The best gift was what I didn’t give…

Yesterday was Alli’s birthday.  She turned 11 and I wanted to pamper her with girlie things.  We had a “girl day” out with her sister and I, and we planned to just do the fun and silly things we girls loved doing.  I had shared with Lindsey secretly that I wanted to take Alli to the beauty college and get them both manicures.  They’d never had “real” ones before.  But as the day came around, money was tight and I had to choose to forgo it.

Lindsey was crushed.  She wanted Alli’s day to be super special.  We were getting Alli’s ears pierced for a gift and Lindsey had saved money enough for herself to get her ears done as well and even had a bit left over to get some extra fun earrings.  She came to me long after she should have been asleep the night before Alli’s big day and asked if she could treat Alli to a manicure?

“Really?  You want to spend that much of your money,” I asked her.  She nodded.  She couldn’t sleep thinking about Alli not getting to go, even though she knew nothing about missing out on it.

I have to be honest…  It was a proud Momma moment.  So instead of buying herself something with her money, she took her sister to the salon and they had their nails done together.  It was sweet.  But more over, it was selfless.  Even though she got a manicure too, it was huge for her to spend that kind of money on her sister.

There is no way the manicure would have meant as much coming from her dad and I.  Those two girls do their nails together more times in a week than those beauty school girls practice it at the salon…  it’s sorta their “thing” together as sisters.  By Linds treating Alli – it was far beyond anything we could have given.

It seems like often they fight like cats – but truly under it all, I know they love each other like no one else can.  They have been best friends (even if they wont admit it) since Alli was born.  Lindsey was just 18 months when her sister came to share her room and they have loved each other far more than they’ve had issues over clothes, toys, room space, and chore duty.

They are growing up into beautiful girls inside and out.  I am so blessed to have these two girls to hang out with, and to have them still want to hang out with me.  I know I wont be cool forever, but I hope when their friends aren’t looking, they still want to be around their crazy old mom.  They are 2 of the best gifts God has ever given me.

Happy Birthday Alli girl.  You may be my middle child, but you never have to fight for your place in this family.  You are at the center of our hearts and will be forever.  Middle just means surrounded by love.  I hope you always feel it and see it.

May God bless you in this 11th year of your life, and give you gifts I cant give you.  I pray he allows you to see the amazing woman He is growing you into with a glimpse of what’s to come.  You are amazing and I am honored to watch Him work out His plan in you!    🙂


Invisible Grace

They say there is no such thing as a real “super power” and that nobody can be invisible, but “they” are wrong.  Very wrong.

Gracie stood with a broom in one hand and a dust bucket in the other.  When she held these, and wore her invisibility uniform, she was cloaked instantly.  Her brown hair was tied back with a simple rubber band and her face was free of painted beauty.  Her hands were worn and matched the dirty white tennis shoes that were nearly scuffed through.  Life was not easy on her and it showed.

It was a beautiful day, the breeze gently ruffling through the token trees amidst the beautifully manicured garden beds sweet with color.  She moved unseen through the cement walkways sweeping up the tiny infractions that were not permissible.  Not a single head turned her direction and no one moved aside as they hustled on their way from shop to shop.  She was invisible.  A man nearly nocked her down as he blew by her and he looked back at her as if she were a rock he’d stumbled over and was confused.

Sighing she wiped the sweat from her forehead and looked up at the sky.  She wondered if God could see her between the white of the clouds overhead.  Did she even matter?  Did He hear her dreams?  Was this all there was?  She’d heard He had plans for her, but is this the only thing she could do for Him?  To sweep up gum and dropped candy wrappers?

A young mother struggled to carry her crying baby while pushing the stroller and corralling her two wandering children.  They were obviously hot and overtired.  She dropped a shopping bag and the contents went rolling down the gentle slope of the walkway.  She just stood there with the baby on her hip and watched as her things made their escape.  Gracie saw a flash of herself reflected in the woman’s posture and it shook her awake.

Hurrying over, Gracie set her broom aside and gathered up the straying items and put them into the stroller that was going unused.  She reached in her pocked and felt around for two peppermints she’d been saving.  Gracie asked the woman if  the two stragglers would be allowed to each have one candy if they promised to behave on the ride home for her.  She looked deeply into the woman’s eyes and saw her as only one invisible woman to another can.

The woman quietly nodded her thanks and smiled back.  The shock was obvious on her face and she truly looked back at her and saw Gracie too.  Like was like the woman waved a magic wand.  She was no longer invisible.  Gracie was real.

As the woman walked away the clouds rolled back ever so slightly and a cloudless sky began to move in.  Instead of feeling the sweltering heat, Gracie felt warm and loved.  She felt seen and heard.  For now, just for a while, she knew she was being His hands and feet.  Invisible and unseen people were all around her, she realized.  Gracie understood and knew the cloak of invisibility well.  She’d make it her mission to see those who were unseen if only to look into their eyes and smile.  And if that was all God did with her for now, it would be enough.

Professional Sock Skater

We have a tiny house, beat up hardwood floors, and one narrow hallway.  That is the reality I see through my adult eyes.  My kids, however, they see a speed skating track and a plethora of new obstacles to maneuver in their race to gain fame and olympian status.  I long ago quit yelling, “stop running” every time they moved past me.  They seem to have ONE speed and it is NOT slow.

Yesterday Drake was running and sliding in his socks. I was just about to tell him to knock it off in a very “mom-like” frustrated tone when his face radiantly flew by and he declared he was going to be a “professional sock skater because I am soooo AWESOME!”  What?  I guess it doesnt matter that it’s not really a professional sport.  Didnt really matter that it was a pointless goal or that in my opinion he was nuts.

I laughed and watched as he “practiced” his sport and declared himself to be the best sock skater there ever was.  I was jealous.  Yes, really. Jealous because I have so much fear holding me back in life.  I want to believe in myself that much, even just a smidgen, to declare to the world that I am not only “okay” but AWESOME at something.  He’s so sure of himself, so confident.  It never even occurs to him that someone would be better, or that it is an odd goal.

Professional Sock Skater.  Hmmm…  maybe I need to put on a pair of socks and join him.  Maybe whatever confidence he has will surge up from the worn floors and revive my childlike soul and give my dreams the momentum they need to soar.

Watch out world, I’ve got my sock drawer open and I too am going to become a professional sock skater!  You never know, I might just take that risk I’ve been holding out on and end up succeeding  🙂

“I believe you”

The nurse walked in and looked at me, stepped out of the room, back in again, looked at the chart, then asked if I was really who’s chart she had.

Um, yes, I guess, but who’s chart do you have?  She read off my name.  Okay, yep, that’s me…  Why did she sound so confused??  She looked at my age and asked if I was really only 37.  Oh wow – I like her now.  ONLY 37 she said.  That was nice.  Then she hit me with the, “because from the chart I assumed you were more like the reverse”.  Did she mean 73?  Oh dear heavens!  * Sigh *  I wondered if this was going to be another of “those” appointments where no one believes me and I just go home in frustration and move on, try to suck it up and convince myself that I am too young to feel this much pain, and that it’s not real.

But no – that wasn’t what happened today.

“I believe you,”  the doctor said to me after going over my chart.  He sat it down, looked me in the eye and said he was sorry no one ever has before.  I wanted to cry.  He believed me?  Just like that?  He asked row after row of questions, the nurse typing all the answers down a bazillion miles a minute as we went, and he only nodded and then moved on to physical testing.  He believed every word I said.  Never looked at me like I was nuts, was lying, like I was making all this up because it couldn’t possibly be true in someone so young, and promised me that we’d work together to find answers and manage this so I could be the mom and human being I wanted to be.  “No reason why not.  You just need someone who will work with you.  All I need you to do is be honest with me and tell me what does and doesn’t work as we go along and eventually we will find the combination that will set you free.”

I sat there dumbfounded with a stupid grin on my face.  He grinned back at me because both he and the nurse were amused that so much hope had lit in my eyes.  I couldn’t help it.  I was overwhelmed with joy.  Then it dawned on me that I was seeing what faith looked like from the reverse angle.  It was amazing.  Wow…  THIS is what it looks like to God when we trust him, believe what he says, and know that our best interests are there.  The only difference is that GOD gives us reasons to believe, to trust, to have faith, and to know the promises He has for us – afterall he has listed them in the bible.  I gave the Doctor no real reason to be trusted, but he did anyway.

I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to have someone say those three little words.  I believe you.  It’s freeing.  It’s so full of hope.  So full of life.  So saying to God, “I believe IN you”, as well as, “I believe YOU” is so freeing that I cant begin to contain it.  It is as if I am understanding faith for the first time via this visual illustration he gave me.

I am rambling, and I know it.  But I am happy, and there is great hope in the days ahead.  I will have injections and new medicines to try.  There will be trial and error, and new ways to do life itself to change my patterns… BUT…  there is light, hope, peace, and JOY abounding.

So that GPS that God installed when I thought I knew what was going on and suddenly hit a detour?  The one where I saw where I wanted to be and was so frustrated at not being able to get there???  Well the route was redirected and I am cleared to proceed directly ahead.  I am on course and soon I will have the joy of reaching my destination.  One where daily pain is not a given, where my main focus is not on surviving the days, but doing things in them, and to be a light to Him always.  There is so much to do – and it is about time I got around to doing it instead of sitting on the sidelines wishing I was in the game.

Thanks for the detour God, because I can see now that it was way better than the original route.  🙂

The gift of a lifetime

Today’s my birthday.  Technically it is the day after, but since I have yet to get any sleep, I still say it’s my birthday…  so yep, Happy Birthday to me.  It was a hot scorcher of a day at 102 degrees and 83% humidity.  With our dying air conditioner, the coolest the “best” room in the house got was a muggy 88 degrees – and that was when I looked last at around midnight.

The kids wanted to get me lots of things for my birthday – from Build a Bear stuffed guys to lego creations.  They wanted to get LOTS of gifts which was sweet.  But I asked for what i needed – and was practical.  I wanted a salad spinner, because I hate soggy lettuce, and I got it.  I am not sure they are so amazed with it, but they acted excited to give it to me.  I got a fantastic card and they loved on me tons.  They may not think it is a gift of a life time, and it seems so small to them, but physical gifts were not what was on my mind this year…

As for the day itself, it was so hot we just did movie marathons and tried to keep cool with icy pops and cold glasses of water and sitting in front of fans.  I didnt heat the kitchen with baking a cake, but got the fixings for strawberries over purchased pound cake – and we had ice cream out at Culvers to celebrate the day of my Birth.  But that was not what was on my mind today either…

NONE of this is what made my birthday over the top.

What made it over the top was the gift of a lifetime I was given 37 years ago.  The gift of Life.

God brought me into the would and delivered me to an amazing set of parents.  I am humbled by the fact that these two people were such Godly and loving parents.  I was lucky beyond belief to have been given to them.  Then I gained a brother soon after and every single thing that went wrong and right in life from that point forward has worked to make me into who I am today.  Good or bad, I am who I am.  I hope that who I have turned out to be so far is a blessing to God, and that I have somehow made him glad He gave me life.

I now sit here blessed with an amazing husband (I often wonder how I deserve), 3 children who humble me daily, and a supportive network of friends and extended family.

I sat feeling very old this morning as I begin the year where my first born will become a teenager soon… She was over excited about my day and woke me at 3am because it was my birthday and she couldnt sleep.  I was bone weary tired  – but what a blessing to be here to experience it all.  She was so sweet and excited for me.  Surely I am not as old as it takes to have a teenager am I?  🙂

So many people hate to grow a year older… but what a gift it is…  Life itself is a gift and only God can give it, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Thanks, God, for life, for my family, and for another year.  I pray I can honor you in all that I do in the next days, weeks, and years that you allow me to be here.

Happy Birthday to me!

That’s the TICKET!

This summer is the summer of golden tickets.  Okay, so they are really red, but they might as well be made of gold.  I had been pulling my hair out with the fighting, bickering, attitudes, and the incessant requests for Wii time and computer access.  There are TONS of things to do in the summer that do not have anything to do with digital media or something fired up by electricity.  So I bought a roll of carnival tickets and sanity began to prevail.

I dish out two tickets per day – given at the beginning of the week with the kids initials on it and the day of the week listed on the back.  They can choose to use their tickets on the day of, or save them up for a rainy day, but cant use them in advance.  Each ticket is worth a half hour of anything electronic, (i.e. – computer, Wii, etc)  When the tickets are gone, so is all turn taking and time.  No more fights and who got longer.  Nothing.  Timers are set, and tickets turned in.  No tickets get used before chores are done and tasks finished.  They are small and take under a half hour for the day. Not a lot to ask.

Abuse your “gifted” tickets and loose them.  Do awesome things like more chores than asked, don’t whine all day, or many other wonderful things that mother’s love and get an EXTRA treasured ticket with a huge star on the back.  My way of saying thanks and I appreciate it, AND I saw their efforts.

But more than the getting and using of time (and mom gaining sanity) is the lesson for the kids in all of it.  They are learning how to manage their time wisely, making choices, and learning to go above and beyond often has real rewards that are worth far more than money (and often it’s my grin and hug they love more than the extra ticket).

Believe it or not they LOVE the ticket way of life.  They feel in control of what’s going on vs being a victim of the unfairness of their siblings, of me, and feeling like they have no say in things.  It is freeing for us all.  I am less a bad guy and more of a regulator.  Just reinforcing facts.

So if you are loosing your mind with all the arguing over the computer, gaming machines, and the various ways kids can drive you nuts, try a $2 roll of carnival tickets and ride the Carousel of Sanity!