My Two Days at College – Day 1

 

Me...a klutz?      If you’ve been reading my blog with any regularity, you know I’ve had my share of adventures with handsome son #3 because of his knee injury in November.  Thanksgiving – 10 Reasons to Give Thanks   and  Tracks in the Snow    Yes, this is the same son to whom I recently repented for selling his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a garage sale.  A Little Ninja Repentance    

 

He finally had surgery two weeks ago, receiving a donor ACL.  Week of Extremes   For me, each day immediately after that ran into the other in a blur of post-op care.  I was both proud of him, and skeptical, when he decided he absolutely had to get back to college classes.  He is no wuss, but balancing a backpack bulging with books (how’s that for alliteration?), and trying to traverse, on crutches, a humongous campus parking lot packed with ice and snow, and filling ice bags between classes to treat his swollen leg during lectures, and…there was just no way.  So I offered to go along.

 

Day 1 – While he was in class, I sat in a commons area,  occupying myself  people watching and working on a project I’d brought.  The significant number of older adults walking the halls, also obviously students, excited me.  With my nest nearly empty, I daydreamed, I could do that!

 

Two hours later, the rhythmic click of crutches announced my son approaching.  He sat down, took off his brace, and propped his leg on the bench where I sat.  Time to fill ice bags.  But where?  Certain I could get ice from the soda machines, my son pointed me toward the cafeteria, which was extra crowded, since it was Inauguration Day and people were gathered in front of TV screens. 

 

Since I’d never been there before, I had no idea how to navigate the cafeteria set-up and system, but I finally found my way in line for the soda machine.  I had two hospital-issued ice bags with fairly small openings to fill.  I positioned the first bag under the dispenser and pressed the lever.  Chunks of ice clunked down onto the bag opening; some went in and some tinked on the metal grate below.  This was supposed to be easy.  I felt stressed.  I repositioned the bag to catch all the cubes, and pressed the lever again.  At the same time, without my noticing, the wide cuff of my winter  jacket depressed the lever to my left.  It dispensed chilled Coke into my perfectly-positioned sleeve, running over my watchband, down my arm, soaking my sweater to the elbow. 

 

What do you do with a sleeve of soda?  My immediate reflex was to lift my elbow and put my hand down.   Coke poured out my sleeve and joined the ice scattered on the counter.  Looking for a dry spot to set the ice bags, I scanned the area for napkins and grabbed a handful.    A collecting line of people behind me waited to get their paper cups, ice and choice of soda.  Oh, Lord, is this really happening?  I sopped up the mess, snatched the ice bags and got out of line. 

 

From a distance, I watched for a lull.  By the time it came, I’d figured a better system: fill paper cups with ice and step aside.  Put said cubes into ice bags at a table.  Simple.  But I had to go to college to learn that.

Bag Tag

 

          Blackbelt Oma  tagged me for this meme because she thinks it’s time for a little whimsey here.  She’s probably right, but I’m warning you, I’m a meme virgin.  I don’t know how to do all that tagging and linking and stuff so if I don’t get it right, you’re just gonna have to coach me.  Oh, ha-ha.  Coach.  That’s a famous name for bags, right?  I know that much, but, I’ll likely never own one of them.  But bags are what this meme is about and I’d already been thinking of posting a picture of mine, sometime, because I am quite fond of it.

 

        I got this for Christmas from Hero…after I picked it out…when I wasn’t even shopping for a bag.  I was actually on my way out of J.C. Penney’s after some Christmas shopping, when I realized I was going out the wrong door and would not find my car in that parking lot.  So, I was forced to go back through the store.  I promise I had no intention of looking at bags; I just chose that aisle because it was the most direct route to the correct exit.

 

        Actually, I don’t even like shopping for purses.  I bet I haven’t spent a hundred dollars – total – on bags in the last ten years.  But it just so happened that I did need one.  I’d even been telling the Lord that.  I wanted another black, suede purse exactly like the one I’d been using for more years than I’m willing to admit.  Since I had no hopes of finding any such thing, I simply didn’t look.

 

 

        But there I was, trying to maneuver down this narrow aisle, with my purchases and a bunch of flat gift boxes from Customer Service tucked under my arm, when I spotted this purse.  It was not black. It was not suede.  It was not anything I had in mind.  But I fell instantly in love with it.  To justify my spontaneous purchase of something for myself, when I was supposed to be shopping for others, seein’ it was Christmas time, I decided Hero could give it to me.  (He was more than delighted since malls and shopping are so not his favorite pastime.)  At 30% off, it was about $43 including tax.  Based on my previous record, that’s almost five years’ worth of bag budget.  Here’s she is:

 

 

 

         This meme is from Beth at Total Mom Haircut   (You really need to visit her blog.  She’s delightful!)
Here are Beth’s rules:

 1.)  “Post a picture of whatever bag you are carrying as of late.  No, you cannot go up to your closet and pull out that cute little purse you used back before you had kids.  I want to know what you carried today (or the last time you left the house – it’s freaking snowing here so you know I’m in my velour pants today and the green precious is sitting on the steps).”  Note: You’ll have to visit her blog to see her “Green Precious.”

  

2.)  “I want to know how much it cost 🙂 and this is not to judge, because I’m honestly telling you I was ready to put down some cash; I just got lucky.  This is for entertainment purposes only.  So spill it.  And if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, I’d love to hear it.  

 

3.)  “Tag some chicks.  And link back to this post so people know why the heck you’re showing everyone your diaper bag/non-diaper bag.”

 

I tag Amanda at I Am Mommy    She has two adorable boys, and a brand new baby daughter, so I’m guessing she might have a fun new girly-type diaper bag.  And I’m tagging Michelle at This One’s for the Girls  She hasn’t posted for a few days and I miss her wit and warmth.     

 

 (Don’t ask me about the variation in font sizes.  Like I said, I’m new at this and have very little idea what I’m doing.  This is what you get when you tag me! )

        

Inauguration Signs of Hope

 

        I am so excited about this inauguration!  If you’re thinking it’s because of how hopeful I am in our new President, it’s not.  But I’m not interested in bashing him either.  I’m excited about something entirely different.

        For eight years during the Clinton administration, I heard Christians bash Bill Clinton.  Then, a huge segment of the American church celebrated with great jubilation when George W. Bush was elected.  They thought he was The Man to finally turn our nation around.  Christians, from the other segment of the American church, have spent the past eight years shredding “W” with their sharp tongues. 

Today, with the inauguration of President Obama, that former President-devouring group is now celebrating with unbridled elation, believing their new President is the ultimate solution to America’s ills.  And Christians who didn’t vote for him are now facing the temptation to once again grab the baton of criticism and run with it.

But here’s what’s so exciting to me.  After sixteen years, I think we’re finally getting it.  This time, I am not hearing president-bashing from conservative Christians.  I am hearing heartfelt, humble commitments to pray for President Obama and his new administration.  Not just a smattering of these comments.  This is the overwhelming message I’m receiving from a widespread segment of conservative Christians. 

I believe this is what God has been waiting for.  And I believe this – not a Conservative, nor a Liberal President – is what can turn things around for our country: our humility, brokenness, repentance, and prayer.  In fact, God promised it would:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  II Chronicles 7:14  God will heal our land.  Not a man.  Not a conservative.  Not a liberal.  God! 

I just hope that neither group blows it by either sulking, if the new President succeeds, or gloating, by taking the credit for what God does.  If we do, we may find ourselves back to square one. 

Basic Kindness – 101

 

    

          “Plain, old, basic kindness – it’s Christian Kindergarten!”  (In my head, I also added “…for Pete’s sake!”)  I said that in exasperation, just the other day.  Believing it with all my heart.

 

This morning in my devotions, God’s word seemed to prove me wrong.  According to II Peter 1:5-7, kindness does not appear to be a virtue mastered in Christianity 101.  If the qualities there are listed in any semblance of spiritual growth order, it appears that what I thought was “basic,” is really more for those who are working on their Christian PhD.

 

Look how Peter builds it: “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”  Yikes!  Kindness is next only to “the greatest of these” – love – For Pete’s sake!  Get that?  For Pete’s sake?  II Pete?  Okay…

 

According to this list, it’s only after we reach a state of thinking we know it all, and have all the answers, and have ourselves under control, and we’re tenacious in faith, that we then qualify to apply for the PhD program of Kindness and Love.  (I wouldn’t get into a doctrinal argument about this; these are just my observances.)

 

So, as I was mulling this over today, wondering if I was really on to something…  I remembered Ephesians 4:32.  This verse has been a favorite of mine since I learned it in a song, as a child.  “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.”  (We sang in King James in those days.)  There it was again, “be kind, tenderhearted.”  The NIV says to be kind and compassionate.

 

So, I’m pondering all this…Why does “basic” kindness seem to be so difficult, so absent in the lives of many Christians?  What does it take to become tenderhearted?  As I’m asking myself these questions, I see an image in my mind of Round Steak, and what I do to prepare it.  With a special tool, I hammer it.  Over and over. I pulverize it until it becomes tender enough to be used. 

 

Hmmmmm…..  Kind people seem to be those who have been hammered by life.  Pulverized.  Broken.  They’ve reached the stage where whey know they don’t have it all together.  They’ve discovered they don’t have all the answers.  They’re devastated by their own weaknesses.  They have experienced failure.  They realize that any success is only by the grace of God.  They’re past criticizing and judging, because they are so painfully aware of how desperately they, themselves, are in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

 

When I think of people who touch my life the deepest, it isn’t those who have it all together, it’s those who are kind.  And I’m changing my mind about thinking it’s basic.

 

 But my gut still says kindness is basically necessary; and God’s word backs this upIn fact, Jesus takes it one step further, He commands us to love.

 

         

Week of Extremes

 

Wind Chill -51 degrees below zero.

 

The last few days have been ones of extremes… 

 

Extremely little sleep:  Late to bed.  Hero snored. 

Extremely early hour:  Up at 4:15 to get Handsome Son # 3 to hospital by 6 a.m. for surgery.  See Thanksgiving – 10 Reasons to Give Thanks      And ATracks in the Snow      

Extremely white knuckles:  Riding with Hero and said son through snow accumulated from all-night-long-and-still-going-on blizzard, to hospital. 

Extreme concern:  Son in surgery.  What mother wouldn’t freak be concerned? 

Extreme gratitude:  For those who spend years in school to become nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, orthopedic surgeons.  And for organ donors…in our case, an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) donor.       

Extreme vigilance:  24/7   Wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Extreme anguish (mine):  Remove brace.  Watch son follow doctor’s orders to try to bend leg the day after surgery.  “I’ve experienced new meaning for the word ‘pain,’” said son, who has a very high pain tolerance.

Extreme cold:  Woke this morning to learn we live in the coldest place in the U.S. (today) with a whopping wind chill of -51 degrees below zero.  I did not go out to bring in the mail.

Extreme beauty:  How can it be deadly cold, yet so beautiful?   

 

Extreme trepidation: First Physical Therapy session Friday.  Several people have told us/son that the pain from ACL surgery’s P.T. is excruciating.

Extreme gratitude:  For prayers; for our son’s caring friends.

Extreme wimpyness:  Wish I could breeze through this without so much angst.  But I’m a mom.  That’s what we do.  What I do.   

Extreme trust:  Lord, he’s in Your hands.

  

Wanted – In-Law Stories

 

                What’s your in-law story?  I want to hear it! 

In my book for young women, “Secrets About Guys (that shouldn’t be secret),” I devote a chapter to nurturing healthy in-law relationships.  I posted an excerpt in my blog For Mothers of Boys – and Young Brides  and expanded on it here: For Mothers of Boys – And Brides – The Moral  Traffic from these posts, and the comments, confirm what we already know from history…it’s a hot topic!  Besides, think of all the mother-in-law jokes… 

            I’m working on another project about this topic and am now putting out a call for in-law stories.   I would like to hear what your relationship with your ILs is like…good, bad, ugly, amiable?  Don’t worry about privacy.  I won’t use real names even if you include them.  However, I do need your name so I can contact you if I use your story or have questions.

            If you’re willing to share about your relationship with your mother/daughter-in-law, please leave a comment letting me know.  I’ll contact you with info on where to send it.  And please spread the word.  The more stories, the better!

 

Reading on Narnia Winter Nights

 

It was a brutal winter; our first, living in the country.  (Somewhere we still have a photo stashed away from back then, showing our outdoor thermometer registering nearly forty below zero, Fahrenheit).  There was snow, snow, and more snow.  For a month, because of broken underground pipes to our well, we were without running water.  But that particular winter still nestles in the memories of our sons as one of the best ever.  That’s when we read through “The Chronicles of Narnia,” as a family.

 

That was the winter of 1993-94.  Flash forward to winter, 2009.  The holidays are behind us.  Kids are back in school.  We’re looking at the backside of winter.  But, depending on where you live, there’s still a long way to go before spring.  And the dreaded Mid-winter Doldrums are about to come upon us.

 

If you have kids, these next several weeks can either push you over the edge.  Or, as our family experienced, they can be the best part of winter!  Why not turn off the TV.  Shut off the computer.  Put away the Wii (for a little while).  Gather your young‘ns.  And grab a book!

 

For a thorough rundown on the life-long benefits, and also the “why,” “how,” and “what,” of reading aloud to children, see  “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” by Jim Trelease:

 

http://childrensbooks.about.com/cs/readalouds/fr/readaloudhandbk.htm  

My all-time favorite source for finding quality, age-appropriate literature for children is  http://www.sonlightcurriculum.com/   Sonlight Curriculum is a literature-based homeschool curriculum company, but you don’t have to be a homeschooler to purchase their books.  By clicking on “Homeschool Curriculum” at the top of their Home Page, you can find the right link to locate books for your child’s age and grade level.

 

I can practically promise you will be astonished by the vast variety of quality literature for children of all age levels.  Based on my previous experience with libraries, book stores and (shudder) school book fairs, (see: Not for the Faint of Heart ), I honestly never knew such rich resources existed. 

   

You can save money by sending for Sonlight’s catalog, and locating some of their recommended titles in your local library.  However, I warn you, you’ll likely want copies to own because these books will become favorites for your kids.

 

I know I’m raving.  Can’t help it.  I loved reading to my kids.  I loved instilling in them a love for learning.  I loved catching my boys (who didn’t like to read) reading books in bed, books they couldn’t put down! 

Have I convinced you to make this a Narnia winter?  Don’t worry about the long, cold weeks.  Gather your kids.  Hunker down.  Cozy in.  Read aloud.  In time, Aslan will roar.  And spring will come.