Saturday, November 27, 2010

good things

My gratitude list:

- Baby had two helpings of turkey soup, Peter had three.  "This turkey soup is so good!  Can I have another bowl?"  Having two people in this house who really like food--hubby and Peter--is rather nice, I've decided. I don't have control over very much in this life, but I can work hard in the kitchen and really make some people happy.

- Mary, sweet Mary, has a sweet tooth, like her Momma.  We made fudge today, finally, for the first time.  Very easy.  No glitches.  She loved it and it warmed my heart.  That's probably silly (especially since it's mostly sugar! Yikes!), but it really did give me the warm fuzzies to see my pretty girl enjoying her treat.

- Miss Beth was an into-everything terror while I made the soup.  My top was so about to blow.  But then I remembered it's a blessing to have a baby whose limbs can climb readily and whose arms can reach and whose legs can run.  She is not disabled.  Hallelujah.  If I were a drinker I would time a drink every night right around the dinner prep hour.  Lord knows I need some help with my nerves!  Fudge, instead?  Yeah.  That worked.

- The weather turned and we now read together under a blanket.  It just doesn't get any better than that--to cuddle with your little ones under a blanket on a cold night, enjoying a story.

- The children decorated the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving day.  It didn't get pulled down today by You Know Who, which is more than I can say about yesterday.

-  The church Christmas Pageant practices are going well.  This is such a huge undertaking, and our children's director does it joyfully, despite the extra practices taking away from her family time and leisure time.  My children consider it one of their holiday highlights.

- Penpals for kids.  Don't underestimate the joy a letter brings to a child.  To carry a letter to my son, and see his entire countenance change from serious to seriously thrilled, is so uplifting to me as a Momma.  Is it because his love language is affirming words that he likes them so much, I wonder? Paul is happy enough to get one, but not thrilled.  He's my cuddle bug.

- Pilgrim and Mayflower stories.  I love that they teach the rewards of having faith, courage, and long-suffering tendencies.

- Behind me are about five loads of laundry needing folding.  I'm mindful of the blessing it is to have plentiful, clean pajamas (or rather sweats), undergarments and linens

- Harry the Hamster is still alive, seems happy, and still livens up my evening blog and chore time by running furiously, continuously, on his wheel.  I don't ever get anywhere either, Harry.  Can you see my progress on the baskets of clean clothes?

And on that laundry note, I'd better be getting out of this chair.

Goodnight, friends!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving blessings and thoughts

A couple days ago I read a post that reminded me of how differently we live. This last Wednesday Pioneer Woman went to the "big city" with her husband and their four kids.  She did the Thanksgiving grocery shopping while the rest of the family went to a theater for a movie, popcorn and Twizzlers.

Nothing unusual about that.  Millions of Americans do it monthly, at least.

My kids have never experienced that.  From the looks of it, until they have jobs of their own, they may never know the inside of a movie theater.

No big loss, but it did remind me that much of America knows leisure time. Our outside-the-home leisure activities include visiting one of the several libraries in our area, or one of the several parks, or less often, a museum.  Even then, our time is rushed due to Daddy needing the van for work.

I don't read many blogs anymore.  Miss Beth's activity level, at twenty-three months old, makes it difficult to take little breaks.  The few I read seldom give such life details, so I don't often think about how differently we live.

I stand in awe of God's grace.

He has taken so much from us.  Even leisure time.  And yet I have joy.  I am fulfilled.  Stressed, yes, but much of that is not financial.  A special-needs eight-year-old child and a toddler with her hands into everything make stress my constant companion.  My other three passed through the hands-into-everything stage, so I have perspective.  This too shall pass.

If someone told me that, sometime after quitting my teaching career, I would....

... pay every utility bill a month late

...barely scrape up enough money for my house payment

...never take my kids to a decent restaurant, or to a movie theater

...never buy my kids or myself a new outfit

...not have a vehicle of my own

...always worry about how much gas I was using,.....

.....I would still be teaching.  The fear would've been insurmountable.  Such a lifestyle would never, never work for me, my head and heart would have screamed.

We look forward to library visits and park visits.  All of us.  There are so many around, and so much to do at each one, that we're always satisfied.

But how will my kids turn out, with so little knowledge of the world?

They'll be rich.  Materialism will not have consumed them, distracted them, betrayed them.  They'll know God's sufficiency, His power, His truths, His grace.

I stand in awe of God's grace.

My gratitude list:

- delicious sausage herb stuffing, pineapple/marshmallow sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, steamed green beans, cranberry sauce, wheat rolls, gravy, and turkey (never mind that the nutrition data blog says that this meal is probably equal to 3000 to 4000 calories)

- My toddler, though impatient and stressed while Mommy cooked hour upon hour, did not prevent the meal from happening or being delicious (we had no guests to help entertain her).

- I managed to do two loads of laundry while I cooked, to keep the pile from being gargantuan the day after Thanksgiving.

- The library was open today and the boys actually found a Curious George video.  They missed that cute little guy after we shut off the cable.  So did I.  Love that monkey!  Too bad my toddler is not amused by library videos.  None of mine paid any attention to television until after age two.  Makes meal prep a stressful venture, let me tell you!   Even so, Miss Beth hasn't received any burns from my busy stove.  Praise the Lord!  Now mind you, I've burned plenty of meals because of her.  Can't wait until the day husband is home during dinner prep.

- this healthier, homemade hot chocolate mixture

- My aunt, who is leaving our area to spend the winter in Florida, came by tonight to give the kids a Christmas gift--20$ gift card to the neighborhood Pizza Hut restaurant.  They are giddy with excitement!

- homeschooling around the holidays, and no cable TV (both prevent the gimmes)

- no money for Christmas, which means we'll experience the Christ in Christmas

- One of the libraries groups all the children's Christmas stories together.  We can feast on them readily all month, without Momma having to search.

- With each passing day, I love Little Men more and more.  Last night, after the boys went to bed, I did a search on Louisa May Alcott's life.  Very interesting.  I love that we're reading so many classics with good moral character as the central focus.  Priceless.  Kids remember lessons learned through story.

- My husband--loyal, faithful, hardworking, sacrificial.  He missed college football so much on Thanksgiving day!  I was sad for him.  Good food softened the blow considerably.  :) He ate so much he had to lie on the floor after the meal.  Miss Beth thought that was great fun and crawled all over him.

Hope your day was special!  Bless you, friends!

Just wanted to add that I need to write honestly on this blog.  It helps me spiritually, intellectually, to write about things as they are.  Never worry about us or think that you should offer to send something.  I always appreciate your love and caring attitude, but God takes care of us.  I'm not being stubborn or prideful when I say this.  Really.

Love you, friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

some perspective, some thanksgiving

Did you ever notice that no matter what you're going through, you can always think of someone who is going through something worse?  I've been following this blog for about two years now.   The blog author, Shannon, has two children, both afflicted with a rare and fatal disorder called Sanfilippo Syndrome.  She is watching her children slowly decline.  If no cure is discovered, they will die.

No matter how bad things look within my little world, I always think of Shannon.  Instead of rejoicing as her children grow, she fights tears at each lost skill.  Talk about an upside down world!

Her blog is raw and honest.  She doesn't try to paint a rosy picture; she grieves through her words. I admit that it's hard to read; sometimes I know what to say to her, and sometimes not.

Peter displayed some Obsessive Compulsive symptoms (OCD) when I experienced morning sickness during Beth's pregnancy.  When the second trimester began and things settled down, his symptoms went away.

Since late September of this year, we've seen more pronounced OCD symptoms.  Lately new things crop up frequently.  For example, he suddenly began reading a lot less, following a period of eagerly devouring books.  He also started reading aloud again, after already passing through that developmental stage.  He tells me he has to read aloud because it keeps him from skipping words.  He also rereads many phrases and entire sentences, for fear that he's skipped something.  Even though I've assured him he never skips words, he still repeats lines, making reading quite frustrating.  His brain, he tells me, makes him repeat lines so that Jesus won't be mad at him (distorted religious views are common with this disorder).

He can't be outside for more than two to five minutes before coming in to tell me that a stranger said something to him (but a stranger never does).  The obsession is a stranger talking to him, and the ritual is to come and tell me.  I am to say that no one spoke to him.  If I don't respond as needed, he gets stressed.  OCD kids go through these checking rituals, needing certain verbal assurances in order to go on with their day.  For example, a child might say, "I think I touched raw egg.  Am I going to be okay?"  And the parent must say, "Yes, you're okay."  The same sequence occurs over and over, driving the parent and child insane.

He also frequently says sorry to Jesus with his head bowed, because he either had a disturbing thought about hurting someone, or because he felt he did something wrong.  OCD people don't act on their disturbing thoughts, but nevertheless, the thoughts cause great stress, which is not relieved until they've done their ritual.

Peter no longer falls asleep easily and must ask me about several things, including if a fire will happen, a tornado, or other disaster.  He comes out of his room at least five times each night, asking me if such and such thing is going to happen, and I must assure him that, no, nothing bad is going to happen.

At times lately, I feel on the brink of despair.  To see my son suffering like this is so painful!  And, he takes up a lot of my time, leaving the other kids too little of my emotional energy.  They are distancing themselves from his bizarre behavior; this has happened subtly over time, despite my giving them simple lessons on what OCD is.

Peter knows all these things are irrational, but he can't stop.  We huddle and pray often now, asking God to help him fight these thoughts, and avoid doing the ritual.  To the Lord's credit, my sweet boy is not bitter, except for some jealousy of his younger brother, whom he perceives has an easy life, compared to his.

If unchecked or untreated, the rituals associated with OCD impair functioning, making it difficult to live a normal life--they take up too much of the sufferer's time, for one thing.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy--training them to challenge their thoughts and face their fears--in conjunction with medication, is the usual treatment.  Although OCD often shows up at seven years old, kids this age are not generally given psychiatric drugs, unless they are severely impaired.  We aren't going to seek OCD medication at this time, but Peter will see a neurologist to take a history and give recommendations for treatment (for the ADHD and OCD).

My husband's nephew has OCD and bipolar disorder, and my family has a history of anxiety disorders, so poor Peter, and my other children, have unfortunate genes on both sides.  I won't know if my girls are completely normal until they reach at least age eight (or adolescence, for bipolar).  Paul worries me in some respects, but it appears he will be less impaired than Peter.

My half brother has ADHD, and his daughter has bipolar and an anxiety disorder.  ADHD, OCD, Tourette's Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder often occur together.  They affect the brain similarly.  If a parent has ADHD, for example, his child may inherit one of the others, or both.

When Peter's reading symptoms cropped up, I was so mad at God.  How could He allow that pleasure to be tainted by this ugly disorder?  As well as Peter's time outside, and his beloved baking and cooking?

But it wasn't long before I thought of Shannon, watching her children slowly die of Sanfilippo.

Do I really have any problems at all, compared to hers?  I think not.

I trust God.  I trust the outcome.  But the journey is hard, despite His grace.

The challenge is to keep my eyes heavenward, every moment of the day.  I do that, lately, by doing the prayer huddles with the children.  At the very least, they help me ( and Peter and the kids) get through the next hour, at which time we huddle again, if necessary.  They are troopers and don't look upon the praying as a chore.

My gratitude list:

- My husband is off on Thursday and Friday.  He works seven days a week, normally.  Time off isn't paid, but it will still be a blessing to all of us.

- Smiles and hugs, given to each other as gifts

- Peter's wound is finally looking better.  For the first week, I wasn't getting the bandaging tight enough to hold the skin flap flat.

- Online friends.  All of you.  Thank you.

- Having online contact with other parents who have special-needs children.  All the flesh and blood people near us have normal children; they don't understand, nor do I expect them to.  Being understood feels priceless.  

2 Corinthians 1:4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 

- The ability to comfort others.  Without grief, without hardship, we never learn this.  To be able to comfort is priceless!  

- my sweet baby, sleeping better tonight (mild sinus infection following a cold)

- writing--it helps me process, and it allows God to speak to me

- Louisa May Alcott's Little Men, which has turned out to be quite a treasure.  No surprise there.

- The book of Proverbs--easy for young children to follow.  

- a warm house (Weather is turning.  Snow expected on Friday.)

- warm clothes

- Thanksgiving, for the togetherness it allows, for the attitude it teaches

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

where two or three gather

So many frustrating things right now.  Behavior, special-needs issues, sleep, finger injury, unpaid bills, poor peer influences at AWANA, poor chore follow-through at home--all these are challenging at the same time.  I haven't known what to say in this space this week.

The children and I have taken to huddling together a few times a day to pray our difficulties away and read some Proverbs.  When you just have no idea how to make things right or sane, it's time to call in the Expert, over and over again.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:20

I'm here tonight to express gratitude for....:

- a sweet art teacher.  My boys have loved their art class and learned many art techniques.

- a husband who stops to kiss me as he leaves, despite his stress

- a dishwasher, washer and dryer, clean drinking water, hot water, a vacuum that still works

- a trash man who took my extra leaf bags for free, despite a $3 a bag rule beyond 6 bags (a rule I didn't know about)

- playing outside in November in Ohio without a jacket

- a baby's first sentence (her speech is very unclear, but I'm glad for her phrases and now a tiny sentence.)

- a baby with curls down her back

- pumpkin pie cooling on the stove

- laundry caught up

- turkey thawing in the fridge for Thursday

- a boy who recognizes negative peer pressure and tells me: "I don't want to act tough and stupid.  I want to be sweet."

I'm not so sure pairing 3rd graders with 4-6th graders is a good idea.  We're praying about what to do with AWANA.  At this particular church, it's dominated by public-schooled kids who've lost innocence, sweetness, and respect (in the older class; younger classes are going well).  We want our boys to have godly role models for how young men should behave.  Yes, boys are wild at heart and I don't fight that--wouldn't want to fight God's design.  But they don't have to be disrespectful and callous as well.  What public school seems to do for older kids is to eliminate individuality and create a mob.  God help those who don't fit the mold!  Each child on his own might be quite nice, but in the mob, one only sees the "tough-and-unruly" act.

A nearby large church has a program similar to AWANA called Brigade (for boys).  That church has a homeschooled population mixed with Christian-schooled and public-schooled kids.  It might be an option when I have a vehicle (the car pick-up in PA didn't work out.  There is a probate issue with the car that needs the attorney's attention and their office is just not getting to it.)

Meantime, we are praying about how long to keep the kids in AWANA--a once-beloved program.  The teachers and helpers are wonderful, which makes the decision very difficult.  The kids and I are praying for the teachers (and students), who are challenged and stressed by the behaviors they're encountering with the boys.  The Scripture that stands out at me right now is this:

1 Corinthians 15:33 
Do not be misled:  "Bad company corrupts good character."

If it were just a couple boys, that would be easier to deal with.  But it's most of the twenty.  How long can I expect my son to stay on the fringe at his young age, and possibly be bullied?  If he were in high school or college, I've no doubt he could handle it.  But at eight years old, I think it's a lot to ask

Thursday, November 18, 2010

a hello

My baby hasn't been sleeping well enough to allow me any computer time this week.  We'll see how things go tomorrow night.  Hope all is well with you, friends!

Monday, November 15, 2010

the unexpected gift

Due to schedules, my husband and I can't enjoy much real conversation anymore.  We aren't your typical, dad-arrives-home-at-6:00 p.m. household. This morning in the ten minutes I had to talk with my him, I explained that I'd had an unexpected crying episode the previous night.  "Honey, I think I'm on the brink.  I need two hours to myself."

In the good ole' days, he might have ministered to me or asked me what was going on, and then found the extra time to watch the kids.  Now, since he's just as much "on the brink" as I am, he only looked at me seriously for a moment, and then mentally worked on carving out a couple hours.

He can usually study on Sunday night, but because of my little break today, he's still on the job at 11:00 p.m.,  the night before school.  I would feel guilty about that if it weren't for my being so sure I needed a break.  It did help.

Only God knows how long we'll be in our current situation.  When a man loses a job in his fifties, it's a very serious situation--one I wouldn't wish on anyone.  I know of a family who, in ten years, hasn't recovered, and they're exhausted.  It would make me feel better to know that someone out there is gleaning something from all this sharing.

May I please offer something?  If you're in your twenties, thirties, or forties, and you're regularly using credit cards (to replace broken items, for car repairs, for gifts or that much-needed weekend away, etc.) please remember this:  You can never take a job for granted, no matter what industry it's in.  God gives and he takes away.  Live under your means (less house, less car, less of everything), save, tithe, and give thanks for what you have.  Forget about how the Joneses live; they don't pay your bills.

God be my witness:  If we ever get out of this, I'll do everything I can to minister to the working poor, in practical ways, like offering to be a taxi, watch their kids, help with resume distribution, buy household supplies or socks and underwear (can't get those at thrift stores).  My mom bought the children some underclothes when she was here, thank the Lord.

The working poor live in a furiously busy, treading-water kind of way, always on the brink of exhaustion.  No, it's nothing like abject poverty, but it is maddening.  We're only surviving emotionally and spiritually because of God's grace.  As our circumstances become more and more humbling, He becomes more and more important to us--to our very survival.

The Lord has taught me to recognize my urgent need for Him as a blessing.  I'm thankful I can pass that knowledge on to my children, so they're not constantly wondering, "Why us, God?"  At seven and nearly-nine years old, my boys understand the upside-down nature of God's kingdom.  Praise God!

The friend who brought me to the Lord, Phyllis, suffered much in her life.  Unable to conceive children, she adopted two as infants.  Sixteen years later her husband committed suicide, causing painful rifts in the family.  Her children have been distant and nasty over the years.  Her daughter, now in her thirties and an alcoholic, just lost custody of her three children and may be facing a divorce, unless God delivers her from herself.

Phyllis' first grandchild, a baby boy, died of meningitis 12 years ago, which further alienated her son (the baby's father) from the Lord.  Losing his father so horribly, and then his first child, was more than David could bare.  He fell into drug use and got divorced.  Only now is he interested in a relationship with his mother--but not yet with God.  Her daughter, always angry at her mother, has no interest in the Lord, either.

As well, my friend does not have the gift of singleness, but the Lord has kept her single for some twenty years.  Right now she is a short-term missionary in Africa--that being a lifelong dream.  She worked two years in China just recently.  After her husband's death, she went back to school to get a teaching credential, and has been retired now three years.

But, and you guessed it, my friend has a relationship with the Lord that surpasses any I've seen.

As much as someone may try, it's difficult to walk closely with the Lord when all health is good, work is good, children are good, the house and cars are good, and the marriage is good.  Without desperation, we simply don't want much of God--at least not on a daily or hourly basis.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Here is my handsome boy, displaying the finger Momma learned how to wrap. Praise God, the wound is flat again!  As I was taking off the bandaid this morning, Peter smiled sheepishly, saying, "This kind of thing always makes me queasy."  I could only give him a chuckle and a hug, telling him I'm the same way.  I'll be so glad when this thing is completely healed!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

thankful for Father--that He's so close

Tonight, I'm so grateful that our heavenly Father is available to us at any moment.  How I need him!

Peter's wound needed to be washed and redressed this afternoon.  I feel so inadequate about wound care!  How I wish we could have the dressing changes professionally done.

The wound care specialist at the ER told me I could use a band aide if the wound looked good after the first home cleaning, and since I don't know how to wrap wounds well, I was grateful to hear this. It did look good, so I washed it, put on the antibiotic gel, and then covered it with a large band aid bandage.

Then, a few hours later, the bandage came off.  The wound didn't look as flat as it did when I took off the specialist's dressing.  Peter had gone outside to play, finally, after doing indoor things for two days.  Did riding his bike make it puffy and was that a mistake?  I know it's not infected--no sign of that.  And I know wounds can get puffy in the healing process.  But I worried myself so much this evening, wondering if the wound would close nicely without mishap, and wondering if I'd done something wrong.

As I was reading Little Men (Louisa May Alcott) to the boys before bed, I cried at one part, and then couldn't stop crying.

Oh my, I thought.  Am I going through perimenopause or something--is this a crying spell, a mood swing, like my sudden anger yesterday?  Or was the emotion just related to worry about Peter's finger?

I don't know, but I was too emotionally exhausted to pray with the boys, even, when I tucked them in.  All I could do was get into bed with each of them in turn, cuddling and telling them I loved them.

I'll whisper this verse over and over tonight, and go to bed early:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30


Today started like any other day.  Nothing significantly different.

Except for the intense anger I fought all morning.

I looked at the dining room floor, full of tiny leaf remnants.  The carpet throughout the house?  The same.

Some can't stand a sink full of dishes, or a disheveled bathroom, or unfolded laundry.  For me, dirty floors and carpets are the trigger.

Ignoring it wasn't possible; it was just too littered.  Finding uninterrupted time to sweep and vacuum large areas is a challenge with a toddler in my midst.

 Here's my busy toddler, stealing the cheese Momma is grating for Shepperd's Pie.  

Too, I was behind on laundry.  It was everywhere! The folding is a problem for me, but the washing and drying and hanging I usually keep up with.  Just not the last few days.  We dedicated time outside to rake and bag leaves, partially so they'd quit showing up on my floors.  But no deal. They're still here.

Along with the laundry.

Buy why my intense anger?  I rarely feel like the house actually looks good. Only when company is due does the place shine--and that at great cost to the family.  Otherwise, there's always a problem area, or two, or three.

Insignificant.  That's how I felt, looking at the room full of leaves, which I'd just vacuumed yesterday.  I just clean and reclean.  Is there any true value in that?  Some days are so discouraging, it's hard not to feel like Cinderella.

Some women are significant because of a career, a business, a published book, a ministry, a family name, a website, etc.

Me?  I'm insignificant.  My corner of the world is very small.

Or so it feels, some mornings.

I could end this here, because I know that adding Scripture about humbling oneself and serving others doesn't change the daily reality for mothers with toddlers and babies and other littles.   Always feeling behind and always having a huge list to complete, is just plain hard.  Thankless. Maddening. Monotonous.

Feeling behind is a season of mothering.  When there are babies and littles among us, we do less and cuddle more.  There's no formula or answer. Things are just messy.  It doesn't mean we've failed or that we're slobs--no matter what outsiders may think.

But that feeling of insignificance I spoke of?  That we must fight!

As mothers, how many lives do we impact?  Don't think just the number of your children, as you answer this.  Think of your children's friends, their future spouses, their in-laws, your grandchildren and great grandchildren and their whole families, and anyone else who will ever reap a  benefit--however small--from  your mothering legacy.

The impact of one mother is huge!  Immeasurable.

Those that have careers?  Successful websites or businesses?  Large ministries?  Published books?  That's all well and good and more power to them.

Most of you, if you had those ambitions, could do the same.  But it would mean less time to concentrate on mothering, even if you did them from home.  Some of the time you'd be absent in mind, even if present in body.

If you've chosen mothering, and just mothering, don't feel insignificant.  Your impact is huge and doesn't end when you die--especially if you're training your children in the ways of the Lord.

As I thought of this today, my anger melted.  I didn't fight another negative thought all day.

I believe the Lord helped me.  I confessed and prayed while I nursed Beth at naptime, and after that, things changed.

I changed.

Choosing just motherhood is noble.  If you can't do it with joy and love, ask Him for help.  Anytime.  Any day.  He is faithful to put feelings in us--feelings of joy, hope, love, significance.

He never expected us to do this well.....alone.  We forget that so often, don't we?.

We are supposed to ask for help!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
Matthew 7:7-11

Friday, November 12, 2010

fingers and leaves, oh my

Sometimes I have organized thoughts.  Sometimes not.  

Sometimes I start out with disorganized thoughts, but as I keep typing, God arranges them just so.

Not tonight, I'm thinking.  Nothing coherent coming out of this frazzled-nerved lady.

We had a nice day up until Peter sliced his finger open with the lid of a mandarin orange can.  

You see, they wanted me to make ambrosia salad (canned fruit, sour cream, marshmallows, coconut).  Peter wanted to help.  I opened a can of mandarin oranges and asked him to please throw it away so that Beth wouldn't find it and cut her finger on it.  As he pushed down the lid, his finger caught slightly.  He panicked and forcibly pulled his finger loose, slicing it open.  

The blood was substantial. The panic was substantial.  The pancakes burned.  The girls, hearing Peter carry on so, started crying.  Momma, weak kneed, applied pressure to the skin flap wound, stopped the bleeding, doused it liberally with iodine, and called Daddy to come home.  Then, while Peter held on a dressing and applied more pressure, I finished cooking dinner.  

Peter calmed down nicely as we dined together (was it the pancakes and turkey bacon?), but kept questioning me about the stitches.  Remembering going through hell during Mary's stitches procedure two years earlier, I said as little as possible, while my nerves continued to frazzle

Daddy came home, reluctantly, since he'd only slept a few hours the night before.  He knew this would delay his bedtime by a few hours (he would have to start his last job later than usual).  

But.  There were pancakes and bacon and thawed mixed berries waiting for him.  So he got over his disappointment.  


Homemade pancakes.  Bacon.  The answer to so many of life's little dramas.  (They would prefer the real thing, as far as the bacon goes, but Momma only buys lower-salt turkey bacon).

Turns out, at the children's ER, they only cleaned and dressed it.  Since it was a skin-flap wound on the finger, which has so many lines anyway, they don't worry about scarring.  Once the wound is professionally cleaned, they can just dress it and let the finger close on its own.

Peter survived the minor procedure quite well.  Having the wound flap pulled back for thorough cleaning hurt, but he didn't panic or cry.  Later, as I helped him with his pajamas, he smiled and said, "Thank you for taking care of me."

We did have a nice day, as I said, up until the wound.  The children and I raked and bagged 24 garbage bags of leaves (over two days).  Working hard together has been a blessing!   So much so, that I want to think up other work projects we can do together.  

When we were almost done with the leaves, Peter said, "The best thing about raking leaves together is spending fun time with your Mom."  

Oh, my heart!  It  m. e. l. t. e. d.

This post by Amy from Raising Arrows, about teaching boys the value of hard work, was on my mind while we plugged away at the leaves.  She shared some great thoughts.

Miscellaneous  pictures

Paul received this puzzle for his birthday from Auntie Lorrie.  It was a challenge, since the picture completely changes as your head moves.  It wasn't called three-dimensional--the name of this type escapes me.  Anyhow, Paul loved the challenge.

 Harry the Hamster is adjusting nicely to our family. He is nocturnal and runs on his wheel late into the night.  I can hear him all over the house on that thing.  He's a nice pet for Peter's age, but next time we'll choose a gerbil, which is not nocturnal.  Hamsters must be handled every day, so Harry does wake up for his daily lovin'.

I love that Peter is so responsible in his care of Harry.  It makes me smile and gives me reason to lavish him with praise, which is always a good thing.  During Sunday School last week, Peter prayed that Harry would live the maximum three years.  Sweet.

 Pics from the leaf pile.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

be of good cheer, I have overcome the world

Good afternoon, Blog World.  How is your day going?

Mine?  No so good.

But there is this one blessing that keeps on blessing, even on the worst of days.  It's my nursing relationship with my soon-to-be two year old.  Lying down with her, cradling her body while she nurses, makes me the happiest woman on earth.  Truly.  My body completely relaxes, no matter the intensity of the morning's stress.

I think of my precious baby, and her precious siblings, and about the joy that comes from being a Mommy.

That floor that lately needs a sweeping and mopping daily?  Suddenly, I forget why it mattered so much.

That creditor calling three times a day because they don't wait for you to get a higher-paying job?  Suddenly, I know it will work out.

The hyperactive, over-stimulated child who grates on my nerves--everyone's nerves?  Suddenly, I see only his heart.

Perspective comes, and with it, joy.

It makes me wonder about all the other natural ways God relieves our stress.  Have we forsaken many of them, in our modern world, and not even realized it?  Is that why drug prescriptions for stress-related conditions are on the rise?

In this world we will know tribulation (John 16:33).  But God, in his love and grace, has given us little pockets of blessings--like mother/child nursing, sunsets, sunrises, cardinals by the window, sun glistening off snow blanket, a hug, a dancing butterfly, a rainbow....

All these things?  They help bounce our gaze--off ourselves, and onto Him.  With our eyes resting on Him, we overcome.

"In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Worried About Your Child's Future? Part 2

In Part I of this series, I stated that separating my part in preparing my boys for their futures, from God's part, helps alleviate my fears.  In doing this, I'm concentrating on what I can control, verses what I can't.  Biblically speaking, my part is to teach my children about the precepts of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6), and keep my children from folly, without frustrating or angering them. (Proverbs 22:15, Ephesians 6:4)

There are two facets to God's part, in my mind.  First, there is his will for my sons' lives, and secondly, there are his promises.

My first and most important parenting lesson came on a gray November day in the year 2000.  I was thirty-four years old and 21 weeks pregnant with my first child.  During a routine ultrasound that day, I was told that my son had died.

The lesson, on which I had a refresher course in 2005, was this:  Our children do not belong to us.  They are His.  Those we have the privilege of rearing are no more ours than the precious ones we bury early.  Their heavenly Father can call them home at any moment. Any moment.

"See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who puts to death and gives life.  I have wounded, and it is I who heals; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand." Duet. 32:39

The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low and He also exalts.  1 Sam 2:6, 7

In the above verses we are confronted with God's Sovereignty.  And in these:

Prov. 16:4  The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Prov. 19:21  Many are the plans of a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will be established.

He pre-wrote my sons' stories, just as he did mine. (Jeremiah 1:9)  While I can't predict the turns their lives will take, I do know they will suffer, as their father and I have done, and all the ancestors that lived before us. 

"In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."  Philippians 1:29

I was a baby Christian that November day in 2000, only knowing the Lord three years, and knowing marital bliss just sixteen months.  In those dark grief days, it seemed that I had nothing to live for.  My wedding pictures, once a source of joy, seemed to mock me from the mantle.  Would we have been smiling so wide, I wondered, if we'd known of the sorrow to come? 

I wrestled with God's sovereignty for the next five months, until conceiving Peter.  With hope growing inside me, I delved into Scripture to learn more about God's purpose and will for mankind.  

What did I learn and find comfort in?  

That he created us in love, to share his love with us (to fellowship with us), and to bring glory to Himself.  

"Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, yea, I have made him."  Isaiah 43:7

"For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:  it shall not return unto me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

But no, we are not puppets.  God allows us free will, and our will intersects with God's sovereignty on the cross.  This is how I know that God created us in love, to share his love:  

The cross proves it.

God uses our choices for good.  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

God has a plan for us, and also a purpose.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

From Scripture we know:
- that God is sovereign
- that He created us to share his love with us and to bring glory to Himself
- that we were created to do good
- that He has plans to prosper us.

When I find myself worrying about my boys' future, I remember all that Scripture teaches me.  Three T's help summarize it for me:

I have to Teach my children about the precepts of the Lord.

I must Treasure my children, for I know not, how long they'll be with me.

I can Trust the Lord's sovereignity, for he created my sons to share his love with them, and he has plans to prosper them and have them do good.

Teach, Treasure, Trust

In the next and final part of this series, I want to discuss the blessings that come from disability and weakness, and explain why we must not look upon them as curses.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Glory to God in the Blogosphere

I think the greatest blessing of the Christian blogosphere is the spread of personal testimony.  Many people--especially those who find writing cathartic--will share boldly, honestly, through writing.  There is an illusion of safety when the audience is invisible.   Anonymously, it's easier to humble ourselves, revealing how God brought us low.

But the stories don't end there--in lowness.  They end triumphantly, because in low living there is Kingdom-style blessing.  Remember the upside-down nature of God's Kingdom?

When we continue to follow the story, we are never disappointed.  While at first we feel pity for the author, in the end we are only amazed.  At God.  At his Glory.  His Majesty.  His provision.  His faithfulness.  His way.

It is human nature to attempt self-exaltation--think Facebook, Twitter and constant status checking.  As Christian bloggers (or Christian FB or Twitter users), we must strive to exalt God.  It is only in giving Him the glory, that we truly find fulfillment.

Thinking on these verses today:

You will save the humble people; but your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.  
2 Samuel 22:28 (NKJ)

The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.
Psalm 25:9 (NKJ)

When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2 (NKJ)

But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says:  "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up.
James 4:6-7,10

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  
1 Corinthians 10:12

A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.
Proverbs 29:23 (NKJ)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worried About Your Child's Future? Part l

I learned more about my husband's childhood during my sister-in-law's recent visit.  While the details she provides help me apply grace to my wonderful husband, they also highlight the uphill battle I face as a parent..

Forgive me for a lengthy lead in to today's topic, which is: Worried About Your Child's Future? Part l.

My sister-in-law described being traumatized by her father's ongoing treatment of her brother.  As a lad my husband was always in trouble; little mercy was applied, despite his mother standing up for him  Nobody suspected AD/HD, as it simply wasn't known in everyday circles.  Having the inattentive type, my husband forgets things frequently and doesn't complete tasks thoroughly the first time.  These symptoms sent his father into a rage.

Not knowing otherwise, people assume the inattentive-type AD/HD sufferer is lazy and incompetent.  Unable to impress people or completely satisfy them, the sufferer lives with daily frustration and anger, and a feeling of failure.  As I said, none of this was understood when he was young, and I've only come to understand it as his wife in the last few years, due to 8-year-old Peter's hyperactive/impulsive type AD/HD, and 7-year-old Paul's inattentive type.  My husband, for his part, is only now understanding why "success" has eluded him all these years, and why his father hated him.

Regularly, I see my husband struggle.  It's hard to watch, and it leads me, at times, to fret about my boys' futures.  The past few days have been one such time, and I wanted to share how I pull myself out of these worrying frenzies.

If your children don't display any unusual behaviors or conditions, you probably won't understand this post completely.  Still, I'll try to present it so that all mothers can glean something.

First off, I have reason to worry.  Peter is becoming more of a bully toward his siblings (especially toward his brother).  His pediatrician warned me that bullying would become more of an issue around ten years old (Peter will be nine in January).  Due to his impulsiveness, frustration quickly becomes aggression.  Medication to treat the impulsivity aggravates his tic disorder and his OCD symptoms.  He washes his hands far too often, causing them to bleed. Sadly, last week he gave up helping with baking (which he used to love) because of contamination fears regarding the eggs.

Additionally, Peter strangely and audibly tells God he is sorry for insignificant things, for fear some punishment will befall him (distortion of religious beliefs--Martin Luther had this type of OCD and suffered profoundly, leading to his historically significant emphasis on grace (Protestant Reformation), rather than works, as the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

I worry that Peter won't be able to hold down a job and support a family, or that he'll be able to do so only by taking a few different medications (which would be tragic, given the side effects with these types of drugs).  I worry he will frustrate his wife and kids, leading to increased feelings of failure.

I worry that Paul, who has the inattentive type, will always be perceived as incompetent or lazy.  He is extremely bright, especially in math and problem solving and spatial relationships, but without the ability to stay on task, his intellect may be wasted (although tasks he enjoys are not a problem, as is typical in these cases). Will he become a perpetual underachiever, I wonder?

Having summarized my recurrent worries, let me now discuss what helps me regain peace and joy, after a period of worry.

A couple of things help me consistently.

First, I separate what I'm responsible for, versus what God is responsible for.  Knowing what I can control helps alleviate worry.

So, what am I responsible for, according to God?  What kind of a parent must I be?

I must teach my children about the precepts of the Lord, and keep them from folly:

"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6 ESV

"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it from him."  Proverbs 22:15 ESV  (I do not believe this refers only to spanking.  The rod was used to redirect wayward sheep; it had a crook in it.  Redirection is imperative, and perhaps at times, it may include spanking, depending on the child's disposition.)

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD."  Ephesians 6:4 ESV

The above verses represent my part in this child-rearing gig.  When I catch myself worrying, I remember that as long as I dedicate my days to these endeavors, God is pleased and honored.  He will reward my efforts, though imperfect, and pepper them with grace.

It's tempting to get distracted by education and even let it be our god, as parents.  Society wants us to regard it as the only means to success. Resist that.  What kind of "success" are we after for our children, anyway, as Christian parents?  Certainly not financial success--although there's certainly nothing wrong with it if it comes.  We're not after recognition for our children, either.

Our goals must focus on the heart.  Spiritual training first; multiplication tables later. 

To Be Continued.

Friday, November 5, 2010

gratitude and introducing Harry the Hamster

 Auntie Lorrie and Mary
 Auntie Lorrie brought each child a Christmas present (we won't see her again until the spring).  Mary received a beautiful Rapunzel dress-up dress and a matching Barbie doll.  She is thrilled

Auntie Lorrie and Peter
 Our suggestion for Peter's gift was a cage for a hamster. We decided he needed a pet who will stay around for all seasons.  He loves his insects and amphibians in the summer, so winter gets long for this young lad.  A hamster seemed like just the thing.

This is Harry.

 And boy, he's a hit!  We picked him up Wednesday morning, and he's barely been out of Peter's sight, except for school time.  Very popular with Mary too, who is a sister after Peter's own heart.  She misses her butterflies, don't you know.  Summer is her favorite season as well.

Wait!  Is this me or Harry?  I get mixed up.  My days look an awful lot like this!  A spinning wheel, indeed.

 Auntie Lorrie with Paul and Mary

Paul just finished his airplane model, received for his birthday from Momma and Daddy.  

Baby Beth was asleep when I took these.  She received a stuffed dog and matching storybook.

My gratitude list:

- for sweet kids.  Not perfect, but sweet.

- for the privilege of caring for this family.  For making and serving them wholesome foods, bathing their squirrelly bodies, reading to their eager minds, for teaching them the ways of the Lord.  For all of it, thank you, Lord.

- for a faithful husband, strong in spirit, mind, and body, dedicated to all of us

- for Auntie Lorrie, who loves my children with all her heart

- for a house I enjoy mothering in, teaching in, dwelling in

- for a Heavenly Father who loves me

- for homeschooling

- for the new towels Lorrie gave us for Christmas (badly needed)

- for love that heals all

- for love that perseveres

- for love that is not self-seeking

- for love that is not easily angered

- for love that keeps no record of wrongs

- for a husband who loves me like these verses, even during times of trial and fatigue

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 
1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Flood yourself with grace, Momma

As moms, we too often focus on the ways we fall short.

That grace we were reaching for in the witching hours?  We didn't quite get there.

The nagging--which, if you'll permit me a generalization, probably occurs more frequently in homes with boys--gets on everyone's nerves.  And yet, doing it all for them--picking up wet towels, socks, shoes, dirty clothes--only prolongs their dependence.   What's a mother to do?  We strive for a calm, quiet reminding voice, but inevitably, by midday, our calmness dissipates.

Our self-esteem often plummets with our calmness.

Let me take a moment to remind you, and me, why we need to look upon ourselves with grace in this season..  My sister-in-law is visiting as you know, and my husband noted this morning that she desperately needs a break from the kids, which I'm sure is true.  She arrived Tuesday at 3 p.m. Today is Thursday.

It sometimes takes a visitor's reaction to domestic Mommy life to remind us how long and hard we work, pouring ourselves out, with no break.  Most people thrown into our situation could. not. handle. it.  In fact, God rarely throws someone into domestic child-rearing life suddenly.  We grow our families slowly, and as the craziness multiplies, so does our patience, skill, and tolerance.  Praise the Lord!

But in all of it, we lose sight of this:  This domestic Mommy gig is the hardest, longest job of all.  Caring for aging parents is hard too, but generally not as long.  Grace, Momma.  Flood yourself with it today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A beautiful day

My gratitude list:

- My baby is still a baby for 38 more days.  When she's two, what will I do?  Yikes!

- My seven-year-old birthday boy said of his birthday, "This was my best day ever!"  Praise God!

- My house is clean, notwithstanding the vacuum cleaner that keeps spitting out the dirt.  Husband took it apart tonight, so I'll give it a try tomorrow.  Perhaps it doesn't like leaves?  Who knows!  Anyhow, my house is clean. That's the blessing part!

- The chocolate birthday cake was delicious.  Every time I make this cake, I'm astounded by how good it is.  Really.  I've given it to you before, but I know most people don't have time to click on links.  Come back for this link when you have time.  It really is a delightful cake.  And simple.  What in the world was I doing using a cake mix for most of my life?  Oh, how I wish someone had told me!  There really is a difference!

- Auntie Lorrie always brings the children their Christmas present during her November visit.  They had a wonderful night.  We all did.  Pics coming tomorrow.

- Lorrie is people-oriented and I am task-oriented.  In fact, it doesn't even occur to her to take her dinner plate to the kitchen.  Even when I was eight months pregnant and trying to make Thanksgiving dinner with swollen feet and veins, she did not help.  She always plays with the kids.  Not surprisingly, the first ten years of our relationship, there was strain--typical in-law strain.  She is basically my only in-law, because husband's mother died in an accident when he was sixteen, and there isn't a relationship with his father.  I explained that situation in my previous blog, but haven't touched on it here.  Anyhow, Lorrie and I simply didn't understand each other.  When she would visit, I always felt like Cinderella.  Everybody else had loads of fun.  For the longest time, I thought her behavior very rude.  Now that I understand her natural bent, and my own, I can let it all go and appreciate her.

I can't tell you exactly how she feels now, but I think seeing how much work the children are time and again, along with the meals and laundry, she now understands that unless I stay on my toes, the family isn't well cared for. She understands and appreciates me more now, too.

For my part, I have to be mindful that task-oriented mothers need to try very hard to make time for their children.  Whatever a mother's bent, her children need her presence.  Depending on the child's specific love language, some more than others.

I encourage you, if you have difficulty with an in-law, to consider how God made that person.  Is she (or he) a Martha and you are a Mary?  Or vice versa? They can't help their natural tendencies anymore than you can.  Just something to chew on.

More tomorrow, friends.  Many more blessings.

Love to all!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I voted!

Mommy and Daddy proudly posing for Peter, who took an election day, "I voted!" picture


Did I mention I had a guest coming Tuesday afternoon?  And needed to purge items to send back with our guest?  And declutter and clean the house?  And make a seventh birthday cake for Paul, and shop for the coolest, big boy, model-type Lego toy to be found for under $20.00?  And decorate the house with balloons and streamers?  Decorations are Peter's present to the birthday boy--who celebrates his big day tomorrow.  (No party is planned--my kids just love party decor.)

I had no help today, needless to say.  No, Auntie Lorrie is not picky.  But this house is so not clean and ready.  And her room is not ready.  I've only gotten so far as finishing the packaging of the giveaway stuff I was storing in half that room (baby's room).

I should add that we have inadequate storage space (no garage or basement) so getting ready for a guest is always problematic.

Children eight and under do not leave their Momma alone.  Much.

They try, perhaps, but the more I stick to my guest-readying tasks, the worse things become.  Taking little cuddle breaks helps some.  But they always know when Momma's on a cleaning mission; things are never good after that.  They love their Auntie Lorrie intensely, but that love never translates into cooperation when housekeeping tasks become paramount.. What that love does translate to, is excited chaos.

And don't even get me started on the AT&T company who kept me on the phone for an hour, mostly on hold, while they connected me to seven different people, usually prefacing the switch with, "Let me get a specialist who can handle that."  Baby Beth screamed the last fifteen minutes of my hold time.

Why, pray tell, did I need to speak with AT&T?  Since you asked, I'll get it off my chest.  I called last month to cancel my Internet service, in an effort to save money.  But as we thought about the job hunting, and the time necessary at the library to send out e-mail resumes, it didn't seem feasible for our schedule to cancel service entirely.  So I downgraded to basic speed.  It appears that the order went through, since I can no longer use the Internet to watch/listen to Christian music without the video freezing up multiple times.  Nor can I watch any news videos.

Anyhow, when the bill came today, I noticed I was still getting charged for the faster speed.  After an hour, when I finally got the right attendant and we were nearly done, my cell phone dropped the call.  This was after I bounced my very upset baby on my hip for the last fifteen minutes of the call!  I wonder why they can't train their people to do more than one simple customer service task?  The second to last attendant took all my information, acted like he was going to help me, and then put me on hold, only to tell me later that he could upgrade someone's service, but not downgrade it.

So, I'm back to square one.  Slow Internet speed for too much money.  I think I'll wait a day to deal with them again.  Thanks be to God that I was patient, even if Baby was not.

To say I had a challenging day is an understatement.  I'm not sure I've ever needed to count blessings more than I do today.

My gratitude list:

- my children have a Christian relative in their Auntie Lorrie, whom we all love dearly  They have only two other Christian relatives--my father's sister, who resides in our small township, and husband's aunt, who resides in PA..

- that I even have a house to declutter

- that a little fourteen-month-old boy and his young parents are getting eight large garbage bags of loot.  Wish I could have packaged it better, but boxes wouldn't fit as well and we wanted to get it all out in one load.

- that Paul gets to go to Toys R Us tomorrow with Daddy, to pick out some sports equipment, per Grandma and Grandpa's birthday check.  Maybe I can get husband to take all four kids with him, before he leaves for work?  I can clean at a very rapid pace when the house is empty!

- that I have a sounding board for days like today, in my Internet friends.  Much better than burdening husband.  He doesn't need news of hassles at home right now.

- that my little Mary is singing her Christmas pageant songs loud and proud.  She loves the CD we were given to practice with!  We all do, actually.

- that I still like my haircut, on day two.

- that we have a working furnace (bitterly cold today)

- that libraries are nice places to go in the winter (all year, of course, but winter especially).

- that I may have the van to myself soon, if all goes well, and can go to libraries at will during the snow months.  Do you think that second car is coming just in time to save Momma's winter sanity?  Yes, I agree.

- That my heavenly father prompted me to go into Mary's room for a cuddle after a tough day.  She woke her sister up tonight after I tried so hard to settle Beth down to sleep.  Momma was harsh at first.

- That I know tomorrow will probably not go as smoothly as I hope, but that Lorrie is kind and understanding and it won't matter a bit to her.  Daddy won't arrive home until late, so thank goodness Lorrie will be here to help sing Paul a happy birthday and share his cake and Lego delight.

- My kids will be so happy when Lorrie comes through that door, that all the stress of getting the abode ready and comfortable will melt away.  They are always proud of Momma when the house is nice and clean for guests.  Strange, huh?  That they make it so difficult, yet appreciate it so much?

- That once Lorrie arrives, I'll be able to love on my little Beth to my heart's content.  She deserves some one on one, beyond our sweet nursing times.  That time always gets neglected when I'm involved in a project.  Wish we had grandparents here to help with these times.

- That my experiences here remind me to pray for my children's adult needs--that they'll develop rich support systems as they build their families.  We are older parents and we'll be even older grandparents, but this matter isn't too big for Father, to be sure.