Category Archives: Children

Caleb

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Twenty some-odd years ago, John and I met an energetic, mischievous, fun-loving, God-fearing, smiling young man named Clay, and a beautiful, serene, generous, kind and gentle young woman named Joanna. In 1998, the Lord merged those two personalities and Caleb was born, followed by Faith, Jenna, and Audrey.

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Our lives have crossed and intersected and merged now and again and we occasionally were blessed to hug their necks and laugh about things that happened when they were in college (like the fact that Clay taught Jordan and Jacob – when they were toddlers – to say “hey, chicky baby” when girls walked by.) We loved seeing their growing family.

Last summer we spent a weekend with them and their church family at a retreat in New Mexico. On our way there, we met them for a bite to eat and from the moment he bounced over to us, it was evident that Caleb was someone special. He peppered me with questions about Micah and talked about basketball.  He affectionately rubbed his baby sister’s head and smiled all the way through eating his sandwich. I teased him all weekend as he suddenly grew tongue-tied around some pretty girls. I noticed how he was comfortable with all ages and consistently wore a smile. He made such an impression on me!

Last Saturday, August 24, 2013, Caleb left Clay and Joanna, and went home to his Heavenly Father.

Several times today I’ve watched the slide show from his memorial service and as his baby pictures flashed by, I wondered – what if Clay and Joanna had known that they would only have him for fifteen short years? As a parent, I can’t imagine the dread that would create; the panic to hold on tightly as the time approached.

Caleb’s death and Clay and Joanna’s pain have made me think even more about the kind of love that God has for us. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare and we would do anything – give anything – to prevent it from happening. But then I remember that oft-repeated verse that I might not really pay enough attention to, because He knew all along what would happen to His Son – “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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I’m thankful for precious Caleb’s life. I’m thankful for my Father’s sacrificial love. And I’m thankful that one sweet day there will be a joyful reunion.

 

 

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Do Nouns Make You Happier Than Verbs?

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I just got an email from eBay that said “Carla: still looking for a handbag?”

Hmmm. Is someone watching me? I’ll admit, I do have this tiny problem with handbags: I like them. And cute dishes, and Tervis tumblers and Yellow Box flip flops. And I like it when John takes me out to dinner. I don’t really like being the center of attention, but I don’t mind – on a small scale – when it’s “all about me!”

But – the world doesn’t revolve around me.

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Shocking, isn’t it? Here’s more: it doesn’t revolve around you, either.

We all want to be happy. I want to be happy. You want to be happy. Our kids want to be happy. We want to make them happy. “Happy, happy, happy!” (Thanks, Phil.)

Here’s the problem, though. Where does our happiness come from? Nouns, or verbs?

Recently, while preparing a lesson about ways to influence and teach teenage girls, I was thinking about how we tend to use NOUNS (people, places, and things) to make our girls (and GUYS, for that matter) happy. Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s go buy you a new pair of shoes. Bad day at school? Let’s go to the movies. Your friend got a new purse? We’ll get you a more expensive one. This will make you feel better, baby.

It’s sort of like the drain in the bathtub with no stopper…we keep trying to fill it up. But something else will always come up…a new want, another bad day, and the THINGS just keep pouring down the drain.

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But what if we used VERBS to make our kids happy? What if we used verbs to make US happy? Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s stop right here and ask God to soften their heart and also to open our eyes to our own insensitivities. Bad day at school? Let’s go by and see how we can help this hurting family in need. Your friend got a new purse? Let’s go through your closet and see what we can share with someone who REALLY needs it.

Believe me, I’m talking to Carla, too.

This isn’t anything new. God said it centuries ago.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:1-4

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, for they shall be satisfied…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:6, 16 (emphasis mine)

Nouns make us happy, but it’s a temporary happy. We are always going to want another new pair of shoes. But verbs – now THOSE will really make a difference. Not only in my life, but in the lives of those I am helping! Our kids might balk at first. They might drag their feet (or we might have to drag their feet for them…) 😉 but given plenty of opportunities, they (and we!) will see the lasting happiness that comes from being a servant of God.

Then, instead of a draining bathtub, we can be like those beautiful infinity pools we see in magazines…the kind of pool that spills over and shares beauty and flows out with God’s living water. Who wouldn’t want to be there?

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I Want to See God

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My friends  Leslie and Karen lost their beloved mother-in-law, Sandra, on Thursday morning.  Mark and Russell lost their mom. Drew, Taylor, Lily and Sam lost their Grandma.  I say “lost” like she can’t be found, but we know where she is. She lost her battle with hateful cancer but she has won the victory in Jesus Christ.

Last night we sat in the quiet corner of a restaurant with Leslie and Russell. I snuggled baby Sam while Lily sat on her mama’s lap and played trains with the sugar packets.

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Leslie and I talked about the void that Sandra filled in her life. Love is so simple and yet so complicated, and Leslie’s voice broke as she tried to express her feelings.

Lily heard the tears in her mama’s voice and turned around. She placed her hands on Leslie’s face and said tearfully, “I want Grandma.”

Through her own tears, Leslie said “I do too, but Grandma’s gone home to be with God.”

Lily Grace, in her little three-year-old voice: “I want to see God.”

I do, too. Don’t you?

If you don’t know how, here’s a great place to start:

http://searchingfortruth.org

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Come On, People!

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Monday night, we went to a 7th grade girls basketball game. It was held in a gym where Jordan and Jacob played in high school. I wonder what it is about the squeaky floors, uncomfortable wooden bleachers and sweaty, basketbally smell of a familiar gym that can send you spinning into nostalgic overload? Those years of watching basketball in that gym were fun. And cute little Micah with his chili-bowl haircut would shoot baskets during halftime at his brothers’ games.

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Watching the boys (especially Jordan – yes I did just say that – sorry, Jake and Micah) play basketball ranks right at the very top of my list of favorite things to do. (I enjoy watching their football games too, but spent most of my time cringing behind my hands.)

But I digress.

Back to Monday night. We sat near a man we did not know, and he was quite vocal during the game.  He did not hesitate to voice his loud irritation with his daughter when she did not perform as well as he thought she should. Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of parents complain and yell and gripe. They got mad at their kids. They were furious with the coaches. They yelled at the refs. (Sometimes I had to tell John to pipe down. Sometimes he had to tell ME to pipe down. Sometimes I had to pinch him.) I remember one man who was thrown out of basketball games with regularity because he was so obnoxious. I’ll never forget the near-brawl that took place at one of Jordan’s 5th grade little league football games. 

Get a grip.

It’s a game.

They’re just kids.

I think we need to remember why we want our kids involved with youth sports. Is it because we want them to win at all costs? Is it because we want our son or daughter to be athletically superior to the next kid? Even if we have hopes for a college scholarship, does that justify rude behavior, angry outbursts and the stress we put on our kids?

Here are the good things about youth sports: our kids learn teamwork and responsibility. They learn that hard work and practice pays off. They learn that life isn’t always fair. They learn that not everyone is easy to work with. They (hopefully) learn how to lose gracefully. They learn self-discipline. And if we do our parenting job right, they learn to put God before all other activities, even when it’s tough.

Come on, people. Remember what’s important.

A Fire Pit Would Have Been A Whole Lot Easier!

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Several weeks ago, Jake asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d been wishing for a really nice fire pit like Alice has in her back yard. (Of course, her back yard also has 100-foot pine trees – with bears occasionally in them, summertime highs of 60 degrees, a salty ocean scent, and views of snow-capped mountains to go with her crushed rock fire pit surrounded by really cool log stools to sit on. And her back yard has Alice, too, but I can’t have EVERYTHING!)

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So, I told Jake I wanted a back yard fire pit surrounded by crushed rock with really cool log stools (except I don’t think our scrawny cedar tree stumps would have quite the same effect) and twinkly lights in the trees like Bonnie’s.

Off we went to Lowe’s, where John was in hog heaven dreaming of all of the projects he could accomplish with unlimited time, patience, and money. He and Jake started pulling out bricks and stacking them in a circle, calculating how many they’d need and how high the pit should be and what color would look best and all of those boring details. It started looking like some serious money was going to go into a project I thought would cost MAYBE $75.

While we were there, I got to looking at tile and thinking “if we’re gonna spend THAT much money, we might as well spend a little more and get something that I REALLY need and want.” Our house was built in 1994. Vinyl flooring was standard in most kitchens, and I also made the most unfortunate choice of carpet in the dining room.

Carpet. In the dining room. With three boys. And their friends. And Joshua. And Grant Garrett spilling an entire plate of spaghetti sauce. And who knows how many football boys who didn’t ‘fess up to dripped pizza roll sauce. And several dog accidents. Need I say more?

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So, we decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger and take the bull by the horns. Some expressed doubt (*cough*Doug*cough*) and others said things like “man, that killed me!” (*cough*Jonas*cough*) but those same people loaned tools and advice and space in a dumpster and a “YOU CAN DO IT” pat on the back (thanks Jonas! And Tim! And Darrell! And Bill! And Doug!)

And our kids. They were amazing. I can’t even say how much work they did – and did with a smile (except for the times that John and Jake butted heads because they are too much alike…) Jordan was a whiz with the tile saw and all of the angles that had to be figured. Jake muscled through that stubborn vinyl down to the bitter end, and Alyssa did a lot of dirty work with an iron, boiling water and a scraper. Erin was a grout master and always has vision for projects like this. Micah willingly helped with everything. I can’t say that the project itself was FUN, but it was FUN to be with all of our kids and laugh and make memories with them. John is a fabulous handyman – I’ve always admired the way he tackles a project, and he does things right the first time.

Yet…the project isn’t completely finished. I still have to seal the grout. John has to put new baseboards down. The carpet seam has to be re-stretched and tacked down. Our stove is still on the deck and fridge is still in the living room. There are still about 6 tiles that need to be laid in the pantry. And if this project is like some others in our history, it might be 2016 before some of these things get done. 😉

For those of you who have read this far and are wondering – what does this have to do with weight loss? Well, for one: laying tile for 8 hours earns you 35 points plus!

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And for another: my blog is about struggle, determination, and balance and I guarantee that those were all involved in this project.

But I have to laugh when I think of what Jake said a couple of days into the endeavor: “A fire pit would have been a WHOLE lot easier.”

Here are some “before” photos. Pardon the mess and don’t judge! 😉

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If you’ve ever wondered what’s underneath your carpet…here it is:

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SICK!!!

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And in case you wonder what you might find under your stove that hasn’t been moved in 17 years…here ya go:

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We had to cut the carpet to divide the living room from dining room. I was at work during this “no-turning-back” moment, so the guys handed off the scary job to Alyssa. 🙂

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Then, the really dirty work started. John thought the vinyl would come up easily. NOT. We hacked away at it, scraped, beat it, screamed at it, and seriously thought about TORCHING it. In the end, we had to sit a hot, steamy iron directly on every square inch of vinyl until it heated enough to be pulled away from the paper backing and adhesive below it. Then we had to pour boiling water on top of THAT mess and wait for it to soak in, then scrape it away with scrapers and chisels and any other sharp-edged tool we could find. This was HARD, and SWEATY, and SLOW, and AWFUL. Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach hurt. 😉

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My glamour shot: I was tired. It was late. 🙂


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No yuppie women here! 🙂

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Hanes, anyone?

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HINT: If you have to ruin some irons, get them from Goodwill for $3.99.

Well, we finally got the floor uncovered, but found that the builders had spray painted the trim on the concrete floor so we worried that the paint would have to come up before the thinset would adhere. Thankfully – Bill said it would be fine as it was.

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Next John “popped a line” of chalk to get a straight line to start thinking about laying the tile. We had originally thought we’d lay it in straight vertical (or horizontal?) rows but John’s friend Darrell (who does a lot of tile work) said that while laying it diagonally would mean more cuts and more work, we would like the results better.

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The first bit of mortar (or whatever it’s called…) in the kitchen/dining room is laid…

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Awww.
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Lots of cutting and figuring:

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2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 005Of course it had to be nasty, cold and rainy while this project was going on…

And THIS picture was taken after we got home from the New Year’s Eve party, about 1 a.m.:

2012-12-31 001 2012-12-31 006It started to take off!

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John didn’t want to lay the tile diagonally in the laundry room because there would’ve been too many cuts and wasted tile. So we decided to put a fun transition piece between the kitchen and laundry (and also between the game room and dining room.)

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This is my favorite part!

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No BUTTS about it…this was a tough project! 😉

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Had to crawl through a few windows…

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And make a few tricky moves:

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We made a *few* Home Depot runs…

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And the grouting started. Isn’t she pretty?

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John did a lot of “figgerin'” in his head. Which is funny to look at but is really smart, because as your momma and daddy always told you… “If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it again!”

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The LAST TILE! (Well, except for those few little ones in the laundry room.) Hint: save the last pieces for the ones that won’t show (under the stove, etc.) because by then you almost won’t CARE what it looks like. 😉

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Grouting the kitchen/dining:

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MESSY.

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And the (almost) finished result!

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I sure do love these people!

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Thanks for letting me share! I know it’s certainly not the biggest or most amazing or fantastic project, but we are pretty excited about it! A fire pit may have been easier, but this is A WHOLE LOT BETTER!

No Regrets

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While digging through cabinets looking for our missing Christmas DVD’s, John discovered our old video camera and some tapes. They contained footage of old Christmases, Jacob’s *stellar* performance as Daddy Warbucks in his 8th grade musical, and Jordan’s summertime 7 on 7 football games.

Plenty of laughs. There were Jordan and Jacob in 1998, with their arms around each other, standing on the hearth singing “Joy to the World, ‘cuz Barney’s dead…they barbecued his head…” (Wow, really? Where did they come up with such violence??) Micah’s statically-electrified bedhead hair flying around on Christmas morning as he pushed his new Fisher Price Toddler Trike around the living room. John and me, both at least 50 pounds heavier, which didn’t exactly make us laugh but DID give us extra incentive to head to the gym tonight. 🙂 And there was my Dad at one of Jordan’s middle school basketball games, with considerably more hair on his head.

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I found myself swallowing tears too, and wondering why. It’s just so bittersweet. At the time, you might not think much about your little boys throwing their arms around you with unrestrained happiness and unfeigned love. It’s easy to take little things like that for granted.

But I got to thinking about how much more “sweet” we have than “bitter” – and how thankful I am that God gave us a handbook to guide our steps. Thankful for a husband who led our home spiritually and emotionally – and in every way. Thankful that our memories are a blessing and not a curse. And thankful that we don’t have serious regrets about our boys.

Food log….been kinda iffy on that for the last week or so, for obvious reasons. I think I’m going to start posting a screen shot of my Weight Watchers log instead of re-typing it here. Starting tomorrow. Because I’m regretting the food choices of the last week. 🙂

The FINE Art of Sandwich Making

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While many of you are crafting creative and complicated Christmas cookies, Micah and I thought we would share this simple, yet tasty recipe called “Ham Sandwich”. Guaranteed to satisfy the 10:00 p.m. pains of even the hungriest of 14 year old boys, all of the ingredients are likely already in your cabinet and refrigerator (because unlike Martha Stewart, we don’t keep arugula or chopped pickled jalapeno chiles laying around our house.)

First, gather your ingredients:

Oroweat Oat Nut bread (or any bread); Boar’s Head Bavarian ham (or any ham), thinly sliced; cheddar cheese; spreadable butter (not recommended if you’re counting calories…); Best Maid hamburger pickle slices; Kraft Mayo (also not recommended…); French’s Spicy Brown mustard; Julio’s salsa; and baby spinach.

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Next, spread butter on the INside of your sandwich. A logical person (meaning – ME) would say that the butter goes on the OUTside of your sandwich, but apparently 14-year-olds like for the butter to melt on the inside.

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Then add your cheddar cheese. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can cut star shapes out of your cheese. Micah was just feeling hungry, so he went for the uneven slice look.

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Ham goes on the opposite side.

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Next, you drizzle some spicy brown mustard over the cheese. Micah usually writes “I love  Mommy” with the mustard. Not really. 🙂

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A delicate sprinkling of baby (not adult!) spinach adds some vitamins and nutrients.

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Then, it heads to the toaster. Pay no attention to the crumb buildup beneath the sandwich and don’t judge.

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After the toasting, add pickles. You don’t add them BEFORE toasting, Micah says, because you want your pickles to be cold.

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Add a dollop of Julio’s salsa to your plate for dipping…

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and DIG IN.
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And to make your mama happy, CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF!

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My food log today: 2 oz ham and a small handful of almonds for breakfast; lunch at my mother’s: chicken casserole, green beans, salad w/ 1 tsp Creamy Italian dressing, and a roll. And 2 spice cookies and some chocolate candy thing Mom made. 😦 Supper was a cup of soup and some pita chips & hummus.