Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

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

I Am Not. Am I?

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

Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD?

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

I Can Work with That

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

Lessons From the Edge

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

"Are You Able to Come?"

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 get away from me go warm up with his team.
I cheered him on as he ran, and met him at the finish line to congratulate him for a race well run. And I resisted the urge to give him a hug, or even a high-five, because I was pretty sure he wasn't looking for any public displays of affection from his mom. Honestly, I was just thankful he was talking to me.
We stayed for the awards ceremony, and Joshua told me I could sit in the stands. He was going over to talk to some friends. So I sat there and watched him with the other kids. I watched him sit with some of his teammates for the ceremony. I watched him receive his individual and team awards. And although I wasn't invited to be part of the festivities "up close and personal" I was delighted to watch from afar. Because I knew Joshua was glad I was watching.

"Are you able to come?" "Good!"
Ahhhh. How sweet the sound!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

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.

I remember the email messages I got from Joshua's sixth grade teachers just before parent/teacher conferences. They wanted to meet with me to discuss his classroom (mis)behavior so we could come up with a plan to improve things. As I read about their complaints concerns, I couldn't keep myself from crying. My mind was racing with thoughts like, I'm failing as a mother, and, These teachers probably think I'm a horrible mom. Because, that's where I always went with my thinking.

Matthew's fourth grade teacher was wonderful. She had an adult ADHD son. So she totally understood what I was going through. Even so, I cried in her presence, too.
And the first time his fifth grade teacher called me at home, well, you can guess what I did.

It drove me crazy that I cried so often. I hated that my thoughts were so negative about myself all the time. But I felt completely unable to hold back the tears, or to think differently.
Last March I finally visited a psychiatrist and told her about my tears and my thoughts. Just having me talk about it gave her the opportunity to see the tears for herself. *sigh* She diagnosed me with generalized anxiety and depression.
I started taking an anti-depressant and began learning how to combat my negative thinking. I worked on developing rational thinking. And I was astounded by the changes in me. For once I felt like I was in control of my emotions. Somehow it seemed like the medicine gave me time to pause and think rationally, instead of falling immediately into the negative thinking to which I was so accustomed.

And last week I had the opportunity to witness just how far I've come.

I was home Thursday, enjoying my day off when the phone rang. It was Matthew's teacher. She had his other teacher on the line and they wanted to conference call with me. This can't be good, I thought. They proceeded to tell me about issues Matthew was having with not turning in homework, and blurting out in the classroom. They told me - while they think Matthew is a great kid - these problems are not going away and they didn't want to wait until parent/teacher conferences to address them. And then one of them said, "Gee. I hope you don't feel like we're ganging up on you by having a conference call with you."
For a moment, I recalled what I would have done in previous years, with previous phone calls. I think I would've been in tears when I heard, "This is Matthew's teacher..." as I anticipated the flood of negative emotions which was about to come over me.
But this time I took a deep breath and said, "No. It's OK. I'm glad you called. I've been through this before and I think it's good for us to talk to each other so we can work through these issues." Because this time I was able to pause and think rationally. This time I knew it wasn't about me, or my mothering skills. It was about Matthew and how we could work together to help him be the best he can be. This time, I didn't cry or think negatively about myself.

This time I thought to myself, We've come a long way, baby!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm Not Biting

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

HIS Strength is Perfect

OK. I'll say it once more. You really need to get Kathy Troccoli's worship CD. It is such a blessing!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

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.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Please Fight for Him

The LORD God Almighty

Who 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

Another Dream

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.

*big grin*


Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, October 07, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

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 Funeral
BYOT - Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM - Covered By Medicare
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
HGBM - Had Good Bowel Movement *My personal favorite. LOL!
LOL - Living On Lipitor
LMDO - Laughing My Dentures Out
TTYL - Talk To You Louder
BTW - Bring The Wheelchair
WAITT - 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

I may be annoying...

...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.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Yes. More Than These.

So, this past Friday when I arrived at Cran-Hill for my retreat, I kinda felt like a little girl going to her friend's house to play. After I got settled in I wondered, What now? You know, like when kids get together and spend half their time trying to decide what to do?

So, God, I'm here. What do You want to do now?

I'd been spending the past week thinking about Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the LORD..." and that verse was running through my head at the moment. I asked Him, Do You want me to just wait for You?
So that's what I did.

I waited.
And while I waited, I read through my journal. Entries going to over two years ago. That was a fun read!
And it prompted me to start journaling about some of my dreams. I included this one about meeting my Compassion child, and others about meeting blog friends, and several which relate to speaking. It was wonderful time of surrender - trusting that GOD, Himself, will bring about the fulfillment of these dreams if it is His will.

Nothing else matters.

And then Saturday morning arrived.
Something - make that SomeOne - lead me to read John 21:15-25 and I was drawn to verse 15. "Simon son of John, so you truly love me more than these?"
I realize the "these" to whom Jesus was referring was the other disciples. Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples loved Jesus. But in that moment, it was as if He were asking me if I loved Him more than these. And it was very clear to me the "these" to which Jesus was referring when He spoke to my heart. I wrote in my journal,
I felt like You were asking me - Karen, do you love me more than speaking? More than writing? More than the praises of man?
And I say with confidnece, Yes, Lord! Yes, I do! I love you more. Truly, I do. I love You more than all of these!
What a wonderful place God had brought me to. First, of waiting for Him, then of surrendering to Him, and finally - of being sure of my love for Him. That God really is the most highly treasured object of my love.

HE is!

And what about you, my friend? Do you love Him more than "these"? Is there anything competing for your devotion to the One who loves you endlessly? I pray you'll invite God to ask you this question, too.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Little ADHD Humor

I know I have shared my woes here about the trials of raising an ADHD boy.
It feels like I am constantly walking behind Matthew in the mornings, asking him if he's done this, or that. Reminding him to stay on task. Telling him what time it is, so he realizes he needs to get moving.

It gets tiring.

The other day I knew Matthew had finished his shower. But he was still in the bathroom with the door closed, so I still needed to prod him along. I walked by the bathroom to tell Matthew he had 10 minutes, and to ask how he was doing. (How ya doin' in there? is code language for, Matthew, you don't have time to dilly-dally. Stay on task!)
As I asked the familiar question, Matthew responded, "Fine." And he paused. Then he said (and I could hear the smile in his voice), "I'm just about to get into the shower!"

Oh, funny boy!
Wish I could have thrown open the door to see the look on his face.
'Cuz I know he thought he 'got me'.

I said, "You're funny, Matthew. I know you've already taken your shower." And I heard him sigh. Awwww. Poor kid. He was playing a joke on me, and I didn't fall for it.
Maybe next time. *wink*


Monday, October 03, 2011

A Weekend with GOD

By the way, you NEED to get Kathy Troccoli's worship CD. What a delightful way to be ushered into the presence of God!