Ever had to deal with one of these before?
For those who might not know, it's an asthma inhaler with an additional piece that lets you hold the mask over your toddler's face so he can breathe in the medicine. The doctors make this sound like it should be completely easy and painless. The toddler, on the other hand, thinks you're trying to kill him, evidently.
My son was diagnosed on Wednesday morning with Croup. I didn't even know that disease was still around. All my life, it's been in the historical romances I read, back in the 1800s. They would always hold the child's head over a bowl of steaming water until the coughing stopped. It didn't even cross my mind that it could be something like that when he was coughing all night long. I thought it was allergies exacerbating his asthma. Evidently, Croup is a virus very much alive and it also exacerbates asthma. So, we learned how to use this device, much to my son's chagrin.
As he was fighting me while I held the mask over his sweet little face, I got almost as frustrated as he was. After all, this medicine was going to help him breathe easier. Why wouldn't he let me help him feel better?
Is this how God feels whenever I continue to not let Him help me with something?
"Help me, God, with x-y-z, please and thank you very much." And then I go on as if He won't, continuing to worry about it or try to fix it myself. And He's probably sitting up there, wishing I would let Him do for me what would help.
What about you? Do you have your own personal asthma mask that you're not letting God hold over your face to help you breathe?
Hello. Happy Anniversary of my birth! That's right. It's my birthday again. Didn't we just do this last year? I hope there's cake!
I have noticed as I get older that I tend to reflect on what all has been accomplished in the last year as I start a new one. Do you do that? No. Well, I packed a lot into this year, some good, some bad. I can't really call it a good year or a bad year because they almost seemed like they wanted to even each other out.
We celebrated my son turning one.
We said good-bye to my sweet mother-in-law, something we never thought we would have already had to do.
We celebrated my book coming out in November. And I have self-taught myself marketing, which is why I'm still not great at it, but I'm a work in progress.
We celebrated my daughter turning three.
We made amazing friends in our new area, and have grown so close to several of them over the last year.
We celebrated Christmas without travelling.
We bought a house and moved in.
We set up a swing set in the backyard, got the foundation repaired, replaced the AC, added a screen door on the back, hung a ceiling fan, and several other little things to said house.
We put in a garden and grew vegetables (so much squash and tomatoes!). And did a few other little landscaping things, too, with more in the works.
We said good-bye to my sweet grandmother and visited Oklahoma for probably one of the last times.
We celebrated my husband finishing his first year teaching here.
I attended my first writer's retreat and loved it.
We celebrated fourteen years of marriage.
We enjoyed our summer break, although it almost didn't feel long enough.
We took the kids to their first Atlanta Braves game, and to see their last great-grandmother.
We've taught Bible classes, helped in VBS, gone to several get-togethers, lived.
On second thought, the good definitely outweighs the bad.
In honor of my birthday, I'm going to do a giveaway. Anyone want a date night? I'm giving away a date-night like the one my characters Jess and Chad had in my book An Unexpected Legacy. Stay home and enjoy a Redbox rental and a bowl of popcorn on me. Want to be entered? Just leave a comment here or on my Facebook author page telling me how you would celebrate if you could do anything you wanted to for your birthday. Deadline is 9pm central on Friday.
Have you seen all these people who are limiting their wardrobe to like twenty pieces only? I want to be like that. I'm not. But I'm working on it some.
For the first time, I am putting things into a children's consignment sale next month. I have about five bins of clothes that have been outgrown and need to leave my garage. And honestly, it would be nice to have the money, too. Especially with all the birthdays and Christmas coming up. So, I set out to go through everything and start getting rid of stuff.
You guys, this is hard! I didn't expect it to be so emotional. But I have found so many pieces given to us over the years, from dear friends, from family members who are no longer with us, or just hand-stitched items I can't bear to part with yet. If I tagged everything with the emotional value I have attached to it, I would make absolutely nothing and come home with every piece I put in. Instead, I had a good friend who has done this before come over and help me start pricing things. I have pictures of my children in the special outfits already. I keep reminding myself of that, and that we could use the money and the space more than we can use clothes that no longer fit our children. But this mama's heart is just about as tired as she is physically from lugging stuff around the last few weeks.
How do you deal with emotional attachments? Do you struggle with it, or are you more like those people I wish I could be like, keeping everything in your life to a minimum so that you're less stressed-out and much happier?
Humbled in Prayer
I never thought I would end up being a mom who yelled at her children. At least not every day. After all, it took us so long to have children in the first place, why wouldn't I treasure every minute?
That was before my children started asking "why" all day long. Or refusing to nap. Or yelling at each other (something I know they probably learned from me yelling at them).
I probably don't yell as much as I think I do, but I do give in to my frustration enough that I notice it and am aware that I am doing it more. Part of it is because I let myself be obligated to so many things that I don't leave enough time, and then I get stressed out and it overflows onto my family. I'm sure we all do that to a point. It's something I'm trying to figure out how to work on. But it's not the main point of this post.
As I was praying before sleep the other night, I was asking God to forgive me for doing the same things over and over again, for asking the same questions, for not following Him like I should, etc. And it hit me. I'm asking God to forgive me for basically the same things I've been yelling at my children for. When I lose my temper at my children because they ask me "why," and then turn around and ask God the same question, how can that be right? Especially when I know He won't turn and snap at me that He's already answered that question and why didn't I listen to the answer. It sank in that if I'm going to emulate anyone as I try to be a better parent, I need to be more like Him. Other parents are great to get advice from or vent to, but we always need to be trying to be more like our Heavenly Father.
It's something I'm working on. How about you? How do you keep yourself from losing your temper at your children? How do you try to be more like the perfect parent?
More Pumpkin ... Less Sun
'Tis the season ...
Or so craft stores would have us believe. Rows and rows of pumpkins, leaves, scarecrows, and fall decorations line the aisles and make us wish for sweaters, boots, and a chai latte. Or is that just me?
But, you guys, it's August. Back in Texas, there would be no signs of fall anywhere. It's still in the 100s with no break in sight down there. Here in Tennessee, things are milder, but our heat index was still up there today. And yet, I pulled up my wilted green bean plants the other day because they weren't really producing anymore. Out of about ten plants, I got five pints, so not too bad for a first year. I might get two or three more squash. My sunflowers are pretty much picked over by the birds. I have two orange pumpkins, two more turning, and another big green one. We are still getting some tomatoes, and I definitely can't complain about that -- my favorite. But I'm not sure about that one carrot that just keeps hanging on but not really getting any bigger.
Yes. Summer is winding down. It's almost time for my birthday. School is back in session here. I've caught a glimpse of just a few colored leaves on some of the trees on our street and can hardly believe it. How can summer already be gone?
Are you ready? Are you like me, chomping at the bit, ready to do all things pumpkin? Or are you holding on tight to those last sunshine-filled days, looking for one more swim or one more baseball game or one more family trip? Each season has its own blessings. Are you treasuring the ones you're in, or longing (like a craft store for the next two holidays) for what comes next?
After we finally got our oldest child sleep-trained and into a regular routine, we knew we wanted to initiate a little family devotional time each evening. It wasn't going to be anything fancy or complicated, but it would give us one more chance to remind our children how much God loves them, to continue to teach Bible stories, and sing songs and say a prayer together. I posted a video of my son for my family to see, as he joined in with us one evening singing the "Hippo" song. I don't know any other title for it. It talks about how God made everything, including the hippopotamus, and that is a fun thing, especially with all the motions that go with it. Several girls commented on how that was a little bit of a wild song to sing right before bed, so I thought I'd share our whole routine for anyone looking for starting place. Please keep in mind that our children are not-quite-two and not-quite-four, so this will morph and grow as they do. But for now, this is what works for our family.
After pottying and brushing teeth one last time, we gather on the couch for a Bible story. We use The Beginner's Bible by Zondervan because it simplifies the stories without losing the truth and has fun illustrations. Then, each child gets to pick one song to sing. Some nights we have calm songs and some nights we march in the Lord's army. Then, we settle again and ask each child for something to thank God for that happened that day. Some nights, our prayer might be thanking God for the things we ate or getting to see a special friend. Sometimes, all they can think of is the sunshine. We never really know what they'll say, but we do guide them a bit if they have trouble thinking of something, because I love the idea of having them focus on the good right at the end of the day. After our prayer, we do hugs and kisses. Then, each parent takes one child (we switch each night) to his/her own room and sings "Jesus Loves Me." We tuck in and hope sleep comes soon.
As they grow, I imagine we'll graduate to a harder Bible, maybe have a memory verse each month or week. Probably work on memorizing books of the Bible or other facts. And we'll probably have the children start helping say the prayers, too. We'll just have to play it by ear, as I'm sure you all have to do with your family, too. This may not work for anyone else but us, but it does give us those few minutes at the end of the day to remind our children of God and how awesome He is, as well as how much He and we love them.
What about you? Do you do something similar with your children?
Sunflowers ... for the birds
I have loved sunflowers for a LONG time. My room in high school was decorated with the cheery flowers. And I had the cutest skirt that was denim at the top with sunflower-patterned ruffles. I miss that skirt. Anyway, when deciding what to plant in our garden this summer, sunflowers were a must. We planted two different kinds because my mom had sent a packet and I had purchased one, too. I had no idea sunflowers could grow and have about ten to fifteen different blooms on one plant, but this giant does/did. It was gorgeous as it started blooming out all over.
Then, that verse in Matthew came to life before me. You know the verse we all quote to ourselves when we're fretting?
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matt 6:26-31 ESV)
Well, the birds got ahold of my sunflowers. I've never seen the likes of this before. Have you?
Yes, they are literally tearing the sunflower heads apart to get the seeds out. It's a huge mess, and we didn't get to enjoy the pretty flowers for long. I had told my daughter we would save the seeds to feed the birds this winter, but the creatures had their own idea.
But isn't it an interesting reminder. The Bible tells us we don't have to take care of the birds. God does that. Here's proof. The birds definitely know how to fend for themselves. If God can equip them to be able to tear up a hard sunflower head and finagle the seeds out, how dare I not trust Him to take care of me just as well if not better.
What about you? Do you get little reminders like this sometimes? Do you trust God to feed the birds with your flowers? This is definitely a reminder I needed. How about you?
This summer is the first time we've been able to have a garden in a long time. And we've been enjoying it immensely. It's definitely fun to see the kids delight in watching the plants grow, and marvel in being allowed to pick a tomato and then eat it for dinner that evening.
One of the plants we're learning more about as the summer goes along is our pumpkins. We didn't think much of it when we stuck three little seeds in that corner of the garden. Several months later, the vines have snaked over our yard and we have quite a few of the gourds ripening in the sun.
Our first two pumpkins that grew and turned orange just got thrown in the trash the other day. Too late, I realized that where they had been sitting on the ground, the moisture had worked its way into the skin and caused it to mold and rot. There was no way to save those bright orange beauties we had been so excited about when they first started growing.
Since then, we have realized that if we get them off the ground, they do much better. I found these plant stands at Bargain Hunt for $2, and they seem to be working well, don't you think?
Seeing the way the pumpkins did sitting on the ground and being suspended on the stands made me think about us as Christians. You are starting to learn how my brain works now, yes? Life applications in everything.
Anyway, think about it. If we stay down on the ground, sitting in the filth of the world, what happens to us? We may not see it on the top. Up there, we may look perfect, just like those pumpkins did. But when lifted up, the rottenness can be seen. And it won't get better as long as we stay there, either, will it?
But when we lift ourselves up away from the filth of the world, things go better. And what better "plant stand" for our life is there than the Bible? Doesn't it help hold us up and keep us growing like we're supposed to when we let it?
Then, we can turn out like this guy.
So, what do you think? Should we all use our plant stands a bit more? Don't we want to be more like this pumpkin than the ones I just had to dispose of?
After all, it is almost pumpkin season. Don't believe me? Just check your local craft stores and Walmart! ;-)
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.