Sep 302010

It was a gorgeous day out, so I had all the kids playing with those huge bubble wands on the back porch.  As I walked thru the kitchen, admiring all the fun they were having, I didn’t notice they had spilled a pint of bubbles on the floor. I slid across the hard woods, like a cartoon character, trying to grab everything I skidded past to save myself, and landed in the splits by the back door.  I chipped my elbow, sprained my wrist and bruised my knee.

In the blink of an eye, I went from walking across the kitchen floor in running shoes, (thinking fondly of my kids), to landing in the splits by the back door – and didn’t even see it coming. I was totally blind sided by the entire event.  One minute I was here, and the next, I was gone!

There’s a song by Revive, called  “It Happens in a Blink” and it sure did.

It happens in a Blink

It happens in a Flash,

It happens in the Time it took to look Back

You try to hold on Tight,

But there’s no stopping Time,

What have I done with my Life!

There are 86,400 seconds in a day and we’re not promised them all.

Teach me to number my days, that I may have a heart of wisdom and fulfill my Purpose for this Life.  Ps. 90:12

The clock is ticking, and like characters in a story, none of us know how much time we have left.  Some people pass at the ripe old age of 100, others – due to foreseen illness . . . while many are on our way from here to there, in a hurry, thinking about our next business meeting, what they’re making for dinner, and In the blink of an eye, we’re here today and gone tomorrow.  We’re standing upright, and the next moment we’re doing the splits by the heavenly door.

Make it count, before you turn around and it’s too late.  The Hands of Time are ticking and there are no real do-overs.  There are few things that can’t be recovered in life, and one is Time – after it’s been Spent.

If today was your last day, who would you call, what would you say, how would you do it differently?  It’s easy to say: Live like you’re dying.   But do we . . . Really?

Do our kids know how we feel about them or is work more important?

When I was a kid, no matter what we did for fun or how many times, I always begged for ONE More!  Sometimes you get it, sometimes you won’t.

We get the call in the night, that changes our life forever.  Write the letter, write the book, write the blog, make the call, put down your most pressing issues that really aren’t so pressing.  It Happens in a Blink!

 Posted by at 7:41 pm
Sep 152010

When I was 5 years old, I fell off the top of a bunk bed, dreaming that I could roll forever.  It was a vivid dream of white puffy clouds, until I got a 1/2 roll and Boom, off I went.  My head karate chopped the side of the bed  . . . and I won a round trip ticket to the ER.

From that day on, I became quiet familiar with the Emergency Room, acquiring stitches many more times, before moving out of the “clumsy, oops I did it again” stage of my life.

From reaching up to place a bird in its nest and falling 10 feet, to slashing my ankle in a stain glass shop, it seemed as though I had a scarlet thread of “oppsie daisies” running through my life.

Some accidents involved selfless acts, others involved adventure; and while the memories of those days are vague, the scars still remain.  Sometimes we need those scars to remind us of tough days gone by.  Some people suffer from disease, loss of a job, a child, a home or loss of themselves.

You look at a scar and know there’s a story.  It’s easy to complain.  Complaints seem to jump out at every opportunity and like a ball rolling down a hill, it has its own momentum, taking little effort to sustain:  the kids are driving you crazy, the dishes and laundry are mounting a war, your budget isn’t big enough, the car isn’t clean enough.  We wished we had a grocery delivery service, an errand boy, a nanny, a better job, a bigger house, more time, more money, a date night, someone who thinks I’m right – and the list goes on.

We all suffer hardships and unpleasantries, some more than others for sure . . . I read a blog the other day of a woman who had just had a baby.  She wrote a Top 10 List of all the things she loves about having a newborn.  And also admitted, she could write a list equally as long, listing all the tough – how did this happen, what have I done, this hurts, why won’t they sleep, wha wha wha moments, but she chose not to.

Turn your face toward the goodness, the hopefulness.  Lift up your eyes and count the blessings.  Write them down, shout ’em from the roof top; however you’re reminded, do it.  Look at the weight you’ve lost, not the weight that remains; be thankful for the car you drive, not wishing for something you don’t; embrace the moments you have with your family; live life to the fullest.  The living room is messy, but you have a house full of happy kids.  In the Race of Life, we can choose to focus on the moans and groans, and heavy breathing to the finish line, or we can be thankful that WE’RE BREATHING!

Life on this earth will bring heartache, you can count on it.  I’ve never met anyone who’s truly lived, that didn’t bare a scar.  What is your view from the front porch looking’ in?  Will you look at the scar and view hardship or what you gained through the experience.  You’re alive . . . every day, hour and minute, you can have a do-over to make this life, Something Beautiful.

A Word to the Wise: If you find yourself on a bunk bed, dreaming you can roll forever . . . Don’t Do It!

Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)

 Posted by at 9:52 pm
Sep 092010

Growing up, my Dad always said:  There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way.  For whatever reason, I chose the hard one- and ended up with a few more beats, bumps and bruises along the way.

Probably like you, our kids wake up for school in the dark.  I’m not a morning person.  I would much rather see the sun Set than the sun Rise; and I’m a firm believer it’s not truly daytime, when the moon is still up at 6am.

I’m always asking moms how they handle morning routines, after school snacks and endless laundry.  There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel.  I’d rather copy it.

Does this sound familiar?  I would get up 30 minutes before the kids woke up, commence to make lunches and realize we’re out of bread.  Hmmm . . . there’s no cereal for breakfast and only 3 mis-matched socks in the laundry basket.  I was spinning my wheels, trying to re-configure Plan A with Plan C about the time the kids were waking up.

“Mom!  said child #1:  Where’s the socks . . . One is crying, I don’t want to take a frozen burrito to school – there’s no microwave.”  Child #3 is still sleeping, after I’ve run up the stairs twice to wake him and Child #2 is upset because he wanted cereal, instead of last night’s pork chop for breakfast.    Poor kids, what a mess.  If only I were organized!

I have 3 boys in school:  Pre-k, 1st & 3rd.  I know what it’s like to bribe, fight, cry and whine my way through morning rush hour to get them to brush their teeth, eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning.  Then one day, after dreading the morning routine, I decided enough was enough.  I’m the boss of this joint and I’m not gonna take it anymore. If there was going to be a Revolt, it was coming from me!

And just like that, the Pletka family went through boot camp 101.  Like a captain in the Army, I put them in a single file line and we marched from upstairs to downstairs, acting out the way I wanted “Morning Routine” to look like. The baby followed along with her blankie dragging behind.  No more whining . . . no more crying . . . no more “I don’t wanna wear that.”  Nope, nada, nein, not gonna happen.

I lined them up one by one and asked:  Are you potty trained?  Yes Mom!  Do you know where the spoons are located?  Yes Mom.  Do you know how to pour Milk? And the list went on.  Just like the movie Dodgeball, in a scruffy, old, cynical voice he said:  If you can Dodge a Wrench, you can Dodge a Ball . . . My theory was:  If you can pour milk, you can feed yourself!

And this is how it went down: I began placing cereal in a bowl with a spoon in it, the night before.  All they have to do is pour the milk and eat.

In the evenings, when we make lunches for the kids, I lay out their clothes, socks, shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, the whole enchilada, to make this portion of the day, run like a well-oiled machine.  If a pair of socks or one shoe is missing, it can be a deal breaker – put a glitch in the morning, maybe miss the bus and everyone’s in a bad mood.  If Jr.’s shoes are outside under the trampoline, you’re up the creek.

We placed alarm clocks in each room, so they go off at the same time, or pretty darn close.  They come running down the stairs, trying to pass each other along the way.  It sounds like a herd of animals running on their heels, beating and thumping all the way down.  This, in turn, becomes my alarm clock.

While one is eating breakfast, the other brushes his teeth and yet another is putting on his clothes.  They circulate through the 3 step process with minutes to spare.  Life is much better, now that we have a system in place.  They feel a little more independent, I’m relinquished of my role as drill sergeant and am realizing these little guys are growing up fast and I need to freeze frame all the moments.

Life has changed.  We sleep a 1/2 an hour longer, lunches are pre-made at night, outfits are pre-approved and the kids are much happier.

I’m amazed at how children can step up and make it happen, when we raise the bar and increase our expectations of them. There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way, both with the same destination, but how you get there, can make ya or break ya.  Enjoy Your Life!

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go, so when he’s old, he will not depart from it.

 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Sep 022010

The other night, about 3am I woke up to a loud thunderstorm.  The entire room lit up and our dog Max, (a terrier slash fox hound – whose talents include jumping, digging and howling like the hound that he is) was shaking uncontrollably underneath the bed.  He was deathly afraid of the storm, and with every tremble . . . he farted.

We’ve had this dog 10 years, and I’ve never known this to happen.  Of course, it’s never on John’s side of the bed, always mine, but it wouldn’t matter.  If a tornado took the roof off the bedroom, John would continue to sleep.

I have to say, Max has been through a lot in his 10 years with this family.  In the beginning, (BK) Before Kids, he was the Prince of the House.  He wore sweaters, napped at the end of our bed, had a constant stream of bones and toys at his disposal.   Life was one big adventure.

As time went on and kids began to infiltrate our home, one by one, he moved lower down the totem pole.  At this stage, he’s just excited that someone remembers to feed him.  Good ole Loyal Max.  When we brought him home from the animal shelter, we proudly bestowed him with the name Jack.  A good solid name for a terrier, don’t ya think?

One year into enjoying our little Jack, we found out we were having a boy, and the name Jack suddenly became a valuable commodity.  My husband’s name is John and he wanted his son to be named after him, but we did not want to burden the kid with being John the 4th.   So we changed the dog’s name from Jack to Max and gave it to our son.   Poor thing was confused for . . . who am I kidding — he’s still confused.   He’ll come to anything you call him.

So when I woke up, it wasn’t the lightening that acquired my attention, it was the smell of FEAR, that smelled like a fart.  That’s the way it is in life.  We fear the storm, we fear failure, we fear loss of a job, we fear lack of safety for our children.  Fear is like an electric fence you can’t see, with signs hanging everywhere –  “Beware”, “Feel Guilty” “Don’t Forgive” “Don’t Try This”, “Failure Isn’t An Option” You’re a Loser” “Don’t Rock the Boat”  “You Won’t be Accepted” . . . It holds us prisoner within invisible borders, whispering to us in the night.

Don’t allow FEAR to get its tentacles in you.  Instead, embrace life, get up and grab it by the horns; write your own signs:  Seize the Day, Try New Things, Do Your Best & Forget All the Rest, Failure IS an Option.  We learn when we Fail.  Of course, we don’t want to fall, but if living in Fear of Failure is gonna hold you back from pursuing a life of meaning, adventure, peace and purpose, then it has to go.

You don’t want to wake up in the night and smell fear. It presents itself in various forms, shapes and sizes, often renaming itself, in hopes of disguising its identity.  You can put new clothes on it, maybe add some lipstick, but it’s not your friend.  Just like Max trembling under the bed in unproductive Fear, (not the adrenaline rush you need, before standing in front of a crowd) but the kind of fear that holds you captive, holds you hostage to the great life you deserve – Fear, by any other name, is just a bad smell.

Now go out and live the life of Purpose and Meaning that God has called you to live – and embrace the adventure.

Fear not, I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  And through the rivers, they shall now overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.  And the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43: 1-2

 Posted by at 8:07 am