There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hit the Reset Button!

   Today is the Lord's Day, the first day of my week!  It has been a day that has cooled some because of the rain and this afternoon my precious husband and I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the front porch and talked and listened to the steady patter of rain on the oak leaves.  So comforting.
   Each Monday I sit with my notebook and plan my week.  I give each day to the Lord in the mornings, but I am a firm believer in the old adage "Fail to plan-plan to fail."  I have found that even with fun things like reading to the children, taking a walk, playing a game together if I don't give it a specific time in the week it just won't get done!

   Tonight I sit and look at last week's plan.  At the top I have my list of my "streaks".  I got this wonderful idea from  You set a goal that you would like to have as a habit and then see how many days you can go without missing!  So I have there:
* 8 glasses of water  (then I put abbreviations for each day so I can circle them as I accomplish them)
*1200-1500 calories daily
*5 fruits/vegetables
*Walk-5 days/week
*Strength Train-5 to 6 days/week
  You could even include spiritual goals like memorize scripture, read Bible daily, go through prayer list daily, etc.  The idea is to get a good thing going and you won't want to miss!  It works for me.
  I look at last week's list and I thought it was workable when I made it.  However, I didn't plan on several "unplanned" events. (A doctor's visit I didn't plan on having in Nashville and then a sick day!)  In the past that would have thrown me for a loop and I would have stewed and fretted and been completely overwhelmed. 
  I also worked very hard at keeping up my month long staying on my diet and doing my strength training and cardio workout 5 times per week.  Much to my surprise after losing weight for about two weeks (and I know how to hang on to the fat!) I had gained 2.3 pounds this morning.  In the past I would have beat myself up and then out of frustration and anger had me a little binge party tonight.
  However, because I've gone through several experiences with depression I have learned that those responses only make me "feel" worse about the whole situation after the fact.  So what's the answer?
  Well, I call it hitting the reset button!  I love Lamentations 3:22 and 23.  "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
  If the Lord gives me a new chance every morning then I can do the same thing when I look at my very human failures.  Just hit the reset button and go after the goal again and again and again until I meet it!
  Every week of my life I look back and say, "I wish I had spent more time with the kids, I wish I had been more gentle in my reaction, I wish I had got more windows cleaned, I wish I had spent more time with the Lord, and the list could go on and on and on...."  If I focus on what I didn't get done I lose sight of what needs done for the Lord today! 
  It truly makes a difference when you get on the scale and see the number go up when you thought it would go down to become introspective and angry and decide who cares anyway? (at least for an hour or two)  However, it has changed everything for me to say "Well, how about that?  Maybe all that strength training is making muscle and it weighs more than fat!  Maybe I should add a few more minutes to my cardio, shuffle when I eat my snacks and see if I need to try some different foods to shake up my metabolism!"  Then I feel hopeful instead of condemned!
  It also made a difference when I looked at my list on Thursday morning (Tuesday and Wednesday being shot.) and said to myself, "Ok, let's put these down by priority.  What has to be done or we're not going to function as a family?" 
  I had planned on reading a large portion of a book to the kids and I did that as we drove home from Nashville.  I had planned on doing a lot of sewing and so I put the most important on the top and worked my way down.  I had planned on cleaning the living room windows, preparing a table for painting and getting the kids final grades ready to send to the school we're enrolled in.
  I was completely shocked when on Saturday not only had I completed almost everything on my list I also had Sunday dinner planned and ready!  My attitude definitely made a difference (Along with giving my family a pleasant wife and mother instead of a fretful one!)
  Here's some tips to help you be a happy homemaker instead of a fretful one:
1)  Be a Mary first--choose to spend time with the Lord if nothing else gets done! "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42)
2)  Break down your week's work into a plan.  I put what I want to get done for the week in one list and then break it down into each day.   I only write down one day at a time what I hope to get done and then what doesn't get done goes to the next day.
3)  Divide big jobs into workable pieces.  For example, I'm working on trying to get rid of excess out of our garage (half our life is still packed away!) and also am trying to get all the windows washed.  I have on my list a goal of 1 window per day and 3 boxes per day.
4)  Give each day to the Lord.   Think of placing it on an altar and giving it to Him and telling Him you want His will for your day and not yours.  That way if unexpected company shows up or your neighbor comes over and has an emergency where they need you, etc. your not going to fall apart because your planned day got changed.
5)  Plan time with your husband and children.  Ask the Lord to show you how to minister to them.  Keeping clean laundry in your husband's drawer and closet at all times is ministering to him.  A good hot meal on the table is ministering to your family.  Sitting on the porch and reading to your children is ministering to them.  Taking a walk with them is ministering to them.  Plan to do work together with your children.  I learned from my toddlers that they don't mind a job at all if mommy is right there with them making it fun.
6)  Learn to be a Pollyanna.  See the best in everything.  Don't just talk nice to your husband and children, talk nice to yourself!  Have little mantras you say to yourself like, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"  "Don't put it down, put it away!"  "Make every trip count!"  "Let's give that the 5 minute clean-up!"  "No, I won't let you in, devil!" (I say that when I'm tempted to get frustrated with my husband and say something I'll regret!)
7)  Remember that anything worth having has a price tag on it.  Ask yourself, "Am I willing to pay the price to..."  For example, "Am I willing to pay the price it takes to see my children trained for the Lord?"  "Am I willing to pay the price to make my husband pleased with me?"  "Am I willing to pay the price to keep my health?"
8)  At the end of your work week enjoy the Lord's Day.  It is the first day of the new week.  Make it a very special day for your family.  I love Sunday dinner.  I love my family looking forward to what's going to be on the table and what dessert I'll be serving.  I love the quietness of our Sunday afternoons and I love being with the Lord's people.  Start your week right by obeying Isaiah 58 and not doing what please you on His day but what ministers to others in a very real way.  At the end of the Lord's Day prepare to plan your new week and when looking back at last week put it behind you and
  I pray the Lord blesses you greatly in this new week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A letter to my dad...

  Dearest Dad,

  Yesterday I saw the picture of you and I that was taken last year on Father's Day.  It brings tears to my eyes.  It brings back memories of your mother when she developed the illness that you now have.  I can honestly say I hate the disease of Alzheimer's and all its symptoms.   The dad I knew and loved is gone.  The dad who was boisterous, full of zeal, social, and so alive to life and people. 
  I just want you to know, dad, the disease doesn't make me love you any less.  It only makes me look forward to the day we can visit again in heaven and you'll be free of illness forever. 
  Today, as we're headed to Father's Day you've been on my mind.  I find myself walking back over the days of my youth and cherishing each moment that I had with you.  I never realized when I was in my carefree youth how much I'd hold on to those moments  in the future and go back over them again and again--like looking at precious snapshots that captured that moment in time.
   I remember my birthday party in Lake St. Clair, Michigan.  We lived above a garage very close to the lake.  It must have been my 4th birthday.  There was a little porch on the roof with fencing around it and we had my birthday out on that porch.  I remember your acting silly and blowing on the noisemakers.  It was a sweet memory of being the center of attention with my daddy being the one that was giving me all the attention that a second born could crave!  
  I remember the time you were laying in a windowseat reading your newspaper when I asked you to pray with me that I wouldn't go to hell.  You laid your paper down, knelt down and prayed with me.  I don't remember what you prayed--I do remember how much I loved my dad for calming my fears.   While living in that same house I stood in the church you pastored and after hearing a guest speaker preach on Calvary I reached up and took your hand, prayed and asked the Lord to come into my heart and save me. 
  I remember prayer being a major part of our lives.  You led us in prayer about almost everything--or so it seemed.  One night you had us down by the couch praying for milk because we didn't have any.  Our prayers were short and to the point.  I thought yours wasn't ever going to end.  While you were praying there was a knock on the door and to my amazement there stood our school principal with a gallon of milk under each arm. 
  "My parents cows gave too much milk today.  Could you use some?" 
  "God heard my dad's prayers, He heard my dad!"  Prayer has always been a major part of my spiritual health and I think it's no mistake that your prayers being answered probably laid the foundation to that part of my life.
  I remember a night you gave me a good hard spanking and I was thinking in my head, "I hate him.  I hate him!"  Then after it was over you said, "Now come here, honey." and you wanted to hug me and tell me you loved me.  Those hateful thoughts instantly changed to, "I don't hate him.  I don't hate him."
   I remember your taking me on a "date" with you.  Isn't it strange how every detail of something like that sticks in our mind?  I know the exact spot where the little corner cafe sat where we stopped to have a soft drink together.  It was a greasy spoon cafe on Highway 67between Albany and Muncie, Indiana.   I felt so big sitting at that counter with my dad.  After that you took me to a store and bought me a Bible story book.  I kept it for years and years and somehow it got lost in one of our moves.  But if it ever shows up I remember writing on the front flap the date.  It was a memorable night for a little girl to be with her dad.
  I remember the hikes we took when we lived out north of Parker.  As we marched down the road you would make us do cadence marching to the words:
  "You had a good home but you left-right, left-right...
    you had a good home but you left-right, left-right, left-right, left!"
  We would end up under the bridge sitting on the cement shelving cooling off, swinging our legs, and seeing who could spit the farthest.  (Why do I remember that Kristi always won?" :)
   I remember you taking the time to talk to us about dating lost boys.  You gave me a magazine from Back to the Bible that followed the life of a young woman and her letters to one of the preachers.  First, she was going to change him, next he promised he would come to church with her after they got married, and then the sorrow of their married life when he became a drunkard and a wife-beater.  I was thoroughly convinced and that was one sin that held no temptation for me.  Your spending time to show me the Bible and give me someone's testimony had a lasting impact on me.
   I remember my tumultous teen years when I felt I could not get you to understand me.  I read a book by Richard DeHaan about teens that greatly affected me.  However, I couldn't seem to get you to discuss my teen troubles.  I wrote you a long letter and left it on your car seat.  When I came out of work that night you were waiting in the car and we had our talk.
   I remember calling you from my home after I was married and had four kids to tell you how sorry I was I didn't honor you more and obey you more. I was sorry for hurting your ministry by being a rebellious teen so many times.   I was heart broken and you told me I'd been forgiven long ago for anything that had hurt you.  I was so distressed over it that I kept calling you and you finally said, "Now Tami, the cat's dead.  Go bury it and don't leave the tail out so you can keep checking it to make sure if it's dead."  Those words often echo in my memory and I often have to repeat them to myself when I need your wise advice once again.
   I remember calling your house to talk about spiritual things and you always had the time.  You always stopped what you were doing to talk to me.  When I went through the deep, deep valley of depression you kept telling me to "Look up--not in.".  You would quote scripture and remind me that if I looked in it would get dirtier and darker but if I looked up it would pull me out of the darkness.
   When I had a terrible week you and mother packed your things and came over to stay with me.  I remember you laying your hands on me and praying for me over and over.  Each time you did that the depression would ease.  What love a sacrifice.
  I remember asking the Lord to please not take you and mother from me because I knew you wouldn't fail to pray for me when others did.  Shortly after that she went to heaven and not too long after that Alzheimer's began claiming you.  I have made it without you on the other end of the phone but I haven't made it without hearing so many things you've said and taught going through my mind and being so thankful for the dad I was given.
   Dearest dad, what a wonderful legacy and heritage you bestowed on me.  You weren't perfect, you actually were impulsive, quick to move, slow to listen and you didn't fit the manuals that have been written on how to be the perfect dad.    I remember during one of my rebellious times (and after focusing on your imperfections) I decided I was going to show you by going into total rebellion.  I took a walk and as I walked around and around the block fussing and fuming at you I knew beyond any doubt you had David's perfect heart.  With all your heart you desired to please and obey the Lord and to the best of your ability you were fathering us in obedience to the Lord.  I couldn't follow through on my threat once I admitted that.
   If I had listened to you and obeyed you I wouldn't have many of the scars I do have.  I can't think of any advice you gave me that wasn't absolutely true.  I just didn't like your delivery and used that as an excuse to sin.  Any place you didn't "measure up" Christ would have filled in the empty spots.  It wasn't your failure--it was my failure to fully depend on the Lord to meet my needs.
   I wish you could read this and comprehend how very, very much I love you and how grateful I am for you.  You truly are a modern-day spiritual hero, one of the giants we should try to emulate and follow their footsteps.  I have often asked the Lord for your fearlessness in witnessing and your total unawareness of what negative things people thought or said about your love for the Lord and your Christian life.  I also covet the zeal you always had toward the Lord's people and the Lord's work.  Thank you so much for being my dad. 
   Since you can't read this I want to honor you before others and let the whole world know what a wonderful dad I have.  I love you, daddy!
 Happy Father's Day!



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our Cierra Nichole...

  We got Cierra and John in February when she was three years old and he was 10 months old.  John, being a baby just snuggled right up and made himself at home.  Cierra wasn't so quick to adjust.  She was a beautiful brown haired little girl with dark brown eyes and she was also scared out of her wits!  I tried my best to put myself in her shoes as she stood in our living room looking around.
  She was very articulate and a quick learner, but she didn't feel like she belonged to us yet.  Whenever I would go somewhere and my husband wasn't with us she would ask me, "Why are you driving?  Why isn't he driving?"  Then when we got in the van she would lay over in her seat as if she was very distressed. 
  I tried trips together to Wal Mart to buy Dora the Explorer as rewards for being a good girl, I tried taking her on a "date" to Cracker Barrel, I tried letting her shop with me and push the little girl's cart in Kroger but each time it was just her and me she would end up talking very mean to me and we would repeatedly have to make trips to the bathroom.  (meaning she was very nervous)
   The day came we were to go before the judge and I stood in the bathroom brushing her hair and explaining to her what was happening.   I told her that "today we're going before a judge and we're going to tell him we want you forever."  I looked down as she asked, "You DO?" and saw hives on her little neck. 
  "Yes," I said, "forever and ever and I'll tell the judge that."  .
   "And I won't have to be on the street or in the ditch any more?"  she asked.
  "No, honey, right here with your daddy and me forever and ever."  She heaved a long sigh of relief.
   When we got to court I held her in my arms and told the judge we wanted them forever.  When we got home she bounced around the house like a little bunny rabbit full of joy. 
   She never asked why my husband wasn't driving again.  I can only guess that when I took her somewhere without baby John she thought I didn't want her and was taking her to another home.  She never laid down in the seat again.  She learned to love shopping with mommy! (and still does!)
  I call Cierra my rose in bloom.  She's turned into the most wonderful daughter a mother could wish for.  We have so much in common.  My mother told me more than once that Cierra looked more like my biological daughter than my biological daughters do!  We also have so many similar loves and interest--cooking, baking, sewing, designing, and yes, this year we even laughed and cried and enjoyed doing Algebra together!
  When we had her first birthday party she didn't seem to know what to do.  I had to coach her through the whole thing.  Let me tell you, by the next one she had it all figured out and knew exactly who and what she wanted! "I want a tea party, I want little sandwiches, I want Rachel and Haley and....."
  This year our daughter turned 15.  Her birthday is the day before mine so I always tell her that she was my birthday gift the year we got her and continues to be every year of my life! 
She is one of the most generous people I've ever met and so very easy to please.  I truly believe that if
I told her we couldn't get her a thing she would say that was fine.  I also believe if she thought someone needed something she was just given more than herself she would give it to them cheerfully!
  This year she decided she'd like to have some friends over, that she wanted a Peanut Butter Pie and a Butter Brickle Pie in lieu of the usual birthday cake and she wanted a big Mexican dinner--enchiladas, corn, salad, Spanish rice, Mexican corn bread and the desserts.  Then she wanted us to get guest passes for Tansi so they could go miniature golf, play volleyball. tennis, tetherball or ping pong.   Sounded good to us, the day was supposed to be a sunny day.
  Well, just as we got the dishes done the sky began to turn gray!  Then the rain began to sprinkle down.  Then we began to get heavy rain with hail.  I was at the sink thinking, "Well, I guess they'll have to do board games or the Wii."
  I stepped on the porch after finishing the kitchen to see what was going on!  (I could hear laughing.)
Well, the rain was pouring off the gutters it was raining so hard and a water fight had started. 
   I stepped outside and we all were laughing and talking and watching the rain.  I heard Sarah whisper something to Cierra and Cierra laughed and said, "I don't think so!" 
  I said, "What?"  Cierra told me that Sarah wondered if I she could get me wet!
  "Not and live!"  was my reply.
  Well, the water fight got so wild I decided the house was safer, so Sarah and I decided to go in the house and play some Wii.  Just as I was learning how to do it I got a phone call. (I am Wii dysfunctional.)  So I was trying to learn from Sarah and talk on the phone when there was a loud crack, the house went black and the phone went dead!

  I ended up putting the cordless up and going to my room to talk on the phone in there.  Next thing I can hear is Cierra screaming.  She was going down the hall and Sarah had jumped out of her room and scared her.  Well, that started hide and go seek in the dark house.  Cierra, Naomi, Sarah and John! 
I had to shut the door they were all laughing so hard.  I decided that I would only open the door if I heard a crash or breaking glass.  I only had to open the door twice! :)

   Now these are kids who are dripping wet and there is no electricity!  They all had their dry clothes for Sunday night but no way to dry there hair!  They had such a good time that as we were heading out to church (with very we heads) I realized Cierra hadn't even opened her gifts yet!
   "I don't care," she said, "I've been having too much fun to open gifts!"

   So the gifts, more pie and other goodies all had to wait till we got home from church but that was fun because we had another party!  And, this week the Snodderly girls are coming back so they can use those Tansi passes!  Sounds fun to me! 

  I am reminded of a scene in Anne of Green Gables when Matthew and Marilla are seeing Anne off to teach at Queens.  Matthew states that it was their luck when they were accidentally given a boy and Marilla answers, "It wasn't luck, Matthew--it was Providence.  He knew we needed her!" 
  That's how I feel about our Cierra Nichole.  She needed us, but we needed her more.  With her cheerful spirit, her generous heart, her willingness to help, and her wonderful creative nature she is such a blessing to this home. 
  I love you Cierra!  I'm so thankful you're ours!


Now how many kids do you know who would ask for a jar of olives and a bag of Skittle as part of their birthday gift? :) (picture at left)