Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Long, O LORD?

After two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream.

Genesis 41:1

Do you know the story from which this line comes?
Joseph, after being betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, was wrongfully imprisoned. While in prison, Joseph met a couple guys and interpreted dreams for them. He asked the one who was going to be released from prison (Lucky guy, had a good dream!) to remember Joseph to Pharaoh. Joseph was asking for help to get out of prison.
But once he was out, that guy forgot Joseph. For two full years.
It wasn't until Pharaoh had a dream that Joseph's former cell mate remembered him.

Two full years.

Can you imagine what that must have been like for Joseph?
He had done nothing wrong, but Joseph's brothers were jealous of him and got rid of him. Next as a servant in Potiphar's house, he was an upright man but was still thrown into prison after being framed. Then in prison he befriended two guys and had hopes of being released when one of them was set free.
He just had to wait.
Wait for that man to talk to Pharaoh about Joseph. Wait for Pharaoh to listen to Joseph's case and hope he had a compassionate heart. Wait for his release. Wait.
If it were me, I think I would have expected to wait a week, or so. You know, give the guy time to get back in Pharaoh's good graces before he brings up my case. That seems reasonable. But after two weeks, and three weeks, and then a month went by, I think I would be giving up hope.
How about you?

I wonder if Joseph had lost hope. Certainly he had been forgotten by his friend. Did he feel like God had also forgotten him? Have you ever felt that way? Are you feeling like that right now?

Then let's look at the rest of the story. Pharaoh did find out about Joseph. He did summon Joseph from prison. And, recognizing that God was with Joseph, Pharaoh made him governor of the land. Joseph went on to save the land as he managed the food before and during a severe famine. He ended up being re-united with his father and brothers, and "they all lived happily ever after."

The thought I want to leave with you today is this: God has not forgotten you. Even if the wait seems as though it will never end, you can trust that God is working all things for good.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

If you know what to expect, you shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

Seems like a pretty common-sense kind of lesson, doesn't it? Er, one that shouldn't really need to be learned, since it ought to just be a given. But, you know - I'm a little slow. *ahem*

Fortunately, slow as I may be, I do eventually catch on.

There is this woman at Edgewood who tends to drive me a little crazy. She isn't a resident. And this week I had another encounter with her which left me feeling rather annoyed. As I walked away from the interaction I was mumbling to myself, Seriously??? Why does she always do that? Every.single.time!
That's when it hit me. She does that particular thing every time we are in that particular situation. Like clock-work. And it occurred to me, If I know she's going to do that, I shouldn't be surprised when she does it. In fact, I could just plan to go through it, and choose to not get annoyed by it. Yeah! That seems like such a better option!

Think about it with me a minute. Doesn't it make sense to choose a reasonable response ahead of time, if you already know what's going to happen? Why react negatively to a situation, as if you didn't know it was going to take place?
So this is my new resolve with regards to this certain co-worker: Because I know she has this behavior (which annoys me), and because I know when that behavior comes out, I am going to expect it - and I am not going to get annoyed. Period.

Because, if you know what to expect, you shouldn't be surprised when it happens.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh, Rats!

My girl has lots of loves. Lots of things which consume her time and attention. But lately there are two which have been especially prevalent.

Photography, and her rats.

Did you know she has pet rats? Three at the last count. Don't worry, they're caged. And they stay in the basement (most of the time) so it's safe to come over. *wink*

The other day Elizabeth brought the two newest rats upstairs, and got the camera out for a photo shoot. She gave the girls to me and got busy snapping pictures. Yep, that's me holding the rats.
OK, be honest, when you aren't seeing the tail, they really are cute critters, aren't they?

After a while I had to do other things, so Elizabeth let Star and Snickers roam around the kitchen and she took more pictures.
The dishwasher peeked Snickers' curiosity.
Star was ready to be done 'swimming'.
I know some of you probably think I'm crazy, (I did make sure Elizabeth cleaned the counter tops when the rats went back to their cage!) but it really is a delight to see how much joy my kids get from their critters. Not to mention, it's always fun to see the reactions people have when they find out we have pet rats in our house. *wink*


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Press On

I had a really good workout yesterday. I dead-lifted nearly 3,000 pounds! OK, so it took 60 reps to get to that number. But who's counting? And I did some good exercises for my legs and abs. My heart rate got up there. I was really proud of myself for pushing as hard as I did.

But, you know what? When my alarm went off, I soooo did not want to get up and work out. I would have much rather stayed in bed for another half hour.
Come to think of it, that's exactly how I felt during my workout Saturday. About half way through my first set of exercises I thought, Ahhh. This is good enough. I don't need to do another set.
But something in me knew it would be better for me if I kept on going. I knew I would benefit if I could just press on.

So I did.

And in the end, I was glad.

Have you been there, too? Wanting to quit, but knowing you really need to press on? Perhaps you're there right now.
I find myself there all the time - in exercising, in mothering, with difficult relationships, even in the midst of God-ordained trials. I want to quit. The pressure feels like it's too much for me. I fear I'm going to fall under the weight of the situation. I'm sure it would be eaiser to just give up. (Please tell me I am not alone!) But I know I need to press on.

So I come to my Father, admitting my weakness. My neediness. And I ask Him to be my Strength. I ask Him to give me the grace I need to press on.
* To love the teenager who is on my last nerve.
* To be kind to the person who is rubbing me the wrong way.
* To keep trusting Him, even when I don't understand.

And God is faithful. HE always carries me through!

Do you need encouragement to press on today? I know the One who can give it to you. And, by the way, the end result will be so worth the struggle it took to get there!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Talking About SEX

On March 17, Elizabeth and I are planning to attend an event for moms and their teen daughters called, Pure Freedom. In preparation for the event, we've been doing a lot of talking about SEX. And it's been good stuff!

We are going through a book, What Are You Waiting For?, written by Danna Gresh - who speaks at these Pure Freedom gatherings. We read a chapter each night and go over the discussion questions in the back of the book.
I don't want to give away Dannah's secret, but I will say this: The things she reveals in this book about sex and God's perfect design are fabulous. Elizabeth and I are having great discussions. And I am delighted by what I am learning as we read together. Cannot wait for this event!

Sooooooo, dear mother of a girl, when the time comes for you and your daughter to get right down to the goods about sex, I highly recommend this book. I have not been asked to say these things and am in no way being compensated for this endorsement. I just think the book is that good. As one who shuddered at the thought of talking about sex with her mother (And who would have benefitted greatly by having someone talk to her honestly about sex.) please let me encourage you to keep the communication lines open with your daughter. (Or neice, or other young girl with whom you have influence.) They need to know it's safe to talk to you when they're young, so when they're older it will seem natural to keep the conversation going.

And for those of you who don't have young girls in your life? You might want to get this book, too. Seriously. The things I am learning about God's design for sex are absolutely BEAUTIFUL.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

HE's Got My Back

OK, so this Lesson didn't actually occur at Edgewood this week. But it was surrounding Edgewood stuff, so I'm counting it! *wink*

The past week has been kinda crazy for me. Family stuff, work stuff, personal stuff. I've been pre-occupied with all that's going on, thinking of this and thinking of that, trying to keep track of which way I'm moving, feeling like I'm trying to juggle a few too many plates.
***That might be my excuse for not posting here Tuesday and Thursday.***

Anyway, Wednesday was a long day at Edgewood, and I had to run some errands after work. Just when I thought I was finished and could go home, I passed the Dollar Store and remembered something I needed. So I turned into the parking lot and trudged up to the store. I located the magnetic pads of paper, grabbed one and turned to leave - just looking forward to getting home so I could be "done" with the day. That's when I spotted the Luau display. And I wondered if the magnets on the paper pad were interacting with the Luau paraphernalia, because I felt pulled toward it.
I stood in front of the display with my mouth wide open. There were window decorations, and cutout designs. Flowers. Parrots. Flamingos. And cute little decorations to hang on door knobs. It was a party-planners dream. A little piece of heaven for an Activities Director who's been overwhelmed with too much stuff going on.

See, we're having a Luau at Edgewood next week. Yours truly is in charge. And although I have made preparations, I was still wanting to get more decorations. I wanted to find something to give away as prizes. (Those door knob things are going to be perfect!) I wanted the party preparations to feel more complete. But I was struggling to find the time. And the money!

I gathered decorations and prizes into my arms, plopped down $7.42 on the counter, and walked out of the Dollar Store with a great big smile on my face.
I had plenty of decorations.
I had prizes.
I had my magnetic pad of paper!
I had no idea I would be getting those things Wednesday evening.

But God did.
HE knew what I needed. HE knew I didn't have much money in my budget. HE knew I could get what I needed at the Dollar Store. And HE knew I'd be driving past Wednesday. *ahem!* I would go so far as to say HE arranged my path so that I would drive past.
HE knew I was feeling overwhelmed. HE knew how to ease my burden. And that's just what HE did.

Ahhhh. I am so thankful that HE's Got My Back!

HE's got yours, too, you know!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A New Theme

In 2009, it was TRUST.

In 2010, it was OBEY.

In 2011, it was SURRENDER.

Every year, for the past few years, God has given me a theme word for the year. In 2009, it wasn't until the end of the year that I discovered the theme - I'm a little slow, you know. But one day I realized God had been allowing me to go through circumstances which required me to trust Him in an increasing capacity. And I thought, 'What's that, God? Are You trying to show me I can trust You?'
And that's when I caught on to the theme.

So, after a year of learning to trust God, He took me through a year of putting that trust into action. God called me to act on my trust and to be obedient.
Last year, God took me to another level. To obedience with my heart, not just my actions. And I learned what it means to surrender. I learned trust goes beyond actions of obedience. Trusting with my heart means believing God's ways are perfect. His plans are best. I can confidently submit to God's plan because I trust Him - even when I don't understand.

This year, it seems the theme is PEACE. A beautiful next step on the journey. And yesterday, God gave me an opportunity to experience a piece of that PEACE.

I was scheduled to speak for a MOPS group in Big Rapids Tuesday morning. It's a fairly long drive, so one of the leaders opened her home to me Monday and I drove up ahead of time to spend the night. Had a nice visit with Rebecca and her husband - including a bit of conversation about SURRENDER, particularly as it pertains to my speaking ministry. Then we went to bed.

Tuesday morning I was just finishing getting ready when Rebecca called down the stairs, "I have some bad news. Schools are closed today, so MOPS has been cancelled."
And before my heart had a chance to sink, before I was able to feel disappointed, God reminded me what HE's been teaching me. HE has a perfect plan. And part of that perfect plan involved allowing the MOPS meeting to be cancelled. God knew it would happen, and He allowed it. I know that Truth in my heart. And as I surrendered to His perfect will - which wasn't in line with MY plans - God filled me with PEACE.

I am going to love this new theme!
Since Rebecca's husband already had planned to stay home with her boys Tuesday morning, she and I and one of her friends went to a coffee shop and enjoyed a little chat time. It was a delightful morning, even without MOPS!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

We Don't Have to Follow the Crowd

How many of you know what today is?

It's Friday, the 13th. That unlucky day during which some people will avoid traveling, some will refuse to make business transactions, and others will simply stay inside all day!

However, the Edgewood residents and I will not be playing that game. Today, we are going to count our blessings. We're going to gather together and talk about the blessings in our lives, and then we're going to write it all down to display for all the world to see. That is, if all the world comes to Edgewood. *wink*

Honestly, every month when I put together the Activity Calendar I watch for special days we might want to celebrate in some way. When I saw Friday the 13th coming up, I decided to go against the flow and make good of the day. (Cuz I'm a rebel like that!)
I am looking forward to counting my blessings today. Because, you know, We Don't Have to Follow the Crowd

Here's the finished product. We had a great time talking and writing!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thanks for Not Helping Me

Have you ever noticed that a single set of words can have two different meanings, based upon the attitude of the speaker?

I'm hoping time and maturity will allow Matthew to to change the meaning of his words to me.

Tuesday morning we were going through our usual rituals. I reminded him how much time he had left before needing to be out the door to catch the bus, and Matthew poked. He doesn't like to be under pressure to get things done, yet he seems unable to heed the clock's warnings.

This was especially so Tuesday.

And when it came down to the wire, when I told Matthew, "You need to be out the door in one minute," he panicked and called out, "Will you put my lunch in my back-pack?"
In the past I have fulfilled this request and gotten his lunch out of the fridge and put it into his back-pack. But I've done that on days when he really has been trying to get ready. Tuesday he was simply poking around, and I decided I needed to let him be fully responsible for getting himself out the door. I realized I had been training him to depend on me too much. So, I said, "No."

I responded, "No, Matthew. You need to get your lunch." And by the way he reacted, you would have thought I'd just taken away his new X-Box.
He yelled and cried about how he was going to miss the bus. And it was all my fault. He couldn't believe I was so mean. *And a few other choice phrases.*

Finally, with his shoes on, his lunch in his back-pack, a tear on his cheek, and a sarcastic tone in his voice, Matthew stomped out the door for school as he called out to me, "Thanks for not helping me!"

And as my grumpy guy marched to the bus stop I envisioned something which I hope will take place one day in the future.
I imagined a grown man who takes responsibility for himself. I thought of this man planning his steps and watching his time so as not to miss something important. I pictured him choosing his activities carefully and being wise in the things he does; not slacking off and leaving a mess for which someone else has to take responsibility. I smiled as I considered this man recalling the day it all began; the day his mother required him to step up and do the work. And I imagined him saying with a sincere heart, "Thanks for not helping me."

Hey, a mom can dream! *wink*


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's In a Name?

Plenty! If the right Person says it.

I was recently reading the Gospel of John, and was struck by this statement:
Jesus said to her, "Mary."

John 20:16a

Prior to Jesus making this statement, Mary had gone to the tomb of the buried Jesus and found the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty. She ran to the disciples in a tizzy and some of them went back to the tomb with her to check things out. But they didn't stick around, and Mary was left by herself - crying and unsure what was happening. She thought someone had taken her Lord away, and she didn't know where they had put him. She just wanted to find Jesus!
This frightened, crying woman shared her fear with a couple of angels, and then she asked the Man who she thought was the gardener if He knew were her Lord had been taken. That's when, Jesus said to her, "Mary," and her fears were alleviated.

Jesus' statement is the source of my question. What's in a name?

As I read and pondered Jesus' words, I thought about all the things in that name. Imagine this: Frightened Mary asks the "Gardener" where he has put her Lord, and the risen Jesus says to her, "Mary, I understand your fears, but you don't need to be afraid. It's Me. Jesus. I am here! Everything is going to be OK. You don't need to cry anymore."
I know, the only word coming from His mouth was Mary, but - Oh! - What's in a name!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not MY Girl!

My daughter just showed me this picture and said when she has enough money, she wants to buy these jeans. She thinks they're sooooooooo cute with the bows on the side.
I looked at the picture and thought, Bows? What bows? All I see is too much skin!

Elizabeth must have read my mind because she quickly added, "I would wear leggings under them!"
I breathed a sigh of relief and thought loudly (in case she was still reading my mind) That's right! Because no daughter of mine is going to wear jeans that show off that much skin.

Call me old. Call me too conservative if you want to. But I do NOT understand most of today's "fashions". *eye roll*


Monday, January 09, 2012

Friday, January 06, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Fun is good exercise.

Yes, that's what I meant to say.
Under the right conditions, good exercise can also be fun. But the lesson from this week is, Fun is good exercise.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 10:00 you can find me in the Activity Room leading an exercise class for the residents at Edgewood. We do stretches, a little cardio, and some light weight-training for our arms and legs.
In addition to those exercises, we also do a fair bit of joking, laughing, singing, and just being goofy. In short, we have fun.

Wednesday, one of the aides said to me, "I wish I had time to join your exercise class. It always sounds like you are having fun!" (She escorts several residents to and from class, but she has other work to do while we're exercising.)
I assured her we do have fun. Even made some comment about how tight our abs are from all the laughing we do. And that's when I realized the importance of having fun. As much as I'd like to believe the residents are coming to class because they want to make healthy choices for their bodies, I am pretty sure there's more to it than that.

I am quite certain they come for the fun of it.

They come for the laughter. And laughing is a good ab work-out.
They come for the jokes. And I am sure there is some cognitive value to thinking about punch-lines and figuring out why they're funny.
They come for the singing. And I know singing is good for your mental and physical well-being!

It's true, I am excited about the work-out we do. I want to help our residents get stronger and improve their quality of life. I love it when I see the progress they are making! But even if they don't quite get the moves "right", even if they give up before we're finished, I'm so glad they come and have fun.

Because fun is good exercise.


Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thinking on my Feet

Matthew loves to eat apples.

They are his snack of choice, and he eats them regularly.

That's a good thing, right?

Well, yeah. Except for one little problem.

He has an annoying habit of leaving apple cores wherever he was sitting when he devoured said apple.
And I'm the one who tends to find the brown, wrinkley cores hours (or even days!) later.

So, the other night I totally impressed myself with my ability to think fast on my feet.
I was saying good night to the boys as I noticed Matthew sitting on the couch next to an eaten apple. I immediately pictured finding the brown, wrinkley apple core on the couch when I got up for work the next morning. So I asked him ever so sweetly to throw away the apple core. And, of course, he said he would.

We go through this all.the.time. I ask him to do something, he says he will, but he doesn't do it right away, and thus forgets.

In my attempt to have him not forget, I said, "Will you please throw it away right now?"
Matthew was really into his TV program and promised me he wouldn't forget! Then he asked for a piece of gum.

I walked over to my purse, got the gum out and walked away from Matthew. Went through the kitchen and set the gum on the counter right by the trash can. And I said, "Sure! You can get it when you come over here to throw away that apple core!"
Then I went to bed.

Don't know if he did it immediately, or not. But when I got up the next morning the gum AND the apple core were gone.

Score 1 for Mom!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

We Are His Desire

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

John 17:24

Go ahead and read that verse again.

Once more, even.

Do Jesus' words strike you as they did me? Are you drawn by His desire for us?
Jesus said He wants us to be with Him, where He is.
He didn't simply ask God to watch over us and protect us from evil. Didn't say, "Father, these folks really mean a lot to Me. Please make a nice place for them in heaven so they can enjoy eternity."
Jesus said He wants us to be with Him, where He is.

What an amazing thought!

I don't know why those words have never reached me before, but I can tell you - my heart has been delighted as I've been considering the Truth that we are His desire. Jesus wants us to be with Him, and to know Him - to see His glory and fully understand Who He Is.

If ever my heart were longing for heaven, friends, it is now!
Who's with me?


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The One-Handed Wonder

Can I just say? It's been a long time since I have played much Foosball.
And when I did used to play with some frequency, it was always with a partner. So I only had to pay attention to two handles. One for each hand. That was enough for me.

So you must understand, I am really not what you would call a Foosball player. I'm just NOT.

Have I made adequate excuse for what I'm about to admit??? *wink*

My mother-in-law got the kids a Foosball table for Christmas. What a great gift! They have been enjoying it tremendously. (As have their friends!)
A few days after the game was all set up, Joshua fractured his left hand. Had nothing to do with Foosball. Had everything to do with the fact that he wasn't thinking about the wooden frame inside the couch when he decided to punch the couch, in an attempt to scare his little brother. *sigh*

Now, if you think a hand in a splint would keep a teenage boy from playing two-handed games like Foosball, you need to think again. Joshua continued to play. With only his right hand.
Yes. One hand for four handles.

And when he challenged me to a game, saying he could BEAT ME, well, what was I supposed to do?
Of course I accepted the challenge. I mean, really! I had two good hands, and he had only one. How hard could it be for me to win that game???

Let me just say, it wasn't hard.

It was impossible!

The boy kicked my b*tt. *head hung in shame*

But, in one of our repeat matches I scored five goals! Never mind that in the game right before, he shut me out 10-0.

What can I say? I have an amazing son! *grin*


Monday, January 02, 2012

Here I am