Monday, December 20, 2010

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Did you know that when God put that rainbow in the sky He not only made a covenant with Noah and all of mankind, He made a covenant with the animals as well! (Genesis 9:8-11)

Animals are not human and should not be treated as such. They were not made in the likeness and image of God, but He did choose to creat them and call them "good". It was said in a youth group meeting a few years back that it was pointless to love pets as they have no soul. But God often chooses the simple things to bring light to His simple children. He opened the eyes of Balaam's doneky when man refused to see. He used ravens as His servants to bring food to His prophet Elisha (1 Kings 17:5-6). Our Lord choose a stable as His birth place in the presense of the animals. Jesus rode into Jerusalem as King on the foal of a donkey. And He uses the example of His eye being on the sparrow to comfort us and help us to accept His special attention and love for us. And He chose to show us the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

We have experienced two losses this past week. Our black cat, Raven Paw, had to be put down due to complications from an injury sustained a few months ago. Our beloved black lab, Midnight Boo, was killed by a car the following morning. One does not know how an animal will affect one's life until that animal is gone. Now we have never been the sorts to treat the animals as people, but they have been companions and the greeting comittee. They have protected our home from man an mouse:) They were part of the running of our home. God has given us dominion over the animals. By doing so He has given us yet another opportunity to learn compassion and humility.

Farewell our little friends. Though it may seem silly to mourn the beasts of the earth, they were sweet companions to us and they will be missed. Our God is the God of all creation and He knows when each of His beloved creatures die.

Attributed to St. Basil the Great are two beautiful prayers for Animals:The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours. (5)

For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear with us the burden and heat of day, and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou hast promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Saviour of the world. (5)

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Lost Sheep - Fallen

She was the mother of our very first foster baby. The baby was a tiny 6 day old when she arrived at our home. Blone hair, blue eyes and just adorable. Her young mother was in jail. She called every day and I held the phone up to her ear so she could talk to her baby. I had the awkward challenge of holding the phone while trying to illicit some sort of sound from baby so Mama would know she recognized her voice. We only had this baby for 30 days before she transferred to another foster home so we could keep two brothers together. The mom was only 18 and had been in and out of juvenile hall before this. Her heart's desire was to be a good mama. She worked hard and finally got her baby back. She loved her beautiful little girl and resolved never to be in that situation again. But life started moving along again. She lost some of her resolve, as many of us do after making a New Year's Resolution. Losing our resolve might land us back on the couch instead of at the gym, or delving into that secret stash of chocolate we'd sworn off. Perhaps we resolved to watch less tv or sit together at the dinner table. When we fail in those areas we often feel a sense of guilt, but we secretly know we'll try it again next year. This mama's loss of resolve caused her to lose focus on being healthy for herself and her child and slowly slipped back into the old routines with the old people and the old passions pulling at her pant legs urging her down that dark path. The same scenario played out with the second child. What is a mama to do? I know how despairing I feel at times as a mom. I fail my children. I make poor choices and incorrectly prioritize my day. But this mama's failings caused her to lose her children.

Two days ago that mama ended her stay on earth. Didn't she know that although her children were lost to her, all was not lost. Didn't she know that her own life had value? Didn't she know that there was a loving God calling her name, not pointing His finger? She didn't know. She couldn't hear. She couldn't see. Her pain was so big, and no doubt the flood of accusations from the enemy of man's soul were clouding her thinking, blaring in her ears and blinding her from the truth.

While I work and care for the little ones that come to our home, I also have great compassion for the parents, especially the mamas. Not that the mama's should get their children back, in many cases they shouldn't, but oh for them to know that their own lives hold value regardless of the outcome of the case. None of these mama's wanted to grow up and hurt their children. I pray that we, as Christians, learn to look past the outward and seek to touch the hearts of the people we come in contact with. I hope we will not only pray for the children, but for the lost mamas as well. For one of these lost mama's Jesus will leave the rest of the sheep and search and search. And when one of these lost one's is found there is great rejoicing. And when one of these lost ones ends it all because it doesn't know it's valued and can't hear the call of the Shepherd because the wolves are howling so loudly...when the Good Shepherd finds it...He weeps.

May the Lord have mercy on Her soul

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"John the Baptism" and Other Saints

My son informed me the other day that he wanted to go to jail. When I asked why he simply told me, "so I can hang out with John the Baptism". We all chuckled, but it did make me think of the importance of saints in our lives. Those of us who worship in the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic tradidtions view saints almost like extended family members. We see their icons not as something to worship but a reminder of what we should be emulating. We also see them as our "speedy helpers and intercessors for our souls"...just like a friend who we would call in time of great need. Those of the protestant persuasion look at the heros of the faith, like Hudson Taylor and Corrie Ten Boom, as people whose lives should serve as a powerful example to us all.

It is important to tell the stories of the saints to our children just as it is important for our children to have a strong prayer life and dedication to our Lord through the reading of Holy Scripture and participation in Christian fellowship. You may wonder why I would put the lives of the saints on or near the same level of importance as the Holy Scriptures. It is because the Scriptures tell us how to live, how to follow the Lord, what to leave behind, how to train our children, how to treat others with love and mercy, etc. The lives of the saints are amazing windows showing us people who actually turned those Holy words and instructions into a reality, many times at the expense of their very lives. To read that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind and strength is powerful. But to see and read about someone who lived it and suffered for it is part of making scripture live and breathe. Through the lives of the amazing faithful we are inspired to continue to take up our own cross and follow Christ. Their suffering and struggle comes to us as refreshment for our souls as we continue on this long journey. Of course there are many many people who have fought valliantly for the faith, or suffered long, or stood firm whose names we will never know this side of heaven. The scritpures tell us that if the all the miracles performed by Jesus were to be written down the would could not hold all of the books. Thankfully, through the grace and direction of the Holy Spirit, the things that were most necessary for our instruction and edification were written down. Likewise, though we can not know all those worthy of being known as Saints of God, we can know of some who teach us by the example of their lives and encourage us toward that finish line.

Corrie Ten Boom - Saved many Jews from the hands of the Nazis though it cost her her freedom and the lives of many family members.

St. Sophia along with her daughters Sts. Faith Hope and Charity - Refused to deny Christ even though they met with many tortures and even martyrdom for those sweet girls 12, 10 and 9.

Jim Elliot - Along with 4 other missionary men gave their lives in the jungles of South America even though they had the means to defend themselves because "if we kill them they go to hell. If they kill us we go to heaven." That sacrifice turned the hearts of that violent tribe to Christ when no one had been able to reach them before.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us. -Amen

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mama Tea

It's amazing the difference a little teapot and two little cups can make. Sometimes it's hard to find ways to really "connect" with my boys. I am usually running one or the other of them to some sort of therapy appointment or breaking up a fight or trying to talk above the noise. Sometimes I send them outside to play...against their will...tempted to lock the door behind them :) But those are all things I do for them or, uh, to them but there weren't very many moments I spent WITH them. I was in the same room, house, car, insane asylum, but not with them on their level listening to their amazing thoughts and dreams. A friend gave me a sweet little Numi teapot for my birthday last year and on a whim I decided to have tea with my eldest son when he was having a hard time. I was just tired of facing the struggle head on, I thought tea would soften the mood. I was not prepared for the positive response I received from him. He relaxed and talked and listened and laughed. And it only lasted 10 minutes. We just talked until the tea was gone. I tried this the next day with the middle son and the day after that with the youngest. Now all three seek out Mama Tea time. Of course I find my eyeballs floating on those days when all three need Mama time. I tend to stop drinking when my youngest son reaches in the pot to press out all the extra liquid from the teabag (where have those hands been?!). Perhaps I'd like something other than Chamomile or Tension Tamer, but the look on their faces when the time is done and their delight when I tell them "thank you for having tea with me"...priceless!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Let Us Attend

"In peace let us pray to the Lord"
"Lord have mercy."

"Attending" at Church can be quite challenging not only because I have a plethora or children to manage (thanks 3 Amigos Movie for teaching me that big word:)) but that I have some children with...bonus features. My youngest child was drug exposed in utero and has ADHD, auditory processing issues (he hears everything...even when he's sitting in the way back of the van and I open a mint container!) and sensory DEregulation disorder (his body feels more comfortable when it's crazy and moving around and out of control, but his feelings don't).

During our time as parents, foster parents and adoptive parents I have secretly believed that our love would be enough no matter what "bonuses" our children came with, but I'm learning that sometimes love can't fix those little extras. Sometimes the love that needs to be shown is taking these kids to appointments and finding out what services and even medications might be necessary to help them feel comfortable in their own skin. This young one just began a mild medication that we all felt necessary to add to his supplement regime.

For the first time in a long time all three boys played with each other for a long time. It was quiet and that quiet didn't mean something bad was happening. They were actually enjoying each others company! Then Sunday was Church, the real test. My young one had a bit of trouble sitting. The medication makes him a little drowsy and when he's tired he gets grumpy. When it was time to stand he chose to do his imitation of a boneless chicken, but I persevered and helped him stand. During the Great Entrance he stood respectfully. I almost didn't breathe I didn't want to spoil the moment. And when it was time to take the Eucharist...No pushing and shoving! No reenacting the battle sequence from Narnia! No wiggling or yelling "DON'T!" when I try to direct his body! He stood peacefully in line, walked up the the chalice and partook CALMLY of the Body and Blood of our Lord. As I followed behind him I had to choke back the tears. No one knew that I was feeling like I was at the Olympics watching my son win a gold medal. No one knew what an accomplishment that short walk was. No one, but my Lord, knew my Mama heart and how proud I was of my son. This little one has the potential for a lifetime of intense trials and hard work because of the drugs that were put into his system as a precious unborn baby. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." He wants my little hyperactive boy who can't filter out any stimuli to come unto Him. He wants my son with Reactive Attachment Disorder to come unto Him. He wants my children who feel insecure or stupid or afraid to come unto Him because He made His kingdom of heaven for them. To grant them peace. To give them rest. To make them secure in Him.

May we help each of our little ones on that narrow road we must all walk, crawling with them when necessary...that crawling will encourage much prayer since we'll already be on our knees :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fancy Friday

A dear friend of mine just started doing Shabbat in her home on Friday nights. It is a beautiful Jewish tradition and each child receives a blessing from the Papap. There are candles and a special flow for the Sabbath evening. I automatically put the scene from Fiddler on the Roof, it can't be helped, I've seen it too often:)

Well we're not Jewish and the Papa in this home gets very uncomfortable giving speeches, or blessings, or anything else where he is the main focus. Did that mean we couldn't enjoy a special evening in our home? Of course not. I went out and purchased 6 little tealight candle holders and nice smelling tealights. 12 glass wine goblets cost the same as 8 dispoable ones, and they're just so pretty. Glass plates on a real fabric table cloth and sometimes the Papa brings flowers to adorn our lovely spread. We offer sparkling cider or grape juice. Dessert is also offered as part of our special Friday celebration. We eat and talk and laugh. Mama says a blessing while Papa smiles at his children.

"May you be like Saint Nina who went where the Lord led her to bring Salvation to people in distant lands"

"May you be like Saint Nicholas who blessed others by giving of what he had"

"May you be like Saint Anna who, along with her husband, had the faith to pray for 50 years to receive God's blessing"

"May you be like Saint Joseph who trusted the Lord even when it was hard."

"May you be like Saint George who fought the enemy with the strength of the Lord"

"May you be like Saint Micah who spoke to Lord's truth to His people."

The boys, especially, smile and blow out their candle as they are blessed. The mood for the rest of the eveing is quite positive, everyone a little more forgiving of the shortcomings of their siblings than they might be on "regular" days.

Let's hear it for establishing new traditions!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Praise the Lord

I don't know when exactly it started, but for the last few years when I hear a siren or see emergency personnel rushing by I cross myself and say "Lord have mercy" for whatever the emergency might be. A little while ago I heard a siren and my five year old called very loudly from the back seat "Praise the Lord!" as he crossed himself. Of course we all chuckled. He now alternates between "Praise the Lord!" and "Thank God!" when they pass. It is such a sweet innocent thing. But if I think about it a little I do think there are lessons that can be learned from that little mix-up in phrasing.

There are usually one or two (or 50!) little emergencies in our home daily. Anything from something broken (feelings, toys...bones!) to emotional meltdowns as a result of traumatic pasts and hormonal presents. When I hear all the "sirens" go off throughout my home all throughout the day I rarely stop and praise the Lord or even ask for His mercy. That might be a good thing to start and then perhaps when I arrive on the scene of the accident I might have the presence of mind to respond instead of react. And when there is screaming or crying or fighting or...sigh...even whining, if I could cross myself and say "Praise the Lord!" just maybe I could look past the chaos and rejoice in the blessed (albeit LOUD) child the Lord has blessed me with.

Yes, Lord, have mercy! May His Name be glorified! I do thank Him and praise Him for each child and the husband and pitiful me. May we embrace the grace He grants us as we walk in His ways! -Amen

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heart Issues

Sometimes, in parenting, we forget how many of the things we try to train into our children, or discipline out of them, are surface issues. It's so hard to stop and think, "what is the heart issue here?" when your 5 year old has re-painted the newly painted wall with craft paint. Or your 7 year old whines like a toddler. Or your 9year old is in everyone's business or stalks his older sisters when there is no "business" going on.

The other night was a night of discovery for me. Our three boys fluctuated between Larry, Mo and Curly and a Zulu warrior, Hitler and a combo of Groucho Marx and the strong man at the circus, minus the leopard leotard (don't those words look fun together:) I'd sat down on the couch to watch a show after putting the boys to bed when the 7 year old came upstairs complaining of a headache. I gave him a remedy and he went back downstairs. Two minutes later the 9 year old, not wanting to miss out, came with the same complaint. I had him drink some water and sent him back down stairs. Two minutes after that the 7 year old returned, still complaining of a headache and that the 5 year old won't stop talking. I sent the 7 year old to sleep on the couch in the game room. Next came the 5 year old...are you still with me? It gets better..."Why isn't 7 year old in bed?" (for him to torture further...he'd left that part out). It went on and on. Headache boy fell asleep quickly but the fun continued with 9 year old bringing news flashes about hurricane 5 year old and the damage being done on the island of bedroom. 5 year old got in trouble several times. As I headed downstairs yet again I noted the look on my 9 year old's face. I realized something else was going on here. Yes the 5 year old was doing some "stuff", but I needed to address the heart of my 9 year old.

What I saw in my 9 year olds face was pleasure. He was rejoicing in his "enemy's" bad fortune. He was secretly enjoying the knowledge that his 5 year old brother was getting disciplined. You see, before he came to live with us he'd been terribly bullied at school (as opposed to the good kind of bullying?) and now he is the one with a bit more power and control over the fate of the 5 year old. If I had simply dealt with offender (who fell asleep anyway while waiting to be tried and sentenced) I would have missed helping the heart of my 9 year old. He's been through years of some very tough stuff and not only has he put up walls but those walls are covered with thorns and thistles. By addressing his heart and working toward a solution with him and helping him learn to acknowledge his weaknesses he learns that the walls needn't be so high and with proper tending those thorns and thistles produce beautiful roses in the spring and that the beauty of the roses helps to soften the sting of the thorns to himself and others.

Truly children help us work out our salvation with fear and trembling. They remind us to look into our own hearts and allow our Father to break down our walls and cut back the thorns and thistles we have used in our lives as protection or to justify sinful behavior. I thank God for these opportunities (not always right at that moment) and for the privilege of helping my young ones along their path to the Christ.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Son Went Home

He went home the other day, the prodigal who'd been gone so long. I know I've written before about my brother, Homeless Mark, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts a little and explain a bit more what his life meant to me.

He was the most amazing picture of the Prodigal Son but this man did not stop short of eating the pig slop. I have no idea how he became Homeless Mark to begin with. I'm pretty certain that when the teacher asked in Kindergarten what he wanted to be a homeless addict was not top on his list. I had only spoken with him briefly here and there, even offended him once while he was intoxicated. The amazing thing about this man is that he was always searching. He took longer than that long lost son portrayed in Holy Scriptures, but he was just as looked for, just as beloved, perhaps even more so due to the length of his absence from his Father and how base he had become. He had a Bible he brought around with him and other very large and heavy scripture resource books. In cartoons we often see the little shoulder apparitions, devil on one side and angel on the other. In his world the devil was very real in the addiction that held him for so long. The angel seemed to evade him.

What my older brother has taught me is that he is not the exception to the rule, he is the example of the rule. Sometimes we think that people like him with amazing stories like his are one in a million but they're not, it's all about perspective. Many were able to see Mark's incredible transformation. Some areas of his brain were affected irrevocably by the life he'd lived, but the heart of this man longed for his Lord. Each man woman and child has that same longing even if we never see any movement at all let alone a miraculous transformation. Yet we are called to give regardless of what kind of fruit we think we can see. We're supposed to stand and talk to those society calls unlovely, not just the starving children in Africa, but the filthy ones right here, right down the street holding up a sign. I'm not foolish enough to think that all those with signs are noble and have just lost their way, there certainly can be many other motives, or devils, involved there, but when we give to them we are giving to Christ.

Mark helped us all learn to give offerings of ourselves to Christ through himself without even knowing it. He taught us that lovely or unlovely we are all welcome. He taught us to accept into the wedding feast all who Christ has called without questioning the Bridegroom's invitation list. We were blessed and humbled to see each agonizing step he took, sometimes crawling or clawing his way, to his heavenly Papa who'd been waiting all this time...waiting to place those sandals on Mark's feet and have the fatted calf prepared and include all creation in the rejoicing of His son's return.

That son is home. He is not Homeless Mark, his home was being prepared all this time. He has returned to his Father. He is at peace and in his right mind. He will be buried Monday and many will mourn him. His life was truly a testimony of God's grace and mercy toward us whether we realize we're prodigals or not.

May His grace and mercy lead us all HOME ~ Memory Eternal

Monday, June 14, 2010

Head Shoulders Mud and Dirt

It started with a fight. Loud voices can be heard so clearly when one is trying to sleep. Of course I wasn't sleeping at that point, but I was day dreaming about real dreaming. The oldest boy and youngest boy each got up on the wrong side of the planet this morning. Each one blamed the other, was offended by the notion that they each should take responsibility for their own part in the fight and were willing to lose privilege after privilege before this first fight was finally resolved. "Maybe it's not so bad", I thought "we just got it out of the way early today." HA! Of course not, that would be too easy.

The second fight was after breakfast and over Legos. There was a miscommunication and words too big for the situation were used to express frustration. I reprimanded the younger who had destroyed the creation of the elder. I discussed with the older child the need to remove himself from heated situations and encouraged him to use more appropriate words to express his frustration. You would have thought I was an alien with four heads. I made sure each head said the same thing and we concluded our interview.

Just before leaving for a counseling appointment the doorbell rang. Of course, today had to be the day our wonderful social worker came for her annual surprise visit. Apparently moments before she entered my home our lovely, severely under trained, dog brought in a gift of chicken feathers from our recently departed chickens (foxes we think) and deposited them on the floor in the living room. It's always awkward when you have a guest and a somewhat normally clean room is suddenly cluttered and you feel the need to explain yourself but end up looking more foolish than if you'd just kept your mouth shut. Oh well. Our social worker truly is a lovely woman and already loves our family:) She knew we were in a hurry and as I escorted her to her car, by way of the garage so the under trained dogs couldn't maul her, two mud covered creatures burst through the outside garage door laughing and shaking their booties. The youngest had neglected to put on underwear this morning and so became an exhibitionist when his mud laden sweats fell down during one of his dance turns.

The social worker left and I ran out the door to a van that took 5 tries to start (thinking the starter is going...ugh!). We finally made it to counseling for the oldest boy when I receive a text from my eldest daughter that read "Brother #3 is naked and I can't turn on the hose." ...sigh... I finally communicated through texts, while trying to show my focused support and encouragement to my oldest son, who of course refused to tell the counselor anything because he was still throwing a silent tantrum because he lost video game privileges.

I usually stand there puzzled, or crying, on days like this. I search my mind for how my girls behaved when they were little and I am comforted. Not because they were little angels (although none of them ever yelled I HATE YOU at me or one another), but because I do remember the day they found the Tempura paint and painted the toilet, washer and dryer, their bunk bed, the carpet and the walls. I remember them sneaking into the kitchen and stealing the fresh made bread. They didn't steal the whole loaf, no, that would be too boring, they hollowed it out by carefully taking handfuls of the center and I'd be none the wiser until I went to cut some in the morning. They snuck sugar cubes and candy. They used to strip and run outside. The oldest threw mud clots and an old woman's car as she drove by...yes, I certainly got an earful for that one.

With all of the mud, language and crazy antics of my children I still find myself feeling so blessed and would love to be blessed with more. When I asked my second daughter how many children she thought we should have she said 16. I suggested we might as well have 20 to which she replied "20?! That would be too many." HA! Children truly are a blessings even with the arguments, mud footprints all over the floor, peeing in the...uh...wrong places, adolescent hormonal explosions or artistic mood swings...I am blessed by it all.

Friday, June 11, 2010

For the Love of PVC

For $2, yes $2, I can provide one child with the most versatile non-electronic gaming system ever. Never worry again about losing parts, or power outages, batteries or plugs. What is this system, you ask? PVC pipe! I gave each of my boys two 3ft. sections of 1/2 inch PVC pipe and they've come up with a myriad of uses. So far they have been Knights on horses (PVC providing the sturdy front legs which transform into weapons when they hit the battle field). They have been used as cross bows, bow and arrow, ninja nunchucks, binoculars, swords, machetes...and that was just in the first 5 minutes!

Sometimes the less expensive, basic and simple things really are the best. Rocks, cardboard, pvc pipe, duct tape...all for less money that one normal toy would cost. Many more hours of fun. With video games or other games with all the bells and whistles they play until they conquer it and then the fun is gone. But with toys, or tools, that require imagination, there really is no limit to the fun that can be had. Of course I have to make sure they don't turn the PVC pipes into anything that could cause damage to our home or the neighbors...NO MISSILE LAUNCHERS!!!... but outside of that, these are amazing toys. Next week we hope to add more PVC and joints to go with them! That coupled with a couple of flat sheets (I mean, really, who uses those anymore?!) Look out forts here we come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cleaning Recipes!

Okay, so here they are. I'm really not an exact measurement person, but I'll try.

All Purpose Spray Cleaner:
1T Borax
1T Baking Soda
2T Liquid Castille Soap
15 Drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
15 Drops Lemon Essential Oil

Put all items in spray bottle and add warm water to half way. Shake to mix ingredients. Let settle and fill rest of the way with water.

What I use on my tile floor:
1 C White Vinegar
15 Drops Essential oil (peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, lavender)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Gal. Hot Water

I just mop my floor and it leaves a nice little shine, but not a greasy residue.

Laundry Detergent:
1/2 C Borax
1/2 C Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap or 1/3 C liquid castille soap
(optional: essential oil and tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract)
6 C Water plus more to fill 5 gal. container

Heat water on stove. Add soap and let melt/disolve. Add borax and washing soda mix until disolved. Pour into 5 gal. container. Add enough water to fill 2/3 of the way while mixing. Add essential oil now and mix. Cover and let set 24 hours. It will look a lot like egg drop soup and this is what it's supposed to look like.

1/2 C White Vinegar
1 T Borax
10 drops lemon essential oil which helps boost whites
I pour this mixture into the bleach dispenser.

Glass Cleaner:
50/50 Rubbing Alcohol/Water
Spray Bottle
That's it!

Olive Oil
15 drops essential oil
atomizer (little spray bottle)
just spray little on a paper towel and go to work.

I'll do the deodorant and soap on another day ;)

So there you go:)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Humility Stings

Here is the end of yesterday's story.

I actually went to bed at my newly appointed 10 o'clock bed time (yay!) but didn't sleep well. I'm one of those people who can have 499 people happy with me but if #500 is not happy with me I dive into despair head first. So the knowledge that there was no positive closure between me and my neighbors sat heavily upon my...stomach, because that's where it seems to settle. I also tend to obsess over things like this and have a constant running commentary going through my mind about what I should say, what they might say back, etc. The problem with that is, IT'S NOT REAL! They may or MAY NOT follow the script that I've penned in my brain. I prayed for them...not the "Lord change them" prayer, but that the Lord would bless them and prosper them. And to my surprise, I really meant it!

I baked bread today and thought perhaps a warm loaf of fresh ground whole wheat bread could serve as a peace offering (much tastier than a white flag). I headed over there and knocked at the door. No answer. I left with the plan to try again later. Three times I went back and no one answered. As the bread cooled, my resolve got weaker and weaker. I took the baby with me two of the times for surely no one would be mean to a woman holding an infant. Finally, I peaked over the fence and saw a sure sign of life. I grabbed the bread and headed over. Alone. Thankfully the Lord blessed me by having the lady of the house answer the door. I apologized again for my sons actions and let her know I was a Momma who disciplines her children when they do wrong and that...I couldn't believe I said this part...I didn't vote for Obama and I'm not "one of those liberal parents who doesn't think their child could ever do any wrong" (where did that come from...perhaps my fear that race might have something to do with their strong reaction to yesterdays events...I'm a coward, I know). I didn't restate my sentiments from the day before because those words had already been spoken. What didn't seem to get across to them yesterday was the fact that I agreed with them that my boys committed a "misdemeanor" of sorts and needed to be responsible for their actions. She thanked me for making the extra effort and took my peace offering and we parted, not as friends, but at least as cordial neighbors.

Humility stings because I want so much not only to be right but to have others acknowledge that I'm right, or at least less wrong than they are. But if my Lord can humble Himself to be born in a stable and die naked on a cross for me...I think I can muster the humility to offer the bread of peace to my neighbor. We're all neighbors after all :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lessons Learned

Today was a tough day on the Momma front. It is certainly my fault for not getting enough sleep the past month. I didn't even pause one moment to ask the Lord for guidance, I just reacted. You see, my five year old son has several labels. He's ADHD, has auditory processing issues (he hears every single sound) and Sensory Deregulation Disorder, which means he has no idea where his body is in space and time and feels more comfortable out of control than in control.

On this day my five year old had a melt down about toast. Despite my attempts to help him find a solution. He kept interrupting me and finally turned his back on me to ignore me completely. I snapped. I could almost feel myself turning into a giant green Lou Ferrigno (Incredible Hulk). To my shame, I grabbed him by the collar of his sweat shirt and dragged him down the hall to my room. On the way his head bumped the door jam. I set him down on my giant pillows and used my "angry mommy voice" to try and get him to hear me. It's a challenge, once he gets something in his head he's almost like Rainman...unable to let it go and work toward a solution. I calmed down. He calmed down. We spoke in normal human voices to each other until we solved the problem. Five minutes later he came to me and gave me a big hug and told me he loved me. It was as if he was thanking him for keeping the boundaries even when it means going head to head.

At that point I lost it. There is nothing I want more in my life than to love the Lord my God, be a good wife and good mother. I felt like a horrible mother, a complete failure and not even worthy of the title at all. Of course I feel like the only mom on the planet who has ever lost her temper. I called a dear friend with little ones and she consoled me:) I called a dear friend with grown children and she laughed and said, "with all you have to work with it's a wonder it hasn't happened more often." <> But I want to be perfect! Not as HE is perfect but as that perfect ME person I have in my head. I had to humble myself and apologize not only to my five year old but to all the other children. I had to tell them that this was a perfect example to see their Momma is NOT perfect. I pointed out that even when someone does something to ruffle my feathers I still have to take responsibility for my actions, tone of voice, etc. The great thing...they all forgave me and could relate to a sibling, friend, parent frustrating them to the point of exploding. They could also see that even when people antagonize them they are still responsible for their responses.

Just a little while ago I had to face someones wrath that was pointed toward my boys. My lovely, childishly foolish, boys used newly purchased sling shots to shoot pebbles OVER OUR FENCE INTO OUR NEIGHBORS YARD! The neighbor was not too pleased about his and yelled at them over the fence and even went so far as to use profanity! They hurried into the house to tell me what happened and I told them the neighbor was absolutely right to be upset. They could have hit a window or a person or damaged something the neighbor valued. An older man came over to make sure I knew what had happened and I apologized for their actions. But I also did something else my boys needed to see. I asked the man not to use foul language with my boys and to let me know if there were ever any problems. You see, they had to see that while what they did was very wrong, it was not appropriate for a grown man to use that kind of language with children. They lost their sling shots for the night and gained a rule of adult supervised slingshot play only. They went outside to goof around again and the neighbors yelled at them to go inside. There entered "Momma Bear". As politely as I could I apologized again to the other adult members of the neighbors family but stated that as their Momma it was MY responsibility to discipline them and monitor them. The man was quite worked up and yelled some things back to me but I stood my ground. I was so frustrated and really would like to have been that contentious woman tearing down HIS house! But I didn't. I went inside and cared for my home.

So what did I learn today?
1. Momma needs more sleep
2. Momma can NOT be perfect, but our perfect Lord is the one I'm supposed to be imitating.
3. It is important to apologize when Momma has been wrong
4. It is important to impart the same grace I hope for from my children when I've made a mistake on them when they make a mistake.
5. It's good to discipline your children when they do wrong and defend them when they are wronged.
6. I learned that all the ups and downs and ins and outs...all those "bi-polar" moments are Worth it because each of these crazy, wonderful, silly, challenging children is worth struggling for.

May the Lord have mercy on all us Mommas...our children truly help us work out our Salvation with fear and trembling (some times extra fear or trembling or both! :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Never Too Tired

I was thinking the other day about how tired I am. I keep staying up way too late and then I have to get up way too early. I stay up because...well...I have 7 wonderful children I'm responsible for. The youngest four have me running all day then I settle down on the couch to make memories with my older three. When they're all tucked away in bed and I've tended to the kitchen, etc. (if I'm not too pooped to pop), I enjoy those quiet moments typing or looking up things online I've thought about during the day. Eventually I fall into bed, sometime fully clothed, only to be awaken 30 minutes later for a feeding, four hours after that for another feeding, an hour after that for the wonderful goodbye kisses my husband gives me before heading off to work at 5:30 am and moments later morning shines through my windows mocking my curtains telling me to get up and do it all again.

But then there are those nights when someone is sick. The baby had two nights with very high fevers (104 and 104.5 respectively). I'm wide awake with no hint of a drag in my step. I'm alert and ready to respond. I play nurse made with no complaint if it can ease the suffering of the little one who has no idea what is making her little body feel so uncomfortable. I have had children vomit on my pillow, not once but twice. I've taken temps under armpits, in bottoms, ears and mouths (not the same thermometer as used for bottoms:). I've undressed, bundled and wiped down. I've given cool water, tea, Pediasure and 7-Up. And I've prayed like I've never prayed before!

God has given mama's a reserve fuel tank, I think. We think we're empty and tired and weak but when we're needed we switch tanks and charge through without a second thought. It's different than the adrenalin rush we can get in emergency situations. It's not a fight, flight or freeze response. We don't run from it but to the emergency. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, aren't we? And we will make it through all the diapers and spit up and teething. The high fevers and coughs and breathing treatments won't make us retreat. We're like God's postal service: neither vomit, nor boogies, nor fevers, nor diarrhea shall keep us from our duty as mothers.

Thank you Lord for Your strength!!! I'm tired, but You're not! Praise the Lord...Zzzzzzz

Monday, May 24, 2010


My brother is dieing. Not my biological brother but a man who has recently become my brother. He was known at our church in California as Homeless Mark. Each summer our church would have BBQ after vespers Saturday night. Sometime mid summer we'd start seeing these special homeless friends start showing up to "accept the hospitality of others":) They were always respectful and enjoyed the food. As the BBQs wound down their attendance dwindled to nothing fall, winter and spring. We'd almost forget about our visitors until summer came around again. Then one year summer came and went and Homeless Mark stayed.

Homeless Mark didn't smell very good. He had nights when he'd been so drunk he wasn't even aware that he'd urinated on himself...or worse, someone else had urinated on him. He walked with a limp because he was missing some toes and part of his foot. He had some of his fingers, but not all. That didn't stop him from playing piano or guitar though. He'd walk into church with a Snapple bottle full of alcohol and cheer for the choir as they sang sacred songs. When he talked he brought his toothless mouth so close to your face and spoke so loudly...I would turn my head take a deep breath and turn back to face him while holding my breath so as not to offend. He wouldn't call Fr. Andrew father and carried a big Bible and several study books with him. One year he made a home under the stairs to the choir loft. As the congregation came out to do an evening procession around the church near Pascha he popped out from under the stairs and clapped and cheered as if the procession was for his personal enjoyment. He'd asked once if he could start coming to catechumen classes (catechism) and Fr. Andrew told him he'd have to be sober for a few months first. That may seem a bit odd to deny a man entry to a class for seekers, but, contrary to popular belief, becoming a Christian should not be rushed into and is not to be taken lightly.

Homeless Mark was not always appropriate and would get easily offended. He shared offensive jokes and would sometimes become unruly in church if someone encouraged him to quiet down. He made comments to a couple of women, scared a few children and was even escorted off the property by a protective dad and told not to return. He had worn out his welcome at every other church in the valley as well as many organizations whose sole purpose was to help the poor. Homeless Mark did not return that summer. I was sort of surprised because he'd been around for so long, but he didn't come back.

We moved away and didn't hear anything about Homeless Mark until after Christmas 2008. Right after Christmas Homeless Mark was feeling quite hopeless and couldn't think of any other way to get the help he so desperately needed so he set himself on fire. That got him into the hospital and thus began his road to sobriety. Mark found himself drawn back to the Church. Though he'd worn out his welcome everywhere he still decided to come back. When he did return he was very different. He sat through church and listened. He didn't cheer. He was the first to the fellowship hall to help set up and the stayed to the last to help tear down. He came to many services and was faithful to remain in his SLE (sober living environment). He got teeth and wore them though they made him feel very uncomfortable. They were very distracting to him at first like a child who has just gotten braces and can't stop running his tongue over them. He got newer clothes and was able to bathe regularly. He started asking questions and listened to the answers. Although he still thought he could fly (he'd been perpetually intoxicated for many many years), he continued to seek the Christ who seemed to have alluded him for so long. He celebrated Pascha that year and stayed into the wee morning hours to help clean up. And with all the excitement and celebration no one realized he didn't have a way to get home. A man from the church returned early that morning to take care of some business and found him sleeping on the deck. When asked what he was doing there so early he simply stated that the buses stopped running at 11 and so he slept there. The man who'd personally escorted him off the property became his friend and welcomed him back.

Last Wednesday Mark was Chrismated! He became an Orthodox Christian. Father had to ask him if he'd been baptized and he stated he'd been baptized 5 times! On that day Mark became my brother. Mark is dieing of cancer. We don't know how much time he has left. No one was even sure he'd remember he'd been Chrismated because of all the medication he's on for pain. But he remembers! His Good Shepherd has been searching for this lost sheep for all of these years and though it is just before the end of this precious lambs life his Master has found him and is rejoicing over him (Matthew 18:10-140. He has been hired during these last hours by the Vineyard Owner and will be rewarded in the same way as those who sought employment at the beginning (Matthew 20:6-8). He has been redeemed. He is clean. He is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is merciful! This was a man who anyone would have looked at and seen little hope of him changing his ways, yet the Carpenter took the few scraps of wood that were left of his life and made him into a beautiful, perfectly crafted useful vessel. May I live as if I am homeless (this world is not my home Hebrews 11:13), and may I endeavor to humble myself the way my brother did.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy Upon Us. - Amen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Thound Thunny Holding My Thongue

It's bedtime for the big girls at our house. The boys went to bed a few hours ago and we didn't even have any of them sneaking up to beg for a drop of water for their parched tongues or a crust of bread for their starving bellies. None of them limped across the living room with excruciating growing pains in their elbows. They are sleeping and all is quiet in the house.

What's that I hear? Gaiety in the game room? Could it be true?! Are the girls still up and with their dad as the instigator?! Doesn't he know they have classes in the morning? Doesn't he care that I, yes I, sent them to bed already? But...I don't speak. I listen to the joy being expressed down there. I don't interrupt and try to get my way and ruin this great opportunity the girls have to make a little memory with their dad.

Now, it takes a lot of strength to hold a tongue as strong as mine. My tongue exercises each morning almost immediately after the boys arise and throughout the day as it directs, explains, corrects and sometimes lectures. It has the power to heave tremendous guilt trips on the unsuspecting or praise to high heaven the actions, thoughts or creative genius my husband and children exhibit daily.

The Bible says in Proverbs 21:9 "Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman." I don't want my family huddled in a corner of our attic because of me:)

Tho I wiw hold my thung and thorce mythelf to enthoy the lauthter.

Bad News

No, not about our family, so don't worry. I had the unfortunate opportunity to watch part of the evening news tonight. Within five minutes we covered the disappearance and possible discovery of the body of a young teen who'd gone missing two weeks ago on her way to a birthday party. We heard about the body of a young child found in an abandoned apartment. We saw homeless teens featured in a public interest segment and even the weather showed the possibility of more dangerous weather.

How I wish there was more I could do to help. I wish I could comfort the family of the missing girl or could have somehow helped that poor child they found. I wish I could just open my home up to all the homeless teens and children and babies. I wish I could care for teen moms and help them through the maturing process that must now be jump started prematurely. Sometimes I feel like Oskar Schindler who at the end of the war wondered who else he could have saved if he'd just sold his gold ring or car or... I understand that the Lord has not called me to all of it, but He has given me a sensitive heart and with that gift comes some responsibility as well. Yes, we do foster care and in that way we are doing a small part in taking care of the "orphans" in our community. But I can also pray and I can work with my children to help them have a heart for the hurting so that perhaps some day they will be like Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 calling to the Lord when they hear His voice "here am I, send me."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

There's Just Something About...

There is just something about a clean kitchen. I don't mind if there are still dishes in the sink because they won't all fit in one dishwasher load. I don't care that the floor isn't mopped yet (that's tomorrow's job). I don't even mind the few stacks of "things" on the counters because they're all in the correct "things" piles.

Staying awake until...well...too late is worth it most nights if I can make my counters shine. If I can get all the crud scraped off and wash and wipe until I can see my refection...ugh! Is that me?! I need a shower...never mind, the kitchen is clean!

Today was an interesting "everything" kind of day. You know the kind. There are 365 days in a year and everything has to happen on THIS day. First my wonderful dear friend came over for the day just in time for me to dash out the door leaving foster babe and child #5 behind while I raced to drop off child #1 for class and the doctor for child #6. Then there was occupational therapy for both #6 and #4 while having to make sure #1 got picked up from classes and #'s 2 and 3 got dropped off in a timely manner. I then raced back to pick up #4 from OT because, of course, he and #6 don't have appointments at the same time, that would be too easy. I then headed back to the house to make a quick lunch and hurry back out to pick up #'s 2 & 3 from their classes. My dear friend and I had a fun time, those 3 1/2 minutes we actually got to talk :). Our respite was short lived because child #2 had to go back to class for an assembly. While trying to pack all the kids in the cars to drop off #2 we found that our dog count was down. You see, Dear Friend had brought her adorable two puppies (and even cuter 3 little boys and little brother) to liven our home up a bit. So, 5 dogs turned to 4 dogs and we just couldn't find the little runaway. We headed to the park, while child #2 went to her assembly, where Dear Friend and I were able to enjoy each others company for a while longer. When we headed back to the house we searched and searched for the missing pup. Child #5 had the great idea to stop and pray and the pup was found in 5 minutes.

After Dear Friend left it was time to make dinner and prepare for the 1 year old foster babe who is staying with us for a week while his foster fam goes on a well deserved vacation. Since I was making dinner I figured I could make deodorant for my husband and all us females. I'm happy to report the spatulas never got put in the wrong pot and the deodorant (and dinner) turned out well. I meant to have everything done on time, but instead of getting to sit down and eat with the whole family I had to help child #4 remember how to be respectful even when he doesn't get what he wants. When I came back up the table looked like it had been ravaged by locusts with french bread crusts and crumbs laying on the table like rubble and pizza fondue droppings here and there. As I tried to scoop a few bites in my mouth Dear Friend #2 arrived with the 1 year old who was...well...less than happy to be here. Foster babe #1 and Foster babe #2 finally settled down and went to bed. I collapsed on the couch to spend some quality time with children #1,2 & 3 but found myself abandoned and watching American Idol and 16 and Pregnant (great show for discussion). At 10:40 I shooed #2 and 3 off to bed and, to my pleasant surprise, child #1 came to do her living room chore without being asked, begged, threatened or bribed!

When Child #1 headed to bed I headed to the kitchen to complete my "province" at a leisurely pace. I made some more cleaner, scrubbed everything down, wiped down the fridge, counter and island until they all smiled back at me. I was on such a role I decided to wash the windows on the french doors. I could clearly see the fingerprints were on the other side of the door, but what I didn't see were a multitude of BUGS! They were clinging to my window plotting how to get in AND I HELPED THEM!!! A big swarm zoomed in before I could close the door and next thing I know I'm playing sniper with window cleaner against these strange looking, loud buzzing, bugs.

But my kitchen is clean! Since I wake up first I'll be able to smile at in the morning before it gets smeared with jam and peanut butter or eggs that accidentally miss the pan. There's just something so satisfying about a clean kitchen:)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Can't Do Everything!

I heard a mom of 6 say the other day "I can't do everything..." when speaking to one of her sons. I don't know what the conversation was about, but those words are close to my heart :) When I think about it, that quote is true. I can try to be the best Proverbs 31 woman that I can be. I can try to go to bed late and get up early to tend the needs of my family. I can try to find a field and buy it (as long as it only costs $.45). I can try to clothe my family in purple and scarlet (which would work well for the boys, they get lots of scrapes and into lots of things so it would help hide the blood and berry juice!). I can try to provide for my servant girls...if they ever arrive. I can try to do all of these things and run myself completely ragged. The bottom line is, if I am trying to do all of these things in my own strength I CAN'T DO IT! It won't work! But God can do everything. It is only the Lord who can give me the strength to endure, and enjoy it, for the long haul. He can accomplish in each of us what He knows to be most important and most productive.

O Lord help me to stop striving and know that YOU are God:)
P.S. I wouldn't mind the servant girls...if it's Your will...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Will Yield

I have always been a die hard homeschooler. From the beginning I just couldn't imagine sending my children away so someone else could teach them what they thought was important for 6 1/2 hours each day. I couldn't imagine giving up those "a-ha" moments when they broke the code to reading or figured out new math concepts. Okay, so I stated out as a homeschool Nazi requiring the pledge of allegiance and my first kindergartner to memorize ridiculous amounts of history and science...did I mention she was in kindergarten?! I was so afraid of ruining my children. There were so many people with false views of what homeschooling meant and were quick to put me and my family in a box. Or they'd make broad statements about...say it with me...socialization, or lack there of. I've encouraged many families to homeschool over the years. I think it's been one of the greatest things our family has done. Even though my house may not stay clean because my children are always in it...even though I will probably be sleep deprived until I meet my Lord...even though there are daily conflicts and I have to switch hats between mama and Judge Judy, it's all been worth it.

From the beginning I've always told people that while we love homeschooling we take it one year at a time. I said I'd love to homeschool through high school. I said with conviction that we will trust the Lord and His leading no matter what He may call us to, even if He called us to put our children in public school in the middle of Compton. I really almost mostly kinda meant it. It's very easy to say you believe something when there really doesn't seem to be any threat to your ideal.

All of my children are very unique. I have a "gamer", a socialite, a dare devil, an artist, a Tasmanian devil and a musician. I can say with all honesty that I have no idea where the Lord will lead us for the education of each of our children. But I do know, and am learning daily, that whichever direction He leads we must yield. Even if it doesn't make sense or fit into our plans. Even if it gives us that yucky sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs. These lessons may just be the most important life lessons our children learn.

We are at a sort of crossroad right now. Our "musician" seems to be called to something other than what we have gotten comfortable with. It looks like she may, for reasons I can not fully understand, need to go to day school. Not because day school is the more reasonable choice or may offer a better chance to achieve something greater, but simply because it may be what the Lord has for her. It is so hard to yield when all you want to do is keep holding on to your little girl's hand. But if God is asking me to release her hand so she can hold on to His more securely how can I possibly argue that?

Before we became Orthodox we were lead on a similar path by our "socialite":) I attended the church with her and though I was NOT in agreement with it I saw that there was something about it that brought her closer to Christ. I didn't understand that either, yet I was compelled to allow her to go to that church with friends. I had no idea at the time what kind of impact that would later have on our whole family, but even if we had not become Orthodox it still would have been the right thing to allow her to go if it were essential for her salvation. I have that same feeling now.

I have no idea where this will lead. Sometimes the Lord opens a door so we can walk through it and sometimes He opens a door so that we can receive His strength NOT to walk through. Who can know the ways of the Lord? But we can trust that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. We can KNOW that He who began a good work in us WILL be faithful to complete it. And we can say with confidence (with a dash of Holy fear) not my will but Thine be done.

Oh Lord my God may we never waiver in following You! Amen!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Best Momma's Day Ever

It started out like most Sundays do, with Momma waking up 6 children who REALLY don't want to wake up for Church. I pulled off blankets and bounced little people on their beds and grudgingly they rose. My one consolation was the smiling baby who'd been up before anyone else:)

Church was lovely with Walmart donating flowers they'd forgotten in the back fridge and could no longer sell. Each momma at least got flowers. My wonderful husband had to work but for some reason this Sunday that fact made me feel a little pouty. I went to take the baby to her visit with her bio mom and finding the visit canceled went to a store instead to "make my own fun". I ended up purchasing a stove top popcorn popper with a stir handle. Once again I sacrificed my own pleasure to buy something the whole family could enjoy even though I wasn't appreciated. The fact that I like popcorn more than almost any other snack was pure coincidence. Sure my children had plans for something later that evening, but my own husband hadn't even called to wish me a happy Mother's Day! (do you hear violins or is that just me?!)

When I got back home I found my children anxiously awaiting Daddy's return from work. Apparently my 14 year old daughter had concocted a plan to bless me, but at that point I was too busy entertaining my self pity to notice what was really going on. Self pity is a very time consuming guest! Finally my husband arrived at home and that's when the blessings began. My five year old son ran outside to the crab apple tree and picked two giant fist fulls of blossoms. He came in to show me his lovely treasure, which I thanked him for, then proceeded to start tossing the blossoms into the air shouting "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!" over and over. He looked at my astonished face and quickly said "Well, Fr. Andrew did it at Pascha!" and tossed the last petals all over the living room floor.

Next, my lovely daughter had planned for Daddy to take me to the movies and then she and the other children prepared dinner and dessert, set the table with an actual table cloth and lovely fine...uh...styrofoam plates and flowers. We even came home to my eldest daughter washing the dishes. The night finished with my 12 year old daughter preforming interpretive dance to "sad piano music" she'd found on youtube. She was very graceful. I was completely exhausted by the time it was all over and collapsed into bed. I looked at my cell phone and saw there was a text message I'd missed that morning. It was from my wonderful husband! He'd texted, instead of calling, me first thing in the morning so as not to wake the children. "Happy Mother's Day! I appreciate everything you do..." I felt like such a heel! I pulled my undeserving self out of bed and went to my charming, handsome, thoughtful husband and repented.

My family had SO kindly arisen and called me blessed by their acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. Mother's Day isn't about my children or husband remembering me. It isn't about getting flowers or receiving a card or even a night out for "faithful" service. It's a day for me thinking about me...but not in the way you may think. I have to remember why I am so blessed to be a mother. Why I get up early and stay up late trying to accomplish all there is to accomplish for 1 husband, 6 children (plus one foster babe), 22 chickens, 1 cat, 3 dogs, 9 fruit trees and a pitiful struggling little garden. I have to recognize myself God's amazing blessing of children and the high calling of motherhood. Each day I can accept God's grace and mercy in my life and pass that on to my family I am happy turning each day into a Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This Is NOT a Hill Worth Dying On

My 7 year old, for some unknown reason, came into the room with his hands in the air and stated "it's not a hill worth dying on". It made me chuckle at first because this is something I say often, and no one else was awake for him to be making that comment to. Whenever there are arguments between sibling over things like who used the brush last or someone "stoled" my shoes, I tell the kids that it's not worth it. Sometimes they come up with all sorts of outrageous stories to avoid having to forgive their "neighbor". My favorite was one of my sons who was SURE that his sisters were secretly getting up in the middle of the night to play XBOX so they could get ahead of him in the game. There was no room in his rationale for any other options such as age and experience giving them an advantage over him. He was willing to die on that hill even though it was completely illogical. Dying on every single hill makes it near impossible to successfully interact with ones own family let alone anyone else in the free world. Carrying an arsenal around with you wherever you go is too heavy a burden and gets you on edge before a battle even presents itself. But if they can learn to enter each situation with the white flag of peace and be willing to negotiate a reasonable treaty, they will have the skills to interact with confidence and overcome or avoid many land mines. And there are many many many landmines in this world! One will working with or against another...everyone wants their own way:)

Now I do try to show them that there ARE hills worth dying on. If they are being challenged morally, yes that is a hill worth dying on. If someone is trying to force them to do something harmful, foolish or illegal I absolutely encourage them to take that stand, pull out that arsenal and push the "enemy" back, or at least dig a foxhole and wait for reinforcements. Our world history has shown us that there are things that were literally and figuratively worth dying for. The freedoms we enjoy today were purchased by the blood or reputations of others.

I'm so blessed when my children apply what I'm trying to teach them to their lives and make it their own. At the same time I'm reminded of the power of my words and my example. They're going to apply what I do and say. They're watching, always watching. They'll call me on my inconsistencies and if I'm a wise mama I'll listen. I too have to choose which hills to die on in parenting. Some days it seems like there is an ambush waiting on every single hill and mound of dirt. But I must keep my arsenal put away and carry my own flag of peace. I have to remember I'm not approaching an enemy but rather an ally who is not in agreement with my interpretation of the rules of war. When we're at that negotiation table I do have to listen to the input that soldier has so we can work together on a reasonable solution. We are, after all, fighting the same war on the same side.

May the Lord grant His peace today as we climb each hill and may we only fight the battles that will bring our little allies new wisdom so they will be able to be successful, wise, humble and kind warriors when they grow up.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Mother's Day is approaching. This is the time of year we are supposed to thank our mother's for their impact on our lives. We're supposed to take one day out of the year to rise up and call them blessed. My momma did so much with us when I was little. She had a wonderfully positive influence on my creativity and left me with unique memories I want to create with my children.

It's one thing the thank my momma for giving me life and a whole other thing to accept that from my own children. As undeserving as I feel of any praise they might muster for the occasion, I do have a few things to say about the life I've chosen.

There is a picture of me, floating around somewhere, at the age of four sleeping on a fold out bed in Washington DC with a doll under my shirt. I'd fallen asleep nursing, you see. For as longs as I can remember I've wanted to be a momma. I had other ambitions as well including being the lead singer in a band, going to UCSC to major in psychology, getting my BA in early childhood education, being married to Nikki Sixx from Motle Crue (I'm so embarrassed!), going to Africa to be a missionary (Now THAT'S a contrast from Nikki Sixx!!!) and being a traveling teacher to missionary kids. I've accomplished most of what I had desired but in a way I never realized could be so rewarding (and in a way that, PRAISE THE LORD, did NOT include Nikki Sixx:)

As a mother I have gotten my degree in psychology as I've worked with everyone from toddler to teen and in between. I work full time as an early childhood educator and teacher. I haven't gone to Africa, but I listen to African music with my 14 year old:)I have been the lead singer as I've sung them to sleep while holding them (the teens aren't so into that anymore, LOL!) And while I haven't been a teacher to missionary kids Our home has been home to 20 children so far, not counting the first three from my belly. In addition I have been a professional "home chef", housekeeper, chauffeur, coach, interpreter (ahhh, the toddler years:) And the teen years for that matter!), personal shopper, nurse, seamstress, home herbalist, music instructor, editor of many a paper, project manager, administrative assistant, detective, goof ball, laundress and cheerleader. I think there's more but my brain is going numb just thinking about it all:)

I'm so thankful for my children. Without them there'd be no mother's day:) Yes, there'd be more nights of undisturbed sleep and finishing thoughts and phone conversations. Perhaps I'd hear more birds chirping and be able to drink in the beauty of God's creation. But the light I see in their eyes when I do happen to do the right things and catch them in their "moments of glory"...There's no sunset can compare to the faces and heart and love they lavish on me or bird song more beautiful than being called mommy by my children. If I couldn't sleep one more night or finish one more thoug....oh look at the pretty lights, they're so spaaahhhhkly!...ahem...I mean finish one more thought or conversation on the phone I would, and do, count it my privilege to hold this post Christ has given to me.

Now they key is to remember all of that during the day time when they sound like european police sirens as they say mommy mommy mommy over and over again:)

Many blessings and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The "Why" Stage

The pipes started leaking last Monday. I thought my youngest son had peed on the floor, since that's what he told his 7 year old brother...and because that's not quite out of his system yet. He got down on his knees and smelled the floor to prove it was not pee. He made me get down and smell it too. To my surprise (and delight) I found it was not pee! But as I straightened up I saw water streaming down the basement wall and a bulge like a water balloon in the ceiling. It turns out whoever put in the pipes used outdoor sprinkler pipe. Not even as strong as PVC. The plumber the bank hired to fix a leak prior to our purchase of the home neglected to point this out to us.

Last Wednesday the little car got sick. It started running a fever which we thought we could remedy with a dose or two of coolant. It got me home, but Saturday the "fever" came back and so there it sits next to the driveway...this illness seems to be fatal.

There are times in life when it seems one bad thing happens after another. The handle for the sliding door to our van falls off. The cold water doesn't work on the Northern part of our house because of the plumbing difficulties. The dogs have gotten just tall enough to grab things out of the trash and leave shredded paper towels and bits of packaging from our defrosted chicken legs all over the kitchen and living room which of course causes a bit of a tummy upset for the poor dears who graciously leave a "deposit" near the bathroom for us to clean up at our earliest convenience. The van's check engine light laughs at me each time I get in and try to start her (no really, I'm sure I've at least heard snickering!).

My oldest son asked me today why all of these things were happening. Why were the cars breaking and why didn't anyone warn us about the issues with the house and why can't Grandma be out here yet and why do these things have to happen now and interfere with some of the things we hoped to be able to afford to do during the summer?! In addition to his "why's" I have my own about why certain people in my family keep doing those THINGS that drive me nuts. Why can't little boys be CONstructive? Why do teens have to be so hormonal? Why do there have to be SO many appointments to drive everyone to in order for them to have the chance to be productive members of society. It seems logical at this point to find a nice quiet dark closet, curl up into the fetal position and start sucking my thumb while humming a lullaby over and over again.

But there are SO many blessings to be found in all the chaos. Things could be much much worse. I had my 9 year old son watch a video about Nick Vujicic (type his name in on youtube! He's amazing). This man was born with no arms and no legs. He's basically just a trunk with a head. He can't wipe his own nose and he'll never be able to hug someone he loves or hold his own child if he ever marries. Yet, this many has amazing joy! If he can have joy in his present situation certainly we can be joyful in ours.

We watched a movie this evening about Fr. Damien a Catholic priest who was missionary to an island of leapers in Hawaii. He went and served faithfully without support from government or Church who had written all of these poor people off. He struggled to serve these people with so little and evenutally contracted leaprosy himself and STILL served. If he can, by the grace and strength given him by Christ, minister to the sick and the poor surely God can also give us the grace to endure the "hardships" we face.

"Why do all of these things have to happen?" was the original question. "Why not" is my response. Why does any good thing happen? Why do the flowers bloom each spring? Why do we have warm beds to sleep in and food to eat each day? Why are we healthy and able to work and play? Why is there laughter? By the grace of God we are being sustained every moment. Each positive thing that happens is a small miracle and blessing from our Lord in this dark world. These good things are possible because He first loved us...because the Bible tells us so:)...because on the sixth day God created us and said we were good...because He trampled down death by death and bestowed life upon those of us in bondage.

So the pipes, they'll get fixed. The cars...either the Lord will provide alternative transportation, fix it Himself (carpentry can't be THAT different from car mechanic:) or we'll be spending a lot more quality time together. The boys will continue to be boys and we'll have lots of memories to laugh about...later:) In the years ahead we won't remember the pipes or cars or appointments but we will have, hopefully, the fruit of perseverance and love for one another. We'll have funny stories. We'll have each other and the memory that the Lord of all creation helped us not only make it through, but allowed us to learn to be compassionate towards those in much more challenging situations.

James 1:3-4 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The 10k of Childhood

I think I've said this already, but I really like the toddler stage over the teen stage. I'm trying to embrace each new stage of development each of my children goes through, but sometimes it's hard to hug a porcupine. We discovered at a young child's amusement/animal park that porcupines don't throw their quills when in danger, as all the cartoons show. And if you can pet them in the right direction their quills are quite harmless. So it is with teens. They threaten to "throw their quills" and they put on a very believable show but they still need to be approached and hugged and cuddled quills and all.

I was faced, this morning, with a dilemma. One of my daughters had dressed for church in something that wasn't quite appropriate. It wasn't risque, but it wasn't quite church attire. When I told her to go put on leggings she got a little huffy and, in fact, got a bit smart with me. I found myself apologizing to her and then stopped myself. I wanted to express myself correctly here. Could this possibly be one of those moments? Those wonderfully teachable moments? I explained that I was sorry that she was disappointed about having to alter her outfit, but I wasn't sorry for the rules we have in our home.
Nope. It wasn't one of those moments after all. She was still frustrated and twerpie. She still stomped to her room and, being the passive aggressive person that she is, changed her outfit in a huff but not her attitdue.

I tend to second guess myself a lot, especially with my oldest daughter and oldest son. I'm going through all of this the first time with each of them. My eldest daughter is my first try as a mom, my poor little guinea pig. When challenges present themselves in her life or she feels the need to test the boundaries it's really often with a song and a prayer...or a yelp and a prayer, that we proceed down that dark scary parenting ally way. Sometimes there are dead ends and the methods we've chosen don't work. Other times it opens up unexpectedly into the patio of a nice little bistro we didn't know existed. You'd think it would be easier with our oldest son, given the vast experience we've obtained from our eldest child. But no! He's a completely different creature who thinks and feels and processes things so totally opposite of what we've come to consider the "norm" in our home. You see, the younger girls have learned much of what not to do and which buttons not to push from watching the interactions between us and our eldest daughter. Our eldest son, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be reading the same play book and has concluded the rules don't apply to him. Then the two younger boys...if I can call them boys, they're more like little crazy destructive monkeys, haven't reached that developmental stage that helps them notice or acknowledge the world around them yet. They're still running into walls and trying to see if they can fly by jumping out of trees while flapping bits of cardboard they've tied to their arms.

But there must be rules. I've seen too many parents lose the respect of their children because there weren't rules. They were too busy trying to be their buddy. There have also been the parents whose rules are so constricting that the children break away from the family simply because they're searching for oxygen! There has to be a balance and I can't say with any certainty that I've reached it, but that is my goal. It's like tightrope walking over dog poop. It's an extreme challenge to begin with and when you fall it really stinks! Don't get me wrong. I want to be friends with my children. I want them to talk to me when they have struggles and tell me their dreams. I want them to know we can just hang out. But I also want them to feel the security of the boundaries. They test them over and over (AND OVER) again, but we try to keep them in place. We offer opportunities to express themselves if they don't agree with one of the rules or if they have more information that could lessen their sentence.

I don't know where I'm going with this. Perhaps this is just a note to myself to "just keep swimming" as Dori would say (I so relate to that blue fish!). It's all been worth it and with my oldest children that finish line is quickly approaching. I hope when they finish their race in our household they will feel energized and ready to take on whatever the Lord has for them. I hope they will understand that sticking to our house rules required perseverance on our part a s well. It's tough to jump those hurdles of inconsistency, let me tell you! But through faith, with trust (and a little pixie dust...ahem...where did that little Peter Pan moment come from?!) perhaps we'll run through that finish line together. If not, at least we can be there to give them the Gatorade and orange slices before they begin that marathon of adulthood. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Praise the Who?!

I just received a voice message from a lovely new friend. It was a bit over the top as she praised my ability as a woman, a mother, foster mother and person in general. She expressed what an extreme honor it was just to sit next to me at a training and that it was an almost "spiritual" experience for her! I was glad it was a message because I would have hated to seem ungrateful as a giggled my way through the message knowing what mistakes I've made just today that would catapult me right off of that pedestal she has me sitting on.

It's funny, as a foster mother I get all sorts of praise from people I've never met before. When they find out we foster babies, and not just babies, mostly drug exposed babies...well I'm suddenly right there next to Mother Theresa (no offense Mother Theresa). I'm a: saint, angel, blessing, strong woman, amazing, uniquely qualified mom. They way they talk it's a wonder I've not won Mother of the Year or the Nobel Peace Prize!

I am truly not deserving of such praise. Even those like Mother Theresa, as a recent example, or most Saints throughout history, are well aware of their wretchedness and their great need for Christ. I am aware of my many many faults. I spend too much time doing this or that. I yell sometimes. I ignore other times. I put off or push away. I get angry and frustrated. I let things go around the house even when I do have the time to take care of it. Any good that might be seen in me is ONLY by the grace of our Lord.

Man is not and can not be "good" in and of himself. We certainly do not want to pity ourselves or beat ourselves up for our fallen state. We don't want to give in to false humility and place prideful expectations on ourselves that we won't be able to meet. Neither do we want to try and live up to the opinions and expectations expressed in the multitude of parenting books, seminars, videos etc. that are out there. I've often gotten frustrated with myself because I couldn't live up some expectation I'd created for myself after reading some wonderful parenting book. It's usually a great book full of inspiring examples of how to do correctly all the things I'm currently doing wrong :) Now I'm not saying those books can't be useful tools, but the methods used in most of them were unique to that specific family and may or may not meet the needs of the children the Lord has placed in my care. In fact, they may add more stress and chaos if the Lord is not first sought to bring light to the situations we face in our homes.

When Mary the Mother of Jesus went to see Elizabeth and Elizabeth praised her she didn't shrink back and tell her to stop. Of course she was carrying the God of all creation in her womb, but she praised herself. She declared that yes, she was blessed among women, ALL women! Our calling to motherhood is a high calling and we should be seeking to do our best and train our children well. Our society, in my flawed opinion, makes it very hard to keep from being a "yo-yo mom" with all the new information and research out there to support new methods. In past generations there seemed to be more of a "standard practice", at least on the surface, that households across the nation knew to be acceptable. Of course there were lots of children who felt unloved or without purpose leading to the great rebellion of the 60's, but with this smorgasbord society we live in now, it's very challenging to know what the heck we're supposed to do.

Now when someone compliments me on the job I'm doing I can, and should, say Thank You, always acknowledging God's amazing grace which is responsible for anything I attempt that works out well. I should accept kind words and take them in for the edification of my soul. But those kind words should serve two purposes in our lives and hearts. It is important to have kind words to lift us up, but they should also ALWAYS bring us back to our knees in Praise to our Lord for His mercy and as a new opportunity to seek His direction for the specific child or children He has place in our homes. That posture of kneeling also encourages the humbling of our hearts and is a confession of our lowly state so we can continue to receive His grace and strength for the journey. If ever I receive praise, may it be with thanksgiving to the One who has enabled me to stand.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's NOT You :)

Just a quick note. I received a phone message today from someone who sounded a little sad on the machine. I was concerned when there was a second sad sounding message on my cell phone. I quickly called the person back and asked what was wrong. The answer? "Were you talking about me in your longsuffering blog?". Hopefully I'm remembering wrong, but I think I laughed out loud:) If you are reading this and I haven't talked to you in person about any kind of "challenge" then it's not you:) But I'd love your prayers that I might be diligent in seeking the Lord for help in keeping a quiet mouth and a heart open to Him.

Many many blessings

Mean Green Cleaning Machine

Hopefully I'm not too mean as I bark orders...ahem...I mean encourage my daughters as we clean together:)

I was motivated by a friend's blog when she talked about how she makes her own laundry detergent. I also make my own and I've been inspired to try my hand at making other home cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items myself. So far I've made laundry detergent, body soap, skin cream and salve,dishwasher detergent, tooth paste (that one still makes me shudder!), glass cleaner, wood polish, stove top degreaser and multipurpose cleaner. Some have worked and some REALLY haven't.

I thought I was doing well with some of my cleaners but when I had the privilege of having someone come in and clean my house for a few weeks I found they were able, through their GREEN cleaning agents, to make my stove look brand new and my granite island sparkle. When I used my cleaning solutions things definitely looked clean but dull. I know! I feel like one of those cleaning commercials but feel it is my moral responsibility to share my discoveries.

Vinegar is not just for salad dressing anymore! I use vinegar for a multitude of cleaning projects. When I used only vinegar and water my tile floors and granite still looked dull, then I had an idea:) I added a little olive oil to the mix and found it sparkled without leaving a greasy film. Adding that little bit of olive oil gave my stove top that NEW STOVE look. And adding a little bit of a citrus essential oil (or lavender or...) helps keep the strong vinegar smell to a minimum. So this cleaner was perfect for all my appliances, tile and granite. (My cost: $.45 Store cost: $6.95)

Oil and Essential Oil: I found putting olive oil and some lemon essential oil in a atomizer (finer mist spray bottle) was just like lemon pledge for dusting. I just spray a little on a paper towel and go to work. It works wonders. (My cost: $.75 Store cost: $4.95)

Glass Cleaner: rubbing alcohol and water makes this a great glass cleaner. Again, I add essential oil (grapefruit maybe??) just because I like that smell:) (My cost $.15
Store cost: $2.95)

All Purpose Cleaner: A mixture of grapefruit seed extract (GSE), borax powder, baking soda, lemon essential oil and liquid castile soap in's amazing! It's a great spot cleaner on my light color carpet, bleaches the blueberry smoothie stains on my cupboards, makes the toilet shine and is perfect for disinfecting all the door knobs and light switches. The grapefruit seed extract was shown in studies to be even more effective than bleach in fighting germs/bacteria. (My cost: $.30 Store cost: 5.95)

Deodorant: I started with a spray version which wasn't powerful enough for full day coverage. Then I tried making a stick deodorant by making a basic salve recipe but adding a little more beeswax to help it hold its shape in the twist up deodorant container. This worked better but not as much in the hot summer months. Finally I added some baking soda for absorption and it works great, summer time too! It's not an antiperspirant, but it at the end of the day we don't stink. (My cost: $1.50, or about 50 cents if I clean and reuse deodorant containers, Store cost (a "green" brand) $4.50)

Dish washing detergent: I tried a few methods with borax and baking soda...too filmy. I tried my multi-purpose worked "ok" but left a residue in my dishwasher, if not on the dishes. I tried just vinegar and it just didn't work. So I've settled for, and been very pleased with, these dishwasher tablets by Method. They work very well. It only serves me to make my own if I can make something as good or better than those other cleaning/hygiene products.

Toothpaste is another one I've had to search for instead of making it myself. I just CAN'T handle the taste of baking soda no matter how much peppermint oil or xylitol I use to help the taste! (BUY THE STORE BRAND! But, if you can stand it, it's only about $.25 per batch as opposed to $4.95 for a "green" brand)

Soap has been easy to make with just a few ingredients and the ability to be gentle enough for cleaning my little sensitive skinned baby or my...uh...manly smelling husband at the end of the day. I learned through a video called Homestead Blessings-The Art of Soap Making which is now available on Netflix. Very simple and very inexpensive. (My Cost: $.50 per bar, Store cost for "homemade" soap $3-$5 per bar)

So what I've learned is:
1. It only saves money if your family will actually USE the homemade version.
2. Some things really are better from the store :)
3. It really is possible to make big contributions to your home
4. It definitely requires an initial investment...learning to buy in bulk makes a big difference.
5. It's fun and a great skill to pass on to my children for their future homes :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love, Joy, Peace, LONGSUFFERING...

It's been all of 12 hours (12 hours, 13 minutes and 32 seconds to be exact...feeling kind of "Monk"-ish) since I asked the Lord to help me in a challenging relationship. It's like going through withdrawals not to gripe and complain and find someone to sympathize with me. By staying quiet (slow to speak...I think that's in the Bible) I find I am much more inclined to ask God to get me through each moment.

When they translated the Bible into more modern versions they really messed up when they listed patience as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Patience makes me think of short term endurance. Longer than a sprint but shorter than a marathon or even a spiritual 10k. Older versions translate that word as LONGSUFFERING! That is a much more accurate statement! And when you endeavor to "suffer long" you have to meditate upon Matthew 7:4-5 as well...the "plank" passage. It is so easy to fall (or willingly step) into self pity which is self-righteousness with a makeover. If we're not focusing on purifying ourselves through prayer, repentance and true humility how can we ever expect to be able to truly suffer long in our own strength? We might become stubborn and force ourselves to least to say the right words, but the fruit will be withered and of no eternal value. But when we ask the Lord to hold the mirror so He can direct us in removing our own plank He will also be faithful to place a bandage of grace (I know, it wasn't listed in the Armor of the Lord list) on our injured eye which improves our vision so we can effectively pray for that friend or loved one or situation that is such a challenge.

It's still hard and I just know there will be some "faking it 'til I make it" as many a successful recovering addict has had to do. And being such a verbal person too! Ugh! But, may the Lord find me teachable and may I be a willing student of His grace and mercy. :) (12 hours 41 minutes and 57 second...only an eternity of trusting my Lord to go:)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just A Moment

I just had one of those moments. You know, THOSE moments when God gives you the tiniest glimpse into the souls of your children. You see, for a fleeting moment, the amazing gifts, potential and character they possess. It's a little peek that is not clouded by all the training and second guessing we do as parents. We see, as God sees, for that moment their real selves. Perhaps even the selves they have no idea exists inside of them. The selves with propensity to love, create, touch the heart of Christ. That self which is selfless and open to the purposes of God's heart specific to each of them. And then it's gone and fades so fast we wonder if we really did have that moment at all.

I am always so blessed when I get to behold that moment. When I get the chance to almost see the inner workings of my child's mind. But somehow the inspiration I receive at that moment to work with them and inspire them to be their best selves...that moment slips through my fingers and I return to the training and tripping and sometimes blind/generic encouragement as I try to direct them towards Christ. Their transformation ceases and they return to their normal quirky selves:)

Oh Lord may I remember those moments. They must be given for a reason, if only to help me reset my thinking. If only to give me a glimpse of what You see so that I may humble myself enough to get out of Your way when they hear your call. Thank You Lord for those moments, and may I return each moment to You. Amen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Popcorn Trees

When I was little someone told me that heaven was the best thing you could imagine but even better. Well, as a little girl the best thing I could imagine was popcorn trees. Keep in mind, this was before microwaves and the most technologically advanced way of making popcorn was the, often faulty yet always magical, jiffy pop. For me that finish line I was running toward meant I'd be eternally blessed with the presence of my Lord and unlimited popcorn.

I also remember being at Mount Hermon's Ponderosa Lodge when it was new and fresh. A man there was also talking about when Jesus came back we'd meet Him in the air and Jesus would be on a white horse. I pictured a majestic Pegasus swooping down to meet me as my own heavenly horse brought me up to ride at the side of my Lord as we headed into battle against the enemy of man's soul.

The faith of a child is precious yet fragile at times. They are hit so hard when tragedy strikes because they're still under the impression that life is fair and people are always good. Sometimes we fail to take the time to embrace their little hearts (yes teens have little hearts too) and help them along to a better understanding of the unfortunate evils of the world and, most importantly, the amazing limitless grace of Christ. Sometimes we show them that grace by simply holding their little limp "faith" in our hands and saying nothing. At those moments I find they have so much to teach me, though I'm often too busy talking and trying to "solve" the dilemma to be aware of what I could be learning. They just take the Lord at His word. Can you imagine? If you became a Christian as a child you may have fleeting memories of that innocent faith. If the Bible said it, it was true. If Jesus said "when two or more are gathered in My Name..." then of course it would be done according to His word. They are fragile little beings, but sometimes their faith is vastly stronger than the adults who are supposed to be teaching them.

A friend from our California Church family ended his life this past Tuesday. It was shocking!!!! Because he was mentally ill he was given an Orthodox funeral. Now, in the Orthodox Church Easter didn't end Easter Sunday. We continue to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord up through the celebration of Pentecost singing "Christ is Risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tomb bestowing life". Because this young man's life ended during this season of celebration he received a "Paschal" funeral. The choir sang, nearly FOUR THOUSAND times, "Christ is risen from the dead..." Each person was reminded over and over again of Christ's sacrifice, even...maybe especially... for those hurt so badly by this fallen world, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well (there was no mental illness in the garden). Each time the declaration of our risen Lord is sung I am reminded of His great mercy and grace. I am reminded of His tender heart toward His little lost and hurting sheep. My dear friend's granddaughter came over to her and said "Don't you cry for [him] grandma, he's in heaven with all the cats and dogs and people." Even when this precious little 4 year old saw him in the coffin (yes, death is a part of life) she remarked "That's not even him! He's not even there anymore". While the grown-ups were busy asking the "why"s this little girl was confident in her Lord and His mercy toward us. May we all have ears to hear!

I may not have faith the size of a mustard seed, let alone a popcorn kernel, but I do know the race is worth running and God's mercy is real. And my Lord may not be riding a Pegasus when I go to meet Him in the air, but He will be and was and is the conqueror of the enemy truly trampling down death but His death and upon those in the tomb, in bondage, in slavery to sin, graciously bestowing life. May we be renewed by the power of His blood. Amen!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Most Dangerous House on the Block

We have a lovely new friend who lives down the street with her 5 year old son. Our sons always ask to play with each other and are beyond excited when we finally manage to arrange our schedules for a play date. But when you put two five year old adhd, accident prone, impulse control-challenged BOYS together a whole new world of adventure opens up to you. In this ONE day I heard screaming in the front yard because the dogs were jumping on the neighbor boy while he refused to remove himself from the situation, loud complaints because my 5 year old sprayed him with the hose (which, of course, my 5 year old claimed was warranted since the neighbor boy TOUCHED him with wet hands), cries for help as he was "trapped" on the other side of the gate at the stairs, shouts of "there's blood, there's blood" because he punctured his hand on a random piece of glass on the back porch. I ran in terror as I was informed the two five year olds were heading, unaccompanied, to his house two doors down along a street where people regularly drive 65 mph! Then after one final attempt of FORCING this play date to happen I hear crying at the front door and open it only to behold this same neighbor child holding his head and stomach complaining that Micah had hit him (which, again, was warranted because...blah blah blah-plus lots of loud protests as he marched himself down the hall). I was done. I sent my 5 year old to bed and attempted to walk the neighbor boy home by chasing after him with the only shoe of his I could find while he cried "MAMA MAMA MAMA!" all the way home. I felt like the worst mom and host in the world!

As I walked quickly behind the neighbor boy, planning how I'd rescue him from a speeding car if needed, the two moms beheld each other with sheepish looks assuming the fault lay on our own sons. I comforted her by telling her that they are simply insane little humans that we have to try and keep alive until they're 18. She asked if I ever swore at my children, admitting that sometimes it just got that challenging. I thought with a little sliver of pride how thankful I was that I do not swear at my children, but that sliver turned to dust when I had to admit I'd lectured them to the point of a pre-coma like state. I'd ranted and guilt tripped them until they cried just to make sure they realized...whatever it was I was trying to get them to realize. Yes, I've been unfair at times in my parenting too.

I assured my neighbor that we do have two very busy, slightly emotional and very dominant boys that will continue to try and be friends even if one ends up in a cast by the time we're done with it all :) By the time I got home and had explained to my husband what had happened everything in the heart of my 5 year old was fine. At dinner I asked if he and the neighbor boy were friends and without hesitation he emphatically exclaimed "of course we are!". Isn't that just boys? They come, they fight, they draw blood and in the end it's all in a day's work like Wile Coyote and the Sheep Dog Ralf in Loony Toons...nothing personal. They clock in, beat each other to a pulp and clock out. All the while us poor moms slowly develop that "mom of boys" twitch that only other moms of boys can detect. If my 5 year old ever grows up and becomes a professional athlete and does the "Hi Mom!" shout out on national television I'll consider it just pay for those twitches, even if it is his dad that throws the ball with him in the back yard hour after hour :) May God bless (AND PROTECT) our little boys!