Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To Jocelyn on Her 4th Birthday

I had to post twice in the same day because I didn't want your birthday to go by without dedicating a post to you. You are my special first child. I marvel every day that you have been in our lives for only four short years. I can't imagine a day without you. You are always reminding me of things, "Mom, did you bring your cell phone?" "Mom, did you get Carson a drink?" and a million other things that I so often forget. You are my big helper.I was unloading the dishwasher the other day and you just came up and started putting the silverware away. I know you won't always see helping me as a fun thing, chores will soon become...chores.But I am thankful for sharing these tasks with you now.

I love how you love your brother. "Mom, when we get home I am going to pull Carson in the laundry basket." You are always so sweet when he is insistent on hugging/kissing/patting you. You have never been a jealous big sister. You love caring for him. It is wonderful to see the bond that you share.

I am so pleased that you are learning how to read. I was delighted when you wrote your name for the first time a couple of weeks ago! It is a joy to see you learning. It is hard to believe that you knows all your colors, how to count and you are memorizing so many sweet Awana verses. I love hearing you say,"All Your words are true.". You love reading the Bible and you never forget to pray at mealtimes. You started our family tradition of holding hands during prayer. It is hard to be mad at someone when you are holding their hands...it is a sweet reminder.

There are many days, and sometimes even many times during a day, when you can frustrate me. But, I think that reflects more on me than you:) But, every day I am so thankful for the precious gift God gave me in my Josie Posie. Happy Birthday, Jocelyn.
Love, Mommy

Craigslist and Christmas

vI am a Craigslist junkie. I troll it like I am going to find a hidden treasure any day now. I also look at everything. The stranger the ad title the more likely I am to look at it. I have only recently discovered the "want" section and as I am trying to rid myself of all excess household goods, I pore over that one the most thoroughly. Just in case someone might remind me of something I want to get rid of. Because I look at them so carefully I have become aware of a trend. People ask for a lot of weird stuff, but I can't believe the number of people who ask for a helping hand.

Now I know, because I said myself at first, "How do we know these aren't just lazy/greedy/incompetent people looking for a hand-out?" The answer: we don't. But as my mom and I have concluded, it doesn't matter. I am not anyone's Holy Spirit. What I give in a spirit of generosity I do not have to account for. I am called to give to those in need. I don't have to qualify their need. I don't need a ten step application for donating food, clothes or anything else to someone who asks for it. If I give the weary-looking tattered guy on the street corner $5 and he spends it on booze, that is between him and God. But if I tell him to be warm and well-fed and give him a cheeky grin...well the Bible is obvious about how God feels about that!

So, the question is: what to do? My heart was breaking driving down the highway Sunday noticing all the homeless shelters along the water. In our weather it is cold in my house, much less in a shanty made of tarp. Also, there was a heart breaking post on Craigslist from a military family who needed food for the weekend. Guy said he had four kids and some financial problems and aid wasn't available on Saturdays and Sundays. I know what we make. It is a very real possibility that someone at Joel's rank with four kids would be in a tight spot. A couple that I know just recently decided that the husband should join the reserves to gain access to healthcare. They are struggling to make ends meet and their child has ongoing health problems. You don't even have to be looking to find people who need help!

So, what to do, besides feel helpless and hopeless? What does what I give actually mean? Well, I truly believe that my pittance turns into abundance in the hands of the Lord. So, I give: cans of soup, shoe boxes, outgrown clothes. I give my time, and I become emotionally invested. I cry when I see the woman holding a sign that says she has kids she needs to feed. I don't try to evaluate whether or not she is "needy". I allow it to break my heart, that no matter her economic status, that she has been reduced to a place where she feels it is more profitable to do that than anything else. I can't resist a Salvation Army bell-ringer. My Christmas tradition is to never pass one without putting something in.

Most of all I pray. That I won't judge, that I will be open. That I will be like Jesus. I can't take care of every homeless person. I can't answer every Craigslist ad. However, I can try to make the spirit of Christmas, which is the grace that come through Christ Jesus, last all year long. And if nothing else, I can let it motivate me to be thankful. Because I know the Reason for the Season and He has promised to supply all my needs according to His glorious riches...and maybe along the way I can let Him use me to supply someone else's.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Sewing Story

"Oh Lord, You have searched me and know me, You know when I sit and when I rise, You perceive my thoughts from afar. You hem me in behind and before, You have laid Your hand upon me." -from Psalm 139

The Lord has heard a lot from me lately. It all started with some photos. I was editing some pictures of the kids when I realized Carson's eye was looking odd. Instead of a black spot where his pupil was (or even a red one) that area was milky and cloudy looking. I probably would have just thought it was because I don't have a top-of-the-line camera. Probably, except I had just read an article about retinoblastoma. In the article the little girl's eye cancer had been diagnosed through a photo-her eye looked just like Carson's did. And she had to have it removed in order to save her life.

I am not a WebMD mom. Having a dad who is a doctor has taught me that the easiest answer is usually the best one. 99.9% of things we think are fatal, aren't. I did not want to be guilty of Munchausen's by proxy! However, when I showed the photos to Joel, he didn't just call me crazy. So, since Carson's 18 month check-up was already scheduled we decided to wait and ask the peditrician.

He didn't tell us we were crazy, either. He scheduled a referral with the opthamologist. Not what we wanted to hear. The opthamologist didn't think there was anything wrong-until he saw the photos. Then he worried us by setting up an immediate return appointment.

Let's just say I have driven myself crazy for the last week with all the possibilities. Could it be true that my delightful,busy little boy was deathly ill? I kept petitioning the Lord, "Give me strength, but most of all keep my baby safe." This verse kept coming back to me. He hems me in. He was there at the beginning and He, He alone, will be there to complete what He has begun. He is on the other side of everything.

I would love to say that I have been completely calm, peaceful and sane. Joel would be glad to tell you otherwise. However, every time my emotions threatened to gain the upper hand the Holy Spirit gently reminded me who was hemming me in.

So today, we went back to the opthamologist. The original doctor throughly examined him. A second doctor came in to look everything over. They dilated his eyes and glared ridiculously bright lights in them, much to Carson's dismay. And then, blessed relief. He is fine! Then the doctor told us that he didn't want to say, but after viewing the photos he had felt there was a very real possibility that Carson had a tumor. We hadn't been imagining the image-and it could have been very life-threatening. The doctor was very glad that had not been the case. How does he think we felt?!

Oh, Lord, You have searched me. I am glad that today was not the day when I was found in need of a serious trial. I am so thankful for my healthy family. I know that the Lord is perfect in all He does. He makes no mistakes. I can only praise Him for not choosing our family at this time. Let me be worthy. I can see the Father carefully examining all the seams in my life, checking them for durability, putting in stitches where some are broken or missing. He started the stitching and He isn't about to give up in the middle of the project. He keeps all the threads in place, and I am so grateful. But most of all I am thankful that He is always on the other side, hemming me in.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Musings on Motherhood

Being the mom sometimes is not the most fun when:

-you are the only one to replace the toilet paper.
-you are scraping tooth paste off the shower curtain
-you fold a whole load of laundry, leave the room for two seconds, and return to it all on the floor
-you find a cup of "chunky" milk
-you are the only one who can hear a child crying between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am
-you never get to eat anything that is not room temperature
-"relaxing" is trying to watch tv, talk on the phone, and surf the 'net while waiting for a load of laundry to dry
-cracking a book equates to a siren song, drawing your kids to you from wherever they are at

"Somedays peanuts, somedays shells", my grandmother says. Today was sort of a shell day. Sometimes I wish that I had the money to pay someone to take on all the not fun parts of motherhood. Like turning the socks right side out before washing them. Or pouring the water out of the clean sippy cups from the dishwasher (doesn't matter how I load them, they still turn upside down and fill with water). Or reassembling the fruit puzzle for the 5,283rd time-today! However, I must say-before all of you comment (okay, I wish!) with silly cliches such as, "you will be sad when they are bigger", that I do love my kids. More than life. Sometimes, though like tonight, I must say that I will not be sorry when I no longer am forced to eat cold spaghetti. I just think that no mom of older kids, or grown ones, ever says to herself, "Boy, I really miss pulling Polly Pocket shoes out of my vacuum cleaner..." People who say things like that need a dose of reality...or an opportunity to scrape Pop-Tart off their carpet.I will miss the hugs, the kisses, the adorable stick figure drawings, the funny faces and cute sayings. But I won't miss cleaning gum out of my trash can...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lent Came a Little Late This Year

So, I realized that I had a little shopping problem. My answer: a fast. I know, it seems kind of funny to fast buying clothes but I wanted something kind of dramatic. I think I have the cutest kids ever, so of course, they deserve the cutest clothes. Well, they don't have to have quite so many. My sister is always so generous to hand down all her daughter's things to Josie. Carson has picked up things from Gideyon and Mark both. And of course, Grammy adds to the supply! So it is not like they ever "need" anything (besides shoes, which they both outgrow at an alarming rate!). Also, I have a tendency to "reward" myself by buying new things for me. So, I decided, before it turned into a clinical dilemma to do something about it. Hence, the clothes fast. For the last 2 1/2 weeks I haven't purchased one item of clothing. Not a shirt, pair of pants, jacket, dress, not even a sock! It has been good. It has helped me to realize that we have more than enough. It has helped me to be a little more creative with my own wardrobe. I was especially tempted weekend before last because I was attending PWOC conference and I love to have a reason to get something new! I am sure I personally could make use of some new things, since I only have two pairs of jeans that look decent. But, it is making me realize that I use the word "need" far too loosely! The kids, of course, are doing just fine. Carson has no snowpants, but thankfully it hasn't really snowed. Jocelyn, if she stayed the same size, would be fine for a few more years. (Okay, okay, so she is so much more fun to shop for than Carson! Matching hairthings, cute dresses, fun colors...)

Anyway, I still have another week and some to go. My fast officially ends on Friday, November 13th. But, already it has taught me something important. Just because it is a "steal", and trust me thanks to my mom's fine tutelage I find plenty of those, doesn't mean I have to purchase it. Sometimes it is better to make use of what you already have and be thankful that the Lord is so gracious.It feels good to "just say no!" sometimes. Trust me, my budget has certainly appreciated the reprieve...


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