Three Super-Cool Things This Week!

Life is exciting these days!

1.  There’s James of course, who is the light of my life.  Here’s a picture of this sweet boy, in case you’ve missed seeing him lately.

He’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.  He’s actually way cooler.

2.  My sister is visiting this week and we’re staying up late and laughing like we always do. We often wonder how long we could be together before we’re “talked out.” Hasn’t happened yet. If you have a sister, you know what I mean. Here we are just yesterday.

OK, maybe a few years ago, but we can still fit into these dresses.

OK, I don’t even know where these dresses are.

Our smiles are the same. And that’s the truth.

3.  My ebook, THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE has been chosen to be part of an “e-bundle” of  very creative and colorful resources for homemakers!

Look for this badge over the next two weeks.  I’ll be talking about this in more detail starting this Tuesday, the 19th.  I made a one-minute video about it you’ll see soon as well.

This is not the video link, just a still in the video of yours truly wearing Christmas gear in April. There’s always something kooky going on here in the Ballpark.

I hope your week has been as super-cool as mine! And if not, just scroll back up and look at baby James.  How can you look at that face and not smile?

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What Standard Guides Your Life? (You might be surprised.)

It’s Easter week. We’re just days away from the commemoration of the suffering and then resurrection of Christ. I wanted to be mindful about Lent this year, but by the third day, I had forgotten to stay away from chocolate. I don’t know what happened. I got busy and lazy at the same time. 

But, other things happened over Lent that kept bringing to mind the question, What is my standard for living? 

In other words, to whom do I answer? (Maybe just myself.)  Am I trying to meet a condition (as in conditional) that I’ve placed on myself, or someone has placed upon me?  Am I trying to keep someone happy? Am I simply trying to get through life without any conflicts or confrontation? What influence or circumstance has my allegiance? What is the standard upon which I make my choices? 

These things came up this week because I talked with two different friends who have different issues with their adult children. In hashing over who’s responsible for what, my friends and I realized we were all a bit misguided in how we’re approaching finding peace in our lives. As Christian women, we want everyone to get along, share, forgive, communicate, and be happy. It’s a mom thing. 

But loved ones don’t always see things our way or cooperate. So, we stew about circumstances and say the wrong things and then backtrack and then lose sleep, only to wake up the next day and do it all again. Women have such vulnerable hearts when it comes to their loved ones. I think it’s how God made us. But, so easily, we get off track. This Lent, it was confirmed to me that it’s because we have shifting standards

We want to be strong, but we want to be protected. We want to be leaders, but we want to be liked. We want to be independent, but we want a man who adores us. Depending on what we’re feeling at the moment…that’s the standard by which we make a decision. 

It’s kind of nutty really, because life is changing daily, hourly, sometimes by the minute. We all benefit (men too – they have their own vulnerabilities) from having an invariable standard that anchors us, regardless of circumstances or people.

I read this quote today by St. Katherine Drexel: “You have no time to occupy your thoughts with complacency or consideration of what others think. Your business is simply: What will my Father in heaven think?”

It’s a solid, fail-proof question. It cuts through all the What does so-and-so think? What will my kids think?  My parents? My neighbor, my boss, my dog, the list goes on forever. Why are we such slaves to the opinions of mankind and fairly mindless to what God thinks? 

I think it’s because we really don’t know, or believe, we are loved by our Creator. If we really believed it in the depth of our soul, we would be at peace. We would know that no matter what, we are worthy of God’s time and attention. He made us. He knows us, flaws and all. He is committed to us, and He will guide us. Always. If we operated from that standard, life would be so different. 

We would forgive more easily, because we would see people how God sees them – flawed, but loved, just like we are. We would free our loved ones from walking on eggshells, or jumping through hoops (whichever they do) to keep us happy. We would free ourselves from repeatedly beating ourselves up over past mistakes. As free children of God, we would trust Him and His plans for us. So much of the confusion and second-guessing would be gone. 

The book of Galatians tells us that Christ died to set us free. Free from the harsh judgment of the Old Testament. Free from the standards of mankind and its opinion. We are even free to make mistakes (we are human after all.)  

The message of Easter week is that we are on a journey to freedom. When we face ourselves honestly, we see our need for redemption. We all have our crosses to bear, our demons to fight, our fears to conquer. We’re just human. But with the resurrection comes new life and new courage, and a clean slate. We have the reassurance that just as Christ rose, we too can rise from our own dark tomb and start anew. 


So, Lent isn’t always about giving up chocolate; sometimes it’s about gaining fresh insight. Remembering that God is big and loving. He cares about what we do and how we live. He’s invested in us like no human can possibly be. We will not find a better, safer standard. 

My prayer for you this Easter is that you encounter Christ in a new way, that you experience forgiveness and healing from whatever is blocking peace in your own life. And from then on, consider this question before you make a move: What would my Father in heaven think?



Ten Things I’m Thankful for This Week

1.

Those big eyes. Those smoochy cheeks. That soft, flyaway hair. That’s actually three things.
2. Neither of my parents have been in the hospital this month. Or last month. I cannot tell you how much easier life is when they are both living in the same place. 
3. The batch of organic greens that was delivered to the house this week was particularly good. The kale was fluffy, but not too toughy, cukes were big and smooth, Romaine was sturdy. I can’t remember what else we received because it was all good and disappeared quickly. I love having organic produce dropped off at our house every other week. If you’d like that too, and you live in central Florida, check out SPACE GIRL ORGANICS.
4. I’m thankful I finally have enough sheets for all the beds in the house. For years, I’ve had mismatched, worn sheets. After 40 years of marriage and three youngin’s, this is to be expected. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly restocked the sheets shelf in my linen closet. I now have complete sets and enough sets to spread around. 
5.  My Visa card balance is 0. I’m sure this won’t last. 
6.  I had enough leftovers in the ‘fridge over the weekend that I didn’t have to cook once. I’m going to stretch that into three days by having cereal for dinner tonight.
7.  I happened to see this guy today. 
Mr. Rubio himself stopped by a small local diner not far from my house this afternoon. My son and I got pretty close. I like Marco, even though he will likely not go further after we Floridians vote tomorrow. Maybe he’ll just come back to Florida and hang out at the local diner.
8. I love my aqua-fit class. I’ve been exercising for 30 years and I’m still fighting the same 15 pounds. When I got sick two years ago, I was carrying 20 pounds in addition to that dogged 15. Through aqua-fit, I shed the 20, so I’m really just back to square one, but I have to wonder…what kind of weight would I be carrying had I not begun shaking my booty in the water four days a week? 
9. I’m grateful for cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread. I’ve adjusted to the mulch-like consistency, and it satisfies my carb craving. I’ve really come to enjoy Ezekiel bread. Toasted. With cream cheese.
10. 

Oh. I already mentioned him, didn’t I?

He’s on my mind because I got to babysit the boy this past weekend. I held him and rocked him and sniffed his soft head and sang to him. We had a date. And it didn’t cost either of us a dime.

 

Our Newest Valentine

This is what has my attention this weekend.

 

James was blessed with a full head of hair.

It’s similar to the color of his Aunt Sara’s hair.

James is three weeks old and almost 8 lbs. this Valentine’s day weekend.

He wasn’t due for nine more days, but he was eager to meet his family, so he poked his water sack and announced “I’m coming!” His parents had moved to a new home just hours earlier. They thought they’d have a month before James appeared, but I guess he didn’t want to miss anything.

So, today we have a new Valentine to celebrate. He’s sweeter than any box of chocolates.

In three weeks of being a Nana, here are some things I’ve learned.

1. Parents with thick, dark, abundantly curly hair can have a child with light, straight, silky hair. God loves to surprise us.

2. Things that seemed important before James arrived – like cooking and cleaning – are suddenly on the back burner.

3. Holding James makes me think of my parents (who are 95 an 92.) The age span and the contrast of new life to old – it’s very philosophical.

4. Our son and daughter-in-law are naturals at caring for a newborn. I’m sure they have moments of being unsure, but they handle James with tender, unhurried confidence. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

5. Having a newborn in the NICU for a week allows the nurses to get Junior on a schedule. This has turned out to be very beneficial for James and his sleepy parents.

6.  I can’t express how much I love and adore this little boy. It came immediately, like the rush of a waterfall. When I snuggle him close, the worries fade, and life is perfect. He is so tiny, yet brings big joy to my heart.

For Valentine’s Day, my husband and I got each other the Willow Tree grandparents statues.

We are so grateful for the gift of James.

Baby James – a Month Early!

Hope everyone is having a good 2016!!!

Since Christmas, I’ve been wanting to spend some time blogging, but life has intervened. We’ve had a job loss, a move, a snow storm and THIS precious event…

Baby James arrived one month early!!!

By the hand of God, he was 6.15 lbs. upon arrival, so he was not in any danger, but he was wheeled into the NICU anyway, because, well…he was a month early! He spent five days there under a blue light with nurses getting him on a wonderful schedule, and his parents holding him whenever they could.

I WAS STUCK IN MARYLAND IN THE SNOW BLIZZARD!

I can smile about it now, but at the time…my heart was breaking because I so wanted to be here to see our first grandchild arrive. I figured traveling a month before James’ due date to see my sister, I would be fine. James had other ideas. The best laid plans…

I met James the night I came home. We drove straight to the NICU from the airport, where I got to cry over this beautiful child with a full head of hair.  He was wrapped up like a burrito and as warm as a baked potato. I think he winked at me in our time together, but I’m not positive.

I looked at our son, who was now a father, through tears, and I cried as I embraced our daughter-in-law, who did a marvelous job of handling labor (she pushed for only about ten minutes before the boy was free – who gets that?!?)

I don’t even have words to describe our love for this child, who is now home. Every grandparent knows the feeling. I’m now in the ‘I’m nutty about my grandchild’ club, and yes, you’ll have to tolerate photos now and then of this sweet boy.

A side note – I had a great visit with my sister, even once the snow began. I’ve not seen snow like this in 25 years. It was beautiful, I must say. And we had fun digging out.

TWO CARS BURIED

MY FIRST MESSAGE TO JAMES FROM MARYLAND

It was an emotional week. The day James Daniel was born in sunny Florida, even the skies in Maryland celebrated, raining down two feet of angel flakes.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

A Special Book Review: "Kissed by an Angel"

I’m thinking of a dear blogger friend this week named Robyn Campbell. She has a special needs son named Christopher.

Robyn is a writer of children’s books; Christopher is her inspiration.

The two come together in a precious book I read just after Christmas called “Kissed by an Angel.”
 
                                    front

Christopher has Sturge-Weber syndrome. Robyn has “we’ll-not-be-defeated-by-this-challenge” syndrome. Sturge-Weber is characterized by a congenital facial birthmark and neurological abnormalities. “We’ll-not-be-defeated-by-this-challenge” is characterized by eyes that see purely and a heart that loves as God loves.

Robyn is a warrior for research on this disease and found one way to bring awareness to the subject by compiling ten short stories and one poem (written by friends) for this children’s book. I read it in an afternoon, one adventure after another. The protagonists (all kids) of these short stories exhibit special gifts, traits that enable them to solve mysteries or see magically.

There are tales of time travel, and one story about a sneaky millipede. “The Captain’s Call” is about friendship and bravery and sacrifice. I think it’s my favorite. Unless it’s “The Flying Fish Mystery” about a missing painting and how a pastrami sandwich offers telling clues. Then, again, I loved “Grandpa and Loor” because of its unique and magical take on the relationship between a girl and her grandfather.

These are great bedtime stories. Or day time stories. Read aloud tales, or read-on-a-road-trip tales. All the young heroes take risks, and do so bravely. Children with Sturge-Weber syndrome (and other disabilities) take risks too, and that’s why this is such a touching book. Families who deal with Sturge-Weber must be open to procedures and medications that are sometimes cutting edge, but can be frightening as well. In the search for a cure, there are risks to be taken. There are hugs to be given and tears to be kissed away.

I’m highlighting this book today, because I want to collaborate with Robyn in her efforts to tell her story and find a cure for Sturge-Weber. If you know a youngster ages 8-12, please purchase a copy of this anthology – it’s under six dollars. If you have no youngsters in your life, buy a copy or two for your local elementary school library. I’m telling you, these are great stories for kids. All proceeds from this compilation go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation.

AMAZON link: KISSED BY AN ANGEL

If you’d rather simply make a donation to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, you can do that here. STURGE-WEBER FOUNDATION. 

I had never heard of this disease until I met Robyn. This cause has stayed with me because seizures usually accompany Sturge-Weber, and my brother Greg had seizures, due to epilepsy. It is a unceasingly worrisome problem.

In the New Year, we often try to commit to new endeavors – lose weight, stress less, give up something, take on something, maybe learn something new. Take just a few minutes and read about Sturge-Weber on the link above.  It will make you grateful for your own healthy children, and I pray it will inspire you to share a bit of what you have towards helping those like Christopher, who is the apple of his mama’s eye. Robyn would be forever grateful.

CHRISTOPHER WITH HIS BELOVED DOCTOR
MY DAD WITH GREG (ABOUT AGE 7 HERE) WHO HAD A BROKEN ARM

And I would too.