Monday, December 23, 2013

I need Him

I tend to head into motherhood rather cavalierly (is that a word?).  I think I got it all figured out and mastered.  For sure this time, I mean it is the fourth child.

I am certain God is laughing His gracious head off.  I have nothing figured out except that I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to being a mother.  The only thing I do exactly right is feed babies, but then barn animals can do that, so this feat is not saying much.

Micah requires a lot of attention.  More than the others.  He spends a lot of time crying.  I think he has some tummy issues but since he cannot talk I'm not sure.

Daniel requires a lot of attention.  More than the others.  He spends a lot of time crying.  Without a certain amount of Mom-time he cries for me in a pitiful way in the middle of the night.

John requires a lot of attention.  More than the others.  He spends a lot of time crying.  Kids have been mean at school, he has made a bad choice and has a devastating consequence, he has fallen down again.

Elijah requires a lot of attention.  More than the others.  He spends a lot of time reading (a bit big for crying).  Buried in a book he escapes the chaos that is our life and tiptoes around trying to make sure he doesn't do anything to make Mom mad (she sometimes snaps at the dear child).

As I was driving home from one of the five doctor appointments we had last week.  Micah is screaming in the backseat as he had been screaming for most of the day.  Right out loud I told the Lord, "I cannot do this.  I am not equipped to handle a colic baby.  I cannot do this!"  Then I heard Matt Mahr singing "I need you, every hour I need you."  Tears fell.  "More like every second I need you," I said to myself.   And that was just the point God was trying to get across.

I need Him.  You need Him.  We all need Him in desperate ways.  So, each day I cling to the One who has the answers, the patience, the mercy, the love that I cannot muster.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Micah Andrew

A week ago at this time the big, bigger, and biggest brothers were meeting their new brother, Micah.  It was more than this emotional momma could handle and tears were shed.  It had been a long day already.  When I had gone to bed the night before I had expected to get a great nights sleep.  Wake up at 4:15 take a shower and stroll leisurely into the hospital for a c-section.

Something painful woke me up at 11:30 and it wouldn't stop.  Even when I tried to shower it away, will it away, pray it away.  Labor had indeed started.  After a quick call to my doctor and another three tries to get my sister roused in the wee hours we were off to the hospital.

We had the day right just not the time.  "Nobody knows except us and Sara and Andy."  I said to Chris on the way in.  It was kind of fun to have a secret from the world, except for contractions part.  Those really hurt and sort of dampened the mood.

At 3:25 another Anderson Boy entered the world.  We hadn't exactly settled on a name but as soon as I saw that baby I asked Chris if he could be Micah.  Chris had not been a fan of Micah, even after I wrote him an essay on why the prophet Micah would be a great choice for a namesake.  But somehow, even as I held out hope for a girl, I knew we would have a Micah. 

Andrew honors Uncle Andy.  He is a man with a true servant heart, integrity, love, and intelligence. And more than that, he loves the Lord and seeks after Him.  I pray Micah gleans even a fraction of what Andy offers the world.

Even though things didn't go as I had planned (when will I learn I am not in charge?) , I feel blessed beyond measure.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Going to the dogs

This past Thursday John had his very first ever school concert.  The concert was about dogs and cats and John got to be a dog.  He was over the moon!  If you have played with John for more than a few minutes you quickly learn that his favorite thing to pretend to be is a dog. In all our hours of playing house together I have never had a more loyal doggie than John, who is always Shadow the dog.

The night before his concert he was so excited because not only did he get to be a dog, he also got to ride the bus.  Another first for him.  In fact, I am not sure what excited him more, being a dog or riding the bus.  After school he relayed that he got to sit by two different people and that the bus was bumpy and very fun. 

I have to admit I was nervous about John performing.  He loves to sing but he also has inherited his Mom's love for chit chat. Plus he was in the front row, on display for all to see.  Concert time arrived and he sang his doggie heart out. He was especially good at the barking and growling parts.  There was a little bit of talking to his neighbor but as he put it, "The talking parts got so long."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Loving them...

My dearly loved friend Bree brought over cookies while visiting.  I'm pretty sure
Daniel loved it; he had frosting in his hair!
Elijah loves to read.  Daniel loves to read too.  I love seeing them together like this.

This is Thomas Jefferson.  He came to visit a few weeks ago.  I am loving all the Elijah is learning.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Glimpses of Gratitude

101. donuts (especially creme filled ones)

82.  bountiful tomato harvest

93.  Harvest moon ~ round and huge and orange against a navy blue sky

68.  when Daniel plays by himself

45.  open windows

57.  Daniel singing with the radio, "Oly, oly.....'

106.  John's report card

25.  a long, hot shower

34.  friends who ask me to pray

35.  Elijah belting out tune in the shower

51.  emails from Bree

2.  "Mama, can I tell you something?"

10.  baby kicks and flips

17.  John in glasses

Friday, October 25, 2013


As Thanksgiving nears, it is quite the trend to do something to recall what one is thankful for.  Pinterest is all abuzz with thanksgiving trees, sticks, jars and whatnot.  I think this is all well and good but after reading (for the second time) and studying in depth Ann Voskamp's book, "1000 Gifts" a month of gratitude is not what we are called to.

 "Rejoice always!  Give thanks in all circumstances...."  Paul, empowered by the Holy Spirit, shares this command in his first letter to the Thessalonians.  David shares it throughout the Psalms.  God commands it in through the writer of Chronicles.  We are to give thanks all year long.  All the time.  Every day. 

Sometimes it takes me a while to catch on to what God wants me to do.  Last year I felt so convicted during a Bible study on attitude.  In reflection the one that made me most nervous was the study on replacing complaining with thankfulness.  Then my Bible study buddies kept talking about this great book I should read.  One of them finally borrowed me hers.  And then, the ladies Bible study at church decided to do the study on that same book.

The one point that struck me hardest was that the root of joy in our lives comes from having a thankful spirit.  As a girl who feels called to be joyful I began to see that I will never succeed in being joyful always until I give thanks in all circumstances.  So I began a list. {I love a good list.}  Ann Voskamp's challenge is to list 1000 blessings, things to be thankful for.  I am at 95.

Opening my eyes to all the wonderful gifts my Creator has laid before me has begun to melt my heart in some pretty serious ways.  One has been my current role in life.  Going from the teacher in charge to the mom at home has not been an easy transition for me.  Many days I feel like a maid, cook, laundry and taxi service all rolled into one.  And don't get me started on how unappreciated I am.  But as I list out all these gifts I see that God has me right where He wants me and blessing the big and little men in my life is my gift to them.

All the men, big and little, in this picture are on my list.  The baby to join us in 6 weeks is on the list.  So is the talented friend who took it.  As are the beautiful surroundings,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


My beautiful friend Bree asked me today what made up word I am.  I had to think on it for a good long while before I came to fresting.  A delicate interweaving of freaking out and nesting.

Why freak out?  We are bringing home child number four in 8ish weeks.  That freaks me out.  After Elijah was born I was certain one child was all I could handle but Chris convinced me that another one (or two) would be okay.  I am just getting comfortable with three and now here comes four (the one I begged Chris for).  What was I thinking?  Good thing I have a God who equips the weak and commands me to "Be strong and courageous!"  If it worked for Joshua I am praying it works for me.

I am also freaking out (just a little bit) because I am feeling like I need to get a whole bunch of things done before this baby arrives.  Like Christmas.  But if you know me you know I am a last minute shopper, not the "all done in November" kind at all.  I am thinking I will take a cue from my much wiser older sister and rely on the internet and delivery for this holiday season.  Freezer meals is also looming over my head.  I know my family would survive and John would think it was great if we ate eggs, pancakes, cereal, and mac and cheese for a month but the nutrition voice in my head says otherwise.

The nesting never ends.  I want to make sheets so new baby has cozy, flannel to sleep on.  I made a wrap but want to "finish" the edges so it looks nicer (for who I don't know; it's just in my head).  I need to get the dresser from Grandma Louise and move the other one into the "littles" room.  Then I need to wash some baby clothes, although I don't want to wash too much of it because this baby might be a girl and then I'll just have to put all that blue away.  (Please be a girl!)

Oh well!  Either way, fresting or not, a baby is coming in 8 weeks to join these three (I found this picture while getting things ready for a Christmas present for John...maybe there is hope.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Daniel Days

We "borrow" whatever electronic device we can find and attempt to hack it.

We learn.

Shhhh!  We play with our brother's toys.

We lunch with our best buddies.

We make messes and then, "Clean up, clean up...."

We also read a million books, take a nap, and snuggle.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pregnancy Prattle

Here we are 28 weeks into my fifth pregnancy.  I feel like I am at least 36 weeks in and, apparently, I look that way too.  Why is it that people can say so much with a look and be so insensitive?

"Oh, you look like you are due about the same time as my daughter."  Really, when is that?  "October"  Not even close buddy, try two more months.

"When are you due?"  December.  "Oohhh."

I'm getting over it. Maybe.

As I was rubbing magic potions on my belly to try to ease the stretchmarks of my stretchmarks it dawned on me that the magic potion probably works better if you used with pregnancy one.  I'll keep using it anyway, just in case.

I probably am just too old this time around.  I was 26/27 when I was pregnant with Elijah.  29 when I was pregnant with John and 32/33 when I was pregnant with Daniel.  I hit advanced maternal age in August and now I know why they label it as such.  Because you feel older when you are pregnant at this age.  I thought it was no big deal.  Hollywood moms do it all the time, in their forties but apparently having trainers, nannies, and cooks does make a difference.

John did happen to walk in just as I was pulling down my shirt the other day.  "Mom, wow, you are so beautiful."  He just might be my favorite.

This is likely the last biological Anderson.  Chris brought it up the other night and I found myself agreeing with him.  Which makes me a bit sad that I have not been more joyful about this pregnancy.  It also makes me a bit sad that the being pregnant portion of my life is nearing an end.  We (Chris) decided that since I am already on the table anyway that getting a tubal ligation would be simpler than the other options.  He is right but there is a part of that that makes me feel sad too.

But with a little over 80 days to go until we find out if another boy or our first girl joins Team Anderson I need to get it together.  The list making has begun.  A list of meals to make ahead.  A list of nesting projects I want done.   A list of people to call, text, or Facebook.  And a list of names to consider and ones that are not happening (no Joshua, sorry Chris).

I hate to wish the time away but I would be okay with a fast forward in this case.  Praying for no complications, easy baby, and quick healing.

And so ends the prattle.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

For my namesake

She has really done it this time.  My sister (your mom) has done some whoppers in life.  Pushing me out the garage window, tying me up and putting me in a closet, luring me to climb a tree with the ladder only to take it away...just to name a few.  But this time she has REALLY done it.  She went and named you after me. Me!

Lydia Suzanne.  It is a beautiful name that goes with an equally beautiful baby.  You are, you know, beautiful. {And I am sure you will be brilliant because your parents are.}  I'm not entirely sure that your Mama had all her faculties about her when she named you.  It did take a long while for you to decide to make your debut into this cold, bright, loud world.  If she had, she may have remembered there is a lot of baggage that goes with the name Suzanne.  Baggage I will talk to you about as you grow older.  Baggage I hope to help you avoid.

We won't go into it here.  It will shared in moments we get to share together, just you and me.  When I can sneak you away from your protective brothers, loving grandparents, and all the other entourage that will inevitably follow you.

I had special times with the aunt I am named after.  They were some of my most treasured childhood memories.  Unfortunately, that namesake did not turn out to provide the best modelling.  I promise to work hard to do better.  I am not a perfect woman.  I am an extremely talented sinner who bristles at correction but I promise to learn those lessons so I can share them with you.

With all my love and joy,
Auntie Suzanne

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dearest Elijah: Hard Things

Hey Buddy!  Whew!  What a week we endured last week.  I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but we did it.

Sometimes Mom has to make you do hard things.  It doesn't mean I don't love you or that I hate you as you suggested.  (Don't worry I knew it was the fear talking.)  I just means that I love you enough to push you outside of your comfort zone.  That's where God really gets to use you and where you really get to see the truth of the Bible in action.

I get it.  Really.  I do.  Mom hates doing new things with new people in new places too.  It makes my stomach hurt, my head ache, and all sorts of horrible things pop into my head.  It makes me irritable.  It makes me emotional.  It makes me plain mean sometimes.

We are a lot alike in this way. Sorry you got stuck with that trait of mine.

But we both survived.  You had fun at your team building activity on Monday with the strangers who are to be your classmates.  You thrived in your first week of school.  You even managed to do all the right things at your football game without Daddy on the field with you.

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"  You carried that verse with you last week along with the example of Moses who had to do hard things too, even though he didn't want to.

I know there are loads of hard things yet to come.  We will endure those too.

I love you, Elijah Christopher!
Your blessed Mom

Friday, August 16, 2013

Saying 'I Do' again....

A really long time ago my good friend Kristin and I were discussing our wonderful husbands.  She declared, "I can think of 10 different weddings I'd like to have with that man."  We giggled at the thought.

This week marks the 14th year of wedded matrimony for Chris and me.  And, truly, I would marry him again in a heart beat.  Not because I would do a whole slew of things differently but because he is greater these days than he was in those days.  (And I sure thought he was great back then).

1.  Christmas wedding at the Methodist church in Lead.  It has red carpet and a beautiful stain glass window at the front.  Plus decorating and food choices would be easy.

2.  A morning wedding with breakfast food and donuts instead of cake.  We Anderson's love our donuts and this takes "Special Day donuts" to a whole new level.

3.  Beach wedding in a warm place when it is cold in SD/MN/IA.  Um....I can feel the warm sand now.

4.  The surprise wedding.  Wouldn't it be a ton of fun to invite people to a beautiful spot and then....surprise we're having a wedding.  I think it would be fun.

5.  Getting married at the Our Savior's Lutheran in Sioux Falls.  It is the church my Grandma Louise attends and where my parents, aunts and cousin were all married.

6.  The candle light wedding in winter.

One of my all time the apple orchard with Elijah and 3 month old John.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Expectant Waiting

To get into the habit I started bringing my phone to bed with me last week.  I didn't expect it to ring.  Let's get real, this is her first baby.  First babies never come early.

My phone rang at 6:00 am this morning.  "Whatcha' doing?"  My very cheerful sister asked.  "Just hangin' out," I replied. 

Her water had broken in the wee hours but contractions hadn't really started yet.  Summoned to the hospital since it had been more than four hours the boys and I packed up quickly and headed over to the Patterson place.

We have been hanging out all day.  The six boys and I.  Waiting.  Expectantly.  I have answered the occasional question from a curious nephew.  "What time do we get to go to the hospital?"   "How many more minutes until the baby is born?"  They are so sweet, those nephews of mine.

The last update had her half way there and resting after some medical intervention.  I'll keep praying.  And expectantly waiting.

The benefit of being at my sis' is I have access to her pictures. Isn't she beautiful?!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For.... sister, because I love her. mother, because I miss her.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pieces of My Heart

I first experienced little pieces of my heart walking around in the world in 2005.  It was a shocking experience.  Never before had emotions been so real or raw.  We decided to do it again and in 2008 another piece of my heart entered the world.  Then in 2011 a third piece of my heart began running around.  

In those 7 years the pieces of my heart have had to deal with rejection, hurt feelings at the hands of other kids and adults, anxiety about moving, anxiety about school, and just plain ole' anxiety (they are parts of my heart after all).  They have sung a happy song, giggled until their sides hurt, questioned, loved, and grown.

An now, in December, another piece of my heart will join the world.  Sometimes I shudder to think what these pieces will face in a world so devoid of Christ but I pray all the harder that these pieces of my heart will shine all the brighter; to be a beacon for others to see the love of God for the man.

Biggest brother, bigger brother, and soon-to-be big brother

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why We Love FCA Camp

Every June we get the privilege of helping out at the Northern Hills FCA Camp.  This year was a bit different for both Chris and I.  He served as the head coach for the cross country kids and I pitched in to help with the 30 coach's kids.  For both of us it was a growing experience.  The big boys look forward to this week all year long.  "How long until FCA camp?", usually begins in January!  Here are a few reasons why the cross state driving, dorm living, & cafeteria eating are all worth it.

1.  Elijah loves the freedom.  He gets to pick his own food, which he proudly carries back to a table of friends.  This year he and John stayed in their very own room!

2.  We get to see our "camp" friends from Canada, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.

3.  On Monday, the campers are tentative about openly worshiping the Lord but by Friday there is true worship happening.

4.  Gut Check, the Friday tradition of 22 difficult exercises.  Elijah has done it two years in a row and this year a few buddies joined him.  Chris is always the major cheerleader for the adult/coaches group which always makes my heart smile.

5.  I don't have to cook for a week and John can eat cheese pizza and biscuits and gravy every day.

6.  We get to see the Grandparents and do fun things with them too!  Bonus!

7.  God grows us every year we are there.

8.  There are many hands and eyes to watch the kids (mine are usually in three different places).

Our favorite picnic and run around rest area in Chamberlain.

Who doesn't like a 4-wheeler ride with Dad?

And who doesn't like shooting guns?

I take the same picture on the same bridge every year.  Daniel was too busy to smile.

Getting ready to put on a show for the Mom's.  Go John!

Gut Check!  Go Elijah!

And by the end, we are all open mouth sleepy too!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blowing It

This last week might go down as my worst week of being a mother.  Ever.  Being the full-time disciplinarian does not play to my strengths.  And as we enter a season on childrearing that involves a somewhat huffy seven year-old, a five year-old who likes to yell at me, and an 18 month-old who screams his head off when things don't go his way, I don't see things getting easier.

Monday really brought in a spirit of defeat for me after having my darling blue-eyed boy yell at me each time I told him no.  By 7:00 and 20 yelling incidents, I succumbed to the sin within me and yelled right back.  Loud.  Mean.  As I carried him down the hall listening to him yell, "You are the meanest mom ever!",  my heart broke and we both crumpled to the floor in tears.  Rocking back and forth saying, "I love you" over and over and praying in my heart for forgiveness I felt so defeated.  My dear boy looked up at me, "I love you too."

Tuesday we were chugging along in the van when my brown-eyed big boy launched into a confession.  "You know how I sometimes act crazy and loud?  I do it on purpose."  What!  My compliant, rule follower being naughty on purpose.  "I just feel like I need to do something to get your attention, even if it means you are going to give me a talking to."  Oh, man!  The return of defeat.

The rest of the week did not get much better.  My dearly beloved left on Thursday for four days and it rained a lot while he was gone (i.e. we had to stay cooped up inside).

But what's a Mom to do?  I don't want to be "that" mom.  The one who yells and can't figure out why her kids don't listen.  I don't think the answer is in a parenting book.  I feel very strongly, down in my bones, that the solution comes in prayer.  This week showed me once again I can not do this alone.  I cannot!  So, I dug out the very nice prayer journal I received from the pastor's wife after Daniel was born and have begun to meditate and think on the scriptures my boys need me to pray into their lives.  And I have begun to really take seriously the practice of seeking His presence in every moment.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Girls

Last night I attended the visitation for my great-uncle Arliegh.  He passed away this past weekend at the ripe age of 96.  I'm not big on funerals (I cry too much) so the visitation seems less daunting plus I only had to bring one darling instead of three.

It so happened that my beautiful sister and her husband were also attending.  At events such as this, when dealing with life long residents of an area, there are always people who know me but I have no clue who they are.  We stood by Grandma Pearl and made conversation while different people came up and said hello.  "Oh, you are the girls!"  was heard more than once.  The one that nearly broke me was,  "Oh, you are Peggy's girls."

We are Peggy's girls.  For as long as I can remember, Grandma has introduced or reintroduced us a the girls.  My aunts called us the girls.  Old teachers called us the girls.  It was who we were.  I certainly don't mind being lumped together with my beautiful sister.

Plus calling us the girls gets Grandma off the hook for remembering our names.  I am sure she curses my parents for giving us both S names.  :-)

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Little Perspective

I see a green five gallon bucket.....Daniel sees a fun time of splish-splash

I see a stick.....John sees a sword, a gun, a light saber...a bow and arrow....

I see a tree.....Elijah sees a chance to see how far he can climb

I see a ball...Daniel sees a game of fetch with himself

I see a mess...the boys see the most fun they have ever had, ever.

I see peanut butter and honey (again)....John sees a gourmet lunch

I see a pile of dirty laundry....the boys see great outdoor adventures from the backyard

Sometimes, I need a little shift in my perspective.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Thief of Joy

"Comparison is the thief of joy"  so sayeth Teddy Roosevelt or Dwight Edwards (depending on your Internet source).  As a girl who strives to look for the bright side of things I am struck by how often I rob myself and others of joy by comparing.  Most often I compare in my head, as I drive, talk, interact with the world.  I check off how my hair is not as good as hers.  How my outfit is definitely not the latest trend like hers.  How my van doors require muscle instead of magic.  How my home is not nearly as Pottery Barn as that one.  How my kids behave better than those but not nearly as respectfully as those.  And on it goes.

God has a word for it.  Sin.  This past Sunday Pastor Randy continued his sermon on the seven woes. In Matthew 23, Jesus warns the Pharisees of their utter blindness to their sin.  On Sunday Pastor Randy looked out to the congregation and asked, "What are your blind spots "  I said a quick prayer right there and went on with the business of trying to keep John quiet and Elijah from staring behind him.

And then, "Comparison is the thief of joy" kept ringing in my ears.  Comparing is my blind spot.  I do it so often, we all do, that is has become expected, normal, part of the culture.  "It's just who I am and God made me."  

Except that it is not.  God desires us all to have joy, which is only complete in Him.  When I waste time comparing/coveting/whining I am robbing myself of the joy of contentment and celebrating all the blessings God has given me.  This is a slap in the face of a God who has given me more than I deserve.  Ouch!

Paul instructs us in Hebrews, "Keep your lives free from the love of money {or hair styles, or clothes or cars or behavior of children) and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrew 13:5

I don't have a tidy ending here.  Just my observations and confession and prayer for improvement.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What makes a miracle?

There is a lot of talk of miracles around these parts lately.  Mostly due to the fact that my dearly beloved, beautiful sister is with child.  Once a doctor told her and her knight in shining armor that being with child would not ever happen for them.  EVER, or at least not until they were 100 years old (literally).

Is her pregnancy a miracle?  Yes.  {I love God, who can do any thing, at any time and laughs in the face of those who say, "Never."}  I am not diminishing the awesomeness of  this little baby but....

I also happen to believe that the three little people on Shebal Avenue and three little people living at my house are miracles too.  All placed in our family to teach us, stretch us, and refine us.

I believe I am a miracle.  I came along 10 months after my sister and nearly killed my mom in the process.  By the statistics I should be a smoker and a drinker.  I should have been a pregnant teenager who dropped out of college.  But I am not those things, because God is a God of miracles.  He snatched me up out of more trouble than anyone will ever know. And I am so thankful that He counted me worth it.

Spring is a miracle.  The trees grow leaves.  The grass turns green.  Flowers spring up out of the ground.  All because God told them too.  And then ice comes, snow falls, branches crumble but none of them damage our house.

But the best and biggest miracle of all is that the Holy Spirit lives in me, in my beautiful sister, in my husband, and my brother in law, in Elijah and prayerfully in all those other little people (and big people) we shepard each day.  It takes a miracle for our eyes to be opened, our hearts to receive and our lives to be transformed into one who follows hard after Jesus.

So, what makes a miracle a miracle?  When God reaches down from Heaven and touches a life.  When God perfectly forms a baby.  When the unexpected happens, with no other possible explanation.

Bringing up Grandma

I keep looking for the book that will explain, in simple terms, how it is I am to raise my Grandma.  I know she is already a grown woman but many times she feels like another child I am sheparding through life.  I get to raise her with my beautiful sister, who truly does most of the hard work.

It is an interesting mix of gentle voices, honest pleas, and straight up demanding.  Grandma called on Thursday night to tell me her TV wasn't working.  Again.  We have been dealing with the saga of the TV for no less than 8 weeks now.  For whatever reason she had cable in her old apartment but no such luck in the new one.  So she was left with a digital tuner, antenna and two remotes.

This was just too much.  Used to routine, the two remotes caused many a late night phone call for help.  A couple of weeks ago, my darling man went out and bought her a new digital TV.  He connected it while Grandma marveled at how slim it was.  Her old TV weighed more than all my children put together!  One remote....problem solved.

No such luck!  The terrible ice storm, wind, rain, clouds, a passing truck all mess with her reception.  Phone calls ensue.  I understand.  When you are 87 and live alone.  TV is all you have to fill the quietness that surrounds you.  Being alone with your thoughts can be dangerous when you have lost a husband, three daughters and feel slightly abandoned by your other grandchildren and friends.

So, back to Thursday night.  With as much gentleness and honestly as I could muster at 5:30 I told Grandma it was time to look into paying for cable so she would not have to worry about if the TV would work.  She agreed and I got on the phone to set it up.  She got on the phone too and then called me back later, after having run the plan by at least 2 friends to make sure it was the right choice.  "It's too expensive.  Laura said it was $70.  Another friend said I just need to program the TV and then it will work."  The straight up demanding voice came out as I set things straight on the cost and the problem.  The next morning we had cable installed and so far I haven't had any phone calls about problems.

 I am sure a new problem will arise soon enough.  Prayerfully that book will come out soon so I can know what I am supposed to be doing!

Saturday, April 13, 2013


God uses anything and everything to bring up areas that need addressing in my life.  Like a three day weather event.

I have some issues with dependence.  I am a "I'll do it myself" kind of girl.  A lesson I learned early in life it has usually served me well.  Except it makes leaning on God difficult.  If I can do it myself I have no use for a Savior.  In most areas of my spiritual life I have been "healed" when it comes to dependence (mostly through really hard lessons).  This week, however, I needed to learn that depending on someone else is okay too.
Front Tree on Wednesday Morning
 Rain on Tuesday quickly turned to ice and led to creaking and cracking and eventually, falling branches.  It was eerie to hear falling limbs and no knowing if it was coming for the roof or the neighbors.  At 10:00 pm on Tuesday night a huge thunk brought Chris and I racing up the stairs.  A large limb had landed on the deck.  We started praying for the Lord's protection over our house.
Large branch that fell on the deck
Chris had to head out of town on Wednesday morning so I was going to be on my own.  "If we can keep electricity I can do it" I told myself.   We lost electricity when a branch fell on the power line and sparked a smoldering fire that our neighbor happened to see.  So much for being able to do it myself.  Wednesday morning dawned dark and heavy and a mere 66 degrees in the house.  Donning sweatshirts and extra socks we ate breakfast, cleared the driveway and figured out how to get the garage door open.  Then I called my sister.
Front tree on Thursday morning.  Poor poor tree.
I packed a few items for "just in case" but in my head I was still certain we would be back home by that night. Two nights and three days later we returned to a warm house.

Depending on my sister for shelter, food, and company was hard for me.  I never want to be a mooch.  She offered to help me clear the driveway but I did it myself so she wouldn't have to.  Depending on help cleaning up the destruction is hard for me.  I never want to put people out.  Thanks to a "bored" neighbor the front yard is all cleaned up and me Dad is coming during nap time so we can tackle the back yard.
Thanks Adam for cutting and cleaning up!

Cleaning up this mess in the backyard with my Dad's help
Depending on someone else is not a bad thing.  Living a communal life with my sister for three days showed me that we all need the help of someone else.  And it is wonderful to accept the help of someone else with nothing else to give in return but a simple Thank You.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear John

Oh buddy, I cannot tell you how proud I am of you.  I cannot express with enough enthusiasm the delight you bring me.

Thanks for sticking by me this "school"year.  I know you got the short end of the stick when it came to preschool teachers (teacher is a term used loosely here).  I knew we were in for quite the ride when you cried in frustration the first day because, "Drawing lines is sooooo hard!"

But you did it!  After two months you asked if we could step it up and do two letters a month, because "one is just too boring."  We finished the alphabet in no time.  And you went from not really recognizing your letters at all to knowing them and their sounds (most of the time depending on the time of day).  Then you really wowed me when I asked to to randomly sound out a word.  You did it!  R-A-T = Rat you said with confidence.  You have even begun to write words.  "How do you spell ______?"  You like to ask and then you set out writing a word.

You aimed high with your first writing request: Robot.

We are still working on those pesky numbers but we're getting there.  The truth is, Mom isn't so great at those numbers either.  But Dad was most impressed with the Math "test" you took this week.  Adding smiles, circles, and triangles was easy for you (I already knew you were good at that since we practice in the car).

I didn't give you nearly enough credit.  You hide your intelligence behind silliness and wiggles.  You taught me that school doesn't always have to be done at the table.  Sometimes it works better on the floor, or the store, or outside.  You taught me to slow down and celebrate the learning along the way.  If I ever go back to teaching I am certain I will be better at it because of all you have taught me.

Kindergarten is quickly approaching.  You waffle on whether it is a good idea for you to go or not.  The truth is, so does Mommy. I know you now, how you process, learn and figure things out.  I think in the end, kindergarten is going to be a great launching pad for you to show the world (or at least your class) how brilliant you really are, under all that silliness and wiggling.

I love you, John-John!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Starting Young

We start chores at a young age around here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Hearing" from Mom

While digging for John's birth certificate this week so we could sign him up for Kindergarten I came across a note my mom gave me the day I got married.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Loosing your mom is not an easy thing at any age. I have several friends some older and some younger who are in the thick of caring for mom's with memory issues, cancer, and just plain old age.

It is the notes like this and other random things that I find or God puts in my path that make it a bit easier to swallow, because I need to "hear" her voice and remember our life together.  She was a pill sometimes (probably where I inherited my pilliness from) but I miss her everyday.

"This will be the last chance I have to tell you what I need to.  The last chance with all the wedding festivities going on to let you know how I feel.  The last time....
         You'll be my baby only
         I can stroke your hair and rub your back    {This was my favorite after a rough day}
         I will have one of those ever so wonderful hugs that only you can give me
        Share tears and fears of our days and future talks
        Get mad at you for not doing something my way!
        Give you a toe adjustment
         Smile when you're not looking because I am so proud of you

Thanks for being here this summer.  Dale feels the same way, you kept me sane while he has been gone so much, my work has been poopy,and we really had a chance to get to know each other all over again.  I am so thankful for that.  You are a strong, independent person that is so happy and I am so proud of you.  That's all I ever wanted for you and have tried to show you to do and to be.  Be proud of yourself and happy with yourself - then you can give all that to someone else, your husband.

I might be giving you to Chris but I will never actually "give" you to anyone.  You're only out on "loan" on the share program ( for details read the fine print!).  You'll always be my Suzybaby, and my Sunshine....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lesson Learned in Mexico: New sisters

One of my prayers before I left for Mexico is that I would be bold.  You see, I am not so great at talking to people I don't know.  In fact, I kind of hate it.  I also get really anxious in new, unfamiliar situations.

God threw a test at me right away.  When we got our rooming assignments in Petlapixca I was paired with our Mexican translator, Nancy.  As everyone else went off to their homes on the left, my guide led Nancy and I to the right.  Far to the right.  To the edge of town.   To the far edge of town.

"Great, I'm going to get kidnapped and no one will even know.  I am stuck with a girl I don't know, with a family that doesn't speak English."  Ashamedly, those were my first thoughts.  Then things got worse in my mind.  Nancy informed me she was only staying one night.  "Great, I'm going to be way out here on the edge of town all by myself."

"Lord, make me bold!"  That had been my prayer and I was already cowering in fear and anxiousness.  Augh!  Sometimes I want to kick myself.

As it turns out, as always, God knew exactly what He was doing.  He calmed me down and revealed He has some work for me to do with Nancy.  She is a new believer in a family that does not understand why being Catholic (by culture not practice) isn't enough for her.  Our one morning together was full of joy when we discovered we had the same devotion book.  Hers in Spanish and mine in English.  We read together, opened our Bibles and discussed translations and what words meant.  We discussed seeking the Lord's will.  Nancy is considered an "old maid" in Mexican culture.  At the ripe age of 20 something she feels she will never find someone, especially now that her standards are so much higher.  I told her a little bit of my story and we discussed the testimony I had shared the night before.  When she departed that night, Nancy and I hugged and she shared that she felt like we were sisters.

The next two nights I was privileged to share a room with our other Mexican translator, Yuni.  Yuni is a young mom of two.  She and her husband are teachers and just bought (and finished paying for) their first house.  Yuni was in awe of the fact that I had left my "babies" for 9 days to come help in Mexico.  "I live 40 minutes from here but I would never have thought to come if Calixto hadn't begged me,"  she confessed.  We discussed how blessed we were to have all that we have and how we have to constantly thank the Lord for all He has given us.  She gave me such fresh perspective on blessings and prayer.  Yuni and I talked and giggled late into the night, like sisters.  The last time I saw her before we departed she promised she would pray for me and somehow that makes my soul feel full.

The last two nights Meghan moved in with me.  Since there were four group members in the same house our team leader moved Meghan over to be with me.  {A team rule is that all team members have a partner, so no one is ever alone.  If I had read the handbook I probably would have known that and saved myself some trouble.}  Meghan's parents go to our church but Meghan serves the Lord in as a missionary in Costa Rica.  She is the most gregarious, loving young woman.  We talked a lot about seeking the Lord's will and being faithful even when it is hard.  One of the greatest parts of this trip is my new friendship with Meghan.

Three new sisters a half a world away all connected by the same love for God.

Yuni leading prayer for a young mom at the clinic.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wealth and Poverty: Lessons Learned in Mexico

"I feel like God is taking us on a journey of progressive poverty."  I said to my new buddy Emily.  She nodded as we looked over the playing children; in their same clothes from two days ago.

When we landed in Mexico City it was dark so my only sense of the place came through smell.  It was horrible.  Open sewer lines ran next to the main highway, yuck.  We arrived at our place of lodging for the night and I was shocked to find out the toilet was outside, on the patio.  The morning light showed dirty streets and dogs everywhere.

We traveled a winding road for eight hours to enter Tamazanchule.  Leaning buildings and cement homes greeted us.

We traveled a winding road that turned into a dirt path to enter Petlapixca.  Children without clothes gawked out the doorways, chickens ran everywhere, and bathrooms were outhouses and showers came from a bucket.

Poor, yes, by American standards.  Cell phones, well, any phone are not a part of life in Petlapixca.  Washing machines are the hard-worked hands of the women.  Ovens are made of clay and they produce the most delicious bread ever.  Most people have a couple of outfits and eat mostly beans and rice and corn tortillas.

You would call them poor.

I would not.

On Sunday, in Tamazanchule, the church celebrated their pastor's birthday with a special celebration.  This was my first glimpse at their wealth.  The believers at this church love God and they show it with exuberant worship and fervent prayers. In Mexico, when the pastor prays everyone prays.  Out loud.  At the same time.  It is a beautiful cacophony of sound.

In Petlapixca the people are very quiet and shy but I have never felt so welcomed.  They were grateful for my presence, for me.  I hardly think that is right considering they gave me so much more than I gave them. When asked what the women wanted a sweet elder woman of the village spoke up, "I want to walk closer with God each day."  I was amazed.  In a place where there are so many needs that was not what I was expecting.  Asking that question of an American woman would have resulted in a laundry list of desires.
But here, life is what it is and rather than pining to change it they accept it and seek the Lord.

 At the conclusion of a women's teaching led by a team member one of our translators, Yuni, felt led to have the women of Petlapixca pray for the American women.  (Yuni was awestruck that we would leave our families and our children to come and serve in Mexico.) We gathered in a circle and these quiet, reserved women laid hands on us.  They raised their prayers to Heaven and I felt the Holy Spirit among us.  The following night we got the opportunity to return the favor and pray over those who came forward at the end of the service.  A sweet cacophony of prayers, rising to Heaven.

These people get it.  They have the hope of glory.  They know the secret to being content in every and any situation....Christ in us. And is Christ ever in them.

They are wealthy, we are poor.  The one thing I pray I take with me all the rest of my days is a deep desire to have a wealth of spirit like theirs.  One that desires treasures in Heaven not on Earth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A note and a testimony

I know it is expected that I blog about my experience in Mexico, and I will, but not yet.  I'm not through relishing, processing, and learning yet.  Instead I am going to post the testimony I was privileged to share with the church at Petlapixca (pet-la-peesh-ka) on Sunday night.
 Calixto, our team leader, assigned (I love assignments) us each to write our testimony, focusing on how we met Jesus and his changing influence on our lives.  We were also to include a concrete example of someway the Lord has worked in our life recently.

            Growing up I always felt like something was missing in my life but I could never quite figure out what it was.  In college this feeling grew into a state of constant worry and anxiety.  In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  When I met Jesus at a retreat in 1998 I was ready for some rest.
            I had gone on the retreat more to be with friends than anything else.  But, when I heard the speaker talking about Jesus taking my burdens and how all my sin could be forgiven if I would repent, my heart was touched.  Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  I confessed my sin, asked for forgiveness and asked that Jesus be the Lord of my life. 
            Since that time God has brought me on a journey of daily casting my anxieties onto him.  Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to pray continually and in his letter to the Philippians he instructs, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (5:6-7). God uses my anxieties to teach me to rely on Him more, to love Him more, to seek more of Him.  As Jesus said in Matthew, to get rest in Him.
            A huge test of my faith came last year when my husband had a stroke and had to have heart surgery.  I felt myself slipping into a pit of worry and despair when God brought Paul’s words to the Philippians to my mind.  We had just brought home our third son, and I felt very overwhelmed with the thought of losing my husband.  So, minute by minute I prayed my honest anxieties to God.  Day by day God brought me strength and peace; a peace that was beyond what I could have received from any person.  It was a peace in my heart.  Praise the Lord, my husband came through heart surgery just fine, and God proved once again that He alone can handle our burdens.
Every day I have to set my mind on Christ. And sometimes each moment I have to turn my anxieties into prayers.  Because I know “… the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you ….”  2 Thessalonians 3:3.

The view from my host families home.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dearest Elijah

I am so proud of you!  I always have been but the last two weeks have been especially proud moment filled. Earlier this Fall your teacher suggested we consider the advanced program for you.  It would involve testing and some rigmarole   When Daddy and I pitched the idea to you; you shrugged your shoulders and said, "Sure."  So off you went to a room with a stranger to answer questions for an hour.  A year ago, there is no way you would have done that.

Those test results confirmed what Daddy and I have known since, well, always.  You are brilliant.  I had an inkling of this when you insisted on reading all of the books on the bookshelf at the ripe age of 10 months.  You would grab a book, sit on a lap and turn pages, then return the book and grab another.  Now you read a whole chapter book in a day, by yourself.  When I can't find you, I know you are sitting at your desk, reading away.

Tao Kwan Do also makes me incredibly proud.  You tested last night and I am amazed at how much you have to remember!  You are only 7 and everyone there was older than you but there you were, in front of the judges kicking and punching and blocking and taking down with the big guys.  I know you were disappointed that you didn't break your board but man I got tears just seeing how brave and determined you were!

I love you more than the words in the heart can express.  I am so blessed to be your Mama!
You bring me great joy.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Adding Iron

At Daniel's one year check-up they did an iron blood test.  Apparently iron deficiency is rampant in our population or the doctor just wants me to feel badly about another area of my mothering.

I totally expected everything to be peachy but got a call from the nurse informing me that Daniel was "borderline" coming in at a 10.6 (don't ask, I don't know either).  Treatment starts at 10.9.  I politely asked what I needed to do.  She suggested more steak and green leafy vegetables. While Daniel is a great eater he is more of a graham cracker boy and less of a green leafy vegetable boy, unless I hide spinach in his blueberry smoothie.

So I have begun a quest to find iron rich foods.  His beloved graham crackers have 6% of the recommended daily intake of iron.  Thank the Lord I don't have to take those away, we would never get a cooked dinner again since those little treats buy me cooking time without him hanging on my pants.

My beautiful sister, the adored Aunt Sara gave me the secret recipe for "Secret Brownies".  Made with black beans and sugar and cocoa and peppermint, these babies pack an iron punch of 15%!  John thought we were crazy when we dumped all the ingredients in the blender.  "This is going to be gross!"  he shared but I proved I think the evidence below tells a different story.

PS... Daniel's favorite cereal, Frosted Mini Wheats, has 90% of the recommended daily intake so I think we are safe.