Monday, October 31, 2011

Got Angry?

I just finished an amazing book by Chip Ingram, pastor and author, titled The Invisible War. The premise of the book is that Christians need to put on the whole armor of God on a daily basis to be prepared to deal with the war that is going on around us in the unseen world. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Spurred on by the good writing and sound, Biblical message, armed with a gift certificate to, and intrigued by the title (Overcoming Emotions that Destroy), I purchased another book by Mr. Ingram.

I didn't bother to read the subtitle before I ordered the book (Practical Help for Those Angry Feelings That Ruin Relationships) so I didn't really know I was about to be getting the help I've so desperately needed all these years.

Guys, this one was a life-changer from the minute I started reading chapter one. And, I venture to say, if you've dealt with unresolved anger over ANYTHING in life, it will be for you, too.

What I had never stopped to consider is the premise that anger isn't always bad.

Read that sentence again.

Anger isn't always bad.

Growing up, I can remember hearing "Don't get angry!", as if it was a curse. I think I heard that phrase an awful lot because I remember being prone to fits if I didn't get my way or I got frustrated or just felt emotions that I couldn't quite figure out how to express.

Oh, wait. That was last week, wasn't it?


Here is the definition used in the book "Anger is a charged, morally neutral, emotional response of protective preservation."

I'm learning SO MUCH I never knew about how to use anger appropriately. I'm figuring out what kind of negative emotional anger I've been prone to in the past. And, along with prayer and lots of soul searching (which is helped along by questions to consider and action steps to take at the end of every chapter), I'm finding myself less angry as each chapter is under my belt.

My sincerest hope, from all this reading, is that I become a person who expresses righteous anger; anger with a holy purpose, aimed at things that are ungodly and need to be changed for the betterment of the kingdom.

The other stuff, junk that has no real righteous basis, that just ticks me off? I'm praying to identify how I can positively channel that negativity into something good. Maybe, say, weightlifting with lots and lots of grunting sounds.

I want to be squarely in the midst of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) I don't want to be soundly in the realm of acts of the sinful nature including hatred, discord, fits of rage and dissensions. (Galatians 5:20).

Especially if you find yourself in the midst of being hurt or angry at another person today, this is a book to consider picking up and reading through.** I can't predict it will have as much impact on you as on me, but I certainly think it is worth the chance.


*I think you can preview the chapter titles and maybe the first chapter on Such a cool feature....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Moutain Dew for Thanksgiving?

Yes, you read that right. Only a PROPER table would have Mountain Dew on it. It's an inspired idea, straight from Mike's ability to take a cute, children's book title and make it a crazy, tear-inspiring, laugh-fest.

Let me let you in on the joke.

Last night, we had dinner with friends at their house. We've known these people as long as we've known each other and I've known them even longer than that. There isn't much that has happened in the life of our family that hasn't included them.

The lady of the house is a master decorator. Where I can cobble together a few chargers, candles and fake leaves to fill the center of my dining room table, she can throw a charger at the local "do-it-yourself" pottery place , mold candles in her kitchen, and find leaves she stored away from her last trip to Arkansas. Her house looks like Fall originated there...and she's just gotten started.*

Anyway, she had this adorable array of children's books on her fireplace, spilling out of a wooden box that looked straight from an antique store that acquired it from some one's Great Grand mama's Momma. All this was flanked by tall, wooden candle holders and large, Fall-colored burning candles. It created this warm glow that invited your eyes to explore what she had created.

At the front of the display was a book she had had in her collection for years titled "P" is for Pilgrim. I noticed it almost right away, with its colorful cover and cheery picture.

As we were getting up to leave, I began pulling together items we had brought near the front door and I heard all three adults in the living room laughing so hard I was afraid someone was going to snort. So, I ventured back in there.

Lady of the house was wiping tears from her eyes. Our host was laughing, belly style. Mike was trying to explain himself.

Seems he noticed the book as he stood to leave and quickly glanced at the tittle and was astounded that our friend would put such a book front and center of her holiday decorating.

He read "Pis for Pilgrims".

Now you not only see why our social life is often stifled, but you also know why he is getting Mountain Dew at the Thanksgiving table.

It's as close to coal in his stocking as I could get without getting really disgusting.

*Do you see the difference in us? If not, come take a tour of my vastly, undecorated space of a house. Mike likes to call it "minimalistic". I call it "lack of ability to properly decorate".

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Not all Rhyming is Cool

There's a great little song about Ruth that plays on KLTY, the Christian radio station, that has a catchy little refrain that goes:

"Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
Where you serve, I'll serve
I will follow you."

Great song. Kids love it. Kids sing it like crazy.

Yet, apparently, rhyming was the entree of the week at school, because The Babe decided to freestyle the song by added his own words:

"Where you serve, I'll serve
Where you perv, I'll perv
I will follow you."

I think he has the right idea about doing something very wrong here.

Only a Mother with boys would have to worry about explaining rhyming lyrics.....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pork Fried Rice

Sure, this is a grand departure from yelling at the President, but my vocal chords needed a little rest, so....

Made this the other night for the family and LOVED IT. Everyone, except The Babe, ate until the pan was empty.

It comes from Cooking Free, a cookbook for people with allergies and sensitivities, specifically to gluten (found in large quantities in regular wheat), milk, eggs, and sugar. This is the first recipe I tried, and it hit a home run. Which is funny, because we ate it just in time for the Rangers to totally trounce the Cardinals on Monday night.

Maybe I should have prepared it TWO nights this week?

Anyhoo, if you are like us, we haven't been able to set foot in a Chinese restaurant in, ballparking* it here, the last five hundred years, because of the effects MSG has on my sweet Hooman. Basically, smelling fumes from a Chinese place, even the really high-end ones, causes his brain to create a migraine the size of Godzilla.

So, we save our money for other things, like cookbooks for people with sensitivities to MSG. This recipe reminded me that not all good things have to come from an ethnic establishment to taste really, really good.


1/2 pound boneless pork, cut into 1/4 inch thick cubes
1 T canola oil (I used olive)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, diagonally cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (added about 1 1/2 cups to make up for leaving out peas/sprouts)
1 large egg, beaten (optional)
4 cups cooked rice (I used short-grain brown and it rocked)
2 T wheat-free tamari soy sauces (used coconut aminos--could use regular soy sauce)
3 green onions, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup snow peas (didn't use)
1/4 pound (2 cups) bean sprouts (didn't use)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (don't leave out--makes the dish)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In wok or high-edged skillet, saute pork cubes in oil until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.

Add onion and stir-fry until onion is translucent. Add garlic, carrot and mushrooms; cook for 2 minutes (I think I added a little oil to the pan before I did this?!). Add this mixture to the cooked pork, leaving nothing in the pan.

In wok, stir-fry egg (if using) and cook until set (I added a little oil before cooking). Break up pieces using spatula. Add rice and all cooked ingredients to wok. Add soy sauce, green onions, snow peas, bean sprouts, oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to serving temperature. Serve immediately.

Cooking note: as with most multi-ingredient recipes, I suggest you chop and measure and set aside everything before you begin cooking. Just makes putting it all together SO.MUCH.EASIER.

Sure, creates a few more dishes to clean, but that's what a good husband is for.....

*I'm not even (YAWN) remotely (YAWN) ticked off that the (YAWN) Rangers lost that game at (YAWN) some goshawful time after (YAWN) 11pm last night.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is Anyone In Washington NOT High?

Dear Mr. President--
In case you haven't noticed, Dave Ramsey, his ideas, his books, his show are really quite popular with the general public these days.

His program plays on most radio stations for three to four hours DAILY. He consistently fills large auditoriums to capacity. In short, there are big, old bunches of people who are fed up with their OWN irresponsible spending habits and are working like banshees to get out of debt.

And, guess what? Those same people vote.

I'm giving you this little heads-up because I hear there is an election on the horizon and I thought you might like to consider toning down the message that "America has money coming out its rear end".

This most recent "Student Loan Relief" program would be a good starting point. In an era where companies are being forced by government regulation to increase the amount of minimum due payments to credit cards, how does it make sense to reduce student loan payments by five percent?

Both of these are debts. Both have an interest rate. But, somehow, credit card debt is evil and student loans aren't? When did what's good for the goose suddenly become horrible for the gander?

Also, I'd really like someone to explain how forgiving a student loan after a period of years makes any sense whatsoever. I know you didn't put that policy into place, but you are proposing that the government forgive loans five years earlier than current law, so you must have a logical argument for this change.

I mean, how much difference is 20 vs. 25 years of payments anyway? Right?

Let's see: for you and Michelle, it would have been a whopping $24,000 worth of difference!* That's a whole lot of Benjamins, dontchathink?

Of course, you paid off the entire enchilada in ten years at $1,000/month. So that puts you squarely in the "middle income" tax bracket I guess. No wonder you can relate to all those college students you rolled this plan out in front of! It's all starting to become crystal clear now!

I think we have to disagree on the next point, but as I see it, if I get myself into debt, it is not only my duty to pay it off, it is my obligation. That is doubly true when I'm fishing in the pond of taxpayer's money. Because, by not paying what I owe, I'm ripping off my neighbor.

But, honestly, if this is going to fall on deaf ears, can I at least suggest the same program for mortgage holders? Shoot, I'd give my right leg for a 10 year reduction in THOSE payments. Just think how much more I could give to the government if you helped me out like that!

Anyway. See you on the campaign trail. And best of luck.

My gut tells me you are going to need it.

Most snarkily,

*And he had the marbles to COMPLAIN that he and Michelle were $120,000 in debt because of law school. UM, HELLO? Why didn't one of you WORK to put the other one through? Or, if you weren't married yet, it's called "find a job, work through school, take fewer loans".

Better yet? Stop complaining...obviously, you paid your load off in ten years without a problem.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

House of Fun

If there was any doubt that my children are kin to Adam and Eve, the past several years have proven genetics beyond a shadow of a doubt. How? One word: nakedness.

My children THRIVE on being unclothed. There is nothing like luxuriating in the pool sans bathing suit or sleeping in the buff or running through the house, naked-as-a-jaybird, after a good, hot shower.

But, with all the charming demonstrations of flapping penises that have occurred over the years, this love of being butt-naked was elevated to a new level this week by The Babe.

As I was cooking dinner, he came running through the kitchen. Straight-up bare-butted. And, in between his cheeks was a wad of toilet paper with a bit of trailing paper, just for grins or effect or just because he's an artist with a flair for the extraordinary.

In the midst of running, he stopped right in front of me, thrust his butt out and started shaking it back and forth, and half-singing, half-speaking said "I'm a bunny rabbit. Hop.Hop.Hop"

And, indeed, he looked like a cotton-tail, which I noticed when I stopped laughing and the tears cleared from my eyes.

I'm sorry to report that I didn't get a camera shot or you'd be staring at a beautiful behind with a cottony-tail right now.


Probably can't top that story, but a "who's on first?" commentary ensued between Hooman and Nickels on the way to karate today.

I had managed to get Nickels into his seat when he realized he'd left a piece of key equipment in the house. Out of seat, into house, he goes.

Meantime, Hooman had arrived on scene. Unbeknownst to him, he sat down in the very place that Nickels had just vacated.

{Bunny trail (GET IT! HA!): Trying to corral kids to go to any lesson or practice that requires equipment is like trying to get all the cats in a fish house to pay attention. Just about the time you get one working with you, the others start wandering aimlessly.}

Now, Nickels is back at the car and realizes Hooman is in his seat. And he opens the door closest to Hooman and he says: "Why are you S*ITTING in my seat?"

Hooman (laughing hysterically and commenting at me): "Did he just ask why I'm S*ITTING in his seat?"

Nickels is now laughing his rear off but manages to apologize to both his brother and Mother. So, I tried to keep my composure as I said "Yes he did."

Hooman (giggling as he answers Nickels' initial question): "I didn't know this was where you were SITTING." That last word was said very carefully and over pronounced to the point of absurdity.

Thankfully, instead of a fist fight over who was sitting where, I had two boys who now realized they had BOTH cussed in front of their Mother. And she wasn't laughing.

Except inside, where I was relishing this Freudian slip and thinking of how much fun it was going to be to blog this later.

Let's just say, that was one quiet ride with immense gratitude at the end, as they exited for their lesson.

Monday, October 24, 2011

He Is With You--Mandisa

I had the great privilege of attending Mandisa's concert last night with a great group of ladies who all had "Mommy/Daughter" dates with their girls. These are all women I've done one of Kelly Minter's Bible Studies with and they are all very introspective, honest, real gals. I fully expect that each of their daughters will end up being Bible-thumping, Jesus-loving Christian women.

Needless to say, I didn't have a daughter to take along, though Hooman did suggest, since his hair has gotten so long, that he could have passed as my date.

Nice try, dude. Thanks for the reminder that Dad needs to take you for a haircut.

We were all really blessed by the company and the chance to put daughter's faces with names. Each of those girls is a joy, in her own way. Some are shy as church mice. Some are all smiles and laughter. Some are sullenly pre-pubescent. But, truly, each of them is a blessing to her Momma.

I waited most of the night for Mandisa to get to "the song". You know the one: it's the reason you paid to go to the concert in the first place. For me, it was the reason I fell in love with Mandisa at "Women of Faith" 2009 and cried tears of love for Christ on the cusp of what became the most ridiculous six-month roller coaster ride of my life.

From the first time I heard it, I loved the line "Cryin' God, what'd You do that for?"

Oh, do I love that line.

Why don't we ask that more often? Why don't we cry out to God for explanation, even if there isn't one?

That crying out is what makes us human. What connects us with Him. What breaks our hearts and causes us to want to stick by His side because He is the only One who knows AND understands.

Asking makes us whole again, even if, in the moment, we aren't given a reason why. It makes us whole again because we are communicating to Him in our great grief, even if we never get an answer this side of Heaven.

This song gives me great hope that God is on my side, through thick and thin; that He loves me, even when I don't understand and all I can do is cry out to Him and weep until there are no tears. It gives me hope that my great advocate sees everything that happens in my life and cares about every minor and major pain that I endure.

I hope this song has the same impact on you that it has on me.

(Sorry about the cut and paste--still haven't figured out how to make the video function work....)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


"When you started your day crying, why not end it bawling?"

That should have been my answer when Mike asked if I'd like to go see Courageous tonight. Let's face it, when you are so inspired by the early previews that you start to weep, seeing the whole movie is just going to make it worse. And, it did.

I am not going to give any plot spoilers here. If you've seen the previews, you know that this movie is about Godly men stepping up and taking responsibility for their families. And, you probably have figured out that doing that requires a lot of a man.

The movie drops in on several character's diverse lives and does a good job of telling each of their stories. Unlike other movies created by Sherwood Baptist Church, this was the first one where the dialogue and filming seemed almost seamless. The acting was good to great.

Maybe it's the Pollyanna in me that believes that a revolution not only could, but might, happen in this country if men of faith really stepped up. Maybe it's pie-in-the-sky, but I think stranger revolutions have already happened. And, if enough men took this movie to heart, we could reclaim our families and our streets and the Christian values that have undergirded the U.S.A. for almost 250 years.

This movie gave me that hope. Hope for our boys. Hope for our men. Hope for our families.

My only suggestion is that you stop by the concession stand before you find your seat. Don't worry about getting popcorn or a drink or candy. Just grab the napkins. And then get a few more.

Don't worry; you'll be in good company. Everyone around you will either be blowing their nose, wiping tears, or trying to figure out how to stop their mascara from running, too.

This is a two-pinkie up movie, with a box of kleenex alert.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obedience, Part II

You know the old adage that once you speak something it is sure to happen?

Many of you who are praying Christians will know exactly what I'm talking about if someone has ever prayed over you for patience; truly, you can now be certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that tough times are a-comin'.

Well, I spoke of Nickels' obedience and BOOM. Exploding child. Exploding Mom.

Let me give you a little context here: yesterday was the second anniversary of the day my Mom was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She died 90 days later. Needless to say, this is a challenging part of the year for me and my family.

Over the past few weeks, I've felt VERY disobedient to God. Most people wouldn't see it, but I knew it was there. My eating patterns looked like the dude from Super Size Me. My prayer life was spotty. I even ignored my Bible study excusing lack of time in word because we won't meet this Sunday.

My brain has wandered to ugly places, an old boyfriend tracked me down via email, and I've had the energy (because of my stupid eating habits) of a slug.

It has been a full-out attack. And, dumb me? I didn't see it coming. And when it arrived, I didn't realize it had moved in.

At the same time, Nickels' turned from polite, obedient, wonder child to a raging ball of hormones with an attitude: Schoolwork? Piss off! Parent's Opinions? Not worth listening to. Obedience? I'm sorry, I don't recognize that word.

This all culminated in a huge explosion after breakfast, over a package of Nickels' that needed to get to his friend's house. When he wanted to drag it with him to school, I asked him to leave it at the house.

Oh, the drama. You'd have thought I asked him to shoot his brother in the foot. "WHY???? I need that with me. Mrs. Soandso is taking me to her house after school. WHY????" This was such a serious issue that he was almost in tears.

In the meantime, I was trying to pull together a smoothie, coffee cup, my prayer book, purse and jacket to get out the door by 7:45am to pick-up carpool. I didn't want to answer "WHY" questions because I wanted OBEDIENCE.

I was thinking (but never said): "Just leave the darn bag! I'm taking it to Mrs. Soandso later in the day because I want to talk with her. I've got you covered, dude."

Needless to say, once we hit the car, I began lecturing both boys* about obedience. Specifically, obedience without questioning WHY we should be obedient.

I half-shouted at them that much of the time God doesn't tell us WHY we should do something until after we've presented an obedient heart to Him. I told Nickels, again half-shouting, that I had the stupid bag covered, I just wanted him to acknowledge that he could trust me by being obedient.

It wasn't until I sat down in prayer group 30 minutes later and we started praying over children who are having undiagnosed seizures and breast cancer patients and husbands who died and left families that I realized what was going on.

My lack of obedience was rubbing off on my boy. I let the devil have a foothold in my life and it was having an effect on my very own child.

In the past several days, I haven't been obedient to God in the slightest. I was treating the temple of my soul with disdain by choosing to eat junk. I was consciously walking through life without my line of communication to God intact. I was ignoring God's word and even trying to justify why I was doing it!

I let my brain become the Devil's playground and he, obviously thought he might be able to attack my marriage if he could get me to compare my current life to the carefree times with an old boyfriend.** And on Thursday, when I was supposed to be writing? I turned my back on the book and refused to write a word.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that I was intentionally poisoning my body with poor food choices to the point where I had no energy to fight back.

I confessed all this under the umbrella of disobedience during prayer time. And the tears started coming and wouldn't stop.

In quick succession, I realized I had come to the point of grief where I FINALLY felt a bit mad at God for what had happened to Mom. I realized my disobedience was directly tied to that anger. As a result, I let the Devil have a foothold in my life.

And, you know what? God knew all that and, still, He forgave me. Simply because I asked.

Today has been a time of revelation. Mind you, a painful time, but a necessary one. I had my moment of pity for myself and my bit of anger at God and I am ready to move on.

I'm ready to eat salad and forgo Diet Coke and skip dessert.
I'm ready to pray without ceasing and read the Bible and sing hymns and listen to good, Christian men speak the truth through their messages.
I'm ready to cry as much as is necessary, for the next 90 days, until we pass the date of Mom's death.
I'm ready to write again and know that it will be a difficult, but necessary journey.

But, mostly? I'm ready to become obedient so my boy will see my obedience and follow me. I am ready for my example to cause him to WANT to become obedient again. I'm ready to be a light in his life, pointing him back to God. And I want my connection to God restored.

And, for the many days of disobedience that have passed, I am grateful. No, it wasn't fun. No, I don't want to got through it again. No, I'm not proud of it.

But, it is all part of my story. Another time God took me out of a pit, showed me the error of my ways, and redeemed me. Another reason to praise Him and thank Him for his blessings.

Slowly, but surely, God is moving me through a time of understanding each of the fruit of the Spirit. I've experienced His peace and exhibited faithfulness in the past. And now, I feel, we are moving on to self-control.

I'm ready God. Take me where YOU lead.

*Poor Hooman. Innocent victim, hit by the bullets of my speech.

**The email was really very innocuous. God had brought me to his mind during this difficult time...he sent some scripture to me to help out. My marriage is very on-track and I'm proud to say we will celebrate our 14th anniversary in just a few weeks.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Recently, Mike and I have been talking with Nickels about WHY obedience to us is so important. In the past, our catch phrase was always something about commandment number five being the one with a promise of a long life in return for honoring Mom and Dad.

As with most "Because I said so" responses, this one didn't seem to hit its intended target, even though we had pointed out dozens of times that it was directly given to us by God who could, after all, smite us at any given moment.

And, as I imagine it, smiting is a bit more severe than a spanking or a long timeout or loss of a toy.

Still, our point was being spoken over and over and over and over and over......again. We began to wonder if our children were overachievers when it came to earwax production, one of the only things that would explain how they couldn't hear us despite the broken record of our explanation.

Then, as I was listening to the radio the other day, I heard a pastor talking about obedience. My ears perked up. I don't need a heavy duty ear cleaning to latch onto information. AHEM.

What he stated was so simple yet so incredibly true: the reason we must teach our children to be obedient to us, as parents, is that we are a TANGIBLE source of correction for our children when they are disobedient.

In short, when we require obedience, we are flesh and blood that our children can see, hear, and respond to. When they are adults and, as parents, we no longer demand obedience, it shifts to an invisible God whom they must recognize through His Word and voice.

Unlike us, He will not be standing in front of them when he requires obedience and holds them accountable. They will have to discern that their actions of obedience are proper or improper based solely on answers to prayer, the Bible, and the state of their life.

I imagine it like this: if your parents told you about swimming but never took you to a pool and made you take lessons, and when you were an adult you fell in the water, what would happen? Even though you were an adult, you'd be totally unprepared. All the lectures about swimming wouldn't mean a thing because you never were held accountable to actually swim on your own.

You probably wouldn't know how to get to the edge of the pool to save yourself. You might not be able to keep your head above water. You might, accidentally, drown.

If we choose not to teach our children lessons of obedience, they will drown as adults when God requires them to be obedient to Him.

We are demonstrating the relationship our children will ultimately have with God in this whole issue of obedience. On earth, the lessons we teach prepare the way for them to hear God's voice of correction.

If our children aren't taught of the importance of God and don't learn to obey us, they certainly won't be able to listen to and obey an invisible God. And, let's face it: the time we have to influence our kids spiritual walk is fairly short. Once they leave the nest, they have to have a solid foundation.

If we've taught this lesson of obedience well, when our children have ethical questions as adults, they will turn to God and obey what He says (through prayer or reading the Bible).

They will be obedient in prayer to Him, in all circumstances. When they feel happy, rejected, thankful, sorrowful, etc., those feelings will be channeled to Christ when we are no longer available to hear them.

When they wander off the right path, our children will hearken back to times we corrected them and recognize God's correction as right and good.

When we demand that our children obey us, we are not being mean or controlling or abusive. We are showing love. We are demonstrating relationship. We are teaching them the very lessons that God teaches us in the Bible: obedience has rewards and disobedience brings punishment.

Nickels understood this connection. Or, at least, he seemed to. He has, certainly, been more willingly obedient recently, so we are taking that as progress.

This is one of those issues of parenthood that we all struggle with. We think "Wouldn't it be wonderful if my child would just obey me?" or compare him to the child next door who always seems to be so compliant.* And, as they age, it is often difficult for us to readily figure out how to move our children to obedience.

Yet, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we aren't parents by accident. Just like anything worthwhile, sometimes waiting for our children to become obedient takes patience. And practice.

Whether you felt the incredible responsibility of training your child the first time s/he was put in your arms or you are just realizing it now at five or ten or fifteen, it is never too late to start teaching honor through obedience. It is one of the very tangible way you can point out Christ to your kids.

And, if you are like me? The legacy you leave behind, through your children, is right up there with the most important jobs I have to complete in this world before I leave it.

God, grant us the wisdom to accomplish this task to your glory. Amen.

*HINT: He's not. In front of you, SURE! In front of his parents?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writing Bliss

Writing is a lonely pursuit. Oftentimes, you pour your heart into writing something and then you wonder "Did anybody out there read that?"

With the "stats" section of Blogger acting up recently, I got to thinking about this a little bit more. Would I continue to write my thoughts in this format if I knew for a fact that nobody was reading?

It reminded me of Will Smith's character golfing off the ship in the harbor in "I Am Legend"*. Truly, what was the point? He's the only guy left in New York and, possibly, the world. His dog darn sure didn't care where the balls landed. There was no huge tournament to win that required practice. But, somehow, in the midst of his life of solitude, swinging that club and whacking the snot out of that ball helped his soul.

That's what writing does for me. It really isn't tangible. It really isn't explainable. It just practice for a long-off tournament that has no name and no prize. But, somehow, it makes life more bearable, brings me peace, and helps me clarify things in a way that no other form of communication can.

So, if you are reading this today? I have no clue. I quote Blogger: "We're working on it."**

I just hope in some, small way, that what I've said will spark an interest in your soul. That you will take a few moments to think about what it is in this life that holds your interest and makes you tick; it makes you, you.

And I hope that spark will motivate you to figure out what in this world brings you the same kind of satisfaction that writing brings me.

*Sorry. You're going to have to tell me to stop referencing this movie with Crazy Glue to my fingers so I can't type about it anymore.

**That's computer nerd code for "We have NO CLUE what the heck is going on, but we're able to post a cool, pop-up message that will persuade you we are actually TRYING to do something."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just Flat Sweet

One of Nickel's bestest friends is celebrating his birthday with a sleepover this Friday. Since life in friend's house has been crazy with a capital K lately, Mom is throwing everything together last minute and we just got the invitation yesterday.*

In the meantime, Gran's Dallas doctor appointment got moved to Friday and since she and Pop were planning on being at the boy's games on Saturday anyway, she suggested they stay the night on Friday. Sounded great on our end. Except that now we had a quandary.

In corner number one, weighing in with little sleep and lots of farting/belching and the possibility of wrapping some one's house? Friend's birthday sleepover!! In corner number two, with a guarantee of lots of love and a normal bedtime? Time at home with Gran/Pop!**

Obviously, in my mind, the heavyweight in this equation was the sleepover. I expected it to beat time with Pop/Gran, the featherweights in our competition, to a bloody, lifeless pulp. But, before I did anything, I decided to pose the question to Nickels.

And this is where it got really good. My initial assumptions were utterly wrong. In my boy's eyes, there wasn't a good answer. He wanted to do BOTH. So, we talked a bit about the pros/cons of each choice and I left the decision in his court.

This morning, I still don't have an answer. And I love Nickels for that. He has a love for his Pop/Gran that is like my love for my Grandparents. I couldn't wait to spend time with them, especially my Grandpa Robbie, sitting under a big shade tree, talking about life, eating cookies dipped in milk, and just basking in the love I knew he felt for me and I for him.

Even if he chooses to go to the sleepover, I won't be disappointed in the least. He has a healthy respect for the ones he loves and he has proved that for the thousandth time in the care he is taking in making this decision.

How blessed I feel to have been entrusted with such a caring son.

*Totally understandable with the size of her plate and the amount of stuff loaded on it right now.

**Who are giving me and Mike a respite from life by being our babysitters.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Amazing Perspective

Giuliana Rancic, the TV sweetheart of "E! News"who is married to "Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic, recently found out she has breast cancer at the age of 36.

Now, this would be a complete and utter shock to any body's system, but it is a double blow to Giuliana because she has been trying to get pregnant for quite a while now.

Turns out, the failure of her first two IVF treatments may have saved her life.  And, she was more than happy to admit to Ann Curry, on the "Today" show, that God's hands were all over this.

In a nutshell, Giuliana acknowledged that, had her first pregnancy taken, a pregnancy which lasted eight weeks after the second IVF treatment, she likely would have ended up on much sicker with breast cancer.

Had she given up on trying getting pregnant again or started down the road to adoption, she and Bill wouldn't have traveled to Colorado to a world-renowned IVF specialist, who insisted she have a mammogram.  Actually, he refused to even TRY to get her pregnant until the mammogram results were in his hands, because he knew pregnancy hormones increase the growth of cancer.  This came as a real surprise to Giuliana;  no other doctor had ever even mentioned this concern.   

And, while she initially bucked his suggestion with the statement "I'm only 36!  I wasn't going to have my first mammogram until I'm 40", she wanted the chance for a baby badly enough that she agreed.  She admits, that one act, quite possibly saved her life;  the results showed a suspicious area, one she'll have surgery on later this week.  And, naturally, her doctor has put the IVF on hold, for the time being.

But, Giuliana is a fighter.  She already has her eye set on the prize of a pregnancy, post-surgery and post-cancer.  She is urging women everywhere to get to their doctor if they think ANYTHING might be wrong.* 

Just this week I read a statement that mimics exactly what is going on in Giuliana's life:  Often God asks us to be obedient without telling us WHY.

And, generally, when we look back and finally understand the why?  It's amazing to put the puzzle pieces together and see how brilliant God's plan was all along.  And to realize that no human being, even the smartest in the world, could have possibly orchestrated something so amazing.

Two failed IVF procedures + one miscarriage + hope + an insistent doctor + a mammogram + cancer?  What did that equal for Giuliana Rancic?

God's hand prints.  All over her life.

Blessings on her as she travels this road to recovery and parent hood. 

*From MommaJ:  and, by all means, do your monthly breast exams and get that baseline mammogram at 40!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alone Time

Given three hours, on a Friday night, with no kids OR husband, what would you do?  That was the quandary sitting in front of me tonight.

And, at first, I tried to do something cool, memorable, really fun, that I couldn't do with kids in tow.  Or that Mike wouldn't like. But, apparently, I've lost my touch for finding the ultra-awesome, last minute hookup in Dallas.  Also, I couldn't think of a single friend in my life who could just drop everything and hang with me. 

And, honestly, that made me feel a bit old and out-of-touch.

So, instead, I dropped the boys off for fun time at church a tad late and stayed a bit to talk with a couple of friends.  Good conversation about little-to-nothing, with no rush.  That was accomplishment number one.

I determined that the gas tank needed refilling for the weekend football games and church, so I headed to Costco.  Filled up under $3.15/gallon, thanking the Lord for the lower gas prices.  Adventure number two.  Check.

Then I made a slow drive to the grocery store.  I tarried to take in the shops along the way, the ones I normally zoom by, and noted that a bunch of new restaurants have opened around us that we've yet to try. Made a mental note to pick one for our Tuesday lunch date.  A fine way to finish number three.

Upon arriving at the grocery, the fourth item on my NOT-TO-DO line-up*, I realized my checklist was at home.  "Apparently, I was REALLY not meant to do much at all tonight", I noted.  The Starbucks across the intersection was calling my name and, as I was in possession of a gift card, that became stop five on my journey.

With caramel apple cider and blueberry pound cake in hand, I went back to the car, determining that I had just enough time to watch I am Legend for the zillionth time before everyone arrived home at 9:30pm.

What is so interesting about this seemingly boring list of things is that I thoroughly enjoyed the steps.  What started as an almost-pity-party morphed into a night I wasn't rushed, I had no agenda, and I didn't lament for a companion.  I was just happy BEING.

I think this is what is missing in most of our lives, this just being;  existing, sometimes, with no real purpose and no real list of things to accomplish.  Just going where the wind blows, window shopping for nothing in particular and embracing the crisp air as it ushers in a new season.

Oh.  And ending it all with Will Smith and zombies.

BLISS, I tell you.  PURE BLISS.

I love it when a blank canvas becomes a brilliant work of art.  Or, in my case, how a space of time that could have been occupied by a bunch of fluff became a meaningful respite from life.

Thank you, Lord.

*I intentionally didn't schedule anything after I determined that all the movies I wanted to see were in that funny zone between theater and Redbox.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Wisdom of Michael J. Fox

"You know, there's a rule in acting called "Don't play the result."  If you have a character who's going to end up in a certain place, don't play that until you get there.  Play each scene and each beat as it comes.  And that's what you do in your life:  You don't play the result.  So, you get diagnosed with Parkinson's, and you can play the result.  You can go right to, "Oh, I'm sick."  It took me seven years to figure out that I'm not at the result."--Michael J. Fox, in Good Housekeeping magazine, June 2011

I fell head-over with Michael J. Fox when he played Alex P. Keaton in "Family Ties", circa 1982.   I'm not sure if it was his conservative, Wall Street Journal leanings or his adorable face and way of dressing, but something in me wanted Alex to win.

Fast forward twenty-five years and Mr. Fox is now fifty (yes, FIFTY*) years old.  He is married to the same woman who played his first girlfriend in "Family Ties" and has produced a healthy number of kiddos.  Seems Alex's character rubbed off on Michael (or vice versa?!)

All that introduction to get to this point:  Life, according to his interview in Good Housekeeping, couldn't be much better, unless his children never grew up.  His Parkinson's has been a blessing in disguise.  He continues to work when scriptwriters see fit to create a character with a neurologic disorder, which explains aways the tics that come with advancing Parkinson's.

But, Michael refuses to let a disease define him.  I love his quote because it embodies the attitude we should all have in this life. 

Some of us are playing the result, looking backward over our shoulders for our entire lives, using all the negatives that others have decided "define" us. 

Some of us act like we have one foot in the grave and have forgotten we still have a pulse.

Some of us act like there is a destiny, based on our education or our family of origin, that is pulling us toward it and we have no power to walk a different path.

Some of us act like the latest bad news is the final say.

In short:  many of us have completely forgotten how to live in Christ.

We've forgotten that forgiveness and grace define us, not this world, our parents, our job, or a diagnosis. 

We've lost touch with the fact that to live IS Christ.  We'll know no greater joy than to be called home by Him, in His time.  But, until that moment, we are to live to the fullest for Him. 

We've forgotten that every day is fresh and new.  Walking with Christ requires a desire to do so, to crack open the Bible and read the Word and decide we are not worthy and want Christ's forgiveness.  Our destiny is defined by the small steps we take each day, either toward or away from Him.

We've forgotten that this stay on planet Earth is very, very temporary;  that we are but a breath in the scope of the universe.  The bad news we hear today will be a faint memory in the totality of our story.  And, often, when the chips are down, we find our best selves turned toward Christ's loving embrace.

Living involves loving.  And the One who loves us more than we love ourselves doesn't play the result with our lives. He allows us to decide if today we will focus on the here and now or get caught up in the "what has been" or the "what will be".  In fact, He delights in watching our stories unfold, through all the tears and laughter and heartache of this thing called life.

Let's face it:  if a man with advancing Parkinson's can decide to live life to the fullest up until his last breath, you can make that same choice from where you sit.

Will you?

*He's kind of timeless, like Dick Clark.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thy Word

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.--Psalm 119:105*

Every Friday morning, I have the privilege of praying with a group of dedicated women at one of our boy's schools.  I do my level best not to miss this blessing because I truly love these gals and they are such an encouragement to me.

One of the members is the most amazing Southern women you'd like to ever meet.  I do a wicked good imitation of the way she talks because I feel so proper when I throw on that accent and talk at a pace that is reminiscent of a tall, mint julep being enjoyed on a fan-cooled front porch in the middle of a heat wave.  It's thick, slow, and purposeful talking.  And her prayers?  Straight from the mouth of God.

Today, she reminded us of this wonderful verse from Psalm 119.  It reminds me why persistence in reading the Bible is so important:  if I am able to stay in the word, it provides a means for me to see what is coming;  I won't trip when I can see obstacles in my path.  When I am aware of what God has said, I can challenge ideas that don't seem right, which keeps me from erring.

But, what my friend said that I just loved was that God gives us light ahead of ourselves to protect us.  We can see into the immediate future, but not so far out that we should worry.  He doesn't illuminate the past, what is behind, but only what goes ahead of us.  And, if He is pushing us to use His word to look ahead, shouldn't we?  

What a beautiful reminder on this crisp, sunny Fall morn!

*If you don't know the Amy Grant song based on this verse, you haven't been blessed today!  Just click on her name...the video sound takes 16 seconds to load, so be slightly patient.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hobo Pop Tarts

Yes, whoever named these things is obviously in the 60+ demographic because the term "hobo" went out of style when "homeless" became the new-fangled way of referring to those on our streets.

But, honestly, I don't care what terminology is associated with this treat because it's fantastically easy and over the top yummy.  And, because they are considered pop tarts, they are free-game for the morning.  Or a last minute meal that begins with the thought "What am I going to make for dinner tonight?"

And, that is exactly what happened Wednesday night in this house.  My default meal is always breakfast.  And, if I asked the kids what they want for dinner on any given day of the year, including February 29th during a leap year, they'd quickly shout "BREAKFAST!"

Breakfast for dinner always tastes better to me.  Maybe it's because I have time to mess up the kitchen with more complex recipes or I feel like compelled to put three or four things on every body's plate so the meal automatically includes breakfast meat, eggs, fruit and something gooey.  Whatever the reason, Hobo Pop Tarts ended up being item number one last night.

The recipe is so simple you'll probably faint, so brace yourself:

1 store-bought pie crust
Jelly of your choice (I would recommend a thick jelly)

Roll the dough out flat on a cookie sheet and score it with a knife in squares.  Bake until almost done (as directed on the packaging.)  Spread with jelly or preserves.  Bake three more minutes.  Put two of the squares together to make a homemade toaster pastry.

Now, because we are riddled with allergies, I had to make my own pie crust.  No big.  Got a rockin' recipe for that.  A fool-proof recipe because, with pie crusts, I am a big goof-ball, prone to over blending, over rolling, and other kitchen blunders that render perfectly good crusts unusable.

1 cup margarine of butter (I use 1/2 cup soy-free Earth Balance spread and 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)
2 1/3 cups light spelt flour
2/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very cold water (possibly divided)

Mix together flour and salt.
Cut in margarine with pastry blender*
Add just enough water for dough to hold together (generally about 1/2 of the 1/3 cup)

Unlike most pie crust recipes, you can be generous with the flour you spread on the counter to roll out this dough.  It won't get tough.

I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, rolled out the dough, cut it into rectangular pieces and put it in the oven for 9 minutes.  Once out of the oven, I used a regular spoon to carefully add jelly to the pieces, being careful not to get too close to the edges (the jelly will spill over and burn on the baking sheet--did this.  Big smoke.  Not good.)  Then, I popped those bad boys back in for 3 more minutes, flipped the rectangles one on top of the other, and served them.

They were good hot, they were good cold, they were added to the list of things "MOM?  Can you make these EVERY DAY?"*

Because my recipe for crust only makes one, I was able to get seven pop tarts out of it.  I would definitely consider making a double recipe next time and trying to sneak the extras into the fridge, all Mission Impossible like.

My next adventure?  A take on this recipe for Hot Pockets...adding cooked eggs mixed with bacon or ham to the middle of two pieces of dough and baking for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees.

I'm not sure my heart can handle this much goodness in one week, so stay tuned...this may be a November expedition.

Now go have some fun in the kitchen by getting your hobo on!

*If you don't own a pastry blender, spend $5 at Walmart and get one.  They are worth their weight and keep you from trying to use two knives.  Trust me:  much, much easier.

**Sure.  If you guys want to have heart attacks by the time you are twenty.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Ode to Cleaning

Oh cleaning.  How do I loathe thee?  Let me count the ways.
I loathe thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when smelling Clorox bleach
for the purpose of creating a clean toilet bowl.
I loathe thee to the level of everyday's
second dishwasher load, by sun-light and candle-light.
I loathe thee freely, as another boy's dirty socks again miss the laundry basket.
I loathe thee freely, as those same boys are turned from my praise.
I loathe thee with a passion put to use
when I find myself, again, flushing doo-dee after somebody forgot.
I loathe thee with loathing I never seem to lose.
NEVER!  I say--I loathe thee with my breath,
frowns, tears, all my life--and, if God choose,

I shall but loathe thee right 'til my death.

With sincerest apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and any of her descendants, on this cleaning day, October twelfth, year of our LORD, two thousand and eleven.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Glimpses

When you have a twelve year old son in the house, life sometimes seems to be a 90mph roller coaster ride.  In the dark.  With blaring music intended to deafen you by the time you hit fifty.

Some days we are on the UP side of life, laughing and giggling and loving being alive.  Then we are on the DOWN side of things, crying and griping and screaming about how life isn't really fair.  From moment to moment, you really have no idea where the car is on the tracks, you just know you better hold on for all you are worth, lest you get a wicked bad whiplash.

It's kind of like living with me on a monthly basis.  But, without the period.

When things are good, they are often hyper good these days.  Such was an event that took place this week, providing more proof that this parenting thing, whiplash and all, is worth it.

Last night, Nickels got in the car with Mike and said he wanted to tell him something but he was scared to share it.  Of course, Mike was thinking "What did he do at the church?  Did he throw a cherry bomb down the toilet?  Did he kiss a girl in the back hallway?  Did he admit MommaJ and I lose our temper about once a day?" 


Thankfully, with Nickels, if you tell him he can think about it and tell you when he is good and ready, that ready comes within the next five or so seconds.

Honestly, this is a great trait because it lends itself to a short, patient wait, with an information dump as a reward.  And, often, those information dumps are straight from the heart about matters of the heart.  Things like loving Jesus or having a crush or still feeling sad thinking about Grandma Joyce being gone.

Mike and I have learned to act nonchalant in these situations, even though our hearts about pound out of our chests and we feel like we could spew any moment. 

"Dad?  I'm ready to follow you."

I think Mike about had a wreck.  "What is in the Kool-Aid at the church?", he was wondering.

Well, we know what's in the water.  Or, probably more specifically, what's in the spirit.  The Holy Spirit is working through a program for sixth graders that emphasizes the verse from 1 Timothy 4:12:  "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

This program started Sunday night and the whole journey to the point of this comment was Spirit filled.

First, the introductory letter arrived.  I was less than optimistic that we could make it work because 1T412, as it is called, occurred at the same time as a Bible study at our house and put another activity on Nickel's long extracurricular to-do list.

But, Nickels was undeterred.  He wanted to go.  And timing, the homework piece, and the fact that he'd have activities five night a week didn't matter.  So, he attended the introductory evening.  And was hooked from the get go.

This "I'm ready" revelation occurred after session number one, where our oft ADD-riddled son was the lone sixth-grader taking notes and who obeyed Mike when he asked Nickels to stay away from the sodas and most of the chips.*

So, when they arrived home and Mike shared Nickel's revelation, I only had one question:  "Does this obedience include ME?"  Nickels got a "GEEZ MOM" look on his face, leaned into me and said "yes" with a big smile.

As we drove to a movie Monday afternoon, a Christian song we all knew came on the radio.  I couldn't help but think about the path all three of the boys are going down as we were singing our hearts out to the same God, a Savior who is calling us each to our own special place in His kingdom.   

I honestly know no greater joy than watching my children follow the lead of Mike and I into the things of God.  There are no grades or honors or trophies that trump knowing our boys are headed down the right path, even when that path is a bit rocky or uncertain or even seemingly impossible at times.

On the days that are less than stellar, I'm going to be grateful that I have a gracious, loving Father who moved me beyond plastic baby dolls to the real thing.  A God who is worthy of being followed and trusted and loved. I'm going to remember that He, too, is a parent and has walked a far rockier path than I ever will. 

For now, though, the sweet words that echo in my mind and heart and will forever be etched there are "I am ready to follow."

Me, too, Nickels.  Me, too.

*Darn allergies. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Generation Gap

There are just sometimes that what I grew up knowing as second nature is not even on my kid's radar screens. 

They'll never know the distinct pleasure of changing the channel on the black and white TV with a KNOB, for example.

And that gap in knowledge came into strong play this morning when Hooman's friend arrived on the scene.  He had clearly grown a foot since the last time I saw him and I said "My goodness friend!  You sure have grown!  You must be eating your Wheaties."

Wheaties.  With about three tablespoons of sugar and Bruce Jenner on the box is stuff of legend in my mind.  It still is The Breakfast of Champions.  It just never dawned on me that my kids hadn't ever, not once, had a box of this cereal.

It wasn't until I heard Hooman apologizing profusely to his friend and he said "Wienies?  Why would she think you were eating THOSE?"*, I understood.

I'm OLD.  That is an apt description, I think.

*At least they weren't snickering at the concept.  I guess that comes in their teen years?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


You know those times when you see glimpses of success as a parent?  They're like tiny love notes from God, sent through the mouths or actions of your children, reminding you YOU REALLY ARE ALL THAT.*  AND MORE.

Take, for instance, last night, at 3:31a.m., when The Babe padded into our room declaring the cat had gotten sick in his bed.

I was in a good sleep.  We're talking super deep REM.  So, at first, I was confused by where I was.  Then I wondered "Why is it so dang dark in here?"  I guess I figured, if I was hearing the voice of one of my sons, that there should be a bit of light in the room.  Then, I realized "SLEEP MASK."**

Once that was off, I saw the time, my brain clicked 'on', and I sat up in bed. Then I had the strange presence of mind to wonder "Did the cat get sick in The Babe's bed or in the cat's bed?"*** followed closely by the thought "If it's the cat's bed, I'm telling The Babe to chuck it on the ground and I'll deal with it in the morning." Yeah, I get negative parenting points for that thought.

That's when my youngest, who is getting big, looked me straight in the eye and said "I'm so glad you are my Mommy and Daddy is my Daddy." 

I could have run a marathon to Chicago wearing ankle weights after that comment.  I gave him a much too tight hug, forgot the insane hour and the fact that the cat didn't have the courtesy to yak on the floor or in his OWN bed, and sprang into action.  In that moment, I was SuperMom, coming to the rescue of my adoring son.

It really doesn't take much, does it?  And, if that's all it takes for a Mom to feel superhuman, can you imagine what it feels like for our children when we speak kind words to them?

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."  Proverbs 16:24

*Parent, teacher, cook, maid, nurse, worker bee, taxi driver, budget-keeper, etc.

**Still getting used to it.  Realized my sleep was being disturbed by the little light on our alarm pad.  Most people would roll over at forget about it.  But me?  I think there is vampire in the family tree somewhere.

***Yes, the cat is spoiled.  But, if it makes any difference in your opinion of me having a spoiled cat:  the bed came from Walmart.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do It Anyway

The following is widely credited to Mother Teresa as it was found, written on the wall, in her home for children in Calcutta.  It certainly reads like something she would have penned.

Drink this in slowly.  Each line could be a post in itself...and it might end up that way.  But, we'll start with the whole and see where this goes.

Do It Anyway
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;  Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;  Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;  Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;  Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;  Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;  Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough;  Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;  it was never between you and them anyway.


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Race of Motherhood

Dear Fellow Moms:
Yes, you are making a difference.

Those diapers you are changing will eventually be a memory in your mind.  Soon you'll be teaching your sweetums to pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty.  And, after sitting in pee-pee for the thousandth time or having to flush the results of their potty training until you are blue in the face, you'll conclude you haven't made a dent in their minds about the bathroom.

Yet one, glorious day you'll sit down on a dry toilet that has clear water beneath it and you'll know you made an impact.

Those meals that you lovingly provide, even when you are forcing broccoli for the fifteenth time in two months, aren't going to waste.  Over the years your little one is going to go through hunger strikes and growth spurts and times where all they'll eat is ketchup and chicken nuggets.  It's all part of the game they like to play with food called "CONTROL".

Keep plugging along, putting good food in front of them, and someday they'll surprise you by choosing carrots as their after school snack, right after they've wiped out three bags of chips.

Those problems they are having at school aren't going to be wasted.  You are going to go through teachers your child loves and teachers you'll have to bite your tongue not to scream at.  There will be tears and anger over friendships come and gone and come again.  Your child will display flashes of genius and moments of stupidity, times of intense organization and times when they are running late for class, spilling papers out of their backpack as they go.

It's all part of the process of learning to live life.

So, pray over them every single day.  Pray for the blessing of wisdom, a desire to do their best according to their abilities, and the gift of knowing and pursuing the gifts that God has blessed them with.

Pray for their teachers or caregivers, especially if you or your child don't feel connected to them.  Pray that everyone would see the best in the rest.  Pray that your child would clearly understand what they are being taught.

Pray for open lines of communication.  Pray that issues with grades or behavior be brought to your attention early, so you can intervene and help.  Pray that you would be open to feedback and that it would be given in a loving way.

Pray for yourself and your spouse, that you would be aware of learning difficulties.  Pray for wisdom in this arena, specific answers to problems, and patience and persistence to get to the bottom of issues in God's great timing.  And truly listen to what He says, instead of chasing the winds of the earth and the "maybe this will help"s.

Above all, give yourself grace.  You ARE doing a good job.  Sure, you can't see the impact you are having most days, but the effects will be evident someday.

It is a race, my friend, but not a competition against any other Mom.  It's a slow, steady pace.  Take in the scenery, instead of running like crazy trying to be the best.  Stop for that water break and talk to the people who are running with you.  You'll find out everyone is tired of the run and they are glad to hear other people feel the same way.

There will be moments you'll stumble and people will be sure to point them out.  Ignore their criticism.  This isn't their race.  Pray to God that He would give you the grace to stand back up and keep running, even when the critics are still echoing in your ear.

There will be moments you have a runner's high and realize you ARE equipped to do this.  Thank God in those times and ask Him for more glimpses of how well He has made you ready to do this terribly difficult, rewarding job.

There will be moments when you want to quit.  In those moments, pray for strength and patience and persistence.  The race may seem awfully long, but it will be over in the blink of an eye.  Run the best race you can possibly muster.

Keep a record of the good times.  Journal the wonderful things your kids do, say, and learn.  Look back on what you've written during those times that aren't so hot.

Forget the bad stuff or, better yet, confess it, learn from it, and move on.  Life with your kids is too short to waste time thinking you aren't adequate.

Run this race called "Motherhood" with Christ at the forefront of your mind.  You are preparing your child for HIM.  That is an equally great responsibility and privilege.  And you ARE up to the task...He made you that way.

Go.  Run.  Enjoy the time you've been given with those little feet keeping pace with your life's rhythm.

Pray as you go.  Learn as you pray.  Confess the bad and remember the good.

Whatever phase you are in, it won't last forever.  Thank God for even that, as you wipe the tears from your eyes out of frustration for where you currently are or out of sadness that this wonderful phase in your child's life is coming to a close.

Above all, thank Him for the incomparable gift of being called "Mom".

Running Right Beside you (and breathing rather hard),

"...Her children arise and call her blessed...."  Proverbs 31:28a

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stupid Computers

It looks like I have a nice little infection on my computer and/or blog spot.  This condition creates these weird links to this obnoxious website and colors stuff orange.  NOT my color.

And, it totally ruined my last post with these adorable dog costumes, so I'm a bit miffed.  Especially about the orange.

I warned my computer not to mess around with Mike's laptop because I heard he really got around.*  But, did she listen?  NOOOOOO.

You probably guessed that my computer has turned three because we all know that computers age five years for every year we own them**, which squarely makes her a teenager.  And a Justin Bieber freakazoid.  And prone to messing around with laptops.

So, until I get his little condition remedied, I am grounding this here blog spot.  I hate for you to be exposed to her infection.  It is grossness, so don't go near the orange, if you know what's good for ya.

*Har har.

**Or, maybe I made that up.  Whatever.