The one thing I ask of the LORD - the thing I seek most - is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 27:4I am memorizing Psalm 27 with two of my friends, and we are currently working on verse 4. I love this psalm, and particularly - this verse. It paints such a beautiful picture of the heart of a person who truly seeks the LORD. Wanting nothing more than to just be with HIM. *Ahhhhh* But a funny thing happened to me when I started memorizing this verse. It's kind of a long verse, so I decided to memorize it in two parts. For the first couple of days I was rehearsing, The one thing I ask of the LORD- the thing I seek most-. Repeating those words over and over made me wonder: What is the "one thing" I seek most? Well, there's peace in the midst of my chaos, wisdom for raising my children, grace to deal with difficult people in my life, courage to do the right thing, and various needs for several people who are on my heart. Yeah, that's a lot more than "one thing". But it's a pretty good representation of the thing(s) I seek most. Annnnnd, before I go any further~ Let me just say this: I am more than confident that God loves to meet our needs. HE created us. We are HIS. And I believe it delights God's heart when we acknowledge our dependence on Him by asking Him to supply everything we need to make it through our days. However, when I started memorizing the second part of verse 4 my heart came under conviction. Because I saw a vast difference between the psalmist's "one thing" and mine. The psalmist wasn't looking at his circumstances for his "one thing". Rather, he was looking at the LORD. And I have to believe focusing on the LORD had a beautiful impact on his heart. Oh, to want nothing more in life than to live in the house of the LORD, to delight in His perfections, and meditate in His Temple. And so, in the midst of learning Psalm 27:4, I am also asking God to continue the transformation of my heart and my desires. Because I want to be able to say with the psalmist, The one thing I ask of the LORD - the thing I seek most - is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I received an email over the weekend from a mother of young children who is at her wits' end with all the things she needs to do. And as I was typing out my response to her I thought, "OK. This needs to be a blog post." Because I believe the thing with which she is struggling is common to all women. Which one of us, if we are being honest, can say we are unable to relate to this statement I read in her email?
I am so overwhelmed and overworked. Some days I just want to cry. I can't do it all, and it is so hard when I can never catch up.My kids were once 5, 3, and 1 - like hers are now - and I certainly remember having those feelings. And now that my children are 18, 16, and (almost)14? I still have those feelings!But there is a difference now - even though I still get overwhelmed. And that difference is, I no longer feel like a failure for not being able to "do it all". I no longer feel like a failure because my kids, my home, and my self are not perfect. The thing which brought me to this point is simple - even while being very hard for me to grasp. It is GRACE. *It is the realization that my kids, my home, and my self do not need to be perfect. *It is the understanding that my Father is using these hard times I'm experiencing to create a beautiful me. *It is the conviction that my identity and my self-worth are not dependent upon my ability to "do all things". *It is the confidence that God will faithfully see me through every trial, every disappointment, every time I fall. It doesn't make much sense to my logical, methodical way of thinking. But in God's economy, it is perfectly reasonable. HE imparts grace to me - to us - so "failure" may be taken completely out of our vocabulary. Fellow mom, are you nodding your head in understanding of this need for grace? Do you spend more time beating yourself up for your failures than you do believing that your kids are going to turn out just fine? If so, please accept my invitation to explore grace today. I told you what grace means to me. What does it look like for you? Spend some time asking God to draw you a picture of grace. I pray HE will give you the courage to believe and embrace it!
Monday, April 28, 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
Kids remember what moms say.One of our favorite games to play at Edgewood is "Hangman". You know the game, right? *First you draw steps and a pole with a noose. *Then you decide on a word or phrase to be guessed, and draw the appropriate dashes and spaces for each letter. *And then you invite people to guess letters which might be in the puzzle - and you fill in the dashes with the correct letters as they're guessed. And, the incorrect guesses turn into body parts drawn into the noose, with a goal of solving the puzzle before "hanging" the man. Wow, that sounds really morbid when you write it out. *wink* Anyway, there is a significant group of folks who love playing that game with me at Edgewood. And I love finding words and phrases which will get them thinking. I use lots of nursery rhyme titles - which always ends in us reciting the ditties, spending a little time "remembering when". But my favorite Hangman category has to be "Adages". Except this week, we re-named that category. Now I'm calling it, "Things Your Mother Probably Used to Say". Because... When I was picking this week's puzzles, T was in the activity room talking with me. She asked about the categories for Hangman this week and I told her I was choosing nursery rhymes and adages. T told me how much she loves the adages, because they remind her of her mom. Seems T's mom often spoke those wise sayings to her daughter. "A man is known by the company he keeps," T recited. And, "Haste makes waste." I enjoyed the smile in T's eyes as she remembered moments with her mother. And after just about every adage puzzle was solved on Wednesday, I heard T saying, "My mom always used to say that!" So there you go, mom-friend. Keep speaking words of Truth and wisdom to your children. Day after day after day.Kids remember what moms say. Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Brian and I and the boys sat around the table for quite a while after dinner Tuesday evening. It all started with Joshua asking something like, "When we were little kids, did you ever just want to throw us away?" I'm not sure where that question came from, but it led to Brian and I confessing to moments of extreme frustration as parents of very little ones. And the acknowledgement that we've made it through. Then we turned the tables on the boys and asked, "Is there anything you want to confess?" In the conversation which followed, we learned that they had turned a hose on our neighbor and soaked her - because they thought she was mean. Matthew admitted to jumping off his bike and letting it tumble to the side every time he approached a corner - because he didn't know how to stop. And they really knew they were being too reckless with a particular game they played, but they enjoyed it so much it was worth the risk.We continued our "Remember When" conversation by talking about how the kids used to fight over who got to sit on Mom and Dad's laps after dinner. Oh, I remember wanting to just get up from the table on those evenings and carry on with dishes, bedtime routines, etc. Now, I'm cherishing the memories. We laughed as we recalled the kids' fascination with Pokemon cards, and how they "tricked" their teachers by saying they had to use the bathroom - when really they were meeting a friend in the restroom to trade cards. And I remembered thinking those cards were such a waste of money. Didn't realize then what a fond memory they would be years later. And the ramp outside our old house. We remembered when the kids would ride a little red scooter down that ramp over and over again. I could almost hear the thump, thump, thump, thump, thump of the wheels rolling over the boards. Oh, was it ever noisy. Especially when coupled with the squeals of delight coming from the kids as they raced down that ramp. I remembered how frequently I wondered if the noise bothered our neighbors. I worried about the kids scuffing up their toes and knees. And I thought maybe I should put an end to the ramp-riding game. Then it occurred to me, none of the neighbors ever complained about the noise. There was one incident of a severely scuffed toe, but it healed. And, honestly, at this moment I can't even remember which kid's toe it was! I'm so glad I didn't make them stop the fun they were having. Moms of older kids, I know you understand where my heart is right now. Looking back on days gone by, and cherishing the memories. And moms of still-little-ones, I promise you this: Although the days are long, and I know they're hard, you will make it through. I'm not gonna lie and say, "There'll come a time when you'll miss these days!" Cuz I remember - and there are lots of those days I am not missing. But there are countless moments to treasure. Enjoy every one of them!
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
My computer seems to be having "issues".Every time I turn it on it goes through the same cycle: Configuring Windows updates. Do not turn off your computer. Followed by... Failure to configure updates. Reverting changes. Every.time.And I'm entirely too cheap to take it somewhere to be "fixed". Er, and maybe too
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.And I wonder, Am I being transformed, or am I reverting changes? With everything in me, I want to be transformed. I want to think like God, and love like God, and live in a way which honors and reflects Him. But some days I feel like I'm having issues. And I'm afraid that if there were a screen attached to me it would say, "Failure to configure updates. Reverting changes."Am I alone in this battle? Gracious Father, thank you for Your patience with me. With all of us! Please give us grace today to understand the updates You want to make in our hearts and minds. Please strengthen our resolve to obey Your will for us, so we don't have to keep 'reverting changes'.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
Sometimes, "little" things aren't.I have many, many opportunities at Edgewood to do - or see others doing - "little" things: *opening a door *sharing a smile *pulling out a chair *speaking a kind word *checking the mail *rubbing a shoulder The list goes on and on. Lots of little things which seem rather insignificant. Until, you see the other side. This week I was talking to my grandmother and she told me about one of the aides who comes to care for her. Grandma mentioned the things this woman does - which are all part of her job - and said how much she appreciates her help. Then a certain sparkle appeared in her eyes when she said, "AND, she stays a few minutes longer to talk to me."That's when I realized the sparkle actually came from the tears welling up in Grandma's eyes. And I could see how very deeply it touched her that someone stuck around for a few minutes just to spend time with her. In a world of people rushing around to get this and that done, someone took time to notice my grandma, and it meant so much to her.Grandma's aide probably thought she was doing a little thing. But that isn't the way my grandmother saw it. To her, that little thing was HUGE. As you go through your day today - and tomorrow - and all the rest of the days of your life - may I encourage you to do the "little" things? You just never know what a difference you may be making in the world. Sometimes, "little" things aren't. Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Posted by Karen Hossink at 6:00 AM
Thursday, April 17, 2014
So, I have an enemy.AND, I have a Savior. The battles in my life are between them - the spiritual forces (See Ephesians 6:12). That understanding has been crucial for me. Because, for a very long time, I believed my battle was with people. *read that: my kids, my husband, and even myself* In fact, I believed I was battling them. And I was always coming out the loser. Because I was believing all those lies my real enemy was telling me. "You're a failure." "You're a terrible mom." "You aren't worthy of anyone's love." Have you been believing likes like those, too? That time in my life - when I saw people as my enemies - had me defeated and hopeless. I knew I couldn't defeat my enemies. I loved them. I would never want to harm them! So I was stuck in my struggle, hating my circumstance but feeling like there was nothing I could do about it. Oh, what relief I experienced when my Savior came through for me and helped me see the Truth:I have one enemy: Satan.I have one Savior: JESUS.Jesus defeated my enemy when He died on the cross - conquering sin and death; and He continues to defeat my enemy every day when I let Him fight my battles.And that means...my children, my husband, my self, and all other flesh-and-blood-beings on the planet are NOT my enemy.Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, thank You, Jesus!Have you been believing you are battling against flesh and blood? Have you been viewing people as your enemy? Read Ephesians 6:12 a few times, and ask God to help you understand what is True. Then, put on your battle gear and let your Savior fight for you!
Posted by Karen Hossink at 6:00 AM
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
It's true. I have an enemy.And he wants to ruin me. BUT there is a Truth which is even bigger. And it makes me a victor. That is... I have a SAVIOR. My enemy does not have the last word, because my Savior has defeated him. When my enemy tells me I'm a terrible mom, my Savior points to the cross - where He paid the price for every single one of my sins, faults, and failures. When my enemy plants doubts in my heart about my marriage, my Savior reminds me of the Truth and gives me grace to keep on going. When my enemy hisses in my ear about my insecurities, my Savior stretches out His arms and speaks to my heart, Remember, Karen, I love you so much I was willing to die for you. Being honest: Sometimes I fall under the lies and pressure of my enemy. Sometimes I start to think he's telling the truth - and that I really have no hope. But always, always my Savior reveals the Truth to me. In one way, or another, He helps me recognize my enemy's tactics. My Savior reminds me that I am a victor in Him, and I don't have to be a victim of my enemy. He stirs my heart to fight my battle by the power of His Spirit, and - with a little heavenly feisty-ness - I begin to arm myself. (See Ephesians 6:10-20.) With Truth, His righteousness, faith, peace, salvation, and a whole lot of prayer I am able to stand in the face of my enemy. By the power of my Savior's Spirit. And that? That changes everything!
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Someone hates me.He is my enemy. He wants to ruin my life. Wishes to do anything he can to make me miserable. To trip me up and make me fall. So he can watch me squirm, helpless and hopeless. My enemy wants me to despise motherhood. He wants me to get frustrated and discouraged, so I throw my hands up in the air and just give up. He sets me up to hear lies, lies, and more lies. Like, "You're a terrible mother." "Your kids deserve so much more than you can give. You're a failure." "You will never be able to control your temper or your tongue. So you might as well quit trying." And he loves it when I start believing what I hear. My enemy wants to destroy my marriage. He wants to drive a wedge between Brian and me. Perhaps he'll plant doubts in my mind so I start to think I can't trust my husband. Sometimes he tries getting me so preoccupied with work and kids and running-the-home that I'm flat out too exhausted to spend quality time with Brian. I know my enemy knows there is great power for the kingdom of God in a healthy marriage, and he doesn't want that threat coming from Brian and me. So he'll do whatever he can to crush us.My enemy wants to sabotage my Christian witness, too. He wants me to defame the Name of God. Nothing would please him more than for me to stop trusting God. To get frustrated with the wait, or the struggle, or the uncertainty - and just turn my back on Him. And even to believe the lie that God doesn't really love me. That He could never love a failure like me. That's what my enemy wants me to think. Yes. I have an enemy. But that isn't the end of my story. I also have a Savior. And, because of Him, I can be victorious. Because of Him, I have hope. Even in the face of my enemy.
Friday, April 11, 2014
There is no such thing as "coincidence".Most days when I'm praying in the morning, I ask God for a very specific thing. I say to Him, LORD, please order my steps today. I ask Him to do this because I'm forgetful, and I need Him to cover for me. I ask him to do it because I get stressed when there are "too many" things to do, and I need Him to make sure I get the necessary things done. I ask Him to order my steps because I know His plans are so much better than mine. I ask because I want to be where HE wants me to be. And can I just say? God was so obvious in the ways He ordered my steps this week. When I forgot something and had to go back to my desk to retrieve it - and on the way back to where I was going, I encountered someone who needed assistance - I knew God was ordering my steps. When the lesson "I" chose for Bible study spoke so directly to the hearts of those who were present - I knew God was ordering my steps. When I got held up in one activity, only to encounter a needy someone - whom I would've missed if I'd been on time - I knew God was ordering my steps. Since praying this prayer, and seeing the ways God orchestrates my days, I have become absolutely convinced - with God, there is no such thing as "coincidence". Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
As if the grey, curly hair wasn't enough, as of tomorrow I will definitely not be able to deny the fact that I am getting old(er).As of tomorrow, I will have an adult child. That is, Elizabeth is turning 18. Which makes her a legal adult.Which makes me feel old.Annnnd, this sweet daughter of mine has reached another major milestone. She has decided where she wants to spend the next four years of her life. Come this fall, my girl will be leaving us to attend Wheaton College. Yes, Wheaton. As in, just west of Chicago. As in, that's a very long drive. And I'm sure going to miss her! But her college decision has been much prayed over, and I feel very good about her choice. All through this process we have been asking God to show us where He would have her go. We've been asking Him to prepare the way. Because there is NO WAY we could get Elizabeth through Wheaton ($$$$) without Him making it possible.He has made it possible. So, I am readying myself for some big changes. And I'm not even going to get into the whole they-grow-up-so-fast bit. Though, they do. I still remember sitting in the hospital while Brian went back to our apartment to get the car seat, so we could take Elizabeth home. It doesn't seem so long ago that I was dropping her off at school for the first time. Or that she lost her first tooth. And started writing in cursive. And riding a two-wheeler. And going places without me. And, and, and...like I said, I'm not going there.For today, I am just going to enjoy the fact that I still have a house full of CHILDREN.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Me: (looking in the mirror) Oh! Look at that! (pointing to strand of hair) It's completely white, and curly!Brian: (not impressed) You only have one? Me: Oh, no. There are more.(pouting) But they aren't all curly like this one. Brian: OK. Wanna know my woe for the day? I found three very dark hairs (pause for emphasis) growing on my ear. Me: Oh. That's bad. (pause to let moment of sympathy take affect) But at least they weren't growing on your nose. That would be really bad.Yes, Brian and I have deep conversations before bedtime. *wink*
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
One of the benefits of being a Mommy Blogger is that sometimes you are given special opportunities. Because an entity wants you to promote their product/service/event/website/ blog/whatever. And, quite honestly, most of the requests I receive for such promotions - I politely refuse. I don't want you to come here and feel like you're watching a commercial, or reading an advertisement. Because, what fun is that??? *wink*But every once in a while, I receive an invitation which I don't refuse. Because it's something I'm pretty sure is going to be a good thing. For both of us! Such was the case a couple of months ago when I received an invitation to see a pre-release screening of Moms' Night Out. Because, really. Who doesn't want a moms' night out??? So, after weeks of waiting, last Thursday finally arrived and I traveled to Grand Rapids to see the show with my friend, Kaira.OK. Being honest here. I was slightly nervous going in to watch the movie. Because I really wanted it to be good. But sometimes Christian films are a bit cheesy. I was also concerned that this film might portray dads as incompetent fools who can't manage the kids without mommy. And I didn't want to see that. I wanted Moms' Night Out to be a fun, realistic, not-cheesy, feel-good flick - to which I would be happy to take any of my mom-friends, whether they are Christian, or not. So, I was a little nervous going in. Because I didn't want to be disappointed with what I saw. And... I totally loved it!!! The characters were very real. I could relate to the struggles they faced in motherhood. They were refreshingly honest. I often wanted to reach through the screen and hold their hand, to assure them they aren't alone. Yet, at times I laughed so hard I thought I might wet myself. And the incompetent-fool-dad-factor? Was nowhere to be found. *whew!* Sooooooo, friends, here's the pitch: Moms' Night Out opens in theaters May 9. It would be a fabulous moms' night out event for you and your mom-friends. It would also be a great date. Or a family outing. Hey, I'm confident those of you without children would enjoy it, too. It's that good.I've provided the link above so you can easily find a theater near you which will be showing the film. Please go see it. Let's show Hollywood this kind of entertainment is worth their time and effort!
Monday, April 07, 2014
Friday, April 04, 2014
Givers have a hard time receiving.Anyone know what next week is? Why, it's National Volunteer Week. And, because we have so many fabulous volunteers who help keep life at Edgewood "full", we had a party this week to honor them - and to say THANKS! Yeah, I know. We had the party in the "wrong" week. My boss is on vacation next week, and I wanted her to be here for the party. So there! *wink* The plans had all been made - and most of the work had been done - when our guests of honor began arriving Wednesday afternoon. I went out to the atrium to greet them, and invite them to relax on the couches until the party started. And some of these wonderful people tried to rebel against me. Seriously. They said things like, "What can I do?" and "How can I help?" and "Do you need assistance with anything?" And I'm all, "Hello!!?? This is a Volunteer Appreciation Party! You're here so we can honor and thank you. You aren't here to work. Now sit down, and quit trying to be helpful!" I smiled at the scene I'd just lived, as I walked back into the dining room to finish putting things together. I mean, I understood them. These people are natural "givers". They love to serve. It's in their wiring. It's what they do! So I understood the trouble they had coming to a party and not being able to help. And I chuckled at the irony of the circumstance: Givers, not being allowed to give. Yet at the same time, I hoped with all my heart that these men and women would be able to slow down enough - to enjoy the event put on for them - so they would recognize how important they are to everyone at Edgewood. Because they are! For as much as I appreciate their hard work and dedication - their giving, I wanted them to receive our thanks. So now, I need to turn this lesson around to you. Are you a natural-born-helper? Do you love to give, and hesitate to receive? Would you rather host a party than be the guest of honor? Then you are probably well acquainted with this week's lesson.May I encourage you right now to let someone appreciate you? The next time a person says, "Thanks for all you do," will you resist the urge to say, "Awwww, it's nothing,"? Instead, try saying, "You're welcome. I'm so glad to know my contribution makes a difference to you." I know, I know. Givers have a hard time receiving. But if you are in that category, just for kicks, let someone serve you! Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
Monday I was in the kitchen making dinner when Elizabeth asked me a startling question."Mom, when you smoke weed..." Rather shocked, I turned to give her my full attention. I do not - nor have I ever(!) - smoke weed. I was poised to give my defense, while simultaneously questioning my daughter to find out where on earth she got the idea that I smoke weed. But as it turned out, none of my words were necessary. When Elizabeth finished her question I realized she was saying "you" in the generic sense. Not "you" as in me. See, she's writing an article for journalism in which she has been assigned the "anti" side of an argument. She has to write about why marijuana should not be legalized in Michigan. And the whole of her question was, "When you smoke weed, does it harm your lungs?" She wasn't asking me about my experience, she was looking for an argument against weed's legalization. Well, that made a big difference. Reminds me of the time my high school psychology teacher told us how important it is to know what your kids are asking. Her son approached her with the question, "Mom, what does 'Lay me' mean?" She said she was about to dive into a discussion about the birds and the bees when he clarified, "You know, when someone says, 'Now I lay me down to sleep.'" Whew!!!
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Saturday I was grocery shopping. When I got to the frozen vegetable isle, I walked up and down it four times - progressively slower with each pass. I was looking for pearl onions for the chicken pot pie I'm going to make this week, but I just couldn't find them. At first I took my usual brisk stride down the isle, then I walked slowly, then slower, until I was eventually going step, step, pause and scan; step, step, pause and scan. Finally I decided, Whatever! I don't really need those onions, anyway. And I walked over to pick out the ice cream. (Where I was much happier to spend time lingering until I found just the right flavor...)Were it not for the goodness of God, I'm sure I wouldn't have thought about those onions again. But God is good (All the time!) and I did think about those onions once more. I was back home, putting the groceries away when it happened. I opened the freezer, picked up a basket, and got a great big smile on my face. There before me was half a bag of pearl onions. I totally forgot I had them. But God knew. With every step I took in the frozen food section at Meijer, God knew I already had what I needed in my freezer. Were there really no pearl onions at the store? Or did HE just keep me from seeing them? I don't know. And, honestly? I really don't care! The fact of the matter is, as I looked at the bag of pearl onions in my freezer I had an overwhelming sense of peace. It was as if God were saying to me, See, Karen? I pay attention to every.thing. I know when you sit and when you rise. I perceive your thoughts from afar. I discern your going out and your lying down. I am familiar with all your ways. I even know what's in your freezer! And I asked myself, If God is that much into the details, why do I ever worry about my life?
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
AAAARRRGGGHHH!OK. I just needed to get that out. Thank you. Well, on second thought, maybe there's more I need to get out. I have just about had it with teenage attitude and immaturity around here! See, a certain teenage son of mine (the one with more experience being a teen *ahem*) seems to think he's so wise and clever that he can't keep his mouth from making "smart" comments. And every time we get into a disagreement about anything, he won't stop. That is, when I say something - intending to end the conversation - he has to make a rebuttal. Usually of the sarcastic nature. And it drives me nuts! So, last week we were in the midst of another disagreement (Over what? I cannot even remember.) and this experienced teen of mine was going on with his usual smart-alec comments and I-must-have-the-last-word-on-the-matter tirade. And as I sat on the couch trying to have the last word, myself, I found myself thinking, I cannot let him have the last word. If I do, he'll think he's right. He'll think he's out-smarted me, or that I am giving in and crowning him the winner of this argument. No! I must not let this child have the final say. I need to keep responding to his responses to prove to him that I AM RIGHT! Because, honestly, I was right. I mean, I'm the adult here. I know more than my teenage son. Right? For a moment I really did feel like I needed to keep going for the last word. Because I didn't want my son thinking he was going to have it. I didn't want him to think that by me staying quiet, I was indicating that I was giving in to his argument. Oh! What chaos would reign in this home if that boy began to think he was running the show. Besides, I just didn't like the idea of him thinking he was right and I was wrong. And I found myself thinking again, I must not let this child have the final say. I need to keep responding to his responses to prove to him that I AM RIGHT! Which is just about the moment God's Spirit convicted mine. I took a deep breath, bit my tongue, held my words and realized, I have just about had it with teenage attitude and immaturity around here! Yep. His and mine. Gracious Father, please help me out-grow my immaturity!