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,