Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tired of All the Christmas Brag Letters?

Tired of All the Christmas Brag Letters?

I really admire those people who send out letters with their Christmas cards.  They send perfect pictures of their well-behaved children in the beautiful places they’ve visited this year.

First of all, I can’t sit down and watch 5 minutes of Dr. Phil without being plagued by some important task hanging over my head.  It’s too bad I can’t remember what it is.
Second of all, why can’t I go to those beautiful places?  I’m home editing a 5-page paper on why Zeus and Hermione (Her-mine-ee) wound up inside the Trojan Horse or something like that.  Midnight, head spinning.  Later I’m scraping burnt french fries off my rusty cookie sheet, and my friend is over there in Italy telling Edwardo, her hot masseuse, “A little more warm oil, please.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my friends who send letters.  I want to know about their exciting lives.  A part of me wants to slip it down the garbage disposal, but the senders may ask me later what I thought about their Alaskan cruise.  But a part of me is glad that they are thoroughly enjoying their lives.
Why am I jealous sometimes, though?  I have everything I want.  I have plenty of time to ponder my blessings when I’m driving back from a wrestling match in Millington (for those of you living elsewhere, about an hour away) at 9 p.m.  Thank goodness my two other kids have a wonderful beef stew in the crock pot I made this morning—yeah, right.  I also ruminate on my blessings, shivering, at 7 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. at soccer games in a tournament 7 hours away.  Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed with thankfulness that I want to get on my knees right there on the sideline but my butt is stuck to the bleachers.

But the thing is—there’s no where I’d rather be.  I’ll never have these days back, but Turks and Caicos will always be there.  I’d rather watch my daughter play point guard for the very first time than visit some Paradise Point. 

I’d rather see her perfect her rise ball than watch a sunrise in Oahu.  And most of all, seeing my daughter’s embarrassment when I volunteer to have her Bible study at my house is priceless.  
One day I might make it to an exotic location, but right now I’m enjoying watching my beautiful children put their home-made (well, school-made) ornaments on our Christmas tree.    When I do make it to Italy, I wonder if Edwardo will still be there.   

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Frazzled Mom is Looking for Her Inner Diva

In Search of My Inner Domestic Diva
          The frazzled mom made great strides in her defrazzlement the other day.  I passed up undecorated artificial wreaths that were half off at Hobby Lobby.  The bad elf on my left shoulder wheedled, 
     “You could decorate these!  You can use all that left over faux fruit, greenery in the attic, even some fresh berries—”  
     The good elf on my other shoulder screamed, 

          I’m trying to follow my own advice of simplifying my life.  My goal is to decide on two or three priorities this Christmas and to close my eyes and resist anything that falls outside those priorities. 
          I’m trying to squelch my “I can do it all” tendencies and realize I’m not Martha Stewart sweetly serving her rack of lamb with truffle sauce—or whatever goes with rack of lamb which I’ve never made because I’m a frazzled mom. This Chef Boyardee’s idea of homemade biscuits is whacking a tube on the side of the counter.  And I’ve finally mastered the skill of unrolling crescent rolls without tearing all of them up.  Then there’s my delicious frozen meatballs with Ragu.  I’m overjoyed that I can now make things my children love.  However, I refuse to pick up the  spaghetti sauce-crusted plates they leave in the family room.  The next day they have the nerve to actually sit in front of the crusty plate, completely unfazed, and log in to Facebook.
          If I ever transform into Martha Stewart, even after the kids leave for college, Hell will have frozen over.  However, I’d love to think of myself as Sandra Lee, that incredible domestic diva who writes “Semi-Homemade” magazine, who makes us think she slaves in her kitchen when her beautifully decorated red velvet cake is from Betty Crocker. She’s my idol. But I’ve got to face the fact that even striving to be a semi-domestic goddess is not in my cards right now. 
          You can bet your sweet Easy Mac that Sandra Lee’s not in the car from 3:00 to 9:30.  During those 6 1/2 hours, I may have a few minutes in which I come home and whip out a lovely lasagna from Russo’s pizza which I added  mozzarella to that I’m trying to pass off as homemade.  Sandra would be proud.  I also wager she didn’t have to make a 3-D Santa face on a paper plate in the car during morning carpool that her first-grader forgot was due. It’s pretty sad that I can boast about being able to make a 3-D Santa face out of the contents of my purse.  You know—lifesavers stuck in the bottom of my purse for eyes—ketchup from fast-food packets for rosy cheeks—and Sweet ‘n Low for the beard. First I must glob some of the sticky residue in the bottom of the Sonic cup from August onto the plate, sprinkle generously with Sweet ‘n Low, and Voila!—snow white whiskers.  If the motherhood gods are going to stump ME, they’re going to have to do better than that.
But, alas, in reality Peg Bundy is more my speed. You know, “Married With Children.”  On the ladder of domestic divinity, I’m a rung below her, looking up at her tight capris.  At least she manages to wear nice high heels instead of ratty bunny slippers and uses make-up everyday.  But after deep reflection, I bet Martha Stewart and Sandra Lee, probably having grown kids now, were too busy watching their oven timers to watch their daughter make a three-pointer in her basketball game.  There’s give-and-take, and there are seasons in life.  One day the frantic pace will slow down, and I’ll have all the time in the world to learn how to cook a perfect turkey and maybe giblets—whatever that is.  But right now, though I’m forever frazzled, I wouldn’t take anything for the privilege of tying shoes, typing school papers, and tucking in.  Peg Bundy can keep the high heels, and maybe I’ll use my bunny slippers to sweep away the dust bunnies under the couch.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010



This is a poem inspired by a picture of my son, at about 10 months old, sitting on Santa's lap.  He looked up at Santa as if he was wondering, "Who the heck are you?"  Then I started thinking about how very young children are probably confused about the whole Santa and Jesus thing.  Here's my interpretation of their confusion!

Mommy brought me in with her
To say hello to you.
But I’m not sure about this , Sir,
“Just what is it you do?”
Mommy said you were born on Christmas day
And you fly with reindeer too,
Bringing gift to girls and boys
Like the Wisemen brought to you.
Daddy said to ask you for things I want
And not be naughty, but nice,
And remember to thank you for all you brought
When I pray and close my eyes.
Sir, I’m not sure what it is you do,
But Mommy always talks to you.
Mom and Dad believe in you 
And they said that I should too.
So, Sir, put in your sleigh some trucks and trains
When from Bethlehem you come.
Dad knows you can do ANYTHING —
‘Cause you brought ME to him and mom.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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Dear Frazzled Reader,
This is one of my favorite poems.  When we worry about the challenges we will face today or in the future, we assess them based on our own strength, as if God were not in the picture.  The fact is, God shapes and weighs our trials based not on how strong we are alone, but how strong we are leaning on Him.
Lean Hard
Child of My love, lean hard,
And let me feel the pressure of your care;
I know your burden, child. I shaped it;
Balanced it in Mine Own Hand; made no proportion
In its weight to your unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
“I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers;
So I will keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.” Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder that upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
You are not near enough. I would embrace your care;
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.
From Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman, Edited by Jim Reimann

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strength for the Day

Last night one of my children woke me up distressed about having a bad dream.  She said it definitely wasn’t from watching “The Predator” at a sleep over the other night.  After sweeping her room of drooling aliens and affirming God was with her, I told her to fix her eyes on the picture of the Virgin Mary in the hallway.  I assured her Mary, mother of all mothers, would watch over her all night because this one was going straight back to bed.  Crawling into sleep-number serenity, I lamented the fact that I’ll never get a good night’s rest. But in the darkness God reminded me I’m very blessed to have her under my roof because in five years she’ll be on her own, learning to deal with adult-sized fears.  
I remembered the sleepless nights when my children were newborns. As they grew, I trudged through days in which my four-and two-year-olds wanted to play cowboys and indians and all I wanted to do was take a nap while my two-week-old slept. I made three meals a day for my Tasmanian devils, wiping up baby food explosions around the high chair after each meal.  I learned that although velcro fasteners on shoes and pants made dressing my toddler easier on a tight schedule, it also made it easier for her to immediately undress herself again and perch proudly in her fuzzy Elmo chair to watch Barney. I was utterly exhausted after baths, teeth brushing and bedtime rituals every night. Despite the overwhelming love I felt, especially when I noticed little toes with remnants of nail polish peeking out from under the covers, it seemed like those long, arduous days would never end.
Likewise, my mother, in her 60’s, weathers long, strenuous weeks helping care for her ailing, elderly parents who need attention 24/7.  She stays overnight with them 5 times a week, barely sleeping on the sofa, because my grandfather, suffering from Alzheimers, roams the house.  Night after night she also monitors the blood sugar of my bed-ridden grandmother, checks her oxygen levels, cleans her up, rolls her over and feeds her, along with a litany of other chores.  The mental and physical stress week after week and the pain of seeing her parents’ health degenerate sap her energy and motivation, but she perseveres.
We all have phases of our lives in which we have no other option than to rely on God for stamina to get through the day.  He is our strength as we struggle up steep mountains and as we descend into the stagnant air of the valleys.  But there is another situation that is even more grueling.  It is when God calls us to trudge along the same dreary path day after monotonous day, laden with responsibilities and seeing no encouragement or hope along the way.   Often the most difficult part of a trial is the extended time frame we must endure.  A short, unpleasant experience is easily borne, but when heartbreak drags on for weeks or years,  our soul loses its strength, as in the case of my mother.  As we toil along the course God has laid out for us, we must keep in constant communication with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.  He can help us live above our circumstances even when we think we are at the limit of our strength.  We must remember God Himself shaped this difficulty, and even though we strain under the weight of our duties, “we can believe that (these) days... are the most significant we are called upon to live.”  Robert Collyer quoted from Streams in the Desert 
Psalms 71:16  I walk in the strength of the Lord God. God goes before me and makes a way.
     Lord, I can’t go forward without you. I need your supernatural strength and your supernatural love to do this today.  Teach me what you want me to learn through my circumstances and help me to live above them. I know I am in the exact place you want me to be.  Protect me from discouragement and doubt that Satan uses to destroy my faith. I’m thankful that you go before me, making a way in the wilderness that seeks to swallow me up. As I strive to bloom where you’ve planted me, help me every day to see the beautiful ways you show me how precious I am to you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Less of Me, More of You

May there be LESS of me, less of my complaining, less of my demands to know why, to know when;
                        less of my pleas for you to come and fix my life,
                             and more OF a desperate yearning to know you.
                                    When there is less of ME and more of you, I am surrendering.  How can I hold back anything from my Lord who, with tenderest love, looks in my eyes and holds my face in his nail-scarred hands and
                                                     asks, "Do you trust Me?"
"Yes, my Lord.  Help me trust you 
                             MORE.  You can put anything in
                    or take anything out OF my life,
                                                             anything YOU wish — just carry me."
May I drop to my knees in surrender to One who has more glorious plans for me than I could ever obtain by having my own way,
                               glorious plans that are manifested when I make my goal
                                                        Less of Me — More of You.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

As He Kisses Me Good-bye

     This poem is a follow up to my last post.  Yesterday I watched a slide show of my little nephew playing his first year of football in pads.  I wrote about my own son as he played football for the first time and how he grew up so fast.   This is part of a poem I wrote during that time10 years ago.

As He Kisses Me Good-bye

He’s six and plays his football games
on manly, sacred ground.
I’m watching him explore this new
fraternity he’s found.
He swaggers away and I wonder
how a boy can change so fast.
Yet when the game is done, the battlescars
are tended upon my lap.
He hugs his thanks and meets my eye,
as his friends are watching nearby,
and I try not to cry and I’m thankful at least
that he kisses me good-bye.
God has given me this precious boy
to love and keep for awhile.
I did nothing to deserve his heart
or earn his sunny smile.
Lord, take my hand more tightly as
his sweet hand falls from mine,
and You nudge me to let go of his
and cling some more to Thine.
He’ll need me even more as he
sprouts his wings to fly.
And I’ll try not to cry but be thankful at least
that he kisses me good-bye. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Do You Grow A Boy?

This morning I was on Facebook and watched a video of my nephew playing his first year of football in pads.  The boys are so little they can barely move around in the pads and helmet.  But this is the beginning of manhood.  This is where it all starts.

My son started playing football when he was 7 years old, and that was when my heart began to feel a little twinge of pain.  It was the realization that he was going to have to grow up.  The sweat, the smell of the freshly mown grass and the growing brotherhood among the boys mix with the magic of the hot August sun, raising them to the next level of boyhood.  They may look the same, but their demeanor and body language change into one of confidence.  They've entered a secret, masculine world where no girls are allowed and realize, "this is what it's all about."  They've used Transformers to tackle anything that came in their way. They've staged army men, who at the whistle, weaved their way around deadly land mines and escaped the enemy in hot pursuit.  Now, with the help of rising testosterone, they can make it a reality.

I watched my little guy, and I felt that twinge of pain because I knew one day he would have to be so manly, so strong and stoic—so different from me.  That would separate us.  Now at 16, he is that young man.  What I didn't realize then is that I would be so very proud of him.  The fact that he grew up so quickly makes me sad, but my pride in the amazing young man he has become far outweighs any sadness.  He takes on responsibility and has a strong work ethic.  He loves his family and is a leader.  What more could I want?  I watch him out the window now mowing the grass and moving firewood, and I'm amazed at how much I love him.  I go to all his wrestling matches which are mentally and physically grueling.  As I watch his muscles move fluidly and then strain,  I'm reminded of how manly and strong he has become—so different from me. Thank goodness.

When he walks out my door,  I'll feel that same twinge of pain I felt when he walked onto the football field for the first time.  But I've learned that my pride will eclipse the pain.  Confidently, he'll enter a different world and realize "this is what it's all about."  Everything he learned in football will help him succeed in his profession.  He'll succeed in life because of everything he learned from me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Battle Rages

Psalms 55:18,19 and 22

"Though the tide of battle runs strongly against me, for so many are fighting me, yet He will rescue me.  God Himself—God from everlasting ages past— will answer them!"  v. 22  "Give your burdens to the Lord.  He will carry them." (paraphrased from The Living Bible)

     Have you ever felt like there is a battle raging against you?  Your kids are doing everything in their power to push your buttons and they are hostile because you are "making up rules as you go."  Your husband is looking at you as if you had three heads.  And those are the people you love!  You may be overwhelmed with deadlines and saddled with heavy expectations. Or, like David, trapped on every side by people and situations you can't control, you have very few options in life.

     The author, King David, was a warrior familiar with bloodshed, and he was in great distress when he penned this psalm.  He wrote it after his beloved son, Absalom, and one of David's closest aides initiated a rebellion to take over the throne.  David's only option was to run while Absalom and his army followed in hot pursuit.  Rebellious children are still one of hardest burdens to bear, but David's son was out for blood.

     David cries that "so many are against me." Who are WE fighting?—Satan.  He launches deep conflicts within us, making us doubt ourselves.

* Are we doing enough to please those we care about?  What is enough?

*  Are we good enough?  We compare ourselves to other people.  Why can't we finish that project at work and have a home-cooked meal on the table like other working moms?  Why can't we paint the whole house and find time to do crafts with our kids like other stay-at-home moms?  Satan inflicts us with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.  We mumble, "I don't care anymore."

 * Am I doing it right?  Guilt sucks the joy out of life and leads to depression.  To be honest, of course you're not doing it right!  No one does it right!  Everyone makes the wrong decisions now and then in the heat of the battle.  We should've taken time to listen to the rambling details of our child's day.  We should've been more sensitive to our husbands. We need to ask God to release us from the guilt, apologize, learn from it and move on.

* What is my purpose?  All I am is a maid, cook and chauffeur.  No one appreciates me.  What will I do when the kids are gone?   Do I really have any talents?  We complain, "I'm just going through the  motions."

     Satan knows that if he can steal our self-esteem, he can kill our motivation and then destroy our faith.

     But there's hope.  He exclaims, "yet God, himself, will rescue me!"  God, not legions of angels or saints, but God, himself, will rescue us from Satan's clutches.  He may not change our situation, but He will give us strength to withstand the pressure and keep our hearts at peace.  God, Himself, is holding our right hand, loving and guiding us every step of our path.  God's strong hand encircles yours as you face the battles in your life.  He will never let you go.

     Ps. 73:23,24   "But even so, you love me!  You are holding my right hand! You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel.."  (Paraphrased from the Living Bible.)


Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween—Chubby Hands and Candy Pails

     I'm a little late for Halloween, but I want to share a excerpt from a poem I wrote about my children when they were about 6, 4, and 2 years old. In anticipation of their magical transformation to pirates and princesses, they donned their costumes about four hours before we trekked out to trick-or-treat.  There they were—my swarthy pirate ready for dangerous adventure, and my princesses twirling in circles in one high heel, clutching sippy-cups, asking me if they look EXACTLY like "Cindawella".  I cherished all of it in my heart because I knew in a moment their chubby little hands would clutch car keys instead of candy pails.
     Ten years later my girls, 14 and 12, still enjoy dressing up, but they're off roaming the neighborhoods with their friends.  My husband and I roam around looking for something to do!

Beware my mighty little pirate,
brandishing his wobbly scabbard,
snarling through his red 
Gatorade mustache.


Pirates and Princesses

* This is an excerpt ----

My little pirate checks his look in the mirror
     and isn't bothered a bit that his black-marker mustache
is eclipsed by his Gatorade one.
     With his trusty scabbard, the world is his own.

My princess clack-clacks down the stairs with a golden gown,
     Barbie high heels, and small sparkling gloves.
She isn't bothered a bit that her crown slips down over one eye
     as she bounds over the last three steps.....

May her every pumpkin turn into a gleaming coach,
     and may she find glass slippers in the most unexpected places.


God bless you today.  May you find magic in the smallest events in your life....