Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back home again~

Well, we're back from a great visit down home for the holiday. We thoroughly enjoyed family & friends, reliving old memories & making new ones. Gracie enjoyed lots of play with cousins & her papas, riding horses AND taking a tractor ride to get some hay. :o) Needless to say, I kicked some Rumicub behind this weekend! Whoo hooo~

The 1st annual Cookie Swap with the college roommates & their kids was a great SUCCESS! It feels so good to be in that loving circle & supercool to see our kids developing friendships among themselves. Gracie is the baby of the group so she is coddled, cuddled & carried around almost more than she can handle. :o) Pics to come soon~ Right, Val?? Soon????

Good to be back home for now. We are busy, BUSY with our annual Christmas Production. Grace & I are both in the program. Working diligently on "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - I could sing it in my sleep. I problably am singing it in my sleep. That's a good thing. We're doing the Point of Grace version with very tight harmony. We recently had our 1st rehearsal in the living/singing Christmas tree tonight - what a hoot! :o) It's 21ft high- wheee~ This pic is from another church - ours isn't quite this big. Dress rehearsals begin this weekend & it's nearly nonstop until performances Dec 8-10. Looks like the production is sold out according to the website. WOW!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


In this season of thanksgiving, I wish to offer thanks & gratitude for bountious blessings bestowed on my family. Even in loss, there lingers a fragrant peace, assurance of God's presence & hope for the future. Blessings to you & yours~

One of my blogging friends had a thoughtful post a few days back about gratitude. She included some quotes definitely worth sharing. I found a few more to share as well. Thanks & credit to write at home

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melodie Beattie

Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.
Charles E. Jefferson(1860 - 1937)

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
Jacques Maritain, Reflections on America, 1958 French diplomat & philosopher (1882 - 1973)

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.
Albert Schweitzer

Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.
Alfred Painter

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. H. U. Westermayer

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Little hands to comfort

I was preparing for company yesterday when I got this wild hair to rearrange my bedroom. No clue why it struck me so urgent as I was already under the weather with a cold. Nonetheless, I got the sleigh bed repositioned, putting the mattesses back on the frame, when I kindof got a little lazy & let the top mattress "fall" just a bit onto the box spring. Just a bit...maybe 8-12 inches. However, it hit the frame just so, busting my lovely sleigh bed. I couldn't believe it! A careless blunder made such irreparable damage. My face in my hands, I was distraught. Not crying, just the "I can't believe I just did that" kind of rant.

Gracie, hearing the commotion, came in to see me on the floor assessing the damage with my moaning commentary. Then I feel her little hand rubbing my shoulder. "It'll be ok, mom. It'll be alright.
It's ok. Let me wipe your tears", as she dabs my eyes with a baby wipe. So sweet. "I broke the bed!" I told her. "It's not your fault. It'll be ok." She just continued to comfort me. So sweet. Just what I needed.

A little later, Gracie was putting screws in the plastic container for the 4th time when I heard her say, "Help me, God. Help me, please." She was listening as I implored God for help trying to get the bed propped up. The bed is stablized up for now thanks to the letter S encyclopedia & some wood scraps. Perhaps I can sweeten the neighbor with some chocolate chip cookies to fix this lovely bed. Broken bed or not, I treasure these tender moments with my little comforter. Little hands comfort so sweetly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Elastic love

Heard a great message this weekend. Something new embedded in the familiar message we've heard before about the Mary & Martha methods of service/worship.

As ardent worshippers, there are time when we find ourselves a bit further from the flame than we would like to be. The chill of even slight separation from Christ is unecessary given God's faithfulness to forgive should we when we sin & repent; repentance being an about face from sin. The fresh nugget comes in here. Why are we reluctant to repent? Or even after repentence, still what hinders us from entering into worship before the king? Could it be that we frame forgiveness in the context of our earthly relationships?

Say, for instance, I have this disagreement or huff with a friend. We resolve it quickly because God said to put all anger, malice, wrath, etc. away from us. He also said not to let the sun go down on our anger. We resolve it quickly in the ideal situation. Even so, depending on the extent of the wound (& some would say the spiritual maturity level of the parties involved), it may take some time to heal; time to rebuild trust & open up again. This is natural but not necessarily healthy.

So we often reserve our affection in unconscious fear or hesitation because God might not be so ready to take us back or regard our gifts of worship as sincere. Afterall, we just fell on our face with our words, attitudes, sin, etc. God doesn't need time. Can you imagine God putting up His hands "Uh, not so fast. I'm gonna need a little time here." Rather, He is waiting for our turning; He is longing for our heart to race to His embrace.

Believe me, I've reminded myself quite a bit the past few years that God is not caught off guard by my failings or fraility. He is not surprised when we fall short; nor is He put off or roll His eyes the 1st or the 100th time we repent. He doesn't , He simply extends His hand in love, forgiveness & restoration. We simply must return the reach.

Oh, that we would have the same elastic love for ourselves, our loved ones & even those unloved.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

American Accent~

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Hmmm - just like I thought! What about you?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Someone To Watch Over Me

Yesterday was the last day for one of my most difficult cases EVER. Bittersweet- I've seen this set of twins for over two years. They turn three next week. Thank God transition is in place for services beyond Early Intervention. They will do great in a 5 day program. Perhaps they will get breakfast & lunch at school. For sure they will have adequate supervision for several hours a day with someone keeping them safe.

This week, one of the boys had a nasty gash/bite in his forehead/between his eyes where the other twin bit him. Mom was napping. While she napped, the also unsupervised 5 year old sister emptied an entire bottle of dishwashing soap onto the carpet. At least that spot will be clean & these bubbles were not poured in my bag. :o)

When I evaluated these kiddos at 12 months, they were both spending 80% of their waking hours in a portacrib (together). They couldn't sit up or crawl given such limited opportunities to build gross motor skills and they had very limited language development beyond open mouth vowel sounds. That was before mom was on her meds. Before she could remember to feed them or change their diaper. Instead of providing developmental therapy as in most cases, I was supporting this mom to provide the bare basics for her kids; they need to be held, talked to, fed, clothed, bathed & loved on. We set up charts & visuals as well as phone call reminders that the twins must eat & drink. Mom was never hungry - except for the cake, cookies, soda, etc - stashed away for midnight consumption - but in her lack of hunger, she more often than not forgot to feed the babies. Both parents have some degree of mental impairment or learning disability. Therein lies the problem.

Selfishly speaking, I won't have to wade through mess to get to the kids. Food, trash, clothes. Mom collected cups - like from 7-11 big gulp or any other large plastic cup from gas stations & such. She didn't want to collect something common that everyone else did like barbie dolls or shot glasses. She collected disposable plastic cups - hundreds of them, stacked everywhere.

I don't have to worry so much about staining my clothes from the spills on the carpet anymore. I don't have worry about unexplained bruises, bumps, cuts or scrapes that I see with no explanation. "I don't know what happened." I won't have to worry about the kids eating week old food off the floor because they are hungry. I won't be nauseous the first two hours of my day because of the stench in that little apartment. I won't have to worry about getting there, finding mom looking in the neighbor's yard because the twins are missing again. She let them play in the backyard by themselves. I won't field calls like "Carmen, I hear the twins screaming upstairs. I don't know if they are ok or not. When are you coming?" I won't be the one to decide if the situation merits another call to DCFS to no avail.

So, it's over. Just me & the social worker that has stuck it out with this family out of a number of other therapists who would rather quit or worse yet, discharge them from services because the conditions were horrid. I took a birthday cake, candle, plates & gifts to celebrate their birthday; celebrating the progress the've made & celebrate this load off my mind & heart. They have made good progress despite the conditions. They sing songs & love books, play appropriately. Mom has made progress & real changes in the way she interacts with her kids. She speaks to them, sings to them rather than yelling. She hold them close rather than pushing them away. She wants good things for them. I know she does. Here's to the twins~ here's to the teachers who will worry about them now.

Someone To Watch Over Me: the after party

Yesterday met with way more happiness AND sadness than I expected. The twins were ecstatic with their little cake & gifts. The 5 & 7 year old siblings were even MORE excited, clamoring to help the twins blow out the candles! The kids (all 4) and I read books as much as we could before lunch. Cuddling in a cozy lap with a book is their favorite thing to do. Daddy does read with them. Yeah!!! A love for books is the foundation to success in reading, which in turn leads to school success & we all know where that leads. YEAH!!!

I was certain to praise the kids as much as I could - the older ones especially. It's part of modeling appropriate interaction but also so they could hear a few more times that they are good: good helpers, good listeners, good looking at book readers, good cleaner upers, good eaters, good singers and good candle blower outers. You can't even imagine the smile that spreads over their entire face when they hear they are good. The 7 year old made me cry when he said over chocolate cake (chocolate cake all OVER us), "I sure wish we had something for you to remember us by. Don't forget us." Awwwwww.... "You've given me the best gift to remember you. We will remember eating this cake together, singing, laughing & being happy together. I will not forget you."

Mom joined us only to light the candle & take a picture (that was really nice). She did not enjoy the cake moment with her children. I KNOW this woman loves cake. She did not say goodbye, staying busy digging for socks without looking at me as I praised her boys' progress, her progress . I choose to believe that the goodbye was hard for her as well, instead of any other reason why she would not acknowledge me. I don't need a thank you to do my job.

I prayed over each twin before leaving; praying for health, growth, good success & safety. Prayed for a very real embracing from the one who knows how to hold us & love us. On my way out the door, little M. called me back to kiss the owie on his finger. I cried all the way to my next appointment.

Later in the day, I wept more while reading Motherless Mothers (Edelman). There was a poignant piece related to the loss I feel for these kids in the absence of protective parenting.

Most parenting experts agree that a moderate amount of anxiety is a normal and important element of parenting. Parents need to have some degree of concern for their children's wellbeing: that's what ensures their offspring's survival. They need to be responsive to signals that aren't evident to others around them, the unique signs that their child is in distress. Daniel Stern calls these a parent's 'vigilant responses'. They're similar to the type of actions a lioness might take when her cub is in danger, although human threats today are morelike staircases and swimming pools than predators in the wild.

Tell me where's the shepherd for this lost lamb
There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that she turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me

I'm a little lamb who's lost in a wood
I know I could always be good
To one who'll watch over me

Someone to watch over me

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just like Jesus

Through me let there be kind words, a warm smile & a caring heart. Through me let there be willingness to listen & a readiness to understand. Through me let there be dependability, steadfastness, trust & loyalty. Through me let there be compassion, forgiveness, mercy & love. Through me let there be every quality I find, O Lord, in Thee.

-Roy Lessin

I've come to realize recently that I've been so consumed with just surviving the past couple of years, trying to emerge from the ashes, that I've forgotten my pursuit to be like Him. I want to be a reflection of Him; His character, grace, compassion & passion for the harvest-- both inside & out. Change me, O God.

Sometimes the character traits or quirks in others that drive us silly or push our buttons - whatever you want to call it, they are often a reflection of something in us that we need to change. This is a lesson learned the past few weeks. What I see as ugly in another, be it brother or other, it's often ugly in me; revealed that I might seek change in myself.

Create in me a clean (new) heart, O God, & renew a right spirit within me. You would not be pleased with sacrifices or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Ps 51:10, 16-17

There is a fountain full of grace and it flows from Emmanuel’s veins
It came and it healed me
It came and refreshed me
And it came and washed my sins away
from David & Nicole Binion's live @ straightgate (prerelease)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or Treat Sweeties

Grace & neighbor Emily went trick or treating together. Our very own pumpkin patch. What fun! I don't think Stephanie could beam any brighter as Emily gets her first trick or treat candy.