Monday, January 25, 2010

Do you have a mouth guard?

Since I was a little girl, I have loved puzzles. One of my favorite moments was when my dad would bring me home a puzzle.

In my daily life, I look for pieces of life. You know, things that inextricably fit together. On a good day, I'll put those pieces together and have an "aha" or a praiseworthy moment. Other times I'll be chastened because it's obvious God is trying to teach me something.

Oh boy, if you have been following my blog lately, it should be apparent that we have had a lot of "puzzling" moments! OY!

And so I thought I'd share with you some awesome pieces I put together today.

Months ago, I attended a Winter Sports Meeting at my OS's school. Not particularly thrilling or dynamic but I paid attention when the principle cautioned parents of basketball players to purchase a mouth guard for their athletes.

After a few games, I had legitimate fears of Ike's teeth flying all over the court and immediately purchased the mouth guard. Ike was threatened within an inch of his life if he didn't wear it while playing. Yet there was one game where he forgot the mouth guard completely and many others where that mouth guard has been perched partially out of his mouth providing absolutely no protection for his pearly whites. My eyes would bulge out of my head and he would experience my wrath from the bleachers if I didn't see the mouth guard exactly where it needed to be. We affectionately call them motherly death rays...

Then we had our "humbling moments" and our Apology Tour. On Friday night, after Isaac was fast asleep, I decided to future torture myself by folding a load of laundry. I opened the dryer door and what did I see staring right at me? Yes, Isaac's mouth guard. (This photo is a dramatic re-enactment.)

At first I felt like Satan was poking me in the eye. Like the Devil was saying "Haha, Looo-ser! Some mom you are! I guess you won't be needing that mouth guard anymore now will you? Hmmmm?" I could see the Father of Lies snickering and doing some serious knee-slapping revelling in the misery of our sadness and disappointment. Jerk.

Along with the clean clothes, I held the mouth guard and truly felt a profound sadness clutching it in my mama's hands. It represented embarrassment, shame, hopes dashed, hurt and fear. I wanted to throw it out.

But as the weekend pro- gressed, we could see some rays of hope. Ike was repentant and willing to make amends. Parents were willing to forgive and offer mercy. Three generations - grandmother, daughter, brothers, sons, father all held hands Saturday morning and prayed out loud, one after another for all aspects of this situation. And the mouth guard stayed away from the trash.

There are other puzzle pieces I might share in future posts regarding these recent incidents but I truly believe that the Lord placed that mouth guard in the dryer as a reminder to me.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

In every day, Ike (and me and maybe even you, no offense) need to wear a mouth guard. Maybe not an ugly plastic one but one that protects us and others from unkind words, filthy talk and gossip. My orange hair, freckle-face teenage OS confessed to me that nasty words fly out easier on the basketball court. No duh! Now we have yet another reason his mouth guard must remain in the position where it was designed. From the bleachers, I am on the look-out making sure my OS's mouth guard is where it's supposed to be.

Puzzle pieces everywhere. When this whole thing started, I thought the nice mom calling me was placing an order for an apron - WRONG! But I am ever thankful for what she ultimately gave me - refining moments which are teaching us as we relentlessly, endlessly love each other and our Lord.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's that smell???

In the last three weeks or so, I have learned about a number of natural remedies that can reduce gas. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as I have been cooking my own beans...kidney, white, garbanzo, black turtle, beans of every kind are often on our dinner plate.

And as a result of my latest culinary adventure, it has become abundantly obvious or should I say odious to our family that we needed to either buy stock in Beano or find another alternative and I'll just leave it at that...

So in an effort to educate you, here they are some
of those remedies. When cooking beans:

1. Put a piece of Kombu seaweed in with the water. Remove after beans are cooked and hopefully you will be toot-less.
2. Two teaspoons of epazote herb also known as Mexican tea can increase "digestability."

3. Asofetida is a spice often used in Indian cooking and has anti-flatulent properties...

And it is the last herbal remedy that has given me a lot to think about.

I first learned about asofetida when the Hubs and I enjoyed a dinner at an Indian couple's home. My friend Sangini told us it was often used to reduce gas and within days I was at the local Indian store purchasing my first and last jar of this "spice." When I asked the store clerk to tell me a little more about asofetida, he said in a thick Indian accent replete with hand gestures, "VERY STRONG! USE A LITTLE!"

As soon as I got into the car, I had the worst taste in my mouth. I hadn't eaten lunch, hadn't vomited (I don't normally vomit while driving, fyi) and drove in my car baffled as to why I was overcome with a profound sense of nausea.

I ran some errands and upon returning home, I told the Hubs about my recent purchase. I was eager to try my asofetida and completely intent on heeding the nice man's words.

But that horrid taste wouldn't leave me alone. I twisted the top of the asofetida, put my nose up to the jar and nearly died. There aren't enough words but I'll try...

What does asofetida smell like? Hmmm, and I'm being very nice here, how about smelly, hairy armpits that have been soaking in rotting onions for about a year?

Why I didn't throw out the fetid asofetida remains a mystery but instead I put it in a spice cabinet. The next day, I opened that spice cabinet, looking for something and you'll never guess what happened...Yes, I found myself AGAIN nearly bowled over by that most utterly disgusting smell which I have since learned is also called Devil's Dung!

Fast forward to Tuesday which is our trash day and I couldn't take it anymore because I noticed that the entire spice cabinet was reeking. I asked the Hubs to put the asofetida in the trash for fear that soon the smell would overtake the kitchen. He's a good hubs so he complied. Mind you, the asofetida had only been opened one time for maybe a second a few days prior. Never after that.

Tuesday morning I had to throw some other stuff out in the trash and I opened the lid. The waft of a week's worth of trash was secondary to the hauntingly dreadful taste and flavor of asofetida! I have since learned that in the days of the American Wild West, asofetida and its sulfurous smell was once thought to be a cure for alcoholism when mixed with other spices. No surprise here!

As I have looked upon our last week, I have thought about sin. Sin is like asofetida. You don't need a lot of it to invade aspects of your life. It stinks and smells and can be hard to chase away. It lingers and has an aftertaste. Depending on the nature of the sin, it can be overwhelming and sickening.

I have experienced spiritual asofetida and been guilty of opening a giant jar of it, if you know what I mean. The only cure for sin is Jesus. I tried many other remedies, all which fell short of the cleansing power of Christ. That doesn't mean I don't goof up and make mistakes but I have had victory in many areas and struggles in my life and the only reason for that is because Jesus is my hope and salvation.

Check these verses found in the Bible...

Psalm 103: 9-13 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

We never had the chance to use asofetida to cure gas but I maintain it was still a wise purchase. It only cost $1.50 but God used that spice to reach every one of my five senses and remind me of all the stinky stuff He has cast away into the sea of forgiveness never to be spoken of again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On the road to redemption

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the LORD's
great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I have these verses displayed in my office. As a Christmas gift, how apropos that Ike gave me an adorable small framed print of these words created by a gifted friend and artist. Click here for more details.

These words have been put in action the last four days. As parents we have experienced a humbling and tiring weekend. Phone calls, conversations and consequences have substituted the normally scheduled events. I am not complaining, it has been absolutely necessary and cleansing. It is not a weekend I care to repeat but if necessary, we will repeat but I'd rather not. Join with me now in a group prayer...Please, oh Lord, let us not repeat last weekend!

As my orange hair, freckle-face OS continued the Apology Tour on Sunday, the Hubs and Ike headed to yet another girl's house to ask for forgiveness. I can only imagine my OS's heart was pounding as he neared each girl's house, walked up to the front door and shook the hands of her mom and dad preparing to apologize to the young lady he had offended.

And it was while going "there" that the Lord also placed a beautiful symbol of hope in the midst. As the Hubs drove, Ike sat with a plate of homemade, fresh from the oven, from scratch chocolate chip cookies on his lap, my youngest OS looked up to the sky and saw something unexpected. He saw a rainbow.

I didn't see it and I love rainbows. It wasn't meant for me. Aaron didn't see it and he thinks rainbows are pretty cool. Apparently Aaron didn't need a rainbow at the moment either. I believe that my OS, the one who most needed to feel hope and promise, was given this beautiful sign from the Lord.

I doubt there was an orange hair, freckle face teenage boy in the entire world on Sunday who needed a rainbow more than Ike. Some people might view this as a mere coincidence but not me. Think whatever you like but we don't get a lot of January rainbows around these here parts. According to our Christian faith, rainbows are symbols of God's faithfulness. God placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by flood.

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, John saw a rainbow around the throne in heaven.

And on a Sunday when I believe my OS needed a reminder that the Lord was with him, my OS looked up to the sky and He spoke to my baby. His child. His rainbow. Our hope.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Do you love me?"

If you are a parent, you will understand.

This week, my orange-hair, freckle face OS asked me a question.

"Mom, do you love me?" he inquired, partially in jest while in the kitchen. I was on one side of the island and he on the other, just so you know the logistics...

I paused, slightly surprised that he would even wonder and said, "Isaac, you have no idea how much I love you. You will only understand when you have your own child how much I love you."

And then I started to cry. Just so you know, I am a frequent crier. Click here and here and here and here for more details.

Fast forward to Friday - We learned some disappointing news about our OS. A normal day turned dark with just a mere phone call as we received information that was humbling and sad.

A Friday evening we had been looking forward to suddenly changed and we began the arduous process of loving our child even to make tough decisions and inflict severe punishment. You do not need to call Social Services, btw.

I know the pain of loss. I have felt the anguish of shame. I am familiar with anger, ahem...But last night was a new experience for me and that's because I wasn't the one who had perpetrated the offenses. It was my own child. A phone call from another mother brought to light things I didn't know and I stood there in the same kitchen, near that same island and felt like sinking into the ground. The boy I pulled out of my own body 13 years ago and have loved fiercely ever had profoundly disappointed our family.

This is the boy who surprised us with beautiful red hair and has been the delight of my soul and also my greatest parenting challenge. My last baby and as any mama will understand, I would die for that child.

As sad as I feel, I have been moved by the prayers of others who became aware of more of the details I won't share on this blog. God's Word has refreshed, uplifted, encouraged and given me hope. How cool is it that last night after my OS was asleep, I began to do my Bible Study and was led to read Proverbs 28:13

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Before we began the process of addressing the issue, the Hubs, Ike and I held hands and prayed. After we were finished, purging the issues and explaining the punishments (plural!), we prayed. This morning as we sadly uncovered more things, our family which included Aaron and my mom, the Hubs, Ike and I held hands and prayed again each one taking a turn and speaking to the Lord, asking for His healing touch upon all effected.

There was no cursing, no hitting, no slamming doors or threats. Considering how I learned to deal with things in my past with my own family of origin, I can only point to Jesus and His Hand in this situation. At times I found myself shocked at how calm and patient the Hubs and I were as our son's sins were brought to light. We were supposed to have fun last night! This was NOT FUN! When the Hubs tucked Ike in to bed last night, he prayed for him. We told him we loved him and we would get through this. We assured him there was victory over these things and though he might feel like his life was ending, through Christ, he can be restored and redeemed. It is so hard to be a seventh grader, can I get an amen!

Today is a new day with its own set of challenges and mercies. I am excited to see what the Lord is going to do...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Iron Gym Commercial

I have a blog post that is nearly ready to publish but on this, the last day before my oldest OS goes back to West Point, I have chosen to pre-empt my scheduled post.

The one thing that Nathan said he wanted for Christmas was an Iron Gym. We are such amazing parents, we not only got Nate one, but another one for the middle OS Aaron. Yes, it's true!

After dinner last night, (and I must share with you the really awesome thing we have been doing as a family), the OS cleaned the kitchen and then scurried upstairs. The next thing I know Aaron bounds downstairs in a skinny t-shirt and a crazy wig. He had applied camo paint all over his face and created slightly lifelike facial hair. Aaron has a flair for the dramatic which is an understatement. But this time Aaron had enlisted the help of his bros. They were going to make a video about the Iron Gym.

As I was sewing aprons downstairs, the Hubs and I could hear the chatter of our OS rehearsing their own Iron Gym commercial. See for yourself and then you'll know just one more reason why I am going to miss my big boy and all the wacky things the three of them do together.