My Roller Coaster Life

Finding the humor & joy in daily life…

Waiting on the Lord

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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/

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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

 

 

 

 

 

B-Movies and Mutant Raccoons

BobcatTo celebrate the resurrection of my blog, I thought I would start off by sharing something that happened to me recently. If you are one of those people who see me on a semi-regular basis, this story will be old news to you. My apologies for being a broken record, but the opportunity to share this bit of Twilight-Zone craziness is too tempting to pass up.

It all started a few months ago….

The sun was shining in the early morning when I headed out to my car to go to work. I backed out of my parking space and paused for a moment to adjust my mirror. I was about to take off when suddenly this huge creature casually walks in front of my car, less than 2 car-lengths away! Seriously, it was as tall as the hood of my car!

Completely in shock, it took a moment for me to process what had just happened. By then, the animal had slipped out of sight between two cars. I quickly reviewed what I thought I saw…

It moved like some sort of wild animal.

It was the size of a wild animal.

Its coloring was sort of wild animal color (yes, I made that up).

You know the old saying, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck”. So what we have here, folks, indeed, is a wild animal!

Enter full panic mode.

Every single old B-movie and TV shows about animals, mutated because they were exposed to toxic nuclear waste, attacking an unsuspecting population came rushing into my brain!

And you know how they always have that one lady who stands in one place and screams when the creature when a six-foot ant who is moving in slow motion towards her. (why do they do that?!)

Okay, that was me. I would have been that lady. I now understand that complete shutdown of coherent thinking and functional action now.

And to illustrate this point, there’s more…

My hubs, along with my #2 child, had just exited the laundry room from across the small parking lot and were headed toward his car. Panic level rises ten more notches. My only thought is that I had to warn them!

I quickly rolled down my window and shouted, “Get in the car! Get in the car NOW!”

My sweet husband looks at me with a puzzled look.

I repeated myself, “GET IN THE CAR NOWWWWWWW!”

More confused looks.

At this point, the reasonable thing to do would be to EXPLAIN why I wanted him to get in the car. Just a few clarifying words would have been all that was needed.

If I was reasonable.

But since I was in full “Red Alert” mode, any sort of reasonableness went out the window.

After waving my hands wildly and pointing toward my hubby’s car, all I could sputter out was, “NOW! Do it NOW!!!!”

He finally got in the car and we drove off in our separate directions.

When I finally calmed down enough, I called him and explained what the problem was. Always the kind and patient husband, he grunted soothingly. But I’m not sure that he really believed the animal was the size I said it was.

I spent the day obsessing over the incident and trying to figure out what the animal was.

It wasn’t a coyote because it didn’t have a snout.

It couldn’t be a bobcat because the stuffed bobcat that I have seen at Cabela’s was far smaller and fluffier.

Cougar, maybe? No, it was too scrawny and the face shape wasn’t right.

So I did what any modern, social media-addicted person would do…I posted my story on one of my Facebook community groups. Within the hour, I had several suggestions as to what I saw:

A coyote (although I had explicitly explained in my post that it couldn’t be a coyote – insert eye-roll emoji)

A dog (not sure if people actually read my post)

A raccoon (What?! Is it a mutant raccoon? My youngest gleefully grabbed a hold of that idea. He’s still teasing me about it.)

A cow (Okay, at this point, I’m thinking that posting this story on Facebook wasn’t such a good idea.)

A bobcat.

At this point, I decided to take another look at the whole bobcat thing. Maybe some of them are larger. The person who suggested this then posted a video about how bobcats are moving into urban areas and there is a bobcat removal team in Texas somewhere.

Okay. I did a Google search and I found a bobcat that looked very much like what I thought I saw.

I called the wildlife people and they said they don’t do anything about bobcats unless they are rabid. I found it comforting to know that if I get attacked by a rabid animal, they have my back and will come out and remove it.

And, “Please, don’t tell people about it because they tend to panic even though there isn’t a danger.” (Panic? Who would do something like that?)

So, that’s the story. I went on with my daily life.

Months went by and I started to question whether the animal I saw was really THAT big. Sure, it was a bobcat…but most bobcats aren’t that large. Although he never said it, I’m sure my husband had his doubts, too. My youngest didn’t care one way or another…he just liked tormenting me about the mutant raccoon.

Until a few weeks ago.

Normal routine…early morning, heading out to work. Only this was the first morning that there was condensation on my window.

You know how kids like to write on the window with their finger when there is condensation? And you get to see that writing over and over again because the oils from their fingers prevent the condensation from collecting on those spots?

Well, apparently my friendly neighborhood bobcat had a message for me.

On my driver’s side window was a large paw print.

LARGE.

Like almost 4 inches across large.

VINDICATION!

I showed my husband. He was shocked. His wife wasn’t losing her mind after all!

Then he helpfully points out, “Why is it only on your car? I think he’s stalking you.”

In rushes the memories of B-movies and TV shows again. Why is it stalking me? Is it because it knows that I saw him? ARGGGHHHH

One of my favorite old movies is the original “Parent Trap” with Hayley Mills. In it, the girls trick their wicked stepmother-to-be, Vicky, into believing that the noise of hitting two sticks together will keep the wild animals away. So Vicky spends the entire camping trip hitting two sticks together.

Me.

Every morning for the past two weeks.

Enthusiastically rattling my keys, but pretending that it’s just the natural swing of my arm that is causing my keys to make noise.

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THE END

A Testimony…

Victory Moms

I recently shared this testimony at church and my hubs encouraged me to share it here, as well.

I modified the names to protect the innocent. (okay, not really) But I did edit it a bit.

It’s not my usual lighthearted fare, but perhaps it will speak to you.

************************************************************************

I am a mom of 3…
An almost 23 year old daughter, almost 16 year old son, and a 13 year old son.

I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior when I was fifteen and then rebelled for several years. Even at this point, some destructive patterns started to emerge.

Add in a bad relationship and my parents divorcing when I was nineteen years old, I started living a fast-paced, reckless lifestyle in which I learned that others really couldn’t be relied on…I needed to rely on myself.

Everyone trusted ME, but I couldn’t trust anyone with anything about me beyond the superficial stuff in life.

And I was okay with this.

Fast forward a few years …I met husband and we married. Neither one of us were walking with the Lord at this time.

I was still “running” all the time until, finally, the birth of my daughter slowed me down long enough to face my desperate need for God!

I recommitted my life to the Lord. We all started going to church. Shortly after that, husband accepted Jesus as His Lord & Savior.

We spent 8 years at our first church. We became heavily involved in ministry and I took on crazy, big projects at church that were way more than one person should do.

But I NEVER asked for help.
I started struggling with a medical condition during one of my biggest projects, but I shared it with no one except my husband. I kept on going. I never slowed down.

 

We felt called to homeschool and so I started homeschooling my daughter when she was four. I have been homeschooling ever since.

We owned an espresso cart that eventually went under, and so I started working as a caregiver during the hours that my husband didn’t work so we wouldn’t have to pay for childcare.

Even though we had very little money, I was determined to do as much as I could to make up for what I couldn’t afford in curriculum and other things in my daughter’s life. I would hand make many things because we couldn’t afford to buy new.

In my mind, there was no obstacle that was insurmountable. No problem I couldn’t fix or work around. I didn’t need help…we were doing just fine on our own.*

*I need to add that I am blessed with an amazing extended family who stepped in & hugely helped where they could. My whole point here is that I never really shared exactly how much we were struggling.

 

My life was a never-ending cycle of activity. Trying to do all & be all for everybody, including myself.

After having several miscarriages, I became pregnant & had my #2 child (a son). And then, 1.5 years later, I became pregnant with my youngest.

It was a challenging pregnancy & I was on partial bedrest. My husband took over my caregiving job in addition to his own job. My daughter took care of #2 child & me.

But we didn’t need help. We had it handled.

 

My youngest was born with medical difficulties & we spent the next 6 months at home. He had a cleft palate, so he couldn’t nurse or drink from a regular bottle. I pumped breastmilk for a year and used a special squeeze bottle to feed him.

But we made it through. No help needed. (refer to the * note above)

 

And all this time, we watched my #2 child regress. I knew in my heart that he was autistic, but when we were finally able to leave the home with my youngest & get him diagnosed, it hit like a ton of bricks.

The doctor said that we should try to get him into as many therapies as possible, but (by the way) insurance won’t cover it. And then when he is eighteen, we can put him in a home.

And we were put on a six-month waiting list for Children’s Hospital.

After two days, I decided to call Children’s to see exactly what we were waiting for.

Speech – Okay.

Physical Therapy – Okay.

Psychiatric Treatment – What?! I asked what that was for and the lady responded, “So we can know what medication we can put him on.”

The world stopped for a moment & I clearly heard in my head, “Not my child.”

So, I cancelled everything.

 

My husband always says that at this point it was like we “circled the wagons & hunkered down,” using his “old western movie” analogy.

I spent thousands of hours researching over the next several years. Many thousands of dollars were on natural treatments and therapies.

I was absolutely determined that I was going to have my son be healed. I declared it! I believed it!

And some of these treatments really did help. But in his later years, there became a point where we felt God prompting us to back off of most of them. Today, he still has many, many challenges.

 

So the years went by. No one really understood our struggles and we stopped trying to share.

There was never a simple answer to the question, “How are you doing?” and people’s eyes started to glaze over when we tried to be truthful, so we eventually didn’t answer it.

But our reality was:

  • I worked up to 50 hours weekly and my husband 40 hours weekly, opposite shifts
  • I homeschooled
  • I managed #2 child’s public school education (no small thing if you have a child with special needs!)
  • I managed the children’s medical stuff (also a humongous undertaking if you are dealing with special needs)
  • I taught at 2 different homeschool co-ops and headed up one of them

The results:

  • Many anxieties started cropping up
  • I lost, on average, 10-20 hours of sleep weekly
  • I missed church half of the time because of my work schedule
  • Our apartment was a disaster
  • I hardly ever cooked. My husband was (and still is!) a better homemaker than me

But we were making it. We did not need help.

 

Every time a new problem or obstacle came our way, I dug a little deeper. I worked a little harder.

I controlled everything & everybody. Every problem was fixable.

And, if I am being honest, I drove my family to be this way, too.

But all the while, cracks were starting to show in this armor that I created for myself.

Deep down, in a place that I would not show to anyone else, I knew I was going to fail.

That everything that I held up in my world was going to fall.

That I was going to reach a point where my strength was not enough.

I wasn’t going to be smart enough, strong enough, resilient enough.

And everything was going to fall apart.

I was going to break down.

And I was so afraid.

Sadly, it took over a decade for that breakdown to happen.

#ButGod!

It started with my daughter struggling in her late teens. And God stopped me from trying to fix her.

He so very clearly commanded me to do nothing but pray. And even if I had wanted to disobey, the Holy Spirit was right there stopping me.

And so at this point, I had to leave everything to God. And how faithful He was! The changes that happened over the course of the next year were amazing.

In my daughter. But not so much in me.

I had taken beginning steps, but only in this area.

I had so much more growing to do.

 

#ButGod

It wasn’t until my health really started to breakdown & I physically did not have the energy or ability to “do it all” anymore that I finally understood what God had been trying to show me all along.

I was never strong.

I never had it all under control.

All my fighting against all of the problems was really me fighting against letting Him be in control & fully be Lord of my life.

I have spent over half of my adult life fighting so hard to be strong that I refused to yield control over to the One that is TRULY strong.

I was never strong!! In fact, I was so much weaker because of relying on myself & not on God.

Over the last few years, I have learned to yield control over to God. I have in no way “arrived” yet, but I can look back at who I was yesterday and can praise the LORD for where I am today.

The Lord continually shows me new areas in my life that I need to yield to Him.

He knows all of my needs and all of my heart’s desires.

God has not failed me,

He is entirely trustworthy. I can truly rest in Him!

So that is really the heart of my message.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the “thorn in his side” that God did not take away.

Instead, He told him that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul chose to delight in his weaknesses so that Christ’s power rested on him. He said, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
On that same line of thinking, I would say that the reverse is true, as well:

All of the time I was trying to be strong, I was truly so very weak.

 

So my questions for you today are:

  • What areas of your life have you relied on your own “strength”?
  • What do you feel the Lord calling you to do today about these areas?

 

This One’s for You, TP!

BlogI feel a little guilty that I haven’t written for several months, a fact the Facebook keeps reminding me of almost weekly. It was easy to ignore it the first 50 times, but the last 100 or so have been slowly piling on the guilt. I would say that it is almost like Facebook is nagging me, but I refuse to personify social media, no matter how many times Facebook acts like it knows me by “intuitively” placing ads on my feed based on my recent browsing history. Honestly, it’s just downright creepy.

As much as I appreciate the faithful finger-pointing by my social media, it was not enough to get my creative blogging juices flowing again. I would occasionally run across something that was “blog-worthy”, but then the inspiration fizzled out as quickly as it came. Busyness & fatigue – my ever-constant companions – were not helping the matter, either.

So what finally got me off my proverbial pot & got me going on writing again?

I had the opportunity (& truly, the honor) of celebrating a longtime friend’s birthday & retirement after 37 years serving in the National Guard. What an awesome weekend! Filled with a baseball game, a party, and friends we haven’t seen in an age… general merriment and mayhem abounded. And, to top it all off, it was Bearded-Hat Night at the baseball game! Nothing screams elegance and style more than a piece of grey fur buttoned onto a stocking cap. Always looking to elevate our appearance, we proudly wore our caps for most of the evening (although I admit I wasn’t brave enough to keep the fur on).

We spent the two weeks prior trying to come up with a fun way to commemorate the events. What would set the right tone? Express our heartfelt appreciation and yet maintain a sense of dignity fitting for these momentous occasions? After much heated discussion, we settled on kazoos and full medieval regalia, complete with a crown, cape, & chalice. My hubs was able to dust off his announcer voice and deliver a heartfelt speech.

Our friend, ever the good sport, wore his crown & cape & drank out of his chalice for the rest of the evening. The game was slow, but conversation was not. Selfies, photobombs, popcorn-throwing, and dancing during breaks so we could maybe be caught on camera was all part of the fun. Truly a great night out! Absolutely worth the $30 we spent on parking & the $10 we spent on two bottles of water.

The next evening was the retirement party and we met with even more friends. It confirmed what I already suspected. My daughter has a far more interesting life than we do. Work, kids, and homeschooling…that’s all that we have to share with people and, because we choose to spare them the nitty-gritty details of our daily humdrum (hey, we got a great deal on Almond Milk at Fred Meyers the other day!), our contribution to any conversation would last all of 5 minutes if it weren’t for the exploits of our kids. Thankfully, our daughter’s two trips out of the country & being close to graduation makes our lives sound much more exciting, if only by association. Shout-out to the daughter for being cooler than her parents and thus not forcing us to resort to sharing about our physical ailments in order to keep the conversation going.

What stood out most of all was reading through the program from our friend’s retirement ceremony. I have heard him share things about his job over the years, but it barely scratched the surface of all that he has done…medals & honors he was awarded with…how many lives he has impacted. I’ve only ever known him in his civilian life – a fun-loving, loyal friend who always tells great stories and remembers to ask about the small details of our lives. It was a very eye-opening to read about his “other life”. All I can say is thank you, TP, for your service.

It is because of him that I finally got myself in gear & started writing this post. His simple question asking about why I haven’t written in a while achieved what FB tried but could not – motivation! So I (& you, hopefully) can thank him for that, too.

My Occasional Moments of Folly

folly

It was past 8 o’clock tonight & the kids were settling down. My husband & I went to relax in the bedroom & spend a few minutes sharing about our days at work. A typical evening.

I will admit that I love our bed. It is a California queen captain’s bed, is it big & pretty tall. High enough off of the ground that I have to jump up into bed.

Yes, I could get a step stool or a set of little stairs, but why? Unless I am sick, having to jump up into my bed is loads of fun & it’s brings me a little joy at the end of my day.

There’s lots of different ways to jump up onto the bed. I can jump up and land gracefully on one knee (okay, I don’t if it actually graceful, but in my mind it is). I can do a giant belly flop. Jump backwards & land in a sitting position on the edge of the bed. A side jump. The list goes on…

And if I am really tired & feeling goofy, I will make up a little “narrative” to go along with the jump. Which brings me back to tonight. I was in one of those goofy moods & was pretending I was about to do the vault jump in the Olympics.

The hubs, ever my faithful cheerleader, started to “announce” my vault to the studio audience. I raised my right hand to signal to the judges I was ready. I tried to focus, but the pressure got to me and I started to laugh. I stepped back to regain my composure.

After a moment, realizing that my composure was unlikely to be fully “regained”, I step into position and signaled to the judges again. I take a deep breath and…

Hubs flung himself over my side of the bed and shouted, “No, don’t do it!! You’re not ready & you are going to hurt yourself.”

Unfazed by my turncoat hubs, I stated with steely resolve, “Move out of my way, Benedict! I must complete what I have started.”

And thus, with a running start, I leapt high in the air (okay, “high” may be pushing the envelope here) and barely landed on the bed. Perfect landing foiled by Hubs & his naysaying ways.

And there you have it, folks! Just a little example of the kinds of things that amuse us here at the ol’ homestead.

Perhaps you are thinking that the hubs was being a bit overcautious. While I would like to agree with you, my prior history of injury-inducing foolish choices forces me to acknowledge that he may have a point.

Truly, I would love to say that I have outgrown those times in which impulse (or obstinacy) outweighs common sense, but moments like tonight indicate that my capabilities for such potential errors in judgment are alive and well.

I don’t recall that I was like this as a child? Maybe my sisters will weigh in on that one.

I do remember several less-than-brilliant moments in my adulthood…

Like the time I decided to play Marco Polo in small pool with large cement steps underwater. I still have a scar and an actual dent in my shin from that bit of foolishness.

Or the time, while on vacation, I was jumping in a bouncy house with my then two year-old daughter and I had a moment of true clarity – an epiphany, really: If I could just jump high enough, I could curl up my body & do a somersault in the air. Not that I had ever done one before. Needless to say, I still haven’t done one. I spent the rest of the vacation nursing a stiff neck & shoulder.

There was the time when I was getting ready to leave the church parking lot. I shifted the gear into reverse and then I saw that the trunk was open. I got out of the car to shut the trunk. Unfortunately, my car started rolling backwards because I forgot to shift back into park. Horrified, envisioning the bazillions of dollars of damage if the car rolled into the church, I dived into the open car door and managed put my hands on the brake and stop the car. Disaster averted. My shins still bear the scars of being dragged several feet across gravel.

And then there was the granddaddy of all of my foolish choices. Tapping into the self-delusion that I am stronger than I actually am, I agreed to help move a 25-gallon fish tank. That had a wrought iron frame. With all of the rocks in it. And it was half-full of water. The moment I tried lifting it and I felt my shoulder pull out ever so slightly, I knew that I done damage. Fast-forward a decade later, I am still paying the price for that one. My chiropractor thanks me for putting her children through college.

Sadly, there are many more examples I could share.

Apparently, my children have seen enough of these examples that they will scream from across the room, telling me not to do something, if they feel that I am about to engage in another moment of folly. Like standing on the counter to reach something. Or trying to move a dresser by myself. Small things like that.

There’s nothing quite like being lectured by your children. Especially when they are right. Or are they just uptight? Hmmm…

 

Warning: Random Thoughts & Unanswered Questions

Random Thoughts

Continue to read at your own peril.

Okay, not really.

As the summer is winding down, I have been reflecting on this last year and my life in general.

  1. After a several-year “hiatus”, resting solely on the excuse of being too busy, I finally started reading books for fun again. I have my daughter and Netflix to thank for this. So, a shout-out to my daughter for insisting I read her latest favorite book and a nod to Netflix for removing some of my favorite programming (Dr. Who, anyone?!) and not adding anything that I want to watch.

    My husband also started reading again, but, being an optimist where Netflix is concerned, splits his time between reading and browsing the Netflix catalog on the off chance that something view-worthy will pop out. So far, nothing. Personally, I think he just likes being in charge of the remote.

  2. With my oldest child moving out in the next month, my middle child about to start shaving, and my youngest finally surpassing me in height, it occurred to me that I really only have a few years left before all of my children are adults. The bulk of the “hands-on” parenting is behind me. That is heavy stuff indeed!

    I have started to share more about the early days of our married life with our children. The little details, you know? There are so many things I haven’t thought of in years! Who were those strange people of yesteryear?!! And where are they now?

    Well, I found out last week.

    My handsome hubs planned a lovely getaway for our anniversary (23 years!) One visit to Cabela’s, one Mrs. Pacman game, a midnight fire alarm, eight glitter tattoos, two meals in a divey diner, and a tour of the capitol later, I can safely say that those strange people of yesteryear have been here all along. A little dusty from being in storage, but nonetheless…

    Odd to find that the same random stuff that amused us over twenty years ago still amuses us today.

  3. After working as hard as I possibly can doing as much as I possibly can for the last decade, I have finally hit a point where I recognize that I can no longer keep up. I physically cannot push myself any harder. This is a huge realization for me. I honestly never thought I would be at this point.

    I have spent much of my adult life feeling that there is no problem that could not be overcome by more effort, more energy, more patience, more ideas, etc. When things got tough, I would dig deeper, try harder. And as things started spiraling out of my control the last few years, I began to ask for help and hand off things to other people to do (without me micromanaging it!!). I learned to let things that weren’t that important go and I whittled down my focus to the “necessary” and “life-giving to my family” categories. I applauded my efforts in not wasting time on frivolous stuff.

    Guess what? There was still too much for me to do, too much for me to deal with. In fact, there was even MORE THAN THERE WAS BEFORE I cut out things that did not fall into the aforementioned categories. How is that possible?

    During this last year, I have come face to face with the fact that the best that I can give is not enough. In fact, it’s not even close. The list of the many missteps and epic failures grows faster than even I can comprehend these days.

    Where is God in all this, you might ask? Where is my faith? Where is prayer? It’s always been there…always.

    In Proverbs 3:5-6, God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

    And, for the most part, that is how I have tried to live my life. It has certainly not always been easy. I have not always trusted like I should have and I have made many poor choices along the way. But, overall, yes…I have tried to live life trusting in and submitting to what I felt like the Lord was calling me to do.

    So why am I at this point? I have gone around and around with God on this. Trust and Submit. Okay, working on that.

    But the Lord brought a different verse to mind. Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

    “Trusting” and “submitting” are very different than “casting your cares.”

    The Hebrew root word of “cast” is “shalak”, meaning to throw out, down, or away (literally or figuratively); to cast, hurl, pluck, or throw.

    The Lord has shown me that although I trust and I submit to His will, I don’t usually cast away my cares. In fact, I hold onto them. If they are especially emotional or painful cares, I tuck them away into the deep recesses of my heart to avoid dealing with them, thus giving the impression that I no longer have those “burdens”. But that is not the same as getting rid of them. They are hidden away. And probably festering.

    So, this is as far as I have gotten. I’m not sure how it all is going to relate to me reaching the limit of my abilities. I would love to wrap this thought up into a neat little package with a victory at the end, but I am not there yet. I’m still working on the casting.

    Or hurling. Much more visually descriptive, don’t you think? And even more so if you apply a modern definition of “hurling” – throwing up. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I could just throw up all of my cares & be done with them?

And on that random thought, dear reader, I will bid you good night…

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