Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Thanks, I'll Pass.

Something feels strange. Is this willpower?

I have been strangely uninterested in sweets, dessert or snacking. In fact, the other day I got out the cookies and took two out...*I* asked for one and I put the other one back. I just decided that I really didn't need or even want a cookie. I wasn't hungry and it just wasn't calling my name...and that feels good.

Growing up I was always fairly thin. I'm vertically challenged at a whopping 5' 3" (well, a smidge under, if I'm being totally honest) and on my wedding day I weighed 92 pounds. No lie and no diet. It's just the way I was.

Fast forward 17 years and 6 kids..yeah, I don't weigh 92 pounds and I'm not a full-disclosure kind of gal, so I'm not telling you what I weigh now.

I never had to watch what I ate growing up and exercise and I have a love-hate relationship. I love to think about it and hate to do it. Through the years the scale has crept (and jumped) up and I haven't really made enough changes to account for my (apparently much) slower metabolism.

This weekend I read something about lifestyle changes and it clicked for me...finally. And I am ready to make the changes-- eat better and yes, I will even exercise.

But right now I am just excited that I can have candy corn in the house and have no desire to touch it. Not. One. Kernel. It's not calling my name. Neither are the Oreos or the Halloween candy in the cupboard.

It's just plain strange. I'm sure at some point I will have a craving and I will probably cave in...but three days without even wanting to touch the stuff..I'll take it.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Your Story?

Perspective changes things.

When I was in seminary, people would talk about their stories, their life and experiences. It was just the word people used. I liked to hear and read about peoples stories and what makes them tick, and I still do. (That must be why I like to read blogs.)

Shortly after graduating from seminary I had a brief stint as a mental health case manager. On my first afternoon I was meeting with a client in a hospital setting. I was supposed to be with another case worker (I was brand new and I was supposed to be shadowing her) but she left and I was on my own with someone I was warned was a tough guy with serious issues.

As we sat across the table from one another, I wasn't afraid of him. (The woman pacing back and forth ranting because someone had changed the TV station away from Judge Judy, yes...the big tough guy across from me, not so much.) I was filled with compassion and part of my job was to talk, so I said, "Tell me your story."

What I meant was, "Tell me about yourself." What he heard was, "You're going to lie to me." His response was, of course, "I'm telling you the truth." Whoops...perspective and life experience loaded that word story with so much meaning.

I had totally forgotten about this story until I was reading about what the word faith might mean to someone who doesn't have faith in God. Faith might sound illogical if you don't view faith as trust in God. I think trusting God is perfectly rational as I have seen God work in my life and in the lives of others. I believe in God because of what I know to be true.

How many other things do we look at through different lenses because of our experiences and knowledge? How often could we avoid our own pain and avoid hurting others if we remember that we all see things from a slightly different point of view.


Monday, October 25, 2010


Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Or do you wish it away?

I remember when I was younger, the days...hours...minutes...would drag on and on and on. A school week was FOREVER.

I swear, days are passing by faster in direct correlation to the slowing of my metabolism...and that is just plain wrong, don't you think?

I thought this weekend was going to crawl by. The Husband was away at a men's retreat, called, appropriately enough Mantime and I was solo with the kiddos. I encouraged him to go but I did face his departure Friday evening with a certain, healthy (from a self-preservation standpoint ;) ) amount of trepidation. One mom + six kids = could go either way.

Other than one minor injury (3 yo cut his finger with safety (not so safe?) scissors) and one hour of torture (me insisting they clean up their toys from the living room Saturday night) we had a very nice weekend. We didn't do much-- got pumpkins, took a pleasant ride and just hung out.

But it went fine and instead of me staring at the clock and doing the, "He will be home in 18 hours 32 minutes 7 seconds +/-" countdown, I was pleasantly surprised to see he was home "already". (The kids kept asking when he'd be back...maybe they love him more than me?! ;) )

Time did not slow down for the weekend and time does not slow down for the growing up of the children either. The baby girl is 8 weeks old first baby boy is learning to drive and the other boys...well they keep growing too.

Sometimes I look at the clock and wonder where the time has gone and others I will the minutes to pass (is it bedtime yet?).

I guess the key is to embrace every day and live it to the fullest. Life goes on (Oh blah dee oh blah that song ;) ) and we can choose to smile our way along or frown our way through, to be beacons of joy and love or ..well crabby, hopeless folks.

I pray you choose hope, even on gray days that drag on...or when they fly by and you think you blinked and missed it.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Do you know what today is?

Repost from this date last year...

October 22nd is International Stuttering Awareness Day.

If you didn't know, that's o.k. I wouldn't have known if the leader of the stuttering support group my son attends hadn't put out an e-mail.

There are a lot of things I didn't, and still don't, know about stuttering. But, I am not alone because there is a lot that the experts don't know about stuttering either.

What I do know, is that *I* cannot fix it for him. I can help him get the tools he needs. We can be patient and be his advocate. We discovered that many speech therapists have limited experience with disfluency. We learned that each therapist had a different belief about why J stutters. The most important thing we all learned is that therapy isn't about "fixing" the stutter, it is about J becoming comfortable enough in who he is so that the stutter does not stop him from doing things like participating in class or placing his own order at McDonald's. Chris Heximer, the Clinic Superviser At Buffalo State is responsible for teaching us this incredible lesson. Thank You, Chris!

Like any mom, I worry about my son. I cannot protect him from people who are trying to help but instead hinder. (Thrusting a pad of paper and pen at someone because you're too impatient to wait is so uncool.) I try to educate people about stuttering without being hyper-confrontational. My husband is great about going to open house night at school and touching base with the teachers. (Please don't think you're doing my kid a favor by NOT calling on him...that just ticks him off.)

And, because I am who I am, I pray. Do I pray that he would be fluent? Yes. But I also recognize that this is a part of who J is and while I want him to be able to comfortably communicate with people, I understand that God made him this way and it can be used for good.

I'm not comparing my son to Moses, but many believe that Moses stuttered ... There is a great Ginny Owens song called I Am that talks, in one verse, about God calling Moses and I get teary when I hear it. "Oh Lord, he said, you've got the wrong guy. Simple conversation gets me tongue tied. And you're telling me to speak to a maniac king, could it be I've lost my mind...That's not your problem, God replied, and the rest is history. There's a bigger picture you can't see. You don't have to change the world, just trust in me. 'Cuz I am your creator, I am working out my plan. And through you I will show them, I Am.")

I Love that. Not because I think my kid is going to be leading anyone out of Egypt, (although I heard that he did a good job helping his group find their way around NOLA this summer). I love it because the artist emphasizes that we don't know God's plan but we do need to listen to God's call. And, while people might not always respond the way we (or God) would want them to, it's all good. God is able to work through (or around) our humanity, to carry out his great plan. Moreover, God created each of us, so while some things might be seen as disabilities, God has a plan. What will we learn or teach someone through what others might see as our disabilities and weaknesses? And how will we use the gifts God gave us to be His hands and feet in this world?

In closing..a few pointers for you to remember if and when you are speaking with someone who stutters...maintain eye contact, don't try to finish their sentences and be patient. You might learn something.

-Peace and Blessings

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back When I Was...

Memories back when I was bold and strong...

Yeah, not so much.

I love the song Better Man by Pearl Jam, but to be clear I DO still love the Husband and I really don't think I could have married a better man. While we have disagreements and sometimes he totally ticks me off, we've gone through many life stresses that could have hurt our marriage, but ours has been strong for 17 years and I think it's got many more years to go. ('Til death and all that jazz.)

I have always loved the lyric I quoted above...I would say back when I was bold and thin though. ;)

But you know what I realized today...I am far bolder and stronger now than I was when I was younger (and thinner ;) ).

When I was younger I hid my weaknesses (or tried to) and thought it made me strong. It didn't. Aloof maybe. But what I've learned is that when I ask for help, that is showing strength...and wisdom, which comes with age.

I don't think I was bolder when I was younger either. I was far more timid about approaching people and about speaking up. I'm still a work in progress and have a lot more opportunity for growth, but I am heading in the right direction.

I guess it's all part of, "If I knew then what I know now." Looking back, I don't see a bold and strong young woman. I see a young woman looking for acceptance but perhaps not in the best ways or places. I see a young woman afraid to be rejected and afraid to make decisions.

I still fear rejection and I still want to be accepted, but I've learned where to look for those things. Most of all I know that I get all the unconditional acceptance I could ever need from God. When I remember that, it makes being bold a whole lot easier.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Greeting Cards and Elephants

This weekend I was card shopping. I needed "Thank You" notes and a few cards of encouragement for a friend going through something really tough.

Who knew it would lead to tears? My own--- as I felt the hurt for her and her family deeply and as I struggled with whether these cards would say the right thing.

You see, I wanted to convey, "I'm here for you" (even though I'm hundreds of miles away), "I care about you" (even if I haven't stopped by with a meal or a coffee or a hug-see above), "I want to know what's going on" (but I'm trying not to ask too many questions or call too often) and most of all, "I love you".

I found myself thinking, "what if she gets this card and it makes her feel bad because it reminds her?" As if she is walking around totally forgetting and my card would bring it all up again?

I was treating what she is dealing with like the proverbial elephant in the room. I do that a lot. Not because I don't care or don't want to face it myself, but because I am afraid to pry, to seem to be insinuating myself into someone else's pain. I want to walk alongside her and her family and yet...I don't want to intrude or fill her voicemail .

How many times have I held back from offering friendship or a caring word because I am afraid to intrude, because I think I may not be welcome? Because I fear rejection?

What if, instead of fearing, I reach out in love and not worry about the reaction? What if I follow my heart and just act in kindness and love without worrying if someone will doubt my intentions or sincerity? What if I just be myself and let someone know I care about what they're going through (good or bad) whether I have known them since we wore fingerless gloves and sang Material Girl at the top of our lungs in high school or we just shared a table at a MOPS meeting once.

So I resolve to take the risk and jump in. To reach out in love and kindness even when it might slap me in the face. (Trying to follow What Would Jesus Do here.) To not tiptoe around but to boldly say, I'm here and I care. Maybe my gift isn't coffee or meals but an ear to listen and a heart to care and, of course, prayer.

And I did find the perfect card..It actually says, "I'm not sure what to do, I'm not sure what to say. But one thing I can do for sure is pray."

Praying that we all can face our elephants instead of trying to slipcover them to match the furniture. They're kind of loud and eventually they'll make themselves known anyway..and sometimes that can get messy. ;)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Just Need ...


Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed and unwell and just plain crummy.

The thought of trying to find a dinner that would please at least 3 of people in my house literally brought me to tears. (The finicky eaters are my own fault, I own it, am not happy with it but it's the way we're operating right now.)

After retreating to my room I told the Husband I was on strike and not cooking dinner because it was such an exercise in futility to spend time preparing meals. I then kicked him and the 6yo out and had a little cry.

A few minutes later I went downstairs to see the Husband fixing a variety of meals (we should open a diner, I swear!) . I'm not asking for suggestions on how to "fix" this dilemma, we know, we know, we know...

He apologized for not picking up more of his share of things around the house.

I went out for a futile and depression-increasing clothes shopping trip by myself. And in the car I realized, it's not the house work that is getting me down. (Though I do confess to thinking, "Would it kill him to throw in a load of laundry when I'm out?!)

I miss my husband. He goes to work , gets home helps with homework and dishes and by the time the boys go to bed we're both fried. (Miss M hangs out with us but she's pretty low-maintenance. ;) ) We rarely can have 5 minutes of uninterrupted conversation when someone doesn't need something or they aren't bickering before one of us is ready for sleep, usually me.

I miss the days when he worked different hours and we would occasionally go browsing the bookstore with just the littlest kids, maybe hit an antique store or watch a DVD in the afternoon.

I don't want or need a date night..I just want a little bit of time to hang out with him, even if a 3 yo and a 6 week old are tagging along.

So last night I said, I don't need you to do more around the house, I just need your attention. I need an adult conversation (because there are days when I don't have any..except for the 5 minutes or so with him.)

The Husband is a terrific father. He is always there, present and interested in what the boys, make that children whoops, are doing. He is also a great husband, but finding a balance between parent and spouse seems to be difficult for us these days.

This morning he came home for a few minutes after his dentist appointment and we chatted and that was...perfect. It wasn't a trip to the bookstore or a lunch out, but it was nice to have the time and attention.

Give me the laundry and the dishes and give me a little less-divided attention. That was exactly what I needed from him.

May you find the things you really need in the midst of your day.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Working Out

Things have a way of working out...unlike me who really needs to make an effort to work out. ;)

Last year I bought the book by the Duggars and in it they tell the story of their daughter wanting a pink blanket but they didn't have any pink blankets and being on a strict budget they couldn't justify buying one when they had many other perfectly good, if not pink, blankets. Well, someone left one in a car they were selling and so there was the desired pink blanket..for free!

I am not that good at sticking to the budget, though I'm getting better. I remember reading the story and thinking, "Really? Buy the blanket!" fast forward to this fall and I had bought Miss M some girly receiving blankets but I just hadn't bought any fleece ones. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money when I had other perfectly good, though blue, blankets.

Guess what?! Three different people gave us beautiful and girly fleece blankets for her. Wow. I wasn't expecting them and I didn't ask for them and I was oh so very appreciative of their thoughtfulness.

Things have a way of working out.

I had plans to cloth diaper Miss M. I have all the supplies and I thought things were going well...until Miss M got a rash which wouldn't go away. I tried everything and finally when I was switching to heavy duty cream to try to get rid of it we switched her to sposies..and I called the ped who told me to try Neosporin to prevent infection...and she got better right away.

That weekend a very kind grandmotherly neighbor stopped by with a case of disposable diapers. In the back of my mind was "we use cloth" but I was thankful and said so and thought, "Wow, now we have lots of diapers and if she outgrows them before she wears them I can donate them."

Miss M went back into cloth diapers which had been stripped and rinsed several times so there was no residue etc..and within a couple of hours, even with being changed as soon as I knew she was wet....she was rashy again. Evidently she has a very delicate behind...she really is a princess. ;) And there sat a free to me case of diapers when I really needed them.

Things have a way of working out.

There are so many times, if I truly think about it, that things work out in ways we could never anticipate.

We intended to live here for one year while the Husband was on internship. Well, after internship ended there was no point in going back to school (long story already explained and we stayed here because he got a "job" offer and there was nowhere else to go home to.

This is our home now. We're building relationships, have a church home we love and cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Things have a way of working out.

I've said it before...God has a plan. Sometimes the plans we make aren't what's best for us, but God knows best. Sometimes things come up to intrude on our plans but God provides. Sometimes God puts people in our path to be His hands and feet when we need a helping hand.

God has a way of working things out.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Everyone Needs...

Everyone needs... a mentor.

Really. I believe this. For our kids that is usually us and other trusted, responsible (I hope) adults.

Adults in all phases of life would benefit from mentors too. The problem is, sometimes mentors aren't so easy to find. Sometimes because we don't have people around us who can give us beneficial guidance and sometimes because we are afraid to ask or to share our struggles, concerns, lack of knowledge or our"weaknesses".

A mentor doesn't have to be someone older than me, just someone insightful and with experience...or perhaps someone I respect who is walking the same path. Maybe that's not the technical definition, but it works for me.

I think this is one of the greatest things about MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers). Knowing I have a great group of women around me who I can turn to for advice, moral support, friendship and a good laugh is an amazing gift and blessing. And, while we have more experienced moms who serve as mentors, I think in our own ways, we each serve that purpose to each other too, by listening and praying and sharing.

It's not always easy to ask for or listen to advice, but with trust and in love we can do both and become better, stronger and even more amazing people...because we are created to live in community.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And I Know I'm Not...

The song above is pretty much the whole point of my is a family-friendly song and not the one I'm writing about below.

Today I was driving to MOPS and a song came on the radio that I probably wouldn't play for family dance night but I like it a lot and when the middle boys are in the car, I probably wouldn't turn it up and sing. It has lots of references that are not things I would say are good examples or influences or anything else...and I really REALLY wouldn't want the kids to sing it out loud and proud in public.

But I like the song and when I'm alone I do turn it up and sing and it's on my mp3 player too. (A bad example, I know, but I am not influenced in my choices or values by this song on the radio.)

A few weeks ago it was just the 16 yo and I in the car and I said, "I like this song and turned it up." He looked a little horrified. "Mom! Have you listened to the lyrics?!" Umm yeah. How does he think I can sing along? ;)

Today I thought of that exchange and realized he sees me in a particular way..a mom type way which is, kind of like "mom jeans" if you know what I mean. He would never think that I was hip or cool or 'gasp' did anything wild. And that's OK because I am his mom and he doesn't need to know every poor decision I've made...and learned from.

I'm not who I was.

However, I do hope that all of the children (typed boys, had to edit whoops) will realize that I have certain opinions and wisdom to share because of the life I've lived up until now. I made mistakes and hope that I can prevent them from making the same mistakes.

While I am in no way able to give them eternal life like Jesus did when he died for us, I do hope that I can save them some of the struggles because I struggled.

But...I also am not the same person I was then. I don't think it's just about maturity. I truly believe it's because of my growing, active and alive faith in God that I have become the person I am. That and the freedom and forgiveness I receive because of that faith.

It is my hope, my prayer, that my children will make better choices because of their faith (and ours) ...they know (or at least hear repeatedly) that God loves them and that everything they have and are and can be are gifts from God.

Knowing that has made all the difference in my own life...and I pray it does in yours too.

I'm not who I was.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Maybe I'm Not...

This photo was taken 15 years ago on Halloween. It is probably the last picture that was taken of my mom and *J* and me.

You know how women will often say, "I'm turning into my mother," with varying degrees of humor, chagrin or sometimes even pride? Well, I say it too, mostly when I find myself saying something my mother would have said, or did say.

Should I put a disclaimer here? Maybe. I mean absolutely no disrespect and I love and miss my mom very much.

There are ways I am like my mother and then there are all the ways I am not... some things would cause my mother much distress.

She, for instance, would brag that her floors were so clean you could eat off them, and she wasn't talking 5 second rule, people. ;)

My house is clean..enough. But there is always clutter on my counters. (A BIG no no when I was growing up.)

My Holiday dinners are special, but they aren't magazine photo op ready. (Definitely something my mother was striving for.)

AND today I realized another reason I am NOT turning into my mother. *I* played with Play Doh for almost 4 hours today. My children have Play Doh and I let them play with it in the house, no less. I had Play Doh as a child...for about a day, when some well-meaning person gave me some as a gift. (Or maybe they were trying to annoy my mother, like when my father brought me home kazoos from business trips..those always disappeared too. Hmmm)

My mother confessed when I was an adult that she used to leave the containers open so the Play Doh would dry out because...she couldn't stand the mess it made. (She would be bumming about the Moon Dough. That supposedly never dries out!)

So while I was cleaning up Play Doh and being sure each of the containers was closed tightly so he could enjoy many more hours of fun I thought, "I am not my mother." (And again, I mean no disrespect.)


Sunday, October 3, 2010


This is Miss M's first doll. My friend J gave this toy to her. Isn't she cute?
I named her Tulip...because she has tulips on her dress. Clever of me, no?
Today Tulip was talking to Miss M. I realized that I spend a great deal of time getting things done and addressing needs, but not really playing with Miss M. So Tulip and Miss M and I played today. Miss M likes to grab for the rings. I'm sure that I will eventually make up a song about Tulip, but I haven't gotten there yet.
I used to make up songs all the time. I liked to change the lyrics to popular songs and I liked to make up songs to sing to the boys. Somewhere along the way, I got so wrapped up in the busyness that I lost a little bit of my playfulness and while I could put it on my "to do" list- Write a Song for Miss M about Tulip, I think that would kind of defeat the purpose, don't you?
I guess it's time for me to be more intentional about playing, as strange as it sounds. Yes, everyone needs clean socks and nutritious food, they also need stories and songs and family dance night (even though that really mortifies the teenager..but he can hide in his room if he doesn't like it, right?)
Life is what happens while we're making other plans and while work needs to happen, I don't want to miss out on being truly present with my children and my husband because I have to fold some towels or bake a pie or because I'm wallowing in self-induced stress.
Not the example I want to set.
This season is short. Life is unpredictable. Love is a blessing.