Monday, December 31, 2007

Organizing Pictures

I am so happy, this year I organized all my digital images in one place. Early in the summer I purchased the Creative Memories Memory Manager and uploaded CD after CD onto my computer on our vacation trip to Florida. With three photographers in the family you can imagine this was no small task, however, I can now find any image I need for the last three years in a matter of minutes.

Memory Manager 2.0
On our trip to Disney World followed by Kennedy Space Center we took over 2,000 images. I love to scrapbook, but I didn't want to print that many pictures! The Memory Manager software has a feature that tracks what images have been printed and what you still want to print. This was a big help in comparing images and getting them printed. It also allows me to make my own folders and place the same image into more than one folder without actually duplicating the file. Even my husband, who is a computer wiz and told me I could set something like this up myself, has been impressed with the capability. He has even suggested to his bosses that they use this software for the graphic designers in order to be able to retrieve graphics from past projects quickly. If you have lots of images and have a hard time tracking down the "picture I know is here somewhere," you might want to check into it.

My husband and son also purchased me the Storybook Creator Plus from Creative Memories for Christmas. I am just exploring what it has to offer. I had fun last night creating some pages and then ordering them on line. I don't think overall this will replace my hands on cropping, but it is fun to explore new ways to preserve my family memories.

If you want to check out either software you can look up my consultant's web site or the Creative Memories site.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Fun in the Kitchen

Yesterday found us in the kitchen making root beer. It was fun and easy to make and the best part delicious! I have a feeling we will be making this a lot around our home.

If you would like to make it all you need is:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 litre cold seltzer water
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon root beer concentrate (McCormick)

Dissolve the sugar in the hot water. Add the root beer concentrate and let cool. Combine the mixture with the seltzer water.

In the picture David was on the final step, then had to taste test. David gave it his seal of approval.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tween Teachable Moments

We often think of teachable moments (those natural times that happen anytime or anywhere as unstructured learning) as mostly for toddlers or young children. I have found that over the Christmas break we have had some great teachable opportunities with our twelve-year-old. The hard part sometimes is recognizing these and taking the time to make use of these since the moments will look very different as a child gets older. When our son was a toddler the moments where more about daily living and values. The older our son has gotten the deeper the teaching is. One of the benefits of teachable moments is that children are more open to the learning, since it is not as structured and often initiated by them (by comment or deed.)

A great teachable moment we had when David was young occurred when I got outside of a Target store and while placing our purchases in the trunk I noticed that a small item had lodged beneath my purse. I explained to my son what had happened and we marched right back in and got in line a second time to pay for this. We explained to the cashier what had happened, since she had just checked us out she thought it was strange that we had come back so quickly. After leaving the store my son was very upset that the lady had not even thanked us. I explained that it doesn't matter if we were thanked, or even if she had been mad at us for causing her more work that it was the right thing to do and God would know.

Just this week one of our teachable moments came while discussing what we would be eating for Christmas dinner. When I said that we would be eating ham David stated that he loved that and bet that's what they had when Jesus was born. We then told him that we don't know what they did eat, but it probably wasn't anything as lavish as we were having and we do know they didn't have ham. Of course he asked how we would know that it wasn't ham if we didn't know they ate. This lead into a discussion of the Old Testament law of clean and unclean animals and how we are no longer bound by the law, but live in the New Testament Age of Grace. Yes, David has been taught Old Testament and the laws but this was a very practical way to connect the practice and changes due to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

We need to look for these opportunities as parents and not let them slip by. Some of life's greatest actions (like honesty) can best be taught this way. What good would it have been to tell my son to be honest or read from the Bible "thou shalt not steal" to only leave the item in the cart because I didn't want to take the time to go back in and do the right thing. The moments we have now are deeper and more probing, so I must always stay on my toes.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A History of Lack of Sleep

As a explained in my post yesterday, David has gotten little sleep for the last month. I should explain that this is not unusual for him. David has a pattern of this. If he's happy, sad, excited, bored ... and any other reason he will not sleep. In fact, we even went to the doctor when David was three, after five months of him not sleeping for more than four hours a night (which resulted in Mom and Dad getting even less sleep) we sought medical advice. The first doctor we went to proceeded to tell me that "some people don't need a lot of sleep." I found this so absurd that I was speechless—only four hours a night (no naps) for five months for a three-year-old.

The answers that followed were no better, I'm sure you're exaggerating or my wife doesn't have problems with our two children, so if you are having problems it is due to bad parenting. After another month of this my son started to sleep through the night, however, if he had a nap—forget about getting him to sleep at night. As I continued to have issues with doctors I decided that I would have to become very proactive and began researching many of our medical issues before going to the doctors. During this research I found that the long period of non-sleep was probably withdrawal from the drugs in his system from his birth-parents.

We have also been criticized for giving our son too much sugar—this when he was on a diet of no added sugar, no additives, and no food dyes. This diet we tried for over a year with no change in his behavior. It has been difficult at times when others have all the answers—we have been told by one assistant pastor who stated "you need to beat him" to another pastor who told us "it's a sin issue." We do understand this is a sin issue, since all illness and disobedience is a sin issue that is a very simple statement that while being true doesn't help with our situation. One young (unmarried) man recently told us that following Ephesians 4:20-24 was all the parenting skills you needed.

I have found that this is a common problem for not just our family. I have seen many other blogs that state the same problem. I know that many of these comments are made to be useful and helpful, but often these comments are also made to make the person feel superior. I find it very interesting that the people who don't work closely with David criticize us the most. The people who have direct day-to-day contact with us actually commend us as being very good parents.

I began working as an adoptive parent liaison upon a recommendation by our son's school. The social services agency was looking for a parent who was a good parent and advocate for their child and I was the one they recommended. I am not trying to be boastful or say I am a great mother—I know my short comings, and they are many—but I must press forward each day, trusting that through seeking God's will David will grow into the man of God we pray for each day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day

I know that the livingroom was clean when I went to bed on Christmas eve, so why does it look like this now? I now have to find a home for the gifts or the livingroom will never be clean. I tend to allow most of the messiness on Christmas day, so now the work begins. This will be much easier today anyway since last night was the first night in a month that David slept well. Since Thanksgiving each night's sleep has shortened, with the grand total of less than three hours of sleep Christmas eve. At least we didn't have the pressure of putting out the Santa gifts without him knowing, we have always put out Santa gifts but he knows they are from us. He even asked us yesterday where we hide the gifts, since he had searched and not found them. Needless to say we said that was our secret. It helped that I moved them around several times. This is the first year that he has searched, but all of a sudden he was "hiding under our bed" or "getting something out of a closet" so I knew he was up to something.

I hope everyone found peace (maybe no quiet) and joy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

David Gelina, Christmas 2007
The baking has all been done and the presents are all wrapped, so we are ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. I am a little nervous. Because my son is 12 (and a half) we are moving into the more mature gifts so the gifts are smaller and more expensive. As David sees less presents and asks "is this a remote control car" I have explained that we have not purchased him any cars or trucks, since he has a room full. We have also let him know that the gifts are more expensive because he is older so he will be receiving fewer gifts, but that we have not spent less. He did say he understands and he always loves what we get him, so it will be fine.

This picture is the picture we have sent in our Christmas cards. Rich took this year's picture, since I was the one who took the last five years' pictures. Didn't he do a great job?

We wish you all a Merry Christmas!

The Tale of the Three Trees

The Tale of the Three Trees
The Tale of the Three Trees
When my son was a preschooler I discovered this wonderful story. A traditional folktale about the desires and dreams of three trees. When woodcutters cut the trees down, they are initially disappointed in the purpose the woodcutters have chosen for them. But the trees ultimately come to realize that the purpose that God chose for them far surpassed any of their own dreams.

I often find this to be true in my own life. God fills my cup to overflowing on a regular basis and far exceeds my dreams.

This is also a great book to read this week, but you'll have to read the story to find out why. I won't spoil the story for you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is It Biblical to Worry?

I have often heard that worrying is a lack of trust in God. As a mother who often worries about her family, this is a comment that concerns me. After looking to the Bible for the answer I found that worry (or being anxious) is a balance. On the one side if we don't worry we lead ourselves and our families down the path of destruction. As the mother of a baby or toddler, my worries led me to cover the electrical outlets in my home, place a baby gate at the top of the stairs, and not leave my son on his changing table while I leave to do another chore. As the mother of an adolescent, worry has led me to teach my child not to run in front of cars and has led to sometimes fighting the school systems and doctors to get the best care possible for my son.

A good example of worry prompting a mother to do the right thing is Kelly (The Barefoot Mama) who, when her daughter's dentist made a recommendation that she was convinced was not in her daughter's best interest, got a second opinion and researched options before making a final decision. Read the details here.

The other side of worry is crippling, it would lead us to never leave our homes and never be able to decide the best course of action for fear of making a mistake. Also, my worries are due to my own inadequacies rather than any inadequacies in God. I believe God does protect and provide us with all our needs and one of His provisions is parents—parents that He has tasked with caring for ("worrying about") about the child's needs.

The reason this came to my mind this week was two-fold

  • The first reason is the terrible events that occur too often in our society today:The shootings at Virginia Tech, the Amish schoolhouse or the recent one at the missionary center. The families had no idea when they began their day that some madman would decide to take the lives of their loved ones, not because of who they were but because of where they were. How can we as parents prevent this? The answer is we can't, we must trust in God.
  • The second reason this came to my mind is through re-reading of the Biblical account of Christ's birth. I can't imagine what Mary's thoughts and fears were. The Bible tells us that she was honored among women, however she was human. Can you imagine the fear as she and Joesph found no place to stay in Bethlehem with the impending birth of her first child. What would our reaction be if we were led to a place were the animals lived. I know I would have not been a happy camper. She would have known that God was protecting her, but this couldn't have been easy.

    Then to have to flee in the night to Egypt, because the ruler of the country had decreed that their child was to be killed; then when he wasn't found all the male children in Bethlehem under two years of age were to be killed. Can you imagine! Then there were the normal worries that we all have as mothers as a toddler takes his first steps (after all Jesus wasn't born walking and talking.) She must have at times felt the weight of her inadequacies as I do.
So I will continue to let my concerns drive me to train and protect my family while not allowing Satan to let my fears control my life.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Heirloom

When I began scrapbooking several years ago Creative Memories came out with this beautiful album. I display it only at Christmas and add just one double-page spread each year. The opening page is our title page with our son's first Christmas picture, where he is dressed up as Santa Claus. Each year we have added a double-page spread that sums up what that Christmas meant to us. One year it featured our David when he was a toddler wearing his daddy's shoes and helping him decorate the house, while another year is our Florida Christmas. It always includes the picture we have included in our Christmas cards. It is hard to believe that we will complete our thirteenth spread this year. I love reviewing past Christmases while preparing a family heirloom for future generations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Praying Backwards

A couple of weeks ago a friend from church was telling me she wasn't sure how to pray in a specific area of her life. Her heart was really desiring something, but she wasn't sure if it was God's will and if she should pursue it. She saw obstacles in her way and wasn't sure if this was the path she had to follow and learn in the process or if this meant she should not pursue her dreams. She was concerned that she would either push through her own will or nag God into getting her way.

As a parent I can understand that, sometimes you try to save your child from making mistakes but they push and push until you finally let them learn the hard way that the path they took was not a wise one. Now I knew I couldn't give her the answer, Who can know the mind of God, but I also felt that some of my experiences in life could be used to help her to know in what direction she should go. I believe we are placed here to take what we have learned on our own spiritual journey and pass it along.

So I explained by practice of "backwards prayer" not a term you will find in any books but I use often. God already knows the desires of my heart, I don't have to tell him. So I acknowledge my desire to Him and ask that if it's not His will that he place a big STOP sign in front of me (yes, I am very hard headed.) I mean a sign of Biblical proportions—Genesis 11, Tower of Babel sign. Even though the Bible doesn't state it, I believe that God gave them signs along the way, which they ignored. Sounds familiar doesn't it? So God took the drastic step of confusing their languages and making nothing prosper for them. I have used this method of prayer for several years and the decisions I have made doing this I have always remained at peace with.

I don't know if my friend is using this method, but I hope that whatever she decides to do she will always seek God's will.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome fellow Nesters

I would like to thank Mrs. Wilt from The Sparrow's Nest for highlighting me on her blog. I have known Mrs. Wilt since last fall due to my "trip to Holland" (to understand please read my first post.) She is as bubbly, creative and godly as you see on her blog. We have had much fun working on projects together at the church.

I hope all of you enjoy reading my blog. I have enjoyed reading your blog entries, many of which remind me of the times when my own son was a preschooler. I just wish that when he was young and I was in desperate need of fellowship that there had been this type of outlet to "speak" to other stay-at-home moms. You can see both Mrs. Wilt and myself in this picture my husband took while we were preparing to go door-to-door to hang flyers for Vacation Bible School.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Family Game Night

Last night our family had a wonderful time playing the game of "LIFE." David has never wanted to sit and play games—he's a very active child—but last night he actually asked to play the game. We had a great time. He was still very active and antsy, but we all made it through a game!
"LIFE" has changed since the days that Rich and I played as children. When we were young everyone playing this game had to stop on a square that determined how many kids you were going to have in the game; that is no longer the case. Now you only have children if you land on a space that says so. This upset David, since he wasn't landing on a space that gave him a son or daughter so we allowed him to adopt a daughter. He then carefully placed her in the back of his car, when Rich joked that she was banished to the rear away from her parents David explained that she was there because it was safer for her to be in the back of the car. Now that warmed my heart (maybe we aren't doing so bad as parents after all).

Unfortunately, I think this change in the game is just a reflection of today's culture. The spaces with children are no different than the space for booking an online cruise—both spaces simply mean that you'll end the game with less money. Children as a whole are not thought of as an important part of our lives. They are now made to "fit into my schedule" not that we are responsible for their spiritual and secular training. We have abdicated our responsibilty to our childcare workers, schools and even the church. I have photographed babies (as young as a few weeks old) who are brought to childcare centers at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning by parents who are driving Land Rovers or Jags, only to be picked up at 6:00 in the evening (sometimes by the nanny.) Many of these children are brought to their childcare centers even on days when their parents are not working, because they need a break. These parents will tell you they have to work in order to make ends meet. Maybe we should value our children more than our cars. I feel great sorrow for these children who will reap what their parents have sown.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Day For Soup

It has hovered just over freezing today- not good for a give-me-the-beach kind of gal. Luckily, I had already planned on making Baked Potato Soup for lunch. This recipe can usually last us for a couple of meals so I freeze some or pass some of it to a friend that may need a break from cooking.

Baked Potato Soup

  • 4 large baked potatoes
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 6 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream

Cut baked potatoes in half. Scoop out pulp and set aside. Melt butter in large pot then add flour. Gradually stir in milk. Continue to stir until smooth, thick and bubbly. Stir in potato, salt, pepper, bacon, bacon drippings and cheese. Cook until heated. Stir in sour cream. Transfer to slow cooker.

On days that I make this meal I will cook bacon for breakfast, then set aside what I need for the soup. This is also a very cost effective meal that will warm up the hearts of those you love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Twelve

Our son David has been processing the breakup with his girlfirend. It started Saturday night and into Sunday morning (after 2 am.) Up until this time he had continued to talk as if she were still his girlfriend. We talked to him about the reasons that he is feeling this way and that God has a plan and it may or may not include Mackenzie in his future. That even though mom and dad have known each other since elementary school that we each dated others before starting to date each other. I think he finds it hard to believe since his whole world revolves around us as a family and mom and dad as a couple.

I was vividly reminded that adults tend to lessen children's thoughts and feelings as we explained to adults around us that we were very tired and David was hurting. We have had some that were very understanding. However, many laughed (not out of meanness) and some just discounted his feelings. Adults have gone through so much in life that is so much more important, sometimes—the death of a spouse, health problems, financial problems—that this seems trivial to them. However, we need to remember that God has prepared us for these trials a step at a time. We have been prepared for these experiences by all our experiences and hurts in our past.

We were up again Monday night with David not able to sleep. This time it was pure anger at everything and everyone that fueled his inablilty to sleep. Again we were up until the wee hours trying to work through this.

So far he is going right down the steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We are trusting that God provides the patience and wisdom in helping him as he travels down the road to acceptance. We are not sure how each of the steps will exhibit themselves, but are at least aware of what to look for.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decorating for Christmas

We have completed our Christmas decorating. We started last weekend but this week we got our Christmas tree. We put up a live tree each year, this is one of our traditions that we look forward to—choosing the perfect tree. This year we went to the same place we got our tree last year since the one last year stayed fresh so well and the sellers are so cheery and helpful. Pulling out our ornaments and decorations is like seeing old friends, each one reminds me of Christmases past and different stages in our lives. Whether it is an ornament that my friend Cindy gave me in high school or the first ornament we purchased for our son's first Christmas, each has a place of honor on our tree.

Traditions are very important to pass down to our children, it gives a sense of structure and security. Our son David loves these traditions and is very quick to remind us if we do not do something right (like we did it last year or in previous years.) I am glad that we are able to give him this sense of stability in an ever changing world.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An Olde World Christmas

The ladies of our church had our annual Christmas party last night, this year's theme was "An Olde World Christmas." The tables are set to seat eight, with a hostess at each table. Each table this year was decorated as a different European nation. I chose to decorate my table based on my heritage. Both of my maternal grandparents are Dutch, so my nation was the Netherlands. I pulled out the wooden shoes that my grandfather gave me as a young teen along with carrots and golden chocolate coins. The children of Holland place carrots and hay in their shoes for Sinterklaas. These are replaced (by Sinterklaas) with small gifts. I had fun researching the differences in how we celebrate here and how they celebrate overseas.

The other hostesses chose England, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Each hostess was very creative in their decorating, however, as each hostess told of the traditions in their nation much of the same practices were woven into each culture. The two ladies who decorated the food tables did an amazing job. Their tables looked like they were decorated by the professionals at Williamsburg. One of the side benefits of this style of decorating is that instead of using disposable plates, cups and plasticware, each hostess brings their own china, glassware and silverware. The guests then brought food—much of it ethnic—to keep up the theme of the evening.

This is a great chance to invite family and friends or just to get to know other ladies in the church that your paths don't cross very often.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Childhood First

When we think of our children's firsts we think of their first steps, first tooth, or first word. But, today our son experienced a first that was not a reason for celebration. David's first "girlfriend" called and said that due to the distance between where they live they couldn't really be girlfriend and boyfriend anymore. David took it pretty well, but it broke this mother's heart. David will take a while to process this before he is willing to talk about it, but they agreed to stay friends.

Two years ago David came to me asking how to ask a girl out and what to do on a date. After talking it out with me he asked Mackenzie on a date (with the parents) to see The Chronicles of Narnia. We all had a good time and the two have spent some good times together. However, with them living 3 hours away from each other they don't see each other often enough to sustain the relationship they would like. Mackenzie is a wonderful Christian young lady and I am fortunate that she was my son's first experience in the world of relationships. She and her family will continue to be in our hearts and prayers.

The benefit of this was that he wanted to spend more cuddle time with mom today and for that I am thankful that he can find comfort and love at home.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Snowy Day

The view outside our door

We received a winter wonderland out our front door. The beauty of new fallen snow was all around us. When I see mornings such as this I remember one of my favorite childhood books—The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats. My third grade teacher gave her students two books each at Christmas, and this was one of the books she gave me. But don't ask me what the other was because I wouldn't be able to tell you.

The Snowy Day is about little Peter's amazement in the new world just outside his window and his innocent wonderment at making snow angels and his desire to preserve just one snowball in his pocket to enjoy later. As adults we tend to pocket that snowball (moment) to enjoy later only to find that the snowball is no longer there if or when we finally think about it. So enjoy each moment to enjoy the little things in life, they pass too quickly.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Loving Legacy

Today the family and friends of Cara Haymes Alcock celebrated her life and mourned her passing. We all rejoice that she is no longer in pain and is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior. I had not spoken much with Mrs. Alcock and have not known her long, but I know that she was a Godly example in life. How would I know that? Because the I have seen these traits and characteristics in her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. This is a family that has worshipped as a family, with all four generations each Sunday. Her family serves in the church with loving and open hearts. Many of them doing the "invisible" jobs such as decorating the sanctuary, keeping the books or recording the sermon for the website. Some family members had plans the evening before she passed away, when they heard that she was having a bad day they dropped their own plans to visit with her. When a baby is about to be born into this amazing family, all four generations of extended family camp out at the hospital in order to celebrate and welcome their new little addition. She will be greatly missed and our prayers go out to the family as they deal with the loss of this incredible woman. This will be an especially hard Christmas for them as Mrs. Alcock's birthday is December 25th. She would have been 86 years old this year.

I have to admit I wish that this was the norm and not the exception in today's society. But I do feel blessed to be able to know a woman who has had such a great impact on the world around her. Her legacy to her family has made me think of the legacy that I would like to leave my family and friends. Many women today look outside the home to make a difference and leave their mark on the world. Like Mrs. Alcock I would like to leave my mark by my love of God and my family.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Good week at school

Only 1 phone call from school this week! Woohoo!

Most parents would not consider just one phone call from the school for the week a great success, but Rich and I are not most parents.

Our son has been in special education classes since second grade, starting with self contained classes to off-site day treatment centers. He began his seventh grade year in regular LD classes, changes classes each period and has a regular education Physical Education/Health class. In the special education classes he has been in since first grade, he did not regularly receive homework, did not have to be responsible for changing classes, and was not required to make sure all his needed supplies were with him.

The move to public school LD classes has been a huge jump and there have been many growing (and groaning) pains. But, we feel this is a necessity if we are to achieve the goal of making David a man who takes responsibility for himself. David does have some accommodations due to his disabilities, but he seems to finally be catching on. He has had a one-on-one for the last several weeks that helps to ensure that we are aware of homework that needs to be completed. She also reminds him when he is losing focus or getting off-task. We wanted this in place to get him up to speed with what all the other students have learned as they have progressed from grade to grade for the past six years. We do not plan on this being a long term necessity.

Yes, he still finds homework a pain and will try to think up ways to get out of it, but will presently get down to business and complete it. He is doing so well in science that when he returns to school after the Christmas break the school is planning on placing him in a regular education hands-on science class! We know that there will be more battles and issues ahead, but weeks like this help us to know that all our work is having some impact.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

It has been a couple of years since I have seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas," but watching it tonight was like visiting with an old friend. Before the days of DVDs or video tapes you had watch it when the network decided (usually only once or twice during the season.) I think this made us appreciate these gems more than this generation of children, who have so much at their fingertips. (Or should I say remote control?) I remember checking the television listing to make sure we didn't miss this classic, waiting all day anticipating and finally the joy of snuggling up only to have the show end way too soon.

I find I still love this wonderfully politically incorrect movie. As Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas he throws himself into the Christmas play—Oh no! shouldn't that be the holiday play. Charlie Brown finally finds the true meaning of Christmas as explained by Linus and he actually uses the Biblical account from Luke 2:8-14. I pray that each of you, like Charlie Brown will find the true meaning of Christmas as explained by Linus in this video:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Cards: To Send or Not To Send

After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend I now turn my attention to the Christmas season. Over the weekend I prepared our Christmas cards, which I like to send or deliver shortly after Thanksgiving. I was disappointed to find out that many no longer send out cards. The reasons given are usually "I'm too busy" or "it's too expensive." I remember as a child the excitement of checking the mailbox each day to see what long-lost friend or family member sent their love in these wonderful cards. So much of their personality was reflected in the cards they chose.

Call me old fashioned, but I take great care in choosing my cards and am actually sending more out this year than in years past. Some we will deliver by hand and others we will drop in the mailbox, sending our love across the country. As I prepare each card I pray for that person or family. Over the last two years our family has experienced many challenges and God has brought many new people in our lives that we are so thankful for. They have become family to us. We can never express to these people what they have done for us just by their friendship, so the price of a card and stamp is not too much to spend on them. I also use our cards as a witnessing tool for those loved ones who don't know the true meaning of the holiday season—the sending of God's one and only Son to become the bearer of our sins. As Christians we often complain about what "the world" has done to Christmas, but I think that we have a hand in it when we are out buying what the latest ad says we need instead of being the salt and light of the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give Thanks

David enjoying the leaves
David enjoying the fall leaves

Today as our nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I reflect on how far we have gone from the original purpose and meaning. Today we gorge ourselves so that we can barely move, while we can't miss the game on television, then scour the ads to see what we can buy the next day. This is a far cry from the orginal Thanksgiving when in 1621 after a winter of starvation the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were joined by the Wampanoags for three days to distribute food from the harvest and to celebrate. The first proclaimed day of Thanksgiving was in 1623 after improvements in prospects for this still struggling colony. This was a day of prayer and not feasting. After the American Revolution the first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed on November 26, 1789 by George Washington.

It is important that we acknowledge the true meaning of this uniquely American holiday. One of the praise choruses I love is Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say, "I am strong;"
Let the poor say, "I am rich."
because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks!

This should be a day about God and not us, so take time and reflect on those who have come before us and endured hardships and sacrifices that we could never imagine. Take time to thank God for what we do have, not what we don't have from the latest ads. And give our children a sense of who we are as a nation and people. There is much to be thankful for.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cooking For The Future

While reading From Emotions to Advocacy, I was convicted about the need to make both short term and long term goals for our son. One of our goals is to teach him the ability to plan and prepare meals. He has helped us with menu suggestions and some of the cooking. However he has never had to pick the menu, check the supplies, shop for the missing supplies and do all the needed prep and cooking of the meal. This weekend we decided to have him cook a meal on Saturdays—with all the steps. With some help from Mom and Dad this meal was a great success. David made Provolone Burgers and they were wonderful.

We found that this was good timing, since Disney's "Ratatouille" about a rat chef has just been released. He is enjoying the smells of the different spices that are added to create new tastes and smells. David even helped Dad the following day to make homemade spaghetti!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Trip To Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disablility—to try to help people who have not shared this unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip—to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say "Yes, that's where I suppose to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

As a parent of a special needs child this poem touches the very core of my soul. I have met some amazing people due to my trip to "Holland." People I would never have met if not due to my son's needs and I would not have changed my missed flight to Italy for anything.