Thursday, February 28, 2008

It Would Be Easier if I Didn't Love Him

Matthew has played a central role in a few of my most recent posts and several of you have commented that he sounds like a sweet little guy.
He is.
Believe me - he is!
Matthew has a precious heart, and I truly believe God hugs me, kisses me, and tells me He loves me through the arms and mouth of that little boy. And in moments like this one - when the house is empty and quiet (except for the squeaking of the rats' wheel - note to self: oil that wheel!) and I have just enjoyed our morning pilgrimage - it is easy for me to love Matthew. I am peaceful, rested and filled with good feelings for him, and loving Matthew makes perfect sense to me.

Ahhh - this is good!

The problem, I have determined, is I still love Matthew when my surroundings are chaotic (often because of his behavior...), when my nerves are shot and I am weary (often as a result of his behavior...), and when my feelings about him are far from "good" (again, his behavior...).
At times like this, if I didn't love Matthew it would be OK with me to yell back at him. I wouldn't mind that we aren't dealing peacefully with each other. It wouldn't matter to me whether or not he learns how to respect authority and develop self-control. If I didn't love Matthew, I wouldn't be concerned about his feelings or the person he is growing up to be and this whole mothering thing would be a lot easier.

But I do love him, and I am concerned.

There are those who would suggest I "choose my battles" and avoid those situations which provoke the undesirable behaviors. Good advice, when it's possible to follow. Unfortunately, homework, showers, and waking in the morning to get ready for school are unavoidable events and I refuse to let him pass on chores. Since those are the events which typically bring on Matthew's undesirable behavior, I see no way to get around it.
I am suddenly thinking of the chant we used to do as kids...Goin' on a bear hunt, comin' to a field. Can't go under it. Can't jump over it. Can't get around it. Gotta go through it. Swish, swish, swish...Did you sit around campfires reciting this "song," too?

OK, back to 2008!

I see no way to get around Matthew's fits, so I guess I gotta go through it. And since I do love him and I am concerned about my son and who he is becoming, I am willing to walk this road - even though it won't be easy.
This morning I sat at the table eating my cereal while Matthew stormed to his room to get dressed, and I prayed. I asked God to calm my heart and Matthew's. I asked Him to show me how to deal peacefully with Matthew, and I asked Him to help me see the reason for his outbursts. If there is something I can do to help this child develop self-control I want to do it, and I need God to lead me.
My need for God is the major thing I have realized in mothering. On my own I will fail, and all the money in the world won't pay for the therapy my kids will need to "get fixed." But I know God is with me every moment of every day - as He is with you! He is loving me, shaping me, teaching and guiding me. He will give me the grace I need to make it through. God is the one Who has placed this love for my children in me, and I know He won't leave me alone to navigate through this life alone.

So, friend, how does this post intersect with your life today? Is there a particular situation or relationship which came to your mind when I started talking about can't get around it, gotta go through it? Is there something about which you could say, It would be easier if...?
My prayer today is you will be convinced God loves you and He knows what He is doing. I believe He will use your hard times to refine you and make you beautiful. May you find HOPE in this reality.
I pray you will also recognize His presence with you today. I am asking God to reaveal Himself to you - that you may know He is with you in every moment, loving and caring for you perfectly. And in this Truth, I pray you may experience JOY.

Call on Him, friend. He is faithful!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Whose Plan is Best???

OK. So I have my plans, and I know how things should work out. I think through my schedule for the day and if everything goes according to the way I have set it in my mind, everything will be as it should. Don't you agree? I imagine you have plans for how your day should go, too, don't you?
This is how my morning was supposed to go today:
8:05 - Begin the process of getting boots and coats on to go to the bus stop.
8:10 - Open the door and walk out it with the boys to go to the bus stop.
8:24 - Hug the boys, tell them I love them, and wish them a good day as they get on the bus.
8:30 - Head to the lab to get a blood test.
8:35 - Arrive at said lab.
8:38 - Get called in for blood test.
8:43 - Go to the store for a few quick items.
8:58 - Head home and eat breakfast, because I am starving since I had to fast for the blood test.

This is what really happened:
I prodded Matthew for several minutes to finish eating and get his teeth brushed so we could leave on time.
We left a few minutes late.
We walked our half mile through some pretty significant snowfall. Apparently the snow was slowing down the bus, because we waited quite a long time at the bus stop. Guess it didn't matter that we had a late start. By the time the bus did arrive, we were quite snow-covered ourselves.
When I got home I saw that Brian had shoveled part of the driveway, and figured I ought to finish "my" side. So I did.
I walked into the house and saw that it was already 8:50. Hmmm. My plans were changing already.
And when I went into the bathroom I saw the delays were to continue. My hair was soaked from the snow so I had to dry it again, and I needed to fix my make-up, too. The snow flakes on my eye lashes had melted and combined with my non-waterproof mascra to leave me looking a little bit like a football player.
Having fixed those things, I grabbed the address for the lab and left the house again.
When I pulled into a certain parking lot and drove around the building a bit, I realized the lab was not where I thought it was. So I looked at the map and address again and went out in search of the correct building. It only took me a minute or two to get to the right building. But it took another minute or two for me to find the right entrance.
Once checked in, I took a seat and waited. For a few more minutes.
When I was called back to the lab, the technician who was entering my information in the computer was having some trouble and needed to get help. So I waited there a bit longer, too.
Then came the woman who was going to draw my blood. Usually I get complimented on what "nice" veins I have, but not today. She poked my left arm but when she stuck the little tube onto the end of the needle it didn't fill with blood. So she said, "Let's try your other arm." Oh, good, I thought, because I really like getting stuck with needles!!!
Fortunately, my right arm cooperated.
Clearly, my morning was not going according to schedule, but at least I was done in the lab and now I only needed to run in and out of the store and then I could go home and get breakfast.

So I entered the store with the thought I could be in and out of there in a matter of minutes. I found my first item without delay (Ahhh! Finally things were going my way...) and was on my way to get the second. As I was peering down the aisle to see if what I needed was there, I noticed the person I was trying to look past was a friend I haven't seen in awhile. She goes to my church, we used to be in MOPS together, and she is even on my prayer team, but I just haven't seen and talked to her in quite some time.
What a joy it was to see her! We spent the next several minutes catching up and enjoying each other. She told me about some difficult things she and her family are going through and before we said good-bye I asked if I could pray for her. So we prayed, and we hugged. It was a blessed time. I was absolutely delighted we just "happened" to be in the store, no - the same aisle - at the same time this morning so we could see each other and be mutually encouraged. I thanked God for bringing us together.

It was as I was continuing my shopping, though, that I realized the significance of our timing this morning. I had my plan for how the morning was to go - down to the minute. But if my morning had gone according to my plan, I would have completely missed my friend in the store.
Reflecting on all my delays - the bus, the shoveling, the hair drying and make-up, getting "lost," computer entry problems, and an arm that wouldn't give up any blood, I realized God knew the timing which was necessary this morning, and He made sure His plan prevailed. And I am so thankful!

As you are going through your day, my friend, I pray you will keep your eyes open to see the ways God is working around and in you to bring His perfect plans to pass. He is good, and everything He does is good. Will you trust Him today to do what is good and right???

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Blogging With a Purpose!

Have you ever visited Maria over at Free To Fly? If you haven't, you should!
She is another blogging friend who I really wish I could meet IRL someday. This year she is calling us to focus on our marriages with her feature she's calling The Year of Romance! This woman truly has a purpose with her blogging, so it does not surprise me she received the Blogging With a Purpose award, which originated with Eric Novak at Blogging With A Purpose.
What blesses me is Maria recognizes I also have a purpose with my blogging, and she has passed the award on to me. Thanks, Maria! I hope that everything I do here on my blog serves to encourage others and glorify God!

The rules for this award are as follows:
1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to the above site.

I am pleased to share this award with five blog friends whom I believe truly have a purpose with their blogs. They are...
Angela at The Potter's Hand
Jenileigh at Jeniliegh's Journey
Rachel at A Heart Assessment
Karen at Karen's Ramblings
Sue at Praise and Coffee

Thanks again, Maria, for seeing my purpose here. And thank you to each of you who come over...I do pray you will always find hope and encouragement here - whether you are a mom or not!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Half Mile

How far can you travel in a half mile?
It's 2,640 feet.
Twice around the track.
The distance from my house to the bus stop.

This morning Matthew and I traveled from livid to loving in a half mile.

We had eaten breakfast together and, as I was going to get in the shower, I told Matthew to get dressed and ready for school. I reminded him of the things he needed to do and he told me he understood and would do them.
He didn't.
When I got out of the shower I came out to "check" on Matthew and found him still at the table in his pajamas. Again (and with more intensity...) I told Matthew to get dressed, and this time he did.
However, over the next fifteen minutes he managed to "forget" nearly everything he was supposed to do to get ready - in spite of my reminders. The result of the time wasted was that, when it was time to walk out the door, Matthew still hadn't brushed his teeth and I hadn't put gel in his hair to make it spikey for "crazy hair day" at school.
Up to this point, Matthew and I had simply been irritating each other. Me "nagging," and him "ignoring." But when I told Matthew there was not time to put gel in his hair he got livid.
Rather than brush his teeth, he stood there crying and yelling because I wasn't going to gel his hair. I told him if he really wanted the crazy hair, he should have gotten himself ready on time. As I listened to him yelling about me being "not fair" I put his snow pants in his bag and went back to see if he had brushed his teeth yet. (I knew he hadn't, because he never stopped yelling.) So I stood there and made him do it, then sent him out - still yelling - to get his boots on.
I decided I would squirt some gel in my hand and mess his hair up while he was getting his boots on. It wouldn't be the "cute spikey" do he probably wanted, but it would be "crazy" and I figured that would have to be enough. Oh, silly me.
As I was stomping walking to my bathroom to get the gel, I was unloading on God. God, I want to wring his neck right now! I have had it this morning. Please help me!!!
Returning to the family room with a glob of gel in my hand, I said, "OK. Here you go." And I made Matthew's hair crazy/messy. I'll admit, I wasn't taking my time or trying to make it cute. There was no time for that. But he wanted gel, and he wanted his hair to be crazy, so that's what I did.
Not good enough.
Matthew didn't like it (He didn't even have a mirror to look at his hair, so I didn't know how he could really have an opinion about it...) and he yelled at me for messing it up.
Now, I was livid. I couldn't believe Matthew was yelling at me for messing his hair up. He had just been crying out for gel and crazy hair, and now that I gave it to him, he was yelling at me for messing it up. UGH!!!
We were on our way out the door to go to the bus stop and Matthew was still yelling and crying. I told him if he yelled at me again I wasn't going to walk to the bus stop with him. (I am so mature when I'm angry!)
We walked in silence for about 30 seconds and then started to talk. I went over the need for Matthew to stay on task in getting ready for school, and reminded him if he had done so this morning we could have done his hair however he wanted. Matthew replied that it wasn't all his fault. I mulled his statement over a bit and said, "You're right, Matthew. I shouldn't have yelled at you this morning. But..." It is so hard for me to not stick that But you should have... in there!

Soon our conversation turned to cold ears and "100th Day of School" activities and the next thing I knew we were at the bus stop. The cat was out - which is always a nice diversion - and our spirits were calmer. Matthew was petting the cat and I called to him to come over to me.
"What, Mamma?"
I leaned over to him and said, "Matthew, I'm sorry about our fight this morning, and I want you to know I love you."
He smiled and replied, "I know."
With that, the bus came around the corner, the boys hugged me, and off they went to school.

So there you have it. Livid to loving in half a mile.

Some of my neighbors drive their kids to school and others have asked why I don't just drive, instead of walking half a mile to the bus stop.
But, you know what? I love that half mile walk. On many occasions our trip to the bus stop has given us the opportunity to overcome some pretty rough mornings, in order that we may go into the day loving each other rather than being thankful for the time apart.
I have had several mornings in which I have spent my walk home thanking God for my sons and His redeeming power. I don't know exactly what it is about that half mile walk which brings my boys and I such a peace and love for each other, but I am thankful for it and will not give it up for a warm ride in the van. Ever.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Would You Have Done???

OK, so tonight - for the first time in his life - Matthew threatened to run away. I wasn't sure if I should try to stop him, or just let him go. And I wonder, what would you have done?

Here's the story:
Matthew (age 7) is notorious for not helping get the table set when it's dinner time. He only has a few basic responsibilities but somehow he manages to shirk them off on someone else. I am of the opinion that if you are going to partake in the eating of the meal, you are also going to partake in the setting of the table. Matthew, however, seems to think he should get the benefit without the effort.
Tonight I asked him several times to work on the table. (Elizabeth and Joshua were already doing their part.) About the fourth or fifth time I "asked" Matthew to get to work I raised my voice and he retorted, "You don't need to yell at me to get me to set the table. Geesh!"
I wanted to come back with, "Well, asking nicely didn't work. What do I need to do?" But instead I just watched him to see if he would help with the few remaining things left to do.
He didn't.
So I sent him to his room.
He went, but it was with a lot of fussing.
While he was there I considered what to do next. I had initially thought I was going to make him stay in his room while the rest of us ate, and then let him come out to eat by himself. I figured if he wasn't going to participate in helping the family, tonight he wasn't going to participate in enjoying the family, either. However, something came over me and I decided I would just have a brief talk with him and then invite him out to eat with us.

Until I went to his room to have that brief talk.

I had barely gotten two words out of my mouth when Matthew shouted, "I know!" and made it very clear he was not listening to me. I said, "Oh, really? You know? What was I going to say?"
Of course, he didn't know.
I told him I was going to say he could come out and have dinner with us. But since he just treated me so rudely and with disrespect, now I decided he would need to stay in his room and could have dinner when the rest of us were finished. Ooooo, he did not like that decision!
But I walked out of his room to let him yell and fuss by himself.
Over the course of the next five or six minutes Matthew yelled that it wasn't fair for me to not let him eat. He accused me of not loving him. A couple of times he said I hated him. Were it not for Elizabeth and Joshua saying, "It's OK, Mom," I probably would have been in tears. (Brian wasn't home for dinner tonight...) Matthew had a few other unkind words to say and ended with a threat that he was going to leave.
By this time I was feeling more calm, in spite of the unrest coming from across the house, and I took his threat in stride. I knew he was angry with me, and in his anger he was saying a bunch of things which were not true, and which he didn't really mean. I knew Matthew was not thinking rationally (as rationally as a seven-year-old can think) and would eventually see things clearly. I also recalled that there were a few times in my childhood when I threatened to run away from my mom.
So I had the peace of mind to listen to Matthew's threat, knowing it was empty. But I sat and wondered, Do I let him go outside? Where will he go? Will he simply walk down the street? Will he take two steps outside and turn right around to come back in because it is soooo cold out there? Do I insist he bundle up before he runs away? What should I do?
As I sat at the dinner table, I prayed about what to do and fortunately, I never had to make that decision. (Hmmmm, a connection? I think so!) Before Matthew made his move, a wave of reason came over him. He came out to the kicthen and calmly asked me if he could have dinner. I went over to him and we talked about what had just transpired, then I invited him to the table and he ate. (And fast. That little guy was hungry!)
After dinner, Matthew cleared the entire table - by himself - and without a fuss. Hmmm, lesson learned? I sure hope so!!!

But I'm still curious. What would you have done regarding the run away situation?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Planning a Day Away!

Hmmm, we're on Day 5 of my kids' five-day-weekend. Could there be a correlation between their extended time off and me thinking about my "get-away" which is coming up?

Yeah, I think so!!!

On Saturday, March 29, I am going to be joining a couple women from my neighborhood Bible study at the 2008 Women in The Word Conference. I can't wait to go!!!
The conference is put on by Michigan Theological Seminary and is being hosted by Calvary Baptist Church in Canton, Michigan. Anyone else in the area want to go? You can get details and register online here.
The reason I am so excited about attending this conference (besides having a day free from being "Mom"...) is because Kay Arthur is going to be the featured speaker. I heard Kay speak at the TimeOut for Women! conference in 2003 and God used her significantly to grab a hold of me. Since then, I have been in a few Precepts Bible studies at church and have listened to her teaching through video. She knows God and His Word intimately, and I am so looking forward to seeing her in person again.

If you aren't in Michigan and cannot attend this conference, I would suggest you keep your eyes open for a time when Kay may be coming to a location near you. She is truly a blessing to see!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Because I Love You

My bedtime conversation with Matthew last night, after he had been crying and complaining about me making him go to bed "early":

Matthew (crying): It isn't fair that I have to go to bed before Elizabeth and Joshua! You're making me go to bed early because you don't love me!
Me: No, Matthew. It is because I love you that I am making you go to bed early. If I didn't love you, I would let you stay up as late as you want to. I would just say, "Whatever. I don't care. Stay up late!"

He stopped crying, so I continued.

Me: Every decision I make, everything I do for you, I do because I love you.
It is because I love you that I punish you when you do bad things.
It is because I love you that I make you do your homework, even when you don't want to.
It is because I love you that I wash your clothes, and make your dinners, and tell you to take a shower and brush your teeth.
I know sometimes you don't like the things I do, or tell you to do, but everything I do, Matthew, I do because I love you.

He seemed to be listening, and I pray those words will echo in his head until they rest comfortably in his heart.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

I Don't Want To Do This, but...

My kids don't have school today.
Or Monday.
Or Tuesday.
President's Day Weekend break??? What's up with that? When I was a kid, we went to school on President's Day. And we liked it!!!

Anyway, I was thinking it would be nice to do something special with them to celebrate their mini vacation. Then I thought again.
The boys were fighting and just being mean to each other. I tried talking to them about the fact we are a family and we need to love each other. Our home needs to be a safe place where they feel accepted, not rejected. All the while I was engaging in this monolouge having this conversation they were making wise cracks at each other and I didn't feel like they were listening to a word I was saying.
I told them I had been considering taking them on a special outing, but was now having second thoughts. My hope was the mention of a privilege that might be taken away would change their behavior really fast. Uh, the change only lasted for a few seconds. And in my mind I had determined I was not going to take them anywhere. But the Lord kept my mouth shut about that piece of information.
He's so good that way! Because...
As I left the boys to go back to my room and finish getting ready for the day, I considered how gracious He has been to me. In my heart I knew I should forgive my children and extend grace to them. But I really didn't want to! They were being mean to each other and rude to me, and I didn't want to reward that kind of behavior with a trip to Caesarland.
God knows my heart and He kept impressing upon me how much I have been forgiven. He has never not forgiven me for something wrong I have done. And what is that verse in Colossians? Something like, Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (3:13) How could I disagree with Him?
I went out to the kids and told them what I had been thinking - Based upon their behavior I did not want to take them to Caesarland. They did not deserve to go. (Yes, I was trying to instill a little fear in them! LOL) Then I told them I realized Jesus has forgiven me every single time I have offended Him. Every.single.time! I said, "Because Jesus has forgiven me, I am going to forgive you, and we will go to Caesarland."
So, we're off!
Have a great day!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Have You Tried This???

I already know what I am going to find in my mailbox today. Our next DVD from Netflix.

You have heard of Netflix, haven't you? They are the ones with the very strange ads on the radio. If A plus B equals C, what is the square root of applesauce? OK, that isn't a word-for-word quote from a Netfilx ad, but if you've heard them, you know that is the jist of what they sound like.
Based upon the sound of their ads, I always thought Netflix was just a little too "out there" and had no interest in them. Until Brian suggest we give them a try, and now I am hooked.
You see, Fridays around my house are known as Movie Night and since we moved this summer we have not been able to find a video store around here that isn't on the super-expensive end of the spectrum. So every week we have been driving fifteen minutes back to our "old" video store to get our weekly flick. And even that store has been increasing in price. (Not to mention the dollar amount we have paid in late fees. When the video store was only three minutes from our house running over there to return a forgotten video wasn't a big deal...)
Anyway, somehow Brian came across a free trial offer for Netflix and we decided to see what it was like.
I cannot believe how easy this system is, and I do not know what took me so long to try it, but I am so glad we have it now. Brian sat down with the kids to make the list of movies they would like to see and we ordered the first one.
This is the way it works now: Friday night we watch our movie (Notice I didn't say first: Friday afternoon I take all three kids to the video store and two of them argue about a movie while the third plays hide-and-seek from me between the shelves!), Tuesday I drop the DVD back in the mail, and Thursday the new DVD is delivered. And the whole Netflix deal costs considerably less than what we were spending on rentals from the store.
I don't know how Netflix provides this service so quickly and for such a low price - but I am loving it! So, if your family is big into movies you really need to check this service out!

By the way, this is not a paid post, and no one asked me to write it. I just think Netflix is a great find and wanted to tell you about it!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm Accepted

In my last post I mentioned that, when I speak, I always search out the woman God wants me to look at when I say His words, "I love you." Honestly, that is one of my favorite parts of my talk because of the tenderness of God's love and care as it flows through me. Well, yesterday I got to be on the receiving end of that care, and it was wonderful!
My pastor was teaching from John 4 - the woman at the well. At one point he said he needed a woman "from over here" to come up on stage - not to say anything - just to hold a bucket. Since Brian and I were sitting in the front row, my pastor was looking right at me when he was making this request so I stood up and climbed onto the stage. As I held the bucket he talked about the ways Jesus served this woman, including that He accepted her - in spite of the fact she was a Samaritan, a woman, and an adulteress.
We stood on the stage and, though I know Phil was speaking as Jesus to the woman at the well, when he looked into my eyes and spoke those words of acceptance it was as if God Himself was speaking those words directly to my heart. It was a tender moment for me and I am so thankful for it!

And I know those words are true for you, too, my friend. Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you have done, God loves you passionately and wants you for His own. I pray you will delight in the knowledge of His love, and accept Him, just as He accepts you.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Minnesota, part 2 - The Rest of the Story

OK. So, where were we?
Ahhh, yes. In the snow bank. Jessica was on her way to get me, and Kati was on the phone with AAA.
When Jessica arrived, Kati was still talking to AAA so I loaded my things into Jessica's vehicle, waved goodbye to Kati (I would be seeing her again the next day.) and we were on our way once more.
In just a minute or two we were at Jessica's house, I went in and quickly changed my clothes, brushed my teeth and just wished I had time to fix my make-up. Nah. Not tonight! I grabbed my jewelry box, left my other stuff in a heap (I am usually a better house-guest than this, but time was of the essence! LOL) and we were on our way. Once more.
As we drove to the church I asked Jessica how we were doing for time. She told me the meeting was supposed to start at 6:30 and she had told the other coordinator we would probably be there by 7:00. It was already after 7:00, but Jessica was calm and that helped me. She did say the people taking care of children were willing to stay late, and the tension within me eased a little more.
As we drove to the church I was also putting on untangling my jewelry. Note to self: When traveling, never put two necklaces in the same box! Literally, as we pulled into the church parking lot, I got the last knot out of my necklace and put it on.

I was really hoping that was the last fire I was going to need to put out while on this trip.

We were greeted at the door by the MOPS coordinator. I walked in, took off my coat and gave my CDs to the young man who was running the sound and power point. At that point the coordinator told the women, "She's here!" and we got started.
Before I started speaking, I apologized for missing dinner and asked the women I was supposed to meet if they went out to dinner without me, anyway. They did. And I was glad. I think we moms need to grab those opportunities to get away whenever we can, and I was hoping my delay had not ruined this opportunity for them. *relieved sigh*
With that matter settled, I began my talk and thoroughly enjoyed the time I had with these women. I love getting them to laugh - sometimes with me, other times at me - and it always encourages me when I look out and see women nodding their heads in agreement. When I see that, I know they are hearing me, and they are "getting it." And when I see tears, I know a woman's heart is being reached and I thank God for loving her and speaking to her.
When I finished that night, most of the women had to grab their children and scoot out pretty quickly but I was so glad everyone was able to stay to the end and I thanked God for His faithfulness in bringing it all together.
In His time.

Wednesday morning I spoke for another MOPS group and, again, had a delightful time with the women. (I even had a yummy peanutbutter rice crispy treat with chocolate on top, that someone had brought for the breakfast buffet. Shhhhhh. Don't tell my kids!!!)
When I speak I try to make a lot of direct eye contact with the women in the room. I have noticed that some women get uncomfortable and look down or away, but there was one woman in particular on Wednesday morning who held my gaze whenever I looked at her. I felt like God was drawing me to her.
There is one part in my presentation where I share about a time when God told me He loved me and I always ask Him, "Who do You want me to look at when I say those words of Yours, I love you.?" Wednesday I knew without question who I was supposed to look at. When the time came, I found her eyes and spoke to her the words God spoke to me, "I want you to know that I love you." It was a tender moment and I really felt like God was loving her through me.
After I spoke, during discussion time, I found out this woman (I'm guessing her to be in her early 20s) is a working mom to a 17 month old little boy. She is going through a divorce and is caring for her mother, who is ill. She is not a member of this MOPS group, but was invited by a friend to come and hear me speak. She was in tears as she shared about the things going on in her life and I was so glad to be able to love her for God. Would you pause a moment right now and pray for her?

Wednesday afternoon I was taken to Kati's house, (BTW, she waited for the AAA rescue for over an hour Tuesday night...) and Thursday morning I spoke for her MOPS group. This was another wonderful group of women, and - Wow! - do they ever put out a spread for breakfast! I walked along the table, practically drooling, telling myself, Jessica (my trainer) would frown on me eating this, and this, and this...I was a good girl. But I did enjoy one of the treats after lunch. *grin*
Again, I enjoyed laughing with this group of moms, I prayed for them as I spoke, and I searched for the woman at whom I would look when I said, "I love you." I absolutely love speaking for women, but one of my favorite parts is after the meeting - just talking one-on-one. And I enjoyed some good discussion with women from this group, too. I commiserated with one mom about potty training, talked discipline with another, and enjoyed lunch with the leaders of the group where we talked about mentoring and spiritual growth.

I have been so blessed to be able to go on this trip to speak with and for all these precious women. The trip home was even more delayed than the trip to Minnesota, but I would do it all again in a heart beat, if only to be used by God to bring hope and encouragement to these precious women whom He loves so much.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Minnesota, part 1

I hope you have been having a great week!
As I write this I am sitting in the airport in Rochester, MN waiting for my flight to Chicago. No internet here, but I can compose in Word and post later, and so I shall.
My time with the MOPS groups here was wonderful, though it got off to a slow start. Allow me to exlain.
I flew into Chicago and then on to Rochester Tuesday. The plan was to meet a group of women in Winona from the Tuesday night MOPS group at 4:30 and go out for dinner. I was supposed to meet the sound guy at the church at 6:00. I think the meeting was supposed to begin at 6:30.
That was the plan.
Our plan.
That isn’t what happened.
I boarded the plane in Chicago and as we sat at the gate anticipating take-off, the captain announced we needed to wait for a crew member who was due to land in 20 minutes. They figured he would need 10 minutes to get onto our plane and we should be on our way in half an hour. He thanked us for our patience.
In about half an hour that crew member boarded the plane, just as they had expected. However, in that half hour the amount of precipitation in the air had increased and now the plane had to be de-iced. The captain said the de-icing truck should get to us in 10-15 minutes and we would be able to take off shortly after they sprayed us down. He again thanked us for our patience.
Sometime later the captain announced he was placing another call to find out where that de-icing truck was, and assured us we would be on our way “soon.” By now we were an hour behind schedule and I was looking at my watch, wondering how close we could cut it and still be able to make it to Winona on time.
I was praying, Lord, I know none of this delay is a surprise to You. I know You are in control and You will work all these details out. Please, Lord, please let me get to Winona to speak for those moms tonight!
I could see how this delay was a growth opportunity for me. I am such a time-oriented person (Drives my hubby nuts, makes my dad proud. Guess who I learned it from!) and I do not like to be late for anything. I especially do not like to make other people wait for me. But as I sat at gate G16 I knew no amount of worrying or fret on my part would change the time I got to Winona. I was completely powerless to affect my situation. The only reasonable thing for me to do was to trust God and pray. And so I did.
In spite of my resolve to trust God, I did get a little tired of hearing the captain thank us for our patience. To be perfectly honest, I was not feeling very patient. Anxious is probably a more accurate description of my disposition. Yes, if it is possible to be both anxious and trusting at the same time, that is what I was doing.
The de-icing truck did eventually make it over to us, and after sitting in the gate for two hours, we made our way to the runway. Where we sat for another half hour. We were originally scheduled to take off at 1:35, but when we were finally in the air I looked at my watch to see that it was 4:45.
Nope. I wasn’t going to make it to dinner with the ladies.
I knew I wouldn’t be meeting the sound guy at 6:00.
I really hoped I would make it for the meeting.

Lord, please get me there on time. Please let me speak for these women tonight.

The flight to Rochester was pleasant. I was seated next to an American Airlines pilot and enjoyed conversation with him. I had spoken with the woman who was going to meet me at the airport and knew she was going to be in touch with the ladies in Winona.
It would all work out. It had to.
Still, I could not resist the urge to check my watch every few minutes, calculate the time it would take to land, find Kati, get my luggage, and drive to Winona. I wondered if I completely missed the meeting, would the women come to the Wednesday morning meeting? Or maybe they could all stay a little later Tuesday night. We could do that, couldn’t we? I continued to offer up anxious prayers, willing myself to be calm and trust that God could handle the timing. After all, I reminded myself, none of this situation was a surprise to Him.
As we approached Rochester, the captain informed us our headwind had not been as intense as they’d expected so we had made pretty good time. He also said we were going to be able to land at a particularly convenient gate, which should shave a minute or two off our arrival time. I just smiled and thanked God. I was almost on the ground and was glad this "adventure" was nearly over so I could get to Winona and speak for those women.
Once in the airport, Kati and I found each other quickly. My luggage was almost the first to come out on the carousel, so I snatched it up and we left. Kati told me she was going to take me to the home of the woman with whom I would be spending Tuesday night so I could change my clothes, and then Jessica would be taking me to the church to speak.
Things were definitely looking up. I was relieved to be on the ground and on my way to Winona. I was glad to be over the obstacles which had delayed my arrival. I was in for another surprise.
Kati and I were following the carefully laid out directions to Jessica's house, yet when we got to the end of them we couldn't find her. No problem. That's why we have cell phones, right?
I called Jessica and she said she could see us. We just needed to turn around and we would be at her house momentarily. So Kati pulled into a driveway to make the turn around and...we got stuck in the snow.
I got out and pushed (Hey, after doing those twenty push-ups I thought I could do anything!) to no avail.
Kati tried pushing. Also unsuccessfully.
At this point, all I could do was laugh. Getting stuck in a snow bank just seemed like the perfect ending to this little adventure. It really seemed funny to me. So I laughed.
I called Jessica to come and get me, and Kati called AAA to come and get her.
Surely now, I thought, my adventure is over!

To be continued...

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Monday, February 04, 2008

The Very Long, Short-distance Journey

I'm guessing it's about twelve inches.

One foot.

A third of a yard.

The distance from my head to my heart is not very big, but the time it takes for something to travel between the two places seems to take a very long time.

And I need to set the journey in motion

I met with my mentor last week, and that is the assignment she gave me.
After our meetings, Jenni writes down the things we have discussed and she is very good about following up on them - which is what led to this assignment. She was asking me, "How are you doing with such and such?" and, "How did you respond to this situation?" And I kept hearing myself say, When I am thinking rationally, I know what is important...When I am thinking rationally, I know what is True...When I am thinking rationally... Yeah. When I am thinking rationally, things go so much better. But too often, I am thinking out of my brokenness and insecurities.
Like this issue I have with how certain people perceive me. (That would be the "such and such" about which Jenni was asking...) I am very self-conscious when it comes to thinking about how some people (like one of my kids' teachers) think of me. I want to be a good mom, and I want her to think I am, too. So when I get an email from her asking if I was aware my son didn't have snow pants at school that day, and telling me he got all wet at recess and would probably be a lot more comfortable if he had his snow pants, etc. I want to jump to my own defense. I want to say, I told him to get everything he needed for school this morning before we walked out the door. He said he wasn't going to go sledding at recess and didn't want to take his snow pants. I will let him make those decisions and hope he learns from them. I want to say those things because I don't want his teacher to think I am incapable of being a good mom. I want to say those things because I am thinking out of my brokenness.
But when I take a step back and start thinking with my head, I know it really doesn't matter what that teacher thinks of me. (BTW, she is an incredibly sweet woman, and I am sure she meant no condemnation with her email.) And I say to myself, Let it go, Karen. Seek to please God, not men. I remember what is True and right and good, and I feel a lot more peaceful. And that's good, right?
Yeah. It's good. But I need to get to the place where the things I know - everything True and right and good - reside in my heart and not just in my head. I "think" from my heart first, and I need all those true things to be in my heart. When those true things are at home in my heart, then the brokenness will no longer rule.
So Jenni told me I need to pray and ask the Lord to make that journey for me. To move those true things twelve inches - from my head to my heart. So I pray...

Father in heaven, thank You for loving me in spite of my brokenness. Thank You for Your unending patience with me. Thank You for speaking to me through Jenni. Thank You for giving me ears to hear You. And now I ask You, Father, to begin this journey for me. You have told me what is True. I know it well. Please take the things I know and make them part of who I am. Please move them into my heart!

And if you have this same head/heart disconnect, I invite you to join me on this journey!

I am setting out on another journey tomorrow. I will be speaking for a few MOPS groups in Minnesota Tuesday - Thursday, so I won't be posting again until this weekend. (Unless Chicago O'Hare has wireless...Then I'll be sure to tell you all about my trip while I'm on my little lay-over!) Anyway, I would love it if you would pray for me and the women to whom I will be speaking. (I'll be speaking Tuesday night and Wednesday and Thursday mornings.) Please pray that women will be able to make it to the meetings - I know there are some child-care issues - and that the children will be content in MOPPETS so their mommies can listen with their whole hearts rather than being concerned about their little ones.
I want to be an instrument God uses for His glory. Please pray that I will be faithful to Him!

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Friday, February 01, 2008



That is what Jessica wrote on my work-out chart this morning.
I saw it!

When I started working out in November I did modified push-ups (knees on the floor rather than toes) and a couple weeks ago Jessica had me start doing the un-modified version. Monday she wanted me to do ten and I did them, but my big push was having her saying, "C'mon, Karen. If you do ten I won't make you do any more!" (She knows how to motivate me. LOL)
So today she said we were going to finish with push-ups. I said, "Modified or un-modified." Jessica's look said, Do you even need to ask? C'mon, Karen. You can do this. As I was getting into position she asked how many I thought I could do. I answered confidently, "Three." (I knew I could do more, but I was thinking about being DONE.) Jessica just chuckled and said something like, "You can do more."
I made it to three quite easily. When I got to nine she said, "OK. One more." But as I was doing the tenth I said, "I can keep going." (I was thinking one or two more.
With twelve Jessica asked, "Can you make it to fifteen?"
I did.
And then she said, "Twenty. Go for twenty."
Eighteen was hard.
Nineteen was very hard.
And twenty.was.v-e-r-y...h-a-r-d. *collapse*
But I did it!!!!
Jessica had a stomach ache this morning but said if she didn't, she would have been jumping up and down for me. *grin* That's when she told me I got a WooHoo! on my chart. I think I was as excited as Matthew is when he gets a "star plus" on his papers.
I did twenty un-modified push-ups! WooHoo!
Look out, World. Here I come!!!

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