Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bright Spots

I don't want you to think everything before Christmas was glum and depressing.

Each of my daughter's gave me a cherished gift...things I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life.


One day, Sugar came home from school super-excited. She had discovered a classmate's father and his rare talent and she had plans to surprise me with a special Christmas gift. She is a master at suspense. :-) Every morning she would remind me that today might be the day that her gift was delivered and she might be carrying it home from school, so I was not to watch or peek anywhere near her backpack.

One night after dinner, I found a beautifully wrapped package sitting at the table. She wanted me to open it early.

Inside, on a bed of curly ribbon, I found chocolates (Dove) and homemade caramels! She knows I love caramel, but rarely buy it, and, of course, chocolate. Need I say more?

She is the sweetest, most thoughtful girl. (I wish I had taken a picture, but it's too late now. The evidence is gone.) ;-)


Then, a few days later, Cupcake came home from school, grinning ear to ear, with a package wrapped in tissue paper. She insisted I open it immediately.

They had made "gingerbread houses" at school. They used a milk carton, covered it with paper, painted it blue, and added frosting, candies, and cottonball snow. Isn't that cute?

Now here's the kicker.

Cupcake said, "Mommy, some of the kids ate their candy while they were putting their houses together, but I saved all of my candy for you. I wanted you to have it."

Understand this...Cupcake's love language is candy. She has an unhealthy desire for the sweet stuff. Not your typical sweet tooth. She can spot a candy jar in any home or office within 2 minutes of arriving. She begs and schemes and sneaks and manipulates for candy. Candy is an obsession with her.

So when she delayed her own gratification to please me, it spoke volumes.

First of all, she loves me! She wanted to give me candy. Her candy.

Second, she didn't do the impulsive thing! She actually made a conscious decision to put my interests in front of her own.

Thirdly, she is artistic! This house is well done. The concentration and focus that it must have taken to complete this amazes me.

What a special treat from my youngest daughter!


I love my girls!

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching Up

Sorry for going AWOL on you.

The pre-CHRISTmas rush had me a little overwhelmed. In fact, the pre-CHRISTmas stress sent me into an emotional tailspin. Last year, Cupcake had a wonderful month in December. She was positively angelic. Then, the day after CHRISTmas, she crashed and burned. It lasted for about 2 months. Not fun.

So, this year, she was not even going into CHRISTmas in the best frame of mind. And I was scared. Dreading the post-CHRISTmas fall, I feared the future. I mean all-consuming aversion to what I saw as the next two months of my life. I wanted to avoid the UP so I could avoid the DOWN. I couldn't focus. I did not experience a lot of joy in the quiet moments. No anticipation... no motivation...just dread.

Until the CHRISTmas Eve service.

It was crowded. The young kids and babies were noisy and restless (mine too). I imagine the manger was crowded and noisy too. We sang about Immanuel - God with us. Those words sank deep into my soul. We worshiped. I worshiped. We celebrated the Lord's Supper. I felt His presence. His peace washed over me like a warm blanket. He would be with me no matter what. Fun or not fun, He would be there. And HOPE was restored.

Well, as it turned out, CHRISTmas was fun. Everyone had a good time. We had a houseful of family. The food was fabulous, as always (thanks to my super-hostess mother-in-law.) The gifts were thoughtful and well-chosen. The conversation kind and warm. The cousins all played happily. It was a delightful day.

The day after - delightful.

The next day - delightful.

Today - delightful. (Well, I'm tired, and my house is a wreck, and we haven't found a place for all the new things yet, but delightful anyway.) :-)

So, we wish you a merry belated CHRISTmas!

Blessings to you,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comic Relief

Today was a bit rough. Cupcake had a couple of meltdowns. They can be pretty physical.

So, tonight, we're getting ready to eat dinner. All the big kids, plus one dinner guest, are already at the table.

Cupcake ran downstairs in a very disregulated state. It was clearly not safe to leave her downstairs alone, where she might destroy any number of things or get hurt. So, I went down and tried to calmly get her to come up on her own. After trying all my tricks, I finally picked her up and took her up the stairs and brought her to her own room, where she is safe to vent. Cupcake kicked and screamed the whole way.

Exhausted, I sit down to dinner. I'm breathing hard and am obviously troubled. Sugar asks if I'm okay. I sigh, "No. I feel like a just wrestled a 50 pound alligator up the stairs."

TE turns to me and, in his most crotchety grandfather voice, says, "When I was young, I used to wrestle alligators uphill both ways."

A little comic relief is just what I needed. I still cannot stop laughing.

I'm so thankful my big kids can roll with the punches and that we can laugh even when things are difficult.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hey, Mr. Bad Guy

Hey, Mr. Bad Guy,

The last time I talked to you, it may have sounded like I'm bitter about what happened and that I think I'm so much better than you. That's really not true.

Yes, I am angry about what happened. It was wrong. But no, I'm not bitter. Bitterness would eat at my soul and destroy me.

I am not bitter, but I have tasted something very bitter. When we chew on bitter food, we scrunch up our noses and say, "Eeeewww!" In the same way, as I carry my daughter's pain, I recognize the foul taste of this fallen world.

There is something significant in the bitter taste. My Jewish friends eat bitter herbs as they celebrate Passover. It is God's way to remind them that they were once slaves in Egypt, and slavery is bitter. God Almighty set them free. Life was once bitter, but no more.

A small taste of bitter reminds us of where we once were and does wonders for our thankfulness.

As I was writing the last post, I was tasting the bitter, and was reminded of my own rescue. I don' t think myself better than you. In fact, I'm not so very different from you, Mr. Bad Guy. I was once a "bad guy". I had junk that I wanted to hide, so people would not think poorly of me. As I contemplated the harsh truth, I asked myself if, in my life, I had ever believed any of those lies. The answer is yes - most of them. My sin is not the same, but my skewed thinking was in line with yours.

I used to think I was worthless and I treated others like they were too.
Now I know that I am valuable and God loved me enough to die for me. Other people are just as valuable --- even people who have hurt me and my children. And orphans, they have a special place in God's heart.

I used to think I was big and in control.
By my actions, I proved that I couldn't even control myself. My sin controlled me. I was a slave to it.

I used to think what I did didn't matter to others.
I didn't see it until afterward, but my sin affected so many others --- me, my husband, my kids, the youth I lead.

I thought there were no witnesses.
Jesus was there. He saw what I did.

I thought no one would ever find out. may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23.

Little did I know that I would confess my sin publicly after a simple question from a 7th grader. I was brought to my knees when the reality of my sin and it's affect on others hit me. At that moment, I knew I wasn't a good person. I was utterly spiritually and morally bankrupt.

Busted! My whole self-righteous charade was busted!

I was at the end of myself. That was when I looked to God and begged Him to forgive me. I wanted to be right with Him, but I had so screwed everything up. And that's when Jesus scooped my broken self up and held me close. He brushed away my tears and dusted me off. He gently lead me to discover who He is. He taught me the truth.

And one day, I asked Him to be Lord of my life. I would no longer be in charge of my life. I would submit to Him in everything.

And with that comes the greatest freedom you can ever know.

I thought I would get away with it.
But what about my sin? Does that mean I just get a pass? Did I get away with it?


My guilt weighed heavily on me until I was forgiven. And, even now, the consequences are in place.

My sin was not overlooked. It was paid for. Jesus took the punishment that I deserved. The seriousness of that does not escape me.

One day, I will stand at the judgment seat, and as the Father looks at me, He will see the righteousness of Jesus Christ, instead of my ugliness. I'm covered with Him.

You could be covered too, if only you will seek out who He is and submit your life to Him. I pray you do.

Blessings to you,

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This picture says it all.


Me too, Baby, me too. :-)

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey Mr. Bad Guy

I'd like to clear a few things up. You see, Mr. Bad Guy, you were mistaken.

You thought she was worthless.
She is priceless.

You thought she was a throw-away.
She is a KEEPER!

You thought she deserved what she got.
She is a child. No child ever deserves to be treated like that.

You thought she didn't belong to anybody.
She belongs to me! She belongs to Daddy!
And, moreover, she belongs to God!
You messed with a child of the King!

You thought you were so big and in control.
By your actions, you proved that you can't even control yourself.

You thought what you did didn't matter.
The damage you caused affects Cupcake, her family, her classmates, the neighbors and countless others.

You thought there were no witnesses.
Jesus was there. He saw what you did.

You thought no one would ever find out. may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23

I know what you did. This kind of stuff will not stay hidden forever.

You thought you were going to get away with it.
There will be a day of reckoning.

One day, your soul will be laid bare before the LORD Almighty. I pray that you are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ when that day comes.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Go Ahead and Laugh

I pulled a good one today.

I intended to drop one kid at home, grab a bottle of water, and head out again for more errands. As I walked in the door, TE handed me the phone. It was Daddy. So I grabbed the water, jumped in the car and set off up the street - all the while talking on the phone. It wasn't until I was about a block away that Daddy's At that moment I realized that I had driven off with the cordless home phone up to my ear!


Go ahead and laugh.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eagle Project

TE has been working towards his Eagle Rank in the Boy Scouts of America. It involves a serious project, where the boy plans the project in writing, leads in the implementation of it, and follows up with a written report. It's a big deal.

The planning stage has been done for a few weeks. He chose to put in a permanent fire pit and benches at our church. For the last two weekends, he has lead other scouts in the actual construction.

Two Saturdays ago, they built 5 benches from scratch in our garage.

Three generations of scouts.

Last Saturday, he lead the installation of the benches and firepit.

It looks so simple like this. But, let me tell you, it was A LOT OF WORK! TE did a great job of planning and leading and everything went off smoothly. I'm so proud of him.

The men of the church still have a little work left to do with trimming some of the brush nearby and putting down more rock around the pit and benches. That will happen this Saturday. I'll probably take another picture or two of the finished product.

Then it's on to the final write-up....One more big hurdle.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Pics

Cupcake chose to be Sharpei from High School Musical. I bought a $4 prom dress from Goodwill and a wig from the party store. Ta-da! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sharpei the diva...

The wig lasted about 5 minutes into the Kindergarten Party. It apparently looked better than it felt. She decided she was Gabriela (from High School Musical) instead. That worked.

On Saturday, she decided she wanted to be a fairy queen. So the costume morphed again...

Sugar found a pharoah hat for the pup (It was made for a cat. Shhhh...Don't tell pup.)

So she decided to be an Egyptian princess again this year.

Rascal was totally content to be king...NOT. His hat came off quicker than Cupcake's wig.

No dogs were hurt in the filming of these pictures...Well, his feelings were hurt.

On a different note...yesterday was, in fact, spent doing a lot more than just trick-or-treating. More on that later.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Did I mention that I am raising a little diva?

Well, two actually....

The girls have recently had a few moments of actually being friends, and not just sisters...and that makes my heart happy.

I was the only sister among brothers, and daddy only had brothers, so this whole "girlie" thing is a little new for us. We're still finding our way in the scary world of "girls".

Did you know that accessories make the look?

For instance, a pillow, a blanket, and a wicker trunk make for an adorable little baby...

A jester's hat is the latest in high fashion....

A little face paint can turn an ordinary kid into the cat's meow...

Fall leaves in the hair can make anybody look good....

A cute puppy is the ultimate fashion accessory...

And look at Cupcake now...

Isn't she adorable in glasses? And no, she doesn't need them...not to see. They are a fashion necessity. She bought these at the dollar aisle at Target. We popped the lenses out. She has been wearing them non-stop since then. Isn't that a hoot? Sugar is begging to wear contacts. Cupcake is begging to wear glasses. I'm pretty sure it's because she wants to look just like her big sister. Isn't that sweet?

And speaking of sweet...Cupcake wants the world to know that she has a giant jawbreaker.

And the sugar on her chin is just the perfect accessory.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hey, Mr. Bad Guy...

I have decided to write a series of posts directly to the bad guys in Cupcake's life. I have a lot of unprocessed feelings about the individuals who hurt my daughter. I know her bad guys are not reading this. Most likely, they don't even speak English. I'm doing this as a way of working through my feelings. I must get them down on "paper" and out of my system. Maybe a real-life bad guy will read this, come to his senses, see the damage he has done, repent, and find healing. Maybe I can help other moms and dads who are working through these same issues. Maybe I just need to vent.

In any case, it will not be pretty at tonight.

Hey Mr. Bad Guy,

Sometimes, I hate your guts.

Sometimes, I want you to suffer at the hands of someone who is bigger than you.

Sometimes, I'm glad you live in a far away country. If you lived here, I may be tempted to hunt you down and destroy you.

Sometimes, I hope God takes you out, so you won't hurt any more kids.

Sometimes, I pray for your salvation, so your life might be redeemed. I would hate for anyone to meet God with that kind of guilt on their heads.

Sometimes, I weep for you. You are putty in Satan's hands.

Sometimes, I feel sorry for you. You were probably a victim yourself.

However, that does not excuse what you did to my little girl. There is no excuse for that.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rough Day

This is the kind of day we had at our house...

Cupcake is going through something that is NO FUN.

Not fun for any of us. I'm weary.

Please pray for a breakthrough for us.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Campers

Hallelujah! We survived September!

All the college visits are done! :-) Now to decide....hmmm....more on that later.

For our final college visit, we decided to check out Purdue University in Indiana. Since it's a 5 hour drive from here, we decided to go camping and spend some good quality family time around this trip.

This would be Cupcake's very first experience camping!

And it would be our first time camping with four kids and a dog!

We don't pack light. We must always prepare for all possibilities. Boy Scouts are always prepared.

It was a long drive. It took 7 hours, between puppy potty breaks, fighting kids needing calming, dinner and the rain. Oh, and the winding country roads through the middle of nowhere in the dark and in the rain.

So, we arrived 15 minutes before the gates closed at the campground. It was cold. And it was drizzling. Our plan was to use the headlights of the van to set up the tent. That worked for about 15 minutes...until they began to dim and the battery reached near-death. We were able to revive it just in time and were able to finish unpacking.

We've always camped in the primitive sites, but this time we decided to get a site with electricity for several reasons. We planned to use our air pump to blow up the air mattresses. We planned to plug in some electric blankets because northern Indiana is way colder than St. Louis this time of year, plus the temperatures plummeted last weekend. and the boys wanted to use the laptop. Unfortunately, the power was for an RV plug - not a regular electrical outlet. So much for our plans. By this time, Cupcake is whining and crying that she is tired, cold and wet. We're thinking we're going to be sleeping on the cold, hard ground covered in walnuts with no air mattresses and no electric blankets.

Never fear, we have a power converter in the van. It takes the cigarette lighter plug and converts it to a regular household plug. The only problem is that the air pump takes more amps or volts or whatever than the van puts out. So, we blow up the mattresses 5 seconds at a time. We turn off the pump whenever we smell the burn. Seriously.

We crawled into bed for the night. PHEW!

The first night, it got down to 38 degrees. We all survived.

The next morning, TE and Daddy toured the campus at Purdue. More on the college stuff later. The other kids and I drove around West Lafayette looking for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's are notoriously wrong on GPS systems, but I digress.

After lunch, we went back to the campsite and had a wonderful afternoon of goofing off. The Wabash river was a few hundred feet behind us and we had our own personal sandbar for skipping rocks and finding shells and taking pictures of ALL FOUR KIDS TOGETHER.

We had fallen logs to climb.

We had toads to catch.

We had playsets to play on.

Rascal spent his days barking at every person that walked by...and getting tangled up in all the tent ropes and poles.

Daddy enjoyed his time making a power converter to go from RV power to regular power. We had electric blankets on the second night. :-) And the boys got to use the laptop. Did I mention that it pays to marry an engineer?

Mostly, the boys just enjoyed getting back to nature.

A good time was had by all.

The funny thing is, with all that went wrong, you would think I hate to camp, or at least I would now. But I love it. Nothing ever goes as planned. Sometimes you're cold and uncomfortable and you don't know how to make things right. But you're a family and you're in it together. and when you come home, you have great stories and great memories. Camping is fun.

When we asked Cupcake what she thought of camping, she said she liked it, except for the cold. I'm with her. :-)

Blessings to you,