Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Pictures!

My wonderful web designer just added a photo album to my website. I hope you'll take a peek!
I don't know why it took me so long to decide to post pictures. However, now that we're doing it I will try to remember my camera and collect pictures of all the wonderful groups for whom I speak!
Telling you about these pictures reminded me I had previously promised a pic of me with one of Elizabeth's rats. If you are new here, the story behind the rats is here.
So, without further ado (and because Elizabeth desperately wants to use my computer to get on Webkinz...) here I am with Lacey.I have finally admitted to Elizabeth I think the rats are cute. I needed to get over my "thing" about them being rats and now that I can look at them as critters, I honestly do think they're cute. Elizabeth is having a blast with them. She thanks God (and me!) for them every day. They are requiring more responsibility from her and they actually interact with us.
OK, I'll admit it. I was wrong. The rats make great pets.
And you can quote me on it!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's My Fault

The kids don't have school today, and I am convinced it's all my fault.
You see, last night I picked up Matthew's back pack to move it away from the basement steps (Who left it there????) and noticed it was rather heavy. When I looked inside I discovered Matthew's very wet snow pants in a ball. I took them out (Matthew was already in bed, or I would have had him take care of them...) and laid them over the back of a chair over a heater vent.
Yes, Matthew will sure be thankful I took care of these snow pants tomorrow, I thought. It would be a bummer to go to school with wet snow pants.
His wet shoes were in the back pack under the wet snow pants, so I took them out and laid them on the heater vent.
Yep, he'll be thankful for this, too, I thought.

This morning I got up early to go into Fitness Together. As I sat down to put on my shoes I noticed Matthew's wet gloves sitting by my shoes. By now his shoes were plenty dry, so I set them aside and put the gloves over the vent. There were still two and a half hours until he would need to leave for the bus stop and I knew the gloves would be dry by then. Thinking about how lucky my little guy is that he has such a nice mom (LOL) I went off to meet Jessica and get my work out.
When I walked into the studio, the man who works out the same time as me was on the treadmill watching the news. He asked me, "Do your kids go to Okemos schools?" I said, "Yes," wondering why he wanted to know. That's when I found out school was cancelled today. I said, "What??? The roads are fine!" Apparently these sub-zero wind chills are enough to call school off for the day. (Some would call it living in the Arctic. Right, Renee? *grin*)

That's when it hit me.
*I noticed the wet snow pants and shoes and set them out to dry.
*I saw the wet gloves and took care of them, too.
*I considered it a "good thing" they weren't going to be wet this morning, because Matthew sure would be miserable otherwise.

And now it doesn't matter, because school's cancelled.

But you know, if I had left them in the back pack and corner all cold and wet, school would NOT have been called off. A manifestation of Murphy's Law, I'd say!

As it is, the kids are enjoying their day off and Matthew's snow pants, shoes and gloves are STILL hoovering around the heater vent.
But no one has thanked me for my part in today's treat. Oh, well. At least Matthew's gear will all be toasty tomorrow!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

God Speaks

Last week I told you I was reading Job. Well, today I finished. I wasn't "scheduled" to be done until tomorrow, but I couldn't stop reading! What an incredible book and what an amazing journey this man was on!
As I was reading, there were many times I wanted to call out words of encouragement to Job. Other times I wanted to shout in God's defense. (As if He needs me to defend Him...) Several times I wondered, Isn't God going to say anything???
Then, a couple of days ago a young man named Elihu spoke. And this man spoke words of Truth. He knew God. As I poured over his words, I wondered, Why did you stay silent for so long? But His (that is, God's!) timing is always perfect and He used Elihu to deliver the message necessary to make the way for His Own. Because, today...
The Lord Speaks...

Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?...Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,...Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?...Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
Job 38:4-7,12,16,18
After listening to young Elihu talk about the majesty and righteousness of God for six chapters, now Job hears from God, Himself. And who can argue with God?

He is the Creator.

He is holy and perfect.

He is just and righteous.

He is Almighty!

And Job listens to Him and replies,
I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted...My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
Job 42:2,5-6
In all his anguish, Job never once cursed God or rejected Him. He questioned a lot. He doubted. He didn't like what he was going through. I think he might have wondered if God was really good.
But when he finally heard words of Truth, he remembered Who God Is, and he repented before Him. Then God restored everything to Job. In fact, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." (42:12)

As I reflect on this book, I am first in awe of how great our God is and amazed that He would want to have anything to do with me. Second, I am greatly comforted to know the Creator of the universe - in all His glory and splendor - does love me, and does care for my every need.
He is so great, and He still cares about little me.

Do you know He cherishes you, too, my friend?

And now, one more plug for A couple of weeks ago my pastor encouraged us in his sermon to become more diligent students of the Word, and suggested reading through the Bible in a year. I found and am reading through the Bible chronologically. I love doing this, and hope you will consider it, too!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

I REALLY Hope This Works!

Those of you who have heard me speak or read my book know the trouble Matthew has had with wetting his pants. For the rest of you, here's a synopsis.
Matthew was "potty trained" when he was about 3 1/2 years old.
At four he started wetting himself. Daily. Sometimes up to four times a day.
When he was in kindergarten it was not uncommon for him to wet himself at school a couple times a week.
In first grade I don't think he ever wet himself at school, but he started soiling his pants at home. (And sometimes hid them in his room. Eeeewww!) Suddenly, I found myself preferring wet pants!
Now in second grade, things seemed to be improving. There was the occasional soiled pair of pants, but at least it was less frequent. Until the past few weeks. He is wetting himself almost daily again.
Over the past three-plus years I feel as though we have tried everything. We have done charts with stickers, our neighbor said she would take Matthew out for ice cream if he met a certain "dry goal," (That never happened!) and we have taken away privileges. Matthew has seen a urologist and I took him to a chiropractor for awhile, too. No one can seem to find anything "wrong" which needs fixing.
The thing is, since Matthew can keep from having accidents in school I think he really can control himself. The truth is, he just doesn't seem to care.

HOWEVER, I think yesterday I might have found something to get him to care.
The kids were with Brian at work and I went to pick them up. They wanted to go to the mall on the way home to buy a Webkinz. (Have you seen these toys? Very cute. You get a stuffed animal and it comes with a code which you use to create an account online at Webkinz. You can make a room for your pet, "buy" things for it with Kinz cash, and play games. My kids love it!)
My mom gave one of these toys to Joshua for Christmas, and Elizabeth and Matthew have used some of their Christmas money to buy one for themselves. Yesterday they both wanted to get another.
Except, when we were ready to walk out the door I saw that Matthew had wet his pants. I was not about to drive all the way home for him to change and then come back to the mall (Brian's studio is right by the mall.) and suggested perhaps we shouldn't go to the mall after all. Elizabeth retorted, "That isn't fair to me!" and Matthew said he would just pull his coat down low so no one would see his wet pants.
I agreed that not going to get the toy because Matthew wet his pants was not fair to Elizabeth, but I wanted to use the opportunity for Matthew, so I said we would go but Matthew could not buy a Webkinz this time. Then I had my great idea. I told him he needed to be dry all day (I don't know if we'll EVER get night-time figured out!) for a month, and then he can get his new Webkinz.
Believe me when I tell you, this stroke of genius did not go over well with him. I kept thinking, If he would just care as much about keeping his pants dry as he does about getting this toy, I would never see him wet again!
That is what I think needs to happen. Matthew needs to care. Really, he is such a laid back, care-free kid, it doesn't seem to even phase him when he has wet himself.
I ended up letting him buy the Webkinz, but it is sitting in the top of my closet until Matthew reaches his dry goal. No toy and no online code until he's been dry for a month. Today I'll be making that chart, and we'll mark it with a sticker at the end of every day he stays dry. I REALLY hope this works!

In the mean time, he has an annual check-up soon and we will definitely be talking about this some more with the good doctor!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time to Change?

If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I am writing a book right now. It is a devotional for moms (Though, really, I believe the Truths in it are for everyone, and I would love for anyone to read it!) and though I took a break from writing for awhile, I am back at it now.
Over the past few days I have been thinking more about the format of the book and how I want to incorporate some "coaching" features. The thing I decided to do is include twenty-eight devotions so the book can be organized in four sections with a "Check Point" at the end of each week.
I am excited about these Check Points because I am going to use them as a conversation piece with the reader. My hope is for these conversations to be an opportunity for me to act as a mentor, sharing the ways God has been leading me, and encouraging the reader to seek Him more. As I write, I am praying for the women God knows will read this book, and I am asking Him to lead me to write what He wants to say to them.

The decision to include twenty-eight devotions meant I needed to cut a few out which I had already written. Since I do not want to "waste" these entries, I figured my blog would be the perfect place to publish them. So today I am sharing one of the entries that "didn't make it."
I pray God will speak to your heart through these words today!

Time to Change

For Matthew’s seventh birthday, his Grandma Hossink gave him a cowboy outfit – jeans, a long-sleeved denim shirt, a vest, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. Matthew loved playing dress-up in his cowboy outfit and I thought he was simply adorable in it. However, when he came downstairs dressed in his long pants and long sleeves on a day when I knew it was going to get into the upper 80’s, I suggested he might want to change his clothes. Matthew assured me he was quite comfortable in his present attire and had no intention of changing.
Mornings in the summer are sometimes rather cool and I understood Matthew was comfortable for the moment, so I dropped the subject. For the moment. As the morning wore on, though, I occasionally reminded him the temperature would be rising and he would surely be happier in shorts. Matthew continued to disregard my suggestions and told me he wanted to stay as he was. (This child can be very stubborn at times. I have no idea from whom he gets it!)
Sometime later, Matthew started running around the house acting like a cowboy on his horse. He was having a good time – running and hollering and kicking up lots of dust. All this activity caused him to work up quite a sweat and just as I was coming to tell him we needed to get in the van to pick up Joshua, he was coming to say, “You were right. I want to put shorts on.” Suddenly, the child who did not care to heed my advice earlier in the morning was insistent he must change his clothes now.
I looked at my little boy with sweat dripping down the side of his face and told him there just was not enough time for him to change his whole outfit. Honestly, I was not lacking in compassion for Matthew’s discomfort. The reality of the situation was, if I let Matthew completely disrobe and start over we would be late getting Joshua. We simply had to leave.
However, I knew we had enough time to get his shirt changed before we left and he would at least be a little more comfortable in a t-shirt. Matthew, on the other hand, did not think my idea was good enough. He yelled at me and flailed about as I tried to help unbutton his shirt. At that moment, I was so frustrated with this child I did not know what to do with myself. How many times had I told him in the morning he should change his clothes? Why didn’t he listen to me then? Why did he have to get all hot and bothered when it was time for us to leave? How could he be yelling at me now when I all I was doing was trying to make him a bit more comfortable for the ride? Was it really his goal in life to make me miserable?
Somehow, in spite of the frustration we made the change and got out the door.
As I drove down our street, I could not help but reflect on what had just occurred between Matthew and me. With Matthew’s best interest at heart, I had been making suggestions to him about what to wear. I knew something Matthew did not know about the expected temperature for the day, and in all my adult wisdom I tried to guide his decision about what to wear. The whole situation seemed very simple to me. Matthew should have thought, Gee. Mom has good information. She has more experience than me to know what to do with this information. I should listen to her and change my clothes. Wouldn’t any normal seven-year-old go through this kind of logical progression?
Perhaps it was my desire for him to think like an adult which caused me such angst when he finally wanted to change into something reasonable.

It did not take long for me to start thinking about how my encounter with Matthew was similar to the ways I sometimes respond to God. He has created me and knows what is best for me in this life. God has knowledge and understanding I do not have. Sometimes He reveals this information to me in His Word, through my spirit, or through another one of His children. It is all good information but sometimes I reject it, just like Matthew rejected what I said to him.
I realized the difference between the two scenarios, though, when I considered the fact God does not get frustrated with me each time I fail to listen to Him. It is impossible for me to count the times I have missed God’s instruction because I have either been too busy playing my own game, too childish to take Him seriously, or just too stubborn. Time and time again He has patiently repeated Himself to me until I finally understood. He has waited for me to listen and refused to give up on me. Thinking about my feelings of frustration with Matthew made me appreciate, even more, God’s unending patience.
After I spent a few minutes thanking God for being so patient with me, my thoughts moved on to wondering why I ever question Him. If God knows what is best for me, wants what is best for me, and does what is best for me, why do I ever hesitate to do as He tells me?
God says, Be anxious for nothing. (Philippians 4:6) But I worry.
God says, Cast your cares upon Me. (Psalm 55:22) But I hold onto them.
God says, Rejoice in Me always. (Philippians 4:4) But I focus on my circumstance.
God says, Nothing is impossible for Me. (Luke 1:37) But I doubt Him.
God says, Be content with what you have. (Hebrews 13:5) But I want more.
God says, Consider trials pure joy. (James 1:2) But I just want them to be over.
Oh, when will I learn? God is my Father and I am His child. Clearly, He is the One in this relationship who knows best. When I am being rational I realize I can trust Him fully. When I take time to think it through, doing what God says makes perfect sense. I am so thankful for God’s patience with me and for the ways He shows Himself to me in the midst of motherhood.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a situation with your child like I had with Matthew? How did you respond? How does God react to you when you are in your child’s position? Thank Him for His patience.
How do you typically respond to the things God says in the verses quoted above? If you are not heeding what He says, is it time to change?
I know you are busy, but I do hope you will spend some time on Your Turn and allow God to speak to your heart.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

College Scholarships Available from Upromise!

This just in...

I received an email today regarding a new online video contest announced by Upromise ( Upromise Tuition Tales gives people a chance to tell the world why they or someone they know deserves $25,000 for college expenses.

Bethany told me, "Whether it's a grandmother explaining how her 3-year-old granddaughter could one day become president or a high school senior rapping about his dream to attend the school of his choice – Upromise wants to see it. The more creative, entertaining, and deserving, the better!

"Applicants can submit videos (30 seconds or less) online at There are a few examples up there already to get the creative juices flowing. We’ll be accepting submission until February 25. A panel of judges will choose the top 10 videos…and then America will vote. The top 10 finalists will get a $500 Bed Bath & Beyond gift card and the winner will walk away with $25,000 for college!

"Today Upromise also announced $250,000 in scholarship money available to students attending college for the 2008/09 school year. Additional details on the scholarship can be found at"

Click over and check out the details, then pass the word on to anyone you know who meets the requirements!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

How Would I Respond?

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27
This passage is the gem that jumped off the pages of my Bible and into my heart today. (The fact that I underlined it sometime over the past seventeen years may have helped...)
I am amazed at Job's words, and his faith expressed through them, here. At this point in Job's story he has lost so much that is dear to him, he thinks God has His hand against him, Job's friends are not being much help at all, his wife - even less, and he is completely forlorn. So, when I read about him saying he knows his Redeemer lives and that Job himself will see Him with his own eyes, I thought, Whoa! Where did that come from???
Really! At the beginning of my reading today he was saying, "Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?" (17:15) and here he is gushing words of faith, just a couple chapters later.
Whew! Made my head spin.

This journey through Job has really got me thinking, and wondering how I would respond if I were in his position. Each day I have been reading in Job I have thought, If I were going through something like Job did, would I continue trusting God? Would I still think He is good? Would I believe God is with me? Would I be steadfast in my confidence He loves me and is for me?

I sure hope I would!

Incidentally, I am presently reading through Job as part of a one year Bible reading plan. I know there are a lot of great resources out there in cyberspace but I wanted to tell you about the one I have found. It's called and I love it. You pick how you want to read the Bible (beginning to end, historically, chronologically...) and they'll give you a plan. You can even make your reading plan the homepage for your web browser so it's easy to keep track of your progress.
(By the way, nobody asked me to promote I just think it is a fabulous resource and wanted to tell you about it!)

So, back to my thoughts about Job...

As I have prayed about these thoughts (And I have been really clear I am not asking God to test me in this way!!!) I have been reminded about a quote I read in Jerry Bridges' book, Growing Your Faith. Mr. Bridges said, in essence, (I'm too lazy to get up and find the book to quote it exactly...) If God never does another good thing for me, He is still good and worthy of praise.
I know that statement is true. God is God, and He is good - regardless of what happens in my life. I just pray my love for and faith in God will be as strong in the dreadfully hard times as it is when things are fairly calm.
Lord, be glorified in me and my faith in You!

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's Finally Here!

First of all, thank you so very much for your prayers and encouraging words regarding my last post. I consider myself truly blessed to have friends like you who love the Lord and lift me up.

God is good.

So, I mentioned last week that it was Joshua's birthday. (The party went fine, by the way. It was loud, but the boys all had fun.) As I watched Joshua opening his presents from his friends, I was surprised at how well they went together. That is, several of his friends either gave him money or a gift card to Target.
Joshua has been saving up to buy a Nintendo DS game system and since he received a few gift cards to Target for Christmas, he planned to get the game there. I figured he must have told his friends about his plan, and that is why so many of them gave the money and gift cards. After they were all gone I asked Joshua if I was right in my assumption, and he told me I was not. He hadn't told his friends about the DS or Target. It just worked out that way.
I smiled at him and said, "Wow. Do you suppose God is even looking out for your toys?"
Joshua was so excited that he finally had enough money saved up to buy his new toy and couldn't wait to go get it. He has been saving up for this for months, and the goal he thought would take forever had finally been achieved. On Saturday he wanted to go to Target to get the DS, but we thought we should call first, to be sure they were in stock.
They were out.
None of the three Target stores in our area had a DS. Not even a pink one. (For which I was secretly thankful. I know he would have bought a pink one if it was the only one available, and I am sure he would have regretted it later...)
Poor Joshua ran to his room in tears. He was so disappointed. I went in behind him to talk with him a bit, but he just looked at me and said, "You're just trying to make me feel better!" Well, yeah.
I could tell nothing I said, and no hope I offered was going to make a difference. Joshua was beyond disappointed. And I understood. So I left him alone, with the promise that we would check every day and, the minute we found one available, we would go and get it.
He called Sunday.
No DS.
As soon as we walked in the door after school Monday, he called.
No DS.
None Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday, either.
Each day Joshua called all three stores and politely asked, "Do you have a Nintendo DS in stock?" I would listen to him and pray silently, Lord, please let today be the day. Then I would hear him say, "Do you know when you're going to get one?"
I got into the habit of saying, "Well, you're one day closer to getting it." Sometimes that helped, and other times it didn't.
I saw some tears on Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday Joshua was handling the disappointment pretty well. If nothing else, this week was a good lesson in waiting.

Yesterday when we got home from school, Joshua walked over to the phone to make his daily inventory check and this time the answer was, "We have 12 black ones on the shelf!"
Forget the other things I needed to do.
Dinner could be a little late.
Joshua and I had a date with the electronics department at Target.
It was so much fun watching Joshua's excitement as his anticipation was finally being fulfilled. He nearly floated from the van into the store, and I was practically jogging to keep pace with him. We went right up to the counter and I told the sales clerk, "I have a young man here who would like to take one of those DSs off your hands." And he quickly had Joshua equipped with everything he needed.
While we were driving Joshua turned on the game and started getting everything set up. By the time we got home, Joshua's neighborhood buddy was already at our house and the boys all went to his room right away to start playing. Those of you who know Joshua will not be surprised to know the game he bought for his DS is a Pokemon game. And do you know what he named the very first Pokemon he caught?
I am so honored. *grin*

And this morning Joshua got up and cleaned his bathroom right away - without me even telling him to do it...Because last night I told Joshua he could not play the DS until his chores were done. Ahhh. Leverage. I think I might like this DS, too!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tears in Heaven

I cried last night.
For the past several weeks there has been a sadness building in me over some personal stuff. Honestly, I would share it with you here, but I don’t know everyone who reads this blog and I do not want to hurt any feelings, so it will have to be enough to know I have been quite sad.
Well, last night it came to a head and I just lost it. I was sitting in Matthew’s room while he was reading. I had gotten my journal to write down the things I was thinking and I imagined myself climbing up onto God’s lap, so He could just love me. I started writing, I just want to be loved like a child – I don’t want to answer anyone’s questions or solve any problems. I just want to be cared for like a child.
And I started sobbing.
The kind of sobs when your whole body shakes.
And you know what? Though I was sitting on Matthew’s bed, I believe God was holding me on His lap. He saw each tear I cried, and He loved me right through that moment.
I know there are wars going on around the world.
There are a lot of sick people who need God’s attention.
Plenty of people are hurting far more than I, and are calling out to God for help.
Not to mention, He has to keep holding the universe together in perfect balance.
But last night He gave me His full attention and He loved me severely. And I know while He was focusing on me, God was also fully attentive to every other need in the universe. I cannot comprehend it, but I believe it.
We serve a great God and I am so glad He loves me!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Missy is Right!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime commented on my last post that she bets I hope lots of other people will "steal" my idea about prayer cues. And she is absolutely right!
Praying has become such a big part of my life. I love knowing God is present with me all the time and that He hears every word I utter. Over the years He has given me several prayer cues - things I see or hear which remind me to pray for someone - and as I share about them, it is my hope that many people will adopt the same ideas and build on their life of prayer.

I told you Monday about 11:11 and praying for my husband, and about praying for Matthew when he holds onto my neck, but there are more prayer cues.
I remember once driving to school to pick up the kids. I was sitting at a stop light, listening to the radio and singing along, "Oh speak. Speak to me. I'm as quiet as I can be, so speak. Speak to me." Just then I looked at the road sign which contained the name of the secretary at school. What's that, Lord? Are you speaking to me?
I was considerably early to pick the kids up (Wonder Who planned that out???) so I went in to the school and asked the secretary if there was something about which I could pray for her that afternoon while I waited. She told me God knew the need, so I went back and sat in my van and prayed for her.
Now, whenever I hear "Speak to Me" on the radio, I turn it off and pray for this dear woman. And, I'm telling you, I hear that song quite a bit. Not sure if the rest of the listening audience hears it, but I trust God is calling me to pray.
I have found another prayer cue more recently. A woman in a MOPS group, for whom I will be speaking soon, told me about a sad occurance in her life and said it was a "total bummer." Ever since then I have heard myself saying the word "bummer" in response to things, and when I hear that word I think of this woman and ask God to comfort her heart. Honestly, before this situation I cannot recall myself saying that word as often as I do now.
And there's another. My daughter told me once that sometimes Satan tries to tell her she isn't good enough, because sometimes she "forgets" about God. She knows that isn't true, but it seemed to trouble her. For Christmas I bought her a silver ring with Jesus' name engraved on it - to help her remember. She wears it all the time. And whenever I notice the ring, I pray for her and ask God to help her remember Him.

It has been my desire to become more sensitive to God's call to pray continuously, and to be aware of His Spirit's leading to pray for specific people and situations. I believe these prayer cues around me are a means He uses to foster my prayers, and I love it!
He is always present and wanting to hear from us.
Isn't He Wonderful???

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Monday, January 14, 2008

My Little Pray-er

When my husband and I were sophomores in college the last four digits of his telephone number were 1111. Something about that number tickled Brian and whenever he saw that time displayed on the clock he chimed, "Eleven Eleven!" (November 11 also became his favorite day of the year.) I would usually chuckle at his fixation on that number, not realizing God would make it significant for me, too.
You see, one day we decided - since we always thought of each other when we saw 11:11 - we would pray for one another whenever we looked at the clock and it was displaying that time. For the past 16 or 17 years God has frequently brought my eyes around to the clock at 11:11 and I have prayed for my dear husband. Actually, I have even seen a billboard along the roadside which had "eleven eleven" written out on it. That was good enough for me, so I prayed then, too. *grin*
Some time over the past few months I told Matthew about this prayer cue Brian and I have, and I am sure he has heard me say to Brian, "I looked at the clock at 11:11 today!" He loves that Brian and I pray for each other, and yesterday Matthew decided to cause us to pray for one another even more. He made two signs and taped them on both sides of our bedroom door, like this:Last night Matthew asked me if I am praying for Brian every time I walk in and out of my bedroom. Yes, I am. And whenever I even walk past it. Matthew would probably like to know I am also thanking God for him and his tender heart whenever I see that sign, too.

It is absolutely delighting my heart to see Matthew growing in prayerfulness.

Awhile ago God put it on my heart to pray for Matthew when he is endlessly holding onto me at bedtime. Sometimes I used to literally pry his hands off my neck, telling him, "Good night, Matthew. I need to go now." (Meaning, Let go, already. I have stuff I want to do!) But God moved in me to stay as long as Matthew is holding on, and to pray for him. Well, one night Matthew didn't hold on very long and when he let go I said, "Hey, I wasn't finished yet." He stared at me with a puzzled look, and I told him that I pray for him when he holds onto me like that. He was quick to grab on again, and I could hear him praying for me.
Now, whenever Matthew holds onto my neck we pray for each other. I know he loves me praying for him, and I can see it brings him joy to pray for me, too. *BIG grin*
Yesterday he came into my room and said, "I will be so impressed if Joshua gets his DS!" (He has been saving up for it, and now that he has enough money we are finding the stores are out of stock.) I replied, "Oh, yeah? Why is that?" Matthew smiled and said, "Because I just prayed for it!"

I love what I am seeing in him, and am praying Matthew will grow to be a man of great faith and prayer!

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Friday, January 11, 2008


Whew! This has been a busy week for me - which is why it has been so "quiet" in my corner of blogville.
I spoke for MOPS groups Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Normally, I do not schedule speaking engagements three days in a row like that and today I am pretty wiped out. But God is good and I know He will carry me through the activities ahead of me this weekend. (Joshua is turning 10 on Sunday and I will have eight fourth grade boys over here this evening for a birthday party. Yikes! LOL)
So what am I doing blogging, when I could be folding laundry or straightening up the house? (Yeah, as if those boys are going to care what the house looks like!) I just have to brag about God. I had a few God-Sightings this week and I want to tell you about them.

#1 Tuesday and Wednesday I was speaking on the west side of the state. When I scheduled those dates, I did it with some reservation because the west side tends to get hit really hard with snow. I was afraid I might get "cancelled" by snow days in January. But for some reason, those were the dates that worked.
Well, by Monday the temperatures here were in the 50s and all the snow was completely gone. As I lay in bed Monday night listening to the rain, and as I drove through it Tuesday morning, I thanked God over and over for the unseasonably warm air. If that rain had been snow, I just know MOPS would have been cancelled.
But God had it worked out.

#2 Tuesday I spent the night with one of the coordinators of the Wednesday MOPS group. (It just made more sense to stay on that side of the state, rather than doing a lot of extra driving back and forth.) Once when I woke up and rolled over to look at the clock, it wasn't on.
I realized the power had gone off.
My mind went to work on a list of "what if" questions and I began to consider whether MOPS would be cancelled or not if there was no power in the church. I was praying, telling God I knew He was in control and asking Him to, pretty please, restore power.
As I was saying, Amen, the power came back on. I am not kidding! I lay in bed with a huge grin, thanking God and asking Him if He was showing off, or building my faith.
Seriously, I thought it was so sweet of God to wake me up so I could see Him turn the lights back on. He didn't have to do that. But He did it, and to me it was as if He were saying, See, Karen? You don't need to worry. I have it all worked out.

#3 Then came Thursday morning. I don't know why I thought it was going to take me two hours to drive to the church at which I was speaking. I don't know why I didn't look more closely at the directions to figure out the time it would take. I don't know why, except that God knew I was going to miss an important road - and I was going to need that extra time.
When I realized the error I had made in driving and called the MOPS coordinator to let her know I was going to be later than I planned, I also found out I didn't really need to be there as early as I first thought. She had built a little extra time into our schedule that morning. I breathed a sigh of relief and could almost hear God say, See, My dear one? I told you I have it all worked out.
I just smiled and thanked Him, and watched for the right road.

Even in the midst of writing this post I happened to God caused me to look at the clock right at 3:30. Three-thirty is the time the alarm on my cell phone is supposed to go off, reminding me to walk up to school to meet the boys. But I got a new phone yesterday and have yet to figure out how to set the alarm - in fact, I completely forgot I needed to do it. So today the alarm was not going to be sounding.
No worries.
God has got me covered.
I walked to school singing love songs to Him, thanking Him for taking such good care of me, joyful for all my God-Sightings this week.

How about you? Any God-Sightings you want to share?

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Part Two...The Good News

If you haven't read my post from Friday, The Hardest Stage, I hope you will read it before you start this one.
It may be that Friday's post left you with some sense of disappointment, of thinking, If the stage I'm in is always going to be the hardest one, how am I supposed to press on? In a way, that's the feeling I was hoping to evoke. Kind of a bad news/good news situation. As in, The bad news is - you're always going to be in the hardest stage. The good news is...Read on!

I was meeting with my mentor a few weeks ago, lamenting the morning I’d had with the boys. I told her I had asked God, “Why does this have to be so hard?”
This isn’t the first time I have asked God this question, and – honestly – it is a faith-filled question. I truly believe God is using motherhood to make me into the woman He wants me to be, and I do have tremendous HOPE as a result. So, in asking that question I am reminding myself God is up to something good.
But Jenni saw something more and asked me, “Where do you think God was in the middle of your struggle?” Of course He was with me. He always is. I thought I was acknowledging His presence by asking Him why this time in my life has to be so hard. So I told Jenni I knew God was right there with me in the midst of the chaos and we talked about living in the present moment, until our time together came to an end.

God, however, wasn’t finished with the conversation. He has been playing it over and expanding on it ever since I walked out Jenni’s door. It has been a part of some email exchanges. The idea has been rolling around in my head almost constantly for the past week or two. He even addressed it in the sermon at church today! I keep hearing that question, Where do you think God was in the middle of your struggle?
The conclusion I have come to as a result of contemplating this question has me so excited I can hardly stay in my skin!!! Are you ready?

God has shown me I can have HOPE in mothering because He is using my trials to refine me, just like a silversmith uses fire to refine silver. And HOPE is such a good thing. The Bible says we hope for that which we do not yet possess (Rom. 8:24-25) and I have realized this HOPE God has given me is for my future. I can endure the trials of my present, understanding God is using them for my future. So I have HOPE.

And I am thankful.

BUT, in considering Jenni’s question, I have been working at shifting my focus. By all means, I am still hoping in God and the work He is doing in me. However, when I am in the middle of a struggle, instead of asking Him, “Why does this have to be so hard?” I am recognizing His presence and thanking Him for being with me in it. I am asking for His eyes, that I might see my children as He does. I am thanking Him for loving my children. (One day I said to Him, I am so glad you love this child. Because right now I don’t think I can!) In short, I am trying to take my focus off the struggle and place it on my loving Heavenly Father. I am living in the present moment and seeing God in it.
And do you know what I have discovered happening in me as a result? Something is growing – even in the midst of the struggle – and the only word I can find to describe it is JOY.
My friends, this is HUGE for me – to have JOY in mothering. God has given me HOPE for the future, and JOY for the present. Even though – as I said in Friday’s post – I believe the present is the hardest stage in mothering, God is showing me the present is also where I can find JOY.

Heavenly Father, I can never thank You enough for the way You are revealing Yourself to me. Your perfect care for me is beyond my comprehension. I thank You for first giving me HOPE in mothering and for now showing me how I can truly have JOY. You are so good to me and I am so thankful. O Lord, my God, I will praise Your name forever!

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Blog Site!!!

I am planning to write the second part of yesterday's post on Monday, but for today I want to help spread the word about a new blog our friend, Shawna, has started.

Teen Lit Review
Real Reviews for the Christian Parent

When it comes to what is acceptable entertainment for children, there are many places to turn for information. With movies, you have a rating to guide you and reviews you can read with detailed information about the movie and their content. With video games, there are also ratings and places online to get reviews and content details. There are even Christian websites that give these reviews and details from a family-friendly perspective.

However, with books, it is difficult to find a review from a Christian perspective. There are no “ratings” on a book. Book jackets don’t go into much detail. Reading is something all parents encourage, and many of us have children who read A LOT! But, just what are they reading?

Teen Lit Review is a new blog where you can find detailed Christian-centered book reviews for all genres of 'tween and teen books. Their goal is to be a helpmate to parents in finding suitable books for their teens.

Please visit Teen Lit Review and let them know what you think! They have a drawing you can enter for a great read for your teenager!

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Friday, January 04, 2008

The Hardest Stage

I have been in an email conversation with someone who is becoming a dear friend, and I wanted to open it up to all of you, too. This topic has been rolling around in my head for quite awhile and at this point I think it's going to come out in the form of two blog posts, but I reserve the right to drag it out.


Which stage of mothering do you think is the hardest?
Beyond that?

I have been thinking about it, and I have concluded which ever stage I'm currently in is the hardest one. The ones I've been through weren't so bad (after all, I survived them!) and the ones ahead of me have got to be easier, so the hardest one is the one I'm in right now.

Think with me here.
I remember that Elizabeth had colic and I had a hard time getting her to nurse. It seems to me I was in tears for the first few weeks every time she "latched on" because it hurt so badly. If she wasn't sleeping, she was crying and I almost always followed suit. Yes, those were miserable days and sometimes I didn't think I'd make it through. But I did.
And now I am not so bothered by them.

And when Joshua was born I had to learn the boy thing with diapers. A new baby, sleepless nights, and a toddler who didn't like that Mommy was no longer "all hers," were enough to push me over the edge so I cried every time I changed Joshua's diaper and he "sprayed" all over. (OK, I'm a slow learner, but I did get to the point of being quick enough to cover him up and avoid more accidents.) At the time, though, I felt like this diaper thing was going to be the end of me.
But I made it through.
And now I can laugh about it.

Then there was Matthew and his delay in learning to walk. We had moved into a new house and pulled up the carpet - only to find old dirty "padding" underneath which had turned to clay and fused to the floor, and the carpet we were buying was on back-order! So for two months Matthew was crawling around on this nasty floor. His hands, knees, and the tops of his feet were perpetually dirty. So in addition to the fact that I was concerned about whether he would ever walk, I grew tired of constantly wiping him clean.
But he learned to walk the week after the carpet was installed.
And now I think it's a funny story to tell.

I went through all the standard struggles of the toddler/pre-school years like thinking potty training was a never-ending battle, and never wanting to hear someone say the words, "Mine!" or, "Gimme!" for the rest of my life. I longed for the day when I could jump in the car to run to the store without having to spend ten minutes strapping children into car seats. And just once I wanted to be able to go out to lunch with a friend without having to worry about being home in time for some one's nap - lest every one's day be thrown off by a cranky child.
Yet somehow I made it through those years.
And I can think about them now without hyperventilating.

Ooohhh. I believe it was when Joshua was in kindergarten that he got angry. He went from this sweet, lovable little guy to an angry, bitter child. He yelled, scratched things, threw himself on the couch or floor, and told me I didn't love him. Those were the days when it was common for him to call me the Meanest Mom in the World. Daily.
I was beside myself trying to understand him and love him, and wanting to know what to do to help him. Tears. Lots of tears during this time in my life. And if I recall correctly, there was also a fair amount of yelling. And self-condemnation.
Earlier this week I found a journal I kept during that time. As I read an entry describing the ways Joshua carried on, I was so encouraged to realize how far he has come. Somehow, I made it through those years, too.
And as I recall them now, I am so thankful to God for His faithfulness in bringing us all through.

Now all the kids are in school full time. Many times I have a day all to myself. And I love it!
When they were younger, I thought this time in my life would be easy.
But now I'm dealing with trying to keep track of homework assignments and school projects, Book-It guidelines and Cub Scout meetings. Honestly, I try to come up with systems to manage all the stuff going on, but sometimes it really stresses me out.
There are arguments over chores, movie-night selections, whose turn it is to play the Wii, and who is responsible for cleaning up which mess. (And that's just today!) Sometimes I wish they would just grow up and take full responsibility for themselves. This stage seems just too hard.
But when they're teenagers, I am sure it's going to be better. They will be more responsible. They won't need me to do so many things for them - I'm seeing some progress in this area now and it's only going to get better, right? When they're older they will think more like adults and it will be easier to reason with them, won't it? They will be able to work things out better and I won't hear, "I'm gonna tell!" so much, right?

Do you see where I'm going with this? I hope you're reading the sarcasm I am intending to write to help make my point.

I think whichever stage of mothering we are in is the hardest one. And when we get to the next stage, it's going to be the hardest one, too.
And the next, and the next...
I think we can look back on the ones through which we have passed and not remember how hard it was - because we have survived and learned and grown.
And it seems common to look forward to the stages to come, believing they will be easier because of the surviving, learning and growing everyone (our kids and ourselves) has been doing.
But the stage we're in right now - the present - this is the hard one. Because it's the one we're living and breathing.
The past is behind us. We've made it through.
The future is before us. We are free to imagine how it will play out.
But the present is with us and always will be. There is no way to get around it. That's why I think whatever stage of parenting we're presently in is the one which is the hardest.

If you feel like I am setting you up for disappointment or despair, don't worry. I am not. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Stay tuned for part two!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reflecting and Wondering

So many bloggers are sharing their resolutions and thoughts of the New Year that I was going to opt NOT to do it. But I had a wonderful time with the Lord this morning, and something Annie said in her post today prompted me to want to share it with you all.
And so, today I am opening up my journal to you.

January 2, 2008
Here I am on the second day of the new year ~ and awake in a quiet house. Amazing!
Time to reflect and wonder...
For starters, the house in which I am sitting is not the same one I was in one year ago. God, on January 2, 2007, You knew we were going to move to Okemos on August 18.
And the job Brian is getting ready for right now is not the job he had on January 2, 2007. But, Lord, one year ago You knew Brian would be opening Fitness Together on October 24.
One year ago You knew my speaking engagement on February 1 would be snowed out and I would "make it up" on November 15. You knew the women to whom I would be speaking on March 1 in Florida - and You knew that was just the beginning of the traveling I would do.
You even knew I would change my goal for having my next book written.
You knew everything about 2007 and our lives in it - before any of it came to pass. Because You are Creator-God ~ All-Knowing and All-Powerful!
Thank You, Lord, for the year that has passed. Thank You for leading Brian to FT, for giving us this new house, for helping the kids adapt to a new school and to find new friends. Thank You for all these new things in our lives - even the rats - and the new ways You are helping me see my kids and even Brian.
Thank You for making all things new. Thank You for not leaving me as I was when You saved me, but for continuing to work in me through Your Holy Spirit - that I might become who You want me to be. O, Perfect Father, please help me to be sensitive to Your voice in 2008. Help me to keep my eyes fixed upon You and to follow obediently to places You lead me.
In mothering.
In being a wife.
In being a friend.
In speaking and writing.
Lord, I want to be Your holy and obedient vessel!
Please help me hear Your voice as I consider joining Speaking Thru Me - to have time to work on that application and to discern whether You want me there.
I need to hear Your voice as I finish working on got Hope? Lord, I so want to write the words which will lead mothers closer to Your heart and will help them experience You (and so, find Hope) in the midst of their daily-ness.
And thank You that You know if I will be an exhibitor at Convention Oct. 2-4 and whether I will get to met Angela. Lord, please make the way for me!
You know I would love to lead a workshop at Convention, and I know You are fully capable of opening a door for me to do just that. As You will, Lord!
Father, please lead me as I speak this year. Go before me and prepare the way. Please prepare the hearts of the women to whom I will be speaking next week in Hamilton and Kalamazoo and Midland, and later this month in Frankenmuth. Father, please speak through me to them! You have given me such HOPE and, yes - JOY, and I want to share it.
Lord, I pray this year You will bring me before the women You want to reach with my story - moms who are struggling, who need to know they're not alone. Across the state or across the country - or even across the world, Lord. Please take me where You want me!

You already know, and I am so glad. Praise You, Father!!!

They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see. Psalm 115:5
But You, Lord, can do it all!!!

I always love to see God bring things together. I have just started going through Psalm 115 (in my one-verse-at-a-time fashion) and this morning was considering how idols have mouths and eyes, but cannot speak or see.
God not only has a mouth to speak to our hearts, and eyes which see us all the day through, but He has a mind which knows our future, hands to hold and protect us, ears to listen attentively to our cries, and a will to do what is best for us.

Keep your eyes fixed upon Him in 2008!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Have I told you before that I am married to Mr. Wonderful? Well, I am. And if this post doesn't prove it, I don't know what will. *big grin*
Several months ago we received a cash gift and at that time Brian and I decided we wanted to use part of it to buy a Wii game system for the kids for Christmas.
A couple of times I asked the kids (to be sure it wouldn't be a waste of money) if they would like it if we ever got a Wii. Their response was always along the lines of, "Oh, yes, Mom! But we can't get one. They're too expensive." I would just nod and say, OK.
Well the time came to purchase said system and we couldn't find one in stock anywhere. Finally, Brian spoke with someone at Best Buy who told him there would be 100 systems available on a Sunday morning. The word on the street was people were going to start lining up at 4:00 a.m. Brian asked what "we" should do and I replied, of course, "he" should go for it. He debated about it, but when we went to bed Saturday night he told me to set the alarm for 4:00. He did tell me I could change my mind at anytime and go in his stead, and that would be OK with him.
See? Isn't he wonderful?
When the alarm sounded, Brian asked if I'd changed my mind. I think I laughed and turned off the alarm. So he arose and went out on the very cold morning to get in line at Best Buy.
As I laid in my warm, cozy bed I thought of my wonderful husband and thanked God for him. And much later, as I stood in my hot shower, I imagined Brian out in the cold and thought again of how wonderful he is.
Finally, shortly after 8:00 the phone rang. It was Brian and I asked him, "Did you get one?" He told me he was in line to check out with the Wii and I gave a quiet cheer. Then he said, "Yeah, but the people who got here at 7:30 also got one. *sigh*"
I tried to console Brian by saying, "But it makes you more wonderful that you got up at 4:00 to get it for the kids!" I'm not sure he was convinced...
If my words didn't make him feel wonderful, then the kids' reaction when they opened it up on Christmas sure did. Check this out!It was such a thrill for me to see how excited the kids were with this gift. The next morning I was laying in bed and could hear them talking. Joshua said, "I still can't believe we really go a Wii!" Matthew added, "Yeah. That is so cool!"
But that was only the beginning of the fun.We got Dance Dance Revolution/Hottest Party and have all been enjoying it. Our neighbor kids have been getting into it, too, especially now that we got a second dance pad. You can compete with each other for the highest score, or work together to achieve higher scores. Elizabeth and I have earned "Double A" twice. Granted, we got that score on "Beginner," but we were excited anyway!

When I am not dancing, I get the biggest kick out of watching Brian play Tanks. Joshua had previously enjoyed playing this particular game at his friend's house, and considered himself to be quite skilled at it. Well, shooting at things and blowing them up is great fun for boys, and I can see Mr. Wonderful still has a lot of boy in him! He has put in a good amount of practice time, and the kids think he is wonderful!
Joshua was expressing how impressed he is with Brian's success at Tanks and Brian said, "Well, what do you think I do after you go to bed? I sit here and play!" Joshua looked at me as if to say, Really, Mom? Does he play this when I'm in bed? I just smiled and shook my head. But I think he's still suspicious.
Here he is playing, while the kids look on in amazement. It's so fun to hear them say, "Dad, will you play Tanks with me?" They love getting to the higher levels that Brian helps them achieve.

Tonight Joshua and I played it together. I don't think we made it past level five...Guess I need to put in some more practice time! LOL

If someone had told me a game system could bring so much fun family time, I would have seriously doubted them. But we have enjoyed playing together so much on the Wii. I think this is the best gift ever!

I'm even seeing how it will help me stay in touch with the kids, but I'll share about that later.

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