Monday, May 31, 2010

Just a quick...

Happy Memorial Day to all of our troops. Today we remember our war dead and all those who serve/served. Thanks to my brother, Mark; my BIL, Jim; my FIL, John; and my all time favorite Marine, Dad...the one and only Ed Brennan.
John is getting more and more use to idea of being a man of retirement. While he is down for the count today, he took his wife out this weekend to trip the light fantastic! He was a dancing fool! I may recover someday from the bump he gave me across the dance floor.
Mom use to always say that while dancing with the man you love may be wonderful, make sure you marry the guy you can talk with over coffee...looks like I get to have both! Hmmm, that may be a blog post after all!
God bless all, and God bless America.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ode to the odd redheads...

I am all things red. I can prove it is all natural, but not in polite company so you will all just have to take my word for it.
While I am sure there are great stories about the world's greatest redheads, my mind is too shot to remember them tonight.
We redheads do all things in an odd way medically~~~Since that is where my brain is, that is what I am going to write about...besides, it's my blog, I can do that!
~~~~We bruise easier, heal slower and feel pain more deeply. Pain meds wear off of us quicker...maybe that is the penchant so many of the Irish have for the drink: they need more to feel it. Whatever.

We also react oddly to normal reactions. When I get poison ivy, I only get it on my face...does not matter if I touched it with my hand, it goes right to my face...pretty, very pretty.
I took a Zyrtec yesterday, per doctor's orders. I slept for the most part of the 24 hours the Zyrtec was good for. I will remember that, should I ever have to fly to Australia!

The fog has lifted enough to write for a moment or two. I have had incredible pain the last four shingles with out the rash. Maybe it's a reaction to the Cipro I was on, maybe it's Lyme again, no idea.
But I am not good at pain. When I had surgery several years ago I remember going to sleep and thinking it was okay if I didn't wake up. I figured He would take care of the kids and about drama queen over here! But I am lousy at pain. I can do all kinds of hardships, but please, no pain.
As I drifted off last night, my prayer was "what do you need me to learn here? How can I serve you in this? And please, make it go away...please, please, please." Out cold.

This morning, I remembered the last time I had an odd reaction to something.
In the summer of '06 I got poison ivy for the first time in 20 plus years. Yes, face only. I went to the doc's and he said, "You want something for that?" Funny doc, now write the script for the predisnone and send me on my way.
I went home took that miracle awful drug...I had no idea what I was in for.
Somewhere, in the tiny print of a PDR (physician's desk reference) is a paragraph about "rare" side effects from prednisone. I am sure I learned this in nursing school...but when your a nurse, you hand out prednisone like a pezz dispenser. Yes, long term, I've seen some of the bad things that can happen like the moon face and the hump back. But short term use, nope, never saw a thing in real life.

Until I was the unfortunate patient.

I was sure at about day three of a 10 day prescription that I had cracked. IT had been a rough year, perhaps I had earned a nervous breakdown. I could handle the short temper, but the rather bizarre dreams and anxiety were about more then a girl could bear.
On about day seven I went to bed in tears. What could possibly be wrong with me? What in the world is going on?
At about three in the morning, I am sure the Holy Spirit woke me up. Prednisone psychosis came to my mind. I ran to the computer and Googled. Yes, prednisone psychosis. It was a real thing. I prayed for healing and I was delivered from that bizarre and "rare" side effect immediately. I ran to the bedroom and woke up John and declared: "I am not crazy! I'm psychotic!" Yes, he still makes fun of me today.

The following day, when the kids left for school, I was alone, sitting on the pool deck. I wrote in my prayer journal the following:
"Seriously Lord. Prednisone psychosis? Do you have any idea how rare that is? The doc isn't even going to believe me on this one. What in the world was that about? What could I possibly have to learn from that? Seriously?"

I wont' tell you that I was mad at God, but I sure was bewildered. "All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His good purpose." Okay, what in the world was the purpose in this?
I was sharing the horror with my friend "Sue" later that day. She was sympathetic. I was still shaken.
About a week later, "Sue" got poison ivy over every inch of her good redheaded self. Same doc, prescribed the same prednisone.
She wound up in the hospital on all sorts of phychotropic meds...and she did not let go of the fact that "Maryellen said...prednisone psychosis..." It took everything she had to get the docs to listen to her and it was another doctor all together that told her she was a classic case of prednisone psychosis.
Hearing the symptoms from me, kept her from going over that psychotic edge.

Answer given, now I knew why.

Does the Lord allow us to go through hard times so that we can help someone else who will go through it later. I guess He does. While I hate being in pain, I have to admit, I am watching. I am listening. I know that nothing is for nothing. And yeah, I kind of can't wait to see what He is teaching me or someone else. What is even more amazing is that it almost does not matter if I have an answer...He knows what He is about and I have learned to trust Him.
The joy of the Lord is my strength...and that is not exclusive to us is available to the greys, blonds and brunettes too!

Would you believe my middlest daughter woke up looking like her mother did with a full case of PI on Friday morning? UGH! Needless to say, we did not go with prednisone. Gallons of Benadryl for the child and hopeful that it will clear soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Breaking up is so very hard to do...

No, this is not an announcement. But I do have to say that I am thanking God that John will be gainfully employed after retirement. A dear friend speaks about her husband retiring in the '80's and the lunches she has made the man ever since...can you imagine that kind of togetherness? No? Good. Let's be friends...LOL! I adore spending time with's just hard to do my jobs when he is here because we wind up chatting and get nothing done.

Okay, now that we have clarified what it is not, let's discuss what it is.

I am of the mindset that breaking up with our girlfriends is way harder on a woman then breaking up with any guy ever was. This is not a hint to any of my friends who may be reading the blog, just so you know! Now if you are a guy reading this...prepare for some insight into our warped and beautiful minds!

What brings this all up?

I saw an old friend from a distance. Once upon a time I would have gladly shared all the news of the book, the blog, the job, the husband's retirement...all of it. But we broke up. It was a rather silent break up. I am not even sure she wanted to break up. But broke up, we did.

There is something rather raw in the end of a friendship. There just is an intimacy between woman that we don't share with our men...Nothing French mind you, rather a closeness of the soul. Just as, the old saying goes, no one can pinpoint the exact moment a friendship began, most don't know the moment a friendship begins to end.

Even my Annie and I have had our share of breakups...if you don't have an Annie, you really must get one! She was my Maid of Honor, is god-mother to the kids, and all around, been~around~forever bestie. The only break up that I can remember that involved a right hook and a Christmas tree is one we no longer discuss...but we always got back together and we have been around way longer then even the men in our lives.

God knows I have had my share of girlfriend break ups...way more then I want to discuss. For my part I let God know that I was done making new friends. I think I let him know that after a pretty rough season when John and I found out who our friends were, who they were not, who was situational, and who was long term. Some friends left our lives and came back again, some left for the woman I saw. Some breaks are not just a good idea, they are ordained.

At that time, I let God know that I was never letting another friend in my life. I was done.

Enter Miss Sarah. She is my son's best friend's mom. Sarah made her way into my heart in the parking lot of our son's school. One morning at a time, one topic at a time, she made her way into my heart for good. She is one of the best life-long friends I have ever known. We spend every morning together over coffee for at least a half hour as our days get going in our own kitchens.

But long before I made that declaration of independence, God gave me one a few years earlier. I was lonely. I wanted someone to spend the days with.

You see, I am a Lucy and Ethel kind of girl. I love having a partner in crime. I like to have someone to grocery shop with and to solve all of the worlds problems with, right before we create more problems.

One day in prayer I had the sense that God wanted to discuss this issue with me.

"Am I your I am?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Is my grace sufficient for you?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Am I enough?"

"Yes...Lord. Yes."

"Then stop looking for your Ethel. I will supply all of your needs." (NOTE: Don't go reading too much into that one. No, I do not suppose that God is my Ethel, that would mean He was married to Fred and that would be way weirder then the rest of the conversation.)

Wow. I was not suppose to look for a partner in crime? I was suppose to look to Him to meet me, in the kitchen, to go grocery shopping with? To sit and chat in the mornings?

That began one of the most intensive seasons of one to One with my Jesus that I have ever had. He grew me in His Word in ways I never knew were possible. During that time, there were still friends but not the Johnathon and David ones that I longed for.
I had met my God in the recess of my heart and discovered that I was truly highly favored, adored, preferred and set apart. His was the only nod of the head I needed. It was when I began to play to an audience of One.
Something happens to a girl when her self~worth is found in Her God and not in friendships anylonger. He made me whole again, like He created me in the first place.
I am blessed with friendship with some of the most amazing woman the world has to offer. Some have been around for decades now. Some are newer. Some of them have let me grow up and some I have had to let grow up.
I prayed for that old friend I saw. I often do. When I drive past her street or where she works I always pray for her well being. We won't be friends again, but I pray her the best.

"Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.' " Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. " (1 Samuel 20:42)

I'll skip the maggots...

Monday morning again.
When everyone is out the door, I have to sit down and handle the bills. How to rob Peter to pay Paul with out Peter pressing charges against me is the game I will play today.
I know God's word says that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then it is for a rich man to enter Heaven...but I've asked God to let me give it a shot. I am up for the challenge!
Have you ever noticed how much of God's word is about His provision? A lot...I could go look it up but you probably already know it's a lot.
From the very beginning our God provided. No, I know where I am going with this, so I won't harbor back to A&E on this but let's go back to Moses at least.
God had just finished rescuing the good folks out of Egypt and they were hungry and they grumbled...can you relate?
Sure they might not have been slaves, but they were hungry. Man, if there is one area of provision I worry about the most it is the grocery cart. The mortgage always gets paid, the fuel bill always gets paid and the car payment always gets paid...some months the grocery bill is the only one that has any stretch to it. But I don't want to have to be creative in the supermarket all the time. What, when I have a rotten cold or the kids are sick or there is a snow storm? I can't just fudge it through to Monday to shop. Fudging the groceries with a couple of quick trips to the Shopright or ordering a pizza can stop up the cash flow rather quickly around here. I have to be "game on" with that grocery budget no matter the circumstances.
And sometimes, I just don't want to be. How is that for honest?
I want some darn quail with my manna.
I love that the manna could only last for a day. According to one commentary I read (don't ask me where. Somewhere online is all I can tell you.) manna is translated from one Hebrew word 'mawn" meaning, "what is it"? So for forty years the Hebrew people ate, "what is it"? that landed on the front stoop of their tents each morning.
What's for breakfast? What is it?
What's for lunch? What is it?
What's for dinner? Quail. Yes, quail. Have you ever seen one of those huge quails out in the woods? No, me neither, but I have seen them on the side of the parkway and looked up pictures online. HUGE! MEATY! FAT! Now that is my kind of dinner!
From what I can gather, they gathered the quail at night and the manna in the morning. But they had just enough for each day and could not keep it to the next. No hoarding (less the Sabbath and then they got to keep an extra portion for the next day) was allowed.
In my heart, I try so hard not to hoard one paycheck to the next. I know my God will provide...and while I may not have maggots in my food supply, I think it is possible to develop them in my heart, metaphorically speaking of course.
When I plan and maneuver the finances around, when I think I have outsmarted the system, I am almost always wrong. I have to literally lay down the paycheck and grocery cart before the Lord, ask Him to cover it and all of my mistakes in His Precious Blood. Otherwise, it will rot and be eaten by the worms of my own sin.
Yeah, I'll skip the maggots and trust in Him to provide my daily's all He gave me permission to ask for anyway.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Parenting and kidding...

Oy, if I new then, what I know now...yes, we all say such things. But honestly, if I knew then, what I know now!

To be honest I am a total newbie in the teen department. My two oldest are 14 and 13 respectfully and both in deep dutch with their mother at the moment.

Now babies, let us chat for hours on the subject. I know the "spacely-sprocket" cry means they are mad as heck and everyone is going to know about it. I know what diapers are the cheapest and that wipes, not pee, cause diaper rash.

I can Macgyver my way through potty training and the fact that they cannot yet read CS Lewis at the end of Kindergarten is of no concern to me at all.

Yes, the boy of the family has had to teach me a few things that his sisters didn't. Things like make sure "it's" tucked in when you zipper up those once piece feety pajamas...Yes, I know. Ouch.

On the whole, I can get from birth to teen with my eyes shut.

But the whole teen world is still a mystery to me. All I have to draw on is me...oy.

John and I had to put down the law about the social life for these wonderful girls...and they are wonderful, just well they have never been teens anymore then we have been parent's of teens.

I could rant for the next hour on my oldest teen, given that her sister just blew it too...and her younger tweeny sister blew it earlier in the week too.

But it just occurred to me, the details don't matter.

The reason there was chaos in our home last night was because my children were out of order.
The bottom line is that they need to remember that Mom and Dad are management and while they may be organized and unionized, all decisions still get cleared through us.

Is a 14 year old, too old for mommy to be involved in planning her play dates...yes and no. Yes, she gets to choose who she wants to spend time with. But I am still the social worker who clears the other parents. I am still the Bank of Mom who finances her social life. I am also still the Department of Transportation. I am also in charge of net neutrality in their lives as well as their very own cell phone tower.

I want to bless them with good things. I want to give them their Independence. I also want to stand before God someday and be able to say I taught them well in the ways of the Lord. I want to be able to say that I did not provoke them to wrath. But how does one not provoke them?

And I may be wrong...remember I am the newbie here too...but I think it is in making sure they understand what "is" is and what it is not. I have seen the most amazing ability of my children to misinterpret my meaning.

Once when Liz was about 2 1/2 she had gotten in trouble for some baby hate crime she has committed in my bedroom. I don't even remember what it was. After I had sent her to her room, I went in, sat on her bed and gave her a hug. I told her that mommy had been very angry with her for what she had done, but that I was wrong to yell at her.
"I am sorry I lost my temper."

The next day I found her in my bedroom looking under the bed, the dresser, in the closet.
"Liz, what are you doing?"
"I am looking for your temper. You said you lost it in here. I wanted to help you find it."
After a big hug, I assured her she would find it again someday!

Just because she isn't two anymore does not mean she always understands what I mean. The children's union does need things spelled out and specific for them. While we may understand what we mean by "clean up your room" kids often need a more direct direction. How frustrating it must be to think you worked hard on something only be told you did it wrong. Maybe just being more specific and being a part of the process is part of the answer. And prayer, a lot of prayer!

So, for the moment my little work force is busy cleaning the house. They have very specific directions to follow. I am about to go work on that over grown gardens again. Order is restored for the moment...just for the moment.

"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:21


Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth."

What a beginning!

I knew a pastor once who told a group of us that when he was preaching, if he lost his train of thought, he always went back to Adam and Eve and went from there.
Well this morning, I've lost my train of thought so many times it is amazing I made it to my keyboard at all. So I decided to go back to the very beginning.
....and then I walked away and met the Lord in the Word. I read a verse and actually got to prayer over it. Look at what He showed me:

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us.” Deuteronomy 29:29

And now I know why my brain is racing so badly: It is full of fruit!

There are things that God puts on our hearts and we are called to pray about them. Sometimes He calls us to pray for someone and we don't know why. He does not need to tell us all of the details in order for us to be in prayer. God is not in the business of The Enquirer.

I posted awhile ago about "Being in the know" and how much we all love it to some degree or another. But God didn't leave me there on it. I love how faithful He is to me. He didn't just reveal a truth and leave me there to figure it out all the way to the end.
As I was having a hard time putting words on the keyboard. Again, like yesterday, it all felt contrived. Well, I thought, I have a cold, two of the kids are home sick, John is getting read to leave one job and start another, the bills are do and there is strife in Iran...
In other words, life is pretty normal for us. There is always something going on. Heck, because something is always going on, I always have something to write about!

And then I rememberd a conversaion I had with someone the other day after my post about the broken chain. I got a whole lot more information then I needed. I've thought about the conversation several times. I mentioned it all to John. I have played in my head how things might work out...I have pictured it and marinated on it like it was my own. But it's not. There was no intent of malice or gossip in the conversation...but it still gave me information I should not have about things I should not know about.

You see, the only thing I am responsible for are the ones that HE puts on my heart. Just because I have found something out, either by looking for it or by the gossip of another, does not mean I am suppose to go after that situation.

That has been rather the problem from that beginning as we read about in Genesis. Adam and Eve had it all, everything they could possibly need but that rotten serpent convinced Eve she was missing out on something and she ate that darn fruit from the tree of knowledge...tree of knowledge.
It put an end to everything and is the reason we live in the fallen world we do today. When we get ourselves a big old fruit salad of knowledge and try to peak into the secret places of God, we got our selves a heap of trouble.
I realized my brain was busy marinating on things that I know about but have no involvement in. They are essentially non of my bees-wax. But my brain and my soul have not communicated over it all. So I have not been able to think evidenced by this post!
There is a silly old children's hymn that says "Be careful little ears what you hear for the Father up above is looking down in love, oh be careful little ears what you hear." It holds true for seeing as well.
Think about the worst horror movie you have ever seen. You just did, didn't you? You can't get those pictures off your brain. You can't erase it. It is already on the tape. Now you may not "look at it" or even intentionally think about it, but it does color how you think about things...forever.

The same is true for un~needed information. When God calls us to pray, he does not always tell us all the whys or whens of it. He does not need to...He is God. He knows how much information to make us responsible for and how much our soul cannot stand also.

So I got to writing and I am not sure if it will edify anyone today, but I hope it does.

For my part, I dumped the fruit of knowledge today and asked for a little more from the tree of Wisdom. I got to go before the Lord and ask Him, what do I need to know in order to pray and to show me what is from that fruit bowl.

"Reveal the fruit bowl of my sin, Oh Lord."

In the meantime I am going to continue to eavesdrop on my two youngest children while Jack answers Maggie's question about why vomit is wet.
Have a blessed weekend all!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Groceries, bills and a rotton cold...

...and a case of writer's block. Everything I start to write today feels rather contrived. So I am off to pray, pay bills, sneeze and grocery shop. Maybe the Lord will stop the flow of my nose and open my imagination! Be blessed dear ones!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Lord, my chain is broken"

I remember years ago, reading a story of a little boy, in the Depression, who's job it was to deliver bread. The money he earned would be used by his family to help support them. Maybe he made all of a quarter a day to deliver the bread.

One night in the middle of a terrible storm, he still had several deliveries to make before going home. The rain was driving at him sideways as he rode his bike along the cobblestone streets of the city. A car drove by splashing through a huge muddy puddle that drenched him to his is bones and sent him into the curb. He jumped off the bike to inspect the loaves of bread and they were still dry. Thank God, he thought. If he could not deliver the bread dry, he would not get paid.

When he went to move the bike again, the peddles just started to rotate but did not propel him at all. He looked down and saw his chain was broken. He got off the bike and tried to fix the chain, as the rain continued to drench him. But it was broken beyond repair. At this point the boy sat down on the curb and cried. He didn't pray, he didn't say a word. His spirit was as broken as that chain.

Finally he looked over at his bike and saw a miracle. The chain was repaired and the bike was suddenly ready to be ridden! He jumped on that bike and made all of his deliveries in record time. He would still get paid and not lose his job after all!

After returning to the bakery for his pay he headed home on the bike. As the rain continued to pour down on him, he parked his bike on the small stoop of his parent's home. He opened the front door and just then heard a clank...he walked away from the door to his bike, where the chain dangled, broken just as it had before.

He looked up and prayed out loud, "Thank You."

You see God knew the measure of faith that little boy had. He knew if He did not step in, the brokenness of the little boy would be beyond repair. That broken chain was way more then then that little boy could handle.

God's word tells us that there is no temptation that has seized us except that which is common to man and when we are tempted, God always gives us a way out. That verse is where someone came up with the idea that God never gives us more then we can handle...Yeah, right. I am sorry, but I firmly believe that sentence has sent more believers into a guilt trip of self loathing then any other. Honestly? He never gives us more then we can handle? No.

Let's look at the verse itself:

New Living Translation (©2007)
1 Corinthians 10:13
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."

Now I know that the alcoholic sitting in the bar with friends may be tempted to drink or the person addicted to pornography might be tempted to log onto the computer at work and God will deliver them in a "way out". But that is another angle we can play it on for another day.

I think the temptation that is more a daily fight when the hard times hit is to fall into despair~~like the little boy sitting on the curb~~ or to fall into self sufficiency...those are biggies for me anyway.
But let's be honest, the kid was in the midst of "more then he could bear" in this. It was then that God stepped in and performed a miracle. When it was beyond the child's ability to hang on to his last shred of faith, God delivered him from it.

I think the danger we fall into is becoming stiff upper lip believers. While there are times that acting like the Brits in the midst of the blitz is helpful, it is not a way of life.

What of my friends Kim and Aaron and their child Isabelle? Don't tell me that having Belle in the hospital for three months...don't tell me it is not more then they can bear.
Or my friend Jennifer who's husband, Steven, was injured at work more then three years ago and they are still trying to get out from under the financial tsunami that struck their lives.

A person could come to the point of total despair where they can't grasp the fact that God said He would deliver us out of the temptation. He meets us at our need even when he does not deliver us out of our circumstances.

Sometimes, God fixes our chain on the side of a curb in the middle of torrential rains. But think that story through again. Even with the fixed chain, the boy still had to deliver all of that bread in the rain. When he got home and the chain was broken again, he was faced with having to get it fixed or to have to walk his deliveries in the future.
Now God could have delivered him out of the pit of poverty...set his foot in the home of a wealthy benefactor and sent him to live on easy street. But no. God gave the boy what he needed to face the storm of the moment...God gave him a miracle of the moment.
God could give Belle the miracle she needs to run on the beach this summer in Ocean City. He is able. God could give Jennifer and Steve the miracle they need to be on solid financial ground so they can put that pool, that is sitting in their garage, up for their boys. He is able.

So I can't sit back and take the "God never gives us more then we can handle" angle on any of this. It is not written in the Word. He does too allow us more then we can handle. Notice I said allow, not give. God is always good so pain is never FROM Him.
Simply put, we live in a fallen world where the thorn and the thistle do strike us with pain. But harm? No, that is never, ever from God.
My prayer in times of despair?
"My chain is broken Lord."
I don't explain anymore then that. He knows what it means.

So when we are tempted to give in to despair or an "I can do it alone" mindset, He does deliver us out of it...even if it means we still have to deliver the bread in the rain.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sleeping like a single person...

Sleeping is not the problem for me. Oh, I can sleep like no one I know! I sleep like a single person (I don't know what nitwit came up with the whole "sleeping like a baby" thing. Babies wake up every two hours...screaming!) but some days I wake up like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

Last night I was determined to not wake up with a million thoughts going this morning. You know the roll call of things to do and things to worry about: dentists appointments, bills, my mommy/taxi service, bills, retirement, bills, allergies, bills, homework completed, bills, lunches to make, bills, before/after/during school activities, and of course bills.

But just as I have for the last few months, I woke up with the roll playing in my head before I even stumbled to my first cup of coffee. Sigh...

Psalm 23:1-3

"1)The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2)He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3)He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. "

I don't think the Lord wants us to wake up stressing about the day/month/year ahead of us. He did not say:

"He pushes me down on a gravel path beside roaring rapids."

Nope, that is not what He said.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. But wait, the next sentence says He leadeth me besides still waters. How can it be both?

I think the answer is in the next verse: He restoreth my soul before He leads.

You see I don't think it is about being told to nap...although I have taken that interpretation and napped with it!

If the Lord is our Shepherd (our leader, the one we trust) and we are created (made to do so) to lie down (rest) in green pastures (the abundant provision) and be lead by still waters (peaceful and life giving water) then we know He wants desperately to restore our souls and lead us on the path of righteousness. The thing is, He won't give us B unless we do A. That Shepherd of ours has always been a gentleman. He may not make us rest, but He will remind us it is how He made us.

I don't think we were created to lay in that pasture of provision while we worry about the potential for dried out grass up ahead or rapids that lead to a waterfall a mile down river.

Neither can we go to bed with a list on our brains.

For tomorrow, I've already got my alarm set to wake to a hymn. I've got my scripture ready by my bed. You see, I can re-train myself to rest in the Lord because we are created to so. I think He knows that. That is why He reminds us that we were made (created) to rest in green pastures. I can, however, do my part in this relationship I have with the Good Shepherd.

I will let you know how it the meantime, as long as I am up, I will go make lunches for the clan and send them out the door before I tackle the laundry...LOL! Just kidden' ya'! I still don't do that!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 17th...

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

I love May 17th. I have a list of reasons why.

It was my mom's birthday.

It is the day I graduated from high school.

It is the day I took my finale in mother/child nursing.

It is the day my son gave me an appendectomy for mother's day.

But mostly it is because of the House of Grace.

In 1999, my new friend Amy and I went to a Tupperware type of party. As we sat chatting with the other woman about houses and decorating, Amy and I were the only two apartment dwellers. We both wanted real homes. Sigh.

At some point Amy said something about buying a house for $100.00 down...all I could think was that payday was coming and that was a house I could afford!

I told John about it and he was not all that impressed. I had been known to chase down a late night infomercial or two so he didn't put a lot of stock into my latest idea.

In a matter of days, Amy called. While she and her husband had searched for a couple of years in this area, they had never found one of these houses. But then one showed up...they could have jumped on it, but they bounced it over to us. They figured we had three kids in a tiny apartment and they were still with just one at that point....

I drove over to the address they had given us and it was in fact a house. Liz had been praying for a tiny, little, pink house...and sure enough, God answered her prayers.

After weeks and weeks of phone calls and paper work we were ready with a closing date: May 17, 1999.
When I was told the date, I cried. It was like my Abba gave me a nod from Heaven that we were going to be home soon.
The way the closing worked out should have given me a heads up about how crazy our lives would be in that house. There was no room in the court house, so we signed our lives away standing up in the back of the DMV...and the lawyers kept shaking there heads and we just kept laughing at the ridiculousness of it all!
When it was all over, John carried me over the threshold into our new lives...burst pipes, stained carpets, an empty keg refrigerator and all!

Every year on May 17th we had a House of Grace birthday party. We would decorate it with banners outside, wear fancy dinner clothes and have every one's favorite dinner: hot dogs. One year, I went to answer the door in an old bridesmaid gown that was red velvet, in May...yeah, that neighbor didn't ring the bell again!

I brought babies home to that house and said good-bye to my dad from it too.

I had a tug of war, love hate relationship with that house and still do. Did I mention it was very little? We had seven people living in that place and storage was not easy to come by.

...and when we had to move, it broke our hearts.

Since we still owned the house after we moved, we needed a tenant. God provided one. She had three children and no where else to go. Money was tight for her so a local furniture store donated beds and a couch and friends from church donated every thing else.

See why we call it the House of Grace? Caity coined that phrase about the house. Grace means undeserved favor. That house was undeserved favor to our family and the next family. I love how practical His favor has been on us. Yes, we could call it the House of Practical Grace. He saw our need and filled it with abundance.

The family in there now is moving on (we think. They have not signed the new lease) so I have had moments of panic...and then I remember it's His house. Always has been. Instead of being in panic mode, I've decided to rest in the undeserved history of favor God has always shown us...we have a long history to pull on.

By the way, Amy and her husband and their two boys have the most fantastic home now. They built it themselves. I dropped by the other night to pick something up and I gotta tell ya', it blows away any house that I know of. Grace seems to spread around rather nicely!

So far on this May 17th my oldest, Liz, got out of bed on her own this morning...looks like the miracles are going to continue on this date for the Schlusser clan after all!

This song makes me think of our girls and that old house of ours.

Poor white trash

Several years ago, I found a cheap trash can that was painted white and had the word "trash" painted on the side...get it? I got it on sale, so "poor", it's painted white, so "white", and it says it is for trash, so "trash"...ergo..Poor White Trash... PWT!

Oh, come on that's funny. No, not PC, but it still is what it is!

Actually, it is a fear of mine. Do you know that? I hate the idea of being broke, but more so, I hate the idea of anyone thinking I am broke.

My dad grew up in what could truly be called abject poverty. He use to tell the story about his own dad sending him and his two older brothers down to the train tracks in the motherland, AKA, Brooklyn, to gather up coal that had fallen off the trains. He wouldn't do it. He would go to the basements of other apartment buildings and steel the coal.

My mom grew up well off in upstate NY...okay, Yonkers is not upstate but to a guy from Brooklyn it is!

...and they appeared to be the well off couple.

We were just blue collar in truth. Dad was a thief...I mean moving man and mom was a stay at home mom who volunteered her time at everything. My brother and I were in private school our entire lives and we lived in a lovely cape on a quiet street in Yonkers.

I wonder if there were times, when dad would walk up that tree lined street and marvel at where he came from. He never had a driver's license (his thinking was that since he liked a drink or two, he might wind up killing someone with the car. Now there are a million answers to that one, but, right, another post for another day! LOL!) so he took public transportation. He didn't mind it at all. Being a NY-er if there wasn't a train or a bus, there was always a cab.
I mean honestly, to grow up in the cold water flats of Brooklyn to the life he got in Yonkers must have been shocking.

I have looked at my kitchen and marveled myself more then once. Some days every counter if full of junk. I think to myself "I wish I had a bigger kitchen." and then I remember my own grandmother. She use to have corrugated piece of medal that she placed over her double sink and that was what she used for counter space...shut up Mair. In just one and a half generatins, look how we get to live.

So what does all of this have to do with my PWT can?

Labels. We all have them. I happen to like them. I think I might even wear a pair of shoes that don't fit and just swing the bottom of them so people can read the label.

Case in point: I was given a Brooks Brother's camel hair coat...did you read that? Meditate on that for a moment please. Do you have any idea how much I wanted that coat? Do you have any idea how great I made that coat look? I mean honestly, me in a BB camel hair coat? Couldn't you just scream for me? No? Okay, this may not be the right blog for you again!

I wanted to wear it inside out. I wanted to hang the coat over my arm, so that people could read the label on the inside. I wanted to wear it in July to empty the garbage for crying out loud.

I slipped into that coat one Sunday morning to wear it to church...duh. If I am going to show off my labels anywhere, it is in church. Why do you think we wear our Sunday give our best to the Lord is perhaps the answer you may be looking for. But I have to say, I think it is so we can show everyone just how blessed we are by wearing a Brooks Brother's coat! Look how blessed I am!
And blessed I looked that fine winter/spring morning!

What was that? Was that a Still Small Voice? Nope, not listening. My labels are screaming in my ear. Darn it all, that looks just delicious on me!

In the car, the kids chattered. John was at work, so it was just me and the clan heading to service...and I looked fantastic in that coat. Still Small Voice...must be the Maggie I'm hearing.

I took off my BROOKS BROTHER'S coat and hung it over the back of the pew (label side out, of course. Again, duh!) and I sat next to my dear friend who was about to go for a radical mastectomy that week. We hugged and prayed together in that pew. Still Small Voice.

"Are you kidding me Lord? You want me to do what with my BB coat? Nope."

I can't tell you what our pastor was speaking on that day. I have no idea. I was too busy arguing with God about what I knew He was telling me to do.

When the service was over. I told my friend to take off her little green corduroy blazer. She complied. I took my coat and put it on her. It was made for her. She was so gracious and received it in love. She put her corduroy jacket on me and I wore it home with the kids asking where my new coat was. I told them it belonged to my friend now. She actually didn't have a winter coat and while I didn't know that at the time, she needed it more then I did. I have a perfectly good, brand new knock-off one at home.

Now part of me was wishing I had worn the knock off to church that morning and perhaps The Lord would have put it on my heart to give that one away instead. LOL!

All in all, He could not have cared less what the label inside the coat said. He told us that if there is a need and He calls on us to fill it, to obey Him.

So the label on my trash can is what is. The label inside my coat, is what it is. I still like pretty and expensive labels...but the only one God cares about is the one on my heart: Child of the King. That is only one that will ever matter.

Proverbs 22
"A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."

Friday, May 14, 2010

It would seem...

that the link was not quite the hit I had hoped it would be!
Well I think I am suffering from the stress and anxiety diet...lousy diet, but my jeans look fantastic!
Back to all this on Monday lovelies! Enjoy the weekend. We are off in the morning to John's last family day at work. Our son, Jack, is a bit worried that he won't be able to ride in his daddy's police car anymore...ugh. I may have to borrow a few of my friends husbands who remain the boys in blue.
Excuse me while I go feed the stress and anxiety diet for a little while!

Tummy bug...

I sat down to finish writing this morning's post, however, my stomach will not cooperate. So let's make it Link Friday. I pray it blesses someone. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The joys and pains of high school...

I had to ask my husband if there was a statute of limitations on high school criminal activity...he suggested that perhaps one could get herself in trouble for such um, I won' tell any of my stories...let's tell one that I heard of!
I knew a girl in high school who made a fortune selling un-documented cigarettes. She worked in a mom and pop type of supermarket. She just took cartons home with her. She would go to school and keep an inventory of the most popular brands~I seem to remember, I mean, I heard she kept, a lot of Parliaments and Marlborough Lights~stack them in her locker. She would sell them for $1.00 a pack. She had no over head so she could keep the price low. That same girl went to Hawaii on the funds she "earned" that is the entrepreneurial spirit of a future commodities trader!

So why the trip down memory lane? I have been going through some boxes in my closet.
In one of the boxes is my high school journal, or at least it was. That thing needs to be destroyed!

I went to a small, all girl Catholic academy in Weschester. The academic standards were high...I didn't know that at the time. I thought I was just plain stupid, not realizing that if I was, I would not have been there. But that is, like always, another story for another day...and those of us who attended, had parent's who sacrificed to send us there.
...not so sure the sacrifice was worth it. Now don't get me wrong, having grown up in Yonkers, sending your kids to a private school was pretty much the norm, especially on our side of the city.
But there was an assumption that the nuns would keep us in line. After all, it had been the truth for our parent's generation so it would be the truth for us as, right.
No need to go through all of my high school shenanigans...but some of them were just beyond what my parent's could have imagined. The definition of "Good girl/Bad girl" changed somewhere and by the '80's, for the most part, our folks had no idea how bad the good girls could be.
...and now I am the mother of teenage girls. I had more fear of putting my oldest in public school then I can list here. I had even begun homeschooling my oldest at the beginning of her freshman year with the understanding that she could go to a small Christian school come January...
Things didn't go the way I wanted them to. I found myself faced with an angry teenager who was bored and lonely. Bad combination.
When the Lord seemed to close the door on homeschooling, and I had no doubts about it, we registered the kids for school...public school. This is not to say I had no doubts about school, but I had no doubt about God's faithfulness and He confirmed it over and over again that this was the path and we were to walk in it.
I have found myself in prayer daily over these kids of mine. I pray they are blessed in school, I pray they are a blessing to others, I pray that prayer of protection and the angels popping feathers and all that good stuff...
I am also very aware that I have let them out of my bubble and some days I hate it. I want to homeschool and teach them myself...
Instead, I get to be brave.
Each day my kids are salt and light in a darn dark place. My high schooler comes home each day to me and she has often shared about this challenge and that. There is the atheist who challenges her everyday at the lunch table...she has to live out the call to always be ready for a reason for why she believes what she believes. All those verses memorized over just so many years have come in way handy at lunch!
She has challenged (respectfully) her history teacher on our welfare society and her biology teacher on "the bible not being true"...she asked if he could share documentation on that or if it was just his opinion...he-he! In turn she was allowed to do a project on a young earth theory.
She may not convert anyone to her way of thinking but she sure has made several people think about why they believe what they believe.
She has even told a friend or two to put a little bit more clothes on!
Am I thrilled that she actually knows who Lady Gaga is? No more so then our folks were about Madonna. And I do know that things are way worse now then they were when we were kids.

What I am thrilled with is that she has been sharpened. She knows who understands her when she talks. She knows that she often walks those halls alone...she also knows that she is never really alone because the Holy Spirit resides in her. She is way more grounded then I was at that point in my life.
She wants to go to bible college and plans to do missions work. One of her best friends wants the same. They both want to go to India to serve...they have both had it confirmed on thier hearts more then once. Her friend lives in Florida...but thank you Facebook for reuniting two former pre-schoolers!
If you get to homeschool...I envy you the joys and I thank God we still live in a nation that allows for it. I still think it is the best choice. But for now, it is also the one the Lord said no to for us.
If you get to send your kids to a small Christian school...I envy that too. Just watch it. Know that the walls of the school do not mean they are growing in the Lord.
I am proud of my girl and even more so grateful to God for calling me to pray.
Now off to burn that journal and look over some of my pictures from Hawaii!

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." ~ Psalm 19:14

Just read this and had to add it on. Thank God He allows us to grow up!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's not about the rice...

My friend Amy and I have an expression when ever we are analyzing a situation: "It's not about the rice." This comes from a profound moment shared between my darling husband and I.

Since I have already shared that we are not always sunshine and lollipops this story won't shock you, well at least not too much.

When John was promoted a few years back he went to work the steady midnight shift. Five nights a week, he worked from 11pm to 7am. It was the catch 22 of the promotion. You have to work the overnight the first year. When his Captain called to tell him he got the job, I thought about not telling him about the call. I knew we were headed for steady midnights.

I've worked the over night...something odd happens to you. Somewhere around 2 or 3 am, you lose your filter. You no longer have the ability to stop what you are thinking from coming out of your mouth. As a matter of fact, you probably even think what you are saying is appropriate.
Most of my overnights were worked while I was a single woman living alone...the year I worked the overnight, while homeschooling, was quite a challenge. Fortunately, I only worked part time that year. I am pretty sure the kids all have wounds from it! It will be the source of their need for therapy when they get older.

But back to John. He was working that shift, like I said, five days a week, plus whatever overtime came his way.

I like to call it the season of nurturing his inner jerk.

Mostly I treated him like a psych patient. I didn't make sudden moves. I always addressed him while in front of him. No unexpected touches...Eventually I just drugged the poor guy. He would walk in the door at around 9am and I would hand him a Melatonin or two (sometimes I wanted to give him 9!) and send him to bed until 9pm. Some days he was up more, but for the most part it was a long year of single parenting. I spent most weekends telling the children to be quiet because daddy was sleeping...I took little comfort in the fact that at least I was not telling them to be quiet because daddy was sleeping it off.

And to say tensions grew would be an understatement.

One Sunday after church, we decided we would have Chinese for lunch. John was going to run in to get it. I told him I wanted the usual: pork fried rice. That was it. He asked if he could have some. Sure, I don't mind sharing.

When we got home, John sat down with his, I settled the kids with their lunch and I opened my pork fried rice to discover it was not pork fried rice. It was chicken fried rice. I don't like or eat chicken fried rice. John ordered it because he thought it would be nice for a change...

I cried. He offered to go back.

And then I blew...


Now come on, every woman reading this gets what I meant. I don't even really need to explain it except that there might be a guy reading this.

My tears had nothing to do with rice. It was about my missing the guy that went to work one night and came home acting like someone else. That guy who always puts me and the kids first. The guy that would share my pork fried rice out of the same container with me. The guy that would never put his need above ours.

Of course the argument could be made that he was putting us first by working those crazy hours and succeeding in his career. But I didn't want to hear it at that point. I just missed my guy. It was a year of discovering my own insecurities. It always felt like the ground beneath me was shifting. I was shocked at the number of arguments and the resentment I felt towards him. Of course he would tell me at the time, that I blamed all the worlds wrongs on him...duh, of course I did!
But in retrospect, as my own insecurities mounted, so did the perceived hurts. Sometimes real hurts aren't even the point. Perceived ones can be just as painful. So while he nurtured his inner jerk, I gave mine a few pats on the back as well.

The year of steady midnights eventually ended and I cried the day he told me it was over. It was such a long year. John quickly returned to the wonderful guy I had spent all these years with. But we sure learned a lot about who we are in that year.

More then anything I think we realized that when we do have a disagreement over something, it is usually not at what is appearing directly in front of us. There is usually some underlying thing that we have not addressed in the past. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it is about the rice, but most times, it's not.

Living out 1 Cor: 13 was not easy that year and I don't know that I always did...I kept a record of wrongs and I was a bit boastful.

We are getting ready to kiss shift work good bye now. John will be working M-F/9-5...Order restored at last!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Like crack to me...

Diet Pepsi that is. Anyone that knew me before 2002 knew me with my favorite beverage. Two of my best friends from high school and I still talk about going to the park, eating Doritos and drinking DP. I drank gallons of it. When I was a nurse in the early '90's I use to drink out of the new, never used, so don't be grossed out, calibrated urine collectors...they made great cups! And when I was a new mom the DP kept me awake to do the MOM thing.

But I gave up the juice in the spring of 2002. I embraced ice tea and seltzer. Once in a blue moon I would have a glass but I never liked the way I felt afterwards.

I played "One won't hurt me." this past week...It is quite a statement when "I partied hard!" means I drank DP. It all started with a coupon. Come on, it was 38 cents for a 2 liter! So I drank it over the course of a few days...ahhh.


Until I didn't drink it again the next day and I found myself rather cranky. I hate to admit that some of my posts were written in a DP haze...The shame.

Today is my last day of what my kids would call a reaction. Caity is having great fun teasing me about my attitude...Revenge is wrong, right? She needs to sleep sometime.

Have a blessed day dear ones. I have a longer post I am working on but I am heading off to file papers for retirement with my beloved. A sicky child and a truant kindergartner are along for the ride.

1 Corinthians 6:12
"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything."

It's not a train!

Yes, the light at the end of this tunnel is not an on coming train and this is the first time I have been sure of it!
John and I are going to hand in his retirement papers tomorrow. That means in about a month or so he will be retired from the "The Job". After 20 plus years, most of them spent married to me, it is about time the poor guy gets to get out of something!

There is a website some where that talks about things only a cop's wife would hear. I can't remember where it is (hey, you can google too!) but there were some good ones on there.
Things like, "Honey, can you hold my gun in your purse while we go on the rides?" or "Hon, I'am working late, I got stuck with a hooker. Don't wait up." You get the point?

For years I've asked, "How was your day?"
John, "Good."
Kids, "Did you get to tazer anyone?"
John, "Nope, just paper work."
Kids, "Awe Dad, that's all you ever do! That is so boring!"
John, "Yup."
Of course then I would hear on the news all about some big arrest or some horrific accident that I know he was on the scene for and he just never mentioned. Just another day at the "office".

Now, I am sure you have guessed that I had to marry the strong silent type because he would not get a word in anyway!
But that is also just who John is: Family comes first and work is just what he does so he can spend time with his family.
Even when John has considered ministry, family has always come first. We both live by the rule of five in our priorities:
1. God
2. Spouse
3. Kids
4. Work
5. Ministry
There are times the order has changed temporarily, like when there has been a newborn in the house or someone is sick, but on the whole, that is the order of our lives.

Now that the circle of 8-4/4-12 shifts are almost over, I will have to make dinner every night for the first time in our marriage! When the girls were very little, I could get away with yogurt or cheese and crackers for dinner, at least ten nights out of the month! It was wonderful! How I am going to come up with 30+ meals is beyond me!

Last night John and I walked the dog and held hands and smooched behind the school next to our house. We get to daydream about what's next now and know it is around the corner, not in six or eight years from now.

I kept sprinting ahead of him and he kept slowing me down.

John's friend, Dave, calls it the cop walk. John does not walk to get somewhere, he walks through a scene and looks at what is going on, takes it all in. I on the other hand, walk like a girl who's daddy would speed walk through Manhattan with me putting out fifteen paces to his one!

So I slowed down last night and strolled. Nice for a change. I've learned from John that while we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, truly John fears no evil...and both John and God make me brave.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One more mother's day note...

And a note it is. Mom wrote this to me on Micky Mouse paper, in perfect calligraphy. Sitting in a room on a vent, she did have a lot of time on her hands! Thought I would share a few thoughts from mother to child.

A thought for the day.
Hi Mair,
Couldn't resist using the "fun paper" as a reminder of the Joy Over You. Along with the good deep roots, and sound theology, we need to laugh. Who else could create a camel, a giraffe and me but a God with a great sense of humor and a desire to share it!!
A word to share also~ "For God is at work in you who BELIEVE...Indeed you are our pride and our joy!" (Thessalonians 2:13 & 20)
Hang in there, My Girl, with the wisdom of the Spirit to guide you, your direction will be true. I love you, I like you and God and I said a prayer for you!
~Do you know~
He is the Lord~yours & mine!
Love, Mom

PS Happy Mother's day all...enjoy them while you have them. It is lousy when they are gone!
I am off to my garden! See you Monday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's day post...

So mother's day is only a few days from now. Our little ones are getting ready to bless us all with fantastic pieces of art, flowers and breakfast.

I for one have asked to not be made breakfast in bed...PLEASE! I kind of hate breakfast and I would much rather have the kitchen cleaned up after I cook for them.

I miss mine...Mom, I mean. Not that crazy missing like in the first few years, but May always makes me think of my mom.

Mom foolishly went from being Ellen Mary Durkin on May 2, 1964 to Ellen Mary Durkin Brennan. Not that marrying my dad was all that foolish...okay maybe a little, LOL! But Mom's birthday was May 17th. And of course Mother's Day is smack in there as well.
Now think about many gifts did she get jipped out of?

It also makes May my mellow month. While I have children of my own, and I love all of my gifts, and the hugs and no, not the breakfasts, May still makes me a little sad.

I was chatting with my friend Leslie who is about to celebrate her first Mother's day with out her mom...She is just about done with all of the advertisements out there. Yes, there is an overwhelming desire to refer to the advertiser's as mothers of another kind.

No matter how long they are gone, there are dates that just tug at you. Or at least for me there is. I don't think I ever considered what an honor it is to be a daughter when the time was before me. But it was...maybe my girls will get to know that at some point...

In the meantime, I do have a parenting tip for young mothers. Megyn Kelly from Fox News was just sharing how wonderful and amazing new motherhood is. She was saying that all of her parenting tricks run like one or two deep but her own mother, who raised three kids, has tricks that run about eleven or twelve deep. I have one that runs a few pairs deep, pairs of shoes that is...

When I was on baby number three, my darling Brennan ~who is laid up with pneumonia at the moment by the way and thus the blog waited. Why? Did you not read the "Family is not an obstacle to ministry" post? Well scroll down after my tips and read it. Duh!)~ I was talking about Brennan right?...Okay so Brennan would be ready to nurse or take her bottle. Of course I had a wild three-year-old name Liz and a crazy two-year-old named Caity to contend with. I loved having three babies in three years but feeding time in the zoo was just that!

I tried putting on a movie for the girls so they could snuggle close while I nursed...I had read What to Expect...they said curl up with the older kids! Yeah, that never worked. Eventually I would succumb to Rugrats on TV and my girls promptly took it as a their own "How to be a kid" show.

After a few weeks of trying and failing, I discovered, quite by accident the power of the shoe...

While Brennan screamed to be fed and my milk engorged me, I would run to the bedrooms and gather up shoes. Little girly shoes and slippers on top, big John boats, I mean boots on bottom. The basket of shoes would sit on the floor next to me as I began the feeding.
As the zoo/circus act of the girls began, I would gently and kindly tell them nice things like "Now lets not climb on the back of the love seat over there girls. Let's sit nicely and play with our dolly." or "Draw me a picture honey. How was pre-school today? Show me what you did." or "Caity honey, you need to not climb the wall unit honey...honey get down...honey get down...." and then: "WOP!" a little girly slipper would come flying from my free hand at the behind of the somewhat unsuspecting junior aerial artist in training. It would not cause a cry, just five minutes of feeding in peace. I didn't often get to the big daddy boats, I mean boots, but once in a while, a big thump on the floor, made a great point.

Today we take away cell phones and Facebook and social lives, but only when need be. And that is not very often.
Be it shoes or keep away with social all says I love you.
By the way, Mom, I love you too. See you.

PS this post is editing free! I didn't even try to find a scripture about shoes...I just bet there is one!
Sorry, the sick one awaits! Have a great Mother's Day all, if you are one!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

just not feelen' it today...

Happy I mean. Oh, I have a heart of gratitude but today I also have a heavy heart. I want healing for Belle.
As I was preparing for a funk this morning my friend, Louise, reminded me that today is the national day of prayer. Well no wonder I am in a funk.
I feel a little like the rich young man who told Jesus he wanted to be a follower and Jesus told him that he would have to walk away from everything in order to so...that rich young man walked away from Jesus. The bible doesn't tell us if that little Richy Rich guy ever walked back. It is one of those "what is the rest of the story" stories in the Word. We are left to assume that was the end of it.
You see, that rich kid new the price and decided it wasn't worth it.
I said I knew the it is high. But I also know the price of walking away is way higher. Not just the salvation part, the whole life part. His Word promises He will direct our steps...given my penchant for fantastic ideas, I need to know right from left and West from East...
You see when you become a follower, it also means that you become a person of prayer. And when you become a person prayer, there is a price. You really do weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
When you pray, you get to hear from Him! He has things to tell us and if we would just come to our Abba the gifts are beyond compare! To hear from the Creator of the universe? No, there is no greater thrill to know, that you know, that you know, that you have heard from Him.
I think as the Body of Christ we have some who are in the "I'll~set~up~for~the~next~event~Club" and some in the "I~will~direct~traffic~Club" and some in the "I~can~make~a~meal~for~you~Club" and then there is the "Prayer~Club".
It ticks me off.
The Great Commission is to go and tell others about Him...well how in the world are you suppose to do that if you don't ever to talk to the boss and find out who He wants you to talk to?
That one ticks me off in a big way.
The Great Commandment is to love one another...have you ever tried to love someone who is so unlovable that the best thing you can offer them is a punch in the nose? How in the world can you love others in your own strength? How can you live 1 Corinthians 13 if you don't have the power to do so...that power only comes from Him.
Again, ticked.
Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of setter-uppers and meal makers and traffic directors who are also prayers. But somehow, Prayer Warriors are set in a club all to themselves.
Frankly, it ticks me off and harshes my darn mellow.
Prayer is left to those who actually do it. I use to think that everyone who calls themselves a believer was also a prayer...and then I went to church and found out otherwise. In all my life I have seen the most un-Christian behavior from Christians. But then again, I could not call a non-Christian, un~Christian-like. Well how do we judge someone harshly who doesn't know any better? But believers? I try not to judge a baby by grown up standards...but come on Believers, grow up for crying out loud!
We have a nation in crisis from oil spilling in the gulf, to Tennessee under water, to terrorist attacks in the city, to illegal immigrants rioting in the streets...and as a nation we murder the unborn everyday while we beg God to heal another child. As a nation we expect the blessings of Providence even while we turn our back on the Apple of God's eye.
When a Christian nation stops praying and stops seeking His will...not just as a nation but as individuals, we begin to see the personal lives of all people fall apart.
The Word of God tells us that the sun shines and the rain falls on both the good and the wicked alike. As a nation we have got some serious rain going on!
So pray.
Pray for mercy...for our nation, for our church and for our Belle.
Because God is both Just and Merciful. Pray, like you have never prayed before because He asked you too and I for one, won't say no to the Creator of the universe.

"For all flesh is like grass, and the glory of men as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever." (1 Peter 1:24-25)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kim and Facebook and Isabelle

I have no idea what I am talking about here. Lets make that perfectly clear. I have only ever spent one night in the hospital with my son when he gave me an appendectomy for mother’s day in 2006. So long term illness stuff with my children is the stuff of other people’s lives. The closest I can relate is in being my mom’s caregiver…but it was so different in so many ways.
So who am I to even write about, much less have an opinion on the subject of caring for a child with a long term illness? The answer is no one…so my prayer is that I am only to write at the will of my Abba. Let it bless Lord and if not, burn it up. Amen.

I have a new/old friend, Kim. We have become way closer on Facebook then in real life. While our kids have gone to school together and we have occasionally served together at church, we have been more casual friends then friend/friends. Sisters-in-Christ, no doubt, but more friendly then deep. Thanks to the gift of social networking, we have this new relationship that I have come to cherish.
Kim, is a wife and mom, much like me. Her husband is in the same line of work as mine…and that means we live life with crazy hours and it also means choosing not to worry about them, pretty much ever, no matter what is on the news. Kim is a teacher and I am a nurse…I wonder why cops mostly marry teachers or nurses. What is it that makes us so compatible? I have a list of theories on that, but as usual, that will have to be another post for another day. Back to other words we are very much alike in many ways. And yet our worlds are worlds apart in many others.
Kim’s oldest little girl, Isabelle (but I love calling her Belle, as in beautiful), has spent the last several months in the hospital, about 50 plus miles from her home. As Kim has watched with the toughness of a cop’s wife and the tenderness of a mom, Belle has been poked and prodded and prepped for surgery, week after week after week.
I don‘t know that I have ever actually seen her in action but I have the impression that Kim doesn’t panic at what might make a normal mom panic. She seems to know the difference between an emergency and a “normal”. She became something of a Facebook legend when she single handed~ly stopped Storm Troopers from taking over her child’s hospital room…but I think almost any mom can do that one if need be...NOT!
So you see, Kim is not the norm. There, I’ve said it, Kim is not normal in any sense of the word…and yet…
I have a real sense that she would hate the idea of anyone singing her praises. Only she knows if in the quiet of her heart she has had her “Why me God?” moments. Only she knows the resentment that DOES come with being in service and on call every day, all day. Only she knows the guilt that comes from feeling the resentment in the first place. Only Kim knows the ache of not understanding how her child can endure one more day “like this”…
The reason only she knows and the rest of us wonder is because the joy of the Lord is her strength. That joy cannot be duplicated and cannot be understood unless you understand it.
I have to admit that I’ve also started to see some what of a warped sense of humor and I just love it! She has the most awesome and quirky taste in style and again I love it! She is also a size 0...okay, that one makes me a little jealous! But still, it is her grace and humility that makes us look in wonder.
Like I said, I’ve never cared long term for a child…just my parent. And yes, I did it, year after year after year. I also hated it when someone sang my praises because in my heart I knew there was a deep ache to not be doing what I was doing. I wanted normal for both my parents and myself. I can only wonder if Kim feels that way too…The hours of prayer that He said "no" to…and the hearts cry of “why not”? …and the “no” answer for years on end.
So where in lies the purpose in it all? How do we gain understanding on this one? How can it be that the child of Christian parents is suffering so? When the entire body of Christ is in prayer day by day, hour by hour…where is that healing?
I don’t know. I don’t know why children suffer. I also hate it. I wonder what Belle is teaching all of us and Kim and her husband and her sisters especially. I wonder how our God, who promises that what Satan intends for Belle’s, and the entire families, destruction, will ultimately be used for the good of this family. There is a big difference between making believe everything is all right and being all right in Him. That is my prayer for Kim and her family even more then the prayer for healing. And I do pray for swift and immediate healing.

I am close enough, thank you Facebook, to Kim to know that it is not at all easy to spend this kind of time away from her real life. The real life with Belle home in her own bed at night and dinner~~~that Kim gets to make, in her own fabulous kitchen~~~ the one that I really want to drink coffee in and push out her BFF, Staci! The real life with the kids in school and the one where she waits for her husband’s shift to be over so they can both be home at the same time.
I am also close enough to know that the smile is real on Kim’s face. It does not hide the brokenness inside, but like I said, the Joy of the Lord is her strength. That joy is not fake~able. That joy radiates even when you have had more baked ziti then you think you can stand; even as "helpful" family and friend try to play Diagnostic Jeopardy and leave you second guessing everything; even as you over pay for a Motrin in the hospital gift shop; even when you hold the emesis basin again and again and again for your beautiful, aptly named, Belle.
My mom use to call it "a communion of suffering". Our Jesus knows what it is to suffer. Our Father knows the horror of seeing His child suffer. Thanks Kim for the reminder that there is a fellowship in suffering. I am sorry to share in it at all but honored to share in it with you.
Of course if you could gain a dress size or six, I think we would be way closer.

A way better morning here in Schlusserdom...

Yesterday morning was a complete disaster between mother and son. It all started with a kid who didn't want to get up and ended with tears for both of us and a fat lip for me...No, he didn't wallop me, duh. If he had, you would be reading about my prison sentence.
The hows of it all don't really matter but suffice it to say, it was a very bad beginning to the day.
I always pray over Jack in the mornings before he leaves. He and Maggie get their days commissioning as I pray and hug them. The girls don't let me hold them that close anymore but they still get sent off with an "I love you." sometimes there is a "...inspite of yourself" attached to the love, but an "I love you" non-the-less. And while I pray all of these things over and for them all each day, my Jack~time prayer is special...because he won't leave for school with out it.
But what to do when you want to send the kid to the wood shed not to the payer closet? That was my hearts desire for crying out loud. I wanted to use every James Dobson technique and a few Maryellen ones on that kid's behind...
But prayed we did. Pretty much the same one as always where I ask God to cover Jack's words and deeds in the precious blood of Jesus and to again give charge over His angels to protect Jack and that the angel's would press in so tightly that Jack might just see a feather pop it's wing. But yesterday I also had to ask God to forgive us both for being so angry with each other and to heal our hearts.
As he left in tears down our driveway, I hollered my "I love you" after him and got one in response. Darn it all.
That "I love you" is the most important one of the day to me. I hear it and say it through out the day to to and from everyone in the house, to friends on the phone except for Sara...she is just too Indian, despite her White Plains~y~ness, to be so demonstrative in every phone call!
The need to hear those three little words has always been strong. I wrote about it in "House" and how God literally woke my parent's, both of them, out of that end of life coma. Both of them reached back to life, for just a moment, long enough to say "I love you" to me.
But I realized yesterday that some of my "love" isn't so much "love" after all. Sometimes my "I love you" is not based in love but in fear.
I sometimes fall into the fear of something happening to my loved ones while we are apart and I want to make sure they hear it and I hear it one last time before we are a part. I can't tell you how many times I have been at a football practice for my son or a school event with one of the other kids and watched parents say just good-bye to their kids or spouse. I almost want to lunge at them and remind them to kiss good-bye and say that darn "I love you"!
Does anyone else think that maybe this is starting to get a little creepy here? I mean that in the nicest way possible about myself but when does it get to be a co-dependant and over extending gesture in stead of a depth of truth?
I am not sure. I can say that I use to watch older couples out at dinner who were not talking...and it scared me to death. I would think, "Why can't they find anything to talk about????????? Please God, don't let that happen to John and I!" As if I would ever run out of things to say!
But John and I have been known to sit over a cup of coffee and not talk...just enjoy the lack of chatter for a little while. Sometimes not talking is a wonderful gift. You see, I am as secure in that silence as I am in conversation.
It drives me nuts when my kids just say "Bye" when we are on the phone. I want to hear an "I love ya'." or an "I love you too." but it doesn't always happen anymore. I've had to settle for the fact that I may just have to be the say~er instead of the say~ee and accept the fact that they love me, even when they don't say it.
But I don't much like it. So I will rest in knowing they love me even when they are silent...much like I do with our God. Sometimes His Love is so overflowing that I can feel Him say it in my soul...and other times I just have to remember the "I love you" spoken in the gift of the cross so clearly that I can hear the words in my heart from across the ages.
In the meantime, I got to hug on Jack, give him a few extra tickles and thank God for forgiveness as I prayed for those angels to press in so close that he might just get to see a feather pop it's wing...I pray that for you today also.
And in case you don't know it dear readers, I love you...and I will be really grown up if you don't leave a comment saying the same! Well mostly...LOL!

Monday, May 3, 2010

That is not a forest. That's my yard...

We put our bid in on our house about four and a half years ago. It was late October and the tree's were demonstrating their full glory here in the "lovely Hudson Valley". The maples and white birch and the tulip tree showed off all the colors thy had in them as if they were trying to sell the house themselves. Since the house has several large windows, I had immediate images of curling up in front of the fire place in the living room on a crisp fall day with a good book. It was all so enticing...
I had no way of knowing that the rest of that week and the following would be filled with funeral arrangements for my dad. By the time we got back to the house for the inspection, all the leaves had fallen and the landscapers had come and magically blown all of those leaves away. We never gave all those tree leaves and what happens after the show another thought...
Until the following Autumn that is. Glory can those leaves fall! Just a tip...don't buy a house with hundreds of trees around it while in the middle of grief! Just a little tid-bit I like to pass on!
Why the chat about trees today when the temperatures are in the upper 80's and the fire place has already been cleaned out for the season? neck. As in the pain in it.
We have walked a very thin line between woodsy and over grown...the last few years have given way to over grown. And so I spent Saturday cleaning the yard with the kids. I should explain that it was a two year clean up of leaves under the shrubs. You see in October of '08 I was just a busy homeschooling, working- nights kind of mom. There was not time to clean up the yard. In October of '09 I was not a busy homeschooling, working mom...I was in the living room, taking a nap and licking the wounds of boredom. Every scripture I read at that point was about resting in the Lord...and so I did. I rested by napping on the couch and watching Fox news. But my season of "rest" is another topic for another day. Today it is all about the leaves.
Now I should not make it sound like John does not clean up the yard. It just seems that his busyness was related to mine. In '08 he was getting to do all of the jobs I was not and in '09 he was working double because I was not. There was not a lot of time for making the yard all that pretty. Other then grass mowing and the leaves on the lawn, nothing got done.

And so the gardens that look like something out of "Life after people" (have I ever mentioned what a dumb show I think that is? Honestly if there is no one here, why do we care? Again, another post for another day) sit waiting for me to clean them out.
I got under shrubs and removed leaves, I scrubbed bricks that had an inch of moss on them, I removed really, really, really dead plants. I chose to call some weeds decorative plantings and I let the earth reclaim some of the gardens. I have over 180 ft by 5 ft of garden along the path to the front door. That is just the one garden...I cleaned out and mulched the gardens that hug the house. I have not yet tackled the gardens that surround the pool.
The kids and I dragged large branches that had fallen during the storms across the yard in anticipation of the bon fire we will have on John's next day off.
I used the power washer on the stairs and ducked as the mud from all the storms we had in March lunged through the air at me. When I ran to the store later in the day to get some much needed Tylenol I ran into my dear friend Mary from our old neighborhood. She didn't recognize me under all of my mud. I looked a bit like a migrant worker on a lunch break.
...and I am so not done. But today we have glorious rain and so I get to avoid the gardens today! I will pop that Tylenol and use a heating pad on my neck and back while I don't get the laundry done today!
The entire time I was in those gardens cleaning on Saturday I kept humming the hymn, "In the Garden". Now that it is cleaned and out and ready for planting, I can spend my mornings on my bench and meet Him in the Word. I had forgotten how much I missed doing that with Him. Every dead leaf and every inch of mulch became an act of praise in anticipation of my time "In the Garden."
I love that God invites us to join Him in His work. I have a sudden image of Adam and Eve in The Garden with Him. Just imagine that perfect garden. I may have to fight the thistle and the thorn to get to it, but He is with me always, in the garden or in the house or in the car. I have asked for plants for mother's day this year. Maybe I will go out between rain drops and pull a few more of those weeds today. The more weeds I pull, the better my time with Him seems to be. Now that weed pulling might just have to be another post.
Here is that hymn I so adore!