Tuesday, December 28, 2010

preparing for 2011

As the Christmas celebrations come to an end and the New Years planning begins, i have a few things on my mind.  I love the New Year because it is a time to share and plan for the future. It is a time where we all set goals and try to attain them.  I love that.  There is nothing better than setting goals for ourselves. With out goals, what would we be reaching for?  As i am getting older and more methodical, i find that goal setting is a big part of my life.  I learned it from a dear friend of mine  If you set a goal, it is exciting to accomplish it. It can be something as simple as getting the dishes done or as difficult as putting money away or making great spiritual change.  I love it!  As i plan for my goals this year, i reminisce on the past year.  I have come into contact with so many people and so many strong opinions this season. And i have realized that it is great to have an opinion and to be passionate about it. But you can hurt your own cause by the way you go about expressing your opinion.  I sit and watch people passionately defend their feelings. But as i watch i see many errors.  I see such hypocrisy.  Defending one thing as you tear down another?  Overpowering the conversations with your own thoughts with out letting any one else say theirs?  It just seems to hurt their cause. Who values the opinion of someone who disrespects yours?

As i grow older and i hope wiser (i hope) i wonder why people feel the need to push their opinions and feelings on others anyway.  Why do we try to change others thought with our words?  I have been impacted so much deeper with the quiet spirits. The meek person. Humility.  Those are the things that i want to embrace this year. I want to learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak.  It may sound easy to some of you, but to me...its extremely hard. I usually want to be quick to speak and I'd listen, depending on who was talking. 

This year, i want to show Christ's love though my actions.  And my tongue.  I want to speak volumes with out saying a word.

 I have learned, through alot of mental evaluating and pondering, that one thing that matters is the fact that we know we are of worth in Gods eyes.  Its sounds simple, but really take it in.  There have been so many different issues that i have faced this year and challenges that i have met... and failed.  I let my "flesh" get the better half of me. I cared about what someone thought of me. I was upset when i was interpreted wrong. I was angry about misconceptions. I couldn't grasp why someone would aim to hurt. But through evaluating what the real issues were for me, i realized that if i can just know that i am valuable in Gods eyes and that i am making choices to please and honor him...well, that is good enough for me.  If it is interpreted that i am weaker, I am okay with that.  I am choosing to honor God, and by doing this i have finally overcome some struggles. People can think what they want and interpret my actions however they please, but if I know in my heart that my motives are pure and honoring to God. Well, than i have won. I have pleased the one who truly counts. And that gets me excited.  It doesn't mean that i have anything figured out or that i am one step ahead or behind, it just means that, to me, i am learning. And i really like to learn. Especially when my teacher is the Alpha and Omega...He's kind of a big deal! :)

So, as we make our resolutions this year to eat healthier, and to work out more, lets not forget to maintain a healthy inside too.  Lets train our minds and hearts to be strong and healthy. Lets strive for spiritual growth. Lets fill our lives with things of substance.  Lets love our neighbors. Lets love our enemy. Lets give glory to God. Lets pray for those who persecute us. Lets not become weary in doing good.
In John 14:29 Jesus tells us that "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings..." And I happen to think rules were made to be followed, soooo i like that verse:)

Here's to doing our causes justice through love this year... 
2 John 4:16 "God is love."

Bring on 2011, i am ready.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How is your day going?

After a difficult night getting the kids to bed, i was up bright and early this morning with big plans of finishing my Christmas cookies. Ruby got off to school and the little ones were anxious to get into the forbidden box of Christmas ornaments. Jeromy put the tree up while i was out last night and now we are ready to decorate it. I warn the kids not to dig in the box until i can help. Wouldn't you know that the minute that i run downstairs, i hear a crash.  Seriously? I think. Not even a minute after i warned them? I run back up to see a few very special ornaments that my brother gave Ruby as a baby, broken. I can feel the steam coming out of my ears. Laney instantly tells me that "ju ju did it!" I warn them NOT to do it again and try my hardest to keep my composure.  "Please don't do it with out Momma, okay?"  Sure. They were right on board with that. Anything to get out of a spanking.

By 11:40, Ruby got home and we start to tackle the tree. As we are unwrapping each ornament I thoughtfully tell the kids who gave what ornament to whom. The kids seem more anxious in digging than they are about listening to my wonderful stories.  No one can find the hooks. The tree won't hold the ornaments on it. I am getting annoyed that they are unwrapping, but not helping. And i decide that no matter how much a tree with short needles costs next year, we are getting one.
Finally, we get it all decorated.  I specifically tried to have fun with them and not to expect perfection. Hey, they are just excited right? This is what the season is all about, making memories and remembering old.   After a few more threats about leaving the tree alone and trying to teach them not EVERYTHING is at their disposal. Some things we just look at. I finish up these muffin things and we are on our way.  After about another hour, Ruby tells me she is so hungry. I realize we were so busy with the tree and cooking (and sampling) that we skipped lunch.  Its about 2 o'clock so i say lets get a burger.  I have a $10 bill burning a hole in my pocket and it gives me a few minutes of a "break" in the car while everyone is buckled in. I started the car and realized we needed gas, bad.  Thankfully, i have a giftcard. Which is awesome, cause that about all we have. I get the kids all loaded and grab the card and head off.  Relaxation, here i come. Nope. I realized just before i got the the station that i forgot my purse in the entryway. Argh. I quickly check my pockets and find that i put my gift card in my pocket. Hey, i forgot my purse and coat, but i remembered the giftcard and kids. I've had worse.
As i pull into the station, i start to fill up and look through the center council in hopes of finding  the check book. I swear that is where it is.  Its not the one i want, its an old one with a big scribble pen mark through it (thank you Ruby) but it will do. I see Kandi is working at the DQ and change my plans to get a burger there then i can explain the lame check and all will be okay.  We are still sitting pretty. We can do this.
After the tank is full i run inside.  As i hand the cashier the card she looks at it and says "Umm, this is for Super America and you are at Holiday!" Nooooooooooooooo!!  Are you kidding me? My brain scrambled for an idea and i remembered that i have that check in the car.  I ask if I can use an old check and she says sure. But she looked at the other worker. The minute she did that, i felt like a dirtball. I knew they weren't sure about me. I was a total mess. I had my unwashed hair, ghetto sun glasses, huge sweatshirt and pants half way tucked into somes big ol' pink uggs (with a rose on the back). They stop me and ask if i have used a check here before.  I say i am sure that i have. Then i throw in a smile and tuck my hair neatly behind my ears. You know, just for good measure.  "Well, you'll need your license." Uhhh, thats the problem i scream inside my head. I have NO purse.!! Just then it dawns on me that i had to use my license to get into the jail the night before to visit someone. Yes! I have the same jeans on. "I DO have my license!" I say a little too over the top. They just look at me and say okay then. I run to the car and get my check. As they are asking me a few security questions i am talking and talking about what a mental case i was and how sorry i am. They didn't seem to care about how i got here. Okay. whatever.
As we head home the kids start crying because they are soo hungry now and really want a burger. Ruby is talking about how much her stomach hurts while Laney grabs this big calculator (yes, that is what she brought to play with) and throws it at Ruby and hits her right in the head!! Argh. NO WAY!!!  Seriously, what is wrong with us?  Before we can get home Junior falls asleep and i promise the kids that we will grab my 10 dollars and turn around.  I ran into the house grabbed my stuff and headed back down 65.  All I wanted today was a special coffee. But that is in Cambridge and we need to go somewhere close. We head back to DQ and get a few burgers and head home. I am happy to get food in the kids stomach, even if its not the healthiest. What a bad mom, i think. We get home and i wake up june and head in the house. Well, to my surprise i find that stinkin' Christmas tree has tipped over and is now laying on my couch!!! Are you kidding me??!!!  Where did the fresh sugar water that i put into the stand go? I don't even want to know. I run downstairs to grab something to clean it up and what do you know?  I hear a crash. Laney broke an old home made ornament that i got from my sister in law. Are you kidding me? I grabbed her and gave her a spank. My mind was whirling.  I was somewhere between breaking down screaming, or silently jumping off the roof!!!
Seriously, i wonder if everyone has days like this. I tell ya, my kids are giving me a run for my money these days and i am NOT winning. Ages 5, 3 and 2 are starting to be the hardest ones that we have faced.
So, as i exhale loudly downstairs, my tree is still tipped over, the kids are playing, i haven't showered and i Don't. Even. Care.
What a day, what a day. To all of you mothers that have kids that obey, trees that stay standing. and purses that have money... I am jealous. :)  You keep doing what you do, and i will keep wondering why i can't quite keep up...
Happy cleaning to you all! I am going to go and embrace my place in this crazy house and hope to have a better evening than I did afternoon... Onward and Upward, friends. Onward and Upward.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Christmas Miracle

I wouldn't normally post two entries in one week, but this story just HAS to be told...

Yesterday Jeromy and i stayed unusually late at church visiting with my parents.  We debated between eating out or just coming home and opted to save the money and come home.  As we pulled up to our house, we noticed a courier van parked in our drive way.  We were both a little shocked. We never are the ones ordering or receiving packages, so needless to say we were excited to see what it was.  As we drove in, a man came around his van holding a Christmas package.  It was a large square box wrapped in pretty Christmas paper. We said our hellos and asked him what this was? Who was is from? As he handed me the gift, he simply said "The North Pole." Shocked, i didn't know how to respond. "Well, thank you!" I said with a smile. The driver just turned and got back in to his van.  As he backed down the driveway, i waited. Hoping to smile and wave to him as he looked back towards us, but he never did. He simply drove away. 

We were all excited and anxious about this mystery gift as we entered the house. Jeromy was on my heels as we walked up the stairs. "Who was this from?" we kept saying. "What is it?"  Once we set it on the couch, we looked more closely. There was no paper, no markings, no card. Nothing on the outside identifying its sender. Hmmmm.  Maybe on the inside?  We unwrapped the package and opened the box. Inside we saw three adorable Dr. Seuss stuffed animals.  For the kids, we assumed. There were even silly bands attached to the tags. Two "treat" silly bands and one "tanks" 100% perfect for our kids. The kids went bananas opening the bracelets and hugging the toys. They were oblivious to the mystery that was unfolding in our minds. Jeromy and i looked at each other, shocked. "Who was this from?" we repeated.  Under the stuffed animals, was a book. 'Theres a wocket in my pocket' by Dr. Seuss. But still, no markings identifying the sender.  Confusion slowly stirred as we noticed a a small typed word sticking out of the book. "READ ME"  What? What is going on? I felt like i fell through the rabbit hole and i would soon be drinking potion to make myslef smaller. Who. Did. This?

Curiously, Jeromy and i obeyed the command and picked up that book and started to read it.  Before we could even get to the pages, we found another sheet of paper. This time larger and with more typing on it. "When life gets rough, and hope seems gone, Know that you are loved and you are not alone. Merry Christmas"   Who? we both though silently.  Who sent this? Taped to that note was a gift card. No, not just one gift card, 4. As we flipped through them, we seemed to be in shock. Who? We never once even thought to look at the dollar amount until we got to the last gift card. The amount stirred instant emotion. As my eyes filled with tears my heart and spirit were overwhlemed and overflowing with gratitude... Who? Why us? How?
I told Jeromy to look at the amount on the gift card and we both stood there. Shocked. Completely shocked. The feelings flooded us instantaneously. Gratitude. Awe. Thankfulness. Wonder. Humility.  I knew this present was a gift straight from God. Given by a person, but sent from God.  We gathered together with the kids and their toys and prayed. We thanked God for this amazing gift. We asked God to bless the anonymous giver beyond measure. We prayed for wisdom to use this wisely. We thanked God. Again and again. We thanked God. Silently i was praying my own prayer to God Why? Thank you. But why? You know i will follow you regardless. Thank you. I recognize that its from you. Thank you.

Slowly Jeromy and i felt the whole weight of this gift. This gift was inhuman. This act of kindness was unheard of. And to do it anonymously? Who? Who would give so generously and ask for nothing in return? I felt like i needed to get to the bottom of this. I needed this person to know the enormity of gratitude that we felt. I had to tell them. How could we just accept something this grand. Why couldn't we bless them right back with our heartfelt and overwhelming thanks. Who? Immediately i called my Mom. Though, i knew in my heart that it wasn't from them. My composure failed me as i started to describe, in detail, the evens that had just taken place. Immediately my mother felt the emotions that i was feeling. Who? She felt overwhelmed with thankfulness for us. Gratitude. She felt the weight of what had just unraveled and couldn't find the words.  Like us, we all felt no words quite did this miraculous act justice.

 After i talked to her i went down the list of people that may have done this. There are only so many people that you can think that would give so generously. And to do it anonymously.  It is simply unheard of. Attempt after attempt failed as we got to the end of our list. Who?  The last resort was to call the courier company back.  As i spoke to the man who answered i said that "i had an anonymous package delivered to my house today...was it from you?" I waited. Nervous. Were we the recipients of a random act of kindness? It couldn't be, how did they know to give us three stuffed animals. And silly bands. This person just has to know us.  The man immediately recognized me. "Ya, arent' you guys up there in East Bethel?" YES!!! Yes we are!  Finally, i was going to know who sent this. I asked him if he could reveal the sender. I felt him smile across the phone. "Sorry, i am bound to secrecy"  "No", i said. "I am just so confused. Please if you could just tell me."  He said that he could contact the sender and let them know that i was confused. Noooooooo. That is NOT what i wanted to tell this giver. My friend. "No, i said, please don't tell them i am confused. But if you would call them, would you please tell them that we are grateful. That this is a phenomenal and life changing thing. And thank you. Would you tell them that?"  The man said he would indeed tell them our feelings. As we said good bye i wished him a good day. He responded "This just made my day ma'am."  I felt his emotions across the line. He was in on it and it was touching his heart too. Who? Jeromy and i sat downstairs, stumped. Who?

We wondered if digging any further would detract from our joy. We didn't want to ruin anything for the anonymous angel. We just needed to tell them thank you. For the next few hours we seemed to float from room to room. Silently thinking. Verbally pondering. Thankfully praying. Who? We felt so unworthy of such generosity. How do you accept something of this magnitude?  Our minds were mush and our emotions were spent. Who? We pondered every idea we could. Be we finally decided to be thankful that the delivery service was going to relay our message. We hoped they would understand the fullness of our gratitude. Our overwhelming thankfulness.  We agreed as a family that this truly was, a Christmas miracle. A miracle. There is no doubt in my mind. As i sit here today, almost 24 hours later, i still feel like maybe I'll wake up and this will all have been a dream. And if i never find out who was the anonymous angel?....I suppose i will have to live with that.  But if that person is reading this, i hope you can feel the enormous weight of our overwhelming gratitude for you kindness. Know that we know we are not worthy of it. We feel the weight of it and will ration and protect every cent of this gift. Know we are thankful. From the depths of our heart, thank you.

And you know what?  If that courier driver drove out of our neighborhood and straight up into heaven...i wouldn't be one bit surprised. Because God was here yesterday. I felt it. His power and presence in undeniable. And for that, i am even more grateful. Thank you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


What a day today has been.  I suppose to you, it may not appear that special, but for me, it has been wonderful.  I started my day out getting Ruby ready for school. We waited at the bus stop together, like always. (which reminded me, i really need to get a winter hat)  I enjoy watching my girl get on the bus each and every day and its so fun to smile and wave at the little nameless faces that i see looking out at me, just hoping for someone to wave back.  Just once, if someone would wave back...:)   It always brings me such joy just taking that ten minutes out of the crazy waffle making, egg scrambling, and juice spilling morning to wait with Ruby. We play 'simon says' with Sydney and just before they get on the bus, i always remind them what my mom used to remind me "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"  I say loudly, as the bus pulls up "Be a light today girls!"  They probably don't even care, but i am hoping that it just sinks into their head and heart and that they subconsciously are lights in our very dark world.

Which brings me to my main point today.  Being a light.  I am always shocked at the craziness that i experience at the stores, on the roads, and in the grocery lines.  People are just so rude. They demand the discount that they were positive they saw, they argue about a misprice, and treat the employee as just that...an employee. Not a person.  Let me tell ya, i am the first to admit that i am always moving when i am in a store. There is no leisurely pace for me.  I don't just wander around and look at things.  I am moving fast with my giraffe like body and i know where i am going and what i need, and what time i need to be back to the car.  Get it? Pretty fast paced.  That being said,  i have always thought it was really important to smile.  I feel very deeply, all the way down into my heart that a smile is a priceless thing.  I like to intentionally look at a person as we walk into a store and just smile at them. I love seeing the moms with the crying babies and purposely meeting their tapped out stare with a smile. A smile.  When the woman in front of me in line at Herbergers yesterday (i was returning a doorbuster pillow that wasn't so much a doorbuster but a head acher) and she had her crabby hand on her hip and her toe was a tappin.  After the hugly pregnant girl rung her up she questioned if everything was on sale. The kind woman said the Clinique item was $25 and never goes on sale.  Well, wouldn't you know that thats not what the crabby lady wanted to hear.  She leaned into her hip and said that the sign said $20, blah blah blah. The woman called down to Clinique to check and they informed her that that sign was for another item.  Squack, squack the women went on about how that sign was so misleading and how mad she was about it. I mean, she was not happy, and it was very obvious. She was going to let this woman have it until something happened.  Well, the employee just informed her that she had marked it down to $20 and continued on. The customer didn't say thanks or seem appreciative, she just went on about that darn sign. I mean, didn't her Mother ever tell her that you get more bees with honey? I was shocked at the audacity of the customer. It was her mistake after all and she couldn't have found a kinder way to make her point?  That's the last that i heard of that conversation as my turn was next with a different cashier.  I was bummed because i had all these nice things that i was going to ask the employee about how far along she was and if she knew what she was having.  I wanted to make her feel special and do a little damage control for the woman who had just left.  But, of course i went to the other worker.  I tried to make small talk, laugh and even throw in a few million dollar smiles. I wanted her to know that i was being sincere and that i wanted her day to be a good one.  That, in turn, made me leave feeling joyful and glad.  I was skipping out of Herbergers while kissing babies, signing autographs and high fiving senior citizens!  Get my drift?  It felt good.  I LOVE doing that. I know how much i appreciate a smile. Unexpected but appreciated.  It just warms my heart to see someone smile at me as we make eye contact. What a gift from God smiles are.  Its like a little glimpse into heaven, i think.  It doesn't take much effort, but it makes a big impact.

So, today i woke up with a renewed spirit. For no particular reason, but i just was choosing to be joyful and i wasn't going to let anything get me down.  And what better way to feel good inside than a donut and coffee, right?  I pumped the kids all up about what a fun little trip it was going to be and how we would all get coffee and it would be great. I even through in a few extra smiles...they don't work so well on the kids, but i try never the less.  We head to Caribou with the $8 in cash. (Still in my pocket from yesterdays trip to Herbergers.)  It was going to be great.  As always, I order my small white mocha and get the kids an oreo cookie snowdrift split in two cups, i am feeling joyful.  I have cash. That in itself is a wonderful thing. Wait one minute,  let me take you back about one hour....this morning when i got up and got Ruby to the bus stop i had on my brown pajama like sweat pants, a plain long sleeved shirt, a greasy pony tail with a hot pink child's headband on, and no makeup.  Not my best look, but whatever.  Well, i was so excited about the joy i was going to find in coffee that i went against my gut and just threw on my purple Polaris coat and shades and away we went.(just wanted to catch you up on the beauty coming through the drive thru) Okay, now back to the drivethru.  As i pull up to the window a guy opens it.  Well, now this kid was so darn cute that it was almost distracting.  So instantly i am regretting the choice of a greasy pony and hot pink headband. Thankful for the sunglasses, i ask him something about this stamp card. Well, he told me it was a sticker card and not stamp and i got all nervous cause i couldn't find it and blah, blah, i said what do i owe you?  Thinking I could stall for time to find my punch (I mean STICKER) card.  Cause hey, if i am buying a coffee, you bet your bottom i want my 6th one free:)  He fumbles a little and says that i don't owe him anything that the car in front of me already paid!  I was shocked. Completely shocked. Almost enough to forget my sloppy appearance, but not quite. I went on rambling about how thankful i was and how this never happens to me and how i know about the drive thru difference and what a kind thing it is to do...

Now, there has been so many times that i had to scrape money together to get a coffee. I know, not because i NEED it, but because it is a fun treat.  But this time, I had the $8 burning a hole in my pocket.  I asked if i could wait for the next car to pull up so i could pay for their drink.  He said sure and i rolled up my window and waited. (well, i fixed my pony tail and waited)  Finally a car pulls up behind me and i can see a couple of heads in there (i was picturing 13).  Well, my brain starts swirling and i am thinking this is going to be the car that is picking up coffee for the office, or the teachers, or for their whole family...panic, a little of panic now...the handsome boy opens the window and tells me the total $4.85. Hallelujah!  I give them a five and drive away, but not before i smile.

I felt on top of the world.  I was thankful to God.  Not like the I almost slipped on ice but didn't kind of thank you Lord. But the heart felt "Thank you God for your many many blessings!"
In that moment i thought, i choose to be joyful today. I wanted to be obedient. I wanted to be a light in this very dark world, and i felt like God blessed me.  I can't explain it, and i know i am dumbing it down, but its how i felt.  Like our God is so amazing. Not just because i felt his love and appreciated that tiny gift.  I feel Gods love when i can't see it. I know he is there when i struggle, even if i can't feel it.  But today i just wanted to say thank you. Thank you God for smiling at me.  It turned an ordinary day into an extraordinary one!!

Smiling. I like to think that its one of the many ways that God shines through us. And what better time of year to share love with others?  Christmas, the busiest time of year. If only we could all take the time to smile instead of fret. Smile instead of argue. Smile instead of yell. Smile instead of frown. Smile. Its the simplest act. And if we busy ourselves trying to do for others instead of thinking they should do for us, what a wonderful world we would live in.  I truly believe we would be happier doing than getting.
That's my story and i'm stickin to it! (Insert wonderfully kind and genuine smile here)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I am thankful for...

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  And one thing that i want to share is my thankfulness for my parents.  I have the BEST parents in the whole wide world.  I know some people look back and remember certain instances that made them mad.  Things they wish they never had to go through.  Frustrations where they think their parents failed them.  But not me.  I honestly can say that i think my parents hung the moon. They were cut from a different (and better) cloth than every other person that i know. They are such example of Christ's love. They are living out their faith each and every day.  They have endured great pain in life and they have risen from it because of their obedience to God.  And that is something worth sharing.

As i raise my kids i want so badly to do it right.  I want to emulate them.  I want my kids to look back on their lives and feel like they had it great.  Not materialistically, but in every other way.  I want to equip them spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially.  And that is alot of pressure.

One thing that i haveworried about is not pressing my kids to be too competitive too soon.  I am competitive.  Always.  But i wonder how my parents did it. They never pushed me to be in sports or ran me ragged, but they taught me how to love them (sports). They showed me how to stand tall, even in weakness.  They taught me how to love the game and love people.  It was about winning and beating the other team, but not disrespecting them.  I may not have liked them on the court (or field) but i enjoyed them as people, off of it. The ref's calls may not have gone our way, but they showed me how to adjust to it and persevere.  I am stronger in every way because of my parents. The may have loved me, but they didn't always agree with my choices. They showed me to value others opinion, even if we disagree.  Never Boo another person.  Ever.
 I want so badly to do that, but how? What is the right amount of pull and push?  My Dad used to go outside and play ball with me in the snow. I would just put on my raggedy gloves and hat and dorky sweat pants and we would play.  I remember getting so frustrated with his hook shot. It was just unbeatable!  And ya know what?  It still is. (only now, his back may go out while he is throwing it)  As i look back i remember playing him and feeling like i was winning. But all he had to do was turn on the heat and remind me that i wasn't.  I don't think I ever got too mad.  But if i did, he probably handled is so perfectly that i don't even remember it being a problem.  All he had to do was put the petal to the metal if he wanted to beat me.  That was, until I got into high school.  It was fun to experience the joy of "playing" as a child and the fun of "competing" as an adult.  It didn't take me too long to give him a real run for his money either.  Eventually I was swinging my hip and boxing him out and shot blocks...ohhh, don't get me started:).  There was no way around this "tower of power" (just let me reminisce, will you) These memories are some of the best in my life.  Basketball was a highlight of my childhood all the way through my adult years. 
I have a picture of me and my Dad that my Mom must have taken one evening as we played.  I have been searching and searching like a mad woman to find that picture this past year.  And thankfully, i finally did.  It may not mean much to you when you look at it, but to me, it sums up a perfect childhood and a perfect example of what i want to be for my kids.  I don't know how my Mom and Dad did it all right, but i am so thankful for them. Words truly can not express the love and admiration that i have for my parents.  So this thanksgiving i am thankful (as always) for them....hook shot and all!

  I hope that this year we can all look at the wonderful things that we do have in life, and if they are people, let them know. What a way to spread joy and hope.  Have a happy and thank-filled Thanksgiving friends!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Less is more

I had quite the weekend.  It started off Friday when i got the opportunity to meet my wonderful friend in Rochester for a 'hearts at home' conference.  I have never been to a conference and never stayed away from the house alone since i had been married.  So, i was feeling excited. I didn't care if i had to watch paint dry (or a dramatic skit) it was worth it to just get away and find refreshment for my mind and spirit and hopefully learn so many wonderful tools to teach and care for my family.
So, here i went...I had the music turned up loud, and i was finishing a left over blizzard. Could life even get any better?  Heres a little inside look at how my mind was working that particular day. As i drove, i prayed 'Please Lord, speak to me this weekend. Quiet my mind so that i can hear you' .....Oh, i love this song....geez, my head is killing, me......Wait? I missed my turn!!....you know, i don't really like technology, we have witnessed such a movement, our lives are just changing so fast....Ooops, sorry. Speak to me Lord, i am here....Man, looking at this GPS sure makes my head hut....What road am I on anyways, i feel like i have been driving forever!....Oooops, i am listening God....NO WAY! Did i just pass an elk farm, or were they dinosaurs!.....Man, nature just freaks me out!.....I have GOT to call my cousin, she'll understand....Whoa, this valley made my ears pop...Lord, can you speak up, cause its loud in here?....I hope i don't hydroplane....no one will ever love my kids like i do.....i better slow down...."Oh Hey Bec, I just say an elk farm and it freaked me out!..." ...Lord, quiet my mind, but just let me make this ONE little phone call...

I am going to assume you got the point!:)  I was having a heck of a time calming my brain.  Its like i finally got a few free moments and i was doing my darndest to fill them up.    Regardless, i got the the hotel and waited a few (50) minutes for my friends to arrive.  We got checked in, soaked from the rain/snow, but we were together. And i was happy.

After dinner we went to the "women's night out" from 7-9.  I was excited. I could even tolerate uncomfortably serious and dramatic skits...i guess.  Well, the night started out with a bang.  The speaker was a comedian.  Now we were talking. She made light of so many trivial mommy moments and problems.  She was able to laugh about life in her minivan, clogged toilets, and dealing with the "mother superiors" of the world.  This was it. She was my kind of girl. I decided that was what i was going to do. I was going to turn my "just keeping my head about the water" lifestyle into the "hey, its life and its funny. And i am going to laugh about it" motto. Nice.  I felt refreshed already. Sure this mom was the crazy one. She didn't have the best stories of obedient kids who loved God and each other, but funny, she was funny. Witty. Quick.  She was what i though i was. Kind of a crappy struggling Mom, but randomly funny.  Right?  Probably not even funny...just keepin my head above water:)  Anywhoo, the night was a success and i felt ready to take on the world. I was going to make a change and it was going to be about embracing my place and really enjoying it instead of always setting goals and wanting more and feeling like i couldn't quite attain them. Which in turn left me feeling like a failure and frustrated. Hey, i was going to embrace my failures and laugh...Cause haahaa, isn't it just so funny to fail when it comes to our kids?  Nope.

The next day we went to the workshops of our choice.  Our first speaker was Susie Larson and she was the kind of speaker that i like to hear.  I am a little skeptical about speakers, because i happen to know of someone who is considered a "speaker" and i don't think very highly of her. Every one can tell their life story, but it takes a leader, wisdom and knowledge to keep my attention.  I was here to learn. I didn't just want to be entertained. So, i was happy to hear how intelligent and godly that she was.  She spoke so beautifully about "growing grateful children" that i was inspired through out it all. She was amazing and she gave me so many tools to take and put into practice at my own house.  She spoke about when disciplining her boys that she never made her child feel like he was bad. He was a child of God who could do amazing things if he would humbly come before God, BUT he was making a poor choice.  Ya see. He was good, but the choice was bad.  I liked that.  I don't know you (the 4 people who will read this, and the one who will secretly read this, but not tell me) but i want so desperately to raise my children to love God and always seek him first. I want them to make choices based on obedience and to be blessed all of their days.  But, in a life that i feel  is passing me by, the days turn into weeks and months and i never get around to doing exactly what i long for.  Leading my example. I can say and teach so much, but its by example that i can really lead.  I push the manners and the apologies at this house.  I am the mom and i am going to teach. You bet its not about just being my kids friend. I am the Mom first and if you don't like it?  That just too bad. I am coming down hard to make you better.  But am i telling them how much God loves them daily?  We certainly pray each day, and we are thankful, but am i teaching them to rely solely on God. Not to worry about money because we are so richly blessed?  Not to be too concerned with appearances because God sees our inner beauty?  This woman gave me encouragement and i was ready to go home and integrate these new teaching to my home. It didn't matter what else I learned from any other teachers. This first class filled me with hope and that is all that i needed. 
Well, the day went on and the snow kept falling.  I had to leave the concert and meet Jeromy and our friends and my stepdaughters at the Target Center for the Toby Mac concert.  I arrived there with no problems and enjoyed the concert. There was a few setbacks and intrusions, but nothing that we couldn't handle.
When i got home that night at midnight, our house had no power! No power since 4 that afternoon. When i walked into our flashlight lit house Laney came running out to me and said "Hi Momma!"  And that's when i realized that i had brought the devil home with me. I turned to her and said "What are you doing up? Go back to your room!"  Poor little Laney turned around and whimpered back to her room. Let me tell you, it was a long, interrupted and uncomfortably quiet night with no power and a head full of yelling.  And so began the slow meltdown of an overtired annoyed mom.  I don't know why. I had a great time. But its like The devil just came home with me and made sure that i didn't put any of my tools to good use.  For the next two days i was swirling and filled with anger to anyone and everyone and for NO real reasons.  I felt it. But i could not shake it.  I looked at Jeromy and said "sorry, but i think the devil is just sitting right here on my shoulder today!"  I am pretty sure that he just silently agreed.  He knew what was good for him:)
Finally after a breaking point mentally,  I hit the bottom. I was annoyed with myself and my own feelings. There were so many elements affecting me that i could not control. I knew that. I had step kids, kids, husbands and even an ex wife wearing on me.  But only I can control myself.  I felt out of control about so many situations.  I was too annoyed at myself to even talk to anyone about the amazing things that i learned at the conference.  Like, as if I could use any of them now. I felt mentally damaged!  But whats new, right?  So, very slowly i hit the ground and looked up.  Figuratively and literally. I KNOW that there is nothing that i can't do with God on my side. I know he loves me.  And even if some situations felt like they would never get better, i knew God was walking right there beside me.   If i could just lay all my troubles on Him, i KNEW that i would be free. Free from the pressures of "measuring up", free from unattainable goals, free from competition in life, free from the heavy burden of sin. It always takes a little bottom hitting for me to really remember what is true, what is righteous, what is noble.  I can attain it.  It just takes the effort of putting one foot in front of the other. And on Monday afternoon i did it. I went back to relying solely on Gods strength, not my own.  Its embarrassing that i can forget that life is so much easier when we give up the reigns.  As I focus each day on spending quite time alone in the word. Writing prayer requests and thanksgiving, i feel renewed.  I know i am delicate. Not physically. But spiritually and mentally.  I have realized that i need to take things one step at at time as a Mom.  I have to consciously make myself aware of becoming overburdened. I have to guard my family and that means by taking care of their needs and gaining the knowledge to do it.  A wonderfully perfect friend told me this. "Less is more"  As if i didn't know that and didn't believe that too. I think we all do, right.  But she is right (she always is)  i am a firm believer in enjoying as much time at home as you do away. Moms today are so busy trying to keep up with the Joneses and insisting their kids do traveling sports and dance and gymnastics and music...just because a child is 3, people think they have to "grow up" and get into the rat race that we live in.  Hey, i could play ball with the best of them, and i didn't have to be in traveling to do it.  My parents never put an emphasis on "play"  we did what we wanted to do and when the season was over...we did the next sport.  We didn't need to "keep up"  Cause, come on, if our kids have it, I believe they have it for good. They aren't going to miss any opportunities in life if they don't make "this"team or practice here.  Bologna.  (Oooops,did i reveal my soapbox?)
Less is more.  That means just because we have free time or a night available doesn't mean we have to fill it with "stuff"   I believe the biggest advantage that we can give our kids is just spending time together as a family. Playing memory for the 995th time, or reading a book, or just being "present"in their life. Not shipping them off to classes and practices or even another church event.  Life is just flying by.  I feel it every day. I actually worry about it.  I don't want it to pass me by. I fear that i will look back and think, "why didn't i just play with them more, or teach them to love better, how come i was so impatient? What made that darn laundry so important?" 

Bottom line, i struggle. I am not going to pretend that i don't. I hate when people do that.  But i also have gained so much through my struggling.  My brain is always whirling, i mean ALWAYS, but in that process, i think of others, outcomes and truth.  I don't want to be stuck in the middle.  I know the truth but i have human emotions too.  I am taking a new step in committing myself and my family solely on Christ. Its not like i didn't do it before, the difference now is that i am doing it very consciously.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Casting Crowns - I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day Live

Peace...on earth?

     What a week. I realized that i have been in a kind of weird head space for the last week and a half.  I felt a little overwhelmed because Jeromy was working late hours and the kid were getting sassy and i was getting impatient. Than this weekend Jeromy was deer hunting and i felt like it was a looong week with out a real break.  Once i sat back and though about why i was feeling so frustrated i realized that the kids were probably feeling the same thing that i was feeling. They missed seeing Jeromy too.  We are a family that is very accustomed to our routine. And we all get thrown off when things start to change.

     This week i was constantly battling the "flesh" vs. the "spirit" in my head. As a Christian, i feel like it is a constant battle to live like Christ.  I want so badly to do it (and for it to be easy), but sometimes i find myself fighting the "flesh".  I suppose some of you don't even know what that means, sorry.  I describe the feelings of the "flesh" as feeling that we feel as mear humans. Things like anger, selfishness, greed, vengeance and hate, unhappiness and trivial troubles of the world.  Things that, in the long run, don't really matter. And they are things that i don't want to waste my time thinking about.  There is so much that we have to be thankful for.  But as many of you know, when you get to feeling the "flesh" its hard to tell yourself that you should be happy because your kids are healthy or that we aren't persecuted by what we believe.  Something that many other cultures and countries deal with on a daily basis.

     Basically this is what my brain was doing this weekend.  As i drove alone in the car (a true rarity) i turned up the music loud...i mean loud.  Cause i think i am still 20 and not driving a mini van.  I have on Adam Lambert, of all things.  Not encouraging music, but a really great beat.  Well, as i listen to him my mind starts to wander and i start to feel a little more independent, and start wanting to put myself first instead of last.  Then i start thinking, i want a gym membership.  I know i can't afford it, but i want it.  Then i could break a sweat and feel healthy and vigorous.  Suddenly i didn't want to just do dishes all day.  Heck, i think i just wasn't cut out for all of this.  Plus, the stresses that my situation bring with it, they aren't things that i deserve to have to deal with, right?  ...WRONG.   That mind set is exactly what makes me so annoyed at our generation. We are taught to be lovers of self, and we demand instant gratification. We are a people so concerned about our own feelings. You bet we remember who hurt us and why it wasn't fail and how no one treats us right, all the while missing opportunities to "do" for others.  If we would just care about others as much as we care about ourselves...what a world we would live in. 

       After listening to more Adam Lambert as i drive this morning to get last minute groceries for my Moms birthday party that we are throwing at our house tonight,  I am feeling a little overwhelmed, and certain that a coffee will make it all better.  I got through Walmart and the bakery (for the kids, yes, the kids needed a donut)  I drove home feeling the same as i had all week. Not really much of anything.  Just a bunch of swirling thoughts in my head.  Well, low and behold, as i searched for my CD's i found the one that i had been SEARCHING for for a few days.  (that's how i came across my old Adam Lambert Cd too)  If i had just kept searching i would have found this one the first time.  Its a CD that my wonderfully perfect brother had burned for me last year.  It was a mix of some Christmas songs.  The first one being my most favorite of all time.  Sam had introduced this song to me last year. He makes CD's for me occasionally and they always are amazing and inspiring.  This was one was nothing short of that.  The song, 'I heard the bells on Christmas Day' by Casting Crowns,just touches my soul, my spirit, it puts me back where i need to be.  I joked about it all last year because there is a line that says "there is no peace on earth I said"  And i would tell him that that song always came to me as i was doing dishes, just out of the blue i would sing, "there is no peace on earth, i said" ...
     Now, here it is a year later that the CD is bringing me back to reality and reminding me of the true beauties in life.  The fruits of the spirit, Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Things that i think i lacked this past week.  It was like a switch went on in my head and i just said "Thank you God, for the reminder of what we are truly called to be!!"  I don't know why it always takes a knock on the head for me to remember my purpose some days, but it does.  I feel so refreshed as i ponder all of the wonderful ways that i can support and show love to others.  Because the truth is, we are just passing through...This life on earth is a short one compared to an eternity that we are going to spend in heaven with our amazing Father.
     My prayer today is, if anyone of you are feeling down, or overwhelmed, or under appreciated, or sad, or selfish, or needy, or any "fleshly" feelings.  I just want to encourage you to think not on these trivial  things, but on our path to righteousness. Because we are promised that  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."   What a wonderful thing! It is when we are at our weakest, that He is at his strongest.    And THAT, is something to get excited about.   So, i am going to crank up the heavenly tunes and enjoy the renewed strength that i feel.  Thankful, that is what i am today.  Not because everything is perfect in my life, or that i don't have struggles.  I am thankful to be thankful.  Just to be reminded in such a peaceful way, that God is my shelter and "I can do everything through him who gives me strength"  (Phil 4:13) I am thankful for my place, not only on this earth, but in heaven!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

confessions of a "stay at home mom"

So, here i sit. At the computer. I know i have things pressing, like making dinner, cleaning up before Jeromy gets home, interacting with the kids.  The list goes on and on, and yet I find myself here.   I am feeling like a bump on a log today.  In fact, the last few days.  Is it the weather?  Is it me?  I am not sure, but i don't like it and can't seem to kick it.  My husband would call it a "funk" but i call it motherhood.

Some days are just hard. Some days are long.  And now with winter fast approaching, the skies are dark by 5 o'clock.  I can feel grumpiness and crabbiness luring me in, but i am doing my best to stand strong against it.  If I give into it now, its going to be a REAL long winter.

As i was driving home from choir last night, i had this thought.  I just want a break from life. (not in the sad depressed kind of way) I just want to get up in the morning and not feel the weight of my responsibility on my shoulders.  I guess what i really want is to be 17 again.  But just for a day...or maybe two:)

I think as a mother we go through so many different stages and they are ones that ONLY another mother can understand.  There should just be a special nod for mothers of multiple young children.  Like a crossed eye, shoulder shrug with your tongue out and slightly to the left. ( I am picturing Kathy Lee Gifford doing her thing. Anyone who watches SNL would understand...its funny, people. Funny.) That would be my choice.  It wouldn't be cool, but it would express alot in a small gesture:)

I am tired of the comments people make to stay at home moms.  Like "oh, what do you do all day."  Or "I sure couldn't do it"  One time my husbands boss actually said to him after hearing him and i talking on the phone, (he could hear that i was mad)  "What does she have to be so mad about. She gets to stay home?!"   I agree that it is a privilege to stay home and i am so thankful that my husband works hard to make that possible, but seriously?  i don't think we stay home just to sleep in all day, watch Oprah, do our nails and take naps!!  Its hard work. We (at least me) don't do it cause its the easiest or we are natural at it. We do it to benefit out kids. I stay home because I want to do everything that i can to support and raise, and be a part of my kids young lives.  Its only 5 years of their life...and then they are gone. 8 hours a day they are in school. Basically being raised by the teachers.  We have to make our time count as Moms.  There is so much responsibility to teach them, SO much.  Sure we are the ones who don't have our nails done, and don't wear the high heals, but that's because we are sacrificing "things" for such a greater good.  Actual parenting! Not part time, put them to bed parenting. The real hard stuff.  The diapers, the drama, the laundry, the dishes, the dinner, the vacuuming  the nap, the unsuccessful nap, the baths, the stories, the changing pee pants in the middle of the night, the "I guess i can go one more day with out a shower" look.  Theres not too many kids that say "thanks for changing my diaper", or "you did a great job with dinner Mom, way to go the extra mile"
I know its the age old argument...  I am not saying we have it any harder than anyone else, i am just saying how about a little respect. Just because we don't bring home a paycheck doesn't mean that we are invaluable.  Or that we don't want to work because we aren't qualified.  We are choosing this road for our kids.  No one else.  I only hope that i can do it even close to right, so that they turn into wonderfully caring , kind, smart and loving human beings.  Because the time is flying by...

So, like my blog title. I am going to embrace my place. I am going to get my butt upstairs and cook dinner with a smile. (it may be fake, but its still a smile)  I am going to struggle through this difficult time because before i know it, life will be at a whole new pace and i will have missed this glorious stage where the kids need me and like me and think i am funny and want to spend time with me and want to snuggle and want to hold my hand and aren't embarrassed of me...yet.

So for all of my amazing stay at home friends ...KEEP PRESSING ON, because you are AWESOME!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What do we have teachers for anyway?

I have been in the process of starting a blog for the last two months. The only problem was, I didn't feel the need to express my feelings that publically...until tonight.  We went to my sweet angels kindergarten conferences this evening.  I was hesitant going in because i was floored at her first preschool conference when the teacher told me that they couldn't even finish testing the the area of letters, because she couldn't recognize any. What??  She coudn't recognize the letters that you pointed at?  Ya, thats because she is 4 and i put her in preschool to LEARN those things.  Its kind of why we decided to pay $120 a month for her pre-school teachings, wasn't it?  So after a rude awakening to the harsh world of school, i braced myself for the kindergarten conferences tonight.  The teacher told us that my daughter "qualified" for extra help...something about recognizing the beginning sounds of words.  I was immediately sick inside. I hurt for my little girl.  Here she was getting tested and tested, but was anyone even teaching her?  After 20 minutes and a few moments of putting my baby on the spot, we left.  I signed a slip, agreeing to have her taken out of the class the last few minutes for some extra help with "reading".   As i sit here tonight, i can not get rid of my frustration with this new society... a society of constantly trying to outdo, overacheive, and be first.  When did a child have to recognize letters at the age of 4??  Why are parents in such a hurry to set their children up for defeat?  If you aren't the youngest child to recognize your capital letters...than what?  Are you already a failure?  I see that as teaching a child "sport" verses "play"  there comes a time to be competative. (believe me, i know) But there also is a time to teach children at their speed and with enthusiasm and joy.  I agree its wonderful to teach our children letters and numbers and sounds at home.  But what is the importance of saying "please" and "thank you"?  When do we teach out children that it is more blessed to give than receive?  Who knows the golden rule before they enter kindergarten?  Those things are important!!  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Where have we lost that teaching?  Has is gone my the wayside along with the pledge of allegiance and Christmas? 
  I left that classrooms uncomfortably small chairs feeling like a failure.  I felt like i let my child down before i even knew i was supposed to be making her better.  If she failed as a "reader" than i definetly failed as a parent, right?
I refuse to give into the game of keeping up with the Jones'.  Yes, i will teach my child how to recognize the beginning of words and yes, her preschool techer was shocked by her increase in knowledge from the first conference to the last.  Thats because I, her mother, took the time to do the teaching.  Not only did my shining star learn the letters and recognize them, she knew how to say them all in sign language...just in case. 
Just in case, what?  She had to compete with another student her age that was learning what the teacher taught. Ya, just to teach her its about winning, not just learning.  What a joke, but i fell for it.  I will not feel like a failure because i have been hugging and loving and protecting my 5 year old all of her life instead of doing the kindergarten teachers job and teaching her states and capitals straight from the womb. 
When is enough enough?  My daughter is beyond amazing, and kind, and smart.  I take comfort in knowing that she shares on the bus and that she gives to the ones who have nothing.  And ya know what, when i asked her the same questions that teacher did tonight in her room...she knew every answer!