Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belonging to the Christmas?

Christmas shopping...Christmas wrapping...Christmas cards...Christmas family pictures to go in the cards...Christmas family letters to go in the Christmas cards...Christmas cookies...Christmas gift exchanges...Christmas gifts for teachers...Christmas parties...Is anyone else getting buried under Christmas?

The answer? I found it today in adorable little verse I had never seen before. "...And another will write on his hand, 'Belonging to the Lord.'" (Isa 44:5b)

BINGO! That's it!

I got out a pen and wrote it on my hand. "Belonging to the Lord." I don't belong to the tasks of Christmas. I belong to the Lord. (Let me confess here, I did it for the blog picture...not the wonderful spiritual reason you are thinking.)

All throughout the day it was a great reminder. When I reached for the steering wheel to go last minute shopping 'Belonging to the Lord.' When I reached to switch my laundry from the washer to the dryer and grumbling that this was the last thing I wanted to be doing when I was so behind in Christmas...'Belonging to the Lord.' When I reached to take the Chinese Orange Chicken from the lady at Hyvee, who didn't have noodles left, only fried rice as a side dish and inwardly and outwardly complaining about it (while my girls watched and imitated their mother)...'Belonging to the Lord.' When rushing through the traffic surrounding the mall, like buzzards on a dead carcass, and getting annoyed...'Belonging to the Lord." When the cashier tells me the wrong non-sale price on the North Face sweatshirt...'Belonging to the Lord.'

The sad fact is I rarely live like I 'Belong to the Lord.'

I am driven by tasks...whether Christmas ones, family ones or personal ones. I need a Saviour!

...and that's where the Christ of Christmas comes in.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Stinky Christmas?

Of all the places to be born...a stable!

I think of visiting my grandma and grandpa in the hills of Pennsylvania. We called that grandpa 'Pappy Harold.' He and my grandma never had much. Their farm somehow had sustained and raised their 13 children.

They had a barn. I think the only time we went in was when they had a pony named Charlie Brown. We'd make our way carefully through the musty smelling barn to see him, a short bedraggled pony with white stringy bangs in his eyes.

Musty dampness wasn't the only thing we'd smell...pungent horse manure, diesel from the farm equipment, the sweat and toil from a farmer throughout the years.

God chose a stable.


He is a God of the workin' man...a God of the blue-collar worker...a God more interested in reaching into an open, struggling heart than a heart poisoned with self-importance.

My heart. My heart is often stinkin' like Pappy Harold's barn and that stable of long ago.

Doesn't God mind?

Why would the God of the Universe who made the most amazing orange beachball of a sun to rise this morning...choose a stinky stable? Choose a stinky heart?

He goes to the need.

Those with needs will listen. Those with needs will receive. Those with needs will be scoured clean in His presence.

Praise you, Jesus. Only you can clean my stinkin heart. YOU CAME FOR ME! The stable was just the pre-curser for the rest of stink You would experience...only human stink would be far worse than an animals - far more deliberate, calculated and raw.

You came for sinners. I AM SO THANKFUL YOU DID! In your presence I can smell like the freshness of a land bathed in rain.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guest Blogger Barb Winters: Are You Awake?

My car thermometer read 38 degrees as I pulled into the driveway. Two girls came running out. Neither wore a coat, but what caught my eye was the youngest one's bare feet and runny nose. "Where are your shoes?" I asked. "I couldn't find them," she replied.

Several weeks ago I noticed an empty pew two rows behind me. An older couple, out of town for the weekend, typically sits there with their "kids" - children they pick up from various homes every Sunday morning. I didn't even know their names. But seeing that empty pew triggered a thought. There is no reason for those children to miss church when Mr. & Mrs. Evans are gone. I can pick them up just as easily.

The next Sunday I told Mrs. Evans I would gladly transport her "kids" the next time she was out of town. I didn't wait long. Mrs. Evans approached me a few days later. "My husband and I will be at my daughter's Thanksgiving weekend. Were you serious about getting the kids?" "Definitely," I answered.

That's how I ended up sitting in my van waiting for the girl with no shoes to hop in. She found a seat and I handed her a tissue. By this point my van was full. The three older children I picked up first helped these newer ones get buckled as we got acquainted. I learned the youngest one's name was Janelle. I wondered why I hadn't taken the time to know these children before. Could it be I was so wrapped up in my own world that I hadn't been awake to what was around me?

I dropped the children off at the proper Sunday school classes and proceeded to my own. Joy enveloped me. I had poked my head out of my comfortable world and helped others. No, it wasn't a big deal. It cost little. But God used this simple act to remind me I was His vessel to reach a lost world.

After Sunday school, I gathered the children and we walked to the sanctuary. Janelle sat next to me drawing carrots and pink crosses. When I asked about one sketch, she pointed to the chandelier hanging above her head and said, "It's that." She sang her ABC's and asked about the angel in a book she was looking through. I don't know why, but I was surprised by her intelligence. Her questions indicated a depth I didn't think was there. When the rest of the children were dismissed for Children's Church, I put my arm around Janelle.

The title of the sermon flashed on the screen: Are You Awake? As my husband, the pastor, joked that he was not testing our alertness at that moment, Janelle put her fingers in her mouth and leaned into me. A few minutes later, she scooted down, laid her head in my lap, and closed her eyes. As I watched this precious child sleep, I thought about how I would have missed out on this moment had I not been awake-awake to God's presence and aware of my surroundings. An empty pew led to a filled heart.
Read more of Barb's blogs on as Barb explores lies we tell ourselves to justify eating improperly and the truths that dispel those lies. Also see her blog, written with her husband, Don, on adoption at

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Wish

I'm thankful for Corrie Ten Boom. She is one of my favorite heroes of all times...she and Harriet Tubman. Both were extreme followers of Christ. Gotta love that!

I recently read how Corrie once said, "I wish -" but then she stopped. She looked upward, raised a hand to heaven and said, "Father, you do all things well. Thank you!" A friend of hers had never forgotten.

When I read this, I immediately loved it! I read it again. I memorized it. I bookmarked it. Throughout the day, I tested myself to see if my lame long-term memory could actually remember it along with "stop and grab bread, pick up Meredith at 7 and start laundry."

I did! :)

Only a few days later, I was driving to South Bend, Indiana to meet my sisters (all 5 of them) and my mom and dad, to celebrate my dad's 75th birthday.

I was elated. Just the girls and mom and dad fun! I really couldn't remember the last time we'd done something like this. I mean, I knew there were times it happened without me...a ten hour drive to Ohio is a little hard to make for a supper.

But this time, I got to go!

On the way, as I was making my 5 hour trek, the thought occurred to me, here I was drinking McDonald's sweet tea and pounding down Aldi's mixed nuts (the cashews and almonds, first) to stay awake and they were all together in one van telling funny stories and laughing...without me!

The funnest part of our whole time together could be the way there...and I wasn't with them!

A deep sadness settled
like sugar in unsweetened tea.

Then I thought it...

I wish I were in their van-

The Holy Spirit kicked in "You wish?"

Involuntarily, I raised my hand upwards to my precious Father, who knows everything, and said, "Father, you do all things well. Thank you!"

And I even meant it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Loss?

"Winning is fun!" That's Michaela's quote. I agree 100%.

That's why on a Thursday night in Dubuque, Iowa we were left feeling anything but...Matt's Greenville College soccer team had made it to 'the big dance.' They were in the NCAA accomplishment only 32 teams in each division in the country can boast of.

At halftime we were leading 1 to 0. Within 4 minutes of the last half, Loras College scored. Within 8 minutes they scored again. They added a 3rd goal in the last ten minutes of the game.

I felt sick to my stomach watching the last ten minutes of the game.

Matt played with a whole heart the entire game. My mama's heart was 100% proud.

As the final seconds ticked away and the deep chanting voices of the Loras fans filled the stadium "Season's Over" clap-clap-clap-clap-clap, "Season's Over" eyes remained glued to son.

His face hung. He whipped off his headband letting his long hair fall over his face. I searched to see him, his eyes...his slumping shoulders said it all.

Bobby then realized we left the bags of trailmix for Matt in the Durango. He left to go get them.

Inwardly I panicked as I watched Matt and other players slowly cross the field. Oh no, he's going to get here before his dad. What am I going to say? What can I say? His dad is so darn good at knowing how to do these things...what do I-

Matt had reached our side of the field. He swung a leg over the bleacher rail and pulled himself up. He flicked his hair back..then quickly looked down again.

I was speechless. I reached out and pulled him close. Tears filled my eyes.

"I love you, Matt. I'm proud of you," I whispered.

He pulled away, looked up and after a few seconds of silence said quietly, "It just stinks. For Terrance and the rest of the Seniors, it's over. Soccers over. I feel bad for them."

I swallowed hard, to hold back more tears.

Bobby arrived.

I watched him, with relief. I mentally focussed all of my pitiful listening skills on my man. What would he say? How could I learn from his gift of knowing just what to say?

He smiled sympathically at his son. Then he shrugged and said, "You got here. Most teams never do."

Matt nodded.

"You do have trail mix," his dad said with a grin.

"Trail mix will make it better?" Matt said with a twinkle in his eye.

I stood quietly. That's all? Is there no more we can make him feel better? To give clarity? To make it make sense?


Yes, Michaela. Winning is fun...and yes, Matt, losing does stink.

As your mom I feel inept to know what to say, how to help, how to encourage you in your faith during the poopy times of life.

I don't.

I do want to be there. I'm not sure exactly how it makes a difference, but it must. I'm sorry I can't give you more. It stinks that I can't give you more.

But wait...

Maybe 'the more' can only come from another place, another source...and praise His name if it isn't Jesus.

The only One who can take an L and make it a W.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The smell of turkey, a warm kitchen packed with family, laughter, noise and running children. Thanksgiving brings lots of memories. I also quickly think of my mom because it's her favorite holiday. As a kid, (I mean 'child' - my mother hates the term 'kid') I never understood my mom's favorite holiday choice. I mean, who picks thanksgiving as their favorite holiday?

My mother...that's who.

I am majorly tearing up. My mom totally embodies the spirit of thanksgiving. So many of my memories are of my mother happily whistling around the house. She actually whistled hymns. She told me once that her dad whistled tunes and that's something she picked up from him. But she didn't just whistle any tune, her favorite was "How Great Thou Art."

My mom is not a woman who has had it easy. She had 6 children in 8 years. She definitely worked in the home and out. The air hockey and pool table downstairs always looked they they were regurgitating the junior miss section of J.C. Penneys. Did I mention the ever wet basement...running girls around to basketball games and working full time as my father's dispatcher for his trucking company of 100 plus trucks?

If any woman ever had a right to complain or grumble or be overwhelmed it would be my mother...Eunice Hackenberger.

She rarely did. She worked hard. She still does. She chose to look at the blessings in her life...her man, (like that mom?...notice I didn't say your boss :)), her daughters, her God.

My mom is truly amazing. For her thanksgiving is not a holiday, but an attitude, a way of life. Thanks mom!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Bangs! Not a big deal for most people. I am not most people. I have a humongous collic.

It separates my bangs like warm gravy from the fat.

I sat in my hairdresser's chair several weeks ago.

"What do you want?" Chris asked.

After a busy day of teaching children, I felt brain dead. I couldn't think.

"Do you want a highlight or more brown pulled through your hair?"

Once again I stared at Chris with the stare of my daughters when I ask them if they've gotten their chores done.

I began, "I don't feel like deciding. You're the professional. Do what you think."

After saying that, I immediately felt relief which quickly turned to fear.

Chris looked intently at my big forehead, "I say let's do some heavy bangs and trim the rest."

"Bangs? I can't have bangs. I have a collic, remember?" I asked.

"You can't do wispy bangs. You can do heavy bangs," Chris said.

"Wow...I thought I couldn't have bangs."

Chris began adding color through my hair. She rinsed it. Then asked me to go back to my styling seat. As I sat down, I glanced in the mirror.

Fear! Fear! Fear...pulsated through my being.

What if she cuts my bangs and I don't like them? What if I don't know what to do with them? What if they look horrible? I glanced in the mirror at my ever-present, growing larger by the second, forehead. I hate my big forehead! What if I hate my bangs more?

Chris nonchalantly picked up her scissors and brought them to my hair. She looked calm and knowledgeable. Could she not tell I was starting to sweat like I did in Freshman Speech?

She pulled up a small segment of hair. Her scissors opened. It was like the slow motion in a movie before something dramatic happens.

"I'm scared!" I shouted, clutching her hand with the scissors.

Embarrassment spread like icing on a warm cake.

I looked around. Everyone was looking at me. Chris looked intently and questioningly at me.

Chris smiled, holding back what surely must be a full-belly laugh. "It's just hair," she replied calmly.

"No," I countered back. "To you it's just hair. You are good at hair. You know what to do with new hair. I don't. I'm not a hair person."

She smiled reassuringly and with one snip, I had bangs.

She finished cutting my hair. Thirty minutes later, while climbing out of the chair and glancing quickly in the mirror, I still wasn't sure.

When I first met up with my husband that night, it was during prayer meeting. He said nothing. He must not like it, I thought. Well, I'm not sure I like it either, I thought, while continuing my thought conversation with the man, who was either oblivious to my new hair or decidely against it, but unable to tell me.

After church, when he got home, he stared at me. I did not like it! My least favorite thing to talk about is hair. "Your hair looks good," he said casually as he hung up his coat.

Then he walked into the living room and started channel surfing.

That's it! All I got was that? Did he mean it? Was he sensing my insecurity and trying to make me feel better?

I glanced into the living room. He was already engrossed in a cop show.

The next morning I got up a little early. I needed to be sure that on my debut hair day it looked as good as I could do. I didn't wash it for fear it would look better a day-old but done by Chris, rather than fresh, but in the hands of an amateur.

I went to school.

No one noticed! (O.K. nobody except Linda, who was in the beautyshop, too.)

What could I make of it?

Two weeks later I met my beautiful 5 sisters, with (you guessed it) great hair, along with my mom and dad for my dad's 75th birthday. I checked to be sure my hair was as good as I could get. It was fine.

As we exchanged hugs....nobody noticed!

How could these sisters of mine not notice? Growing up they noticed if I had black socks instead of blue with my jeans. They noticed if a new pimple was starting to pop out along my hairline and handed me the consealer. They noticed if I said the word 'mirra' instead of 'mirror.' How could they not notice?

They didn't.

The next day, Carla said, "I noticed your hair looked really cute last night." Several other sisters chimed in agreement.

I smiled. "Oh it's just hair."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dutch Blitz

Have you ever played Dutch Blitz? Last night Michaela challenged me to a game. It's fast paced and demands constant thinking, watching and slapping cards down into a center pile (with one hand, mind you) trying to be quicker than your opponent.

The first time I played Dutch Blitz I loved it. Matt showed me how to play several years ago. Let me say that more truthfully, I hated it because he killed me at it. Yet, I knew I would love it as I played it more and got better.

I have played that game 100 times...I am NO BETTER! I now hate Dutch Blitz. I always lose. No matter how many people play I am always the loser.

Now for those of you that simply play to have fun, you may not get this. Part of the fun of playing a game is in the unpredictability of who will win. Part of the fun of playing a game is the anticipation 'It may be me.'

I have no such anticipation!

Michaela tried to console me the other day. "Mom you should play grandma. You could actually win!"

I made a discovery last night...always losing at Dutch Blitz is not the only reason I do not like it.

Madison joined us after soccer practice. We started the game over...yes, Michaela graciously let me start over instead of continuing on with the 113 to 17 previous score. ("At least you're not in the negatives" she said with a smirk.)

So as I was flipping every third card over to see if I could play any in the center...I heard it! The sound I hate in Dutch Blitz.

Slap, slap, slap-slap-slap...the sound of Madison pelting the center piles with her cards.

I felt anxiety rise up in the pit of my stomach..."the game is passing me - I should be throwing cards in - red 5? - no I just have a 6! - wait...a green one just got put down-my 2? Shoot! Too late!"

If that weren't stressful enough, Michaela shouts "The yellow 7! Mom put down your yellow 7!"

"Yellow 7?" I ask stupidly. "Where's my yellow 7?" "Oh" I grab it and just miss the pile as Madison's yellow 7 glides onto the pile first.

Gosh, writing about this is giving me clarity. This doesn't even sound like a fun game! Why would anyone want to play it? I'm confused and I know (sort of) how the game works.

I hate Dutch Blitz because the sound of others "getting somewhere" brings ridiculous anxiety to me. I feel like I am getting passed by. I am missing my opportunities. I am being left in the dust.

Sometimes I feel like that in life.

I'm already 44. Where am I getting? What am I doing? Am I making my life count?

When I look around and see others zipping through life, getting master's degrees, going on expensive vacations and having it all...I might think, "What am I doing?" O.k., I do think "What am I doing?"

Then I hear it. A very small but comforting voice inside the pit of my stomach. A voice that is nothing like a game of Dutch Blitz...more like a Starbucks Peppermint White Mocha.

It whispers..."Darling, look what you do have. An amazing husband who you are crazy about. (D'ya like that, honey?) Four children who just thinking about them makes you tear up with pride. And Me...the God of the Universe who is doing more in your little peon life than you could ever imagine.

Nothing is passing you by! Drown out those loud slapping sounds with the sound of my voice. I'm here to remind you as often as you need.

I love you! Trust me! We are going somewhere...together. :)

I gotta love that!

Just one question...what ever happened to the card games where everyone takes their turn?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meredith's First Kiss

Meredith came home from school today...with a smile as overflowing as my laundry basket. Of course, the second I walked in she was telling me all the details of her school breakneck speed with no breaths.

Today was different, though.

She began by talking about what she had written. Her teacher, Mrs. Hochgraber, had asked them to think about a story they could write which had lots of emotion.

Meredith smiled demurely and continued..."So I wrote about the time I was helping in the 2's/3's class for church. We helped the rambunctious little kids line up and go into the big gym to play on the bounces. Then we had to help them take off their shoes."

Meredith continued on, "I felt this little tugging on my black gouchos. I looked down and there was little blonde haired, blue eyed Aiden."

He very quietly said, "I don't have anybody to play with."

Meredith bent down and looking into Aiden's gorgeous eyes said, "You can play with me?"

Aiden nodded, grabbing Meredith's hand. She kicked off her flip flops and the two of them jumped into the Noah's Ark Bounce. The whole time, they talked and talked and laughed and fell over.

After a little while, it was time to line up to go back to their classroom. Meredith quickly set out napkins while the teacher scooped out the cheese whales. She sat down between the little ones. She looked up as Aiden squeezed in between her and little Gabriella. She smiled at her new found friend. He beamed back.

After snack it was Movie Time! Everyone lay down on the rug to watch Veggie Tales. Aiden found his way to Meredith. Then it happened!

It happened!

Before Meredith even had a clue, Aiden cupped his chubby, dimpled hand around her neck and gave her a kiss!

"So," Meredith said smiling, "I've decided to title my writing..."My First Kiss!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Irony of Life

Cute picture of Madison and Bobby, eh? Yes, here they are just leaving for their 8 day Wilderness Trip through Canada's Algonquin National Park. They ate breakfast over the fire, portaged through trails, canoed across clear lakes and slept in a tent. It rained every day except one, which happened to be Madison's favorite memory because they actually got to build a fire.

I was excited for this trip. Excited that Madison would have a great bonding time with her dad, just as Matt had when he was 14. Excited that Bobby would have a break from everyday life and get to enjoy a change of pace. Excited that they would get the time to create a memory that would last forever.

O.K. and I must admit I was a little excited for me. Excited for me because we could have pigs-in-a-blanket and breakfast suppers...all of which could be made in 5 minutes or less. Excited for me because I could actually sleep all night with no one on my side of the bed. Excited for me because I could selfishly indulge in going to bed at 9:30 without feeling guilty. Excited for me because of the pure independence I would have.

Reality hit.

I slept about as good as I did when I first brought the twins home from the hospital. Only instead of being awakened by two darling baby girls, I was awakened by one one-hundred pound black lab. Every night, throughout the night, mind you, I listened to the jingle of his metal tag against his collar.

Why was he in my room? Great question! The girls love sleeping with me when dad is gone. Wittle, bitty Hercules can't be by himself at night! He gets lonely.

After three nights of jingling, wise Michaela said, "Mom why don't you take his collar off?"

See why she is so wise?

I did...but then I began to notice his other sounds. Do dogs regurgitate and re-swallow only at night? I have never noticed it before. It was like trying to sleep with someone vomitting in the bathroom next door. IMPOSSIBLE!

Here was my chance for extra sleep...I had planned on it. I had anticipated it. And IT WASN'T HAPPENING!

Yet, here I was. I was independent! If the girls and I wanted to try Best Buffet, as my ESL students had recommended, I could. We did! If we wanted to go to Walmart late at night for a treat, we could. We did! If we wanted to have a quiet evening with the t.v. off, candles lit and quiet music to read by, we could. We
did! (Yeah, Michaela loved that night. :))

Days 1,2 and 3 flew happily by. By day 4, everything changed. On my way to work I felt ready to cry. I missed my Bobby. I missed his laughter. I missed his spontaneous entrances into my life - his phone calls, texts and "I'm home." I missed his teasing eyes. I missed his amazing hugs. I missed HIM!

I missed my Lily, too. I missed her "Come on mom. We gotta go!" in the mornings. I missed her advice on my "Does this outfit work?" I missed her hugs, her gentle spirit and our trips to school, just the two of us.

I missed it!

I missed them!

I missed my family being all together!

Independence, thinking of myself, doing what I feel like, having no one to answer to...

You can have it!

I'll take supervising the kids chores, making decent meals, keeping his laundry done, checking the house for cleanliness before he comes home each night and being there to love on...

Any day!

Why does it have to take being apart to realize how good it is to be together?!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ozzy's Lesson

One of the marvelous parts of my day is getting to teach four 'struggling to read' first graders how to read. Already they are teaching me.

In order to target the most needy children I gave about 15 'at risk' children a battery of tests in order to assess who struggled most.

In the course of his testing, I asked little toe-headed Ozzy, "Can you find a capital letter on this page?"

Ozzy's forehead wrinkled as he studied the page before him. His lips were pursed as he carefully thought.

Then with the most honest, angelic and innocent look on his face, he looked up and said, "I haven't learned that yet."

How precious!

Instead of saying, "I don't know," "Beats me," or "I could care less." He chose to say "I haven't learned that yet."

I thought about that phrase all day. I loved it. Why? I think because it showed no sense of guilt or embarrassment, but rather hope...that someday he would learn it. It showed that not knowing today was o.k.

Little did I know how useful that phrase would be. As I came home from work and pulled into our driveway, I immediately thought 'Wow, our new roof's looking fabulous. The men of our church got alot done in just one day!'

As I walked into the kitchen, my husband immediately asked, "Where did you park?"

Confused by his obvious concern, I flippantly said, "In the driveway, where else?"

I could tell that didn't go over so great.

"You parked where? Did you not realize the men are still roofing?" (I'm sure my look wasn't nearly as innocent as Ozzy's at this point.)

"Lisa, you're going to get a flat tire. There's nails all around the house. Why didn't you park at the church?"

"Nails all around? I didn't know roofs are put on with nails."

Bobby looked at me like I had just crawled out of the movie "Dumb and Dumber."

"Lisa! You've got to be kidding me!"

Then I said it. I said Ozzy's line.

"I haven't learned that yet. I've never roofed or been on a roof with a roofer."

A hush fell over the room. Bobby just shook his head and walked away. Not another word was said.

Now, I'm not advocating that every arguement be solved with Ozzy's little phrase. But wouldn't that be wonderful? Even better than Jack's 5 magic beans...and the treasures they brought.

I'm just saying it's o.k. if you haven't learned that yet.

Isn't that what life's about?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Day of Humility

Have you ever had one of these? Personally, I wouldn't recommend them. It started when I graciously volunteered to take Hercules (our giant black lab) out for his morning potty break.

The worse case scenario happened on our potty-walk. Just up ahead was a lady speed walking with her mini-dog. 'Shoot' I mumbled under my breath. 'Time to turn around.' I started pulling Hercules and noticed 'Oh great! He's doing his business. No pulling allowed.' He finally finished, as the speed walker, kept coming. Frantically I began pulling him back towards home.

I was too late!

He spotted the new dog to sniff and lunged forward. I was not letting go. He literally yanked me off my feet as the speed walker and mini-dog sailed right by us cutting through a neighbor's yard to avoid our chaos. As I struggled to pull my body up off of the sidewalk, while still holding onto the leash and the demon dog, I could only hope I'd never met that neighbor before...and never would.

Later, I challenged the family to a Labor Day bike ride. Madison quickly reminded me that Meredith was not there and her long-legged friend could never ride Meredith's bike from two years ago. Without thinking (surprise, surprise) I said, "I'll ride Meredith's bike if we all go."

Bob grinned, "We're going for a bike ride girls!"

Every person in Quincy, plus all of their out-of-town relatives was at Moorman Park as we rode by...a long line of girls led by dad and caboosed by the clown mother.

It ended when my dear man at 9:00pm said, "Hey, doesn't a Starbucks sound good?"

Yes, I had already make up on, stringy hair air drying and pajamas on. Of course, Marissa waited on me. No, it couldn't have been someone I didn't know. Not today!

On my car ride home I was hangin' with God and asking the obvious, "What was the deal?"

He whispered one word...'humility.'

"Ugh" I groaned. "Humility is so...embarrassing, so demeaning, so 'please tell me no one saw that' opposite of-


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Big L

Ever feel like a loser?

I'm there today...yah, it's been one of those days. It's dreary and rainy outside, work is overwhelming, I'm 'filling in' at my old/new job until they find a replacement and starting a new teaching job in two different elementary schools that I've never taught in, which means being the newbe once again and being the one who has to ask a thousand questions because I don't know, besides I have to make snacks for Madison's first day of school tomorrow, and go meet Meredith and Michaela's teachers at Baldwin tonight, which did I mention I applied at Baldwin and did not get hired, which makes even entering the building akward...and did I mention I feel like a loser?

Oh and did I forget to mention that I just received an email from the Reading Recovery director asking if I was "ready" for the new school year.


Ready?! (This is not a typo. When you feel like a loser normal thinking is even slow.)

I am certainly not ready! If there's one thing a loser is not....that is ready!

I'm not ready for my "substitute for myself" assignment at my old/new job. I am not ready to teach in two new buildings where I am forced to be the newbe once again. I am not ready to teach reading recovery. It's been 3 years and I need to go over my books and notes. I am not ready for Madison's snack. I am not ready to meet the Baldwin teachers. I look a mess today. I am not ready!

I am blogging.


Buying school supplies with the girls today...and we needed 7 boxes of Kleenex! As we loaded up the Walmart cart, I had a flashback. In my minds eye I could still see an extra large blue box of Puffs.

I don't remember how old I was, but I was old enough to carry my books from class to class. I'm guessing around 5th grade. Those were the dark ages, when we didn't even get class lists. We simply bought the same basics every year, from kindergarten through fifth grade. Except, of course, in 4th grade the crayons were replaced by markers.

Anyhow, the night before school my mother handed me this extra large, blue box of Puffs "for school."

I pulled the insert out of the middle, threw it away and that box of Puffs rested on my school books. We didn't even have backpacks, come to think of it. We carried our books in front, with our arms wrapped around them. Except for me. I carried my books, plus my large box of blue Puffs on top, with my arms wrapped around them.

They traveled with me from science to social studies to math to reading, the entire school year. I remember the occasional curious classmate asking, "Why do you have that?" while pointing to my large, blue box of Puffs.

Such a question didn't even deserve an answer, I thought as I gave a look like "duh...why do you think?"

Can you believe I'm even sharing this story?!!

If you thought I was one short of a full deck before, now you know I am!

Yet, I didn't question my mother. She said, "Take this to school." I did! I took it to school exactly as I took my folders, binders and pencil pouch filled with pencils, scissors and markers. The occasional comments of classmates had no effect on me. I simply thought, "What's their issue?"

It never donned on me that not everyone was carrying a box of Puffs around. In fact, not one single soul was carrying a box of Puffs around...only Lisa Hackenberger.

I want my faith to be like that...


causing others to notice and

out in front with my arms wrapped around it!

Friday, August 6, 2010


We have a problem. We have a dog. His name is Hercules. The problem is not so much Hercules, himself. He actually is probably the best dog a family could have. He snuggles on Michaela's bed sweetly each night, unless Matt's home. He is a fine watch dog when Bobby's out of town. He'll bark if someone comes to the door. Actually that is a two-fold benefit, since our doorbell doesn't work. (Thanks to Nate. :)) He doesn't go to the bathroom in the house. When he has to go he jumps about 6 feet in the air, to get our attention. See? Hercules really is a fine dog!

The problem? He humps people. There I said it. Is that too gross or too graphic for a blog?

He does. If Matt's friends are over and we're playing the game Guesstures, where you have to act out a word or phrase...Hercules is beside himself. He rushes the person giving the clues guessed it.

Embarrassing? Yes! Totally! There's something that seems unBiblical about going to your pastor's home and being attacked by a dog that...well, you know.

When my sweet little nephew Levi comes over...he's 6 and loves to run. One guess who comes running over to greet him first?

What should we do? (He's already been neutered...but thanks for the suggestion.)

Yes, I agree. The Bible is a great place to look for solutions, but to my knowledge it doesn't address this sort of thing. (I'll have to ask my husband, just to be sure, though.)

What can we do, really? (Besides be on the look-out, try to prevent it and grabbing Hercules off, if we're a bit late. Ugh!)

The solutions are whole family (minus Bobby and I, on some days) totally love this dog.

That's it! I've figured it out...


"Love covers a multitude of sins."

So it was in the Bible afterall. :) You're good, God! You got it all covered, even _____ing dogs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What a pill!

I have a fungus toe. It is the big toe on my left foot. Doesn't sound like a big deal, except for the fact that my husband is a foot guy. Yes, whenever we play the newlywed game, I know to say that the first thing he noticed about me was my feet.

See the problem? (No, not the problem that the best thing about me is my feet...the other one.)

So being the good wife (I like to surprise him occasionally) I went to the podiatrist. He confirmed it. It was a fungus. He recommended pills for 6 months. Six months of pills for a big toe fungus?

Not only that, I had my blood drawn, because in very rare situations this particular pill could cause liver damage...for a big toe fungus?

Yet, I reassured myself. My husband is a foot-man (among other things). This matters.

I drove to Walmart to pick up my prescription. $4 - now that seems to fit for a big toe fungus, I thought smiling.

I must take it daily. Naturally, I put it by the only other medicine I take daily, my birth control pills. That night I popped out my birth control pill, laid it on the counter, opened my toe fungus medicine bottle and slid out a large white pill.

It was David and Goliath.

I popped David in my mouth and he slid down with a tiny swallow. I reached for Goliath, with my water glass in hand and swallowed. He got stuck! I grabbed another swig and forcefully swallowed. He stayed put! Inwardly, I panicked. I reached for the refrigerator door...No soda? What do I do? I cleared my throat, grabbed another gulp of water and he moved.

I thought...all this for a big toe fungus.

How do the the smallest of things become a big toe fungus?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God Gave Me a Compliment

Having a college age son is an interesting thing. I so anticipated summer with all of the great conversations we'd have about all the little details of his first year of college, you know, those things he didn't shoot me in his 8 word texts. I thought we'd talk about his workdays, his future plans, life in general.

Reality smacked like the bug guts on our windshield after our overnight trip to Lake Rathbun. Yes, I still get the texts...every day at about 5:45. Those ones that every mother dreams of, 'What's for supper? I'm starving. Can it be ready in 5 minutes? I have a softball game at 6:00.'

The other day was different. It was Sunday night and he had just taught the youth group a lesson. After asking what we had to eat and complaining that our only junk food is Casa Mamita brand, he said, "God gave me a compliment."

Chills ran down my spine. Goosebumps spread up my arms. Inwardly, I cautioned myself, "Don't ask a bunch of questions, Lis. Listen. Listen." I smiled that cheesy smile that says, "continue on."

Matt continued, "I asked the kids who remembered what the big idea was from last week. The first person I called on remembered it." He smiled his adorable, Matt Cowman smile and walked out of the room.

I wanted to call out, "Come back here. Let's talk more. Who was it that knew the answer? How did you decide to call on that person? Did your sisters remember the big idea? Has God ever given you a compliment before? What was the big idea? What Bible verses did you use to teach it?"

He was gone.

Left behind was the mother, sitting on the couch, hoping he'd follow my lead and actually sit while he shared his story...small though it was...a 22 word story, to be exact.

O.k., maybe 22 words is too short to even be called a story, more like a comment. Yet, it was, let's see, 3 times longer than his usual college texts.

God gave me a compliment. I scribbled it down in my daytimer so I wouldn't forget it. I loved it immediately, because:
a) Matt said it.
b) It was Matt connecting with God.
c) It was God connecting with Matt.
and perhaps d) It was Matt connecting with Mom.

O.k., so maybe Matt will only rarely talk about something other than food. God is a good other choice. It may be a small overall percentage, somewhat like the whole corn vs. the citric acid on the back of a package of Doritoes, or er the package of Casa Mamita Tortillas, cheese flavored.

Yet it's there.

It's there.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Long Lists

Facebook, as you all know, is very new to me. I'm the pace of my children getting ready for school. I was hooked when I saw my second posting ever. Hey, is that middle column, where friends chime in, called a posting? Well whatever it's called, this one made me smile.

"Parker went to the nursery for the first time today at church. I forgot to mention to them (the nursery workers) that when he is tired you have to smash his face into your armpit, keep putting his pacifier in, between his screams and fighting of sleep, put the blanket against his cheek, (then) rock him and practically beat him on the butt before he will give in and (eventually) go to sleep."

Stephanie, I hope you don't mind my parenthesis. :) (I didn't think you would.) Thanks for letting me share this.

I smiled for many reasons. The first one being, I remember that first baby, and all the instructions that had to accompany him before I would leave. I remember worrying about him after we finally did leave...with my husband dragging me out of the friend's house like our dog, Hercules, dragging me out for a potty break.

The second one being, I know what it's like for the nursery worker. You smile politely, all the while thinking 'I do have four children, who at last check are all living. You may go." Trust me, I'm thinking that in a nice way, of course...yet, still thinking it.

The third one being, I smile because what this mother is thinking and what is in the realm of reality are two different things. I'll explain. The mother envisions me holding her firstborn the entire time, even if he does indeed fall asleep. She pictures me rocking him gently, while repositioning the pacificier if it happens to slip out.

I'm thinking the second I get him to sleep, he's going into the crib so I can get the fussy little baby who's in the swing.

Now we have a wonderful nursery staff at church, but the last time I checked we weren't quite at the 1 to 1 child to adult ratio that a firstborn baby has. Stephanie...I do promise to do my best, though. Parker will be well taken care of. (He is the cutest newborn, ever. :))

Yes, Parker has long directions, in which his mother ensures that we meet his needs and meet them promptly. Those long directions, which are simply the 'putting him to sleep directions' not the 'how he likes to drink his bottle directions' or the 'how he likes to be held directions' are as lengthy as the choice of names in my baby name book. Yet they reveal something very important, not about Parker, but about his mother.

She loves him.

I'm feeling a major "OUCH" coming on..are you? My mind is replaying 'a discussion' I've had with my husband. O.k., who am I was the prequel-arguement. The one we've played so many times, it wore out.

"What?" I ask in my self-controlled, superior, yet slightly snotty, voice. "You're upset because I forgot that one little load of laundry? It's only one load! Did you notice the clean kitchen, the vacuumed livingroom or the nice supper? What's the big deal?"

My actions, my 'doing the lists,' my 'taking care of each detail' reveal what? About who?


How much do I love?

Double Ouch!

How come being attentive to our husbands is so much harder than being attentive to our newborns?

"Because newborns are helpless," you're shouting. Yes, they are. But someday that precious little newborn, your precious little newborn, is going to be somebodies mate. How did you treat him, nurture him, respond to him and love him down to the tiniest of details?

How will you want his mate to respond to him?

How have I responded to my mother-in-law's newborn?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Black River Friends

I am perplexed! Why is it that I have to scrub my eyes with eye makeup remover like I were getting a stain out of my carpet, only to get out of the shower afterwards and have raccoon eyes?

If that weren't disturbing come after using the eye makeup remover again (after I showered, mind you) and reapplying my waterproof mascara and eyeliner for another day, I go to church, get emotional, with one tear forming in my right eye...and I look like a black river is running down my face?

I want some answers here! You may think I'm exaggerating. Those of you who are my friends and family are shaking your heads no. You know exactly what I mean! If that weren't bad enough, on the last week of school my precious 3rd graders made "Memories of 3rd Grade" books. One of the pages said, "This is my teacher." Then there was a blank page for them to draw what I looked guessed it!

One student, who shall remain nameless, came up to me and said, "Mrs. Cowman, what do you think of your picture?" I smiled sweetly, thinking of the other pictures my students had shown me...some drew large sunny smiles on my face, some drew rainbows over me, others drew me in gardens with flowers-not Jared. Oops!

The smirk on his face should have warned me. I looked down and yes, there I was with not one but two rivers of black running down each side of my face.

See? I wasn't exaggerating!

Many of you are asking an obvious question. Why don't you try different eye makeup? Yes...that is a point I've considered. The problem is this, I'm thinking the black river is largely due to my eyeliner. I discovered it three years ago when I was sick and tired of looking like I had just climbed out of bed when it was noon. So I discovered Loreal liquid eyeliner. For a person with eyes as small as peas and lashes the length of an atom, I needed it! People really did comment on me looking great after I started using it.

The problem black rivers. Unfortunately, I am a fairly emotional person, I will tear up daily. The question is then, 'Is the cost of being a black river faced woman occasionally worth it to look better most of the day?'

The answer, 'It depends if my friends will regularly tell me and rub it off.'

Now, I did have a great little friend in that 3rd grade class. Yes, my adorable little Kendall would tell me. I loved that about her. I told her she had the makings of a good friend. :) I gave her that job. Yes, while others organized our classroom library or wiped off transparencies, Kendall told me when my make up smeared. You don't find that on many teachers job charts. Just mine.

So I guess my problem does have a solution...and it may be that I don't have to find a new eyeliner, afterall.

It just comes down to friends.

My make up can work if I have good ones. How about you? After you think carefully about how few friends will tell you about your black rivers, think about are you at being a friend? Are you a Kendall? To who? Who will you love enough to tell the tough stuff? The stuff that will actually help them? The black rivers in their lives?