Saturday, July 31, 2010

No beach...

It has always worked out. I call the rental office in Ocean City, NJ at the last minute and they have a place for us, no problem. I have gotten us some great places, once even right on the beach. And we pay almost nothing for it because the owners want the places filled up.
Not this year. For the first time in years the entire island is booked. Ooops.

What of it? Just disappointed. My friend Kim is on her way there now, with her beautiful girls, including Belle who is still so sick and her wonderful husband. About the only thing that keeps my green eyes of jealousy in check is that it is them who are going. I want to see them blessed...but I want to go too...waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

As I wrote about earlier in the week, I am beginning to take "no" more graciously. I am learning not to beg God for what I think is the best answer. I am learning and learning and learning. His will be done, even on the silly things like a vacation to the beach. If we were leaving this morning, there is no way I would have gotten to do my yesterday the way I did.

I got to spend the day with my Lizzy. At 15 she often has her own agenda of people to hang out with so it was a nice treat for me. I took her to get her hair cut at East Coast Salon.
When she told the ladies she was going to cut her elbow length hair to her shoulder they audibly gasped that she was going so drastic! It was a riot.

What got me most was that everyone stopped to tell her how beautiful she is. From my friend JoAnne (my bestie in the nail world) to the owner Pat, she was complimented and hugged and loved on. Now that beats going to the mall for a quick cut any day! I don't think I would have cared if they shaved my head clean given the way they fussed on her. I swear she walked out of there three feet taller! Oh, and we got some great hair do's!

****Pat, I will be wanting a discount on the new hair color I am coming in for next week for this little mention here in the blogesphere...just sayen' it would be nice of you.****

Later in the day we hit a sale at Penny's and we shopped, just the two of us. That makes for some rare time. I love that we can laugh and be silly and enjoy each other as much as we can. She is one of the people I would choose to spend my time with when ever I can.

The truth is my agenda ran deeper yesterday. The day was more about hair and shopping therapy then just hair and shopping. She and I have been stuck in a cycle of "I don't feel like I can do anything right for you" with each other. Each of us feeling like the other is always annoyed or disappointed or just plain mad. I suppose we are having some mother/child growing pains of late. Normal to a large degree I suppose. Some of it not so much.

I have this burden on my heart to "not provoke" my children "to wrath." Well there are times I could care less if my kids hate me and "do what I said or I will not only provoke you to wrath, I will revoke your birth certificate!" is more my hearts cry.

As a mom, I am not always sure how to get from point A to point B. I do know this: when a child is acting out, pull them in. When you are not sure what the right answer is never push the child away while you work it out. Pull them in and spend more time with them. Give more of your heart and risk it being broken. I know for a fact that Liz is a good kid. I hear it all the time from other grown ups. But I don't want "good" kids, I want holy kids. And she wants to be Holy. Now to trust her and Him more while not abdicating...Sigh.

I am learning to trust God with her and her siblings more and more everyday. Trusting that He has given us these gifts, our children, in jars of clay. He does know what He is doing even when we don't. He has more faith in me and them then I sometimes do. As Tennyson wrote, "Forgive me where I fail in truth and in they wisdom, make me wise."

Yes, Lord. Make me wise with your wisdom that I might not lean on my own understanding

...and maybe do a little shopping/hair therapy in the meantime.

"Do not neglect your gift." (1 Tim 4:14)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A drunk...

Just a quick note before I head off to bed after a weary day of running. Walmart at 7:30am is always better than at 7:30pm, but man, am I shot.

Somewhere after Liz got her braces adjusted and Brennan had her spacers put in for her impending braces, I ran to "just one more store" to pick something up for John. When I pulled into the Oh-so-Ellenesque (as my mom was known for ALWAYS getting a spot at the curb of whatever store she was going to) parking spot, I saw him. Brennan saw him to. She asked what she should do, with out saying a word. I could see the concern in her eyes with just a quick turn of my head.

"Just step out of the car and walk around the back of it to me. He won't hurt you." I said, mostly believing what I had just said. She didn't question, she just did. Good girl, Bren.

We didn't stare, we just walked into the store, made our purchase and left. We repeated the same routine to get into the car, only in reverse order.

The drunk just sat on the edge of the store window and continued to mumble to himself. He had a black eye and his hands shook as he raised the paper back to his crusty mouth. He wore a flannel shirt in this awful heat and his face was ruddy with bear and sweat. He looked at us but never addressed us.

As we drove away I told Brennan he made me so sad.
"Why? She asked. "Do you know him?"
"Yes. I do. He was once some one's little boy. Maybe he is some one's daddy and maybe he was or still is some one's husband. But he is connected to someone, somewhere right now...and he is too drunk to love them. He is special to someone or at least he was, before the drink stole him away."

I wonder if his family knows he was sitting mumbling to himself, with a black eye outside a store and drinking in the afternoon...probably again. I wonder if they just got sick and tiered of caring anymore.

We got to talking about something else and I don't remember what. But the old drunk has not yet left my heart.

I think our Abba is that way, don't you? I think that we let the worries of this world and the life that can be so harsh, take us away from Him, but we never stop being in His heart. I wonder if it aches Him desperately when we refuse to come home to Him and instead (insert what ever or who ever you or I turn to instead of Him) turn to the bottle.

I wonder if my own dad ever did that, outside a store, in The Bronx or maybe in Brooklyn or in the city that never sleeps. I wonder if anyone saw him and wondered...and then did something for him...pray.

I didn't stop and share the Gospel with him. I didn't tell him The Good News of Jesus Christ. I just drove away...and now I just remembered to do something for him. I prayed.

There is an old expression that says God has a special love for puppies and was probably made up by a drunken Irishman, as we love the sentimental so much.

Join me, won't you in remembering the old drunk, knowing that God sees his brokenness more deeply then we can see his black eye. Who knows, maybe we will see him in Glory someday soon.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No stats...

It would seem my premature eblogulation trend continues. I just accidentally deleted the stat counter on the blog while I attempted to be all blog savvy and add a new button from my all time favorite blog designer, Crissy. Sigh. I get rather klutzy during my PMS week, as evidenced by my deletion. It' s evident if you follow my calender and most of you don't, thus the explanation.

I learned years ago to not attempt to make big decisions or make major changes during PMS week. Some of the all time worst hair cuts ( like the bad perm of '85) were chosen by me during that one week period right before my period. I know not to go shopping for any major purchase that week or to even think about purchasing a pair of jeans. Grocery shopping should be safe, right? No. Everything will be salty or sweet.
The week I approached John about letting the kids return to school after our adventure into homeschooling, he gently asked what time of the month it was...we all know how brave he was for asking too. Had it been that bad week out of the month, the man may have been killed.

But what of that stat counter? There have been times I loved it. I love that the last time I checked it was over 3,000. That is not a completely accurate number as it also counts the number of times I have come on to check for comments or to post. But still, someone is reading this blog and that blesses me. I pray it means the blog has blessed those who read it.

For a second I thought about getting a new one. And then I decided not to do so even though I know the date on the calender.

I am not so sure what the Lord has planned for us right now. Last night I was reading an old journal from the spring of 2005. It was so full of angst. I was begging and pleading for God to move us on from the house we were in. In a little bit of my defense, the house was extremely tiny for the 7 of us. I was very specific in my request: Bigger house, a pool, a bigger kitchen, and a new school district.

I had no way of knowing that 6 months later I would get all of those things I had told God I was desperate for...I had no way of knowing that our whole world would rock apart and the loses we would have to go through as we gained that list.

My journal after the move was very different then it was before. Humbled, broken, mercified. I had seen the Glory of God and I was changed forever...except that I have begun to grow restless again.

I have always had wanderlust in my heart. I've always been waiting for the next great thing. "Send me!" I would holler to Heaven like God is my travel agent and I am getting ready for the booking to adventure...

"The hum-drum of everyday life done well." That is something my mom prayed for me everyday. I still struggle with everydayness. But I am learning.

So I am not going to count how many people have read here. I am going to continue to write unto the Lord and ask Him if I can bless Him with this little gift that He gave me. I am going to ask Him if He can use it to His glory, not mine. I pray it blesses the readers and my Creator. If the big publisher doesn't call, that's okay. I really should so some laundry anyway. I have this great life here and have found myself becoming more and more content in spite of my discontent.

Let my life be a living prayer and the stats won't matter. After all, He is quite fond of me.

P.S. When I get to Glory, as the smell of bacon wafting through the air greats me, I just know the angels singing will sound like this. Yes, Heaven will have both bacon and Alison Krauss.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another forest story....

I had a premature e-blogulation this morning. I was all set to write when I hit post before I was ready. Hate when that happens. Actually it has never happened before. I swear it. Hmmm. I think that is something men say...okay, this is a family friendly blog and for the record, I've never heard it either. Dignity restored.

Okay, back to my blogishness this so early morning. One of the things I adore about summer is that when I get up and come to write, I sit in my dining room and on the ceiling above me is the reflection of the pool water. Living on a rather woodsy piece of land, sunlight is not something I see much of in my house. But each tree we take down gives me a little more sun reflecting off the pool. Pretty soon we will be able to see our house on Google Earth and not just the tops of pine trees.

But all those trees. Not long ago I told you all about how this is not a forest but rather my back yard. Last weekend John rented a chipper and we got to chipping up all those trees we have taken down.

John came out back and asked if anyone wanted to work that day, knowing payment would involve a trip to Five Guys and water breaks. He got off easy if you ask me. By the time we were done, my teens discovered what boob sweat was and I do believe I was calling John, "Mr." an awful lot. We were battered and bruised and bleeding, although there weren't any "pumpers" as Maggie calls a bad cut.

If you've never cleaned up a fallen tree, you have no idea how many branches, twigs and leaves there are, not to mention pine needles. A zabiljilasilion and yes, English majors, I know that is not a word. Last time I checked the English language does evolve so I can make up words here. So there. "Recently my BFF2 Bogarted me from BFF1 and left me feeling very Bacalled." THAT is a sentence and it is contextually accurate. Where was I? Right, trees.

As I worked in that blazing heat like an illegal immigrant it occurred to me how much these trees teach us. Think about when Adam and Eve ate from that tree of knowledge of good and evil. I wonder if there was, a silent to them, swoosh in the Heavenlies. I wonder if the door of Hell opened not with a creak but rather swung open as the demons were released by the fall of man and the short time of Edan was no longer a paradise.

How many? How many demons and how many sins befell the earth that day and since? Let your holy imagination roam with me for a moment. Let each branch and each twig and each leaf and each seed represent a sin. We know that Satan is the prince of he air...imagine with me that he blew on the tree of knowledge of good and evil and that planted more trees and more and more.

Some trees took root easily like the tree of deception. It has sprouted on lands like a pine forest. Pride has deep roots that tangle throughout the earth. And sexual sin, well I am told it is as prolific in the world as maple trees are here in the North East.

Some trees of sin have taken millennium to take root. Abortion was never acceptable until the later part of the last century. I imagine it was a slow growing tree that has now become as large as a tulip tree.

It took five hours with seven of us cleaning up that yard to make a small dent in the mess that each tree made. And we are far from done.

How to clean up a nation that has been scattered with the seeds of sin like a forest. How?

Another tree. This one with had hand hewn beams. Not a leaf on it, not a twig nor a branch. Stripped bare with nothing but The Tree of Life nailed to it. Watered by his blood like a sap ran down it's side. I wonder if again that "swoosh" was heard in the Heavenlies as One died on that tree on a hill. I wonder if the enemy believed there was victory for his forest and minions. I wonder.

I wonder still if he knew that wood hath hope. When it's cut, it grows green again as the old song says. I wonder if the enemy knew that bare tree held the seed of Heaven and it could wipe out any forest of sin planted in the land or heart of any one who calls on His name for redemption. I wonder if the enemy of our souls was shocked to see the mighty One standing in victory at the Resurrection.

I wonder if we know that He longs to heal our land. He will never tolerate one branch or one twig or stick or one leaf of sin. He longs to plant that One Tree of Life in this nation once again. And when we allow him to, we will stand as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

What twigs are messing up your forest? Are there more branches then beams? Bring them to the Tree of Life: The antidote of a deadly forest.

Isaiah 55:12
"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

Monday, July 26, 2010

...AND the answer is......

Why does God speak in a still small voice?
When do we leave for Ocean City?
Can we go shopping for school supplies?
Why is the sky blue?
What time is it?
Who is John Wayne?
Who is Johnny Cash?
Who is John Deare?

Okay, I am starting to feel like Alex Trebek. Oy. It's like every conversation with the kids has to start in the form of a question.

"I will get back to ya'." is my standard response. I don't know some of the answers to some of the questions and some of them I don't have the brain power to answer either!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

sketchy at best....

Gotta' say this summer routine is wreaking havoc on me, myself and my time. The un-holy trinity of Maryellen is feeling all the togetherness to the core. John is leaving for work so late that my "early" time would have to be at five in the morning and no, I don't love blogging that much! Plus the kids are up right after he leaves. Sigh...

So the post about the tree;
the one about the cell phones;
the one about the disk, you remember that cliff hanger right?

and all the others will have to wait in draft form until such time that I can get in here and write....

Happy summer and know this is not a complaint but rather a blessing. Family is never an obstacle to ministry but rather the vehicle that drives it. Of course right now that means driving right past The House Blogspot!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I assume we are at least doing something right, as another coffee pot was executed this past week. Sure, just as Vacation Bible School was about to the cross hairs of the enemy we remain.

I could accept the free Gevalia coffee pot dying, and the $20.00 Mr. Coffee, but this was a blooming Kitchen Aid for crying out loud. The enemy of our souls is not happy with us. I guess he figures after he hears me get up, he can stop the "Oh no, she's up." in his wicked and evil heart, if he can just keep me from the java. I have stood in victory with a percolator on the stove!

Of course, the coffee is not ready when I awake. Not wanting to give the enemy a foothold, I was unwilling to stay the percolator~on~the~stove course. I want hot coffee to go with the enemies "Oh no, she's up." and so I have had to make my way to left over coffee each morning to warm it in the microwave...the hand-me-down one that I received when the enemy went on his small appliance killing spree back in May. It has worked just fine, but I knew there had to be a better way...but I was stuck and saw no way out.

....and then I got to serve this week at VBS. I spent the week in the kitchen with old and dear friends. We have not been attendees of this church in almost five years and so I assumed I would be treated a little bit more like a guest.

Um, no.

I was as abused as a kid sister returning home for a visit to Mom and Dad's. I was given dishes to clean and food to prepare without mercy. At the end of the last day, I politely asked the director, my dear friend, Miss Amy, if she needed any help before I took my bone weary family home from the heat of the day. I assumed that being a good Baptist lady, Miss Amy, would say "No, we got it. Thank you so much for serving and being a part of our VBS team..." That is not what she said. Instead I heard some of the harshest words my heart has ever received.

"Oh, could I ever use the help! Thank you so much. Send those kids of yours into the sanctuary to start cleaning up. You can start over there."

I never saw it coming. Next thing I knew, Maggie at the tender age of 6, was busy asking Amy's husband where he wanted the extension cords. Lizzy and her friend were walking around with a shop vac strapped to their backs looking like a skit for Ghost Busters and Caity was given charge of the holiest of holies...Amy's VBS closet.

By the time we left I was begging Amy, AKA: Pharaoh, to set my people free.

Glad that is not our church anymore....or not so much. I met the pastor. And while I understand that Pastor Howard was totin' a gun because it was a western themed's the fact that he was totin' a real gun that made my heart pound with admiration!

I learned a lot this week at VBS in that hot kitchen. A lesson that has left my heart conflicted about where we attend now. While our present church also does not have air conditioning in the kitchen, I learned something so profound in my heart that I will never be the same...

I ran out the very night I learned this powerful lesson to purchase something that would change how I approach the throne of grace forever each morning:

To be used with:

Don't think the enemy is done with us yet. The electric coffee percolator has a three pronged plug and the timer only accepts a two prong. It is in these moments I miss my daddy the most. I know for a fact he would have cut off that third prong and made the whole thing work from the get go. But I have learned to wait on the Lord's perfect timing. I know he is seasoning me for our quiet time together...that and I married Mr. Safety who would not let me risk the potential electrical fire hazard.

I've decided this is a time to be content in these very circumstances the Lord seems fit to place me in.

Waiting on my coffee, waiting on answers, waiting on where He has called us...Even as I wait I remain trusting His word to be forever true:

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

He never, ever asks us to wait beyond what our measure of faith can bear.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life #9...

*In a post that was way tooooooooooooo long, I shared my "cat testimony" about a year ago. Here is the shorter version with a new ending.*

In the spring of 2005, I got my first kitten. Now I married a man who came with two cats but they were never really mine. This was my kitten. Of course I let my Lizzy name him and so he was dubbed Fluffy. Fluffy the black cat. He was all mine.
I would bury my dad that fall and we would move to a larger house soon after that and at some point, Fluffy became an outdoor cat.
In the spring of 2006, we were waiting on word about my Mother-in-Law. She had Alzheimer's and the end was near. On Easter Sunday, still missing my dad terribly, we got ready to go to church. The phone didn't ring with any news about John's mom, so we packed into the car and were on our way.
As we turned onto the main road there it was. Our black cat was now a part of the pavement. I promptly began to cry as did our girls. John and Jack (who was only 5 at the time) were our pillars of strength. John pulled the car over and scrapped the cat off of the road, wrapped him in a piece of a garbage bag he found and put it in the back of the car.
We drove home and John put him on the retaining wall and asked what I wanted to do now. I told him we should go celebrate the Resurrection, because that is what we do when our hearts are broken...praise Him anyway.
Our pastors prayed with us, we cried the entire service and received hugs from friends over the lose of our cat. I quietly prayed: "This is crazy! But how? You know how important that cat was to me. I don't understand. Why now, in the middle of grieving over Dad and waiting to hear about John's mom! You knew...You knew...I just don't understand."

We drove home, knowing there would be no egg hunt, but rather a burial for a beloved cat...

We pulled into our driveway and as we got out of the car, I caught Elizabeth's eye...she looked like she had seen a ghost! I followed her gaze and what did I see...


Ack! A cat Resurrection or Pet Cemetery, one or the other! John quickly ran to the garbage bag he had wrapped the cat in...we quickly discovered there was still a very dead cat in there!

Yes, we had scraped the wrong cat off of the road.

We spent the rest of that Easter singing, "The Cat Came Back" song because, well he did.

In the middle of our grief God allowed a respite of laughter that has become not just family legend, but neighborhood lore.

By the end of that year, we had a new member of our household named Mr. Maghoo, AKA: the dog who ate Poughkeepsie.

Fluffy was not impressed with Mr. Maghoo and he left. He went missing for about two weeks when he showed up on my neighbors doorstep. Mrs. Neighbor (Maggie named her. It made sense. She is a "Mrs." and she is a Neighbor" ergo...Mrs. Neighbor) took in the mangy looking Fluffy for the next three years. He chose who he wanted to live with and he was the happy/fat cat who use to live here.

Long post short: Fluffy died today. I cried.

I know God used a cat to heal old wounds in my heart. Silly, I know. St. Francis I'm not...but it makes me sad non-the-less.

"But You, O Sovereign LORD, deal well with me for Your name’s sake; out of the goodness of Your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy and my heart is wounded within me." Psalm 109:21,22

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog, blog, blog...

Blog etiquette would require that a successful blog has a new post everyday. Put up something even if it is a link to another blog.

But the truth is, I got nothing. It's not that I am down in the dumps or that anything dramatic is going on. There aren't even any great new songs that have me singing in the kitchen, or a book that I am reading to pass on, or even a great movie I just got to see. Just kind of feeling rather melancholy at the moment. So stick with me, I am sure it will pass.

As for right now, I have dinner to make and teens/tweens to get ready for VBS.

God bless,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just want to make a joke...

"Father in the name of Jesus, um, I don't want to be transparent. I don't want to be vulnerable...okay, we have that out of the way. You remember that woman from the Mom's group who told me her name was Chrystal...because you can see right through her? Yeah, to this day, I don't know her real name.

Transparent? Well maybe, but only with You.

Can't I just make the good people who visit my blog laugh? That's what I do, especially when I am feeling ill at ease. I would rather make a joke and visit the "for entertainment purposes only" mode for a moment or two, thank you very much. Maybe if I don't take my heart too seriously, maybe this feeling of living with no skin on will go away. It will go away again, right Lord?

You know I got the "no" answer I didn't want.

"No, Maryellen. No, you can't have it the way you thought it would happen. No."

Um Lord, You know how David reminded You of Your promises? Can I be so bold and come before your throne of grace to do the same? Your Word says I can...

Remember the homeless man that stopped me at church? You remember him, right Lord? It was right after I had spoken at my dear Sara's baptism a few years back. I could not understand why this man was so intent on speaking with me...and he was rather unkempt and I didn't know him and he made me feel a little uncomfortable, there on the stairs by the gym. Remember I wanted to walk away as politely as I could but he was so insistent on talking to me...

Remember what he told me?

"You have an important story to tell."

Remember how it spoke directly to my soul?

"Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise because what God has done in your life must be shared. Do not be afraid and keep it to yourself."

Remember how he was never at church again, Lord? I've always wondered if he was an angel. That verse about entertaining angels unawares came right to my heart as he spoke those words over me. I shook his hand and thanked him...I think I smiled at him but maybe was all overwhelming and I don't know if my holy imagination took over from there. I do remember knowing that time stood still and no one else seemed to be able to hear him except for me. Was it real Lord?

Yes, it was real, Lord. I still don't know what Your plan is for me in this. I know whatever it is, that plan is in love, because I know You are just crazy about me. If I get in the way, pull me by the back of my pony~tale okay? I won't mind...mostly. I honestly will go anywhere and do anything that You ask me to do. Just show me...


"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

Friday, July 9, 2010

A VBS lady of ill repute....

I will freely admit it. When my kids were very little, I knew where every VBS was in Lower Hudson Valley. I filled out registration cards for at least 4 different weeks of VBS every summer. I didn't grow up with such a thing so when I found out about it, I was on it like white on rice. My kids have done the rocket ship VBS, the Veggie Tale VBS, the crazy car VBS...and I enjoyed the few hours of quiet all to my ownself...There are several terms I could use to describe my penchant for free VBS's... Lets go with the VBS lady of ill repute.

I did not volunteer even once for any of guilt either for that matter. VBS kept me sane all summer long. I could average a VBS every other week for the entire summer...a little bit like camp, learn something about Jesus and nice cold ice coffee for me. AHHHHHHHHHHH...VBS summers of old, now those were the good old days.

I eventually got hoodwinked into serving about 9 years ago at our church. It was a very long week...not just because volunteers at VBS work their tales off, but I do believe the politics of church can just about keep anyone away. Sigh...when will we ever learn?

I've done two or three more of the VBS helper~outer~thing, but I try real hard to just do my job, head down, get in and out with out getting hooked in to any nonsense and go home. Next week I get to serve in the kitchen for VBS at our old church because my dear friend Amy is the director. She would never have asked for help so I asked her what needed to be done...curses, she told me. Her biggest fear was that I would make her pay, by hearing about how I helped her out for all eternity. HMPH. That is all I am going to say out loud....from now on I won't say a word, I will just post it on here every once in awhile...that'll teach 'er! (Insert evil scientist laugh here.)

Of course the single most important thing we can give the kids next week is prayer. We may see some kids come to the alter and accept Christ as their personal Savior and that is why we do these things of course. But imagine a VBS with just quick, "Bless the kids." type of prayers. Now, I have no doubt that prayer can be as simple as just a few words. When Jesus cried out, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." It was not a long doctrinal prayer, meant to impress His Father with all that He knew. It was a prayer that had all of ten words to it, yet it saved us all from our sins. It is the prayer that saves our future from our past.

But in my world, there have been way more "over the kitchen sink" prayers then alone in my "prayer closet" prayers. My prayer journal is safely tucked away on the front seat of my mini-van...since April.

It's not that I have not read The Word at all, I have, online mostly. I've opened my grocery list was in there. I've prayed...just not the in the carpet, get rug burn on my nose type of prayers.

It has been a busy season of prayer requests coming in, by the dozens, both here in the blogosphere (My friend Michele let me know that I spelled "blogesphere" wrong the other day...excuse me, Michele, it is a made up word so I can spell it however I want! That is why when I majored in English literature in college I went with the poetry cummings didn't use any grammar, so either will I! She informed me that the spelling of "blogosphere" would better follow the rules of English...whatever!)....where was I? ADD moment.

Right, prayer has happened, but not the kind that I adore.

It is so easy to just get online in the morning and be very important, writing a blog or checking in on Facebook or checking our accounts or reading how God has moved in some one's life...what about us though? What about He and I?
If I truly believe what the book of Hebrews says about God's Word being alive and active and sharper then any two edged could I allow myself to not be in it everyday? If that is how I continue to grow up in the Lord, why would I not make it my business to be in to it?

Last night, John and I watched "The Book of Eli" doctrinal notes please. Eli took in the Word, everyday for decades. That is why he could stand strong in every battle. That was the point to the post apocalyptic movie anyway. So, Mair, how is it that you are not in The Word, everyday? How do you suppose you will stand strong in every battle? How will you wield The Sword of Truth over the enemy if you don't have the weapons of warfare at your disposal? Prayer warrior? More like an auxiliary arm of the air force. You won't shoot down any MIGS when you are dressed like George Baily in "It's a Wonderful Life" blowing your whistle for someone to turn off the lights during an air raid.

The thing is, the world is full of George Bailys. I am not good at playing George. I want to be an Eli...cinema~phorically speaking of course...God has been so generous to me in all that He has given...and to whom much is given, much will be expected.

I spent much of yesterday and the day before cleaning out my prayer closet. I made it my business to get the battle plans out on the desk with my prayer journal ready, bible opened to Colossians (because that seems to be where He wants me right now) pencil sharpened and a disk in my hand...a disk?

Tune in to read about it...maybe tomorrow, but only if I get my time alone with Jesus as I prepare to give the VBS kids more then just a great snack from the kitchen at church. It will be way more important that we give them a hunger for The Word.

Otherwise, the blogesphere will have to wait.

Be blessed dear ones, and be in The Word.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No vanity on my toes...

But just look at my blog! I feel so grown up here in the blogesphere! It has been a high drama day here in Schlusserdom so this was a wonderful surprise to have the blog completed for me. Crissy from Affordable Blog Designs did a great job and be sure to look at what she can do for you if you need an up-do for your own blog! Go on, she has a button on the side bar, go on, click on it and take a look!
I have a button too...hee-hee!
I have some playing to do with the navigation bar so give me some time to put stuff up, but all in we are!
I feel pretty.

Oh, Vanity come back to me...

If you have been around the blog here for a while now, you've read my toe nail post. If not get with the program, the rest of us will wait while you read it here:
Are you back? Good, then let us all move on.

Well, when you live life with a big, yellow dog, things can wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. Mr. Maghoo, AKA: The dog that ate Poughkeepsie, dropped his bone on my pretty toe. The big toe...the very pretty and very fake and very bright, red, toe nail! Not only did it crack the acrylic, it cracked me and it is not so very pretty anymore.

I had to pull out the Dremal mini sander to remove a good portion of it...oh come on, you would have done the same darn thing! How many of you had mothers who used pliers to tighten your braces when you were a kid? Heck my old man used a box cutter to remove stitches more then once...Okay, maybe it is a New Yorker thing.

Anyway, back to the tragedy my toe nail has become. OUCH! I bled, I cleaned, I patted, I probably cussed a bit too but I am not admitting that here. Not much left. Just a nub of a nail...why now?

Why not in January when my toes are safely inside my boots? Or in October when I wear sneakers in and out. Why now in the worst heat wave the Eastern Sea Board has seen in decades?


You know things are bad when your child asks you thusly:
"You are going to be able to do something with that right? I mean, you know you can't wear your flip flops until you do something." Aha. Thanks dear child of mine. Let us go to Mr. Loretta, the orphanage your poppy grew up know, just for a visit.

"Lord, my toe hurts."
"Lord, it is so ugly."
"Yes, dear one. Yes it is."

**********************Anyone want to join me in an "Excuse me, Lord?" right now. You know things are bad when you pray about an ugly toenail and The Creator of the universe agrees with you about how ugly your toe nail is!*************************************

"Is this just a thorn and a thistle thing, Lord?"
"It seems to be for you my dear."
"I hate ugly toes, Lord."
"Yes, you I love you any less with ugly toes?"
"No, I suppose You don't. Can I ask for a miraculous healing of the toe nail?"
"You can ask anything of Me, but you already knew that."

I also knew the answer was going to be "no." But for a moment I imagined perfectly manicured toe nails touched by the hand of God. There would be halo glows shooting out of my feet as I walked like Sketchers on a criminal when they first came out and the police could follow the glow-up of their feet when they were trying to get away. Yes, by the way that is a true story.

But back to my glowing, hand touched feet please. I so hope my readers are as ADD as I am or there is no way you could follow me...but my glowing feet you could.

The NY Times would do an article about miracles in Poughkeepsie and would suddenly agree with Glen Beck about the need for a prayerful nation. Peace would be restored, godly men would lead us and our nation would be healed once again.

Or not.

No, my face was not buried in the carpet in prayer over my silly toe nails. But there are days now when all I can do is weep before the throne of Grace. There was a season when we had to move, faced a court battle and buried my dad all at the same time. All I could do was fall to my knees in the kitchen as Third Day played on the stereo and cry out: "Show me your glory."

He did and I pray He does now. No, there is nothing going on in Schlusserdom, less my ugly nails. Yes, we are starting a new life today as John retires and we have had our share of pneumonia, sprained ankles and swimmers ear this summer. But all of that is just the normal ebb and flow of life in America.

Life in America, where my biggest concern is my toe nails? In no way am I putting aside my need to grow up in the Lord. That is my personal prayer life. But it is the corporate life, the body of Christ life that makes me weep. Sigh.

I firmly believe we are a nation in great peril and so I beg the precious blood of Jesus not on my toe nails but on our land. I beg forgiveness for the blood of the innocent on our hands. I pray for our leaders, no matter how I feel about them. I pray for their safety and for a change of heart as they lead us towards the abyss, laden with great nations of the past.

Just as my toe nails will be pretty again, I pray our nation will return to it's glory as a Christian nation. I pray, I pray, I pray. But not a fake Christianity like we have been known for at times. The real thing and no, I am not talking about a theocracy. That is not a genuine government of freedom.

Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

"Humble, pray, seek, turn..."

We have a lot of work to do as we struggle through this season in His~story. Maybe the raw deal of a humble, not humiliated, toe nail~lacking~lady in Poughkeepsie can make a difference.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7th & 8th once again...

July 7th & 8th in 1993 two days that will live in my heart forever. It feels way, way, way, long ago and far away, that I sat for the nursing boards on these two days. Mine was the last class that took the boards with paper and pen. It was also the last time we took them over two days. I don't know if graduate nurses still take the boards at The Pier on the Lower West Side of Manhattan but that is where I took mine...and I still get a little nauseous whenever I drive past it. The heat that day rivaled the heat wave we are experiencing here in NY today. Oy, that was a hot summer.

Before I left to take the exams, I stopped at St. John's Hospital to see mom. She was not doing well but I wanted her blessing before I went off to the city. I walked into my hospital where I had been a candy striper(TEACHER'S NOTE: I made darn sure I didn't write "stripper" for "striper". I just want that out there!) a patient, a daughter and now an alumni...I love walking in there even now. It still feels like I own the place. As a high school freshman I use to go up on the roof with my fellow candy stipers and watch the sun set...and in all the world, it is my favorite place to watch it set. There is something amazing about seeing that orange ball drop behind the Palisaids...I always felt a little sorry for the people who lived across the river from us folks in Yonkers. While they lived under the beauty, we lived across from it and so got to see all the splendor of God descend up it.

I made my way to the fourth floor with a bottle of holy oil, knelled next to Mom's bed and she anointed me with the oil. She prayed:
"Holy Spirit, drip down over Maryellen. Wash her brain by osmisis with the knowledge she has gained here in nursing school, drip down over her ears that she may hear from you, wash over her hand as she holds the pen and cover her eyes so she can see the answers as You do. And hold her, hold her tight that she would know Your peace. Amen."

With a quick hug and kiss I was off to the city. The following morning, she would pray that very same prayer that she prayed over me the day before, just as she had prayed it over me for every exam I had taken since the sixth grade when I had a test on osmosis.

That would be the last time she would ever anoint my head with oil and bless me but someday, I will get to hug her neck, with out a trach and dance in Heaven with her before our King Jesus.

Those who know me, won't be surprised that I can tell you what I wore on that last day of nursing boards. Oh, let me tell you it was the cutest outfit! It actually belonged to my dear friend Maria. Plaid shorts with the cutest little cropped top that was sleeveless, white with three little bows down the front of it that matched the plaid on the shorts. I loved that outfit and I wore it until it fell apart...sorry Maria!

July 7th & 8th in 1993...two days that changed my life forever.

Do you want to know what I was wearing on July 7th&8th in 1995? Of course you do, silly. A hospital gown. I was in labor and delivery for those two days to give birth to my oldest and biggest baby...yes, she was a 10 pounder. I am not at all bitter that nothing I wore before her birth ever fit on my body again...not at all. I mean it. Yes, she was 10 pounds but imagine my surprise that she was not 70 pounds as that is how much I gained. I won't even tell you that I once thought I would try to be bulimic. I will however tell you that if you decide to give bulimia a try, don't take syrup of ipecac~google if you don't know what that is~~and if you do use syrup of ipecac, don't eat 6 ears of corn on the cob first. Do NOT ask me how I know any of this. You don't need to know and I am leaving it in my notebook anyway. Besides, 15 years plus four more babies later, I am way less insecure about my figure...I am too!

July 7th&8th in 1995...two days that changed my life forever.

So what does this date bring this time. Yes, a 15th birthday to celebrate for Liz tomorrow. True. But there is more.

July 7th&8th in 2010 brings an ending and a beginning. Today is John's last day as a Police Sergeant. Tomorrow is his first day as a retired cop. I asked him today if he was excited? No, he said, just kind of sad.

Darn it all I kind of wanted him to lie to me about that one. Play fearless leader, please! I wanted him to tell me he is ready for the adventure of a life time and He can't wait to see what God has for him next...I feel that way. My trepidation is overwhelmed by the joy that this season is over at last.

But he was honest with me and that is always a good thing. It means I can pray for my man as he faces an old end and this new beginning. I can come to The Beginning and The End; The Alpha & Omega. He knows the end from the beginning and while we thought we did too, none of it will be a surprise to Him.

Men tend to find their identity in their work. Normal. John knows that His true identity is in Christ...I know John well enough to know that as he struggles with this season he will ultimately rest in Him. John is first and foremost a man of faith and he knows our hope is in Him and that He has great plans for us...a future and a hope.

I know you are dying to know what I am wearing to celebrate our retirement. I have a blouse that is my manifest destiny and it is in a color other then tan, white, navy blue or black. John loves it when I wear something vibrant. This blouse is the perfect shade of melon and I think I make it look darn good! Maybe it will cheer him a bit. I also know it doesn't matter all that much. What will matter is that I am adorned with Christ as I hug the neck of the man I love.

July 7th&8th in 2010...two days that are about to change our life forever, once again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

God bless America, still...please.

Dad use to tell the story that when he was a kid during WWII his mom would listen to Kate Smith sing God bless America everyday on the radio. God help the child who interrupted the song! I've always had this image of his mom's frail old hand reaching out and smacking some unsuspecting kid who had the nerve to speak during Kate's performance...Truth is my grandmother, whom I never met, was only 37 when she died. I was 37 when I buried her son. Hmmm. Dad is always on my mind this time of year. Yesterday would have been his 75th birthday. Patriotism and my folks get me misty eyed often, even now.

Well, you can read about my folks in the lovely little devotional I wrote about them...shameless plug? Maybe. What the heck, it's my blog for crying out loud! Go buy the darn book, support the family here. It's on Amazon and I am out of freebies! Sheesh.

Back to the patriotism point here. That was my point by the way.

I have a very faint remembrance of America's 200th birthday when I was 8 years old. It was the at the height of the 1970's recession but all we saw were signs that read "The Spirit of '76" all over the place. I know it was one of the years we spent at a 4th of July party and the party was all that and more. Funny that as bad as things were, we kids only knew the spirit of '76, not the heart ache. Our parents knew only too well. The firemen in Yonkers were being payed with IOU checks and my dad was all but out of work as a moving man. It was tough times.

But it was America and that meant that tough times were temporary. Never once did they doubt that we, the kids at the time, would inherit a country better then the way they found it.

Today, the G8 protests are hailed and the Tea Party is shunned. How could burning our flag be okay and waiving it wrong? How did we get to the point when all that makes our nation so great could now be so wrong and how could so many in the information age be so well, uninformed? Notice I didn't say stupid...I think that shows great restrained.

I think one of the thing that has shocked me most is the number of Americans who voted for a president based on the color of his skin...I thought we were better then that. I was born on the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and I have always felt a kinship with him...I think he would be mortified by it all.

Samuel Adams was more then a tavern owner (if you get to see "John Adams" it is a fantastic mini-series...less the portrayal of Samuel Adams.) but rather an incredible man of God.

"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." - Samuel Adams

How could any true believer have voted for a president who claims that the sanctity of life is above his pay scale? Sorry, the social gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And while we are at it, any pastor who supports such a stance, well...honestly, watch who teaches you.

Voter Never.

Government take over of the banks, health care, the car industry, here? Never.

We lose freedom by the second here now. What will our nation be for our children? Yes, I fear for them and what they have to look forward to.

I could turn this post into the beginning of a rant that could last well past the next election cycle, should we still have the freedom to vote based on a man's good word. But I won't. Chances are, if you are reading this, I am preaching to the choir and you already know the trouble we are in.

I just wanted to remember myself what a Christian nation we are. We are the most Christian nation the world has ever seen and so the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. Because we have a nation based on the freedom laid down for us by Christ, the world hates us...we should not be surprised, He told us they would.

As a human being, created in the likeness of God, I am free to obey God's law or suffer the consequences. As an American, I am also free to obey the law of the land or suffer the consequences. There is very little difference. As Americans we are free to worship God as the one true God or to worship any god we choose. But our laws are still based in may not have to worship Him, but obey the law or go to jail. Sorry, so much for separation of church and state all.

I re-read the Declaration of Independence today. This made me giggle and while I know it is about King George, giggle along with me while you think about how in bed our president is with BP:

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."

...okay our president has not burnt our towns but the rest of that sure is true.

It is the end of the document that makes me shiver:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Yeah, we have been to tea parties and we have supported those who stand for Truth. Let us not forget what these men did in signing that paper. It was a death sentence for them and I wonder what we are willing to do today to stand with them in a very dark hour for our republic.

Wonder or not, we can pray. I still believe that God will protect His own, even if the remnant is small. God cares very much about real estate and who he allows to live where. It is no accident of birth that we the people, live in a nation such as this.

I pray we remember the sacrifices made for our nation. No freedom does not come free. And yes, I do still pray that God will bless America, in mercy and grace even as we fight the good fight and proclaim:

Don't tread on ME!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our last payday...

This is it...our last check comes in as a pension check...okay, breath...that would be in and out Mair. Okay, that's right, I forgot for a minute there. Hang on while I go send in our tithe...
I am did that breathing thing go again? Mom told me to marry a civil this will all be okay, right?

Truth is I am okay with it. It is just all so new. I am excited to be honest with you. It is all starting to feel real for the first time. Come October we will throw John a family reunion/retirement party and all will be well. How did that breathing thing start? Oh, yes, in and out, in and out...

I suppose all change has it's moments of panic.

Change...our dear little friend Belle got to come home a couple of weeks ago...Being home was a huge change, but her being sick has not changed. So we keep praying as the change to home care becomes somehow normal.

Change...I will be home alone for the first time in fifteen years this fall. I am convinced that change will turn me into Donna Reed. Let me make believe okay? Where are my pearls?

Change...after decades of writing in a notebook, I now write online. I have to remember I now have people reading what I am writing. I have learned that some of my thoughts need to be kept in that notebook!


One of the changes I love is in my girls. No, no rant today or letter from the champ of bratyness. This one sings to my heart.

In the last year my girls have not attended youth group at all in our church. The politics of that change are not at issue here. That part can stay in my notebook.

Liz, who will be 15 on the same day that John retires, has attended youth group (here and there) at our old church, Caity has attended a school~year long bible study. The little two have attended AWANA (google if you must) and Brennan, well there has not been anything that has attracted her thus far. All of them have VBS plans for the summer.

Liz and I were talking through some of the politics of the change (see notebook...or rather, oh never mind!) and while some of them matter it was the result of those changes that took me by surprise.

She told me that while she has always wanted to be a part of a youth group in our church, in the end, not being a part of it made her love Jesus more. This past year as she has spoken out in school with both teachers and students, she never quoted our youth pastor. She quoted her daddy and I. It was the things we talked over in our kitchen/car/walking that came out of her mouth in school.


I never had a youth pastor. It was not a part of my experience as a kid. I had a great group of believers that I spent my time with. Some of them I even tried hard to break commandments know that is another post for another day right? Okay. Except for a brief time in my late teens when we had a young adults prayer meeting, we believers were all lumped together. It was a glimpse of what Heaven may be like to my young heart.

There has been a shift or a change, if you will in the Youth pastor world. I have had more then one conversation with youth pastors who has reminded me that they are trained professionals.


Okay, I have no doubt that you don't have to be a parent in order to have a heart for the youth. My own mom had that heart for teaching other people's children about Jesus, just as she shared Him with me. I know that a good youth pastor can be life and breath to a kid. A great youth group can make a huge difference in a kids life...

But what if we don't have that, ever. What if my kids don't get to have a youth group like that?

90~something percent of evangelical believers walk away from their faith in college. That is a statistic that should strike fear into the heart of believers everywhere. All the time and money we spend on great youth programs and VBS and missions trips for our teens in middle school and high school...and we are watching them just up and walk away.

We could do a whole study on how it is the public school systems fault...yeah, they get taught some whoppers in school today and I would have been the first one to point a pointer at that only a short while ago. Except that I have friends who homeschooled and their kids have also walked away from the faith in college. So much for the formula I was going to use!

One study showed that kids who sit with their folks during Sunday church are far less likely to turn away from their faith by like a 70% margin...guess where my kids sit now. When I asked if they missed going to Sunday school, all three girls said yes...they miss the donuts. Okay, I can make those at home, so sit your bony butts in the pew, next to me, thank you very much.

I have mentioned before that my expert parenting skills only go as far as almost 15. That still holds true until July 8, 2010 and then I get to say it goes all the way to 15, but not beyond yet.
What I have learned thus far, is that Liz's faith is now her own...She has her own bible and her own calling and she may or may not follow hard after Him. I can no longer demand verses recited at the kitchen table, well I could, but why?

Yes, under my roof, she will attend church every Sunday or she will not eat, eventually drive the car, have a cell phone or a social life. Yes, all of that is true. There is no choice about getting out of bed for church on Sunday morning.

She will hear Third Day on my iPod in the kitchen and no, she will not spend my money on Lady gag-a...No more so then I was allowed to buy "Only the good die young." She will also be bored to tears with Glenn Beck on TV in my living room at 5:00pm each day and Rush on the radio from 12-3pm. She will be surrounded by truth, convenient or not.

We will speak Truth in our home and God forgive John and I, she will have a first hand glimpse of our own compromises and sin. She will know when we talk through her latest heart ache with her that John and I are speaking through the screen of The Word. She knows that we are actively praying for her and her siblings...and that is as important as the fantastic food we put on the table.

But ultimately, I already know that I cannot put a gun to her head and make her have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Her time in the Word, her prayer time, her desire or not, to memorize His Word and to "hide it" in her heart is her decision. Oh, how I hate that I cannot make my apron strings pull in a little tighter like a noose around her heart. But I can't because if I yank those strings to tight she will cut them herself and leave us both reeling.

It won't much matter if she goes to Bob Jones or Evangel or some small Baptist college or even Fordham or God help me, Yale. It won't matter because unless her faith is her own, and SHE is following hard after Him, she will not know Him. She can let dust settle on her bible, forget to pray, and still go to the best youth group every week and miss the whole darn thing.

Change is hard as a mommy. I think Yates or Tennyson wrote that "Naught lasts forever, except change." The only constant in the lives of Liz and her siblings is that God is still on His throne. I can't give them any other assurance. The waves of life, lived in a fallen world, will sweep them away, unless they have the solid Rock of Christ to stand on. And so I will be busy in prayer through all of the changes.