Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's On Your List?

What makes your wallet cringe? What fills aisles with frantic people clutching rumpled lists in sweaty palms?

A popular television ad sings, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

I am not talking about "Black Friday" sales the day after Thanksgiving, I'm describing "Back to School" shopping. Judging by the lists everyone is carrying, there is a goal to put stores "in the black" a few months sooner selling folders, (one of my boys needed 25 folders 5 in 5 colors, plus two. Why yes, his list really does require TWENTY SEVEN folders), pens, pencils, erasers, stretchy book covers (remember the old days when we used paper bags?), and binders (my boys only need the 2" and 3" in specific colors), etc. etc. etc.

Now, I am not writing to complain. Honest. I have never met their teachers and I am sure they have reasons for the lists and the supplies and that they are very nice. Please don't be angry at me, teachers.

Regardless of the who and why, the "back to school" aisles are filled with anguish. And it's not even the kids being gloomy about going back to teachers and tests and mystery meat in the cafeteria. No! It's the poor parents trying to figure out what to buy and how they are going to pay for it.

A total stranger stopped me to ask my opinion about two fancy binders, the brand is recommended on her daughter's list but there are two options, which is better? I was baffled. It could have been that they were pink and pink binders are just not my area of expertise (yet), or it could be that when things like this come up, I drag said child along to torture me with whining and rolling eyes choose. I happened to be standing with a friend who is a mother of daughters so I invited her into the conversation and she in turn asked her daughter. As I left the school supply aisle, the woman was on the phone asking her daughter which one.

I will be the first to admit I take this seriously. If I do not have the proper supplies for my kids, what might it say about my parenting or how much I value education? Will my kids be in trouble or teased if I do not buy the right stuff? I know I am not alone because the aisles were packed with people more intense about their sweaty, crumpled lists. What if these extensive lists are a financial hardship? While there are donation sites all around, what if the sites cannot fulfill the needs or people are uncomfortable asking? What kind of stress does this put on families? And to what end?

I understand that budget cuts mean families need to supply more stuff, but where do we draw the line? How much stuff is too much? Is all this "stuff" really going to make them learn better?

I don't know. I don't have the answers. Their lists are pinned to the wall, items checked off, supplies piled neatly in my closet. We still need things but as my friend said today, doing it in little bits takes some of the sting out.

I just keep thinking about the tablets and shared primers Laura Ingalls Wilder referred to in her Little House books. Hmmmm.....Going to school was simpler then, although the primers and tablets were a hardship for some. Maybe it's all about perspective? Or maybe the teachers own stock in folder manufacturing?


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Best Thinking...

Where do you do your "best thinking"?

As a mom of six kids, it can be difficult for me to complete a thought, at least a thought that makes sense.

The other day I had to plan a sample lesson and I was stuck at the beginning. I could not wrap my mind around the whole thing. It was like I had thoughts floating around in some colored water but I could not get it to "gel" into something that made sense.

Then...then I took a shower. That is one of the few places I am alone. There was white noise and I wasn't bombarded with constant whining needs and wants and stuff. In the shower while I washed my hair the idea came together. After getting dressed, I sat down on my bed (no one knew I was out of the shower so I was still alone) and started writing. I wasn't quite finished when little people came in, but I had enough of an outline that the idea stayed it's pretty shape instead of melting into a puddle.

When I was in seminary, I remember talking to a class mate about the fact that my best ideas came to me while I was in the shower but I often "lost" them before I sat down to write. (Talk about brain drain!) He said he had the same issue (and he had no kids to blame distract him. :O ). He told me that he kept dry erase markers in the shower and would jot down ideas on the shower walls. I've never tried it but it sounds like a good solution. (Should I have a disclaimer here that I do not endorse that as I do not know if they would fully wash off of grout, tile, or other shower surfaces?)

Anyway, the white noise and solitude of the shower helps me to think but it's the regular noise and action of my life that gives me the ideas and inspiration and passion to do most everything I do. It's a balance.

Delicate may not be the best word to describe it, but it is complicated.

The complications in life make it interesting but I do not always respond gracefully to them. I put myself in time-out yesterday. Actually, I stormed upstairs to wallow. In the quiet (I was alone which shows how unpleasant I was to be around, not one person wanted my company enough to follow me) I heard that still small voice that sent me to my Bible and Luke 12:22+. "Do not worry." That is the whole point of the passage. God has you covered. God has us covered.

The complications, the "what ifs?", the "what will go wrong nexts?" are going to happen whether I worry about them or not. What I do with the complications I can control. I can use them to grow and learn or I can simmer and fester. One is productive and allows creativity, one gets smelly and rancid.

My best thinking sometimes blooms in the quiet, but the seeds are planted and grow in the complications. When I do not worry, I can fully "see" and experience and live fully. I can do my best thinking.

Do not worry.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Name is...

Hi folks. My name is Stacey and I have a problem.

I have become a little bit addicted to sewing, or planning to sew or reading tutorials about sewing cool stuff.

Seriously. made and craftinessisnotoptional have become my favorite blogs to read. They inspire me and empower me. Yes, I can make skirts and ooh, look at that bapron (bib) and what about those diaper covers?

The tutorials are great. The projects are cute. All I want to do is sew nifty things. I drool over fabric websites. (Well, not literally, thank goodness. My keyboard is not waterproof.)

I guess you could call this my new passion. I still love to knit and scrapbook. Knitting is a great take a long and scrapbooking is a social hobby. It's just not the same when I scrap by myself.

Sewing is a great opportunity to be creative and inside my own head and it's productive. There is a tangible product at the end. I love hobbies that give me something useful at the end. I think I justify time and money by their usefulness and it is so much easier to quantify the value of a useful item, like clothes we actually need rather than intangible things.

That is not to say that intangibles do not have value. Some of the most precious things we experience can be neither seen nor touched. Love. Joy. Faith. Grace. We can try to use words and gifts to describe and express them, but they are uniquely experienced by each of us. But when I am choosing how to spend my time, things that provide for the family are justifiable while television is definitely mind candy. Candy is an occasional treat. (Occasional is a relative term.) Reading crafty blogs, on the other hand, is research. What? It's true! ;)

So, I have found a new hobby that I am embracing passionately. I am sure that the newness will wear off and it will become less of an obsession and more of a "to do", but it allows me to repurpose and be frugal and creative and how can you not love that? Well, maybe you can not love it, but I love it.

Praying that however you spend your day, it feeds your heart and soul and mind, even if it's a bit of candy that gives you joy.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be Bold

"Cuz it's been fear that ties me down to everything." Nichole Nordeman, Brave

This morning, I was reading a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) newsletter discussing the theme for the coming year and I had a moment of clarity. Or perhaps it was conviction? Whatever it was, it gives me a new way of looking at my SOP, Standard Operating Procedure.

In the article, the author, Alexandra Kuykendall, writes about the MOPS theme of the coming year, Bold. Loving. Sensible.. She notes, "If we are sensible but lack boldness, our offers of help may go unnoticed."

One of my frustrations is that I feel as though I am discounted because I am perceived as timid or inactive. Perhaps I am lacking in boldness. I find that I err on the side of sensibility, thinking things through, mulling them over, working out the pros and cons. I want a complete picture before I speak. this means that sometimes I over think things.

Because I am afraid. Afraid to bite off more than I can chew. Afraid to suggest something that sounds foolish. Afraid to fail.

Sensibility is a good thing. Mostly. But it can also be a way of hiding. Sensibility can prevent me from thinking outside the box, from pushing the envelope, from being all that I am created to be.

I have written enough developmental autobiographies in grad school to be able to tell you where this comes from in my upbringing. It's my mother's fault, and my father's and my brother's and sister''s (almost) always the family's fault, just ask a family system's theorist. ;)

My goal is to find the balance between bold and aggressive; to assert myself nonconfrontationally. How do you tell someone they're stepping on your toes when you're all on the same team?

I guess you pray about it. Duh!

If I was more bold, I bet this wouldn't be an issue.

I've spent a long time hiding behind my cloak of invisibility sensibility, now I need to get a little bolder. I don't need to tell anyone they're stepping on my toes, I just need to wear brighter shoes so they can see where my feet are. :)

Praying that as we each grow into who we are created to be, that we can do it boldly, lovingly, sensibly.

In the words of Martin Luther, "...Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly."


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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Milestone

Milestones are not just for babies.

Today my oldest son achieved a milestone that fills us with fear. He can legally drive a car without another licensed driver in the passenger seat.

Not only does that make me feel ancient, but seriously, I really have to take my own advice and wrap him in prayer because this is one more step into independence and well, there's a reason our car insurance rates DOUBLED today.

Wasn't it just yesterday that he spoke his first word, took his first steps, learned to write his name? Wasn't it just yesterday that he learned to ride his bike without training wheels, and now he's driving a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds?

I am blessed to have his younger siblings for distraction. I recognize that I have the (dubious) privilege of experiencing each of these parental milestones a few times. By the time Miss M gets her license I will be an old pro (old being key).

Being a mom teaches me over and over and over again to be patient and to have faith; to recognize that I am not in control and that I can lead and set and example but that children are not puppets. (It would be soooo much easier if they were.)

Lord, thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to experience these milestones, even when they leave me feeling unnerved. I know that in the process of trusting you and letting go, I grow too.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Three Stooges Go To Church

The whole eight of us were there but as I looked down the line of little ahem darlings, I saw the three stooges gathered around a pretty girl, AKA Miss M, and her body guard AKA her daddy.

The paparazzi should have gotten a picture but I could not snap a picture right then because that would have been wrong, we were in church and all. They were trying to hold her hands and tickle her feet and give her hugs, because they don't live with her or anything like that. (Rolling eyes).

We try to keep them quiet and well-behaved in church. Honest. For the most part, they do alright. The younger ones are learning and how can you learn without, well, being in the thick of it. For some reason the lure of Miss M is just too much and they had to love on her no matter how much the body guard scowled, shushed and firmly pushed their hands away.

Now, here's my confession, I was glad they were not all hanging on me like that. I did try to quietly refocus the children, hold *I* by the hand and on my lap but whenever I put him down he was drawn back like a moth to a flame.

Someday, they will all be able to sit in church, pay attention and worship. Some day. Right now, we are teaching the three stooges, and the others too, that being in church and worshiping God in community, is a positive and powerful thing. There they have lots of adults who know them by name, ask about their summer, comment on their new glasses or joke with them.

Yes, even the three stooges are part of a loving community of people who understand they are young, need to be taught and nurtured and loved right where they are, spiritually and developmentally. They are encouraged through loving examples to be a part of this community, not because we make them, but because their hearts and souls are fed there too.

Today I am thankful for my three stooges and their brothers and sister and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who bring the Word to life.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Anything or Everything or What?

I have want to do lists, need to do lists and should do lists.

I might write the lists but I only get to dictate what is on one of them.

The needs and shoulds are more pressing and sometimes I can find the silver lining in the most mundane of chores. A clean bathroom is so wonderful, reading Chicka, Chicka 1,2,3 one more time really makes *I* smile and that makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Sometimes, though, I just want to do what I want to do. (Whine. ;) )

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Reality who?
Reality is that you're a mom with 6 kids, a husband, school and volunteer responsibilities, you can't do everything. Or can you?

Yesterday I came across personal productivity guru David Allen's quote, "You can do anything, but not everything."

My initial internal response? "Says who?" Other than David Allen, I mean.

I know the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." I know that spreading oneself too thin can lead to lackluster performance. What I don't know if if I have to choose or if I can do the things I need, should and want to do all equally well, if I use my time more efficiently.

Proverbs 31 talks of a very productive woman in society. She gets it all done and then some. Some contemporary writers (I do not remember who or where, sorry) say the author is writing of an ideal, that it could be a group of women working together, but that for one modern woman to hold herself to that ideal is unrealistic. I'm not so sure.

A few years ago, my boys and I read Farmer Boy together. I was struck, as I read, exactly how much the mother did all day, every day. I mean, I whip up some cookies with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, not by hand. I have the washer and dryer, not a washboard and a line. (We change clothes more often than they did.) Our conveniences have made us feel like we cannot accomplish as much. We don't have time to do things and yet we have all sorts of time-saving devices. Personally, I believe my time-wasting devices negate any time-saving devices I have.

We have choices. One of the choices I have is what to do during the 24 hours I have each day. I can prioritize the needs and shoulds and even wants. It is easy to get distracted. I just don't want my distraction to lead me to believe I cannot do anything or everything or whatever is in the middle.

The woman in Proverbs 31 does many things, but nowhere does it say she does all of them every day. She rises early each day and fills her day with multiple tasks. So does every woman I know. To suggest that her life is an unreachable ideal for us sells us all short.

Instead of seeing life as a list of things not crossed off our list, perhaps we need to end a day honestly looking at all the things we've done and being thankful for that. If we want to get more done, can we honestly evaluate where our time went. Just like you plug the leaks in a pipe, can we fix the leak in our well of time wasters that distract us and prevent us from accomplishing the wants and needs and shoulds?

I know I am a work in progress, but I also know if I stop wasting time, I can do everything on all three of my lists. It just takes discipline. I guess that is the strength I will ask God to help me with today.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Proper Planning and Preparation

There is a military saying, "Proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance." (I admit I left a word out that also begins with a "p" but since I try to keep this clean... ;) )

I am all about planning and preparation. I get my work done early because you never know what might happen in this crazy house. I make lists, I plan and organize. As I wrote the last time, I was ready for my weekend of school.

Yeah, well...another quote I love is from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Awry is the stomach flu. Not the kids or the Husband. I would have left them to fend for each other and headed of to school spraying Lysol and rubbing in hand sanitizer as the door shut behind me. I'm warm and loving like that. Err I mean, I have confidence in the Husband to nurse the kidlets back to health. No! I got sick late Friday night and it lasted through Saturday. I had to email my teacher, get a medical excuse and try not to freak out about missing school.

I had stopped feeling stretched and was confident and comfortable. I had a plan and goals. Then the ick began and all my goals and plans were in the toilet. All the proper planning and organization and focus in the world did not prevent the unpredictable ick.

Fortunately, I slept the day away and Sunday morning I felt better, emotionally and physically. I could not help being sick. The weekend did not go as I had planned. However, because I was prepared for school, I was not behind.

We cannot always anticipate what may happen. We can plan and prepare but when our plans go awry, because of the ick or because things and people do not respond the way we'd expect or like, we have a choice. We can give up or we can adjust.

One thing I know for sure, proper preparation prevents panic. (Sort of. ; ) )


Friday, July 15, 2011


This morning when all was still relatively quiet I was still in bed, Miss M snuggled up in my arm where she had been since she started fussing at 5:30, I was reflecting on all the things I needed to accomplish today.

As the sun was rising and I was still half-asleep it all seemed quite peaceful and peace-filled. My mental list flowed and I saw how easily I would be able to sit down, commit my mental list to paper and then cross each item off.

Perhaps I was dreaming?

At 6:40, *I* came in. "Good morning, Mom!" He was full of joy as he climbed in to bed with us. Miss M popped up and started giggling as she tried to climb off the bed. Daddy caught her as I went to wake up *J* for Driver's Ed. I picked up Miss M and *I* and we headed downstairs to where *C* and *E* were already sitting. (Why, yes, I do have early risers.)

The morning chores began- feeding little people, mediating disputes and making coffee. My list, crystal clear in the dawn's early (and peaceful) light became a little muddled. After the immediate needs of the brood were met, I poured a cup of coffee and began writing a grocery list and a "to do" list. The grocery list was on the "to do" list as were some school projects.

I have school this weekend. On my list are finish tweaking my paper for submission and prep for an exam. getting the paper submitted is weighing on my mind. I sit down and fire up the laptop to get started in the relative quiet. And then, the Husband starts up the stairs asking the boys to be quiet so mommy can work. As the bathroom door closes behind him, the bickering begins. Really?! I was annoyed and then I felt guilty.

Have you ever heard that prayer/joke about the mother Thanking God because she hasn't lost her temper etc with her kids and then at the end she says how she hasn't gotten out of bed yet? Well, that is how I felt! Before I got out of bed, I had this day covered. I got out of bed and reality hit.

I know I need to breathe and pray and bite my tongue a bit but sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and yell, "Could you give me five minutes to complete a thought!?" Do you want to know what I did today? Keep wondering. ;)

I sit here drinking my second cup of coffee and the paper has been submitted (because I would not be writing here if it wasn't). The Husband went to the grocery store after dropping the boy off and after I shower I am going to prep for my exam.

Sometimes being in school and having a children stretches me and stresses me. I do not always respond the way I would like to. I try to take everything in stride but sometimes the pressure I put on myself and the family I love very much are pulling me in opposite directions and I feel like I'm going to be drawn and quartered.

It is in these moments when I begin to wonder and worry. I start to think maybe I'm not being the wife and mother God has called me to be. I pray for guidance and wisdom and things settle down.

My path is not the right path for everyone but both my journey and destination are opportunities to bring glory to God.

Sometimes stretching can tear me apart. Today I remembered that stretching can bring growth, too. Thank You God, for helping me stretch and stay in peace today. (Pun intended.)


Monday, July 11, 2011

I Can Do It Myself

That's a fairly typical preschool phrase, isn't it? They're learning about being independent and testing boundaries and yet they still have limitations, both in capability and in what they are allowed to do. Sometimes as a mom I have to say, "Yes, you can, but no, you may not." That does not make me popular, but I'm okay with that.

Lately I, too, have been saying, "I can do it myself." I do not think I'm superwoman and I am getting better at asking for help when I need it. I am learning that needing other people to back me up is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and wisdom.

What do I want to do myself? Make things. I mean, just because everything is mass-produced in a factory now, it doesn't mean I can't do it at home, right? (Well, except shoes. I cannot see myself picking up cobbler skills any time soon. LOL)

It started with the skirt I made a few weeks ago. I followed online instructions and it was a perfectly serviceable skirt but it was too full and long and I felt frumpy. My seam ripper and I spent a couple of hours (it took forever and three days, I think) and took apart the skirt, adjusted the pattern and remade the skirt. Now it is great! (I even got a compliment on the skirt when I was out shopping! That totally made my day!) Since then I made another skirt and I've been contemplating making more. It's a great casual summer skirt.

Now I look at clothes and I think about how it could be made at home by me. I am by no means an experienced seamstress but it's fun to plan and try and learn. I am only limited by....time. I like to do a lot of things. I realize that while I enjoy many things, I also have many obligations and people counting on me to read stories and pitch wiffle balls among other things.

I want to do things myself instead of having them done by a machine or a worker on another continent. I am not superwoman and I have not found a way to manipulate time so I am going to have to pick and choose and prioritize.

I want to do it myself. I can do it myself. I have a choice though. I can make it or not. I can spend an hour on facebook or I can spend an hour reading a book. I have the power and the freedom and the ability to choose. How awesome is that?

I am so thankful that I have the ability to do everything I can do. I try not to take it for granted. I do though. Sometimes in the midst of whatever I am doing, I will stop and think about it and I will say a prayer of thanks and praise. It is in the knitting and sewing and pitching of wiffle balls and reading that I see the way little blessings and opportunities in my life are so incredibly special.

I see that all the things I can do myself are actually done with the help of an amazing God.

Praying that we all can see the blessings in the everyday things.


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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Rally Cap

Last week *N*'s team was down a few, like 6, runs. One of the boys on the bench said, "Come on guys, rally caps!" A bench full of nine and ten year-olds turned their caps inside out..and started fighting for the win.

This morning I came downstairs and *E* was already in uniform...with his cap turned inside out. "Look mom, I have my rally cap on." The game hasn't begun so I'm not sure that's exactly positive thinking, but it got me to thinking.

Life has thrown us a bunch of lemons lately and I am getting tired of lemonade. The sweetness has come from recognizing the blessings of our children, our family, friends and our church.

When the van died as I pulled into my driveway on Thursday evening, I was starting to think my life was like a country song..well the car dying at least. The Husband hasn't left, we don't have a dog but you get the picture right? "Play the song backward" went through my head but...I don't know that I want to trade the blessings I do have for other things line up. Can't they all just line up? Right now? In my timing?

I whined about this to God. "Other people have their lives work out, why not us? I try to do what You want, Lord!" Oh I was whining and feeling a little (or a lot) sorry for myself.

This morning I looked at *E* and I turned to the Husband and grinned. "Maybe," I said, "We need to have a family rally cap."

What would that look like? I don't think we all need to walk around wearing baseball caps inside out, although it would be an interesting fashion statement. (I can see the 16 year-old rolling his eyes now.)

Perhaps it is a state of mind? A renewal of spirit; family team spirit and the Holy Spirit too. Perhaps our rally caps are strengthened by a little armor and a shield of faith.

Ephesians 6:13-18
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people

Today, I will turn my proverbial cap inside out. I will keep smiling and praying. I will put on the armor of God and not lose hope. It's time for the family to rally.

Oh, and if you're wondering...the score of the game was 19-12. *N*'s team won. :)


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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Something New

In the right hand column---> is a new button you can click on, "Top Mommy Blogs".

Top Mommy Blogs is a ranked niche directory of mom blogs. Our members blog about all aspects of mommyhood.

I blog about mommyhood and, in my desire to grow this piece of my life, I sought out some advice and one of the wise people I spoke with suggested I get hooked up in this way and so, I applied and *gasp* they accepted me. (This where I do that Sally Field, "They like me, they really like me." LOL)

What does this mean? Well, it means that if you read this blog and you like it, see value in it, think everyone should be exposed to my witty writings others would enjoy it too, you can click on that button and it's like voting for me. If I get enough "votes" then my pages will rise in rankings and then will get more visibility.

Not only that, but when you click on that button in brings you to a directory of lots of other cool mommy blogs and you might find some new and interesting blogs to read. That means new information, new insight and new cool people to meet in the blogosphere.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments, public and private. (I haven't been able to comment much, there seems to be a glitch that keeps looping me to a log-in...I'll keep trying though.)

Thank you for feedback, insight and support. Thank you for listening to my voice and sharing your own. :)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smile Umbrella

The other day I decided to turn over a new leaf. I have written about the diet and exercise demon with which I battle, but that is not the tree I was climbing. Perhaps it's in the same forest, but I decided to scale the tree that is positivity.

I am, by nature (or nurture?) something of a pessimistic, glass half empty, person. I made a vow to change that attitude, stop mulling over hurts or perceived insults and just let a smile be my umbrella. When a criticism, negative or judgemental thought came into my head, I made a conscious decision to put a stop to it and move on. Whether I felt snubbed, wanted to think like the fashion police or just felt a bout of "woe is me" coming on, I just didn't wallow in it.

It was surprisingly freeing and required far less energy than venting, stewing or trying to think of a way of addressing the snub (real or perceived) in a passive-aggressive way. I was prepared to face anything that came my way with love and self-awareness. I wasn't stuffing my feelings, I just wasn't letting my thoughts control my feelings and actions. Yes, I was practicing cognitive-behavioral therapy on myself.

And then...something happened that snuck in under my resolve and I started to wonder if this person was humming, "There's a sucker born every minute..." I started to wonder if I was being cynical or just cautious. Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean someone is not trying to "take you for a ride."

My smile umbrella was blown inside out by this doubt and suddenly I felt raw and vulnerable. What if you trust someone and they make a fool of you? What if they take your money but don't do what they promise? What if you think someone is your friend but when you reach out to them, they ignore you? What if?

Jesus answers my, "what ifs." Jesus knew someone was going to betray him. He KNEW! It was inevitable, necessary even. Jesus knew one of his disciples would deny even knowing him. He KNEW! Jesus didn't change course, he didn't call people out by name. Jesus loved.

I am not Jesus. I am human; weak, broken and afraid. However, I have such freedom in Jesus that I do not have to be a slave to the doubt and fear. I don't have to be a "sucker" but I also am free not to let the cynicism spread to all other areas. Caution is wise, don't misunderstand. However, sometimes just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean you have a reason to be.

I guess the key is to remember that God gives me the strength to do all things and I can try to model Jesus. Remembering his love, grace and mercy always makes me smile. Now that's a BIG umbrella.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day! (Risk and Reward)

You would think that in a house with 6 children, 5 of them boys, noise would be fairly common, right? I mean, kids are loud anyway, but many scrapbook stickers have I seen describing boys as "noise with dirt on them".

It would stand to reason that said children would be accustomed to noise. Not. So. Much. The 16 year-old accuses me of having the car radio too loud. (What's wrong with that picture?) The 6 and 4 year-olds cannot tolerate going to the fireworks. Granted explosions are not common place at casa de testosterone (no would-be mad scientists in the house, yay me!), but they don't like loud noise as a rule and they are walking loudness, unless of course you ask them a question and they're sitting in the way-back row of the van, then they adopt library voices, because that's what my kids do, use library voices everywhere but in the library...or church.

So instead of being at the fireworks on the Independence Day, *I* and *E* are sleeping in a tent in the living room. The Husband, *J* and *N* are enjoying the rockets red glare, while I keep the home fires television going. (Fireworks from NYC, volume and climate control from the comfort of my living room.)

Sometimes I worry that the boys will miss out on too many things because they are afraid. Sometimes fear is a good thing. It prevents us from putting ourselves in unsafe situations. The fireworks are safe, but if they are faced with other issues which give them that feeling in the pit of their stomach that screams "unsafe" I want them to trust it. If someone suggests they try elevator surfing or swimming in posted waters or whatever other risky behavior is facing them, I want them to be afraid, be very afraid...and say, "No!"

Not everything that fills us with fear can actually harm us. A professional fireworks display should be safe even if it is loud. We can fear all sorts of innocuous things. We have to discern what is real danger and what grows teeth, or fangs, in our imagination but is actually quite safe.

We need to understand risks versus rewards. For *I* and *E*, the reward of going to the fireworks was not worth tolerating the noise.

There are risks and rewards in life. In 1776, the Founding Fathers had to weigh risks and rewards. I am thankful to have the freedoms I have today thanks to the bravery and risk of so many men and women in the armed forces. Thank you! Happy Independence Day.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Pitching and Parenting...

*N*, 9, loves to play baseball. This is his fourth season playing and the first season he is playing kid-pitch. He has been hit by a pitch at least once in every game he has played. Fortunately, they haven't gone higher than his waist. Yet. He is able to shake them off, take his base and move on.

*N* loves to catch and will gladly don the gear and chatter the batter's ear off. It works for him. He is, however, a lefty and I have been informed by people who know more about America's pastime, people like the Husband, that lefties are not catchers as they move up. Not that we're expecting him to play major league ball or anything, but even in high school, righties have an advantage in this position.

Last night *N* got the opportunity he has dreamed of since the start of the season. He got to pitch. And...he hit a kid in the shin. As soon as it happened he was yelling, "I'm sorry," to the hitter, or was it the hittee. This batter did not shake it off. He took a couple steps and then crumpled to the ground. The boy was helped to the bench and pinch runner took his place on first.

*N*, our own ball magnet, felt badly. He wanted to pitch and wants to keep working on it, but pitching is different than when he chases a player down between home and third. (He's small but scrappy and fast.) As the pitcher, he was trying to throw a ball that was in the zone but not something the batter would hit, far different that pitching a wiffle ball to his younger brothers.

Pitching changes depending on who you're pitching to. Parenting is like that too. There isn't one right way to parent each child, even if they're siblings. There is no one best discipline technique or even response to a behavior. Personalities and circumstances can and should inform how we respond. Just like a pitcher will handle a righty or a lefty differently, a parent should have the awareness that each child needs a different type of discipline and reward, too.

There is one major difference between pitching and parenting you're looking for a sweet zone. The difference is, as a parent you and your child are on the same team, you don't want to strike him (or her) out. I don't usually think about life in baseball terms like ahem someone I live with. I guess the season is having an influence. ;)