God's agenda is best.
Last week at work I got caught up in my agenda, and forgot that God may have something else in mind.
We were having a brownie sundae fundraiser for the local food bank and I was busy serving sundaes to the residents. I had a volunteer helping me, and a couple of staff members were around, too. But by the time the event was over everyone had 'disappeared' and I was left alone to put things away and clean up.
I went about my business wondering why this thing - which wasn't even my idea to begin with - ended up being 'my job'. To say I had a grumbling spirit would be a fair evaluation. It was time for me to go home, and I just wanted to be on my way.
But there was 'this' which needed to be wiped.
And 'that' needed replacing.
Not to mention 'the other thing' which had to be put away.
But - finally - everything was finished, and I was ready to leave.
On my way out, I saw C - another one of my favorite residents. (How many favorites can you have before 'favorite' loses its meaning???) She looked upset so I asked if she was OK.
She wasn't. And she told me why. It was a situation I was able to help resolve and we took care of it quickly. Honestly, the thing she needed me to do wasn't a big deal to me - but it meant the world to her. And I was so glad I could help.
As I walked out of the building I reminded C that I love her, and I was glad to help. She smiled her sweet smile, and my heart was delighted.
It was while I was driving home that I realized the timing thing. If I hadn't been delayed with cleaning up things from the fundraiser, I would have left Edgewood before C's circumstance arose. In my rush to be finished, I would have missed the opportunity to serve her.
How many times has my haste stolen the chance to be a blessing???
At that point, I became confident it wasn't my co-workers who abandoned me to do the work by myself. It was God who was slowing me down so I could love on C.
Mmmm. I LOVE it when He steps in and overrides my agenda.
Because God's agenda is best.
P.S. I'll be taking a blogging break until the new year. Will be back January 3. Wishing you a very merry CHRISTmas!
Friday, December 17, 2010
God's agenda is best.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Will you be gathering together with family and friends over the next couple of weeks to celebrate Christmas and New Years?
Then I know a game you must try!
I don't know what it's called, but I can tell you all about it. Some friends in my small group introduced it to us recently, and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. *grin*
Here's what you need:
Gather everyone in a circle and give each person a stack of paper with as many sheets as there are people in the group. The bigger the group, the better! (Needs to be an even number of people, by the way. Though you could make adjustments to work with an odd number...)
To begin, everyone writes two words on the top sheet of paper. A descriptive word (adjective or -ing verb) and a noun. eg. 'crooked finger' or 'crying baby'
Then everyone passes the stack of paper to their right. After reading the two words, everyone puts that paper at the back of their stack and draws a picture corresponding to the words. Pass the stack to the right again, and now everyone looks at the picture, puts the paper at the back of the stack and writes two words that describe the picture they just saw. Pass to the right again, and now everyone draws a picture of the 'new' two words. Keep going - alternating between writing words and drawing pictures - until you've made it all the way around once.
Then the fun really begins. *wink*
Gather the circle in closer and go through each stack, laughing at the progression of words and pictures. It is hilarious to see how the pictures are interpreted and the original words morph.
We did this with all adults in my small group, but will include the kids at Christmas gatherings. I may be looking forward to this game more than I am to the presents. LOL
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) and everyone went to his own town to register.There is one verse in this passage which strikes me as a bit odd. I wonder if you feel the same way?
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Verse 6: "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born."
The time 'came'?
As I read this story, I thought about the fact that God set this whole plan in motion. When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, God knew when the time would come for the baby to be born. He knew at that time Mary would be in Bethlehem – far away from home, and family, and all things familiar. And I couldn't help but wonder, God? What were You thinking? Couldn't You have adjusted Your timing just a bit so things would have worked out better? How could You – God Almighty – have messed up on the timing of Your Son's birth???
But God is gracious and patient with me, and He helped me understand. God had promised the Savior would come from Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2). He chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus' parents, but they lived in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. However, God knew they would be traveling to Bethlehem to register for the census. And He caused Mary to become pregnant with Jesus at just the right time – so that when they were in Bethlehem for the census, the time would come for the Baby to be born.
God worked out the details and timed everything – perfectly.
Have you ever wondered if God may have messed up the timing in your life? Perhaps you're struggling with that feeling right now. May I suggest to you that there has never been (and never will be) a time in our lives when God is surprised by our circumstance and doesn't know what to do? God knew where Mary and Joseph would be when the time came for the baby to be born, and He worked the timing out perfectly for them. He will do the same for you.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I remember many, many nights saying goodnight to my children when they would beg for one more song. When they just didn't seem to want me to leave their bedroom. And I was eager to make my exit.
Yes. There were many nights like that.
Although we still 'do' bedtime, recently my almost-13-year-old has opted for his favorite radio station over the song I usually sing. And I have to admit - that has been a hard pill to swallow.
Last night Brian and I were at a Christmas party, and the kids were (supposed to be) in bed when we got home. But since they weren't
really in bed asleep when we arrived, each of them wanted me to 'say goodnight' to them. I was a little delayed in getting to Joshua, and he checked on me a couple times to be sure I was coming. I thought his persistence was sweet. *grin*
Yet when I got into his room he said, "You don't have to sing to me if you don't want to."
I replied, "Oh, I'll sing."
So I sang.
And I rubbed Joshua's hair, because I know he loves that.
And I prayed for him while I sang.
And for just a minute it was as if my little boy isn't on the brink of becoming a teenager.
Then the song came to an end, and so did the moment.
But I will treasure it in my heart.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
There is always HOPE.
One of my favorite residents (OK, I know I'm not supposed to have 'favorites'. But if I did, well, D would be one of them. *wink*) has fallen a few times and ended up in the hospital a couple weeks ago - with some broken ribs. I visited him in the hospital a few times, and he wasn't looking good. One day I couldn't understand anything he said, and I had a feeling his life was coming to an end.
But the next time I visited, he looked so much better!
And yesterday he left the hospital and moved to re-hab.
Today I went to visit again, and was pleased to see how well he's doing. Oh, there is still a long way to go. But he seems to be a long way from where he was.
And God is using this situation to remind me that I need to not give up hope. Even when a circumstance looks grim to me (or you!), it is not too difficult for God to handle. While I know not every situation is going to end up 'happy', God is reminding me to keep trusting in Him. Because there is always HOPE.
And HOPE is what I pray D will embrace. I have been talking to him about God's love for us through Jesus. He says he doesn't believe God could love him, but I pray God will make me an instrument to communicate His love to this precious man. Because - even in death - if we know Jesus, there is always HOPE.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
This is the verse I have been memorizing, and on which I have been meditating since the first of this month. And as I think about God knowing my heart, and my anxious thoughts - understanding them and knowing how to handle them - I become even more amazed by our great God.
Friends, I do not understand my heart. In recent days it has been baffling me. But I'm asking God to search me and know me. I've spent quite a bit of time in this psalm thinking about how intimately He does know me, and I am convinced I can trust Him to...Well, I'll get to that in the next verse. For today I am simply asking God to search me and know me. And I'm resting in the promise that He will.
For what are you asking God today?
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Some of you who have been with me for a while (Make that, a few years! *grin*) may remember my friend, Renee, and her daughter Allie. Allie has a condition called ITP - OK, it's called something much longer and more confusing than ITP. But I only know the initials. - which means she is constantly in danger of bleeding. Two years ago Renee had a dream for building an adaptive playground which would be safer for children like Allie to enjoy - but that's an expensive dream.
Another friend helped with the cause by producing a Dream Calendar - featuring the photographs of children who would benefit from such a play ground. And she's done it again. The 2011 Dream Calendar is available now! And all the proceeds are going to fund that play ground.
You can click here to see some of the amazing photos which will be in the calendar, and to order your own. (I ordered mine yesterday!)
Can't wait to see this dream come true!
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Sunday in church our worship leader took a moment to speak about marriage. He then had all the married couples sit down, as he asked everyone standing around them to lay hands on them and pray. While I was seated there next to Brian, I heard Matthew say, "Hey! Look what time it is!"
You guessed. It was 11:11.
(For those of you who are not familiar with the significance of 1111, this post will give you the background. If you click on 1111 in the labels for this post, you can read more about it. *grin*)
Monday, December 06, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Acknowledge the negative, but dwell on the positive.
This lesson doesn't really need any explanation, does it?
Even so, because I am a writer and story-teller, it's nearly impossible for me to let anything go without an explanation. *sheepish grin*
I was having a difficult day(s) this week at work. (My emotions/hormones have been playing crazy games with me lately and I am finding myself more prone to tears than usual.) Anyway - in the midst of that 'stuff' I was busy trying to get things done at work, when a resident told me I'd forgotten to include her in the birthday list in the December newsletter. She seemed hurt, and I felt terrible. And I began grumbling to myself about how I could have missed her name.
There were other things besides the newsletter, and I was sinking deeper and deeper.
Then I thought, Wait a minute! Am I not getting anything right? True, I missed one birthday, but what about everything else on those six pages that is as it should be? Doesn't that count for anything???
Honestly, I started making a list in my head of all the things I did right. Because I felt so rotten when I focused on what was wrong.
Then I had a mom moment. I realized I am much too quick to point out the things my children have done wrong - or simply haven't done - without giving much attention to the things they've done well.
And that needs to change!
So I am taking this Lesson From the Edge, and I am bringing it home. I will continue to correct the wrong behavior, but I want to be sure to build my children up by dwelling on the things they're doing right!
Thursday, December 02, 2010
...because I keep biting it.
Sometimes, it is because of my tendency to act like a child. Because I am quickly drawn to the desire to start responding with my words the same way my almost-teenager talks to me.
Other times, it's because I really am trying to choose my words wisely, and I am finding that it may be better to simply say nothing.
Either way, I often bite my tongue to keep myself from speaking to a certain person in my home and - while my tongue hurts - I am hoping this will ultimately be a good thing.
OK, I just re-read that statement and realize it may sound really wrong. I am not NOT talking to Joshua. Just trying to avoid talking which will not be helpful.
For example, yesterday I had left a note for Joshua to finish unloading the dishwasher when he got home from school, before he did anything else. (i.e. getting on the computer, or other electronic device) When I walked in the door after work Joshua was, indeed, putting the dishes away. However, I was quite certain the thing which motivated him to get to work was the sound of the garage door going up, and the knowledge that I would soon be walking through the door. I knew what time he would have gotten home from school, and a quick estimation of how much time it would have taken him to do the job told me he had not gotten to it right away as I'd asked.
My first inclination was to call him on it, and ask why he hadn't done his chores first. (Wouldn't you hate to be my kid???) But I realized that approach would only lead to a fight. And that's the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid. Needless arguments. Besides, the job was getting done.
So I promptly bit my tongue. And do you know what happened?
The dishes got put away, and Joshua and I didn't argue with each other.
Yes. I'd say this is a better way to go.
I recently read somewhere (Wish I could remember where - but I can't...) that we teach our children our expectations when they are young by talking to them. This person said by the time our children are teens, they pretty much know what they're supposed to do and we would be wise to be quiet more often.
This view point resonated with me as I considered how frequently I hear, "Mom. I KNOW!" Which is usually followed by something like, "Then why don't you do it..." and things just don't go well from there.
So, while I am not taking a vow of silence, I am committing to bite my tongue when necessary - for the purpose of pursuing a peaceful relationship with my almost teen(s).
If anyone knows of a less painful way to go about this mission, I'd love to hear about it! *wink*
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Do you like my Christmas decorations???
Edie made them for me last year and I just pulled them out and 'hung them up'. How easy it was!
I happen to know Edie has more decorations available. Feel free to visit her if you'd like to dress your place up a bit for the holidays.
Now, if only decorating my house was as easy as copying and pasting HTML codes....
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If you've been reading here for any amount of time, I'm sure you're aware of my angst regarding the ADD and ADHD in the air. Oh, how frustrated I get when my boys forget simple things - over and over, again. When they are easily distracted and leave basic chores and obvious jobs undone. *heavy sigh*
Well, the other night I had to, how do you say it? Eat humble pie. (I prefer apple or pumpkin, but it wasn't available yet!)
It was time to go to bed, but I had to pay a bill first. So I sat down and wrote out the check. Then I realized I needed to get an envelope so I could put it in the mail the next day. And I went downstairs to get the envelope.
As I turned the basement light on, I saw the piles of laundry and remembered, Oh, yeah! I need to get the laundry started. So I immediately began sorting the clothes and put a load in the washer.
Coming out of the laundry room, I saw one of my shirts on the ironing board and - realizing I wanted to wear it to work the next day - I decided to go ahead and iron it. That job took only a minute, and then I went back upstairs.
Upon returning to the kitchen, I saw the bill sitting on the table - the one for which I needed an envelope - and I thought, Oh, yeah! The reason I went downstairs was because I needed an envelope!
So, I turned around and marched back downstairs to get that envelope, muttering to myself about how easily distracted - and prone to forgetfulness - I can be sometimes. And I get frustrated with my boys???
What can I say?
They come by it honestly.
***After all this happened, of course I had to sit down and blog about it. Then - since the washer had stopped - I put the clothes in the dryer, and then I finally made my way to bed.
Sheesh! I may be more distract-able than my boys. *sheepish grin*
Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Have you ever been talking to someone, sharing from the wealth of wisdom you’ve accumulated over your life, and realized God may be speaking directly to … YOU? That’s what happened to me over Labor Day weekend.
To read the rest, click here!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Last week Brian took Joshua hunting.
It was Joshua's first time out, and he was thrilled.
They got a new gun - and it is very cool! They bought boots and gloves, and found the bright orange gear, too. A few weeks ago they bought a grunt call. (I think that's what you call it. The little tube-thing that makes sounds like a deer. Joshua has been practicing. A LOT!) It has been a very exciting time for him, and I have enjoyed watching his anticipation.
He'll be thirteen in less than two months, and Brian keeps talking about calling him into manhood. Guess that's part of what this hunting expedition was all about. Father and son - out together, doing manly things.
But I discovered something during the hunt. While Joshua was 'becoming a man,' I found myself becoming more like a child.
It's like this:
They got up super early to hunt Monday morning, and were going to go out again in the afternoon. I knew Joshua would be tired when he got home - that he would just want to eat some dinner and go to bed. So Monday morning I emptied the dishwasher for him before I went to work.
When I got home from work, the guys had already left for the afternoon hunt. They had also left the kitchen a mess from lunch. I knew they were probably in a rush to eat and get Joshua to school, so I figured I'd clean it up later.
I changed my clothes quickly and went to the store to get groceries.
After I got home and put the groceries away, I started making dinner. Which, of course, meant cleaning up the kitchen first. And in the course of cleaning and preparing, I discovered the trash was in desperate need of emptying. But that's Joshua's job!
I was tired and rushed, and quickly growing weary of 'picking up after' and 'doing for' my young hunter. I packed and crammed the garbage into it's container. Because I was NOT going to do that chore for Joshua, too!
I started to think about the times when I go away for one reason, or another. No one does my chores when I'm gone. Oh, no! The jobs remain undone until I get home to take care of them. I always get to come home to a pile of 'stuff' to do. Always!
Why should it be any different for anyone else? Why, I shouldn't have even unloaded the dishwasher this morning! No way I'm going to empty the trash, too. No way!
And there - pushing more trash into the container, trrryyying to make it fit - God gave me pause to recognize how childish I was being.
So I took out the bag, tied it up, and put it in the garbage bin.
Hoping that's where my childish attitude will stay, too.
I'm not the only adult who acts like a child sometimes, am I?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I cannot base my self-worth on the words and opinions of others.
I work with some delightful people. There are residents at Edgewood who brighten my day with their smiles and kind words. They thank me for driving them to WalMart. They tell me how much they enjoyed exercise class and thank me for leading it. After Pizza Night or a birthday party, they'll tell me how nice it was and how much they enjoyed themselves. And I leave those encounters feeling uplifted and appreciated. I feel good. Feel like I've made a difference - and I matter.
There is another type of person at Edgewood, as well. This would be the type of person who speaks whatever is on their mind, without thought as to how it may come across to the listener. The type of person who has forgotten what 'tact' is and, therefore, doesn't us it. This person communicates what they don't like, and they aren't shy about saying that you did X, Y, or Z 'wrong'.
I leave those encounters feeling down and taken for granted. I feel sad. Feel like they don't care that I've tried - and like nothing I do matters.
One day this week - when I was feeling rather dizzy from going up and down so frequently - I realized I was placing too much value on the words and opinions of others. Way too much. While I appreciate their kindnesses, and while I want to hear critiques so I can learn and improve, I recognize that my worth comes from Christ, alone.
Jesus is my life, my hope, my joy. HE gives meaning and purpose to my life. HE speaks Truth and affirmation over me. HE is the Lover of my soul. The only thing that really matters is who HE says I am.
And HE? Says I am beloved, precious, forgiven, redeemed, beautiful, cherished...
Besides that, I know what Jesus says about me is not based upon my actions, or anyone's opinion. It's all about Him. His love, His grace, His mercy, His blood which covers me.
I will base my self-worth on Christ, alone.
Have you been placing too much value on the words and opinions of others?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I don't know about you, but one of my greatest desires for my children is that they would live better lives than I did when I was young.
Though I grew up going to church, I didn't begin a relationship with God until I was in college. Now, I see the opportunities my children have to grow in the LORD, to know Him, to grow in godliness, and I just want for them to seek Him.
When I think about the priorities I had as a teenager (read that: BOYS! Often at the expense of other relationships.) and the focus I had on trying to fit in - to be like everyone else - I want so much more for my children. I want them to have confidence in who they are in Christ. I want them to pursue the things of God. I want them to value the eternal, not the temporal.
And I wrack my brain trying to orchestrate ways for all that to happen.
I want to say the right things, provide the right opportunities, shield the wrong things, and demonstrate a life surrendered to God.
I just don't want my kids to make the same
mistakes stupid decisions I did when I was their age.
But as I was thinking about this desire recently, it occurred to me that I can't save my children. And, in fact, I don't even need to. Jesus has already done it!
God's grace was big enough to capture me in spite of my foolishness. His love for me was stronger than my sense of independence. And He will be the same with my children.
That does not mean for a single minute that I am going to stop leading and teaching and guiding. Oh, no! It does mean, however, that I am going stop thinking I have control over my children's eternity. Oh, I will continue to pray for them - that they may make "good" decisions and walk closely with the LORD. But God is leading me to understand that He might allow my children to wander, and He is able to use anything they encounter for their ultimate good - and His glory.
*Whew!* God is really dealing with me on my control issues lately.
I'm so glad I can trust His perfect control!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Through a series of recent conversations and email exchanges, I have come to understand something about myself. I have realized why I liked math when I was in school.
Because in math, there is a certainty and a formula for everything.
Two plus two is always four. Always!
You can always figure out the area of a surface by multiplying the base and the height.
And if you know the value of x, you can always figure out the value of y. Just plug it into the formula and work it out!
Math is so predictable, and if you just understand the formula - you can make it through anything!
I like formulas.
Predictability and certainty make me happy.
I feel comfortable knowing if I just do 'this', 'that' will happen.
It's the control freak in me!
And what I have realized recently is that I am longing for a parenting formula. I want raising my children to be just as certain and just as predictable as Algebra and Geometry. I want the assurance that if I limit computer time to X minutes per day, require Y showers each week, assign Z chores every day, and read the Bible and pray with them every night, my children are going to become God-loving, God-fearing, servant-hearted, other-centered, highly-motivated, self-controlled adults.
But do you know what that line of thinking made me realize?
What I'm really saying is I want control. I don't want to leave room for faith. I want to trust my actions, rather than God's sovereignty.
*Gulp* Am I stepping on any toes?
I think you know the conclusion, don't you?
There is no formula.
I will impose limits for the good of my children. I will look after their cleanliness and well-being. I will train them in responsibility. I will teach them about God.
But the end result is in HIS hands.
There is no formula. God is in control. Our job is to be faithful.
I may have plugged this before, but I'll do it again. There was a wonderful article in the January 2010 issue of Christianity Today, called The Myth of the Perfect Parent. It really helped me in my thinking on this subject. I think you'll like it!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Last week when I got home from work one afternoon, I was met at the door by two very anxious children - both of whom had something they wanted to share with me. Now.
Elizabeth was ready with her item, but Joshua had to do some preparation.
So, Elizabeth went first.
She began to read a story to me. The descriptions were amazing, and the storyline captivating. As I stood there listening, I could not help but be very impressed with the exceptional writing. And, although I was sure of the answer, (because she was reading off of the computer) I asked, "Did you write that?"
With a great big smile on her face, Elizabeth said, "YES!"
I could tell Elizabeth was proud of her work.
Then Joshua came bounding in to tell me he was ready to show me his thing. And I followed him outside, to see his vinegar/baking soda bomb. I didn't record Joshua, but there are plenty of them on Youtube. Like this one:
Joshua was bursting with excitement over the explosion, seeming just as proud of his creation as Elizabeth was of hers. And I had to laugh, as I considered the completely opposite works which produced such similar joy in my children.
Boys and girls are, indeed, created differently. I think God was having fun when He was thinking us up! *grin*
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Don't bother worrying about things. It probably won't be as bad as you think.
I have mentioned before that I am doing a "Resident of the Week" thing at work. I interview one person each week, feature them on a bulletin board, and introduce them at lunch on Mondays. Well, Wednesday I interviewed next week's resident and he had a very good lesson for me.
I asked Joe, "What's the greatest lesson you have ever learned?" And he proceeded to tell me a story. He said for the past couple of weeks he has been having trouble hearing - even though he has hearing aids. It was getting worse and worse, and Joe was afraid he was going to completely lose his ability to hear.
But Tuesday he went to the audiologist and found out he had significant wax build-up in his hears. The doc cleaned the wax out, and now all is well!
Joe looked at me and told me the greatest lesson he has ever learned - as illustrated in his concern over his hearing:
Don't bother worrying about things. It probably won't be as bad as you think.
Ahhh. Words of wisdom from one of my favorite 95-year-olds!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
It's November 11 today!
My favorite day of the year.
And in honor of it, I'm re-posting an entry from April of 2008, which explains why I am so fond of this number.
More and more I am becoming convinced God has a special thing with me and the number eleven, eleven. If you don't know the story behind it, please click over to this post and read about it.
A couple of weeks ago when I met Sue from Praise and Coffee we had lunch together. She didn't have her glasses and when our checks came she held hers up and asked me to tell her what it came to. It was $11.11. I chuckled, prayed for Brian, and told Sue the story of eleven eleven.
Last week I emailed a friend from small group and she replied (knowing the significance of that number), "Cute how you sent that email at 11:11." I didn't. Her computer was an hour off, but she saw the number and emailed it to me. So, of course, I prayed for Brian again.
Recently I was in the van with the kids, and Matthew piped up, "Mom, you might want to look at the clock." I thought, What for? We aren't on a schedule. We aren't late for anything. But I looked and saw it was 11:11.
This morning I was driving and glanced at the clock at 11:11 without anyone prompting me. (Well, I guess God prompted me.)
And just moments ago I was transferring files of a couple pictures onto my computer. I waited for the transfer to take place and looked at the bottom of the screen where I saw, "Taken 02/07/08 11:11 AM." So I am thanking God for my hubby and praying He will guide him through this day.
These events are fun to think of, but what happened Sunday just tickles me. God treated us to pizza!
We went to Pizza Hut for dinner to celebrate the boys' reading accomplishments with their BookIt certificates. (That's Pizza Hut's reading incentive program. A free personal pan pizza when you reach your monthly reading goal.) We placed our order and waited. And waited. The kids complained it was taking awhile, but I really hadn't noticed.
Eventually, our waiter came and told us he had forgotten to turn in our order so we were going to be getting a 50% discount off of our bill. When he left I smiled at the kids and said, "Well, that's a nice gift from God, isn't it?"
No one will be able to convince me it wasn't a gift from God.
When our bill arrived I turned it over and started to laugh. Do you know what our discount was?
I showed it to Brian and he said, "God's signature!" Yeah, that combined with the BookIt certificates made our total bill come to $4.37. Not bad for dinner for a family of five. Thanks, God!
I love that concept of God's signature. It seems He is using that number to remind me of His hand at work, like a secret code between us. Though I guess it isn't so secret anymore. *grin*
May I encourage you today to keep your eyes open to the ways God is working around you and communicating His love? What a delight it is to sense His presence. Seek Him today, my friend!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I just took some bread out of the oven. It smells sooooo good! I think it's the cinnamon I put in that made the wonderful aroma.
But it was the allspice that made me laugh.
Because it reminded me of a night, oh, almost ten and a half years ago when I was really sleepy.
Matthew was a new-born, and sleep was fleeting. One night I must have been half sleeping when I lay in bed listening to him cry, because I'm sure I was dreaming - talking in my sleep - when I asked Brian to go downstairs and bring me the jar of allspice.
And I'm sure Brian was half asleep when I made this request, because he got up and retrieved it for me.
The next thing I knew, I had my baby in my arms and my husband was holding the allspice out for me to take. That's when I realized I had no idea why I thought allspice was going to sooth my crying infant. So I thanked Brian for getting it for me, and tossed it on the floor.
Yes. Sleep deprivation can make us do silly things.
But I do enjoy the laugh now, whenever I make a recipe which contains allspice. *grin*
What silly things have you done as a result of sleepless babies?
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
I still can hardly believe what I have been seeing over the past few weeks.
My little ADHD guy - who hates reading and who never sits still - has been found seated quietly on the couch, in a corner, even in his bed with the lights off (Because he was supposed to be SLEEPING!) reading books from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. I think he is on his third one right now.
For the past few weeks I have been telling this child he needs to stop reading so he can come eat dinner. I've told him to stop reading so I can talk to him. I have even confiscated his book and hidden it so he would get some sleep!
Honestly, I love that Matthew is so enjoying this book series.
I love that he is spending waaaaay more time reading than he is on electronics.
It's just that I hardly recognize this person in my house now.
Quiet and calm. (Except when he's excited to tell me about Percy's latest really awesome adventure.)
Content to do that which he has previously proclaimed 'Boring!'
Now, if I can just find a way for Percy to help us with homework! *wink*
Monday, November 08, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
I wrote an Irritable Mother Newsletter this weekend, and when I sent myself a 'test copy' it didn't look much like the copy I had created. The font wasn't the same, and the text changed sizes randomly. I tried to figure it out by looking at the HTML code - Yeah, as if I could understand that stuff! - to no avail.
So then I started to wonder if it was just the way my email was reciving the message. And I decided to go ahead and send it out.
If you're reading this, it's probably because your text was messy and you clicked on the link about messy text. My apologies! I pray the message came through in spite of the mess.
Posted by Karen Hossink at 11:59 PM
Friday, November 05, 2010
Life is precious. Thank God for each moment.
I am working with elderly people now.
And elderly people tend to show the effects of aging, and then they die.
This is not news to me.
But I didn't expect the first-hand experience of this reality to impact me as it has.
Really. I am 39 years old, and I've only lost two of my grandparents. Yet, in the three months I've been at Edgewood, we've seen four residents pass away. And another is nearing her death. Except that I know some of these residents knew the LORD, it makes me so sad.
I interacted with a new resident this week who was confused and didn't know where he was. He was 'lost' in his new home and was crying - asking God to just take him now. I showed him where his apartment was, I talked with him and prayed with him, but the ache in my heart was huge.
I'm seeing things and experiencing feelings which I simply did not anticipate when I took this job. While there is much joy to be had, there are also these moments which leave me taking a deep breath and considering how precious life is. Because on any given day I might go into work and find that someone has gone to the hospital. And the next day, they might have passed away.
I know young people have troubles and die, too. But at Edgewood I'm seeing it with greater frequency and intensity. And it's causing me to remember ~
Life is precious. Thank God for each moment.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Ah, my friends. I have been struggling.
Struggling with 'getting it right' at work.
Struggling with my attention challenged boys at home.
Struggling with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
Monday night I cried myself to sleep. And that was a good thing. I had been holding back the tears for too long, and they had to come out.
In spite of the head ache and puffy eyes Tuesday morning, I really did feel better; physically. As in, I didn't feel as though my eyes were about to burst with tears anymore. I told my husband, "I think it's all out!"
But there was still the emotional/spiritual side of things to deal with, and God took me there in His good time.
One of my co-workers tried to convince me that I need to learn to 'love what you hate.' She did a pretty good sales job, but I wasn't in the buying mood. However, she did get me to think about finding reasons to be thankful even in the midst of the struggle.
Which reminded me of this post which Dori wrote about thankfulness. And I knew I needed to embrace thankfulness, rather than the struggle.
Then Tuesday night I read this post in which Ginny turned her trials into reasons to be thankful.
And I thought, That's it! I am going to turn this struggle around. I'm going to turn my eyes upon Jesus! I am going to choose to be thankful right here in the midst of my struggle. Not because I enjoy the trial, but because I trust my Savior.
Soooo, today I am thankful. Thankful in the middle of the struggle.
I am thankful for the job I have. I am thankful that I can work as unto the LORD - that I do not have to work for the approval of man, rather that I can do it all for Him.
I am thankful for my two crazy, un-focused sons. I am thankful that God created them perfectly, and for a purpose. I am thankful that He will bring His good work to completion in them - in His perfect timing. I am thankful that God is using my struggles with my boys to refine me, and make me into the woman He created me to be.
I am thankful that it isn't up to me to become adequate, or 'enough.' Rather, by His grace, mercy, and power, God will make me enough and I can trust Him. I am so very, very thankful that nothing in my life is about me and my ability. It's all about HIM. All.of.it!
Ahhhhh. Thank You, JESUS!
Are you struggling today? Try turning it into thankfulness. You'll be amazed at how it changes everything.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Just had parent/teacher conferences for Joshua.
I was encouraged by the reports his teachers gave. They understand adolescent boys. (Wish I did!) While I was anticipating many expressions of frustration, instead I heard a lot of, "He's a typical 12/13 year-old boy." That was nice.
One teacher made a comment, though, which I will be thinking upon for quite some time.
As we were discussing Joshua's attention challenges - and how it seems to come to a head when I'm trying to do homework with him - she said, "It must be really tough to go through the day when every adult is telling you to 'Pay attention.'"
I can't say I'm going to stop trying to get him to focus on his work, but I think she made a good point. And I want to build him up, not make him frustrated.
Help me, God!
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
I must be an Israelite!
As I have mentioned previously, I am reading through the Bible. I have done this before and, while I knew God would speak to me through His Word, I had forgotten that He tends to cause me to question my nationality when I'm reading through the book of Numbers.
Saturday morning I read this from chapter 14:
1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?"Which reminded me of a few weeks ago when I read this from chapter 16 of Exodus:
2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."I wanted to get in the faces of those complaining Israelites and talk some sense into them! Life was hard in Egypt, they cried out to God, and He delivered them. Wandering through the dessert was hard, but God was faithful. Still the Israelites complained and wished they could go back to Egypt, where things must not have been as bad as they'd thought.
Then, when God gave the people a glimpse of the Promised Land, most of the explorers gave a bad report and the people started grumbling again.
I couldn't believe what I was reading. Did they really say they wished they had died in the dessert? Because in Exodus they were complaining about that very prospect.
I wondered, What is up with these people???
Granted, I have the advantage of knowing the end of the story. I know how God ultimately delivered the Israelites to the Promised Land.
Those men and women had seen God's faithfulness up close and personally. They had eaten the manna and the quail. They drank water from a rock. They saw the pillar of cloud which led them by day and the pillar of fire at night.
How could they doubt the LORD their God now?
How could they complain about what He was doing???
And there - in the midst of my Israelite rebuke - I realized I might be one of them.
God, I don't think I can handle having a teenager! Life was so much easier when my kids were in elementary school, when homework was simpler.
BUT, at that time I was crying words like, Oh, God! These childish attitudes are driving me crazy! What happened to my sweet little pre-schoolers?
And before that? God, I cannot handle another temper tantrum over broken crayons and taking turns. Why do these children need to fuss about bath time? Why can't they just eat, sleep, and be happy like they were when they were babies?
Of course, it all started with, God, I am so tired. I don't know why this baby keeps crying. I just want some sleep! Please, make this child sleep soundly tonight.
Do you see the resemblance between me and the Israelites?
Yeah. I think I might be one.
It is so easy to see the struggle in the moment, to fear the future - and to forget God's faithfulness in the past.
Father, You are perfectly faithful. Always! We can trust You. For everything!
Yet sometimes we forget. Please forgive us when we fix our eyes on the struggle, instead of on You. Please help us to be faith-full. Draw us into Your arms, and lead us to lean on You.
Monday, November 01, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Sometimes, the best thing you can say is...nothing.
I was sitting at my desk this week when M came in and said she needed to talk to me. She wondered if I 'had a minute'.
I told her, "Sure!" and turned toward her so I could listen. As M told me about her disappointment with some changes which have taken place, I sat wondering what I could say to make her feel better. I thought about suggesting a plan of action.
But I had nothing.
She went on to tell me about a friendship she used to have with a resident who has since moved away. And I pondered words to comfort her.
Still, nothing came to mind.
Before long, she was telling me about some of the hard times she had faced as a wife and mother. As I sat and listened, I couldn't fathom the words which would ease the pain of her memories.
And, just as before, I had nothing to say.
The next thing I knew, another resident had come into the Activity Room and my conversation with M came to an end.
An end? So soon? I thought to myself. But I haven't even had a chance to respond to her!
Yet, as I looked at M, it seemed to me she was feeling a little better. And I reasoned, she really didn't come to me because she was looking for a response. I think she just needed someone to hear her.
And that's when I realized, Sometimes, the best thing you can say is...nothing!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
While it's true I believe we need to live each moment, and not spend today living for tomorrow, I can't help but be excited about one of my tomorrows. *grin*
In just less than three months I'll be speaking at the next Moms' Night Out. This one will be held in San Diego, CA at the Rock Church.
Click here for registration and details.
If you are a southern California girl, I would love to see you there! And if you know any moms in that region, I hope you'll send them the link and encourage them to come, too.
I am delighted to know God already knows each woman who will be there, and I pray He is preparing each one for what He will do in them during our time together.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
When your children were new-borns, did you ever find yourself looking for the user's guide that was supposed to come with them?
You know, the little instruction book which would tell you exactly what each cry meant, how to comfort each whimper, and what to do in every situation? Oh, how I longed for that information!
Last week I found myself looking for it again. Wondering what it would have to say about seventh graders and their moms.
Joshua called me from school one morning, because he had forgotten his science book and homework. We had already had a trying morning because of math homework he needed to finish (Which delayed me in getting ready for work.) and I think Joshua was sensitive to that fact as he brought his request to me. These were his words: "If it wouldn't be too hard for you to do in the next half hour, could you bring my science book to school? Because I forgot it and my homework is in it. But if it would be too hard for you, I can use a homework pass. It's OK."
I told him he would need to use the homework pass. And I was glad he'd made that suggestion, because it made my 'No' easier to say.
That's when I found myself wanting the instruction book again.
Part of me was thinking the best thing to do was NOT to take the homework to school. How is a child going to learn responsibility if dear ol' Mom always comes to the rescue? Right?
Besides, it would have been a significant hassle to make the trip to school. I had already been delayed by the math homework with which Joshua needed help. Didn't have any extra time left that morning.
So it seemed entirely reasonable to me to tell Joshua he needed to use that homework pass.
BUT then I got to thinking about it more.
Would it be better for me to make the sacrifice?
Shouldn't I extend grace to my son, as God lavishes it on me?
I forget things, too, and need help from others. Isn't it reasonable to understand another person's ability to forget sometimes?
Honestly, I was not laboring over these questions with regard to Joshua forgetting his science book. I really believe I made the right decision there.
The thoughts were going on to other circumstances, just wondering where we - as parents - need to draw the line between extending grace, and teaching our children responsibility.
And that's when I started wanting for that instruction book again.
I haven't found it.
Been praying a lot - asking God to give me wisdom in drawing those lines.
But as for that book?
I'm still looking!
Have you seen it?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In my read-thru-the-Bible-in-a-year program, I have just finished Leviticus. *whew!* Now I just need to make it through Numbers...
Honestly, it isn't that bad. Each day I pray and tell God I know there's something He has to say through His word. Even the, uh, monotonous parts. (Can I say that without fear of being struck by lightening? *wink*)
And I have to say, I smiled as I came to the end of Leviticus. Not because it was the end, but because I was reminded of the spin I put on Leviticus 26 first time I read through the Bible. Grab your copy of the Scriptures and give God's version a read, then take a look at mine.
Reward for Obedience
Do not make messes or set up forts which you are unwilling to clean up later. I am your mother.
Observe my rules and have reverence for my house (which I work so hard to keep clean in spite of you). I am the Mom.
If you follow my rules and are careful to do what I say, I will send clean clothing to your room in its season. I will wash your dirty underwear, fold your socks and even put them away for you. Your outfits will always smell nice.
I will grant peace in your land. Your brother and sister will not be allowed to torment you. You will enjoy safety among them and I will make sure they give you fair time on the Wii.
I will look on you with favor and will prepare your favorite dinners. When I go shopping I will look for sales on the snacks you love, and I will buy them for you. If I can find the fleece lined jeans you love, in your size and on sale, I will buy them and they will be yours. All yours - for you to enjoy until you wear holes in the knees which are unmendable. Even then, I will try to fix them for you.
I will put my dwelling place among you. I will walk with you to the bus stop and be your mom and you will be my child. I am the Mom who brought you out of my womb so that you would no longer stomp on my bladder; I supplied you with shoes and helped you learn to walk with your head held high.
Punishment for Disobedience
But if you will not listen to me and do as I say, and if you reject my rules and do not do exactly as I tell you to do, then I will do this to you:
I will raise my voice and tell you one more time the command I expect you to follow. I will pause for just a moment to allow you to think about your next move, but I will look at you with stern eyes.
If after this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins. I will take away your computer privileges and your time on the Wii for two days. I will not allow you to go on Webkinz to do your Daily Kinz Care or to play the Wheel of Wow. For two days you will not be able to play Tanks or Super Mario Bros. no matter how much you beg and whine.
If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions. I will take away computer and Wii privileges from you for four more days and you will not be allowed to participate in Movie Night on Friday. You will sit in your room and smell the popcorn, but you will not be allowed to eat any of it. While the rest of us enjoy whatever comes from Netflix this week, you will sit in your room, alone and without popcorn.
If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you. I will make you clean the entire bathroom by yourself, and I will not help you. I will still wash your clothes, but I will not fold them. You must do that yourself. No longer will I prepare your favorite meals. You will eat brussel sprouts and spinach.
And you'll like it!
In my anger I will unplug the Wii and remove it from the house completely.
But if you will confess your sins - your treachery against me and your hostility toward me - then when your heart is humbled and you apologize to me, I will remember the covenant I made with God at your birth. I will remember the promise I made to Him to love and care for you and to be your mother.
When you have calmed down and will listen to me I will talk with you about your behavior. By the grace of God alone, I will love you and I will remind you it is my job to train you in the ways that are right. I will explain to you once more that when I punish you, it is for your good, to mold and shape you - not to discourage you. I will repeat to you that everything I do for you is because I love you.
I will remember I am a broken woman, in need of God's grace and mercy - just as much as you are an immature child, in need of my grace and mercy. I will confess my own sin to the Lord and beg of Him to carry me through these difficult moments of mothering.
I will fold your clothes and pray for you.
I will make your favorite dinner and thank God for you.
I will play you in a game of Tanks and laugh with you.
I will thank God for His presence with me and His perfect faithfulness.
I am the Mom.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Not everyone grows out of childish tendencies.
It's true. Not all the lessons I'm learning at Edgewood are upbeat and encouraging. In fact, this week I've come across a couple of lessons which have made me sad.
Tuesday we had a great guy come in to provide musical entertainment. As we sat and listened - clapping our hands and tapping our toes - one of the residents added several rhythmic "yee-ha" and "hee-hee" choruses. He makes these sounds frequently when there's music and he's having a good time. And, honestly, I love to hear it.
But Tuesday, another of the residents called me over and adamantly asked me to go tell "F" to be quiet. She said his 'noise' was really bothering her, and she pointed out another resident who seemed to be upset with the addition to the songs, as well.
I told the complainer that I would not ask F to stop. I reminded her that he was enjoying himself, and was simply expressing his joy. It has always been my belief that you should never tell a singing person to stop singing.
I really did think that would be the end of it. I thought the complainer would understand my position and would be reasonable enough to block out F, and just enjoy the rest of the show. But the pout on her face made me wonder if enjoyment was still on her list of possible choices.
I hope it was.
Because I think it would be sad to let childish tendencies ruin a perfectly delightful afternoon.
And, just because F and his "yee-ha" and "hee-hee" make me so happy, I'm going to share a rendition of one of his favorite songs here. He always requests this song when someone comes to play for us. And it always makes me smile to listen to F singing along.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I love the internet.
It's handy, and useful, and has lots of good information available on it.
I am not opposed to 'new' things.
BUT, did you know old things can still be useful?
Matthew is reading a new book and is frequently asking me what various words mean. Well, the other day he stumped me. And I said, "Matthew, watch this!" I walked over to the bookshelf, took out the dictionary, and looked up the word in question.
Not only did we find out what the word meant, but we learned how to pronounce it correctly, and there was even a picture of the item in question.
All that and we didn't even have to turn on the computer, wait for it to boot up, log in to anything, or type passwords. And the only tab I had to use was the one which directed me to the 'C' section of the dictionary.
My kids seem to have the attitude that the dictionary is out-dated and useless. How fun it was to show them differently. *grin*
But now I am wondering at the validity of Matthew's statement as I sat on the couch with the book on my lap. He said, "I bet the next generation won't even know what a dictionary is."
Hmmm. I wonder. The one I have on my shelf has a copyright date of 1981. Does Webster still print these things?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
We had an interesting discussion at small group Sunday night, and I'd love to hear what you think.
Someone was talking about a friend who is going through hard times. (With his business, I think. I honestly don't remember - because the details escaped me after I got to wondering about the bigger question.) Apparently this person prayed about his decision, and saw God opening doors. So he walked through them. As the doors were opening, this person was confident God was leading him, and would be with him through this new venture.
Once he got started in the new venture, he began facing difficulty and proceeded to question where God was.
And that's where our discussion began.
Do you think it's possible that God would lead you down a path which HE knows will be full of trials?
Might God open doors for you, into rooms where you will experience struggle?
Could it be that God's plan is not for your ease, but for your sanctification?
If God knows what is best for us - if He has our holiness in mind - might He look at a trail of trials, and lead us down it for the purpose of refining us?
If so, then why is it we can sense God's leading in a certain direction, we can thank Him for opening doors for us, we can trust Him with the way we're going - but when things start getting difficult, we question where He is?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Have I ever told you what a precious daughter I have?
She's the best!
The retreat experience this past weekend with her was great.
I particularly enjoyed watching her interact with the other teen who was there.
But the thing I have to tell you about today is a conversation the two of us had last week.
Elizabeth looked at me and said, "I'm not going to give you trouble as a teenager."
I looked back at her and smiled. "That sounds great to me." But I wondered what prompted her to come to this decision.
She explained, "I remember once when someone told you that when I was a teenager, I would give you lots of trouble. I want to prove them wrong."
I just looked at my precious daughter and said, "You go, girl!"
Monday, October 18, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
It's Monday night as I'm writing this entry. I just took some cold medicine and will be going to bed shortly. As I am looking ahead at this week, I know there is no way I'll be able to do regular posts and because I know I have gracious friends, I am not even going to try.
I'll be speaking at a women's retreat this Friday and Saturday, and am terribly excited about it. Would so appreciate your prayers for my health (I'm planning to sing, as well, and sure would like my voice to be with me. *grin*) and for God's Spirit to be active among us. My daughter is coming along - her first ever experience at a women's retreat - and I pray God will speak to her heart.
I hope to be back to regular blogging Monday. Thank you for your prayers and patience with me. I love you!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I can laugh about it now.
But last week - when I was feeling so overwhelmed by my job, and life, and my family responsibilities - I wasn't laughing. I really did want to talk with Brian about how I was feeling, and I figured since the whole thing had been brought into the open at small group Sunday night, well, surely he would ask me about it and I could talk to him more.
Only, he wasn't asking.
Even when I thought about it really hard.
So, I was feeling rather unloved. I mean, if my husband cared about how I was feeling, surely he would have noticed my tears and would have come rushing to my side to be my knight in shining armor.
But he didn't.
So when he came home from men's group Tuesday night and told me they'd been talking about expressing their feelings with their wives, I couldn't help but see the door God was opening. And I walked through it.
I said, "Actually, I've been wanting to talk about my feelings for a while." And I proceeded to tell my husband that I had been feeling unloved over the past couple of days, and I explained why - because he hadn't asked me about my tears Sunday night.
My poor husband sat there slack-jawed, with his eyes as big as saucers.
He said, "But whenever I ask you about something and you start crying, you always say you can't talk about it. I thought I was doing the loving thing by not asking."
I think that's where I started laughing.
He was absolutely right. When I'm crying, I can.not.talk. And I have been known to say before, "Don't make me talk about this." Ah, yes. I could totally see where he was coming from.
So for two days I had been sitting here, feeling unloved because Brian wasn't asking about my feelings. And for two days he thought he was being loving by not asking me about my feelings and making me cry again. Bless his heart. He was trying to do the right thing!
We crack me up. Seventeen years of marriage, college degrees in Communication and Social Work - and we still can't figure out how to talk to each other. Anyone know where I can sign him up for mind-reading classes?
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
It's OK to forget things sometimes.
Are you too hard on yourself?
Do you tend to chastise yourself for little things? Like forgetting to get an item at the store? Or forgetting to return a book to the library? Or forgetting any number of little things which have absolutely no eternal consequence - so you really shouldn't make a fuss about it?
And I'm not much different at work.
I forget to bring my keys with me when I need to get something out of storage.
Maybe I forget the joke-of-the-day when I'm making announcements.
Or envelopes. How many times have I walked down to the office and forgotten to grab an envelope or some other supply? (Although, since my office is so far from the
rest of civilization main art of the building, I have determined that my forgetfulness will be good for my figure. I do LOTS of walking back and forth!)
It is not uncommon for me to make a self-deprecating comment regarding my mental faculties when these forgetful moments occur.
But the residents at Edgewood have taught me something.
Besides telling me it's OK to forget sometimes, I have seen them living out that grace. More than once, I have been with a group of them in conversation - where one of the group members has real and honest memory problems. This person will repeat the same story to us three and four times, and - rather than ignoring the story, or reminding the person she has already told it - everyone else listens politely and responds just as kindly the fourth time as they did the first three.
Forgetfulness is rampant among the residents at Edgewood and - although I don't have the same excuse as they do - I have learned it just doesn't make sense to get upset about it.
It's OK to forget things sometimes.
(And I am getting in the habit of writing more lists for myself, so I forget less. *grin*)