Friday, February 28, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

True friends don't come with strings.

Have you ever had someone help you with something, and felt later as if you "owed" them back for the favor? As if the thing they did for you came with stings attached?
Sometimes that happens. A person does you a favor - but they don't forget about it. And when their own need arises, they're quick to remind you of "that time" when they helped you.

Don't get me wrong! I'm all for mutual support. I'm a big believer in the many-hands-make-light-work concept. But I saw an example this week of how that mutual benefit was impossible. And the picture of friendship it painted was inspiring.

P has been having trouble with her computer and has a friend (J) who's been helping her get everything fixed. P has said to me more than once, "I feel like I am so indebted to J. He has spent so much time helping me with this computer." And I've tried to assure her that he helps her because he's a good friend. He likes to do things for her.
Then, two days ago I was in P's apartment and had the privilege of meeting L, J's wife. L was standing at the ironing board pressing some of P's things. P told me, "She came over to check on me, and just started ironing my things." L simply smiled.
I reminded P that friends take care of us, and she has good friends. P was quick to agree.
And I was quick to be delighted. Here was this couple who had no real "obligation" to P. (They aren't related to her. They're simply her daughter's friends.) And there is clearly nothing P can do to benefit either one of them. She has enough trouble walking down to the dining room without wearing herself out. But that doesn't matter to J and L. They aren't looking for what she can do for them. They just care. They want to help P. And they aren't looking for anything in return.

Just then, L asked, "Is there anything else that needs to be ironed?" When she realized there wasn't, she said good-bye and quietly excused herself. And as I watched her go it occurred to me:
True friends don't come with strings.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beauty and the Beau: What's the Difference?

The Sadies Hawkins dance took place on Saturday.
And it gave me a great picture of the difference between girls and boys.
Er, between Beauties and Beaus.

About 4:30 several young ladies came over to our house and immediately went downstairs to Elizabeth's room to get ready for the dance.

Beau and another girl's date made themselves comfortable on the couch with Matthew, and played the XBox.

I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready when I glanced at the clock.
I said to the two beaus, "Uh, dinner is going to be ready at 6:30."
After a brief pause, and no movement on their part, I followed up with, "And I think the goal is to take pictures after dinner is over. So, you probably ought to get ready for the dance."
And they did.

With that, I discovered the main difference between Beauty and the Beau:
What takes her two hours, he can do in 15 minutes. *wink*

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To Trust, or Not To Trust?

Last week during Bible study at Edgewood, we got into a discussion about what it means to trust God.

And what it means to NOT trust Him.

* While it may be true that You created the entire universe, I don't really believe You're big enough to handle my current circumstance.
* I know You can raise the dead to life, but I don't know if You can truly restore this broken relationship.
* Yes, You are perfect in wisdom. However, I'm not sure You know what You're doing in my life today.
* OK, so You promise to work all things for good, but I don't see how this situation is really in my best interest.
* I don't believe You are able.
* I have zero confidence in Your power.
* I don't think You are all-knowing, after all.

When we are in the midst of the struggle, I know we may feel these things.
Believe me, I've been there!
Yet, when I look at those feelings in words I think, I would never say that! But as we discussed it together last week we concluded, when we aren't trusting God - those are the words we're saying. With our hearts.

So I am continuing to line my feelings up with the Truth.
The LORD is my light and my salvation - so why should I be afraid?
The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

Psalm 27:1
Because if that is True, I can have full confidence in verse 2:
When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Do your feelings need to meet the Truth today?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Best Apology

Last week my kids had a couple days off school - for Presidents' Day weekend, and a professional day for the teachers - and Joshua wanted to spend one of those days fishing.
He got up early enough to ride with me into work, and I was going to drop him off at a fishing hole on the way. We'd made plans for the fishing trip the night before, and I told Joshua he needed to be ready to go by 8:25. Yet as the clock ticked that morning, and 8:25 got nearer and nearer, it wasn't looking like my young angler was going to be ready on time.
I tried so hard to be patient, not to nag, or get anxious. But I had a 9:00 meeting at work, and my boy was lagging.
Finally, the van was loaded with all the necessary fishing equipment and we were on our way. (About 8:28, *ahem*)
As we were pulling out of the driveway, I *might* have been releasing a heavy sigh.
At almost the same time, Joshua looked at me and said, "Thanks for your patience with me this morning. Sorry for making you practice it!"

And just like that, I recognized (read that: God spoke through my son) one more way God is using my children to refine me.
Oh, I made it to my meeting on time. But not before my Father gave me a chance to practice patience.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Psalm 27:1


Friday, February 21, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe. Which lesson should I pick to post?
This week contained so many "teachable moments" at Edgewood. It's hard to pick which one I want to share with you!
But, alas, I shall choose...

Whenever possible, speak into a young person's life.

This week at Edgewood, we had the pleasure of being visited by a small group of home-schooling moms and their children. They came in Monday afternoon with treats and games and lots of smiles, and filled the atrium with delight for all of us.
It was especially sweet to see a few of our ladies passing around a baby. They each were loving the opportunity to hold a little life in their arms. I'm sure I heard lullabies being sung, too.
As I was bustling around the atrium getting chairs, answering questions, snapping pictures, and all the other little things an activity director does, I couldn't help but notice L. L is a little girl, about 10 years old, who was among the children visiting with our community members. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable she was in her interactions with each of them. Even with some who are a little more difficult to understand. L was polite and animated and kind and warm. She had a way of relating to the men and women at Edgewood like none I've ever seen in a 10-year-old young person before.
The first thing I did was find L's mom, so I could share my observations with her. Because I think it's important for moms to hear good reports about their children...
And the second thing I did - just before the group left us Monday afternoon - was to call L over and have her sit down in front of me. I looked into her eyes and said, "L, I've been watching you here today, and I think God has given you a special gift. I think He has made you able to care for people and to love them well. I hope you will keep doing that for the rest of your life."
The smile on her face was a treasure to behold. But the greater joy for me is the hope that L will hold those words in her heart and remember them throughout her life. That God will use my words to encourage L to keep on loving. That when L walks into a day where she's feeling discouraged and unlovely, she'll remember "that lady" who saw something remarkable in her young life - and she'll choose to love.

Whenever possible, speak into a young person's life.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

HE Fulfills My Desires

So, what have we learned this week?

I want to be known, and I want to be special.
And when I was first realizing those desires, part of me felt ashamed. How self-centered of me, I thought. What a huge indication that I still have so far to go in learning to be self-less, and more like Jesus.
Until I felt God speaking to my heart asking me, What if it was I who gave you those desires? What if you are that way, because that's how I made you? And what if, My dear, what if I am the One who can fulfill those desires?

Ahhhhh. Spend some time pondering those questions!
I thought about my year of memorizing Psalm 139. I remembered how much it delighted me to realize how deeply God knows me. He knows my thoughts, my actions, my whereabouts. He knows my words - before I even say them. He knows what scares me, and what gives me hope.
Oh, He knows so.much.more than just my name. I am fully known by my Father.

Then I thought about one of my favorite Bible verses.
Zephaniah 3:17 ~

The LORD your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.
I have often been drawn to the image of God holding me in His mighty arms, quieting my anxious heart, and singing to me. I see the love in His eyes. I feel the tenderness of His touch. I hear the delight in His voice.
Is there any greater picture of "special"?
I think NOT.

And in that moment, I stopped being ashamed.
I want to be known.
I want to be special.
And I am not ashamed to admit it.
My Father in heaven has created me with these desires, because He created me to be in relationship with Him. And, while I'll have glimpses of happiness when these desires are met briefly on an earthly basis, I am rejoicing in the Truth that God fulfills them completely.
For all of eternity.

Have you ever considered the depth with which God knows you? Are you aware how special you are to Him? How does that make you feel?


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Want to be Special

Continuing on my little journey of self-discovery...

In addition to realizing I want to be known, I recently concluded I also have a desire to be special.

When Brian and I were on our cruise last month, we had the most delightful waitress. Her name was Lisabeth, and she was from Chile. I looked forward to dinner every night - not because I was hungry (Because, really, who gets hungry on a cruise? There's food everywhere!) - but because I was happy to see Lisabeth. She was charming and sweet and funny and cute, and she always made me smile. She was perfect for her job, and she really *made* the cruise for me.
And the thing is? I wanted to be a blessing back to her. I wanted to shine a light for her - like she did for me. I wanted her to be as happy about that 8:00 seating as I was. I wanted to make a difference in her life. To be special to her.
However, in the weeks following my vacation, I've lost that hope. I tried unsuccessfully to find Lisabeth on Facebook. Thought it would have been fun to stay in touch with her, and hopefully build into her life that way. But that isn't going to happen.
And I've realized she may well have forgotten me by now. She's had five weeks' worth of cruises since I was on the Serenade of the Seas. She's been busy delighting other travelers - suggesting appetizers and dinners and desserts, and telling her silly stories to bring laughter and joy to lots of other people. Hopefully, they have also been treating her kindly and making her feel like the treasure she is.
I'm sure in the midst of all that interaction with other people, Lisabeth has pretty much forgotten about "Karen from Michigan". I suppose I was special to her during the week of my cruise, but other people have taken on that role since then.
Hey, they've paid for it, and they deserve it. *wink*
Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad at the thought that Lisabeth probably doesn't remember me with fondness anymore. And admitting that sadness to myself is what made me realize that desire deep within me. The one which cries out, I want to be special!
And I don't mean a selfish kind of desire to be special - because you want to be the center of attention, or something. I mean the kind of special which makes a person glad they have known you. The kind of special that makes another person smile when they think of you - because you're a treasure to them. That's the kind of special I want to be. Are you with me?

C'mon back tomorrow so I can wrap these reflections up with the assurances God has been putting in my heart over the past several days.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Want to be Known

Last Friday I walked into the bank and stood in line with several other customers. I observed the other people, read the news scrolling across the TV screen, and tried ever so diligently to be patient. (It was a slow line, and I was tired.)

Finally, it was my turn.

I looked up and met the teller's eyes as he said, "Hi, Karen. How may I assist you today?"

And that nearly did me in.

I thought to myself, He knows my name! I'm not just another deposit to make, or check to cash. I'm a person, and he knows my name!
I know bank tellers and cashiers and many other customer-service-type-folk often use your name after you've handed them something with your name on it. They can read, and it is appropriate for them to use your name after they've read it. I think it's a nice touch.
But Lionel (I read his name tag!) said my name before I even approached the counter.
He knew my name, and that made me feel so happy.

I have thought about this interaction several times over the past few days. And each time I consider the delight I felt because someone knew my name, I realize one of my great desires:
I want to be known.
I'm not talking about "known" as in being famous. I don't mean my desire is for "Karen Hossink" to be the name which comes to mind whenever a woman thinks of someone she'd like to invite to her church to speak to a ladies group. Although that'd be OK with me. *wink*
I mean I want to be known, as in - I don't want to be just another customer at the bank, or member in the pew at church, or mom in line for conferences. I don't want to be anonymous, just another face in the crowd. I am somebody - a unique individual - and I want someone to KNOW me.
And Friday, when Lionel called me by name, I felt known.
I wasn't "Next!" or "Ma'am" or "Good afternoon".
I was "Karen".
And he knew it.

How about you? Can you relate to this desire to be known?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trimming Truffles

Last weekend Elizabeth was really excited. She had an idea for what she wanted to make Nick (a.k.a. "Beau") for Valentine's Day. And, you know, my girl never does anything "small".
She wanted to make truffles to take to Nick when she visits him this weekend.
Seems she did some internet searching and found three amazing recipes for amazing truffles. And she wanted to make all of them.

As Elizabeth was going over the recipes and making a list of the ingredients she would need to buy, she began to be discouraged. Because the list was long.
So, she thought about it, and came up with a solution.
She said to me, "Will you tell me which ingredients I need to buy, and which ones you would be willing to buy?"
Her question led to a short conversation about her money situation - what she had, and what she needed. Seems she had enough money to buy all the ingredients, but she also needed money to buy other things. And she didn't think she had enough for ALL of it.
Honestly? It wouldn't have been a real big deal for me to purchase some of the ingredients for her, but I was seeing a bigger picture than just the truffles for Valentine's Day. (Besides the fact that I wasn't sure how Elizabeth would have enough time to make all three of those recipes without putting herself under unnecessary stress.) So I told her I wasn't going to buy any of the ingredients. And I suggested it might be a better idea to only buy what she could afford. Perhaps she could make two of the recipes, rather than all three.
After another short conversation, we settled on two of the recipes (i.e. We "trimmed" the truffles.) and Elizabeth bought her ingredients. And she was able to purchase the other things she needed.

So, Nick ~ sorry about some of your treats getting nixed. I'm sure they would have been delicious and you would have thoroughly enjoyed them. But I thought it more important to help Elizabeth make wise choices, than for you to have three kinds of truffles. I'm hoping to help your future *wife* learn about fiscal responsibility.
You're welcome. ;o)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


"What is my beloved doing in my temple as she works out her evil schemes with many? Can consecrated meat avert your punishment? When you engage in your wickedness, then you rejoice."

Jeremiah 11:15
I read the above verse last week and had to quickly re-read it.

Did God really just call the people of Judah beloved?

I asked that question because in the verses just before 15, the LORD was detailing Judah's wickedness toward Himself, and their affiliation to false gods. How, then, I wondered, could HE call them 'beloved'?
These people had acted disobediently - over and over again. Just like their forefathers. God had repeatedly called them to repentance, sent prophets to speak Truth to them, and warned them of impending disaster if they did not turn from their wicked ways. Yet, they continued in rebellion. To the point that God was just about to bring on the anguish He'd threatened.

So, WHY was He calling them 'beloved'???

I was so stuck on that word.

And, I think God was similarly stuck on loving His people.

HE saw their wickedness and rebellion, yes. HE hated their detestable sins, yes.
But nothing could mar God's love for His children.

Even as God carried out His righteous wrath, He remembered His love for His people.
Always with reconciliation in mind.
Always desiring for His wayward children to come back home.

Because they were His beloved.


Do you recognize 'beloved' as your name today?
No matter what you have done, or how far you have strayed from God, He loves you.
You are His beloved. He made a way for you to be reconciled with Himself through Jesus Christ. You have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus, as He shed it on the cross for you.
Now, will you receive this gift of redemption and take your place as His beloved?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I'm a Word Nerd

I am not sure when it started.
For as long as I can remember I have loved words, and word games.
Word searches, crossword puzzles, word jumbles, and cryptograms. Give me a newspaper, and the first thing I look for are these word-things.
Yeah, I know a newspaper has lots of other words in it.
But I like the fun aspect of words. Puns, word-plays, and the like.

However, I didn't realize how serious my addiction is until I was recently compelled to buy a book. Simply because of a unique word-thing.
I read a blog post somewhere entitled, "The 10 Most Difficult Books to Write". One of the books featured in the post was called Gadsby, and the thing which made that book so difficult to write is the fact that the author completely left out the letter "e". From the entire novel!
I couldn't even imagine attempting such a thing and felt I had to read that book.
So I quickly got on Amazon and ordered myself a copy.

Gadsby was written in 1939 by Ernest Vincent Wright and is a charming story about a little town and the people who live there. I noticed a funny thing about myself, though, as I read the tale. Page after page, I realized I was far more concerned about determining where the author was avoiding use of words containing the letter "e" than I was interested in following the story-line.
Sometimes it was easy to spot. Like when he wrote "Dumbo's cousin" instead of "elephant", or "grand church ritual" instead of "wedding".
But other times I had to guess.
Did he write "hard, gruff ways" to avoid saying "stern"?
Was "big shouting officials" meant to replace "policemen"?
And so I read - enjoying the story, but having a lot more fun guessing where an "e" might have been used had Mr. Wright not taken on his challenge.

Now you know how a Word Nerd has fun. *wink*


Monday, February 10, 2014

Friday, February 07, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

A woman has the right to change her mind.

I don't know if the woman whose mind changed was D's, or her daughter's. But somebody changed her mind, and D didn't move out last Friday.
I have been a very happy girl this week. Every time I saw, spoke with, or hugged D.

And hopefully I will have a special video to share with you in a few weeks - in which you'll get to see D for yourself.
We're having fun at Edgewood, and I am so glad for this lesson:

A woman has the right to change her mind.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Another Thing a Friend Would Do

A few years ago I wrote a post about What a Friend Would Do.
A little attempt at humor, mixed with a plea for honesty among friends.

Monday afternoon while I was in the kitchen making dinner, my daughter and her friend were together at the table. And I observed another thing a friend would do.
But this time it isn't humorous.

Elizabeth was holding Snickers, and she was crying. And Michaela said, "C'mon. Don't cry!" But Elizabeth couldn't help it. Snickers (Elizabeth's pet rat) didn't look good. She was cold and not moving much, and Elizabeth was certain Snickers was about to die.
I had gotten a small towel in which Snickers was now wrapped, and Elizabeth was trying to warm up her furry little friend. She also needed to finish cleaning Snickers' cage - getting it comfy and ready so Snickers could rest again. But Snickers was cold, and Elizabeth wanted her to get warm.
So she asked Michaela, "Will you hold her while I finish her cage?"

Honestly? I don't think Michaela was super excited about snuggling with Snickers. She doesn't quite have an attachment to that critter like Elizabeth has. But Michaela is Elizabeth's BFF, so she set her homework aside and welcomed Snickers into her own arms.
And that's when I saw it.
That other thing a friend would do.
A friend would put aside whatever she's doing to help you in a moment of need. Even if that means holding your rat.

What remarkable thing has a friend done for you when you needed her support?


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why I'll Let My Son Fail

Yesterday my son wanted to skip first hour.
He had a math test and - though he had spent a great deal of time studying Monday night - he didn't feel ready for the test. He wanted to stay home and have more time to study. But I said, "No."
In mock astonishment my son said, "You mean, you want me to fail? I'm going to fail this test!"
I didn't say anything. Because everything I wanted to say was stuff he wouldn't want to hear. So I just remained quiet and held my ground.
Within minutes, he walked out the door to go to school.

The answer to my son's question is "no".
No, I did not want him to fail his math test. But I was willing to let him fail it. Because, honestly? Monday night was the first time I have seen him study math in a very long time.
I know he goes to math class every day, and the teacher presents new information, and he gets assignments. Every day. And, every day he could take his math book out at home and study those new concepts until he has mastered them. Then, when test day came along there would be no need for a major cramming session the night before.
But my son chooses not to operate in that manner.
Instead, he waits until the last minute to try to understand these things he should have been learning for weeks.
Don't get me wrong. I am happy to help him with the understanding, and Monday night I went over several problems with him. As did his sister.
But I will not play a part in teaching him that doing things "last-minute" is the way to succeed. This boy is half way through his eleventh year of school. He knows about homework and testing and how to be prepared. I am finished hounding him about it. At this point, I'm leaving it up to him to decide how to prepare.
If he doesn't want to put effort into learning the material until the night before a test? Fine. But I am not going to allow him to skip first hour (or second, or third, or fourth...) so he can have extra time to learn the stuff he should have been learning all along. In that case, yes, I'll let him fail. Because I know when he gets out into the "real" world he isn't going to be able to skip whatever so he can try to prepare for that which he should have been preparing for a very long time.

It just doesn't work that way "out here".

I want to let my son fail now - while it's still safe for him to do so. Because I realize, in order for him to learn - it might require failure. Goodness knows, he won't learn from me and take my advice. He's a teenager, after all.
(I was a teen, too, you know. I remember thinking my parents knew nothing.)

So, there you have it. The reason I will let my son fail.
Because I love him, and I want him to learn how to succeed.


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Survive This

My baby girl is growing up.

She's going to be eighteen in just over two months.
She'll graduate from high school a little more than a month after her birthday.
Then it'll just be a matter of three or four months until she leaves for college.
And who knows how often and for how long she'll be "home" after that???

I've known this part of life was coming.
Indeed, I've known since the day I learned I was pregnant that this girl is not my own, and my role is to raise her and prepare her for life beyond these four walls.
And I'm OK with that.
I know when Elizabeth is out "on her own" she will still need her mommy sometimes, and I fully intend to continue playing that role.

But recently, something happened for which I was not prepared, and it has affected my feelings about letting my girl go.
Elizabeth was gone for the weekend and, as Brian and I and the boys sat around the dinner table, something very strange happened to the conversation. Seemingly from out of nowhere, the guys started talking about scratching their *ahem!* balls. (Or nuts, or nads...they used all the terms.)
And when they saw my reaction, they kicked it into high gear.
As if they were thoroughly enjoying my lack of comfort or desire to hear more.
Their laughter and camaraderie was quite a thing to observe, as they built on one another's jokes and comments to create their own little comedy show. Somewhere deep down in my heart, I'm sure I was treasuring the male-bonding which was taking place before me. But on the surface, while I considered the reality that one day soon this will be my reality - three males in the home, plus little ol' solitary female-me - I could only think one thing: I'm scared.

Oh, mothers of all-boy-households, how - tell me how - do you do it???


Monday, February 03, 2014