Sunday, January 31, 2010

Approaching 40....

     Well, in a couple of days I'm going to be forty years old. Wow...I remember my 21st birthday party. It was a surprise party put on by my family and friends. There were a lot of people there and I was totally surprised. I almost didn't show up. A friend and I went out for lunch or something and then we parted ways. I almost went to the beach to spend some time alone. My mother had died a couple of months prior and long drives to the beach were comforting somehow. I decided to go home instead. Good thing, too!
     Anyway, 19 years, a husband, a college degree, two teaching credentials, and six kids later, here I am. It's not a bad place to be. I'm not bothered to be turning forty. I'm not feeling old or depressed about it. It's just another day and another decade. My kids have been asking me to buy waffles lately. "Well..." I told them, "ask your Dad to buy me a waffle maker for my birthday."
"Really?" Tim said (this from the man known for "creative," out-of-the-box presents!)
"What else do you want?"
"You and the kids clean the house and then leave for the day - the whole day." Ahhh....the thought of it makes me woozy with pleasure. A quiet  AND clean house...all to myself...Just don't be gone too long, I think to myself. What would I do? I'm not quite sure, but it would be something quiet.
     As the day approaches I remind myself that birthdays aren't a big deal. I don't make a big deal out of friends' and family members' birthdays. But, you need someone to talk to? I'm with you. You need some input or help with a problem? I'm with you. You need something in a pinch? I'm happy to provide it. You just need someone to laugh with? I'm there! You need someone to cry with you? Well, I'm there with you, too. I just can't always remember birthdays or to get a gift or send you a card or give you a call, etc. I don't expect you to do the same for me, either. And I love you just the same. Isn't that so much easier? Good. I'm glad we got that clarified. So, for the rest of the year consider this my heartfelt and sincere HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking for the Rainbow

     Yesterday I was driving to Lancaster in the pouring down rain with Leanne and Chloe in the back of the car. (Remember the last time I went to Lancaster? We were heading to Paul (Tim's stepbrother) and Angela's house to see their kids. Their kids had gotten some upsetting news the night before and since their mother is doing some rigorous training for her job all week long, I volunteered to go to their house and spend some time with the kids.
     We're on the 14 north bound and had already driven past several accidents when I see this red Subaru Forester stopped in the carpool lane facing the wrong direction. The car in front of me, a gold Lexus, was slowing down and came to a complete stop. I had to stop, too. When someone got out of the Lexus to go to the driver in the Subaru I rolled down my window and asked if I should call 911. The good samaritan indicated that the guy was in critical condition and yes, call 911. So, I'm calling 911 and watching the good samaritan take the wheel of the car and move it across all the lanes of stopped traffic to the shoulder of the road. I'm trying to explain to the 911 operator where I was and drive across traffic with cars now moving since the vehicle in question was off the road at this point. It was crazy and a little hair raising. I managed to get onto the shoulder while talking to another 911 operator. I had to get out of my car to ask the good samaritan questions in the pouring down rain. I'm having a hard time hearing the operator and then I see the sheriff pull to the side of the road. "Do I still need to be talking to 911?" The good samaritan guy indicated to me that the driver appeared to be paralyzed. "We need an amubulance!" The 911 operator continued to ask me questions and I'm trying to answer next to loud traffic buzzing by. All the while the rain is persistently pelting me and the wind is whipping around me. The good samaritan then yells to me,"You saved that guy's life!" (I really didn't.) The sheriff looks at us and says, "Somebody stay with him!"  The good samaritan leaves at that point and hops into a blue jaguar that appeared to be waiting for him at the side of the road. I look at my girls in the car about 100 feet ahead and deciding that they'll be okay, I step into the victim's car.
     "Hi! I'm Laura. I'm going to pray for you." (I didn't know what else to do!) And I just earnestly asked God to bring his comfort, his ministering angels, his peace, and his protection. The young man appeared to be perfectly fine and his car wasn't dented at all. After I prayed I asked him, "What's your name?" He replied quietly, "Jesus." To which I then asked, "Are you hurt anywhere?" He shook his head weakly and said, "No, I'm just in shock and my hands don't have much feeling in them." He appeared to be shaking and I grabbed his right hand and began to massage it between my hands and then I took his left hand and did the same. After about 30 seconds of that I said, "I've got to get back to my kids, but you just talk to Jesus. He loves you and cares for you and will help you. OK?" He nodded and I exited the car quickly. I ran towards my girls who were leaning on the seat looking out the back window. "Let's go girls. Thank you so much for staying in the car."
     "I have to go to the bathroom, Mom!" Chloe informed me. So, off we went to find a bathroom and then on to Paul and Angela's. I was soaking wet and yet so grateful that God gave me such an incredible opportunity to comfort that poor young man in the car. In his moment of  need he gave me the privilege of sharing God's love in a tangible way. I reflected back to last summer when another good samaritan was trying to revive my niece who had drowned while having a seizure.  My stepsister, her mom, turned to me and cried out, "I don't know what to do!" At that moment I just stepped up to her, placed my hands on her shoulders and said, "We're going to pray!" (It's really the only thing I know to do in crisis moments).She told me later that she felt much better after I prayed. (My niece was revived and made a full recovery. Yeah!).It was a phenomenal blessing to cry out to God on behalf of my niece and her mother.
     When Daisy and Julia were born I felt immense fear during those deliveries in extremely different ways. What magnified the trauma was that no one comforted or reassured me when I was most afraid. (Although Tim was very helpful when Julia was being born. He almost delivered her, even though he was scared, too!) So, I felt like God gave me opportunities in these two very different situations to be a comforter to these people. I've become so keenly and painfully aware of how important that encouraging word or comforting touch is at that moment of need.  I was overcome with such an intense feeling of thankfulness that God would bring about a measure of healing and redemption for me in such a way that would benefit others, too.
     The rain continued to fall as I drove under the darkened sky of storm clouds, but a dazzling rainbow of joy and peace flooded my heart and emotions. Thank you, God.  You are so good and kind and faithful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Reads

     A few weeks ago I finished John Piper's newest book, Spectacular Sins. When I first saw the title on his blog I was taken aback. Spectacular sins? I had never quite heard of sin being referred to as spectacular. But - it was a spectacular book on how God is glorified and his will is accomplished through the BIG SINS of biblical characters like Judas, Saul (Old Testament), and Joseph's brothers. It resonated with me because on a smaller scale I believe God accomplishes his purposes in my life and the lives of those associated with me through my failings, mistakes, and sins.I had come to this understanding awhile back and was oddly comforted by it. This book brought home that point even more. There's a lot more I could say about it, but I recommend you just read it. Awesome and inspiring!

     Currently I'm reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz because I'm leading Elena's book group for her history and literature curriculum (Starting Points). It's very engaging and enjoyable. I had never read it before. It differs, so far, greatly from the movie. I'm looking forward to finishing it so that I can compare both the book and the  movie. My bet is that I'll like the book better than the movie. I want Leanne to read the book because there are many titles in that series that L. Frank Baum wrote about. Leanne loves fairy fantasy books and she'll rip through them faster than a lit match in a haystack at the end of summer. So, I prefer that she read higher quality reading material than the flimsy paperback fairy princess books.Anyway, I need to start Frankenstein soon because that's the next book on the list for Tuesday evening's discussion.

     Last week I finished Randy Alcorn's almost 500 page book called Heaven. It changed me forever. He does a very detailed, thorough examination of all the scriptures regarding Heaven and the New Earth. There was so much I didn't know. It got me quite excited and imagining things I never thought of before. I'm anticipating Heaven in a brand new way, but not morbidly so. It has brought so much hope and intrigue to my imagination and thoughts about life and the afterlife. I HIGHLY recommend it.

     I am an absolute lover of children's picture books. I've never really outgrown them. (No surprise there for those who know me well.) One really sweet one I just returned to the library (on time, too - I'm really getting better!)that the girls loved was I Love It When You Smile by Sam McBratney. Sam Mc Bratney wrote the adorable Guess How Much I Love You - another favorite of ours.

     No book list would be complete without mentioning some of my all-time favorite children's books. One of my favorites is by Sandra Boyton, Moo Ba La La La.( I treaure so many of her books!) I can't tell you how many copies we've gone through because they've literally been read to death, and stepped on, and had milk spilled and dried on them (eww!) and so on and so forth. Daisy's favorite book when she was little, and mine, too, was Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. That book is so humorous. I could give you quite a list of my favorite children's books and I'm always looking (at the library, of course) for new favorites.I love to give books as baby shower gifts, especially hard cover chunky books. They're great for toddlers, fit well in diaper bags and in their chubby hands, and are very helpful at restaurants when the tyke is done eating but needs some entertainment. Trust me, I've learned all the tricks!
     Anyway, I'm looking around for a new fascinating and stimulating book to read (feel free to offer any suggestions!). I'm really wanting to read some marvelous biographies. A friend suggested the biography of Sara Edwards - wife of Jonathan ("Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God") Edwards. Could be quite interesting....if I could only add an extra hour (or two) to my day. I just know there'll be PLENTY of time - an eternity! -  to read in Heaven.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The TV Guy is Here!

     The girls had been complaining for a week that we had limited TV channels available to them. Somehow, about 30 channels disappeared. I really didn't care. I don't watch TV and try to limit my girls' TV viewing so I was actually rather happy to think I didn't have to monitor their TV time as closely. Lo and behold, Camille, my 12 year-old resourceful girl, called Roadrunner customer service to report the problem. By the time she handed the phone to me we were looking at scheduling a technician to come out to fix the problem. This Friday between 10 and 12. Alrighty then. I'll be home.
     Friday started out a little crazy. Tim had awoken late and woke me up at 5:45 am to make his breakfast. I keep meaning to get myself up at 5:30am  to exercise and then prepare his breakfast, but I haven't quite gotten inspired yet. I'm still waiting for the inspiration. Anyway, I got out of bed very groggy and tired, but wanting to start Tim's breakfast and find out what Chloe and Julia were up to. They were up, too. For the next hour, after Tim had left for work, I kept thinking, I really need to lay down for a little nap. I'm sooo sleepy." Alhtough I did rest on the couch for a bit while the girls were doing their chores, I never really did sleep. I was just groggy and dragging around.
     Nonetheless, I started the girls on their school work and the morning began. A couple of minutes to 10:00 am I heard some commotion at the door and Daisy called out, "The TV Guy is here!" To which I replied while walking into the the dining room, "Daisy, you're not supposed to open the front door without me, Elena, or Camille being with you." I greeted the TV Guy. "Hello TV Guy! Come in."
     My living room was a total disaster. There were outdoor patio stools that my sister had given me a week ago and Tim felt that they should be in the living room - next to the Christmas tree that still hadn't been taken down. Of course, we had just gotten a newer refrigerator into our kitchen that we had been given earlier in the week and the parts were still here and there. What a disaster.

     At any rate, TV Guy goes to the back room to look at the TV. "Where's the remote?" he asks me.
     "Oh boy. That could be a problem. We have remote control issues. Half the time the batteries fall out or the TIVO remote gets lost.  It's a cause for celebration when they finally find it jammed between the couch cushions - again." Anyway, we managed to figure out the right remote and TV Guy began to work on diagnosing the problem of the missing TV channels.
     However, just minutes before he rang I had told one of my daughter's that they wouldn't be able to attend a certain function and she was beside herself- wailing LOUDLY in the bedroom. Julia had awoken from a nap -early, of course - about 10 minutes prior to the TV Guy's arrival and had made her way into the kitchen. She was eating with her hands Daisy's unfinished peach yogurt. So TV Guy and I are looking at our TV and he's trying to explain what might be the problem when I see Julia walk in with peach yogurt slime all down the front of her outfit. Ewww...TV Guy  fiddles with cables near the TV while I bring Julia to the sink to wash her hands and change her outfit. I remind Chloe to finish coloring her bear picture, instruct Daisy to keep picking up her felt pieces, and tell Leanne to get back to work on her math. Then TV Guy says, "It looks like someone played with the buttons down here and mixed up all of the channels."
     I reply, "In this house? No way! I can't believe it! Chloe, get back to your picture, Daisy finish picking up your felt pieces, Leanne get back to your school work. So - what do we do about that?" TV Guy goes to work fixing the messed up channels and I go to the kitchen to sit Julia down for a proper snack when the wailing child comes in to argue her case about wanting to go to that certain activity. "You may not go because I think it's too much activity for you. You get too overwhelmed and overstimulated and then it takes you days to recuperate."
     "But I promise, I won't do that. I'll be fine. Pleeeeease!"
     "No! I'm not going to discuss this right now."
     TV Guy walks in as I'm having this intense conversation with my daughter. "Was there another TV you wanted me to look at?" I hesitate. That TV is in my bedroom. My bedroom has boxes of books from Christmas (gifts I have to sort through and boxes of Tim's textbooks that had to be located out of the dining room for holiday parties and dinner guests.) It was a disaster. I dreaded the TV Guy seeing my bedroom. The girls mentioned that he should probably have a look at that TV, too. Just in case. I point the way to the bedroom and follow behind him. Several girls follow me and as he turns on the TV - Nickelodeon comes on, of course - my girls start jumping on the bed. "We get to watch TV! Yoo-hoo!"
     "Girls! Get off my bed! Chloe - finish your picture. Daisy - finish picking up your felt pieces and Leanne - FINISH your math!" I march them out of my room and shortly after TV Guy comes out. "It looks like everything is just fine with that TV in the bedroom. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
     "Can you take a couple of kids with you?" TV Guy smiles and says, "Oh no. I have a couple of my own."
     "Are you sure?"
     I really needed a nap later that day. I said "NO" to a play date that looked promising for the girls because I was too tired to work out the details. My bed and pillow were calling to me. Sometimes a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do. My nap felt great - although it was interrupted by the neighbor girls coming in to our house to play -even though I don't allow play dates while I'm napping. Well, my nap was shortly over. What a day! Now I'm wondering: What was TV Guy's actual name?!