Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flames, flames...on the side of my face.....

This morning, inspired by my post from yesterday, I decided it was time to clean the oven. Other clues included smoke coming from the oven on two separate occasions when cooking and the fact that several people have mentioned I may need to clean my oven.

Since I always like to take the easy way out when it comes to cleaning (you cannot BELIEVE the cleaning supplies that people brought to help clean out Matt and Tasha's townhouse.....if you call me to come help clean an area I bring my strong back, a bottle of vinegar and some old dish towels (the same thing I use for medical emergencies too :)....seriously, someone brought more paper towels than we have used in the past seven years and I had NEVER seen some of the products that were being used.....anyway.......) I decided to just flip that big sticky out thing on the front of the oven that I thought was to prevent the kids from opening the oven when I was cooking something. It turns out when you flip this thing to the side it locks the oven door but turns off the oven.........this was so puzzling to me for so long. I had no idea what function this thing could possibly have. It turns out that it locks the door for when you are CLEANING THE OVEN. Huh. No wonder I had no clue what it was for (Do you notice the way I keep using the word "clue"? Have you figured out why yet?)

Now I have tried this method before just a few weeks ago. Apparently my oven was so far gone that we have gone past that moment in time where your oven is still, indeed, self-cleaning. But I thought it was worth a try since, again, I like to take the easy way out when cleaning (this is perhaps why closets, drawers, under things, etc. should NEVER be closely inspected in our house. I was playing hide and seek with another parent and his kids the other day and I gave up my VERY good hiding place in fear they would all start looking in all sorts of places that no one should EVER look.) So self-cleaning, I turned the oven on and happily went about my morning.

I smelled smoke. I thought, ok, it's just doing it's job.

It smelled really bad.

Hmmmm.......I SEE smoke now...........

Hmmmm........there are flames in my oven now. Huh. Is that how it cleans itself? I wonder....

I yell to Joe....hey, honey, honey......there are flames, big flames in the oven, is that suppose to be like that? (At this point it is taking everything in me not to run for my camera so I can document for all of you how high the flames are but I wasn't sure how Joe would react to that and I stayed in the kitchen trying to look very concerned.) He proceeds to try to open the oven but that sticky out thing is very good at it's job and WILL NOT move. So we can't get the oven open and eventually the flames die out.

I feel the flames were symbolic of a burning bush moment for me (not to be confused with that other burning moment I had with a bottle of vinegar........). Maybe those flames were God saying that it's not really time to clean out your oven. Maybe I am meant to read my book today, play outside, can some peppers........I chose to think of this as a positive experience. He was telling me not to rescue the Israelites from Egypt but that I was to rescue myself from ever feeling like I was to clean that oven. I am free now. Free to do other things...........

Plus I still can't get my oven door open.

Did you figure out the connection between the post title and the word clue? Gotta love Madeline Kahn........

Monday, September 26, 2011

Places Where Pride and Perfection Go To Perish......

I have the very best of intentions....I do. I want to delight in a spotless house, an immaculate garden, and even, just maybe, a clean oven.

Our back dumping grounds, note the beautiful overgrown weeds,
I gave up on that plot of land back in July

I begin my day with prayer and bible reading (well, for the past week...thank you, Sara from Kansas City for the much needed inspiration). I make a list in my mind of what I must do for the day. It often includes cooking, cleaning, playing, laundry and other various household tasks.

Under the TV cabinet

Yet somewhere in the midst of cooking, picking up, playing with the kids and all the rest of it something gets lost. That sense of urgency that I might have felt at 5:30 is replaced with an attitude of just wanting to sit. The sense of importance that was attached to a certain task is now replaced with the desire for complete silence and stillness. The sense of having to do a chore is replaced with the sense of having to invest in my children, the reason I am at home.

And let me be honest, lest you think more nobly of me than you should...........there are novels to be read, the occasional TV show to watch (how excited am I on Wednesday afternoons now that Parenthood is back on!!!), a blog to write or read..........how I love my down time........

Now most of these pictures you see will be things that I will deal with in the next few days and they won't be quite so awful. However, the garden will still run amuck, the laundry inevitably will pile up again and sorry to say, dear Shawna, that oven probably will never get cleaned.

More apples, pears, beans, eggplant and tomatoes

What I am trying to say is that I have let my pride and perfection perish just a bit in the last few years. I have learned that dust, dirty ovens, weeds, laundry and all the rest of it will always be there. The only thing you get from running yourself ragged is a clean house with a grumpy husband, stressed out self and whiny kids who aren't allowed to touch anything, eat anywhere or use scissors, markers, crayons, playdough, glitter in any room but the garage.

More peppers to can

There are better things to do with your time than run around trying to prove to everyone that you can do it all and do it with a smile on your face. I can't do it all. I'd rather just admit that right now and move on. Move on to my next novel or game to play with the kids. And sometimes, well, you would just rather pick the lint out of your belly button than clean that dang oven.........................

The Planting Season

If Jesus spoke through parables, I believe that God speaks, partly, through His own creation. All around us are illustrations of what He has written. In our own garden I am struck by the disparity between the tomato plant and the fruit that it bears. How on earth is this dying, brittle plant producing such beautiful, plump red tomatoes?

Yet isn't this what happens in life? That in order to produce beautiful, lasting fruit you must die to so much else in your life? Things that seem important and lasting give way to something more.............

I think of God's goodness in choosing me...........someone who is not perfect, that doesn't have it all together, that every day stumbles just a bit. He chose me to have this family, to produce fruit and it is only by His grace and love that such beauty is produced from such imperfection. I mess up, I make mistakes, I yell, I lose my cool and sometimes take a timeout. I am that brittle, dying plant at times. Ahhh, but just look...... look at what comes from a place of imperfection..........

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
- John 15:16-17

And I am reminded yet again, by our lovely tomatoes...........this is just for a season. This is my planting season. That time of life when you must work long hours - preparing the soil, plotting the land, planting the seeds, watering, tending the garden. You work from sun up to sundown. It's wearing on a person, on a body. You tend to think that it will never end, this constant giving up of time, of freedom, of yourself. Yet this season soon will end and then comes harvest.........that time when you reap what you have sown.

Today may I delight in the season that I am in.................thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have poured out on this family and the grace you extend to each of us so that we may produce much fruit in your name. Help me to recognize the fruit that is being produced and the value of such work. In Your Name..............

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things I Have Learned in the Past Few Days....

1. Quite a few people commented on my last blog post - in person - that is.......and, apparently, my husband was not the only person who was horrified by my getting in a car with a stranger. However, he seemed to be one of the only people that was SURPRISED by the fact that I got in a car with a stranger. Again, people, I say if you would have SEEN Linda you would have known that a professional sweepstaker driving a beat up old car would NEVER, EVER hurt me. But, yes, Amy, Jen, Ashley, Joe and Meghan I will NEVER, EVER get in a car with a stranger AGAIN.

2. Oh and I also learned that quite a few people are unable to comment on my posts, which makes me quite sad - the approval hound, attention loving person I am, however, feels vindicated that SOMEONE would like to comment on my wonderful and profound writings but are just unable to at the moment. I will, from now on, imagine scrolling through comment after comment IF ONLY the blogger thingy would work.......ahhhh (BIG SIGH)

3. Oh and speaking of approval hound, attention seeking behavior I have also learned that not only was my brother WAY MORE popular than I EVER hoped to be in high school (seriously, when I was a junior and my brother was a freshman he knew WAY more juniors and seniors than I did - I was Matt Kossler's sister........) he is WAY more popular still. I usually have around 50 readers for each blog post (which is roughly 48 more people than I speak to on a daily basis so I thought I was doing pretty well). However, after Matt posted an entry on his facebook page I had over 200 people read that particular post and over a 100 read the post directly before that one. Oh well - I guess I AM popular, just once removed :)

4. On a more serious note, I have learned that this world is more broken than I have ever given it credit for being. I have always been the type to cling to the things of this world. I have experienced so much happiness here on earth. I have a wonderful family, I have my health, I find such joy in the daily things of life. I am so thankful for God and all the blessings He has poured out but I wondered if I could ever not be here and be joyful - I mean life after this one is supposed to be better, right? But how can that be? Now I am feeling as if I understand more................one of us isn't here and it isn't right and our family and my heart feels a bit broken and our world feels a bit broken. We explained to Fia that her cousin is with God and that we will see her one day, that we can meet her and know her. She was so excited to hear that. She was excited to know that Jesus is coming back and we will all be together again. I am too - I feel a bit less clingy................

5. Children are a blessing. Sometimes the kids are a bit much for me, for anyone probably. I actually yelled at Nico the other day and was so frustrated. In the midst of much frustration I thought of Tash. I thought of how much she would love to yell at Adalyn and be frustrated with her. I hugged my boy, thankful for my daily frustrations, thankful that they are here. Adalyn reminds me DAILY that children are a blessing.

6. God gives ABUNDANTLY. I just had lunch with Fia and her two friends. These are girls with great families, families I trust, that I saw on the playground at orientation last year. I thought, oh please, oh please, let Fia be friends with one of these girls or even in one of their classes. We wanted so much for Fia to find a friend - not really caring as much about the academics, knowing that our girl's heart is more important right now. Well, BOTH girls are in her class and all three are friends. In fact one of the girl's moms is taking all three of them home for a playdate next week.................ABUNDANCE. (Ummmm, did you ever notice that abundance is a - bun- dance - hmmmmm, maybe I should do a little bun dance to thank God for His abundance - is that appropriate? Or maybe it's appropriate that it isn't really appropriate since it is coming from me - maybe God will understand and smile His love down on me :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Perhaps It Is Time For a Bit of Laughter.....

Last Thursday afternoon and up until the next morning, I was in Kansas City by myself. I had checked into the hotel and was waiting for my parents to come. I had already seen Matt and Tash and was without transportation.

But, wait, let me repeat the most important part...........I was ALONE for almost 24 hours, BY MYSELF............

Oh. My. Gosh. ALONE.................ahhhhhh..........when had that last happened? Surely it was some time before June 17th, 2006 and even then, I don't think I had ever been overnight by myself anywhere, even in my own house.


I am afraid that I did not use this time wisely. I somewhat OD'd on reality television - the TLC variety. Then I began to get hungry. It was about 3 o'clock and I hadn't eaten since I had left that morning at 5:00am. I had no car and I had no idea where I was. But the hunger was real and it was not going to go away. So I made my way downstairs and headed out the door.

I walked down the street to a Burger King but decided to skip on the fast food. After all, this would be a gathering of the Kossler's soon and with that comes pizza, chicken, pop, all manner of food that would guarantee my jeans not fitting on the way home (which they didn't, as comfortably as they usually are, I ended up wearing my dress and heels back on the plane which made for a really fun time running through the airport trying to make my connecting flight at 8:50 Monday night.......oh and add to that I had to go down an ESCALATOR in my heels with my suitcase and purse. I about HAD A PANIC ATTACK right there in the airport......I HATE those DEATH TRAPS with a PASSION) Anyway, food, no car, Kansas City...........

So standing there in the Burger King parking lot I saw a lady talking on her phone. She was rather heavy, in an older, worn out car and looked to be a nice person. I peeked in her window and asked her if she knew of any drugstores on this side of the street (the two sides were divided by highway and I was hungry, but not THAT hungry, not willing to risk getting smashed like a deer on the side of the Pennsylvania turnpike). Well, she did point out a Walgreens on the other side of the highway and then she said, "Well, hop on in I can take you right over!"


She looked nice and I was hungry and my suitcase was somewhere in Airtran land waiting to be brought to my hotel sometime that night or the next day.


I say, "You aren't going to escape with me or anything or you?" Hahahaha......I get in the car. Linda says that she just came from water aerobics class and was trying to convince herself to get a healthy lunch but you see where that got her.....the Burger King parking lot. So she said that I saved her from fast food and that she really needed to stay away from drive through parking lots because they were her downfall.

We get to Walgreens and she says to take my time she has nowhere she has to be. I make my purchases quickly and go out. I am still not certain that this is the right thing to be doing but man, she is a nice lady and rather quirky. As she is taking me back to my hotel, we chat. I ask her what it is she does. Apparently, Linda married a nice older man who works while she quit her job as a switchboard operator. She didn't like the work and life is too short and she figured out she didn't have too many things she needed. (At this point, Jin, her husband calls, and she tells him she is right on her way. She picked up a woman, decided she was tired of picking up men so decided to try something new. At this point I was sure she was just saying this to be funny........) So Linda changed careers and became a professional sweepstaker. She wins prizes and that is what she does for a living.


We get back to the hotel and she wishes me well and goes on her way. This is the end of the story, other than to say I ate an entire bag of goldfish crackers, 2 packages of string cheese, a Crunch candy bar and some other snack that I can't remember in the space of one episode of "What Not To Wear". So much for spacing out my snack items so that they would last for the rest of the night........I would totally be the first one off the island, I have no survival instinct........

Well, maybe if Linda were there to help me I could last a round a two...................

Oh, and, TRULY, one final note........I had to PROMISE, SWEAR, VEHEMENTLY ASSURE my wonderful husband that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER do something so STUPID (yes, at times, apparently, you ARE allowed to use that word..........like when your wife is alone for the first time in 5 years and willingly gets in a car with a stranger for the sake of goldfish crackers and deoderant) again. And, of course, I will NEVER, EVER, EVER do that again.........even though, it DID work out very well and Linda truly is SUCH a nice person.

Truly, Joe, NEVER AGAIN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Thing I Ask

After five days away from my family - my husband and three precious little ones - I was ready to come home. I was ready to see them. I was ready to carry home with me the amazing feelings and experiences I had while in Kansas City with my brother, his wife and my parents. I was filled with the Holy Spirit, I felt as if I had directly experienced God's grace and love. I felt I had experienced renewal in Him.

Oh my.

What happens the day after? What happens to that peace, that grace, that love that you experience when confronted by the mundane practices of real life?

Is it harder to get through the first few days of a tragedy or every day after?

What if you are the mother without her child? What if you can get through the hospital stay, the visit to the funeral home, the memorial but cannot find the strength to get through breakfast the day after? What if you feel His presence throughout the midst of the darkness but as day begins to dawn again you are left feeling empty because you realize it is the first day of every day without her.................

I can only imagine what it must be like for my sweet, sweet sister-in-law...........

For I came home with my family intact, here on earth. I came home to a busy, loud, happy home and although I was so ecstatic and so relieved to be where I belong once again I felt a certain frustration and emptiness after the heady experiences of the last few days. I came home certain of Him and his authority over my life and my heart and yet..........

It was hard to find Him with quite the same ease. It was hard to find Him in the midst of whining, cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, cooking, screaming, driving, hurrying to school. I had to be so deliberate throughout the day to look to Him. I had to make the time, I wanted to make the time.

And therein was the difference.........

After such a sweet, sweet taste of time with my Savior I was ready to look to Him with eagerness. I knew He was there. I needed that time away to be reminded of how much I needed Him and how good it was to be with Him, how much I need Him every day.

What I ask of you is that you pray with me, right now, tonight, tomorrow and each day after as long as needed, for my brother and his wife. For their every day life is not filled in quite the same way, their struggles for the moment are much deeper and stronger and I would imagine there are times that life becomes so overwhelming that it is hard to remember where to look to, it's hard to feel anything but despair. For even with Him, even with a perfect Love there is still a baby that is gone, a dream not fulfilled. There are empty arms, hearts, entire rooms. Pray for them. May they dwell in the house of the Lord ALL the days of their life, may they seek His beauty, His face. May they trust in Him and wait upon His perfect timing. May they see the goodness of Him in the land of the living................be strong, my beautiful sister, be strong and take heart.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

Hear my voice when I call, LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27

Monday, September 12, 2011

Adalyn Joy

Celebrating the life of Adalyn Joy - born still and yet still she was born - we rejoice and give thanks for the life that was created. We give thanks for the long, delicate fingers. We give thanks for the lips that come from her father, the nose that belongs to her mother. We give thanks for the life cradled by so many in the two days she spent with her proud mama and papa.


Cleaning and moving into a new townhouse, hoping for a new start - not forgetting, never forgetting but beginning to heal. A team of believers come cleaning out a new house, wiping down walls and floor, scrubbing, vacuuming so that a bit of sorrow may be wiped out. Trips are made from the old to the new - moving a life to begin again. It is done within the day, well before night falls.


There is such laughter and such joy with this baby girl. We go to perform a task that should never be done - picking an urn for your infant - an object with which to enclose your precious one and then to scatter her ashes from. Just writing it brings new horrors to my mind and yet...............it was one of the best experiences we had here. There was so much laughter that tears ran down our faces and we had to apologize to the man helping us. I am sure that he thought we were crazy. And Matt reminded of us of her middle name...............JOY...............


There are times when the tears comes, when you are thinking about wanting so badly to hold this beautiful baby girl. Your arms feel empty, your heart hurts, you begin to shake with the sorrow of it all. It is so hard. And yet.....................after the tears, after the outpouring of grief there is relief in the knowledge that her life goes on. There is hope.


I go to the prayer room. There is music that is coursing throughout the room, there are believers pouring their hearts out, there is the presence of God. The tears begin to stream down my face once again. I pour my heart out to the Lord. I ask to see her just once, just once is all I need. I just need to see her to be okay. I have an overwhelming need to know, to be given confirmation of what I believe..............but I need more. With eyes closed I see a picture of Adalyn Joy in all her joy spinning and dancing............................her arms are outstretched, lifted high...................holding a huge ball of light radiating from above her................she is radiating. I want so badly to see her face but I cannot. I hear a peal of laughter and I am able to reach out and touch one of her legs as she is spinning and dancing. I am in the presence of JOY. My heart swells and I know. My beliefs are bolstered with the knowledge of the Lord. I am well, it is well.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Makes a Mother?

What does it take to be a mother? What, indeed, makes a woman a mother? Is it the baths she gives, the mouths she feeds, the nights she lays awake with a baby? Is is the hours of labor, is it the clothes she picks up, is it the meals she makes?

I believe a mother's job begins while the babe is in the womb. I believe the beginning is when that first smile is created at the thought of life within. It is a mother's heart that begins to beat when you first feel the beat within. It is the mother who lies awake at night, rubbing the belly and letting thoughts wonder as to who it is that is within. It is the mother that eats for two and begins to walk, drive and live with a bit more caution for she knows the sacred life that lays within.

And what of the mother whose job ends at that first hello? What to say then to that mother who births to bury her first young one........

What to say when hearts are breaking and tears are falling, how to repair that mother's heart?

What to say when the father calls to tell you the news and tells of His Father's love that is holding them strong? He tells of a peace that can only come from above and not from any earthly realm. His voice breaks but there is a strength and a power there that is far beyond anything I have known. It is a father's voice. It is the voice of one who knows, one who knows the love of a Father.

I am in awe of these parents - this mother and father who choose to bring their sweet daughter into this world so that they may hold her and love her and know her before sending her on to her Father.

They are a mother and father - they have protected and loved and known this child. They have created a home for her and are sending her on to her final home wrapped in love and peace.

One day I hope to be as strong and faithful and prayerful as this mother is tonight.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Adventure

She came ten days late, after a pregnancy that could kindly be called a trying one. On days that I wasn't feeling so kind I might have used words such as torture and I DON'T EVER WANT TO DO THIS EVER, EVER AGAIN. The doctor told me I had to be induce....this was never something I wanted to have happen.

I should have known this one would be different.

When she was ready, she was ready RIGHT THEN. The nurses had to tell me NOT to push, don't sneeze, NOTHING. They ran to get a doctor. She came out, slipped out really in three easy pushes. I laughed with relief and said I AM SO HAPPY NOT TO BE PREGNANT ANYMORE! I am afraid I was a bit hysterical from the relief I felt. After she was out they determined her body temperature needed to be up, it was a bit low. So this beautiful babe needed to lay skin to skin with me for hours and hours in order for it to rise. They said it was the best thing. So while the new big sister and brother were escorted in and made their way to momma, Francesca found a way to be with momma and momma only, to be the one closest to her.

I should have known this one would be different.

To be fair to my girl, she did come home under different circumstances than the other two did. She was the youngest of three - the oldest having just turned three. It was not a situation for the weak of heart.

And heart my girl does have........

I was looking back and it's funny to me how Francesca seems to always have a glint in her eye, a smirk or a determined attitude about her. She is our adventure. She is the one who loves big and lives big. She has no comprehension that she is the third or that she isn't or shouldn't be the center of all things. Like all younger siblings to strives to catch up with the big kids and wants to be a part of it all. She recognizes no batting away or eye rolling at having to be included, she simply pushes her way through.

I have to say that as much as she drives me crazy with her need, her drive, her determination to do it her way RIGHT NOW - I admire these qualities in our youngest. I marvel at her assuredness. She walks into stores, the library, church and is assured of her acceptance. She waves goodbye to everyone at these places as if she has just left her friends and will see them soon. It is amazing to me to see the reactions of people as they love her just as much as she was certain they would. There is no fear in this little one - except when she feels the need for a little drama and creates it on her own.

My fearless girl walking and playing baseball at 9 months

This perhaps is one of my favorite pictures for it so illustrates the personalities
of my children - my heart, my joy and my adventure.

I should have known this one would be different.

As a parent you discover that you love all your children equally but in entirely different ways. And this is true for my youngest. I am in awe of her. I roll my eyes and shake my head and grow weary of her energy and need and passion but I am in awe of her. I wish I had more of her confidence and a bit of her ignorance of the world and it's ability to hurt her. I pray that this sense of adventure remains within her. I pray for the guidance and wisdom needed to parent a child of adventure, how to balance correcting the heart and spirit without crushing it.

How I love this girl, this girl that almost didn't come about. Did you know that? We went to an adoption meeting, talking about our third and possibly fourth coming from a different country. It was my love that spoke of just one more that came directly from us not to us. We struck a deal (I would only be expected to nurse for 6 weeks with the third - that's right, let the negative thoughts roll.........a weak-willed mama in the nursing arena) and a third one from the womb it was.

And what a good decision it was, for this girl has been my adventure. I love that she brings adventure to the whole family. Who can resist the glint, the smirk, the wide eyed nature of Francesca? Not any of us. She is the one who at church will scream "TRY AGAIN!" after we sing or one time it was an enthusiastic "YEA!". She waves her hands and claps while the praise music flows throughout the sanctuary. She is a constant measure of praise to me. She teaches us all how to live fully in each moment.

I should have known this one would be different.........