Sunday, March 10, 2013

Are we a normal family?

Perhaps I should ask, Is there any such thing as a "normal" family?  And who gets to decide what's normal?  I mean, even if you go all the way back to the first family---you know, Adam and Eve and their kids---you find problems.  Cain killed his brother Abel out of rage and jealousy, right?  At least we Ostranders have not gotten that bad, so maybe there's hope for us yet!  (Although the Bible does say, As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he...........)

We have always had a good sense of humor running through our family.  Chad has always liked a good joke and been ready to laugh at life, as have I.  Either he and I have always had similar funny bones or we've simply grown that way throughout our marriage.  My mom is a fun person and my dad has a warped sense of humor (inside joke!), so there was no possibility of any of us kids reaching maturity without learning how to be silly.  Chad and I have passed that on to our own children, poor things!  If there is any chance of cracking a joke or making a play on words or being just plain sarcastic, we'll find it..........and then spend the next ten minutes enlarging on the possibilities until we're rolling on the floor.  (This makes it difficult to sit soberly on the front pew during a service!)  Anyone who does not know our family may well think that we hate each other's guts sometimes, due to the lack of compassion shown to each other during one of these silly spells.

For instance, Amanda's thing with her brother is to say, "If you don't stop that, I'm going to push you over."  Mind you, Dale probably has been doing something annoying and deserves to be suppressed (anybody read Alice in Wonderland?  the Red Queen saying, "Suppress that pig!"), and of course Mandie would never actually push Dale over just to see him fall.........well, maybe!  But, to someone who is unaware of our family's sick idea of a joke, she sounds like a mean big sister.  :-)  After Sunday school this morning, Dale was trying to talk me into letting him get a second donut before the main service.  I was not in the mood to try to keep Dale upright (he's gets shaky when surrounded by crowds), steer through the jumble of kids in the gym, and keep him from squashing his donut when he jerks---all at the same time.  So I said no to the donut.  Dale began semi-whining about how unfair it was and how much he wanted another donut, trying to change my mind.  I stood firm, saying no repeatedly, until I finally said, "Dale, you know I can just walk off and leave you here."  Now, to those around, I probably sounded rather uncaring of my poor son's condition, him having drowned in the Pacific Ocean a year and a half ago and being miraculously brought back to life and being unable to just up and walk away on his own.  Whatever.  He laughed; I laughed; and together we ignored any looks anyone may or may not have given me.  (I don't know if there were any looks; I didn't look to see!)

If we didn't have laughter, if we didn't have a smile, if we didn't know how to look for the humor in every situation, our family would be in a world of hurt.  I am, by nature, a very depressing person to be around.  I tend to see the negative in any given situation; I make myself sick with worry any time we plan even a day trip for the family; I can instantly list a dozen things that will go wrong if we are asked to help out with something.  I'm not kidding........ask my family---they'll tell you, "Mom gets overworked about the smallest thing."  I try to balance this natural negativity with humor as much as I can (sometimes to the point that I feel bi-polar).  I try to deliberately see the light side of things because I don't have to work to see the dark side.  Are you this kind of person, too?  Do you habitually see all the bad things that could happen and have to work at seeing the good?  I know our God is not a depressed individual---although He could be, seeing how very wicked mankind has become.  God implores us to look for the good in life, to focus on His blessings and not on our troubles, to seek to make ourselves and those around us better each day by our attitudes.  I do not want to be one of those people who others dread to see coming, thinking, "Oh, no!  They're going to pull me down with them."  I want to be one who lifts others up, who makes them feel better about themselves and their day, just having talked to me.  Who knows---maybe I'm expecting too much of myself.  Who am I to think anything I say or do could seriously impact another person's life?  Of course, I'm being deliberately negative right here.  But, sometimes, that's how I if I'm no good, as if there's no point in even trying.  And then the Holy Spirit smacks me upside the head and says, "This is why Jesus saved you?  So that you could wallow in your self-imposed misery?'  God did not create anyone to be miserable.  He loves us each the same and desires us to rejoice in the Lord.  Sure, sometimes it is impossible to rejoice in life itself; I do not take joy from Dale's drowning, nor do I believe God expects me to.  If you get into a car accident, you do not have to say, "Oh, yes!  This is wonderful!"  If your children get sick (as one of mine was this week), God does not demand we clap our hands for joy.  But, there is that verse in the Bible that says, "In everything give thanks......."  Not for everything, but in everything---while you're in it.  This I can do!  I can stop and deliberately say, "Thank You, Lord, for allowing this into my day today.  Please help me bring glory to You by my actions and reactions to this."  Easier said than done---takes a great deal of practice---but well worth it!

Our family is no different from yours; we have our ups and downs; we get sick and pass it all around; the kids fail tests at school and bring down the wrath of Dad and Mom on their heads; we fuss and fight with each other and then make up and be best of friends again.  (A little too much of that last one!)  Chad and Katie and Emily have been fighting a nasty cold for a couple of weeks.  Just when Katie starts to get better, she catches another germ and starts coughing all over again.  Emily started throwing up early Saturday morning and continued until about 6:00 Saturday evening.  I caught the family cold around Thursday and am steadily getting worse with it.  My throat was horribly scratchy until Saturday morning; now I'm just snuffily and sneezing and coughing.  I made it to morning church, but Chad told me to stay home tonight.  Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow for school or the day's lessons might be unintelligible.  Dale started out the day rather roughly yesterday---he almost had a seizure twice on the stairs, coming down in the morning.  His legs were jerking nonstop and his eyes got wide; he called out "MOM!" twice even though I was right there.  Dale said he can hear a high-pitched whine in his ears when a seizure starts; if it gets louder and stronger, then the seizure will take over.  He also feels a sensation (maybe like numbing?) in his feet each time a seizure starts.  Both of these were present yesterday, causing him to panic.  He hates knowing he's about to have a seizure, and who wouldn't?  I held his legs still for him and tried to help him calm down.  When he was able to listen I told him, "Dale , if you do have a seizure on the stairs, I can handle it.  It's happened before, and I know what to do.  Don't worry."  This helped him realize that, even if he did have another seizure, he'd be safe and taken care of.  We still haven't figured out yet what brings on his seizures, although my husband believes it may be attributed this time to the change in his sleep schedule.  We had a couple of days off school, so Dale stayed up a bit later and slept in each morning.  Chad's probably right---he always is!

Well, find something to praise God for!  We each have our own problems and cares in this life; if we choose to focus on those, we'll miss all the wonderful blessings and downright joy God has for us.  God made us to praise Him.  Are you fulfilling your purpose?

Psalm 150: 6  "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD."


  1. Kirsten I loved this post. If god doesn't like a sense of humor, why did he give me the ability to tell jokes that will make folks laugh until they cry, or groan (I'm awful with puns lol). And when I think of the number of times that humor helped to lighten up a sad situation, I rejoice. God gave us this ability, that I am sure. It's gotten me through the first 56 years of my life, and it will continue to do so (remind me to tell you how to joke during choir, been there lol). As always, you always know what to say, thank you again for this blog. You and the Ostrander clan are in my prayers, all my best. Eric

  2. I wish I didn't have to hear about Dale's seizures, but I don't know God's plan. And I love reading that sometimes you are anxious, that it is natural, even for such a faithfilled person. I know you have a stronger faith than I do, so when I read of your having doubts, difficulties, it makes me feel better about my weak faith, that those are all about human nature. After all, didn't the human Jesus cry out on the cross; My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

  3. I still check in with your family from time to time- I contacted you here about a year ago, when my cousin's baby was fighting for his life and lost. Her entire family fractured since then. The funeral was a mess. A lot of family didn't even show up- my own immediate family included. Her mother was late to the service and giggled throughout (I think she was high on something). She was a disgrace.
    And everyone has fallen apart since. My cousin's husband never came home after the funeral. They divorced. The teens have been violent with her. The 15 year old was caught abusing an animal, both the 15 yr old and 12 yr old have been in a lot of trouble, one has had a psychiatric hospitalization. The 12 yr old is in a special day program, but the older one is truant. The 9 yr old girl now lives with her dad. Her 19 year old is now a single mother and does not speak to her mom. She has no job, lost her car, and is alone with these violent boys. It's just such a mess.
    It's good to see that even in adversity, you have come together and have faith. I wish the best for Dale and your entire family!