Monday, May 28, 2012

Sacrifices Made


August 6, 2008 - The e-mail I had been dreading finally came.   We always knew it was never a matter of if Chris would deploy again, it was a matter of when he would be deployed.  The day after we renewed our wedding vows to celebrate 7 1/2 years of marriage and the guests had left and now we faced what I had hoped wouldn't come - even though in the back of my head I knew we were on borrowed time.

The picture above is February 13, 2009 we arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska to spend the weekend with Chris and his unit.  It was a time for families to get to see their soldiers, a time for the soldiers to rest and renew before heading off to Indiana to do a pre-mobilization.  There would be one more four day pass before deployment and at the time none of us knew when it would be exactly.  The night before we drove to Lincoln, the one thing I had hoped wouldn't happen, occurred.  The stomach bug Sarah and I had both had earlier in the week caught up with Lizzie and Beka.  But come hell or high water we were getting into the van the next day and driving to Nebraska.  At the time I didn't know there were would be another four day pass, so I wanted to be sure we all got to spend some time with Chris before he deployed.  Thankfully, both girls were finished throwing up before we left, but Beka was the last one to get it, so Sarah and I had been up until 2 a.m. the night before working together to wash and dry sheets, keep Beka cool, calm and happy - if that is possible when you 22 month old is sick and has an unhappy tummy.  She threw up once in the van on the way there, then seemed to feel a little bit better and kept improving.  We arrived at our hotel, and Chris was starving so we went to Cracker Barrel.   Beka couldn't eat and only sipped on her Sprite, until Daddy took her in his arms and she fell asleep and I had to grab a photo.  Even in the picture you can tell she means the world to him - all of his girls mean the world to him, but here, Beka is sick and doesn't feel good and all he cares about is helping her feel better.  

As an infant sleeping in our room, Beka's favorite place to sleep was on Daddy's chest - okay it was his favorite place for her to sleep as well. It helped them bond and that bond hasn't died.  But I will never forget the day when he told me he had a dream.  He was in Kuwait, and in his dream he was snuggling Beka, but could hear her calling out to him, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy."  And his fellow bunk mates woke him up because he was calling out, "Bekaboo!"  I sat and sobbed in front of the monitor, because I knew it was killing him to be gone from us, and that the girls were not doing well either.  Beka would look out the front door and call for him asking him where he was and while knowing he was missing us so much should have comforted me, it ripped both our hearts out to have him so far away. 

We survived that deployment and as of May 10, 2012 Chris is retired from the Army Reserves.  No more deployments, but the memory of our time away from Chris are with us.  Lizzie is the only one who has lived with us during two deployments, 2004 and 2009.  And each time she ran joyfully to Chris when he returned. Sarah joined her in 2009.  Beka true to what they warned about took a few moments, but they have been like peas and carrots ever since.  I think it took a whopping two minutes before she was, HEY!  That's my DADDY!  She hasn't left his side unless absolutely necessary since then.

It works, he takes on Beka and I take on Lizzie, it seems to be a good system.   Beka is Chris' head cheerleader.  She is the one who gives the rally cry, "Daddy is leaving, it's time to say goodbye to Daddy!!!!"  She even goes to our bedroom window so she can wave him off crying out, "Bye Daddy!  Bye!"  Blowing him kisses. 

Today is Memorial Daddy. . . our family is among those who were fortunate enough to see our soldier return home to them, changed, but home nonetheless.  But so many others did not make it home, some were never found or they were so devastated there was nothing to return from their time overseas. So please be sure to thank your soldier today. . . their sacrifice is greater than you can imagine. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Irreversible Choices



Today I decided to check out Mukliteo schools.  They are number for in the state for education and we are contemplating the area because it is extremely close to Chris' job and we hope to move next Spring.  And I found some good things and some not so good things out.

I found out that thankfully my experience and perceptions of Washington school should absolutely not be based on our experience at Madison Elementary.  As soon as I arrived in the office the staff was eager to engage and tell me about their schools.  Their dean of students (also known as a Vice Principal) also seemed very engaged and seemed eager to answer my questions. No one batted one eye when I talked about dropping in to do spot inspections - this is a very good thing.

I also found out that while putting Beka in public school may be something I consider, Elizabeth's day in public school ended with my decision to not return her to Madison.  She thrives better at home, and her meltdowns which had returned with great vim and vigor have since subsided.  If we move into Mukliteo they will insist she will go to middle school. That is absolutely not an option. I remember my middle school days and while I sincerely hope that Mukliteo is different, I'd prefer to not take my chances on whether or not her fellow students would leave her a broken shell of the amazing girl I have in my house. 

This brings me to the other thing I realized.  While I may get discourage, it is amazing when I showed Lizzie how little progress we had made and told her if we don't start working hard that she is looking at still being in fourth grade next year how quickly she became more motivated to do school work. So her books are on the table for tomorrow and we even squeezed in a math lesson tonight.

I am glad that my first impression of the schools here was not applicable to all of the schools, but the truth is, Beka is already learning to read.  She should be ready to begin First Grade next year. This is pretty amazing considering that I started this year working with her on Preschool.  By Christmas she was ready for Kindergarten.  So here is a new challenge.  I have one child roaring and ready to go and another child who struggles through school.   My prayer is that Beka keeps excelling -although at the rate she is going, she might be caught up with Elizabeth in a couple of years. . . maybe. We'll see as the work gets harder.

Oh I also discovered that all of the apartments near Boeing decided they weren't charging enough for rent.  I dropped in at Bay Court apartments and for $1500 a month I can rent an apartment with 1230 square feet?   Call me crazy but that is a little nuts. At least I think so.  So I did some driving around and Lynnwood is actually closer than I realized to Boeing so it's definitely an option since me not home schooling is not an option.

I also spent time today thinking about my options. Switch on Schoolhouse might be a good option for Rebekah in a few years, it will not be a good one for Elizabeth though.  They are sticklers on spelling and sometimes a little too nitpicky about things and it would frustrate Elizabeth.  Besides I think this hodge podge of curriculum works better. There are several other things Chris and I have been talking about lately too, but those I'll save for another blog. I will continue writing until Thursday when Lizzie has her eye surgery - then it will be a few days and possibly a few weeks before I even contemplate writing a new blog post. Elizabeth doesn't handle pain well, so I predict a lot of whining and fussy Lizzie's issues for the first week. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Done

I think I've hit the point where I am just done.  There are a some really big things coming up.  So I am taking a month off.  Between Lizzie's eye surgery and Sarah going to college I am feeling overwhelmed and in need of a break.

It has been a long three and half years and I think I've finally hit the point where it's either take  a break or go insane and I kind of like being sane.

Have a good month.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, May 14, 2012

Creating Little Joys

Whether you are facing deployments, a business trip, or your spouse had to take a job out of state being a married single parent is a tough job.  I have several friends lately who are struggling because their spouses have either gone or are going away on business.  So after eleven years of deployments, training, Army schools, and annual training that usually lasted between 2-4 weeks I thought I would share what helped us get through those times when Daddy was away from home. 
1. Create little trips. This can be as simple as going to the zoo, a children's museum, or visitng Grandma and Grandpa for a weekend.  These little trips keep you busy driving and the kids busy and excited. It sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it is worth it and helps the time pass faster.

2. Make Friday night a special night.  I started this trend after Sarah moved in with us. Because Chris works second shift, it means I am pretty much a single parent all day and every day when he works on the weekends.  So to make the end of the school week more exciting I tried to fix a meal that the girls would enjoy.  I would fix frozen pizza, spaghetti or something they asked for and sometimes I let Sarah have a friend sleep over.  We usually rented a movie or pulled out a $5 movie I'd found at Wal-Mart.  Add sleeping bags and pillows and voila! You have a quiet but exciting Friday evening at home.  This is especially helpful if you are struggling financially.

3. If your spouse is gone for a significant amount of time, find something that is just for you and the kids. While Chris was deployed in 2009-2010 I invested in some good music.  Anything from Wicked to Taylor Swift to Skillet and the girls and I would go to Dairy Queen, grab a little treat for them and a drink for me (food that is high in fat makes for a very sick and icky Mommy) and we would explore the Kansas countryside with ice cream, music blasting, and a drive exploring new places and new things.  We went to Great Bend one weekend to visit church, one day I let the girls play hooky and we drove to Lindsberg, KS - a great little town that has Swedish roots and origins. 

4. Don't be afraid to be spontaneous.  Some of the neatest things the girls and I did came from us spontaneously deciding we needed to get out of town.  In October 2009 I awoke (after about 3 or 4 hours of sleep I should add) and knew we needed to go to Nampa, Idaho.  At the time I didn't understand it, but I went with it and spent Monday preparing the van (oil change, tire check purchasing snacks and food for the road and drinks), and Sarah did laundry and we packed up the van that night and left early Tuesday morning.   Yes, it made for a long 10 days, since I don't really rest well anywhere but my own bed, but it was worth it.  We got to spoil Grandma and Grandpa, play around with some cousins, and see some neat things about Idaho.   

5.  It's okay to a little shy about going out a lot.  The more children you have the more this is true.  Being a single parent is tough, especially when you are used to having an extra set of hands.   We missed a lot of church and didn't do anything super huge.  When Chris is gone I would NEVER, EVER consider going to DisneyWorld.  Especially not when Elizabeth was younger. As the girls get older, that is less likely to be the case, but for now this Momma doesn't do large crowds, large gatherings, or anything where I have to watch more than one child alone without Chris.  It is a recipe for disaster.

6.  One a month if not more often hire a babysitter and go get a pedicure, go out on a lunch date with girlfriends, or see a movie alone.   Chris tried to tell me that getting a pedicure every six weeks was frivilous and I didn't need to do it. I asked him if he wanted the girls alive when he got home from Iraq and Kuwait.  Of course, he answered yes, so I told him I did it to help relieve the stress of being a single parent and it helped me remain a calmer person.  I also got a massage a few times while he was gone. It really helped me keep my blood pressure lower. 

7.  It's okay to have a mini-meltdown. I don't mean go crazy and beat the tar out of your children - that is never okay. However, it's okay to send them to their room so you can sit down and have a good cry, call a girlfriend and kvetch, or just scream in the shower if you need to. I found that if I rented a movie that was sure to make me cry, it opened the flood gates and once I had the gate opened it freed me to cry and release the stress the way I needed to.  However, I do not recommend this tactic if you are going somewhere shortly.  I usually choose after bedtime.

8.  It's okay to cut the kids a little more slack than normal.  Do dinner in reverse so they eat dessert first and then their meal.  Let them stay up a little later than normal on a school night.  You are the primary disciplinarian while your spouse is gone and it is very easy for our children to decide we are just mean ogre's to be mean.  We know this isn't true, but when you are a kid and Mommy or Daddy has to be the bad guy all of the time it's easy to begin to feel that way.  This gives you a break AND it lets your child know you are not the big bad meanie they think you are.  

9.  Write your spouse notes and stick them in his/her rucksack or suitcase for them to find later.  It keeps the romance alive AND it helps they look forward to coming home.

10.  Find a project for YOU to work on.  Losing weight, reading all 100 classic works of literature, or taking up pottery, something to keep you busy.  This is especially needed when you are a stay at home mom.

I hope this helps those who are struggling and those facing new challenges of being a single parent.

In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dear Rebekah

Dear Rebekah,

You turned five years old recently and it occurred to me that I wrote long letters to Elizabeth and I often write letters to Sarah or blog entries about Sarah but I do not write nearly as often as I should about you or to you.  

First, I want you to know how much fun I have being your Mommy.  There are a million things I love about you from your smile to that funny laugh.  I love that you are so confident in who you are especially the other day when you whispered in a dramatic tone "I'm awesome!"  It's true you are awesome. 

Second, I want you to know that as time goes on I will probably not always be your favorite person.  There will be many more times as you grow up and especially when you are a teenager that you will dislike me more often than you like me.  It is because of my love for you that I am gladly willing for you to dislike me.  I would rather have you dislike me now and respect me later for standing firm with you than have you like me now, but not respect me later. 

There are so many things I want to share with you as you get older.  I know there will be times when you will feel as if I spend more time with Lizzie than I do with you.  But what I know now and you don't is that Daddy is more patient with you than he is with Lizzie.  I also know that you can get away with more right now because you are cute and have a cheeky grin.  Lizzie has almost outgrown her cute phase and is entering the tween years when she will feel awkward and uncomfortable in her own skin.  You haven't reached this phase yet, but when you do Daddy and I will be there just as we were for Sarah and we will be for Elizabeth.  Don't worry your time is coming when we will be focused on you more.  Lizzie has to leave home sometime you know. 

I remember the day you were born.  The doctor sent us to the hospital.  Mommy's blood pressure was dangerously high and the doctor was concerned and so they checked us in and started the iv and shortly after being there I learned they were going to induce me.   I hope for your sake you never have to be induced, it is not fun, but once they break your water, it is HORRIBLE!   Obviously, I got an epidural and I had a good nurse.  Daddy only touched me for a little while and then decided he should keep his hands attached to his wrists so he sat in a chair out of my reach.  Your daddy is a very smart man, he knew I would kill him if I could have reached him.  My nurse was great, she realized quickly that I needed to be on my right side and turned me over and that was when the real party started.  Suddenly I knew you were going to be coming very quickly.  You only took three hours and forty minutes to arrive!  I was in labor with Lizzie for 15 hours, but you were too anxious to come out.  

Before you were born I had told the doctor I wanted you to be put on my chest.  I didn't want to look at myself in the mirror.  I never understood why someone would want to see that, but I knew I wanted you on my chest so I could see you.  You came out quickly with only four pushes and then you were with us. . . Daddy and I were so excited to see you.  I love Sarah and I love Elizabeth, but I waited five years to get to meet you and at that moment when you looked at me with those big blue eyes of your I knew I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life come from my own body.   Holding you and seeing you was an answer to a lot of prayers and tears!   Daddy went with the nurses while they cleaned you up.  He was supposed to be the one who gave you your first bath, but I had forgotten to tell the nurses he wanted to do it and so he was upset when they bathed you for him.  And they tried to put you under a lamp, but by then I was cleaned up and I told them, "Don't do that, bring her to me, I'll kangaroo her and nurse her."   The nurses and doctors were very surprised to hear a mom say that.  They didn't know that your Mommy reads A LOT, A LOT, A LOT.  I am always looking up stuff and reading something new and I had read an article before Elizabeth was born about how important kangarooing was to preemies - because the skin on skin contact helps their little bodies maintain heat longer AND helps stabilize them more.  They do that for babies whose mommas do drugs too, because they are born with a lot of problems sometimes.   So they brought you to me and I enjoyed snuggling you and holding you.   

Daddy spent the night with us at the hospital and while he was getting some food for us, you and I got to know each other better.  Daddy was so happy, he wouldn't put you down unless he absolutely had to do that.  Unfortunately, he was getting sick and he shared it with you.  So when you were two weeks old we had to take you to the Emergency Room so they could suck snot out of your nose and get out the extra junk.  You were not a happy little girl. 

You were such a join.  Even now we love the millions of little funny things you do.  The way you bounce when you are walking and happy.  The way you smile that devilish little smile that means you are up to something.  Or when you just want to come and snuggle with me or Daddy. 

We are so proud of you and thank God for you every day Beka.  I hope you know how much we love you and wanted you.  How much we wanted all three of you girls.

Love Always,
Mommy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Follow Through



Okay to let me preface this blog entry to admitting.  I struggle with follow through too at times.  This is not meant to make anyone feel poorly.  In fact, my hope is that it will help other parents who have children with Autism or an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The year is 2009.  Sarah is upstairs in her room crying because she is grounded. . . AGAIN.  She's 14 almost 15 and struggling to keep her attitude in check and her mouth closed and after pushing it one too many times she finds herself grounded from all electronics for a two days to a week.  I am downstairs and I can hear her sobbing, I know she is mad at herself and I feel wretched too.  I know it's tough with Chris gone, but the attitude has to get in check or she is going to have some serious issues when she grows up.  Even as I type this  I feel horrible.  I hate seeing her upset and unhappy but I also know I have to stand my ground

Often when we had scenes like this one at home I would call a friend or Chris' mom to help me stand firm and hold my ground.  It was tough.  I hate it when the girls are unhappy, but I also know I love them too much to let them get away with whatever they want and they need to learn how to behave appropriately so when they are out in the real world it isn't a shock to them that they don't get their own way. 

I struggle with this when it comes to Elizabeth as well.  But when it came to Lizzie it was about figuring out what she could and couldn't do for a while.  The little stinker was playing her disability card for all it was worth.  I'm pretty sure the day Mommy figured it out was not a good day for her.  The act of being too sweet and innocent to possibly tell Sarah she should go back to her family because we didn't want her, was over.  I'd heard her say it out loud and her bottom bore the brunt of my displeasure. 

It is 2012 and I am a lot better at follow through now than I was in the beginning.  Here is the thing, when Elizabeth was first diagnosed we were at a loss.  We wondered, what did she know, it threw everything I thought I had known about her into question.  Maybe I was wrong, what if she wasn't really as smart as I thought at first (she is as smart as I thought).   A million concerns and questions raced through my mind.  But as she became more verbal and I began to see what was in her brain and how it was working (for the most part, some of it we are still trying to figure out).  Now I expect from her the same behavior I expected from Sarah at aged 10 going on 11 years.  She isn't thrilled about it, but it is too important to cave. 

Beka, is still tough.  She's adorable and she knows it.  Sometimes it takes everything I have not to cave or just burst into laughter.  Like the one night when I heard Elizabeth shrieking in pain.  I went in to investigate after excusing myself from my friend, Heather, who had come to visit us.  Lizzie was crying and said, "Beka hit me on the eye brow."  Now I wasn't positive she had done it, but I wasn't positive she hadn't either, especially since Beka was sitting on her bed, trying to comfort her sister.  As I walked down the hall to retrieve the paddle for Beka, I heard this conversation.

"Beka!  Why did you hit me on the eye brow?"

"I didn't hit you on the eye brow, I hit you on the head!" 

Okay at this point I started laughing to hard I almost cried.  I kept walking and looked at Heather and remarked, "Well at least I know I'm not spanking her without reason."  Three swats later, she was telling Lizzie she was sorry and I was still trying not to laugh. 

Now I realize not everyone is a believer in spanking, and that's okay.  I reserve it for hurting others, endangering yourself and others (Like convincing your sister it's safe to jump from the top bunk when she is only 3 years old.  It didn't end well for Beka or Lizzie's tushy.) or blatant disobedience.  As a rule we use time outs and grounding.   But following through is extremely important whether you use Love and Logic or Dr. Dobson's Parenting Isn't For Cowards.  The problem a lot of parents who have a child with Autism or a child on the spectrum face is, What is my child capable of understanding? 

Okay so first, parents who have children with Autism on the Spectrum.  1.  Know you are not alone.  Every single parent with a disable child or typical children struggle with how to help our children.  I have two typical children and one child on the spectrum.  Each child is unique and different in what makes them tick.  Whether they are typical or not.  2.  Make a decision today.  Do you want to take the easy road and be a yes parent or would you like to see your child thrive and learn to function in society to some degree?   Here are a few things I've learned in parenting for eleven years AND I AM NOT AN EXPERT!  I am still learning even now. 

1.  Each child ticks differently.  Disability or no disability.  What works for one child may not work for another child.  Beka is all about knowing we are proud of her and so is Sarah.  A sharp reprimand usually gets their attention quickly.  Elizabeth however, requires a more direct approach and often involves removing privileges like TV time, which is like death for her. 

2. Pick and choose your battles.  And tackle one battle at a time.  This is especially true if you have a child who is disabled.  If you don't pick one battle to fight at a time and win it, you will go crazy trying to win them all at once.  When Lizzie started Kindergarten because we knew we would have her repeat due to her starting at 4 years of age, we decided the first year should be spent focusing on behavior.  Her second year of Kindergarten was focused more on catching her up with her peers.   After that we combined the two together.  After conquering behavior (okay we're still working on it, but we've come far enough that we can combine our battles), we tackled the task of learning how to sit in church.  We made concession. 

3.  Firm but flexible:  You need to have a good combination of being firm but also knowing when to let it go and accept that maybe you need to cut your losses for the day, go to bed and try again tomorrow.  We very rarely have plans we set in stone, except vacation plans (most places don't care if your kid is having an off day) or doctor appointments.   I find it's easier, and I try to never commit to attending a party because I never know how the day is going to be for Elizabeth.  It is important that you have firm rules, but you also be flexible enough to realize, Hey my kid is having a really off day, I need to cut her some slack.  I have found that this one works best for Elizabeth.

4.  Don't worry about what other people think of you.  I will be honest, I am still struggling with this one myself.  And I am more than a little prickly about people deciding to speak poorly of my girls.  But here is the thing, only you, your spouse and God know what is going on in your home 100% of the time.  So what people think is going on, is most likely not the truth.  Learn to take a deep breath and let it go.  People will always have opinions, but that doesn't mean they are always correct.

5.  Talk to your children about what you expect of them when it comes to behavior BEFORE you get out of the car.  This is very helpful for typical and disabled children, or at least my special needs girl.  By letting Lizzie and Beka know what I expect, I cut them off at that pass before they can start asking for toys.  Usually our talk going, "Okay guys, we are going to the store.  I am not buying any snacks, toys and I expect you to stay with me at all times.  Please don't ask for anything, but if you do a good job, we'll get a cookie at the bakery before we leave."  This tells them what I expect of them AND I give them a goal to work towards.   Remember though, to also keep FIRM BUT FLEXIBLE in mind as well.  This brings me to the next lesson

6.  Try not to set your child up for failure.  If you know it's getting close to nap time or your child has had an off day that is not a prime time to take said child to the grocery store.  That is setting them up for a public meltdown and you are set up to feel shame and embarrassment.  Once I figured out Elizabeth and Beka's rhythms, I found it easier to grocery shop in the mornings.  They were bright eyed and fresh from a good nights sleep and I was likely to get through the store quicker without a lot of screaming, meltdowns, or hitting involved.   Besides, why would you want your child to fail?

7.  Sugar is not your friend nor is food coloring.  This is especially true if you have a child with Autism or on the Spectrum.  Once I realized this, I started cutting it out and it was as if I had uncovered a new child.  Her meltdowns became less frequent and less volatile.

8.  People often mean well when they offer advice, but sometimes you just have to ignore it and listen to your gut.  Mary, my mother-in-law and my mom have offered a lot of helpful advice.  However, when it came to Sarah the advice to never embarrass your child in public  didn't work.  I tried to deal with her privately and not embarrass her.  It didn't seem to sink in, so when she would act out or become disrespectful in public I started calling her on it in public.  It nipped it in the bud pretty quickly.  As a rule I'd prefer to not embarrass my children, but I also want them to be obedient and to learn to be respectful and I have a motto:  "If you make my life miserable, it's only fair I return the favor."  I had to adopt this motto after a year of wanting to pull out my hair with a new child living in my home. 
Love and Logic has some good ideas, but sometimes you have to throw the rule book out  the window and figure it out yourself.  Dr. Spock, Dr. Dobson and other "experts" are not raising your child, you are and only you know what works best or doesn't work for you child. 

9.  You are your child's advocate and they depend on you when they are younger to fight for them.  Look there is always going to be someone who thinks they can say whatever, or can give you dirty looks.  You can choose to allow them to get away with it, or you can speak up for your child and let them know that it's not cool to be harsh or judgemental with your child.  Lizzie faces enough challenges without someone else thinking they know what is best. 

10.  Spanking is not always the best punishment.  I have spanked and I believe in spanking, but I also believe in finding other ways to discipline as well.  And let's clarify I am not talking about beating your child.  ABUSE IS NOT OKAY!  Chris and I have a three swats rule with the girls.  If we are too angry to stop at three swats, we either wait until we are calmer and a cooler head prevails or we find a different punishment. 

11.  Find a good support network.  Never will this be more important than if you have a child with special needs.  However, we all need a good support system when dealing with our children.  We need a sounding board to tell us if we went a little overboard or to let us know we are not going crazy when we suspect our child is copping an attitude with us.    Hopefully, your spouse is a part of that support system.

12.  THAT'S DIFFERENT BUT THAT'S OKAY:  I learned this during Volunteer Assessment Training for Nazarene's In Volunteer Service and it holds true in parenting as well as learning to live in a foreign country.  Not every parent believes the same way you do.  Some parents have a different way of handling discipline, as long as their child isn't hurting your child then let it go.  However, some parents have very little structure and discipline and they let their children do whatever they want to do to you, to your child.  Learn the difference and figure out if you want your child to spend time with their child.  You may not be the most popular parent on the block or in your apartment complex, but they aren't the ones who have to face God about your child someday, you do.

13.  PARENTING IS NOT ABOUT BEING POPULAR!  No matter how many times I write this, or say this to other parents it never fails to amaze me how many parents want their child to like them. So today I ask you to choose which one is more important in the long run:  Would you rather have your child like you right now and resent you later?  Or would you rather be unpopular now and have your child respect you later as an adult and try to follow your parenting example with your grandchildren.  Working with youth I had a teen girl who expressed to me that she wished her parent followed through more often.  Children aren't stupid, they know as they get older if what you are doing for them is good for them.  It is easy to be popular with your children, but just because you are popular with them doesn't make you a good parent.   Dr. Sigmund Freud said the human personality is ruled by three parts.  The Id, the Ego, and the Superego.  The Id is the part of us that wants what it wants when it wants it, and it doesn't care what the consequences are (we see a lot of this going on these days in the world).  The Superego goes to the opposite extreme, it tends to be extremely legalistic and rule oriented.  We see a lot of that in children who are on the spectrum, they are very rule conscious and oriented.  The Ego is the middle man who works to find a happy medium between the Id and the Superego.  The Ego decides who wins which battle.  Children are ruled by the Id - they want immediate gratification, they don't want to wait.  Our job is help lovingly teach them how to learn to wait and that sometimes if you wait there is something better around the corner.   
Any parent can be a yes parent, but the truly good and loving parents are the ones who love their child enough to not give them whatever they want, whenever they want it.  Not because they find pleasure in their child's pain, but because they know it might not be good for their child and that sometimes we don't always get what we want in life.

14:  We do not always get a choice.  There is not always an out or a way around something.  This is extremely important for children to learn because without learning this lesson they will be in for a very rude awakening when they try to navigate the real world.  We cannot always avoid that math class we don't want to take, or get our license just because we want it. 

I know parenting is tough, I'm still in the middle of raising Lizzie and Beka.  Sarah is heading off to college and I am sure even now that we aren't done offering guidance and support for her.  Now we just need to help Elizabeth learn to navigate childhood into adolescence and into adulthood.  Beka is still young, but she is learning to tidy up, put things away, and that being sassy with your mommy and daddy is a terrible idea.   I also know it's tough to follow through when your child is disabled, but you can do it!  You need to do it for them to succeed in the future.  So hang in there.  You can do it, it will be challenging and tough at times, but remember "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  Phillippians 4:13.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Becoming a Skeptic?

It sneaks up on you subtly.  You don't even realize it's happening.  Suddenly you wake up one day and you realize you've become a skeptic.  When did this happen?  What on Earth?  When did it stop occurring to me that God can send people to you who will help pay for things when you need them?

A kind woman on MyAutismTeam.com has offered to pay for Elizabeth's eye therapy.  This is so we wouldn't have to go through eye surgery.  Those who read faithfully know I am nervous about the idea of surgery.  Again it's not the 70 percent success rate that worries me, it's the 30 percent rate of need for further surgery that concerns me.   And a kind woman has offered to pay for vision therapy. 

As I read her offer, I was flooded with an emotion I didn't know how to process. . . I was skeptical.  My first thoughts?  What's the catch?  Do I know this person well enough to allow them to help us out like this?    Logically I've grown up knowing God provides for our needs.  I've even seen him do it recently, but it has never been on something of this magnitude.  Vision therapy is very expensive, and while I am pretty sure Lizzie wouldn't require years and years of therapy, I find myself still struggling to accept that there are people who do kind things just to do them. 

Ironically, enough I know I would do the same thing for someone, in a heartbeat with no questions asked.  And yet, it is so rare that I meet people who share that sentiment.  I've gotten accustomed to being the odd duck and doing things outside the norm.  Now I'm on the receiving end and I realize how those who I have helped randomly must have felt - disoriented, out of sorts and confused.  We live in a world where very few people do random acts of kindness just because.  It's more of a dog eat dog world these days, and I see this especially in our apartment complex.   I get it now.  The confused looks I get when someone needs help or how people are so reluctant to allow Chris or I to help them. 

So I am praying it over with my husband and we will talk it over.  Prayer being foremost in our minds, and asking God what He thinks is best for Elizabeth.  He might say surgery, he might say, I sent this person to offer help, take the help. 

But to that person, thank you for being willing to help.  Now for us to pray.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Sarah


Dear Sarah,

Today you completed high school and we are all so proud of you.  I know that you have worked hard to prepare for this next phase in life and I know that you are going to do so well. 

It seems as if it were only yesterday you were walking up the steps of our old gray house with your cute little bob haircut and announcing, "Hi, I'm Sarah!"  I had heard so many good things about you, but nothing could prepare me for how amazing and loving you were.  I am so blessed to have had the privilege to be your bonus mom and to love you and watch you grow into such an astounding woman. 

So now you face college.  Yes, I know you are roaring and revving to move to Idaho, but I want you to know, we will miss you.  Even Dad who tries to pretend he is fine with it, will find it much more difficult without you here to joke around with him and watch some interesting choices in movies.   So here are the few things I learned when I went off to college.

1. Prank callers, always call right before you are about to fall asleep.  Every time, blast it!  Sometimes they pretend to be someone who they think you don't know and you get the joy of surprising them because you do in fact, know the person they are claiming to be.  Or they call and ask you what kind of condoms you prefer.

2. Living with a roommate can be a blessing AND a curse.   A lot will depend on the type of personalities you have.

3.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing - including time with friends.  I learned this one the hard way.  Now I would definitely create a little more distance between us and spend a little less time with friends and more time studying.

4.  Unless you work in the student cafeteria, be sure you'll miss a few meals because of work schedule conflicts.  If you are fortunate, you realize that you can grab your lunch to go and still use your meal plan.

5.  Pizza at midnight and a coke with a friend - there really isn't anything better than spending a night like that.

6.  Your friends will always, always want to talk to you at midnight or some ungodly hour of the day.  Learn to say, "Not now, I'm sleeping."

7.  Naps are your friend.  Live it, learn it, and love it.  It will help you out tremendously when you get to college and help you make it through those late nights you'll have to pull working on homework.

8.  It is tempting to procrastinate.   Resist the urge, heck fight it with all of your might.  It's never fun to be up until 5 a.m. working on a paper because you waited until the last moment before turning it in.

9.  If you procrastinate - remember rules 7 & 8 often go together.  :D

10.  Yes, you like your boyfriend and want to spend time with him, but your education is much more important.  Leave time with the boyfriend until the weekend of one night a week for date night.

11. Date in groups.  Not always fun, I know but it will save you having to ask God's forgiveness for something else later.  Front porches at Grandma's house are great places to have talks, and it means you are less likely to do something you wouldn't want Grandma to see, but also gives you privacy.

12.  Making out in the car sounds fun, but it's not and all it manages to do is fog up the windows and leave you with a crick in your neck or back the next day.  Wait until you are married and can make out on a comfy bed, it's so much easier and it saves you a co-pay to the chiropractor. 

13. Most student cafeterias offer healthier choices, look around and see if you can find them, your waistline and your stomach will thank you later. 

14.  Don't go walking at night alone on campus unless you are in a group.  Even in a small town, it's too easy to become lulled into a sense of safety.  While we'd like to believe all human beings are good inherently, the sad truth is there are some people who are not good or kind, and hurt people to make themselves feel better.  Be smart, be safe and think groups for outdoor exercise.  Plus you get the joy of taking a study break and having a good chat with some girlfriends. 

15. Call your parents at least once a month or so.  They like knowing you are alive and doing fine. 

16. Do yourself a favor, cut your phone and text time down during the semester.  Most of your friends should understand, the ones who don't get that you want to do well aren't really your friends in the first place because a real friend wants what is best for you.

17.  A letter or well timed e-mail usually results in cash being sent.  Or sometimes parents just send money because they want you to have a little fun money.  We were young once too. 

18.  Friends may come and go, but your family is always there and you will always be related to them, even if you try not to rely on them too much - they are the people who catch you when you fall and give you a soft place to land. 

I love you Sarah and I am so insanely proud of you. 

Love Always,
Maureen

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hope for Alea

China, the possibility for us to move there is real.  And yet, tonight China is on my heart for a totally different reason.  Alea.  Alea is a little girl with Biliary Atresia a disease in which something (they do not understand why) causes the bile ducts to not work correctly.  Bottom line, it begins to go to the liver and cause irrepreable damage to the liver.  Some children do okay with a Kasai pull through.  Removal of the gall bladder is a must, but eventually all children with B.A. need a liver transplant. 

Alea is such a child, she is also an orphan.  She was obviously well loved before being left at the day care center where she is housed now, so I cannot imagine how difficult it was for her parents to give her up so she would have a fighting chance.  Alea is in need of a liver transplant and without it, she will die.  There is no other outcome for her without a transplant.  Red Envelope is starting a crusade to find her a forever family and I hope those of you reading this will keep this going and keep sharing.  Somewhere out there is a forever family for Alea. 

As I look the smiling baby in the pictures I find my heart aching for her and yearning for her, but we simply do not have the finances to adopt her.  We have the health insurance and between health insurance AND government disability we could get extra insurance to cover her medication of that I am sure, but I know it is not possible.  Adopting a child from out of country is extremely expensive and between Lizzie's upcoming eye surgery and Sarah starting college in the fall, it just isn't possible for us to take on another child and especially a child who would require a strict medication regime.  I do good to make sure Lizzie takes her medication daily.

So to help little Alea, I ask that you all lift her in prayer.  Praying is always a great way to help when you can't help any other way.  And if the Lord lays it on your heart to become a forever family for Alea, please listen to the prompting he is giving you!  She is a gorgeous baby in need of a home and family and seems to have a lot of love to give.   If you are interesting in learning more about Alea I have incorporated the link to Red Envelope with her story for you to read it as well.

http://www.hopeforalea.com/

Have a great week and God bless you.
In Christ,
Maureen

Eye Surgery

I have often commented, "Lizzie just won the genetic lottery."  Poor kid, it's true, out of all three girls, she is the one who struggles the most.  She got blessed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Allergies, Allergy Induced Asthma, and Amblyopia.  Wait Amblyopia?  What is that? You want to know.  Glad you asked.

Amblyopia means that for Elizabeth her left eye sees poorly. In fact, it the difference between how well her left eye sees and her right eye sees that if not corrected the brain will begin to ignore the eye that sees poorly and put all of the work on the other eye.   When she was four we realized her eye was going to the side a little, it was for a brief moment and then it would straighten out.  I noticed it for a split second then it would go back so I thought maybe I was seeing things.  But when her preschool teacher told me she had been doing some testing and noticed it as well I knew we needed to go to the pediatric opthamologist.  My Aunt Myrna, my sister, Marjorie and now Elizabeth all struggle with this problem. 

So after a visit to the pediatric opthamologist, we got her glasses and began patching.  At first we patched from the moment she woke up until an bathtime, which was an hour or so before bed.  As her left eye has improved we have been able to decrease the amount of time we need to patch, now we require patching four hours each day. 

Now though at 10 years old with her 11th birthday looming we are facing a new challenge.  Elizabeth is at an age where being different is tough on kids.  Elizabeth is already noticeably different without wearing an eye patch, so I have found the eye patches hidden in the house and I mentioned this to Dr. Lenart when I took Beka into her eye check up (she does not have amblyopia) and he asked the question I had hoped we would be able to avoid, "How do you feel about surgery?" 

How do I feel about surgery?  Well it's one thing to have your child sedated for an MRI test, hearing test (yes they do sedation hearing tests), and sedation to stitch up her foot after she cut it on a piece of broken tea cup. But this is them messing with her eyes, going inside her body and adjusting with things. . . I feel anxious, but I didn't say this.  He said we could get more bang for our buck with this surgery.  Because we still have some drifting by performing this surgery it would help Elizabeth's eye to see better.  The surgery is 15 minutes, he would go in and tighten up the muscles in her eye that are weak so the drifting would not be as bad and this would mean her eye could work on seeing better without also struggling to remain where it should and fighting the drifting.  It sounds great doesn't it?  Well there is a hitch - it only has a 70% success rate.  That sounds great, but personally I would feel less anxious if there was a 30 % chance she will require further surgery in the future.  I'd like the odds to be more like 85/15 or 90/10, but 70/30 is as good as it's going to get, so I have to take it.  So how do I feel about surgery?  Oh and after the surgery we are going to switch to eye drops that work the same as the patch she wears now.  It will be a patch without patching physically so the other children can see it.  It will blur her vision in the right eye so the left eye has to work.  This makes her left eye keep working, and stops her brain from ignoring it - if we left this unchecked her left eye would eventually go blind and her right eye would do all the work. 

How do I feel about surgery?  Anxious, what if it doesn't work?  What if they over-correct or under-correct?  What if it gets totally botched and she ends up blind?  Those are the questions I try not to think about. . .instead I try to focus on the idea of her eye continuing to improve.  I focus on the finding child care for Beka for the day of surgery and making plans for the 2 weeks she isn't supposed to play outside, run, etc. . . I'm thinking lots of coloring, games, movies, and jammie days.  I focus on praying that Lizzie is a part of the 70% that have success with the surgery.  It helps that some of my friends on Twitter are fasting and praying for her on alternating days leading up to her surgery.  There is comfort in that. 

So this is where we are - The week prior we go in for a physcial.  May 30 we go in for pre-op consult, then May 31st I let them have my daughter to adjust her eye.  Post op is Monday, June 4th.  So until then I try to take a lot of deep breaths and remember if this is how anxious I am for an eye surgery how much more anxious would I be if she had something life threatening? 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, May 4, 2012

What is Love?


Have a husband and a child who come from abusive backgrounds, means I learn a lot about how blessed I was to have my family.  Mom may have raised us on very little, but she loved us a lot and she did little things to do that. Sometimes she'd work under the table for a friend and purchase material and make us clothing, or she'd bake our favorite foods.  She may have yelled occasionally, but we usually deserved it, and being a single mom isn't an easy job.  I did it for two years, and I at least had an end in sight, she didn't have an end in sight, it was all her until we were 18 years old and off to college, or out on our own.

When Sarah came to live with us, her basic needs were met, for the most part, but her mom was working as a single parent to make ends meet and sometimes things were sparse.  Including time with Mom, being a single parent isn't easy, but when you are a small girl, you don't always get that. 
So when Sarah came to live with us, it was a new experience for her.  Chris worked, but I stayed at home.  I cook and cooked a lot, which took a bit for her to get used to, because she ate a lot of microwave meals before.  And I tried to make Friday nights special nights for the girls.  Chris worked and still works second shift so it was usually just us.  We tried to have sleepovers, baked goods in the morning (muffins anyone?!) and this continued for a while.  But I always thought this was the stuff Mom's do for kids.   It was in one conversation with Sarah I realized this was not always the case.

A year after Sarah moved in, we were going to the store one evening to get some supplies probably or meeting my mom for dinner at Spangles ("It just tastes better!" according to the commercial and Lizzie).  Sarah looked at me and asked, "Why do you spoil me?"  I was a little confused, so I had to ask her to explain what she meant.  "You bake muffins if I want muffins, you make my favorite foods, you get me stuff when we go to Target from the dollar bin and you are always home when I get home from school."   Anger washed over me, not anger at Sarah but that she had never had an example until she came to live with us about the little things you do for someone when you love them.  It passed if a few moments and I explained I wasn't spoiling her, I was loving her and it is in doing the little things you know someone you love likes that you show them you love them.   

In life, love does not always mean grandiose gestures.  Sometimes love is in the little things.  Cooking dinner for your love, wearing a favorite perfume or outfit that you know they like, maybe it is baking a favorite dessert.  Finding the little things that make a person you love happy says, I love you enough to pay attention to the things that make you happy

I hope you all have a good weekend.  We are having movie night, pancakes with chocolate chips, popcorn and a camp out in our living room tonight.  It's Friday night after all.

In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Importance of Laughter

  We've all read the newspaper articles or watched the new stories where someone has finally had enough and walked into a store, post office, office building or school and just opened fire with a shot gun.  There are interviews with neighbors, co-workers, and we hear things like, "He was always an odd duck." "He never smiled or laughed, he was so serious."   Granted hindsight is 20/20, but those are still very telling signs.   When I was taking one of my psychology classes we had a project we worked on where they gave us a description about a man who had opened fire on his place of employment and all of the things I shared with you were on it (more or less, it was several years ago, give me a break) and we were supposed to give our input on it.  I remember writing the observation that it was interesting that he never seemed to smile or laugh and asking if their was a correlation between the two.  My professor responded on my paper when he returned it that yes, scientists believe there is a correlation between people's ability to find humor in life or lack thereof and going "postal" if you will.  Suddenly some pieces began to fall into place for me.

My childhood was not horrid, it wasn't easy but it wasn't horrid.  I wasn't abused or betrayed by my parents.  My mom got out while the getting was good when she realized how badly things were with my step dad, yes, people in school teased and made fun of me - newsflash they make fun of everyone, especially if you are different (even different in a good way), I had no dad.  My dad died, which while not ideal is not the same as your dad walking away from you and your family or worse sticking around but having no desire to have a relationship with you.    But through it all we began to find the humor in the little things. 

When the house burned down, we found the humor in the fact that absolutely none of our furniture matched whatsoever.  We made it work.  When the car accident happened, we found the humor in the little things.  When the doctors told us that the reason Matthew was still alive was because of how think his skull was, my cousin and I looked at each other and said, "We've been saying it for years, but now it's been medically proven!"  and began to laugh.  It is in those small moments of laughter that you learn that life will continue on and that through laughter you keep living and also release stress. 

Being able to find the laughter in the small things has kept me sane for a long time.  I remember when Elizabeth was first in Kindergarten I went to pick her up one afternoon and Mrs. Silveous had her grab her stuff but before we left she called her over.

"Now Miss Monkey.  Do we climb on the bathroom stall doors?"  Of course, Elizabeth answered no.  I quickly turned away so she wouldn't see me laughing.  And Mrs. Silveous explained.  They took a bathroom break and apparently Elizabeth became bored so somehow (I still haven't figured it out), she managed to get from the toilet to the bathroom stall door and began swinging.  I can imagine Mrs. Silveous' surprise when the kids ran out of the bathroom and told her what was happening.  Chris and I had a very chuckle over that one. 

Or being able to laugh at the fact that in the rush of getting to the house on Tuesday morning while moving, I had dressed in the dark (it was 5 a.m.  after all), I called my girlfriend and talked to her about how the move was going when I looked down and realized.  My pants are on inside out!  I shared this and we had a very good laugh at how silly I must have looked walking around with my pants on inside out.  Obviously after this I hid somewhere and fixed the issue, but not before wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes. 

There are always going to be challenges in life.  I will never say there are not, but thank God for the moments of laughter in the midst of life's storms.  Have a good weekend.  We are having a movie marathon, pajama day at our house.  Tomorrow - more home school! :D

In Christ,
Maureen


















Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Typical PayDay

I have been asked before about how I made ends meet when we were living on Chris' unemployment.  And I've written about it before, but I thought I would re share how we made it so long and also how we made it once we had to go on government assistance (not ideal, but you have to feed your kids).

So here are some of the things I did to help save money. 

1.  I bought in bulk while we knew we had the money.  Once I realized Chris would be coming home from Iraq I went out and purchased a deep freezer from Wal-Mart, not a huge monstrosity, but a nice sized one for our family (Beka wasn't at her full eating potential at the time).  I bought huge quantities of meat to freeze.  Ground Turkey, Chicken, Ground Beef, Hams, Turkey's , Fish, etc. . . 

2.  I paid up as many of our bills as far in advance as I could financially afford.  Because Chris' rank was higher and we'd paid off all of our debts earlier the year before he left, it was feasible for me to do this and I paid of our minivan.  There is nothing like having your car repossessed to add to your stress level when you'd prefer it not to rise more than possible.  I paid $1,000 down towards gas, electric, and I paid a full year of our water, waste, Netflix and as far in advance as I could for our home phone and Internet and paid up 6 months on the house payments so we had very few bills to worry about while Chris searched for a job.  Again, not having credit cards or any outstanding debts really helped us meet that goal. 

3.  Menu planning:  Does it work?  Yes, I had a friend with 11 children (yes, yes, please keep the jokes to yourself, she knows what causes it) who through menu planning fed her family of 13 on $500 a month. Menu planning also meant making sure I used what I already had to keep my grocery bill down.  But menu planning alone wasn't the only thing I used - which brings me to the next thing I used to keep our food bills down. . .

4. Coupons:  Okay keep in mind, I was able to use the on base commissary.  They have boxes of coupons that people share and they are for whoever needs them.  I used these coupons, ones that came in the mail and my mom and stepdad also gave us theirs from the newspaper in order to help keep our food cost down. Once we went on government assistance and WIC for Beka, between assistance, meal planning, and coupons I was able to feed our family using under the $455 they allotted to us each month for food stamps.    Because I was so thrifty we were able to try new meals to make thanks to AllRecipes.com and other recipe websites to keep our meals from becoming boring.  We tried peanut butter stir fry chicken (It was good for Chris, not so much for me, because I don't like spicy food, he however, LOVES it).  I learned to cook clam chowder, and other interesting dishes I'd wanted to try for a while.

5. Date Night at Braum's or McDonald's is always a fun way to get away for a few moments of one on one time.  I found this especially helpful when Chris would become discouraged or frustrated or seemed to be having a bad day in general.  It got him away from the girls before he would explode at them, or before he would explode period.   We discovered the joy of being together without spending a lot of money and it kind of reminded us of where we had come from (impoverished backgrounds).

6.  Goodwill or the Salvation Army:  I found a lot of good clothing and deals for Sarah or the little girls at these stores - also the D.A.V. - which is especially great because the D.A.V. helps disabled veterans.  They had some amazing deals and I was able to take care of Lizzie's uniform clothing this way. 

7.  Hand-me-downs:  We were lucky to have friends who had some girls who were much taller than both Lizzie and Beka so that helped me out a lot.  And we return the favor ourselves by now handing down the clothing that is still in good shape to family or friends in need. 

Now a typical payday for our family:
1. No homeschooling.  It's not feasible to be in multiple places at once, so every other Wednesday the girls get a break for the day. 

2.  Pay bills:  With the exception of rent, most of our bills are payable online these days.  It's very nice and convenient.  Rent though is always inconvenient until I discovered the money order machine at Wal-Mart.  On the payday when we pay rent I have to go to Wal-Mart and purchase three money orders.  Two pay our rent and one of them pays the water, trash, and sewage.  Again we usually pay for Netflix, Hulu, AAA and this year we paid for our storage unit up for the year.  We also pay our renter's insurance up by the year.  Car insurance is a monthly bill we pay each month, otherwise, we end up with a shock when six months has passed by.

3. Grocery shopping:  Even though we are not in the same dire straits financially we were in during 2011, I still use menu planning, coupons and searching through the grocery store ads to keep our food bill down. 

4. Gasoline in the van.  One tank of gas has to last us two weeks.  So for now we are a one car family.  Chris usually has the vehicle during the week.  If I have an appointment or need to take care of something on payday, I take him to work and pick him up. 

5.  Daddy-Daughter Date:  Each girl gets her own evening.  Sarah's is usually Wednesday (occasionally we have them switch), Lizzie's is on Thursday night and Beka gets Friday night because Daddy never works past shift closing due to labor laws (he usually works Saturday if possible and Sunday if he can). 

I know it may not seem exciting, but it's our life.  It may seem boring to some people, but I love that our life is uneventful.  Exciting is not always synonymous with fun and there are some types of excitement I can live without.  

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

I'd Like an Explanation


My beautiful daughter, Sarah has her first potential long term boyfriend.  And this has opened up a few can of worms.  Well the first can of worms, I won't open here on my blog.  The second can of worms, her friends who she thought were her friends have not been happy for her.  With the exception of her mom, Chris and I, and Tony's Aunt Heather Morgan, each of her friends has not been happy or supportive of her or her relationship and this young man is a good young man.  We wouldn't have given our blessing if he were a jerk or a guy from a hugely dysfunctional family with a dad in prison (yes, I went there), but he isn't.  He's polite, respectful and very protective of Sarah.  Let me put it this way, we trusted him enough to allow her to go to the Seattle Seahawk Draft Pick Party (hence the above photo) and trusted he would make sure he brought her home in same condition with which we sent her off to spend the day with him.   The final can of worms?  About the time she met Tony and they began liking each other, several of her guy friends "realized" they liked her too.

So here are my questions?  Why can't friends be happy for you?  What happened to being a good friend and realizing it isn't about you, and that if you are really a good friend you will put your own petty jealously aside and be happy for your friend.  But that doesn't seem to be the case. 
My other question is why is guys don't want you until you are in like with another guy OR you are in a relationship with someone else?  I don't understand that one at all.  Maybe I am oblivious or maybe I have just always been an odd duck. 

If anyone has an an answer I would love to hear it.  I would love an explanation. . .

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Standing in the Gap


All little girls who have their dads around go through a phase where they are all about their Daddy.  Beka is coming out of her phase and for now, she's all about Mommy, but it will go back the other way soon enough.  I went through it as well and I'm sure Meg would have gone through it too if Daddy had been alive when she was born (my mom was pregnant with her when our dad was taken from us suddenly). 

Growing up after my dad's death was not easy.  Especially as I got older and you would have thought being in a large church that a the men would have stood in the gap for my siblings and myself, but with two exceptions that wasn't the case.  There was two men who really did what they could to stand in the gap.  One has been gone for 20 years, the late Robert Moore.  The other - the man in the picture above, George Miller.

George and Nancy had known my parents because we all attended the Southwest Oklahoma District Camp Meeting at the same time.  He and Dad are really kind of cut from the same cloth, both total hams.  After Dad died, whenever we would go to camp George made sure he got to see us and say hello.  This man went to children's camp, youth camp, and while we didn't get to see each other as regularly as we would have liked, he made sure he always said hello.   And while it was nice that Grandpa Moore was there, it was somehow more special with Uncle George because he knew my Dad. 

Thanks to Facebook I don't have to wait every four years or 10 years to see him these days.  We get to have random conversations on Facebook and tease each other at times.  He was awesome when Chris was deployed and the Solomon Islands are richer for having him and Aunt Nancy as missionaries there. 

I just wanted to say, "Thank you Uncle George.  It means more than you will ever know to this Oklahoma girl." 


Here is the question I want to ask:  Why are there so few men willing to stand in the gap?  Why are there so few women willing to let their husbands be the man who is the father to the fatherless?  As a girl who grew up without a father, I can assure you, if you allow your husbands to be that man and encourage him, it can make a HUGE difference.  There were men in our church, men who were nice, but for whatever reason their wives were scared that Mom was after their husbands.  While my mom may have been raising us alone it would have been nice for a few more men to come and stand in the gap for Matthew and Meg.   I think they paid the biggest price.  I remembered my dad, but Matt and Meg didn't remember anything.  Matthew was a little over 18 months old when Dad died, Meg was in utero - they needed men to be a father to them. 

Please men and women of faith, step up to the plate.  Be the Grandpa Moore's, Uncle Georges and now my husband who stand in the gap.  We need strong men and women of faith to be for young people what their own parents can't or sometimes won't be for them. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen