This is hard.

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For those of you that do not know, my family just moved from the state of Oregon to the state of Illinois.

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It was a long process, filled with questions, some doubts, but through it all, an underlying peace about the decision to accept the transfer. I also felt as if this was an incredible opportunity for our family, a raise, a lower cost of living, a step up the socioeconomic ladder. But I will admit this is hard. It’s even difficult to admit to this. Why? Because my mom reads my blog. And she’s a mom.

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School is hard. Since my husband is working in Wisconsin, most of the information found was about Wisconsin, but we also found a highly rated school district in Illinois. My children are less than impressed. They say the lunches are too small and the school is too big.

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Housing is hard. The owner of the home we are renting wants us to take care of everything as if we owned the home, but still pay him rent…fix a burnt out dishwasher two weeks after moving in, pay for a plumber for a problem started before we moved in. And tenants have little or no representation in our area.

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Moving is hard. I am two thousand miles from my family, my friends, and my church. Two thousand miles from my support system. Two thousand miles from the schools who knew my children and their, um, quirks. So I get up in the morning and force myself to get out, volunteer at the schools, go to events, meet people!

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Blogging is hard. I started this blog not just as a way to share my life, but to encourage others. Yet when I’m feeling lonely and sad, it’s difficult to muster up the energy and the creativity.
I intended to end this blog with the 23rd Psalm as encouragement for you…and for myself. But as I scooted over to BibleGateway.com (use it, love it) I was greeted by the verse of the day. This just seems more poignant.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 NIV.

So I don’t have gray hairs….yet. Although, some days I wonder if my hair will even last that long with the stresses of daily life. Yet I am comforted by the reminder that He is with me. When I feel alone, I am NOT alone. When I cannot go on, He will carry me. When I am broken, He will rescue me. All I need to do is trust and believe and follow
Today I have signed up for the Old and New Testament reading plan on Bible Gateway. Please join me and feel free to share your thoughts as we walk through God’s word together.

http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/

Why I hate television…

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Actually, not really. But I do. It’s really more a love-hate thing.  One moment I’m drooling over sizable flat televisions and the latest and greatest in home sound systems.  The next moment I’m threatening to go Amish in terms of electronics in our home.  I lecture the boys on violent video games, yet I secretly love that Steven Seagal movie (Under Siege 2, in case you were wondering) where the trains run into each other…that must have been awesome on the big screen!

Sometimes television can be educational…I watched Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow as a child.  When we had cable, the most viewed channels were Discovery, History and Food, with Nick Jr, and HGTV coming in close behind.  But even then I feel the costs outweigh the benefits.

So here are the reasons why I hate television:

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1. Lack of face time.  When we are facing a screen, we are not facing each other.  The same goes for video games and computer time.

2. It’s a time suck.  We could be spending this time learning new things, enjoying hobbies, visiting with friends and family (see #1).

3. We laugh at behaviors we shouldn’t.  Or accept things. Sex outside of committed relationships, drugs, murder, dishonesty, lack of respect.  These are things we should abhor, but we welcome them into our homes and into our heads, and ultimately our hearts.  Garbage in, garbage out.

4. It is a petri dish of discontentment.  Action, drama, romance, comedy.  Our lives can seem bland by comparison.  Home decorating shows are the worst for me.  My home does not look like those (c’mon, I have five SONS).  A line in Sleepless in Seattle goes something like this “You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.”  Real live isn’t like television, and really, it would be exhausting if it were.

Does this all mean we don’t or won’t have television in our home?  I doubt it.  But I try to be responsible with it.  Sometimes I fail, sometimes I let things slide, but then we just try again.  Here are some ways we are trying to be more responsible with our viewing:

1. Limiting the time and type of shows and movies the children watch.  It is recommended that children watch no more than 2 hours per day (and this is on the high end) and children under the age of two should watch none at all.  Preview movies before they see them. The rating system is a guideline, but each family is different.

2. Watching television with the children.  And talk about what you are viewing.

3. Have TV free times or days.  And plan other activities for these times.  It’s too easy to say “There’s nothing to do, what’s on TV?”  Game nights, reading nights (think blankets, pillows, hot chocolate, and a pile of good books!), go to the park.  We also try to have a “screen-time curfew”.  The artificial lighting and rapid stimulation from television/video games interferes with our bodies natural rhythm.  Turn screens off at least an hour before bedtime, Mom and Dad too!

4. This is very important: COMMUNICATE.  DaddyFoster and I have different view and emotions about television.  United parenting is important to the emotional health of children, and communication is the key to this, in media viewing and so much more.

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So, if you’ll excuse me, I think I will turn off the screens now, and challenge my sons to another game of cribbage.

 

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The past couple of weeks have been spent in an “I’m-moving-across-the-country-with-5-boys” sort of daze. It is accentuated by the “away-from-everyone-and-everything-I-know” shock. And of course, there is the “I-haven’t-slept-in-my-own-bed-for-9-days” exhaustion. So here we are, our first morning in our new place. We only have on vehicle as our car will not arrive for another 4 or 5 days. We still have some items at the hotel I must retrieve today.
(shameless free advertisement: Of all the places we stayed, Best Western and Red Lion were totally awesome!)
And pretty much everything is still in boxes.
All this to say: if this post makes no sense whatsoever, it can be blamed on the aforementioned maladies.

I am not a perfect parent.  (Duh, obviously!)

I want to be a perfect parent.  I want every decision and action I make to be the best one, the correct one every time.  I wish every snapshot of our lives was glowing and happy and flawless.

On this great caravan across 7 states my thoughts drifted to books I recently read to the boys by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I giggled as I imaged Ma and Pa Ingalls on their journey saying to their sweet children some of the things we have on our trip.

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“Look out your own side of the wagon!”

“If you don’t speak, there will be nothing for your sibling to copy!”

“If you don’t look at your sibling, you won’t see the faces/rude gestures they are making!”

“Didn’t you just go pee?  Just how small is your bladder, anyway?”

“For the sanity and safety of everyone, please just be quiet!”

It may be the exhaustion, but imagining Ma and Pa uttering some of these (and maybe a few I won’t put down here) made me giggle.  While they may not have said these things, traveling with small children can take a lot out of you, and I am sure this pioneering family was no exception.  Laura may have portrayed her parents as nearly perfect, but I am sure they may have said differently.  But they were good parents.

What is the difference between perfect parents and good parents?

 

A perfect parent knows she is perfect.
A perfect parent never needs help.
A perfect parent always knows what to do and never makes mistakes.
A perfect parent never grows, never changes, never learns.
A perfect parent never makes mistakes, setting the bar impossibly high for her children.
A perfect parent is never truly perfect.

A good parent knows she is not perfect.
A good parent recognizes when she needs help and asks for it.
A good parent struggles over decisions and second guesses.
A good parent makes mistakes and apologizes, thus teaching her children how to make mistakes and make things right.
A good parent is sometimes a little too strict (at least according to my son’s friends).
A good parent is sometimes a little too lax (did I ever tell about the time I let the boys put ice cream on their pancakes?).
A good parent wonders if she is a good parent.

I think I’d rather be a good parent than a perfect one.

 

 

Letting Go

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My oldest son is on his way to Mexico today.  I am both excited and nervous.  When a child is born, we know we must let go someday.  But it doesn’t just suddenly and magically happen.  It is a process.  A very long process.  Sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes exhilarating.

I graduated college with a degree in human development and have often joked that my family is like my own science lab.  It is true that I have the awesome privilege of watching these boys grow and learn, but this is hardly an unbiased experiment.  I have heard that having a child is like having your heart walking around outside of your body, such an apt description.

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And you can feel it, can’t you?  When you watch your heart walk into the kindergarten classroom.  Or when you drop your heart off for that first sleepover, or summer camp.  Or when that heart boards a plane for the first time.  Or when your heart makes a family of their own (a “few” years off for me).  And then your heart learns what this feels like.

My prayer for my son this week is for open eyes and a receptive heart.  For hard work.  For spiritual growth.  And of course, for safety.

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Be still…

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I did it. I finally cried. Why? Because I’m frustrated. Because I’m lonely. Because I’m tired. Because my husband is 2,000 miles away. 2,055 miles according to Google maps. Because I’m discouraged and overwhelmed.  So I’m sitting here with my sharing size bag of peanut M&M’s.  And I’m not sharing them.

We are both feeling a little overwhelmed and discouraged.  DaddyFoster arrived in our new state last Monday. He has to find us a home before he returns here on July 3rd to join us on the 5 day trip across the country.  We’re only one week into this…how much sanity will I have at the end?

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And what a noisy home search it has been.

“Live here!”

“Don’t live there!”

“There’s crime in that neighborhood!”

“This neighborhood is safe!”

“These schools are rated the best!”

“These schools are…ok.”

I have even been told about the “diversity” of the various cities and towns, as well as these areas level of open-mindedness to said “diversity”.  I can honestly say in all my moves (9 times in 16 years) has this ever been a conversation.

And the noise is getting to me.  It’s getting to DaddyFoster too.  I can hear in his voice.  I think if we don’t find a place soon, I can imagine him spinning in a circle with his eyes closed, then pointing at the first house he sees. “That’s it!”  Don’t do it, Sweetie, you’ll get awfully dizzy.

It’s not that we’re not accustomed to noise.  We do have five sons.  There are shouts and screams, bellows and bangs, giggles and songs.  We have a bass and a tenor, a trumpet player and a trombone player and one who can cry louder than any one else in the world.  You think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  We play video games and board games, watch movies, and listen to lots of music.  We love music.  So, you see, noise is no stranger to the Foster clan.

But this is a noise that gets into your head.  It clangs and bangs and gets in the way.  You can’t think, you can’t sleep, you can’t hear…..Him.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

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Yes.  Be still.  Meditate on Him.  Shut out the noise.

And know that He is God.  God!  The Creator!  The King of this crazy jungle we call life!  He is in control.  What do we have to be worried about?

But I admit it.  I am worried.  That is something I have trouble letting go of.  I try giving these worries to God, but I think I feel naked without them, so I take them back.  Sigh.

So we’re asking for prayer tonight.  Friends, please pray for encouragement.  Pray we are still, that we move past the “noise” of this crazy move, and listen the Lord.  Pray for that peace that passes all understanding.  Thank you.

 

 

 

Living the Journey

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“Children, Go where I send thee! How shall I send thee?”

Remember this song? I’m not sure it ever left me. As soon as I was old enough, I helped my parents in the Sunday school, then taught 4 and 5 year old’s as a teenager. Now I’m a parent, and this song is on just about every children’s Bible song CD and in every children’s church classroom.  Today, this song is front and center in my mind, playing over and over.  You see, we’re moving.

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“Mommy?  When are we going to move from this house?”

This is how the conversation started with my five year old one day in late September.
“We’ll move when God tells us to move.”  “OK.”  I thought that was that.  I thought the answer satisfied him.  And I was glad.  I don’t like moving.  No. I loathe moving.  Some rather unpleasant experiences have left me with intensely negative emotions around moving.  Besides, this is the city where I had always wanted to live.  Where I wanted to put down roots.  Where I wanted to be involved with the schools, the government, everything.   The next time we move, it had better be out of rentals and into our own home.  Here.  In my city.  Little did I know…..

“Mommy?  When is God going to tell us to move from this house?”  This is how the next morning started.  “I don’t know, Sweetie.  But when He tells us to move, that’s when we’ll move.”

She said it!  Cue the ringing phone!

It’s DaddyFoster telling me they’re moving operations to Wisconsin.  Oh.  Unemployment?  “They’ve offered me a job, a transfer.”  What?!?

“Children, go where I send thee.”

It is truly a song about living out our faith.

Wherever we are, wherever we land, is where the Lord has sent us.  You may not be traveling to foreign lands, feeding starving orphans, or sharing the truth with lost tribes.  Those people need God, yes, but so do the people where you are.  Do you work in an office?  Let your light shine!  Do your children bring their friends home?  Let your light shine!  Do you work with your hands in construction or mechanics?  Let your light shine!  What do you do?  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

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“How shall I send thee?”

And about going where He sends us.

Even when it’s a little scary.  (We don’t have a landing pad yet.)  Even when there is a giant looming before us.  (A five day trip with five boys ages 5 to 16?)  Even when it means transplanting your family of seven 2,000 miles away from extended family and friends.  (We must get that Skype account).

Pray with our family, as DaddyFoster leaves a month before us, and I am here with the boys; as he looks for a home for us there; as the children (and us) have worries and second thoughts; as the moving company packs and transports our “stuff”; as we get to know our new home; as we go where He sends us.

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I’m back!

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Common Tiger Butterfly on Yellow Flower in Phuket Thailand

Hello! How I have missed you. It has been quite some time since my last blog post and I apologize. Scaling back to once a week when I went back to work for a short time was working well, until I got a little sick. One Tuesday morning I woke up with a lot of pain. I powered through the day, expecting a good night sleep to solve the problem (apparently I still think I have the body of a teenager). But, alas, it was not to be. After several visits to the naturopath, an MRI, and blood tests we have discovered my thyroid levels are too low. For those of you unfamiliar with this multitasking organ, one of those tasks is to heal and renew the body. While I am not doing stunts or running marathons, everyday life wears one down. Finally, my body could not keep up. My healing powers were on backorder. With adjustments to medication, as well as methods to combat pain and inflammation, I am improving slowly. Each day is an experiment in understanding how much I can do without over-doing. A practice in prioritizing and compromising. And a lesson in asking for and accepting help when I need it.
For today I leave you with this encouragement, from 2 Corinthians 4, verses 16-18 (NIV):
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Grumpy Cinderella

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  This is my favorite passage.  The one I would have as a tattoo if I was brave enough to do such a thing.  This is my go-to passage.  And I share it, because joyful is exactly what I am NOT feeling tonight.

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I sat in front of my computer for a while, blank page before me, thinking “what can I say to encourage others tonight?” One problem: how can I inspire you, if I am not feeling inspired myself?  And it’s not just uninspired.  I am downright grumpy.  Staring at the computer was interrupted several times by children needing water, kisses, help in the bathroom, or reminders of bedtime rules.  So I gave up and closed the computer, knowing full well working full time means you wouldn’t see a post for another week.

Then Grumpy moved to the kitchen, where my oldest son (and his ADHD inherited from me) once again did not finish the dishes.  “But I filled the dishwasher and ran it!”  Because everything we use in a day can be cleaned in a dishwasher.  Including the electric griddle which has been sitting on the counter for a week.  This is when I turned into Cinderella minus the birds and singing mice.  “Sing Sweet Nightingale” was replaced by incoherent grumblings and some rather loud dishwashing.

This is when I learned some things:

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Joyfulness, prayer, and thanks all work together and at the same time.  Prayer is a constant dialogue with our Maker.  And what a thing to be thankful for!  And when we are thankful, we find joy, which leads us to prayer and thankfulness.  It’s as if all these things are a bubbling fountain, each a result of His love for us, as well as an outpouring of our love for Him.

Joyfulness does not mean I won’t ever be unhappy.  This is Earth, we are human.  There are bound to be moments of disappointment.  These are emotions, along with anger, sadness, fear, grumpiness, happiness, joy, surprise, love.  These are a part of who we are, how we are made.  Emotions are also reactions to happenings in our lives.  And we have choices.  Tonight I was choosing grumpy.  Really I was choosing uber-impatient, snappy, grumbly, mumbly mommy, and she’s not pretty.  It’s not always easy to choose joy, but we have a God who listens.  “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:8 and Luke 11:10 NIV)”

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

I do not have to be shiny and perfect for Him to use me for His purposes.  I do not have to be superwoman to inspire you.  Sometimes I encourage best when I feel I’m at my worst.

Confessions of a Young Writer

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After spending the day sorting through old papers, I thought I would share with you an essay written in college. Some things have changed since October of 2004. Some life events, another child, and a lot of growth has happened, but my love of writing has been constant.

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Confessions of a Young Writer

It’s a quiet night, about nine pm.  The children are all asleep and my husband has gone out for the night.  I have the house all to myself.  It is the perfect time to sit down and write.  I sit down at our large table.  Dark hammered hard wood gives the impression of age, and the benches provide room for eight or even ten people.  But tonight the seats are empty.  Except for my notebook and two sharpened pencils, the only objects on the table are the candles and some crumb missed by the dishcloth.  As I sit staring at the paper I think “what to write?”  Many times I have sat down with a blank sheet of paper, my hands aching to write something, but nothing in my head.  The clean white paper seems to beg to me, will me to fill its pale blue lines with my dreams, my imaginings, my memories.  Sometimes the words come easily; I already have them in mind before I sit down.  Other times I eventually give up, putting away the paper and the pencils for another day.

For me, writing is a sensory experience.  I love the smell of the pencil that has been freshly sharpened.  They always have to be perfectly sharp.  A dull pencil won’t do; it stifles my creativity.  I enjoy the feeling of the smooth paper under my hands and a slender, sturdy pencil between my fingers.  Listening to the gentle scritch-scratch of the pencil smoothly gliding across the paper.  Watching my thoughts, my imagination come to life on the page.  Filling line after line, sheet after sheet with my words.

*     *     *

It’s third grade.  My teacher, Mrs. Priester, has dancing eyes and short brown hair.  Her laughter sounds like little squeaks, like a small toy being squeezed over and over.  It makes me smile whenever I hear it.  While learning about the Netherlands we are sampling sweets and cheeses, and learning about Sinter Claus.

The big event this year is our spelling bee.  I am a good speller, but so is Joyce.  We’re the only two left.  I don’t much like Joyce.  She told Eric I like him, which is true, but I don’t want him to know.  And once she told me that the paste was mashed potatoes.  I knew it was only paste and I told her I wouldn’t eat it.  She laughed and said she was just teasing.

Long after the other students are working on other projects we sit in the back of the room with our teacher.  Back and forth, word after word.  But in the end, I had spelled the most words correctly.  My reward is entry into the big spelling bee at the shopping mall.  My mom and my Sunday school teacher, Leah, are there.  I can see them standing above me on the upper level, smiling and talking.  They see me looking and wave enthusiastically.  The words get bigger and bigger.  I make it up to words larger than eight letters.

Crocodile.  C-r-o-c-a-d-i-l-e.  Crocodile.  It’s incorrect.  Crocodile is spelled c-r-o-c-O-d-i-l-e.  I get to go home with a certificate of participation and the correct spelling of crocodile engraved into my memory, for life.

One of my favorite things to do in class is make books.  We write out our stories; then Mrs. Priester hands a small book to write it in.  The covers are thick and textured, made from discarded samples from wall paper books.  The pages inside are grayish with solid and dotted lines, so I know how tall to make all my letters.  For Halloween I write a spooky story, and write in a book shaped like a ghost.  Seeing our finished products, our creations, give us a sense of pride and accomplishment.

*     *     *

I’m not able to write anything tonight.  The words are not coming together.  I put away my pencils and paper and begin my nightly routine.  This is when my small neurosis, or obsessive-compulsiveness really rears its strange head.  Moving in a counterclockwise direction through the house to check that everything is safe and locked for the night.  I start in the playroom checking the window locks, looking in the storage closet to make sure nothing is hiding in there, and turn out the light.  Then into the kitchen where all knobs on the oven are glanced over and the windows and back door are locked, including the hinge lock that keeps my children safely inside at night.  Tonight because I am alone I am extra careful.  I must make sure that there is nothing on the stove top except the whistling teapot, and that the toaster, mixer and coffee machines are unplugged.  I then check all the windows in the livingroom, and switch for the fireplace.  Last before I head upstairs is the bathroom window and the front door.  On a good night everything is only checked once.  On a night like thins, when I am home alone with the boys, I will check a second time.  If I’m exceptionally stressed, I may wonder as I drift off to sleep if I have remembered everything, and I will come down to check again.

*     *     *

Sixth grade.  I am eleven years old.  We are in the gymnasium for a school assembly.  I am standing in front of all the students, my paper shaking in my hands.  Along with a fellow student, I have been chosen to read my story before the school.  I see my hands shaking.  My voice quivers so much, I’m afraid I cannot read.  They say I did fine.  They could hardly tell I was nervous.  I wonder how they missed it.  From among the many students in my grade that wrote stories.  I was chosen to attend a special weekend program for young writers.

Early that Saturday morning my dad and I pack our lunch bags and drive to the district office.  It is a cool and dusky morning.  We board the school bus with several other students and parents.  The ride to Eugene is long, but I enjoy the time talking to my dad.  He tells me about riding the bus to school when he was a kid.  About slouching down in your seat and putting your knees on the back of the seat in front of you, about sitting over the wheel well in the rear of the bus.  We arrive at the University of Oregon campus and make our way to a large lecture hall.  My stomach growls and I pull the almonds out of my bag.  They are bitter and oily, but they calm the monster in my belly.  This is my first time on a college campus and I am overwhelmed by the size of it.  Some of the buildings are very old.  They seem like stuffy, worn, and aged men sitting about a large room.  I sit listening to one of the college professors in one of these ancient oracles of the past.  It smells dusty and old.  The chalk board looks weathered from the years of lectures and lesson, the chairs creek under our weight.

*     *     *

Before I retire to my bedroom for the night I look in on the boys.  Benjamin has wiggled out of his blanket, so I cover him as I gently kiss his cheek.  Then I stand on the side of his bed to reach Samuel in the top bunk.  He is nestled on the far side of his bed.  I watch a moment for the soft rise and fall of his side as he breathes, then I lay a kiss on his hand.  In the next bedroom, Jacob is close to the head of his bed.  This is where he always sleeps, and he is close enough for me to climb the ladder and bury my face in his hair.  It smells of my fruity hair gel and sweet little boys sweat.  The baby is sleeping soundly on his crib mattress below.  He is a very shallow breather and I hold my breath watching for his.  I kiss his bare baby back right between his tiny shoulder blades, hoping he will stir so that I know he is OK.  He does stir, almost too much, and I hold my breath again hoping he will stay asleep.

*     *     *

I’m not the only one in my family who writes.  My brother plays guitar and writes wonderful songs.  He wrote a song for my parents on their 25th wedding anniversary.  After my great grandfather finally succumbed to cancer, my aunt wrote a beautiful poem, one more to ad to her collection of moving, emotionally charged verses.  My great grandmother even had a book of poetry published: Poetic Gems by Evelene Alice Stout.  It is a thin paperback book with a worn orange cover.  I read my favorite over and over:

Life’s Song

My world is filled with melody,
(Like a summer breeze)
Refreshing, enchanting and sweet.
My heart is filled with notes
(Like a meadowlark)
Inspiring, with reverence, complete.

One of her poems was typed up and printed out for the whole family at a recent reunion.

*     *     *

In my room I grab my journal.  The black spiral binding holds together the perfectly re covers.  I chose it for the color, red is a Chinese symbol for good luck.  It is easy for me to write in my journal.  Sometimes I get carried away and tonight is no exception.  Before I know it the clock says midnight.  I haven’t noticed, I am too wrapped up in the writing to feel tired.  The pages are filled with events, feelings, dreams, and prayers.  Yet I am careful of what I write.  Someday I will be gone and this will be all there is left of me: my writings.  What will my personal journals say about who I am?  Although I may share my frustrations about situations or people, I am not critical or cutting toward anyone.  My writing is honest, loyal, and kind.  In the first entry I set the tone with one of my favorite verses: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).”  My words must show integrity, and respect for the subjects.

*     *     *

I’m a junior in high school, David Douglas High.  I have a tight group of friends and I’m getting average grades.  Much of my time is spent in the Performing Arts Center, building sets and learning about the sound system.  But not everything is going great.  I have been dealing with serious depression and anxiety for four years.  Some days are better than others.  Occasionally I can have an entire month worth of good days, but that is rare.  On the bad nights I have started checking the locks on the doors and the windows.

Notebooks and journals have been filled with writings and poetry.  It’s what keeps me sane.  If I can get it onto the paper, it’s not in my head anymore.  I can see it and start to make sense of it.

One poem tells of an invisible box.  The anxiety has me trapped, chained into something I cannot see.  Another wonders who will help me.  But another tells of the value of friendship.  My feelings put to rhythm and rhyme.

*     *     *

I begin looking through past entries in my journal.  The feelings are fresh as I read them on the page.  The happiness when my children have said funny things and the excitement when I learned I was pregnant again.  The nervousness when I started school and the grief when I lost a friend in Iraq.  When I read my writings I learn things about myself.   Like meeting a new person or doing a character study.  What have I learned about myself.  I’m a little neurotic.  I want to be remembered as a woman with integrity.  I value honesty and respect.  I love my children dearly.  I have been inspired by many people: teachers, parents, friends, my  boys.  I have many thoughts and dreams and hopes.

*     *     *

I am twenty-five years old and a mother of three.  For years I have abandoned writing except for journal writing, and even that is rare.  It may be from a fear of failure.  I always know there is someone out there better than me.  I don’t want to be the best, I just want to be worthy of reading.  I begin writing articles for a website I created, but don’t follow through after 9/11.  Ideas for books and articles are swimming through my head; about parenting, crafts, children, gardening, faith.  Projects have been played with and began.  Short little sections in my journals.  Maybe someday I will be brave enough to let someone read them.

*     *     *

It is evening again and I am putting my children to bed.  As I rub my three year old’s back the soft light from the hallway seems to shimmer in his strawberry blond hair.  They are sleeping and once again I sit down with my clean white paper and my two sharp pencils.  The words come easily tonight.  They flow smoothly from my mind to my hand, onto the paper.  I write.  I write for those who inspire me; for those who teach me; for those who encourage me.  I write for my children, for their past and for their future.  I write because it’s in my blood.  I write to keep me sane.  I write to be remembered.  I write to be respectful and loyal.  I write to learn, about others and myself.  I write to improve my writing.  I write for the feel of the paper and the smell of the pencils.  I write for the sheer joy of it.

Why I celebrate my birthday…

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birthday

This coming Monday, the 8th of April, is my 37th birthday. Yes, I am approaching the top of that hill. Yes, have a few wrinkles (mostly from laughter). And I think I may have found a gray hair last week, but I can’t be sure.

But I am going to celebrate! Why? Because it’s a miracle! I was born with a birth defect that could have been deadly had it not been found and treated. I make jokes about it all the time. “When I arrived, the package read ‘thyroid not included’.” As if I were a Christmas toy. “I’m a freak of nature!” This may be true, but not due to a missing organ.

And I can laugh about this now. I could have been delayed, I could have been a vegetable, I could have died. But I didn’t. The Lord’s timing is divine. Many studies were being done, and as a result, it became mandatory in January of 1976, to test for thyroid function in the heel stick blood tests done on infants. I arrived in April. At two months old, shortly after my 6 week checkup, just as my growth had begun to level off (not what a baby’s growth is supposed to do!), they called my parents to bring me in for more tests. It is now suggested this deficiency be found much earlier. My parents realize the little pills I needed daily WERE my thyroid, and necessary for normal growth. And so here I am, 37 years later: a happy marriage, five beautiful sons, a degree, and a great job.

It is not just my birthdays I celebrate. Every day that I take breath is a miracle. It is another day to learn, to grow. It is another day to give. It is another day to love. It is another day to do what God put me on this world to do.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Even if my first year had been uneventful and perfectly normal, everyday is a gift. Today I will rejoice and be glad!

rejoice