Monday, September 16, 2013

Taking My Own Medicine

Have I mentioned before how precious my daughter is?
She loves God with her whole heart and wants to do all things to please Him. She gives her best to everything she does. And she has a hard time saying "No" to good things/opportunities to serve. I've no idea from whom she gained that tendency. *ahem!*
The thing is, when you couple all that with a young lady who strives for all A's in school, who has a big test coming up, who needs to be working on college applications, and who is trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with her Beau, you end up with a stressed out little lady.

I have often talked with Elizabeth about the need to discern which things are necessary, and which can be put off or forgotten all together. We've discussed the fact that such discernment is a valuable skill to develop in life. It can keep a person from going completely crazy!
So the other night when she was asking for input on whether she should babysit for someone for three hours Saturday (She could use the money. It would help the people who need a sitter. She loves the little girls. It was "only" three hours. BUT It would be another thing on her "to do" list. She could utilize that three hours doing homework or studying for her test or filling out college aps... And, it would really be more like 3 1/2 - 4 hours by the time she figured in travel time and preparation.) I was about to tell her what I thought would be best for her to do. But I caught myself and instead asked her a question.

"What would make you feel less stressed?"

Because I knew babysitting was one of those things which didn't fit into the "necessity" category, and I wanted to help her find the freedom to choose what would be best for her.
So, why am I telling you this story? Because I realized I needed to take my own medicine.
As I am faced with a lot of things to do (No college aps for me, thank you!) and my time is limited, I realize that taking a brief blog break will make me feel less stressed.
This blog is a good thing.
I love writing.
And I love knowing that God uses some of the things I say to encourage and inspire you!
BUT, I realize it doesn't fit into the "necessity" category, and right now it would be best for me (and my family!) if I step back for a bit.
Not sure how much time I'll need, but if God says the same, I'll be back!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

It just takes time.

I've seen it before in various residents. For one reason or another they are not happy about moving into Edgewood, and they're convinced it will never be "home" to them. Some people almost seem to be fighting against the idea of learning to like living there.
But in nearly every case, after some time, the individuals come to love that place. And it absolutely feels like home to them.

We have another new resident at Edgewood. She moved in about three weeks ago. And I love her very much. She's my grandmother!
And earlier this week she confided in me that she "feels like a misfit".
Oh, those words broke my heart! We have so many wonderful ladies at Edgewood, and several of them have told me how much they like my grandmother. They tell me she's a lovely lady and they're so glad she's moved in. But Grandma says she feels like a misfit?

I understand. Grandma misses the ladies with whom she used to play Bridge. (We've tried unsuccessfully to get Bridge going at Edgewood.) She wants someone to play cards with her, and she wants someone to read and discuss books with her. In her three short weeks, she hasn't found those people. And she's discouraged.
But she came to the Activity Room this week to play Wheel of Fortune on the Wii with a few other residents, and she had a good time. Her birthday is coming up Monday (She's going to be 96!) and one of the women Grandma eats with in the dining room bought her a beautiful card, and she's going to have the other ladies at their table sign it for her. I know that will delight her heart!
These things, and the fact that she isn't a quitter, give me confidence it won't be long before Grandma is no longer feeling like a misfit. Soon, Edgewood will feel like home and the residents will be her second family.

It just takes time.

Is there a struggle in your life about which you need to remember this lesson?


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Her Favorite Word

Elizabeth has Expository Writing this semester, and her first assignment was to write an essay about her favorite word. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to share her essay with you here.
So, go ahead and read.
And, um, I dare you not to cry!

Daddy. What a spectacular word! You can say it in whatever tone you want, and it still sounds right. You can say it in a deep, comical voice. Or you can say it in a high pitched, excited voice. You can whisper it or scream it. You can state it or sing it, bellow it or burp it. You can say it when you’re crying or when you’re laughing, and it will always sound meaningful and reassuring.

Chirp it at the dinner table, and you get a listening ear, ready and interested to hear you tell about your day. Cry it out at night when you are scared, and suddenly there are sheltering arms around you.

It is a word full of love and hope and butterfly kisses. It is tenderness and protection and friendship. It is wisdom, it is insight, and it is comforter.

It brings on memories of that night once a year, where he would take his princess out on a date, and they would dance together. It brings memories of chaotic shrieks and laughter in the middle of a game of tickle wrestle. Or that time when he taught his little girl to ride a bike. Memories of long car rides with deep conversations, and trips to the ice cream shop.

When you are sad, “daddy” is the go-to word. When you are happy, it’s all you want to say! One thing is for sure: My daddy has made a great impact in my life in order to make this word so special to me.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dear God

Dear God,
Do you remember when Elizabeth was born, and I was getting ready to leave the hospital? And I wondered who these crazy people were who thought it was OK to send a BABY home with me? After all, what did I know about being a mother???
Do you remember the tears I cried as we struggled to figure out how to nurse?
What about the sleepless nights when I wanted to call it quits? Do you remember those?
Oh, and how about when Joshua was born? Remember the frustration I had in learning how to change his diapers? Boys are so different! It was laughable in the hospital, but it got old pretty quickly. You saw those tears, too, didn't you?
Then Matthew came along. Remember how I struggled to be a mommy to THREE children? Oh, the trouble I had keeping two occupied while I cared for the third!
Those days were really hard, LORD.
As the children grew, the challenges grew, too. Do you remember that? Do you remember how we struggled through potty training, setting boundaries, and adjusting to school and homework? Remember that day when I sat outside the kitchen door and actually questioned Your wisdom in giving me children?
I imagine you overheard me thinking about how I'm so jealous of You. You have perfect wisdom and You always know the right thing to do; the right amount of and approach to discipline. You always know how things are going to turn out, so You never second-guess the way You are shaping Your children. And You do everything with love. Perfect love. Oh, how I wish I could be a mother like you are a Father!
God, I know You remember all these things. You have been watching over me and my children all this time. And You have been faithful. Those angry outbursts from Joshua, which I thought were going to do me in? They don't happen anymore. The bickering over toys and clean-up time? You've brought us past it. Even the endless battles over bath nights are behind us. I've been a mommy for over seventeen years now, and I am so, so very thankful for Your faithfulness through it all.

But, God? I'm still struggling.

The challenges are new, and I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing. We have to chose a college for Elizabeth. Joshua's teen-age angst is too much for me most days. I desperately want to understand Matthew's heart but I don't know how to get there. My babies aren't babies anymore, God, but mothering is still hard!

You knew this would happen, didn't You? And You know how it's all going to be resolved.
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness over the past seventeen years. And thank You that I can have confidence in Your continued faithfulness for the rest of our days


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We Better Do It Next Year

As we were driving away from Cedar Campus at the end of our vacation, I had a sad realization.

Brian asked if everyone had a fun time, and if we all wanted to come back again. Of course the response was a resounding YES!
Then he asked if we should come back next summer, or the one after that. I thought for a moment and realized, We better do it next year. Because "the one after that" will be the summer after Elizabeth's first year of college. And maybe she won't be coming home for the summer. Maybe she'll be a camp counselor, or maybe she'll stay on campus for a summer job, or maybe...who knows what she'll be doing?

Once I went to college, I never moved back home to stay. All my college summers were spent away, then I graduated and got married. The summer after my senior year in high school was the last time I lived at "home", and I realized the same thing might be true of my baby girl.

So, we better take that vacation next year.


Monday, September 09, 2013

Friday, September 06, 2013

Today I'm at Britta's

Several years ago during my first-ever read-thru-the-Bible, I was struck by Leviticus 26 and how I could see a parallel for motherhood in it. So I wrote my own version of that chapter.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Leviticus here and a friend commented about having studied the book. Since she's also a mom I sent her a copy of my Leviticus 26 rendition for her enjoyment. Annnnd, she asked if she could re-post it on her blog. I was only too happy to oblige. *grin*

So, today I am inviting you to go visit Britta and enjoy a chuckle as you read Leviticus 26 a la Motherhood.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Beauty and the Beau: Foreshadowing

This picture was taken when Nick was asking Elizabeth to a dance.
He edited it on the computer and added the words when he visited us last month.

Be still, my heart!


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

How Can You Tire of a Miracle?

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

Numbers 11:4-6

We never see anything but this manna!
Does that statement cause anyone else to do a double-take?
Or am I the only one?
Back in Exodus 16, manna came on the scene for the very first time. The Israelites had been grumbling because they were hungry. They accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt and into the desert to starve them to death. But God told Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you." (Ex. 16:4) And that is just what He did. In the morning when the dew was gone, "thin flakes like frost" covered the ground. And they tasted like wafers made with honey. (Read Exodus 16 for all the details.)
And that was it! Every morning - through no effort of their own - the Israelites were provided with bread from heaven. God performed a miracle for them Can you even imagine what that would have been like?
Hmmmm. I wonder what's for breakfast today? Oh, look! God gave us manna again!
Every morning. Another display of God's faithfulness and power in the miracle of manna.

Yet, somehow by the time we make it to Numbers 11, they're tired of it. "We never see anything but this manna!" And I'm left thinking, What? How can you tire of a miracle???
I understand, these men and women were tired. Probably scared. All that walking through the desert likely made them a bit *ahem!* irritable. But part of me wants to grab their shoulders, look them in the eyes, and plead with them, "C'mon, folks! This is God we're talking about. This manna He's providing is a miracle. Do you hear me? A miracle! You wake up every morning and - Bam! - there it is. How could you possibly be tired of this?"
Standing on the outside looking in, I could see the wonder of what HE had done. In my heart I just wanted the Israelites to embrace the miracle, and honor God for His power and faithfulness.

Just as I came to that realization, God met me with another one: Sometimes I'm just like them!

Fellow mom, are you ready for this?
Motherhood is a miracle.
Our children are miracles.
They're gifts!
Yet, there are moments, days, weeks even - when I am so tired of motherhood. Sometimes I want to legally change my name so I no longer feel compelled to respond whenever someone wails, "Mmmoooooooommm!" There, in the midst of the trial, my view is clouded and I neglect to see my children as the miracles they are. Do you know what I'm talking about?
That's why on the day I was reading about the Israelites despising manna, I felt like God was opening my eyes. In the same way I wanted to plead with the Israelites, I believed God wanted to plead with me. Karen, I understand you get tired. I know motherhood can be scary when you can't see what's around the corner. And you get irritable when you have to go through the same thing over and over again. But I want you to remember, dear one, these children are miracles. Do you recall at their birth when you would marvel at their little toes and eye lashes, and wonder at how I could do such an amazing thing? They've grown bigger, but they're still miraculous. Darling, when you're tired of motherhood, please pause for a moment and remember the miracle.

May these words speak to your heart as they spoke to mine!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Swimming Without Suits

Some would call it *almost* skinny dipping.

Others would call it crazy.

We called it family bonding.

Last week on vacation, we hiked to Narnia. Narnia is a very cool place at Inter Varsity's Cedar Campus with great big rocks dotting the water, and a wooded area where the trees are actually growing over the rocks. It took us about 45 minutes to get there and, by the time we arrived, we were quite warm. **Read that: It was hot, and we were sweaty.
We sat down our picnic lunches and began jumping from rock to rock. (A no-no according to Cedar Campus policy, but how could we resist?) And before we knew it, Josh had thrown off his shirt, jumped into the water, and was swimming to a rock farther out in the lake. Matthew was intrigued by his brother's method of cooling off and exploring rocks, so he threw off his shirt and shorts and jumped into the water in his boxers. And Brian followed suit.
Which left Elizabeth and I sitting on a big rock contemplating how we could go swimming.

After going through various options, and looking to Brian for moral support ("It'll be family bonding," he said.), it became an issue of I-will-if-you-will.
And, we did.
Elizabeth and I threw off our shirts and shorts and jumped in the water, too.
We all swam from rock to rock, fully enjoying the adventure. At times with our teeth chattering, and at times laughing so much we forgot how cold the water was. Certainly not thinking about how hot and sweaty we were just moments before.
There came a time when Brian and I had to take turns helping a very cold and tired Matthew swim back to the mainland, and for a moment I wondered if this escapade had been such a good idea after all. But - once we were all safely back, and beginning to warm up again - I can honestly say, I was so glad we'd done it.
Even more so, I was so glad I had participated. My nature tends to be one of playing-by-the-rules and doing-what's-safe-and-comfortable. Stripping down to almost-nothing and jumping off big rocks into cold water simply isn't "normal" for me. It would be much more likely for me to caution my family about doing something so crazy, and then to sit safely on the perch of a dry rock while I watch the rest of them have fun together.
But this time, I joined in.
It was cold, almost risque, and ever-so-slightly dangerous.

And it was totally worth it for the family bonding!