Friday, February 3, 2017

Where did all the twinkle lights go?

Momma's Log February 2, 2017 (Kwrp)

Happy New Year! Happy 2017! Happy Groundhog Day!  How's your year going so far?  Good I hope!  Mine has been a bit challenging.  New Years Eve found Super Rock Star and I enjoying ringing in the New Year at one of our local Bar and Grills as his band rocked us into 2017.  Unfortunately, we both woke up with wicked colds the next day and sickness lingered in our home all month long.  Ugh!

This time of year is especially tough in our household.  Not only have the decorations of Christmas been long put away with all the twinkling lights and joyous music and all the hope and promise that the season brings, but, it's also the end of our second favorite time of year--football season.


The hopes and dreams of a promising year dashed within a 3 hour period on a Sunday. The Cowboys disappointed us--yet again (or the refs--but lets not open that wound).  But, even with our favorite team (America's team) not making it to the big dance--well it's always a bit of a let down when it all comes to an. Every Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night and the occasional Saturday night have been consumed with watching and enjoying.  And for those of us that love football--well it is a LONG 7 months til the next one begins. I love that commercial that talks about "show hole"--you know when you've been binge watching a series and it comes to an end.  We get "show hole" in a MAJOR way each and every February.

Plus, it's winter.


I guess that's why someone had to come up with Groundhog day.  This year Punxsutawney Phil has promised that spring is coming.

So even though we all know that it still means 6 weeks--at least we remember that there is an end in sight.  If you're like me and have the PRIVILEGE (insert major eye roll) of getting extra long winters that just LOVE to hang on til May and even early June--it's hard to get excited about it.  But, I think we all need a hopeful reminder that there is an end in sight to the cold, dead, everything brown and lifeless winter.

As I was trying to explain Groundhog day to my boys on their way to school this morning--I could tell that it meant nothing to them.

What does an oversized rodent have to do with anything remotely interesting. And, for kids, winter means endless fun in the snow--snow ball fights, sledding,and building forts.  Plus, there's the hope of cancelled school for snow days and your parents letting you watch endless movies and play video games since it's too cold to play outside.  But, for adults, it's not as fun.  We all love winter as we anticipate how great our homes will look all lit up for Christmas against a back drop of snow.  But, as soon as we take down the lights and decorations, snow and cold weather just becomes a drag.

Groundhog Day is set at just the right time.  Many of us just have plain ole forgotten what it's like to have color and green living things around us and some of us have even settled into a bit of a melancholy of heavy sighs and weariness.  It's never a good idea to get too alone with ourselves with nothing to do and nothing to look forward to.  So many of us started off our new year with hopes and dreams of doing things better, making positive changes and becoming better people.  If you made it to January 2nd without losing your mind and actually keeping some of your resolutions--congratulations! You got me beat.

But, somehow that little fur ball playing his part as men tap on his door and we all listen with anticipation to what Phil has to "say" about our weather--gives us all a much needed distraction.  It allows our minds to redirect to what is coming rather than dwelling on what is.

As we get further into this new year and especially with the fresh start of a new month--I pray that we will all keep our eyes looking forward.  And rather than looking around at where we are thinking that life's a drag with nothing to look forward to--may we remember spring is coming and with spring comes hope and with hope comes new life and with new life comes joy.

 Isaiah 43:19 Behold I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Enough!



Momma's Log November 2, 2016 (Kwrp)


You would have to have just entered this world from an alien planet to not have heard all of the American political mumbo jumbo going on right now.  If so--I would highly suggest that you retreat ever so quietly to your mother ship and hightail it outta here.  To say that we have hit rock bottom is a vast understatement. I feel like we're living in a scene from Westside story as the Sharks and the Jets battle over territory.
The only reprieve I find is that-- in my imagination-- we all break out in finger snaps and jazz hands in a choreographed Broadway song and dance number and put an end to stress and anger we all seem to be feeling.


But at stake is the very sanity of our nation.  The lines have been drawn and each side is desperately trying to portray the other as the ignorant narrow minded idiots.  I think we have contained our outrage for too long.  We ALL are feeling the need to weigh in on our opinions--whether it's a passive aggressive sharing of a meme or just flat out stating that we think the person on the other side is certifiably insane. I think most of us acknowledge that at the end of this NO ONE in the United States of America is going to win.  That may sound a bit dramatic, but I truly believe it.  Super Rockstar and I both have found ourselves in the midst of MANY discussions and we hear the same phrase pop up no matter which candidate you are supporting:  "I'm going to choose the lesser of two evils". Here's the thing though--in the Bible--in 1 Thes. 5:22 it says we are to "Abstain from every form of evil" (emphasis mine).

Is Donald Trump a sinner? Yes.  Is Hillary Clinton a sinner? Yes. Both of them need Jesus in a desperate way.  It doesn't matter how many "good" things either of them has done.  All any of us are talking about is all of the BAD things they have done--as if somehow that absolves us in our decision we need to make on November 8th.  We have all gotten so hung up on the titillating points that PROVE one of them is a lesser human being than the other.

In John 8:1-11 there is story of a woman "caught" in the act of adultery.  I put quotes on the word caught--because I have always wondered about the guys that were hanging out at this woman's house --just waiting to catch her in the act.  What does that say about them?  We're they watching her through the windows (creepy)? Had one of them had an "exploit" with her and felt ashamed or perhaps even jilted? Anyway, they bring her to Jesus and tell him she needs to be stoned for her sin.  Notice they didn't just commence with the stoning--as their law told them to do.  No. They wanted to hear what Jesus had to say about it.  It says "they were trying to trap him so that they could have a basis for accusing him" (vs 6a). "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger" (vs.6b)


Wouldn't you just LOVE to know what he wrote? (read this post from a woman named Julie Barrier --http://www.preachitteachit.org/articles/detail/what-did-jesus-really-write-in-the-sand/--it's an amazing theory of what she believes he wrote) They keep badgering him and questioning him and then it says "he straightened up and said to them 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there." (vs. 7-9).

The other night Super Rock Star and I were talking about this section of scripture and how I had seen a few folks write about it in blogs or on Facebook in light of the recent political circus.  But, the part of the story that interests me the most is--What do you think went through the minds of those men at that moment when Jesus said those words? What was it that caused every. single. one of them to stop dead in their tracks and turn and go home.  What sin came to their minds that they were so grievously convicted about that it kept them from hurling a kill shot at the woman they had just CAUGHT committing a sin?  Did a secret sin come to mind as they stood there poised and ready?   Did they growl and grumble and hate Jesus for causing them to think about their OWN secret sin rather than give them permission to punish the one who's sin was so blatant and had been out in the open for all to see? Or did they get it?  Did they get the HUGE lesson that Jesus was teaching them and the woman they had brought before him? Super Rockstar wrote a note on Facebook with his take on this story and it's definitely an intriguing thought provoking read--you can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/tim-glenn/drop-your-stone/10155246909465828

I found myself thinking what it would be like if I was there.  What would I do?  As I sit here--I can name about a dozen sins that I have committed just since I got out of bed this morning.  It doesn't take much to remind me that when it comes to doing wrong I am--as Paul said- "chief among sinners" (1 Tim 1:15).  I find it interesting that when we see someone else do something terrible we want that other person to feel ASHAMED and to feel BAD for what they have done, but God wants us to feel ashamed and bad for what WE have done.  That woman--I'm sure--felt plenty of shame in being brought out in front of everyone and had her sins exposed for all to see.  Notice that Scripture doesn't say she lifted her chin in defiance or pointed to the others, screaming that THEY too were sinners.  By telling them to cast a stone if they hadn't sinned, Jesus was sending a powerful message.  As SOON as He said the words......Silence.  Except for the Thud, Thud, Thud of stones hitting the ground.


All in that crowd immediately turned inward and had to face the cold harsh fact.  Not a single one of them was any less worthy of being stoned.  Maybe adultery was not their crime--but it was awful all the same.

I hope if it was me in that crowd that I would have been the first to drop my stone and walk away.  Scripture says it was from the oldest to the youngest --so this is not beyond the realm of possibility except for my stubborn selfish heart.  I would want to "do some business with God"--as the pastors say.  To apologize for my sin and ask His forgiveness--at least I hope that's what I would do.   It's not easy to humble yourself and admit that God doesn't grade sins at different levels--even if we do.  "What I did wasn't NEARLY as bad as what THEY did"--we think to ourselves.  How hard must it have been for the first guy to drop his stone.  How humiliating to have to admit in front of everyone--I am a sinner and then walk away.  It takes a lot of courage to face God in the midst of our own personal rebellion and say that we are wrong and sorry.

I wonder if any of those men found themselves not only needing to repent--but to make amends?  I know I would.  The Holy Spirit is particularly "naggy" to me when it comes to this crucial step in restoration.  When I am disrespectful to Super Rock Star or lose my temper with my children or when I have been rude or impatient with a unsuspecting cashier at a store--I am bothered in my conscious to the point of torture until I humble myself and apologize.   I ALWAYS feel bad and have the need to say I'm sorry (eventually) for being a crazy person and pray that there was no damaging consequences for my selfish behavior.  I heard it a LONG time ago--I forget from where--"You can choose your sin, but you can't choose the consequences".  Unfortunately I have lived on this planet long enough to have experienced this many, many times.  When we are in the midst of sin--we rarely see how it affecting those closest to us and even ourselves.  You would think this would keep me on a "short leash" in the willful rebellion department, but unfortunately--I fail every day.  And every day I have to apologize to those I love, to complete strangers and sometimes to the face looking back in the mirror for all the damage I have done.   I'm thankful on a daily basis that no one (that I know of) is video taping my life--especially the unsavory moments.  I would be devastated to have to re play those moments I remember--let alone the ones I have forgotten.

The woman in this story is so intriguing to me.  After a bit--Jesus asks her-- "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir." she said. "Then neither do I condemn you." Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (vs. 10-11) Can you imagine what SHE must have been thinking? I have been forgiven A LOT (and I do mean A LOT) of sins in my life.  The closest comparison I can make to how it feels to be forgiven is that --it's kind of like when you find yourself driving along a nice open stretch of road, come over the crest of a hill and BAM--you see him.  Speed Trap Cop has his laser gun aimed right at you and IMMEDIATELY you know you are busted.  As the lights pull up behind you and as you pull over--your heart is just SINKING.


How are you going to explain this?  It will be a hefty fine that you just CAN'T afford to pay.  You didn't really MEAN to speed--it just sort of happened.  The panic and dread of it all brings you to tears as you roll down your window and dole out your license and registration to the grim-faced accuser.  He takes his time looking over your credentials--you silently pray that somehow something on his computer screen would tell him how sorry you are for going faster than the posted speed limit.  After an ETERNITY he saunters back to your car window --you squeeze your eyes shut and brace yourself for the worst.  Instead-- he hands you back your documents and says "I'm going to just give you a warning today--please pay attention to the posted limits and don't do this again."

Does anyone else sing the Hallelujah chorus as soon as you roll up the window? I do! I raise my hands and cheer and say "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You LORD!" And you'd better BELIEVE that after that I am A LOT more mindful of driving slower.  The relief that we feel for getting off the hook is indescribable! I'm guessing that's how that woman must have felt too.  Shocked at first, but then so, so, so grateful that she had been given another chance.

Have you ever noticed that when you are GIVEN grace that it makes it a lot easier to want to GIVE grace?  I wonder if any of those men who dropped their stones recognized that --they too --had been given another chance.  God had pardoned them and given them another shot at getting it right.  I wonder if they became more willing to see others differently--not through hate filled fury, but maybe through compassion.  All of us have a blooper reel in heaven.  But, each and every time we acknowledge and confess our sin--God is gracious to us, and erases the tape.  Never to be seen or played again.  Never to be used to accuse us and shame us.   I am SO grateful for that.   He must be insane to do that or He must be GOD.

Did that woman deserve to be put to death for her crime?  Well--according to their law at the time--she did.  The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the most powerful men of their day.  They carried out all sorts of punishments every day in the name of the law.  So--what made it different that day? Jesus was there.  All throughout his adult life on earth these guys were relentless in trying to disprove him, to try and take him down and shame him so that the crowds would stop listening to him and believing in him. THEY didn't believe in him--but, they KNEW he was different and they feared him. He was the one with power and it didn't come with punishments and reprimands, it didn't come from money, and it didn't come from deals made--it came from him being who he said he was and doing what he said he would do.

Jesus is the game changer.  I find it interesting that some folks get uncomfortable REAL fast when we start talking about Jesus.  He is powerful.  We've forgotten that --in this day and age when sometimes his name is used as a curse word (always hurts my ears).  But those same folks that curse in his name often get offended when his name is mentioned in a public prayer or shared in a government owned building.  There's a reason for that-- because even his very NAME has power. If you are one that hears his name and find yourself offended--ask yourself why? Is it because he is so offensive or is it because you are trying to prove that all of this is just "religious mumbo jumbo" and that--like those pharisees--you want to prove he isn't who he says he is.

But, if you read his name and it does not offend you, but instead it is a reminder of who you are.  You need to try to REMEMBER just what you have been saved from--a life of being enslaved to your sins, helpless to overcome them on your own, and facing an eternity of separation from the One who created all the uniqueness that is YOU.  You are saved by GRACE and when He brings conviction to your soul for your own sins --rather than letting you dwell on and talk about and revel in the sins of others-- He holds you to a higher standard.  One in which you don't choose evil--you choose GOOD.

If this is you-- Do what these men in this story did.  Drop your stone.  Go home.  And pray.  Pray for forgiveness for your own sins, for the sins of our nation and for the sins of these individuals that we have been given as the choices for our next leader.  Pray that He will give us insight on which one to choose.  And pray it will be the one that --though a very sinful human being--would have a heart after God--like David. That they would be willing to seek Him for wisdom in leading us--like Solomon.  And finally-- that no matter what any human tells him/her who they are and what they should be doing--that they would choose this day Whom they will serve--like we all should. Choose to look for the one who is willing to admit their own wrong doing, apologize, make amends with those they have hurt and try to do better.

I can only hope that come what may-- on November 9th we can wake up as a nation and put this whole debacle behind us and gracefully accept whomever wins. .....AND maybe we can all take to the streets doing a little flash mob rendition of Westside Story's "America."


Just a thought...and 5,6,7, 8---"Jazz hands"





Thursday, September 29, 2016

Update on Morgan

Momma's Log September 22, 2016 (Kwrp)



So, we're almost 2 months into the new school year and I realized that I had never given you all an update about all the issues Morgan was having last year in school.  The post I wrote back then started as just a musing over the profound differences between my two boys, but ended up with me pouring my heart out to you about my frustrations over how much he struggled in school.  If you want to read about it you can check it out here: http://jenglenn.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-tale-of-two-boys-part-1.html

To date, that blog post received the most communication and feedback from you all and I am SO grateful. I got so many private messages and comments and phone calls about either your own child's struggle with school or someone close to you. I was deeply touched by your willingness to share your trials with me and give me insights on some things to try and do.  I can't even begin to explain to you how your sharing and reaching out calmed me as I realized that-- not only was I not alone in all of this, but there were many options to explore that I had not even considered.

To take it back a bit--after nearly a year long struggle of his teacher and I racking our brains and trying different things; her listening to me crying out how much it hurt to see him struggle so much, me listening to her voice her frustrations over not finding much success with the things she WAS trying-- I finally called our pediatrician and begged for help.  He suggested a test -- really more of  a questionnaire that his teacher would fill out and Super Rock Star and I would fill out and give him a good view of Morgan's behavior at school vs. at home and be kind of like a preliminary ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) test.

I will never forget the meeting we had with him in going over the results.  He came in, sat down, looked us right in the eyes and said "So, we have all known Morgan since he was born, and none of the results of this test will be a surprise.  Does he have ADD? Maybe.....but then we ALL have ADD at some level or another.  What you guys want to know is what to do about it--so here are your options." He went on to list every option available (most were things many of you had suggested in your responses to me):

1. Home school him.  Morgan is probably a good candidate for homeschooling. Our Doctor looked directly at me and said " It means you, Jennifer, would be his teacher. Can you do it? Yes. Are you the best teacher for Morgan? Maybe. Maybe not."

***Keep in mind--he knows us.  He knows me.  Our visits haven't just been about him checking out our boys and keeping track of THEIR health.  He is always interested in how we are doing as parents too.  He has witnessed me in his examination room battling to keep Morgan quiet and occupied so that I can have a conversation.  And--just between you and me--home schooling has always been my "last frontier option".  I know many of you home school your kids and I admire you so much.  It is NOT an easy job.  At all.  My sister home schooled her 4 kids VERY successfully.   But, even with all of the wonderful encouragement you gave me about how easy it is and how wonderful it is--I think--deep inside--I know I'm not Morgan's best option. At least not right now.

***To give you a little deeper insight into my character and how it does not jive with being a good elementary school teacher--I often joke with their teachers that I could fix the whole "sit still and listen" battle with a roll of duct tape.  Most of them laugh.  Some give me that side ways look of a little alarm and  a nervous laugh ("is she SERIOUS?!") (ask my sister about one of the boys in her 3rd grade class.  The teacher duct taped his feet to the floor to get him to stop jumping up and distracting the class--nowadays that teacher would be put in prison) (It could work though--just sayin)

But, it does make me think that I'm not cut out for this teaching thing--even to my own kids. If it covers the basics--potty training, how to brush your teach, clean up and basic life skills--I got it covered.  But watching them puzzle out how to add, subtract, write, etc..that is WAY outside of my wheel house.
 
2.  Change schools.  This was something we agonized over for a LONG time.  I called school after school--asking about their curriculum, class sizes, expectations, etc.  Nearly all of them had the same curriculum as our current school. So, unless we were going to hold him back--I just couldn't see the benefit of uprooting he and his brother from what they knew on the hope that a change of scenery and environment would change the situation.  No, it seemed to me that the problem was not our school, teachers or environment--it was Morgan's BEHAVIOR which was the issue at hand.  That wasn't going to just go away.

3.  Hold him back a year. We rejected this option from the beginning --and thanks to my wonderful and magnificently talented professional educator cousin, Lori, I got the affirmation I needed.  She directed me to numerous articles and studies that basically prove that retention (holding back) at this grade level is more harmful than good.  In hind sight we probably should have held him back in kindergarten.  It would have been no big deal then. We knew that-- at this point-- it would hurt him emotionally and make him feel like even more of a failure.  The issue wasn't that Morgan couldn't learn what was being taught--it was that he couldn't seem to control his body for long enough periods of time to retain it.

***For the first couple years of his education I truly believed it was a maturity thing for him. "He's a boy with lot's of energy" I would tell myself.  "He'll grow out of it eventually and be just fine"  I VEHEMENTLY rejected the idea that he simply COULDN'T sit still and pay attention. I SO appreciate his teacher and teacher's assistant finally confronting me with the fact that they REALLY TRULY believed he couldn't help it.  They could see how smart he was, but they also could see that he just couldn't seem to control himself.  The tipping point for me came when his teacher told me that it wasn't just about him not sitting at his desk--she let a lot of her kids stand up to learn or sit where they were comfortable.  It was that he would act in very distracting ways too--diving under desks, rolling on the floor and just not focusing on any part of the teaching at all.  I had no idea it had gotten that bad.

4.  Medication. They have numerous choices now on medication for those that have ADD or ADHD. He could start on the lowest possible dose and then bump it up as needed.

***This is the option that terrified me the most.  I had spoken to so many folks who had been put on Ritalin as children and hated it.  They felt drowsy and it basically turned them into mindless drones.  When the Doctor mentioned all of the new options available (plus several of you had mentioned things I had never heard of and you had been seeing positive results)--it gave me hope that my sparky, laughter loving joy of a boy would not be changed into something else by trying out the medication.  What truly "sold" me on trying it was when our Doctor said these words to me:

"Jennifer, it's kind of like how you need your morning coffee when you wake up.  It helps clear away the cob webs and gets your brain ready to think clear thoughts so you can function for the day. That's what this medicine will do for Morgan.  It will help him focus so that he is not chasing after every thought and idea that pops into his brain, he will feel calm, and will be able to sit still."  To which I answered--"How many cases of this stuff can we order?" (I'm joking) (sort of).

Since there was only 8 weeks of school left, we determined it would be a great time to "test out" the medication route especially since Morgan's teacher had experienced so much difficulty. Since nothing else we had tried worked, it seemed like the perfect way to find out if this was going to be the best course of action for him.  We decided not to tell his teacher about it the first week-- I really wanted to KNOW if she saw a difference.  At the end of the week I just asked her how he had been.  Her answer--"You know, I was going to email you.  I don't know what happened, but he has been doing a much better job of sitting in his seat.  We haven't really had to remind him to do his work--he's just better at doing it."  When I told her that we had started him on some medication I could visibly see the relief in her face.  For me, it was proof that our "test" was taking us in the right direction.

Throughout the next few weeks I kept in good communication with most all of his teachers--they all had noticed a difference.  Morgan noticed a difference too.  All of a sudden he wasn't getting reprimanded every day and he was getting his work done--which helped him feel good about himself. An unexpected gift came in his social behavior.  I had not expected it to affect him in how he interacted with kids--but it did.  He had never been very good at making friends and all of a sudden he was getting along with kids he had been fighting with all year.  They were wanting to play with him and he wasn't feeling as angry and defensive as he had been.  I cannot even begin to TELL you how happy it made me feel to see him come home happy, head held up and babbling about what he did that day and who he played with.  It still makes my eyes well up with happy tears to see such a dramatic difference in how he improved so much--almost over night.

His teacher, Mrs. Ragsdale and her assistant Mrs. Gillmore deserve so much gratitude and praise.  They are two very strong, loving ladies who patiently worked with Morgan all year and helped this scared and confused Momma navigate the world of "when your child doesn't quite fit in".

Medication is a scary road to take no matter what it is for.  I know that the decision we made is not necessarily the right decision for everyone.  But, I am confident it is the right one for Morgan.  He doesn't have to be on the medication on the weekends, but we do-- just so there is some consistency to his life.  Plus, he's playing sports now and it has definitely had a positive impact on his ability to learn in that arena too.

The only side affect that we have noticed is that in the late afternoon he gets a little (sometimes a lot) emotional.  It's caused from his body coming down off the meds (kind of like I get pretty cranky when I need my afternoon cup of coffee).  It's usually pretty short lived and we try to remove the triggers that can antagonize him.

I really DID have to see it to believe it.  I am DEFINITELY a  believer now.  I'm sorry for those I disappointed in this decision--especially those that truly believed that home schooling was my best and only option.  I will tell you the truth.  After witnessing the positive changes in him this past few months, even if I do choose to home school him some day--he will still be on the medication.  I read with my boys and help them with homework every day.  Before Morgan was on medication he would move his books all around and couldn't keep still and worse he would scream in frustration because doing the work was so hard for him. Now, he sits perfectly still and gets it done.

Most days he is finishing his homework while he is at school.   Some day he will most likely outgrow his need to be on the medication, but even so--the doc said that many adults still choose to take some sort of ADD meds when they feel they need to.  I'm seriously thinking I may be a good candidate for some myself.  Ha!

Morgan is doing so great now.  Does he still hate school?  Not as much.  I don't think school will ever be his "thing"--and that's o.k. We, at least, have found a way for him to tolerate it and not feel like he's always swimming upstream. At the beginning of the year, I got a couple emails from his new teacher as she was learning about all the idiosyncrasies of her new students, but he has not had a single incident of bad behavior and last I checked he was getting awesome grades.

Thank you again for all of your encouraging words and insights.  Parenting is such a tough road.  My Dad has said it often "Kids don't come with instruction manuals".  That is SO true.  We're all just figuring this out as we go.  I'm grateful that you not only allowed me to share this particular struggle with you, but how you came to my side and walked it with me, prayed for Morgan and helped us navigate our way through.  God bless you for that!




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trash turned to Treasure--or something like that

Momma's Log September 19, 2016 (Kwrp)

We've known each other for a little while now and I think I feel safe enough to tell you a big secret about myself.  An addiction--if you will--that I have.  Hi. My name is Jennifer (Hi Jennifer).... and I am a trash collector.

And by trash collector--I do not mean the respectable trade of driving in the really cool trucks up and down streets and collecting trash and hauling it to a dump site.  I tend to run the same circuit they do, but no--I am not there to dispose of the trash you so innocently put out by your curb.  I am there to go through it and collect any "treasures" I can find.  On any given trash day--I am the nosy neighbor peering out the window, the shady person driving up and down the streets and the pair of legs you see sticking out of the big construction size dumpsters.

I simply CANNOT help it.  I spot some item that someone else is throwing away and I see it as something that still has some life.  It's almost like it has a personality to me.  Do you remember in the movie Toy Story 3 when all of the gang ended up at the city dump nearly incinerated and they are all like crying and saying their goodbyes?

Clearly I know that was just a movie and not real life (the animation gave it away--otherwise I think I would be a little worried), but that's kind of the way I look at the stuff I collect.  In my mind I see something that was once a part of it's family's life now shunned and outcast sitting there all lonely--waiting to picked up by perfect strangers that will haul it to a strange place where it will by burned or buried.(Yes. I am aware that this "stuff" really isn't alive with feelings)(Please don't call the Psycho Ward on me.)   I look at it and I still see something useful lurking beneath the outdated appearance and the broken bits:  A kid's bike that is a little rusted from being left outside with a chain off and in need of new tires, a chair or sofa table that just needs a new cushion or a fresh coat of stain.

Some people collect pets, or purses or wine glasses.  I collect thrown out items.  Now, don't get me wrong--I am not one of those artsy people that looks for every hub cap, scrap of wire or metal and craftily welds and fashions it into some sort of art.

I admire those folks and WISH I was that creative.  No, think of me as more of a rescue and restore operator.  I realize we all throw out stuff for different reasons--it's broken and either we don't possess the skills to fix it or the cost of having it fixed is way more than the item is worth, it's dirty and used and we just don't have the space or need for it anymore, or we got a shinier newer version and just don't need the old one anymore.  Some of you set out your item in the hopes someone like me will come along and "rescue" it--others simply want it out of their homes as quickly as possible.  Most of us are continually beating back the clutter monster.(Don't even LOOK at my kid's toys. Just. Don't.  It's embarrassing and definitely episode worthy of "Hoarders")

I don't really have a hoarding problem with my collecting. (I....well... I don't think I do)  I use, sell or donate everything I collect and I have found some REALLY cool items over the years. I am just wired in weird ways and am fearless about jumping into any dumpster if I see a promising piece sticking out.  I know I inherited this trait. My Mom recently confessed that she too was a "collector" when she was a child.  She told of finding a perfectly good pair of boots in a neighbors trash, but then was all bummed when her Mom made her share them with her twin sister.

The way I see it I am practicing a valuable trade.  I have made a lot of good walking around money with my "finds" and I have collected a lot of useful items for our home.  So today, I thought I would share some of my highlights with you:

Check out this child's roll top desk I found sitting next to a construction site dumpster?

All it needed was a little cleaning and paint to freshen it up and now it is a prized piece in my library.  It even holds a family heirloom typewriter that my great-grandfather (Grandpa Tyler) used.  Also we found all kinds of cool treasures in it--a few fountain pens and some old scribbled notes from the child who had used it. 

Here's a pic of a dining room table and chairs that a neighbor no longer wanted.

There were a lot of broken pieces and some missing parts.  I glued the pieces back together and gave it a little paint and recovered the cushions and voila!-- a pretty decent dining set.  I ended up giving this one away to a couple who needed it for guests coming for thanksgiving.

This is a cute locker cabinet I found outside another neighbor's house.

It is perfect for my boy's room to store all their little treasures in.  It was on castors and missing one.  So I just took them all off and cleaned it up.

My latest finds are still works in progress.  This sofa table is going to get a good sanding and a fresh coat of stain and some new inserts on top (probably wood with glass tops).  It will sit nicely in our rec room and be useful for adding some much needed shelves for all of the toys I mentioned before.

This chair will also get a fresh coat of stain and be a nice for rocking the day away outside.

I have found countless items that I have just simply cleaned up and either sold online or at our annual garage sale.  So many baby walkers, and little work tables and such that just needed to be cleaned and minimally repaired.  The bit I wrote earlier about the bicycles with the rusty chains? I collected 3 of them from my neighborhood.  I didn't even have to bother to repair them. I just set them out for our garage sale and a lovely couple purchased them.  They just happen to go around town collecting inexpensive bicycles in need of a little attention.  After repairing them, they drive them down to Mexico and give them to away to kids.  Isn't that cool?

For me it's not really about making money off my finds--although a nearly 100% profit ain't bad.  Super Rock Star and I watch the show "American Picker's" a lot and one of the guys on the show often says "It's all about finding the right home for these pieces we rescue from the dirt".  I find that to be so true.  Unlike them--I'm not going to go knocking on folk's doors and asking to search through their barns and out buildings (at least not yet), but I am always keeping my eyes open for that peek of a promising something sticking up out of a trash can or leaning against the curb.  My neighbors used to think I was a little nutty (probably still do), but now they have started coming to me first when they have something to get rid of.  "Do you want this__________?" Always with quizzical brow lifted and a look of "really?"  The answer is nearly always "Yes. Yes I do."




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sound of Silence

Momma's Log August 17, 2016 (Kwrp)

Do you hear that sound?

"I think that's one of them silent alarms!" (Saving Silverman)


No, no, no...Do you? Do you hear the sound I hear?  ME NEITHER!!!! That's because there IS no sound! None. Nadda.  Nothing but SWEET silence.  HaHA!  I did it!  I made it through ten--that's TEN weeks of summer break!  10 solid weeks of playing "Julie the Cruise Director from Love Boat" to my two boys who looked at me like this every morning... wanting to know what the day's entertainment schedule was.


The break started off with SUCH high hopes on my part.  We made a bucket list of all the little things their hearts and minds could think of that meant "summer" to them, I put together learning pages and a reading schedule that would make any teacher proud, and I was committed to keeping us steered on course to enjoy the Best.Summer.Ever. AND keep up with their learning so they could be ahead when school started in the fall (or in our case LATE summer) (But don't get me started on THAT one) .

I planned for us to visit museums and do science experiments at home with ideas found on pinterest (of course).  We could have adventures in the morning and then quiet reading in the afternoon. My PLAN was to tick off every item on that list my precious little angels created, have wonderful fun filled days where we would all sleep til we woke up, giggle and play all day, and have water gun and water balloon fights and fall asleep under the stars with nothing but the warm embrace of each other to keep us warm.

LOUD RECORD SCREECHING SOUND


But, alas--this is me.  And anyone who knows me realizes that everything I just planned-- stayed just that.  A plan.  The cold harsh reality is that I am NOT a cheerful "Julie the cruise director of the Love Boat" kind of mom with ideas galore and endless energy to keep my people motivated and happy.

Unfortunately I think I am more of a Miss Hannigan from Annie type.


For some insane reason I had this idea that I needed to sign my boys up for lots of activities to keep them busy and me not having to exert too much effort. These two boys of mine have been blessed (cursed) with an introverted overtired under motivated Momma who is all ideas and ZERO desire to pull off those ideas.  I liken my ideas to kind of like when you're watching a sit com TV show or romance movie.  It's all perfect--everyone says the right thing, does the right things and even in the mishaps everyone just laughs it off and there is never anybody feeling perpetually grumpy, tired and in desperate need of time to oneself.  Just like we all know that real life is never like what we see on TV (you do know that, right?)(Sorry if I spoiled it for you).  That's pretty much how my ideas play out too.  The reality NEVER turns out like I imagined and hoped it would.  And for some reason--I never change.  I always HOPE I'll be different. But....no.  Nope, sorry--still the same ole me.

So, I signed up for all these things and  my hope was that in keeping them busy with activities that I merely needed to drive them to --I could sit on the sidelines and just watch and enjoy.  That way THEY would have fun and I would enjoy myself too.  Forced participation is always the bane of my existence. I even pictured myself relaxing on the sidelines with front row seats to them having the time of their lives as I sipped a Starbucks and read a book.

What happened instead is that we got half way through June and only one or two things had been ticked off the bucket list, I was running the boys around to and fro like an insane person, our home had not been cleaned in weeks and I was in full panic mode because it was SUMMER!  And dang it! My boys are supposed to be building magical dreams and having the time of their lives and living some sort of Tom Sawyer life with the perfect balance of just lolly gagging around and getting to do every activity they can envision. And I am SUPPOSED to be relaxing and enjoying myself. But, instead they have me barking at them every few hours "Get dressed! It's time to go to__________!!" Hurry hurry hurry!! Even though the activities I signed them up for were fun--swim lessons, karate, and baseball.  I think no one had much fun.  I stole the fun right out of it.  Because for me--when I fill my schedule too full--EVERYTHING becomes a dreaded task to be accomplished.  Even fun things.  It sounds crazy (and I probably am), but it's just how my brain is wired.  I have never been so miserable in my life.


I tried to alleviate my misery by taking an evening once a week to go by myself on a hike.  This was a precious gift Super Rock Star gave me when I think he could see I was about to crack into pieces from all of the stress I was shouldering.  It helped, but I was still a walking misery of anger and outrage as I --for some reason--believed that being ANGRY about my lack of choices and freedom in how we spent our time (even though I was the one who did all of this) would solve it.   Being the calm diplomatic one between the two of us-- he sat down with me (bless his heart) and listened to me lament over how this summer was a complete failure, how I was in a panic about how we were going to fit it all in and what was I supposed to do?

It was the most freeing thing to put into words the sense of failure I felt-- the anxiety over wanting to be a fun Mom and feeling like I'm not, my honest misery over how my boys drive me more crazy than I care to admit when I'm with them 24/7 and how him getting to "escape" to work every day just didn't seem fair.  Do you know what was really awesome?  He didn't once personalize anything I said.  He could have called the "men in white coats" (and probably should have) to come and hall me away.  He could have been resentful that I didn't seem to appreciate how all of his hard work was how we afforded to do all of these wonderful activities and such and lecture me on how I needed to stop complaining and be more grateful.   Instead, he did what good men do.  He helped me solve it.

We got out our calendar, we looked at our schedule and all of the things we already had planned (his gigs and work stuff) and the availability of days he could take off work so we could go and enjoy these bucket list items together as a family.  That's what he does.  He's SO good at it.  Whereas I looked at this list and screamed inside "How is it even possible for ME to do all this?!!" He looked at it and said--"This will work if we all do this together here, and let's make it an adventure and group these things together here."  And before I knew it, we had a great outline for how our month of July would look.  It planned for everything and with the chaos of all the activities I had put us through in June behind us--there were spaces.  Spaces and chunks of time where we DID just stay home.  He managed to create time for me--where he and I would just lay in the pool together and relax while our boys stayed inside and played a video game or we would watch a movie or show upstairs while our boys watched one downstairs.  He recognized that they are at a golden age where they can do things by themselves with us nearby and we don't have to make everything about spending every second with them.  I LOVE that he is not only and idea person, but also a planning person and an implementing that plan person.  Without him, I would still be stuck back in June with my bloodshot eyes bugging out, my hair standing on end and a nervous twitch from the insanity going on in my head.

Our summer ended up being great.  Yes, we did a lot.  Yes, it was probably more than we needed to do and no, I did not do a great job of keeping up with the summer learning that would make my boys teachers proud.  I managed to fling math worksheets at them most every morning and had them mumble through a few pages of reading.  BUT, we had fun.  Sometimes all of us together ,sometimes my boys just having some good brother time, sometimes my husband and I having some good couple time and sometimes just me by myself---getting my beloved alone time on my Thursday evening hikes.

This summer taught me A LOT about what NOT to do.  I don't know WHY I felt that I had to do and plan so much this year.  I think it's because my boys are growing up so fast and time seems so short.  It seems like a big clock is ticking down to when I won't get to do all of these things with them. To build memories.  To do the things young boys are supposed to be doing.  To be care free.   But, what good is it to try to cram a lifetime of activities into a few weeks just so I can brag about it on social media or to try to rid myself of the ever fatal "Mom Comparison" mindset.   It made me miserable and therefore my family miserable too.

Next summer  I don't want to have such a big plan.  I will be content if we do one family vacation and call it good. (I think Super Rock Star would wholeheartedly endorse this plan too)  To tell you the truth-- my boys are THRILLED just not going to school.  I don't HAVE to plan anything for them.  They are boys.  They are kids.  They just know how to make their own fun.  They are perfectly content having a sleepover with each other in a tent set up in our spare room.  The best fun I had this summer was on those precious free days where I just listened to my boys lose themselves in their imaginary worlds--pretending for hours on end while I would be getting some house work done (yes, I finally did find some spaces for cleaning too).  I would sneak a video or picture during those times that I will get to share with them some day. My hope is that those are the things that make them smile when they grow older and have kids of their own.  "Remember when we played Avengers/Ninja Turtles  and I was Hawk Eye and you were Mikey from TMNT?"


Those are certainly the things I will lock in my mind and look back on and smile. I hope I can just learn from my mistakes and not make everything a project, a to do, and a chore.  But, to just relax and enjoy this time in life.  And, no-- I probably won't be any stricter about keeping up with summer learning.  Sorry Teachers!  I love you, but we ALL need a break and that's what summer should be.  For now, I am SO VERY grateful that summer break is behind us and that I am privileged to get to sit in my home. by myself.  with the sweet sound of silence.  



Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Becoming a Momma Miracle

Momma's Log May 7, 2016 (Kwrp)

It was July 17, 2006.  A lot of stuff was going through my mind that day, but most importantly was that the next day was Super Rock Star's birthday.  It was a milestone birthday and just a few days earlier I had surprised him with a party at our home with so many of our good friends.  For those of you that don't know Super Rock Star, I'll let you in on a little secret--birthdays are NOT his favorite.  Oh sure, he likes the presents and cake and such--but growing another year older? Especially, a milestone year?  Forget about it!  He was NOT looking forward to the next day.  I tease him all the time that he probably started having his first mid-life crisis at the age of 10.  "Ten-- I'm in the double digits now.  It's too late for me." I do give him a hard time, but I also understand so well now--getting older ain't that fun.

I remember I was driving home from work and I was talking out loud to God--which is pretty common for me--but that day it was for a very specific purpose.  I was "late".  And I don't mean late for an appointment.  It was not the first time I had been late--I had taken many pregnancy tests before and all had turned out negative.  I knew I had one leftover test at home and I was trying to muster the courage to face yet another let down.

But, let me take you back a few years.  When Super Rock Star and I first got married, we both longed for children, but we really didn't start "trying" until about 4 years into our marriage.  We started off the way so many young couples do--just having the expectation that it would just happen.  When a couple of years passed and still no positive pregnancy test, we started to feel a little more desperate--reading pamphlets and talking to friends and family.  "Just relax", they said, "stress always gets in the way."  But, how can you NOT stress?  Two years had passed since we started trying--something must be wrong.  We visited our doctors, we took tests.  The words "healthy" and "normal" buzzed through our heads.  That should have given us some sort of encouragement, but instead it just brought further frustration.  "If we're so healthy and normal, why are we not getting pregnant?" After a few more years of trying--I think we had both sort of given up on hoping for it.  We stopped talking about it, I stopped telling him when I was late, I even hid the many pregnancy tests I took that all came out negative.  We both retreated into our separate worlds of feeling unhappy, unfulfilled and isolated from the joy we knew so many others got to experience.  It was a really dark and heavy time for us.

I know, full well, the deep agony of wanting a child so much and yet month after month, year after year--anxiously hoping and yet heartbroken over and over and over.  Empty dreams, empty womb, empty home.  I don't think--for those that long for children--there is any worse feeling of failure, shame and despair.

Of course I prayed about it.  A lot.  Well-meaning friends would often try to encourage me that I could be a "mother" type figure to all kids I came into contact with.  It's a lovely idea and, for some, it may bring them great comfort, but for me--I just quite honestly wanted to scream--"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!!! THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!" I know.  I know.  Not very Christian of me.  But, like I said, these were dark times.  I often would ask God to either fulfill my desire or take away my desire, but to not leave me tormented with a longing that would forever go unfulfilled.  It was about this time that I started running across the Bible story about Abraham and Sarah (you know the couple in the Bible that had to wait until they were in their NINETIES to have their first and only son). It came up seemingly everywhere I went--at church, at Bible study, in conversations with friends.  I swear I saw it posted on a billboard at one point (o.k. that might be a SLIGHT exaggeration, but it was starting to feel that way).  After about the 20th time of coming across this story in a six month time span, I rolled my eyes up to heaven said it right out loud: "That's NOT funny, Lord!"

Back to my drive home.  My conversation with God went something like this (and when I say "conversation"--I was talking out loud to God and hearing His voice in my head):

Me: It's o.k. I know if I'm not, but I'm going to take the test just to put it out of my mind.

God: But, what if you are?

Me: Stop joking.  It's o.k. Really. I mean...I get it.  I'm a big mess.  I can barely take care of our dog and cat.  Having a baby is probably more than I can handle.  You know me best.  That's probably why we haven't been able to get pregnant.  I just wasn't ready to face the facts.  It's all because of me.  Poor Tim.  He deserves to be a daddy.  I hate to think he won't get to be one because of me.  I just want it so badly for him.  For us.

God: Yes, I DO know you best.  And I believe you ARE ready.

Me:  Stop.  Please.  I can't take any more disappointment.  I don't want to believe that I'm really having this conversation with You only to realize it's just my own mind telling me what I want to hear--letting my hopes be raised again only to have them dashed.  Please know--I'll be okay either way.  I know I will still love You, I will try my best to serve You and be and become whatever it is You want me to be--even if that does not include being a mother.

God:  I know you are ready because I know now that you WILL seek me.  When you don't know what you're doing--which will be often--I know you will ask me.  And I will help you.




In that moment, folks...I stepped on the gas.  I wanted to get home as fast as I could.  I wanted to know--right then and there--if the conversation I had just had was real or if it was just me making up something in my head.  Somewhere deep inside my soul I KNEW that I had just had a real live chat with the Creator of the Universe and He was giving me some VERY good news!  I raced into our home, flew to the bathroom, flung out all the junk from in the cabinet under the sink, desperately clawing to find the hidden last test I had.  With shaky hands I ripped it open.  I didn't need to read the instructions--I had done more than my fair share of these before.  After taking the test I willed myself not to look at it.  I squeezed my eyes shut as I placed it on the counter.  I was determined to wait the full three minutes and only look after I knew it was complete.  But.... I couldn't help it.  One eye popped open.  I had to sneak a peek and as the liquid crawled across the display screen.  I saw it.  A plus sign.  I did a double take.  I wildly searched for the instructions inside the box.  I just had to be sure.  Yes---a plus sign means positive.  Positive means pregnant.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!

I whooped! I hollered!.....And then I had a moment of doubt.  That test had been buried in the back of that cabinet for a while.  Maybe it wasn't accurate.  So, I jumped back into my car, dashed to the drug store and bought a pack with two tests in it (hey, we're looking for undeniable proof. right?) I came back home.  Positive.  Positive.

I was GIDDY.  I couldn't think straight or form an articulate thought or word other than "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You Lord Jesus!!" I must have picked the phone up and put it down a dozen times (kids, this is back before we all had cell phones stuffed in our back pockets--we had phones attached to walls.  I know. Crazy.).  I wanted to tell Super Rock Star IMMEDIATELY. But, I also wanted to make it a good surprise gift for him.  If I had any doubts about the birthday gifts I was giving him that year (which I always do)--I knew I had a good one for this year!! He, as I mentioned before, was feeling a little down about his birthday.  Add that to the dashed hopes about parenthood and some other heavy stuff going on in our lives--well, let's just say I knew his birthday was not expected to be celebrated much.

Anyway, we have a Christian book store close by and so I went there on a whim hoping to find some sort of memento to mark this oh so special occasion. They miraculously still had quite a few Father's Day gifts leftover from the previous month.  I found this really cool pocket watch that said "World's Best Dad" on it.  I also found some cute little baby socks--a pink pair and a blue pair.  I came home, found a small gold box and placed one of the positive pregnancy tests on the bottom and the pocket watch and one of each color sock on top.  I set the box on the table and waited for him to come home.

A short while later he came through the door.  I could tell right away that he was in a bad mood--shoulder's slumped, grim face, and just a complete downcast look on his face.  He noticed the small box on our table and reluctantly asked "What's this?" "It's for you", I said.  "Jen, my birthday isn't until tomorrow--can't I just wait and open my gift then?" "I think you'll want to open this one now", I say.  Heavy sigh from him.  He reluctantly grabs the box and takes the lid off.  And, he looks VERY confused.  I'm not kidding.  It took a full minute for him to register the contents of what was in the box and what they meant.  But, as he realized it--he looked at me with a big smile and asked "Are you serious?" As I nodded vigorously--we both started crying and hugging and jumping up and down.  And then.  The EXACT same doubt that had hit me after taking the first test--hit him.  "Are you sure? How many tests did you take?" Even when I told him I had taken 3 tests, we went to the store and bought another double pack.  Positive.  Positive.  Yes, folks, we were that floored by this whole thing.  I love it though.  And I love that God did not seem even a little bothered by the fact that we wanted so much confirmation for such a long-awaited blessing.  In fact, He seemed to be celebrating with us.  The heavy cloud of despair that had been hanging over us for so long was lifted instantaneously.

On March 21, 2007--just a little over 8 months after that day--at 2:07 in the afternoon, I got to hear the most precious sound ever as Morgan Douglas Glenn made his squalling entrance into this world. Making me a Momma for the first time.

In  2 Kings 20:5 it says "I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears, surely I will heal you".  In Psalm 34:18 it says that "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit". In Psalm 30:11 it says "You turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness".   My Great God chose that day nearly 10 years ago to give me the best gift I have EVER received.  He gave me a new job description, a new title, a new role in this life and it is DEFINITELY the one I am the most proud of.  God has given me a precious assignment and it is one I hope I will NEVER take for granted.

I longed for so many years to hear the pitter patter of little feet.  These days it has turned into a thunderous roar as my two boys are getting bigger and bigger every year.  As with all things we long for--we never really understand all the aspects of it--we imagine things in only the best way.  A baby cooing in our arms rather than the colicky one that keeps us up all night with their screams.  Holding our toddler by his tiny hand as we stroll through the zoo marveling at all of the wonderful creations rather than the head strong tantrum-throwing two-year-old that you find yourself locked in a battle of wills with.  The elementary school years full of creative craft-adorned classrooms, hard working and learning well rather than the belligerent tear-infested mess of mean kids, school desks stuffed full of chaos, lost homework and weary looking teachers.  I believe I was a much better parent before I actually became one.

Super Rock Star and I often marvel at our two little wonders.  We try to remember what our lives were like before we became parents and for the life of us we can't figure it out.  I honestly don't know what we did for entertainment.  I have never laughed more and smiled so big as I have these past ten years.  For every difficult moment there is an equal if not greater successful moment.  For every tantrum and cross word spoken there are enumerable hugs and kisses and loves.  For every teary-eyed sad moment there is the sound of the sweetest giggles I have every heard.  I never get tired of seeing the look of pride in my husband's eyes when I catch him just enjoying them.  We often lock eyes in those moments.  It's like our remembrance of just how blessed we are.  To say they are our pride and joy is a VAST understatement.  We fully grasp the great gifts we have been given and neither of us ever wants to squander the enormous responsibility that we have been given to raise these beautiful boys into the men God created them to be.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there that have been privileged and blessed to be a part of this wonderful thing called Motherhood--the "seasoned" mothers, the "new" mothers, and the "soon-to-be" mothers. We are so lucky to get to have such an honor.  And for my precious "longing-to-be" mother's--you have my deepest care-- as I know your ache so well.  But, more importantly, God knows your ache.  He sees your tears.  He cares so much about your longing.  I will pray for you the same prayer that I prayed for myself all those years ago --that God would fulfill your longing or remove your longing.  I pray He will give you your hearts desire very soon.

God bless you all!