Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!
The Donahue Crew
Don & Laura Lyn
Cara (11), Brennan (11), Eliza (9), and Baker (14)

The old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun," applies well to the Donahue Crew. Although we've had our fair share of not-so-fun-moments, the joy of being a parent to four precious children is what makes the years pass so quickly. Children grow in the blink of an eye, and the years get shorter as I grow older. It seems as though it was yesterday when I was holding my first-born child in my arms. That was 14 years ago.

As a family, throughout 2009, we have experienced many highs and lows. God has carried us through both. It has been a tough year, and 2009 bookends a decade of desert experiences that we are the better for having walked through -- albeit sometimes just barely dragging. God has sustained us through the tumultuous demise of the music industry (thanks in part to digital downloading), the close of a hard-fought business, failed promises, business venture after business venture collapsing, a savings squandered by a selfish man, a rapid decline in income and many other life-challenges that intensified our need for a gracious God.

Praise Him that He is indeed that: Gracious. Never does His love waiver. He is our Sustainer and continues to carry us through the close of 2009 and on into a new decade.

While there have been rough waters, there has been an oasis or two (or three or four :) here and there. God never let us go without food, shelter or clothing, and He opened our eyes wider to the beautiful children we have been entrusted to raise, nurture, teach and, above all, love with all of our hearts.

Baker #24 for the GMS Generals

This fall, Baker began playing football for the Grassland Generals. In the past, he played for the Franklin Cowboys, our county league, and has been waiting with baited-breath to join the Generals Varsity Team. Baker started as cornerback and occasionally played on the kickoff team. I loved watching him on the field and building a comradery with the other football parents. To say that Baker was ecstatic over playing footfall would be an understatement. Baker engrossed himself in not just football but in becoming a trusted teammate, a well-mannered young man and a leader on and off of the field. Later this fall, Baker went on to wrestle for GMS and discovered that he had a natural talent for the sport... following in the footsteps of his uncles. At the end of the season, the Generals placed #1 in Williamson county and Baker placed #2 in his weight class. Wow! I am so proud of him and the joy that his participation in sports has brought not only to him but to Don and me as well. What I am most proud of, though, is the fact that Don and I were blessed by unsolicited compliments from friends, parents of teammates and faculty on behalf of Baker, his kindness and his joy... joy unspeakable, an oasis.

Brennan at the Mizzou Campus

Brennan is our "joy boy." His eyes dance; his feet dance; his whole presence exudes joy. Brennan is very talented musically. We knew he had talent, but this spring, he combined his talent for playing instruments with his knack for being very funny. Brennan learned to play the recorder (not a flute!) very well. Brennan learned to play two recorders at the same time very well. As a matter of fact, Brennan taught himself to play the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from the Lion King... not just the traditional way with the mouth, but in a very non-traditional way with a recorder poised in each nostril. Talk about joy! I don't know when I've laughed as hard as I did when he first showed me this skill!
(The video is posted on my FaceBook page if you want to see it)  Undoubtedly, Brennan is our comedian. He's unafraid of a crowd and loves to perform. I am so proud of him and his musical talents. This fall he expanded his repertoire to the trumpet. While he can't manage to play the trumpet (much less two trumpets) through his nose, he does a very good job playing the traditional. Not only is Brennan talented musically, but he has a tender heart and often gives me a beautiful smile or hug to add joy to my day. Brennan certainly salted and peppered our 2009 with his gift of being our joy boy, an oasis...

Cara @ Nana & GranMan's

Cara is Brennan's (younger :-) twin sister. However, she maintains and sustains her own individual identity. Cara is beautiful and talented. She is a top-notch student, a great help to her teachers and a wonderful daughter. This year at my 40th birthday party, all of the children gave me wonderful, sentimental, funny and thoughtful toasts in front of my birthday crowd. At the end of the evening when most of the guests were gone and just a few of us lingering in the kitchen, Cara came to me and showed me a song that she had written JUST for me... talk about joy overflowing (tears, tears, tears). Of course, I asked Cara to sing it for me. Cara has an amazing and beautiful voice. I don't have the complete song on video, but below are the lyrics:

YOU  by Cara Donahue

Did you ever stop
Stop to wonder
About life
Beyond down under

The things that make
People smile
The things that take
A long while

Did you ever stop to see what makes me laugh
What makes me smile

It's YOU
Your brighten my day
Make it special in your own way

Shine a light on those darker things
Shine a light on every human being

Now you see
Why everyone
Has their own
Battle that they've won

You encouraged all of us
To fight until we've won

You helped us see
The brighter path
The path that'll make
Our future last

You make each second worth it all
Never again will I think to fall

It's YOU
Your brighten my day
Make it special in your own way

Shine a light on those darker things
Shine a light on every human being

© 2009

This fall, Cara sang YOU at Open Mic Night at school. She sang acapella, with confidence and with joy. I am so proud of her, and her expressions of love from the heart, the heart of my very own daughter -- my flesh and blood...  a joyful song, an oasis...

Eliza & My Dad @ Rosemary Beach, FL

Eliza is the "baby" of the family. It's getting harder and harder to see her as a baby anymore, though. She is growing as fast as the other 3. On Easter morning of this year, Eliza was baptized in the Gulf of Mexico by my dad. The joy of seeing your child born again, is indeed holy and of the Divine. As I watched my dad hold Eliza's hand and walk into the ocean, the tears streamed down my face. Dad held Eliza, tipped her back, baptized her in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and raised her to newness of Life... and the waves gently crashing on the shore echoed the same... washed by the blood of the Lamb. Spotless. White as new-fallen snow. She came running out of the water and threw her arms around Don. My heart was filled with joy to watch Eliza as she decided that she wanted to express her love for Jesus in a public way. I don't know that there could have been a more beautiful setting than that Easter morning at the beach. Eliza is our quiet-spirit but will surprise you with unabashed personality when you least expect it. Eliza is very conscientious. She is a hard worker, a wonderful helper and a true blessing. Her outward expression of faith this April brought a holy joy to my heart, an oasis...

Don @ Rosemary Beach, FL

Don, my husband of 16 years, is the love of my life, my soulmate. My heart swells with joy when I see him smile at me. I am so proud of Don and the way he has carried himself and our family through the uncertainty of 2009. Never once did Don's love for God and confidence in His ability to provide waiver. I know as a husband and provider, there were difficult stretches and dry deserts that he walked through. Yet, he never walked alone, and he always walked with his heavenly Father. I am so very proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his career... setting him up for his current, full-time job. We are so blessed to close 2009 and begin 2010 with a new job, insurance benefits and steady income. I received joy in the journey because of Don's love and endurance despite our circumstances. In June, Don expressed his love for me in a way that will truly remain imprinted on my heart forever. He planned and arranged a beautiful 40th birthday party for me on the hill in our own backyard, overlooking the sunset. He worked so hard hanging icicle lights in the trees, arranging catering, setting up tables, renting enormous fans to keep our guests cool, preparing the stage set for Two Birds in Love (our favorite singing duo, husband and wife, Jan & Chris Harris) and surprising me with my best friend from college and another dear friend. Kay flew in from Orlando and Janis flew in from Kansas City. I was blown away. Don then sent us out for a day of shopping and mani/pedis! I felt like a princess, a new bride. The love of my husband, whether it's an elaborate party or a knowing smile from across the room, is pure joy, an oasis...

The Donahue Crew @ Rosemary Beach

I am proud to strive to be the woman that God has called me to be... daughter, wife, mother and friend. He is faithful to provide in the desert and in the land of milk and honey. We need Him in every season. Often, it's when we are wandering in the desert that we realize the significance of His love for us. Sometimes we need the desert to redirect our attention to the God who loves us and sustains us in all circumstances. While I would not choose my desert for you, and you would not choose your desert for me, I do know that we are better people for having traveled the dusty road through the wilderness.

I have learned the significance of finding joy in all of our experiences and of giving "thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus." (I Thes. 5:18). God is the Lover of my soul. He is my refuge. He is my comfort. He is my strength. I am His beloved, and He is mine... everlasting joy, never-ending oasis.

Merry Christmas to our friends and relatives. We wish you perfect joy that only the Father can provide from one decade into another, from now until forever...

My Fabulous Four... filled with JOY!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas All Year Long...

My parents are a beautiful couple... not just on the outside but on the inside where it counts the most. I don't know of two more generous people. I'm sure there are some who give more monetarily, but I don't know that many, if any, could compare to the heart and soul that my parents give without reservation and with delight.

With the economy in shambles, unemployment at 1 person in every 10 and health insurance barely scratching the surface of caring for those in need, it's a wonder any of us has room to give. Obviously, the most meaningful giving doesn't come when incomes are high and the grass is vibrant green. Giving becomes the most colorful when it comes during hard times... in spite of the economy and all of the externals stacked against us. When we give in desperate times, we are giving because we want to, not because we should or because we feel we have to.

Our gifts of time, money and resources are more thoughtful when we have to consider the consequences of our sacrifice. It is indeed "better to give than to receive," but how difficult is it to give when we have been receiving barely enough to get by ourselves (if that)? I think at this juncture, it's imperative to consider what we do have to give and realize that the gift of money is not always the answer to the pain or to the need.

I don't want to take away the significance of monetary gifts. Obviously, we live in a world where most resources come at a price. Without financial donations, many of us would not be in a healthy enough condition to give anything. It is true that "money makes the world go 'round" in the sense of our economy. It is the nature of living in an imperfect world, but just because money is needed, it does not make it the "be all and the end all" for giving.

It is true that my husband and I also need money to take care of our food, shelter and clothing. This is an obvious and undeniable truth, and I am grateful for the monetary blessings we receive. However, over the last few years, the gifts of the heart have become the most abundant gifts I have ever received... gifts that keep on giving in an endless supply and without regard to a price tag.

My parents, at age 65+, have never ceased to give heart, soul, strength, mind and money. When there doesn't seem to be enough financial resources, there is a never ending supply of heart resources. While Mom and Dad reach out to the community and to family in ways that astound me, I am particularly focused on the blessing of how they have reached out to my family this year.

2009 is significant for us because of our own unemployment, lack of quality insurance, our own "Madof" scandal, etc., Don and I have been wandering in a very dry desert for the last several years, and the enemy has used many measures of attack; however, not once have my parents refrained from helping, and it's not the gifts of money that have left the lasting impressions... 

My parents have been so generous to our family throughout 2009, not to mention always, but they have given way above and way beyond, this year in particular. We are so grateful. We do not need presents under the tree this Christmas. We have EVERYTHING we could ever want or need.

When we needed extra support, my parents stepped up to the plate without blinking an eye. Mom and Dad's generosity afforded us some wonderful experiences this year including an extended family trip to Florida, their own sweat and muscle power (not to mention aching backs) to help landscape our home, shopping outings, special lunches during the week, family dinners out to eat, Sunday night meals together and so much more.

More than the monetary, though, Mom and Dad have blessed us with beautiful memories of being together as an extended family--a gift that Don, the children and I will cherish forever... Permanent pictures imprinted on our hearts and in our photo books. My parents are always ready to go and ready to engage. We love that quality about them -- individually and as a couple. They are an inspiration.

That said, however, the most significant gift that my parents gave us this year was their willingness to sit down with us and counsel us through a difficult decision and a tiring season of life. One day in particular proved to be a turning point for us. We have marked this Fall day in 2009 as a day of empowerment, confidence and support -- none of which could be bought at any price. We will forever remember that day, perhaps even as an altar in our desert -- a cold cup of water, an oasis, a breath of fresh air.

Gifts of the heart are costlier than gifts of gold and the reward is greater. The MasterCard commercial so ironically juxtaposes monetary gifts against personal experiences as "priceless". 

My parents gifts have been, and continue to be, exactly that for us: Priceless. 

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being Christmas all year long.

I love you both with all of my heart.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This Thanksgiving while gathered around my parent's dining room table, our group of 20 held hands and spoke one-by-one about what each of us is thankful for. There were so many wonderful, heart-felt blessings shared. Every year I am amazed by how thoughtful each contribution is. I believe we spent about 45 minutes making it around the table.

While 45 minutes may seem a long time to talk about what we're thankful for, truly it is a short amount of time in the grand scheme of the blessings that we have been given. I suppose we could have spent the better part of the holiday weekend expressing our thanksgiving. This tradition of sharing is a beloved one to me, and I am prayerful that I will remember to daily give thanks for all of my blessings.

This year, as the circle rounded to me, I shared my thanksgiving with the table. Of course, I am thankful for my dear husband, my precious children, my sweet parents and brothers and my extended family... sometimes those are considered "givens", but I never want to leave out the special people in my life... none of us does. Family is a treasure to be thankful for, especially the tie that binds us all -- Jesus Christ.

So, having talked about my love and appreciation for my family, I had already decided that there was one attribute that I wanted to expound upon --character. Don had mentioned character in his thanksgiving right before me, which actually solidified my decision.

This calendar year the blessing of character has been overwhelming, especially where my children are concerned. My oldest, Baker, is continually commended for his politeness, positive attitude, smile, good sportsmanship and love for Christ. Of course, I am not always privy to the compliments; however, this year in particular, Don and I have repeatedly been made aware of Baker's character -- through emails from coaches and friends and in person from the same, some even strangers.

As a mother, a parent, I cannot think of a greater blessing than to have my children praised for their character -- especially when I know it is not of me but of my heavenly Father. While I have never considered that "character" would be something I would be extraordinarily thankful for, I don't know that I could have known its complete significance until it my attention was drawn to it by those that I barely know... so compelling is the gift of character, that even strangers took the time to point it out to me.

Of course, I am proud of all of my children, and each one of them receives compliments in regard to character. I pointed Baker out in particular because of his role as the eldest child. Don and I have reminded Baker that he is laying a foundation for his siblings... he is carving a path and a reputation for the Donahue name. I am so blessed by how he has "stepped up" to this calling because of his character.

We have praised Brennan, Cara and Eliza for continuing in the path of character. I believe that character connotes trust and builds relationship and thus provides endless opportunities for us to shine like bright stars in the universe. God has called us to be men and women of character.

There was and never will be anyone who exhibits the gift and quality of character like our Savior, Jesus Christ. His example is perfect. For us to follow in His path is great indeed. Graciously, when we stray from the path, His loving arms beckon us back into His love and onto the narrow road... laden with character, strength, honor, love, forgiveness, gentleness, grace, joy and all that is considered right and good in His eyes.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord... with character.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Not Just Turkey Talk...

Thanksgiving at my mom's table, is, first and foremost, a time for reflecting and for giving thanks for our blessings. Every year, we stand holding hands in a circle around the dining room table. From person-to-person, each of us shares something that he or she is thankful for. Tears of joy and gratitude are shared, hearts are open and love fills the room to a palpable level. While sharing can make our invited guests a bit nervous :>), inevitably, blessing occurs for everyone present. The children even participate and are often the ones who shed tears because of their tender, vulnerable hearts.
We end our time of sharing with a reflection and scripture from Mom while Dad closes us in a prayer of thanks.

This Thanksgiving, I want to share with each of you how thankful I am for how you have touched my life in one way or another. While I won't be able to look each of you in the eye around the Thanksgiving table, I do want to personally thank you for the gift that each of you is to me -- whether you're a friend, relative, stranger, blog follower.

God called us all together for a reason. Each of you is uniquely and divinely made; called according to His purposes in Christ Jesus, bought with a price and branded with His love, which does not change like the shifting shadows or the changing seasons. No matter our condition, God's promise is Love without condition.

I pray that each one of you will take time this Thanksgiving to recount your blessings, to spend time in Sabbath and rest, to mend broken relationships, to get lost or to be found, to pay attention, to wake up to God, to be comfortable in your skin, to walk on the Earth, to encounter others, to live with purpose and to be grateful for a Love that will NOT let you go.

Life is about more than turkey... even tho the turkey is really yummy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

What do you do?

A few months ago, I guess it could have been a year now, anyway... a while back,  Cara asked me to fill out a  parent/daughter questionnaire. It was in the vein of "how much do you know about me."

The questionnaire came compliments of the American Girl Magazine -- great magazine, by the way. Cara loves interaction, activities, anything that promotes togetherness. She's very bright, creative and fun to be with.

At any rate, Cara had this "get to know you" questionnaire, and one night before bed, she asked me if we could do it together. So, I climbed up onto Cara's bed, and she handed me my form while she held hers.

The point was to fill in the blanks about the other person in order to discover how much you really knew about her. Some of the questions were: What is your daughter/parent's dream destination? What is your daughter/parent's favorite color?  Who is your daughter/parent's hero? What does your daughter want to be when she grows up?, and the corresponding question to "what does your daughter want to be when she grows up" was on Cara's form, and read, "What is your parent's occupation?"

I glanced over the questions, and Cara and I lay on her bed with pens in hand, surveys ready. When we finished answering the questions, we went back and forth telling each other what we had written down for the other. Cara knew that my dream destination is Hawaii. I knew that Cara's dream destination is New York. We both did a pretty good job getting our answers right. We know each other pretty well :>) We also learned a little about each other too.

That said, in regard to the question: "What is your parent's occupation?" Cara wrote the word "nothing"! WHAT!!? NOTHING?! For a second, I was speechless, a little hurt and definitely feeling under appreciated. I decided, though, to use this as a "teachable moment."

I explained to Cara that my occupation is a mother. Being a mother is a job, and it's very important. Cara replied, "Mom, that's not a real job!" Oh, boy. My blood started to boil, and I'm sure my face was beat red with anger and confusion (how could she not know that "mom" is a job). Instead of getting angry, though, I decided that I must not be doing a very good job at my job... at least not in communicating the significance of mom.

So, Cara sat and listened while I explained the importance and significance of being a mom. I told Cara, "Honey, being a mom is a full-time job. It's not a job you get money for, but it's a job that continues for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week -- forever. Once a mom... always a mom." I described the hats that I wear to Cara. I'm a cook, a housekeeper, a taxi driver, a listener, a doctor (of sorts), a dog trainer, a lunch maker, a gardener, a decorator, a laundress (on occasion, as Don really does the wash), a mender of the broken-hearted, a travel agent, a buyer (clothes, groceries, etc.), an activity planner... I could go on and on. It didn't take long for Cara to get the point.

While I know that Cara's intentions weren't to slight me and my position as a mom, I did want her to understand the undeniable significance of being a mother, the value in staying home to raise the kids. My salary is not monetary. My benefits are not $10 co-pays.

As a mom I earn a "salary" in terms of my children's welfare and well being, how each adjusts in society and how each treats others, and ultimately what kind of men/women each turns out to be (at least to some extent). As a mom, it is my job to raise my children into adulthood, and I want to do it with intentionality, compassion, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, honor, goodness, respect, all the while teaching each one life lessons and and how to learn from our mistakes, hardships, and even heartaches. What job could be more important? What job could have more significance and influence in our society? There is no comparison.

My benefits as a mom include hugs and kisses, the "I love you's" at 18 months, 8, 18, 28 and beyond. They also include precious time together -- walks, talks, and, yes, even surveys and questionnaires! The benefits go way beyond even my ability to imagine them. The benefits are endless and incomparable.

I told Cara that my dream job as a little girl was to be a mom. Many women have careers in addition to their careers as moms; however, I'm only talking about me here. "So," I told Cara, "I'm living my dream." I'm blessed beyond measure, beyond understanding, beyond belief. Truly my cup runneth over when all things good and bad are considered.

As moms, we take the good with the bad, the beautiful with the ugly, the impossible with the possible. The profession of mom is no less valuable than the profession of doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief, :>)etc. The job of mom is a lifetime of commitment and, for me, a dream come true.

Cara and I chatted a little more, finished revealing our survey results and hugged each other while I tucked her in bed (benefits!) Before I left, though, Cara said, "Mom, I was going to put FaceBook as your job." WHAT?!

That's a whole 'nother story...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sing Jesus

When Baker was 2, we lived with my parents. I was pregnant with the twins, and we were in the process of building a new house. It's a blessing that my parents live so close and are so involved in the lives of our children. Living with Mom and Dad at the time was like a cool drink of water, especially after the twins were born. I needed the help more than I could have imagined.

During these 3 months, Mom often put Baker to bed. He slept in what was my brother, Christian's room, and is now my dad's office. In the room was an antique brass bed with plaid and denim bedding. The bed was positioned between two windows both dressed with brown wooden cafe shutters. In the middle of the room was an area rug that warmed up the honey colored wide-planked floor.

Baker loved his room. It was his own. Next to Baker's bed was a wooden rocking chair. The chair belonged to my grandmother. This rocking chair "personified" the idea of a rocking chair with its wooden spindles, hard wooden seat and creaky rockers.

In Baker's two short years, I had sung to him almost every night. My favorite songs to sing were hymns and songs that I learned at church and in Sunday school. For some reason, in those evening hours while holding my baby, the songs would flood to my mind, and I would sing and sing... actually, taking joy in the remembering. Songs like "Blessed be the Tie that Binds", "A Fountain Free", "There is a Balm in Gilead", "Amazing Grace", "This is My Father's World" and "When We all Get to Heaven" would be some that came and went in my evening musical montage.

One song, however, that became a mainstay was the simple, "Jesus Loves Me This I Know." The lyrics go like this:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Baker absolutely loved this song. If I forgot to sing it, Baker was sure to remind me.

One stormy night, the rain was hitting the windows on either side of Baker's bed, and there was thunder and lightening that woke Baker up. He was afraid and began calling for me. I didn't hear him. I'm sure I was in a pregnancy-induced coma. Mom did hear Baker, however, and she went into his room to comfort him.

Mom picked Baker up out of his bed and slipped into the wooden rocking chair. As Mom began to rock, Baker said, "Nana, sing Jesus. Sing Jesus, Nana." Baker wanted her to sing "Jesus Loves Me"... a hint of the familiar and a reminder of the comfort that the name of Jesus brings.

I loved hearing Mom recount that story. Such a simple song, such simple lyrics -- simple yet loaded. Don't we all need someone in our lives who "sings Jesus" over us? Don't we all need to be reminded of how much Jesus loves us? In those words, we find rest and comfort.

Jesus' love is unconditional. Jesus is Love. Jesus Loves Me. The Bible tells me so.

Go "sing Jesus" over someone today...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where I am...

In the summer of 2008 when gas prices had risen to unconscionable heights, I decided that we should go more places on foot. There are only a handful of places near our home that we can walk to and from without completely wearing ourselves out.

There is a grocery store, a drug store, a couple of restaurants, a dry cleaning service, etc. all within easy walking distance. That summer, though, I had enrolled the kids in a Vacation Bible School about 2 miles from our home.

While I wasn't expecting to save much gas by walking to a VBS only 2 miles away, I did decide that it was a good opportunity to teach a principle to the kids. So, we began our walk to the church... mama bird with 4 kids in tow.

It was only June, so the summer had not reached sweltering temperatures yet, and our walk was fairly nice. After having walked a mile, the church was in sight.

Brennan decided that he wanted to run the rest of the way. He was ready to get there I suppose.

Anyway, before he started running, he looked at me and said, "Mom, you know how I can run that far?"
I answered, "How, Brennan?" Brennan said, "Instead of looking ahead at how far I have to go, I keep my eyes focused on where I am and remember how far I've already come." Then he took off!

HELLO?! Well, his words floored me. While I know he was talking literal, the application of those words to the abstract and life, was undeniable. There are few spoken words that move me. Brennan's words that morning really sunk in.

Ironically, I thought that I was taking the kids on a walk to teach them a little about being green and conserving energy. Instead, my kid was taking ME on a walk to teach ME a lot about life and focus.

Often, I find myself wondering about the future, not necessarily worrying, but wondering just the same. That's a lot of energy to spend on what has yet to happen (or not happen). Living in the moment... the moment that God has given me... is really where He wants me to remain.

Nothing is in my control, really. God is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Now and the Not Yet, the Seen and the Unseen. God has designed a future for each one of us, and with that future, He has promised us a purpose. He has promised not to harm us, and He has promised to lead us.

With the leading, there must be following. Where am I? Am I trying to lead rather than staying focused on where God has me right this very minute? He wants me where I am today, not where I hope to be tomorrow.

If He has me today, in this moment, then He has all of me. I think I'll stay where I am until He says move.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


One of my favorite things about my home is our view. We live on a westward facing hill with magnificent views of the sunset. I never get tired of watching the sun sink behind the hilltops.

The colors range from muted lavenders to brilliant orange and red. Sometimes the warmth of the colors is so intense that you can not only see the glow, but you can feel the glow inside the house.

The whole house seems to change, light up and take on an almost ethereal feeling.

The children have come to love the sunset as well. Often times, I will hear one of them squeal, come see the sun! I've also had the kids run to get me before I missed the light show.

It's hard for me to not think of the book Prince of Tides when I see the sunset. The children in the story are sitting on the end of the dock with their mom watching the sunset into the water. As the sun disappears into the sea, one of the children exclaims, "Do it again, Mommy. Do it again."

There are many a day when I want to say to the Father, "Do it again, Daddy. Do it again." The sunset from my porch is a constant reminder of God's warmth... His strong arms wrapped around my frail body and soul... radiant, intense, unmistakably the work of the Master's hands.

Several years ago, my house was glowing one evening. The kids, Don and I were all sitting down to dinner when the phone rang.

When I answered the phone, it was my friend, Tammy. Tammy lives several miles away on a hill that faces East and looks right toward my house. Although, our houses were just small dots in the distance, they were, nonetheless, recognizable.

At any rate, Tammy called and said, "What's it like? The sunset... it must be incredible. Your house is glowing." It was incredible that night... so incredible that my friend was moved to call to hear about the beauty. She could see the evidence but not the source.

We walk in a world where sometimes the evidence is all we have. We need others to share their joy and love with us as reminders that our Source is Jesus. The evidence of His hand is everywhere. Sometimes we just have to open our eyes.

I am blessed that God gives me a daily reminder of His presence. I see Him in the sunset. I feel Him. I know He is standing next to me putting on an amazing light show... in that moment, just for me.

"Do it again, Daddy! Do it again."

Friday, September 11, 2009

When I Grow Up, I want to be just like her...

A few evenings back, Cara and I were in my bathroom, and I was straightening her hair for school the next day. While were together having a true mother/daughter experience, Cara began asking me questions.

Cara is very inquisitive and smart. She's always interested in more information than the basic "yes" or "no" answer.

So, as we were getting her all primped, she asked me, "Mom, who's your mentor?"

Cara is 11. Her thoughts run deep, and her questions are often challenging; however, it was not hard for me to answer this particular question.

My response to Cara was, "Nana is my mentor." Hands down... there is no doubt, no need to think about the answer to that question...

Cara's follow-up was "Why is she your mentor?" I went on to explain:

My mom loves Jesus. She is forgiving, loving, patient and kind -- to everyone. Mom is gentle, not easily provoked to anger and is filled to overflowing with her love for her family.

God blessed me with such a mom as this... My mom is now not only my mom, but she is my friend. She is a woman that people of all shapes, sizes, hearts, colors, races, ages, etc. are drawn to. Her friendship is infectious and undemanding. She holds no grudges. Her desire is to serve the Lord with gladness.

In doing so, Mom, is a magnet. People are drawn to her without even knowing why sometimes.

Several years ago in a small group Bible study, we were challenged to bring a friend to the table of communion. Mom and I were in the same group with 6 or 8 other women.

Naturally, when the challenge was posed, I knew that I would choose my mom; however, when the other women also chose Mom, I was, at first, jealous.

Quickly, though, I saw tangible evidence of how other women see her -- young, middle-aged, older, etc... her love for others transcends all.

Mom, in turn, took us all to the table of communion. We circled around and blessed one another.

I do believe that it was in that very moment that I became overwhelmed by my love for her. I was so proud and humbled to be her daughter.

I can only pray that my own daughters will see even a glimpse of my mom in me. She is truly my mentor, my friend and MY mom!

When I grow up, I want to be just like her!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That's What Friends are for...

Do you remember the 1986 hit, "That's What Friends Are For?" The song was originally recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982 and later covered by Dionne Warwick and Friends in 1985. In January 1986, it was #1 for 4 weeks on Billboard's Top 100.

The chorus says:
"Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for"

I mention the song mostly because of an incident from yesterday that I will elaborate on in a minute, but I also mention the song because of its lyric.

Friends are for counting on in the good and bad times. That is what friend's are for. Of course, we do fail as friends, but ultimately, we choose our friends based on his or her ability to love us for who we are.

Sometimes these friends are our spouses, our school mates, our parents or even our children. Sometimes these friends are all of the above.

I don't parent in the style of a "best buds" mentality, but I am flattered that any of my children would consider me a friend because, ultimately, when it's age appropriate, I want to be less a parent and more a friend. Anyway, I digress...

The point here really is my story from yesterday.

Eliza was sitting at the kitchen bar working on her homework. She had become very frustrated and teary-eyed over her math problems. Cara was also in the kitchen and observed the whole incident.

I offered to help Eliza, and she accepted. Her main problem was not having enough room to "show her work" on her worksheet. My suggestion was to use a separate sheet of paper to show her work and turn that in with her worksheet.

She really did need the extra paper to see what she was doing as it involved subtraction, borrowing and carrying on 4 digit numbers top and bottom. Each number in the figure required a borrow and a carry... lots of work.

My extra paper suggestion seemed to help at first, but then she fell apart afraid that it would not be acceptable to her teacher which is not true. However, it was true enough for Eliza that she could no longer accept my help, and I could no longer give it.

We were both totally frustrated, and she was in tears.

Cara, in her wonderful mother/sister voice, chimed in and asked Eliza if she would like her to help. Eliza said yes.

Cara explained that when she was in 3rd grade, math was hard for her to grasp at first. She explained that doing your work on a separate sheet of paper helped a lot (sounds familiar).

Then... she suggested that Eliza STAPLE her work to her worksheet. Well, that was the glue that sealed the deal... stapling was the key to success!

Eliza's eyes dried. She sat up straight and listened to Cara explain how to neatly write her problems on the page, do the figuring, and then transfer the answers to her worksheet.

Cara saved the day for me and for Eliza.

Eliza finished and left the kitchen. I turned to Cara and said, "Thank you so much, honey. You were a huge help. You were able to explain what I couldn't in a way that Eliza totally got. Thank you!"

Cara put her arms around my waist, looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, "That's what friends are for!"

Yes, indeed. That is what friends are for...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Like Your Shape...

Eliza is the baby of the family. At age 9, she's not so much of a baby anymore -- a little sad for me. She's also a self-proclaimed tomboy... much to my chagrin because I love pink, dresses and jewelry... none of which Eliza will don these days.

While I feel like the tomboy stage is a passing phase, it always comes as a sweet surprise when Eliza says or does something feminine... reminding me that she does like being a girl :>)

The other night, Eliza was in my bathroom while I was getting ready for bed. She was chatting with me about her day, and then she looked up and said, "Mom, when I grow up, I wanna be just like you." Wow, I thought. That's the greatest compliment in the world (plus, I'm a girly girl, so maybe she'll end up liking to shop for pink with me :>).

I asked Eliza what she liked about me that would make her want to grow up to be just like me. She said, "Well, you're nice, you're pretty, you always do kind things, and you have a really nice shape." OMG... I wouldn't have dreamed she would mention my "shape." I said, "Eliza, you just made my day. Those were the sweetest words anyone could have ever said to me." She grinned, gave me a kiss, and said, "I love you." I love you too, Eliza!

While I know that Eliza was speaking about the external when she said "I like your shape." I began to think that there was more to the phrase "your shape" especially when considering the other points that Eliza made. She mentioned kindness...

Kindness is a shape from the heart. What kind of "shape" am I in when it relates to how I treat others? How I treat my family? In Eliza's mind, the shape looks pretty good right now, and I'm grateful for her unconditional love. I know, though, that I'm not always exhibiting my best shape everyday.

Eliza is 9. She's still in the "my mommy can do no wrong" phase. I know there is a day that's coming when I'll be wishing that's how she felt. There will be a day when I can hardly do or say anything right in her eyes... when my "shape" may not look as nice as it once did.

However, I have this 9-year-old-moment to treasure and to remind her of one day. Eliza is a beautiful daughter regardless of her dislike for pink, purple, dresses or anything girly. She's the shape she's supposed to be right now... the girl that God has designed her to be both inside and out. She's a blessing...

"Eliza, I like your shape too!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Ruh, Roh, Raggy!"

This morning was CRAZY. I know that I should expect "crazy" with four kids, but for some reason, there are times that the crazy catches up with me and knocks me over the head. This morning there was a lot of head banging going.

I woke at 6am to find the remnants of Baker's brand new, Under Armor football gloves scattered on the floor and couch. Toby, our Boxer "puppy" ate them last night -- both of them. All that was left were the wrist cuffs. I'm not sure where the fingers and palms are... I haven't ventured into the yard to look. Of course, they may not be in the yard at all. Toby has a tendency to swallow things whole.

Cara joined me downstairs at about 6:15 for breakfast. She saw the glove pieces and gasped knowing the seriousness of Baker losing his new gloves to the dog.

When Baker came down at about 6:25, I had to tell him about the gloves. While I could see the tears welling up in his eyes, he tried hard not to show much more than the obvious disappointment. I promised to replace the gloves today. After all, they are his lucky gloves and his school colors.

At 6:30am, I began to get anxious that Brennan was not yet down for breakfast. The bus arrives at 6:40am; so I ran upstairs to see what the holdup was... Brennan was asleep! His alarm was humming a morning melody, and he was snoozing. He scrambled to get up and make it downstairs in time for a quick bite of breakfast.

Unfortunately, for Brennan, he has a tendency to misplace most everything. This morning, he could not find his shoes. With the bus passing and having not had any breakfast, we were at a loss to where his shoes could be. He ended up with flip flops on, 2 peanut butter crackers and a piece of toast in hand and climbed on the bus with tears in his eyes.

Uggghh... two of my four left boarded the yellow school bus with sadness, disappointment and tears.

Not the morning I'd hoped for...

As I sat down to my computer to catch up on emails before Eliza came down, my cell phone gave it's customized "chirping cricket" ring. It was Cara. She had left her agenda at home.

Agendas these days are BIG deals. You are required to carry your agenda at all times in middle school. It's your hall pass, your homework schedule, your key for staying out of trouble.

I'm not in the habit of bringing left items to school, but since it was only the fourth day EVER of middle school for Cara and Brennan, I wanted to help. Thinking I could catch the bus down the hill at this point, I grabbed her agenda and jumped into the car.

I don't know the middle school bus route and didn't have time to look it up. I drove in circles with Cara calling and texting me all the while. Cara, being new to the bus route, didn't know where they were exactly and didn't know the names of any of the streets... she's crying now. I'm angry.

I never found the bus. Instead, I headed to school, waited in the car rider line and met Cara in the parking lot in the pouring rain. However, she was happy. She did mention, though, that Brennan had left his book that he needed at home. Arrgh! Bringing the book to him was not an option at this point.

Arriving home at 7:30am, I was just in time to get Eliza's jelly toast and frog-in-the-hole made, go over her spelling words, unload the dishwasher and get her on the bus.

Thankfully, Eliza left happy and tearless.

Sending 3/4 of my kids to school with tears is not my idea of a good start. However, I am glad that I have 4 kids to send to school. They are my joy (even when I'm angry).

A friend of mine posted on my Face Book page when she saw that Baker's gloves had been eaten by the dog.

She commented "Ruh, Roh, Raggy!" Her comment made me smile and seemed to put things in perspective. Thanks, Charlotte.

Funny how a little Scooby Doo humor put me back in my place... I certainly could have found a Bible verse to regain perspective, but today God used a cartoon dog to make me laugh. He's funny.

In the grand scheme of things, bus chasing is a minor issue and optional. Gloves can be replaced. Agendas, shoes and books can be retrieved later, and tears will dry.

Luckily, the breakfast was portable.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I was remembering a story this morning, one that brought a smile to my face and thankfulness to my heart. With the children back in school now, it's a lot quieter around here. Things don't get messed up as many times a day, and I have more time to do what I need to do without interruption.

Be that as it may, my children are a dear blessing to me. I love summer and having the kids home. I love fall and sending them back to school. I can't wait for there to be a day off from school, and holidays get me just as excited as when I was a kid. Having a break from any routine is a good thing -- a reminder of our blessings.

My children are certainly that -- blessings. I love each one of them dearly, and I love that each one of them is uniquely and divinely made.

My sweet Brennan has a special knack with words and with saying the right things at the right time. He's great with stories, imitations, impersonations, and he carries loads of joy around with him. In fact, Don calls him "joy boy."

At any rate, on to the remembering... In December of '07, my "joy boy" was sitting on the vanity stool in my bathroom while I was getting ready for a date with Don. Below is what I discovered recently that I had written about the experience:

Simple joys abide that are often overlooked or missed as the gifts
that they were intended to be -- gifts of the season...... I would
like to share one of these gifts with each of you.

As you know Brennan (my opera singer) has a special way with words,
and he has an uncanny ability to emit joy with his very presence. I
want to share a simple story with you -- one to bring you a smile .

Last night, I was getting ready for a Christmas party, and just as I
had finished dressing, Brennan came into my bathroom. He sat down on
my vanity stool and looked up at me with those sparkly blues. I turned
to him and said, "Brennan, how do I look?" Brennan, in his own
charming and humorous way, gave me the "once over." He then looked up
at me, held out his little hands and said, "I think you need to tone
down the beautiful -- just a little bit!" Now -- don't you think that
made my night..... nothing mattered after that. God's gifts are so good.

May we all shine as brightly as I did that night because of God's gift to me through the words of my child. He's everywhere!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Short Order Cook

I guess most days I am a short order cook, but summer seems to demand more diversity in dietary selections from my children than any other season. Today I've fixed everything from PBJ's to enchiladas to ham sandwiches to pasta salad, fruit salad and mac-n-cheese -- and that was just LUNCH!

Not only do a myriad of food requests come from my children during the summer, but, unfortunately, so do the comments of "I'm bored," "There's nothing to do," "Where can we go today?" Normally, I just hand someone a broom and say, "how bored do you feel now?" Today, however, we made a trek to the mall to suppress the boredom. Along with my four, we also brought 2 friends for a total of 6 kiddos.

Somehow we managed to walk the mall without any purchases except and Auntie Anne's pretzel for which we had coupons. The trip was worth the trouble, and really, it wasn't all that much trouble to pile 6 kids in the car. In the grand scheme of things, it was truly a blessing to be ABLE to fit 6 kids in my car, have enough gas to get to the mall and to be close enough to a mall to go for a walk.

Sometimes I have to brush the cobwebs from my eyes. They seem to collect when I think that there is more to being blessed than what I have already been blessed with :>) How could I ask for or want more? Remembering the blessings that surround me, reminds me to be content.

I'm glad to be a mom. I'm glad to fill my days doing "mom things." I'll be the short order cook, the entertainment director, the taxi driver, the housekeeper, etc. I thank God that I have the ability and the opportunity to do it all.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm not a good blogger

I'm not a good blogger... I can't remember to do it. I guess it's more than I need to do in a day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursdays are just the day before Friday...

Today is another Thursday. When I wake up on Thursdays, I'm excited because the next day is Friday. I love Fridays. I've always loved Fridays... I guess most people do. Fridays signify the beginning of the weekend, obviously, but for me there's a sense of excitement -- even if it just means that my husband is home and not going to work. For me this is one of life's simple pleasures.

In today's ever sinking economy, stress and struggles, it's imperative to look at what's right in front of you and find some joy -- even if it's just the fact that today is Thursday and tomorrow is Friday. Live your Thursday in the same excitement as you live your Friday. Find the joy in each day of the week, one day at a time. Don't live in tomorrow. It's when we live in tomorrow that we lose so much time and miss what we were given for today. This isn't profound. I haven't stumbled upon some lost truth, but it is good to be reminded. If you're like me, you forget. It's easy to forget.

Remember to tell someone how much you appreciate him or her. Give someone a hug. Write someone an old fashioned letter or just sent an email. Bring joy to someone else, and joy will be returned to you in the most unexpected circumstances. Find something to be thankful for -- your health, your family, your ability to smile. Allow time to be grateful. It'll be good for you... and me.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We Will, We Will, Rock You (huuh), Rock You, (huuh)

This morning, I'm listening to one of my twins, pound the couch to the beat of Queen's anthem We Will, We Will, Rock You! Brennan is my kid with rhythm and then some. So far this morning, I've grooved to the beat of Queen and listened to repeated renditions of Ode to Joy on the recorder. The recorder, mind you, is not a flute. I think if it were, it would be much more enjoyable to listen to. As it is, it's a little high pitched for me, especially in the morning while opening email.

Waking up to my email, tweets and FB, I was especially interested in what Seth Godin had to say about Amazon's Kindle. While I don't own a Kindle myself, I would echo his sentiments on that regard ( If Amazon tackled this fantastic marketing strategies, I would own a Kindle myself. Seth's suggestions seem to focus on not just the reader/consumer but also on the publisher/author, etc. If Amazon keeps the publisher/author in the loop, neither stands to lose as much as artists/songwriters did when music went digital. Let's face it -- we are a digital world, a digital community, and we like things that we can get fast and free... but at what expense? The music business has suffered for years. Perhaps, rightly so in some respects, but in others, it's been way too much -- way too much stealing, etc. Putting the digital book together in a way that respects and furthers a love for reading without sacrificing those who labored to put the work together, is only fair and right and sets a course for the digital movement to move in a better direction. Kudos, Seth. I hope Amazon is listening. Perhaps, there is still hope for music. We can learn from our mistakes.

Speaking of music, we are now on to the beat of distant showers running upstairs, dogs wrestling in the den and little girls chatting about how cute each looks this morning... there's no price for music like that. Time to make more breakfast...