Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Aide your digest-tion

My friend, Kim, and I are hanging out at a writer’s conference this week. It is full of excitement, education, and unusual menu selections.  But the best part so far was the editor’s panel that Kim and I attended this afternoon.  The panel consisted of editors from magazines like Thriving Family, Christianity Today, Christian Communicator, Splickty Magazine, and the ever-popular Home Health Care Digest.

Now, I have nothing against home health aides (I once worked as one for a lady who was blind, but she had this really huge clock in the kitchen that was white with big black numbers on it, so she must have been able to see a little—or a big—however you look at it), but to tell you the truth, the Home Health Care Digest editor didn’t seem super excited about what she was publishing, and she kind of stumbled around when she was asked about what seasonal pieces her publication would accept.  And when she was asked what kind of writing they were looking for, she kept repeating something about needing someone to submit an article about painkillers. I started to feel sorry for the editor of the Home Health Care Digest because she was surrounded on all sides by people publishing stories of romance, marriage, parenting, Sci-fi, Amish fiction (we must not forget Amish fiction), and all she was looking for was someone to write uplifting articles about pharmaceuticals. 

I didn’t see bunches of audience members rushing to talk to her about  her magazine after the session.  I’m not completely certain that many of us felt inspired to write about NSAIDS or Vicodin--even though we grew up singing songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” 

Maybe next time she agrees to be part of the panel she can talk to her board of directors beforehand to get permission to publish research on bath mats, or tub rails, or orthopedic stockings, or Metamucil—cause I bet that—especially the last one—would really get things moving in the right direction. 

Don’t ya think?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Letter to Young Moms…

Now that my kids are older and are bigger than me, I often watch young moms with a twinge of sadness because I don’t have little ones anymore.  I’m sure, with the passage of time, I have romanticized their childhoods and remember only the sweet things—not the times I walked around with the spanking spoon in my back pocket (It was very necessary, Tess Michelle).  But regardless of my rose-colored glasses, I have gained some wisdom in my parenting journey that I would like to share.

And so, I have chosen to write a letter to all moms of little kids everywhere.  If that is you, read on:

Dear Mom, yeah you, the exhausted one,

Do you realize how incredibly cute children are?  Yes, even when they are snotty and stinky and sticky.  God made children squeezably soft and appealing, now go look at yours, the ones you look at every day all day, with fresh eyes.  Soon they will grow up and you will no longer be able to smell their sweet baby heads or nibble on their delicious ears. See them in all their childish quirkiness and adore.

You know the fort-building they do in the basement and the four-square they play together on the driveway? It will only last a time—a sweet golden time—and then they will be too busy with homework and projects and track meets to have any time to play. Are you giving them enough unstructured time to create potions out of berries, and to ride their bikes playing cops and robbers?  Are you letting them eat popsicles on the sidewalk after they run through the sprinkler on a hot summer day?  If you don’t savor your summers now, you will soon be home alone while all of your children are working their part time jobs, and you will have no one to take to the library or to the park or to Tropical Sno…and this will make you sad.

Now look at your oldest kids—what are they? 6 or 7?  They are still children—not little adults—even thought they may seem that way when you compare them to your youngers.  Let them be kids and don’t expect them to think or act or clean their messes up exactly like you would.  If they want to wear the same Mighty Ducks t-shirt all summer long, let them.  They will never get the chance to be this carefree—and dirty—again.

You know how your kids sometimes beg you to read to them and how you try to skip pages in the book to make it shorter?  Don’t do that.  Spend as much time as you can with them on your lap; pretty soon they will be too big and bony to sit there.  Breathe in their curiosity and hunger for knowledge.  Their brains are sponges.  Help them soak up really good things—like scripture and music and words of adoration.  You are the gatekeeper of their minds right now—don’t let the garbage in.

Revel in the things that capture their attention—maybe it’s frogs or princesses or the little ants on your front step.  These childish affections will eventually be replaced by forced concentration on schoolwork and grades and sports. Soon, very soon, you will be going to bed before them because they have an analytical essay due the next day, and there will be no more conversations about poison dart frogs or Snow White or hard-working insects while tucking them in.

Even though it may feel like it, they will not be these ages indefinitely.  They will not  wear the cute jumper with the cat on the front or the flannel-lined jeans with the patches forever.  When they have outgrown them, and you are folding these items to give them away, you will tear up because you will suddenly realize that childhood is fleeting, that your kids are growing, and that you have taken it all for granted and you can never get it back.  This will make you yearn for them and their childish ways.  It will make you wish you could stop the clock right now and keep them exactly as they are.  But you won’t be able to stop it; everyone grows up.  That’s just how life works—even if we don’t appreciate its sweetness.

After you eat supper tonight, all together on the screened porch, and after your little ones go outside to play on the swing set, I want you to sit with your husband in the pleasant summer breeze and watch them as they giggle and scream.  Then, make a point to record that moment forever in your brain…because one day soon you will yearn for it.

And when they come in, and they are all bathed and beautiful and sleeping soundly in their beds, and after you have checked on them a million times to make sure they are still breathing, get on your knees and pray to God and say thank you for all of your blessings, your very generous blessings,

                          and this sweet, 

                                    golden time

                                           called childhood.                                                                      


   Very sincerely yours,


He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:2-4


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Key to Greatness

Things are starting to slow down around the Haverkamp house and I finally have some time to think.  When I can think, I can write, and when I write, I can blog. Here’s what I have been thinking about:

We are now in the process of teaching the fourth Haverkamp child to drive.  For those of you with young children, let me warn you; teaching teenagers to operate a two ton machine, with skill, and without killing anyone, is terrifying—which is why I let Brent do it.  Sometimes, when Brent is doing the teaching, I ride along in the back and close my eyes and pray, “Protect, protect, protect”, over and over again—I am not kidding.  It’s not that my teens are inherently bad drivers (Luke excluded—he knows this to be true.  He is 20 now and a great driver—and he’s in China right now and won’t read this post—but we narrowly escaped death several times in his early driving days), it’s just that driving requires them to use several of their mental processes at the same time.  It takes muscle coordination and good judgment. Have you looked at any 14 year old boys lately?  Mine is gangly and not always in control of his appendages, and his decisions are not always logical.  But the fascinating part of this whole scenario is this; with practice, these terrifying travelers eventually become reliable.  They drive and drive and drive, and then we let them go by themselves and they survive.  It’s truly amazing. 

What’s the key (get the pun?)? It’s training.  We sit beside them and guide them in and out of parking lots and onto freeway ramps.  We make them park in tight spaces and do three point turns.  We let them be nervous when they are driving on a two lane highway and a semi comes roaring toward them in the other lane.  We allow them to experience stress in a controlled environment, so when the real stuff comes along and they are alone, they will know how to deal with it.  And eventually they—even Luke--get good at this driving thing. Repetition makes habits.  Habits create skill.  Skill makes good drivers. 

Isn’t this what we should be doing as Christ-followers?  Shouldn’t we be training ourselves—and our kids—so we can become the best possible reflection of Jesus?  Instead of saying, “I’m not a very good pray-er”, how ‘bout we practice praying everyday—maybe setting a time for prayer, maybe writing out our prayers?  And then after we practice and practice and practice, prayer will come more naturally and easily.  And then when the hard stuff comes along, the stuff that makes our lives stressful, prayer will be what we think of first, because we have made it a habit.  And instead of saying, “I’ll leave the serving to others, cause that’s just not my gift”, how ‘bout we train by serving everyday?  Maybe in just simple ways, like making the bed for your wife (thanks honey), or by picking up the paper towels that fell out of the garbage can in the Target bathroom.  Then, maybe we’ll get so much in the serving habit that it will become part of our nature—even though it’s not our gift.  The same goes for basic disciplines like Bible study, evangelism, scripture memory—even eating healthy and exercising—’cause your body is His temple.  If we repeat these healthy, spirit-building habits enough—asking Jesus to assist us in our efforts--we will become skilled at them…and skill makes for a shiny reflection.

We can become highly proficient at things that we inhale vigorously (this phrase was coined by my oldest child when I wouldn’t allow him to say the word “suck”) at now.  Just look at our teenage drivers—they go from terrifying to terrific—especially Luke.  And we can go from reflecting Jesus mildly to reflecting Him magnificently.  But it takes a choice…and extra effort…and lots of practice.

Are you ready for greatness?

…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:7-8

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May Madness—same story, different year

(I realize that I posted something with this very same title and theme two years ago, but two years is a long time, and nobody remembers that post, so here I go again.)

Every year in May, I feel like I am swimming in a swirling body of water gasping for air.  There is a reason for this feeling.  Here it is:

In the first two and a half weeks of May, I have had 4 track meets, 1 scholarship banquet, 3 band concerts, 1 Senior night, 1 mission trip meeting, 1 dessert banquet for Girl’s track where we were the last table to get to the desserts and all that was left were some crumbly brown cookies made with a waffle iron, and cantaloupe, 1 hair appointment where I almost fell asleep, 10 trips to the workout room in our garage at 6 in the morning, with my hubby, to do P90X 2 (where you are supposed to do things that even Superman himself could not master), 3  mileage clubs at a school where my kids no longer attend, 1 trip to Holubs to buy flowers for the upcoming graduation party at my house, 1 trip to Lowes to buy a replacement boxwood bush to replace the boxwood that died so there wouldn’t be a hole in the ground when people came for the graduation party, 1 very expensive trip to Sam’s Club to supply all the many food items for the Mexican Fiesta graduation spread, 1 member’s banquet at church where I got some beautiful flowers, 1 fabulous graduation party for my fabulous graduate, who will graduate on Sunday…isn’t that fabulous?, 1 trip to Hickory Park with two beautiful mothers and one beautiful grandmother on Mother’s day, 1 Mother’s Day addendum coffee date with my mom where I presented her with a foam roller because who wouldn’t want a foam roller as a Mother’s Day gift?, 3 lunches with friends, 1 travel clinic appointment with Shay because she is going to Haiti in July and she needed drugs to keep Typhoid, Malaria, and Hep A at bay, 1 shopping trip with Luke who is only home for 6 days before he leaves for China for 3 months, to get shorts and dri-weave T shirts because it is REALLY HOT there, 1 trip to JCPenney to buy sandals for my little boy (who isn’t little anymore and who wears size 14 shoes), 1 eye doctor appointment, 1 baccalaureate, 1 lunch with the crew at Haverkamp Properties, 1 eleven mile run from Huxley to Ames to prepare for Dam to Dam which I can’t run now because 8,000 other people had registered a month early and they don’t take 8001, 1 big project (a sixteen page book proposal that I wrote and submitted for evaluation), and 1 wonderful email from a Focus on the Family magazine saying they wanted to publish one of my devotions—for money—for real—yipee!

So that’s what’s been keeping me busy…and gasping for air…but thankful to God …for my very full life.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to attend two days of the state track meet before I collapse on the floor.


Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Graduation To Not Do

My “TO NOT DO” list worked so well for Christmas that I have decided to implement one for Tess’s upcoming graduation party.  Because of the personality God gave me (check it out here), I struggle to match my expectations with reality.  But, since coming up with my “TO NOT DO” system this winter, I have been freed from a bunch of the restrictions I used to place upon myself.  Now I am a much nicer person during these preparation times.  Here is my plan for the week:


  • I will not worry about the graduation menu which Tess has chosen.  I’m not exactly sure everyone will know how to build a “Mexican Fiesta” out of chips, chicken, beans, and guacamole,  but I am planning to have her draw a detailed diagram of the finished product—with directions--and place it next to the multiple dishes of ingredients.  My job is not to understand, my job is to pay for groceries.
  • I will not pull every weed that exists anywhere around my house even if they make me nervous—because as we know from my previous post, nobody cares.
  • I will not remove the decor from the top of my cupboards and dust that spot, even though I have not dusted up there since Luke’s graduation two years ago, because no one, not even my dad, is that tall.
  • I will not worry about the huge dark spot on the cement by my door where my formerly 136 pound dog lays every day. I will just cover it with a colorful rug.  This will just add to the “Mexican Fiesta”  flavor. 
  • I will not make my children clean their rooms or bathrooms for the event.  I will just buy a roll of caution tape and put it across the hallway so that those who enter are warned (just kidding).
  • I will not worry about painting the lights on the detached garage—even though they are white and the ones on the house are brown—because I haven’t painted them yet and they have been there at least 10 years and no one has mentioned them—because as we remember, nobody cares.
  • I will not keep reminding my daughter that she needs to burn her graduation slide show to a DVD so we can show it on the TV.  It’s her thing…and anyway, it makes me sad to watch it.
  • I will not clean my very greasy grill which is on the porch where many will sit and eat their “Mexican Fiesta”, I will just remove it the garage and pretend it doesn’t exist.
  • I will not soak and cook dry black beans even though they’re cheaper, I will just buy a million cans at ALDIs.
  • I will not make my own salsa—even though it’s better than the jarred stuff—because it will stress me out to make enough for the masses.
  • I will not spend time excavating every one of Tess’s cute and adorable childhood artifacts to put on display because, pretty much, they are only cute and adorable to me.
  • I will not worry if my blog posts are few and far between during this busy time.
  • I will not ignore my family, saying I have to get ready for the party, if they beg me to eat pizza with them and watch “War Horse” in the basement—which will also be messy unless someone volunteers to tidy it up. 
  • I will not be mean to my husband when he offers to help.  Sometimes I’m not nice because I am obsessive.  Can you believe it?

Whew.  I feel free.  But now I need to clean my house.  But only because I want to.  But I’m not cleaning the garage. 

My kids will be so pleased.

And I will be so relaxed, I might even break into the graduation candy as a little reward for my lack of effort.  Don’t tell Tess.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Things I say to my kids…

My children think I’m weird because I say the same things over and over.  But I don’t think I’m weird because these things make sense.  See what you think:

“Be a kid as long as you can. You have to be an adult the rest of your life.” Basically, kids need to take full advantage of childhood, when summers are long and desserts are guilt-free.  I recently waxed eloquent on this one.  You can read it here.

“Everything in moderation.”  This is probably something I say daily.  I find real value in balance—whether it be in eating or exercising, socializing or spending.  It is my firm belief that anything of this world, taken to the extreme, is unhealthy for mind and body.  If I practice moderation in my daily routine, I can enjoy my work, my play, and my chocolate.

“Only touch it once.”  This phrase has probably saved me hours of work. Rather than bringing the mail in, separating it into good mail/junk mail, just throw the junk mail immediately, and save yourself a pile—and a touch.  Or instead of putting something in a basket on the stairway to help you remember to take it downstairs, just run, quick as a bunny, and take it downstairs immediately.  Get it?  Only touch it once.

“Little messes make big messes.” or the inverse, “If you clean up little messes, you won’t have big messes.”  When my children were younger and would pour 1,200 Legos on the floor all at once, I would cringe, and then in a fake, sweet–as–I-could-muster voice say, “When you get done playing, I want you to clean up that little mess before you get out more toys because, remember?  Little messes make big messes.  Or, in present day, when I bravely venture in Tess’s closet and am alarmed at the mountain of clothes as tall as myself, I cringe, and I say in a fake, sweet-as-I-can-muster voice, “If you clean up little messes, you won’t have big messes”, while trying to stress the importance of doing laundry at regular intervals, especially since college is on the very near horizon and roommates probably don’t want to share a room with a dirty-laundry hoarder.

“Make a place for it and you won’t lose it.”  This just seems to make sense—although maybe not to my children, as seen here. If you establish a place for something (and put it there every day after school, or every night before you go to bed)--like a wallet or phone or keys or your favorite stuffed chipmunk, Chippy—then YOU WILL ALWAYS KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR THAT ITEM and you won’t run around the house like a crazy person looking for it frantically before you leave. Enough said.  And by the way, it really really bugs me when people spell lose, loose.  When you lose a tooth, it falls from your mouth, but when your tooth is loose, it is merely wiggly, but still attached.  Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

“Nobody Cares.”  This may sound calloused, but in reality, it is true.  When you are 15 and concerned that you didn’t get that chunk of hair in the back of you head curled exactly right, you must remember, “Nobody cares.”  When your connection group is coming over to your house and you forgot to shine up the faucets in the half bath and the kid’s backpacks are still laying all over the counter, you must remember, “Nobody cares.”  When your brother looks weird because he got up exactly 2 minutes before the gang left for church, and his shirt is a little small, you must remember, “Nobody cares.”  And if you have to wear a cardigan because it’s chilly and the sweater has a V-neck, but you’re wearing it over a crew neck shirt, it’s not the end of the world, because you must remember, “Nobody cares.”

Well, that’s all the weirdness I can muster up today.  Stay tuned and maybe I will remember more valuable “Things I say to my kids.”