Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Break!

This has been quite a week.
I suppose because I've been getting ready to be gone for a week.
My family and I are taking a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach. My sister has a condo there, and we get the 'friends and family' rate.
Uh, that would be a $45 cleaning fee.
That price will totally get me past the 18 hour drive. *wink*

I really need this vacation. I am sooooo looking forward to not setting my alarm before I go to bed. *peaceful sigh*
But that does mean I won't be here in blogland, either.
In fact, I've made an executive decision that I'm going to take an extended break from the blog. I know myself well enough to know that when I get home I'm going to be busy trying to get things back in order - at home and at work - and to try to fill a week's worth of blogging will send me over the edge. (My new meds are helpful, but they aren't that good! *wink*)

Soooo, my dear friends, as much as I love you (I really do!) I am bidding you farewell until April 18.
When I get back, my daughter will be 15, and my husband will be 40! (I remember when 40 used to sound 'old' to me. *wink*)

Oh, and because tomorrow is April Fool's Day, I do feel obligated to provide you with this link - in case you don't have dinner plans yet.

Love to you,


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Does This Have to be So Hard?

Have you ever asked that question?
About parenting?
About marriage?
About any other struggle you're facing?

I know I have!

My small group is currently watching and discussing a video series about marriage by Paul Tripp, and Sunday night we had a great discussion about this question.
In the video, Paul was talking about God using marriage as a means of sanctification. As part of the process of making us more Christ-like. He said God will bring us to the end of ourselves so we realize we need Him. So we will remember we cannot 'do this' on our own.
And in our discussion which followed the video we came to the agreement that if 'this' wasn't so hard, we would never come to the end of ourselves. If all our circumstances were easy and light, we might think we can handle life just fine on our own. We might forget our desperate need for the LORD of the universe. In our blissful enjoyment of the ease, we might miss God.

And that would be tragic.

Not to mention the fact that we would be shallow creatures, who would break at the first sign of struggle.

So, what is your agent of sanctification? What is the struggle God is using in your life to make you more like Jesus?
For me, it is clearly parenting. And I think He may be using the whole 'working outside the home' thing, too. Every day as I struggle with these issues I realize my desperate need for God's grace. I see Him softening my heart, and strengthening my resolve to follow Him. To mimic Him. To be more like Jesus.

And so HE brings me to a point where I can truly be thankful for the hard times. Because He is using them for my good.

Something to think about today!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Son Cares...

...I think.

Every day when I'm doing my hair I take some styling wax and twist my bangs into little sections. It looks rather silly, but after I tease it with a comb - well, I think it looks fine.
So, last week Joshua had to ask me a question and came into my bathroom when I was doing that twisting thing. He looked at me and said, "Uh, Mom? Why are you doing that?"
I explained that I wouldn't be leaving my hair that way, and he seemed satisfied. He asked his question, and left.
And I thought, Isn't that sweet? Joshua cares about how my hair looks. He doesn't want me to embarrass myself by looking like a dork.

Yeah. That, or he doesn't want me to embarrass him by going out in public looking like a dork.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Take Him at His Word

BTW, I am reading from chapter 14 of John.
Forgot to mention that little detail. *sheepish grin*


Friday, March 25, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

Music is good for the soul.

I've always know this statement is true. It is not a new lesson for me. But this week at Edgewood, I have seen it played out in living color and it has been a delight.
Last weekend a baby grand piano was delivered and it sits prominently in the atrium.
The piano is right about in the place of those two small couches. And let me tell you, music has been filling the air. Residents are playing. Our Director is playing. We're having spur-of-the-moment hymn sings. People gather in the atrium, as well as around the balcony upstairs.
It's beautiful.
And what really touched my heart was in Bible study this week, when we were closing in prayer. One woman thanked God (through tears) for the new piano and the joy the music brings to her life.

It's like I said, Music is good for the soul.


P.S. Congratulations to Renee, winner of the From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest Bible study!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's All About the Motivation

If you have children in your life - goodness, if you have anyone in your life - I'm sure you know how hard it can be to get them to do the things they need to do.
Around here, mornings can be a challenge. They don't want to get out of bed. They'd rather play games, text, or watch TV than get chores done. Blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
So, Wednesday morning I was a bit surprised to hear Joshua up and getting in the shower at 6:20. (I usually remind him to get up before I take Elizabeth to school at 6:35.) And I was startled by the knock on my bedroom door at 6:31. It was Joshua - showered and dressed - asking if he could come in. I said, "Sure," and he popped his head in the room asking, "Can I have my phone back?"

Aha! Suddenly it all made sense.
He had emptied the dishwasher Tuesday night before going to bed.
He got up when his alarm went off and got right into the shower.
Because he wanted his phone back as soon as possible.
It was as clear as a bell to me.

You see, that boy and his phone are like peanut butter and jelly, like Laurel and Hardy, like Jack and Jill. You can't have one without the other.
But Monday night Joshua spoke to me in a rude and disrespectful manner. And the consequence we've established for that behavior is - the phone is gone. For the rest of that day, and all of the next.
And since Joshua wanted his phone back as soon as he could get it Wednesday morning he made sure to do all the things he needed to do before he would be able to have it.

I am truly hopeful that Joshua's desire to not lose his phone will motivate him to chose his words and behavior more carefully. More than that, I pray his attention to behavior will create a heart-change in him.
In the mean time, I think I'll enjoy these mornings when he's trying to earn his phone back. Cuz that motivation makes life easier for me. *wink*


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Legacy Bible Study Giveaway

My IRL friend, Leah Adams, recently published a Bible study called From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest, Creating a Godly Legacy, and she is providing a copy of it for me to give away to one of you!
I enjoyed following Leah's journey in writing this study and have been encouraged by the things she has shared about it. She isn't afraid to ask tough questions - requiring us to be honest and think about the legacy we're creating, which we'll also be leaving.
Please use the link above to read more about this Bible study. Then come on back here to enter for the give away. Just leave a comment saying you'd like to be included in the drawing. I'll draw the winner around about 10pm (EST) Thursday and make the announcement in Friday's post.

Thanks, Leah, for your generosity!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Overcoming Anxiety

So, Saturday afternoon Joshua said he wanted to hang out with his friends - which was fine. But as I looked at the clock I realized he only had an hour until he should be home to get ready for dinner, and when I told him so he was not happy. He wanted to hang out with his friends and come home when he was hungry. Just wanted to eat dinner...when he wanted.
And that didn't sit well with me. I have always heard that families should eat dinner together. And I have been obsessive committed to having us eat together.
So I said, No.
And that didn't sit well with Joshua. He said something about wanting a break from eating with the family, and I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything I would later regret.

With that, Joshua went to be with his friends.

A short while later I got a phone call from Joshua, asking if he could eat pizza at his friend's house. My first thought was, No. Joshua should come home and eat with us, because families should eat dinner together.

But then I remembered a few things.

*When I was a teenager I enjoyed many meals with my friends and their families.
*Joshua is growing up and I need to give him more independence.
*When I met my therapist last week, one of the things she told me about myself is that I probably say/think 'should' an awful lot. Recalling my thought processes about this dinner thing reminded me how right she was!

I talked to the father of Joshua's friend and he said he'd just bought pizza. There was plenty to share and Joshua was welcomed to stay. As I considered his invitation and the points I'd just remembered, I decided I ought to relax.
You see, it is very comfortable for me to operate based upon 'should', and to try to have control over everything. It's comfortable, because it's the way I've been operating for the past 39 years. But I'm learning it is this way of thinking which fuels my anxiety.
And I want that to change.
I need that to change.
My family needs that to change.
And by the grace of God, I believe change is possible.

I am not saying I'm going to throw all sense of order out the window. But I am certain I want to overcome this anxiety and depression, and I realize the healing is going to involve a change in my way of thinking and behaving.
I believe it's all a part of my refining.
And I'm willing.
To recognize my unhealthy ways of thinking.
To re-learn behaviors.
To relax.
To surrender to whatever God wants to do in me.

And I'm so glad I have good friends like you with whom I can share this journey.


I'm doing a giveaway tomorrow for this Bible study. Be sure to stop by!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods

***I'm hosting a giveaway on Wednesday. Be sure to come back for it!***


Friday, March 18, 2011

Lessons from the Edge

You've got to ask the question.

Oh, friends, I am so excited!
Do you remember me telling you about D - one of my favorite residents - who was in the hospital a while ago with a broken rib? I told you that I had been talking with D about God's love for him, visiting him in the hospital and praying with him. I know some of you were praying for D, too. *Thanks!*
Well, D has been back at Edgewood for a couple of months now. And we have been continuing our 'argument' that God does, in fact, love D. I even got him to come to Bible study a few weeks ago. (I *might* have bribed him by telling him that I was going to be singing.)
So, Monday C (Remember her? I wrote about her last week.) and I were talking with D, and the conversation quickly turned to Jesus. Love it when HE does that! I was telling D that all he needs to do to be forgiven and have a relationship with God is to believe that Jesus paid for his sins, and to ask God to forgive him and make him new. I said, "It's really that simple."
This wasn't the first time we'd had this conversation, and I felt God prompting me to keep going. I felt Him saying, Ask the question.
So I did.
I said to D, "Do you want to pray right now and ask Jesus to come into your life as your Forgiver?"
And D? Said, "Yes"!!!!

So the three of us - D, C, and I - stood in the hallway holding hands as I lead D through a prayer of confession and acceptance of salvation.

It was a beautiful thing!

And it reminded me, you can talk and talk - and giving testimony is good - but you've also got to ask the question!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Around the Dinner Table

Last Friday, Elizabeth's boyfriend and one of her girlfriends had dinner with us. And after dinner we sat around the table playing games and laughing. The best game, by far, was the Fruit and Vegetable Game.
Try this: cover your teeth with your lips and try talking. Say 'celery'. And 'rutabaga'. Now try 'potato'. Sounds rather silly, doesn't it?
The way this game works is each person chooses a fruit or vegetable to 'be' and the talk around the table works like this: one person starts by naming their self and saying "to" another person. (i.e. "celery to potato")Then potato would say something like "potato to banana", and on it goes. The trick is, if you show your teeth you're out. And you'll find it is particularly difficult to laugh while keeping your teeth covered up with your lips.
In the end, you'll all be sitting around the table sounding ridiculous as you try to talk with your lips over your teeth, laughing until your stomach hurts.
We loved it, and I'm looking forward to the next time my kids have friends over for dinner!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

90-second Lesson

Sometimes it takes a while for God to teach me something.
I don't always like that. *Read that: I don't like waiting.*
Er, if I wasn't so stubborn and thick-headed, maybe it wouldn't take so long.

The other day, however, God spoke to me about an important lesson in 90 seconds!

I was doing planks as part of my workout and, since I just discovered I have a stopwatch on my phone, I was timing myself. During the first set, I held the plank for 60 seconds. The second time through, I held it for 75 seconds. The third time? I went for 90.
To keep myself from agonizing over the time, I decided to sing (In my head, that is. I cannot sing for real during a plank!) the first stanza and chorus of "How Great Thou Art," and wouldn't look at the stopwatch until I was finished. That turned out to be a good move. Took me to 75 seconds. *grin*
As I watched the final 15 seconds count off, my arms were shaking and I really wanted to be done. But I was able to talk myself into holding on juussst a liiittle looonnngerrr.
And when the timer said 1:30, I dropped.
I whispered to God, Thank You for helping me hold on 'til the end.
I was so pleased with myself for not giving up.
Even when I really wanted to.
And then it was as if HE whispered to me, I'll always help you hold on 'til the end. No, darling, I - Myself - will hold you 'til the end. I will be with you through every trial. Every struggle. Every pain. Every hard time. And when you feel like giving up, just remember how good it feels to finish. With Me!

*contented sigh*
I wonder what the lesson would be if I ever ran a marathon!
Soooooo kidding. I am NOT going there. *wink*


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Too Fun Not to Share

OK, so here's some personal information you really don't need to know, but it's crucial to this story...
Elizabeth and I have almost identical underwear.
Except hers is the low-rise kind, to go with her low-rise jeans. Well, and except that hers are a smaller size than mine. (I always feel flattered when someone puts her undies in my laundry pile. LOL) Nonetheless, they look the same to the guys in the house and, therefore, often get mixed up on laundry days.
So, the other night when I was saying goodnight to Elizabeth, I saw a pair of my undies on her dresser and picked them up.
Elizabeth said, "Oh, yeah. I was going to give those back to you."
Me: "Yeah. I know you just want my high-waisted underwear."
Elizabeth: *giggle*
Me: "Just leave my jeans alone."
Remember the Mom Jeans bit?
Elizabeth: "Uh, that won't be a problem."

I haven't laughed so hard with her in a long time!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lessons from the Edge

Holding hands is nice.

It's so interesting to watch the men and women at Edgewood interact with one another. While some are very needy, others are so very willing to be the care-givers. One woman in particular, can often be found pushing someone around in a wheelchair, or talking to a lonely soul, or looking after a variety of other needs. She's a sweetheart! (One of my favorite residents, no doubt!)
"C" has long been concerned about the well-being of her dear friend, "M". I often see the two of them together and hear C trying to encourage M to cheer up, or look up, and certainly to not give up.
But this week I saw something I haven't seen before.
The two of them walking around holding hands.
C lead M all around, talking to her about the things they could do and commenting on various things they saw as they meandered. It was charming. :o)
Well, one day the two of them were walking down the hall ahead of me and paused as I caught up to them. They stepped aside to let me pass. But I stopped, too. And held out my hand to M. I said, "If you don't mind, I'd like to hold hands and walk with you, too."

So that's what we did. The three of us held hands and walked down the hall.

No deep conversations.
We didn't solve any of the world's problems.
Didn't even solve any of our own problems.

We just walked a bit and held hands. And that was lovely.

Because holding hands is nice.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Desperate Mom, but Not Despairing

Before I had children, if someone would have told me how desperately I would struggle with motherhood, I'm not sure I would have joined this club.
What if someone had told me I would feel completely at a loss for what to do?
What if I'd known how hard it would be to make the right decisions, to teach responsibility, and to impart self-control?
What if somehow, someone was able to show me what it was going to be like to feel desperate for wisdom and understanding, completely aware that I am not able to handle this mothering thing on my own?
Oh, if that all happened before I had children? I don't think I would have had them.

On the other hand...

What if someone had told me all that stuff, and followed it up with the explanation that my struggle, my fears and uncertainties, my utter desperation would drive me closer to the heart of God?
What if they said God would give me hope in the midst of the struggle as He showed Himself faithful to me? Over and over again.
What if someone told me my faith in God would soar - as a direct result of my desperate, overwhelmed feelings - because I would see His goodness in the middle of my trial?
What if someone tried to convince me that I would give thanks for the struggle because it brought me closer to God?
Honestly? I don't think I would have believed them. I probably would have laughed at them!

Yet, that is right where I find myself today.

I am a desperate mom. I get frustrated trying to choose between good and better. I struggle with knowing the right decisions to make in raising my children. Oh, how I need wisdom.
Yes. I am a desperate mom!

BUT I am not despairing.

My struggles are big. But GOD is bigger! Though I don't always understand them, I know God's ways are perfect. HIS faithfulness never ends. And I know I can trust Him, even with that which I cannot see.
I am desperate for more of God. More of His wisdom. More of His grace. More of His love and patience and hope. And so I do not despair, because God is good and I know HE will help me today.

How 'bout you???


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Forever Yours, Faithfully - Isn't Good Enough Anymore

Do you remember this song?

Oh, how I loved to hear Steve Perry sing about forever, faithful love. The devotion. The dedication. The will to make it through trials and miles. *sigh*

But as I rode in the van with my kids, listening to their music, I came to the conclusion that Forever-Yours-Faithfully-devotion just doesn't cut it anymore.

No, devoted love in today's songs would catch a grenade, throw one's hand on a blade, jump in front of a train, even take a bullet through the brain. Oh, that's so much more romantic, don't you think?
Brian and I laughed about it in the van, but it's no laughing matter to Bruno!

*Feelin' a little 'old' as I think about yester-year, and how things are changing.*


Monday, March 07, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

Lessons from the Edge

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

OK, it isn't a 'new' lesson.
I've heard that statement before.
But this week, I saw the truth of it in action.

Tuesday we had a musical guest come in to sing for the residents. While I stayed around for the performance, and tried to be up-beat and help the residents have a good time, I must admit - this man's music was not among my favorites.
I mean, it was nice. He did a good job. But there wasn't a lot of variety, and his style just isn't in line with my taste in music. (Was that a kind-enough negative review? *wink*)
Anyway, after the show was over I saw one of the residents walk up to the musician and say something to him. Then he packed up his equipment and I bid him farewell.
I was passing by that resident and asked if she enjoyed the show.
She got a big smile on her face and said, "Oh, yes! He sings just like my husband used to sing to me! I told him so. Is he going to come back here sometime?"
I assured this dear woman, I would be inviting him back to sing for us. And when he's on the schedule again I will be sure she knows it, so she can come and listen some more.
Because - although his style of music may not be my cup of tea - it brought back beautiful memories for a precious lady.

Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (Or, ear, as the case may be!)


Thursday, March 03, 2011

All's Well

"Hope all's well with the fam!"

That was the closing line in an email I received last week from my little brother. He's almost 32 years old, but I still like to call him that. *grin*
After I picked my jaw up off the floor (Because he never sends me email, and this was the second message I'd received in as many days!) I pondered how to respond to his last statement.

* I could tell David about the way my boys wiggle and squirm through our family prayer time, and how I wonder sometimes if they're listening. Or if anything is getting through to them.
But God has reminded me that it's my job to be faithful. HE's the One who will speak to their hearts.

* I could mention that I had to pick Matthew up from school because he'd gotten into a fight with another boy. Could detail the tears and denials which followed, and my concern that he isn't learning responsibility.
Yet as I was praying about that situation, God reminded me of HIS patience - and HIS ability to use every circumstance for HIS purposes.

* Or, I could bemoan the fact that it's still hard trying to balance work and family responsibilities. That some days I still want to through my hands up in the air and say, "I QUIT!"
But God graciously brings me back to the assurance that He's got my back. He is in the midst of my struggle, and He is going to bring me through it.

So as I pondered what to say - in light of God's grace toward me - I realized there really was only one thing to be said.

Because God is good, all IS well!


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I Wasn't Expecting That

I love, absolutely LOVE, when God works outside my expectations.

I teach Sunday school during the first service at my church. And sometimes I find myself in another classroom between services - standing in as the 'adult in charge' until another adult can be found to serve during the second service.
Recently when this happened I was standing in the doorway, where I could see a video monitor of what was happening in the auditorium. Singing had begun and - while I couldn't hear it - I could read the words on the screen, and I longed to be in the auditorium. I wanted to be in there with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I wanted to be singing with them.
And for a moment, I began to get irritated.
I know. Nice attitude for a Sunday morning.
I started to wonder why more people don't volunteer to help with the kids. I had already spent the first service , well - serving. Now I just wanted to be in the auditorium participating in worship.

That's when it started.

When God started speaking to my heart.

HE reminded me that worship is about so much more than singing. I remembered everything can be worship when I do it for HIM - the serving I do during the first service, and even the 'standing in' I do between services.
OK, God, I get that. I will worship You as I serve, and as I stand in. But, (as I continued to watch the TV monitor) I really want to be in THERE. I want to raise my hands and sing Your praise! I don't want to miss this opportunity to worship You with my voice.

At that moment, in spite of how noisy the kids in the room were being, I couldn't deny the way I heard God speaking to my heart. My dear Karen. I love this longing in your heart. I love that you want to get in there and lift your voice to Me. I love it. I do.
Now I'll let you in on a little secret.
I knew this delay was going to happen today. I knew you would be 'stuck' in this classroom past the start time for the second service. I knew you would want desperately to get into the auditorium so you could sing, too. I knew you would feel like crying at the thought of missing it.
I knew all this was going to happen.
And I allowed it to happen.
Because I love it when there is a longing in your heart to worship Me. I love it when you are desperate to get into My presence. And I want to develop that longing in you. It makes you even more beautiful to Me.
Fear not, dear one. Here comes your replacement.

And, sure enough, in that moment someone came and shooed me off to the auditorium.

I was not expecting God to speak to me during my delay, and in spite of my little attitude issue. But HE is not limited to what we expect, is HE!

How has God worked in your unexpected moments?


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Confessions of an Indirect Communicator

I love my husband.
I think he's wonderful.

But there is this one thing he does which really drives me nuts.

He says things like, "We should organize the utility room."
Or, "Someone needs to clean up the yard."
Or even, "Avocados have lots of health benefits."

I tend to follow up those statements with questions like, "What part of 'we' is 'me'?"
And, "Are you expecting a volunteer?"
And of course, "Are you saying you'd like me to use them in my cooking?"

Call me crazy, but I think a person should say what they mean. I work hard enough trying to keep it together around here - I don't think I should have to put forth more effort trying to understand indirect communication.
Oh, how easy it is to start feeling self-righteous about trivial things!

Sooooooo, that little piece of background leads to my confession.

The other morning I wanted to remind Joshua to unload the dishwasher before he went to school. The boy doesn't need to be reminded to charge his cell phone every night, or check his Facebook page, or get a snack after school and before bed - but somehow that dishwasher has a habit of getting away from him.
So, anyway, as I was saying. I wanted to make sure Joshua unloaded the dishwasher. But I knew if I simply reminded him, he would call me annoying and say, "I know, Mom!" So instead, I said, "Joshua, when you have unloaded the dishwasher, will you make sure to put your initials on the chart?" He agreed politely, and I was amused by my clever way of communicating. I had achieved my goal of reminding Joshua to unload the dishwasher - without nagging or coming across as annoying.
But just as I was about to pat myself on the back for being such an indirect innovative communicator, I realized something.
That thing I just did?
Drives me nuts!