Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MAKE IT LESS POINTY: A toddler's list of complaints


It seems my sweet barnacle boy is no longer content to hang onto a piece of my flesh for dear life.

Now, at 2 years old and change, he must have a piece of my flesh and his cheese sandwiches cut into perfect squares. If there is anything less  than a 90-degree angle on that sandwich, this happens:



When I ask him not to play with steak knives, this happens:



When I tell him it is not trash day and the trash trucks will not be coming by,  this happens:


The kid has serious complaints.  I cannot even hear him scream anymore. In fact, as I write this, he is screaming because I won't allow him to put his slice of pizza in the toilet. It is starting to sound like music--the type of music young people without children listen to at a bar. (Sigh. When can I go to bar?)

Since he is still illiterate (I know, I know I need to invest in "My Baby Can Read" ), I compiled his  top five list of real troubles (the above are just minor annoyances):

Note: each of these cause an immediate loss of motor skills, back arching and bat-shit crazy kicking and screaming.  

1. Shoes
Apparently shoes are "HOT" and "NOOOOO" He is so anti-shoe, that he has spent hours attempting to pry the shoes off his Spiderman wall decal and occasionally finds shoes just to throw at me in protest. He also demands that everyone remove their shoes upon entry to the home, at Target and at piano lessons.

Now that's hot. (I wonder who will get ringworm first,  him or me?)

2. Doc McStuffins

Apparently my two-year-old has uncovered the shocking truth: Doc McStuffins is not licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey.  Before the first line of "It's time for a check-up" is complete, he cannot handle the hypocrisy. If he sees Doc in the toy box, he smacks her with a choo-choo.  You can hear his battle cry of  "NOT MY DOOOOOCK," two states over.

Didn't you know that Doc McStuffins is a snake oil salesgirl? Look for the shocking reveal and Doc McStuffins take down on a very special episode of Paw Patrol and whatever you do, DO NOT MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH HER.

3. Car Seats that are modern and up to safety ratings 

That gorgeous and safe $7 million car seat we bought and the other lovely car seat we were gifted that is rated for crashes and impact--those are OFFENSIVE. None of that new-fangled modern stuff for my toddler.

He prefers the Pink flowered Britax seat that expired in 2006. The new car seats make him suspicious and are "NOT MINE BABY CAR SEAT I TRY. NOT MINE BABY CAR SEAT I TRY. NOT MINE BABY CAR SEAT  I TRY."

Did I tell you that they are not his baby car seat I try?

4. Diaper Changes

Even if poop is falling out of his diaper or if he happens to reach in his diaper and scoop some samples out, that is all preferable to wipes and clean diapers. Ever the environmentalist, he does not want any unnecessary diaper changes. Nor does he want to use the potty, because that is where you keep your pizza.  Even when the poop and pee is leaving a trail,  he is "I am okay! BYE!! NO HIDE SHHHH". It is a JOY to chase a poop-y toddler around midday when sober. It does not get any better at 8 pm, after a glass of wine.

If you need me, I am hiding, SHHHH!

5. Sitting to eat.

Chairs are made for pushing around and using to climb onto the counter to get a steak knife. Chairs are not made for eating. If you ask him to sit once, well, then you will get a handful of kale salad (that is covered in ketchup) thrown at your face.

If you ask him to sit a second time, well, then he just climbs on the table and sits in the salad bowl.

After all, "mama did ask. I try salad."

However, you know what makes it all okay? This:

"Mama, I a quack. quack."


It's okay kid, complain all you want, you are so darn cute, you carry it well.





Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Black Coffee and Lemonade

Today, I had the privilege of speaking to a room full of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation corporate sponsors. The professionals in that room do not just excel at business, they excel at funding hope, sharing and raising awareness of the need for childhood cancer research and toasting hope with a cup of Alex's Lemonade. 

They are among my favorite people in the world. The story, I shared, well, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of the hope Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has given our family. Alex's has always been the light and the good, in the darkness that is childhood cancer.  The day I first listened to Liz Scott speak, was the day I truly began to hope and to live again.

My Hero. My Lily. 
Here is my speech. And don't forget, Lily's BIG Grand Lemonade Stand is June 6th. Save the date. Tell your friends. Share the hope and pass the lemonade. 

(Psst. . .you can donate online here.)


Black coffee. 

Eight years ago, give or take a couple months, all I wanted was black coffee.

We were about 3 weeks into our stay at the CHOP PICU. The PICU, as you can imagine, is not a place you want to stay. It is a place where there are monsters under every bed and hiding in the corners. It is a place every call of “staff emergency” is followed by the sound of running feet and yelling voices. It is the front lines of a war; a prison; a place where having hope comes with conditions. 

And eight years ago, my hope was lost. I just wanted a cup of black coffee to help me process what new horrors the team of PICU doctors would tell me during rounds. 

My husband and I were there for our daughter Lily. Lily was 14 months old. She was a baby. Lily had a brain tumor. 

Six weeks earlier, Lily began vomiting at random times throughout the day. The first time was in a car driving from Miami to Key West. We had been on the plane all day. I was feeding her baby food in the back seat. We thought motion sickness. Then it kept happening. We thought a stomach bug, then we were told by our pediatrician that it was a bladder infection.  Suddenly, Lily could not crawl or sit up without support and was holding her head to the side. 

Finally, our pediatrician sent us to the CHOP ER. We knew. She knew. We all knew.  This was not something antibiotics would cure.

At the CHOP ER, Lily had a CT scan. I remember the moment all the doctors came into the ER cubicle with the results. While I was blowing raspberries on Lily’s belly; they were calling neurosurgery and already had a surgery time: 1 pm the next day. 

My daughter, my 14-month-old, had a brain tumor. She needed surgery the next day to survive. Before I could even ask about surgery and all the possible side effects and consequences,  a nurse began hanging IV bags filled with what she called the “brain tumor cocktail”— a set of drugs designed to minimize brain swelling and ease the inflammation caused by hydrocephalus. Lily’s tumor, 3 cm and located behind her cerebellum precariously close to her brain stem, was blocking the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. 

During surgery, Lily had multiple blood transfusions. Four hours later, the tumor was removed, completely. The diagnosis was ependymoma, the third most common type of brain tumor in children. The tumor had been attached to Lily’s 4th ventricle and our doctor was able to remove it in its entirety because it was not touching her brain stem.

 After surgery Lily could not sit, stand or crawl or walk. I was terrified to pick her up because her vertigo was so extreme. It took months before she could army crawl again; and it would be years before she could walk on her own. 

Eight years ago, we were residents in the PICU because of a post-op meningitis scare. A spinal tap had shown traces of bacteria in Lily’s cerebral spinal fluid. We were waiting for bacteria to grow in a petri dish. We were waiting for meningitis. 

So back to that day, that day, eight years ago, when I just wanted black coffee. 

I was in a bad, bad place. For weeks, we would tell our family and friends: “We are hoping to go home soon! We are hoping Lily beats this! It is really terrifying, but we are hoping to have a plan soon. We are hoping. . .we are hoping, but. . 

We had hope, with conditions. Hope that was tarnished by a deep, deep fear that our child would be lost before she even had a chance to learn how to walk. Before she went to preschool. Before she read a book. Before she lived a life. 

It was that day—the day I was at the rock bottom. It was June 2007, Lemonade Days. All the CHOP campuses host lemonade stands during Lemonade Days. On this particular lemonade day, there was a press conference and celebration in the main Atrium. 

My husband had been a fan of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation long before childhood cancer touched our lives. On that day, I wanted black coffee—just one cup to make me feel normal. Mike, my husband, wanted Lemonade. I agreed to leave the PICU and head down for my coffee and maybe, just maybe one cup of lemonade.

When I got downstairs, it was like a party. I remember thinking: really? don’t these people know where they are? Children are upstairs fighting for their lives. Please just get me to the cafeteria for my coffee. I remember thinking, why must I endure all these yellow balloons and cheery, hopeful people.

I just wanted coffee. 

Then I heard Liz Scott, who was speaking at the press conference, say there is hope.

Hope in the form of research. Hope in the form of new treatment protocols and therapies. Hope in the form of more survivors. Hope in the form of lemonade.

Hope. 

Hearing Liz,  a mother who had every right to be hopeless, tell me there was hope, those were the words I needed to hear. 

After all, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is the expert on hope.

I immediately ditched my plan of getting a cup of black coffee and spent a week’s salary on lemonade, t-shirts, books and pins. 

I drank my lemonade and bought more. I began passing out little lemon pins to everyone who visited Lily in the hospital. I began to tell everyone, We have hope. 

No conditions. 

Those cultures in the petri dish never grew, but my hope, our hope, kept growing.  Lily was finally released about two weeks later. A few weeks after that,  we went to MD Anderson in Texas for 6 weeks of proton radiation. 

Lily just celebrated her 9th birthday on Friday. She is hope, realized. 

Lily has been cancer-free since August 2007, when her treatment ended. In those 8 years, Lily has had countless hours of PT, OT, yoga, therapeutic horseback riding, tutoring, learning assessments, follow up scans and evaluations.  Lily did not walk on her own until she was nearly 4 years old—when she finally took off—it was in the handbag department at Nordstrom. Some of the side effects of her brain tumor and treatment will always be there—issues with short term memory, handwriting and fine motor skills, coordination and concentration. But, none of that is insurmountable when you have a cup of lemonade in your hand. 

Today, Lily is a dancer—ballet and hip hop. An aspiring field hockey player, a singer, a Girl Scout, a pianist, a third grader. She wants to be an artist when she grows up. I think she is already the most beautiful piece of art on the planet. 

Lily lives. Hope lives in every cup of Alex’s Lemonade.

Each year, our family holds a lemonade stand in honor of Lily, with the deepest belief that we will find a cure for childhood cancer. This year, our 7th lemonade stand, will be a Grand Stand, held at Lindenwold Park in our town. For the past three years, our goal has been to raise $10,000 at each stand and it is a goal we have surpassed with the generous support of our family, friends, colleagues and community. This year, we hope to raise $14,000 more. 

Lily is hope. Lily is the result of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Lily’s story is why our family holds a Lemonade Stand each year. Lily is why each of you have dedicated your company’s efforts to finding a cure—a cure that grows as hope grows, one cup at a time. 

Thank you. Thank you for supporting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Thank you for growing hope. Thank you for Lily. 







Thursday, March 12, 2015

Infinity: To Lily on her 9th Birthday

I've always loved the number 9--the trifecta of threes. Turn it upside down it is 6; complete the flow of the numeral and add another loop and you have infinity.

Infinity. That is the number of times my Lily has made me smile--infinity times infinity times infinity.

She is the one person who taught me about true joy and hope. The one beautiful soul who made me smile from the inside out. Not just that fake picture smile or that quick laughter smile--the smile that originates from somewhere down deep and just won't be squashed.

The type of smile that never fades.

The first time Lily made me smile was the first time I felt her kick. It was during "The Chicken Dance" at a work party in San Diego. I was traveling. I was not dancing the Chicken Dance. I was sad and lonely and stressed out and irritated by my least favorite song.

Then, my best girl, danced and kicked and well, it was perfection. I never felt alone again.

The time Lily was born, I was so sick. I was struggling precariously to stay alive--while she was struggling to learn to be alive. The moment she was born, she cried--a loud, fierce battle cry.

And when things seemed so dark, she make me smile again and again. Late the night she was born, I was confined to my hospital bed. To see Lily, Mike had to bring me videotapes of her--of her breathing.

The rise and fall of her tiny chest on her tiny 2 pound 14 ounce body, kept me smiling until I could see her in person one day later.

Lily made me smile when she first smiled and laughed. She made me smile when I was scared out of my mind, waiting for the results of an emergency CT scan that I knew would be horrific. When Lily had to have a brain tumor resected, I feared she would never smile again.

Of course, she smiled at me a few hours after waking up from surgery. She smiled at me when the room was spinning because of her severe vertigo. She smiled at me when the other preschoolers her age were running round the playground and she had to hold my hand to get around.

Lily held my hand at every doctor's appointment and every blood pressure check when I was pregnant with her sister. She made me smile when it was clear her sister would also be premature. And she made me smile when I would spend hours pumping milk for Chloe--shouting "Milk come out!"

When I was ready to give up, Lily made it easy. She made me smile through the stress and the pain and the fear.

Lily's smile has saved my life over and over and over again. Every morning, when she smiles at me, it is like new life filling my soul. She smiles before her routine MRIs and she smiles at me when I stand in front of a crowd of hundreds of people telling her story. Lily makes me smile with her laugh and her love and joy.

She fills my heart with joy when she stumbles over the right keys on the piano; but does not stop until she gets it right. She makes me smile when she spend hours working on the splits and nights sneaking upstairs to read Charlotte's Web and write short stories. She makes me smile just by saying my name-- "Momma, Mom, Mommy."

Lily's smiles are infinite. My joy for that child is infinite.

To my brave, strong, beautiful girl on her 9th birthday,  I wish you a lifetime of infinite joy, a legacy of smiles and more love than you have room for in your heart.


Monday, March 9, 2015

The BIG announcement: WE ARE MOVING!

That's right, we are moving.

Immediately (well, if you consider immediately to be a non-specific term to describe a time that might be now or later or really later.)

We are moving to Hawaii. Or Arizona (however not the Navajo Nation). Or Puerto Rico, Guam or American Samoa.

(I considered parts of Asia, South America, Southeastern Australia and Africa. However, I am too exhausted to get the boy a passport.)

I have to get out of this place that recognizes and celebrates DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.

I simply do not fit in.

Sunday, I woke up confident that my iPhone made the necessary adjustments to the time. We had already decided to skip church, in honor of Daylight Savings Time, and loaf around in our pajamas (complaining about Daylight Savings Time while my middle kid complained about missing church and my oldest complained about watching Paw Patrol while the boy complained there was not enough yogurt. TOTAL BLISS!).

I looked at my phone and had HOURS and HOURS before I had to be somewhere. It was amazing.

Then suddenly, I looked at my phone again and I had LOST TIME.

THE TIME DISAPPEARED.

WHERE DID IT GO?

(To Guam? To Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation?)???)

Suddenly, I had approximately 5 minutes to get myself dressed and together. BECAUSE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME STOLE MY TIME.

Today, Monday (I think? Who knows? It seems we live in the land time forgot or we are living BACK TO THE FUTURE or something.), I began my day unclear if it was actually the day or the night.

At Panera, the cashier was unable to tell me if it was breakfast or lunch. I think I ate broccoli and cheese soup for breakfast.  No one could tell me if this was appropriate or strange. THEY HAD NO IDEA.

It was like everyone's mind was erased by DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.

Then I looked at the clock in my car. It read:

6:33

I HAVE NO IDEA IF IT WAS THE MORNING OR THE EVENING!! I still had my sunglasses on.

I am not sure if it was actually 6:33. It could be 7:33. It could be 5:33. It could be another time entirely. There are so many clocks that I cannot remember if I've changed them.

Is it day? Is it night? Is it coffee time? Or Gin and Tonic time? Is it Monday? Is it Sunday?  Are we in the Southern Hemisphere? Have we moved to Guam, already? Is it 2015? Or is it 1985 and we have to get back to the future? OR WORSE, IS IT THE FUTURE AND WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO 1985?

Just what happened when I went to sleep on Saturday night?

Damn you, Daylight Savings Time. And HELLO to you, Arizona (except not the Navajo Nation) or Guam or Hawaii or American Samoa or Puerto Rico! You are the only places where I can always know what the time is and where I can probably enjoy frosty drinks poolside all year round.

Who needs time when you are poolside in January?

P.S.Daylight Savings Time has caused me to complain on a Monday. So it is THURSDAY? I just don't know. 



Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Weekly Whine (With Free Wine Coupon INSIDE!)

It has been a week.

A WEEK.

It seems like a year. On Monday, I promised that this week's edition of all my complaints and whines would be really good. I lost steam somewhere between being summoned to truancy court and dealing with accusations that yoga is devil worship.

I am a very busy person, apparently.

I know your curiosity has been piqued. . .I mean who wouldn't be on the edge of their seat when they hear whispers of legal drama and satanic worship!

Without further complaint, here's the weekly whine and the list of things that make me irate:

1. Weekend Mail
On Saturday, the U.S. Postal Service still insists on delivering mail. Maybe you think this is amazing--maybe you get big fat checks in the mail or announcements that some great great great uncle you never knew is dead and left you his fortune or you have a secret admirer who sends you heartfelt greeting cards that are not filled with glitter.

You know what I got: a court summons. For truancy. A nonsense, mixed-up, ludicrous  summons.

You know what else I got: agitated. I remained agitated all weekend long, until Monday, when I could storm into the school and fix the problem.

You know what the officials at the school got: 400 agitated emails with exclamation points and random words capitalized for emphasis.

I will be sending my letter of thanks to U.S. Postal Service--perhaps they will get it on a weekend and get that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you open a card with a cute cat reminding you to "Hang in There."

2. The word: PLEASE
I do recognize that is important to teach our children how to communicate and speak and even use polite words (obviously). BUT, I hate the word "Please." It is not the "Magic Word," unless you consider whining, manipulation, screaming and yelling to be magical.

My 8 year old uses the word "PLEASE," to express her disgust at my intervention into her social life, as in "PUH-LEASE MOTHER."

My 6 year old uses the word "PLEASE," while whining for more glitter hair spray and smacking my leg for attention, while.  .

My 2 year old is screaming "PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" while rigid on the floor and squeezing $500 organic yogurt all over his last clean pair of pants.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE come up with a new word. Anything other than PLEASE.

3. Captain Obvious
This week, I've spotted Captain Obvious everywhere I go! Captain Obvious is very busy and very irritating. He is also a she and she is also a he. Captain Obvious knows no bounds--man, woman, child, all nationalities and creeds and races. Captain Obvious is infinity times infinity and he/she/it loves to tell me such INSIGHTFUL gems like:

+Your son does not have shoes on and it is cold.
+Your son does not have pants on and it is 20 degrees.
+Your son has a runny nose and it is February.
+Your son is wearing a bathing suit and it is snowing.

Notice a pattern? Captain OBVIOUS is OBVIOUSLY obsessed with my son and the weather. I want a restraining order!  I also wonder if Captain Obvious has a pal named Admiral Stupid Head or Duke Von Shut Up?

4. Pat Robertson's Yoga Classes
Just watch this and please do not ever go to Pat Robertson's Yoga Classes. I hear there is lots of crazy GIBBERISH in CRAZY LANGUAGES to the DEITY of ignorance and stupidity. Although, you do get to stretch up and stretch down. Is that kewl?


Well, I am off to check the mail, maybe Thursday is the day I get that big fat check from the Hindu deity named Captain Obvious I am always saying PLEASE to in my secret language of gibberish.

P.S. In case you haven't figured it out, there is no free wine coupon. I am just experimenting if negativity combined with free coupon offers drives blog traffic. I know, I know, I am a total tease. I am also probably breaking some law (just send me a summons! I will add to the stack!) I guess if you want a free wine coupon, you can bring me a competitor's coupon and I will match it, like Walmart. Also like Walmart, it will be arduous, hardly worth your effort and you will have to wait in line with people in their pajamas, in public. Totally up to you!




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mothering in Winter: A List of Complaints

Another week is ending and of course, I can't let the weekend slip in without my weekly list of complaints. 

Note: my blog traffic has tripled since I began complaining on Yoke. Thanks for keeping it real (negative) with me! It is affirming to be recognized for my complaining skills.  Now, let's get on with it.

I love being a mother. However, I could never say: "I have no complaints."

Most of my motherhood complaints revolve around the winter. Mothering in the winter months is no joke. No wonder all those settlers died--it seems it was probably easier to just give up, than deal with being a parent in the polar vortex, with snow, germs, homework and well, other people.

Without further complaint, here is my list of why mothering in the winter sucks:

1. Coats and The Car Seat Part 1
Yes, we've all seen the most informative (and by informative, I mean obnoxious) car seat photos that show poor little Timmy shoved in his car seat with his coat on. Poor little Timmy is destined for death.

Shudder.

However,  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SHOVE A WRITHING CHILD IN A CAR SEAT WITH A GIANT GAP PUFFY COAT ON. I can barely get the boy into the car seat when he is naked.

(don't ask.)

Clearly, this info graphic is idiotic. Anyone who can shove their coated child into a car seat is MacGyver.

2. Coats and The Car Seat Part 2
Anyway, I hate the car seat and the coat. I carry my un-coated child out to the car. We get out of the car and I take 45 minutes to put the coat on him. Sometimes, if we are running in somewhere super fast, I don't bother with the coat.

When he is coatless,  no less than 45 people remind me that it is cold. By me, I mean they begin speaking directly to my toddler: "It is cold little guy, where is your coat?"

Needless to say, my son, who loves me, just yells "NO!" and on occasion, points an angry finger in their direction. God bless that barnacle boy. 

3.  Gloves
Have you ever tried to put a pair of gloves on a tiger? Maybe you've tried to put clothes on a camel.

Anyway, if you have not tried either of these endeavors, just swing by my house and get gloves on my 8, 6 and 2 year old. They are super cooperative, although one spits and another scratches and another somehow loses the glove while putting it on her hand.

4. Runny Nose Inspectors
Beginning in November and ending in June, each of my children have a snot filled nose. From my casual observation, it seems most of your children are afflicted with the same around the clock snot fest.

No one is sick, everyone is simply filled with snot. We probably all need more fresh air and an allergist appointment.

Anyway, at every event I attend there is one mother who is the Runny Nose Inspector. This is the woman who points out the runny nose, chases her own children (who probably have a stomach bug brewing) around with antibacterial gel and keeps asking if your kid is sick. She is the same woman who addresses the situation by looking right at my toddler and saying: "You need a tissue silly boy!"

Well, you need to stop talking to the kid, SILLY LADY, clearly he cannot answer you because his mother is a total train wreck and brings him out in public when he is clearly battling the plague. In fact, you should probably call those child protection people, because that silly boy, needs a SILLY TISSUE, every five minutes and absolutely screams like a hyena every time his nose is wiped.

Better yet, look and me and say: "You poor mommy. You need a massage! Here is a gift card!"

5. Hot Chocolate
Remember being a kid and racing in from a long day playing in the snow for your cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows? Remember how your mom would make such a big deal out of making it and how it was a special treat. Remember realizing that it is just powdered mix and some hot water.

And thinking, really this is no big deal?

Well, it is a big deal. No one ever actually finished a cup of hot chocolate. Someone always spills it. It is always too hot. Then it is too chocolatey. ( Apparently to my children the name, "Hot Chocolate" provides no clues to what they are drinking.)  Then the marshmallows melt and someone is accused of stealing marshmallows out of someone else's cup. Then I begin yelling and everyone begins crying and I make myself hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's.

There you have it. . .now, since it is Lent, I am off to lock myself in the bathroom with my Bible and pray that I will make it until bedtime. We are out of marshmallows and the children are looking hungry.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stop Giving Things Up For Lent!

If I close my eyes, I can imagine my Facebook feed filling up with lists of things people are giving up for Lent.

In a week, it will fill up with the complaints:

"Ugh!! I just want coffee."
"No chocolate until Easter! I hope someone buys me a giant bunny. AM DYING for CHOCOLATE"
"I know I gave up complaining for Lent, but, I think today is an exception."
"WAAAAAAA, just one glass of wine."

I've been guilty of this many, many times. Some years, I've attempted to give up all four things simultaneously, causing me to be a horrible, miserable person.  I've cried in my head and to my family and on Facebook about the things I swore I was giving up.

I've made an entire spectacle of my sacrifice, which is the exact opposite of what Christ calls us to do.

Matthew 6:16
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

I often look dismal. I often disfigure my face. And my reward is nothing but angst. Of course, that is totally the wrong way to sacrifice.

Matthew 6:17-18
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

God wants us to sacrifice--happily. He wants us to show the world that we are God's people and we are happy about it. He wants us to shine His light and His blessing. He is the one who will see our sacrifice and all the pain that goes along with it. Our sacrifice is for Him. He already sacrificed for the world to see-giving His only son for us--we do not need to try to replicate God's work.

Despite the common "Giving something up for Lent" tradition, I am going rogue this Lent.  Instead of giving up something,  I want to do more for God everyday. I want to be with God everyday. I want to hear His voice and fill His wind in my ears and His love in my soul. I want to learn to discern His will from my own.

This Lent, I intend on giving time to read, pray and sit quietly with God everyday. This will certainly lead to sacrifices--whether sleep or TV or time working or time reading something that is not about God.  My new life might still include coffee, chocolate and wine. Maybe it won't. But it will include more of Him and less of me.

And that is what God calls us to do. He calls us to become dead to our old lives, pick up our crosses and become renewed in Him, everyday, without a grimace, without a whine and without hesitation.

To help myself along on this Lenten journey of giving more, instead of giving up, I printed out Romans 6:9-11:



Happy Lent. Maybe this be a season of giving more to God for all of us!