Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Give Thanks

Have you entered yesterday's give-away yet? If not, click here to do so! Then come back.
Last week Elizabeth was fumbling around the kitchen, unable(?) to find something to pack for lunch. We had wheat bagels, but she only likes plain white ones. We had fixings for sandwiches, but she didn't want a sandwich. She opened the pantry door and closed it (hard), complaining, "We don't have any Ramen Noodles, either!"
At that moment, I looked up from my bowl of cereal and said, "Honey, we have quite a bit of food here. Maybe you ought to try being thankful for what we DO have, instead of being upset about what we DON'T have."
I looked back at my bowl and noticed the strawberries in it. And I thanked God for them. Just a few minutes earlier, I was disappointed because there were only two strawberries left in the container. But now I realized I needed to give thanks.
Then I thanked God for a house to live in, and breakfast to eat. For kids who are healthy enough to plod around the kitchen and complain about having 'nothing to eat', and for the full pantry and refrigerator which tell a different story. I thanked God for loving me and for being patient with me. And I was reminded, once again, what a powerful thing it is to give thanks.

In the act of thanksgiving, God transforms my heart and renews my outlook, and I realize how truly blessed I am.

Thank You, JESUS!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Family Fun Night

What are you and your family doing for fun these days?
This winter, as a sponsor of American Idol, Coca-Cola is looking to spice up the colder months with the Coca-Cola Family Night initiative on At, you can find exciting contests, instant wins, rewards, recipes and games—with many fun American Idol based activities for your family!
That sounded good to me, so this past weekend my family and I (and a few extra friends) put together our own version of American Idol. I received a prize pack from Coca-Cola worth over $100, consisting of:
• (1) Handheld Camcorder
• (1) American Idol – The Hits Volume 1 CD
• (1) Coca-Cola and Pringles coupon
We used the camcorder to record our show, and we had.a.blast! Seriously. I felt like I was pulling teeth to get participation at first, but when we got going? No one wanted to stop. We had more fun than I remember having in a very long time. *big smile*

What makes this whole thing fun for you - besides getting to watch our very cool show below - is that I have been given permission to offer to one of my readers the same prize pack I received! And I can't wait to hear about (Or SEE!) the FUN you and your family have with it.
Sooooooo, if you'd like to enter to win, first watch our video then leave a comment telling me 1)you'd like to be included in the drawing, and 2)how your family might use the camcorder on your next Family Fun Night. (Feel free to visit My Coke Rewards for ideas!) If you also wish to include rave comments about how fabulous the Hossink American Idol was, that would be fine with me. However, such comments will have no effect on your chances to win. *wink*

The prize was provided by Coca-Cola, but Coca-Cola is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Coca-Cola.
Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. Winner to be chosen at random on Thursday, March 1 approximately 8:00 pm, EST.


Monday, February 27, 2012

When Will You Respond?

Be sure to visit tomorrow. I'm hosting a fun give-away1


Friday, February 24, 2012

Lessons From The Edge

We don't need to apologize for our inabilities.

C is one of the regulars at exercise class. And she always needs help with her weights.
We use weights that can be strapped around your wrists or ankles with velcro straps. C always needs help getting them on (So do other folks. They are kinda tricky to put on one-handed!) and sometimes she can't figure out how to un-do the velcro to take them off. She usually gets mixed up about whether we're putting them on wrists or ankles, too. And she always apologizes for needing help.
My response is always to tell her, "It's OK. I am happy to help you." Then I remind her that I love her. And I mean every word.

D struggles with arthritis pain and has lots of trouble getting around. He needs assistance standing up, and moving from his motorized cart to his chair. And nearly every time I'm helping him move from here to there, D complains about his aging body and his inability to move like he used to move. In addition to telling me I'm strong (Those work-outs are paying off! *wink*), D also has a habit of apologizing for his current physical condition. I always tell him, "It's OK. I am happy to help you." And I am.

Probably half the residents at Edgewood wear hearing aids, and even then some of them can hardly hear what's being said. It is not uncommon for me to be talking (loudly!) to someone and still have them ask me to repeat what I just said. They all tend to apologize. "I'm sorry. I don't hear things very well." So I get right up to their ear and say it again. Not minding at all that they need a repeat.

It truly does not bother me that so many of these folks need extra help with things. Rather, it makes me sad when I consider their propensity to apologize for their inabilities. But this week, God took my attitude toward the residents and helped me understand something about myself. About all of us.

Have you ever considered how often you apologize for not being good at something? For being unable to perform a certain task? Not because you're refusing to do it, but because you just don't know how. Or maybe you simply weren't created to do that particular thing.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a burden (to God, or another person) because you had to ask for help?
And what about thinking of yourself as less-than because you couldn't do a certain thing by yourself? Ever been there?
I can answer a resounding YES to all three of those questions.

But this week, as I considered C and D and many other precious souls at Edgewood - to whom I LOVE to give help - I was reminded that it's OK to need help. And I was convinced, we don't need to apologize for our inabilities.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Good Side of Insensitivity


How Too Sensitive and Insensitive Live in Harmony


A Day in the life of Karen and Brian

If you have deduced from the alternate titles offered above that I have been known to be too sensitive, you would be correct. Before I started learning how to think rationally, Too Sensitive me often found herself in tears - feeling wounded by the "thoughtless" words of another. Too Sensitive me heard other people's words mostly as critical, and as reminders that she was not "good enough". For anything.
And, while I am soooooo thankful for the relief I have found through a combination of anti-depressants and re-training my of thinking, I am still very in tune with sensitivity. Not just what I hear, but also what I say.

So, last weekend when reflecting on something I had said to my husband, I felt I needed to apologize.
You see, Brian took advantage of some time off from work to do the grocery shopping for me. What a nice thing to do, don't you think? Me, too!
When he got home and I was putting things away, I came across a few things which were not as I had requested. And I asked him about them. Honest mistakes. I could return the items and make corrections. Not a big deal, really. End of audible conversation.
The conversation in my head, however, kept playing. And I started kicking myself. Why did I have to point out his mistakes? Brian did a nice thing by getting the groceries for me. Why did I draw attention to the few things that weren't right? I should have let them go unnoticed. Now he probably doesn't feel like I appreciate what he did for me. Ugh! Why did I do that???
So I approached Brian to apologize for bringing up the mistakes. I told him I really appreciated that he did the shopping and I wasn't trying to make him feel bad by asking about the few items. He merely shrugged it off and said it hadn't bothered him, then walked out of the room. Seconds later he poked his head back in and said, "I'm insensitive. Remember?" And we laughed.

Ahhhh. We're perfect for each other!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A God-Spin

Last Thursday I spoke for a moms' group, and - as often happens - I got into a conversation with one of the moms after the meeting. This particular mom was feeling quite burnt out. "Trapped" is the word she used. And as we spoke, it became very apparent to me that this young mother really needed some time away from her precious brood.
However, (And I always hate the However) she was also feeling quite guilty for wanting time away. She seemed to believe that she needed to just pray more and read her Bible more so she could love being with her kids more. All.the.time.
I did my best to encourage her - to empathize with her guilty feeling (I have soooo been there!) - and to assure her it is OK to get away for a while. I shared with her my certainty that I am a better mom when I have breaks now and then. It's better for me, and it's better for my kids.

But I didn't want to leave her there. Because I know from experience where one's guilty feelings can lead, and the thoughts which can follow. The road down which I have gone has included thoughts like, I'm a terrible mom. I'll never get this right. Why did God give me children? I'm a terrible mom. All because I needed a break. *sigh*

So, I asked this young mother to consider what God might have to say to her through this circumstance. Although we need breaks from our children ocassionally, we agreed that God never needs a break from us. I shared a devotion from Finding Joy which illustrated this concept. Then I asked this young mother if she could turn her guilty feelings of wanting a break into a chorus of thanksgiving - because of God's love for her. And because of the Truth that HE never wants a break from her.
She thought she could.

I'm learning more and more the value of looking for God's spin on my circumstances. Perhaps it's my struggle with depression and my tendency to think negatively about my circumstances which makes His spin so necessary. My mind's natural bent is toward self-deprecation. I think that's why I could feel so deeply for that young mom. And seeking God's spin - His Truth - has set me free.

What about you? How have you experienced God's Truth in the middle of your circumstance?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's So Important?

Have you ever had something really important to say?
To us bloggers, that's an every day occassion, isn't it? *wink*

Do you remember that happening when you were a teen? When you wanted to have your mom and dad together to discuss your important thing? Because it was so important you couldn't bring yourself to talk about it twice?

I went through that scene recently with Elizabeth.
I was going to take her to the store, but she wanted to wait for Brian to get home before we left. She said she needed to talk with us about something, and she wanted to do it when we were together. Only, Brian was working late and I got tired of waiting. I was imagining how late we would be at the store and - not wanting to be out that long - I convinced Elizabeth she could wait on the conversation until we got home.

So we left for the mall and began our mission to find the perfect necklace for the Sadies Hawkins dance. Except, the whole time we were driving and chatting and shopping and walking and ... I was wondering, What's so important that you need to talk to Dad and I together?
My mind began to wander to places it probably shouldn't go, and I began to imagine several worst-possible-scenarios which I might be facing that evening. Could she be...? Is she going to tell us...? Am I about to find out...? But she didn't seem upset or stressed, and none of my fears were in line with her character and what I know of my girl. Nonetheless, I was eager to find out what was so important.
At last, we found the necklace and headed home.

Brian and I sat by each other as Elizabeth quickly went downstairs. She returned with a smile on her face and a pile of paper, and proceeded with her presentation. Elizabeth told us the measurements of each bedroom in the house - and pointed out that hers is the smallest. She shared the average square-foot of bedroom space per person in our household - and pointed out that her own square-footage is smaller.
The girl had charts and graphs and everything.
Then she hit us with her proposal. She said, "Since Anna is going to be moving into my room (We just had an exchange student move in with us!) I think I should be able to expand my room into the next room."

Well, let me tell ya. Besides the fact that I agreed with the need for the two of them to have more space, I was so relieved that her really important thing wasn't life-changing - I agreed in a heartbeat.

Oh, and I was totally impressed with her research and paperwork. *wink*

Have you ever been nervous to hear something important, only to find out it wasn't such a big deal after all?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Even simple things can make someone happy.

Who doesn't like to make another person happy?
When I do special things, make elaborate plans to delight a heart, or go the extra mile in order to make a difference - I often find I am just as blessed as the recipient.
I love, LOVE to see happy people.

But this week at Edgewood (Or, rather, at Walmart...) I was reminded that it really isn't necessary to go to extremes in order to bring about delight.

Tuesday I took a group of residents on our monthly excursion to Walmart. After I had dropped them off and parked the bus, I went into the store. Upon entering, I saw C. She was walking toward me and said she wanted to stay with me, because B wasn't paying attention and kept leaving her behind. (B and C are a couple, and do just about everything together.) One look at B told me he was a bit exasperated with C. I'm guessing she is the one who wasn't paying attention. (She has memory difficulties and often gets confused.) So I said to her, "OK. How about you and I have some girl-time this afternoon," and I winked at B. He got my message. I'll keep an eye on C. You go ahead and enjoy yourself.
And with that, C and I were on our way.
First we came across a display of Dr. Suess books. I squealed with delight and asked C if she'd ever read any of them. She had not. So I picked up Are You My Mother? and read it to her right there in the middle of the store.
From there we wandered over to the clothing section and admired all the pretty colors. We felt the soft things and enjoyed the sparkly things. We looked at the clearance prices and talked about what good deals they were. "That's nearly free!" she kept saying.
After a little more wandering, we made our way to the jewelry counter. And, oh!, did we ever see some pretty things there?! Though C was certain B would never buy her anything we saw, she had fun imagining. And I had fun watching her.

The next thing we knew, it was time to meet the rest of the gang to head back to Edgewood, so that's what we did. But not before C told me about twenty times how much she enjoyed going around the store with me.
The size of her smile, and the frequency of her comments told me she really, really, really enjoyed herself. At first I thought, But I hardly did anything! And that's when it dawned on me, Even simple things can make someone happy.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh, How HE Works

Last week I had to go to the hospital for a test. My husband dropped me off early in the morning, and my co-worker was going to pick me up and drive me home.
The test didn't take as long as expected, so I called her to come and get me. Of course, when she arrived I was still waiting to be released, and I felt sorry for making her wait. But I made it out a few minutes later and we were on our way.
As we drove, we talked about some troubles her sister has been experiencing. My co-worker feels helpless to do anything, but wants desperately to be able to be a support. I had no words of wisdom to share, just sat as a sounding board. And then we reached my home.
I thanked her once again for driving me home. Especially since it ended up being unnecessary - as I experienced no problems during the testing and could have driven myself home if I'd been able to see into the future. But before I got out of the car, I asked if I could pray for her sister. So we held hands and prayed.
Then, as I was getting out my co-worker said, "God wanted me to pick you up today. I feel so much better now!"

And it occurred to me, maybe the morning's procedures weren't about me and my issues. Perhaps God was arranging time for my co-worker and I to be alone and uninterrupted, so we could talk and pray.

HE has a way of working things out like that, you know!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,
When I was a little girl you took me to ballet lessons. When I wanted to try tap-dancing, you let me. Then we added jazz, and you were taking me to lessons twice a week. And do you remember every spring, when you sewed my costumes for my dance recitals? Oh! They were so pretty!!!!!!
I remember that you also took my big sister to horse-riding lessons. And shows on the weekends.
And my big brother. You took him lots of places, too. But I never really thought much about all the time you invested in those things.

Then came our surprise. My little brother! That was so much fun!!! Do you remember all the big kids running in and out of, and around the house when you were nursing or trying to get him to sleep? It didn't bother me at the time, but I think I would feel differently about it now.
Oh, and do you remember the day when I was in third grade and I forgot my lunch? I called you and asked you to bring it to school for me. And you did. Miss Fortino gave the lunch to me after music class and said, "Next time, don't make your mom bundle up the baby to bring you lunch. Tell me, and I'll find something for you." Oops! Sorry. I wasn't thinking.
I remember when I was in fifth grade and you went to work to help pay for my brother's college classes. You came home from work and made dinner every night, but I had to start doing A LOT more around the house. And I didn't like it. In fact, I remember when my sister and I complained that the only reason you and Dad had kids was so you wouldn't have to do any work. Ha! I wasn't thinking. Again.

I guess what I mean to say, Mom, is that as and adult - as a Mom! - I appreciate soooooo much what you did for me when I was a little girl. I didn't realize it at the time. I didn't understand how hard you were working - how much you were sacrificing for me and my sister and brothers.

And I just want to say, Thanks!

I love you!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

It's OK to be me.

One of the things I've been learning to do since my anxiety/depression diagnosis is to monitor the way I think. I've learned to talk some sense into myself!
Last week at Edgewood, I had another opportunity to practice that new skill. And to remind myself of a valuable lesson in the process.

Two of my co-workers were on vacation, so it was just my boss and me in the office most days. On one of those days my boss said, "Wow. It sure is quiet around here!"
Seems like a totally harmless statement, doesn't it? Well let me bring you up to speed with how a broken mind like mine thinks. My first reaction to that statement was to feel inadequate. You see, my co-workers are quite boisterous and often keep us laughing through lunch. So hearing my boss's expression caused me to think she was dis-satisfied with the quiet. And I began to think I need to be more boisterous, to tell more jokes, to do more silly things. I started to think (once again) that I'm not good enough.
Fortunately, before I got too deep into that pit, God reminded me to check my thinking.
And I knew my thinking was faulty. I literally said to myself, "It's OK to be me." (Sometimes I have to speak to myself out loud like that. Sometimes I even address myself by name. Karen, it's OK that you forgot to do x, y, and z. *blush*)
Anyway, I went on to recall times when I've thought I needed to be more like someone else. I remembered when I thought "I" wasn't good enough. Then I reminded myself of the time someone thanked me for being me. When she said she appreciated my personality. And I realized this Lesson From the Edge wasn't a new one. But it's one we need, all the same!

It's OK to be me.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sometimes it Has to Hurt More Before We Can Heal

Well, Mindy seems to be doing better.

Shortly before I left for Texas, I spent much of my time caring for that little dog.
One of her front toenails had snagged and - try as we might - we just couldn't get her to let us clip it. From Mindy's behavior, it was very apparent her toe was hurting and we thought, If we can just clip it, surely the pain will be relieved. But it hurt her (and us!) too much to do it.
I ended up taking her to the vet, where she was "put under" so the vet could clip the nail off.
And that's really what Mindy needed. The nail had to come off so the irritation would go away and the healing could begin.

As I watched my little dog, and shivered each time she winced, I sensed there was a lesson for me in her circumstance. A lesson for all of us, really.

Do you see it?

Just like Mindy, I know when I am in a painful situation I just want the pain to stop. And so I do everything I can to avoid the pain. But sometimes the very thing which will allow me to get better - to heal - is a movement which causes me to hurt even more.
And I don't like to hurt more. So, like Mindy I cry and squirm and do whatever I can to avoid hurting more. Not realizing that healing will follow. If I just endure the hurting.

Is anyone with me here?

I don't know what you're facing today. Or maybe it'll be tomorrow... Either way, I pray God will give you the strength to trust Him through the pain, and to believe He has the power to bring the healing.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Four Days in Texas!!!
And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm going to share my story with you through photos. *grin*
This is Edie Moore and I. We have been blog friends for years. Edie picked me up at the airport in Dallas on Saturday (Poor woman, had no idea what she was in for!) and we were on our way to fun.

Saturday evening we went to Fort Worth. I knew I must be in Texas when I saw a cow on the roof.
Or was that a longhorn?
We Michigan girls have a hard time telling the difference, you know!
Seeing a cowboy riding his horse down the street made me feel even more sure I wasn't at home anymore.
And the flag on the buggy confirmed it for me. Longhorns, cowboys, buggies, and the flag. Yep. We're in Texas, kids!
Walking around Fort Worth, we found a goat pen full of, well, goats!
Edie bought a cup of feed, and we made fast friends. Especially with this guy.
He was kinda pushy!
Yes. This is the same goat.
Like I said. Pushy!
We wandered around a bit more and ran into this guy. And since we felt sorry for running into him, we thought it would be nice to kiss him and make up. *wink*
After saying goodbye to Ben the Longhorn, I saw this sign.
And I KNEW I was not in Michigan anymore!?
Have you ever heard of fried pickles before???
One more stop for a photo opp. (Edie was such a good sport!)
It had been so long since I'd been on one of those little horses. I just couldn't resist.
And then there was no question about it. You don't find a room full of cowboy-hat-wearing-men in Michigan!
This was in a restaurant called "Chuy's" in Fort Worth. Got my first taste of Tex-Mex food. It was yummy!
Edie and I met my friend, Jenni, for dinner Saturday night. Jenni used to live in Michigan and was my mentor/spiritual director for several years before she and her family moved to Texas.
It was sooooooo nice to see her again!
As we drove from place to place, Edie often mentioned these things called "turn-arounds" on the highway. We don't have any in Michigan, so she said she'd take me on one.
See how excited she is about them? *wink*
And there it is. A little stretch of road that allows you to get off the highway and turn around to go the other direction. Without having to deal with traffic lights.
I told Edie that in Michigan we use the little driveways which cross the median of the highway to make such turns. And to comply with the sign posted by said driveways which states, Authorized vehicles only, the driver of the automobile places his/her hand on the dashboard and proclaims, "I authorize this vehicle!"
We stopped at World Market to look around, and I came upon this mask. Now, if only we were having a Marti Gras party at Edgewood, I think I would have bought it!
Remember the sign about the fried pickles?
This is what they look like IRL.

I ended my time with Edie and began my time with Angela by having dinner at the Grande Lux Cafe in Dallas. And we ordered some fried pickles!

See? I even ate one.
I will never let my picture be taken again when I am biting into food.

Edie feels the same way.

And then there's Angela, who somehow manages to look cute and dainty while eating her fried pickle. *sheesh!*
We had so much fun at that restaurant, laughing and talking and being goofy. It was like being with forever friends.
Though we weren't sure the men at the table next to us were as amused with our fun as we were. *wink*
Monday, Angela and I ventured out to look around town - only to find that most of the shops were closed on Monday. We did find a few open stores - including this one which had yummy ice cream and a body-less mannequin.
Seriously, this girl had only a head and one arm. We felt sorry for her and decided to pose with her, so she wouldn't feel so lonely.
And this little ray of sunshine is Angela's daughter, Emma.
She became my buddy and absolutely delighted my heart.
Note that I am sharing popcorn with her. I don't share popcorn unless I love you!
Tuesday morning, Angela and I decided to take a nice long walk. We wanted to get some good exercise and were prepared to work hard. i.e. We expected to get sweaty and out of breath. Soooooo, neither one of us showered, and obviously had not done our hair or make-up before the walk. And when Angela found out I wanted her son to take our picture, she wasn't so sure about my bright idea. *ahem* I ran my fingers through my hair to obtain a crazier appearance and looked at her with hopeful eyes.
She agreed to the photo. *wink*

Many people thought I was a bit crazy to make this trip to Texas. Why would you get on a plane and fly across the country to spend four days with people you've never even met before???
Let me just say, "Many people" would miss out on a huge blessing if they weren't willing to be a bit crazy.
I had a wonderful time with Edie and Angela. The sights we saw and silly things we did were fun. But it was the times we just talked, the life experiences we shared, the opportunities to talk about God and His faithfulness which made this trip so great. I considered them my friends before I came to Texas, but now - having spent these days together in person - I have a deeper friendship connection with Edie and Angela. And my heart is delighted.

After our walk and a quick shower, it was time to head to the airport for my trip home. Emma rode along with us (Like I said, she became my buddy.) and we gathered for this picture before we said good-bye. For now. I hope we can do this again sometime!

Thank You, Father, for blessing me in this trip to Texas. Thank You for Edie and Angela. For Mike and Austin and Connor and Grayson and Emma. Thank You for working out our details and walking with us through our days. Thank You for caring about doing things to delight our hearts. And thank You, Father, for the hard times, too. Because You're good - even then.


Friday, February 03, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Age brings us full circle.

Today I'm going to let you listen in on a conversation I had with one of the Edgewood residents this week.

Me: Hey, D! How are you today?
D: I'm good. I'm going to see my daughter today.
Me: Oh, great!
D: Yes. She's like my mother now, you know.
I hear this sentiment quite often. And see it lived out. The 50 and 60-something-year-old adult children become the parent figure to their own parents. Caring for them, taking them where they need to go, even making decisions for them.
D:(laughing) Yeah. I let her talk and talk, and then I do what I want to anyway.

I thought to myself, That sounds just like my teenager! I can talk 'til I'm blue in the face, and he does what he wants to, anyway. And then I realized, age brings us full circle.
I'll be leaving for Texas early Saturday morning, and am scheduled to get home LATE Tuesday night. Hoping to be back in blogland Wednesday.
With TEXAS pictures, of course! Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

I'm So Excited!

Do you absolutely LOVE your blog friends?

Do you have dreams about meeting them face-to-face?

I do.
And I have had the pleasure of meeting several. How cool it is to be able to throw your arms around the neck of a girl with whom you've established a beautiful friendship.

Well, toward the end of last year I kept getting email alerts from Travelocity about cheap airfare from Detroit to Dallas. I looked at it, checked a few dates, and always found them to be sold out.
But it got me dreaming.
See, I have two blog friends who live near Dallas. One to the east, and the other to the west. And I have long had the desire to meet both of them.
Sooooooo, after the um-teenth email alert from Travelocity, I started to ask some questions. I asked each of these friends if I could spend a couple days with them - if I were ever to make a trip to Texas. And I asked my husband if he would be willing for me to take said trip - if I could get my hands on one of those cheap tickets.
The answer was YES all the way around. And within a day, or two, I had my ticket!

My flight is scheduled to leave Detroit Saturday morning at 7:45. I'm going to spend the first couple days with Edie, and then a couple days with Angela. And I'm so excited!


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Today I'm at Sweet Peas and Buddies

I'm posting at my friend, Gianna's, place today. It's actually something I wrote several years ago (You'll be able to tell that if you realize Matthew is 11 now...) but it's one of my favorite stories. Please come join me there!