My Roller Coaster Life

Finding the humor & joy in daily life…

Waiting in Line

Waiting In Line

During the last 2 months, I have spent more time waiting in lines than I have in the last 10 years, thanks to COVID-19. As the primary shopper for our household, I have literally spent HOURS waiting to get into stores.

Tired of spending time on my cell phone, I have resorted to watching people (covertly, of course!). This has proved to be both fascinating & enlightening. I love the lessons God teaches me in the everyday things!

I wanted to share something that has really stood out for me in recent times – seeing the parallels between people waiting in line and our walk with the Lord. In this analogy, imagine the store is “heaven” and these are the people who want to get there.

 

The Rulebreaker
This person ignores the line and walks up to the door, thinking that he will be able to get in. He has no interest in knowing the “Rules of Entry.” When the Rulebreaker find out that standing in the line is the only way into the store, he looks at the line and walks away in disgust. He is not willing to submit to the process.

The Complainer
The Complainer is clearly impatient. He complains loudly about waiting in lines, wearing masks, the quarantine, the government, etc. Although he is physically standing in line, his heart is not submitted.

The Quitter
This is the person that stands in line for a while, but then leaves because he grows tired of waiting.

The Fair Weather Friend
Closely related to the Quitter, the Fair Weather Friend is willing to stand in line as long as the weather is nice. As soon as it becomes windy or it starts to rain, he leaves.

The Isolationist
The Isolationist is determined to wait in line & follow the required process to get into the store but refuses to look at, talk to, or otherwise engage anyone around them. He prefers to fly solo.

The Clique
The Clique is a group of two or more people that come to the store together. They talk & laugh with each other and ignore everyone else around them. No one is invited to join the Clique.

The Fellow Sojourner
Finally, there is the Fellow Sojourner. He comes alone but reaches out to those standing near and provides much-needed fellowship to others on the same journey. The joy he spreads can be infectious and soon more people want join in.

 

While an imperfect picture, I think this looks a lot like our spiritual lives.

There are those who think that they should be able to get to heaven without having to follow Jesus (Rule Breakers).

Then there are the Complainers, who may “look” like they are following Jesus but their hearts are not really submitted.

The Quitters and the Fair-Weather Friends are people that are initially willing to follow Jesus, but don’t get very far. They quickly tire of the waiting or become distracted by obstacles and circumstances.

The Isolationists and the Cliques are similar in that they exclude other people. They are only concerned with themselves and feel like it is not their responsibility to help others along in their journey.

The Fellow Sojourners are those who willingly follow Jesus and desire to encourage others in their walk with the Lord. People are drawn to them because of their joy in the Lord.

 

Which of these describe you most often?

Spending time watching other people has helped me be more aware of what my behavior in the “doing everyday life” moments is communicating to other people. Am I projecting a friendly & encouraging attitude or am I standoffish? Do I respect authority & follow the rules, or do I try to do things my way because it’s more convenient?

If I spent that much time watching other people, I have to believe that other people watch me, as well. Even my quiet moments in public are on display! What do I want people to see? Someone who is grumpy & irritated, or someone who has the joy of the Lord? Every moment of my life is an opportunity to be a witness for the Lord. Are all of my actions bringing Him glory?

Definitely something for you & me to pray about, my friends!

Matthew 5:18
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Philippians 2:14-16
Do all things without [a]complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

 

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Don’t Worry, Be Thankful

Thankful

Now that we all have been living we the global reality of COVID-19, I thought it would be a good time to check in and see where everyone is at in all of this.

If you are living in the U.S., you have probably have dealt with the runs on bottled water, sanitizer, and toilet paper, empty shelves (I still can’t find rice!), social distancing, wearing masks, school closures, job layoffs, sick friends or family members, stay-at-home orders, watching press conferences, etc. I am sure you can add more to this list!

Our lives look nothing like they did a few months ago. How are you coping with all the changes?

We have some long days ahead of us and, no doubt, more will change.

When things are so uncertain, it is easy to focus on all of the problems, the things we don’t have, the what-ifs and the might-bes. We plan, worry, try to fix, worry some more…it’s a never-ending cycle.

It is so easy for me to slip into this mode of thinking! As you can imagine, it is unproductive, self-defeating, and it destroys the enjoyment of the here & now! One of our pastors recently said something that really resonated with me: “Suffering pain today on behalf of a tomorrow that hasn’t happened is not doing you any good.” (Pastor Jay Alexander) Oh, how true that is!

In Matthew 6:25-34 (my go-to verses when I am stressed), Jesus talks about being anxious and not worrying about tomorrow. I won’t quote the whole section here, but He ends with:

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (ESV)

What a great reminder this is!

The Lord has been challenging me to instead focus on what I do have and be thankful. Thankful for His provision. Thankful for the things I tend to take for granted…time with family, my church, my co-workers, my job, the direction that He provides me daily. Even the nice bed I sleep in and the ten-year old hand-me down clothes from my daughter that I still wear around the house.

I cannot list all the verses in the Bible that talk about being thankful, but I will summarize with this one:

Ephesians 5:18b-20 “But be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (NKJV)

When I start thinking about all that I do have and all that He has done for me, it completely changes my mindset. He has provided so abundantly, how can I help but be thankful? What a faithful Father He is!

This season has been so challenging, but do not give worry and anxiety a place in your thoughts. Instead, focus on Him, who He is, His promises, what He has done and be thankful! Walk in His victory, my friends!

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Do All Things Without…

Do All Things Without...

My middle child dearly loves listening to his music, which consists of songs from Veggie Tales, Action Bible Songs, and a couple of older Steve Green CDs of bible verses set to fun, kid-friendly music (his very favorite). We listen to it so frequently that it has pretty much become part of the “sounds” of the home.

I often find myself singing the songs without even thinking about it, especially the Steve Green bible verse ones.

The one stood out to me this morning was Philippians 2:14-15a, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God…”

How many times I have quoted this to my children! As a parent, it is a great verse to have memorized so you can toss it out there when your child needs a reminder.

And if you really want to bring your point home, you can quickly follow it up with Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”

Faithful parenting = instructing your children in the way that they should go. No better way to do that than going straight to God’s Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 

Handy verses for training up your child, right? But they’re not just for training up children…

While singing about not complaining & arguing the Lord reminded me that this verse applies to me, too. As I have grown in my relationship with Him, I have gotten better at not complaining. Not perfect, but better.

At least, better at not complaining out loud. But that is only part of it. The problem here is the heart.

 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”  Matthew 15:18

We all have negative or unworthy thoughts pop in our head now and again, but when we allow these negative thoughts to grow into a running narrative that plays on and on, this is also complaining!

Is complaining really that big of an issue? It seems pretty harmless, right?

It IS a big deal because God has called us to be thankful in all things!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

This means that when we complain, even to ourselves, we are being disobedient and are expressing dissatisfaction and a lack of trust in the Lord’s provision. We are saying to ourselves (and other people!) that God doesn’t quite know what He is doing and we know that He could have made a better plan. Sometimes we even go so far as to tell Him and other people what He should have done! I cringe to think of how my complaining might have affected others and their understanding of who God is!

It doesn’t sound so harmless when we realize what we are actually doing when we complain! We become like the Israelites who continually grumbled in the desert instead of being thankful that the Lord saved them from the Egyptians.

Have you ever noticed that the more you complain, the more you continue to complain? That’s because when we start complaining and expressing dissatisfaction, the enemy is right there waiting to show you all the things you should be unhappy about! Very quickly, complaining becomes a habit that is difficult to break.

How do we guard against complaining?

By choosing to be thankful! Thankful for who God is, His love, and all that He has done for us. Give Him praise!

By trusting Him! Trusting that He is the Sovereign Lord whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8)!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 

But even before these, we need to repent for our ungratefulness and lack of trust.

If this is something you struggle with (or even if it isn’t), ask the Lord to show you areas of your life that you are prone to complaining about. Ask a trusted person in your life to provide loving correction when you start complaining. Above all, spend time in prayer and the Word!

 

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Crushed?

Crushed

The following story is one that only a few people know because I am still a bit embarrassed about it. But the Lord brought it to mind several times recently and I want to share how He was victorious!

A few years ago, we were blessed to have family staying with us for several months. I am very thankful for the time we were able to spend together! It was so much fun, but there was a lot going on and it was, at times, a bit chaotic with balancing work, kids, etc. Attempting to relax, I had taken to playing Candy Crush on my Facebook. At the time, it was a way for me to tune out the noise and focus on something quiet for a few minutes. No biggie, right?

Well, if it had remained an occasional diversion, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. However, this was not the case. It quickly turned into something different and developed into something that fed into two areas that I have struggled with over the years—competitiveness and obsessive behavior. The perfect storm for what happened next.

At first, the warning signs were subtle. I became territorial…I was the only one who was allowed to play the game. After all, it was my outlet for relaxation! Gradually, the amount of time I spent playing the game increased. I was driven to not only complete each level, but to also get the maximum amount of stars. In my mind, it was not a problem. I had it under control.

By the time our visiting family left, I was consistently spending an hour or more on Candy Crush each day. It was now a habit that I couldn’t do without. Any downtime was spent playing the game. I was playing it so much that when I wasn’t physically playing Candy Crush, it would be “playing” in my mind while I was doing other things.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my son with autism became interested in the game. He liked to watch me play it and sometimes play it himself. So of course, I had to continue…I was “bonding” with my son!  At this point, everyone in the household was occasionally playing. I told myself it was a family activity…something fun for everyone!

And so this went on for many months. More and more time was devoted to playing the game each day. I had reached the end of all of the levels and was forced to wait (impatiently) for new levels to be created. While waiting, I went back and tried to get higher scores on the old levels.

Somewhere along the line, it stopped being fun. It became an obligation. A HUGE obligation. I actually started to dread coming home because I would HAVE TO play the game.

There finally came the day when I was in the middle of a game and an overwhelming urge to delete the game came over me. The Lord showed me just how much I was in bondage to Candy Crush and I needed to stop. So, I did. I deleted the game right then and there. After completing over 1100 Levels, I was finally free!

It was like a gigantic weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was such a relief! And, praise God, I didn’t miss it at all!

When I reflect back, I am horrified that it went on for as long as it did. I refused to acknowledge the problem that had overtaken my life. The amount of justification and excuses I made to continue to do something that deep down I knew had engulfed my life is appalling. I even used my children as an excuse!

What started out as a harmless diversion became an idol. A sin. One that I fiercely protected.

And like every sin that we actively participate in, it overtakes everything else. The more we indulge in it, the more entrenched we become and more we are enslaved by it.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. John 8:34

But that’s where the Lord comes in and saves the day! He came to set us free! We no longer have be in bondage to sin – to our worldly desires. In Him, we are a new creation!

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Galatians 5:1

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Video games…are they sinful? No, I don’t believe they are. Being obsessed with video games or anything else? Most definitely.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12

So much wasted time! Time that could have been spent praying. Reading the Word. Serving. Spending quality time with family. Taking care of basic life responsibilities, like cleaning, cooking, etc. Sleep.

This whole experience has made me much more aware of when I start giving priority to the wrong things in my life. I have learned to lay these things down before the Lord & walk away. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is not. – but the Lord is so faithful in helping me overcome any temptation!

My questions for you:

What has priority in your life? Are there things that you spend more time on than you should?

Ask the Lord to show you anything in your life that has become an idol, and if there is, repent and turn away!

 

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Smoke Detector

smoke detector

I don’t know if this happens to you, but a lot of times our smoke detector goes off when we cook. Now, I won’t be naming any names, but it definitely goes off more when certain people cook than others.

We’ve cleaned our burners and replaced the burner drip pans numerous times, but it keeps happening.

It is at the point now that if the alarm goes off, everyone continues to go about their business without so much as a flinch. The person cooking quickly hits the button and the non-emergency has passed, not to be thought of again until the next time it happens. Not the best response, right?

While sitting here working on a different blog post, the alarm went off. Without getting up to check on everyone, I went right on typing. I knew my husband was out there with my boys, so it would be fine. I have heard the smoke detector so often that it doesn’t even occur to me that it might be a real emergency and I could be in danger. Or that my family could be in danger!

How often do we do this in our daily lives? We have become so desensitized to potential danger that warning signs stop triggering a response in us. We just ignore them. It wasn’t a serious problem before, so it probably isn’t a serious problem now. We have become complacent.

The Bible tells us that the enemy is always looking for a way to get to us.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

It is a lot easier to recognize the blatant attacks, but it is the slow, whittling away of our defenses through making everything ordinary and commonplace that causes us to drop our guard. Like the proverbial frog slowly being boiled to death as the water temperature increases, we are the same with our response to the dangers around us that don’t seem imminent.

What dangers? So much of what we (including me!) immerse ourselves in requires us to make little compromises, especially in the area of entertainment and social media.

That show has such a good storyline, so I am going to ignore the few minutes of immoral behavior that flashes on the screen.

I love this song, so it doesn’t matter that it is all about gratifying self and the world.

I am just going to scroll through all of the inappropriate images and confrontational posts so I keep up with how my friend that I haven’t seen in 20+ years is doing.

How much of what we voluntarily take in lines up with God’s Word? How much would you partake in if Jesus was sitting right next to you? Would you tell Him, “Just ignore the blasphemous language because this show is really funny!”? That makes you think, doesn’t it?

When we make these little allowances in our lives, we are dulling our senses and our ability to hear the cautions of the Holy Spirit. Things that should cause us to pause and evaluate whether we should be a participant, even if just a passive one, no longer seem to cause alarm in us. And it is just this type of erosion of our spiritual defenses that makes us much more vulnerable to the enemy’s deceptions and attacks.

Am I advocating canceling our subscriptions to Netflix and throwing away our smartphones? No, I’m not. What I am encouraging is that we pray & ask the Lord to show us areas that we are allowing ourselves to become accustomed to ignoring our internal “smoke detector” (aka the Holy Spirit). Our spiritual lives just might depend on it!

Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

 

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Waiting on the Lord

Picture1

Waiting. One of the most challenging things for me to do.

In the past, I constantly tried to find solutions to problems. My problems. Your problems. Pretty much anyone’s problems.

To be honest…even today, when people share something that they are struggling with in their life, I have to resist the urge to fix it for them. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I end up offering unsolicited advice or committing myself to something that I wasn’t called to do. It doesn’t help that my job is all about troubleshooting and coming up with creative solutions.

There is definitely a time and a place for coming up with a fix for a problem. If we ask God, He gives us the wisdom and the ability to make sound decisions.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him. James 1:5

But there are also times when God wants us to wait on Him. His timing. His solution.

And often His timing is contrary to what our flesh wants. Let’s face it…we usually want our problems solved now, not at some undetermined time in the future.

This summer has been a season of waiting. It seems odd for me to say this as my husband & I have just finished one of the busiest summers we’ve ever had. So many different, unexpected things happened and we were constantly on the go. There wasn’t much physical “waiting” at all!

Despite the busyness, there were several areas of our life we felt the Lord telling us to wait on Him.

In some cases, the waiting was relatively easy to do. Either we had previous experience with waiting on God’s timing in similar circumstances or God just completely removed any option other than to wait on His provision. In these cases, we were comfortable waiting & looked forward to seeing what God was going to do. It was a good practice and reminder to trust God.

However, there were a few situations that I personally struggled with. It is so difficult for me to wait on God’s timing when my problems involve relationships and people. These particular challenges seemed insurmountable!

Often, I would find myself believing I was obediently & patiently waiting on the Lord, but then He would show me that my heart was not fully submitted. I was MOSTLY trusting Him, but not FULLY. He has called us to trust Him with ALL of our hearts and I wasn’t doing that.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I had a picture of myself scrunching my eyes shut, clenching my fists, and holding my breath, just waiting for the worst to pass. He reminded me that waiting on the Him is more than just “doing time” until He answers. I should not be stressed, worried, or dreading the impending doom. I should have peace!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

This has been very difficult for me! But I am learning that when God asks me to wait, I should ask myself these questions:

*Am I grumbling, complaining, or otherwise being negative about having to wait?

*Am I anxious?

*Am I plagued by the nagging feeling that maybe God won’t answer me?

*Am I asking random people for opinions on how to solve my problem?

*Have I formulated a backup plan if God doesn’t come through?

If I can answer yes to any of these, then I need to pray and ask the Lord for His help to wait patiently, fully trusting Him with my situation. And I need to spend time in His Word. There are so many encouraging scriptures about waiting on the Lord! I shared some of my favorites at the end of this post.

So, now that we are at the end of our summer of “waiting,” I am amazed as I look back and see how God worked in so many different areas of our lives! Some of our challenges have fully been resolved, some are still a work in progress, and some we are still waiting on.

#ButGod! Praise God for all of the victories – big & small & yet to come! He is so, so good!

 

Reposted from a blog I wrote for our church’s blog group.
http://www.faithandvictory.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnChurchWa/

Fast Food Friend

Fast Food Friend

I recently shared this testimony on the topic of friendship at church…

 

This is something that the Lord laid on my heart this week..

It has been a tough week, with a family member in the hospital with a serious condition and just yesterday morning, one of the long-time residents of the home that I manage passed away unexpectedly in her sleep.

This is brought to my mind how short our lives are and that we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 (NIV)

Only God knows how long we have on the earth.

“A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5 (NIV)

All of this has also been a reminder of when my cousin died unexpectedly in her sleep several years ago. She was only in her 30’s.

As she was shy and a bit reclusive, I usually only saw her at family holidays. When she passed, I recalled so many of the times that I meant to reach out to her, but I didn’t follow through. I was busy with my own life. How much I regretted that! I promised myself that I would be more intentional in my relationships.

That was several years ago. I would love to say that I kept that promise. I’ve tried at times, but inevitably I have allowed other things to take precedence. How much more difficult it is to not be distracted by life today!!!

I think what is even more challenging is that we face the temptation to count our connections on social media as “being intentional in our relationships.” I am so guilty of this!

I remember when I used to call my friends and have three-hour conversations. There is a special connection that happens when you talk to someone long enough to get past the “Hello, how are you?” part of the conversation. I cannot think of the last time that I have done this. In fact, I shy away from spending time on the phone at all.

Now most of my relationships are reduced to sound bites and memes on social media and quick texts.

I’m even worse about going out and having face-to-face time with people I am close to.

According to Facebook, I have lots of “friends”, but who among them have I personally spent time with recently? Seriously, I feel like I am the queen of surface-level friendships!

The Bible has so much to say about the importance of friendships, how to be a friend (brother), encouraging one another, correcting one another…the list goes on.

One verse that I feel really captures this is in Ecclesiastes.

The Value of a Friend

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV)

Even Jesus modeled the importance of having close relationships!

Recently, I have taken small steps toward being intentional with my relationships. I will not interrupt conversations because my phone chimes. I stop what I am doing and actually look at someone face-to-face when I am talking to them – I don’t try to “fit them in”. Basically, I am working on not being a “fast food” friend.

I have in no way arrived to where I need to be. I have so much further to go! I am still working on being intentional with spending time with my friends in person, or even on the phone.

More time listening, sharing.

More time investing in other people.

More “doing life” with other people.

Of course, I can’t do this with every single person I am friends with on social media. It is not feasible, nor would it be wise. We cannot invest in every relationship at this level.

But I will continue to pray & follow the Holy Spirit’s leading on which relationships I need to pour more of myself into. Sometimes, it hasn’t always been the obvious or easy choice. But, in the end, it has always been a blessing.

Questions for you to think about…

  • How can you be more intentional in your relationships?
  • Which friendships do you feel like the Lord calling you to be more intentional with?
  • What steps can you take so that you are not “fast food” friend?

Texas Adventures, Ep. 273  – The Revenge of the Sleeping Giant

Door ArtMy nephew and son (I’ll refer to as The Boys) have had an ongoing prank war with my brother-in-law that has spanned years. Their pranks have ranged from the simple (shaving ceam in the shoes) to the more elaborate (filling a cake with ketchup). All pretty harmless stuff.

I happened to get caught in the crossfire and was on the receiving end of a prank intended for my bro-in-law. It was all in good fun – a door booby-trapped with stuffed animals that rained down on my head when I opened it. But little did they know that they woke a sleeping giant.  Now drawn into the battle for the prank war domination, I immediately started plotting my revenge. Game on, Boys.

I am no stranger to the practical joke. In the distant past in a land far, far away, I have been a perpetrator of many top secret escapades designed to bring surprise, laughter, and some measure of annoyance to the victim. My bro-in-law has been a casualty of some of these, so he was well aware of precariousness of The Boys’ position. Touting my considerable skill in planning and executing nefarious schemes, he warned them of their impending doom. He perhaps exaggerated my abilities for effect…it worked. hehe

I like to conduct my warfare on two fronts – the elaborate & detailed plot for annihilation and, more importantly, the psychological game. It is necessary to let things percolate in the minds of the targets for a while. It helps to give their imagination time to work up a healthy fear of what lies in wait for them. My bro-in-law and I, now on the same team, added to The Boys’ heightened sense of paranoia by creating a special hand signal that we would randomly do during the day. It adds a dramatic flair to the situation.

In reality, I had nothing planned, but I kept the illusion going. I debated letting the psychological warfare be the actual prank, but I felt that the subtlety and sophistication of this tactic would perhaps not live up to my bro-in-law’s hype. So after spending a quality twenty minutes researching feverishly online, I had several ideas to bring to the table at the next war council with my bro-in-law. After warding off several attempts of eavesdropping by The Boys, whose imaginations were now worked up to a frenzy, we were able to discuss and narrow down the possibilities.

Now back on track, I developed plans for executing “Project Decimation”. I decided that I needed to launch a full-scale attack on several fronts, not leaving them time to catch their breath. In order to achieve this, I not only needed to pull off all of the different pranks we were considering, I needed to raise them to a level that would bring shock, amazement, annoyance, and inconvenience. In other words, a truly epic prank experience.

For this, I needed assistance. My sister and bro-in-law made sure The Boys were out of the house for a sufficient length of time. My mother, my secret weapon, agreed to help me set it all up. That’s my mama! She has no qualms about tormenting her grandsons.

Fast forward three hours later, my nephew’s room was set up and my little mama and I sat back and waited for the fun to begin. (okay, we didn’t actually sit, we were making dinner, but you get the idea). The Boys came home tired from a long day. In fact, they were so worn out, they forgot to be paranoid and were completely unsuspecting when they opened the door to the bedroom. My mom and I cackled gleefully as we heard screams of horror when they discovered each one of our little gifts.

We were generous with the plastic wrap – each mattress was completely wrapped (including the pillows), my son’s suitcase, and my nephew’s dresser. When they took the plastic wrap off, they discovered that we had safety pinned their clothes together. For my son, it was just the contents of his suitcase. For my nephew, it was every last sock he owned – a giant rope of socks that measured over sixty feet! (pun intended)

But our magnum opus was the 250 plastic cups of water that completely covered the floor. Ahhh…the sound of The Boys’ groans as poured out all of that water was victory to my ears. It took over a half hour, so I had time to truly enjoy it. mwahahahaha

So, there you have it. The Boys have learned a little lesson about pranking and they have a good story to tell later.

Of course, I realize that if I haven’t scared them off completely, I have set myself up for some major payback later.

The final ambush will happen tomorrow night after they go to sleep. My bro-in-law and I are going to plastic wrap their door (I have some plastic wrap left) and fill the space with rolls of toilet paper stacked to the top. I could have purchased something more difficult to clean up, like packing peanuts or popcorn, but I thought I would use something that would serve a practical purpose later.

Plus, I can leave my sister and bro-in-law with a lovely gift when we leave to go home…156 rolls of cheap toilet paper.

Vacation with my family. Never a dull moment.

*no teenagers were harmed during this vacation

 

 

 

 

Competitive much?

competitive

It’s a little known fact that I am just a tad over-exuberant in my competitiveness. If you are my immediate family, it is not so little known.

You won’t catch me competing at sports because I am not at all athletic. One might say that I am the opposite of athletic.

Anti-athletic.

The black hole of athleticism.

Just by being around me, you can go down a couple of points in your athletic ability.

In fact, I can’t even watch the Seahawks without them losing.

Make of that what you will. (And, no, I didn’t watch the playoff game.)

 

But, as you know, there are plenty of other opportunities to compete that don’t require being good at sports.

Like, whose route to the store is faster?

Or who is more sleep-deprived (and thus worthy of more sympathy)?

Who can consume more chocolate in one day?

You get the idea.

(In case you are wondering, the answer to all of the above questions is me. Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!)

 

Not to say that I am opposed to being enthusiastically aggressive in more traditional competitions, such as board games.

Back in prehistoric times, when I was just a wee lass, my competitive nature was just starting to emerge. I had to resort to some manipulative tactics in order to win.

My favorite tactic was to run crying to my mother, complaining that my sister wouldn’t let me win. Because I was the youngest of three and perhaps my mother was resorting to self-preservation, it would always end with her going to my older sister and saying, “Can’t you just let her win this once?”

Worked like a charm every time.

 

These days, since my mother no longer has any say in the lives of my game-playing opponents, I have to resort to more sophisticated methods of manipulation.

Playing board games is a regular activity in our household. Games that involve strategy are the faves.

I used to play non-strategy games like the neverending Candyland when my daughter was young.

But when you find yourself saying, “Oh look! There’s Elvis!” to distract your child long enough for you to rearrange the cards so that she can win & the game can END, it is probably a sign that a few brain cells have died in the process and it is best to conveniently “misplace” the game to avoid it happening in the future.

 

So when my son was old enough to start playing games, we chose games that involved thinking and planning. Thankfully, these days, there are so many options!

Obviously, we went easy on him in the beginning. But pretty soon, he started winning occasionally. This was good…we taught him well. We stopped holding back.

He kept on winning. Often. Hmmm.

But then we discovered a secret weapon. If the TV was on, he became distracted and started to make mistakes. Mwahahahahaha! We were back on top!

Unfortunately, he became wise to us. Now, the TV is off and he plays with a ferociousness not seen in any other setting. You can see the diabolical intensity in his eyes.

But my child does not know who he is dealing with. I have a weapon he has yet to match. My husband falls prey to it, as well.

Guilt.

That’s right. Guilt.

It goes like this:

“Oh, if you feel good about playing it that way, that’s alright with me.”

or “I don’t like to do things that cause you to lose points. I prefer to win with my own skill.”

It crushes them every time.

 

I know that winning a board game has no value in the “real world” and it is rather pathetic and sad that I resort to such means.

But if I am honest, there is a certain level of satisfaction in stomping on worthy opponents in a game involving strategic planning, skill, & intrigue.

If they fall prey to my extra-curricular shenanigans, so be it. They should know better by now.

So there you have it. The secret life of a non-athletic person.

You have to take your victories somewhere*.

 

*No child (or husband) was seriously injured in any of the above-mentioned games. Therapy sessions are down to once a week now.

competitive2

 

 

The Blob…

Beast 2My #2 child’s birthday is coming up and I am always at a loss as to what to get him. Being nonverbal, he is not always able to share what it is he would like to receive as a gift. I start thinking about what to get him at the beginning of summer, even though his birthday is in the fall, because it usually takes that long to come up with a suitable gift. Suitable Gift = something he will be excited to receive and will be able to enjoy for a while.

But not this year! I had a great idea early on. When other family members asked me for ideas about what to give #2 child, I tossed them a few bones but I jealously guarded MY SPECIAL PRESENT with the same fervor as one would use to protect the most precious jewels.

I decided to replace his worn-out bean bag chair with a much nicer, larger one. After doing some research online, I quickly found out that the kind of bean bag that I wanted would cost several hundred dollars.

I moved on to OfferUp. I immediately found exactly what I was looking for! Barely used, high-quality, large size, great price.  Victory!

I contacted the guy and arranged to pick it up a few days later.

 

Fast forward to today.

Since my brother-in-law was handy and I needed someone to look tough and mean when I go to strange people’s houses, I asked if he and my niece would like to come along. Skeptical that my car would be big enough to hold the three of us and the bean bag, he graciously offered the use of his truck.

Ignoring the fact that my bro-in-law is an engineer and an all-around smart sort of guy that might have some wisdom in this matter, I politely declined. Plus, I am slightly delusional about the size of my car. #smallcarproblems

We arrived at the OfferUp guy’s home and he opened up the garage door.

There sat my SPECIAL PRESENT in all its glory. It was a masterpiece. Everything I could have hoped for and more. Emphasis on the MORE.

I clearly misjudged the size of this thing.

Still choosing to remain in my delusional state, I insisted that it could fit in the trunk of my car. My bro-in-law once again displayed his wisdom. “Are you sure it can fit in your trunk?”

“Absolutely!” I replied.

Next followed several minutes of both of us trying to push the bean bag into the trunk. OfferUp Guy was staring at us incredulously from the safety of his garage.

I decided it was time to face reality and shift gears.

“Let’s put it in the back seat.”

“But where is [my daughter] going to sit?”

My reasonableness was clearly just a blip in my thought processes.

“They’ll both fit in there.” (this should have been a clue…I was starting to refer to the bean bag as a person)

Ten minutes of my bro-in-law pushing and me pulling from the inside of the car and the Blob was finally in. Success!

“But where am I going to sit?” my sweet niece inquired.

Since I wanted to hold onto my title as World’s Most Awesome Aunt (plus she is a gazillion times taller than me), I sucked it up and told her that she should sit in the front seat and I would be the one to sit next to the bean bag.

Only it was more like the bean bag was sitting ON me.

My bro-in-law invited OfferUp Guy to come out and take a look at his sis-in-law squished against the bean bag in the back seat. OfferUp Guy had no words. He was probably wondering if he should back away slowly, without making any sudden movements.

With my arms pinned to my side and my face plastered against the window, I spent the next twenty minutes feeling every single bump in the road, trying unsuccessfully to take a full breath.

I did manage to wrestle one arm free long enough to take a selfie and text my hubs. Amazing what the right motivation will do.

It didn’t help matters that my bro-in-law tapped into his little mischievous streak. After a couple of times of him gleefully trying to turn corners as fast as he could, I was ready to be done.

At last we arrived at our mutual friend’s house. My sweet niece exits the car and waits for me to get out.

“It’s child-locked!” I shouted desperately from behind the glass.

“Oh, yeah! I forgot.”

She opened the door.

Imagine breaking open a can of refrigerator biscuits.

As we walked toward the house, my smirking bro-in-law offered a word of encouragement: “Good luck getting that out of the car.”

Never one to be held back by something so trivial as a reality check, I stoically replied, “Oh, no worries! I’ll have my youngest help me.”

 

Later today…

My youngest and I arrived at my mom and stepdad’s house. My mom graciously agreed to store the bean bag in the spare bedroom until #2 child’s birthday. They weren’t home (which was probably a good thing).

After several minutes of me pulling and my youngest pushing from inside the car, the Blob hadn’t budged. I decided we needed to switch places.

Despite my previous traumatizing experience, I got in the backseat & I shut the door. I used my legs to push while leaning on the door for support.

Another several minutes pulling and pushing. We finally got the bean bag out.

My youngest shut the door.

“It’s child-locked!” I shouted desperately from behind the glass.

My youngest looked at me gleefully. Heartless child.

After many dire threats of not allowing him to play his video game for ten thousand years, he finally opened the door.

We were on the home stretch. Two doorways and we were done.

It only took a couple of minutes to push the Blob through the garage door into the house.

One down. One more to go. Easier said than done.

The door into the spare bedroom is much narrower than the garage door. Almost ten inches too narrow for the bean bag to easily fit through. And the bean bag, being filled with foam, barely squished.

After much exertion and laughter (and tears), we finally got the Blob in.

“Of all the projects you have ever done, Mom,” my youngest said, shaking his head, “You outdid yourself with this one.”

He didn’t mean that as a compliment.

It was hard to muster up any response to that, as I was breathing heavily and my muscles were shaking from all of the exercise.

*Sigh* The things we do for our kids.

Nevertheless, it was not a bad day’s work. I managed to get my #2 child an awesome gift for one-quarter of the retail price AND we’ll have the fun (?!!) memories of how it all came about.

The only drawback is that #2 child is going to have to go visit Grandma & Grandpa’s spare bedroom in order to use his bean bag chair. I don’t think we will ever be able to get it out of there.Beast 1

 

 

 

 

 

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