Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Change and anxiety

Elizabeth begins high school in two weeks. While other parents think clothing,  supplies, I have a few extra things. One of which is enough to make me want to run and hide, I.E.P.

For anyone new here who hasn't run that fun meeting it is where you discuss yiur child's strengths and the areas where they fall short.  This is a meeting only for students who have disabilities.  Our first I.E.P. meeting took all of the wind out of our sails. Nothing screams failure  (in my mom brain, not because anyone said that) like having a group if people dissect and tear down what your child deficiencies are. It isn't said meanly or to hurt you,  but that doesn't make it stink any less. These meeting make me anxious and exhausted by the end. No one is cruel or unkind but it stinks listening to these flaws and feeling that maybe if you had done this different or eaten something else maybe others could see what you see. An amazing, beautiful,  smart girl with an amazing heart. 

And the truth is that Elizabeth has come so far. The girl who struggled with echolalia and spoke in jargon now can talk the hind leg off of a mule and I treasure every time I have to ask her to stop talking. The child who could only parallel play at first can now interact more with others. She has good days and bad days, but thankfully we go to a church with kids who are kind. We still struggle with impulse control and speech but she has still come so far in her years since age four. A lot of how far she has come is because she had us and a good team.

A good team is key. Let me say that again,  A good team is key.  People who fight just as hard as you do to break through the barriers and yet help you keep your child emotionally intact, because they realize that while your child may not fit what the world sees as normal that doesn't mean they are any less awesome. A good team will see Elizabeth's amazing and beautiful mind. They will see it as an asset instead of a detriment.  A good team realizes that despite the frustration we all feel when it feels as if we may never progress that if we all keep trying then she will hit that milestone we are all working towards.  A good team utilizes Chris and I as her parents to help get through to her. We have had that team before,  I am praying we will have a team like that again this time around.

So ready or not here we go again. Public school is happening and I promised to give them a full year. Heaven help us all.

Have a good week.
Maureen

Monday, August 14, 2017

Challenges

Do you know what is tough?  Accepting who you are and that it means you can't be everything you wanted to be.  In theory I love the idea of throwing parties, adopting enough kids to need 20 million bedrooms, taking in refugees, finding a way to run a tiny house village for homeless people.  Those are the things I would love to do.  Now for the list of what I can actually do. 

1. Pray for you.  I may not be able to be at every single party you throw, or come to a ton of busy stuff, because crowds are overwhelming for me more and more as I grow older.  I can however, and often will pray for you.  Sometimes even if you don't ask for it.

2. Encourage and be a good cheerleader!  I am an excellent cheerleader online.  I have friends who sell Younique, Mary Kay, do Beach Body Coaching, sell doTerra (I tried, I am not a party girl, it's not me), the list could go on and on, but I'll spare you.  You know what I can't do - sell stuff.  Seriously, I've tried countless times, it is not my thing.  I cannot sell ice to an Eskimo. So I need to let that go already and just accept it.

3. I can make a mean cup of tea and I'm learning to make coffee so you can come over and visit.  Or I'll bring them to you so we can hang out and chill or you can talk. 

4. I can sing. That's self explanatory I think.

5. I can research the heck out of stuff for you.  Seriously, it is something I enjoy doing. I love learning new things and sharing them.

6. I can write.  I am working on becoming a word smith - good with my words, sharing my stories and hopefully someday sharing them by selling my books. :D 

7. I can bake some amazing cookies and fix a good meal for you.

8. I can sit and knit with you.

9. I can watch documentaries and tell you all about how fascinating I find them and I apologize if it isn't fascinating for you, but I'm going to ramble anyway.

10. I can give good hugs.

11. I can encourage you to grow in Christ with my words on here and in life.


Normally, I am a fly by the seat of my pants girl. You want to take a spontaneous road trip, let me work the logistics for a few minutes and I am there.  You need someone spur of the moment to babysit, I can usually do that. Do you need someone to help sing the National Anthem in front of a stadium full of people, I can be ready on the fly.  I can pitch in with set up and clean up, I can do a lot of things.  I cannot however, be overly social.  I am learning to accept that I am a homebody who loves to read a good book, knit and listen to a good audio book (borrowed or purchased, either one works for me). I am learning that with the gift of Empathy, comes a price - and if I want to stay standing and not have it take a huge toll on me emotionally or physically, I have to practice a lot of saying no.  Some people call it self care, I don't.  It has the word self in it.  And I don't want to be selfish, I also don't want to go insane.

By the way, I hate saying no.  It gets me into trouble a lot. Because I want to say no, but yes comes out of my mouth and then I'm over extended (it doesn't take much) and before I know it I end up sick.  I'm beginning to realize it's my mind and body's way of making sure I don't get too crazy with my schedule.   I hate hurting other people's feelings, but I am learning to do it to protect my family.

What are you good at?  Are you a great social networker?  Can you sell ice to an Eskimo?  Do you love to sit quietly and learn for day and weeks and months on end.  Share with me your list of what you can do.

I hope you all have a good week. 

In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Libraries in Heaven

I took a challenge yesterday from a fellow wordsmith,  my friend Tricia Goyer to spend 30 minutes writing. The results in two days have been interesting. Today definitely turned interesting as I began writing about Heaven and what it would mean to me or for me.

It started as a question. Do they have professional readers and writers in Heaven? It's an interesting question and began to evolve into more and I began dreaming of a HUMONGOUS  Heavenly Library for those whose sole job was to read and write to entertain others in Heaven or keep them informed of how everyone was doing or let them know if something exciting was coming. Stay with me and imagine this if you will.

Imagine an extremely large building filled with endless rooms filled with nothing but books and wood furnishings and wood work intricately carved to praise God and Chris.  Each room has long tables for those who need to write and research and huge cozy fireplaces with fires blazing.  Each fire let's off a different pleasing aroma.  Around these numerous fireplaces as overstuffed chairs and sofas with tables to place your beverage on and plenty of light to read by because the light is the Son and it never goes off. We can doze there if we want as we allow our brains to absorb the information we have learned. Or discuss what we have been reading and what we we have learned or are learning.   Maybe angels help us with research and find the books we need. Iwonder if the Heavenly librarian requires a inside voice too.

Will we ever tire in Heaven? Will we have freedom to choose our heavenly body? Or am I stuck being 5'3 and fluffy. Will I still require stepstools or ladders to reach my tea mugs? Or can I request of higher metabolism and a few extra inches to reach where I need to reach.  Or better yet, will my home be pint sized just for me and all who are height challenged have houses designed with our unique problems in mind. Jesus to his disciples he was going to prepare a place for them after all, will those homes be unique to each individual or uniform. . . I sincerely hope they are unique,  I'd rather not have to count to find my home. I can see me now, walking in to the wrong home as Chris tries to flag me down. Or a neighbor miscounted.  Oops, I'm sorry I seem to have miscounted again. Hey it that pot roast? Mind if I stay for supper? Will we have annoying neighbors in Heaven?

But the best thought to me, was the library.  The possibilities are endless! So many books and an eternity to read them?  What if Heaven for book worms was a HUMONGOUS library? I love that idea so much. It makes me giddy to think of it.

This is just an example of where my free writing went today. I hope as I practice each day I improve my skills and descriptive abilities.
So the question for the day is what would be your idea of Heaven?

Have a good week
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Books, loves and changing minds

I remember the day (not the specific date mind you, but when it happened) when I began to realize I really just wanted to finish my Bachelor's but maybe not in psychology much less go to graduate school for it.  I was following my advisor into her office and she was telling me how she was reading a book about James Watson a prominent psychologist already dead and gone and she was reading this for fun. . .I had no desire to read those books, much less for fun.

I admire those in psychology and studying it helped me understand myself, and those who had abused me better.  I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't studied that specific focus. And yet, it doesn't excite me as it once did. I had decided to minor in English for something to break up the monotony of constant studying. In the making that change,  I began to realize I enjoyed reading fiction and assorted types of literature much more than my psychology text books. That's problematic. . .not feeling excited to study what you've chosen.

So I decided to stay the course but would pursue English for my graduate work. Life got messy as it is apt to do and to this day I do not have my Bachelor's Degree. My husband is a sweet man, but he would like me to finish Psychology. . .no. It has been so long since I took Statistical Methods and Theory of Research Design that I would be hopelessly lost. You know where I wouldn't be lost? In an English class because I still read even now and work to incorporate classics into my reading list even now. I can and often do make notes in my books,  underline passages or quotes that I want to remember, and reread favorites often.
If I tried to finish my Psychology degree now,  I would fail miserably.  In part, because I'm not excited by it and also because I would be bored to tears. I would not,  however, be bored reading and discussing books.

Now for the tough question. Do I want to teach? No thank you. Teachers rock, teachers are amazing but I am not foolish enough to think I can succeed in that noble profession.  I can however, work on creating stories for people to read. Stories bursting out in my imagination. That I know I can do. Even at 43 years old, I know I can succeed at writing.

It's funny how we still in our 40's are figuring out who we are and who we will be or want to be. But for me the search is over. I will become a writer. Regardless of how successful I become or don't become. It's not really about money,  it's more about letting my imagination out and allowing it the freedom it has long been denied.

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Friend or Father

One of my favorite sounds in the world (even when my TMJ flares is hearing our girls and their excitement when they see Chris and call him Daddy.  Dads are very important. The role they play in the lives of their children has been proven repeatedly in studies.  In truth I don't need a study to tell me this because I see it in my own life. I had my dad for five short years. But those five years shaped me and what I thought a husband and dad should be. Seeing Chris with our girls and knowing these things always makes my heart full and it also makes me long for my dad.

1. My girls have no clue what it is like to not have Chris around.  There is no mourning for the what could have beens if he wasn't gone or wondering if he is proud of them. They know because he has made it a priority to be sure they know he loves them.

2. I love knowing that he is there for them even when I can't be. He is an amazing dad.  It has helped heal some of the pain I feel seeing him with them.

There is another father we can count on as well. God. But what if you didn't have a dad growing up? Or what if your example of a dad was not a good example.  There are some really awful dads out there. That's just wrong, but it is a reality in our world that is filled with sin and free will.

Sometimes, I think we focus on explaining that God is our father more than the fact that he wants a relationship with us. And Jesus came to be the bridge. God was the law maker as our Father,  and Paul even says that the law is death. But Christ stands in the gap. He is like our older big brother who says, "Wait a minute Dad, I already paid the price for that remember? It's forgiven."  God sent Jesus so he could understand our humanity more and so that we could see Grace on earth for a short time as Jesus His One and Only Son. God does not want to be all about rules. He realized that no one could follow the law and not mess up and that the act of continually sacrificing animals became a routine without the heart behind the act of requesting his forgiveness.  But when we truly and thoroughly begin to realize that there was ONE major sacrifice, a sacrifice that no animal or another human being could possibly make on their own because we are humans are imperfect, the weight of that and what it truly means makes our act of asking forgiveness of our sins even more humbling. Realizing we could NEVER possibly earn God's love by acts of goodness alone. We as humans will never, ever be righteous enough on our own to deserve or earn the gift Jesus and God gave us.  Which brings me to a new question.

What is sin? Off the top of my head or many people's heads,  I'm sure we think of thieves, murderers, serial killers, or child abusers. But sin is more than that. Sin is the willful disobedience of God. Sin is when we hold a grudge, or tell a white lie, when we take office supplies, or when we cheat on our time card. These seem like such small examples, but they are still sin. That's why in Romans we see it written,
"As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;"
(Romans 3:10 NIV
http://bible.com/111/rom.3.10.NIV)
that means even those who you see going to church, we are not without sin either.  The church is for sinners and we are ALL sinners, including Christians, even me.

In early June I was burned when I used too much lighter fluid and foolishly closed our grill lid. The flames had no place to go but out the side door straight at me. If it sounds like it hurt, I can assure you it did. In the car on our way to the Emergency Room, I was crying, "Oh God". That may seem small to many, but to me that is the name.of my God and my King. It is a very big deal. At that point, I was in so much agony that even now I am unsure if I was calling out to Him for help or if I was taking his name in vain. It bothered me. . .A LOT. So I prayed and asked him to forgive me. I would rather ask forgiveness and be certain, because I know God knew my heart and state of mind, but I was so blinded and confused by the pain, I couldn't tell. 

I am not sharing this to show you I am better than you. On the contrary I hope you see that even though I grew up in the church, even I still sin and have to seek forgiveness.  

Even as you read this if you are thinking But God could never forgive me, this woman has no idea what I have done. Let me assure you, God knows.  He has always known. And yet he loves you even now and wants to welcome you into his arms. He deeply wants a relationship with you. And you can find him if you seek him with all of your heart.

If you read this and want to ask Him into your heart it is as simple as this prayer.
God,
I am so sorry for everything I have done. I want you in my life and to be the King of my heart and life. Please come into my heart and forgive me of my sins.
Amen. 

Some of you may feel the need to confess your sins out loud.  You can alone, just you and God or find a Christian or friend who is a Christian and confess with them and pray more if you are led by God to do so.

So which is God? The man who made rules or the one who wants a relationship with us? He's both.

If you have prayed that prayer, Welcome to the Family!!

Maureen

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tough Questions and Good Books

Kennedy Stern has always led a sheltered life. Even though her parents are secret missionaries in China  she was sheltered, albeit privileged to see North Korean refugees training to go back to North Korea and spread God's word. Now a freshman at Harvard studying for pre-med nothing has prepared Kennedy for the tough experiences that change who she is and leaves her asking questions that could make or break her faith in God.

I started to read this box set of the first three books in the Kennedy Stern series because Alana Terry, a fellow author asked for reviews.  The set contains three books, UnPlanned, Paralyzed and Policed. What I didn't know was that I would find a set of books that are well written, thought provoking and that capture perfectly the time during a freshman year of college when many students find themselves asking tough questions about God and questioning what they truly think of Him and do they want a deeper walk with Him.

Here are the things I liked about the books.
1. Alana Terry does not back away from tough topics like abortion.  Which leads me to. . .

2. The first book UnPlanned doesn't have cut and dried answers and you see that in Kennedy's internal conflict.

3. Carl and Sandy Lindgren . . .these two characters are a constant source of support and nurturing as Kennedy faces abduction, being hunted by a killer and faces a corrupt cops actions and ramifications that she and someone she cares deeply for may face if she speaks out.

4. Interracial marriage and relationships.  This issue is discussed in the form of past experiences and present scenarios and even tackles race wars and what is happening currently.  The third book especially.

5. Questions about anxiety, depression and PTSD. After book 1 Kennedy has to face the aftermath of events in the first book. It is even discussed in book 3. Sometimes, God heals people from mental anguish, anxiety, depression or mental illness and sometimes he says no or wait.  This series covers that in a kind, compassionate way and even does a good job of explaining why healing may not always happen the way we wish it would (you know, right away instead of in God's perfect timing)

As someone who studied psychology in college as a major before leaving to marry and start a family and as the wife of a Veteran who struggles with PTSD, I liked how the issue was handled.

My only complaint? The books weren't long and left me wanting to find out more about Kennedy. . .I mean that is the best way possible.

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fur Babies

For several years I resisted the idea of getting pets.  Read through one of my older blogs.

Read here: http://koeppelclan.blogspot.com/2009/08/pets.html?m=1

We hadn't had a lot of luck.  But after buying a house here in Washington it felt like the time was right.  We have a larger yard, and a nice sized home that could accommodate an animal, it was time to begin praying. And so I began praying 


Slowly, after hunting and searching I found some good groups on Facebook and online and prayed. I prayed two things. First,  I asked God to bless us with the wisdom to know what dog would God wanted us to have. Second, I prayed for whatever dog we found, it's safety, protection,  etc. . .

A lot of times when we pray we want I stant results.  Being human it is easy to forget that God's timing isn't always ours, I know I struggle with this. I become impatient and want to know right away or to have something happen immediately.  As I grow older, God has gently taught me to wait because when He moves, everything happens quickly and falls perfectly into place.  

Finding Lily was no different. For two months I looked at dogs, read descriptions. I knew after prayer that we needed several things and didn't need several things. 

1. WE DID NOT NEED A FREE DOG.

In the past we were given free dogs. Really what this meant was the dog needed medical care or had behavioral issues the previous owner was unwilling or unable to address. In short, the dog was free because they hoped to get rid of the dog and so their problem became our problem.


2. WE NEEDED A DOG THAT HAD A SWEET TEMPERAMENT.

We seemed to get dogs with issues. Aggression issues, home broken issues, medical issues. It was a mess and what should have been an easy transition turned into a royal pain in the neck. We needed a dog who could be easy going, loving and low maintenance.  

3. WE NEEDED A DOG THAT WAS GOOD WITH CHILDREN.

We struggles with jealous dogs in the past, we needed a dog who was patient. 

We finally found all of those things in Lily. One day a new for sale add popped up on a garage sale group I was a part of. Lily was a little over a year old and needed a new home because her owner was gone a lot for work. She had a sweet disposition and was nicely house broken and her owner was just as excited to meet us as we were to meet him and Lily.  

We drove to the park a little nervous and wondering if we would meet our dog that day. We did! And we have enjoyed her immensely. She wasn't free, but she was worth every penny of the  $200. Truthfully, we should have paid more.  

We enjoyed her so much that when our oldest daughter came home to live with us she asked if she could adopt a cat.  She promised to take good care of the cat and be responsible for it. So we said yes. Lol, she found Mikhail and takes good care of him,  but I think he is adopting us. And he and Lily after a rough first few days play well together and are becoming friends. 

God answers prayers and pets are awesome, if you find the right pet. I have been sick a few times and spent yesterday sad (that's another story), both Lily and Mikhail never left my side. They snuggled me and hugged me. 

I'm so glad we changed our minds. I can't imagine our home without them. It seems we are pet people after all.

Have a good rest of your weekend.

In Christ, 

Maureen