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 recipe...it 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.