Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejoice!

Rejoice?  It's a Christmas word, right?  The only time I hear it is at Christmas in a card or in a song. 

Today...God gave me this word.  I pondered it.  I (yes, you'll be surprised by this) asked questions about it.  I dissected it.  Re - to do again.  Joice - it must be a form of joy.

I came up with 'to choose joy again and again.'

I smiled.  I liked it.  I decided it is definitely not a Christmas word.  It is my word.  It is my word for 2012.  "Rejoice always."

Now for the tough part, how do I really do it?

God brought to mind the verse that follows..."Pray without ceasing."

BINGO! 

Then ouch! 

I quickly counter with "Oh, I'm in an attitude of prayer.  I pray all the time as I zip from school to home and home to soccer games and..."  I'm stopped dead.  How is my meaningful in-depth, daily prayer time? Ew.w.w!

So we come back to prayer, Lord.

I must say I'm not surprised.  You took me to that word this summer.  :)  It's back.  It doesn't quite conjure up the pleasant, non-guilty emotions of 'the Christmas word rejoice.'

Yet, it's 'the how' to get to rejoice - choosing joy again and again.

Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing! 

Got it!  :) 

Truth doesn't always slide down as easily as a Starbucks Peppermint White Mocha, yet it's truth just the same.  Thanks for my Christmas Eve gift!  (Like you haven't given me enough, already.  :))


 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Clap-Clap

Matt's Greenville College Soccer Team has a tradition...whenever they're being introduced before a game, they do a simple clap-clap after each name is read.  "Forward #10, Cobi Allen" (clap-clap) "Forward #11 David Dunlop" (clap-clap) "Defensive Mid-field #18, Matt Cowman" (clap-clap).

The other day as we were working on our family Christmas puzzle - Wait a minute!  Let me clarify who the 'we' was - Madison, Bobby and I. When Matt's home and we have his company, our numbers go up...whether it's Grace or Sally (from China) or Keagan (when he's home from the air force.)  Notice I did not say Matt.  Notice I did not say Michaela and Meredith.  (They only like to work on the puzzle when there are 15 or 20 pieces left.) 

Anyhow, as 'we' were working at the beginning of the daunting 1000 piece puzzle, Bobby thought to add in, "Hey, when we find a piece, let's clap-clap.  We need all the encouragement we can get on this tough puzzle.

That night we clap-clapped as we labored to get 11 reindeer pieces put into the lower left side of the puzzle. 

The next morning, Michaela had a soccer game.  As the girls were warming up, Meredith and I heard it.  Clap-clap.  We quickly picked our spot on the bleachers and glanced up, eager to see what had precipitated the clap-clap.  "Two claps for Keagan's headband" Coach Bob called out.  The 12-year-old girls giggled as they in unity clap-clapped.

I smiled.

Clap-Clap.  I kinda liked it.  No!  I really liked it.

"Two claps for Schay's hair," Coach called.

Clap-Clap.

The girls were all smilin' as they began warming up.

Two claps.  I want God's two claps!  What do I do that would make God say, "Two claps for Lisa?"

Hm....

I immediately began racking my brain for something big...What big thing do I do?  Shoot.  Not gettin' much in that department.  I started slinkin' into discouragement.

Then I heard it. 

A whisper...think small. 

Small? 

I looked at Meredith sitting beside me.  The night before I had taken her laundry out and folded it for her, because she had already gone to bed.  Clap-clap.

I looked out at the girls warming up.  Michaela, my goalie.  Lately, we'd been challenging each other to ping pong, because we're pretty evenly matched and we both like to end on top.  I smiled.  Clap-clap.

I looked at Michaela's handsome coach, my man.  I smiled.  He's so cute.  He's an amazing coach.  What a special blessing for her to have her dad as her soccer coach all these years.  So what had I done for him?  Think, think...Ooh, I had hurried to get the coffee going so it'd be ready for him to grab to take to the game. Clap-clap.

I did get some clap-claps!  The best part was they came from the ultimate hands.

And wonder of wonders...He clap-claps the little things.




 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Parenting with my 'A-Game?'


I've been thinking about my waitressing days recently.  I enjoyed those days at Bob Evans in Sandusky, Ohio - taking orders, refilling coffee and bringing out great food.  The paradox of waitressing however, was that often my best service came when I was busy.  Doesn't make sense, does it?

When I was busy, I was constantly on the floor, so I was easily accessible if someone needed ketchup or another Coke.  When I was busy, I was zipping through the main doors to the floor, right by the cooks, so if they called out my order, I'd hear them immediately.  When I was busy, I was pouring everything I had into caring for my five tables.  It took my 'A Game' to stay ahead, so I was giving my 'A Game.'

 When I wasn't busy, it was the opposite.  I'd get into conversations in the back room with other waitresses.  Another waitress might have to come back and mention "Table 5 needs ketchup."  When I wasn't busy, my order might be called up, but I wouldn't hear.  I wasn't zipping by.  When I wasn't busy, I'd get lax.  I didn't need my 'A Game.'

It reminds me of parenting.  When my children were young, I was busy.  It took my 'A Game' to stay ahead of meals for a family of 6.  It took my 'A Game' to keep my toddler daughters happy at countless soccer games...that and a bookbag filled with crayons, coloring books, bagggies of pretzels and sippy cups full of apple juice. It took my 'A Game' to discipline children who hit or disobeyed or got out of their beds at bedtime. 

My children are now mostly junior highers.  Life's not nearly so busy.  They do their own laundry.  They get their own snacks.  They mostly get their chores done. They rarely need diciplining.  They get their homework done.  Parenting doesn't take my 'A Game' anymore.

So what game are my older children getting? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful!



Turkey, pumpkin pie, family, football, all parts of Thanksgiving.  Yeah, sure we all know the history of it...Pilgrims, Indians, religious freedom, surviving when so many didn't, thankfulness to God, yaddy yaddy yadda.

This Thanksgiving I am rejecting the yaddy yaddy yadda!  I am whole-heartedly embracing our amazing holiday, Thankgiving. 

It all started when Matt asked if he could invite his new roommate, Albert, over for Thanksgiving.  Albert is from China.  He has only been in America for weeks.  His twin sister, Sally, came too. 

What a delight! 

Of course, being the inquisitive type, I immediately asked if they had any holidays comparable to our Thanksgiving. 

"No," they replied in impeccable English. 

No Thanksgiving?  No time when your country reflects on it's blessings?  Sure, how many people in America, like the Pilgrims, actually do praise and thank their God on this holiday?  Yet, it is our national heritage! 

We learned so much about the amazing city of Beijing, China.  We learned about the educational system.  We heard how Sally and Albert would get up at 5:00am in order to go to school.  They would not be finished until 10:00pm.  Then they would study until midnight.  And begin again the next morning.

We Americans are wondering why the Chinese are excelling in their educational system? 

We shared turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and they shared their Jasmine tea and stories.  We shared our Christmas puzzle, o.k. more like coersed Sally to help us.  She eagerly skipped in to help us, then flipped a piece over.

A frown crossed her face.  "Where are the numbers?" she asked in her sweet, quiet way.  She went on to explain that only children do puzzles and they are numbered on the back.

Albert and Sally shared stories of their holidays, Chinese New Year,  Spring Festival and Autumn Festival.  I couldn't help but marvel at "No Christmas?"

What would life be like with no Christmas?

On Saturday, the girls drug the Christmas trunks upstairs.  Meredith put on the Christmas music and we hung wreaths, stockings and Christmas pictures.  Then came our favorite box.  As Madison pulled out our nativity scene, I listened as she explained the people and animals they were unwrapping. 

I smiled.  What an amazing perspective having Sally and Albert in our home had given us all.  But more than a perspective,  how thankful we could all be at the beautiful people we were getting to know.  Beautiful people from a beautiful country so far away. 

Tonight I am thankful!  I have a renewed appreciation for living in the land of the free, the home of the brave, AMERICA!  I am thankful for the amazing heritage which is ours.  As a believer, I am rejoicing in that!  I am also rejoicing in my two new friends, Sally and Albert!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Cool Is That?

On Friday, Madison and I were running errands.  As we were singing along with the Christian Station, WGCA, I stopped. 

Glancing at Madison, I said, "It stinks they haven't played 'The Great Awakening' in awhile.  I love that song!"

As we pulled into our driveway, the next song began. 

My ears perked up.  My eyes bulged. 

"Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh - Oh O.  Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh -Oh O.  Oh, O, Oh, O!  Oh, O, Oh, O, Oh, O!"

I gasped, 'The Great Awakening!'

"Can you believe it?" I said incredulously to Madison.

Madison just shook her head. 

"Aren't you amazed?" I prodded.  Wondering why Madison was acting strangely.

Madison shook her head.  "Mo-mom, when that last song was on, I prayed the D.J. would put 'The Great Awakening' on."

"He-He did..."  Madison was beaming.

My thoughts were racing.

Madison prayed about that?!  Madison did that!  Something so small?  Something so unselfish- Something just for me.  God answered!  God did that!  Something so small?  Something just for me...and her!  How antsy with anticipation He must've been as each measure in the former song played on.  How antsy to know that in just a few beats we'd hear His "YES"

...and be stunned.

He cared to answer!

He delighted in answering!

He delighted- in us!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soap

On Saturday we were in Greenville for the SLYAC championship soccer game.  Well, technically we were there for the last 7 minutes of the soccer game.  Our source said it started at 2:00.  As we parked, we immediately noticed the game had begun. 

I quickly checked my watch, 1:52. 

"It must be the JV team," Madison said.

I smiled, "Yah, that's it.  There's no way they'd start early."

As we continued approaching, I noticed a familiar face, Colby.  "Colby's not JV," I said. "This is the varsity game!"

I scanned the score.  "At least we're winning."

The buzzer soon sounded and the Greenville boys jumped into piles like new puppies, cheering and high-fiving.

"I gotta go to the bathroom," I told the girls.  Unfortunately, our only choice was the porta-potties.  I went first and noticed immediately they were out of hand sanitizers.  Why is it that hand sanitizers are absolutely imperative in a porta-potty?  Uh, maybe because it's filthy and stinky in there.

"No hand sanitizers," I said as I exitted.

"Don't worry, mom," Meredith said.  "I have some."  She reached down onto her bookbag and snapped open Bath and Bodies candy apple sanitizer. 

I squirted the fruity scent into my open palm.  As the sweet, girly smell, spread over my hand, I smiled.  That's better!

Then Meredith went in.

When she came out she said, "It does stink that they don't have any hand sanitizer, but at least they had soap."

Soap?

My eyes got big.  Madison started laughing. 

I was afraid to ask, but had to. "Meredith, did you use 'the soap?'

"No.o.o," she said slowly, trying to figure out my question.

I was afraid to ask the next question, but I had to, "Have you ever used---'the soap?'

"I don't think so," Meredith said.

Madison cut in, "Meredith, that's not soap!"

My darling daughter looked confused. 

Between laughs, Madison said, "That's so it doesn't get stinky where the boys pee."

The realization hit Mer's face as her eyes got big and the look of horror crossed her face, while Madison and I were practically rolling in the grass laughing.

Yes, it was a disappointing day.  Things did not go as we expected.   But whenever one of us would mention 'Soap' we'd be rolling again until our sides ached.

I sure do love my Mer!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Disappointment

What?  A Halloween blog starting with disappointment?  Yep. 

There he stood, a little kindergartener, tears pooling in his eyes, as he tried to explain to his teacher that his mom was coming with his zombie costume.  No, he didn't want to line up for the parade.  His costume wasn't here yet.

I watched as his tenderhearted teacher stooped down to look into his eyes, "No, honey.  We can't wait.  Now is the time for the parade.  We have to go."

His lips quivered and he slowly shook his head back and forth, more tears pooling in his eyes, threatening to spill over.

"Why don't you get a drink of water at the drinking fountain?  Then come back in.  You'll feel better."

He quickly exitted.  When he came back in, he did look better.  It had helped....somewhat. 

He quickly lined up in line-order and looked up at me.  Being "an extra" at classroom party time, I can fill in where needed.

I found my need.

I got in line beside him.  As we walked down the school steps and out into the radiant sun, I glanced over at him. 

He looked up at me and began, "Maybe my mom will be here.  Maybe she is watching the parade and has my zombie costume with her." 

I smiled back.  "Maybe."

We walked all the way around the block.  No mom.  No costume. 

Disappointment.

I watched a brave five  year old deal with it. 

Disappointment.

God has watched a "not so brave forty-five year old" deal with it.  I hate disappointment.  Of all the emotions I most hate, disappointment is at the top. 

I get excited by the little things.  I anticipate even the smallest of things...Thursdays lunch with my man at Jimmy Johns, a Starbucks run with my girls, a phone conversation with my son.  I look forward to them.  I plan on them.  I think of them when I get up in the morning. 

Disappointment.  It has flattened me, angered me, pestered me and left me alone to wrestle through my hurt.  Some disappointments are accidents. I'm so sorry.  I just forgot.  Please forgive me.

Some disappointments are unavoidable.  There was just no way out.  I had to help them.

Some disappointments are not accidents.  They are planned, not by the seen but the unseen.  They are planned by a loving God that knows I need a balance of experiences in my life in order to be the best me I can be...and perhaps so I can lovingly cast a glance, give a hug or a heart-felt smile to someone who is now there.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Constipated to God

Yes, it was one of those rare evenings.  My husband was gone.  Two of my daughters were gone.  It was just Michaela and I.  I was worn out.  I had a root canal the day before and was given a prednazone pill for pain and soreness. 

Dr. Wagner warned, "Usually we tell patients to take this in the morning.  It's hard to sleep when it's in your system."

"I'm not worried about that," I said smiling.  "I can sleep anywhere!"

I popped it in my mouth and swallowed it down with a gulp of water. 

I woke up and rubbed my eyes.  Three?  Why am I up at three?  Oh, I'm hungry.  Yeah, I was hungry when I went to bed but thought I should wait until morning.  I must really have been hungry.

I got up and poured a small bowl of Special K Red Berries and ate them.  I did not feel tired in the least.

Then it hit me.  It's that pill! 

Thankfully I was in the middle of a great book, so I indulged.  I was lovin' every minute until I glanced up and it was five. 

I'm gonna be dead for work.  I made myself go back to bed.  After laying there for twenty minutes, I decided to get back up and keep reading.  All day at work I marveled at my energy and stamina.  Woo Hoo!

The next day I was sure it would hit me.  It did.  I made it through school but on the way home I was feelin exhausted. 

Thankfully Bobby had a full evening ahead of him, my girls were going to a cousin's sleepover party and it'd just be me and Michaela (because she had a 6am tournament to leave for in the morning.)

I was so tired I didn't fully think through how awesome my time with Michaela could be.  I put on my pj's and laid on the couch. 

"Come lay by Mama," I told Michaela.  Yes, my Michaela, she is usually about as huggable as a porcupine.  It was worth a try.

She must've been tired, too.  She obliged.  As she stretched out beside me, I started rubbing her back. 

"Mom, what's that?"

Michaela pointed to the art above the couch. 

I smiled tiredly, She knows what that is.  I made it when she was a baby.  I've explained it plenty of times.

Yes, she was pointing to the old window frame that I had whitewashed and put in symbols of each of our names.  For non-creative me, it had actually turned out o.k.

"So mom, my name means "Who is like the Lord."  Matt means "God's gift."  Madison means "God's light."  Meredith means "Virtuous Woman."  Dad means "Ruler."  Your name means...What is that again, Constipated to God?"




Saturday, October 8, 2011

Feet

"I...I broke my foot," Matt stammered to his dad over the phone.

Matt broke his foot!  How many times can a person break his foot?  Is Matt not taking care of himself?  Well, he actually is a pretty careful eater.  Sleep!  That's it!  He always sounds tired when I talk to him.  Clearly he's not getting his rest. 

"I bet he's worn down," I declared emphatically to his dad.  "Matt sounds tired alot.  Could that make him more susceptible to breaking bones?"

Bobby flashed a sad smile, "Probably not so much as playing soccer every day of his life."

"Oh yah...yah right...Is he sure it's broken?"

"He'll go to the doctor on Monday, but he said it popped just like it did the other two times."

He still had a whole month of soccer games left!  These were the ones we'd be able to go to.  Stink! 

As the next couple of days passed I thought of it all the time.  I prayed for Matt.  I fondly remembered his little baby feet...not the thick calloused adult feet he now has.  Memories of Sandy Patti's song "Beautiful Feet, Cutiful Feet, Beautiful, Cutiful Feet!"  I could just see his soft, little piggytoes, and feel them as I kissed those little piggys and sang away.  It seems that song must've always been playin while I was changing his diaper.  I'd immediately finish fastening the diaper and grab those piggytoes.  As Sandi sang "Beautiful Feet" I'd be swaying Matt's precious feet back and forth to the music.  Yes, my son was surely going to have beautiful feet, "the feet of those who bring good news of Jesus to others" I thought as I prayed and sang to my little guy.

Now his beautiful feet are once again broken. 

Just today I got a text from Matt.  I had texted him this morning to say, "I love you Hookey, son of my heart." 

O.K. so Hookey is yes, another crazy nickname of one of my kids.   But wait, this one Matt made up.  Not me!  One time when I was lovin on "my little Mattie" he said, "I'm not Mattie, I'm Hookey."  It stuck.

So back to the story - he texted saying, "My favorite mommy that will always get my kicky feet no matter how much you love me."

As a little duffer he used to sleep in our bed.  He liked to lay across the top of our bed on our pillows, with his sweet little face by his daddy's face and you guessed it...his kicky feet at my head.

Memories of my little boy, Matt, are larger than life.  I can't remember what I cooked for supper the night before but I can remember back twenty years ago to the soft, sweet scent of his baby toes as I kissed them until he giggled while Sandy sang on "Beautiful, Cutiful Feet." 

Matt's foot is broken. 

Again.

God's Plan.

God's Perfect Plan.

The Plan that is Perfectly tailored for Matt to have the most beautiful, cutiful feet ever to share the good news of Jesus...and it's broken.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Feeding Many?

I typically feed 5.  Yep, we usually have supper around 6, unless there is a soccer game, soccer practice, dance practice or meeting at school.  Hm...what we usually have is cheeseburgers, tacos, spaghetti, chicken dish, crockpot dish or main salad dish. Yes, feeding many is what I do.  No, I suppose 5 is not that many, it's more like feeding a handful many times.  Yes...that is what it is.  When Matt's not in college, it's like feeding many and feeding many times.  You just never know who Matt's going to invite over.

The other day someone fed me.  I liked it.  As much as I absolutely love food, I absolutely love words of encouragement even more.  Yes, even more than Pizza Hut's Pan Pizza Supreme or chicken alfredo.  Someone gave me the gift of words.  As she began talking I felt myself leaning in.  I felt like the baby bird with wide open mouth receiving nourishment from the mommy bird.  I gulped in the nourishing words, mentally fixating on them so I could bring them to rememberance at will.  It was almost like saving the last square of chocolate or frosted brownie in a baggie for later.

Words...they are the best!  I knew I liked words when as a third or fourth grader I played school and created my own attendance list to call.  I have never forgotten one of the names on the list - Dee Ereatameme.  Impressed?  Maybe not.  But I remember wanting to play with the long e sound and create a name that did that.  Dee Ereatameme!  Yep, gotta love the long e sound.

Words...I also remember seeing a sign once while on vacation.  It said "Womphoppers."  Now remember, I was young.  Anyhow, I remember saying that word over and over again with my little sister, Jewel, as we thought of all the ways it could be pronounced.  We giggled so hard our stomachs hurt. And just when we thought we had exhausted the humor in that word, one of us would say it again and we'd both burst out laughing once more.

I should have known then that I had a fascination with words, their meanings and the way they sounded as they rolled off my tongue.

The other day I was reminded of that.  Only this time it wasn't the way they rolled off someone's tongue as much as the way they reached down deeply, flooding me with warmth, coziness and light in every part. 

"The lips of the righteous feed many" and that moment I was given a smorgasboard.  Thanks Vicky!



 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

911

My husband says I shouldn't blog on this.  "It's all that's been on the news this week," he said. 

Yet, it just seems right.  Today is a day to remember. 

Where were you on 911? 

I was at home.  I had just driven Matt to school.  I came home and Bobby had the t.v. on.  For the first time I could ever remember I felt afraid living in the United States of America. 

How could that happen here?  The thought was incomprehensible, like reading Greek backwards with the hiccups while on a roller coaster.

I remember feeling gripped by fear for Matt.  He was the only one not home with us.  I remember wanting to get in my van and drive back to Pleasant Elementary to pick him up from Mr. Moore's 5th grade class. He should be home.

Logically, I knew Matt was safe.  He was not in New York City.  He was not in the Twin Towers.  He was in Norwalk.  He was in school.  He was safe.  But I wanted to see him, feel him, know he was safe.

All morning the t.v. was on.  Eventually Bobby went to work at the church.  I was on overload from all the information being repeated over and over with many speculations.  I clicked off the t.v. What else could I do on this day?  What would be soothing?  The library!  I packed up the girls.  Of course, the library!  It's always been one of my favorite places.

That would feel normal.  That would be right.  As we walked down the stairs into the children's room, a large t.v. stood blaring in the center.  Librarians stood, eyes glued to the screen. 

So much for normal.  The library wasn't the only place that wasn't normal.  The first time we went to Cedar Point, we couldn't get in without having my purse and diaper bag searched.  The next time I got on a plane I had to arrive an extra hour early and get clear little bottles with my toiletries in it.  I soon discovered a new system, on t.v. I'd hear what color the level of alert was. 

There was no normal.  It was the new normal...and it was about as comfortable as wearing the outfit your 80-year-old grandma bought you for your birthday. 

Ten years have gone...

The fear is gone.  The changes are no longer noticeable.  The sting of 911 is gone.  Yet annually...we remember.  It's a time to remember we're Americans.    A time to sing "Star Spangled Banner" outloud when everyone else isn't.  It's a time to say that even though much was lost, it wasn't forgotten.  They were not forgotten.  It's a time to say that even though America is not perfect, there's no other place we'd rather live.  We are Americans.  God has blessed us! So thank you servicemen and first responders!  We give thanks.  We remember! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fruit Flies


Michaela and I just discovered a new sport we like.  No, it's not soccer - that's an old sport.  No, it's not wrestling.  No, it's not jogging.  It's more in the line of  hunting.  Sort of-

It started when I let bananas get too old.  I'll make a banana cake tomorrow, I kept telling myself.  Tomorrow never came, but the fruit flies sure did.

So back to our sport.  I made a banana cake and banana nut muffins.  I took the disgusting black banana peels straight to the dumpster.  I then drove to K-Mart to look for help.

Rave - for flying insects!

I didn't even check the price.  No amount could have been too much.

I zipped into the driveway, anxious to tackle the fruit fly dilemna. 

I stormed into the kitchen armed with my Rave.  Spray!  Fall!  Smash with my finger...1!   Spray!  Fall!  Smash with my finger...2!  Spray!  Fall!  Smash with my finger 3!

It didn't take long for Michaela to meander in.  Spray!  Fall!  Smash with my finger...4!

"Hey, that looks like fun.  Let me try that!"

Michaela picked up the Rave can and scanned the kitchen, "There!"  She cried aiming the Rave over the sink.  Spray!  Fall!  Michaela kept spraying on top of the fruit fly which now looked as though he were tunneling up through the snow.

"Smash him" I cried.

"What?"  Michaela asked.

"Smash him with your finger."

Michaela looked at me questioningly.

"This'll do it, won't it?"

"Well yah, but you're gonna use half the bottle on one!  We got lots and only one can.  Now smash with your finger."

Michaela reached into the sink and squashed.  "That was kinda fun."  She scanned until she saw one fly up toward the ceiling.  "Spray" "Shoot, where'd it go?" she asked looking around on the floor.  "I don't think I hit it."  She continued to scan until she was once again successful. 

Fifteen minutes later we were at 27 and running out of fruit flies. 

"I'm gonna get ready for bed," Michaela told me, walking towards the bathroom.  "Mom, mom...in here!  Bring the spray!" she called running back into the kitchen.  Scooping up the spray she ran back to the bathroom.  Scanning above the sink, she spotted and sprayed.  A pool of white foam clung to the mirror.

"Smash it," I called. 

Michaela reached out and smashed it.  "Spray!"  "Fall!"  "Smash with her finger...29."
"This was pretty fun, mom," Michaela said while handing me the Rave.

"Yah, it can be our new sport!"  I said smiling.  "What other sport can you have such a success rate on the first try?" 

I went back out to the kitchen and put the Rave on the counter.  Too soon to put it away.  It needed to be handy just in case-  I yawned and grabbed my glass of ice tea, while heading into the livingroom.  Time to relax.  As I plopped into my recliner and pulled up the foot rest, I raised my tea for a refreshing swig...

floating on top were 3. 

The war wasn't over!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Me...on the Trap Set?

 

   "So I heard you played the drum in highschool," Deb said with a smile.  "Why don't you play for our Ladies Prayer and Worship Night?"

     "I did...but that was 25 years ago.  I-"

     Allison cut in, "Can you just keep the beat?  That's really all we'd need.  It would be better than nothing."

     "Well, yah...I'm sure I can keep the beat...but I never played the trapset.  I'm not that coordinated.  I- Why don't we just let a guy play the drums?"

     "It's a girls event. Nah...nope, it just wouldn't be the same.  Can you do it?"

     "Well, I s'pose, but-"

     "That'll be great.  We'll let you know when we practice."

      I came home from that meeting feeling uneasy. No wonder.  They simply think I'm a little rusty.  That's not it!  I never, ever played the trapset.  I played one thing at a time, whether a snare drum, a cymbal, the bells, whatever...but I only played one thing.   They think I'm being modest.  They think I can do alot more than I can.  Shoot I'm a horrible multi-tasker.  My brain does only one thing at a time.  I know.  I've lived with this brain a long time.  Shoot I can't even cough and walk at the same time.  I have to stop and cross my legs.  But then, that's another issue.

     So Deb called several days later to see if we could practice on Saturday morning.  We did. 

     "Just pretend you're a kid in the water."

     Kid in the water?  Thoughts of being a 6th grader and standing on a diving board for 45 minutes, asking again and again, "how do I come back up after I  jump in?"  Somehow the answer, "you just will" wasn't working for me.  I felt more nervous than ever.

     Deb continued, "Splash around.  Have fun."

     Have fun?  Who was she kidding?  This will be about as fun as the day the doctor pulled my fungus laiden toe-nail off. 

     "Let's start with an easy song.  How about "I'm Counting on God ?"

     "Do we have sheet music," I asked timidly.

     Deb smiled, "No drummers ever asked me that before."

     "I'm not really a drummer.  Trust me.  In highschool every other drummer was irresponsible, did not know what they were supposed to be playing and didn't listen to the band director but boy could they improvise.  Deb, that's not me.  I read the music.  I don't know how to improvise.  Can you tell me what to play?"

     I immediately felt that the little chicken in the Foghorn Leghorn Cartoon.  Deb was being so amazingly patient, but I couldn't help but think that to a natural musician like she was, I must be really irritating.

    "O.k.  just start with the kick and then add the ti.i.i.-ti-ti-ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti?"

     "Um...what do you mean by kick?"

      Deb started tapping her foot, "You know the kick?"

     "The base?" I asked.

      Deb nodded.

      I looked at the array of choices in front of me.  I felt like I was at Best Buffet and I only got to pick two choices.  Um.m.m. I had 1,2,3,4,5 cymbals and 1,2,3,4,5 types of drums. 

      "What exactly am I hitting when I do the "ti.i.i.-ti-ti-ti.i.i.-ti-ti-ti?"

      Deb hesitated,"The hi-hat and the snare."

      I looked at all of the cymbals surrounding me.  I looked at all of the five drums, too. "Is a hi-hat a cymbal?"

    Deb nodded.  Quickly she left her spot and came over to me.  "This one," she said, tapping the first cymbal.

     "Which ti in ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti.i.i.-ti-ti-ti.i.i is the hi hat?
    
     "All of the them.  But you should throw a snare beat in there, too."

      I no doubt had the 'No speaka Espanol" look, because patient Deb, said "Here let me show you."

      I jumped up.  She sat down.  Immediately she ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti.i.i.ed.  She looked like a natural.  Too bad she can't play the drum and the lead guitar part.  As I watched her continue to play, I began thinking, Shoot.  I bet she can play both parts.  Look at her!

     "Got the idea?" she asked.

     I nodded.  It looked easy now.

     Deb jumped back to her spot and started the song.  She looked at me to begin.  I started with my base.  Boom, boom, boom, boom.  I added my ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti.i.i-ti-ti-ti.i.i. for a measure or two.  I knew I needed to add my snare, I did, and my boom, boom got off.  I shook my head.  I glanced up at Deb.

     She smiled.

     I tried again.  I did it....I did it!  I glanced back down at my foot tapping the base, cute toenails I thought.  (It's the first time they'd been painted in 3 months.)  Oops, I lost my beat. 

     I glanced back to my foot and got back on beat. 

     Well, practice pretty much went like that x 90 minutes. 

     "It must feel great for you to be back on the drums?" Deb asked as we were turning the church lights off.

     I smiled.  "Did it look like I felt great?"  Actually I felt more like I do when I come home from work and find dog vomit on the living room carpet. 

     When I told my husband I had to be ready to play for Thursday's Praise and Prayer Service, his eyes grew big.  "You on the trap set - for this Thursday?"

     "You better practice every day."

     I nodded, getting that sick feeling again.  The next evening at 8:00, I asked my girls if one of them could go to the church with me to practice. 

     "What do you need us to do?" Madison asked.

     "Sing the song so I know where I'm at.  I can't sing and play with two hands and one foot at the same time."

     "Oh, o.k., I'll go," she said. 

     I turned on Deb's taped background music she had made for me to practice with.  Madison started singing.  I was doing mostly o.k., until I had to switch from the snare to the tom-toms and lost a few beats.  I got back on beat and-

     "Hey, can I try it?" Madison asked.

     "Seriously?" I asked.

     "Yah, that looks kind of fun."

     Hope filled my heart as I slid out of the seat and Madison immediately started banging around.  She looked like a typical irresponsible drummer, just beatin' around and trying out all the different options.  Yes!  Could it be?  Was this the 'splashin' around in the water' that Deb was talking about?  The thing that structured, do one-thing-at-a-time me, could not even attempt to do?
 
     You can guess the rest of the story.  'I'll do it, mom," Madison said nonchalantly. 

Jehovah Jireh...God provides!  I was willing but I was certainly not the best man for the job. 

     "Wait," Madison said, "when is this thing?"

     I held my breath, "Thursday night at 7.  Why?" 

     "Phew!  We were supposed to have soccer practice then, but coach changed practice to 4:00.

     Jehovah Jireh - God did provide tonight.  And no one is happier than I am!  No doubt we will have many ladies praising and worshiping God on Thursday night, but I'm guessing no one will be praising and worshiping more than me!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camping

 

   "So why didn't you plan a campin' trip with me?  Huh?"  I asked Matt, with  eyebrows raised.

     "You'd wanna go?"

     "Of course!"

     He looked at me like I had just said "Let's scrub all the toilets in the church for fun."

     "No really, I would," I said.

     "Well o.k.  Let's go then!" Matt said smiling.

     After a quick check of our schedules (he's only home for two weeks) it was clear we didn't have much open space. We settled for Tuesday, leaving after the Junior High's Registration (at 7am) and returning on Wednesday (at 11:45) for Matt's dentist appointment.

     Yes, not exactly a long camping trip.  Yet in some ways it might be a perfect first primitive camping experience for me.

     Then we ran into my brother-in-law, Shane, at the registration.  "Do you know how hot it's supposed to be today?" he asked. 

    "Yes, very!" I said, "but this is the only time we can go."

     "Seriously," he said.  "It's supposed to be 118 with the heat index.  That's gonna be miserable."

     Shane got me a little worried.  Should I cancel?  But there was no way to reschedule!  It was today or not at all.  But I hate sweating, I hate bugs, and this primitive camping trip would probably be full of both of them.

     Matt and I went.  We pulled into Pere Marquette State Park in quaint little Grafton, IL.  The ride down along the river was gorgeous.  We had the windows down and the praise music on.  This was the life.

     We quickly picked our camping spot, an adorable shady place alongside of a gorgeous um, oak, I mean elm, er gorgeous deciduous tree.  We quickly set up our tent.  It only took five minutes but in that short time I felt a continuous stream of sweat running between my shoulder blades and cling to the layer of fat around the back of my waist.

     I gotta get a sweat rag, I decided.  I quickly grabbed a t-shirt from my bag and wiped my forehead, back and belly with it.  Gross!

     "Ready to hike?" Matt asked.

     "Absolutely," I said. 

     Matt pulled out the map with all of the trails marked.  "Let's do the green trail," he said eyeing the map and leading the way.

     Thankfully I had grabbed my sweat rag and Matt had slipped it in his backpack along with three water canteens and granola bars.  I am disgusting. I looked down at my shorts, I literally had sweat lines on my shorts and tank top.  Now don't get me wrong, the lines did not mark the little area the sweat ran, the lines marked the miniscule area no sweat ran.

     As we walked around this little watering hole thing, I said, "Hey, why don't we jump in?"
     Matt looked at me like he used to when he was 8 and I said, "Time to take a bath."

     I laughed like I had only been kidding, but I really wanted to.  I figured clean water dripping down had to be better than sweaty water dripping down. 

     It soon became apparent that this was a difficult trail.  I don't even know if I'd call it a trail.  It was more like a training ground for Mount Everest.

     Matt, the leader, kept turning around, "You o.k. mom?"

     "A' course" I whispered hoarsely.

     "You need water?" he asked

     Do I need water?  Do I need water?  I've only sweatted one full gallon of water  and if I took off any of my clothes I could wring out another, but do I need water?

     "No, I can wait till we get to the top.  I think.  Is it almost here?"

     Matt looked at me a little worried like. 

     It reminded me of the time we took my grandparents to Disney and the look on our faces as we yelled, "It's here.  The tram's here.  Are you comin?'  And then the disappointment as my slow grandparents came shufflin' along just as the tram pulled away.

    "Matt, are you worrying about me?  I'm fine."

     "Then why are you breathing like a seal?  Here grab some more water," he said handing me a canteen.

     By the time Matt and I hiked the green trail and back to our campsite several hours had past.  We got our supplies out of the jeep and set up camp.  Just for the fun I turned on the jeep and checked the temp...104 degrees!

     No, I did not turn on the air and stay in the jeep, I was a primitive camper.  We collected our firewood for the night.  Matt played his backpack guitar.  We read. 

     Matt decided it was time to make our supper.  We had mac n cheese and tuna on top.  Then we built the fire.

     "Do we really need a fire?" I asked.  A stinkin' hot fire was the last thing I wanted to feel after a stinkin' hot day.

     "Oh yes, it'll help keep the bugs away," Matt said as he carefully positioned the twigs and newspaper.

     We decided to slide our tent a little closer because we could tell the bugs were coming out.  Sweat droplets formed on the sweat streams as I climbed into our tent.  Don't complain.  Don't complain, I told myself.  Matt has not complained once. 

     Well o.k., he did once. "Mom you are not hooking your camera on your belt loop.  That looks rediculous!"

     "Look at me," I said.  "Ya think a small camera'll make any difference?"  But I took it off anyhow.   Why spoil our adventure? 

     Matt climbed in and we quickly zipped up the tent.  As we lay in our little 2-man tent looking up we saw them.  No, not stars!  Tiny, buzzing mosquitoes gathering into the little peak in the middle.

     "Matt, I can't take those!  It's been a long day.  I'm hot.  I'm stinkin.  I'm not gettin' eatin' alive tonight.  I grabbed the flashlight.  I shined it towards the clump.

     "There!  Get 'em!"   I shouted, aiming the light from side to side.

     Matt half-heartedly flapped a hand against the tent top, scattering them, and killing none.

     "Matt, I'm serious.  I'm not going to sleep until we kill every mosquito.  There!  Use both hands.  YES!  Keep going!  There!  Over there!"

    After twenty minutes Matt decided he'd be the flashlight holder and I could be the mosquito crusher.  Ten minutes later we were dripping in sweat and there were still more mosquitoes.  Matt dropped the flashlight and grabbed the Off Spray.  Holding the nozzle up, he sprayed up into the peak of the tent.  Little particles of smelly, fumey Off came wafting down all over us.  Air...

    Coughing, I lunged for the door, unzippered it just enough to squeeze my head out and inhaled...hot, flamey, ashey, fire.

     I felt like crying.  I could take hot.  I could take stinky.  I could take sweaty.  I could take buggy.  But did I have to take NO AIR?!

     Recoiling from the heat, I pulled my sweaty, hot, disheveled, head back in, while quickly rezippering.

      "What were you expecting...an ocean breeze?" Matt asked with a smirk.

     I started laughing.  He smiled. 

     "I'm actually not sweating right now," he said in disbelief.

     I waited a second, "Well I am."

* Today Matt and his dad left for their 3-day camping trip.  It is 86 degrees.  I got a text that said, "We are in Kaintuck Hollow at Natural Bridge."  I'm really happy for them.  :)    



Monday, August 1, 2011

Go Cards!

On Tuesday we went to a Cardinal Baseball Game against the Houston Astros.  Only Meredith and Madison were with us.  (Matt was leading On-Goal soccer camps and Michaela was at church camp.)  It's amazing how much quieter our jeep is when we only have those two.

Anyhow as we beelined through the crowd to find our seats, we exhaled as we discovered that just as Bobby had planned, our seats were in the shade.  Woo Hoo!  That in itself was enough to make me want to do 2 front handsprings, 1 cartwheel and 2 roundoffs.  Since I can't do any of those, I simply sat down, smiled at my man and said "Great seats!"

I must admit as I looked around, I thought nine innings.  That's alot of time to watch baseball.  No offense baseball players, but as one who has watched more soccer than any other sport, I'm used to watching continuous play.  (I mean, baseball's like watching as much commercial time as show time.)

Anyhow inning one began.  No one was in front of me so I propped my feet up on the seat ahead of me.  It was perfect. As Madison and I decided, although we weren't particularly hot, the back of our legs kept sweating because (we reasoned) those red plastic seats must draw out sweat.  So once my feet were up on the seat ahead of me, air could circulate, and those nasty seats wouldn't affect me.

Just as John Jay was getting ready to bat, a couple appeared in front of us.  They smiled at the girls in their row and said "We'll just sit in these two end seats if you don't mind.  Then we won't have to go through your row."

"That's fine," the girl nearest the end replied.

I looked at Madison as I quickly pulled my feet off the seat ahead of me and placed my legs back on the sweaty red seat. 

"Too bad they didn't ask us..." Madison whispered.

I nodded.

As John Jay hit a great single into a hole in left field, the man turned around.

"Hey, this is our first time.  We've been wanting to come to Busch Stadium for a while.  It's nice here."

"Where are you from?" Bobby asked.

"Arlington, Texas," he said.

"Ew...are you rooting for the Astro's?" I asked, being the die-hard Card fan that I am. :)

"Not really," he said.  "We're big Texas Ranger fans."

At this point his adorable wife turned around.  Looking at my girls she asked, "So are you big baseball fans?"

Bobby and I smiled.  Just before they sat down, he caught Meredith looking out into the field instead of at the batter getting ready to hit.

"Over there, Meredith," Bobby had said, leaning down to catch her gaze and directing her where to look.

"Uh, not really," Meredith said.

I glanced back up at the sign.  Top of the 2nd?  Wow...the game was actually moving along.

As the wife continued talking to my girls, I noticed the man was talking to Bobby about his profession.

"Yah, we make and market fasteners," he was saying.

"Fasteners?" Bobby questioned.

"Yep, any type," he replied.  "Fasteners are on everything, whether its a screw and bolt...why look at these chairs they have a hinge-like fastener."

As I looked at my plastic red chair, the sweat seemed to ooze out even more, sealing my legs to them like the man's hard hat to the wooden beam on the old super-glue commercial.

I looked back at the man, who was now explaining that their main customers where commercial.  That was a little boring, so I tuned back into his wife...

"So if you could have Christmas in July, what would you wish for?" she was asking Madison.

"Well, actually my birthday's in a week.  So I'm already kinda plannin' on getting this, but it's to redo my bedroom."

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"Well, I want to paint it....probably like a peach color.  I'm not sure about my trim, maybe I'll go with a shade of green."

I glanced back to Bobby and his new friend.  Bobby was now talking about being a pastor, soccer coach, auto racer, etc.

I marvelled.  Who was this couple?  I glanced back to the scoreboard.  In only two and a half innings they had become friends of the family. 

Inning four, I watched the wife strike up a conversation with the young 20 somethings sitting to her right.  Inning five, they were coaxing the 3-year-old in front of them to do the wave with the rest of the stadium.  Inning six, they were talking to the fifteen-year-old boy in front of them, about his favorite sports.

I quickly decided....I liked them! 

I discovered that the fastener business must be in their blood.  They sell fasteners.  They are fasteners.  They have a way of taking whereever they are and whoever they're with and connecting to them.

I liked them even more when we finally exchanged names,as they were leaving.  I glanced up at the scoreboard, Already the top of the 9th?

Yes, "We're Becky and Tom", they said as they reached over the back of their seats and shook each of our hands. 


How cute is that?  Our friends, the fasteners!  The Card game wouldn't have been the same without them!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free!

Free! 

What a great word.  Ya just got to love the long e vowel sound.  It sounds so deliberate, decisive yet carefree. See? 

Free conjures up happy memories of free space in BINGO, a smile maker for kids at garage sales, the sight of a helium balloon taking off into the sky.  Free...I like it.

Yet, there is something I may actually like better.  Better than free?  What could it be?  A bargain!  I know bargains are best because I'll brag about them more.  Anyone who compliments the bargain item will get a monologue complete with all the details of price and store name. 

I know.  I've even done it at Aldi's, mind you.  Yes, as pitiful as it sounds, once they had bread marked down to something like 25 cents. I flipped open my phone while standing in line and sent a mass text to my friends letting them know.

The new top on clearance for $3 at Old Navy, anyone who compliments it will for sure get an earful about the bargain and where they can find it.

I don't know about you, but I don't really do that with free stuff.  Is it because usually free stuff is the stuff you don't necessarily love, like a ratty one eyed teddy in a garage sale bin, or some tops that no longer fit your sister, or the free space that everybody got in BINGO?

What if you got something you absolutely adored for free?  Would you talk about that?  What thing would I love to get right now?  A motorcycle!  That's it!  What if I got a free motorcycle today...one that runs and is an adorable shade of baby blue?  Would I decide that free was better than a bargain? 

But what if I found it for $500 and bargained the guy down to $100.  Would I like it better?

Doesn't make sense, but I would!  Everytime I'd ride it I'd smile to myself and think that was pretty amazing that I got this for a hundred bucks. I'd smile to myself, think good thoughts about myself and have a great day.

Free, if it really is something I love would make me think good thoughts about the giver.  How sweet!  Why'd they give me that?  What good thing had I done for them?  Would they want something in return?  Oh no!  Do I have to give them something in return?  Are they expecting it?  Will it feel weird if I don't give them something back?  Will I have to avoid them if I don't have any money to give them something back? 

Although my initial thoughts would be positive about the giver, it wouldn't take long for those thoughts to go back to me.  Only instead of thinking good thoughts about myself, I'd be thinking worry-filled thoughts about what I needed to do.

Bargains must indeed be better than free.  Bargains keep me as the subject of the sentence.  Bargains keep me as the protagonist in the story.  Bargains keep me thinking good thoughts about my favorite person...Me!

Hey...maybe that's my favorite word instead.

Me!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

UGH?

Ugh...that was my initial thought when Pastor Jeff asked me to chaperone our youth group.  They were leading a Vacation Bible School in Pittsfield and staying in a hunting lodge down there.

I had been mentally planning all that I was going to do when my girls were gone.  I knew I could get lots done...but not anymore.

I drove down on Tuesday night.  What would I do all week?, I wondered.  I really didn't have "a job."  I counted the number of days.  I basically just had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night.  Three days should go fast, I thought.

When I got to the Lodge, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was beautiful.  It had a gorgeous lake.  And most importantly of all, it had air conditioning!

I was greeted by Meredith.  She showed me around.  We walked around the lake to the dock where Michaela was busy swimming and playing games.  Madison was playing soccer on the side lawn.  Cool, I thought.

That night, Pastor Jeff had a "Praise and Worship" time.  I sat in awe as each kid prayed.  I rejoiced as hand after hand raised with praises to God.  "I'm thankful God kept us safe through the tornado warning."  I'm just glad God cooled everything down."  "I'm glad we're all getting along."  "I still can't believe God brought us 49 kids!"

As I lay down that night, sharing a room with Deb Casula, the ultimate teen chaperone, I had a hard time sleeping.  That's not normal for me!  We were so busy sharing stories of what God had done in our lives.  That night we had our own praise and worship service.  As I fell asleep I wondered, why had I wanted these days to pass?

The next morning, we arrived at Pittsfield First Baptist Church.  The first VBSers arrived.  A stocky older boy and cute little sister, sheepishly got out of their car and shyly headed to our welcome tent.

I hurried over. 

"Hi.  I'm Ms. Lisa."

The young man shoved his hands into his jean pockets.  "I...I'm Levi."

"He's my big brother.  I'm Chloe."  The little sister said confidently.

Soon we were leading VBSers into the church for songtime.  I noticed Levi chose the very back of the auditorium.  While everyone else was singing, doing the motions and hopping around, Levi stood awkwardly. 

I hated that no one was sitting on the other side of him.  I quickly made my way beside him.  After song time, Levi headed to his first station.  I walked beside him. 

"You ever had sushi?"  He asked.

"I have," I replied in surpise.

"I like it.  Do you?" Levi asked.

"I do!"

"I really like cooking," Levi said with a smile.

"Oh yeah?  What do you cook?"  I asked.

"Well you know those dinner rolls?" he asked.

I nodded.

"You take one of those and cut it in half.  Now don't use a butter knife.  Use a knife with jagged edges.  Then butter both sides real good."

I smiled.

"Keep the roll open and put both sides down in a frying pan.  Brown it.  Then take it out and fry an egg in the pan.  Put lots of salt and pepper on it.  Then fry 2 slices of baloney.  Then put it all in the roll.  That's all."

"Wow, that does sound good!" I told Levi.

He smiled.
I had made a friend.

I found myself thinking about Levi after VBS was over.  He was precious!  Here he was an eleven year old getting ready to move into a difficult stage of life.  He needed to know Jesus to navigate through those tough years.  I prayed for him. 

That night, Kassie (one of our youth) and I talked about her Bible lesson. 

"How about we add in an invitation" I asked her.  "That way if God's working we'll know and can give kids the opportunity to trust in Christ."

Kassie liked the idea.

As the invitation was given.

You guessed it! Levi and 4 other kids received the gift of salvation.  I was amazed. God had worked in these young hearts, revealing Himself.

How could I have been so hesitant and negative about giving my free time to join the youth group? 

On Sunday morning, many of our youth went back to Pittsfield First Baptist to enjoy a "Celebration of VBS" church service led by Pastor Mike.  Unfortunately I couldn't go.

After church, I anxiously awaited my girls coming home.  How had it gone?  Did many of our VBSers come back?

My girls eventually arrived. 

"Mom," Madison said excitedly, "Levi and his little sister were there!  Levi asked where you were.  He wanted me to give you this."

I reached out and took a piece of folded up white paper.  Inside Levi had drawn a gnome.  In the corner, he wrote:  To Mrs. Lisa, a good friend of mine and god.  Drawn by Levi.  7/14/11

What a blessing I had been so close to missing!

God replaced my selfishness with praise.  

God replaced my hesitancy with anticipation.

God replaced my ugh with a wow!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Kind of Person He is

We had an amazing week in Branson with my mom, dad and sisters the other week.  Yes, we were in Branson because 'The Studebaker Meet' was in nearby Springfield.  For those of you that don't know, my dad loves those old cars.  Growing up we always had our annual summer trip to wherever the National Studebaker Meet was.  We've been to Seattle, Boston, South Bend, Lancaster, Grand Rapids...everywhere!

So what a treat to get a 'blast from the past' and have my children get to enjoy 'The Studebaker Meet.'  In typical Hackenberger fashion, my family (who all lives in Ohio) drove up together in my dad's bus. 

On Thursday we headed to 'The Studebaker Meet.'  It was noon when we got there and we were all starved.  Not many of the food stands were open, but we did notice a Chinese stand.  My girls and I quickly ordered our favorites, while my sister, Eve, and her kids decided what they wanted.  As we waited for our food, the lady took their order. 

As our food came out, Eve said, "Go ahead and eat.  Don't wait for us.  Your food will get cold."

Meredith stood there, holding her orange chicken and bottle of Pepsi.  "We'll wait.  That's the kind of people we are."

I looked at Meredith, thinking, "What?  Speak for yourself.  I'm starving.  This place is slow!  Our food will get cold!"

Fortunately, Eve repeated.  "Go eat!  We'll join you in a minute."

I didn't argue.  She's my older sister.

As we walked to find seating inside the swap meat, with air conditioning, I thought of Mer's words..."That's the kind of people we are."  

It sounded so- so noble...so not like us.

A few days have past.  We're back home.  I'm enjoying the summer.  I am loving getting to walk every morning!  My favorite part is that I'm all by myself and I can just pray away for the 40-60 minutes.

For some reason, this week particularly I'm noticing the difference.

No, not the difference in my weight.  Let's not talk about that.  (O.k. lets!  Yesterday I ate a grapefruit and oatmeal for a snack, at two different times, and this morning I gained 1/2 a pound.  Anyone who eats a grapefruit and oatmeal should be LOSING weight.)

Back to 'the difference.'  Actually the difference is even better than a weight loss, it is the prayer difference.  This week Matt's been in Ohio working for my dad.  Daily I have prayed for him.  Sometimes going back to where you used to live can be disappointing.  Friends move on or aren't there.  The feeling of it not being the same can leave you feeling displaced.  I prayed for God's leading and that he'd have a great time!

Thursday night he called. 

"It's great being here," he said.  "I can tell that God is bumping me into people."  He went on to tell me of a friend's dad he saw while jogging.  "He even hugged me when I was sweaty," he said.  "He invited me over for supper and I got to catch up with the whole family."

From 'precious-beyond-words' neighbors, to friends and family, Matt's having a great time!

Circumstance? 

Not a chance!  That's just the kind of 'person' God is.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What would you wish for?

Do you you remember these as a kid?  We used to pick them, close our eyes, think of the one thing we'd want most in our whole lives, then hold them up to our face and blow.  As we watched all the little white puffs dance in the wind, an excitement would come over us.  What if our wish actually came true? 

Yesterday I was a taking a walk.  Having summers off is a wonderful gift!  I so wish every person got to have summers off!  I have time to walk or bike daily.  I'm loving it! 

Anyways as I was walking by a cornfield a little puff of white appeared...just a few steps ahead of me.  I lunged for it.

Yes!  Caught it!

I giggled.

I held it up to my face, closed my eyes and wished, "May every person know you, sweet Jesus!"

I blew and watched as all the little white puffs danced in the wind.  An excitement filled me as I thought what if every single person living today knew Jesus.  No, I don't mean 'know of Jesus' I mean really know Jesus, talk to Him like a best friend, get lost in the love of their lives 'know Jesus.'

Instead of being consumed with worry because they were recently cut from their job, they'd have peace...Jesus knows, He'd work it all out. 

Instead of being grouchy because they had snapped at their husband or kids that day, they'd apologize and feel the incredible grace of being forgiven by their most important people and the Savior who loves them, just as they are.

Instead of being overwhelmed by a to do list that is longer than a 24 hour day, they'd ask God to help them sort out what needs to happen and what can wait.  Then when they accomplished the "need to's" they'd smile.  They'd know they'd done 'just fine.'

Instead of getting stuck in the quicksand of negative thinking, How'd I forget to get my husband's laundry done? How'd I forget to get Madison to her orthodontist appointment?  How'd I forget to send Matt his check? What is my problem? They would have the power to substitute God's truth and think of that instead.  Jesus loves me, even when I mess up.  He calls me 'His bride.'  He knows my name, my every thought, my secret dreams and the things that drive me crazy about myself.  He knows me...and He adores me.  Just like the t-shirt Meredith bought the other day says, "I may not be perfect but Jesus thinks I'm to die for."

Instead of getting lost in the frenzy of busyness, going from thing to thing, they'd learn to live each day to the fullest, yes, still having to get some things done, yet valuing their relationships and committing to build there and apply generous amounts of time there, too.

I no longer wish for a swimming pool or a pony as I once did.  No, I'm 45 and I may be a little wiser - maybe.  :)  But this wish can change a life.  I know.  It has changed mine!

P.S. Have questions about "how to?"  Call me.  It's my favorite thing in the world to talk about!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day


My Dad!  How I love him!  We share so many traits. 

My mom always told me how after having 3 girls, I was born.  She gasped.  Could it be?  She stared at me...I was a perfect miniature of my dad.  Yes!

Then the doctor proclaimed, "It's a girl." 

No...how could it be?  I looked just like him.  She checked just to be sure.  Yep. The doctor was right.  

Then she cried.

Why?  I'm not for sure.  Was she really wanting a boy?  Did I look so much like a boy she was worried?  I don't know.  I'm afraid to ask.

So yes, I share my dad's nose, his grin, his short eyelashes, his determination, his optimism, his ability to dream, his hard work, his ability to teach, his love for his family. 

I didn't just have a father, though. I had a daddy.  We would beg my dad to play "throw us out the window."  He'd scoop us up and in a spinning motion pretend to, you guessed it, throw us out the window.  With each swoop toward the window, he would count...1, 2...on 3 he spun us around in a big circle while saying "whee."

He also spent time with us.  He often came up to the house to ask for volunteers to check oil with him.  My sister, Carla, and I would carry oil cans back and forth between the trucks and refilling them in the garage.  I remember him unlatching the side of the hoods of his R-Model Mack trucks and telling us to see if we could pull it down by ourselves.  Yes, of course, my strong, younger sister, Carla could.  I remember struggling with my hood and watching as my dad pushed just a little so I could, too.

My Dad!

He never once got mad when in my 18th year, I had not one or two, but three car accidents!  But it might explain why the very next year as a freshman in college I got a plane ticket to get me home every holiday.

My Dad!

When I didn't get a teaching job the year after I graduated, it was my dad who said, "It's o.k.  You'll get one next year."  It was my dad who said, after my husband graduated and had no pastoral opportunities, "It's o.k.  Come to Ohio and work for me.  That'll give you time until the right job comes along."  It was my dad who said, when he went to a BMX race with Matt and I and Matt was disrespectful, and I felt like the worst mom ever, "This is a tough age.  He'll be o.k."

My Dad!

My dad's always had a way to ease the tough times.  My dad's always had a way of giving me hope that things would be o.k.  And he's always been right...oh er, except for the teaching job the next year.  :)

I never doubted that my dad believed in me.  I never doubted that my dad saw me as "worth his time."  I never doubted that my dad loved me.

So much of me is him.  That's the best gift ever.

My Dad!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crazy Song!


Last night as Bobby and I caught the end of "A Few Good Men" Madison and Michaela came bursting in, laughing so hard they could hardly catch their breath.  We were at the part where Tom Cruise is interrogating Jack Nicholson right before he cracks.  We gave the girls "the look."

Amazingly, even Michaela, kept it quiet until a commercial came on a few minutes later.  Then they exploded.  Between laughs, Madison told us about the scene they had just witnessed.

Meredith had been standing at the sink, razor in hand, trying to shave her armpits.  Now for an ordinary person that's not such a big deal.  But for tiny Meredith, with tiny armpits, getting a straight one inch razor to shave her egg shaped pit is a job.  Yet she persisted.  All the scraping started irritating her skin. 

Without warning she burst into song...

Zits in the pits,
Zits in the pits,
Lookin' like a fool with zits in the pits.

She's some Meredith!  :)






Sunday, June 5, 2011

Babies!

                                       
I got Madison on the charter bus to go to Washington D.C. with her Freshman class then zipped back to church to teach my 3rd and 4th grade class.  I snuck in as the opening singing was going on.  I glanced up to see three junior highers leading them in  "Love, Love, Love your Enemies, Pray, Pray, Pray for those who persecute you."  Ooh, one of them was my Mer!  I beamed.

I glanced around the children.  Where was my class? 

Most all of them had been promoted up to their new classes last Sunday.  I looked at the back of their heads, mentally noting who was now going to be in my class.  Kole Baumann, Alainna Butler, Jorden Schonecase, Emma Heilwagen, Tara Garner...babies!  I had many of them when they were in the 3's and 4's class.  They're too little to be going into third grade!

In the blink of an eye, Madison had grown up.  As I helped her pack for her trip last night, I noticed a little framed picture of her as a 4-year old, wearing bunny ears, with her hands cupped up like bunny paws.  Tears flowed uninvited. 

"Mom," Madison asked gently.

I held the picture to my chest.  "Look at you.  You were my baby!"  Her chubby cheeks and round face, I had almost forgotten.

Madison pulled it away and in typical Madison fashion put it back on the shelf where it belonged...but this time backwards.

"We gotta pack!"

Yes, my little tasker was right. 

I glanced around at the babies that were somehow going to be in my class.  I thought of the first time I had met Kole and he had no shoes on.  While in the basement visiting with his mom and dad, we glanced over to find 2-year-old Kole, perched up on the Foosball table.  Kole had just been 2.  How could he be a third-grader?

It hit me. 

To get the amazing privilege to build into a slice of life for each of these babies was off-the-charts incredible.  I get to be their teacher.  I get to share the awesomeness of a God who knows their names, their favorite foods and their favorite colors.  I get to teach them Bible verses they will know forever!  I get to disciple them to be true followers of the one living God.  I get to shake them up so that the fragrance of Christ can pour out of their lives everyday or at least some days.

They will grow up fast...and I get to share in that!

Amazing!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Book I Read All the Way Through

Yes, it doesn't happen very often.  It's a little embarrassing to admit.  Yet, the truth is I have a stack of books (I had a stack of books till my husband put them into one column the length of Jack's Beanstalk and carefully balanced them all the way down the stairs and laid them on my office floor) that I've read some of but haven't finished.

Yes, I am a teacher.  Yes, I love books...perhaps just a little too much!  Besides, at night who knows what I might be in the mood for - Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, Stories for a Woman's HeartThe Life of Amy CarmichaelTraveling Light or Jewish Culture for Dummies.  I mean I like to keep my options open.

Truth is I did finish a book last night!  It was one of the many books I got for Mother's Day.  Are you dieing to hear the book's name?  Captivating, Unveiling the Mystery of A Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge. 

You've all read it, haven't you?  You're all thinking, What took you so long to read this book that everyone raved about...six years ago? 

Yes, Matt's girlfriend was here for the past few days.  She's read it twice and even done a book study on it.  :) So much for being on the cutting edge.

So why was it so great? 

I think one of the most memorable parts was a point that Stasi made that coincided with a conversation I recently had.  The coming together of real life with a succinct quote...BAM!

I had left a conversation on parenting with a friend.  We were discussing disrespectful children and getting very specific.  So specific, she was addressing my child.  Now I am the first to admit, my children are not perfect.  Yet still, as I left that conversation, I felt defensive.  I felt judged.  I'm sure my friend didn't realize how I was feeling.  Perhaps, I should've let her her know.  At any rate, when I opened Captivating that night, I read "A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become."

BAM!  "A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become."

I immediately thought, Have I ever made a friend feel defensive or judged?  Am I intentional about making those around me feel grace and love?  Do they leave me and feel hope?

The grind of life can feel forever, like pedalling up Mount Everest on a bigwheel. It can be unsettling like sticky fingers with no running water.  It can be annoying like a wet sock.  For Pete's sake, I don't want to make it any harder on my friends...I'll save that for my enemies, thank you.  :)

(Just kiddin...sorta.)





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Twin Teaching

Quincy United hosted it's annual soccer tournament.

Madison's Team lost their first game, then won their second.  Semi-Finals were then scheduled for Sunday at 10:00.  Uh-Oh, I thought.  Of course, it would have to be when I teach my Children's Church class!  What to do?

I considered asking the 3 wonderful subs that had helped me the previous 6 weeks during SLYSA games and tournaments.  But no, I couldn't give them enough notice

As I was thinking out loud, Meredith asked, "You just need someone for tomorrow?"

"Yep," I said.  I want it to be someone the kids will love.  Someone the kids will connect to and learn from."

Meredith smiled, "Uh, could I do it?"

By this time Michaela had come in.  "Me too?  That'd be so awesome!  Mom...can we?"

"Mom, ple.e.e.ease!" Meredith chimed in.

Now I was smiling.  My girls were begging to teach children's church.  No one begs to teach children's church!  But I wasn't complaining!

"Girls, you can't teach alone.  You'll at least need an adult there with you."

Meredith frowned.  "Well, as long as they don't take over."

I thought for a few minutes.  I remembered back to when I was in highschool and I first started teaching the 2's and 3's class.  It was horrible! 

What kind of children were these?  They didn't know how to sit down.  They just wanted to play.  They weren't even listening to my 45 minute lesson!

Yes...not a good thing to throw me, the newbe, into a class without guidance.  It almost kept me from doing the very thing I love and was made for. 

Hm...It really mattered who that adult was. 

It had to be me.  As much as I wanted to be with Madison, I knew I had to be with Meredith and Michaela.

I told the girls I would be the adult. 

"O.k." Michaela reluctantly agreed, "just remember we're the teachers!"

The girls ran through their ideas and plans with me.  It sounded good.

The next morning, as I came zipping into class in my black sweats, there was Meredith.  She sat at the front of the table.  She flashed me a quick smile, then finished explaining the "cooperative scale" as Michaela wrote the kids initials on it.

Wow, my girls are really cooperating themselves, I thought.  They usually cooperate about as well as a teenagers colic on prom night.

Meredith then read a story about siblings who didn't cooperate and fought over the remote.  She then asked a discussion question.  Several children blurted out.  "Hands up," Meredith called.  Immediately the kids hands went up.

Wow, the class is really listening.  They are engaged in the lesson.

The morning went quickly.  I found myself in awe when Meredith asked Michaela to go get the pitcher of water for snack and.....Michaela did!

My twins have done many things together.  They shared my uterus, sippy cups, and my lap.   But today they shared in something even more intimate...loving and serving their Jesus!

Today Madison had a loss.  Meredith and Michaela...a win!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Soccer Moms


Soccer moms...I've been one for a long time.  There are as many types of us as bags of junk food in the Walmart aisle.

There's the soccer mom that hyperventilates when their child gets bumped off the ball.  There's the soccer mom that yells "Be tough" when their child goes up for a header and smashes heads with their opponent and lands in a heap.

There's the soccer mom that packs their child's bag complete with 3 pairs of socks in both team colors, 2 extra jerseys and a can of fabreze.  There's the soccer mom who's never even opened their child's bag, ever.

Soccer moms. You'd think since I've been doin' this awhile I'd have this thing down.  I mean, I started back when Matt was 3.  That was 17 years ago. 

So why is it that two weeks ago at a tournament with Madison, I started really noticing a particular soccer mom?  She was video-taping every game.  She went on to tell me that after the game she and her daughter were going to watch the video and dissect her play.

Wow,  I thought.  That's impressive.  Just think how much farther ahead her daughter will be when she can actually see for herself what she did on the field. 

I subconsciously tuned in even more to this soccer mom.  What else does she do well? I thought.  Besides buying a video camera or learning how to use the one in the closet from the dark ages what else can I do to improve?

I watched as she yelled for her daughter.  "Take the shot!"  "Shoot the ball."  Hm, maybe I should be yelling more.  Does Madison need to shoot more?  Probably.  Do I need to be yelling that?  Probably! 

Besides Madison would like it better than what I had yelled that morning. What's wrong with yelling, "Work harder, Madison!  Good job, she's workin' hard!  Get after it!"

O.k., in all fairness to Madison it was more specific than that.  She hated when I yelled "She's workin' hard!" (one or two times.)

"Never, ever," she said with eyes that mimicked mine when I used to substitute teach,  "ever yell that again!"

I bet this super soccer mom had never yelled that!

I glanced back over to super soccer mom. 

I could be just like the super soccer mom.  Just think how much better Madison could be if I were like super soccer mom.

Minutes later as Madison came off the field and we were driving to get something to eat, I asked her what she thought about me videotaping her games.

"Sounds like a good idea," she said.

Why had I never thought of this before, I berated myself. 

The next morning at Madison's game,  as I waited for it to begin, I looked around.  Where's the super soccer mom? I thought. Oh...way over there? 

Perfect!

I want to watch the game, not a soccer mom.  I want to yell like I always do (except of course "She's workin' hard.")  I want to focus on my Lily, not on myself.  I'm no super soccer mom.  I'm Madison's mom.  :) And that's o.k.