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Archive for the ‘children 7-9’ Category

scbcaleb2The ACLU and timid school administrators keep trying to squash prayer in school.

My oldest son came home from second grade afraid that his teacher would know that he was “praying in his head” and he would be punished because prayer was not allowed in school.  A mother-son discussion ensued.  Years later, he told me about a pre-class discussion among his peers (respected football players, basketball players, and, of course, soccer players).  Before class started, they debated the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues. Yes, I had a mom-moment, seeing a seed bloom. A lot of these young men became Young Life Leaders in college, ministering to high school students.  Wow!  Seed harvested?

Last year, my little guy came home concerned about one of his BFFs.  The class bully was picking on him.  His friend had missed school because of the sitution.  Sometimes his friend cried.  My little guy came home and said, “I prayed for Joshua today.”  He had prayed for someone he cared about who had a need! Another mom moment. A seed planted was sprouting.

A few days ago, my little guy came home from school.  We had our daily discussion about lunch, school, and what the little boy who causes trouble did that day.

“When I was in the bathroom, I prayed for him,” he answered. He had prayed for someone that had a need, not because he was a BFF. Rather, this was someone who made the day tougher sometimes.  Another mom moment! That sprouting seed grew another inch.

christian-caleb-and-gator-2

My little guy says he wants to grow up to be like The Biggest Brother of Them All. I would say he is on his way.

As long as parents pray with their children at home, in the van, on the playground, the soccer field, or any place for any need, there will be prayer in school. Don’t just pray, though.  Discuss who needs prayer besides ourselves and our immediate family members.  On the way to school, one son leads The Lords Prayer, another leads the Psalm 23. Then I pray, “Dear Lord, I pray that today we let someone know about the love of Jesus either through our words or actions.”

Prayer in school?  It  is going on in student’s heads, at the flag pole, during the moment of silence when students bravely lead The Lord’s Prayer, and, apparently, in the bathrooms. Our children can make a difference one prayer at a time.

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For the last 20 years, when traveled home to visit family, we passed this house. It is like an old friend you sitting on a porch as you go into town. We watch for each other, greet each other and pass on by. I have seen it in various stages of seasonal dress, warm moods, stormy moods, desolate moods. I always wonder about its heart, about what kind of love lived in there.

What do you see, when you look at this house?

Do you see

this?

houseinfield4

Sometimes, I see Loss

At othertimes, Unsustainable Change,

Isolation

Left-behindness

Not what I asked for

Maybe Life without God

or

do you see

this?

houseinfield1

 Hope of Home Sweet Home

memories

that swirled

within those walls

Laughter wafting out the windows

 opportunity for Shelter

to put down roots

to build a life

out of

abandonment

brokendownness

Opportunity

Restoration

Security

New Life all around

Hope

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Each picture, the same house, one symbolizing hopelessness and confusion, the other hope.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Which House are You Living in?

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prayer_1 I am forgoing Simply Saturday this week to promote Monday as a day of Prayer to Stop Violence in our Schools. A few years ago, when my one son was threatened at school, I dealt with this issue.  A fellow student showed him a knife and said he was going to stab him in the back and kill him with it the next week.

This student missed school often, disappeared for weeks at a time, and eventually, after an altercation,was put in a foster home.  Every time this student came back into the classroom, my son’s grades went down.  The administration recommended that he have a witness with him at all times, at the bathroom, on the way to soccer practice, in the hallways.    I know what you’re thinking, but let’s follow my point for the moment.

One Spring afternoon, I sat on my porch, probably grading papers, and thinking about this issue.  This boy thought my son had it all. He was 6 ft. tall in the 7th grade.  He was popular, but he didn’t realize it.  Like any child he had his own issues.  This boy didn’t realize that everyday when my son came home, we scooped his emotional self up and helped put him back together. 

I realized that this young man’s spirit cried out for what my son had, parents who cared enough to help him put himself together, loved him through the good, the bad, and the ugly to help him become the man God created him to be.

By 7th grade, you cannot schedule a play date.  If you have smaller children, you cannot risk a dangerous person coming into their environment.  I sat there, the mother in me, grieving for this young man who needed a mom who would fight for him.

This young man needed Jesus Christ in his life.  Yet, how do you say to a boy who doesn’t know the love of a Father, God, come meet my Father?  How do you encourage someone to become a Christian, give their life to The Father, when maybe their father beats them or abandoned them?  The book, To Tell the Truth, by Will Metzger discusses this same issue.  So many youth today are not raised hearing the language of God, instrucuted in the Godly principles of God, introduced to the nature of this awesomely loving God.  We have to start from scratch.  From a very first introduction, one stranger to another.

As I sat there, on my porch, I realized this boy, almost a man, did not have a mama who prayed for him. Probably few people ever did.  I started praying for this young man. I say young man because according to Judeo-Christian values, 13 is the age of accountability, where one becomes responsible for the condition of their souls.  I think that is pretty manly.

Yesterday, when a school brawl resulted in a student being critically stabbed, I realized that even though we had moved to another state, back to my husband’s hometown, that violence in school is not just an isolated incident, but crosses district lines, county lines, and state lines.

To end or greatly reduce violence in our schools, we need to reach hurting, hopeless, and spiritually hungry students  to give them a hope that God in a covenant relationship provides abundantly. Hope stiffles the urge to lash out.  Hope sees positive solutions. Hope may results in the aggressive defensive use of force, but it is never the offensive use of force. Hope brings light to dark places.

I pray that eyes will be opened, ears will hear

and hearts will be changed

that God will send laborers

into the hallways, the lunchrooms, the classrooms

who either by word or example

plant the seed of hope

through the Love of Jesus Christ

who is our hope

Our youth need to find the one true hope in a loving God who knows their needs, knows their hurts and fears, knows their dreams.  They need to be introduced to the God who promises the following to His children:  “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,

  • I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crop and the trees of the field their fruit. 
  • Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting,
  • and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
  •  I will grant peace in the land,
  • and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.
  •  I will remove savage beasts from the land,
  • and the sword will not pass through your country. 
  • Your will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you.
  •  Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
  •  I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers,
  •  and I will keep my covenant with you.
  •  You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you have to move it out to make room for the new.
  •  I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.
  •  I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people”(Leviticus 26:1-12).

Please join me Monday in prayer to stop violience in our schools by praying that the seeds of hope are planted in their lives.

 

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I am resposting “Shouldn’t Children be Encouraged to Defend Themselves” today. Sadly, a high school student at my sons’ high school was stabbed during an in-school brawl with a kitchen knife. He was air-lifted in critical condition. Word of mouth discusses one student taunting, both fighting, one evening the odds. The school went into lock-down mode. I firmly believe that a passive approach to bullying and mis-behavior breeds out-of-control violence. I cannot express the saddness in my heart for these two young men and their families. I cannot express the feeling of frustration that makes me feel like sending my sons to school is like playing Russian Roulette with their lives. I am going to make Monday in my home an unofficial Day of Prayer Against Violence in Our Schools. Won’t you join me?

Shouldn’t Children be Encouraged to Defend Themselves

soldiers“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force,” was played out last week with the death of an honor student in Chicago by violent gang members. Aggressive force ruled. There are two types of aggressive force: Aggressive forced used offensively, and Aggressive force used defensively.

In the public school system, Aggressive Force Used Offensively wins. If Johnney, uses aggressive force offensively by kicking, punching, or pulling a knife, and Sam, uses aggressive force defensively to stop the kicking, punching, or pulling a kinife. Both are punished. Equally. Sam gets suspended for defending himself. Johnney gets suspended, too.

The young man-yes, young man, not a child, who was killed would have been suspended for defending himself if that had happened on school grounds.

The system emasculates rule-abiding students, while empowering rule-breaking students

My 3rd grader is being kicked, shoved, and verbally assaulted consistently. The teacher admitted using everthing in his behavior-solution bag, “I don’t know what else to do.” My son’s 3rd grade world is governed by the aggressive use of force-except the governing force is a fellow 3rd grader.

My husband told him that if the child hits him, to hit back twice as hard. However, if that happens, my son risks earning the same rap sheet as the instigator.

fight2One of my sons had a similar, but more threatening experience in 7th grade. As the principal explained to me, it all stareted when the class bully kept throwing tootsie rolls at a girl and hitting her in the eye. My son told him to stop. It was Halloween. After Thanksgiving, this same student pulled a knife on my son and threatened to use that same knife to stab him in the back and kill him the next week.

My son’s middle school world was governed by the aggressive use of force.

I asked the principal, “Is this a kid who is just having a tough day, or is this a kid with a history of issues?”

She couldn’t tell me. She also could not do anything about the student with the knife: even though other students had seen the knife, it didn’t count because a teacher didn’t see the knife.

My son was told to always have a witness with him, whether he went to the bathroom, soccer practice, or changed class.

boxingI was assured that my son had just as fine of privacy rights as the student who pulled the knife. I countered that my son didn’t have anything to hide, so I didn’t need those privacy rights.

This student was in and out of school for the rest of the year. Each time he came back, the threats would increase. We met with the principal again. We told her that we gave our son permission to take 2 hits (understand that in the 7th grade, he was already 6 ft. 2 inches tall with the strength to seriously injure this little guy). If someone didn’t pull the young man off of him, then he had our permission to knock him to the next county. Even though, after taking 2 hits, and finally defending himself would result in a suspension.

“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force.”

Students who are coached and threated not to defend themselves are being subjugated by those using the aggressive use of force.

The public school system is training children and young adults to not fight back, while letting those who use the aggressive use of force freedom to do so. Why? They have simply exhausted their bag of solutions.

They are creating a country of citizens who do not know how to defend themselves, to stand up and face an enemy force, to possibly save their life. Iwant the school sytems to stop tying my son’s hands behind their backs and forcing them to take the aggression.

marinesI want the school system to teach that right is might.

Sometimes the aggressive use of force, when used defensively, stops the bullies, bad guys, and murderers from continuing their reign of terror. Self-defense is an American right, for the adults and the children, too.

Sometimes a strong defense is the solution to the aggressive use of force. Sometimes the defensive aggressive use of force can bring peace to the world. . . and even the 3rd grade.

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soldiers“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force,” was played out last week with the death of an honor student in Chicago by violent gang members. Aggressive force ruled. There are two types of aggressive force: Aggressive forced used offensively, and Aggressive force used defensively.

In the public school system, Aggressive Force Used Offensively wins. If Johnney, uses aggressive force offensively by kicking, punching, or pulling a knife, and Sam, uses aggressive force defensively to stop the kicking, punching, or pulling a kinife.  Both are punished.  Equally.  Sam gets suspended for defending himself.  Johnney gets suspended, too. 

The young man-yes, young man, not a child, who was killed would have been suspended for defending himself if that had happened on school grounds.

The system emasculates rule-abiding students, while empowering rule-breaking students

My 3rd grader is being kicked, shoved, and verbally assaulted consistently. The teacher admitted using everthing in his behavior-solution bag, “I don’t know what else to do.” My son’s 3rd grade world is governed by the aggressive use of force-except the governing force is a fellow 3rd grader.

My husband told him that if the child hits him, to hit back twice as hard.  However, if that happens, my son risks earning the same rap sheet as the instigator.

fight2One of my sons had a similar, but more threatening experience in 7th grade.  As the principal explained to me, it all stareted when the class bully kept throwing tootsie rolls at a girl and hitting her in the eye.  My son told him to stop.  It was Halloween.  After Thanksgiving, this same student pulled a knife on my son and threatened to use that same knife to stab him in the back and kill him the next week.

My son’s middle school world was governed by the aggressive use of force.

I asked the principal, “Is this a kid who is just having a tough day, or is this a kid with a history of issues?”

She couldn’t tell me. She also could not do anything about the student with the knife:  even though other students had seen the knife, it didn’t count because a teacher didn’t see the knife.

My son was told to always have a witness with him, whether he went to the bathroom, soccer practice, or changed class.

boxingI was assured that my son had just as fine of privacy rights as the student who pulled the knife.  I countered that my son didn’t have anything to hide, so I didn’t need those privacy rights.

This student was in and out of school for the rest of the year.  Each time he came back, the threats would increase.  We met with the principal again.  We told her that we gave our son permission to take 2 hits (understand that in the 7th grade, he was already 6 ft. 2 inches tall with the strength to seriously injure this little guy).  If someone didn’t pull the young man off of him, then he had our permission to knock him to the next county.  Even though, after taking 2 hits, and finally defending himself would result in a suspension.

“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force.”

Students who are coached and threated not to defend themselves are being subjugated by those using the aggressive use of force.

The public school system is training children and young adults to not fight back, while letting those who use the aggressive use of force freedom to do so. Why?  They have simply exhausted their bag of solutions.

They are creating a country of citizens who do not know how to defend themselves, to stand up and face an enemy force, to possibly save their life. Iwant the school sytems to stop tying my son’s hands behind their backs and forcing them to take the aggression.

marinesI want the school system to teach that right is might.

Sometimes the aggressive use of force, when used defensively, stops the bullies, bad guys, and murderers from continuing their reign of terror.  Self-defense is an American right, for the adults and the children, too.

Sometimes a strong defense is the solution to the aggressive use of force.  Sometimes the defensive aggressive use of force can bring peace to the world. . . and even the 3rd grade.

Read Full Post »

hallowween5I love Fall.  The smell of crisp, musty leafy air.  The crunch and skittering leaf sounds.  Blustery wind that sasses. It is the only time of year that I orange is my favoarite color.  Otherwise, I abhor it.  It is the only time of year a black cat gives me pause.

Walking up the main street of my hometown every day to visit my aunt, my feet kicking through red, orange, and brown leaves that crackled.  Robin’s egg blue skies and clouds, so white, so full as though they were heavy with the winter snow to come–the sky seemed like the roof of an old house, too low and me too big, like I could almost touch the ceiling–that’s autumn. Autumn is full of memores that wrap around you like a old, warm quilt made from blue cotton memories.

bigsnowtreesWhen autumn comes, I pull out my very favorite autumn children’s book, “When will the Snow Trees Grow?” by Ben Shecter. The little guys and I wrap up in our blankets, snuggle up with some hot chocolate for them and warm apple cider for me.  Because the “lemonade isn’t as sweet.”  The blankets feel just right.  And the wind rustles around the house trying to find a way inside. Shector poignantly shows how tastes and needs evolve with the seasons.

 English Ghost storiesAnother favorite book pulled out, for the older, more adventuruous among us is The Oxford English Edition of Classic Ghost Stories.  The stories collected in these pages are to horror movies what Belgian truffles are to cheap chocolate. No gimmicks, just stories passed own through folklore, sprung out of supersitition, imagination, and a dark night.  It is one of my husband’s favorite books to read, too  I heartily enjoy it, but don’t like reading it if he is out of town–BOO!

ciderOf course, since lemonade doesn’t taste as sweet, it’s time to pull out the crock pot and stir up some mulled apple cider, topped with homemade whipped cream and Starbucks Caramel Sauce. My favorite hot chocolate recipe is the way my aunt used to make it when I’d spend the night.  Milk warmed with Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa and made just like it says on the back of the box:

INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • Homemade whipping cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature. Top with real homemade whipping cream. 

 

smoremakerOne of my favorite parts about autumn will be different this year.  For years, the boys and the neighborhood kids would stop by in the midst of their afternoon play, no matter how cold the weather.  I would pull out my S’More indoor grill. The gaggle would pull up the stools to the counter, and S’More Snacks for everyone-a regular autumn event! The neighborhood kids might be in another state, but the S’More Maker is with me! 

The weather is cooling, the trees green, but have a washed out look about them.  The sky feels like it is starting to press downward.  The quilts feel snugglier.  I’m getting thirsty for some yummy cider.  The urge to curl up with a book that will make my hair stand on end, no matter how many times I read the stories, beckons, and, for some reason, the color orange is my very favorite color right now, a fiery, pumkiny orange. My scardy cat seems a little braver, her coat a little darker for some reason.

I so love the Fall!

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.Simply Saturday

“As the rain and snow come down from heaven

And do not return to it without watering the earth

And making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater

 So is my word (the bible) that goes from my mouth;

It will not return to me empty

But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands

 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree

And instead of briers the myrtle will grow”

 Isaiah 54: 10-13

Speaking the word of God—the words in your very Bible—will go out from your mouth and bring blessing—just like the hyacinth bulbs planted in your garden that at the right time bless you with their beauty. 

“Amen I say to you, whatever you will have bound on earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you will have released on earth, shall be released also in heaven” (Matt. 18:18)

Release the Word of God in your life. When you became a child of God, you contracted yourself into relationship with God.  There are two parties with two different responsiblities in that contract.  Yours is live and love others as God prescribed.  Most people forget that God made promises in that contract, too.  If you don’t know the promises, how can you freely go to God and say, “Father, You promised.”  Because He did!  However, if you do know the promises of God, how can you say, “Father, You promised.”

Spend 2 minutes a day reading about what God has promised you.  Then remind God of those promises. God will not run roughshod over your life.  He is waiting for the invitation, permission.  That is the kind of Father God He is!

 Prayer:  Dear Father,

  you promised that if I love You and

 love others(even those I don’t want to love) that I will go out in joy

and have contentment in my life

 even the mountains and hills will burst into song before me. 

Lord, let your spirit water my soul,

strengthen my body,

bring joy to my mind. 

Thank you

 for Your faithfulness

 to Your Word, 

In Jesus Name I ask this of you

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TrailLast Fall my now 5th grader chose The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail  by Michael Spradlin.  We were at Barnes & Noble having mom/son time.  Mom/son time most often consists of a book and a treat. 

He kept browsing through age appropriate books, bringing them to me, where we’d discuss their merits, and then he, heaving a sigh,  would trudge back to find something more suitable. Chaucer in the movie A Knight’s Tale aptly defines trudge:  “To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.”  That attitude pretty much his walk back, a frustrating quest for a book on which we could both. 

I prefer historically-based books.  You want to learn history?  Read Biographies – at least that’s what someone told me a long time ago. While I am a Lord of the Rings fan for a multitude of reasons, I am not a fantasy fan. Fun reading does not have to exlude eductional opportunities. I want it to be an edifying read, learning but not realizing they are learning because they are totally absorbed in a wonderfully woven tale.

That day he finally settled on The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail . In an interview a few weeks ago, he said, “At first I was mad because I thought it was going to be a boring book.  But once I got into the book, I thought, ‘This is the best book I’ve ever read.’ It has action. I was disappointed when I had to stop reading and go to bed.  I didn’t have time at school to read it either.”

My son  explained his favorite part of the first book:  “When his master told him to take the Grail and go through a cave, his master was left behind and had to fight.  When he was in the cave, he found two men and one man had to leave to go check something.  There was a fire.  He kicked sand into his eyes and I think he killed him.  On the road he met Robard, an archer. Then they are hiding behind the rocks when 5 assassins came.  They help Maryam, an assassin who’s a bad guy.  She helped them because they helped her.  Hugh, he’s a Templar that’s bad.  He doesn’t like Tristam at all.  Tristam is then thrown in jail with Robard. They start a fire and Maryam helps them excape. It’s the best book ever.”

keeperAfter he finished the book, I started avoiding Barnes & Noble for mother/son outings.  Everytime we visited, he’d ask, “Has the author published another one?”  I explained that sometimes it takes a year or two for an author to write and publish a new book.  This book had only come out. Petco was looking pretty good as an alternative Mother/Son outing.

After one visit to the book store, and one very disappointed little boy, my brain clicked into brilliant mode.  My son and I googled the author, clicked on contact, and sent him an e-mail asking the dreaded question: “When will another be coming out?”

Author Michael Spradlin was very gracious. He responded with the following information: “The first Youngest Templar book is doing well, but every bit of support is crucial as there are SO many books out there. I just turned in the third book in the trilogy and I hope I can convince the publisher to continue the series. I have lots more ideas for adventures for Tristan, Robard and Maryam to get themselves into and out of. ”

Spradlin continued, “‘Thanks again for writing.  Notes like this really make a writer’s day.  All the best, and please tell your son I said to ‘Keep Reading’!”Needless to say, my son was so excited, and I was so relieved.  I could go to Barns & Nobles again minus the dialogue full of disappointment, fielding questions that I could not answser.

TrailA lot of excitement brewing in our house:  October 29 heralds the release of the much-anticipated sequel, The Youngest Templar:  Trail of Fate. I have a sneaking suspicision that on Halloween, my guys will be dressed up as Tristan and Robard.

In an interview, Spradlin told me about the sequel:  “The next book is called The Youngest Templar: A Trail of Fate. It starts out at about 100 miles an hour and doesn’t slow down. Tristan is faced with some very difficult decisions as he must choose between his duty to Sir Thomas and the Holy Grail and his burgeoning love for a young woman who is a leader of the Cathar’s, a group that his own church considers heretics. What will Tristan do? With Sir Hugh and some new enemies fast on his trail and his responsiblity to his friends and his knight weighing heavily on his soul, any path he chooses will lead to danger.”

Spradlin answered the BIG unspoken question,  the one I know my son would ask, oh, say, on November 5, “When will the next one come out?”  To my great relief, the third book  The Youngest Templar: Orphan Of Destiny will come out in the Fall of 2010.

Spradlins books are increasingly finding themselves on state AR reading lists. THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: KEEPER OF THE GRAIL is on the Maine, Vermont and Alabama state lists.

All I can say is “Keep those books coming.”  That would be seconding my son’s thoughts!

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masterdetectiveMy youngest has a solution to his Dad’s snorning.  While he’s sleeping, dress him up as a racoon, and carry him outside. What a solution!  I can’t stop visualizing that.

However, most problems that need solving cannot be done with such cute, creative fixes. Some problems take years to resolve.  Why?  For some reason, we have to walk down that path, study the problem, try varying solutions, search for clues.

A dog-with a bone, never-give-up, always-reaching-for-resolution attitude.  When I took this job as “Hey, Mama,” I had no idea of the high-level problem solving skills that would be required.  I probably wouldn’t have applied if I had known.  How many of you would have run screaming?  No, don’t raise your hands.

However, on the day my first son was born, something inside me was born, too.  God’s pretty amazing.  He doesn’t let us realize all the abilities He stuffed inside us all at one time.  It is almost as though there are boxes and boxes of amazing gifts, like on Christmas, all wrapped up.  Except, we don’t unwrap them until we need them.

It’s almost like on the Wizard of Oz when the Great Oz presents the scarecrow with a sheet of paper:

Wizard of Oz:: Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.
Scarecrow: ThD?
Wizard of Oz: That’s… Doctor of Thinkology”(Wizard of Oz).

RumpoleProblem Solving?  Unraveling mysteries, deciphering handwriting, solving a riddle.  Sherlock Holmes, watch out, Ms. Marple, step aside. Rumpole, it’s not your turn..  The Great Mommy Detective – that’s me.

I’ve solved the following mysteries:

The Case of the Missing Turtle Head

The Case of the Missing Homeschool Work,

The Case of the Missing Ice Cream,

The Mystery of the Missing Words

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone,

The Case of the Missing Fire in the Belly for Life,

The Case of Not Being Able to Pass an Open Book Test,

The Mystery of the Big Kitchen Mess

The Case of Not Following Directions,

The Case of Sitting on the Bench,

The Mystery of the Door Knock

The Case of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Missing Passing Grade, 

The Case of the Sore Knees and Feet,

The Missing Thin Mint Mystery

The Return of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Son who Would not LISTEN to Lectures,

The Case of the Missing Child

The Case of the Problem Logic Couldn’t Solve,

The Case of the Missing Facial Cleanser,

The Missing Sub Sandwich Mystery

The Case of the Empty Laundry Detergent Bottle,

The Case of the Stinky Feet

The Great Christmas Present Mystery

The Case of the Missing Dr. Pepper Inside the Bottle

The Case of the Blown Transmission

The Case of the Mysteriously Appearing Tinkle on the Toilet

However, I cannot take credit for the trickiest mysteries.  In the most difficult cases-I was just the ghost writer for God. After I had collected all the information, stacked up all the clues, consulted with specialists, I found myself missing the key information that would solve the mystery. I had followed all the leads, logically approached the problem from every angle.

No, I didn’t pick up the phone.  I dropped to my knees, bowed my head, and through my tears, gave the case to God.

He has people. When He sends His people, problems get solved.

From 1st to 6th grade, one son had a stomach ache that grew and grEW and GREW.  In 3rd grade, we sent him to one children’s hospital for tests. “Just give him more fiber,” they said.  So I did, and chocked it full of chocolate, so he’d eat more.

We spent 3 hours a night just to help this son who had once been an top student make Cs.  He ran more and more like his great-granny ran, this one son who had run like a gazelle.  The 6-pack he had been born with disappeared.  A haunted look appeared on his face.

In 6th grade, his pediatrician did an x-ray and ultra-sound.  Nothing.  “It must be in his head,” I was told.  I was angry, angry at my son because he was either lying to me and at the pain, because if it were real that meant there was a problem.

I literally wanted to punch a hole in a wall. How emasculating to be a woman and not be able to do that!

Instead, at 4 p.m. in the afternoon one late Spring day, I dropped to my knees.  I prayed, “You know what is in him God.  You put it there.  You planned his days before he was born.  YOU know what is going on.  YOU know what he needs.  YOU know the solution.”  And I cried.

Three days later, I was talking to someone at his school about the pain. Sometimes, when God is moving, you end up telling people your need story.  While you’re telling it, you wonder, “Why am I doing this?  Why can’t I stop this?”  Because, for that day, that person is one of God’s people He sends to give the key to unlock the mystery.  She gave me the name of a doctor her daughter used.

Sitting in his office 2 weeks later, the nurse asked, “On a level of one to 10, what would you say your pain level was?”

painscale“Nine,” he answered.

When she left the room, I said, “Really? You’re a nine.  One more and you’d want to go to the hospital?”

“Yes,” he said.  His answer humbled me.

When the doctor came in, he pushed around his stomach.  At one point, my son about came off the table.

The doctor informed us that where the pain was located was not an area where “in the head” pain occurred.  I hadn’t even said anything about that.  He scheduled a scope.

He had esophagitus.  Where some people have really bad acid reflux, others have pain that resembles pain from a  heart attack, which is what he was having.  Imagine, you ladies out there, having severe menstrual cramps 7 days a week.  It would wear you down, be difficult to concentrate at school, interfere with you athletic ability, and give you a haunted look.

They put him on Nexium.  He cannot have chocolate, caffein, or mint. The pain went away, but the real work was ahead. The re-emergence of my son began.  He had to rebuild his strength, re-learn how to run, and re-build his grades.  His teachers were amazed at the difference in the boy who came to class.  He greeted them with a smile, participated, led.

This was one of my biggest mystery cases.  However, I cannot take credit for resolution.  I have to give that credit to The Master Detective, God. Thank you, God!

TheBetterMom.com

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Simply

uncool

to be

 me!

I learned that long ago.  Some doors closed because Simply Me wouldn’t do.  Other doors opened because

I was

courageous

 enough

to be Me.

Those doors that closed were meant to close.  Simply Me would not have been welcome there.  Simply Me would have become someone else.

Someone

I was not created

to be

After all,

God made Me,

Simply Me.

Organizer, side-ways humor,

ideas and thoughts bursting inside to come out

the boldness to voice

maybe too often

awkwardly hugging with arms

wrapping

word hugs

information gatherer

asking questions

because I know someone is like I used to be

afraid

of my voice

Are you scared to show the God-Created you to the outside world?  The Entire Outside World?

To people who have the power to open doors and close doors?

One day I learned

I had to just be me

because

To not go out every day and be who He created me to be

 is to reject God.

I need to be,

not who my mamma wants me to be,

 or my husband wants me to be,

 or my sons want me to be,

or even who my friends or acquaintances want me to be

I need to be who God created me to be

Simply Me

everywhere

Psalm 139: 14-16

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

 

 

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We changed our front doors a few months ago, closing the door in one state to one beautiful chapter of our history and opening the door in another state to a new chapter of history.  Imagine pulling the roots of your very favorite rose bush, or even yanking out last years potatoe vine from its pot–those roots are snugged in; they don’t want to leave. Yank!  Leave they must.

As we transplanted 6 sets of roots (one set stayed), God sent some wonderful encouragement to help us thrive.    I cannot express my appreciation not only for the supporting comments on my posts, but for the beautiful posts that so encouraged my soul, so watered my roots, so nurtured the transition.

During this awkward time (imagine those roots dangling about all clumped with dirt), some very lovely encouragers gave me some awards.  These awards brightened my day.  It has taken me awhile to settle, but I have spent time thinking about who to pass these on to.

commentboxBUTTON-1The first award, given byIn the Mommy Trenches  and Teresa at Two Many Hearts  is the You Add Sunshine to My Day award.  All blogs listed below are recipients of this award.

 

 

trueheartawardMocha Mama passed me the second award, the True Heart Award

I want to pass this on to those encouragers with true heart who helped lift me up when I was down:

superior scribbler award Thank you In the Mommy Trenches  and Teresa at Two Many Hearts for The Scribbler Award. I would like to bestow this award on blogs that I have so enjoyed reading for a variety of reasons.  These blogs either had content that encouraged, passion for their blog mission, or just brought some joy to my day.

* Each Superior Scribbler I name today must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to
This Post, which explains The Award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visitThis Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

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womanletter3Women have been blogging since man taught them to read, gave them a pen, and told them to write.  Some women wrote letters, some kept household records, some wrote on the request of the pope.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote Interior Castles at the request of the pope in the 1500s.  In the introduction, the author points out that due to her busy schedule, she wrote 10 minutes every morning. Grudgingly, she wrote 10 minutes every morning.  The result, an inspired book on relationship with God.

Educated women in the 1500-1900 wrote letters. Of course, the sphere of these letters were limited, but women wrote to share their lives, their interests, their struggles with interested parties.  They wrote about women’s roles, women’s issues, women’s challenges, politics, economics, health, frustrations and joys, even the tedious day-to-day schedule.

During the latter 20th century, letter writing declined.  Instead of writing letters about events from far away, people telephone.  However, with the ever mobile world society and the creation of the wordprocessor, followed by the creation of the internet, women returned to writing, except, it is now called blogging.

Erma Bombeck and the real Dear Abby died.  There wasn’t a place that really dealt with women’s issues without ulterior motives.  In the mom-blog world, what you see is pretty much what you get.  No hidden agendas.  If there is an agenda, it is pretty out in the open. How refreshing!

 letterwiritngIn an every expanding world where all the big voices drown out the little voices, the blogasphere is a spot where a common-man voice can be heard.  Maybe Hollywood had something to do with it.  Maybe people got tired of people like Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn having the soap box to spout their opinions because they are in the movies and have a lot of money.  The common people wanted their turn on the soap box.  After all, America’s right to free speech is not only available to people who get their voices on t.v. Free speech is for regular folks, too.

I have noticed women struggling with blog time and family time in posts lately. There are two struggles I see.  One struggle is guilt:  The I-love-blogging-but-it-cuts-in-on-my-family struggle.  This sentiment has been posted in blogs that are such encouraging blogs, blogs that uplift. I would hate to see these blogs fall to the wayside because writers do not realize the value of their blog, a “mission-a St. Teresa-of-Avila-type-mission.  God put something on their heart.  He didn’t call them to the mission-field in China; God called them to this mission field.  They are an “un-sung” missionary.  They are not brought up in front of the church and praised for their work in a 3rd world country. They work their mission field from home, reaching other mothers who need a lift up when they fall down.  Maybe they are seed-planting through their posts.  Mission work is not always comfortable.  It requires some struggle.  The Proverb 31 woman was a SHAM who also did community work.  Put your mission in perspective.  You were called to create your blog for a reason.

The other struggle is burn out due to an “I-don’t-know-what-to write-anymore” struggle. I am coming at this from a writing teacher’s perspective.  A lot of blogs discuss their struggle to come up with post ideas.  However, they know one thing: they want to blog. Some writers think their bag of ideas is exhausted.  However, I know they are still alive and breathing, so truly, they haven’t exhausted that bag of ideas. I have 3 ideas for this goup. First, list the things in your life you are passionate about; second, determine a mission statement to guide your content; 3rd, write about those things which you are passionate about. What do you believe in?  Write about it!  What is your opinion?  Write it! What is the purpose?  To give voice?  Go for it!  To Encourage?  Do it! To provide a creative outlet for your knitting, cooking, crafting? Provide it!

If my son needs a lecture, I write about it!  If politics is messing in my family, I write about it!  If I found a yummy recipe my boys love, I write about it.  They might not read it now, but each of my posts is a keepsake for my children and my grandchildren. My real audience are my sons, their friends, their future wives. My sons also accept what I write them better than what I speak to them.  How many times do you kids turn you off when you start talking?  However, they’ll read a letter the entire way through and really listen.

If you are stymied, maybe your mission statement has change.  Maybe your original purpose no longer exists.  Revise it! Maybe blogging has become something you didn’t intend, like too much work? Reign it in! You are the boss!  Don’t quite just because your blog has suddenly become an out-of-control 3 year old.  Discipline it!

womanwriting2Women communicating, just like they did 700 years ago, except it is a lot easier today! Do not fall for the media definition of blogging. The potential for nobleness in this communication is vast. My mission statement is to write about what being the mother of 5 sons has taught me, the challenges I face raising those sons, the environment I create in raising them.

What’s your mission statement? Leave a message behind to encourage other bloggers. I know I’d love to read it!

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“Jump a Fence

Climb a Tree

Homespun, he is Free”

from Blackberry Roland, by Blue Cotton Memory

Caleb joyful

Some people bring home their babies from the hospital, or the cabbage patch, or foreign countries. We got ours to-go from OutBack.

Caleb in Bag 001

Caleb in Hat 001

Caleb and Balloons 001

Caleb in Wagon - Winter 001

7-24-2007-060

My Birthday Prayer

God knows the gifts

He put within you

the strength of which you are capable

the dreams taking root and growing

He knows the challenges you will

face

the battles you will

fight

or walk away from

His Angels encamp about you

protect you

He has Godly friends who will lift you up when

you

fall down

He knows the desires of your heart

the tasks for which you were made

the girl you will marry

I thank God that you were born

in a land of freedom

where you are free to pray

free to worship

free to love God

openly

free to say, “Do you know Jesus?  Let me tell

you how He saved my life”

Free to let others know

about

the love of Jesus

either through writing,

singing,

speaking,

boldly

or

quietly

Free to be who God created you to be

Thank you, God,

for our son!

calebautumn

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A rainy day is like

the Saturday of my childhood

in my grandmother’s house.

Saturday mornings rose more slowly than other

days of the week.

It woke

with a languishing quietness,

when you opened your eyes,

you had time

to stretch.

A yawning stretch

of nothingness,

that was Saturday.

In the quiet,

the voice of God

was not hard to hear.

A time to hug.

 A time to sit

on the front porch swing,

build

a card house,

read

an all-day-long book.

Time for rambling

conversations about memories,

dreams,

politics, football, or life.

Time to stew

together.

Rainy days

are simple days

where love

 is not rushed,

 where a smile

lingers,

where time

slows down,

like Saturdays.

Rainy days and Saturdays are gifts from God, even though sometimes my Saturday schedule does not slow down unless it rains. Psalms reminds me that God provides opportunities for refreshment, delivering me from a stressful schedules:

“He delivered them from their distress,

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and He brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love,

for His wondrous works to the children of man!” (Psalm 108: 28-32)

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100_2492

Swine Flu has turned a family member into a boarish-feeling, snout-snuffling, grunting, hacking, coughing, retching statistic of a media-hyped illness.   How to turn this Swine Flue victim back into an up-right walking, clean-nose, easy breathing, content-containing-stomach owning homosapien?  A Harry Potter Spell?  Rabbit hair and dirt stirred into a paste and rubbed across the forehead?  Definitely not.

 Media coverage has bumped this flu up there with the plague.  “It’s not as bad as the yearly flu,” medical personel said. H1N1 tests are now only given to health care personal, prison inmates, and pregnant woman. Medical personel said only 40% of the H1N1 tests were correct.  By the time a positive result is received, it is too late for Tamiflu.  The Type A flu test is the alternative for the comman man.  Our Swine Flu victim literally hurled to a positive. Bingo!

I am rather piggish when it comes to my personally-developed household Illness Protocol. Quiet, Please!  No squealing  or complaining.  Just follow the mom-established guidelines for disease control.

  • Go to the doctor
  • Earn a positive test result
  • Fill prescription for Tamiflu and what other recommended meds
  • Tuck the patient in bed for a long nap
  • Make Swine Flue Soup!
  • Coat Lysol on all household surfaces
  • Wash hands as though you were a surgeon

All 5 boys love this recipe.  I have served it at church functions where everyone was supposed to bring a pot of soup.  Everyone raved so much over the soup that I almost felt guilty.  The recipe is incredibly simple, but good to the last drop. You’ll have your Swine Flu victim turned back to normal soon enough.  It might take awhile for the snout to disappear, though.

  • 100_2482Simmer one chicken in a soup pot with celery.  Puree the celery in the food processor if you want your kids to eat all the soup and not leave little green chunks.  Add salt and pepper while simmering.

 

 

100_2484

Remove chicken from pot.  While cooling, add 1 family-size can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Stir until blended. 

 

 

 

100_2485Add spaghetti or bow-tie pasta.  Chop chicken while the soup simmers.  Add to pot. Soon you will hear slurping and spoons scraping the bottom of the bowl, in addition to voices asking, “May I have some more?”  Afterwards, wrap up in a quilt and sleep off that dead boar of a flu!

A serious word of caution:  One member of our family had it before the second member was diagnoses.  We had no idea the first family member even had the flu.  We thought he had a cold.  He plays a lot of sports, runs hard, and sometimes experiences nauseau after exercise.  Another athlete on the team had the flu previously.   Though H1N1 is not dangerous to healthy people, it is dangerous to those with reduced immunity, like cancer patients, people with asthma, and our elderly.  Take care of them!

 

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heartsccKatie over at From the Heart has a post that speaks right to my heart, How Do You Love?  Some love with words.  Some with hugs.  Some with helping hand.  Some help just by spending time with you. Some help by giving.  By giving, I mean giving holistically: words, hugs, help, time, and gifts.

I love easiest by words.  I feel most loved with words.  However, not all my sons feel hugged by my words.  One feels loved just by rubbing my fingers on his cheek or touching is arm in the car.

One feels all loved-up when we spend quality time together.  A simple trip to Petco or even Panera Bread Co., giving him time to talk without interruption, allowing him to be the star of the moment, makes him feel special, loved.

chessOne son loves to give, but he does it with wisdom and insight.  Not rashness.  Not guilt.  When you receive a gift from him, you know he puts a lot of thought into it.  He and the oldest one gave me a chess set one year on my birthday.  They planned, saved their money, and gave me the most perfect gift.

I try to love holistically.  I’ve knitted blankets and prayed for the son I was knitting it for. I’ve knitted baby hats, girl-friend scarves for my sons, teacher scarves.  I’ve baked casseroles for friends who needed meals.  I’ve extended myself in friendship because I assume that there’s someone out there like me who needs a good friend.  I pray.  I try to encourage.

However, love isn’t always pretty.  Love is tough.  Love holds the feet to the fire.  I used to teach college composition. Many students loathed me because I just wouldn’t give them a grade.  They had to work for the grade.  I pushed them hard.  I loved them enough to risk their contempt and hatred because I knew they needed to be prepared for writing requirements in college and in the job market.  One student sent me a note last year thanking me for teaching her to believe in herself.  Another told me how she had lectured a couple of students complaining in the library about my class.  Then she told me that my class gave her the tools to succeed without sweating in the other classes.  Love is tough.  Love is not a popularity contest.

blankets

My older sons complain every now and then about me holding their feet to the fire, fighting the good fight.  Yes, I love them enough to make them mad.  Some get made like a massive hurricane storm, some brew like a hot muggy day that just simmers with no relief, some just thunder for a moment and then it blows over, some are like upper level clouds where the rain evaporates before it touches the ground.  Stealth Temper.  It still needs to be recognized even though it’s hardly noticable.

Some people believe in quota love.  Quota love is where you only love a select group.  God calls on us to love beyond that quota we have set in our heart.  God needs us to love not only inside our family circle, but outside that circle as well.  We are called to be spiritual mothers as well.  A smile, an encouraging word, a prayer might be the hand-up a child or another mom needs in a moment of crisis that we don’t see. The love within us is big enough to love as many people as you want.

I do not always love well, but I never give up.

Love never gives up! Love feeds!  Love cuddles!  Love disciplines! Love knits! Love stares down pressure! blueberryLove hugs with food when hugs aren’t “in.” Love opens your heart to your kid’s friends.  Love quilts! Love prays! Love hopes in the face of adversity! Love lectures! Love sees past the tantrum into the goodness! Love is unconditional!  Love offers friendship!  Love Champions!

Paul says it best, though:

Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the TRUTH. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Read more about the diversity in love in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love LanguagesHow do you love? Please share with me in a comment.  I’d love to read about it!

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fourfeet4The Mother of Sons gig comes with a bag of issues. Paul Dean has broken the glass ceiling, though. Nobody questions her ability to cook or entertain as the mother of sons. Of course, she doesn’t have 5.

This is a Mary-Poppins-deep bag of issues! Decorating? Moot point. You took ballet? Really! Those are just surface slanders, though. The slander becomes more insidious when they demoralize the integrity of any young men-just because they are male. I cannot tell you how many times mothers of daughters have defamed the male gender–Christian women–who consider any young man a criminal just for being a boy. You would think that the young men in youth groups or Christian college groups might get a character break!

Then there is also the issue of birthing sons. When the first one was born, women encouraged me–“Oh, the next one will be a boy.” By the time I had the third son, the response, too often, was “what a shame.” Yes, I really did have people say that to me-with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

When the ultra-sound identified my fifth child as the fifth boy, I must admit my heart paused. I had a mini-identity crisis. I did not want to be the burley mom sitting on the top of the baseball bleachers, spitting bird seed, and hollering like a sailor. I’d never seen a mom like that, but I just knew that I would morph into that woman. However, sanity slowly crept back into my heart and mind. No, I have never spit bird seed. I have never hollered like a sailor. Yep, I did pack on a few pounds this summer. However, I do avoid the top of the bleachers–just to avoid temptation.

The true shame, though, is the evolving cultural view of men as inferior, idiots, disreputable, unworthy, useless, repugnant, animal-like .  How many of women want a husband like that?  What a miserable marriage! 

If I had a daughter, I would want her surrounded by young men of distinguished courage and ability, nobility of purpose, faithful, a lover of God. Just so you know, those are the traits of a hero. All men have the spiritual mixins to be a hero,whether it is a life-saving hero, a fixing-the- tricycle-wheel hero to a 4 year old, or a hand-holding hero who squeezes encouragement into his wife’s hand, or the 9/11 fire-fighter kind of hero who goes into a building to save someone knowing he might not come out.  Big and little heroes, little and big.

Bless is the man who trusts in the Lord,

and whose hope is in the Lord.  For he shall be like a tree

planted by the waters, which spread out its roots by

the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its

leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year

of drought, nor will ceas from  yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

I have learned this last year, the peace, the beauty of letting my husband lead, letting him be the man, just as God created him to be.  Growing up as a child of divorce, that is a true leap of faith and trust.

However, a culture that doesn’t expect greatness from its boys will not receive greatness when those boys become men.  If society continues to hack away at the natural traits of men, like the roots to a tree seeking the water, then when the heat comes, when trouble comes, like a tree without water, men will fail.

No! Accept it!  Boys are Boys!  Girls are Girls! Boys learn differently than girls.  Boys play differently than girls.  Boys need to be able to defend themselves when someone punches them.  Instead, they are slapped with a suspension because they dared to stop someone from punching them. Boys question, argue, debate.  Boys do not just want to learn.  They want to apply what they learn.

Peter the GreatIn Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie, Peter cannot sit still. He wants to stand and learn. He doesn’t want to learn math, science, history, astronomy; however, he wants Russia to have a navy.  As a result, he learns through unit study where he learns everything there is about a navy: architecture, astronomy, math, history, literature, languge, engineering, science.

I taught composition for years.  The young men in my class hated writing until they realized it would be a tool they used.  Boys and men require purpose in their pursuits. 

God instilled in them the tools needed to lead a family.  Is it not time that our culture recognized those wonderful traits in men and let them be proud to be men?  To embrace the boys growing to men in the schools, the youth groups, the extra-curricular activities? 

Have you ever had a zit on your face that felt like the size of a mountain?  Did you not think everyone could see it?  Even though nobody noticed, that is how you defined yourself. I remember friends wailing, “I am so ugly.”  But they weren’t.   If we study and focus on the weakness of boys and man, then, like that zit, that is all we will see.  Let us, then, focus on the hero traits within. By hearing and thinking about the good and great within, morewill reach to goodness and greatness.  Afterall, we tend to live up to the expectations people have for us.

I am raising my sons to see the goodness and greatness within.  They are handsome blessings from God created for goodness! What a shame, indeed!

 

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“Be Bold and Courageous!  Do Not be Afraid” (Joshua 1:9)

Worry is another word for fear. When we fret, we wear away our peace, like a river wears away at the earth, making new passageways.  However, these are not paths that quiet our soul. These are paths that lead to torment. Yes, torment.  It may sound medieval, if you cannot stop thinking, stop worrying, increasing your frustration, the harassment of worry culminates in torment.

Worry is commonly mis-interpreted to mean, “I care for you; therefore, I worry about you.”  That means, I am in constant fear for you.  Ergo, the greater my worry, the greater my love.

That is deception.  I had a conversation with a woman a few years ago about our children driving.  She commented on how she worried, just feared every night her teenager went out.  She could not rest until that teenager was home, safely tucked in bed.

She wanted me to confirm that fear.  Instead, I told her what I believe, “I pray protection over my sons daily so that no harm comes to them.  I pray that God hedges them in front and behind.  If I worried, then I wouldn’t be trusting that God was doing just what His word says He will do for my sons.”

I have had to retrain my thinking.  Worry creates obsessive thinking in my case. Worry is like an ant eating away all my other thoughts, just leaving worry in my mind. I had to stop worrying! Not only for my peace of mind, but because every time I worried, I was telling God I didn’t trust Him and His promises. God sent people across my path who taught me eradicate worry like the Orkin man takes care of infestation.  However, just like the Orkin man, it is not a one treatment solution.

When worry knocks at the door to my mind, I spend time with my Father.  He gives me the heads-up for what I need to be doing.  Sometimes it is just waiting. Sometimes it is a call to action.  Sometimes it is a call to prayer.  It is always a call to trust.

The next time worry whispers in your ear, calling you down the path of worry, shut the door, call the Father, and trust.  Trust the promises of God!

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My aunt was so proud of my pickles and preserves that she entered them into the state fair.  My big head was brought down to size when we discovered the difference between county and state fairs. At the county fair, the judges didn’t taste the preserves.  Mine were just the prettiest.  At the state fair, they tasted.  Mine didn’t win. This goes to show beauty only counts in county fairs and beauty pagents!  It’s what’s inside that counts!

Blackberry Hand-me Downs

By Maryleigh at Blue Cotton Memory

“Hand me down some summertime, Darlin’,”

asks breakfast table relations,

“Some of that blackberry summer time.”

“Blackberry jams all gone,” comes the answer

“All Gone till summer time.

When berry time comes, I’ll preserve

you

some summer time.”

drops of lemon and sugar pounds,

bitter-sweetened blackberries

picked in the chilled sweat

of morning’s summer sun

oozes juice

dripping

staining

a cotton apron.

sweetly to syrup it cooks

bubbling

to the rumbling Galaxy fan

blowing hotness

against salty sweat that balls

like candy

sliding

down flushed cheeks.

stirring carefully,

sometimes carelessly

damp hands swat flies

and the noon siren hollers from town

as shoes stick to the jelled linoleum.

dip

pour

tighten

hot clean Mason jars and

settle in a water bath.

tidy up

cool down

fish out

jars glisten on cheesecloth rows

lined like plowed fields

in pink watermelon prints

and in the falling of the day

when shades are pulled

dry coolness draws heat

from sweaty skin twitching

to a tin beat

pop!

pop!

pop!

sealed and saved

until little and b ig

voices around the breakfast table say,

“Hand me down some of that Summer Time.”

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vintage-american-flag-children4Children are so impressionable.  It doesn’t take much appeal to get them on board for a project.  Last year, I had my fill of fundraisings. Some I didn’t mind; however, when they started coming home begging me to give them a dollar to wear a hat for Diabetes or Cancer or some other fundraiser, I hit the limit of my endurance.  I was sick of my little guys’ hearts being manipulated for money.

Let me give another example.  If my husband and I were divorced (which we aren’t), and I asked my children to ask their dad for the child-support payment, I would be taken to task by the government’s Child Services.  I would be chasitised for manipulating my children to achieve an ends.

Which is what I think some of those school fund-raisers do–or rather that is how they go about soliciting funds–by preying on the tractable hearts and minds of my children.

Children are so responsive to cries for help.  They do not see the “man behind the curtain” as in The Wizard of Oz.  They do not doubt that the person asking them for help has ulterior motives.  They are like little birds in the nest, happily opening their mouths to swallow the food their mother bird, or others that the mother bird trusts, drops down their gullets.

constitutionBased on this reasoning, I do not want my little guys listening to Tuesdays speech, beamed into my children’s classrooms, without parental guidance.  How many of those children will think the president is directly talking to their classroom or their school.  Imagine! The president needs their help!  “Gee, Mom, President Obama says I can help him.  He wants me on his side.  Wow-I need 3 ways to help him.  My teacher helped me come up with a plan.”

My malleable, trusting sons will come home telling me we need to help the President of the United States implement his socialist agend.  Then Iwill be the bad guy because I do not believe in his plans.

My high school students are different.  We have discussed politics, our beliefs, and history.  I am a firm believer that you need at leat 3 reasons to believe what you believe.  You just cannot believe because your mama or daddy does.  Understanding why you stand for something is critically important.

Faithful did his sophomore paper on the difference between capitalism and socialism.  Most of the students in his class seemed to think that socialism was the way to go.  “Everybody should get equal pay,” they said.  “After all, not everyone gets the same opportunities.” My son responded, “Well, do you want the garbage man doing brain surgery on you? ”   

Marx’s ideological theory, “From everyone according to his ability to everyone according to his need” is the foundation of exploitation and reducation of freedom.  There is no American Dream in socialism.

U_S_ConstitutionOur forefathers fought to keep the government out of our life, our religion, our dreams, and out of how we raise our children.  A president attempting to beguile each child in America, trying to get little children to promote his agenda, doeson’t seem like the government that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison established.

When President  Obama goes into each classroom, bypassing our own community checkpoints like our school boards, bypassing parents–it sure seems like government is getting pretty personal, pretty intimate with our day-to-day life.

Even more insidious is that he knows those children will go home all pumped up, like they do for those fundraisers, begging their parents to support a president whose plans they cannot even begin to understand.  They just want to help. When their parents do not jump on the bandwagon with them, guess who ends up being the bad guy? The government driving a wedge between parents and children sure doesn’t sound like my America.

On Tuesday, my two youngest sons will be having ice cream with me and their dad while President Obama speaks.  We’re going to be reading the Preamble and Article 2 of the Constitution.  We might even talk about what President James Madison, the 4th president of the United States, thought when he wrote the Federalist Paper 45.

In Matthew 22:21,  Jesus says to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” So far, in American, my children do not belong to our government.  They belong to their parents.  Let us keep it that way!

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Charles Dickens in an author that inspired me.  I wanted to grow up and be the female Charles Dickens.  That is when I was in high school.  I loved the books, but I didn’t realize the political significance of his books.  He wrote with a mission to make social improvements in society. I loved the stories, not really the things that made him great.

I admired him so much, I named a cat after him.  Since then, all our cats are named after authors or literary characters.

My sons loathe Dickens.  “It’s old English,” my oldest son said when he had to read The Christmas Carroll in the 8th grade. 

Exasperated and amused, I replied, “You couldn’t read old English.  It looks like a foreign language.  Dickens in modern English.”  Then we spent a couple of hours alternating the pages, reading together.  It is one of those wonderful mom-son moments is a memory favorite.

My second son had to read A Tale of  Two Cities.  The detail about did him in. I patiently explained that 19th century writing was the television of today.  The authors had to visually create scenes, not with a camera or a paint brush, but with words.

Dickens today is not read like it was delivered to its audience.  It was delivered  in monthly or weekly installments. It was not meant to be read over the weekend. 

Reading Dickens needs to be approached one should appraoched eating a Chocolate Celebrate Cake or a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake-You don’t eat it all in one day.  Like a rich dessert, Dickens literature, too, is rich.  Too much too soon leaves one feeling woosy and over-whelmed.  Just like too much can turn you away from a particular desert for the rest of your life, so can too much of  Dickens at one time.

It would be wonderful if classrooms today delivered Dickens, Vicgtor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas in installments.  I would truly enjoy a monthly magazine that did just that.  Barnes and Noble has reproduced in comic-book form, early 20th century books of Hugo.  How exciting!  I remember seeing those books in my grandmother’s house as a child.  I loved them.

Dickens seems to have a message for different parts of my life.  In the acknowledgements of my Masters thesis, I used the following quote that is a response to another writer who sent him a manuscript asking, “Do I have any writing ability?” Dickens responded, by demuring: who was he to judge because “for all I know the land is yours by right.”  That was my response to the professor who had said I had no creative ability whatsoever.  If a great, classic author wouldn’t sever the heart of a dream from the person, why should a professor?

Dickens books are classic because they are filled with the wonderfulness of humanity.  The corruption of humanity he shows is the foil to that goodness.  As a result, we can better see the difference between evil and goodness.

My most favorite Dickens quote is from a Mary Englebreit card given to me when one of my sons was born:  “It is no small thing, when they who are so fresh from God, love us”(Dickens). It is on my bathroom mirror.

When my children are “so fresh from God,” they love unconditionally.  Love trumps all!

How they wrap their arms around your neck,

press a kiss against your cheek,

snuggle up for a feel-better moment

or just because they are bursting with love

“Will you marry me, Mom?”

“Sing to me, mom?”

Pray for me, mom?

Make everythign better, mom?

We are born trusting our parents. Why? Because when we are so fresh from God, we only know goodness, hope, and love.  That freshness fades, tarnishing a bit throught the teens, disappears during the college years when they are too intelligent to love without thinking.  They think love more than feel love-at least where the parents are concerned.

I guess that is one of the silver linings to having a bunch of children.  When the oldest is a little too jaded, a little to intellectual to love so unconditionally, you have a little one who loves so freshly, so unconditionally in such an I’m-still-fresh-from-God kind of love!

I still love Dickens, but now I know why! I bought 8 copies of A christmas Carrol for all of us to read before Christmas this year!  Can you hear the boys cheering with excitement?

Yes, I realize the experience will be like pulling a mule into the glue factory; however, I think it will create a memory they will never forget, and they will reluctantly love it, though they would never admit it!

 

 

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100_2450Feathering the nest–twig by twig.  The front door might be different.  The path to the bathroom might require an alternate.   Different rooms with different colors. Home, but not home.  However, I have a recipe for making Home.

The boys still cannot find “stuff.”  I put the toothpaste in their bathroom, but they couldn’t see it in the top drawer.  As a result, they stole mine.  That’s some boy-raising at-home behavior. I’ve always said that the difference between a man and a woman is a man can find anything thing that moves, hence the hunter.  The woman can find anything that stays still, hence the gatherer.

However, slowly I have been unpacking home.  The blankets are pulled out and ready to wrap for a snuggle.  My favorite Key Lime candle scent fills the kitchen.  Narcissus Paperwhite wafts from my bedroom. And I prayed!  I prayed for my sons, my home, my husband, and me!

The boys came home to dinner, chicken, rice, broccoli, and carrots, followed by ice cream and cookies fresh out of the oven.  The little guys aren’t quite comfortable in their room yet, so I pulled out a few songs at bedtime: Simple Gifts, Holy and Annointed One, Away in a Manger, Think of Me, Ten in the Bed, and Blue Eyes (by me for my son). They drifted off to sleep peacefully.

Last weekend, we put in a few movies, Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and Abbott and Costello.  Laughter filled the house!

Then we set about to make memories.  We took the boys to The Pinnacle, a place where my husband and I used to hike B.C. (Before Children). 

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This view was even more beautiful because it gave me an excuse to lay down on a bench, suck in ozygen, and give my screaming legs a rest.

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Four little feet sitting all in a row!

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Hiking up that hill surely symbolized the journey of our move: the pain of toiling, the beauty of the results007

Faithful was worried the others would fall.  He was probably worried he would, too! The line, “Mom, Really? Is this really worth a picture?” Meaning the possibility of one hurtling over the edge.016

There used to be a crooked tree the boys loved at our other house. What a nice connection!

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What a view!

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What a memory!

Afterwards, we went to my favorite pizza restaurant.  We hadn’t been there is over 20 years.  Around the table at Papalenos Italian Restaurant , we broke the pizza bread, shared the slices, resting, finding humor, solidifying our family roots by making memories, passing the hot pepper and cheese, tenderly re-planting family roots gently pulled.

The Recipe for Home

A heep of prayer

Platefulls of food

A pinch of scents that smell like home

Snuggly Blankets

Memory Making Adventures

Songs

Laughter

A front door, or a side door, that says, “Welcome!”

Thanks for all your prayers during this Big Change!  They have sustained me, given me courage, and filled me with joy!

 

 

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When life challenges, I tend to submerge myself into books.  These books are like old friends and old places that are comfortable.  I just finished Persuasion by Jane Austin.  The Secret Garden is next on my list–yes, a children’s book.  I read it first in 5th grade.  Everytime I have ever moved, I pull it out and read it.  Even at my advanced age! 

The story, about being left out, then immersed, kicking and screaming, into a new life where friends of the heart are found and finding home where you are loved, accepted, and invited.  Planting people roots takes a lot of work.  So much unfamiliarity!  Old books are like the home of an old friend where you can sit and forget the challenges for an hour or so.

The following poem, by, now don’t click away–William Shakespeare is one of those pieces of literature that grounds me, reminds me about my most important task.   Except, it is more like a one sided conversation with someone who inspires me to think about motherhood.  Shakespeare?  Motherhood?  It reminds me that in the midst of change, in the swirl of finding my place in this new community, that I cannot neglect my children in a quest to find that coffee shop, to unpack that box, to lose myself in that book that feels like home.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  It is my very favorite!

Sonnet 143

Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch

One of her feather’d creatures broke away,

Sets down her babe, and makes all swift dispatch

In pursuit of the thing she would have stay;

Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,

Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent

To follow that which flies before her face,

Not prizing her poor infant’s discontent;

So runn’st thou after that which flies from thee,

Whilst I thy babe chase thee afar behind;

But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me,

And play the mother’s part, kiss me, be kind;

So will I pray that thou mayst have thy ‘Will,’

If thou turn back and my loud crying still.

 

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Someone said the two most stressful events in a person’s life are weddings and moves.  My son married in June in an outdoor, 102 degree weather. Yesterday, we packed up 80 percent of our belongings, said good-bye to my son, small-town paradise, great friends, and hauled ourselves to a new home town.  It’s my husband’s hometown. We lived there for about 8 years after we married, but after 18 years, it’s new.

Why leave Paradise, you might ask.

My answer: because God said, “Go.”

Just because God said, “Go” does not make the going easier.  However, I want my “Go” to be a faith go, not a grumbling go like the children of Israel when they left Egypt.  God had so much blessing planned for His children, but when the going got tough, their faith in God’s plan got going–in the opposite direction of where God wanted them to go.

I can see where God positioned our lives for the last two years, preparing us for this move.  My junior wanted to move last summer, and, by George, he was going to move up here when he turned 18 and graduate, with or without us.  I asked him if he had prayed about that decision.  He said, “God said,’Go.'”  Of course, now he changed his mind.  I laughingly told him, “This is all your fault.  You’re the one who prayed for this move.”  He wasn’t amused.

My mom asked, “Are you still moving? Your house hasn’t sold.  I don’t think this is a good idea.”

God said, “Go.”  He’ll take care of the house selling.  He provides for all our needs on the journey to which he He called us.

The job–do you both have jobs?  Last summer, we bought a business, The Original Hotkaps.  This was supposed to be my “job.” 

Well, my husband’s business decided to move all of North American engineering to Detroit.  We didn’t want to raise our boys there.  A similar company move to Detroit prompted us to take a job in Paradise 18 years ago. My business became the family business. The Martha Stewart Show beautifully showcased our product in April.  What an encouraging experience.  It was like God saying, “You’re going in the right direction.”

St. Augustine said in his book City of God that challenges come both to the pagan and the Christian.  The only difference is how Christians handle those challenges.

We started positioning for the move over Spring Break, touring the schools, meeting the counselors, filling out forms and creating information folders.  On our last day of school, we carried transcripts and folders 3 hours away to officially register our 4 boys for school before their year ended. Then the challenges began:

Challenge 1:  It took 6 weeks for our junior to be declared eligible to play sports.  He had to watch while his freshman brother tried out and practiced for the soccer team. They keep forgetting about the freshman.  He wasn’t on the roster, no schedule, the folder disappeared.  Who is he?

Really,God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 2:  We are looking for a rental house.  We want to build on his grandmother’s farm.  Sadly, a tornado took all the house rentals off the market, filling them with victims.  We saw houses that smelled of dog urine, houses that were too small, houses too expensive.  We found 3 different houses.  They quoted us one price before we looked, and then increased the price when we said, “We’ll take it.”

Are you sure, God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 3:  We found a house to rent–a potentially wonderful house.  The owner bought it in foreclosure and is waiting for the market to turn around, increasing his investment.  He rented it for a year.  A second renter lasted 2 weeks-until she discovered the man she was to move in with was married.  She left a heap of trash on the driveway, a heap of trash in the house. 

The day of our walk-through, the day before we were scheduled to move in, the trash hadn’t moved, a water leak in the master bedroom had just been replastered, the finished basement was still wet from an air-conditioning leak, there were still huge holes in the walls from pictures and curtain rods.  The stairwell wall, which you see coming in, was filthy. 

My fifth grader balked.  His stomach threatened to heave.  He couldn’t find a clean toilet(there were 4) in the house.  Have you ever seen the scene in the movie with Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice where she had to use an RV bathroom on the interstate?  The sounds emitting from that RV?  I was living that moment with my 5th grader.  Then he said, “I don’t like this house. It scares me.” 

Challenge 4:  We loaded up our house this weekend, moving the stuff that makes my house my home.  The beds, the blankets (I washed them all before we moved), the smells (my favorite candles), the comfy couch–all of it!  They keep changing our move-in date.  It was supposed to be last Friday.  Then Tuesday.  Now Wednesday, but they cannot confirm whether morning or night.

Still “Go?”

Challenge 5:  Today was the first day of school.  No pictures yet.  I can’t find my camera.  My 5th grader cried when he climbed in the car after school.  My shiny new 3rd grader tried to encourage him (see about mourning): “I miss my friends inside,” he told his older brother. “But on the outside, I’m making new friends. All you do is say, “Hi, what’s your name?” And then he went on and on while his brother’s face got redder, his eyes welled more, and a few sobs burst out.  

God, now my son is crying?  I feel as lost as he does at times. I’ve cried a lot, too. Still, “Go?”

Challenge 6: Friday night, I sat with my son and his wife at the one of the eclectic coffee shops on the town square of Paradise: watching the traffic, calling greetings to people we knew, sipping a Chocolate Decadence frappe, talking about life with my oldest son.  He’s staying in Paradise, unless God calls him out. No coffee shops to share a cup of Joe with my peeps in the new town.

Really, God?  Leave my son?

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”(Jeremiah 29:11).

I couldn’t do this without God.  I couldn’t have left if God hadn’t said, “Go.”  I can because God takes care of his kids, especially when He says, “Go.”

However, and this is the point of my post, I BELIEVE!

Matthew 17:20 says the following: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Speaking Faith moves the mountain.  Because I spoke faith, my 4thson was born healthy and whole.  Because I spoke the promises of God, my 3rd son was healed from a stomach problem. Because I was faithful to God’s promises, He sent me a wonderful husband.

I am not going to say,”Life sucks!” 

I am going to say, “God so blesses my life.  I thank you God that you have everything taken care of.  I thank you that you have friends for my sons who will lift them up when they fall down.  You have friends waiting for me, just like that, too.  I thank you Father that my house is ready.  It will be a warm, secure home where my boys can find rest, encouragement, and hospitality.  I thank you Father that our business will be blessed, that you guide my husband, giving him wisdom in building this dream of his.  I thank you that I haven’t lost faith in people. I thank you that Paradise is where you want me to be!  I thank you that you have the plan for my family under control.  I thank you that you know what my 5th grader needs. I thank you that you will give him the strength to hold the tears in so he won’t cry in front of the class.  I thank you that he loves us enough to share those fears with us.  I thank you that we are blessed!

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7-24-2007-030Experience allows a more 20/20 perspective on behavior. Otherwise, the other night, I probably would have notched my stress level to Red Alert, incited an inquisition and reduced my little guy to tears. As a matter of fact, he was disappointed I didn’t make him cry.

I was snuggled in a blanket reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  Whenever life gets a little stressful, I succumb to 19th century literature.  Nineteenth Century lit always has a happy ending.  Last week, I finished Jane Austin’s Persuasion to assuage my stress.  We are physically moving our household this weekend to another state.  School starts Monday.  We’ve been living with my lovely in-laws on and off during the summer, getting the boys moved up for their sports activities.  I’m sure I’m going to need another dose of Austin before the next week is out!

My little guy, the Human Resource Department of the family, entered. “Mom,” he said. “I gotta tell you something.”

“Oh, what have you got to tell me,” I asked.  I could pull out a folder a mile long on “I gotta tell you something.”  This folder could boast of owls in the yard, snakes on the living room floor, the family room on fire, a project due tomorrow, broken dishes, spilled drinks, or just simply, “I love you.”  I was hoping for “I love you.”

“I’ve been saying bad words,” he answered.

Shew!  I’ve been here before. I can handle this. I set my book down, asking, “When did you say these bad words?”

“Well, I know about 2 or 3.  But I didn’t know they were bad when I said them,” he explained, in a matter of fact voice.

“When did you say these bad words?” I repeated, reigning in the conversation, my information-gathering detective mode kicking in.

100_1225_0042“Well, one was a very long time ago,” and then he rambled on a bit about the others.  I wasn not about to ask him what the words were.  I could guess.  Reducing him to embarrassed giggles by making him recite them would detract from the message.  Besides, if he is not supposed to say them, asking him to do so somewhat defeats that directive.

“If you know they’re bad words, then don’t say them again. O.K.,” I instructed. 

He waited, looked a little crestfallen. “Are you going to spank me?” he asked.

“No.  Not if you don’t say the words again.  You know the right thing to do,” I assured him.

“Can I pretend to cry, go upstairs to [Fire and Power], and tell him you spanked me,” he asked, hopeful. After all, he had a plan.  It looked like the plan began and ended with him pulling a prank on his brother, not true despair and repentance over word choice.

“Do we need to talk about truth-telling and lying now?” I asked, trying to pierce him with my sternest look.

It probably didn’t end that way when the first and second son came in years ago, saying the same thing.  I probably made more out of it than I should have. Some things don’t change: Same conversation, different sons.  8830976-R1-042-19AIt is part of growing up, learning to decipher good behavior choices from bad.  They just want reassurance they know the right choices, the right language from the wrong.  My oldest son says that I am easier on the younger ones than I was on him.  I think I am a little wiser in how I handle parenting challenges. For example, subtle pressure verses lowering the boom can be quite powerful. 

Funny how little moments like that, spiced with some pure mischievousness can lighten your heart and reduce your stress better than a good 19th century classic!

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My very favorite niece advised me to keep posts short. Perceiver of Truth will tell you that if you want a quick answer, don’t go to mom.  If you want to sit down, savor a conversation, talk detail, then I’m the go-to mom.  There’s a sign on my porch that says, “Sit Long. Talk Much.” At 40, I learned to love who God made me to be.  “Sit Long. Talk Much”–that’s me.

I did shorten my last piece.  Really!  I did. Today’s post is the edited portion from “Whatever You do, Do with All Your Might.”  I really did try to sit long, post little.

Let’s finish my discussion on working. Instilling a great work ethic in our children gives them wings to soar. Let me be very clear here.  I am not saying that I have successfully instilled a great work ethic in my children.  It is a work in progress.  I don’t know if what I’m doing is right.  All I know is that I have to step forward in faith one day at a time, make the best decisions with the information I have, and plant seeds-verbally, through my example, and what I culturally bring into our sphere.

However, I want to take “Working with All Your Might” two steps further.  First, we need to define work.  Work is any task to which hands are put. 

Work comes in at least 2 categories; tasks that are a chore: a burden, grind, trail.  It is part of the rat race, not who we are or how we define ourselves. Chores are defined as unstimulating, demeaning, trash-talking opportunities accompanied by a little whine.  After all, chores are “not who we are.”

Work can also be a “career” or a hobby by which we define ourselves, like a badge that boasts of talent, work ethic, success.  Can you say “Career” and not smile? Or think the name of your hobby and not eagerly anticipate?

Biblically, there is no differentiation between chore, career, or hobby.  We are encouraged to do our best, to work with all our might.

Not only does God want us to work with all our might at whatever we happento be do, but He wants our work to be praise:

“In all that you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for me”(Colossians 3:23)

Able offered the firstborn of his flock-considered the best he had to offer (Genesis 4:4). Second-best offerings resulted in punishment, a lack of favor.

Abraham offered to sacrifice the desire of his heart, his dream (Genesis: 22).  Sacrificial offerings were never second best.  God offered his perfect son.  He didn’t change the rules of sacrificial offering for Him–He was the example for us to follow.

We have only ourselves to offer God.  That part of ourselves includes the work of our hands, hands dipped in the kitchen sink, folding laundry, fingers typing words of encouragement or relating a hilarious story, hands driving, or creating beautiful cards, scrapbooks, delicious recipes, weeding the walkway, rubbing lotion on poison ivy.

How can work be a trudge when we are offering that work as praise?  Does that change what you think about your “chores?”  While sitting here typing, my kitchen says, “No–there’s definitely no work as praise going on in here right now.”  The laundry room–imagine my laundry–instead of saying, “It’s a curse” (remember, what you speak is what you get) “I’m going to walk the talk this next week.

Doing my best for God!.  It might not be perfect, but I’m going to try my best at whatever I turn my hand to as a gift to God saying, “Thank You for all You have done for me.”

Maybe I will develop a better example for my sons to follow. Maybe that is how to successfully plant a strong work ethic in my sons!

Special thanks to Mummy McTavish for posting a note.  Her comment gave me the encouragement I needed to complete my discussion.  Visit her at samster-dot-com.blogspot.com.

*I would have taken pictures of my kitchen, but my camera is packed for our BIG MOVE this weekend to a whole new frontier!

 

 

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When you are the mother of 5 sons, inevitably, the question is asked, “Do you want any more children. . . . maybe a girl?”

The anwer?  I have taught all my sons to read and swim.  If I had one more, he/she would be illiterate and drown. 

Still, school is starting.  My White Board Calendar is expanding its usage this year: the place for my high school students to record their academic assignments.  Hopefully, that will create a more organized, focused work ethic.

The dog days of summer lead to full backpacks, lunchboxes filled with mama’s love, pens, pencils, paper, binders, and homework.  School has the potential to be so much more than the tools of school.

Why is it the addage, “Oh, honey, just do your best,” sounds like “Aw, I realize you really can’t do better, so you don’t have to try so hard.” Listen the next time someone says that.  Are they really promoting someone doing their best work?

I realize different children have different gifts.  I realize not every gift turns into an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, Emeril, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham.   However, we are called to be all that Christ has called us to be:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be”(Psalm 139: 14-16)

Each of us arrive in the world with a plan, designed for joy and fulfillment, a job, a tool box with God-designed tools to help us in our journey, and one awesome safety net.  However, a couch-potato-mentality can interfere with God’s plan for our lives and our children’s lives.

Taking God out of education takes holistic purpose out of education.  When your job is just a job, where’s the nobleness, the drive.  When your job is God-inspired, your talent God-given, and your success a result of God Faith, your job becomes more than a job.

An engineer doesn’t just create cars or iPods for entertainment.  An engineer creates jobs that give families the means to feed, clothe, support, and grow secure families.  If you only see yourself as the engineer, you don’t see God’s plan for you.  If you see the effect of a job well done, then you start getting the idea.

Neither me nor my children have to be an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham to impact others. Someone who helps just one person is just as noble as the one who  helps one thousand. However, we are to fully use the gifts God placed in us to the fullest of our abilities.

Disappointingly, what I have seen in the classroom and, at times, in my own children is a take-for-granted attitude about who they are in Christ and how that affects them in the classroom.  They are willing to talk the talk but not walk the talk.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc 9:10) is the motto I hope to instill in my children. 

In my college classroom, Christian students enter, itching for an opportunity to evangelize the radical left faculty.  Sadly, their witness leaves them open for derision and tags of hypocrisy.  When a Christian student comes to class habitually late,  comes un-prepared for in-class work, doesn’t spell-check, or follow directions, that behavior erodes the strength of their witness. 

Work ethic is a reflection of Christ in you.  Maybe you don’t have the skill to write an A essay, but you do have the skill to come on time, prepared, and the work ethic to learn.  I would rather have a student with a strong work ethic in my class than a student with tremendous ability.  Work ethic trumps ability any time.

My oldest son struggled with pre-calculus. “I’m just not good at it anymore,” he bemoaned.  The excuse sounded great, but that is what it was–an excuse to back down from the challenge.

God gives us gifts.  In our strength areas, our gift areas, those gifts carry us for a certain amount of time.  For some, math might be easy early on, or reading, or language; however, at some point, the gift no longer carries. In order to take that gift to the next level, work ethic needs to be applied.

Yes, whatever you do, do it with all your might = work ethic for the successful.

Frustration, the spice of motherhood!  Some of the boys chose to work hard.  Some needed to be prodded.  Some needed help learning how to work hard. Frustration is an inward signal, a warning sign that modification needs to be made.  Frustration prompts me to look for alternate solutions to challenges.  We would just sail right on, not realizing our children needed adjustment or that we need to adjust ourselves.

100_2157Seed planting is how I look at it.  Hopefully, those seeds will grow and one day blossom to a healthy harvest.  Healthy Harvests are so incredibily beautiful.

Work Ethic is the key to success.  Work Ethic dedicated to God unlocks blessing, growing good things within our souls.

Blessings on the start of your school year!

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Noah Webster’s 18 28 Dictionary provides the quintessential defintion of education.  Sadly, it probably wouldn’t be allowed reading in public schools today.

“EDUCA’TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties(http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/education).

This is true holistic education!  What do you think?

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A mom’s birthday is so different from the parties planned for a mom’s child.  As a mom, I gather my sons’ friends, design a cake that will inprint in their memory, fill up water balloons until my fingers are sore, puzzle over party favors that are cost efficient but are die-to-take-home favors.  A day of celebration, a day that hugs all around and down the years. 

Love is a determination that finds a way to re-bag   a surprise 16 party that a “friend” let out of the bag.  I’ve planned 2 surprise 16 parties.  It is so fun to be able to lie for 3 weeks about everything in a surprise party and not go to hell for it.  For example, one 16th party, I reminded my son that one set of neighbors was having a family reunion.  I was making lemon-curd meringue shell pies to help them out.  By the way, watch out for all the cars.  The reunion folk would be parking up and down the street. Not a word that was true!

My husband and I had worked out a plan. He and Perceiver of Truth were going to the movies with Perceiver’s best friend.  I was going to send out an SOS emergency call about a snake on the porch, a poisonous-looking snake.  They would return to save the fear-stricken family.  It worked out “perfectly.”  Of course, it helped that the night before, an actual snake curled up on the column of the front porch. 

My birthday, though I boast it’s the 3rd most important day of the year (after Jesus’ birth and resurrection), is filled with ecleticly mom-moments.  For example, when I was 40, I planned my own surprise party. I think my husband was the most surprised because I actually did it.  Of course, I wasn’t really surprised, but it was so fun planning it!

For two years in a row, I cancelled my birthday, rescheduling it for another day.  The boys, snarly and snipping , were in such foul moods.  One shouldn’t celebrate in the midst of such unpleasant tempers.  Birthdays should be laughing, smilling, hugging occasions. 

One year, on the way to Outback Steakhouse (so totally yum), the two littlest cried in perpetual chorus, “I want to go to O’Charley’s.  Why can’t we go to O’Charley’s?”

As we were driving closer to my happy birthday dinner, the lyrics to Rodney Atkin’s  song, “If You’re Going Through Hell” came on the radio:

“If your going through hell
Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared don’t show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there

Yeah, If you’re going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there”

This is a song you don’t want to live on your birthday.  However, that song is now a thread in the tapestry of my birthday memories.  Funny, my husband and I don’t have a special song, but I have a special birthday song. 

A Mama’s birthday!  How different!  Today, how perfect, in a mama-kind-of way.

We went to church.  I couldn’t have picked a sermon that I wanted to hear, or my sons to hear any better.  God did a great job planning my day.  Our minister spoke about the power of words, that what you speak is what you get.  In other words, speak Faith.  Speak God’s promises on your life! 

  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”(Proverbs 18:21)
  • “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight”(Pslam 19:14)
  • “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”(Ephesians 4:29)
  • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”(Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life”(Proverbs 10:11)
  • “For we all stumble in many ways.  And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridlge his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also:  though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directions.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things”(James 3:2-5)

This was accompanied by a story of one of our high school graduates who would be going to the Citadel.  Teachers and counselors told him he would never get accepted.  He applied anyway. His father finally told him, after he hadn’t had a response, to speak his Faith.  He did.  He’s going.

I’ve had so many people do the same to me.  My high school counselor and mom talked.  They decided that I should not go into journalism.  I just really did not have the talent, they said–just because your mama thinks you are good doesn’t really mean you are.  That I was editor of the school paper who earned special recognition meant nothing to them. 

I could have said, “Oh, well, you’re a failure.  They say so.”  Instead, I went to college, wrote for the local newspaper for about 2 years before I entered graduate school.

In graduate school, my thesis advisor dropped me.  He didn’t think I had it.  The graduate advisor told me I had no creative ability whatsoever. I was in the wrong area.  I was 8 months pregnant.  I went home, cried, pulled myself together, delivered a baby and an honorable mention short story in the Sigma Tau Delta national literary magazine.  I found a new thesis advisors, finished my creative thesis, and turned it in.  The Dean of the Graduate School called our department chairman, declaring it the best creative thesis that had come over her desk.

Other people’s words have the power to tear down.  However, what we speak about our gifts and ourselves, well, that is up to what comes out of our mouths.  We control that.  I am a firm believer in what you speak is what you get.  There are enough people in the world willing to stomp on dreams, without the dreamers stomping on their dreams, too!

After church, we had Chess and Checkers time.  I was soundly defeated in both by my oldest son.  I rarely lose, but having all my boys around  just playing Chess and Checkers was a win for me.

We went to my favorite restaurant, Crawdaddy’s, for my favorite meal.  No crying this time.  Sweet Sallies Bakery made my favorite chocolate ganache cupcakes ( I ordered too late for a cake), but everyone loves a cupcake. 

Not mentioned in my day was rampant house cleaning during Chess and Checkers because we’re moving, trying to sell our house, and the realtor wanted to show it during my birthday lunch.  Not mentioned was that after my birthday nap, we drove 3 hours to where we’re going to move to get things set to move at the end of the week.  A mom’s birthday is uniquely different from our children’s.

However, at the end of my uniquely perfect birthday, I sat down to write this post for Blue Cotton Memory, my dream come to life!

Thanks ladies, for making my birthday so uniquely mom-perfect!

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Health insurance has changed since my first son was born.  Each year we do pay more and more for services.  When Perceiver of Truth was born, the state of Kentucky paid for all immunizations.  When Faithful was born, I paid a $5 co-pay for each visit and immunization.  When Joyful came around, the co-pay went up.  However, when The Fire and Power of the H.S. was born, my insurance coverage went up 500%.  I was given a yearly allowance of about $200.  The first year’s worth of well-child visits and immunizations was to be over $1,000.  The insurance market and customers should evaluate better ways to insure, but I do not want my government meddling in my health care.

Let me tell you about my mother.  About 4 years ago, at Christmas time, she started smelling things, experiencing a bad taste in her mouth.  Then she’d blink out for a few minutes.  When she ate, food started dribbling down the side of her mouth.  There were 3 second pauses between words when she spoke.

Mighty Doctor, Dr. Stephen Applegate, ordered a series of tests.  They found a brain tumor the size of a golf ball.  In the process of the testing, they found a rare, slow-growing cancer in the bowel. (I say Mighty Doctor because he was.  He took care of all the women in my family until he died from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  He was all about the fight to live).

Surgery for Mom’s brain tumor came first.  She wouldn’t have survived if they did the cancer surgery first.  They suspect the brain tumor had been slowly growing for about a decade.  However, the tumor had not only enlarged enough to cause mini-seizures and affected functioning, but growth had quickened. Surgery needed to be done quickly.

If Mom had been in Canada or Britain, obligated to their health care system, she would have died if she had to wait a month, much leass a year.

The woman who used to have Ginger Bread House Decorating Parties at Christmas,

who makes the most beautiful wreaths

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who makes the most beautiful summer quilts, 

100_2362100_1798would not have been here to make my Christmas mantel look so beautiful this year

( I pick out the stuff I like, but she makes it lushly pop),

Attend my son’s wedding,

IMG_6679 copy_0041

See my son twirl me in the mother-son dance!

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Or just be my mom!

momandme2

There might be glitches in the business of health care right now, but I’d prefer the government stay out of my and my families’ right to the freedom of health care.  It is the best health care in the world!  I’d rather decide if I wanted to fight to live, instead of some government official telling me to throw in the towel.

Why would a government official care whether my mom died before she was “granted” permission to even fight to live?

I’ve always said I wanted to grow old, showing my sons how to grow old loving “The Lord.”  Maybe that means being an inspiration of faith during a health struggle, allowing God to heal me through the hands of a doctor.  Maybe that means my great-grandchildren coming to visit a granny who had an indomitable spirit who wouldn’t give up, who fought the good fight, and they want some of that spirit in them.

The choice, though, is mine. The choice is my mother’s.  It is not some government bureaucrat’s choice.

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