Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Water, water everywhere…

I am currently sobbing over this past Sunday’s episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with the Hurston family from Cocoa, Florida. Joe Hurston, who runs the nonprofit relief organization Air Mobile Disaster Relief , has delivered portable water purifiers to disaster sites worldwide and installed about 660 water purification devices in 38 countries.  Joe a pilot and Cindy, a nurse, met in Haiti and adopted their eldest daughter Juliet (17) from Haiti when she was 3 yrs old. They have a son, Peter (13) and daughter, Dieunika(5) who was adopted into the family from Haiti when she was 2.

While away from home, one of their pipes burst, flooding the house. Ironically, as Ty Pennington points out, the very thing they provide as relief to others around the world, provided devastation to their own home. When a massive earthquake struck Haiti last year, they made a conscious decision to put the repairs of their home on the back burner because the people of Haiti were in more desperate need. Even as they tour their home with Ty, the show’s designers and crew, they resist feelings of sadness over their situation because there are many of their friends living in tents of sheets or sticks, and have no access to water. They are thankful when they return from continued relief trips to Haiti, that they can live in a modest mobile home parked in their yard. A half bath in the main house provides the only actual plumbing in the home. I was struck at how Mr. Hurston’s demeanor energized as he described what his little plane could do. Its an old small workhorse  but it can land in small places and can bring water purifiers just about anywhere. His joy for his mission is inspiring. One wish? That the plane had more fuel range. Part of the home makeover extends to the airplane as well.

Watching this family is nothing less than spectacular. I crave to raise a family as concerned for others as theirs. Please watch this episode and check out Air Mobile. Oh. Did I forget to mention that Air Mobile is a faith based organization? It’s not mentioned in the show–whether by design of the family or of the editors who knows or cares? They always directed the focus to the people in need and what can be done. The Hurstons are an awesome example of the love of Christ.

God bless the Hurston family in their continuing mission, safe travels, and the growth of their influence.


Morning by morning new mercies I see

Bedtime prayers can be a fun time or a nervous time for our family–depending on our family’s behavior that day. I think the kids think its some sort of time of reckoning where we have to confess how horrible we’ve all been that day then feel awful and try to get to sleep. Well, part of that is right.

Tonight, obedience and kindness were optional in the minds of the children which resulted in stressful bedtime prep. On these kinds of nights, if I’m leading the prayers I really try not to make the prayer a sermon. “Dear God, forgive us for the awful way we treated each other. We know you want us to love each other and obey our parents…” And then I think how much I suck because I disobey God just like they disobey me. Drat. So its one massive confession for everyone. However on these bad days, I also like to throw in a bit about getting to start over tomorrow and thank God that every morning we start fresh. From the book of Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lam 3:22-23. I can almost feel a little relief and attitude adjustment come over the kids(and me too). Their hearts seem lighter on the way to bed than when they came to prayer time, and we get a chance to slow down and restore some broken relationships.

A principle I want to sear into their hearts is that they are not to carry their shame. Sin done. Sin confessed. Sin forgiven. Move on. This is one of the things I get right as a mom. Lots of mess ups elsewhere but I never want them to wallow in their sin. Feel it? Yes. Mourn over it? Yes. But to wallow when Jesus suffered so much for our freedom is just insulting. It only took me about 39 years to get that figured out. I’d like them to use their time more wisely than I did.

Siblings of the Second Chance

I’m sure I’m nowhere near alone in the “I’m-so-sick-of-my-kids-bickering-with-each-other” parental lament. We’ve talked and prayed with them about showing respect for one another, loving each other like Jesus loves us, showing kindness, letting things go. But, as my 5 11/12 daughter would say, “Nada. Zip. Zilch.” No progress. We have 3 children 9, 7 1/2, 5 11/12 and at any given time an argument will begin over who gets to go first, how we should play our game, who cheated at Rock/Paper/Scissors to determine who gets to go first and most recently, who pressed “A” on the Wii controller before passing it to the next player. Oops. Forgot the favorite: he’s/she’s looking at me!

Had a thought run through my head listening to our pastor talking about families this weekend. We are in a series “People Of The Second Chance“. Giving radical grace. It hit me that my kids give little grace within our family–including to mom and dad. When there is an offense and subsequent apology, they are usually fast to forgive and move on. But in day to day treatment, they use a contemptuous tone of voice with harsh words and are quick to point out faults. I know how to deal with that towards mom and dad. Its a big “oh no you didn’t.” But how can we teach them how to treat each other when all else seems to be failing?

I want them to be siblings of the second chance–giving radical grace to their brother and sister(s). But how to instruct? First thought is a family meeting. Usually when we have one of those sit downs, its because a HUGE shift needs to be made in our home. Perhaps that will get their attention. I want them to hear:

  • That everyone makes mistakes.
  • Not everyone knows how to play every game or can discern the system you have developed.
  • Think the best of your brother or sister.
  • You may not testify to a crime you have not personally witnessed.
  • Show courtesy.
  • Know what is your business and what is mom and dad’s to correct and instruct. Accept that, no, you really aren’t the boss of your siblings.

God gave us to each other as a family. We are a team. This home is to be a safe place. We have each others’ backs. As Michael Corleone would say, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family. Ever.” Does anyone have a way to communicate these things at home so children will understand? I don’t think a lecture will necessarily cut it but it may have to begin that way.

The Workings of Child Minds

Well at least OUR children’s minds. They had a lot to say today. Here are a few excerpts:

I asked the kids what was I going to do all day when Annaliese entered 1st grade? Answers: “You could do whatever you want” “You could do something for yourself” “You could do whatever you want and not have to yell at any kids”

Dinner discussion: Maddie thought a solar powered car would be cool so we’d never need gas stations. JD wondered how it would run on rainy days. We challenged them to solve that problem. I believe a robot was involved in one scenario. We were trying to see if they’d get to the idea of a battery so we kept prompting, “well, how do your toys work?” They thought the idea of a battery in a car was the coolest thing ever. Even more if the battery was filled with solar energy(mom & dad’s idea). JD’s eyes about popped out of his head. “That would be awesome!”

I love when their minds get going. During that time, they also devised plans for squirrel traps to keep squirrels away from a bird feeder. Again, a robot was mentioned and several remote control contraptions combined with Nerf guns and a tree branch. The girls wanted the squirrel to fall off the feeder. But not on the hard ground. Annaliese suggested placing a pillow underneath the feeder. Other ideas included a sign “no squirrels allowed” until Maddie asked if squirrels could read. Hearing that they can’t, she thought maybe a picture of a squirrel’s face with a circle and line drawn through would do the trick. Genius. JD even sketched out a few trap designs in his new Spiderman notepad with the 3-D cover and the mechanical pencil that has this cool cap that goes over the eraser.

Ninety minutes before bed: Maddie began developing a color scheme for the bird feeder she and Daddy just built as she applied primer to it. JD swept the kitchen floor and Annaliese helped him dust the living room and whatever she felt like touching–all while singing and dancing to a few “Kidz Bop” CDs in her Snow White dress. JD gave the girls yo-yo lessons(quite peacefully actually), they planned who would play which instrument and who would conduct at their next concert which I think is Sunday, got pjs on, brushed their teeth and said prayers. Not a peep out of them since they hit the pillow.

Three Girls and a Mall

I took Maddie and Annaliese to The Disney Store in the mall to get a present for a friend. I secretly brought their wad of birthday money in case they saw something. It was like watching Michael Jackson shopping in Vegas during the Bashir interview “I’ll take one of those, and one of those, and some of these”. BOGO stuffed animals; 75% off sunglasses; 40% off Ariel shoes for Annaliese; 50% off Tinkerbell Fairies collection for Maddie. It was dizzying. It was a dangerous position to put myself in. Cash. Girls. Store. SALE. But I showed restraint and reined them in as well.

For instance, I know Maddie and Annaliese have had their eyes on certain toys for awhile. So, when they saw something new, I reminded them of what they’ve been wanting and gave them a choice between that or the new thing. For Annaliese, it’s an addiction to stuffed animals which she names right there in the store. For Maddie, it is an Island Princess Barbie Karaoke Styling Head. Yeah, I know. She saw it at Toys R Us after Christmas on clearance but we just couldn’t get it then. Over the next six months, she would talk about it as a prospective birthday present or chore money purchase. Now she had her birthday money. It was time. Once the girls paid for their loot, we rode an escalator down then back up, watched a fountain and threw in a few pennies. Then off to Toys R Us with a mission.

No way this thing is still there. I’d never seen it advertised and Island Princess Barbie is SO 2007. I’m not kidding she ran through the store to get to the display. Of course it wasn’t there so we went to the Barbie aisle. Thumbelina Barbie’s were 50% off. Score! Um, except Island Princess Barbie Karaoke Styling Head was on the opposite shelf. Just sitting there. Unpriced. Squeals and jumping up and down and clapping(both girls). Annaliese was so happy for Maddie. They may have hugged. I didn’t see. Now the other issue–price. Off to find a scanner. Meanwhile, IT’S in the cart, growing attached. I was so afraid she wouldn’t have enough money left. On top of her previous spree, she’d promised JD a new light saber(green) since he didn’t have his own birthday money yet.  Found the scanner. Scanned. Why didn’t I bring the TUMS? One second, the beep. 40% off. 

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

This was either God’s reward for her generosity and patience, or a searing of her woman’s heart with the thrill of the Bargain Find!

In either case, she is enjoying the thrill of finally getting what you wanted after waiting, working and planning for it. She doesn’t know she’s learning but we have a good memory to build on. Heck of a day with a couple of girls at the mall don’t you think?

New Brother In Law News

Hey gang. Two years ago, my brother-in-law  Joe, had triple bypass surgery on his heart after years of wrecking his body with smoking and eating. The surgery was successful and his recovery remarkable. He quit smoking, radically changed his diet and continued some natural remedies(supplements, etc). He is diabetic and has had a setback here and there since.

Have I told you about my family’s communication system? It goes something like this: “Did I tell you that…” or “I thought Dad was going to call you.” I found out my sister had a baby about two weeks after he was born.  So here is the latest in “Did anyone tell you…” from my family.

Joe needs a kidney transplant. I guess they have been researching this process since January. He has a large family and a couple of siblings are “perfect” matches. Even my sister is a match. He has some weight to lose first as he gained back a bit these last two years. Dialysis isn’t being considered at this point although a fistula was created in March in case he becomes critically ill quickly and forced to use dialysis. Could definitely use some prayers for expediency and success. Thanks.

Happy Birthday Maddie!


June 8, 2001, our first daughter Madeline was born. She made quite an entrance and has continued to entertain these last 8 years. We celebrated one day early as Doug will be going to class tomorrow night. Long day. Scrambled to get things done but in the end, success. “Mom, all the presents I got was everything I always wanted. Especially the 3D chalk.” So that made me feel good.

Usually, the kids tell me what picture they want on their cake and what themed partyware they would like. Staying true to the day she was born, Maddie knew exactly what she wanted and who to tell about it. “Mom, on my cake, I want a ballerina dancer in a blue dress and a picture of me next to her. And I would like a great pegasus for my plates. The dancer should be holding my hand and flying on a pegasus.” OK, I like to accommodate but I had to draw the line. There would be no pegasus on the cake. Not enough room for two dancers, a happy birthday greeting and a pegasus. And I don’t have that kind of cake talent. In lieu of the non-existent pegasus plates, I found Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. There’s GOT to be a pegasus in that movie. I ended up cutting out 3 dancer figures from an accessory on clearance and stood them in the cake. Phew, Maddie thought that was cool. Just hate to disappoint.

Wow, 8 years. And in that time…2 more kids, 2 new-to-us vehicles, 1 job, then 2, then 1, a Master’s degree, a stint with ESPN, loss of two grandparents, 2 friends & 2 neighbors, gain of 2 cousins and 2 2nd cousins, a few hospital stays, family crises and recovery, some money then none, terrorism, war, lost baby teeth, found grown up teeth. Looking at the world, 8 years seems so long. Looking at her, 8 years is a blink and a breath. Thanking God for keeping our family safe and healthy and proportionately dysfunctional in the best of ways.