Monday, December 31, 2012

Blog Reflections of 2012: My Top Read Posts

Today, I wanted to reflect on my top read posts of 2012. Since you are reading this, in all likelihood you have already read these posts but I have linked them just in case. It was interesting to see what made my most read list. I keep telling my husband that he is very popular since his post is the most popular (the one that I wrote to him on our 19th anniversary.) As I glance over the top posts, I see that they have this in common: relationships. Grandparents to grandchildren, women friendships, About Me posts (which is blog readers building a relationship with this blog author), and my most read post is about marriage.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

My 5th most popular post of this year:
Vision of a Legacy. I wrote this post when I saw how my father-in-law would smile big at my children -- his grandchildren -- when they came into his ICU room. With the rest of us, he would try so hard to communicate what he would want us to do. With them, he would smile, listen, and laugh. So good for his soul. This was my pondering about those smiles of his.

The 4th most popular:
Make new friends, but keep the old. I wrote Part I on this post and I have yet to finish Part II. Oops! Thanks for waiting. This post is about friendship. It is good for me to reflect on the many friendships the Lord has given me through the years. I, too, get lonely, feel left-out, and want a closer friend. But truly, I have been given so much in this area. It takes pondering about it to realize it. So, thinking about friends is good for my soul like scrap-booking is good for my soul. Both requires me to meditate on the good gifts I've been given. I should do this more often.

The 3rd most popular post:
100 Things About Me: Part II.  I actually finished this part II. Thank you to all those that read all 100 items. Only one-fourth of those that read Part I, read Part II. It helps keep the humility in-tact. But, just in case you missed it. Here it is!

The 2nd most popular post:
Celebrating My 100th Post by Telling Everyone 100 Things About Me. I enjoyed composing this post. It is quite lengthy but truly helpful if you're really, really, really wanting to know about the author of this blog. Actually I do like reading posts like this on other blogs, that's the reason I felt free to indulge myself here.

And a big drum roll please for the top read post in 2012:
19 reasons I Love My Husband on our 19th Anniversary. Not only was this my top read post that I wrote in 2012, it is also my most popular post ever, by more than 300%. I love my husband. I love us. I love our marriage. So the popularity of this post causes me to think about writing more about this topic. I might just do that.

The following are the remaining runner's up to complete a Top 11 List: Not all of the Top Posts were about relationships I did include a recipe, book list, and some numbers. But even among these, it is mostly about numbers.

Dreaming of Books;  (Curriculum Planning Worksheet included!)
20 Things About Living in TN for 20 years;  (Would love more insight into this!)
Quick & Easy Mac & Cheese for the Masses;
 When God Calls, God provides; (About our Foster Care endeavors)
Empty Room, Empty Heart;  (About our Foster Care endeavors)
When Coca-cola Made Me Cry; and (About my Father-in-law) About
Siblings Round the Table at Days End (A Poem About Grief & Siblings)

Happy New Year!  
Linking with Jen. Click HERE to check out some great encouragement.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A year ago

Our Christmas 2012 photo: the six of us on vacation this summer. 
A year ago--almost to the day--I slipped on a step, twisted my knee, and needed rehab. No surgery needed, no exciting story to tell, just four months of physical therapy. That was December 27th, 2011.

Then, on the first Sunday of 2012, way back in January but just a few days after my injury, my pastor's wife felt compelled to read a devotional to the congregation. It was about how the Shepherd breaks the leg of  a sheep that wanders so that it learns to stay close to the Shepherd instead of wandering off all of the time.

It struck a chord with me even though I didn't feel like I had been wandering. Yet, my leg was wounded. I had a knee brace, crutches, and was arranging to have an MRI taken. Though I didn't know what it was, I had that sense it was a word from the Lord for me and so I trusted that in time it would be revealed how I had been wandering off.

Now, as I reflect on the year of 2012, I see that the Lord needed to draw me close to His heart for those  months. It wasn't due to sin & rebellion but rather it was preparation for future paths. I would desperately need easy recognition of His voice in the days ahead.

Without any official training, we would become foster parents for nine weeks. For a little over three weeks, we had eight children, for an additional five or so weeks we had five kids. It was an education on many levels. The most important lesson being about the provision of God. He sustains and works through me even when there is nothing left. Truly, that is when His best work usually occurs: when there is nothing left of me. At the very least I recognize it better because I know it definitely isn't me.

In the summertime, we had a small reprieve from unusual circumstances in which we crammed in as much fun as possible. Then, we returned to another crisis -- my father-in-law in the hospital trying to breathe after brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor. It has been 15 weeks, over three months. There has been healing and hope in the midst of many setbacks.

What I didn't know in January is how much I would need the Lord and how drained and empty I would feel by the time October rolled around. That was only six weeks into a still on-going trial. How hard it has been to remain daily in the Word. How hard it has been to remember to pray before meals This is from childhood, folks! I grew up giving thanks before every meal. It's what we do. It's kind of like forgetting to brush your teeth. (Now that I say that I have forgotten that a time or two, as well, but not nearly as often as giving thanks.) How could it be that I have forgotten my way in this?

The Lord is kind, gracious, and forgiving. I'm glad that I have been reminded of where I was in December of last year and all that He has brought my family and I through. He goes before us and behind us. I am so thankful. He gives friends and family to support and some really great memories mixed in with the hard stuff. He loves us. He heals us. He takes us through trials. He grows us.

May I stay close to the Shepherd always, no matter the circumstance.

* * *
How about you? Have you gotten caught up in end-of-year reflections? 
Any insight you want to share?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An overflowing life

Isn't it funny how look at all that I am blogging now...can just shut the blog posts from coming?!? Or could it be...that since I last posted, I have driven to and from

5 choir concerts

and 1 piano recital

1 choir rehersal

2 piano lessons

2 birthday parties

attended an Adoption Party

driven to AWANA

taught Worldview, Pre-Alegebra, Fractions, Not Equal & Equal, phonics, spelling

read aloud King Arthur and
work with the kids on how-to-play Chess unit study

been to visit my father-in-law in the hospital several times

written caring Bridge updates, called the hospital, 

had my contacts checked

had friends over for lunch

exchanged children for sleep-overs

had a 13 year-old's birthday party where my nails got done in a painting contest 
(and we had girls sleep-over, while the boys slept somewhere else)

and worked feverishly to finish my first digital on-line scrapbook, which I did 
& I ordered it to use my first-everGroupon

but it wasn't the project that I've been working, working, working on: which is 
2012: the year of Nutzo on Steroids in a photo album
only 969 photos on 78 digital pages that I am trying to condense into something affordable

i've also been directing each Sunday an Advent celebration for our small church
with the children in grades 2-9

that's all that I have been doing
instead of blogging 
or Christmas shopping 

What kind of craziness has come your way this December? 

may God's grace cover all


Saturday, December 1, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to a blog post...

A funny thing happened on the way to a blog post.
I read Rachelle Gardner's post "Should All Authors Blog?"

She said 'no, not all authors should blog.'
And you know what happened?

She said ...(many specific things that I encourage you to read on your own.... I'm only highlighting what  impacted me)...

...she said not to blog especially if you are constantly wondering what you should blog about and if you have been blogging for a year or more and the traffic doesn't seem worth it

I am that person!

Two of out of the five reasons were definitely me. I am constantly wondering what the focus of my blog should be. I have been blogging for over a year with very little traffic. I had two of the five reasons not to blog.

So you know what happened?

I started posting more than ever. Isn't that hilarious?!

Since her post dated on October 22, I have posted 10 times (including this one). Plus, I added an About Me page. 

Whew!  Nothing like having the pressure off to this "author" to free up my blog writing. I'm not even an author, yet. I have always dreamt of being one. I have a novel in my head. I have started it. I am eager to make progress on it. But...I am a long ways from needing that author's platform. I'm okay with that. But apparently it was hindering my writing.

Now, I'm not reading how to grow my traffic or how to meet the needs of my readers.
Instead, I'm writing.
Writing with no expectation.
Writing because I love writing.
Writing a blog because I love having an interactive audience. It's amazing how a few commenters keep me going. It is motivating to write more when someone is reading.

I think it just turned my 'have-to' into a 'get-to' as Michael Hyatt describes so well in his blog post HERE

Funny how the encouragement not to blog if it wasn't working for you was the inspiration to blog.

Thanks, Rachelle, because it sure feels good to write.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When coca-cola made me cry...

Fulfilled Longing
He had been silent for four weeks.
 And then he spoke.

He said, "Coca-cola"
Because that's what the speech therapist told him to say.

And I cried.
I wanted to weep.
Instead tears ran down my cheeks.

He spoke. Emotion erupted from my eyes. I didn't know how much I had been longing for him to speak again. Until those tears came streaming down.

Proverbs 13:12 says:
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

Silent tears giving testimony to a longing fulfilled. May he -- my father-in-law -- who is still in the hospital battling to clear his lungs speak ever, clearer and clearer.

* * * 
Have you been startled by the intensity of a longing fulfilled?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A sacrifice of praise

"Through Jesus, therefore, 
let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-- 
the fruit of lips that confess his name." 
Hebrews 13:15

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Choosing light and airy

Celebrating 7 years of Jack.
All four of them enjoying Jack's new gifts.
As of late, it has been fairly deep here at Kath Ink. I would like to publish something light and airy but....sigh... I do not feel very light & airy. After more than 8 weeks of my father-in-law in the hospital, and then this past week a dear friends' newborn landed in  NICU, I guess it can be expected that my thoughts have been on the melancholy side.

Thank you for the comments and prayers for my father-in-law. He is improving and has moved to rehab but there is still a long journey home.

But, today, I choose to look at the neat events that have also been strewn along the path these past eight weeks or so.  The easiest way to do that is through a few pictures. Enjoy.

Visiting Papa on Halloween night, all of us could visit!
A first choir concert.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Siblings round the table at day's end

Siblings 'round the table
At day's end
Many years since it's been
Just us

Wives, husbands, kids
Take their place around the table

But not tonight

Not at the end of this day
Nor at the end of that day
Both days
Breathing has been labored

And we gather

Because breath and life have been a struggle
In & out
Out & in
Labored & heavy

It is just the siblings here now
Children grown enough
To leave the adults
At the table
No in-laws either
They are busy taking care of other things

Just us

Gathered at the table
At the end of the waiting day
The miles apart
Have lessened

The tubes
The struggling of breath
The need for cheering one another's hearts
That comes by being in this loss

Around the table
Where we fought about whose turn it
Was to do the dishes
And we teased and scolded
And ate many meals
Siblings only
Just like the days of old

Except now
The battle is for life and breath

We wish it wasn't the suffering
That brought us here
Yet, we are
Together again as
Siblings round the table
At days end

* * *
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the vision of legacy

These four grandchildren at Mt. Vernon in September.
Today marks seven weeks that my father-in-law has been in the hospital. Twelve or so years ago my mom was in the hospital for seven weeks. It is a really long time to be in the hospital. Seven weeks has touched three months this time -- September, all of October, and November. It was twelve years ago (i think) that my mom spent seven weeks in the hospital. We know now that she was done at seven weeks. We don't know when my father-in-law will be done.

My mom had walked around with a ruptured appendix for 10 days and then went to the hospital. My mom and my dad were snowbirding in Florida when it happened. Thousands of miles from their support center. I had two kids -- a 1 year old and a baby. Once my mom was on a rehab floor and out of the restricted floors, I came down to see my mom with my baby. With my Sophie Sunshine. My dad really wanted us to come down because he needed a distraction for my mom because she was getting depressed being in the hospital so long.

Again I  see the grandchildren having a wonderful effect on a grandparent just as Baby Sophie had on my mom all those years ago. Grandpa brightens up so much when he sees the children. He smiles big and laughs and enjoys hearing about their lives. It is a beautiful gift to watch. Though I have four children, and he is glad to see all of them. My Sophie Sunshine is the one who chatters and chatters and interacts the most. Her job to bring sunshine to the world. Grandpa loves seeing the youngest, the one who shares his middle name, especially because he has only been able to see him a couple of times.  My oldest is sensitive and kind. He has had a hard time seeing his Papa but he is brave and continue to come and see his grandfather. Meagan always says I love you Grandpa. He always responds with "I love you, too" even if his voice has been muffled behind a breathing mask or silent with a trach tube. She clings to the gift of his love.  It is beautiful and benefits  me, too.

This way of my children bring sunshine to their grandparents, it is like glimpsing the intangible legacy. It is a gift to see the delight of a legacy.

Have you found a gift in a surprising place lately?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

"This is the day that the Lord has made, 
let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

On holding hands and telling stories

They sat together today. He in the chair. She on the bed. She held his hand. She told him about the grandchildren opening the trunk of costumes out in the barn. And the hours of fun the children had trying on costumes and looking at the mirror. And he smiled and laughed (a silent laugh but a laugh none-the-less). She told him how they caught a mole. And how Sophie held it. And how it had paws like shovels and silky fur. And he smiled and laughed some more.

 She asked him if he'll be able to polka in November when the kids come for Thanksgiving to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. He shrugged his shoulders.

We cheered when he sat in a chair today because it has been days and days and days since he sat in a chair. And the Occupational Therapist had him shrug his shoulders today. Perhaps that's why he was good at that.

He asked her to massage his arms. And she did. So lovingly. Together almost fifty years. Their oneness evidenced by me in the hospital today. Invited and welcomed to be there.

And we are thankful that he breathes today. Better than yesterday.

Thankful for today.
Thankful that he breathes.
Thankful that he communicates.
Thankful she held his hand and they shared life together today.
Thankful for a story about costumes and moles during a long hospital ICU stay.

Maybe more of my time should be spent holding hands and telling stories.
Creating more margin for the real space of real life to take place.

I am thankful for today, even though he is still in ICU, even though it has been longer than 30 days.
* * *

What are you thankful for today?

Linking with Ann, Jen and Emily this week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

FMF: On voice

My youngest using his voice.
 On voice.
My daughter sings with a lovely voice with the Nashville Children's Choir. My father-in-law has lost his voice due to a tracheostomy. And as a wanna-be-author, I am trying to find my voice. Speaking up for those who do not have a voice.Singing with a lovely voice. Learning to communicate without a voice.

Our voice speaks. Our voice needs to be heard. We want to be heard. We want to communicate. We want to interact. Some voices are high. Some are low. Sometimes we can hear the voices but we do not understand what is being said.

Voices. Unique. A way to give thought. A way to interact. Voicing our opinions. Voice: it is important.

Whew! I haven't participated in Five Minute Friday in awhile. (Click HERE if you are interested in participating or reading other entries.) This was a hard go. But I am going to play along and hit publish after five minutes of writing with no editing. Publishing as is! Yikes!  Obviously, I need to keep practicing this exercise of writing for five minutes on a topic.

Happy Friday friends. What would you like to voice today?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On root canals & mother comfort

Kip & I on the front porch of Mt. Vernon on our recent vacation.
I spoke with my mom yesterday. I told her that I had a root canal done. She said, oh is that your first one? She told me that she has had three or four done. And that she has 8-9 crowns. I'm in the process of getting my first crown for the tooth that they did the root canal on.

Why is it that I feel better now that I know my mom has also had a root canal done and has crowns? Not sure. But she still has all of her teeth and no dentures. Is it simply hope to keep my teeth? Or is it the knowing that I'm not the only one?

I know a few other friends who have also had them done. But it made me feel better knowing that my mom had had them done. Kind of like a mom hug from across the  miles.

I guess the comfort of a mother is a lifelong gift to treasure while we can.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A 30 Day Prayer

art by Kathleen Jaeger
For 30 days my father-in-law has been in the hospital. For half of those days, he has needed help to breathe with a ventilator. For 21 of those days, he has been in ICU. For the last week, he has been in a regular room with no major set-backs. This week has been slow & steady progress, much better than the drastic up & down roller-coaster we had been on.

A week with no major set-backs has meant that I have cleaned the bathrooms, straightened the house, made a meal plan for the first time in awhile. My daughter was able to practice the piano every day.

The past thirty days -- though filled with crisis, pain, tears, confusion, and a lot of driving. They have also been filled with time spent with friends and family around the table sharing stories. Lots of prayers and hugs. Lots of out of town family coming into town.

Today I felt very, very drained. In my devotional the verses said, "Consider it all joy when you encounter trials of various kinds..." and "bring the sacrifice of thank offerings..." Though the week itself was lighter, I think the stress & difficulty of the past 3 weeks caught up and came crashing down upon me.

At just the right time, a friend sent a note with a Starbuck's gift card and a verse about the soul being just the right time there was spiritual encouragement at a Bible study and a very real meal delivered to me & my family.

It is easy to think of how tired I am. How hard it has been. It takes effort to focus on the amazing timing of events displaying God's love and care in the midst of great strain. But I do want to focus on that. This post is part of that...but know there is struggle and there is life. And there is  a God who cares about us all.

Thank you, God for breath. Thank for the progress of my father-in-law this week.

Also linking with Jen, click here for more encouragement.
* * * 
How about you? Has there been a season of trial in which you could still see God working and displaying His loving-kindness?

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 pieces of advice for a mother-to-be

A diaper cake created by my lovely daughters Sophie & Meagan.
Over the weekend, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend and I've been thinking about words of wisdom that I would give to this new momma-to-be. Oh, there are lots of particulars that I remember having to learn. Such as which foods to feed when and such.And I don't remember those particulars anymore (even though my youngest is only 6).But these are some  principles that I gleaned along the way. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. But here goes:

Peek at your children every night when they are asleep.
Look at that beautiful, sleeping face that you love without smudges, tears, or temper tantrums and fall back in-love with your baby. The harder the day; the more crucial it is to peek at them.

"Are you peeking again?" My husband would say, as he climbed out of bed to join me in my nightly ritual. Soon enough, he was as addicted to peeking as I was.

Hmmmm. It has been awhile since I've peeked at the children. Perhaps it's time to begin again. Or perhaps it's because they often go to bed just before me and are not yet asleep. Our stage has changed which leads us to the next tip:

Embrace the stage
Each stage of mothering has its challenges...and its joys. When they are newborns, they interrupt your sleep. A. Lot.  But they also fall asleep in your arms. They cry but smile only at you. Toddlers challenge your directions but they are fascinated with discoveries. Dandelions become wishing flowers. They are seeing the world for the first time, reminding us adults of fascinating discoveries we've forgotten long ago.

When the interrupted sleep and the seemingly constant challenges to our authority tempts us to wish they were older OR were already potty-trained. Remember, that we are also wishing away the cute hugs and kisses, how easy they are to hold or whatever the treasure of that stage is.

Embrace each stage with its challenges and joys.

Do what works.
Yes, seek wisdom. Read some books, ask some questions of mom peers and older-than-you moms. But in the what works. Which really means: gain confidence in your own motherly insight.

Even the first time they hand a crying baby to you over the very experienced moms in the room because you're the mom and you don't have as much mothering experience. Even then you're the expert because you're the mom of this baby and you love that baby in a way no one else does.

That love goes a long way.

I gleaned this hint of Do What Works just a day  into the new motherhood journey. In the hospital, struggling to nurse my newborn. The night nurse handed me a nursing shield. I didn't want to use it because all of the expert books said that this would confuse the baby and hinder his bonding process.

In the middle of the night, the nurse gently said, "You do what works." I used the shield. The baby & I both calmed down as he nourished his hungry, growing body. Even though I worried about what I was doing. If it was right or wrong. In the end it worked. My baby grew.

And as I grew in my motherly confidence, I realized that what works in your home looks a lot different from the books or how someone explains it to you. So if it is working, don't worry. Embrace it. Be thankful that it's working. Because there are certainly times when nothing works.

And for those times, remember this: 

When all else fails, send them to bed.
My mother in law told me this. So when "do what works" isn't working. Send them to bed. Turns out that this philosophy works well for toddlers, teenagers, and moms, too!.

Many times when I am in the kitchen prepping the next meal and the kids are fussing and I can barely think, then "when all else fails, send them to bed" floats into my mind.

Sometimes this means picking them up and setting them in their cribs. Sometimes it means they will walk to their beds and climb in with little or no fuss. Sometimes they won't go... and well that's another  story. But if they will go I highly recommend this practice.

Some quiet moments on the bed gives a needed break from each other's expectations. We need a place to be quiet, to think, pray, read, or sleep by ourselves without a screen to amuse us. This is a learned skill. And an important one at that because it refreshes the soul.

But do remember that not all things are solved during a 30 minute nap so hear this:

It takes time.
My mother-in-law said this when I was lamenting about how long it was taking to potty-train my first child. She said, "It takes time." In our high pressure culture to do, to see, to conquer. It's hard to slow down and take the time.

But that is what the children need. Time. It takes time to comb the tangles out. It takes time to learn how to use a toilet after years of never having used one.It takes time to walk from here to there.

This is an overarching principle:. It takes time. It takes time for a baby to become an adult. If it was quick and easy, we would be like the animals who send their children off in a year's time. But we don't. We have a much longer learning curve than that.

Our lives are in process. We all need time. Time to be who we are created to be. Parenting takes time. And in this culture where time is almost as precious as money and fame, it is a self-sacrificing place to take the time to walk as slow as a toddler needs.

To take the time to teach and to train instead of fussing at them for things they couldn't possibly know. It takes time to embrace the moment. Time to find what works and to do it. Time to send them to bed and take a break to breathe. Time to peek at them.

Take the time. Because before you know it seven minutes will have gone by and they'll be gone.

  * * *
What would you add?  What are some principles of parenting that you have gleaned? 

Linking with Jen at SDG sisters, click HERE for more inspiration.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On tears

The pages are wrinkled
In that spot

In that spot where
The tears that have fallen
So many times

Were they the tears during the hardest nine months?
Were they the tears for the one we lost?
Were they the tears from the lonely nights?
Tears from the times I'd blown it again?
Were they the tears from the years we ached for children?
Were they  the tears of sadness for my sister, her husband, and daughter
Who lost him to a battle of cancer

Are they for the child who wishes he knew
Where his mother was when he woke up

I opened the book
My eyes saw it again
The wrinkled spot on the page

In that wrinkled spot
It is...written

He hears my cry
He counts my tears
And captures them in a bottle
Mourning may last for the night
But a shout of joy comes in the morning

And so I wait for the morning

With my tears
And the pages
Written by my God

Who will rescue us from here.
One day.
And wipe away those tears
* * *
Linking with Jen and with Emily.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How a Six-Year-Old Can Change your Perspective

Sometimes it is all about perspective. Is it a weed that makes the neighbors disdain your yard or is it a wishing flower? It depends if it's the perspective of a retired neighbor or a six-year old child.

I have loved this current batch of pictures from my six year old. How often do I miss the nuance of light casting shadows of me? Almost all of the time. But he saw this, captured it. A piece of him. A moment in time. He captured my heart because he captured  a piece of himself.

How often do I miss these memories-- these gifts of love --  in the cozy corner of my bedroom? Even though most of the time, I see these flowers in a can as a mere dust collector, the sentimental pack-rat that I am can't throw it away.

Am I taking the time to see the  reminders of the people who love me: my first-born son so creative making duct tape flowers, a flower hair-clip from good friends at a surprise anniversary celebration while we were camping, plastic flowers from a child to a mommy who loves flowers.

My choice? To see a crowded shelf that doesn't get dusted or a shelf full of memories of people who know me and know that I love flowers.

Sometimes I need to look up. My perspective would change by looking up. If it was me, I would never have looked up & taken a picture. I don't like these lights. To me they symbolize the many things that I wish I would change in my house. Ahhh.

But my six-year-old son looks up and takes a picture. And I like it. It looks cool and artsy. Sometimes looking up changes everything.

Perhaps one day I will ride carefree in a red convertible like this!
A six-year-old taking pictures on my camera caused me to look at the everyday things around me and put a new perspective on them.  

What about you? Has anything caused you to look at things differently?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What we did last weekend

We needed to work. We didn't really feel like working. So we wore hats.
On Saturday morning, I awoke to a hubby who had mapped out our upcoming days. We've been so busy, we've barely had a moment to talk. Our children love to tell us stories & show us things, which is delightful. But it also makes it very difficult to have a conversation, much less plan. So the hubby had the brilliant idea to make sure the kids each had something to do. Then, he taped off the area with a reminder not to disturb us.     

Sometimes it is just a simple sign that works. Our oldest thought we were quite silly and had to take pictures. What he didn't know is that he read my mind. I had wanted pictures taken and he took care of that without being asked.

Does this happen at your house? The ranch dressing fell out of the fridge onto the floor. The youngest rushed to put cones around the scene of the accident.

Last weekend was really quite ordinary. Yet, when we added some hats and construction cones, it spiced things up a bit. It was almost like underscoring our lives with music as if we were in a movie. Almost. I did say almost.

What's up with your weekend -- either last weekend or this one? What will be underscoring your weekend? Spills and plans? Hats and cones?
Here's hoping you have a good one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When red becomes your blue

Who knew that  a pot of flowers could be so persuasive?
Usually my favorite color is blue. Me, the one who hails from the land of 10,000 lakes, am in love with the many nuances of water. Therefore, my favorite color is blue. 

But not this summer.

This summer, my favorite color is red. 

It's not that I don't like red. I just love blue, yellow, and purple so much more. Usually.  But not right now. 

Red petunias chosen and planted by Grandma and the kids while I was away tending to the needs of other children are half the reason red is my favorite color this season.

I wouldn't have picked them. And, truth be told, I later went and picked purple and white petunias. To add to the red flowers. 

The Chosen By Others Flowers (or the red petunias) are growing abundantly on the front porch, back porch, and at the side of our house. They have continued to flourish in spite of 100 degree days. (We did water in healthy amounts!)

Not so the purple and white petunias I picked. We watered them the same, so perhaps it was the squirrels that destroyed them with their nut plantings. Either way, only the red survive.
Flowers I didn't choose have made me happy and thankful. I am also happy and thankful for the two new lawn chairs in the backyard. I did pick those. But not the color. Because, they are, you guessed it -- red.

Remember, I love blue, not red. You see, I was waiting for the blue chairs to go on sale. While I waited, all the black ones sold out except one. But I wanted two. The blue chairs were not yet on sale with only a few red ones left. I had to buy the red ones or perhaps forgo getting any this season. 

So I did. 

I bought two red lawn chairs. 

Yep. Red. A color I wouldn't normally pick. Yet, they look perfect on our back porch. See: 


Not only did I have two new lawn chairs. I had a new favorite color of the season -- red

Who knew? Who knew that this season red would be my favorite color? I had no idea and this just falls in line with my year so far, except in a much more delightful way. 

This year has been filled with surprises that I did not expect, much less plan. First, a twisted knee that required crutches, help, and physical therapy for several months. Next, there were the children God sent to live with us for three weeks and nine weeks, even though we weren't registered foster parents or relatives.


Proverbs 16:9 says 
 "A man's heart plans his ways, But the Lord directs His steps."

I have made plans. God has directed my steps. This year I have been able to see it more clearly than usual.  

And sometimes, God even directs your steps and your favorite color choice. 

* * *

How about you? 
Have you been delighted by any twists and turns in your life lately?

 Linking with Jen and Rachel.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Camp, Glorious Camp

I just love camp!
And it turns out the my children do too.

 But, why oh why, would this night owl love camp when it means I need to be in the kitchen by 6:30 a.m. cooking breakfast for 150 with two other cooks (one of whom is the head cook; I only assist.)? We work until 7 p.m. with a quick morning break, a lingering meal (after others have been served), and a two-hour break in the afternoon. Who signs up for this and likes it? Me! (And the others I was working with.)

This is not the lodge, nor the camper's lodgings.
To work alongside a group of people who all want to be there is encouraging. To mix up some muffins, cut fruit, bake cookies, and simmer some spaghetti sauce for the cause of Christ.Whatever you do, you can do it all for the glory of God.

In a rare find, I am the youngest and the tallest (I'm in the middle in purple.)
 To be around other believers all day. Coming back each year to see these women who I see once a year at camp is so fun, reminds of my camper/counseling days to have camp friends again. But now, we share bigger issues that we've been through -- job loss, losing the farm, losing a parent and a brother-in-law, children that we desire to see grow, becoming a grandma, watching our parents get older. Different issues. Same God. It is encouraging to see others still growing in Christ. I have seen the other women once a year for this week at camp. But this being the third year, we are talking about what the Lord has been doing in our lives the past three years.
Mixing up the yummy cheese muffins.

 I will also tell you this. There is something about having meaningful work. To work with our hands. These cheese muffins that one of the other chefs made were homemade, from scratch, and were just delicious. She even brought the recipe home.

It really is a gift to have meaningful work to do.

That people appreciate and need -- food!

It is also about seeing the body of Christ in action. It took us all day to fix three meals for all those people. I find it fascinating to learn how to cook in a commercial kitchen and to get big batches ready and hot all the same time for everyone.

We would hear of the maintenance's call to unclog the bathrooms. We would say to them, wow, you have a hard job. And they would shrug their shoulders and say it is not that bad. They enjoyed working shoulder-to-shoulder with their team. They also get to mow, to fill water balloons, and to participate in a Bible study and hang with their friends.

Others would look at us and say, you have a hard job. I would shrug my shoulders and say. "It's not that bad." And certainly not as hard as washing pots and pans!

Each cog in the wheel. In its own place doing their own job made the wheels run around. The directors directing. The teachers teaching. The cabin counselors leading their campers, being mom & dad for a week. Being fun, listening, leading devotions, swimming in the pool and being dunked, leading activities. I look at them and think they have a hard job, especially sleeping in un-air-conditioned buildings for a week at a time. All summer long for some of them.

But each of us loves our job. I loved being a cabin counselor when I was in high-school and college. It would be a bit harder for me now.

And the really cool thing about having high school students and college students leading the kids, is that the kids see that following their faith, and being in love with Jesus isn't just reserved for the adults. It is for anybody. It is for these fun, cool people who lead music and tell lame jokes (and occasionally a good one) People who will play Ga-Ga ball with them, and make them sing for a package. These people who will stay behind and take you to the nurse. Who will listen to you cry when your dad has lost his job and your uncle died a couple months ago. Who will reassure you about your faith in Christ. Who will rejoice with you when you shot the arrow onto the target for the first time today. Who will talk with you about that day's chapel lesson. Who will spray shaving cream on their head and let people throw cheese puffs at them.

These people love the Lord. And the kids can think, "And they're just like me. They're just a little bit older than me. How cool for the Cool People to be loving the Lord."

Each cog in the wheel. Doing their part. Each of us waking up early. Sleeping soundly at night (unless of course a thunderstorm is crashing through your special tenting night.). It is the body of Christ. Encouragaing one another. Working through conflict. Loving the Lord. Having meaningful work.

Did you ever consider this as part of your meaningful work?
I am so glad to be able to be a part of it. Even if it means a very grumpy week this week as we all re-acclimate to home life with each other (or re-entry as my friends & I call it.)

It is worth it!

I just love camp! And it turns out that my kids do, too.
* * *
So that's what we've been doing this July. How about you? Is there some meaningful work in your life that surprises you how much you like it? Even if it means a week of the grumpies -- or some equivalent cost --around your place?

Love, Kathleen

Linking up with Jen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

19 Reasons I Love My Husband on Our 19th Anniversary

Celebrating our 19th anniversary in Pensacola, FL
Five days and nineteen years ago, my husband and I pledged our lives, our love, and honor to one another. In celebration of this momentous occasion, I have penned nineteen reasons that I love him.

 19. His penchant for hats.

Easter Sunday 2012
18. His diligence to look for a job during our Sea of Saturdays (what I termed our season of unemployment because every day felt like a Saturday with Daddy around all of the time). I knew he provided for us faithfully but his perseverance in making cold calls, writing and re-writing his resume,  filling out on-line applications gave me new appreciation for this hat-wearing man.

17. I love his ability to build things. He built a clubhouse for the kids out of a wooden fence that someone had discarded. He bought a box of nails and waa-la we have a clubhouse. He also built a tree house during the Sea of Saturdays.

16. He always wants to sit next to me whether it is at the dinner table, the pew at church, or the couch when we watch a movie. He scoots the kids over to sit next to me. Cherished in the little things I am.

Grizzly Adams with his wife in May 2012 before he shaved.
15. He is a simple man who enjoys simple pleasures. For instance, one of his main hobbies (he says) is growing hair. Look how much fun it can be to grow and shave off. Did you have any idea?

One of the first cuts.
He is just SO Silly!

14. His willing heart (and the kind of jobs he has had)  have allowed him to be available to troubleshoot problems with the kiddos during his work day. This kind of emotional support has been immeasurable to me.

Current Kip.
13. He is generous with his time and money: first with his family (we love vacation daddy!!), his friends, and those in need.

12. He drives 900 miles one way to take all of us to visit my family at least once a year. It's convenient that some of his family now live in the same city but for many years it was a commitment to keep us connected with extended family. It was important to both of us to find someone that fit in well with our family -- we succeeded! We truly enjoy vacationing with family -- what a gift that is.

11. I love how he learned to write cards and notes because it's my love language.

He is not a natural writer. (He is an excellent writer; he just doesn't do it often). When we were dating long-distance back in the day when our long-distance phone bills were costing us an arm and a leg, I would complain of how little he would write, certainly not up to my romantic ideals. He told me then that he had written to me more than anyone else in his life. I had to take it on faith back then but through the years he has written letters and postcards, even on short business trips figuring out how to send letters in advance from our city so that we would have some to open while he was away.

And just the other day -- on a random, ordinary day -- he left a card on the kitchen counter just because! Isn't he wonderful? (Is it getting too sappy yet? Breathe deep we're half-way through the list.)

10. He is an affectionate man, giving hugs and kisses because that's his love language. I have come to love it!

His penchant for hats slipped into his first half-marathon he ran this spring.
9. We love to play games together. The ones we play most often are: Yahtzee, Cribbage and Boggle. (His willingness to play Boggle with me is an act of love.)

8. The secondary love language for both of us is quality time which shows up in game playing, but also in almost daily or should I say --nightly -- talks debriefing about our day. I love it! So often he is ready for the sack but he devotes the time to talk with me. Now that IS true love!

7. I love his musical ability. He sings. He plays guitar. He drums. He breaks out into song often.

6. My planning heart can collide with his sequential "now what's next" ways. The flip side of this is that  he is great at being in this moment, right-now. Good for my soul, that is.

The Us Box in December 2011
5. I love his steady, happy self. He cheers up the household. It has steadied me much to be married to him.

4. I love his love for the Lord. He loves to go to church. He has such a clear idea of principles and just knows the right thing to do.

3. He works the equivalent of two jobs so that I can have the best job ever -- caring for our children and educating them. We have both been committed to that vision from the beginning.

2. He values my opinions, and my decisions. He trusts me. He supports me in so many ways. One of which is symbolized by allowing me to lead a women's Bible study. The kids are older so it doesn't cost quite as much now but he has always allowed me to have a ministry outside of our home.

Can you tell how much we like us by the amount of pix we take together?

1. The best thing that I love about Kip Jaeger is that I have been married to my best friend for 19 years. I have known him for more than half my life. He is the love of my life and my kindred spirit. I am thankful to have had so much time with him. May the Lord give us many more years to share.

How did you spend your Fourth of July? Would you like to count the ways you love your spouse?
Linking with Jen and the SDG sisters.
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