Simple kindnesses mean so much.Monday afternoon I got a call at work from a woman named Wanda. She said she had some craft items she's been making all year, which she wanted to bring over for our residents. Wondered if I could come up with a way to give the items away.Well, yeah! I didn't know exactly how or when I would do it, but I was happy to receive her donation. And when she brought it all over, I was even more excited! Seriously. This dear woman brought over lots and lots of items. Pillows, wall hangings, pin cushsions, cross-stitch pictures, even some MSU Christmas trees. She put a lot of time and love into these pieces, and I was happy to be able to give them to the residents at Edgewood.I decided to bring everything down to the library - which is right by the dining room - and invite people to come in before and after lunch to "Pick their own Christmas present".Most residents were surprised that someone had brought in Christmas presents for them. And when they came into the library and saw how beautiful the work was, their smiles got even bigger. I reminded them a woman in our community had been working on these items throughout the year and that she'd brought them in as gifts. There was no money to be paid, just gifts to be received.The 'ooh's and 'aah's, the smiles and joyful laughter, and the comments like, "Really? I can just have this?" made me so grateful for Wanda's kindness. I wish I had taken her phone number so I could contact her to thank her for her generosity and the joy she brought to Edgewood. I want to let her know the impact of her simple kindness.But I don't know how to contact her. And so I am hoping that by sharing the lesson here, each one of us will be inspired to carry on Wanda's caring ways. Not just in this season, but all year through.Simple kindnesses mean so much. *************************************************************Like most of the blogging world, I am going to be taking a break for the next two weeks. LORD willing, I will be back on January 2, 2012.Have a very Merry CHRISTmas. May the joy of the LORD fill your heart and your home!
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us."Matthew 1:23Could there be anything more remarkable???One might reason that God could be kind to us and care for us - from afar. That safe in Heaven - where everything is holy and perfect, like HIM - God could sit on His throne and watch over us. He could keep His distance, and still be kind.Goodness! God could keep His distance and still use us. Still guide us. Still speak to us. From afar.But HE had a different plan. HE became Immanuel. God with us.Jesus left the glory of Heaven and came to messy Earth. HE put on our skin. Became a helpless baby! One minute HE was putting the stars in place, and the next minute HE was having His diaper changed. What kind of Love does that???REAL LOVE, I tell ya. Love that cares about more than just being kind, trusted, and loved back. Love that can change the world.And that's just what HE did. Because Jesus came to Earth, because HE became God with us, HE changed the world.As we come closer to December 25, and the celebration of Immanuel - God with us! - I pray you will take time to reflect on, and praise God for, the fact that HE is with us.*************************************************Late-breaking news! Amanda is giving away a couple copies of my book, Confessions of an Irritable Mother. Click here to visit her blog and enter to win!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The second point Pastor Marvin made in the sermon Sunday was that God uses people with "stories". That is, people with shady pasts whom you might consider are better for over-looking. (Click here if you want to read about his first point.)Seriously! Have you ever really researched the characters in that genealogy list?
Abraham was the father of Isaac,Isaac the father of Jacob,Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,Perez the father of Hezron,Hezron the father of Ram,Ram the father of Amminadab,Amminadab the father of Nahshon,Nahshon the father of Salmon,Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,Obed the father of Jesse,and Jesse the father of King David.David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wifeMatthew 1: 2-6In this list we have a drunk, a couple of deceivers, a womanizer, a prostitute, and let's not forget the adulterer/murderer who closes out the whole thing! Yes, there are some "good guys" in the line-up, to be sure. But what of the rubble? God, why did You include them??? Yet that is what HE does. God takes the unlikely candidates and uses them for His glory. And that is such an encouragement to me. Our past doesn't matter. We are forgiven through the Blood of Jesus, and He makes us new. We don't have to be perfect. Because HE is.So, let me ask you this: Are you ashamed of your past? Have you made horrible, awful decisions which you now regret? Have you counted yourself out as an instrument of God, because you think your story is too ugly?May I invite you to re-think these things? God isn't afraid of your mess. (Give Genesis 38 a look!) God uses people with stories. HE can still use you. And it will be beautiful.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:Matthew 1:1Sunday I was so encouraged by this verse. By the Truth in it.Are you wondering how? How on earth that statement could lead to anything but a boring list of names and "begat"s?Then, allow me to share with you what my pastor shared with us at church.He explained that the Jewish listeners - for whom this text was originally written - would have heard it differently than we do today. Pastor Marvin did a lot of explaining about how important genealogy was to the people of that day, but the kicker for me was the point he made about the Promise. Matthew specifically stated that Jesus was the son of David, and - on hearing that - the Jewish listeners of that day would have immediately recalled the promise God had made some 1,000 years earlier.God had promised His people that He would send a Savior, who would be from the family line of David. And His people had waited. And waited. Finally, after 1,000 years, Jesus arrived. And He was the son of David. Hearing about it would remind the Jewish people: God is a Promise Keeper.After explaining the significance of Matthew's statement, Pastor Marvin reminded us that today, God is still a Promise Keeper. Though we may have to wait, we can trust God to keep His promises.And that was the moment when I became so encouraged.Allow me to back up about an hour: In the process of getting out the door to church Sunday morning, Joshua and I were frustrating each other. Big time. And I found myself at the place I often do, where I am rolling my eyes heaven-ward and asking, Really, God? Really??? And I am supposed to survive life with a teenage boy HOW???Now, fast-forward an hour: I was encouraged because as Pastor Marvin was reminding us that God is a Promise Keeper, God was reminding me of the promise He made to me several years ago. Probably seven or eight, actually. I was with my mentor and she was reading Luke 1 to me. As she read what the angel spoke to Zechariah about John, I could have sworn God was speaking to me about Joshua.
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.Luke 1:14Ever since that day, I have been holding on to that promise. Trusting that God will use my son for His kingdom. Trusting that - even though I can't see it now - God is working in Joshua's heart and life, and preparing him to serve God and His kingdom.And although Sunday morning - in the midst of my frustration - I had lost sight of God's promise, HE was faithful to remind me. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.I believe You, God. Because You are a Promise Keeper.Are you holding on to God's promises today?
Monday, December 12, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
Singing is good for the spirit.OK. OK. This is not a new lesson for me. For years, singing has been a form of therapy for me. It calms me down. Lifts my heart. Preserves the lives of those in my path. *wink*I actually learned about a real physical thing that happens in us when we sing. Apparently singing releases endorphins, which make us feel better. I am not a scientist and cannot explain how any of that really works, but I can say this: Singing definitely makes me feel better.So, on to the Lesson for this week.On Wednesday we had a musical guest come in to entertain the residents at Edgewood. He's been with us once before and I invited him back because he has such a warm and engaging personality. The residents absolutely LOVE him. And since Christmas is just around the corner (Eeek! I really need to think about writing our Christmas letter!) Dennis played and sang lots of Christmas songs.As Dennis sang, I was delighted to look around the atrium - and up into the balcony - and see so many residents singing right along with him. We usually have several residents who join in with the singing, but on Wednesday I'd say most of them were singing along. And the smiles on their faces, along with the sparkles in their eyes, gave me a pretty good indication of the condition of their spirits.It was a beautiful sight to behold and confirmed my belief that singing is good for the spirit.************************************************************************************All this talk about singing, coupled with the fact that today's post is number 1111 on this blog, (Click on the 1111 link in the lables if you don't know the reason for my affinity to that number. *grin*) made me decide to do something special. That is, I decided to pick TWO winners for the Kathy Troccoli worship CD give-away. No, you don't need to share - I'll have a CD sent to BOTH of you!And the winners are... Johanna and Ginny. Please email me your mailing addresses and I'll order the CDs for you!
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Have you entered my Christmas give-away? If not, go here to enter. Then come back and read some more.********************************************If boiling means a substance is changing from a liquid to a gas, and melting means it is changing from a solid to a liquid, I'm not quite sure it's possible for something to go from boiling to melting.Except, that is, for this mother's heart within me.On Tuesday I referred to the fact that I had a "moment" with my boys last week. To be perfectly honest, Joshua was the greater of the two offenders. I was quite angry with him. Some might have described me as boiling mad.But later that same evening (The one on which his behavior made me so angry!) Joshua knocked on my bedroom door, came in, and apologized for yelling at me.It was a sincere apology.And the boiling stopped.The next day when I got home from work, I went to my room to change my clothes and saw two unusual things on my bed. A pot of flowers, and an essay. The title of the essay was "My Michigan Hero" and I recognized it as a standard eighth grade Language Arts assignment. Elizabeth had to do the same thing two years ago.But I was
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
I've told you before how much I have been enjoying Kathy Troccoli's worship CD.And I recall saying a time, or two, something like, You really need to get this CD.Truly. Listening to that music is a wonderful worship experience. You are ushered into the presence of God, and led to adore Him. To give Him praise. To delight in His greatness. (No. I am not being paid to say this. It comes from my heart.)So, as I was thinking about you - my dear blog friends - and considering the joy of giving gifts at Christmas, I decided I would give away one of these CDs. If you would like to be in the drawing for this gift, simply leave me a comment saying so. I'll draw the winner Thursday night at 9:00 (EST) and tell you who it is in Friday's post.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Last week I was having a rough time with my boys.As I often do, I vented on Facebook. So much better for my spirit than screaming at the kids! *wink* And as they often do, my Facebook friends supported me with prayer and encouraging words.Love them!!!I must share one of the quotes with you, which was shared with me. Wise words, these are!
The moment you think of giving up, think of the reason you have held on so long.BTW, I am having a giveaway tomorrow. Be sure to stop by!
Monday, December 05, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
All you need is love.OK, how many of you have a Beatles tune running through your head right now? Here's a youtube link: http://youtu.be/r4p8qxGbpOk Go ahead and listen to it, but promise you'll come back to read about this week's lesson! If you've read enough Lessons From the Edge posts, you are probably aware that several residents at Edgewood are my 'favorite'. And you may recall stories about one of those favorites who I call C, and how God has used her to teach me various lessons.Well, C was the instrument for my lesson this week, too.C is a very warm and caring woman. Our usual way of greeting is to hug one another and say, "Good morning, Sunshine!" She really is like a spot of sunshine in my day.One day this week, however, when I hugged C, she held on just a little longer and tighter than usual. After our embrace she said, "Oh, I really need that love today." So I hugged her again and said, "Well, have another one!" And I squeezed her tight.I wish you could have seen the smile on her face at that moment. Beautiful! And with that, she went on to do her other things - bustling about, smiling, and tending to whatever needs she might encounter.And I stood for a moment thinking, Wow. That was easy. I didn't do much, just gave C a hug so she would be reminded I love her.But that was enough. Because, really, all you need is love.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
As I walked to the kitchen in the morning, I nearly tripped over a book on the floor in the hallway. Left there by Matthew.As I entered the kitchen, I admired the clean counter I'd worked to clear the previous night. The only 'extra' thing on it was a bottle of pills. Left there by Joshua.And as I sat down to eat my breakfast - looking at the bottle of pills on the otherwise empty countertop - I thanked God. Not just for my breakfast, but also for the signs of hope my boys had left around.You see, I have a goal. As my boys are growing up, I really want to see them taking more responsibility for themselves. I want to do a lot less
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
You may know that I am currently meditating on Psalm 40:5 ~ Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.And if you were around here last week, you know I have been thinking a lot about the wonders HE has done. It is a delight to think of such things, and I have been loving it.What you may not know is that I have also been reading through John during my quiet times. And I just finished this week. Know what the last verse in John is?Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.Sound familiar?I have found that sometimes God repeats Himself. And when He does, I try to take notice. So I'm spending more time these days asking God to help me see the things He has done. I don't want to miss Him.How have you seen His hand at work in and around you recently?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
We hear plenty of talk about our talk.Choose your words wisely. Think before you speak.Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~Colossians 4:6(That is one of my favorite verses!) And I am in full agreement with that advice. Our words are powerful; able to lift up, or cut down. However, I recently participated in a conversation which convinced me: it is just as important to consider the way we listen.We were talking in small group about the communication we have as married couples. And some of us confessed to getting annoyed with our spouses when we're having an
Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.Pslam 40:5And, yet I will try.To tell of them, that is.Monday I did a study of John 11 with the residents at Edgewood, and we were delighted with what we saw. While Mary and Martha expected Jesus to come to their home and heal their brother, He didn't do that. Jesus stayed where He was. And Lazarus died.It seemed the sisters' plan was defeated. They had lost all hope. We reasoned they were probably confused and quite disappointed with God. And we confessed there have been times when we have felt the same way. When God hasn't moved as we had hoped or expected, and we were disappointed.But if you know the rest of the story, you know Jesus came to town and raised Lazarus from the dead. That was not what they expected!And that's where the delight came. In the realization that God's plans for us are so much greater than our own. We were delighted to know we can trust God, even when it looks like He isn't doing anything. When it seems like He is delaying coming to us.And that is the wonder of which I want to speak and tell: God's plans are perfect. Even when we can't see Him moving, we can trust Him. Because He is perfect. And that's just the way it is!Your turn! Please join me again in telling of His wonders. I look forward to reading about them.***********************************************************I'll be taking a little blog-break for the rest of the week. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! I'll see you back here Monday.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Did you watch my video devotion yesterday?I'm hoping you have been thinking about the wonders God has done in and around you. Noticing His hand and good works. Brimming with excitement to declare them!Because the thing I want to do here for the next two days is to join with you in declaring the wonders He has done. In preparation for Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks to our great God!I'll go first. *wink*I know I have shared with you before the struggles I have with Matthew - trying to get him to do homework, or stay focused, or anything like that. Well, he has a book report coming up and since the last one was an utter failure, we decided to take a new approach this time. The two of us sat down together and made a schedule in his planner. We agreed on dates when he would complete each task, and wrote them down...And the wonder is ~ Matthew is sticking to them! He is reading his book without me telling him to. He is paying attention to the schedule and following it.Some of you may not see the wonder in this event. But, believe me, this behavior of Matthew's is nothing short of a miracle. And I am truly, truly thankful.All silliness aside, I see in this cirumstance: hope. Beautiful HOPE. Though I often get discouraged by Matthew's ADHD and impulsivity, God encourages me every time I see Matthew reading. I am reminded that nothing is too difficult for HIM. My confidence is renewed that God has good plans for my son; that even his craziness can be used for good. And I trust God to make it happen.HIS works are wonderful. I know that full well!OK. Your turn. Tell me one of the wonders God has done in your life!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Some people don't want to hear.I wish it wasn't the case. But it seems to be.There is a man at Edgewood, about whom I've written before, who doesn't have long to live. This past week he learned he has kidney failure, and he has decided not to do anything about it. Our nurse told me people with kidney failure typically live one to three months.My mind went back to the Resident of the Week interview I did with H. I don't remember the question I asked him, but he started telling me that he never really went to church as a kid. That his family wasn't "religious". Then he said, "I don't know why I'm telling you this." I trust it was God, planting a seed in me.A couple days ago H called the office, and I was the one to answer the phone. He just needed help getting a drink out of his refrigerator, so I went up to his apartment. And I trusted this was an opportunity placed in my lap by God, Himself. After I got H his drink, I sat down by his chair. He asked if I had heard 'the news' about his kidneys. We talked about it a bit and then I asked permission to ask him a question. He is a delightful man, and agreed immediately. So I brought up the interview we'd done and asked about his belief in God.H was very clear that "religion" was not part of his up-bringing and therefore has no real meaning to him. He simply was never taught to value spiritual things. In H's mind, religion is a comforter for people, and he said he just never needed the comfort. Besides, he said, he doesn't like the idea that a person should have to choose between heaven and hell. He isn't worried. He knows he's a 'good guy' and is very comfortable with facing death.And that was the gist of our conversation. H was as kind and polite as ever. He acknowledged my faith, and seems to respect it, but thinks he doesn't need it.Even so, he happily agreed to have me pray for him - which I did right there. I prayed then, as I continue to pray now, that God would reveal Himself to H. God knows his heart and He loves H. I know He does! And I am praying God will soften his heart in these final days, that H might be willing to listen. Because it breaks my heart - as I know it breaks HIS - that some people don't want to hear.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Monday morning there was a knock on my bedroom door.Joshua walked in holding a mouse trap - with a dead mouse in it - proclaiming, "I just want to say, my idea worked!"You see, in Joshua's campaign to rid our house and yard of all mice, he has discovered that sometimes those little critters are sneaky and can get the bait without making the trap go off. So, Joshua set out to create the ultimate mouse trap.He thought things through, made a plan, and went to the store for supplies.Armed with a rat trap, paper clips, and duct tape, Joshua made his trap. He used the paper clips and duct tape to create a platform, somehow rigged that up over the spring of the trap, baited the trap, and attached it to the wall. His theory was that a mouse would climb up onto the platform to get the peanut butter, and the weight of the mouse would release the spring. No way the little critter could carefully lick the peanut butter off this time!And he was right. The bar across the back of that mouse proved it.I must admit, I felt a tinge of sorrow for the mouse as I looked at it. But Joshua was so proud of his achievement - so proud he had come up with an idea, put it into action, and been successful - my pity was short-lasting. Instead I saluted the little critter; giving of his life, for the sake of learning. *wink*
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
OK. Seriously. Why do crazy things happen to me when I have speaking engagements?Saturday I was driving up to Gaylord. I was going to spend the night with my mom and dad, and then speak for a group of high school senior girls and their moms on Sunday.I was kinda drowsy so, about 45 minutes into my trip, I decided to stop to get a caffinated beverage.As I moved into the deceleration lane and began to apply my brakes, I was shocked to discover they were hardly there! With my foot pressed all the way to the floor, the van did come to a stop at the light. I pulled into the McDonald's parking lot and heard a terribly loud squeaking noise coming from the back of the van. (I'd had the radio on for the entire trip, so I had no idea if it had been making that noise the whole way.) Because I wasn't sure I'd be able to stop predictably in the drive-thru - and because the squeaking noise was so embarrasing - I parked the van and went inside to get my drink.After I came back out I called Brian to get his input on my plan of action. Do I keep driving to Gaylord, hope for the best, and maybe get new brakes before I return home? (On a Sunday. Yeah. That'll happen!) Do I drive back to Okemos and take Brian's car, leaving him to deal with the van for the weekend? OR, Do I stay put and have someone come fix the van in Ithaca?We decided on the second option. So I started the van and cautiosly made my way back onto the highway. And I prayed, LORD, please keep me safe on this journey! I'd driven for nearly half an hour when I had to get onto a different highway. Realizing I needed to be give myself plenty of time to slow down, I applied my brakes a little early. I was shocked again. This time I felt the brakes. In fact, they were quite strong. I pressed them again to make sure I wasn't imagining things, and there they were - as good as new. So it seemed.When Brian met me with his car, I immediately said to him, "You've got to believe me. My brakes really weren't working!...And now they seem to be." *blush*We agreed that he should take the van anyway. Just in case. And with that, I was on my way back up north.Saturday night I texted Brian to let him know I'd made it safely to Gaylord. And this was his response: "Yea! No problems w/the van...but im sure it was acting up for u. Really."I felt so silly. Though I thought he probably believed me, it just seemed crazy. How could the brakes be working fine one moment, give out the next, and then go right back to working again? *Whatever!*When I got home Sunday, Brian chided me, "The brakes have been working fine all weekend." And when I drove to and from work Monday, they were still great.But you've got to believe me. They really did give out on Saturday afternoon! I know, none of it makes sense. I can't understand it, myself. And the whole thing has led me to only one explanation.HE does brake work.I mean, I'd asked Him to keep me safe on the journey. What better way for a Father to do that, than to give his daughter new brakes??? *wink*
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
He's brilliant!And eloquent.Wish I could have come with it that easily!Do you hear the sarcasm dripping from those statements?Last week Joshua and I were arguing over chores. He was upset about having to do work when he had other things he'd rather be doing. I can so relate! And my ability to relate so well moved me to turn the tables. I began to complain about making dinner every night when I would rather be doing other things. And Joshua came back at me with, "But that's expected." I knew what Joshua meant. I'm the mom and it's simply a given that I make dinner.That's when I realized my son's brilliance. He'd said it perfectly. Just as it's expected - because I'm the mom - that I will make dinner every night, so it is expected - because Joshua is a member of our family - that he will do chores. Yes. That's it!Funny thing is, Joshua didn't seem as impressed with my logic as I was. Go figure! *wink*
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Encouragement comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.I was having a rough morning Monday. Not sure why. I just was really down. And I was having a hard time maintaining the mask I sometimes put on at Edgewood. Yeah. I'm all about being real. But sometimes my job requires me to put on a mask. It's kind of like role-playing. The Activity Director is supposed to be happy. So when Karen isn't, she plays the part. *sigh* So, anyway, I was going through the motions, trying my best to appear pleasant. Like I truly was happy to be there, doing what I was doing. And at just the right moment, (Because that's when God does things.) J saw me, smiled, and held out her arms.J's eyesight is very bad, but when I'm close enough she can see me. She is deaf, but she still talks to me. Her hands are crippled, but she freely holds mine with hers. And her teeth are awful, but she has one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen. So there I was, in the dining room clearing plates or something (short-staffed in the kitchen Monday...), trying real hard to keep my smile pasted on. And I saw J smiling and holding out her arms to me. I promptly went over to her, we hugged, and she kissed my cheek. (She always does!) This time the smile on my face was sincere.And it got even bigger as I thought about the irony of the situation. God was using a half-blind, completely deaf, crippled old woman to cheer me up. He's so clever!Encouragement comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
We have three very big maple trees in our yard. And another one right on the edge.And right now almost all of the leaves have fallen off of them.Sunday I decided it would be a good idea to get started raking the leaves, so I called Matthew out to help me. We raked leaves onto a tarp and I dragged them to the middle of some big pine trees in our yard and dumped 'em there. But we didn't rake all the leaves. It was such a huge task! No way we could have raked them all in one day. But it sure did feel good to make a dent in the project.When I got home from work Monday I called Joshua out to help me rake more leaves. It took him a while to come outside. I got three loads done before he came out to help. *grr* He did finally come out, though, and we raked lots!But we didn't rake all the leaves. It was still a big task. No way we could finish it all then. But I was glad to get more of the job completed.Raking the leaves a (pretty big) bit at a time seemed to be the way to go. Honestly, it is so overwhelming to look at the whole yard covered with leaves and to think about raking it all up at once. But when we break it down to smaller sections and tackle one at a time, it just isn't as scary. And the kids don't complain as much when they're working for 30 minutes as they do when it takes a few hours.So, as of Monday night I figured a couple more episodes of not-raking-all-the-leaves would finish the job for the season. Yet as I sit here typing, I am looking outside at the leaves blowing all over. More specifically, I am watching my neighbor's leaves blowing into my yard. And on the other side of the yard is a tall fence, so rather than continuing on into my other neighbor's yard, they're all stopping right there. *Very funny, GOD!*Oh, well. At least there's a huge pile trapped in the middle of the pine trees which we won't have to rake again. *wink*
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I love it when God uses my interactions with my children to help me understand HIM better.Saturday night Joshua and I got into it with each other. He was giving me all kinds of attitude about his chores, wouldn't listen to me or do what I was asking, and I was angry. He finally yelled at me about being annoying and stomped off to his room.I.was.so.angry! It isn't like I was asking him to do anything that difficult. And he's been driving me nuts lately with his attitude and refusal to obey. I told him (in a very loud voice) that I realize he's a teenager now, he's growing up and desiring independence. BUT, I said, I am still the parent and he is still the child - and he needs to obey. (That's when he yelled at me about being annoying...) I stood then, in the kitchen, feeling like I couldn't wait for the next five years to fly by. Realizing I don't really want it to be that way. In my anger I didn't want to have to deal with Joshua or his attitude anymore. But in my heart I want to love my son and have a peaceful relationship with him.And I prayed God would work in his heart.Within the hour, Joshua came out to where I was and apologized for yelling at me. I could tell from his face and his tone of voice, he was sincere. He says he's "sorry" for things all the time, but you know he doesn't mean it. This incident was not one of those times. And I extended forgiveness to him.In that moment, my heart changed toward Joshua. I truly was not angry anymore. I knew that I love my son, and that would never change. It was beautiful.He went back to his room to do whatever, and I pondered what had taken place in my heart. That's when I realized God had just given me a picture of our relationship with Him. Just like my son's sincere apology brought reconciliation to the two of us, our confession and repentance reconciles us with God. I was no longer angry, and in the same way God turns His wrath away.What a gift that was! I knew the condition of my heart, the way I felt about and saw my son. How much more does God take delight when we return to Him! I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus which makes that reconciliation possible!
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Fishing season is pretty much over and Joshua has found a new interest to
obsess over occupy his time. (Though he does make an occasional trip to the pond with his poles. *grin*)
Monday, November 07, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
A sense of humor lasts a lifetime.Spending time with the folks at Edgewood has given me ample opportunity to hear funny jokes and share laughter. Indeed, though their bodies have grown old, most of the residents hold on to their sense of humor.And this week, one gentleman told me a joke I simply cannot NOT share with you.
An old man went to see his doctor about a problem he was having with his ear."It feels like there's something clogging my ear, Doc. And I can't figure it out."After examining the man, his doctor said, "Oh! I see. You have a suppository stuck in your ear."The man thought for a moment and then chuckled. "Well. I guess that explains what happened to my hearing aid!"R was very proud of himself for telling me that joke. I think he laughed even longer than I did. Perhaps he was laughing at me? *wink*Whatever the case, I don't mind. It just makes me smile to think of the fun people have telling jokes - even when they've been doing it for 70 or 80 or 90 or more years! A sense of humor lasts a lifetime.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Last month I met Melissa Mashburn face-to-face. (I was absolutely delighted to make her acquaintance.) And today she is hosting me on her blog.Please join me over there as we talk about desiring God, through an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy.
Posted by Karen Hossink at 6:00 AM
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
My friend Leah is being intentional about thankfulness. Living Thankful for 30 Days. I love that idea, so today I am linking up with her and focusing on being thankful, too.
It's kind of funny because yesterday - just moments before I read about Leah's thankful journey - I experienced the blessing of being thankful.
I had become very frustrated in the process of getting Matthew up and out the door. Pokey, pokey, pokey. How a person can move so slow and become so distracted, I will NEVER understand! But he made it to the bus stop on time and as I sat down to eat my breakfast I thanked God for that little miracle. I thanked Him for the quiet house and the moment of peace when I could be still. I thanked Him for His faithfulness and goodness to me. I found myself thanking Him for more things which kept coming to my mind. And then I realized something.
I was no longer irritated and full of frustration.
And I think that is the blessing of being thankful. As we focus on God's faithfulness to us; as we look for the things in our lives which are good; as we bless God's heart by giving thanks to Him, HE blesses us by changing ours.
I used to think it was rather hypocritical to try being thankful in the middle of frustration, but now I see things differently. God is good whether my circumstances are making me happy, or not. And when I give thanks, God - in His goodness - changes me. Indeed, Living Thankful is the way to go!
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
If ever I thought something would bring the world to an end, this was it.Joshua walked into the house one day last week in tears. I asked what was wrong but I couldn't understand what he was saying. So I asked again. And I couldn't believe what I heard.Joshua had dropped his phone into a pond while he was fishing. He didn't mean to. He was just putting it into his pocket and thought it was safe, but the phone slipped out, fell onto the dock and quickly slid right into the water. And he was devastated.To fully appreciate this boy's devastation, you need to understand how precious that phone was to him. He'd kept notes on it of all his fishing catches - kinds, lengths, and weights. He had pictures of all the fish he has caught. He had "over 100" contacts. And now it was gone. All gone. Sitting in the bottom of a mucky pond. Though he tried twice to retrieve it with various nets, there was no way that phone was going to be recovered.The poor kid couldn't bring himself to eat dinner. He was absolutely beside himself. And I was torn with how to respond.On the one hand, I wanted to convince him the world was NOT going to end. I wanted to rush in and comfort him and remind him everything was going to be OK. But I knew that wasn't what he wanted to hear at the moment. Joshua seemed to want to just be alone, and though leaving him alone went completely against my nature, I knew that was the thing to do. I just hoped by leaving him alone I wasn't communicating that I didn't care. *sigh*As the evening progressed Joshua began to calm down. The three of us (Brian, Joshua and I) made a plan for how he could get a new phone. And by the time I was saying good-night to him, Joshua was able to say that he wasn't as upset as he had originally been. At that point we were able to talk about the reality that a cell phone in the bottom of a pond does not equate to the end of the world. Joshua had utilized the time alone to reason on his own, and to come to his own conclusion that life would go on. He didn't need me to tell him. He didn't need me to swoop in and save the day.He simply needed that space to think things through.And though I had been a reluctant observer, in the end I sure was glad I'd given him space.Argh. There is no end to the learning curve of motherhood, is there!?
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Look out for one another.In a world where people tend to consider their own interests as of greater importance than anyone else's, it is so refreshing to know women like D.D moved into Edgewood about a month ago. At first she was very timid - not sure where to go, or what to do - but now she seems to have found her place. And it is wonderful to see.D is a helper and an encourager.She is a regular at exercise class and I frequently see her helping other residents, either by handing them a cup of water or helping them adjust their weights.Tuesday I came upon her talking to another resident who has trouble remembering things. D has trouble with that, too, and she was showing this other woman how she keeps track of activities with her calendar. B was so grateful for the idea!And Wednesday when I went into the dining room to make announcements, D called me over to her table. One of the residents who usually sits there was missing, and D wanted me to check on her.That's just the way D is. She is happiest when she's caring for others. Oh, she has her own problems and aches & pains - especially her hip right now - but her greatest concern seems to be the well-being of her friends and neighbors.While some would say we need to look out for Number One, D has chosen a different path. And I, for one, think her path is better. Let us choose to look out for one another.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
So the other night I asked Elizabeth to bring my bag of scrap-booking stuff upstairs. She had been using it to make cards (several months ago) and it just never got returned to me. She went down to get it and came back up a few minutes later.Without it.She asked me, "Mom, did you bring the bag up already? I couldn't find it." We went into my bedroom to look and, sure enough! There it was. On the floor right by my closet. Suddenly, I remembered that I had brought it up a week or so ago when I was cleaning a few things out of the basement. I said, "Oh! Isn't that nice? I already brought it up for you!"Elizabeth rolled her eyes at me and snickered, "You're getting old!"Yeah. I remember when I was a teenager and I thought 40 was old. HA!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My heart has been both heavy and encouraged recently. Heavy for friends who are feeling hopeless in their circumstances, and encouraged because I am reminded that nothing is too difficult for God.This song has been running through my mind and I want to post it for you today. Are you facing a difficult circumstance? Are you feeling hopeless? Please allow me to encourage you to listen to this song - which you've likely heard many times before - and even say/sing the words out loud. There's something about hearing this truth in your own voice... It's a faith-builder!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Friday morning I went into Matthew's room to wake him for school.You need to understand, getting this child out of bed is no easy task. It usually involves two or more visits and "warnings" that it's almost time to get up. I typically end up pulling his blankets off of him (a few times), bringing his feet over to the side of the bed for him, then grabbing his arms and helping him stand up. BTW, I just made that process sound waaaaaaaaay easier than it really is. Well, Friday I decided to kick it up a notch. I started poking him with my toe. I got him in the side, on his head (He had it covered by the blanket.), and even on his hiney. I was laughing, but Matthew - not so much. He said, "Stop it, Mom," and told me he was working on the pursuit of happiness. Staying in bed made him happy. To which I replied that poking him made me happy, and I was pursuing happiness, too! I thought I had him, but Matthew is quick-witted. Even when he's too tired to get up. He immediately told me that pursuing happiness at the expense of someone else's unhappiness is a No-No. And I'm pretty sure he thought he had me. HA!I thought to myself, I can work with that! I said slowly and clearly, "Really? Well, you staying in bed when it's time to get up makes me unhappy. And I get unhappier and unhappier the longer you stay there. So, according to your rules, I guess you better get up!"This time I knew I had him. I pulled the blankets off Matthew once more and dragged him out of bed.Sorry, son. You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on me!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
We have a choice.Honestly! I started doing the Resident of the Week program for the benefit of the residents. I wasn't thinking about me. I wasn't being selfish. Honest!!!Yet, I feel like I am the one who benefits most from the interviews. The joy I receive from meeting with each resident and learning their stories - gleaning from their wisdom - is such a delight to me. It's hard to believe I get paid for this! *wink*This week, I interviewed D. D is 73 years old and is a charming man. He loves to sing and knows just about every song there is! Seriously. He sings along with everything. There is a sparkle in his eyes, and almost always a smile on his face.D also has Cerebral Palsy and is essentially confined to a motor-scooter. He can't read and it is often difficult to understand his speech. He told me about a bike accident he had as a young boy which caused a neck injury and brought an end to many of his physical abilities.D told me the doctor says eventually he'll be paralyzed. And he can see it progressing already. Numbness here and there. Loss of some use in his hands. It was sad to sit and listen to D talk about losing his physical abilities.Yet, even as he spoke, I could still see the sparkle in his eyes.We were almost finished with the interview, and I asked D my final question. "As you think back over your life, what would you say is the greatest lesson you've ever learned?" He looked right at me and said, "I could feel sorry for myself and my problems. But I have chosen to take life one day at a time."Then I understood the sparkle and the smiles. In spite of the suffering. Faced with the option of being miserable or living, D has chosen to live. And so it is with each of us. We all have suffering of varying proportions. We all have the option of feeling sorry for ourselves. But we don't have to. We can live one day at a time, instead.We have a choice.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
My phone rang Monday afternoon as I was walking into McDonalds. (Had to visit their little girls room. *wink*) I knew it was Joshua calling, so I answered the phone. (Not everybody can interrupt nature's call, you know. LOL) And the first thing I heard was, "Are you able to come?"He was at his last cross-country meet of the season and as of that morning I hadn't known if I'd be able to go to it. I needed to find someone to call Bingo for me at Edgewood, and told Joshua if I was able to do that I would come to his meet. So he was just calling to check.I said, "Yes. I just got into DeWitt. I'll be there in a few minutes.""Good! Bye!" (Which is different than, "Good-bye!")And with that, Joshua hung up.I chuckled at his abruptness. But I forgave it quickly - as I considered the minor miracle I'd just experienced.The boy who thinks I am annoying more often than not; the boy who seems to avoid me more than he wants to be with me; the boy who doesn't believe I was ever a teenager who experienced things like he is facing; that boy was glad I was coming to his cross-country meet.When I got to the school I saw Joshua and he came over to talk to me briefly. But then he had to
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I remember when Matthew was in second grade and his teacher was talking to me about troubles with his behavior in the classroom. I was completely overwhelmed with his problems, and trying to figure out
what to do with how to help him. I took everything she said as a judgement upon my mothering abilities. Not because that's what she meant to convey, but because that's the direction my thoughts always went. And I tried unsuccessfully tried to keep a flood of tears at bay.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
You must know by now that my Joshua is an avid fisherman. Well, last Thursday he seemed to be throwing out bait for me - only I wasn't biting.Joshua was in a foul mood from the moment he arrived home from school. He was still stewing over the fact that the dock had been pulled early at his favorite fishing location (He'd found that out the day before.), he didn't want to do the thing our family was going to be doing together that night, and - to top it all off - he couldn't find anything to eat. He walked around opening and closing the refrigerator and freezer and various cabinet doors. (Slamming might be a better description.) Further, he was groaning and complaining as he paced in and out of the kitchen, where I was preparing dinner.Typically when he behaves like that, I tell him to stop slamming things and get control of himself. To which he usually responds, "I'm NOT slamming things!" And the argument ensues.I'd been thinking a lot on Thursday about God being my strength - about Him fighting my battles for me. So I stood in that moment, as my son slammed and stomped and moaned around me, and I prayed. I asked God to take this one for me. Asked Him to fight for Joshua's heart, and to help me just be silent.That's when I made the connection to the fishing thing. I thought, Joshua is tossing me all the bait that usually hooks me into an argument with himself. But I'm not going there today. Joshua, I'm not biting!And I didn't. By the grace of God I was able to remain silent during Joshua's fishing expedition.***********************************************In spite of the small victory in avoiding Joshua's hook, my heart was heavy. I spent the next 24 hours thinking about my son and his behavior. Wondering about the direction of his life. Contemplating what I can possibly do to love him and lead him and encourage him. And God used one of His servants - a friend, and a mom who has 'been there' - to speak truth to me, to encourage my mother's heart. So as I continue to avoid biting Joshua's bait, I will also find comfort in the knowledge that God is fully in control - not me! And I will trust Him to fulfill His promises, and complete the work He has begun in my son.Thank You, Jesus!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
You shouldn't take yourself too seriously.I was looking forward to doing my Resident of the Week interview this week. Because the next person up is H. He is a charming man. Seems very cultured and proper. He knows all about music. And he can sing! He usually wears a button-down shirt and dress pants - often his shirts are monogrammed. In short, H is a classy guy - and I was looking forward to getting to know him more. Our interview started off as I would expect. Childhood memories, the way things 'used to be', an impressive work history - including H's selection for Officer Training School in the United States Navy. But when I asked, "What makes you smile?" I was surprised by his response. H said, "I have my own teeth!" And I started laughing.H went on to say that he was raised in a family with a good sense of humor. He knows it's important to laugh.I finished the interview by asking if there was anything else H thought I should know before writing up his story. He looked at me and said, "I've never been in jail." And he laughed. And as I thought about it more, I was able to recall that for as many times as I have been impressed by H's air of 'cultured', I have been touched by his wonderful belly-laugh. H was a gun captain in World War II. He studied at Princeton and Columbia. He's been in management for big companies. He's even been an upper-level guy at a couple of NATO bases. He is an accomplished man.But he still knows how to laugh, and he knows you shouldn't take yourself too seriously.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Can you picture the dis-interested receptionist in the crowded waiting room working her way through the line of customers, calling out, "Next?" as she finishes with each one? She doesn't seem phased by the long line. Simply does what is necessary for each person and looks ahead to those still waiting. "Next?"I kind of felt like her this past Sunday. Only, rather than dealing with a long line of customers, I was addressing a long line of excuses.I had reminded Matthew that he needed to spend some time reading, but he said he didn't think he had his book home. I responded with something like, "You mean the Percy Jackson book with the yellow cover that is sitting on the table by the couch?" Next?Then I reminded him about his reading journal. He's supposed to keep track of the time he reads, and turn it in to his teacher. But Matthew protested that he'd left the reading journal at school, so it really wasn't worth spending time reading - since he didn't have the reading journal. I told him to write down his time on a separate piece of paper and transfer the information to his reading journal when he got to school Monday. Next?Finally, after he'd read for a while, I suggested that Matthew spend time working on his book report which was due Tuesday. But, alas! That paper was a school, too! I thought, Really? You think this excuse is going to work? Haven't you learned? And I had him do what we knew he had to do, while I emailed his teacher to clarify the part of which he wasn't sure. And - wouldn't you know it - she replied and Matthew had enough information to work on that report.Next?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The LORD God AlmightyWho is HE? He is the Lord of Hosts. The Leader of the fight. Sunday morning our worship leader was talking about the LORD God Almighty and reminded us that - as the Lord of Hosts (That's the literal translation.) - God fights for us. He directs His heavenly army to do battle for us. And our worship leader encouraged us to trust the One who leads the fight for us.In that moment my heart was drawn to the truth I'd just heard. And I began praying, LORD God Almighty, please fight for him!You see, I have a teenage son. And I get scared for him. Right now he is terribly self-centered and self-absorbed. He seems to have almost no interest in the things of God, but only the things of his own pleasure. And I really don't know if it's a 'phase' thing, or a heart issue. I know I cannot force my son to love God. I can only pray and be a model for him. And I do both of those things to the best of my ability. Even so, that makes me feel woefully inadequate.Which is why I think I was so drawn to the image of the LORD God Almighty. The Lord of Hosts, fighting for us. I know God loves Joshua. I know it is His desire that Joshua would love Him back, and follow Him closely. And so I prayed with confidence that God would fight for my son's heart. That HE would do battle with all the things vying for Joshua's affections. Yes, LORD. Please fight for him!Is there someone or something for which you have been battling? You can trust the LORD God Almighty. Call upon him to do battle for you!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As if I need another thing to occupy my mind and fill my dreams.
This weekend Elizabeth accompanied me to the women's retreat at which I was speaking.
It was delightful to have her along. But the most delightful part of the weekend didn't have anything to do with the retreat, itself.
Saturday during our free-time, Elizabeth cozied up to my side and said, "Sometime, you and I should speak at a retreat together." Elizabeth has never expressed an interest in public speaking, so her proposal came as a complete surprise to me. She followed up her comment by explaining that we could maybe speak at a retreat for mothers and daughters about mother/daughter relationships.
I don't think I can adequately express how much that idea touched my heart. I trust it means she is pleased with our relationship - that she would want to tell other moms and girls about it. Besides that, I have admired a mother/daughter team in our church who serve on the worship team together, and thought it would be wonderful for Elizabeth and I to do something like that, too.
But until this weekend I had no idea Elizabeth might share that interest. And now that I know she does? Well, there's another dream rolling around in my head and heart.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Friday, October 07, 2011
If you haven't spent significant time around elderly folks and/or text-crazy teens, I apologize. This post might not be as funny to you. (Read it anyway!)Because my kids are so into texting, and even speak in text-talk sometimes; and because I spend so much time with seniors, this list of 'texting codes for seniors' really made me laugh. Enjoy!BFF - Best Friends FuneralBYOT - Bring Your Own TeethCBM - Covered By MedicareFWIW - Forgot Where I WasHGBM - Had Good Bowel Movement *My personal favorite. LOL!LOL - Living On LipitorLMDO - Laughing My Dentures OutTTYL - Talk To You LouderBTW - Bring The WheelchairWAITT - Who Am I Talking To?WTFA - Wet The Furniture Again It's good to laugh. (Just keep your dentures in!) Hoping this list brought some laughter to your day.And - Many thanks to my funny co-worker for sharing this list with me. *grin*
Thursday, October 06, 2011
...but one day you'll thank me!Oh, dear. I am soooooo annoying my sons!*I'm requiring them to make their lunch BEFORE they go to bed. Because there have been too many mornings when the rush to get to out the door has been crazy. (And I have ended up driving one or two boys to school.)*I call them from wherever they are in the house to come to their bedrooms and turn off their lights - even though I could simply turn it off for them when I walk by.*I vowed to Joshua that I will not drive him to school again because he missed the bus. He needs to plan ahead - and ask me the night before - if he needs a ride to school.*Though I am not their school teacher, I tell them they need to work on projects prior to the night before they're due. Trying to convince them it isn't a waste of time to do work instead of playing.*AND, I won't do their homework for them. Help? Yes. But they like to try to get me to do it. HA! Those things plus my repeated reminders to pick up dirty socks, throw away empty yogurt cartons and snack wrappers, rinse out their ice cream bowls, and empty the trash make me ANNOYING. Maybe. But if they get into the habit of doing these things, I am confident one day they'll thank me for being so annoying. Or, at least their future wives will.*wink*