Monday, April 30, 2012

Just BE-ing

I'm sitting here this evening with an XL To-do list on my mind. Its sabotaging every ounce of mental energy I have. The dog is curled up at my feet and my coconut green tea is growing cold. 2 out of 5 kids are tucked in bed for the night and I'm at a threshhold- do I get up and work for two hours? Read until bed? Write? Twitter? Go through my Reader? Catch up on blogs?

No, the truth is I don't want to DO anything.
I think I need to just BE.

BE tired from a long day at the store.
BE aware.
BE comfy.
BE free from the To-do list and all my concerns as to whether or not I'll get it done - in time, er, ever!
I need to
BE present in this moment.

I'm getting weary of always moving to the next thing.

I'm not thinking about stopping.

I just need to breathe.

I hope the blogs and stories that float in and out of my brain will be there when my fingers are able to reach out and taptaptap away at the keyboard.

I hope.
I do.
But mostly I need to BE.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 28, 2012

RIP Mrs. Becraft

Apparently she was an incredible woman.
I didn't know her but when I listen to those who did it makes me feel as if I was missing out on an important relationship.
What started out as a regular school day ended in tragedy.

A year ago I was sitting in Portland (of all places!!) at Donald Miller's Storyline Conference. He and his book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" convinced me that I needed to do something about my life.
I came to believe that if my life were to become a novel on your bookshelf, you'd be incredibly unlikely to ever read my story. I was a wimpy character. I lacked luster and vitality. My obstacles were overtaking me and never did it cross my mind to face them with bravery. My story was, in no uncertain terms, a rambling string of fortunate and unfortunate events (which, I learned, is the exact opposite of what makes a good storyline). Instead of taking risks I choose safety and instead of dealing with conflict I ran from people. No wonder I was dissatisfied with life.
Then, one day I woke up and decided something had to change.
At the conference I heard Michael Hyatt, former Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers and popular blogger, talk about the importance of having a Life Plan. I was instantly intrigued.
The first lesson of the plan? (it's a free e book - you can have one too just go to the link)
Imagine how you expect your funeral to be.
Gruesome? or Brilliant?
My soul jumped at the idea. Immediately I imagined what words I would long to hear. I wanted it to be said I was

  • fun

  • brave

  • a good writer

  • always making others feel better, never worse about themselves

  • a good mother who loved her children well

  • in head-over-heels love with my husband and our journey

Then it dawned on me; if I wanted those things to be said about me in the future, I had better start behaving that way today.
That's how my life changed.
That's why I'm blogging here at To Write a Better Story.
Mrs. Becraft passed suddenly this week. Her friends, peers, students and family will gather for her visitation tomorrow and funeral on Monday. Lots of stories will be told about her. About her life.
When my school received word of her passing I was there to catch a grieving teacher in an embrace. "There, there" I soothed and added a generic "I guess it's a good reminder to live each day as it's our last."
"Oh she did!" my friend perked up. "Oh she really did! She was always laughing and making the break room more fun at lunch. Her voice could be heard down the hallway. She was so cheerful everyday!"

Never had I heard such a strong conviction someone's voice.
I didn't know her but instantly I wished I had.
Just a few weeks ago a Mrs. Becraft came through my checkout line at the store. As I rung up her items I asked if she was a teacher. "No," she said warily, "why?"
"Well," I answered "my twins are hoping to get a Mrs. Beacraft as a teacher next year. They say she's really kind and if you were her I would have liked to introduce myself."

The woman replied, "No, that's my daughter-in-law" with just the slightest grin!
"Well, she must be a great teacher." I complimented.
I didn't even know her but - in a way - I did.
I won't be attending services for Mrs. Becraft. I've heard there is a concern about space and the number of attendees.
That's the kind of funeral I hope to have.
I hope when I'm gone the place is packed - not because I was popular - but because my
and family members thought I was
kind and
I even hope those who don't know me hear of my generous heart, warm spirit and loud laugh.
Rest in Peace Mrs. Becraft.
You will be missed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Dead Red Bird

It's easy to get distracted - what, with life and all.

I've spent a lot of my days being a day-by-day person. Not because that's my personality, nay, I rather enjoy being on top of my own little world, but the current season of life demands so much time and energy I've morphed into an hour-by-hour person. I can't possibly think about what I have to do tomorrow because chances are I'm still quite unprepared for all the activity of today.

I recently witnessed a highly distracted Cardinal and I dare say his frenzy killed him.


I think there might be a lesson here ...

Yesterday, while on my way to yet another soccer practice, I watched a Cardinal dart down into the path of my oncoming van. There, about 10 feet in front of my windshield he hoovered. I was astonished at his beauty as he flapped his wings and remained relatively suspended right in the line of my eyesight.

As my vehicle approached the bird I could see why he was so freakin' intent being there in the middle of the road; just beyond his beak was a floating butterfly.
The two creatures danced up and down but never out of my path. My van continued to approach and I began to brace myself for impact.

If that bird didn't get it's dinner soon it was gonna be a hood .... splat! .... ornament.

Poor bird. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a beautiful pile of twitching red feathers on the pavement.

For food. That bird died trying to eat it's next meal.

Now I've not had any near death experiences at the grocery store (the modern mommy's version of hunting and gathering) but I couldn't help but think about how easily I get distracted "surviving".
And if I don't get a grip on my life I fear I may be putting myself in danger.

I'm sure I won't wander into oncoming traffic
but what of
the relationships I've put on hold,
or my children who don't ever get the best of me
because I stare at my computer more than I do their lovely faces?

What of my health if I continue to eat & sleep poorly?

What if I move so quickly and distracted through life I loose sight of the good and beautiful things that surround me?

I can only hope, as my heart sank for the bird I killed, that I would learn a valuable lesson:

May I never become so intent on chasing the elusive, ever-nagging demands of life that
I risk loosing what I care most about: my life.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes
 I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me. I had scathed by for years as a parent before I learned, first hand, the meaning of the phrase “out of the mouths of babes”. My second child was three and a half years old at the time and was feeling very inquisitive one weekend while we were traveling. What I had hoped to be a quick stop at the public rest area was really an opportunity for the little guy to verbalize every question he could think of about the differing physical characteristics of boys and girls. (I knew I should have insisted his father take him in the Men’s restroom. )
As his questions echoed off the walls and out into the lobby for every weary traveler to hear, I reminded myself to look on the bright side; his curiosity could be a sign of high intelligence.
I know I’m not alone in this boat. All parents of toddlers and preschoolers should brace themselves for those awkward moments. It can be very frustrating when young children are learning how and when to verbalize their thoughts when they have no way of understanding the concept of inappropriate.
The best and first advice I can offer to parents is to stay calm. Remind yourself that more than likely your child isn’t meaning to cause anyone harm. It is nearly impossible for young children to measure other’s responses to their own behavior. Developmentally speaking, children are unable to connect their actions to the environment. This is why kids pick their nose. They simply don’t realize, until they’ve been taught, that it’s a socially unacceptable way to use their finger.
Also, parents remember not to take your child’s actions to heart. These embarrassing moments are in no way a reflection of your parenting skills. No matter how many disapproving bystanders you have gawking at you, remember your responsibility is to your child, not to outsider. Teaching your child what is proper, versus disciplining them for their curiosity, is a huge task. How a parent responds to their child can quickly extinguish or subtly encourage a situation.
That’s why moms and dads should set a good example. Volume has a lot of power. Next time your child is talking too loudly avoid raising your own voice. Instead try responding with a whisper. Trust me, it has magical powers. Give it a try in your next conversation! Watch and see if whispering doesn’t cause the other person to lean in and pay close attention. They will quiet themselves down simply because they don’t want to miss a word you say!
If you must correct your child’s social behavior most experts agree; the less words you use the better.  Avoid lectures. The longer your explanation the more likely your child will tune you out. Despite how embarrassed you may be it’s important that you don’t over react. Remain very matter of face and try and answer your children’s questions in the simplest of ways. For example when you hear, “Why is that man so fat?” it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” or “That’s just the way his body looks.” Don’t demand that your child apologize otherwise you communicate that their questions are not important.
Remember your child isn’t trying to be hurtful; they are looking for reassurance and are not aware that their voice can be heard by those around them. If you are sure the man overheard and is insulted, you might want to apologize briefly yourself.
Finally, every good parent knows the best defense when dealing with the unpredictable toddler is distraction, distraction, distraction! This is precisely why we carry extra-large purses and diaper bags. We need space for our amazing assortment of wildly entertaining thing-a-ma-jigs. (And you men thought we needed those big bags for our stuff!) No! It’s all about keeping the children occupied.  We’ve been known to carry cereal, crayons and notepaper, gum, a ball, a comb, paperclips, tape, stickers, a portable video game for goodness sakes, anything that will help distract your child in an emergency.
I don’t wish those embarrassing public moments on anyone but chances are if you are a parent of small children, or in a checkout line behind a family with little ones, you will be likely to overhear some wee little voice asking the unmentionable. Look on the bright side, the curiosity and impulsiveness your child displays is a great indicator that he or she is getting a feel for the world around them and simply finding out where they fit in. Also, I never entered another public bathroom again without giving my kid a sucker first. It’s amazing how an occupied mouth can squelch a conversation! Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series at The Review Atlas. Stephanie is a mother to 5 children, has had lots of practice whispering and is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She blogs at To Write a Better Story and can be reached at

What's the craziest thing your kid has said?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The 7th Year - Week 6

Tom Hanks in Castaway

From the very beginning in Week 6 of The 7th Year Study by Alicia Britt Chole the following words jump off the page:

not listening -> idolatry -> exile

Not listening?
To whom?

Who? Me?

When? When can I be sure He's ever spoken to me?

How? Did I ignore Him? What if I did because I didn't recognize He was trying to get my attention? Will He have grace for my ignorance?

Should He have grace for me?

So. Many. Questions.

I believe there are stories in the bible that can have purposeful application. Chole does too as she points to Jeremiah 25 and the doom of God's people for not obeying His commands.

But unlike me, they are clear on what God expects of them.

God's people, the account reads, were living in the Promised Land and still managed to screw it up even after being forewarned and forewarned and again ... forewarned.

It's hard for me to understand this, if I'm being honest. They lived precisely where God dwelled, they had a straight shot to heaven, life was flourishing and yet
practiced selective hearing.

It baffles me and comforts me.
Because if they had that life ... and I have this (unPromised Land) life .... then surely it can be completely understandable for me to screw up as well.

Yet, as in all forms of disobedience, comes consequences.
If my kids disobey there is punishment. If I do wrong at the job, there are consequences ...
so, as it is with God.

But surely, I think, He knows how we humans are.
He's dealt with our imperfect kind for thousands of years, no?

Can we ever get it right?

In Jeremiah the story says God sent 70 years of turmoil for His people's refusal to listen.
Chole writes: "Exile enhances the senses. Pain increases our overall sensitivity and grants us the opportunity to hear smaller sounds like our own heartbeat and the soft splashes of God's tears."

Isn't that beautiful?

And true?

When I reflect on the layers of the timeline I've created through each week of this study, her quote so beautifully reflects my experiences.

When I felt alone - I could feel His presence.
When I felt lost - I found His guidance.
When I was betrayed - He understood.
When I was without - He supplied my needs.

I don't want to ignore wisdom. I wish to hear the God of the Universe talk to me. But if He doesn't, or if I fail to hear it, or even worse ... quite frankly, disobey it ... I am thankful that while there will always be actions and reactions
cause and effect
that should I ever find myself in a season of exile, I shall be broken
and stripped of all the noise and distractions I entertain in my life,
to (hopefully) be able to rediscover the ability to listen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 7th Year - Week 5

I've been doing a weekly devotional from Alicia Britt Chole. It's entitled The 7th Year.

I'm not usually one for this kind of study rather, I prefer a little ... um, less structure.

Don't get me wrong - I like structure. I'm a professional list maker after all (seriously I could be paid very handsomely for my To-Do list disciplines) but the reality of my current season in life does not allow for me to have such weekly discipline.

That being said, this 7th Year has been refreshing.
And thank goodness it is structured or (like my writing) I fear I'd never get it done without the deadlines.

In addition, I am going through the study with two of my very best girlfriends and the accountability is humbling and the opportunity to share is soothing to my soul.

In Week 5 of the study we added another layer to our timeline, this time reflecting on key moments we've chosen from our history. We were instructed to examine how we felt about God during those key moments. And while I'm sure everyone's timeline is vastly different they are probably also all the same; full of highs and lows, good days as well as tragedy.

It's the difficult times that challenges my reflection. I mean, Really? You want me to give words to how I may have felt about God when I was having a nervous breakdown?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye

I must have blinked. I'm sure that it was just yesterday that I was in here, rocking her to sleep amongst the Noah's Ark animals inhaling the sweet smell of baby powder and now I'm watching her in the mirror as I reach for the clasp on her necklace. She turns and asks me if she looks ok.

"Yes," I say, "You look beautiful."

We take pictures and laugh while the atmosphere is frenzy with activity and nerves.
Yesterday she held her daddy's hand across the street.
Today as she leaves for prom on the arm of a handsome suitor I say under my breath, "Bye, Baby.”
I'm surprised at the ache I feel. It took me by surprise. You see, I don't normally have the time to be verklempt. I've been too busy raising her for seventeen long, exhausting, sleep deprived years to be emotional. Yet, today, in the blink of an eye and twirl of the gown, it's become reality; my baby is all grown.
Now the voice of every single old woman who told me, "Treasure these times, honey. They'll be gone before you know it" is ringing in my ears. Perhaps wisdom does, in fact, come with age.
However, I'm not convinced that I am longing for those days of preschool, science fairs and band concerts. I certainly wouldn't voluntarily go back in time. I'm simply stunned, reeling from the newfound fact that those years are all gone now. I'm realizing I was so busy surviving parenting that I forgot to prepare for the end of it.
But who has time to prepare? Mothers are knee deep in laundry, homework, grocery shopping, well checks, Halloween costumes, temper tantrums, field trips and dance recitals. Some day's I feel embattled doing all I can to raise polite, intelligent, musical, courteous kids who know how to save money, load the dishwasher and fold their own laundry. All my energy, emotional and mental, is completely engaged in the day-to-day demands of parenting. I hardly know what we're eating for dinner tomorrow how can I know what to prepare for the day I realize my daughter is grown up?
So sure, the wise voices are true in that the days are gone in the blink of an eye, but I'm struggling to believe that there is anything I could have done about that. Who enjoys sleep deprivation, colic and wet beds in the middle of the night? Those who have graduated from the ranks of parenting warned me of this day precisely when my kid was wailing, embarrassing me in the middle of the grocery store or when I was stuck at home lonely for days on end. I couldn’t possibly, even with their warning, have appreciated those days while in the midst of them.
Those very stressful parenting memories were not buffered with the knowledge that they would soon pass. All I craved was peace, sleep and an uninterrupted shower. Nothing else at those moments would comfort me -especially the thought that my child would be grown up someday. I simply thought, “Thank God she’ll be gone someday!”
Don't get me wrong parenting can be glorious. What a wonderfully, awesome responsibility I have to raise my sons and daughters into strong, resilient adults who will (I hope) make the world a better place. I hope for that in my heart’s dreams but my head is crying out for a break. I need to survive today's demands.
This is why I believe parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. I am fully aware of the incredible privilege of bringing a child into the world and am instantaneously fearful that I do not have what it takes to do it well.
Regardless one thing is true; you never have enough time to do all you need to do and simultaneously appreciate all you need to appreciate. It’s a shame that the future is lost in the midst of dirty diapers and the other thankless chores of parenting.

Yet as I gazed, amazed at my grown baby in her formal gown my brain is forced to confront the truth. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project is emphatically correct when she writes “The days are long and the years are short” and there is nothing any of us can do about that. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!

Author Stephanie Sikorski is a mother to 5 children and is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. This is a part of a weekly Practical Parenting series she write for The Daily Review Atlas.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The Place of Excrement

"But love has pitched her mansion in 
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent." 
William Butler Yeats

You know what that is right?
aka Sh!t.

Has the sh!t ever hit the fan in your life?
It has in mine.
Despite my efforts to be sure that it didn't, it did.
And it stinks.
And it makes me sick.
Some days my stomach lurches until I taste the bile begging, churning, demanding to be released.

Slumdog Millionaire
This is Jamal from "Slumdog Millionaire". He is a young boy living in poorest of conditions in India. He desperately wants an autograph from his idol, a famous Indian actor visiting his neighborhood, however, Jaleel find himself locked, by his older brother, in an elevated outhouse. The only way out is ... down. "Down" meaning "into the fetid cesspit below." It's an option Salim (the older brother) clearly doesn't believe Jamal will accept. And who would? No matter how miserable your life might be, no matter what challenges you face, everything is worse when it's covered in shit. (from

God, isn't that true?

But Jamal does the unthinkable. There is one way out of the outhouse and he takes it. He removes a beloved photo of his hero, the actor, out from his pocket, holds it up as high as he can, plugs his nose and dives in, er, rather down.

Who would do this? Who would willingly baptize themselves in sh!t for freedom?

Most of us, thankfully, don't voluntarily find ourselves in a pile of dung.
And yet, somehow the pile of dung has found us.
No matter how you come across it, it still stinks.

But my friends, as I've walked through my share of sh!t let me share with you the truth of the poem written above. Love's mansion is more likely to be found in the place of excrement than it is the sterile places.

Madeleine L'Engle, an author I've inhaled this last month, writes of her husband's illness in Two Part Invention; "The place of excrement. That is where we are this summer. How do we walk through excrement and keep clean in the heart? How do we become whole by being rent? God comes where there is pain and brokenness, waiting to heal, even if the healing is not the physical one we hope for. My husband is desperately ill, so where is the Lord? What about that place of excrement? Isn't that where Love's mansion is pitched? Isn't that where God is?"

Jamal got the autograph he longed for.

And look what he does!
He celebrates.

Covered in sh!t he celebrates!

That's the kind of character I long to be.
I don't want to hide in my bed
or bury my face.
Certainly moments of grief and tears of torture have fallen from my face
but ultimately I want
to wipe my tears with the back (of my sh!t covered hand if I must)
and celebrate.

Celebrate that I've survived,

be happy I'm alive and

know that above every obstacle or pile of dung
I am able and capable
of being the kind of character who,
against the odds,
rises to the top.

That's what To Write a Better Story is all about.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Super Sweet Problem

There is way too much candy in our house! Seriously. Way too much! Even after all I’ve eaten. 
I’m sure I will look fifteen again in no time. Just when are you too old for acne? Shouldn’t it be when you get wrinkles? It’s not fair that I should have laugh lines and pimples on the same face. It just doesn’t seem right.
                Anyway, there is a battle underway in my own home. The persistent pleas of my children, as they beg for more candy, are beginning to wear me down. I’m sure there are other exasperated parents who also have overloaded baskets of candy coupled with whiney, begging children.
                Parents of very young children are blessed to not have to face this dilemma. One swift, strategic move and your child will never even notice you’ve removed over half of the tooth decaying enemy. Your toddler can’t even count to ten, how will they know that you’ve swiped out all the marshmallow chickens and chocolate eggs?
                No matter how much swiping I do however, the candy just seems to continually multiply and reappear out of thin air.  No kidding, I keep snacking but the baskets still seem full. I am quite certain I didn’t buy all this candy, so where did it come from?
                Pondering that question makes me realize this is really a moot point at this post-holiday juncture. I mean I was the one who took my kids to the egg hunt and what am I going to do threaten to cut off grandparents and loving Sunday school teachers?
                We just need some strategies for dealing with this super sweet problem.
                First thing we did at our house was downsize.
                Now my children may look like their father, but some things, some of the important things, they did inherit from me. Like me, they are candy connoisseurs. Not just any chocolate will do. Not all jelly beans are alike. I know this and instinctively they do too.
                Sitting on the middle of the family room floor, Easter grass strewn everywhere, we separated the candy into three separate piles; save, trade and throw away. I then helped each child wade through their treasures.
                What proceeded was nothing short of the greatest stock exchange witnessed on Wall Street.
                Watching my four and five year olds negotiate suckers for peanut butter eggs was incredible. Thinking her age gave her an edge; my eight year tried her best to swindle her brothers. Smart little whips they are, it didn’t take them long to figure out her two-for-one-deal wasn’t in their best interest.
                Other than the obvious benefit of immediately sending much of the candy to the trash, what we had was our own little developmentally appropriate intellectual moment.
                My kids counted, sorted, classified, compared and problem solved. The most exciting thing about this learning experience is that it didn’t require flash cards or educational apps. Using what we had on hand they were able to use their emerging intellectual skills. And everyone enjoyed it (even dad who got to sample a little candy now and then).
                Now, Easter is behind us and my kids still have a load of candy. I am still holding my ground as best as I can, not giving into every whine and plea for another piece. In fact, at this rate my two-piece-a-day rule will take us clear into October. Come to think of it, I think we still have Halloween candy in the back of the pantry.
                These baskets of candy might be presenting a huge challenge for us but I will not be swayed. While I can expect my kids to try and eat as much of it as they can, I will work furiously to make sure they (or I) don’t over indulge. In the meantime, I’ll try to remember to encourage the Easter Bunny to be not quite so generous next year. My waist (and nerves) would really appreciate that. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!
This article appears in my weekly Practical Parenting article at The Review Atlas. Stephanie is a mother to five children and is a Certified Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She blogs at and can be reached at

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Long Winter of Questions

London's Subway 2009
I used to believe that goodness would come to me, reign in my life and overcome all darkness for me.

Please, don't be so quick to scoff!
You might have believed that too if you could say that almost everything in your life ended up working out. I am blessed, and honest, in saying that I've witnessed many miracles in my life time. I've watched family members and loved ones gain victory over serious illnesses, impending death and cancer.

My life's motto was "It's all Good!" I lived my life day in and day out not letting the bad get to me because I was compelled to believe that at some point in time that bad would be turn into good.

I even based that belief on biblical principal.
Romans 8:28 was my life verse "For we know that all things work out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes."

I didn't think I was good or that I even deserved good things to happen to me. Instead I believed that He is good and He would honor His promise and cause good things happen on my behalf.

And then it was 2009
and I was hard pressed to find something good.

And then it was 2010 and at first I grew bitter
then weary as another year came and went without any sort of resolution and only a long, seemingly lonely, path ahead of me.

And now in 2012 truth be told I'm still sorta waiting for the 'all good' part.

My belief that there is a God never faltered these last few years.
I still loved Him but I was frustrated and disillusioned at best.
Had He failed me
or, more likely, had I failed Him?

So began a deep personal journey for me. Had everything I believed been wrong or am I simply impatient? Did God need more time or had I been forgotten?
Did I walk out of His will? Is there a perfect will?

Suddenly everything was a question.
And my brain was physically and emotionally exhausted from the mental searching.

As I reflect however, there was one thing I was sure of. I was not, as I had believed, alone. Somehow, in the most mysterious of ways, I knew -I just knew- that where I was, in the winter of my soul, He was with me. In fact, oddly enough I often felt an indescribable center to myself. Which in all honesty made me question whether I was going mad.
How could I feel so simultaneously unanswered and centered?

Recently, I've felt as if my soul is mirroring the calendar and I've been able to breathe again.
It's April.
It is spring.
My cherry tree is blooming and similarly my soul has awaken, dared to stretch itself and peak out from it's dark cave of hibernation. Is it spring in me? Has my winter passed and are buds forming on the limbs of my life? I can't help but wonder ... am I about to bear fruit? Was the cold harsh winter of my soul the precipice in which my life would produce something?

Time will tell.
And while I hope for that, of nothing I am certain.
I still have questions.
Many questions.

What of them?
What of my belief?

As Madeleine L'Engle so beautifully writes in her memoir
A Two-Part Invention The Story of a Marriage
 "I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when the good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly."

Whether you find yourself today blinded by the darkness or dancing in the light, may you too know that somewhere up there or in you or in nature or in your baby's first breath, there is a God who in all His mysterious ways knows your name and knows the seasons.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Failing in Soccer and Survivor

Wait! Even if you're not a fan of Survivor don't click away!
There is a valuable lesson for everyone here ... not just Survivor or Mark Burnett fans!

In case you are unfamiliar with Survivor every episode concludes at Tribal Council (essentially a campfire where the team must choose by anonymous voting which team member they want to send home). 

In the second episode of Survivor: One World airing on Wednesday nights on CBS, Kat, the cute little blond in the photo is under scrutiny from her tribe mates about her poor performance at the competition.

Here is a transcript of her interview with the show's host, Jeff Probst.

Kat: It's my fault

Jeff: You keep saying that. Do you believe that or are you just being a martyr?
Kat: I think I do, it sucks

Jeff: What's upsetting?

Kat: ummm... my communication skills, I guess ... and ... failing. I never fail.

awkward pause

Jeff: You've never failed at anything in life?

Kat: I usually don't try anything else unless I know I'm going to succeed. Let's put it that way.

Jeff: So you really can't say you've never failed because the truth is you've never put your self in a position to fail.

Kat: Yeah.
Have you ever put yourself in a position to fail?
Think about it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Fistful of Weeds

image from
First, let me say I am no eavesdropper. I have enough drama/trouble/activity in my own life with five children .I really don't care to know yours (drama not kids). That being said, I overheard a disturbing conversation while dropping my child off at school yesterday.
As the children filed into the elementary building, bright eyed & bushy tailed, a little boy walked in with a fistful of dandelions. Proudly he presented his bouquet to his teacher. She graciously accepted the gift, patted his head and walked her class down the hall.

A second teacher observed the gift and leaned into another woman, looked annoyed and said, "I never accept dandelions! I mean I know it sounds harsh but students have to learn that dandelions are really weeds. Right?"

I was appalled.

You see, here's the great thing about children: they are children, innocent and full of life. Children are so trusting and simple. They have the ability we've long lost as adults - to see the beauty in something so common.

Of course dandelions are weeds! Isn't that evidenced by the millions of dollars homeowners desperately spend trying to ride their yards of pesky clover, creeping charlie or deep-rooted

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why children should be seen AND heard - Practical Parenting

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Sometimes I wish my mouth had a backspace button. I’d certainly (and frequently) use it to undo all the things I wish I hadn’t said. In fact, I think it would be great if we all had this ability. But I especially wish whoever coined the phrase “Children should be seen and not heard” could delete these words from the universe. For I think this phrase has robbed humanity of the beauty and wonderment children bring to our world.

Now, I’ve not actually heard anyone say that exact phrase lately but it seems clear to me that our society accepts this idea as an unspoken rule of thumb. How do I know? Because airline companies are introducing child-free flights and coffee shops post signs that read “Unaccompanied children will be served espresso and a puppy”. This clever tongue-in-cheek phrase is witty but it clearly communicates one important thing; children are not welcomed here.

Why? Because they are loud or don’t follow the same social cues as you? Or perhaps it’s because they speak their mind loudly and are endlessly curious? Of course they are. They are children. Isn’t it beautiful?

I think that children have a lot more to contribute than we give them space and time for. Instead we get so hung up on our own rights that we often miss the simple childlike beauty right in front of our eyes. And besides, children have rights as well. They have a right to be heard. And, yes, you have a right to read the paper in peace. So what are we to do?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Menu Monday

Hi! Are you cooking this week? I don't feel like cooking but my hungry tribe demands food so rather than stress out about what to do/what to eat/what to buy I compulsively plan out our evening dinners. There are no new recipes here .... we're in that season where I gotta fall back on our tried & try recipes to get me by. I have no time lately to invent recipes and try out new ideas. But that's exactly what recipe boxes & food boards on Pinterest are all about .... collecting and falling back on your favorite foods!
Here's our favorite/quick/inexpensive meals this week! Try some out if you want or heck, steal the whole menu and you could feed your family this week!

Fried Potatoes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs & Monkey Bread (....mmmmmmMonkey Bread!)

Pioneer Woman Dr. pepper Pork Sandwiches (minus the adobe sauce) & Crock Pot Potatoes
(seriously - this was the easiest, quickest meal for me to clean up!)

Spinach Stuffed Shells, Garlic Bread & Two Cheese Salad
(even though I only use one cheese :)

YoYo aka Your On Your Own

Homemade Pizza - sausage, pepperoni or cheese but sometimes we do Chicken and Alfredo!
(thank you Boboli!)

Campbells Creamy Chicken Enchiladas w Chips & Cheese

Beef n Cheddar with Sweet potato fries (my favorite yum!)

As always I love the link up at Menu Plan Monday! Check them out for even more and even better menu ideas!

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