Friday, November 30, 2007

Criticizer or Encourager?

Tomorrow is the big First Annual Home School Fair at our church. We've been looking forward to this for the past couple of months. Of course, my kids are just like me - huge procrastinators. So, all the final projects are getting done today.

I'm a control freak. Have I mentioned that before? Well, when I signed my kids up for the various categories, I had to tell myself and them that all that mattered was they do their best. I knew I'd have to give them the freedom to do their projects the way they wanted to. The whole idea is that the students show their skill - not the parents.

Truth be told, my kids most likely will not win any awards in most of the competitions. However, they have impressed me with their effort. All I've asked is that they do their best and they have.

I've also been pretty happy with my own effort to keep my "suggestions" (aka - criticisms) to myself. If they brought me something that I knew wasn't their best, I told them that and made them re-do it. But, otherwise, I've kept my mouth shut.

Tomorrow, three of them are in the spelling, Bible, and geography quizzes. I'll be rooting for them. Now, don't tell anyone as I know it's unChristian of me, but I honestly do hope they will win something - especially in Bible and geography as they've been working hard and they have a chance. However, I am really rooting for them to do their best.

I'm rooting for me to be an encourager and not a criticizer.

I really think that if my kids were in sports, I'd be more like that stereotypical pushy father than the quiet encouraging mother.` I often worry that my criticisms will discourage my kids and they'll look back on their growing-up years thinking they were never able to please me. This thought keeps me in check.

Praise the Lord, the older I get and the older my kids get, I think a little bit more before I speak. My kids need to be encouraged to do their best, but I need to be careful in how I do that. Some things I try to think of (once in a while, when I'm in my right mind) before I criticize:

1 - are they capable of doing what I ask?

2 - do I demand the same perfection of myself?

3 - what is my tone of voice in my suggesting? Critical or encouraging?

4 - does it matter if it's not done the way I want it? Am I discerning enough to know when it does matter and when it doesn't?

5 - what is my motivation for them to do well - for their growth and maturity or for my own pride?

So, pray for my children tomorrow - that they'll do their best and that they're mother will be their biggest and most encouraging fan!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hello, Again!

I have set a record - the longest time between blog posts! I have a TON of excuses, but, alas, no one is too interested in hearing those! Trust me, as a mom, I understand!

Truthfully, I have toyed with the idea of quitting my blog all together. I'm of the opinion that if you're going to do something, you had better be faithful! But, I also realize I'm an extremist. All or nothing, that's my motto!

I enjoy blogging for several reasons, but two reason stand out. First, I love to write and this is a wonderful outlet for me to do so. Second, in some way I'm not sure I understand, this blog is a blessing to several people for various reasons. In my little world, it can be easy to lose opportunities to bless others. I enjoy being able to be used of God whether through His Word, humor, or encouragement.

However, I have a family who NEEDS me and they are my priority. We have FINALLY found a schedule that is helping Michael, but it requires me to sit with him during the afternoon. I usually found time to write posts in the afternoon or late at night. However, I have had a taste of a few decent nights' sleep as of late and, guess what! I LOVE HAVING A DECENT NIGHT'S SLEEP! I plan on making it a habit!

So, here's my conclusion. My family is my foremost ministry. However, reaching out to others in order to be a blessing is also a worthwhile ministry. Therefore, I don't think it's wise to quit blogging all together at this time.

From now on, at least during the school year, I'll be posting twice a week. I don't have set days, they'll have to be days when I can fit it in, but I will make a point to fit it in. Ministry isn't always "convenient" but it must not stand in the way of my family - my God-given ministry.

So, for all of you who like keeping up with the antics and odd thoughts of this writer, thank you. I am encouraged by many of you and pray that I will be able to continue to bless your day in some small way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Annual Family Christmas Picture

OK, where's the camera? How do I get it to "sepia?"

Michael, stand here. Seth, here. Smile. No, Mike, stand straight. Great, I just turned off the camera and have to reset it to "sepia." Smile.

Hmm. Blurry. Try again. Good!

Stand there so I can take about 25 more shots. Um, why did you just roll your eyes?

OK, girls, your turn. By the way, thanks for standing patiently for the past hour while I curled your hair. GLORIA!!!! DON'T LAY DOWN! Well, ok, you're two - people will think you're adorable with your hair standing straight up like that.

Calm.

Girls, stand in front of the window. Oh brother. We get clouds 360 days a year and TODAY it decides to be sunny. Can't see a thing other than those blinding rays through the window!

Breakfast? Church? Don't you know we have pictures to take? Oh, that's right. It's Sunday. Time to worship the Lord in spirit...

Back home - let's try this again. Katrina, WHY are you crying? Just smile so I can take a picture of this oh-so-happy family! Gloria, stop making funny faces. Cassia and Anna, just STAND there and smile until Gloria cooperates. WILL EVERYONE PLEASE SMILE????!!!!!!

Anna, why are you crying? GET HAPPY!

I give up. We'll try individual shots tomorrow. Maybe. Better yet, we'll copy one of those lovely family pictures that come with the frames at Wal-Mart. No one will know, will they?

Can't you just feel the holiday spirit?

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Day in History

November 16, 2003 - Our 5th child, Seth, is born!

Our second boy!!! Michael finally has a brother after 6 years and 3 sisters! When we found out during our ultra-sound that we were having a boy, Michael said, "God gave me a brother!!!"

Seth is a bundle of energy - always has been. He smiles so much and is so loveable. He'll come up to me or call from the other room, "I love you, mommy!" He'll say the same to his brothers and sisters. Sometimes, he'll look at me and say, "Are you happy?" If I say that I am, he'll often say, "Then smile!" If I'm sad or frustrated and let him know I'm not happy, he'll give a sympathetic "Oh" and give me a hug or say "Look at my smile." When I see that grin, a smile involuntarily appears on my own face!

An attitude adjustment from my four year old!

I've been grateful for each child God has given to us, but I prayed for Seth. He and his sister before him are 20 months apart, which was a big age gap for us as the girls are 14 and 18 months apart. I was actually at the point of yearning for another baby. More than that, though, I yearned for another boy - a brother for Michael.

There are six years between Michael and Seth. Much more and there would be little relationship between the two. But, as it is, the two of them love each other and I see that brother-bond becoming stronger as time goes on. Just the other day, they were outside conquering the world together!

I not only prayed for Seth, but I literally prayed over him the moment he was born. Seth did not breathe for the first whole minute of his life. Let me tell you, when you're looking at your blue baby not breathing and with an oxygen mask over his face, you will pray like you never have before! God, again, answered my prayer.

God has a plan for Seth. Yes, he has a plan for every human, but I, like Hannah, gave Seth to the Lord for His service before I was even pregnant with him. What the plan is, I don't know. But, he is the Lord's. I pray that I am faithful to raise each of my sons to be worthy of serving the King of kings.

Seth is a joy to our hearts. His smile is endearing. His laughter is contagious. His love is freely given.

Happy birthday to a little boy from whom I can learn much!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Hero

I know Veterans Day was yesterday and I thought it was too late to write the post I've been thinking about. But, after reading Lunch-Time Thoughts today, I knew I had to write this.

In Andy's post, you will find out why the world sees Gary Beikirch as a hero. As one of just a handful of Medal of Honor recipients, he has earned the title. However, to me, he is a hero for another, seemingly less glorious, reason.

I remember the first time I saw Gary Beikirch. I was in the first grade and visiting the zoo with my family. While being entertained by the monkeys (who doesn't love the monkey exhibit?), I looked over and recognized one of my new classmates. She was enjoying the zoo with her parents that day. Average parents taking their kid to the zoo.

I remember being at their house for a sleep over. I'll never forgive Mrs. Beikirch for introducing me to the "midnight witching hour" concept. To this day, I get nervous at midnight! Mrs. Beikirch was fun and crazy. Mr. Beikirch was so calm and nice!

The Beikirch's were a nice family. A normal family. The fact that I was visiting the home of a hero recognized by the President himself was never mentioned. It was years before I knew what a great man my friend's father was.

By the time I found out that Gary Beikirch was a military hero, he was already a hero in my mind. Gary was there for me at a critical time in my life.

My parents separated when I was eleven years old and in the sixth grade. Back in the mid-80's in a Christian school, I didn't know a lot of people going through what our family was going through. I was ashamed, scared, and didn't quite know how to deal with it all.

Gary knew about our situation...and he cared. One day, when I just broke down into tears in class, Gary showed up "out of nowhere." He sat down and talked with me. I don't even remember what he said - I just remember the kindness and compassion in his eyes. When I was too afraid to tell my classmates my family was falling apart, Gary offered to do it for me. Gary prepared and paved the way for me to enter my new role as "kid from broken home" without teasing or questions from my peers.

And, for the next few years, he was there whenever I, my mom or my brothers needed to talk to someone who would listen. Someone who would care.

The interesting thing is, whenever I've heard Gary Beikirch's military story told, I've also heard many people speak up and say what he meant to them in their personal lives. How he cared for them. How he's listened. How he's helped.

Oh, yes, I'm thankful to Gary for his service to our country. He is a true hero.

But, he's my hero because...he cared.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Day in History

November 11, 2006 - My father passes away.

I contemplated waiting on this post until November 13th as that is the date that I found out about my father's death. But, this is the actual anniversary of the day my dad died.

My father was diagnosed in April of 2006 with cirrhosis of the liver. He was told he would have ten years if he gave up all alcohol. My dad was not about to do that and his health deteriorated quickly. My brothers and I encouraged him to move back from the south to live here, but, true to his nature, he wouldn't do it. He didn't want to be an inconvenience and he enjoyed where he was.

Dad lived alone. Therefore, no one knew just how sick he was. In the wee hours of the morning on the eleventh, my father called a friend and told her he was having difficulty breathing. This friend, who lived hundred of miles away, tried to convince him to take himself to the hospital. But my dad wasn't ever crazy about doctors, so he didn't go. She even called the paramedics in his hometown to go check on him, but he wouldn't let them come in the house.

Later on that day, my dad's friend called him. He was a little upset with her for calling the paramedics, but he forgave her. He told her he still wasn't feeling well and was real tired, so he'd call her back later.

He never called her back.

Finally, the next evening, my dad's friend started making phone calls which resulted in the police going to his home around 10:00 Sunday night. They arrived only to discover that my father had passed away around 11:00 Saturday night.

My father passed away on 11/11 at 11:00. Leave it to him.

Apparently, my cousin tried to get a hold of me late on Sunday night. But, as we did not have a telephone upstairs at the time, I never heard the phone ring. When I came down stairs on Monday morning, I saw the light on the phone blinking, indicating that someone had called. As soon as the caller i.d. showed my cousin's name and the time she called, I knew the news was not going to be good. She had left a message for me to call as soon as I got the message.

Sitting on the steps leading to our attic, I listened as she told me, "I'm sorry, but your daddy passed away."

Knowing that she was going to tell me this was one thing. Hearing her say the words, I honestly felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I asked her some details and we hung up.

In shock, at first, I didn't cry...until I had dialed Eric's cell phone and he answered. Then I lost it.

My dad was gone. He didn't even know about the new grandchild I was carrying. I hadn't spoken to him on the phone for a couple of months. He was supposed to visit later in the week.

Now, he was gone.

The worst part was knowing he died alone. A lot of decisions and situations led up to that being the case, but it was hard knowing that no one was there.

I wasn't there.

In April, my brothers and I, along with my two aunts and a couple of cousins all met in Daytona Beach, Florida to hold a time of memorial for my father and scatter his ashes. My dad spent quite a bit of time in Daytona Beach and always dreamed of moving there.

As I spent some time alone walking along the beach, seeing the hotel he spent his time at, looking at the water - I could see why he loved it so much. It was a fun place to be. My dad loved having fun.

It was also peaceful. My father loved peace, though I fear he enjoyed little of it at times in his life.

As I sat on the beach, I couldn't help but wonder what he thought about while he sat alone on that very beach. Did he wish things had been different? Was he happy? Was he lonely? Did he think of God?

The last day I was there with the family, I could almost feel my father's presence. I stood with the water coming in and covering my feet and could almost feel my dad come up and put his arm around me like he had so many times before. He would've said, "I'm so glad you're all here. I love you, my little girl!"

I love you, too, dad. I miss you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Welcome to...My Life

This week, my almost four year old son discovered the pleasures of shooting rubber bands. In the house.

We have one rule: don't shoot at people.

Seth is now rarely seen without his trusty ole rubber bands. He has spent hours shooting them in the living room, kitchen...any room you can think of. Frequently, one will get lost and he will then have to replace it.

Shoot. Lose. Replace. Shoot. Lose. Replace.

A few of his siblings have observed the sheer joy this activity brings to their brother and have decided to follow the same path.

Shoot. Lose. Replace.

Late last night, while the little snipers were sound asleep, I needed a rubber band. I discovered the bag that once held 85 rubber bands...empty.

Shoot. Lose. Replace.

Eighty-five rubber bands.

Think about it.

Welcome to my life!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reasons Why My Kids Have the Best Daddy in the World!


*Note - it should be known that all of these things listed are done with a smile!

1. He has taken 4 trips to the hospital ER with two of our girls in the past 8 months.

2. Even as I write this, it is 10:00 and he's bringing home one of our daughters from the hospital, but taking her out for a hamburger first.

3. He allows the girls to brush what hair he has left and put hair-bows in it. He doesn't allow me to take a picture, though.

4. He takes the kids out in the spray truck once in a while to experience the bumpy fun ride in the fields.

5. He'll take 2 kids in diapers to the tractor store - just to give them some variety in life and mommy a break!

6. He has endless patience in helping the children with their schoolwork.

7. He'll come in the house during the day just to see how things are going.

8. He'll take the 3 year old boy, who woke up too early, out to the barn to hang out with daddy and grandpa and have cookies and milk for breakfast.

9. He demonstrates our Heavenly Father's love in such a tangible way.

10. He loves their mommy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Because I'M the Mom!

Remember when your mother said, "because I said so"? There's something to that.

For a long time, I've wanted to understand my children. I wanted them to like me.

That is not my responsibility as a mom. My responsibility is to train them up "in the way that they should go." Their responsibility is to obey.

Modern day thought has crept into the hearts of Christian parents everywhere. It crept into my heart. The Bible is pretty cut and dry on parenting. Parents love and discipline. Children obey. Yes, we are to win their hearts, but, trust my experience, that's not by giving in to their desires, trying to make everything fair, and trying to explain ourselves to someone just over 3 feet tall!

Why is it that we moms (dads don't seem to have this problem as much) think we're being unfair if we don't warn our children 3 times that they're "going to get in trouble if...?" Do my kids know they're not supposed to goof off during school? Absolutely. Then, why do I waste my breath warning - nagging - them all morning? The first time they're out of their seat doing anything other than school, they are disobeying.

Disobedience requires chastisement. Easy as that.

It's amazing how little nagging one has to do once you've used some discipline on that springy seat! It may not cure it all, but it reduces the breath wasted.

Why is it that we moms think our kids are smarter than we are? If I tell Jr. to get a coat on and he comes back with a weather update that make swimsuits sound more appropriate, I rethink my position and hand him the beach ball on his way out the door.

Would someone please slap me?

My three year old has a habit of coming to the table and stating that he doesn't like what is being served. I formed that habit. How? By sternly saying "It doesn't matter. You're eating it, anyway." This is followed by a loud, sad sigh which we ignore.

It sounds good enough. I don't give in and make him a separate meal of chips and ice cream. He eats what's put in front of him. Where I have failed is in the area of gratefulness and attitude training.

Last night, I think we handled it a bit more wisely. Seth came to the table and said "I don't like this." Mind you, he hadn't even sat down and it was a brand new recipe. So, he was taken to the toy room (NOT to play), then sent to bed - without dinner.

Do I hear the sounds of mothers everywhere gasping and tsking the fact that we allowed our son to starve? Well, let's just say that when he saw the crock-pots going today he said, "That's supper. I like that!"

Thank you very much!

I don't need to explain myself to my 10 year old. If I tell him to do something, it's to be "yes ma'am!" If he complains, I add more chores to the list. I don't have to explain why I'm asking him to do the job. And guess what! He doesn't want an explanation, either! How many times have we tried to defend ourselves (needlessly) to our kids only to see them tune us out! They give us bad attitudes to try to get away with something - not so they can hear mom explain the righteousness of it all!

I will miss those lovely times when I'd say, "So-and-so, pick up the toys" and so-and-so would come back with "I didn't get them out" and I'd actually go along and say, "oh, sorry, who did?" Oh yes, the good ole days.

Stop the music.

Now, it's "pick up the toys and I don't want a history on who did what!" Ok, well, not that bad. But, what they're saying when they tell me who really got out the toys is "I'm too good to pick up someone else's stuff!" Moms pick up stuff all the time that they "didn't get out!" What a shock that will be to my girls one day if they don't learn now to humble themselves and pitch in. What a way to teach my sons to love others when they pick up their sisters toys once in a while.

So, I've reclaimed my authority. In love, of course. And you know what? We're all a bit happier.

Why?

Because I said so, that's why!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

LOST!

Thirty-something mother of seven

Hair: Medium length, though losing much due to post-partum hair loss

Dress: Was last seen wearing some sort of dress smattered with baby spit-up and peanut butter

Eyes: first set, blue; second set, located in back of head, also blue

Last seen: About a week ago, going into the family laundry room. It is feared she drowned in the pile(s) of clothes which seems to be continuously rising at an alarming rate.

Hopes are low that she'll be found as that would require getting to the bottom of previously mentioned piles.

No picture posted as the most recent was taken before the baby was born and we don't have the technology needed to add the 20 lbs. missing person has gained since then.

If found, please take her to nearest tropical island and nourish with fun non-alcoholic drinks, chocolate, and quiet.