Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rockin' Bloggers and the Muppets

Awww, how sweet is this?
Those of you who have been reading here for awhile know my son Joshua and I have a game we play in which we tell each other "You rock!" This is how the game goes: One says, "You rock!" The other says, "No. You rock!" The first says, "You rock more than me." The second finishes off by saying, "You rock more than I ever will!" We stick pretty closely to that script and I love playing it with him.
Well, now I've had two blogging friends tell me they think I rock. Annie and Leigh both passed on the Rockin' Girl Blogger award to me.

I love this award, not just because of the game Joshua and I play, and not just because hot pink is one of my favorite colors, but because I'm encouraged to know the things I share here are benefiting others.
I know two friends to whom I would like to pass on this award:
Coach Jenny - because I love your heart and passion for God.
Char - because I love your honesty and you make me laugh.

If you've been with me for awhile you may also recall my disdain for Pokemon videos on Friday nights. I am so happy to report the kids have seen all the Pokemon movies in the video store and last night we watched The Muppet Show! Sing with me now: It's time to start the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight. (Bum, bum, bum) It's time to put on makeup. It's time to dress up right. It's time to get things started...on the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational, this is what we call The Muppet Show!
The DVD had three Muppet Show episodes on it and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. What really pleased me is the fact my kids liked it, too. It's really a simple show - music and singing, corny jokes, and a few explosions. The boys especially liked when Gonzo blows his horn at the end of the theme song and something strange comes out of his horn or explodes. I am partial to the corny jokes. And I'm looking forward to our next movie night when we get another Muppet Show DVD. Ahhh, PacMan and the Muppets. It's fun to re-live my childhood every now and then!

One more thing before I go...This week at VBS I had the privilege of praying with one young girl to receive Jesus! Hooray!!!

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

One More Visit with Beth

In my last post I shared about anxiety as one of the things in our Is which cheats us from our Is To Come, according to Beth Moore at the Women of Faith pre-conference. Beth said fear is the other cheater, and she defined fear as manifestations of unbelief.
When Beth began talking about fear cheating us from our Is To Come, my first thought was that I didn't really "need" this part of her teaching. I have never considered myself to be a fearful person. I know God is good and He is sovereign. I believe He can handle (and is not surprised by) the things which come into my life. Even when I was in the hospital for brain surgery I was not afraid because I knew I wasn't there because God couldn't handle my situation on His own. He had me there for a very good reason, and I was trusting Him.
So what might God have to say to me regarding fear? Clearly, I was full of faith if I could face something like brain surgery without fear. Right???
I can just imagine Him thinking, Oh, Karen. My dear, little girl. Keep listening. I have something I want to say to you. Because very soon after I determined I didn't have an "issue" with fear, Beth made another statement which grabbed my heart. She said, "My weakness does not trump God's strength. My weakness isn't stronger than God's strength."
I can't count the number of times I have faced a challenge and thought, Oh, I could never do that. I don't have the skills. I don't have the experience. Someone else would do a much better job. For some reason the "big" things (like brain surgery) don't cause me fear, but in the little things unbelief is manifested. Maybe that's because the big things are infrequent but the little things occur weekly.
So as I pondered the statement, "My weakness does not trump God's strength," I was filled with hope again in the power of God. It was another one of those DUH! moments for me. Of course God's strength is stronger than my weakness. My weakness is simply not an issue for Him. He is present and powerful even in the daily-ness and seemingly unimportant aspects of everyday life. As I considered Beth's encouragement that our Is To Come is going to be wonderful I was thrilled to imagine what He might do through me.

How about you, my friend? If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior your ultimate Is To Come is going to be perfect. What about your Is To Come here on earth? Will you let anxiety and fear rob you, or will you choose to trust the Almighty - who was, who is, who is to come, and who can handle every aspect of your situation perfectly?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Beth on Anxiety

I'm glad what I shared from Beth Moore's Pre-Conference material spoke to your hearts. In addition to talking about how our Was can cheat our Is (regrets and grudges), Beth discussed how our Is can cheat our Is To Come by way of fear and anxiety.
It seems so common for me to be anxious about things, wondering what's going to happen, will I be able to handle it? Until I heard Beth talk about anxiety I hadn't truly considered how it was impacting me. Here's what she said: Anxiety is a continual simmering of unbelief. It leaves us unguarded because it shows we are not in authority in that matter, and it shows the enemy we aren't trusting God. She said anxiety makes reasonable people unreasonable because it causes us to panic and make knee-jerk decisions.
This next statement really got me. Beth reminded us anxiety draws on human strength alone, because God will never help us worry. Think about it. We are the ones doing all the worrying. Would you ever pray something like, O God, this worrying really has me worn out. I need Your help to worry more. Please give me the strength to fret over this situation some more. Maybe You're big enough to handle this situation, but I'm just not sure. Granted, You created the universe and have somehow managed to hold it all in perfect balance since the beginning of time, but this situation I'm facing is so huge, and I just don't know if You can take care of it. So please, I'm begging You, give me the strength I need to simmer in this unbelief a little longer.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? When Beth defined anxiety as she did, and when she made the statement God will never help us worry, I thought, Duh! Why do I ever allow myself to be anxious for anything???
God has promised our Is To Come is going to be wonderful. Why allow fear and anxiety to cheat us?

I wrote one other statement from Beth in my notes which I want to share with you. It deals with fear, and I'll write about it next time.

VBS is going well. Day Two is always smoother than Day One. Whew!
I am working with fifth grade girls and am loving it. Today we gathered in a large circle (there are about 32-36 girls in my class) to pray at the end, and I talked to the girls about God's incredible love for them. They are so precious in His eyes and my heart's desire is for them to grasp that reality through this week.

I'll check back in with more from Beth in a day or two!

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


Thank you so much for each of your comments, kind words, and prayers for me while I was at the Women of Faith conference this weekend. I truly did have a wonderful, refreshing time.

I attended the Pre-Conference Friday morning and afternoon, which was led by Beth Moore. Prior to Friday I had heard tons about Beth but had never seen her in person or even read one of her books. Let me tell you, I now fully agree with all the wonderful things I've ever heard people say about her. God is all over that woman!
While I would love to share with you everything she said, in the interest of time (I just put dinner in the oven!) I'm going to share one of her statements that really spoke to me, and let you chew on it for awhile. Over the course of my next few posts I'll probably share more.
Beth talked about our "Is" our "Was" and our "Is to come." She said two of the things that cheat our "Is" are regrets and grudges. Then she shared about a time she and her husband were talking about regret and he told her he wishes so desperately he wasn't broken - that he hadn't made the choices he made in the past. That's when she made the statement I loved so much. She told him, "But you are such a neater person healed than you would be just well."
Do you have regrets over your past? Even though God has brought you through and healed you, do you let your past (your WAS) rob you of joy in your present (your IS)? I believe with all my heart God is a Redeeming God, a Healer and a Restorer. Whatever is in your WAS, can you find joy in knowing God has used it to make you the person you are today?
You are such a neater person healed than you would be just well. I love that!!!

I am volunteering at VBS this week and expect to be quite busy, so my posting may be scarce. We'll see...But I will share more from Beth and the conference in general.

Have a great IS!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Need to Get Away

Ahhh, tomorrow at this time I will be in Cleveland, Ohio settling into my hotel room and getting ready to enjoy attending the Women of Faith conference on Friday and Saturday.
Two years ago my husband was at a conference for work and somehow he managed to find himself in a hotel room all by himself for three days. When he called to tell me about it, he was actually disappointed at the lack of a roommate. I, on the other hand, thought my husband was the luckiest person in the world! As I considered his situation further I began to think, Hey, if Brian can be gone and in a hotel room for a few days by himself, why can't I? And I began to do a little research on the Internet.
I discovered the Women of Faith conference was coming to Michigan in five weeks. I checked out the details of hotels and costs, and when Brian got home I presented him with my proposal. How about I go away by myself for a few days, Honey??? I had just served on a jury (for a triple murder case. Eewww!) and had a garage sale, so it was easy for me to say how I'd pay for the conference. Brian agreed right away and I began the count down.
I had such a great experience at the conference and I have such a wonderful husband, that we decided I could make the Women of Faith conference an annual "Me Time" event. Women of Faith hasn't been back in Michigan since 2005, so last year and this year I'm attending in Ohio, but I don't mind. It just means more "Me Time" while I'm traveling!

So I've been looking forward to this event, at times reminding myself it's coming just so I can make it through particularly stressful situations at home. Like last Saturday.
I was deep in the trenches of mothering - with kids who wanted to sell snacks during neighborhood garage and yard sales. My kids and the neighbor kids set up shop at my brother's house two blocks away and I was there to monitor and make sure they didn't kill each other. (Which I fear they may have if I hadn't stepped in a time or two.) They started off really cute and were having fun. But as time wore on and the temperature rose, so did their tempers with one another. They got competitive and bossy. The little guy was annoying the bigger kids. One group didn't think it was fair that the other group had a certain table. The quarrelling escalated and they kept wanting me to resolve the fights. I wasn't biting.
Needless to say, after three hours when they had finally sold out of treats, I was more than ready to pack it up and bring every one home. But when we got home, my adult neighbors weren't home so I continued to have the responsibility of all the kids. And the kids continued with their bickering. Grrr.
When my husband got home I said, "Brian, I am ready to cry, and I'm not even PMSing!" He asked if I needed to leave for awhile. I think I was gone before he finished asking the question! I didn't get anything accomplished while I was out. Tried on some shorts and a few shirts, but didn't like anything. It didn't really matter to me, though. More than new clothes (which I really could use!), I just needed some of my own air to breathe.

That evening after we put the kids to bed I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items I needed for Sunday. As I was driving along and breathing deeply, enjoying the peace and quiet, I began to feel awful. I realized how relieved I was to be away from my kids, and I felt terrible for feeling so good. These children are gifts God has given to me. They are His creation. He loves them. I love them! How could I feel so good to be away from them? It was a terrible feeling and I was in tears by the time I got home.
Brian and I sat down to talk about it. He is a voice of reason for me and I am so thankful to God for my husband. As we talked Brian reminded me we're all adjusting to school being out for the summer and it was perfectly reasonable for me to be stressed after the day I'd had with all the kids. He reminded me I'm human - imperfect and needy in my own ways - and it's OK for me to enjoy time alone. I felt so much better after we talked.
A conversation I had the next day with my sister-in-law helped an awful lot, too. She suggested perhaps God uses these situations to alert me to my need to get away - to focus on Him, and enjoy His presence alone. I love how He speaks through my family to me!

So tomorrow I'm going away for a couple of days. I fully expect to be refreshed and renewed. From past experience, I know I'll be missing my family by Saturday afternoon and will be anxious to get home and hug them and tell them of the goodness of God I've seen while I was at the conference.
Yes. I need this time away for awhile. It is going to be a good thing, and I am going to enjoy every minute of it!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Cooking Experience Edition

Today, we're cooking! Or at least we're thinking about it...Annie is asking us to recall our first cooking experience, and if we can't remember that far back we're allowed to share something else memorable from the kitchen.
I remember my first cooking experience - making dinner for the family when I was in elementary school - but today I'm opting for my most memorable baking experience.

This memory takes me back about seven or eight years when my grandmother taught me how to bake a pie crust. Regardless of what you may have thought of your grandma's pies, I feel obligated to let you in on the fact my grandma makes the best pies. And it all comes down to the crust. So I was eager to receive my pie crust lesson from her!
First we measured out the flour in the bowl. Exactly two cups. Then grandma measured exactly a quarter a cup of water and added butter flavored Crisco until the water reached the one cup mark. Exactly. She told me it was crucial to measure precise amounts in order for the pie crust to come out *just right.* Then she poured a small amount of salt into her hand, tossed it into the flour, and said that was the right amount of salt. I always chuckle when I think of her preciseness in everything and then the way she just "eye-balled" the salt.
When it was time to cut the Crisco into the flour my grandma told me some people use knives or a special kitchen tool, but she advised me it's *much better* to use your hands. She got things started, then let me get in and get my hands messy. We mixed and crumbled the flour and Crisco until it was sticky and formed pea-sized balls. Then it was time to add the water and mix just until the water was absorbed.
She taught me how to divide and roll the dough and how to fold it and put it into the pie plates, making sure to poke it several times before baking so it wouldn't get air bubbles.
We baked the crusts, peeled peaches and made delicious fresh peach pies. I was so proud of my first pie. More than that, I was delighted to share the experience with my grandmother. It was fun to spend the time together and to listen to her share the ins and outs of her pie crust knowledge and experience.
When I made my first pie without her help I was so excited and invited her over to sample. She said, "It isn't too bad. Remember, you can touch the dough all you want before you add the water, but you shouldn't mix it much after the water is absorbed." I filed that comment away under, "What to do differently the next time I bake a pie crust."
Since then, I have been more careful not to mix too much after adding the water. Grandma has approved of my pie crusts, and my mom says, "I think you have Grandma's touch." I have even been chosen to bake the pies for Christmas a couple times...when Grandma was going to be there. Oooo! Pressure!
Though my grandma taught me valuable things about baking pie crusts, I cannot roll it and get it into the pie plate like she does, without breaking it. I have since learned to roll it out between floured pieces of waxed paper. But I'll never tell her that's how I do it! I also measure my Crisco in my favorite "good-for-things-like-shortening-and-peanut butter" measuring cup, instead of displacing a quarter cup of water. I'll keep that fact a secret, too.
My grandma is approaching her 90th birthday and I love the memory I have of baking my first pie crust with her. Someday I hope to pass the tradition along to my granddaughter!

Please visit Annie to Time Travel with other bloggers.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm Soooo Impressive

My kids, especially Joshua, are sooooo impressed with me right now.

Wanna know why?

It started a couple days ago when a little friend of theirs from down the street brought over his PacMan game. It's really cool. There are little cords attatched to a joy stick which plug into the DVD player, then you just have to press a button on the remote (I have no idea which one!) and, Whammo! you can play PacMan on the TV.
My kids thought this new toy was the coolest thing and when I walked into the room they asked if I wanted to "try" this game they'd just discovered. I said, "Sure," and sat down to play. The kids were explaining the rules and goals of the game, as if I hadn't played PacMan hundreds times when I was their age. I just said, "OK," and hit the start button.
I wish I could have taken my eyes off the screen long enough to observe the looks on their faces as I cleared one board after another. Their comments were great. "Mom can really play this game!" "Look! Mom is making a new high score!" "Wow! Mom's really good at this!"
Later that night I overheard Joshua telling my husband I got the high score on PacMan. He's even telling other kids about it when they come over and see the game. It cracks me up to know how excited my kids are that I am "so good" at PacMan.

If they only knew how many quarters it cost Grandpa Sheaffer during my youth for me to obtain this valuable skill!!!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Right on Cue

I wonder if your house is anything like mine. Being the "homemaker" it seems like I'm the one who does most of the work to keep this family fed, clothed, and clean. Though the kids take their dishes to the kitchen (with occasional reminders) it seems I'm the only one who can put cereal boxes away. Somehow, no one else seems to notice milk puddles on the table or bits of cereal spilled on the floor, and therefore, no one else cares to clean it up. And why is it no one else (I'm thinking DH here) can put clean dishes away in the cupboards?
Well today is Friday and, in my house, that means laundry day. So this morning as I was folding clothes and taking them upstairs, I put the kids' clothes on their beds or dressers. Sometimes I put their clothes away for them, but I want to get in the habit of getting them in the habit of doing it. After all, that's what my mom did!
I went into my bedroom and sat the laundry basket on the floor so I could make the bed. As I have done before, this morning while I was making the bed I wondered, Why is it I'm the only one in this marriage who seems able to make the bed? I decided after I was finished and put my folded clothes away, I would set Brian's clothes on the bed for him to put away. (Reading a little sassiness into that last statement would be entirely appropriate.)
Just after I'd completed that thought, the phone rang. It was Brian. He was at Home Depot to buy carpet for recovering the steps leading up to our front porch. Just wanted to know what color I wanted before he made the purchase. We settled on gray, I thanked him for checking, hung up the phone and went back to making the bed.
As I was tucking in the sheets I considered how thoughtful it was for Brian to get my input on the carpet. I reminded myself how nice it's going to be to have those steps fixed - a job I certainly cannot do, which I'm so glad Brian is doing. Then I thought of how much work he put into making our porch look nice.
The other day I asked him to take the seat out of the van so I could bring home the boys' new dresser. Then I asked him to put the seat back in.
And every time I have a problem with my computer, or don't understand how to do something on it, I ask for his help. He always helps.
Oh yeah, and it's summer, which means I like to have more things for dinner on the grill. I don't even know how to light the grill. Brian always takes on grilling responsibilities.
All of a sudden, I found myself thanking God for this wonderful man who loves me and serves me and takes care of our family - even if he doesn't wipe spilled milk or make the bed - and I prayed for him while I put his clothes away.

This morning I was reading in the Gospel of Mark and noted Jesus' ability to know the hearts and thoughts of men. He knew when the teachers of the law were questioning His deity. (Mark 2:8) He heard the Pharisees question His disciples about the company Jesus was keeping. (Mark 2:16-17) When they were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus on the Sabbath, He knew that, too. (Mark 3:1-6) And Jesus spoke Truth into each of these situations.
I couldn't help but notice this morning when I was grumbling in my spirit as I made the bed how, right on cue, the phone rang and God spoke Truth to me as He reminded me what a wonderful servant-husband I have.

Thanks, Brian. I love you and I appreciate everything you do!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

But what about...?

Yesterday I wrote about dreams. I wrote about my desire to be close to God and how that desire has fueled my dream to speak and write. The things He's already done through this ministry He's given me have been wonderful, and it delights my heart to anticipate what God may do next in this part of my life. The joy He's given me by allowing me this opportunity is almost impossible for me to put into words. I absolutely love that God has redeemed my mothering struggles and used them to bring hope and encouragement to others.
At times when I'm reflecting on the year gone by and the lives I've seen God touch, I am filled with gratitude in my heart for God. When I have a "good" writing session, or when I schedule a talk with a new group of moms it's easy for me to be thankful and praise God for what He's doing and will do. When things are going well I have no difficulty remembering God is good. I'm guessing the same is true for you, is it not?
But what about the times when our circumstances aren't "good"? What about the times when it seems God isn't listening to us, or He's listening but He isn't answering? What about broken dreams? How can we praise Him with any sense of integrity when our hearts feel like they're crushing under the weight of our worry and sorrow? What do we do then?

Some of you may remember my friend Renee and her daughter Allie. Allie is sick and last September Renee took leave from her job as a preschool teacher to stay home and care for her daughter. This family has been on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs over the past nine months, searching for the right medicines and visiting different doctors. Allie has gotten her finger poked nearly every week to check her platelet counts and sometimes they've rejoiced at a good number, while other times it's been dangerously low. Originally, Renee thought Allie would be healed of her sickness by now. But she isn't.
Just yesterday Renee sent me an e-mail telling me she was going in to clean out her room at the school, because it was clear she wouldn't be going back to teach again next year. Renee taught at the preschool for ten years and told me, "Besides being a mom, being a preschool teacher was my dream job!" But now, because her daughter needs her at home, that dream has to be tucked away.
I know God is able to heal Allie. I know there are people all over the country going before His throne on Allie's behalf, asking Him to make her well again. But He hasn't done it yet. And now Renee has a broken dream as well as a frustrated little girl who is tired of being sick.
In spite of her circumstances, however, Renee chooses to remain faithful and to believe God is good. In fact she spoke for her MOPS group to share her testimony about this trial and the HOPE she still has in God even in the face of hard times. She closed out her message to me saying, "We really believe He is listening and He is using sweet Allie to reach others for Him."

I know there are many more stories like Renee's.
~ The infertile woman who prays and trusts, but still has no baby in her womb.
~ The father and husband who earnestly seeks God's will, but still cannot find employment.
~ The mother who faithfully prays for her prodigal, but has yet to see him return.
~ You can fill in your own circumstance here.
I love the example Renee provides, which I have also seen in other faithful believers who are suffering, of what to do when God isn't making sense to us. When our circumstance is hard, when we can't see if (or how) God is working, when we're just plain tired of waiting, we can choose to remember and believe in what is True.
God is sovereign and good.
He knows our circumstance and is able to manage it.
Though we may not be able to see, He is working.
In His perfect timing, God will deliver us from our trials.

I don't know what you may be facing today. Perhaps you're enjoying peaceful circumstances at the moment. But if times are tough, if you've been asking yourself, "How can I praise Him in this situation?" I pray you have found encouragement here to help carry you through.

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P.S.If you would like to join others who are praying for Allie, you can visit this website.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What is Your Dream?

I've been tagged by Karen for a meme called "What is Your Dream."
According to Karen,

Leigh from Speaking Thru Me got to thinking about a sermon her Pastor recently gave about promises and speaking the Word and Believing!! And came up with this meme: What are your dreams? Not things that God has promised you, but things you dream about or things that you whisper in His ear. What are you believing God for? Be bold, Be Honest, Be courageous!

I think God's timing is so interesting. Karen let me know early last week that she'd tagged me for this meme and I knew I wanted to participate, but I also knew I wouldn't be able to "get to it" right away. So it's been in the back of my mind for several days, and God's been mixing it up with another new thing for me.
You see, the same day I heard from Karen I had just started a book my mentor encouraged me to read. This new book is called Developing Intimacy with God. It is an eight-week prayer guide based upon the Spiritual Exercises of St.Ignatius, and the very first exercise was determining our "Basic Want." The objective for that day was to, "Determine what you want at the core of your being." For me it is simply to be close to God. Over the course of this week, working through the spiritual exercises and contemplating the idea of this dream, I have enjoyed seeing how they can work together.
I have realized that when I am speaking and writing, I feel especially close to God because I am even more aware of my dependence on Him. I pray for the women who are present listening to me. I pray for the women who will read my words. I ask God what He wants me to say. My desire to be an instrument He uses for His glory increases with each opportunity He gives me. So I'm seeing my basic want - to be close to God, has fueled my dream - to have more opportunities to speak and write.
As far as speaking goes, I absolutely love going to MOPS groups and sharing with the moms there. But as a dreamer I would love to speak for larger audiences, perhaps in conference or arena settings. Actually I am going to be speaking in November for a break-out session for a small women's conference here in Michigan. I guess that's a start!
Another part of the speaking dream would be to go places where some of my blogging friends live so I could meet you personally.
Regarding the writing, my dream is that more and more women would find and read Confessions of an Irritable Mother, and find the hope within it which God has given to me. I'm also starting another book which I'm praying will be an encouragement for women to seek and enjoy God in the daily-ness of every day.
When I'm speaking and writing I really feel like I'm participating with God by ministering hope to mothers. My dream, to speak for larger audiences and to publish another book, is to be an instrument He uses for His glory.

I couldn't find any specific directions for tagging on this meme, so I'll just leave it to you. If you would like to particiapte, please leave me a comment so I know to come by and read about your dreams!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Vacation Edition

Today Annie is asking us to think about vacation. (Maybe because her trip just got cancelled???) She asked if we have any special vacation memories. Wow, this could take awhile. I have lots of great vacation memories to which I'd love to travel with you. I'll pick a few highlights.

...When I was a kid we drove a car on all our vacations. We had a travel game with dice to pass the time. Sometimes we watched for farms with horses in the pasture and would keep track to see who said, "Mine!" first or most often. Whoever "claimed" the most horses won. But my favorite way to pass the time was playing the Alphabet Game. The way to play is to look at road sings and be the first to collect all the letters in the alphabet (in order!). But you can only get one letter per sign, and letters off vehicles don't count. When we were coming home from Washington, DC in April I taught my kids this game. Gotta keep it going from generation to generation!
...We went camping just about every weekend in the summers when I was a kid. Saturday morning was the best because that's when my mom made donuts (which I) covered with lots of sugar. Yummmmmmm!
...I remember a trip out west when I was six. My whole family went on a trail ride and when we went through one gate, my pony took off at a full gallop. Apparently the trail leader was scared for me, but I was having a blast!
...The yucky part of that trip was my older brother, Chuck, had some problem with his knee and couldn't have his leg bent for long periods of time. So he had to stretch out his leg across my and my sister's lap for nearly the entire trip. Not even the Alphabet Game made that part of the trip more enjoyable.
...Chuck was more fun on another trip. After my freshman year of college Chuck, my mom, dad, and I went on a trip to Scotland and England. I don't remember where we were at this particular time, but I told my mom to watch while I made Chuck pose like a statue. I think the statue was of Julius Caesar and I told Chuck to imitate the pose and I was going to take a picture of him. Then I pretended there was something wrong with the camera and I kept saying, "Wait, Chuck! Hold that pose! I'm almost ready." I got him to stay that way for quite awhile. Finally, when I was sure enough onlookers had laughed at him, I snapped the picture. I looked for the picture to share with you, but it has mysteriously disappeared. Chuck!
...Of all my vacation memories, my favorite occurred just a couple of months ago. We went to Washington, DC for spring break, and God reminded me of His love.

Thanks, Annie, for coming up with Time Travel Tuesday. This is always so fun to do. To share in more vacation memories, visit Annie.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Learning Joshua

I can hardly believe it. I think I did two things right in Joshua's eyes! Those of you who've been around here for awhile know my biggest struggle is with Joshua and I am constantly trying to learn the best ways to interact with and love him. Some days it seems my only goal is to maintain peaceful interaction with him, as I'm pretty consistently watching for and trying to avoid the things which tend to set him off.
So, as we're heading into summer and I want to be sure the kids are practicing their reading, I wondered how I was going to get Joshua to read without a fight. Each of the kids' teachers had sent home a summer reading list and when I read Joshua's list I saw a ray of hope. One of the suggested books is called 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents. As soon as I read that title I thought, Joshua would like this book! Then I remembered Elizabeth's bit of genius when she got the boys to help find things for her birthday party, and decided I'd try to emulate it.
When Joshua was within hearing distance I said to Brian, "There's a book on Joshua's summer reading list that I'm not so sure I want him to read." Of course Joshua's ears perked up, and Brian said, "Oh yea? What is it?" When I announced the book title, Joshua's eyes lit up and I knew my plan was working. He wanted to read it! In fact today he asked me if he could go to the library and get it. Without living with this boy, you can have no idea how significant of an event it is for him to ask to go and get the book himself! I wrote down the title and author for him and sent him off. Apparently it's a pretty popular book, because he had to get on a waiting list for it!
No worries, because he has something else to read while he waits. That's the subject of the other thing I did right today.
Some time ago, Joshua left his Bible at church, and we have been unable to find it. (One of the consequences of the blessing of everyone getting the same Bible in first grade!) We have enough Bibles around our house that it hasn't really been an issue, but today I decided I was going to get Joshua a new one. (And his old one will probably show up Sunday. Isn't that the way it usually goes?)
Anyway, when I was reminding Joshua this morning how important it is to me to have quiet time with God each morning (and, therefore, why I had asked him to not turn on the computer), I told him I was going to get him a new Bible today so he could read it each morning, too. His response didn't tell me whether he really wanted it or not, but when I was out this morning I went to Family Christian Store and found the Boy's Bible. I know God's Truth is the same for boys and girls, but this Bible has some special graphics and features to appeal to young boys, so I bought it.
When I got home with the Bible, Joshua was gone and soon the day's activities led us all on another course and I forgot to give Joshua his new Bible. Late this afternoon he came to me and asked, "Mom, did you get me a Bible today?" I thought I almost saw a glimmer of delight in his eyes when I said I did get it. I went out to the other room and brought it back, saying, "How's this?"
Joshua wrote his name and phone number inside the front cover and "Date I got this Bibel (that's how he spelled it!) 6-11-07." He's been carrying it around, calling it his new friend, and telling me over and again, "I like my Bible!" He even sat it on a pillow beside him at dinner tonight. I pray Joshua will grow in his enthusiasm to read and apply God's word! I wonder if he'll hold on to this Bible, and years from now will open the cover, look at the date, and thank God for the work He was doing in Joshua even at the age of nine.

Yes, bit by bit I think I'm learning my son. In a sly way - to get him excited about reading, and in a practical way - to celebrate the fact he's a boy. And as I learn to understand him, I love him more and more.
This evening I was making dinner and he went outside to play on the swing. The kitchen window looks out into the back yard and as Joshua was going out he said, "Look outside every now and then and see what I'm doing." So I did. Every couple of minutes I stopped what I was doing and just watched him maneuver the swing from side to side. (Going side to side is so much more fun than back and forth!) Standing there watching him, I prayed and thanked God for this precious boy. And I think each time I looked out at him, I loved him just a little more.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The Irritable Mother's Survival Kit

Today was my kids' last day of school. Now they are all excited to be on summer vacation. Today my husband also left for the weekend - a work-related trip. Hmmm, this situation is strangely reminiscent of last year at this same time. Last year, though, Brian was gone for five days and this year it's only three.

Brian's absence a year ago, coming right on the heels of my kids being out of school, prompted me to consider how Jesus could possibly have loved the crowds of people who pressed in on Him and made endless demands. I had a crowd of only three, and they were successfully taking me to my wits' end. I wondered how Jesus loved so well.
As I looked at Jesus' habits in dealing with people, I felt I was able to take some of the things He did and apply them to my kids. The ideas were really so simple, and I was amazed at how much they helped me when I was feeling particularly irritable. While I was going through this time of learning, I was also in the midst of writing my book so I wrote down the things I was learning and called it The Irritable Mother's Survival Kit. I intended to include it as an appendix in the book.
Toward the end of the editing process, however, my editor called me and said she thought I should make the Survival Kit "more available." She thought I should include it on my website. So, I did.

As I was thinking about the challenge it is for me sometimes to love my kids as well as I want to, and how much the ideas in the Survival Kit have helped me, I realized I've never talked about the Survival Kit here in my blog. (It's an honest oversight. Really. I wasn't trying to be selfish!) Anyway, if you've never visited my website, please consider yourself invited to stop over. You can sign up for The Irritable Mother's Survival Kit on the homepage and it will be delivered to your inbox shortly.
Here's to loving our kids well this summer!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Memories with Dad Edition

Today for Time Travel Tuesday, in honor of Father's Day on the horizon, Annie has asked us to share memories about our dad. I am happy to participate, and hesitate for only one reason. I'm sure some of you out there have grown up thinking you had the best dad in the world, and I'm afraid you'll be greatly disappointed when you discover the world's best dad was actually mine!
When you've wiped away your tears, you're welcome to continue reading and discover why my dad is so great.

First, my dad loves me. I never had an opportunity to doubt his love, because he told me about it all the time. We had a little game wherein he would say, "Know what, Karen?" I'd say, "What?" Dad would say, "I love you," and I'd say, "I love you, too." We still play it sometimes. And guess what my favorite game is to play with my kids?
I knew my dad loved me, but I also knew he meant business when it came to obedience. I'm telling you, there was nothing quite like his silhouette in my doorway to make me wish I'd been behaving better. My sister and I shared a room and had a trundle bed, you know, the kind where one bed hides underneath the other. Well, on occasion (very, very, very rarely, I might add!) when we were supposed to be in bed and quiet we might have, accidentally, been jumping on the bed. Our laughter and good time totally overshadowed any thoughts we may have had about going to bed as we were supposed to, until the inevitable happened. The wooden slats holding up the mattress, which were being moved about because of our jumping, would eventually fall out and the matress stood on its end. It made quite a noise and stood very tall. But that was nothing compared to the figure which almost as quickly filled our doorway.
My backside always regretted the fun my feet had jumping on the bed! Yes, my dad had strong arms. And his strong arms play a central role in my best memory of him.
I'm not sure how old I was when this incident happened. I only know I couldn't have been older than seven because I had my own room, so my little brother hadn't been born yet, and I was seven and a half (very important to include the 'half' back then, remember?) when David was born.
So anyway, I was seven or younger. In the middle of the night I heard a very loud crashing sound coming from downstairs. I didn't know if it was aliens breaking in to take me away, a robber coming in to steal my toys, or a monster on his way to eat me, but I was scared! I jumped out of bed and raced down the hallway to my mom and dad's room. My heart was pounding with fear but I knew if I could somehow make it to their room, I would be safe. So I ran. It couldn't have been more than twelve feet from my doorway to theirs, but somehow it felt like I was running forever.
When I got to their room I threw the door open, ready to run and jump onto their bed and cling to safety. But I didn't have to go that far. When I threw the door open I found my dad squatting on the floor with his arms outstretched toward me, waiting for me to jump into them, where I clung to safety. He had heard me coming and was waiting for me. (Kind of reminds me of another Father I have!)
When I was calm enough, my dad went downstairs to investigate. I was confident he could take down any aliens, robbers, or monsters he might encounter. Turns out it was just a metal tray which had been leaning against the wall. It had fallen to the floor and made that terrible noise. So my dad assured me everything was OK and I went back to bed...Safe and sound, knowing my hero was just down the hall.

So there you have it, my favorite memory of the best dad in the world. Stop on over to Annie's place to read accounts about other great dads.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

You've Gotta Have Priorities

If you read the title of this post and thought I was going to be giving a sermonette from Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, I hope you won't be disappointed. As much as I believe that verse to be true and important, the priorities of which I am presently speaking are not spiritual at all.

This morning Matthew came downstairs for breakfast wearing his pajamas. He ate in his typical slow fashion and I eventually set the timer, telling him he needed to finish up and get dressed. He picked up his clothes and went into the bathroom - to change, I thought.
After a couple of minutes I peeked my head in to see how Matthew was progressing with getting dressed for school. He was sitting on the toilet with his pants around his ankles. That's when I saw he had pooped in his pull-up last night. (I honestly pondered my phrasing of that last sentence for a minute, but then I figured, We're all moms here, and decided you could probably handle my word choice!) Seeing his pull-up, I pretty well knew what his behind looked like, and determined he would need to hop in the shower before he got dressed. Soooo, I *encouraged* him to finish up and get in the shower.
Have I ever complained here about how slowly Matthew moves sometimes? OK, I realize some things can't be rushed, but as I looked at the clock and considered the fact we now had to add a shower to the morning routine before the car pool arrived, I just had to rush him along. So, into the shower he went.
Just as I turned the water off, Joshua called, "The carpool is here!" Ahhh! Matthew isn't dressed! "Please ask them to wait just a minute or two!" I called back.
Quickly, I helped Matthew dry off and get dressed. Well, his clothes helped a little too, by soaking up the drips the towel missed...As we got his shoes on and he stood up I looked at his hair, which was desperately in need of water and a comb, and realized he hadn't brushed his teeth yet either. Oh, forget it, I thought. I walked him to the door and wished him a good day as I kissed him goodbye.

Yes, I sent my son to school with bedhead and un-brushed teeth. But he was dressed, and he didn't smell like poop. And, hey, you've gotta have priorities!


Friday, June 01, 2007

The Centurion

When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Luke 7:1-10

This passage from Luke is what I read during my quiet time this morning. I am familiar with this passage and have always been impressed by the centurion for having such great faith. This morning, however, I wondered why Jesus went to him in the first place.
When the Jewish elders came to Jesus, they said the centurion "deserved" to have Jesus come and heal his servant. Surely Jesus knew no one deserved to have Him come, but He went with them anyway. I wondered what motivated Him to go. Did He know what was going to happen next? Did He know the centurion would send others to say, "I'm not worthy!" and that he would display great faith? Did Jesus know He would be amazed by this man's faith?
As I continued to read this passage, I continued to ponder Jesus' motivation. I don't think it was the smooth talking of the Jewish elders. I wondered, was it foreknowledge of the man's faith, or was it Jesus' selfless love?

Then I had to turn the question onto myself. Jesus, why do You respond to me? I am a broken, unworthy woman. In my heart I desire to please You. I want to have a faith which amazes you. But Lord, I know I fall short! I believe it is Your selfless, stubborn love which causes You to respond to me. There is nothing worthy about me. I know that full well. Thank You, Jesus, for your perfect love!

So I walked through my day today dwelling on the truth that Jesus loves me, not because of anything I've done, but because it's what He's chosen to do. Ahhhh!

And, my friend, He's done the same for you. Isn't He wonderful?

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