Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rannygahoots Top Five

The most-viewed posts here at Rannygahoots have nearly nothing in common. I suppose that's true because this blog doesn't center around any one topic - it changes as frequently as the thoughts that enter my chaotic mind. 

I present to you Rannyaghoots Top Five Countdown...

5. Where Was God
...When I first read about it, the words Elementary School echoed through my brain. Little kids. Little, innocent kids. My heart and soul ached for the parents who would return home without a child, or perhaps two. They ached for the survivors, the witnesses, those who have to carry on in the face of the unimaginable.

Yet there it was again. Facebook posts and voices on the tv and radio questioning where God was during this horrific event. Why God didn't stop it. How God could have let it happen.
Where was God?
God was...
4. A Most Upsetting Thing 

... Alia was taken aback. TWO moms. Now, don't get me wrong, she knows that families come in all shapes and sizes. She knows families in all shapes and sizes. The thing is, she never thought about the ramifications of having two moms before. The more she thought about it, the more she got upset. Finally, she came to me and expressed how wrong it is. Not how wrong it was that A has two moms, but...
3. Not Just Arthritis 
... So when I say, "I have Psoriatic Arthritis," what I'm saying is, I have a debilitating and sometimes disabling disease the affects every joint in my body, as well as soft and connective tissues, and often makes me feel as if I've been hit by a bus before I even get out of bed in the morning.

It doesn't mean that I'm not an effective parent, caregiver, or friend. It just means I have more tricks up my sleeve than the average person and have more time on my hands for reading, talking, singing, and being silly.

It doesn't mean I'm a miserable, unhappy person. It means that...
2. Mother 
On the corner of the street I grew up on lives a treasure trove of memories...

What's your favorite Rannygahoots post?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Expecting Happily Ever Afters

Once upon a time life was good, then there were bumps along the way that were terrible and horrible and caused great misery, but in the end led to only good things, and they lived happily ever after. And so the fairy tale goes.

Once upon a time a child was born and that child's parents had great expectations for that child. A good life, college, going on to become a doctor or lawyer or something greater that what their parents had accomplished - all goodness and joy and very few bumps along the way - all leading up to a happily ever after. And so the story usually goes.

Once upon a time a child was born and that child's parents were excited to see what that child's passions would be and where life would take that child. The parents knew the road through life wouldn't be smooth for this child, so nurtured in the child a sense of worth, a sense of humor, and a resilient spirit to help along the way. This is the story in which I believe.

I never had any, or at least not many. Expectations for my kids, that is. I never expected my children to be a certain way or do specific things or become anything in particular. I never had a vision of when-he-grows-up-he's-going-to-be. I've never uttered why-can't-you-act-more-like or I-wish-you-could-be-more-like . Perfect children were not on my radar. For that matter, normal children were not on my radar. How could they be, with the not-so-normal and definitely-not-perfect parents they received?

Reading a lot of parenting type blogs lately, including blogs by parents of kids on the spectrum and kids diagnosed with chronic illness, a common theme seems to be a sense of loss upon diagnosis - even that their child is now somehow completely different from the child they'd birthed or adopted. There are a lot of he-was-supposed-to-be's or she-should-have-been's. The parents' hopes dashed, dreams unrealized. It must be heart-breaking for the parents, who love their children so enormously and wish such great things for them. 

My expectations of all my children - my hopes and dreams for them - have never been very specific. I hope they live lives full of joy and laughter and fulfillment, following their passions, feeding their spirits, adding light to the world and meeting life's obstacles with faith and hope. I expect that each of these things will look different for each child - and that each child will have their challenges along the way. Perhaps it's this perspective that has served me well through various diagnoses my children have received.

I have two children with Aspergers - our oldest son, age 14, and our youngest son, age 7. My middle son has clinical depression and my eldest daughter has joint issues. Their diagnoses didn't make me look at them any differently. Understand them better, yes - but love or value them any differently, not at all. They are the same kids I birthed. The same kids I've raised for the past however-many years. Kids with the same futures ahead of them that they had  before they were born. Whatever they choose to do in life is good with me. 

Can we as a society stop putting greater value on being perfect, on higher paying jobs and futures full of wealth, and realize that the guy who drives the garbage truck is just as valuable in someone's life as the doctor who gave the autism diagnosis or the mom who pours her heart into her kids and into changing the world? (If you haven't already, head over to Chrissy Kelly's world changing blog, Life with Greyson and Parker, and meet her beautiful family and their friend Frank.) 

Perhaps if parents who want the best for their children saw the best as whatever is going to bring joy and fulfillment to the child's life, the world would be a less stressful place for both the parent and the child. Perhaps if parents would wait with excitement to see what our children become, and support them in their dreams along the way, our children's lives would be easier. 

So how do happily-ever-afters happen? They come with perspective; with understanding; with love; without expectations that happily-ever-afters come only with good things. They happen with mistakes and lessons learned; with triumphs over hardships. They come with giving of ourselves.

Happily-ever-afters come to those who can find joy amidst the chaos, who can see grace through anguish, who can embrace forgiveness and live love. To those who transform doubts into successes and use stumbling blocks as stepping stones. 

To give our kids the opportunity for happily-ever-afters, we need to first nurture in them love, joy, forgiveness, grace.

Once upon a time, I grew up, had a nervous breakdown, dropped out of college, felt like a complete failure, worked at various mind-numbing jobs, got married, grew up a little more, had children, and became what I'd wanted to be my entire life - a mother, a caregiver, a volunteer, a homeschool teacher - and something I didn't plan so much on - disabled. Not what my parents had envisioned for me - and for years I felt like I'd still failed because I didn't meet what I perceived as their expectations. Yet I came out on the other side fulfilled, and with a perspective on life that has served me well. Exactly where I need to be, want to be, and am supposed to be - just not where I or anyone else expected.

And I live joyfully ever after.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

And Then ...

And then the phone rang. I instantly recognized my hepatologist's voice. My emotions ran for cover, my heart sinking and my spirit rejoicing, as I realized a diagnosis was most likely at the other end of the line. Answers are good, but I knew the news would most likely not be of the good variety. 

And so it goes.

After going over blood test and biopsy results, he uttered the two words that will forever be a part of my life: autoimmune hepatitis. A diagnosis. An answer that brought with it more than a handful of questions. He took his time, addressing each of my questions and concerns. 

Recommended treatment includes Prednisone in combination with Azathioprine. Pred and I don't have a very good relationship, as he makes me very grumpy. Ok, very grumpy is an enormous understatement. Just ask my husband.

That I'm on Remicade may be my saving grace in all of this. With autoimmune hepatitis, my liver enzymes should be elevated - and they were until my increased dose of Remicade. Now they're NORMAL. This may indicate that Remi alone is successfully treating my autoimmune hepatitis, and that it isn't the cause of my autoimmune hepatitis, so we'll see what happens on just Remicade for the next few months until considering adding my friend Pred to the mix.

So much information to absorb and process. I'm not quite sure what I'm feeling right now. Relieved for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Scared about what this diagnosis means for me, and the ramifications of the medications I may need to take as part of my treatment.

I will journey forward in faith that God will help me through whatever it is to come. Or as the song says, 
"With Christ as my vessel I will smile at the storm ... "

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday or Why I Shouldn't Be a Parent

There's something about Thursdays. My brain isn't quite right Thursdays. Thursday tend to be the day that drag out to no end; when the kids are extra-off-the-wall; when I just want to curl up in bed with a good book and ignore the world. 

There was no ignoring the world this past Thursday ... not with ten kids in the house. Yes, ten. My five, ages 14, 13, 11, 7, and 5. Then a few extra kids, ages 5, 5, 3 (or is he 4 now?), almost-2 and almost-2.

At one point two five year old girls, who were formerly contentedly playing outside, tore through the house with BIG NEWS. They had caught a cricket. They needed to know what type of habitat it needed and what it ate. After some research, they set up a home for him outside in a bucket, so they could "observe him throughout the day to learn more about him," in their own words. They continued playing, but checked up on Crickie and gave me regular updates. Until tragedy struck...

Alia: Mama! Help! There's a bee near the bucket with the cricket in it.
Mama: Then scare it away.
Alia: How do we do that?
Mama: Say "boo!"
Alia: Really?
Mama: Yes. Say "Boo, bee!"

Teenager sitting a few feet away: *snicker*

There was a slight pause and a simultaneous "Mama/Amanda, we can't say that!" 

And so I valiantly went outside to conquer the dreaded bee, which by that time had moved on to bigger and better things. 

That's Thursday, for you. Perhaps I shouldn't be allowed to be a parent - or to entertain other people's children - on Thursdays. Then again, if it wasn't for Thursdays, my kids wouldn't have nearly such an awesome sense of humor.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And So it Goes

It came out of nowhere. I was not prepared for it. I knew the results could be life-changing, but not in such an up-in-the-air and it's-so-much-more-complicated way. Nothing, it seems, is an easy fix when it comes to my health.

I saw my hepatologist (liver doctor) the other day. Somehow between my liver biopsy and my recent appointment, "it's not autoimmune issues and everything else seems fine, but we should go over your results because they're abnormal" turned into "scarring... low platelets... bile ducts involved ... spleen, too ... still could possibly be autoimmune ... we'll try this for six months then reevaluate alcohol, no ibuprofen or other drugs that could be hard on your liver, no air travel until your platelets are higher and you evaluate risk of illness on your overall health ... lose weight ... more exercise."

I was prepared for possible bad news involving treatment of diagnosed liver issues and for being told to continue losing weight to help with the part of the problem already diagnosed. I wasn't prepared for the doctor being unsure of what it all meant, as it didn't add up to anything he's ever seen or for a six month wait before reevaluating. Most of all, being told I may have to stop Remicade - the only thing that's worked on my psoriatic arthritis - and any tnf-inhibitor or similar treatment indefinitely came as a huge shock. I'd been put back ON Remicade after the biopsy because of the results. Stopping PsA treatment would put my entire life on hold.

I spoke with my husband, then my daughter after my appointment. We decided not to risk my health or our money on the trip to Israel unless my lab results miraculously come back normal. The deposit needs to be made now and payment needs to be completed months before we reevaluate - months before I'd be able to figure out whether or not it would be safe for me to travel or if I'd be healthy enough for the trip.

This morning the call came. "You lab work came back and it's normal." My heart skipped a beat. "Are you sure about that?" "Let me double check - it says here, 'no change.'" "That's a lot different that normal, but thank you." I then requested my results be mailed to me, as there were far too many tests done to go over on the phone and my house was a bit too chaotic to take the time.

No change. I go for bloodwork monthly or every two months for six months. I pray things improve. I get better at nourishing my body and exercising. That's the plan.

I also cancel plans, put a dream on hold. Still feeling called to make this journey, Haley and I agree if the opportunity arises to visit the Holy Land again, when my health is better, we'll do whatever it takes to get there. We'll each put aside some money for someday.

For now, we'll focus closer to home. Haley will continue raising money so she can spend an additional week at Camp Calumet Lutheran next Summer. I will continue saving money so our family can travel together to destination-yet-to-be-determined.

And so it goes ... life never quite works out as planned, but that doesn't mean dreams have been dashed and spirits trampled - it means we get to continue dreaming until the day it comes true and let our spirits soar with the possibilities that lie ahead. 

I choose to see this not as a lost opportunity, but an opportunity to keep on dreaming.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Drama Distraction

As I await blood test results from my hepatologist that will decide my fate whilst trying not to google the possible liver issues affecting my life nor obsess over what the probable results mean for my life, I do everything I can think of to distract myself. 

So far I've printed out forms, filled out paperwork, washed the dishes, picked up 127 duplos from the living room floor, read 42 books to children - some of them multiple times, taken a horde of small children out for a walk in the rain, made dinner, watched a movie with my kids, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned up 127 duplos from the living room floor, sorted and folded laundry, put away my clothes, updated my calendar, and uploaded videos from our week at Camp Calumet to youtube. Drama Camp videos. 
So now I present to you a bunch of noble comical Knights and an incredibly adorable bunch of forest animals for your enjoyment...

This being my blog, I feel I can point out that my eldest daughter is one of the Knights (the one that spits on her hands) and my youngest son is the adorable Groundhog. Haley has a passion for drama, and gives up usual camp activities to attend the drama portion of camp. Coren loves drama as well, and Rob and Lorrie Gray of Children's Stage Adventures are wonderful at working with kids of all ages and abilities, including kids with Aspergers like Coren. That they put on a musical play in five days never fails to astound me. 

And so ends day one of distracting myself. I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Twentieth Anniversary

We've known each other for twenty years. Twenty years! It's difficult to believe.

We met in college in 1993, and back then, I never would have guessed that we'd be so close or even still be friends twenty years later. Through depression, health issues, moves, living in different states, living together, and all life has thrown at us in the past twenty years, we've been there for each other. We can tell each other everything and anything, support each other, and aren't afraid to tell each other when we're concerned about each other's choices or wellbeing.

We've known each other longer than we'd been alive when we met. How is that even possible? It can't have been twenty years since two 19 year olds met it a college dorm room. Twenty years since her roommate kicked her out so that my room,ate could move in causing us to be roommates by default. It was one of the best things that happened to either one of us. We quickly became friends - best friends - and have been every since. Through the past twenty rollercoaster years, Renee has been my rock, my shoulder to cry on, the person I can rant to, and my biggest supporter. She has been more family than friend. I can't imagine I've been even half the friend to her as she's been to me. 

We kicked off celebrating our twenty years of friendship at a concert ... outdoors in 90-something degree heat with a 100-something degree heat index. Another adventure to add to shared memories. For Renee, it was fulfillment of a dream older than our friendship. For me, it was a walk down memory lane, as Live's music and my early memories of our friendship are forever intertwined. 

I'm sure this was just one of many new memories we'll make together over the next year and many years to come.

Twenty years ago, I couldn't have imagined that being dumped by our roommates would have planted the seed for a lifelong friendship. I am forever grateful for the beautiful friendship that's blossomed, and that the roots of our friendship run so deep. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rough Road

Dread seeps into every crack in my faith, every chink in the joy in which I wrap myself, every positive thought to which I cling. I suddenly feel unsure of myself, of my life, of my plans, of everything. It weighs down my fingers, making it difficult to type. It slows my mind, wrapping my thoughts in fog, making everything unclear. Is it foreboding or senseless worry? 
I seek silence, but cannot find respite from the what-ifs that waft through my mind as I meditate. 
I pray, but have difficulty stilling my thoughts so I can listen to what God has to tell me.
I seek comfort; feel exhausted; alone.
The weight of it is crushing me. 

I keep busy tending to children, cleaning, cooking, playing, losing myself in the lives of others in a Who Do You Think You Are YouTube marathon. No longer wanting to think, lest I'm overcome again with this horrible feeling, I busy myself instead. 

An end is in sight. Or maybe not. I could leave tomorrow's hepatology appointment with more questions than answers; more possibilities for bad things to come than good. Not having answers to my health issues is agonizing for me. 

Have faith, they say. Don't worry, there's nothing you can do about it anyway, they say. 

I know. I have faith. I try not to worry. My OCD has other ideas. I'd take meds for my OCD when it gets this bad, but they could cause liver issues. And so it goes. 

So I answer the what-ifs with affirmations and live in joy despite the insanity as much as I possibly can. And when I can't, I wrap myself in the comfort of God's love and cry, letting the dread and the doubts and the worry flow from me in a river of sorrowful prayer. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013


The heat is killing me. 

I sit here in my beautifully air-conditioned living room and all I can think about is how the heat is going to do me in. I have a house full of children. Said children usually spend a good portion of their day outside. But it's oppressively hot outside and air quality is low. Our normal daily walk is cut incredibly short, as we're all sweaty and sweltering by the time we reach the end of the driveway. It's pathetic.

It's miserable out there. Miserable out there often translates to miserable in here if we're not careful. I stock up on craft items for just this reason. And board games and puzzles. When all else fails, there are forts to build and a "Cafe Theater" to set up. The kids invented the "Cafe Theater" wherein you set up tables and chairs, make popcorn and other snack foods, turn out the lights, draw the curtains, and watch a family favorite, a movie they haven't seen yet, or videos of our eldest kids as babies or of Mama and Daddy's wedding. 

Today is a housework kind of day. None of us feel like cleaning, but it must be done. As we work, I begin devising a plan for a surprise water attack for the olders during naptime and a fantabulous chili nachos and guacamole Cafe Theater night. Perhaps I'll clean off the breakfast bar and we'll start Puzzlepalooza 2013, complete with a new 1000 piece puzzle and several smaller puzzle for those less adept at fitting pieces together. 

The heat wave fun possibilities are endless. Perhaps the heat isn't so bad after all. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Teen Two

Two teenagers now dwell here. Two. Teenagers. You are encouraged not to remind me that we're less than two years away from having three teens, lest my head explode. 

Last year I listed Twelve awesome things about Zachary for his twelfth birthday. This year, with my being in a state of shock and dismay at my status as mom of two teenagers, I shall list thirteen things I don't like about my newly minted teen.

1. Zachary is growing up too quickly. I have yet to figure out how he does this. It seems like just yesterday he was an adorable seven year old with long, curly hair down past his waist. Now he's nearly as tall as me and is OLD, which makes me feel oldER than I could possibly be. 

2. His wit is quicker than that of his maternal unit. In my opinion, it's due to Sporadic Artie robbing me of brain function, but in reality he's just a really sharp kid with a lightning fast mind. 

3. Zachary has a better shaved head than I do. This is not fair. He of gorgeous hair who decided to shave it off to become a Borg for Halloween has a lovely shaved head. Mine, not so beauteous. 

4. Zachary is sometimes too patient. There are times at which one of his brothers is not using their superpowers for good, and if I were Zachary I'd be putting them in their place post haste. It takes much more to fluster Zachary than it would a typical child - not to mention his mother. Most of the time. 

5. He doesn't make use of his creativity nearly enough. He can spin a wondrously brilliant tale - I wish he'd take the time to write them down. 

6. Zachary doesn't hug his mother nearly enough. I don't know if it's due to getting older or what, but more hugs would definitely be appreciated. He's an excellent hugger. 

7. Zachary makes me work to hard to come up with blog posts because he's getting so darn old. If he were six, I'd be done with this already.

8. And he makes it difficult to come up with things I don't like about him because he's such a great kid. 

9. Zachary is Alia's favorite family member. This would be wonderful, if it weren't for the fact that I'm her Mama and she's my baby and I'm supposed to be her favorite. No fair!

10. He is going to claim the basement room as his own. I understand his need for space, but it would be so much more fun to make it a lounge for the kids so I could banish send them down there to do crafts or watch a movie when I need some me time. But perhaps he'll let me escape down there sometimes when the kids are driving me crazy ... we could hang out there together plotting our escape from this madhouse ... hmmmm...this may have potential after all. 

11. Zack is much too cute, and knows how to use that to his advantage. Who can say no to those beautiful blue eyes, and to such a great kid? Ok, I can ,as he can assure you, but it's not easy!

12. Zachary will now have a facebook account, so I'll have to try to keep from sharing things like birthday secrets and such and embarrassing him in my posts. Maybe. Actually, probably not, as it's a mother's job to embarrass her teenagers. 

13. <-- That. That number. That's old. A teenager. And not just a teenager - the second teenager in the house. Teen Two, as it were.

So there it is. 

But in all seriousness, Blessed Birthday, my dear Zachary. I love you more than you can imagine, even with your gigantic heart. I hope you have a wonderful day today, even though it will be filled with perhaps more than its usual dose of chaos. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Camp Friend

Camp Calumet is a place to make friends. Alia is very good at making friends. This year at Camp, Alia made a very special friend. This friend ran to greet her and have a conversation with her each time we passed by. They were such good friends that at times it was difficult for them to say goodbye so that we could move on to our intended activities. Often Alia's new friend would run after her, in hopes that she'd notice and stop for one last goodbye. 

On our way to breakfast on our last day of Camp, Alia stopped to chat with her friend one last time before we hit the road. It was most difficult to pull her away that day. She later explained that her new friend had a lot to say, and she somehow learned to speak to her friend as well. She wasn't exactly sure what she was saying, but she was sure it was only good, kind, loving things. 

We never did get her friend's name, but she prays often that her friend is safe and has found other friends who stop for a chat every once in a while. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rhythm of Life

Fear takes hold as we pull away from shore. My husband rows and five year old daughter sits in the middle, also afraid. We rock from side to side as we encounter waves caused by a passing boat. Taking deep breaths, I put my trust in my husband and my faith in God to get us through this. Until we headed for open water, I hadn't realized how afraid I was of riding in a canoe. Feeling scared myself, I did my best to reassure my daughter that all was well. This outing was her mission to overcome her fear - I didn't realize it would be mine as well. 

Just as my heartbeat started returning to normal, we encountered more waves and I came to the realization that my core strength is not what it used to be after spending a good deal of time over the past year in a wheelchair. I felt out of control of my body and of the situation. My voice calm, I asked Alia how she was doing. Her initial panic had, after a few minutes, turned to stubborn determination, but by this time was back to panic again. She needed to get out of the canoe. Now. The problem- we were now far from shore. 

I grabbed a paddle to help us turn around and row swiftly for shore. Getting into a rhythm, my confidence grew. The largest waves we'd encountered headed for our craft, I helped turn into them and wasn't quite so fearful. With every stroke of the paddle, I felt both stronger and more relaxed. I was actually enjoying myself. 

Later that evening, I sat, staring at the campfire, reflecting on the canoe experience and Camp in general. At camp there are new things to try, new people to meet, and lots of things to do. Yet our days have a rhythm about them. We get up, walk to the shower, walk to breakfast, then I have an hour of quiet time before Bible Study and my husband has an hour of quiet time after dropping Alia off at Kids' Fun Time. We meet for devotions, then have lunch. After lunch we take on whatever adventure we decide upon for the day, whether it's a hike or a canoe ride or beach time. We pick Coren up from Day Camp, have some play time, dinner, then an evening activity. We go to bed blissfully exhausted. In that rhythm, I find comfort. 

While in the canoe, with just my husband paddling and not trusting my body, I felt afraid and out of control. I prayed. I breathed. I trusted. With the paddle in my hands, I found my own rhythm, my own way of moving with the waves. In that I found comfort.

In life, I feel most secure with my life firmly in God's hands, a rhythm to my days, and finding my center amidst the chaos of children and a marriage and homeschooling and volunteering and running a household and all that goes in to Living. 

It's not always easy, this Living thing. I'm not sure why, but I seem to be a bit overwhelmed this week as life-as-usual swirls about me, threatening to capsize my sanity. Deep breaths, trust, and faith calm the waters of my soul and help me find the rhythm that will propel me toward peaceful shores. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The View From Here

The view from here is beautiful, wondrous, amazing. 

It's not because of the magnificent White Mountains in the background. It's not the stunningly verdant surroundings or lovely Lake Ossipee down below. 

It's beautiful because I'm experiencing it with my husband and my youngest daughter. 

The wonder lies in every step I was able to take to get there going up the steep way, and then to hike back down again the long way. 

It's amazing because afterwards it was only early afternoon and my body functioned not only through the hike, but through the rest of the day, and the day after, and on to another hike the day after that. 

The view from here is progress. It's healing. It's renewed confidence in my body. It's hope. It's life. 

I stand here praising God; thanking doctor and diagnosis and tumor-necrosis-factor inhibitor; grateful to be sharing this with two of the people I love most in the word.

The view from here is beautiful, wondrous, amazing. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


After a week of pain, craziness, lots of children running around, tons of last-minute packing, and a huge dose of Remicade, we finally arrived on the shores of Lake Ossipee in Freedom, NH. Home. Camp Calumet. 

Mist blanketed the lake, grey skies meeting calm waters. The excitement I felt as we traveled dissipated in one huge sigh of relief and contentment. This is exactly where I needed to be - listening to the sound of water lapping on shore, breathing in fresh New Hampshire air, watching children dive into all the good things life at Calumet offers. Tranquil. Centered. Relaxed. Instantly. 

Watching my kids play in sand and water, burying my feet in the sand, a smile crept across my face as I realized that my mental to-do list contained only good things: setting up our campsite, figuring out what time the next day we would be dropping off kids at Resident Camp, and planning out our activities for the week. Now that's vacation. 

Only one dark cloud loomed over our day - and it a was a big cloud at that. Our older cat, Garci, had passed away just hours before we left for Camp. Concern for how our children would handle this loss amidst the camp fun weighed heavily on my heart. 

But sitting there in that moment, even that worry vanished. Not even the threat of rain could rattle my calm or dampen my spirit. Closing my eyes, I listened to the song of my children's laughter and God's whispered reminder to let loose my troubles and embrace the day. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

If You Could

Feeling in a slump ... stuck, even ... I knew I needed to do something to get out of my own way. I sat at my computer and started typing the first thing that came into my mind: 

If you could change one thing to make your life better, what would it be? 
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 
If you could change one thing about the way you deal with money, what would it be? 
If you could change one thing about the way you eat, what would it be? 
If you could change one thing about the way you spend your time, what would it be?

I would walk in faith more, worry less.

I would do everything within my power to be healthier.

I would shop less.

I would pay more attention to feeding myself in the morning to start my day off right.

I'd have more fun with my family.

Five little things that would add up to a vastly improved life. So why don't I? I think I will.

What would you change? Really?

Now why don't you? Why don't you change those five little things, improve your life, and the lives of those who love you? You don't have to do them all at once. Maybe on thing a week for the next five weeks. You can do it - and what a difference it can make!

If YOU could change one thing...???

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Tale of the Cricket

She came to me, this girl of great imagination, with eyes wide in wonder and hands clasped before her. "I have a cricket!" she exclaimed. 
"How exciting," came my reply, "tell me about it!" 
"It's here, in my hands. Do you hear it?" 
"I can't hear it through your hands, can you open them up so I can see?"
And carefully she opened her fingers, holding her giant cricket up for me to see...

I could tell it was a giant cricket because of the way she held her hand, and she was ecstatic that I acknowledged the enormity of her lovely cricket with my gasp of amazement and words of adoration for such a noble imaginary creature. 

All day long, young Miss M and her cricket played, and often she'd check in with me, showing off her newfound friend. 

So if you run into an adorable towhead with a huge creative spirit, please say only good things about her fanciful friend the cricket. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


One of two things usually go through my head when I hear that word - anticipation - either Rocky Horror Picture Show or the song by Carly Simon. But not today.

Today, anticipation swirls through the house as we make lists and coordinate clothing and cram ten days' worth of everything into as few containers as possible. We're packing for Camp. Not just camping, but Camp. Camp Calumet Lutheran, to be exact. Our week at Camp is rapidly approaching. It feels as if we can almost reach out and grab it, it's that close. 

But we have a week to get through first. A week of packing; repacking; lists of to-do's and to-buy's and don't-forgets; calculations; I-can't-wait's; I-wonder-if's; and who-do-you-thinks. A week of emergency child care for a new friend who needs childcare to work, but can't pay for childcare at the moment because she's just started her job, helping my grandmother settle in to the place she needs to be right now, even if just through phone calls during our busy week; and medical appointments.

My children's anticipation smacks of fun, friends, song, campfires, sand, water, food Mama wouldn't usually allow them to eat and all that a week at Camp entails. Rock climbing, rappelling, hiking, canoeing and more for the Adventure Campers. Auditions, rehearsals, and all that goes into putting a production of "The Sword Called Excalibur" for the Drama Campers. And one very disappointed five year old who is of the opinion that she should be considered a six year old henceforth and thereby be able to attend Day Camp and is anticipating camp fun mixed with disappointment. 
My anticipation is different. It whispers in my ear of feet massaged by cool sand, Bible studies, songs of praise, and making connections with new people and with nature. It foretells campfires and quiet moments and exploring my body's new capabilities through nature walks and hikes. It weaves stories of one-on-one time with our youngest, nights of blissful exhausted sleep, and a surprise or two along the way. 

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” ― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

We relish these moments-just-before, and thank God that our anticipation is always exceeded by the reality of the awesomeness that is Camp Calumet Lutheran.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Strong Shoes

The road of Faith isn't always smooth sailing. Wait, what? That didn't make any sense. You don't sail on roads. Well, not normally, anyway. But you know what I mean. That reminds me of an Irish blessing:

If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.

Our individual walks of faith aren't always easy, and many of us have veered off the path or met one obstacle or another along the way. 

I see people walk out of our place of worship and leave God there. They carry on with their lives, their perceived responsibility to their faith fulfilled. They return to worship when nothing else gets in the way.

I see others walk out the door, hand in hand with faith, only to have their good intentions fall to the wayside as the week progresses. They return to be filled with faith once again to tackle another week living closer to God. 

Then there are those who carry God in their hearts and their works throughout the week, returning again to worship because it is the right and good and holy thing to do.

I'm sure there are others as well - those who go, but don't believe; those who aren't sure what they believe; those who feel obligated to go.

I recognize these people because at one point or another, I've been every one of them. My faith journey has been a rocky one, my understanding of what faith and worship are have evolved over time and through interaction with others of all faiths. I have stumbled many times, fallen a few. Each time it was not by my power alone that I regained my footing and got back on my path. 

I strive to be like those who embody faith. Who exude love and grace and mercy and move through their lives as wonderful faith examples. Who come to worship because it's as natural as breathing. Who help and serve others because that's what it means to live. Who with each footstep, each word, and each action live Love; live the Word; while at the same time not losing their uniqueness, their selves, or their perspective. Who are human and make mistakes and ask forgiveness and see others' weaknesses as a chance for compassion and their own as an opportunity for growth. 

May God grant us all strong shoes as we travel down the often stony path of life hand in hand with faith.