Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cleaning up Messes

Ugh . . . . if there's one thing I hate - it's having to clean up other people's messes all day long. By "other people" - I mean my children. It seems like it's a never ending battle. I look around the house at all the clutter and messes and realize . . . hardly any of it is mine! :( My hubby tells me to hire a maid, but #1.) I am waaay too frugal to even think about spending money on something like that, and #2.) Isn't that what we are supposed to be teaching our kids to do?! So - number 2 is my goal! It's getting better, especially now that the kids are a little older and can actually do their chores ALMOST the way I like them done. :) hee,hee. Especially when my husband is out of town, I am much more strict about getting those chores done. It keeps me sane!

The last 2 days it seems there have been more "accidental" messes than usual . . . poop in my 3 year old's undies 3 times this week, mud tracked through the house by 4 happy, dirt-loving and playful boys, spilled cereal all over the living room (thankfully there was no milk!), etc. - and then today - a steaming hot bowl of Ramen noodles that my 10 year old just made. Not only did he spill it over 1/3 of the kitchen, but he broke 1 of my favorite 4 Snowmen bowls (that I've been meaning to put back in the attic since C-mas), and managed to burn his legs in the process slightly (thankfully he had jeans on . . . but it still soaked through! I could see the steam rising off his pants!). I didn't get upset about the bowl, because really . . . I can always buy other dishes . . . but my son is irreplaceable!! I learned a long time ago to not get too attached to my "things". They are not what is important in life. People are! My 12 year old did the crying for me though. He was so sad that my favorite bowl was broken. Bless his heart. :)

As I was on my knees trying to get the slimy, wet noodles and sticky chicken broth off the cold tile kitchen floor, I thought . . . "Sometimes it feels like all I do is clean up other people's messes!" . . . oops . . . did I just say that out loud?! I heard God's tender reply in my heart . . ."I know how you feel."

Wow. . . . . . how humbling. . . . . . how many times has God had to clean up my "messes" (and all the messes of ALL His kids . . . .billions of them!)? And not only that - how many times have I begged Him to clean them up for me . . . promising NEVER to do it again?! . . . and of course . . . I did do it again . . . and again . . and again . . . . wow. . . . . I am so sorry God. I will try to clean up my own messes from now on. In fact, I will try to not make any more messes (or at least - very few).

However, I can hear God gently and lovingly saying . . . . "I don't mind Lori. I LOVE to take care of my children! I am your Daddy. It's my job to help you. Yes, I do want to teach you how to avoid making messes and how to clean them up - but I will still help you. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are my child and I am honored to be called your Dad! I will always help you whenever you call out! Don't feel like you can't come to me with your messes. I love taking that which is dirty and making it clean! I love the transformation! I love the restoration! I love to work along side and with you my child in turning your 'lemons into lemonade'! Just come and ask! I'll always be here . . . waiting to help!"

Can you accept His help today? Do you have any "messes" that need cleaning up? How about the biggest mess of all . . . . being a "mess-maker" (sinner)? Have you told the Lord all about your messes (sins) and then asked Him to clean them up - forgiving you - FOREVER - and asking Him to be the Lord of your life now? Your Daddy? Your Savior? If not . . . . PLEASE do! If you don't know how - ask me . . . or ask your pastor, or someone at a good church. If you are not sure if you really NEED God to clean up any of your messes - or don't think you really have "that many" messes to be cleaned up (ie - you are a good person!) - please check out this video at - click on the blue box that says "Are you a 'good' person? Try the ultimate test . . ." on the right side about 1/2 way down. Let me know what you think of it and how it affected you!

I know my kids will continue to make messes . . . even thought they are MY kids (and kids are always "perfect" in their parents eyes . . . right?!) . . .and even though I have taught them over and over and over again about what not to do and what to do. . . . . they will still mess up. Will I love them any less? No! Will it sadden me to see them fall, mess up, or make messes in their lives? Yes. Will I help them - even if they don't ask? Most likely. But not if it will hinder them from learning how to grow up. Always rescuing your kids will do more harm than good. God is the same way with us. There ARE consequences to our actions, but God CAN redeem that which the enemy meant for evil - into something good!!! Praise the Lord!!

For some awesome resources on how to help our children to grow up to be responsible adults who don't make as many "messes" (in their lives) when they are older . . . .check out They have some great books on "Parenting with Love and Logic" that has helped us out sooo much - especially with our "Future CEO's in the making" (ie - our strong-willed children)!! You won't regret looking into it!

God bless you today and I hope it is a Mess-Free day! But even if it is messy . . . it can still be a "Good Messy Day" as my friend's 7 year old proclaimed at the end one particularly messy day! :)

Lori :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Signed Retainer . . . will win! (R. to S. update)

Yes folks . . .I have signed a retainer with the ACLJ in regards to our Candy Cane incident! The school's legal counsel was not getting back to us. So - we will see what becomes of all this now that I've got the lawyers talking to each other (soon). I don't know how much I can say about it all now that the lawyers are involved . . . . but hopefully I can keep you guys updated. We are not suing the school (as of right now) - but am trying to help them to understand what the student's rights are in regards to the distribution of religious literature and "religious" talk/conversations, etc. within the school setting - whether the student is a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, etc. All the teachers I have spoken to (and a principal) all have said that they know very little about what the student's rights are. They know what they (the teachers) can and cannot say and do . . . but they don't have any idea about the kids. They have never had an inservice, instructions, or even a memo regarding this. Sounds strange to me - especially in today's day and age! I was shocked to find this out!

Well - keep it all in your prayers as we definitely do not want to see MORE freedoms taken away here in the US!

Lori :)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Rock of Peace!

This week I have been carrying around a small rock in my pocket. Now, that's not unusual for me in the past - especially when my kids seemed to hand me new little pebbles, medium sized stones, and some large rocks each and every day. Eventually those stones would secretly make their way back into my garden or backyard. My pockets (and countertops) just couldn't hold onto them all!

I do know why they felt compelled to give me these rocks. How do I know? Because I asked them. Their response . . ."because we know you LOVE rocks mom!" :) ??? Hmmm . . . how did they know that? I don't recall saying that I loved this part of God's creation.

I did have a polished rock collection from my years of scouring the ground and quarries in rural Minnesota when I was in grade school. I would use my own rock polisher machine to make my agates, amythists, and other precious stones shine and sparkle. It was my own private gem collection! I was hooked! I couldn't help but look down everywhere I went - seeing what kind of rocks I could find. Occasionally I would find other treasures . . . coins, broken toys, candy wrappers and more. It was awesome!

So why have I been carrying around a small rock in my pocket all week now? No - it's not from my kids. Thankfully my kids outgrew (or forgot about) their habit of giving me such lovely stone gifts. This rock is a small smooth river rock that I had written "God's peace" on it during a MOPS craft activity last year. Here's how it ended up in my clothing.

This past Tuesday I was spending some time with the Lord. It had been awhile since I had some quality one-on-one time with Him without too many interruptions. I had alot on my mind to discuss with Him - so I started in. . . . . "What should we do about the kid's schooling next year? What should we do about . . . . What about this? . . . . and this? . . . . " etc - you get the picture. My mind was FULL! I had been feeling overwhelmed with life - not being able to get things done, trying to give my 5 kids and hubby all the attention they needed, getting frustrated at all the things in our house that need fixing - not to mention the fact that it always seems to be a mess and I'm tired of cleaning it . . . . . . . . . I'm just feeling discontent and overwhelmed lately.

I started walking along a dirt path with the Lord (in my mind as I was praying). I was talking to him about all the little stones around us on this path that I felt the need to pick up and do something with. It was so overwhelming as there were soooo many rocks - too many to hold in my hands (or pockets for that matter!). I asked God for what HE wanted to give me. He turned and picked up something - then placed it in my empty arms. It was a HUGE rock to carry! This was His "burden" (yoke) - but I realized that it really wasn't as heavy as it looked like it would be. It actually was quite comfortable to carry, kept my hands and arms completely full, and was really satisfying.

I continued to worry, however, about all the little stones we were passing that I still felt like I should be tending to (ie - all my daily tasks, family issues, my schedule, etc). He said to just focus on the rock that I was carrying instead. I looked at it closer and it had the word "PEACE" on it. I am to carry it for awhile. I continued to ask Him about the other stones (can you tell I'm stubborn??!) - but He showed me that I cannot pick them up without first putting down the PEACE rock. I cannot carry both right now. Maybe later we can deal with the little stones - but for now He wanted me to focus on this big rock. He then showed me a HUGE pile of other large rocks.
"Lori - I have all these to give you." God said.
It did seem really silly to me to want to pick up all the little one now. He said the big ones (which had the words - JOY, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, etc on them) are what He is giving me to use to build my altar/memorial glorifying Him (or foundation stones even). It is for my kids and grandkids to be able to see and say "Look at what the Lord has done." - just like in the OT when Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. God had them take 12 stones from the riverbed and set them up at Gilgal. "Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." (Josua 4:5-7)
God went on to tell me that the little stones (ie - worries of the day - the non-essentials in of true/eternal life) will not make good memorial stones. It would take forever to build with those little rocks! It would not be impressive. I would just be a pile of little stones.

PLUS - God also showed me that by carrying around His large "burdens" - the little stones would seem really easy to carry afterwards! :)

So . . . starting this past Tuesday, and for however long God deems necessary, my burden is to carry PEACE with me - in my life and in my family's life. That night I noticed that I had a good sized rock in my bathroom that I had bought at a store . . . and wouldn't you know it - the word "PEACE" was carved into it! :) I had forgotten about that! Then I found the small stone on my bedside table in a candle holder (with other stones). I have kept it in my pocket since then. Each time I notice my mind wandering down the path of picking up the little stones - I just feel the rock in my pocket and remind myself that I am already carrying PEACE! It has helped alot this week! :)

Some awesome scriptures about PEACE:

Psalm 34:14b - "Seek PEACE and pursue it."

Psalm 29:11 - "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with PEACE."

Psalm 37:37b - "there is a future for the man of PEACE."

Psalm 119:165 - "Great PEACE have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble."

Proverbs 14:30 - "A heart at PEACE gives life to the body. . ."

Isaiah 26:3&4 - "You will keep in perfect PEACE him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the ROCK eternal."

Isaiah 48:18 - "If only you had paid attention to my commands, your PEACE would have been like a river . . ."

Isaiah 57:2 - "Those who walk uprightly, enter into PEACE; they find rest as they lie in death."

Romans 15:13 - "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and PEACE as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (this verse got me through our adoption journey!)

Phillipians 4:6&7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everthing, by prayer and pettion, with thansgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God which transcends all understandning will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

And for all of you . . .

"Now may the Lord of PEACE himself give you PEACE at all times and in every way . . ." (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Lori :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rice Nuggies?

A form of punishment used to assert dominance in a social structure, usually given when a lower person does or says something stupid or annoying. It consists of rubbing of the knuckles hard against the skull to cause moderate pain. Usually the head is held stable with the weaker arm, and the nuggie is given by the stronger arm.


"Lauren, have I given you a nuggie yet today?" my husband jokingly asked our 4 year old niece during our Christmas vacation. I was expecting her to giggle as most kids would and reply with "nooo. . . . but I don't want one either!" Instead I heard her reply quickly and matter-of-factly . . . . . .

"No. But I can only have rice ones cuz I can't have gluten or corn."

She was dead serious! My husband tried to keep a straight face as we silently chuckled together.

"Oh really?" he said in a serious tone back. "You can only have Rice nuggies?"

"Yes - only rice nuggies." Lauren replied.

"You sure you can't have regular nuggies?" he asked again.

"No - only rice nuggies - not regular ones." she reiterated.

"Oh, that's too bad. Maybe you can ask your parents if you can have a regular nuggie later" he encouraged.

She was busy at the moment so she didn't ask. We told her parents (my sister and her husband) - who also thought it was hillarious - and theydecided to tell her it was ok to have a regular nuggie and to go ask her uncle for one. She was soooo excited (jumping around in glee)! . . . . I know, I know . . . how mean!! . . . I agree! I was only an observant in all this - I have to say! :)

So she runs up to her uncle with a huge smile on her face and says excitedly in her sweet 4 year old voice, "My dad said it was ok for me to have a regular nuggie. Can I have one?" she continues to jump up and down around him.

"Are you sure you want one?" my husband asks.

"YES!" she can't contain herself.

"Okay . . . . here you go" as he promptly grabbed her head with one arm and lightly rubbed his knuckles on the top of her head.

"There you go!" he said.

The look on her face was priceless . . . and heartbreaking. . . . it was a mix of excitement turning into confusion.

"Nuh--unh! I want a real nuggie" she begged, as she didn't believe that was really a nuggie.

"That was it Lauren" he tried to convince her. You could see she was very slowly realizing that she had been duped . . . tricked . . . by her own uncle . . . and parents . . .

But hey . . . . . . at least it wasn't a Rice Nuggie! :)

One Nation "Under God" & Return to Sender update

With all the craziness surrounding my daughter's candy cane gifts - I just had to pass this on! Thank you B for sending it to me!! :)

One Nation "Under God"

One day a 6 year old girl was sitting in a classroom. The teacher was going to explain evolution to the children.

The teacher asked a little boy: Tommy do you see the tree outside?
TEACHER: Tommy, do you see the grass outside?
TEACHER: Go outside and look up and see if you can see the sky.
TOMMY: Okay. (He returned a few minutes later) Yes, I saw the sky.
TEACHER: Did you see God up there?
TEACHER: That's my point. We can't see God because he isn't there. Possibly he just doesn't exist.

A little girl spoke up and wanted to ask the boy some questions.

The teacher agreed and the little girl asked the boy: Tommy, do you see the tree outside?
LITTLE GIRL: Tommy do you see the grass outside?
TOMMY: Yessssss!
LITTLE GIRL: Did you see the sky?
TOMMY: Yessssss!
LITTLE GIRL: Tommy, do you see the teacher?
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see her brain?
LITTLE GIRL: Then according to what we were taught today in school, she possibly may not even have one!

(You Go Girl!)


As for an update . . . I spoke with the Principal again today (she didn't call me back last week as promised). She is waiting for the lawyers and school system to have their "meet and confer" about this issue and get back to her. She contacted several people yesterday - but no decision has been made yet. I also spoke briefly with legal counsel from the ACLJ today and sent them the National Dept of Education's "Guidelines concerning Religious Activity in the Public Schools" that the VA Dept. of Education had adopted in 1995. They will get back to me once they have read over the info.

My brother (who worked in the schools here) said that the teachers in his school have never been taught/in-serviced on what the rights of the students really are - what is acceptable and not acceptable, etc. in regards to religious expression in school. The principal here also agreed that that issue has never really been highlighted - so it seems that it's pretty much a guessing game for the teachers and administration as to what the kids can and cannot do. :) Lovely. That is definitely one thing that I want to see changed through all this!! EDUCATION of the teachers and administration on what their actual guidelines/policies are - and on what the LEGAL rights are of the students that they are entrusted to care for and teach! Let's get a clue here people!!

Lori :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Return to Sender - part 2

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful CHRISTmas vacation! We did! But now it's back to everyday life, and the continuing saga of the Candy Canes! :)

During our vacation, I was able to get ahold of a friend who is a lawyer for the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice), and she confirmed what we already knew . . . . . we are the ones in the right and the school is wrong! :) It's just nice hearing it from someone who deals with Constitutional laws all the time. She is putting me in contact with someone else at the ACLJ who can help us in resolving this matter. Hopefully all it will take is the ACLJ contacting the school (or school's legal cousel) and explaining the actual law. But I do want to see some sort of follow up at the school - inservices or something along those lines - so that no more of these "misunderstandings" occur again.

Seeing as today is the first day back at school for my public school kids, I fully expected a call from the Principal to address this issue. And guess what?! She actually called. . . . .several times (I was out most of the day). She is actually a nice woman to talk to, and I was in a better frame of mind (and mood) in talking with her today than with the Assistant Principal on Friday December 21st. I'm not sure I will deal with him anymore as I felt very patronized, disrespected and did not enjoy talking to someone who couldn't answer my questions without a defensive (or patronizing) tone in his voice.

The Principal explained to me that she had not called before as she thought I had worked things out with the A.P. and was sorry that things have turned out as they have. She was told that the teacher (and I guess the AP) felt the cards on the candy canes were "a little over the top" in regards to their religious nature and that they could not distribute them in school. I'm sure that "THEY" cannot distrubute such religious literature - but I informed her that my daughter actually has a Constitutional right - as is even stated in their own Dept of Education guidelines (which are the Nat'l guidelines they adopted over 12 years ago) - to distribute religious literature, pray with her friends or talk to them about Christ/religious things during "non-instructional" time at school. She agreed with me that lunch was not an "instructional" part of the day (which the AP tried to tell me it was!). She also told me that the teacher said there were only about 6 kids who actually had their candy canes and cards left to be able to take off the cards. It doesn't matter if there were 100 or 1 - the school still had no right to take them back at all!

We talked about the silliness that surrounds the Christmas/Holiday season - and how, even 20 years ago at her kids school - they couldn't even decorate with red and green!! I did mention to her how ridiculous it was that our school had "Happy Kwanza" and "Happy Hanukkha" but no "Merry Christmas" signs up. We talked about other things slightly related to all this - like how I was offended when my kids teachers brought in Yu Gi Oh cards and a Harry Potter movie on the last day of school last year to keep the kids entertained; how the kids are bringing home menorrahs, Hanukkha and Kwanza projects - but my daughter can't pass out candy canes that say "Jesus" on them; and much more. All in all, it was a descent conversation (though there was plenty more I could've said) and I did keep my cool through it all (yea!). It ended with the Principal saying that she would contact the school's lawyer about it all tomorrow and get back to me in the afternoon. I reminded her several times that I have already spoken with the ACLJ and that I would be happy to have them contact her or the school's lawyer as well if need be. I didn't mention "lawsuit" or anything of that nature as I am still hoping this can be resolved in a peaceful way. We'll see. As long as I don't have to talk with the A.P. again - I will probably remain calm while talking about it. :)

I will update you as more info comes along. But for now . . . dinner is done cooking and my oven buzzer won't stop reminding me! :)

Happy New Year!