Thursday, August 28, 2008

Off to Lifelight tomorrow and other things

I can not believe that it's Labor Day weekend already! It seems summer was just beginning, we were anticipating court, planning our vacation, even dreading what might happen with Cassie for three long months of me working and her being on her own. Well, we've made it to the other side with nothing horrible happening. I've heard that 90% of what we worry about never comes to pass. It's the other 10% that worry me! (pun intended lol). But really, it never ceases to amaze me how fast summer flies by.

So while we say goodbye to summer, vacation, carefree, sometimes-schedule free days, sleeping in on occasion, summer sunshine and all of the other summer stuff, we here in the Mohlenbrock household send summer out with a bang! We head to Lifelight Festival in Sioux Falls tomorrow. Most of you have heard me go on endlessly about Lifelight and how much fun we have at it, how awesome it is, but in case you haven't heard, let me tell you. :-) Lifelight is the largest FREE Christian music festival in the nation. A couple of hundred THOUSAND people attend and listen to band after band after band on four different stages. Our favorite is the Souled Out stage which features more "edgy" bands like Family Force 5, Skillet, Grits, etc...rock, rap, krunk, any genre that's not "mainstream". More "normal" artists like Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns and Natalie Grant will be on the mainstage. There's also a kids' stage and a gospel stage, but I can honestly say I've never personally heard anyone playing on those stages...just not what we go for.

After the mud-nightmare of two years ago, we're ready to try camping again. Not in the South Dakota field this time though, we're staying at a KOA in Sioux Falls and driving in to the festival every day. I just wasn't willing to risk getting stuck in 6 inches of mud in the middle of the night again. That and they were full up at the festival camping itself. That's ok...there's 7 of us going this year and we'll have fun with our open fire pit (not allowed on the festival grounds), 24-hour/day showers (limited hours and not enough showers on the festival grounds) and quiet hours for those of us who are old enough to want to sleep at all. I personally am hoping to stay up late both nights at the late-night praise and worship sessions they're hosting this year. There's nothing like worshiping the King of Kings with hundreds of Christian brothers and sisters late into the night. In case you can't tell...I LOVE LIFELIGHT!!!!!! I believe this is our 5th or 6th year attending as a family. Next year they are starting a second festival in Colorado and maybe we'll try out the new location for something new. We'll see. That costs a lot more money to travel that far...

Speaking of money, I hate the government! OK, hate might be a little strong, but they sure frustrate me! We are on MinnesotaCare (which I am grateful for, otherwise we wouldn't have any medical insurance at all), but were up for renewal this last month. I sent in our income information, they sent a letter asking for more info (paystubs I'd already submitted!), I faxed that to them with my cell number in case they had more questions, they sent me another letter for more information, I faxed that to them. Finally today, August 28th, I get the information on our new premium. I opened the letter and couldn't believe my eyes...they TRIPLED our premium! We were paying $116 and now, with 24 hours left in the fiscal month to pay it, we have to come up with another $225 and pay $341! Like we have an extra $225 laying around. If we did, we probably wouldn't need to be on MinnesotaCare at all! Not to mention the fact that we don't have an extra $225 ANY month of the year! I panicked, started crying, called and questioned them on it, only to be treated like I was stupid for not understanding how it could TRIPLE when our income certainly didn't triple! We have hit the income bracket where we make too much to qualify for any assistance, but don't make enough to actually survive and pay all our bills. I love how they "reward" hard work. We'd be better off if I quit my job! As is stands, we no longer qualify for reduced-lunches either.

Anyway, I still don't know what we're going to do. With Cassie's issues, I certainly can't NOT pay it and not have insurance at all. We see a psychologist weekly, a psychiatrist monthly and have daily anti-depressents to buy now, plus the meds that Dar is on daily. I'm trying very hard to not worry, but it's hard to stop my brain from working overtime. I came home from work and after the millionth time of realizing I was still worrying the problem over in my head, put on praise music. It's hard to worry when you're praising Jesus! I've asked my Daddy (Pappa...God) for some help, and now I have to wait and see what He says. I'm hoping He'll take pity on us, open up the storehouses of heaven and give us a little extra every month so we can pay our bills. After all, He does own the cattle on a thousand hills and is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, so He's definitely ABLE to help. Now we just have to find out if it's His will, or if there is major lesson that we have to learn through all this first.

Speaking of lessons learned...Cassie finished her 5th and last day of Community Service this week. She's still got a few months of probation as well as another court date coming up for getting busted at Treemendous Park last month. She's also still got to take the tobacco class and the cognitive skills class. She's only earned $20 toward her $120 in court fees/fines, but she's looking for another job. I'm praying she finds one soon.

Anyway...I've spent way too long on this update. I've got packing to do! What am I thinking?!? LOL

Love you all...see you after Lifelight!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sleep, sweet, deep, sleep

Quit night last night. I let the kids go spend the night at a friend's house. Dar worked, then we watched a movie. I went for a walk, made some brownies, and played the keyboard while he was at was nice to have some alone time. Went to bed at 11:30 and didn't wake up until 9:40 this morning! Wow! I can't remember the last time I slept that long. I must've really needed the sleep. In fact, I know I did cuz I've been exhausted no matter what I do to get energy.
Thank you Lord for a good night's sleep!

Sleep kind of seems to be another "theme" that's going on. I've needed it. I mentioned a couple of posts ago about Cassie being blessed with deep, restful sleep. I read Tina Wagner's Caring Bridge entry ( and she's having trouble sleeping well, and could use a blessing of many nights of deep, restful sleep. Perhaps God is saying to His, rest in ME, let Me restore your energy, your life, your health, through MY deep, restful sleep. Let Him lay you down beside the still waters and restore your soul...we all need it and in this crazy culture of ours, we don't get it very often.

Rest well my friends...until next time.
So here's something interesting. I have KLOVE's encouraging Word of the day emailed to my every day. I just opened up today's Word and it's this:
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. ~ Psalm 4:8 NLT
Hmmm....more to this theme of sleep, eh?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Giving credit where credit is due

Can I just say how amazing God is?

You all know Cassie doesn't sleep well at night. Well, the night of the earache incident, she was very upset and restless, so I went in to her and rubbed her back to try and relax her. I prayed that God would wrap her in His mighty arms and hold her close, ease her pain, and allow her to fall into a deep, restful sleep the entire night through. I went out, shut her door, and set her door alarm so that if she did get up we'd know it. Guess what? She didn't wake up all night long! Not even to go to the bathroom! I woke up the next day, got ready for work, shut off her alarm, and went to work. Last night she texted me after she went to bed and asked if I'd come rub her back again for a few minutes to help relax her, so I did. And again, I prayed and asked God to allow her to sleep deeply and restfully. Again, I set the door alarm, just in case, and again, she slept the entire night through! 

Normally, with Cassie, it's kind of like having a newborn in the house, where you get up every few hours with them because they simply have needs. And the relief when the baby starts to sleep through the night is so immense that it is very noticeable. That's how it is with us. It's such a blessing for us as well as for her, to sleep the whole night through. 

So I had to come on and give credit where credit is due. GOD allowed us these two nights of rest, GOD held our daughter so she could sleep deeply instead of being up all night. And GOD is the One I thank for this blessing. Thank You Father...we love You and appreciate You. You are amazing and we are so thankful to be Your children!

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm pondering contentment this afternoon. Why, you might ask? Because I'm feeling DIScontent, and I'm not sure why. I'm not even sure what I am discontent about. So I'll explore my're welcome to come along if you like.

I'll admit I'm discontent with my relationship with Jesus. I want to be closer to Him. I want to spend more time with Him. I have not read my Bible today, and have only had on-the-fly conversation with Him. I try to wake up early and talk to Him, read my Bible, etc. but after Motorcycle Sunday yesterday, I was too exhausted! Yesterday we were up at 6:30, at the church by 7:30 for worship team practice, sang for first service, second service, the the RFKC fundraiser hog roast, then singing again in the hot sun for an hour, then tearing down the stage, the chairs, etc and finally home at 5 where Dar and I promptly fell asleep on the couch for an hour. Then we woke up, ran to the store to get something to make for supper and picked up a movie, came home, cooked, started the movie, then I took Cassie to the ER for her ear infection (re: last post if you missed it) Whew! I wonder why I was exhausted, eh?

I usually go for a walk with Him down by Mill Pond on my break, but today I had to run Cassie's prescription for her antibiotic to the pharmacy, go home and give her the numbing ear drops and the antibiotic drops, grab something to eat and get back to work...all on my fifteen minute break. So much for my time with Jesus this morning.

So I'm sure missing spending time with Him is part of my discontent.

What else...

Family. Relationships. They are always hard. I'm very people-oriented. I need time with people (and I need the balancing time alone) and I crave relationships. The kids stressed me out today by going swimming and being gone for 5 hours. Cass went under the water with her infected ear and then gave me the blank look and the "what did I do wrong" spiel. Ugh! They are eating and drinking us out of house and home! And of course, the house is a mess because of them and their friends being here all day while we're at work. So we had a family meeting tonight when Dar got home, which went fine until Dar laid down the law that there would be "NO MORE FRIENDS IN THE HOUSE WHILE WE'RE AT WORK FROM NOW UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS". No discussing it with me first, not even a mention to me first, no questions like "Hey, honey, how would that affect YOUR life if I make this rule since you're the one who works in town and handles all the kid-issues during the day?" (And yes, it does greatly affect me cuz at least when they're occupied with friends they're not calling me at work or coming by my job cuz they're fighting or bored or just have a question...I'm sure my boss LOVES all those interruptions to my work!) Nope, just here's my edict cuz I'm the MAN of the house and this is the way it's going to be. And then when I protested (which of course I know I shouldn't have because it was disrespectful to question him like that in front of the kids), it blew up into a terrific in-front-of-the-kids argument resulting in him storming out of the house to go to his second job and me storming up to my room to sulk. Great....just great. Then Cass asked to go somewhere with a friend and I told her no cuz she disobeyed me today by getting her head wet when she's got an ear infection, so she got mad and stormed away, refusing to answer me when I talked to her.

Other relational issues: I REALLY miss my sister, mom, baby Nicky and yeah, even Tony. I hate them being 1300 miles away and having no idea when I'll get to see them again. Kate's my best friend and it's awfully hard to have her so distant. And when she's in North Carolina we don't talk much cuz we both hate being on the phone. I miss holding my sweet nephew and playing with him and snuggling with him and smelling him and kissing his soft little head. And I miss my mommy. I miss the friendship we used to have. I miss being able to see her and talk to her one-on-one, or have her over for supper like we used to do all the time. She was such good company when Dar was off working and the kids were off doing their thing. Evenings get pretty lonely around this house.

And Joe and Nicole are scheduled to get home from their honeymoon tomorrow. And we didn't exactly part on great terms, which I regret. I regret missing out on the celebration of their wedding because I felt I needed to protect my daughter. I regret the drama and conflict that marked their wedding day for me, instead of the joy and family celebration I would have liked it to be. I wish such a huge deal had not been made about the tiaras that Kate and I wore as a joke to the rehearsal, and then Cassie put mine on for the wedding and got yelled at and bullied into removing. I wish they had not excluded her from any part of the wedding and made her feel so singled out. I wish they had included her enough to at least give her a name-card at the dinner so she at least felt like she belonged in the family. I wish they would just accept her the way she is and love her anyway and encourage her to walk a straighter path because bullying and yelling and excluding her won't draw her toward family and God, rather push her away. So, yes, I am discontent because there is a huge gaping canyon between my brother and me and that hurts because I love all my family SO MUCH!

I'm discontent in my home. Not my house itself, I LOVE my house, but I hate how messy and cluttered it is. And the harder I try to clean it, organize it, declutter it, the worse it seems to get. I so want my home to be a place of peace, a refuge, a place where God is honored and Jesus' name is central to all we say and do, and my home is not that right now. My home is messy, and cluttered, and full of chaos and arguing and disrespect and strife and I don't know how to fix it.

I'm discontent in my finances. Again, it's full of chaos and stress and it's out of control. No matter how we try and spend less, reduce expenses, increase income, etc, it seems we get further and further in the hole. I don't know how to fix it.

So, I'm not content. Where does contentment come from? Does it really come from good relationships and a clean home and money in the checkbook? Hmmm...I don't think so. I think contentment comes from how one looks at relationships and home and money. I think contentment isn't so much the circumstances as it is the attitude about the circumstances. So while I really, really, really want those circumstances to change, I think I first need to change my attitude about them. And since I want to have the attitude of Christ, I need to see what God has to say about contentment.

I Timothy 6:6-8 ~ But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.

Matthew 6:33 ~ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 ~ So I commend the enjoyment of life because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

and 9:7-10 ~ Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do...enjoy life with your [husband] whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun - all your meaningless days, for this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

and of course, Philippians 4:11-13 ~ ...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength.

Psalm 13:5-6 ~ I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.

Psalm 16:11 ~ You have made known to me the path of life, You will fillme with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand

Psalm 33:20-22 ~ We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.

You know what? I just need time wiht HIM! HE is the source of my contentment. HE is the answer to all my relational issues, my financial challenges, my home being a place of peace and refuge. I think I'll go for a walk and have that chat with Him now. It's cooler now than when I got home from work, so even though I missed my morning "date" with Jesus, I can do it now. He's so amazing that way...He loves us so much that He's always there, waiting, wanting relationship with us and wanting us to want relationship with Him.

So really, missing spending time with Him isn't just part of my discontent, it is the main reason for my discontent. Time to go fix that!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cassie update

I have been trying to write this update for a week. It's been an emotional week, so I start writing, and discard what I've written, then start again, and delete that too. I'm determined this time to get it written.

Cassie started seeing her psychologist. She has seen her four times now. The first time was a get-to-know-each-other kind of meeting. She's gone in for two sessions of testing, and she's had one actual "session" which stirred up a lot of emotions in my daughter. She came out of the appointment with tears in her eyes. They brought up painful experiences and memories, things that Cassie would rather bury and cover up. All she has told me is that they talked about April 19/20 when she was with John overnight and was most likely sexually assaulted. Her psychologist wants her to write a letter to John, I'm assuming not to be mailed, but to help Cassie deal with her emotions concerning that event. I'm glad they are talking about this. I told Cassie it's like having a rotten piece of fruit in the drawer of your fridge. The only thing that will happen by leaving it there is that it will get more rotten, more nasty, and more smelly. It's a dirty, yucky, smelly job cleaning it up, but once its done, it'll be so much better.

She has served three of her five community service days. She says they're not so bad. They do a lot of mowing, shoveling rocks, moving trees...sounds like they work them hard! But she seems to not mind too much. She serves another this Thursday and then it's only one to go.

Yesterday she went swimming at a local "pond" where they were swinging from a rope into the water. At one point she fell onto her side and sounds like she hit the side of her head pretty good on the surface of the water. She came home complaining of water in her ear and that it hurt pretty bad. Within two hours she was throwing herself around and screaming because it hurt so bad. She was up in her room jumping up and down so hard I seriously thought she would either at best knock stuff off my shelves in the living room or at worst fall through the floor into our laps. We had already tried Tylenol and a heating pad, so I said enough was enough and I took her into the ER (this was 10pm). Turns out she's got a pretty bad ear infection. The doc said her ear is swollen so much he can't tell if it's an inner ear or outer ear infection, so to be safe he's treating it topically (drops) and orally (pills). She's probably had it for a while, and we didn't know it, so it's a good thing she went swimming. Getting water in the ear probably aggravated it enough to make it noticeable (and boy did she notice it!!!). It seems it's the time for hidden things in her life to be brought up to the surface and get dealt with, doesn't it? 

That's all for now folks. Lots more happening in our lives, of course, but if I don't hit "publish post" now, it may be another week before it gets posted. LOL.
Love you all...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Vacation and other stuff

Wow...July 8th?!? That's seriously that last time I let anyone know what's going on in our lives? Hmmm...I better get on the ball. In my defense, I did leave on July 10th for vacation and didn't get back until the 21st. So really, it's only been a week and a half since I could have updated. :-)

Ahhh...vacation. Just thinking about it makes me sigh and get that dreamy look in my eyes. It was a blast. The ocean was the most beautiful, most amazing, awe-inspiring part. I love the ocean. The power behind the waves as they crash onto the shore, bringing shells and rocks and sand up, leaving some behind, dragging the rest back into the mass of water as the wave rejoins the ocean. There were yellow caution flags on the beaches when we were there. Thanks to the tropical storms and hurricanes in the near vicinity, the riptides and waves were definitely something to contend with! But they are also what makes the ocean so beautiful. The sound still echoes in my ears, the pull of the waves on my feet, the pounding as the waves crash into and over me, the sight of the white wave tops as they lift out of the water. Oh, if I could I'd be back there in a second! I told Dar he needs to stop bringing me to the of these times I'm just not going to leave. This is my fourth visit. The first was when I was 16, the second on my honeymoon, the third on my tenth anniversary/1st ever family vacation, and then this time. Each time I get a little closer to planting my roots at the oceanside instead of returning to my beloved Minnesota. So if you ever can't find me? Check the beach! :-)

My second favorite part of vacation was getting to meet Baby Gracie Jean Lockyer and her mom and dad, Amanda and Todd, in Durham, North Carolina. God has laid this baby girl on my heart and I'm completely captivated by her! For those of you who don't know, I dreamed about her, oh, several months ago. Almost five now? I dreamed of a little girl named Gracie, who was in a group of children, but stood out, did things very differently. I asked why she was different and the answer I got was "What Gracie wants, Gracie gets". Now, at the time, I did not know a Gracie. I had never met anyone with that name. About a month later, I "found" a website, a CaringBridge website, about a little girl named Gracie Jean Lockyer, who was three weeks old and was in the hospital since she was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart condition...basically the left side of heart did not develop in the womb and she was in NICU getting treated. Now at almost five months old, she is still in the hospital. She's battled for her life non-stop and is still fighting for life. God has done many miracles in her life already and I look forward to seeing what else He has in store for her! Like I said, she has captivated my heart and I've been praying for her since she was three weeks old. So when I found out that the hospital she is in is only an hour and a half north of Fayetteville, where Katie lives and where we were going on vacation, I knew that I had to go and meet her. So I did. I'll post THAT story on another's a long one.

Back to vacation. We drove through the mountains on our way to North Carolina. The kids had never seen those before, so they were amazed, and I was too, as I always am by such majestic creations from our magnificent God. They are so beautiful! We stopped in Charlotte that Friday night and attended a Holy Spirit Breakout at Morningstar Church there. It was quite an experience and it was great to see so many people worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. :-) We spent most of our time with Katie and Tony, Mom and Dominic. We got to see the Motor Pool on Fort Bragg, where Tony is stationed in the military. Christopher LOVED that day and claims it as his favorite. We saw tanks and humvees and missile launchers and every other kind of military truck you can imagine. We went to a waterpark one day. Stopped at several museums. One of my favorite parts from the museums was the one on post. They had a beam from the world trade center on display and I got to touch it and get my picture taken by it. I thought that was very awesome to get to see something like that.

We took the car and the kids on a ferry and rode from Southport to Fort Fischer where we swam in the Atlantic Ocean for a couple of hours. Then we rode the ferry back to the mainland. We drove down to Myrtle Beach and spent a day there, swimming, shopping the tourist-shops, and exploring.

Overall, it was quite the awesome vacation. We crammed a LOT of activities in and had a LOT of fun. For the most part we all got along quite well and it was a very refreshing time for our family. I think it's good for the kids to see that not everyone lives like us, that not all areas of this beautiful country look like our river valley, and that it's good and fun to explore the world our God created. In fact, it's a good reminder for us "seasoned" adults as well. Kind of puts life in perspective, you know?

As far as Cassie goes, things are mostly going well. She's taking her medication every day and I believe it is helping. She has not "snuck out" that we know of since before her court hearing. She did have one episode just the other night. She stayed at a friend's house for the first time since returning from vacation. At 2:30am I got a call from the St. Peter police letting us know that she and five other kids had been found "hanging out" at Treemendous Playground and were cited for breaking curfew. One of Cassie's friends passed out and hit her head after the police showed up and had to be taken in to the hospital via ambulance. She's a tiny thing and hadn't eaten all day and with the adrenaline rush of getting busted, she fainted. She's alright now, thank God. I don't understand the attraction of hanging out at a park in the middle of the night, but hopefully all the kids learned that it's not LEGAL and they can get into trouble for it. Cassie a little more than the others due to her probation. She had to call her PO right away the next morning and let her know what had happened. I don't think she'll get anything other than a good solid lecture, but she better watch it or she'll end up back in court.

She started a job now that she's 15. She's washing dishes for "The Queen" at Patrick's Bar & Grill. It's not many hours, and it doesn't pay a lot, but it's a job and she's on her way to paying her debt to the courts. Then she'll have to start paying us back for the cell phone bills and other items she owes us money for.

She also served her first day of Community Service. She and three other "kids" mowed all of 7-Mile Creek park...with push mowers! I laughed so hard when she told me that. I think it's great that they make them actually work. They also had to weedwack after they were done mowing. They let them out at 2:30 instead of 4, but she still gets credit for the full 8 hours. One down, four to go, unless she gets one knocked off for good behavior.

Other than that, we're all looking forward to my little brother's wedding next weekend. The last of the five Bidwell children to get married. :-) I'm a bridesmaid, Dar's a groomsman and Chris is an usher. Cassie is the only one without a role in the wedding, which has kind of hurt her feelings. I don't know if she totally understands that it's because of her choices over the last 10 months but regardless, it's still hard on a kid to be left out like that. We just help her to deal with it the best we can, and try to use it as another example of consequences to our choices.

That's about it for now. I best get moving on to other duties for the day. Hope ya'll are enjoying your summer. I know we are! Love ya! :-)