Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas letters are slow in going out so if you'd like a preview, click here. Although a warning, it loaded pretty slow for me.

Stories from the season

It's been quite awhile since I've written so I'm guessing no one is expecting anything four days from Christmas so I'm probably rambling only to myself. But that is okay because that is what I needed to do today. The last four weeks have been so busy. The holidays are of course part of that but so is more basketball games than I can count, friends in need, year end work demands and a house that never, ever seems to clean itself, but rather just the opposite. Thankfully we have remained healthy.



A couple funny things I wanted to get down before I forgot. Micah's friend Anna has a new baby brother. The day before the big arrival I told Micah Anna's baby was going to be here very soon.
He asked very seriously, "Momma, when is our baby going to be here?"
I said, "We're not having any more babies, Micah. You are our last baby."
"I know!" he said with great excitement! "When Drew grows down HE can be our baby! Anna, I'm going to have a baby too when my brother Drew grows down!"
Problem solved, happiness restored.


The other funny story was when Drew and Micah recently were making a fire. They had both carried in firewood and pretty soon Micah came back upstairs asking for paper. I told him he didn't need any paper, he should use the fire starter log instead. He insisted he needed some paper.
I asked, "Are you wanting paper so you can throw it on the fire and watch it burn?" to which he nodded his head, yes.
I said, "No, you can't do that anymore. I know you did it before but that is dangerous and we are not going to do that anymore. I already gave Drew a big speech about it so he knows." Serious as can be, Micah replied, "Mom, Drew burned that speech."
"He did?" I asked.
"Yeah mom, yesterday. He burned it."



One more story. Drew and his Hesston High Singers group went caroling the other day. They caroled at several nursing homes in the area and then at Bank of American in Wichita and at The Olive Garden (in their tuxes and formal dresses.) Drew of course did not share this story with me but a friend did whose daughter, Tavia, is also in Singers.

They were caroling at Schowalter Villa and went into the room where one of the singers' great grandmother lay in a bed, not doing well after two falls the week before. By her bedside was her son (grandfather to the singer) and while they sang, he continued stroking his mother's hair. As they continued, he began to cry and Tavia realized she was about to cry as well and looked around nervously at the group to see if she was going to cry alone. Her eye first caught a boy across from her and tears already streamed down his cheeks. As she looked around the group, nearly all had tears falling as they continued to sing their song.

I cried as she told the story. I was so touched that this man had allowed these young people into this precious moment in that way and that they had recognized it for what it was - a reverent moment. What an amazing gift to them. Normally their trips to their next stop were filled with laughter and joking but Tavia said it was quiet as they headed to their next destination.

As always this time of year, I struggle to find balance between what is truly important and what is not and getting everything done without gritching around too much. My mom gave me a great birthday present yesterday - her presence. She came and wrapped gifts all afternoon while Mark and the older boys were gone. She endured the craziness of my busy life and messy home and acted like she didn't mind. It was a true blessing and took me from the edge of insanity to sanity again. She is why I have time to write this blog. That and the fact that I made all the boys clean house before they were allowed to go anywhere after church today. They were highly motivated since open gym is only from 2:00pm to 4:00pm today.
My next task is to make a list of all there is left to do in preparing for the big day and then putting someone's name next to every item - and making sure they are not all mine! I'm hoping the list is not as long as I think it might be.


Merry Christmas everyone! Love to you all!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall Rewind - Micah and Kenzie

I found this in my "Drafts." I guess I never got around to publishing it.


Micah, Kenzie and I went to the Arboretum on a perfect fall day last October and I shot these pictures of them. Aren't they just precious? The next day, every leaf on this tree was on the ground. It was just one of those moments when God pours out a blessing.






These two have so much fun together. Kenzie calls, "Maw-kuh!" and Micah answers, "Yes, Kenzie?" He adores her and I think she knows it! But she's pretty crazy about him too.


Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Words to Remember

Couple funny/sweet things that happened this morning.

Of course, the morning after Halloween, the first words out of Micah's mouth, "Can I have candy?"
Mom: "No, you need to eat breakfast."
Micah: "After breakfast can I have candy?"
Mom: "No, maybe after lunch."
Dad: "Micah, what do you want for breakfast?"
Micah: "I don't want breakfast, I want lunch!"

Smart kid!


It is GORGEOUS out today. As I was cutting Grant's hair I said, "I don't know if it would be possible to have a prettier day than this one!"
He thought then said, "Perhaps Christmas morning before the sun comes up with newly fallen snow that hasn't been disturbed and full moon shining on the snow."

Oh, okay. I stand corrected! Grant does not think like a typical 10 year old boy. What fun to be his mom!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ramblings

I stayed home from work today with Micah who has a cold and Grant who had a sinus migraine headache - his first, poor thing. He called to me crying this morning saying, "My head hurts to much to walk!" So I helped him to the bathroom. He said, "Well there is good news. The light doesn't make me want to throw up any more." Can you hear the collective empathy from fellow-headache sufferers? I put him back to bed with a hot cloth on his head and a Motrin Sinus. Two hours later he emerged looking pale but feeling better.

It's amazing how fast the day can go when you're not doing much of anything. I've mostly talked on the phone to Jolyn, talked to Grant, talked to Drew (he gets home early on Tuesdays), checked my e-mail, started supper. I guess I did pick up a little bit and we went to the library. Sure feels like there's not much to check off as accomplished but Grant and I did manage to do a comparison of what Catholics believe about sin and what the Bible says. (Did you know the Catholics doubled the number of mortal sins recently? We heard it on the radio on the way to the library which prompted our discussion.) I think Grant has been glad for my ears today. I really need to carve out alone time with him because he really is such a deep thinker and very fun to talk to.

I also had an ephiphany! I'm sure you're looking forward to this amazing revelation. Here is is:
I realized why housekeeping feels futile in my house. When my friends with small children leave their house, their mess makers go with them and they return to find it as they left it. (This goes for you empty nesters too!) When I leave my house, my mess makers are often there without me, so I NEVER return to find my house as I left it, it is always worse. Hence, total FUTILITY! You would have thought this would have dawned on me before now, but no. I'm a bit dense. Not to mention the fact that my mess makers have taken over every square inch of this house leaving me only the dining room table as "my space" in the house. The one spot that I see from virtually every room in the house which of course drives me even more crazy!

So, the only answers I see, are nagging or acceptance. Surely there must be something in between!! Perhaps you can offer suggestions?!? I need answers! I'm psychologically defeated by the whole process! (Think Lucy on the candy assembly line!)

We are gearing up for the whole college thing. You might be wondering if it is a bit early but I don't think it is. Drew has NO idea where he wants to go to school or what he wants to major in. He's very capable of gaining some scholarships (MUCH needed) but a prerequisite for many, although not all, is having an idea of school and narrowing down interests. We're going in a couple weeks out to Colorado to visit Colorado Christian University outside Denver. We have been trying to look ahead at the few free weekends and days off we have to plan some visits around them. Our goal at this point is to awaken him to other reasons to pick a school besides tickets to a division 1 ball game!
If anyone knows of scholarships at their company, civic club, association, etc, please let us know!


Enough rambling for now. More another time.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

God's manifest presence

My friend recently learned she has Hodgkins Lymphoma. Her doctor said, "If you were going to vote for the kind of cancer you wanted, this would be the one to vote for." That is one vote I think we would all pass on. She is six months pregnant. It was quite a blow to her and her friends and family. But it has been amazing to watch the faithfulness of God and how He is manifesting his presence in her life through circumstances, other believers and unbelievers. This diagnosis came Monday, and here is just a sampling of the things that have happened since.

She found out that a friend of the family had been through the exact same thing, pregancy and all, 8 years ago. Through that she learned there are three areas in the country that specialize in Hodgkins and one is in Omaha. She talked to her doctor here and he was thrilled she was researching and had found a group who dealt with pregnant women with the condition (very rare) and was very open to collaborating with them.

I had shared the following Paul Harvey story with her:
When the eagle sees the storm approaching, it leaves its nest with the expectation that the storm winds will push it higher and higher until it is flying above the storm in the warmth and light of the sun (Son). When the storm passes, it returns to its nest unharmed. Compare this to the chicken hawk who cowers against the cliff and allows the storm to buffet him, sometimes not surviving.
Just like Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

This story meant a lot to her and she told her husband she was determined to face this storm like an eagle. A couple days later, she received this e-mail from her neighbor:

"I thought this was a very positive sign(as you know I am 1/100th Native American). There were two eagles soaring over your house today. No better word than soaring. They just stayed there. I have never seen eagles in this area before. They just were hanging out, making tons of noise and enjoying the nice sky. I could not figure out what the noise was until I noticed them over your house. As I said, that is a very positive sign to me( and I am a weird guy, but I took it as a sign!)
This was followed by another e-mail from a friend:

"Wow! This is incredible! You know it seems when you are in a crisis or trial you see God's hand in an amazing way. I remember in my depression, although I felt a deep sense of emptiness it was like God gave me signs along the way that He had not forsaken me. He knows how to show you in very personal ways that He is with you."

How true. I was telling Mark all the things that had been happening and He said, do you think these things are happening all the time and it's just that we're paying attention?" I kind of think it is God's grace being poured out in accordance with the need. It's why you look at someone and say, "I don't know how they can do that." It's because they are receiving additional grace for their need.
But wait, there's more! It seems every song I've heard has been for my friend, but one in particular stood out by Sanctus Real called "Whatever You're Doing". Here are the words:
Chorus:
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...To...

(Chorus)

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly
It's time to face up Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out
The part that caught my attention when I heard it was the phrase "You're up to something bigger than me." Before I could even share this with her, she called and told me that she had been up most of the night with a big dream God had given her. She said, "Is it possible to have the highest high and the lowest low in less than a week?" I answered, "Absolutely!" She had shared the dream with one of our pastors and he started laughing because he had e-mailed a few people with a dream of his a couple weeks earlier and it matched exactly her dream. Then I shared with her something our other pastor has shared with me several weeks ago and something Mark and I had talked about that also paralleled her dream! Wow! God is amazing.

But wait, there's more! I haven't even had a chance to share this with her yet. I listen to Chuck Swindoll on the radio on my way to work sometimes. He's been going through the book of Daniel. Yesterday it was the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abedniggo. I almost turned the station, so familiar I thought I was of the story. Of course we all know they refused to bow down to King Neb's golden statue and were ordered to death in the fiery furnace.

Here, I'll let you read for yourself:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king."
25 He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Perhaps you, like me, had never caught the fact that the only thing that burned in the fire was what bound them! They themselves were not harmed by the fire but God used it to loose what had bound them and set them free. They didn't even have the smell of fire but their chains were gone. Wow, what a powerful analagy. Really makes Isaiah 43:2 come alive: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
I could go on but you get the idea. God is at work and it is amazing to watch. Please pray for my friend as you think of it. (I'm not going to share her name in this format.) Please pray also for those who know her, that we might be sensitive to God's voice as to how we can come alongside and help her.

Monday, September 22, 2008

TMI

For those of you who didn't immediately understand TMI, it stands for Too Much Information! That could be my life's theme. Or as Emily said, "too many rabbits on the trail." If I could only program my brain to think about and ponder one thing at a time, perhaps I might absorb something.


What, you might ask, is prompting this raving? I went to a class tonight and learned the difference between beliefs and feelings from a chemical point of view. The mind and the autonomic nervous system (the source of feelings) often clash. The mind thinks and reasons. The autonomic system "thinks" but does not reason, it merely responds to stimuli and is then programmed to respond that way to similar stimuli. Hence the ache in your gut when you think about a conflict that you feel you handled appropriately but still feel sick about it. Your mind tells you you did the best you could but your stomach still hurts. Perhaps in the past you have learned that your best efforts may still result in broken relationships and even though your mind learned how to handle conflict from this, your gut is now programmed to expect the worst and grieve the broken relationship or fear it will happen again.


We learned that if your autonomic system gets "stuck" there, irregardless of what your mind says, you cannot move forward into the "peace that passes understanding" or victorious living unless you reboot or reprogram the autonomic system. This reprogramming can happen through the use of accupuncture points (no needles) and through scripture and prayer.


The thing that is really wowing me though is the understanding that when we are born, our autonomic system and mind are one in the same. The mind is not yet capable of thinking differently than the autonomic system. We just react to stimuli and feeling. (Think terrible twos and my sister's phrase "never try to reason with a 2 year old) Not until children are about five years old does this separation occur at a functional level (and sometimes not even then.) So the things our chilren take in from 0 to 5 are so crucial because they are programming the autonomic system. But the other thing that occured to me, is that if we are not developing the mind, we will delay this development and the autonomic system will run rough shod over them throughout their lives. This can also happen if a particular trauma which brought strong emotions never is "reprogrammed." It can control a person's life because they are "stuck" or, chemically speaking, blocked.


This explains to me why children who are placed in front of television where stimulation and feelings and wants are fed to them day after day are so damaged. They are rarely asked to think critically about anything they see and so often they are surrounded by the teenage angst of Hannah Montana or Zach and Cody where every feeling is followed without regard to rationale thought. Then between scenes, they are taught to be anxious about how they look, how much stuff they have (or don't have) or fed a jingle that will program them to respond to a product in a certain way. Their autonomic system is bulked up while their minds and rational thought are either withering or conforming to the programming of their feelings. 99 times out of 100 this programming will not match with the Truth and will lead to chaos, confusion and pain. Just as the enemy intends it.


Micah demonstrated perfectly this brain development today. I found a Superman costume on sale and he was very excited to try it on. After getting all decked out, he said he needed to go outside. I asked him what he was going to do but he said, "I just need to go." I followed him and watched from the front door. He just stood there looking at the street. Pretty soon he turned around and looked at me with such a sad, puzzled look and said, "I can't fly mom." He had the saddest look on his face. His mind just learned something he had not known before and it did not match with his feeling that it was Superman's costume that would make him fly. Of course this realization had to come at some point. It's part of how this separation of mind and gut occurs. But how painful to watch. And if this realization is painful, how about when children are told by their parents they are loved, but experience the pain of divorce and separation. The mind and gut split.


He also addressed how powerful music is in this area as well. How often do we hear kids say, "I don't listen to the words, I just like the music." This is because it glides past the mind and straight to the autonomic system, creating powerful feelings and emotion in us. If this emotion matches with Truth, not a big problem. But if it does not, you set yourself up for internal conflict which causes stress, which causes disease.


When we constantly feed our autonomic system (medicate it so we feel better) with television, music, distraction, people who affirm our feelings, we are turning down the volume to the Holy Spirit and Truth. The speaker said it takes weeks of "turning off the noise" to regain the ability to hear God's voice again. And we must be careful to weigh that voice against the Word of God to understand where the autonomic system (our feelings) have led us astray.


How important to build silence into our lives and the lives of our children. If I let them, my children would fall asleep every night with their iPod in their ears. I have always thought this was wrong but I did not fully understand why. Tonight I have a much better understanding. It also explains to me why our culture is so bent on selfish pursuit rather than sacrificial good. If what you know to be right does not match with what you have programmed to "feel good", you will be in conflict and folllow the feeling rather than the belief. Eventually your belief will change to match your feeling unless your autonomic is reprogrammed with the truth. And if we constantly feed our feelings without training our mind in the truth, we will live in conflict, chaos and pain.


Like I said, TMI. And this was only the tip of the iceberg of the discussion tonight. If I bored you, so sorry. But in order to keep other rabbits from invading the trail, I wanted to write some things down to help solidify in my own mind what I learned and you have the "priviledge" of coming along for the ride.


PS A completely unrelated Micah funny: Since the weather was cooler for awhile, Micah had been wearing jeans. I asked if he needed help unbuttoning to go to the bathroom the other day. He said, "No, but I will maybe need help onbuttoning."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update - Finally!

It's been so long since I've written I'm sure any who had been checking this site have long since given up that I will ever post again. I certainly can't blame you. It seems every time I go to post, something interrupts be it life, technical issues or lack of energy.


It has been a fast and furious summer. We started with lots of ball games - basketball and baseball, and summer camp for Drew. Everyone but Micah participated in Mark's tennis clinic and Mark and Drew painted a few houses. Micah loved having his brothers around and their friends. I will say that all the boys' friends are SO good to Micah and don't act like he's a pain or a bother. Micah helps in that he doesn't constantly want to be with them and just checks in occassionally. I can't believe I didn't get a single picture of Micah of the trampoline with various crowds of teenagers and ten year olds. What was I thinking?


Micah has grown up so much this summer. He has lost his little pudgy legs and has turned into a little boy. He now wants to "play with my friends". He is not going to be content just hanging around with mom this fall after having such a busy social life this summer. Thankfully I have several friends with children his age who are in the same mode. So a play date is always an option. I did not enroll him in preschool because his age group is Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and I didn't want to wear him out when we have such a busy ball game schedule during the school year. But I think we may have to get him enrolled in story hour or something to satisfy his social needs!



His imagination has also taken off. A favorite game is David and Goliath and he is happy to play both rolls. (It's just as fun to fall over dead as it is to sling the stone.) At first when he played he would tell Goliath (as David) that he was stronger so we had to talk about the story in a bit more detail until he understood that God is the one who made David strong to kill Goliath. Now we say:
Goliath: I'm going to kill you with my sword!
David: Your sword is not as strong as the Lord!


Grant has also turned into a social bug, especially since we got back from vacation. He spent a lot of time with cousin Daniel in June during the weeks we called "Camp Hesston." They did Mark's tennis clinic, a basketball camp and took swimming lessons together. Some of his good friends has plans in July so when we returned from vacation it was like he had gone through withdrawl. They have been pretty inseparable this past few weeks. His best friend, Robby, and he are in the same home room at school so they were pretty exicted!


Dean, of course, did not need to turn into a social bug as that has already been firmly established as part of his personality. He and Keegan (best friend) had opposite vacations all summer so their time together was not as much as either would have liked but it meant we saw more of Dean and also that he spent more time with other friends. Dean has been a huge help with Micah this summer! He and four friends have recently started a band. I have yet to hear them (they meet at the drummer's home) but I've heard that they are progressing nicely. They're planning a fall concert so I'll let you know.

Drew has also been a huge help this summer. He always has such a great attitude when I ask him to babysit. He's pretty content to be home. He really goes in spurts. He might spend all day and evening with friends and then spend a couple days at home just hangin, playing music and playing with Micah. Then he'll plan a campout or movie night with friends again. He certainly is not one who has to be on the go all the time and seems to innately understand how to balance activity and rest. I am actually a bit worried about him this year because I'm not sure he's going to be able to maintain this balance if he stays as involved as he is planning. This is his list of responsibilities for the year:
Student (of course)
Stuco Rep
SADD Co-chair
YAR (Youth as Resources) member
Youth group worship team member
Youth group member
Hesston Singers member (with numerous performances and two major shows that require weeks of evening rehearsals associated with that)
Three sports - XC, BB and Tennis

I keep telling him to evaluate whether he's in over his head and we can figure out a way for him to back off of something. Of course the year is just starting and he says he's okay. He had three meetings the first week and has 7:30am Singers Practice every morning but sports practice doesn't start until Monday so we'll see. Part of me knows how much this helps with scholarships but I also don't want him to overdo. Pray that we can find a balance.

Mark has seemed more stressed for a first week of school, more tired, especially considering tennis practice hasn't started yet. So I'm not sure what that is about. I guess I need to ask him, huh!

Our vacation to Michigan (and six other states) was amazing. I'm hoping to blog on that later. (I actually had planned today until I fiured out half my travel journal somehow got deleted - ARGHH!) We had such a blast! I was not ready to come home. It was so refreshing to have no internet access. A perfect excuse to not check my e-mail and as a result I had no idea what was happening back at work. I knew they would be fine in my absence but now they know too! It really allowed me to reboot my brain and let it rest from constantly thinking about a hundred different things and just really be present in the moment. It was incredibly refreshing but hard to return to the constant bombardment of schedules, house maintainance, cooking, work demands, yard maintenance, etc, etc, etc. I loved the slower pace. It's so hard to figure out how to build that in to normal life. God knew what He was talking about when He said we needed a day of rest. I have really come to realize that this summer and have made a concerted effort to set Sundays aside for that purpose.


Anyway, that's the update. Sorry no pictures. Hopefully next time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Colorado Vacation

I actually started this post a couple weeks ago and when I was almost done, I hit some BAD key and poof, the whole thing was gone. I've was so discouraged I haven't been able to blog since. So here I am, back on the horse again.

I just wanted to share a few pictures from our trip. It was not our typical Colorado vacation. Not nearly enough isolation (overdeveloped Avon) wooded trails (covered in snow still) and streams (roaring rivers) and hiking (3 year old) for me. So we ended up paying for fun instead of just exploring. Not good for the vacation budget but still created some good memories.

This is our condo. We did end up listening to a time share presentation to get the 4 nights free in a future Sheraton stay. I would definitely not go back here unless I was skiing. It would be a great location for that.
Since we were not nestled into the side of a mountain but instead located on a busy street, the boys did way too much of this.
We went up to Beaver Creek Village where they had Blue, Brews and BBQ going on as well as the normal fair of bungee trampoline, wall climbing and putt putt which seems to be the standard fair for summer fun at a ski resort. No alpine slide though. The three oldest did the wall climb. It was actually a pretty challenging climb on the right side.



Grant stuck with the left side. They made it to the top!All four took a stab at bungee trampoline, even Micah. You can see video at the bottom of this post. Micah thought it was great. Drew had a great time while he was doing it but got very motion/altitude sick when he got off. He missed putt putt in favor of the men's room. He felt better when he got some brisket in him!




Keeping score is not even worth it when Micah is on the course. See the snow in the background!
Micah found this friend in a general store.
Grant had to conquer this river. Micah desperately wanted to try but we all knew how that would end up.
They had a tent set up with crafts for kids. Micah and Grant enjoyed that.
Micah made a mask...
...and a guitar (with which he became inseparable! Picture stepping onto an elevator and seeing a paper guitar rockin' three year old in a mask!)
Grant made a hat.
There was a great park nearby with a fishing lake and a playground. We spent quite a bit of time here, especially Micah and I.



We went to Eagle and went bowling one night. We found a coupon in one of the flyers they have around. It was a GREAT place. Drew was so wishing we had something like it in Hesston. I told him he needs to take the Entrepreneurship class before he graduates and make it his project to find out what it takes to build and run a place like this.

Micah's first bowl stopped just shy of the pins. This meant the manager had to climb down and get it. He enthusiastically offered this ramp for Micah's use! Micah loved it! And we loved it because it meant the rest of us got a turn! You can watch the other video below of his strike!
They serve our pizza on this table so we eat while we bowl. They had a great menu of pastas and salads as well. If you're curious, check out their web site.The next day Drew, Mark and Grant went to Hanging Lake. This time it was Dean who didn't feel well. It was a forty-five minute drive to get there but there really were no trails open around us. But it was worth it!



When they got back we celebrated Micah's 3rd Birthday!
Tuesday was Glenwood. Notice how few people there were. The weather was perfect. I was so sorry I didn't get a picture of Micah's tent. We set a small tent up on this hill above the pool under a tree for Micah to take his nap. Of course I had to lay down with him. It was so great. The temperature, sleeping on the side of a mountain under a tree, cuddling and reading books. A great memory.

Remember the bubble chairs? They are still there and still only 25 cents!This might be the only picture with me in it! And how lovely I look, NOT!
Video time!

video video

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Toilet Trumpet Voluntary

Brings new meaning to tooting on the toilet, don't you think?


Do you want to hear the concert for yourself? Click the play button below!
video

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Rare Quiet Moment

I didn't really plan to stay home from Sunday School but here I am. And I must say, that irregardless of how good Sunday School might be today, I think my soul needed the peace and quiet more. It is a beautiful, sunny, so far windless day. Perfect day for sitting on the deck and listening to the birds and blogging a bit.


Mark had a new record of high school graduation invitations this year, 41! It's not as bad as it sounds as some are having their celebrations together. We covered six in one stop yesterday. There's enough difference in the times, that he just may make it to all them them. (I didn't go to all of them. I spent most of the evening helping Des with her son, John's.) Of course we can't get a gift for everyone, but he does write a personal note to each one which takes a lot of time. Hopefully they appreciate his effort. He is well loved and it is gratifying to see someone who so obviously loves what they do and have the kids respond to him in this way. Even after doing that job for 21 years he has lost none of his enthusiasm.

I must admit that I'm freaking out knowing that this graduation thing will be at our door step in two short years. We've been taking Drew to these open houses the past 15 years. It's hard to believe his turn is so close. It makes me cry just thinking about it. I talked to a friend who assured me that even as we grieve the end of one season, we can be assured the best is yet to come. I trust her because her two boys and one girl are grown and gone with only one daughter left at home. She'll be a senior next year. So I'm trying to believe her and not my feelings.

I am starting to realize that I don't have time and energy for all things and that I must pick and choose carefully or I will miss what is really important. I know, you would think I would have learned this earlier, and actually I have, many times. The problem is, I have to keep learning it. And things come up - a little here, a little there - and it's like the frog in boiling water. All of a sudden, you're thinking, "Man, it's hot in here!" My recent diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue confirmed what my mind and body had been screaming - something's gotta give! So I am looking for ways to make my world a bit smaller, at least for now. To really focus and be present in the NOW and not worried about keeping so many balls in the air. I don't want to miss a minute.

Micah turns three next week. It has gone by in a heartbeat. A month later Drew turns 16, beat-beat, that fast. What a great young man he is becoming. I'm so proud of him. And what great things he has learned by being Micah's big brother. If there is an award for Best Big Brother, I can't imagine he wouldn't win. I am in awe of him.

If I'm going to make it to church, I need to get in the shower. Singing praise songs always fills my soul so I don't want to miss it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Update

I haven't written for awhile. It has been an incredibly busy month and quite frankly, I'm a bit numb. The last month I've gone to more tennis tournaments than I can count, a few flag football games (Grant), a piano recital, wrapped up Hide 'N Seek including our final program, struggled to only work 3 days a week in the office resulting in many hours from home, our new "Vickie" started at work (her name is Jan) as well as a couple others we hired, took a business trip to Phoenix, and planted our garden to try to reduce the grocery bill and tried, unsucessfully, to keep up with grocery shopping, housework and meals. Last weekend was our final HNS performance and Drew and Dean both wrapped up their tennis seasons. Mark still has a couple weeks left. The next three weeks bring youth group dinners, tennis banquets, middle school open houses (yes, Grant is "graduating from Elementary School), field trips, high school college credit enrollment (yes, Drew can begin earning college credit!), Mother's Day, baby showers, bridal showers, graduations and open houses, more new employees and FINALLY a vacation - to Colorado - over Memorial Day weekend. Some people dread the busyness of the holiday season. For us, that season is April and May.

This season has always been busy for us, but add to it the demands of a two year old, two boys in tennis as well as the coach, working an extra day, being in a new position and being an employee short for the past seven months has been enough to send my adrenals into the critical zone. My doctor called with that news last week. So, my job for the next six months at least, is to figure out how to rebuild my adrenals as well as figure out how to reduce my stress. Since I'd like to keep the kids and the marriage, I'll be doing a lot of praying about what of the other needs to go.

Micah and I spent quite a bit of time outside planting flowers and putting in the last of the garden. I finally got my floor mopped and a couple phone calls made. If you looked at my house, you would wonder what I did all day because it definitely looks unattended. But it seems that even when I give it attention, it still look as though I didn't 15 minutes later, so might as well leave it as is and enjoy the sunshine, right?

Usually I am looking forward to summer and really, I still am. But it brings so much activity and chaos as well as shoes, towels, toys, books, balls, music, noise, food, dirty dishes, unending trips to the grocery store and friends all over the house all the time that I must admit, I'm feeling the anxiety of it creeping in. I hope I have enough time to regroup before it all hits. Otherwise, I may need to go away by myself for a few days to restore sanity around late June. I'm going to need to put in some strict chore lists and standards. It doesn't help to write "pick up the house" if their standard is "but I'm going to use that raquet again tonight" and "but the towel is drying on that chair" and "but I thought Drew was going to eat that cereal too". That's the trouble with not being here everyday to maintain. It can get really out of hand in a very short time and then I walk in and feel completely overwhelmed. Which is basically where I am now. So hopefully this will pass before May 22nd.

I know I have much to be thankful for. My children are healthy, our families are doing well, wonderful friends, great community, fabulous church. So many, many blessings. Just writing that makes me feel more at peace. But I do sense God calling me to find the still waters as best I can in this next season and take stock. Two short years before Drew graduates. Two short years left with Micah before kindergarten. Too precious to not be intentional about savoring every moment. I tend to stretch myself very thin serving in a myriad of ways - particularly at work and church. It is hard to say no to things I know I can do and would enjoy. But I must remind myself that every yes I say somewhere else, often means a no to my family in some way. We have pulled together well this past eight months but it was intended as a season and it's time to regroup. I know God has new and wonderful things in store but I must let go of some of the old to make room for the new. That's a good thing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Life of Micah as Captured by Drew


Drew took Micah on a photgraphic adventure last night. It didn't start out as the plan. They were playing in Micah's room and they both came out asking for the camera. Drew said, "You gotta see this!" followed by Micah's "Yeah mom, come see me." I followed them into Micah's room to see Drew turn Micah's crib mattress into a Micah-swatter (think fly swatter) with Micah looking like a squished bug with his head peaking out. From there the game was on and they went all over the house setting up photo ops. It was pretty hilarious. Micah was exhausted when all was said and done and came begging for someone to "put me nigh-night!"















They even did costume changes!













...and commerative photos










...and photos with special effects!










































Saturday, March 29, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

Brings Back Memories

I kept Micah's crib mattress knowing that it would come in handy. It's been a trampoline, a fort wall, a fort roof, a punching bag, a kicking bag, a target and now a sled. Every kid needs to have a staircase or at least access to one! I remember many sledding events down our back staircase at the Euclid house. Not many better ways to spend a cold wintery night than this! (Click the play button to view the video!)
video

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Light by Grant

Not very long ago there was a storm that affected an electricity pole. So many places in our town the lights were flickering on and off like fire flies’ light. At the elementary school the kids were like party animals at the biggest and best party in the world, and that’s not all.

When I got home, there was not one ounce of electricity besides things that run on batteries. Ever nook and cranny and everywhere in the house was cold. Specifically upstairs. For example, I almost got frost bites up there. However my big brother lit a blazing fire that illuminated the whole basement, and in addition to the fire we lit candles to help ward off the darkness.

When I saw that blazing fire I all of a sudden felt lazy and popped into a chair faster than you can say “sweet mashed potaters.” I didn’t do anything but read until my mom came home with Braum’s, and believe it not, I scarfed that stuff so fast I rivaled a pig.

The day wound down and we played Apples to Apples by firelight. But around 7:40pm we got power. The power eliminated our need for candles. So that’s the whole story about a tiny ice storm.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who's on First?

We have joked in the past that for Micah's gifts we could get formica samples and put them on in lieu of a gift card because it's For Micah (formica), get it? Well today, Mark and Micah went to Kropf Lumber to pick up formica and we had our own Abbot and Costello routine going:
Micah: "What's that daddy?"
Mark: "It's formica."
Micah: "For me?"
Mark: "No, it's formica?"
Micah: "Sanks, daddy."
Mark: "You're welcome."
Micah: "Dew, look, it's for me!"
Drew: "What is it?"
Micah: "I non't know."
Drew: "It's formica."
Micah: "Yeah, it's for Micah."
Drew: "What is it?"
Micah: "It's for me!"
Drew: "It is? What is it?"
Micah: "Daddy, what is it?"
Daddy: "It's formica."
Micah: "Yeah, it's for me!"
It could go on but you get the idea. And, it came with bag of popcorn so what else could a guy want. It was pretty funny!

We were eating pancakes this week and the boys were trying to get Micah to say syrup. Micah says surabup.

Drew: Micah, say syrup.
Micah: Surabup
Drew: Say Sur Up.
Micah: Sur-a-bup
Drew: Say sur
Micah: Sur
Drew: Up
Micah: up
Drew: Sur-up
Micah: Surabup
Drew (refusing to give up): Sur
Micah: Sur
Drew: Up
Micah: Up
Drew: Sur Up
Micah: Sur Up
Much applause!
Drew: Syrup
Micah: Surabup
Much laughing

We're finally all healthy again. Drew had his last game last night, a heartbreaker against a rival private (think recruiting) school. I said, "Don't you want to have one more game to end on a good note?" He said, "Nah, it'm ready to be done." Well he's not quite done because he's practicing with the varsity as long as they continue through sub-state/state. Tennis starts Monday (yes in the middle of winter) so he'll have no break between seasons unless the weather stays terrible or the team doesn't play like we all think they should.

Dean has been taking his bass lessons and he and some friends are trying to put their musical efforts together. Since we don't own the trap set, I haven't heard them much but the family who does own the trap set invited us over to listen so we'll have to take them up on that.

Grant has had his nose in a book continuously for the past two weeks. He's either doing that or shooting baskets, inside or out.


Micah is feeling much better and back to his old self. You start to think they are just going through terrible two-dom and they are just going to be like that for awhile. Then when they snap out of it, you realize they just probably still weren't feeling well.

Micah's new word is "darnit." I have told Dean to cut it out of his vocabulary because it sounds terrible coming out of a 2 year old's mouth. Then I caught (okay, actually Micah caught) me saying it the other day. I had to immediately say, "Oh mommy was so naughty" and apologize to Micah. Yesterday Micah was trying to do something (can't remember what) and it was difficult for him. He said, "Oh, dr... Uhhhh. Mommy, I want to say darnit! Please can I say darnit?"
"No, Micah, that's naughty."
"Otay mommy."

Today, he was trying to get out of his carseat after returning with groceries. He got frustrated with his seat belt and said, "Oh goodness. Mommy I want to say oh goodness."
"Good Micah, that is good to say oh goodness."
"Sanks mommy."

I'm not sure how he came up with "oh goodness" but I think it's hilarious that even at such a young age, there is this NEED to have a way to express frustration. Aunt Carmen suggested her favorite, fiddlesticks. We'll work on that next.
2-25-08 Postscript: We've been trying out "widdlesticks." Micah wants to know where the widdle sticks are. He likes widdle sticks because they are fun to pound on drums.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Crud

Okay, enough is enough. We have had one form of crud or the other for the past month and I'm ready to be done already! Does anyone know how to fumigate a house in a way that kills germs and not people? We have passed around flu, strep (twice), colds and coughs for what feels like forever! I have replaced 12 toothbrushes in three weeks and need to get another set of six this weekend. I can't remember the last time anyone was on antibiotic and now we have filled 8 prescriptions in 3-4 weeks. I cannot exactly remember the last time we were all healthy. I think it was Christmas vacation. Calgon, take me away!

I am so ready for sunshine and ultra-violet rays that kill anything in their path. I'm ready for boys who come in sweaty and smelly because they've been playing outside for hours instead of cold and feverish and lacking in energy. I'm ready to open the windows in stead of stoking the fireplace. Spring cannot come soon enough for me.



On a more humorous note, Micah has been adding new phrases to his vocabulary. He and his friend, Kenzie, recently spent a couple hours together. Kenzie was telling Micah a few things and when there was a lull in the conversation, he said, "Now my question is..." Only trouble was, he had no question. So he just said something silly. I think he thinks the phrase means, "It is now my turn to talk and I would like to use it." Kenzie thought the whole thing was quite funny so she followed suit and they took turns "asking questions" for awhile.

I tease Des that Kenzie is getting Micah ready to marry. She hollers out, "Miiiii-Caaaah" when they aren't in the same room. Micah comes running out and says, "Yes, Kenzie? Yes?" I said all he has to learn is "You're right dear" and he'll be ready. Of course it was at Kenzie's house that Micah dressed up in high heels, a Dora Princess Dress and crown so maybe he has a few other things to learn about being the man of the house before he's ready for marriage.

Dean finally saved enough for his new bass guitar and has started lessons this week with his band instructor. The band instructor is very excited for Dean to learn and is already making plans for Dean to join the jazz band later. Hopefully Dean will respond well to this encouragement and work hard at this. Dean works hard at sports but he tends to like everything else to be easy so this will be very good for him. Dean has a few weeks before tennis starts so we're really trying to focus on his guitar and get him off to a good start before his attention is divided. (Okay, so maybe that's one blessing from winter still continuing.)



Drew drove himself to the doctor this week. Somehow that felt like the equivalent of a first word or first step, like we crossed a giant milestone somehow. He just looks older now. He's back into the swing of basketball although he's had to miss two games with strep. It's very fun to watch he and his team play. He's having a great year on the court and off.

Grant has been shooting baskets non-stop. When there is no snow-ice he goes outside. When there is, he goes into a bedroom with an over the door goal or downstairs to the pull out goal that hangs on the wall. It is paying off because he has been scoring a good majority of the points in his games. He's also doing a lot of reading and piano playing and if I catch him watching TV it's usually the History Channel. He turned it off tonight though and said, "Mom, don't watch 'The Universe.' It's a bunch of lies. You know, millions of years and big bang and all that. Well I guess it did happen like that. Cause in the beginning God spoke and Bang, it happened." Smart kid.

I remember when the boys were younger and they'd start to go stir crazy in January and February I would make them put on their boots and coats and run laps around the house. Drew had to run something like 28, Dean 23 and Grant 15. They were probaby 4, 7 and 10. They looked at me in disbelief the first time I made them do it but then later, when I'd tell them they either had to stop wrestling or go run laps, they'd get their coats and boots on, assign each other the number of laps and off they'd go.

Now they don't wrestle as much. Instead they all play their instruments at the same time or wander from PS-2 to TV to computer to MP3 looking for something to pass the time. Thank goodness for sports practice. Lately the tennis raquets are laying on the floor every time I turn around. I think they must get them out just to look at them and hold them in anticipation of spring. Dean has gone to the college gym to hit and they did get out last weekend when we had a bit of a reprieve from winter.

Old Man Winter, it's time for you to move on out. I don't care what the groundhog says, you're overstaying your welcome! Bring on spring!




Monday, January 21, 2008

Sister Act

My sister, Carmen and I recently spoke at her women's event in Derby. It was a journey that began two years earlier, when after a deep conversation about past hurts and some groundbreaking healing, I distinctly felt God telling me that someday we would speak about what we had learned to women and sing a song together. I called Carmen to tell her my "vision" to see if she had heard the same word from God. "Absolutely not!" was her emphatic answer. I must say I was relieved to hear it!


Now we both know that was all part of God's grand plan to give us the confidence to move forward when, two years later, the opportunity to do just as He had shown us came about.


You can read our talk at my Hide 'N Seek web site if you want the unedited version. Be forewarned, there's even more there than we said that night since we quickly realized we'd be there until midnight if we said everything we had written.


The heart of the lies we believed were summarized in this portion of our talk:

Cheri: You know how there are those people who just have a way about them. When they tell the story, it’s funnier. When they sing the song, you feel it more. When they play the game, it’s more fun. Well, that is my sister. This was obvious to me at a very young age. So I was left trying to figure out where my value came from when I didn’t have these innate, intangible qualities that brought her such attention and affection. So I became the one who cooked and helped out and tried to keep the peace. And when I became good at these things, the lines were drawn, the competition established and the turf divided up. I don’t remember Carmen having a deep desire to cook and sew and earn money for her own clothes. But I do remember wanting to enjoy music or our neighborhood friends and feeling like I had crossed into enemy territory. So I wondered, “She knows me better than anyone and she hates me. So no one else could ever possibly really like me for who I am. They will only like me if I serve them.”

Carmen: You know how there are those people who just have a way about them. They have the ability to visualize something and then create it into being with their hands; When you have a decision to make you seek their wise council; When you need something organized and planned that is who you go to to get it done right. Well, that is my sister. Man, in my eyes, she never got in trouble and was always on the side of right. I was the extreme teenager, too happy, too sad, too funny, too sensitive, too cute, too dramatic…too much! I knew me in all my “too muchness” made her feel over-shadowed and I felt judgment and disappointment from her. So I wondered, “She knows me better than anyone and she hates me. So no one could possibly really like me for who I am. They will only like me if I tone it down a notch.” In the shadow of my strengths, she felt overlooked. In the shadow of her strengths I felt misunderstood.

We have finally come to realize that God created each of us in His image for His unique purposes and that the beauty we see in the other in no way diminishes the beauty He has created in us. But it's been a long road to get there. And the road could not have been navigated in our own understanding but only though the truth of God's word and a willingness on both our parts to find truth and healing.


Our talk focused on our "Thought Closet", a term borrowed from author Jennifer Rothschild in Self Talk, Soul Talk. We identified several lies we as women tell ourselves when we wallow in past hurts and bitterness, compare ourselves to others, or envy others' beauty thinking it dimishes our own, or when we live in a spirit of fear and anxiety. We then helped the audience to understand that we must RECOGNIZE the lie, REFUSE it, RELABEL it with the truth of God's word and REPEAT this process again and again until the lie is sucked dry and the truth lives large! You can read the lies and corresponding truth on the HNS web site. There is also a version for teens/pre-teens as well as one about the media.


It was God thing and that is always a good thing, never to be missed when He brings it your way, irregardless of the fear you must push through to do it. I heard a great quote the day of the event. The speaker said, "If you don't have the courage to do what God has asked you to do, don't worry about it. Just do the thing you would do if you did." So we did.

Dreams in Disguise

When you are the mother of four boys there are certain things you grieve because you know you will likely never experience them. You may never have those long conversations on the phone when they are adults just cuz. You will never shop as many stores as it takes looking for the perfect pair of shoes or pants. (The first store that has anything that fits is good enough.) You will never enjoy a chick flick together. You will never plan a wedding or shop for a wedding dress. You know that someday your primary role will be that of the mother-in-law and hopefully grandma.

I heard Annie Chapman talking on the radio about a new book she has written called, "The Mother-in-Law Dance." She commented that her daughter helped her in her research and noticed a trend in the data. Mothers seemed to have a much easier time in letting go of their daughters than their sons. She asked her mother why that was. Annie replied. "That's easy. Mothers never really have to let go of their daughters but they must let go of their sons." I think the phrase, "If you love them, let them go. If they love you, they will return" was written for moms and sons.

Sunday afternoon I took Dean and three of his friends to the Guitar Store to pick up the bass guitar that Dean has been saving for and talking about for six months. He finally had enough money and his friends were as excited as he was. So the four 12-13 year olds and I headed off to Wichita and I'm thinking to myself, "This is the equivalent of the wedding dress shopping trip for moms with boys!" I imagined the four young men as the bride and bridesmaids and me the mother of the bride. I saw their eyes pop out at the hundreds of guitars and watched them lovingly try on one after the other and imagined sequened dresses and fine lace. I saw them deliberate with care over which guitar would be the one to accompany Dean into this new adventure. Red or blue (instead of white or off-white). Padded or leather strap (instead of strapless or with straps.) It really was very fun and heartwarming and they even expressed their appreciation multiple times for the trip and the fried chicken and ice cream that followed.

It was good to realize that my moments may not be the ones I automatically think of as a female, but they are still there if I will just remember to look for them.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I was just challenged in a blog my sister recommended to write about a favorite Christmas tradition. I actually had already thought about doing this so that encouragement was just what I needed to finally pick up my blogging "pen" again after a too long hyatus.

Every year we do a scavenger hunt on Christmas Eve. Mark writes these clues that are so corny (terrible). Half the giggles come from us making fun of his complete inability to rhyme using real words which leads to his desperate attempts to make up words to force a rhyme. (For example, “Who knows, maybe you should look in the tub. It might be in there bub.”) Dr. Suess he ain't. Anyway, these clues send the boys all over the house and doing different tasks.

This year they had to build a miniature snowman and bring it in for hot cocoa. We always stop and play a game (our new annual favorite is Whoo-Nu). Sometimes they have to clean the house or set the table along the way depending on how much we got done in preparation for family the next day. We read or tell the Christmas story. This year, each person said one sentence. After Dean's turn, the next person would have to say, "But way before that..." and go back and fill in major parts of the story he skipped hoping he could get to his gift faster. We sing songs. This year Drew accompanied on guitar and Grant on piano. That was Micah's favorite part. We also open a special gift box (thanks Des) with different items that represent the gifts we have in Christ. We try to guess the gift. For example a toy telephone represents prayer, and then you look up the scripture to see if you’re right. Depending on when we start the hunt (which depends on what all is going on with family Christmas Eve) we may watch a movie together. (The hunt can take hours or minutes depending on the clues.) A favorite has been "A Muppet Christmas Carol" but we couldn't find it this year. So this year we watched "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey" on DVD. This has been a favorite Christmas story book for several years so it was great fun to watch it. At the end of the hunt, their gift is always pajamas. Then the boys open their gifts to each other. (The part Dean couldn't wait for.)

At 15, I wasn’t sure how Drew would be with the hunt this year. But much to my delight he was just as enthusiastic as always and trying to teach 2 1/2 year old Micah what the whole thing was about. Micah was pretty clueless about where everyone was running off to next. Dean, at 12, was actually the one who was acting a bit too cool for the whole thing. It made me so glad we had started this tradition when they were all young and made me wonder if the future might involve a grand scavenger hunt with grandkids! How fun!

In my blog reading leading to blog reading leading to blog reading (hmm, is there a cool cyberword for that I'm not up on? "Bleading" sounds kind of gruesome but sure fits) I found some other great traditions. One was a "Jesse Tree" which I have always been intrigued by but they looked like so much work. This one looked more doable and so meaningful.

The other idea was an envelope for each day of December hung like a garland and inside each envelope is an idea of how the family will spend some time together. I'm thinking I should do that for a year of Sundays instead of December since December is so hectic with school concerts, games, Christmas parties, etc. Or start it on the first day of Christmas break.

I also loved the idea of wrapping all the Christmas story books and having them in a basket and unwrapping one each day of December to read.

What a blessing to have a 2 year old who gives us the excuse to create some new traditions like these. Now all I have to do is remember them for the next 300 days!