December 26, 2007

New Quote of the Day-Motherhood

"To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. "

G.K. Chesterton

December 20, 2007

A Little Child Won't Be Leading Us!

Last night as Barrett and I sat and read some books together, I asked him a question.
"Barrett, if Christmas is Jesus' birthday, how come we get the presents?"

"Hmmm. I don't know, Mommy."
He thought about it for a moment and then said,
"Maybe because He likes to watch us open presents!"

I was pleased with that answer. At least it showed that Barrett thinks God takes pleasure in our joy. My momma pride was short lived, however. As I was studying Barrett's sweet little face and thinking about his answer, he was busy thinking of another question.

"Mommy, do you think God worships us on our birthdays?"

December 19, 2007

passing from life into Life

(Thanks to Rachel, I changed the name of this post....)

Yesterday morning I woke up and just couldn't get out of bed. Barrett was cuddling with me. It was still dark outside. I was toasty warm. I was comfortable. My shoulder didn't ache. My knees didn't hurt. My back didn't ache. I felt good.
I started thinking about what a great way that would be to die. Just to lay there, warm, cozy, and comfortable, until I leave this body.
That cheerful thought led me to imagining my men/boys around me as I go. What would they really say and do if I were leaving this body?

(I can't imagine leaving Barrett yet, so I'm going to leave him out of this.)

Mike would quietly, patiently sit by my side, praying for me and our sons.

Benjamin would say, "Mom, quit crying. We'll be there soon. Dying is just a part of living. Get over it..." And then he'd pick up the latest book he's reading on philosophy, one that would be way over my head on a good day, read it out loud to my shriveling brain cells, and literally bore me to death.

James would sweetly hold my hand and tell me stories about his day.

Alec would come up with some wild, sarcastic comments like, "Gee mom. You don't look half bad for a woman who's half dead!" I'd start laughing and get well.

What I hope they would do is this:

I'd like Mike to sit and quietly read the bible out loud to me.

I'd like James and Mike to come and serenade my going with their gentle, soft guitar playing.

Benjamin should come and preach truth to me. Seriously. I need it.

Alec can come and just be himself. He makes me laugh and laughing would be the perfect way to go.

I also want Mike to kiss me sweetly on the lips. (Provided I don't have something contagious.)

On most days Benjamin and James kiss me on the head as they rush out the door. I love and treasure those kisses and I hope I get some on my head as I leave them for a change..

And of course, I want Alec's hugs. They nurture the mom in me.

After all that, I want them to set up a card table in the corner and play cards. I love, love, love to listen to my guys tease each other and banter, pick on each other, preach at each other, laugh at and with each other, and talk together.

Yep. That would be the way to go.

December 17, 2007

Higher Ground

Toward the end of the summer a young man at our church started a group for young adults. It's called: Higher Ground. They meet every Friday night. Our 2 older sons love it and have gone almost every week. This group is treated like a secret meeting of the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, or the KKK. The group leaders have made it very clear that anyone younger than 18 or older than 29 is not welcome.
We've always been picky and very careful about who our kids hang out with, but as they've grown into adulthood we've "given them their wings" and let go. We try and remember that they're in the Lord's hands and "remind" Him that He needs to take care of them now. (I know, I know. HE doesn't need reminding!)
Anyway-as some of you may remember, I am a curious person. I was dying to know exactly who our sons were hanging out with and what they were up to. Did the kids they were hanging out with love the Lord? Were there strange initiation rights they had to go through in order to join? I won't go into detail, but my imagination worked overtime tormenting me with ideas about our sons' new friends.
(Just a side note-I'm not happy about being old enough to call people in their 20's "kids". But they are kids.....)
Anyway-earlier in the fall they finally decided to open the meeting up, for one evening, and allow parents to come see what Higher Ground is all about.
Needless to say, I went. I had a great time, and all my fears were put to rest. As a bonus prize, my son later told me that I was voted "Coolest Mom" after I'd left!
The "Kids" start out their meeting playing pool or ping pong, listening to loud, annoying, headache-giving music..Did I just say that? I mean inspiring, awesome, life changing music.
Later, they gather together and spend some time in worship. A little later they sit together and share prayer requests, talk, laugh, have an "announcement" time and then pray together.
Even later in the evening it's back to the indescribable music and more games and laughter.
I imagine they were on their best behavior because it was after all, "Parents' Night", but I was so impressed with every one of them. They were mature, they love the Lord, and it's easy to see that they all are "considering how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
(Hebrews 10:24)
By the way, it was easy peasy for me to win the "Coolest Mom" award. I was the only parent that showed up.

December 12, 2007

Better Than Chocolate?

Yesterday was a bad day. I won't bore you with all the details but I will tell you this:
it involved:


  • a stalker

  • conviction from the Lord about how enamored I am with my blog and myself

  • having to go to my husband's office party and make small talk, when basically I am a shy person and have no idea what to say to those people

  • the sudden realization that Christmas is only 14 days away and I've so far only sent 5 cards and haven't even thought about what to get some people, let alone finished crafting and shopping and baking.

  • my house is NOT clean, which proves that my post on housecleaning was a sham. Now everyone knows I'm a hypocrite.
In lieu of all that, I need some comfort. So.....I'm going to give myself "The I Gave Myself This Award Award."

And I'd like to thank Big Doofus and Misssniz for sharing it with me.
(Feel free to give yourself this award if you'd like to.)

December 11, 2007

A Guest Speaker

For language today I had Alec, (our 15yr old) write the same poem I posted yesterday. Hope you enjoy it!

Where I'm From
by Alec
I am from Computers,
from Vitamin D milk & Delicious Starbucks’ hot chocolate.
I am from the small cozy home with many chairs.
I am from the Spider plants and the apple tree.
I am from Thanksgiving feasts and Sarcasm,
from Mom and Dad and four grandparents.
I am from the Spontaneous and the Weird.
From “Hang you by your toes in the apple tree” and “Wash your hands!”
I am from God is there no matter what, Even when you sin.
I am from a little town in Indiana,
from Germans, Italians, Dutch and Norwegians.
From Long Conversations and Deep Discussions,
that are not always exciting.

December 10, 2007

Where Did That Come From?

I found the idea for the poem in the last post here:

http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/archives/2005_02.html#003144

If you try writing one, would you let me read it? :-)
jan

Where I'm From

I am from sawdust under my dad's table-saw,
from Tang, and frozen pot pies.
I am from a quaint place called Sunnybrook Lodge:
the crick, tiny rental apartments, and wet snow falling on my hair as I wander at night.
I am from the mountains,
the pine trees,
wildflowers, and elk.
From ma's mostachioli & homemade bread,
pride and independence,
from Richters and Rinellas and 3 big brothers.
I'm from the people who have an answer for everything,
this too shall pass, and don't freeze your gee gee.
I'm from be careful how you pray, you might get what you ask for
and God helps those that help themselves.
I'm from Chicago, proud Italians
and stubborn Germans.
I'm from chocolate and gin & tonic,
a dad who liked to hunt and fish, fish and hunt,
and a mom who pushed on despite everything.
Her treasures were her children and grandchildren,
now scattered between heaven and earth. Her
family was priceless.

December 8, 2007

The Strong Willed Boy Part 4

A few weeks ago my son and I had a particularly bad week. We could hardly talk to each other without arguing. I started thinking about his 2 big brothers. We had never related to each other like that....I couldn't figure out what the difference was. (Other than the fact that no 2 kids are alike and therefore your relationship with each one is going to be different.) Then I realized that I'd been putting myself on his level and acting like a 15 year old instead of The Parent. My pride would be injured when he talked to me sarcastically or disrespectfully and I'd "react", talking to him in angry or sarcastic tones myself. This is something I see happening between Alec and our 6 year old all the time. Good grief!

So, I dug around in my memory and tried to figure out how I'd related to his 2 big brothers. In the first place I always tried to maintain my status as The Parent instead of a sibling. Disrespect was just not tolerated. However, because Alec is way more stubborn than his brothers it's sometimes hard to know how to handle this.

Here is what I'm trying right now.

First of all, I'm putting myself in his shoes. I see so many of my weaknesses handed down to that boy. Stubborn. Strong willed. Wanting control.

I'm also trying to remember what it was like to be 15. There is NO amount of money, scrapbooking supplies, or chocolate that could get me to go back to that time in my life. You are at your most vulnerable, in my opinion. Not only are you hormones going crazy, but you're becoming an adult and letting go of childhood. Alec is trying to figure out who he is, why he is, where he's going, and who his heroes are going to be. I see him trying to be like some of the guys he works with and his big brothers. I'm so very thankful he has those examples-the guys he works with and his 2 brothers all love the Lord and want to serve Him. We're very careful about who he spends time with and hangs out with. We want him to look "up" not "across" at someone his age who is just as vulnerable and confused as he is.

I can clearly see him analyzing everything we've taught him about the Lord, the bible, his relationship with God, and even God's love for him. Is it true? Do I want to go that route? Am I willing to give up my control and trust that God? Our prayers for him have increased tremendously, needless to say!

Second, I'm focusing on our hearts. What I mean by that is this. When the dr., midwife, or taxi cab driver put your baby in your arms for the first time, there were thousands of tiny strings tied between your heart and his. Every time you talk to your child in an angry, sarcastic, or patronizing way, you cut one of those strings. My mom raised me on guilt trips and reverse psychology. This did not create a very strong sense of trust in our relationship! Harshness closes a child's spirit. If you persist in that, after years of relating like that, all the kid will want to do is get away from you.

On the other hand, every time you encourage your child and build him up, you're tying more strings together between your hearts.

Right now, today, I am setting the tone for a relationship with Alec that will last the rest of our lives. I need to remember that. I'm trying to talk to him like the young man he is....this week, instead of reacting, I've been asking, "Sweetie, you seem really uptight. What's going on? Would you like to talk?" And you know what? We've been talking. It seems like he's trusting me a little more and is willing to be a little bit more open with me about the things he's thinking about.

I'm trying to focus on his strengths-I need to see what his gifts are and then tell him I see those things in his life. I want to build up his relationship with the Lord and show him what his abilities and gifts are and ways the Lord might use those later in Alec's life. It seems like my major focus is on his faults. I'm like a harpy, "Change, for crying out loud! Mature! Quit acting like that. Don't talk to me like that...." On and on. I wonder how he would finish the sentence,"My mom thinks I'm....". (At this point I'm afraid to ask him!)

One other thing I'm trying to remember is that the bible says children are like arrows in a quiver. I once heard a study on that. There is so much detail work that goes into making an arrow. It takes hard work and time to make sure the arrow will fly straight and true. To get the point sharp. If the feathers on the back are crooked or twisted the arrow will miss it's mark.

We're only given 18 years or so to perfect the arrows the Lord has placed in our quiver. I don't have time to jump in and act like a half-made arrow myself.

(Some of these ideas were passed on to us at our local home school convention a few years ago. I went to a parenting workshop given by David and Shirley Quine of Cornerstone Curriculum. Those two parents have been blessed with soooooo much wisdom!)

December 6, 2007

We Rented A House

For seven years we lived in a tiny duplex. As our family grew, so did our desire for a bigger home. Then an amazing thing happened. We were given the opportunity to rent a house. It wasn't just any house though. We had 3 growing boys and here's what the Lord blessed us with:

  • 23 acres of woods and a small meadow
  • a large front field full of long, wild grass
  • 3 acre pond
  • an apple tree in the front yard
  • berry bushes thrown in everywhere around the property
  • 2 row boats
  • ducks, geese, herons
  • fish to catch
  • turtles to catch
  • beaver to observe
  • microscopic creatures to study
  • ice skating
  • sledding
  • deer to watch
  • leaves, leaves, leaves to rake, jump in, and collect
  • nests, cocoons, insects, pine cones, seed pods, and acorns
  • bonfires and s'mores and hot dogs
  • antique bottles buried into the side of a hill to dig up
  • paths to chase each other through
  • a loooooonnnnnnnggggggg driveway to shovel in the winter
  • bird feeders with hundreds of birds to categorize
  • watching squirrels gather nuts
  • beautiful wildflowers surrounding the house
  • the house was large-HUGE living room with a fireplace, 3 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and large windows in every room

A couple special memories we have are:
  • watching the boys play "Lions in Africa" in the tall grass in the field in front of the house
  • playing Frisbee, volleyball and flying kites in the same front field
  • one Autumn we watched a squirrel frantically spend his days gathering nuts. He put them in an old hollow tree right outside our living room window. One morning we got up and a raccoon had moved into the food-filled tree. We never saw the poor squirrel again. (I'm sure there's a spiritual lesson in that somewhere.)
  • My mother-in-law came and spent a month with us shortly after we moved into that house. One morning, at the crack of dawn, I stumbled out into the living room to find her standing in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace, our 3 sons were with her. All 4 of them were still in their jammies and you know what they were doing? Giggling and roasting marshmallows, laughing, and talking!
  • Every spring we loved to watch the geese returning from the south. The pond would still have ice on it when they came. It was so fun to sit in our warm, cozy living room and watch them come in for a landing on the slippy half-melted ice. They'd slide and fall, and tip-toe around like drunken old sailors.
  • Except for the summer months, when it's hot and muggy out, Mike and I sleep with our bedroom window open. One morning, late in the fall, when it was still dark out, we woke up to the sounds of crunching and munching outside our bedroom window. We went to the front door and peeked out. There, under the apple tree, were 3 deer, feasting on the apples that had fallen on the ground. The really strange thing was this: one of our cats was out there with them, weaving around their legs and rubbing up against them as only cats do!
  • Every once in awhile the boys would find an enormous snapping turtle they just had to show me. To this day I have no idea how they would get the turtles into the row boat, but somehow they did. Benjamin, our oldest, would row the boat across the pond with James sitting behind him keeping a sharp lookout on the turtle. If the turtle tried to move toward the front of the boat James would whack at it with a stick.
  • Because the pond was "comma" shaped, I couldn't always see the boys when they were out in the boats. It's only natural that at times I'd be worried about them and want to make sure they hadn't drowned at the back end of the pond. So, good old mom would use her "football game whistle" to call them home, just to make sure they were still alive and well. After rowing and working and sweating their way back around the pond to the house they'd call out, "What mom?" "Oh, nothing. I just wanted to make sure you were OK."
  • Our youngest son was born in the living room of that house.

We've since moved on from that house.....the memories we have are priceless........

December 4, 2007

A Midlife Crisis Moment With jan

I'm tired. Very tired. I woke up this morning I think even more tired than when I went to bed.

We've lived in this house 4 years and for some reason our bathroom ceiling has started to mold.
Mike's checked the roof, no problems. He's gone into the attic-bone dry.

Saturday Barrett slipped while climbing around on his bed and fell. His head crashed into Alec's turtle aquarium and broke the glass. Thankfully Barrett just got a couple bumps on his head! However, their room now smells like a cross between wet, moldy carpet and poopy turtle water.

2 of our appliances are dying.

I used to be able to pay the boys 1 cent for every grey hair they plucked. If they pulled out my greys now I'd look like a mangy dog.

My skin is losing it's elasticity. When I pinch the skin on my hand it stays pinched.

Our house is so tiny we are literally going to have to put one of our livingroom chairs in the back of our van for a few weeks if we want to put up a Christmas tree.

Petty stuff, I know. I know.

How about this? In the last week we've seen all 3 of our older boys going through very hard, intense things. We've spent hours talking with a couple of them about their struggles. Mike and I both feel like Charlie Brown's teacher must've felt. We talk but the words just end up in their ears like, "Wawawawa wawaaa wawa......."
What's the point in going through hard things, and learning life lessons if even your kids won't listen to you?

I just finally have accepted the fact that parenting is like marriage. It's an "until death do us part" proposition.

The hard part is surrendering them to the Lord, like you have to do with your spouse. It's up to the Lord to teach them and take care of them. My problem is control. I want to solve their problems. I want to make them comfortable. I want them happy, not struggling.

Alec doesn't come by his stubborn, strong-will mysteriously. Surrender.

It's SO much easier to live with Barrett. With him all I have to worry about is if those gagging noises he's making while he eats his brussel sprouts are going to result in puking on the kitchen floor. Even that would be OK. The floor needs to be mopped anyway.

December 3, 2007

Help! It's Monday!

It's Monday. That's a very good reason to post something funny, isn't it? The start of another looonnnngggg week. I left this as a comment on another blog, but then decided to post it here too. Hope it gives you a little laugh as you start your week.
When our second son, James, was little, he couldn’t pronouce his “R’s”, so when he talked he sounded a lot like Elmer Fudd. The summer that he was 2 or 3 we attended a family reunion. One evening the entire family decided to go to Pizza Hut for dinner. Our son was seated at the end of the table in a high chair. Everyone was talking and laughing and ignoring the little guy when all of a sudden his voice bellows: “WHERE’S MY FORK AND KNIFE?!” Only it didn’t sound like that because of the “R” problem. It sounded like,“WHERE’S MY F****** KNIFE?!” Not only did our entire family stop and turn their heads, so did everyone else in the restaurant. I wanted to crawl under the table I was so embarrassed. Then suddenly the room burst into laughter. James is 19 now and is still to this day being teased about his "foul" mouth.

November 25, 2007

There and Back Again-A Daughter's Tale-Bit 7 of "That's My Life"

The hospital cafeteria coffee was rank. We didn't eat anything because none of us could. Finally, after about 20 minutes, someone sighed and we all stood in unison. It had been an intense week; one we hadn't been expecting. As the elevator carried us up to the 3rd floor of the hospital, my brothers, their wives and I tried to shake off the sadness and weariness of the week, knowing that more was to come. When we stepped off the elevator and looked toward her room, we saw a nurse was barring the way. With tears in her eyes she shook her head. We knew mom was gone. One of my brothers muttered something like, "The little stinker. She was proud and independent right up to the end. She wouldn't even let her kids hold her hand as she died."

We all went into mom's room and could tell immediately the nurse wasn't mistaken. One by one each of us went up to mom....someone touched her now cold cheek. Another one of us kissed her forehead. I think I uselessly pulled the blanket up to cover her shoulders. We silently said our goodbyes to our mom and left the room.

As I drove through town on my way home, I was shocked to see everyone going about, business as usual. I wanted to stop my car in the middle of the road and stand in the street and yell, "HEY! Someone has just died! A person has left the planet! Can't you feel it? Didn't you feel her spirit leave this earth? Stop for just a minute and think about that. Show her some respect!" I somehow managed to keep driving-Maybe somewhere in my grief I knew I'd end up in a padded cell if I followed my heart in this instance.

That evening, as my mom's body was finding it's way to the hospital morgue or the funeral home or wherever bodies are taken when they're empty, my brothers, sisters-in-law, husband and myself gathered to grieve. We had a wonderful, bittersweet evening. We shared stories about mom's life...memories she'd given us.... and things we were going to miss about her. We laughed until we cried. Some of her skeletons came out of her closet and danced in the light, no longer needing to stay hidden. She'd had a long, eventful, rich, hard life. At her memorial service my nephew said, "Granny was weathered."

Later in the week my one sister-in-law and I went to mom's apartment to sort through her stuff and move "mom" out. She'd been living in a senior citizen apartment building and there was a waiting list for any apartments that were empty. We weren't allowed time to grieve in peace. We sorted through everything she had. Her clothes, her dishes, her books and pictures. Houseplants, food, and make-up. Everything that makes life comfortable and everything that makes even a tiny apartment feel like home. As we worked, it struck me-mom had lived 71 years. She'd had a not-so-easy childhood. A not-so-easy marriage that had ended in divorce. She'd lost a son. She was dead. All this "stuff" was meaningless. Just a pile of belongings that either ended up in other peoples' homes or Goodwill. We just pile our treasures around us and then others are left to sort through it all when we go. What's the point? What is really truly the point of piling it all up here? We won't be Here long.

In the weeks that followed I found questions that needed answers. Where was mom now? Where exactly is heaven? Is it here, around us but invisible? Is it billions of miles away tucked into a corner of the Galaxy? What did it feel like for mom as her spirit left her body? What was she doing now? How long did it take to get from here to Jesus' feet?

Something else happened to me as well. Something that's really hard to explain. As the weeks unfolded my relationship with Jesus changed. It was like I was here but in His actual presence at the same time. I became aware of everything I said and everything I did and my motives for everything in a new way. I saw how un-like Jesus I truly am. My sin was so obvious to me. It sounds so strange but I spent entire days like I was just sitting at Jesus' feet. I talked to Him all day long like He was attached to me-my Siamese twin. I know I lived in repentance. Sin was so incredibly easy to see and so impossible to ignore. Every breath was a prayer. It was an awesome and amazing tiny taste of what it must be like to finally be done with this earth and live with Jesus. I could almost audibly hear His voice loving on me throughout the days. I felt weightless. I saw that all the things I stress about are just plain stupid. There IS a much bigger picture going on if only we could see it. For the first time in my life that verse that talks about us being strangers and aliens here, visitors if you will, hit home in a very real way. This is truly just a passing through place and there's somewhere so wonderful, so indescribable, so full of love and light and joy just waiting for anyone who loves Jesus.

This incredible experience lasted a long time. I'm not sure how long-I think it was a couple months. But then one morning I remembered I was a wife, and a mom. "Lord, I don't know how to do this anymore. It is sooooo hard to live in two places at once. I don't know how to be a wife and mom and live this closely in your presence. The boys and Mike need me to be "here" for them and I haven't been....."

All of a sudden I deflated like a balloon that's been pricked. I don't know how else to describe it. I could feel myself coming back to earth. I was still with Jesus, but it was different. Not clear and beautiful like it'd been.

I now have more questions. Why did I "deflate"? Can we live in 2 places at once like that? How can we live here on earth being parents, employees, aunts, uncles etc. and live "outside" the relationships and stresses around us? Are we meant to? Was that the way He wanted me to spend the rest of my life here or was that just a sweet gift to help me get the big picture? Did I choose to "deflate" or was that supposed to be what is was? A temporary experience.

Whatever it was, I'm so thankful for it......

A Wonderful Day

Thanksgiving was wonderful around here. Our 2 oldest sons have slept away most of our Thanksgivings and Christmases in the last few years. They would get up in time to eat, but exhaustion would send them back to sleep shortly after we prayed. (We pray after meals at this house.) However, for some reason they felt good and were even actually alert. :-) We enjoyed laughing and talking and eating together and then we ALL went hiking. I literally cannot remember the last time all 6 of us did anything together. We even rode in the same car! I can't remember the last time that happened either.
It started to get dark while we were out hiking, and because I'm an old woman now, my depth perception isn't what it used to be the closer to "dark" it gets. All 3 of our big guys were so sweet-they kept waiting for me and helping me over the rough spots. (Chivalry is not dead!)
I realize this is probably terribly boring to most of you, but I wanted to write about it anyway. Only God knows how many more holidays we'll have with all our boys together at the same time. Two of them are adults now. Moving, marriages, friends, etc. could all take away time from "this" family. If you still have little people around, soak up the time you have with them.

Thursday was a sweet gift to me. And you know what the whip cream on the pumpkin pie was? Later in the evening our oldest son actually watched a chick-flick with me!

November 20, 2007

A PS to The Strong Willed Boy-Part 3

I don't know if anyone's interested, or even cares, but I did want to explain something about the posts I did on our strong willed son.
I let him read the posts. It wasn't a "gripe behind your kid's back" kind of thing. After he read them we sat down and had a great conversation. I told him about 2 times in my life where I blew it (but good!) in my relationship with the Lord. I'm going to write about them sometime soon so I won't go into all that right now. But I wanted him to know he's not the only strong willed person in the family. He comes by it honestly. :-) We talked about my sin and the consequences and the heartache I've been through because I simply don't trust and obey. I argue with the Lord. I have temper tantrums. I try and negotiate. I told Alec that the Lord loves us and has our best in mind when He asks us to do something or disciplines us or even allows trials to come our way. I told him that it seems to me if he treats his parents like that, (arguing, temper tantrums, etc.) that he will treat the Lord like that as well.
He agreed to pray and ask the Lord to help him with trust, obedience, etc.
He's light years ahead of his stubborn, know-it-all mom.

November 18, 2007

Happy Holidays?

The other day I somehow stumbled onto an amazing, heartbreaking, bittersweet, hopeful, sad, wonderful blog. It was written by a couple in their 20's who just a few weeks ago lost a new baby. It made me think about life and death and pain and Thanksgiving. The holidays are "supposed" to be a time of joy. But sometimes they're not all their cracked up to be.
I've lived through:
  • losing my parents twice-once to the effects of divorce, once to death.
  • "losing" a family because of my parents' divorce
  • the loneliness of being a latch-key kid
  • losing a brother in a motorcycle/car accident
  • 2 babies wait for us in heaven
  • we've experienced financial troubles
  • plus just the normal stresses of marriage and raising kids

If I look over at that little "FEEDJIT" thingy, I see that there are people who stumble onto this blog that I'll never meet. I think about you just the same. I wonder who you are, and what your life is like. I wonder why you stopped by this particular blog. And this week I've been wondering if any of you are in pain. Or stressed. Or lonely.

My heart is going out to that young couple who lost their baby. They know Jesus loves them and have clung to Him for comfort during this time. Jesus is the one who kept me going through everything that's been hard in my life. I just wanted to offer you the same comfort and hope.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

You can have joy in the midst of sorrow or stress. Trust me. I've experienced it.

If you're not going through anything particularly difficult right now, you might want to read about the young couple I've mentioned. And pray for them. Here's how to find them:http://conorbootheandgirls.blogspot.com/

November 16, 2007

The Strong Willed Boy-Part 2

This is more a post on communication in marriage than it is about our strong willed boy-but it was, in a way, "through him" we learned the lesson that I'm going to write about.
It's sort-of an embarrassing story, but oh well. Here goes. (I'll try and keep it short for Mr. Shumway's sake.)
Throughout the course of raising and homeschooling 3, then a 4th boy, there were naturally good and bad days. Sibling rivalry, bad attitudes, wild amounts of energy, messes, and spiritual lessons all had to be dealt with. I tried to be patient and would pray for wisdom more than just daily. However, there were days when I would be drained of both. Especially on those days when our 3rd son (the strong willed one) was being pillish to the best of his ability. My husband would come home and I'd be running on fumes. "I've had it! That kid, (or those kids) drove me crazy today! Would you please do something with him/them?!"
Then Mike would be annoyed with Alec, or all 3 boys, and lecture them on being obedient or respectful, or whatever I'd complained about. Then I'd get annoyed with him because he was being grouchy or stern with the kids. I'd then jump to their defense which confused my husband because not ten minutes earlier I'd asked him for help. This circus went on for years!! I'd have a bad day, whine and complain, Mike would try and "rescue" me, then I'd get angry at him. It built up an unhealthy wall in our marriage, needless to say.
Finally LAST YEAR I read a great book: For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. It not only helped me understand Mike in general, it helped us get out of the revolving door we'd been stuck in.
One night last spring Mike and I were walking and we were finally "having it out" about this "issue" in our marriage.
I couldn't understand why he treated the boy/s like he did when I'd told him I'VE HAD IT and he couldn't understand why I was angry at him for dealing with the boy/s.
We were getting really annoyed with each other, but finally we both stopped talking, and got lost in our own thoughts. I started thinking about the book For Women Only. I put myself in his shoes and tried to think like a man. (Not an easy task, let me tell you.) But then it hit me-Mike was trying to be my hero! He was trying to get on his white horse and slay the dragon of pain-in-the-neck moments with our son/s. He heard my distress call and wanted to come to my aid.
When I shared my thoughts with him he basically said, "Yes, you dope. What took you so long to see THAT?" (Of course those weren't his exact words:-) )
So I said, "Mike, I look at parenting as a relay race. I run with the baton all day. By the time you get home, I'm tired of running. The boys need patience, love, humor, etc. and by dinner time I'm weary. When I tell you I've had it, I'm trying to pass the baton on to you. I just want you to take it for a couple hours so I can regenerate."
Talk about a "Duh" moment for both of us. So, even now, with only a 15 year old and a 6 year old "in the house", (our other 2 still live at home but we hardly ever get to see them) there are moments where "I've had it." But now I just say, "Mike, please take the baton for a while! I'm pooped."

November 11, 2007

Discipleship Award

My friend "Sniz" has given me another award! Thank you so much Sniz! Like you, I have no clue how to post the award on my blog-when you find out how to do it, let me know. :-)

Anyway-here's the award:

This award originated with Dan King over at Management by God, who states, "Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples. The role of a disciple of Christ is to carry His message to the ends of the earth. It is with this heart that I have created the Mathetes Award."Those who receive it are to pass it on to other disciples who are sharing the good news in their own bloggity ways.Here are the rules: Winners of this award to pass this on to five other "disciples". As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for(1)the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name the sites of those you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ.


I couldn't even copy and paste the acutal award to drag it over here from her blog: http://misssniz.blogspot.com/



I would like to pass the award on to these people:

Rachel @http://simplicitysoup.blogspot.com/

Jen @http://henzegirls.blogspot.com/

I guess I need my very own personal IT guy. Yep, that would be perfect. He could sit at my feet every time I touch the computer and help me out. My age is showing.
Anyway-thanks again misssniz!

Death Procession and Pygmy Eating Cannibals

We went hiking today after church. At one point on our hike we were on a narrow ridge, looking down a loooooooong way-a tiny creek wandered its way through the woods below. My husband was holding our 6 year old son's hand; as they looked down at the water my husband said, "Look Barrett, that water is WAY down there, isn't it?"
No response.
"Well Barrett, you don't have any depth perception yet, so I bet it's hard for you to tell how far below us that water is."
"Um, yeah. What's death procession, Daddy?"

Then, on the way home we were discussing food. We were all starving. It was only natural, since I live with a bunch of Carnivores, that meat would come up:

Barrett: "I want bacon. That's pig meat, right momma?"

"Yes, that's pig meat."

"I've never had meat from Moody Meats, have I momma? Oh, yes I have. They sell bacon don't they momma? We've had bacon before. Does Moody Meats sell pig meat?"

OK-please keep this in mind: I've been the mother of boys and only boys for a very long time. Being gross just comes with the territory. So, here was my reply:

"Yes, Barrett. They sell Pygmies. But I know they don't sell Cannibals."

"What are Pygmies?"

"Well, Pygmies are short people who live in the jungle. They run around eating bananas and coconuts and stuff like that."

"What's a Cannibal, momma?"

Here is where I debated. Do I ruin his sweet innocence and tell him the truth? That there are people out there who actually EAT other people? Would that give him nightmares? Would he throw up in disgust? Should I just make up some weird answer? Tell him to go to sleep? After a 30 second debate within, I settled on the truth.

"Well sweetie, a cannibal is someone who eats another person."

To my surprise Barrett started chuckling.
"That would be funny!"

"What would be funny? Why on earth are you laughing Barrett?"

"It would be funny to see a big person running around the jungle eating little people!"

November 8, 2007

A PS to my last post

I will never learn. That boy somehow manages to push me into letting him have his way. Maybe after you read this you'll know how to pray for me. Maybe THEN I'll learn.
Here's what happened:
Several weeks ago we let Alec spend a hefty amount of his own hard earned money on a lego set.
We gave him one condition. He could only open it on the first rainy, cold, yucky day we had. (Saving something good for a rainy day.) Well, it's been chilly, but we haven't had any rainy, cold, yucky days. I check the forecast every morning and it never changes.
In the meantime, we've had out-of-town company twice since he bought the lego set. That means school gets put on the back burner so we can clean the house before the company arrives, and spend time visiting once they're here. So, Alec has fallen behind in some subjects.
Last Monday I finally changed the deal. I told Alec that since the weather hasn't cooperated he could open his set when he was totally caught up with ALL his school work.
That boy has worked so hard all week, doubling and tripling up on school to get caught up. He's also worked hard at dropping hints about the weather, hints about his lego set collecting dust, hints about maybe being able to open it when he's 34, etc. etc. All that babbling gets to me after a while. I start to feel guilty about making deals about something that, even though Alec agreed to, he did buy the legos with his own money. I feel guilty about making him wait. Would I want to wait to open some new scrapbook stuff? It's like the constant drone of a bug. You want to squish the annoying thing into silence.
By now I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with this. I caved. About a half hour after I published my last post. He did get caught up with all but 1 subject. He's even managed to get ahead in 3 subjects. However, he's still behind in one subject. It's a subject he needs me to sit in on with him. I was tired of all the extra time getting caught up took us. I was tired of his babbling and hinting and pushing.
Now he's in the livingroom, victoriously playing with a new lego set.
So, what have I taught him now? Why was it so easy to be firm and consistent with his big brothers? Is he learning to only obey God marginally because of me?
Don't learn the hard way like I do-
Be consistent.

The Strong Willed Boy-Part 1

Our 3rd son is an amazing person. Sweet. Funny. Optimistic. But if you were to ask me about him, the first 3 words that come to mind when I think of him are:

Energy & Strong Willed.

He's been a challenge since conception. Literally. I should've known something was up when I was pregnant with him. I'm putting together a post about that pregnancy (It was that "Interesting".)
Shortly after he was born we discovered he was going to be one of those colicky babies who scream their little heads off for their first 6 months. Not only that... he decided right off the bat to make his presence known by spitting up. But it wasn't your normal little baby spit up. He projectile vomited across our living room, into the laps of people sitting behind us at church, across tables in restaurants, and all over the floor of any store we happened to be in.
Not too long after he passed that fun stage, he started walking. Only he hardly ever walked. He spent the next 5 years either standing on his head, somersaulting his way around our house, or spinning in dizzying circles for hours on end. His brothers, daddy, and I would look at him in confused helplessness and wonder what planet this little thing had come from.
We were, (and are) very thankful we homeschool Alec because I know that boy would've been labeled with every disorder known to mankind. They probably could've used him to make up some new disorders up as well. He was constantly on the move! He learned his multiplication tables by jumping on a mini-tramp as I held up flash cards for him and would somersault around the room listening, but needing to wiggle, as I read out loud to him.
The biggest challenge we've faced with Alec, however, has been his strong will. He used to have major temper tantrums-screaming, yelling, looking us right in the eye and saying, "No.", etc. I made a huge mistake when he was very little. I listened to my mother. As I would get ready to discipline Alec for not obeying me, my mom would say, "Oh, don't discipline him. He's just frustrated. Can't you see the poor little guy doesn't know how to express himself? He can't tell you what he's so upset about." And my brain would be off and running, second guessing myself and letting that little guy rule the roost. There was no consistency and I know he was confused about the rules. His 2 big brothers would shake their heads in amazement. "Mom never let US get away with stuff like that..."
As he grew I would spend literally whole afternoons in the bathroom with him, talking, praying, "etc." trying to get him to admit he was wrong. He'd been naughty. He needed to obey me. We would spend hours looking up bible verses about repentance and talking about what that means. I would even march around play-acting a brat coming face-to-face with God, repenting, and turning around, with a changed attitude. No matter what I did he would out-last me. He figured out quickly that at some point mommy would have to leave the bathroom to cook dinner or see what her other 2 sons were up to and he could leave, without admitting he'd disobeyed. I was truly afraid for him. I'd never seen anyone that stubborn in my life. (Except maybe the person in the mirror. Hmmm......) Mike and I spent a LOT of time praying for wisdom-we had no clue how to parent such a strong willed boy.
Finally, when Alec turned 12 or 13 I couldn't take it anymore. He didn't respect me and would flat-out refuse to obey me. He questioned everything I asked him to do and would try bargaining or changing the subject so he wouldn't have to obey. One afternoon his daddy came home to find me in tears. I'd had it. I was ready to either run away from home or break the 6th commandment. So, Mike took over. He said from that moment on, he would be the one to discipline Alec. I wouldn't do it at all. We sat down with Alec and explained the change. From that moment on I was to call Mike the instant Alec was disobedient or disrespectful. To make a long story short, within 2 weeks Alec was a changed man. I would call Mike at work, he'd get on the phone with Alec, and voila! A different boy would hang up the phone and obey. There were times when dad would have to "deal" with an issue once he got home from work, but the overall change in our family was incredible. There was peace. There was obedience. There was respect. I think Alec knew his parents loved him and he felt safe having his boundaries reinforced. I also think he really needed daddy to show him who the boss was/is. Alec still is hard-headed but we do see the Lord changing his heart. Alec is more teachable than he's ever been. He admits when he's wrong. He prays and asks the Lord to help him obey.

Lessons learned:
  • Be consistent
  • Do not listen to your mother. (Just kidding)
  • Give your kids boundaries and then be consistent.
  • Pray for your kids and the wisdom to parent them.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be patient and loving
  • Be consistent
  • Don't give up. The Lord is on your side and loves your kids more than you ever will. He is able to do way more in their hearts than you can imagine when you're in the middle of raising a strong-willed child.

I can't help but wonder about the whole thing of dad being totally in charge of discipline. The change in Alec, once we made that decision, was remarkable.....It not only helped Alec but it took a HUGE load off my shoulders......

There is a part 2 to this story. Another HUGE lesson we learned about parenting, communication in marriage, and surrender. I'll save that story for another day. Class dismissed. :-)

October 31, 2007

A to Z He He

A few weeks ago I asked my husband what I should write about. "Me" he answered. So, I decided to come up with a "He He" instead of a "Me Me". Mike is up there at the top of my list of "things" I'm thankful for and it wasn't too difficult to come up with 26 reasons why. "X" did pose a bit of a problem-but I managed to come up with something. So, without further ado, here's to Mikey!

A=Accepting. He has always loved me unconditionally and accepted me no matter what frame of mind (or body) I've been in.

B= Bible. Mike loves the bible and its Author. He continually points me to the truths found there whenever I'm struggling with anything.

C=Comforting. His hugs, snuggles, and words of encouragement comfort me continually.

D=Deserve. When we were engaged and newly married my mom kept saying, "Judy, you deserve better than "that". (Meaning Mike.) By the time she died, she'd reversed her judgement. "Mike deserves better than you. He could've done better...." I agree with her, to a point. Although, there are times when I think we deserve each other. (You can take that any way you'd like)

E=Easy to be with. No explanation necessary. (Well, there is allergy season. He is most definitely NOT easy to be with during allergy season. He's grumpy, defensive, tired, spacey....but that's only for a quarter of the year, which leaves 3/4 of a year where he is easy to be with.)

F=Funny. I love his sense of humor. He's pretty quiet, and sometimes I don't even think he's listening, but then he'll pop out with something unexpected, sarcastic and hilarious.

G=Gentle. My husband is one of the most gentle people I know. He treats me with respect and great care. He's taught our sons to treat girls the same way.

H=Handy. Mike can fix just about anything. As far as I can remember, we've never had to call a repair man to fix anything around here.

I=Incredible. I still find it incredible that Mike chose to marry me. I was such a mess as a young girl. He saw my potential and gave me a chance. I should put "Risk Taker" for the letter "R".

J=Journey. Our life together, marriage, raising 4 boys, the ups and downs of life-it's all been an amazing, God blessed journey.

K=Keeping On. I'm so thankful Mike does that. He keeps on keeping on-no matter what difficult thing we've gone through his trust in the Lord and love for me are consistent.

L=Loves the Lord. See "K"

M=Murder. I'm so thankful he hasn't murdered me yet. Even though I've given him plenty of chances: nagging, niggling, hen pecking, criticizing him, misunderstanding him, 4 pregnancies, etc. etc.

N=Nidification (to build a nest). Mike has been the perfect partner in building a safe nest for our sons. (Isn't "nidification" a cool word? I just found it in the dictionary yesterday. I think it's my new favorite word. Nidification. Nidification....It tickles my funny bone for some reason....)

Overtime=As a husband and father, my husband puts in plenty of hours. He is ALWAYS available to us, willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to meet a need any one of us has.

Patient=People talk about the patience of Job. Well, Mike has almost as much patience as that old saint did. He's put up with so much from me....

Q=Quiet. I'm sooooooooo thankful for that. I've met some men who just talk and talk and talk. Mike is restful. He doesn't need sound to constantly fill the airwaves......

R=Rock. While Jesus is my anchor and Rock, Mike is also my rock. I tend to be very fearful and emotional. I have a picture in my head of a rock the size of a bus, just sitting in the forest. Coming out from under the rock is a leash. Attached to the leash is me. A hiper-active poodle yipping and having nervous breakdowns over every noise in the woods. Mike keeps me from running pell mell into the neverworld.

S=Supportive. That is what he excels at.....

T=Tender hearted. My husband is tender hearted toward his family and the Lord.

U=Understanding. My goodness, is he understanding! He tries very hard to put himself in either my shoes or the shoes of one of our sons to see what life looks like from their perspective.

V=Voice. I love, love, love my husband's voice. Many's the time I've begged him to remember to read to me when I'm on my death bed. It would mean so much to me to go to my maker listening to his voice reading the Psalms.

W=Wise. (See "B")

X=eXtra sweet. eXtra nice. eXtra giving. eXtra helpful. (Get the point?)

Y=Yell. I can't recall one time Mike yelled at me. Or shouted at me. Or shrieked, screamed, or squawked. He hasn't even barked, bellowed, hooted, hollered, or roared in my direction. What a guy!

Z=Zillion. I could come up with a zillion more things to say about him....

October 30, 2007

My Brain is Going to Pop

Here are some thoughts and discussions that have been floating around our house in the last 2 weeks. If you're sick and tired of changing diapers and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, come on over. I'll gladly change places with you for a day!
  • What is a Carnal Christian and can there be such a thing?
  • Quantum physics
  • Calvinism vs. Armenian ism
  • Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement
  • "Churchy" Christian vs. Real, honest Christian
  • Existentialism
  • Glorifying God
  • Prayer
  • Can you be saved if you just "Say the right words"? What about the verses that talk about "My sheep know My voice...." and "You shall know them by their fruit..."
  • The Metaphysics of Jesus

As if all that weren't enough, we're still discussing the "debate" our son had with the "Free Thinkers" last week. The non-believers in the room raised some good questions and also showed some inconsistencies in saying they were atheists. Things like: God doesn't exist, but He is: and then filled in the blank with a cuss word.

I'm still overwhelmed with projects and am worried about a couple things my kids are going through as well. So, if anyone knows how to stop a brainal ( a great word I just made up) explosion, PLEASE let me know! I could use a good laugh.

October 26, 2007

Plagiarism

I've been trying to figure out how to summarize the events of Wednesday night when our son spoke at the "Free Thinkers" meeting. (See the post from October 25th.) My son just sent an email to our church which I'm going to copy and paste here. He explains it very well!

Well, I received my second-worst beating in two years on Wednesday night. Three graduate students (two philosophy, one physics) tag-teamed and not only managed to rebut three of my five arguments, but they raised an objection that I had no answer for (never even heard of it in fact). I must say that two of them were quite nice about it though, and five of us - including the President - went out to dinner afterwards.The hatred for Christ and His gospel was so apparent on so many of the other faces and in so many of their comments and questions that it nearly broke my heart. Even some of the ones who contributed nothing to the debate chose to voice their anger and contempt, partly for me but mainly for my Lord. Of all the groups on earth, the angry intellectuals who mock and scorn Christ and our faith are the ones I love the most, please continue to pray for them.The sting of being inadequate never loses its bitterness, but after three years I've learned how to deal with it. Fall back, repent (for any pride that becomes apparent with wanting to be "right" and "smart" all the time), pray, regroup, rebuild, return, return, return. Undergraduates don't pose much of a problem, but my failure rate is still around 80% at the graduate/PhD level, so I've had lots of practice at this process :)Those emotions which always follow a debate (win or lose) over Christianity are also being felt:
1. Relief at watching my faith stand strong, even when my delivery of some of the strongest arguments for believing is demolished. (PLEASE NOTE: The *most* important thing that I have learned is that the Truth is always True, and that with more prayer, thought and study it will return to triumph. There is no such thing as a failure for the truth, only a setback due to the ignorance of the messenger (ie myself). I have seen it happen dozens of times, and my confidence in the ability of our Faith to hold its own on any ground is firm.)
2. Relief that the salvation of those around me does not rest on my ability to defend the gospel, but upon the Sovereignty of God. Apologetics has purchased the right for me to tell the gospel to hundreds on campus, and it is useful for clearing away objections to the faith and for strengthening believers - but God is quite capable of saving people without my help, thank you very much.
3. Looking forward with excitement to see how the Truth will prove to be true as I continue to study. After watching it happen so many times I no longer suffer the anxiety of my first year, wondering if Christianity can hold its own on intellectual grounds.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support, they were priceless. I should have been asking all along.
Cookie: Thanks for the note, it expressed something I have long felt but have been unable to put into words.
John Burkhardt: Thanks for coming. Since Bailey transferred I usually stand or fall all alone, so it was a comfort to have you there, standing with me.
Blessings,Ben

October 25, 2007

The Front Lines

Well, I'm back. At least for today. My mind and heart are so full I don't know how to begin.
It's been quite a week around here. I feel like a tea kettle on full boil with no one to turn my brain off.
I'll start with last night. My husband, our 15 year old son, and myself all went to a meeting at IUPUI. It was a meeting for a club called "The Free Thinkers". Most were atheists. Our 21 year old son was there to discuss Christianity with them. He gave a half hour talk and then opened it up to questions for the next hour.
I cried on the way home. It was a fascinating evening. Intense. Heartbreaking. So very many lost, hurting people. (At least in my opinion they were.) I cried because:

  • My sons are on the front line of a battle every single day and I have not prayed for them as much as I should. I had NO idea the battle was as intense as it is. There are people out there searching for answers but refusing to believe the truth when they hear it.
  • I live a very sheltered life. Comfortable, cozy. And there are hurting, confused, lost people out there, while I wonder whether the bittersweet on my kitchen window is crooked.


  • I am so frustrated-the bottom line is that it's a spiritual battle and most of us, Christians or not, have blinders on to that fact.


  • I'm so incredibly impressed with our sons. I cannot say proud because I honestly don't feel that what we did in raising them prepared them for the things they're doing now.


  • I felt/feel soooooooo blessed and humbled. When my husband and I met, we were both interested in missions. However, the Lord had other plans. He gave us 4 sons and told us to homeschool them. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that those 4 boys were/are our mission field. It reminds me of a garden. You plant one bean seed and out of the ground comes a plant that gives you a whole basket of bean pods. Our oldest son was able to sit in a room with about 23 atheists last night and tell them that Jesus died for them. That Jesus did it because of love.


  • Our second son, just 19 years old, is on the front line of a battle every bit as intense, and I haven't prayed for him like I should either. He works with 5 and 6 year old little boys at a mission downtown, but is also involved with other kids down there-boys and girls of all ages. In the last few weeks he's come home from work with the following stories:


  • a boy whose daddy sexually molested him


  • 2 little girls taken away from home because their momma was either prostituting them, or getting ready to.


  • a little boy whose parent was using him for a punching bag


  • Tuesday night our son was driving the mission van, taking a bunch of kids home from kids' club when they saw a man lying on the ground being supported by 2 friends. The man had 4 bullet holes in his chest. The police hadn't even arrived yet.


  • I cried because I have absolutely no clue how to help our sons when they come home weary and drained. I can't hold them on my lap and kiss away their pain or fatigue. They're grown men for crying out loud. They don't need a mommy. But they do need something. Cookies and milk? I feel so foolish sometimes when I talk to them at the end of a long day. Foolish because my thoughts and ideas and words of comfort sound so lame.


  • I cried because my heart is overflowing with thankfulness. Our sons know what to do and who to go to. They know that Jesus is the only one who can truly comfort their weary, drained hearts and minds-He can do a WAY better job than mommy ever could.


If you love Jesus, and are raising children, please prepare them for the battle ahead. They need to know the One who loves them, who died for them, and who longs to be there along side them every minute they're on the planet. Our oldest son is a senior in college this year-in the last 3 1/2 years he's seen countless peers who started college believing they knew and loved Jesus give up their faith and walk away. Pray, pray, pray for your kids. Pray the scriptures for them. Some good verses to pray are:

Eph. 1:16-21

Col.1:9-12

Jer. 17:5-8

Col.2:6-8

Phil.1:9-11

There are some very good materials available to teach your kids about world views and how to defend or share their faith with others. You can find them at: http://www.summit.org/



September 25, 2007

Just A Spoon

A book held in her hands as she read "Just one more story?" before tucking me in.
A sharp slap across my mouth because I'd said, "Shut up!"
Endless loaves of bread and dozens of cookies baked from scratch because she loved her children.
The smell of cigarettes.
A dictionary on her lap as she checked the spelling on a word for Scrabble.
Her hands gently holding my head over the toilet as I threw up.
A crochet hook flying through the air making warm afghans for her grandchildren.
Teaching my nephews how to catch crawdads in the crick.
A cool hand on my fevered forehead.
Veins that bulged as she stirred a huge pot of her famous spaghetti sauce with a large wooden spoon.
Arms and hands flailing through the air as she told a funny story.
Watching her carefully style her hair to cover one ear because she only had one earring on. (She'd lost the other one but because she loved the earrings, she'd style her hair to hide the earring-less ear so no one would know.)
Teaching her grand kids how to fly a kite.
Houseplants that were lovingly watered and pruned and grew to enormous proportions.
Interesting rocks and twisted sticks collected and arranged on a table in her apartment.
Drooling as she mounded hot chocolate pudding over a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream.
Weeping inside as I watched her hands curl up and harden with arthritis-no longer able to cook or crochet or re-pot a beloved plant.
All these things I see..... because of a spoon.
My brother sent me a gift yesterday that is yanking on my heart. He had a ring made for me from one of her spoons and it arrived yesterday. I recognized the pattern on the ring the instant I opened the box. "It's one of mom's spoons!"
As the minutes tick by, so do the memories.
Dug up from where I'd neatly tucked them deep in my heart. Dug up by a spoon.

September 19, 2007

The 4 Snafus

Over the past 15 years we've had some wonderful camping trips at Muskegon State Park in Michigan. It's a beautiful campground! The campsites are surrounded by trees and are within walking distance of Lake Michigan. Also within walking distance is Muskegon Lake and a large canal that connects the 2 lakes. If you don't feel like sitting around your campsite devouring S'mores, you can fly kites on the beach at Lake Michigan. If you get tired of that you can stroll over to the canal and toss your leftover hot dog buns to the multitudes of swans, ducks, and sea gulls that swim in the canal. Another thing that's fun to do is watch all the boats coming and going along the canal. (The best part of the campground, however, is the fact that it comes complete with actual sinks, toilets, mirrors, and showers!)
Now that I've sold you on the idea of camping at MSP, I'll tell you about our most unforgettable camping trip ever.
After our oldest son had graduated and completed one year of college, we missed him. He'd had a crazy, busy year and hadn't been around much. Our next oldest was busy as well-he was still being homeschooled, but he also had a job and friends etc. It seemed like that entire year had gone by and we'd lost the connection we'd had as a family. We wanted to do something to unite us all again. A camping trip! That was the ticket. I'd prefer a 4 star hotel, but with 4 boys I knew I shouldn't even suggest that. Instead I created a picture in my head of the 6 of us piling into our van, driving and laughing our way to Lake Michigan, connecting with each other, you know?
Early that spring we made reservations at the campground and sent our deposit in. We eagerly planned meals, bought kites and marshmallows and gathered firewood. The first snafu was when our two oldest announced that they would have to work the day we were planning on leaving. That blew the whole idea of riding up there together. They would work and then drive up together that evening. Oh well. There were still 2 boys we could ride with and laugh with and connect with. Plus, we had the whole weekend to spend with all of them.
The morning of the Big Trip came. As we opened our bedroom curtains we noticed that it was drizzly. A quick check of the weather showed us it would be clear and cool in Michigan. Good deal. We loaded the van and started on our way. After a bit the drizzle turned to rain. Not just rain, but pouring rain. No problem. It was clear in Michigan! The closer we got we noticed another snafu. The temperature started dropping.
We arrived at the campground right around dusk. We were hungry and sick of driving and....it was still raining. As we pulled up to our campsite my husband and I looked at each other. What should we do? Set up the tent or wait for the rain to stop? Even as we spoke the rain turned to drizzle, then mere drips. So, we piled out of the van and began setting up camp. Just as we were putting our sleeping bags in the tent it started drizzling again, then pouring rain. Then the temperature dropped a little more. Now we were not only wet, but we were getting chilly. We told the 2 boys to just sit tight in the tent and we'd try and start a fire and get dinner going. After about 10 minutes we gave up on the fire. The wood was sopping. We did manage to get our stove going and heated up some wet slop for the kids. Then, "Hey dad. The tent is leaking right above your sleeping bag."
"It's dripping on my head momma."
"I'm hungry. Can we come out there and eat?"
To make a LONG story shorter, (but not short), we all ate.
After "dinner" we decided that since it was still raining outside and inside the tent maybe we should at least put our sleeping bags and clothes in the van until the rain stopped. All 4 of us, wet and muddy, grabbed stuff and just threw it all pell mell into the back of the van. As my husband closed the doors the rained slowed to a drizzle, then mere drips. We shrugged and looked at the sky. No stars, but with "clear and cool in Michigan" reverberating in our ears we decided to unload the van and organize the tent. Just as we put the finishing touches on our wilderness home it started drizzling again, then pouring. By now we were getting snappy with each other, alternated by bouts of hysterical laughter.
You won't believe we did this, but we did. We quickly pulled everything back out of the tent, this time throwing the kids in the van along with everything else.
"Just sit there until it stops raining!"
We called our older two boys and learned that they were well on their way. They were exhausted from work, and sounded a little testy on the phone, but at least they were coming!

After about 15 minutes the rain slowed to a drizzle, then mere drips. Giving up on the idea of sleeping in the van, sitting up, we set up our stuff in the tent. Again. By now we were good and wet and freezing. The temperature had dropped even lower. We finally got the fire going and after letting the boys warm up a bit, we sent them to bed. Another call to our older 2 revealed snafu #3. They were lost. They had:

  • A map of America
  • A map of Indiana
  • A Michigan State Map
  • A map of the state park
  • A GPS
  • A map they'd printed off the Internet with detailed directions on how to get To Our Campsite and they were lost.

They finally found us after 13 phone calls, and we all went to bed. ( It was about 1:00am when they arrived at the campground.) Then the temperature dropped. By morning I think the temperature had dropped to the 40's. We were damp and freezing all night. Mike and I could hardly talk because our jaws had been so clenched and shivery all night. It never really warmed up that day and Benjamin, our oldest, created snafu #4. He sprained his ankle but good and had to sit at a picnic table by our campsite all weekend. That meant that any bonding we wanted to do with him could not be done by flying kites on the beach nor feeding the swans, nor by watching the boats.

We froze that day and that night. We had on winter hats for crying out loud and this was June!

Just as we finished loading the van to come home the sun finally warmed the place up enough that we were able to take off a couple layers. We pointed our chins to the sky, let the sun warm our cheeks and left.

We haven't had the heart to camp since.

September 14, 2007

The Good News and the Bad News For Parents with Boys

I was recently reading an article entitled: Suggestions For Preventing and Helping Prodigals at
http://whmoms.wordpress.com/. I only skimmed the article, but one thing did catch my eye. I'll just copy and paste the paragraph here for you:

4. Be patient and bear with them and tell them you understand. My children have made some foolish mistakes over the years (car accident in the snow from going too fast and overestimating their abilities, losing driver’s liscenses and wallets, staying out too late or other similar issues) Understand that boys go through a testosterone wash and physicians have actually said that their brains are a bit retarded (slowed down) from 15 to 26 when the frontal lobe finally closes–they don’t have the ability to judge distances, speed or have perspective in some areas like their female counterparts do. Each child will be different, but all of my children have had ups and downs and emotions that were irrational. Sometimes, just patience and love and a cup of hot chocolate have helped to soothe them (A gentle answer turns away wrath!) I just have had to remember my own hormonal times if irrationality to be more patient.

Boy! (Pun intended) Does that explain a LOT. That is the good news. The bad news? I'll be 66 by the time all those "testosterone washing" hormones settle down. By then who knows what condition Mike's brain will be in. Ah life.


(By the way, when I told Benjamin he was temporarily retarded he said, "Wow Mom. Just think...if my brain works this fast now, just think how smart I'll be when I turn 26!)

September 12, 2007

Strange, Sad, Weird, Funny or Wonderful

I love lists. Last night as Alec and I took turns trying to knock over his Lego guys with rubber bands, I started thinking about some of the strange, sad, or wonderful things that have happened in my/our lives over the years. So far, here's the run down of things remembered:


  • One evening when Alec was about 8 we were sitting in our living room and he said, "I wish I could see a bat. I've never seen a bat. I'd love to see a bat!" Not 5 minutes later a bat swooped down out of the chimney and started circling the room.
  • On one visit to the Dr. I happened to peek at my medical chart when the Dr. left the room. At the bottom of the chart were the words: Judy may need psychiatric care.
  • Walking past our oldest son's room one morning I noticed his mattress was flipped upside down. His sheets and mattress pad were between the mattress and the box spring. I called him and asked him what on earth had happened to his bed. His reply: "I have no idea. I just woke up this morning and it was like that."
  • I was asked out by 3 guys in 1 day in high school.
  • I ran over my husband's dog and killed it.
  • Twice, after much prayer, when there wasn't enough money to pay our bills and buy groceries we were anonymously given bags of groceries and some cash. The money equaled exactly, to the penny, what we needed to pay the bills.
  • I had straight hair my entire life. For the last 6 years it's been getting more and more curly.
  • One of our sons was born in a kiddie pool in the middle of our living room.
  • I found an actual arrowhead in a creek.
  • For 8 years we rented a house, a large pond, and 20 some acres. We were allowed to cut down the dead trees for firewood. One afternoon we were out cutting wood and the caretaker wandered by. He saw what we were doing and said, "You really shouldn't be doing that. The people who built this place are dead, but their spirits might wander by and they wouldn't like to see those trees coming down."
  • Our oldest son has 1 key for his truck. One. Uno. This is a kid who loses stuff like there was no tomorrow. He's never had a copy made because it would cost too much and be too much of a hassle. (The key has one of those electronic thingies in it. I'm not sure what it does.) Anyway-one morning last year he couldn't find The Key. It didn't take long before the whole family was pulling the house apart trying to find it. After about a half hour of searching Benjamin suddenly, casually, grabbed a hanger. He straightened it out and scooped it under the dishwasher and pulled out his key. Then he sauntered out the door, acting like he'd known where the key was the whole time and had been testing the rest of the family to see how good we were at finding things.
  • I worked in a nursing home when I was 19. One morning when I arrived at work I was told to go to "Leda's" room. As I walked in her door I saw that she was dying. I held her hand and talked to her until she passed away. I was then told to wash her body before "they" came and took it to the hospital. That was my first up-close experience with death and really made me see that earth is just a passing through place.

20. I got kicked out of youth group in high school.

September 6, 2007

Traditions

As the holidays quickly approach, I've been thinking about traditions. What are some of your family's favorites? What were some of your favorite traditions as a child? I'd love to hear from you, even if you've never left a comment before. I think our family has a tradition of no traditions. The only one I can think of is an "end of the school year party" held each spring when we've finished school for the year. Sometimes we'll have a "back to school party" in the fall, but not as faithfully as the "end" party. That makes sense though. What kid wants to party when he has to hit the books after a long, relaxing summer?!

August 23, 2007

Yes, I can post a short blog. Or is it blog a short post?

The other night, (When the boys and I were discussing "glorifying and enjoying the Lord" I told Benjamin and James I was so proud of them. When I look at them I think of that bible verse that talks about the Lord "taking the foolish things of this world to confound the wise." I told them it is a miracle to me to think about my life and who I am and then see the way our 4 sons are turning out!

Benjamin said, "Mom, actually God knows boys are easier to raise than girls. He just looked at you and dad and said, 'Here. I'll give you 4 sons. All you have to do is feed them and they'll grow."

August 22, 2007

Role Reversal

Ever since James told me he was moving out, I've had a lump in my throat. Finally, the other night I couldn't swallow it one more time and I erupted. James wasn't home for the initial crying jag and I was hoping it would be over before he did come home. I do not want to make him feel guilty for living his life!
However, he did come home before my red nose and swollen eyes could get back to normal and he asked me if I'd been crying. I nodded. "Because of me?"
"Yes."
Mike had gone to bed because he didn't feel well. Benjamin was up and overheard James and I talking. So, then both boys tried to reassure me that James' life is in God's hands and when he dies it will be because it was God's timing.
"Guys, I am not crying because I'm afraid of James dying."
I went on to tell them all my thoughts.
I'm wondering who is going to take care of James when he gets home from work and discovers he's too tired to cook and there's nothing in the house to make.
Who's going to give him 7-Up and applesauce when he has the flu and every time he moves he throws up?
Who's going to finish folding his laundry because he's been too busy and tired to do it himself?
When people start decorating for the holidays he's going to go home to a dark, empty apartment with no little brothers to pester him and no homemade cookies or Christmas music playing.
I was thinking about him being lonely and missing out on playing chess, and bantering with his brothers like he used to here at home.
I did admit I have some fears about his life, but that's not my primary concern.
"Boy mom, you're making me feel real good about moving." he grinned.
We went on to talk about my selfish thoughts. With my babies moving on I'm starting to feel like a cow whose milking days are about over. Time to put the old girl out to pasture, don'tcha think?
It's hard to know who or what I am if I'm not a mom. In my mind that's why God made me. It's my purpose and if my kids don't need me, my life is just about over.
That's when the conversation got interesting. I'll start with James.
He emphatically said that he needs me. That he'll always need me. That I'm his mom and he loves me. That he is not moving out to reject me. He and Benjamin both said that. They both also said that when kids move out it's like the family is branching out, not dying. They told me I should look at it like our family is a spider plant, and now the shoots are starting to "shoot out".
I know all that but it still hurts. The pin hole thing, you know?
Then Benjamin started talking. He said that he's just been realizing in the last 3 weeks that our purpose is not functional. God made us to glorify Him and enjoy Him. The 3 of us sat and discussed that for awhile. We've all 3 viewed "glorifying God" as either becoming more like God, or living our lives so others see Him and want Him in their lives, or serving others to show God we love Him and want to glorify Him. But Benj. said that lately he's been realizing that if he were in solitary confinement with no bible, he could still fulfill his purpose in life. He could sit in that little cell and glorify God. My relationship with Him should be like that. Just me and God, face to face. Me adoring Him and loving Him and praising Him. That that is why God made each of us. To glorify Him and enjoy Him. No strings attached.
After we chewed on that for a time I asked them if they thought that meant I'd made our little family an idol in my life. Silence. Then they both said they thought if I'd done that there would be anger involved in James' leaving. I'm not angry, just sad.
Those 2 thoughts are huge, and I think they're going to be life changing if I can ever "get it".
Do I have idols in my life? If I base my importance on how I perform as a wife and mother and homeschool teacher and call that glorifying the Lord, that means I've put ME on the pedestal, or the boys, or Mike. My motive isn't honestly to glorify Him at all. Does that make sense?
So, how do I Stop and glorify the Lord? Do I enjoy Him?
Some of this seems like just basic stuff, but I'm thinking that to "glorify and enjoy the Lord" has many levels to it. I want to see the deeper and deeper parts of what those two words mean. How totally selfish of me to think that what I "do" glorifies the Lord. If I wanted to be glorified, I'd want someone to just look me deep in the eyes and say, "I love you. You are the best and most important person in my life. I want to be with you every minute....." I'd much rather have that than someone running around cleaning the house for me, or cooking dinner for me, or working on lesson plans for school. I'd want their undivided attention.
Anyway-I see a lot of thinking, praying, and bible study in my future.
For the last week I've been wishing at least one of my parents were around to help me through this time. Well, it wasn't an older, wiser person who comforted and advised me at all. It was my kids.

August 20, 2007

James, James, James

He is sweet and tender. Strong and independent. Compassionate. He has a dry sense of humor. Very funny. Giving. Willing to give up his time or energy even when he's tired. Sensitive to the needs and moods of those around him. Stubborn.
As a little guy he was accident prone.

As an infant he:

  • got his foot stuck in the ring of a crib toy that hung in his crib
  • got the HANDLE of his pacifier stuck in a vertical position in his mouth
  • received 2 black eyes from his big brother in about 3 days
  • was pinned to his diaper on both sides during the same diaper change
  • got his head stuck under his crib
  • had his fingers slammed in the car door
  • crawled under a double bed and got stuck in the far back corner of the room
When he was older he was the first boy in our family to get stitches. And the first to have a concussion.
Even as a baby James was independent. He wouldn't nurse to sleep. He'd nurse, then squirm and fuss, or even cry until I put him in his crib. He'd then sigh like he was happily melting into his mattress and go to sleep.
He hardly ever wanted to cuddle. Even before he could walk or talk he preferred a pile of toys in the corner to being held, kissed, or cuddled.
It seems like he's always been in a hurry to grow up. The minute he started walking he gave it up and starting running. On his tippy toes. With a tiny toy gripped tightly in each sweaty little hand.
When he was about 4 his grandma bought a tricycle for him. We lived in an apartment at the time and everyone but yours truly worked. That meant the boys had the entire parking lot to themselves all day. Roller skating, bike riding, playing chase.......one day I put a jump rope down in a line to show James where his tricycle riding boundary was. He sweetly rode his bike within that area until I had to run inside for the phone. As I came back out, there was James, skooching the jump rope over with his little foot. He knew better than to cross the line, but he sure didn't have a problem with moving it.
One afternoon when he was 3 we went for a walk in a nearby cemetery. There was a 12" cross on one of the graves. James quietly studied the cross for a bit, then said, in his sweet, little
Elmer Fudd voice, "Daddy, look at dat cwoss. Jesus wasn't vewy big, was He?"
When James was a boy we lived next to a 3 acre pond. James would spend hours and hours and hours out there in the row boat, alone, looking for turtles, fish, bugs, birds and anything else that moved. He was thrilled to be alone, in the quiet, dreaming and thinking James' things.
During those first few months of being James' mother, when I finally figured out, "Hey, this baby is extremely independent..", my heart developed a tiny, quiet ache. I knew right off the bat this boy would be the one to leave the nest first. I managed to ignore the little ache, or at least bury it beneath the hustle of raising 4 boys and homeschooling. We focused on building a close relationship with the boys, and finding the balance between being their parents and being their friends. We did indeed manage to find that balance, by the Grace of God, and we are good friends with each son.
I had a little poem tucked deeply in my heart, right next to the ache:
Love them.
Listen to them.
Give them deep roots.
Give them wings.
During the moments when I wanted to clobber any of them, or run away from home, that poem would come to the surface. I'd sigh, pray, and try to listen to the wisdom of it. Of course there were many times I blew it, but all in all, I think it turned out OK.
James found an apartment about 10 minutes from where he works and will be moving in the next week or so. The final line of that poem has taken a prominent place in my thoughts this week.
Give them wings. Give them wings. Give them wings........
I'm so proud of James and so excited to see him loving Jesus and wanting to serve and follow and obey Him. It's wonderful to see his strengths being used to show Jesus' love to the hurting little boys he works with at Wheeler.
At this point motherhood feels like a pin cushion. I'm not sure how to explain it....I think when he came home last week and told me he was moving out it felt like I'd been stabbed by a pin. But seeing who he is, and what he's doing, and watching God work and move and breath in that boy's life takes the sting away. Now I just have a hole where the pin was.
Give them wings...Give them wings....
Lord, give me strength.....

August 6, 2007

For Me and Anyone Else Who's Weary in the Trenches

When I was 19 I went to a missions meeting in Denver. There I heard about something wonderful called Homeschooling. I knew instantly that that was the mission field God was calling me to. It wasn't deepest, darkest Africa, like I'd been fearing! It was my children God wanted to send me to.

So, a year later, as Mike and I found our relationship deepening and the word "marriage" began to enter our conversations, I talked to Mike. "Mike, God told me to homeschool my kids, and it's something I want to do too. Is that OK with you? Because if you have a problem with it we need to end our relationship right now." (I'm SO thankful he didn't have a problem with it! :-) )

Tomorrow I will start my 17th year of homeschooling. If you add up the individual years I've taught each child it adds up to 37 years!!

I'm more tired, weary, and unmotivated this year than I think I've ever been. I had a fun, relaxing, busy summer and I don't want my free time to end. It's not that I want to quit homeschooling. I just want to postpone starting indefinitely.

This morning I sat down with my bible and some notes taken from homeschool convention workshops I've gone to to refresh my memory on why I do this. Hopefully this will help me face tomorrow!

#1. God told me to do it.

#2. Our children are never dying souls entrusted to our care. (Quote from Chris Klicka) that quote sings to my heart.......

#3. 1Cor. 15:58 says: Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

I have the advantage of being half-way done. I can look at our 2 oldest and see the truth of that verse.....

#4. Ps 127:3-4 Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of one's youth.

This verse presupposes there is a spiritual battle and in my mind goes right along with

2Cor. 3:2-3...you are our letter written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are a letter of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is on the heart.

My goals for homeschooling have never been primarily academic. That was always secondary to the goals of raising boys who:

*love Jesus most of all

*reflect Jesus' love to those around them

*are bold and courageous in their faith and won't give in to peer pressure

*are wise. I want them to know we have an enemy who wants to share an eternity of hell with them. I want them to not only recognize his lies but know the truth and how to share that truth with others.

*be men like God with "staying power". Not giving in to their feelings but strong in conviction. Men like their dad who love their wives and children and are willing to lay down their lives for their families..

#5. I feel very close to our 2 oldest sons. That came through spending TONS of time with them, not through scrapbooking, making yo yo quilts, or beaded Christmas tree toppers.



These are the verses that really jumped out at me this morning:

Ps. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

3rd John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

2 Cor. 3:4-5 ...And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God...

2 Cor. 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness....

2 Cor. 10:5...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ......

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

2 Thess. 3:5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ.

Matt. 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.


My prayer for the boys is Ps. 119:97-101:

Oh how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word.

These are too long to write out but they also spoke to my heart this morning:

Eph. 4:11-16 (Another prayer for my sons)

Ps. 78:1-11

I also think of Sam and Frodo during times like this-I picture everything they went through to destroy "the" ring. I especially picture their faces and the pain and the weariness and everything they gave up for their friends. Then I remember 2 Timothy 4:6-7:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The battle I'm in is not as hard or terrifying as the battle Frodo and Sam faced. Nor as hard as the things Paul went through for the sake of the gospel...but this is my battle and I do want to fight the good fight. I want to finish the race, not sit down wearily and wait for the finish line to come to me.
Lord, give me your joy! Help me to praise You and have a thankful heart for the boys, the race, and the freedom to spend all day every day with my kids!

August 1, 2007

Showdown at Sundown

When I was 3 my brother Jimmy, my parents, and I went on a vacation. At some point we made a stop at a chicken farm. (Please don't ask me why!) Anyway, because of my small stature I couldn't see where we were when my dad stopped the van. (Yes, there were vans back in the dark ages.) When my dad opened the van door I froze, petrified.
"Daddy? Are those dangerous chickens?!"
While those chickens proved to be docile and kind, I later in life met some that were not.

From the dictionary: Bantam. Any of numerous small domestic fowl that are often miniatures of members of the standard breeds.

And from a website regarding Bantam Chickens as pets:
Chickens make rewarding pets - I've never felt so much like Snow White as when sitting on a stool with a chicken on each knee, each shoulder and one resting comfortably on top of my head. The chickens on my shoulders rubbed their heads around on my neck, tasted my glasses gently and played with my earlobes. The chickens on my knees wiggled as I petted them and played with my ring. The chicken on top of my head just made me a little nervous. I could sit in the sun and watch those hand raised chickens scratch, bath and eat for hours.

When our 2 oldest sons were quite young they were given a tiny incubator as a gift. We did hatch 2 quail successfully and released them into the wild when they were old enough to fend for themselves.
Years later, when our oldest son was 13 or so, he decided he wanted to hatch another quail egg. After a long search, we found a farmer who had quail for sale. So, we all piled into the van and drove over to this guy's house to see if he would be willing to sell 1 (Please note I said 1. ONE) egg to the kids so they could use their incubator again. The man was incredibly nice, and very persuasive. After a brief tour of his farm he somehow managed to convince us of the fact that if watching 1 quail egg hatch was exciting, imagine how breathtaking watching 27 Bantam chicken eggs would be!
"Well, we don't have room for 27 eggs in our little incubator."
"Oh! That don't matter. Look! I have a large, portable incubator you can use! Just take it home and when you're done using it, bring it back. And really, you don't have to worry. I don't think all 27 eggs will hatch. I reckon only about 9 will actually be fertilized."
Deciding it would be futile to argue any further with this kind man, we caved and took the eggs and incubator home.
I imagine by now you can guess what happened, and you're right. All 27 eggs decided to hatch.
It wasn't long before we had 27 tiny chicks peeping at all hours of the day and night, begging for food. And the box they resided in was in our son's bedroom! After about 2 days of that racket Mike and the boys went out and built a makeshift chicken coop behind the garage. I had visions of one of us heading out to gather eggs and then all of us sitting down to a delicious scrambled egg breakfast every morning. There were 2 problems with this scenario. One, do you have any idea how tiny Bantam Chicken eggs are? It would take about 5 per person to equal 2 regular chicken eggs. The other problem was, it seems that most of our chickens were roosters.
Not only that, but they were mean, ferocious, and dangerous roosters! They were so mean that after a couple months they'd managed to kill about half their brothers and sisters in bloody chicken wars. Talk about sibling rivalry!
Winter came and went and by the following spring we were down to about 15 chickens total. All of them roosters and all of them mean. Every time the boys went out to play they were chased and attacked by those nasty little chickens.
It wasn't just their beaks the boys had to look out for. It was the spurs on the chicken legs that proved to be the most painful. Every time the boys were outside to either play or feed the chickens they'd come in with tears in their eyes and bloody scratches on their legs.
I finally gave the boys my permission to kill the chickens. I just didn't want to know how they did it. Every once in awhile I'd hear a whoop from outside and I knew the boys were one step closer to being free of fear and pain.
However, there was one afternoon James came in and his legs were a mess. Blood trickling down his calves and tears streaming down his cheeks. I was furious! I'd had enough of those chickens!
I marched down the hall, grabbed a 22 and a bunch of bullets and went outside. In my fury I managed to shoot and kill all but one sneaky little rooster. The meanest one. He was mean, but he wasn't brave, and he hid high in a tree. I wasn't about to go shooting a gun into the trees, so we left him up there. That evening when Mike got home the boys told him about the last remaining bad guy nobody could get.
That was all Mike needed to hear. He put his chaps on, pulled a bandanna down over his mouth, tipped his Stetson down low over his eyes and sauntered out to the barn. I mean garage. There in the corner was his weapon of choice. An antique weed whacker that looked more like a dilapidated machete than anything else. We all waited for an eternity, and finally the chicken came down out of the tree. After all, it was getting dark and it was time to be fed. We all watched breathlessly as Mike casually walked over to the beast, the weed whacker hidden behind his legs. Then, with a stroke Mike's golfing dad would be proud of, Mike swished the weapon through the air and thwack. A hole in one! The boys yelled and cheered. I swooned at my hero's feet. Mike picked me up, blew the smoke off the barrel of his weed whacker and strolled back to the house. He sat down at the table and slammed his fist down.
"Give me a shot of whiskey, Woman!"