Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Single Mom and the Strong-Willed Child

God is omniscient, all-knowing. It’s basic Christian theology. But if God knew I would be a single mom, I can’t for the life of me figure out why He would give me a strong-willed child. Single parents should have nice, easy, compliant children.

This iron-willed trait made its debut early in the life of my daughter Hannah. When she was 2 years old she refused to stay in her car-seat. I realize many kids go through the stage of discovering they can escape the confines of the car-seat all by themselves, but my daughter used this new found ability to test the boundaries of our parent-child relationship. I recall sitting on the side of the road refusing to drive any further until she was buckled up safe and sound. It was a battle of the wills and our emotions were running high. There we sat, as traffic raced by us, with the battle raging on for what seemed like an eternity. By the time we were finally able to continue on our way, we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. This didn’t just happen once. This roadside war of wills was a daily occurrence for many months. Looking back, it could have been the inspiration for Carrie Underwood’s song “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The car-seat situation was just one way Hannah’s determined spirit tested my authority and ability as a parent. An unwanted divorce had left me battered and bruised on the inside and I was overwhelmed with the awesome responsibility of being a single parent. I felt abandoned by man and by God. My faith had been strengthened during the divorce, but now I questioned if God was even around. I needed a husband, a help mate, someone to walk through this journey with me.

Although I felt alone, I knew my faith wasn’t based on feelings. It was grounded in Biblical Scripture. I scoured the Bible looking for answers and discovered God is my heavenly husband just as He promised Israel in Isaiah 54. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I am not alone.

It has been 10 years since I became a single mom and God has been faithful to be our provider and protector. Although this might not be the life I would have chosen, God has shown me I am not alone. He isn’t just walking through this journey with me, He is leading the way.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Look Back - Coach John R. Wooden

The years have left their imprint
On my hands and on my face.
Erect no longer is my walk
And slower is my pace.

But there is no fear within my heart
Because I'm growing old,
I only wish I had more time
To further serve my Lord.

When I've gone to Him in prayer
He has brought me inner peace,
And soon my cares and worries
And all other troubles cease.

He has blessed me in so many ways,
He has never let me down.
Why should I fear the future
When I soon may touch His crown?

Though I know down here my time is short
There is endless time up there,
And He will forgive and keep me
forever in His loving care.

May I not waste an hour
That's left to glorify His name
Of the One who died, that we may live,
and for our sins took all the blame.

Coach John R. Wooden 1910-2010
Poem written May 2003

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gone Fishing

This weekend my brother took Hannah and his three girls fishing. I went too, but I didn't fish. I am not a fisher kind of gal. I stayed on the shore while the girls took turns out on my brother's kayak. The thought of touching a worm and somehow getting it on a hook makes my stomach a bit uneasy. And, then trying to get the hook out of the fish, well just yuk! That is the word that comes to mind when I think of fishing - yuk! But my brother loves it and I loved watching him with the girls.

When the first two girls got on the kayak, I was sure that thing would tip over. I just knew there was going to be some very wet passengers. Thank goodness everyone had life jackets! But, the boat never did tip over and no one got wet....from lake water. We were all soaked, but not from the lake water. We were drenched in our own sweat. I know, double yuk! It was one of the hottest days of the year and I was affected by the heat the most. I sweat down my shirt and then somehow across my shirt. I sweat the cross! I'm sure you've heard of the silly things like the pancake shaped like Jesus, or the virgin Mary's face on a potato chip. Well, this was the shirt with the cross! I do love Jesus!

The girls each caught several fish and proved to be quite the fisher-gals. Even Hannah baited the hook with worms (yuk!). The last time she went fishing with my brother she wouldn't touch the worms, so this is improvement! Our fishing excursion ended with a nice picnic lunch together. As we drove away from the lake, while I was desperately trying to get the air conditioning to cool me off, I thought about what a precious experience we had just had.

Family. Fun. Together. Just tell the world, I've gone fishing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sin Splatters

In last Sunday's sermon the guest preacher for the day used the phrase "sin splatters." I had never really thought of it that way before, but the word "splatter" perfectly describes the effects of sin. It isn't just the sinner that is affected by his or her sin, it splatters into the lives of those nearby. I picture a child jumping with both feet into a muddy rain puddle. The muddy water splashes up and out of the puddle showering everyone within close proximity.

When I was facing divorce, I went to a DivorceCare class at my church. During one of the weekly sessions the leader asked us to think about the type of loss we had endured because of divorce. Many people talked about the loss of a family, or a spouse, or a dream. But one woman said the greatest loss she had faced through divorce was the loss of choice. I totally agreed. Because of someone else's choices my life was turned upside down. I had no say in what was happening to me. If I had a choice, divorce wouldn't have happened. I am not saying I didn't play a role in the demise of my marriage, but I didn't want divorce. I was facing the consequences of someone else's sin! And not just me, but my daughter, our parents, our siblings, and all of our friends were affected by this divorce.

King David's sin with Bathsheba greatly illustrates the splattering of sin. I'm sure when David saw the beautiful Bathsheba from his palace roof, he didn't think about all the people his sin would affect. But because he acted on his lustful desires, Bathsheba found herself pregnant, her husband was murdered, and an innocent child died. Not to mention how David's sin must have affected all the supporting players of this story. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a servant in David's palace during this time - talk about a stressful job!

A rebellious teen can turn the family home into a war zone. A drunk driver can take the life of a complete stranger - someone's mother, wife, daughter and friend. An adulterous affair can rip a family apart. Even a simple lie can set in motion a home filled with deception and mistrust.

Yes, sin does indeed splatter! As we go through our lives making daily decisions, may we all keep in our mind the picture of a muddy rain puddle splashing and soaking the people we love!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's a Full Blown Case of the Frumpies

There it sat in the midst of fun, beautiful vacation pictures. A picture of me in my swimsuit! Holy moly, I am frumpy! When did this happen? How did this happen? I somewhat resemble a whale. I'm not kidding! I can hear you. You are saying, "ah, it doesn't look that bad, Krista." Oh, but it does! My swimsuit is black and white and the whole thing looks a bit like a whale. I knew I had gained a little weight over the past several years and I even realized I had gone up a couple of clothing sizes. But I never thought I could be mistaken for a close relative of Shamu!

I have heard that people with an eating disorder have a distorted or false view of themselves in the mirror. I know very little about eating disorders, but I totally understand the trick of the mirror. Although in my case, I look in the mirror and think I look pretty good! While not as small as a few years ago, I'm still pretty hot. I am 45 after all. I even took the increase in clothing size in stride - I'm still wearing an average size and there are many women my age who wish they wore my size! Again, maybe I'm not "smokin' hot" but still pretty hot!

The mirror may lie, but pictures don't! Good grief, there it was staring back at me all whale like! I am still somewhat in disbelief. I have tried to blame it on the angle of the camera, the way I was standing or on the swimsuit - it just isn't flattering! I found a picture of myself taken just a few years ago on a girls vacation to Key West. I wore a bikini! Wow, what a difference just a few years can make. One big difference is that in the Key West picture I was very tan (it was of the spay-on nature) and we all know tan fat is much more attractive than white fat! I'm sure I would have looked better in this recent picture if I had been a bit more tan. Note to self: get a spray-on tan prior to being out in public in a swim suit! But it is clear I was much smaller and in much better physical shape just a few short years ago. When I went to Key West I was over forty, so it's not like this change is due to some major life milestone. No, it is due to just plain dropping the ball. And then not bending down to pick it back up!

I am trying to teach my daughter about healthy choices that include a certain number of daily calories, nutrition and exercise. I think I better start living it rather than just trying to teach it! Looking frumpy isn't the only issue. There is the whole health issue to think about. I recently had a physical exam and found out I have high cholesterol. It isn't too terribly high, but still higher than it should be and if I continue on the same path it will only get higher. I will admit just thinking about changing daily habits is daunting! I really like donuts, and Pepsi, and chocolate and ice cream...not too mention the whole exercise thing is hard! Ugh!

Well, change is coming. I'm not sure what my plan is yet, but it will include more fruits and vegetables and exercise! The case of the frumpies must be cured! I'll keep you posted on my progress from time to time.

I know you are probably curious, but rest assured I will not post the picture in question! But I will post the new costume for Wonder Woman. She is 69 and is getting a new makeover. She looks pretty good for 69, but it was about time they put some pants on that woman!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doors Opened or Closed?

It is so easy to see the hand of God when He allows the doors to just swing open wide. I've written about this before - how every door literally flew open when my husband and I wanted to adopt and again when I wanted to move back to my home town after a painful divorce. But, if doors don't seem to be opening does that mean God is saying no? I read a recent post from one my favorite blog writers about this very subject. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia and God is providing the financial means in an amazing way. It is clear God is in the center of their plans. But sometimes it isn't so clear.

I think of the story of Joseph is Genesis. He certainly encountered a few closed doors along the way! God had shown Joseph in a dream that his brothers would bow down to him, but it would be a long time and several closed doors later before any bowing down happened! Surely Joseph wondered about God's plan when he was sold into slavery, and again when he was thrown into jail falsely accused of a horrible crime. I also think of King David. This shepherd boy was anointed by God to be the King of Israel. But the red carpet wasn't rolled out heading straight to the King's palace. I imagine David had to wonder about this whole royalty thing when he was being chased by King Saul and his men. David cried out to God throughout the Psalms! Or how about Abraham and Sarah? God promised He would give them a son. I know how Sarah felt, longing to be a mom and how every month it must have seemed like God was closing the door on His promise. They questioned God's plan so much, they ended up taking matters into their own hands and made quite a mess of things!

It is absolutely wonderful when God allows the doors to swing open wide. But sometimes God chooses to send us to a few closed doors before we can get to the opened one. I heard a story of a woman who wanted to be a missionary. She knew this was God's calling on her life but after she had spent extensive time on training and preparation she failed the final test necessary to be placed by the mission board. She could have given up. She could have seen this as God telling her no to the mission field. But she didn't give up. She took the test again and was placed exactly where she was hoping to go. It is easy for us, knowing how the story ends, to see how God was orchestrating people and places to bring about His plan in the lives of Joseph, David and Abraham and Sarah. But it the midst of what seems like closed doors, we must cling to our faith knowing He is leading, directing and holding our hand along the way!


I pray that you will show me Your presence in the midst of the closed doors. Help me, as Your Word says in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. Help me to acknowledge You in all my ways and I ask that you will direct my paths. Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Little Independence

The whole point of parenting is to train your children to live without you...right? Hopefully, our kids will grow up and eventually be on their own, although my parents might tell you that children are never really on their own! But nonetheless, that is the goal and I'm just not completely sure I like it. I want to keep Hannah in a safe protected bubble under my watchful eye forever. And I don't see anything wrong with my way of thinking!

Letting go is hard, even the little steps along the way to adulthood. Turning the reigns of life over to a child is scary - there are big bad wolves out there just waiting to pounce on my little red riding hood, I mean, Hannah. Based on how I felt yesterday, I can only imagine how I will handle the day Hannah actually leaves home to truly be on her own. But again, I'm sure my parents will tell me not to worry because if she is anything like me, she we will be back!

Yesterday I let Hannah stay home by herself while I was at work. We agreed she could have a friend over for a few hours and they could go to the neighborhood pool. Summertime for Hannah can be a one big long television fest if we don't plan activities for her. I don't want her just laying around watching TV all day or playing on the computer. She usually goes to my parent's house, but in the spirit of allowing a little bit of independence I agreed to occasionally let her stay home by herself. Her friend came over and Hannah called to tell me the friend had arrived. About 10 minutes later Hannah called to say they were leaving the house to walk to the neighborhood pool. Another call came approximately 5 minutes later to tell me they had arrived at the pool safely. She is such a good girl! About an hour later, my mind started to wander. Are they still having fun at the pool? Will she call again soon just to check in? Are they re-applying sunscreen? Are they still AT the pool? Could something have happened at the pool? "Oh Lord," I prayed, "please keep them safe!" They are safe, right? Maybe I should try to call her. But, she won't hear her phone if they are in the water. But I should try anyway. No answer. I tried again. No answer. I tried her friend's phone. No answer. Maybe something horrible has happened. Maybe I should leave work and go see. Maybe I could call a neighbor to go check on them. I don't think I can breathe! My phone rings. "Hi mom, did you try to call?" THANK YOU JESUS!! She is still AT the pool...having fun...in the water...with lots of sunscreen...just like she should be....because after all, she is a pre-teen with just a little independence! Baby steps!

Mercy me, this parenting thing is hard!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Treading The Deep Waters of Theology

There is no rest in this thing called parenting. You have to be on your toes every minute of the day! Last night as we were getting ready for bed, and let me preface this by expressing how extremely exhausted I was after an active day in the sun, Hannah initiated a random conversation that took us into deep, deep waters!

Hannah: What if we end up going to hell?

Me: Well, if we truly have a relationship with Jesus, we won't go to hell.

Hannah: What if God changes His mind because we mess up, like if we don't go to church enough?

Me: God won't change His mind and nothing we can do can earn our way in to heaven. We deserve hell, but because God loves us so much he sent His son to die in our place. He promised us our sins will be forgiven if we ask, and in turn we can look forward to an eternity with Him in heaven. God always keeps His promises. This is His gift to us.

Hannah: It is kind of scary because God knows everything we do and even knows all our thoughts.

Me: Yep.

A much needed pause of at least 1 minute, and just when I thought the waters were receding, the conversation resumed.

Hannah: Do you ever say bad words in your head?

Me: Yes, sometimes.

Hannah: Me too sometimes.

Me: After I have a bad thought like that I pray and ask for forgiveness.

Hannah: I don't.

Me: You don't?

Hannah: I can't just pray in front of everyone at school, they will think I am weird.

Me: You don't have to bow your head and close your eyes every time you pray. Prayer is a conversation between you and God and it can happen anytime and anywhere. No one but you and God needs to know about your prayers. When your dad and I were getting divorced I remember going into the bathroom at work, locking the door, sitting on the floor and pouring my heart out to God in prayer. No one but me and God knew what I was doing in the bathroom.

Hannah: Why didn't he answer your prayers?

Me: He did. Without God, I wouldn't have made it through that difficult time in my life. He literally held me in His arms during that time.

Hannah: But you and dad still got divorced.

Me: Yes, because sometimes people make poor decisions.

Hannah: Why didn't God make you and dad stay together?

Me: Because God doesn't want to be like a puppet master, he gave us a free will so we could choose things for ourselves.

Hannah: Well, God needed to take some of that free will away from dad!

Out of the mouth of babes - couldn't have said it better myself! Never underestimate the wisdom of a child!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Every Girl's Dream

You just never know the nugget of information you might find sitting in your facebook news-feed. One of my facebook friends changed her relationship status from single to engaged! I am so happy for her.

I am, really.
Stop looking at me like that.
I am truly happy for her!
Maybe a small hint of envy, but mostly happy.

This newly engaged woman is more of a friendly acquaintance than a friend in the traditional sense, but thanks to facebook our knowledge of each other has been elevated to a new level. When I saw the news I was thrilled for her. She is nearly forty and has never been married. I have often wondered how she felt about being single. After all, I know how I feel about being single, so I wondered if she too longed for more. I assumed she desired to be married and that she was holding out all hope God would eventually send His hand-picked mate. His timing can certainly seem perplexing. I can only imagine how Mary and Martha felt when it appeared Jesus was 4 days late and their brother lay dead! I take comfort in knowing He has a plan, but boy, sometimes that plan is hard for us to see or understand. I know this particular friend has been a bridesmaid probably more times than she would like to count and I imagine she has questioned God's plan from time to time. But now, it is finally her turn and it is obvious from her facebook posts that she is drinking in every moment of this long-awaited time in her life. And, yes I am truly happy for her.

Most little girls dream of the day they will marry their prince and have a family of their own, and my daughter Hannah is no exception. She makes up imaginary families complete with the names, ages and personal information about each member. She types all the information up in a word document and prints out a family biography of sorts. For example the Harrison family may have Sarah age 36 as the mom and Jeff age 38 as the dad. They have three children named Shelby (10), Taylor (8) and Erica (2). She has oodles of these "family biographies" printed out! She is constantly talking about the family she dreams of having someday. She wants at least three kids: two girls and a boy, or, maybe three girls and no boys. In our home she is an only child and because of the small size of our family she wants to have a big family.

With the onset of adolescence, boys have become a focal point for Hannah. We have been praying together, asking God to begin preparing today the boy who will someday be her husband. I have stressed the importance of following God and staying true to His standards when it comes to dating and marriage. My fervent prayer is that she will make good choices about relationships with the opposite sex. There is no greater blessing from God than family and I pray He will bless her abundantly! One night we prayed together about this boy God is preparing just for her and after we were finished she asked me something astounding. "Mom," she asked, "do you think that boy is praying for me?" Wow, I was almost brought to tears at the thought of a little boy somewhere in the world praying for the girl that will someday be his wife, and that God, right now, knows his wife will be my precious Hannah. "Yes, Hannah," I replied, "I do think there is a little boy out there right now praying just for you." In the paraphrased words of the charismatic preacher, Tony Evans, if you want to know where your mate is, you better be following God, because He is the only one who knows where he is!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh How I Dream Of Blogging

I want to blog, really I do. Yeah right, I haven't blogged since January. I know that's what you're thinking. And you're right, I haven't blogged since January - at least not in written word. But oh, how many blogs I have at least started in my head! I heard something recently from a real-life writer that sums up my love-hate relationship with writing, "I love to have written, it's just the writing I struggle with." I know exactly what that author means. I love it after I have written something - anything really. After I have finished writing something I have to call my parents and ask them to read said masterpiece. I then call all my friends to read it. I even have the desire to do a little show-and-tell after I have written what is clearly the most clever PowerPoint bullet of all time! I write a lot of PowerPoint bullet points in my line of work - nothing wrong with taking a little pride in your work! I suppose that is exactly why I was attracted to the whole idea of a blog in the first place. Someone might actually read that which I have written. But again, it is the writing I struggle with, and boy do I struggle!

Since my last post (yes, the one dated January) I have started to write, in my head at least, about a variety of topics. These topics have included the meanderings of my middle school daughter, dating in midlife, the startling fact that according to a recent report, only 39% of Presbyterians believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven, my love of business travel, more middle school antics, and of course I have started, at least a gazillion times, the blog named "I am back." Well, as of today, right now, guess what. I AM BACK!

Tonight I was watching television, well sort of. I was really just desperately trying to avoid doing more preparation for the mother of all garage sales I am having tomorrow. Anyway, while doing this avoiding, I happened to catch a show about a professional blogger. Hmm. I think that is an interesting job title. This woman makes more in one month blogging than I do in a year! She must write about something really important...right? NO, she just writes about the random happenings in the life of her family - which includes two small children, one husband and a couple of dogs. Her blog has so many readers that advertisers pay her to run their ads on her site. I am in advertising, so of course I know of this type of thing, but I suspect most "professional bloggers" have real jobs outside the blog-o-sphere. Her story got me to thinking. I thought about all the posts I had started in my head but never quite made it to the written word. I started thinking about the power of this thing called social media. If advertisers can use it, just think of what God can do with it! Of course I thought about how the 6 or 7 loyal readers I once had are now gone. And then I got inspired.

I want to blog, really I do. I believe God can use me through writing somehow and that He is waiting for me to let Him - He is waiting for me to just say yes, I will write. I am saying yes to God. I will write as often as possible (but remember I struggle with the actual act of writing, so please bear with me when it looks like I may have gone on vacation - I promise I'll be back). The good thing is that those 6 or 7 loyal readers I once had are all related to me, so I'm pretty sure I can convince them to start reading again!

Happy blogging y'all! (I'm calling my parents to read this now!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Not Another Resolution

I have said before, and I will say it again, I am really not all that sold on the whole idea of New Year's resolutions. However, as I have also said before, January 1st does give a good fresh start to just about anything. So, along with trying to live a bit healthier, Hannah and I are reading through the Bible. Now, this isn't really a resolution....just want that to be crystal clear. If we give up in February and try again in May, so be it. I don't want to set ourselves up for failure by setting expectations that are too high. What I do want, is to encourage both of us to read God's word as often as possible!

Over the years I have tried several different ways to incorporate daily devotions into our lives, with little success. What could be better than actually reading the Bible? I am using the Daily Walk Bible and Hannah is using The One Year Bible - Kids Edition. It isn't the full Bible word for word, but it has 365 daily readings from Genesis to Revelation. I'm not sure which books or chapters aren't included, but I'm guessing the publisher was trying to make sure kids would stay attentive. I'm not suggesting that the Bible is boring, but to an 11 or 12 year old, the attention span can only handle so many "begats." We are on our 11th day and so far this is an incredible journey together. We are talking about what we read and it has sparked an interest in Hannah to learn more. She has asked lots of questions, some of which I don't know the answer to, so she asks grandpa as he is our go-to-theologian and Bible scholar.

I absolutely love reading the story of Abraham and Sarah. Maybe I love their story because I am almost 45 and still secretly hope God will bring more children into my life. After all, Sarah was around 90 when her beloved Isaac was finally born! Not that I want to give birth when I am ninety, but this story reminds me of two truths: God can do the impossible and He will do it, in His time not ours! I relate to Sarah on so many levels. I have to believe that in her heart she knew God would keep His promise, but as the years crept by, the doubt had to consumer her. In fact her doubt led her down the path of trying to help God out a little, by giving her maidservant to her husband. That sentence just boils over with trouble! But how many times in my own life have I tried to step in and "help God out?" Clearly, He needs my help....right? I love that God packed His word with people just like you and me. People who faced the same struggles we do.

Tonight I'll be reading about Jacob's dream and his flight from his brother Esau. Hannah will be reading about Sodom and Gomorrah....I'm sure that will bring a barrage of questions! I am excited about what the next few weeks and months will bring in our daily readings....not that this is a resolution or anything!

The Panko-Crusted Pork Chops turned out great! Hannah really seemed to like them. Are they still healthy if you eat three of them?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Snow Go Away

We are beyond White Christmas now. We are looking at a "White Winter" and I'm fearful of a possible "White Spring!" Snow has been on the ground for 15 days so far, and there is no end in sight! The outside world looks like one big frozen white blanket. We will have a couple days of no new snow and then BAM, it snows again just adding to the already huge piles.

Looking out the window, while in the cozy comfort of home, the winter landscape is absolutely beautiful. The snow softly drapes each house and covers everything in sight. Oh but how this powdery stuff can really mess up life's plans. Hannah hasn't been in school since before the Christmas break and I just received an email that it will be canceled again tomorrow. Shoveling the driveway has become a daily chore and we all know how much I love shoveling the driveway! I once hoped that I would get to heaven without ever performing this task! I have a friend who has never in her life pumped her own gas! Her husband does it for her! Have mercy, she has a good man! Anyway, she has often said that she will in fact get to heaven without ever having pumped gas into her car! But alas, that is not my life and again today I was digging out a path from my garage to the road. When oh when will it end!

Hannah helped a little!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Witch Hat Tree

The mind of a child never ceases to amaze me. Children just see the world differently. They see animals in the sky instead of clouds and angels in the snow after wildly flapping their arms. Oh the things we could see through the eyes of a child.

Hannah has been taking dance lessons from the same studio for over six years, and for those six years we have traveled the same road from our house to the dance studio at least a million times. (It probably isn't really a million times, but math isn't my strongest suit, so I am guesstimating!) Several years ago on one of our treks to dance, Hannah said "look mom, it's the witch hat tree." Hmm, I had no idea what she was talking about. By the time I figured out she was trying to show me something, we were long past the tree in question. The next trip, she pointed it out again. "Wow, it really does look like a witch's hat," I said in surprise. I would have never seen it. It was just another big green tree. But through the eyes of a child. . .

Isn't it the same with our faith? If only we could keep that new child-like faith forever, how rich our walk with God could be. With the onset of the pre-teen years, it seems the world is already chipping away at Hannah's faith. She recently told me that God doesn't answer her prayers. "He answers other people's prayers, not mine," she said. Oh how I tried to explain that He does answer prayer and that He is delighted every time she talks to Him. But she had put up a wall and didn't want to hear anything about it. Girlfriend troubles at school had convinced her, at least for the moment, that she was on her own.

Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to the little children and anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Luke 18:16-17). I pray Hannah will not lose that child-like faith she had when she first gave her heart to Jesus. I pray her faith will grow not diminish. And, I pray that along the road of life she will always be able to see the witch's hat instead of just a tree.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Single Mom Cooks

Well, actually this single mom doesn't cook. At least not very often and certainly not very well. With the new year upon us, I thought it might be a good idea for both Hannah and me to start eating healthier foods. I'm not big on new year's resolutions, but January 1st does give a good fresh start to just about everything. Healthy homemade meals are scarce at our house...what with working full time, running here and there for dance, church, school activities, violin lessons, homework and trying to squeeze in some sleep. Taco Bell, McDonald's and Pizza Hut have become good friends! But alas, it is a new year. A new chance to live a bit healthier!

To get myself started I headed out to my friendly neighborhood bookstore with high hopes. Apparently just about everyone on the planet is looking for information about healthy eating....hence the huge display at the bookstore! I stood there browsing through the stacks of books promising better nutrition, great tasting food and a bikini body by Spring, and felt totally overwhelmed. How do you change a lifetime of habits? I scoured the recipe books and quickly put them back. These books are not written for the single mom! On top of having limited time and energy at the end of the day, my daughter is the world's pickiest eater. These recipe books are not for us. Hannah would NEVER eat "Braised Lamb Shanks" or "Pasta with Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomatoes". Yes, there are a few simpler recipes but even those Hannah wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Breakfast ideas like the "Quick and Easy Frittata" would not work in our home. So, I left the bookstore and went home feeling utterly defeated.

The next day, I dusted myself off and went back for more. I figured there just had to be a book that could help me make a healthier household! In fact, I had searched the handy dandy Internet and was sure a specific Weight Watchers book was just the thing I needed to head me in the right direction. Again, I stood in the aisle with hundreds of books and that familiar feeling of dread came over me. I found the book I had seen on the Internet and to my dismay it featured recipes like "Smoked Salmon, Dill and Red Onion Pizza." Again, she won't eat that!! And, this is the book that promises meals in just 20 minutes. I don't know about you, but there is no way I could make some kind of pizza with smoked salmon in just 20 minutes! I need the book titled "Easy, Healthy Recipes For the Single Mom with No Time and No Cooking Skills Whatsoever!" Oh, and add..."With A Picky Eater!" No one has written that book.

Once again, I felt defeated. My mind raced as I saw books about no sugar diets (that definitely won't work for us), and books about the power foods we should all be eating. There are books about this diet and that diet and how not to be on a diet and still lose weight! To take a word from my daughter...WHATEVER! Ugh! I just stood there in utter despair.

I'm a smart person; this shouldn't be that hard. And then I thought about the "Pineapple Story." This story was told by one of my favorite author's at a writer's conference. She was teaching us how to write a book. She likened the process to cutting up a pineapple. Fresh pineapple always seemed quite daunting to her. How do you actually get the fruit out of that scary looking thing? And, so she always bought canned pineapple, although she secretly craved the fresh juicy stuff you can only get from the real thing. Thanks to a friend, she discovered the secret to cutting the pineapple: cut it in smaller chunks. First, cut off the crown, then cut it in half, then half again, etc. Writing a book should be tackled in much the same way. Break it down in small, manageable chunks. Aha! The pineapple theory could work now. My problem was that I was trying to change a lifetime of habits immediately and I was looking for that one book with all the answers. I snatched up a simple healthy cookbook and headed home with a brand new attitude.

Don't get me wrong, this cookbook has some doozie recipes in it...like "Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Honey." I don't even begin to know where in the store I find the "figs!" But, there are some simpler recipes as well. I decided to tackle the whole healthy living thing one step at a time, starting with the pantry and the refrigerator. Out went all the pop and sugary snacky things. Don't worry I didn't actually throw good food and drink in the trash. Nope, I drank all the pop and ate many of the sugary snacks, but nonetheless they are now all out of our house! I went to the grocery store and stocked up on flavored water drinks, fruits and healthy snack items. I even planned a week's worth of meals. My goal is to work in one of the cookbook recipes at least once a week and this week we are going to try "Panko Crusted Pork Chops." I'll let you know how it goes! Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Coming Down

This week I have slowly put away all things Christmas, from the Santa towels that hang in the bathroom to the beautiful porcelain nativity set to every last ornament adorning the tree. As I carefully wrapped up the Christmas decorations I couldn't help but think about what I was really packing away for another year.

Along with the all the trimmings of the season, it seems as if we also store away so much more. Why is it, life seems a bit different for the month that bridges Thanksgiving and Christmas? There is an innocent, hopeful sense of wonder that comes along just once a year. Life feels a little more shiny, inspiring and filled with potential. Time is spent with family and friends that we rarely see the rest of the year and for Christians, Jesus takes center stage.

Is the Christmas story just a story I pull out once a year? How often do I really think about how God designed His plan of salvation? As I laid the porcelain Mary and Joseph figurines into their box, I thought about the birth of my Savior. Nativity sets and Sunday School pictures depict a beautiful setting under the backdrop of a nice neat stable. But I suspect there was nothing nice and neat about the true place of Christ's birth. Mary was a teenager who had been asked to do the unthinkable - carry God's child. Did anyone believe her? Joseph didn't at first. Did she ever doubt what God was trying to do? I believe she probably did. Was she scared? She had to be. When it was finally time to give birth, she was far from home. She had traveled the long journey to Bethlehem and I'm sure she was tired, scared and homesick. There was no hospital with a fancy maternity ward. There was no epidural to help ease her pain. There was just her and Joseph, outside in a barn. The Bible doesn't give us a lot of details of the birth, but it was certainly humble to say the least.

With the last ornament packed away, my heart aches to keep Mary's story close for the year to come. Just an ordinary girl that God used in an extraordinary way.

If God could use Mary, He can use me as well. Not everything has to be put away until next year.

The Christmas story isn't just a story to be brought out for a month. It's a true story of how a loving but just God began His plan to save His people. Because, for you see, if not for the birth in that barn so many years ago, we would be lost in a world of sin with no hope. I pray that as the Christmas decorations come down, the hope of the season rings true in your life not just for a month, but for eternity.