Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's not easy being nine

Nick is traumatized...he has to do a report in his social studies class. Each child was assigned a state to do a report about and Nick got Wisconsin. Now all of his classmates are calling him a cheesehead and a packer fan.

This is causing him great distress. I tried convincing him that they were not laughing AT him, and that he should shrug it off or join in the fun. He would have none of that ridiculous advice.

So I told him if it was bothering him that bad he should talk to his teacher in private about it tomorrow. That he cannot do because then they might find out and will call him a tattle-taler like his classmate Brittney. Oh the shame. It's so hard to be nine.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Heat is a good thing

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I were sitting in the living room, all warm and cozy, because it was way too cold to be outside (I think the high was like 8). Nick and I were "beading" which for you not in the know, that is making necklaces, bracelets etc. out of beads. Nick, by the way, made a very cool watchband with brown and blue stones. Kyle was busy drumming along with Michael W. Smith's concert dvd. All was good.

Then I noticed it was getting a little chilly in the house. Oh, I must have forgotten to turn the heat back up after getting home from church. So I turned the thermostat up and did not hear the furnace kick in. So I turn it down and back up again - kind of like when a button doesn't work the first time, you think it's going to work if you push it twelve more times.

This goes on for a minute or so until I realize. Uh oh. The last time I checked that little gauge thingy on top of the fuel tank there was about 50 gallons left. That was a few weeks ago and since the furnace goes through about 2-3 gallons a day...well, you do the math.

Because obviously I did not.

If you aren't in the know about fuel oil heat, it's that big tank in my basement (painted the same red color as the wall to disguise it's bigness) and that's what fuels the furnace. There is a pipe that runs outside the house and they come with a big truck and pump the fuel into your house just like you would pump gas into your car. "They" being the fuel guys and "come" meaning you have to call them. In advance...meaning before you are out of fuel. You see where this has gone...I did not call and they did not come.

For about an hour I considered waiting until morning to get fuel. I set up heaters in our bedrooms, it would be a little chilly, kind of like camping, right? We'd be fine. Then I remembered how cold it feels in the house in the fall, before I have turned on the furnace for the year and it gets down to like 55 in the house. And today it's 8 degrees outside.

Again with the math.

So, I called the emergency fuel # and got Joe Fuel Guy on the phone. I told him the problem and asked if he can help. He asked me if I have a man around. I say no (and resisted the urge to go into a polite rant about how I am capable of doing anything that a man would do except lift heavy objects and pee standing up - which I probably could do but it would be messy). And then he asked how old I am...who is this guy, and why does he want to know if I'm alone and how old I am? I said "why do you want to know that???" He back-pedalled like crazy, saying he didn't mean anything improper but was just needing to know if I was a little old lady who wouldn't be able to help him and if I was a little old lady that was ok he would bring someone to help him. I just laughed and he said he'll be right over with the fuel.

The boys in the mean time, in case you were wondering, were totally unconcerned that the house was getting colder by the second. Good, no permanent psychological damage done.

So, here comes Joe Fuel Guy...dirty overalls, red plaid jacket with holes all over it. Long, unkempt mustache with a little supper still clinging to it. Just exactly like you would picture a fuel guy. He apologized profusely for the questions he asked on the phone and said that his wife chewed him out for it "do you realize how that sounded?!". Yes I did actually. Really he was a very nice man and not in the least bit irritated that he had to go out in the cold to rescue us. In fact he kept apologizing for how much he had to charge me to do so!

So...after getting the furnace started again (and paying the $45 emergency service fee - doh!) we had heat. Lesson learned - pay close attention to how full the tank is and don't wait until you run out and have a crisis.

It's the same way with God. How often do we neglect our relationship with Him, going days or weeks (or longer) without really spending time in the Word, and in prayer? Our tank gets lower and lower and if we don't pay attention and check the gauge in our hearts, we can miss it. Until it's empty and we are faced with a crisis. Our soul is parched and empty and we grow cold. Weary. Discouraged. Empty. It is nice to be rescued, but it is so much more comfortable to stay filled up. But if we do find ourselves with an empty tank (again) the good news is we can always call the Fuel Guy - and He will show up. Every time. At any hour. He will not be the least bit irritated that we ran out of fuel and called him in desperation.

Ever.

And the best part? It's free.

"Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quote of the day

If satan cannot convince you that there is no God, he will settle for convincing you that there is no hell."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Prone to Wander

"Prone to Wander" - Chris Rice

On the surface not a ripple
Undercurrent wages war
Quiet in the sanctuary
Sin is crouching at my door

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring me back to life

I wake to find my soul in fragments
Given to a thousand loves
But only One will have no rival
Hangs to heal me,
Spills His blood

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You, so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring me back to life

Curse-reversing Day of Jesus
When you finally seize my soul
Freedom from myself will be the
Sweetest rest I've ever known

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You, so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring my back to life

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kyle is pretty much ready for his own place now

After school on Friday, Kyle decided that he didn't want to go to 'key kids' (that is the after school program where the boys go until we pick them up - it's right there in the school gym and art room). Anyway, he apparently didn't want to go, so he decided to leave school and walk home.

By himself.

He's 5.

Luckily, the crossing guard at the intersection near our house knows him and knows that he doesn't walk home, so she asked him why he was. And my child, whom I have raised since birth and to whom I have attempted to impart the value in telling the truth, told her "my mom told me I could."

Still suspicious, and seeing that Nick wasn't with him, she walked him to our house (thank God!) Once she confirmed that no one was there, she walked him back to school. In the meantime, the school was in a panic! The key kids staff, teachers and Lord knows who else were all looking for him. His poor teacher got in her car and was driving around town even! They were ready to call the police, seriously.

So I found out about this Friday evening from Scott - he had the boys for the weekend. So I talked to Kyle about it on the phone and asked him why he did it. He said "because I didn't want to go to key kids." I asked why and he said "because I am FRUSTRATED there!" I have to admit that it's pretty dang cute when your five year old says "frustrated". I asked why he was frustrated and he gave me a long, run-on paragraph about the games he didn't want to play, the kids he didn't want to play with, he didn't like the snacks, yada yada yada.

So I began to try and convince my child that he is not old enough to be home alone without an adult. He had an answer for everything: He was going to go in the house and play. If he needed something he would call me....oh and then when he realized he didn't know how to call me at work the whole thing became MY fault. (He gets that from his dad). Anyway, he had it all planned out and I ruined his life (he gets that from his older brother).

Well, I was not able to convince him that he was not old enough to be home alone, so I brought out the big guns. We had a long talk when he got home today and I told him if he ever did that again he would lose tv for a week. What?!! How could I be so cruel and unreasonable? After all, he is more than capable of getting his own place and handling things all by himself.

I think I need to start hiding my keys.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dog snot

I don't really read the newspaper a whole lot. Or watch the news for that matter. I generally page through the paper while eating lunch at work. I don't actually read it, tho. I skim the headlines so I have a vague and general sense of what might be going on in the world beyond my immediate circle of existence. I have been known to say, days after the fact, "what? there was a hurricane that wiped out thousands of people? what? there's a war going on?" It's not that I don't care, it's just that I'd usually rather think about things that have happy endings.

Anyway, today was the exception to my head in the sand rule. The headline on the front page of the newspaper today caught my attention so I actually read the entire article. It is about some potential legislation that would ban cell phone usage while driving, and would also impose stricter fines for not using a seat belt in Minnesota. One of our state senators, whom I learned from this article is Steve Murphy, was apparently talking to a reporter about keeping the fines minimal for these offenses. He is quoted as saying "we're trying to set it up so the dog snot doesn't get beat out of the offender."

Hmmm.

Dog snot? Really? Are you kidding me? Not that I have a huge problem with dogs or snot. I live with both of those on a daily basis. I have even been known to walk around with dog snot on my pants for an entire day. I just didn't expect to read it on the front page of the paper, coming out of the mouth of my state's senator.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really not a prude. I don't mind if someone uses slang terms such as dog snot. I think it's quite amusing actually...but seriously. I wouldn't necessarily use the term dog snot at work. Or at church. And I for sure wouldn't use it if I was in public office, speaking to a reporter who was writing every word I said down on his spiral notebook, in order to publish it in newspapers across the state! I might choose some more professional language.

But I'm actually glad he did say dog snot. It gave me a big chuckle and something to ramble about. I may even read the paper more now just because of that!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I just needed some pull-ups!

Tonight Kyle and I had some alone time, which was really nice. Nick went to "open gym" at school with his friend, whose mom picked him up. I decided to get Kyle into his pj's a little early so we could just sit in the recliner, watch "Jimmy Neutron" and snuggle 'til Nick got home.

Good thing I did, because I realized that we were out of pull-ups. I knew that the night before, so I wrote myself a note and put it in my purse. I even put the empty package on the hutch by the back door so I'd be sure to see it on my way out this morning and thus remember to get some today. Nada.

So we had like a half an hour - plenty of time to run to Shopko and get back before Nick got home. So, we get to Shopko, I get out of the car and wait for Kyle. Then I hear the car door slam, followed by a blood curdling scream from my 5 year old. That can't be good, I thought. So I run around the car and see that he has slammed an appendage in the car door (again). He did the same thing about a year and a half ago and broke his index finger. This time it was his thumb.

So we go into the store and I'm holding his hand because he's dripping blood all the way to the bathroom. One of the employees followed the blood trail and offered bandaids and an ice pack. You may know that I don't like blood, or any type of injury for that matter. I generally feel like passing out, and almost have many times. But being a mom has really toughened me up. Especially being Kyle's mom. Being the wild child that he is, injuries are common occurrences at our house. He's been to the ER twice, and I contemplated taking him in for this, but a nurse happened to be in the bathroom with us (this was no coincidence, I'm sure!). She didn't think I necessarily needed to take him in so we came home. (In the mean time I had called Kyle's dad to come over and be there when Nick got home.)

He's sleeping peacefully now, but he'll probably lose his nail. And I'm sure he'll be milking this injury for all it's worth for some time to come!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I am Martha

Yep. I think I've turned into a Martha. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about (I know, no surprise there) I'll explain.

Luke 10:38-42. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (can't you just hear the whine in her voice?) "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

I love Martha. I think she's hilarious. She's a worry wart and kind of anal about stuff. She shows up again in scripture when Jesus arrives after her brother Lazarus had died. Jesus told someone to move the stone away from his tomb. Everyone was standing there with great anticipation, knowing they would see a miracle, and Martha pipes up and says "But Lord...by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." (John 11:39). Here was Jesus, about to raise the dead, one of the greatest miracles there is, and Martha is thinking "uh boy, this is gonna stink. I know He is God in the flesh, Creator of the universe, and He can raise the dead and everything, but what in the world is He gonna do about that smell???"

Distracted. Missing the point. I can so relate! I have been running on overdrive since before Christmas...and not really going anywhere. Spinning my wheels. I've been staying up too late worrying about the laundry, the dishes, the toys on the floor, bills to be paid...tired, overwhelmed, discouraged. I feel like God is telling me today "Whoa! Slow down Martha! You are worried and upset about many things. Take a lesson from Mary here. Rest. Listen to Me. I will refresh you".

How many times have I felt like there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done. Being a single parent is hard! The house, the car, the yard, the kids, groceries, laundry, cleaning, dishes...they all scream at me from the moment I get home from work until I crawl into bed at night (much too late most nights). There just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to be. Or is there??

I heard on the radio the other day that there is enough time in each day to get done the things that GOD has called me to do for that day. I had to stop and really ponder that one. Are you saying that God hasn't called me to worry about how everything will get done? He hasn't called me to have a perfectly clean house? Yep, that's right.

Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 6:25-34, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own".

Mary had it right. I need to lay down my worries and take the opportunity each day to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. Nothing I could ever accomplish in a day is more important than that. You're welcome to join me, but watch your step. I haven't picked up all the legos off the floor just yet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Plans for the new year

I love new beginnings. There is just something fresh about a new beginning. A new year ~ a chance to redefine what is really important (and what is really not). To reflect on the past and look forward to what lies ahead.

I have to admit, I haven't always looked forward to the future, sometimes I have faced it with a hefty dose of dread sprinkled with anxiety (and some doom & gloom on the side just for fun). But not this year...I am looking forward to 2007 with hope, anticipation, and peace. It's nice! What exactly am I looking forward to? Hmmm...well whatever God has planned for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

There is so much promise packed into that verse. I read it alot, and have since I was about 18 - the first time someone brought it to my attention. It really encouraged me. The problem is, it's taken me a long, long time to really believe and understand what it is saying. It's so easy to be hopeful when things are going my way. It's when life is smackin' me around a bit that I go "Hey, God - what's up with that? What about that promise You gave me? This is SO not what I wanted!" Therein lies the problem...the "I". The promise isn't "For I know the plans you have for yourself", but rather "I know the plans I have for you". I'm beginning to realize that the plans that God has for my life are so much more prosperous than the plans I make for myself.

He knows what is best for me, and what will bring me true joy and happiness. He also knows what I think will make me happy - and like the wise father that He is, He quite often says "no". What kind of a parent would He be if He gave me everything I wanted, all the time? I know how dangerous that would be with my boys (think sleep deprived, sugar buzzed maniacs playing baseball in my living room). Not only would it be destructive, it would be unloving.

Just like my boys don't have the maturity and insight to see the wisdom in being told "no", neither do I. How many times have I ignored God's "no" and chased after something that I thought would make me happy, only to find that when I finally get what I wanted so badly the excitement quickly fades. it wasn't nearly as great as I imagined. I am left disillusioned, empty. So I do what any mature christian would do - I throw a tantrum with God. "This is not what i wanted! How could You do this to me? Why won't you give me what I want??? Waa waa waa!" And off I go, stomping and pouting, and looking for something (or someone) to fill the void. The cycle starts all over again...and all the while God is standing there patiently saying "but that's not what I had in mind for you. MY plans for you will prosper you and not harm you. MY plans for you will give you hope. MY plans for you will give you a future." He invites us to come to Him, talk to Him, and He will listen.

And the whole key to this verse lies in the end..."you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." He doesn't necessarily respond when we hop up on His lap like He's the big cosmic santa claus, tell Him what we want, and then go our own way expecting our stockings to be filled. He wants us to seek Him with all of our heart. To seek the Giver, not the gift. That's when the blessings begin to pour out. More than we had even hoped for.

So that's why I have this hope for the upcoming year. I know that I can ask God for whatever my heart desires (and I have some things in mind). He may very well say yes (I know the joy of saying yes to my boys!) But I know that if He says no, I can rest in the assurance that He's got something even better than I had asked for. So if you hear me tantruming in the next room, please remind me of this.