background

Friday, December 20, 2013

My elf is more clever than your elf


I've got nothin'.

Sometimes it feels like we have nothing to give.  We've given it all.  We're maxed out and spent.  The checklist has been made and completed.  The volunteer opportunities, the meetings, the chauffeuring to multiple practices for multiple children at multiple times throughout the week, the full-time job.  And then the full-time job at home as well, including the housework, laundry, cooking, cleaning again...you know the routine.

That feeling of "will I ever get anything completed?" is very familiar.  Always wondering if I'm giving enough of my time, energy, and thought into what needs to be accomplished.  Just as I budget my money, is my time and energy being spent in the most wise ways?

These are daily thoughts.

Now let's add some lights, baby Jesus, concerts, parties, and a creepy elf that moves around your house at night creating messes!

The most wonderful time of the year can lead to even more stress.  I realize this is no surprise to any of you.  As our lists of tasks get longer, it's easy to feel empty and spent. 

Somehow the perfect Christmas card, choosing the perfect gifts to give, the perfect-looking homemade treats for the neighbors, and the "my elf is more clever than your elf" use up our energies.

Now, I have nothing against those elves.  Let's just say I'm so glad we don't have one at our house.

In recent years, I've tried to step back and enjoy the season more than just all that needs to be accomplished.  Enjoying the time with my kids and making memories with them, as well as getting that list done and all the boxes checked.  Impressing on their hearts and minds that Christmas is so much more.  Much of this is done while we decorate, while we shop for the perfect gifts and wrap beautiful gifts, while we dream of what is under the tree, while we bake.

But what else?  Is that enough?
It is, because all He wants is my heart. 
Giving my heart daily to my Savior is the perfect gift to give, and accepting His gift of Jesus is the best one to receive.


"What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I'd give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I'd do my part.
But what can I give Him?  I'll give Him my heart."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The most unlike places using the most unlikely folks

Amazed how there are times God can bless us in the most unlikely places using the most unlikely folks. 

Tonight I walked wearily into the pharmacy to get a med and drop off some others to be filled.  Believe it or not, we spend a lot of time and money at the pharmacy.  The ups and downs and "chronic" part of chronic illness does that.  At checkout, "It says the pharmacist needs to speak with you...." was what I heard the pharm tech say.

Thinking to myself that this was a waste of his and my time, that this med has been in our house for 11 years now, and please, just let me get on with my evening errands, I saw a very experienced pharmacist come to the counter.  A sweet, gentle man that has helped me before.

He looks over the med, and says something about how he guesses we are pretty used to this and what a potent med it is.

"Yes sir, he's been on it 11 years."

He went over his list of side effects and precautions, and ended with "Eleven years?  Wow.  That's something."

"Yes, since he was 28..."  then I said something about how little did we know when we got married so long ago that his health would be so different at such a young age.

The man then went on to encourage me and then say that he was proud of me and proud of both of us as a couple.

I couldn't quit staring at the sweet man as my eyes filled with tears.  (Confession: I have cried at the pharmacy before, but just once, when I was exhausted and there was way too much red tape to get through when all I wanted to do was to be able to take care of my husband)  My Dad's words to his kids always included that he was proud of us.

The pharmacist then continued with some wise words regarding determination and character.  He started to punch the keyboard to finish up the transaction and for some reason I asked if he had known my dad.

A smile came across his face.  He had worked with my dad a number of times at the hospital...his words were "your dad was a real genuine man."  For the next minute we talked about how God's plans aren't what we want sometimes...that if we had our way Dad would still be here, even though we both know he's much better off where he is now.

Thankful for the meds that keep Chad alive.
Thankful for the legacy of faith my Dad left.
Thankful for the man God put in my path tonight to give me encouragement on a night when I truly needed it.
Romans 8:28  "And we know all things work together for good for those that love God..."
"Love ya, proud of ya!"--Dad
 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Charlie Brown teacher-speak

Comfy leather seat.  An issue of  "Real Simple."  Hazelnut coffee.  Uplifting music playing.  These are the things that make going to the orthodontist so pleasant.  For parents. While my growing-so-fast-I-can't-believe-it son is in the back getting a follow up-after braces check, I am enjoying part of what I pay for.  Since we've experienced the orthodontist environment over the last 18 months, I have since been encouraging any of my children to become one when they grow up and then of course use it to serve others.  (And take care of their momma.)

Suddenly someone was sitting by me.  I had to look up from the article I was reading on refrigerator organization.
"Seth's mom?"
Surely she was sitting down by the wrong parent.  There had to be another Seth somewhere around here!  This feeling was what I imagine it feels like when you're a kid and are called to the principal's office.

Once I admitted I belonged to that offspring, she began to tell me what every parent wants to hear...that he must have quit wearing his night retainers(he said he had outgrown them, which seemed completely legit?), his permanent retainer had broken (he may have mentioned that during his state baseball tourney---shoot!) and his teeth had done some major shifting.

What?  It's been just a few weeks since he "forgot" to take his retainers to camp and then quit wearing them. 

The sweet young thing sitting by me then went through some monetary figures and some options with me, but honestly, it was all Charlie Brown teacher-esque speak. 

I asked her to repeat herself.  at this point felt like a completely irresponsible mom, and that I have an irresponsible son(which is far from true). Then I told her to go ahead and take more impressions while I got to talk to the office staff about a "plan."  While making this plan with the office manager, a sweet, dear friend I've known for years came through and said hello...I honestly couldn't carry on a conversation at the time. 

Long story short...there's a plan and a lot more money involved so my son will sport a beautiful smile.  To make it all worthwhile I remind myself that before braces, he never smiled with teeth showing.  Now he does.  And all those other facts of why well-aligned teeth are worth it.

Sigh. I know things can be so much worse. This is definitely a first-world problem.

After a few days of thinking(& coming up with a heavier chore list for the boy), I was thinking how quickly things shift. How if I don't daily spend time in fellowship with my God, things get out of line pretty quickly. 

I'm not saying that if I check my box of "pray daily" life is all hunky-dory and looks like a perfect picture--all hardship gone. No. If I don't get that daily communication, that daily time with Him, things start getting harder. The tempter comes for a visit and makes my disciplines a little "grayer." It's not hard at all to tear myself down or think the worst. It's easier to let thoughts of anxiousness, negativity and desperation overwhelm my mind and life.

The daily relationship keeps my heart from getting out of line. The scripture, songs, promises He gently reminds me of, all together work to hold this heart and soul together.

Lesson and reminder gleaned from the oldest child's orthodontia:
1) wear your retainers
2) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths STRAIGHT." Prov 3:5-6  

It's simple, but it keeps it real.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shabby (but chic, of course)

worn  

/wôrn/

Adjective
  1. Damaged and shabby as a result of much use.
  2. Very tired.
Synonyms
worn-out - used - shabby - threadbare - well-worn

Here are things that are worn at our house.  Perhaps you have some of these in your house.
"Favorites" of the following: shoes, jeans, soccer balls, baseball gloves, games, playing cards, spatulas, cookie sheets, the carpet on the stairs, blankets-held-since-they-could-hold, the old coffee pot.  Not to forget: some tupperware, my favorite towel (only 17 years old...a wedding gift), socks, flip flops, my toothbrush.
And let's please remember some of the people in this house are worn as well, if you go with the second definition.  Physically, emotionally, mentally worn.  Even on summer break...I look in the mirror and see a worn out person.

Perhaps that's what comes to mind first when you hear the word.  Ready for a break.  Ready for some mercy.  For some relief or respite.

When perhaps, God's mercy is being thrust upon us by the very life that's wearing us out?

The following is a song that hits many people in many different areas of the heart.  Wherever you find yourself worn, I hope this reaches you there and lends a little of God's mercy, as a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day or a cup of coffee on, well, any kind of day.

http://youtu.be/J9UfRQUf64U



 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My one defense


A lot of life has happened. 

I could tell you of the end of school.  The crazy schedules, the activities, programs.  The amazing achievements my kids were recognized for in school, the goal Ella Grace made in her soccer tourney, and the solo Sarah sang beautifully at her school talent show.  The way moms juggle all of that busy-ness makes all of us eligible for "mom of the year" awards!

I could tell you of the Berg family vacation of the summer, full of fun memories with family in Minnesota.  Shopping, Legos, American Girl, food, baseball, theater, rest, cooler weather, amusement parks, and an amazing camp experience for Seth.  Everyone passed through the TSA without a pat-down, although we had to convince one worker that Seth was really 13.

Could tell you of church camp...amazing experiences for Seth and Sarah.  And Ella Grace got a week at home as an only child.  She tearfully cried out for her siblings every single day.  (haha)

One of the best parts of the summer, I could tell you about the amazing baseball we've seen this season.  Rangers, Twins'(Joe Mauer, ahem), and especially the team Seth has been a part of this season.  The team full of boys a year older than him...where he's learned so much...from skills to camaraderie to spending a little more time on the bench than he's used to, because the team is SO FULL of good players.  (and they are on their way to state!)  Great people and great coaches.

I could tell you of the health struggles Chad continues to deal with...adding  more and more to our every day normal.  I could tell you how his heart and head want so much for his body to act differently though it continues not listen and to fight itself.  The future of health care has already hit our pocketbook which has caused anxiety and concern.

I could tell you that even though it's been almost 5 years, there are days I still miss my Daddy so much it physically hurts.

Instead, I choose to tell you this:
Through all of these ups and downs and sideways, the constant provision and strength and peace and reason I can get up and go every day is because I know my Redeemer.  My God has been right here with me every single second of every bit of life, and He's promised to never leave.  No matter if I'm shuttling kids around, washing stinky camp laundry, or staying awake listening to my husband breathe at night, He's there.

"Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
"Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You"~ M.Maher



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fine

He looked across the table at our little boy.  "He's not a little boy anymore," he thought, "as he's taller than me now, with huge feet and a changing voice."  In front of the young teen was a double bacon cheeseburger, an order of chili cheese fries, large sweet tea, and a medium custard with mix-ins.  Forgotten was the time when my husband himself was a teenager and he could stomach that all at once.  All was eaten, and our boy felt fine afterward.

Insignificant to most, a lunch at a hamburger stand.  But so very significant in the life of my husband, and hopefully my boy. 

"How are you?"
"Fine."

Almost before a person can finish sounding the word "you," many of us are already forming the beginning of "fine" as a reply.
See below. Does that look familiar to anyone?

That's the concise, short-and-sweet, I-don't-want-to-share answer, right? Or maybe you make it the one-word answer because you don't want to hear how the inquisitor responds to your story. Or perhaps, it's the I-don't-want-to-burden-anyone-with-my-struggles answer. Everyone has their struggles, they shouldn't have to hear mine, too.

So why do we even ask? There are many motives behind the question. To be polite, make conversation, pry into others' business(surely not!)...but hopefully just out of genuine concern for people living life around us.

After all, we are told in Romans: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10 NIV)

So if we are asking, we need to first question our motive, & then be willing to hear an honest answer.

That's all this heart has to offer right now. The story at the beginning of this post offers a rather normal, insignificant look into a day in our life.  Below, it takes all those meds and then some for that daddy to have "fine" days at this house. We enjoy every day, as if he misses some of these meds, it puts his life at grave risk, and has as recently as this winter.  But this new combo is sure making it easier to enjoy the days we're given.  

I may be beating a dead horse, I may sound "preachy," it may even seem over-dramatic to some, but appreciate today.  Appreciate the times you're given.  And make them count.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A merciful break

Since the last time anything has been written here, many things have taken place.

Happy things, like good grades, fun field trips, and a winning basketball season.  Lots of hugs, proud-Mom moments, and glimpses of spiritual and emotional growth.  Such as: Mom & 3 kids discussing heaven on the way home from church this evening...no pain, no tears, no worries, and then..."In heaven, no one will stink up the bathroom. How great is that?" stated the youngest.  A few pounds lost (woohoo!), warmer weather, and the countdown to Opening Day.   Tax return deposit, Spring Break, and green paint on the walls in the laundry room.  Friends, laughs, and all three kids attemptin Uncle Si impersonations (Duck Dynasty, anyone?).

Lest we fail to mention the blah things, such as medical tests with unclear/dark-gray-cloud answers, bilateral deep vein thromboses (again), excruciating and debilitating pain, cries for mercy, unnerving nights of no sleep.  Doubt, fear, and worry.  You'd think by now we'd be used to all this...and as stated in a previous post, it's not like God gives you a choice: "Would you like 'terminal' or 'chronic' attached to 'illness'?"  Um, neither, thank you very much.  As much as I don't want to burden a soul with these health crises we face, nor do I want to belittle their seriousness, I at times desperately want to scream at the top of my lungs when others simply don't understand or choose to disregard the long-term concerns that travel along with these health issues bestowed upon my husband.  Someday I may say "graciously bestowed," as I know there is a purpose, but right now I cannot put those words together.

Glimmers of hope have emerged.  Not bask-yourself-in-glitter-and-stand-out-in-a-spotlight-glimmer, rather a lone Bluebonnet in a green field kind of glimmer.  A merciful break in the pain, brought by amazing doses of pricey medication that leave a just-left-the-dentist numbness throughout the body.  No cure, no treatment for other ailments, but a gracious break in the pain.  My handsome patient has stated what we knew all along: pain uses energy.  An answer to a prayer I can see and hold onto comes with this pain relief.  Thankful for the meds, the job that pays me so I can pay for the meds, and the incredible doctor/friend who showed mercy and compassion when seeing his patient/friend unable to be a part of life.

To say that time is precious seems too cliche. As does mentioning that time passes too quickly.  As has been said in previous posts, just make today count. 

Love God, embrace beauty, and live life to the fullest.

And next time, it'll be more light-hearted....promise.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monstrous, odoriferous blessing

Smelled something funny as I sat down to fold clothes. Sniff...not the clothes.

Wandered into the kitchen, searching for the smell. Not in the trash can, and not the disposal. Dishwasher? No. Rotten potato? No(Spanish). Wet dish rag? Nuh-uh.

None of these thoughts panned out to be the culprit. So, I went back into the living room and noticed that Seth had just tossed his game day clothes into his athletic bag. Because I'm such a nice mom who wants her children to not look like they just tolled out of bed all say long, I pulled them out to fold them. Then, like a hundred arrows coming toward me, the smell hit. Underneath his game day clothes lay his monstrous, odoriferous, size 14, Adizero basketball shoes.

(Let's just leave it there with that's where the smell was originating)

To be honest, the last few days have been stressful. A lot on our minds and things way out of our control affecting our family's life and Chad's health. We've had to focus and deal with some really rotten things.

After I made my monumental discovery tonight, I texted a precious friend who has three teenage boys, all who play sports...
"Because I know you probably have experienced this:
I had NO idea basketball shoes could smell so bad.
Misconception: indoor sports shoes won't stink as bad.
Holy cow."

Her reply:
"Girl ... My whole house smells like that. There's not enough febreeze!!"

After some funny comments back and forth, we concluded: we are so thankful for those healthy, stinky blessings. Seth is a healthy, growing, good kid...a hard worker and a good friend.

Thankful God could use even STINKY basketball shoes to remind me to be ever so thankful.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

To be 13 again


SCARED out of my ever-loving mind at first, being a nurse in a junior high is fun.  Confession: I kinda like it.

In fact, this nursing job is turning out not only to be a fun job with an amazing schedule, but also a source of comedy....

...like the kid who, when asked if he had any allergies, told me that "I'm only allergic to mucous.  Mucous makes me throw up."   Hmmmm.  Then he proceeded to talk incessantly until his mom came to take the fever-laden kid home.

....what about the boys who were convinced they got "tipsy" from the rum cake brought to the holiday celebration?  Some mean girl told them she put real rum in the icing instead of rum extract.  (she did, in fact, use the extract, confirmed when we called the parent)  Those poor boys came back many times that day to make sure their feelings were not because they were drunk.  Perhaps just too many sweets?

....a frequent flyer coming in around the same time every day, right after he helped out in the front office.  After talking with the counselor, come to find out he's kind of over the class he's trying to dodge, and his life goal is to be in the Naval Men's Chorus that travels around singing for special things.  Didn't even know people had that as a life goal.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

....better than the girl whose life goal is to run a fruit stand.

Oh, to be 13 again.  A whole different set of stresses, that's for sure.
Even so, glad I'm an adult this go around in junior high.



Monday, January 21, 2013

A Steel Magnolia

Some may call it micro-managing, others controlling.  In my mind, it's "this-is-the-only-way-I-know-to-hold-it-together."  Truly, a survival mode. The mode of everyone has clean clothes to wear, we have food to eat and everyone has their daily meds.  After those are taken care of, that's when we add other things.  There is a person in this house who has no control over how his body treats him and he deals with that every day.  So, that may explain what makes me want to tighten my reigns a little more, to feel like I have some control.  This flu stuff that came in and demanded the reigns loosen a bit this week really threw my mind for a loop (unless that was just fever...).

Another reminder from up above, making me aware that we are not, in any way, form, or fashion, in control.
A life lesson to be learned...over and over and over again...

Many life lessons have been shared with me by my Momma...as many of you can relate, I'm sure.  Over these busy holiday months, she hosted her favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Used to having a house full of 20-40 people, this year we had 10 around her table.  During this season, she also remembered her life mate, whose birthday was the week prior to Christmas.  Four birthdays for four of her kids, and her own birthday this last week.

This lady has taught me, by example, just what it takes to be a "Steel Magnolia." A Southern lady with strength, determination, grace, all while looking calm and collected. You know those "Keep Calm and..." signs?  That's her lifestyle.  The duck gliding smoothly across the pond, with the feet moving constantly to get the job done.


"How does she do this?" you may ask.  Does she quote the movie? (no, that's me and my friends)  Does she tease her hair to make it look like a brown football helmet?  Not anymore.
Might she believe in the power of the ability to accessorize?  Of course.  Here are some other ways...in list form, of course...how the woman I am blessed to call mom is made of steel but gentle and beautiful as the magnolia.

1)  Self-sacrifice.   Mom decided to forgo college and raise a family.  Let it be known, she is one of the smartest individuals I know.  The number of hours this lady has volunteered at schools, churches, nursing homes, at her sewing machine, medical alliance, delivering meals on wheels...the hours are countless.

2)  Strength.  This lady helped her husband through pharmacy school, and then, with 6 kids (one in diapers), moved to Kansas City, where she knew not a soul, so dad could fulfill his dream to go to medical school.  She kept other people's kids, typed notes for the note pool, and did what she needed to do to keep the family going, all while being on the PTA board, of course.  Then, she had a 7th kid.  (thank goodness!)  :)

3)  Determination.  When this woman puts her mind to something, she gets it done.  Don't ever doubt that she won't.

4)  Serving with a smile.  Mom has a servant's heart.  One of her gifts...making magic in the kitchen.  That lady can go to her kitchen and whip out an incredible home-cooked meal for 20 in an hour if needed!  Everything will taste great and all be warm and done at the same time.  I don't know how it happens, but it does.  And mom has used this gift to serve at church and on mission trips many times.

5)  Grace and humility.  Sweet mom will not take recognition.  When it is bestowed upon her, she takes it with grace and humility.

6)  Superhero.  Even now, when I'm desperate and cry for help, mom will come in and with one easy swoop, watch the kids, bake with them, fold the clean laundry, and never once say "look what I did for you".

7)  Friend.  The fact that I can call my mom a friend, who I can call and share anything with, is an incredible blessing.  (and even if what I'm saying is a bit "tacky", she listens with a loving heart)

8)  You know how they say "Behind every great man is an even greater woman?"  Knowing Dad would agree, mom was always a great support for Dad in their 53 years of marriage.  Together their example of a Christ-centered marriage was evident.

9)  Devotion.  To God, her husband, her children, her parents, God's children...no matter size, age, race...

All of this...even as she has faced struggles and adversities along life's path, as we all do.  Bringing home child #5, when her house held already 4 children ages  1, 2, 3, and 4 years old.  Facing the doctor telling you that maybe you shouldn't bring your next child into the world...because they may be born handicapped.  Watching children ache with broken hearts.  Walking alongside a child whose child had cancer.   Battling and surviving breast cancer.

This strong, beautiful, Southern steel magnolia of a lady is precious to my heart.  Praying that as age continues to grow in number, I am able to give back to her a small part of what she has given me.

Mom with her 7 children, at the dedication of an educational center in Dad's honor at the hospital where he served for almost 30 years.  (2009)

Tiaras, books, and the rest of the story

She wore a tiara as we sat down at the table.  Not a fancy dinner or a special occasion, but still, the tiara was in place.  She offered to say the prayer.  We obliged, knowing that her little self didn't care to pray out loud much.  Four of us at the table bowed our heads.  The tiara-clad pint-sized beauty swiftly stood up on a step stool that she had placed by her seat, and proceeded to belt out one heck of a version of "God is Great."  Brought a smile to my face.  It felt like we were smack dab in the middle of a "Fancy Nancy" book .

Books have always been friends to me. During nursing school that changed a bit, and after nursing school I didn't want to look at another book for a long time.  It took a broken leg and 12 weeks on crutches to get me back to reading more than children's books (which, in fact, are still my favorite).

Whenever reading through a novel I love to be able to look ahead and make sure that in fact, my two favorite characters will end up together.  Or that a certain character will still be alive at the end of the book.  Or just get a glimpse of what the future of the story holds.  To find out the rest of the story before it's acutally been told.   Chad and the kids surprised me with a Nook when I turned 35.  I love my Nook, but it makes it very difficult to look ahead and create "spoilers."

Too bad life's not like that, I have thought to myself sometimes.  Can't I just see ahead and have the assurance that everything will be okay?  That things will turn out the way I WANT them to?!?!

This particular discussion came up one Sunday morning in Bible class.  One of my wise friends said something that has stuck with me...."If I had known what the future was going to be, I would have lived that last two years of my husband's life in great sadness instead of enjoying the days we were given."

Yesterday we learned that my handsome, always-smiling, friendly cousin fell asleep and then woke up in heaven. He was 41.  If we had known how his story was going to turn out, how would we have lived life differently?  My heart hurts for his boys and his parents and sisters.


So the realization is this: we don't get the assurance that life will turn out the way WE WANT it to turn out.  We don't get to look ahead and reveal to ourselves that everything will be just as we please. 

We ARE given the assurance that God is with us, that by His grace we are given hope and a future.  Whatever that holds for our family, whatever weird and strange things go on with Chad's health, I must know that He is in control, and I must be willing to let Him take that control.

He needs to light my path on this journey of life.  What I have to accept is that He is and will continue to do that, just one step at a time.  And THAT'S what needs to be in my book.  Along with the tiara-clad praying girl keeping me grounded along the way.  :)

David Crowder Band, "Let Me Feel You Shine":
This place is trying to break my belief
But my faith is bigger than all I can see
What I need is redemption
What I need is for You for to put me back on my feet