Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dreaming and Imagination

I remember being a little girl, and my favorite place to be was in my imagination. I loved to dream up stories I was in. I would clean out my parents entire garage and reorganize it as my store. I would imagine that I had lost my entire family and I had to make it on my own. How would I survive, eat, live, etc.

I would turn my parents entire basement into a restaurant and I was the gourmet cook. I would set up tables decked out with the silver and all. I would play for hours by myself or with my best friend. I loved to dream and imagine all sorts of stories, and I lead character in them all. In my dreams I was courageous, heroic, brave, and I could do anything I wanted to. I truly believed I could change the world.

I see this ability to dream in my children. I watch them dress up as super hero's and try to save me from the bad guy. Their stories might be different, but the ability to dream and live in your imagination is priceless. I believe it fuels a desire in us to make things right. To want a better place, and figure out how to create it. It allows us space to be different people and figure out depth of character we posses. How brave am I really? Can I be this courageous in real life? I want to be this kind of hero!

Recently I introduced my boys to the older movie I grew up with, "Newsies". I have to confess, I thought the plot was great, the dancing inspiring, but mainly I just wanted to see Christian Bale in my living room, over and over and over again.

I LOVE this movie. And now my boys have this wonderful admiration for it. It started with listening to some of the music of in the car off a mixed CD my friend made me. They want to listen to it over and over. Then I told them about the movie and it became one of our Friday night family movie selections. They loved it. They couldn't stop watching it.

They have seen it a couple times now and for the past two days, my son Caleb has been dressed up all in black, sporting his cowboy hat, and wearing a red bandanna tied around his neck. He is Jack Kelly, and you should address him as so. I am Jack's mom. Noah really wanted to be the toughest guys in NY, Spot Collins, except we don't own a light plaid shirt or red suspenders. I told him after our Doctor appointment today we would go to the thrift store and see what we could find.

I couldn't promise we would find anything, red suspenders seem like a pretty hard item to find, but I said we would try.

We started navigating our way through the isles and isles of cast off clothing, furniture, toys and general goodies that thrift stores have. Noah politely asked every worker he saw to point us in the direction of the suspenders, he really needed to be Spot Collins and we were looking for his red suspenders. It was amazing watching his nervousness, and excitement of transforming himself into his hero.

I kept thinking to myself, what am I going to do when we don't find any? Can I paint black ones? Can I add red ribbon to them? How can I help him know that even just black suspenders would be OK?

Then low and behold, I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought I was dreaming. But there they were.

Red suspenders!

We all got excited and shouted in the store, and I grabbed them and quickly starting adjusting them to fit. He looked at me, and said, "Mom you are the best mom in the whole world!" (he has also told me he wants a different mom when he disagrees with the rules, so I don't put all of my stock in these passing statements.)

It was really amazing in that moment to help make my kid's dream come true. To be his helper in creating in his imagination what a hero looks like.

See the boys had lots of questions about what Newsies did, and why they were fighting the men in suits. We had conversations about how the Newsies worked for the men in suits and the men in suits started to steal money from the boys. The boys know that this is wrong, and they decide that together they can stand up for what is right and fight against what is wrong. That together they can stand for justice, and in their stand against evil, they win.

This is who my boys are pretending to be right now. Kids who stand up against what is wrong and evil. They are pretending to fight for good and be boys of courage and bravery.

And hopefully somewhere in their hearts and minds, I pray that they feel the same way I did. That hopefully in their real life, they can be as brave and courageous as they pretend to be. That they will be inspired by their imagination to stand up for what is right.

Today in my own little world, I made a little kids dream come true. When they watched the song, "The world will know" on YouTube this afternoon, to make sure their costumes were right, Caleb shouted out as Jack Kelly started to climb the ladder, "Look Noah that's me! That's me! There I am!"

Here's our wonderful $6 find today from the Thrift store. $6 and his whole world changed.

Jack Kelly and Spot Collins

Spot Collins stands proud in his red suspenders.

I hope you are able to do a little dreaming yourself today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Update on Noah

I realize that many of you read my blog about our experience with Noah and his drastic mood swings and vitamin intake. I thought I would give a little update. We don't go back to the Wellness Center until May 10, but I can confidently say that there is a huge difference in my son. On Easter, my friend Lindsey who had thought it might be a vitamin deficiency, looked at Noah and said, "its good to have you back." Even she could tell he was different.

I will say it again. Noah is a passionate, emotional kid who feels a lot for people. He is also strong willed and stubborn. He will still fight me on issues, but it isn't a 45 minute screaming match battle. My other son isn't putting his hands over his ears anymore. Noah would stand his ground on such random issues when he was angry before. And his anger took over his body and turned to rage. You could see it controlling him, and it scared me.

This doesn't happen anymore. I can always see my son in his eyes. When I say something he doesn't like or doesn't approve of, he will look at me and question me. We will discuss it, and then he will say, "I don't like mom, but I'll do it."

A complete 180. He has been on Zinc and fish oil, plus a multivitamin. That's it, and already he has control again over his body. We haven't had a temper tantrum in more than a week. I almost forgot that we were having multiple episodes each day. Life is now filled with more joy, and normal sibling rivalry.

I will continue to post as things progress. You can count on me posting after our appointment on May 10.

I would like to remind you as well, that I don't consider this a fix it all kind of thing. Other parents have found other avenues to help their children, this is just what is helping ours. (And we aren't done, there is still more to be learned.) People and their bodies are complex. There are wiring issues, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc. Each parent needs to really truly look at their child, pay attention and walk this road with their child to find answers for their family. And parents need to talk to one another, be honest about what is going on at home, to see if other families struggle in the same way. And pray. Prayer is key to allowing God to speak truth into your heart and ears about what is going on with your child. Remember, he created them, he knows more than anyone what they need. Thank you for walking this journey with us.

Rainy day Castle

It was a rainy day today and for over a year now I have been casually saving cereal boxes and cracker boxes for just such an occasion.

We are going to build a fort, or a castle, or something awesome!

We have gathered over 100 boxes, and ended up creating King Arthur’s castle.

I’ve had this idea for some time now, and I never told kids I was gathering the boxes, I just was. I had expectations and an ideal in my mind. When you have expectations, you learn a lot. This is what I learned.

The goal is not the castle or fort. The goal is a really fun experience with your kids. While we were taping boxes, I used the opportunity to ask the kids all sorts of questions about what we were creating. They would hand me boxes, I would tape them shut, and we piled them high. We talked about creating a castle in dinosaur time, in the desert, in the rain forest. Who is the king, what are we doing in the castle, etc. It was a great 45 min of really creative imaginative time.

After we tapped all the boxes back together, Noah’s specific job was making sure we had fun music to listen to. The the boy’s job was to hand me the right size box. They were in charge of creating the shape of the castle, which included a special chair section and bed. And so we tapped the castle together. It was a lot of fun.

I should preface this with the fact that this castle was not the kid’s idea. It was mine. So I couldn’t have expectations that they would love it or want to play in it. For them to love the fort was a gamble.

After the castle was built, the boys had lunch in it. The castle was fun with sheets on top, but not very sturdy, so we eventually had to take the sheets/roof off. I think the boys thought it wasn’t quite as much fun without the roof. They were ready to take it down after about an hour after lunch.

I had to keep reminding myself, the goal was to have an experience with the kids. The goal was not the creation. They were really excited to destroy it, and so continued our experience. They had fun ripping the whole thing apart.

So this morning while it rained, we dreamed up our imagination kingdom, built a castle, and dinosaurs destroyed it before nap time. It was lot of fun.

The other really great part about this project was it is a really creative way to reuse our materials before we recycle them. We talked about that as a family on earth day, and today we got to get creative with our reusing abilities. Go green or go home right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Project: Birthday Party!

I love birthdays. I think celebrating someone’s life is one of the greatest gifts ever. In my house growing up, birthdays were always a big deal. You felt loved and celebrated. I love passing this appreciation onto our kids.

We try very hard to live our lives for other people, but I never want my kids to go unnoticed or grow up feeling celebrated of the person God created them to be. The fact they are alive is a reason to celebrate.

This weekend my middle one turned 4. He requested a Batman party. His little sister turns 1 on Thursday so we combined parties…Batman meets Care bears. Yeah that’s right. Superheros unite. One that gets power from rainbows and the other by all the toys money can buy.

We had intended to play outside, but with cold and rainy weather, we invited 34 people into our little home. It was crowded and cozy and full of love.

We played “Pin the bat on Batman”, then we corralled all 15 kids into the Batcave (the kids bedroom) to read “The Care bears Easter Egg Hunt” while the adults hid all the eggs. We told the kids that The Penguin, one of Batman’s enemies had taken all their Easter eggs and they had to go get them back. My husband played the role of Penguin, (he likes doing those things) and all the kids took their freshly colored Easter bags and went hunting to save the eggs. (FYI, Penquin sports a suit and so does Bruce Waynes butler. Paul was a butler for the first half and then transformed into the evil villan. If you have a tux, might as well use it.) After the games we had a yummy lunch and then dove into cake and ice cream. Once the kids were sugared up, Caleb enjoyed opening his presents to which he got so many things he loved and wanted.

After all the kids went home, more adults showed up to celebrate and we cracked open the good cheese, hummus, coffee and liqueur. It was a splendid afternoon finished with coloring Easter eggs.

I love parties. I love gathering people I love and eating good food, listening to music and enjoying each others company. I enjoy the process of making food that my friends would enjoy to treat them to something nice and wonderful. The people that gathered for Caleb and Eleanor’s birthday are people we love and enjoy doing life with. As much as want to celebrate Caleb’s life, these people are a part of that, and in turn part of the celebration. We want to say Thank you to all of you who showed up.

Thank you for loving us, for walking with us through life, for investing in us and praying for us. We couldn’t survive without you.

And to my mom and dad, this party would not have happened without you. Thank you for all your help and love.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Pieta

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It’s beautiful. All I can do is stare.

I stand there in Rome right in front of Michelangelo’s Pieta, his depiction of the moment they peel Christ’s body from the cross and lay it in his mother’s arms. A mother holding her dead son, her murdered son. She watched him suffer, she watched them beat him, and she watched him die. She saw the crown of thorns wedged into his skull and his flesh hanging on his bones. All I can do is stare.

I reflected on Christ’s sacrifice and offering of His life for me. Staring at the pieta and thinking of His death made my whole body ache. My heart was overwhelmed and breaking for what he had done for me. Was I worth it and why did he love me so, so much?

And that’s when it hit me. All I wanted to do was throw my arms around Him. I wanted to cling, hug, hold tight and never let go. I was full of thankfulness, gratefulness, and love.

Why isn’t she holding him? He’s just laying there draped on her lap and she isn’t even holding him? When my kid bleeds from banging their head, or knee or elbow, I hold them tight to help make the pain go away. My arms are instantly around my child to help heal and make it right. To show love and compassion.

Michelangelo decided to depict this treasured moment between mother and son in a very specific way. I was struck by my controlling response. She’s not holding him, she’s not gripping him trying to make the pain go away.

When we meet Mary, she is visited by an angel to declare her the mother of Christ because she is faithful. Her response to one of the hardest jobs of all time is “If this is what the Lord wants from me, then I will do it.” A woman of incredible faith which means trust. She trust God almighty to be who He is. She trust God almighty to have a plan. She trust that God knows more, loves more, and sees more than she can. She can trust that even though she doesn’t understand, God does. She trusts him.

Because I am a control freak, trust, yes even trust in God, is very hard for me. It is one of my greatest struggles in my relationship with Him.

So my response to Christ’s suffering is to cling and make the pain the go away. I want or have to do something. In this image, I see a woman who trusts that God has a plan. A son she bore, but was never really hers, Christ belonged to the world from the beginning, and He had a very special plan. She doesn’t make the pain go away because she knows that God is doing something rare and special in that moment. She lets go of her control and knows that her son belongs to all people in that moment.

She trusts God to be enough for her. She trusts God to know better.

I want to be more like her.

To this day, the Pieta remains my favorite piece of created art, both visually and spiritually.

Have a blessed Easter weekend.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Project Martha

The last few days the story of Mary and Martha have been on my mind. The story that celebrates Mary for sitting at our Master’s feet and giving him all her time and attention.

In my current state of life, this story just makes me feel like crap. I have a picture of how ideal this looks. Time to sit, listen, invest, listen, hear, think, listen, be in an uninhibited relationship with Christ where nothing else matters. Honestly, as a mother of three small children and running a household, this seems nearly impossible for most of my day when my kids are awake. I force myself to take time before they are up and moving non-stop, and after they are in bed, I collapse in exhaustion. I get it; if I don’t have time to spend with God, then I am doing too much. I must force myself to correct my priorities for my faith and relationship with God to thrive.

Be Mary.

However, my family needs to eat. They need clothes to wear. My daughter will continue to eat food off the floor from last week if I don’t clean. Diapers don’t change themselves. Kids don’t wipe themselves till their older. Dishes don’t wash themselves. Children don’t discipline themselves. Food doesn’t grow without some attention. Bills need to get paid, food needs to be bought, you know the drill. The list goes on and on. There are necessary daily living tasks that you absolutely have to attend to.

It’s called living.

So how do you balance it all? Balancing the Mary with the Martha.

Yesterday I was preparing for my son and daughter’s birthday party, while at the same time trying to also get the guest room ready for my parents visit. The list of things to accomplish was at an all time high. In one day, I went to Rainbow for double coupon day, Walgreens because I had free Walgreen money, Cub for the Leg of Lamb for Easter, Target for a new shower curtain liner (ours was going to walk away by itself soon), the bank, and Aldi for cheap strawberries to make homemade ice cream for the party. It was a crazy day. And the kids were with me. So we made up lots of songs. We played lots of car games. I gave them each an item to remember in the store and that was their job.

Then when we got home, each kid got to make something special with me in the kitchen to prepare for the party. It was amazing time with each kid. Noah got to cut up all the strawberries while I made hummus. We talked about the day. We laughed and told jokes. We were discussing Easter and all sorts of great questions about the Bible and death. Caleb and I did the same thing while we made bean dip.

So how do you balance Mary and Martha?

For me in life right now, it’s fighting for the Mary moments, but more than anything I want to bring Mary into the Martha moments of living life. Life responsibilities have to happen, but I can focus on relationships while I work.

I believe that when it comes down to it, I believe God cares most about our relationship with him. Are we looking for him, including him, loving him, trying to please him? Do we care about what he thinks and search him for truth and power? He longs for a relationship with us. The relationship is the key. Cooking in the kitchen with each of my boys separately deepened my relationship with them and the Lord. We got intentional time and it was a project we got to do together. Time spent investing in one another. Maybe not direct time with the Creator, but time with his beloved created, my kids. Spending time with His creation is a form of spending time with Him. And that’s what it’s about right? Deepening the relationship. Creating space for love. Making memories. Tightening our bond.

Love. It's about love in relationship.

My Martha responsibilities created the space for our Mary moments yesterday and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Suit

This is my son Caleb who turns four this Saturday. This is his ultra sweet vintage suit that I purchased for him at Via’s Vintage in Uptown Mpls. It was 50% off and I have no idea why. I think this suit looks AAAAAmazing on my kid. And the best part is…he loves it!

Now the suit has been the source of the some discussion amongst friends. Some think I am being cruel by making him wear the suit. Others love that I found it and that he wears it. I can guarantee that whenever he wears it, there are only jealous, approving, prop calling nods thrown in our direction. Everyone loves the suit.

The friends in the camp of child cruelty look forward to when he sees pictures of himself at High School graduation and he is embarrassed that he not only owned but sported the plaid suit. That it will cause tension in our relationship because although he may love it now, I should know better and not force him to wear it. This will be his argument when he is older, allowing him to distribute all of his growing up issues on me. I should have known better.

Maybe I should, but I just can’t help myself.

The deal in our house, is that although there are times where certain clothes need to be worn, my kids get to pick what they want to wear. (The only clothes allowed in our house are appropriate ones, expect when Noah tries wearing Caleb’s clothes and then they are inappropriately tight.) I don’t want to fight over clothes. I enjoy the freedom of choosing what I want to wear, what I feel like wearing, what I believe matches and goes well together in an outfit. Sure, I have made mistakes. Some pretty legendary ones that should remain secret in High School, but I want my kids to have that freedom.

Be a storm trooper today. Just own it! Want to make a super hero out of all of your orange clothes and a cape, go for it. You think all camouflage matches, well I can argue with you, but you can wear it, until you’re about 9 then we have to talk. For all the things that we correct in our house and expect out of our children, I want to give them this freedom.

So, for those of you who know me and my family, you can guarantee that I did not, nor have I ever forced my son into wearing this suit. He LOVES it! Which I love because I think it’s an awesome suit. I do have to confess that when I brought it home, I said, “Look Caleb, I found you a Bruce Wayne suit!” That may have been a bit a manipulative, and for that I have sought forgiveness. But he sure does love his suit.

And I am confident that when he looks back at photo’s of himself in this suit, he is going to look at me and say, “Mom, I love you. I think you are best for buying me that suit. It has always been my favorite, and I wish it came in my size today. It was so awesome! Could you make me one?” At that, I will most likely have to say no, but I’ll think about it.

Disclaimer: Caleb choose to wear this to church on Sunday. My husband is the one who made him act and dance like a game show host. Now that might be child cruelty.

Monday, April 18, 2011

project homeless shelter

Today my family and I got to volunteer at Mary’s Place in downtown Mpls. Mary’s place is transitional housing apartments connected to Sharing and Caring Hands, the largest center responding to the needs of the poor in the Twin Cities.

I have been convicted by how much I talk about how important serving and loving other people in different circumstances than our own is, and yet I don’t see myself and my kids doing it all that much. I want our life to be lived in responding to the needs of the others. It is a priority of our family, and yet, it has slipped through the cracks of daily living with small kids and all the management that goes along with that.

So, today we embarked in playing with the kids in the after school program over at Mary’s place. There is roughly two nuns who play and look after anywhere between 20-30 kids each day. It is a great center, with lots of really wonderful things to play with, but again, only two adults for that many kids. That many accidents. That many arguments. That many bathroom needs. That many emotional needs. It’s a lot.

So they love having volunteers come in and spend time with the kids. Play with them, hang out with them, do activities with them. And that is what my friend Tabitha and I did. We each brought our own three kids and added to the chaos. It was amazing.

I had great conversations with Zoe about life and her seven brothers and sisters. I played on the playscape with a little boy named Dream. Yeah, that’s right, his name is dream. My Noah got a good start on learning on how to ride a two wheeler. Lulu discovered how much she loves the slide, and all the little girls discovered how much they like having a baby around. The nuns were wonderful and so fun and sweet to visit with.

As we were getting ready to leave I was struck by my normal rhythm of investing in people. I am usually the gal who comes into an event or place, or camp or church and gets to hang out for the night or the weekend. We have an amazing time, and then I go home. The youth directors, pastors and parents are there for the long haul. Not me. I go home. Sure there is Facebook and emails to keep in touch, but the real investing is left to those who live in that place. But here I am in this place getting to know these kids, their names and what their life is like. I live roughly less than two miles from them. They want to know when I’m coming back. My kids want to go back. Everyone involved wants to build a relationship and keep this going.

I was reminded that in its truest form, that is what living like Christ is all about. It’s about the relationship and investing in people. It’s about showing up and being there. It also mandates that it’s authentic and not duplicated in a program type relationship. One that would say I have to be here, but instead communicates that I want to be here.

So we either go once to Mary’s place and my kids can remember that one time that we played with those homeless kids. In this scenario, it very much reflects a program that I would do for my kids to teach them about loving and serving others.


We continue our relationship with Dream, Nikki, Zoe, and the others. We invest in them. Get to know them. Keep showing up and communicate that we are people who care. People who want to know them for who they are. Love them where they are at. Then it isn’t a program, its apart of life. Getting to know people in a different situation and building relationships with them is a part of life. It’s living a life of a Christian. It’s being involved in relationships.

I was thankful today for the reminder that my ministry often lacks the depth that I pray for. And in this revelation, I have a place and some new friends to invest in. To love and walk through life with in an authentic and real way. God is going to do something for them, for me and for my children in these new relationships. He always does.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

This is my favorite week in the whole year. This morning in my devotion time (which is never long enough and it seems my kids always know I'm in devotion time because they always wake up a little earlier when I have woken up earlier to devote) I was reading the story of the Triumphant entry in Mark.

A couple years ago I was chatting with a friend of mine who told me that the Triumphant entry marks the week of inspection. On Sunday night/Monday morning was when the High Priest would march the sacrificial lamb into Jerusalem for inspection. The reason so many were gathered in Jerusalem was because the Imperial parade was happening on Sunday in preparation for Passover and the gathering of all the Jews. Pilot and all the soldiers were expected to come in from the west, riding horses in sign of power and coming from the direction of Rome, as a reminder to all the Israelites that even though they have been freed from Egypt, they were still under the authority of Rome. The Imperial guard would then camp out around the temple in preparation to keep riots from happening among the Jews.

Then here comes Jesus, riding in from the East on a donkey, a sign of peace and predicted in Zac. 9:9. He comes in from the East where all the poor are gathered and live. He himself is the sacrifice, offering himself up to be inspected and judged, and to challenge anyone to find fault within him. What is great about that is simply just by offering himself up to be inspected is a sign that he proclaims to be the Messiah. This claim and offering in the end is the fault they find in him.

I love Holy week. The constant reminder of YWYH's power and intention to bring redemption, healing, love, forgiveness. It's so beautiful.

(Zec. 9:9, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19, Psalm 118:26)

Two years ago when we were in church, the song "God of this city" by Chris Tomlin was sung. It was beautiful, because even though it wasn't written for Palm Sunday, its a perfect fit.

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our god
There is no one like our God

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Its a look to Holy Week. Greater things are coming. May you be blessed this week and find some extra time to spend time with YWYH. If you get a chance today, try to listen to this song in some great quiet reflection time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

a brief reminder

Tonight I got the opportunity to speak to Seniors in High School and their parents at a dinner in a church in Eden Prairie. It's fun to talk with students who are on the brink of the rest of their lives.

Through all the advice people gave me, I realized that one of the most important things to remember is;

Who do you belong to? Who are you?

See our identity can be shaped by so many different factors; where you live, how much money your family makes, marital status, activities that you participate in, music, friends, mistakes, awards, accomplishments, etc. These things may be part of what you do, but they are not who you are.

When embarking on new adventures, making decisions about life, or just living every day, its important to remember who you belong to. In John chapter 3 it tells us that we are children of God. No matter what else happens in a moment, in a day, in a week, or in our past and present, those things help create what we are, not who we are. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you breath because God made it so. You were created by him, and you belong to him.

There is peace in knowing this and being able to make decisions in life. When my identity is clear, I make life decisions based on the truth, and not on a lie of what I think I am and who I'm striving to be. I don't need to strive to be anybody, I already know who I am.

Speaking this truth to H.S. students was a great reminder to me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Journey through vitamins and whatnot

Tuesday was a marathon day for me. Not literally, I don’t do marathons, but it was the never ending day, leading into another exceptionally long day on Wednesday. A lot has happened in my small little world, so I might have a lot of words. Please be patient with me.

I posted before describing our world with Noah, my eldest who will turn six in Sept. Noah is a very sweet boy. He has a big heart for people, he is concerned with others when they are sick or left out. He is the star host when you come to our house, always trying to think of your needs before you have them. He will sit and color for hours. The only other thing that would tear him away is reading. He can sit and read book after book after book. He is also very busy. He doesn’t walk anywhere, he runs, he climbs he is falling down every other minute. He loves being busy, wrestling, biking, dancing, cooking, gardening, battling. All of these things are very normal. However, I like to describe Noah as getting all of my emotion (which is a lot) and all of Paul’s sensitivity (which is a lot). The poor kid got a double whammy. He unfortunately got mine and Paul’s side of the family’s temper as well. He has passionate, intense, strong willed parents. He is all of those things from both of us. I just kind of feel bad for him. Someone described kids like that as world changers. I am choosing to raise him as such.

Last year, I discovered Noah was allergic to artificial food coloring. It makes him rage. Not angry. Rage, violent, scary, eruptive. You could literally look at him and not see Noah inside his eyes. We went with weeks dealing with this behavior, me calling my mom twice a day crying, and lots of praying and reading trying to figure out what was going on. After we cut artificial food coloring out of his diet, it was incredible to see the change. He is still passionate, intense, and strong willed, but its all age appropriate.

Until recently.

Old Noah was back. I describe it as Jackel and Hyde because truly, it’s a switch that gets flipped and I have no idea what the trigger is. I found myself saying a lot of the same things to my mom on the phone. I was crying maybe not twice a day but at least once. I was looking at our schedule, our lifestyle, our disciplines, our family time, our alone time, our food, everything. I really didn’t know what to do. I also want to be clear that my husband and I are far from perfect parents. We are just trying to figure it out like everyone else. After my last post about this, many people gave me great books to read on parenting, and I am excited to read those, but I knew something different was going on with Noah. Loosing sight of him in eyes was my key. He was so filled with rage he couldn’t see straight. That didn’t feel normal to me, so I went with my gut and started researching body imbalances.

Then a friend told me about Wyndgate Health. Her first thought was that Noah might be Vitamin B deficient. She had said that she knew a kid that struggled with anger and anxiety, and they found that his vitamin intake was off. I went on Wyndgate Health’s website and was really pleased with what I saw. At the very least, I had a direction to move in because nothing we were doing was working. The next day I had an appointment for Noah the next week. I was really excited.


I am not educated in what I am about to write.
I am not a nurse nor anyone who knows anything about the body.
I am not stating that I am an expert on this.
I am not saying that there aren’t other ways to fix problems like we are having or that this is the best way.
Our issue doesn’t involve Autism, ADD or ADHD, although Wyndgate Health does help families in those positions. I just understand that those are not situations we are facing.

What you will read is my understanding from Wyndgate health. You will read our story with our son while it’s happening. We are still in the middle of figuring this out. His appointment was on Tuesday. It’s not fixed. I will do my best to communicate what happened on Tues. to the best of my knowledge. If you want to know more about Wyndgate Health, I recommend it and you can find out what they are about and what they treat on their website

What I love about Wyndgate Health is that they take an all natural approach to healing the whole body. They look at family history, symptoms, blood work, and a consultation with the patient. Noah and I dropped off the other kids at a friend’s house and then drove over to St. Paul to meet with Health specialists. They talked with Noah and myself and then gave Noah a physical. The first thing they looked at was his nails. He has white spots on his nails, which is a result of a zinc deficiency which causes hyperactivity. They also noticed that Noah has pink puffiness under his eyes, which is the result of more vitamin deficiency. His throat/glands are swollen to a frightening degree. The purpose of the glands is to trap infection so something is going on that is attacking his body. They also asked if Noah has a hard time sitting still, yes, some times are worse than others. They also asked how Noah goes to sleep. I told them he crashes as soon as his head hits the pillow. Noah also has a hard time walking heel to toe, heel to toe. All of these things alone might not communicate much, but together, his body is trying to tell us something.

They mentioned a potential allergy to wheat or dairy. I had to ask about what feels like a very random spike in so many people being allergic to wheat/gluten. This is where I found out that after World War II, American’s become obsessed with Hybrid plants and making bread fluffier. We want to make new plants out of originals. Well, in order to do make bread fluffier, you have to add 40% more gluten to wheat. 40% is significant, especially when your body isn’t created by God to process it that way. So the reason so many bodies can’t process wheat/gluten anymore is because the product of wheat isn’t the same. We literally aren’t eating the same food that our grandparents did. (There are many great websites that describe this better and with greater research than I am here.)

So at our appointment, we discovered that day that Noah has a zinc and Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency. We also got a full blood work up that will test for deficiencies and allergies. We have an appointment in three weeks to go over the test results, our first consultation, family history and the 13 pages of symptoms and behaviors that I notice in Noah. They gave us fish oil for Noah to take to help increase his brain activity and zinc to help even out his body. If they find other vitamin deficiencies, the goal is to formulate an all natural vitamin that is specific for Noah’s body. They will look at his body levels and find out what he is in need of and what levels he needs them. Then he can take his one multivitamin each day.

What I love about this, is the approach that you are really looking at the body and what it uses to live and exist. I think we can all agree that even healthy people need to take vitamins. There is no way to physically or financially eat all the food that is necessary to keep your nutrient levels where they need to be. This approach sees where the body is lacking most and providing the means to be healthy.

What we hope this does for Noah is take away his anxiety and rash response to things, while also giving him the ability to think when things in his world become tragic. I think about how hard it would be to make and keep friends when your response is so explosive. I can only imagine how difficult school would be when your body is so preoccupied with adjusting itself, that you can concentrate on what the teacher needs from you.

I am hoping we have answers and a plan in three weeks. I want our house to be peaceful. I believe it can be. I want my son to be confident in whom he is. I hate watching him loose himself in anger and rage. I think there is a way to help him, and I hope we found it. Regardless, if this doesn’t work, than we still love our son as much as we ever did, we pray even more for wisdom and continue to seek God for all our answers.

Again, please understand, I just want to share our story as its happening. This is our journey in understanding parenting, our bodies, food, discipline, life, love and sacrifice.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turning life into ministry

So, I have this dream that my children could walk outside and play with all the neighborhood kids. They would play in the warm weather for hours on end right in front of our house. They would explore rocks, bugs, the swing set, imagine they were flying, or detectives, cops and robbers, create races on bikes, play with sidewalk chalk, play basketball, whatever, it doesn't matter. They would be outside in unstructured play time left to create their own adventures and bit of trouble.

Currently that is happening. There are two brothers about my kids age that live five houses down. Then there is another little boy that lives two houses down, and right next door is the gaggle of kids living with their grandma, aunts and uncles. It's really pretty great. They all meet up in the afternoon after school and play and play and play. They primarily play in our yard, because we have a rule that I have to be able to see them. I bring out snacks and drinks. I have also been the mom who brings out band-aids when there are cuts, corrected the way they talk, and settled arguments.

This has all been well and good, until more recently.

Things have felt a little too unstructured. They are getting a bit rowdy and out of hand. There are more arguments. There is more bad language coming into the house. This has led Paul and I to discuss what our life looks like in our neighborhood. How do we let our kids play outside with boundaries, loving others who don't believe what we do, enforce rules without hoovering, play without structure yet keep things controlled, allow them opportunity to stand up for what we believe in without giving into peer pressure?

What does it look like to teach our kids to be a light in our neighborhood without darkness overshadowing them?

Part of my problem is I know what I can do. I even know what I should do. But it's gonna be a lot more work. A lot more time. A lot more attention. And yet, when I look at what it would do for my children and the kids in the neighborhood, I know it is right.

I don't know what the lives are like for the kids on our street. When I have been in the two boys house down the street, I saw immediately the lack of toys and the abundance of video games. Every time dinner is called for in our house, the one little boy down street always asks to eat with us. He doesn't get much food in his house. They like playing in our yard. They like having snacks and talking to me on the porch. They always want to show me their new tricks and skills. And their parents are never outside. I am usually all alone. No other adult can usually be accounted for.

So, I have decided to take a more active role in the afternoon with the kids in my neighborhood. I want to plan a story time once a week. Create a game for the kids to play on another day. I want to get the kids involved in making the snack. I want my kids to buy new sidewalk chalk to share with their friends and we can create a drawing day. Maybe even ask the other parents if we can take an adventure walk with all the kids. We could even do a craft with stuff we find on our walk. Or I can rally the other kids to do a clean up walk with us one afternoon.

Most of the things I've shared probably sound like a small version of VBS, or community action kid summer program. That really isn't my intent. Yes, I want to be more active in my kids live outside with influences that currently seem a little questionable. I want to give my kids freedom to figure out who they are, develop friendships with people in their neighborhood, and learn how to cope when things go wrong. But I also want to be that presence in their life that helps guides them, protects them and reinforces what's right and wrong.

I also understand that our lives, just our everyday mundane existence is to reflect the glory and power of our God. Who we are, how we live, the choices we make. All of that in the every day living experience could point others to know and love God.

We have a great opportunity here. I could get some great cleaning time, blogging time, down time, whatever I want to do time while my kids play outside. But then I'm not really taking an active role in their development and understanding of living as children of God. Plus I could be missing out on really great relationships with these other kids.

See I'm not a big fan of programs. As soon as something authentic and genuine turns into a program so that others can join or recreate it, I don't like it anymore. I don't like our everyday living experiences turning into a program. I just want to live my life. But I do see a great opportunity here to take a more active role in my kids relationships with non-believers in just living our life. In creating a safe place for them to come. To create a time in their day that is filled with a very genuine love. (I do not assume that there isn't love in their homes, I'm just talking about Christ centered love and know they aren't believers.)

I also want to model to my kids how to stand up for boundaries in love. How to love others in Christ without turning them into a project. I don't want these kids to be a project to me. What I truly desire is to help bring a little structure to their hours of free play. To be a strong adult presence that represents a safe place. To help create safe boundaries so all the kids feel safe and the smaller ones don't feel bullied.

So please pray for me as I venture into creating a fun activity for my kids and their friends each afternoon. That I would never turn them into a project, but truly just love them for who they are. That I could help model love and intentionality to my kids. That I could be a healthy presence while leaving the kids to discover their own limits with friends. That this idea isn't totally lame and the kids enjoy spending time with me and each other.

Also if you have some good ideas, please share them! I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

fun kid service project

Today I had two sick kids and we were getting squirrely inside the house, and wanted to be outside, but close to home. Yesterday when I was doing some yard work, I was astounded by the amount of garbage in my yard left after the snow melted. So I decided to take the kids for a walk just down our street and pick up garbage. This was our service project today to love the earth that God has given us and maybe feel a little less ghetto in our hood.

So I loaded up the sickos in the stroller, packed a snack, seven grocery bags, and my oldest on a scooter. Off we went down the street. Just our one block. Down to the corner and back.

We were singing songs, playing eye spy, and getting our hands dirty. It was so much fun! We ended up collecting ALL seven bags full of garbage. The only reason we stopped, is we ran out of room in our bags. I couldn't believe how dirty our street was. They boys loved our activity and time together and we counted the bags as we hurled them into our garbage.

If you are interested in doing this with your kids, which again was really fun, here is what I learned. This will make it more enjoyable for you and for us next time.

1. Pack a snack and water bottles. You never know when they need refocus energy.
2. Bring hand sanitizer.
3. Wash your hands as soon as you return home.
4. Pick a bag for garbage, a bag for glass, and a bag for plastic. Its great that you can recycle too, but you don't want to dig through the garbage twice.
5. The parent gets to grab the garbage in the street, but the kids get a point if they spy it!
6. Make clear rules about what they can't touch; cigarette butts, broken glass, animal droppings, and whatever else you deem full of germs and not worth touching.
7. Give each kid a fun pair of plastic gloves. This is the fun part for them.
8. Bring enough bags, because you never know how much garbage you will find.
9. Have fun!
10. Thank and encourage your kids for taking care of the world around them.
11. Always have a plastic bag with you at this point forward. Now that they notice garbage, they will always want to pick it up!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


So this morning Mike was supposed to come by at 10am. We met Mike yesterday walking down the alley while we were eating lunch outside on the back stoop. Mike is a young dad and living in a shelter downtown, not to far from our house. He was looking for work around people's yards to earn a little extra money to help pay for diapers. He also wondered if he might have a bottle of water.

Recently I have been praying for God to provide opportunities for us to serve the people around us. I heard a wonderful speaker talk about taking your kids gifts and turning them into blessings for others. Allowing them to serve others gives them a purpose, a God given purpose with their life. I have been praying for more wisdom in this area.

All of a sudden, here comes Mike right into our backyard. (we invited him in after he called me madam.) I didn't even have to leave my house, and here was someone who needed us. Needed a little assistance.

Well, we were getting ready for nap time and right after that was swim lessons, so I couldn't use his help yesterday, but I asked if he could come back tomorrow. He promised he would. That he wanted to earn his money, however he did some money for diapers today. I had just pulled cash for our groceries that day. I haven't done this in months, and this was my attempt to get us back on good financial ground. Funny how I would have cash this day, where truly, I never cash. I went in and got him $10 and instead of a disposable water bottle, I gave him a real one. If you're gonna spend your days out walking all the time looking for work, than you could use a real water bottle.

We introduced ourselves and my kids were really excited to see Mike today.

He didn't show.

We went outside and started doing yard work and we waited. The kids kept asking where he was. I said I wasn't sure. But either these two things happened:

1. I totally got played. (My husband would agree with this statement.) Some kid walking around looking for money, now he has a water bottle and $10 extra in his pocket. He's probably laughing at the stupid lady who was dumb enough to fall for his trick.


2. Something happened to Mike that kept him from coming. Someone stole the money I gave him. He got another or better job offer for this morning. His kid is sick and he couldn't leave him. He got sick. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got into trouble. Couldn't find extra money for the bus.

I don't know. But you know what, the truth of what really happened doesn't matter. How I think it happened matters. If I believe I got played, than my trust in strangers and humankind in general will be jaded. I will be put off. My heart will be hardened. I will always judge and think the worst of strangers. I won't be able to trust anyone, thus leaving me full of anger and resement.

If I believe that Mike was ligit and something did really happened to him. Then my heart is softened. I pray for Mike. My kids pray for Mike. I start looking for opportunities to help others like Mike. My heart remains open to the opportunities that God puts in front of me. Literally. I can still have hope in mankind and God's ability to love all people.

See the reality is, it was only $10. Big deal. I have been blessed so much by the kindness of family and friends, that the least I can do is offer up $10. Because $10means something to Mike, but it also means something to me. It makes sure I am aware of people around me. It makes sure I continue to pass the blessing on.

I really don't care if I'm being laughed at by Mike and his friends. I am kind of bummed if I got played. But mostly, I hope nothing bad happened to Mike. I was looking forward to getting to know him. To hear his story and what happened that landed him at the homeless shelter. I'm mostly sad about the potential of meeting a new friend and expanding our ministry.

Lord, wherever he is, I pray that Mike encounters you and you move him from the place he's in, to a place of peace and healing and hope.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The whole picture

I can tell that something is wrong. My oldest isn't behaving like himself. He is more intense, angry, full of rage, anxious and over protective of things. It isn't always, and I have yet to figure out what the switch is, but somehow out of nowhere, the switch gets flipped, and out goes my sweet and funny five year old, replaced by some very angry kid I don't know very well, and don't know what to do with.

This has been going on a few weeks, and truthfully I haven't any energy left for anything else. We pray, we try to stay calm, we talk, we punish, we are trying everything, and we are exhausted. When signs like this started happening a year ago, we discovered that our oldest was sensitive to artificial food coloring. It is completely out of our house now. However, my phone conversations with my mother are really starting to sound the same. He's angry and I don't know what to do. He is full of rage, and I can't take anymore.

My husband and I are looking into all sorts of options and reasons for the change in our son. There is a theory of the half year. That kids struggle more during their half year because there isn't as much attention on how big and old you are getting. They are out of whack. There is also the struggle of starting school soon. They know change is coming, they want it but don't know how to process that. There is a tight schedule for kids and in the opposite corner, the idea that kids should be free to be bored and use their imagination. There was the parents crazy schedule, but we have settled down. Then there is looking at the food you are putting into your body. That is where we are sitting right now. I am scheduling our son for an evaluation on allergies and low vitamin intake. We are also reading a ton on shepherding the child's heart, how to love the wildness in boys, dealing with parent/child power struggles.

I wish there was a book that really addressed ALL issues that affect kids. The books either claim its all health, all spiritual, or all emotional. I believe that they all work together. That's the book I want. I am conviced that each of these do NOT work seperate, but together. When one is out of balance, the rest suffers, so how come we only address one aspect of the issue in all the parenting books out there.

I miss my sweet son. I see glimpses of him, and then he is gone. We are fighting again. We are at odds. We can't figure out how to meet in the middle, but I will use every ounce of energy I have to try until we can find each other again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A bit out of balance

I miss my husband. I am usually the one leaving my family behind and it always feels different when I am the one left behind.

Yesterday was our Sabbath. A day of rest, family time, and reconnection, but Paul wasn't here. So me being with the kids all day just feels normal. I was trying to figure out a way to make our weekend special without spending money. We were going to take a walk around a new park, or visit a pet store for fun, or something different.

Then I woke up and my baby had thrown up all over. Then after little while, she threw up all over the boys fort. Then she threw up all over me. I didn't feel much like cooking the day before so we planned on having all leftovers on Saturday. That means the sink was full of Tupperware dishes that were waiting to be washed. On my sabbath, I was now staring at a hallway full of laundry, and a sink full of dishes, a sweet baby who can't leave the house because she's sick and a cold morning. I was alone in my day and it didn't feel like rest.

There are a only a few things that really make my Sabbath really restful. No dishes, no chores, and time together as a family. I didn't want to turn my Sabbath into something legalistic. So I turned my laundry chore into a way to serve my daughter and love her through her sickness. The boys and I pulled out old toys and turned our whole living room into Gotham city which was something fun for them, even though not want I wanted. I wanted to go out and into an adventure. I had to choose to bring the adventure into our home. I made sure we all took a rest/nap then played outside for the rest of the afternoon. I got to hold my baby, which she doesn't really let me do much anymore, till she fell asleep. She slept most of the day.

Even with the good things in the midst of my day, it felt off. I felt out of balance in my day because it didn't look like it normally does. I was feeling the full weight of missing my helper and partner. I was missing the full day of rest. But I had great restful moments in my day. The boys and I had a beautiful devotional time at night before bed, and they were both asleep by 730pm. I sat there. I didn't want to check email or get on the computer. I didn't want to do laundry or dishes. All the things I am normally doing at night. This was a special day. Set apart for rest. I visited with our housemate and caught up on life. It was good, and brought renewal to my day. To share ups and downs with another believer. Then I went to bed at 1030. It was glorious and unusual.

So my Sabbath didn't last a whole day. I was missing my favorite part, my husband and reading. But God blessed me in other ways. Time with my daughter. Special play time with my kids. Wonderful devotional time and sleep.

A Sabbath is about rest. Rejuvenating life. Putting a pause button on life to remember what's most important. Even though it didn't look like it, that is what God blessed me with yesterday. Today I have been working hard on restoring our house and getting projects done because I got rest. Thank you Lord for knowing what I need.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How do you know?

You know what I'm struggling with right now? How do you know that the way you interpret scripture is correct? There are some that read the Bible literally and all that it says is exactly what it means. For others, there are bigger meanings and theologies and ideas behind it. The pieces represent a whole. Here is why I struggle. There are people in my life, people I respect. People I love. People I know who love the Lord. They also stand on very different ground regarding issues of faith and obedience. (Those issues in a nutshell to start with are love and obedience, the Sabbath, eating pork, those being on the path to heaven being drastically narrow, the second coming, the role of the body of Christ, law and gospel etc.) I am confident. Truly confident that both sides pray, research, read, struggle, ask questions, dig to find truth, and then they come up with different answers. Both sides confident their discovery is correct. Both confident that God has spoken truth to them, and yet their outcomes are different. Different to a point of altering how you approach, read and understand scripture and ultimately God himself. There is a war of words in my mind. I can hear all sides while I read the Bible myself, and then when I pray through it and strive to hear only the one voice that matters, there is a slightly different answer. How can we all be coming up with different answers? And where can I find my confidence in understanding faith enough to teach it to my children? This is I feel paralyzed. When I living out my faith, I want to be confident in what I believe. I want to teach it to my children, as I know it shapes their lives. I don't want to be filled with the words of a false prophet or teacher. I want to live in truth. Yet when I see others that I know also want to live in truth, truly want to live in truth and actively seek it, then their conclusions are different, I am left very confused. Lord, tonight I ask that you would grant peace in this process of discovering you and all the truths that you have hidden in your word for us. Reveal yourself to me, and give me the courage to hear your voice and fight to find your truth.