Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The winds of change

Disaster. This is how I can sum up the past few days. It has come in varying forms, too. From the visual to the emotional. What I see in my community is mirroring an entirely different set of circumstances that nearly cracks my heart wide open and raw. All of it incomprehensible. All of it coming from our Father.

Tornados hit my medium-sized southern town Sunday night. The devastation is incredible. It began less than a mile from our house and continued on a northeasterly pattern, destroying the neighborhoods surrounding our church. A whole house...completely gone, only a few boards remaining on the ground. Trees down everywhere, buses strewn about like matchbox cars, an oriental rug slung into a tree, a bathtub thrown outside of a house while a picture in the next room remains on the wall untouched, a single fence board impaled the side of a house, whole roofs completely torn off. The raw power is hard to comprehend. We were spared. We are grateful.

Another set of circumstances has me on my knees in prayer. Like those in our town who have had disintegration thrown in their faces, a few in my circle are facing an emotional turmoil of their own. A symbolic tornado has swept them up, tossed them around and destroyed any stability and security they had. Unfortunately for them this is not a clear case of force majeure; someone can be blamed. More times than I can count this has been their journey and there is nothing about it that is fair. This was never what was supposed to happen. I am scared for them. I am worried for them. There is nothing I can do. This is God's journey for them.

How do you reconcile these "acts of God?" I know that it turns many away from Him as they see Him as cruel, harsh, and unloving. Many like to subdue the emotions by saying, "He allows it" stopping short at saying, "He causes it." But when you understand the sovereignty of God, that everything must pass through his fingers before it arrives on earth, then you understand it is only from Him.

I can't use this small post to try to tackle this topic. It is too great and vast, potentially argumentative and explosive. Some things are just believed out of faith. God says we will not understand His ways because they are not our ways. And though we can't see it now, I know that all things work together for His good. In the end, He will be glorified.  I have to believe that. I must.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The birds and bees

I am in the midst of some serious emotional gunk/turmoil (post in composition mode), and market cleaning (yes, you will hear about this for another week or so), but couldn't let THIS one pass me by. Such a classic.

For those that have been reading my little corner of the blogging world for a while know that "Time for bed" is translated in Ethan's mind to "Time for deep conversations with Mom." Thus follows tonight's very brief conversation:

Ethan: Mom, I have one of those questions for you.

Me: Ok, let's sit down on the sofa.

Ethan: So, how does sex actually start.

Me: Ummm. Ummm. Well, why are you asking that? Did someone say something at school?

Note: I have learned that often something has been said that produces such questions and if I ask what precipitated the question then I can usually come up with a satisfactory answer without giving too much away.

Ethan: No. I have just been thinking.

Me: Well, you know it is between a husband and wife, who are married and well, I guess it begins with kissing. Not that kissing always leads to that. Ummm. Well. (Clearly stalling as I have no idea what the appropriate response is)

Ethan: But is sex just for making babies? Wait, no, ...does that mean...(I can see the wheels turning in his mind)...Do you and Daddy still have sex?


I am so not ready for this.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Once again...

Once again, it is time for the great market clean-out for 2010.  It is all great when it is done, but getting there is tough.  Man, the things I find in the kids' rooms!  More blog fodder than I will ever have time to write.  I will, however, create some lists.  To begin with...

1) Bingo dabber in Ethan's room.  Now, this is usually kept in the basement.  I know for a fact that Ethan did not bring this upstairs.  Sadie did.  How it ended up in his nightstand drawer?  I do not know. 

2) Found!  My WOW 2010 hits CD.  Both of them. 

3) Two science cups, dirty with who-knows-what.

As I am cleaning out Ethan's room, it is clear that he is hitting the early teenage years.  His tenth birthday is just a couple of months away and his room is starting to show this change.  Gone are the shelves of toys in his closet.  In their place are baseball hats, car kits, and shoes.  Sad.  We hung a world poster and a poster of Michael Jordan from the Carolina years on his walls.  Just another step in his maturation I suppose.

I shudder at my next cleaning adventure...Sadie's room.  If you don't hear from me by Friday, send a search party!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ummm, what do you want?

Because every once in a while I revert to a being a teenager with no sense of decorum and complete immarturity, I document this line spoken by my sweet little Lily, age5, who had just finished up her bowl of popcorn.

"MOOOOMMMMM, I want some more cockporn, please."

I just looked at her innocent face and left the room to howl.  At least she used her manners.  I hope I don't start getting a million hits from complete sleezebags because I wrote that word on my blog. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010


As a belated birthday gift, I took my grandmother to the O'Henry Hotel in Greensboro for their afternoon tea service. It is just my grandmother's sort of thing and well; I really like it, too. I invited my only aunt, Sue, to join us because I thought it would just be fun to have three generations of my family there. We never get together, just the three of us.

I sat listening to my grandmother reminisce over a time when she and my grandfather had tea every afternoon when they were on an anniversary trip to the Greenbrier Hotel. Afternoon tea and my grandfather really don't belong in the same sentence, but my grandmother said he sat there, participating like it was something he had done his entire life. I have no doubt he hammed it up with a little pinky lift, too. The thought makes me smile.

I took a moment to soak in the picture before me. My grandmother, my aunt and I. How God has worked in each of our lives. You see, this isn't an event I would have thought a likely scenario say 15 years or so ago. And, as recently as this summer, I figured that most of my memories with my grandmother were already made.

Life has a funny way of putting distance between family. Actually, it isn't life and it isn't funny. Specifically with my relationship with my aunt, I am not sure why the relationship wasn't always on solid ground during the earlier part of my life. Different life phases, careers, school, interests? Misinterpreted statements, misconstrued circumstances. We never really had a bond or connection. I don't know that I will ever get my finger pinpointed on it. However, like a testimony, life before Christ should never be the is the incredible transformation of life with Christ - you know, the good stuff, that really matters.

I can say without a hesitation that I love my aunt. Sure, it was always there is some form, maybe only because she was family. But, God has worked what can only be described as a miracle in both of our lives in the latter parts of our years. Perspectives have changed; worldly matters that consumed us have been taken away and the loss of my precious sister have factored into it.  In place of these things, I believe a softness and compassion for God now resides which trickles down to how we view each other. I have been given a chance to see and experience her heart and I praise God for that. She is one of the most incredible women I know. Smart, funny, thoughtful and compassionate - she has so many incredible qualities that I never knew. Maybe they were always there, but as I grow in my walk with Christ, I see them. They are shining. I am amazed at how God has so quickly and without any hubbub or therapy fully restored this relationship as if it has always been. I am a teensy sad I didn't have all of this earlier, however I am more thrilled to have it for the rest of my life.

It shouldn't go without mentioning that she is a master gardener - the absolute coolest garden I have ever had the pleasure of visiting - cool, funky garden houses, a green house made of old windows, hideaway seating areas, nooks and crannies that keep you poking around for days. To top it all off, she and my uncle are organic farmers, grow a vineyard, have chickens and the two largest, and possibly the most spoiled goats of all time. Years of managing a furniture store have also given her incredible design skills and an eye for the unusually whimsical. I can't even begin to describe her unconventional, yet totally hip house. What more could you wish for in an aunt?

Regarding my grandmother, I have missed quite a few years with her as well. This occurred most recently as she was the primary caregiver for my grandfather during his 10-year run with Alzheimer's. I never held any grudges - of course not. I just missed having her as a constant in my life. During this time, I always knew she had some misgivings about not really knowing my children and about missing out on the important events in our lives. But, it was what life had dealt her and her dedication to my grandfather was beyond admirable. It was a perfect picture of what God asks of us when we say our wedding vows.

After my grandfather passed away in August, I wondered how my grandmother would pick herself up and start living again. Inwardly, I wondered if she wouldn't quickly pass of a heart, broken and grief-stricken. After all, she was married to my grandfather for 67 years. Yet, she has managed to not only move forward, but to have moments of true enjoyment. I hope that our excursion to tea was one of them. I think it was as she savored each morsel of goodies presented to us over a two hour period and said no less than 7 times how wonderful it was to be together.

With a heart bursting with gratitude, I couldn’t agree more.

A little video

This is my favorite verse which gave inspriation to my blog title.  There is a song following the scripture reading, a little dated, but still nice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It is Ada Lovelace Day! I almost let this significant celebratory day pass by me without a mention. What is Ada Lovelace Day, you ask?

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815, the only child of Lord Byron and his wife, Annabella. Born Augusta Ada Byron, but now known simply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first computer programmes for the Analytical Engine, a general-purpose machine that Charles Babbage had invented.

Ada had been taught mathematics from a very young age by her mother and met Babbage in 1833. Ten years later she translated Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, appending notes that included a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the machine – the first computer programme. The calculations were never carried out, as the machine was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.

Understanding that computers could do a lot more than just crunch numbers, Ada suggested that the Analytical Engine “might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” She never had the chance to fully explore the possibilities of either Babbage’s inventions or her own understanding of computing. She died, aged only 36, on 27th November 1852, of cancer and bloodletting by her physicians.

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. The first Ada Lovelace Day was held on 24th march 2009 and was a huge success. It attracted nearly 2000 signatories to the pledge and 2000 more people who signed up on Facebook. Over 1200 people added their post URL to the Ada Lovelace Day 2009 mash-up. The day itself was covered by BBC News Channel,, Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Metro, Computer Weekly, and VNUnet, as well as hundreds of blogs worldwide.

OK, so maybe it isn't an earth shattering event, but for the sake of my friends who are working in fields that I have never understood or been inclined to understand, I pay homage to it. I honor the women in my circle who have contributed to the fields of science and technology.

My Ada Lovelace Hat goes off to two of my college roommates, both of whom went on to receive doctorates in developmental biology and chemistry, respectively. Way to go - Katie and Kelly!  Glad you have decided to still remain friends with your liberal arts lovin', Bachelor's of Arts only roomie!


Yesterday, my son nailed me. I know God speaks through all kinds of ways, but it is particularly stunning when he does it through a child...your child.

Ethan has been cycling into a space cadet zone lately. We have been here before and it can be very frustrating. Last week was not a stellar week in terms of grades and I could tell that if we didn't clamp down a bit things would spiral. The culmination of which came Sunday night when it took Ethan 3 hours to do his homework, all the whilst moving to three different rooms, being called multiple times to get back to the table to complete it. To top it off, when Jay checked it over, many problems were wrong or half completed. Jay and I ordered up no electronics this week to help him stay focused on his tasks.

I picked Ethan up at school. I asked his teacher how the day went. I rarely ask his teacher anything about his day because Ethan is a reliably good kid. His teacher responded that he had had a much better day than last week. I chimed in that we were not thrilled at his grades and thus, we had removed electronics for him this week.

I really didn't think too much about what I had just said as we walked away. I looked back to make sure all three kids were with me as we made our way to the car. Ethan had that look on his face, the look of trying to control his tears. As we left the crowds of kids and parents, Ethan made his feelings known. Really, Ethan was angry. I don't think he has ever been this angry with me. I was a little stunned.

This is what he said, “Mom, why did you tell Mr. B that? You really just said it to look like you are good parent and are doing what you are supposed to do. Did you really have to tell him that? What was the point?”

Ouch. Yeah, what was the point? I spent the next day really thinking about that. He was right. There was no point. It was only to show Mr. B that "we were handling things" at home. You know, I am that "on top of it all" mom, the "totally in control" and "we are going to get to the bottom of this" mom.  I confessed my sinful pride to Ethan tonight and asked for his forgiveness. As usual, he started gushing accolades on my parenting. I so love him.

It seems I am very far behind on this journey of destroying the idols of pride and self. I mean, I have recognized this for several years - my actions have the wrong motives, etc. Yet, here I am struggling with it, again. Has everyone else worked through this? Sometimes it certainly feels that way.


I have been incredibly blessed with a bible study I have been doing since January. I wasn't initially going to do it, but God met me in a Wal-Mart parking lot (does that sound like a country song title, or what?) and it was just what I needed to do.

I think I have mentioned the study book, "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. If you want to peel back some layers, I say give it a go. If you want to stay cozy where you are, then don't. It wasn't that it was very deep in theology, but it spurred me to dig deep into some icky strongholds that needed clearing out. It also shed light on the truth behind my self-created idols, which are derived deep down out of fear, the fear of losing control.  The irony? I don't have control to begin with! Finally, it reminded me that nothing, nothing, nothing is more sustaining, trustworthy and faithful than my God. Now that I am more aware of what has been taking up space in my heart and now that I have been prompted to replace them with more God, I pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen me in this change.

A key component during this study was the group of ladies with whom I took this little journey. Praise God for the realness, the ability to be transparent, and the willingness to share failures and pain and to laugh, laugh, laugh at it all! And so, it is for these ladies that I add the following ridiculous, completely insane "contract" that I wrote for my kids around the end of the last school year. I was a woman who had completely lost her grip on the handle of life and here is how I reacted. Oh my - I am so glad my kids pretty much ignored me when I printed this little craziness out. I think a burning ceremony is in order - don't you think, ladies?

Well, funny.  I have searched three computers and cannot find the document.  I have a printed copy to show my kids how NOT to parent, but can't find the original.  It reads like the "Go to Jail" card from Monopoly.  You will behave exactly like this, you will not be human; you will be a robot.  Any attempts to be a child will be quickly squelched and you will go directly to jail.  Thank goodness I never actually enforced this insanity.  Maybe that will spare me at least one payment for my kids' therapy down the road. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maybe she does care

A little conversation with Sadie at bedtime revealed a little worry, a little concern, and a little discontent with herself. She is the master at appearing all together to the world. Even when she makes poor decisions, she quickly brushes it off. She doesn't dwell on her mistakes, often sweeping them under her bed like discarded candy wrappers. Not where she should put them, or how she should deal with them, but it is much easier to push them to place that takes little effort.

I cannot recall a single conversation with her that shed even the faintest ray of light on how she perceives her choices and actions. With all of the difficult behavior and impulsivity, there have been many times when I have believed that Sadie was completely and totally apathetic. I can even remember when she was 3 and 4 wondering if this child could discern right from wrong and more importantly...did she care?  Where was her moral compass?

Tonight, I saw a different view. It made me sad. She was comparing herself to her classmates in several areas. Some not so important - handwriting and neatness. Then she came to a particular girl who excels in several areas. I could hear the hint of jealousy in her words. Then she turned the conversation to herself. She said, "I wish I could start my life over again. I wish I could change. I wish I weren't the yellow light girl."

There. She said it. It does bother her. Yellow lights are what they receive for poor behavior. Much like a traffic light system, yellow is a warning light to slow down.

It shows me three things. 1) Sadie is more aware of her own successes and failures and wants to do well, clearly better than she has been doing and 2) That I need to do a better job of pointing out her strengths and her positives. I need to show her a bit more love during the difficult behavior days. And 3) she needs to know who and how God defines her to be.

It gives me more motivation for the homeschool year that is in the making. A year to teach to her heart.

Just another week.

A forewarning...quite possibly the most borning post EVER.  However, in the interest of documenting life, here it goes.

So, last week I started the Wii Active Fit 30-day challenge. I received the Active Fit as a Christmas gift and here it is mid-March. I just opened the box. I hate exercising. I dislike it so very much that I would do just about anything to push it off - even cleaning the toilets. Once I am done, I feel great, but that is never enough to overcome my initial disdain, no, make that repulsion for it. I am sure it is because I have not found an exercise niche that I enjoy. It has to exist, right? I really wish I were more motivated. I hope that I will see such a difference in my body shape and tone in 30 days that I will be encouraged to do another 30 days.

Ants. We have them. All over the place. I keep spraying, putting out traps outside the house. I am making one last attempt today to make a massive spray and traps outside the house and then I am calling the experts. Over it.

We took the kids to Hanging Rock this weekend. We are fortunate we didn't try this last year because Lily would have never made it. Overall, she did a great job. There were a bit of whining and complaining and “I have a headache” statements on the way up. I could see a bit of fear and concern in Jay's eyes that he was going to have to carry her on his shoulders. But, once we arrived at the base of Hanging Rock, the last push up, I encouraged her to count the steps which distracted her enough to hike quickly the rest of the trail. The way back to the car was pretty easy, and Lily only had to take a break two times. Sadie kept walking way ahead of our family and I believe she would have run the entire way if given the chance. She was joyfully in her element. At one point, however, we had to force her to walk in between me and Jay because she continued to walk out of our eyesight, despite warnings. She hated this forced positioning and therefore nearly ran up the back of my heels in protest. If Sadie isn't happy, she will try to make everyone else suffer along with her. Thankfully, it was shortly lived. Ethan enjoyed lagging back with me and chatting. He has such great conversation skills. Even Jay didn't get in hyper-freak-out mode too badly at the top of Hanging Rock which does not have guard rails and can be slightly stressful with small children. However, it was a beautiful day - perfectly 72 degrees and sunny. Our picnic lunch and ice cream at the Danbury gas station topped off a fabulous family event.

Our summer plans are finally coming together. The planning was a source of extreme stress for me and it had caused some ripples of discontent and strife in my marriage. However, I trusted God to iron out the details and He did. Actually, I had just reported my peace with the entire situation to my bible study group and then viola! God worked. We will visit Jay's family for a week and a half at the end of May and beginning of June. The kids will miss the last 2 days of school which are do-nothing days anyway. They will learn more going on this trip than they will during those two days - if nothing else, how to take their shoes on and off at record speed during airport security. We will take Jay's host parents with us. This trip should be a fantastic one because the kids are older (no one in diapers on a long 14 hour journey). We plan on taking them to many sightseeing locations instead of hanging around the house and taking walks as we have in the past. They are at the age to appreciate them. Jay's host parents who have never been overseas will be able to see where Jay grew up and meet more of his extended family. I am most relieved that I will not fly solo with three children under the age of 7 this time around. Finally, the adults outnumber the children. Although the details are a bit sketchy, the initial plan is to split time between the Netherlands and France. Really, I can't wait to go.

This little recap of our week would not be complete without the never ending cycle of work stress. But, who really wants to hear about that? Not me, I already have.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One of the most surprising facets of having kids is how uniquely God created them to be.  It shouldn't be surprising, given who I know God to be, but for some reason I thought I could parent the three the same and get the same desired results.  They are human being and they are as different on the inside as if I had picked three random people off the city streets to compare.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When the Moon Hits Your Eye

LOVE SICK. That is what my kids are and I have no idea from where it originates. My first reaction, which is erroneous I know, is to lock them away in their rooms and never allow them to utter another word about the opposite sex until they are 18.

How are they like this? I could say my kids are overflowing with love for others because we shower them with so much love that they are bursting forth with adoration. They cannot contain themselves and throw themselves onto all that cross their paths in hopes of surviving a love explosion. Sadly, I know my own short-comings.

Case #1: Child, age 5
Previously mentioned in this post, Lily is still in love with "little C" in her class. The shortest and possibly smallest boy in kindergarten. I understand from the teachers that all the girls mother him. Lily set her eyes on him on the first day and declared her unrestrained love for him the next. She is all set out to marry him and it doesn't seem to phase her one bit that she is 5. As she told me, "He is chubby, has a flat head...and I just love him." Yes, I just about lost control of the vehicle I was driving with that declaration. Is that really her standard? Girth and head shape?

The latest news is that another girl, told her that she, not Lily, was going to marry the little boy. I asked Lily how the girl knew this. Lily replied that the little boy hugged the little girl on the playground. Honestly, Lily seemed quite unphased by this turn of events, still believing that little C's heart is hers and hers alone. She announced to a teacher assistant, ""I am going to marry him so that I can kiss him all the time, whenever I want."

Last week, Lily announced to me that she got into a fight on the playground. Say what? A fight at 5? Insane! Evidently a girl from another class is also quite smitten with this boy. The two girls squared off on the playground and attempted to figure out a challenge. Unfortunately, Lily said, they couldn't think of one. Therefore, Little C just chose her.

Finally, I was witness to the following dramatic scene: We were playing on the playground after school. The afterschool care kids came out to the playground while we were still there. I was rounding up the kids as we aren't allowed to hang out there when they come to the playground. Lily realized it was the afterschool group and ran to find Little C who, by now, was sliding down the slide. Lily squealed, "Little C!" and ran over to give him a hug. About that time, I heard the word, "Little C!!" called out in a not so nice way. I looked up from the hugging couple and saw a look that would kill on what I assume is Lily's nemesis' face. She was a woman scorned. As Lily walked away from Little C, Lily told me that she was the "girl who I got in a fight with on the playground." I watched Little C, head hanging low, slowly walk to the girl who, towering over him, put her arm around him in the most possessive way. Thankfully, Lily did not see this.

Case #2: Child, age 8

Sadie has had a little connection with a boy in her class for a while now. Actually, it began last year when the two were paired for some dance in a special event day at her school. The story, like most of Sadie's stories, is somewhat vague, evolving and ever-changing on who made the first move. The beginnings of this relationship (if you can call it that) supposedly began with a verbal confessional on the part of the boy. Amazingly this boy has to be the sweetest, most well-mannered, quiet boy I know. They say opposites attract, right? Throughout the school year, there have been ebbs and flows of adoration. I checked in with the boy's mother during the class Christmas party. Her thoughts were about the same as mine: sweet, yet a very perplexing. The mom said that one day her son came home and announced the he and Sadie were over. The reason? Because she was just too bossy. Evidently they made up a couple of days later.

Case #3: Child, age 9

Sometime during the month of January, Ethan and I had one of those deep talks at bedtime. He initiated the conversation, saying he wanted to talk to me about something. I was completely not prepared for the next statement: "Mom, I just feel like I need to be a relationship." Stunned, not moving...catatonic for a few moments I was. I snapped upright as a thousand thoughts came rushing through my brain like, "You need to be more focused at school. You need to be able to locate your gray jacket that has been lost for 2 weeks. You need to remember that you have weekend homework on Friday, not on Sunday night when I tell you it is time for bed. The last thing you need is to have your mind consumed by this!" BUT, I refrained and simply muttered a calm, "Uh-huh. And, how did you arrive at this conclusion at age 9?" The verbal spewing began as he spun tales of unrequited love with a girl in his class. The pained look on his face told me that this was something he had been thinking about for quite a while. Now, he was at a tell or not to tell this little girl of his affections. The problem, however, is that the girl is already "taken."

Frankly, all I could think about was how to shut this entire pre-pubescent train down. NOW! This was way too much all too soon. I brought this craziness up to another swim mom and Ethan's swim coach. As I was telling them what had transpired, Ethan, who had been in the locker room changing into his bathing suit, walked by - dropping his socks along the way and neglecting to pick them up. "See!" I hissed. "He can't even keep up with his socks, he has no business thinking about relationships!" His ever-so-wise 23 year-old coach replied, "Kelsey, when he is 25 he still won't be able to keep up with his socks. He is a man. You can't tell him to stop. It is natural what he is feeling." Point well made. I still don't like it. Not one bit.

Jay wasn't much help either. He wanted to spur this crush on by, "creating a plan of courtship." What are we? 1850? I think what he really meant was that he wants to teach Ethan how to at least talk to girls, how to treat them, how to get to know them. At least Jay agreed that Ethan didn't need to be in a relationship at this age, but also doesn't want Ethan at age 16 unable to utter a single word to a member of the opposite sex. I can go with that. Maybe.

People of the world wide web...I beg for advice from any that might stumble upon this post. I have no idea how to handle these situations. I mean, this wasn't supposed to happen until junior high, right?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh, Sadie.

Tough day for my gal. Completely out of sorts and claims she is completely fine with that news about swim changes in my previous post. After a very, very difficult day at school, I had the pleasure of telling her I found her little piece of artwork in the basement. She decided my lampshade would look a little better with 5 red dots in row, courtesy of a bingo marker. Restitution was ordered up. What a lovely job she did folding three loads of laundry. Why do I not make the kids do this all the time? So nice to have that crossed off my to do list. There will be many, many laundry piles in her future. A new lampshade is not cheap.

While she was folding the laundry and I was fixing some hot tea, she said, out of the blue with so much confidence, "You know, Mom? I just have this feeling that I am going to be on America's Got Talent." She said it like there was no doubt in her mind that her fate rests with this television show. I dared not ask what her talent was going to be. Fear must have forced me there. Inwardly, it gave me a good chuckle.

Any good guesses out there on what kind of talent it might be?

ALL things work together for good...

In mothering, there is little more difficult than dealing with children who are emotionally hurt and deeply disappointed. I have found that I go to great lengths to avoid such times, as I imagine we all do.

Yesterday, I picked Ethan up from guitar and transported him to the pool for swimming practice. We had a sweet conversation about the plans of God. I can't recall what was the catalyst for this talk, but in the end, Ethan said, "But all things work for good, right Mommy?" Little did he know how much he would need to recall this statement about an hour later. For a nine-year old's world is vastly different than ours in terms of perspective and experiences. What we might be able to work through and then quickly move forward through, they cannot. The important, life-altering relationships are few, their security strongly rooted in them. For the sensitive child, change in general is challenging and the loss of an important person in their life is exponentially harrowing.

We arrived at the pool and gathered with the other families. A team meeting had been called for that afternoon to discuss the summer schedule and "plans for next year." The email that informed me of this meeting was vague and I knew that there was a high probability that the news would not be good. The news was brief and swift, much like the ripping off of a band aid. Unfortunately, it left a gaping wound that continued to bleed as more information was given and the reality of what the meant for my children set in. The site location for our team was going to close and our coach was moving to a location geographically and financially unfeasible for us.

Over the past year, I have recounted several tales from our experiences with the pool - from our first jaunt with the Elk's this past summer, to a smattering of swim mentions in other posts. I can't verbalize all the ways in which swimming has benefited my children. Physically, mentally, emotionally - they have learned valuable lessons on working hard, team-work, and sportsmanship. They have developed a new fondness for healthy eating and being "tough." This has spilled over in their spiritual life as well, understanding that they should always give their best for God, relying on Him to give strength to their bodies, rising above the fray of competition and spending time in prayer over it. Nothing has pleased me more than watching my son thank his timers, cheer on his fellow teammates, shake hands with his competitors, and encourage his sister (which is extremely difficult to do at times, I assure you).

There was comfort for Ethan in our current swim location. He is not Olympic material. However, he works hard, always does his best, listens to his coach and is content with improving his times. There is security in knowing that he is not compared to the other swimmers, that he is not intimidated by more advanced swimmers and he had developed quite a nice, tightly knit commraderie, with the other swimmers. I saw every ounce of that security and confidence drain from his face yesterday.

But possibly the most detrimental result of this news falls with Ethan's coach. Ethan's relationship with him is similar to that of an older brother. I am sure Ethan has been aggravating at times, just like a younger brother, but Ethan also opened himself up to this coach in a way that he has only done with me. It was a relationship that quickly evolved beyond what he had experienced with other adults of authority. This adult was always interested in him. Ethan trusted him, relied on him, gave him insight into his emotions and what he was dealing with outside of the pool. And, so, my son grieves this loss as if it were a death.

I have been faced with multiple situations over the last month that fall under this same set of circumstances - issues out of my control that greatly impact my children in a negative way and I have to deal with the fallout. It is not fun. Frankly, it stinks. At least at this moment, I am only dealing with Ethan on this as Sadie does not appear to have fully allowed the reality of losing her coach into her heart.

It is a great and valuable teaching lesson for Ethan and me. He was blessed to have this year and this relationship. There should only be joy in that, not grief. It is but a bump in this life, this very temporary life. In the perspective of disappointments in life, this will be minor - let's learn how to deal with them now. Finally, we must plow forward remembering that something phenomenal is still before us, waiting, because, "we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trippin' the light fantastic

Here is a partially frivolous, superficial post. There aren't many material things I covet. At least that is how I think I am. I have a decent perspective on clothes, shoes, etc. I may have a bit of them, but I never pay much for them. I balk at shoes over $40.00, for instance. Spending money on a $100 handbag...never. I know how temporal this world is. I am not judging anyone who does, it is just not my thing. HOWEVER, on occasion, something will strike my fancy in way that it will not leave my mind for days. Here is what is tempting me lately:

Raclette Grill. Some of you know my fondness for the Fondue. I love hosting parties with large platters of goodies to dip into pots filled with decadent cheeses and chocolates. Some of you have also experienced the utter disdain my husband has for waiting around for food to cook/eat, or worse, food in small quantities. Thus, fondue doesn't get served as often as I would like.

Enter device right. I had forgotten about this little nifty gadget until a recent bible study. You see, this bible study is geared around meals -could it get any better? Our host brought out her raclette grill and I nearly gasped in delight. Check this out...grill on top, melting cheese in your own individual pan on the bottom. I last used a device loosely similar to this on one of my final nights in the Netherlands. My host family and I cooked dinner using little individual pans. I loved it then, I LOVE IT now. To me, this takes away much of the waiting around factor from fondueing, but gives you a lot more options with meat. This could be my solution!

Item #2: Boden USA - the entire catalogue. Never have I been so entranced by colors and patterns brought together. The clothes aren't earth shattering in themselves, it is how they put it all together. It is just my style. Funny, my fellow swim mom, Molly, showed up at the pool on the same day, with the same catalogue feeling the exact same way. I am not alone. Thankfully, their website loads very slowly and they don't carry petites, otherwise it could be trouble. I am not even going there with the prices, ok? Pictures to the right aren't from the current catalogue, so order a free one today!

Fabric and felt necklaces. I can't pinpoint the source of the fascination, but I love the possibilities of variations.

My friend, Margo, is a sewing genius and I just know she can whip one of these up. She also makes nifty, funky t-shirts, fabric headbands. I have been the benefactor of several of the headbands. Love them. With summer around the corner, I think I need to place an order with my dear friend.

On the non-frivilous material side...Homeschool information. Yes, you read that correctly. I don't even have a picture to post I am so new at considering this. Considering this...ok, so I think I am past considering this. If this is not what I am supposed to do, may God slap me over the head with a 2x4. At this point I will be focusing on one child only. I am sure I don't even have to name her, but in case there is a new reader, it is Sadie. I have ordered some informational books, made a few appointments and registered for the large homeschool conference in a nearby city. I am really most excited about this program as it encompasses history, art, music and drama (most essential to the child in question). Sadie needs more learning and she needs less influence. Her excitement for new subjects is being squelched by her impulsively and desire to entertain the class. I have seen her potential and this year has not even come close to tapping into it. I know I am at risk at being continually chipped away piece by piece until there is nothing left but my big toe walking around. Yet, I plow forward knowing this is the best thing for this child at this time. I am freakishly and naively excited. Here is a very funny blog post about why another mom homeschools.

The new TobyMac CD - could be my all-time favorite. Simply rocks. How anyone can stay still listening to, "Funky Jesus Music" is beyond me. The songs range from heavy, to rap, to disco and dance. LOVE IT! The bonus track on the end cracks me up.

Finally, I am happy that many of the blogs I frequent are back to blogging. It may be a surprise that some of my favorite blogs are quite liberal in focus, or use an occasional curse word. Those types of blogs always make me think (not the curse words, the liberal topics) and I think it is always good to evaluate why you believe what you do. God's word is my resource on this one. Here is my list of current favs: xtcian (writer from my days at Carolina who has perfected accurate analogies and a vocabulary straight out of the SAT, and is very liberal), Josh & Danielle (people I don't know, but are connected with members of my family who describe life in a country far away with much humor), The Meanest Mom (and you thought my life was a circus - hilarious!), The Whine Seller (my friend Jennifer, who doesn't blog often - though she should because when she does...hysterical).

What has landed in your interest column lately?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sick Sadie

My family is healthy. We eat decently, everyone works out (except for me) and I am not a freakazoid about germs. While I think it is pertinent to wash hands, I don't spaz out about dirtiness in general, believing that it helps build the immune system, etc. For the past several years the only visits we would have to the doctor were for well-checks. The only exception would be one ear infection a year for Sadie.

However, since November, the entire picture above has slowly disintegrated. Not the good eating habits and working out, but the "my family is healthy" statement. To be very specific, Sadie continually says, "Mom, I don't feel well." This declaration is usually followed-up by one of the following, "My head hurts. My stomach hurts. My throat hurts. My ear hurts."

I do not have the gift of mercy. Unless my child is bleeding, vomiting or having a fever, I tell them I am sorry and deal with it. Therefore, much of the time I ignore her statements until I have had enough of them and finally take her to the doctor's more out of frustration than concern. We have been to the doctor's office monthly since November.

This last trip did not yield any diagnosis except that her body is just run down. Lots of different viruses have been floating around - some with fevers, some without. The slight chance of mono was mentioned by the doctor, but even I could deduce that was not likely. The child had just completed 9 swim events - all strokes in 50s and 100s, plus the 100 IM without a complete collapse which I would have expected had she been dealing with mono.

I have tracked when and under what circumstances she makes these statements. They do not seem to be related to school, eating, sleeping, swimming. Nothing. In fact, the more I sensed her health spiraling downward, the more I clamped down on unhealthy snacks and pushed for earlier bedtime. Didn't work.

On Sunday night Sadie, once again, began her thrice weekly mantra, "Mom, I don't feel well." I brushed it off, as she had a swim meet this past weekend. A tired body might interpreted as sickness in her mind. Monday morning, the same phrase was repeated and I heard it again Monday after school. I just kept moving her along her normal routine of the day. Basically, I ignored her.

We ended up at swim practice. She got right into the pool and appeared quite focused. I went to sit outside where I could see, but not really hear what was going on in practice. I noticed she really wasn't fully performing what was being asked of her. Her kicks were quite pathetic and she lagged behind the other swimmers. About a 45 minutes into practice, I saw her sitting on the side of the pool with her towel around her. She started to lay down. I could feel my ire rising. I am not paying for her to interchange putting forth effort and slacking whenever she just feels like it.

She collected her things and walked outside to where I was sitting. I took her to the side and asked her what was going on. Her usual reply, "Mom, I don't feel well." I sadly decided to parent ala Jim Pierce and said the following, "Sadie, I have had enough of this constant 'I don't feel well mess.' Do you want to be #1 this summer?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Then get back in that pool and work hard. You are at one level and Coach Rob is trying to take you to the next level. It might be hard, but it is time to get your heiny in that pool and work. Now go ... and I don't want to hear anything else out of you." With that she walked back to the pool and according to her coach, worked hard the remaining time.

On the way home, I felt pretty darn good about my parenting. I held my ground. I stated my case and it appeared to be well-received. I deserved a little pat on the back.

At 7:15 pm, I found Sadie asleep with the dog on the dog bed. At 10:00 pm, she called me, weakly from her room asking me to help her. I walked upstairs, took one look at her and knew...she was sick. Those fiery red lips, little pea eyes and a body that felt on fire.

Yup. Chalk another great mothering moment up for me. Nice one, God. I say that without a hint of sarcasm and with complete submission. Clearly, my perspective on my 8 year old daughter, her "swimming career," and my belief that I had some control over either had grown ridiculously out of whack.

As a follow-up, I did take her to the doctor today. Everything major has been ruled out, including mono. The doctor was in agreement that all this sickness has just about been enough. A course of major antibiotics and no swimming for at least a week was the order.

Friday, March 05, 2010


It is Friday morning. I have asked several times for Sadie to get her hair brushed. Normally, this isn't an issue for her. Sometime during the summer the light bulb turned on in the personal hygiene department. At least in the visual department of personal hygiene; we are still working on the non-visual like bad breeth and teeth. Brushing her hair is outward, readily seen and relevant to her.

Anyway, this was our conversation:

Me: Sadie, You need to have your hair brushed.
Sadie: I don't need to have it brushed.
Me: Yes, Sadie, you need to brush it. It is looking ratty.
Sadie: No, I don't need anything. I only need God.
And she flashes me that little smirk as she slips into my bathroom for a hairbrush.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Why I Am Leaving Facebook

Hi, my name is Kelsey and I am addicted to facebook.

My love affair with facebook began in June 2008. I even documented it with a post on this blog. Little did I know what started as a little whim would evolve into being a stronghold in my life.

Oh, it was so incredibly fun in the beginning. Every time I logged on there would be a new connection. I loved seeing updated pictures of people I hadn't seen in years, hearing what life had been for them, laughing at old times. I squealed in delight when I reconnected with my debate camp roommate from the summer of '86. I walked down memory lane with my girls from year abroad, even reconnecting with every member of my host family during that year. I found family members I hadn't seen in years, all the while sinking deeper and more passionately enamored by the trappings of facebook.

A high school reunion this past fall egged on the relationship. It fed the "need" to check facebook on levels that way surpassed more than healthy. The committee planned the reunion largely on facebook ensuring that I would be held captive for the planning period of 6 months prior to the event.

Little jabs by my real-world significant other (Jay), made me stop and think about my indiscretion, but it was easy to explain away the time spent as productive, useful, my only means of connection with "some of these friends." Meanwhile, I was checking my home page all too frequently - multiple times a day. I had way too much information in my brain, drivel that was dribbling to be exact, about mere acquaintances. Some "friends" I have never actually had a verbal, out loud conversation with. I looked at pictures of people I didn't even know!

Things started to really change when that little lovely voice of conviction started creeping in. It wasn't me, my husband or my friends telling me how this has taking over, it was Him. Those nudges you just can't explain away. You have to deal with them head on.

To cap it off, I started a new bible study, "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. Should have known by the title that this would be a study that made me examine the motives of my heart. One compelling statement in the early part of this study is, "I'm totally afraid we are routinely putting ourselves in front of things that compromise the good the Lord wants to accomplish in us."

You can begin to see cracks in my relationship with it here in January of this year. I was thinking about breaking up with Facebook, but wasn't quite ready to let it go. You know, what if I lost contact with some of my friends again? Part of my social world would disappear. I couldn't think about the horrors of B.F. life (before Facebook) and returning to it. I wasn't willing to live that out, yet.

Meanwhile, the bible study continued. I set out to discover what I was, without much thought, putting ahead of what I should be. What had become an idol in my life? It was pretty easy to discover one. Facebook. Sure, there are several others sitting on the list, but Facebook is the easiest one to fix.

The smack in the face, however, came when it was revealed to me what the "things" on my list had in common. Identity. It was a little wounding to discover what I feared most was to be forgotten, to be looked over, to no longer have affirmation to my being - like having 19 comment posts to my status update. Now, you don't have to tell me how completely pathetic that is. My identity in Christ does not pale in comparison to my identity on Facebook, but in time, I had allowed that to happen.

While I am at it, let me just lay it all on the line. When you fill your brain up with information about other people, information that you would normally not be privy too, it can bring out some pretty nasty internal results...coveting, self-pity, comparisons, judgements, even anger. In fact, Tom Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC says, "Idolatry is attached to everything, All of our bitterness, all our impurity, all our malice, all of our problems, everything that troubles us is a result of idolatry." I had allowed Facebook to become an idol - of my time, of my emotions, of my identity.

Now, I am not here to stir up a debate about the merits of Facebook. Nor do I want to hear all the reasons why someone has justified their relationship with it. I am writing only about myself and my complete lack of self-control. In no way am I claiming that Facebook is a pox against all society and rallying for its complete destruction.

You know, I actually have to giggle at a remark someone made to me yesterday. I stated I was writing this post and they said, "It sounds like you are writing your obituary." Actually, it is. A death to the sinful, self-focused self that I am, that quickly foresakes God for a few comments and accolades on a website. However, there is no sadness with this announcement, only joy. In that death is a birth of more of Him within me. Oh what joy and peace knowing my heart now has more room for God. My God - a guilt-less, convicting-less, loving addiction.

This prayer from A.W. Tozer completely sums up this battle and victory (from Facebook, light-hearted and trivial, to the more heart-wrenching idols of self-worth and control):

"Father, I want to know You, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding and I do not try to hide from You the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that You may enter and dwell there without a rival. Then You shall make the place at Your feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for You alone will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there."

Small Victories

I think parenting is all about living for the small victories. Let's face it, our kids are never going to behave the way we would prefer all the time. So, I believe God throws us these bones to keep us going in this predictably failing pursuit.

Small Victory #1: Yesterday, I wrote about my precious little girl's "shout out" to me at the door of our carpoolers. I had fully planned an "intense" discussion about this lovely sign of respect after she returned from school. Swim practice prevented that immediate discussion, which was a God designed delay. Upon returning home, kids were scattered in all directions putting up bags, taking showers, etc. However, Sadie found me,alone, putting away some laundry and said, "Hey Mom?" "You know when I shouted at you from the car this morning? Well, I am really sorry. That was really bad of me. Will you forgive me?" Sweet Jesus, thank you for the encouragement that my child does recognize the tone of Satan when it spews forth from her mouth.

Small Victory #2: After picking up kids from school today, my precious oldest one decided that I have failed him miserably by only allowing "healthy" snacks after school. He decided to repeatedly ask me for packaged chips that are 1) only allowed for school lunches and 2) not to be asked for as an after school snack. Oh, what a terrible mother am I, I heard. Why, oh why was he sent to THIS family. Woe. Woe. Woe is him. Topping off this endearing scenario was his attempt to parent my youngest on how she never closes doors. Instructing him to take a step back from this endeavor, he refused to zip it and began to belittle her. I sent him up to his room for an attitude adjustment. A mere 10 minutes later, I heard a little quiet voice asking to come out of his room. Yes, I responded. He came barreling into my room, his face scrunched up, tears in his eyes. Quite pathetic actually. I thought, "Oh no, here we go again...those blasted chips." Instead, this is what I got, "Mommy, I am so sorry for being mean to you. I just can't do that anymore. Will you forgive me?" With that, he started sobbing. I know I had to look like I won the lottery, stunned and thrilled all at the same time.

Small victories, people. Small victories will see us through.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A battle of self-control

Sadie, you ripped off a tiny chunk of me this morning. It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new week and already I feel a little less of a mother.

A forgotten vocabulary test is what was the catalyst. Struggling to hastily review 16 words was frustrating to you - words like accessible, imperative, effigy. You vacillated between feeling confident of your knowledge and throwing the papers across the room. Our carpoolers arrived. You had a moment of freakout as study time was over. Tears prevented you from heading out the door as you would never allow a friend to see that you had cried. I urged you on. You slowly, in defiance, walked to the door.

I watched from the closet window to make sure your transition to their car was an easy one. I watched you stand at the open car door, much longer than you should. I saw the carpool mom talking to you, turned from the driver's seat. You were not getting into the car. Your mouth was moving, but not your body.

I walked to the front door, opened it and shouted to you, "Sadie, get in the car." You turned to me, and screamed, "I AM!!!!" hurling all of the frustrations of the morning back to me. It was the pinnacle of disrespect and lack of self-control. Had I not been in a thin pair of pajamas, no shoes and yesterday's mascara hanging out under my eyes, I would have run out the door and to quote my own parents, "Jerked a knot in you."

Lord, I pray that one day your impulsivity will not cause you to lose your best friend, get you fired from your job, or worse, land in jail. Or maybe, I should be praying that one day, your impulsivity will not cause me to lose my own self-control.