Thursday, June 30, 2011


A long, long time ago, a boy took me to see the movie Beaches. He told me later that he took me to see that movie so I could cry on his shoulder, and I did. Seriously. Big tearful sobs.

Today as I was hitting the seek button on the radio, one of the songs from the movie came on and I remembered the scene where the woman knows she has the same heart disease as her mother and she is frantically looking for a picture of her mother's hands. For her, the similarity of their hands is very important.

Frequently I look down at my own hands and see my mother's. I am not great about using hand cream, so my hands are often dry and cracked like hers. I have my mother's hands..and her high cholesterol. Remembering that scene from the movie, thinking about my mother's first heart attack at age 47 and her death from heart disease at 62 and 3 days, I found myself sinking into despair and frustration. I know what I need to do to be healthier but I cannot seem to stick with an exercise program and I do enjoy cookies.

By the time I got home from my errand, I was in a mood. I was snappish and well, not very nice. The truth is, I am angry at myself for not making changes and sticking to them. It's much easier to blame other people for my weaknesses than take responsibility. If it is this difficult to give up cookies and commit to exercise, I am really glad I don't smoke or need to break another addiction.

I look at my hands and see my mother. I remember how difficult it was when I was 10 and my mom had her first heart attack. I do not want my kids to go through that. I don't want to be unhealthy and yet...each day I fail to stick to my plan. I find excuses.

There are many things I share with my mother- her hands, her dark hair, her perfectionism. I'd really rather not share her health history. I need make changes. I need to stick to them.

A little less talk and A LOT more action. I guess it's all about deciding whether I want to suffer through an exercise program or suffer through something much more unpleasant that will negatively impact those I love the most.

I pray that I can follow through with exercise. I pray that when I fall off the wagon, I get back on instead of giving up.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baking and Life Are All About the Process

The mountain of yumminess above is thanks to this recipe at for homemade Oreo cookies.

Today I decided I needed to try it so when the Husband stopped at the store and bought me headache reliever a bag of coffee, I asked him to also bring home a pound of unsalted butter.

After dinner, I cleared and cleaned my kitchen counter, or an area to accommodate the mixer and cookie sheets, and got with it. Poor *I* kept asking, "Are the cookies ready?" Sadly, they weren't cooked and filled until after he was not so snugly tucked in. If he were snug, he wouldn't have come back down to ask again, which did get him a promise of a cookie in the morning. They have flour and eggs, don't judge me. ;)

Baking these cookies is fairly simply but also a process and it requires a little bit of patience. Most of the great things in life are like that, don't you think? For instance, the butter in these cookies needs to be at room temperature in order to blend in with the other ingredients. The cookies needed to be the proper size and bake at the proper temperature and then cool before being filled with the frosting which also needed room-temperature butter. (Please don't tell my doctor about the butter.)

In life, like in baking, there is a time and a place for short cuts. Sometimes the short cuts work out and sometimes, all I end up with is a mess. When I was younger, I would have tried to rush the cookie process along, taking short cuts to get it done. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate the process, the journey, as much as the goal.

Life is an adventure. I have discovered that the intended goal is not always as desirable as it seemed from afar. Often, the journey is where I find the most joy and growth, even if the road has been bumpy and filled with detours.

I didn't have any detours in my baking tonight, but as I have shared before, my life hasn't exactly worked out how I planned it. I think that's because God has a recipe, a plan, for me that I am not fully privy to. I try to be aware and pray and wait, but my timing is not God's timing. Let's face it, God has the patience of well....God has an infinite amount of patience and time and I've got a schedule in mind that isn't quite lining up with His. Perhaps I'm taking shortcuts, perhaps I'm skipping a step in God's recipe. Perhaps, I just need to wait...some more.

Since God's not finished with me yet, I am going to enjoy the process, count my blessings and see the gift in this time.

Oh, and I'm going to enjoy the cookies too.


Monday, June 27, 2011


Yesterday Proverbs 31 Ministries posted, "Monday is coming. God is already there. He has laid out the good works He wants you to walk in. Sleep well. ~Derwin L. Gray { @DerwinLGray }" as a facebook status.

I needed that. I needed to go to sleep remembering that. I had been repeating Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. for the better part of the day.

They go together, don't you think? They both tell us to hope for tomorrow, not to despair because God has it, has us, covered.

Sometimes it feels like things aren't getting better, like they're never going to change. Sure, I hear the sayings: "Be the change you want to see in the world." "If you can't change you're situation, change your attitude.", but sometimes the situation feels...well, a little like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and I start to wonder and worry, and my arms are getting sore.

Not helpful, folks. Not. At. All.

The Husband has been underemployed for some time and unemployed for a number of months. He's not getting much in the way of nibbles, let alone offers. It's frustrating, depressing and more than a little scary. He was once a successful district manager known for going into problem situations and working with people to turn things around. He took some time off for seminary and he is no longer a marketable person. His past experience and work ethic are invisible.

Last week he got a call from a recruiter-type person who saw his resume online. He met with her and while she doesn't have the perfect job for him, yet, she gave him hope. Yes, he has some skills and experience that are valuable and she is going to help him market them and himself and hopefully, get him a job that fits his skill set and earns *gasp* a living wage.

We have had other glimpses of hope that have sustained us through this journey, generosity of family, friends and our church and a blessing of family to support us and distract us. Sometimes we can look at this time and see it as the gift of time together as a family. Other times, we fear the future even as we read in Matthew 6:25-6:26 that God will provide for us and that worrying will not add a single hour to our lives. We experience the provision daily and yet, we worry about what will happen if...

Sometimes I feel envy. (Other people have what I dream of having.) Sometimes I feel guilt. (Have we let down our kids?) Sometimes I feel annoyed. (At least you have a job, stop complaining.) Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed with the worry. (What if (fill in the blank)?) But you know what? When I stop feeling envious, guilty, annoyed and just plain worried, I can count the blessing I do have and the awesome kindness we experience on a regular basis, the way others bless my family and me and just love us.

Provision and hope come in different forms, but usually we can look and see people who do the work of God around us each day. We each have that opportunity in ways big and small, whether it be smiling at a frazzled mom in the check-out, volunteering to coach a sports team, participating in a walkathon or writing a check to the food pantry. They are all doing the work of God and they all give hope to others.

It's not all burning bushes, sometimes it's just a humble person speaking a loving know, like that Carpenter.

Praying that you can see hope in your life. Sometimes it's a big neon sign and other times, we need to look and listen, but there is hope.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Remembrance

Yesterday, I made a conscious effort to focus on the joyous birth 4 years ago of my littlest man. He shares that very same date with his Grandpa, but in a circle of life kind of way. You see as *I* was taking his first breaths on that June morning, my dad was taking his last few labored breaths. My father died of lung cancer just a couple of hours after *I* was born.

It was a roller coaster sort of day; up and down and all around, a whirlwind of emotions difficult to process. I needed to talk about my dad, but none of my visitors (and I was blessed with many visitors) wanted to talk about anything but the precious baby boy they took turns holding.

One of the things that meant the most to me was a card I received from my dear, sweet and totally rockin' friend S's mom. I don't remember what it said exactly, but it was filled with kind words and prayer that touched my heart. It was like a gentle hug came in that envelope. That card is packed away with all of *I*'s other cards. They are linked together. *I* is the only son who did not meet my dad, but they have a special, deep bond and I know that Dad is smiling down from Heaven and getting a good chuckle watching this mischievous boy with the infectious smile.

Yesterday, I only wrote about my Birthday Boy. Today, I will tell you that my Dad was not forgotten amid the streamers and cake. He was honored. He would have wanted us to be celebrating and laughing; enjoying the kids because I know everything he did he did for his children.

Thank you, Dad for all the times you drove me around, letting me blast the music without comment or complaint. Thank you for never uttering a hurtful word to me. Thank you for supporting me even when you didn't understand. Thank you, Dad, for being you.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday!

Happy 4th Birthday to the energetic, enthusiastic, wild and crazy and loving *I*!

Today has been enjoyable. We woke up and had to wait for the Birthday Boy to come down the stairs. He slept in today! As is the tradition, streamers crossed the ceiling and his gifts were at his seat at the table.

He was so cheerful all day. Excited and proud of being 4! He said it was "the best day ever" and "I love being four!" Four is a very cool age, for today. ;) Today I focused on my children, on the fun of building with Duplos (definitely more my speed than Lego. lol ;) ), on just being present.

I felt content, happy, fulfilled and confident in who I am as a person and a parent. I know that my life isn't for everyone and that I do not want to live another's life, even though sometimes their life might look much cooler or easier or hipper than mine. I was created for the life I am living, I can embrace it or not, but it will still be my life. Can I make changes? Perhaps. The biggest change I can make is my attitude. Today my attitude was sunny because I had my eyes on the positive. The positive is that my littlest guy turned four and we spent the day in the moment.

It's the Littlest Man's Birthday! Wow! Life is good. Yes, it is imperfect and a struggle, but life is good.

Praying you are able to see rays of sunshine, even on a cloudy day.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do You Hear That?

That bizarre un-sound in my home is silence. Well, okay, it's not silence. I hear the dishwasher thrumming away and the fan on the desktop sounds like a jet but there is no other noise from humans, particularly the human people that have DNA half mine and half the Husband's.

*N* is playing baseball and *J* went along to criticize cheer him on. *C* and *E* are reading in bed, *I* and Miss M are asleep.

Today is Father's Day and I wish my dear, unselfish and long-suffering husband had had a wonderful day. The problem is the kids were bickering and Miss M hasn't slept well in a couple of days (Urgent care today confirmed our fear that she has another double ear infection.)

After listening to their arguing and nonsense noise all morning, we banished *C* and *N* to the area of the basement we intended them to use as play space. They, on the other hand believe the whole basement is their space to pillage and plunder. Sooooo, we reached our limit and sent them down there to clean up their space because, "They will not play in the living room this summer!" I love these kids to pieces but honestly, a woman can only take so much!

Clearly we have not schooled them well in clean-up or organization. This is going to be a process, a learning process. They are not going to like it, but it's going to happen. The Husband told them he wanted all the Lego pieces off the floor. Didn't happen. It will.

This did bring to light another issue. I have bins of clothes in many sizes and styles hanging out there. It used to be more organized before the pillage but, I do not know if it will be used by the time it fits. Part of me wants to donate it all. But then...what if we need something and cannot afford to buy it new?

It's better for someone to use it now than for us to hoard it because we might use it later, right? I just need to free myself from the maybe; to trust that whatever needs we have will be met. I know that in my heart, but my head says, "If you get rid of this and need it later, what will you do?" I think that little voice has red, pointy horns, if you get my meaning. My heart and soul know that I can trust for our needs to be met, my brain is struggling to add it all up logically though.

So, in the silence of my evening, (although *E* has come down twice looking for books and because he's "lonely" without *N* in the room) I think I realize that I need to let go of the stuff a little more. (To be fair, the Husband said the same thing, but I like to think things through myself, I'm kind of stubborn and independent that way. Hey! He says he married me for my mind. :) )

Part of being thankful for what we have is caring for it (so clean up the Lego pieces!) and part of it is being open enough to share and not worry what tomorrow will bring.

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they. (NIV)


Saturday, June 18, 2011


I have many roles, wear many hats, have various interests and passions and responsibilities. If I tried to list them all, I would surely leave something out. We all have a list of who we are in relation to the world at large.

We are defined, in some ways by our circumstances. When I am with my kids I am "mom", but with people who do not know I have children, I am just me in the role they associate with me.

I try to be authentically me in all situations, while adjusting certain things. For instance, I would not use the same vocabulary with classmates as I do with a 4 year-old Sunday School class. Context leads behavior. That doesn't change who I am as a person and all the facets of my identity are still there, I just use a filter.

The key is to not live "in pieces". I want to be authentic and yet, I recognize that having many roles in life, I need to adjust for context. I start to worry that I am not being real; that in the process of changing hats, I'm wearing a mask. I don't think I am. I try not to. I am just me.

I started thinking about this because an instructor said he was curious to see how I would integrate my theology background in my future counseling career. He didn't mean it as a challenge or an insult. He is genuinely interested.

That started me thinking about whether I am who I am regardless of context. Just because I change my shoes, it doesn't mean I am a different person on the inside. (You don't wear flip flops to run a marathon...well, I don't run marathons, but you get the point, right?)

My faith is part of who I am. I am more accepting because of my faith. I am more likely to meet someone where they are because of my faith. My faith frees me and strengthens me. I don't think I need to talk about faith or religion or spirituality in order to live my faith with a client. I just need to be the non-anxious presence for them. I won't keep that background a secret. (I paid a lot of money for those letters after my name, LOL.) I am comfortable talking about faith matters with people, but I am not defined by doctrine. Whether I am in a situation where faith is the topic or not, I am still called to love others as I love myself. (Sometimes I am not good at that either, but there's that pesky humanity breaking through.)

I guess what I wish is that I was wearing a mask when the less than loving attitudes come to the surface; when I am not living out who I am called to be regardless of being mother, child, sister, friend, classmate....

Who is the authentic me? It's the woman here- learning and growing, succeeding and failing, yelling and whispering, speaking kindly or not so much. Authentic me can wear flip flops at the grocery store or clogs at church, maybe even high heels when I'm really dressed up. All the pieces of my life fit together to make the whole woman, I just try to use my filter.


Friday, June 17, 2011

In Which She Sews a Grown-Up Skirt.

I love to wear skirts. I always have. When I got the sewing machine, I knew I could make Miss M some things but I also looked around the glorious Internet and found this skirt at Angry Chicken that I could *gasp* make for myself.

The picture above (Yes, I am standing on the toilet, I do not own a full-length mirror. What's your point? ;)) Is me wearing a version of the skirt.

I was a little worried about trying this skirt for two reasons. 1. I was making the pattern myself and 2. I have never sewn with elastic. I grew up hearing that making clothes for oneself was impossibly difficult (although my home economics project in 8th grade was a skirt with a zipper, button and gathering). My mother was many things, but a risk-taker was not one of them.

Yesterday I was talking about my lack of clothing that fits and how difficult it is for me to find things I like. The Husband said, "Didn't you see a skirt online you wanted to make?" Busted! I hemmed and hawed, but the Husband was having none of it. "What's the worst that happens?" he said.

After dinner I ran to the fabric store and found some fabric (30% off woo hoo!) and ran to another fabric store for fold over elastic. This morning I measured myself (sob) and made a pattern on newspaper. It looked too full at the bottom so I took it in a little bit , comparing it to another skirt I own.

When Miss M went down for her nap, I had a go at it. The result is in the photo above. I do not have a serger so it has a regular hem and the elastic was definitely a learning experience, but it came out fine. I will tweak the pattern a little more to make it less full and maybe a touch shorter, but I certainly consider it a success.

It was fun! As I was pinning the hem, I remembered that my paternal grandmother was quite a seamstress. I never met her but I remember hearing stories of the intricate wedding dress she made for my mother. I wonder if I'm channeling a bit of her when I sew? I am not skilled but I do enjoy it and that is half the battle, right?

I feel incredibly blessed to be able to try new things, to learn and grow. There are so many things I have learned in my life, some are tangible and others are not. Today in the process of making something tangible, I learned something about myself too.

It's all part of the process.


Monday, June 13, 2011

They're Watching

Yesterday, *N* (9) was measuring a box to make a loom (Why, yes, it was creative arts Sunday at our house, thank you for asking.;) ) and the Husband suggested he just place the measuring tape at the edge of the box so it would be easier. "But Dad," he snapped, "Then it won't be perfect! That edge is cracked!"

After we both picked our jaws up off the floor, I said, "I never realized he was a perfectionist, did you?" "No," the Husband responded,"He gets it from you, though."

Guilty. I don't try to be a perfectionist. I don't demand perfection from my children. Alas, I am a perfectionist who works very hard not to show her anxiety about being "less than perfect" even though I do not think anyone else should be. I am my own harshest critic, I do not have the energy (or the street cred) to judge another human. (I try to worry about the log in my own eye, which tends to block my view of anyone else's specks.)

So as I reflected on my offspring's' perfectionist tendencies, I thought of a sweet friend's explanation of a parenting book she is reading, about kids being sponges and observing our behavior and not just what we're intentionally trying to teach them.

I used to wonder why my 16 yo was so worried about another person's opinion of him, why he couldn't just be himself and proud of it, more self-conscious, it seems,than other kids his age. I spent so much energy when he was young trying to teach him those he wouldn't be like me. I encouraged him to stack the stacking rings every which way, for goodness sake! I danced around the living room singing to him, "Life is not tried it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire." (Thanks Garth Brooks. ;) )

I talked the talk, but how much did I walk the walk? How much did I try to avoid risk and possible rejection or embarrassment? How many times to I get anxious or frustrated by something less-than picture perfect; something perfectly fine but not picture perfect?

The children have been watching. You know that poem, "Children Learn What They Live"...yeah well, apparently, it's true.

Lord, I know that You can use my failures and imperfections for good. I just pray that my imperfect perfectionism won't hold my kids back from fully enjoying life. I need to walk the walk and I hope it's not too late to teach by example.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chipping Away At My "Log"

I have an opinion. Then I look in the mirror and I remember that verse in the Bible about removing the log in my own eye before worrying about the speck in someone else's.

No, I am not confessing to sending lewd e-mails or photographs. That is not my struggle, my "log" so to speak.

No, friends, my "log" is the fact that I cannot seem to face the reality that my metabolism is not what it was when I was 20. My impulse seems to be that when I have a craving for Swedish Fish or a cookie, I just walk to the kitchen and attempt to satisfy that craving, until the next one comes along.

I never had an emotional attachment to food. Maybe I had a reverse attachment? I used to lose my appetite whenever I was stressed or upset. After my mother died my only sustenance for several days was Coca Cola, everything else made me nauseous. Now, I eat when I'm bored, when I'm worried, when I read a book that talks about an enticing recipe. When I feel like eating, I eat. Instead of curbing the impulse, I go with it.

Yesterday I had a turning point. First, I tried on clothes and had an unpleasant reality check and then, I realized I cannot really talk about another's inability to keep impulses in check if I drink a soda or have a few cookies just because they're there.

I also realized that it's not just about my weight but how I want to feel. I want to feel strong and healthy, not squishy and weak.

In the evening I was chatting by the food table with my MOPS ladies (again. ;) ). I realized the women I was standing with, thin and chic and so strong, make the time to exercise and eat healthfully and I realized what a lazy slug I have been. I needed to act, not think about acting. I needed to curb the impulse to make excuses for why I could Not and make time to DO the work I need to do to reach the goal of health and strength and wellness and wholeness.

So today, I got up and fed the girly and ate old-fashioned oatmeal made with water and cinnamon, and then I exercised for 45 minutes. I felt so good (if a little sweaty) afterward. It felt good to move. It felt good to make a goal and at least follow through for one day. I felt energized and empowered because I acted in a positive way. I could have followed my impulse to wait for a perfect time or to be able to afford to join a gym, but instead I thought about the consequences of my inaction.

I said, "No," to the easy way, which is already showing me unpleasant consequences. I said, "No," to the coffee and the maple syrup on my oatmeal. I will find my way through this, but I am coming to terms with the reality that just because I have an impulse to eat an ice cream cone or a handful of cookies, it doesn't mean I need to act on it. I will discover the meaning of treat as something that happens on occasion instead of every day, multiple times.

While I have not fully removed the log from my eye, I can see it clearly. I am chipping away at it. I'm sure there will always be specks and new logs will take this logs place, but my goal is to make this one into mulch. :) '


Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little Motherly Advice..or, what it's all about.

I don't usually write about political things. It's not my "thing". 1 Praying Mom, not 1 political mom... I have opinions, to be sure, but this isn't the space for that.

However, in light of recent events and in light of the fact that my congressional district just held a special election related to such events and because another politician is not apologizing for his *ahem* indiscretion, I have something to say...

Obviously these people have not been paying attention to those PSAs on Internet safety or what you should know about your kids and the Internet. (Maybe they should make this sort of thing part of the swearing in ceremony?)

So, to all those officials elected because some people believed they would represent their districts well, I will share what we tell our kids and in particular our 16 year-old son who is getting ready to apply to colleges... Do not post any pictures of yourself you wouldn't want your mother, your grandmother or your pastor to see. Do not sent messages, pictures or video that you do not want to be "out there" in cyberspace for anyone to see. Do not say anything on facebook, in a text or an e-mail that you would like to keep private. Cyberspace is not private!

My 16 yo seems to understand this, why can't supposedly mature elected officials get it? (I'm sure there are "reasons" for the self-destructive behavior, but I don't want to engage in speculation.)

This is not about on which side of the aisle they're sitting. I don't care whether they're putting their right foot in or their left, please, be sure you're fully clothed before doing the hokey pokey and turning yourself around. That's what it's all about!

To quote Ferb from Disney's Phineas and Ferb, "Fame is fleeting, but the Internet is forever."


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hope and Friendship

Today I was trying to think of a funny mom moment to write about. It didn't jump right to my mind. It hasn't been a funny day. It has not been awful. I'm just not seeing the humor in the day. I wish I could.

The blessing in it all is that I have been blessed with wonderful phone conversations and e-mails and yes, even crackbook facebook has been a medium for support from many wonderful and different people in my life.

I am reminded again and again that my struggles and insecurities and worries are not mine alone. Not only am I not working through it in a vacuum and solo, but my "stuff" isn't as unique as I would like to think.

Isn't it good to know that in our misery we have company? And in that company we can see hope because others have walked it and are still walking! Not only do we have human, here on earth, company, but we have God always walking alongside us, or carrying us when it gets too rough.


A few years ago, I thought the worst thing that could happen would be for the Husband not to get endorsed for candidacy. Surely life as I knew it would end. Well, life as I know it did end. I still don't know where we're headed or why we're walking this particular path BUT it was not the end of the world. Rebuilding has been a struggle, but it's not a crisis in the way it seemed when I thought about it. I can look back and say, even that rejection did not end my life or my faith and maybe it is a blessing in disguise, although I don't quite see how or why yet.

Now, I can honestly say I have not met anyone else living that particularly crummy thing, but I have met people who have faced rejection and loss and we all have the same choice; sit and stew or "find new cheese" as Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote in his book, Who Moved My Cheese? (For full disclosure, I've only read the children's version but I'm told the message is the same.) ;)

When I am trying to find a new path, make a new plan, soothe another child's boo boo, I am not alone. I have been embraced by friends and an amazingly-huger-than-any-box-you-can-find God.

In each day, I cannot always find side-splitting humor. I can find hope. It's so good to not be alone. Thank you and thank YOU.

Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
From the soundtrack Friends

I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost and weary travellers to go

Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there then everything's all right

It seems to me a crime that we should age
These fragile times should never slip us by
A time you never can or shall erase
As friends together watch their childhood fly

Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there then everything's all right