Friday, June 29, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

It's OK to repeat yourself.

I had a wonderful visit with D at rehab this week.
Poor guy has been in and out of the hospital and rehab facility for nearly two months now. Seriously. He hasn't been at Edgewood since early May. Maybe even late April.
Anyway, I went to see him Tuesday evening and while I was there I asked what he thinks about all day laying in that bed. I asked if he ever thinks about God, and he said he does. Then he got real honest and said he often wonders if he's going to make it to heaven. He said he wonders if he's going to be judged "good enough" to get in.

I accepted that invitation!

In the next moments, I reminded D that none of us will ever be "good enough." I reminded him it's only by the blood of Jesus we can be forgiven and made right with God. And I asked if he remembered when we prayed together at Edgewood to ask Jesus to forgive D, and to make a place for him in heaven.
D said he didn't remember, and he asked if we could pray again. I told him I was sure God had not forgotten, but if it made D feel better - we could pray again. He liked that idea. So I shared the gospel with him once more and we prayed again, asking God to forgive D and make him new.
Then I reminded him - it's a done deal. Our new phrase is, "No worries!" The smile on his face and the peace in his eyes was priceless.

And even though God hadn't forgotten the first time D prayed, I am confident He didn't mind hearing it again. In fact, I think I could almost hear Him whisper, It's OK to repeat yourself.

Karen

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Thought He'd Understand

Matthew is quite ticklish, and few things make me happier than surprising him with a tickle-attack.
There's just something so satisfying about sneaking up behind him and getting his armpits or a particular spot in the middle of his back.

I know, I'm twisted.

Anyway, sometimes I see him sitting quietly, completely unsuspecting, and I am overcome by the urge to tickle him. So I do what any other reasonable adult would do. I approach him stealthily and tickle him!
When I tickled him this way Tuesday, he screamed and said, "Stop it, Mom!" I stopped and apologized. I said, "Sometimes I just get this urge, and I can't control myself." Then I thought of a brilliant way to explain my behavior to Matthew. I started, "You know how you get urges to yell and run around all crazy?" He nodded, so I continued. "Well, I get urges, too. But mine are to tickle you." For as many times as this boy falls victim to his ADHD urges, I thought surely he'd understand.
Instead, Matthew came back with, "That isn't the same thing." And I asked, "Why? Because your outbursts don't involve your armpits?"
Exactly.

*hmph!*

I tried explaining. I guess I'll just have to tickle him until he understands.

*wink*

Karen

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Guard Dog

Sunday morning I decided to sit on the deck while I read my Bible. And, as is her habit, Mindy joined me outside.
I was happy for her company. Figured it's good for her to get the fresh air. But I didn't anticipate the way God would use her to illustrate something for me.

I just read about Solomon, and the sad ending to his legacy. And now I'm reading about the down-hill run of the Israelites. Watching them turn from God and not follow Him with all their heart, like David did. It makes me sad.
So as I finished my reading Sunday I began to pray, asking God to protect me. I asked him to help me be alert so I don't fall away from Him like Solomon and the Israelites did. And right about then, Mindy started growling.
I opened my eyes to look at my dog and spoke calmly, "What's wrong, girl?" I looked in the direction of her attention but didn't see anyone or anything out of the ordinary, so I asked her again, "What's wrong? I don't see anything." But she kept growling. Even barked a few times. And the hair on her neck and back was raised up like it always is when she's after something. Yet, no matter how I searched, I couldn't see what was concerning her. So I just chuckled and thanked her for protecting me from scary, un-seen things.

With Mindy's growl at the scary, un-seen things in mind, I began to pray again. This time asking God to protect me like Mindy was protecting me. I was fully aware that God sees what I can't, He knows what I don't, and I need Him to protect me from all the scary, un-seens which might threaten to lead me astray.
My heart's desire is that my heart's desire would always be to follow God. I want to be faithful to Him all the days of my life. So I'm going to keep praying, Please protect me like Mindy!

Karen

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Am Helping

...You just don't understand it yet.

The other day I dropped Joshua off at the sporting goods store so he could get fishing gear he wanted, and for which he's been saving his money. On my way to pick him up, Joshua called and asked me if he could borrow six dollars when I got to the store. Apparently he discovered something else he "needed" with this new gear. (He went on to explain that he didn't really NEED it. But it sure would be nice to have.)
My first question was, "Do you have six dollars at home so you can pay me back immediately?" Joshua said he did not, so I said, "Then the answer is, 'No.'"
He didn't say anything.
Just hung up on me.
Oh, well, I thought. And I drove on.

A moment later, my phone rang again. An apology, perhaps? Oh, silly me! He was making another attempt to get the six dollars.
He insisted it wasn't that much money, and he said he hardly ever borrows money.
*ahem!* I think we may have very different perceptions of reality.
He said something about thinking I would help him (The kid knows what motivates guilts me into doing things.) and reiterated the fact that he didn't know about this extra expense beforehand. He really thought I should help him get past this travesty by loaning him six dollars.
I listened to him bargain a little longer and then said, "I'm here now. Why don't you buy whatever you're going to buy and then come out to the van." *click* He hung up on me again.

As I waited for Joshua to make his purchase and come outside, I replayed his words in my mind. And I became convinced, I am helping.
This is the way real life goes.
When I am surprised by something costing more than I thought it would, and it isn't a necessity, and I don't have the money to get it - I don't get it. May not be the most "fun" game plan in the world, but it's helped me stay out of debt. And it's a valuable lesson I'm trying to teach Joshua.

So, you see son, by making wait to get that fishing gear until you have the money to pay for it - I am helping. You just don't understand it yet.

Karen

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Make Decisions While You're Running Uphill

I am going to be speaking about this topic in depth at the Fall Women's Conference September 28-30 at Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney, MI.
Click here to register if you'd like to join me!

Karen

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

David isn't the only one who can write a psalm.

We had a wonderful Bible study at Edgewood Monday. We looked at Psalm 136 and talked about the fact that God's love endures through our stories. Psalm 136 tells the Israelites' story and every line is followed by the phrase, His love endures forever.
After we talked about the psalm and God's faithfulness to the Israelites, I asked everyone to tell about how God has been faithful to them. As they shared, I wrote a brief summary of what they said and when we were finished I read back to the group the psalm we'd just "written."

Keeping the first three and final verses of Psalm 136, here's the Edgewood version:
Give thanks to the LORD, for his is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
God gave us forefathers who set up our government.
His love endures forever.
We have freedom.
His love endures forever.
God provides food and love.
His love endures forever.
He saved me.
His love endures forever.
He gave me new life.
His love endures forever.
In the midst of tragedy God saved me.
His love endures forever.
He is personally involved in my life.
His love endures forever.
He has a plan.
His love endures forever.
God lifted me out of depression.
His love endures forever.
For 32 years I searched but I was empty.
His love endures forever.
I was ready to end it, but God came into my life.
His love endures forever.
God uses our circumstances to tell a story and reach others.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

I hope our psalm will encourage you to think about your own story and how God's love has endured through every part of it. Perhaps you'll even want to write your own! Because, you know, David isn't the only one who can write a psalm.

Karen

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Husband's Date

One would think that would be me, wouldn't one?

I mean, my husband's date. It should be his wife, right?

A happily married man wouldn't go dancing with a pretty young thing who isn't his wife. Would he? That would be shameful!

But, alas! That is exactly what my husband did. Last Saturday he went dancing with a pretty young thing. And she wasn't me! No jabs at my age allowed. When you are 40 and you work with men and women who are in their 80s and 90s, you are - indeed - young.

But it wasn't shameful. Rather, it delighted my heart.
Brian and Elizabeth went to the Daddy/Daughter Dance at our church. She's 16 years old, and she still loves to go. That delights me.

Don't they look fabulous?

Next year will be their last Daddy/Daughter Dance and they have decided to go out with a bang. They're going to choose a song and put choreography to it to perform at the dance.

I *might* have to sneak in with a video camera for that one!

Karen

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Don't Really Want it My Way

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

C. S. Lewis

I have heard many, many stories of people wanting something, really believing it was the best thing, praying for it, even begging God for it. And when He didn't respond affirmatively - or in a manner which they considered timely - they wondered where God was. Wondered if He heard them, or cared, or was able to affect their circumstance.
But after they made it through their circumstance, they understood. God's plan was better than their own. Often times they have recognized just how much better His plan was. Like one of the residents I know at Edgewood. She told me this week that when she was in high school her family moved to a different city. And how desperately she didn't want to go. She cried, and prayed, and begged to stay where she was.

But she moved.

And at her new high school she met the young man she would marry one day. The man to whom she has now been married for 73 years!
We chuckled as we talked about what a good thing it was that she didn't get her way when she was in high school. But beyond the surface, I wasn't chuckling.

I will be the first to confess, I have control issues. I like to have a plan. I like to know what's going on. I like to be able to control what's happening. I DON'T like waiting to find out what's around the next corner. I like having things my way.
However, the more I learn about God - about His sovereignty, His perfection, His trustworthiness - the more I realize, I don't really want it my way. I don't want God to give in to my whining and say, "All right, then, have it your way." I don't want to miss out on His best.
I want to trust Him and experience life as He has planned it.

Yes, LORD. Thy will be done!

Karen

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Truth Talk

Last week I made these pork chops. Yum. YUM. TRIPLE YUM!!!!

I made them on Thursday. My day off from work. Since I was home and the chops were marinating in the refrigerator, I lovingly turned them over every couple of hours so all of the chops were fully marinated. I was sure my extra attention was going to make dinner extra delicious.
I had sweet potatoes in the oven, salads in the refrigerator, and got the pork chops out to put them on the grill. As I walked past Brian with the meat, he got a certain sparkle in his eyes and asked, "Steaks on the grill tonight???" I said, "Nope. Pork chops!"

I could practically feel the disappointment in his response.

My gut reaction was to take Brian's response personally.
As I put the meat on the grill I realized in my former way of thinking I would have said to myself, Brian doesn't want pork chops for dinner. He wants steak. I should have known that's what he wanted. Now I've spent all this time making a nice meal which he isn't even going to like. What a waste of time. Why can't I ever do anything right?
That's the way my broken, depressed mind works.
But by the grace of God, and with the help of my antidepressant, I have learned how to speak truth to myself. Truth Talk, I call it.
So as I put the meat on the grill - instead of going down the road of self-deprecation - I went through some Truth Talk. I reminded myself, Just because Brian thought we might be having steak doesn't mean he won't like what I'm preparing. Even though I know he's disappointed, I am not a failure. He didn't mean to make me feel bad about making this dinner. He would never do something like that. Therefore, it is unreasonable for me to be harsh with myself. This dinner is probably going to be great.

And it was!
So thankful for the Truth Talk which was added to the menu. Without it, dinner would likely have been ruined.

What truths do you need to remember today?

Karen

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Words of affirmation are directly proportional to one's ability to complete a task.

We're taking a field trip next week. Going to a local park for a picnic lunch and an enjoyable afternoon. It's going to be a blast!
So Wednesday I invited residents to come to the Activity Room to decorate picture frames which will part of a memento of our picnic. I bought acrylic picture frames and stickers - with the intention that residents would decorate the outer edge of the frame, and I would take their picture at the picnic and put it into their frame for them to keep.
To me, it seemed like a simple craft which would make a nice keep-sake.

However, several of the residents who came to decorate a picture frame lacked confidence. I had made a sample, and done other preparations which I thought would make the process simple. Even so, I heard lots of comments like, "I've never done this before," "I'm no good at decorating picture frames," and "Mine won't look good."
So as I walked around the table offering help, I made sure to tell everyone what a great job they were doing. I might have gone a little over-board on some of the praises. *ahem*
But as I said the words, I noticed something.
*Their smiles got a little bigger.
*Their posture got a little straighter.
*The frames got a little prettier.
*And everyone completed their project. Even the ones who said they were 'no good' at decorating picture frames.

My heart was delighted to see how proud everyone was of their creation. I was happy that they'd all stuck with the project, even though at the onset they weren't sure they could do it. And I was thankful for the lesson I learned: Words of affirmation are directly proportional to one's ability to complete a task.

Who needs the encouragement of your words of affirmation today?

Karen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

School's Out

Today is the last day of school for my kiddos.

I know. They're probably the last kids in the country to still be in school today! But they didn't complain about the 101 days off they had throughout the school year.
OK. Perhaps I'm exaggerating. Maybe they only had 81 unnecessary days off. *wink*

Anyway, at day's end I will officially have two kids in high school.
And Matthew is moving up to the "older" junior high.
And Joshua wants to start driver's training soon.
And Elizabeth has become this amazing, beautiful young lady.
And I'm thinking, Woah! These kids really are growing up!

I remember when they were toddlers. And sometimes I didn't think I would survive another day of playing Star Trek.
At the end of the day when Brian came home and asked, "How was your day?" I often said, "We played Star Trek all day. They were the cling-ons!"
I remember as pre-schoolers I was constantly trying to figure out things to do to keep them busy. Creative projects, new games, trips to the park. Oh, we had some fun times.
But it sure wore me out. Can I get an 'Amen!' from you mothers-of-pre-schoolers?
I remember elementary school. And flash cards. All too often I thought the alphabet, and basic addition and subtraction were going to be the end of me!
Seriously, how many times can you sing the 'Doubles Rap' while still maintaining your sanity?

Through each of those stages I remember thinking, The next one is going to be easier. It has to be!
Can I be honest with you?
As I'm moving through the different stages in my kids' lives, I am finding out the "next" one isn't easier. It's just different.
*I am not followed around all day by Joshua anymore, with requests that I hold him.
These days he'd be content if I left him alone for hours at Lake Lansing so he could spend time fishing. And I think, 'Don't you want to spend some time with dear ol' Mom?'
*Keeping them busy is NOT a problem anymore. They have things to do, people to see, and appearances to make.
And I wonder, 'Don't you just want to sit at home and relax for a while?'
*Learning the alphabet and basic math are way behind us now.
Today it is more likely for Elizabeth's math questions to completely stump me.
And keeping Matthew supplied with reading material is becoming a bigger challenge. Not to mention getting him to stop reading at night so the kid can get some sleep!

Dear mother friend, I hope I am not bursting your bubble by suggesting the "next" stage isn't going to be easier for you. But I really don't think it will be. I have become convinced the hardest stage of mothering is the one we're in right now. Because we're living through the challenges and it seems like they'll never end.
The good news is: Today's challenges will come to an end. Some day. (But they'll be replaced by new ones.)
The REALLY good news is: God will be with is through all our challenges. HIS faithfulness will endure. We can trust Him with our infant, toddler, pre-school, grade school, junior high, high school, college, and adult-child challenges. The struggles may be a 'first' for us, but God's been through them all!

School's out today. My kids are growing and changing. But GOD will remain perfectly faithful through it all.

*peaceful sigh*

Karen

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Get Your Running Shoes On

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

Karen

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Think He Likes That

I've mentioned before that we struggle around here with ADD and ADHD.
Er, on some occasions "struggle" would be a gross understatement.
Anyway, the boys have it, and I am trying to learn how to manage our lives with the extra challenge.

So, the other day Matthew came into my room and was nosing around my nightstand. He saw a book and said in a questioning voice, "The Add Book?" And I corrected him, "No. It's the 'A.D.D. Book'." He seemed to understand and said, "Is that for Joshua?" I explained I had gotten it to help me understand Joshua a little better.
Then Matthew asked if I had a book "for" him. I responded affirmatively and he went in search for it. He found 'Why ADHD Doesn't Mean Disaster'. Side note: I soooo think they should have titled the book, 'Why ADHD Doesn't Spell Disaster'. I mean, it's a fun little play on words and I think it is quite clever. But they didn't ask me. *hmph* Holding up the book, Matthew asked, "Have you read this?"
When I responded affirmatively again, Matthew got a certain smile on his face. I think he liked the fact that I had read a book in attempts to understand him better. (Though I doubt he realized it was also a survival mechanism. *wink*)

The thing is, we all have a desire to be understood. Even our children do! What a blessing we can give them when we try to get into their world and see things as they do. What a difference it can make to them when they know Mommy cares enough to look through their eyes.

Although I still look at Matthew sometimes and think to myself, REALLY???, he knows I'm trying to understand him.
And I think He likes that.

Karen

Monday, June 11, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

The goodness of God never gets 'old'.

We had Bible study at Edgewood on Tuesday this week. Looked at Mark 7 where Jesus healed the deaf and mute man. At the end we sang the chorus of He Touched Me. And then G started in on giving testimony to God's goodness.
She does this almost every time we have Bible study.
Though they don't always appear on her face, you can hear the tears in her voice as she talks about how good God has been to her. As she recounts her blessings, and - this week - the times Jesus has touched her.
And as I sat there Tuesday, listening once more to G tell about how God has been faithful to her and her family, as I once again beamed because of the faith and testimony of this dear woman, as I looked one more time at the room full of people who were smiling at hearing these stories again, I realized - the goodness of God never gets 'old'.

Karen

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Saying Good-bye

Four months ago a delightful young lady entered our lives.

Anna is an exchange student from China who came to Okemos for the 2011/2012 school year. But things weren't working out with her host family. So in February, she came to live with us.
The sister Elizabeth has always wanted. *grin*

It's true, there have been struggles. Namely between Anna and the boys. And sometimes it's gotten heated. Even so, we have made efforts to work through the differences and I am so glad she has been part of our family. I truly believe God worked out the details to bring her here.
Anna has no religious background at all. I don't mean she has no Christian background. I mean NO religion. So she was very open to learning about Christianity. She knew the basics about Christianity, but I know she had never prayed before. And I am quite sure God was not a part of her thought-life. Both of those things have changed since she has come to us, and I pray she will continue with them when she goes home.
I am very thankful for several opportunities I have had to pray with Anna and love on her. We have had some good talks, and I love to hear her call me, "Mommy."

However, it is time to say good-bye.

Tomorrow morning I'll be taking Anna to the airport so she can fly back to China. I will be sad to see her go.
Ah, but it won't be for long. Anna is going to attend Ohio State University in the fall, and she plans to visit us when she comes back to the States in August.
She's already told me she wants to come to our house for Christmas break. I am looking forward to showing her how we celebrate Christmas!

And just for fun, Anna made dinner for us last night. Real Chinese dumplings. She even let me help wrap them. :)


So, dear Anna, I guess it's good-bye. For now. :)

Karen

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

It isn't that I WANT my friends to have troubles...

Three and a half years ago, my friend wrote this post. And ever since I read it, whenever I see a cardinal - I pray for Angela.
I have other prayer cues for other friends, and it absolutely delights my heart when God sets them before me. When HE calls me to pray for my friends.

So, the other day I was on a walk and two cardinals flew right in front of me. I smiled as I thought of Angela, and I prayed for her. Not knowing what was going on in her life at that moment, but fully confident that she was on God's mind and HE knew what she needed. And after prayed, I pulled out my phone and texted her. Just wanted to let her know I had been praying.

As I continued to walk I wondered why it was such a thrill to be reminded to pray for my friends. I mean, if God is calling me to pray for them, I trust it's because my friends are in need of God's intervention. Probably because they are facing trouble of some sort. And why would I be happy to know my friend's are facing trouble? Kinda backwards thinking, isn't it?
No, it isn't that I want my friends to have troubles. For me, the thrill of being called to pray is because I am reminded that God sees my friends. HE knows their needs. HE loves them. HE is thinking of them in that moment. And HE is inviting me to be a support to them through prayer.
So, I pray.
And I consider it an added bonus when I am able to send a message to my friends to let them know I've prayed. Because I want to remind them, too, God was thinking of them in their moment of trouble. And HE can meet their needs.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.

Psalm 138:7

Karen

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Communication 101

Picture this:
I'm laying on the swing on our deck, reading a book on a lazy Sunday evening.
(Are you jealous?)
My husband walks onto the deck looking a bit sheepish and says, "I'm not sure how to say this."
To which I reply, "Use words." (I know. I'm brilliant.)
So, he smiles and says, "Wouldn't it be fun to clean the utility room?" and I - in a moment of pure honesty - say, "Uh, NO."

Well, what would you have said???

The look on Brian's face told me that wasn't the answer for which he'd been hoping. So I decided to give him a little communication lesson. I explained to him the question he asked me was not equivalent to the thing he really wanted to know. Because - really - why would he want to know if I thought it would be fun to clean the utility room? When I'm relaxing and obviously fully engaged in the book I'm reading devouring? What could be more fun than that???

My dear husband wasn't getting it so I tried to make it as clear as possible. I said, "The question you meant to ask would have sounded a little more like this: 'I'm going to go downstairs and clean up the utility room. Will you help me?' You simply asked the wrong question."
So Brian puffed up his chest and said, "I'm going to go downstairs and clean up the utility room. Will you help me?" What could I do now? So I sat up, put my book down, and said, "OK."

The two of us made great progress on cleaning that room. And half way through it - as I was reading a poem I'd found which Elizabeth wrote when she was about 7 years old, and as I chuckled at a picture of Matthew making a silly face at about age 2 - I said to my darling husband, "You were right. This is fun!"
Later, I smothered Brian with kisses as I told him how much fun I had cleaning the utility room with him. But I do hope he was paying attention in class, so he might learn how to ask the right questions. *wink*

Karen

Monday, June 04, 2012

Friday, June 01, 2012

Lessons From the Edge

Joy is worth more than money.

We had a new entertainer come to Edgewood this week. He drove up all the way from Indiana, had car troubles on the way so he was late getting to us, and was therefore - obviously - rushed to get set up and start singing.
In spite of the wait, our residents absolutely loved him. Everyone had a great time and I heard many people tell him they hoped he would come back again. And I heard him say, "If they'll let me back in, I'll be here!"
Which was nice for him to say, but I thought perhaps he was just being polite.
See, my budget for entertainers is rather small, and I wasn't able to pay this man what he usually gets for his performances. So, when everyone had cleared out of the dining room after he was finished singing I approached him to talk about a possible future visit. I said, "How does this work for you with the fee? I know I wasn't able to pay your regular fee, and for you to drive all the way up here from Indiana, well, it hardly seems worth it."
Yeah, I'm a great sales person. Can you tell???
This man went on to say, ideally, it would be nice to have another performance scheduled in the area. BUT he had such a great time with us at Edgewood - everyone was so nice to him, and he enjoyed us so much - he would do it again. Even if he came for only us.

The sincerity in his voice and the joy in his eyes really blessed me. He is willing to come back even though my budget is so small because he loved his time at Edgewood.
Because joy is worth more than money.

Karen