Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little Treasures

 These two girls plus their older sister are possibly the best gift God has given to me.  If you'd asked me when I was younger, I would have said, the best gift was my singing.  But time marched on, TMJ took over and that meant some adjustments to what I found important.

Twelve years ago, I was sick as a dog, hugely pregnant and sleeping until time to go to the hospital to be induced with Elizabeth.  It had been a rocky pregnancy, lots of Emergency Room visits, including one to make sure she was still alive and doing well.   I was tired, I was sick and food was pretty much the last thing I wanted to think about or anything to help me stay hydrated.   Each pregnancy is different, but this pregnancy was filled with a lot of nausea, pain and by the time I went in to be induced, I just wanted to no longer be pregnant.   But my gall bladder came out, I figured out the workings of breast feeding and we found our rhythm, and something wonderful happened.  I bonded with my baby, I instinctively knew when she wanted to eat, when she needed a change, we even sighed in unison.  God knew I needed and Elizabeth needed that bond, it's what helped me know what she needed during those first few years when she wasn't very verbal.  But it also meant I was too close to her to see what others could see - something was different.   She made eye contact with Chris and I, but not with our friends or my mom, I was so thrilled to be a mom that it didn't occur to me that not all children talk in jargon or echo EVERYTHING.   Then the time came when we realized something wasn't quite right and after some time to wrap our heads around it and grieve, we started fighting. 

The little girl who could barely speak to others went to school, received speech therapy and suddenly became a talking machine.  And this Summer I actually said something I never thought I would say to Elizabeth. 
"Lizzie, Mommy needs you to play the quiet game.  No talking for ten minutes." 
And suddenly I was delighted. 

Tomorrow Elizabeth turns twelve years old and tomorrow she enters her last year of childhood before entering adolescence.  I'm not sure what God has in store for her or our family but I know that no matter what he has a plan for Lizzie and I can't wait to see his plans.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Worries






Worried. . . that was me until today.  I was actually very worried.  Last Fall I fell into a deep depression.  I was homesick, I missed a good ole fashioned Kansas Fall and I missed my mom who I hadn't seen in a year.  I was so worried, I prayed this Spring and asked God to either change my heart towards Washington or lay it on our hearts that He didn't intend for us to stay permanently in Washington (I'm still waiting on that answer by the way).  My biggest fear was that I would fall into a huge funk or worse end up sick again like last Winter.  We spent from October until March fighting one thing after the other. 

Today though I had a breakthrough and I'm not so worried about Fall anymore.  I realized I tend to be rock in crisis situations.  I've always just be a get in there and get the job done, deal with the stuff that needs to be dealt with and worry about the other emotional stuff later  kind of girl.  Well last Fall later finally caught up with me.  After three years of one crisis after another or one stressful situation after the other (both usually combined I might add), I finally had enough down time that it all caught up with me at once and suddenly that was it, I was D-O-N-E.

Chris realizing I needed to get away purposely planned so I could go visit my mom, but that wasn't possible, because she and Bud were out of town when I was going to go visit, so I went to Massachusetts instead and had a good time visiting with a friend of mine who had gone through Chris' second deployment with me (her ex husband had gone too, so we became battle buddies). 

Somehow for me, it has always helped if I can put the pieces together.  Unfortunately, life isn't always that simple, but this time, it all fell into place.  Duh?!  How had I not seen it before?  It also explained why I was so sick last Winter.  I wasn't in constant panic, or keep it together for everyone else mode and BAM!  Parasympathetic overshoot, big time and I was sick as a dog.  It impacted our homeschooling, it impacted my asthma, my emotional health, but it also gave me some down time.  So well I fell and dislocated my knee cap and sprained my left knee badly, it was just one more reason to take some down time and rest. 

Worried?  Not as much as I was before.  I still have plans to visit Leavenworth, WA to see their gorgeous fall foliage which was on MSN's top ten places to see for Fall foliage, but somehow I'm not dreading Fall as badly this year.  It could be the vacation we have planned which includes Mom and Bud meeting us or it could be the excitement of visiting Leavenworth, but honestly, I don't care why, I'm just thrilled to not be in a funk or feel hopeless this coming Fall. 

I hope you all have a great week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, August 5, 2013

Unplugged


I had been feeling tired, burned out and emotionally exhausted for a while.  I love working on the prayer group I started a while back, I love that Facebook allows me to interact with others who I would normally never get to see again.  I do not love the drama that goes with Facebook.

So I decided I would spend all of July unplugged from Social Media.  No Facebook, MyAutismTeam, or Twitter.  My husband laughed and didn't think I could do it.  So I logged out of Facebook on the desktop, my Kindle, and my phone and started July 1st.  What I found is I like being unplugged.  I prefer to have quieter evenings.  I even cut out a lot of our TV watching, those who know me, know that is huge.  TV was cheap entertainment when I was growing up and we just didn't have the money to go out and do things like other families, but we could pop popcorn, put on jammies, cuddle up and watch a movie at home. 

I enjoyed a quiet house.  AND I was able to focus more on my walk with Christ.  He had some things he laid on my heart and some things to say to me.  I also had the joy of playing Uno with Chris and the girls which included many giggles and guffaws.  We attended the Everett 4th of July parade, we took road trips, we went to the library and I discovered OverDrive which allows me to download books I borrow from the Everett Library and I can read some or borrow audio books.  It has been fun and restful. 

In taking a hiatus, I discovered I don't miss Social Media.  I will still keep my accounts open, but I know I won't be as active as I used to be.  The prayer group will still go on, I will still continue to lead in prayer as the Lord leads, but I also know I need to spend more time focusing on the girls. 
Beka is a smart little cookie.  I discovered she is at a third grade reading level and knows her Dolch Sight Words to that point.  I also got to listen to Lizzie read for me some more, she has come far from the little girl who I was contemplating holding back from 4th grade until she learned to read.  But I also discovered we need to be more challenging. 

My house is cleaner, my girls are happier and so is Chris and honestly, I am more at rest than I've been for a while.  It's lovely. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nostalgia

We have all heard the saying, "The only things you can be certain of are death and taxes."  I maintain they should add a third to that, you can count on life always changing.   Let's be honest, what hasn't changed since we were children and are now adults.

This week I have been overcome with waves of nostalgia. Missing things from when I was a child.  Camp Meeting, stores closed on Sundays, quieter times in general.  But especially Camp Meeting.
When I was a little girl, my dad got his first (and sadly only) job as a pastor of a small Nazarene church in a small town named Lindsay, OK.  I wasn't yet three when we moved and one of the compensations for him working in such a small church was that the district we worked for paid for us as a family to attend the Summer Camp Meetings.   

Even after Dad passed away, we still made it a priority to make it to camp meeting.  Anadarko, OK was only an hour or so away from where we lived at the time and we would go, pack a cooler and found ways to cut costs so we could attend.  I don't remember a lot about the sermons, because I was a child at the time, but we looked forward to camp meeting, we got to see our friends, we got to occasionally purchase a yummy treat from the Snack Shack, I played for hours with friends in red clay (I'm sure my mom was less thrilled about me playing in the dirt than I was, have you ever tried to remove red Oklahoma clay from clothing?  It's not an easy task.), for several years they had children's musicals.  I sang my first solo at Camp Meeting because I had a new baby sister. 

As I got older, I still looked forward to Camp Meeting but the sermons began to stick.  Even with that change, I still loved going because again we got to see our friends and catch up.  I remember playing, having fun, but I also remember late nights of Mom sitting around a card table with her friends laughing and playing SkipBo into the wee hours of the night, even though it meant I had to sleep with the lights on (not easy when you are on the top bunk).  We even had arts and crafts at times, which was fun. 

As a mom now, it's sad for me.  My girls have never been to Camp Meeting.  I moved to Kansas when I married Chris and they don't really have a Camp Meeting there.  But it isn't just Camp Meeting that is disappearing, slowly we are seeing Revival services go away, family camps are not as focused on God anymore and more on fun.  I miss these things, they changed and shaped who I grew up to become and it seems like such a disservice to our children to see them disappearing now.  While Camp Meetings may have started off as a fun way to reconnect with our friends for me as a child, they have since added a new dimension - a time to praise the Lord and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ and as I grew in Christ, to renew my faith and trust in God. 


What do you miss from childhood that is rapidly disappearing?

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Making Some Changes


One of the many neat things about homeschooling is you have a lot more freedom to work at your own pace.  This means I can work on Lizzie's timetable more than mine.  I know that sounds a bit like unschooling, but I have certain standards that need to be met each day.

However, I also have to confess that since we got sick in late November we have faced a series of setbacks, including a printer that doesn't want to work for me anymore.  So once our car is fixed, I plan to purchase a brand new computer so the girls and I can get back into a good school groove, even if we have to do school during the summer.  The beauty of homeschooling and not using a state school is I can work within the challenges we run into. 

I was doing a mixture of different curriculums, and then I discovered Practical Homeschooling from several girlfriends of mine on Facebook and the face and ideas of what I thought homeschooling was are changing. 

I admit I have been very frustrated with trying to keep track of all of the work and keep everyone on track.  Obviously, unless I switch us to an online school that is state run (that's not happening) or to Switched on Schoolhouse, I will have to be the one to do the grading.  However, upon discovering Practical Homeschooling online, I also discovered Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschooling. 
Here is the link if anyone is interested in checking it out.
http://allinonehomeschool.wordpress.com/

The woman who started Easy Peasy felt led by God to start making homeschooling an option and a free option.  So she has been kind enough to bless those of us who are frustrated with other options.  She uses online resources that are all free and you get to create lapbooks with your children, which I love, because it makes it a bit easier to track it all AND it means they get to learn how to be more responsible.  But the most important factor for me was that it helps me save space.

I live in a small apartment and we won't be moving for another year, so space is a commodity in short supply in our apartment.  I didn't think it would be a big difference when Sarah moved out to go to college, but we have quickly discovered we have a bit more space freedom.  We miss Sarah and would happily welcome her back in a heartbeat, but it's also nice for the girls to have a little more wiggle room. 

If homeschooling is something you want to do there are many free online resources.  www.starfall.com, YouTube has HarryKindergarten and KidsTV123 to help with Kindergarten curriculum, www.education.com, and http://www.crayola.com/ are all options you can check out with free printables to help supplement your youngster's education. 

What homeschooling ideas or resources have you found helpful?  Is there a curriculum you swear by?
How do you feel God has led you in school for your children? 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Changing of Season

It's that time of year again.  The time of year when the sun begins to shine here in Washington and it is little less hazardous to venture past the Puget Sound area.  I love Winter, but I enjoy when it's over too. 

Spring officially starts tomorrow and this year we are doing better financially and so we plan to take lots of mini trips.  Washington in Spring and Summer are part of my favorite things about living here.  No matter how gloomy I feel come Fall (I miss the colors from home),  I always seem to perk up come Spring and Summer. 

Maybe I perk up because I know no matter how warm it may get here, it will never be as hot as it used to get in Kansas and Oklahoma.  I hate being hot, gross, stinky and sweaty and summers in Kansas and Oklahoma entail all of the afforementions dislikes. 

Maybe it's because I live with gorgeous mountains on one side of me and The Sound with ocean water on the other.  Maybe it's because I love seeing the sun and exploring the new things we keep finding in Washington?

No matter what the reason is, Spring always reminds me of God's Promise after the flood.  How beautiful and green it must have looked as He created this planet he blessed us with, Earth.  How amazing and majestic that He created a whole world with various and differing climates!  Even with allergies, I find myself looking forward to shorts, flipflops, swimsuits and even better since I live in a cooler region - sun and fun minus the need for air conditioning. 

Don't get me wrong, it can get warm here, but after growing up in triple digit heat every summer of my life until we moved here, I am quite thrilled to enjoy baking in the summers here in Washington.  We no longer have to live on sandwiches, tuna salad, grilled chicken (grilled and frozen on cooler days) and I can heat up the apartment almost year round.  And somehow knowing that the heat won't last long makes it bearable when it gets super warm here. 

What are some of your favorite things about Spring?  How does it remind you of God's promises?  Do you see his majesty and splendor in nature?

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, March 8, 2013

What is Wealth?

What is wealth?  According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary online at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wealth wealth is " abundance of valuable material possessions or resources " or "a: all property that has a money value or an exchangeable value.  b: all material objects that have economic utility; especially: the stock of useful goods having economic value in existence at any one time."  Many strive to have this type of wealth. 

There is the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus a poor beggar in Luke 16: 19-31.   “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

As a child I grew up under the poverty line.  I knew we were poor, but it never meant much to me, except once in a while when we would see friends who had a lot of toys, or the latest everything.  My mom had a very good friend who's family did not really want for much financially.  One day after we had visited we were talking at dinner and we told my mom we wished we had what our friend had.  She was quiet for a few moments and then kindly reminded us that we had something our friends didn't have - healthy.  Heart problems were common in their family and one of their children had passed away while the remaining child still must monitor his health carefully and so must his mother.    It made an excellent point.  Financial comfort is nice, but money really can't purchase everything.  All of the money in the world cannot stop death from coming into your life or give you immediate health.  Sometimes the poorest people are the happiest people, because they are content with what they have and don't feel the need to always obtain more. 

My husband and I are not wealthy, but we are not poor either.  We are in the middle, but even we have times where God gently, or not so gently reminds us that we need to trust in him.  The year Chris was searching for a new job, was a year of trusting in God and that he would provide for our needs.  It wasn't always easy, and even I had moments where I looked up and asked, "God, I know you have a plan, but I'd love at least a small reassurance that you do have an actual tangible plan for you.  Preferably one that doesn't include us becoming homeless."  Thankfully, He did not make us wait an eternity to find out what his plan was and we moved to Washington in 2011.

What are your riches?  Are they your health?  Family?  Or do you keep moving through life always wanting more?  Where is your treasure stored up?" 

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen Koeppel

References:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16%3A19-31&version=NIV
and
 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wealth

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aging




I turn 39 years old today and I'm okay with that.  I really struggled with turning 34 years old.  For whatever reason it was an age I never saw myself hitting.  I think we all face it, we are aging.  We look older, the youth we enjoyed was much more fleeting than any of us thought and I'm positive seeing several funerals in one year and each of them being younger than I was did not help. 

So I have a year before I turn 40 and I'll be honest, I'm excited.  It means we are closer to retirement, closer to meeting God and getting new Heavenly bodies.  Don't misunderstand me I'm not planning to die any time soon, but there is something kind of exciting about the idea of being in an incorruptible body.  Maybe mine will be taller and thinner and not struggle with pesky dry skin so much.

The thirties have been an interesting decade.  In nine years I have seen quite a few funerals (a few I'd like to forget), two deployments, calling the police to my home (don't ask), a year of unemployment, I have seen my marriage strengthen and my husband blossom into the amazing man that God showed me he could be, we welcomed Sarah into our home and saw her off to college, we welcomed Beka into our family and home and she is charming.  We discovered Lizzie was on the Autism Spectrum with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, she started an awesome school that helped her so much and we have watched her blossom so much in nine years.  I also got some closure for some questions and issues that had nagged at me.  I said hellos and goodbyes, moved from Kansas to Washington and enjoyed getting to know some new people (Lisa, Cari, Patty and Amber and of course, the Knapps),  Lizzie has made new friends and we started homeschooling.  It's insane the different things that can happen when in nine short years.  So as I face one year until I hit 40 I find I'm excited and looking forward to see what the next eleven years hold for Chris, I and our family.

I hope you have a blessed weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear Sarah

 



Dear Sarah,

Someday years from now, there will be a day where you will think, "Gosh I wish Mom were here to tell me what to do."  It's strange to hear, but it's true.  I know there are times when I wonder what Grandpa Bob would tell me to do, but then again I wish I could have had that for ages.

So here are some things I really want you to take to heart.

1.  I love you.  Nothing, no one and no circumstance will ever, EVER make me love you any less.  You are my daughter and no matter what I will always love you.

2.  I am praying for you.  Being 18 years old seems like such an adventure and I remember being so excited to embark on a new life.  In truth if I could do it again I might have stayed closer to home and gone to Friends or WSU instead, but I also know I wouldn't trade my time at SNU for anything.

3.  When I was 18 years old I didn't think I was worthy.  I didn't think I deserved a good man.  I made choices I would happily undo if I could, and yet I can't so please be so careful before making a serious life altering choice.  Sex, marriage, college, the list could go on and on.

4.  Not everyone who says they want what's best for you really means it.  There are people who see that you have a kind heart, a forgiving heart and they will do their best to take advantage of that.  I don't say this not knowing what I'm talking about, I say this because you have grown to follow me.  I too had an extremely forgiving heart and nature and I still even now struggle with who to trust or trusting the wrong person.  When those people prove they don't deserve my respect or trust, it is still heartbreaking to me. 

5.  Make sure you find a young man who truly values you.  Any young man worthy of you will open doors for you, always walk on the outside of the sidewalk.  He will never use your money, he will insist on taking care of you, not the other way around (even if he doesn't really say it out loud, but his actions do).  A man worthy of you will want only what is best for you in EVERY area, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  He will put your needs first and never use you or try to manipulate you.  How do I know this?  Because your dad does all of those things and more. He supports my choices, enforces the rules with me, not against me, Daddy would NEVER dream of letting me pay for dates so we could go out.  In fact, when your dad and I were dating he always filled my gas tank before I left Wichita to go back to Oklahoma City, he checked my oil, bought me a working car radio because mine was broken and he ALWAYS handed me $20.  When we married, that never stopped.  He would come home after working third shift and make sure he took Lizzie downstairs so I could get some sleep, because he wanted to be sure I got plenty of rest.  He made sure I had the clothing I needed and he created stability that wasn't there.   Your dad was a gentleman who never tried to kiss me until I was ready and he didn't try to french kiss me until I was ready and he knew it.  He respected me and never pushed me past my boundaries unless I was ready and he was and still is considerate in other intimate ways... ALWAYS!  That's what a good man does for a woman he loves.  He never promises to pick her up and take her then not call until after she has texted him a million times and says, "Oops so and so decided to bring someone else."  Your dad would have called me and told me instead of allowing me to get dressed up and in warm clothing.   Remember the Love Chapter - Love is not self-seeking. . . it always protects. . . and those are just a few small things it says about love.   Which brings me to the next number.

6.  You are worthy and you are never, ever in the way.  This isn't just at our house, it's at Grandma Mary's house too.  I know people in your life before you came to live with us made you feel that way, but Sarah we would love nothing more than to have you back home AND I know Grandma is thrilled you are there, she tells me all the time.  You are worthy of so much, including love and I mean honest to goodness love. 

7.  If someone is telling you or encouraging you to make choices that are not what your Dad and I taught you, more than likely it's not correct.  Living with anyone is a tough situation.  Living with a young man is harder.  Sexual tension, expectations, and often what happens is women end up taking on the caretaker role only to realize later it isn't returned.  Any young man who values you and any person who values you will want you to make good choices. 
Living with a man means many things, including he can leave whenever he wants.  Don't misunderstand me, he can still leave if he marries you, but he can't marry another woman, or just walk away without legally going through some hoops in most states.  If you want to know what living with someone is like, live in a college dorm, cut some of the drama and voila, you have it. 

8.  There will always be choices you wish you could have changed.  It's a part of being human, we sometimes make bad decisions.  The  key is realizing after you've asked God's forgiveness that once He forgives you, YOU need to forgive you.  Regret can become a cancer that will eat you up.  Once it's done, it's done.  Why do you think I tried to talk to you about watching what you say and thinking before you speak.  It's very important because once you have said the words out loud, you can't take them back.  BTW the same goes for writing.  Be careful what you write, if you write something you don't want anyone else to see, burn it.  OR you can just leave it between you and God and keep some thoughts in your head.

9.  You are really known by the company you keep.  If you want to have a good outlook on life, hang around people who are positive and uplifting.  If you want to miserable all of the time, then hang out with people who are miserable.    But remember, usually how others act rubs off on us, the same goes for music, movies and books.  If you want to have a good outlook, then reading dark and morbid books or listening to depressing music is not the way to go.   It wasn't until after I realized this and began changing what music I listened to and the books that I read as well as my friends that life became a little more sunny.    I didn't become Pollyanna overnight, but the changes came gradually.

Last, but absolutely not the least.  Dad and I are so proud of you.  You could easily have made different choices in life, you could have done many things, but you have worked hard to overcome challenges from your childhood.  You are an amazing young woman and we are so thrilled you are enjoying college.  I know right now some of it is boring, but hang in there, it gets more challenging.

I love you, Sarah.
Always,
Mom