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Friday, September 29, 2006

You've got mail. The answer to life's questions...are in my in-box.

You've Got Mail.

Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. DELETE. REPORT SPAM, *repeat*

So begins my day.

Regardless of spam-blockers and virus protection. I am constantly amazed at how much free advice and offers to help meet my needs, manages to arrive at my e-mail account, each day. Amazingly- 99% of it is garbage. From Sexual intimacy issues, to build your credit, or work from home....it arrives every day. As though internet elves click "send" all night long.

AOL (although I hear it's true with other serves- too;) never ceases to amaze me- e-mails from (and to) friends are dissolved in cyber-space, like sugar in a kool-aid pitcher. But, ViAGRa ads? and CIali*s ads? They arrive (creatively spelled to avoid the spam blocker-or maybe it's the whole language method of teaching writing, at work ;) with the regularity that only Ex-Lax can bring.

Once in a while, I am surprised. Once in a while, something arrives that seems to come, not from internet elves, but quite possibly from God. (Well- in a round about way- no worries- I'm not seeing e-mails from addresses like "Thus saith the Lord" Or "The Great I am")

Over the last few days- there have been a flurry of e-mails in regards to the Team Blog I've been writing for, for a number of months. It is closing down. I received the first e-mail, the night I arrived back from MOPS Convention. I had arrived home, full of excitement, over a project I had received both encouragement and direction on, at convention.

A writing project. One I've been kicking around in my heart for a while, now. But- have been too busy and too afraid to pursue.

The Team blog, has been a great and safe place to practice writing. I was thrilled to be chosen, and honored to participate. But- now- that season is over. A new season is beginning. In my in-box today- (aside from the typical spam) was an e-mail asking me to participate in an upcoming project. Just when I was thinking God had closed a door- He opens a window- gotta love that.

I'll be posting more details later--- but for now- I'll just say- I am going to have a place to share devotional experiences online, and I'll be working on another big project- that may or may not become anything of consequence, a project over which, I feel both excitement and fear.

I have been praying and asking God for clear direction in a number of areas for so long. I started to wonder if He'd ever end His silence. I've opened my "Magic Bible" countless times- and read scriptures--- trying to see if there was a hidden message for me.... "TRACEY, do this. Or "Tracey, Do that." Honestly, unless God wanted me to walk on water, part a sea, bring dry bones back to life, feed sheep, or start sacrificing lambs... I wasn't finding anything that was clear.

Sorry? What's that? You're confused by my Magic Bible? Oh, you may not be familiar with "Tracey's Magic Bible method of finding God's direction" Let me explain. Well, you open your bible to a random page, then try to read into it- or apply it- to the deepest questions in your heart. When it's me- I sometimes, do this with total disregard of the context or intent.

Don't get me wrong- I absolutely believe in God's speaking and leading... I'm just saying- you gotta be careful, here! There have been God speaks in spite of my method of listening.... but- not so much lately. He's been pretty quiet. Or maybe, He has just been a little redundant. I keep asking the same question, and He keeps answering, just not the question I had asked.

And then, He's quiet. And I just sit there. Listening. Waiting.

Sometimes, God is like that, He wants us to just spend time with Him. (well- He always wants THAT;) What I mean is: He just wants us to just spend time with Him, without an agenda- and without looking for answer. Just curled up in his lap, head resting on His chest, listening to his heart beat. Sometimes it's just the "being with Him" that calms us, and prepares us for the answer to come. Kind of like this: (although Noah is considerably cuter;)


campingmemorialday 004 Noah had landed in Daddy's lap- after hurting his hand, while we were camping. (Squashed it in the door, actually- OUCH.) I remember he kept crying "Daddy, when will it stop hurting? I don't want to go to the doctor!" Daddy knew, that if he just held Noah, in a while, he'd feel better. So that's what Daddy did.

The questions were rhetorical. Eventually- all the tears were gone, the questions grew quiet, and the little man, rested. On his daddy's lap. It was almost holy. It wasn't the answers to his questions, that Noah had actually needed, it was the cuddle. When he woke up from his cuddle/ nap? Off he went. Back to his adventures.

I get the feeling, that God knows I tend to be like Noah. He knows- that if He answers me, right away---(or makes the pain go away- too quickly) I may get down from His lap, and go off on my own, to "do my calling", or continue my play. Just like Noah. Well, cause I'm like that, I suppose.

Over the past months- I've been curled up. Listening. Waiting. I knew eventually, He'd answer- I was just expecting the answer to take a different form. Like maybe my living room wall would suddenly become etched by the hand of God, with words that would make His plan unmistakeable. Or, I'd hear an audible voice, maybe even one that soubded like Charlton Heston,calling my name and answering my questions, or something else, phenomenal like that.

Instead, He chose to send me to MOPS Convention, where my "job" was to teach and to serve others. But, He spoke to me, too. Then, a few e-mails arrived in my in-box---- a place where- outside of a few precious e-mails from friends- I usually find garbage.

I can't help- but laugh. Just about the time I had fallen asleep resting in His lap- an answer came. One that was different from my expectations.


So, what about you? Where are you at today? Do you have clear direction, in your life? Are you searching through your "magic bible" hoping to find answers? Are you listening, but ignoring the answer? Are you ignoring the answer that's in your "in-box" because- well because you're used to finding spam and other garbage there?

Sorry- I don't have answers for you, but I know who's lap is available for a cuddle, and is ready to hold you until you can stop crying long enough to hear what He has to say...

Lets' pray.

Dear Lord Jesus- There are so many things that we need your direction for- jobs, relationships- calling and ministry, I pray that anyone stopping by today- would climb up into your lap and have a cuddle- asking the questions until we can finally rest- then maybe - just maybe be ready to hear the answer- I love you Lord- and ask for courage to follow where ever you lead. amen!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Horses? Chariots? I'm not that into scooping......

Standard_of_Ur_chariots

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7)

Click HERE to see my post today....See you over on Christian Women Online!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Knitting? Yeah-- still knitting;) Though not much lately!

knitting update 001

Kiri- Pattern from Alltangledup.com

Kid Silk Haze Night (Lt grey with silver sparkle)
Needles- Knitpicks options US #8's
I added beads to the border- using the crochet hook method-I added them to the double decreases- in the border (SK2togPSSO) I picked up the remaining stitch on the needle- then added bead- re-seated and continued on.


knitting update 002

More of Kiri blocking;)


knitting update 003
Blue Sky Alpaca Cropped Cardi-
Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk- DK double stranded

(funky stitches at my raglan increases should block out;)

knitting update 004

One Skein Book---- Cabled slipper socks- Lion Brand Cashmere blend-
Have to admit- don't usually like Lion Brand- but this is just as nice as Debbie Bliss- (and a bit cheaper) nice quick knit- goal was to practice cabling- mission accomplished- besides- on US #8 DPN'S I finished these up in just a few days;)

I'll be posting an update on MOPS Convention over the next few days;)

Suffice it to say- it was awesome!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Knitting Obsessed? A Cautionary tale......


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A life of Indistinction.....


"No distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday...their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary." ~ Sue Bender ~ author of Plain and Simple
In`dis`tinc´tion (ĭn`dĭs`tĭņk´shŭn)
n.1.
Lack of distinction or distinguishableness; confusion; uncertainty; indiscrimination.
What is Holy? What is Ordinary? God constantly surprises me with His Holy indistinction.
This weekend it was a Holy Blanket, and a Holy Toad. In August- there was Holy Beach,
A Holy Stovetop and Holy Trauma.
I clicked through my on archive- to see if there are "distinctions" between the holy and the everyday. I found- that while it's not always true- it sometimes is. Yet- the times where it is seamless- indistinguishible, are so much more memorable.
I even know when I started to see this kind of moment...when I was a young mom --- I was blessed to read Brother Lawrences' classic "Practicing the Presense Of God"
Reading that book-changed my view of the world. As a mom I had so often struggled to have time with God- to listen to him... because I was always being interrupted. (Lets face it- as an old mom- now- I still am;)
When I read of Brother Lawrences approach of considering every moment God filled- and finding God's voice in washing dishes etc.... I knew I had found a key to my relationship with Him. There would never be enough time "with God" if it had to fit my "mold". You know- sitting piosly at the break of day- on my knees in fervent prayer...... my hands folded over my bible.... children and spouse resting in bed- housework complete- breakfast warm and ready....
Those moments have been few and far between.... Like YEARS between. It just doesn't play out that way- in my life. I remember feeling disappointed frustrated--- but then-
I started to look for God in every moment....and He was there.
Sometimes in a whisper- sometimes in a pleading prayer- sometimes quiet- but always- there.
This morning- I was packing for MOPS Convention- (see previous post) I started to rip the house apart--- because I couldn't find my "Official" Name tag. "I have to have my name tag--- how will people know me?" I thought... As I made messes and dumped tote bags, I prayed. I asked that God would help me find it.
Instead- He gently reminded me- that this week isn't about Me. My name isn't what matters this week- it's about Him, worshipping Him, hearing from Him, and serving, Him. The Name tag that I need to be wearing- is one not made of plastic- but of Love- His love.
This morning-when I read the CWO Quote---- I realized- that is my greatest desire- but also my greatest pleasure. The moments that are seamless- where sacred and secular are interwined... indistinguishible----those are the moments- where He is glorified- and I am transformed- in heart and action. It's where I start to understand the things I've learned- and see them not as "lessons or Bible stories"--- but as the bread of life- the common everyday- bread of life- that sustains- with it's presense at every meal (although it's sometimes in the form of pasta for this Italian girl;).
Deuteronomy 6:5-9
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Oh God- I pray that everyday- would be one of indistinction- that my life would be seamless- without differentiation between the sacred and the everyday- that all moments- would be transformed by your power and presense- into holy moments- that your word would be made real to me- by your Holy Spirit- I love you Lord- amen


Monday, September 18, 2006

Missional Toad

missional toad

Yes. Touching Toads.

I love kids. I love how they think- I love how they communicate and soak in the truth. But- ocassionally- there are a few "challenges". See- I am a GIRL. My friends would say- the ALL CAPS in this case is necessary.

I'm not just a girl, I'm probably a "girlie girl". Yesterday? I surprised a few little guys with the fact that I'm not afraid of Toads.

I was surrounded by some of the most fabulous little ones ever. We were havin fun- at a Baptism in my friends backyard- and pool. The grills were lit, smoke from ribs and burgers tickled our noses.

The boys were doin "boy stuff" like bossing around the girls--- and chasing each other- and chasing--- well- NOTHING. They were playing with cars, "Rescue Heroes" were being segregated from the "girls toys".

Then, Joe- (one of my favorite- very big kids) found a toad. He was gonna let it go over the fence----

NO WAY. Here is my moment....what do little boys like more than a toad?

NOTHING.

"Joe, Is that a toad? Can I have it????????" Was out of my mouth before I could think it through.

"Yeah, just let it go on the other side of the fence, when you're done.." Was the answer.

(I don't know why - maybe there is a toad infestation to be reckoned with, just outside their fence.)

I haven't held a toad in years. It had been even longer since one pee'd on me. Let's just say- today? It hasn't been long ago. I'm "current" with my Toadie quota at the moment.

It was only seconds before the "Girlie boundary " as broken. Little guys swarmed.

They wanted to hold the toad. I think they were a little surprised, that I was holding it. We giggled when the toad jumped free....to pee on my leg. Then we giggled again, when I scooped him up. Everybody gently touched Mr Toadie. No- we won't get warts- that's an old wives tale. (take it from an old wife;) We managed not to squash him.

Then, I put him outside the fence.

OK--- so maybe you're thinking a little funny- yes. Gross- too. But was it ministry?

Well... when we go to where others are--- and reach past ourselves- to touch toads... we often find ourselves touching hearts.

Maybe it was in the reaching past the pre-concieved notions-(girls don't touch toads) or maybe it was in the shared wonder of Creation... toads may be ugly--- but they are cute and definitely are amazing. (

Maybe it was just in taking time to talk to them... but those little guys? (And girls) well- we hung out on a blanket and goofed for quite a while after that.

I think we connected.

Sometimes- we miss finding the little toads that could connect us with our kids- we're too busy- or or distracted.

Truthfully- sometimes--- I'm just not that "into" the same things as my kids.

My boys love video games. I think they are a waste of time. But- you know what? When I strap on that plastic guitar, and play a few songs on "Guitar Hero" Ok.. so I cna only play ONE song- and I'm Awful! But-aftwards.... I get a whole evening of heart to heart with them. (Once they've finished laughing- of course.)

I can't play games all day- nor can my kids, (although they'd like too, I'm sure) and I sure I can't always have a toad in my purse-(although- I suppose its possible there is one.. somewhere in the bottom- you never know what you'll find in MY Purse;)

But- what if- for just a few minutes each day- we "touched toads?" We got involved in what our kids are into---- not invading their play and not allowing them to BE... but joining them, and letting love "happen"?

sounds like ministry to me....

1 Corinthinians 9:22-24

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. "

Dear Lord- help us to see the missional toads in our midst- help us to love our kids- and the kids of others- in a way that makes a difference- everyday. I love you Lord- amen.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Countdown to MOPS International Convention

freshair_color_sm

OK... so picture this.... some 4,500 + Mom's (without their kids!) from all over the world, gathering in Nashville, Tennesse, to worship, learn, ecourage and be encouraged. For 3 days.

Can you say Pajama Party?

I'm going. Are you? MOPS International Convention.

What? You say you hate mopping the kitchen floor? Me too. MOPS has nothing to do with mopping floors. (Well- you COULD pick up hints about removing gum from carpet, I suppose, but that isn't the point;)

MOPS is not some strange cult for floor fanatics. It stands for: Mothers Of Preschoolers.

This is MOPS: (excerpted from the MOPS website)

"MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. MOPS International exists to meet the needs of every mom - urban, suburban and rural moms, stay-at-home and working moms, teen, single and married moms - moms with different lifestyles who all share a similar desire to be the very best moms they can be! MOPS recognizes that the years from infancy through kindergarten are foundational in a mother-child relationship and are filled with unique needs.MOPS helps moms through relationships established in the context of local groups that provide a caring atmosphere for today's mother of young children. MOPS also encourages and supports moms through resources such as books, this Web site, the MOMSense radio program and the MOPS International Membership. "

What will we be doing in Nashville?

Learning from some of the top Christian leaders... like:

2006 Convention Artists and Speakers:

Elisa Morgan
Ken Davis
Priscilla Shirer
Wess Stafford
Kim Hill
Donald Miller
Nichole Nordeman
Mark Schultz
Go Fish

And on Friday afternoon--- in a little room in the back somewhere-- (oh--- probably as far from my session before it, as possible.......)

Will be me, and a few hundred Discussion Group Team Leaders.... talking about Conflict.

How to resolve it... not AVOID it;)

I'm excited. Like WAY excited.

I have been involved with MOPS Intl. for somewhere around 16+ years. As a Local group Coordinator (coordinated the local groups leadership team) - as a MOPPET Coordinator (Organized a children's program for around 100 kiddos) and as Mentor Mom- where I team taught the women and developed Mentoring relationships with them.

I am now working with MOPS in a different capacity. As a Field Leader. I serve a number of local groups, with leadership training, encouragement and problem solving.

Ocasionally I get to do things like speak at local groups- or at convention- in workshops/seminars.

How cool is that? Not that I get to do it... but that there is an organization that is so sold out to their mission of growing women, that they encourage and give their leaders opportunities to step up to the plate, in different capacities?

That is awesome.

I've been attending and now serving at Convention for some 16 years.. (well- when I wasn't DUE with a baby- or when nursing made it impossible;) it is a spiritual filling and a time of fun and reflection. Challenge to grow....and eating with sharing ;) I look forward to it every year.

Will you do me a favor? See that list of speakers/artists? Will you pray for them? And me-- as we get ready to both recieve from the Lord- and to pour out to these Moms? Will you pray for the tech crews.. the convention center staff... the Moms who are struggling to leave their families behind? The families that will be surviving on macaroni and McDonald's for a few days in Mom's absense?


Dear Jesus- I pray for the leaders- for The MOPS International Staff- their families- the tech people and all those involved or affected in MOPS Convention- I pray for your presense and direction, I pray for you to fill and send out 4500 women on fire for YOU.... ready to allow you to change their hearts- their families and their world, I love you Lord- amen.

Thnx- i knew you would;)

Want to find a local MOPS group? Or find out how to start one? Click here: Immediately!

Seriously.... go.... now;) Check out the website- the forums! They are AWESOME!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

These boots are made for..............pee pee?????? I didn't think so.

boots

Boys. I forgot something very important in this POST. Maybe not so much "forgot" as had a traumatic stress type response and blocked it out of my mind.

It "flooded" back into memory a few days ago.

We're still working on the "potty training thing". Mr Big Boy came running into the living room, stark nakey. "I went! I did it, Mommy! I went on the potty!" We did the happy potty dance...then I told him to put on a fresh "pull-up".

I sat down and went back to what I was doing. It was quiet.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him standing, his back to me. He was still nakey. I turned to remind him that contrary to his preferences...we don't live in a "clothing optional" home.... when I noticed the rainboot, he was holding in front of him.

Can you guess?

Yep. He was peeing in it.

I knew better than to scream or laugh. I demanded the boot- and made sure he dressed. I could not speak.

This is another thing that boys do:

They pee in strange places.

I am a girl. (a very old girl... but still) I don't get it. I have a hard enough time "going in a cup" when I'm pregnant. (Pregnancy makes finding a toilet and peeing a full-time job).

My husband- and friends have assured me that, while this is not "preferred " boy behavior- it is normal. Messy, but normal.

My mother in law tells tales of boys peeing in fish tanks....and wall outlets. (God bless her- she had 4 boys--- THEN a girl;) I wonder at how she managed.

I remember the time I bundled my 5 and 3 year olds up to play in the snow----- I opened the door to call them in- to find them standing on the ROOF of my car. "In the act"..... I screamed the question every mom knows is rhetorical... but every child will occasionally answer truthfully:

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

"Peeing for distance, Mom. See?"

They risked frostbite---- for that?

Yep- Boys just might. They do that, you know.

This time He "gave it the boot." He did later tell me- that he really had to go- and didn't think he could make it back to the potty. That happens when you're cold and nakey, I suppose. It could have been worse--- it could have been in one of my plants. (They're all silk)

I have to hand it to the little guy. It was convenient. Besides- maybe this is exactly how urinals were invented.... dawn was breaking and some cow-boy guy had to go.... a boot was all he had. It's possible.

Just sayin;)

PS--- I'm just glad it was a rubber boot- could have been a tennis shoe. At least it was water-tight. BTW.... I've bleached it.... aired it..... but somehow it feels like I should toss them out.... anybody wanna vote? Should we keep the boots? or throw them out?

Has your child been "creative" in his potty problem solving? Tell us! This week we could all use a good laugh.....Post 'em in the comments. Keep it appropriate--- but post away;)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Too????? But, We're so different?


"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too?I thought I was the only one!"~ C.S. Lewis ~
You too? In Elementary school I remember wishing I could find someone like me.....Someone with crossed eyes. Someone with glasses so thick you could actually see...Someone bad hair...and with feet so "pigeon toed" they had to wear braces, "too".
I never did. Honestly? If I had- I'd have thought they were dorks;) Like I was. But, I did find friends. Friends who were different.... but still the same. In other ways. Firiends who read books and liked music. Friends who loved to pick on boys.....and talk about having our own horses when we grew up.
In Jr High.... there was that mad dash to "find a group" and be a part... we dressed alike, we talked alike....we went to the same orthodontist. We had matching shirts. Lame- but what can I say? It was Jr High.. for petes sake! ;) "Us too" "Me too" We created our accepted identity in our alikenesses with each other...."You Too" was safe. Whew. Jr High is tough.
In High School... I was a cross over. I liked people with different "you toos." I hung out with the drama/choir crowd and the "Cross Country" team....I was a prep- with somewhat punk proclivities;) (One of my favorite outfits was a cream and beige plaid drindl skirt with a cream lace blouse and red crew neck tied over my shoulders... finished off with RED tights and RED plastic pumps!) I was pretty much a goody-two shoes who went to the ocassionally toga party.
(Ok--- only one.) I found friends in different places. We didn't have to be "the same".
It was in high school that I realized that the "You toos" that mattered, weren't always so easy to see.
They still aren't.
What are the "You Toos" that connect us? Are they the similarities of preference? Like clothes or humor style or lifestyle of the town where you live? Or are they the "You toos" of circumstance, like marriage, family status (kids-no kids) , divorce, job and income?
I think we make our shopping list of "You Too's" way too short. We look for people just like us, in circumstances and in preferences.....
I think we're missing it.
How can I gain a new persepective from someone who sees things like I do? How can "Iron sharpen iron" if we agree on everything? How can I learn to empathize with situations I don't live... if I know no one in that circumstance?
The relationships that have changed me and grown me the most have been the ones where the "You Too's" Are so much deeper. Where we see past our differences and find our deeper commonalities, intimacy isn't found in external sameness, it's found in the validation of our deepest needs...
I thought I was the only one.....
Who believed- but struggled with doubts.
Who trusted.... but feared.
Who loves God, and sometimes talks to friends before Him, in a crisis.
Who had bad breath after drinking coffee in the morning:(
Who loves being a Mother( or insert your job title here) - but sometimes wants to kill my kids. (or wants to quit)
Who has considered implanting my children (or other loved and cherished person;) with "Lojack" systems....... just to keep tabs;)
Who knows and believes- that God loves her and has a plan.... but sometimes doesn't FEEL like it.
Who thinks life isn't fair. But should be.
Who struggles to understand that God isn't fair. (We usually process the concept of "fair" as equal) But---He is JUST. And that's better- even if I don't always like it;)
Who wants to be beautiful..... (inside and out) but wouldn't waste her money on plastic surgery, and struggles to allow God to do plastic surgery on her soul.
Who thinks women shouldn't have to have PMS or Periods after giving birth.... it would only be fair;)
Who loves her husband(or friend) .... even when he's a jerk... and he loves her... even when she's a jerk... (which is probably more often.)
Who loves a clean house... but hates to clean....
Who was afraid people thought she was "too much"...too loud... too quiet..too opinionated...too wishy washy...too sarcastic...too sensitive...too independant...too stubborn....too pleasing...too dense...too smart...too annoying...too crazy...(too insert your concern here)
Who wants to be known.... but is afraid you won't like me once you know me.
Who loves God and sometimes wishes He made more sense?
Who knows there is more to life than what we can see?
In my list are really a few simple things- repeated in different ways and different words....
1) Insecurity
2) Struggle with trust and hope and doubts.
3) Desire to be known.
4) A love for and desire to know- God.
Have you ever met someone that you thought "had it all together" in some way--- and "hated" them for it? Until you found out some... "you too" that made you instantly love them? Chances are, it wasn't their shoe size or clothing preference that made you feel connected. It was their heart. Quite possibly, a need that you discovered you share- when you thought it was yours alone.
Have you ever met someone so different from you you thought..."No way. We have nothing in common"?
Today- I challenge you to look past the surface "you toos" and find the deeper ones in someone you meet. You just may find new friends in unexpected places.
Dear Lord- I pray that you'd help me to see the heart connections past the external distractions- I pray that you'd turn our differences into stengths for each other- I love you Lord- amen.
To read other takes on the "You Too's" click the link HERE. Or HERE.

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/11 Tribute- Vivian Casalduc

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.
We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.
(Click anywhere above to read other memorials)
This is Vivian:

vivian casalduc

That's a smile I'd love to have seen in person. Vivian was a mother. Vivian was a (young) grandmother. Vivian lived for her family- and baked gingerbread at Christmas. Vivian is not a statistic.

Vivian was a - a daughter and Grandmother- Vivian was a Mom- just like me.

Vivian Casalduc, 45, New York, N.Y., USA microfiche clerk, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield Confirmed dead, World Trade Center, at/in building

Doesn't tell you much does it? I did some research---- there was so much more to Vivian.

People lovingly created quilt squares in Vivian's memory. Another blogger- Alex Ortiz- has written a Memorial post.

According to her Memory Quilt square- her motto was "Do everything, The Hard Way" Gotta love a woman with a motto like that. It could be mine.
I found another memorial for Vivian here. That's where I learned that Vivian was colorful. I can relate. Ocassionally wearing a blue wig to work... just to mix things up a bit. (I've never worn a blue wig--- but you never know) Vivian wore clothes like art. Her clothes were a method of expression. Again- I can relate.
I also learned that Vivian was a single mom of 3 kids. (now adults) Vivian did the best that she could and she did it well. Vivian left so much behind.
I can't help but wonder, what has Vivian missed? Maybe weddings- maybe funerals- days at the office. Colorful wigs and colorful clothes. Maybe Vivian missed her children's milestones- or her 5 grandchildren's. Maybe Vivian even missed the births of more grandchildren- it's been 5 years. It's possible.
I wonder about the many things that Vivian may have missed- but I do not wonder at all, whether Vivian, herself- is missed.
She is. By her family, by her friends co-workers of 15 years.....and now, by us- those who never had the priviledge of knowing her-
We remember---- Vivian Casalduc
Dear Lord- I pray for the family of Vivian- I pray for you to comfort them and wrap your arms around them- giving them the hugs they must miss so desperately from Vivian. I pray for all the 9/11 victims friends and family- that these tributes would help them in their grief.
I pray Lord- for those in the service- fighting even now- against terrorism, please give them strength, lead them in honor, and bring them home safe. Be with their families who are missing them, Lord. I pray for our world leaders- that you would give them wisdom, and courage to stop terrorism. I love you Lord- please heal our hearts- but help us---never forget- amen.

For more information click: Project 2,996

Sundays post is up at The Christian Women Online Blog that I also write for;) Stop by for a visit. Scroll down for my I remember post....



9/11/2001 I remember. I don't want to, but I do.

A time to remember. If you want to join in sharing your memories of 9-11, Shannon has set up a link: At Rocks in My Dryer.

Strange- I remember details- but they are more like a twisted fishing net, than an organized mesh of time and circumstance. The time frame is confused in my mind. This is what I remember- confused, frightened and prayer filled as it is:

Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were chatting away, just like every day. The kids were at school, I was pregnant, I had just finished throwing up.

911

Matt and Katie's chatter stopped. The cameras went to the Towers. A plane had hit.
"What a terrible accident" I thought. Matt and Katie's words echoed my thoughts.

I was watching when the second plane hit. I don't remember ever watching people die before.

I don't remember much more of what Matt and Katie said. I saw the pictures, that was enough.

"It isn't an accident. Oh Lord Jesus, we're under attack" was my first thought.

"I want my kids" was my next one.

I called my husband- crying. I told him him to come home.

I went to throw up again. It wasn't morning sickness that time.

"Where is EVERYONE?" I mentally took roll call for our scattered and business traveling friends and family. Everyone was accounted for.

I was so glad my husband was in town.

I went back to the TV. I hated watching- but, had never felt more dependant on it as a source of information in my life.

"Should I go get the boys from school? Or should I leave them there?- they may be safer."

Safer from a plane falling from the sky? Somehow it made sense at the time.

Then- I heard, The Pentagon had been hit. The Pentagon? Is anybody safe? I listened for airplanes, the way we listen for tornadoes after the storm alarm goes off, this was NOT a drill.

Another plane had crashed.

The Towers fell, one after another. Then they were GONE.

The announcement that US airspace was "Closed" comforted and scared me at the same time.

"We are under attack. What do you do when you're under attack?" I thought.

I checked the fridge for supplies. I went to the basement, and scanned it.... "Well if we go here for tornado warnings, maybe we could go here for a plane crashing...."

It was crazy- but somehow it made me feel like I was doing SOMETHING. Preparing, just in case.

"Oh Jesus- please God protect us, oh God be present in these peoples last moments, comfort them, reach out to them, and to the families who are left behind"

I held my breath.

As though holding my breath could stop time.

It didn't.

I called the school. I prayed the phone would be answered, not beep that awful busy tone.

The secretary answered. The school had a plan for safety. The police were there, for protection. Yes- some children were being picked up. The children were told that something serious had happened, but that they were safe. The school had information coming in, the kids were not exposed to the constant barrage of images and stories no child should have to see.

In my years of pastoral counseling I had learned that there ARE things to protect your kids from, when you can. We would talk to them later about the whole thing- and since they were in the upper elementary ages- we'd watch some coverage together- later. But we'd limit it.

My husband arrived home.

With all the faith we could muster, we decided it was better for them to stay at school, so we could watch the coverage, and know what was going on.

For the rest of the day- we passed between prayer, fear and heartbreak. The stories started to come in of peoples' experiences. It was too much. Too sad and too real.

I remember feeling like it must either be a nightmare- or some awful scary movie. It wasn't.

Finally- I remember the quiet.

I had never noticed how much noise planes made flying overhead. Until there were none. Over time I started to hear the ocassional loud drone of airplane engines- deep abnormal sounding engines. I remember a moment of panic. Then my husband said-

"Yep, that's a blah blah something something fighter plane" (that's what I heard- though I know he said something much more technical than that)

A fighter plane. This is not an airshow. This is our new world. A world where Terrorists will try to kill you, just because you're an American. I prayed......

"God, I don't know what you're doing, or why you're allowing this, but I pray that people will come to know you- that they will not turn away from you because of this. I hate this God---- people are dying and my heart is breaking. Please help us God. I love you amen."


My prayer today-

"Dear Lord Jesus- I pray that you would continue to heal and give comfort to those who suffered so much- on 9-11 friends lost, family members lost, parents and child, lost, innocence lost.

I pray for peace Lord- I pray for peace for our nation, I pray for peace for the world. I pray that you'd give faith to us where we're lacking and that we'd trust you in all circumstances. I thank you for being there when we prayed on 9-11- and for hearing our prayers on EVERY day.

Lord- I pray that we would never forget the lives that were lost in the name of hatred. I pray that you would change the hearts of men- and women- that all would love and serve you, and learn to love each other in the way that you love us . amen.

*****New Post is up at Missional Mom... if your looking for something a bit more heartwarming.....Click here: Skittles and Sprite

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Airing our Dirty Laundry- literally. (Kind of)

There are five people in my family. How is it that I can do multiple loads of laundry, EVERYDAY, and never be finished?dirtylaundry

5 people should equal-

5 shirts
5 pair underwear
5 pants
5 pair socks
sleepwear of some sort (guys=mostly underwear)
some towels
and a weekly load of sheets.

Thats about 2 loads a day...without any load carry-over.......

Doesn't work that way. Not at my house.

Maybe it's me. See, I have a problem. (OK-- we all know I have many- but usually just cover one issue per day;)

I have laundry issues.

Serious ones:

1) I have an upstairs laundry - for CONVENIENCE- but instead, insist on carrying laundry to livingroom DOWNSTAIRS, to fold- then back up to put away. I know this is crazy- but I want to be where the people are;)

2) I have no problem- sorting,washing, drying and folding laundry- It's the PUTTING it AWAY that kills me. Why can't we cut to the chase and just use laundry baskets instead of dressers and closets? (ummmmmm well--- I guess for the amount of time that laundry sits in baskets at my house- you could say that we do;) Better yet- disposable clothing sounds good to me. (besides- ocassionally my boys fishing clothes ARE disposed of- they are that disgusting;)

3)Everyday (just about)-I put clean folded, sorted laundry onto my "laundry valet" (my bed) The laundry is sorted into family member piles- ready for pick-up. No one picks it up. DH goes to bed- places laundry on floor or other handy surface, and it quickly becomes "indistinguishable" as clean, once again. (especially when our "bad cat" becomes disgusted with her litterbox and decides clean laundry is a much more suitable "restroom")

Told ya- I got laundry issues.

How does my aversion to putting laundry away- multiply my laundry?????????

When people dig through baskets of laundry, they frequently"unfold"and drop items they don't need at the moment, on the floor. When left un-supervised, the clean clothes become laundry once again. This is especially problematic when one compounds the problem by having family members who think putting dirty laundry "near" a laundry basket, is equal to putting it in the hamper.

Clean folded clothes+falling out of the basket while the underwear hunt ensues+dirty laundry on the floor=an additional loads of laundry.

(That covers my laundry algebraic equation for next next 6 months)


" The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
Benjamin Franklin

Sometimes I hate Ben Franklin. Don't get me wrong- I'm sure he's a great guy, but I mean I hate him in the " I hate it when you're right kind of way".

I keep folding- putting in baskets sorting on the bed- and starting all over again, tomorrow. Same clothes- different load. Same activity- same outcome- clean clothes mixed with dirty- laundry washed and re-washed.........over and over.

I keep expecting a different outcome- (I'm not sure what----well ok- my DREAM outcome is that everyone goes upstairs at the end of the day- picks up their fresh laundry from atop the "laundry valet" and puts it away.......(they are 40, 16, 14 and 4 for pete's sake!)

Maybe I don't just have "issues" apparently, I'm INSANE.

Can I get off of my crimes of laundry- for INSANITY?

(please oh please oh please say yes- please oh please oh please say the government will send a laundry aid (because of my impairment) to put away all the laundry that I wash and lovingly fold (BTW I fold the RIGHT way...not because of the video, but because my Mommy taught me to.) Towels- in thirds lengthwise then half then (possibly half again) width wise. Towels are ready for the rack this way. Wash clothes? Must be triangles- then they top my towels on the rack.... I swear I am "Laundry Rainwoman!" I hear myself mumbling:

"Towels must be in thirds, washcloths on the diagonal....."

INSANE Laundry Posse- I'm starting a group, wanna join?

OK- so heres the task- do YOU have laundry issues? What are they? post-em in the comments;)

Dear Lord- I know I should be thankful - I have a family- to dirty clothes- I have a home to store them in- I have a washer and dryer to wash them in---- water from a faucet- and and so much more- please help me to keep my humor about the laundry- and to get it all put away----if you want to send "laundry angels" that would be nice too;) Serving you in the laundry psych-ward- amen;)

UPDATE: Second day of Highschool was much better than the first;) ! (see yesterdays post)


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Missing the Bus, does not mean returning to Egypt.

He missed the bus- I panicked.

For around 45 minutes yesterday- we couldn't find my 9th grader. Normally- I'd be glad to have him busy and not fighting with his brother for 45 minutes. NOT so much, on the first day in High School. Public High School.

Like, over 6000 students on one campus in three different schools, High School. We're talking a bus "loop" with 6 columns of buses. We're talking a school with it's own "district court" and police officers on duty. (it's not a bad school- it's in a great area... but what can I say, the world has changed) Public High school. Big Time.

Somewhere, in that sea of hormone laden teenagers- my shy, quiet- will barely order his own meals at the restaurant- son, was lost. Kind of. Worst part? His cell phone was dead, and at home.

Around 11:10- My 11th grader called home- "Mom, we have an issue. M Missed the bus"

"What do you mean he missed the BUS? WHERE IS YOUR brother????" I remember screeching into the phone.

"I don't know- he didn't make it to the bus." I couldn't find him. 11th grader replied. " He might be on the wrong bus. "

My mind clicked to panic mode- That boy will ride the wrong bus forever- as opposed to he'll tell anyone, that he wasn't on the right bus. (I thought) 11th Grader was on the bus. I told him I was going to find his brother- and to get home immediately and let me know if he called or showed up. I threw on flip-flops- and a ballcap- put the little guy in the car-seat without shoes, and headed off to find my baby. (14 or not- he's MY BABY... so is the biggest one- though he rolls his eyes if I say so.)

I prayed. I wasn't a bit worried about his actually being MISSING. It was the trauma of being afraid, not wanting to mess up on his first day- feeling humiliated as the bus pulled away- and not sure what to do to get home, without having to actually talk to anyone he didn't already know, that worried me. (That was quite a run-on sentence- but trust me- my brain was on worry run-on;)

After calling DH- who immediately had an put out on "APB" (All Points Bulletin... sorry- too much TV) over the bus radios--(he's so smart- he called the transportation depot) I drove around the bus loop for a while- then through the school parking lot.

Honestly? I felt like calling out the window. "M? Where are you?" I managed to refrain. Now there's TRAUMA for you. On your first day of high school- your mother shows up (in sweats- no make-up and flip-flops no less)calling for you all over campus like you're a lost puppy.

As I headed over to the main school building- I thought "This was a dumb decision. What's the matter with me? Sending my quiet child to the wolves like this? Am I an idiot? Maybe we totally missed God on this- this isn't going like I expected. Maybe It's time to go back to homeschooling."

Do you ever pray through a decision, seek Godly counsel, come to a firm decision, then- as soon as it hits the fan, totally doubt the decision? That's exactly what happened to me. Missed the bus on the first day? That must mean I did the wrong thing. Duh.

Something similar happened to the Israelites:

Numbers 11:4-7 (click the reference to read the rest of the story)
"The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

Manna from heaven.... but the Israelites still thought about turning back. Because they craved cucumbers, leeks, onions and garlic?

Now- Being Italian- and thinking those are a food group that the USDA forgot to add to the Food Pyramid. I found this confusing. "Of course they would miss their garlic and onions... how mean of God!" (ok- didn't REALLY think that- but it was funny;)

A quick look to cultural reference materials showed me- that, like most slaves through out history the Israelites ate- what the slave owners wouldn't eat. The Egytians hated: fish, garlic, cucumbers, onions. So the Israelites feasted on them. These were not "choice Italian cuisine"- but waste food. The stuff nobody wanted.

And the Israelites missed it? They craved it? They thought about going back to slavery for it?

Yep.

As soon as the going got tough, the Israelites thought- "Hey- it wasn't so bad being a slave- maybe we should head back- I bet we could make it in time for some free dinner!" (Mommaphrased- of course.)

The Israelites were being undoubtedly led by God- (Like a pillar of fire by night and smoke by day... fed from God's own hand- Manna- then Quail when they whined for meat.) But they thought about going back to slavery.

I have a confession- we used to homeschool- MOSTLY it was to better meet my kids academic needs and learning styles. MOSTLY. But- a little bit of the decision- was motivated by a desire to protect them from the big bad world. Mixed Motives? Yeah. Maybe not for everyone who homeschools- but for me? Yes- a bit.

Which is probably why- when this happened yesterday- I immediately thought- "Yep- time to go back to homeschooling- This would never happen if we homeschooled!" In a way- for that instant- instead of seeing God at work-and allowing God to work- regardless of the circumstances- I wanted to protect and control.

Homeschooling isn't slavery-(though ocassionally my kids thought it was) but in a way- for me- it was like the safety of eating garbage that the Israelites missed in Egypt. (only in the sense that my motives were somewhat mixed... the schooling part was still wonderful!)

Wanting to protect our kids is a Mom thing.

The power to protect- and work for our good, even in our pain- is a God thing.

Yesterday- we faced a crisis- *M missed the bus. I panicked. He did the right thing- (Went into the school- to call home.) His brother did the right thing- (called me to let me know what was up) I did the right thing. (prayed- drove like a "careful" nut, and didn't call out the windows like a freak) God worked it all together for good. *M was stretched- I grew in trust.

Later we talked about his first day. He said it sucked. It did. But we also talked about how he made it THROUGH the suck day. With God's help. We talked about how he found the office- (remember this school is HUGE) talked to the secretary (whom he doesn't know... thats' good for him!) and he had managed not to cry. (by the time I was him his eyes were brimming- but then- so were were mine- and we were at the car door. I'm glad I had my sunglasses on, if he saw me cry, I might have pushed him over the edge.

Crying is fine- crying in the parking lot on your first day of High school , is not. You're mother crying when she picks you up- is even worse.

At the moment- it's 2:13 p.m school is out in 2 minutes.

I am praying that my guys make it to the bus. But you know what? I trust that if they don't, God will be there with them- even when I can't. He alone has the power to protect and save- he alone can make all things work together for good- who am I to try to protect my teens from growing in God?

Dear Lord-as the back-to school stress starts- I pray for moms and kids everywhere- regardless of their ages or specific schooling decisions- that they will seek your will - and that they will stand firm in their decisions- not doubting and running back to their personal "Egypts" just because they are momentarily uncomfortable- I pray that you would work together for their good all things that our kids encounter- that they would grow in you, where-ever you've placed them- I love you Lord- amen.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dateline: 7:00 a.m. December 13 1989. Headline: New Mom Knows it All..... not.

"Don't let schooling interfere with your education."~ Mark Twain ~

It's true. In 1989 I was pretty sure I knew it all. (even though my bangs were higher than the church steeple) I had been teaching sunday school and preschool for a couple of years. I was in college, and separate from college studies- I was voraciously reading every book on parenting and child development that I could get my hands on.

I was pregnant with my oldest.

I had a plan. I had a plan for everything. Baby's schedule, Bible reading, discipline. I was prepared. I was confident that I had learned from the mistakes I had watched so many parents make, including my own. I made it my goal to learn "the right way" to parent.

By 9:00 a.m. the same day, I was beginnning to understand how much I didn't know. What had changed? I had given birth. I was now where the book-learning met the road. It wasn't a smooth ride. The road was full of bumps and sharp turns.

Things like.... the Nursing book had SAID the baby would root and naturally "latch on" to nurse. Mine took a while. And some help from a lactation consultant. (who was wonderful) The Nursing book also failed to mention that nursing would (for a while) cause my C-section to feel like someone was "un-zipping me" from the inside out. My Lactation consultant suggested lamaze breathing for the pain.... it worked. Kind of.

The books failed to communicate that giving birth would introduce me both to the most immediate and intense love I had ever felt- and the greatest fear. The fear of wrecking my child.

At first- I held onto my books. I moved from the month by month pregnancy book- to the child's first year version. Upsetting myself every time my child lagged, and convinced of his "supernatural baby abilities" every time he excelled. I made home made baby food. (some of which was pretty good.) I followed the rules. I was committed to doing this parenting thing "right."

We moved to the "toddler" guide. I choose my methods of discipline well. I carefully watched his intake of sweets and "junk cartoons". (FYI: in your endeavors to be the perfect mom- please, NEVER give your toddler sugar free-gummy bears. There is NO brand of diaper that can contain the mess. Some, is too much for a tiny tummy.) Anyway- We read together. Watched PBS together- for educational purposes, not entertainment. I taught him to read by the time he was 3.

I was pretty sure I was the perfect mother. My child was well behaved. He was talkative (like talking to a little old man, actually) polite and incredibly smart. I was pretty sure it was thanks to me. Super Mom.

In 1992, we decided we had reached the optimal age-to add a sibling to the mix. We planned to get pregnant again. I did. The plan continued.

Apparently- no one had informed our second son of "The Plan" or "The Books". He followed neither one. He was noisy, inquisitive and sick much of his first few years. If something was taller than him... it was a mountain, that must be climbed. He climbed it. (And frequently fell off- the ER kept a bed open for us just in case.)

Homemade baby-food wasn't on his "To Eat" list. He wanted big boy food. Hot dogs , macaroni and cheese (from a box) and cookies. LOTS of cookies. (also from a box... the ones I made that were sweetened with apple juice were fed to the dog)

My second son struggled with severe asthma- we did whatever it took to keep him breathing and taking his meds. Including giving him bottles during breathing treatments, and yes- letting him fall asleep with them. (Big no-no in the "Books")

The "books" and my "plan" were NOT working. I was ready to throw the whole library thru the front window. I think I planned a book burning. Censorship started to sound pretty good. I mean- how can they get away with printing stuff that doesn't WORK with every kid? Isn't that false advertising or something????? I wanted to protest. To riot. I was starting to crack.

Had I been left with my books-and my plans, I'd be mumbling in an institution for crazy perfect moms somewhere, even now. Probably with my food processor, making fresh strained peas, and watching Barney.

Those things weren't bad- but the pursuit of perfection- that was a bad thing. It was an unattainable goal. It will drive you crazy.

Apparently- God had a different plan. I was involved in a Mothers Group- MOPS International. At MOPS I learned the important stuff.

The stuff they leave out of parenting books. Stuff like: Mommy's cry too. Perfect is crazy. If you don't take care of Mommy, she can't take care of her kids. Daddy is still number one. (although he sometimes feels like he comes #3or 4 right behind dishes and vacuuming) And good enough- is good enough. Oh--- and pictures of homes in magazines are models- no one lives there- that's why they look like that. As a matter of fact- MODELS in magazines are also models- they are airbrushed and made up to look like that- real moms don't.

Real moms have puke on their shoulder and cheerios in their hair and they are beautiful. Real moms know there is a time for everything- including cartoons and cookies. (in moderation of course--- and not necessarily for the little ones- sometimes a cookie will get you thru till naptime.)

I still read books. I still do my best to learn and to manage my home and family in a way that honors God and is healthy for us all.

I just don't let the books (and schooling) in the way of my education as a Mom.

Dear Lord- I pray that you will lead each mom in they way she should parent- the needs of our kids are so different. I pray that we can get past the idea that there is ONE right way (ummm usually our own) and learn to learn from each other- accept each other and challenge each other- I thank you for the knowledge that we can learn from books and school- but I even more thank you from the heart to heart lessons we can learn from each other- God I pray that you'd bless MOPS International as it reaches out to Moms all over the world, I pray that women will find you, at MOPS. in Jesus name- amen

I should mention- that years later- God blessed us with a surprise- a third son.... who at the moment is eating yogurt for breakfast (good) and watching "Sonic The Hedgehog" (ummm not so good) on TV......we go for balance at our house now;) Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to post, or write.. which would probably push me over the edge to eating the strained peas myself. Just sayin;)


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