Snow Days, Hot Chocolate, Hot Soup, and Hot Woodstoves

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“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

The forecast calls for 3-7 inches of snow, runny noses, subzero windchill, and two kids who want to build a snowman. Tomorrow will be a day of which we all seek comfort. We will want a break from the cold and blustery winter.  Seeking shade on a hot, summer day is so far from thought it hardly seems possible to feel warm in shorts and t-shirts while playing outside.

We all experience seasons in our lives when we search for comfort.  At this time in my life, I long for the comfort of quiet mornings when I sit back with a cup of coffee and everyone else sleeps. In thirty years, I may long for noisy chaos of children running through my house.

Our source of comfort, regardless of season or age is always the same. We always find comfort in God, our Father, Jesus, our friend who walked the same Earth, and the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us as we journey through this life.

We may not always feel His presence in a Holy manner. Sometimes His comfort arrives in cups of hot chocolate, a hug from a spouse, or a phone call from a friend.  I belive God uses us to comfort others and allows us to experience His love through others.

What are you doing tomorrow?  Will you bring comfort to anyone? Will you allow God to comfort you?

Prayer for the Giver

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Today is a Christmas party for my kids at their sitter’s house. Superhero Son helped me wrap last night. They draw names, so we had a gift from each of our kids, and a third gift for their sitter.

This morning, I realized that I felt kind of sad for Superhero Son. He is so excited about getting a gift today, but it won’t be any of the gifts on his Christmas list. He asked for about 3 big items, but Santa will take care of those. His friends will get something small today. I hope he gets something he likes, but I have a greater wish for him.

I pray that he can receive the joy of giving.  He is 4 1/2 now. He is old enough to understand that he helped with the gifts for others. I hope he gets excited when he gives. The blessings from giving are never disappointing.

He isn’t a picky kid. I am sure he will love his gift today. I just pray the gift of giving sinks in as well.

Blessings!

Day 5

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Anticipation!  Excitement! The joys in our life keep us interested, looking forward, and motivated.

This time of year is so much fun in the life of a child. Superhero Son is excited about Thanksgiving, snowy weather, and all things Christmas. He looks forward to everything from hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, and sugar cookies to snowmen and Christmas lights.

As adults, do we focus on those things that cause anticipation? Do we allow ourselves to enjoy the wonder around us?

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the upcoming events, fun, and excitement of family gatherings and winter wonder.

Blessings!

Seven Days of Blessings

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1 week! Thanksgiving is around the corner. This year I decided to do something a bit different to focus on my thankfulness. I love the Facebook comments and posts by friends, but I decided to concentrate mine here. Each day I will write about one of the greatest gifts I have been given.

1) I am thankful that God watches and protects my children.

There is a moment when you hold a tiny baby and realize you have to protect and care for that kid. It is your responsibility now! This realization is met with overwhelming fear and a sense of inadequacy. Will I be good enough? Will I be able to raise him right? Will I be able to stop evil from hurting him?

My children are amazing gifts from God. When I remember that they belong to God first, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. He loves them more than I possibly can. I am in charge of their care, upbringing, education, and, of course, loving them. However, God is always there to help. He has a plan for my kids. He doesn’t want me to fail. He will protect them when I cannot.

Stormie Omartian writes books on this subject. I am currently rereading one about being a praying parent. She reminds me that God is the greatest parent of all. His advice is better than any website or friend. He will guide me as I raise my kids.

Blessings!  

Life Without a Microwave

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I am a planner.  I plan everything from meals, outfits for the work week, activities for the kids, family trips, and daily lessons for my students.  Part of my incessant planning comes from being a teacher.  We are trained to plan!  Part of my need to plan everything is simply my nature.  It drives my husband crazy!  Did I mention that I often plan his life, too?

Normally, my plans go well.  Most of the time, our lives run smoothly because I plan the details.  The kids always have snacks on hand.  I don’t get caught anywhere without an extra diaper for Darling Daughter.  My students have plenty of meaningful lessons.  My house always has plenty of food stocked for us.

Occasionally, something throws a kink in my plans.  Then I fall apart.  Yesterday, it was the microwave.  It decided to quit.  My microwave, nearly a member of my family we use it so much, decided that it wasn’t going to heat anything anymore.  I could not quickly fix a baked potato for the kids.  I could not heat up leftover corn in less than two minutes.  I could not reheat my husband’s dinner at 8:30 last night when he got home from work.  Everything I needed to do took longer than I had planned.  Therefore, I didn’t get everything accomplished before I crashed at 9:30!

Do you ever have those days?  I have a hard time recovering from messed up plans.  I get agitated.  I feel angry at the situation and take my anger out on others.  I know it is just a microwave, but it makes my daily routines take more time.  I haven’t planned for more time.

Yeah, I know I sound whiny.  My husband told me that, too.

It is times like these that God reminds me that, despite what I may think, I am not in charge!  He is!  I don’t have to control every aspect of my life.  If I do, He will make sure I learn that He is still in control.

After accepting the fact that breakfast won’t be microwaved this morning and remembering that God is in control of my worries, trials, hardships, and plans, I suppose life without a microwave served its purpose.  It became my humbling reminder that I need to just let God have control.

Blessings!

Facing Life’s Disappointments with Batman

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My children are awesome.  They are mine, so I get to brag.  Everyday they present the world to me in a way that differs from my stuffy, adult-like way of viewing our life.  They also give me great writing material!

Last week, we had another house showing.  This time it required us to stay out of our house until after 6pm.  I picked up the kids and headed to the library.  Once we got there, we realized that it was closing early and were shooed away.  I was bummed!  I had all these great ideas for my class and for my kids.  I had a list of fall books I wanted!  The library majorly messed up my plans! I got back in the car disappointed and not sure what to do with the kids for another hour.

Superhero Son is named for his love of all things superhero.  He is only complete when he is holding a superhero toy.  His finest moments are in costume, surrounded by toys, and creating “movies” with his action figures.  With time to kill, he, of course, wanted to head to McDonalds.  They recently had Power Ranger toys in their happy meals.  If you got all of the different rangers, they connected together to create a giant megazord.  He had all but one!  Suddenly, we had a new mission.

Occasionally, I take my kids threw drive-thrus.  We don’t do it often, but every other week or so, we get happy meals.  He was able to collect all the pieces to the megazord with the help of my fifth graders who didn’t care so much about Power Rangers.  Today, however, we were going inside to eat.  I wanted to speak to the cashier face-to-face.  I needed a certain toy to complete the set.

We pulled up and Superhero Son yelled, “Mommy! The Power Ranger sign is gone!!!!” His heart sank.  He was so upset that it appeared as if our time had run out.  Power Rangers were no longer at McDonalds.

I told him we would go ask if they still had a few lying around.  I knew deep inside my disappointment about library books would be nothing compared to his disappointment of not getting the complete set of Power Rangers.  As we approached the front door, Superhero Son caught a glimpse of a new poster.  This poster advertised the replacement toys.  He gripped my hand as tightly as he could.  Could it be???

“Mommy! I don’t even like Power Rangers.  Look!  They have BATMAN!!!!”

An hour later, we pulled into our drive with two new Batman toys, full bellies, a clean house, no library books, and new perspective on disappointment.  First of all, Batman trumps all other superheros.  Secondly, my son showed me that I need to stop worrying about what might have been, deal with my present situation at hand, and focus on my future.  He now plans to visit McDonalds until he has every single Batman toy.

Blessings!

Survivor, Big Brother, and Facing Reality!

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I have this secret obsession with reality tv.  I have been a Survivor fan since I was really young.  I have signed t-shirts from contestants, can tell you life stories of castaways, and recap entire seasons.  My big brother got me interested in Big Brother a few years ago. My husband thinks I am ridiculous!

I watch these shows because I am fascinated by how people treat each other when put into stressful situations.  Both shows cut contestants off from their normal lives, throw them in with a bunch of strangers, and ask them to live together in harmony.  Of course that harmony part usually doesn’t happen.

This sounds crazy, but I think I use these shows to escape my own reality.  There are days when I just need a break from thinking about work, kids, cleaning, grading, and worrying.  I use books the same way.  I can get caught up in a story, focus on the lives of the characters, and forget, momentarily, about my own worries.  Eventually, however, I have to come back into my own reality and face my struggles.  That’s where God comes in!

I know it sounds silly, and I don’t let my children watch these shows.  I guess I enjoy having an escape, even if it is for only  one hour a week!    I even feel guilty about it because I know I should be folding clothes or grading papers instead.  While it isn’t a sin to simply watch tv, I know God probably wishes I would use my time better. I am fully aware that I use this for stress release.  I suppose it is better than stress-eating!

How do you escape reality?

Blessings!

Supporting the Children in Our Lives

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I started working with children when I was 15 years old.  A local daycare hired me to come work after school until closing.  Within a few years, I was totally committed to the school age group of kids, planned their summer program, and had a blast spending time with those kids.  Since then, I have spent a decade teaching fifth graders.

Through those years I watched kids fall victim to abuse and neglect.  I placed calls to the police or Child Protective Services on several occasions.  I attended funerals for children who lost parents to drug overdoses.  I gathered clothing for a couple after their homes burned.  I even had one child who slit his own wrists at home, and then he tried to stab himself while at school.

Many of these kids are adults now.  I don’t have any contact with them.  I often wonder if they are doing well, or if the vicious cycles of poverty and violence swallowed their lives.

As teachers, we help when we can.  We report circumstances in hopes that government agencies can assist the families when they struggle.  Most of all, though, we pray!

At night, when praying for my own two kids, I often find myself praying for my students just as hard.  We have two students in our school right now who just lost their father to cancer.  We have some who are barely hanging onto their homes due to financial hardships.  For others, school is the safest place they go.

When you say your prayers tonight, remember the children around you.  I don’t just mean your own kids.  Look at their friends and those in their schools who need your prayers.

Blessings!

Making Those Hard Parenting Decisions

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Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that don’t have clear answers.  We cannot think of a Bible story or verse that helps direct us in a way that makes sense.  We pray for guidance, but we don’t always feel like we know how to handle the situation.  This happens to everyone.  We take advice from others, and we do the best we can.

I know that almost every parent I have ever met has had their child’s best interests in mind. Parents want to raise their children well.  Somewhere along the line, we sometimes get off track.

I had a conversation yesterday with two football moms.  These moms have little boys in the fourth grade, age 9, playing football in the same league.  They were talking about some parents who were forcing their kids to play.  The kids clearly hate it.  These kids cry at every practice.

I try hard to not be too harsh on these parents.  This may be their first time raising a nine year old.  I have spent a decade working with ten year olds.  I don’t pretend to know everything, but I know enough that I can tell them the kid isn’t ever going to want to play football.  It will be a rare case if the kid suddenly decides they like playing the sport when they are this miserable at every single practice.

So why are they doing it?  Is it mean? One parent could be overheard saying that the kid is overweight.  Football would help.  One parent may think football will toughen up their kid and prepare him for rough times in life.  Others may want their sons to feel a sense of camaraderie with their teammates.

Little boys can be tough to raise, but their aren’t always tough kids.  My advice to people in situations such as these parents would be to find someone who raised several boys.  Find a parent who worked hard to raise her sons in a Christian way.  Look at these boys and determine if their life is one you want your son to emulate. Then keep praying.  God is a parent, too.  These professionals can probably guide you well.

Blessings!

Permission to Relax!

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This morning I will begin my fourth day with my new group of fifth graders.  We are back into the fast paced life of two working parents! I am already feeling overwhelmed!  However, this post isn’t really about just me.

As I picked up my kids yesterday, another mom was there picking up her son.  Let me tell you, folks!  She looked amazing! She was wearing an outfit far nicer than what she normally wears.  Her hair looked awesome!  I was blown away.  I quickly learned that she had a job interview that would change her life!

This new job was great for her career.  It also would bring more hours and tons of stress.  She was not sure she was ready for the pace of life that came with that job. As a single mom, she is concerned that she won’t be able to spend as much time with her precious little boy.

As I began my own “dinner rush” hour in my home, I thought about how I handle the added stress and fast pace of life.  I think I do it because I give myself permission to relax every once in awhile.  We know God calls us to stay busy and work hard.  However, He wants us to make time for Him first.  In those quiet moments of prayer and Bible study, we learn that God wants us to give the stress and worry to Him.

This week, I didn’t write much.  I had to push something to the side.  I couldn’t give up washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, or feeding the family.  I gave up writing.  (Just for a few days!)  I gave myself permission to relax during those times.  I gave my family time to adjust to this new pace August brings.

Sometimes we think that taking fifteen minutes to just lay in the floor with our kids is bad.  We think the dishes are more important.  Sometimes we obligate ourselves to a point that we can barely function.  It is okay to say no to committees or organizations when we feel ourselves getting overwhelmed.

My prayer today is for each woman out there to take a few moments for herself.  I hope she gives herself permission to relax.  God has control.  We don’t have to try to wrestle control from Him.  Enjoy this life!

Blessings!