Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hersheypark Happiness!

I posted a story over at Created and Called about our wonderful Thanksgiving Eve experience at Christmas Candylane Click here to head over and check it out with pictures! Here are some extra pics:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Faith is not passive

The holidays can be very hard. For me, it's memories of my Pop re-surfacing while I'm listening to Christmas music. Before I know it, my eyes are welling up as I can almost hear him singing along. It's been over six years since he went home to be with Jesus. I miss him so much.

I stopped trying to fix everything and manipulate things for my kids a long time ago. Suffering and grief are part of being human and living on this earth. I believe that at an early age our kids need to know that God can and wants to bring us comfort in our trials. There is eternal purpose to our lives. If we don't reach out to touch the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:20) we'll never have that personal encounter with Christ that is LIFE CHANGING. But, if you know the story you know that the woman who touched Jesus was in need of a healing for a loooong time. SHE went after Him. She put her faith into action despite her suffering. He healed her.

It's that comfort and those "touches" from Him that allow the suffering to build us, rather then destroy us. I think of all the loved ones that are missed during this time of year. For some, the loss has been recent and this will be the first holiday season without that very special person. But, I know this. If we reach out in faith and pursue Him with all of our heart, He'll turn our mourning into dancing. And, He'll heal us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Little Pre-Christmas Miracle

#3 went to school today....with no tears, no throwing up, no begging to stay home.

And, she even ate a Pop-tart for breakfast.

There was one small episode over the weekend where she admitted feeling bad, but other than that she said she likes school and she is "going to just get through it". She then went on to explain that everyone in first grade misses their mommies, so she'll just get used to it. I reassured her that I miss her, too, and that only makes our time together even more special.

I'm so proud of her and so thankful to God that I could cry, laugh and burst into song at any moment.

Breakthrough is a beautiful thing.....

A "Phony" Princess and the Dust Bunny

After an 8-hour day and a marathon week of practices, #1 and #3 finished The Princess and the Pea. By the end of the 2nd show, #3 looked as though she was falling asleep on stage as the director made her announcements (she had been to her bff's birthday sleepover the night before)! She is such a cutie I just wanted to squeeze her! She couldn't wait to get out of her costume though, because it gave her a "wedgie".

#1 did a great job playing the part of a phony princess with a sinus problem! She did such a great job that The Husband thought she had a real runny nose and could not believe she was up on stage wiping her sleeve and hand across her nose in front of everyone! He finally figured it out after she "sneezed" and wiped her hand very obviously on her dress!

She looks more like a crazy gypsy in this picture, but I thought it was a nice close up to capture the stage make-up!

#2 handled her disappointment very well and even wanted to go to both shows. She was a very supportive and proud sister!

Friday, November 21, 2008

All I Want for Christmas is an "Easy Button"

Well, not really.

I would; however, like my first grader to not cry every morning before school begging me to home school her because I am "breaking her life". It is really pitiful and I'm realizing as the days go by that "on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand" really means something to me.

An emotional roller coaster doesn't describe #3's emotional state because that would require "ups". Her days range from quiet to grumpy with a good dose of sick to the stomach and weeping and gnashing of teeth thrown in. Even when she smiles, she seems so unsure of herself.

However, I am going to type this in faith that God HAS A PLAN FOR HER. And, in the suffering we are made stronger. So, that takes me back to the "solid rock". If I did not have an eternal perspective of life I would have surely had a nervous breakdown by now. Wouldn't a lot of us?

I must tell you that the meeting at school was very peaceful and supportive. There was no finger pointing and I sensed a genuine desire to work together as family and school to make #3 her happy-go-lucky self again. They assured me they thought the root of this problem is her missing me throughout her day. I know that it is a big part of it and everyone in the room assured me it was totally normal for first grade. We discussed some new ideas and incentives and I left feeling relieved that it went so well. The only downer being that when I came home from the meeting to drive her to school she ended up being late from throwing up and crying. It sort of put a damper on the little bit of encouragement I had gotten from the session.

But, I assured #3, the oH mY wORD fAMILY are not quitters. We will persevere and stay on track. God will open doors and He will close doors (such is the case at the Christian school we were pursuing....sadly, no room at the inn). There is a lesson in it all. Compassion wells up inside me along with a huge desire to impart a foundation to my children so that when these storms hit in life they are not left unprepared and helpless.

Yes, I dream about the "easy button". Just to wake up one morning and not spiritually and emotionally fight such a difficult battle. I'm ready for "normal". However, greater then the desire to just have life going smoothly is a desire to raise Godly women who don't back down to the enemy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Divas, Drama Queens and Dissapointment

Our family is into theater. Just a teeny, tiny bit.

Just kidding! We're REALLY into theater...acting, directing, watching (except The Husband, he only likes the acting part). So, I was so excited when I found out the Missoula Children's Theater was coming to a venue near us to audition for The Princess and the Pea. #3 even wanted to try out and I thought that would provide a lovely distraction from the school trauma.

Sadly, #2 had a wonderful audition, but did not get cast. #1 has a duel role which she is enjoying immensely. Did I say immensely? Is there a word stronger then "immensely"? You get the idea. And, #3 was the youngest member cast in the show as a "dust bunny". There are other familiar faces we recognized from the last show 2 years ago, as well as several church friends.

This theater company is like Extreme Makeover / Theater Edition. They audition on Monday and put on two shows by Saturday. Needless to say, #1 comes home from school, does some homework, eats something and packs a snack for later and then heads out to practice from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm each night this week. Our little dust bunny practices from 4:30-6:30 each night.'s been a very busy week for us and an emotional roller coaster as I am happy for 2 kids and sad for the other one. It is really hard being the only sister left out of the production. There were so many kids #2's age that were trying out and I was really surprised she did not get a part. I've told her there will be other plays and times for her to shine! And, I'm proud of her. She is really trying to be happy for her sisters, yet, she still tears up at times when they talk about it. Thank goodness it is not a long, drawn out process for the next few months. This time next week it will all be over!

It is funny to hear #1 running lines again. She has been given full reign to develop her character and she'll ask my opinion, which is nice. She is doing a great job and is very funny!

Speaking of drama, tomorrow morning is my meeting with the principal, teacher and counselor at #3's school....why do I suddenly feel like Daniel being thrown into the lions den?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Welcome to the Quiet Before the Storm Hits

That line from a Toby Mac song keeps running through my head this morning.....

#3 is home from school today. She is miserable.

I requested an appointment with the school principle who in turn wants to have #3's teacher and the guidance counselor sit in on the meeting (Thursday). Hence....the quiet before the storm. I told The Husband he has to come with me so we can provide a united front against what I know will be a defensive teacher and protective principle. What I am hoping to tell them is that #3 will not be returning back to school after Thanksgiving because she will be attending a small Christian school whose teachers do not intimidate their students. ok....maybe I won't word it quite like that.

Or, maybe I will.

I'm waiting to hear back from the Christian school to see if they have room for her, as well as allow her to sit in on a class this week. She is praying that they have room for her. I am praying that we can afford it if they do! And, I am trying not to be bitter because of the downhill direction this year has gone. Sometimes it is hard to have such high expectations because you're bound to be let down. But, last year and #2's current year have been going so well, I just came to expect the best from the school...despite my own clashes on a PTO-level with some of the adults!

So, I'm anticipating my trip to the principle's office about as much as being sued and heading into the courtroom to try and defend my child. I am praying that I keep calm and look at this situation through the eyes of God. My goal is not to tear down and point fingers. I just hope the feeling is mutual.

I am called to be a light....I need to remember that. Now, I have to combine that thought along with the instincts of a mother bear protecting her cub and hope the result is effective!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Got Candy?

One of the most creative people I've ever met on the entire planet is giving away some card making / scrap booking "candy" here to celebrate her 10,000th hit. Click here to check it out and enter yourself in the drawing.

She is amazing and I could spend hours just looking at her blog with paper craft envy!

I've Come to the Conclusion...

After everything that #3 has been through, I'm convinced she is going to find a cure for cancer or evangelize a nation or something that is going to affect like 1.7 million people. It has been so difficult to watch her be tormented over the last several months. The scripture about our battles not being against "flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities" is being played out in my very home on a daily basis.

So, I think to myself, why is the devil trying so hard to shut her down? Because he's scared.

That just makes me pray harder and believe God for the testimony at the end of this ordeal. We have our good days and our bad days and our horrific days. I've had people ask me why I haven't pulled her out of school. I can only say to them that God isn't telling us to do that and that despite the anguish there is peace in my heart to stay on this path. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! She still throws up every day, but the school has agreed to let her skip the dreaded lap if she comes out to recess late. She actually woke up this morning and cheered because it was raining so she knew there would be no outside recess.

Sad, huh?

It could be if I stopped there. BUT, God is not finished with this story. He will have the final say and as a result, His kingdom will be glorified. She is not a pawn in some game that God is playing. He loves her more then I ever could (which I can't even begin to conceive). He is good and He is perfect and so are His plans for all of His children.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Temporary Set Back

Despite it being #3's birthday (I will post pictures and details later) she spent the entire weekend fretting about school. Something upset the delicate balance we've had over the last month after those horrific weeks of her having anxiety attacks.

Apparently, she and her group of 3 other girls did not finish a "center" at school and the teacher wanted to spend time with them and she didn't get a chance. So, they stayed in the next day for about 5 minutes of recess and #3 finished first to go do the dreaded lap required before recess can officially begin. by. herself. I went to pick her up from school that day only to discover that she was in the bathroom throwing up. She then burst into tears and began to tell me the story and I seriously thought she was going to hyperventilate. She begged and pleaded with me to home school her. Then, she threw up three more times that night and the next morning. I reassured her that day was parent-teacher conferences and that I would talk to her teacher about it and we would find a solution.

Needless to say, I could not get through to her teacher. She said that #3 acts totally normal during her school day. Her theory is that she acts this way to get my attention.


I calmly (through somewhat gritted teeth) told her my daughter does not have to VOMIT to get my attention...she gets PLENTY of attention. I explained that this is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by the stupid lap at recess that causes her to be afraid the boys playing kickball are going to yell mean things to her. I think I finally got through to her when I explained that #3 talks about not finishing her centers constantly and she had a theory that perhaps since she wore a skort to school that day instead of long pants that was why she had a bad day and missed me a lot and threw up.

So, I left a message for the school counselor today that under no circumstances is she to do the STUPID LAP if she has to go out to recess late. I offered to send a note in, get a note from our doctor and thank the Good Lord I know 2 of the recess aids very well (I'll be calling them tomorrow after I speak to the school counselor). Despite me telling her all this, #3 still is worried that something is going to go terribly wrong and she'll have to do the dreaded lap alone while the boys are playing kickball. I just keep praying and praying (and, so does she) and I actually am beginning to understand how helpless it feels to watch your child suffer from a torment that is out of your control. But, thankfully, it is not out of God's control. I have to remember that He is the God of breakthroughs and I will keep pressing in for this precious child and hope that she knows that sometimes doing the right thing isn't always the easy thing....but, she is always safe in the palm of His Mighty Hand.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Candy Bar Election

Sorry to those of you who already read this over at Created and Called. This is just one of those slightly bothersome things about blogging in 2 or more places! You can read about how #2's third grade class learned about the election process...peacefully. Just click HERE and look for the Candy Bar Election title.

By the way, Reece's has a slight lead over Hershey Bar and Butterfinger is bringing up the rear as of now, but online voting is still available until tomorrow! Anything can happen!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ok. Now, I'm Really Not Bitter.

It is time to move forward as a country. I am disappointed, yet, in the big picture of life I never really put my faith in a man or woman. I serve a BIG GOD and I know that He remains victorious. My faith is in the promises I have been given by a gracious and loving God.

While I was worshiping in our youth service tonight, I was reminded of Nehemiah and the work of re-building the wall around Jerusalem. "Re-building" means something was built and was torn down. It is time for a us to "re-build" the parts of society that have been torn down for decades...families need to stay together, people need to be healed of diseases and depression, and there is a world out there trying to satisfy itself with a lust for money, power and sex. We can only help to transform our society by asking Jesus to gives us the strength and the power to love unconditionally and obey Him without hesitation. And, just as God promised in Nehemiah's day, He will provide protection from the enemy and He will give us strength when we grow weary. We have nothing to fear! And, by the way, Obama is not the enemy I speak of.

Now seems to be as good a time as any to start re-building the walls with kind, compassionate words and actions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm Not Bitter. Really.

My TV satellite isn't getting a signal. It has to be the Republican party's fault. And, gosh darn's President Bush's fault that I can't seem to have kept off those extra 20 pounds over the last 8 years. And, who exactly is going to pay off my credit card debt? You don't expect ME to pay for all that by myself, do you? And, excuse me, but the SKY IS FALLING AND I'M WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO RESCUE ME FROM MYSELF......

Congratulations President-Elect Obama. Now, we get to see what you're really made of.

They Get an "A+" as Far I'm Concerned!

I just have to say that my kids have learned so much about politics, campaigns, Republicans, Democrats, elections and our government. We have had intelligent conversations and I am so proud of them for the interest they have taken. I am constantly hearing #3 asking her friends "Who are you cheering for...McCain or Obama?". I've had to explain that even though we don't agree with a certain person's policy we must still respect him as a person. Unfortunately, many adults need to be told that, as well.

We talked about money influencing a campaign and celebrity endorsements. And most of all, we have prayed. I explained to the girls that people will choose the leader that they want to represent them; however, God can still work in individual people's lives so that rather then rely on a government or a person, they rely on Him for their needs. And, we are representatives of Christ whether our candidate wins or not. We will do our part to pray for the new leaders. Whoever they end up to be.

I am so proud of my girls and can't help but wonder if I am raising any future politicians!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Be Careful What You Pray For!

One of the things #3 struggled with this year at school was a particular little boy in her class who was quite bossy and harsh. We would pray for him each night before bed. #3 would ask God to help him be nice.

Well....he's so nice that he told another little boy today to get off of his "girlfriend's" desk! I observed him making goo-goo eyes at her during craft time on Friday, but didn't think much of it. I was just thankful she didn't come home upset over his behavior and assumed all was well!

At least she really likes going to school again! She assured me that "we are just friends, but I am almost seven, Mom."!

oh my word.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Faith that Finds Cell Phones

The other night I let #1 go trick or treating with a girl on her soccer team and her family. At the beginning of soccer season I was not very fond of this young lady. She cursed and was bossy and actually punched #1 in the arm very rudely when #1 tried to stick up for someone she was bad mouthing. Strangely enough, over the last few weeks they have struck up a friendship. So, I figured it might not hurt for them to hang out for a few hours. I warned #1 that she should be the influence and not the other way around.

After dropping her off for awhile, I called #1 to tell her that I was going to pick her up and take her and her sisters over to our old neighborhood to visit friends during trick-or-treat, but she did not answer her phone. I must have called a dozen times in a 10-minute period and she didn't answer. I started to get those I'm-a-mother-and-I'm-praying-my-daughter-isn't-injured-or-in-trouble feelings and The Husband called to tell me that #1 lost her cell phone. To be accurate, her friend lost #1's phone. Her friend kept asking to play with her phone and then stuck it in her pocket (despite #1 asking for it back). At some point while they were walking around it fell out. In the dark. In neighborhoods filled with fallen leaves.

Let me break here to tell you that despite it being a needle in a haystack and the fact that someone could have stolen it or a car run over it, I knew that we would find the phone. Because in the backseat of my car were two little sisters praying their hearts out, almost tearfully, for the Lord to lead us to the phone and it would not be broken.

We searched and searched (#1 in tears) and we couldn't find it. Her friend felt bad, but told #1 to quit crying about it and made a few snide comments that weren't very comforting or encouraging to #1 (I wasn't there when she said anything or this post could have a whole different ending to it). I even went back the next morning before work to search for it, amazed at how many leaves actually grow and fall off the trees in this area. No phone. But, I just knew that God was going to answer all of our prayers and He would get the glory.

Sure enough, that evening, her friend called to say someone her parents knew and were talking to that night found the phone. It works fine and #1 (sort of shyly) told her friend that we prayed about it. The next day at soccer, her mom talked to me and shared a lot of personal things about their life that I never would have known. Later at church, I realized that God was setting up a divine connection with this family and I wanted to get to know them better. So, today, who do you think I ran into at the grocery store? Yes, the mom! I talked to her about coming over for dinner and she felt the need to warn me that their 9-year old son is autistic and been having a few "bad" weeks lately. I assured her that we still wanted them to come and we tentatively compared schedules.

There was some potential for me to just write this girl off, along with her family many months ago. But, I really tried to seek after the Lord on this and I believe He wants us to do more then just talk about loving people who are hard to love. He wants us to put that kind of love into action. It may not look the way I think it will, but I'm looking forward to where this all leads!