Thursday, April 26, 2012


When you have a child who is "behind grade level" or "not performing to his best ability" or "slightly delayed", there is this little bit of your soul that cries out "WHY me?  WHY him?"

I remember sitting in the car when I drove to Shelton to drop off Hooman's paperwork and finish the enrollment process.  I cried like a baby as I listened to Casting Crowns speak the truth to me

When I first listened to that song, I identified so strongly with my own worries:  I feared my little boy was facing an insurmountable task.  I heard the devils' voice reminding me of my past failure, my inability to conquer certain issues (if I couldn't even help myself, how could I help my son?)  I worried that, regardless of what school worked with my boy, that he would never be able to overcome his disabilities.

Over the course of the next year, whenever this song would play on the radio, I would turn it up as high as I could without blowing out the speakers.  I memorized the words.  I practically yelled "DO NOT BE AFRAID" as I tried to drown out the worry and fear.

I still had my moments of identifying with the perceived mountains.  And I still cried every time the song would come on.  But, I never turned it off.  And, slowly but surely, I started to cry not because of my fear,  but because I started to see God standing with me, throwing rocks at the giant and calming waves and mounting me up on eagle's wings above the problems.

And, you know what?  Hoo reads today.  He no longer reverses his letters.  He isn't going to be a "write your composition one time and be done" kid like I was, but he has spell check and he'll know how to use it.

Sure, he doesn't read for pleasure.  And he will be the first to let you know he "hates" reading.  But, he can do it.  And while I think you'd have to tickle him to the point of peeing his pants, in his weakness he would even admit he is good at it.  

We don't like our children to lag behind in anything.  We want them to be coordinated in kindergarten, when they start playing kickball on the field outside the school so they aren't the last picked.  We want them to start puberty exactly when 50% of the class is going through it so they don't have a beard when everyone else still sounds like they just sucked helium.  We want them to graduate from college in about four years, give or take a year of figuring out their best career path.

But, have you noticed that God doesn't do things on our time lines?  He has plans for each of us...“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11)...that He ordained well before we were even a whisper. 

Today, focus on that one thing that gives you hope, even in the midst of your hopelessness.  Maybe it is a Bible verse or a card of encouragement that someone sent you or a quote that you read.  Maybe it is even a song.

But, find that thing and pin it on your heart.  Memorize it.  Think back on it often.

God's timing will become evident in His time.  And, eventually, you, like me, will be able to look back on this period of growth, change, grieving, pain, suffering, and/or hurt and know that God had you right where He needed and wanted you the whole time.

Trust.  Obey.  Follow.

DO NOT FEAR....(A direct quote from God.  Believe it.)

Friday, April 20, 2012


For a ten-year-old, Hooman sure has the swagger of a twelve-year-old.  And, in kids years, that can only be described as "epic".

I swear, if one more girl tells him he is cute and looks like Justin Bieber, I'm going to collectively slap the entire population of female tweens.  Girls?  He needs that like he needs a bowl of sugar for breakfast.

But, for all that puffed-up swagger, he's still a sentimental Momma's boy.

That was the sound of my heart breaking as I wrote that sentence.  Because my sweet boy gets on a bus in two minutes and is heading out for his fourth-grade trip to Sea World today.  And, I'm not sure who is going to miss the other more.

I think both of us worked hard to hold back tears and replace them with smiles as we hugged and kissed and said our goodbyes on three separate occasions this morning.

The last goodbye was the one I'll always remember, though.  It was all toothy grin and smiles and looking up at me, from his position just under my armpit.  He's still that size, tucked under his Momma's wing, safe for the moment that he is there.

But I know, in the next few months, my armpit will no longer hover over his shoulders as he starts that forward march to puberty, growth spurts and feeding frenzies, and arrives at a place where his stinky smells will be described as "Good golly!  What is THAT?"

And, when he said "I'll miss you", I knew.  Deep down to the core of me, I knew that he wasn't saying that just to stroke my ego or make me feel good or because it is what you say when you are leaving.  He meant it.  And, when I responded in kind, I meant it, too.

I guess I'm waxing eloquent on what it is going to be like when the boys move on to bigger things, like college or the first day on their first job or their honeymoon.  After all, this week we attended a meeting for parents of incoming seventh graders.  I wanted to stand up and scream "I'm sorry.  Who sped up time?  My oldest is supposed to be about six right now!  Which one of you thinks he is old enough for Junior High?"

I'm grateful that the next couple of days and this weekend are ripe with activity for me.  Nickels, The Babe and I will board a plane tomorrow morning, bound for Michigan, to spend time with Mom's side of the family and attend my Goddaughter's baptism and one-year birthday party.  The flurry of activity leading up to us boarding that 6:15am flight is going to be a huge distraction all day.

But, I think in the end, distractions withstanding, I am still standing on the edge of the cusp of change.  My heart feels it.  Even though I know it is my chosen job to work myself out of a job as my boys grow and mature, it is still hard.  For every "Hurrah!  The boy can buckle his own seat belt now!" there is a "Why was I the last to know?"

This is the process.  Working yourself to the bone and hoping you do a good enough job that your kids want to hang out with you when they are older and there are much better, entertaining, exciting things in the world to occupy their time.  But, instead, they'd rather hang with good old Mom and Dad.

Here's to the future.  To change.  To growth.  To opportunity.

And to not missing a single goodbye in the process.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Those free apps on the new ITouch?  Came to $24.83.  Which sweet boy doesn't have.  And Momma refuses to cover.

Oh how I have a bittersweet relationship with technology.  My new smart phone (thank you, I've already been welcomed into the 2000s) is quite possibly the coolest thing since sliced bread.  BUT, it is also a clanging gong, the likes of which the Bible knew well before Steve Jobs was even a flicker in his great-great-great-great Granpappy's mind.

I hate, yet love, that people have instant access to me.  It causes me, at times, to wonder if people know I know they called but I can't get to them.  Which, sometimes, makes me apologize for not being more accessible when I finally DO find the time to call or text or message back.  And, I don't think that is healthy for me or anyone else.

There was a day, not so long ago, where you would have to run a mile to have access to the farmer in the field.  Where you didn't know where your kids were a majority of the day, until they showed up for dinner.  A time when it was exciting to dial long-distance and chat until the timer went off and you had to hang up because the budget depended on it.

Gone are those days.  The farmer is in constant contact via computers in his tractor and cell phone.  Every kid we know, starting at about age 8, has access to a cell phone, either his or someone he knows, even though our children are never left anywhere that security isn't pretty tight.  And long-distance is just no big deal given that we have unlimited plans for just about anywhere on planet Earth.

All this makes me think about origins.  More specifically, is this something God really wants for all of us or is this another of the Devil's schemes?  Certainly, technology, such as the computer I am typing this on, can be used for kingdom purposes.  But, it can also be used for plenty of evil.

Is all our distraction with technology keeping us from developing relationships with one another?  Is it making our voices louder but our opinions shallower because we can remain relatively anonymous in our diatribes?  Are we spending precious little time at the feet of God, in His word, and in prayer, all in the name of latest and greatest technological advances that make life "easier and better"?

It certainly seems our attention spans have become shorter because the next generation of anything that has circuitry is always right around the corner.  The next phone, app, gaming system.  We don't seem to stay satisfied with last year's model once this year's has hit the market.  And, in some cases, we will stop at almost nothing to get what we want.

Something to ponder.

It isn't surprising to me, with this new generation of gadgetry, that there are growing pains for those of us in our forties.  I just wonder what growing pains our kids will endure.

Will they enjoy telephone circuitry implanted in ear canals and wish for a time when they actually had to pick up a phone and place in to their ear? 

Will they wear specialized cornea implants that allow access to the Internet 24/7?

Where will this all stop?  And, will we have the common sense to say "enough is enough"?

I guess, for me, this is all a little Orwellian.  I pine for the days when I would tie up the phone talking to my boyfriend for hours on end and create a busy signal.  And for unfettered days on my bike, hopping from friends houses like a grasshopper with no real purpose other than just to be with other kids. 

But, for now, I have to figure out how to further block access so no more of those free apps manage to make it onto my credit card bill.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Morning!

I was so blessed by my sista-friend, Mandisa, this morning that I had to share.

Turn up the volume in a place where your funky bootah can get down because this is guaranteed to make you wanna MOVE!  

Here are the lyrics.  They belong to Mandisa and Sparrow Records, not me.  Just so you know....

Wave away my yesterday
Cause I'm leaving it behind me.
Hello sunshine, come what may.
I feel something new inside me.
I hear the birds singing
Now my alarm's ringing
Get up, get up, hey!

It's a good morning!
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning,
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning,
You give me strength,
You give me just what I need
And I can feel the hope that's rising in me.
It's a good morning

Slow down, breathe in,
Don't move ahead
I'm just living in this moment
I've got my arms raised, un-phased
Jump out of bed
Gotta get this party going
I went to bed dreaming,
You woke me up singing
Get up, get up, hey!

It's a good morning!
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning,
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning,
You give me strength,
you give me just what I need
And I can feel the hope that's rising up in me.
It's a good morning

Now I'm smiling, and I'm kissing all my worries goodbye
Got the feeling, if I spread my wings I might even fly
You are my truth, my way
Give me the strength to say
Get up, get up, get up
Cause it's a good morning, hey

Mr. Mac to the mic

[Toby Mac]
Hey, top of the morning to you 'disa
You smoothie, me ice cold pizza
Cafe au lait, latte dah
You do the zumba, but I do not
Give me like half a marathon,
I'll give you the gospel of St. John.
Hits me like a wake-up bomb
Cuz' we both know that His mercy flows,
In the morning.

Wake up to a brand new day
This morning,
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning,
You give me strength,
you give me just what I need
I can feel the hope that's rising up in me.
It's a good morning
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning,
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning,
You give me strength you give me just what I need
I can feel the hope that's rising up in me.
It's a good morning

[Toby Mac]
Top of the morning to you 'disa
Hey, top of the morning to you girl
To-to-top of the morning to you 'disa
Morning little Miss Sunshine.
Man, you morning people.
No, I'm serious.

Leave Hillary Alone

I am going to do the unthinkable today
1)  I'm going to defend a (gulp) Democrat
2)  I'm going to defend a fellow woman, risking sounding like a (gulp) feminist

Clearly this diet is having some undo effect on my brain.  But, I was more than miffed when I saw the headline that read "Hillary Clinton parties in Colombia" and clicked to find out that GASP Hillary was DANCING and drinking beer out of a bottle.

Lord, have MERCY!  What is this cotton-pickin' world coming to?

Since when can't you travel on business and not cut loose with your fellow co-workers for a few minutes?  I mean, let's give it to Hillary:  She is married to a philanderer.  She has a tough job, one that would cave most big-wig executives in thirty minutes flat.  And, probably most importantly, she isn't the Queen Mum.

I don't expect Hillary to do anything in any particular way.  If she likes her beer out of a bottle, so be it.  If she likes to get funky on the dance floor, great.  She has every right to cut loose every once in a while.  As long as she isn't naked on the tables, I'm cool.

And, when did America's journalists become such fuddy-duddies?  Or was this a really, really, really slow day in journalism?  Truly, if the camera lens had been turned the other way, I'm betting someone on the other side, who was also within spitting distance of the bar serving drinks, probably could have had their picture taken tipping a glass or two as well.

Loosen up, people.  You didn't catch Hillary doing blow, for cripes sake.

Just spit-ballin' it here, but maybe you would have been better off following Bill while Hillary was away.....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One of THOSE

Today was day number five bazillion on my diet, according to the devil in my head.

If you've ever attempted to lose a few pounds, you understand where I'm at today.  It's not a happy place because it can lead to a feeding frenzy that would put a pod of sharks to shame;  sharks that just discovered a boat dumping a fifty ton bucket of chum in the water.

Yes, it would look like that, complete with gnashing of teeth, indiscriminate chowing down, and, in the end, nothing edible (or inedible) left standing.  But, the blood would be replaced with carbs loaded with sugar, baked in delicious treats of all variety.

Considering where my head was, I managed to get out of the day pretty well unscathed.  I fell off my "sugar on Sundays" wagon by finally eating the six Brach's candies that were in the leftover Easter candy bag.  I came precariously close to downing too many chips, ordering onion rings and french fries, and driving to the store and buying the gallon of ice cream I found myself craving like crazy for about twenty minutes.

Amazingly I move into Tuesday, the day before I weigh in and the one day of the week I have scheduled for the gym, only eleven points down in my weekly count.  Not great, in fact the worst I've come into a Tuesday since I started this endeavor, but certainly not tanked.

Tanked would have been downing that gallon of Blue Bell.  Or baking a cake but eating all the batter before I could bake it.  Or eating raw sugar out of the bag.

When I think of it that way?  I feel so much better about my willpower on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Washcloth

I have no idea where this originated, but my Aunt passed it along to me and I thought it was too funny not to share.

So, to the poor person who inspired this?  Thanks for one of the best laughs I've had in a while.

I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am. I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45am. The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare.

As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort. So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I was at least presentable. I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment.

I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in. Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away. I was a little surprised when the doctor said, 'My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we? '

I didn't respond.

After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal...some shopping, cleaning, cooking.

After school, when my 6-year-old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, "Mommy, where's my washcloth?"

I told her to get another one from the cupboard.

She replied, “No”, I need the one that was here by the sink. It had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it.

Never going back to that doctor. Ever.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Do you have any idea how long you have to wait until your husband stops bugging you by asking questions such as "I don't think that's a RIPPER.  It's more an UPTIGHT" about the fart machine he is button pushing with absolute, unadulterated glee?

About 3 minutes. 

It helped that I was chewing toast as slowly as a cow chews cud.  Because that kept me from killing him with my words.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More Fun Than (and almost as expensive as) a Colonoscopy

Any good story has a corollary and a moral, so here's the painfully awful/awesome end to this one....

1a.  Unless you are Johnny Carson wearing your fortune teller's hat and have a teleprompter in front of your face with the exact answer to the question, you REALLY DON'T KNOW THAT YOUR WIFE WAS THE ONE WHO CAUSED THE PROBLEM.
Because, in fact, it wasn't me that created this mess, praise the Lord!  Sure, I came precariously close to stopping up the entire system by dumping half the contents of the fridge into the disposal, but that wasn't the issue after all.
I quote Donny The Plumber:  "Metal chips and junk".  Even the most creative of wives wouldn't throw THAT down the drain.

1b.  When you move into a new place and the inspector tells you there are "issues" and the seller's realtor starts getting testy and offers a "Home Warranty" in place of fixing the actual issue, faint.  That will draw attention away from the conversation and allow you to fain that "you never heard her say that" and that you would like a second opinion.
Ignore her eye rolling and proceed with the inspection.

2a.  If you aren't a plumber and you need a career, let me tell you that you can earn GOOD MONEY fixing all things that relate to pipes.

2b.  Because, when you are a plumber and you leave after five and a half hours and give the homeowners a return time the next day, the cost of your services is higher than a moderate couple's weekend vacation but less than the average mortgage payment.

3.  Cutting into walls is probably good therapy, if you are a plumber.
If you are a house owner?  It requires therapy before you make another expensive phone call to the company that will be paid to put up new sheet rock, tape, texture and paint.

And, it leaves the following unsightly damage:


4.  The moral of this story is GET YOUR FINANCIAL HOUSE IN ORDER.  Find yourself a little wiggle room in your budget and stash that money away in an EMERGENCY FUND.

Because, without one, your house could look like this for days on end, while you wait to collect the money to fix the issue*:

*I decided the better part of valor was to NOT wash dishes in the bathtub, which patently grossed me out when I really thought about doing it.  So, we've eaten out twice and had breakfast on disposable dishes, thereby adding a bit of sanity to the situation while expanding the bottom line cost of this project.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home Disrepair

There are few words that strike fear into my budgeting heart than "plumbing", "electrical" or "foundation".

Knock wood, we are only being assaulted by the first word at the moment.

Seems MommaJ doesn't exactly understand the intricacies of pipes.  Or the inability of an In*Sink*Erator to grind a week's worth of leftovers that were still leftover two weeks later.  Or that running said disposal over and over and over again could actually create worse problems, instead of fixing them.

All I know is that I'm staring at a kitchen with dishes from two days stacked on the counter and a dishwasher full, ready to be run.  Truly, after breakfast this morning, it would either be clean the dishes in the bathtub or run to the store to buy disposable stuff.  And, make an admission that even two bottles of GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK pipe cleaner just can't do the trick every time.

And you know, when the plumber tells you that the person who did the kitchen plumbing is an "idiot" and that our pipes broke HIS MACHINE, you hear the sounds of your children's college fund being drained.  At least, if I'm going to be writing a check with multiple zeroes, I'd like to have SOMETHING pretty to show for it. 

Our behind the scenes challenged house continues to rear its ugly head.  We knew we had car parts in the bathroom plumbing and we knew that the air stack in the kitchen might eventually give us trouble, but we didn't know the extent to which it would give us trouble.  Seems our former house owner used outdoor sprinkler parts to cobble together the plumbing.  And, they just don't move at the right angles to allow plumbing equipment to extract clogs.

So, when everything is said and done, we'll have:
One wall torn apart to expose the plumbing.
One new set of pipes that don't involve weird turns and can't be called "outdoor" anything.
One clog, which the plumber is in his second hour of unstopping, cleared.

Home ownership ain't the bed of roses it's made out to be, that's for sure.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Joy of OTHER PEOPLE'S kids

We have a particularly delicious kid in the neighborhood who could charm the pants of Prince Charming.  In fact, I think he may grow up to BE Prince Charming;  Heaven help all those little girls who won't snag him.

Sweet boy is just brimming with boy genes, climbing trees and jumping around helter-skelter and yelling for joy when appropriate.  For a kid his size and age, he says the most mature and hysterical things.  I don't think I've ever left his presence without another Sweet boy gem.  This past week was no exception.

See, The Babe got a new toy, courtesy of his long-term savings, and he wanted to show Sweet boy, his sister, and his oldest brother.  So, over to our house they came.  That's when things got interesting.

See, Doug dog is not particularly charmed by our Sweet boy.  For whatever reason, Doug sees him as a real threat.  And, when Sweet boy came running through the kitchen, Doug barked at him something fierce.

Since Sweet boy doesn't have a dog of his own, this came as a bit of a surprise.  He pulled his hands up to shoulder level and stopped dead in his tracks, looking at Doug, waiting to figure out what should come next.

And that's when it got funny.  Apparently, with one bark, Doug made his point, a point which was either:
"Dude.  Don't run in the house."
"Dude.  Howdy."
"Dude.  I just feel like controlling someone short."
and, point made, Doug was done.  He just stood there, looking at Sweet boy.

And then the quote of the week came out of Sweet boy's mouth, as his startled face looked down at Doug:

"DOG.  Bless you!"

I'm not sure if Sweet boy was trying to excuse a sneeze, startle Doug into a bark less mode, or just be his usual, cute self, but it worked!  Doug didn't say another thing to Sweet boy, and Sweet boy, blessing conveyed, turned and ran out of the kitchen to find the other kids.

I do love a boy who understands when a dog means business and when he should just pass along some of his cuteness and move on with life.

Once again, this is a reminder of what an amazing neighborhood God placed us in.  It seems, weekly, I am blessed by someones kindness, gentleness or forgiveness.  Or by something random that happens here.  Just when I think we've seen, heard, and witnessed it all, the blessings flow again.

Thank you, Lord, for a neighborhood community of believers who love and support one another.  And for precious Sweet boy and his amazing sense of timing and wonderful sayings and full-steam-ahead boyhood.  GOD.  Bless HIM!  Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


To you, I wish a blessed Easter.

And, by that, I don't mean that you have a wonderful dinner complete with ham and deviled eggs* and carrot cake, in the dining room on the good china, surrounded by dressed-to-the-nines family and friends.

There's more than a good party that I wish for you.

I don't mean that you enjoy watching your kids collect eggs from around the backyard, while you smile until your cheeks hurt, take way too many pictures, and realize you might burst our crying because these are times you wish you to store in your memory and watch over and over again like a good movie.

For sure, I wish Hallmark moments like that for you.  But, there's more.

I don't mean that the weather cooperates and your new outfit gets lots of compliments and the service is nice.  Even though, those would be wonderful wishes for all of us.

There's simply way much more to it than that.

The blessing involves work.  The work of surveying this past week and taking it in.  Breathing deeply the depth and width and enormity of what Christ did for you.

The blessing means, if you don't know the story leading up to this day, that you will take the time to learn it.  And share it with your family so they know there is an amazing journey full of small events that lead to the double crescendo of Christ's death and resurrection.

Mostly, I pray you inhale the meaning of Easter so very deeply that you are at the point of passing out in anguish and gratitude and humility.  That this, the highest most holy time of the year, would be so important to you in 2012 that you would feel it settle into your marrow.  And stick. 

I wish you the blessing of GETTING IT.  Once and for all.  That you would never blithely approach Easter week again.  That Easter would become your favorite holiday and knock Christmas and Thanksgiving out of contention because it becomes so personal, what Christ did for YOU.

Grab Easter and hug it until you ring all the meaning out of it.  Until you are drenched with sweat from effort.  Until you feel Christ sitting in your life reminding you that you were worth every step to the cross.

That is my Easter blessing on you.

*Oh, the lovely irony of eating deviled eggs on Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

All during Holy Week I've felt compelled to write about the events leading up to Easter.

And, wouldn't you know it?  This was one of the busiest weeks of the entire year!  Literally, Mike left town on business, Dallas became the tornado capital on Tuesday, I chaperoned a full-day play rehearsal on Wednesday, and Thursday we attended Grandparent's Day, including lunch afterward for nine guests, including cake for birthday boy, Grandpa Lee, who turned three, if you believe candles.

So, much too late, I found myself waking on Good Friday, wanting to get back the hours so I could properly prepare my heart for Sunday.

Spurred on by my darling neighbor Thursday night, who had brought up the subject of Easter in carpool that day and had asked some basic questions about Easter that neither of our sons could answer, we attended service on Good Friday.  And, on the way to church, we talked about all the events of Holy Week.

And, even though this week has been wrought with distractions, leading up to this week my heart had already purposefully steered the ship of the world view of Easter far off its normal course.

We didn't buy new outfits to wear to church, though that is a long-held tradition on my side of the family.  This year, we'll press what we have and look nice, just not "new" nice.

I'm not buying tons of candy.  I'm not spending gobs of money on Easter basket contents.  Instead, my kids will get some good, quiet time activities.  I will include scripture verses with each of the gifts, so they understand there is MEANING behind what they are receiving.

I've placed each of the kind Easter greetings we've received front-and-center, displaying them like Christmas cards.  This year, those greetings have so much more meaning to me than in years past.  Spurred on by them, I plan to add Easter cards to the list of important things I send every year to all the people who have blessed us through the year.  Truly, if there is a time to celebrate every year, isn't it Easter?

And, finally, I'm going to make sure to review Holy Week with the kids again.  They are too young to watch "The Passion of the Christ" but they need to understand, as best they can, the agony of our Lord and the importance of His gift.

Christ didn't take a fun walk in the park on the way to the cross.  It was a burden.  It was a sacrifice.  It has true MEANING.

Below, I've included a lesson I wrote on Holy Week.  There is more to it than what's below, but this is a good start for talking with your family about the events prior to and on Sunday.

(My task, from here, it is to piece together the weeks AFTER Easter, so my family can start to understand the important and miraculous events that occurred after Christ's resurrection.  Hopefully, Lord willing, I'll be able to share this with you in the days and weeks to come.)

Peace to you this Holy Saturday.  Though we await our Lord, we are blessed to know, in a few short hours, He will rise again.


A Summary of Holy (Easter) Week
(As remembered in the Anglican church)
Palm Sunday (last Sunday)
What happened that day?  Christ rode into Jerusalem.
How was Christ received?  The people welcomed him as a King, throwing palm fronds on the ground ahead of him.
What do we do in church in remembrance?  We are given palm crosses.
What happened that day?  Jesus went to the Temple and became angry with the money-changers who were there.
How did the people react?  The High Priests became very angry with him and started to plot against him.
What happened that day?  Jesus told the Parable of the Vineyard.
What does this story mean?  We are branches, all connected to Christ, who is the major vine connecting us all.  As long as we stay connected to Christ, we are doing His will and are connected to other Christians.
What happened that day?  Jesus spent quiet time with his twelve best friends, the Apostles.
Thursday (Maundy Thursday)
What happened that day?  1.  Jesus commanded the Apostles to love one another and ordered that they continue the tradition of the last supper (communion).
2.  Jesus was betrayed by Judas, who turned took the High Priests to the place where Jesus was staying for a few silver coins.
What do we do in church in remembrance?  We take communion and strip the altar afterward.  We also do twelve hours of prayer, from 8pm to 8am.
Friday (Good Friday)
What happened that day?  This is the day Christ died on the cross.
What do we do in church in remembrance?  We hold church services which focus on the last seven words of Christ before He died.
Saturday (Holy Saturday)
What happened that day?  Christ’s body was in the tomb and the Apostles were mourning his death.
What do we do in church in remembrance?  Our clergy is available for confessions of sin from members of the church.  This allows everyone to “cleanse” themselves of sin in preparation for Easter Day.
Sunday (Easter)
What happened that day?  Jesus was resurrected from the dead!
What does the church do in remembrance?  We celebrate Easter by flowering the cross, a symbol of our joy for the sacrifice Jesus made so our sins could be forgiven.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tornado Warning = Dieter's Godsend

I've FINALLY figured out how to lose weight with absolutely, positively no effort on my behalf:

Ingredient number one:  Right around lunch time, declare a massive storm is in the area, full of pea to grapefruit size hail, tornadoes, strong straight-line winds, and heavy rain.

Ingredient number two:  Have both kids schools declare that parents are at too much risk to come and pick up the kids.  Lock the schools down.

Ingredient number three:  Sound the tornado sirens.  Then do it again about every twenty minutes for a couple of hours.

Ingredient number four:  Have Mike firmly planted in New York.  In meetings.  Completely unaware of what it going on.

When you add those things together?  You get a Momma with a knot in her stomach that made it impossible to eat.  I couldn't have even sucked on a mint without gagging. 

Now that the danger is passed?  I'm ravenous.

OK.  Maybe not such a great plan.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Learning from a Dove

As I was typing yesterday's blog post, I watched a mourning dove at my bird feeder do the unthinkable.  She ran, headlong, into my kitchen window, about three feet from where I was standing.

At first, from the bone-jarring noise the contact made, I thought I'd find her stunned on the ground.  But, instead, she simply composed herself and flew to the roof line, making almost an "UUMMMPPPHHH" sound as she flew, as if to say "What the HECK was THAT?"

A few seconds later, she did the exact same thing, with as much gusto as the first time, but with much less noise after impact.

A minute after that, it happened a third time.  Interestingly, though, it seems there was a lesson about speed in the first two occurrences, because this time she almost seemed to hesitate as she neared the window, even though she did make contact with it.  The impact the third time didn't involve any bird noises.

The fourth time she hit with much less fury.  And the fifth and sixth times, she simply flew toward the window, got within one wing beat of contact and furiously backed away.

When she finally landed at the bird feeder, amongst her dove friends, I noticed something odd about her:  the bottom portion of her beak doesn't meet up properly with the top portion, making her look like she has a serious under bite.  At the tip of the bottom portion of the beak there is a serious turn to the right, causing the top and bottom not to meet up at all.  And, compared to the dark brown to black eye balls of the others, she has bright red eyes, circled with a light blue color.  Very different from the rest, I wondered, and maybe a bit of a handicap?

Doves aren't exactly known for their brilliance.  And, if I take this one as my example, I'd say their brains are rather like scrambled eggs.  But, even the most mundane of creatures learns from its mistakes.

I see this dove in my own sin.  The first time I get near a 'fresh' sin, I go for it.  I don't hold anything back.  And, often, it punches me back in the gut hard enough for me to get a message that "what I just did didn't feel very good."

The next time I commit that same sin, I tend to forget the lesson of the first.  I'm less affected by the consequences because I've already been in this position and I've gotten a bit more comfortable with the impact.

And, I think that somewhere between feeling punched in the gut by my behavior and making a bit of peace with it, I either choose to stay foolish and continue with my sinning ways or take a divergent path and straighten it out.

For me (and dove) it seems the longer I commit the same sin, the less and less comfortable I get with my own improper actions.  Maybe it is recognition that I'm doing something stupid.  Maybe it is guilt for making the same foolhardy mistake over and over again.  Maybe I start to realize that what seemed like a good idea is battering me, heart, soul and body.

But, eventually, after just the right amount of time has passed for me to get God's point, even though I may approach that sin again and again and get within inches of it, I back away.  I don't allow myself to get close enough to have contact with it.  I flirt with disaster, but come to my senses just as doom is approaching.

And, like my dove friend, eventually I back away entirely.  I realize my mistake.  And, I stop doing damage.  And, if I am truly in tune with what God wants for me, I confess that sin, ask forgiveness, and get back on the right track.

The kids asked me in the car the other day if animals get sad when other animals die in front of them.  I've seen enough stories to prove that there is some instinctual protection built into their responses.  And, I've even seen my own animals in mourning over the loss of their companion.  But, I don't know that they have enough brain power to really "get it" the way humans do.

But, I can tell you, if you step back and watch nature for a second, there are times that animals aren't that different from us.  They are capable of showing affection, anger, and even kindness toward one another.  And, clearly, they are capable of learning that something that hurts them isn't worth doing ad nauseum.

If only we humans could learn as quickly....

As I write this, my bird friend has discovered that she can sit on the ledge at the base of the window that was once her battering tool.  She seems happy to take a bit of a rest there, waiting for her turn at the feeder.

She seems to be staring at me, through the glass she was just hitting, unafraid of what was hurting her just minutes before.  It seems she has learned something.  She has made peace with the very thing that was her nemesis.  She has overcome the "sin".  She has ingested the lesson and is content in sitting, instead of beating her head against a damaging force.

She is beautiful.  She is from God.  She is my muse for the moment.

And, if I'm lucky, she'll be back to teach me more lessons on another day.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
--Luke 12: 6-7

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sweet Revenge

This goes out to all the jackwipe bullies who make fun of others because they are supposedly....
going to amount to nothing.

Eat this!

The People Whose Life You Make H.E.double toothpicks...
and Who See Ourselves On That Stage and KNOW WE ARE NOT WHO YOU THINK WE ARE

PS:  Whip out the kleenex first.  Trust me.
PPS:  No really.  Not that generic stuff.  You'll use the whole box.
PPPPS:  We all need a human Charlotte in our lives for the times when we forget that God is our constant Charlotte....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lying Down

It seems the "Lie down with me, Momma!" bug has bitten every one of the boys lately.  Especially when Daddy is traveling, requests for this honor come from all three kids, kids who still believe that I have eyes in the back of my head and could have a very unsettling staring contest with them, one in which they'd have to take my word that "I NEVER blinked.  You just can't TELL."*

Each kid somehow thinks that neither of his other two brothers has had this brilliant thought to ask the lying down question.  A tactic, I'm convinced, is used as the ultimate, Mom-endorsed, "stay up later" ploy or as the monopolize the only couple time Mike and I get most days.

They also never seem to be convinced that it would actually be nice to have a little of my own downtime before I fall asleep in a twin bed with another human being, a cat/dog/both, a face-full of make-up, unbrushed teeth and every stitch of my clothing, including my shoes, still on.

Every time I have to say "Not tonight" or "I'm actually lying down with ____", or, heaven forbid "I'm spending a little time with Daddy", I pause to wonder "What if this is the last time he wants me to do this?" or "Does he need to share something important with me and I'm passing up the opportunity?" (because, God knows that little boys aren't exactly copious talkers about matters of the heart).

Tonight reminded me that, sometimes, they just need to know you'll say "yes", even if you arrive back from saying prayers with everyone and they are almost in REM sleep:

Scene:  The Babe's Bedroom.  Lights are dimmed as low as possible without being out.  Bob is lying between the wall and The Babe, purring at a decibel that would put a Harley to shame.

I scoot in next to my littlest guy and start to kiss on his face.  I make my usual rhyme with his name.  I rub his back. 

No dice.  He is O.U.T.

So, I tell him "I love you" and start to leave the bed.

That, of course, is when he rolls over.  His eyes never open, but he says "I kind of love you" then pauses and says "Actually, I love you alot". 

I'm just staring at his sweet little six-year-old face, the one that contains the two, brand new teeth on the bottom row that are coming in a bit crooked, the nose and cheeks that are dabbled with freckles, the amazing greenish eyes God gave him that are behind closed lids and I say "I love you more."  Partially because I don't think he can hear that enough and partially because it is so, very true and partially because I wish I had been able to circle back to him sooner so we could have talked.

He doesn't miss a beat in response:  "OK".  No argument; just resignation.  Because, unlike biggest brother, Nickels, he doesn't put up a fight when I say it.  He doesn't respond "NO.  I love YOU more" and turn it into a battle of who is going to quit saying it first.

Maybe The Babe just takes me at my word.  Maybe he believes I love him more.  Maybe he is just so tired that he want me to shut up.

But, it reminds me of God, who I KNOW loves me more than I can comprehend.  And, it took children for me to really get this sunk into my marrow:  there is no way God's children can love Him more.  We are His.  Created by Him.  Brought to life by Him.  Sustained by Him.

And though I realize I can't compare, even in the slightest, my Mommyhood to God's Daddy role, I do understand that being a parent is just a taste of how God loves His children:  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He's super wild about us, even when we don't like ourselves or we don't like Him or we fail to recognize the gifts He has given us.  He just super duper, all the way to the moon and back, loves us.

I feel that way about my kids, too.  And, truly getting how God can love us that much times a number that doesn't even exist is hard to comprehend.

No matter how much you love your kids, you can't ever love them as much as God does.


Before I know it, I'll be staring into the face of a seven-year-old when I lie down with my baby at night.  Thirty-nine days from now, if we want to be precise.  I can't quite put my finger on where time has gone, other than to say it seems to have zoomed by at lightning speed and I don't know how to stop it so I can bottle the goodness to inhale later.

Maybe THAT is God's design, that we have a handful of memories of our children's childhood that stand out and the rest seem like a blur and we are constantly wondering how time could simultaneously pass so quickly and so slowly.

Maybe that is what keeps us from losing our minds during the times of hourly diaper changes and sleepless nights of feeding every hour and days of chasing toddlers who have learned they are capable of speeds that wind their mothers lungs.

Maybe that keeps us sane when we drop our baby off at preschool or daycare or kindergarten for the first time and we feel a palpable pain in our soul that says "How did we get here?  Didn't I give birth sometime last year?"

Maybe it's God's design on the days that stinky feet permeate the car when the shoes come off and eyes roll in sockets and you can't believe that your kid is treating you the

I just know that, no matter how tired I get of people turning around in line at Target and saying "Don't rush time.  You'll wish you had this time with them back when they are older"**, they are RIGHT.

Our job as Mommies is bittersweet and treacherous and painful.  We have to navigate days where we wonder if our kid needed a few days longer in the womb to cook.  And days when they couldn't be more precious.  And days when we realize "In just a few, short years, my heart is going to drop out of my chest and I'll die when he walks that stage, accepts that diploma, and jets off to college".

(....And, later, remind me NEVER AGAIN to write the first day on my period....and the beginning of Easter Week...and the day that I realized that I really hope those Mayans were right so we can just have a big, fat party in November, all together, in Heaven....)

I guess it isn't inconceivable that there are times I have passed on lying down with one of the boys when I shouldn't have;  times when my kids really DID have something to say and I blew them off.  And, conversely, there are probably times that they didn't really need me for a specific reason.  They just asked to see what I'd say and didn't want to hurt my feelings by kicking me to the curb.

Like so many things in parenting, we just won't know until much, much later how we did.  There is no semester review and report card.  There isn't a checklist of areas with corresponding smiley faces and frowns for us to refer to every day.  We just careen through life hoping we don't screw our kids up TOO badly.

And that the one time reruns of House Hunters International trumps lying down with your youngest, that it isn't the last time he will ask.

Thank you so much, Lord, for the gift of parenting.  Thank you for the picture of your love for us that parenting brings to life, igniting our hearts in ways we didn't expect, imagine, or anticipate.  Thank you that you never fail to be right where we need you, when we need you, and that you are there for our children when, as Moms, we choose the wrong path.  What a comfort it is, knowing that when we drop the ball, you pick it right back up for us. 

*Look, the Tooth Fairy has been outed and Santa may very well be next, but I will NEVER own up to exactly WHERE those eyes are.

**Why does this always seem to happen when your children are acting like the spawn of Satan?  Those moments?  I could give a rat's rear about remembering.