Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Prayer for Haiti

Lord, I just want to say THANK YOU, because this morning I woke up and knew where my children were. Because this morning my home was still standing, because this morning I am not crying because my husband, my child, my brother or sister needs to be dug out from underneath a pile of concrete, because this morning I was able to drink a glass of water, because this morning I was able to turn on the light, because this morning I was able to take a shower, because this morning I was not planning a funeral, but most of all I thank you this morning because I still have life and a voice to cry out for the people of Haiti. Lord, I cry out to you, the one that makes the impossible, possible, the one that turns darkness into light, I cry out that you give those mothers strength, that you give them peace that surpasses all understanding, that you may open the streets so that help can come, thatyou may provide doctors, nurses, food, water, and all that they need in a blink of an eye. For all those that have lost family members, give them peace, give them hope, give them courage to continue to go on! Protect the children and shield them with your power. I pray all this in the name of Jesus!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't Quit

My emotions seem very tender and raw to me lately. I've been trying to immerse myself in uplifting reading. I felt compelled to share a few pieces so over the coming days that's probably all you'll get from me. Because right now, I feel like it's all I have to give. So until the Lord sees fit to give me something else...

Don't Quit by Charles Swindoll selected from Stories for the Heart complied by Alice Gray

Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer-pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America. It was an evening to remember - black tuxedos and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza. Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her son would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So - against his wishes - he had come.

As she turned to talk with friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert grand Steinway and its leather tufted stool on the huge stage flooded with blinding lights. Without much notice from the sophisticated audience, the boy sat down at the stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small, trembling fingers in the right location and began to play "chopsticks." The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces pointed in his direction. Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout:

"Get the boy away from there!"
"Who'd bring a kid that young in here?"
"Where's his mother?"
"Somebody stop him!"

Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage. Without one word of announcement he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides, and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize with and enhance "chopsticks." As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy's ear:

Keep going. Don't quit. Keep on playing...don't stop...don't quit.

And so it is with us. We hammer away on our project, which seems about as significant as "chopsticks" in a concert hall. And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes the Master who leans over and whispers:

Now keep going; don't quit. Keep on...don't stop; don't quit, as He improvises on our behalf, providing just the right touch at just the right moment.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Few Bad Apples

I have been having some spam comments left in my comments lately so for the time being I am going to turn comment moderation and word verification on. Sorry, I know it's annoying but I don't want to mislead or turn anyone off if they read a comment before I can get it erased. At this point I am still allowing anonymous comments but that might have to go if this continues. Thanks to my regular readers for understanding.

Friday, January 8, 2010

You're Gonna Shoot Your...Oh, Nevermind, Maybe You Won't

So The Reader has been begging, and I do mean begging, to play the "claw game" whenever he sees one. And I've been lecturing about how it's such a waste of money, you never win anything, you can buy the silly stuffed whatever for much less money than it would take to win it.

Tonight we were out and I happened to have some loose change so I thought once and for all I would give in and show him how hard it is to win those games. I gave each of the older two boys fifty cents and turned my back to the game. But before I turned my back I noticed the machine's claw had two handicapped pincers, leaving only one working pincer, nice.

Guess what? They BOTH WON something! Oh my, are you even for real? It was ridiculous. I have a very strong dislike for stuffed animals so I told them they were going to have to donate them. To this The Thinker quipped "but these are very rare, it's very difficult to win this game and we can't give them away". Right, so rare and difficult you did it on your first try with a dysfunctional claw.

Oy. Vey.

Enhancing Auditory Learning

I know there is a lot of broohaha over learning styles these days and I don't intend to make this blog into an educational resource. But I do not learn very well by listening to instructions and therefore I do not teach very well by giving verbal instructions. I am very much a visual and kinesthetic learner.

So I was pleased as punch when 80% of my Geometry for Teachers class was all about learning how to give instructions. While my classmates groaned about quadrants and planes I secretly soaked it all in.

When The Thinker was putting together a Lego creation the other night I jumped at the chance to work with him. Legos, or other building blocks, are perfect for this exercise because they are descript, in color, shape and size. I happen to be married to a man who ate, slept and breathed Legos growing up so everyone in my house knows what a 1 x 2 and a 2 x 6 are when speaking Legoese. Also, Legos come with great detailed instructions which help the speaker to give directions. This is not what he was building but this would be a great starting point for a kindergartner or first grader.Try this at your house, hold the instructions to where the listener can't see them and give him very explicit directions. Don't say "take this and put it there", say "stack the two blue 2 x 4s and place them one row from the right on the second and third post so the long end is facing you" This would be a great opportunity to practice left and right, top and bottom, etc. The biggest trick to this is the listener has to keep the creation turned the way you are reading the instructions. Keep it light, if he starts to get frustrated put it away and try with something simpler another time.

Let me know if you do this and how it turns out. You'll learn as much, if not more, than the listener. Oh yes, and make sure the instructions are for something he's never built before or else he'll be doing it from memory instead of listening to you.

The Entertainer's First Big Sled Ride

Last week during the "baby" snow. Hoping to have a snow day tomorrow so we can sled and board some more. Listen to him bounce. At the end he says "that was fun!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Every Good and Perfect Gift

God is so good. Every time I obey Him He blesses me more abundantly. I tell you this story, not to boast or be prideful, but to show you what a great and awesome God we serve.

Until last summer Mr. Steady and I never tithed regularly. Last summer, at a time when my world had been shattered and my marriage was hanging by a thread and we were, very literally, living on the charity of others, I decided we would start tithing. One dime of every dollar that came into my hands went back to our home church. My husband had no job and I made about $700 a month.

One day on the way to church I clenched our last $50 in my fist. We hadn't paid our rent, we were behind on most of our utilities, and our gas tank was toeing the red E. I had a choice. We could place that last $50 in the offering plate and give God back a small portion of what was rightfully His. Or we could fill the gas tank up and be able to take my family where they needed to go. I decided to give God His portion. After church I found out we had been blessed by a loving Christian family with double the amount that we gave God. Double. Keep that story in your back pocket....

This Christmas a loving Christian sister gave me a gift of $50 with instructions to spend it on myself. Recently God reminded me that I had a debt of $50 to pay someone I had borrowed money from a long time ago. That debt tugged at my heart and I reasoned with my conscience for a while. "It was a gift to me, I should use it for what it was meant for." But God kept nudging me to do the right thing. So I sent it to my lender post haste before I could change my mind again. The very next night a dear, dear couple knocked on my door and handed me $60.

Now you tell me, do you think that $100 or $60 would have been given to us if we had not been obedient? Over and over again I have heard sermons preached on tithing and over and over again I have read Malachi 3:10 and know this is the only area God allows us to test Him. We don't tithe or pay our debts to reap blessings, we do it because it's right and we want to honor Him. But I can attest to you that by honoring Him, He will bless you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Come On To My House

If you don't hear Rosemary Clooney singing in your head when you read that title you must be GB. Or twenty. And if you don't know what GB is, don't worry, you're not one.

So for over three months I have been mulling around the idea of having a homegoods swap. The Nester had one and you know I have to do everything she does.

But life always gets in the way. My house isn't clean enough, my children are sick, blah, blah, blah. I couldn't decide on the perfect invitation. Then once I had the invite made I couldn't decide on a menu. Then there's the whole "this menu is great for children but not for moms, and then this menu is mom friendly but the children won't eat it." WHAT?!?!?!?!

Yesterday I was talking to one of my dearest friends about expectations and living up to perceived expectations and doing what we've always done because we thought we had to or because someone else did those things.

And I decided you know what? Who cares if my house is dirty? Who cares if my living room furniture isn't in the perfect formation? Who cares if you step on Lego men as you walk through my house? Ouch, actually that one does bother me a bit.

You are my friends and I want to see you! If I have learned nothing else from losing my mom it's that you don't get second chances. All of the would-haves and should-haves won't buy you a cream soda when your friends and loved ones are gone. Pick up the phone, write the card, send the email, throw a few Oreos on a plate, stick a Lipton bag in a cup of hot water and call it a tea party - just DO IT! Why do we make everything so complicated and big?
So, let's do this. Close your eyes and pretend this invitation was just delivered to you in a funky colored envelope with a pretty contrasting liner. Then when you come to my house and I serve you pizza on paper plates close your eyes and pretend it's some sort of green salad with fruit and funky dressing along with a great dessert instead of the Chips Ahoy cookies I'm probably going to serve.
Please come on to my house Friday, January 15 at 11:00 for a Homegoods Swap.
Please bring 3 (three) home decorating items from your home that you like but no longer love or that no longer work for your house.

Please bring 1 (one) item that has a $10-$15 resale value, and 2 (two) items that have $5 or less resale value. You will take home three items with similar value.
Suggestions: vases, candle holders, tablecloths, candles, napkins, picture frames, mirrors, lamps, flower pots, rugs, you get the idea. (sets count as one item)
Also bring a drink of your choice for your children and yourself.
All unclaimed items leftover will be donated to Goodwill.
Children are welcome, please bring a friend! Seriously, bring a friend and their children.
Please RSVP by Tuesday, January 12 by calling me, Facebooking me, or emailing me at If you know me but don't know where I live I will give you directions. If you know where I live but don't me...that's just weird.

I WILL have pizza, I WILL have homegoods to swap with you (I've been filling a tote for months), I WILL have cute napkins, I WILL have children who misbehave, I MIGHT clean the toilet, I MIGHT vacuum my floor, I MIGHT have ice, I WON'T stress over whether or not my windows are clean (they won't be, because, hello, have you ever tried to shovel your sidewalk during a blizzard?), I WON'T clean my bathroom cabinet for fear you might look in there, I WON'T apologize for the disarray of my house, but most importantly, I WON'T regret spending a few hours with my friends.

What Good Is It?

God put this message in my path twice in the same day, the first time in print and the second on the radio, you know...just in case I didn't process it the first time.

I wouldn't be human if I didn't ask God the hard questions about my mom's death. Why? Why didn't you stop it? Why did you allow this? What good could possibly come of this? And even though He hasn't answered me directly, He did use Max Lucado's words to give me Hope. I pray they do the same for you today.

From Max Lucado's book Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear:
"What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the
next. I have proof: you in the womb....Every gestation day equipped you
for your earthly life. Your bones solidified, your eyes developed, the
umbilical cord transported nutrients into your growing frame...for what
reason? So you might remain enwombed? Quite the contrary. Womb
time equipped you for earth time, suited you up for your postpartum
existence. Some prenatal features went unused before birth. You grew
a nose but didn't breathe. Eyes developed, but could you see? Your
tongue, toenails, and crop of hair served no function in your mother's
belly. But aren't you glad you have them now? Certain chapters in
this life seem so unnecessary
, like nostrils on the preborn.
Suffering. Loneliness. Disease. Holocausts.
Martyrdom. Monsoons. If we assume this world exists just for
pregrace happiness, these atrocities disqualify it from doing so. But
what if this earth is the womb? Might these challenges, severe as they may
be, serve to prepare us, equip us for the world to come
? As Paul wrote
"These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make
all our troubles seem like nothing" (2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV)"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

He Says "Jump!" and You Say "How High?", Part 2

This post was originally written November 3, 2009. So I had reconciled myself to quitting school and bringing the older boys home to home school. At this time we are planning on leaving The Entertainer at his school because he receives extra support I simply cannot give him at home.

But there was more. More that I hadn't shared with Mr. Steady or my prayer warriors. God had asked me to quit my job too. I have a very good job. I am a sub-contractor for a car dealership and I make follow up calls after service visits. I work from home. I blog while I work. I browse Facebook while I work. My children sit next to me and do their homework while I work. I work during The Entertainer's nap time. I have a very good job.

But it does take a lot of time away from my family. There have been many times when I've worked late into the evening and come downstairs to find my children sitting in the dark watching a movie, having sat there so long they didn't realize dusk had set in. I often have to work on Saturdays because I can't squeeze all of my calls into The Entertainer's nap time. And at the end of the month when I have to turn my spreadsheet in is just a nightmare to get finished up.

So when God told me this also had to go I was quite befuddled. I don't make a lot of money but I do make enough money to help the family out. And since I can do it from home we don't have to pay for child care. I started to brainstorm ways I could get around this and still honor God's request for me to home school.

I thought: I'll just take the summer off and see how it goes, if it doesn't work out no one will be the wiser that I was going to quit.

I negotiated: I can give someone else half of my work so I'll only be working half the time but still have the income.

I rearranged: I could work in the morning while the boys do their independent work and The Entertainer is at school then in the afternoon we'll do school while The Entertainer is napping.

Then about a month after I got God's "memo" I received an email that the company lost the account I was working on and there were no other accounts available.

Okay God, I get it. If I won't quit my job, you'll make my job quit me.

By this time, I'm thinking that A) I'm still crazy but B) God's not joking.

He says "Jump!" and I'm learning to say "How high?"

Monday, January 4, 2010

He says "Jump!" and You Say "How High?", Part 1

Update: This post was originally written on November 3, 2009. Suffice it to say a lot has happened since then. Photo from Flickr by Sbmoot

About a month or so ago God spoke to me. He told me to quit school and bring my boys home to home school. He also had some fascinating other ideas that I am not ready to talk about here (but no, it didn't have anything to do with having a baby). I thought I was going crazy so for a couple of days I ignored Him.

You see, I have a plan. It may not be traditional or expedient but it has, for the most part, worked for my family thus far. I jokingly tell everyone I'm on the ten-year plan for my college degree. I have about three years left at the rate I'm currently going. Then I would teach in the classroom for three years and then be hired on by a virtual charter school. After this I would bring my boys home to home school while I work from home.

Herein lies the problem that God revealed to me. I want to bring The Thinker home when he is in fifth grade. Right now he is in third grade. Let's do the math:

Just in case you are worried, math is not my concentration.

So okay, I got it. I don't have six years. I will bring the boys home next year, Lord.

First I threw a Jonah sized fit. Then I mourned. Typing that out just now seems silly. I mourned my degree? But it was more than that. It was me seemingly failing, yet again. I had have people in my life who do a great job of reminding me of all my great plans that I never followed through with. Me laying down pursuing my degree was proving these people right: I can't finish anything I start.

Somehow Mr. Steady understood this as I relayed it over the phone through my slurpy tears and snotty-nosed sniffles. The Lord used my husband to answer "Are you living to please such-and-so or are you living to please the Lord? Who matters in the end?"

When God says "Jump!" I say "I will Lord! I love you so much that I will do that. But first, I have to (insert your own pathetic excuse here)" And again He says "Jump!" and I say "I truly intend to, Lord, but I've got this (insert seemingly pressing issue here) to take care of."

Have you ever thought the disciples? I have often wondered what would have happened if Simon Peter said "Rabbi, if you knew how much debt I have you would never ask me to leave my business. I have three more years to pay it all off. Once that is off my back I will surely come and find you and follow you."

Or what if Thomas had said "Gee, God, that seems like a great plan but my wife is having a party next week and she's making my favorite latkes. As soon as that is cleared off my schedule I'll look you up next time you're in town and maybe we can get together then?"

What if we are missing the biggest and best blessing of our life by telling God He has to wait? Wait until my faith is stronger, my sin is diminished, my husband/wife/son/daughter has changed, the debt is gone, the children are bigger, the business is thriving, the degree is awarded, the weight is lost, the.......

About two weeks after God revealed his plan* to me, I was at peace with homeschooling. I will put down my degree and enjoy these last fourteen or so years I have left with my children at home.

*or at least what I interpret His plan to be. As an aside, how many times have I prayed "Lord, reveal your will to me"? And then when He does I laugh and say "No way, uh huh, what's plan B? What else have you got?"

He says "Jump!" I'm learning to say "How High?"

To Be Continued.....