Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nothing Major

I haven't posted in a while. My life has been full of sick kids for nearl 2 weeks. Oh, it's nothing major ... just your run of the mill colds and such. But it keeps me busy and occupied and up at all hours of the night. I definitely have gone back to feeling like a mother of infants again!

Nathan has another ear infection. I've lost count, but we are over 30 now. This may be 33, but possibly 34 ... I guess when you reach numbers like this, what's the point of keeping track anymore? His tubes (the ones we just got last April) have fallen out. We see his ENT tomorrow.

Joel passed out at school today. However, afterwards I learned that he ate nothing all day long. This is the second time this school year that this has happened. I'm trying to figure out what I can possibly do to encourage him to eat and eat healthy. We'll be seeing a pediatric neurologist soon. Hopefully, he will be able to get me some additional therapies or give me advice on some of the harder issues of dealing with Asperger's syndrome.

So that I don't sound like a complete downer this time around, Julia said the cutest thing last night ...

We were finishing up homework and about to start our bedtime routine. I said, "Okay, everyone get ready to take a quick shower."

Julia pipes up, "No. I have to have a bath. My teacher said so."

I said, "I think a shower will work."

Julia said, "No, Mama! I have to have a bath. Mrs. Amanda said that everyone had to take a bath and use lots of soap so that we were sparkly clean for Groundhog Day!"

(The great thing about having a first cousin teaching my daughter kindergarten is that I have insider information on what prompts these funny conversations. Apparently, Amanda was encouraging her students to bath because one child in particular hasn't had a bath in quite some time. Shortly after that, she was talking to the kids about something fun they were going to do on Groundhog Day. I guess Julia combined those two discussions in her head and felt that she needed to be extra clean on Groundhog Day.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Matters of the Heart

Sometimes I wonder why he left ...

Was it me? Perhaps I didn't love him well enough? Maybe I wasn't doing the right things to express the love in my heart. Maybe I was too busy with the kids and not paying him enough attention. Maybe I was too independent and he didn't think I needed or wanted him in my life. Perhaps he didn't think I really loved him when, despite all of his flaws, I did ...

Or maybe in his eyes I not worthy enough for his love. Maybe if I had been prettier or had lost 50 pounds he wouldn't have chosen someone else over me. Perhaps if I had been a more organized person and kept a cleaner house, he would have stayed. What if I could have just kept up with laundry or been a better money manager ... would it have made a difference? Sometimes I wonder if I could have just been something else or something more, then I could have earned his love ...

There are just too many maybes and perhapses. My mind becomes cluttered from thinking of it all. I find myself praying over and over for the simple truth. Just cut it to the quick and tell me the very heart of the matter. God, why did he leave me?!

God is not silent in response to the haunting questions that burn within me. He whispers to me again and again and again three simple truths:

1. I was created in God's image, and therefore I am likeable and I am lovable. Even if no other man ever looks at me twice (much less marries me), it will not change that fact. And if it happens that one does, it will not make me a more lovable, likeable person either.

2. Love is not something handed out because another person deserves it. It is something you give freely because you choose to give it. We were commanded to love and therefore we should obey by choosing to love. Love is also something you choose to receive. Both are choices. We choose to give our love to someone. We choose to receive love from others in return. Hardening our hearts to one means that we are incapable of both.

3. In as much as love is a choice (not necessarily a feeling), so forgiveness is also a choice (not necessarily a feeling). If I can choose to love, I can choose to forgive. Forgiveness keeps our hearts soft and makes us capable of both giving and receiving love. Therefore, choosing not to forgive means that we are choosing not to give or receive love either.

Why did he leave? I don't know. I know that it is very likely I will never know the reason he chose to walk away as if casting me aside for something or someone etter. I also know that I could never begin to fathom the answer to that question even if I knew it. Yet, what I do know is more than enough. You see, I'm learning that God is never silent on matters of the heart.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Julia's Lost Dream

Last night, Julia was overly tired, and she tends to get somewhat emotional when she's that way. It wasn't any surprise to me that she started crying just prior to bedtime ... just sitting in a chair, crying softly. I asked her to tell me what was the matter and this is what she said (through the absolute most pitiful sobs you've ever heard):

"Momma ... I know there are some dreams I have that can never, ever come true! It makes me feel so sad! I have this dream and I wish it could really happen, but I know it can't. I'll never get to be a Care Bear!"

Then she followed her sad little story by throwing her head on my shoulder and wailing loudly. Talk about crocodile tears! My shirt was soaked!

It was hard to empathize with her sorrow when I really just felt like rolling with laughter from the utter cuteness of it all. It still has me giggling today.

So in honor of my daughter who will never realize this great dream, here's a picture of her favorite Care Bear. (Yes, she loves them all, but Lovs-a-Lot with her pink fur and hearts on the tummy is definitely her all-time favorite!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Inaugural Prayer Service

I just saw this on a Christian homeschool message board that I frequent. It was too powerful not to share. The video at the end is about 10 minutes long, but I encourage everyone to watch it and then to share it with your family and friends ... and remember to pray for our new president as he assumes his role in such a turbulent time. May God grant him divine wisdom during his tenure as our nation's leader!

"Some doors only Heaven can open.

That was the case yesterday when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something that in my mind I knew could not be accomplished. When we notified the Capitol Hill police of our intentions they told us in no uncertain terms we would be arrested for our actions. Yet, in obedience to what I knew to be a divine prompting, I proceeded, along with my colleague, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, to the Capitol Building…and there experienced a miracle.

It just so happened (as it so often does for people of faith), when we entered the Capitol complex we met Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia, in the hallway. Congressman Broun is a dynamic and unapologetic Christian. I told him what God had prompted me to do. He immediately agreed and joined me, along with Rev. Mahoney and our chief of staff, Peggy Birchfield, as together we held a prayer service inside the US Capitol that included anointing the doorway President-Elect Barack Obama will pass through on his way to the platform to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on January 20th.

Anointing with oil is a rich tradition both in the Bible and in the history of the US Capitol. Oil symbolizes consecration, or setting something apart for God's use. George Washington used oil during the dedication of the US Capitol. We used the oil to set apart the walkway and doors that will be the literal right-of-passage for Barack Obama as he ascends to the highest office in our land. Bear in mind this is one of the most cordoned off and highly secured sites in America. It is virtually inaccessible. Yet, there we were, holding a consecration service in obedience to God – the very thing He had placed in my heart.

Rep. Broun delivered a short sermon-like talk on the need to obey God and His will, and for the future president to do what is right. I read Bible passages and applied sacred oil to the doorposts of the arched doorway leading out of the Capitol and onto the inaugural stage, immediately in front of the riser where Obama will stand with Chief Justice John Roberts who will administer the Oath of Office. Rev. Mahoney read a powerful inaugural prayer by Dr. Billy Graham, delivered 40 years ago.

Congressman Broun referred to the location of the prayer service as "the doorway that (President-Elect Obama) will enter through to start of his presidency."

That doorway has now been consecrated and anointed for the purposes of God.

You and your friends, family, and fellow church members can now join us in prayer for our nation and the transition to a new administration by simply watching the video and praying with us.

The more people who watch this video, the more powerful it becomes. That's why we also need you to forward it on to as many people as possible.

If Christians across the nation will join together in prayer, I know God will "hear from Heaven and heal our land."

Please watch this amazing video yourself by clicking here and then forward it on to your family, friends, and fellow church members so together we can raise our voices to God on behalf of our nation in an act of repentance and dedication.

Your missionary to our nation's leaders,

Rob Schenck"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Here a Peep, There a Peep ... Everywhere a Peep, Peep!

Yesterday I got to do something interesting as part of my job as 4-H agent. I got to drive around for an hour with about 80 baby chicks that were all approximately 1 day old in the back of my minivan. It was my job to go pick up the chicks that were ordered by my 4-H'ers as part of their poultry project.

That was one interesting ride ... heater turned up full blast to keep the babies warm (even though it was around 65 outside and I was sweating like you wouldn't believe in that car), and the din of nearly 100 little chicks peeping was enough to drown out most of my music.

Speaking of music, did you know that chickies prefer country music over instrumental or christian tunes? Until yesterday, I didn't either. Well, I say they prefer it. They slept when the country music played. They were extremely loud for the Christian music, so I'm wondering if perhaps they were charismatic chickens or something ... the louder the music got, the more raucus the baby chicks. It was really funny!

Anyway, the office secretary always orders extra chicks, as there have been years when a chick or two would die in route to our office. As our luck would have it, there were exactly 3 chicks left over after all had been picked up by our 4-H'ers. Seeing as I have 3 kids, you can easily see where this is going.

Yes, I now how a make-shift coop in my storage room for 3 fluffy yellow babies ... Pecks, Snuggles, and Pink. (Can you figure out which chick belongs to which child? I'll put the answers at the bottom of the post.) So far, so good ... no disasters. All the chickies made it through the first night, even though we have 2 dogs and 2 cats on the premises (along with no telling how many running loose in the neighborhood). I'm not sure how long these much beloved pets will last, but it will be interesting for however long it lasts.

Pictures of our newest pets with their owners will be coming shortly!

Answers: Joel own Pecks. Nate owns Snuggles. Julia owns Pink. And no ... Pink is not pink. In fact, we really can't even tell them apart. It's just a guess as to which chick is which, as they all look pretty much the same: fluffy and yellow with black, beady eyes.

Nate's Sweet Note

I've been trying to send extra work to keep Nathan busy at school... though sometimes that backfires on me, like when I sent the Usborne Book of Art for Children. Nate has a keen interest in all things art and he asked if he could take it to read at school. I scanned it quickly and seeing as it look appropriate and like something he would actually read, I sent it with him. The next day, my mom (Nathan's teacher) told me that he was showing inappropriate pictures to the other children. Somehow I had missed the two pictures of naked people in the book, but Nathan didn't miss them and made sure that none of the rest of his class did either.

But not everything has turned out badly. Another thing I sent with him was a cursive handwriting workbook. Nate's been begging to learn cursive handwriting. He has a very neat print and I knew that my mom would be too busy to have time to teach him cursive. So I explained that he would have to teach it to himself by following the instructions in the book. That was on Tuesday of this week. I was surprised today to find this note in his backpack.

Looks like his cursive will be neat, too! (My mother said that nearly everything he wrote today was in cursive.)

He's such a sweet little boy ... even if he does show pictures of naked people to other children! (At least it was classical art and not playboy!) I'm really very glad he's MY little boy!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mr. Frog

You don't have to be around Nate very long to notice that he loves to draw. I can't remember a time when he didn't enjoy crayons and paper and art supplies of all kinds. He draws every single day. We've got myriads of scraps of paper lying around with scribbles and doodles of various kinds. And, while I think he is quite the artistically talented child, I'm often so swamped with his artwork that I fail to really notice how wonderful it truly is.

That is, I fail to notice until he draws something like this:

Flimmering Floom

Every year on Christmas eve my kids open up one gift. Every year that gift is a book. Some people do pj's ... cute, but expensive and I had a feeling that by age 10 my boys would be resistant to matching night clothes. Others do ornaments for the tree. Another cute idea, but I have too many ornaments to hang them all up as it is! So instead, I choose to give books.

This Christmas eve, Nate received a book of poetry. So every night since, we've been reading a poem or two (or eight) from his book. It's a fun way to snuggle up together before bed.

Tonight one of our selections was a poem by Carl Sandburg: On A Flimmering Floom You Shall Ride. It reads like this:

Nobody noogers the shaff of a sloo.
Nobody slimbers a wench with a winch
No higgers armed each with a niggle
and each with the flimdrat of a smee,
each the inbiddy hum of a smoo.

Then slong me dorst with the flagdarsh.
Then creep me deep with the crawbright.
Let idle winds ploodaddle the dorshes.
And you in the gold of the gloaming
You shall be sloam with the hoolriffs.

On a flimmering floom you shall ride.
They shall tell you bedish and desist.
On a flimmering floom you shall ride.

I read those words and at the end I sort of let out a low "Mmmmmmm." Honestly, it read like gibberish to me and I had no idea what I had just read. But as I started to turn the page, Nathan says, "Momma, read that one again. It really speaks to me."

So, we read it again. It made no more sense to me the second time through, though my seven year old son tells me it is a poem about not messing with pirates. I guess I'll just have to trust him on this one!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Very Last First Time

Tonight marks the very last first time for tooth fairy visits. Yes ... Julia has FINALLY lost her first tooth. Let me add that it is her emphasis on the word finally ... not mine! I think she's been ready for the tooth fairy since she was about 3 years old and figured out that Joel got treats for losing teeth.

Each of my kids has lost their first tooth at age 5 years 6 months ...nearly to the day. Isn't that interesting? I figured the age might vary from child to child, just as the age when they cut their first tooth varied. Joel's about halfway through losing teeth, and Nathan (who will also be getting a tooth fairy visit tonight) has lost 6 beautiful teeth.

We've had a few interesting tooth fairy adventures in our home. Probably the funniest one happened when Joel lost his second tooth. Joel actually lost his first two teeth on consecutive days. On both days, he suddenly announced he had a loose tooth and within minutes the tooth had fallen out. The first time it was early enough in the day that I could prepare for the big event. But the second time I wasn't prepared and it was too late to do anything about it. So the "fairy" left Joel a gift certificate instead of money. It was a homemade gift certificate that stated in honor of Joel's second tooth in 2 days, the entire family could have one scoop of ice cream at Baskin Robbins.

Well, that very next day we had to go get our ice cream. Our family walked into the ice cream shop, and while I distracted the kids with choosing flavors, Matt quietly asked the teen-aged workers if they would play along with the "gift certificate," assuring them that real payment would follow. Once everyone had gotten their ice cream, Joel proudly paid for everyone's dish with his gift certificate. Now it was Matt's turn to entertained the kids (who were busily eating their ice cream) while I got up to pay real money for our treat. To my surprise, the two employees didn't want to take my money because I had already paid with a "gift certificate." I kept showing them how it was signed "The Tooth Fairy" and pointing out that there was no dollar amount given, but they were not convinced that my homemade gift certificate wasn't the real deal. In those moments it became quite clear that just because someone is actually old enough to hold down a job doesn't mean they are mature enough to be left in charge of a place of business! Finally, in frustration (because I was determined that this tooth fairy would indeed pay for the ice cream), I said, "I've decided that I'll just save this gift certificate for another time and pay with cash tonight." We still laugh about that tooth fairy experience.

This same tooth fairy adventure is also how our tooth fairy got into leaving behind gifts and treasures instead of coins and dollars. I think my kids look forward to the anticipation of what the tooth fairy might leave behind ... and sometimes she does leave money, but more often than not it is some small trinket or tiny surprise that brings happy smiles to our entire house. Tonight, Nathan is getting a new pack of crayons (his favorite treat), and Julia is getting a tiny plastic pig (she adores tiny animals). Joel will be getting a surprise as well because the tooth fairy thinks he has been a great big brother this past week.

Obviously, there will still be many, many more nights of tooth fairy visits before it is all said and done ... many more late night hunts for spare change or small surprises that can be easily tucked under pillows; many more notes in childish hand-writing scribbled to the tooth fairy; many more nights of trying to stay awake long enough to sneak into rooms and rummage around under pillows in an attempt to find a tooth without waking a dreaming child; many more mornings with happy squeals of delight when treasures are pulled from under the pillow. Even though there are so many more tooth fairy nights ahead, I still wish I could figure out a way to slow down the steady march of my children growing up.

Here's a picture of the happy girl who is anxiously awaiting her first tooth fairy visit tonight.

In a word ...

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I don't think I have ever managed to keep even one of my well-intended resolutions. Usually, I've broken it before January is over. So a long time ago, I gave up on resolutions.

But last year, I tried out something new with my friends at the Five in a Row message boards. I picked a word for the year. Last year my word was ENOUGH. I remember that I chose that word because I didn't feel like there was enough of me to go around or that I ever had enough ___________ (pick the word to fill in the blank: money, time, patience, love, sleep, hope, faith, etc). I even wondered if God could be enough for me when I was feeling so desperate.

In the beginning, I wasn't sure how choosing a word for the year would be helpful. And yet, in 2008, I learned all about ENOUGH. I didn't think about my word every day, but yet when I did ponder on it I could see that all year God was proving that He was enough for me and that through Him I'd have enough of whatever it was that I needed.

When I started to think about my word for 2009, I came up with so many words. I thought of joy, grace, mercy, focus, gentleness, love, purpose, hope, faith, diligence, direction and kindness. Each of those words is a quality that I'd like to have more of and I felt sort of torn over which one to name as my word for 2009.

As I debated and thought and finally prayed over which word to choose, a famous Bible passage came to mind: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11

With that thought in mind, I knew that my word for 2009 is ASK. I will ask the Lord to give me those qualities I'm needing: grace when I need grace; joy when I need joy; focus when my mind begins to wander from the task at hand; kindness when I'm feeling grumpy; hope when I feel desperate. And because of what I learned in 2008, I know that in 2009 God will continue to give me ENOUGH of the things I'm ASKing Him for.