Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Note Bandit

There is a note bandit in our house. She gives and takes in a most interesting way. She shuts herself up in her room for a half hour or more, producing little notes to be distributed to each member of the family. Her favorite way of doing this is to put it under the intended family member’s pillow. She then proceeds to make up a game or a riddle to get you to find your note. This is the most intense part as she is most impatient to have you discover your note.

The reason I call our daughter the Note Bandit: she leaves you a note that steals your heart. Karl and I had just gotten back from one trip and were preparing to leave for another. Sometimes we don’t travel for months at a time and at others, we travel up to three times in one month. It was in one of these frequent travel cycles that she left us a note about how much she loved us, but it hurt her very deeply when we left her. To see that in 7 year old scrawl was gut wrenching, especially when we knew we still had one trip coming.

The latest round of notes included one to me in which Greta thanked me for things – everything in past tense. She thanked me for caring for her when she was sick and couldn’t go to school. Of course that brought up memories of nine days in the Children’s Hospital for her experience with ADEM. Again, she leaves a note and steals the heart.

Everything has to stop when the gregarious little girl announces her notes. She doesn’t rest until we have read the notes and given her our reaction or response. Thank you Greta, for the reminder of how intentional and intense we need to be about connecting with those we love.

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Worth the Risk

My husband took a picture similar to this for friends of ours. Funny thing is, he was in a more dangerous/risky place to get their picture! But that’s what friends are for. Some days in life, you just have to take the risk!



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Teens and Hypocrisy

There is this “unspoken” paradigm out there that teens are good at spotting hypocrisy in those older than themselves. Physiologically, teens are going through some of the most amazing growth times with the frontal lobe of their brain. They are searching, learning, seeking and noticing. So perhaps there is something to this paradigm.

My problem: how to get my teen to see his own hypocrisy. He is laid back and glides along, trying to make sure everyone stays calm. I am the one saying move it and do it – now! Recently this teenage son of mine asked me to read one of his papers for his religion class. The assignment was to write about what the perfect church would be like. The fresh and innovative ideas of the young are being mined by their teacher, but that is just my hypothesis.

As I read my son’s declaration that there needed to be a schedule so as to reduce stress – I nearly fell out of my chair. Michael loves schedules and knowing the rules, very true, except for one. He doesn’t abide by the rule of what time to get up in the morning, get dressed and get his lunch made. After I recovered from my shock, I asked the teen why he was being such a hypocrite, wanting schedules to prevent stress when he ignores the morning schedule and is the cause of much stress in our morning routine (huge understatement here).

It  happened again this morning. Again I asked the teen why the rules he wanted to reduce stress in situations didn’t apply to him. He had no answer for me. I shall not push it too far without making sure I am still connecting in relationship with my son. I don’t want to push him away forever during these important teen years, but I’ll admit it – I’m flat out tired. The heroic efforts we go through each morning to save that teen’s rumpus from being tardy to school should be recognized and rewarded!

But the truth is most of us are like this teen. I don’t like to admit it, but some of the things that I’m the most adamant about, I don’t always hold myself to. We can all be hypocrites at times. So, I’m working with my teen and his refusal to get going in the morning and the incredible tension it causes to his mother who suffers from Crohn’s Disease and isn’t supposed to have tons of undue stress. I’m also asking God to search my own heart. Help me to be true to the things I say are important, not just expect it from others.

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With Donations Like These…

This was left for retirees to haul off.

My mother volunteers at a local thrift store, along with many other retirees. This is what greeted her one morning – a “donation.”

This thrift store sells “gently used” clothing and small household items and serves many in the local community. The funds they raise are used to assist burnout victims and others. It also helps to keep the lights on in the building. It sickened me to see this trash that was left for grandmas and grandpas to haul off.

I remember in a class discussion at church one day, a woman broke down in tears and said that when she was in need, a friend took her and pulled out the very best dress she had in her closet. This woman admitted that her friend didn’t have much, but she gave the best she had. Too often, we think we are giving when we donate what’s left or what we can no longer use because of its condition.

Sometime in the next 12 months, consider buying a brand new outfit or package of underwear or socks and donating them to a local thrift store. You will see eyes light up and get more appreciation and thanks than you can probably handle. As you look at this picture and then go about your day, ask yourself this question: how do I give my time? Do I give what is left to my church, my family, my God? Do I only give what is left that is all used up and not good for much else? Or do I give the best I have?

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History or Junk?

We have this little bin in the house. It is our version of the junk drawer. Whenever we need a little bit of this or that, we can find it in our bin. As all junk drawers, there really is junk in it. We hate to admit it, but there is stuff in there we will never use again for the rest of our lives. But it is sitting right next to that other stuff that we dig out once in a while and so we think, maybe we should leave that in there too. Ah, the junk drawer!

One day it all changed for me. We were looking for something in the house, one of those small, forgettable things that you don’t think of much at all until the sudden crisis around you has reached critical mass and you exclaim: where is the super glue? I really can’t remember what exactly we were looking for, but I remember Michael’s question. “Have you checked the family history box?”

What most people call a “junk drawer,” and in our case a “junk bin,” Michael had renamed to the family history box. He saw it for more than the odds and ends and weird things that didn’t relate to anything else in the bin. He saw it as evidences of what we have gone through as a family. Old cell phone chargers (back when we had prepaid phones) that we really don’t need anymore, but haven’t quite gotten around to getting them out of the house are next to glue sticks and two staplers, because we lost the first one and had to buy the second and then we found the first one again. As you can imagine, a nice little junk bin can carry quite a bit of interesting family history in it.

Michael taught me a lesson that day. Even in the “junk drawers” of our lives, there is history there. There is evidence there of what we’ve been through, how we’ve grown and what we still cling to for important reminders of what we’ve left behind. There is only one problem: now that we call it the family history box, it is even more difficult to get rid of old stuff we are never going to use again!


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Have you been inspired lately? Has something so moved you that when you were able to breathe again you knew you would never be the same because of what you just experienced?

Perhaps the greatest benefit of modern technology is being able to capture inspirational and moving moments and share them around the world. Take a moment. Close your eyes and think of the last video, piece of music, artwork, poetry…that inspired you to take on the rest of your day with renewed energy and strength. If you can’t think of any, I have a few suggestions.

If life has been a little dull lately, take the time to connect with an inspiring moment and your life won’t be the same!


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Human Barometers

I am a human barometer. I have gotten past the “this is weird” stage and accepted it for what it is. The backs of my hands get excessively dry, to the point of cracking and bleeding, just before a major weather pattern or seasonal change. I am not alone. A google of human barometers will link you to scientific and medical think tanks as well as those of us who predict the weather by our bodily changes.

I think I get this from my mother. She is quite shocking – literally. It’s hard not to laugh when shopping with mom as she timidly reaches for something on the shelf, afraid she will get zapped again. As you can imagine, it only got worse for her when she decided to go with the new fashionable metal knee.

For whatever reason this phenomenon happens, I must do my part and accept it as a gift meant to benefit humanity.  Therefore, I will now proclaim: hey guys! Something is up because the backs of my hands are dry and that always happens just before a major weather pattern or seasonal change.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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