I Almost Gave Up

I have been considering shutting down the old blog lately – I mean, really?  Who wants to read about my life now-a-days:

“Dear Blog,

I went to work … again … and was tired … and cleaned up my house and tried to cook dinner … and adjusted my calendar to fit in another appointment for something that needs to be dealt with … and then adjusted for another unexpected glitch … and then I went to work … again.”

But then I remembered why I blog:

  • a few friends who I keep up with via my blog – and the occasional feedback that helps me to remember I’m not alone, that someone cares or that someone understands (or at least is listening, even if they don’t).
  • a way to remember what the kids did or said or what I learned or how I dealt with something.  A “journal” of my life as such.
  • and seemingly in the last few years, it has been the record of God’s provision despite consequences and decisions and just life’s crazy journey.

And so, for today, I will continue to write down my stories:

I think back to last Friday when I got to spend 24 hours without any obligations or responsibilities weighing me down!  I ran away to meet an old friend for a girls’ get-away and her birthday “celebration”.  It reminded me of the thing I need despite stating adamantly that I don’t:  the friendship of another woman.

I think too of my friends from phases of life – my “childhood” friends who got me through college and early marriage … my “Army” friends who were there for me for deployment and moving and all the military mandatory-fun … and my “adult” friends who have stuck with me through the last few years of good times and bad.  And in many cases, those classes of friends overlap.

Anyway, this friend, who I just saw, has been in my life since probably 2002.  She’s been there through the happiness, the transitions, the losses, and some major life-changers … and she understands me without explanation or justification.  I really needed that time with her – more than I realized.

Lots of happy reflections as I drove home last Saturday afternoon … refreshed.  A rainbow welcomed me back to NW Arkansas:

20150613_191840

Also, on the way home last Saturday afternoon, I stopped half-way and bought a top at the mall that my friend had said would suit me when we were at the chain store together earlier in the day:  I wore it to work on Monday and was glad that my friend also happens to have a great eye for style!  ;)

20150616_214044 (1)

 

(PS  I am not a fan of selfies … but I am also determined to remember what I looked like once upon a time!!)

And so … back to the old grind … and the people who motivate (and cause) me to do what I do every day:

20150616_213547 20150605_162523 20150605_162538

 

And yes, back to REALITY … and believe me, it hit pretty hard and fast:

The transmission in my van went out on Tuesday/Wednesday.  Or at least I thought that’s what it was.  So, today, we got it into the shop … and sure enough- my transmission is not just worn out but damaged badly and because my van is all-wheel drive, that makes things even more complicated.  And frankly, I’m not even surprised any more … I was a little hopeful it wouldn’t be SO bad, but as per usual, the reality of it is what it is.

The dilemma, of course, is do we invest the money to re-build the transmission??  (You can only begin to imagine what this is costing!!!)  In the end, we can’t buy a decent replacement for what it costs to rebuild and we can’t afford car payments, so we’re going ahead.  PRAYING for provision – that daily bread – yet again.

And actually, it came to my husband in the early hours of this morning as he lay worrying and praying about things … that we actually have some savings bonds from back in the Army days that we can cash in!  I went to the bank today to do just that – and guess what?!  Savings bonds gain a little interest over time!   Unexpected bonus.

I don’t even dare say it – but maybe, just maybe, things will finally start looking up for us financially some day soon?!  But despite set-backs, God does provide:  a co-worker let me use her vehicle yesterday to come home on my lunch break – and my girls saw her car and thought we’d experienced a miracle – a NEW CAR!!??!!  but really, it was a small sign that God’s looking out for us through His people – as this co-worker is a believer.

Tonight there is a GIANT, fancy pick-up truck sitting in our drive-way that belongs to a pharmacist that I work for; his family is out of town this weekend, so he just gave me the use of his truck while they are gone.  Again, he is a Christian – and he just said, “This is what we are called to do.”

So, while I am a little discouraged at the set-backs, I think my faith continues to be a little stronger because these BiG problems are never really too BIG for my BIG God.

And to remember this is why I blog.  To record that GOD PROVIDES our needs.  And so much more.

blog-sig_thumb.png

 

 

Posted in every day life, Family, friendship, provision | 6 Comments

Me & Fred Sanford (for lack of better title!)

Last Sunday, I drove my son over 100 miles away to attend Arkansas Boy’s State for a whole week … It was something I’d never heard of before a month ago, but I guess it’s been going on for 75 years now all across America?!  In any case, my son had never been away that long except for to church summer camp, and often with my husband as his counselor!

11391349_10155686107030074_4348005061532773923_n

But he’s 16 now … going on 17.  He drives, he has a job.  He’ll be a Senior next year.  He can grow a scraggly beard!  He constantly threatens me with the fact that he WILL NOT live in Arkansas after graduation, even we chose to stay here … *sigh* and *gasp*

[I fear myself turning into Fred Sanford, clutching my chest in a guilt-inducing fake heart attack, crying toward heaven, “This is the big one!” when he tells me about future plans … sorry if you’ve never heard of/watched this show and have NO IDEA what I’m talking about!!] :

fred-sanford-2-300x230

I was a little afraid to let go on the day I dropped Drew off:  What kind of kids would he encounter?  What would the conversations be like?  Who would be his roommate?  What kind of “stuff” would he hear that we’ve kind of shielded him from?  But our school’s guidance counselor assured us the boys who attended were the “best of the best” … and the activities were well monitored … and there was very little free time to get into any trouble.  And my husband assured me that it was going to be a good experience.

Reluctantly, I left him there – and joyfully, today I got to pick him up.  And guess what?  He was ok.  He stuck to himself a lot (and he called his mama on his breaks!) … and he actually participated … and he was elected as a “state representative” … and he even took a stand on one issue where all the other boys in his group were “in favor” of an issue and he was the only one who was against it!

So, on the almost 2 hour drive home, him driving, we discussed the political issues he learned about … and the speakers he heard – from both sides of the political agenda … and about what he wanted to do in the future … and about some insights he had about school, education, church, and so many other things.  Mature things.  Grown up things.  Well-thought-out things.

And it is in those moments … that I realize … he is going to be ok.  I can pry another finger off my control of his life.  My husband often reminds me that it doesn’t matter how much we shield our kids or have them attend church activities or want to share and teach them, in the end IT HAS TO BE IN THEIR HEARTS to do right, to serve God, to choose what choices our family makes will continue to be a part of their life choices.  Or not.

Anyway … in summary, Drew said Friday was his favorite day at Boy’s State.  The delegates who were elected as representatives – and others – were able to go to Little Rock and sit in the session house where the real state representatives and senators sit – and even discuss and vote on some mock bills.  Drew sat in the seat of one of the men from our area (who happens to go to our church) … one of the “good guys” who has proposed and seen the passage of at least one big bill recently that will continue to protect religious freedom in Arkansas and even supported and defended it on CNN.

11354443_469200696577283_941133750_o

 

(Andrew & Arkansas state representative Bob Ballinger)

Drew’s already said politics isn’t for him … but he was open-minded, said the speeches he heard and the discussion sessions he participated in made him think.  And that’s what we want:  teaching our kids to reason for themselves … and then to know why they believe what they do.  And to discuss it with us so we can hash it out together.

I remember this turning point somewhere in my Freshmen year of college or shortly after:  did I want to continue to follow the ways I had been taught growing up?  In many cases, such as doctrine, I chose YES … because the Bible backed up what I’d been taught.  In other areas, I’ve made my own standards – and in the last 22+ years with my husband, we have established our own standards for our family.  Will my children continue in them?  I don’t know.  But right now, I’m going to trust that they will make well-thought-out choices.  (or face their own consequences when they choose poorly!  I know I’ve learned much from my own mistakes!)

And for this, I can only continue to use the learning opportunities ahead – and be there to discuss and listen – and to most importantly, PRAY.

blog-sig_thumb.png

 

Posted in Drew, NW Arkansas, summer | 2 Comments

Weekend Blessings

There are so many things that are blessings of just ordinary life … Sometimes I just have to REMIND MYSELF that the daily routine is something to be thankful for because WE CAN DO IT!  Illness or an accident could change the ability to complete the ordinary in just a matter of seconds.  WE HAVE SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR!!

My husband and I sometimes get into these conversations about how materialist life here in America is.  I sometimes get a little irritated because he could probably live in a cardboard box and be happy … and actually, he’s been pretty close to that a few times in the Army.  He was just blessed with this easy going personality that tends to find the good in any situation and his optimism levels seem to remain high more often than not.  I’m his sad opposite – I like creature comforts and small luxuries … or at least things of good, lasting quality.  I also like frivilous things and pretty things and gadget-y things and anything that involved spending money, I suppose (!?!) … I also am often more of a realist or perhaps even pessimist because in my life, things very often just don’t go as planned … and so many things we have malfunction or break or fall apart seemingly too quickly.

Oh well … what’s that point to that?  Well, this weekend, I made it a point to be thankful for ordinary things and turn them into fun things:

For example, Daniel worked late on Friday so I took the girls out for Mexican food … and spontaneously MiMi declared that she was ready to get her ears pierced.  Daniel’s rule for ear piercing for our girls was always that it had to be THEIR decision.  And so, we went on over to the mall to get it done!  The lady who pierced her ears said that MiMi was the easiest 5 year old she’d ever worked with.  In reality, that’s nothing I did or said … MiMi just decided she was going to do this – we talked about it “pinching” a little … and she just sat there and let it be done.  Smiling the whole time.

11150934_10155666651455074_945138438929077596_n

Drew was nominated (or whatever you might call it?) to go to Arkansas Boy’s State this coming week.  I hadn’t really heard much about this program … but found out that actually my boss and one of our pharmacists went to it back in the day.  This is Boy’s State 75th year!  They’ve had men like Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Cotton come speak there because they too attended Boy’s State once upon a time (as did Neil Armstrong and Michael Jordan and Tom Brokav – who know?! – maybe not in Arkansas but I guess this is a national thing?)

So, today I drove Drew to the college campus where it is being held this year.  And in typical IRONY-OF-MY-LIFE fashion, our time there started with a near disaster.  Well, first we got registered, got Drew’s room assignment, and met his roommate and his mom (NICE people, seemingly!).  Then as we were unpacking the boys, the dorm floor leader guy came by … and it startled me.  I jumped – and my elbow hit Drew’s room key, which was sitting on top of his dresser.  And I heard the little click as the key shifted.  I figured I’d pick up the dropped key once the dorm-floor-leader-guy left.

And so, when I had the chance, I went to pick up the key … and it was NO WHERE IN SIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Over the next little while, we moved furniture, shook out clothes and bedding, and searched every corner of the little dorm room.  NO KEY!  The weirdest thing EVER!!

The boys had to go to a meeting, so the other boy’s mom stayed with me while I continued the search all over again. Nothing.  No key!!  WHAT IN THE WORLD.  I tried very, very hard to stay calm – but inside I was praying that I’d find that key.

Finally, we swept the whole room again, under every piece of furniture – and I once again was praying.  AND I looked down at my foot … and in the CUFF OF MY JEANS, there was the KEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ve never in a long, long time been SO relieved!  This kind of stuff only happens to ME, I tell you!

Anyway, the other mom was so sweet to have stuck it out with me … and we went downstairs to find our boys and say good-bye and walked back to the parking lot together.  Ironically, her vehicle was parked right behind mine in this huge parking lot.  But I do think maybe God gave us this experience to show me (and maybe her?) that the boys are at least matched up well in the dorm.  (This isn’t necessarily a “Christian” event so it isn’t like going to church camp, which is Drew’s only real experience with being away from us for such a long period of time … but his guidance counselor at school assured us it would be a good, well monitored experience.  STILL, the letting go of control … even over a boy that is now officially a SENIOR in high school is HARD!).

11391349_10155686107030074_4348005061532773923_n

Anyway, while Drew has his reluctance to attend this week, he is going into it with a good attitude.  He, like me, isn’t really the biggest of “people persons” … but it is good to get out of your comfort zone and do something new and unknown by yourself.

Tonight the boys are hearing Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speak.  Not sure who all else they will get to hear, if anyone.  In any case, I do like the motto of Boy’s State – and hope NO ONE ever lobbies to try to change or amend it:

American citizenship is my most priceless possession. I believe in the constitutional form of government of the United States of America which guarantees me as a citizen equal opportunity, equal educational rights, and the right to worship God as I choose. It is my obligation to participate in and contribute my effort to the civic and political welfare of my community, state, and nation.
 
I resolve to learn and understand government and the civic needs of my community and I hereby dedicate myself to the task of arousing and maintaining a like interest in my fellow citizens.
 
Therefore, may the experience of Boys State be ever with me as a reminder of my obligation to God and country.
blog-sig.png
Posted in Drew, every day life, Family, irony, MiMi, NW Arkansas | 2 Comments

Late Night Rambles: Proceed with Caution

It’s late … it is a time when my brain can’t stop talking, and sometimes it just writing helps to kind of clear it out.  Unfortunately, my late night ponderings are often the ones I eventually regret or wonder if I should even post – but here goes nothing:

For what it’s worth.

We live in Northwest Arkansas.  The big story here (and seemingly every where?) is about the recent discoveries that some bad things happened in the Duggar family of TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting series – granted, many years ago.   I am not really a big fan of the Duggar show, but my 14 year old daughter watches it, so of course, I’m concerned, interested … and want to find a way to explain what happened to her.

We live in the land of the Duggar’s.   I know where their house is, maybe 10 miles from mine … I’ve been on their property as a pastor-mechanic who fixed our Buick once upon a time uses their garage space.   I met their son Justin when I went to pick up our vehicle.  We’ve seen 2 of their girls at Goodwill shopping.  I have acquaintances here who are friends with the Duggar family, who’ve been in their home and invited to their events.

Also, I’m a social media junkie since I have no real life to speak of right now … and I’ve seen so many sides of the story:   questions about how this is affecting the victims (ie the girls who were molested) and WHO is really the victim here anyway:  Josh Duggar or the girls he molested … are the Duggars hypcorites … was ENOUGH done to rectify the situation … should the Family Research Council have accepted Josh Duggar’s resignation or been as equally forgiving towards him?  And on and on.   There are people on both sides of the story – former Arkansas governor and Duggar Family friend (and I think Presidential candidate for 2016?) Mike Huckabee is standing with the Duggar family, for example.   No doubt the non-Christian world is having a heyday, another mighty family fallen … and there are some scathing articles out there about how lax and flippantly the situation was handled.

What does my daughter need to know?

1.  We don’t know ALL the details … we can’t judge.  BUT we can learn.

2.  Personally, I’ve always wondered why it was perfectly acceptable for the Duggar family to give their “exclusive statements” about their 2 girls’ recent marriages and pregnancies to People magazine … I mean, what IS People magazine exactly???  It has always bothered me that even the Duggar’s website, tweets and facebook (which I follow because my daughter does!) even direct people to buy a People magazine for the “exclusive story” about this or that Duggar event.  Granted, we don’t have to comply … and I certainly won’t be shelling out my almost $4 for a copy of a Hollywood rag.  That isn’t to say, I haven’t picked up a People magazine at a doctor’s office and paged through one … because I HAVE!  :)

How much do the Duggar’s get paid for their exclusive stories to People magazine … and shoot, given a chance, what would I do (not that my life is interesting enough to warrant any attention from them so I doubt I’ll face the dilemma)??!

Did Jim Bob Duggar exploit his family for money … or are they just trying to be a “light” in the usually not-so-moral world of entertainment??  I can’t judge their motives.

BUT, should it come as any surprise that another Hollywood gossip magazine, In Touch is the one who dug into Josh Duggar’s past and broke the story of his past history??

I’m just saying … actions have consequences.  My son recently laughed at me when I told him about the old saying “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” … but is that what happened?  To what extent does God expect us to balance “being a light on the hill” with “being in the world but not of it”??  I can’t say I have an answer …

3.  Consider the victims … there is a point there.  I know personally of victims of sexual molestation and abuse in Christian families.  By family members.  Just like Josh Duggar’s situation with his sisters (and whatever other victims).  And what has been done ever so often is that the situation is swept under a rug.  Perhaps the victim is protected after the fact, but all too often the abuser (whether naive or malicious) goes on to have a normal life with few consequences.  The church I grew up in had very little – or no – guidance about what to do in such a situation.  It was marked in the long list under the category of “things we don’t talk about”.

The one redeeming quality I’ve read in the Duggar’s statement is that Josh Duggar and his family in their own way attempted to make things right, and Josh asked for forgiveness.    Perhaps I’m not understanding God’s grace completely, but from what I understand, even when God forgives, if a crime was committed, it still had consequences.  For example, David was sorry he committed adultery with Bathsheba – but he still suffered great loss afterward.  Once that was acknowledged, he was able to go on and live as “a man after God’s own heart”.

While I hope that people who are raped, molested, abused or hurt in whatever way can go on and live a “normal” life, I do know there are often things in the mind that have to be dealt with – thinking patterns or memories.  They are still there!  Yes, God can RENEW our minds … but how do we know how to do that unless we even realize we need to?

I guess I feel most for the girls who have to now be reminded of the offenses committed against them.

4.  What did I tell my daughter?  Well, not so much of the previous few points … although I did share a little of how the Duggar family put themselves out there – and no doubt, benefitted financially from contracts with TLC or People magazine and appearances on the Today Show.  The question is was that “wrong” or just dangerous?  Or was it ok?   That, we can’t really judge.

I guess I can be glad that my family isn’t interesting enough to be asked if we want to be on TV!

What else has this led us to talk about?

The fact that molestation happens.  I can’t even begin to number the pastors and men in authority in my own denomination whose power got the better of them, and they felt entitled to molest a girl or boy or several.  Some brought to trial, some not.  Some just protected by a closed mouth group of deacons or trustees … and that is WRONG.  WRONG.  WRONG.

It doesn’t make it any less wrong when a family member – young or old – commits the offense.  At least Josh acknowledged it was WRONG.  He asked for forgiveness.  If enough was done to remedy the situation, I have no idea.  I don’t stand in God’s place to say forgiveness is there but the rectification of the situation had to go to a certain extent.

I don’t know what God is up to in this family.  And in a way, I told my daughter we just need to keep our heads down and do – to the best of our ability – what is RIGHT in our own family.  We have our own sins and issues to deal with.  What happened with the Duggar’s is tragic … I hope they “maintain” their testimony or God uses it for something good.  I know many people – Christian and non-Christian – are passing their judgments and forming their opinions.

My last contemplation is that once again “appearances” seem to have been upheld.   While I believe because I’ve known people like the Duggar’s – in fact, I’ve sort of almost lived like the Duggar’s in the past – that they are SINCERE, I hope it is in their HEARTS.  I hope it isn’t just appearances and outward show.  I hope it isn’t just a rote routine and a pasted-on smile.  I hope it is real.

Thankfully, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Duggar people say they are perfect, although in a sound bite on-line recently, Josh did say  “Our family is like the epitome of conservative values,” Duggar said. “People connect to us in that way.”  Are they really?  I prefer to think I have conservative values – but my epitome is JESUS!  No man – woman, child – will ever be my “hero”.

For the most part, I’ve talked to my daughter mainly about not accepting abuse or molestation ever.  #1 most important thing to know is that IT HAPPENS EVEN IN THE “SAFEST” OF ENVIRONMENTS!!!  Then I’ve talked a little about not judging without knowing the whole story.  While opinions are formed (obviously, I have mine!), we don’t know these people, and if they are believers (and I think they are!), then God will help them work it out.  We are not in any position that we NEED TO take sides or waste more time than I already have writing this post about it.   And lastly, to often check our own hearts, is our relationship with God REAL?  Are we REAL?   Are we making sure our own sin and its consequences aren’t just glossed over?  Do we make light of our sin?? And yet, do we understand that God does forgive and He does NOT want us to carry around false guilt either.

Lastly, I’ve also talked to my daughter just a little more about teens and hormones and curiosity.  It also wasn’t something that was ever talked about in my home while I was growing up – nor even much in my church – and so it was all a great mystery … and when it was abused, no one knew exactly what to do.  I want to be more open about things like that with my kids … not because it is pleasant (I am quite the prude!!) but because personally I think they need to be aware of what is “normal” hormonal development and feelings … and what all isn’t quite right.

And now that I have all that down … I think I can leave the whole Duggar situation to them to work out and to God’s very capable hands.  Good night!  :)

PS   This post was edited  somewhat after I hit “publish” so if you read it by email and see mistakes or something that doesn’t make sense, it might have been corrected on the blog.  Then again this entire post may not make any sense at all in general!!  :)

blog-sig.png

 

 

 

Posted in NW Arkansas, Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

End of Another School Year

school-s-out-summer-tablet-computer-text-screen-background-stack-books-seashells-starfish-54079630

Actually, Friday is the last day of school for my high schoolers … high schoolers … *sigh* … when did that happen?!  Next year will be a year of mixed emotions – I’ll have a kindergartner and a Senior!  And a Sophomore!

MiMi finished K-4 with a sweet little program last Wednesday.  They demonstrated what all they’d learned and sang some sweet, innocent songs about God loving them.  At that age, they sing so whole-heartedly and without the pressures and disappointments of the world crushing them down.  Happy, pure joy on their faces and in their hearts … Lucky kids!  You just kind of want to protect them from real life forever!

11031120_10155593789925074_3169562546823970785_n

And yet, you have to slowly let them go … and let them experience … and let them learn.
I have been contemplating the paths God has brought me down, paths God has brought some of my dearest friends down … and how it has made us, molded us – what we’ve learned and gone through.

Some Christian families are very “blessed” – for a sake of a better word – they come from a long line of church-going parents and grandparents who have always practices the fundamentals of the faith in their homes.  They had a childhood of innocence, protection from the “world” and knew only life inside the church.  Others of us have had a completely different path – divorce, hurt, abuse, addictions … but in the end, were they any LESS “blessed” because our background was muddled with the sins of parents and their own?

My natural inclination is to shelter my children fiercely from all the “bad” things and evil.  I’d prefer to fill their minds with only wholesome entertainment and thoughts and words and people.  Yet, in my own reality, I know I learned the most from my experiences during those less-than-ideal situations and the hurtful circumstances and the bad examples in my own extended family or among those we’ve encountered.   Those were the things that made me pursue God deeper – sometimes out of my anger, sometimes out of a need to understand “why” and sometimes just because I needed to surrender.

I don’t know if I can even explain it … While I sometimes just wish my life had been a little easier or I didn’t know some of what I know (the bad!), I know God worked it together for good (Romans 8:28).  Some of my past has made me a little cynical and non-trusting; my eyes are somewhat more open to reality.  I know not every situation works out like a Hallmark movie.  I know that expectations can be shattered, people let you down, and sometimes you just make a bad choice and face the consequences despite God’s grace and forgiveness.

Those are the things that make me what I am – a little more compassionate towards the down-and-outers, a little more tolerant of the views of those who didn’t grow up in a good church, and a lot more understanding of someone who doesn’t live exactly like I choose to.  I don’t mean “tolerant” in accepting sinful behavior, but I can still be KIND … I can sympathize when someone struggles or even falls down.

It doesn’t make me any better than anyone else … believe me, I’ve had to deal with my own judgmental heart far too many times!  I’ve got my own set of issues – anger and resentment and jealousy.  And I’m not very good at pretending … what I feel very often shows on my face, whether I want it to or not – and my snippy comments often come out with a little more vigor than I’d like.  I lack tolerance for a whole ‘nother group of people who I consider moochers and users and free-loaders – there my tolerance and understanding ends.  I have my own definitions of “fair” and “deserving”.

But I’m seeing how truth in LOVE is so much different than just spouting truth.  God’s Word is TRUTH … I believe.  The ultimate Truth – Jesus – the Way, Truth, and Life. But He is also LOVE … and his only anger was always righteous.   God’s only judgments came only after a chance at redemption was rejected. There are limits to mercy … but perhaps no limits to love?

I am praying for my children, especially my soon-to-be Senior, that their hearts will be full of love – of truth – and of mercy.

Micah 6:8 has been resonating with me a lot lately as I think about how quickly my time with my children is passing:

 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

There is so much to be joyful and thankful and look forward to when you know Jesus … despite the ugliness of this world and the struggles of trying to keep up with an American Christianity … yet God gives each of us exactly what we need.  He gives us the opportunity to learn, to teach, and to chose.

I want to see HIM clearly – understand Him more – and trust Him always!  And I pray my children – no matter what circumstances they face – will do the same.

blog-sig_thumb.png

Posted in Family, Love, school, summer | Leave a comment

Conquering Fear!

Given my recent eye-opening revelation that I might be a victim of FEAR (silly fear, unfounded fear, selfish fear of things like failure, the unknown, what others think of me, the future, etc), I once again was given a reminder to NOT fear!

And so I post it here, now to remind myself that God will sustain me!

20150430-Larson-CastCares

 

Enough with the Fear.  (<<article from incourage.me)

blog-sig.png

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day in Perspective

Well, I’m trying to make my peace with Mother’s Day.

3ce495fb55bee4508a8a172e8b3926a0 (1)

I am trying to maintain the peace between God and me.

And overall, I’m just trying to take things a day at a time.

I was recently told “I’m glad I’m not you!” after one of those days … which my co-workers look forward to hearing because I can generally tell about things in a (what-I-hope-is) humorous way.  So, last Friday, we not only had the a/c unit at our house replaced, but we also had a plumber there … and the landlord had offered to call an exterminator!   When things “go” in our family, they usually go one after the other (like our vehicles taking turns needing repairs) or all at once (like our a/c, kitchen sink, and the ant invasion of Spring 2015 all in one day).

Today I came to work, and one co-worker in particular was grinning because she knew I was spending the weekend with one of my more curmudgeon-y relatives … and she couldn’t wait for my story.  And sure enough, Mother’s Day weekend wasn’t like a blissful relaxing spa vacation with chocolate bon-bons, long baths, or shopping sprees.  In fact, my poor mother-in-law had to plan and cook every meal, and I had to do all the dishes.  (I guess you could say the girls helped, but it was business as usual).  Plus, my husband had the makings of what we were sure was strep-throat.  (confirmed by the doctor today!)

One thing you must know is that my certain-curmudgeon-y relative is a major germ-a-phobe.  He once drive 2 hours to come to our older children’s piano recital, only to find out one of our kids had a low grade fever … and he immediately left, scared of exposure, leaving that child in tears.  True story.

So, my husband spent a good bit of the weekend sleeping on the couch, which I’m sure my rather-curmudgeon-y relative planned to burn … to include all pillows and blankets … to avoid the plague our family is apparently a carrier of.  That always makes us feel good!  ;)

I can’t make this stuff up.

But one thing that gave me some perspective over the weekend was that we actually ended up going to a funeral on Mother’s Day.  So, my father-in-law’s cousin’s mother-in-law lived in the same town that my in-laws live in … and she passed away last week at the age of 85 after a long, sad battle with dementia.  The family decided to bury her on Sunday, Mother’s Day.

BUT you’d think a funeral on Mother’s Day would make one incredibly sad … maybe a little angry about God’s timing.  But this funeral was so very much the opposite.   You might imagine I don’t know these relatives very well, given their long-way-around relationship to me personally … but believe it or not, this woman (who died)’s grandson actually went to Bible college where my parents live, and his dad taught at a Christian school in Missouri in the same association we were a part of once upon a time!  We’ve crossed paths in some interesting ways!

Anyway, this funeral was such a celebration … a celebration of a wonderful mother.  A celebration that this mother is rejoicing in Heaven!  The testimonies that were given and the eulogy and the songs all glorified this mother in a way that in the end truly it was God that was glorified.

Of course, one gets a little nostalgic at funerals (or at least I do).  And I wondered, if I died what would my children say about me?  What would my legacy be?

Would my legacy be that I tried hard but was never quite satisfied?  That I felt sorry for myself a lot?  That I resented stopping my work to serve another?  That I was always “tired,” or if I wasn’t tired, I wanted to be alone?  All those thoughts made me a little sad.

But I know 2 things for sure:  1.  that I’m awfully hard on myself and while the above may be true often, it does not define my heart or my motives or my love for my family and others and 2.  there is still time for me to learn and accept and change and be who God wants me to be within the realms of my own limitations and strengths which aren’t necessarily those of a more out-going, naturally more people-oriented woman.

And so, I’m glad I’m me.  I’m glad that I live my life – despite financial crunches and set-backs and broken down cars (and a/c’s and sinks … and ant invasions) and despite relatives who set me a little on edge and children who require a lot of attention and strep throat that shows up at unexpected times and unmet expectations.  This is where God wants me … in the midst of trouble and often, more often than not, in the midst of GOOD THINGS and BLESSINGS and PROVISION and LAUGHTER and HUGS and unexpected kindness from my family, friends, and even strangers.

And that’s good because I’m sure you’re glad you’re not me either!  :)

blog-sig.png

 

Posted in Family, Mother's Day | 2 Comments

This One’s for ME

Yet again, as I contemplate the things I want to embrace about myself, I come across something that catches my eye!

This article is for ME …

and probably not for you if you’re surrounded by people you’ve known all your life or

you’re close to your extended family or

you make friends easily or

your parent has never left your family or

you don’t ever feel lonely in a crowd or

you’ve never met a stranger or

you have never had to move all over creation over and over again.

But perhaps it may help you understand people like ME.

And just perhaps … there is a small element of EVERY ONE OF US in this article?!

Please be a friend who breaks down walls …

20150430-Playforth-SpringBlossoms

Letting Friends Break Down Your Walls

blog-sig.png

Posted in friendship | Leave a comment

The Goings-Ons Around These Parts

As we continue to wind down the school year, the activities keep a’comin':

MiMi’s little class had its 100 Days of School celebration this week (she only goes to school 3 mornings a week so her whole school year is just about 105 school days total):

11163200_10205199082591110_5631009180053034062_n

Miss MiMi sits at the “red table” … sadly, they’ve lost 2 table-mates over the course of the year, so it’s just her and a BOY.  But she’s okay with that overall … even though he’s one of the “naughty ones” according to her daily reports!  Her teacher actually told me that she leaves MiMi there to be a good example.  I guess I can be thankful for that!

Annie-Belle participated in our school’s Talent Show fund-raiser on Monday night by offering 2 comedic monologues.  She’s so amazingly comfortable on stage!  Where DID she get that??  Certainly NOT from me nor her dad…. but I’m thankful she has found a niche for herself!

11193335_10205585165900935_6001142329401664551_n

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today – for fun – it’s a slow, rainy day at work, I took a little “character” test.  What’s my most dominant emotion?  I was not really too surprised to get my results (although I’m sure they are very generalized):

I’ll be honest, I was afraid my dominant emotion might be anger … but ironically it was FEAR!  :-O

You sometimes tend to be driven by fear – The fear of failure, the fear of ‘what if’, the fear of what others will say. You should try to ignore these thoughts and do something completely because you WANT to, without worrying about the consequences. Start small but aim high, and most importantly – leave your fears behind you.

Perhaps there is SOME truth to that result, though as a Christian, I know I have to approach fear in somewhat of a different light than a secular suggestion might advise me.

So, instead of forever trying to pursue JOY and CONTENTMENT as I have to do daily (if I am in the right frame of mind!), perhaps I should focus for a while on letting go of my fears.  It IS true that I fear failure, it is true that I go through all “what if” scenarios about EVERYTHING, and it is true that I fear what people might think of me.  It isn’t that I want to cease CARING … I just want to cease trying to please everyone and control everything.

And THAT is what’s going on around here.

HAPPY MOTHER’S Day.  As I’ve said before – it’s not my favorite holiday as I feel like I’m not a worthy woman and mother to be celebrated … but I do know GOD gave me 3 children, undeserved and unexpected … and I am THANKFUL He trusted me.

I get to share the day with my mother-in-law.  I guess sometimes I’m sad that I never get to see my own mom on holidays, especially not since we moved here.  But God knows.

I also read an interesting article today that might help me embrace my mother-in-law better.  She is a sweet, godly woman, and I know I need to not take her for granted.

from:  https://www.facebook.com/Prov31Ministries?fref=nf

The truth? I am not what my mother-in-law prayed for. She would have been happy with Mary or Martha as a wife for her godly son. Instead, she got Rahab. That is to say, a former bad girl, slightly tattered around the edges, continually grateful for God’s grace.

Because I lost my own mother to emphysema in my twenties, the idea of getting to know my husband’s mother was both thrilling and intimidating. Given time, I hoped we might become mother-daughter close. But as each year went by, I became less certain of my place in her heart.
Then I became a mother-in-law. Oh.

I quickly began making amends with Mary Lee, finally understanding the one thing she needed from me — unconditional love, expressed in as many ways as possible. Because of God’s kindness (and her patience), our last five years together were sweeter than all the years that came before them combined.

If you have a mother-in-law, it’s never too late to strengthen or rebuild your one-of-a-kind relationship. Which of these practical ideas might work best for you?

Praise her good points.
Just as you may wonder if she likes you, your mother-in-law may think you don’t like her. So, “Honor her for all that her hands have done … ” (Proverbs 31:31a, NIV), praise her every chance you get and help put her unspoken fears to rest.

Be all in.
In Scripture, Ruth’s pledge to stick faithfully by her mother-in-law Naomi, whatever their future might hold, sets a high bar for us all: “… Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay” (Ruth 1:16b, NIV). If necessity required it, could you welcome your mother-in-law into your home? Or willingly live under her roof? Does she know that?

Give thanks.
Show your gratitude for the woman who raised the man you love. She wasn’t a perfect mother, but she was his mother. Still is. Always will be. Even after she’s gone, honor her memory and be grateful for everything she did and was. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).

As relationships go, this one can be complicated, which means it also has the potential to go deep and wide. Open your heart, my friend. Let her in.
Liz Curtis Higgs

blog-sig_thumb.png

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Weekend Catch-Up

We are officially hitting that “end-of-the-school year crazy” when all the field trips, field day, concerts, and other things happen right before school lets out for the summer (on May 22 – HALLELUJAH!)

Last Friday, 7th-12th graders went to a school family’s house and had an annual Field Day.  They played goofy games and had races and tug-of-wars and ate pizza and sat around and talked with friends (so I’m told … I wasn’t there – these pictures are courtesy of another parent/teacher).

I’m thankful my kids have a good school!  And this school year has been easier as they are no longer “the new kids,” and they are finding their place.

11119301_10205567975151177_3853832721891541096_n

Annie-Belle is finally bonding with a friend who “gets” her.  They’ve been spending more time together recently.

11174939_840935749275169_558129403179474061_n

While no school is perfect – and this one is quite a bit different than the one we left behind – I am thankful that my kids are surrounded by teachers who care about them – academically AND spiritually – and friends whose parents, like us, believe in Christian education.

 

11173411_10205567691904096_8950360434283345110_n

 

Drew stays busy working … he doesn’t have much time for a social life, and he just prefers to be friends with everyone rather than stick to one particular “best” friend.  I can’t believe he will be SENIOR next school year … He just took the ACT for the first time, and we are going to have seriously start talking about COLLEGE and the future soon.

11055312_10205567648303006_8526756725262833748_n

(that’s Drew on the left)

Last Thursday evening, the high school had its choir concert.  It’s always an entertaining evening …

 

11163744_10205567516939722_4997601993584618452_n

Drew surprised us all by singing a SOLO!  The boy who was originally supposed to sing chickened out (aka his “voice was going out”) … and so Drew stepped up and offered to sing.  He sang a verse of “Amazing Grace.”  (I have it on youtube, if anyone cares to hear!)

 

11218536_10205567472858620_327859407510320654_n

 

In my own little world, I’m trying to figure out how to “launch my business” with Mary & Martha … and am learning some lessons about myself in the process.  I am learning about my expectations, my reality, and who I am.  More and more, I’m realizing I’ve had this “picture” in my head of who I am “supposed to be” … but that isn’t ME.  It is a forced version of who I think I should be.

How does all this relate to my business??  Well, if you recall, I’ve had a hard time entering the church social scene here … and after talking to my husband and my mother, I have given myself permission to QUIT TRYING SO HARD!  And just be me.

If I feel “led” to approach someone, then I will … and if I don’t, then I will continue on my quiet way … and I will be content and most of all, NOT FEEL GUILTY that I’m not that gregarious, out-going person I think I’m supposed to be.  Even if that means I am not labeled “a godly woman” or if my business stays small and personal forever.

Success and popularity have such twisted definitions in this world where people who do great things or have corporate victories are rewarded and held up as examples.  As Christians, we can just “do our thing” – whatever God called us to do – and it only matters what HE knows about us.  Granted, we are all human and want to be appreciated or acknowledged (at least I do!) … but that comes sometimes very quietly too – from those who know us best and love us the most.

20150502_093821

So, I bravely held my Open House today – that I (quite honestly) half-heartedly invited a few ladies from my church to – and my faithful friend (and babysitter) was the only one who came.  And you know what??  I’m perfectly okay with that.  We were able to talk – and we were able to find that we are in somewhat of the same situation in regard to the church we both attend (she, longer than me).  Finally, I found that someone who said, “Me too!”

And I accomplished one of the goals of my business and that is to connect with friends.  Who knows if the second goal will ever happen:  to become more financially free … but there is no limit to what God can do!

20150502_101054

So, God gives us what we need.  Dreams and goals and hopes and plans are good – to a point – as long as you realize if God isn’t in it, it isn’t going to work out no matter how hard we try.  And thus, I let go again today, and am just letting God do His will in me.  He has always worked things out for the best for me anyway …

blog-sig_thumb.png

 

Posted in Annie-Belle, Christian Education, coupons, Drew, Mary & Martha | 1 Comment