Monday, April 30, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Sometimes little things aren't.

Two weeks ago I was in the atrium at Edgewood when two residents walked by. One of them looked quite sad so I walked over to her and said, "You look like you could use a hug." And I hugged her. She held on tightly, and I knew she really did need that hug.
Then we chatted for a moment, and parted ways.

To me, that encounter seemed like a little thing. Honestly - until a few days ago - I had all but forgotten about it.

Wednesday I was on the phone with the daughter of one of our residents and in the middle of our conversation she said, "I want to thank you for that hug you gave to my mom." And that's when the memory of that "little thing" came back to me.
This daughter went on to say how much her mother had appreciated it. (Apparently enough to tell her daughter about it!) And we went on to talk about how her mom needs extra encouragement. (She struggles with anxiety and depression. I get that!)

As I thought about that phone conversation, I was delighted to know my hug really had made a difference. But, more than that, I found myself pondering this question: How many times have I NOT done something because I didn't think it would matter?
How often have I neglected to smile at someone?
How many times have I not said, "You look nice today!"?
How many hugs are still in my arms which could have been given away?

I'm so glad I had that conversation this week. While - in the past - I may have considered a smile, or a compliment, or a hug no big deal, now I believe I'll be giving them out more freely. Because now I realize sometimes little things aren't.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Favorite Part

Part of the submission process I went through last week with my devotion for the NIV Mom's Devotional Bible involved sending Zondervan a short bio. They wanted to know in one to two sentences how many kids I have, my state of residence and my favorite part about being a mom.
When I read the last requirement I got playfully snarky and said, "Well, bedtime, of course!" But then I thought, You can't say that in a BIBLE! So I put some actual thought into it (Scary. I know!) and was delighted to discover what I love most about being a mom.

I realized the times I most enjoy are when I am seeing my children doing well at the things they love to do. Even though that sometimes goes against my grain.
For example, Elizabeth recently made this charming creation. It's a cake (Make that THREE cakes - frosted and stacked and frozen together.) which she carved and decorated to look like a squirrel.

There were chocolate cake crumbs on the table, on the floor and on the chairs. Frosting was smeared on the counter top and splattered on the walls. I think I'll still be finding chocolate remains for the next several days. And a messy kitchen is annoying to me.
BUT, to see the joy on Elizabeth's face when she was creating that cake! And her pride in the finished task. What a delight to my heart.
We'll continue to work on her cleaning-up-after-the-project skills. Until then, the pleasure of seeing her excel at something she loves is enough for me.

Then there's Joshua. My runner-boy. It's track season again and there's only one track for his mind now. (Well, besides fishing. But that NEVER changes, so I just take it as a given. *wink*) He is focused on breaking his old record for the mile, and being the fastest miler on his team.

He talks about it constantly. Wants to know what he should eat the night before and day of his track meet to get his body to perform at its best. He tells me his strategies - about how he thinks he can win the race and how he is working toward his best time. And after the race, he will go over the whole thing lap by lap telling me what he was thinking and what he'll do differently next time.
That's all great, but Joshua mumbles more than anyone I know. Half the time I can't understand most of what he's saying. And I wonder, If he wants to tell me all of this, why can't he at least speak clearly?
But then I see him running and my heart gets all excited for him and I quickly forget the excessive talking and mumbling. And I find joy in watching him run after his goals.

And THEN, there's Matthew. My little ADHD wonder. (Yes, I often wonder how we're going to survive ADHD. *wink*) Some days I swear that child could not sit still and stay focused if his very life depended on it. And I wonder how a person can honestly be that crazy. The random howls. The running. The forgetting. Again. It's enough to drive me over the edge.
But give that boy a set of Legos, and you would not believe the transformation which takes place. Suddenly he is still. And focused. And quiet. We gave him the Lego Star Wars Millenium Falcon for Christmas and he completed the whole thing in a matter of 1-2 hours.
He was so proud of his accomplishment. And, once again, it made me happy to see him loving what he was doing. And doing it well.

All that to say, this is what I submitted to Zondervan for my bio:
Karen Hossink lives in Michigan with her husband and three children. Besides bedtime, her favorite part about being a mom is seeing her children discover what they like doing – and doing it well.

How about you? What's your favorite part about being a mom?


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Have You Seen HIM?

Monday morning I was concerned about a phone call I needed to make. I had received a letter over the weekend saying something wasn't right with our insurance, and I was worried about the possibility of having to pay a lot of extra money. I made the phone call on my way into work. Didn't want to waste a precious minute getting to the bottom of this issue.
But when I gave the representative my information he said, "OK. Looks like everything has been approved. A letter with all the details was mailed out late last week." I was thrilled. And then I thought, You mean I've been worrying about this needlessly all weekend?
(Isn't that true for all our worries?)

After I thanked the representative for his assistance and ended the call, I got a great big smile on my face and thanked my Father. I thanked Him for taking care of my "problem" before I could even get to it. I thanked Him for seeing all my problems and working on my behalf to solve them. It delighted me to know HE had attended to my details without my knowledge, and in that moment it was as if God were saying to me, Karen, I've got the rest of today under control, as well. You've no need to worry about anything. I've got this! I could swear I heard a heavenly kiss after those words, too. *grin*

Then I realized, I had seen God in my details. I had seen evidence that He was active and working in my life. And I made a decision to trust Him to take care of all the other things which were going to come my way that day. Because I had seen Him!

Have you seen HIM?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I Learned

Have you ever done something and in retrospect wondered, What was I thinking???

Without boring you with unnecessary details, I'll just tell you that a couple months ago I decided to wean myself off my anti-depressant. I thought after a year of learning how to think rationally - instead of negatively - maybe I would be able to do it "on my own." Maybe I could keep anxiety and depression at bay without the help of medicine.

Boy, did I have more to learn.

I found myself staying awake late thinking about "everything" I needed to do. Tears were a much more frequent visitor again. The common stresses of everyday life were heaping up on me and I was feeling like I was going to drown in them. Despair was beginning to rear it's ugly head again. While he hasn't come right out and said it, I have concluded Brian was sick of wasn't enjoying the "old" me, either.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out taking the anti-depressant again would be the best thing for me to do. And - while I am not a rocket scientist - I believe I have learned a valuable thing through this "experiment".

While the re-training I went through for my thinking was important and needed, positive thinking - alone - is not enough for me. There is something very real and physical (chemical) going on in me which my thoughts aren't going to change. That's why I'm taking the anti-depressant again.
And now the positive self-talk I'm repeating sounds a little bit like this: It's OK to need to take this medicine. You weren't ashamed to take medicine for your seizures, so don't be ashamed about this one. Your family needs you to be your best you. AND God loves you no matter what!

Those thoughts - combined with the kind words of understanding friends, and a confidence that God will carry me - are helping me see the light again. I am so thankful for what I have learned.


Monday, April 23, 2012


Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
~Psalm 54:4

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
~Psalm 63:7

I lift my eyes to the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
~Psalm 121:1-2

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
~Psalm 124:8


Friday, April 20, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

It really helps to consider the whole picture.

We were enjoying a peaceful lunch in the library this week when one of our residents entered in a fury. He was yelling about his food and was demanding to speak with the "manager of this place." (!)
My boss spoke with him as calmly as she could, in spite of the way he was carrying on and speaking to her. And when the whole thing was over, we all congratulated her for how well she had kept her composure.

She told us that the entire time he was yelling at her, she kept reminding herself that he has dementia. If he was a rational thinking man, he wouldn't have been carrying on as he was. The scene left her shaken, but she made it through by remembering this wasn't a personal attack. It was the result of a man losing his ability to think clearly.
And she realized something else, too. Part of his rampage was because he had been served a burned sandwich. In reality, it was a sandwich served on swirled rye bread. But since this man is nearly blind, well, to him it looked like the bread was burned. Sharing that piece of information with him was useless, but at least the understanding helped her get through the moment.

Witnessing that event, and hearing my boss reflect on how she kept her composure through it was a valuable lesson this week.
Are you in the middle of a circumstance which is troubling to you? Are you frustrated because people aren't behaving as you would hope or expect? Let me encourage you to try looking at things from their perspective. Because, it really helps to consider the whole picture.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Waiting is NOT My Strength

...but it's usually worth it!

So, the original date Zondervan gave for announcing their selections for the Moms' Devotional Bible was April 14.
But then they changed the date to the 18th. Which, of course, I discovered on the 14th when I tried to find their decision. And so I waited.

On the 17th I saw their announcement that everything was on schedule to make the announcement "on time."
But they neglected to say what time.
And when I woke up yesterday morning I was eager to check my email. Maybe they were as anxious as I was and had made the announcement before they ate their breakfast?

Not so.

At work I was tempted to check for the announcement. But I resisted. Instead I thought about the possibilities every spare moment I had.

When I walked in the door after work and turned my computer on, my heart was pounding rapidly. What would I find when I opened my email???
Uh, nothing!
OK. That isn't true. I had lots of junk mail and a few Facebook notices, but nothing from Zondervan. And I wondered, Is no news "good news"?

So I looked at the contest page and discovered - they had yet to announce their selections. *ugh*
Have I mentioned that waiting is NOT my strength?
But I had no choice, so I waited some more. I went to my son's track meet and watched him do a great job - even though some rascally kid beat him in the end. *wink* And then I came home to find the answer for which I had been waiting.

My devotion was one of those selected to be published in Zondervan's Moms' Devotional Bible! It's scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2013, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. My thanks to each of you for your support and encouragement during the contest. Love you!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ever Have One of THOSE Days?

Oh, have I!!!

That is, Monday.
And if you had been near me, you would've heard me singing this at the top of my lungs.
Soooooo thankful for the hope I have in JESUS.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Told My Daughter a Little Lie

My daughter turned 16 last week.

Hard to believe I'm old enough to have a 16-year-old! Harder to believe that beautiful young lady used to be a babe in my arms. But she was.

So why, oh why, would I lie to my daughter???

Well, it goes like this:
Elizabeth had been wracking her brain, trying to come up with a fun party she could have for her sixteenth birthday. She is a planner and was coming up with all kinds of things. And then one day when I was on Facebook, one of her besties showed up in a chat-box.
Mrs. H, I need to talk to you.

In person? Or can we chat right here?

We can chat.

OK. What is it?

Mary and I are planning a surprise party for Elizabeth on the 14th, but she thinks she's having her own party on that day. We need you to tell her she can't.

Uh, OK.

We're going to pretend she's coming to Mary's for a sleep-over, but all her friends will be there for the party!

That sounds great. I'll come up with some excuse to put the kabosh on a party here that day.

OK. Thanks!

Ultimately, I told Elizabeth that Brian and I had a mandatory meeting we needed to attend the evening of the 14th so we couldn't be home to chaparone, and the party would have to be another day. Little miss persistent asked Grandma, one of our small group friends, and an adult-friend of hers if they could come chaparone the party. Funny thing is, none of them were available.
*Might have something to do with the fact that I got to them first! haha!*

So, for a while I was living in a lie, feeling a little sorry for allowing my daughter to feel disappointed about not having her party when she wanted to. But in the end, it was worth it!

I'm so thankful for her friends who love her enough to have made this special event for her. :-)


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Strength Behind Mrs. Proverbs 31

OK, so I thought Zondervan was going to announce their devotion selections on the 14th, but they've changed the reveal date to the 18th.
And so I wait...


Friday, April 13, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Sometimes it hurts.

By now you know that just about every resident at Edgewood is my favorite, right? There are approximately 94 precious souls residing in that place, and I love each of them. In one way, or another, I have given each one of them a place in my heart. Even those I've known for just a few months have found their way into my heart. And I've liked it that way.

But now it's starting to hurt.

Not because there isn't enough room for everyone, but because it hurts when they leave.

Cancer is counting down the days for one.
Dementia has claim on another.
Still another is considering a move to a facility with more one-on-one care available.

I understand. Death and aging and needs are all a part of life. But these precious people are in my heart and I weep at the thought of letting them go.

What is your experience with saying 'Good-bye'?
Can you attest with me that, sometimes it hurts?


Thursday, April 12, 2012

God and American Idol

Seems like I'm on an oxymoron kick, doesn't it?

Depression at Disney

God and American Idol

What can either of those two possibly have to do with the other?
Well, you got the low-down on depression and Disney yesterday. Today I'll explain what God was doing with a idol.

When we went to Hollywood Studios I thought it would be fun to audition for the American Idol show. So I did. But I didn't get selected.
However, at the audition I noticed that "I Can Only Imagine" was one of the songs on the play list from which performers could choose to compete. And my mind got to working. If I audition with a song from the play list, perhaps my chances of being selected will improve.
All the rest of that day I was thinking about how much I would love to be on stage singing for the glory of my God - to an audience who might not otherwise be thinking of Him. I realized I didn't care about winning; I just wanted to sing that song to draw someone closer to HIM.

So I got up the next morning and went back to audition with "I Can Only Imagine."

The judge for whom I sang that morning was a sweetheart. We had a fun conversation before I even sang, and it was a delight to meet her.
When I was finished singing, she commented that I sang with passion. I responded by saying, "That's because I am passionate about Jesus," and she said, "So am I!" And from there, our conversation really took off. We shared about how God has seen us through our hard times, about how desperate we each are for Him. Then she told me something which made me understand what God was up to.
She said before she came to Disney she was surrounded by Christians and had ample opportunity to talk about faith. But her present situation doesn't allow for such conversations. She said that very morning she had prayed, asking God to bring her some encouragement that day. And there I was. Spurred on by an urge God placed in my heart to sing, standing in the presence of a young woman who needed encouragement. Realizing God used that urge to answer her prayer.

Ultimately, I wasn't selected for the show. But it didn't matter. My desire was to do the will of my Father, and His plan had to do with one judge named Nikki. Not an entire auditorium. And reaching that one delighted my heart!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Depression at Disney

Last week when I posted about our Disney trip, I made this statement about the Magic Kingdom:

What a colorful, happy place it was. Princesses and music everywhere.

More on the irony of all that next week.

And today I'm revealing the irony.
The entire time I was walking through the Magic Kingdom - taking in the colors, seeing the princesses, and hearing the music - I was battling internally with my depression. And the more it went on, the more I realized what a battle it really was.
No matter what I do, I am simply not good enough.
Why do I have to feel so upset?
I don't want to react this way.
What is he thinking about me?
OK, I need to relax.
I want to do better, but I can't get out of this funk.
I am such a mess! Why can't I control myself? *ugh!*
Seriously, Karen, just chill!

And on it went. All the while my outsides were surrounded by beautiful colors and happy princesses, my insides were feeling oppressed by dark thoughts.

Then I received a text from one of the members of my small group. It said something like, "What are you battling today? Remember to ask God to fight for you!"
So thankful for God's perfect timing!
I promptly heeded that encouragement and asked God to fight for me. Once again, He brought me to that place of surrender where I remember I cannot do anything in my own strength. Oh, how I need my Father! And, oh, how faithful He is!

It wasn't an on-the-spot transformation, but I know it was the turning point for me - moving away from depression and toward reality. And I know God was fighting for me!

Yes. At Disney. Where dreams come true. *wink*


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Will Never be that Perfect. And that's OK!

Have you heard?

Zondervan is releasing a new Moms' Bible next spring and they are currently holding a writing contest for it.
No! They aren't re-writing the Bible!
Rather, they are including devotions written by moms, for moms. A few weeks ago they were accepting submissions, from which ten finalists were selected. Currently the finalists are posted and receiving votes. And Zondervan will then make the final decision.

Welllllll, guess what?
Yours truly is one of the finalists! And you can vote for my devotion. (It is based on Proverbs 31 and shares a title with this post.)
Please follow this link then - if you like the devotion - give me a "thumbs up".
You *might* need to be a Facebook user to participate in the voting. I'm not sure.
Voting is open until April 14. Thanks!


Monday, April 09, 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday, Indeed

Yesterday I spoke of God carrying me. Doing for me that which I cannot do on my own.
And today the reality of that statement couldn't be any more REAL.
Because today as we remember Jesus' crucifixion, the truth that I could not save myself - that I needed Jesus' blood shed for me - weighs on my heart.

Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life.
HE didn't deserve to die. That was my path.
But HE took it.
Because if HE didn't, there was no way for me to be re-united with the Father. Nothing I could do would bridge that gap.

Jesus paid the price for my sin. HE made the way for me to have eternal life by dying on the cross. Doing for me that which I cannot do on my own.

And that, indeed, makes this a very GOOD FRIDAY. Thank You, JESUS!

***If you have never responded to Jesus' sacrifice for you, may I invite you today to do so?
Please email me and we can talk about it more.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

That's a Good Question, too!

So I responded to this struggling mother, and she came back with a few more questions.

You say "He strengthened my heart and carried me through each moment" ???
"Strengthen" your "heart"--what does that really look like?
"Carried" you how?
Her questions made me realize how - in many ways - I have created my own language. And I am so glad she asked the questions, in case anyone else is wondering, too.

So I told her what I mean when I use those terms:
When I say God strengthened my heart, I mean He reminded me He is strong enough to handle my circumstance and I can trust Him. It may come in the form of reading scripture, or remembering verses I have memorized which tell of God’s strength. One of my favorites is Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (That's why I have it on my sidebar here, called My Strength.)
So as far as what it looks like, most often it comes from reading and remembering the Word of God and the Truths He speaks through it.

And regarding the question, "Carried" you how? I told her:
This comes back to me trusting God to handle my moment.
For example, homework is one of our big challenges. My boys have ADD and ADHD. Homework is NOT a good thing for them, and I enter those moments with fear and trepidation. OK, I try to have a good attitude going into it. I try to be positive and encouraging. But it almost never fails that in the middle of an assignment I want to scream and run away.
That’s when I know I need God to “strengthen my heart and carry me”. And that’s when I most often recall Exodus 14:14. “God, I need You to fight for me. Please help me to be still. Help me to not yell and nag.” I pray for my boys, asking God to help them with their focus and desire to get the work done.
I recognize that I cannot navigate through the moment on my own. I cannot MAKE my boys do their work they way I want them to. Trying to will only result in me yelling and being “annoying”. (Their words!) So I get as still and quiet as I can (with lots of deep breathing) – speaking only when necessary – and I pray through the circumstance.
And when we have made it through, I recognize that as God “carrying” me. Helping me to do that which I cannot do on my own.

What do you mean when you say things like "God strengthened my heart and carried me"?


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

That's a Good Question

I recently received an email from a mother who had spent time reading Surviving Motherhood. She was incredibly frustrated with the struggles she's having with her two children and she wanted to know, "Where is God at 2 a.m.?" She is a Christian woman but she couldn't help wondering - when she's up with a crying baby again, how can God be helping her then???
As I was responding to her, I realized there are probably other moms who need to be encouraged with these words, too. So, in part, here is what I said to her:

I remember disagreeing with people who said, "God understands everything you're going through," because Jesus was never a mom. I thought, "How can He understand me? He never had to get up with a baby in the middle of the night. He never had to deal with inconsolable toddlers. HE wasn't a mom!"
At the same time, I remember being angry with myself because I was frustrated with my kids. I thought, if I was a "good mom" I would be able to handle all their stuff. Even though I was tired and burnt out, somehow I thought I should be able to be like Mary Poppins - practically perfect in every way. *eye roll* I could echo your words. "I am exhausted - I am done."

I went through lots of tears. Lots of questioning God. Even wondering if He made a mistake by giving me children. I finally found myself on my knees crying out to Him, "I CAN'T DO THIS!!!" And then it was as if God said to me, "That's right! You understand!"
For so long I had been trying to mother in my own (lack of!) strength. I thought I needed to be perfect and I tried and tried to get there. Along the way I became angry, tired, frustrated and irritable. I yelled, I stomped, and I slammed things. I resented my kids for having needs. And I longed for the day when they would be grown up and we could all be DONE.
But at that point of "I CAN'T DO THIS!!!" and through the counsel of a godly friend, I began to discover what it meant for God to be with me - even in the middle of frustration. When it was no longer easy to say "God is always with you, He helps us in our weaknesses" (like it was before having kids), God showed me I could trust Him in the hard times, too. Granted, He never showed up in physical form and took care of my kids and their needs (Oh, I wish!!!) but He strengthened my heart and carried me through each moment.

I wanted to share honestly with this mother and let her know she wasn't alone in her struggles. I wanted to offer her the hope I have in a God who strengthens and carries us through our trials. But she had more good questions, and maybe you do, too.
Tomorrow I'll share the rest of our interaction.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Disney in Pictures

Disney was wonderful!

But since the return to reality is such a hard hit, I am going to rely on pictures instead of words for today. *wink*

First we went to the Magic Kingdom.
What a colorful, happy place it was. Princesses and music everywhere.

More on the irony of all that next week.

We spent our second day at the Animal Kingdom and my favorite part of that day was The Lion King show. Soooo very fun. Just a 15-second clip for you here:

Day three found us at Epcot.
Anna enjoyed our choice of restaurants for dinner. The Nine Dragons restaurant had authentic Chinese food. Yum!

But my favorite part of that day was when Brian was selected out of the crowd to participate in a show. *wink*

On our fourth day, we went to Hollywood Studios. Hands down, my favorite park!
The best thrill ride was the Tower of Terror. Because I love the feeling of falling.
(Weird. I know.)
But the part of that day which made me smile the biggest was looking at Brian after we rode the Aerosmith roller coaster. I promise. I didn't style his hair for this photo. It was all wind, baby!
Our last day at Disney was spent mostly around the pool, but next week I'll share a special God-thing that happened in the morning.

So, there you have it. Our vacation in a few pictures. And if a picture is worth 1,000 words, well, I'd say this is one of the longest posts I've written. *grin*
Thanks for sticking with me.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Psalm 91