Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The gift of a child

I usually write at night, so what I write is posted on the next day.  Because I was writing on the 29th for the 30th I forgot that I wanted to post this on my actual child’s birthday.  So here it is a day late.

Yesterday was a milestone for the Informer, she turned six!  Six years ago, I went into labor 26 days early; she just couldn’t wait to make her grand entrance!  She has always been a fiery, tough, little imp!  She is tiny, petite and has the most beautiful, feminine name.  Yet, for the most part she is more of a tom-boy, who looks like pig-pen, much of the time.  As much as she likes to dress-up, and be foofy like her sisters, it doesn’t last long at all.  A couple minutes after the hair has been done and fancy dresses put on, she is back to her untamed hair, sticking out all over the place, and usually some sort of mix, matched, wild, outfit.  She always says what’s on her mind and makes no bones about what she thinks everyone else should be doing.  She makes me laugh, and cry, and I can get beyond frustrated, with her lack of obedience.  However, when I look at this tiny, impish, child I can not begin to explain the overwhelming love I have for her.

This little person entered the world early; she spent time in the NICU and under bilirubin lights.  In the first few weeks of life, we took a ride in the ambulance to the pediatric hospital because she aspirated on her spit-up.  Before she was a year old she had to have a CT scan, because the pediatrician wanted to be sure certain things were ok.  She spent time in physical therapy because of torticollis, and not being able to turn over, by nine months of age.  After physical therapy, she went through occupational therapy because of food and texture, issues.  She has been monitored for the past three years because she is so tiny, they want to make sure she is growing well.  Last year she had a sleep study because she couldn’t stay asleep.  We found out she has mild sleep apnea and have worked through it.  This year she had her heart monitored because of an arrhythmia episode she had.  All of this in the first six years of her life and she is considered a healthy child.  To see her today, you wouldn’t know that she ever experienced any of those things.  Other than being tiny, she is just this little, fire ball of energy that talks constantly.

As I watch her sleep, and think about all of the joy she has brought to our family, I find it hard to believe that we have gone through all those tests and therapies and such.  Then I think about families that have children with special needs, children that are truly sick or that have physical or mental challenges and I wonder how they do it, day in and day out.

When the Informer was almost a year old I became pregnant again, I lost that baby in a miscarriage.  The doctor told me that the baby probably had a genetic problem or downs.  As I lost the baby, I truly thanked God for the opportunity, to be a part of creating another soul, even if I would not be apart of its life on earth.  It was an extremely painful experience but one I would go through again in a heartbeat.  Each time I think back to one of the tests my children have gone through or I see a special needs child I think of the baby I lost.  I wonder if God didn’t think I was capable of being a mom to a special needs child.
I don’t know why I lost the baby I did or why other children are born with special needs.  I do know that I’m grateful that God has given me the chance to be a mom six times!  Five times to kids that keep me hopping most of the time, and one special saint in heaven.  Every child, not matter the challenges, no matter the time we have them, eight weeks in the womb or 60 years old, no matter what they do, good or bad, no matter what we get in a child they are a gift beyond all gifts!  Nothing will ever compare to how your heart overflows with love for them.  Nothing will ever compare to how it swells when you are proud of them.  Nothing compares to the pain you can feel when they are hurting, or your scared because of a test result you’re waiting on, or you lost Jr. under the clothes rounder at Wal-Mart.  All of those intense feelings let you know you are alive!  They let you know that God created us to be connected and have immense feelings of love for each other, and none more so, than for a child.  I think God gave us those intense feelings to show us how He feels about us.  I’ll bet His love is way more intense than we could ever imagine!

I mean the words from our Father are so great, how could we not know how He feels about us?

Before I Formed You in the Womb, I knew you.  Jeremiah 1:5

"Yahweh called me before I was born; from my mother's womb he pronounced my name."  Is. 49:1

"You know me through and through, from having watched my bones take shape when I was being formed in secret, knitted together in the womb." Ps. 139:15

"My days were listed and determined even before the first of them occurred." Ps. 139:16

Children are a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is a gift.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Psalm 127

"Listen to me....you who have been carried since birth, whom I have carried since the time you were born. In your old age I shall still be the same, when your hair is gray I shall still support you."
- God
Isaiah 46:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.  Ephesians 1: 3-6

Children are gifts, as great as any riches or gems!  Remember we were children once and still are in the eyes of the Lord!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The one who dies with the most stuff, wins. NOT!

I was recently on a writing hiatus because I had two projects that I absolutely had to finish.  The first a garage sale, the second a video project I agreed to do.

At the beginning of the year I talked the Director into taking Dave Ramsey’s’ Financial Peace University class.  We had taken a Crown Ministries class in the past.  In fact we took a couple and led a few.  So it’s not like we were completely clueless when it came to money.  But, I had heard great things about FPU (Financial Peace University) and felt we could always use a refresher when it comes to money.  He agreed.

We have had very little debt since taking Crown Ministries, but recently we had been thrown a few curve balls and accumulated a small amount.  In class we learned about Gazelle intensity at paying off everything.  Dave suggests that you do everything from sell off your stuff in a garage sale, to getting another job, in order to live like no one else, so that later you CAN LIVE like no one else.  I had decided and talked the Director into having a garage sale as one of our activities to get rid of our extra monthly bills.

Now the Director and I have had numerous garage sales all the way back to before we were married.  Often times we did very well, but toward the end of the last few we had had, we made very little for the amount of time we put in.  To be blunt we just didn’t have anything that anyone wanted any more.  We had sold off everything of any real value.  We learned that it was much better to donate stuff and write it off on our taxes.  Until last month we had not had a garage sale in about 10 years.

I finally decided we had a lot of stuff; it was time to de-clutter and make a little money in the process.  Besides Goodwill and the Salvation Army are getting VERY picky about what they will take, especially when it comes to kids items like furniture and toys.  So we planned, set up and went forward with our garage sale.  As the morning went on I realized just how much I HATE having garage sales!  I hate the haggling; the arranging and rearranging of items and watching my stuff go.

I’ve mentioned before that my siblings were born with certain genes that I did not get, such as the movie quoting gene, the cereal eating gene and in this case the GET RID OF STUFF gene.  I have a hard time letting go of things!  I have all these sentimental attachments.  I love the idea of having preserved stuff to pass down to my children.  When I was a kid I loved going through the stuff in my grandmother’s attic.  A walk-in attic filled with old things that represent memories and people’s lives, fascinates me!  I’m very nostalgic in that sense.

Now my sister gets rid of things faster then they enter her house.  She and my brother, the Stuntman are true minimalists, in my opinion.  And, in some ways I envy them!  I would love to live a simplified, de-cluttered life!  The house would be so much easier to take care of then.  But unfortunately my nostalgic, pass it on, connection with the past, always wins over.  Of course my mother’s mantra of “use it up, wear it out, eat it all also plays a part in there too.  I can’t see spending good money on things, only to get rid of them, and then have to re-buy it, if you need it in the future.  Then there’s the whole gift-guilt thing.  I have tremendous guilt, if I get rid of something that someone gave us as a gift.  I mean they spent their hard earned money on something for us, how could I possibly be so heartless as to get rid of it?!

It has now been about four weeks since our garage sale and I’m still having regret over things I sold.  Heck, I still have regret about things I sold a couple of years ago at a garage sale my parents had!  Seriously!  I have a severe condition of Seller’s Remorse!  Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hoarder, there are things I can let go of in a heart beat!  But other things are almost like appendages.

In the end, I know it is better to pass things along to others that can and will use them.  Flylady says “when de-cluttering, to sing please release me set me free, as sung from the items perspective, and only keep things that you truly love, and that bring you joy.”  So what happens if it all brings me joy?  I guess that can’t be really true if I’m stressed with all the mess, which is caused by all the stuff!  So, I guess I need to find that happy medium, because I do not want to be the one that dies with the most stuff!  I absolutely do not want my kids to have to rent a u-haul for my stuff, to be pulled by the hearse, taking me to my grave.  And, I really don’t want to be buried with it!  I mean what would an archeologist think if I get dug up in the future?!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Friends among Women

Growing up I was not in the “IN” crowd, nor was I popular.  The majority of my grade-school years were spent at a Catholic school.  I remember classmates as far back as first grade but a best friend or even good friends I had very few.  My first memory of a best friend was in fourth grade.  I had one for fourth, and fifth.  Then I had a couple of friends in sixth, and seventh but no best friend.  Actually I wasn’t really liked much at all, in sixth and seventh grade.  Thinking back on it, seventh was my hardest, I was what would be considered today, bullied.  Some of the girls put my school shoes in the toilet while I was at P. E.  I was made fun of, and a whole host of other things, I don’t care to remember, throughout all of seventh grade.  Eighth grade was a bit better, the two queen bees that led the girls the years before, had left the school and I bonded with someone.  We were like Laverne & Shirley (we even had our own Lenny and Squiggy).  I remember thinking we would go to high school and college together and then live together just like Laverne & Shirley.  But alas, life and plans change.

For high school I went to a public school, while my best friend and most of my school mates went to a Catholic high school.  The adjustment was difficult but I managed.  I found one close friend and other people that I talked to, but again I never was part of the “IN” crowd.  In tenth grade the close friend changed but the story was the same.  Again the same story for eleventh grade, new close friend, the Runner.  The Runner remained my close friend through eleventh and twelfth grade, and we are still in contact today.  She was crazy and fun and always made me laugh.  We shared a salad from the salad bar, almost daily, for lunch, our senior year.  I have wonderful memories from our friendship.

I would say overall, I got along much better with boys than girls.  I never understood the way girls acted with each other.  It probably also had something to do with the fact that I was boy crazy.  Boys were just easier to talk to and hang with, there was no false behavior, what you saw was what you got.  I had one, good, male friend all through high school and afterwards, for awhile.  He was easy to talk to and get along with; there were never any arguments or misunderstandings.  And, when I met and started dating the Director nothing changed, it was all good.

After high school I had some casual friends but no one really close, I just had the Director and occasional contact with the Runner (she went into the Navy) and my male friend from high school.  A few years later I connected with the Runner’s older sister and a woman that I had worked for, right out of high school.  I valued those friendships but didn’t understand the true value of having a wonderful female friendship, the sisterhood that I could have.  I always sort of felt like a lost puzzle piece.

After the Director and I married we moved to a small town on the coast, we made some friends but it wasn’t until we had our first child and joined a wonderful, small, active church that I truly learned what friendships were really about.  When I started home schooling that lesson was magnified even more!  We moved from that town nine years later to the town I grew up in.  After a couple of years of church shopping, we joined a new church and again I made some wonderful friendships, bonds with women that I truly value and appreciate.  But there is something about my friendships with the women of that small town.  There I felt like I had found the puzzle I belonged to. 

The sisterhood and bonds I have with the women of that small town is immense.  I have so many fabulous memories.  We have had children together, struggled through parenting issues together, watched each others children grow up and supported each other in our marriages.  Our husbands are friends.   And, even though I now live 45 minutes away, the connection is still strong.  I was on a weekend, birthday celebration with several of these women when my miscarriage began.  These women surrounded me with love and held me as I cried; looking back I can see God’s had in orchestrating that time for me.  I’m truly sorry it was a downer for my dear friend, celebrating her birthday, but I will forever be grateful that those women were there when it happened.

This past weekend me and four of those wonderful friends, stayed at a local hotel for a couple of days.  It was just the break I needed.  We reminisced, laughed, (oh, how we laughed, my face still hurts from laughing so much), shopped, broke bread together, watched a fabulous movie, went to mass, and just enjoyed being who we are, together.  For about 45 hours, we took a break from 26 children collectively, husbands whom we love and adore and other obligations and responsibilities.  We were just ourselves, the women, that God made us to be.  We accepted and loved each other; we shared and learned from each other.  But most of all we communed in a way that only women can, supporting each other, right where we are on this journey of life.  I feel so blessed to have friends with whom I can be myself and have so much fun with.  I hope to grow old in these friendships.  My hope and prayer is that every woman finds what I have.

This video truly describes what I’m trying to say.  To all my dear friends, I love you all!  Words on Women and Strength by Kelly Corrigan

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What to do when sickness strikes

Everyone in our house, except the Director is sick.  I don’t know what’s worse, everyone including mom, being sick at the same time or having one person at a time get sick.  I mean if we did the one person at a time thing, our household could potentially be sick for two months!  Then again having everyone sick at the same time is really hard too.  Especially when the little ones won’t succumb and just rest, and all of the older ones, me included just want to sleep.

So what do we do when we’re all sick?  Well, I try to use natural remedies as well as conventional western medicine, but in the end sometimes it just takes time.  In the mean time I always make the following as part of our healing process.

From my absolute favorite cookbook and one of my favorite authors, More Home Cooking, A writer Returns to the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin.  As Laurie states, “There is nothing like roast chicken.  It is helpful and agreeable, the perfect dish no matter what the circumstances.  Elegant or homey, a dish for a dinner party or a family supper, it will not let you down.”  In the case of illness I firmly believe this and go for the homey for sure!  Laurie offers several suggestions but for ease and healing I go with the following.  I take one large whole chicken.  I wash it completely, and then stuff it with a lemon cut in half.  After the juice has been squeezed out over the chicken and lots of garlic cloves.  I actually fill the chicken cavity and pan with lots and lots of garlic cloves, usually five to six bulbs.  I then season the skin with paprika, salt and pepper.  As Laurie says “the paprika gives the skin a deep, lovely color, a nice crunch and the merest hint of smokiness.”  Then I slow roast it for several hours at 300 degrees.  The secret to slow roasting is to baste, baste and baste some more.  I baste about every twenty minutes or so until the chicken is done.

For sick fare I serve this with a thick grainy bread and potatoes or rice.  I slice up the chicken, which is so juicy, it just about melts in your mouth.  I then make gravy from the juices in the pan and a little white wine.  It has a fabulous, garlic, lemony flavor.  Now for all that garlic.  Roasting the garlic slowly, with the chicken juices, makes the garlic fall out of the skin.  Then we spread the garlic on the thick grainy bread like butter, and devour lots and lots of it.  Of course everyone in the house smells wonderful, (sarcastic smile) but I truly believe that the garlic helps to kill what ever ails you.

Now after everyone has eaten, I take the chicken carcass, any gravy that’s left, plus the lemons and a few garlic cloves (if there are any left).  Throw it all in a deep pan, and add filtered water, three-quarters of the way up and then simmer everything for three hours or so.  After it’s done, I strain off the broth and refrigerate it.  The next day I use the stock to make Hen Soup. 

Laurie Colwin’s Hen Soup recipe

  1. Dice 1 medium potato, 1 small carrot, and 1 scallion or yellow onion.  Put these in a pot with a scattering of lima beans and or peas.  You can add any other vegetable you like.  Zucchini and celery are very nice in this soup.
  2. Spoon enough stock to float the vegetables and simmer.  About 10 minutes before serving, break up some spaghetti.  Laurie says a nice addition is the tomato-and-basil-flavored spaghetti made by the Prince Company.  I personally have never been able to find it so I usually use tri-colored spaghetti.  Drop the spaghetti in and let simmer.
  3. Add a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch each of pepper and celery salt.
  4. If you have any leftover chicken you can dice it up and put it in too.

This of course is served with more grainy bread, slathered with lots of garlic, and, lots and lots of liquids, especially hot tea.  And, we can not forget lots of hand sanitizer!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back To School Addendum

I would like to make a clarification to yesterdays post.  After sharing my blog with the morning crew of the Christian radio station I listen to and receiving a comment back, it became apparent to me that I had not expressed myself clearly.  My intent at mentioning the comments I heard on the radio stations was more my own surprise at how different my viewpoints and feelings are.  In all fairness I was not able to listen to the complete morning show.  The Little Man was sick, crying and I was listening while driving to and from the doctors and pharmacy.  I was made aware that many of the “happy the kids were going back to school” comments from parents were because the kids were bored.  (This is something else as homeschoolers we don’t understand; there very rarely is any boredom at our house.  If one of my children tells me they are bored I can always find a chore or extra school work for them to do.  The response is usually, “no, I can go read or play something”; even my 17 year old will pull out a book, board games or Lego to occupy his time.)  I was also made aware that the crew of the morning show prayed and offered encouragement to homeschooling families as well (something I obviously missed).

I truly appreciate the Christian radio station in our area because I know other areas of the world do not have this luxury.  Maybe I was a little over sensitive yesterday morning, took things out of context and spoke without having a compete picture.  I was not trying to judge, I was merely expressing my feelings of isolation in view points and sadness at the comments made by parents and kids alike.  I know that most all parents love their children completely and when push comes to shove they want to spend time with them.  And, that kids love their parents.  It just seems to me in today’s society we have so many things pulling the family apart that, given the opportunity there should be as much encouragement for not only quality family time but also quantity of family time.  In the end our relationships with God and our family (friends included) are all that really matter.  Our love for each other and outward expression of that love is so important to sharing the light of Christ and the gospel in my opinion.

I do really love Z88.3, that’s why I have their link in “my favorite links” on my home page.  I did not mean anything derogatory towards them in my post yesterday.  I apologize if it came across that way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back To School!

I’m back!  I had intended for this first post to be an explanation for my absence but something came up today that I had to write about.  I will explain my absence later.

Today was the first official day of school in our county.  As homeschoolers we don’t have an official first day of school in our house, mainly because we school most of the year.  I’ve found that the kids retain much more, and it’s easier to stay on top of things if we just keep going year round.  Also, my kids hardly ever finish all of their books at the same time.  Schooling this way allows them to move on to the next book when they’re ready, continuing in an area they may be strong in and spending more time in an area of weakness if needed.

I’ve always known our family is different; we do most things counter culture.  We’ve accepted it and don’t think much about it.  We feel that a single income family, with a stay-at-home, homeschooling parent is the best thing for our children and our family.  We feel that it not only provides for an excellent education, but also allows us to tailor the education for the individual student and allow them to mature at their own rate.  We also believe that spending time as a family creates for bonding and life-long healthy relationships amongst siblings.  We also truly believe that we are called as parents to be the primary educators of our children.  After all God entrusted them to us, to raise for His kingdom.  We don’t feel that we can adequately do that, if the kids are away from home for most of their waking hours.  Do we believe this way of life is for everyone?  Absolutely not!  We are all individuals and have different personalities.  We believe homeschooling is a calling.  Traditional schooling definitely has its place and is needed.  We do not judge anyone for choosing to homeschool or not to homeschool.  I’m simply saying this is a way of life that we have chosen for our family.

But anyway, back to the first day of school.  Knowing we are different is one thing, but there are some moments that just scream out how different we are.  On my way to the doctors this morning I changed the station from our traditional Christian radio station (one of my not so favorite songs was on) to a secular station.  The DJ said “So I’ve had my first back to school complaint.”  He proceeded to go on with a discussion involving, I’m assuming a teenager.  The caller was commenting on all the calls from parents, excited that the kids are back in school so they can have their lives back.  But, what about the kids who are excited to be back in school and finally away from their parents?  The DJ then proceeded to play a dialog between two parents saying.

Woman - “Love you, have fun on your first day at school.”
Man – “Thank God!  We finally have our marriage and time to ourselves!  I guess we should remember to pick him up after school.”
Woman - “Who?”
Man – “Uh, you know what’s his name.”

I was appalled to hear this!  I was sad that the caller felt that way about her parents.  Worse yet that parents feel that way about their kids.

I switched back to the Christian radio station and they were a bit better.  They were at least acknowledging parents that were sad about children going back to school or starting for the first time.  But, they also talked about all the parents who were having a “woo hoo” breakfast, celebrating the end of summer.  They did say that they were praying for all the families and kidos who were going back to school.  But, somehow all I could focus on was the parents that were woo hoooing the beginning of school.

Hearing all of it this morning was like a cold bucket of water thrown in my face.  It made me realize just how different we are.  I CAN’T imagine spending my day with any other people!  I absolutely, desire to spend my days with my five children!  And, my kids don’t understand being away from their siblings.  I had someone in a medical profession tell me that my problem was I need to put my kids in school and put my feet up.  Someone else in the medical profession told me that I needed to put my three year old in day care so he can learn how to be independent.  REALLY!!!  Independent at three!  Should I type up his resume so he can get a job too!  All he knows is to be with his siblings and doesn’t understand not being with at least one of them.  You know what, he has no attachment issues with me or his father at all.  And you know what else his older siblings are very independent and do lots of things by themselves now that they are older.  They also are very confident about themselves and who they are.  Does that mean our days are perfect and everybody always gets along?  NO WAY!  There are days I’d love a day off, and I know there are days my kids would love being an only child for a day or two.  But overall none of us would have it any other way.

This morning made me feel like someone from another planet.  I’m sure there are other families that feel the same way we do, but we sure weren’t represented on the radio this morning.

As a side note, my kids hate the Christmas Carol It’s Beginning to look a like Christmas because of the line “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again. ...” they don’t understand it, and thank me every year for homeschooling them.  That makes up for all the bad days and not being represented on the radio.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When We Don’t Understand His Ways

DEATH COMES UNEXPECTIDLY!  My brother loves to shout that line and then laugh his unmistakable laugh, that makes me grin.  You see my siblings have this movie quote gene that I didn’t get (they got a lot of gene’s I didn’t get; cereal eating, the get rid of stuff and laugh a lot genes).  The three of them run around and quote movies left and right, they ALWAYS have a quote for whatever situation you’re in.  And, for whatever reason my brother, The Stuntman, loves to quote this one.  Do you know what it’s from?  Here’s a hint it stars Hayley Mills.

This morning that quote is played over and over in my brain.  Death, that life altering event that changes us.  It can change our status, or emotional well being, our outlook on life.  We can be changed for better or worse.  Death, it’s so hard to understand, death, ceasing to be, to no longer exist in this world, for the body to stop working; then to exist in another life, an unearthly life that we can not begin to comprehend.  It’s almost too much for my brain to handle. 

I have experienced the pain of loss many times, my grandmother when I was only nine.  When I was in high school, two different schoolmates lost their sisters.  Both girls were just children.  Beloved teachers, my other grandmother, an aunt, my grandfather, The Director’s father and aunt, dear friends.  I had a friend that carried her baby to term knowing that that her daughter would die soon after she was born, she lived for 45 minutes.  My SIL has some friends that lost their precious baby girl after just five short months of life, she succumbed to SCID.  Another friend lost her 13 year old son in a car accident and I lost a precious baby in a miscarriage.  And, just three weeks ago we lost The Godfather.  Each loss so hard, but somehow the loss of someone sick like The Godfather or my grandmother isn’t as hard to swallow.  Even though it’s hard, you know its coming and in some ways you welcome it, so that the person you love doesn’t have to suffer any more.  You miss them terribly and sometimes you stop dead in your tracks and think “I can’t believe they are gone!”  How do you continue to function?  Why doesn’t the world stop for your pain?  You look around and think “Don’t you people get it?!  My dear loved one is gone!  How can you possibly think about doing fill in the blank while I’m suffering this loss?!”  Why doesn’t the world stop?!

A lively, vivacious, beautiful, 16 year old girl died last night.  What killed her?  A microscopic amoeba, a parasite!  She died from something she got while enjoying life, playing in the local river.  I didn’t know her personally, but many of my friends, where I used to live, did.  As a matter of fact the sister of the 13 year old boy, killed in the car accident was a good friend of hers.  Today, all I hear in my head is DEATH COMES UNEXPECTIDLY!  None of us is promised tomorrow!  I really struggle with why?  Why young people, babies, children?  Why is there so much suffering in the world?!  I know that Christ has conquered death; I know that she will be reunited with her family later on.  But how, HOW, does her family go on without her?!  I often think of my friend who lost her son, she is the strongest, most amazing woman, I’ve ever met.  She is truly Christ for the world and I don’t know how she does it.  How do you continue to go on when you don’t understand HIS ways?

Max Lucado offers great words of encouragement and hope in his book excerpt The Fear of Not Protecting My Kids.  Specifically he says that God understands our question (This is good news for me because I am always questioning Him!), that God hates death even more than we do, that he buried a child too.  He says we have to trust God; that death is just a transition to heaven, and that our loved ones, in particular children may not be in our arms right now but they are in Gods arms.

Someone, I think my Mom, posed this thought to me; death is a transition to heaven and new life, just as birth is transition from the womb to our earthly life.  As I thought about this, birth is painful for both the mother and child and probably for the mothers loved ones as well.  I mean really, who wants to see someone they love in pain.  I’m sure the baby is warm and content and comfortable in its womb life.  It probably has no desire to come out into the cold, bright, loud world that we live in.  And yet, when it does enter, it finds the love of its mother and family ,and so many wonderfully, messy, fun and sometimes painful adventures.  I truly hope that this is the case when it comes to death and heaven.

Again I re-visit Matt Maher’s song Christ Is Risen but two other songs ring out as well, JJ Heller’s Your Hands and Laura Story’s Blessings.  And then the song that got me through my miscarriage bubbles up and fills me with peace, Casting Crowns Praise You In The Storm.  I may not understand His ways but I know that He is in control of everything and I just have to have faith that He will heal our hurts and pain.  And, in the end He is triumphant over all!

August 12

Loving God, your goodness is all around us.  But sometimes it seems overshadowed by pain, death, and suffering.  Assure us in times of doubt that you are the God of resurrection.  May our lips sing your praise, and may our lives be a living sacrifice to you. Amen

Friday, August 5, 2011

Killer Organisms, Seriously!

When I wrote about the killer organisms, I was half joking.  Seriously, they totally gross me out and give me the willies when I think about them.  However, I never REALLY thought about them and what they can do to you!

The other night I wasn’t feeling real great and when I lay down, I felt worse.  So, I decided to get up, not being in the mood to do much of anything, I turned on the TV.  All the stupid cable channels we have, and there was nothing of any value, worth watching, on!  As I was guide surfing, trying to find something, I came across the title Monsters Inside Me on the Animal Channel.  Now I’m thinking to myself “what in the world can this be about, especially on the animal channel!”  So I decide to check it out, in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”

This show is about all the disgusting, nasty, critters that we can get!  Honestly!  The stories that were told and the pictures they showed were awful!  It made me not want to eat anything ever again!  As grossed out as I was, I found that I couldn’t stop watching it.  As I’m sitting there repulsed I couldn’t help but think again, “What was God thinking?!    Do we really need these nasty parasites?!  Wouldn’t the world be better off without them?!”

Then, I began to think about something the pediatrician said to me when the Middle Child had chicken pox (even though she had been immunized).  I asked her how the Middle Child could possibly get chicken pox, one, she’s been immunized and two, she’s not in a traditional school?  The pediatrician explained that many viruses are airborne.  We could be on the soup isle of the grocery store and someone in the cereal isle, two rows over could sneeze or cough, and it could float to our isle, where we breathe it in and catch it.  Now a lot of things have to be in play for us to get sick, like a depressed immune system etc., but we are still exposed to all sorts of germs, viruses, parasites on a daily basis.

According to that show most US fish are infested with worms.  Unless it is cooked at a temperature of 145 degrees, until done or pre-frozen before being prepared you can get the parasitic worms.  Sushi eaters beware!  I was gagging just watching the experiments to determine this.

So again, I started thinking about the germs and viruses and parasites and wondering why do they exist?!  But then another thought hit me, “How amazing did God make us?!”  I mean who knows how much we are exposed to on a daily basis?  We touch doorknobs, and menus, public toilets, and hand dryers.  We’re around people who cough and sneeze and who knows what they might be carrying.  And then, we eat things that have parasites.  Don’t think you’re off the hook if you’re vegetarian, because there are all sorts of nasty critters, and disgusting stuff lurking in the soil that veggies and fruit are grown in.  I’m shocked that we all aren’t dead!

Obviously, God knew what He was doing, even if He did create nasty, gag inducing, vermin!  Who am I, a lowly sinner, who has just about no answers to anything, to question the Almighty?!  For whatever reason, God put them here, they are apart of a greater plan that I know nothing about!  I don’t think I’ll ever understand it, but I don’t want to get on God’s bad side by questioning His reasons for certain creations.  I think I’ll just accept that He made us incredibly well.  Overall, when you think about what we could catch or get, and we don’t, it’s pretty amazing!  To me, that’s proof that the world has a magnificent design and order that only an omnipotent designer could make!  In other words, we are not here through goo to you by way of the zoo.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

F! Time for another re-test.

I have this reoccurring nightmare.  I’m at my current state in life (five kids, married etc.), but somewhere, some government bean counter, has determined that I didn’t meet my high school requirements.  Therefore, I have to go back to high school and complete one more year!  It doesn’t matter that I have this life; I have to go back in addition to living my current life.  It has all the typical, back in high school dream stuff, can’t find my locker, when I do, I can’t remember the combination, late to class, can’t find the class etc.  Where it becomes the nightmare is, it’s the last week of school and I have not done anything all year long!  I’m not prepared for the final exam and I have not completed the report, research paper, or whatever long term project that’s due!  So, I’m going to have to go back and do it over again!

I had that dream again the other night.  I began to think about it and wonder why as an adult I’m having this dream.  It’s not like I’ve seen or talked to someone from high school and that’s what triggers it.  I can not pinpoint any real trigger as to why I’m having this dream.  Then something hit me the other day.

The last eight months of our life have been pretty challenging.  I feel like we’re being bombarded by lots of things, from lots of different angles.  Sort of like playing ping pong, me against 50 people.  I’m playing everyone at the same time.  They all have their own ball, and some of them are playing with baseballs or softballs instead of ping pong balls.  I can’t keep up!

Anyway, the other day I completely lost it and didn’t handle things in a graceful manner at all!  (I heard a talk once that compared an overload of stress, to a book that has no margins on the pages.  It’s hard to read, and keep up with what the book is about, without margins.  He said stress is the same way.  If our margins are forever shrinking we might lose it over the littlest thing, something that wouldn’t normally bother us.)  After I lost it, and calmed down, I thought to myself “Why are things so hard lately?!  Doesn’t God see that I’m at the end of my rope?!”  Then I thought “we’ve had challenges just as hard if not harder in the past.  I didn’t handle them with grace, maturity or a grateful heart either.  Maybe the challenges are about me learning something.”

Maybe like my reoccurring nightmare of never finishing, God is testing me.  With each test that I fail, He deems it necessary to test me again and again until I get it right.  If that’s the case, I better get it right soon!  At the rate I’m going, those ping pong players are soon going to be pelting me with soccer, basket and bowling balls!

Max Lucado says “Your pain has a purpose.  Your problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end—the glory of God.  In my heart I know this!  I know I should be offering up my pain, heartaches and struggles for others who are suffering and for the glory of God.  And, I should be an example to the world, that with God’s help, even the most difficult things in life can be handled with strength, grace and a cheerful, grateful heart.

A good friend posed this thought, if God is timeless; can’t we go back after the fact and offer up our suffering?  Even though we may not have handled it well the first time, can’t we ask for forgiveness and offer it up now?  I don’t know, that gets into the logistics of how God thinks and works and He assures us in the bible that our ways are not His.  I guess I can hope.  Even though I blew it, if I’m truly sorry for my ill behavior, and offer it up now, that He will use it for His Glory and the suffering of others.

I have a fear, that like my nightmare of having to repeat 12th grade over and over, I am going to be tested repeatedly for a long time.  I think I’m just going to have to learn the hard way, for like my kids, I see myself as stubborn and set in my very bad habits.  I am grateful though, that I have a loving Father who doesn’t lose patience with me.  One that will test me repeatedly until I DO get it right, so that one day I can be with him in paradise!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is it Happy (HA HA!) Hour, I Need a Laugh!

I’m feeling overwhelmed and frustrated lately.  I have a lot on my plate, and I’m behind on several things.  Not feeling in the mood to write today, I thought, what I would really like to do is plop down in front of TV and watch I Love Lucy or something else that will make me laugh.  Why laughter?  Why not a drama or action/adventure movie?  And is this feeling of need for laughter a physiological need, or just typical feelings of being overwhelmed, not knowing where to start, so I’ll procrastinate a bit longer? 

Fighting the urge, I press on; doing what I know needs to be done.  In the end, I know that I will feel really good once I’ve accomplished something and marked something off my list.  But, the nagging feeling for laughter won’t leave.  Maybe I need both.  And while I’m at it, I probably could use some exercise and some good fuel, instead of the junk I’ve been consuming lately.

What is it about doing the things I should do and need to do that sends me running to bed, where I pull the covers over my head, in hopes that it will all go away?!  I’m no doctor but my guess is that it is a lot of stress!  In this busy society, we all have it.  Some manage it better then others.  I don’t manage it well at all.  I think the way I feel today is an indication that I’m completely overrun right now.

Logically, I’m pretty sure working on one task at a time, marking things off my list systematically, eating good food, exercising vigorously, adding some humor in my life, taking some time to rest, spending some quality time with the Lord and my family would go along way when it comes to stress management.  I just don’t know how to implement all that stuff in my already overrun, busy, life.

I was reminded of this article today, Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke .  I haven’t found any extra time to watch a comedy, read the funnies or find a joke, but maybe it’s something I can work toward.  In the mean time I’m putting on some great music and getting back to work!  If I accomplish enough maybe then it will be time for Happy Hour aka comedic re-run time!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Oh! Those versatile O’s

I come from cereal eating people!  My brother lived for Fruity Pebbles.  My siblings would fight to the death for the last drop of milk and/or the last crumb of cereal in the box.  They are all still avid cereal eaters!

I married a man that thinks cereal is a major food group.  He eats it in a big bowl, slurping every milk drenched bite, until it’s gone.  He also gulps it dry from a cup, for a snack.  In his younger years he would awaken in the middle of the night, decide he was hungry and go have a bowl of cereal.  (I can’t eat ANYTHING in the middle of the night, let alone cereal.)

My kids love cereal!  I don’t allow sugar laden cereals in our home, and I don’t allow putting sugar on cereal, as I once did as a kid.  Still my kids eat bowls and bowls of cereal, dripping with milk.  Or, they eat it dry for a snack or they often beg me to make my homemade “Floor Sweepings” with it.  (Floor Sweepings – any form of trail mix – because it looks like something you swept off the kitchen floor.)

I was born without the cereal eating gene!  As a kid I never understood the whole cereal thing!  I don’t like milk, therefore why would I want to eat cereal?!  I did find that I could tolerate Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks, just slightly wet from milk.  Although, if I had been caught throwing away the milk left in the bowl after the cereal was gone, I’m sure I would have gotten it!  My mother is of the firm belief and often quoted to us “Use it up!  Wear it out!  Eat it all!”  As I got into high school I learned to like Product 19 and Special K, a little bit.  However, they had to have several spoons of sugar applied in order for it to be palatable and again BARELY wet with milk.  I also really liked Chex Mix, but my family assured me that didn’t count as cereal eating.

As an adult I did find two cereals that I enjoy, one straight out of the box with no milk, Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits Island Vanilla .  The other Nature's Path Organic Cereal, Corn Flakes, but I can only eat it with almond milk.  These cereals gave me a small glimpse into the life of my cereal eating family.  Even though I do enjoy these cereals, cereal is still not my first choice for any meal or snack.

I have to be honest, I do have one true, love affair, with one cereal, but I do not eat it the way typical people do.  I have a vague recollection of how I came to love this cereal.  As I remember it, I was baby-sitting three children, all day.  They asked for a snack, in particular popcorn.  Either they didn’t have it, or I didn’t want to make it (this was before microwave popcorn), so as I was rifling through their pantry I came across the following recipe.  Hot Buttered Cheerios!  It was close enough to popcorn in my mind, so I fried up a batch.  I have no memory of whether the kids liked it or not, but I fell in love!  I have specific memories, during my high school years, of watching certain TV shows and enjoying those hot O’s!

As an adult I have had them here and there, but less often, mainly because it’s expensive to cook up a large batch (no generic brand compares) and I’m usually watching my calories.  The Director and the five experiments have also come to love my kind of cereal eating, so if by chance I do make a batch, I have to make enough for seven people.  Not something I do often.  However, Cheerios are always in our house, mainly because they are so versatile and yummy!

Cheerios are a great first finger food for babies because they melt quickly.  And, if by chance they end up being swallowed whole, a child is less likely to choke because of the hole in the center of the O.  A quick search of the recipe section of the Cheerio web site and you’ll find 14 pages of yummy looking recipes using Cheerios.  There are tons of Cheerio crafts  for kids to do and there is even a Cheerio t-shirt line and Cheerio book line.  The books use Cheerios on the different pages to help complete the pictures of the book.  My children assure me that they are great with milk and right out of the box.  We often pack them as a quick snack on the go. And, if you happen to read my past post My Tinkle is Happy, Disobedience or Denial? you will find that (my boys assure me) Cheerios make great tinkle targets!

As for me, I’ll stick with hot buttered Cheerios, my one, true, cereal, love!