Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My House Is Not Spic and Span

I used to babysit a lot when I was a preteen and teenager. I loved the kids, loving playing house, and the money wasn't too bad, either. We lived up the street from a family with four kids. I spent a lot of time with them babysitting, seeing them on the street, and watching them come down to my house to visit with my parents long after I had left for college.

In their downstairs bathroom hung a needlepoint quote that I still remember. I can't recall the whole poem, but the phrase that lingers in my mind is "Cleaning the House while the children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it's stop snowing.".

As I prepare my house for guests this week, I've often thought if I could just ship my three little ones off for a few days this house would look great. It would get clean and stay clean.

I'm trying to get a new perspective on this, however, in light of the memory of that needlepoint. You see the lovely mom who lived there is no longer here. Ann died of cancer 11 years ago and left a family without a mother, wife, or grandmother to be.

She lived that phrase. She focused on the important things; her children and family. Her house was clean and picked up, but I never saw her stressed or frantic trying to get it perfect.

The void she left in the lives of her children, especially her 3 daughters, is deep. Just this month, she would have welcomed another grandson into her family. She would have loved them to pieces. I wish she could have been here.

Last night I watched a movie from Hallmark Channel that I had DVR'd. It was called Home For Christmas about a mother who died years before, but returns to earth for one day to celebrate Christmas with her family.

The movie made me question who I would wish to have one more day with here on earth. Would I wish to rock the baby we lost 13 years ago? Would I want one more afternoon on the front porch with my grandfather and his homemade lemonade?

While I miss those who have gone before me to heaven, I think the person I most wish I could spend one more day with is my neighbor and mentor Ann. The mother who successfully raised four children and who created an environment of love and respect among the girls in her family that today they are still the best of friends. Who knew that the house didn't matter the children did.

I wish I could ask for her advice for the upcoming teenage years. I wish that I could share with her the fantastic job she did with her family. I'd ask if she ever thought she was treading water and not making progress with her kids.

My house will not be spic and span tomorrow for the Thanksgiving company. Children live here and they create mess. However, they also bring tremendous joy, spirit, and hope to a family and I wouldn't trade the "mess" for anything.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't Try This At Home/Hair Color Catastrophe

I got my hair cut yesterday and made the realization that I have few grey hairs. Yuck!

In my mind, they were the leftover blond hairs from the summer; you know how when you are young and your hair lightens from being at the pool and lake all summer. Well, I guess I'm not so young anymore. I have grey hair mixed into my ever darkening blond/brown hair.

I decided last night that I would take my hair into my own hands and color it; to cover the grey and get my hair an all-over-color. I used to highlight my hair regularly before children. Before dance classes, boy scouts, preschool and ever needing to be replaced shoes/coats/clothes took over the hair care extra budget. I mean seriously; $95 for hair color that costs $5.95-8.00 at the store.

My mom used to give me at home perms. I loved them. Hated the smell and the no wash rule for 2 days, but I think I figured I could duplicate her hair skills.

Hmmmm. Maybe not!!!!

I choose a Light Ash Brown. It made my hair the color of black licorice. Not exactly what I was going for this morning at 7:00 a.m. when I started this adventure. The beautiful woman on the Loreal box looked just like I wanted to look. Young, hip, and with flowing brown hair with streaks of sunshine mixed in. I looked old, Dracula-ish with streaks of tar mixed in. So much for advertising!!!!

I called the handy dandy 800 number to find out what to do. I admitted I had not done the strand test, but that it certainly did not look like me in the mirror or the girl on the box. Quick fix buy two new hair colors wait for my hair to turn apple red, then apply more till it's pumpkin orange, then apply the next color and keep waiting. It was 10 a.m. before I was done with this little adventure. My husband asked if I would stop at the Hardware Store on my way home. Was he kidding? No way was I going to allow anyone to see me as Elvira.

Today my hair looks auburn. Not red, or brown, but a mixture. It's not me yet, but its a lot closer to me than me of 7:00 a.m. this morning. It's even closer to me than the grey hairs I found yesterday at the salon.

Warning, if you are suddenly inspired to take up home hair color/hair care think again. I'm sure I took a few years of my life today with stress over my hair. I should have gone to the expert, spent the time and money at the salon and saved myself a few more grey hairs. These words from a sermon a few weeks back rang in my head this morning during a moment of sanity.

Matthew 6:25-29
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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Maybe I should insert the word "hair" to this list. God I know that "this" doesn't matter. I could have gone to church tomorrow in rags, with dracula hair or body beat up from the world and you would have welcomed me with open arms. Lord help me to look at the world with these eyes.

But I'll tell you it's hard not to give into the flesh and try to convince my kids to stop growing so I could maybe keep the greys away for good. Seems like a fair trade as before them I had perfectly blond hair perfectly coiffed.

(Edited to note: If you know me in real person pretend you didn't read this post. Not that anyone reads these posts anyway!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Gather Together: Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I've seen houses all decked out with their lights, a few inflatables in place being jolly, and believe it or not, a few Christmas Trees have been seen through Family Room Windows.

Did I miss Thanksgiving? Now I realize that getting ready for season is half the fun of Christmas time. I like to get my lists made, my Christmas Cards addressed, and have even been known to listen to a few Christmas songs before December 1st. However, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving before we jump straight into Christmas.

Thanksgiving is too important, too patriotic, too spiritual to be seen only as a day off or a day before the biggest shopping day in the year.

I love Thanksgiving. My family gets together, we have grandparents traipsing across the plains to come, we have traditions, foods that we only have at Thanksgiving, and of course, we have football and shopping this weekend, as well. However, we try to focus on Giving Thanks and on thanking God for his abundant blessings,mercy, and grace.

We all share our "We are Thankful for..." thought around the Thanksgiving Table.

One year our then 3 year old M said she was most thankful for Cheese. Yes, cheese. I think she really was. It was probably the most honest answer ever. She loved cheese.

I love the song "We Gather Together". I love the thought of Pilgrims and Indians sitting across from each other on a cold November day and sharing their bounty and their good will. It gives me hope to think of such grand gestures. I love, that even in times of trial, uncertainty or hardship, these good people gave thanks. They recognized their blessings were from God and thanked Him.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I'm trying to focus my heart on this moment, this season, this feeling of thanks before the hectic days of December are pulling at me.

There is so much to be grateful for this year, so much to pray a prayer of Thanksgiving to God for at this moment; for health and strength and daily bread we praise thy name O God.

We Gather Together Hymn
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised!O Lord, make us free!

Let us gather together this year and celebrate the bounty the Lord has provided and not worry so much about the next day, week or month. Thanksgiving deserves it's own celebration. What a blessing it is to honor that day!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Math Jocks Rule

My son is a math jock. I mean that in the nicest way. He gets math. His mother not so much.

He was in a City Wide Math Competition last week with 6th graders from all over the district. They had a 60 question written exam followed by a 30 question team quiz bowl.

He had the biggest cheering section. Yes, you can go to math competitions and watch! Bet you didn't know that did you? His grandfather, both parents and youngest sister watched the Quiz Bowl. His little sister and I had made a poster, we clapped and yelped and got all excited when they were competing.

The test was so hard that 22/60 was the top score. My husband struggled on the practice tests, said he couldn't believe how hard the questions were. It was about concepts and skills they didn't know yet.

My son said they competed "smart" by dividing the test into 4 sections. They each answered those questions and helped each other out on the tough ones. Great Teamwork!!

When they announced the winners, we held our breaths. His team of 4 took first place in the written exam and 4th in the quiz bowl. First Place-wow. I might have run down the aisle and snapped a few pictures of the big trophy and burger king hats they gave to the winners, but we don't have to tell anyone, do we?

We were so proud.

Math is not my thing. When the quiz bowl questions were on the screen, I didn't know all the answers. I'm ok with that. I'm ok with my son being a math jock. I can hardly wait to see how God will use this incredibly intelligent and bright young man some day.

This is the same kid who at the age of 3 told us he wanted to be a Astronaut and, at age 5, when the shuttle crashed said instead he'd be an Aeronautical Engineer so he could build a better spaceship.

He told me that the math competition was one of his best days ever.

Next year I'm getting t-shirts printed up with My Son is A Math Jock. You won't see a prouder Mom!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Having a Mary Heart

This fall, I've been reading the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. My "Mom's Bible Study "has been using this book as our study .

This book is very convicting. The chapter we discussed today was #4 The Cure which is about overload, burn out and the expectations we place on ourselves as believers. We want to serve God, but too often we take on too much, get stressed out, and forget thatFellowship with Him is only "one thing" that matters to God.

Too often, I am that Martha by working away in the kitchen, at the church, at the school and missing out on the joy of just following with Christ.

I guess to keep it real that if I am trying to be "found faithful," I'm missing the boat because I'm too busy on the shores of life trying to check one more thing off my list

Here are a few of the key points I underlined from this fabulous chapter....things I want to walk away with and store in my mind and heart

"The problem is, contrary to popular belief, we can't do it all. We're not even suppose to try." (page 57)

"Sometimes I think I struggle to discern God's will because I'm surrounded by the obvious....I'm surrounded by legitimate needs, and I want to do them all." (page 57)

" I realize then that, while there are many things that need to be done, things I'm capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. ....God may be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What's more, I may be stealing someone else's blessing when I assume I must do it all." (page 59)

"Service was never supposed to be our first priority. .. Only one thing is needed and it is happening not in the kitchen, but right there in the living room. .. The Truth is, we can't get our spiritual act together unless we go to the Living Room first." (page 60)

"I cannot do everything, but I can do "one thing"." (page 63)

That "one thing" is to sit in God's presence and to worship Him, to learn more about Him and to have fellowship with Him through prayer and time in His Word.

Some of my greatest moments of worship of late have been in the car. We have KLOVE on the radio most of the time and my kids will ask me to turn it up so they can hear and sign along. I love to hear all three of them singing songs of praise, of comfort and words of scripture. They are hiding God's word in their heart one melody at a time.

It does a Momma's heart good.

Now I just need to make sure that I'm hiding these precious words above in my heart too. That I'm sitting in the Living Room hearing/listening to God's still voice instead of in the Kitchen trying to get the next thing done.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul

My littlest told her friend today that because Obama won we'd be moving to a new state.
My middle child was crying last night when she went to bed because she was so sad for McCain.
My oldest thought maybe we should demand a recount.

Reality was a little hard to take in our corner of the Red States this morning.

God's plans are not always my plans. His ways are bigger. He puts in place leaders and requires of us to render unto Cesar what is Cesar's.

Today, we talked about the fact that the sun still came up this morning. That God is still in His Place and He is still in control. We are praying for our country, our new leader and for our world.

We are not moving. We are sad, but we are resolute. We have faith in our country.

Not my will Lord, but yours.

A song has been floating through my head all day long. It is Well With My Soul. A song about trusting God in the tough times and counting it well with our souls because God is still God and in Him alone can I trust.

Maybe for you it's not the election that has you needing to trust, maybe it's a illness or a loss of a job; maybe it's other people letting you down once again. No matter the circumstance God is still good, all the time.

"Dear Lord may these words fill my heart and mind, so that will full faith and confidence I can declare it well with my soul."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day and Parenting

I have a pit in my stomach. I hate Election Day. I love to go to the voting booth and get my "I voted today sticker", exercising my civic duty . I will proudly tell anyone who I voted for and why, but I can't stand the tension of the day. ( John McCain)

Working on campaigns in the past, Election Day is kind of a let down day. It's all over, your work is done and now you have rely on that work to pay off.

Sure you can go to polling booths and hold signs, you can stand on cold street corners and pray for drivers to honk approval at your yard sign and you can even make a few last minute phone calls to supporters to see if they need rides to the poll. But you can't go cast their ballots ( at least it use to be that way!) and you can't personally vote more than once ( that vote early vote often phrase use to be a joke-not so much anymore).

You have to wait until 8 p.m. for the first votes to come in to judge how well your candidate has done. To see how far ahead or behind they are in the race to the finish.

Just wait. Trust your gut and have faith.

It's a lot like parenting.

Election Day is kinda like College Drop Off Day. It's like First Day of Kindergarten. It's the first day of Junion High. You've put in the hard work, you've given it your all. Your candidate is the best you've ever seen, you have full faith and confidence in them, now it's all up to them. Will they perform the way you know they can, will others have the same faith and confidence in them? Will they be the golden boy or girl you know they can be?

Trusting the electorate, trusting your gut, trusting your God to fill in the gap. It's tough.

I haven't been sleeping well the last few nights. I'm worried about the future of our country.

I know the sun will rise again tomorrow. I know God is still on the throne. My flesh is nervous but my soul is content.

As I journey through new stages of parenting I struggle just the same. I have sleepless nights, I over think and analyze. I have to trust God to be there, to with my "candidate-child" to help them make it to the finish line.

I have to trust they have all the ability, knowledge and inner core values to make the right decisions, take the right paths and make the right choices.

My candidate might not win the election today. My country might take a direction I didn't choose tomorrow. But you know what, I'll still be proud of my country. I'll still defend, protect and serve my country whenever I'm called.

For now I'm called to my homefront; to my family, community and church.

If my children take a wrong turn somewhere along the way, I'll still be here for them to love them, serve them and protect them. If it doesn't all go according to plan for them I'll still be standing beside them. That's my duty.