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Be Still


I could learn a lot from the cats that live with us. Having been home the last couple of days I’ve had the opportunity to see them in action (or lack there of) and while it’s not easy for me to just sit (after all, that Christmas tree is waiting to be taken down) that is exactly what I’ve been doing (between games of Words with Friends and watching the birds coming to our feeders).

I’ve got a nagging thought in the back of my head to find that perfect bible study to lead and what about that Christmas devotion book that never got taken off the shelf? But the devotion I received in my inbox yesterday reminded me that I don’t have to strive so hard to draw closer to God. Psalm 46:10 reads “Be still, and know that I am God”.

It’s okay for me to sit and enjoy watching the birds – they are part of God’s creation, too. Or to read a good book or to just sit and rest…like my cats are so good at.

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We’re Home Part 2

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32

We close on the sale of our condo tomorrow – what’s that you ask? You thought we sold it already? Most people do sell their current home before buying another…and no, we’re not independently wealthy like some of our friends have insinuated. I actually joked about it saying that I “am a graduate of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and that’s how we can afford two mortgages”…not that Dave Ramsey would approve but hey I am a graduate! 😳

The truth of the matter is the circumstances surrounding the original sale of our condo – which fell into the toilet – turned into a horribly incredibly ugly mess (hence the Bible verse at the beginning of this post) which I (we) handed over to God because we couldn’t handle it ourselves.

During this time of great trial we obviously stepped out in faith – trusting that God would bring a buyer. And He did – one with cash, no less. We trusted in Him and let Him handle the whole ugly mess. He took away our anger (some of our friends thought we should sue). He took away our worry (some of our friends thought we were nuts). We were obedient to Him (giving in ways that wouldn’t make sense to the average person – I don’t want to share details because I don’t want it to sound like boasting but believe me when I say that you would probably think we were totally whacko). And look at how we were blessed!

The following are notes I took during a sermon given by our Pastor Tim Taylor at Hope Reformed Church earlier this month:

GOD IS FOR ME!! Live the best that He has to offer. Listen to the promises He speaks into our lives. Thank Him for the promises he makes. Continue to pray through things despite difficulties that occur. God provides and is faithful all the time. Provision doesn’t mean absence of opposition. We have to be willing to step out in faith even though we may look a little foolish and pray big bold prayers. We have to be willing to trust Him. When God starts a promise He finishes a promise. Claim His promises and know that God provides abundantly. There is no limit to God’s power and what He can do. If you don’t take the risk you forfeit the miracle.

Is their any limits to Gods power? No

Faith is the willingness to look foolish. Step out in faith.

We did.


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We’re Home!

Three Saturdays ago we finally moved into our little blue house. For awhile there it didn’t seem like this day would ever come. But, finally on a day that was one of the hottest days of the year, moving day was suddenly here. Thanks to our family and some great friends, we have successfully moved our belongings in.

Driving down Lake Avenue to get home reminds me of driving to my friends’ cottage. I never dreamed what a sanctuary our home could be. We are far away from traffic noise and we have lots of wildlife in our backyard.

As I’ve been putting things away, I’m finding things that actually match my kitchen counter tops and that I have a cupboard that my big bowls fit in. And speaking of cupboards, I have more than I know what to do with – but I’m sure by the time everything is unpacked they will all be used. Anyway, the way things are fitting in, I can’t help but think that this house ~ our little blue house ~ is the perfect one for us. The one that God wanted us to have.

As we were moving…and those of you who have moved recently know what a huge chore this is…I also couldn’t help but think how everything happens in God’s perfect timing. A year ago, as much as we wanted to move out of our condo, neither one of us were healthy enough to do so. We are very tired from our move but we are so very thankful that we are now in good enough health that we were able to do it!


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We’re moving!

I remember exactly where we were five years ago and it seems like it was a lifetime ago. Nick and I had met the previous year and had fallen in love and were engaged to be married. (We met on Yahoo Personals.)

We hadn’t set a wedding date yet because we couldn’t quite see how everything was going to work out. I lived in a condo in Grand Haven and he owned a home in Grand Rapids and he worked in Big Rapids.

But I remember it like it was yesterday…when we stepped out in faith. We decided to trust God and we finally set a wedding date…even though we had no idea how we were going to pull this off.
Shortly before we were married (in May of 2008) we decided to sell both our places so that we could buy a new “ours”. Worrying about how Nick was going to manage the daily commute to Big Rapids from Grand Haven was for naught as he lost his job shortly after we were married. Wow! We didn’t see that one coming! This turn of events resulted in a change of plans – we took my condo off the market. Thankfully we were able to sell Nick’s home just before his severance ran out.
After over two years of looking for a new job, Nick finally decides to retire. (He keeps busy volunteering for Love INC and pursuing his hobby of ‘spiking’ – researching, finding and digging up artifacts from 100 year old logging railroads.)

Fast forward to last Spring – we decide to put the condo on the market again and finally, after nearly 14 months we sold it!

We are finally going to move into “ours” in less than a month and we can’t wait! God had a plan for us (and He has a plan for you) and while it seemed impossible at first and maybe not how we thought it should go or when we wanted it to, He has been very, very good to us!


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A Girl’s Best Friend

My son’s family is fostering a puppy. His name is Rooger. I’m guessing they will keep him. He’s pretty smart and very cute. We got to meet him last night for the first time. I was taken aback how much he reminded me of my Dandy.

Her name was Dandy – and she was a dandy dog!

We adopted Dandy from the local humane society shortly after I started working there. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her. She was a beautiful puppy and she grew into a beautiful dog. The kennel staff deemed her a shepherd/lab mix but we discovered later that she was actually a Rhodesian Ridgeback – African lion hunter!

Dandy was really great with my kids – Joe was almost 6 when we got her and Jessica was just turning 3. She was a little afraid of toddlers though because my nephew, Kyle, bit her several times when he was little. Dandy steered clear of little ones after that.

Dandy was my first (and last so far) dog as an adult. I had dogs growing up: Spot and Rod both tragically hung themselves during a thunderstorm and Joe, my Dalmatian, (yes, I eventually had a son with the same name) was shot by a neighbor. My last dog as a kid, Huggy Bear, didn’t recognize me when I came home from college, so my parents found another home for him.

One thing that my kids probably don’t realize yet is how Rooger will attach himself to their hearts.


Dandy was a healthy dog who lived to the ripe old age of 16. She stayed by me through two divorces, one move, and three different cats. During Jessica’s senior year of high school Dandy started having seizures. By then she was officially an ‘old lady’ dog. The thought of having to put her down was more than I could bear. Nick, who was my fiancé at the time, assured me that I would know when the time had come to do so. And sure enough, Dandy had a seizure that she never came out of. The time had come to say goodbye to my best friend. And I don’t know if this is typical but I would like to think that the tears that flowed from her eyes as she was taking her last breaths were for me. Lord knows I cried many for her. I miss you, Dandy!

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My Success Story – to be continued…

When I was contemplating what to write about next, I thought “why not share something you’ve already written?” So I’m sharing a story I wrote back in November of 2007. I joined TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) in May of 2006. This is pertinent to my life today, as I’ve recently rejoined TOPS after a 9 month hiatus (I didn’t want to gain back all of the weight I worked so hard to lose.) I actually wrote the following as a program that I shared at a TOPS meeting.

My Success Story

By Janice Bates

This is the picture that was taken when I joined TOPS in May of 2006

I would like to introduce some very important people to you…these are my friends, my co-workers, but most importantly, my support. Each of these people has played a significant role in my successful weight loss.

As of this writing, I’ve lost over 63 pounds. My friend Sandy (and fellow TOPS member) has lost over 45 pounds. My friend Kelley (and fellow TOPS member and coworker) has lost over 45 pounds, and my friend Craig (and fellow coworker) has lost over 60 pounds…that’s over 213 pounds between us. We are serious about what we are doing and we are making it a priority in our lives to take care of ourselves.

In May of last year my good friend Sandy and I walked into a TOPS meeting not knowing what to expect but we were excited about losing weight and a little bit scared. I weighed 238 pounds at my first weigh in, yes I can now admit to the world how much I weighed…there was a time in my life that I thought I would be taking that secret with me when I died…but now that I am on the other side of it – I can now admit it. At this first meeting I was wearing a size 20 pair of jeans, an extra large t-shirt and a men’s size 3X long-sleeved shirt. While I could squeeze into a size 20 I was more comfortable in my size 22’s. My sweatshirt size at that time was also 2X. I remember walking to the meeting that night, that my pants were so tight that I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes. The reality is I was FAT. My BMI – Body Mass Index was 38, and according to the experts, a BMI over 30 is considered obese.

I have enjoyed talking about myself to others in hopes of inspiring them to take action and make changes in their life so that they can be as successful as I have been with my weight loss. I am very close to gaining my KOPS status, and I plan to take my part as a role model very seriously.

I’ve gone from a size 22 pants, 20 dress, 2X sweatshirt…to a size 12 pants and yes I can even wear some 10’s…I wear a medium size top and medium sized dresses fit me, too. No more shopping in the big ladies section of the store…and boy is that great!!! And believe it or not, my shoe size has even gone down a ½ a size.

But how did I get here? What is my secret? What am I doing that maybe you are not doing?

Well my good friend Sandy could tell you what a lazy cuss I was before joining TOPS. I admit I was lazy…lazy, lazy, lazy. But I am still lazy, believe it or not. I am too lazy to do complicated meal planning, I am too lazy to do complicated exercise programs. I am too lazy to join a gym or exercise class.

I am a firm believer in the KISS approach. And for those of you not familiar with this it stands for KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! I keep my meals simple. And I keep my exercise plans simple.

A typical day of eating (and I strive to write down everything I put in my mouth) is usually yogurt and goldfish crackers for breakfast, a cup of fresh fruit for a mid morning snack, a taco (fresco style) at Taco Bell (and I walk there to get it), fresh veggies and fat free dip for a mid afternoon snack, and a sensible dinner (usually a chicken dish with steamed veggies and/or a salad) that I usually split with my fiancé, Nick, if we go out to eat…and no eating after dinner is over. Simple, simple, simple.

Nick & I celebrating our 1st year anniversary

My exercise plan includes walking on my lunch hour with my friend and coworker, Kelley, and walking to and from work on the days that I can. I also take walks in the evening and on weekends with Nick. Walking is simple and most everyone can do it and it doesn’t cost you anything and it saves you money on gas. It may take you a bit longer to get where you are going, but it is worth it in the long run. You just have to plan your day around it.

Sandy is the one who really inspired me to walk. She got to her goal weight before I did. And that is not only because I had to lose more weight than her — Sandy starting walking regularly long before I did. I watched the weight start to fall off of her, so I started walking, too, and I started losing weight, too.

Some of you may say, I’m too busy to walk, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I don’t have time, I’m too tired…these are all excuses. I work two jobs…I’m on the job every day from 8:00 to 6:30 and I work some evenings too but I manage to walk 20-25 miles a week. Kelley works two jobs, too, but she manages to walk a lot, too. We walk together on our lunch hour. We’ve walked in the snow, in the rain, in the hot and in the cold. We’ve come back to work sweaty and even covered in snow. Before I started working two jobs, Sandy and I would walk to our TOPS meetings together…Sandy still walks to the meetings – sometimes with Kelley.

So, I don’t think I need to tell anyone what my secret is, as I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. I WALK! My challenge to you, is to get off your duffs and WALK! Walk to the store, walk your dog, walk to work, walk on your lunch hour, walk to your doctor appointments, walk to your friend’s house. Walk, walk, walk.


…And 4 1/2 years later, I’m still walking or riding my bike (saving tons on gas money!). And I married my fiancé, Nick, too! We celebrated our 4 year anniversary yesterday!


The Payoff for Parenthood

Today is my first born’s 26th birthday. (Happy birthday, Joe!) Looking back on some of the things Joe and his sister did and said when they were little, I realize now how precious they were (and how quickly that time zooms by).

I am really blessed as I get a second chance at this parenting stuff with my grandchildren. As hard and as tiring as being a parent was, it’s all worth it when you get to walk down a hospital hallway crying (yes, I cried) knowing you are going to see and hold your new grandchild for the very first time.

And now as a grandma…or Mimi…as Jaxon calls me (and no doubt Journee Skye will when she starts talking) I don’t really have the responsibility of ‘parenting’ again. I get to play. I get to listen to my grandson’s sweet voice say, “Love you, Mimi”, and I say “I love you more” and he repeats it back to me. And having his little arms wrapped around me as he plants a sweet kiss on my mouth is pure heaven on earth.

I’m learning to hold Journee longer when she wakes up from her nap because that’s the best (and only time) that she’ll cuddle with me. And I have all the time in the world if it takes her FOREVER to eat her veggies and chicken baby mush. (I wouldn’t be too excited to eat that stuff either, Journ!)

Thank you, Joe (and Jess) for making me a grandma!

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Honesty. Is it always the best policy?

Had a surprise going away to Africa party for my daughter a week ago Saturday. I was very surprised at the fact that she was surprised and not being a natural liar, I was surprised at how much fun it was lying to her all week about what we were going to do on Saturday. I actually enjoyed embellishing things that I knew were not going to happen. It got me thinking about how honest we are with our loved ones.

Jessica wasn’t out of the country much more than 24 hours when we lost her cat, Fluffy. This news I definitely didn’t want to share with her…and the other Jess in my life (my daughter-in-law) showed me how to post a picture of Fluffy on facebook in a way that Jessica wouldn’t see. I thought it was worth posting on facebook in case someone in our neighborhood would happen to see her — but I didn’t want Jessica to find out about her cat via facebook. She happened to Skype with me while I was out looking for Fluffy (and no, I didn’t tell her what I was doing) but I eventually told her that Fluff was missing when she came out and asked me about her. This is something I wished that I could have kept from her, but I couldn’t do it. (Thankfully, Fluffy came home later that night.)

I know that while growing up my parents kept some things from me – and I’m sure they thought it was in my best interest. And there are things that happened during my wild youth that I still haven’t told my parents or my kids. But for the most part I’m pretty honest with my loved ones. Some times this is harder than others. I tend to hold back especially if I feel that the truth will hurt them. And now that my kids have reached the age of adult hood I tend to keep my opinions to myself for the most part unless they specifically ask for my advice. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t walk around with my teeth clenched, doing everything I can to hold back all sorts of unwanted advice…my kids are doing quite well, thank you very much. (Even though I sometimes act/think/know that I am the queen of the world, I know that I’m not an expert on everything and I actually value and seek their advice on many things.)

I like Mark Twain’s take on honesty: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

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She’s moving on.

Feeling sad. My daughter, Jessica, is moving out. Not sure why I’m feeling blue. It’s not like it’s the first time she’s moved out. Can’t remember the exact date of the first time she did this. Jessica and her friend, Becky, decided that they wanted to move into a house together — I think it was the same year she graduated from high school. Nick and I helped them clean it up and it seemed like she lived there for about a week before she came home again. (I’m sure it was longer, but I know it wasn’t very long. And Becky never did move in. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lease involved.)

Jessica moved to Detroit in the fall of 2008. This is when she became an Americorp member with City Year. Was thankful that I had Nick then (we got married in May of 2008) as it would have been really hard to say goodbye to her as it had been just her and I since late 2001. Jessica’s new roommates at that time were a bit skeptical of her as she had never really lived away from home (the aforementioned move out didn’t really count) and they both had a few years of campus living under their belts. As it was, she turned out to be the most responsible of the three. They lived in a one bedroom apartment in a 22 story apartment building almost within spitting distance of Ford Field and Comerica Park.

Jessica came home for about a minute (or maybe a couple of months) in the late summer of 2009, only to move back in the fall to the same apartment building in a studio apartment all by herself. She again served a year with Americorp, this time with Read Detroit. She attempted to take her cat Tiger Lily with her, but this somewhat psychotic cat had trouble adjusting to the change and soon returned home to Nick and I and Baily (our other cat).  She then came home for good (or at least until next week) in October of 2010.

Jessica and her friend, Sarah, signed a lease on an apartment yesterday. This morning I told her that I was feeling sad about her moving out. She told me that she won’t move out until she gets back from South Africa. Maybe because she’s going to South Africa for 6 weeks is the reason I’m feeling blue. Either way I’m going to miss her…her messy room – not so much.

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This one’s for you, Jessica!

Do you have any sayings that you’ve said to your kids as they were growing up that you can honestly claim as your own? The other night Nick and I were talking to Jessica about her upcoming plans, and Nick brought up this one:  “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” (For the record, he is her step-dad, so technically he didn’t have anything to do with bringing her into this world.) I think perhaps he was referring to Jessica’s messy room (which we’ve threatened to post pictures of on facebook) anyway I can’t really remember in what context it was said. But Nick gave full credit to Bill Cosby for saying it and my response was “now she’s going to know it’s not one of my original sayings!” And it got me to thinking about some that are.

“Mothers with teenagers know why animals eat their young.” “When I was your age, I walked twelve miles to school.” “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”* We’ve all heard them.

Well, I do have a couple that I can honestly claim as my own. One I used repeatedly when I was still carting my kids around everywhere (before they got their driver’s licenses):

“I’m just going to slow down and you can jump out.”

This was usually said on mornings that I was taking them to school, we were running late, and I still had my jammies on. I remember doing an awful lot of kid hauling during that time of my life and I honestly felt like a taxi service at times!!!

The one that I’m quite famous for (in my own little twisted reality) is:

“If you don’t wake up in the morning, it’s because I held a pillow over your head while you were sleeping.”

This was said REPEATEDLY throughout their childhood (I’m thinking Jessica mostly) and yes, perhaps I did cause some minor anxiety in my children because of it but it was usually said when they were misbehaving, and well…it was deserving in my book.

Before you call Child Protective Services on me…I never actually followed through on either of these suggestions/threats with my kids, besides I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out.

* Some thoughts on “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” As I was writing this entry, this saying popped into my head. Barbie, my dear-departed sister-in-law, who I wrote about in my last entry, used to say this to me when she would hear me use a swear word. Her way of gently correcting me. Miss her.