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Archive for the ‘crisis’ Category

03-08-2009 04;28;20PMMy grandmother, Mary Edna, taught me  about strength. One bright sunny morning, she moved from grandmother to something closer and more powerful.

The sun was pouring through the big upstairs windows at her house. Spending the night at grandmother and grandfather’s house, drinking hot chocolate for breakfast-that was the life-except that morning, grandmother accidently put coffee in my milk instead of cocoa.

“Can I live here forever?” I asked. I asked it every time. We were upstairs straightening the beds when the phone rang, you know the 1968 phone ring. Grandmother answered, handing me the phone to talk to my mom.

“Can I live here forever?” I remember asking into the phone.

My mother said, “Yes.”

Wow! Talk about getting what you wish for! It left me speechless. I remember wandering downstairs, onto the front porch, swinging. The milkman came, leaving two bottles of milk in the milk box.

Mom, my brother, and I moved in a few weeks later. Morning hot chocolates stopped. We weren’t just grandchildren anymore. We were something. . . more.

There were times when I wondered how my grandfather could love such a woman. The older I got, the more I understood. You need strength to push through tough times. You need strength to make meager times rich. You need strength to have hope.

She could be sharp, judgmental, and an adherent to Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette. Despite that, she made me feel beautiful on the inside. That’s what mattered most to me—that’s where I wanted to be beautiful.

I learned as I grew into a young woman the need to stand up for what I believed. If I didn’t, she could just roll right over me.

It terrified me to stand up to her. She could wield the look. Most people would just give up if she gave you the look. Deep inside, I knew I couldn’t give up. If I did, I would lose . . . .me. So I would stand up to her. . . and when there was nothing left to do, then I would just stand.

She respected that.

I learned that if I could stand up to her, I could stand up to anybody or for anything. A lot of shoe quaking is involved in the standing up to a seemingly greater than oneself. Sweaty palms, too, often followed sometimes by light-headed-ness, probably due to a lack of oxygen. Sometimes life requires moments like this, the standing-up-for-something-inside-of-ourselves moments. Moments where you can’t afford to stand down.

One day after my first son was born, we gathered in the family room, my grandmother, aunt, mom, and I. Everyone was enjoying the baby. I got up and turned the corner to the kitchen when I hit on a chair my very sensitive part of the shin, that funnybone part that when knocked just the right when in the moment of busyness has nothing funny about it, just exquisite pain.

I cursed. Then I inwardly cursed again when the family room went stone quiet. I never cursed. At least, not until I started driving, and then only when I was driving. Then I got married, and the battle increased. Then I had a baby. However, these women in my family respected how I struggled never to curse.

I had a reputation that with the split-second shin hit was about to be torn to shreds. The silence screamed condemnation. I took a deep breath, and stuck my head around the corner, ready to take the lashing. There are times where it only takes one incident to destroy one’s reputation.

Scan6_2_0039_039Everyone was looking at grandmother, the great matriarch, waiting for the verdict, the censure. My character failure would be recalled again and again. Just like the one time I opened a Christmas present early and rewrapped it. A criminal just can’t keep a secret; they have to brag. Stupid me! You’d think I had done it every Christmas.

My grandmother looked them square in the eye, and said, “My mother always said there was a time and place to curse. I believe you just found it.”

The conversation turned. Not a word was ever said about the incident again. She had secured my dignity.

I miss her every day! I used the strength she instilled in me every day. With a house full of sons to raise, they can’t ever see you sweat! Toppling into a weepy puddle is just not an option—at least not in front of them.

It is hard balancing the two, a stick that won’t be broken and a gentle hand filled with compassion. I fail often; however, I cannot afford to give up. That dog-gone strength I built from standing up to her just won’t let me.

God replaced the loss of a father with a great gift—my grandmother who taught me to be strong.

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When Jesus was born, he brought with him the gift of Salvation. When he died, he left us the power of the Holy Spirit to help us 1) overcome and 2) help others overcome through prayers that intercede, giving others that Holy Spirit strength to stand when they cannot. It is a season of intercession, of teaming together with the Holy Spirit.

I’m reposting this today because I haven’t the words nor the actions to bind the wounds of grieving parents – but I do have prayer – and prayer can reach further than words or actions. These kindergartent parents, the children of these teachers – they need right now – need for us to support through prayer.

What do you do with second-hand grief?

When crisis and tragedy comes to people you love who aren’t your own, but are – and your heart bursts with grief, empathy, love for those wounded –  what do you do to staunch the flow of their pain.

Cook meals, help clean-up the unthinkable, feel powerless to make things right in our own ability – until remembering Him, I intercede.

Second-hand grief intercedes. Stands in the gap. Maybe in that intercession, in the prayer, in that grief – we carry some of the overwhelming burden of that first-hand grief until they are strong enough to carry it all themselves.

Yesterday, hearts broke in our little neighborhood when a jungle gym/tree house tipped over, falling on one of these precious children, taking her to heaven.

Our little community, our little ones who were all for one and one for all, their spirits are bruised up.

The neighborhood has hushed. A lot of quiet. No children’s laughter right now. No joy sounds. No little feet running and playing. No one knocking on doors seeking their friends.

Bruised up and praying.

Praying that only things of God take root in the hearts of this beautiful, safety-diligent, God-loving, gentle family who lost so much, who just want prayer.

 

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Simply Saturday

Promise Journal

 I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do—yes,

they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father.

And I will do whatever you ask for in my name,

so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son. 

If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it” John 14:12-14

 Wow!  Whatever I ask for in Jesus name—there has to be a catch?  Right?  Or we would all be rich as kings on the beach in the south of France—who would want the Bahamas if they could have the south of France?

  • What you ask has to line up with what God promises.  If you do not know what God promises, you do not know what’s available.  What does God promise?  Remember that song “Make Me Glad”?  “You are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliver, my shelter, strong tower, my ever present help in time of need?”
    • Prosperity
    • Healing
    • Protection
    • Strength
    • Family
    • Encouragement
    • Help
    • More

 If you do not know what God wants to do for you, how can you ask God to do it for you and have FAITH and HOPE that it will be done?  God’s words are not only an instruction manual for how He works, but they are also a love letter to His children.  Maybe you are missing out on what he has planned for you because you have not opened his “e-mails.”

Dear Father, I thank you for everything you have done for me.  I thank you for what you’re going to do for me.  I thank you that today my body will be stronger, my mind will be shaper, and that not only will I be blessed by my family, but I will be a blessing to them, too.  I pray that today I will let somebody know about the love of Jesus Christ either through words or actions.  I thank you for answer my prayer because Jesus said you would—it lines up with your promises for it is in His name I pray.

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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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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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“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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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). 

001

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.

006

Four little feet sitting all in a row!

003

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!

011

What a view!

014

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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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

100_2374100_2361

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!

IMG_7040 copy_0012

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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kittyWe had some difficulty. . . . keeping our pets out of heaven.

Figaro, a pretty little Beta fish, a birthday gift given to Joyful from a friend died twice. Once when Joyful was away visiting grandparents. We cheated death, though. The fish store had one that looked just like him. Joyful never knew. However, he died one Christmas when we went to visit family for a few days. Figaro had enough food. Sadly, we learned never to turn the heat down below 65 degrees when you have a pet fish.

Cozzette, Copper, Nanna, Figaro, Cleo—all our pets have been named after literary characters. We’ve debated the non-literary name, “Memore” so when the boys ask, “Do you love Memore,” I can say, “Yes.” However, the name never makes it past election day.

We had one cat who kept throwing herself on the driveway when we pulled in. She was an indoor/outdoor cat. She’d rush to the driveway, lay down and stretch, just daring us to not stop. One Sunday, a week after Easter, she flung into her driveway dare, then finally moved when she decided we wouldn’t run over her. Pulling into the garage, we paused, thinking she’d run in like usual.  Apparently she achieved her life long goal of throwing herself under the wheel.

She went to heaven.

However, one Saturday death came to call in a very surreal way.

It was a beautiful, autumn Saturday. We had been searching for Copper since the day before. Our neighbor thought our lassie dog, Copper, had been clipped by a car. We lived out in the country, so we let Copper have the run of the fields behind us. However, anything that drove down our dead-end road became part of Copper’s “herd.” He didn’t want it to leave his “boundaries.” He could run 35 miles an hour.

copperbenYou know how John Wayne was a man’s man? Well, Copper was a boy’s dog. Not only did he keep our yard cleared of snakes, opossums, and unwelcome critters, but he was a great soccer player, too. A constant companion! A bouncing mass of joy that loved nature: the birds, the deer, a butterfly. He just loved!

He taught us humbleness with our neighbors. During his first Christmas, he brought us all our neighbors’ wreaths they had placed on their windows. If he’d just brought two more, we would have had enough for ours! I guess counting wasn’t one of his strengths.

When our children went anywhere, hiking into the woods, visiting a neighbor, he was 4 steps behind them—every time!

Faithful wanted to be a vet he loved him so.

Until that autumn day in Saturday. My husband had left to coach a soccer game. I loaded up the van to take the boys and meet him when I heard this faint cry.

The sun shined through the fiery red, pumpkin orange, and burnt yellow leaves, landing on a carpet of leaves. The floor of the woods was covered in these colors. Copper blended in perfectly. That’s why we’d missed him. He couldn’t move. I couldn’t figure out to move him.

I called the vet’s emergency number. It was a Saturday, so hours were short and time expensive. I was a bundle of stress. Joyful came in, pulling on me, “Mom! Mom! You gotta see this. You gotta see what’s coming out of the woods.”

I put him off. After all, I’d seen every critter in the woods so far—the snakes, oppossums, turkeys, raccoons, flying squirrels, turtles, toads. I needed to handle this crisis.

He just wouldn’t let up, “Mom! Mom!” He was 6 then. I had a baby buckled in the van, another waiting to play a soccer game I was beginning to suspect he might miss, a severely injured pet, and he was wanting me to see some piddly thing outside?

I finished the consult with the vet and took a deep breath. Joyful just wouldn’t give an inch. “Mom! Mom! You gotta see this.”

Finally, I relented. Shaking inside because things didn’t look good for Copper, frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to get him to the van, I stepped outside.

My jaw dropped. Stunned, I lifted the phone, hit redial, calling the vet’s emergency line again,” Hi, I’m the lady who just called with the injured collie. Well, I got an injured owl. What do I do?”

Standing by the open door to the driver’s seat stood a huge owl, mostly black, some white, its feathers all poofed out in disarray. One wing, apparently broken, seemed to be pointing to my driver’s seat, as if to say, “After you! Hurry and take me to the vet, too?”

At that moment, my neighbor’s drove by. I had fought asking them for help. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. They had out-of-town guests. I so didn’t want to be needy.

It was if God sent that owl to break me totally down. Only in the state of total broken-downness would I have asked for help. That’s a message that seared through my soul that day.

My neighbors helped put Copper on a sheet where we tucked him into the back of the van. We popped a tall, round wicker basket over the owl, nestled him next to Joyful. The owl never made a sound until the vet picked up the basket. Then you could hear the very distinct sound of his ivory beak clicking together.

The vet called later that afternoon. The state wildlife department would pay to fix and rehabilitate the owl. Copper wasn’t so lucky. They wanted $1,000 for surgery. They weren’t sure it would work. After much heart-wrenching discussion, my husband made the call to put him down.

copperben2We explained it to the Joyful and Faithful. Faithful wailed. He was nine. He got angry, stomping upstairs in emotional desolation.

Joyful followed, calling out from behind, “Mom and Dad say the vet will put Copper to sleep and then he’ll go to heaven.”

Faithful wailed louder. It was like Joyful was just tearing at his wound. It wasn’t like him to deliberately hurt someone. I called Joyful back. “How can you do that to him? That’s tearing him up.”

Then Joyful started crying. My heart just opened up. Joyful had been mourning. Only he didn’t wail, stomp, and snuffle about. Joyful released his grief through talking.

These two mourners needed to mourn separately, one emotionally pouring out their grief, one logically tackling their grief.

I learned a lot that day—about the differences in the ways people react to crisis, that making the decision to end a life is gut wrenching, and that God wants me to ditch my pride, to not wait until I reach rock bottom to ask for help.

The owl, though, he so puzzles me.

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dogThe boys found a baby turtle one day.  Wild Animal Rule #1 in our house:  If you catch it today, you have to release it tomorrow.  Wild Animal Rule #2:  Rule # 1 doesn’t include snakes.

They made a nest in a critter box, looked up what to feed the 1-2 inch little fella, and watched him.  The next day, they bravely took the turtle outside for release.  You’d thought they’d given birth to the little guy, but, as they say, “they sucked it up and were tough.”

Until they came screaming and crying through the house 5 minutes later, two boys 4 and 7, inconsolable, crying, “He killed it.  He killed it.  He bit his head off.”

dog2You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I sorted out the situation and discovered the most important factor:  Neither boy bit the head off the turtle.  The dog did.

You know when someone says you were the calm in the storm?  Well, that was me.  I looked over the turtle.  Yes, I had to touch it, pick it up, study it.  I looked in the hole where the head should have been, and dog gone, I didn’t see anything.  I couldn’t tell if something had be nipped off. . . or if it had just pulled it head back in real tight when the dog picked it up to . . . eat it?  Play with it?  Like a game of ball except with a turtle?

They were still sobbing, sniffling, moaning.  I stood their, thinking about how to bring order out of the chaos of turtle murder.  The mommy in me so wanted to fix this.  I really didn’t want to explain death then.

I sent the boys upstairs to play.  I kept the poor turtle, put him in his box, hoping that the dog didn’t really bite its head off, hoping beyond hope that the turtle only had the heebeegeebees scared out of it, and once quiet reigned, calm restored, it would pop its head out. 

 dog 3After 30 minutes of kitchen work, I checked the turtle.  Relief oozed.  An imaginary neon sign blinked over my head, “Totally Brilliant Mom:  Smarter than a Second Grader.”

The boys cheered.  They had literally pulled the tiny turtle from the jaws of death—Copper’s drooling jaws.  Death had been cheated; I didn’t’ have to explain that today.  The turtle now had a head. 

A new tactic for release was tried.  The seven year old distracted Copper in the front yard, while the 4 year old successfully released our little turtle with a full head in the woods out back.

I don’t think I’ve felt so brilliant since!

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I have learned that it is not philosophical arguments that persuade about faith, about God. It is our own stories of how God moved in our lives, what He and only He has done for us. It is those stories that change lives, that moves someone to take a chance on relationship with The Father. This is one of my faith stories.

Twelve years ago, I lost a little girl half way through my pregnancy. Her heart stopped beating at 4 ½ months. Because of my history of infertility (I was unable to have children after our first son was born), tests were run to determine the cause. Our little girl was a Trisomy 16 baby. It was amazing she had survived as long as she did. The doctor told us that they usually self-abort early in the pregnancy. Our little girl held on for quite a while.

Needless, to say, our hearts were broken. Our 3 sons so wanted a little sister. We called her Gracie. She’s in heaven now – and one day, I’ll get to hold her and tell her how much I love her.

After we lost Gracie,  the book, Faith Study, by Kenneth Hagan got into my hands. It changed my life. It changed my mothering. It changed the words I spoke.

“…Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he [says] shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he [says]”— Mark 11:23

I started speaking Faith. Speaking the promises of God! Speaking followed by believing behavior that the mountain has been moved, that the problem has been solved.

Every healing in Jesus ministry was followed by an act of faith by the person “healed.” The blind man had to open his eyes, the crippled man, stand, the leper had to go to the church leaders and announce his healing.

Even before I conceived my 4th son, I would say, “Thank you God for this whole healthy child.” It was a battle ground, my mind was, but I spoke my faith. Every time fear would creep in, I would speak my faith—I would stand on the promises found in the bible.

Two weeks before my son was born, on a Monday, one of the minister’s at my church called. He asked how I was doing. I spoke my faith, “I’m doing great.” He had been praying for me, so he called.

Tuesday of that week, I meet with the older women at my church for their weekly coffee. These women were a joy, so generous with my desire to know what it was like to grow old with your spouse. My parents had divorced, and I had so many questions. I wanted appropriate expectations of my marriage. That morning, they prayed for me and my baby. These lovely women surrounded me, laid hands on me, praying. One of the prayers stood out, the prayer that I would have a Spirit-filled delivery. That stuck in my mind. I just couldn’t imagine praise, prayer, and the Holy Spirit in the deliver room. Can you?

Wednesday night, after I delivered my boys to their classes at church, I made my way to our church bookstore. On the way, a lady came from around the corner. She called my name, so happy to see me. It was as though she had known me all my life. She told me she had been praying for me that morning. I had never seen her before, but I felt so hugged.

A lot of times in so many nooks and crannies, you have to be somebody special, somebody who’s somebody, to have people reach out to you. I was amazed at the generosity of this lady. All I could say was, “thank you,” as she turned to go into the sanctuary.

As I walked to the bookstore, the words, “Something’s going to happen,” went through my mind.

Something did happen. At the hospital, the doctor was checking me when the umbilical cord came out in his hand.

“Stat C-section,” he said to the nurse, still in bed with me, trying to keep the baby off the cord. My epidural was wearing off. I was flat on my back in the bed. My husband helped the nurse, pushing the bed to delivery.

The hallways were so cluttered. My KISA (Knight In Shining Armor) tried to ram the bed through the hallway, but it was so cluttered, we couldn’t move. The doctor’s legs kept flinging up until I finally grabbed them, holding them down so we wouldn’t fall off the bed.

All I remember thinking on that ride? I can’t go home with empty arms again.

The doctor’s wife called. He was supposed to be at a funeral. She wanted to talk to him. How unsettling to call and find out your husband cannot come to the phone because he is in bed with a patient (it makes a better joke after the crisis is over).

We finally got through to the delivery room where we waited. . . .waited because the nurse failed to say,,”Stat C-Section” when she paged the anesthetist.”

My husband doesn’t like me to tell this part, but it’s so important to the story. While we’re waiting for the anesthetist, my husband’s leaning over me at the head of the bed—Praying. His tears are falling into my eyes. I just keep saying, “Jesus,” only “Jesus.” Nothing more, because He knew what I needed.

When the anesthetist finally arrived, I asked him to just knock me out. Some of you know that when they knock you out, it’s like you wake up immediately, you’re at the end of the story. I always read the end of a story first!

He couldn’t. He couldn’t knock me out until they started cutting. The drugs couldn’t get the baby. There my husband stood, and the whole ER crew, nobody in sterile clothing, no sterile gloves. My husband, my sensitive, giving husband, told me later that the one thing that bothered him was the nurse crying.

“I don’t have a heart beat,” was the last thing I heard before they knocked me out. It was 16 minutes after the cord prolapsed.

scbwbabycamI woke up to a lot of pain. I didn’t know what to expect. However, I heard my father-in-law joking about my snoring, and I heard little baby sounds.

My son was born healthy and whole. When they went in to find him, he wasn’t where they thought he was. They thought they were holding him off the cord. He was held up high—by the hand of God.

When I asked about the survival rate, the nurses told me that Cord Prolapse babies don’t usually make it and when they do, they are brain damaged. The cord prolapse deliveries before and after me didn’t make it.

When my minister came in to see me, I asked him about what God had put in heart when he prayed. He answered, “About the safety of the baby.”

The prayer of those little ladies? Yeah, it was a Spirit-Filled Delivery!

The lady who said she was praying for me? I believed she was part of the Wednesday morning prayer group. I assumed they had a pregnancy lady prayer list, and I was on it. She wasn’t part of a prayer group. They didn’t have a list. I never found her to thank her. I spent 18 months looking for her to thank her. She doesn’t exist. She was sent by God to let me know He had the situation taken care of.

Brain damage? It’s like he’s been given an extra measure of so many things. His nick-name is, “The Fire and the Power of the Holy Spirit.” He wants to take care of people. He prays for people. When he was 5, He tried evangelizing his younger brother. He has a work ethic that is so totally self-motivated to do his best.

I didn’t go home with empty arms. Speaking Faith—the promises of God—moved my mountain. It can move yours!

 

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