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!!  :)

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Posted in NW Arkansas, Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

End of Another School Year

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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Mother’s Day in Perspective

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

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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!  :)

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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 …

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Letting Friends Break Down Your Walls

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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):

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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!

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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

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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.

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

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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.

 

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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.

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(that’s Drew on the left)

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

 

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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!)

 

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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.

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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!

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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 …

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

“Really, I’m Fine”

I have neglected blog reading for a while just due to LACK OF TIME …

So, today I finally had a chance to catch up on some reading and came across this article:

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No, Really, I’m Fine

Wow … a lot of that I could have written too – in fact, I did somewhat write that on Thursday night after my failed attempt to connect with some ladies from my church … I see myself in the broken relationships, lack of wanting to trust, and the isolation-ism!!

Some quotes that resonated with me:

Here’s how Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend describe isolation in their book Safe People:

“Typically, people who [learn to do without friendship] don’t make a big fuss about things. They get their lives in order. They bury themselves in work, service, or other worthwhile venues. And they try not to think about what they’re doing without.

The disconnected part of the soul isn’t a very rude or demanding entity. It tends to die quietly, gradually withering away like a starving infant. After a period of time, you may no longer even be able to feel the pain of isolation. At that point, less pain but more damage is occurring.”

~ and ~

I became a woman with her face pressed to the glass, peering in through social media. I desperately wanted to connect but couldn’t find the courage. The Bible calls this broken-heartedness.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” {Psalm 34:18}

~ * ~

And this ending:

Are you the mom who has “had it” with people? Like me, with your face pressed to the glass? Have you resolved to live in isolation because it feels safe? If so, I trust God will comfort you, the way He has comforted me, and meet you where you are now. I hope you will find the strength and courage to teach your children that life is richer when we share it with others.

~ * ~

I am cautiously hopeful that my new business with Mary & Martha won’t just be another way I can keep busy and cover my isolation … but perhaps become an outlet where I too can learn that “life is richer when we share it with others.”

Thank you to all my friends here on my little bloggy corner of the world who do just that:  share life with me!

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Posted in church, Mary & Martha, Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

Raw. No Filter.

PREFACE:

I just wrote this post tonight to vent my feelings – without a lot of editing … Feelings, which are swirling around in my brain and beg to be written down & sorted out.  This is a true story … and I don’t really need sympathy.  I’m just making a point … and yes, we probably need to find a new church soon (it may make sense after you read this?), but we are somewhat obligated to stay right now.  While life is mostly blessed and okay here in the Arkansas, some nights, it just isn’t.  Just for a little while …

And in CONCLUSION:  God is always kind … after I left the meeting tonight, a friend called me – a far-away friend, someone from my past – and she was having a bad day, too.  And so, we mutually cheered each other up.  See, there is a happy ending!

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Usually I’m pretty proud of being independent.  I was expertly making my way through international airports at age 13, as soon as they’d let me fly from America to Frankfurt without a stewardess assigned to me for my yearly summer trips across the Atlantic to see my German grandparents.  I’ve planned out trips, coordinated bus and train schedules, and managed money at an early age.  I went to college at age 17, and when I turned 18, my parents moved an ocean away from me.  And that was the last time I ever lived near them.

When I got married, we moved 3,000 miles from “home” … just about as far as you could get – to the other ocean, the Pacific!  And we moved a lot after that, always an exciting adventure.  It was sometimes hard to explain where I was from because we’d moved several times while I was growing up as well.  But I made friends who also weren’t really sure where they were from either … and I met people who had half and step siblings just like me!  And I met those who knew exactly where they haled and who came from intact families … but really, that didn’t even matter.

While we were in the military, our friends often became our family and were the ones we relied on.  After all, we were in the same boat – far from home, no one else to call in the middle of a crisis, the new kid on the block.

And I was okay with that too.  Usually.

Then I had kids … and my kids had no close grandparents or family to spoil them, to babysit so we could go away, or to give us a break when we were sick.  Again, often friends would step in and do that for us.  We always managed.

Even now, I rarely ask for help, and when I do, I really hate it and preface my request with all kinds of excuses for the person I’m asking to have an out from the obligation.

I was strong … I am strong!  I’ve moved entire households across town with just my minivan and my teenage son.  I’ve coordinated more trips and address changes and vehicle repairs and school meetings and family calendars … without any help.  I can do it.

But sometimes … especially now a days … I just want my mom.  I want someone to talk to who KNOWS ME, who knows my past, and who is interested in what is going on in my life.

Sure, I have a caring husband and I have 3 great kids … but sometimes, I’ll admit, I am lonely.

We left a lot behind when we moved to Arkansas almost 2 years ago … and I’ve rehashed it and grieved over the loss and came to grips with it … several times over.  But now I realize I have very few local, real-life friends, ironically at the crux of beginning a home business that focuses on FRIENDS and HOSPITALITY.

And maybe, I don’t even know how to make friends any more.  I don’t trust just anyone with my stories and my heart.

And ironically, right now, no one (local) cares about my stories and my heart … seemingly.  Perhaps I’ve pushed people away … or perhaps the few people I have met here actually don’t need me.  They have all grown up together, one big happy family.

Really, I think they just never had to go away and be “the new kid,” and they always had family close by to help them through any situation they were going through.  The kids they went to high school with are the friends they are raising their children to be friends with.

I don’t think they know what to do with me.  I have no history with them … I am the great unknown as well.

Tonight – for the first time – I went to a church ladies’ meeting… and I prayed that I’d be able to get past my fears and to open up my heart just a crack.   And I tried!  I really did.

I said “hi” and smiled at everyone who dared make eye contact with me when I came in the room.  I made polite conversation about the food spread on the buffet, and when I didn’t find someone to chat with there, I moved into the kitchen to ask to help.  But they were busy – in a familiar pattern of preparing food that only people have who have worked together for many years have.  I stood in the corner and observed – as introverts tend to do – but I tried to fix a pleasant look on my face.  I said “hello” to those who walked by me.  I tilted my head toward the group that was engaged in conversation right by me.

And I wilted just a little.  I felt a little awkward after a while of standing alone, so I moved into another room, but there was nowhere to sit and no one motioned me over to talk to them or sit by them.  I didn’t really know what to do with myself … this “ladies meeting”, I suppose was just a gathering of friends, old friends.  And so, I left.

That’s right.  I left.  I picked up my purse and walked down the foyer and out the front door.  And I don’t think anyone even noticed.

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Let this be a lesson for me … always talk to the “new girl” – seek out the wall hugger – make room for someone who seems out of place.  No matter if you have known them since kindergarten or have never seen them before.  (Believe me, I would have done this tonight, if I wasn’t the only one!)

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Posted in church, every day life | 13 Comments

When Opportunity Knocks …

… ANSWER THE DOOR!

I have shared the lovely items that my bloggy friend Rebecca has given me over the last few months, starting with the LOVELY house-warming gifts when we moved in July:

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The wrought iron wall art (hung with special – and inexpensive – brick hangers from Lowe’s) and the 2 candle pillars are products from Mary & Martha.

I’ve used them during Christmas …

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and now the Easter/Spring season:

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I also enjoy my Mary & Martha coffee mug that I won (from Rebecca’s website)

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and I have sampled Mary & Martha coffee.

Mary & Martha coffee is premium, fresh and has an incredible story. Our partners, a missionary family, moved to Honduras with a passion to help farmers grow profitable businesses and invest in them spiritually.

ANYWAY, I never dreamed *I’d* run my own home business, let alone in direct sales … I mean, HELLO??!?!?!  Do you know ME?  Introvert extraordinaire!   Anti-social!  Not trusting of strangers!  Not big on wanting to make friends right now!

BUT I am realizing, I *need to* make friends –  Realizing I have no outlet for myself right now –  Realizing I will never be able to have a ministry or do anything of value if I just spend all my time alone or with my family –  Realizing my reclusive-ness is a poor testimony for my children.

Suddenly, an opportunity DROPPED INTO MY LAP … a no-risk gift to participate in something outside myself.  I can’t share the details, but it was something I couldn’t refuse … and really, something that was offered to me BY GOD through a person listening to His voice.  (Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it … and at the time, it really was … it got me all teary!!)

And so, as of yesterday, I am an independent consultant for Mary & Martha!

I have already set up my website … and a facebook page.  Check them out if you’re curious what this is all about.  “LIKE” my facebook page to stay informed.

I promise my blog won’t turn into a MARY & MARTHA promoting site!  Although, when I have give-aways or the monthly specials are just too good to NOT share, I will definitely pass them along here.

For now, I just wanted to SHARE this gift I’ve been given (an opportunity to have a HOME BUSINESS and to get a hold of MORE of the products that I really like!!  And to share those with my friends).  I am taking this as a gift from the Lord … an opportunity He gave me that I can share.

I do welcome you to look at the catalog online because it is just FUN to look at!

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Posted in decorating, entertainment, home, Mary & Martha | 2 Comments