Monday, June 30, 2014

I Got Nothin'

I prayed.

I read my Bible.

I listened.

I watched.

I spent time reflecting.

I asked for help. For insight. For something.

But I got nothin'.

That's how it went the last time I was trying to make a video devotion for you. I got nothin'.

I turned off my computer, and as I sat in my living room - tempted to feel defeated - I recognized the heavenly irony of the whole situation. And I couldn't help but smile.
*I didn't have the sense that God was speaking to my heart about something to share with you - and I really wanted to have words with which to encourage you. But I had complete confidence that God is able to speak to your heart. And mine.
*I couldn't see you or know what you are facing in this moment, so as to know how to cheer you. But I had certainty that God sees you and knows what you need. Just as He sees me.
*I had no words to express the love and perfect plans God has for you. Yet my heart delighted in knowing He does. For both of us.
*Stories about God's trustworthiness, which might build you up, were escaping me. But I knew for a fact that He remains faithful and you can trust Him. As I can.
So I sat there saying to myself, I got nothin', but the Holy Spirit was telling me I have a God who knows my heart, who sees me in every moment, who loves me beyond anything I can imagine, and who is perfectly capable of meeting my every need.
And that's when I smiled at the irony of it all.

Because I realized in the midst of my feeling like I had nothing, the Truth was - I had everything. Karen

Monday, June 23, 2014

On Vacation


My family and I are taking a vacation this week. Which means my blog is, too.

LORD willing, I'll be back to posting next Monday.

Have a great week!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

When you like something, say so!

We've all heard the adage, The squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? Meaning, if you don't like something and you complain about it, that thing will get changed. Because - who likes to listen to a squeaky wheel? We give it oil so it shuts up!
OK. That wise old saying makes perfect sense to me. When something isn't right, speak up about it! (Or "squeak" up about it, as the case may be.)

But this week at Edgewood, I saw another kind of wisdom in action. A kind of wisdom which I think we really ought to put into practice more often than we are in the habit of doing. That is, I observed someone not complaining about something she didn't like. Rather, she was complimentary about something she did like.
I put together a little activity I thought our community members would enjoy ***Read that: I copied a great idea which I found by searching 'Senior Activities' on Google.*** and when it was over, B said to me, "That was great. We should do it again sometime!" She went on to tell me why she liked the activity so much and I assured her - we will do it again.
And you can be certain, when we do it again there will be a smile on my face as I make the plans. I will do everything I can to be sure B is able to participate with us, and I'll try to recruit even more people to play along. Because I know B enjoyed the game and I want to bring her joy again.

The thing is, it seems today we are so quick to point out the things which bother us but not the things we like. I can't tell you how many times I hold my breath - waiting for a complaint - when someone approaches me after a program. (And I don't mean just at Edgewood. Those folks tend to be quite appreciative.) I have a feeling you know what I mean.
And I must admit, sometimes I am the one complaining.
Maybe you are, too.

What a breath of fresh air it is when someone likes what you've done - and they tell you about it!
B encouraged me with her words, and I want to spread her wisdom.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. When things aren't right we need to squeak up. But let us not stop there. OK?

When you like something, say so!

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Will Dinner be Ready?

That question hasn't been so painful the past couple of weeks.

Because three nights a week, I haven't been the one who has to answer it!

My wonderful husband instituted a plan when school let out for the summer that each of the kids would be responsible for making dinner one night each week.
I'll help them pick out what they're making, and I get the groceries during my weekly shopping trip. I even am home to answer questions and provide necessary guidance as dinner is being prepared. BUT, I am not on my feet doing the work. (In fact, I *might* even be creating a blog post while dinner is being prepared.) And, I am loving it!
The kids are gaining valuable experience in the kitchen, they are proud of what they're doing, and I am getting a break at the end of long days a work. This.Is.Good.

OK. Honest moment here:
My first reaction to Brian's proposal was two-fold.
First, I thought, It'll never work. The kids will object and I'll spend all my time nagging and cajoling. Not looking forward to it!
And second, the control-freak in me started rearing her ugly head. I thought, But then, I won't have charge over dinner. I won't be in control. And that just doesn't feel right.

Thankfully, God got me past both of those objections and now we are all reaping the benefits.

I am sharing this story with you, not to make you jealous, but to encourage other control-freak-prone moms like me: Let it go! Give your kids a chance to do more of the work, to experience growing up, and to find joy in discovering what they can do. (Just don't go far, 'cuz they will need your help!)

Gotta go now. Josh says dinner is ready. *wink*


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOD Doesn't Need an Education

That was one of the profound statements I heard at church Sunday.

GOD doesn't need an education.
The context of the statement is this: We were entering into worship through song, and the worship leader was reading the words to us which we were about to sing. They were words describing God's power and faithfulness. We were reminded God doesn't need to be educated about how good He is, rather we need to be remembering that Truth ourselves.

Oh, how true it is!

God is fully aware of Who He Is. He knows it all. Even every little thing about our world and our little lives. There is nothing we can say which will surprise God, or catch Him off-guard. Nothing which will improve His knowledge or self-confidence.
Indeed, our worship, our prayers, the time we spend with God in His Word is not about us teaching Him about Himself. It's about God moving in and shaping us.

So, I look at my current memory verse and I say, "Yes."
My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with Me." And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming."

Psalm 27:8
Yes. Yes! I come, not because God has anything to learn from me, but because I need to know Him more.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This Kid!

So, I know I've reported here a time or two about Josh and his fishing exploits. But this time I have to include a picture. Because I am so stinkin' proud of my son.

What do you think about this one???
That big ol' fishy helped Josh earn second place in two different categories at a fishing tournament this past weekend. Which got him certificates for two guided fishing trips. He is uber excited, and I am just as happy for him.
For all the times I have gotten tired of Josh asking me to drive him here or there to go fishing, for all the times his teen-age angst has had me on my last nerve, for all the times I wonder if we're both going to survive his "childhood" - for all those times - it brings me so much joy to see him succeeding at something which he really loves.

Fellow mother-of-teens, have they got you at your wits' end today? Look for the joy!


Monday, June 16, 2014

It's All Good

Oh, the little purple paper on the wall above my shoulder? I hope it isn't too distracting. It's a note which says, "I love you." Joshua put it there years ago, and I simply canNOT take it down. *smile*


Friday, June 13, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Your life matters.

I had the opportunity yesterday to hear quite a lot about a man I knew a little bit.
J moved into Edgewood maybe a year ago with his wife, E. And sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas he moved into a memory care facility. So, I didn't have a lot of time with him. But during the time J was at Edgewood, I experienced a delightful - albeit confused - man. He had fairly advanced Alzheimer's, so real conversations with him pretty much didn't exist. Mostly, I just knew a pleasant disposition and frequent smiles.
Eventually, caring for J became too much for E to handle. She visited him regularly at his new home, and often came back with sad reports that he didn't remember her anymore. J's disease was overtaking him and before long, E told me he'd gone into a coma.
It was just a matter of time until he'd be going Home.
And so it was, about a month ago, E told me her husband of almost 68 years had been promoted. To heaven.

Yesterday I sat in the back of a small chapel at J's memorial service, listening to a lot of people I've never met - or only met a couple times - talking about a man I sure wish I'd known more. His children and grandchildren spoke of a man who loved his Lord, and cherished his family. I heard stories of J doing magic tricks with his son, teaching his grandchildren to draw, and even making a "coloring book" for his great-grandchildren. People talked about the many ways J served in churches, and the lives he impacted in each place. It was particularly touching to hear one of his grandsons talk about his desire to live out J's legacy of sharing the good news of Jesus.

As I took it all in, I became very inspired by this man who I only knew a little bit. He was a simple man - spent most of his career as a janitor in the local schools. By the world's standards, he didn't leave much of a mark. Clean schools years ago, but what difference does that make today?
Yet he was faithful - to his God and to his family. And he touched lives. That fact became very clear with each person who spoke. And with each testimony I heard about J's life, I became more and more convinced of the importance of building our legacies. Regardless of what the world says about our successes, our accomplishments, or our contributions, we can make a difference by being faithful.

Your life matters.

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

For My Fellow Pun-Loving Word Snobs

Saw this on Facebook last week, and I'm still laughing about it.

It's hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs, because they always take things literally.

Hope it keeps you smiling today!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How I'm Doing

"Sooooo, how are you doing?"

That seems to be the question most frequently asked of me lately. Everyone wants to know how I'm doing in regard to Elizabeth graduating from high school and preparing to go off to college. (In just two months and three days. *ahem*)
The truth is, I'm doing fine.
Yes, it's strange to think about her not being here all the time.
Yes, I'm going to miss her terribly!
Yes, I realize I *might* not have a full grasp on the reality of that which is about to take place in our lives.
But, the truth is, I'm doing fine.
Er, I just said that.

My daughter is growing up. She's becoming an adult. She's spreading her wings further, moving on with life, trying new things, and discovering the path God has for her to walk.
But she is still going to be my daughter.
I'm still going to be her mom.
I recall hearing people say when my children were young, "Enjoy them now. They grow up so fast!" And I had to wonder, Does that mean I can't enjoy them when they're grown up?
Because I have absolutely NO intention of discontinuing my enjoyment of my daughter now that she's an adult, and going off to college.

Our relationship is changing, not ending.

And I'm good with this development. This is how it's supposed to be. My little girl has been in my home for 18 years. She's grown into a beautiful woman of God, and I am fully confident that HE is going to do great things in and through her "out there" in the great big world. HIS world.

And, besides, now I'll have a great excuse to travel to Chicago for a little girl-time and retail therapy with my girl. *wink*


Friday, June 06, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

We're together to be a bother.

In my daily activities at Edgewood, I have abundant opportunities to help people with lots of different things. To name a few: I have unlocked doors, fastened necklaces, searched for answers on the internet, retrieved power sources for oxygen tanks, purchased postage stamps, led a blind man through the store, picked up dropped pillows, gotten items out of storage units in the basement, given fashion "advice", adjusted fans, opened and closed windows, and fixed broken televisions. (That is, I found the TV remote and pushed Power.)
Most of the time, these actions of mine are met with smiles and words of thanks. People are grateful for whatever I have done for them, and I am truly happy to do it.
But recently a new woman moved in and when she asked me for help, her words were a little different. It was probably the third or fourth time she needed something that day, and when she approached me she began with, "I'm sorry to be a bother..." I looked at her and said, "Oh, G, you are not a bother. We're all here to help each other. Every one of us needs something sometime. It's why we're together." And her neighbor who was standing there with us confirmed what I was saying. We're in this together.
G seemed satisfied with our encouragement. She hasn't been shy about being a bother. And I'm glad. I really do love being able to serve the men and women at Edgewood. Even with the simple things like turning on their air conditioner. It's why we're together. To help each other.

And just the other night, the reality of my situation at work hit home. Quite literally. (And you should know I don't use that word lightly. *wink*) Brian and I had just gone to bed Read that: I was almost asleep. when there was a pounding on our door. I mumbled, "Come in," and saw Matthew standing in our doorway. He was printing something for school and needed to know where the new ink cartridge was located. So I told him, and rolled over to go to sleep.
Moments later, the knocking was back. Matthew couldn't find the ink cartridge. So I got up, found it, helped Matthew print and scan the alignment page and went back to bed. Again.
Annnnnnnd, yet moments later, the knocking was back once more. This time the printer "wasn't working" and I said to Brian, "Can you get this one?" Because I didn't want to be bothered again am not a computer guru, like Brian is. *ahem*
And, sure enough, that was the last time anyone knocked on our door that night.

As I considered my annoyance with having my sleep interrupted at home, and compared it to my relative indifference at having my work interrupted at Edgewood, I realized the beauty of what I was seeing at work needed to be transferred home.
Right now I have the ability and privilege to serve people in need. Even when that person needs help while I'm trying to sleep. And it feels like a bother. But there will come a day when I will be the one needing help. Maybe my fingers will no longer be able to fasten my necklace, or I won't remember how to turn on the air conditioner, or my eyesight will be too poor to get me through the grocery store.
And when that day comes, I will be so thankful for the ones around me who are able to help. Who are willing to tend to my bothers, so I can keep on being one.

We're together to be a bother.

Is anyone "bothering" you today?

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

Thursday, June 05, 2014

A Social Experiment

So, I'm not much of a scientist. But something intrigued me the other day, and I decided I wanted to conduct an experiment so I could understand the matter.

I was making dinner and washed my hands. I noticed that the soap dispenser was just about empty, and made a mental note to refill it soon.
Moments later, my oldest son entered the kitchen and gave the soap dispenser a couple firm presses - apparently freeing it of the remaining contents.
I wondered if he would refill the container, since he had just completely emptied it.
He didn't.
Shortly thereafter, my husband arrived home from work. As I was working on dinner, I noticed him standing at the kitchen sink repeatedly giving the soap dispenser firm presses. Such that it made that sucking sort of sound which lets you know, there ain't no more soap gonna come out of that container. But apparently he got enough, because my hubby turned on the water and rinsed whatever soap was his hands.
I held my proverbial breath, waiting to see if he would refill the container.
He didn't.

So, the soap dispenser in our kitchen needs to be refilled. And I could do it quite easily. The supply is right under the kitchen sink. (Or maybe it's in the boys' bathroom. Not sure. But it wouldn't be difficult to figure out.) Either way, I could do it. But I'm not going to.
Instead, I am going to keep track of how many times I observe family members (Who are equally capable of refilling said container.) try unsuccessfully - then forcefully - to obtain soap from the empty container. And I am going to make mental notes of how often they move on to other activities without refilling that empty container. (Which they are fully capable of doing.) In my efforts to understand why capable people neglect to do a simple job which would benefit themselves and others, I may even conduct some interviews to gather empirical data.
This should be interesting.
I wonder how long my little social experiment will last.
We're on Day Two right now...

***Breaking News***
The soap container has been refilled. Now I need to find out WHODUNIT!


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Solomon Was Right

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
...a time to be silent...

Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b
Josh and Matthew were messing around in Matthew's room and somewhere in the scuffle, Matthew's glasses got knocked to the floor. When I walked past his room, the boys were sitting on Matthew's bed just talking and everything seemed fine. I didn't see the glasses on the floor, and Matthew didn't seem to be concerned about them, either.
However, things were about to change.
They were "at it" again and I walked in to referee just as Matthew was falling to the floor. Right on top of his glasses. I'm pretty sure Matthew saw his glasses before he landed on them. The shriek he let out mid-fall told me so. And the groan-scream which followed as he gingerly picked up the glasses let me know they didn't fare well in the collision.
Matthew was quick to yell at Josh, and blame him for the broken glasses. He was soooooo angry and upset. And he was sure Josh was soooooo at fault.
While I could empathize with Matthew's frustration at the broken glasses, and I understood why he blamed his older brother (Josh was being the instigator, after all.) I couldn't find myself agreeing with him. I was thinking Matthew could assume some of the responsibility. seemed to me Matthew would have been wise to pick up his glasses as soon as they fell on the floor and put them somewhere safe. That way, they wouldn't have been there when he fell.
I know. I know. He didn't know he was going to fall on them.
Even so, I thought the wise thing to do would have been to pick them up immediately. You know, to keep them safe And as I listened to my son scream, and watched him cry over broken glasses - everything in me wanted to share my bit of wisdom with him.

For next time, of course.

Fortunately for both Matthew and me, Solomon's words of wisdom ran through my head before my words of wisdom had a chance to escape from my mouth.
I realized I was existing in that time to be silent. No matter how profoundly wise my words were to me, God allowed me to understand that now was not the time to speak them. My Matthew was waaaaaaay too upset to listen to reason.
So I stayed silent. (A major feat for this girl! *wink*)

The next day - after we visited the vision store and got the glasses fixed - I took advantage of the time to speak. Matthew was in a much better frame of mind, and I suggested that the next time his glasses fall to the floor he should pick them up right away. And he agreed.
Because my words were so wise? I'd like to think so.
But I think the most reasonable conclusion I can draw is that Solomon was right. My boy wouldn't have heard me if I'd spoken when it was time to be silent.

When have you experienced a time to be silent?


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

While I Was Gone...


Elizabeth's Open House:
Me, my mom, and my aunt.
Do you see her? She's right in the middle looking at the camera. Her tassel is sort of doing a little swoosh-thing.
I hate that the picture I took of Elizabeth getting her diploma (holder - The diploma will come in the mail.) is blurry. But you can hardly re-take this type of picture. *ugh*
Moving the tassels...
It's official!
So proud of our girl.
Our silly family...
My Beauty with her Beau, her cousin, and her good friend.

And there you have it. The big things which have happened, while I was gone.
It's good to be back!


Monday, June 02, 2014