Monday, June 30, 2008

HE Speaks

*great big, satisfied sigh*

*peaceful grin*

I have just had a wonderful weekend.


The house was quiet, and I got tons of scrapbooking done. (I'm now working on events from 14 months ago, but I feel good about it. Really. I was back-logged 26 months when I got started!)
But that isn't the part of the weekend which has me smiling today. The part of my weekend bringing me this joy is the time I spent with Brian.
We went to dinner and a movie Friday night. Went out to dinner again Saturday (Using up gift cards we received for Christmas...) and took a nice walk around our neighborhood. Surrounding those events, we spent a fair amount of time just sitting and talking.
As we sat talking after our walk Saturday, Brian said, "It's been nice just hanging out with you this weekend."
I smiled at him and agreed, but he wasn't finished talking and what he said next rather took me by surprise. He said for the past couple weeks he has felt neglected by me. Brian said sometimes he wondered if I even noticed him.
I'm sure my mouth was hanging open as I was listening to these words, because it just wasn't clicking with me. I know I don't always give him all the attention he wants, but I do my best and to hear him say he wondered if I even noticed him seemed a little extreme. It wasn't making sense to me.
We spent the next little while talking about his thoughts. I apologized and tried to explain my perspective. In the end, Brian said he knew he shouldn't have kept this all to himself for so long. He said he had told God, "She listens to You. You tell her!" And God answered (as Brian put it), "I'm not talking to her about this, buddy. You've got to do it."
So he did.
And I was glad.
But after our conversation had ended I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wondered, How can I be enough? How can I be all the mom my children need, and all the wife Brian needs? I'm trying, but I'm not enough. And then His Spirit reminded me we've been over this very thing before, and I prayed, Lord, I need You to make me enough. I know I cannot do this without You. Please help me to be all they need me to be.
That night, every time I woke up (which seemed to happen more often than usual...) I was thinking about Brian and about the conversation we had. God was reminding me that, yes, I do need to be more intentional about loving Brian.
I think about him and pray for him all day. (The kids have posted papers all over the house which say "11:11," and they point it out whenever it's on the clock. Sometimes Matthew will even say something like, "Mom, look at the clock in 1 hour and 5 minutes so you can pray for Dad.") I realized that because of how much Brian is on my mind when he isn't around the house, it simply never occured to me that I may be neglecting him when he is home. Though I didn't mean to shut Brian out, God was showing me I had been doing it.

Sunday morning as Brian and I were getting ready for church, God had one more thing to say to me about the matter. I was reaching into the pocket of my skirt (Which I haven't worn since last summer, or maybe the summer before!) and I found a scripture verse I'd left there. Or, which God had placed there "for such a time as this." It was 1 Timothy 6:20, "Guard what has been entrusted to your care."
I smiled at Him and said, Yes, Lord. I will guard this marriage. I will love my husband. Thank You for making me enough.

A little while later I told Brian, "He's speaking to me about you now. I think you just needed to go first." And I gave him a great big kiss.


You already knew I am not a perfect mom. Well, I am not a perfect wife, either. That's why I am so glad I serve a perfect God. He knows just what we need, and He brings it about at the perfect time.

post signature

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mom's Off Duty - The Final Report

Yes, this is the final report. Mom's Off Duty has been cut short by one day. And we're going right into Mom's Having a Party!

Not sure if the kids secretly placed a call to Grandma for help, but she has taken them for a long weekend at her house. (I'm kidding - I know they didn't call her. It's just this weekend was the only time which would work out for her to take them, unless she waited until August. And since you've been reading about how great my kids are, you can understand why she didn't want to wait that long. *grin*)

So I've had a week of no housework, and now I have a long weekend of no one calling me Mom. Yep, hubby and I are going to party. *wink*

But, about today - the final day of Boot Camp for my kids. I'm telling you, I was totally blessed. As they have been all week, they got right into their morning chores - mostly taking care of dishes. And today they also took care of laundry.
That was all great, but it was our afternoon which really pleased me. The work was all done and I suggested taking a walk. Elizabeth and Matthew were interested, (Most likely because I said we could walk to Seven-Eleven and get an ice cream treat. Elizabeth will do anything for ice cream.) but Joshua was not.
I said he could stay home if he wanted but I hoped he would come.
He said if he came, he wanted to bring his DS along to play with while he was walking.
I said, "No deal." I said I hoped he would come along, but he couldn't bring the DS.
We argued it out a bit and I simply said he needed to choose. Joshua, of course, thought I was being unreasonable and didn't understand why he couldn't bring the DS on our walk. I held my ground.
And, boy, was I ever glad.
Joshua decided to come with us, without the DS, and my heart delighted in watching him walk next to Elizabeth all the way to the store. They were talking and laughing and enjoying each other. I saw my two oldest children - who so often fight with each other - having a good time together. As I watched them I prayed for them, asking God to deepen their friendship and grow their love for one another.
I couldn't help but wonder, too, if the things they went through this week - in being responsible for things around the house - may have contributed to improving their relationship. From what I could see, they really did work together well. Sure, there were moments of bickering, times when one would complain that another wasn't helping enough. But over all, I got the sense they were in this thing together.
And I couldn't be happier.
Yes, it was a long and hot walk to the store, and I didn't even get ice cream, but it was the best walk I have taken in a very long time. We made a memory, the kids enjoyed a special treat, and I took tremendous delight in seeing the growing relationships between my kids.

So, this is how I see it:
My kids are able to actively participate in household responsibilities.
Their contribution seems to build their confidence, and they actually appear to enjoy the work. (We've even talked about how we'll continue, and they are agreeable. Not that I would have changed my mind if they didn't agree. LOL)
They are learning to work together.
I have confidence they will love each other when they're grown up, because they're showing signs of it now!

My kids are far from being perfect (just like their mom!!!) but they're wonderful to me. And because of what I have seen in them over the past four days, I am officially declaring my little Mom's Off Duty exercise a success.

Now it's time to party!

post signature

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mom's Off Duty - Day Three Report

Today's proverb:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6
This is the reason I am doing what I am doing, and my kids say they "get it." We talked about it this morning - the responsibilities around the house, learning how to be a little more self-sufficient, learning the proverbs, accepting their parents' authority - these are all aspects of my kids' training, and it is all for their good. (And it's pretty nice for me, too. *grin*) They say they understand, and I believe them. I still expect we'll go through times when they will resist the guidance my husband and I give, and when they'll rebel against our requirements, but I do believe they understand.
And I am hopeful.
I have chuckled along with you regarding some of the comments I have received about my Mom's Off Duty Reports. Yes, I am sure part of the reason this experiment is going well has to do with the "newness" of it. Elizabeth told me she actually likes the jobs because they keep her from being "bored." (Yeah, and keeping her supplied with library books helps that problem, too. The girl has read three books in the past 36 hours!) And I am sure some of the boys' enthusiasm will wear off as time goes on. For now, though, doing laundry is fun.
But what happens when this week is over? Hmmm, I still have to come to a certain conclusion on that question. This much I know - we will not be going back to "where we were."

And for today, I know this: my house got dusted, the dishes are done, and the trash has been emptied. I am satisfied. *grin*

post signature

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mom's Off Duty - Day Two Report

Once again, I must say I have great kids.

With the list of "Tuesday Jobs" on the table, and the kids already tackling them I went out to the post office.
When I was finished there I decided it was too early for me to return home, so I called to check on the kids and let them know I was going to a park for a little while. I had brought my Bible with me, and found a nice bench in the park on which to sit and meet with God. I fully enjoyed the peace and the presence of the Holy Spirit, and as I sat there He gave me the idea to bring the kids back for a picnic lunch and play time.
So with a satisfied heart, I hopped back in the van and made my way home to find...The floors were vacuumed, (I had to supervise a few touch-ups, but that's OK!) the walls were washed, the dishwasher was emptied and re-loaded, and the counters were wiped. (No pictures today. I got entirely too frustrated with the process of posting them yesterday. Not sure if it was Blogger, my ISP, my computer, or what. But it took too long, and I'm not going to try again until I have forgotten how frustrated it made me. Ha!)

I had to take care of a few things here (No housework, mind you! *grin*) then we packed lunches and went to the park. There was a pond to visit and lots of turtles and bugs to admire. Even a frog for Joshua to catch. We really had a fun time, and I am hoping the kids will recognize (if my not-so-subtle-hints don't make it obvious enough...) how much their help around the house allows us to do more fun things, because of how it frees me up. Teamwork is such a good thing.
After the park, we went to the library and came home with plenty of good reading material. Tomorrows "chores" will include 30 minutes of quiet reading - for sure! And, I think the kids will be dusting, too. Yeah, that sounds like a good Wednesday Job for them to accomplish.

I also had them memorize Proverbs 19:20 today. Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Had to remind them of these wise words a few times throughout the day, and I am praying the wisdom within the proverb will make its way into their hearts.

My Day Two evaluation - This experiment of making the kids fully responsible for carrying out household chores for a week - is going even better than I'd hoped. I am proud of them for their work. I am humbled because part of me didn't expect them to do this well. I am hopeful for the future and how we can work together as a family unit. For those of you who have thought of trying something like this, but have been afraid to actually do it - I say, Go for it!

post signature

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mom's Off Duty - Day One Report

Last night before I went to bed I left a list on the table with the kids' house-keeping chores for today. And this morning I was up and ready to go before Elizabeth and Joshua were even awake. Matthew, however, was up and ready to go. My little eager beaver got to work right away, unloading the dishwasher.

I have been mentoring a dear friend for about a year and a half, and I spent the morning with her today. While I was at her house, I received four or five calls from the kids. They ranged from, "The dryer won't start," to, "Do we really need to wait until after lunch to turn on electronics?" to, "Joshua just kicked me in the leg really hard, for no reason." (As if having a reason would make it OK...)
Needless to say, by the time I got the last phone call, my confidence that "all was well" at home was diminishing.
I had a couple errands to run and needed to do my weekly grocery shopping before I went home. So when Amber and I were finished, I took a deep breath, hoped for the best and headed off to accomplish my tasks.
Shopping took me quite awhile today and when I finished I called home just to let the kids know I was on my way. Call it reassurance. Call it a warning. I just wanted to let them know I'd be home soon.

When I got home, I opened the door and heard Josh Groban on the stereo. (Nice touch, kids!) I stepped in and saw this:

Then I looked around and saw this:
Ladies, the house never looks this good when I'm in charge! Straightening up the family room wasn't even on the "To Do" list today.
The laundry was finished and put away. They had made lunch for themselves and cleaned up the kitchen and table.
I'm telling you, I have great kids. *very big grin*

After I was finished with my lunch, the kids asked if I would take them to Caesarland. Normally my immediate answer would have been "No." Because it wasn't raining and they should have been playing outside. And because normally I would have laundry to fold and messes to clean up.
But today, since the kids had done such a great job - since "my" work was all done - I said "yes." And besides, there was a chance of rain.
So we piled into the van and spent a couple hours at Caesarland. The kids played and I did some writing. It was great for everyone. In the end, the kids were full of hugs and "Thank You's" and I was just full of joy.

Once back at home, Joshua was eager to help me get dinner ready. Along the way he told me he kind of likes the work I'm having them do. Music to my ears! Oh, sure, there have been some complaints and bad attitudes creeping in a couple of times, but for the most part my kids have exceeded my expectations for them and this little experiment. I am delighted!

Hoping tomorrow goes as well as today.

post signature

P.S. I am also having the kids memorize a proverb each day. Today it was Proverbs 16:24, Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Hoping to teach them some wisdom along with housekeeping...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Here We Go!!!

I've made my list. (Or would that be their list?)
The kids have received a pep-talk from me.
We've gone over guidelines and expectations.
I just supervised them sorting laundry and getting a load put into the washer.

I think we're ready to get started!

You may recall, I am not "working" this week. Mom's off duty when it comes to house-work!!! And I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.
Will the kids work well together?
Will they learn a valuable lesson, or is it going to back-fire on me?
Am I going to be able to stick to my commitment to not pick up and wipe up and clean up?
Are the kids going to rise to the occasion - as I know they can - and completely amaze me with their diligence and positive attitudes?
In being responsible for keeping up the house this week, will they realize how much I do every day, and decide to take better care of their own stuff?
Or will they resent me for making them work so hard?

I truly see potential for wonderful benefits this week. I know it could foster teamwork. My kids have already had some fun doing laundry during "training" last week, and at the moment they are all running around playing tag together. I know it is not beyond God to use this week of "Mom's Off Duty" to create fun memories for my kids and strengthen their relationships. And I am praying He'll do just that.

As for me, I have finished going through my Finding Joy manuscript. I have sent it to a couple other speaker/authors to obtain their endorsement. I have made copies for the women in my small group to read and offer feedback. This process went much quicker than I had anticipated, which means my work is on hold, until I get this feedback from my friends.

Sooooo, my kids are taking care of household chores this week. My book is on hold again. This leaves me with only one question.

What am I going to do all week?????

Oh, the possibilities. I'll keep you posted! *grin*

post signature

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Irritable Mother Meets Contemplative Mom...

That's the joke we made when we "met" in the blogging world.

Ann Kroeker, author of The Contemplative Mom, also writes a blog. I had read her book and when I started blogging, I found her blog. It didn't take long for us to find the humor in our contrasting book titles and start imagining a comic strip for mommies. Ha!

As I was thinking about collecting endorsements for my new book - in which I hope the reader will find herself drawing nearer to God - it seemed appropriate to have some words from The Contemplative Mom. So I asked Ann if she would be willing to read my manuscript and give her endorsement.
This is what she had to say:

Karen Hossink, the self-proclaimed “Irritable Mother,” walks readers through her personal parenting moments, both high and low. Those moments are the vehicle through which she discovers a deeper relationship with the Lord. God has used Hossink’s own children to transform her and reveal Himself to her more fully—now, through this devotional, she passes on insights and personal revelations to the reader. Walk with her to a place of prayerful introspection and deeper faith in Jesus Christ.

Ann Kroeker, author of The Contemplative Mom, and another book on parenting to be released in 2009
I am thankful for Ann's words and hope many women will come to "a place of prayerful introspection and deeper faith in Jesus Christ" as they read Finding Joy.

I just received my manuscript back from my editor yesterday and will be spending the next several days pouring over it and incorporating more feedback. So it may be "quiet" here at Surviving Motherhood for awhile. I do have one or two other devotions which didn't make it into the book. Maybe I'll post them for you.

Until then, please remember God cherishes you!

post signature

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Hate Love PMS

I used to hear women talk about PMS and had no idea what they were talking about. I didn't understand what was the big deal. And there were guys at the business where I worked before I had kids, who complained about their wives' PMSing. They talked about it, too, like it was a major deal which one should avoid at all costs.
And I continued in my bewilderment. Not "getting it." Not understanding why those three little letters incited such fear in the hearts of my co-workers. Wondering if everyone was making something out of nothing.
A few years ago, something happened in this body of mine and the reality of these horror stories was suddenly very clear to me. And I was agreeing PMS is something which a person may very well want to avoid at all costs.
The hormone roller coaster rides and resulting mood swings make me feel like a totally different person. And I don't like her.

Last night I could almost hear the click, click, click of cars climbing the first hill of the roller coaster.
Stupid little things were annoying me.
Noises which weren't really that loud were driving me to the edge.
Normal, imperfect behavior from my children was angering me.
Thoughts of running far, far away were appealing.

Click. Click. Click.

I listened to my husband playing a game with my daughter in the other room and started thinking things like, If I were a really good mom, I would be in there playing that game and laughing like they are. I'm no good.
Fortunately the Holy Spirit reminded me that statement was a lie. Even with the Truth, however, I was still feeling rotten. And my crabby mood remained through the rest of the night.
When I finally made it to bed, I just laid there and prayed. I was telling God exactly how I felt (As if He didn't already know...) and I was asking Him to hold me and love me as I slept. I was sure of my disdain for myself and my mood, but somehow I was more sure of God's love for me and my desperate need for Him. I fell asleep talking to Him, and I am confident Jesus wrapped His arms around me and held me in His love as I slept.
And I did feel better when I awoke this morning.

But as the morning hours faded and the day wore on, the indicators of PMS became more pronounced. I got to the point when talking to my boys (about something I would be able to handle on a "normal" day) that I couldn't get a word out without tears escaping as well.
Joshua asked, "Mom, are you crying?"
I just said, "Honey, do you remember what I told you about girls and their hormones, and how sometimes they cry at simple things?"
He nodded.
"That's what is happening with me right now. It's OK. Ignore the tears, but please listen to the words."
Joshua seemed to understand, and Matthew just hugged me. I finished what I needed to say then went into my room and just cried some more.

I feel so pathetic putting this event into words. I've already had second and third thoughts about publishing this post. But God has put it on my heart to write this, so - trusting there is someone who needs to read it - I will click on "publish" in a few minutes.

Back to me crying in my bathroom...I did a little Pull-it-together-Karen pep talk and determined to move on with my day. Don't know why it is but usually after I have myself a good cry life seems a little easier to manage, and I can face the rest of the day with greater confidence. Maybe excess hormones are released through my tear ducts? LOL
So it was today. I am feeling much better now.

In the midst of the emotional and hormonal mess of this thing called PMS, I know God was still loving me. And that amazes me.
I was reading a blog post recently about blessings disguised as curses - how sometimes the things which seem just awful to us end up being a tremendous source of God's love and blessing. And as I reflect on my monthly hormone surge, I am learning to see there is blessing in it.
Almost every month I have a hands-on, in-your-face illustration of God's unconditional, un-ending, ever-present love for me.
For a period of 24-48 hours - when I can barely stand to be with myself - God reminds me of my desperate need and desire for Him. He loves me when I feel utterly un-lovable. And He holds me tenderly when, quite honestly, I don't want anyone else to touch me.
How God's love could be so deep and His patience so strong is completely beyond me. But it has brought me to the point of being able to be thankful for this thing called PMS.
Because when I am weak, He is strong.

post signature

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Do You Do All Day?

Have you seen this story? It has been passed around from inbox to inbox for a couple of years now.
I love it.
Makes me laugh every time I read it!

What Do You Do All Day?
A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.
Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall.
In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.
In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.
He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.
As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.
He looked at her bewildered and asked, "What happened here today?"
She again smiled and answered, "You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?"
"Yes," was his incredulous reply.
She answered, "Well, today I didn't do it."
Can you relate to the mother in this story? I certainly can! Some days I feel as if the only thing I do is clean up other people's (read: my children's) messes, put away their things, throw away their wrappers, take care of their stuff.
I know - I'm the mom. To some extent I know this is my "job" and I want to serve my family with a glad heart. But I also know my kids are able to take care of their own "stuff" and they can pitch in and help out more than they do. I do want to serve them with a glad heart, but when my glad-ness is so challenged by the I-deserve-your-service-attitude I have gotten too often, I know something has got to change.
One day, somewhere between sweeping up crumbs and tripping over shoes, I decided there was going to come a time when my kids realize how much I do around here, and they were going to learn the importance of helping me out. But I didn't want to wait for the "someday" when they have families of their own and they begin to understand in retrospect. I wanted them to understand sooner, rather than later, so I decided I was going to quit. For awhile.
But I wouldn't do it while school was in session. I didn't want to disrupt their lives too much, and I thought my little object lesson would be much more effective if they were home all day.

Well, school's out. Hee hee hee!

So, my friends, next week - as in, the week of June 23 - I am taking myself off duty. I am not doing laundry. I will not sweep the floor. No one will catch me picking up wrappers and putting them in the garbage. I won't be loading the dishwasher or putting away cereal boxes. No wiping of counters, no hanging of towels, no picking up dirty socks.
Oh, I will take care of my things. I will rinse my own dishes and put them in the dishwasher, and I'll wipe up anything I spill. And dinner? Yeah, I think I'll still cook - I'm not that mean!
But as for everything else I do all day, i.e. the things my kids seem to not even realize I do, and really should be doing themselves - it's going to be all up to them!
I have been working on getting them to take care of their things, but there is still so much they seem to take for granted. My hope is this lesson of mine will truly help open their eyes and aid in making us a family who pitches in and works together peacefully and compassionately.
I'll spend this week preparing them for next week.(I've already told them it's coming.) I'll give them more lessons on doing laundry and I'll make lists of the little things I do all day for their reference. Not that I expect the kids to do it all, but I'll be hopeful.

And by the end of next week, whatever the condition of the house and the kids, I hope they will have learned the value of taking care of their things and messes right away. Maybe they'll appreciate dear ol' Mom a little more. Perhaps they will even decide to help when they see a need - without even being asked.
Yeah, I may be a dreamer. But I do have great kids. I know they are capable of rising to the challenge.
I can't wait to see what happens!

And I will keep you posted. (Pun intended! *grin*)


Friday, June 13, 2008

My Sneaky Resourceful Kids

OK. I've told you about my kids' love for Webkinz, right? Between the three of them, I think they have nine of the little critters. And, boy, do they have nice houses and play-things for their little friends in Webkinz World. They have fun doing their Daily Kinz Care, sending virtual presents to their Kinz friends, and playing games to earn more KinzCash - with which to buy, care for, and send all these wonderful virtual "things."
If I would let them, I bet my kids would spend most of their waking hours in front of the computer, playing in WebKinz World.
But I won't.
We have limits.
So what's a kid to do? If you have an unreasonable a concerned parent who won't let you spend hours a day in front of the computer, how are you supposed to have enough time to do your Daily Kinz Care, spin the Wheel of Wow, buy treats for your pet, play with your pet, send gifts to your friends and cousins, go to the employment office to earn KinzCash, and play games to earn more KinzCash? How can one possibly do all that in half an hour???
My sneaky resourceful kids have found the answer.

Play on your parents' weaknesses and work them to your advantage!

You see, I love word games and there is a really fun one in WebKinz World. And I'm really good at it. So my kids have started asking me if I want to "play that game [I] like" for them. They log me on to their account and get me to the game, and I earn them hundreds of dollars in KinzCash. And it doesn't count toward "their" computer time!
It made me laugh last night when Joshua came over to check on me just as I came up with a word that was worth a lot of points. He looked at me and said, "Wow, Mom. You're really good." That's right, Baby. Don't forget it!
This whole thing about me playing the game for them was fine. I thought it was cute. But then I saw my kids working the system to their advantage even more. One of them discovered there's a Solitaire game in Webkinz World, too, which you can play to earn KinzCash.
And guess who has a Solitaire affection?
So last night when Joshua got me set up with my word game, Elizabeth said, "Hey, Daddy, do you want to play Solitaire for me to get KinzCash?" Of course, he obliged.
And there we sat, working away on the computers, earning KinzCash for our kids, impressing them with our word making/card playing skills, listening to their squeals of delight as they watched the "money" roll in, and all without taking away any of their computer time.

Sneaky Resourceful kids!

post signature

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Call Me Crazy!

Six months ago my daughter came home with a sign on her shirt which said, "I want a rat." Do you remember that event?
Some of you thought I was crazy for getting her said pet. But I did it anyway, and I was glad to delight her heart so much.

Then the little critters started growing on me. I got over the fact that they're rats (Elizabeth always comes to their defense. "They aren't sewer rats. They're domesticated!") I held them and admitted that I think they're kinda cute.
And some of you continued to think I'm crazy.

Well, I've gone and done it again!
Elizabeth decided she wanted to have a party for her rats to celebrate their birthday. We really have no idea the actual date of their birth, but choosing to have a party for them on the last day of school seemed good to Elizabeth, so she declared June 11 as their birthday.
She went to the pet store and bought them a present and she visited her favorite "rat website" to find out what she could give them for a birthday treat. Elizabeth then asked me if I would buy a low-fat muffin she could give the rats as their "birthday cake."
I thought about it for about ten seconds awhile and told her I didn't think the grocery store sold individual muffins - and if they did, I doubted they would be low-fat. But I said I would make muffins for her. So my industrious young lady got online and found a recipe for low-fat muffins which had no dairy in them. (Dairy is a no-no for rats.) And last night I baked "birthday cake" for the rats.
(Of course, the rats only got one of them. The rest are for dinner. When Brian heard what I was doing he said, "You're going to feed us rat food???" "No, Silly! The rats are eating people food!")

So, with all the preparations made - today, we partied!
Joshua's friend also has pet rats and they were invited over for a "play date." Seriously, that's what Elizabeth called it - a rat play date.
They all shared one muffin. There were really four rats, but they wouldn't all get around the muffin at the same time.
Then it was time to open presents. This part was particularly funny to me. Somehow the kids thought the rats would understand what was going on and would "know how" to open their present. They tried to entice them by putting the cake on top, but that didn't work, either.
In the end, the kids wound up opening the toy for the rats - which is how birthdays usually work around here anyway. You know - excited kids, opening each other's presents. The rats went back to playing and enjoying "cake."

So, there you have it. Today I was a willing participant in a birthday party for rats. Call me crazy if you must, but we had a good time. *grin*


Monday, June 09, 2008

She Held My Hand

My daughter has two days left in the sixth grade. She turned twelve years old two months ago. She's almost a teenager.
Many people have said something to me like, "Yeah, Karen, you may think girls are easy now. But wait until she's a teen!" Part of me - thinking back to what I was like when I was a teen - has considered their threats words of warning, and contemplated finding a nice closet in which to lock her up until she passes adolescence.
Then I have experiences with Elizabeth like the ones over the past few days, and I think, Ahhh, this is sweet. These years aren't going to be so scary!
Sure, she's a little weird sometimes. She skips around the house, flopping her arms around, making strange noises, and I look at her wondering, Where did she come from??!!
Other times my dear daughter will start crying at the stupidest most insignificant little thing and I am reminded her hormones are working overtime, and things may start getting crazy around here soon.

But when my fear starts setting in, I will choose to remember her holding my hand.

Friday night Brian and the boys were gone, so Elizabeth and I went to Subway to split a $5 footlong. As we got out of the van and were walking into the store, she reached out and held my hand. And what really happened is she was holding my heart.
After we came home and ate, we watched a movie together. And my nearly-teenage daughter cuddled up with me on the couch and shared her Whoppers with me.

Sunday we were at my mother-in-law's church and Elizabeth didn't want to go to the junior high group, so she sat with us during the service. And when we were walking out, she reached over and held my hand again.

Today I was a chaperon for the sixth grade field trip to the YMCA. The first thing Elizabeth said to me this morning was, "Mom, will you do everything with me today?" I told her I would probably have other responsibilities but I would do my best to spend time with her, and she seemed OK with that answer.
I knew she was happy to have me attending the field trip, but I did wonder how she would relate to me in the presence of her friends.
She was just as sweet.
When I was released from my exchange-shoes-for-skates duty, I donned a pair of roller skates and joined Elizabeth in the rink. And, sure enough, she held my hand again. Because she loves me, or to keep me from falling, I am not sure.

But she held my hand in front of all her friends and classmates.

And many times walking through the Y, she came up behind me, slipped her arm through mine, and walked along beside me.

Yes. My daughter is almost a teenager. She acts rather strange at times, and tends toward being over-emotional other times.
But I will not fear the years ahead. I will not dread her journey through adolescence.

Because she is still willing to hold my hand.

post signature

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

He's in the Details and Right On Time

I absolutely love it when God shows off!

This morning I had just come in the door from walking to the bus stop when the phone rang. It was my husband, wanting me to look for something in his files downstairs. So I went, and I looked, and it wasn't there.
I took out a different folder and I looked in it, and it wasn't there either. So I looked in the first folder again, but it still wasn't there. And my hubby was a bit concerned. He really needed this paper.
Then I put him on the speakerphone so I could use both hands to make the searching go a little faster, and I wondered how long this was going to take - because I had things I needed and wanted to do this morning (Like reading my Bible before going off to do my other stuff. I really wanted to get to that.) and looking through a pile of folders was
Hubby wondered if he should just come home and look for himself (Great idea! I think, hoping he doesn't hear my exasperated sigh - knowing I should really just put my stuff aside and look for him.)
So I took out another folder - a big, thick one - which wasn't labeled correctly, but was near where the papers should have been, and I started going through it.
I was sort of leafing through, sort of skimming, sort of grumbling, sort of praying, sort of trying to do a thorough search in spite of my desire to be elsewhere - so as not to be wasting my time, sort of trying to sound like I was happy to be serving my dear husband in this way, completely aware my attitude needed an adjustment.
Then I realized I had forgotten the names I was looking for on these papers and I asked Brian to remind me. And I am not kidding you when I tell you this is exactly how it happened: Brian told me the names, I flipped over a paper, and there was the lease he needed.
My face turned into a huge smile and I simply said, "Do you know God loves you? Here it is. I found it!"

I know there are some who would call it all a coincidence. They would say it was purely chance that the lease had been filed wrong in the first place, and that I just "happened" to pick up the right folder with the wrong label. Some would say it was a fluke for Brian and I to be talking so long that I forgot the names for which I was looking, and simply luck that he told me the names immediately before I found the lease.

Yes. I know. Some would call it all a twist of fate.

But I say it was God showing off. Flexing His muscles. Reminding me He is in the details and right on time.
In this simple act of hiding a lease and bringing it forth, God reminded me He is Lord of everything - the big and the small. It was as if He were saying to me this morning, Sweetheart, I have a little something I want you to do before we have our quiet time together. I want you to let Brian interrupt your plans. I want you to put his needs before your own. Don't worry. I want to spend that time with you, too - I'll protect it - but I want to show you something first.
I want you to search for something. And when you think you cannot find it, and you're letting yourself become anxious, and you're focusing on circumstances rather than Me, I'm going to give you a glimpse of My power. I'm going to remind you that I will always come through for you because I love you. I'm going to show you again that you can trust Me.
And then, dear one, when your heart is set on loving Me - not on keeping to your schedule - I want you to come back upstairs and allow Me to love you through My Word.

Maybe you think I'm over-spiritualizing a misplaced lease, but I'm telling you - That's the message God spoke to my heart this morning.

And I love Him so much!!!

post signature

Monday, June 02, 2008

Where He Met Me

Have you ever met Heather from Desperately Seeking Sanity? The title of her blog alone should be enough to get you to pay her a visit. She is a precious woman and I simply love her. Last week she shared her faith story in four posts (which is well worth reading!) and has now opened the door for other bloggers to share about a time when God met them. So today I am excited to share with you about a time God met me.

In this particular instance, the location for me under the You are here arrow would have read, "Atlanta, Georgia." Specifically, the airport in Atlanta on May 11, 2008.
I already told you about this adventure here
and here. But at the time of my re-telling of the story, I didn't realize there was still more God had to show me.

More meeting we needed to do over the subject.

As you may recall, a large part of the time I was sitting in that airport in Atlanta I was reading through voraciously consuming my Bible. For nearly five hours I studied Psalms 22 and 77 (Among other things - but those two Psalms were my focus that day.) and I was thoroughly enjoying the time God and I spent together. At one time I wondered if the whole point of my delay was so that God and I could have this uninterrupted time together. Quoting my post about the event, I wondered:

Was this simply a gift to me, Lord? Time You set aside for me with nothing but You and my Bible? In an airport? A little odd, but, OK - if that's how You want it. A retreat center might be nice next time. If You're looking for suggestions, that is.
I really did wonder if the day was a gift to me. But when I met Mick and learned about his son, and talked with him and prayed for him, I believed I learned the real reason God had me delayed in coming home. I believed He wanted to use me in Mick's life.

I still believe it was God's desire to use me in that way.

But I have realized there was so much more to it.

A couple weeks after my Southern Adventure I was meeting with my mentor, and told her all about it. And this is when God opened my eyes to the Truth of the situation.
Jenni asked me if I thought it possible that day alone in the airport was a gift from God? An opportunity for Him to love on me? She asked - if I hadn't met Mick - is it possible God would have been delighted to simply spend time with me?
The thought was almost too much for me, but I knew she was leading me in the Truth. Though I, myself, had wondered if the day was a gift to me - when I met Mick I thought, OK. Now it all makes sense! I hadn't put it into these words before, but when Jenni and I were talking I realized what I had assumed. I thought - Somehow it would delight God's heart more if He was using me to minister to someone, than if He was just spending time with me.

But as Jenni and I talked that day, it was as if God were saying to me, Karen, if I hadn't wheeled Mick over to that seat next to you, if you hadn't met him and prayed for him, if the only thing significant which happened that day was the time you spent with Me in gate C11, My heart would be just as delighted. I love spending time with just you. I love it!

On May 11, 2008, God stranded met me at the airport in Atlanta, Georgia just to show me that it delights His heart to spend time with me.

It delights Him!!!

And I am not on an ego trip, Friends. Because I know it is just as true that God's heart is delighted every time He gets to be with you, too. In fact, this whole adventure and the Truth of delighting God's heart with our presence is going to be the subject of a new talk I intend to write this summer. (Actually, God's already writing it on my heart. I just plan to type it out this summer...) This one won't be a "MOPS talk" but I trust if God has put it on my heart, He will also lead me to the group of women with whom He wants me to share it.

So that's my story of where God met me. I pray you are blessed as you consider the Truth that God delights being with you, too!

post signature