Friday, June 26, 2009

Christmas Sanity Plan - Part 6

Here it is, nearing June 30 and I’ve done nothing this month towards my goal of having a sane Christmas. And here’s the problem, I don’t know what to do. Last month I made a plan for the people I was going to focus on each month as the year progresses. This month was supposed to be the month I picked stuff up for my niece and nephews. Then I remembered that to do so would involve calling their parents to see what they would like for Christmas. The truth is, I usually get gift certificates for them but I like to know what their current interests are before I mess that up too badly. Let’s face it, older kids present more of a challenge in the gift giving arena.

What I generally do is call my sister-in-laws sometime in October for suggestions. If I call now, they’ll scoff at me and since I don’t care to be scoffed at, I’ll wait a bit, but not until October. Side note to my dear sister-in-laws: start gathering ideas now.

So, here’s my current plan for June. I’m going to review the list of names that I created in January of the people for whom I wanted to bless this year. I’m going to see what still needs to be done.

And, I’m going to ask you, my blog readers, for suggestions. I specifically like to bless the wives of our pastors each year. First off, most of them are my friends, too, but even if they weren’t I’d want to do something for them. Maybe it’s because one of my best friends is a pastor’s wife, I don’t know, but I have a special place in my heart for them. It isn’t an easy job. I won’t elaborate, but seriously, I think those girls deserve a little something extra for the support they give their husbands.

So, if you could help me with suggestions, I’d be most grateful; even (and by that I mean especially) if you are the wife of a pastor. In fact, if you have great Christmas suggestions for anyone, I’d love to hear them. Maybe it’s the heat, but my creative juices seem to be clogged.

Friday, June 19, 2009

27 Years of Funny!

Twenty-seven years ago tonight, I gave birth to our second son, Adam. I still don’t know where the years all went but then again, I find myself saying that quite often these days. . . . about almost everything.

From the moment he was born, Adam was easy to please. He never asks for much (though his wish lists have changed remarkably since he bought a house), and he’s generally been a pretty cheerful kid.

One thing though, that Adam struggled with as a kid was talking. What I should say is that he struggled with not talking; clearly a trait that he acquired from his father. At first we weren’t too concerned, but by the time he was two and a half, we sought advice.

Eventually, Adam landed in speech therapy. As you might expect, speech therapists play games with the kids to help them learn how to talk, and pronounce words properly. The whole process is really quite amazing.

One day, Adam’s speech teacher showed him a picture of a woman, slightly bent with a wet mop in her hands, and a bucket off to her side. She says to my adorable three-year-old, “What is this woman doing, Adam?” “I don’t know,” he replies. The speech teacher thinks Adam isn’t cooperating and says, “come on, Adam, you know what she’s doing.” “No I don’t,” he answers again. At this point the speech teacher, I’m sure, is concerned about how bright this child really is and says, “She’s mopping the floor, Adam. Your mom mops the floor, doesn’t she?” To which my sweet son earnestly replies “No, my mom never mops the floor.”

As you can imagine, the speech teacher had some questions for me when I picked Adam up that day. I was mortified that this woman thought I never cleaned the floors, but I assured her that Adam, had indeed, told the truth. He had never seen me mop the floor in such a manner. While I did make a practice of keeping my floors clean, I didn’t own a mop. I’ve always felt that a floor gets much cleaner if you get down with a bucket and a rag and put a little elbow grease into it. And, since I was younger then, that’s how I cleaned my floors. Of course, this was a job that I saved for nap time because a three-year-old and a bucket full of water just isn’t a good combination when cleaning is your goal.

I still laugh though at the thought of Adam looking at the speech teacher and essentially saying, “I have no idea what that woman is doing.”

If you still have small children you are well aware that they all do funny stuff. And, I’m sure you’ve had people tell you to write down those funny ms before you forget. But, when you are right in the middle of diapers, mounds of laundry, and keeping the floors clean, writing down funny stories doesn’t seem to take precedence. And besides, you reason, how could I ever forget something so cute? But amazingly enough, those old people are right. You do forget. You don’t forget them all, but you forget a lot. And then one day your little one is 27 and you wonder why you didn’t write it all down.

I’m excited to be spending Adam’s birthday weekend with him at his new (for he and Heidi, at least) home. Maybe he’ll say something funny. If he does, you can be sure I’ll write it down.

Happy birthday, my son. I love you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Not the Age, It's the Picture!

Today is my birthday. Normally, I don’t mind having a birthday because, after all, if I didn’t have birthdays, well, I’d be dead. But, I dread my birthday on the years that my driver’s license is up for renewal. Ugh, I hate the whole process. First, you have to write down your weight. Only the skinny girls like that. And then, there is the picture. No matter how you try, they never look good.

I got my “your driver’s license is due for renewal notice” about three months ago, but of course, I thought I’d wait until closer to the day. Finally, I could put it off no longer so I spent an exorbitant amount of time doing my hair and putting on my makeup. I found just the right outfit, even though I knew that only the neckline would show up in the picture. I even wore my shoes with higher than ordinary heels, simply because they make me feel thinner. I figured this would make the number I put down for my weight look more believable. It’s highly possible that I could actually hit that weight before my license is up for renewal again and I want it to be accurate when that day arrives.

So, feeling as confident as I possibly could, I set off to renew my license. One of the advantages of living in Cannon Falls is that the line at the License Center is short, meaning there is usually no one in front of you. I like that. But, I knew there could possibly be a problem because John got his license renewed in February and he wasn’t allowed to smile. That would not work for me.

Sure enough, I got to the License Center and the lady behind the counter informed me that Minnesota is one of the first four states to roll out a “no smile” rule. Just my luck. I tried to reason with her and tell her I had friends who recently renewed their licenses in Eagan (MN) where they were allowed to smile. Apparently, she was aware of the Eagan License Center’s rebellious streak and said I was welcome to go there. The problem is, Eagan has lines. . . .long lines. And, I was fast approaching my license expiration date. So, I agreed to the no smile picture, but not before I found out the reasoning. (I’m generally amiable to the rules once I understand them, AND if I think the rule makes sense.)

It seems the new “no smile rule” comes from the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, it’s easier to do “facial mapping” if the person isn’t smiling. So, should I decide to take on a different persona in another state, or another country, they’ll be able to figure out that I’m trying to pull off a double identity scheme. Oh please, I hardly have time to live my own life, much less create a totally new one somewhere else. And here’s my question; couldn’t they just take a “no smiling” picture of me, send it to Homeland Security, and let me have a decent picture on my license?

The License Center clerk could not have been nicer. She very generously took at least six pictures of me in an effort to get one that would be acceptable. Eagan License Center wouldn’t have done that. She even offered tips on how to get a better photo. We laughed a lot and ended up with a picture that looks like I just bit into a lemon but I’m trying to hide my disdain. The good news is that my hair is perfect. There is always a bright side.

Maybe in four years, once the Department of Homeland Security has “no smiling pictures” of every one, they’ll let me go back to smiling. Everybody looks better when they smile.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Layers - Book Review

I have always loved Christian recording artist, and now author/speaker, Sandi Patty. Her voice is amazing and her love for the Lord shines in her eyes as she speaks. In fact, for a long time, I wanted to be just like her. I could think of nothing better than to be on stage singing and sharing about my love for Jesus. But, as is always the case when you idolize someone else’s life, you eventually learn they too, have their share of “stuff.” And, guess what, Sandi’s life is just that; full of life’s tough situations, sin, and God’s redeeming love.

I recently finished reading Sandi’s book, Layers. The book’s subtitle, Uncovering and Celebrating God’s Original Idea of You, pretty much sums up the book. Hmmm…imagine that. Do you suppose they plan that?

Sandi shares with the reader a part of her painful past, her mistakes, and how God is helping her peel back the layers and find her way to the woman God created her to be. She encourages us to see ourselves the way God sees us, beautiful and loved by Him.

Sandi talks a lot in this book about choices. She shares how when she looks in the mirror she can choose to see herself with “Sandi’s eyes”, as “an overweight woman with a puffy face and droopy flesh” or she can choose to see, and “be the reflection of His grace and His love.”

We have choices to make every day; how we are going to deal with our boss, our kids, our spouse, a tough situation, etc. Sandi shares the story of a mother and son who consistently chose the wrong path. They eventually got on the right track but Sandi said this of their time struggling through life. “In every situation, they were one choice away from heading in the right direction . . . or turning down Hard-Lesson Lane.”

Layers is full of lessons, some of which Sandi had to learn the hard way. It’s an easy read, unless, of course, you have some layers that need to be peeled away. But it’ll be worth your time. Peeling away layers is always painful, (think how the poor onion feels) but it’s always worth the effort.

Sandi ended the book by sharing some scripture verses that have helped her as she peeled back some destructive layers in her own life. Zephaniah 3:17 is not only one of her favorite verses, it’s also one of mine. “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Monday, June 8, 2009

No Bugs - One of Many Advantages to the Cold Weather

I attended a wedding on Saturday. The bride and groom have been planning for months. It was to be a simple, small wedding at a little church, followed by a reception at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. Leading up to the wedding we had a week of the nicest weather that Minnesota has to offer; low 70’s, sunshine, no humidity. In short, PERFECT wedding weather. But, about 9:00 on Friday night, the temperature started to plummet. All of us in southern Minnesota arose on Saturday morning to temps in the 50’s, and rain; lots and lots of rain.

I thought I packed well for the reception. I had my long underwear on, tops and bottoms, my long, heavy, wool winter coat, two umbrellas (one for each of us), and a blanket to lay on the cold benches. Surely, this would keep me warm. And, I can truthfully say, I was the best prepared of the group (at least I’d picked up a few tips from the many years I sat and watched tennis matches in April and May.) But, it wasn’t enough. It was just bone chilling cold. Nonetheless, the bride and groom were thrilled to be married, and we all laughed at the unusual weather we were experiencing. Better to have a smile freeze on your face, than a frown, right?

On Sunday, when we woke up to more of the same, I decided that creating a list of the positive aspects of the cold weather would keep me from, you know, too much whining. So, here is my list.

* No bugs.

* You won’t be expected to have the lawn mown regardless of how long the grass is.

* It’s a great day to curl up and read a book.

* If you are like me, and your winter clothes are still in your main closet, you now have another chance to wear them.

* The plants that just didn’t seem to be getting enough water, regardless of your efforts, are now breathing a sigh of relief.

* No bugs.

* It’s a great day to do the laundry. As an added bonus, the dryer can heat the house.

* This is perfect napping weather.

* You could make a fire (or turn your fireplace on), put in a Christmas video and work on your Christmas Sanity Plan. Or, you could just sit there, with your sweetheart and enjoy a romantic evening.

* And, if you are ready to brave the chilling temps, you’ll find the weeds are easier to pull after the rain. Again, bug free!

Now, if I could just get someone to explain this whole global warming issue to me again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Advice From My Younger Self

“If you, as your younger self, could offer one piece of advice to the person you are now, knowing what you now know, what would that advice be?” This is the question I heard today, posed by Lisa Barry, an announcer on the local Christian radio station. My immediate answer was “BACK AWAY FROM THE COOKIES,” but then I realized she was probably thinking about something a little deeper than that, so I tried to concentrate (on the question, not on the cookies.)

Then, I wondered what it would have been that would have convinced me NOT to eat so many cookies, and breads, and pretty much anything but vegetables. Maybe, I thought, it would be knowing how very much God loves me and that He thinks I’m amazing. Well, that is a possibility that might have solved the cookie issue, but I’m not sure it would be the ONE thing that my younger self would tell me. So, I kept thinking. (Who knew that this one question would tie up my mind for so long?)

I then decided that the one piece of advice from my younger self would have to be a long, run on sentence so that I could get the whole concept communicated properly. I decided that I’d have to tell my “older self” to just settle. Settle in and wait for God to lead you to the next path for your life. Know that THIS time has a purpose. Don’t try to figure out what is next, just WAIT. Know that whatever God asks of you, He will equip you to do. Don’t worry if you think you are too young, too old, too tall, too short, too thin, too fat, or not pretty enough. Just seek God, listen to what He tells you to do, and do it.

It sounds easy, but really, it’s what I struggle with on a regular basis. I’m pretty much a type A personality; actually more like an A- (a true type A would never have a desk as messy as mine.) If I could, I would have my entire year planned out in advance. Though I try hard not to be, I’m really kind of a control freak (and yes, to those of you who know me, I can hear you saying “admitting it is the first step, Nancy.”) I’m better now, because I’ve been working on it, but I’ll admit, I still get freaked if I don’t at least know part of the plan. So, for now, I’m learning to settle in and wait.

And, as I wait, I can be sure that there is indeed a plan. Jeremiah 29:11 – 13 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I love that!