Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Hero Has Left Us

Once upon a time there was this Marine. He served 3 tours in Vietnam, came home, made a career for himself outside of the Corp, met a woman that intrigued he said. This woman, had been previously married and had 2 kids. He took time to have coffee with her on lunch breaks and took an interest in her as a person. Wouldn't you know the Marine and the single parent became really great friends. He finally persuaded her to marry him. She was unsure and probably felt a bit unworthy. He convinced her otherwise. Her kids were a bit challenging and hard to manage at times. But he took the time and endured the unruly days of earning their took many years. His sweet winks, encouraging words, numerous hugs, and daily drives of dropping the kids off at school started to stick. He became the husband and father that this family needed.

This man was unlike most. This Marine learned how to sew incredibly well. Why? because his new best friend enjoyed sewing. He did all the laundry for over 20 years. Why? Because his new best friend didn't like laundry. (and his jr high daughter turned all his white underwear pink) just saying! Over the years a friendship was forged and nothing could keep it from growing. Health took it's bite. People with unwanted opinions made their remarks. Finances took a tole. But in the end the two stood together. They traveled, enjoyed deep conversations (the kind that some people only dream of or see on tv), they followed their aspirations, they took care of one health and sickness, until death did it's part.

To explain the impact of his absence is......................not really possible. Flowers have petals, sunshine has warmth, a rainbow has color, music has rhythm, and we had John Koprowski. His principals, his example of love, his laugh, and his thoughtfulness will forever be in our hearts. We wanted more time...more Pappa. Don't we always want more of something that is wonderful? But everything has it's limits. Death is no stranger to humans but it is shocking. Cherish what you have. Hug those you love and tell them with your words. Today could be your last moment with them. John knew how we felt bout him. That, I am thankful for!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

White Suburbia, Middle Class Jesus

I often find myself betwixt emotions when it comes to figuring out our responsibility to serving when we live in such a rich and wasteful country. I love love love where we live and am so grateful for clean air, endless amounts of fresh food, and my religious freedoms. But I have traveled to numerous 3rd world countries and it is actually challenging to sleep when you've been up thinking about the lack of food and shelter that many people are receiving at that very moment. For a while I used to block those thoughts and I would just tell myself that "I didn't even want to think about others over 'there'". It was just too painful and it might mean that I have to DO something about those feelings. What to do when it all feels so helpless!?? How can 1 person help? How can 1 family make a difference? Sometimes I also find myself trapped in the myth that I must sell all my crap and move to downtown Phoenix and live/serve in the projects so that we can truly live a holy, God-Centered life. That's a pack of lies! So what's the answer? Just live where I live and soak it up and absorb all the materials and food and culture that I can and ignore my heart? Well, I have come to a place of peace for our family.

This is what we do. We realize that everyone needs Jesus, not just kids in Africa, homeless in Phoenix and we were born in wealthy America. Middle class, blue- collar, wealthy people.........they all need the Gospel. What can we do where we are? We can reach out to our middle class friends and offer support when her husband loses his job. We can offer support to the stranger in the grocery store that needs help. We can volunteer to help the 'Invisible' people in America. What? Yes, we can help those people who are sometimes overlooked: elderly, homeless, and handicapped. We can take our kids to nursing homes, assisted living homes, and we can continue to take our kids to serve in 3rd world countries so that they have a true world view. We can live as simple as possible so that we have extra funds to help people right here that need support. We can send money to organizations and missionaries in other countries: like Harvest India and Orchard Africa. We can adopt a child in a 3rd world country by sending support each month and then go visit her.

God has blessed us with 2 cars, a house, and an income. We don't have to buy the newest cars, the biggest and fanciest house (that our budget allows), go on vacation every year, or go to every new movie at the theater. We have learned to LOVE Goodwill, embracing stay-cations, and looking for more ways to serve here in Phoenix. We are still figuring out ways to be more pro-active about sharing Jesus here in Gilbert AZ. We still have a Loooooooooooooong way to go!!! But it's a start.

Jesus spoke about orphans and widows because I believe they were dear to His heart and He knew that they could easily be tossed aside by society. If they mattered to Him then they should matter to us.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Tiaras to Tea Cups

I truly cannot believe we've reached this milestone. My oldest is 10 and we only have 8 years left until she pulls out for college. So yes, I'm clinging to each moment and every activity, knowing that tomorrow comes much too quickly. We celebrated the first Alexander Pillar together this weekend: trustworthiness. Instead of renting out a spa salon, throwing a slumber party, or offering a bunch of toys, we decided to take the least traveled route. We celebrated this moment with some of my dearest friends- who might add wisdom to Kennedy's life. Don't get me wrong, presents and cake most certainly adorned our table the night before, but we wanted the focus to be on something a bit more meaningful. On Saturday morning tables with tea cups, flowers, and ribbon were set up in our back yard. A fancy cake was delivered, and about 15-17 ladies marched into our home with precious letters and fragile packages of tea cups and saucers. After diving into the delicious cake and drinking hot tea, each lady had an opportunity to sit down with Kennedy, one at a time, and read a carefully written card of advice and unwrap the tea cup with my new 10 year old. It was a truly precious moment. Throughout the year, Kennedy and I are going to make sure we drink tea from each cup and spend time revisiting the cards that were written. This engagement was a reminder to me that I am truly blessed by the presence of wise women, well beyond my years and experience. Not only are they filled with wisdom and love but they are supportive and committed to praying for my children. I need this support and cannot raise my kids without it. I'm a mom in training each day. I am learning and constantly doubting and asking questions. I need these ladies in my life so that my children might have a chance at growing into godly ladies and gentlemen that choose to serve Christ with a passionate and unquenchable spirit!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Making Family Count by Counting to 5

Seriously, had to dust off this blog cause I haven't written in so long. Not sure if it's cause I have 4 kids age 9 and under or because I'm at a total loss of words some days. Maybe both. But either way, I'm back. As the year kicks off we find so many people are trying to evaluate their lives and set some type of goals for the journey that lies ahead. I know I always like to aspire to further accomplishments each year. Why not have goals? They cause us to work harder and make what we have a better thing.

Last year I tried something new and plan to continue it this year. I always feel like I'm spread so thin and can't accomplish all that I want to get done. So I finally decided that I have to just focus on getting a little bit done each day instead of trying to take the hill each day. Makes no sense to me but some of us moms forget that we are not Super Woman. Go figure!

So each day I try to do these 5 things: Spend time in the Bible or reading a book that improves my life (however- the Bible is the best for me), do something helpful for my husband, do 1 thing on the housework list (i.e. laundry, vacuum, etc..), spend time playing with kids, and something for ME (exercise, nap, Coffee Shop). And so if you can count to 5, you can make it work. I will admit that some days, I only get 2-3 of those things done but I do shoot for 5. However, I'm not disappointed in only accomplishing a few. I know that my life will ebb and flow with my family. and one more thing.........

We are finally in the last stage of nailing down the Alexander Pillars. I can't function without vision and spend time wonder mindlessly through life; so I am anal and must have these in place. These pillars can literally encompass anything and everything that happens in life. Not only are they Pillars but 'rights of passages' for our children. My girls can already tell you what the 4 pillars are in our home. They have 4 birthdays that will revolve around these 4 pillars.

So here we go........ Trustworthiness hits at age 10. We will be talking with Kennedy this year and having a Tea Party with ladies that she looks up to and giving Tea Cups/Saucers to discuss this topic. Trustworthiness is so important for her to have with her relationship with her family and a great trait to look for in friends. At age 13, we will hit Gratitude (my FAVORITE). Gratitude can be the root of humility and humility is the essence of Christ- shall I say more?! Age 16, Responsibility- driving, dating, phones......blahhhhhhhhh- majorly important. Finally age 18, Compassion. A missions trip will hit again that year to a place they want to serve. Compassion for all people, of all races, all walks, and all sorts of different sins. All are loved by Christ. Hoping to always discuss these 4 pillars in our home but really make them special at certain moments in their lives. I don't know; maybe I"m crazy for doing this- hoping my kids aren't in a shrinks office one day talking about their crazy mom with 4 pesty pillars. But, my heart yells out for these characteristics and so does God's Word.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lasting Love

Tonight my eldest daughter and I sat up and watched Little Women after the other 3 drifted off into dreamland. Our kids are on a reward system that uses little magnets and she had earned enough magnets for a late night with parents. Of course, this is one of our kids' favorites cause they get to stay up late with us, eat a snack, and choose a movie or game. Tonight Kennedy wanted me to choose the movie. I chose one of my favorites; and since she has read the book, why not!! So here is the interesting part. Kennedy is pretty tough and will NEVER admit to crying during a movie...........just like me! During the movie, a baby was screaming and passed away from scarlet fever. A few moments later I noticed Kennedy doing her usual yawn with very teary eyes and explaining that she was just 'tired'. I paused the  movie and begged her to tell me which part made her sad. Took about 5 minutes but she finally broke down; and as tears raced down her cheeks, she mumbled out her sadness over the dying baby and how it made her think of Wyatt (our 7 month old). Well she done did it! Now we were both crying and my heart truly ached too.

I really never expected our kids to be so in love and enthusiastic over our new addition to the family. You see- we have 3 older kids who constantly compete with each other for everything: food, attention, scooters, cozy spots on the couch, the Wii controls, and so forth. All typical kids stuff but it's like we birthed 3 firstborn kids. Paul and I are both first-borns and highly competitive people with giant personalities. So we are both blessed and cursed by these traits, if you know what I mean! I wondered and even prepared myself for some sibling rivalry as the new baby might steal away some attention from them. But just the opposite has occurred. Paul and I are  merely shadows in the background and the well fare of the youngest Alexander has become priority to the older kids. When Wyatt was 3 weeks old, Kennedy looked at me with tears and said "mom, I hope nothing ever happens to Wyatt- I don't want him to die". I knew then that she had fallen........fallen in love with the bundle. Every mom falls hard right after the birth. We realize that we must protect, comfort, and keep our new bundle safe. It's a feeling of great anxiety and ridiculous responsibility. It's overwhelming. She was beginning to adapt these feelings, already as a 9 year old.

Over the last 7months I have seen my 3 kids swoon and fight for 1st place - looking for attention but not from Paul and I. They want Wyatt's eyes, giggles, and smiles to fall on their faces. They complain that their sibling is in their space as they try to entertain the baby. They want one/on/one attention with the baby- no sharing. I love it. Wyatt now has 4 'mommies' in his life; myself, Kennedy, Mia, and Lincoln. Everyone has an opinion when he cries. Everyone knows why he's crying: it's the diaper, he's hungry, he's tired. Everyone plays the mom in our house. Sometimes I have to gently remind them that I'm actually the one who birthed him, but I so appreciate all the comments and help.

I truly am a blessed mommy. People constantly ask me how the kids are doing with the baby, especially Lincoln. Linc is 5 years old and the biggest personality of all. The girls laugh at him as he dances and entertains the entire family at dinner. And yet, he doesn't seem to mind sharing his spot at all. He won't go to bed until he's hugged his baby brother. He won't even go into his church class or pre-school until he tells Wyatt good-bye and gives hugs/kisses. I am so happy to have a large family and children that are close and love eachother. Family is so important. I hope we stay close over the years. I dream of having a family like we have.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marriage.......on the Menu

Been married for a wonderful 17 years and have enjoyed many moments as well as regretted a few too! There is no perfect marriage and you figure that out as soon as you get back from your honeymoon. Seems like everywhere I turn, young couples are really struggling and some are actually drowning as today's culture permeates any and all values they might have had on their wedding day. I meet a lot of people with good intentions about their marriage but I can't help but feel like it's something on a menu. "It it works out, great- I'll keep ordering it up but if this crazy thing called marriage doesn't work out....I'll order up something else." The culture in American would have one believe that marriage is not to be taken seriously and is not a qualifier for commitment.

A healthy marriage needs a few key ingredients and this is what has worked for us.

1. A commitment to communicate effectively-

I have no problem communicating, in fact, I probably over communicate and with some loud and extreme body language. But, the key is to communicate 'effectively'. Proverbs is full of tips on how to communicate- with a gentle tongue, slow to anger.......etc....Basic stuff- slow down and listen to your spouse, repeat back what he said and stay on topic. The point is....COMMUNICATE and do so with love. Yelling constantly at one another or ignoring poor behavior in each other all together is not a wise choice.

2. A commitement to time together-

We have always tried to make it a priority to do stuff together with just the 2 of us. We have 4 kids under the age of 10 so our house sounds like a circus losing control to the Wizard of Oz monkeys! It's loud, it's crazy, and sometimes messy! At the dinner table, Paul and I just look at eachother and the expressions on our faces says it all- "Let's just talk later". We put the kids to bed and run down the stairs and pull out the ice-cream and turn on the Voice! It's a major crime for kids to get up out of bed in our house. This is "mommy and Daddy time". We also invest cash into lots of dates out of the house and every 5 years we go away somewhere romantic and amazing for a week.

3. We talk about EVERYTHING-

You may think this is the same as bullet #1 but it's not. I'm not talking about 'how' we communicate but talking about the content. We literally talk about everything: work, sex, kids, hobbies, passions, relationship with God, our weaknesses, strengths, friends, and even about YOU! :) We decided early on in our marriage that we would NOT be roommates just coexisting together for the sake of  'staying married'. We will "live" life together in the bad times and the good times.

4. A commitment to God

If you are truly committed to serving and pleasing our Savior and loving Him, then you have no choice but to love your spouse. Reading the Bible and learning about His Grace and His love for us only grows us closer together. It's when I stray from my communication with God that my relationship with Paul begins to quiver. Something else that is quite spectacular about a commitment to God is that He spurs within us a desire to grow as a person and that means cleaning out our closets. You heard me- that means I have to deal with my crap and the skeletons of insecurity, private sins, pride, selfishness and even my past childhood abuse. I have to face down my demons in order to grow with Paul. Only God can pick us up, dust us off, wash away the junk from the past and issue us a new beginning. This is the most important part of our marriage- our nucleus- so to speak.

So, if you're married - treat it as a commitment not something on a menu. Not everyone is as fortunate as myself. I married an amazing partner. He is willing to communicate and talk with me as we face our challenges in marriage together. I understand that some of you are married to people who are not quite so willing. We cannot control other people but we can dominate our actions with God's love and we can hope. There is always hope. Be who God called you to be in your marriage.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mamma, You're Never 'Too' Busy!

Finished coffee with a dear friend today and headed over to pick up Linc from Pre-K. Well the day is almost half over and what do I need to do today? I always think in lists or categories. I can be anal and so I set daily goals. Typically, I have a 5  finger rule about my days. I feel pretty successful if I can get 3 out of these 5 things done:
1. Spend time in the Bible
2. Spend one-on-one time with atleast 1 kid
3. Do something for my hubby, Paul
4. Exercise
5. Do 1 house chore

So I began thinking about which of these 5, maybe all, would I tackle today?! I guess I can be a bit of an 'over- achiever' at times- not sure why but some of my girlfriends have pointed that out?? So I have really mellowed out in the last 9 years. Birthing 4 kids will do that to a person. It used to be that I wanted my house to be in tip-top shape, everyday. I wanted an extensive bible study completed every day. I wanted an incredible meal sitting on my table every night. I wanted to look like a 'hot mamma' for my hubby every day. I wanted to be the most amazing, creative, energetic, and patient mom........EVERYDAY! Who and What did I think I was? Superwoman?!! Probably! Unrealistic expectations for me.

Thinking like this landed me in a pit! So instead of cranking out checklists, I've decided to look at the quality of my day, not the quantity of tasks. So today, I vacuumed, washed 1 load of laundry, made power/engery snack balls, and played 'guys' with Linc and took the challenge of a sword fight and WON! If my day ends right now.......I feel content. I could have pushed the idea of playing guys and sword fighting to the side cause I really do have lots of cleaning to do and I nurse a 7month old every 3 hours. But, I have to realize that dishes, laundry, floors, and books have no feelings. My children, my husband, and my own self being need to be nursed along. So exercise is regular for me. I feel more fit and energetic- not so- "hot mamma"- but I feel good. I've accepted the reality that my kids need my hugging arms around them more than the glasses/ plates that await me. And more importantly, my husband needs my full attention after kids go to bed. I can get up early and finish the chores tomorrow. Or we can do them together that night so that we have more time together. Perspective wins everytime! Who did I spend time with today? How did I impact them? How did I grow myself? I'm still working on this but crawling along slowly. Don't be too busy for the reaching arms but if you're too busy to do dishes today and it looks like a hurricane destroyed your  home, that's okay. Tomorrow awaits! All in my opinion, of course!

Shortcuts that our Pirates Will Take!

 Seems like each day I notice some nuances or funny little things that are out of place as I pick up the house during the day. I'm starting to see some trends and I must admit that back in my early years, I found these things to be irritating. But now.........I snicker a little bit cause it reminds me that my kids actually behave like real 'kids'- go figure!! So just for the top 10 shortcuts that Alexander kids take in order to get things done. Any of them sound familiar? They make me laugh!

10. When cleaning their room,  trash is hidden in pile behind the door- duh!

9.  Instead of folding pjs and putting them away- after wearing them for 1 night, they get put into laundry basket- I'm thinking to myself- "didn't I just wash these yesterday?"

8.  Coat hangers get shoved into the underwear drawer instead of put back in closet.

7.  Used floss strips are hidden in drawers in bathroom instead of thrown away. yuck!

6.  Dirty socks are hidden inside shoes and worn all week instead of put into laundry- upstairs. so far to walk!

5. Uniforms that fall off hangers in closet are rolled into balls and hidden in the corners of the closet- nice thinking!

4. Beds are slept on without sheets or quilts being pulled back so that they don't have to make them the next day. hmmmm.....maybe Paul and I should try that!LOL

3.  Empty almond milk containers and cereal boxes are put back into frig/cupboards instead of being thrown away. Makes no sense to me!

2.   Older kids use 'extortion' to get younger kids to help with chores- "you help me with chores and I'll give you something or help you next time"- that never works out!

1. Girls will divert from cleaning up the dog poop outside by complaining that ALL of it is soft and can't be picked up! Wait a minute- I know Clifford didn't just poop 14 times this morning and we live in AZ with NO humidity- at 100 degress- the poop turns to stone before he finishes going! LOL