Every once in a while my youngest gets obsessed with “knock, knock” jokes. A few days ago we experienced one of those days. Being 10, and creative-  repeating jokes he’s read or heard is not enough. No- my kid wants to be the Bill Cosby of Knock knock jokes. He writes his own material. He’s not alone. There is probably either a book or at least a website devoted to the random “humor” that is children’s interpretations of the classic “Knock, Knock” joke. (Okay- I made that part up. But it could be true.)

I’d Google it to confirm- but honestly? I’m so tired of knock, knock jokes I don’t even want to be exposed to them online. (It’s not the jokes it the stress of trying to figure out what’s funny that’s exhausting… Knock knock? Who’s there? Cheese? Cheese Who? I still don’t get it… Just saying. I’ve learned to laugh when he does.) There are programs for automatically blocking P*R#, I’d consider one for blocking annoying Kn*ck, #noc* jokes?”

But this post isn’t about Knock Knock jokes. (Sue me for a bait and switch title… But really- come on If you’ve read here before you should have expected that.:P)

It’s about doors. And Knock Knocks. Kind of. Because, I think “Who’s there?” is the wrong question. At least for me. And maybe for you, too.

I recently watched a terrific movie about Temple Grandin (A fabulous story of autism and the human spirit;) in which doors played a very important and symbolic role. (Confession: My college kids now believe I’m obsessed with Temple Grandin. It could be true. She’s amazing.)

When faced with a door- Temple didn’t ask : “Knock, Knock?” Nor, did Temple ask: “Who’s there?” Nope. When Temple encountered a door-Temple opened doors. Temple went through doors. Figuratively and physically. (Thanks to a teacher who helped her see them as opportunities.Teachers make a huge difference!)

Which is probably when I became enthralled with Temple. (Or, “Obsessed” according to my children. Whatever.) We are all presented with doors everyday. Choices. Opportunities. The thing is- our opening them also involves going through them…. which involves moving in a direction.

Sometimes doors close behind us.  Once closed, we can’t go back. Sometimes going through a door is good. (Like childbirth…. even though my oldest- upon meeting his first brother- demanded we “put him back.”  Nope- that’s a door you only go through once.) Or taking a risk to submit to a publication. That can be a good door- whether it’s published or not. It can be an act of obedience and a lesson in perseverance.

And then there are “other” doors. Doors that take us “other” places.

Doors aren’t destinations-or simple opportunities…. they are pathways- pathways that can change the direction of our lives. (more…)

“WHOOOOOOSH.” Every molecule of oxygen suddenly vacates your lungs like swimmers heading for land after a shark warning. Then: “SSSSSSSSSUCK.” Automatically, he reverse action sucks more air into your lungs than a tsunami hitting the same beach.

We’ve all felt it- the exhale- after a long breath holding. It is automatic and barely controllable. The “Whoosh . Suck. Effect.”

I felt it today, and I had no idea that I was holding my breath. A number of issues have been up in the air for a while.. and today- one was resolved. The “WHOOSH. SUCK. Effect” was audible, and I was not the only one who felt it.

I didn’t know I was holding my breath. But, I’m not surprised. I’ve done it before- both figuratively and physically. I’ve learned that physically holding your breath usually ends in one of 2 ways- “The WHOOSH. SUCK. Effect” (complete with sore ribs from trying to hold your breath.. ) or, by waking up circled by concerned faces because I’ve passed out on the floor. Neither of which is particularly pleasant. The first gives me a nasty lightheaded feeling followed by a headache…and the second? Is just plain embarrassing.

For me, it’s usually fear that makes me hold my breath. Fear of physical pain makes me hold my breath physically, fear of emotional pain, makes me hold my breath emotionally. My body reacts to the fear as if it’s convinced that holding my breath could stop time or change my circumstances. It doesn’t. Lord knows, it’s TRIED.

Physically- I’ve been known to hold my breath during blood draws. This is not a good idea- people will come running when a pregnant woman hits the floor. I also physically held my breath during my middle son’s worst asthma attacks.. my sides felt like I’d been in a car accident. It took days for things to loosen up and for us to finally figure out that I’d been holding my breath during his breathing treatments.. I suppose I was willing him to breathe- by holding mine.

Emotionally- I’ve held my breath while waiting for an outcome to a problem or while I’m waiting for a decision. I’ve also been known to hold my breath when I’ve been hurt. That sharp intake of breath that you HOLD when you’re physically hurt is what that feels like. (Todays’ “Whoosh Suck Effect” was brought to us by the feeling of FEAR and impending doom that did not materialize. :)

For me-emotional breath holding takes various forms:

Paralysis. (I can’t, or don’t do anything) It’s difficult to DO anything when you are out of or conserving oxygen!

Panting. (I do EVERYTHING possible as fast as possible and hyperventilate myself with activity that leaves me just as lightheaded as holding my breath does.)

Pulling back. Pulling back emotionally can be a form of holding your breath. Like holding your breath when you’ve been hurt physically, for short periods of time it can be a healthy way to heal..and even to protect yourself. But, for long ones it leads loss of necessary fresh oxygen and eventually to an emotional gangrene. Just like cutting off oxygen to a body part would.

None of these do me any good, in the long term. I end up- overwhelmed with all that I should have been doing during my paralysis (I’m pretty much there, now), exhausted from doing stuff I shouldn’t have (been there, done that) and rotten feeling from the inside out from cutting off the oxygen I desperately need from friends. (been there, too)

Here’s the thing. I know better. I know what works and I know what hurts. Yet- I sometimes hold my breath, anyways. Sometimes, it’s not until the “Whoosh! Suck! Effect” takes place that I even know I’ve been holding my breath. Sometimes it’s sore ribs that alert me, long after the fact.

Once in a while, I catch on right at the “Whoosh” when I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. When I catch it early… I’ve learned to pray. When I pray and share with God and others the fear that’s threatening to steal my breath away… I feel myself catch my breath. My ribcage loosens, my breathing slows to a normal rate. The tingly, icy oxygen starved limbs slowly start to warm. Even if the threat or pain is still there, I can continue to breathe, the fear and the pain dissipate. Like when I was in labor- and used Lamaze to help my body deal with pain… I can do what I need to- no longer paralyzed and starving for air.

Are you holding your breath? Has something knocked the wind right out of you.. or is something stressful making you hold your breath for the outcome?

BREATHE. No- really. Take a physical breath. Then talk. To God- He’s already listening. And to someone else. It’s really hard to hold your breath when you’re talking… I know– I’ve tried:)

Dear Lord— Thank you for reminding me to breathe.. thank you for teaching me that holding my breath won’t change my circumstances and usually hurts me in the long run. Lord- help me not to be paralyzed when fear or pain come. Help me to not run panting after busyness and end up lightheaded with exhaustion. Give me wisdom to know when I need to pull back and wisdom to know when pulling back hurts. God surround me with people that share their oxygen,a nd give me courage to share mine . Lord- for anyone who stops by here- may they find a fresh breath from you… oxygen for the body and the soul. Just as real as the first breath you breathed into Adam..I love you Lord- amen.

Genesis 2:7 (New International Version)

the LORD God formed the man The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be related to the Hebrew for ground (adamah) it is also the name Adam (see Gen. 2:20). from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.


an old song.. that helps me remember to breathe…..

sandcastle

“First, we dig a moat, then, we need big walls to keep out invaders.  We have to have a strong army and traps and lots of weapons!” Noah S- 8

I’ve spent countless sun-filled hours watching my boys sculpt sandcastles.  I’ve been in awe of their creative use of beach rocks, buckets and stones. I’ve watched them re-routed entire water-ways by digging trenches to protect their castles from in coming tides and I’ve watched the tears fall when it was time to go home and they had to be left- unguarded.

I’ve returned to the same beaches early in the morning a day later, only to find the beach scrubbed clean by wind and surf.  Regardless of the intricacy or grand engineering of the protective plans, the sandcastles always succumb to the tide.

Children aren’t the only sandcastle builders.  I can see my own actions reflected in their planning and building.  I’ve tried to dig protective moats and build high walls around their lives, too. I’ve been pretty creative in my use of private schools, homeschooling, controlling TV viewing, interviewing perspective friends, centering activities around people we know and place we know.. In truth?  My protective plans have been about as effective as sandcastle builders have.  Maybe less so.  Some of them have only proven to do their own type of damage.

Life happens.  Wind blows, sand shifts and the tide comes in. What seemed safely protected yesterday, is a wind scrubbed beach, today.

Maybe that’s the way it should be.  Maybe  beaches aren’t meant to be turned into protected castles.  Maybe, part of their beauty is the wildness, the changes that happen each day.  Maybe learning to enjoy the changes and challenges as they come, is part of a bigger plan.

Today, I’m heading to the beach of my life without a bucket or a protective plan.  I don’t want to look back and find a day spent building and protecting a temporary sandcastle. I’d rather find a day spent exploring and enjoying every incredible aspect of a beach. It’s risky, I know.  Rocks and wind and sand and waves can be dangerous.  Bad things happen, the truth is- they happen whether we try to protect ourselves or not.  Then again…so do wonderful things.

I trust the one who created the beach for me to play in, and who has a plan for the sandcastle of my life.. I’m  going out to enjoy what I find there… will you join me?

“This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”- Jeremiah 33:2-3

**the sandcastle pictured is not the work of my guys.. but of the beautiful and much loved Holland Family:)***

Vintage post- 

Mommy v1.0 was released 12/13/89 (the day my oldest was born) – she was the beta version-  & had a lot of bugs to work out with the new tools she was running.  There were questions whether she should have released Mommy 1.0 or not but she let the software engineer determine the readiness, and the engineer used the early release to improve later versions.

Mommy v2.0 was a slightly better prepared release.  (8/8/92- my middle son’s b-day), but still needed to work out some bugs with multi- tasking and occasional system crashes.

The Mommy v3.0, release (when the older 2 boys went to school) was bumpy, as the previous updates needed a reinstall. Mommy v3.0 ran fairly well with the changes and a system re-boot.  She discovered new tools that she hadn’t had previously like conflict resolution and improved trust capabilities.

Mommy v4.0 was a total surprise release. The Software engineers kept the update under wraps for quite sometime before alerting the end users. However- March of 2002 turned out to be the perfect time to release v4.0 (with Noah’s Birth.) This version was a much smoother implementation- the new version was solidly based on previous updates.  Of course- it held it’s own challenges- but in general the release went well.

I feel like I’m about to be upgraded.  It makes me both a little nervous and excited. Nervous, because I know there are bound to be glitches along with the implementation and excited, because I know I’ll have a new tool bar when it’s completed. I’m not talking about my laptop… I’m talking about my mommy-hardware, my life is changing.

Rumors have it, that Mommy v5.0 is in the works, with an expected release date of September, 2009. The Software engineer is keeping the details of the update in strictest confidence, but as each new version has improved both the platform and the end- users experience, it is expected to be both well recieved, and to have the occasional bug to work out after it’s release.

MommySoft appreciates your patience as we prepare for this new release, and looks forward to serving you in the future, with its new tools!

My oldest is in college, my middle is graduating High School this year and my youngest will start school full-time in the fall… CHANGE is COMING!  To be honest- I don’t know exactly what the changes will look like in my day to day life.  But I know this– when “hardware” changes have happened in the past– God has always used them to update my “software”.

It seems like everytime my laptop updates.. there is a short period of chaos and problems, until the bugs are worked out. My Mommy hard drive goes through something similar.

When life changes- so does a Mom. With each change she has a choice.. to either click the “install updates now” button, or ignore it.  I’ve done both. Sometimes risking system failure or security breach because I was afraid it may be another “phishing” scam not an actual good change.. and sometimes because I don’t see a need to change anything because things seem to be running just FINE.

I mean.. why risk an update when there are bound to be glitches along with the improvements? he answer is the same for Moms as it is for software.. because the new tools and improvements are worth the risk.

Like most mom’s I’ve experienced my share of changes: Childbirth, weaning, walking, potty training, addition of children to the family, moving, job changes, moving, kids starting school, changing schools,income changes, church changes, kids graduating and entering college. The list is infinite. Mothering changes daily.

Click  for more and to see my ever changing family.. (more…)

Their laughter overpowered my ear-buds, as I ran on the park’s walking/ bike path.  I’m glad I run slow- it gave me plenty of time to eavesdrop on a beautiful scene,  I was completely drawn into their moment. 

I saw a man of average build and middle age, a red haired teenaged boy just passing through the gangly stage and a tall, thin teenaged girl, wearing full pads and helmet.  They were that much taller- due to their rollerbladed feet.   The three of them were laughing, hysterically.

The man could easily be identified as the father.  His bellowing laugh and out-stretched arms enveloped the girl as she stumble-rolled and scooted towards him.  He cooed over her falls and caught her by the elbow when the falls looked the most treacherous.  His words bouyed her back up to try again.  The teenaged boy rolled next to them-yelling “You got  it! You rock!  Keep going!”  the whole way.  

At one point- the girl fell down, hard. I heard her say “I can’t” in a tear -filled, childlike voice.   The boy threw himself down on the path, next to her.  She laughed. “Yeah, you can, see?  Everybody falls.”  Together, they struggled back to their feet.

As I pounded my way closer, I realized this was a very special family.

The girl didn’t have the typical teenaged air about her.  At first I thought she had just forgotten- teenagers do that sometimes- they forget to be all angst and attitude and then get embarrassed when they are caught.   As I got closer- I could tell, she hadn’t forgotten- she had simply never been there, she was developmentally challenged.

The love and encouragement they shared was palpable, something almost holy swirled around them, it was their love for each other.  As I passed around them, I had to join in to encourage her.  “You’re doing great!”  I puffed as I passed.  “You are too!”  She yelled back in response. 

Suddenly- My eyes filled with tears.  I kept running. 

“Was I, doing great?”  I doubted it.  I am often filled with self doubt and criticism.    I joke that as a follower of Jesus- I tend to be a little slow. If there were a remedial level class for Christianity, I’d be in it and would most likely,  flunk.   I get frustrated by my hypocrisy, struggles and doubts.  I feel like I’m in Jr High algebra class all over again.. there are things, I just don’t get.

I don’t get how a loving God can allow so much pain and hurt in the world.  I don’t get how I can love my enemy.  I don’t get how I can keep forgiving when I’m tired and angry.  I don’t get how to let God be in control when I never was in control in the first place.

To be honest- my sin, my doubt, my stumbling and falling, make me wonder sometimes how God can tolerate me.  As I ran past that special family.. and heard their encouraging words, and felt their love, I knew the truth. 

I am God’s developmentally delayed daughter. 

I had it all wrong.  I thought God must be like me:  critical, judgemental, easy to become frustrated.  He is not.  He is like that loving father and brother at the park.  He knows me and loves me anyways.  He shouts praise and encouragement, as I stumble and learn.  He stretches out His loving arms and envelops my doubt and shame.   He catches me, when I fall.  He heals the wounds and scraped knees of my life.  He sits down beside me, when I cry.   He does the same for you. 

Psalm 103