Friday, December 4, 2009

Four Letter Words

It is snowing.

I'm not pleased.

If you'll notice, snow is a four letter word. Especially in Wisconsin, where just 2 years ago we got eight feet of it. Not to mention all our veteran snow drivers act like they've lived in the tropics all their lives the first time we drive in it each year.

I'm not the only one using four letter words these days. This week when I picked up my 10 year old son from daycare, the conversation went something like this...
Teacher: I heard you said a bad word
Son: No I didn't
Teacher: Friend said you did, please tell me what you said
Son: I said son of b!$@%
Teahcer: You can't say that; that's a bad word
Son: Really? I saw it on Cat In The Hat, I think that's rated G
Now seriously, we watched it together on Thanksgiving. On ABC Family. He heard correctly. My jaw about hit the floor when Mike Myers said it.

There's been a lot of rearranging of visitation lately, which drives the kiddies up the wall. Right behind you. In the snow. I'm cranky. Trying to remember, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." ~Abraham Lincoln

So tomorrow we'll pay a visit to Santa at the mall. Try for the millionth time to get all the laundry done and put away (even for an hour!), pick out a Christmas Tree, and we'll watch a new Veggie Tales movie.

Quote That My Boy,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bestie Trip

Has it seriously been a month since I posted? ::waving hand:: Miss you! Lest you think I've been crying in my pillow, fear not. I actually put my big girl britches on and got to livin again. Enough is enough. I haven't been able to blog because my laptop is reduced to a fancy solitaire machine. No volume, no internet, and the battery is a joke too. When I can borrow my stepbrother's laptop, and sleep doesn't tip the scale, I'll be here. Santa, if you're listening....

My sister and I took a road trip to see Sam Bradley and Bobby Long play and had more fun than I remembered how to. If they're in your area, GO!

Kat and me (pay no attention to the random guy checkin her out!)Sam and KatMe and BobbyHe plays the most beautiful guitar I've ever seenShe's my Bestie.I learned a lot as we drove. (and drove and drove) This is probably a given, but road trippin with your bestie is a whole different experience than with 3 little ones and a spider. And watching the shows? It was almost a spiritual experience. I've never seen musicians like this; the music poured out of them. I may or may not have had a fan girl moment when we got in the car.

This is not everyday life, but it was a spectacular weekend. It's possible, I'm finding, to embrace both halves of myself. Mom and Me. Because I'm both. I've been starving half for a long time, in an effort to boost the other. Turns out I was crippling both. Last year I survived. This year I intend to thrive.

I was dreading Thanksgiving all week, but I came home on Wednesday night to Chex Mix and all of a sudden there it was, a spark I thought was doused. I've been fighting Christmas, X gets my children again this year (long story), but this morning as I drank peppermint coffee on the front porch, there it was, an ember.

I love it when God gets pushy with me for my own good. If snacks and coffee can bring sparks and embers, He alone will certainly bring the bonfire. I'll bring dreams and the marshmallows.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

One Year Later

This week as the anniversary drew near, a battle raged within me. Regret and gratitude. Today, by the power of Christ in me, I can say gratitude won. But in the heat of it, I was choking. Choking on the ghosts of who we were, where we came from.

One year ago I wrote, "He Said It With a Note"
He left today. Left me and our children. He said it with a note. We've been in on again off again counseling for years. But I didn't see this coming. Not so much that it's over; the end was near. But that he deceived us. That he snuck out of this family during the second church service. Came home, packed his clothes, left a note on the table and the song Forgiveness repeating on the kitchen stereo, and has refused to answer my calls. He said, "I'll see you later" to me at church and left a vague outline for visitation in his letter. He didn't even say goodbye to our children. In the first hour I would have crawled on broken glass soaked in lemon juice, done anything. But the longer he won't answer my calls, the more I read his Dear Jane letter, the longer I contemplate how I alone have to explain this to our three children... Please pray for them. Us grownups, we'll be fine. The children will too, but they'll never be the same. My heart is more broken for that than all the love lost. I have no words.

Last night, as I got my children ready for trick or treating alone, I remembered every minute of being a family at the same time a year ago. As I fought the panic rising in my throat, I put one foot in front of the other. Just as I have for 364 days. The house filled with people. With laughter; with love. Yes, I cracked when the children weren't watching. But yes, yes, yes He was with me.

Max Lucado wrote something to the effect of, when sheep come before their shepherd to be anointed with oil, they do not understand the oil soothes, or repels the flies. They simply know something amazing happens in the presence of the Master... and so it is with us. Amen.

This morning we went to church. We came home. And I did not, as my sister assured me, turn into a pumpkin. I raise my hands in praise to the One who knows. And He holds me close to the Father's heart with His. I still limp, but I'm not angry. Today I choose forgiveness again.

The Lord giveth and taketh away... Blessed be the Name of the Lord,

Monday, October 19, 2009


A local 20 year old woman heard this at her interview last week, "Oh no, we don't hire your kind. You should apply at Goodwill, they hire people like you." She has autism. If you can believe one worse, this happened at Savers. They are the for profit branch of Easter Seals.


One of my family members works with a support agency that helps families with children who have developmental disabilities find resources in the community. Her coworker heard the interviewer say it. I wonder if she fell of her chair.

I don't know if her family intends to sue, but, I'm sorry, did that recently become legal? Or almost not wrong? I'll never spend a dollar there again. I like a good deal as much as the next gal, but not when it costs that much.

Seems to me, it wasn't the one with autism, that had the disability.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


I love the musical numbers from Glee.

I used to sing. It was my first identity, my favorite escape. I had an amazing opportunity that I passed up after High School. That train left the station more than a decade ago; I was blessed with my oldest son when I was 19. I don't regret my choice, just that I stopped, let the dream fade out. It is true that you lose what you don't use.

I sing for Jesus. I sing for my babies. In the car. In the shower. In my head... and I tell myself it's enough. Because it has to be. Still, I go there in my dreams, to a dark stage, the cramped green room, the dizzying heights of the catwalks and the sound of the fly system. Downstage to dangle my legs over the edge and stare up at the sound booth, waiting for one light, one mic. To dig down into my soul and pull out the song that makes me... me.

If only I wasn't petrified of being heard. Can you believe it? Horrific stage fright. I've always been back row blessed in choir, and tend to belt the whole time.

Glee stirs up old memories that I can't run from and honestly don't want to. I loved dancing in character shoes until I couldn't stand up. "Run it again!" my director shouted as he banged the drumsticks together. Gladly. Opening night jitters, closing night tears. The memories compete for attention to the point that I can't separate them, but I'm left with the feeling. The need.

To let out what God put in.

The Word says to, "Write the vision..." (Habakkuk 2:2) I'm auditioning for the Praise and Worship team at our new church on Saturday. Church is the one place I let go, because it's not about me, or the faces, it's for His Glory. I miss my choir in Minnesota so much it hurts, but I believe God has a ministry here for me. It's time to stop wasting time.

Psalm 96:1,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Candy Fairy

Do you have a plan for your children's Halloween candy? My Works For Me Wednesday tip is the Candy Fairy.

After working so hard for their big haul, I let my kiddies have fun with their candy when they come in from the cold. (It's Wisconsin people. Where we purposefully plan costumes that will fit over snowsuits, just in case.) After they've had their (reasonable) fill, they pick out 10 favorites to keep. These are doled out over the next week. The rest goes back into their loot bags which get looped onto their doorknobs at bedtime.

When they wake up, the Candy Fairy has come, and much like the Tooth Fairy exchanges teeth for money, the candy has been exchanged for a toy. Does it need to be said that Childhood Obesity is an epidemic in our country? Do we really want need candy sitting around tempting everyone all the way to Christmas? NoThankYouVeryMuch. My children like to Trick or Treat. They like the candy. They love the toy.

But it does beg the question, what does the Candy Fairy do with her haul? Well. She has her own fun picking and choosing and donates the rest to the food pantry. Think about it. Food pantries all over the country are gearing up for Thanksgiving Dinner donations. What a blessing to treat other children, to more than just the basics.

The Chubbiest of Fairies,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Redeeming Time

I walked outside just now to feel the cool night air against my skin, to remember the world is big. I remembered something else, a glimpse of long ago. I wonder how long it will be before I forget the details of the life I used to have.

How much longer until I forget what tucking our children in together sounded like?

Until I forget what it felt like to have my hair brushed?

What it felt like to know I was not alone?

The season has changed here in Wisconsin. The air is crisp, the leaves are falling... and I am hurtling forward, faster than ever, to the 1 year mark. Have I come far enough?

How much longer until I forget what song was playing when I read the note X left on the kitchen table that Sunday?

Until I forget the panic that seized every fiber of my being, knowing I alone was left to explain his leaving to my children?

The feeling of suffocation those first days, weeks, that I could not breathe, because I didn't know how to be enough, be me, on my own.

There are moments, snapshots, that I concentrate on tucking away. And there are volumes I pray to burn. But each piece of the complex puzzle of my life, was laid out long before me. So on the advice of a dear friend, I am praying to redeem the date of November 1st.

Very soon after X left, my sister arrived in Minnesota to help. I will never forget the day she bought my children winter hats, boots and diapers. I was clinging to the cart to hold myself up, watching my 3 children meltdown in Target, looked at her with terror in my eyes and said, "I can't do this." And her resounding answer, "yes Carolynn, you can, you have to." She was right.

From this year I pray to remember, always, the safety in honesty.

To remember my family may not look like it did, but we are whole, and gaining ground.

What it feels like to pull my shoulders back and walk with my head up, not looking at my feet.

Most importantly, I will remember that my utter dependence on the Lord, is a daily walk. Sometimes minute by minute, but the time is always redeemed.

This week has brought blessings in such abundance, I cannot hold them. Why am I surprised? Malachi 3:10 ...see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing you will not have room for it. I had the best talk with my parents, received a box from a sister in Christ that took me to my knees... and went shopping for my children's winter gear again, this time with their grandparents. I could not only breathe, I laughed; we all did. Thank you, I praise the Lord for each of you.

Indeed, God has a sense of humor. We were approaching the dead of winter when this started. We survived it. It's coming again, I can feel it in the air, but I know we've already climbed this mountain. Having worn a path in it once, I'm confident we can do it again. What if it had been summer? The rug would be ready to be ripped from under my feet, undermining half the confidence I've built. No my friends, I already know what it takes to get 3 children up, dressed, fed and out the door before 7:00 a.m. I remember how to do it dressing 3 little bodies for the frozen tundra. I daily praise Jesus for the village that helps us. But I do not fear the task.

So yes, yes we have come far enough. The road is hard, but it's not much farther. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Code Word Is Charlotte

Every other weekend X and I meet halfway for his visitation. It's 5 hours of driving on those Fridays and another on Sundays. Whew! The last hour home is fierce; my kiddies have had it.

Today I employed a ruse and brought my parents' dog Cosmo with. Let me be the first to pass out high fives because he totally did the trick. For the first time no one was whining lemme out of this car!

On a semi related topic (hang in here with me), tonight I saw an update from my Australian pal's blog called Pigs Dust & Spiders. I warily opened her page because I'm very arachnophobic... (coast was clear, it was really cute) but it made me think of what I wrote last fall.

Here is an edited version of The Code Word is Charlotte...
On our last 5 hour road trip I had to make an important call. I find that I emit a pheromone when I'm on the phone, especially so in a moving car, that prompts my children to howl like wolves and hyenas. They're so charming sometimes.

I'm talking and every few seconds I get a, "mom, Mom, MOM!" to which I reply, "could you just hold on one second, don't you see I'm on the phone with your father?" This went on and as usual, ended when my call did. "What?! what was so important?" and then my son said it, "I saw a spider in the car."


Stay calm, do NOT panic. (I'm so panicking) Ok. Deep breaths.
Where is it?
I don't know anymore.
Well I saw it walking around on the ceiling but it's not there now.
Where did it go? Better yet, why didn't you tell me??
I tried but you said to wait cause you were on the phone.
Uh-oh, this is totally my fault.
I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. I'm sorry for shushing you sugar pie. Now, tell me exactly, where did it go?
Well it crawled around on the ceiling but I lost it when it got to your door.
Now is a good time to panic!

I have jumped off a 2 story balcony and undergone professional treatment for arachnopobia (which by the way made it worse); it's fierce. So I start praying and sent my son hunting with his shoe. He couldn't find it. Praise Jesus it never found me.

However. Should the situation arise in the future, the code word is Charlotte. If you ever, see anything, with more than 4 legs, Kill it and yell Charlotte! Friends, I drove like I had Terets. I twitched, brushed and randomly hollered for the rest of the drive.

Talk about learning to listen to my children. Luke 7:35 says Wisdom is proved right by her children. ...and never in all my life have I been so grateful to get out of the car.

On second thought, maybe next time I should bring the cat.

On the Road Again,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rockin' the Boat

Bedtime is a zoo.

You know that wind down period, when you're listening to your kiddies settle themselves in for the night? I've got a front row seat for mine. My daughter sleeps with me and the boys sleep in bunkbeds at the end of the big bed. Left to their own wiles they'd be up all night, so I always go to bed with them. And by go to bed I mean use my laptop as their nightlight and stay up way too late. Ahem.

Where was I? Zoo. Right. Inevitably someone gets the giggles... it's just like laughing in church, which we all know is contagious. Wrong. Contagious. Once they get going, it's hard to stop. (As a matter of fact my sister and I, to this day, cannot sit next to each other in church because we laugh ourselves silly; it's embarrassing!)

As soon as I get it together I put my Mom face on and give them "the look." My boys are just like the movie What About Bob, "I'll be quiet. ...I'll be peace." This just sets us off again! Last night everyone was riled up and I said (loudly) sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down you're rockin' the boat!

It reminded me of Sunday's message on Luke 8: 22-25. One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

Did Jesus not say they were going to the other side of the lake? When He's mapping out your route, trust Him. Most importantly, Pastor Londa pointed out that even these professional fishermen, who had Jesus in their boat, thought this storm was going to claim them. The Bible says rain will fall on the just and unjust alike. We will all have storms, but when Jesus is in your boat, you'll never sink.

Now, if I could just get my crew calmed down enough to impart such wisdom.

On a Boat to Heaven,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hot Leaves

Everywhere I look, the leaves are changing and falling. I positively adore autumn in the Midwest.

Last year my sons and I were watching the leaves fall outside our living room window and my youngest said, "why did God made some of the leaves hot Mama?" They're not hot baby, they're turning colors before they fall off the trees, I said. Of course he wanted to know why they needed to get off the tree and my oldest piped in, "that's easy, so God can make room for new ones to grow in their next season." From the mouths of babes I tell ya.

God does turn the heat on to make room for new growth. ...I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'they are my people' and they will say 'the Lord is our God." (Zechariah 13:9) Just so you know, if I was the betting kind, I'd bet we're going to be shiny when we come through. Downright blinding, because He doesn't do anything halfhearted.

There is progress in the pain of His heat. Think of it this way; when you put flour, sugar, raw eggs, salt and baking soda in a bowl it's not something you want to eat. You can mix everything together, still... notsomuch. It's not ready until you turn on the heat. After time in the oven that mess is cake! You know how I feel about cake... Turn it up!

It's Gettin' Hot In Here,

Monday, September 21, 2009


You and I have prayed for the last 300 days for what arrived in the mail today. Ladies and Gentlemen - CHILD SUPPORT!!!

Ecclesiastes 4:3 says there is a time to mourn, a time to laugh and a time to dance. Care to join me in a happy dance?

I don't know if words can convey my relief. I bought my daughter socks tonight. Put gas in the car. Let my children celebrate with sundaes - and I didn't pay in change.

The test is not over, it will take time to plan and save for a place of our own, but I can see it now. As down to the ground grateful as I am to my Dad and Stepmom for taking us in, I'm anxious to try live again on my own. But had it happened sooner, could I have stood up under it? Would I have rushed it and failed? I'm still learning.

Nearly everything we own has been in storage since December. My 3 children and I have shared 1 room for 9 months. And while painful at times, it has blessed me.

...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Yes, I miss my stuff. But I'm living without it. He who has the most toys does not in fact win. Yes, I long for 5 minutes of quiet in my own room... but I will ache to hear my babies sleep around me again. Yes there has been unrest in the village, but I love my family like crazy. My children and I have bonds of super glue and a solid foundation beneath us. Everything's gonna be alright.

I am so grateful for your prayers; they are never wasted on my children.

I Praise You Jesus,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Childhood Cancer Awareness

Did you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? Cancer remains the #1 disease killer of America's children - more than Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Asthma and AIDS combined. Statistically speaking, there are 7 children with Cancer in America that will not live out this day.

I followed and prayed for Coleman Scott on carepages last year; he was an incredibly brave 5 year old boy who left behind a twin brother. His mother wrote:

*On average 12,500 children and teens will be diagnosed with some form of cancer each year in this country; one in 330 children will develop cancer by age 20.
*Although the 5 year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children will die 5 years from the time of diagnosis. In the US almost 3,000 children do not survive cancer each year.
*Over the past 2 decades, only ONE new cancer drug has been approved for Pediatric use. Currently there are between 30-40,000 children undergoing cancer treatment in the US.
*As a nation, we spend over $14 Billion per year on the space program, but only $35 million on Childhood Cancer Research each year.
*There are 15 children diagnosed with cancer for every 1 child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS. Yet, the US invests approximately $95,000 for reasearch per victim of pediatric AIDS and only $20,000 for each victim of childhood cancer.
*Research funds are scarce as most money is diverted to well publicized adult forms of cancer, such as breast and prostate.

Please pray for a cure. Pray for grace and mercy on these families! As Coleman's mother said, "if it were your child, your baby, you would want someone to help you." The blogosphere has watched Tuesday's family suffer. Each one is one family too many.

Chili's Restaurant is donating 100% of their profits on September 28th. They've made a commitment to raise $50 million over 1o years on behalf of St. Jude's. Take this as the best excuse all year to go out to eat. Spread the word! You can make a difference.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom

Have you heard about the movement to stop complaining? Reverand Will Bowen had divine guidance when he rolled this one out.

Scientists say it takes people 21 days to form a new habit. His idea is to wear a bracelet as a physical reminder to stop complaining. If you do complain, you move the bracelet to your other wrist, until you have gone 21 days without moving it.

The average person complains 15-30 times a day! Reverend Bowen says 6 million people, in more than 80 countries have already requested their bracelets. 6 million times 20 (complaints per day) = 120 million complaints thwarted. Wowza. Not as easy as it sounds, it took him 3 1/2 months to get 21 consecutive days of non-complaining; it has taken others up to 7 months. But the progress is in the effort.

Withholding complaints is not a new concept. Do everything without complaining or arguing (Phillipians 2:14). Words have power. Speak life! If I say, "I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and smile." (Job 9:27)

I have an aversion to laytex, so I'm wearing a stretchy pearl bracelet instead of the free purple ones but the groundwork remains the same. Are there circumstances in my life to complain about? Yep. But His grace exceeds them! I said in the beginning of my do over that I didn't intend to waste it. Just eat your brownie, remember? Complaining, itself, is a waste.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29) Those, my friends, are true pearls of wisdom.

Day 1,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

Did I ever tell you my favorite movie is Dirty Dancing? I saw it in the theater when I was eight. I was responsible for sending our VCR to the shop not once, but twice, because I got the tape stuck from rewinding the final dance so often.
DIRTY DANCING- Final Dance - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

I'm a fan; I've had a spot in my heart for Patrick Swayze ever since. "Ga-gung... it's a feeling; a heartbeat." Tonight I'm aware not only of his unmeasurable talent as a dancer, actor and songwriter, but that he was a husband, a brother, a son. And a fighter.

At Stand Up to Cancer in September 2008 he said to a standing ovation "I dream that the word 'cure' will no longer be followed by the words 'it's impossible'. Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse."

Praying for his family tonight and keenly aware the world has lost a treasure, but he will not be forgotten.

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Go Big Red!

"So you all want to buy a tv, right?" he said. And we laughed, the 30+ of us standing around the television in Costco, watching the last 25 seconds of the Badger game's 4th quarter this afternoon.There was a collective groan as Fresno state tied the game, and a rush to the checkout lines. We tuned the radio into the game driving home - collective cheer as the Badgers won 34-31 in double overtime - Woot!

Go! Big! Red!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Later

I Remember.
God bless the victims, the families, the rescuers.
God Bless the USA.

By the Numbers

Me + My 3 = 4
on MN weekends for the briefest of moments 4 + X = 5
then 5 - 4 = Me

It's still a process, the recovery of divorce, for me and my 3. Just today I met with my son's Kindergarten teacher... he's that child in her class, they're less than 3 weeks into the year and we're having emergency planning meetings. I wanted a partner in it. My partner. But that's not how it is. So I will talk to X about it tomorrow, but it's very different from talking with him.

We are not 5. We are each 1 that share 3.

It still holds me by the throat sometimes.

This morning as I took it to God I tried to Be Still and Know - but I couldn't, I was Running to the Mercy Seat.

He said that I could come into His presence without fear; into the holy place where His mercy hovers near - I'm runnin' to the mercy seat. Where Jesus is callin' He said His grace would cover me. His blood will flow freely, it will provide the healin', come runnin' to the mercy seat. (Mercy Seat - Vicki Yohe)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Please pray for my son. He's been through a lot. But he is smart. He is able. And he is loved.

Jude 1:2,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

All Over the World

When Jesus said, "Go make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:35) it's hard to believe He knew there would be a blogosphere. But He did.

There's a map in my sidebar that asks, "Where in the World Are You?" I am astonished to see someone on every continent has sat under the Willow Tree with me. It reports each of these 38 countries have visited:
















Korea, Republic of


Libyan Arab Jamahiriya









Russian Federation



South Africa






United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States

Well hello great big world! I'm blessed you've come to sit awhile with me.

Bénédiction, Siunaukset, Ευλογία, ברכת, Benedizione, 祝福, 축복, Bendición, Błogosławieństwo, Binecuvântările, Благословения, Благослов, ให้ศีลให้พร, ...Blessings,