Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy time with family and friends today!
Lord willing, I'll see you back here Monday.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do You Have a Son?

Joanna Teigen is a friend of mine.
Our daughters bunked together for the first time at summer camp three (or was it four???) years ago, and our families have been friends ever since. In fact, Joanna's daughter is the one I pray for whenever I see a yellow car. We have shared many conversations about God and mothering and life, and I have grown to truly love her.
Joanna knows that I love to pray, and when she asked me to contribute a story to her new book about prayer I was more than delighted to participate. But I was a hundred times more excited when the book arrived in my mailbox Monday.
Check out this (shortened) table of contents:
*When he needs God's salvation
*When he feels inferior
*When he's angry
*When he's going through a storm
*When he needs to tell the truth
*When he's stressed
*When he's rejected
*When he hears false teaching
*When he needs self-control
*When he needs a Christian community
*When he doubts his own worth
*When I don't know what to pray
And there are 65 other prayers for your son in this book!

As I read through the table of contents and think about my own sons - and the days and months behind us (and before us!) - my mother's heart is eager to pray, pray, pray. I look forward to God leading me to pray for my boys as I read this book.

If you'd like to get your own copy, you can do so here.
BTW, my story is on page 35. *smile*


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Say That Again?

Overheard in the Kitchen:
Matthew: Josh. Jooosh! Come finish emptying the dishwasher.
A few minutes pass, and Josh shows up.
Josh: You know, you could use a different tone of voice when you're asking me to do things.
Matthew: Huh?
Josh: Your voice when you just called me. It was all whine-y and stuff.
Matthew: No it wasn't.
Josh: Yes. You're all "Jooosh!" You were whining. And I really don't feel like doing things for you when you use that voice.
And I'm sitting in the family room listening, thinking, Whoa! I remember saying those same words to that boy (Josh) when he was little. What goes around comes around, I guess.

That little scene was funny enough. But it got better.

Moments after Josh chastised Matthew for using a whine-y voice, he approached Brian with questions about driving his Jeep to school the next morning.
Long story short, Brian said Josh may begin driving the Jeep on his first day to work.
But that answer didn't sit well with our son. And he kept coming back with more questions and slightly different proposals. Each time demanding an answer which "made sense" to him, and each time becoming just a touch more whine-y.
Finally, Brian let out an exasperated sigh and said, "I am becoming less and less motivated to continue this conversation with you." Or something like that. His words were more eloquent. But what I think he meant was, I really don't feel like doing things for you when you use that voice.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

There is purpose in our pain.

I had been talking with J - whose parents used to live at Edgewood - and was saying Good-bye, so I could go visit my grandmother. When I told J where I was going, he said, "Oh! I want to come, too." (He'd visited with my grandmother before, and wanted to see her again.)
When we entered her apartment, Grandma was in bed - still in her pjs. She was not feeling well and didn't have the energy to get dressed that day. So we sat down by her bed and began our visit.
Grandma was discouraged because she can't seem to shake this cough and congestion thing she's got going on. It's wearing her out, and she just wants to be done. She shared with J (I've heard it many times, already...) that most days she wonders, What's next?
She overcame the troublesome tingling in her arms and hands by using an oxygen tank. Then she got a weird infection in her elbow. When that was gone troubles with sleeping began. Then she discovered she was so tired she can't stay awake to read much - and she really loves reading. And it just seems to her like a new problem awaits at each turn.

Discouragement understood.

Fortunately, J was quick to chime in with encouragement.
He has been going through his own set of medical trials and shared with Grandma the ways he has seen God at work in the midst of them. He has had opportunities to share his faith and speak life to nurses and doctors and technicians. J shared stories about interactions he's had with other patients. He gave God praise for his pain, because he could see how God was using it for His glory. All these people have been reached - and they wouldn't have if J didn't face these troubles.

I sat there by my grandmother's bed, listening to J's stories, completely delighted to hear about God's faithfulness. And then a very beautiful thing happened.
My grandmother began sharing a story about one of the nurses who comes to help her a few times a week. She was beginning to recognize how her own pain was being used for a good thing.
A young nurse is being impacted by my grandmother's life. And if Grandma didn't have these needs - if it wasn't necessary for this nurse to assist her - this young woman would be missing out.
At that realization, J began to pray. Among other things, he prayed for my grandmother's healing, of course. He also prayed for the people who are being reached because of the trials she faces each day. And when we said, "Amen," and I looked at my grandmother I'm pretty sure I saw a glimpse of a sparkle back in her eyes. I think she was finally feeling some encouragement because of the words of Truth which had been drifting into her ears.

There is purpose in our pain.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Josh and the Jeep: An Update

He got a job!

Starts training the weekend after Thanksgiving.

And he's excited. Because he'll be able to start making car payments.

So he can start driving this:
OK. Not that exact Jeep.
I got the picture off the internet.
It's entirely too cold outside to go take a picture of Josh's Jeep.
But his is blue and the same year as the one pictured. And that's good enough for me on this cold day. *wink*
I am proud of my boy for getting a job. I look forward to how this added responsibility and freedom will grow him. I can't wait to see how paying for his own gas opens his eyes to the value of good planning. Annnnnnd, I'm probably going to be a nervous wreck while he's driving around in this Michigan snow over the next several months.
But at least he'll be doing it in a vehicle with 4-wheel drive!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Learning to Trust

I had a great conversation with a teller at the bank yesterday.

Honestly, I don't even remember how we got started, but he was asking me questions about God and my faith - and the Holy Spirit just took over.
Early on, "R" asked me about how a person can keep the faith in the midst of struggles. And later, he pressed me for a more complete answer. He wondered, How can a person trust God to get them through difficult times?
At that point I think I leaned on the counter to get a little closer to him. And I told R I think it's important to remember what God has brought you through in the past. I believe there is a lot of value in recalling His faithfulness, so you can have confidence for your present circumstances.
Then I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and said, "It seems to me, we have a choice. We can either keep pushing God away and not trusting Him - which will likely result in Him allowing more difficult circumstances into our lives so we have more chances to learn to trust - OR, we can surrender. We can say, 'OK, God. I can't do this on my own. I'm going to trust You to take me through it.'"
That is the way God worked in me to build my trust. I remember it was mostly in hind-sight that I recognized the succession of events in my life which had shown me how trustworthy God is.
Yes. I'm a slow learner.
And at that point, it was rather undeniable. My God had been faithful through big things and small ones. Something in me (I think it must have been the Holy Spirit!) had me completely convinced I could trust Him with all my future needs, too. And so I came to the place of surrender, where I made the decision to trust Him. No matter what.

Before I left the bank, I promised R I was going to be praying for him. And I am. I am asking God to convince R of His love for him, and to help R come to that place of surrender. The place where he will know God is completely trustworthy and faithful.

How about you? How has God been teaching you to trust? Is there any way I can be praying for you today?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just a Minute

So, the trouble I mentioned yesterday?
My heart was heavy because of it. The situation weighed on my mind.
It was the subject of nearly all my prayers.

And our God is faithful. Amen?
HE moved in me to simply share my heart with my son. To just tell him my thoughts and intentions. Honestly. Without rehearsing my wording, or trying to come up with catchy analogies.
It went something like this:
Me (entering room): Hey, can you take a break from your homework for a minute?
Son (guarded): Uh, why?
Me: I just want to talk with you.
Son (moving computer): OK.
Me (sitting on the bed): First, I want you to know I love you. Even when I do and say things you don't like; when I ask you to do things you don't want to do - I love you. Every decision I make for you is because I love you and I am trying to do what is best for you.
Son (Almost blank stare. Seems like he's listening, though I can't be totally sure.)
Me (trying to make connection) And I want you to know, I do understand you. I remember when I was 16, and I thought my parents didn't know anything. Like, really. They.didn't.know.any.thing.
Son (Kinda grins a little. Ahhhh, he's listening!)
Me: I am for you. Always, always for you. Never against you. I want to help you make good decisions and become the man God has created you to be. Please remember that. Even when you don't like - or don't understand - my reasons, please know that I love you and I am trying to do what is best for you. OK?
Son (relaxed): OK. (pause) I love you, too.

And that's all there was to it.
Quite simple, really.
But I felt like we made great strides with that conversation. There were no raised voices or hurt feelings (like so many of our interactions these days) and it felt as if my son actually listened to me.
Oh, I know we will still have conflicts in the future. But that one or two minutes sitting together, when I could be honest and open about my heart's desire for him was so good. So good. Like we were establishing a foundation for the years (and trials) to come. And I trust God will keep building on it.

Thank You, God, for your faithfulness in every moment. Even the hard ones.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Everything's better with a buddy.

I have a new co-worker!
Monday, Tia joined the staff of Vista Springs Edgewood. She shares my job title, but is full-time in hours. Which means - pretty soon I am going to be back to working 24 hours a week.
And I am so looking forward to that!
For the past couple months things have been rather overwhelming at work, as we've been going through staff changes and shortages. I have worked long days - and still felt like I wasn't getting everything done. Only to come home feeling kinda grumpy because "work" wasn't finished even though I was exhausted.

That's why I was so glad to have Tia on board.

Then a funny thing happened.
Tuesday was Veterans' Day and we had a special afternoon planned for our Veterans. It involved lots of work in the way of planning and moving furniture and gathering people together. Which also meant lots of work executing the event and then moving all the furniture back into place.
Needless to say, it was another long day at work.
But I had Tia there helping me with it all.
And, at the end of the day as I walked to my car - tired body and sore feet - I realized I wasn't feeling grumpy. At all. Because I hadn't done the whole day of activities by myself.
I had Tia there helping me with it all.

Everything's better with a buddy.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Keep Forgetting

So, I had this great idea a couple weeks ago.

It happened on an evening when I was making dinner and certain teenage occupants of my home were not doing the things I'd asked of them. Or the things they were supposed to have done without me even asking.
Or something along those lines.
And I stood over the stove slaving away making dinner when I had the thought. Hey, no one ever has to ask me to make dinner. Nobody ever reminds me the job needs to be done. I just do it. Every day.
I entertained myself for a few minutes with my self-righteous pity party. And then it came to me!
I'd show them. Yes. I would teach these teens a lesson.
I would "forget" to start making dinner.
And when someone asked about it, I would tell them, Oh, yeah. I'll do it. But then I would allow myself to get caught up in something else, or just wouldn't stop doing the thing I was already doing. And I still wouldn't make dinner. I would let them ask me again. And again. Until they were really frustrated with me. Then I'd say, This is exactly how I feel every time you don't do the things I ask of you, and the things you're supposed to do because it's your job. Get it?
And in my imagination, a light bulb would go on in their heads. They would understand how I feel. They wouldn't want to put me through that kind of nonsense ever again, and from that day forward they would always do their chores in a timely fashion.
Sounds great. Don't you think?

The only problem is, I keep forgetting to forget to make dinner. *ahem*


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bath Time

I heard a great illustration in church Sunday.

It went something like this:
A shepherd - in caring for his sheep - was required to immerse them completely in an antiseptic bath. That is, he had to lead them into the bath, then coax them in over their heads and hold them under so their eyes, ears, and noses could be saturated by the antiseptic bath.
You can just imagine how those poor creatures must have been feeling. This shepherd - whom they had trusted fully - now seemed to be drowning them.
They must have been so scared. So confused. Wanting so desperately to run away.
Yet the whole ordeal was for their good.

Now imagine the shepherd trying to explain to the sheep the reason for what he was doing.

Yeah. Not gonna happen.
Even if he tried explaining, they would never understand. They just had to keep on trusting the shepherd. Even when it didn't make sense.

Any idea what this illustration was used for in the sermon Sunday?
Yes. As a picture of our need to trust God. Even when it doesn't make sense.
I wonder how often I am like the sheep being led into the antiseptic bath - which is for my good - but which scares me and makes me want to run away. And while I am kicking and trying to escape, my loving Father gently holds me under until the antiseptic bath has done its job.
Only HE knows the reason.
Only HE really understands.
And I only need to trust.

This illustration was a great encouragement to me, and I pray it is for you, too.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two Dinosaurs and an Eskimo

This past weekend was "Family Weekend" at Wheaton, so Brian and I and the boys (and Nick, a.k.a. "Beau") made the westerly trip to see Elizabeth.

It was tons of fun. :)

On Saturday afternoon, Elizabeth wanted to take us to a park she's discovered. It is full of great playground equipment, including a "zip line" for little kids. (On which all the big kids played!) She got us all to roll down the sledding hill. (Which was super fun, if not nauseating. Might have been a good idea to NOT attempt such a feat right after lunch. *ahem*) And then she showed us how to make "dinosaur masks" out of leaves. (I was chilly and opted for the role of "Eskimo" so I could stay bundled up.)

Like I said, it was tons of fun. But I did wonder - as I contemplated my daughter's excitement about all things park and playground - How much are we paying for this fun she's having?

Ahhhhh, I jest. We are simply delighted with Wheaton College and every single part of Elizabeth's college experience. I thank God, as I trust Him to bring to completion the good work He has begun.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Friday, November 07, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

As long as we're living, we need to keep living.

Yes, I know. That statement either sounds redundant, or nonsensical.

Stick with me.

This week I had the opportunity to talk with a woman at Edgewood who is facing death, but isn't dead yet. The thing is, she was feeling depressed because she viewed herself as sitting around waiting to die.
Not able to do much on her own.
Unable to stop her tears from falling.
Just kinda stuck in a depressed state.
I shared an experience and Bible verse with her which I hoped would be encouraging. I prayed for her. We talked and laughed a bit. We talked about her glorious future when she won't need her oxygen tank, when her legs will work properly, and when she'll have no more tears.
But we also recognized that she's still here. In her broken body. With tears running down her cheeks.
And we reaffirmed the reality that God is here, too.
HE is faithful.
HE is kind.
HE gives peace.
And because of who HE is, we can keep living. Even when the living is hard.

Honestly, I don't expect this dear woman is going to face the rest of her days without a tear or moment of sadness. Indeed, I will keep visiting with her and asking the Holy Spirit to encourage her through me. Because now that I know how much she's hurting, I can't bear the thought of her wasting the days away - waiting.
She has a beautiful spirit, and I pray God will move in her to share it until her very last breath.

As long as we're living, we need to keep living.

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

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Go Ahead and Laugh

I was reminded of this joke last night, and in light of my post Tuesday I thought it would be fun to share.
Go ahead and laugh. *wink*

Why was Abraham commanded to sacrifice Isaac when he was twelve?

Because if he was a teenager, it wouldn't have been a sacrifice.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Mr. President, I Have a Question

Just to clarify: This post is NOT a political rant. At all.
I think some people have taken me more seriously than I intended.
It's just when I saw the phrase "residents who are not eligible...under the Affordable Care Act" and thought about the sweeping promises which were made, I couldn't resist pointing out the irony.
OK. Read on. *wink*

I'm sure you've noticed I don't get into political discussions on this blog. Politics is simply NOT what this space is about.
But today, I can't resist.
Honestly, I had not been paying much attention to the "issues" which would be on the ballot yesterday, so Monday night Brian and I sat down to familiarize ourselves with the proposals on which we would be voting Tuesday. And one of them read as follows:
This millage funds basic health care services to county residents who are not eligible for Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, and for individuals who make less than $28,000 per year and don’t have medical insurance.
I read, and re-read, that statement a couple of times. Then I looked at my husband and said, "I thought the Affordable Care Act was supposed to provide insurance for everyone. Isn't that what the President promised?" I was being sarcastic.
"Yeah, that didn't really work out like he said it would."

Oh, those wonderful, lofty promises.
This website summarized the health care policy commitments. And the assurance which I recall hearing touted the most during a certain election campaign was this one:
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All
And if, somehow, this goal wasn't quite attainable, the following caveat was inserted:
Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.

Those words all sound so nice. So compassionate. So caring.
But, Mr. President, I have a question.

If your Affordable Care Act is supposed to deliver on everything you promised it would, why was the Health Services Millage Renewal proposal on my ballot Tuesday?

I'm just wondering...


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Parenting Teens

Whoever said parenting kids gets easier when they're older...lied.
(Sorry to break the news to you if you are in the camp of moms who still believed that line. *ahem*)

When my children were small, I dealt with things like temper tantrums in the store when I said "no" to a toy or piece of candy. Bed time and clean-up were arenas for testing, often including tears and fits. (And sometimes those tears and fits even came from the kids. *wink*) And who can forget the pouty, pudgy, tear-stained cheeks of the child who faced "Time Out" again for hitting his sister?
Oh, mother-friend, I do not miss those moments!
I thought for sure when the kids were older, I wouldn't have to go through those trials anymore. I kept listening to those who said, "This, too, shall pass," and I believed once it passed things would be easier.

Oh, silly me!

The truth is, we don't go through those trials anymore.
Now, we go through different ones.
These days I am facing life as the mother of teenage boys who are on the road to manhood. Needing/ desiring/attempting more and more to separate themselves from me. The toddlers who were the cling-ons when we played Star Trek are now teens by whom it feels like I am being pushed away.
Nowadays I find myself wanting to give direction on doing the dishes properly and setting the table and making beds and folding sheets (because I see the effects at work of young 20-somethings who don't know how to do these things). And when I'm riding with my 16-year-old driver sometimes I give (what I think are) gentle reminders about speed and head-checks. And for the most part, these words of mine are met with stiff arms and I-already-know-it attitudes. The toddlers who used to ask me "Why?" every other minute because they thought I knew everything, are now the teens who seem to see my words as obnoxious and unnecessary. Once they wanted to hear me, and now they think I'm a nag.
And I don't want to be a nag!

It is not news that being a mother of toddlers is draining and tiresome (mixed with moments of laughter, joy, and precious memories). But I'm telling you, being a mother of teens is painful at times, too. I so long for these boys to trust that I am for them - not against them. I wish for them to believe that the things I say to them are meant to help - not to belittle or to insult. Oh, if they would just understand I am simply a woman who has never had teenage boys before, who wants to do her best to help them grow up to be honorable and God-fearing men, and who really does love them - all the time.

Yeah. This place and time in life is hard.
Just like it was 10+ years ago.
How thankful I am that the God who carried us through those trials is the same God here with us today. And just as He was faithful then, I trust He will be faithful now.
God is our refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3


Monday, November 03, 2014


Soooooo, Thursday was a really busy day.
Spent a great deal of time getting my costume ready for our Halloween Party at Edgewood on Friday. Shopping for pieces, sewing fleece over "Michigan State" on my sweatshirt, sewing a tail, and making mouse ears. And searching the internet for a face-painting sample to use Friday morning.
Ooooo, and the time I spent painting Friday...waaaaay longer than I usually spend on my make up.
But worth it.

Anyway, I figured I could record a video Saturday.

Until Saturday happened.

I went to work in the morning, got home around 3:30, made my grocery list and went shopping, got home shortly after 5:00, put the groceries away and started making dinner. By the time that was all finished, I just didn't feel like making a video.
And Sunday proved to be busy with good things.

So, there is no video today. And I realize I could have skipped the explanation and just not posted anything. But I figured someone could sympathize. And decided I'd rather not suffer alone. *wink*