Little Things

Do you ever come to yourself and realize how shallow you really are (-or it that just me)??!  You finally see that the things you worry about are all such a waste of time in God’s perspective.  I’ve recently spent too many hours hashing and re-hashing our budget, worrying about how we’re going to ever get ahead and how we can afford to do this and that and the other (college, housing, etc) … and I blame Dave Ramsey entirely for the pressure to make our budget right … but I also know if God can take care of sparrows and lilies, He will take care of us.  (and hadn’t HE proved that over and over!!?)

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It might not just be the financial security I am mulling about, I look at other people our age, our former peers and neighbors and family, and I realize they started out a long time ago, making the right choices.  This is because I compare my story to others’ stories far too often – God’s path is individualized.  Granted, we too thought we were making “right” choices all along the way – and no regrets about the career path – but we could have made BETTER financial choices.   Now, of course, we can’t go back.

Today I got a text that a father of one of the 8th graders at our kids’ school had passed away from a heart attack this morning.  This happened a few months ago when a family friend – a young man of 31 – passed away suddenly as well.  Don’t those things just stop you in your tracks and make you realize what IS important?!

I spent my days hoping for a time when we’ll finally be debt free and able to do more things that I want to do (#1 on the list is GO TO GERMANY!!!) or have a reliable vehicle or live securely without having to worry about moving (but after all the moving I have done, will I ever really be able to plant roots?!!).

I think about turning 50 “in a few years” … and I think how much I haven’t accomplished.  I want to write and home-make and travel and do things with my children … but they are growing up!  Fast!  Time isn’t slowing down … but isn’t time on this earth fleeting anyway??!  What will it all matter when we get to Heaven – for ETERNITY!

I forget to think about TODAY – what I can do in the now.  While a day trip to visit a college in a near-by town with my son doesn’t sound as exciting as traveling to a foreign land with him, it was a fun day.  I am thankful for that day.

I have a decent job – for the most part, I have very little stress, and I’ve been able to position myself where I never again have to feel the pressures that I did in my last job (probably more self-inflicted, but if I didn’t accomplish things I needed to, no one would have!).  And yet, I gripe about the time away from home, away from my own pursuits instead of being thankful.

I want to push my husband to get a better paying job because he “deserves it” … and he, of course, wants to advance, but his time table and mine are so polarly opposite.  He is methodical and steady – and I am frantic and pushy!  Yes, he had a job interview yesterday … and it went OK … but he has not used modern business applications in a long, long time now and may not be suited for this job, despite all the ways it seems PERFECT financially.  If he isn’t happy there, then I have to remember it isn’t worth it.

I want my children to succeed.  This is one of my downfalls with Facebook … people’s children are out there with amazing opportunities in sports, travel, education, and outside activities (theater, art, etc) … and my kids are fairly ordinary in comparison.  They come by it naturally (hence the name of my blog – the ORDINARY Hausfrau!).  They are INCREDIBLY SPECIAL, talented, smart, and have wonderful character IN MY OPINION.  But comparatively, they haven’t done much to have great success in this world – or even in their own local environment.

And I’m not even saying success is a bad thing … It just isn’t the main thing.  And that’s what I’m forgetting sometimes.  I feel a little like we not “normal.”  And then I think about what I recently told my daughter when some of the girls in her class were teasing her about liking old fashioned TV shows and not wanting to get into the vampire/zombie shows and movies that are so prevalent now:   I told Annie-Belle that THOSE GIRLS DO NOT GET TO DEFINE WHAT IS “NORMAL”.  They do not have the authority over her to tell her what she should and shouldn’t be doing at her age.

Some days I just want to barricade our home and shelter my children from everything in this world that is enticing us – even from the good things like technology that is so beyond our means despite the fact that it is AMAZING!  I can see the appeal of home-schooling and home-steading … although with my “black” thumb and lack of knowledge – and the fact that I really am a city girl – I think I’d kill all our crops and livestock.  And I don’t know how to cook or sew very well, so we’d probably not last too long – plus I’m not sure I could find a recipe to make Oreo cookies from scratch and so I’d be doomed to go to Target “for supplies” far too often!!  ;)

In the end, I am thankful today that God loves me and gently prods me along despite my coveteousness and worries and wrong perspective.  I’m thankful for my husband and kids are PERFECTLY NORMAL to me, if not to anyone else in the entire planet!  I’m thankful for friends – who are diverse in where they live and how they live and what they value – but who accept me with all my craziness.  I’m thankful for this little blog outlet to process these things out loud.

Today – I am reminding myself – yet again – to be thankful for the LITTLE THINGS and ENJOY TODAY.

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Posted in every day life, Random Thoughts | 2 Comments

Monday: A Story Continued

Last week ended in an ironic situation that left me wanting to move to Australia … I really wonder sometimes if God delights in keeping me on my toes … and He delights in making me eat my words of frustration by coming through for me after my complaining!!  He MUST have a great sense of humor!!  And as an honest testimony to HIS goodness, I need to chronicle today as well:

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So, today we took Drew to a Christian college across the border in Missouri for a college entrance interview.   It was more of an informational tour (for us), but we thought we’d check it out before we marked this particular college off the “to be considered” list.  I was actually more impressed than I thought I would be, but perhaps I was also feeling a little nostalgia for the Christian university I attended and graduated from.  This campus has about 1,500 students and is very self-contained (they have their own ZIP CODE!!) … and best of all, every student comes out DEBT FREE.  This school has some pretty impressive visitors such as Bill O’Reilly, Dr. Ben Carson, various presidents (not Obama), and coming in April, Tim Tebow.  They don’t admit just anyone, so we don’t even know if Drew will get an acceptance letter from them…. But anyway …

It was nice to take the day off with Drew and Daniel and go on a little road trip while the girls went to school.  We also stopped to have brunch with my in-laws before the interview.  During brunch, Drew to a text from the owner/manager of the Chick-Fil-A where he works and was asked if he could meet with them (husband/wife team) on Wednesday afternoon.  HOPEFULLY, this is a discussion about promotion as Drew recently completed a leadership course CFA offers, but in any case, we are optimistic that it is GOOD NEWS.  Ironically, they texted during what would be a school day, and normally, Drew would NOT have his phone on him as he has to turn it in to the school office each morning or leave it in his car.  But he was able to answer and make the appointment right away.

Later, Drew was in his college interview, from which parents are – logically – banned.  Daniel and I were hanging out in the waiting room, reading, when my phone rang.  It was the organization that Daniel works for, and he answered, anticipating the offer of over-time hours (which in and of itself is a good thing)!  HOWEVER, instead, it was the invitation to a job interview tomorrow (Tuesday) for the business side of the organization.  It was a job he really didn’t have much hope that he’d get, and I actually I facilitated sending in his application.  Again, normally, Daniel would have been at work, where he is NOT supposed to have a cell phone out.  Plus, this call came in on MY phone.  Coincidence?!  I’m not sure … but I prefer to think it was not.

For several years now, our family has been tracking how God provides for us – usually and often at the VERY LAST MINUTE.  I am of the opinion that this is God’s way of keeping me connected and dependent on Him.  When you literally have to ask for DAILY BREAD, you become very aware of your need for a gracious God.

Our family are the poster children for Dave Ramsey’s Cautionary Tale (if he had such a thing); you DO NOT want to be in our shoes!  Our situation is somewhat the consequences of our own choices – with many things beyond our control – because we were NOT prepared for “emergencies” like unemployment, a house that would not sell, moving out of state, more expenses than income for far too long, etc.

The point of my post is to ask my friends to please – again – pray for our situations mentioned above.  Whether or not God answers in the way I want to believe He is directing, I am thankful for opportunities coming – yet again – on the heels of bad news (our taxes, Dan’s vehicle which really needs to be replaced soon).   Otherwise, we have been contemplating our budget (that I’ve been tracking by the penny for over a year now – just as Dave Ramsey WOULD recommend!), and the only other way we see cutting something else out of it is to move into cheaper house (or duplex or apartment) for another year or two.   This makes me really sad because I love this house and its location – but I will admit we lived here because *I* wanted this house!!  I love its beautiful hardwood floors and the back yard and the open floor plan kitchen/dining room/living room and the fire place and all the storage I have.  Plus we are no more than 5-7 miles from any of our work places or school.   But what we save on fuel each month doesn’t justify the $250-300 that we are over-paying based on our budget that we could be applying to debt/emergency fund/vehicle fund.

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This could all be exciting … or disappointing … depending on the outcomes.  And my brain will be swirling with the possibilities.  Hopefully, if all goes well, I won’t be moving to Australia after all …

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Posted in every day life, Prayer, provision | 4 Comments

THURSDAY: A True Story

There’s a lot of news & events to catch up on my blog … but this has been “one of those weeks” … and yesterday (Thursday) was “one of those days”.  I took some time when it was all over to write it down because it is really rather incredible:

One of my favorite kids’ books is Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day.  Today I too was ready to move to Australia.

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Our day started with Daniel announcing that his car wouldn’t start (again).

Actually, the fact that Daniel’s car didn’t start this morning wasn’t that unusual.  When you drive a 1996 Buick that has had as many problems as this one has had, you are just grateful for every day that it actually decides to turn over and transport  you the few miles that you dare drive it away from home.  The only good news is that in Arkansas, you have to get your vehicles’ value (and personal property) assessed yearly – and this car hardly costs us a penny in taxes.

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And speaking of taxes, ours aren’t going so well this year.  Somehow the IRS likes to acknowledge the fact that both my husband and I worked full time last year and that he worked many overtime hours and that we own a “rental property” in Missouri …. But the IRS does NOT have any regard to the fact that we are digging ourselves out of debt, paying far more in rent than we should be, and that our rental property is a necessary evil and not an “investment” – among many other factors.  Oh, and did you know (and you probably did – but it was a SURPRISE TO ME) that they take away your child tax credit once your kid turns 17?!?!?!?!   Anyway, I started taxes yesterday so that was just another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad situation that I wasn’t ready for.

But, back to today, so Daniel’s car doesn’t start.  No big deal – we are used to shuttling each other back and forth to work, school, activities, and so on as the vehicles take turns breaking down.

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Thankfully, TODAY, Drew was also ready to register his new-to-him vehicle (and ironically he now has the nicest car of any of us!) … The DMV was just as bad as I had anticipated.  I was a little leary at 8:15 a.m. when we arrived and there was only ONE employee working the vehicle registration section (we pulled #13, and she was helping customer #4) … but at 8:30, another worker arrived, and by 8:50, there were actually 4 employees moving those numbers along.  We were done by 9:15 and because Drew wanted to prolong returning to school as long as possible, we had breakfast at Chick-Fil-A.

The afternoon began Round #2 of the family shuttle service.  The plan worked out pretty well – Drew took Annie-Belle to her theater class after school then picked up Daniel from work and deposited him at the doctor’s office for his afternoon appointment (he’s been fighting a cold, ear ache, etc for 5 days now), leaving Mimsy with me at work (the pharmacy) next door; then he zipped off to work at Chick-Fil-A.  I left work at 4:40 to go pick up Annie-Belle from theater class and returned to the pharmacy by 5:15 just in time to dispense and pay for Daniel’s Z-Pak.  He had to get his left ear irrigated and now has no more excuses that he can’t hear me!!

Even so, that is just “all in a day’s work” really.  We do this kind of running around in circles quite often (more often than I’d prefer!).  So, after depositing Daniel on the couch with lots of fluids, tissues, and blankets, I took Annie-Belle to the library.  I was rewarded by finding the latest book written by a favorite author (Elizabeth George, the fiction/mystery writer, not the Christian writer, although I like her too).  We grabbed yummy, fresh tacos at Tacos4life (a new place in town that donates 1 meal for every meal you buy) … and headed home.

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And here the no good very bad day came to an end with the most ironic event of all!  As I was getting out of my van, I was rather pleased that we’d accomplished so much in that day, and I was now going to REST and RELAX.  Why do I ever get my hopes up like that??!

I pushed the button to the ONE GOOD sliding back door of my van after getting out the few things I needed from the back (the other door sticks horribly, and I hate to even use it), and suddenly, I felt somewhat pinned down!  Sure enough, I had shut the door on the corner of my (only winter) coat.  And I couldn’t for the life of me get the button to work again to open the door.  I called for help, and Daniel, feverish as he was, came out into the cold garage to try to rescue me.  And we tried to push, pull, and force that sliding door to open – from the outside and from the inside.  AND IT WOULD NOT BUDGE.  I, of course, had to slip out of my coat, but I couldn’t DRIVE with most of a coat hanging from the sliding door of my van!!!!  And so I did the next desperate thing:  I cut my (only winter) coat loose from the door.  And even then, the little piece stuck in the door frame would NOT budge and is stuck there, I suppose, forever.  And of course, we can’t ever use that used-to-be-good door again.  THANKFULLY, we have another sliding door, but as I said, it doesn’t work properly either.  Perhaps the kids will just have to exit the van out of the back hatch, kind of like the emergency exit of a bus?!

Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Am I the only person on planet earth who has stuff like this happen to them?!  Daniel even went so far today to ask me if I’d been paying our tithes.  (You have to know that all our lives preachers have warned us that if one doesn’t pay their tithes, God will give you flat tires and all kinds of troubles …)

I am exhausted and frustrated – and thankfully, at this point of my day, amused enough to chuckle a little bit as I think of our crazy day and our crazy life and the crazy things that seem to continually happen to us.  I can’t say I’m really looking forward to tomorrow though.  At least we don’t have to worry about Daniel’s car right now as he is calling in sick tomorrow and won’t be going anywhere.  I just wish I could call in “mentally exhausted”.

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Posted in every day life, irony | 1 Comment

Abundant

It is time once again for “Heavy Thoughts to Burden Your Day” …

No, not really.  But my brain is always swirling with thoughts that analyze my daily encounters with information, with others, and with God.

Recently, I stumbled upon a statement that said something to the effect of – the Holy Spirit’s job is conviction, not condemnation.  Conviction DRAWS YOU TOWARD GOD … Condemnation SEPARATES YOU FROM HIM.

ROMANS 8:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

I want to have life and peace!

I so easily condemn myself for my wrong actions or bad thoughts.  But that condemning is telling me that I am NOT worthy of God’s favor … it is putting a block between me and fellowship with God.   It is one source of false guilt I tend to carry.

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For example, I envision it like this when I remember my sin:

ME:  “God, I had so many ugly thoughts toward people today while I was at work.  Aren’t I awful?  I am SO sorry, God, that I thought those things … Help me to love others as You do.”

GOD:  “My child, what ugly thoughts?  You’ve asked for forgiveness about that 10 times already today.  I removed that sin; I don’t remember it.  Would you just get on with your life!  My mercies are new right now … my grace is sufficient in your weakness.”

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Anyway … that’s where my thoughts have been lately.  I’m still figuring it all out … I know God doesn’t intend for the Christian life to be a drudgery – I guess I tend to think I’ll get it all wrong and miss out on something!  But I do know there isn’t any “formula” for a “successful Christian life.”  It is just a simple, daily walk of faith and trust …

My word of the year is THRIVE … and I don’t really mean it in  the sense of “to become successful”, I want it to represent more the fact that I am growing and developing vigorously – I am flourishing – I am no longer defeated.  I want to live – as the Bible puts it – an ABUNDANT LIFE.

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Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble …

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A quote is attributed to some philosopher guy named Seneca that says, “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”  As a Christian, it is AWESOME that we can read the same Bible all our lives and learn something new every day!  Most of all, I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new every day.  Or as Anne of Green Gables puts it, ” … a new day with no mistakes in it … yet.”

On Monday I learned yet another lesson that I need to write down so I can remember:

Thinking back, I think I was always kind of “proud” of being humble.  It’s hard to explain!  But anyway, I think about when we were first married, I was proud be married to my husband, a young Army officer, who at the very beginning was on the “fast track” in his career.  And yet, I never thought of myself better than anyone else.  And that’s God’s honest truth.  My friends in those early years of those mandatory Army functions I had to go to and the Family Support Group meetings we needed to attend were usually the First Sergeant’s wife (because my husband valued their husbands more than anyone!) or any other young wife not among my own “peers”.  I just felt more comfortable with them than the women who wore their husbands’ ranks on their own shoulders.  (Not to stereotype and even just mentioning this makes me feel a little unfair to ALL the good people who believed “people were people” when the Army just happened to kind of divide us among the ranks – for its purposes.)

When God clearly moved us out of the military, He moved my husband into another position of influence as the administrator of a small school.  I was proud of the fact that he wanted to make a difference and was willing to give up a secure retirement in order to serve people.  If anything, we were the servants; my husband always emphasized the fact that he was just there as support personnel to help his staff to do the job they already did so well.  Our kids didn’t deserve any more privilege than any other child that attended the school.   It was easy to be humble because we had the control.  We were choosing to act as we did, sincerely trying to do it well.

It wasn’t until we lost that status or that privilege and had ZERO control during a long time of uncertainty and gradual regression in our financial situation that I examined myself very closely.  Trouble tends to draw out the REAL you.  It kind of leaves you exposed and vulnerable.  It was a true humbling … the kind where you *know* you have NOTHING … but God.

However, my ugly, sinful heart often remains in its old judgmental patterns learned a long time ago.  I can’t blame the churches I grew up in, but sometimes the sermons I heard – whether intended or not – caused me to think that we were “better” because we lived holier.  We didn’t do this “sin,” and we did have that “godly behavior.”  We were “righteous” … we lived “righteous.”  God was pleased when we were “righteous.”  But it tended to make me feel a little self-righteous (something my judgy self is quick to point out in other Christians, ironically!!).  It was a seed of pride.  [It also led me to a lot of false guilt and feeling like I never could really measure up to that righteousness and a lot of other issues with God and Christianity that I’ve had to work through – but that’s for another 4,000 blog posts to share how I have grown away from that.]

OK, so back to my point:  I do have tendencies to judge; I do have tendencies to divide people into groups of “worthy” and “unworthy”.  Thankfully, I have a husband who genuinely doesn’t do that – he honestly treats the janitor, his patients at the mental health clinic where he works, or the parent of a struggling student with the same respect and dignity as he would the pastor of a church or the President!  Thanks to him and some really precious, pure-hearted friends, I have seen my sin of judging based on MY OWN criteria.  But I’ll admit I still do it!

So, there are certain pharmacy patients we have now that I DREAD to see come in (the same was true for me when I was a school secretary of some parents).  I can put on a “fake” nice for them, but deep down inside, I’d just as soon avoid them.  That’s NOT what Jesus would do, I’m sure.  :-/  And I have already been TRULY humbled because of this attitude of mine – because God has revealed to me a few times how WRONG I AM.  Even before we moved to Arkansas, I was humbled to find a sincere ally in a person who I thought I could never be friends with because she just annoyed me (in my judgy-ugly estimation).  Suddenly, she and I were much in the “same boat” – and SURPRISE – God used her in my life (and I’d hope vice versa) to get us through the end of that time in Missouri.  I had to admit it to her … mainly just as an apology that I never reached out to her until the end (I don’t think I ever admitted that she annoyed me! ha!).

So, there’s this elderly patient who comes in to the pharmacy regularly.  She’s loud and talky and has some “different” opinions and ideas that she shares boldly.  Of course, I automatically put her in the category of “annoying” because she is SO SO SO opposite of what I am.  BUT here’s what God has shown me over and over:  IT IS OFTEN THOSE WHO ARE THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF ME WHO TEACH ME THE MOST!!

On Monday, this same elderly patient came in to fill some medication, and as it was a non-busy time, she began to talk to me and the pharmacist I work with.  And she shared some AMAZING stuff about her life – she’d been a special education teacher and even had a doctorate degree.  She talked about having 2 severely handicapped grandchildren she’d taken in because the parents couldn’t handle them.  She shared some stories that almost made me cry because of her compassion and knowledge.  I WAS IN AWE – this woman, given a chance for me to open my heart to her, was INSPIRING.  When she left, my pharmacist and I both just looked at each other and said, “Wow!”

And then I ate my humble pie.  I dreaded this woman coming in – but from now on, you’d better believe I will look forward to it!  I am learning in my own old age to not underestimate the knowledge of someone who has lived outside the nice, tidy, “righteous” Christian bubble that I’ve grown up in and tend to live in (even though I find my bubble rather restricting at times … I want to live safely in it on MY OWN terms, I guess).

And actually I’ve learned this lesson before as I’ve met so many, many people who are not like me, didn’t come from where I came from, and may not even believe exactly as I do:  I can still be friends.  I can still learn something – and share something.   I blame my introversion on not being able to open myself up to everyone – and my introvert bubble is so warm and safe and without drama – but sometimes, I need to take a chance on someone.  Many of my best friends are not at all like me in personality … but they offer me so much in drawing me out of myself.

There will always be annoying people in my life – and anyone’s life – particularly if one works with the public … and I prefer to just protect myself from them. But I hope I will remember this lesson, and at least be OPEN to getting to know a few more of them.

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In Between

It is that time “between the years” again!  It seems to be a time of reflection for many people.  The year gone by:  good riddance or good times – or a mix of both.  The coming year:  ambitious plans for change and high hopes for the days ahead.

I was recently reading a little article about this time period.  Many European countries observe it in different ways with different reasons such as calculating the calendar before Julius Caesar’s time or the German folklore of this being the time that evil spirits are released to cause mischief between the celebration of Christ’s birth and the Epiphany on January 6.  The funny insight on that was that people in medieval times believed they should not wash their clothes during that time period, as when they were hung to dry, the evil spirits would use them to play pranks.  Not sure what the thinking was behind that, but I guess it gave the tired housewives an excuse to take a break!

Anyway, as I’m one to constantly be thinking and overthinking and analyzing and planning, this time of year finds my brain in high gear.  My self-therapy, of course, is to write my swirling thoughts down and try to make sense of them.

Currently, as I dwell on a new year ahead, I’ve been trying to think up kind of a word of the year or a theme for the upcoming days.  I think 2015 was our year of “healing” in that it was truly time to leave the past behind us with all its hurts and setbacks.  And while consequences linger and the lessons we learned continue to be reminders for the future, it is time to start living more in the present.  In fact, I think word for 2016 will be THRIVE!

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I’m very much a detail-oriented person.   I focus on the little things that need to get done (or that don’t get done).  That is great when you deal with the IRS or Medicare (both of which have been or are part of my occupation!) … but it makes you forget that there is WHOLE GREAT BIG world out there!  Sometimes you have to realize the big picture instead of the tedious pixels that it is made up of.

I’m not a big fan of 10 Things — or 5 Steps — lists (very often seen I blogs and social media, like “10 Things Every Mom Needs to Know”).  That said, I do have 2 things I want to work on this coming year.

  1. Let go of unmet expectations. PEOPLE will let you down.  Even your most trusted, closest friends and family are flawed and can’t meet your every need.  Trust only JESUS to meet EVERY need.  If He provides it, it is good for you; if He doesn’t, He is enough.
  1. BE THANKFUL. That one is easy and a given … and EVERYONE has heard this concept.  BUT until we practice it actively, daily, all-in, full-fledged can it get INTO your heart and move on to your head!

The way I plan to remind myself to practice gratitude is to get into Ann Voskamp’s book and journal One Thousand Gifts:  Finding Joy in What Really Matters.  One exercise in this is to daily write down things to be thankful for until there are 1,000 … and then keep going.  Little things and big things.  Good gifts and bad circumstances.  The Bible reminds us that IN EVERYTHING, give thanks.

One Thousand Gifts Study Guide: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One of my children is still really struggling with a sense of belonging here and with unmet expectations of all the things we had optimistically hoped this move to Arkansas might be (but that did not come to pass).  We had a long, tearful (on her part) discussion about this (again) last night as I drove around in circles in our neighborhood, listening to her laments.

And I told her that I had many of the same feelings, and while she processes her frustrations with tears and sadness, I vent mine through anger and harsh words.  So, we determined to help each other in the upcoming year.  So, I’m not in this alone!

Whether or not I am successful in my goals is yet to be determined.  I know me – and I know how prone I am to self-pity and negativity.  There are some old, hardened strongholds that need to be broken … there are deep paths that lead me to the same pit I’ve wallowed in for a long time… they are almost comforting in that it is what I am used to:  anger, jealousy, being aloof with my emotions, and maintaining my fierce independence.  Some of that I pretend protects me from more hurt, but sometimes, it makes me inaccessible to those who really do love me.

Ah, life.  It isn’t easy figuring it all out.  I recently read somewhere that we aren’t meant to just live to pay bills.  That’s sometimes how I feel our life is at this stage … especially in these last few holiday weeks when it seems like “everyone” has enjoyed extra time off (to include my own husband, a government employee with tons of vacation & sick time to use – and well-deservedly so!), and I’ve had to trudge to work every week day.  But that is exactly the mindset that I need to get rid of … I can have joy in what I have … far more than in dwelling on what I don’t have!

Trust God & be thankful.  It’s really very simple.  It not rocket science … but why then do I so easily forget?  It’s time to THRIVE … with God’s grace & help.  I want it to be a way of life, not just a short exercise.

"I must be honest: I need God to consume me more than my life currently does. I want God. I want Him to show up tangibly in me. I want Him to blow me away with insights and remind me that He is bigger than all my daily crazy. I want Him to sweep me off my feet and take me on one of His many amazing adventures." - Lisa Whittle. Read the rest of today’s guest devotion: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/?p=3153:

Call Me Cordelia

Posted in every day life, resolve, winter | 3 Comments

Our “Wonderful” Life

I almost didn’t write my annual Christmas letter this year … in fact, IF you get a Christmas card from me at all, it probably WON’T include the letter that I ended up writing because it was much like the year that’s gone by – uneventful.  And by saying uneventful, I guess I just mean that we went to work, to school, to kids’ activities, and attempted to keep the house clean and functioning in between.  There were occasions of traveling to see family, which is always great, but it always involves driving, packing, unpacking, and more laundry.  In other words, it was a lot of WORK.

As per usual, I sit here, anticipating going to work in a little while from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  If we had the Bummer Summer this year, this would be dubbed the “Crummy Christmas”.  As I read so many statuses on Facebook, “It’s CHRISTMAS BREAK” … I wonder when I get *MY* break.  Oh yeh, we get 1/2 a day off on Christmas Eve.  Thanks, Ebeneezer Scrooge.   ;)   Actually, that’s just the lot of those who work in the medical profession … as well as law enforcement and military and those overworked postal-and-UPS workers (!!) and those who work in retail (GOD BLESS THEM!).

And so, I turn to my blog for some CHRISTMAS CHEER!!  I need some reminders that we really did have a “wonderful life”.  Ha.  And we do.  The kids are healthy and active … Facebook also reminds me that so many children and families have loved ones who are ill or in the hospital.  Plus, we get to stay HOME on Christmas Eve and most of Christmas morning anyway – MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE!!!  I have firewood ready – even though the temperatures around here are a crazy 65+ degrees these days?!  I don’t have a lot of fancy plans to cook but we have enough for some good meals and dessert.   We’ll eat Christmas “dinner” with my in-laws later on Christmas evening.

I got my shopping done.  And after my last trip to Wal-mart on Monday night, which included dodging vomit near the front registers (again, retail workers:   God bless you!), I have decided that in 2016 I am doing ALL my Christmas shopping ON LINE.  Hello, Amazon.

And now — a reminder of all the things I have to be THANKFUL FOR right now:

Christmas programs.  Drew and Annie-Belle both sang solos in our school’s program.  They definitely get their musical ability from their dad.  I have none – but enjoy theirs!  Daniel sang in a cantata this past Sunday evening … and Annie-Belle also acted in her adopted youth group’s program on Sunday morning.

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It was Drew’s LAST high school Christmas program … *sigh*

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Mimsy enjoyed an all day Christmas party in Kindergarten last Friday, the last day of school for the next 2 weeks plus one day:

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Mimsy is blessed with teachers who practically make their entire classroom and all they do Pinterest-worthy!  They are amazing!!

 

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Mimsy has the most friends of all of us here in NW Arkansas…. Above she is with 2 of her K-5 friends who also attend church with us.  We had kind of a candle-lit caroling time last Sunday night, and the kids all got votives to hold.

 

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I am not without friends … Above is me (head of the table!) with the group I attend Bible study with every Tuesday night.  They are ladies from 3 different churches who come together to study … currently still the book of Daniel (study by Beth Moore).

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And yesterday was Mimsy’s 6th birthday!! Can this child already have been with us for 6 years!?  I so thank God for her.  The last 5 to 6 years have been some of the most upheavel-ed, tumultuous years of our lives thus far … and this kid has brought joy and laughter and her own unique insights on life to cheer us all up along the way.

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Oh to see the world through the eyes of a child … EVERYTHING is exciting and wonderful.  No worries about bills and money and time management here.  :)

And so, yes, we are blessed.  EVERY DAY.  Even on the most ordinary ones.

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Posted in Annie-Belle, birthday, christmas, church, every day life, Family, holiday | 2 Comments

December, Already?!

It was a great weekend … Great because I only left the house out of necessity a few times and for very short periods of time!  After the Thanksgiving “break” the previous week, I definitely needed some time at home to catch up, which entailed doing about 20 loads of laundry to include ironing about 10 shirts and washing many dishes and cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms.  I also had to re-organize the Christmas stuff which seemed to have just been thrown up all over my dining area as I didn’t have time to decorate and the girls “helped” by basically emptying the storage bins and digging through stuff haphazardly – and leaving the rejects strewn across the area.

But tonight I am satisfied that all laundry and bedding has been washed, the dishes are caught up, and I have some leftovers in the fridge to consider for lunches this week … and I have groceries so I can cook up a few meals as well.  It is a good feeling.  I even bought a few Christmas gifts on-line.

And so, before my world is thrown back into chaos tomorrow as we head back to school and work and holiday activities and the normal activities, I am enjoying the last moments of peace and quiet of this weekend.

Here’s what’s been going on with us since I last blogged (weeks ago!):

We loaded up the Arkansas Chugga-Bug and headed East to Tennessee the last Tuesday of November after Daniel & I worked and the kids attended school for a half day.

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We made it to Memphis and spent the night.  BEST IDEA EVER … breaking up a 700 mile trip into 2 phases!!  The girls enjoyed the hotel’s indoor pool all to themselves, and we got a decent night’s rest – and a lovely free breakfast bar in the morning.  We made it home to Knoxville by mid-afternoon to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

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It was 2 years ago at Thanksgiving that my dad blessed us with the Chuggabug … and I will never forget how grateful we are!!  Actually, it is more like the bionic van now that we’ve replaced its transmission, tires, wheel bearings, brakes, and more … but it’s getting us around fairly comfortably still.

So, we got to spend Thanksgiving with my family … and Daniel even took a little side trip to the Chattanooga area with the big kids to visit with 3 of his siblings and his parents who were spending the holiday there!  It was a fast but fun trip.

On Saturday, November 28, my brother offered to take me/us to the last Tennessee Vols home game … I haven’t been to Neyland stadium in 20+ years so that was a lot of fun.   Honestly, though, I don’t need to do it again for another 20 years.  I did hear “Rocky Top” enough to sustain me for that long, no doubt!   My favorite part of the game – other than the fact that Tennessee won – was watching the “Pride of the Southland” Band perform.

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Drew drove us the 700 miles back to Arkansas on Sunday … It rained the whole way!  Thankfully, the traffic was tolerable, and we made it home in about 12 hours.

Monday, November 30, was BACK TO WORK … and back to work with a vengeance as Daniel had a 16 hour day, and Drew had to go back to work after school as well.  So, that evening, just me and the girls went out FOR MY BIRTHDAY … Since my mom had a little birthday party for me while we were still in Tennessee, I definitely didn’t feel neglected.

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All last week was just “one of those weeks” … We had something going on every night.  Annie-Belle ended up missing 2 days of school due to a fever and stomach issues … and it was just an exhausting week.

But now we’re rejuvenated and ready to face this new week.  I’m trying to stop and look for glimpses of joy because I’m finding myself becoming very grinchy, considering all the to-do lists to accomplish by Christmas.  Last Friday night we were browsing at Barnes & Noble after Annie-Belle’s theater class performance, and a man randomly gave me $10 for Mimsy to buy a toy she was looking at (one I had just said I could not buy her at this time!) … It was a great reminder to look around and see if there is anyone we can cheer up or pay attention to.  Taking the focus off YOURSELF is one sure-fire way to stop feeling so exhausted and spread some joy.   <<< NOTE TO SELF.

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Posted in every day life, Family, thankfulness | 1 Comment

HodgePodge – 11/18/15

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Since my 30 Days of Thanks bombed this year … I thought I’d take the pressure off myself and just blog when I can – which happens to be TODAY.  Wednesday is my late start morning … although it is also my late ending night.

So, it’s HODGEPODGE day with Joyce and friends:

1. What’s surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

May I say EVERYTHING??  I think what took my by surprise the most is how it has not gone anything like I imagined when I was a college student or a newlywed … but that even that is okay.   I have learned to say “God’s ways are not my ways, although God’s ways are better.”

Also, what’s surprised me most recently is how much I love having TEENAGERS in my home!!  In fact, I don’t want them to grow up and leave me.  When I first became a mother, people would say things like, “Enjoy these days with your sweet baby … because one day they will become teenagers …” like that’s a bad thing.   It’s so not.  I am thankful for pretty great kids!!
2.  Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year…awesomesauce, beer o’clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?

I find Mx ridiculous … recently (well, a few months ago?), a professor at my home-town University of Tennessee made a statement about no longer using masculine or feminine pronouns (which thankfully wasn’t approved):

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I don’t see myself as confrontational or narrow-minded … but apparently, I’m fairly TRADITIONAL!

I, too, would never say fatberg or fat shame since I never knew those words existed.

I have been known to shout “awesomesauce!” and I have been hangry …

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you’d rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy…which one on the list is your favorite?

Yes, I’m un-American … I do NOT like gravy – not white gravy, not brown gravy, not sausage gravy, not any kind of gravy.  I don’t like eating grease, and I love my meat or potatoes very dry!   I do attempt to make gravy for my family – but it is usually just from a packet.

I have learned about chocolate gravy now that I live in Arkansas … and that is the ONLY gravy I’ll ever eat.  I can’t make it often (actually my daughter makes it for us) – but yum!!

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

Yes, I plan – I make lists.  I expect things to GO AS PLANNED.  And yes, my plans generally fall into a trillion pieces!  ha!   Mostly that happens when I plan emotionally and my husband plans logically … and he is right and I am not. :-/

Actually, when I want to accomplish a task and am determined to do it, I plan my work and work my plan.  I love it when a plan comes together!

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you’ll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

So, yeh, I’ve played Monopoly; we own an original game and a Spiderman version and a Junior version.  We used to play games that lasted for HOURS when I was a kid … but once I started playing my husband, who is hard-core, I lost the fun in playing.  He’d wipe you out, take all your properties, and then put you into his debt.

I have never been to Atlantic City.  I’ve taken lots of rides on a railroad – mostly in Europe.  I don’t know much about parking in my town – but I guess there is a mix of paid and free parking around.  The last thing I took a chance on??? I don’t know – maybe a new recipe!!?

6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

THIS CHORUS:

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

7. In keeping with this month’s theme of gratitude….what is something you’re taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you’re grateful for?

I am afraid that I often take the ordinary for granted.  I get stressed out far too quickly, and I worry about the future way too much … I rush through my busy weeks, grumbling about my way too long to-do lists and getting irritated at interruptions.  I don’t stop very often to seek joy or to relax.  I wish I was more like my kindergarten who thinks EVERY LITTLE THING is something to get excited about.  I guess I could want to be more like my teens who seem OBLIVIOUS to all the things that need to get done (laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning …) … but then again SOMEONE has to clean up the messes!!

A friend’s family recently lost their 31 year old son (husband, father) to a heart attack … and it made me realize that every day is precious.  I think I need to make more of an effort to do things that are fun and to appreciate my family in the run-of-the-mill days when we are all so busy.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
If you read this random thought, please say a prayer for what I am calling my need for a “Thanksgiving Miracle”.

It’s not really a life-altering need, but it is important to me:   we are traveling to see my parents (700 miles) over Thanksgiving week.  And we’ve got everything arranged … except my son’s job.  He asked for the week off a long time ago, and they did not approve his request.  I am so sad – and mad – and ready to go over there and threaten his manager if he doesn’t give Drew the time off (a kid who does anything they ask him, picks up extra shifts when needed, and has signed up for a leadership course with the business).  I’ve almost said he should just quit, but he’s come so far.  :(   Anyway, Drew wants to handle it and try to talk to his manager and get others to work for him so he can go … but we’re still not 100% sure it will work out.  My mama-heart wants to intervene – so this is hard.

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Posted in Hodge Podge | 7 Comments

30 Days of Thanks – FAIL!

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So, I guess I need to face the facts:  blogging just isn’t going to be working out on a regular basis.  It makes me sad because I’d rather just sit at home and read and write all day long …

but life gets in the way.  Currently, I am still working on editing a friend’s manuscript, grading papers for a 7th grade English teacher, and I just wrote the script for Annie-Belle’s 2nd Annual Mystery Dinner which took place last Friday.

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Oh, and then there’s that pesky sort-a-full-time job I have!!  Thursday, I stole away early to take some “Senior” pictures of Drew, since it was finally sunny again and the barreness of winter had not set into the trees yet.

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I am definitely not a professional photographer nor do I have an editing program besides picmonkey.com … but I have a friend who helped me with my favorite pic (the first one) using Photoshop Elements (I liked your picture even better than the one my professional photog friend edited for me, Amy!!!).

And….. we just got Drew’s 1st acceptance letter to a university for Fall 2016.  We’re not making any big announcements since he applied to 3 different places so far, but it is exciting to think he is “in” at what is probably his first choice right now anyway!  On Thursday, we are visiting the campus of John Brown University which is a Christian liberal arts university in near-by Siloam Springs … but I have a feeling that it isn’t quite “the one.”

Anyway … all that to say, I am just thankful to function on a daily basis.  Anything else I accomplish along the way is a bonus!  ;)  And thus, my official 30 Days of Thanks is being cut short and chalked up to “good intentions”.   But that doesn’t mean my heart will cease being thankful every day for all of God’s goodness

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Posted in Drew, thankfulness | 3 Comments