Instagram Feed

Instagram Feed

Jan 31, 2011

Worried Blessings

I'm a worrier. And an overthinker. And emotional.

Where it concerns my kids, it counts double.

The reason I bring this up is that today, I’m worried and over thinking and emotional. I heard three stories on Good Morning America about people who are abusing or killing or neglecting the children God blessed them with.

My stomach is tied up in knots about this world that I brought my kids into.

Of course this is not the first time I’ve been upset or disgusted by humanity and how children suffer at the hands of their parents or other people they love. I mean, it’s appalling if a kid is abused by a stranger or an acquaintance. But to be abused by someone they love and adore like a child loves their parents? It’s unfathomable to me that this kind of evil exists in a world that can also produce so much joy and light and goodness.

I hear these stories and picture what kind of hell these kids are living through and those thoughts stick in my brain for days or weeks or months. And then I worry about my kids, if someone would do something to them, if they would even just see something terrible, or worse. My imagination can be a wonderful place, but it can also draw up dark, vivid, scaring images that I cannot shake without a “God, please take these worries from my head” prayer.

I know I cannot control what others do; only what I do, how I react to others, and how I teach my kids to do the same. And that drives me crazy. I want to shelter my children and protect them from every evil I can envision, which would make me a smothering mother. And I know that’s not healthy, either.

I’m rambling.

What are the answers? Why do things unimaginable things happen to children? Why can’t we as a society protect them better? Why does God let idiots and crack heads and evil people even have kids? Why must these kids suffer so? It enrages me. It saddens me. It worries me.

In the shower this morning, I was asking God these questions…more like shouting him these questions. As a Christian, I know that God is with me and with those kids and even with those crazy-ass people who do these awful things. And I also know that God is strong enough for me to be mad at him sometimes, too, in my frustrated ignorance, expecting him to intercede.

It’s enough to shake my faith.

But then God nudged me as I listened to my Jonny Lang CD on the way to work and reminded me that he’s there with us all inside our heads, hearing us scream out; if we hand him our burdens, he’ll give us peace; if we give him our chains, he’ll set us free; and he’ll never leave us or forsake us or abuse us...

Anyway, it’s a beautiful song – listen for yourself (if the link below works).

It made me think that he’s probably more saddened when one of his children is hurt or killed than we are. He’s probably more disappointed and angry when one of his children commits these awful atrocities than we are.

And also reminded me of the responsibility I have to protect my kids, to love my kids, to be thankful everyday for my kids, to guide my kids…but not to control my kids. My job is to “train them in the way that they should go and, even when they are old, they will not depart from it”. The rest I have to surrender to God.

Jan 28, 2011

New Blog Background

I'm already starting to suffer from light deprivation, my annual winter ailment that begins promptly on the first day of February. I get claustrophobic and feel like I could jump out of my skin and my spring fever runs at dangerously high levels until, finally, a rare warm-ish March day gives me hope that indeed the sun will shine again (at which point I will listen to Don Henley in the car with my windows down and the heater on full blast).

So until that rare warm day, I've changed my blog background to a sunny, summery scene. Hope it makes you feel warm and sunny, too.

Jan 25, 2011

My Dad

Dad's birthday is tomorrow. He'll be 64 years old. And what a wonderful 64 years it's been. Not always easy, but always wonderful...

Just like George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life.

While it's not Dad's favorite movie (because he doesn't like all the sad parts), he and George are a lot alike.

Dad fell in love with his high school sweetheart, married her, had a family with her, and is still crazy about her over 40 years later. He worked hard at school, went to college for a short time, then went to Vietnam. He came home and started a career, worked hard, and always made time for family and church (thanks in large part to Mom's guiding). He always does the right thing, even if it isn't what he wants to do.

And, oh, the lives he's touched. Just like Clarence the angel from the movie says, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives". The world was a completely different place, a much worse place, without George Bailey in it. And the same goes for Steve Barker.

Dad taught airmen in Vietnam, he teaches Sunday school, he sometimes fills in for the pastor at my church and gives stirring sermons, he sings in a community choir, he's built strong relationships with farmers and growers and businessmen and co-workers through work, he plays Santa for our family and many others at Christmas...and those are just a few of the ways he's surely touched lives.

So, on the eve of my dad's birthday, I give thanks to him for being such a wonderful father, devoted husband, loyal friend, loving brother and son; and I give thanks to God for blessing me and everyone else by putting Dad in our lives.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Jan 22, 2011


The kids' new favorite hideout.

Since Rich built our new organizing shelves, both kids fit inside the cabinet perfectly, even with the doors shut.

Jan 21, 2011


Do people ever really change?

Once I had a friend named Misty. She spent Christmases with my family, had her sweet daughters baptized with my son, confided in me, laughed with me, cried with me, said she considered me a sister. I loved this girl. I loved her family. I loved her brother, Victor, and saw so much potential in him. They were part of my life.

Then everything changed. Misty did strange and dangerous things, lied, manipulated, and eventually cut me and all her closest friends out of her life. Honestly, it was a relief at that point for the friendship to end because of the crazy amounts of drama that were all tied up in it. But I would have stayed. I thought she would eventually figure it out and realize how precious friendships are.

She didn’t.

Now her brother, Victor, is back in prison. I saw in him an extraordinary soul - I genuinely did. Something I’ve rarely seen before or since. But he just couldn’t shake his childhood and drugs and bad decisions, I guess. I don’t know. After he got out of jail the first time and was recovering from being shot, he tried to change his life (or at least it seemed that way). He met with my pastor, came to church with us, got a job. He was on a straight path. I had such high hopes for this kid.

But now he’s in prison.

So do people ever really change?

I like to believe they do. And logically I realize that some people do change and turn their lives around. Even in my own small way, I've overcome some pretty stupid decisions and self destructive behaviors; I've changed. But maybe that's considered maturing and not so much changing, as my stuff was mostly just youthful indiscretions and dumb decision making. Misty and Victor have a lot of crazy shit to overcome and don't have a lot of unconditional support and love in their lives (some of which is by choice), so maybe that's the difference. But I know some people who have overcome some jacked-up childhoods and are outstanding people in spite of it. So what's the difference there?

I don't know.

Maybe some people are just bad or mean or perpetually lost. But like my wise mother pointed out, even if that's the case, most people aren't just born that way. They became that way through abuse, neglect, mental instability, drugs...something turns people that way. I guess I know where my eternal compassion comes from.

I will always wonder why and wish that things were different. But I recognize that I have no control over what other people do. And that I will forever and always be surprised and sometimes disappointed by people. That's just life.

But at the same time, I will forever and always be astonished by the beauty and strength of people. And I'm so blessed to call so many of those people my friends and family. And that's just life, too.

The good and the bad. The disappointments and the astonishments. The hurt and the joy. The hope.

Regardless of what people do or how they may stumble or how they may even hurt me, I guess I will always hold out hope for them. Call it naivety. Call it foolishness. Call it what you will. But through it all, I will never stop praying and believing and hoping.

God holds out hope for us all. Shouldn't I aspire to do the same?

Paging Dr. Cole...

Jan 20, 2011

Little Hands

Not sure if you can see these hand smears on the window in the shape of Sam and Lena's little fingers, but I had to take a picture of them before I cleaned them off.

How many more years of cleaning tiny hand prints off my windows do I have left? I want to enjoy every last slobbery, greasy one.

After cleaning the windows, Sam wanted to pose for a couple pictures with his favorite toys. I cut his hair last night - looks cute, doesn't it.

Jan 18, 2011

Another Snowball Pight

Lena was a little reluctant to go out.

But she ended up having a good time, as evidenced by the snowball residue left on the windows from their attack on the house.

Lena came in first. It was just so cold and she's just so little. I got her into dry clothes and bundled her up and then, in came Sam and Daddy.

Sam warmed himself by the fire, sitting on his pillow pet, drinking some milk and enjoying a popcorn snack...

What a life.

Jan 16, 2011

Lena's First Purse

Aunt Lori gave my baby girl the best re-gift ever last week.

I little girl in Lori's preschool class came bearing gifts for her favorite teacher, one of which was an old pink polka dot corduroy purse she didn't want anymore...just what Lori needed.

Since Lori has her share of pink polka dot purses already, she decided to give Lena this one.

And Lena LOVES it. She puts everything in it - Sam's Bakugans, wooden veggies, my blush brush, army guys, a weeble wobble.

She is set for every contingency, a characteristic she inherited from me, to be sure.

Thanks, Aunt Lori, for another perfect present!

Jan 15, 2011

Potty Training Day Three: A Success!

I was gone most of the day today with Nichole, one of my very best friends, traveling to Perrysburg for our sweet friend, Kim's, baby shower. It was a special day. But more on that later.

Right now I'm updating Sam's potty tally:

8 successful pees and only 2 accidents! Way to go Sammy!

I was nervous to leave Sam on our third day of potty training. But Rich took over the reins expertly and led Sam toward his best day yet. I'm so proud of both of them.

A great day for the Cole family!

Jan 14, 2011

Potty Training - Day Two: Give Me Strength

Yesterday was our first real day of potty training.

After many half hearted attempts by us and by Sam, we've decided to get down to brass tax here and get this thing knocked out.

He just turned three. It's time.

I would consider yesterday a success: 6 pees on the potty and 3 accidents. Sam took it all in stride, too. I'm so proud of him.

We prayed the night before for patience and perseverance for Sam and me, and God was listening. Even Lena was patient as we set the timer every 30 minutes and sat in the bathroom with our expectant listening ears on as we awaited Sam's next successful pee. It was an exciting day.

Today, not so much.

It's just been one of those mornings with which all moms are all too familiar. Everyone, including me, woke up on the wrong side of our respective beds/cribs. There's already been lots of crying (not by me, but I'm not counting myself out yet) and impatience is running rampant.

Lori told me yesterday that when you pray for patience, God doesn't give you patience - he gives you opportunities to exercise did she get all the brains and the beauty?

So that's what today is, right God? Yesterday was an easy day - no patience necessary. Today is the real test. Today Sam's refusing to pee, Lena's tantruming about everything, and I'm feeling the urge to yell and threaten instead of parent.

Well, bring it on. With your help, Lord, I will squelch my urge to freak out, I will distract and nap Lena appropriately, I will persevere with potty training without traumatizing Samuel forever, I will bake a giant ham for dinner, and even bust out some songs and dancing...together we will turn this day around and be victorious!


Jan 12, 2011


This is Baby, Sam's very favorite, won't sleep or do much else without him, toy.

Baby is Sam's constant companion and best bud.

And how does a newly 3 year old boy care for his best bud, his constant companion? Well, he does everything to care for Baby that we do to care for Samuel.

After we trim Sam's nails, Sam takes the clippers and trims Baby's nails. After we clean Sam's ears, Sam takes a Q-tip and cleans Baby's ears.

And the pièce de résistance, after we give Sam a bath and wash his hair, the next morning when Sam wakes (an hour before the rest of the house) and plays in his room, he gets the thick eczema lotion we put on him at night from his drawer and "washes" Baby's hair with it.

It must have been easier than he thought, though, because he also had time to "wash" the carpet, chair and a blanket.

When I saw the mess and asked Sam what had gone down, Sam proudly answered, "Me wash Baby's hair". I just laughed and thought it was about the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

Sam laughed too, until it was time for him to help me clean up the mess...

That boy of mine, I swear...he makes my heart leap every single day!