Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

I want to take a moment to wish all my friends in the blogosphere a very Merry Christmas! May your hearts be filled with wonder and thanksgiving as you consider Jesus - the Savior King.

I'll be taking a blogging-break now. Will be back after the first of the year.

Love to you,

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Monday, December 22, 2008

God Changed My Heart

We just spent the weekend with the Hossink side of the family to celebrate Christmas. It's always nice to be together with all the family, but if I am to be honest (And you know I always am here!) there is one person I look forward to seeing more than anyone else.
That would be my sister-in-law.
She is my age, she's a mom, and she is also my sister-in-Christ. I love spending time with her talking about mom stuff, kid stuff, and how God holds it all together. And as we talked this weekend, God showed me one more thing about my sister-in-law. She's brilliant!

We were talking about the times when our children are asking for something and we are saying, "No." And, at least for the two of us, sometimes the NO is coming selfishly. In those instances - when our children insist on knowing why we're saying NO - we realize our selfish attitude, we're convicted by the Holy Spirit, and we want to change our answer. (OK, we don't want to change our answer. But the Spirit of God has a way of getting us to do what we do not want to do!) My sister-in-law said at those times she tells her daughters they need to thank God for changing Mommy's heart.

And that's when I recognized her brilliance.

I thought about how many times I have struggled with changing my answer in those situations. The realization of my selfishness and my desire to change most often comes in sync with my child pestering me with why's and please's. And I hesitate to change my NO to YES, because I do not - in any way, shape or form - want to reinforce begging. I do not want my children to think if they just pester me long enough about something, I'll give in.
So I am reluctant to change my answer because, if I do, what else are they going to think except that their begging paid off?

Now, thanks to God speaking through my sister-in-law, I know what to do. I just need to tell my children the truth.

"God changed my heart, so I am changing my answer."

And if this new response motivates my children to flood heaven's gates with requests that God change my heart, well, how wonderful would that be??!! *grin*

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Are You a Burnt Out Mom?

I have a stat counter linked to my blog and every now and then I like to log on to it and see how many people are reading here. (That lets me know there are a lot of "lurkers" out there...Some day, won't you please leave a comment just to say, "Hi"? Pleeease!)
One of the things I like to look at on the stat counter is the "Key Word Activity." This feature lets me know what words people use in a search engine which bring them to my blog.
Lots of people are searching for information on the Pass the Parcel game, and that makes me happy - knowing they'll have some fun with their kids.
I regularly see people searching for a survival kit for motherhood, and am hopeful that mine will be helpful to them.
It makes me laugh to see so many people looking for information on removing armpit stains. And I'm glad I posted about that topic.
And it simply delights my heart to see several people wondering how they can trust God. Not that I'm glad they're having difficulty trusting, but since they're questioning Him, I am glad He has led them to my blog post about the same issue and I pray He'll speak through it.
But there is one key word phrase which comes up frequently that just makes me sad.

Burnt out mom

Whenever I see those words in the Key Word Activity, I sit and wonder what the woman who typed those words is going through at the moment. Is she crying? Yelling? Slamming things? Walking around silently with a hopeless look on her face? I hope she's praying.
And then I have days like the ones I've had recently, and I think I might know very well what that woman was feeling.

Last night Brian was reading through some Proverbs with Joshua before bed. I was standing guard over Matthew to make sure he stayed on task getting ready for bed. (Watching over the shoulder of my little ADHD friend is sometimes necessary. Last night he couldn't stay focused to save his life!)
As I stood watching Matthew, frustrated with him because he wasn't listening to me, I heard Brian read a proverb about the look on your face being a reflection of your heart. And I imagined what the look on my face was at the moment - thankful I wasn't near a mirror to actually see it. I knew my expression was not one of peace and joy. I thought about that proverb, and my heart, and leaned my head against the wall as I sighed, My heart is tired, Lord.
There are so many good things going on - class parties, writing our Christmas letter, getting ready to go see family, making treats with the kids. There are lots of necessary things - appointments, correspondences, assisting with tasks. And things I fully enjoy - speaking, working out, and - yes - writing blog posts.
But last night I realized just how much all these "things" are weighing me down. As I contemplated the fact that I didn't think I could muster up a joyful look for my face, I realized, I am that burnt out mom.

God used my realization to remind me I need to get away with Him for a while. I need to be in a quiet place without appointments to keep or tasks to accomplish so I can simply receive His love. And it's a snow day, so I know it isn't going to happen today. But that's my new goal - to find a day, soon, when I can get away.
Until then, I know God will sustain me. I know He is good and He will carry me. And I long for the day when He can just hold me.

How about you? If you're feeling a little burnt out, too, may I encourage you to seek time to just be with God?

I also want to invite all my Burnt Out Mom friends to visit my website for a free copy of the Irritable Mother's Survival Kit. May God use it to help bring hope to your heart.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News You Can Use

Do you remember when I wrote about the Dream Calendar?
My Dream Calendar arrived the other day, and I'm telling you, it is the most gorgeous, beautiful, precious, lovely, you-have-got-to-get-one-too calendar I have ever seen. Each month has an adorable picture of a child who has a life altering condition, along with that child's "story." These children - and their dream to have a safe play ground - tug at my heart.
C'mon now, 2009 is coming soon. If you still need a calendar for the new year, click here and get this one!

AND, if you are still hoping for a chance to win a free copy of my new book, Finding Joy, click here. Mary Beth and I had an interview, and she is giving away a copy of my book. Hurry, though, she's drawing the winner Friday!

OK, that's the news for today!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Need Relational Help???

Anyone anticipating some relational, uh, challenges with upcoming family gatherings?

Check this out! (And get ready to laugh. ***grin***)


Karen

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How Much Can You Handle?

I do not remember where I was when I heard this, or who it was that said it, but last week someone made a statement to me which is really ringing true tonight.

She said to me, "You know how some people say, 'God won't give you anything you can't handle?' Well, I don't believe it. God gives me lots of things I can't handle. And He handles it all!"
Can I get an "Amen!" on that one?

How many times has someone tried to encourage you - or have you tried to comfort someone else - with that statement?
God won't give you anything you can't handle.
Really?
Because as I have gone through life - especially since I have been a mom - I have come across more and more circumstances which I simply cannot handle.
Need to love a child who is prone to angry outbursts and fits of rage. Can't do it.
Must be patient with an ADHD child, who simply cannot maintain focus. Can't do that, either.
Compassion required for individuals who have made foolish choices. Don't have it.
Need to serve my family selflessly, even when they don't seem to appreciate the time and effort I put in. Yeah, I don't think so.

Shall I continue?
I could give you the play-by-play of this evening's activities...

The point is, God has given me so much in my roles as wife and mom which I simply cannot handle. And because He is so good He gives me the grace I need, moment by moment, to make it through.
I don't have the capacity to love. My patience is much too thin. Compassion is lacking. And there is still too much of me in me to do much of anything selflessly. I cannot handle all God has called me to be and do!
So I fall at His feet - needy and grateful for His grace in my life, for God's ability to handle all He has called me to be and do.

I leave you now with the final verse I read to the kids before bed tonight. Yeah, this verse which fits me so perfectly, from a psalm I "randomly" chose to read. I soooo do not believe in randomness. Clearly,God picked this psalm out tonight!

Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.

Psalm 70:5

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Monday, December 08, 2008

God is Good!

Last week I told you about the message I was going to be presenting to a group of women at an Advent Breakfast on Saturday.

Today I want to tell you about how good our God is!

Friday night I arrived in Ohio and had dinner with the women on the committee who had put the Breakfast together. After dinner we went over to the church and spent time praying for the women who would be in attendance Saturday morning. We went around the room and prayed at each table, at each seat, for each woman.
It thrilled my heart to consider the fact that God knew exactly who would be at the Breakfast, and as I prayed I asked Him to speak through me to the heart of each woman.
When Saturday morning came and I stood in the church watching the women arrive, I began to feel insecure. I looked at these ladies walking in and I started to think, What do I have to say which will minister to these women in any way? Who am I to think they will want to listen to me? Why am I here?
But God reminded me He is the One who arranged this event. He chose the speaker and the listeners. He inspired the message. And though my mouth would be moving, He would be speaking.
So I quit worrying and spent more time praying.
And when it was time, I got up to share the message God had planted in my heart.Though there were still moments when I doubted myself, I spoke the words God placed on my heart and continued to pray with each one.
And our God - because He is so good and so faithful, He showed up and spoke to those women. After the Breakfast was over I stood outside the sanctuary and greeted women. Some shared with me through tears how God had spoken right to their situation. They told me, "This is just what I needed to hear today." I heard stories about illnesses, reconciliations, heart breaks, and hope. And each of the women who shared these stories told me they understood that God's timing was perfect, and they knew they could trust Him - even when the timing didn't make sense to them.
I had gone to speak for these women with a great desire to be a blessing and encouragement to them. But I stood in the back of the church as the recipient of blessing, because God was using these women to show me His goodness and faithfulness.
I'm telling you, God will never cease to amaze me. He allows me to see my inadequacies. He lets me remember that I am nothing. He permits me to doubt my abilities. Then God swoops in and displays His power, His love, His faithfulness. And I stand in awe of our great God!

Please take some time today to reflect on God's faithfulness in your life. Remember who He is, and what He has done.
If you're in the middle of a difficult circumstance, ask God to remind you of the times in the past when He has seen you through other trials. God never changes. You can trust Him to do what is good and right!

And before I go, here's one more picture from Saturday. This is me with the Advent Breakfast committee. They were a lovely group of women. *grin*

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Time Is It?

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) and everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:1-7
Is this a well-known passage to you? Perhaps you grew up hearing it read every year right about now? And maybe it's so familiar that you tend to breeze through it without giving much thought.
That had become my habit. You know, Oh, I know how this story goes. (Brain shuts off.)
One of the many wonderful things my mentor has taught me to do is to read through scripture slowly and meditate on it - allowing time for God to speak. And do you know what happened when I did that with this passage from Luke?

I found myself thinking God was crazy!

As I worked my way through these verses, one of them jumped out at me and I couldn't let go of it.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
Luke 2:6
Does that statement strike anyone else as odd?

As I thought about it, considering the fact that God is supposed to be in control of everything, I wondered why He didn't work out the timing of Jesus' birth better. Why didn't He arrange events so that when the time came for the baby to be born, Mary would have been home in a comfortable place - where her mother could have been around to help her out? God knew when she was going to be taking this journey with Joseph. Why didn't He adjust the time when He caused her to become pregnant, so she wouldn't have been on a long journey when she was about to deliver?
I kept going over and over those thoughts in my head. God, why didn't You work out the timing better???

But do you know what? God worked the timing and details out perfectly. Jesus was born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecies about Him, and God knew exactly what He was doing!

Having convinced me that God - in fact - did know what He was doing, His Spirit went on to show me something about myself. I realized there are so many times in my life when the timing just doesn't seem "right" to me, and I question God's actions. I have in mind the way things should go, and if God's plan isn't in line with mine, I tend to doubt Him.

Know what I mean?

Yet when I remember Who God is, and remind myself of all He has done, I know I can trust Him to work out the details and the timing perfectly.
******************************************************************

I am looking forward to sharing this message with a wonderful group of women at an Advent Breakfast at Cornerstone Alliance Church in Marion, Ohio this coming Saturday. Registration has "officially" closed, but if you're going to be in the neighborhood, I bet they'd welcome you. Give them a call. I'd love to see you there!

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

This is Hard!

First, congratulations go to my friends ADHD and Chatty Kelly. They won the drawing for the Dream Calendar. The rest of you who are planning to need a new calendar soon, click on over and order yourself one!

And now, for your daily dose of encouragement, join me at Fitness Together.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One More Chance to Win My Book

Hey, Debbie is giving away several things this week. And one of them is a copy of my book, Finding Joy. She'll be posting the info about it on Friday and will draw the winner Sunday. Just thought you might like to know...

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Idea for You

If you haven't read this post about the Dream Calendar, please take a look. And leave a comment to win a copy!

Last night, the kids and I had a great time with Jesus.
We sat down to read the Bible and pray before they went to bed and I opened my Bible up to Luke 18 - the story about the blind beggar who received his sight. In this story, a blind man was sitting by the road calling out to Jesus as He walked by. Jesus ordered the man to be brought to Him and asked,

"What do you want me to do for you?"
"Lord, I want to see," he replied.
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

Luke 18:41-43

I read the story and paused for a minute. Then I asked my children, "If you were sitting by the road and Jesus walked by, and He stopped and asked you, 'What do you want me to do for you?' what would you say to Him?"
I'm telliing you, the conversation that ensued delighted my heart as I got a peek into the hearts of my children. I told them how I would reply to that question, too, and then I prayed - asking Jesus to do those things for us.
And I look forward to praising God with them as we see Him meeting these needs in our lives!

Do you read the Bible with your kids? Let me encourage you to read Luke 18:35-43 together and talk about how each of you would answer Jesus' question. Then pray, and have faith, and praise Him together!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dream Calendar

Have you noticed the date? We are nearing the end of November! That means a new year is just a month away.

And you know what that means, right? You're going to need a new calendar for 2009. Well, look no further. I have just the calendar for you!

OK, I don't have it. My friend does.
But I get to tell you about it.

You may remember a few times in the past when I have asked you to pray for the daughter of a friend of mine. Renee's daughter, Allie, has a blood disease called ITP. (Well, it's called something a lot longer than that, but ITP is all I can spell!) Anyway, God has been moving through their trials - bringing much good out of the "bad." The most recent thing has been the desire He has put into Renee's heart to see two playgrounds built which will be safe for children with special needs, like Allie.
But building playgrounds costs money.
Lots of it.
Yet, when God is moving, obstacles don't make dreams die.

I asked Renee to tell you about her dreams and the Dream Calendar.

As a mother of a special needs child, I have lots of dreams! My dreams often involve a total healing for Allie - selfishly, I want that to be an earthly healing. I dream of a time when Allie does not have to go to the doctor so frequently. I dream of a time when Abbie can play with her little sister without fear of injuring her. I dream of seeing my girls ride together on their bikes and scooters. I have a lot of dreams!!!!

But...the reality is, God has chosen our family for such a time as this. He is the ultimate Healer and when He is ready, Allie will be healed. He is the Great Physician and when it is time, Allie's doctor's visits will come to an end. He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother and until Allie gets better, He will continue to protect her so that she can enjoy time with her sister. God is helping me to see that His dreams and plans for me and my girls are a lot more purposeful than my dreams for myself.

One of the new dreams that God has placed in our heart is to reach out to other families who are dealing with special situations as well. So, Clouds of Hope was formed. Clouds of Hope is a non profit organization whose mission is to reach out to families who are dealing with life altering illnesses. Our goal for the year 2009 is to help build two adaptable playgrounds in our community to offer a place for ALL children to play together - regardless of their ability or disability. In order for that dream to become a reality, we need your help!

Annie Agarwal Photography has graciously sponsored a calendar for 2009 - The Dream Calendar. The calendar features children in our community who will benefit from an adaptable playground. Each month is dedicated to a child who is facing some sort of life altering illness. Annie has captured their spirits and shared their stories! You can order one of these calendars and help keep our dream alive by going to www.thedreamcalendar.com. And when you get one, could you take the time to pray for the families who are represented each month? Each one of them faces unique challenges everyday. And, from personal experience, I can tell you that prayer is what carries us through.

Soooo, I have purchased three Dream Calendars. One for me, and the others for two of you. Here's what I want you to do: Please follow this link over to the Dream Calendar site and scroll down so you can take a look at the pictures Annie took of these children. (When you get to the bottom of the page, click on "next page" so you can see more!)
They're beautiful!
Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me you would like to be entered into my drawing to win a Dream Calendar.
The reason I want you to go see the pictures first is because, while I am happy to give away my two extra copies, I really want you to buy a calendar for yourself if you don't win one. You know, to support the dream! And I am absolutely sure that when you see the pictures of these kids, you will want one of these calendars. (By the way, they're selling them for only $10.)
So, go take a peek and then leave me a comment, letting me know how precious you think these kids are. *grin*
I'll pick the winners Sunday the 30th, and will announce them on December 1. That way, if you don't win, you'll have plenty of time to get your own copy before 2009 begins.
Be sure to leave your email address if it isn't embedded in your comment so I can contact you if I pick your name!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Praise & Coffee Report

The Praise & Coffee Night last night was lots of fun. But I got home really late (Forgot I was training at 6:00 this morning. UGH! And Ashley didn't even have pity on me when I told her I had only slept 6 hours. *pouty face*) so I'm tired today.
AND, I forgot to take my camera last night.
But, Sue and Jennifer have come to my rescue by posting their own pictures. Thanks, girls!
So, if you want to see the fun we had, click on over and check it out.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Trusting God isn't Easy

***As a general rule, I always try to keep my posts on the short side. But today there is much on my heart I need to share. Please, please - take your time in reading and allow God to speak to your heart.***

Sometimes it is easy to trust God, isn't it?
Sometimes He shows Himself so clearly and we cannot deny His presence. We see Him moving and we cannot help but rejoice and give Him praise. I love it when He moves like that, and you know I love to give testimony every time.

But sometimes trusting God isn't so easy.
Sometimes we don't see Him moving. We don't understand what He's doing and we wonder what's going on.

I have been praying for a few situations which have recently caused me to increase my heavenly petitions. The earthly circumstances had become grim, but God gave me hope anyway.
As He does so often, God had me in just the right scripture on just the right day. I was thinking about these grim circumstances and found myself reading John 11 – the story of Lazarus' death, and Jesus' demonstration of power and authority as He raised Lazarus from the dead.
I read that story and thought about Mary and Martha's belief that it was all over for Lazarus. They thought Jesus had missed the opportunity to help their sick brother, because he was now dead. But Jesus knew the sickness was not going to end in death. He knew the situation was for God's glory. And He told the women if they just believed they would have that for which they asked.
I rejoiced in that story and spent time meditating on the truth that things are not always as they seem. Lazarus' death wasn't the end. It was a resurrection in the making!
And I began praying for these grim situations with the view that – although they appeared to be deaths, they could just be resurrections in the making.
In the following days I continued to be in scripture which pointed to Lazarus' miracle and which reminded me that whatever you ask for in prayer, if you believe you have received it, it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) I felt like God was assuring me He was in the process of working miracles for these situations and I was praying and praying and praying. I was believing God would work a resurrection.

So yesterday I found out one of the situations has been put on hold. It isn't over. My friend is still fighting. But I was praying for a resurrection, not more waiting. And I have to admit I was disappointed.

And this morning I found out the little baby I have been praying for passed away yesterday. Sunday night I joined a bunch of other people – begging God to heal this little boy here on earth. It really looked like he was being healed. Even the doctors thought there was some divine intervention happening. I was sure He was going to bring a resurrection out of what had appeared to be a death.
I was sure of it.
Hadn't the Spirit been confirming these things to me over the past week?
But yesterday the baby died. And this morning I sat in front of my computer reading about it, with tears streaming down my cheeks, my heart breaking, and lots of questions flowing heavenward.
Why, God?
I thought You were giving us a resurrection. What happened?
Have I been hearing You wrong these past few days?
Was my faith not strong enough?
God, I know You have all the power and authority. What's going on here?
And what does this mean for all the other situations about which I have been praying? Can I still have hope for them???


The roads were icy this morning, causing a two-hour delay for school, so my kids were all home while this was going on with me. Thus I retreated to my bedroom to cry with Jesus, to talk with Him, and to let Him comfort me. I curled up with Him just like I told you about in this video, and I just let my tears and thoughts and feelings fall on Him.
And God's Spirit reminded me of this:
* God is still good. Though I do not understand the why's and wherefore's of His actions - God is still good.
* God did heal that baby boy. I wanted him to be healed here on earth, but that was not God's plan. That baby boy is free from all pain and needles and tears, and he is resting in the arms of Jesus right now.
* My friend's situation is not over. God may still resurrect her dream. Things are not always as they appear.
* God is worthy of praise whether He moves in the ways I want Him to, or not.
* And, I can trust Him in every moment of every day - to do what is good and right - whether I understand the reasons, or not.

So what do we do when trusting God isn't easy?
What do we do when we don't understand what's going on?
I have been immersed in these thoughts and I keep coming back to this one thing: I know who God is. I know He is good. I have seen His goodness and faithfulness in the past, and I know He doesn't change. And so...I choose to trust God, even when trusting Him isn't easy.

Where are you today, my friend? If you are in a situation like mine, I trust God has brought you here according to His perfect timing, and I pray He has spoken words of hope to your heart.
You can trust Him!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Hey, West Michigan Girls!

Do you know Sue from Praise and Coffee? She has started a new thing called Praise and Coffee Nights - a chance for the Girls to get together and share time praising God and testifying to the things He is doing in our lives.
The very first Praise and Coffee Night took place last week on the east side of Michigan and it sounds like it was great.
This Thursday there is another one being held from 7-9 pm at the Plainwell Coffee Mill in Plainwell, and I get to go to this one! The first hour or so is going to be a time of casual fellowship. (i.e. talking, laughing and drinking coffee...Yeah, except for those of us who don't drink coffee. I'm trusting they'll have some good hot chocolate!) Then Sue and I are both going to have a few minutes to speak.
I am looking forward to this evening together - to encouraging other moms, to seeing Sue again, and to meeting new friends. If you're in West Michigan, I hope you'll come!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Speaking Thru Me

Are you involved in Women's Ministry? Are you ever in need of a speaker for your Women's events? Then you've got to read this article about Speaking Thru Me Ministries. I am on their speaking team and am excited to share this information with you!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beauty in Cancun

Yes, there was an awful lot of beauty in Cancun. These pictures testify to it!

But, for me the most beautiful thing in Cancun wasn't anything I could see with my eyes. I saw it with my heart and I'll tell you about it after you enjoy these pics.





Lovely, no? And this picture of Brian and I captures pretty well the way I was feeling throughout our entire vacation. Ahhhh, loving it!

Now, for the best part. Cancun was beautiful because God made Himself so obvious to me.
Each morning we were there Brian had meetings to attend, so I used that time to work on a talk I am preparing for an Advent Breakfast next month. The theme for this Breakfast is Rejoicing in God's Timing and I will be speaking from Luke 2.
On November 5 as I was preparing my talk, I considered the fact that Jesus needed to be born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy about Him. But I didn't know where that prophecy was written in the Old Testament. That evening I asked Brian about it, he told me where he thought it was, and I determined to find it the next day.
Soooo, the next day before I began working on my talk again I was having my quiet time. I am into the New Testament now in my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program and the reading for November 6 was John 7-8. And do you know what it says in John 7:42? "Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" And the superscript letter in my Bible referred me to Micah 5:2, the Old Testament reference.
Can you believe it? Back on January 15 when I began this reading program, when I chose to read chronologically - rather than historically, or from beginning to end - God knew that on November 6 I would need to find that Old Testament reference. And He made it so.
Someone could try to tell me it was all a coincidence, but I know it wasn't. I know God timed that out just perfectly for me.
He didn't need to do it. I could have found Micah 5:2. But I am convinced God was working in the details of my timing to bolster my confidence as I bring the message of rejoicing in His timing to the women at this Advent Breakfast. And believe me - I was rejoicing in His timing that whole day!

If you are going to be near Marion, Ohio on December 6, consider yourself invited to this Advent Breakfast. It will be at Cornerstone Alliance Church. Tickets are $10 each and you can call them to make your reservation. I would love to see you there!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Can I Get a Witness?

Sometimes God makes Himself so blatantly obvious, I cannot help but know He's acting on my behalf. And He did it again today.

I came home from the glorious weather I experienced in Cancun to...snow! Not a lot, but - still.
I don't think I'm going to be maintaining this tan.
*pouty face*
Anyway, it's getting c-c-c-cold around here, and today I realized I ought to make sure the kids are equipped for winter weather. As I was running down the list in my mind of all the things I thought I was going to need to buy, the potential price tag was beginning to overwhelm me. Boots, coats, gloves, hats. Oh, and snow pants! For all three of them.
But before we went to the store, I had the kids try on last year's gear to see if anything still fits. And I went through various closets to see if there were any items I had tucked away for "someday."

This is what I discovered:

Elizabeth's boots still fit.
Which is a good thing, since I don't think she ever wore them last year. She's at that age where she doesn't think it's necessary to wear boots. I can't really fault her - I remember going through that stage, too. But I cannot, in good conscience, not have boots for her. You know, in case she ever decides she ought to wear them.
Anyway, I didn't need to buy boots for her.
In the front closet I found snow pants for everyone. And I found Elizabeth's hat and gloves from last year, which will still work this year.
I already knew her coat still fits - so Elizabeth is good to go.

Joshua and I went through his closet and found a coat which fits him. And in the pockets were gloves! At the end of last winter I bought two hats from a store that was going out of business, so I knew Joshua's hat situation was set. Next, I found boots in another closet that friends from church had given us a while ago - which were really big then, but fit Joshua this year.
Another one, ready for winter.

Then it was Matthew's turn.
He's still wearing last year's coat, but in my search with Joshua I came across another coat which will fit Matthew this year, too. It's nice to have an extra! The second hat I bought last year was for him, so that was good. And I discovered a pair of gloves I had purchased with the hats - which I had forgotten about - and they fit Matthew this year.
But last year's boots are too small.

So my "Need to Buy For the Kids This Year" list came down to one pair of boots.
That's it!
Just one pair of boots!
It was as if every time I turned around and looked in a closet or on a shelf, or had one of my children try on an article of clothing, God was saying to me, Don't worry, darling. I've got you covered. I am going to take care of all your needs. Just trust Me, dear one. I can handle this.
After I had completed my "list" I came out to the kids and celebrated with them this very obvious expression of God's provision for us. He reminded me that I do not need to worry about what to wear, or what to eat, or what to drink. (See Matthew 6:25-34) He's got me covered!

OK, I need to get the kids going on bedtime, but God delighted me so much today with this display of His faithfulness I just had to take a moment and share it with you.

In the next day or two I hope to post the rest of my Cancun pictures and share another way God delighted my heart while I was there.

Now, can I get a witness?

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Ahhhh!

Hello, friends!

I just got online to check in for our flight home tomorrow.
*sniff*
Yes. All good things must come to an end, and the time has come for our vacation in Mexico to end. We have had a great time - went swimming with dolphins today!!! I hope to find a way to post the video from that experience, and I took several pictures which I want to share with you.

But I'm sure I'll be spending Sunday playing with my kids and getting re-settled at home.
And I'm speaking Monday and Tuesday.
And I have to organize some thoughts to share at a baby shower next weekend.
And I need to work on a short presentation for Joshua's class at school.
And...I'm not sure when I'll be able to give you a play-by-play of my adventures at the Barcelo Resort. So before I go back to my room, I'm going to post a couple pictures for you to enjoy.

This is the view out of my room. The handsome man is my husband - not part of the resort package!

And this is a picture from the beach, looking out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now I'm off to enjoy one more evening of bliss!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm Leaving on a Jetplane!

OK, let's see. Where did I put that list?

Instructions for Grandma? Check
Meal plans written? Check
Groceries purchased? Not yet
Laundry done? Working on it
Bags packed? *sigh*
Passport ready? Check
Boarding pass printed? I'll get to it
Blog post for Wednesday? Check

Tomorrow at this time I will be at the Detroit Metro airport with my husband. We are so looking forward to this trip!
Of course, I will miss my bloggy friends, but I have put together a special post for you which will "air" Wednesday. And I WILL remember to bring my camera so I can share some of my memories with you.

I'll be back next week. See you then!

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Don't Touch Her Candy!

Just a quick laugh for you today...

First, you need to understand - my daughter has a very, very sweet tooth. Candy is a BIG deal to her. Hence, she has been looking forward to last night's trick-or-treating festivities and was thrilled by the loot she brought home.
This afternoon, Mindy managed to make her way downstairs to Elizabeth's bedroom, and she got into the candy. When I went down to check it out I was surprised by the mess I saw. Elizabeth proceeded to give me an inventory of each sugary item which our dear puppy had destroyed. Then she looked me in the eye and said, with all seriousness, "Mom, if there is a place that good little dogs go when they die, (pause) I don't think Mindy is going there."

Yep. Mess with Elizabeth's candy and you're doomed!

Whew, I'm sure glad there were some extra pieces left over from what I handed out, so I don't need to ask Elizabeth for some of her stash! *grin*

Enjoy your weekend.

*****Edited to add:
As far as we know, Mindy only chewed on one Milk Dud. She seemed to be on a search and destroy mission, rather than a search and consume. So, I think the only "sick" one is Elizabeth. Sick that she lost so much candy.

Karen

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Great Give-away

OK, you are seriously going to want to go over to Debbie's blog. She is doing a month-long give-away and you can win some very nice stuff. (Including a copy of Finding Joy, which will be part of the last week's prizes.)
So go on over and enter to win.
And remember - 'Tis better to give than to receive. But in this case, you can enjoy the receiving!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Open Invitation

Where will you be on my favorite day of the year???

That would be November, 11. Or 11-11, as I prefer to say it! If you are wondering why I have such an affinity for this particular number, click here.

If, on 11-11, you are going to be anywhere in the vicinity of Troy, Michigan, I want to invite you to MOPS. I will be speaking at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy and they are opening the meeting up to non-MOPS members. Of course, they want to make sure there will be enough food(!) for everyone, so if you would like to come please email me (Karen at IrritableMother dot com). I will put you in touch with the coordinator and you may even be able to work out child care.
I would love to see you there!

I have a few other speaking engagements coming up which will also be open to guests. I'll keep you posted. (Pun fully intended. *grin*)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WFMW - Amazing Whites!!!


A few weeks ago I posted a WFMW entry about arm pit stains, and Mary Beth left a comment with a recipe for getting rid of stains.
I'm sure it was not a coincidence (Because I am convinced God is involved in everything. *grin*) that the next day my husband came to me with a badly stained white shirt - yellowed collar, and various other spots - but no arm pit stains. I told him I had a new recipe to try on it, and he gathered a few other "white" shirts for me to clean.
Well, last night I finally got around to it and I am telling you - I am amazed! These shirts look fantastic!!!
So, here's what I did:
I mixed three gallons of HOT water in my kitchen sink with 1-1/2 cups bleach and 1-1/2 cups dishwasher detergent (I tripled the original recipe, because I had several shirts to clean.) and soaked the shirts for about an hour, "stirring" a couple times in that hour. Then I rinsed them and washed as normal. Seriously amazing results!

And that? Works for me.

For more Works For Me Wednesday ideas, please visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Wrap up

Last week I did a series which I'm wrapping up today. Here are the previous posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
It was my goal to keep the posts "short-ish." So if you missed any of them, I don't think it will take you long to catch up...Go ahead. I'll wait for you!

OK, as promised, now you can see me wrap this thing up.


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Friday, October 24, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 5

If you need to catch up...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Praying on all occasions and carrying scripture in our pockets are two things we can do to meet our needs for fellowship with God and spiritual growth.

Even when our times aren't quiet.

But - as I see it - the third need we have which Quiet Times fulfill, can only be met by God, Himself. We need Him to cover us with His love, and that is something over which we have no control. It is completely up to Him to do it.
I can point to many times when I have been reading my Bible and God has shown me something so delightful, I get the sense He just gave me a big kiss. And there are times when I have been praying about something and when the answer finally comes, it's like God is embracing me in a tender hug.
I simply love it when these events occur.
But an even greater delight for me has been the realization that I don't have to be doing "spiritual" things in order for God to pour His love into me. He'll do the pouring whenever He wants to. He is present in every moment and never wastes an opportunity to show Himself. I just need to be paying attention so I don't miss Him.
And do you know what I have noticed? My children give God lots and lots of opportunities to show Himself! It makes sense, doesn't it? As mothers we're with our children more than we're with anyone else, right? So who better for God to use to demonstrate His love to us, than our children?
I am absolutely convinced God uses my youngest child, Matthew, to hug me and kiss me and tell me He loves me. And the things God has shown me about Himself through the every-day interactions I have with my children are a treasure to me. I could write them all out for you here, but that would make for a very long post...And I've already written about them in Finding Joy!

The point is, God loves you and He is telling you about His love all the time. Look at the blue sky. Look at the orange and yellow and red leaves lining the sky. (My apologies to those of you who don't see this picture when you look out the window. You have your warm winters. I have my beautiful autumns!) When I see this display of God's handiwork I am convinced again of His love. If He didn't care about us, why would He create such a glorious view?
And this awesome God who loves you so much is constantly revealing Himself to you - in the beauty of His creation, and even in the busy-ness of His creatures. Watch for it, Mom. In the midst of the noise, in the times that aren't quiet, even in the struggle - God is using you little noise-makers to love you. Don't miss Him!!!

And please come back Monday when - if I get my act together - you can see me wrap up this series.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 4

Please read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you haven't already done so.

OK. So we've established that we can pray all day, right? No need to sit in the corner with eyes closed and hands folded. God can hear us regardless of what we're doing and how much noise is surrounding us. And, in so doing, we can have fellowship with God - all day. That's a good thing.

But how are we supposed to grow spiritually if we don't sit down in a quiet place to study the Word of God for an extended time? We need to be in the Word, don't we???
Yes. I sure think so! And I am so thankful to be at a place in my life where most days I can have uninterrupted time to read my Bible. I am so thankful!
But it hasn't always been like this for me, and I know for many moms there are only big chunks of time to study the Bible in her dreams. So what is a person to do who wants to be in the Word, but for all her best intentions she just can't see a way to do it?
First, remember that nothing is impossible with God! And second, get creative. Hey, God is creative - why shouldn't we be, too?
Think for a minute about your wardrobe. Do most of your pants have pockets in them? Then I have a great idea for you!
Write down a Bible verse on a small piece of paper and carry it with you in your pocket. Whenever you put your hand in your pocket, or touch the outside of your pocket, or do anything which reminds you that verse is in there, take it out and read it.
Almost every day you will find me with a Bible verse in my pocket. And if you were to follow me around you would see me reading the verse many, many times throughout that day. When I'm waiting in the line at the store, or when I'm waiting for water to start boiling on the stove, or when I'm waiting for anything else - I'll just take that verse out of my pocket and read it. I read it, I think about it, and I pray that God will speak to me through His Word.
And I have found He speaks just as clearly through one verse on a little piece of paper, written by my little hand - as He does through that same verse written in my big Bible, which I could never fit into my pocket.

This practice of carrying a Bible verse in my pocket has been a major blessing to me. God has used these verses to speak to my heart all day long, and I love it. As I said before, I treasure the time I do have to study my Bible. But I am convinced that God can get His Word into our hearts very effectively when we are grabbing little bits of time throughout the day to read and reflect on one precious verse.

So if you are struggling to find time to be in the Word, please give this practice a try. Again, your times don't need to be quiet. God will use your willingness to get His Word into your heart!

Tomorrow we're going to talk about our need to have God cover us with His love. Please come back!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 3

Please read these first:
Part 1
Part 2

If the first of our quiet time needs is to have fellowship with God, how do we accomplish that? Well, how do you have fellowship with anyone else? By talking with them, right?
I think that's how we accomplish fellowship with God, too.
Through prayer.
We talk to Him, and He talks to us.

But I don't think this time of prayer needs to occur in a 10-15 minute window early in the morning before there is any noise in the house. I have become quite confident that God is perfectly able to hear our prayers when our surroundings are not quiet. Yes, He can hear you even when your children are screaming. And if you work on it, I believe you can hear Him, too - even when your children are screaming.
AND, I have become equally confident that God can also pay attention to our prayers even if we're doing some activity besides sitting in a corner with our eyes closed and our hands folded.
In fact, I am becoming more and more convinced that God made women multi-taskers so mothers of young children could have fellowship with Him. Though it took me a while to understand I could do it, now I pray all the time.
When I am walking my boys to school, I'm praying for them.
When I am doing laundry, I pray for the person whose clothes I'm folding.
Whenever I think of my husband, I thank God for him.
When the kids are getting loud, I ask God to help me deal with the noise.
And when I am getting frustrated with them about something, you better believe I am begging God to calm my heart and to give me wisdom.

As I have adopted this practice of praying throughout my day, even when my times aren't quiet, I have enjoyed sweet fellowship with God. I have become increasingly aware of His presence and have surely grown in my love for Him. It has been a very good thing!

Come back tomorrow so we can talk about growing spiritually.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, please read that post before getting into this one.

So, what are quiet times?

I was taught that a quiet time is a portion of your day which you set aside to sit quietly before the Lord, to read your Bible, pray, and maybe spend time journaling. People often had suggestions for the amount of time one should spend on each of these components - the longer, the better, many would say.
And for some reason, it seems this "quiet time" was most frequently prescribed for the morning hours - which, for most mothers of young children, means very early morning hours.
So, I'm wondering. Who made up these "rules" for quiet times? And who decided on the time limits? If I don't read my Bible for 15 minutes, does that mean I haven't met with God?

And why do we have quiet times, anyway? What's the purpose? Does God need this time with us?
No. We are the needy ones!

I have thought about why we have quiet times, and I think I can boil it down to three things.
* We have quiet times because we need to have fellowship with God.
* We have quiet times because we need to grow spiritually.
* We have quiet times because we need to have God pour His love into us.

But, do we have to have 30-45 quiet minutes of Bible reading and prayer, and maybe some journaling, to accomplish those goals? Each of those components is a good thing, I encourage you to engage in them. But for all you mothers of young children, I want to offer you a different perspective on quiet times.
Because as a mother of young children I am willing to bet most of the times at your house are anything but quiet. And the hope I want to hold out to you is this: Even if you don't have "quiet times" you can still have fellowship with God. You can still grow spiritually. He can still cover you with His love.

Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about fellowship.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 1

I became a Christian when I was in college and quickly became aware of this phenomenon called a "quiet time."
I was taught that I needed to spend time every day reading my Bible and praying. Although no one explicitly stated it, I had the distinct impression that God's love for me was directly tied to the frequency and quality of my quiet times.
Over the course of the next five and a half years, I rarely missed one. OK, during exam week I might have missed a devotion or two, but I'm sure I felt bad about it!
And if I felt bad about missing one or two during exam week, you can only imagine my angst after I had my first baby. You can imagine it, right? I mean, I'm guessing you might even know exactly how I felt?
With a new baby, nearly sleepless nights, and rarely a quiet moment during the day, I was not sure if I would ever be able to have a quiet time again. I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. In addition to often feeling inadequate as a mother, I was feeling like a second-class Christian. I felt like God probably didn't love me as much because I wasn't having quiet times. I felt like I was letting Him down.

I was not in a good place.

Then an older woman who had "been there," told me it was OK that I wasn't able to have a quiet time every day. She told me God understood, and I shouldn't feel bad about it.
If I wasn't a Type-A freak, her words probably would have been just the grace I needed. But I had a tendency to operate on an all-or-nothing basis. Since I couldn't maintain the rigorous quiet time regimen to which I had become accustomed, I essentially threw the whole thing out the window.
If God "understood," if He wasn't upset with me for being a busy mom, if it was OK that I couldn't manage to have quiet times every day, I figured I had permission to put quiet times on hold until my times were quiet again. Of course, this wasn't a conscious decision - I can only understand it now because of hind-sight. The point is, I had an incomplete understanding of quiet times and because of that confusion I missed out on spiritual growth and fellowship with God over the next several years.

Because He is patient, because His grace knows no bounds, because He loves me more than I deserve, God waited for me during those years.
I didn't walk away from God. I never stopped believing in Him. There was no crisis of faith for me. But I wasn't engaging with Him in fellowship like I could have been.
Yet, He waited.
And I'm sure He was speaking. I'm sure He was calling me. Though I wasn't listening, I am sure God was telling me that I could have delightful fellowship with Him in the midst of motherhood. Oh, how I wish I would have been listening. How I wish I wouldn't have missed those years with Him.

How thankful I am that God never gave up on me!

When I finally started paying attention, God opened my eyes to some truths about quiet times. He showed me ways that I can be near to Him - even when my times aren't quiet. And I discovered that I can, indeed, have delightful fellowship with God in the midst of motherhood.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Since You Asked...

OK, so Edie was the only one who really asked. But I bet the rest of you were probably wondering.
And that's all the prompting I need to tell you the rest of the story.

So there we were on the stage at Aloha Friday, where I had just successfully blown the Conch Shell. (Yes, "soft-spoken" me - with all my hot air. Thank you, Jessica, Leslie, and Sweet Mummy.) And the final contestant stepped forward.
That final contestant would be my dear husband.
When he said he was "Brian from Okemos, Michigan," the announcer looked at me and said, "Do you two know each other?" And I confirmed that we were married. Then he looked at Brian and said (because he had just made a BIG fuss about me blowing the conch shell), "No pressure, man, but you better do this!"
So Brian held the shell up to his mouth and gave it his best shot, and...Nothing.
Not a sound could be heard.
Well, except for the sound of more women cheering and the announcer saying something about Brian sleeping on the couch and doing the dishes. I wanted to mention that Brian is my Mr. Wonderful and I would never send him to the couch, and sometimes he does the dishes anyway. But I was still in too much shock that I blew it. So I just stood there and grinned.
And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.

I just finished up a busy "speaking week" and will be doing it again next week. Hence the "silence" here the past few days. And it is quite likely I won't be able to blog much next week either. But I wanted to let you know about a couple of things you can be watching for here.
Next Tuesday I will be speaking to a MOPS group about "Quiet Times." Or, more accurately, about having a growing relationship with God even when your "times" aren't quiet. This issue was a big struggle for me when my children were smaller and I plan to do a mini-series on the topic here on my blog.
AND, I am also planning to begin doing video devotions here. Not sure how often I'll be posting them, or even when I'm going to get started, but it's something to which you can look forward. I mean, I hope you'll look forward to them! *bashful grin*

Now I'm off to run errands.

Have a great weekend!!!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Blew It!

But not in a bad way.

Brian and I had a great time in Florida. What a gift it was to have four days to just be "us."
Well, almost four days. Brian had a meeting to attend Saturday morning, and I? Got to meet a friend with whom I have been emailing for, oh, I don't know how long now. She and her family came and took me out for breakfast, and we had a great time!
Sunday Brian and I went to Universal's Islands of Adventure park and had fun on the rides. And since the resort at which we were staying was right "next door" to the park, we were able to go back in the middle of the day, take a nap by the pool, and return for more fun when we were ready.
Ahhhh, what a cushy life we got to have for a few days.
It was wonderful!!!

Now, it's back to reality. I'm doing laundry, just picked up Mindy from the vet, and need to go get groceries.

But before I do, I have to confess that I "blew it" Friday night. There was an event called "Aloha Friday" at the resort, and Brian and I thought it would be fun to attend. There was a band playing and a conga line formed, which we joined. The next thing we knew, Brian and I were by the stage when they were asking for three male and three female "contestants" to come up. Big surprise - I dragged Brian up.

Then I found out what the contest was all about and began regretting my move.

They brought out a conch shell and told us we were going to participate in a conch shell blowing contest.
*gulp*
I just looked at Brian smiled sheepishly. Oops. Sorry!

The leader of the band demonstrated how easy it was to blow the shell and then the contest was underway. Someone thought it would be a good idea to have the "ladies" go first so contestant number one steeped up and, she couldn't do it.
Then it went to the first male contestant, and he couldn't do it either.
Lady number two? Nope.
Meanwhile, Brian and I were whispering to each other and he told me it's just like blowing a trumpet. Great.
Except, I've never blown a trumpet!!!
The second man stepped up and blew it like a pro. He told us he was from Hawaii, and I thought that just wasn't fair. Blowing conch shells must be in his blood, or something!

Then,

it was my turn.

The woman who was running the show put her arm around me and asked my name. Then she said, "OK, Karen. No pressure, but the women are counting on you."
So I shook my head and rolled my shoulders - just being silly - and I held the conch shell up to my mouth and blew that baby.
And I couldn't believe my ears. I actually made it work!

I blew the conch shell!!!

I think I only heard women cheering in the audience, but that was OK with me. It just felt good to be able to finally be proud of the fact that I blew it!

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

You Call that Funny?

Yesterday as the boys and I walked home from school, I decided to take advantage of Matthew's good spirits and talk to him about homework. I said, "Matthew, when we get home today let's get started on your homework right away."
He smiled at me and said, "OK, Mom."
I added, "And let's remember how it went yesterday and let's see if we can make it better today. Remember how you thought the work was too hard and you had a big fit about it? And you got really mad and wouldn't do your assignment? But when you finally settled down and focused, you got the work done quickly. And you told me it really wasn't that difficult afterall. Do you remember that?"
But I was thinking, I cannot handle another day like yesterday. I sure hope this little "talk" will be what he needs to approach the job rationally. He's really a smart kid. He should be able to hear my words, remember how miserable we BOTH were over homework yesterday, and make a better decision today. Please, God! Let today be better than yesterday!!!
He smiled at me and said, "OK, Mom."
I said, "Great."
But I was thinking, GRRREAT!!!
So, with high hopes for a peaceful afternoon, we finshed our walk home.
Upon entering the house I thought, Wow! This is going to be even better than I had expected! Elizabeth was finished with her homework and was happily reading on the couch. Joshua had finished all his work at school, and since his buddy just got a kitten Joshua was going over to his house to see the new addition. That meant - the house was quiet (i.e. The TV wasn't on.) so I could let Matthew do his homework at the kitchen table, rather than sending him to the dining room. (I usually have to do that because Matthew simply cannot stay focused when there is noise around him. He doesn't like being "separated," but there is really no other way to do it.)

Matthew got his work out, I gave him a pencil, and WHAMMO! the peace came to an abrupt end.

The homework was subtraction of three-digit numbers and Matthew thought it was going to be too hard.
I said, "Matthew, you know how to do subtraction. You can do this!"
But I thought, C'mon, Matthew! This is easy math. So you don't like to "borrow." Get over it! You can do this stuff!
But he wasn't thinking rationally. He started crying and yelling. Things escalated to the point that I told him he needed to go to his room for five minutes to get control of himself. But instead, he yelled at me again.
So I said, "OK, now it's ten. If you aren't out of the kitchen by the time I get to 'three,' it's going to be 15." *Note the absence of anything which resembles a gentle, soft-spoken tone!*
But I thought, Why does he get to go to his room for ten minutes by himself? I wish I could get sent to my room for a Time Out. This isn't fair. Hmph!
And I watched Matthew run to his room and heard him slam the door. I walked over the the microwave and set the timer for ten minutes. Then I looked at Elizabeth and sighed.
She said, "What?!"
I said, "Do you mean to tell me you didn't hear what just happened?"
But I thought, Man, that must be a really good book if she seriously just blocked out Matthew's tirade!
She told me she did hear him. But, whatever.
Yeah - It must be a good book!

When the timer went off, I went and knocked on Matthew's door then went into his room. I hugged him and asked, "Are you ready to come out and do your homework now? You seem to have calmed down."
He smiled at me and said, "OK, Mom."
And he came and sat at the table, and we worked out a problem together, and he finished the rest of the page in a matter of minutes.

As he was putting his paper into his homework folder, Matthew said to me, "Hey, Mom, isn't that funny? You said when I get upset I think my homework is too hard, and I can't do it. But then when I just decide to do it, I find out it isn't that hard afterall. And I get it done quickly. And that's what just happened today!"
I smiled at him and said, "Yeah."
But I thought (as I contemplated banging my head against the wall), Funny? You think it's funny? Oh, child, we've got to work on your sense of humor!

BTW, I am leaving tomorrow to go to Florida with my husband. He won a trip for two, and chose me! *grin* Have a great weekend. I'll be back next week!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

WFMW - Getting Personal

On this blog, I have held back almost nothing from you. I have shared my failings and frustrations, my insecurities and hang-ups.
But today? Today I am taking it a step further. Yes, today I am going to talk with you about something very personal.

ARMPITS!!!

There. I said it. Now, Karen, move on.
Several weeks ago Shane at Heart Reflections posted a Works For Me Wednesday entry about how to get rid of armpit stains in shirts. I was so interested in this post because it was a question I always wanted to ask, but was too shy to do so.
I hated that my shirts would get armpit stains, but I thought there must be something "wrong" with me which was causing them. So I just quit wearing the shirts that looked bad and tried to avoid raising my arms.
Then I saw Shane's post, and I tried treating several of my shirts with a baking soda paste. But I was so interested in finding a solution to this problem that I kept researching different options, and I came across some information I didn't expcet to find.

The stains in my shirts were not caused by some weird chemical imbalance in my body. They were caused by my antiperspirant! Specifically, by the active ingredient aluminum. I don't know what it is, but something about the aluminum causes the stains.

Whew! What a relief to know it wasn't ME.
Anyway, I went on to do more searching about antiperspirant alternatives and found a wealth of options. For a while I was trying plain rubbing alcohol, but I didn't like that very much. So I looked in the store and found there are a number of deodorants which are not antiperspirants, and therefore do not contain that nasty stain-causing aluminum.
I bought herbal clear natural deodorant, and love the scent of it. However, I noticed it sort of makes my armpits feel sticky, so I also put on baby powder and find myself to be quite comfortable. Depending on my level of activity, I sometimes feel the need to freshen up during the day, but if it will save my shirts from now on - it is so worth it to me.

And there you have it.
Deodorant without antiperspirant, and a little baby powder.
No more armpit stains.
That works for me!
For more great ideas from Works For Me Wednesday, visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.
***Edited to add***
Several people have asked if the baking soda paste worked. Well, I tried it once. Put it on the shirts and let them sit overnight, then washed them as usual, but didn't notice any improvement. The thing is, I read several places that if you have put the stained shirt through the dryer, the stain has been set. So, it's the eternal optimist in me that was giving the baking soda treatment a try in the first place.
I don't know if repeated attempts would take care of it, or not. I kinda doubt it. But I might try anyway! *grin*

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

LOL ROTFL

Oh, my stomach hurts!
These comments I'm getting about me being so gentle and soft spoken that a person cannot believe I am an "irritable mother" are cracking me up!
HA! HA! HA!
Stop it! I'm going to wet myself!

Seriously. I laugh every time someone who saw my video from Friday makes such a comment. And my kids keep asking me why I'm laughing. So I explain the situation and they look at me with smiles and confirm that I can, indeed, be an irritable mother.
Matthew suggested that he and Joshua could stage a fight and we could record how I respond to them. Isn't he precious???

OK, some explanation is fair. I had to be soft spoken in that video. The webcam is all new to me and I haven't played with it much. I'm sure there is some adjustment I can make to the microphone setting so it isn't as sensitive. But until I get that figured out, if I make too loud of a noise the recording sounds just awful. So, there you go!
For those of you who are interested, you can get another view of me by going to my website and watching the video clips from my Confessions talk. I am pretty soft spoken in the one called, "Refined Like Silver," but the other three have moments when I am more like an irritable mother.
Honestly, sometimes when I am speaking I almost feel the need to stop mid-sentence and let my audience know I'll get "nicer" as the talk progresses. When I am telling a story about a particular incident with one of my kids, or when I am just talking about frustration in general, I get rather animated. Sometimes the looks on the faces of some of the women listening make me think they're scared of me. But as I share about how God is using my struggles as a mother to refine me, I try to portray that transformation in my delivery of the message. So far, I have not noticed any scared women at the end of my talk. *grin*
And I pray my children are witnessing that transformation, too.

All that to say, thank you for your sweet comments. It is my heart's desire to display that gentle spirit on a regular basis - not just when the microphone is too sensitive!

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Friday, October 03, 2008

It's Here! It's Here!

I am so excited! Finding Joy is finished!!!

As promised, I have prepared a special announcement for you. Be sure to watch to the end, because I will draw the winners for my give-away.
BTW, the "secret word" is for the subscribers to my newsletter.
video

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is What I Mean

My friend, Penny, has written a post that could be an entry in Finding Joy. God spoke to her in the midst of a moment with her daughter, and she heard Him. This is what I mean when I talk about finding joy! Go on over and see.

I'm still aiming for Friday to do the drawing for my give away. Be sure to check back if you entered!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Know This Much

*deep breath*

One. Two. Three.

*another deep breath*

OK, this is what I know:
God is using my children, and my mothering struggles to refine me. This is all a part of my sanctification process. He is making me holy - showing me my sin in various ways and teaching me to follow Him, instead of bowing to my sinful nature.
And I know God is with me in the midst of the struggle. I know He is loving me in every minute and He will give me the grace I need to raise these children.
If that means I need to spend over two hours Saturday evening and three hours Sunday afternoon pulling my hair out working with Joshua on homework, listening to him bemoan the fact he isn't out playing (Even though I let him have a friend over Friday night and he spent most of Saturday with that friend.), and getting an ear-full about how I am ruining his life, so be it.
Honestly, the five plus hours we spent on homework could have easily been completed in one hour. Most of the time was spent whining and crying (by Joshua) or praying (by me). It did occur to me, this exercise of frustration is GREAT for my prayer life!

I am well aware that the challenges I face in mothering are being used by God to grow me. I know I would have no ministry among moms if I wasn't going through what I'm going through.

I know God is using it all for good.

I know when I am breathing deeply and praying for extra amounts of grace because Matthew's off-the-wall, out-of-control ADHD behavior is about to send me through the roof, God is teaching me patience. In the moment, He reminds me to trust Him. God reminds me He has created Matthew perfectly and I can believe in His good plan.

I know this is all True.

I know it.

And I believe it with all my heart.

Some days, I just wish I could know it without going through it.

Know what I mean???

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Friday, September 26, 2008

My Lost Rat - by Elizabeth Hossink

Do you remember when Elizabeth's rat got lost in our couch? I wrote about it in the form of a parable.(It's a pretty quick read. Click on over and read it. I think you'll find the subtle differences in our stories entertaining.)
Well, Elizabeth just had a writing assignment in school, and she chose to write about her lost rat, too. When she asked me to type it up for her she told me, "I think you'll like it, Mom." Can you tell why???

My Lost Rat

"Elizabeth, when can we start the movie?" Joshua asked impatiently.
"Hold on!" I hollered from downstairs. As I trudged up the stairs, rat cage in hand, I called, "Okay you can start the movie."
"Are your rats watching it too?" Mom asked.
"Yeah," I said casually. So I plopped down on the couch after setting the rats' cage on a side table. Because I loved my rats so much, I opened their cage door so that they could come join us on the couch.
After the movie was over Joshua sleepily said, "I am going to bed now."
"Okay." I responded. Now, Mom and I were the only ones awake.
After a little more time playing with my rats, I decided it was time for me to also go to bed. I got ready to gather up my rats, but they weren't both there. I only found Lacey. (My favorite of the two.) I put her in her cage, but I was still worried about Allison (my other rat).
Before panicking, I tore all of the cushions off of the couch. She wasn't there.
"Mom, I can't find Allison," I said trying to stay calm, but that was impossible for me. Unlike myself, Mom was a master at staying calm. "Okay, honey, did you check everywhere on the couch?"
"Yes," I half whined. Together we searched until we noticed a hole that Allison had chewed in the couch. Allison was on the inside of the couch and there was no possible way we could get her out. By that time my eyes were drowning in tears. (That happens a lot for me.)
"Jesus, help me find Allison," I whispered to myself.
Mom, being as brilliant as she is thought that we should try to get her from a different angle. Being ever so gentle, we turned the couch on its side.
The couch was in a position where it made a cave. I crawled under and waited to see her head. My face, soaked with tears, became even more wet when I saw Allison's head poke out. Except this time they were happy tears.
Allison was saved!

Oh, if I only felt as calm and brilliant as my daughter thinks I am! *grin*

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blogger Interview

Shane over at Heart Reflections is interviewing me today! Please pay her a visit. And if you leave her a comment, you'll have a chance to win one of my books! *grin*

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm not Paranoid

OK, so I told you about the three grays yesterday. Well, when I went to get my hair done I said something to Clayton about them - just to share a laugh with him. He then informed me "she" has a lot more friends than I realized. Scattered all around the top of my head where I can't see them. Isn't that just lovely.
But Clayton is so great. He went on to tell me about how the highlights are a great way to cover them up and blend them in. He told me we could color all my hair and go back over it with highlights if I wanted to. But suggested simply doing highlights is probably fine right now.
As I was listening to Clayton, inside I was chuckling. I am really not THAT concerned about a few gray hairs!
Though, now that I think about it, since I can't see the top of my head like Clayton did, maybe there are a lot more grays than I'm even imagining. Maybe he was just being polite. Maybe I should be concerned. Maybe I'm just in a state of denial, and I'm not a pup like I think I am. Maybe the next time I get my hair done I should think about coloring, too. I mean, Clayton did say the highlights are probably fine right now. Maybe he meant next time there may be a problem.

Maybe I'm being paranoid.

No, seriously. I'm totally joking. Though I was surprised by the revelation that there are more than three gray hairs on this head of mine, I actually think it's kind of funny. Maybe I ought to start making plans for a sorority. (Did you see Teresa's comment yesterday? She had me laughing for a long time with that one!)
Anyway, now God has something else to do for fun. The Bible says He knows the number of hairs on our head, right? Well, if He's ever bored now He can count the number of gray, brown and caramel hairs on my head. Apparently the numbers will keep changing!

I received an update this morning from my printer. They are on target to have Finding Joy finished by the middle of next week. Yippee!!! Soooooo, I'm thinking of Friday, October 3 as a target date to announce the winner of my Joy give-away. I'll keep you posted! (Pun totally intended.) Be sure to keep checking so you can claim your book when draw your name!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

She's Got Friends

Well, today's my birthday. Yep. Another "year older," though I think I will always feel like a pup. I guess that's what a fall birthday does to you. I started kindergarten when I was 4, and graduated from high school when I was 17. For those formative 13 years of my life, I was always "the youngest." Even now I look a lot younger than I am. Many people peg me to be in my mid-twenties when they first meet me. Maybe that's part of the reason I still assume I'm the youngest one in the crowd wherever I am.
But this summer I saw something in the mirror which indicated to me I just might be getting older after all.
I was probably putting on make-up and leaned in close to the mirror when I saw a gray hair. A gray one. On me!
At first I was a little upset. I mean, I'm too young for this, am I not? But then I looked at it again and noticed it was in a curl. Just one lone, gray hair, in a curl. And I decided it was kind of cute. In fact, I called my husband in to show him that now I was getting mature, like him. (He's been collecting gray hairs for quite a while. But his aren't curly!) And I said, "Isn't she cute?" He just looked at me with a bit of concern on his face and smiled, "Yes, dear."
And that was that. I knew I had one gray hair, and I decided I would let her stay. (Not sure about that old tale - pluck one and two will come back - and don't want to chance it!)
But very recently I did a close up in the mirror again and discovered something even more shocking. She's got friends!

Two of them!

This is making me think my friend ADHD may be on to something with her conspiracy theory. Because here I am at 37, and clearly something in the water is changing my hair from brown to gray. One piece at a time. Not to mention I have noticed over the past weeks that my eyes are taking a little longer to re-focus when I look at something far away after I've been focusing on something up close.
*sigh*
Oh, well. What is there to do? I'm getting my hair cut and highlighted this morning. Happy Birthday to me! After that I guess I'll come home and have a quiet lunch - just me and my three gray friends. Then maybe I'll send a card to my sister, just to remind her she's 40, and I'm not!

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