Sunday, December 4, 2011

Who Are You Working For?

Recently my husband gave me an attitude adjustment. Or maybe he just suggested that I needed one. I was getting upset about things that were out of my control. When you are a stay at home mom like I was for many years you are pretty much the boss of the house. Sure I still was serving God and consulting with my husband but I was not working with the public at large. Like most people I like things to go my way. Well, things don't always go your way.

My husband asked me a question that on the surface may seem silly to you, but the underlying meaning has changed my life. While venting my frustrations he said I needed to leave work at work and decide at what point on the drive home I switched gears and left it behind. Then he asked me “Who are you working for?” I looked at him funny and then he said, “Do you work for God, the kids, your teacher?” Then without saying it but with a meaningful look I think he was asking me if I worked for myself.

I have to say once I figured out who I am working for I have been so much happier not only at work, which I love, but also just in general. Because you see I work for God. The way I figure it, if I do my job no matter what it is, and it is pleasing in his eyes, I've done my job well. Ultimately He is the one I am seeking to please. My life, while I have been given free will, it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to Him. I am here at this time, on this planet, in this small town because He designed it. He has a plan for me.

Doesn't that blow your mind? You see God has been working on me. I have been working with Him to change the tape that plays in my head. The conclusion that I have realized is that I have listened to the lies for far too long. God sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins and that includes me, even me. If I can get that through my thick skull then I can also believe that because He loves me that much I can trust Him to lead me where He wants me to go. He will never leave me alone. I don't have to trust in myself I only need to trust in Him.

I think everyone can use an attitude adjustment from time to time. I think we get blind to our own blindness. We get caught up in the things of this world. The things that will all fall away once this life is over. So I ask you “Who are YOU working for?” I ask not because I want to know. I want you to know. I want you to figure it out. I want you to decide WHO you are working for so you can be happy, like I am. You see once you stop living and working for yourself and get out of your own head, hand it all over, then you find the truth. Then you are working for the ONE who makes Everything possible. So … who are you working for?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

With Thanksgiving...

This Thanksgiving Day brings with it some reflection.  As I sit and think about Thanksgivings past I think of my mother.  I think of Thanksgivings gone by with a family that no longer is around to get together and I think of all the Thanksgivings I missed.  You see I chose not to attend many family get togethers in order to attend the ones with the family I had married in to.  I think at first I believed that my family wouldn't miss me.  I also truly thought I was going towards a family that was like what I always thought a family should look like.  In my family someone was always drinking, everyone was always smoking, and we all sort of waited to see what my aunt would bring to the table.  She would either bring some guy or she would be using and either yelling at everyone or catatonic.  When I looked at that I saw what I didn't want my children to see.  When I saw the other option I thought that was what they should be.  I was wrong.  Do not get me wrong I still believe that I was right to protect my children from the bad things that came with going to my mother's side of the family but I also protected them from how to handle those situations. 

Far from perfect, they knew how to love each other and they knew how to stand up to one another.  They made very difficult decisions regarding their own over the years.  They tried to get my aunt help and they took her children away from her when it was evident that she would be unable to care for them.  While they still smoked, it was that they would eventually only go outside to smoke at grandma's house because of what it was eventually doing to her.  While ideally they would have quit, they did attempt to do what they were capable of. 

As I sit here reflecting with my mom, my grandma, my two aunts all gone, I am sad for the years I missed.  Not knowing how quickly time runs out and how once those moments are gone they are gone for good.  I think of all the get togethers with my dad's side of the family I have missed.  How I really only see all of them a couple times a year and it makes me sad.  Sad that as adults my cousins and I don't really know each other or our kids very well at all. 

I do not have siblings.  As a child I dreamed of having a big brother and a little sister.  I needed a big brother to stick up for me and a little sister so I could do her hair.  In my imagination we wouldn't fight because we would  be so thankful to have one another.  Because in my house it was me, my mom, a dog, and a man that was not kind, but abusive.  As I watched television and looked at all the family shows I looked at those families and wished to have one of my own.  My father remarried when I was 25 I was given two brothers and a sister.  I was excited by the prospect and for several years tried all I knew to do to make us one big happy family.  I have given up that dream.  You cannot make a family with unwilling participants.  After all they have each other they do not need me. 

I am far from perfect.  I can do nothing on my own.  God has given me a beautiful family.  My husband and I have the family that I always hoped to have.  For that I am thankful. 

This year will be the first that my children and I will get to spend with my father's side of the family.  I am so blessed to get to spend time with them today.  I am sad however, that because of one we will not be spending time with my husband's side.  If I was taught anything by my broken family I was taught to say no.  I was taught that when one's behavior was unacceptable you say it.  And for nothing else I am also thankful that I was taught not to try and place blame on others for my own mistakes.  Your mistakes are your own, ultimately you choose to do what you do, no one makes that decision for you.  You do that all by yourself.  I was also taught you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.  You cannot help those who are unwilling to help themselves.  At some point you have to say while you are making the decision to act this way I am unable to support you.  You are going to have to learn to get by on your own.  And while I am being singled out for not supporting  or getting caught up in others drama, I think maybe no.  No I will not get involved because it is evident to me that they do not know how to stand up to their own and it is not my place to do so. 

I have lived through and seen countless things all drama filled.  But here in my home with these people that God has blessed me with, I am saying no.  I am saying no because we are happy.  We are happy and we are thankful on this day and every other day for the blessings we have received.  We are not perfect.  But we are learning to look past the circus of drama around us and see our blessings, for they are many.  We are healthy, we are loved, and we are serving our God, all the while begging for forgiveness from Him and doing our best to do His will.  My wish for you is that you will be able to do the same. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Christmas List for People Without a List

The annual Christmas shopping trip with our Sunday school class is this week.  I am so excited I'm about to burst.  I love the opportunity to get together with these wonderful women.  Plus it is great to get a jump on shopping for the holidays.   I even had a dream that I had forgotten and went to work.  I was at work when it occurred to me that it was 9:30 a.m. and I wasn't supposed to be there I was supposed to be in a car with my friends.  I woke up so distraught until I realized what day it was.

I put in a post on facebook to tell friends and family that I needed their Christmas lists by Thursday as the first round of shopping was to take place this week.  I informed them that if I didn't have a list I would buy what I thought they needed.  This got all sorts of ideas flowing through my head for gifts I could give people that they may or may not want.  So I thought I would share some ideas that may be good and may be bad with you.

1.  I could order M&M's in Christmas colors with the person's name on them and make a collage of their face on cardboard.  Who doesn't love a homemade gift?

2.  I could have a star named for them.  Sure to my knowledge none of them have a telescope to find the star in the night sky but they would have a cool piece of paper to frame with where to find said star. 

3.  I could buy nail polish in various colors and make a chart for which color to wear for each of their moods.  Pink for perky, blue for sad or blue, black for mad, red for feisty, that way the general public would know what they were dealing with.  They could pass out pocket charts for their friends and family.

4.  I could get them a notepad so they could write the script for what they want people to say to them.  That way they always hear what they want instead of the truth or in some cases what they think they hear.  They make out the script for the conversations they want to have.  Give a copy to the person they are having the conversation with and everyone walks away without getting mad.  (You know people like this, right?)

5.  I could make a donation to a worthy cause in your name.  (I love this for the person who has everything)

6.  I could buy days of the week underwear.  That way you are sure to never wear the same pair twice in a row.  (This is especially good for kids. Plus they learn the days of the week and how to read them.)

7.  I could get you frog socks.  Not just any frog socks but I might find them that make your legs look like frog legs.

8.  I could could pull what my kids sometimes do to me.  I could get you what I want then ask to borrow it, then just take over said item leaving me with just what I wanted and you with nothing.

9.  I could buy you cleaning items.  Laundry soap, dusting supplies, dish soap, etc.  Because what everyone wants are things they can actually use right?  Or (this is where a script comes in handy) you could take it not as intended that I think you need to clean your house.

10.  I could rescue an animal at the pound and put a big red bow around it's neck and a card saying this animal told me it wanted to come live with you.  Enjoy!

As you can see if you have specific things you want for Christmas, it's a good idea to give me a list.  You have no idea what I might come up with.  I could get your kid a drum set and you ear plugs.  But whatever I get for anyone I will be sticking to my budget.  I will not go into debt for anyone on my list.  Which makes me think maybe I will just get everyone a Dave Ramsey book... or maybe...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teenagers, Driving, and Jello

Not so long ago I received a text message from a friend. It said that she had seen a sign that made her think of me. The sign said “Raising teenagers is like trying to nail jello to a wall.” I responded that it sounded about right.

My oldest now has her learners permit. I love her. I'm afraid she may kill us. But I love her. Here's the thing. I am not a patient person. I do not have a knack for teaching someone to drive a moving vehicle. Truth be told I don't even really enjoy driving myself. I drive out of necessity at this point not for the joy of driving. Also I believe it is entirely possible that it stresses her out to try to learn from us. It's all “don't put us in the grass” and “not too far over! Do you want us to get hit by oncoming traffic?” It is virtually impossible for any of us to relax. I think driver's ed instructors should be given some sort of medal of valor or something. They could be knighted if we still did things of that sort.

I do want her to learn to drive. I have thought this over and I realize all the perks to having another driver in the house. She can run to town and grab things at the store for us. She can pick up a pizza. She can take her sibling to and from school. The perks to her driving are endless. The possibilities are endless.

On the other hand like I said the possibilities are endless. She could have a wreck. You know I had a wreck not long after I got my license. What if she were to have a wreck? What if she got hurt? I couldn't stand it. Plus it requires me to let go. I'm not really a fan of letting go. I'm more of a choke hold kind of person. I latch on and hold on for dear life.

I am a teenagers worst nightmare. I ask questions. I look at them and see the little girls they once were and not the young ladies that they are. The time it goes so quickly I'm afraid. Yesterday they were riding around in Barbie jeeps and today one is learning to drive an actual car. One day they are learning to make chocolate milk and the next day they are learning chemical equations in chemistry. I ask what they have for lunch and who they sat by at lunch. I suppose I'm supposed to ask which boy they think has the cutest smile. I'm supposed to be getting in shape and getting crazy strong so I can scare prospective dates away. I prefer for them to only like boys who they are unlikely to ever meet. So far they only like boys who are in the movies. Boys at school have little to offer in their eyes. I am quite certain they are correct in their assumptions of them as of course I was once a teenage girl and I know about teenage boys.

When my oldest turned ten I cried. I cried in the middle of the newspaper office while trying to put in her happy ad. Double digits is the beginning of the end. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. Teenagers. Trying to take care of them, teach them, and let them go. I think it is about as easy as nailing jello to a wall. It's hard on the parents and on them. It's hard being in that space between child and adult. It's even harder seeing them as growing up and not as children. I think they will always be my children. I just have to get to the place where they can become adults and not grown children. As adults we drive. I think I will start pricing fruit baskets. The driver's ed instructor is going to deserve it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween, Orange and Other Nonsense

If you were to ask me what holiday I like least the answer would always be Halloween. Yes I like candy but I can buy my own candy at the store and avoid passing it out to strangers. I just do not understand why it's acceptable to dress up like the living dead and walk through the streets of town scaring small children and well … me. Plus what is with the knocking on strangers doors and begging for food. They aren't starving and you try to give them an apple and they will likely toilet paper your house. The decorations are just as bad. I spend half my year trying to get spider's webs off of my porch as they seem to think they belong there. Why on earth would I go buy artificial ones to decorate my house. Eww!

When I was a little girl I wanted to go trick or treating like all of the other little kids. My mother would take me to the houses she knew. In kindergarten I was invited to a little boy's Halloween party. As I liked this little boy very much my mother took me to the party. We had no sooner started up the walk to the door when someone in a scary costume jumped out at us. It scared me to death. To this day I remember nothing else about the party. I don't even remember if I stayed for it or went home scared. After that my mother would take me out trick or treating but it soon lost it's appeal and I stopped going very early.

Another problem is the colors. Orange and black? Really? I own one orange shirt that I break out for October. It doesn't have a pumpkin or any other foolishness on it. I do not wear clothing with pumpkins or Christmas trees or Easter bunnies on them because I am over the age of eight. Orange is for pumpkins. Put it with black and I may have a physical reaction. I have to give myself pep talks to buy anything orange for anyone in my family. Why anyone would want to look like a pumpkin is beyond me. Plus as Elle Woods would tell you “whoever said that orange is the new pink is seriously disturbed.”

I am the mother of three. I have sucked it up and taken them trick or treating since they were babies. Mostly because they like it and they usually share the chocolate with me. We only go to our neighbor's houses and then we go to our church for the community outreach party they have every year. It feels a little less wrong when we go to the church. I do not allow any scary costumes and one year my husband and I dressed up with the girls. It really was because I had such a great idea for our costumes that it seemed a waste not to do it. I was pregnant with our son at the time and due the next month actually. When I was pregnant for our middle child I had been in a wedding. So I wore my bridesmaids costume with my great grandmothers tiara. I went as the pregnant cheerleader and my husband wore his Purdue basketball jersey and went as the ball player that got me pregnant. OK so it's a little mean. But it was funny right? A couple of 30 year old's dressing up like teenagers? No? What do you want for me I was eight months pregnant and 30 years old, I was getting testy. We did have a good time and we got our own candy that year because some of the houses got it and thought it was funny.

As we approach 40 and that baby I was pregnant for is going on nine and the only one trick or treating, I can't help but think maybe there are some good parts to the holiday after all. I mean every year our town has a pumpkin walk and the church has a chicken and noodle dinner. On the pumpkin walk you can get homemade kettle corn. If for no other reason the food is pretty good. Plus I think I will miss the excitement on my son's face when he gets a regular sized candy bar instead of a fun sized one. So maybe it's not my favorite but at least it's one time of year and I'm not really required to decorate. The kids put up decorations and take them down the day after. After all, if I won't wear orange I don't want it to be a focal point in my house either.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"The Look" of Love

I was raised by my  mother.  I learned very early on that there was only so much that the woman could take.  I was an only child too so it made getting away with anything very difficult because there was no one but the dog to blame for things.  My mother had a look.  You could really monitor how far you could go by monitoring her facial expressions.  But when she reached "the look" you had better run and run fast because it was about to hit the fan.  I feared that look.  Back in the day parents disciplined their children.  I discipline my children but not quite to the extreme that I would get.  I got chased around the house with a fly swatter.  I lost the lock to my bedroom door by probably 10 years of age.  Because when I went too far I'd run to my room and lock the door, which made them mad because they would have to find the key to get to me to beat my hind end.  And when you have a big mouth and no sensor like me a beating is pretty much a given. 

Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be I was given not one but two girls with big ole mouths and no sensor.  Just like me.  While I have tried to perfect the look.  I don't think I have it down like my mother did.  My children do not quake in fear, like I did.  I was always just sure that I would be a good mother if I could just give "the look" and not have to resort to punishment.  I  am not that fortunate.  Plus while I tell my children that if I had talked to my mother like they talk to me, I would have been on the floor so fast I wouldn't even know how I got there.  I would just be looking for my rear.  Because it would be off of my body or it would hurt so bad I'd be sure that I had lost a pound or two.  My kids lose electronics.  My kids have had spankings but when they were much younger and not to the extent that I did.  (Plus two out of three are my size and I'm old and can't wrestle them as well anymore.)  I yell but they tune it out.  Electronics hit them where they live.  You take all of those away and they don't know how to function.

My grandmother says I'm just like her.  When she was in the service she was a medic and worked with what she calls the crazies.  They loved her there because she told it like it was.  This is pretty much how I am too.  I will tell you what I think.  Now if I do and I hurt your feelings I will probably feel bad about it but I won't lose sleep over it.  Mostly because I'm usually pretty sure I'm right.  Which is why I used to get into trouble, hence the fly swatter beatings or the hand if they couldn't find the swatter.  My mother whether she would admit it or not was much like me.  She was never wrong, she was always right.  Two right people does not a happy pair make when they are on opposing sides.  Which most times we were.

While I do not miss the fighting, I miss my mother so much it hurts most of the time.  My mother was wrong of course most of the time, because I was right.  But my mother loved me enough to fight with me.  The woman just refused to listen to reason.  I told her "Mother, you have to quit smoking.  I learned in school that that will kill you."  I was right of course because it did.  Sometimes it's not always good to be right.

My oldest is just like me even though I say she must get it from her father.  If you put bell bottoms on her and feathered her hair and put a comb in her back pocket?  She would be me reincarnated.  It's scary how much alike she and I are.  Well how close she is to me when I was a kid anyway.  I appreciate that I'm still alive so much more now.  I also appreciate how she managed to seemingly come out of the teenage years unscathed so much more now.  I think you fight with the kid that's most like you.  I would give her both kidneys if she needed them.  I'd push her out of the way of oncoming traffic.  I'd do just about anything for this girl.  But we would get along so much more if she learned that I am always right.  I said " Go to youth group with your friend I think you'll like it.  AND I think it would be good for you."  She went to youth group had a great time and gives me a hard time every week and says she doesn't want to go.  Then she goes because I'm mama and what I say goes.  She has a great time and gets mad because I was right.  Yeah.  Go figure.  I wonder if when I'm gone if she will miss fighting with me.

I often wonder what my relationship with my mother would have been like if we didn't fight like we did.  I always wanted her to be my friend.  Maybe she might have been if she were still here.  Maybe not.  Mostly I am glad she was my mom.  It's like what I tell my girls.  God didn't put me here to be your friend.  You already have some of those.  He wanted me to be your mom.  That's my job.  When I am done raising you, then we will be friends.  Until that time, my mission is to love you and guide you to what He has planned for you.  You belong to Him. 

What I do know is that my mother loved me.  Maybe not like I wanted her to, but the best way she knew how.  I think that's all any of us can do really.  Just love each other the best way we know how.  My mother loved me enough to fight with me.  I think that's better than indifference.  Indifference implies a lack of caring.  My mother cared enough to fight to get her point across.  She did. Sometimes being right is not the most important thing.  Sometimes being wrong happens.   Sometimes you fight WITH the ones you love.  Sometimes you fight FOR the ones you love.  Either way you love them the best way you know how. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How Do You See Me?

I wonder what you see when you see me. One Sunday in Sunday school we were discussing people's perceptions of us. I have often wondered what people see when they see me. Do they see what I see? Do they see what God sees? Do they see something completely different? I wonder if they see the truth or what they want to see.

Every morning I look in the mirror as most of us often do. I see aging. I see my mother if truth be told. Often I look in the mirror and say “hi mom.” It's funny isn't it? The passage of time. It slips away in this busy hustle and bustle of daily life without us hardly noticing. Until one day we look in the mirror and see our mothers or our fathers as the case may be.

When I look I see someone who really just doesn't have it all together. I wait too long to color my hair. I fall off the wagon every time when it comes to diets or “life style changes.” Again I see a scared little girl who wants to stand out just enough for people to be her friend but not so much to draw too much attention. I see a mother who would do anything at all for her kids and struggles with letting go. I see someone who starts things that rarely get finished.

But in light of all of that I wonder what would happen, how different my life would be if when I looked in the mirror I saw what God sees. And taking it further what if the people around me could do the same. What if when we all looked at each other we saw each other as God sees each and every one of us? As beautiful. As wonderful, unique creations designed by God. As someone worth dying for.

Did you know? Did you know that you are loved so much that you are worth dying for? I listen to KLOVE ALL the time. There is a song they have been playing lately called Someone worth Dying for by Mikeschair. I wonder if you have ever thought of yourself that way. I have to say for myself that would be a no. I tend to think of myself as so unworthy that it escapes me how God could still love me. But I am human and I don't think like God. Which is a relief I can assure you. Because I would have done away with me a long time ago. I wonder if perhaps we could all look at ourselves and those around us, not as our human eyes see the outward appearance, but maybe what we have the potential of being. How God sees us. As His beautiful creation, someone worth dying for, someone with potential to fulfill His will for our lives.

How amazing could our attitudes be towards others as well as ourselves? Could we all see each other as works in progress. As people worth getting to know and love, regardless of social status. Whether you are the prom queen, the nerd, the CEO, or the maid. What if... we were just loved creations of God. What if....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Play Time or Hey I Got A JOB

On a summer day in early August I received a request from a friend and neighbor of mine. She had gotten a job as a preschool teacher and was in need of an assistant in her classroom. I won't lie and tell you that I jumped at the chance to help a friend in need. In all actuality my first response to her was similar to “Oh? I'm so sorry for you. I'm sure they will find someone to work with you.”

Was I already working somewhere? No. In fact I had been home for two or three years after having worked in a preschool previously. Plus I was kind of really enjoying my life at home. I had a pretty stressful schedule going on. For example when the kids were in school after they got on the bus I would sit in my chair and watch Boy Meets World and What I Like About You on ABC Family. When they were over I would get up and start my day. I had lunch dates with friends. I cleaned my house and I ran my kids around. Also I had a pretty good feeling that this year would be the year that I would finally master the churn the butter dance I do while cleaning and I was going to find the perfect hair brush for singing into. So as you can see I had a lot going on.

On top of that my year at the previous preschool was the single most stressful experience of my life. Becoming a mother for the first time was less stressful. My twenty four hours of labor was less stressful. I was there during a time of transition, a time when you do not want to be stuck in the middle. A time when you do not want to be going back into the workforce and this be your first experience back.

That job caused me physical pain from the stress. I would wake up and not be able to move my neck to either side because of the stress. I was determined to finish the year. I did, but I had no desire to go back. I went back home and stayed where I was happy and content. It was great. I liked it a lot. I was able to go on day time dates with my husband. I was able to have quality time at home, redecorating and making it a place I could spend my time and not want to leave. And I didn't leave unless I had to.

It's funny to me how one minute you can think everything is just as you want it. Then God has another plan. I really like His plans. While having my conversation with my friend I told her that I really couldn't do it because I had already committed to helping with MOPS. So they would have to be willing to work around that. She said let me make a call and ask. Well she made her call and I was told I had to call this new director and talk to her. Let me just say this was a new director that happens to have the same first name as the director that we had had previously. So of course I had questions about this woman I was to call.

I couldn't have been more leery to call this woman. I made the call. What I first thought was that she sounded excited. This was new. As we talked I started feeling more at ease. So when she asked if I could come in to speak to her I said sure. I was there thirty five minutes later. We sat down and chatted like old friends and thirty minutes later I had the job. Every single excuse I could come up with to Not take the job, she responded with reasons why I should.

So far this experience has been what I had hoped my previous experience would have been. I love it. I look forward to it. As I sit here writing this I'm wondering what art project we are going to get to do tomorrow. Also I'm kind of liking having a reason to get dressed up again. I did spend some time living in sweats and while they are comfortable, they were getting old. I think it's going to be a good year. A relaxing, let's go play in the paint, go on a bear hunt, have a snack, and read some stories kind of year. I wonder if maybe this is what was missing from my good time I was having before. The opportunity to go and have a good time with others. God knew just what was missing. I'm so glad He knew the right time and right place to fill me back up.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Letter to My Teenage Self and My Teenagers

I have two teenage girls. If you have teenage girls you know what that means. While I was once a teenage girl myself, I will admit that while I do know what it is to be a teenage girl in the 80's I do not know what it is to be one in 2011. I have often thought to myself that I wish I knew then what I know now. If only right? My girls are a bit shy my oldest more so. They are quiet I was the same but only until I got to know you. Then as well as now, once I know you I never shut up. I can talk all day long one on one. There are a few things that if I could go back in time I would clue myself into about the future. So here is what I would let myself know just to make the transition a bit smoother. They are also things that I try to tell my children but I am mom and know nothing about being a kid.

Dear Teenage Me,

You are not crazy. Remember the movie Back to the Future? This is a bit like that. I've come to tell you that things are going to get so much better. The following are some things you should know.

1. Friends don't let friends get perms. Just don't do it. I know it's the style. I know that you think big hair is what is in. I also know you want to be Whitney Houston, but you are a white country girl with not a lick of wave in your hair. Plus when it's growing out there is nothing attractive about it.

2. Never be afraid to talk to people. You are a beautiful creation from God. You are worthy to speak to any of God's creations. People are just people. Anyone who doesn't see the beauty within doesn't deserve your friendship.

3. Join the band. Learning a musical instrument is not at all geeky. It is a lifelong skill. Someday when you are older while you may rock at air guitar and air piano, you will wish there were an instrument you could play.

4. The male species is not on the extinction list. There will always be boys. The right boy will support your dreams and encourage you to pursue them. He will also have dreams of his own. The right boy will dream along with you.

5. Do not be afraid to dream BIG. The country we live in was founded on big dreams. If you want to be a scientist be one. If you want to be ballerina be one. You can do anything you set your mind to and more. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I know you may not be reading anything but school books but pick up the bible. Read it and pray and ask for guidance. Here is a clue God's plan is always better than the one you have for yourself.

6. Someday you will say "because I said so", "shape up or ship out", and a slew of other things that drive you crazy about your mom. You may even forever traumatize them with the story of how they were born. But it's OK because it is entirely possible that they will become nuns because of it, thereby ensuring that you don't have to worry about teenage pregnancy. You will probably refer to "the good old days" and not be referring to the 50's or 60's.

7. Lycra is your friend and one day you will not be appalled by a push up bra, it will be your friend too.

8. Don't be a hurry to grow up. Once you are there you will be a grown up the rest of your life. Take time to be a kid. When you are a grown up try to remember how you used to collect willy worms and didn't gross out. You killed them in a jar of course but they were cool.

9. Television goes down hill in the future. Sitcoms disappear and scripted "reality shows" take over. Don't worry you can introduce your future children to good television via DVD. DVD is like VHS only cooler.

10. What goes up, must go down. Just remember that someday things will sag so take care of all your parts. If you take care of them it makes them easier to pick back up. (This is where the padded bra takes effect.)

I'm sure there are more. Things like be careful of the sun but stay in constant communication with the Son of God. People will come and go from your life but God will always stay with you. You are never ever alone. "Stay golden" (Outsiders reference)and "never stop reaching for the stars". (Yeah I looked that one up I was thinking Star Search)

Last but not least a good sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Women, Waffle Cones, and Worship

Great speakers, fantastic music, fun with friends, even an surprisingly good lunch. Those are the things you get when you go to Women of Faith.

This my first Women of Faith I invited myself to go. Actually I heard some friends discussing plans at the ballpark and asked where they were going. They said Women of Faith and I said I always wanted to go. So I finagled an invite that way. But seriously I need to do that more often because I had such a good time.

I didn't have to drive, so bonus! Small town girl here likes small town roads. So four girls piled into a Honda and hit the open road to the big city. First stop? Gas station not for gas but for cappuccino. After we had our sustenance we were on our way. Our rebel of a driver had her Garmin all set up to get us to our destination. She ignored the Garmin for the first 45 minutes of the trip. Yet we made it there and found parking.

We had seats on the main floor. We found our seats and learned so much. We need our monkeys. You know friends to keep you from losing your mind? We laughed and we cried. Then we went to get our lunches. They provided our lunch and while we were herded like cattle to get to the food, once we had it, it was quite good. For dinner the first night we went to a restaurant. It was quite good and although they offered a variety of desserts at the restaurant, they did not have Edie's Ice Cream in a waffle cone. So at the facility where they were holding the event we got in line to get our ice cream right as they were taking waffle cones off of the menu. We did get our ice cream but without the homemade waffle cones.

The next day after lunch we decided to try for another Edie's ice cream waffle cone. The other 10,000 (OK maybe it was only 1000) women there decided the same thing. We stood in line for an hour for our ice cream. They had 10,000 women there laughing and crying they needed 10 ice cream stands. And maybe at least five stands with chocolate. They made 300 waffle cones that morning. They ran out of waffle cones so "10,000" women stood in line while they made waffle cones while we waited. Our mouths were watering at the thought of the fresh made waffle cones and ice cream. Here is something we didn't think of. Warm waffle cones and cold ice cream. Ice cream melts more quickly in a warm waffle cone.

One in our group ran down to see Natalie Grant perform. I told her I would get her ice cream and bring it down to her. I tried to wait for the friend who was waiting behind me. Truly I did. But the ice cream you see, it started melting down my hand. So I trotted right down and passed it off to her. Then sat with my own cone like a little squirrel and gobbled it right up. My friends didn't have quite the luck I did with their ice cream. It seemed to kind of explode on them. On the bright side they did buy new t-shirts so it turned out well in the end I think.

We got quite a work out going up and down the stairs. I quite expect that if I hadn't had two ice cream treats over the weekend I might have gotten some toning to the legs over the weekend. As it is I believe I need to do laps on my own stairs to make up for it.

I like to sing. I envision when I'm home alone singing like an angel. I do not sing like an angel. More like perhaps a screech owl? But the women on the stage could sing. Even the six year old girl that sang could sing better than I can. What can I say it's not my gift. But I do love to sing and sing along I did. Even if I didn't know the words. I tried to make a joyful noise. I think it's OK God knows my heart was in it and perhaps to his ears I don't sound so bad.

So a group of women went to Women of Faith. They laughed, they cried, they giggled, they ate waffle cones, and they worshiped. It was a great time and I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm sure not equipped, but am I called?

I have been getting a firm talking to I believe. I have often struggled with determining whether or not I am listening to me or God. How does one know? How do you determine if what you are thinking is God's will for you or your own will for your life. I have not the answer. All I can tell you is that I have been reading Quitter by Jon Acuff. This book is killing me...slowly. Do not misunderstand me. Mr. Acuff is brilliant. I really enjoy everything I have ever read by him. The problem lies in that I am struggling to get through this book that seems to be speaking to me directly. As if somehow Mr. Acuff interviewed my husband or perhaps by best friend who knows everything and did a case study based on my life.

If you know me you know that I am a reader. I read usually a book a week. This book is taking me weeks. Which is a problem because I have a stack of books waiting for me to get to them. I read this book and I have to stop and read portions of it to my husband or my best friend or one of my kids and say "does this sound familiar to you about me?" Let me be first to assure Mr. Acuff that he is not the first person to feel a need to seek counseling because of a blog. While my counsel has come from my friend Christi and not a professional, I too have recognized a problem within myself in this journey of writing. Checking stats can get out of hand. As if this weren't enough I just got back from the Women of Faith conference.

Can I just say here how much I LOVE Women of Faith. It was my first ever time attending and I cannot wait to go back. The speakers were great. The music was great. The company I was in was great. I loved every bit of it. Did you know that I am not the only person to struggle with fear? Because I was pretty sure I was the only one. I learned so much this weekend. Sheila Walsh said “With God you get to come as you are and you don't have to keep your tail straight.” Don't you just love that? For someone as broken as I have been, that just speaks to me. Nicole Johnson said “Often great value is found in the broken pieces.” Did you know that you could still be valuable even when you have been broken? Truly? I guess I knew that when in relation to other people. I can look at someone else and see so much potential. I think I could even speak to someone one on one (never in front of 10,000 people like these women did) and tell them that it's OK God knows everything. He knows your heart, He knows everything you've ever done, everything you've ever thought and He loves you anyway. He wants you to come to him anyway. He can heal your wounds. He can bind your heart. And while I know that that means me too, I tend to forget that. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. I went to church with friends. But you know what? I'm not nearly that special. My sins are my sins and your sins are yours but to God they are all just sins. None worse than the other, yet He wants me and you anyway.

I have talked to my friend Christi about all of this. I asked her how I was to know if it was God speaking to me or me speaking to me. She tried to explain it to me. She also said when I stop trying to put my rules on everything then I would be able to hear Him more clearly. I think mostly the fact that currently I am scared to death at the prospect of what I think He is telling me, it must be Him. Christi also reminded me that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I'm still not sure what He is telling me to do. But I guess I better stop using the call waiting and the caller ID and just answer the call, whatever it is.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dreams, Attaboys, and Writing

I'm going to be 40. Not like tomorrow or anything, next year in fact. But it occurs to me that I am currently on the front porch of 40 soon to walk through that door and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

When I was a kid I had all sorts of dream. I wanted to be a ballerina (too short and not enough talent), a fashion designer or buyer (textiles class? Really? I need to know about ALL of the different fabrics?), a hairdresser to the stars (because of course regular people wouldn't pay enough for me to do their hair. Keep in mind at the time I wanted to do this a hair cut cost $5.00), a jewelry designer with catalogs and people having home parties to sell it (turns out when money gets involved, making jewelry is a whole lot less fun. Also have you seen how many people are making jewelry these days? My mother-in-law even makes it).

I started a blog before I even really understood what a blog was. A neighbor suggested it so I made one. Then I sort of took off on it. Writing about whatever was on my mind or whatever story sounded like fun to tell. People started reading it, if you are reading this then you are one of them. Then people started making comments about maybe I should write a book. My family bought be publishing books for Christmas one year. I think I'm better with short stories I've said as much.

You see this is where the problem comes in. It's the Attaboys as Dave Ramsey calls them. My husband and I are doing the Dave Ramsey total money makeover. The attaboys have a place there because you can see where you are going. You can see where you are and how you are going to get to where you want to be. You pay something off you get an attaboy and you feel good about yourself and you want more of those attaboys. It works here.

You would think the attaboys would carry over into other aspects of life. Even as children we want to feel as though we are doing a good job. We bring home a good grade to please our parents. I fully get that. It just sort of backfires on me when it comes to things like writing or even making jewelry. Because I WANT the attaboys. I get to where I need them. I must be doing something wrong because I wrote something and nobody gave me my attaboy. Why? Then I just shut down. Thinking maybe I'm not supposed to be writing because I'm getting too focused on what other people think, instead of the actual writing.

Then I realize writing isn't the problem. I am. I lost focus. I forgot to do it because I love it. I looked for my attaboys instead of the joy of the process. I didn't start writing so I could write a book and become a New York times best seller. It may also just be one of many dreams I have had. Would that be cool? Absolutely! But it's as likely to happen as me winning the lottery I don't play. I write because I can't imagine not writing. Because it makes sense. Pressure and politics and worrying about publishing etc. it's just not me. I would need someone to walk me through all of that. Until then I'm just going to write because I love it. But if I ever win the lottery? I'll let you know.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foreign Languages?

When I was in high school I took two years of French. It was either that or Spanish and I thought French a more romantic language. Also my friends were all taking French so I figured if I had trouble they could help me. Now more than two decades later I only remember how to ask if someone speaks French and how to introduce myself. If I ever go to France I'll have to dehydrate myself because I will have no way of asking where the restroom is.

My oldest child is taking Spanish. The first grading period she did better in Spanish than she did in her English class. I found this quite amusing as English is our native language. I joked about this for quite some time. Now the two grades are right in line with each other. I feel a bit better about it. I might mention that we encouraged her to take the class so she could order for us at the Mexican restaurant. We thought it would be a good idea after our son who is eight once asked us if the people working there were really Mexican or if they were just pretending to be like we pretend to be British at home.

We are quite fascinated with languages around here. Sometimes we try to speak with a British accent, sometimes Irish, sometimes Jamaican. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that apparently sometimes I speak Dutch. The thing with this is that I don't even realize I'm doing it. I don't even think I know what a Dutch accent would sound like. I have no idea how they speak. But apparently without knowing it I speak it to my children. This can be the only explanation really.

I first noticed this when they were younger and I would discipline them. I would be trying to talk to them and they would be looking at me like I had just dropped from the moon. They seemed to be trying to figure out what I was saying. Then as they got older I noticed it when I would ask them to do something. Again with the blank stare and the look of complete bewilderment. Then it occurred to me... they must not be able to understand what I'm saying. I mean I was pretty sure I was speaking English, which as stated before IS our native language. They are old enough to know most if not all of the words I was using. So apparently I wasn't speaking English.

I was talking about this to a friend of mine and she said that she had encountered the same type of thing with her children. Then she mentioned that she asked them if they understood what she was saying. If what was coming out of her mouth was English or if in fact she had broken out into Dutch. We established that apparently we both know Dutch and break out into it frequently without even knowing it. It's the only explanation as to why at times our children don't seem to compute what is being said to them, even though they are looking directly at us.

I have to say that I was quite relieved when I realized the problem. I still only hear English coming out of my mouth when I speak, unless I am trying to impress them with the very little amount of French I still remember. But I have hopes that one day they will record what I'm saying when I do apparently break out into Dutch so I too can enjoy the accent.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A/C or Automatic Comfort?

All my life I thought that A/C stood for air conditioning. I no longer believe that to be true. Although there was a time when I would have thought that A/C stood for A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell, those days are gone too. No I believe that A/C stands for automatic comfort.

In the last week the temperatures outside were well into the nineties. We noticed the first time we tried to turn on the central air that it wasn't cooling the air. We called and waited a week for someone to make it out to the house to take a look. Meanwhile the temperature inside rose with the temperature outside. My thermostat inside only goes up to ninety. It was straining at the top. We had purchased 10 inch box fans for each of the children to have by their bedside. We had the larger fan in our room. Reason being there are two of us in our room and only one of them in their rooms. Then a friend brought us by another fan which went into our room. Again two of us and only one of them per room. Plus they would have all fought over who got the bigger fan.

I started envisioning us as Pioneers. While I do know that there are people all over the world who do not have air conditioning we have been blessed with it for quite some time. I thought about how if we were brave enough we could sleep outside in the open. We aren't quite that brave. I then decided that if we wouldn't be able to get our unit replaced we would have to get creative to keep cool this summer. I thought perhaps we could keep large towels icy cold in a cooler and walk around in those all day. No one come to our house anyway, so no one would see us. My husband didn't think this bit of genius I came up with would work. First they would get quite drippy and could warp the hard wood floors. Also he didn't seem to think anyone would be allowed to sit on the furniture for fear of ruining that too.

It then occurred to me that perhaps it wouldn't be so bad having the house so hot. It could be like our very own sauna. I need to lose a few pounds anyway. We could see if one could sweat off the pounds by merely sitting in an overheated house. But I worried about our girls. They spend a great deal of their time locked in their rooms. It's very hot upstairs what if they sweated themselves into nothingness? We would never see them then. That wouldn't be good. I thought perhaps we could keep buckets by the door and when company came they could bring their own ice and sit in ice buckets to keep cool.

Our beds didn't get too messed up during this period of time as everyone was either too hot or too tired from the heat to move around much. Maybe it was the heat but I found the entire thing absolutely hilarious. I couldn't help but laugh. I mean sure the entire thing was frustrating and everyone was a bit on edge but it was still a bit funny to me. I spend the entire winter cold. My hands are cold, my feet are cold and although our heat does work, I am usually under a blanket. One of the perks (and there are many) of being married to my husband is that he is warm blooded. He is often warm and doesn't mind my cold hands and feet as it cools him off and warms me at the same time. The poor man was miserable in the heat of our upstairs bedroom.

On our last night before the air conditioning unit was replaced it was quite hot that day and my son had baseball practice. I was in the house awaiting the time when we would leave to go out to dinner, when I felt as if I was possibly so hot I was boiling from the inside out. I went and put my suit on and jumped in the pool. I believe that steam rose from the water. We then went out to dinner in an air conditioned restaurant. To top it off we had ice cream. That evening we had to get a bit creative with sleeping arrangements. Our son slept in our room on the floor with the big fans. The girls shared a room and had all three smaller fans surrounding them. It was a bit of an adventure.

Through it all though I couldn't help but think of how lucky we were. While it was inconvenient to not be able to turn on the A/C and be in automatic comfort, we did have soft beds to sleep on. We had screens in our windows to let in the night air. We had fans to at least move the hot air around, and most importantly we had each other. No one can commiserate with you better than those enduring with you. Oh sure we got frustrated with the situation, sure we took it out on each other at times, but truly? We would have done that anyway. There are two teenage girls in this house. Drama of some sort is bound to ensue. Do we aggravate each other? Sometimes. Do we love each other? Always. I don't think we can be defined by the things that disrupt our lives. The washer going out, the dryer going out or eating all the socks, the A/C going out, even the winter that the heat didn't work, or the summer my mom died and my world seemed to flip upside down. Trials will come, trials will go. The trick is in the surviving. And while I've had my share of melt downs, I think it's best to sit back and enjoy the ride. Because surviving in style? Acknowledging the grace of God in everything you encounter? Is so much the better.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Testimony, My Story

Recently, I was talking to my grandmother about my cousin. My cousin in now 36 years old, and she has a form of cancer. However, she is a miracle because she wasn't supposed to live to be a year old. When she was a baby, she was diagnosed with leukemia. My aunt and uncle were told she wouldn't make it. She underwent chemo and radiation, and God moved. She has survived thirty-six years. The treatments she underwent stunted her growth, took her hair, and limited mental development. Now my aunt and uncle, who two years ago lost their only son due to a tragic event, are preparing and praying for what may well be their only daughter's final years. My grandmother asked me why I think God lets these things happen to good people. Honestly I didn't know what to say.
I've been having a hard week. There is nothing unusual happening for it to be such a hard week. Everyone in my household is well.
I feel like I've been in battle for the last several days, and I'm starting to have some battle fatigue. I believe Satan has been working on me. He has had me questioning what I've been doing with my life. He has lied to me so convincingly I have downplayed everything.  I took my blessings for granted and started to think that anyone could do what I've's nothing special. But this morning, after talking to a very wise woman of faith, I'm feeling quite better. After a few tears and a lot of prayer, I believe that God has shown me the truth and perhaps, for now, this victory is won.
This was a trying week, but I believe it was all leading up to what I am about to reveal. God spoke to me this morning and a quick review was placed on my heart. I was also led, I believe, to share a few things about myself. If you are a friend of mine, you know that I have also been struggling with a bit of writer's block. I think that has come to an end now.
I was raised by my mother. She had me when she was just twenty years old. From what I have been told she and my father were crazy in love. I have no memory of such a time. Before I was a year old, they were divorced. I'm not sure exactly what happened. As with any story like this one there is a lot of hearsay. My mother worked hard in a factory and raised me alone. My grandmothers helped, but for the most part, it was just the two of us. She dated sporadically until I was seven.
When I was seven my life would change dramatically. My mother married a man whom she thought could give us a better life. This was based on the fact that he had a house. We were living in a trailer. Unfortunately, she did not know she would be the one working to pay for that house, and while she was working, things would happen that she would not learn about until much later.
Her husband went through many bouts of unemployment. At one point he would leave for two years to work in North Carolina. Those were the best years for me during the 13 year marriage as I would be able to sleep without fear. I lived through many years of different forms of abuse at the hands of this man who my mother thought would give us a better life. I never told anyone. Actually, I tried at one point to tell my mother, but she didn't understand. She took it as we were finally getting along.
When I was in college and living at home, she decided to leave him. She had met someone else, and he was willing to help her leave. She informed me even though they were separating, they were going to continue to live in the same house. Neither one wanted to give it up to the other. Once I heard that, I called my grandmother and asked to live with them. I did not tell her the reason:  I was too afraid to stay in the house any longer for fear of what might happen to me. Once settled there, and after graduating with my first degree, I begged my parents to let me move to another city to continue going to school. They complied, and I was free. Even though I probably didn't live in the best neighborhood, I never felt safer.
When my now husband and I found out we would be returning to our hometown to live after college graduation, there were precautions that I felt needed to be made. When we married we couldn't put in the paper where we would be living. We couldn't have a listed phone number. When we started our family there couldn't be any birth announcements in the newspaper. I wanted to take as many precautions to ensure our safety. To my knowledge, he never tried to find me. If he did, he didn't succeed. 
However, he succeeded in finding my mother. She had moved out and left no forwarding address. He would sit in the parking lot of her work and follow her home to see where she lived. He would leave notes on her car. He would leave notes, and other articles that she had left behind, on her doorstep.
When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband and I went on a trip together. We left our daughter in his parents' capable hands. When we returned, we were shown the newspaper that had a published obituary of the man I had feared. I felt relieved. I chastised myself for it. I spoke to my preacher about it. I felt relieved and no one but my husband and mother could understand. My mother truly didn't know the depths of my reasons, but she was relieved for her own--he had been her predator too.
When our two children were young, my husband and I would decide to build a house. We would argue and fight during this process.  Some nights, even after the house was built, we wouldn't speak to each other. We would have to get to the point where we would have to remember why we loved each other in the first place. We would talk to a counselor separately. At the same time we were dealing with a child who was speech delayed.  Half the time she was pulling her hair out of her head by the fistful in her frustration,  and we had to learn how to handle that. The stress of making everything work would almost break us. At this point today, I can honestly say that I love him more even now then when I married him. It amazes me every day how blessed I am to have this man as my partner in life and how good God is to fix what is broken.
I had my third child when I was thirty. When I was a day away from turning 32, I would lose my mother to cancer.  It was a long battle. I sat by her bed on a dark stormy night and talked to her and God. I told her how much I loved her. I felt His presence in the room when He came to take her home.
I fell into a pit for two years. When I was 34, I became pregnant with my fourth, and long-awaited child, that I had hoped to have before finding out my mother had cancer. I lost the baby in the first trimester. Again I fell. This time the fall was shorter, but I fell just the same.
We have lost grandparents, I have lost my mother, aunts, cousins, and a baby due to miscarriage. I can honestly say that I don't know why bad things happen to good people. I can say that I look at things differently now. God is Good ALL THE TIME. I honestly don't think I would be able to type, or say this, unless I had been completely broken down and then raised back up by the Holy Spirit.
I can see the good that has come from the horrible situation of my mother's cancer. My mother came to know the Lord. She was saved and baptized. When I get to heaven, she will greet me.  I know in my heart of hearts that would not have happened otherwise. My uncle who was right there throughout the journey was saved and baptized and became a deacon in the church.
I grew up never wanting to get married. I didn't want to have kids.
What were my role models?  I came from a broken home. I had to fight every day of my life from age seven to high school graduation.. I grew up with a man who hated children. He led me to believe I was worthless, ugly, and wouldn't amount to anything in life. I had a father I mainly saw on birthdays and holidays.  Men were not to be trusted. 
Who would want any part of that?  I wanted to grow up be a fashion buyer for Bloomingdale's and live a solitary life, with no one to fight with. The lie Satan had been feeding me was I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There might have been some truth to that lie.  
My God is patient and trustworthy, and He has shown me the whole truth. I finally realize what I always wanted to be when I grew up, and the great part about this is that I've been fulfilling it this whole time. God has given me my true heart's desire. I always wanted to be a part of a real family. I wanted to be the mommy. I wanted the husband and the kids and all of it--even the crazy cat that sleeps at the foot of my bed. I had it all, and I never recognized it.
I don't have to be anyone's idea of successful. I only have to be me, and that's good enough. Because I AM THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING!!! I am saved; I am forgiven; I am redeemed; and I am a work in progress. Fortunately, I am God's own handiwork. I guess that's not too shabby for a girl with a beginning like mine.
So what if I started out in a trailer park?  There is a mansion waiting for me in heaven. I guess that is what makes my mindset different from other people. I don't look at death as a punishment. I don't look at it as an end. I am not afraid of it anymore. I look at it as a gift and a new beginning.  After all, the best Daddy is there waiting for me, along with my mother and all those who have gone before me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Zumba....Or Not?

Zumba. Zumba is what everyone is doing these days. If you don't know Zumba is an exercise class that you dance in. I have several friends who go to Zumba classes. I also have several friends who teach Zumba classes. All of them have tried to get me to take the class. (which makes me wonder how I got so many friends that can dance so well) Every time I turn them down. I have tried to explain it to them. They just don't seem to get it. Here is the problem. I lost all my moves in the post natal drip.

That's right. I lost them all. When I was young I took seven years of dance classes. I was not at all the best dancer in any of my classes but I could move. At school dances I was great. I may have had glasses as large as my face and big hair, but I could move on a dance floor. I went to all the school dances. I loved them. It was a chance to hang out with my friends and do what I loved doing... dancing.

I still love to dance. I just don't do it well. In fact my dancing has been reduced to a few token moves. I can “start the mower.” I can “churn the butter.” I can “Q-tip.” I “hula hoop.” There is not a single line dance that I can do. I can't do the mashed potato. I don't even mash potatoes in the kitchen, I buy them frozen. I had kids and I turned into a mommy. I can do many other things, but moving in a fashion that looks remotely like good dancing is not one of them.

Some skills that I now have are: I can talk on the phone, cook dinner, check homework, and let the cat out at the same time. I can do laundry, tell kids to do their chores, and catch up on recordings at the same time. I can cook dinner, read a book, and enjoy an ice tea at the same time. You know this may be the underlying cause as to why I'm really not that good of a cook. I'm always doing other things while I'm cooking. I can play a Sing It game on the Wii, look up an answer on Google, and listen to a story by another child at the same time. I can chase a toddler while talking on the phone and fixing lunch at the same time. So my multitasking skills are up to par.

I do usually dance around my house weekly. When no one is home. But I will be plugged into the iPod, singing loudly, and mopping floors and doing laundry at the same time. In my mind, I dance like a superstar. In reality I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld. It's a side effect from having children. I had kids and my feet got bigger, my rear got bigger, I lost my sense of smell, and my ability to dance. I also became an even bigger klutz than I was before. So when I do dance sometimes I run into the furniture. Also I think stretching may be important. I'm not sure, but I do know I can't move like I used to. So I would prefer to think it's because I don't stretch first and not that I'm so old that I just can't move that way anymore. (which who are we kidding, that is the case.)

So maybe I am too scared to Zumba with people I know. Maybe I am afraid I'll twirl when I'm supposed to turn, and twirl right into someone causing a chain reaction and maybe breaking a body part that would be necessary for getting home. But maybe I just don't think I can do it if I'm not on the phone and checking homework or sweeping at the same time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Teenagers and the Secret Society of their Survivors

I was discussing in church recently that I may need a mentor mom. So far I have no volunteers. I believe I've figured out why. You see I'm the mother of teenagers. Two in fact, both girls, nineteen months a part. Yes that was on purpose. Don't laugh I'm an only child I didn't know better. You see my theory went a little something like this. I wasn't exactly sure how this having kids thing was going to go down, having no experience or anything to draw from. So the way I figured it I should have two and have them close together. My thinking being that if I did it that way they would be close. Built in best friends for life. They would never long for someone to play with. They would never be lonely. I was lonely for quite a bit of my childhood, watching shows like The Brady Bunch and Growing Pains and wondering how much better my life would be with siblings to go through the trauma of growing up with. Like I said I didn't know any better.

This is what I have discovered. It's not too terribly difficult to get a mentor mom if you are the mom of a baby or a toddler. Those my friends are nothing compared to the teenage years. Diapers and the lack of a vocabulary are your friends at this point. Embrace them! As soon as they hit about 9 it all starts going down hill from there and the vocabulary just increases in ways you don't want to think about.

I think perhaps that women who have lived through the teenage years with girls, especially more than one, have formed a secret society of sorts. They are all sitting around in their little clubs watching the rest of us flail around and enjoying the show. They won't get involved because they have already lived through their fair share of drama. It's either that or they are mostly institutionalized and are preparing my chair and little white coat for me. A friend of mine suggests that perhaps they are sitting around sipping their drinks and waiting for the next survivor to arrive. I am not a drinker so I said what will I do? Learn to drink? She said, well I didn't say they are drinking alcoholic drinks. You could have an orange mint julep. I asked her what that is. Apparently that is what Reese Whitherspoon served at her wedding. It's some kind of a southern drink. I persisted in asking her what exactly is was. To which her reply was “ I don't know I don't live there!” My friend has two daughters. Neither of which are yet into the teenage stage. While I love her dearly, if she had teenagers herself, she'd understand that perhaps I may need to learn to drink as whatever an orange mint julep is? May not be enough to get me through this stage of life. Although I am willing to give it a try at this point. The orange mint julep that is not the alcohol, we'll hold that thought till they start driving.

There was a time when my daughters wanted to share a room. I refused to let them and told them that they would thank me later. At this point they practically need written permission to enter the other girl's room. Can you imagine what it would be like if they did in fact have to share a room? Imagine if you will, duct tape running down the center of the room and intense fighting if one piece of a shoelace crossed over into the others domain. There could be anarchy. There would of course have to be squares of duct tape on the floor to symbolize neutral territory. No, I think it was the best decision all around for them to have their own rooms.

Don't get me wrong there are times when they get along. They are far a few between most of the time. They can be sitting on the same sofa watching a show together just fine, then one moves or looks at the other wrong and then it's “ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.” Hide the breakables. Call in the National Guard. SOMEONE BLEW A BUBBLE IN THE OTHERS PRESENCE! This cannot be tolerated. We must go to war! I have tried entering into peace talks with them. I don't know what to do. I have told them that I cannot possibly live forever. They are going to have to learn to get along. If their father and I survive the teenage years we fully intend to move to Florida without leaving a forwarding address until they figure out how to get along.

I can only imagine what our family gatherings will look like if they don't figure this out. Will we have to have separate family gatherings because even their husbands and children won't like each other? Am I required to buy the Bob Evans Dinner twice for Thanksgiving? Clean the house twice? Put a line of duct tape down the middle of the house to have them all over at the same time but quarantine them to separate parts of the house with only the bathrooms being neutral? It's too much!

This is why I need a mentor mom. My own mother is now gone but I don't think she could have helped me with this one. She only had me. She didn't have to deal with any squabbling kids. She could have perhaps thought back to when she was growing up with all of her brothers and sisters. But I tend to think maybe that's why she had just the one. She remembered all too well. I do have a mother-in-law that raised daughters. She is quite busy though. Also I'm kind of thinking that maybe she doesn't want me to know if it gets better. Sometimes maybe it doesn't. I think for the most part my sister-in-laws get along. But maybe the secret is in how long that took to happen. She may think that if she doesn't tell me then if it happens sooner for my girls I'll be pleasantly surprised. If later then she didn't give me false hope.

In the mean time, I guess I'm in this thing alone. If you want to apply to be my mentor mom feel free to do so. I would greatly appreciate it. If not I think I understand. Just get my chair ready at the table and have my orange mint julep ready. I'll be anxious to figure out what that tastes like. Until that day when I enter into the secret society of survivors of teenagers. I guess I will make do with ice cream to drown my sorrows. So I sure hope the secret society comes with a free gym membership.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The "Old" Mom, A glimpse into our family

It occurred to me when my youngest child was in kindergarten that I am now the “old” mom. I admit that the spacing of my children is part of what gives me this title. My oldest is in high school, my middle in junior high, and finally my baby is in second grade. As I looked around at all these young mothers awaiting to go on a field trip with what could only be their oldest child I was struck by the finality of it all. These mothers are just getting started on this journey. While I am still in the middle of mine, my days of waking up with babies and dealing with diapers every day and toting a small arsenal of supplies around just for a trip to the store to keep baby happy are over.

I remember being a young mother. When we left the hospital with our first child, I sat in the back seat of the car with the baby and as my husband pulled away from the curb, I said “wow, they really will give just anyone a baby won’t they?” I was FAR from prepared. Sure I’d read the books, I had taken the prenatal classes, which were basically useless as I had an emergency c-section the first time around and planned c-sections with each subsequent pregnancy.

My oldest child I refer to lovingly as the guinea pig. She was the first and as I hadn’t a clue as to what I was doing I made the most mistakes with her. Fortunately she has become a lovely young lady, no thanks to me, and I believe the amount of therapy she will need after enduring me singing show tunes to her and parking her in front of Barney as a little tyke will be minimal at best. We got pregnant very quickly with her. I gained 60 pounds with her. I was a whale looking for an ocean with her. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was a staple in our home at that time. And I figured since I was going to be pregnant I may as well look the part. I looked like I had swallowed at least two basketballs is what I looked like. But nine months later we were blessed with a beautiful healthy little girl. Exactly on her due date and not a moment before. To this day she does things in her own time, whether you are running late or not. She as well as my other children bring me more joy than I thought imaginable. Proving that what I was seeking in this life wasn’t status but family.

As my oldest is in high school and my middle in junior high, there are some topics that you are not allowed to discuss in front of them and any amount of PDA completely grosses them out. Being as we figure that our insurance will cover any amount of therapy they will need, my husband and I make it a point to hug each other and kiss each other and tell each other we love one another in front of them. Any little peck on the lips or cheek will result in “OH GROSS! Get a room would you?” To which our reply is always “Uh Hello? We have one, we are in it. Every room in the house is ours which one do you want us to go to?” We do not do this to gross them out. That’s a perk of course, but we do it because we feel it’s important for them to see that mom and dad are good. We are in a good place and we love each other. We may tease each other or frustrate each other (like when he puts his dirty laundry just outside the hamper or I get into that whole lack of self esteem thing that I do) but love is the basis of all of it and that’s what brings us together as a family. And again there is that whole thing where it grosses them out and hopefully they will remember that and hold off on their own PDA when boys enter the picture.

My Son is eight. The poor girls got the scared, please don’t cry, why don’t you listen, what can I do, I’m messing this up mommy. My son got the relaxed I’m old, you’ll live if you fall down, sure spill something the floor needs cleaned anyway, oh you want to each cheerios from the floor the ten second rule applies here go ahead, stick the binky in the soda to clean it off and give it back mommy. He is in turn a pretty relaxed kid. He goes with the flow. He has sat through dance lessons, dance recitals, soft ball games, band and orchestra concerts, and who knows what else. He doesn’t really complain you just hand him a game boy and he plays his game and goes with it. He plays basketball, soccer, baseball, and likes to draw. He is also the peace maker of the family. He tells me if the girls are fighting (usually they are, we are still waiting for the best friendship to take hold). To which unless someone is in pain because they get into a knockdown drag out fight I don’t move. I figure if no one is bleeding or on fire they need to learn to work it out themselves. Unless of course they mess with my baby (who of course is now eight not the two year old I still keep him as in my mind and who may have instigated it anyway, because he is his father’s son) then I come unglued. He is very smart and kind and of course handsome as like I said he is his father’s son. But he’s my baby. My last go around. He’s eight.

On our kids birthdays we put in a happy ad in the newspaper. When my oldest turned ten, I cried. I stood in the newspaper office and cried because my baby was in double digits. When my youngest, the baby of my family turns ten, I may need a valium sandwich to get through it. Plus there is the whole thing with I’ll be forty the same year and my oldest will be driving by then so I may already be on medication, so it could be ok. Either way they are growing up entirely too fast. I’m pretty sure that I’m not finished growing up how can they be catching up so fast? Yesterday I was in high school, today I have a child in high school and while when I was fifteen I was sure I was an adult, I tell my fifteen year old that she is still a kid and to embrace it. The way I figure it, you have your entire life to be an adult. There is no going back, you get this one chance to be a kid and you should hold onto it as long as you can, at least till college. At which time you need to start figuring some things out. While I love my babies, my forty year old kids are not living here. I’m old, not crazy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting on the Boat

One of the movies I like to watch as of late is The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. In the movie they go to Alaska to see his parents and they need to get on a boat to get to the house. The conversation goes a bit like this: Margaret “ I’m not getting on that boat.” Andrew “ That’s fine I’ll see you in a couple days” Margaret “You know I can’t swim.” Andrew “Hence the boat!” This cracks me up every time, then it gets me to thinking. She is afraid of getting on the boat because she can’t swim. He can’t understand why, because she won’t be swimming, she’ll be on the boat. How often do we miss the boat or refuse to get on the boat because of fear?

I have been having several “duh” moments lately. Moments where I feel like God is just pointing things out to me and some moments where I feel like “Oooh I get it now. That’s what I’m supposed to get from this.” My goodness how many boats have left the dock without me on it. How many boats have I watched leave the dock and waved with the “I’m not ready, I can’t do it. I’m not good enough” thinking. I think I’ve missed every boat that came to the dock or maybe I never even went to the dock. Fear has been so prevalent in my life and I think I’m starting to understand why. I’m starting to “get it.”

I was doing my bible study last week and I was having some trouble getting what I was supposed to be getting from it. For me, it helps if I can talk it out. So I called a friend and asked her about it. As we spoke, the light bulb went off. I believe there may have been a heavenly choir that began to sing in celebration and I finally started to get it. When you are a child, and we all know this, we tend to learn what we live. If you are told something long enough you eventually take it as a fact and accept it. To this end I try every single day to tell each of my children how special and wonderful they are. I tell them they are beautiful and smart and kind and such a gift to my life. Because those are the things I want them to believe about themselves. Those are not the things I grew up hearing. My mother married a man, not my father, who told me daily that I was ugly and would never amount to anything and no one would ever want to marry me. Well, I have been happily married to my hottie hubby for almost sixteen years. I take no credit for that it’s a total God thing. I would also likely tell you that I believe fully that he could have done better. There goes that fabulous self esteem again. When I look in the mirror I see flaws. When I think of doing something I usually give up because I’m certain I’m bound to fail. Mostly because that’s what I was told would happen. I have always believed the lies and never believed the truth because I never felt like I deserved it. After all I’m ugly and I’m never going to amount to anything, remember?

Here’s what I’m figuring out. I married an incredible man. God brought just the right man to be my partner in this life. And this wonderful man must see something beautiful and worthy in me or he wouldn’t have married me. I usually fail at things because I quit or give up before I have any chance to fail or succeed, because I am equally afraid of both scenarios. Is that ridiculous? I’m not sure. I suppose even, I’m more afraid of succeeding than I am of failure. How crazy is that? I don’t think it’s really all that crazy if you think about it. If I try something and fail, it’s really not going to change my life. I’m pretty comfortable with my life as it is. I’m comfortable in my comfort zone and I like it there. If I were to attempt something and succeed it could greatly change my life and I would be moved from my comfort zone where I’m so comfortable. I suppose I never really knew if it was worth the risk. For two years I have wanted to turn my writing into a book. Book deals mean traveling. Book signings, meeting, a lot of things I am sure that would take me out of my comfort zone. As I am an optimist. Which is the weird part of my lack of self esteem. First I think I would fail miserably but that would be ok because that wouldn’t really change my life. Second oh my goodness what if I were to succeed then what? What if all your dreams could come true? What if I got pulled from my comfort zone? I am a very nervous flyer.

I am a walking contradiction. I don’t want to try something because I will probably fall on my face. I don’t want to try something because of the off chance I succeed. There you have it. I am a loser. I have let the fear of both wrap chains around me, stick my feet in concrete, and plant me in with roots that are strangling me. I am the only one who has done this to me. I have the most supportive family ever. For Christmas one year I received a book of all the publishers and agents in the country and a publishing for dummies book. It was exciting and it scared the day lights out of me. It became a little too real and strange. In growing up I never had anyone believe in me that way.

I think the message I’m suppose to be getting here is get on the boat. Stop letting the fear of drowning keep you from getting on the boat. DUH! Or as we say in our family d-u-h, d-u-h, d-u-h. Because of course it means more if you spell it out. I don’t know where this boat will take me. I suppose it’s a bit like learning to swim, you either sink or you swim. But I suppose it’s like Andrew says “Hence the boat.” I suppose if Jesus can calm the seas and walk on water, He can steer the course of any boat that comes my way and says get in. And maybe I will fall on my face, but how will I know if I don’t get on the boat? It’s like that joke about the man stranded on the island and the first boat comes and he turns it down and says “no God will save me.” Two more boats come and he says the same thing. He cries out to God and says “Why won’t you save me?” and God says “I sent you three boats what do you want?” Get on the boat. Go for the ride and see where it takes you. I think that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Six Word Story

Last night I was visiting one of my favorite author's blog. She was having a contest to win an autographed copy of her new book that is coming out in May. All you had to do was come up with a six word story and put it in the comments section of that post. I was thinking "Hey! How cool, I can totally do that!" Turns out I totally couldn't. Everything I thought of had eight words. It was driving me crazy! So eventually this is what I used: "Six words really? I need eight!" Of course, I was highly amused and thought it was much better than what I later read: "I want to read your book". I keep checking the web site to see who won. So far it hasn't been posted. There were some funny ones. While I was a little dry last night, today I've been getting all sorts of ideas.

A list of fabulous six word stories:

Girl writes blog. Few people read.

Girl loses weight. Weight comes back.

Milk left on counter. Cat full.

Girl lacking confidence, now Breaking Free.

Poop on floor, cat for sale.

Girl starts singing, cats now hiding.

Teenage girls pmsing, midol much needed.

Girl needing exercise, beware wii boxing.

Girl learning to cook, chaos ensues.

Oregano and Rosemary, what's the difference?

Recipe, celery seed, what is it?

Girl growing older, lies about age.

So as you can see, I could do this all day. A day too late of course, but this could go on for awhile. I imagine six word stories will haunt my dreams now. I don't know who she will pick. I am not likely to win the contest. But I do know one thing for certain, I can't wait to read the new book. If one thing is for sure, it will be a laugh riot. After all you can expect great things from a Purdue grad. I should know I married one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Vacation with a Purpose

This Saturday morning I woke up in my warm comfy bed. I was awakened with a hug and a kiss on the cheek by my husband. When I got up I took a nice hot shower and I thanked God for my nice warm comfy bed and hot water for my shower. Then the rest of the day I spent with the family doing things that we like to do together. We had lunch at a favorite restaurant and went to a movie. Simply things really. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about any of it. Just a family spending the day eating, watching a movie, and shopping, laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company.

If you look deeper though and think about the kind of day we had, it was a pretty special kind of day. Especially because at the end of it we got to come home. That would be the heart of it all wouldn’t it? We came home. We are fortunate because many people don’t have a house much less a home. I have done minimal traveling compared to a lot of the population. But I have been to a number of great places. I have been to the beach, I have been to Mickey’s house in Florida, I have been to Hawaii (a favorite, though I was only there once), I have been to both Carolinas, and I have shopped in the largest mall in America. They all have their merits. They all have their worth but none of those places is home and at the end of the day, I think that’s the best place to be. It’s nice to be able to get away for awhile. People always say, or maybe it’s just us, but we always say “it was a great place but we wouldn’t want to live there.” I think that’s true most of the time. While Hawaii was nice I don’t think I would want to live there all the time. I’m kind of a freak about weather and I just would not adjust well there. Also I think a lot of the time we take for granted what we have, and I would hate to live in a paradise and ever hear myself say something like “yeah it’s great most of the time but I really miss snow.” Imagine! Snow! It’s inconceivable to me that I could ever miss snow.

This year we didn’t go to Mickey’s house and we didn’t see the ocean. This year for spring break we went on a vacation with a purpose with five other families from our church. To say that it was out of our comfort zone would be an understatement. To say that it changed our perspective would be a fair assumption. In our family we spend a lot of time together, we do not however spend a lot of time with other people as a family unless it’s with family. I’m not sure why. We aren’t anti-social by any means and we are all fairly well adjusted individuals who all have friends that we talk to regularly. We have just never really bonded as a group with another family. If we get together with other families it’s with one of my friends, or one of my husband’s friends and their family but the kids aren’t bonded, or maybe just one of them is. I think it’s hard to find another family where everyone has someone close to their age they can connect with. My husband and I had children early in our marriage. Which is to say that we found out very quickly where babies come from and how they get here. So we have two kids 19 months apart then we had our son five years later. The spacing of our kids is one of the challenges in finding another family to hang out with. So we stepped outside of our comfort zones and went on a trip with five other families we barely knew.

We went to Kentucky to work with Wayside Christian Mission. It is in the heart of Louisville. On our first full day we spent our time working outside on the grounds of one of the locations they have. Our group moved dirt, loaded trash to be hauled away, filled pot holes, and painted curbs. We moved quickly and efficiently and by a few hours into our second full day those projects were completed and we were asking what we could do to help next. Aside from serving food and unpacking donated food there didn’t seem to be much else they had planned for us. So they had us folding Kroger bags for a food drive they work with United Way to accomplish.

We certainly came “home” (which was the church we were residing in for the week) tired every night. I guess you could say we had a working vacation, an at times uncomfortable vacation, a changing vacation.

In general I am quiet around people I do not know or know well. In groups I am unlikely to speak. Public speaking would make me feel faint or like throwing up. As a rule I am more comfortable around women than I am around men. I do not feel comfortable in strange places. Now on the flip side of that. If I am around people I know, I am perfectly at ease. To talk to someone one on one, try and shut me up. I suppose that’s where my children get it from. It just takes us awhile to warm up to people. As I grow older I am getting a bit better at it, but it’s still a struggle I have especially around the male species. There are only two I truly trust Jesus and my husband. I spent a week surrounded by homeless men and women. I spent a week with men and women that some of them I could count on one hand the number of conversations we had ever had, though I see them every week at church. For me this was a stretch. For me it was changing.

Our second night there we were invited to go and listen to their choir. I have listened to choirs before and I believe that we have had some men and women sing in our church that could be on the radio. But it takes something else to move me to tears. As I listened to this group of people who have been places that I could never imagine, I was struck by the pure joy they showed in singing praises to God. I listened and held back tears. It’s rare that I cry for a crowd. Their voices were beautiful. They played keyboards, piano, guitars, and violin. The violin of course being my favorite. Not one of them looking at sheet music. They didn’t need it. I listened as some of them gave their testimonies and I rejoiced in my heart for how good God is.

As I said before I’m usually quiet around people I do not know. But I pay attention. I observe and take mental notes. (then try to remember them) These are my notes. These were my observations. We went on a Vacation with a Purpose. We went to try and make a difference. We went and tried to help. But I think the difference was made in us. I think the help was given to us. I think the blessing was given to us, because I’m not sure how much help or difference we made for them. I only know the difference it made in me and I feel very blessed indeed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Adventures with Linus the Cat

In our house we have two adults, two teenagers, a child, a geriatric cat Gabby and a crazy long hair black cat with a white patch on his neck named, Linus. My cat Linus enjoys sleeping on the white couch. I think he feels like he’ll get noticed more if he is there. His other favorite places to sleep include the following: on my bed, under my bed, the top of the stairs, the middle of the stairs, the recliners, and on top of my lap.

I once gave my cats a bowl of milk. They looked at it as if it were poison. They didn’t drink it and I ended up throwing it out. However, if the kids leave their milk out in the morning. Linus feels it’s his duty to jump onto the counter and see what the problem was. I like to think of him as the taste tester, he just does it too late. He sticks his face into the child size Tupperware cup spilling it all over the table and floor. *New rule: if you do not finish your milk you must put it into the fridge to be finished later or put it in the sink.

Just this week while I was finishing watching the program the kids were watching while waiting for the bus, I heard a noise. I turned around and found Linus was standing on the island. I looked at him and said “Really? Get down!” Of course, he got down. Then, after the program was over, I was turning off the lights that weren’t being used and where did I find Linus? Standing on top of the washing machine of course. Isn’t that where all cats hang out in their down time, between sleeping where you want to sit down and eating? This was a first. It was curious as the lid was open and it did take some balancing. Nothing was in the washer at the time and I wonder what he could have been looking for. I do have hopes that he will learn how to do the laundry, as currently it is a job that I haven’t delegated out. It would make up for the fact that he leaves black fur on the white couch and all over the floor all the time.

Last night everyone was in bed and I was turning all the lights off and heading upstairs. Linus was asleep in the recliner. To his benefit, I did wake him up when I turned on a light to check the doors to be sure they were locked. I then went up to bed. He followed. Which leads us to our nightly adventure. Each night the cats come up to bed also. While there are plenty of places to sleep downstairs, they like to sleep with “their” people. So they sleep at the top of the stairs, or in the doorway of our room or our son’s room where they can “stand a post” and be the good guard cats that they are. When that doesn’t work out for them or if I roll over or seem to be too comfortable Linus comes to the rescue. He gets comfortable at my feet or in the space right behind my legs between me and the edge of the bed making it next to impossible to move. If one of the children move to roll over or get up to use the restroom, they will get up, watch them, walk them back to bed, then go back to their posts.

Usually Gabby just goes along with these escapades out of a feeling of obligation. She is old. She is tired, she just wants to eat, sleep and be left alone. She is the cat version of a grumpy old lady and she will nip at you if you aren’t moving to get her food fast enough. Linus however, thinks that it is his job, nay his duty to be with all of us all the time as our guard cat. I am my mother’s daughter. My mother hated cats. I never hated cats, I preferred dogs but due to allergies in the family to dogs, I have cats. Which some people are allergic too also but they deal with it. They have to really. As the kids say these cats are not just cats, they are members of our family. Linus is like one of the kids. He reminds me a lot of my kids actually. When he wants my attention he wants all of it. When he wants to be left alone, well I leave him alone because he’s a cat. If he was a child I would only pretend to leave him alone while sneakily trying to find out why he wanted to be alone. He doesn’t ask for much. I feed him and he gives me his undying love and devotion. How many people can you say that about? Maybe that’s why we get along so well. We speak the same language.