Friday, July 21, 2017

Lovely Moments

Awwwww, my sweet Lovely.

My heart is always filled with joy when it's time to visit her.

And this week, the anticipation was a little higher than usual. Because I received an email at the beginning of the week letting me know Lovely had been temporarily moved to another facility. She was experiencing severe pain and needed round-the-clock attention. So my concern was "on alert," and I wondered what her condition would be when I saw her.
It took me a while to find her in the new place, and when I did find her - I found her sleeping. So I sat by her bed and just looked at her. And as I started to pray, her eyes fluttered open.
Not wanting to startle Lovely, I slowly moved into her line of vision and said, "Hello, Lovely." And I sort of expected her to be a little confused - because she often is. Except this time, she wasn't. She smiled at me and I am pretty sure I could tell by her expression that she recognized me.
That she remembered me.
And my heart was doubly filled with joy.

She sat up and we looked at the pictures I had brought from my Colorado trip. Lovely enjoyed the pictures and the opportunity to marvel at the beauty. She even commented on the handsome-ness of my dear husband. (As she does every time she sees his picture.)
A short time later, her son came to visit and the three of us shared moments of laughter in the midst of conversation about years-gone-past.
Soon, her daughter arrived, too.
The four of us together found things about which we could laugh, and I enjoyed seeing Lovely look fondly at her children. But the moments passed too quickly, and soon it was time for me to go.
I told Lovely that I won't be able to see her next week (And she gave me the cute little pout she gives whenever my next visit is going to be delayed.), I kissed her cheek and told her I love her, and I took my leave - realizing how blessed I am to be even a small part of Lovely's life, hoping (a bit selfishly) God continues to allow us to have these lovely moments.

What lovely moments have you had this week for which you can give thanks to God?

Karen

P.S. As I mentioned to Lovely, I am not going to be around next week - which includes the blog. If God says the same, I'll be back here July 31.
Keep holding on to HIM!!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Watchin' My Babies Grow Up

I've just got to say, I love my daughter so very much.
Among many other things, I treasure seeing how she loves so well. How she seeks to be the hands and feet of Jesus to her friends and all those around her. And I am thankful for the ways her efforts to love others spill over onto the rest of us as her family.
That is, approximately seven years ago Elizabeth made a friend at school. And over the past seven years, that friend has become a part of our family. To the extent that we refer to this friend of Elizabeth's as our honorary daughter. (In fact, that's the way we refer to a couple of Elizabeth's friends. *grin*) She has always been welcome in our home and we've been able to be an extended family to her - offering all kinds of support as she's needed it.

And it's truly been a joy.

Well, this honorary daughter of ours has been living with us (in Elizabeth's room - since Elizabeth is gone for the summer) for the past two months. And one of the things we've been doing during these months is helping our honorary daughter navigate the world of "adulting". We've seen her find jobs (Not a new thing for her. She's a hard worker. But she was unable to work for a while and this was a big step.); learn about and make a budget (Including some of the hard choices that come with living on a budget.); make grown-up decisions which weren't always easy to manage; search for a place to live which was safe, suitable, and stayed within the budget; and yesterday, we got to see her get the keys to that place.
Ahhhh, another baby bird leaving the nest.
Through having this young lady living with us, we have also been able to get to know and love her boyfriend. He's become an honorary son to us, and it has been a joy to watch him walking into the ways of "adulting", too. The road ahead of them will surely be difficult at times, but God is faithful and I trust Him to lead them.

And so it is. For both the children I have physically birthed, and those who are children from my heart - I am trusting their futures to the LORD. As I watch them grow up, as I watch them make decisions and take action and sometimes make mistakes, as I occasionally want to step in and do "it" for them, I find myself praying and trusting my Father.
Because He is their Father, too.
And He is good.

Karen

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

God Sightings

*When you're looking for a place to live and nothing's working out, and just when you feel like you're out of alternatives a near-perfect option becomes available...
*When you're checking your grocery receipt (and you don't usually do it) and you catch errors totaling over $25...
*When you take the receipt back to the store and for some reason part of the error is returned to you in cash, and you go to another store to pick up something you forgot you needed, and the cash you just received at the other store provides you with perfect change...
*When ends aren't meeting and you don't know how they will and then somehow, they do...
*When you've got a bunch of things to do and not a lot of time to do it, and lines are quick, and lights are green, and you remember this morning you asked God to order your steps...
*When you've been praying for a long time for a family who was in a serious accident, and you find out that everyone is finally out of the hospital and living under the same roof again...
*When you're doing yard work and you notice the intricacy and beauty of a flower...
*When your pregnant friend lets you feel the baby kick...
*When the encouragement you needed arrives via text message at just the right moment...
*When a kind stranger smiles and lends you a hand...
*When you find the courage to do what you did not think you could do...

...consider yourself blessed, because you've seen the hand of the Almighty at work.

I compiled this list of God sightings from my own experiences and those of a couple friends over the past several days. Please add your own in the comments. I'd love to hear of the ways you have seen HIM, too.

Karen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Somebody's Missing

So, I spoke during chapel last night at the women's mission.
And as I have been doing since February, I scanned the room to see if H was present. Because I was eager to hear an update from her about how her circumstances are progressing. (When I was there two weeks ago she told me she was on a waiting list for an apartment and I wondered if she had any news about when she might get into it.)
However, as I looked around the chapel, I didn't see her. I asked a woman sitting near me if she knew H - was hoping I might find out from her about H's housing situation.
But she didn't know H.
And I was left to wonder.
And my wondering is going down a very hopeful track. I'm thinking maybe that waiting list reached H and she is no longer a guest at the Rescue Mission. My hopeful imagination is telling me maybe H is taking a major step toward getting back on her feet, and that she is probably telling everyone about God's power and faithfulness expressed in her life.
True, the only thing I know for sure about H is that she was missing from chapel last night. But I also know a few things for sure about God:
*HE is faithful.
*HE knows where H is and what she's doing.
*HE is working for her good.
I am so thankful for these things I know about God. They give me confidence that wherever H is today, it is well with her - because she's in His hands.

How does what you know about God help you face what you don't know about everything else?

Karen

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Disorders are NOT Logical

So, the other day I was talking to someone about depression - and what it looks like in my life. And as the conversation went on I began to understand why disorders are so hard for non-disordered-people to understand.
That is, as I spoke about my tendency to take what I hear and turn it into an attack on myself (That's the disordered part of me!) my friend suggested I ought to recognize that the speaker didn't intend to be critical of me, and I ought to laugh it off. Or, when I am in a situation which is not going as I had hoped, rather than berating myself for being a failure I ought to realize the situation won't be hard forever and try to look on the bright side.
And as I listened to her giving this very good advice, I was thinking, Yes! Of course. That's what I ought to do. And I know it. Everything you're saying is logical and makes sense and I know it's the logical way to handle a circumstance.
Chin up!
Cheer up!
Don't be so sad.
And if a disorder like depression could be managed with logic, that - right there - would be my answer. Unfortunately, disorders aren't logical. That's why they're disorders. Because something isn't working like it should be - as it would be - if it were all in order.

It's kind of like me saying to my young friend who has an eating disorder, "C'mon, sweetheart. Just eat something. You know you need to. Your body must have some nourishment. You cannot get better if you don't eat."
All true statements.
All logical and good.
All of them make sense to me!
But not one of 'em is helpful or productive for my friend.
Because disorders are NOT logical. And, therefore, they cannot be treated, managed, or cured with logic.

All that to say, do you know someone with a disorder-of-some-kind? Ever wish you could snap your fingers and get through to them? Get discouraged because they aren't taking your logical, rational, reasonable advice and suggestions? Ever feel frustrated because you don't understand what's going on inside of them?
Eh, don't feel bad - most of the time we don't understand, either!
And so we (all!) must cling to Jesus, trusting Him to help us (and help us help each other) get through this not-always-logical thing called life.

Karen

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

LOVE is Patient

Yesterday morning I walked into the kitchen to discover a counter FULL of dishes which had not been washed the night before - by one of my sons who claims he always does them before he goes to bed. (We've argued over my desire that they get done right after dinner. And compromised that the time frame could be extended to at-least-before-bed.)
But yesterday the kitchen was a mess when I walked into it.
And that did not make me happy.
Nonetheless, I pushed through my disappointment in a job-not-done and went downstairs to exercise. However, as soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs I noticed a suspicious dark spot on the carpeting - and I knew Mindy had peed on it.
That super-duper did not make me happy.
I mean, seriously. She has these "accidents" waaaaaaay too often. *ahem*
I begrudgingly cleaned it up, and went on to my work-out. And in the middle of that, I noticed a small shovel which I'd been seeking this past weekend. I was doing some weeding Saturday morning and could have benefited from having that shovel - but, no! The last person who used it (a nameless son of mine) didn't put it back after he'd last used it, and no one could find on Saturday. But there it was in plain view Monday morning - adding to my angst of things-not-done-right-around-my-house.

I am not sure how it happened, but somehow I persevered and finished my exercises. *wink*
And when I sat down to eat my breakfast, and I bowed my head to pray - the strangest thing transpired. Thoughts of the un-done dishes, the peed-on carpet, and the not-put-back shovel flooded my mind.
For a moment I thought of the guilty parties.
Then I thought about some of the (many) times I have not done what I was supposed to do - or have done what I wasn't supposed to do - and my view of the morning's guilty parties changed. Before I had even thanked God for my food, I found myself thanking Him for His patience with me.
And oddly enough, my cereal tasted an awful lot like Humble Pie.

Karen

Monday, July 10, 2017

God's Ultimate Desire for You

Hahahaha! This thumbnail totally cracked me up.
I couldn't resist choosing it. Especially when Matthew told me he'd be proud of me for "getting out of my comfort zone" and posting it. *wink*

Karen

Friday, July 07, 2017

Lovely Moments

Lovely didn't answer her phone when I called yesterday to see if I could come visit.
But last week she wasn't feeling well, so I imagined she just might not be able to answer the phone and I decided to go over, anyway.
When I arrived, she was sleeping on her couch - still in her nightie - so I just sat on the adjacent love seat and prayed for her. I listened to her breathing, I watched the expressions she was making on her face (must have been having an interesting dream...), I considered the stories she has shared with me and wondered at all the things she has experienced in her life, and I asked God to give her peace.
When Lovely awoke she said she felt "out of it", but that didn't last long.
I knew she hadn't gone to the dining room to eat (They had brought a tray with her meal on it into her apartment.) so I offered to warm up her lunch, hoping some nourishment would help her get back to normal. And as I was re-heating the main course, Lovely got started on the chocolate cake. I walked into the living room with her lunch and observed, "Oh. You're starting with dessert today?"
She smiled and said, "I love chocolate!"
And that seemed to be the end of her feeling-out-of-it troubles.
We laughed about chocolate being the answer to solve every problem, and with just about every bite of cake she took, Lovely reminded me again how she loves chocolate. The rest of our visit centered around her lunch. The egg roll was delicious. She didn't realize how hungry she was. She wanted another bite of this thing which was so good - though she didn't know what it was, but she sure did like it! (It was still the egg roll.) And, oh yeah, she really loves chocolate!

As I reflected back on our visit, it occurred to me things are changing. This was two weeks in a row that Lovely hadn't been to the dining room for lunch before I came. It's been almost a month since we've reminisced about her younger years. (Although she did brag about her husband being the sweetest soul on earth. I don't think a day ever passes without that thought going through her precious mind.) It seems our recent visits have found me with greater responsibility for keeping the conversation going. And she is lamenting more frequently about being "old".
To face reality I understand I must admit that my Lovely moments may not last much longer. But I am thankful for each one I've had - and for as many more as the Lord allows.

With whom are you (or should you be) cherishing lovely moments today?

Karen

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Everything to Me

When my heart is disturbed, when my spirit needs to be reminded of what matters, this is one of the songs God consistently uses to set me right.
Needing it at the moment, and praying HE encourages you, too.

Karen

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Adam Raccoon: Back in Print!

Adam Racoon - back in print

That was the message in the subject line of an email I received which made me so very, very happy.
The email was from the publisher, informing me that last November all eight titles of the Adam Raccoon series had been re-released in beautiful hard-cover books. I'm telling you, I love LOVE Adam Raccoon and this news made me feel like I'd just been reunited with an old friend.
That is to say, my kids grew up with me reading Adam Raccoon to them, and in a moment of what-was-I-thinking - when the kids had out-grown children's books, and grandchildren were nowhere near my thoughts - I sold all of my Adam Raccoon books in a garage sale. Then one day when I wanted to buy a copy to give as a baby shower gift, I discovered they were out of print.
And my heart sank.
Because I thought, How am I going to re-build my collection for the day when I have grandchildren running around and I want to read these wonderful books to them???
I mean, I know there's always Amazon (In fact, I have purchased Adam Raccoon books through Amazon many times to give as baby shower gifts. Actually, there are two sitting in my room right now waiting for a special little boy to be born!) but Amazon doesn't have ALL the titles. And I wanted to re-build the whole collection. *sniff*
And now I can.
That is, now I'm going to!

So, whether you're a mom, or a grandma; or you're going to be a mom, or a grandma; or you know a mom, or a grandma - if you love kids and you love Jesus, you really need to check into Adam Raccoon.
And a little insider information I found out about which may be of interest to you:
*The publisher is almost done with some activity and coloring pages for the series and they should release as a free download on their website later this month or next.
*The Signature Set which includes the slipcase and signed art card and from Glen Keane is only available through their website. Promo code BRUBAKER will work for free shipping on domestic orders of the Signature Set.
Annnnnnd, just in case you need a preview, here's a recording I made several years ago of one of my favorite (They're all my favorite!!!) Adam Raccoon books:




Karen

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Top Ten Things I Learned on Vacation

10. Sometimes it's better to get it all done at once. 

In planning our recent trip to Colorado (to visit our girl, since she's doing an internship there this summer...) we thought long and hard about how we were going to get there. That is, I am not a fan of driving long distances because, well, because it takes so long. So we checked out the option of flying. However, I am even more not a fan of spending a lot of money, so we quickly ruled out that alternative. And taking the train wasn't going to be much better, so we acquiesced to the driving plan.
Only that decision didn't entirely solve the problem.
That is, Brian proposed driving straight through - from Michigan to Colorado. And I was all, Nooooo, that will be so long! And I am not a fan of long car rides. But, if we didn't drive straight through, that would mean paying for a hotel room along the way and, well, I am even more not a fan of spending a lot of money... So, I complied with Brian's proposal and we made plans to drive for 18+ hours.
And, can I tell you? That was such a good idea!
We stopped along the way for gas and lunch and dinner, and were in our hotel room by 11:00pm local time saying, "I can't believe we were in Michigan this morning, and we're already in Colorado!"
I was so glad we got to start our fun the very next day - instead of having to drive more. 
Indeed, sometimes it's better to get it all done at once. That is, sometimes we need to admit that somebody else was right. Thanks, Brian!

9. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

We did a good amount of hiking in Colorado, including one day in Pine Valley Ranch Park along the North Fork South Platte River. During that particular walk, I became enamored with a pretty pink flower I kept seeing along the trail. I know, I know. I become enamored with just about anything pink. But this one was special. I figured it must be some kind of distinguished specimen. Maybe one of Colorado's home-grown treasures. So I took pictures.

But when I showed the pictures to Elizabeth at the end of the week she told me it was just a Thistle - with a bit of a disapproving tone in her voice. And I'm thinking, Thistle. Sounds like whistle. And you whistle when you're happy. This flower must make people happy. 
Until Elizabeth told me, "Mom. It's a weed."
But it's pink! And it's pretty.
Then I realized: plants in which some people find no worth can be precious to others.
And I thought, Hmmm. The same can be said for people, too.

8. Having a GPS doesn't preclude the need to have a plan.

OK, I know I have been accused of being a Luddite.
I admit I can be guilty of holding on to "old ways".
I realize there is value in embracing today and taking advantage of the technology we have.
But sometimes batteries die, and signals get lost (especially in the mountains!) and it would be a good idea to know how to get where you're going without having to rely on said batteries or signals.
And that's all I'm gonna say about that one. *wink*

7. Murphy's Law can find me on horseback. 

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
That stupid adage follows me everywhere I go.
We were in the Rocky Mountains on a 2-hour trail ride and everything had been going smoothly. So I decided to get my phone out and record some of the scenery. What could go wrong? I thought to myself. We're just moseying along. Everything's good. I can ride one-handed for a few minutes.
If only I had heard ol' Murphy snickering in the woods.

 

Yeah. My horse got spooked by something and started running, so I dropped my phone.
Fortunately, the phone didn't get stepped on by a horse. It was dusty, but no damage.
I guess Murph gave me a pass on that one.

6. Things that look like trouble aren't really trouble when you trust the leader. 

One of our more adventurous days was spent white-water rafting down Browns Canyon in the Arkansas River. Yes, even my 72-year-old mother-in-law came along. Go, Grandma!!! 
That's her in the blue helmet. Haha!
 One thing we learned very quickly on our adventure was the importance of listening to, trusting, and obeying our leader. Mike was a great guy, and he had been down this river many, many times before. He knew the location of every rock and rapid. He knew how to steer and when to turn us. He called out "forward, 3" or "forward, 4" and "forward, 2 more" at all the right times to get us to give the raft the power he needed to steer us in the right direction.
We might be headed toward a rapid, or approaching a big rock we thought we should avoid - and we might be tempted to start paddling "away" from it. But our strict orders were to row only when and how Mike instructed.
 And when we worked as a team - trusting our leader - we made it safely through and around every obstacle we faced.
Something tells me white-water rafting could produce a parable about trusting Jesus.

5. Scary is a matter of perspective. 

Another adventurous thing we did in Colorado was riding bikes down Pikes Peak. For those who don't know why that would be considered an adventure, let me just tell you: our bike ride started at over 14,000 feet above sea level, and lasted approximately 19 miles. And when we were riding in the van to the top of the mountain I experienced several moments of honest-to-goodness fear.
See, the driver was very comfortable with mountain driving.
Sometimes she would turn her head to address a passenger's question and I would want to scream at her, "Keep your eyes on the road! We could slip over the edge and fall to our death in a matter of seconds! Don't drive so close to the edge!!!"
Because from where I was sitting in that van, it really did seem like one inch to the right was going to be our end. And my heart was on edge. (Pun totally intended!)
Then we got to the top and I got out of the van, and I felt comfortable enough to walk around and see just how high we really were.

And how far down we could fall if we slipped.
And I thought, I'm really going to ride a bicycle down this mountain?
But the craziest thing happened.
I got on the bike, rode around the parking lot a bit to get acclimated, and when we started down the mountain and I was riding in the middle of the lane - even when I was in the lane on the outside of the mountain - I felt totally secure.
I wasn't scared.
My mind didn't scream at me about being careful to not fall over the edge.
Seems that being in control of my own "vehicle" and feeling like I wasn't on the edge of the road changed my outlook. I had the perception of being safe. And that's when I learned that scary is a matter of perspective.

4. Spicy Uno brings people together. 

I've mentioned Spicy Uno here before. And if you haven't tried it, I'm telling you now: you must!
I don't think I have more fun playing any other game than this one.
In addition to the fact that my 17 and 19-year-old sons will play with us, I love Spicy Uno because it brings all kinds of people together. From my husband to my sons to my mother-in-law to my daughter's roommate (who we had just met) we had a room full of diverse people who were laughing together, having fun together, enjoying time together, not looking at smartphones together.
And this momma's heart loved it.
If you're looking for a way to create some good family/friend time, check out Spicy Uno!

3. People don't have to be "like" you in order to be liked by you. 

It's easy to like people who are like you, isn't it?
You talk the same, dress the same, eat the same, think the same. 
It's easy to get along with people like that, you know?
But during our time in Colorado - and with the various adventures we took - I had several opportunities to meet people who were not like me.
There were those with lots of tattoos, women who went without bras, some folks with interesting piercings, and others who looked as though they hadn't been to see a barber anytime in the past 12 months. They were people who - on the outside - didn't look anything like me. People who - had I not been placed with them by an outside influence - I might not have engaged in conversation or relationship. 
Yet, when I spent time with them, when I learned about the people inside the appearances - I discovered beautiful souls who were a blessing to know, regardless of how they look, or talk, or act, or eat, or whatever else sometimes divides us.
Made me wonder how many times I have missed a friendship just because a person wasn't "like" me.
Let's not do that again!

2. I need JESUS.

Ahhhhhh, the most important things I learned(And not for the first time, I might add). Numbers 2 and 1.
Let's be real: 
The trip was great. 
We had fun adventures and made good memories.
But it was also full of struggle for me. 
Although I am doing much better with regards to dealing with depression, there are times...(Like when I'm in close proximity to family 24/7 and I'm trying to keep peace, make decisions which will satisfy everyone, guide plans to best utilize our resources, answer the same questions repeatedly, and not blow my top - you know, when I'm on "vacation".) 
Yeah. 
There are times I feel like I'm losing the battle with my depressive tendencies. When my insecurities rise to the surface and the negative self-talk crushes the timid voice of truth which is trying to come through. When every little thing I hear someone say gets turned around in my head to be a jab at my very existence. When I'm pretty sure everyone around me is certain I am a failure.
And then, Jesus.
Jesus steps forward in moments like this one - when we were climbing to the top of a waterfall, and I stayed back because the climb got too steep for me. So I stood by myself, taking in the beauty of what I was seeing, overwhelmed by the majesty and power of our Creator God who could make such a display with rocks and water. And in that moment HE reminded me - His Voice of Truth spoke to my heart - that when I am weak, HE is strong. Though I am inadequate, HE is enough. My insecurities don't limit Him. HE is all I need.

  

1. God's plans are best. Always.

And, the number one thing I learned on vacation - which God has shown me time and time, again: 
HIS plans are best. Always!
It was our last night in Colorado and I had an idea of something that would be special to do with my daughter on our "final" night together. But it didn't happen as I had imagined, and the disappointment - in combination with the week-long struggle I described in #2 - was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I could do nothing to hold back the tears any longer. So, I wept.
Yet, as God would have it, something different happened which was far greater and more significant than the original plan I'd had in my mind. Yes, HE did immeasurably more than all I had asked or imagined (Eph. 3:20) 
And my heavenly Father graciously reminded me that I can trust Him to do what is good.
Even in the face of what looks disappointing.
I pray, my friend, that you may also be convinced of this wonderful Truth.


Karen

Monday, July 03, 2017