Please Stand By…

Don’t you hate it when you experience technical difficulties? I do. Probably more because it reveals how easily annoyed I can be…by the most insignificant things.

Like…cleaning the bathroom thoroughly on a Saturday morning as a kid, only to have your dad come in and wash his hands after mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car…Can you imagine? All the hard work, literally down the drain. You think I jest? Oh no, just ask my dad…

Or what about mopping your floors, getting a mirror-like shine and then have your dearly beloved children or grandchildren or most loved husband walk through with mucky shoes? No? Never happened? I believe you lie…

For me, the bigger annoyances are sitting down to write my post, that my readers are truly panting to read, only to be kicked off the internet. Over. And over. And over…

My need to save money is pretty deep. But my need for consistent internet access is deeper. So I fired my provider, and switched to a new provider. And you know what? I haven’t been kicked off all week. And I have been able to upload pictures SUPER FAST…So I am giving my blog a new try.

I had to make a sacrifice, though. Because I still had to save some money. So…I got rid of cable tv…No more extra channels. No more tv shopping…(yeah, never did those anyway)…no more DIY channels…Somehow, I think I will survive. Maybe.

Now I have a Roku device…Netflix, HuluPlus, Pandora…and a bunch of “channels” I have yet to explore. And you know what? I didn’t turn on the tv for viewing at all for a few days…I chose to just to listen to my purely customized radio stations on Pandora. I missed watching the FIFA World Cup, but…honestly I think we will manage JUST FINE without those channels. After all, I can catch up on Monarch of the Glen…or the English version of Sherlock…all those old movies…

But all those internet problems did get me thinking about technical difficulties, bad connections and other things that can frustrate us, and it made me think about what happens when I don’t have a clear connection in my relationships. If you have ever experienced technical problems, you probably checked the cables to assure that they were properly connected. You also probably checked the batteries, or the power button or a host of other possibilities. And then you checked the manual or called customer service to speak with an “expert” to “troubleshoot.” (I always like the “check to make sure the power is on” tip.)

So if my relationship with God is not what it should be, where do I turn? Interesting that there is an expert and a manual to address the problems I  experience. I can almost always connect my problems in my spiritual life to a common source…Me. I may ignore the relationship, perhaps I do not feed it a healthy diet, or maybe I have covered up sin rather than confess it…Basically, I disconnect myself from the Source.

It’s not that God abandons ME, but rather I abandon Him. I live my life unplugged (NOT like music) and do things on my own power rather than relying on His power. He offers me a static-free, always ON connection to an endless and abundant source. So why do I fail to use that Source? Why, after so many examples and assurances of His presence and faithfulness do I so easily forget? I do not have an answer to the question that is revolutionary. But, when I am withdrawn and cold, I know that it is worth checking on how secure my connection is to avoid more connectivity issues. And that means getting in an uncomfortable position…on my knees.

Tell me, are YOU plugged in securely to the true Source of life?

I Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

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When your heart is broken in a million pieces…

I write about life, usually from a variety of different angles, because that is how I view life. Life is not flat…it is dimensional in every way. Nothing is truly just superficial.

There are close family members and friends who are just like family who have gone through some of life’s most anguishing struggles.

I have grieved as I have watched drugs assault and destroy the hope and promise of a much loved young man. A young man who “seems” to have so much to live for, yet who has found his drug of choice to reduce his own mental anguish. It isn’t just this young man who is suffering from his addiction, but his parents, siblings, extended family and friends. That addiction has been a never-ending, runaway roller coaster ride for a very long time…The “answers” man offers up just don’t address what is truly an issue of the heart…

Depression and suicide have recently devastated the lives of two different families…tell me, what words would you offer to the grieving parents? Brothers and sisters? Sons and daughters? Would you know what to say to someone whose heart just burst into a million, tiny, jagged pieces?

I am full of words, but I had none to offer.

A friend, who is more like a daughter, has been struggling through her father’s cancers…not just one, but two different kinds, simultaneously. And now, she finds that her husband has a brain tumor…At some point, I think we just silently lift our longing eyes to heaven because we no longer can find the words we need to pray effectively. That is when the Spirit takes our heart’s groanings and translates them into prayers…

Then there are those things that we cannot talk about…those hurts that we have in common with others, but are not ours to share. The “confidential” ones…you know, when we put on that brave face and cover up our pain because…well just because we can’t talk about it.

We tend to be masters of disguise…burying things so deeply because we want to be “strong”. Ha. We are not strong. Our very breath is a gift of that moment…we have no promises of a future breath.

How often do we TRULY look at life within the understanding of the scope of its temporal and temporary confines? And then, do we step back and simply gaze at the unfathomable eternity and still stand amazed in spite of the anguish of these earthly lives filled with earthly struggles?

That is what I am doing today…trying to see beyond the temporal and the temporary…for that glimpse of future Glory…

Psalm 73:1-2, 21-28

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped…

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

It’s Saturday…

I haven’t written since the end of August. Wow. August. Seems a lifetime ago.

As is so often the case, life tends to interfere with the best laid plans. My personal initial commitment to write every day. Not happening.

It isn’t that I don’t have a boatload of material. I have several mental storage units full of ideas and stories.

It isn’t that I am not motivated. Believe me, the motivation is there, too.

What ISN’T there is a consistent, always on internet connection to my computer. And the internet is always on. My computer just likes to pretend that it isn’t anywhere around.

I tried a little doohicky that you plug into the USB port…it worked! Yes! For like, three weeks when it broke and no longer worked. For $50, I expected a little more time.

I could connect my computer directly to the router, but that is housed in a room usually inhabited by a sleeping child. And what is the point of having WIFI if you have to plug your computer into a router???

So writing became too much of a challenge, and I just stopped writing. And I really missed it.

All those funny stories.

All that developmental lesson planning.

Chronicling the life-changing events of the daily mundane that isn’t mundane at all.

But that has all changed. I know, you are breathing a sigh of relief. And you are holding your breath waiting for it…

I finally got a WIFI Range EXTENDER!!! Now, theoretically, even though my router is only 20 ft. away and should be giving me a signal. FAIL. But the extender is right by me, and it HAS A SIGNAL!

Oh the freedom of not being tethered. Oh the joy…I can use my laptop in the living room! I CAN WRITE AGAIN!!! Do you hear me?

All that pent up garbledy-gook that runs rampant in my head will once again have an outlet. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

But what does that have to do with Saturday?

Well, my foray back into the vast blagosphere is happening today. Saturday.

And Superman is building the first fire of the season in the fireplace, down in the basement.

Oh joy. Happy, happy, happy!

It’s Saturday, and I spent the first bit of it with YOU! Hope your day is great. My sewing machine has been hollering for me all week, so I am now descending into the depths of my little cottage to continue what has started out to be a wonderful day.

See you soon!

Beware the little mouth…

Every day I am surprised by the continuing development of the kids around my house.

I know I should never be surprised by it, but I am.

Bam Bam has been testing the boundaries lately. Something so very normal for a child of two and a half.

It’s a bit of humor that I get to share with his parents when I give them the daily report.

The other day, I had to correct Bam Bam. He likes to play in the doorways, but with pinched fingers…well, I try to discourage playing with the doors.

So I first told him not to play in the doors. He proceeded to play in the doors.

I told him a second time not to play in the doors. He continued playing in the doors.

Finally, I used my stern voice and made myself undeniably clear in what my expectation was regarding him playing in the doors.

“Nana,” said Bam Bam, “you don’t tell me ‘no’. You say ‘yes’ to me.”

At that moment, we enjoyed a very up-close and personal “eye to eye” conversation about who says yes, no and makes the rules and who listens and obeys.

We settled the issue of the doors…and have now moved on to the next one…sharing. Sort of a revolving door around these parts, if you will pardon the cheesy play on words.

Don’t you love it when a child instructs you, the adult, to share?

Yes. I share all my toys with everyone. But when the turn taking gets out of control and the midgets forget who OWNS the toys…well, they shouldn’t tell ME to share MY toys.

Cookie has come into her own in terms of fighting, and I truly mean fighting, for what she decides is hers. She and Bam Bam had a number of issues sharing the toys today.

I frequently had to remind the kiddos that I share all of my toys. They always look at me the same way.

“These are YOUR toys, Nana?” Why they say it so incredulously still amazes me. We have this same discussion each and every day.

“Yes. They are MY toys, and I SHARE.”

“You share with me, Nana?” asked Bam Bam.

“I share with ALL of you.”

“You share with ALL of US, Nana?”

“Yes. I share with ALL of you. But when you aren’t nice and don’t share My toys, then I have to put the toys away.”

“That’s not nice, Nana. You have to SHARE. Sharing is nice.”

Ummmmm, that sort of was the point. All that repeating our conversation to each other a gazillion times…

“Nana, if you put the toys away and don’t share, you will need a time out.”

Sigh. Will someone PLEASE give me a time out?

Playing Favorites

I refuse to post any pictures.

I don’t want to take any and I don’t want to share any.

BUT, I do want to know if any of you are guilty of playing favorites. Come on. Be honest…

Do you try to give the impression that all of your children or grandchildren are equally loved? That none is more lovable than another? Uh huh…

Well, today I have a confession to make.

The plumber is my favorite.

He comes when he is called. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work. (And I do mean dirty…). He doesn’t leave his tools out…when he is done, he leaves.

And I don’t even regret the exorbitant price I have to pay to get rid of the toilet paper clogging the pipe.

I know. Couldn’t it have been a toy? Or…rag or something? Did it really have to be toilet paper?

I told him we use Scott tissue. We even use the kind that is suitable for septic systems. He nodded. Complimented me on our choice of tissue. (Yay for me…)

When you have a bunch of little people…well, let’s just say that the plumbing can take a beating. I told our friendly plumber that I have had to call for de-clogging services at least three times since January.

Sigh…he told me that the roots are generating a separation in the sewer line…and that will need to be repaired…ugh…

I can now anticipate the digging up of my front yard. (Hopefully, my garden that wraps and winds around the yard will be spared…but who knows?)

But there IS a silver lining…since we live in St. Louis County, the repair is covered.

See why the plumber is my favorite?

 

Transitions

I do not like them. Nope.

Transitions are not on the list of my favorite things. I imagine I could find a way to make it seem like a positive thing, but really, don’t all transitions really have one thing in common?

You know…loss???

Each year, I seem to go through a transitional period with the little kids who joyfully come to my house so that I can coo with them, cuddle with them, teach them how to go potty, how to share, how to play nicely…you know…all that stuff that we do to with small children.

About the time the kids have learned to share, wash their hands independently AFTER going potty like such a big boy/girl, they are out the door and headed to pre-school.

Great. I do all the hard work, and those lucky pre-school teachers have it made in the shade. What do they DO all day?

Just kidding…believe me, I really am just kidding!

But the truth is that every day, I do my job. I love them and nurture them…cleaning their dirty bottoms and wiping their boogie noses. I sing and play and get all crazy with them. It’s my job and I love it.

But then we come to the transition.

At this point in life, they can talk, walk, self-feed, go potty…and some of them even get pretty good at talking smack and having a certain je ne sais quoi about coming to Nana’s house.

That is the transition. They are ready to move onward and upward. No longer is Nana’s house the magical place. They have outgrown their need for Nana.

It is a bittersweet period. While I am thankful that they have reached the pinnacle of life at Nana’s, it is still truly a sad reality that they are moving on and away from my care.

I am so proud of the big boys and big girls who are “leaving the nest” and going to the big school with the big playground and lots of toys and making new friends and learning even more about life and how to live it.

But I am sad, too. Those little chubby faces and pudgy fingers and toes are now toddler faces, with not so pudgy fingers and toes. They are not interested in nuzzling into my shoulder anymore. When I pick them up, they squirm to get down.

In the last three months, I have said good bye to “Australia” and now to “Vesuvius”. In the not too distant future, Bam Bam will be moving on to pre-school as well.

On the flip side, a new little bundle has just been born, and soon she will start her own journey with me. This little sister of two brothers who have already moved on from Nana’s house to pre-school and kindergarten.

These transitions are emotional for me and the parents. Tears and lumpy throats as we say good bye. But we also share a certain joy at the successes we have had as we learned all about each other and figured out how to draw out the wonderful strengths of each child and found ways to temper the not-so-wonderful things, so that in the end, each child could transition into the next leg of life’s journey with a bit more confidence.

Tomorrow will be our first day without our little volcanic eruptions. I don’t know exactly how that will look or sound, but we will figure it out and continue on this path we are on…step by step, until it is time for the next transition.

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

It’s just a rock…

I am on vacation.

Just me.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids.

Superman thought it would be a great idea for me to get to spend some time with my sisters and my parents.

Without distractions.

For those of you who know me, or think you know me, or just WANT to know me…;) You know that my life is very full of little people with lots of “learning experiences” and “opportunities for growth”…

All of those opportunities tend to crowd out quiet time and time to write…I almost gave up blogging. It became so hard to find time to write, and I felt so guilty NOT writing, and the internal struggle was more than I had time to deal with…

So…I write infrequently. And it frustrates me.

Superman knew that I needed some true R & R, and off I went…to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

One of my sisters lives near San Diego, the other lives in tornado alley near Oklahoma City…fortunately, my parents live just ten minutes from my house.

But THIS week, we are all together…under one roof. The nephews tease about our cackling laughter when we get to be together. There is a lot of cackling.

We also have very serious conversations, though. We have each gone through some very hard times with some of our children. We cry together and encourage each other and share the joys and sorrows and glimmers of hope that God allows to foster hope in our lives.

I love rocks, and usually collect rocks wherever I travel to display in dishes around my house. The rocks are not special. They are just rocks. But I love them and can almost always remember where each rock came from and what I was doing when I found them.

My beautiful daughter...

My beautiful daughter and granddaughter…

My daughter, whose children are Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top, doesn’t share my love of rocks. They are merely part of what she would call my hoarding disease.

But I love my rocks.

Yesterday, I had a call from my daughter. She sounded very animated and tense.

“Mom! Where is that verse about the husband cherishing his wife like a jewel???”

“ummm, do you mean Ephesians 5?”

I read her the verses.

Ephesians 5:25-30
(English Standard Version)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“Nooooo. That’s not the right one,” she sighed. Clearly frustrated.

“Well, what about this, in I Peter?” And I read her the verses.

1 Peter 3:7-8
(English Standard Version)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“No. That’s not it either. On Sunday, the pastor preached about this and read these verses about how the husband should love and care for his wife like she is a precious jewel…”

“Well, Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman being worth more than rubies…”

She looked it up and read it…

“Yes!! That’s it. Oh wait…” pausing as she read more…”No, that’s not it either.”

I suggested she call the pastor and ask him what it was. Oh no, she could NEVER do that. Of course, I told her she could, but she refused. Or his wife. Oh no. You just can’t do that. (Can someone please explain to me WHY one cannot do this???)

We talked a little more. She said she was so stressed trying to find it. I asked why it would be so stressful? And she informed me that she had been up until the wee hours of the previous night trying to find it, and her DAD didn’t know and if I didn’t know…well, she was stressed.

So, I suggested maybe Song of Solomon had something like that…She looked it up. Apparently for the first time. She started reading…

“Oh my goodness! That man’s a pervert!”

I started laughing. She continued to exclaim about the details she read. She was clearly SHOCKED that those verses could even BE in the Bible. She did not want to read any further.

“Well, in the context of marriage, it is beautiful,” I said.

I shared that maybe the preacher had used several different passages and created a composite of them with an explanation that she THOUGHT were actual verses, but were really his words.

Then I had an idea.

“Why don’t you check to see if the message was recorded and listen to it again? Then you will hear it again.”

“Oh, mom. You are so SMART!”

I almost fainted. How many years had I waited to hear those words! And NOT said dripping with sarcasm!

We got off the phone, and I started thinking about the conversation.

Superman and I have traveled a very painful road with our daughter. She has learned many lessons through a lot of pain that left a lot of scars. We have learned more about ourselves, and about God, as we have been on this journey. But mostly, we have learned how very much God loves His children, and works in our lives for His glory.

That God even loves us at all is such a gift.

That He is patient and long-suffering, well, that is just His grace and mercy.

That He doesn’t leave us is a promise I know I can believe.

So when my daughter was stressing over finding some verses, I could see how much God had done in her heart.

Kind of like rocks.

Diamonds and rubies and other precious jewels are not mined out of the ground in a condition to wear and show how valuable they really are.

diamonds

The rocks ARE valuable because of what can happen when a master stone cutter takes that raw stone and chisels away those things that detract from its value and beauty. As the stone is hammered and polished, it is transformed into something so beautiful.

That is what God does to a hard heart when it is yielded to Him. He loves that heart. He molds it. He creates a thing of beauty out of something that wasn’t before.

And only a Master can do that.

And I am so, so, so thankful that He chooses to transform us, day by day, moment by moment.

God is so good.