In the next few days, I will depart for a family vacation.  Ahead is the promise of fun-filled days of sun, water, amusement park rides, and happy grandchildren discovering the wonder of it all.  Right now is the crashing reality of a dirty house, laundry that needs to be done, shopping for shorts and swimsuits, finding the house/dog sitter, unfinished work assignments, and planning, planning, and more planning.  And not nearly enough time to do it all.

When my children were young, there was more frenetic activity but less complications.  We vacationed when we wanted to since homeschooling gave us a freedom from traditional schedules.  There was also the advantage of only Bill and I making the decisions.  Only our family’s schedule to consider.  Of course, there was no way that any vacation with young children can actually be called uncomplicated.

However, if you compare it to family vacations with grown children, it is a whole different set of problems.  Adult children have their own lives and schedules.  College classes have different start/stop times, different breaks than high school.  Jobs require planning and permission to leave.  The choices of destination are carefully considered to include everyone’s desires.  If there are young children involved, it changes the complexion of the trip.  My oldest daughter and I about went crazy trying to work out the logistics, meet everyone’s budget, find the best situation for everyone.  Even with all our efforts, it still might not be the whole family together. 

Overall, the rewards are great.  Anytime you can get your family all on the same page, spending time together, having fun, it’s worth any hassle involved.  If your adult children want to spend the time with you still, something is right.  There won’t always be a time when these things will work out.  Life gets more complicated when children establish their own families. 

Life goes on.  Children grow.  Keep the relationships strong no matter what it takes.  And, if they are still all little, don’t forget, they grow up. 

 Ecclesiastes 3:1

To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

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Shredded Lives

June 26, 2008

I stood at the shredder tonight feeding its always hungry mouth.  It’s a bittersweet moment.  I celebrate having finished writing another Child Life History.  It’s what I do as a paying job.  When a child has been in foster care to the point that the state starts the process of terminating a parent’s rights, I get assigned to write a history of the child.  I read a mountain of files and write all about the child, the parents, and the process.  This history will be read by prospective adoptive parents. 

It is an involved process that I’m always happy to come to the end of, but it’s hard to do the happy dance at the shredder.  I stand there and shred all the personal information from the hundreds of pages of files I have read.  I shred the case notes that show how many times a mother relapsed in her struggle to get off meth.  Or the notes that show her struggle with mental illness. Or just with the bad breaks that life hands us, the ones that are so much harder without any support system. 

Oh, I’ve read the files that cause me to celebrate that a parent’s rights are terminated.  I can’t speak the details.  Confidentiality binds me.  But trust me, there are those parents whose history I read that cause me to understand that I’m not there in seeing all of us as beloved of God.  I struggle with that too. 

But it’s not one of those cases tonight.  Tonight I see a mother that struggled with an appalling childhood.  With a drug addiction that started with her mother as her supplier.  With mental illness that required understanding and support.  A mother who loves her child and is willing to consider giving up her rights to provide a better life for that child.  One who could have had a different outcome with a support system to turn to for help.

No. This is not an indictment of DFCS or its workers.  I routinely see and hear the caring in their voices.  Read what they did for the mothers on their caseload.  I see when it breaks their heart to file for termination.  Do I know of an organization that could help this mother before they file?  I’ve been asked this several times. 

Well, I do know of an organization, a body.  It’s called the Church.  And it rends my heart to know that we as a body aren’t where we need to be.  For so long, we have allowed the state to do the “welfare” work.  The work of the church.  We, the body of Christ, have ceded our rightful place in society to government.  And so, a young mother contemplates giving up a child she loves because she has no support outside of her case manager. 

I stand at the shredder tonight and get weepy.  I’m not sure what the answer is or even how I should be a part of it.  I just know that, right now, nationwide, we, the Body, are not it.  So, I shred.  And weep.

I John 3: 16-18

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 

4 A.M.

June 25, 2008

My pastor likes to quote his father who said that nothing good ever happens after midnight.  I get that.  I’m on my fourth teenager.  I believed that saying early on in parenting.  But I have my own twist.  Mornings that start at 4:00 a.m. are never good.  However, in my case, it has nothing to do with teenagers.  Instead it was technology calling. 

Those who know me are aware that I am battery-operated.  An insulin pump and a continuous glucose sensor are almost as intimate with me as my mate.  Just not as fun.  Waaaay not as fun.  24/7 they are attached.  They beep, whir, vibrate, and take on a life of their own.  All of which are signals for some diabetic event: good, bad, or indifferent.  Sometimes it is as simple as a battery that needs replacing or recharging. 

This morning, at four in the morning, my dear one said, “Something beeped.” 

“Okay.”

Two minutes later.  “Are you going to check that?”

You see, after over twenty years of pump noises, I don’t always hear them anymore.  They are just a part of my environment.  Like the music from your alarm clock radio that invades your dreams when you are too tired to wake up.  (Insert the weird dream and song of your choice here)  My dear one and I have an understanding.  He knows I don’t hear the noises sometimes.  And I appreciate, eventually, the fact that he is waking me out of my stupor to see what is going on.

Finally, I wake up enough to check and see which machine is making noise.  It’s the pump.  Low volume warning.  Meaning?  I’m almost out of insulin.  So, I push the buttons to check and see how low the reservoir is.  Hmm.  Four tenths of a unit left.  Not good.  I need nine tenths of a unit an hour without eating.  Darn.  Two hours to the alarm.  Even I can do the math. 

So, I get up.  Stumble to the bathroom.  Refill and start a new line.  Try to go back to sleep.  Sorta succeed.  But when the alarm finally goes off at 6:30, I am less than enthusiastic.  And frankly, if there was video of me this morning in the closet trying to figure out what I was doing….  Well, it would have been funny any of the three times I walked in there still not sure why or what I needed. 

It’s amazing.  Even with all the technology out there, it’s hard to replace even one body part.  It still takes a lot of work to do what God designed as an automatic process in our body.  Really.  Just ask yourself which bodily process you want to have to be in charge of all the time.  (Note to my male readers: There is a reason I said be in charge of rather than think about…:) 

Any body part.  Its every working.  24/7.  Don’t think too hard here.  Trust me, none of them. 

From my point of view, the more science discovers and creates, the more obvious it is that there is a master creator.  The intricacies of our bodies alone is cause for belief.  Forget string theory, the big bang, and all the other complicated ideas that seek to explain the mysteries and intricacies of creation.  For me, it’s simple.  After all, something beeps, whirs, vibrates, or otherwise reminds me several times a day that God’s creation is a wonderful thing.  Oh wait.  Gotta go.  Something is beeping now.  REALLY!

Psalm 139:14

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvellous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well.

 

New Crayons

June 24, 2008

Saturday I attended a monthly writer’s meeting with my critique partner.  She got lucky that day and won one of the literacy raffles that we do at each meeting.  Sorting through the basket of goodies, she handed me a rectangular case of Crayola watercolors paints.  She knew that I had grandchildren in the appropriate age range. 

My five-year-old grandson was so excited.  He had to have his mommy open them so he could count the colors.  There were eight new untouched ovals of colors.  He wanted to start painting right then and there.  It brought back memories. 

Do you remember when you were a kid and you got that new box of crayons?  Usually at the beginning of the new school year.  My pride and joy was the 64 count Crayola box with its own sharpener included.  I still remember that box, how it smelled, looked, and felt in my hands.  For some of you, the taste!  There’s just little better than untouched crayons.  The point is still on them.  The paper unpeeled.  Nothing is yet broken.  Filling in a new coloring book with them.  

Did any of you want to start the next school year with that still usable box?  Probably not.  I didn’t.  New crayons.  New beginnings.  I like that our walk with God is like that.  We all started like a new box of crayons.  Our talents, our potential.  Our hopes, our dreams.  All the colors that fill in life.  And as we lived, life wore us down some.  Broke a few of our colors.  Paper was peeled back.  Even the sharpener gummed up eventually. 

But with God, we get that whole new box.  Sixty-four and more.  And he’s there with the sharpener when we lose our edge.  And sometimes with a whole new box when ours are too nubby to carry on.  Do you need your colors replaced?  Or sharpened just a bit?  God’s always got a new box of crayons for us.

II Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

 

 

My Editor

June 21, 2008

Today, my dear one caught up on reading my blog.  While he was out of town, he was using one of those security encrypted (or whatever) laptops from his job so he could work.  Apparently their idea of security is to make it virtually unusable!  But, that’s a different post.

I heard him from the other room start to laugh as he read the snake post.  I smiled.  After all, next to God, he is the one whose opinion I value the most.  Whose approval I still want.  Then he came out of the office to tell me that one of my posts had an extra “a.”  By the way, if you ever need a proofreader….

“Okay I said, but what did you think?” 

His reply, “I haven’t finished it yet.” 

“Well let me know what you think about the content.”

A couple minutes later I hear, “Okay, now I’m crying again.”  I must confess that it really gets me that I touch his heart that way. 

“What made you cry?” 

“Turning Down the Fan.” 

Hearing this reply, I ventured into the office to hear more.  That’s when he told me that out of town isn’t hyphenated.  Really, I’m serious.  If you EVER need a proofreader….

“But what do you think about the content?  That’s what I want to know.” (Said with just enough of a note of irritation to convey my frustration.)  And, as soon as it left my mouth, I realized that I had an issue.  He was being helpful.  It was not criticism, not from him.  Any criticism that I heard was my own.  Probably because my own internal editor can be quite loud at times.  No, not the grammar and usage editor.  The other one.  The one we all have that comments and criticizes.  That internal voice that speaks through my issues to let me know I’m not doing it right.  That I failed.  Could have done it better.  Should have ____.  You fill in the blank.  The coulda, woulda, shoulda voice. 

Frankly, I was over it fairly quickly.  It doesn’t have the same power that it used to have in my life.  But, every once in a while, it raises its ugly head.  That’s when I have to pay attention to who is really talking.

Which voice will you listen to today?                                               

II Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

[THIS POST CERTIFIED ERROR-FREE BY MY DEAR ONE]

 

 

 

Turning Down the Fan

June 20, 2008

Okay, I confess.  I have had two late nights reading in bed.  With the lights on and no guilt.  My sweetie was out-of-town, and I took full advantage.  All right, all right, I also slept in the middle of the bed and made use of his pillow.  If I snored, I snored with impunity.  I even adjusted the temperature and turned up the ceiling fan speed.  After all, there was no one there to freeze while I menopaused my way through the night. 

It’s a fun freedom for a day or so.  But after that, I just plain miss him.  He is my best friend, my husband, my lover, my helpmate.  For this, a marriage relationship, you make compromises just to be in each others’ company. 

So tonight, it’s back to being considerate of one another.  Although we both rise early, if I choose to stay up and read in bed, he has consequences from my choices.  If I use the fan on a higher speed, he gets sinus problems.  So, we compromise.  I turn off the light as quickly as I can wrench myself away from the book and he does as soon as the New York Times crossword loses its pull.  He piles on the covers, usually three layers, while I alternately toss the sheet on and off. 

Relationships really are about adaptation and compromise.  Especially the most intimate ones.  I mean, look at what Christ did to have a relationship with me.  Sacrificing himself so that we could have that personal, intimate relationship.  That dance of prayer and praise.  That holy communion together. 

Fortunately for me, Christ is never out-of-town.  The question here is what changes do I have to make to keep the intimacy of God in my life.  I think it’s more than just turning down the fan….

 Matthew 16:24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

All God’s Creatures

June 19, 2008

Yesterday I found a snake under my deck.  Or, I should say that my three dogs found it.  The biggest dog, Abby, was barking like crazy.  Now this got my attention because Abby isn’t really a barker.  When I investigated, I found my dogs under the deck circling and barking.  Because of the low deck and the shadows that it cast, I thought they were harassing a turtle.  When I called them out of the deck though, it was not a turtle.  It was a snake.  It even came out to sun itself on my patio so I could get a better look.  Thoughtful, that snake.  Oh, did I say that I don’t like snakes?

Now, I know snakes can be anywhere.  But really, at my suburban house?  In my well-tended (okay, sorta well tended) fenced backyard? It was completely unexpected.  And, did I say that I’m not a fan of snakes?

I called animal control.  Guess what?  They don’t do snakes.  Gosh, neither do I….

I called my church.   No, I wasn’t requesting the prayer chain to pray him out of the yard.  But I did want the number of the guy associated with our church that did the snake education/demonstrations at our church picnics.  Oh, and this is the part where I go on record as saying we do NOT handle snakes at my church! 

Well, I was told to call 911 and that they would call the snake guy.  Really, 911?  I wasn’t even hysterical.  Of course after the squirrel that almost fell in my lap from the ceiling of our old house, this almost seemed inconsequential.  And ask me sometime and I’ll describe to you how mouse toe nails feel across your sleeping neck….  I must say that I didn’t react nearly as well to either of those incidents.

Sure enough, two officers were dispatched to my house.  The first one didn’t really inspire confidence.  It was that look on his face when he asked me if I was sure it was a snake.  Oh, and how big was it?  The second one was all business.  He pulled on gloves, got a flashlight and got to it.  He’s the one I want when I have a real emergency! 

Guess what?  We couldn’t find the snake.  Probably got scared off from the dogs.  After all, what self-respecting snake wants his nap disturbed by two hundred pounds of dogs?  The first officer was visibly relieved!

Life is a lot like that snake incident.  You’re just minding your own business, and along comes a snake.  Usually when and where they are least expected.

What matters is how you react to the snake. 

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.