Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Man-Child

I recently listened to a radio broadcast with an author speaking about raising boys. She spoke of so many issues our boys face, but she specifically directed her book and her research to the mothers of boys. I was riveted! It was such an amazing hour of information, i bought the book before i even got to listen to the second segment.

( you can listen to it here and link to Part 2 )

One of the things that really struck me is when she was explaining what researchers have discovered about boys and video games. Boys' brains are apparently hard-wired to enjoy task-oriented activities as well as the satisfaction of completing a goal or honing a skill. Within the video game framework, you have all of the above and the boy never has to get off the couch! His brain's needs to "hunt it, kill it, drag it home, and get better at it tomorrow" are all fulfilled with some flicks of his thumbs.

Generally speaking, maybe this isn't a problem, but apparently, researchers are specifically looking at why we have 20-something young men still living at home playing video games all day... and they believe it is directly connected to the success of video games in fulfilling that part of a boy's nature. I'm sure we can all agree that a young man who will not go out and get a job or attend college courses to obtain a career cannot be considered a success. And apparently, the problem lies in the fact that these boys are having their needs met and do not enjoy trying to have those same needs met in the real world. Gulp.

We all know that cleaning the toilet or taking out the trash has very little payoff - unless we are internally motivated and can see the big picture. This boy, the one who plays video games as a favorite past-time, isn't gaining internal motivation and mental "atta boys" for doing those tasks, and he isn't learning to see the big picture - because everyday tasks cannot provide the same gratification the video games do at the same effort level.

( I'm trying to nutshell this for you, as well as put my adolescent psychology spin on it, and i'm not sure i'm doing a very good job, so just go listen to the radio show! LOL )

Okay, now for how it applies to me. :)
I talked with my husband about this issue, and we agreed to limit those sorts of games more for our son than we currently do - we are, in fact, seeing evidence that he gains little satisfaction from life's tasks and is video game focused. And today, i spoke with our son about it. He understands. He believes it is even likely a real issue. And he is compliant with the plan.

Best of all, without the video games tonight, he built a paper game board and played it with me before bed. Then he built another one for tomorrow. Ahhh, it is so nice when God drops information into my lap, i obey His prodding, and i get immediate feedback.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Soup's On!

As partial vegetarians who eat limited dairy products, i strive to stay creative with our meals. When autumn first arrived, the weekly-pot-of-soup began. We call it Soup Saturday. (We also have Spaghetti Sunday. But i digress.)

Every Saturday, i put on a big pot of soup. Easy enough, right? Only....

Challenge #1: it has to be vegetarian.
Challenge #2: it cannot contain dairy.
Challenge #3: 3 out of 5 of us don't really like a lot of vegetables.
Challenge #4: i have to change it up; it must not be the same soup week after week.
Challenge #5: there has to be enough of it to feed us on Saturday AND for one meal during the week.

So, after at least 4 weeks of doing a new creation in soup every weekend, i am back to our first favorite soup today. Ahh... the smells of onion and garlic fill the whole house this morning! I am so looking forward to digging in!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Parenthood: The Game is ON!

For some reason, our culture has become very competitive in a lot of areas of life that make no sense: my landscaping is better than yours, my SUV is newer, my kids are involved in more activities, and i'm a perfect wife, etc.

But the area of competitiveness in adults that boggles my mind the most is in the arena of parenting. Parenthood is absolutely the most demanding job on the planet, and if you do this full-time, all the time, without daily all-by-yourself breaks and a 2-week vacation every year, you deserve (but will likely never get) a medal of honor.

And rather than acknowledge that good parenting doesn't always come easily or naturally, we put on a mask for others as if to say: oh, this is fun and rewarding and i never feel overwhelmed! If you can TRULY say that - like, in the shower, all by yourself, between you and God - then go grab yourself a badge (or a straight-jacket, 'cuz you're delusional! LOL) and come back tomorrow. You don't need to read any further.

If you haven't hit your "uh-oh, what's the right way to handle this situation" meltdown yet, just keep waiting; it's coming. If you had an easy baby, you'll get yours back later. If the toddler years were a breeze, wait for the teens! And if this is you, please stop telling the other mothers how great your children are at the exact moment that they are bearing their souls to you about how anxious they are over Junior's recent behavior! So. Not. The time.

One thing i have always refused to engage in is the GAME of parenting. You can sit there and listen to me tell you that my child gives me the run-around or has screaming tantrums, and you can respond with, "Wow, my Joey would never do that! I just don't have that problem." Go ahead. I will not hit you. I promise. But i might say, "well, you should just thank God right now that He hasn't asked that of you, then." Because, seriously, folks, our kids are born sinners just like we are. Do you do everything right all the time? Do you absolutely never fudge on anything you know you should do a certain way? (think of your driving....) Of course not. So why do we have to pretend our kids are perfect?

I get it: our kids are a reflection of us, of our parenting, of our values. But sometimes, our kids are just exactly who God made them to be. Whether we like it or not. Sometimes, our kid has autism, emotional outbursts, behavior issues, speech delays, vision problems, self-control issues, or any host of things not going perfectly right inside his/her little body. And at the end of the day, it is our job as parents simply to love them and encourage them to be the best version of themselves they can be. Because, when it comes right down to it, any other expectation is just setting them up for failure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

If I were President

Okay, with lots of disappointments come lots of swirling thoughts. My morning devotion is about taking hold of the good thoughts and throwing out the bad ones so that i cannot be taken hostage by negativity. Aptly timed, in my opinion!

So i was thinking: what if i ran for the office of President of the United States of America? Hmm....

First, i've never cared for politics in general, though i see them as a nearly-necessary evil.
Second, i've never considered that i would be any better as a politician than anyone else.
However, i now understand something: if the people who believe politicking is a problem in our country continue to sit on the sidelines, we will continue to get political figures who love to play the political system. Is that how we get better? I think not.

So, my platform would be as follows:
- you can have your abortion, but don't ask for help paying for it. There is a simple solution to an unwanted pregnancy: don't have sex if you can't afford a baby. Sure, that sounds harsh, but mostly, i believe America is divided because women and men are afraid the conservatives are going to take away the right to abortion. Maybe our country will come to that, but it should be a majority vote. All i'm saying is, the American people should not have to pay for abortion if they don't personally have to obtain one.

- you can have your religious views, but don't force them on the majority. Not everyone who lives in this country is a Christian, but the majority still is. That might change, but for now, Christianity is the reason our country has been so successful and the deterioration of our country is largely linked to declining morality (all moral issues are of God, by the way, because without God, we could not know the presence or absence of good/evil).

- you can receive help from the government if you need it. Those systems are in place for the benefit of those who need it, and i couldn't in good conscience abandon those programs, but there has to be a limit. We cannot continue to subsidize women refusing to get married. We cannot continue to subsidize men refusing to grow up and take responsibility for their actions. We cannot continue to encourage women to have baby after baby with no job, no husband, no way to feed it or clothe it or house it, and send the message to the young men of this country that they can have their fun and step aside because "we've got this." If a woman and man can't take care of the children they already have without a handout, perhaps those men and women should have their reproductive rights interrupted. That, the government can pay for. I have seen this system first-hand. I am not operating on misinformation or bias. The basic system of getting something for nothing has never built a strong person or a strong nation. It has to stop.

- you can have a job and pay taxes, and your reward will be that you will earn exactly as you work. If you earn little, you will be taxed little. If you work hard and earn more, you will be taxed more. But the bottom line will be the same for everyone: flat tax. No penalty for getting ahead. No penalty for earning more. Just fair taxes. Remember, if you make $12,000 and are taxed at 10%, you will pay $1,200 in taxes and if you make $200, 000 and are taxed the same, you will pay $20,000. So the wealthy will still pay more than the poor, but it will be FAIR. Part of this would be tax incentives for continuing education, which would allow for greater opportunities for the individual (and our nation would be benefited by this as well). Then, we can offer incentives to the wealthy who support the charities that support our country. Otherwise, fair taxes and fair deductions.

- we need a defense. Period. Peace is a grand ideal, but it doesn't work because there will always be enemies, opposition to peace, and the willingness of others to commit violence in order to gain what they are after. So, we need the ability to defend. We also need the ability to go after something that could cause a bigger threat, so we need to be able to be proactive. Military men and women make so little money, put themselves in danger (and many lose their lives!), and live apart from their families for months and years at a time. They live in conditions we would never consider supporting if we had to "walk a mile in their shoes." And they do it for a love of country, for the promise of continued freedom. I would support our military and not handicap them.

- lastly, we need an educational system in which parents are equally responsible for a child's learning. No longer can we afford to ask our teachers to be the social skills teacher, the playground monitor, the bully-buster, the referee, and the drill sergeant, only to ask them why our children aren't learning their math facts or their history lessons. No one person should have all that responsibility and so little support. Parents should be required to invest time and energy into their own child's education. A system should be built to encourage this.

Basically, those are my issues. Some are likely polarizing, as would likely be the case with any candidate. But mostly, i think we need to remember that the "common good" needs to be our focus. Not all the way to one side or only 49% of the people get represented every 4 years. Balance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portions

Over the past few months, i have been working with my son on the concept of calories, specifically, calories and weight management. He has finally figured out that calories must be "burned" by the body or they will be "held onto" by the body as fat. He has also grasped the idea that it takes a lot more work to burn the calories than a person might initially think, going into weight management for the first time.

Now, we are working on portion sizes. This concept was tougher. The cereal box says 120 calories per serving, but it can be tough to estimate how much a serving is, not to mention that every food we consume has a different portion size. So my friend gave us some Weight Watchers serving utensils and we were excited to try them!

The next day, we served up what we discussed would be a good, healthful, balanced meal for lunch. My son helped me decide what that would be (mostly they were all his suggestions, believe it or not!) and we set to work getting it onto the table. As we used each implement to serve each component, it was fun to SEE how portion sizing works out in a real world application. For example, the scoop for starch was the same size as the scoop for vegetable, but the starch scoop was 1 serving and the vegetable scoop was 1/2 serving. The protein utensil was smaller than he expected, but provided plenty of chicken after he saw it demonstrated.


 
So we had Rotisserie Chicken, green beans, broccoli, and baked smiley potatoes. Half of our plate is green, which i reminded the kids was a really good thing! Our starch serving is much smaller than it would have been if we had just eaten what sounded good. And we didn't add any butters or oils, so we ate only the fats found naturally in the foods.

Overall, we did a pretty good job learning how to "design our meal" with the help of some portion scoopers. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn in Tennessee

I haven't always lived in Tennessee. But i haven't traveled much off the East Coast, either, so i have generally enjoyed autumn more than any other season (with the exception of when i lived in Orlando - not much to love about autumn there). Here in Tennessee, however, autumn hues take on a whole new dimension, and it is autumn that most securely binds me to this land.

I would consider leaving Tennessee to be closer to family.
I could be convinced to leave Tennessee for some mission God might call me to.
I might lean toward leaving Tennessee for better opportunities for my husband or family.
Then again, when i consider autumn in Tennessee... maybe not.

I. Love. Autumn.
And here, autumn is richer, brighter, friendlier, and more awe-inspiring than any place i have been.
It is here, in Tennessee, that i enjoy the gift of sight every year as God paints the land with all of my favorite colors: taupes and tans, festive oranges, deep yellows, rich dirty-shaded greens, earthy reds, browns.
It is here, in Tennessee, that a trip down the interstate is as beautiful in its own way as a casual drive along a windy country road.

Each year, we experience autumn a little differently. The summers are hot here, and often we battle droughts. These affect our autumn colors. Frequently, our summers last long into September, and this affects our autumn colors. Quite often, we have sudden cold spells in early October. These, too, affect our colors.

And sometimes, i hear myself complaining when i've been deprived of the lasting change of seasons that we generally experience here. But this year, God is gracious in allowing all of the colors of autumn to bless my sight. I even found a new color that we don't see every year: deep purple. I don't know what tree it is that turns this shade, but it is splendid mixed with all that orange, yellow, and tan!

Makes me wish i had a spectacular camera and about 40 hours per week to devote to learning to photograph the landscapes around me. :)

Happy Fall, y'all!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Celebrating Life

This is the month i celebrate my own birth. I have no problems celebrating the birth of my children, because i am genuinely thrilled they have been born into my heart and my life. But my birthday always gives me pause.

What's so great about me? the enemy inside whispers.

This year, i may have an answer to that question, and it also gives me pause.

Every life, no matter how fleeting, is like a pebble thrown into a pond: it causes far-reaching ripples the pebble will never see. My life has affected countless others, not all for the good, i'm certain, but there it is.

This month, i have been thrown into a family situation that i would rather not have to deal with. But it is my life, my past experiences, my journey up to this point, that has prepared me for exactly this challenge. I do not shirk it, but i courageously shoulder that challenge on behalf of my Lord, Jesus, who goes before me in the interests of all involved. And i am reminded by a dear friend that my old church's pastor has been speaking about COURAGE, which is not the absence of fear at all... rather, it is the presence of fear and the walking toward the challenge anyway.

So as i celebrate another year on this planet, i celebrate all of the good God has brought out of my life up to this point, and i pray that every day i walk the earth be a blessing to the Kingdom in one way or another.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Crypto Mind Benders (a review!)

So, our family recently got to try a new educational book by The Critical Thinking Co., one of our all-time favorite publishers of workbooks! We were super excited and waited impatiently for the postman to deliver the goods. The first book we received was Crypto Mind Benders, which is a bunch of puzzles to help a child develop and use mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills. We especially like these types of books because the children do not realize they are learning anything or even doing any sort of school - they are puzzles!

We received the Classic Jokes version of the Crypto Mind Benders books, but there is also a Famous Quotations book. The books are suited for children from third grade and up, so my third-grade son and my sixth-grade daughter both got to use this book. Mostly, they worked together on it, but the sixth-grader definitely needed to do some on her own a few times - just to have the honor of completing a joke/puzzle all by her self!

The jokes are cute and funny, the puzzle pages are well-organized, and the solutions are in the back. They thought of everything! My favorite part, though, was the instructions and example included in the front of the book - you do not have to have great reasoning skills yourself to let your child use this (and you can actually learn something, too!) because there is a little tutorial right there at the beginning of the workbook to teach you how to solve the puzzles. Fantastic!!

Overall, these are my favorite way to sneak thinking into my kids' day. We are always excited about a new Critical Thinking Co. book, and Crypto Mind Benders was still a happy surprise with the puzzles my kids couldn't wait to solve and the jokes they couldn't wait to tell to their friends. {smile}

You can find this and other great resources at The Critical Thinking Company's website: www.CriticalThinking.com

* Note: the above-mentioned book was provided to me at no cost for the purposes of an honest review; a positive review was not expected, just deserved, and no other compensation has been received.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

i have no problems....

Please read this.
If there is any doubt in your mind that our parental rights are being eroded, just read what one family just experienced in Pennsylvania.

http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/pa/201203270.asp

It is well worth your time. And your children's future.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Masks

Northerners, you may want to go grab a cup of coffee, start on that Leaning Tower of Laundry, or tickle some tiny toes. This one may get lost a bit on you. :)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One thing i have been ruminating on lately is the prevalence of masks among us. We seem to have no problems, here in The South, with putting on a multitude of masks in various situations.

At church, there's the "It's-so-good-to-see-you-How's-your-family-You-take-care-now!" mask in the Sunday School hallway.

At the grocery store, it's the "How-are-you-today-Did-you-weather-those-storms-okay-Say-hello-to-your-mom-for-me" mask at the checkout.

At the park, you can witness the "Oh-isn't-she-precious-Where-did-you-say-she-goes-to-preschool-Oh-my-son-loved-it-there!" mask by the swings.

And, ladies, all these "Treat-ya-great-to-your-face" masks just fly right off your faces when you buckle in behind the wheel of your tank, er, vehicle. You get up in your massive SUVs, ride the status symbol of the latest-and-greatest-in-vehicular-technology, and completely forget that your friends and church family are on those roads with you!!

Honestly, i don't really suffer Road Rage. What happens to me is a furious storm of "YOU ARE NOT ALONE ON THIS PLANET SO STOP DRIVING LIKE YOU ARE!!" that is mostly tempered by the faultless self-control i have learned to exhibit in these circumstances (i learned to drive in the Washington, D.C. area... y'all got nothin' on me...). So, i might make an outraged comment or two under my breath, but, by and large, i let y'all have some head-room so's i don't end up crushed by that tank you drive for your own safety while you barrel through our fine city like the stop signs are meant for The Other People, the traffic signals are merely suggestions, and those white lines in parking lots are really saying "speed up and drive diagonal!"

Sheesh.
And far too many of you have a passel of Jesus Fishes on the back of your cars (what are you teaching all those Little Fishes your raising?) (oh, and we won't even mention what your driving is doing for the reputation of His followers...).

What happens when you get behind the wheel of your car is that you become incognito. You are insulated from the very people you are nearly killing with your 2-ton-lethal-weapon-on-wheels.

Let me ask you this: if you had to look someone right in the face and shake their hand EVERY TIME you pulled out in front of them, drove crazy through a neighborhood, or cut across the parking lot in front of them... would you still behave that way? I somehow don't think so.

Okay, that about covers it. I'm done. Y'all have a great week! {wink}

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hiccups

For you mamas out there, do you remember when your baby had the hiccups while in the womb? My first pregnancy, no one told me what those jerky sensations were, but when i realized it with baby #2, it was so precious... and pitiful. I'm not a big fan of hiccups, but i'm a bit of a controlling person, so having something going amok in my body is not my idea of a good time. Not to mention, hiccups occasionally hurt quite a bit, don't they? And we all know there are methods to their extinction that are more Old Wives Tales than actual help, eh? Hold your breath, stand on your head and drink a glass of water upside down, etc.

Well, i've noticed recently that many of life's turns are often like that - which explains why they have been referred to as hiccups. They are little interruptions, outside of our control, that cause a bit of discomfort, if not downright pain (depends on the depth of the spasm, doesn't it?).

I realize God is wanting to keep our focus on Him. I know He is with me, no matter what He is asking me to walk through. And i understand that He desires to stretch me into someone more like Christ with every hiccup He allows.

So, i can stand on my head, trying to make the hiccups stop on my own.
I can hold my breath, willing them to cease more quickly.
Or i can put my faith in my Creator that the hiccups with subside in due time, and it is only my part to ride them out with grace, dignity, and a will to focus on my blessings rather than my hardships.

May God's blessing be with you today, most especially if you find yourself with a bad case of the hiccups.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mission: Monday

Lately, i get the feeling that Mondays have shifted for me. I no longer feel "oh, no, it's Monday... another week. Ugh!" I suppose that is because for the past few years, i have had the privelege of being home with my children and enjoying our learning lifestyle together. Now, Mondays represent the new-again beginning of some structure, scheduled chores, and opportunities to stretch their little brains... and it happens every week!

So, today's Mission: Monday (as i have come to think of it each week) is to work with flash cards every day and to get the upstairs tidy. Mission: Monday is the beginning of a project that will last the week, not the day for a one-day task. One thing i have learned is that one-day tasks need to be bite-sized. Those things go on my "to do tomorrow" list. Then, i have to have a larger goal to focus on so the bigger stuff gets done in bite-sized doses over a period of time. Less stress on me that way. :)

Anyone else finding their groove lately?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hypocrisy

What is hypocrisy?
The hypocrites were originally the theatrical performers who played various parts in a play. They were actors. Pretenders.

So, hypocrisy, then, is pretending, even lying.

I was thinking the other day about that case in another state (North Carolina, i believe) where a teacher forced a child to buy school lunch because the parent had packed a lunch for the child that was not nutritionally sound, meaning "covering all the government's basic food groups for a sound lunch."

Now, i used to work for the government, even had to know those regulations so i could decide if a child's meal 'measured up.' And i always had a problem with it because my children are unable to have dairy, but the government says they need milk at every meal. Before you jump in with "there are alternative milks," let me assure you, that is how we played the game. But where in the food pyramid is soy milk? Rice milk? Almond milk? So at what point are we just following a rule because it is a rule rather than because it is nutritionally sound?

Then, i heard about a case in which a teenager was given 3 years in juvenile detention for murdering a teacher. Huh?

Does this not strike you as hypocrisy? According to the government regulations, this child's parent didn't pack a nutritious-enough lunch for her child and was forced to purchase school lunch (not to mention the message that sends to the child, who had a turkey sandwich, by the way, and was forced to buy chicken nuggets...hypocrisy) but a teenager who takes another human's life is fit for society after 3 years in juvie?

Who's making these rules? And where is their focus? When did milk with lunch become more important than public safety from violent offenders?

Dang, i hate hypocrisy.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I AM...

I was thinking about my life the other day. About who i am. Here's what i was thinking.

I am...

...a past victim of child molestation.
...a survivor of abuse.
...the adult child of alcoholic parents.
...the mother of a child with learning disabilities.
...the wife of an unfaithful husband.

...strong.
...weak.
...helpless.
...capable.
...sad.
...happy.
...angry.
...joyful.

If you flip your "i am" around, with the help of Jesus Christ, you can find:
M y
A uthentic
I dentity

I AM (My Authentic Identity)...

...an adopted daughter of The King.
...a cherished child of The Savior.
...the exact parent my children need.
...the perfect match for my husband.
...the only ME i can be.

I read something this month that has really stuck with me. In the book, Not a Fan (by Kyle Idleman), the author points out when Jesus is telling the people not to be like the religious leaders because "they don't practice what they preach," [Matthew 23:3] this amazing tidbit: "Jesus doesn't expect followers to be perfect... he just expects them to be authentic." (phrasing likely not exact, emphasis mine)

My pastor also taught something this month that i have learned at the feet of Christ these past few years: every experience, every hurt, every relationship, every trauma, everything... has prepared me for the work God has for me. I AM to be authentic.

I may not be the perfect parent who never feeds her child fast food, the perfect wife who never says a not-very-nice-thing to her spouse, or the perfect adult child who never has a negative/hurtful attitude toward my parents, but i am this one thing: authentically me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A-Men's

We began teaching a concept to our children a few months ago called "Making Amends." Basically, this is the essence of honest repentance and a healthy foundation for true forgiveness. We have taught the kids that when they hurt someone else, it is their responsibility to take the apology to The Next Level: Making Amends.

Making Amends means that the perpetrator of the crime/offense has to do something for the victim of the crime/offense that is directly in line with the seriousness/nature of said crime/offense. For example, if disrespect of Mom is the offense, the child might open Mom's car door for a week to show respect. You tracking??

Now, in the end, it is up to the victim of the crime/offense to determine if the perpetrator of said crime/offense has made appropriate Amends. In other words, if Suzie pulls Katie's hair and later makes Katie's bed to Make Amends, Katie can decide if she feels the Amends-Making was sufficient to cover the offense. The responsibility of the perpetrator to really develop empathy during this process is huge. No quick fix, no If-Then statements, just true repentance and honest effort to restore relationship.

Of course, for many of you, there is a light-bulb moment that just happened. I know. Me, too, when i first heard about this from our family's counselor. Go ahead, take a moment to digest....

[insert soft elevator music]

Okay, ready for the funny part? (This is my blog; surely you expected a funny part...?)
The first time we told The Littlest Princess that she needed to Make Amends, she said, in all seriousness, "Mom, don't you mean A-Woman's? I'm not a men!"

{giggle}

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Attitude is Everything

Lately, i have been riding an emotional roller coaster. Situations in my life, coupled with a handful of health issues, have really wrung me out. As a parent, i remind my children at least weekly how important attitude is. In schoolwork, a positive attitude can make the work seem easier. In chores, attitude can make the job get done faster. In playtime, attitude can bring friends together - or push them away.

Time to take my own advice.
I need to spend the day with a positive attitude, thankful of all God has entrusted in me.
I need to do my chores with a positive attitude, thankful of all God has blessed me with.
I need to teach my kids with a positive attitude, thankful that God blessed me and trusted me with these special little people.

I remember being a 17-year-old senior in high school, scrubbing dozens of toilets in the largest homeless shelter the Washington, DC Area has, and i was happy to be there, thankful to have some small way to help, and grateful those men had somewhere to take a shower, shave, use the bathroom, brush their teeth....

Attitude really is everything.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Unseen

We are constantly being bombarded with the Unseen in our lives: the unseen carcinogens in our air, the unseen pedophiles in our neighborhood, the unseen bugs in our mattresses, the unseen stalker on the internet, the unseen germs in the schools.

There are other Unseen things you may not be aware of: the unseen abuse taking place in a home you pass every day, the unseen brokenness in the heart of someone you work with, the unseen pain of someone sitting beside you at church, the unseen financial harships experienced by a close friend or family member.... and the Unseen victims of our own thoughtlessness.

This time of year, many of us take extra precautions to prevent picking up the latest 'bug' from the grocery store cart or the play equipment at the mall. I even carry hand sanitizer on my purse for ease of use in all circumstances.

But i am always amazed at the level of ignorance (and i mean just that - ignorance, not knowing better) of my fellow moms when dealing with germs. We panic about using a gas station potty with a toddler (aak! the germs!), but we bring a sick child to the grocery store to pick up their meds for strep throat. We freak out about handwashing after school, but we let our kids push the 'little basket' without wiping it down when we're done (right - not before we use it, but before we pass it on to the next person's child).

What i know now that i didn't realize 5 years ago is what i hope to share with all of you. There is a little girl with a heart condition who has to keep her immune system suppressed for the rest of her life. This little girl is one face among many Unseen. She is, for me, a reason i carry hand sanitizer on my purse, wipe buggies down at the store, avoid bringing my children to 'germy' places during flu season, and pay attention to every sniffle, cough, and tummyache in our home. This little girl cannot get some of the vaccines the rest of us argue about. This little girl has to be hospitalized if she contracts the chicken pox. This little girl spends 3 weeks with a slight cold instead of a few days.

She is one of the Unseen. You never know that one of the people at the doctor's office, or the next person to use your shopping cart, or the next child on the slide is on immunosuppressants. You may never meet one of these people face-to-face. But they are out there. And our thoughtlessness over something like medicating a sick child to send him to school or church is a lot more to them than it would seem to us.

Just because you can't see something, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
air...
God...
stress...
pain...
love...
...and the Unseen.