Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

I don't need to be on stage in order to serve God.

Last weekend was wonderful.
Simply wonderful.
I loved the opportunity to speak, and share my story with other women. But - honestly - my favorite part of each event was at the end, when women came forward to receive prayer. The only way it could have been better is if I was able to personally pray with each one. As it is, I was on stage singing - and praying from a distance.
Even though I was at a distance, my heart was delighted to see women drawing close to God.

When Monday morning came and I was walking into work, I was thinking about what had taken place over the weekend. I prayed, God, thank You, thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your work. Thank You for the opportunity to be used by You in the lives of those women.
I thought about how much I want to do more events like those. Seriously. My heart was (and still is!) longing to do that again, and again.

And then, almost as quickly as that thought came into my mind, God brought me another. He caused me to think about the men and women I was about to see when I walked through the front door at Edgewood. He reminded me they need to experience His love just as much as every woman does who comes to an event where I'm speaking. And while God is able to put me on a stage whenever He wants to, He reminded me that four days a week He already has plans for me at Edgewood Retirement Center.
Perhaps on a couch in the atrium.
Sometimes in the hallway outside someone's apartment.
Often in the Activity Room.
Frequently in the dining room.
But not on stage.

Over the course of this week God has presented me with several opportunities to serve Him at the Edge. I've prayed - with co-workers and residents. I've spoken of His love. I have been His hands and feet. And this is all for HIS glory - not mine!
And through it all, He has reminded me - though the stage is great, and HE does great work when I'm there - I don't need to be on stage in order to serve God.

How 'bout you? Are you recognizing that HE can use you in 'ordinary' circumstances, too?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Honesty is the Best Policy

I try to get my children to tell the truth. Really. I do. But sometimes it seems like I'm getting nowhere. Fast.

Last week after the laundry was finished, Joshua was having a fit. He was absolutely certain he had put two new shirts in the wash, but now they were nowhere to be found.
We looked under beds, behind doors, through everyone else's folded laundry.
The shirts were nowhere.
I was baffled. And Joshua was HOT.

Finally, I had an urge to go look in Matthew's closet. I walked into his room (He was laying in bed. He'd been there for the ten or so minutes the rest of us had been tearing the house apart while looking for the shirts.) opened his closet door, and saw it. Sitting there in the closet was a basket of unfolded laundry. The basket which contained both of Joshua's shirts.
I looked a Matthew and asked, "Did you know this was in here?" (Dumb question, I know.) "Did you know we've been looking for these clothes?" (Yeah. OK. I was full of brilliant questions.) He said nothing. And I just grabbed the basket and walked out.
Joshua was happy, but I was even more baffled.
Did Matthew think he was being funny?
Was he trying to cover up the fact that he hadn't folded laundry, even though he said he did?
Why didn't I look in his closet sooner???

Matthew and I had a conversation about honesty the next day. Not sure how impactful it was. Not sure it solved the problem. But I do know this:
The next time I can't find a basket of laundry, I'm looking in Matthew's closet FIRST. *wink*


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Speaking to My Heart

Last week during our family devotion time, Brian read from John 5 - the testimonies about Jesus. After he finished reading, Brian asked us what we thought about this story. I considered Jesus - discussing the various testimonies about Himself, and the people who didn't believe. And I thought, How discouraging would that be???
Then God used my wonderful husband to speak right to my heart.
Brian said, "I don't think Jesus worried about the results. He trusted God and was faithful in the process."
There I was, watching my wiggly son doing hand-stands as we 'listened' - wondering if any of this message was getting through to his head OR his heart. And then as Brian spoke, it was as if God were saying to me, Karen, don't worry about the results. Don't worry about how your children are going to turn out. That's My deal. I'll take care of it. You need only to trust Me. And be faithful in the process. You do your part. I'll do MINE.

Hmmmm. Is HE speaking to anyone else's heart with these words today?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Billboard Will Do

So, shortly after Ronel and I recorded yesterday's video, it was time to get me to the San Diego airport. I was flying to Sacramento Saturday afternoon so I could speak in Fair Oaks that evening.
As we got onto the highway we saw lots of cars, and realized the highway was closed ahead. Too late to do anything about it, we had to go through very slow traffic. Ronel knew just the route we could take to get to the airport once we made it off the highway, but it was going to take a while to get to the exit.

No need to worry, right?

God could handle the delay.

It wasn't a surprise to HIM.

Even so, I kept looking at the clock - re-figuring how many minutes I had to spare to make it on time. (Ever since I missed a flight out of Tampa, I have been very intentional about being early to an airport.) I knew God was in control. But I couldn't help thinking, What if I miss this flight? There's no other way I'll make it to Sacramento on time tonight!
I wanted to be calm. Wanted to trust. So I prayed.
And as I sat in the car, surrounded by slow traffic, praying - God, I know You can do this. Please get me to the airport on time, I looked out the window and saw a billboard for an inn down the road.
Know what it was called?
Relax Inn.
Yes. Right out my window in all CAPS I saw RELAX on a billboard. Then I heard in my mind the words Ronel had just spoken in the video we recorded, "He's got this." And I knew God was speaking to me. So I told Him, Yes, LORD. I understand. You've got this. And I need to RELAX.

Sometimes I have been known to ask God to show me a neon sign. But Saturday I found myself thinking, A billboard will do, God. Thanks!

Oh, and I did make it to the airport on time. With a huge smile on my face, and joy in my heart for the way God had just shown Himself to me. *grin*


Monday, January 24, 2011

A Moment with Ronel

Had a great time in California last weekend!
And today I am glad to welcome Ronel Sidney to share some thoughts with you about trusting God.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Skipping Class - To Ask for Prayer

There will be no 'Lesson from the Edge' today. Go ahead and close your books - we're skipping class.


I am on my way to a couple of special events and I would like to take this time to ask for your prayers. Tonight I will be speaking for a group of moms in San Diego, and Saturday I'll be speaking again in Fair Oaks. At both of these events, I will be presenting the gospel and inviting women to come forward for prayer. I have been on my knees for the women who will be attending - asking God to prepare their hearts, and to speak through me.
It blesses me to know HE already knows. Everything. God knows who will be at each of these events. He knows their names, their hearts, their hurts, their needs. He knows what they need to hear, and I trust He's going to speak.
Will you please join me in praying for HIS will to be done? And that HE would thwart all the plans our enemy has - which he will certainly try to enact to keep women from coming and hearing. We have victory in JESUS, and I am excited to be God's instrument of grace and hope to these women this weekend. Thank you for praying!

The FUN part of this weekend is that I get to meet three - yes, THREE - blog friends! Ronel is the coordinator for the San Diego event, and I'll be spending the night at her house tonight. And KM and Stephanie are coming to San Diego hear me speak. It's going to be a blast!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Don't 'Text'

I have had a cell phone for years, but it wasn't until several months ago that I had the ability to do text messaging. I mean, on my old phone I could receive texts, but I didn't know how to reply. And texting wasn't even part of my calling plan, so I didn't care.
But when I got a new phone I chose one with the slider thing-y, so I have a full keyboard. And we have 'unlimited' texting on our new plan, so now I'm having fun sending text messages.

Only, the other day I realized - I don't 'text'.

Brian was sending a message to a friend, and I was watching. I saw things like "im" and "ur". And there were no punctuation marks.
When I send messages, I use appropriate capitalization and punctuation. Partly because I don't know all the texting short-cuts. Partly because I can't break old habits. And I suppose it's also because I'm afraid of contributing to the re-writing of the American language.
Seriously, how far are we from replacing "your" with "ur" and "be" with "b" in the dictionary?
Who am I kidding?
No one uses the dictionary anymore, anyway.

OK. Getting off my soapbox. *grin*

I teased Brian about his new use of the language. He laughed at my attempts to be 'with it' while refusing to fully assimilate. (That was for you, Leah!) And the next time I picked up my phone to send a message, he asked, "Oh, are you texting? I mean emailing with your phone?"

*Wise guy*


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moments Like This

I have good moments.
When the kids and I are getting along nicely. When everyone is doing what they should. We're having fun and no one is 'annoying' anyone else.
I like those moments. It's fun being a mom in moments like those.

And then there are moments like this.
When I tell Joshua he isn't allowed to shoot his air-soft gun in the house. (Not a new rule!) He says it's a stupid rule, and I say it's a rule whether he thinks it's stupid, or not. He carries on a bit more, then says I'm annoying.
I remain calm, though inside I'm thinking, I'm annoying? Son, look in the mirror! And I walk out of his room.
I wonder how much of this I should take from him. How much is normal teenage-push-mom-away-gotta-separate-myself-from-her kind of stuff? And how much is blatant disrespect which I need to not tolerate? I just don't know where that line is, and in moments like this I want to throw my hands up in the air and say, I quit!
But in moments like this, I also remember the words of a dear woman at Edgewood (93 years old) who told me one day - with tears in her eyes - the greatest thing her son ever said to her is, "Mom, thanks for never giving up on me." And I hold onto hope that one day I'll hear those same words.

I hold onto HOPE, trusting HIM to give me the strength to not give up in moments like this.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year Reflections

OK. So most bloggers have written their New Year Reflections posts already.
Yes, I realize January is more than half over.
Hey, I've never claimed to be on the leading edge of 'with it'. (I do wear Mom Jeans you know. *wink*)
But, alas, here I am. Sharing my New Year Reflections with you.
I sat on January first with God and my journal, and remembered the year gone by. I remembered His presence through the past twelve months, and marveled at how much happened - which I could never have predicted; which I didn't understand; but with which I knew I could trust Him.
And I finished my reflection with this:

LORD, I have no idea what's going to happen in 2011. No idea regarding work, family, speaking, or writing. I just don't know.
But I know YOU do.
And I am surrendering to Your good and perfect will, LORD. I trust You to take me where You want me to go; to open and close doors as You know is best; to show me what you want me to see and to make me who You want me to be.
I am Yours, LORD, completely Yours.
Trusting, obeying, surrendering to YOU.

And that's when I realized God had given me a new word for 2011. In 2009 the theme for my life seemed to be TRUST. In 2010 it was OBEY. And as I looked at what I'd just written I became convinced this is to be the year of SURRENDER for me.
Knowing I can TRUST God to do what is best, choosing to OBEY His plan and not make my own, I willingly SURRENDER to His good and perfect will.

Hmmmm. If I were a betting girl, I'd say the next word is going to be PEACE. Seems the logical progression, don't you think?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

Stop a minute, and listen.

OK, friends. I won't lie. I love my job.
I just hate working.
I'm having a very hard time trying to balance my time and responsibilities; trying to determine what's important and what I need to let go; trying to accept that
Many people who've 'been here' tell me it takes time. I'll adjust. Everyone will adjust. And we'll all be better for it in the long run. And I'm sure that's true. But...
But sometimes I find myself wondering if it would be better for me to quit. I feel like I'm not 'good enough' to be a mom, wife, homemaker AND employee. (Who am I trying to kid? I know I am not good enough to be any single one of those things! So glad the grace of God is ENOUGH!)

Well, I had one of my bad days Sunday (read that: I was on the edge of tears all day) and when I went into work Monday, my eyes were kinda puffy and I was tired. To say I was doubting myself would be an understatement. But as I was walking around the building, God got my attention.
I saw G (another one of my favorite residents) and stopped to say 'Hello'. She gave me an update on her granddaughter, for whom we have been praying, and then she went on to tell me how glad she is that I'm working at Edgewood. She said she loves the Bible study we do. She said a bunch more things, which I won't repeat at the risk of sounding like I'm bragging. The point is - as I stood there holding G's hand, hearing her say all these wonderful, encouraging words - I had to look to heaven and ask God if He was speaking to me through that dear woman.

I believe HE was. I believe God was confirming to me that HE brought me to Edgewood. HE is working through me there. HE has a perfect plan, and this circumstance is part of it. And in the midst of all that, God convinced me again - HE is going to help me through the struggle. I am going to see HIS perfect faithfulness, if I simply trust, obey, and surrender to HIM.

Oh, what wonderful things we hear when we stop a minute, and listen.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mom Jeans

OK, so I have this little problem. I can never find jeans which fit me the way I like. And it drives me nuts. I mean, I have jeans that are about a hundred years old which fit the way I like. But they, well, they're kind of worn out!

So after one of my recent shopping failures trips, I was sharing my woes with my husband. "Honestly! I can fit my fist in the back of each pair of jeans I try on. WHO is shaped like that??? And why can't they build a bit more leg room into jeans these days? I like them a little baggy."
At this point in the rant conversation, my daughter piped up. "Well, uh, you don't have to keep wearing 'Mom Jeans'."
"'Mom Jeans'?" I replied. "What's wrong with my jeans?"
She didn't answer. (Smart girl. *wink*)
It was Elizabeth's comment, and encouraging words from a few friends, which convinced me I probably ought to start looking for another style of jeans. But I kept hearing myself say, Low-rise, skinny jeans? Really??? However, I reasoned the low-rise option would eliminate the gaping waist issue. So I was willing to give it a try.

Fast-forward a couple weeks.

I was out shopping again and could hardly believe it when I found TWO pair of jeans that fit me well. The waist was just the way I like it. Not low-rise, and not gaping in the back. And the legs? Well, they were quite snug but I got the approval of another woman in the dressing room. And I figured, Hey, at least they don't look like my 'Mom Jeans'.
So I bought them and left the store, as happy as a kid in a candy shop.
The next day I was excited to show them to my daughter and son. (Joshua had joined Elizabeth in the 'Mom Jeans' evaluation mentioned above.) I said, "Do you like my new jeans?" as I walked the imaginary runway in the kitchen. And I received approving nods from both of them.
Had I really just crossed the line to 'with it' in my kids' eyes? This made me so happy!
But then I asked the wrong question. I said, "So, what is it that makes jeans 'Mom Jeans'? Is it the baggy legs?" They both stared at me with a look in their eyes that said, 'Duh!' and told me - No. The thing that makes 'em 'Mom Jeans' is the waist that doesn't show your underwear sits above your waist.
Then I guess I'm still wearing 'Mom Jeans'.
But they fit me, and I like them. And my kids don't have to wear them. And I'm a Mom. So it's OK for me to wear 'Mom Jeans', right?

Besides, they really look cute. :o)


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Amazing? ...Or Cheap?

You make the call!

Last week I was washing my face before I went to bed, and my husband told me I'm amazing. (And not because he was putting the moves on. *wink*) He said I was amazing because of my ability to use ALL my cleanser.

See, I started off with a tube of cleanser like this:

And now the one I'm using looks like this:
Because I did this:

You see, I squeeze and press that tube until I can't get any more cleanser out of it. But once - when I was about to throw the "empty" tube away - I thought, What if there's more in there which I just can't get to come out?
So I grabbed my scissors and cut the end off the tube. And I was shocked at how much cleanser was still in there! Seriously - like at least a week's worth.
So now, when it seems the tube is empty I cut the end off and use the cleanser that's still in the end of the tube for a couple days. Then I cut another inch or two off the end of the tube and get a couple more days of cleansing in. Finally, I make one more cut and spend another week or more using all the cleanser which is still by the opening of the tube.
Can you see all that?
Yep, that's what I do. Use my cleanser for nearly two weeks after the tube seems to be empty. All this time I simply thought I was making Grandpa Hossink proud (Those of you familiar with the stereo-type of Dutch frugality will understand. *wink*) but now I've come to discover my husband thinks I'm amazing.
Hmmm. Amazing, or cheap?
What do you think?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Had a Choice to Make

Oh, how I love God's timing.
And His grace toward me.
Did you read last Friday's post, about stepping back and being quiet? Well, just after I finished writing it, I was getting dinner ready. And in the process of looking for the cutting board I discovered that Joshua had not unloaded the dishwasher yet that day.

Did I mention I was getting dinner ready?
This chore should have been done HOURS before.

Other times when this oversight has occurred, I have called Joshua to the kitchen and put him to work right away. But on this particular day, he was gone. So I had time to grumble think about how I was going to address him when he came home.
My first instinct was to express my frustration. I wanted to make Joshua aware that I was tired of him forgetting to do his chores. Wanted to remind him that unloading the dishwasher every morning has been his job for years, and there really is no excuse for not doing it.
I thought of lots that I could say to get my point across.

Then I thought about the blog post I'd just written.

And the wisdom of that woman who has 'been there.'

And I realized I had a choice to make.

When Joshua walked through the door I could lay into him about not doing his chores correctly. I could attack him with my words so he would never forget to unload the dishwasher again hate me. And then I could deal with the fight which would certainly ensue.


I could step back and be quiet. I could tell Joshua to unload the dishwasher, and leave it at that.

I chose the latter.

Do you know what happened?
The dishwasher got unloaded. There was no yelling or slamming or broken dishes. No one got mad at another person, or raised their voice in anger. Joshua just put the dishes away, and that was that.

Sure, I want him to do his chores in a timely manner. I know he knows what's supposed to be done. But, in reflecting on my conversation with P, I realized my relationship with my son is so much more important than when the dishes get put away. And if I had to do it again, I would make the same choice.
Actually, I'm sure I'll have to do it again. Many times. And I hope I'll remember this lesson I've learned.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Friday, January 07, 2011

Lessons from the Edge

Step back and be quiet.

One of the fun things I'm doing at Edgewood involves taking a resident out for dessert. Each month I put something in the newsletter that requires a response. And everyone who responds gets their name in a drawing - with the 'prize' being that I will take them to the restaurant down the street and buy them dessert.
When I came up with this little idea, I intended for it to be something fun and special for the residents, but I'm finding that I benefit from it, too. (I mean, beyond the caramel apple cheesecake! *wink*) An hour of uninterrupted one-on-one time with a senior citizen is full of little treasures. And last week my treasure came in the form of parenting wisdom.
As I sat across the table from P asking her about her family, I learned that she had raised three sons and a daughter. I think I probably rolled my eyes when I told her I am just about to enter the teen years with my first son. And I'm a little lot scared.
With a voice full of wisdom and experience P simply told me to step back and be quiet. She understood my propensity to want to nag talk to my son until he 'gets it', but she assured me I will experience a lot more peace in my relationship with him if I go against my instincts.
I'm learning more and more to value the wisdom of those who have "been there" and as I listened to P sharing these words with me, I knew she was giving sage advice.

*big sigh*

Joshua will be 13 in just six days. I'm gearing myself up to face these years with courage, and the wisdom of those who have gone before me. And - besides prayer - I think my main M.O. will be to Step back and be quiet.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

And the winners are (from yesterday's give-away):
The 2011 Dream Calendar goes to Sara.
The Kathy Troccoli CD goes to KM. (And, yes, I will hand deliver it! *grin*)

And, now, back to our regularly scheduled post...
Christmas time this year meant traveling for my family. The weekend before Christmas we were with my husband's family, and we spent the days prior to Christmas up north with my family.
It was so much fun getting together with everyone. My sister and her family - who live in North Carolina - were there. And my little brother (I love calling him that!) and his fiancée - who live in Boston - were there. As well as the rest of the family - who live in Michigan, but who I still don't get to see as often as I'd like. We played games, ate good food, laughed a lot, reminisced, and cried some, too.
However, even though I was glad for the good times, I was sooooo glad to get back home. My own place. My own schedule. My own shower. My own bed! (I'm sorry, but some sofa-beds just should not be allowed to be called a bed. *groan*)
It just felt good to be in my Home, Sweet Home.

Have you ever longed for Home?
And now I'm talking about heaven - our eternal Home.
This thing I went through over Christmas reminded me that - while my bed is comfy - my REAL home is not on this earth. Although there is much joy to be had right here - unspeakable joy awaits me in my REAL Home.
And I find my heart longing for that Day.
For that Reunion.
For Home, sweet Home.

I'm smiling as I think about it, and I hope you can take some time to anticipate it, too.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

'G' is for Give-away!

Do you have a 2011 calendar yet?
If not, then I have one for you. (Or you can click here to buy your own Dream Calendar!) When I bought my Dream Calendar, I actually bought two - because I wanted to give one away here on my blog.
Soooooo, if you would like this calendar, just leave me a comment saying so.

Now this next thing is more like re-gifting than a true give-away. But I think you'll be OK with that, right? *wink*
See, last month I got an email from Kathy Troccoli. (OK, it wasn't really from her, but it's fun to say that. *grin*) The email was an offer for three of her CDs for Christmas. I already had one of them, but I wanted the other two. So I dropped a very obvious hint to my dear husband, and guess what I got for Christmas???
Well, I really don't need this CD because I already have it. So, I'm re-gifting it giving it away.
Would you like it? (Silly question. You're going to LOVE IT.) Just say so in the comments.

I'll pick a winner before I go to bed tonight (10pm EST if all goes well.) and will announce the winner tomorrow morning. Please be sure to leave your email address if it isn't automatically linked to your comment. Thanks!


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

La, la, la. I'm NOT Listening!

If you read the title of this post and are concerned that I may be falling back to childish ways of communicating, fear not!
My statement of protest is aimed at my enemy, the Devil, and no one else.
You see - although I didn't realize it at the time - a couple of weekends ago I listened to his lies, and I have since determined NOT to listen to him anymore.

We had gathered together with my husband's side of the family to celebrate Christmas when it happened. When I found myself in a downward spiral of thoughts which said I'm not good enough and I'll never measure up.
Throughout the weekend, I frequently excused myself so I could go into the bathroom and cry. And I hardly spoke to anyone. (Because when I'm in that state of mind? Whenever I talk, I start crying. Yeah. I'm pathetic. *sigh*)
When we got home I finally let it out and told my husband - through tears, of course - what had been going on inside of me. Shortly after that, our small group came over and I poured out my heart to them, too.

What a blessing it is to have godly friends who HE uses to speak truth to us!

One friend said it sounded to her like Satan had been feeding me lies all weekend. As they prayed for me, another friend mentioned Satan's tactics for taking us out of commission - and asked God to protect me. And when the prayer time was over, Brian said he realized that's just what had happened - Satan had taken me out that weekend.
He is my enemy, he has studied my weaknesses, he knew right where to hit me, and it worked.
Because I listened.


I'm NOT listening anymore!

Been carrying this around in my pocket lately, and whenever my enemy tries to attack, I'm fighting back with the TRUTH.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

How about you?
Are you listening to lies, or rehearsing the Truth?
Let's hold fast to our Savior, and listen to HIM only.

P.S. Be sure to stop by tomorrow. I have a couple of items I'm giving away. *grin*

Monday, January 03, 2011