If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: TwitterFeed

My time is valuable. So is yours.

So I'm always excited when I find ways to accomplish tasks more efficiently.

TwitterFeed is one way to help streamline your social media world.

It takes five minutes to set up an account on TwitterFeed. It's super easy -- just follow the site's step-by-step instructions. Once you're a member, the site will automatically post your RSS feed to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can set it to check for new posts on scheduled intervals -- from every 30 minutes to every 24 hours.

That's it!

Update your blog and within seconds your Twitter and Facebook friends will know about it -- without you lifting a finger!

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!



Melinda

Friday, June 25, 2010

Home Improvement

I always knew I was no Martha Stewart. But this last month has proved that I’m no Ty Pennington, either.

We’ve been knee-deep in long overdue house projects this summer, including painting the interior, hanging new drapes, moving my “office” from the kitchen to the dining room and remodeling a moldy, aging bathroom.

I’m very excited about the anticipated results of these projects (we’re not done yet). The difficult, messy process of getting there? Well, not so much.

Thankfully, we hired a great contractor to do the job. (This was not the case six years ago when Hurricane Charley spurred an unplanned remodel of a good portion of our house.) But that doesn’t mean the road to “house heaven” has been a smooth one.

The first day of the bathroom demolition was, shall we say, interesting. The contractor had barely started swinging the sledgehammer, when he yelled, “Come here! You gotta see this!” His voice was urgent and ominous.

I spun around the corner and right into a horror movie.

Hundreds of the biggest ants I’ve ever seen came pouring out of the large hole in my bathroom shower wall. I stood frozen and completely repulsed. Even my contractor clearly had the heebie-jeebies.

“Carpenter ants … they love moisture and mildew and you’ve got plenty of both of them behind this wall. Bet there’s a big nest of these under your tub.”

Ahhh, the joys of living in Florida.

Then there was the discovery of the ailing hot water heater ($$$), the unsalvageable tub (more $$$) and the miscalculation of how much tile to order for the shower.

The best was yet to come, though. A couple of nights ago, my husband was finishing painting a small patch of trim at the top of our living room ceiling.

“Hey, can you spot the ladder for me for a couple minutes?”

“Sure, no problem.”

He was almost done when I began to feel the ladder slip. The rest was like a train wreck that you witness in real-time, but are powerless to stop. I slowed its descent, but trying to keep a ladder carrying my husband’s 6’0” 180lb frame from collapsing proved futile.

Once we determined he was okay other than some nasty scrapes and bruises (and deciding that the blame rested more with the ladder spotter than the person on the ladder ... ahem), we surveyed the damage.

One of our glass end tables was shattered into a million pieces. A lamp that I’d bought not 24 hours before was completely mangled.

In a classic case of returning to the hair of the dog that bit you, we continued on with this project. Not five minutes later, the paint brush flew out of Mike’s hand (not my fault!) and landed on a brand new chair we got for the living room.

The Two Stooges then called it a night.

It struck me how this process is so very similar to parenting. Led by our General Contractor (God), we are doing our best to mold and make our children into something beautiful. We want the process to be smooth and satisfying. Hassle-free.

But we unexpectedly uncover a figurative nest of carpenter ants in the form of an ugly behavior or an old, festering wound – both in our kids and ourselves. And it gives us the heebie-jeebies.

What I’m finding though, is that this is not a bad thing. It’s painful for sure. But a wound can’t heal, a behavior can’t change, until it’s been fully exposed. It’s not pretty. But it’s necessary.

Without tearing down that icky, moldly, ant-infested shower wall, I’d never have the beautiful bathroom I have (or almost have) now.

I used to recoil from the messiness of parenting, try to gloss over behaviors and problems and hope they’d go away.

Now, although I’ll never enjoy the problems, I know they are a necessary part of growth for my kids and for me and my husband.

And even when the kids and I are breaking “tables” and mangling “lamps” along life’s journey, we’re learning lessons that ultimately the General Contractor will use to make something beautiful.

So, whatever battles you are facing in your parenting life right now, don’t despair. Don’t give up. If you persevere, the ultimate Carpenter will one day turn the mess into something amazing.

And He’s way better at it than Ty Pennington.
Melinda

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: TwitBlock

Do you assume everyone who follows you on Twitter is a "friend" who is interested in finding out more about your fascinating life?

Well, think again.

If you've been on Twitter for any length of time, you'll notice that you often get followed Twitter users who don't seem to care about anything but pushing their products or services, sometimes relentlessly.

I follow and am followed by a number of people who sell products who I do not consider spammers. They are actual people that genuinely interact not only about what they're selling, but about personal topics as well. They reply and retweet. They contribute far more than a sales pitch.

Spammers are what I call "hit and run" tweeters. They leave their propaganda in your Twitter feed -- repeatedly, but then take off. They don't interact. Their one and only purpose is to bombard you with advertising.

Why is this troublesome? For a few reasons:

1.) It's annoying.

2.) If you follow back (and many Twitter users do this automatically), it clutters up your Twitter feed, making it more difficult to hone in on the tweets you really do want to read.

3.) It junks up your Followers list. And we all want to attract a quality audience with which we can have truly interesting and meaningful interaction.

TwitBlock to the rescue!

This is an awesome way to weed out spammers. And very easy to use! Simply sign in using your Twitter account when you go to the TwitBlock site. Then you have two options to choose from:

1.) Fan or Spam? This option scans your followers for spammers. It then gives you a list of possible spammers. This does not mean that they are, however, they are considered suspicious. To find out more information about a particular Twitter user on the list, click "analyse." It will then give you more detailed facts, such as the percentage of people who follow this person back and if this user gets blocked alot. You can then determine if you want to block them.

2.) Bot or Not? By typing in any Twitter username, you can get information about the probability that the user is a spammer.

I've found this tool to be very useful and time-saving. Because sometimes being followed -- on Twitter and in real life -- is not a good thing.

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!

Melinda

Monday, June 21, 2010

Do It Yourself!

Mom, can you get me a bowl of cereal?

Mom, can you wash these jeans for tomorrow?

I’ve been fielding these kinds of requests for years now. If you’re a mom, it comes with the territory. And I generally enjoy doing things for my kids.

But something occurred to me recently. My children are TEN and THIRTEEN!! Can someone please tell me why I’m still at the beck-and-call of my able-bodied, (nearly) grownup children??

Because I’ve allowed it, that’s why! They’re no dummies. They know they have a good thing going. Ask Mom to do something, she does it. Do a job slowly or half-way, Mom will come in and save the day. Need help with a school project? Mom’s on the job.

It’s yet another ugly byproduct of my perfectionism. A long time ago, I (subconsciously) decided that I’d rather have the job done right than have one of my children do it and risk that they’d mess something up. Horrors.

That resulted in a neater house commandeered by a stressed-out mom who is still pouring cereal for her 10-year-old son and toasting bagels for her teenager.

I’ve been aware of it for a while, but I think it became glaringly apparent this summer because they’re home 24/7. I may have to call in Merry Maids to help handle all the requests.

I’ve been doing them a huge disservice. Because I doubt their college roommate is going to do their laundry. Or that my son’s future wife is going to want to fetch him a bowl of chips every time the mood strikes him. And unless my daughter marries a chef, she could be in trouble.

They’re not going to live in my cushy house forever.

The real world is much harsher and far less accommodating.

God has entrusted me to empower my children to live outside of my home, not learn to become dependent on the creature comforts inside of it.

It’s not too late to turn this ship around. I’m on a mission to slowly empower my children to assume appropriate responsibilities for their ages. I can’t expect them to change overnight, but I can begin gradually putting power into their hands -- where it belongs (along with a broom and a mop!).

I’ve already met resistance. I expected it. I made my bed (actually I’ve made their beds, too – therein lies the problem) and now I have to lie in it.

To all you moms with little ones out there, start early! Give them age-appropriate jobs from the time they are young. Yes, it takes more time to let them do it and it will certainly not be done perfectly.

But you will be giving them – and their future spouses and roommates -- a huge gift. And, as an added bonus, you won’t find yourself so cranky and overwhelmed as they get older because you’ve trained them well. And at some point, the training will pay off and you’ll have useful and genuine help from those little people living in your home.

If you're like me and have gotten a late start, don't assume all is lost. I've seen some good progress in a short time with my two.

Okay, time to take out the garbage. Micah, I’ve got a job for you!
Melinda

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: Twitter Bios

You are witty, talented and fascinating. Anyone would be lucky to be the recipient of your tantalizing combination of brilliance and boldness.

So how do you let the Twitter world know how amazing you are?

Your Twitter bio is a great way to let people know about your personality and interests. I know that when someone follows me on Twitter, the first thing I do is look at their bio to see if I want to follow them back. If they don't have a bio at all or if it's a boring one-liner, I usually don't bother.

So make every word count.

Here are a few some tips:

1.) Think about your purpose. Why are you twittering? Is it to drive traffic to your blog? Connect with other moms? Promote your business?

2.) Use key words. Based on your purpose, think of a few key words. For example, "Mom," "Writer" or "Artist." Think about what words a Twitter user would put in the Search field to find you. Then build the rest of your bio around those words.

3.) Be memorable. Don't be fake. Be yourself, but find a clever or humorous way to describe your uniqueness.

4.) Be sure to include the link to your blog or website.

According to Hubspot Blog, users with a bio have over 8 times more followers and users with a link have over 7.5 times as many as users without.

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!




Melinda

Monday, June 14, 2010

Park Princess

A theme park experience revealed something ugly about myself.
And in front of my children, to boot.
Read my Daily Devotional on CBN.com!
Melinda

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hopelessly Devoted?

It’s our dinnertime dilemma.

How do we manage to get through a meaningful family devotion time without bloodshed?

It wasn't always this difficult.
When the kids were younger, they both loved reading “stories” and answering questions about God’s Word.

However, the sibling rivalry, age and gender differences have become glaringly and frustratingly apparent between my 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl. And so have their needs and maturity levels.

It’s normal to some degree – to be expected. (My wise pediatrician even confirmed this.) But it often makes dinner and devotions, our family ritual for years, feel like an exercise in futility.

Here’s a peek into our family dinnertime:

Micah: I’m done with my dinner! Can I read the devotions?

Molly: Oh, brother, why does he always have to read the devotions?

Micah: Let’s read two. I’ll read the first one and you can read the second one, Mom, okay?

Molly: Which book are you going to read from – the “baby” book? I don’t want to hear a story written for a two-year-old.

Micah: Stop it, Molly! Be quiet!

Micah begins reading then stops.

Micah: She’s looking at me!

Mom or Dad: Just keep reading.

Micah: She’s smiling at me! Tell her to quit smiling at me.

Molly: I’m not doing anything!

Dad: Micah, quit whining and just read. Molly, knock it off. I. mean. it.

Eventually, the devotion and Scripture is read. And an amazing thing happens. A discussion begins to take place that does not end in sibling assault. They start asking insightful and challenging questions. Don’t get me wrong. This does not happen every time. (If only!) Sometimes, the victory is just getting through it.

But more often than their dad and I would predict, all the pre-devotion wrangling ends with something like this:

Molly: That was actually pretty good.

Micah: Yea, we just learned that verse at church.

And despite the resistance, we’re actually glad we persevered.

When my kids were small, they were like sponges. They enthusiastically took in all the biblical values we could teach them.

I’ve hit that stage -- with Molly more than Micah since she’s older -- where my kids are beginning to question more and try to figure out what they believe. To push a bit against some of our instruction – in this and other areas, as well.

It’s normal. And good. It’s likely they will abandon their faith if they don’t ask questions and truly make it their own.

That doesn’t mean it’s not scary for parents. And discouraging at times. You don’t know how many times we’ve wanted to say, “Forget it! This is too much of a hassle! Go to bed!” (Okay, we’ve said that a few times.)

But I’ve learned we have to continue to persevere. To not give in to the resistance. To continue to pour God’s Word and guidance into their lives.

There are no guarantees. But if we allow them the freedom to question and grapple with their faith, while consistently guiding and instructing them in what we know to be true, they are more likely to one day enthusiastically embrace their faith again.

In the meantime, I’m making extra dinner portions. We all need our strength. ;0)



The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:10-11
Melinda

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: TwitPic

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

And since you only get 140 characters for each tweet, couldn't you use a photo now and then to get your point across?

You can do just that with TwitPic! Using this service, you can quickly and easily upload your photos to your Twitter account with a tiny url.

It's super easy to use. Here's how:

1.) Log in to TwitPic using your Twitter username and password.

2.) Upload the photo you want to post from your computer.

3.) Add your comment and click "post it"!

That's all there is to it!

I think TwitPic expands Twitter's limited communication range and helps you to connect a little more personally with your followers.

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!




Melinda

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Worry Free

Don’t worry.

That’s like telling a mom, Don't Breathe. It’s what we do. It’s in the Mom Handbook. Childbirth encodes it into our DNA.

Because, after all, we all know that worrying changes things. Moves mountains. Holds back disaster. And who wouldn’t want that for their kids, right?

But recently, I heard God clearly whisper those words to my heart: Don’t worry.

The instruction went against everything I was feeling. Against all my motherly inclinations.

I’ve written before about my son Micah’s fight against cystic fibrosis, a genetic, progressive respiratory and digestive disease that slowly and insidiously destroys the lungs of its victims. Many people with CF eventually have lung transplants.

Preserving lung health and function in CF patients is Priority One. This means trying to keep their lungs free of infection – no easy task. The mucus in their lungs is sticky – like honey – trapping bacteria and viruses and providing the perfect environment to colonize.

Over Spring Break, Micah contracted a nasty case of the flu. It’s the sickest I’ve seen him since he was an infant. And the cough. The cough was horrible. And it would not go away.

His fever left.

His energy returned.

But the cough remained. Deep and persistent, despite all efforts to destroy it.

His lung function tests hit a new low during the worst of his illness. Even three weeks ago, his tests were somewhat improved, but still stubbornly below what they were prior to this awful flu.

His pulmonary doctor looked concerned. “If Micah’s lung function tests don’t recover by his next visit, we’re going to have to hospitalize him and give him IV antibiotics over a 10-day period,” he said. “If we don’t catch this now, it may lead to a further decline and he’ll never get back to where he was.”

Deep breath.

Micah started on a new, more powerful antibiotic. Slowly, that awful cough diminished. Within five days, it was gone completely. Relief.

But then, about a week before his visit to the pulmonologist, the cough began to slowly return. Not as powerfully. But it was there. Beckoning me to worry.

I could feel the anxiety well up inside of me. And that’s when I heard those words in my spirit. Don’t worry. Do what is within your power to help him, then leave the results to Me.

Over the past week, I’ve had many invitations to worry. Each time, those words came back to me. I’d say a prayer and then let it go. All the while, though, making sure Micah was eating right and taking his regular medications. And asking everyone I could think of to pray.

A couple of nights ago, at bedtime, Micah begged me not to leave the room.

Me: What’s wrong, honey?

Micah: I’m scared. I don’t want the IVs. Will I have to get the IVs?

Me: We’re doing all we can. Let’s pray and then let’s not worry, okay?

Micah: Okay. I’ll try.

Then, yesterday was THE day. The moment of truth.

I sat filled with nervous energy as Micah took a deep breath and blew into the lung machine for the respiratory therapist. Then I held my breath.

Wow. I think he’s up quite a bit since last time, the therapist said cautiously.

I slowly exhaled.

Quite a bit.

Micah gave three more hard breaths into the machine.

The therapist scanned his chart again. "Now, let me look at this. Micah, your overall lung function hasn’t been this good for more than a year. And Mom, his airway clearance measurement hasn’t been this high since 2007!”

My nervous energy turned to giddy relief. Micah and I high-fived. I nearly hugged the therapist.

And I praised God. The Great Physician. The Healer of body and soul.

More battles lay ahead. I’m sure of it. I will never run out of reasons to worry.

Micah’s body will remain a slave to cystic fibrosis, in some measure, as long as he lives.

But when we remember the words of his Maker, regardless of the odds or outcome, we can both move closer to being worry-free.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. Luke 12:25-27 (NLT)
Melinda

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: Social Oomph

Does your Twitter account need a little oomph?

Well, do I have a website for you!

I just recently discovered a fabulous Twitter resource called Social Oomph. I have yet to tap all it's great possibilities, but here are a few that might interest you:

1.) It will automatically send your own customized welcome message to new Twitter followers. You can even write several welcome messages and it will randomly rotate your messages.

2.) It can auto-follow those who follow you.

3.) It even allows you to schedule your tweets to post at specified times. This might come in handy if you want to schedule tweets about new blog posts.

And I'm just scratching the surface of what Social Oomph can do to make Twitter a bit more personalized and easier to manage.

And, best of all, it's free! All you have to do is register.
Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!




Melinda
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