Friday, February 15, 2013

These 40 days...

Ash Wednesday sneaked up on me.  I'm not a practicing Catholic, yet there are so many things about the ways my Catholic family celebrates their faith that I am drawn to.  There is much meaning in the walking out of the Catholic faith...The season of Lent is one of those.

I remember the first time I forgot what day it was and mentioned to that person "hey, you've got something on your forehead!"  Only to be completely embarrassed once I realized it was Wednesday, that special Wednesday.  The day to remember that I am mortal, and a time to repent and consider from whence I came.

While I was not able to visit any churches on Wednesday due to work (except my own in the evening), I saw a few people at work with that gray cross on their forehead...that gentle reminder that He is everything and I am nothing.  I realized that the day had sneaked up on me again and suddenly realized I hadn't prepared.  Will I give anything up for Lent this year?  Should I begin something meaningful instead of giving something up?  What would it be, and would it be something truly worth something in my heart, so as to honor Christ's sacrifice, and at the same time keep always at the forefront of my thoughts how much I depend on Him?

A few options ran through my mind, the first one immediately cast down.  To be honest, I knew that one was "the one," but I just didn't want to give that up.  I continued to think about what I could sacrifice that would be meaningful, and while the choices were good, they were not best.  By evening's end, I had decided.  I have given this particular thing up before, with the Lord's help, and my life has never been the same.  I pray that He do an even greater work in me this year.

I read this week online that Biblically, 40 is the number of preparation.  Reference:  Jesus' fast/time of testing,    the number of days that rain poured upon the earth during the great flood, the years spent wandering in the wilderness before arriving at the Promised Land.  I wonder, what will these 40 days prepare me for?  Prepare me to be?  Who will this time prepare me to love, and will I really love them?  I wonder.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Red beans and rice

...what I'm eating for supper.

A warm, furry, didn't-realize-it-was-dirty-been-in-the-closet-since-last-winter hoodie...

...what I'm wearing right now.

Frustrated at the world for no reason...

...what I'm feeling right now.

The sounds of The Goodnight Show and children laughing...

...what I'm hearing right now.


...days of the month I struggle with working full-time.


...days of the month I am grateful to have an outlet at work and feel successful.

Fruity candle from Ikea...

...what I'm smelling right now.

In my pajamas, in my bed, watching mindless television...

...what I wish I was doing right now.

Reading my Bible or praying...

...what I should be doing right now (see "frustrated at the world for no reason" for further clarification).

When the microwave still flashes "End" and no one has hit "clear..." pet peeve today.  Even worse when I was the one who forgot to hit clear!

Brach's Red Hot Cinnamon Lips...

...what I wish I were eating right now.

God's grace, my children's grace, my husband's grace...

...what I'm thankful for right now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Loss and gain

I feel a loss lately.  My longtime readers might remember when I rediscovered what life as a working mom was like....or when I challenged you to be a fitted sheet.  I'm back at that place in my life.  Of course, in a slightly different capacity, but there all the same.  My biggest loss has been that of having real relationships, and the limitation of friendships that might have been but are not because of the lifestyle we have chosen.  It's hard to get up at 4:45, work til 2:45, grab the kids, give my hubby a quick kiss, and then be "mommy" until they get to bed and I get myself to bed around 8:30.  Only to start it all over again the next day.  My days are full and blessed, but at the same time so so lonely.  Being stuck at home each night means I can't just run to Starbucks with a friend, or meet anyone for dinner, or go grocery shopping together (am I the only woman who has grocery shopped with a friend?  makes a boring chore SO much more enjoyable!)

When I'm at work, my time belongs to work (after all they are paying me for my time!)...when I'm at home, my time belongs to my beloved children.  I get to see my best friend once a day, at kid-swap time...and then if we are lucky, we have Saturdays and Sundays to spend together.  Some days it just feels like too much to handle.  I have to quiet my soul, remember who I am and Whose I am, and that at one time I really did have it all.  That, even if only for those blessed two years, I did get to stay at home with my children and really give my life to making a home.  I spent my free time reading or preparing for my mom's group/helping with the Bible study or making a meal for a friend who'd just had a baby.  Even though I was folding laundry or preparing a meal, my mind was free to think about how I wanted to raise my children, or to pray for a friend in need.  I just don't have that any more.  My mind and my brain belongs to my work when I am there and rightly so.  My brain feels tapped out!!  This, I am sure, contributes to my lack of lasting friendships.  After all, we are all dealing with stress and balancing our own lives; it stands to reason that my friends are going through similar situations and then just don't have the time or energy to wait out my tiny free moment when I can call them.

I type all this out to say...I in no way, shape, or form wish to make any of my friends feel bad or guilty or anything like that.  I just know from experience that when I feel a certain way, it is my enemy's goal to make me feel as if I am in a situation all alone.  That no one else can "truly" understand exactly what I am going through, and thus no friendship will ever be perfect, so I should never seek any friendships out or continue to try to reach out to those who may get frustrated with my ever-shrinking free time.  Absolutely not!!  That is what he wants me to think, to isolate me, and cause me to stop practicing giving thanks.  I will not!  Some things I say to myself on a regular basis (after all, I'm alone a lot at night so I can talk to myself and no one will know!):  "Grow up!  You're a grown up, not a child!!!"  "doing the dishes before bed is really not a big deal."  "So what if he/she hasn't called in two weeks?  Call anyway, you have to be a friend to make a friend."  "Who cares if the house is not perfect?  Invite them over anyway."  "Go to bed, it's already 8:30!"  (that one gets on my nerves but I do have to yell at myself sometimes.  When you actually do the math between 4:45 am and any time at night, it's shocking to realize I may really only get 6 hours of sleep!)

Oh, but I have GAINED so much these last few years.  I have gained a knowledge that I am in love with the best Gift Giver in the world.  He created me for such a time as this, and ordained my days before I was even born.  He gave me the perfect gifts and talents to be the best at what I do at work, and to serve the people who work for me.  He reminds me that even 5 minutes spent in prayer to Him while I brush my teeth is still fellowship, and oh, how much joy I get from realizing He wants all those small moments.  They add up into the greatest love story ever told.

This has been a rambling post, but sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable.  When I expose who I am and what little I have to offer, all that remains is His light, and that, ultimately, is what changes hearts and people for God's glory.

"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies...All of this is for your benefit.  And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory."

If you feel any of what I described above, DON'T give in to the temptation of thinking that no one else is going through what you are going through!!!!  None of our lives are exactly the same, but we have all struggled, and God has been gracious to see us through.  Sometimes we have to remind each other of where He has brought us from, in order to encourage and uplift.  Think about who you can reach out to today to encourage?

Friday, January 4, 2013

One Word for 2013...well, maybe Two!

This year, I am seeing all kinds of blog posts about "what is your 'one word' for the year?"  That word that will supposedly describe your year and what you hope it will be.

My word would be "Margin."  I want to develop Margin in several areas of my life.  Hoping for margin financially, of course...this could be the year that we are completely out of debt, if we do things right and really work hard.  And what an awesome Christmas present that would be!!   Also, margin with my time and making sure I have some space for quiet in my life.  With a demanding job, me/Marc swapping off kids all the time, and actually caring for the kids/house, free time is rare.  I'm hoping that the quality of my free time will improve (such as actually practice my piano instead of mindlessly watching HGTV!), and maybe, just maybe, the quantity of free time and "space" in my brain to process and think will also grow.

If I had to choose another word, it would be "Disciple."  I want to learn this year, really learn, what being a disciple of Christ really means--this also means that I would be bringing other disciples along with me on the path.  The last 7 years or so have been lax in this area of my life; when you are caring for newborns and young children, much of your energy is spilled out on them.  I'm hoping to focus more this year on others, and getting outside my front door to help those who are not as fortunate as I am.

I only have one Resolution for 2013.  I have a lot of things I would like to do and accomplish...usual things like eating better, getting into shape, etc.  But my life has not lended to multiple accomplishments with this full time job, so I decided to pick one resolution and work very hard to make sure it gets done.  I will read through the entire Bible in 2013, a little at a time.  I'm using a reading plan on YouVersion called "Eat this Book" which I find really funny.  I love the symbolism in the title based on "your Word is sweeter than honey...", plus it just makes me think of that phrase "how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!"  ha ha
Anyway, I figure that if I can read through the whole Bible and place my focus on God's Word, then the rest of it will all fall into place.  If I am making His Word a priority, then I will choose differently.  I will act differently, I will spend my money differently.

Here are some of the goals I jotted down last year about this time.  Funny!

  • I want to memorize the book of Ephesians. It might not all get memorized in 2012, but I'm going to try. I miss memorizing Scripture and I'm hoping that this will help keep my brain cells growing instead of dying the way these children seem to want them to.  I hardly even got started on this one, thanks to me beginning to write out Ephesians in my little booklet I kept with me in my purse...during which I was so focused on the words of the passages, which ultimately caused me to miss two notifications of gate changes at the airport and thereby miss my flight.  Not cool.  Not exactly the reason I did not memorize Ephesians, but something in my subconscious tells me this is why I did not revisit this one later in the year.  ha!

  • I want to blog at least twice a month. My sis-in-law just got me re-motivated. (Thanks Shu!) Yes, Facebook is good for sharing/pictures/etc but since moving to AL I have hardly taken any pictures and I'm pretty sure I've never even hooked up my external hard drive with all the pics on it. Which leads me to the next one...  Fail...but at least I tried.  I probably got about 10 posts in this past year, which considering all the working I was doing, was not too bad. 

  • I HAVE to get more organized at home. Bills are getting paid on time but not filed, pictures taken but not sorted through, etc. Baby steps, I know.  This is just pure laziness...I have done a little but usually when my free time happens, the last thing I want to do is file paid bills.  Any of my very organized friends want to come and make this happen for me?  Anyone?????

  • Watch less TV. As my job slows down I find myself still coming home and plopping in front of the tv because I'm tired. My goal this year is to not have that be my default setting after the kids go to bed.    I've been better at this...not perfect, but better.  I'll take any improvements!  Usually a key for me is when I have no clue what people are talking about at work. :)

  • Spend more quality time with my love. Have a date night at least every 2 months...and maybe twice this year, spend a weekend with no kids. Have I mentioned how much we love being close to our families?  Almost made this one!  I think we had about 5 date nights plus 2 almost complete weekends with no kids (Thanks to Marc's mom who is a saint!)  This is KEY to building a marriage and keeping the love alive when you hardly see each other.  Can't wait for the next one!

  • Grow out my hair. Doesn't seem like much of a goal, but this is an easy one to cross off my list.  Finally!!!!  Something I can check off.  Even after regular 8 week haircuts, my hair is about 6 inches longer than last year.  I'd like to grow it out another 6 this year.  Having long hair is fun again!

  • Learn more recipes and get out of the same old same old recipe doldrums.  I don't think I have tried one new recipe this year.  LOL this really cracks me up.  Oh wait, no.  I did try 1 new was for homemade Kettle Corn.  And it was so awesome, I just decided there was no point in finding anything new to eat.

  • Actually hang some pictures and curtains in my 5 month new to me house.  Check on the pictures, still need to hang curtains.  Half done is better than not done, at least in this case!

  • Keep up with my "counting gifts" and being thankful.  I have done a lot of counting gifts in my head, on facebook, and on my blog.  Not so much on paper.  I just forget to write them all down, but I have definitely seen an improvement in my attitude on the days when I am looking for gifts from God, and looking at my circumstances as a gift whether pleasant or not.
So, there you have it!  My two words for the year...they might go together and they might not but we shall see.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let me be grateful

This is the post in which I ramble on about the things I am grateful for.  They are many, and most of them are not things you would even care about.  But it makes me so happy to see them in writing, and get what you get.

  • My love made me fried rice for supper.  He knows how much I like it and surprised me with it.  I love him a lot....he has given me so much grace, so much.  After 13 years I can't imagine myself being any more in love with him, and yet I know in 10 years, I'll say the same thing.  
  • Speaking of love, I viewed a random blog on Sunday with pictures of grooms seeing their brides for the first time.  Just look at the priceless moments captured on film.  Later that day, we went to church where God was...and oh, He was!  I thought again about that blog with the pictures of the grooms and the looks on their faces.  And I thought, I want to be so beautiful to Him that on that day that He returns for me, He stands there with a look of wonder and amazement at His bride.  I can't imagine being any more in love with Him in 10 years, and yet I know I will be!
  • I'm grateful that my work hours have slowed so much.  I'm working around 9 hours a day instead of 12-13.  Honestly, it feels a little like a vacation after working so hard for over a year.  I am supremely thankful for this.  I'm spending more time with my kids, and getting more sleep--both very good things!
  • I'm grateful that I have so much.  My home is always heated and cooled, my water always runs when I turn on the faucet, and I don't have to trudge out to the back yard to use the restroom.  If I'm sick, I have medicine and cough drops I can use to help me feel better.  I go to sleep at night on the most amazing mattress with warm blankets and even a fake rain noise maker to make me feel comforted.  My husband and I have two paying jobs right now, despite our feelings about both working, and we are still able to care for our children full time ourselves.  My bills are all paid with a little extra usually, and we eat a lot.  Probably too much.  We. Have. So. Much.  I am overwhelmed.
  • I am really grateful about Christmas this year.  The last few years, Christmas-time has been rough for me.  Special for my family, I'm sure, but for me, in my heart, it has been hard.  I spent last Christmas very stressed about my job...the one before that we drove from WV to AL (a drive which I hope I will never have to make again), and the one before that I was physically sick and emotionally miserable at my circumstances.  This year, my life is just so rich.  I am surrounded by my family (all but one sister who lives in NM with her family) just a few hours away.  For the first time in my life, I feel able to give presents to those I choose from a grateful, excited heart.  I have things picked out I feel will be meaningful (I hope!) to those I love, and I just can't wait to give them.  It makes me wonder how our Lord felt when he was doing all that "growing in grace, and in the sight of God and man" while He was young.  I mean, seriously....if you know what was going to happen when you were 33 and what it would mean to the world, how hard would it be to keep that all to yourself for the next 20 years??????
  • I am grateful that my children sleep pretty well.  It didn't use to be so, and I remember that and accept this season of rest with utter thankfulness.  By 8:30 or so, I can wind down and have an hour before bed for "fun" however I choose to use it.
  • Grateful for a hard working husband, who gives me grace when I am choosing to use my hour to blog and get some thoughts out of my head, instead of finishing up the dishes or folding some laundry.  He doesn't judge me and gives me space to be me.
  • I'm grateful that my children's natural leaning away from the things of God, is what keeps me close to God.  I need Him so so much, to know how to gently lead these kiddos He's given me.
  • I'm grateful for new neighbors who love the Lord...and some new neighbors who may not but are just as precious to Him.  I have never in my grown up life had "real" neighbors who send their kids to each others' houses.  It is absolutely precious and wonderful!  Looking forward to getting to know them more this next year!
  • Thankful for all the leaves in my yard, because it means I have a yard, and I have trees in the yard that provide shade during the hot summers of AL.  My yard is fenced and is exactly what we prayed for a few years ago, when we lived in the 2nd floor apartment above the cranky older couple whose female half took a nap daily at 4 pm (witching hour for my kids).  Thankful that Marc or I did not crack during that very stressful season, and I'm not sure I would be as grateful or content to rake leaves if I had not been through that time.
  • Thankful, just thankful.  For Riddlers Skittles when I don't know when I'm getting the melon flavored ones I hate, and for 3 bowls of Frosted Flakes to remind me of the days I was pregnant with Zachary, and for this striped long sleeved shirt that matches my baby sister's shirt that we bought together last year, and for friends far away I wish I could spend more time with.  For wedding rings that mean more than just a status symbol, they mean for always no matter what and he has proven that to me.  For doubles in dominos, and L.L. Bean catalogs that come in the mail and make me drool.  For my electric blanket that is my dearest winter friend, and my striped-with-tassels slippers that make me feel like a cross between the cat in the hat and the Grinch.  Thankful for sacrifice, and for love, and for the whole reason we celebrate this month.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November November

If I post at least once a month, in the last half of the year, does that mean I've met my New Year's Goals?  :) I suppose it is better than nothing!

Slowly but surely, life is easing, and I am getting more time to just BE.  Time to ponder my life and rest in Who He is, and time to think about the fact that "He's still working on make me what I ought to be...took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars...the sun and the earth and Jupiter and loving and patient He must be...He's still working on me!"

Lately I am not blogging as much because I'm just enjoying keeping things to myself.  I have so many things I could say, could clog up the www with.  But sometimes it feels special just between me and God, you know?  My sisters and friends keep at me to write a book.  About what, I have no idea.  Don't really feel I have much to say, honestly, and all that writing seems it would just be another thing hanging over me, another task to complete, another "life" to nurture.  No thanks.

Here are some snippets of things my Love has spoken to me over the past few months:

Let Go.

Grow Up.



Don't Quit.

Funny that as I was typing all those things, I was reminded of a pretty famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13, about Love.  "Loves endures all things, hopes all things.  Love never fails."  "Never keeps any record of wrongs" (grow up)  Gee, what are you trying to tell me, God?  ha ha

It feels tight and close in here, in His shadow.  I'm not too interested in heading out anytime soon...matter of fact, I think I'll just take a little nap.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The palm tree of Psalm 92


I worked 5:30 am to 5:30 pm--a hard 12 hours where nothing went right, everything was my department's fault (which I am ultimately responsible for) and 2 patient complaints to Administration AT THE SAME TIME.  Literally both of my phones ringing and both calls were from different people in administration, at the same time people waiting outside my door to answer questions, etc, etc, etc.  The last 45 minutes of those 12 hours, I dragged my hobo-looking kids around (all 3 in one double stroller because 2 out of 3 kids did not have shoes on), while I completed my work at the hospital.  Stopped by the cafeteria to give them all bribes of chips because I just needed to survive til I can get us all out the door and hopefully not look foolish to anyone in Administration on the way (failed by the way, of course we passed someone looking at me like I was insane).  Get home to start homework with Z, and he's whiny and doesn't want to do homework.  And Emi is coloring on every homework page, and Kenna has decided to eat her chips and Emily's, and I resort to sticking Emi in front of the TV watching Caillou.  I eat my cold supper of plain noodles that I dip in the cold spaghetti sauce with meat, while I stand at the stove.  Literally eat out of the pots in between giving spelling words.  Finally get them bathed and almost in bed--whoops, forgot the milk for the last minute drinks before bed.  So trudge out to the back 40 of the garage to the landlord's fridge because mine is still not working because no one has time in my family to call a repairman.  Kick a cockroach HARD on my way out to the garage because these things are going to be the death of me one day and I hate them and it's not fair that they try to live in my house and I shouldn't have to pay money to a bug guy to keep them out so I don't but I still feel infested in the winter and it's not fair.  Come back in with the milk, girls drink it, Zach's in the tub, bring the milk back out to the garage.  Go to tuck girls into bed, and Emi has a stinky diaper, which of course absolutely had to wait until she was wearing a fresh diaper (there goes another 25 cents for nothing!).  Change her, come back, calm the girls down, try not to threaten them too much to stay in their beds because Kenna playacted one day not too long ago with her doll who was taking a nap and said "You'd better stay in that bed, or I'm going to kill you!"  No, I have NEVER said anything like that to her, not even close, but just because I didn't use those words, did my tone convey that to her? and Oh my God (praying now), do I really sound like that? and if so, Lord, really I need help here!  Come back to get Z out of the bath and he whines about getting out of the bath just like he whined going into the bath, and I finally quietly say, "Mom's had a really really really bad day.  Can you just please wash your hair, get dressed and go to bed without any fussing?  Just this once?"  Get Z in bed and think about how I let Emi watch Sprout for almost 2 hours before bed because I couldn't balance both her and the older 2 with homework and how Zach ate his bag of chips, then a banana, and then more tortilla chips he found somewhere and maybe I'm not doing a good enough job of making sure healthy food is available, and maybe if that stupid fridge were working in my house instead of in the garage we would eat better.  And no wonder why I'm starving because all I had to eat all day was a small bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a 20 oz Pepsi and a tiny bowl of soup at lunch.  And "Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death??

One of those days where you just feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and vegging on the couch in front of the mindless tube.  But I'm not giving up!!!  God told me not to, twice, specifically 2 weeks ago on a Wednesday and a Sunday.  Days that will burn into my heart like other times He has spoken through people and things to teach me stuff about how to grow up.

"Thank GOD!!!!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 7:24-25

So...the Palm tree
"But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  For they are transplanted to the Lord's own house.  They flourish in the courts of our God.  Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  They will declare, 'The Lord is just!  He is my rock! There is no evil in Him!' "  Psalm 92:12-15

4 things I learned about the palm tree from my pastor

  1. The roots of the palm tree will continue to grow if any part of the tree is cut down...the tree will re-grow and send new shoots out.
  2. The tree bends, but won't break.  Storms could bend the tree over almost doubled, but it will eventually stand back up straight again like it never happened.  The more the tree bends under the weight of the wind and rain, the greater the yield of the fruit.
  3. The root system of the tree goes straight down searching for water.  Often the roots of the tree are deeper than the tree is tall.
  4. The palm tree produces fruit even in old age--it is continuously fruitful.

What do you think?  If I'm honest I want to say that I'm not 100% sure all these things are true, although it sounds pretty good.  I don't have hours to spend researching all this stuff.  But I will say that in life, the principle seems to be true that the more we are tested, the more we find out who we really are and what we're made of.  In this case, I find out that I am nothing.  And without Christ, I have nothing and might as well give up trying.  But "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  I can declare that He is MY rock, and He is just.  I can go to bed now, hopefully not feeling that this day was wasted, because I decided to redeem it by declaring that this day was not wasted.  He is going to make something out of this day, whether I can see anything good in it yet or not.

Tonight I am grateful to be turning out the light soon...grateful that when I set my alarm it is going to say something ridiculous like "your alarm is set to go off in 7 hours and 22 minutes" and that this will be the most sleep I get this week, grateful that I have a cell phone to use as an alarm.  Grateful that I have all my fingers and can type all this out and not leave it in my spirit, grateful that although my supper was cold, I did get to eat.  Grateful that tonight it was not raining when I had to go out to the back 40 of the garage...grateful that the cockroach flew really far when I kicked it and it really did make me feel a little better to kick it like that.  Grateful that though my job is stressful this week, I have Friday off and that I even have a job to go to each day to help provide for my family.  Grateful, just grateful.