Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

I have this love/hate relationship with Halloween.

On the love side, I remember the 31st, years ago, when we lived in Michigan and I was so sick I couldn't go trick-or-treating. Mom took an old sheet, cut eye holes in it, and took my bag and went house-to-house for me.

That's what Mom's do: we do our best, when our kid's chips are down, to build them right back up.

On the hate side, I remember the first time, a couple of years ago, that we realized the extent of the kid's allergies and we were forced to make them choose just a few pieces of candy out of a bazillion that they could enjoy. The rest? Gone.*

That's what parents do: we help our kids make decisions that are the right ones, not necessarily the EASY ones.

On the love side, I've always thought a good costume was worth it's weight. It's nice, for one day a year, to assume the identity of someone besides yourself. I loved dressing up in Dad's size 15 shoes and stuffing his jean jacket to be a hobo when I was younger. I was positively glowing in my fake chocolate brown, cinnamon bun, yarn braids that completed my fifth grade Princess Leia outfit. In that moment, I WAS the beloved of Luke.**

That's what parents do: when our kids have dreams, we equip them with the goods to make those dreams come true.

On the hate side, I just don't like celebrating a holiday that is so filled with scary images and blood and gore. I don't like it when my kids decide they'd rather be "Chucky" than "Prince Charming". Or when a bloody sword is more appetizing than a white horse.

But, that's what parents do: we walk a thin line between what the world offers and what is good and right and true. And, at times, we make determinations about how to be Godly in a world that is working hand-in-hand with the Devil.

So, I'm coming to terms with Halloween. We're doing a mission's project in the afternoon and dressing up in the evening to go door-to-door.

We're not carving a pumpkin because they make Daddy gag. But, we're proudly displaying the one The Babe painted at school.

In short, we're making compromises. We're still learning how to navigate this thorny path of life, melding two lifetimes of Halloween memories together, to make our children's lives the best blend of the good that we both brought to the table.

And, in the process, we're still learning what's good and right and true. And, for now, I think we can still enjoy this little holiday without fear of anyone turning to the dark side.

UNLESS Mike shows up in a Darth Vader costume tomorrow.

In that case? I fear all bets are off.

*OK. Truly? Mike and I probably ate half of what was left. But neither of us has allergies, unless you can consider being a few pounds overweight an allergy.

**Even though he ended up being my brother and all that stuff.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eating Humble Pie

I wrote this back at the end of August and I guess I wasn't ready to really bite the bullet and ask for forgiveness at the time, so this ended up in the "drafts" section of the blog.

But it really spoke to me today, for some reason. Maybe one of you is waiting to hear these words? Maybe not from me, but from someone else, and it will just be nice to see that there are some of us who screw up and can admit it. Even if it is in a very fashionably late manner.....

Or maybe you need to apologize to someone else and you just don't know how to start. Read on....

For whatever crazy reason, this is being posted today. And I hope it speaks to you, the way I hope it speaks to the person it was originally intended to reach.

I really hate admitting I'm wrong. I'd rather eat cow poop and wash it back with otter urine, frankly.

But, sometimes, I have to apologize when I've just been a raving lunatic.

So, if this message applies to you (and I'm sure you know who you are): I'm sorry.

If I have offended you by implying you did something you didn't.
If I hurt your feelings by being distant.
If I acted in a way that made you wonder if I was losing my marbles. Or wonder if I really love you*. Or wonder if I'm ever going to talk to you again**.

If you think this applies to you now OR if anytime in the future I step out-of-line OR if you just like reading a blog that says "I am wrong" because it makes you feel all warm inside: OK.

I hate preachy people and these last few days I've become exactly that. Times five thousand.

I've been haughty and mean-spirited and annoyed.

And I haven't at all been sympathetic, which is generally the place I try my best to live.

So, I hope you will forgive me. And I hope that you will allow me back into your world and ask for my forgiveness, too.

I think there is going to be a little give-and-take on this one and I hope we are both willing to meet in the middle.

See you there?

*I do.

**I will. As soon as I'm done eating this humble pie and trying to figure out what exactly to say.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's the SMALL Victories

You'll recall, if you read this blog regularly, that I reamed the Hooman at the breakfast table at the beginning of September.

It was the classic "There are starving kids in China..." message with a not-so-subtle side of details that weren't for the squeamish.

At the time of my clearly over-the-top message, I took victory as having taught him a lesson. I actually should have made it really clear that I do have NORMAL children who vacillate between "I really learned something from what you said" and "When did you say THAT?".

It's rather like watching two children on a teeter-totter. Up we go to "I learned"; down we go to "Brain freeze".

But, on this particular occasion, there was an impact. And I know because Hooman has asked to pray multiple times over the last two months and he never forgets to include some variation of "Please give the starving people in Africa something to eat."

This is quite possibly the only time when adding gory details and snark to the way I talk to my kids is going to be a) acceptable b) educational and c) a reason for me to do the happy dance.

My next task: figuring out how to use this tactic to keep them away from premarital sex......

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An "International" Blog

I find it vaguely disconcerting that, one day, when I was goofing around on, I discovered that this blog has been viewed by people in Russia, South Korea, China, Singapore and Slovenia.

I THINK (?) I could point out China on a map. But, Russia? Slovenia? The others? Clueless.


It is amazing to me that it is possible to communicate with people I don't know, in multiple time zones, who speak languages I can't even begin to understand. That's how interconnected we've become through the magic of the Internet.

One of the features I really do love about this website is the ability to hit a magic button* and cruise around to other blog sites I'd never know existed. I'm pretty sure that's where my Singapore and Slovenia connections come from because they were one view wonders.

But, Russia? Someone in the land o' vodka thinks enough of me to have come back 38 times! So, shout out to you: send good vodka anytime and I'll review it on this here website? Okie-dokie?

I'm hoping that my South Korean reader of five times will come back and send some rocking soy sauce. That way, my China connection (reader times deux), can supply some authentic noodles and I'll be set!

Slovenia? I'm not at all sure what the heck you bring to the table, but you're welcome to send anything that doesn't contain dog or horse meat, pickled brains, or shelf-stable foods that could go head-to-head with a Twinkie in terms of sustainability.

For my part? I'll send Hershey bars to anyone who takes me up on the offer. How much more American can you get than that?**

Have a great day world! Glad to get to know ya.

*The "Next Blog>>" button at the top of the website. Hit it and see where you go! WHEEEEE.

**OK. I'll give you "Apple Pie" and "Hot Dogs" but I don't even want to try to ship those.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Devil V. God

There are days, and they seem to be coming hard and fast right now, that the Devil just wants to take up residence and become my best friend.

In these past two days alone, I've seen my normally calm son melt into a demon child possessed. You see, when the Devil can't get to me, he attacks my kids.

I've watched four police cars descend on a neighbor's house after someone decided he should enter a house he didn't own to take stuff that wasn't his. All while the neighbor and her two sons sat, doing school work, only separated from this felon by a flight of stairs. That's the Devil...always trying to steal our peace of mind.

I've seen depression and hopelessness in the face of a friend dealing with extreme grief. And I've personally vaciliated between sorrow and a feeling of peace that I don't understand and can only claim as God's. It sure isn't something I could have conjured up. These extremes? The Devil's sandbox, around the perimeter of which he is prowling, like a lion, just waiting to pounce and attack when we get stuck in the sadness.

I conciously know that God is protecting me, my family, my friends; and I'm conciously praying for that protection.

But the Devil takes great pleasure in targeting a house just as the residents get their life on track; when everything seems to be cooking along nicely and life is in order. And several families in our neighborhood have really gotten into a groove lately, so we've all become bullseyes.

We've ticked the Devil off by committing to a co-ed Bible Study, planning a party as a mission's project, and praying over each other's hurt, needs, and wishes.

I could look at these situations and become discouraged, sad, and angry. But, yet, I keep being reminded that things could be so much worse if God wasn't in the equation.

My son could be unresponsive to correction. Yet, he isn't.

My neighbor and her sons could be hurt. They aren't.

My friend could choose to bottle up her emotions and suffer in silence. But she didn't.

Those are all GOOD signs of the work God is doing around here, so I'm choosing to rebuke the Devil and praise God, even when it's scary and sad and unexplainable. Because HE has our backs.

And the Devil? He's a loser again. Because this morning, I'm telling him, for the umpteenth time: "Get behind me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:23) and I'm lifting up my neighborhood and city and state and country and world to Him.

And, if I learned anything all those years ago in Sunday School, I know that "He's got the whole world in His hands."

So, move aside Devil. As much as you want to be my bosom buddy, it ain't gonna happen.

Because my BFF is Jesus. And that's the way I like it.*

*Uh huh uh huh--KC and the Sunshine Band, in case you are too young to know.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Mike and Nickels were traveling in the car recently and spotted a billboard from the people at I AM SECOND dot com.

Nickels took one look at the billboard and said "Dad. That's not right. I'm not second; I'm third."

There couldn't have been a prouder Daddy on the road in that moment.

We have spent a great deal of time in this house trying to help our sons realize that they are NOT first.

First is God.

They aren't second.

Second is Others.

They are third.

It is only when they've considered God and then the people around them that they can even begin to consider themselves.

This works like a charm when son #1 has pounded son #2 for taking a toy. The phrase "Who were you thinking about?" has another meaning when you have to think about what God would want (He'd want me to share) and when you have to think about the other person (Was brother playing with the toy first? Is the toy his?* Am I hogging the toy? etc.)

This becomes harder when some one's actions are impacting you; when you've done nothing "wrong" but find yourself hurt by another person.

That's where the rubber hits the road. That's where the going gets tough. That's where you have to dig deep and find the strength to realize where you really stand in the priority list.

We may not like what other people do, but we are teaching our sons to learn that, before they can really take something as a personal affront, they have to consider the other person. The other person's feelings and viewpoint and standpoint.

For a 44-year-old woman, who never thought much about being anything less than number one her entire life, that concept is hard. In fact, without some of the tough lessons I've learned that pushed me to God and forced me to endure the pain of other's decisions, I think that concept would continue to be impossible for me to grasp.

That's why I'm so incredibly proud that Nickels, at 11-years-old, already partially gets this.

It isn't going to change his life to one of no mourning. It isn't going to mean he isn't going to get hurt. It won't even mean he'll be less selfish or remember the lesson all the time.

But, it will mean, that God has something to point Nickels (and our other sons) to. When they think about getting out of line, I'm sure God will use this wonderful phrase, to get them back on track.

And to keep them humble enough that they will eventually learn that, even though the world will tell you otherwise, third place is actually something to aspire to.

*Our hard and fast rule is that you must ask permission to play with other brother's stuff. And, if they don't and find themselves in the middle of playing with someone else's toy and are asked for it back? It must be handed over immediately.....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is this an early Halloween Prank?

Another reason I am semi-freaked about computers and the potential Orwellian ability to read minds and know my business:

Today, I'm chatting with someone on my Yahoo account. Typically, I'll get a message like "--- is typing" while I wait for a response.*

Then this beauty popped up "--- is in the zone. Wait for an AHA moment."

I kid you not! Then I think "Is God trying to tell me something here? Should I pay extra-close attention? This is totally freaking my stuff** out!"

Problem is, the answer is about as bland as mud: "Noonish."

So, what exactly IS the computer doing? Is it some kind of weird programmer joke, kind of like an 8-ball message that occasionally pops up just to freak the rest of the world out?

Whatever it is, I don't like it.

I don't want to think my computer has "brains" or can "think" or "knows" anything.

I like my computer dumb. I like the phrase "garbage in, garbage out".

And, yes, I know that totally dates me and I'll be the last person to get an Ipad or Iphone or whatever latest and greatest gadget I'm too cheap to buy when it is fresh off the assembly line.

But, I'm OK with that.

Yet, I'm beginning to think my computer ISN'T OK with that. I'm beginning to think it WANTS to know what I'm thinking or maybe it already DOES.

And I'm getting a little "Matrix" paranoid. And just typing that kind of makes me worry about the consequences of my actions.

So, I'm going to post this lovely blog right now, on my lovely computer, and put my lovely laptop away for another day.

And try to forget that my computer has become an 8-ball.

And hope for no more creepy messages.

*Which is 9 times out of 10 because I type fast. Not bragging here...just been doing it since ninth grade, which is SUCH A LONG FRIGGIN' TIME that I've gotten good at it.

**Editing for television, since I'm sure I'll write a sitcom script based on this blog someday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Bully By Any Other Name

I am the parent of a student who was bullied. I, also, was bullied as a younger person.

In one instance with my son, it was physical abuse. In other times, it was verbal abuse. Thank the Lord it never morphed into sexual abuse.

But, regardless, it left deep, hard scars that will take years to heal. It crops up at times unexpected by all of us and leads to an anger that frightens me.

As parents, we dealt with both situations as quickly as we were aware a problem existed. Circumstances sometimes meant we were "blind" to the problem longer than I wish we'd been, but I hope, retrospectively, my son sees we did our best to help in an expedient manner.

Now, when the memories crop up in him, I just want everything to go away. I reason that it is "in the past".

Worse than that, I don't know how to help. No one ever helped me in the years I was teased, so I feel so helpless to help him. I also guess there is a part of me that throws up my hands and thinks "If I survived it and became a better, more sympathetic person as a result, he'll survive it, too."

I think we feel so helpless when it comes to bullying because there is just something so evil at the core of it. It is, most times, a cry from the person committing the act. It is the only power that person has; the power to make others hurt. I can only imagine the pain.

Regardless, when we take evil and repay it with evil, everyone loses.

God specifically addresses this when He tells us "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)

This is a verse with a command and a promise: when you are insulted, return kindness, so that your God can bless you.

Now, what I'm about to say is going to be unpopular with some of you. It may sound insensitive. You may not agree at first blush. But, stick with me.

So many groups of people these days, who are bullied, need to repay insult with kindness.

The problem is that our society has labeled these groups "victims" and folks have bought into that.

So, instead of holding their heads high and refusing to play the victim, they get angry and lash out, labeling everyone who disagrees with their standpoint as sexist, racist, and bigoted.

And, thus, they are blinded to the truth. Because nothing has been solved. More anger and wrath has simply been added to the fire.

To which God says:



The core issue in bullying isn't WHY, it's WHO.

The Devil is behind any "good" insult, not God.

The Devil is behind feeling helpless. God isn't.

The Devil holds the reins of those who have turned from God or don't know Him.

God, desperately, wants to intervene, but He is powerless unless and until you CHOOSE HIM. That is the beauty of God: He isn't going to force His love on you. He's truly a gentleman who won't beg you to love Him back. He'll wait until you are ready.

The mind is the Devil's playground, apart from God. And, sadly, the mind has tricked too many people. They've decided to turn from the truth of the Word and hand over power to other people instead of guiding their destiny with God's help.

And, even if you know God and you've cried out to Him and it seems your prayers haven't been answered because the attacks keep coming, you haven't been forsaken. He sees what is going on. He knows the sin.

And maybe, just maybe, we need to not only look at the bully, but at ourselves when we feel the victim. We need to look inside ourselves and be sure we are right with God. And look outside ourselves at our REACTION.

There is absolutely NOTHING another human being can do to you that God doesn't see. And, if evil is being committed against you, vengeance isn't yours. It's Gods. While you are here, repay with kindness.

There is absolutely NO INSULT that can be hurled at you that can change the fact that you are God's child. Insults are of the world. They are of the Devil. Speak kindness into the hearts of the unlovable.

You are God's prince or princess. His beloved. The apple of His eye.

At this very moment, His eye is on you. And, if you don't know Him, he is waiting for you to take that first step and acknowledge Him.

Your security, in all situations, needs to come from the fact that the King of Heaven calls you His own.

And, as difficult as it is to understand and as much as you don't want to acknowledge it, He also is watching over that person who is treating you with disdain.

You have a choice: fight evil with the weapons of this world or use God and His word as your weapon, believing that He will be your salvation. Know that when you obey Him, and return goodness for cruelty, that He is watching and taking note.

And always, ALWAYS, remember that He doesn't believe what the other side is doing is right or good or just. In times when it seems like the pain will never end, know that your prayers are heard. Sometimes they just aren't answered on your timeline. And, sometimes, they aren't answered in the WAY you want them to be.

Trust Him. Let Him deliver both you and your enemy so that everyone can benefit.

As hard as that may be, that is what God calls us to do.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Idiot Ideas

So, this, from a "daily deal" website, wanting $15 for $30 worth of goodies:

"It’s a toss-up as to what’s more exciting to a pre-schooler: baking a batch of chocolate-chip cookies or creating their latest masterpiece with some modeling clay or finger paint. Put the two together, and you’ve got a recipe for some downright delicious fun.

Art and cooking are two of the biggest sources of joy and creativity for kids, and the concept of combining them was what spawned the (named removed to protect the idiot). At this imaginative studio/kitchen, students are encouraged to cook up tasty chef-d’oeuvres with edible paints or paint powder. By the end of the session, they’ll have a work of art that looks good enough to eat (because it is!).

With today’s Sweet Deal (and we do mean sweet), you’ll get $30 worth of (the idiot product name) for just $15. Just as fun to use as it is to say, (the idiot product name)is the world’s first completely edible paint. It’s available in a medley of yummy flavors, from fruits to cotton candy, and vibrant colors.

Voucher includes 5 tubes of Edible Paint for Kidz and 5 tubes of Edible Paint Powder, as well as a paint brush and Chef style Hat."

Who in Sam Hill thought it a good idea to teach kids to eat fake PAINT?? And, from the looks of it, the paint and powders are just chock full of sugar, colorings, flavorings and preservatives designed to make them taste yummy.

In my house, the confluence of sugar + artificial additives = HYPERACTIVITY*. On speed. With a side of "Watch this!"

So, what's going to happen when Junior decides ALL paint tastes good and starts ladling the "lemon yellow" leftovers out of the Sherwin-Williams paint can you thought was high enough up on the shelf? Or when little Josie decides to lick the walls in search of the one that tastes like cotton candy?

And, truly, didn't we all learn a little lesson from kindergarten when Elmer's Glue was a delicacy? Am I not the only one who was completely freaked out when I learned glue = horse parts = I ate Mr. Ed?

I'm guessing the direct generational line from the folks who brought you candy cigarettes are behind this. If that's the case, you can expect edible paint in Halloween sacks starting next year. In little rectangular boxes. Or, maybe in long stick form.

Oh, wait! That reminds me of Pixie Sticks. Which reminds me of edible paint. Which makes me think "Hmmmm. Is this REALLY a new idea or an idiot idea dressed up to look like new?"

I'll let you decide. I have a "deal of the day" email to delete.

*Hey, Kool Aid. You listening?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nine Months

Possible Kleenex alert.....

Today marks the ninth month since Mom died.

The fact that this is the ninth month brings to mind something Mom said when she was really sick last January.

During those last 90 days, Mom's belly was quite often distended, uncomfortably so, with no relief in sight. And, one day when she was lying in her hospital bed, she put her hand on that belly, patted it, and said, "This is my baby."

You see, Mom was never able to conceive a child and, consequently, my brother and I are adopted. She always wanted children, so being barren was a very bitter pill for her to swallow.

In fact, she griped with one of her doctors that her female organs were good for nothing but making tumors. And she called those tumors "her baby".

After she died, one of the odd things I remember was the positioning of her hand on her body.

Considering we had all taken turns sitting beside the bed and holding her hand, it could have ended up anywhere. Logically, it should have been lying parallel to her body, close to where each of us held it during those last few hours. But, instead it was at the top of her bloated belly, where her "baby" was.

I am still pondering what it means that Mom referred to her cancerous tumors as her baby. I feel like I'll never quite understand all she went through years and years ago when infertility meant there was no chance you'd ever have children of your "own". And, somehow, I think that might be the key to what she was verbalizing.

In my version of what Heaven is like, Mom is rocking babies. Sweet little ones who were taken too early. Some who were abused. Some who never made it from their Momma's body. Some who also died of cancer, just like Mom.

This brings tears to my eyes but joy to my heart. Mom's love of all things baby is something I will forever remember. And, I hope, if there is any chance of her experiencing pregnancy in Heaven, that God will give her that opportunity.

I know, for her, THAT would be Heavenly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crying Days

I, personally, need a 250-count box if I'm going to reread this one....

Have you ever had one of those days when it felt you might cry at the drop of a hat? Today was that day for me.

I cried when we sang "How Great Thou Art". I cried when I prayed over one of my darling Sunday School students who was scared to get her flu shot after class. I cried again when I heard the song "Held", sung by Christian artist Natalie Grant.

I'm pretty sure you've sung the hymn and probably cried with a little one when they were frightened, but have you ever really listened to the song "Held"?

If you listen to Christian radio, you might have. But I, too, had heard it a thousand times and, somehow, just never focused in on the lyrics until this year.

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow


If hope if born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior

[Repeat Chorus 2x]

Just the unbridled anguish in the tone of the lyrics alone is enough to make me cry buckets. But, add the depth of beauty that Natalie Grant's voice brings to the song, along with the fact that it was written for a friend and her husband who had lost their infant child, and I am reduced to mush.

I have family and friends and acquantances who have all lost children much too early.

Some arrived on Earth so we could all say "hi" and "goodbye" in the blink of an eye. There are days, even years later, when it still seems like it wasn't possible for such a nightmare to occur. That we should be talking in present instead of past tense.

Some babies never made it past a few weeks or months in the womb. The shock of conceiving life, the high, was extinguished before its time. Those angels are grieved as if they had been walking beside us their entire lives.

Some children were just a prayer in a friend's mind. A "someday" when that precious baby of her dreams would be conceived. But the dream never materialized and that sweet Momma to be is left wondering "Why NOT me?" While not the death of a baby, it is the death of the hope of a baby.

And, when I put my little bit of suffering up against theirs? I just wish someone would punch me in the face and bring me back to reality.

Last Friday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Those grieving their loss lit a candle from 7-8pm in remembrance of their precious children who are now being rocked in Heaven and sung to by angels.

Personally, I think we shouldn't set aside days and times for grieving. I think we should express grief like those in other cultures, with wailing and moaning and carrying on.

But, we Americans think that is "uncouth" and "ridiculous". We like to relegate our grief to a couple of well-put-together services and a few weeks or months and then forget about the situation all together.

I stand with all those who have lost children to tell you that WE CAN'T FORGET. WE WON'T FORGET. On our death beds, we'll be telling you how much we love you and mentioning names of those we loved who went before us. And begging you not to forget them.

Somehow, we have to realize that grief is normal. It isn't symptomatic of a problem. It is the working of a solution. And, believe it or not, it is HEALTHY. And NORMAL. And GOOD.

God is just sitting on my fingers, guiding them, making sure I get His point across right now. "You aren't alone." He says. "Don't ever fear. Turn to me." "There's nothing too big."

And to that, I have to respond:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kleenex Alerts

Several of you have mentioned to me that, even with a tissue alert prominently displayed at the top of my post, you aren't heeding my gentle suggestion that you might actually cry upon reading this.

So, I thought I'd (potentially) bore you with some of the reasons I do this:

1. I don't know where you are when you read these posts. I'd hate for you to have to explain to your co-workers, boss, or fellow bathroom stall dwellers WHY you are crying buckets. On company time. So, if you see there might be need for a bit of tree pulp in case you start crying, you might put down the post and read it when I won't get you fired.

2. I also figure you are just as sensitive as I am. And have experienced feelings of loss. It might not be a parent you've said "goodbye" to but in some way, shape or form, we've all experienced the pain of suffering. So, if I find myself crying when I am writing or when I reread what I've written or when I think back on the post, I add the kleenex alert.

3. I am the one who set up this site. I am the one who types these entries. I am the one who will ultimately take credit or blame for the content. But, especially with those posts where I put in a hanky alert, I am not always the one who WRITES the content.

That may sound nuts, and I would understand if you felt that way, but there are simply times that the content of this blog was written THROUGH me, not BY me; I'm the vessel through which the insight flows.

I don't know why God chose me, except for the fact that I love words and I type pretty quickly. Oh. And I'm deeply, madly in love with Him. So, when He writes through me, it is always profound and illuminating and beyond anything I could have imagined, reasoned through, or thought of. Hence, all those posts come with a tissue alert.

Thank you for indulging me while I've taken you on an emotional journey these past few days. I'm having one of those times in life when I'm seeing God's fingerprints on everything and I don't want it to ever end.

But, sadly, I've been here in the past and know there is a valley after this mountaintop, so I'm capturing all I can on this blog. It's always nice, when you're back in yet another valley, to look back and remember that you've not always been there and won't always be there, either.

Don't worry, I'll be back to dog poo and boy pee before long.

If you're lucky.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

End of the Spear

"Call to action" hanky alert. Possibly, two hankies or more....

Elizabeth Elliott lived every woman's nightmare. Her husband was killed in another country, Ecuador to be exact, while Elizabeth and her young children were there being missionaries for God.

The story is the subject of the must-rent "adults-only" movie "End of the Spear".

Elizabeth went on to live many years after her husband's death and remarried two times before eventually dying just a few years ago. She made it her mission in life to talk to people about suffering and the GIFT that suffering is.

In a recent interview I listened to, she said (and I paraphrase) "The mountaintop is defined by the valleys."

As I thought about what she must have meant by the "valleys", I settled on the enormous pain she must have felt after her husband's death. The absolute anguish, the inconsolable children who were relying on her in a country not her own, the feelings of abandonment, the times much later in her life when she must have felt uninspired by God but kept telling others about the beauty of suffering.

And, I am continuously amazed by how she handled the ultimate betrayal of her husband's death at the hands of Waodani tribesman from the jungles of Ecuador.

Looking at it retrospectively, I'm sure she would have said she did the "Godly" thing at the time. But, from a human perspective, with small children to raise and a dead husband in the mid-1950's, she did one of the most amazing thing I've ever heard about:

She went into the jungle and searched for the very men who had killed her husband, so she could tell them the Good News of Christ.

It gives me chill-bumps just thinking about her bravery, her commitment, her tenacity in the face of such circumstances.

I am reminded, too, of Romans 5:3-5 "...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Elizabeth Elliot had taken her suffering and persevered through a challenge most people would never accept. She developed an impeccable character and affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, including the tribesman who killed her husband, and had hope through the rest of her life that she would be home with her Father in Heaven in the end, reunited with Jim in a glorious realm.

It makes me think about my own life and my own sufferings. If I can use this time to learn to persevere, how will God use that?

If my perseverance leads me to develop a character people will admire, how much more will my hope in Christ be increased?

I'd like to think in the same position as Elizabeth Eliot, completely at the mercy of a hostile people for my very survival, I wouldn't tuck tail and run the other way. Honestly, I can't say I would even THINK to do what she did.

And, truly, I don't think most people would have blamed her for packing up the rest of her family and coming back home. But, in the end, I don't think the rest of her life would have been so full.

The choice between what seems difficult and what seems impossible is often the choice between handling grief on your own verses handling grief the way God would handle it.

When it comes your way (and it will), you can either wallow in it and be consumed by pity and anger and sadness or you can turn to God to comfort you and let Him deal with those feelings.

No body around you is going to blame you for being melancholy. Everyone will excuse your behavior if you "snap". People will pity you and your circumstances. But, eventually, all that support is going to fade into the woodwork. And, it will be back to you and God.

Grief is that impossible choice between two impossible decisions. It is the "darned if you do and darned if you don't" in life. And, if you choose not to face it, it won't magically disappear over time.

YOU will have to decide how you are going to handle your suffering: the hard way, by yourself, or the easier way, with God.

It won't be a "once and it's over" proposition, either. It will be a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute, series of events. But, over time, you'll learn that letting God do the heavy work is the best way to handle your grief.

And, if God has promised His comfort and a resulting hope from your suffering, you have a lot to look forward to.

So I wonder aloud: Is today the day you should channel your inner Elizabeth Elliot? Is today the day you are going to face your worst suffering, head-on, and let God do the humanly-impossible through you? Is today the day you are going to lay it all down for Him and let Him decide how to handle it?

Is today the day?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grief for the Generations

Another Kleenex alert....

It seems, every day, I learn something new. In fact, here lately, it seems that "conventional wisdom" keeps getting turned on its head and I'm being forced to approach life from a direction I never saw coming.

This happened recently with my kids.

I've been working SO HARD to protect them from the pain of loss that I forgot to show them I am human. I forgot to give them the opportunity to see someone honestly grieving death. I forgot to allow them, through being a witness to my pain, to be open with their own.

All that changed tonight as I wrote (or, so much more appropriately, God wrote THROUGH me) yesterday's post.

Upon completion of that writing, I started at the top and reread the whole thing, word for word. And about midway through I just started crying buckets.

It was about that time that Hooman walked in the room to ask me a question. There was no way to disguise the tears. There was hardly anyway for me to talk without choking. I had NO CHOICE but to face him with tear-streaked cheeks and a cracking voice and admit my own pain.

And you know what happened? He asked to share my pain. He didn't crumple to the ground in a heap of his own tears. He stood strong for his Mom and asked me to read the very post that was making me weep.

So many times I haven't given credit where it has been due. In the people department, I think I'm especially guilty of this sin. But when your life has been one hurt after another, at the hands of people, you learn to be skittish. Or, at least to use that as your excuse.

The sheltering of my kids is a good example of this. I remember being beyond upset for years after my Grandpa Robbie died. And it seemed that no one around me felt the same pain. There were few tears shed for the man that the adults in my life felt robbed my Grandmother of most of her middle age years.

I needed someone to care that I cared and was so hurt. I needed that sympathetic soul. And, a few years later, I found him in a boy I attended school with, whose Grandfather was dying of cancer. And that was the beginning of a train wreck of unforeseen circumstances in my life.

I don't begrudge those circumstances these days; they made me who I am. However, I can see with 20/20 vision that my longing for someone to understand me led me to make one bad decision after another. For many years.

So, if I can acknowledge that I don't want my boys to go down that same path, then my logical conclusion has to be that I HAVE to grieve with them. I HAVE to bring up the subject of Mom and be ready for the tears and pain and heartache that will spill forth.

And I have to be ready to train them that God is sustaining me, one breath, one moment, one day at a time. That I am stuck with this pain for the rest of my life but that I don't have to try to bury it because God is big enough and strong enough and cares so immensely that I can lay this all at His feet and leave it there WHENEVER I need to.

I don't want my boys making the same, bad decisions I did when I felt no one understood me, save one poor person. I want them to find their comfort in God, their ultimate comforter, healer and listening ear.

So I'm going to keep writing these difficult thoughts. And maybe I'll even post the other 150 I've written since Mom was diagnosed in October 2009. I think it is high time that God decides how He wants to use my writing, instead of me trying to control a ship I am unable to steer.

And I will continue to pray that my boys will fall in God's arms, and mine, when they need to.

Hopefully, with time, we'll find that our emotional needs will lessen. And, as a result of spending so much time with God, and with each other, in our grief, that we have fallen in love with Him and each other all over again.

Wouldn't THAT have made my Momma proud?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Opposite Side of the Story

This is a two-hanky alert. DON'T move forward without getting a tissue.

This is a post that my fingers wrote but I didn't. If you have any doubt that God exists today, this is written proof....


"God blessed me and I overcame the cancer."
"God sustained me when there was no way out of that mine."
"I wasn't able to have children, but God blessed me and I became pregnant."

I have no doubt that the countless people who utter statements like these, on a daily basis, believe, deep-down to the core of their soul, that God blessed them.

And, I believe He did. Because God DOES answer prayer.

But, in a world where loved ones die of cancer, only one of the Kentucky miners made it out alive, and many are still waiting for that pregnancy miracle, this sometimes feels like a slap in the face.

"Why", I ask, "did God bless that person with health and let my Mom die?"

This line of questioning just boggles my mind. Just when I think I have reasoned my way to understanding why, my reasoning slips away. And I'm back with my faulty thinking and anger and resentment that, "God didn't answer my prayers."

Truth be told, God didn't answer my prayers the way I wanted them answered. But, nonetheless, He answered prayers.

We asked for healing and relief from pain. We asked that the chemotherapy work. In times of desperation, we asked more often for a miracle, because we realized Mom was slipping away from us. And we were selfish and didn't want to see her go, even if it meant she would be on Earth longer and endure more pain.

When I have a good, clear mind and am able to take the emotional side out of the equation, I realize God answered my prayers, and the prayers of countless others, for Mom.

He did heal her. Supernaturally. By taking her to Heaven. Tonight she is singing with angels.

Her pain is gone. And so are her tears. For as long as long may be.

The chemo? It did work. Temporarily. It bought us time. In a period of 90 days, a week is an eternity. So that, too, is an answered prayer.

We prayed for that miracle. But what we didn't realize was that miracle would occur in each of our lives, not in hers. It was the miracle of comfort of family and friends and complete strangers who cooked meals and sent cards and emails and called just to cry with us and love us through this mess. And are still doing the same today.

God knew we were human and, had we had our thinking caps on, we NEVER would have asked for more time at the expense of Mom's suffering. He knew our selfishness was borne out of great pain. And He knows that pain, himself, for he sent his only son to die for me. And you.

So the miracle is that He caused a great multitude of saints to do his business here on Earth. He caused friendships that we deemed long since gone to regenerate. He created bonds between family members that didn't exist and will last for years. He created empathy in us for people who lost Mothers and Fathers and Grandparents and spouses. WE are the miracle. In human flesh.

And we are still here, grieving, because He loved us first. And He loves us still. And He longs for us to be connected to Him. Especially during times of hurt and pain.

So, the next time I hear someone credit God for their healing, I'm going to praise Him instead of question Him.

And with the person who has been healed? I'm going to say a hearty prayer of thanks that I've been able to witness a miracle on Earth.

Even if it isn't the miracle I originally hoped I'd be witnessing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Minor Miner Problem

"Miners in a "Godforsaken" cave." That's what the reporter said from my TV set tonight.

I know I'm not paid anywhere near what Bill Weir is to examine the situation in Chile so I already have a "credibility gap" in saying this but...I BEG TO DIFFER, MR. WEIR.

Almost everyone I know has found himself* in a pit so deep he wasn't sure he would be able to claw his way out. Sure, these pits are proverbial, but they can feel just as dark, damp, gruesome, and unforgiving as a real half-mile underground mine.

Whether you've dealt with depression, addiction, loss, bullying, peer pressure, or the latest and greatest reason to feel helpless, you are never. NEVER. In a Godforsaken place.

To say that your situation in life is so helpless that God has walked away from you and stopped providing is malarkey. Even the bleakest physical places people find themselves, jail cells or deep mines or mental hospitals, aren't forsaken because God is incapable of leaving His own in a spot from which there isn't the chance to commune with Him.**

Yet, we tend to forget that we have the responsibility to cry out to Him! And we lose our focus, just like the miners undoubtedly did at times. We expect every experience, location, and emotion to be from the "mountaintop" when, in fact, most of our lives are spent in the valley, learning to appreciate the mountaintop experiences when they do come.

Can you even imagine the high each of those miners was on when they were reunited with their loved ones?*** It was the exact opposite of the depressed state they had experienced for over two months in that pit.

But, without the pit, do you truly think they could have felt such joy? Without the weeks of darkness, could they experience and appreciate the strength and beauty of the sun? Or the son?

I'm not comfortable giving "hero" status to any of the men in this situation. This was a group effort based on a basic need to survive. Every miner had a small part in upholding this community of unwilling prisoners. And God saw fit to place among them everything they needed, including one who had studied medicine, one who was a great leader, one who was inspirational, and another who was an evangelist. Even if they hadn't been provided food and water and TV, for crumb sake, they were surrounded by a group of amazing men and a God who was on their side!

I have no doubt the Devil saw this as his playground. I'm sure he was completely unmerciful when it came to playing tricks in the minds of all those miners. I'm sure there were days when they thought they would surely die in that Hell because God was nowhere to be found.

But, I have news for you, Mr. Devilboy: you LOST. 33 to zip. Nice try but no dice. You had 69 days to do your work and you failed.

And God? He had those same 69 precious days with those men, days where they were captive with the opportunity to draw close to one another and to Him. To overcome their fear and hunger and pain and just sit in the dark and call on His name.

I really hope, when the stories of these men come out as a book and a movie, that this experience will reveal the light of God to our broken world. After all, if we have to assign a hero to this situation, credit goes to Him. There is no other as couragous or able or admirable or noble as He.

In, of all places, a lightless, foreboding, foul location that we can now officially say WASN'T Godforsaken.

*Or herself.

**And, even if you don't claim Him as your own, He STILL claims YOU as His own!

***Save the one blooming idiot whose wife left the grounds because his mistress showed up? Buddy, there's a little country song that describes the next few months of your life: D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quite Quotable

Look not to the past but the future. The past is what we did wrong, but the future is a new beginning. - Nickels

Nickels wrote this on a post-it note the first week I home-schooled him in the Spring. At the time, it struck me as a "thank you" note for taking him out of a hostile school environment.

Now, I see so much more in this quote.

I'm reminded that God's mercy renews every morning. And, certainly, because I'm a sinner full of sin, I have need for God to see those wrongs from yesterday as "past" and allow me to move ahead to the "future" He has in store for me, not only into the new beginning of another day, but also the new beginning I'll have with Him in eternity.

Of course, being full of pride and arrogance and so many other traits that blind my heart, I don't always remember to stop and ask God to cleanse me. I don't ask for that restoration of our relationship through the act of confessing the things I've done wrong. But, patiently, God sits and waits for me to come to Him and "take care of business".

Patient and faithful don't even begin to describe what He's been with me. Even when I am anything BUT both of those with Him.

I really think God must have spoken these words into Nickel's heart. I know He speaks words into mine quite often and I'd love to think that my boy is getting a good head start on his Christian walk.

And, frankly, it's just really nice when we not only hear what God is saying, but can capture it for the world to see and hear.

Thank you, Nickels. If there's one thing I know, it's that your future is bright.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who, ME???

If I were in a group of people admitting faults, I'd have to raise my hand to the statement "I jump to conclusions".

And today provided an excellent example. A good friend of mine was supposed to meet me at the house so we could go play tennis.

Now, she is one of two of my closest friends who is a) always prompt* and b) never forgets when we've made plans.

So, when she was l.a.t.e., then a complete no-show, and didn't answer either of my two phone calls, I began a panic.

And here is where the case of "MommaJ can jump to a conclusion faster than a speeding bullet" kicked in. Immediately, I counted my friend as dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Once you've stopped laughing, please consider my logic:
1) Her husband also didn't answer his phone.**
2) The school calendar stated school was in and that meant she had to be up to get her kids to school.
3) We've recently had cooler weather which would have meant she might have turned on her heater for the first time. And that, my friends, is when people are most subject to carbon monoxide poisoning!

Not as crazy as it originally sounded, eh?***

Long story short, she called, apologizing profusely, for forgetting. And having her phone on "silent" in the back bedroom, charging.

Thank goodness.

Now, while I was still in high panic mode on the tennis court, one of my tennis partners, when I told her of my fear, completely looked at my reaction as glass half-empty****: "Carbon monoxide poisoning? Wow. That's a stretch".

And my glass half-full response was: "Hey. I'm a good friend. Who else is going to worry about you as much as that?"

To which I should have added: "...and bring the fire department to your house to break down the door in case you are dead and your body is rotting? I am a REALLY good friend, dang it!"

A friend who is, maybe, slightly, occasionally, a little off-base, conclusory to a fault, and partially psycho.

But, a friend to the end.

Even if that end just MIGHT be from carbon monoxide poisoning.

*I am in the other class of friends, the ones you can always count on to be 1) late and b) forget plans. It's amazing to me that I still have anyone who calls me a pal.

**He should have been at work. Yes, I called him on his cell at work; he's married to one of my best friends! I can't imagine WHY he couldn't answer the phone......

***Or, maybe it's just me??? I DID drop out of "Logic 101" in college.

****I just can't imagine why.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This morning, I was tongue-tied. And, as a nice side dish to tongue-tied, I also had brain freeze. Literally, I was having a hard time remembering words and, when my memory actually decided to kick to the "on" position, I couldn't properly say what I had remembered.

In the midst of this conundrum, I found myself trying to call Nickels "sweetness". This isn't a word I use real often*, so I was kind of out of practice. And, the bloomin' thing came out "sweetMess".

He didn't catch it, but, immediately my brain fired up thinking about my new word.

I'm positive that's what God calls me at times. A sweet mess. Sometimes, when I'm really in a bad spot, I'm sure He thinks of me as a sour mess.

But, regardless of who I am or how I'm acting at the moment, life really is just messy. I say that not so much to complain, but more to confirm that my life has proved the Bible is right on this.

We aren't guaranteed a rose garden or a smooth, straight path or a snow-capped mountain with a sweet chalet on top. Instead, we're promised that stuff is going to happen. It's the stuff that solidifies our relationship with God and makes us who we are and causes us to fall to our knees and have conversations with Him.

Contrary to what some might think, God doesn't cause our life to be messy (even though He could if He wanted to!) In fact, He tried to create paradise on Earth for us and we humans decided, in our wisdom, that paradise wasn't enough; we wanted MORE! And when we disobeyed we opened messy to the nth degree. Our lives are not the way He wanted them to be; they are what we caused them to become way back in the Garden.

And even though I've had my share of heartache in this life, I wouldn't say "no thanks" to being born, even knowing all I do about life. For all the hard times, there sure are moments that eclipse the nasty stuff and, literally, take my breath away.

To say that I've been driven to God over the course of my life would be putting it mildly. Sometimes my ride has been a clunker that I wasn't sure would make it over the molehill I made a mountain. Sometimes a limousine, complete with fancy champagne and caviar and plenty of celebrating and laughter. Other times, it's been an SUV with a slight odor of spit-up mingled with Eau d'McDonald's. However I've found my way back to God, I've (eventually) been glad for the journey.

God truly CAN make a blessing of a mess. But we have to be willing to trust Him with our heartache and pain and feelings of helplessness.

It's in those times when we ask Him to take our lives and make them worthwhile, that we see we are all really His sweetmesses. And, His sweetnesses!

You know what? I'm guessing that, more days than not, He looks upon us and whispers the words "Good job. Look at how well you gave up that mess to me. Now, let's get to work."

And the thought of that? Well, it just warms the sweet mess that is me, all the way to the bottom of my pea-pickin' little heart.

*I favor honey, sweetheart, darlin' and dude.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Movie Kind of Weekend

It's not often I recommend movies on this blog, but I've seen two good ones this weekend, so I had to share.

Ramona and Beezus is just as precious as the books that inspired the movie. And, it certainly didn't hurt that John Corbett was playing the Dad. Seriously, can that man get any hotter without catching on fire? Didn't think so, either. If you're into alleged two-timing scum, Josh Douchbag, I mean Duhamel, also has a pretty good part in the movie. I don't, for the record (as if you care), find him remotely attractive. But, if you do, run don't walk, to see this movie with your kids.

By far the best performance goes to the sweet little thing who played Ramona. OH.MY.GOODNESS. She could make me laugh and cry in the same minute span. I've never seen her before but I'll be prepared next time she's in a movie because she stole my heart. Almost made me pine for a daughter.*

The story is also well-written and has a great message that family is more important than anything else.

Two huge thumbs up for this "G" rated peach of a show.

On to adult fodder we go: The Social Network. Would've thunk that a movie based on Harvard computer programmers could actually be worthy of a $9 ticket and a budget-breaking bag of popcorn and Coke?

Holy crap. This one delivered. The lead character, played by Jesse Eisenberg, was so fantastically believeable as a computer nerd with Aspergers disease that I wondered if he'd been coached by frekazoid Russell Crowe. I completely bought into him and loved the performance.** Now, I don't know if even 5% of this is based in reality. But, frankly, the story held its own, even if it is complete bull poo.

And, Justin Timberlake? Holy cow bells. That boy can play a scum bag like no other. I have always thought he looked like someones little brother who couldn't punch his way out of a bag. But he delivered a tour-de-force of a performance that proved he, maybe, COULD get in a good left hook. Or at least duck well.

I can't give this movie enough praise. I was exhausted when we left the theater about 9pm*** but I was so crazy about the acting, that I wanted the fun to continue.

That's when I made the connection that Jesse Eisenberg is one of the zombie hunters in Zombieland. And, if Redbox had had the sense to carry it, we would have come home and watched THAT movie, just so the "WE LOVE JESSE TO PIECES" fest could have continued.

Go now. Drop the kids with the local homicidal maniac if you must.**** You'll be watching an Academy Award nominated drama, if you ask me.

But, then again, I said the same thing about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas***** and it was passed over. So, who I am I to say??? I just know I lurved.lurved.lurved it. And, I hope, you will, too.

*But then I came to my senses when I realized girl-puberty = certain death.

**Look out Oscar! You're about to be picked up by a guy named Jesse.

***That statement just makes me sad reading it.

****Just kidding, in case you don't know me but you stumbled onto this blog. I really am a loving Mother who would never consider leaving my kids with anybody lower than the neighborhood Peeping Tom.

*****Which was SO shafted by Hollywood but, blissfully, put Vera Farmiga on my map.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Strange Computer Messages

When I sign in to one of my email accounts, the following message is displayed:

"Your friends haven't done anything new lately."

I find this statement vaguely reassuring and remotely disturbing, all in one breath.

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with a mundane, scheduled, rather boring life. Truthfully, I haven't done anything new lately, either. Unless you consider cleaning bathrooms with a different type of wipe "new". Or finally figuring out that "AHA! That's what that odor is."

Then I wonder: Just exactly HOW does my computer KNOW that my friends haven't done anything new lately? Is it listening, watching, waiting for that allusive something to happen? Should I make sure and shut this thing down after I check Facebook on a Saturday night when love is in the air? GADS.

It's all a little too Orwellian for me. I couldn't get enough of 1984 in 1980. But, me thinks I have more than enough of it in 2010.

Good day, computer. I'm shutting you down for awhile.

Because I really don't want my friends to sign on and see the following (true) message "MommaJ was eating chocolate cookies at 8a.m."

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Mike: "Kids, stop arguing. Your Mother is already stressed enough."

We are in the car, all five of us, on the way to deliver an already late meal to some friends.

Surprisingly, I'm not stressed because we are running late. I'm stressed because the homemade chicken pot pie I worked on for over an hour decided it wanted to live on my kitchen floor instead of its aluminum pan. And it did a graceful swan dive into the side of the cabinetry before hitting the floor and splatting all over a three foot swath of tile.

And I did what any sane person would, after crying "NNNNOOOOOOOOOO" and just staring in disbelief for about a minute: I ignored the problem. Literally. Left the dang thing on cold, hard tile floor. To cool, obviously.*

And boy did that drive the dogs ape-poo batty. Doug was running around the mess like he was at the perimeter of a hazmat spill without appropriate gear for clean-up. He couldn't figure out why I kept shooing him away. "This smells GGGOOODDDDD, Momma. Can I eat it ALL?" was floating above his head in a doggie-conversation bubble.**

This wouldn't be so bad had I not had a conversation with the recipient of the failed culinary masterpiece who told me she LOVES a good pot pie and was excited to get a meal geared for her tastes.

As I stood at the foot of Mt. Potpie, my brain just kept screaming "LOSER. Rookie mistake. Use a baking sheet. Dumbo."

So, back to the car:

The Babe: "Mom, why are you stressed?"
Me: "Because I'm running late to take a meal to someone." Slight lie. I'm trying to play cool about being mad at my idiocy.
TB: "I'm stressed too." Slight pause. "What does 'stressed' mean?"
Me: "It means 'anxious'."
TB: "What does 'anxious' mean?"
Me: "It means 'nervous'." SURELY he's heard me use THAT word before.
TB: "What does 'nervous' mean?"

Now, by this point, I'm exasperated. Being a lover of words, I'm thinking "Where did I go wrong here? Why doesn't this kid know about being stressed, anxious, and nervous? Is not the Queen's English employed in our household, lad?"

Of course, I'm missing the obvious point that it is actually a GOOD thing these words haven't invaded his five-year-old vocabulary, much less his pint-size body.

But, I'm too busy being stressed to think about THAT.....

Me: "It means my tummy hurts and I'm sad." Poorest working definition of nervous EVER.
TB: "OK. Then I'm 'nervous' too."

Had I known this little exercise was one in "I'm going to copy Mommy's emotion and take it upon myself", I would have just said "I'm fine". But, instead, because I'm all word-uppity, my kid will now be telling the world he's nervous. GREAT.

In the end, all ended up just fine: Turns out, Whole Foods will sell you a great-looking mini-pot pie and a rotisserie chicken if you just give them your credit card.

And, late? Not even on the radar screen of our meal recipients. Gotta love them.

As is so famously quoted, "All's well that ends well."

Or, in the case of the Nowells: All's well that ends with your kid learning a new word he can eventually attribute to your lousy parenting when he's paying two big ones an hour for therapy.

*Not. Somehow, I was just hoping this problem would magically disappear. Or time would rewind.

**Just so you know I'm not the meanest dog owner ever, I did let both Tex and Doug have a little taste. I just didn't want them to go crazy and have doggy diarrhea all over their cage.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Great Comeback

In response to being called "Old Man" by his slightly younger sister (whose day is coming. and whose friends are all older. and who have seen every mutation of the "40" surprise party. and know how to exact revenge.):

"Just put Matlock on the color box and leave me alone."

Took me just a minute to interpret this the first time I read it. But the next time, and the time after that? I just couldn't stop laughing.*

This is the kind of brilliant comeback that makes its way forward in my mind at the pace of a land tortoise. I KNOW the perfect, slam dunk, in your face! comeback for every occasion resides in there. They just won't move at a hare's pace so I can use them in a timely manner.

Way to go, older brother of my friend. I feel your pain. I have one of those pesky, younger siblings. And they ARE a pain in the rear at times.

And, dare I say, worse than the mandatory colonoscopy that is barreling down the lane at you, full speed ahead???

*If you are still too young to understand this: TV.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Long, lost friends are sometimes the best friends you don't have in your life.

They've "been there" with you and remember times you've long since forgotten.

They knew you "when" and know you now. And they aren't afraid that time will have changed the fact that you value their opinion.

They've long since misplaced the negative emotions that tempered your relationship and caused you to become enemies, only to become friends again.

They love you like no one else because they know you like no one else. And, still, they like you to the core.

Long lost friends don't have to receive a Christmas card every year or hear you sing "Happy Birthday" annually or know the ins and outs of your every day life.

They are happy to know you are still alive and kicking and will, one day, reconnect with them...if only briefly and only for a moment to help you out of that pickle you find yourself in. And, then, they disappear like mist into the clouds.

But, somehow, you know they are always there. Cheering you on and praying for you, even when they aren't sure what they are praying for or why you are on their mind.

They are the ones whose email addresses you love to see show up in your inbox, out of the clear, blue sky. Or, better yet, whose return address adorns the unexpected card they send, catching you up on their latest adventures.

They are the ones who can talk your ears off when you see them after weeks, months, or years have gone by.

My long lost friends are the ones whom I will grieve when they are gone and will blissfully reunite with in the blink of an eye.

They are the truest people in my life. The ones whom time has tested and who have remained loyal and faithful, through it all.

You know who you are. And I love that God has blessed me with you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bedtime Excuses

Of all my favorites excuses over the last eleven years (and there have been plenty), by far the all-time greatest came from Nickels when he was around six years old.

I guess Mike or I must have been to Firestone regarding one of the car's tires within a few days of this comment, otherwise I am just baffled as to the terminology he employed.

But, without further ado, reason number 5302 for getting out of bed once you've been read to, tucked in, prayed over, told "Good night", and you've already gotten up once to pee:

"My bottom just rotated and now I have to poo."

He stood in the hallway, announced this, and neither Mike nor I could keep a straight face.

And, yes. He did get to go to the bathroom.

After all, what warped parent would deny a rotated butt the opportunity to at least TRY to poo?

Friday, October 1, 2010

This is Why I DON'T Clean....

Tissue alert! Tissue alert!

I don't sound that bell very often, but today I will as I can't imagine anyone reading this and not crying.

Mike has been gone all week, so the state of the house is, dare we say, Armageddon?

So, I chose a room to start in and, as I'm working on Hooman's closet, I find a card Mom wrote to him dated 10/31/09, just a few days after her diagnosis. It says:

Dear Hooman,
I hope you have fun tonight riding in Uncle R's truck as you go "trick or treating". The picture on this card is drawn by the man who wrote about the Red Ryder BB gun.*
Thank you for all the love and prayers you have sent my way. I send love and prayers your way also. I want you to be a happy person. I will do my best to be better soon.

XOXO and Blessings, Grandma Joyce

Everything I italicized in the note, Hooman had underlined in black crayon.

Then, on the opposite side of the note card, he had written the following, which I am copying, misspelling and all:

I Hoped you wud make it I Love you sowe much you where the Best Grama ever recoded in History XOXO Hooman

And, on the back of the card, he wrote: I Love Hooman XOXO :)

This was room number one of what was supposed to be a whole house cleaning. And, now, I'm having to take a crying break and write this so I can move on to clean the toilet.

THIS, right here, is my excuse for not cleaning. Moving around this house, with the little reminders of Mom all around, dredges up too much stuff for me, still. And I'm not talking about dust and dirt and gunk. Though, surely, any dust-allergic individual should steer clear of our house during cleaning day.

Worse than the effect on me, is the fact that my boys are still suffering with the thought of Grandma being gone. Like finding the card today, it hits them when no one expects it.

Yet, we are so far from that crummy "reverse honeymoon" period we experienced right after Mom died. The time when all the services and memorials were over and everyone had gone home and now it was back to "real" life. The time when I felt tired to the bone and couldn't even wrap my mind around boiling an egg, much less cleaning a house.

The time when hearing someone complain about skinning their knee or overhearing people laugh almost made my homicidal. I remember wanting to scream "Don't you know my Mom just died? Your stupid knee will heal. And nobody should be laughing; you should be crying. All the time."

God has a funny way of moving us through the pain. He doesn't just remove it one day. Some days big hunks come off and the tears flow and sting our eyes. Other days, we revel in our memories and examine our lives and don't cry at all. In fact, we are just grateful for what we've been given. And some blessed days we don't even think about our loss at all.

That's how I know God is still with us Nowell folk (and has been and will be): I am getting to the point where there are fewer days of remembering my loss and more days of being grateful for Mom's gain.

It's not easy, it doesn't happen quickly, but, in the end, for Mom to be reunited with my Lord and Savior, it is certainly WORTH IT.

But, back to now. I have to clean. While God cleanses me with tears and writing and gratefulness for Mom's love.

And, you? If you are in a praying mood today? Say a little arrow prayer that I would finish this cleaning with a song in my heart and an attitude of gratitude for what I've been given.

And, quite importantly: no allergy attack from all the dust.

*Which actually added a bit of levity to the situation as I thought "You'll shoot your eye out."