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The Sound of Sweet Music

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I retreated upstairs after dinner to do some reading.  It was so nice to have time to just relax.  The sound of beautiful music drifted from the living room as Kaylee played her instrument.  Not the violin that she has been practicing for a few years and not even the piano which she also takes lessons for.  Today I am listening to the sweet sound of the first day with her new clarinet.

Yes, today we rented a clarinet for her to learn to play.  She brought it home, assembled it and began to play.  She was immediately able to make music with it. (Sing a long with me to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.)  “E, D, C, D, Squeak, squeak, squeak, D, D, Screech, E, Squawk, Squeal,” you get the idea. After that imagine Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Hot Cross Buns and some other early band favorites in a similar fashion.

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Though the technique is a bit lacking, I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said that I was relaxing listening to the sound of beautiful music.  What is beautiful about this music?  It is made by her.  What is also beautiful about this music? It is original.  It is not recorded and it is not being played on an electronic device.  This sound is music to my ears because it is not the sound of silence I hear when she is plugged into her iPod.  Her face is buried in a music book and not glued to a screen.  There is no music sweeter than that and I am grateful.

You may remember, though, that I did say that I retreated upstairs, the door is shut and maybe tomorrow I’ll even recommend she practice outside….just to get some fresh air, of course.

 

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No Purse, No Bag, No Sandals

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I woke this morning full of anxiety.  We have so much to do.  So many fun events on the schedule and so much planning to make them happen.  I tried to rest my mind and journal, read, and meditate, but my mind kept speeding along and always returning to the stress involved in preparing to go to Creation Festival Northeast.  I have never attended this festival and camping with 70,000 people could prove to be a big stretch for me.  I don’t camp.  We have a house on the river and sometimes we refer to it as “going to camp,” but the truth is it is carpeted and has all the modern conveniences necessary.  Not truly a “camp.”  So, I’m planning on going camping.  I need to pack sunscreen, rain gear and …even forks?!  So much to think about.

I don’t think I worry much about my appearance and the fact that I will probably camp sans makeup is not a concern, but this morning while trying to quiet my soul to pray, I remembered that I won’t have a hair dryer.  My hair is a mess without a hair dryer.  I won’t need to curl it or straighten it, but I do need a hair dryer.  OK, so that is another challenge I will have to face.  In addition to remembering to pack toilet paper, bug spray and a pan to boil water for my morning cup of tea, I now have to consider a hat!

Oh Lord, how can I focus on my devotions with all of this reeling through my mind?! Because of the habit of rising each morning and doing it, I sit at the table and begin.  My heart’s not in it, but I will be disciplined and seek peace through scripture.  Today I am on Day #22 of a Summer Bible Reading Challenge and I am reading through the New Testament in 3 months.  It is scheduled and each day I know which chapters to read.  Today’s selection was Luke 22, 23 and 24.  As I mentioned, I wasn’t really in a very good place to be comprehending, but I kept reading.  I laughed out loud when I got to Luke 22:35:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.

Oh Lord, what a sense of humor you have!  So, if you sent them out without purse, bag or sandals, I guess I can go without a hair dryer!

 

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Dear Friend,

IMG_0585I’ve been writing and re-writing this Thank You note in my mind for days and the truth is, I can’t quite figure out how to write it yet. You see, there is no way I can explain what your kind deeds have meant to me without first telling you all the negative things that have been going on in my life and I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not a negative person. So, in the interest of trying to explain and in the hopes of being vague enough to not cause more grief, I thought I’d let you know how important your kind acts have been!
This spring there has been a war raging in our home. Nothing big enough to make the papers, but it has been a constant deluge of bad situations. Every day, I was confronted with something, figured out a way to handle it, and the next day it was a new surprising event. God is good and continued to show me grace and favor in the midst of the chaos. (Note: I said “in the midst” He did not shield me from the chaos but was beside me!) My son had some major trauma that was not in his control. No one should have to deal with what that boy had to deal with and all of it during his senior year. You know, that year that is supposed to be full of rainbows and dreams? His was full of doubt, trauma and an ugliness that I can’t even begin to imagine. Not knowing how to cope, he acted out with bad behaviors of his own which caused him even more pain. And, as his pain increased, his parents’ pain increased. And though his trauma took center stage there was a lot of other things going on in our lives too that we had to contend with.
That’s where you come in. You will never know what your kind words meant to me. The note, the card, the meal, the call, the hug, the plant, the text, the shoulder to cry on, the idea,  and the desire to lessen our pain in any way did not go unnoticed. Now, if you friend, were unaware of the struggles we were facing, you helped simply by being you. You made me smile, you encouraged me by assuming that everything was “normal.” You went for a walk with me, sewed a costume, mentioned mimosas, rolled your eyes, gave me a pedicure, shared an empathetic nod, and changed back into clothes to go out with me after you had already put on your PJ’s. You showed up for no reason and just were there for me. You asked me to do something and thought I was capable when I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. If I eluded to some struggles you lifted me up in prayer. (I know you did, because I could feel it!)
I desperately want to share more with you. I want you to know how bad the details are so that I can then tell you how good my God is, but I don’t think that would serve Him well. I want to tell my side of the story to counter what may be being shared around town, but I won’t. I’ll simply thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my lifeline and helping me celebrate spring and all of it’s successes. I refer to this time as the season of Blessings and Burdens and I’ve had my share of both! You have been a blessing.  Thanks again!

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Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.      

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.                                                                         –1 Kings 19:3-7

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I Need More Friends For This Recipe!

IMG_0444My counter proudly displays a bag of batter.  It is a mixture of flour, milk and sugar and I tend to it daily.  It started as a single cup of ingredients, given to me by my friend, Lisa.  Yes, Lisa gifted me with a 1 cup start bag of Amish Friendship Bread.  I was excited to receive it and remembered making it at different times in my life. When my oldest children were little, they loved getting it and then doing the assigned tasks daily.  Day 1 – You receive your fermented batter in a ziplock one gallon bag.  Just place it on your kitchen counter.  Day 2 – Squeeze the bag several times.  And it goes on for 10 days.  Day 6 you get to add a few more ingredients, but most of the time, you just lift the bag, squeeze it a few times and move it to a different location on your counter.  On day 10 you get to actually bake something and the bread that it makes is delicious!  However, with the bread you bake you are also supposed to give away 4 bags of starter to four of your friends.  The first go round, you may actually have people, like me, who would be excited to receive it, but after that, people have lost interest, so you end up with 4 starter bags for yourself.  I hate to waste, so originally I was baking the bags I couldn’t share.  At this count, I think I have 12 loaves of friendship bread in the freezer for when those friends who rejected my bag of batter show up for tea!  I’ve been blessed to gift people with a baked loaf of bread more often than not, but I seriously need to figure out the math once and for all to try to create a smaller batch.  But, until then, I’ll keep squeezing and baking and blessing others with a surprise loaf of Friendship Bread.

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Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.    –1 Timothy 6:18

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My Big Claim to Fame

weight-on-the-scale-at-the-pediatrician-s-office-when-they-weigh-8PIrpa-clipartI never really considered myself special. I mean, I never had one specific great claim to fame…until I became a parent.

The first six months of my first pregnancy, I gained six pounds. The doctor informed me that she would like to see a little more weight gain for the next visit and that I really should be following the nutritional guide she had provided. My husband and I attended the childbirth education classes the next week, and he scolded me that perhaps I wasn’t eating enough cheese. I felt fine but decided that I better check the scales to see how things were progressing. I stepped on, I stepped off, on again, off again, one more time…yep, there is a weight gain. Eighteen pounds in 3 weeks! What in the world is going on?

I called the doctor, and she felt there had to be an error. I went into the office for an official weighing the next morning and when I tipped the scales, I burst into tears. The nurse, in a comforting way, suggested we try another scale. We did, and sure enough there was an errror…it wasn’t eighteen pounds; it was twenty-one. She took my blood pressure, tried to calm me down, and told me to go home and rest while she consulted the doctor. The nurse called later that afternoon and said that the doctor had scheduled a sonogram for Monday and that I should rest over the weekend. I asked hesitantly, “Does she think it could be twins?” The nurse kept her answer brief and replied, “At least.”

I had the sonogram, and it looked like I was going to have one big baby. I kept gaining weight at a normal rate and approached my due date. No baby. Every night I went to bed and woke up disappointed that I was still there.  Finally, with tears in my eyes, I asked the doctor to help me out. The baby was getting bigger and bigger and didn’t show any interest in coming into the world. She agreed to break my water the following morning.

Always feeling that attitude was the biggest help in labor, I tried to keep a positive outlook the whole time. I think I can, I think I can, became my motto. Finally, after pushing for two-and-a-half hours, I quietly said to my doctor, “I don’t think I can do this.” She said, “I don’t think you can either,” and the baby was born by Cesarean Section. I was awake for the procedure and heard the cries from the operating room. “Oh, my gosh, his head is so big…He’s huge…Have you ever seen such a big baby?” I was getting nervous, not to mention somewhat insulted, and I asked my doctor how much he weighed. She chuckled and said, “I don’t know. I can’t lift him.” As soon as the delivery was complete, they shouted for the scales to be brought in. My bouncing baby boy weighed eleven pounds, three ounces! I was shocked and said, “No one has eleven-pound babies.” and the doctor said, “You just did.”

The rest of my hospital stay, from my room across from the nursery, I could hear people ooh and aah over the babies. “Look how sweet, look at the hair, OH MY! Look at this big bruiser!” Even the nurse giving expectant parents a tour of the facility stopped at my doorway and said, “There’s the woman who had the eleven-pound baby!” Comfort and acceptance came for me when my minister visited. In his prayer, he asked that my son be not only big in body, but big in mind and spirit as well.

I still, on occasion, will meet someone, and they will ask if I am the one with the big babies. (I delivered my daughter two years later who weighed ten pounds, 5 ounces and my youngest was three weeks early and weighed eight pounds, nine ounces.) I have come a long way in my confidence since those “new parent days” and I am proud of my big babies. I am sure they will be big in mind and spirit as well.

 

Originally published in The Doula Magazine Fall 1996

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Joy = Strength

unnamedAre you having a bad day?  Today, I am not so it’s a good time for me to consider what I should do when I do have a bad day which will certainly come. What do I do when I am having a bad day? Do I wallow in it and continue the bad day until I fall asleep or do I try to change it?  And, if I try to change it, what works?  I immediately realized what has often changed my bad day.  A fun conversation with a good friend! A conversation laced with humor and potentially some sarcasm as I relay what is happening in my life.

Have you shared your bad day with anyone?  Have you called that friend that always makes you laugh and said, “You will never believe what happened this morning!”  There is a good chance that simply by relaying your situation to the recipient, you will begin to see some humor in it OR just by sharing it, you will try to put some sort of humorous positive spin on it.  I recommend you give it a try!  Call a witty friend and relay to her what your home looked like as you tried to shuffle kids out the door while the cat escaped and someone spilled cereal and then you had to race back inside to get the forgotten library book and the cat escaped again and then you shut the door on your child’s finger while trying to save the cat and then you dropped the library book in the puddle.  None of that happened to me….today….but it has and it will again, I’m sure.  Maybe not the same situations but equally challenging ones are pretty routine around here. After sharing the story of your tense moments with a friend you may start to see how funny that would be in a 30-minute TV sitcom and you will see that you may as well enjoy it too.  As you start to laugh you will find your strength and hope returning and you will see that you can make it through another day.  You will make it through this day, too, even if it is only to get funnier material to share with your friend tomorrow.  And remember, if your friend calls you, it’s your job to point out the humor in her story also.

… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  –Nehemiah 8:10

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I Think the Emotion is: Hurt

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Confusion. Frustration. Pain. Anger. All emotions I feel way too often regarding my RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) kid. Today I feel hurt…utter hurt.

Last evening, he rushed into the room and asked if he could go for ice cream with a friend of his.  He seemed surprised when my answer was “yes” and he rushed out the door full of excitement.  We had just spent a couple of hours having dinner and meeting with someone from his Independent Living group discussing how he could earn the right to move from his upstairs bedroom to our basement apartment. All natural steps for this season of transition.

He returned from his trip to the ice cream shop, tossed his empty milkshake cup into the garbage can and gave me a good night hug. He said, “Can you feel me shaking?” and I answered, “Probably too much ice cream.” As he left the room he quoted what he quotes every night as he heads up the stairs:

“Good Night. Sleep Tight. Wake up bright in the morning light to do what’s right with all your might. Good Night. Don’t let the Bedbugs bite.”

I stopped him and told him that he had to mean what he says more often.  “Make good choices; do what’s right.” He went up the stairs and got a bath.  An hour passed and I realized his phone wasn’t in the charging station like it should be.  He is not permitted to have his phone in the bathroom as he has had more than one  phone “fall” in the tub(maybe 8?). (Only RAD parents/therapists would understand this phenomenon of intentionally ruining possessions because you feel you are unworthy of actually owning them.)  Anyhow, his phone was missing.  When I asked him about it, he assured me it was in his pants pocket. It wasn’t.  Must be on the dresser. No. Maybe downstairs? No. Lies, lies, lies.  I calmly suggested that he had it in the tub with him and he said, “I had to call a couple of people because I was in a car accident.”

Yep. He was in a car accident and he returned home and didn’t mention it. Why? Only God knows for sure, but we can speculate.  His mental illness makes him want to handle things all by himself.  His neglect until the age of 22 months makes him think that his parents won’t respond appropriately to his needs. His needs weren’t met when he was a baby, so they probably won’t be met at the age of 18. He doesn’t want parents and he will spend a lifetime proving that to himself and others.

That hurts! Soon we will be attending his graduation ceremony and baccalaureate and we will be sitting next to parents who have tears in their eyes as they think about separating from their children in this phase of life. We, too, will have tears in our eyes as we doubt that there ever was any connection to separate from. We have spent 16 years trying to create a bond and though we’ve had glimpses of hope that it could happen, we’ve seen evidence of the fact that it hasn’t.  We’ve certainly tried.  And, we need to accept that the separation we will be mourning at graduation will be the separation of our dreams from our reality. Even with our best efforts, we have been unable to get our son to trust us. We have been unable to repair the damage created by his first set of parents. We have never been the one he’s called out to in a time of need….and we probably never will.

It hurts. It hurts to realize that I am not alone. There are many hurting parents raising hurting children. Children who may never accept a parent’s love. It hurts. Yet, to those of you who my son has called instead of me when he needed a parent, I thank you. I pray you haven’t judged me or thought that I didn’t want to be the recipient of the call and I continue to pray that you will give him good advice. Thank you for being someone he can trust.disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”                                                                        —     2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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