Sunday, March 30, 2014

Love finding an old picture and getting some clarity on the present!

Recently Gwen pulled out a large ziplock bag of pictures that she had gotten from my mom in 2010.   I sorted through and took some of the ones that I knew I did not have.  This is one of those pictures.   Ken and I (holding Sheba) and my mom and dad.  This was taken sometime in the summer of 1978.  I assume it was around the time that my mom and dad stayed with us after their house in Elk Grove sold and before my dad's actual retirement date.  It was a wonderful couple of weeks with them.  My dad really loved Sheba.  I was glad to have them staying in our new house.  We had just moved in a few months before and I loved having my mom help me decorate!   The only odd thing about this time was that I was SOOOOOOO tired.  I couldn't figure out why I was coming home from work and falling asleep on the couch! I so wanted to enjoy the time with them before they moved to Minnesota. So a few weeks later, when I called my mom and dad to share some big news, my mom was not the least bit surprised.  She knew I was pregnant before I did!  Aren't mom's wonderful? 

When I look at this picture, I remember how much I missed my parents after their move.   I didn't really expect to feel so alone when they left.   But suddenly, I was far away from all my family.  And to add to it, I was expecting my first baby.   I really wanted my mom!  It didn't help to complain to my sisters.  Neither of them had mom close by when they had their babies.  As a matter of fact, my sister Julie had her first baby just after we left Minnesota and moved to Illinois.   My sister Karen had lived in South Dakota when her first was born and we lived in Minnesota.  So I decided I couldn't really complain about this.   But, none the less, I missed her very much.   And to top it off, my dad was very sick and hospitalized when Gwen was born.  So I couldn't even talk to her on the phone!   And they didn't get to come and see Gwen until she was about 7 weeks old.   I know that this is part of the reason why I am so grateful to have been with Gwen during the birth of all 4 of her children.  And why I feel so blessed to be able to spend one day a week with Gwen and those sweet grandchildren.  

It's good to think about these things.   First of all, it helps to put into perspective events from your past.  And then, it helps to clarify and give meaning to how things are currently.   I love that one picture can help me to understand more clearly why I can't imagine moving away from Gwen and Doug right now (or anytime in the near future! - Sorry Ken).  I am going to really enjoy all the time that I have with my kids and grandkids and take lots of pictures.  That way I'll have lots of reminders in the future!

Jesus, thank you for my family.  Holy Spirit, it is such a gift to realize how much you have guided and directed my life.  Thank you for pictures and memories.   Jesus, thank you for the chance to change our present in ways that effect the future.   Amen   

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A little preview of April celebrations.....

I have been thinking about my family a lot during the last couple of weeks.  My birth family.  My mom and dad and my sisters and brothers.   Recently I was telling someone about my relationship with my mom and dad that was very different from my siblings.   And that is why I thought about the above picture of my dad.   This picture was taken in 1980.  It was the 80th birthday of my dad's sisters Agnes and Alice.  My dad, his sister Mable and sister Svea are standing behind the twins.   My dad was the youngest in his family - his siblings were 20, 17, 13, 13 and 8 when he was born.  (If you have read my previous blogs you might remember that my dad had two additional siblings that died the year he was born - brothers who would have been 18 and 6)  His siblings were mostly grown by the time he started school.   And because I was the youngest in my family, that was true for me also.  In many ways I experienced my mom and dad very differently than my siblings.  After we moved to Illinois when I was in 8th grade, my dad's job changed and he stopped traveling as much.  When he did travel, he often took my mom along.  And in the summer, I also got to go along. 

One of my very favorite memories with my mom and dad was a trip that we took in July of 1969.  I am totally sure of the date of this trip because I watched the moon landing in a motel room in Green Bay Wisconsin, with my mom and dad.  On that same trip, we drove into upper Michigan.   It was a really memorable trip for me.  On that trip I got to talk to my parents about their growing up years.  And I remember thinking that this was a very special time and I was blessed.

You know, there are many many things that I never talked to my mom and dad about.  And I regret the many missed opportunities to learn from them.  But I will continue to celebrate the memories and the fun.  I love that my dad continued to be close to his siblings for his entire life.   He made sure that I knew my aunts and uncles.  And he valued and treasured his family.  That is a great gift.

Jesus, thank you for helping me to remember and celebrate all that you have given me in my mom and dad.  Thank you for memories and pictures and connections to the past.   Holy Spirit, remind us all to treasure the little things from our pasts.  Help us to connect the dots from our past generations into the future.  Keep me on the path of celebrating and remembering!   Amen

Friday, March 28, 2014

Back to blogging.......pressing through into April

I've been off of the blogging train for the last couple of weeks.   It all started when I got sick.  Really sick and tired.  And sick and tired of being sick and tired.   I am still coughing and taking some over the counter medicines.   Over the last week or so I have been thinking a lot about this blog and all of the topics I have covered in the last 11 months.   The funny thing is that the more I thought about blogging, the less I was motivated to blog.   I considered all of the reasons that this might be happening.  But I really couldn't settle on any one thing.  But then I was looking at my calendar and I had this revelation................. April is a very hard month for me. 

I know that the last thing I blogged was wondering where Spring was!  And April should signal the start of Spring - or at least closer to a more usual Spring like temperature.   I used to love the month of April.  I had always dreamed of having a baby in April.  I thought it was the perfect month.   Alas, that was not to be, I had one March baby and one May baby.   Now I am quite happy that things worked out this way.  

So why is April hard for me?  Well, I have lost my dad, my sister and my mom, and my mother-in-law in April.   And I suppose that this should not really change my view of the entire month, but I think it is good for me to understand why I sort of dread April.   Once I began to understand this, I have decided to embrace and celebrate and remember and share for the entire month of April.   So get ready! 

During the last several weeks of "blog silence" (or near silence), along with sickness, I have had some amazing times of prayer, worship and revelations.   I have felt the power of people lifting me up in prayer.  I have felt the arms of Jesus holding me and healing me.   And I have spent some wonderful time considering my Bible readings from the Psalms to Revelation.   There have been so many little important lessons that I have learned.  I know that you will be hearing some of these in the month ahead. 

For now, March is coming to an end and April is just around the corner.  I am praying that you stay with me as I move on through April!  Jesus, thank you for all of the months you have given me.  Thank you for this blog and all that read these words.   Thank you for the promise of Springtime and the ability to celebrate even the tough times.   Amen

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring where are you?????

So here is the recent bulletin board I helped put up at work this week.   The kids made the cute tissue paper flowers.   I sure was wishing that winter was done.  But, alas, it seems not to be the case.   Today it is COLD again.  And I am so tired of coughing!  I need some warm, warm weather and some sunshine to help bake this sickness out of my body! 

This winter has just been brutal.  I am certainly not the only person at work that has been sick - over and over again.  The children have mostly all been sick also.  Everyone is grumpy and so ready to just be outside basking in the sun.  So today I am going to think about all of the wonderful things to come....when Spring really gets here!

1.  SUNSHINE!   Lots of warm and wonderful days that are ahead! Yes!
2.  RAIN SHOWERS!  Can't you just smell that wonderful springtime smell of rain on the ground?  I don't think that there is anything better.  I love the smell of rain.
3.  BIRD SONG!  This morning, even though it was cold outside, the first thing that I heard when I opened the front door, was the chirp of the birds.  Welcome back birdies!
4.  FLOWERS!   I have seen some little green shoots in a few places and I just can't wait for those early spring flowers.  The Iris, the Tulips, the Daffodils.
5.  KIDS!  You know, the sounds of kids playing outside.  The bikes and the toys and the shouts of the children.

Yes, I will keep my focus on these wonderful sights and sounds of spring and NOT look at the weather forecast for the next 10 days.  And I will remind myself that even if it does snow again, it will not stay around for long.  And I will celebrate that our yard is totally free of snow and ice!  

Jesus, thank you for the change of seasons. For the reminders that are all around us of your great plan to bring forth new life from the darkness and dead of winter.   Holy Spirit, help us all to keep our eyes on what is ahead, rather than on what is behind us. Jesus help us to live in the knowledge of your care and love for us all.  Thank you for being my healer!  Amen  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Where I've been all week.......

Well this picture describes where I have been all week.  I started getting sick on Tuesday and it has been an up and down all week.  I caved and actually got antibiotics on Tuesday.  I had one really okay day on Wednesday and then I crashed on Thursday.  During the night on Wednesday I spiked a fever that simply refused to come down.  At one point I was sure that I would have to go to the hospital.  When you have a fever of 102 you are not thinking straight and sure don't feel well.   Thankfully, around noon on Thursday, my fever broke and it has stayed down since.  I actually went to work today and felt moderately well.  I would guess I was about 80%.  The cough with this bronchitis has just about done me in. 

A couple of interesting things about this week's experiences.   First, I was "treated" by a doctor on our new insurance plan called "MDLive".  You actually just call and they call you back.  Sometimes that includes a "video chat", but in my case, all he needed to do was hear me cough and listen to the sequence of events to know that I have bronchitis.  The advantage to this kind of sick visit was amazing.  I didn't need to leave my house.   And I got my antibiotics in less than 3 hours.   And the most amazing thing was the cost.  On our insurance plan the maximum charge may be $38 but will most likely be ZERO!   Did you get that???  ZERO for a doctor visit and medicine prescribed.   At first I was thinking this was just a bunch of quackery and a ploy from the insurance company.  But quite frankly, I was really happy with this service.  It actually reminded me of a time when I could call my doctor and they would send a prescription without seeing me.   I thought those days were gone.  

I am convinced that while the antibiotics helped with my healing,  it was the prayers of so many good friends that helped me turn that corner.  I could FEEL all the people praying for me.  And it was warm and comforting.   I just love that Jesus put us in community so that we would know that we can not do it alone.   I am so blessed by the many people who missed these blogs and messaged me to find out what was wrong.  I love that it was noticed that I had not blogged!  I feel very connected and cared for. 

Jesus, thank you that you are the healer.  Thank you for all the people who stand with us and pray for us when we are in need.  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding people to stop and pray when a person or situation comes into their mind.   Thank you for new programs that actually work well.   Forgive me for assuming the worst about this new insurance program.  Thank you for the doctors and nurses who man this program.   Amen

Pretending is so much fun.....

After a fun and productive weekend scrapbooking, I spent the day with Gwen and the kids.  Unfortunately, Ellie was home sick from school so our morning included a trip to the clinic.  Thankfully, it seems that it is just a virus, and Ellie seemed almost herself this afternoon.  This fortunate girl got another birthday present today.  And I can tell you, these friends really know our Ellie!  There were delighted screams as she pulled each item out of the bag.  The amazing gift included this kitty mask and also the tiger ear headband.  Ellie was so happy to pretend to be a cat this afternoon. At one point even I had the mask and headband on! 

There is something so wonderful about preschoolers who can have fun without expensive toys.  A couple of great accessories and the play begins. Ellie had no problem crawling around and posing just like a kitty.    The interesting thing is that today is a day when many people "pretend" to be Irish.  They do this to join in all the festivities that happen on St. Patrick's day.  I am quite sure that there are many non Irish people who wore green clothes, ate a green cupcake and/or ate corned beef and cabbage today.

I am so blessed to know that I can be exactly who I am.  I don't HAVE to pretend to be something or someone that I am not.  That is so freeing and such a wonderful place to be.   It is really sad that many people go on for most of their life and not choose to not be real.  Sometimes it is to please other people or fear of what people would think.  Sometimes it is a choice to just hide the truth.   Jesus is the reason that I can be true to who I am.  He allows me to know and embrace exactly who I was designed to be.   And that is an incredible gift.  

Thank you Jesus for loving me and helping me to embrace my destiny and exactly who you have made me to be.  Holy Spirit, help all of us to step out of pretending and to walk in our true self.   Thank you for all that you are doing in us and through us.  Amen

Friday, March 14, 2014

Break in my routine.........

So this weekend is another break in my "routine"!  It is another scrapbooking weekend.  I was thinking this morning about how long I have been doing these get away times.  I finally had to check with Gwen and through a long discussion, decided that the first time I did one of these weekends was in May of 2009.  Ellie was just a wee baby and now she is 5.  That is a long time.  

Even though I have a scrapbook room at home, there is something about being together with friends and family and laughing and talking.  I know that I don't need this time away from my "life" nearly as much as these other gals.  They are all in the midst of childrearing and/or careers working long hours.  I am the "grandma" of the bunch and am so blessed to only be working around 35 hours a week.  None the less, I cherish these times.  Now, don't get me wrong, it is not easy to pack everything up, cart it to the car (and hope you can make it all fit), and then UNLOAD it and set it up.  Only to have to load it back in the car and then unpack it when you get home.  Today I was the first to arrive and set up.
I am enjoying the quiet room and the time to get these words on the page, since I know that I will not have time or energy to do so tonight.  And I was thinking about how wonderful it is that God planned for us all to have a day of rest.  We have just forgotten what that means.  Our weekends (or other days off if we have to work on the weekend) are so full of stuff to do, that we don't actually get any resting done.  The most important rest that we all need, is time to just be with Jesus.  For so many people in church work, this is the hardest kind of rest time to find.  Let's face it, all of the volunteers at church don't have a very restful day.  By the time that they are finished with their responsibilities, it is hard to squeeze out an hour or two for doing nothing at all.   And most of them have jobs and family things that need doing.  It is a good reminder for all of us to stop and evaluate our schedules.  Then we need to make sure and insert time on our calendars to just BE. 
I am so blessed.  I say this over and over.  One of the greatest wonders of doing this blog is how thankful and blessed that I feel as I share these words.  It is my hope and prayer that all who read this blog, will stop and think about their own stories.  Each and every one of us has moments of blessing and gratitude to be reflected on. 
The hardest part of blogging for me, is that I don't have the chance to hear your story, or hear of your blessings.  I would love to know what you feel about my words.  So I am asking for your feedback today.  How are you making space to just rest?  What blessings have you seen this week in your life?  Tell me about your joys and sorrows.  I would love to share with you. 
Jesus, thank you for this special time away and the blessing to rest.  Thank you for the energy and life that I receive from these wonderful gals this weekend.  Holy Spirit, bless our conversation and increase our creativity and productivity.  And please bring everyone here safely!   Jesus, thank you for all who take the time to read these words and consider the message behind the blog.  Encourage and strengthen them all.  Amen

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Finding the hidden beauty........

This has been a long and hard winter.  When we had yet another "winter storm warning" this week,  all we could do was sigh.  Most people didn't even pay any attention to it.  It was late on Tuesday afternoon before I noticed that dreaded "red stripe" over the weather forecast. Then when I saw that they were actually saying 4-6", well, you had to take it a little more seriously.  I went to bed thinking that we actually might dodge the bullet.  But, alas, when we awoke on Wednesday morning, we had a good 6" of snow.  Maybe a bit more.  And it was the wet, heavy, icky, sticky stuff.  I was pretty cold and wet by the time I got my car cleared off.  And, thanks to the time change this week (I mean, really, who thought it would be a good idea to change to daylight savings time when we are still in the middle of winter???), it was pitch dark on my way to work.  It was a long, long drive to work.  A trip that took me about 40 minutes and that is a lot for 6 miles.  Yes, 6 miles.  Nothing had been plowed.  There were ruts and ice and it was anybody's guess where the lane markings were.  So I can assure you that I did NOT enjoy the snow that morning.

But then the sun came out.  And it was really the most amazingly beautiful snow that we have had this entire winter.  

Ken actually went out, right after work and got some incredible shots of the snow in the Morton Arboretum.   These are just a couple of my favorites.   Wow! 
Sometimes, isn't our life like this?   We are in a really messy, dark, icky, sticky place and then the sun comes out and we can start to see the beauty around us.  Sometimes even the stuff that CAUSED the mess we are in, is part of the very nice picture.  The thing is, on this morning when I was stuck in that traffic and slipping around on the roads, I didn't notice how the snow was sticking to the trees.  I missed that there were ice crystals around some of the branches and it almost looked like crystals hanging on the trees.  It wasn't until the sun came out that you could see and appreciate the wonder of this snow.   We need THE SON - Jesus to come into all of the junk in our daily life for us to find the hidden things.  When we begin to look at our problems and our troubles through the SON, we can see the amazing picture that is being painted.  It is a picture of the true plan and destiny for us.  All of the troubles and the problems and difficulties become something very different, when the truth of Jesus and the light of the Holy Spirit shines on them.  Those troubles don't go away, the problems and difficulties are still there.  But our eyes can be opened to see through the muck and find the beauty that is there.  We still had 6 lousy inches of snow......again....... on top of the piles of snow that have NOT melted yet.  There was still ice on the roads and ruts and slush.  But with my eyes looking UP, it was beautiful!
Jesus, thank you for the beauty that you have planned in your creation.   Holy Spirit, thank you for your reminder to look up and see the picture you painted with snow.  What an amazing wonder with the sun shining on it.  Thank you for Ken and his ability to capture these images to help us all to remember to see the hidden beauty.  Amen 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Great day to be a parent!

Sometimes things just kind of sneak up on you.  Well, sort of.  This picture is my son Doug, of course.   I know that I have blogged about how musical both of my kids are.  I have talked about all of the various musical things that Gwen does.  And I guess I have mentioned that Doug is also musical.   He started playing saxophone in 5th grade.   He played all through middle school and high school.  He was in the Jazz band starting in 6th grade.  Somewhere around then (I'm not exactly sure what year) Doug bought an electric guitar.  He did take some lessons, but basically taught himself to play.  Then he got a full set of drums.  We used to laugh about the fact that we could here him playing the drums when we were several blocks away.  That drum set took up the better part of his bedroom.  He was mostly responsible about not playing those drums except during the daytime.  It was quiet once he moved out of the house.   I knew that Doug was playing in a band and that he had set up a band practice area in the basement of his home. 

The thing is, Doug hasn't said very much to me about this band!  I guess I should not be overly surprised.   The contrast between my two children is extreme!  Gwen would come home from school and talk.  And talk.  And talk.  I heard about everything that happened.  What all the girls were wearing.  What the teacher was wearing. Especially her shoes.  I got a pretty much play-by-play account of the day.   Then Doug started school.  He would come home.  I would ask "How was your day?"  The always answer was "Fine".  I would try to get further information.... "what happened in school today?"  and the answer was "nothing".  And that was about it.   Now here is where things sort of "snuck up on me".   About a week ago, Susie, Doug's wife, liked the "Crisis Identity" Facebook page.   That is the name of Doug's Band.  And they had a Facebook page.   And when I liked the page and actually went to the page and looked at it, low and behold, there was a link with actual tracks off of a CD that I could listen to.   And pictures of Doug, playing and singing.   Wow.   This was amazing!

I was thinking about a time when Doug was in high school.  He and I had a conversation about what he wanted to do when he "grew up".   He told me that he would love to play music and get paid for it!  He said that he wished he could make enough money doing that, but realistically he knew that was not possible.  I am so thankful that he actually found a career that he loves.  But mostly, tonight, I am so thankful that he has been able to continue to play music.  As a parent you always hope to see your children have their hopes and dreams come true.  And I am so blessed to know that my children are happily walking out their destiny.

What an amazing gift this information was today.   Isn't it wonderful how the Holy Spirit just brings these wonderful little pick-me-ups to us?   It is so wonderful to be surprised and then to realize that there is much more than the surface stuff to the surprise.   In this case, it is that connection to Doug's childhood desire.  And that knowing the joy, as a parent, of seeing your adult children living life to the fullest.  
Tonight I am so proud and thankful.  

Jesus, thank you for my family.   Thank you for Gwen and Doug.  How wonderful it is to be blessed like this today.   Holy Spirit, help all parents to stand by their children, whatever and wherever their children go as adults.   Jesus, I know that you are guiding and leading my children.   Thank you for your care and protection for them.   Amen

Monday, March 10, 2014

Taking instructions from a five year old....

Nothing makes a day complete like a bit of playdo.  Ellie was having so much fun today playing with all of her birthday presents.  There was Frozen happening in the TV room, Sophia the First in the dining room, Tinkerbell and the Fairies were in by the Piano and the Cinderella Playdo was on the dining room table.  The Barbies were up in the loft toy room.  The "American Girl" dolls were all over, visiting the various play areas.   Zeke was quite happy playing with the little people.  Anna just was happy to eat and sleep.  Ellie was quite happy to give me some playdo instructions.  She showed me exactly how to use all of the pieces of the Cinderella sets.  It is really amazing what you can do with playdo now.  It used to just be snakes and shapes.  Now you can actually create clothes and other amazing accessories and build an entire Cinderella scene. Wow, how things have changed.  The most amazing part of the playdo was that Ellie and Lia had learned how to use this set BEFORE Ellie got it for her birthday.  They found a YouTube channel for "Playdo" and watched the video for this set over and over.  So by the time she actually got it,  they knew exactly what to do with it.  You've gotta love the internet! 

Spending a day with the grandchildren is like just getting a little slice of their life.   I really don't know how Tim and Gwen do this day after day.  I know that once-upon-a-time I did that same kind of running around and rushing getting the kids off to school.   But that was for 2 kids - not 4. But they do a great job.  What struck me today, is how fast the kids are growing and changing.  Even when I see them every week, they seem more and more grown up.  So I loved it when a very "grown up" five year old Ellie, offered to show me how to use the playdo set.  And then she gave me step by step instructions on how to make an alien out of playdo.  (Apparently Lia had shown Ellie how to do this yesterday).  Needless to say, mine didn't turn out exactly like Ellie's, but she assured me it was just fine!

There is something about being the student rather than the teacher that is so freeing.  I did not have to worry about anything.  There were no lesson plans, no time restraints, no other kids to think about.  I loved that Ellie wanted to show me the video on the IPad so that I could see exactly what to do.  And I especially loved that it was just so much fun.

I think that it would be good for all adults to take a little bit of time to just play with a five year old.  And listen to a two year old tell you all about their day.  And hold a precious little baby.  And then hear all about the excitement of a 2nd grader who got a special award today for knowing all of her addition facts up to 10's!  It is a sure prescription for lowering your blood pressure, easing your stress and making you smile!

Jesus, thank you for family and fun.  Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking through little children and showing me the benefits of being the learner rather than the teacher.   Jesus help us all to take time to be a bit like children.   Give us the courage to let go of our adult mindset and the desire to experience life with the wonder of children.  Amen

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I love my daily Bible readings......

My daily Bible readings today brought me to these verses.   I LOVE THESE VERSES from Zechariah 4 - especially verse number 6......"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty".
I just love that passage (and I am singing the old song in my head!).  There is so much comfort in knowing that we can't be strong enough, or powerful enough to do what needs to be done.  Only the Holy Spirit can accomplish the plans of Jesus.  That sure takes the pressure off of us, doesn't it?   Even the physical world - the mountains - are subject to the power of God. 
I was just talking with a good friend about how easily we can fall into the trap of trying to fix everyone.  We think we might know the best thing for our family members or friends.   We can even believe that we are responsible for saving people.   We take on the problems and situations of other people that are NOT ours to carry.   Even when we are praying for people sometimes we begin to feel that we fix their problems.  It should be no surprise that this happens.  Satan wanted to be God.  That was what got him thrown out of heaven.  And now he is laying the trap for us, that we can be like God and fix other people.  So we need to stop and think and consider who really has the power to change people.
I love that I got the reminder today that it is not OUR might or OUR power, but the Holy Spirit that can fix people and problems and even move mountains!  Yep, this is a good way to end this day and to begin a new week!
Jesus, thank you for the Bible.  For speaking to us through our friends and the things that happen in our day to day life.   Holy Spirit, it is your power and might that work in this world.  Thank you for caring and working and being the one who acts!  Remind us that we are NOT the fixer or the savior of people.  Thank Jesus that you are the Savior!  Amen

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Birthday from the past....filled with gratitude

Today we celebrated Ellie's 5th birthday.  She had a wonderful party at a gymnastics and jump place with all of her friends.   It was so fun watching all of the kids running through the activities.  Zeke was certainly the most brave of all of the kids.  Even though he is only 2 years old, he climbed on the rope and swung out over the pit of foam blocks and let go!  Neither Lia or Ellie would do this!  Zeke is most assuredly all boy.  When I watched Ellie blow our her candles, I couldn't help but flash back to the day in this picture.  Because Doug and Ellie share a birthday, I suppose that is why I was thinking about this picture from Doug's 5th birthday in 1987.  (Yep, that's right, my "baby" is 32!)
If you look at the picture you will notice that Doug is in a hospital bed.  In fact, this was the last time that he was ever hospitalized.  In addition to his "normal" urinary problems, he had a severe case of scarlet fever.  During this hospital stay they "desensitized" him to a brand new medicine by giving him very small amounts gradually through his IV.  This long process, along with this "formulary" drug (which Doug took for the next 18 months) played a part in Doug's road to health.  Doug claims to not have any memory of this day, but Gwen remembers it well.  For me, the memory of this day is mostly that it was his LAST hospital stay! 

I am feeling so thankful tonight.  I know that Jesus is the one that brought Doug to total health.  While the medicine played a part in the process, it was ultimately Jesus that protected and worked in Doug.  When I look at my children and grandchildren, I am filled with gratitude.   What a blessing it is to see our kids and grand kids walking out their destiny.  As I have been doing this blog, I have looked at my ancestors.  I have seen how their prayers, their choices and their faith have impacted my life.  And today I was thinking about my future generations.  It is a privilege to know that my prayers can have an effect in the future.  What a powerful reminder to speak life into our family - present and future.  

Jesus, thank you for birthday celebrations, for good health, for family and friends.  Thank you for working in our generations.   Bless Ellie and Doug as they begin another new year of life.   Let them both draw closer to you in the next year.  Thank you for my past generations that sowed seeds of faith and life.  Bless my children, grandchildren and all my future generations with your presence and your peace.  Amen

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Praying for a "pattern design" of my own......

My last post described a bit of the very challenging times I have been having at work.  Quite honestly, I have been having a bit of challenging times in ALL areas of my life lately.  I have felt a bit lost and without clear direction.  And I feel as if I can not get all the pieces of my life to fit together in a meaningful way.  Today I had the following revelation.........   It helps to know what the pattern design is when you are trying to fit the pieces together!

This afternoon I worked with one of those "challenging kids" at the table with the pattern blocks.  Usually it is difficult to get the most active kids to sit at the table long enough to finish the picture.  But this afternoon, this cute little boy, actually sat with me and figured out this entire picture of a fish.  He was SOOOOO proud when it was done.  It is really quite hard to place the pieces on the shining surface of the picture and get them to stay in place when you add additional pieces.  But he worked very slowly and carefully and completed the task.   Don't you just love that smile and shine in his eye! 

On the way home I was thinking about this picture. (I actually took this photo to show his mom since we had to clean up the blocks).  Wouldn't it be nice to have a picture like this when we are trying to make all the different parts of our life fit together?  I don't know what the picture on my design would be right now.  Is it a fish (the earliest symbol of a Christian)? Or how about a cross?  And isn't it interesting that this picture is actually also a fish?  Would that help me make sense of the lack of a clear direction that I have been feeling for some time? 

I know that the most important thing to me, is to grow in my relationship with Jesus.  So I guess that answers this question.  My pattern design just needs to be Jesus and making all the pieces of my life fit the Jesus design.  Some of the pieces of my life fit very nicely into that design without much trouble. Other pieces are more difficult.  And possibly I might have to remove some things that just won't fit at all. 

Lent is a good time to be doing this reflection.  First I think I'll be praying and asking for a clear "design" so that I know exactly what I am working towards.  And then I will be trusting the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and direction as I work on fitting everything into whatever that design is. 

Jesus, thank you for who you are.  It is amazing to me that you love us so much.   Thank you for this special time of Lent when we can step back and evaluate our relationship with you.   Holy Spirit, thank you for using pattern blocks and challenging little boys to remind me that I am sometimes challenging to you.  What a gift it is to know you are patient with us.  Help all of us to remember that we need to find our design to make things in our life fit.  Amen

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Refresher course of the wisdom of Kindergarten

I've been thinking a lot about Kindergarten this week.  The pictures above are me, Gwen and Doug in Kindergarten.  It is Ellie's birthday on Thursday and Gwen will soon be registering her for Kindergarten next year.  There are also some kids that I work with everyday that are turning 5 and talking about Kindergarten.  Remember that book "All I really need to Know I learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum?   Here is an excerpt from that book............

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Even though I work mostly with kids that are 3 and 4 years old, my days are filled with teaching numbers 1-12 from that list above ALL DAY!   I guess that it must take a few years to really learn these key things.   And today was not much different than many other days.  It was CHALLENGING!  We have quite a few very active boys (actually there are 17 boys and 6 girls registered in the class).  There have been many kids who are feeling a bit under the weather and this adds to the challenge.  Additionally there are a couple of boys that are just (choosing my words carefully here) difficult!  It's hard to not feel kind of bad when you just can't get through to these kids!  It's hard to not take it personally and wonder what you are doing wrong.  There is one particular boy that spent almost more time in "time out" today than he did playing!  Let's just say that he has NOT learned numbers 1- 7 AT ALL!  

Part of what makes my day so hard is that I have to keep my faith "under wraps" so to speak.  It would be much easier to teach these basic principals when you include Jesus and the Bible.  I certainly do a whole lot of praying (silently!) and asking for wisdom (silently!).  So often I would like to just reach out and pray for a child.  As I go around and pat backs during nap time, I am praying for each of these kids.  But still the day is very frustrating! 

I remember Kindergarten very clearly.   I did not want to go and I was not happy with my mom leaving me there!  Needless to say, I got over that and quickly learned to love school.   Gwen had no trouble going to Kindergarten.  She marched right up to the principal on the second day of school to report problems on the bus!  On the first day of school Gwen had listened carefully when the principal had said that the students could go to him with any problem.   So she did!  Doug did not want to get on that bus for the first day of school.  But he did!  I am not sure that we learned those 16 points in school.  I hope that Gwen and Doug learned most of these things at home.  Don't you think it would be a good idea for ALL of us to review this list and actually start using them in our everyday life? 

So I will remind myself that my job is important since these kids I am with every day need to learn these important rules of life.  I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to impact these little ones.  I will continue to pray for them and their families and I will remind myself that they have a couple more years until they are in Kindergarten!

Jesus, thank you for the place that you have me right now.  Holy Spirit, show me ways to reach and teach and touch these kids.  Give me wisdom and grace to walk through each day.   Thank you Jesus for your love and your peace.  Amen

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Just a pair of boots............

Yep, this is just a pair of boots.  My boots.  Way back in 2009, after I had just taken a job as a full time nanny, I bought these boots.  My thoughts were that I should have boots if I needed to be outside with the children.  Prior to these boots, I don't remember the last pair of boots that I had.  Well, I never wore these boots during the 4 years that I worked as a nanny.  Then came this year!   I am not sure how many times I have had these boots on this year, but I know that it is way more than I wanted!

When I pulled these boots out of the closet in early December, they were like brand new.  That is because they might as well have been new, since I never wore them.  I was so thankful that I had these boots at the back of my closet.  Since that first early snowfall, they have kept my feet warm and dry through this really horrible winter.  Here it is, the beginning of March, and I put these trusty boots on this morning to help Ken snow blow the  6" of snow we got overnight.  Enough is Enough!!!! 

I was thinking about these boots.  They have just sat, unused for 4 years.  But then they became very, very important.  In a way, these were like an "insurance policy".  The boots were for "just in case" I needed them.  For some people, their faith is that kind of thing.....kept hidden away, in the back of their life, like an insurance policy, just in case they ever have a crisis and need it.   I remember when I had that kind of faith.   I am so thankful that I have grown and learned how to better LIVE my faith.  To take it out of the closet, actually put it to use, and even see it grow and gain strength. 

Yesterday it was such a treat for Ken and I to have some "one on one" time with Ellie.  She asked to ride with us from the church back to their house after Anna's baptism.  She talked for the entire trip!  Most of the conversation had to do with her upcoming birthday.  Next week she will be 5 years old.  Then the conversation turned to her favorite books and what her daddy read to her each night.  She told me that the Bible was her favorite book.  And when I asked her what story about Jesus was her favorite, she said "Jesus said let the little children come to me".  I asked her why that was her favorite.  She thought a moment and then said, "well its just not the adults and Jesus".   I loved that response.  She already "gets it"!  Jesus is for everyone - even the kids!   What a joy it is to see Ellie and Lia and Zeke (and someday Anna) growing up with their faith, OUT of the closet.  It is a reminder to me, to be willing to show my faith.  To put it to use.  Most importantly, to remember that growing my relationship with Jesus is the key. 

Jesus, thank you for speaking so clearly to me through Ellie and my boots.  Holy Spirit thank you for reminding me how important it is to show my faith.   Give us all courage and boldness to live our faith every day.  Thank you for Ellie and her trust in you.  Continue to give all parents wisdom and knowledge as they seek to raise their children to know and love Jesus.   Amen

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A really special day.......God Bless Anna!

Today was Anna's baptism.  It was a wonderful family and friends event.  Anna was just amazing.  I don't think anyone heard her cry during the entire 3 hour event.  She was passed around and cuddled and jostled this way and that.   There were a bunch of kids (15 I think) running around, playing, shouting, laughing, and sometimes crying.  And Anna didn't even seem to notice.  She slept in the arms that she happened to find herself.  Every time I looked at her, I thought about Gwen.  She looks very much like her mama! 
This picture of Gwen was on the day we came home from the hospital.  I thought that Lia looked a lot like Gwen, but I think Anna even looks more like her.   Confession here -  I called Lia "Gwen" more than one time today.  (I think I AM turning into my mother!) So I expect that will be happening in the future with Anna also.

Gwen and her friend Kyle sang the song "Remember Me" to begin the Baptismal service.  I just love the words to this song.  I believe that this is the same song that was sung at each of the kid's baptisms.  So much of this special event is about remembering.  I love that any time I attend a baptism I think about my children's baptism and also my own baptism.  And I think about exactly what God does in baptism. What an amazing gift we receive as we are welcomed into the family of God and receive the Holy Spirit.    Here are the lyrics of the song..... "Remember Me". 
Remember me   In a Bible cracked and faded by the years
Remember me   In a sanctuary filled with silent prayers
And age to age   And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you   Remember Me
Remember me   When the color of the sunset fills the sky
Remember me   When you pray and the tears of joy
fall from your eyes
Remember me   When the children leave their Sunday school with smiles
Remember me   When they're old enough to teach
Old enough to preach  Old enough to leave
Age to age and heart to heart
Child of wonder child of God
Remember me
Age to age and heart to heart
Child of wonder child of God
What a special day with family and friends.  I feel so blessed tonight.  I love that we can remember and celebrate the gift of baptism.  God bless Annaleigh Ellen Johnson, child of God!