Tuesday, November 30, 2010

They Come By it Honestly

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*

Karen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


May you find yourself today - surrounded by those you love, and overflowing with thankfulness to our great God!
See you back here Monday.

Karen

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today I'm at SHE Blogs!

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!

Karen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Like a Child

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!

No, sir.

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?

Karen

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Didn't Do It

Sorry about some of the noise in parts of this. My webcam was having microphone issues. *grrr*


Karen

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lessons from the Edge

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?

Karen

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Can't Save My Children

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!

Karen

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

There is No Formula

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.
Amen?
*************************************************
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!

Karen

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Had to Laugh

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*

Karen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lessons from the Edge

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!

Karen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Year

It's November 11 today!

11-11

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.

God's Signature

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?
$11.11!
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!

Karen

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Was So Sleepy!

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?

Karen

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

When Percy Jackson Changed my Son

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.

Reading. All.the.time.
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*

Karen

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Messy Text?

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.

Karen

Friday, November 05, 2010

Lessons from the Edge

Life is precious. Thank God for each moment.

OK.

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.

Karen

Thursday, November 04, 2010

On Thankfulness

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.

Karen

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

That's a Really Good Point

Hmmmmm.
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.'"

Yeah.

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!

Karen

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I Don't Think I'm an American

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.
But, c'mon!
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.
Are you?

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.

Karen

Monday, November 01, 2010