Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

He's b-a-a-a-a-ck

....AT WORK!

After 11 1/2 months of unemployment, my union electrician returned to the ranks of the working today.

As I reflect over this last year, I am awed by my husband and our heavenly father, but I am not at all surprised.  God has generously and abundantly met our needs at every turn, and my husband has worked harder and physically sacrificed his body more this year than ever before.  All for substantially less pay, but for the only material things in life that really matter - the roof over our heads, clothing to wear, and food to keep our bodies healthy.  All the while, being an outstanding husband and father, coach extraordinaire, friend and neighbor.

To make ends meet, he's delivered the newspaper 7 days a week, in the middle of the night, regardless of weather, illness or injury.  Without complaint, I might add.  And, remarkably, with his sanity and knowledge of who and whose he is in tact!  All because he loves the boys and me.  God has been wonderfully generous to me in countless ways....but I am most blow away by the gift he's given me in Bryan.

I typically wander through life with an immensely grateful heart, but this week that grateful heart is bursting at the seams.  This is a happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone

Truer words were never spoken.  

My sister-in-law shared this quote with me when I was pregnant with Zachary.  I thought I understood it at 7 months pregnant, and then I looked into my newborn child's eyes and had an even greater appreciation for the heart now beating outside my body.  And each time a new first arises, I feel it all over again.

Today's first is an after school function.  We have always been there to drop the kids off at school (and church, playdates, parties, etc.) and pick them back up.  Door-to-door basically.  Sure, we have shared carpooling with friends, but with each new carpooling scenario I feel a tinge of anxiety on the first day about the safety and whereabouts of my child.

Today...  It's not another hand-picked mom that I am trusting with my child.  I'm trusting my child.

He's got to get from point A to point B - inside the walls of the school - for an after school party.  We are trusting him to do this.  It really should be pretty simple, but I think I will be a little nervous until I see him after the party

What if he doesn't show up?  Wanders off?  Will anyone call us if he doesn't make it to the party?  Do they do a headcount?  Check names off a list?

I resisted the urge to email the party coordinator and tell her specifically how to keep my kid safe.  This is not her first rodeo and I can't be that mom.

We talked with Zachary about what we expect of him after school....and how we fully expect to see him immediately after the party.  I am sure he will do exactly as he should, but I can't help feeling as if my heart is beating outside my body today.

Praying today that our heavenly father protects this child, as he discovers the world on his own accord.  Not just today, but everyday.  After all, our purpose is not to raise a full-grown child, but to prepare an independent, confident, capable young man to stand on his own two feet and not forever need a hovering mother [or father].

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I had a noodle date!

Did you read that post title in your best Po's Daddy's voice from Kung Fu Panda?  My kids will totally love and appreciate that title.  That is, assuming they read this blog...which Luke won't since he can't.  Can't read, that is.

Anyway...  I digress.

As I was on my way to pick Luke up from school today, I was trying to think of something special to do for lunch.  A picnic?  Meet a friend at Chic-fil-a?  Just come home and clean the inside of the van together?  (You know how kids love to help...and it was a beautiful day!)

As we were pulling away from school, I'd honestly decided to come home and clean the van.

Then...  My friend Sarah was waving us down.  She had a voucher for an entirely free lunch for two at Noodles & Company, but was unable to use it.  She wondered if Luke and I might like to go on a date.

The Chic-fil-a is just across the street from the new Noodles & Company, so I clearly had no aversion to the drive.

So...  We gladly accepted her kind offer and headed off for an afternoon date.  We arrived about an hour before our reservation, so we walked the mall.  We window shopped, tried on jewelry and admired handbags, laughed about oddly posed mannequins, played on the escalator, made new friends in the play area, declined a new cellular service, and even found twenty bucks!

Then we had lunch.  Yummy.  Free!

And after, we wandered over to see what all the fuss is about at the American Girl store.  I didn't even like dolls when I was a child, but I'd imagine that this store is a dream come true for many little girls.  Luke liked all the bank-breaking accessories - strollers, typewriter, dogs, trundle bed, the tepee, horses.  His favorite was the tree house.  Let this serve as a clue to not ever enter a Lego store.  I can only imagine...

It was a wonderful day.  Bryan got a huge kick out of me recently saying that I didn't see how anyone would ever want to have nine children.  I didn't mean it in any hateful way; I was merely meaning that I don't know how I could possibly get this sort of one-on-one time very often with a larger family -- and I just adore the precious occasions of "only you and me time" with our kids.

Thank you, Sarah, for sending Luke and me on a date.  I hope to one day be able to repay the favor!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PE Calendar

Zach's PE teacher is a rock star.  She's so awesome that I'm thinking of double majoring - Elementary Education and Health and Physical Education.  Bryan will be thrilled to hear this.  Maybe I'm just happy and delirious and will wake up with a clear head (and only ONE major) in the morning.

She does a lot to teach the kids about nutrition and healthy eating.  Zach is frequently telling us which of our dinner items are fruits, veggies, whole grains...and of course the occasional "no food" like McDonald's french fries.  Thanks, Miss O.

But my favorite thing that she does is the monthly PE homework calendar.  Did you know that the surgeon general recommends an hour a day of physical activity for children pre-K through 12th grade?  With only 7 hours in a school day, it is easy to see how this is not doable within the confines of the school curriculum.  So, Miss O. sends home the calendar each month and we do physical activity as a family just about every night.  This month the activities range from bouncing on a trampoline for 20 minutes, to playing hopscotch, to playing throw and go (Zach's creation), to riding your bike for 30 minutes, to taking your dog for a walk.  Can you tell that she let the kids make activity contributions this month?  Last month we played capture the flag and freeze tag and rolled down Jared and Melissa's hill into our yard.  I love how the activities encourage not only Zachary to get active, but our entire family.  And I love that we are spending this time together.

The last time I played hopscotch was on my elementary school playground with my favorite little girlfriends.  And capture the flag and freeze tag were fun games to play with neighborhood kids when I was growing up.  It is so fun to relive those games now with our children.  I'm watching that calendar for kick the can!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coffee moms

Every morning, on the way to drop Zach off at school, I pass what I refer to as the "Coffee Moms Club".  At 8:35 every weekday morning, this group of women can be found at the end of a driveway, still in their jammies, standing around, drinking coffee together.  I assume that they have just gotten their school kids off for the day.  Their younger children play together as the moms talk.  When I drive back by - less than ten minutes later - the club has adjourned.  Garage doors are shut.  Everyone has presumably returned into the comfort of their homes.

I love seeing them every morning.  I have no idea who they are - I've never even come close enough to look at their faces.  But, from a distance, they appear to be good friends who enjoy starting their day off with one another.

They remind me of my friends.  Those women who have built me up over the years...  Praying for me.  Encouraging me.  Helping to form me into the woman I am today. 

With such a busy school schedule right now, there is very little time to get together with girlfriends.  But every single morning I think of them and praise God for the way they've blessed my life.

He can tie!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Lately I have been thinking about the influence parents have on their children's lives.  A parent's influence is either for the betterment or destruction of a child; it is generally not neutral.  I was shattered by my parents.

But God took the pieces of my shattered self and put me back together; creating an incredible, one-of-a-kind, purposeful mosaic.  As only God can.

Remember when we thought Luke might have had cancer last summer?  In that first week, I shook my finger at God.  I was angry and I told him as much.  I said things along the lines of:  "I've given you all of me. I endured years of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to love me most, I've trusted you in my recovery, and I've committed to giving my adult life to ministering to the hearts of abuse survivors for your glory.  I forbid you to place a minute of Luke's life in discomfort or suffering!"  As a mom, it was unthinkable for my child to undergo a single day of cancer treatment.  I was territorial.  Forbidding God!

Never mind that God is the Father of all creation.  That Luke is actually God's and not mine.

In that moment, I was throwing my brokenness at God and claiming that it was sufficient to cover my entire family of four!

As I look at it today, I see the sillyness (and hypocrisy) of my position.  God restored twenty-seven years of dysfunction, brokenness, and sin in my life.  Surely, if Luke had had cancer, God would have used it for his glory as well.  He is trustworthy and ever-present.  God is the only thing that can sufficiently triumph over tragedy.

Earthly parents are in a powerful position.  It is my prayer that parents everywhere would opt to build young people rather than end up with grown-ups in need of restoration...  But, as long as we have the freedom of choice, there will be those who make the wrong choices.

I praise God for his infinite love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, patience, healing and comfort.  God has healed my heart - and mine is not a unique story.  He is in the business of healing, loving, guiding and providing.  For that, I am immensely grateful and humbled.  He takes the wrecks that people have created and turns them into his beautiful masterpieces...and calls us his children.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name." Psalm 23:3

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." Psalm 34:18

Monday, November 8, 2010


On Sunday morning, October 31, I  checked Facebook as usual.  One of my friends had written "Can't wait to get through this day and move on to the real holidays."

While I appreciate her point, I am feeling more and more each year that Halloween is a real holiday.  Not the gory part,  but get this...  We spend the "real" holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter - with our families.  There is not enough time to fit in parties with all of our friends, and certainly not an entire neighborhood of acquaintances and school families whom we really like and would enjoy getting to know better.

Halloween has become that time for us.  And - bonus - the kids get to play dress up and parade around the neighborhood, bumping into their buddies at each stop, collecting chocolate.  All while Mom and Dad make small talk with parents manning the doors or taking kids out for this one night of costumes-friends-and-candy bliss.  They love it.  We love it.

Our Halloween tradition for eight years has been to go across the street for Jim and Diane's annual chili dinner party.  We always arrive late, as we've still got little ones to take door-to-door and everyone else's kids are wrapping up high school (if not already all grown up).  These past two years we have added a stop next door, for Jared and Melissa's annual Halloween party.  At the party next door, they allowed Zach to judge a "best dressed" contest and they had goodie bags for the few children in attendance.  Across the street, after trick-or-treating what felt like forever, we collapsed and allowed Diane to feed us.  Zach fell asleep in the chair in their living room.  It's like home over there.

We've come to really love Halloween.  It is certainly not a holiday celebrating our risen savior or giving thanks for the countless blessings poured out on us by Him,  but is such a special time of fellowship for our community of friends and neighbors.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Only you and me days

Zachary was our only child for two years and ten months. He loved it. He loves having a little brother too, but he relished in having Mom and Dad all to himself in those early years.

Now Zach is in school all day everyday, and Luke is loving his small doses of being the only child. Often, Bryan and I go out to lunch with Luke after school on Tuesday or Thursday. Luke's demeanor is completely different than it is after 4pm. He is giddy and affectionate - and he knows the world revolves around just him, even if just for a couple of hours.

Zachary hasn't been feeling well these past couple of days. He's been laying low, generally camped out on the couch watching a movie, or sitting quietly with a book or some art. Luke, on the other hand, has been bouncing off the walls with energy. Playing with Will next door, swinging in our backyard, doing hopscotch on the driveway, dressing up in costumes. He even had a birthday party with kids from school today. Since his brother has not been up to playing much, I have been the substitute playmate. Luke calls it "only you and me" time. We had an entire "only you and me day" on Thursday.

I just love it. He's rarely tender, slow, content to be close. But... On "only you and me days" that is exactly what we get.

Tonight I opted to read my American Government in the basement, sitting beside him while he played Wii. Every couple of minutes I'd catch him looking and me and smiling as if he'd just won the lottery. 

He. Was. So. Happy.

I love only you and me time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Luke is not my picture taking child.  He generally starts to whine and hide the second the camera comes out.  Getting him to cooperate is no easy feat...  But, today he didn't mind my taking pictures as we played out in the yard.  So long as I didn't ask him to pose.

This is Luke.  So happy, mischievous and playful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God time

Our small group meets on Tuesday nights.  Last week we discussed the need to recognize and seize God time.  Those moments when he puts us in a situation to minister to the needs of others, receive ministry, or experience the love and community of others.  I came away from our meeting last week inspired to slow down and allow God to use my time in His way.

The past week has been amazing.

I had a ton to do.  A ton.  Each morning I prayed for God-ordained moments and for Him to honor my time, allowing me to accomplish what was on my to-do list (school deadlines are not negotiable), as I paused for each of those moments that God laid out for relationships.  He delivered in mighty ways.

By Sunday I felt so behind on my schoolwork that I actually told Bryan that I didn't think I could possibly finish with my degree in hand.  I had felt that I needed the entire weekend for schoolwork, but my family also needed me.  I chose to commit almost all of the weekend to my family, expecting that God would help me figure out how to get through my schoolwork on Monday (in time for my 8am and noon deadlines on Tuesday).  As I worked through what my schedule would surely need to look like, I decided that I would have to skip today's class to meet that noon deadline.  But, as I worked Monday evening, the words flowed freely and both assignments were completed before 10pm.  I went to bed knowing I would go to class this morning.

There is a girl in my class who I was convinced did not like me.  She never looks at me.  She always seems angry and annoyed.  She is pretty hateful and impatient.  She oozes "get lost".

Honestly, as I've taken all of that in, I'd become intimidated by her and just wanted to skate through the rest of the semester without having to talk to her.

Then she spoke today.  She gave an impromptu speech about psychological health.  She shared that she'd missed the last two weeks because she'd been in a psychiatric hospital as a result of an attempted suicide.  The entire time she talked, she looked straight at me.  She shared a little about her internal struggles, her depression, her "stupid" behavior, her need for counseling and healing.  She looked at me and smiled when she said "It's because of the meds that I'm able to make eye contact with you."

After class, she and I walked down the hall together alone.  She shared with me that she'd been sexually abused as a child and had just told her mother about it six months ago.  Her mother feels that she should "just get over it" and stop talking about it - in fact, Mom discouraged her speech, but this remarkable young lady gave it anyway.  She allowed me to hug her twice, even telling me how much she enjoyed being held.  I am so proud of her.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to talk so openly about abuse, suicide, and depression.

I am reminded through this that sometimes people push us away not because they despise us, but because they relate to us.  And every single individual has been created by and is important to God.  I don't want to loose sight of that truth.  May God give me mercy and grace for others abundantly, and give me eyes to see those in need of His comfort.  And may he continue to bless me with God time in my relationships.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of life....inadvertently missing life.