Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book Review: Rex

I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

God does have a plan. He can be trusted, but sometimes the circumstances of life make that plan hard to see. Cathleen Lewis discovered this firsthand through the life of her son, Rex.

As the cover proclaims, Rex is the story of “a mother, her autistic child, and the music that transformed their hearts.” The book recounts the discovery of Rex’s challenging disabilities, blindness and autism.

It shares the ups and downs of dealing with those disabilities: the hard, debilitating, “I can’t go on moments” as well as the shining moments of hope and progress. Many times these moments walked hand in hand causing Cathleen to learn over and over to walk by faith not by sight.

It tells the story of a mother who was willing to stand-up and advocate for her son. To fight for his right to be educated in a way that worked for him.

And it shares the astonishing, miraculous discovery of Rex’s musical ability. Rex struggled to communicate as he grew up. He struggled to read Braille and even speak. But, when it came to music and the piano, Rex was set free. Able to play back complicated musical pieces with ease, change keys and even change the feel of a song (i.e. to play it like Chopin, or a waltz, or even a Russian dance) Rex continually amazed those who happened to hear him play (including 60 minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl).

Cathleen writes in a way any mother can relate to. She tells her story in a way that will tear at your heartstrings and leave you inspired. I would recommend this book to anyone, but think that mother’s of special needs children would be especially encouraged by this story.

At its heart Rex shares the journey of a mother. A mother who learns to trust and hope in the most difficult of times and is given an example of what love and joy truly are through the unexpected gift of her son, Rex.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Glorified Babysitter or Building Walls?

The comment was made at bible study last week, "I want to be more than a glorified babysitter."

Do you ever feel that way as a mom, like a glorified babysitter?

I do.

I had to think, what is the difference between a mom (or dad) and a glorified babysitter?

The answer I came up with was intentionality.

Intentionality in teaching my kids about Jesus. Intentionality in discipline. Intentionality in shaping their character.

Am I being intentional as I raise my kids?

Some days, but I could do better.

A friend once said that her goal is to build the walls of character and truth around her children in times of peace so that when the battles come they will stand strong.

I love the word picture that conjures up.

I want to do that, but sometimes I get lost in the how.

One idea our family wants to implement this year is "Family Night". Basically we want to take one night a week to teach our kids a biblical truth using object lessons and games (there are a lot of books available that make this idea a lot less intimidating). We want this to be a fun night (which means ice cream or some other fun treat is a must).

That is one idea, but I want more!

I would love to hear your thoughts. How are you intentionally building walls in times of peace around the heart of your child so they will stand strong when the battles come?

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Almost Time!!!

Its almost time for one of my favorite events of the year!

If you are a mom and could use a healthy dose of encouragement, this event is for you.

On March 13 & 14 approx 6000 moms will be invading the ISU campus in Bloomington, IL for the annual

Hearts at Home Conference!!!
This year's theme is Real Moms, Real Lives, Real Stories and the keynotes are Dr. Kevin Leman and Jill Savage.

(By the way, it is a one-day conference held two days in a row, so if you can only make it for one day - perfect!)

The farther I've gotten into this motherhood journey, the more kids we've accumulated and the older they have gotten, the more I have needed this conference every year. The best part is, I never leave disappointed. Instead, I walk out feeling encouraged and inspired to be a better mom.

The workshops offered cover every age and stage of motherhood. There really is something for everyone at this conference. I hope you'll consider joining me there.

For more information, head to the Hearts at Home website.

If you have any questions, feel free to use the "e-mail me" link on the side of my blog or leave a comment. I hope to see you all there!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Good Day

On the surface, it seemed like a good day. I accomplished a lot. The house was dusted and vacuumed. Two out of three bathrooms had been cleaned. Bills had been payed. Children fed, changed and cleaned. My to-do list for the day was covered with the good kind of check-marks.

I had accomplished a lot without yelling at my kids. It seemed like a good day.

And yet, something was missing.

Yes, I made a dent in my to-do list, but at what cost?

Looking back, I realized I missed the most important moments of the day.

I never sat down and read books to my kids.

When my daughter came to give me a hug, I returned one half-heatedly and moved on to my next job.

When my son asked to play trains, I replied, "maybe later." But playing trains was not on my to-do list and it never got done.

It had seemed like a good day.

Yet, It could have been so much better.

I might not have gotten as much accomplished from the "keeping-house" point of view, but then their are more important things than keeping house.

Items that did not happen to be on my to-do list like strengthening relationships, living in the moment and creating memories could have been checked off instead.

My balance was off that day.

But today is a new day!

Today I will not be so works focused that I forget to be relationship focused.

Today I will not be so consumed with my to-do list that I forget to live in the moment.

Today I will not sacrifice creating memories with my children in order to clean another bathroom.

And as I read that last line, I have to wonder, "What in the world was I thinking!"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why we should NOT adopt - Reason #3

Reason #3: Adoption sounds scary. What if I don't love our adopted child enough? What if our personalities clash? What if she doesn't fit in with our family? (for reason # 1 & # 2 go here)

I have to say, the further I get into this adoption process, the less scared I feel.

Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments. But even in the midst of the moments when I think, "What in the world are we doing?" "Are we crazy?!" "Will I love this child?", I have a peace deep down. It calms me and reminds me that God knows what we are doing, we are not crazy and yes, we will love this child.

In fact, I already do.

The love and excitement I feel for this little girl who has probably not been born, is nothing short of a miracle. It is a work of God.

I have a feeling it may be even more miraculous once we have our little girl home and real life sets in.

It is easy to be in love with the idea of adoption and a little girl I have not yet met. After all, what's not to love? But once she is home and throws tantrums and has sleepless nights will she still be as easy to love? What if we don't bond quickly? Will she still be as easy to love?

That is when the miracle of love will become obvious. It may not appear as a feeling (feelings come and go), but we are committed to loving this little girl. She is ours. She was meant to be a part of our family. We are not complete without her.

I know God will continue to strengthen my love for this child that I have never met throughout this crazy adoption process. I know he won't stop strengthening that bond once we have her home.

He is, after all, the creator of love. I think He can do it!

Friday, January 09, 2009

This Kid Can Eat!

The other night we had sloppy joe sandwiches for dinner.

The older kids each ate one 1/2 of a sandwich.

The baby ate one and a 1/2 sandwiches.

That's right, the baby ate as much as the older three kids combined.

Watch out grocery budget, this kid can eat!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

10 Things I Learned in Florida

1. Sleeping children make a 19 hour car ride much more enjoyable. Awake but happy children are also enjoyable. However, whining and crying young ones can make 10 minutes seem like an hour.

2. Florida is the condo. The condo is Florida. When we are driving around Naples we are not in Florida. "I'm right mom," says the 3 year old (just in case you don't believe me).
3. Sand castles are fun, but Sand Mermaids are better (thanks Aunt Leslie).

4. New Years Eve is much more fun when you have good friends to share it with. Especially when husbands clean up the kitchen, take the kids down to the pool for ice cream and let the moms and sisters sit at the table and talk! Fireworks you can see from the condo are also a plus.

5. Parks are just as fun in Florida as they are in Illinois.

6. You can make snow angels in the sand. Snow men, however, are a little harder.

7. It is possible (with only 3 kids) to make over 10 trips to the pool bathroom in one hour. Sad, but true. 8. Even trains need naps in Florida. 9. It is much easier to brave the waves and reach the sand bar when you have a friend beside you. 10. Even though there is no place like home, no one likes to leave Florida.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


So we made it home from Florida.

Driving. Through the night. With a one-year old who had a double ear infection. And we are all in one piece with no serious damage...


I did get a little sick on the last stretch of our journey home and that sickness has lingered for longer than I would prefer (I'm just starting to feel better and we got home on Sunday).

So, I have been staring at piles of Christmas presents that need to be put away, luggage that needs to be unpacked, and Christmas decorations that need to be taken down for the past two days.

Feeling nauseous

and overwhelmed.

With no motivation to do anything about it.

All the while trying to pretend that I never wrote that last post about "new days" so I can continue to do nothing about it.

Not that I'm complaining or anything, we did just spend a glorious week in Florida with near-perfect weather.

Okay, so maybe I am complaining.

And for the record, what I would really like right now...

is a vacation in Florida!

Friday, January 02, 2009

A New Day

Originally posted January 3, 2008

I always feel motivated this time of year.

A new year, a new month, a new day. Bringing out a fresh calendar and making my new year's resolutions.

The problem is, my motivation can quickly morph into no motivation as cabin fever sets in and new year's resolutions get broken.

What changes that makes my motivation dwindle so much between January 1 and January 22?
Really there is no difference between the days. Each is a new day. One just happens to be the first day of the year, but the day itself is no different.

I am what changes, more specifically my attitude is what changes. I think if I could keep the "New Year" attitude everyday, I would get a lot done!

I need to remember what Miss Stacy told Anne of Green Gables, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." So, even if I break my resolutions today, I can always begin again tomorrow.

Every day is a fresh start and a clean slate.

That is an attitude I want to have year round.

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.Lamentations 3:22-23