Jan 29, 2010

I just love me a little irony

Zoe came home with a stamp which read, "Terrific job" ... so why was I soooo upset??
Most of you know Zoe (4) was born with a severe cleft lip and palate. Both have been repaired (for now) but as severe as her cleft is, it affects speech and she will need continued surgeries over the years.  She also has a condition called Hemifacial Microsomia with Goldenhar Syndrome.   (No, there won't be a spelling quiz later.)  This means even more surgeries and more complications on her speech production.

Now don't get me wrong ... Zoe is doing great.  Her family and close friends understand probably 95% of what she says.  She has a full vocabulary, talks in paragraphs and whole stories.  She is on target for her language ... it's simply articulation.  She cannot PHYSICALLY make certain sounds.

But strangers can only understand maybe 10% and it needs to be closer to 50%.  She goes to speech therapy to help.  But that is only 30 minutes 2 times per week.

So I had this bright idea to put her in a K4 program.  It's only 3 hours per day but it forces her to speak.  They don't understand her so she will have to work harder in her articulation.  This is the ONLY reason I've sent her as she started the school year already meeting all the goals for the end of the year.  For example, on day one ... "By the end of the school year, you will be able to write your whole name, first and last." said the teacher.  Zoe thought she said: write your whole name, first and last.  So she did.  She held it up and said, "Like this?" :)

Monday was 1/2 way through the school year.  She came home with a stamp that said, "Terrific job".  I asked her, "What did you do to get this?"  She said, "I didn't talk."  Thinking she meant that she didn't talk when she was supposed to be quiet (like instruction time), I said, "Good job baby.  It's good that you follow directions and don't talk when the teacher is talking."

She was like, "Oh no Mommy, I didn't talk ALLLLL day!"  


Turns out she does this often.  She barely talks at all at school.  And when she DOESN'T talk, she is rewarded.  (Yes, the school was aware of why we put her there.)

Can you spell I R O N Y???  Think I need to go down to that school and have a little ... TALK.  

Jan 28, 2010

Keep on rolling

The kids' school does a skating night every other month.  They have been skating 4 times now and are not the best skaters but they keep trying. 

Jacob goes so s l o w l y ... he says it hurts too much to fall so he'd rather go slowly than get hurt.  I understand.

Kaley is pretty fast and rarely falls.  Her style is a bit unorthodox but that's part of what makes her "her". 

Sam is quick.  He takes a running start and doesn't mind falling.  He'll get right back up determined to go faster.  He says he likes it when he feels a bit out of control.

Luke falls a lot ... but he gets right back up again ... with a SMILE!  He laughs and it doesn't even slow him down, doesn't dampen his excitement in the least.

Zoe is like a turtle.  It takes her forever to get her 4 year old self around that rink and by the time she makes one loop, she's in a full out sweat.  She too falls and gets right back up with the most determined face ever.

My role?  I sit.  Though I love to skate, I find it better if I'm there at a table ready with snacks and drinks.  I can hear all their escapades.  I can kiss any boo-boos.  Then I send them right back out.

Tuesday night, we were skaking again.  The next table over from me was a mother, grandmother, grandfather and 1st grader. (Same as Luke.)  They were trying to coax him back on the floor.  He'd fallen twice and was too embarassed to go back out.  They didn't know I could hear them but they were pointing out MY kids to him as examples.  "See that one?  He keeps fallling and getting right back up."  etc.

Eventually, after MUCH coaxing, he went back on the floor and started to have fun. 

On the way home I told the kids what had happened.  I told them that people were watching them and they had been able to help someone just by being themselves.  I think a light went off in their heads.  They had NO clue people were watching.  They had NO clue they were good examples.  *I* knew that.  But now they know it too. 

My point?  People are ALWAYS watching.  What message are you sending?

Jan 27, 2010

Laps in the Desert

Ever considered the Israelites in the days of Moses?  They saw all these plagues one by one. They saw the death angel pass over their houses and spare their firstborn.  They were released from generations of slavery.  They took the riches of their former masters, the Egyptians (with their permission).  They went on a journey to the "Promised Land". 

Along the way they had some "hiccups".  The darned Pharoah changed his mind and started chasing after them ... but he and all his army drowned in the sea.  The Israelites walked on dry ground through the middle of the sea (probably piled 20 plus feet high on each side most commentaries say ... wonder if there were fish piled along the sides of the water ... but I digress). 

They eventually (after taking the "scenic route" not the direct route) get near the Promised Land.  12 spies are sent in and come back with a report.  10 of them say, "Aaaaugh, there are GIANTS in the land ... sure there's plenty of food and all but there are GIANTS!"  Only 2 say, "God can handle it."  The people believed the bad report.

As a result ... they did laps in the desert.  40 years of laps!  Wandering aimlessly.  No purpose. No place.  Just walking. 

Even during their walking, the miracles continued.  God ensured they had food every day.  They didn't like it, but it was food.  They got water.  They got quails.  Their shoes never got old.  (Can you imagine walking for 40 years and still having the same pair of shoes?) 

More laps. 

OK ... I don't know about you ... but I'm this thinker.  I would be wondering why we were walking and what EXACTLY the plan was.  (The old joke says that this wouldn't have happened if Moses would have just stopped and asked for directions at the 7/11.) 

Do you know someone who does this same thing though?  They do the same thing over and over and over again .... each time expecting different results?  Do you see them "doing laps in the desert"?  If it's not you, you probably can see it very clearly that all they have to do is X or Y and then they could stop making those laps. 

God sustained them, fed them, continued to do miracles for them ... even though they were not where He wanted them to be... just as He will do for you.  But He would have rathered been blessing them IN the Promised Land and that's what He wants for you too. 

But first, He wants to know ... are the Giants in the land bigger than God can handle?  Which report do YOU give about the giants in YOUR life? 

Think carefully ... we don't want to be making extra laps in the desert. 

Jan 25, 2010

The Right Elevator

A few months ago, I was headed to teach a class.  Loaded down with materials, snacks, drinks.  Push the button and one of the elevator doors opens. Get in. Start my ascent. Elevator stops. I am a cool person under pressure so I think, "This will just be a second."  As time goes on, I realize I could at least set my heavy bags down.  After a few more minutes, I decided to take a seat on the floor. 

Eventually, I start doing a survival guide thought checklist.  I had seen enough movies to know that elevators can plunge ... but I was only about 1 floor off the ground so even if it fell, I'd be fine.  I had drinks and snacks.  I had a phone and once it was 8 o'clock, I could call my office and tell them the situation (that was only about 10 more minutes).  I had a book I could read.  I even thought about how I could use my cup to pee in if I had to.  And if it got too hot, I could always take off my shirt ... I worried how long it would take to get it back on if the doors opened up though.  But I had a plan of action.

I enjoyed a few peaceful moments before someone from the building yells, "Is anyone in this elevator?"  And I shouted back.  She F R E A K E D out!  She started running around like an idiot, calling 911, calling the maintenance people, calling everyone in the building.  She checked on me like every 10 seconds in this panicked voice.  I kept assuring her I was fine!  (Later I realized she was acting like she would have had SHE been in the elevator ... apparently I wasn't acting appropriately as I wasn't freaked out.) 

Time passed and the door finally opened.  I gathered my things (I didn't need the pee cup or to remove my top).  When she asked how I was so calm, I told her I have 5 kids and that was the first time I'd been by myself in forever.  I was enjoying the time alone.

But the truth is ... I was calm partly because of my action plan.  But mostly, a long time ago I gave my steps over to God.  It would be natural to think, "I got in the wrong elevator".  And there were many times when I questioned if I was on the right "elevator" of life.  I would feel overwhelmed that I couldn't possibly handle the challenge He set before me. 

For example, here are just some of the times I felt I was on the wrong elevator:  adopting 2 special needs children at once (newborn and toddler) as a brand new parent; losing a child; losing a baby; business went under; had to sell our home; taking in 2 more children with special needs; losing more than half of our church; etc etc. 

But somewhere along the way, I started to trust that when I said, "Please order my steps" that He did.  God gave me a line to a song I wrote which says, "You have a purpose for my life and You are shaping me, Lord."  And I started to 'get it'.  I started to act as if I knew, TRULY Believed that God has a purpose for ME.  That He is shaping me in a particular shape. 

So as I face a health challenge currently, as I face more surgeries for Zoe, as we still struggle with the economy (Dan's business is tied to real estate), as I figure out how to start and run an orphanage in China ... I get my action plan together.  I KNOW I'm on the right elevator. 

What about you?  Are YOU on the ride of your life? 

Jan 22, 2010

What's the title of YOUR book?

I was evaluating a class on Monday night ... Session 11 of a Dale Carnegie Class and I am responsible for helping the new trainer become certified to teach.  For those of you familiar, 11 B is "Emotional Power" and it's always one of my favorite sessions. 

We encourage people to talk with their hearts and not just their heads.  Over the years, I have heard some of the most powerful talks you could imagine.  Many, many stick in my head for years.  Some I will never forget. 

This time was no different.  People shared moments in their lives - sad or happy, grabbed opportunities or missed ones.  I am always struck by the thought that EVERY message involves relationship with someone else.  The birth of a child, the death of a mentor, the sickly mother, the brother who just OD'ed.  Every story involves an interaction with another human being.

At the end of the talk, we ask people to give advice.  I heard the familiar themes of living life to the full, making each moment count, etc.  But I also heard something put in a new way this time:

Every moment not spent on love is wasted.

That struck a chord with me.  I thought about my life and how intuitively that is what I'm trying to do.  Whether it's spending that extra few minutes with Kaley before I put her to bed, rocking Zoe when I have dishes to do, sneaking that extra cookie to Lukey when no one else sees.  I'm also building the rest of the world that way too ... time at church, counseling on the phone, giving advice on the internet, and creating a non-profit to help share the love of God the Father with His children in China.  I felt a peace that yes, I AM on the right track. 

The other advice that struck me was:

Live your life in such a way that if it was a book, people would want to read it.

That makes a lot of sense to me.  So many people live this careful, planned, "perfect" life.  It's almost as if they're trying to get no bumps, dirt, bruises.  But they also have no adventure, no "life".  Their clinical calculations make their life sterile.  Who would want to read THAT book???  Not me!  And I certainly don't want to live it. 

I'm NOT talking about being crazy, illegal, immoral, etc.  There is another ditch on the other side too, of course.  But most of us lean towards the "safe" side.  Me included ... or at least, the OLD me did.  But lately, I've been doing the jump off the cliff thing.  I'm doing the it's way bigger than I can handle thing. 

My new model (since about 2 years ago) is - if I have the choice between DO or NOT DO, I choose DO! 

So hearing this advice made me realize I was on the right path for this too.  I have a feeling that if my life was a book, people would want to read it! 

I can't wait to see how this chapter unfolds and what other chapters of my life are yet ahead. 

What about YOU?  What is YOUR book about? If you don't like it, you stil have time to change the title of the next chapter. 

Jan 21, 2010

Thinking Big?

How does one go from thinking/acting small to thinking/acting BIG?  I mean really big? 

2 years ago I had this idea to take some shoes to some kids in China.  Seems little, easy.  It was.  But even that grew into a fairly large project.  But I could get my mind around it. 

Right now, I cannot even begin to comprehend what all it is going to take to pull these projects off that are on my plate.  And I know I think too small ... so how do I think BIGGER? 

For example, I told one of Zoe's doctors about the project (she asked what we're up to these days and I shared a bit of it).  And I thought she'd do the "that's nice" thing but instead she said she is the medical director for a group of doctors who organize surgery missions trips and would LOVE to help.  See?  I was thinking little, not big. 

I know I need some computers, school supplies, etc. for the school project.  I used to buy it myself or ask my friends to pitch in.  But we're talking LOTS of computers, LOTS of school supplies, etc.  I need corporations, churches, organizations, etc.  But how does one figure out how to get the info to them and what info they need and how to present it to them and who to ask, etc. etc. 

I need funding for the Zoe house ... we need "stuff" of course and renovations, but we also need to be able to pay the nannies in money.  We need to pay the doctors' bills in money.  We need to pay rent for the house, etc.  So we need a regular source of money coming in.  Where does one even go about finding such funding?  Beats me. 

Why?  Because I think like a Mom.  I have the passion, the desire.  I see the need.  I can clearly articulate the need.  But that doesn't necessarily translate into funding/donation giving unless I talk to the right people, churches and corporation contacts. 

I've tried "willing" myself into a bigger thinker.  Trust me, it doesn't work. 

You got any ideas for me and how to expand my thinking?  If so, I'm all ears!

Jan 19, 2010

Teachers in Taiyuan

Lately, things in my life have a way of getting big ... fast. I have this little idea and then before I know it, it's HUGE and out of control and I'm off on a rollercoaster ride of a lifetime. (Just the way I like it, by the way.)

The latest thing like this happened last week.  I was thinking about how to help the school in Taiyuan.  They need quite a few things and it's up to me to figure out how to get the donations, get the supplies, get the people to help, etc. 

Out of the clear blue, this idea pops into my head about having teachers go with me to help do some of the work.  I know they would think it a trip of a lifetime to go to China - to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc. I also believe they would love to do the altruistic part of this trip.  I mentioned it to one of the teachers (just to test the waters) and she was immediately excited.  She shared it with a few teachers and they are excited too.

I also know that teachers do not make enough money to be able to go on this kind of trip.  It will be about $2000 for everything - flight, in country travel, food, hotel, guides, etc.  (I have this process down pretty good by now with all the trips I made and contacts I now have.)  But where in the world are teachers going to be able to come up with $2000??  (Details of the trip are at http://www.destinyscrossing.com/teachers_in_taiyuan.html)

The next issue I have is ... where do we get the supplies we need for the school?  The list is long and expensive.  http://www.destinyscrossing.com/current_needs.html

The biggest need (besides money of course) is connections.  Think about your network of family and friends.  Do you know of someone who works for a company who has a supplier in China?  Do they have supplies we might need for the school?  Would they be willing to donate some items?

Also, would you like to give money or airline miles or hotel points, etc. so a teacher could go on a trip of a lifetime?   If so, go to the link and see how you can donate. 

Feel free to forward this on to people you think might be able to help.


Jan 10, 2010

Crying Wolf

You know the story of the little boy who cried wolf?  He kept saying something bad was happening so that when something bad really did happen, no one believed him. 

I have a little boy who does this same thing.  Sorta.

Sam.  He's 8 now but he's always been a bit out of proportion of his pain expression to pain experience ratio.  He would bump his knee, no blood, nothing and he would act like his leg had been amputated.  At first I wondered if he was more internally injured than it appeared but I noticed he would quickly recover.  Then I wondered if he just had a low pain tolerance.  Frustrating to say the least. 

There are times I probably appear cold and heartless to him.  He is expressing this HORRIBLE pain and I treat him like it's no big deal.  (Even hubby has expressed his concern over my lack of concern for him.)  But what *I* know is that he does this.  He acts like it's a 10 pain when it's really a 2 pain. 

On top of it, he gets hysterical quickly.  I do things to immediately get him back in control of his emotions.  It works.  He always tells me later that I was right and that he was getting emotionally out of control and that his pain was pretty little but he was acting like it was huge.  But to the observer, this is probably a bit barbaric what I do.

Friday night, Sam wakes up coughing and then SCREAMING in pain.  Dan gets there before I do and is trying to sort things out.  Determines it's his ear.  Dan had a similar pain (worst of his life) a few years ago and the Ask a nurse said warm olive oil.  I go in and think it's possible he has this bad of a pain.  But I also know it's possible it's just a mild pain and he is getting emotionally worked up so I calm him down.  It immediately works.  Dan says I'm not handling it right, that I'm telling him he's making it up (which I was not).  I just needed him to be in charge of his emotions. 

I get him calmed down. I give him pain pills, Dan does the oil. I go back to sleep (I'm sick with the flu and it is 1:15am).  Dan stays in there with him until 2am when Sam finally falls to sleep.

All through Saturday, I check out his ear.  No infection. No blood. No pain.  Nothing.  He's completely fine.  We think it's over.

Saturday night I'm the sickest I've been.  Sam cries.  Dan deals with him.  Turns out ... all through the night, he is pouring warm oil in Sam's ear.  Nothing is helping.  Dan is exhausted.  I'm thankful for a good nights sleep. 

This morning (Sunday), Dan tells me it was Sam's OTHER ear.  WHAT?  Now something doesn't add up.  Something is completely wrong in this equation.  I feel it in my gut.  I call Sam to my bed and ask him what hurts, how much, where, what the type of pain it is, etc.  He admits that his pain is only about a 2 but was acting like it was a 10.  I feel around in his ears and he doesn't even flinch.  NO ear pain. 

I do the math and figure it out.  So what's the problem?  He's cutting his back bottom molars. That's it.  Dan has gotten no sleep for the past 2 nights thinking this was a severe ear pain - like a ruptured eardrum.  Turns out ... just cutting 2 teeth. 

My concern?  One of these days, I fear he will have a huge pain and I will not know if he's just crying wolf.