Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pharmacy notes

I love that God is not limited in the ways and places He can speak to us.

Love it!

Because this week as I was waiting on several pharmacy customers, God was speaking to my heart.
You see, at the Meijer pharmacy we have a free antibiotic program, wherein - as the name would indicate - several of our antibiotics are free to the customer. The thing is, not everyone who is getting one of these antibiotics realizes they're free. So when the individual opens his/her wallet and I say, "There's no charge today," that person often responds with a shocked look and says, "What???"
At which point, I smile at them and tease, "Don't ask questions. Just accept it."
Then we usually laugh a bit, and they go on their merry way.

But one day, as I went through this scene for about the sixth or seventh time, God made me see things differently.
From His perspective, I think.
And I wondered, How many times has God meant to give me a gift, just because He's good and that's the kind of thing He does, and I have felt the need to 'pay' Him for it? How many times have I objected to His grace, because I didn't think I deserved it? How many times has God wanted to say to me, Don't ask questions, Karen. Just accept it.?

Are you understanding what I'm saying?

All He wants us to do is say, Thanks! and accept His gift.
No questions.
Just thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful weekend!
I have a video ready for Monday. If you aren't too busy with picnics and such, I hope you'll stop by for a visit.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

That's Where I Draw the Line

So, Wednesday evening I was making dinner, watching the clock and wondering when Joshua was going to get home from fishing with his friends. The next thing I knew, he was walking in the door and went through the kitchen holding a ziploc bag full of water.
And a fish.
I don't know where I figured he was going with it. I mean, this wasn't the first time he's come into the house with a critter. So I just didn't give it much thought.


He came back into the kitchen and said, "The fish is going to live in our toilet temporarily."

I think I might have changed colors. I looked at him and proclaimed, "Oh, no it isn't!" I'll let a Polyphemus moth hang out on the curtains. It's fine with me to have a bunny in a cage in the living room. I'm even OK with little snakes - as long as they stay in Joshua's room.

But I will NOT have a live fish swimming in the toilet. Even if it's temporary.

That's where I draw the line.

Ya know? Come to think of it, I don't know where he ended up putting that thing. Perhaps I should go check that out!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Did They Know What They Were Saying?

At the beginning of this month I participated in a Bible reading marathon. As I sat and listened to another woman reading Matthew 27, with all the details surrounding the horrible moments around Jesus' death, I was surprised to find myself hopeful by a statement made by the angry crowd.

All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"

Matthew 27:25

Though the woman who was reading kept going, I had to pause with that statement.
I know the crowd spoken of in Matthew 27 was trying to communicate to Pilate something along the lines of, "Yeah. Whatever. Get on with it. Hand him over. We'll take responsibility for killing him. We'll even push it off onto our children if that will get you to give us this Man so we can crucify him!"
But as I pondered their words, and considered what Jesus was about to do for them (For all of us!), I couldn't help but wonder if those people really knew what they were saying. Because, what they were saying was exactly what they needed.

Let his blood be on us and on our children!

It is the cry of my heart and my prayer for my children. Jesus, let Your blood be on us. Let us be covered by Your blood - forgiven of our sins, by Your perfect sacrifice.

I don't know if the angry crowd knew what they were saying. But I am so thankful that His blood covers me!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Critter Report

Didn't I just say I'd been pondering the thought that we haven't had any critters in the house lately?
And then Joshua found the bunny?
Well, two days after the bunny moved out, Joshua found another friend.

This guy:

It's a polyphemus moth and Joshua was so proud of him!

Unfortunately, Mr. Moth wasn't entirely healthy when he came to live with us, and he has since died. BUT, now Joshua has him displayed on his bug board with Ring and Twiggy and several other unnamed bugs we've had as house guests over the years.

Hmmmm. It seems the season has arrived. Wonder who our next critter will be!?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

So, sometimes I do the encouraging.
Other times, it's the pharmacy customers who cheer me.
And today I want to share with you some of the ways I have been encouraged, with hopes that the next time you go to a pharmacy counter (or any other kind of counter!) you'll give one of these suggestions a try.

*I love it when a customer takes the time to read my name tag and uses my name.

*In the midst of waiting on frazzled and sometimes ornery customers, it is an absolute delight to have a customer approach the counter with a great big smile on his/her face.

*Once when we were waaaaaay backed up, and people were waiting in line, and several of them were irritated, and all of us behind the counter were bustin' our, uh, rear ends, I waited on an unusually kind customer. I thanked her for her patience and she smiled at me and said, "I figure complaining isn't going to make the line move any faster."
Oh, what a gift that comment was - spoken at just the right time.

Initially, I thought being behind the counter was simply going to open doors for me to encourage people in ways I would not otherwise be able to do. But now I realize, being behind the counter is also showing me how much I can lift up people when I am a customer - on the other side.

Let's go and do likewise!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

More 'Daily Bread'

Yesterday I shared with you about an incident I had with Matthew before school recently. It delighted my heart to see how God was my Strength. He fought for me. All I had to do was be still. (I say 'all I had to do' as if that was an easy thing. HA!)
And I left that situation, thinking I finally had the right formula for how to deal with Matthew's shenanigans. Yes, that bad situation worked out so well, I thought all I need to do from this day forward is not nag, and Matthew will do his homework.

That's just the way I operate. I want to find the answer to all my questions so I know what to do - now and forever more. I want to be fully armed and equipped to handle all my future life situations. Today.

But that isn't how God operates.

And He demonstrated so the very next day.

Sparing you the details, I'll just say there was more unfinished homework for Matthew. However, I wasn't worried. Because the day before - all I had to do was not nag, and eventually Matthew did what he was supposed to do.
Not so on this new day.
On this day he had no desire for another bowl of cereal. There was no carrot I could hold in front of him as a motivator. Now my not nagging simply made the breakfast table quiet. Matthew was not moving toward completing his work.
And I was baffled. God, what am I supposed to do NOW?
Oh, He worked out the situation. God fought for me, again. But in doing so, He also demonstrated another lesson I need to learn.

Just as I need to rely on God for my daily bread in the material realm, so I also need to rely on Him for my daily bread in wisdom.

And I think I understand why.
If I had all the answers, if today God gave me all the wisdom I am ever going to need for the rest of my days while I'm raising these children, well - I might think I don't need Him anymore. I might think I can do this mothering thing on my own.
As it is, the very next day - after the two referenced above - I had another new issue with Matthew. He was upset, telling me he was NOT going to go to school, and I was at a loss. I didn't know what to do.
So I asked God for wisdom in that moment.
And He gave me an idea.
And although Matthew sat pouting on the couch, with his arms folded, telling me he would listen to my idea but he probably wouldn't go along with it - he did! God gave me my daily bread of wisdom, and Matthew agreed to it. God knew he would!

I'm getting it. Slowly.

God is my Strength. And every day He will give me the wisdom I need for that day.

Thank You, Jesus!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Strength. Indeed.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

This Bible verse is in my sidebar.
It is labeled as My Strength.
And, once again, God has shown me the truth in these words.

I was sitting down to eat my breakfast, looking through Matthew's folder, when I saw the homework assignment he had not completed the day before. (Long story there, of which I'll spare you the details.) Suddenly my heart quickened as I imagined the road before me.
Getting my little ADHD guy to get ready for school on time is always a challenge. Adding a homework page to the mix was not an ideal plan. This scenario usually involves heavy doses of cajoling reminding nagging, with a fair amount of frustration, and I just did not want to go there.
I put Matthew's math page on the table and said, "You can work on this while you eat your breakfast." But he insisted he couldn't do both at the same time. So I let him eat his cereal first.
After that first bowl of cereal, however, he said he wanted more. Which is when I saw where we were going with this game and I knew I needed to step in. I told Matthew he could have another bowl of cereal after he completed his math page.
Honestly, the way he reacted to that statement, you would have thought I'd just taken away his DS for a month! I knew the fight was on, and I just didn't want to go there.

Oh, I wanted to. My natural tendency at that point is to move into raise-your-voice-and-threaten-to-take-things-away mode. Fighting back is my typical response.

But on this day, I remembered Exodus 14:14 and I knew I needed to be still. I told Matthew, "You may have another bowl of cereal, but not until you have finished your homework. Now you can get your work done and have more cereal, or you can fuss and whine and be miserable about it and not get your work done - and NOT have another bowl of cereal. That's your choice." (It would be appropriate to read a firm tone into those words...)
And then I went silent.
I prayed, God, please fight for me. I'm not going to nag. Please motivate him to make a good choice.
I sat next to my whining son, finishing my breakfast, biting my tongue to keep from nagging. And the next thing I knew, Matthew had picked up his pencil and was doing his homework.


I hadn't nagged.
I hadn't threatened.
I hadn't gotten angry. (Well, maybe a little. But I kept it inside. *sheepish grin*)
And Matthew did his homework.

God fought for me.
He is my Strentgth. Indeed!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Furry House Guest

Funny. One day last week I remember thinking to myself, Gee. It's been a while since we've had any critters in the house.
(Those of you who've been around here for a while probably remember the birds, bugs and mice my kids have taken in over the years.)
And then Friday morning, Joshua came running into the house with a baby bunny he'd nearly run over on his way to school. It's eyes were not yet opened, it wasn't in its nest, and Joshua wanted to know if we could keep it until it was big enough to make it on its own. What could I say???

We quickly put it in a box filled with grass - set upon a heating pad - and Joshua went off to school. Friday night we went to the pet store to get food for our new baby, and the kids went to work caring for Curious George.
It was a true joy to me - watching my children work together with a common goal. They didn't fight or argue. They had the good of the bunny in mind, and were somehow able to put aside their differences in order to care for him. Honestly, this amount of peace is a rare treasure in my home!

By Saturday both of the bunny's eyes were opened, and as we did more research through the weekend we decided it was time to release the baby back into the wild.
Soooo, Monday night we took him to a wooded area and Joshua dug out a little nest - filling it with grass and cotton to assist with warmth. While Joshua was sad to say good-bye, Curious George went right into his new home and seemed to like it there.
It hurt my heart to see Joshua so sad, but more than that, I was glad he'd been successful in helping the bunny. He has such a tender heart, I know it would have been crushed if the bunny had died. As it is, he's learning to care for others and he's also learning that sometimes we need to say Good-bye.

God, please use this experience with the bunny to grow Joshua's compassion capacity, and to help him learn what it means to trust You for all our needs.

Just wondering - Did you rescue critters when you were a kid?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Trading Spaces - Bloggy Style

Hi, friends!
Surprised to not see my Monday video devotion here? That's 'cuz I'm 'Trading Spaces' with Heather today. Heather, from Desperately Seeking Sanity, has just started up a monthly event wherein we'll get matched up with another blogger, and trade spaces for a day.
I'll give you a head's up about it next month, and maybe you can join in. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to trade spaces with you!

For today, please welcome Heather to Surviving Motherhood.

To All the Men I've Loved Before

So the topic is love and I'm the one that came up with that topic. I did it because I got married yesterday. I was a little giggly and starry-eyed. But then it came to the point where I had to sit and come up with something.
My mind went blank.
I didn't know what I was going to say. I didn't know how to spin the post into something that was me, conveyed what I wanted to say, or even conveyed a lesson or inspiration.
Of course, it didn't help that Karen had already sent me hers and it was, oh, so eloquent. And just, well, Karen. Please go over to my space and check it out. :D

But then, I started thinking about all the men I've loved throughout my life. I told my now husband (oh my gosh, that is so weird, yet WONDERFUL to write) that I was going to write a post to all the men I've loved before. His response? "That's going to be a long list."
Clearly, in all the times I've mentioned past boyfriends, he hasn't paid attention to the ones that actually meant something. Because when it comes to my heart? I'm pretty guarded. As in, he's lucky I opened it up to him.
Because the list?
Has three people on it. Four, if you count him.
But in looking back, these three men, through the relationships and the break ups to follow, have each taught me something, crafted me into who I am today and ultimately? Were placed in my life by God with a purpose that I couldn't see until it was time for God to reveal it to me. And for whatever reason, these things became blazingly obvious to me a week or so before my wedding.

The first man I truly loved was my ex-husband. We'll call him JJ. JJ and I met when I was 18, I had just arrived for my first semester at Boston University. Six months later, I had dropped out of college, moved to Philly to be with him and got pregnant with our oldest. Obviously, this man was in my life to give me my children.
My children saved my life.
I was on a path of destruction - there was alcohol, drugs (minimal, but they were still there) and just doing some really stupid things. I learned to be a grownup with real responsibilities with JJ. We were married after our oldest was born and it lasted just three years, but had we not separated, I don't know that I would've ever gone back to college. But I did. And I graduated, with honors even, and today I am in a much better situation than if I had never gone.
But the best part? JJ, his wife, my husband (heh) and I work together for the betterment of the kids. JJ was put in my life to give me my children, and the first lesson in forgiveness that I've had.

After my divorce, I moved home with the kids and went back to school full time. It was there that I met J. J and I were together for almost 3 years and in that time, I learned that love was not enough to hold a relationship together. I loved J, with all my heart. I loved his family. But J and I had different goals in life and neither one of us were willing to shift those goals to allow for a relationship to go any further. We finally ended it, amicably, and to this day, we still talk from time to time. I was the only girl his parents liked until B came along and I'm happy to say that all these years later (like almost 8) J will be wed this fall.

And then there was T. T was the most baffling as I look back over the past. I could somewhat understand why with the JJ and J but T? I couldn't figure out why he was in my life, and chalked it up to just lack of thinking on my part. T was a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon about 2 years into our relationship. He had a child and we struggled with the whole your/my kid issues. I tried to be supportive of his choices until it just got to be too much for me and we ended it, or rather I ended it.
And it was bad.
But in the last few months, I've been able to take what I learned about alcoholism and offer advice to a dear friend of mine. I've been able to be there for her in many ways and then, when I learned of her husband's problem, I've been able to help her - in a way that I wouldn't have been able to had T not been in my life.

In the past three years, since giving my life to Christ, I've been able to forgive these men, as well as seek forgiveness. I'm in the rarity in that I'm still on a 'friend' level with all of them. I've been able to witness to T in a major way and last I heard, he was sober again. JJ and I are good friends. And J? We still talk on Facebook from time to time, just checking in to see how the other is doing. It's nice to be able to have no hard feelings on either end.
It's also nice to be able to learn from these men about relationships and myself.
But the shocking observation that I see when I look back over the last 15 years of dating history is that Christ - up until my husband came along - was not in these relationships. And so as I embark on this new journey with my husband (oh my gosh that's gonna take some getting used to), while a little nervous about the past history with men, I'm calmed because I know that Christ is our focal point. I know that He is important to us and that we have both vowed before God and others to always keep Him in the center of our lives and our marriage.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
They say that people come into our lives for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. The seasons of the past only primed me for the lifetime ahead of me. While I hate not knowing what God is up to, I love to be able to look back and see where He's been, how He's primed me, and where He's brought me.

My God is an Awesome God.

Heather St.Clair is a mom/stepmom of four ranging from 13 to 5 and blogs at Desperately Seeking Sanity when she's not tending to kids, closing big deals or dancing backwards in high heels. Her blog is a reflection of her life and her faith and her never ending search for sanity.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

OK. This interaction was just too fun for me not to share it with you.

As I'm sure you understand, it's vitally important that we give the correct prescription to customers at the pharmacy. One of the ways we confirm the correct identity is by asking for a verification of the birth date of the person for whom the prescription has been written.
Well, last Friday a young man came to the pharmacy to pick something up for a female. (So I obviously knew it wasn't for him.) When I asked him to provide the birth date for the prescription's recipient, he fumbled. He got the month, wasn't sure about the day, and really had no idea about the year.
We made confirmation via other means, but then I asked this young man what his relationship was to the Rx recipient. He stammered, "Uh, she's my mom."

I couldn't resist...

I (gently) pounded my hand on the counter and said, "You don't know your mother's birthday???"
He smiled, sheepishly.
I continued, "Do you know what day it is Sunday?"
He said, "Mother's Day."
"Yes. It is. Have you gotten her a card yet?"
He just looked at me and smiled.
"Because I don't know if I can give you this prescription if you aren't going to also get your mother a card." I leaned forward and pointed toward the card section. "They're right over there. Promise me you're going to go straight over there and buy her a card when you're finished here."
"Good. Here you go."
We finished the transaction, and I trust that young man went over to pick up a Mother's Day card.

As the next customer approached the counter (A woman, in her 50's, I'm guessing.) she was chuckling. I just smiled at her and said, "I imagine someone will need to help my sons like that some day."

We moms need to stick together!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just for Fun

Something you may not know about me is this:
I love word games and puzzles.
And today I want to share with you one of my favorites. I hope it's one you haven't seen before.
Honestly, it isn't that hard. If you don't already know it, try to discipline yourself to NOT look in the comments before you've figured it out.

It's greater than God.

It's more evil than the devil.

The rich need it.

The poor have it.

What is it???


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Today I'm at SHE Blogs

Have you ever been desperate? Ever felt like there was too much for you to do, too much to handle, and no way you were ever going to make it through? Have you ever tried to face the day, but found yourself wanting to run back to your room and hide under the covers until it was time to go back to bed?

To read the rest, please come see me at SHE Blogs.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So What?

Yesterday I talked with you about Struggling with all HIS Energy. I told you about some of the ways God has been showing Himself faithful to me - how He is taking care of my circumstances and helping me to trust, rather than fret. But I felt I was getting a little long-winded so I didn't finish saying everything I wanted to say.
So today, I want to wrap it up by asking the all important question: So what?
God has shown me He'll take care of my circumstances.
He is teaching me to be still before Him, and wait patiently for Him - not to fret.
God has demonstrated that He is sovereign, even over my situations.

So what?

Armed with this knowledge, what am I going to do the next time my circumstances are rocked? What am I going to do when everything around me is yelling, "This is crazy, Karen. C'mon! It's time to fret!"
Oh, friends, pray for me - As I am for you! - that I may lean hard into God in the midst of those circumstances, that I may choose to be still and wait patiently, that I may remember His faithfulness and not fret.
That's the So what? I want to choose.
God is good.
I know that.
And I want to live that way!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

I want to thank each of you for your kindness and words of encouragement last Friday, as I let go of the tension from my first week of work. You're a blessing to me!

I'm not sure this is going to be a weekly feature on my blog, but - at least for today - I want to share with you one of the ways God blessed me this week by using me to encourage a customer at the pharmacy.

What started out as a typical transaction, turned into a pleasant conversation with a fellow mom. Customer A asked me to check the bottle in the bag, to be sure she was receiving the correct medication.
So I read the label and commented, "Oh. I have a son who takes Vyvanse, too." (That's what Matthew takes to help control his ADHD impulses.)
At that point, I wasn't going to say anything more about it. I had given the invitation and was leaving it up to Customer A to continue the conversation if she so desired.
She desired!
Because there were no customers waiting behind her in line (Guess WHO saw to that little detail?!) we were able to talk for three or four minutes about having sons with ADHD. We shared our initial concerns with trying medication, our desires to do what is best for our children, and our struggle to know what's 'best'.
As our conversation came to a close, this woman looked at me and said, "It is so good to talk to another mom who knows what I'm going through."
The feeling was mutual.

My hope is that dose of encouragement will last her for another month, and that I'll be working when she comes in for the next refill!


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Because I Need Grace, too

So the other night I scurried home from work, got dinner ready as quickly as I could, told Matthew to get ready for soccer practice, and rushed him out the door so we could get there on time. It was hectic, to be sure, but I was glad we were going to make it.
However, just as Matthew got out of the van and I was about to exhale, he let out a howl. "Ooohhh! I forgot my water bottle!" And then he pleaded with me, "Will you go home and get it for me?"

Honest moment:
I did not want to go home and get that water bottle. I mean, I did want to go home, but I didn't want to turn around and go back to the soccer field. I wanted to curl up in a heap and hide.
I have told Matthew enough times to make sure he has everything he needs before we walk out the door. He knows a water bottle is necessary at soccer practice. This is not new information. Oh, I did not want to go get that water bottle.

But there I was, driving home with every intention of finding a water bottle for my son and taking it back to soccer practice for him.
Arghhhh! What was going on with me? He didn't deserve this kindness!
(Could I really call it kindness when I was grumbling about it???)

In an attempt to make some sense of the situation, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this for him?"
And as I pondered what could possibly be causing me to do something for someone, which they simply did not deserve to have done, I came to understand.

Why was I doing this for him?

Because I need grace, too.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Category of the Month - God is Good

It's a new month - time to feature a new Category...
And this time I'm choosing God is Good.
Wow. As I was going through this category - finding a post to feature for you here - I realized I used to write some really looong posts. But God is good. And He's worth it! *grin*
I hope you can find time to read through some of my previous posts in this category. And I pray God will encourage you, as He did me!

To get you started, here's one from August of 2007.

Nice Mom? Ya Think???

Thank you for the comments about me being a nice mom for letting the kids bring Lucky into our house. My "kind" act may seem a little less remarkable when I tell you the kids already have pet mice, so I'm used to them. (And, yes, I do hold them on occasion, and I even think they're cute!)

The ironic thing is, for most of the day today I have been feeling far from "nice." Maybe because I stayed up too late last night and had a headache for most of the day. Maybe because I took the kids with me on errands this morning and one or the other of them was constantly complaining or wandering off in another direction.
Maybe because my husband has been working long hours this week and I'm tired of feeling like a single parent. (How do you single moms do it???)
Or perhaps it's because I just moved into a new house, things are still kind of a mess and my emotional wick is shorter than usual.
Whatever the reason, for most of the day today I have been pretending to be nice. That is, I have been trying to behave contrary to my feelings. This is the kind of day when I have to take frequent deep breaths, when I rely on a lot of self-talk like, Relax, Karen. It isn't really a big deal, and when I must regularly remind myself of what is True.
Honestly, there were times today when I felt like the most rotten person on planet Earth. These kids are great. They are gifts. I am blessed to have three healthy children! How can I possibly be so irritated with them? What's wrong with me??? And so I battle with myself, fighting between who I am and who I long to be.

Over the past few mornings I have been reading about the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, marveling at His perfect love. He was betrayed and abandoned by His closest friends, yet His love never faltered. He was mistreated and ridiculed, but He never turned His back on those He came to save. I want to be like Him. I've had a line from a song running through my head lately, I'm so tired of me. Jesus, I want to be like You! Yes, that is my heart's desire.

I have my first speaking engagement of the year coming up Tuesday night. It's been three and a half months since I've spoken and I am so looking forward to getting back into it. The thought did cross my mind today, Perhaps God, in His goodness, is allowing me to have a day like today in order that I might be more ready to relate with the women to whom I'll be speaking next week. He is always working things out for His good purposes and perfect plan. It wouldn't surprise me if He were up to something good today.
Yes, even in the midst of my yuck, He is still good. I am so thankful God's goodness is not affected by my circumstance. Aren't you?


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Kissed by the King

Last Friday, as I spent time in God's presence - working through my angst from the previous days - He showed me something wonderful. God showed me the kisses He'd been giving me. The tender ways He'd been caring for me.
Some came in the form of the kindness of a co-worker.
One was in an email from a friend.
Several of them came through comments on Friday's post. (Thank you!)
Another was a result of one of my quirks.

As I wrote the memories of them down in my journal, and considered God's perfect timing in the delivery of each one, my heart grew lighter and my smile grew bigger.

Because I had been kissed by the King!

Have you ever been kissed by God?
Ever had Him do something so sweet and kind that you just know you've been the focus of his love and attention?
Have you ever felt as if the Almighty, Himself, had just taken your face into His hands and graced your cheek with a tender kiss?
I'd love to hear about it!


Monday, May 03, 2010