Thursday, November 9, 2017

Return Calls

Have you ever called and left a message or emailed a loved and trusted friend about an important matter only to wait and wait to hear a reply and not get one? How does it feel?

If this is someone you love and trust, do you simply wait, do you send another correspondence, do you call again, do you stalk their answering machine or voice mail?

Do you assume they are thinking about your dilemma and trying to come up with good advice, an appropriate response, or even an answer?

Or do you assume they just don't want to be bothered by you, think your problem is silly, or that your issue doesn't really merit their time?

I have had a struggle that has lasted for years, one that I never expected, and one that has seemed insurmountable. I have been stalking God about it for a long time, and prayed and prayed.

I started with prayers of "please fix this, " to "help me understand," to "help me change me." And finally, "Hey are you even there? Really, are you listening, because I've called on this one about 5,000 times and have you checked your machine lately? It must be broken!" 

Funny how my talks with God on this one have become. Because I really want it fixed for crying out loud and fixed now already! To get to the point that I'm asking if He's even there listening was a super low point for me. And this time, I let Him know that that's how I was feeling, ALONE.

You know what He did? He heard me! And this is what happened. Shortly after this prayer I had two conversations with dear and trusted friends that I admire greatly. Conversations that I didn't initiate about this problem. Yet these two dear friends described issues and heartaches very similar to mine! I didn't really have to share too much about my issue, because I knew they too were in pain, and suddenly knowing I wasn't alone helped. More than that, knowing that He was listening and wanted me to know I was heard and that I'm not alone filled my empty, aching heart.

In the many times I have earnestly sought Him in prayer, I may not have gotten the answers I was seeking. For example, "fix this." He hasn't "fixed it," but that doesn't seem to be the plan right now to fix it. It seems like there is much, much more that needs to happen, not only for me, but for the others involved. "Help me understand," while I don't understand why this is going on, or what He has in store for us in all this, I do understand some things much better now. "Help me change me," that is definitely happening. I am changing. And realizing how much I need to change. I often joke that I stopped praying for patience years ago, because I really didn't want him to make me learn patience. He is helping me have experiences that are teaching it to me anyway. Yes, God has a sense of humor.

I am so grateful for these two friends who don't even know they were part of a Heavenly answer that day. But I know them well enough to know that they recognize promptings and by acting on them, they were an answer to prayer to me. They were the return phone call/email/text that I very much was begging for. They filled me with God's love. I'm also grateful that He gave me the gift to see that as His return call. It makes me wonder how many times I may have overlooked His answers because I was looking for the "fix."

I'm not going to stop calling Him on this. I still need answers and guidance. But hopefully I will be more aware of the answers He does send. Hopefully, I will also be wise enough to hear his Spirit whisper to me when He is trying to answer someone else's desperate plea.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pray On!

I was listening to a Christian radio station when someone shared a thought that has resonated with me in so many ways. Please know this is not my thought, but I have to share because it was amazing.

The idea was this, what would happen if God answered the prayer you said this morning?

Would anyone else's life be affected?

Did your prayers include anyone else? If so, were they specific? When you were calling on Heaven, did you have a purpose in mind?

I couple this with some recent thoughts of my own.

Am I so busy going to the Lord with my own agenda, have I even thought of Him? What did I think? Did I think to express my love to Him? I do that each morning with my family, do I also do that with my Heavenly Father? Have I asked what His agenda may be and how I may be useful to Him that day?

There was a man in our church who I loved to listen to his prayers, because he truly recognized the Lord for who He is. He would begin his prayers with words like these, "Almighty God, creator of all that was, is and ever will be..." and then he would give thanks. That greeting to the Lord always humbled me in my seat, to reverence the Creator.

Have I taken the time to notice his daily gifts to me?

There was a different man at church who I remember thanking the Lord for "the beautiful crisp, white glittering snow that blanketed the trees." He was so purposeful in noticing the beauties of the daily gifts of God that listening to him pray made me notice those gifts more fully and also be thankful.

There was a woman years ago that prayed as though the Lord was sitting directly in front of her. She spoke to Him in reverence and conversation, that made me at times take a peak and see if He was right there! Her prayers made me think about the relationship of Him as my Heavenly Father.

The prayer group I belonged to taught me about the power of group prayer. Many voices of many faiths all praying to the same Being who loved them all. Thanking, asking, noticing in all ways.

I also read somewhere that "the prayers of yesterday are not enough for the world today."  That gave me pause. Are my prayers enough? What does that mean?

Am I acknowledging God for who He is?

Do I recognize His bounteous blessings?

Am I being specific in who/what I am praying for?

Am I praying for others and their welfare as fully as I do for myself?

If just one of my prayers in one day was answered, would anyone else be blessed? Would my Heavenly Father know that I appreciate who He is? Would He know that I see and recognize His hand in my life, my surroundings, my world? Would I feel His presence still with me because the conversation was ongoing?

I have to say, I need to be more thoughtful in my prayers. I'm so grateful to have heard this idea. I hope that today it will help you in your relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I pray that we will be able to see God more fully in our lives, world, and the miracles all around us, and that as we do, we will acknowledge His greatness, we will trust His ability and we will help bring to pass His plans.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Christians: Get Over Yourselves!

Last week I received a "share" on Facebook that sort of sickened me.

It was a clip of a preacher who had been visited by someone of another faith, and in this clip it was pretty clear that the preacher felt he had the corner on the market on faith, prayer and knowledge and what these other people believed was completely wrong.

While I am not of their faith, it saddened and sickened me for a few reasons.

First of all, mocking another for their beliefs, is not only sad, but as Christians, it is so beneath us.

Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, the Savior made it clear that it is our job to "love one another, as I have loved you."  Let that sink in a minute.

Who are we to decide whether someone else is right or wrong in their belief of the Bible? You are entitled to your opinion, but even if you disagree with someone else's interpretation, it is not up to you to decide if they are right or wrong. Not your job! It is His to judge.

The Savior himself, expressed His displeasure with the Pharisees who were judging others. They judged Him, the Savior, for not washing before dinner. And he didn't mince words with them calling them "fools" and saying, "Woe unto you".

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been accused of, or not considered Christian, because I am the "wrong brand".  Really?

It doesn't really bother me, because I know better, but it bothers me that as religious people, we tolerate that kind of teaching from those within our churches. Have you ever been in church and heard another denomination maligned? I have and it drives me nuts!! Rarely have those people ever known someone of that faith, watched them hold onto their faith through trials, or asked questions of what they really believe, rather than what "they've heard."

Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, if they weren't (fill in the blank with a religion) they probably wouldn't have that trial/problem.

Last I checked, I don't know of a single religion whose people don't have problems and trials. Why? Maybe because God is trying to make us more like Him and more reliant on Him.

I wasn't raised as a young child in the religion I have chosen, I went to a private school of another religion, and it was there that several of the questions they couldn't answer helped me to find the beliefs I have now. However, even though that church wasn't where I wound up, I'm so grateful for the goodness of its people and for many of the teachings, as well as not being able to answer my questions.

Let's face it, we all want to be right. But we will never be right by mocking others, not loving others, not allowing ourselves to ask questions of our own faith as well as ask genuine questions of others. And then if we need to agree to disagree, so be it. The Judge will take care of it in the long run.

Our greatest challenge is to love others. If we can do that and bring others to Christ, we have no need to fear. But if we mock each other and send people away from the Savior because we are too busy judging and being right, we lose. We lose BIG.

I'm not perfect in my faith, but frankly, I don't know anyone who is. We are not here to be perfect, someone already did that. We are here to follow His example the best we can. That may come in calling out the Pharisees, but more often it will be in reaching out to the sick, the poor, the hurting and suffering, the lonely, those faltering in their faith.

So my fellow Christians it is time to get over ourselves and get on to being the best follower of Christ that we can be. Let's embrace the good things we see in each other as we practice our faiths, as we see the goodness in other churches, in other believers.

There probably has never been a time where we are needed more collectively than right now. So let's unite in our faith in Christ and uphold each other in our respective faiths. Let's respect each other's faith and show this world what believers really are all about: love.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Get Your Game On!

Have you ever been on a winning team? You know, the one that may have lost a few games during the season, but really nothing to be worried about and your team kept going on and on defeating in game after game.

How did that feel? Were you so proud to wear your jersey or uniform? Did you like it when people wanted a play by play of some of your hardest games? Which do you remember better, the easy wins or the tough ones?

Do you realize you get to choose to be on the winning team right now?

We know at the end of this, God will win.

It is as simple as that. Which is funny because usually we have to wait game after game throughout a long season to find out who the victor will be.

But in this, we know that God will win. We have to decide, are we going to be on His team?

The great thing is, you don't have tryouts, He takes you as you are. It doesn't matter how tall, how fast, how smart, how knowledgeable. He will train you throughout the season. He will give you plays and He will show you how to improve your game in whatever capacity you are playing.

He will give high fives when you have done well and pat you on the back or dry your tears when you lose or mess up.

And He will keep putting you back in, no matter what. No one sits the bench on His team, all play.

It won't matter how long or short our season is, or what position he chooses to play us at, if we are on His team, we win!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tree, Bush or Rock?

Years ago we went to tour the Bio Sphere II. It was a huge experiment here in the United States where scientists got together and created a "mini earth" and locked themselves in for a year to learn about it. They could only eat what they had inside, which was mostly what they harvested. There was a rain forest, and an ocean, a desert area, farm area, etc.

On the tour, they used to spend a lot of time telling what the scientists discovered. One thing they said really struck us. They said that the trees grew very tall and straight very quickly. But then they would break off. They puzzled over this and wondered why they grew so well, but didn't grow strong. Then they realized that the trees were lacking something, wind.

In order for a tree to grow properly, it needs wind.

It can grow tall and it can grow quickly and have its leaves to photosynthesize, but it cannot grow strong without the resistance of wind.

This week I was listening to a pod cast that reminded me that God is like the Master Gardener, he knows what he needs to prune  in order for it to produce a bounteous harvest. That pruning may not feel so good to the bush at the time to have things snipped off, and sometimes even branches cut off so it can become beautiful and fruitful.

After talking to a friend who is facing a very long, very hard, very uphill battle, I was thinking about diamonds. To get a brilliant diamond, it has to first be found, mined, and then ground and cut by a master diamond cutter to become this beautiful sparkling gemstone. That sounds like a really awful process, but it is necessary if the diamond is to be worth anything.

There may be times in our lives where we are like the trees, needing some wind to blow to make us strong, at times even some really strong winds.

Other times we may need some pruning, have some dead or diseased ideas or traits 'cut off' so that we can then produce our very best.

Then there are times, like the diamond, we may have a lot of hard stuff that needs to be chiseled off, ground down, to reach that gem which then has to be cut, to shine brilliantly.

I don't know too many people right now whose lives are just smooth sailing. Many put on a good face and make it look like everything is ok or even fabulous, but that may be the moment they are just needing a little breeze in their lives. For others, it can look and seem as though they are being tumbled around with other rocks, chipping off the hard outside covering.

Whatever place you may be in in your life, know that The Master knows exactly what He is doing in you. He created you for His purpose and He knows what that is. Maybe you will be a strong tree that will provide shade, relief and protection to others.

Maybe he created you to produce a bounteous harvest of words or kind works. He knows what and when to prune so you can bring forth an incredible harvest of goodness.

Maybe you will be the diamond, that has to be ground down and cut and polished to become a valuable treasure.

Or maybe you will find seasons of all of these in your life.

I do.

Sometimes it is incredibly hard to remember all of this, especially when it seems the gale force winds won't stop. It can be so hard to remember there is purpose in all the struggles and hard things that seem to be trying to crush the life, when in actuality they are purposed to give a greater life.

I'm writing it down so maybe I will remember a little better.

Grow strong my friend, the harvest is coming and you will shine incredibly. He knows His plan for you.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

Today in America it is Independence Day, also known as the 4th of July. It is a day off for many, marked by picnics, bbq's, pool parties, apple pie, and hot dogs.

Historically it is the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed. 56 men, in effect, signed their lives to that document. They become traitors to the King. They were no longer wanting British rule or protection. John Hancock signed it big, he knew there was no going back, nor did he want to. Many of these men lost fortunes because of this, some lost the most; they lost their lives. We can never underestimate the incredible sacrifice these men made to forge a new nation. Nor should we ignore the months and years of discussion, contemplation, concern, and for many, prayer that went in to this decision. It was life altering as well for every person living in this country at that time.

This morning my husband sat our boys down and talked about the Declaration. A copy hangs on our living room wall. It was signed 241 years ago. 56 names are inscribed on it. I often look at those names boldly signed. Who can possibly comprehend the feelings of these men as they did so?

Great freedoms come at great cost.

How many millions of men and women world wide have lost their lives in the quest for freedom? Freedom from tyranny, oppression, and evil.

Maintaining freedom has taken  a lot of work and sacrifice since that original Declaration. It took a civil war to gain the freedoms of the slaves, and continual battles since then to maintain and expand those freedoms.
Our country has battled for our rights as well as the rights of others, something that I'm grateful for as a citizen.

When I think about this, I cannot help but see a parallel.

Our Savior gave Himself so we could have freedom from the wages of sin. He gave Himself up at great cost. Maintaining our freedom from sin takes work. It takes us each and every day choosing to continue on the path we have chosen in following our Savior.

It comes as we battle the sins that do so easily beset us. Sins of coveting that which our neighbor has, the sin of turning away someone in need, the sin of bearing false witness against a neighbor, or killing someone's reputation or their chance of success for our own gain.

I think a lot about our Founding Fathers. While they were imperfect men, I believe they had great intentions and they were willing to put their lives on the line for it.

I've been asking myself today what I want to declare independence from.

I declare independence from the false notion that I have to be perfect and that my family needs to be perfect.
I declare independence from thinking my best efforts aren't good enough, because someone else could do it better.
I declare independence from lack of faith. From lacking the faith that God will indeed help me make it through this life.
I declare independence from thinking that I'm not enough. Like the widow's mites, my little bit given from the best in me will always be enough.
I declare independence from the fear of raising my children. Each day I worry that I'm not doing enough to teach them, guide them, be patient with them.
I can declare this independence today because like our Founding Fathers, I believe it is the right thing to do. It is time to sign my name with a big flourish and trust that my Father has this all in His hands. That each and every day I can let go of my fears and grasp on to faith and trust. What I hope to see happen may not, but if I turn my life to his hands, He can definitely steer me through what needs to happen in my life.

Each and every day it is my battle to align myself with Him and what He would have me do.
As I do this, I know I cannot go wrong.

Knowing that gives me freedom!

What will you declare independence from?

Today and every day, I wish you a happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Realm Squasher

Last night as my husband and I were talking about a particular child who is in a competitive sport, but doesn't want to be, we realized that competing against others just isn't his thing.

Thinking about it in the light of day and examining my heart, I've come to some ugly and true realizations.

I have a child who HATES school. He will never come home with a straight A report card.

I have a child who struggles with some really serious anxiety issues. To the point of not being able to go to the bathroom when he needs to because he is overly anxious.

I have a child who was repeatedly told to fix some things in his performance to get a better score and try as he might he couldn't, until we took the pressure of competing off and then the improvement came.

What does that mean for me?

Here's where it gets ugly.

I have to realize that I am never going to be able to brag about my child's academic successes. He probably won't go to an ivy league school (bonus: we don't have to pay for ivy league). No matter how smart he is, he will not achieve the successes that come in the "regular" academic world. I also have to accept that what I always hoped for him, may not be what makes him happy.

I have a child who will never compete in the sport he enjoys, because competition shuts him down from making progress. So we will see his progress. No one else will, and there are no ribbons or trophies for those who don't compete.

We may have to homeschool the one who is so anxious he spends too much time in the bathroom agonizing over his fears. No smiling from risers and cute waves into the audience.

All those bragging rights about acceptance letters, trophies and ribbons, Christmas concerts and Spring Sings with waving smiling kiddos, are not going to be our regular world. We take them when we can and thoroughly enjoy them. I am becoming increasingly aware that I will not have the kind of Facebook posts, or Instagram pictures that let the world know how amazing and wonderful my kids are.

I'll admit it. It kind of makes me sad.

It makes me sad, that as their mom I wanted/needed bragging rights.

That even for a moment I wanted people to look at me and say "She is an amazing mom, look at what her kids have achieved."

That doing what's right for my kids may have taken a back seat to what all the expectations are for those who are "successful."

Writing this I realize I keep saying "my kids."  These are not my kids, they are precious sons of a Heavenly Father who has let them come to my home for a little while. They are children of God. They just happen to be in my care for a while.

I need to stop looking for the world to give them trophies and accolades because those will all go away.

I need to look for Him to give me guidance as to how to raise them.

I need to see them as He does. Just as importantly, they need to see themselves as He does.

I need to stop seeing them as potential Facebook fodder and more as precious gifts, gifts that will mature and move away.

I need to help them realize who they are and that no college acceptance or rejection, last place trophy or concert defines who they really are in my eyes or His.

I need to realize that in the scholastic realm, sports realm, I can do it all realm, our kiddos may not be participants. Ultimately those realms don't matter. They may seem important for a while, and they can teach important things. But in the wholeness of life, they are dust collectors, and pride enhancers. I don't need any more dust collectors. I'm already struggling with my pride, I don't need any more to get over, thank you very much.

So I guess I am a realm squasher. Pretty sure I might put that on my next resume. It's actually starting to sound catchy to me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dancing in the Storm

I recently returned from the privilege of joining with several other women in taking 27 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 to camp.

In the woods.

In tents.

For five days.

And it was fantastic!

It was such an honor to be surrounded by these amazing young girls and awesome leaders! And I feel like I had one suspicion confirmed for me: girls smell better than boys. Even after five days of camping.

I digress.

There was an afternoon that was set aside for us to take the girls to a lake and do some canoeing. Just after lunch as we were talking about it, the sky quickly started clouding up. As I looked, I couldn't help but think about the coming storm and what that would do to our chance of canoeing. But, undaunted we set out. On the way, it started raining. I'm not talking a light sprinkle, or even a steady drip. I'm talking pouring!

Then it went from pouring to hailing! Yes, hailing!!!!

But we continued to the lake. Hoping that maybe the storm had already passed the lake. No such luck!

When we got there, the storm was coming. We said a prayer that if possible, the storm would pass us, but if not that all would be well.

So we waited out the storm.

We did it dancing.

We turned on the music in one of the trucks and danced in the parking lot. We got rained on just a bit.

Sure enough, about a half hour later the storm had worked its work and the clouds were skeedaddling away, we got the girls on the water and had a great time. We even saw a bald eagle!

Here's what I took away from this experience.

The storms will come.

Sometimes, when we pray, the Lord will remove the storm and get it clearly out of our midst.

But often, He allows the storm and gives us a chance to wait it out.

But why? Why doesn't He just make it go away already? What about our plans?

Well, the storm has its purpose too. Maybe that bit of ground needs rain. Maybe that rain will put out a small fire. Maybe that lightning will start a needed fire. Maybe that storm will make us wait and learn patience. Maybe that storm will give us the chance to dance.

I don't know why some storms come to us.

I know in one of the big storms in my life I have been saying for a long time, "go away, I'm tired" but it hasn't gone away. I know I'm far more patient than I was years ago. I know I have far more endurance that I did before battling many storms. But I also know, I'm not there yet. I'm not at the end. He still has more for me to learn and experience.

And maybe, this time, or for just one day I will be wise enough to accept the storm, turn up the music and dance through it, knowing He has a purpose in it.

That may sound very easy and even idealistic. Right now, in the midst of the storm, it is even hard to write. But the reality is I need a break from looking at, wondering what will come of it, and trying to anticipate what will come next. I need to let go and just dance.

Do you?

If so, turn up the tunes, dance your little heart out and let the rain fall. It will fall no matter what, so we may as well turn our faces to it, let it wash us, and pull out that smile that may need dusting off from the storms we are in the midst of.

If you are on the other side of the storm, thank the Lord for helping you make it through and maybe you could turn on some music for someone who is in one. If you are headed into one, pull out your raingear: the scriptures, prayers, words of those who inspire you to find the Lord. And load up on music that uplifts and inspires you, and put your dancing shoes on. For those somewhere in the middle, don't give up!! Keep praying and fasting and holding to the promises of God.

And in the words of Lee Ann Womack, "I hope you dance!"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Best Darn Pencil Tapper

Right now, I have to say something that is just tugging on my heart.

It's awards time.

There are the awards ceremonies for the kids that have the best grades and have achieved amazing scholastic heights. And there are the kids who come home with the paper certificates that say things like "Best Door Greeter", or "Best Speller", "Most Cheerful", and so on.

There are times when I just think it's silly how many meaningless awards we give out, because we think everyone has to have one.

But now, as a Momma, there is an award I have to give. "Best Darn Pencil Tapper."

Because I have one. He is an amazing pencil tapper. He's got rhythym, and endurance (he can probably tap longer and harder than the honor students), and can drive an entire class nuts in record time.

Why does he deserve this award?

Watch out, this is where my heart is so full.

You see, this kid goes to school day after day and year after year putting on his "good face" when inside he is dying. No one else but his family gets to see that. None of his teachers have seen his absolute frustration knowing that no matter how hard he tries, no matter how much tutoring he goes to, he doesn't understand until about 2 months after the test, but by then he is already 6 or 7 other tests behind.

He gets the assignments in all his classes and his brain shuts down from overload. He thinks about all the assignments and realizes that it is like gathering feathers on a windy day. He will not be able to gather all that information from his brain, let alone compile it all into a brilliant paper with annotations.

After days of encouragement from his family he chooses one assignment, the one making a video, spends days on it, and turns it in late because he couldn't get it to export to the right place. And rather than ask for help, he silently, again, struggles knowing there was another thing he couldn't do right.

He looks at the other kids who put out papers as though Shakespeare lives in their back pockets, fly through the math like Einstein, and generally succeed at everything placed in front of them, and silently aches that that is not him.

Oh, he has gotten the paper certificates at times for being the best pencil sharpener, etc. but what I really wish is that his teachers could comprehend what is going on in his brain. How much he wants to succeed, and now after so many years of "school failures" doesn't believe it is possible, or shuts down completely after one failure, because really, why try anymore?

So for my son, and for all the other pencil tappers out there, I want to take a minute and honor you.

I applaud you for going anyway. For each and every day that you walk into those schools where no one really understands, way to go.

For trying over and over again, even if it is only because your mom or dad begged you to try again, because you love your parents you keep trying.

For not acting on the intense anger and frustration you feel about not being able to do it "right."

For being the nice kid, who really understands that there are other kids who also don't get it and you don't make fun of or belittle others or their ideas.

For being the class crack up, because without you some weeks, or months all that would happen would be the same old, boring, day to day stuff.

For being the kid who has a head full of miscellaneous ideas and info, because that is how you think and process in small, random bits.

For being the kid who has the wild and crazy ideas that make for fun videos, interesting science experiments and fun lunch times.

For being the kid who makes friends with everyone, because you know how it feels to be labeled, and looked down on.

There is so much to love about you and celebrate in you!

Your grades are really just a letter on a piece of paper. Yes, those letters can get you places, for a while, and I don't want you to give up on doing your best.

Those other parts of you, are the qualities you will carry into the rest of your life. When you are 40, no one will know or care what you got in High School English. But they will know if they can count on you to help in a crises, they will know if they can trust you with a burden they are carrying, they will know that if they fail, you will not see them as a failure.

Congratulations my pencil tapper!

You are the Best Darn Pencil Tapper I know!

I'm so proud of who you really are!

I love you!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Prime Real Estate

I will probably never forget our first house buying experience, which was years ago, and subsequent buying experiences since then.

We were shopping in a particular price point and seeing what we could get over a period of several weeks. We saw everything: cookie cutter homes where you could get lost trying to find yours because it looked like most of the other homes on the street, homes that were older and had charm, ones that had been "let go" and others that were "well maintained."  We weren't seeing what we were hoping for or really anything we wanted to invest our money in, especially when we were just starting out and this was the biggest investment either of us had ever signed our names to.

One day, taking a break, we decided to visit a new home subdivision and tour the houses.

They usually have several models at different price points and you tour all of them, which we did.
It didn't take long for me to utter, "I would never pay that much money for this house!" To which the realtor replied, "Then it's not the house for you."

I have come to realize that she meant more than she said. Of course, if I fell in love with it because it was everything I ever wanted, I would probably go to a lot of trouble to figure out a way to buy it. I would want to snatch it up immediately before anyone else could. It wouldn't be the house for me, if I couldn't see the potential in it.

If I put my house on the market, I will tend to want to sell it for what it is worth to me. I know all of its charms and perks. I know the quirks and flaws better than anyone. Some houses we have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into, to make it what we needed/wanted it to be. Because of what it has meant to me and my family and perhaps because of the joys or memories tied to it, that will elevate the price.  Because it means something to me.

How do you personally feel about being prime real estate?

Do you realize that you are?

I'm serious here.

Do you realize that God designed and built you just the way you are, just the way He wanted you? He knows all your charms and perks, He knows all your flaws and quirks. He knew the home He built and what you would be able to make of it.

Then He sent His Son to pay the highest price to get you back.

He paid that much for you! You are his cherished prize! He wants you back and the paperwork has already been signed!

How often do we feel we will never be enough? We can never make up for our mistakes, we can never fix what we have messed up. That a renovation is impossible because we just can't afford it.

He has already claimed you as PRIME REAL ESTATE! He is willing to make any necessary renovations. You have been paid for!!

Look at you! Do you need some touch ups? Maybe so, WHO DOESN'T????

But don't let that stop you from seeing yourself as He sees you!

And don't let that stop you from letting Him come settle in on your front porch or in your living room to share time with you and love with you. He wants to!

Don't forget the value of Prime Real Estate.

Image result for sold sign images

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

He Can Handle It

The other day I was reading some replies on a post someone made asking why people stopped going to church.

One response grabbed my heart.

It was from a young woman who said she quit going to church because she was mad at God.

Have you ever been mad at God?

I will admit it, I have.

Not just a little bit, a lot.

That is a really hard thing to admit out loud. But this anger came from utter and complete heartbreak. This wasn't just a "you didn't give me what I wanted" spoiled frustration, and I am in no way advocating that!

This was a "my heart is completely broken, I don't understand, why is this happening, where are you" kind of anger.

And this is truly the first time I have admitted it to anyone but Him.

I realize I probably am not supposed to admit this, this doesn't fit into the general, "don't worry, it's all in His hands", "He'll never give you more than you can handle", "it's all part of His plan" answers that we have all heard and probably all given or thought as we have heard someone else complain, or share about their anger.

Here is what I have come to in my full heartbreak anger.

He can handle it. He will handle it. He is absolutely listening and believe it or not holding you in your heartbreak.

See, after raging, hurting, being confused, feeling frustrated, alone and empty, I finally realize that He could handle all of it. He didn't stop loving me because I was ugly crying, or yelling at Him, or raging my feelings at Him.

Like any parent that truly loves their child, and because He is perfect and could do it even better, he can handle the rages, the rants, the broken-hearted cries, the pleading for things to be different, the "why did you do this to me", and everything else we do. Because He knows us and loves us perfectly. He wants us to grow to Him, like a sunflower to the sun. To look to Him and follow Him.

If that means we don't understand, it's okay. He does! He has the vision we don't have.

Maybe you are either one of those lucky ones who has never felt this way, or an amazing one who has your emotions completely under control and this doesn't make sense to you. That's ok.

But if you understand what I'm saying, just know that He is fully aware of how you feel. He's going to handle your hurt and one day through His grace and mercy and love, you will too.

The young woman I mentioned had lost her baby. It is a loss I cannot fathom! A heartbreak that is deep and consuming. Please know that you can go to Him in your anger. Or you can go back to Him when you are done being angry. He will be right there waiting for you, with open arms and a way to heal your broken heart.

After all, He knows a broken heart. He has watched His children over thousands of years. He has seen them through the good and the bad and the horrific. He watched His Son give up His life so that if we will believe and follow Him, we can go back home.

Can you imagine watching your child take on the pain, anger, hurt, frustration of everyone who would ever live? He did that as He watched His Son in the Garden of Eden.Can you imagine watching your child be beaten and abused by the very people whose punishment he had just taken?Can you imagine being asked, "Father if thou wilt remove this cup, and then in the selfsame breath that same child saying, "not my will, but thine, be done." Then He watched this child be crucified and die a most horrific death.

If anyone understands complete heartbreak and loneliness, He does. But He also knows triumph! That same child rose again! He conquered death! He became the Savior of the world! This could not have happened if the Father didn't allow it!

His purpose for each and every one of us is triumph!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Don't Understand My Washing Machine

I have been using a washing machine for the better part of 30 years and I have to say that now as an adult, I have issues with it.

What I don't understand is the settings.

Why isn't there a setting for disgusting boy P.E. clothes, that not only washes but then brings in boiling water to disinfect?

There needs to be a setting for kids that have been digging in the dirt in the backyard. It would have to withstand the rocks that are still in the pockets as well as the ground in dirt, grass stains, and squashed caterpillar that got kneeled on by a little one who isn't too coordinated yet.

There needs to be an extra large setting.You need a very large tub for the 16 towels it took for one kid to dry off after his shower.

It also needs to be able to wash large family loads with a minimal amount of water because, we are earth friendly for crying out loud!

There needs to be a super small tub that you can insert to wash the gross washrags that cleaned up spilled milk but didn't get rinsed out (insert gagging sound here).

My washer has a normal cycle. Really? Umm, that word doesn't even walk into our house, ever.

It also has a permanent press cycle. What on earth does that mean? I could use a permanently stained cycle, or an "I don't iron" cycle. Does permanent press even exist anymore? Oh that's right my washer is that old! Which I hear is good, because I have heard some major complaints about new washers!

I have a delicate cycle.  But I think it should be a very delicate cycle.
It should be a secret place for a mom to escape and take a bath and be massaged all at the same time while not really hiding from her children, because they would never look for her there anyway!

Yes, I've decided that the washing machine industry and I need to have a chat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Meds and Executive Function Disorder/ ADHD Our Journey

Disclaimer: I'm writing this post with permission from this child, in hopes that our experience/nightmare may help someone else.
Also, this is NOT intended to diagnose a child you know, this is only a description of our own experiences.

We have a son who is an amazing kid, ok they all are, but I'm going to focus on this one for this post.
He has a heart of gold. He's the kind of kid who has compassion for those who may not fit in, who are being picked on, etc. We have had more than one occasion where someone has thanked me for his goodness because he really helped their child to fit in, or just have a friend. He can talk to any adult any time and is able to put most people at ease. He loves to tell jokes, loves pranks, and is a class clown.
Ever since he was young we have known that he has a head for learning bizarre facts, he loves science and could tell you about most of the solar system by the age of 3. He loves reading and reads novels regularly. A fun part of his personality is that he gets just as excited about someone else's birthday as they do. He is as creative as the day is long. I will never forget looking out in the backyard and seeing the kiddie picnic table turned upside down and he and his brother dressed in makeshift costumes carrying toy rifles. He was standing in front of "the boat" as he was playing George Washington crossing the Delaware. He was often in costumes reenacting some historical event, using his brothers or stuffed animals as characters and could have them pretending for hours.

In spite of all this school has been nothing short of a nightmare.
He's an extremely auditory and visual learner. He could watch a Bill Nye the Science Guy episode once and nearly quote it verbatim, because he was interested in the subject matter, he could hear and see the experiments and he didn't have to write anything down.
Anything involving writing has been horrific. Not just for school. Writing requirements for scouts, church talks, etc. And his handwriting is nearly illegible.
When he reads, he reads for content, not the actual words and he can fill in pretty well with his imagination. So when he reads aloud to his siblings, he often miscues. But in the long run, if it hasn't changed the idea of the story he just blissfully goes on.
By the time he reached the end of 3rd grade, we realized he was falling behind in math. Plus he was also the smallest kid in his class and by that point, the bullying had more than taken its toll on his psyche. It was devastating to live through. So I home schooled him for a year. Worst year ever. I am a former school teacher and I can only say ugh!
No really, it was that bad. We did great with reading and history, in fact we read and discussed amazing novels, learned about early civilization. It was fantastic! Math was a nightmare. I even warned him often during the year that if he didn't get his math assignments done, he would continue working on them through the summer until they were, even if he missed going to the pool, birthday parties, etc.
Guess what? He missed a lot of things that summer, and I felt guilty as heck. Guilty because he was missing stuff and horrible because I couldn't figure out another way to help him.

We put him at a different school the next year, to avoid the stigma of being held back. He had amazing teachers who truly loved him and were kind and understanding. We did everything we could to keep him organized. He had a planner. He carried only a few folders. He was constantly late on assignments, or they were turned in squashed from the bottom of his backpack, or they just weren't turned in because he lost them. However, he learned a lot and loved the year and the next. Then we moved across the country.
We sent him to a charter school that was rigid and advanced. It was an awful experience. He got in trouble for tapping his pencil or his foot. In spite of tutoring all year, he barely made it through in math. He got bullied again and again.
At home, things were getting steadily worse! He was raging inside and often out. He took out his anger and frustration on everyone. Many times I personally did not handle it well. Often his brothers expressed their anger at him for how he treated them. He started retreating into his own world.

Then we started junior high. If you have forgotten those years, it's for the best.

He wound up getting thrown (literally) around. He failed classes. Finally, we decided to have him tested. A few weeks later he was diagnosed with Executive Function Disorder, also known as ADHD.
(I wrote about this in a prior post Executive Function Disorder a.k.a. ADHD)
Now being a former teacher, I was both happy for a diagnosis and stunned because he wasn't like several of my students that had also been diagnosed. He didn't bounce off the walls all the time. He wasn't generally in lala land. He could focus for long periods of time when he wanted to.
Also, I was scared to death of medication. I had many students over the years on Ritalin and didn't see that it actually did anything. It was just a pill they would leave class to take, they'd come back and things were mostly the same. Not going to do that to my child, no way! Also, I'm not big into meds. So, there you are.

We had a diagnosis, talked over plans with his teachers, got color coded folders for his classes and now would sit with him daily after school and find out what he learned in each class, what he had for homework and get it done. Each day was one on one for at least an hour after school. And yet his anger kept building, his grades didn't improve. He was going regularly for tutoring, but nothing.

His science teacher thankfully realized that he aced his pretests for the chapters so she would let him study other things during class. She knew he needed more. He had an engineering class he loved and did great in. He took a video production class and not only learned about filming and editing, but also became a news anchor which helped his self esteem a bit, as people recognized him.

Then he started high school.
It seriously was feeling like the unending nightmare saga. His anger, frustration and rage were at times epic. It was affecting every aspect of our home life and it had for years, just getting progressively worse. I was beginning to wonder who was going to get seriously hurt, and all the while we were helping him with organization, taking him to counseling.

Finally, after realizing we had done all we could, we decided to try medication. I took him to the doctor, who expressed that at his age most kids were starting to wean off. Yep, I felt terrible.

He started the meds the next day. Now I realize that he was wanting them to help as much as we were, so his efforts were probably a bit exaggerated, but the first day this is what happened. He came home from school and started immediately on an assignment he was given that day. Not one single fight about getting off the games and doing his work, he got right to it! There wasn't a feeling of anger seeping out of him.
But what brought me to tears was this. My kids all have daily chores. One of his that day was to empty the dishwasher, but it was still running when he got home so I reminded him as I was going off to get other kids to bed. The next morning as I was getting breakfast ready, I opened the cupboards and there I found cups neatly stacked and in rows. Then I looked in the cupboard that I keep storage bowls in, everything was neatly stacked. This was not the usual. Usually I would open cupboards ready to catch whatever jumped out at me.
This is when the tears started and my breath got caught in my throat.

Did it take medication to help him see order? To be able to focus? To be able to stick to a task?

It seems like it.
Now I'm not saying it is all a bed of roses, but things have changed.
Here is what we have noticed.
First and foremost the anger and rage is much less.
Second, he is getting more done and able to stay on task better.
I don't have to remind him to get things done nearly as often as I did.
He says he can focus better and remember things better.
He is doing better in group settings.
He has reached out to his brothers to play with them and engage with them in a good way.
He has stomach aches sometimes, especially if he hasn't eaten and once got sick after taking it on an empty stomach.
His face gets beet red for a brief time after he takes it.
He has bouts of being really tired and has even taken a few naps.
He hasn't been as hungry as he was, which we are monitoring.

Do I wish I could go back and change the nightmare we have been living all these years and try meds? Yes, but we didn't know this was the problem and we may not have been prescribed this one, which seems to be working, so we may have spent years fruitlessly anyway.
Is this the answer for other kids? I don't know and I wouldn't try to determine it for anyone else. All I can do is share what happened with us.
Also, the meds are outrageously expensive! Not kidding, really expensive. Makes me wonder what happens with other kids who need them and can't afford them.
It is my sincere prayer that sharing this very difficult journey helps someone else. I shared previously about getting his diagnosis.
Like I said, I'm not necessarily advocating for meds. It's a really big decision and what we chose may not be what others would. Right now, it really is helping in all aspects of his life, should that change, we will reevaluate. After trying tutoring, organizational ideas, daily reviews, weekly check ins with teachers, as well as prayers and blessings, we really couldn't see anything else we could do.

Feel free to share if you have any ideas or experiences that have helped your child or one you know.

Or share this post if you know a parent who is beating their head against the wall not knowing where to start and you think this might help. If it helps one other kid, it'll be worth taking the time to write it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

004 Mom

 *you need to read this with the 007 theme song playing in your head

His breath was coming quickly as he raced across the room and hid. He couldn’t, no he wouldn’t let her find him.

She stood around the corner, ready to spring. She was listening for his breathing. She knew it would only be a moment, but she had to stay focused. It all depended on her success and she knew it. She had to remain focused and stay strong. This entire mission could head south if she lost this one.

She knew his tactics. She knew he was hiding. He did it well. He had lots of practice. She also knew that the thrill of this point of the chase would give him much needed adrenaline. She just hoped her determination would outlast his.

Then suddenly she heard something. It was him. She moved slowly around the corner, listening for his breath, his movement, a shadow, anything that would give him away.

There. There under the desk. She was sure that something just moved. She stepped closer. Yes, she was sure now. As she got closer, her grip got tighter, she didn’t want to lose her grip on the trigger.

Then she made the last long strides to the desk and peered under at that face. The face she knew so well. The face that was in her dreams and often in her nightmares.

 He saw her coming. He could see her legs moving quickly and silently towards him. He couldn’t get any smaller or leave his hiding place. She had him cornered and he knew it. He also knew it was the end.

Then he saw her face. At which point he laughed and cried at the same time, “Oh no Mommy, you found me!”

“Oh yes I did, and it’s to the bathroom with you mister. You aren’t getting out of cleaning it this easily!”

She handed him the bottle of cleaner and the rag with a smile and a sweet pat on the rump and off he scooted. 
She had won... this time.

 But it was a small victory because now she had to go find the other 3 and get them started. The drama and chase never ended, after all it was Saturday morning and jobs had to be done. Oh, she was fully aware that they all thought she just made up work to make them mad and keep them busy. If only they could understand how much she needed their help! So, some Saturday’s she hunted them down, others she lectured, many she yelled and every now and then she escaped to the quiet of her closet and munched on chocolate.
Right now was a moment of victory. It was time to relish it. It was time to figure out where the rest of them were.