Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Celestial Birth Announcement

A Celestial Birth Announcement

“Exalt the Lamb,”
Speaks the Father
To a sun, to a star, to
His Star,
And joyful light bursts, expands, explodes,
Announces, declares and glorifies
From within—
To without,
Floods tiny Bethlehem,
Ancient promise of the coming Redeemer
Fulfilled in supernova,
Fresh and unusual stranger
To the night sky,
Created to announce
The birth of one tiny Baby,

                             ~Paige Tighe
                               Christmas, 2012

A joyous Christmas to all--and may the God of Peace bring you contentment and abiding knowledge of His awesome Presence this year and forevermore.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Charming Puzzle

One of my dearest loves has just been crowned Miss Hampshire High 2013.  I am proud of her drive and am utterly struck by her beauty and charm.  In fact, I have always felt this way.  When she was only 13-months-old, her dad and I were caught in a smooth and sun-drenched moment, a moment in which all things vanished from our world except this tiny, teeny, brown-eyed girl.  We stood, dumbstruck, entranced.  I don't remember the circumstances, and I do not think they're important.  I remember the moment; and I remember my words to her dad:  "Could she possibly know how charming she is?"  In some toddler way, I am sure she did.

I flash forward and ask myself the same question--could she possibly know?  When I was seventeen, I was funny and smart and adorable and very able to engage and manipulate the people in my world.  (I am not necessarily proud of this.)  But I was not charming.  At least, not this charming.  I have puzzled over my daughter's presence, over her character and the dazzle in her eye.  Over her confidence and her innate sense of social parameters.  Since I have never (EVER!) had a clear understanding of social parameters, and my husband's seem way too restricting to me, how did our child come to this place?  I guess she observed both of us and unwittingly embraced, combined, sorted, and tossed, and became herself.

In considering the outcome, and the other people we have raised, I can also say with confidence that you get out what you put in--a huge component.  Our children have never been our idols, but we do enjoy and include them.  We spend time with them and try to support them in reasonable endeavors.  We are not their pals, but we are also not the police.  We try and try and try and try.  We totally mess up in much of the trying, but have succeeded, I feel, pouring into each one the certainty of our love.

Perhaps that's where the confidence behind our daughter's charm comes in.  She knows that we love her and that her mother would stomp anyone who would treat her unjustly.  In closing, may we all learn to walk that oft' hazy line between building confidence in our dearest loves, and turning them into monsters.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Whirlwind of Hooligans (Part II)

When a three-year-old cups my face in his sticky little hands and whispers, most confidentially, "I am riding to church in your car because you...are...my...Nanny," I lose all sense of anything but his dreamy eyes.  When a two-year-old wakes in the night with boogies streaming out of his nose and cheeks as red as apples and wants only to lie across his Nonna (translation:  Nanny), I don't care what miserable toddler disease I catch; I only want to comfort him.  When I've been out of the house from moon-to-moon, and crawl in from another long day of teaching and chauffeuring, and a wee baby tears his toothless mouth wide because he's delighted to see me, I am energized.

It is pure foolishness to place two families under the same roof and expect an atmosphere of enduring peace.  Especially two passionate, hard-headed families with children spanning from tots to teens, a couple big dogs, a bunch of temperamental cats (some indoor/some indoor-outdoor) and one hermit crab.  We have very little peace under our roof, but much joy.  And our joy arrives in snippets, not streams. In bottles, not barrels.  But here's what we do have:  LOVE.  We have discovered that we love enough to forgive minor transgressions.  We love enough to stay relational in the face of anger and self-centeredness.  We love enough to keep our tongues when it would feel much more satisfying to loose them.

A Chinese friend told me many years ago that the Chinese symbol for "too much trouble" (pronounced:  mah-fwong)  is the image of two women under the same roof.  Time and experience have proven this again and again in my life--not, however, in this time or in this experience.  I am discovering that I can anticipate my adult daughter's responses because she is so much like me.  We parent similarly.  And we come up with the same kookie stuff for dinners.  She is a resourceful homemaker and understands how the house needs to look and feel when I drag myself in the door in the evenings.  She rarely snaps back when I am grouchy.  She knows what brings me snippets and bottles of peace.  I appreciate this child so much, and learn from her compassion toward me and her many kindnesses toward the whole mob of us.  Hats off to you, Cheryl--yours is not an easy path, but your grace and diligence make us all want to do better!  Big love to you!      

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Whirlwind of Hooligans (Part I)

Our children were lengthening their bones and leaving us at an alarming rate.  They were pursuing relationships and bachelor's degrees, they were buying cars and marrying.  They were raising families.  Our number had shrunk from eight to five.  I found myself crying over our lack of sippy cups in the cabinet and Matchbox cars wedged under the couch. Our vacuum cleaner never smoked from sucking up Polly Pockets and no Barbie hair clogged the bathroom drain.  Our youngest child was almost twelve, and no longer needed his hot dogs sliced down the middle, and our oldest spent most evenings sequestered in her room.   

Our house had become quiet, and to a mother used to hustle and flurry, the quiet was nearly unendurable.  How many times did I search the heavens for free-falling babies?  How much did I fuss and coo over babies in stores?  How many knowing smiles did I bestow on frazzled strangers at Walmart, frazzled female strangers with toddlers spilling from their grocery carts?  The answer:  too many and too much to be considered sane or, at the very least, polite.

Guilty.  Me.

When the phone rang one early August evening and the flat, angry tone in our daughter's voice came through the wires from far, far away, I reached back through them with comfort.  "Come to us," I told her.  "Pack up your three babies and your husband and make your home here until you figure things out."  I was dizzy with excitement; our home would be full of babies again.  We would grow to ten; and we would make it work.  Concerns, stifled, went unspoken. 

Convincing the current oldest child was a different story--she had only just last year made her way into the Circle of Trust and Favor.  As Number Four, she had arrived at oldest and was loathe to relinquish the title.  Plus, as we considered the logistics, we did not anticipate the living situation with great hope.  While we longed to squeeze our long lost and dearest loves, reality and experience dictate that the honeymoon wears off in time and that grown children really shouldn't move back home.  But there was a need, and it was our job to meet it.

We have been pleasantly surprised.

Friday, July 20, 2012


“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”
― Ellen Bass

Interestingly, this quote showed up on a friend's Facebook page yesterday.  And, here today, we grieve.  I sit in the wake of this ugliness in Aurora, CO, and the poem quoted, which seemed so knowing and haunting just a day ago in a removed sort of way, hangs heavier than it did yesterday, so much heavier.  I ache for those whose bodies have to withstand this unbearable, this weighted and raw agony.  I pray from some deep place for every family, even for James Holmes and his sad family.  I long, in that way we all do, for the impossible--the ability to turn back time and refuse to allow the event.

As a mother, this sadness is like a kick in the stomach.  I watched an interview this morning with a young man who had taken his little sister and his girlfriend to see the new Batman movie last night.  It's not that his story was chilling that made me hurt so much for him, rather, that he is not the same person he was when he walked into the theater.  And he never will be.

I ask everyone reading this to stop just now, and pray.  Pray for an unmistakable holiness in and around each person.  Pray that each broken heart would mend, and that each person will one day be able to take life between the palms and "say, yes, I will take you/I will love you, again."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Never A Dull Moment

To say that we run around like chickens with our heads cut off would be a gross understatement.  To say we fall into bed each night exhausted from a busy day at work and play would be one, as well.  It's more like we have been forced into an obligatory life-imposed Attention Deficit.  What happened to the lazy hazy days of summer we spent the colder months dreaming of?  I don't think they exist for any of us.  When I was a child, one glorious summer day blended with the next, and the next, and the next.  We got up early, ate breakfast, arrived at the beach before the lifeguards, left the beach long after the lifeguards, ate supper, played at the playground and went to bed.  Sprinkled in the middle were odd chores like walking Stormy (the favored pooch), playing with Matt (the favored baby brother) and gathering kindling for regular campfires.  For a child, life really doesn't get much better.

Sadly, my children have never experienced summer life in that way.  They pack for camp, go to camp, get picked up from camp, pack for camp, go to camp, get picked up from camp, and so on.  For most of the summer.  They have very, very few days to lie around and do nothing.  I feel bad for them.  For instance, our 17-year-old daughter went to Girls State (week-long mock government activities--so awesome!--sponsored by the American Legion) two days after we returned from our crazy little vacation in Williamsburg, VA, with another family (see previous blog).  After Girls State, we both spent a super intense week preparing for the Miss West Virginia's Outstanding Teen pageant to be held in Morgantown, WV.  She hit the pike for the pageant and I finished up the particulars.  A friend and four of her five children stayed with us and then we all headed for Morgantown.  Once home from the pageant, where our dear daughter made the top eight, she took a nap, re-packed and headed out to Bible camp in Pennsylvania for a week.  Hubby picked her up Friday evening and Saturday morning she and her younger sister went to a Pirates' game and concert with friends.  Yesterday, the girls unpacked from the game and concert, re-packed and joined two of their brothers and lots of others for a local week-long mission trip in Capon Bridge WV (sponsored by our church).  She is planning to attend another youth activity in Cumberland, MD, over the weekend.

While our daughter is running with her choke out, her parents and siblings are neither twiddling their thumbs nor lazing around.  Rather, we are working here at home and out in the cut-throat world of business, packing and unpacking for other camps, preparing for and performing at various storytelling events, harvesting vegetables, killing fleas (on the pets and in the house), teaching Boy Scout Merit Badges (okay, just one so far, but it's time-consuming), having babies (congrats on John Patrick's healthy birth, Cheryl and Bill!), holding an Eagle Scout ceremony, completing long-neglected writing projects, and trying to find a dependable cheap/free car.  There are lots of other things on all of our plates but there is really no need to continue.  Everybody's busy--cold, but true.

So, what do we do to reclaim the summer?  Well, as far as I can see, we finish up the last camp experience (Boy Scout Camp) and guard August jealously.  Unfortunately, our college student returns for R.A. training on August 8 and our daughter's Trojanette activities begin around the same time.  Grrr--to what do we say, "NO?!"  I wonder if you can imagine how happy I was when the power went out last week and did not return completely for five days.  The phone and Internet lines were damaged and stayed that way for eight days, and I wasn't one bit sorry.

A complete collapse of technology in our world?  Bring it on, at least until we get tired of having nothing to do.        

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sweet William-sburg!

When my dear Wendy was offered a suite at a resort in Williamsburg, VA, at a crazily low price, she decided to command me to join her...and five of her kids...with three of mine.  The dates fit perfectly within our very tight early summer schedule.  The price was certainly right.  The boss said I could go.  Win-win.  All the way around.  We were all really excited.

Our departure date crept up and bit us in the butt.  But, always champs in a crunch, we got ourselves together and made it out the door in time to catch the bus (i.e., Wendy's Suburban).  We made it to Williamsburg with only one pit stop at Walmart for a potty break, and already knew what we were making for supper.  We checked in without a hitch, chose our bedrooms without a fight, cooked and ate without so much as a spill.  Yessss.  We planned our meals, found both a Walmart and a Martin's close-by, shopped, and (finally!) hit the sack. 

Our week progressed in very much the same pleasant and orderly way.  But, after parenting eight children together for six days, we discovered that our households are quite different, as are our parenting styles.  While our children have all been raised to love and serve God, and while we take part in some of the same family-related church and social activities, and while we are roughly the same age, we are so different in the ways we approach certain behaviors in our kids.  I won't go into detail since Vegas rules apply in this situation, yet, suffice it to say, it was a week full of eye-opening wonders within our friendship.  Even though our youngest children are far from being babies, and our oldest children have flown the coop, I feel that Wendy and I have both taught and learned a few things in our sweet little suite in Williamsburg.  I believe it is a credit to our relationship both before God and before each other that we didn't take offense at  being shown other ways of doing things.  I don't believe we are ready to jump into another vacation right this second, but none of us came home vowing "never to go on vacation with those people  again." 

Our last night together, Wendy and I laughed until nearly 3:30 in the morning--I was really surprised one of us didn't have an attack of some kind.  That's how hard we laughed. 

All things considered, our vacation together was a wonderful time with wonderful friends.  We swam, rented a movie, got ferocious sunburns, went to the beach, made craft dough, saw a magic show, and bothered the front desk people relentlessly.  Most importantly, we put our busy lives on hold and simply went with the flow.  We do sometimes need to stop and smell the roses as we toddle through life, or, in this case, the magnolia blossoms.  Hats off to you, Princess Wendolyn!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Far Is Too Far? How Much Is Too Much?

Boogers and poop.  That is what so many of our dinnertime conversations degenerate into.  It doesn't go straight from, "pass the potatoes," to "boogers and poop."  No!  It's usually a downward spiral starting about the time we have all shoveled at least three forks full of whatever's on the menu into the pie hole.  It begins innocently enough--someone (a kid) steps three whole feet away from the table and grins.  Whether we have heard anything or not, the best guess is always that there was some small attempt made at the mannerly relief of gas.  Me?  I personally think they should go outside and down the road a ways if we are all sitting around the dinner table, but that doesn't seem to be anyone else's conviction.  Sometimes, the offender mumbles the 2012 phrase for, "Excuse me."  My bad.  Next thing you know, it's fifteen minutes later, the kitchen is filled with raucous laughter, loud guffaws, people falling out of their chairs, and completely atrocious manners.

It is at this point that my dear hubby and I look at each other helplessly and say, with sad resolve, "Yes, dear, we have, indeed, become Dan and Roseanne .  But is it all bad?  Some of you would curl a lip in disgust, not even giving me the benefit of your correction. 

I had this conversation with a fella after we were pulled up about singing a TRADITIONAL camp song at a Cub Scout event.  My husband and I were both den leaders and the song, "The Bear Went Over the Mountain," is adorable.  It involves a little bear going over the mountain, seeing a bunch of Girl Scouts, eating up the Girl Scouts, taking Alka-Seltzer, and then barfing up the Girl Scouts.  The Girl Scouts tell his mommy and she "spanks his little bottom."  You know why it was inappropriate?  It was not honoring to women.  In this conversation with the dad who was appalled by our choice of songs, I said:  "C'mon, [insert name], you have sons.  Can you honestly tell me most of your dinnertime conversations don't degenerate into boogers and poop?"  Ummm--his lip, indeed, curled in disgust.

"No," he whispered in a deep and slow and scary way.  "That is not appropriate dinnertime conversation."

Here's me:  "My bad."  (That means excuse me in today's vernacular.)

Sometimes things get out of hand--like if we have stiff company (which is not often) or we are at a restaurant.  Our kids don't seem to make the distinction between HOME and OUT all the time.  Sometimes, we don't--I'll admit it.  One afternoon, we were at an Old Country Buffet with another family (also given to fun dinners), and there was a small incident.  Several of the kids took some of the littler ones to the bathroom.  They were gone kinda long but we didn't notice--we were enjoying adult conversation for once.  Then a manager approached us.  His face was purple.  He looked frantic, angry:  "Where are the responsible adults?" he demanded.

We all four stopped in mid-conversation and looked at him blankly for a little longer than is polite.  Then, as if on cue, we all looked to one another and shrugged.  He said something about kids and the bathroom and stomped away.  We fell out of out chairs laughing.  Then, of course, the moms high-tailed it to the bathroom to correct our mannerless children.  (Our bad.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stop! In The Name of Love--Stop!

A few years ago, I found myself super busy and super overwhelmed.  I have a condition, you see, called AGH.  When my AGH kicks in, I know it will be a matter of only a few short months before I begin to feel poorly.  I start snapping at my family for no reason.  I don't sleep well.  I eat junk like it's going out of style.  I don't check the oil in the old Jeepforget to go grocery shopping, avoid my mother, let the kids eat way too many Ramen noodles, don't sift the cat box.  Lovely. 

My AGH is manageable, if I can manage to manage it, and could conceivably become a condition in lifetime remission.  But my tendency is to deny its presence in my life, to not treat it with lifestyle changes.  Like so many, I walked around for most of my life not realizing I had AGH.  I didn't know the symptoms.  All I knew was that I felt busier than most (or else I was a loser because I couldn't manage all my responsibilities).  And from the symptoms' onset until I flipped my plate completely over and walked away from every unnecessary item on my TO DO LIST, I felt progressively worse--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  The condition is cyclic.  I volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.  And then I lose my mind.  And then I flip my plate, thus, deleting every single item on my lengthy TO DO LIST.  After I clear my schedule, I feel liberated and wonderful.  These are typical signs of AGH, or Anti-Gravity Hand.

I raise my hand to volunteer for things on a regular basis.  A couple years ago, when my son's Cub Scout den needed a den leader, my hand shot up.  When our daughter and her husband needed a place to stay--oooo, stay here!  When the church was short a Wednesday night teacher--I volunteered!  When there weren't enough adults staying the whole week of camp--I packed my bags!  And so on, until my daily TO DO LIST resembled War and Peace.  At that point, I hit crisis mode and quit everything.  I forsook commitments and disappointed people who counted on me. 

Anti-Gravity Hand (AGH) is a very serious condition that, if left untreated, could cause damage in all areas of life.   Because, when the kids ask me to play a board game, or my sister wants me to pop over for lunch, I have too much to do.  I regularly forsake matters of the heart for things that don't matter, and that's terrible for a mother.  So, for today, I pledge to under-commit to stuff that other people could do, and commit, instead, to the stuff only I can do.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Career In Modeling

Parenthood--that's why I titled this entry the way I did--is a career in modeling.  From the time they pop out of the womb, our children's eyes watch us.  They embrace our behaviors, our beliefs, our tastes, our prejudices.  They imitate our words and our actions, tweak them a little, and make them their own.  I will remember forever the day our oldest daughter spotted something on the floor across the room and asked, casually:  "What the hell is that?"  She was three.  Of course, our jaws hit the floor.  We were incredulous.  Where, in the world, did she learn to talk like that?  And, just as the words were on my lips to speak correction, my mind's ear recalled those very same words with those very same inflections--coming straight out of her father's mouth.  (Not mine!  Perish the thought!)

Most parents have similar stories.  This is the reason we cringed every single time Pastor Rudy asked questions after a children's message and shoved a microphone in our kids' faces.  We never knew what might roll off their tongues.  Still don't.  It was way back when the our little girl said the H-E-double hockey sticks thing that we realized we'd better watch our own potty mouth.  Remember the show a million years ago with Brandon Cruz and Bill Bixby--The Courtship of Eddie's Father?  Throughout the series, the little boy (Eddie) schemes to get his widower father to remarry.  They spend a lot of time together and Eddie imitates everything his father does.

One word:  Beware.  We have to be wise as we bring up our children.  Adults come with habits, beliefs, practices, prejudices.  Children don't.  Before we make ethnic jokes, bad-mouth the neighbors, ridicule the educated (or uneducated), espouse the evils of law enforcement, pronounce doom upon the future, lose our minds over a spider on the ceiling (It happens.), cuss a blue streak or trash our our spouses, we must ask ourselves what we want our kids to grow up believing about the world. 

The bottom line is:  We Have All Power.  That's a lot of responsibility.  How can we tell them it's wrong to steal when our stack of post-it notes were stolen from Daddy's work?  Too many thoughts conflict in their little minds and they have trouble sorting them out at first.  Eventually, they embrace and justify.  Wouldn't it be better for them to see us bring back the unpaid-for item that was forgotten in the cart at check-out?  Yes--far better than it is for them to hear us congratulate ourselves in our good fortune at getting a freebie.  It is so much more profitable for them to see us facing life on life's terms, taking responsibility for our mistakes, giving grace where it doesn't seem warranted, and continually working to better ourselves. 

Model good behavior.  Extended out, we are bettering generations, hundreds of future people, when we better ourselves.   

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Battles: Choose Them Wisely

We have six kids.  Our kids are between eleven and almost twenty-five (Yikes!).  They came in boy-girl pairs (two years in between) with the pairs occurring four years apart.  We are a blended family, but as I have mentioned before, it is often hard to remember who's blended and who's not. 

Like our children, we have gone through many stages in these last two-plus decades.  I feel really sad for the older ones so, if you two are reading this:  "I am so sorry we fought every battle.  We didn't realize how absolutely necessary it was to win the war."  I think they spent a lot of time thinking I was ridiculous, and if the truth be known, so did I.  I just had no sense of the big picture. 

Scripture was very helpful.  When I first read Proverbs 18:2, I knew it was written directly for me, several thousand years prior:  "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."  (NAS)  God had actually seen my very articulate self telling these poor kids the same thing again and again, every which way but sideways.  I honestly watched their beautiful blue eyes glaze over on dozens of occasions.  And yet--I did not stop.  I heard the words of the proverb repeating through my brain like a broken record (a-fool-delights-in-revealing-his-own-mind-a-fool-delights-in-revealing-his-own-mind-a-fool-delights-in-revealing-his-own-mind).  I knew exactly what I was doing as I was doing it.  And yet--I did not stop.  I guess I felt I was compensating for what my husband wasn't saying.

When attention turned to the next two children, I think I did a little better.  I didn't wax as philosophic, but instead, I embraced and gave voice to my inner twins, Nag and Threaten.  Even though I wasn't as clever and articulate of speech, the result was almost the same.  I nagged and their eyes glazed over (a-fool-delights-in-revealing-his-own-mind).  So, I threatened. My mouth, at least, wasn't running until my head turned blue.  Before long, though, I gave up.  I'd say things like, "A gnat--that's what I am.  An annoying little gnat flying around your head."  Then I'd huff away.  I think they spent a lot of time thinking I was ridiculous, and if the truth be known, so did I.  By God's infinite mercy, they have turned out well.

And now for the last two.  I don't explain a whole lot, don't nag until their eyes glaze over, but I admit it--I threaten.  I try not to threaten crazy, over-the-top restrictions like I did with the middle children.  I often lack follow-through.  The Bible admonishes me again:  "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." (Proverbs 13:24/NKJV)  Our kids are a little old to spank, but I feel we are beginning to parent like grandparents.  They have begun to count on our forgetfulness.  And it's past time to reign them in, because we do not hate them.  We love them, and therefore, must discipline them.

So, I guess my point is that there needs to be balance.  Consistent parenting which forces children to take responsibility for their actions is the best kind.  Reasonable parenting which doesn't make gigantic mountains out of little, tiny molehills is the best kind.  We are engaged in a war for our children's hearts and their futures, for their spouses and their children.  That is the actual war.  By comparison, the messy bedrooms and incomplete math assignments, the failure to do the dishes or take the trash out--those are merely battles.  They can't be ignored because they add up, but to put it in my dad's words, "everything is not a tragedy."  We need to choose our battles wisely, or we will lose the war.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's in a Word?

INTEGRITY.  I was substitute teaching in a high school English classroom last week when a student asked me the meaning of integrity.  The dictionary discusses adherence to moral and ethical principles.  That's nice. It also mentions honesty, virtue and the soundness of moral character.  I don't believe those definitions hit the mark.  They describe attributes of the person of integrity.  I believe the answer I gave when asked is better (How's that for arrogance?):  "Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody's looking."

Wouldn't it be nice if that was everybody's standard?  Sadly, it's not.  We have become such a sly people, such a sneaky lot.  I hate to be the one (of a zillion) harping on television, but I do feel tv is a culprit.  As far back as the eighties, television has seen young characters emerge who are smarter than their parents, get over on adults, and justify their actions because they are, after all, dealing with the less hip.  At first, the parents are clueless, then they figure out they've been duped.  At that point, many of us would put our kids in their place (i.e., take the iPod, ground them from the phone, make them write sentences, whatever).  The tv parents, instead, listen intently as their children explain to them just what's wrong with their archaic thinking.  The closing credits scroll past before a backdrop of sappy, smiling parents sitting on a couch cuddling and talking about how wise and wonderful their children are.  But the children who were influenced by those early sit-coms are not the same ones who are children today.  No!  They are the parents and grandparents who grew up thinking children need to be given equal voice in decision making. 

What has happened is that our children have become empowered.  They are raised to believe they are smarter than (or, at the very least, equal to) the parents and teachers in their lives.  The arrogance that reared its ugly head between 18 and 22, now shows up in elementary school for some children.  This behavior is wrong.  Parents are not supposed to abdicate authority.  It ruins the kids.  They never have to become wise because what they feel is always right.  THEREFORE, there is no need for integrity because there is no such thing as the right thing.  Everything is relative to their desires.  How do we instill integrity in a system that does not acknowledge moral absolutes?

Projected out, this gets ugly.  We need to wise up and start reigning our kids in.  All of us--me included.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Belly Woes

Last week, several of us dropped like flies--victims of the most recent (and relatively wide-spread) belly thing sweeping this part of the country.  It's nasty; it's violent.  It's fast and furious--and quite contagious.  Having already heard of this bug's reputation for brevity, I wasn't thrilled when my dear friend's eight-year-old turned inside out, but I didn't start filling all my kids' bedrooms with trashcans and ginger ale, either.  I have to admit, though, my heart sank when she called to tell me her little guy was sick--my kids were at her house at the time.  Three days later, my daughter threw up out of her nose and tear ducts (NO LIE!).  I was able to skate through a Boy Scout camping trip but didn't manage to make it the whole way home.  In retrospect, Route 9 between Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw might not have been my wisest travel option.

If you have been exposed to this nasty virus, take heart.  The typical 7-10 days of gross symptoms do not seem to be associated with this strain.  I'm not sure how long sufferers are contagious, but relief is only a few miserable hours away from onset.  I made sure we all had big bottles of stuff to replace our electrolytes (whatever they are), and lots of time to sleep for the next 24 hours.  After the initial explosions, the feeling is that of being pulled through a knot-hole, but the weariness lifts after a day or so.  I have read two books in the past few days and slowed down enough to enjoy my gang.  Those alone make the whole miserable experience worth it.

So, as with all ailments that cause dehydration, mommies need to be on the alert for symptoms that could lead to real trouble.  It's okay to be overly cautious if your baby or toddler is throwing up or having diarrhea.  It is far better to be safe than sorry.  In other words, who really cares if you annoy your pediatrician?  Call anyway.  He will ask you how often your child is urinating, so remember to keep track.  But little guys are not the only ones who can rapidly become dehydrated--older children, adults and, especially, the elderly are at risk.  Know the symptoms, monitor your sweethearts and hunker down.  This, too, shall pass.  (No pun intended.  Okay, well--maybe.)    

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Well, Now What?

The Christmas (etc.) holidays have passed and the new year is upon us.  We have all probably made and broken resolutions by now so, why bother in the first place?  School is in full swing in the public arena as well as around our kitchen table.  We have had a banner week.

So far, 2012 has already brought both tragedy and triumph to the doorsteps of many.  Most of us don't believe that the world will end at the Winter Solstice but, if we were all really honest, there is, hunkering down in the backs of our brains, that tiny week-old question:  what if?  Well, WHAT IF?  What does it really change?  Will we over-indulge our kids?  (Been there.)  Will we over-indulge ourselves?  (Done that.)  Will we spend beyond our means as if we don't have to pay the piper?  (Bought the tee-shirt.)

Or, will we instead, "See God's face, feel His Presence, trust His love?"  (Can you tell I just watched Seven Days in Utopia?)  I'm choosing these things for myself and my children in 2012.  I am choosing to be thankful for "food in a world where many walk in hunger and faith in a world where many walk in fear."  When I think about how these intentions might translate into our real-life experience, I consider the Apostle Paul who declares his contentment in times of both want and plenty.  I purpose in my heart not to be a great big complainer, but decide to do the good thing that is placed before me each day (no matter what it is) and pray that I will recognize it.  Whether the good thing is to listen to my son when he confesses his heart, or to offer mittens to someone with cold hands, or, even to offer genuine love to someone with a cold heart.  Maybe the good thing before me will be to sign a book contract.  My commitment is to do what I'm called to today, and again tomorrow, to walk this out in front of my family and strangers alike.

I believe this is how I will find purpose and passion in 2012--whether the world ends or not.  Who's in?  Join me!