Sunday, December 20, 2009


One day at a time...

When you read that, do you think of a spiritual, a 70s sitcom, or something else?

If I'm answering my own question, I'd say, "It depends on my mood." But the phrase itself is a good one to remember.

One of our Pastors recently spoke to our MOPS group about the Advent season, about being present in the "now" and not focusing only on the past or the future. It gave most, if not all, of us a refreshed sense of calm in this chaotic season. To follow up on it, at our most recent meeting, one of the moms gave each of us a magnet that said, "Today". And you know what? It's really working as a tremendous reminder to people to focus on today. It's helping us to not be overwhelmed by a "to do" list that might feel too big to handle.

I confess to feeling the crunch right now. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough of me to go around. And who took patient Stacey and left the snappish me in it's place?! I was thinking about all the cookies I needed to bake and the shopping I wanted to do and the gifts I wish I had thought about sooner and I saw that magnet on my fridge and said a silent "Thank you, " to Julie the magnet maker.

You see, in addition to remembering to focus on today...I also thought about the good things I did today, not just all the things I hadn't gotten to yet. It's easy to look at the "To Do" list and focus on the things I haven't yet crossed off. It's better to read between the lines and remember what I did today that wasn't on that list but was infinitely more important. The stories read, the snuggles given, the games played.

Yes, there is a lot of prep to do to get ready for Christmas. Yes, if I make a plan and stick to it (whether it be the budget or when to start baking) it will make the season go more smoothly. Yes, I want my kids to look back and remember the joy of the season.

I just want to be sure to keep my priorities straight, so that as I prepare to celebrate the birth of the most precious gift I don't forget to love on and enjoy the precious gifts God has blessed me with.

-Wishing you peace and blessings today...end every day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When the Learning Curve is Flat..Life Can Get Messy.

I consider myself to be a quick study. My learning curve is fairly steep for most things (other than calculus, but let's not go might make me cry.)

So why OH WHY will I not learn that the 2 yo is a wiggling worm and writhes all over when his diaper is being changed..especially when it is particularly...well...messy and change him somewhere other than a place where it could cause a big ol' ugly mess?

Tonight will be the 1,263rd time (OK, I'm exaggerating, but only a little bit) that I have placed him on my nice white duvet on my nice clean bed to change his unmentionable diaper...only to have him wriggle and slither and get away..managing to sully the duvet, the sheets and my beautiful new (washable, thank goodness) merino wool sweater. The sweater was sort of my fault, I was lunging across the bed to try to contain the wild child. (yuck. I know.) The saving grace..the pillows were spared. :-). But now, I will be waiting until the duvet is dry to head to dreamland.

From past experience, I will be wiser the next time or 10 and change him on a blanket on the floor and he will be relatively calm and I will be lulled into a false sense of security and go back to changing diapers on my bed will start again...or he will learn to use the potty and then instead of changing the dipes, I will just add him to the list of children that are responsible for missing the toilet.

I guess that is part of being a mom. It's the messiest job I'll ever love. And, because I cannot seem to learn my lesson about where (and where not) to change a diaper, it might remind me to be patient if my kids repeat mistakes too.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Remember the JOY

I'm having a "Groundhog Day" movie kind of day. Not because I am re-experiencing a day until I get it right, but because I have snippets of vivid memories about this day from 14 years ago. It's a little unsettling and sad and yet this year, the season has been so much better in many ways. (Thanks to friends new and old.)

Fourteen years ago today, we had just had a snowstorm, my baby was 15 months old and I was patching together snow clothes so J could play in the snow for the very first time. I was going to my parents' for dinner to celebrate dad's 62nd birthday and my husband was working. We had pot roast for dinner. I remember sitting at the kitchen island while mom told me about the people who had come to visit for her birthday two days earlier. She was really happy and had been very active lately. My mom had heart disease, high blood pressure, you name it, but she'd been able to do so much more lately. My little boy and I had been taking shopping trips and going out to lunch with grandma quite often.

My mom and I had been really building a new type of relationship- as fellow moms. It was a good club to be in with her. :) While we didn't agree on some things (I was all about breastfeeding and my mom said "If you'd just give that baby a bottle...") she taught me about sacrificial love and kindness and was an incredible role model of charity and generosity. She wasn't a saint (If there was an award for holding a grudge, she would have been a contender) but she was a pretty good model for me and she was seeing me as an adult. Sort of. Finally. Maybe. ;)

After dinner we were gathered in the family room. I was playing on the floor with J and mom and dad were in their "his and her" recliners. My mom said, "Well, I have my granddaughter and my blue-eyed grandson." (My mom and my husband have blue eyes, we now have two blue-eyed boys and three hazels) It was a strange comment, but she sounded content. As the evening wore on, it became obvious to me that she wasn't feeling well. I tried to convince her to go to the ER but she said she was "fine". I said, "Don't you want to see your grandson grow up?" Sensitive? Yep, that's me. She gave me "the look", said she was "just tired" and I shut up.

The last time I spoke to my mom was when I called that evening to let them know I had arrived home safely.

My mom died on December 16, 1995 late in the afternoon. When the ambulance brought her in, she told the doctors that she couldn't stay long because she still had a lot of wrapping to do.

So today as I recall my dad's birthday I remember the last day I spent with my mom and I am thankful for those memories of tender pot roast, a warm family room and the look of joy on her face when she watched J play.

Thank you for your joy, Mom. I think you're getting quite a kick out of the antics of your grandsons as you watch from Heaven.
-wishing you peace and blessing during this glorious season of JOY.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I have loved mysteries since I could read.

When I was young, it was The Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden and of course, Nancy Drew. As I got older, my love of a good (or at least engaging) mystery did not fade. I still gravitate toward mysteries and especially enjoy reading series because it's so nice to get to "know" the heroine. Yes, heroine. I tend to prefer female sleuths and I'm more a fan of the cozy than the gory, forensic mystery. My imagination is vivid enough, I really don't care to read about murder/death/injury in graphic detail. So, just give me a nice clean crime to solve, thank you very much. (In other words, hold the maggots and graphic descriptions of wounded flesh.)

Because that is what draws me in..trying to figure it all out. So when an author leaves out clues key to solving it myself, I feel like they cheated. It's like they didn't bother to create a cohesive plot and plan. I mean, if they're not going to give me all the pieces of the puzzle, what kind of game are we playing? I guess I fancy myself an armchair sleuth. :) (I wanted to be Nancy, and I do have superb observation and deduction skills...really.)

Life is full of mysteries. Some are puzzles to solve based on clues. Others are less concrete and often, more troubling. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some people seem to face more struggles while others seem to float through life? And of course..where is God in this?
My superb observation techniques do not provide the answers to these questions...but the Bible does. Sometimes I can remember where I need to look, sometimes I open randomly and find the verse or story I *need* and sometimes another person, a disciple if you will, directs me.

When I want to solve a mystery and exercise my brain, I settle in with a good mystery. When I'm faced with a mystery in my life, I turn to The Bible.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy plastic people?

I have been told, since forever and a day, that I wear my feelings on my sleeve. My mother could have made a recording of that statement and saved herself a lot of breath. I always thought she was right. I cry when I'm sad, happy, other words, waterproof mascara is a given. I consider myself a transparent person. I don't tell everybody all of my troubles, but I am pretty open. Or at least I thought I was...

Last week my neighbor and I were having a conversation and she said, "You're so confident and sure of yourself." I laughed. Really. I was shocked. My husband calls me "medium", not because I can communicate with the other side, but because I agonize over decisions, second guessing, analyzing and trying to anticipate every possible outcome.

This conversation made me realize that she doesn't see the insecurities and fears of my daily life. Sometime I do share them with her because, to be honest, she is the most formidable prayer warrior I have ever met. But for the most part...I don't want people to know the daily worries of life. Nothing major, no deep dark unmentionables; just everyday fears of failure, financial strain, defiant children, messy house...the things that I feel judged and measured by..and not usually hitting my goals.

Part of keeping it to myself, is nobody wants to be the person with the black cloud, the Eeyore of the group... and really, nobody wants that person in their group either. ;) But part of it is really well expressed in the song Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns...
"Is there anyone that fails? Is there anyone that falls? Am I the only one in church today feeling so small? 'Cuz when I take a look around, everybody seems so strong. I know they'll soon discover, that I don't belong. So I tuck it all away, like everything's ok. If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too. So with a painted grin, I play the part again, so everyone will see me the way that I see them. Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples, with walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain? But if the invitation's open, to every heart that has been broken, maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade... "
I harbor the (false) belief that everyone else has a perfectly ordered and tidy life with no failures, missed goals or flops while my life is not working like a swiss watch. (Is that even a good metaphor anymore?). Rationally, I recognize that everybody has their black clouds, their flops and their "stuff" and probably a lot of people are going through tougher things...but we're all so busy putting on our "painted grins" we don't even know they need the kind word, the smile, the hug or the help. We can't swoop in and save the day for everybody, but even in our "stuff" we can be the hands and feet of Christ with a smile or kind word. Sometimes, we might even have part of a solution...
-Peace and Blessings

Sunday, August 9, 2009


It's been a long time
It's not like life has been exciting, just busy in a very pedestrian way. I mean I cook, I do dishes I do laundry, repeat. In between that fun stuff I break up skirmishes between the boys, step on Lego's (painful), and enjoy spending time with the little (and not so little) people I birthed.

I have been spending the evenings (and some afternoons, like today) reading. I just finished Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke. The sleuth, Hannah, owns a cookie shop in Minnesota and finds dead bodies. She manages, with the help of her colleagues, friends and family, to find out who did the dastardly deed in between baking up batches of delicious sweet treats. Today I decided to try her recipe for cream puffs and filled them with homemade whipped cream...Scrumptious and so very easy.

I also took up the knitting needles again. I'm working on finishing a pair of I won't have to hop on one foot in order to wear the completed one. I have been drooling over some gorgeous sock yarns online...someday, maybe I will get some and make colorful socks to wear with my clogs when it's wool sock weather instead of flip flop weather. While knitting socks is far more time consuming and a little more pricey than buying them, there is something therapeutic about the process of knitting.

I read. I knit. I pray. I relax into the present and don't try to solve the problems that may arrive tomorrow, next week or next month.

-Peace and blessings

Monday, July 20, 2009


When it comes to loving my kids, there are no limits. I get angry, I get annoyed, I get tired. But I always ALWAYS love them. And the hardest part of being a mom, in my humble opinion, is facing all the things I cannot fix for them.

When one of them is teased for being short, gets bullied, gets hurt (physically or emotionally), when they make a bad choice and I so wish I could turn back time..and when they're scared.

My middle guys are taking swim lessons and for the most part they're doing OK. C (9) had a major attack of nerves today. He was absolutely beside himself with fear about jumping into the deep end. If I could have sent him some confidence telepathically, I would have. Watching him struggle was tough. Both his younger brothers were able to do it fine and they were trying to encourage him. The only thing I could do was pray (and talk to another mom who had a similar experience with her son who is fine this year and call my husband to tell him, because I needed to share the anguish.)

I cannot take this fear from him, I can only encourage him to face it. We talked about it. He trusts his teachers. He's done it before and it was fine. Rationally, I don't think he knows why he was so desperately afraid any more than I do. But I do know that if he lets his fear control him, about this or anything else he really wants to do, he will not be reaching his full potential.

You see, I truly believe that allowing fear to take over gives power to a force other than God. It's like in the cartoons when the character has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The angel, a voice of God, is there to speak truth and encouragement and hope. It builds up. The devil on the other shoulder is there to undermine, to break down and discourage. Allowing fear to control us denies hope.

Now sometimes fear is a good's good to be aware of your limitations. I am afraid of lots of things, some rational and others, not so much. There is a difference between danger and being self-conscious or afraid of failure. To be clear, I do believe that jumping into deep water and not knowing how to swim is a rational fear, but when there are people you trust to catch you..sometimes it's a leap of faith, literally.

Anyway, I can't take his fear away and help him grow in his self-confidence, any more than I can make any of them taller (I'm not quite 5' 3", my side of the family has donated the short genes to this pool) but I will continue to pray for them to grow and have faith in God and in themselves.

It broke my heart to see him afraid and I wonder how tomorrow will go. I have offered bribes, so if I have to pay up at the end of the week and he learns that he CAN do it...It's all good.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Will and Helicopters

Today I was trying to figure out if there would be a watercraft equivalent of a helicopter or if it would still be adequate to use the term helicopter. Three of my boys are taking swim lessons. None of them are particularly skilled swimmers..yet. I have faith that they will eventually be competent enough in the water to enjoy water parks and swim parties with friends.

I was marvelling at how patient the young instructors were. They were firm enough that even the most nervous students (one, my own son) participated and even relaxed. The instructors were supportive and made the children feel safe, offered instructions and praise. I watched from the balcony bleachers offering "thumbs up" signs if they looked to me for approval. I had faith in the instructors and in my children. I have no delusions, 10 days of lessons is not going to turn any of them into a pint-sized Michael Phelps, but maybe they will feel a little more confident in the water and maybe they'll be able to swim a smidge better than they can today.

I found myself wondering, however, about the mothers hanging over the railing shouting words of "encouragement" to their children as the instructor tried to do what they are paid to do, instruct. This was more than "good job" after the task was done. They were shouting "kick those legs, paddle those arms" while the instructor was working with their child. I don't think they meant any harm. They want their child to be successful, feel safe and know that someone who loves them very much is there. I think they have the best of intentions.

God is always there with us. I love the Footprints poem by Mary Stevenson where the person finds only one set of footprints on the beach when things are particularly rough and they are told by the Lord, that is because I was carrying you. God is always with us, but we are not controlled by God. God, the ultimate parent, gave us free will. God gave us a great deal of guidance and instruction about what our path should be, but we have to make choices each and every day. And not only do we have free will, but so do other people who may have impact on our lives in both good and bad ways.

As a mom, I see my role as loving my kids and instructing them in the way they should go. But, I recognize that even with the best instructions, rules and examples (and mine are not always the best, because I'm all too human, thank you very much) my boys are going to make bad choices sometimes. Somtimes I can catch the error before it when I catch them on the wind-up before they land a punch or throw something they shouldn't. Sometimes I can stop them from following through on a bad choice and we can talk about why it's a bad choice. I cannot always be present, like God can, so at some point I have to trust them to do the right thing or deal with the fallout.

God is so much bigger than I can ever dream of being. I am so thankful that when I cannot be there to watch over these children, God is there. Being there doesn't mean taking immediate, pre-emptive action. (I have this image of superman swooping in to stop a catastrophe..and really that's what we all wish for, isn't it? A superhero.) God is much bigger than any superhero because God is able to shoulder any pain or burden and carry us through it, stronger, wiser--we are refined-by-the-fire children of God.

What I have learned from God, is to be present and available but not to do it all for them. Sometimes the best way I can show my kids I believe in them is to stand back, get out of the way and let them have at it. They get lots of encouragement and praise for effort and accomplishment, but I hope they're learning that they can do anything they set their mind to independently, because even when I'm not there physically, I will always be giving them a thumbs up and lots of love.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That's Who I Am.

1 Praying mom. One of millions of praying moms. That's who I am. That's where the title of this blog came from and that is what I do. I pray...a lot.

I do not, however, pray for patience. You might think that is a little foolish, having 5 sons and all. However, I read something in a devotional about prayers for patience being rewarded with opportunities to practice patience, and you know what? Honestly, I don't need any more opportunities to practice. (Actually, I do but that's another story and really, do I need all these growth opportunities? Don't answer that. ) I do think the author was spot on. At the times when I am tempted to pray for patience, my kids are probably pulling me in many different directions. I don't need patience. Instead I need to pray that God will empower and equip me to be the parent that God intends me to be with these children which are a blessing from God. Often when I think I need patience, what I really need as to reevaluate my priorities.

Someone once told me we need to wrap our children in prayer. I think she has a point.

Each day, I pray for their minds to be protected from evil, to remain healthy and strong. I pray for their mouths to speak words of truth and kindness, that they glorify God in word and deed. I pray that each of them will have hearts that are pure and love God. I pray for their bodies to remain healthy and strong, free from illness and injury. I pray that they find their calling in life, that they find joy and love. I also pray for particular issues they might be facing. God already knows what's going on, He knows the number of hairs on their heads, surely He knows if they're struggling with something. God loves each of us more than our human minds can ever comprehend. God listens. God cares and, while God may not respond in a way that is in keeping with my particular human plan, God always responds. Sometimes God responds with blessings and sometimes with opportunities for growth. Sometimes we're not happy to change sizes and the education we receive may be unwelcome, but God does use all this for good.

That's why I'm 1 praying mom.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

If you can't change the situation...

Change your attitude.

I read that on a sign in Senor Frogs last year. I liked it so much, I took a picture. I don't know to whom I should attribute the quote, but I think it's a terrific sentiment.
I thought of this again today. You see, I have a husband and 5 sons and no matter how long I wait or how many coins I toss in the fountain at the mall Alice, Florence, Mary Poppins not even Uncle Charlie have arrived at my door to help with the mopping, the de-cluttering, the laundry or the bathroom scrubbing (and there's a lot of bathroom scrubbing around here...5 sons, remember...although to be fair, Isaiah is only 2 and still in diapers.)
I know, I know..they can all help, and they do..some. But they all have a far higher tolerance for mess and much lower standard of clean. I have been trying to ignore the mess, because if I ignored it long enough, someone else would swoop in and save the day from the evils of housekeeping, right? Ummm..wrong. Nagging and pointed comments, even the occasional rant still didn't inspire a crew of "Mr. Clean" wannabes.
So, today I changed my attitude and embraced the housekeeping and, even if I do say so myself, the house looks really nice. :) And...don't pass out but, seeing mom picking up and cleaning seemed to inspire the boys to willingly clean up their own stuff. (Ok, that should be a no-brainer, we'll save that issue for another day.) While I was doing all ths scrubbing the husband was working on getting the basement organized. With luck, we'll have order all around soon..and maybe even keep up with it.
I stopped hoping someone else would swoop in and clean for me..that situation wasn't going to change (although I do hope I can get the boys to be a little more tidy). I did change my attitude. Why shouldn't I clean it? I mean, while I'm all about equality, the reality is that I am a SAHM and I like it. More time for eating bon bons, don't ya know? ;) While my husband will do household chores, he isn't home much, bringing home the bacon and all.
Anyway, I decided to embrace my life, as mundane and well, kind of gender stereotypical and it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was rather fulfilling. :)