Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And these are the days of a mom's life...

You ever just have "one of those days"? You know the kind I'm talking about.. drama filled, action packed, never a dull moment, "these are the days of our lives" kind of days? Well, that is exactly the sort of day we had yesterday! (And to be completely honest the kind of day we seem to have more often than not lately.)

It started out normal enough. Jaden and Isaac did a little bit of school work before being taken for their weekly speech lesson. Dacey was on the computer doing her schoolwork. And Connor was running through the house acting like, well, Connor! (He is our wild one.)

Hubby returned from Jaden and Isaac's speech class with a note from their teacher. It read: "Isaac appears to have a black object lodged in his ear. I recommend you take him to the ENT." An appointment was quickly made and off we went.

We arrived at the doctor's office with the knowledge that at this particular office you never run in and out. You go prepared to wait for hours before seeing the doctor for five minutes and then being quickly ushered out the door. It's ok because we love this doctor. Jaden had even asked recently if we could go visit him. I wonder if he's the culprit who implanted a foreign object in his brothers ear as a means to go see his favorite MD?? Hmmm...

We sat packed like sardines in the waiting room. Despite our every effort to keep our two year old entertained, he was bored to say the least. He bucked and hollered and threw several tantrums. I imagined other parents looking at me thinking, "She needs to give that kid a good spanking," while all the while knowing if I did indeed give him a tap on his back-side those same people would think I was an abusive parent. When you're dealing with a tired two year old, it's a lose/lose situation.

After our hour and a half wait we were finally taken back for our five minute time slot with the good doctor. He quickly tested both of Isaac's ears and declared that his hearing couldn't be any better. He did, however, see the source of our current dilemma and decided to try to remove it with a pair of tweezers. After successfully completing his mission, the doctor announced, "I'm surprised I was able to get that. I thought for sure we would have to do surgery." As my dear friend Kathy would say, "Oiy Vay!" I'm definitely not up for anymore surgeries in our family anytime soon.

As for the source of our dilemma? It remains a mystery. It has been speculated to have perhaps once been part of a Hot Wheels car tire or the neck of a broken hero action figure. As to how it jumped into Isaac's ear unexpectedly or without his consent or knowledge, that too will remain a mystery.
You'd think after four kids and ten years a mom would be use to such things. Nope, not this one. My kids never cease to amaze me!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Word-Filled and Wordless Wednesday

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 8:38-39
Connor's first night in his big boy bed.  Big brother slept close (and stole all the covers) to keep him safe!
For more Word-Filled Wednesday click HERE.
For more Wordless Wednesday, click HERE.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Me Monday

Everyone always seems to have so much fun with this. So here's my go at "Not me Monday".

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It was not me who in order to celebrate my friend's birthday went and bought myself a new purse and make-up. It really was not me who wanted the free gift that you got with a purchase of $21.50 so badly that she pestered the sales lady until she offered her an eye pencil sharpener for a dollar so she'd qualify. I am absolutely not that bold or annoying.

It was not me in Wal-Mart asking a woman in the pet department for a dog breeders phone number. I so didn't need another dog.... (even if she is beyond beautiful and the sweetest little thing ever). I would never bring home a new pet without much planning and preparation. Not me... ever!

I did not go the very next evening to get another puppy from the same breeder for a friends son without their prior consent or approval. I would never do anything that brazen.

I did not go wild buying candy for Valentine's Day. I do know how to show restraint. I did not come home with two bags of M&M's, Hershey's miniatures, Kisses, and Bon Bons. I would never allow that much candy in my house at one time.

I did not order my husband's Valentine's gift at last moment. I ordered it in plenty of time for it to have arrived in time. Why it didn't is beyond me!

I am not so cheesey that I had a special puppy party for my children, their friend, and their puppies to celebrate Valentine's Day. I am not that pathetic.

I did not give in to the peer pressure and just write my first Not Me Monday. I would never do that just because Mimi said I had to. Never! Not me! Nope!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

**I wrote this a year and a half ago on my tenth wedding anniversary before I began writing at blogspot. I felt led to share it today. It is a wonderful reminder of just what we are celebrating on Valentine's Day!**

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Everything! Love has everything to do with every situation we are ever presented with at any given time. Whether or not we choose to act with love is our decision, but if we are not treating EVERYONE with whom we come in contact with true agape love (a love given unconditionally and not based on the worthiness of the one being loved) we are not living a life that reflects Christ.

He told us how to love others. It isn't always easy, but we have a guide.

Love is patient and kind.
"But I'm tired." "But you don't know what I've been through." "But I don't feel like it." "But they don't deserve it." We can come up with a million excuses. We were cut off in traffic. Someone jumped ahead of us in the check out line. The cashier is rude. Our children are running amuck and acting like wild heathens. Still we can choose to be patient. Still we can choose to be kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
We've all been there. Someone has something we want... and it may not always be an object. Maybe it's a job, a relationship, or a talent. We may not come out and admit our envious feelings, but we dwell on it. We wonder how we can have one. We allow it to consume us. Or perhaps we are the one with the object, job, relationship or talent. While it is tempting to flaunt it, it is not acting in true Christian love.

Love is not rude. Ouch. God didn't leave anything out! He considered it all. We aren't even allowed to be rude...even when it's justifiable. We have all been put in situations where someone has caused a feeling to swell inside of us that our best is to respond rudely. When I married Tommy, he was the worst. I remember one incident where a woman broke into the line we were in. I was one to blend into the situation and not cause a scene. Not so with my new husband. He told her somewhat firmly just what he thought. Praise God that Tommy is a different man today and would not say a thing and wouldn't let the same situation bother him at all. These days I would be more likely to respond or react rudely. Regardless of the circumstances... the kids have not done their best with their schoolwork or chores, Tommy hasn't reacted the way I expected or wanted him to.... if I am acting in love, I am not allowed to be rude.

Love does not demand its own way.
We all want what we want when we want it. It is human nature. But it is not the nature of love. When we act in love, we prefer to see others get what they want ahead of our own selfish desires. As a child I learned a song that said "put Jesus first and Others second and put Yourself at the end of the line, then you will have JOY in your life with J-O-Y." When we put Jesus and others ahead of ourself we are not being self seeking or demanding our own way. Want JOY? Try this formula and watch it work in your life.

Love is not irritable.
Again, I could make a huge list of "buts." At the top of my personal list would probably be "but it's that time of the month." I'm just being honest here. Even when hormonal imbalances send me over the top, I am not to be irritable if I am walking in love.

Love keeps no record of being wronged.
There is a particular person involved in many circles of my life whom I also refer to as the thorn in my flesh. She just really rubs me wrong. Our troubles date back many years and as time as passed I have kept a mental checklist of the reasons I don't like her. I could go into talking about all the ways she has hurt me and my family to make you understand, but that isn't acting in love. To respond in love would be to wipe the checklist clean. What about the next time she does something to me? I have to wipe it clean again. **(While rereading this I actually had to stop and wonder who I had written it about! After having written this I really did make a concious effort to "wipe the slate clean."  A year and a half later this same person has become a very dear friend. All because I chose to allow God to love her through me before it was yet within my own strength to love her own my own!)**

Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
I think of a special friend's blog from yesterday. She had a court date involving a minor traffic accident from a few months back. Because she was honest in her account of things, the truth prevailed. Had she taken the easy way out (rejoiced in injustice by setting this woman up), the outcome may not have ended as favorably. God used K to shine His love into a situation where darkness could have easily prevailed!

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
And now I'm going to get a little personal. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. There are times I wonder what I was thinking marrying a man with four children from a previous marriage and then having four more children to add to the situation. Each of my children were highly desired and planned and wanted so much. But I've wondered how wise it was to bring them into the situation they've been born in to.

Dealing with the baggage of my husband's past has not always been easy. There have been times I have wanted out. Because of love though, I'm not allowed to give up. There have been times when things have seemed awful bleak, but because of love, I'm not allowed to lose faith. To love my husband is to always be hopeful and to endure through EVERY circumstance we go through together.

Tommy has been so much better at showing his love for me at times than I have been at showing mine for him. When I have been sick from fibromyalgia, suffered through miscarriages, post-partum depression, and PMDD he has always been patient and kind. He hasn't been easily angered when I have been a basket case. He has never given up on me, always had faith in me, been hopeful that I'd be bettered, and he has endured through every circumstance he's been through because of me.  HE HAS LOVED ME AS CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH!!!

Tomorrow is our tenth anniversary. We had planned to renew our vows for our anniversary this year, but that plan fell through. So here are my new vows to my husband.    **(I do still plan for us to renew our vows one day.  Maybe this year?)

Tommy, from this day forward I promise to always try my best to respond to you with patience and kindness. I will not be jealous of you or act boastful or proud... even when it means not being able to say I told you so. I will try diligently not to be rude or irritable even when I'm tired, frazzled, or hormonal. I promise from this day forward not to keep score. When I forgive you, I will forget too. I will rejoice with you in truth. Regardless of what happens in the future I WILL NOT GIVE UP. I WILL NOT LOSE MY FAITH IN YOU. I WILL ALWAYS BE HOPEFUL BECAUSE OF YOU. AND WHATEVER HAPPENS WE WILL ENDURE THROUGH EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE. I will seek to love you as you have always love me.

1 Corinthians 13 is so commonly read that sometimes it is read to be more of a suggestion or something that sounds nice than an actual guideline for how to love. Many years ago I heard that you could take the word "love" out and replace it with your name saying "Samantha is patient. Samantha is kind." That never worked for me because I am not those things and I have certainly not been perfected in these areas. I am writing this because it is what God is showing me in my life that needs to change. Through Christ I can act in those ways. It is CHRIST in me, my hope of glory! In my weaknesses HIS strength is revealed.

Father, I ask that you change my life with love. Help me to love as you love. I especially want to love my husband and family in this way, but not just them, Lord. I want your love to shine through me to everyone I come in contact with. Mold and shape me, Lord, until I reflect your SON in all I say and do. In His precious name, amen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More and More? NO MORE!!

I love blessing my children. I gain great pleasure in finding something when I'm out and about that I think they would enjoy and surprising them with it. More often than not, I give in to their pleas when we find ourself in a toy department. It seems they almost always come home from the store with something new. It's not always a big something but usually is something nevertheless. I want to give them their every hearts desire, and I'm ashamed to admit that in doing so, I have spoiled them.

Christmas was just over a month ago. Already the gifts my children were showered with have been scattered through-out our home. They have so much that nothing holds their attention for long. It's always on to the next great thing.

I acknowledge that it is not their fault that they have this mind set. I have taught them to expect more and more. But it is also up to me to put the reins on myself to keep from lavishing them with gifts. If I am to teach them to appreciate what they have, I have to stop over indulging them.

As I thought earlier today about a specific item I knew the children wanted that I really would like to get for them, I began pondering the things I have written above. I knew that in this case I will have to wait until their attitudes towards receiving gifts has changed. For now they will have to prove to me that they appreciate it and will take care of it. If they truly want it, they will have to earn it by earning back my trust.

I wonder if this isn't how it is with God and His children too. He sits back and thinks, "I would really like to bless Samantha with a new insight, a new gift, or talent, but she really didn't seem to appreciate that last one. She hasn't shared it, used it, or paid it much attention. Seems more often these days she takes my gifts for granted. Maybe I should wait and see how she'll prove to me that she can handle what she has before I give her more."

And so it is..

Father, may I always be a good steward of everything you give me. Help me not to take your gifts for granted but to be truly appreciative for everything with which you have blessed me. In Jesus name, amen.

Matthew 13:12 - Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some of My Best Friends Have Been DOGS

April will bring with it the first completed year that I have spent without my faithful Golden Retriever, Rhett. Rhett was a beautiful, beautiful dog. He brought me so much happiness and joy. When we first purchased Rhett, he was intended to be for the kids. Yet somehow within weeks he had me wrapped, and he was my friend and shadow for every day of his life that followed.

Rhett always seemed to know when I felt bad. He'd just lay beside me or sit quietly at my feet. He was always ready to go on a walk with me. We spent countless hours playing fetch together. And for the most part, he obeyed my every command. My favorite was when I'd holler, "KILL, RHETT, KILL!!" and he'd begin to furiously yet ever so playfully bark at my husband. Or I could say, "Rhett, give Dacey love," (he knew the kids each by name) and he'd chase her down until she was cornered and lick her mercilessly.

When I was eight months pregnant with Connor, I was awaken one morning after my husband had left for work with Rhett standing over me growling. It was not light yet, and I was a bit taken back as to why he was growling until I realized there was a bat resting on the wall above my head. Yes, my hero dog saved me, the child sleeping in bed with me, and my precious unborn baby from the wrath of a bat that had found its way into my bedroom. For that alone I will forever sing his praises.

Rhett had a silly side too. I remember one Christmas we were given a tin of popcorn that set on the floor in our bedroom. The tin was decorated with pictures of puppies on it, and no matter how many times Rhett walked around and saw that tin sitting there, each time he'd become afraid and bark, growl and dart across the room. Other times we'd walk by a mirror or sometimes just a window of a store, but if he saw his reflection in the glass he stood ready to take himself down should his reflection choose to charge or threaten the peace of his family.

When you're close to an animal and know them like I knew Rhett you can tell when some thing's not quite right. He was still playful but not as much so as normal. As time progressed I could tell his back legs were not as straight as they had once been. He began having great difficulty climbing stairs into the house and jumping on the bed. We tried several medications to relieve him of his pain, but realized in the end the best choice was to put him out of his suffering. It was such a hard decision to make. He was part of our family. I know we made the best decision for him, but I still miss him each and every day.

For months after we lost Rhett I would cry at the drop of a hat. If I saw a golden retriever on a commercial, I'd bawl like a baby. Once while in town I saw a friend's beautiful chocolate lab and had to excuse myself to hide my tears. People don't understand when you mourn the loss of a dog to that extent. But for four years Rhett was at my side. If I left the house, he went with me. When we visited friends and family away from home, he was always up for a road trip. When my husband would leave for work in the wee hours before daylight, Rhett was asleep at my feet keeping me warm. I've joked that I spent more time with him than my husband because Rhett never left. We were close. He knew me like a book.

In the months that followed losing Rhett several people offered me puppies. I declined each offer knowing that no other animal could replace Rhett. And I knew that when I did get ready to open my heart to another dog, it would have to be the right dog... not just one to fill the void. I knew that I would always love Golden Retrievers but didn't think I could handle going through hip dysplasia with one again. So when I did start looking for a pet, I made a list of what I wanted.

I wanted a dog that would be playful but would be just as content being a lap dog. Having had dogs that need constant grooming and up-keep, I knew that was not something I wanted to deal with. As a child "Lady and the Tramp" had always been my favorite Disney movie. (It still is.) I liked the looks and the size of the Cocker Spaniel, and started reading about their personality. The breed seemed like an obvious choice for our family. They are known for their "merry spirit" and that they enjoy being part of a family.

Then on the very first day that I decided I would start actively looking for a new friend, I found an ad that read: "AKC Cocker Spaniel puppies." I called to inquire and found that they had four left. We agreed to meet within the hour. We pulled into the breeders drive that evening and were greeted by four precious, pouncing Cocker Spaniel puppies. There were two boys and two girls. The little blonde girl caught my eye. One of the first things I noticed about the pooch that was to win my heart was that she was overwhelmingly shy. I knew that was not a quality that would be useful for her to be a therapy dog were she to be added to our family, but I wasn't concerned about her providing therapy for anyone but me. (And that she has done and done well.)

We brought Bella Rose home in August. In the six months that have passed she has proved a faithful companion. She is in my lap as I type. While she is still a bit shy, she does enjoy visiting the nursing home with our family from time to time. We always love to doll her up with bows in her hair, cute collars, bandanas, or dresses. My daughter, Dacey, often dresses to match Bella Rose when we take her to visit. The residents always seem to appreciate the effort and are always tickled at her cuteness.

My husband still has his beautiful Golden Retriever, Scarlet. But Bella Rose is all mine. I will never forget my Rhett, but Bella Rose has helped my heart to heal in the time that she has been here.

I am thankful for the friendship and companionship that God has allowed us humans through dogs. They do not judge us as we so often do to one another. Dogs do not have false intentions in pursuing a relationship with you. They just want to love and to be loved back.

I leave you with Elisabeth Elliot's thoughts on the passing of her dog, MacDuff.

"It is a late October morning of glorious sunshine in New Hampshire and I
sit in an antique rocking chair by the window of an old house which was
once a barn. The gray rocks on Mount Lafayette's broad summit are dusted
with snow, and the sky is as blue as a sky can be. All that is still green
today is the evergreens. Between them are the black line drawings of the
thin leafless maples, wild cherries, aspens and birches. The feathery
tamaracks are dark gold. Little yellow apples hang on one of the gnarled
old trees of the orchard. I keep hoping a deer will come for them.

My friend Miriam and I drove up yesterday from Boston for a few days of
quiet at my brother's place. Both of us brought a load of desk work. No
one else is here except Daisy, Miriam's new friend, a little white
Pekingese. (Her old friend, Pity Sing, died a few weeks ago.)

MacDuff, my six-year-old Scottish terrier, is not here this time either.
We went for a short climb yesterday afternoon, up a rocky wooded trail
that he used to love. He would race after the chattering chipmunks, bound
up the steep granite slabs, and wait, panting, at the top for us to catch
up. I missed him yesterday on that trail. I miss him today when I look out
of the window.

MacDuff died of cancer last week. I knew he was sick during the summer
when his routines changed. He sat in the middle of the back yard one
morning, instead of in his usual place by the fence, looking bewildered
instead of in charge. One rainy day he was not on his chair in the
screened porch, but I found him lying in a hollow place under a bush. He
no longer leaped for his Milk-Bone at the breakfast table. But he kept his
ears and tail up, and thus kept my hopes up.

The vet said he had an infection and gave us pills. MacDuff got very cagey
at detecting where those pills had been hidden in his food, so I had to
try ever sneakier methods of getting them into him. They worked fine. He
was well again--for a while faithfully putting in his self-appointed
barking time each day, letting neighbor dogs know who was in charge, and
keeping off trespassers, some of whom must have been demons since none of
us humans could see them.

But I saw that he was losing weight. I could feel the shoulder blades and
spine through his heavy, ragged coat. I bought new kinds of dog food,
special hamburger, yogurt. He was apologetic when he couldn't eat it, his
eyes limpid with a plea for understanding, his stiff brush-tail quivering
to explain.

"Little Duffer, little black dog--could you try this?" I would ask,
offering some tidbit that would surely be irresistible. He would lift his
black nose, take it slowly and delicately in his teeth, hold it for a
moment hoping I would look away, and then place it on the floor as
tactfully as he could. He did not want to disappoint me.

His suffering was a hard thing to watch. He was alone in it, as all
creatures, human or animal, are alone in their pain. "The toad beneath the
harrow knows exactly where each sharp tooth goes." There is no qualitative
or quantitative measurement for pain. It is simply there sharp or dull,
shooting or stabbing, bearable or excruciating, local or general, it is
unexplained, uninvited, unavoidable. It takes command. It is
all-encompassing, implacable, exigent. But of course I am speaking only of
what I know of pain. How was it for MacDuff?

He expected no special treatment. He did not pity himself. He took for
granted that he would be able to go on about his accustomed terrier
business and when he found that it was somehow not working well, he made
his own adjustments as unobtrusively as he could. It was still the supreme
object of his life to see that I was happy. I think he lay under the bush
in the rain not in order to wallow in solitary self-pity, but in order
that I might not see him in trouble. He liked to please me. He delighted
to do my will.

Is animal suffering different from human suffering? I hope so. Animals
surely must not suffer the agonies of anxiety which accompany much human
pain. "How shall I carry out my duties? What am I to do if this doesn't
clear up quickly? Can I bear it if it gets worse?" The element of time is
not a philosophical torment to them. They live as we have to be told to
live--one day at a time, trustfully. I don't know whether it is accurate
to say that "faith" is required of them, but if it is, they fulfill the
requirement perfectly. They look to God, the Psalmist tells us, for
provision for their needs. They are watched over and cared for by a kind
Father. Not the least sparrow falls without his notice. Surely MacDuff was
of more value than many sparrows!

I watched him try to lie down on his side, but something obstructed his
breathing. When he was asleep he would begin to pant and would waken to
change his position, sometimes with little muffled groans. This
fellow-creature, I thought, formed by the Hand that formed me, suffers for
my sin--for I am of the race of men who brought evil into the world, and
without evil there could be no pain, no death. A Scotty would not have had

His wonderful face bearded, with tufts of eyebrows springing and black
eyes shining--had reminded me of George MacDonald's belief that dogs
always behold the face of the Father. MacDuff knew things--what did he
know? What were the mysteries he saw--too deep or too high or too pure
for me to be entrusted with yet? I think they helped him endure the pain.
He was not bewildered, of course, by the questions that needle my
mind--the origin of evil, God's permission of an animal's or a child's
suffering. He was a dog, and to ponder such questions was not required of
him. What was required of him he did, in an authentically, thoroughly
dog-like style.

I will not weep more for him. I will be thankful for such a gift of grace.
He was, I am sure, "assigned" to me. In the sorrow of my late husband's
illness, when life seemed a desolate wasteland, MacDuff was there. Jesus,
the Bible tells us, during his temptation in the wilderness, was "with the
wild beasts." I used to think of that phrase as descriptive of one of the
elements of his dereliction, but it may be that the wild beasts, like the
angels, ministered to him. Is it mere sentimentality to believe that? Is
it too much to say that Duffer "ministered" to me? He did. He was my
little wild beast in that wilderness.

The Bible does not speak specifically of the destiny of animals but there
is a promise in the Letter to the Ephesians which surely must include
them, "Everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection
and fulfillment in Christ" (Eph. 1:10 Phillips).

Paul expresses his hope in the eighth chapter of Romans (verse 21
Phillips) "that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from
the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent
liberty which can only belong to the children of God!"

CopyrightĂ‚© 1979, by Elisabeth Elliot
all rights reserved.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rest for the Weary

It has been almost six weeks since my husband's shoulder surgery. It has been a very long six weeks for our family. For the first three weeks following the procedure Tommy was in excruciating pain around the clock. He was unable to move or lift his arm at all. During the next three weeks the pain has lessened (or maybe he's grown use to it), but it still hurts. He has not regained his full range of motion yet. He still cannot lift his arm straight out or above his head. Tommy's a worker and has quickly grown tired of not being able to do the things he is use to doing. As much as he enjoys being home with his family, he actually misses being at work.

Physical therapy has been grueling. Each time I take him for his appointment, I feel as if though I am dropping him off at a torture chamber. While one therapist holds him down, another pulls his arm in all directions imaginable. Then for the next hour or two they stretch his arm in every position possible. (We've wondered if now that Guantanamo Bay is being closed, maybe they should just hire a team of physical therapists instead.)

On top of Tommy's three physical therapy appointments each week, we've also had Dacey's guitar lessons, Jaden's piano lessons, and speech classes. Combine that with homeschooling, housework, helping my mom here and there, keeping up with a very active two year old and his three older siblings, and I am one tired woman. Then this past week all four kiddos have gotten sick. Thirteen prescriptions between the four of them later, they are feeling better, but now I am sick.

As Alicia at Confessions of a Snowflake said last week when she was under the weather... "he maketh me to lie down." Jesus told us, "Come unto me and I will give you rest."

So I'm going to go get my "Believing God" book, a cup of theraflu, and cuddle up in bed while I have a good excuse to do so.