly expanding resource of mom-owned stores. Browse about a bit and you'll find everything from custom baby announcements to play kitchen equipment for your little girls and boys. It's a wonderful idea to try to shop first at stores run by work at home moms.

So, check them out and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Trying to get it right

It's hard to believe, but Joshua is going to be nine years old next Saturday!

When Joshua was five, the father of a thirteen-year-old boy basically told me to hang in there through the hard times with Joshua. He said he'd been through similar things with his son, but now his son - at 13 - was a totally different kid, and so much easier. At the time, I thought, "Oh, so you're telling me I only have eight more years of this. Great. Thanks for the encouragement!"
Well, I've made it through four years. Does that mean I've made it half way to "easy"? Does that mean in four more years I won't have to "try" anymore? That things will come easy for Joshua and I? That when I try to do something special for him, he'll recognize it as such and be happy about it? That he'll take my correction as for his good, and learn from it? That Joshua will be convinced I am for him, not against him? Awww, I can dream, can't I?
Several moms who've "been there" tell me it never gets easy. Yet, others assure me it does. Guess I'll have to wait and see.

In the mean time, I am determined to love that boy. Not by myself, or in my own strength - I need God to love Joshua through me. And I'm thankful for the little things Joshua does that remind me he's a little boy who needs his mother's love.
Today he came running upstairs to tell me that two of his friends just called to say they can come to his birthday party next week. He was so excited as he told me about their conversation, and as he reminded me of the things he hopes to receive as gifts.
And I just spent time downloading images from the internet that we might use as decorations. Ooo - he just came in. Gotta go now. I hope he likes what I've done...I would really like to "get it right" sometime!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

OK, I'm "irregular"

Hmmm, that sounds like a "too personal" bit of information, doesn't it?
It isn't.
I finally got to take a break today. I left the house about 10:00 this morning, went to an internet cafe and spent time e-mailing and reading blogs. Then I went shopping, and that's when I found out I'm irregular.
One of my shopping goals was to find a new pair of jeans, though I must admit I was only a little hopeful that I'd get anything because I always have a terrible time trying to find jeans that fit. As I looked through the racks I found two pair of jeans which were highly discounted because they are "irregular." My untrained eye couldn't see anything wrong with them and I sure liked the price, so I tried them on. They fit almost perfectly! So, I must be irregular because all the regular jeans I've tried on don't fit like these do. Are you ready for this? I got them for $21 -total!!!
Next, I went to the mall to find a top to go with them. I saw a jacket I thought I might get but looked around for another hour or so before going back to get it. (I am so not confident when it comes to buying clothes, unless it's a t-shirt or sweat shirt.) I decided to go back for the jacket and when I did I asked a sales clerk what kind of shirt I'd wear under it. We talked, and she advised. Then she said, "Come with me," and she lead me to a different jacket that was more fitted and she thought would look better on me, plus it was half the price!
So, now I have new black jeans and a pinkish/rose suede-type jacket that I'll wear with black heels and a black shirt that's trimmed with shiny beads. The sales clerk suggested buying some sassy earrings to complete the outfit. OK, Brian, get a babysitter - Karen's feeling hot and ready for some fun!!!

After my shopping fun I spent time reflecting on what's happened over the past year, and wondering what may be ahead in 2007. It is absolutely amazing to me when I consider what God has done, and where He's taking me. At the beginning of 2005, I had no idea I would begin speaking to MOPS groups within the year. At the beginning of 2006, I had started writing my book but had no clear plan for "really" writing, and wasn't sure I'd actually see it through to completion. At the beginning of 2007, I am excited to have published a book and to have 30+ MOPS groups on my speaking schedule.
As I was journaling today, wondering where God will take me in 2007, one thing that came to me again and again was Psalm 115:1, "Not to [me], O Lord, not to [me] but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness." God has been so good to me. First, in giving me hope that He is using my children and my mothering struggles to make me into the woman He wants me to be, and second, in giving me opportunities to share this hope with other moms. When I receive compliments, or words of appreciation and encouragement, it's tempting to think I've done something worthwhile. But I realize nothing good comes from me. It's all about my Savior! I want to always give God the glory for everything He has done.

Afterall, I'm just irregular!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back to normal?

Brian is home and we were all glad to see him! (He liked his poster.) Yesterday we went as a family to the movies to see Charlotte's Web. (Whew! That was expensive!!!) Brian took the boys "fishing" for awhile and he and Elizabeth played Life. I did more laundry and took down the Christmas tree. Yes, this seems a little more like normal.
But as I said in Sliding in to Home, I believe God used last week to work on me and mold me, and in that sense I'm really not interested in getting "back to normal."
It's a new year with new possibilities. I want to take time to reflect on the year gone by and wonder about the one we've just started. What does God have in store for us? This mom doesn't want to go "back." I want to move ahead with God and embrace everything He brings my way. How about you? Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Generation Next Parenting

I recently read Generation Next Parenting, by Tricia Goyer. Tricia is a GenXer, just like me. She graduated from high school in 1989, just like me. She loves the Lord, yet still struggles with mothering, just like me. Perhaps that’s why I appreciated her book so much.
Generation Next Parenting is filled with quotes from other GenX parents and I often found myself nodding, thinking, “Yes. That’s how I feel,” or wanting to search out an individual to say, “Me, too! How did you resolve that issue?” Tricia’s words are filled with grace, assuring us we can parent “right,” even if it isn’t the same way our parents did it. I love that she points her readers to God’s Word and encourages prayer in everything.
Besides all that, reading this book was like an enjoyable trip down memory lane. The songs I used to sing along with on the radio. The games I used to play. The TV shows I watched. The 80s were fun, weren’t they?
You can read the first chapter of Generation Next Parenting online. Tricia also has a blog and website that are worth checking out. Enjoy!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Sliding into Home

Ahhh, just five or six hours until Brian gets home! Poor guy, getting in so late. He's going to be exhausted tomorrow. Wait a minute! If he's exhausted tomorrow he's going to want to sleep all day and then it'll be just like he isn't here again. Poor me!!! Just kidding!

We had a very nice time at my grandmother's house last night. My brother and his clan creamed my kids and I in Family Fun Cranium, but we did have fun. And they only won because they rolled lots of high numbers and got around the board faster than us. Oh - am I making excuses? Oops! We enjoyed some of my grandma's yummy pie and spent time talking and laughing about things we did when we were kids - stories my kids enjoyed hearing. Everyone stayed up to watch the ball drop in Times Square and then I tucked the kids in and sang to them. As I was saying good night I thought about the many, many times I'd slept in those same beds as a little girl when I spent the night with Grandma. What fond memories!

Though I was planning to save grocery shopping for tomorrow, when I could go alone, somehow my kids managed to talk me into going today and taking them along. The truth is, they wanted to spend more of their Christmas money and I couldn't think of an unselfish reason for saying, "No." We made it through the store without much difficulty, except toward the end Matthew started getting lethargic and complained that his tummy was hurting. I put him in the seat of the grocery cart, figuring that would make him feel better and help us get finished quicker. Both things seemed to occur.
Matthew perked up on the ride home, but stayed in the van once we arrived. Joshua reported that he was playing with the toy gun he'd just bought, pretending to "protect" the van against invaders, and I figured all was well. Silly me. Just a few minutes later Joshua had a different report.
"Mom! Matthew just threw up!"
I went outside to see my sweet little boy straddling a puddle of, well, I can say it, we're all moms, right? It was a puddle of vomit. I stood with him and tried to comfort him as I made sure he was "finished" and then took him inside. After we removed all the soiled clothing, Matthew lay down on the couch and I went out to clean up. I'll tell you what - if kids have to get sick, outside is the place to do it. Two buckets full of water and a broom, and I was done!
So Matthew laid on the couch most of the afternoon, and Elizabeth and Joshua colored in and decorated a poster I had made for Brian that says, "Welcome Home!" When Matthew was up to it, he added his touch and now it's hanging in the dining room, surrounded by lots and lots of balloons. Sure to bring a smile to Brian's face when he stumbles in around 1:30 this morning.
Ahhh, that thought brings a smile to my face.

I received an e-mail from a friend today, who has been following my blog this week. The subject line read, "You made it!" Yes, we did make it. Honestly, the days leading up to this week often found me dreading the thought of Brian leaving. I didn't want to go through the things I knew I'd face as a "solo" parent. I didn't want to take on the extra pressure, listen to the fighting and whining with no one around to give me a break, serve as the sole judge and complaint receiver, or manage the household by myself.
But you know, it's times like this week that cause me to cling to God in ways, and with a frequency, I don't always practice. He uses times like this to remind me of my desperate need for Him. I called out to Him for help. I sang about turning my eyes upon Jesus. He was constantly on my mind as I sought to make it through this week.
And as I tried to remain calm with my children, God showed me things about myself of which He's working to rid me. I asked myself things like, "Why do I get uptight so quickly? Is the yelling and running around really something that needs to stop? Or am I just irritable? Why am I so quick to say, 'No'? Do I need to be more generous with my time?" Lord, sometimes I don't like what I'm going through - the hard times I face. Yet I believe You're using them to make me into the woman You want me to be. And so, I choose to trust You!

This leg of the journey is almost over. I'm glad you joined me for it. My prayer is that God would bless and encourage you, as He has done for me.