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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

If you teach a man to fish....

Opportunities knock.

To be in a unique place, time or relationship.

The most unexpected of blessings.   You weren't looking for it, asking for it or even thinking about it....and then there it is.   Out of nowhere, you are over the moon crazy about it.  You are willing to fight and sacrifice all while being totally baffled at how instant it was.   It changes you....how you see the world.

A random encounter last May at a wedding brought something completely off my radar and put it right in my face.  It was a God moment....one of those instances where He grips your heart and you cannot even conceive of not acting on the request.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that I'd be in the place I am right now.

Its a girl.

We have adopted her right into our hearts and love her like crazy.
Okay she isn't a girl.  She's a full grown woman.  A beautiful, 27 year old, blue eyed, sassy creation that loves the Lord and people in a way I've never encountered and she blows my mind every time she talks.

We adopted a missionary.

I didn't realize it all those months ago.  It's a small thing to do, I thought.  We agreed to be a regular supporter while she was in New Zealand for her second season, this time in leadership.  Working through YWAM first in a school setting then co-leading a group out into the mission field.

"Missionary." It always had this untouchable, strange, Mother Theresa vibe about it.....people who dressed funny and went out into the jungle and tried to bring Jesus to people who probably couldn't understand them.  It was a totally foreign, alien concept.  Probably because I really didn't think about it much....didn't really make time to even listen.

Now, my eyes are opened and I'm learning.  The phrase "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."  It just keeps coming to me.  She is raising up missionaries in a missionary school....in my ignorant nutshell of a description.  How beautiful is that?  One pebble tossed into the lake creates ripples but toss a handful of pebbles in and watch how far those ripples reach.

I never expected how profoundly it would effect me....us.  How it would expand our view of love...  How God's power would be on display.  How deeply touched my heart would be or how many tears I'd shed for this....near stranger that was becoming like a child to me.   Birthed into my heart.  How much God would expand my understanding of how He works.....across space and time and that He would choose me...me to speak comfort and love to someone on the other side of the world.  Something I thought was so small....was revealed to be much bigger than I ever anticipated.

It's been humbling, confusing and amazing all at once.

She's being called to go again.  This time she has a mere 6 weeks to raise the funds for a full year.   There's a travel visa to purchase, plane ticket, a new backpack to live out of on outreach....supplies I had no idea were needed.

I want to introduce you to her.
Our little missionary child....Mandi.
Prayerfully consider if the Lord may want you to help support her too.  I could not be more proud of her, who she is, her heart for the Lord or the way she loves people with every cell in her being.

This is a young woman who will change nations, one heart at a time.


Blessings to you of abundance, grace and a cup that overflows.
the Mrs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Out of the muck.

Analysis paralysis.

A good friend asked the Facebook world if they have those moments when everything gets so overwhelming that you just freeze because you have no idea where to start.  One of the comments named the moment: Analysis paralysis.   Quite clever, accurate really.

The timing was interesting as just the day before I was having one of those days.  The world felt heavy.  I was in my head, trying to keep a million plates spinning.  This typically results in an outward display of nothingness....as all my hard work is in my head and my body just can't follow that act.

I've experienced this a million times and typically the result has been me wallowing in the muck. My nature is to nurture and sometimes I can get a little lost in the needs of those around me.  Wallowing in the muck only produces more muck in my attitude.   I would go to this place of self pity.  A "Where am I in all this?  Look at all the good that I do! What about ME!" place.  Its ugly and worldly.  A "lookit me" display of epic proportions, danced out in my head with interpretive ribbon dances and wildly cheering fans (generally they are all me as well).  Interpretive dance....frankly, it makes me laugh inappropriately.   It's ridiculous.  Somehow, the Lord gets in there and grabs my face, pulling my attention away from myself just long enough that I can snap out of the prideful haze I've created.
 
This time, I changed the game.  This time I chose to look at it from another angle.  This time I felt myself slipping into the muck and said No.  Not this time.  Instead I took time to stop and feel overwhelmed and then ask myself why, what was so big?  I started to talk with the Lord about what I was feeling and the extensive list in my head.......some were tasks, some were people in general that were weighing on my heart, some were upcoming events and things needed to plan for, frustration at playing calendar cop and getting nowhere, Christmas shopping, people asking for help or guidance, people placed on my heart to intercede for, Mr studying like crazy for the next test and then leaving for a week of training, gifts to make, regular household duties and cooking.....there was sooo much going on in my head!

First, I needed it out of my head.  I pulled out a notebook and laid it on my desk with a pen.  At the top I wrote "Write it down - THEN sort it out".   I moved though the next few hours of general tasks just thinking, talking with the Lord about everything and as something was brought to mind, on the list it went.  Slowly the overwhelming feeling started to release.  As it did, I started to become aware that I was overwhelmed because I was trying to be in charge of it all.  I was trying to keep all the plates spinning by myself.  Instead.....I should have taken the plates down and put them in His hands to hold....the only safe, unbreakable place.

My perspective started to shift.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed I started to feel incredibly blessed.....overwhelmingly blessed.  Instead of feeling self important, I felt humble.....how blessed am I that people trust me with their heart, count on me for guidance, stability and support?  People have confidence in me and feel safe to be vulnerable with me, trusting that I will comfort them and remind them of His Truth in their life.  ......suddenly, instead of feeling prideful and puffed up......I became keenly aware of how utterly insufficient I am apart from Him.  There is nothing I can do for any of them without Him.  A whole new kind of "overwhelmed" came over me.  Suddenly, it all looked different.

It was still a full page of "stuff" to figure out.  There are still a lot of tasks to try and manage.  The "stuff" didn't change, but how I see it did.  Did the heaviness disappear instantly?  No.  It got a lot lighter and still is.....but that's because I'm still loosening my grip on it.  Still translating inside what I'm trying to keep control of, what my job actually is.

Reminding myself that its not about me.  Even when I want it to be.  I'm just a tool.  Time to clear the muck out of the conduit, ensure the lines are clear so there's no more interference.

"Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."   ~ John 14:27


Blessings for clear lines, clear perspective and only blessings that are overwhelming.
the Mrs.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

the cake to my diabetic soul.

"The Devil knows just what I like and just how I like it." ~ Deon Sanders

I'm not typically given to quoting athletes but I heard him say this once and it struck me as a deep truth to remember.  So into my quote book it went.

It comes to mind often....surprisingly often actually.  One of those things that makes me aware of the Lord's deep caring of my character.  The Devil may know my buttons to push but the Lord knows me, as a whole person and provides the reminders He knows that I need.

Have you ever taken a class on spiritual gifts? When I first took the class I'd never heard of "spiritual gifts" before, even having attended christian schools all my life.  It was new to me and it opened my eyes to how specially the Lord had been working in my life in a way I'd not been equipped to see before.  My relationship with the Lord became more intimate and I saw that I had a useful purpose in life - I was useful to Him!  It was a major marker in my faith walk.  Like with anything though it can have it's drawbacks.

While taking this class was tremendously positive, it lacked a firm focus on the fact that gifts are only a tool.  We are tools and like a hammer, are only useful if the carpenter picks us up to use us.  Gifts are not individual super powers to be used willy nilly.  They do not make one person more important or special than another.  A hand is no more important than a foot.  We don't praise the hammer for pounding the nail, we praise the carpenter for his skills in knowing just the right tools to use.  It should be the same with us.  We are only as useful as our relationship is close to Him.  The farther we get the more rust forms and we don't quite function as accurately or efficiently as we could.

The farther we get, the more credit we take, the more we depend on ourselves instead of Him.   Suddenly we find ourselves as a hammer on a bench glowing about how wonderful and awesome we are, yet completely useless.  Nonfunctional and totally unaware of how far we've slipped.

Been there, done that.

The thing is, we help each other get there too.  We give each other credit for the amazing things that happen as a result of our prayers.  I'm rambling off target again, I know but stay with me.  When we know what someones gift is, we give them the credit instead of God. We reduce them to that gift, tie them to it and limit them to its use.  People have often referred to me as a "Prayer Warrior".  A title that indulged my gluttonous ego. I loved it and it sucked me in to a place where I felt powerful and singled out......and every time it would cause me to stumble and fall face first into the fluffy frosted sweetness.  My gift became my badge, my identity and then who I was as a whole person seemed to disappear to everyone - including me - except God.  In His wisdom He would pull me away from whatever I was doing and set me back into a sort of "time out".   Seclusion, not isolation, but a quiet time where opportunities for me to put my foot in my mouth were farther apart, compliments were not needed, where silence helped me review and see things with new eyes, talk to Him, confess and repent...again.  Followed by a refreshment and a newly adjusted perspective.  I've been in an extended time out.  He's shown me what ministry He wants me to do and cleared me of assumptions and rules I thought I needed to follow.  He stopped my running after peace and made me sit and experience it as He put it in my lap.

He's shown me my weakness and He's shown me how it is fed.  Compliments and credit.  Now He is teaching me how to turn my weakness into a way to glorify Him.  I've so much to learn here....how to phrase a correction, turn a compliment into a praise of Him...redirecting their attention to Him and off of me.  Some respond with an intense tone that I need to stop being so "humble" and accept the praise and ownership that He has blessed me with "tremendous gifts".   No.  Here is the plain ugly truth:

I am as arrogant and prideful as they come.   Jesus and the Devil both know it too.  Compliments turn me into a fat kid in a room full of cake and no supervision.  Jesus knows I have to turn my nose up at a compliment like its poison because the temptation to stuff my pride with those luscious words is too great a detriment to my diabetic soul.  

How to handle those moments?  I haven't mastered that yet.  Right now I think I verbally flail around until the delectable morsel ends up knocked in the dirt.  It's awkward and ungraceful....and can border on offending.  On the upside I didn't devour it.......though sometimes I do secretly dig it out of the dirt.  While my spirit is covered in dirt filled frosting I turn to Him and don't even have to say "oops I did it again".  He knows.

When you know the Lord has used someone in your life to bless you......affirm them by telling them that the Lord has used them in a mighty way to bless you in your life.  Share it with them but give credit where credit is due.....to Him and Him alone.  

"The Devil knows just what I like and just how I like it." 

Frosted.

Blessings of grace and truth, moments of beauty free from flailing.
the Mrs.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

can't escape my own awesome

Okay, so I suck at this whole blogging on a regular basis business.   It's not that I don't think of it, it's just that when I do I start posting in my head and then "oh shiny" and it's all gone like someone bumped the etch-a-sketch and I'm like whatever, it's all messed up and now I have nothing to say.

What have I been doing?  Being awesome.

I know, modesty.  Anyhoo...so I made pickled veggies upon request from a friend.  Apparently they were awesome and that made me awesome and now that's the only reason they are friends with me.  They did it all for the pickles.   See....they say I'm awesome.

These same pickle lovin peeps had a party last friday.  I made vegan sugar free, dairy free banana bread.....oh dear, I don't recommend it.  It tasted great but the texture was....goobery....that's accurate as I can get it.  In the garbage it went.  It was an Xbox 360 party because they just got one.  My guys were beyond excited and I was all oh geez here we go, I'll never hear the end of how awesome it is and they will drive me crazy. I do have to disclose that we currently have a deal going with the Dude.  When he was really sick - I think I posted about this - we discussed with the doctor what his healthy weight range was and the conclusion was that he needed to lose a little over 20 lbs.  She didn't want him doing anything about it until he was back to normal of course but she actually said that an Xbox 360 with Kinect was a great way to go for someone who wasn't really into competitive sports and had a hard time finding purposeful ways to be active.  Doh.  So that's when the guys really started to amp up the "but Mo-om!"  I was all "no way" but as cold weather started to approach and we realized that the Dude needs some motivation we decided to strike a deal.  If he could lose half of the total pounds he needs to lose, we will get the Xbox to help him finish losing the rest.  Once we own it a minimum of 50% of anything played on the system is required to be physical.  In other words, I better not catch you sitting down.  He is doing well so far and I think the party was good motivation now that he has a taste of it.

We played a party game that randomly selected different sports that two teams competed at.  We had two teams of 4.  I was impressed with how accurate the Kinect was in reading the movements.  Also it was awesome to not have to hold a controller.

I am the boxing champ.  I was defeated only once....the very last match when my arms simply wouldn't move right anymore.  It was hilarious and my arms were complete and total jello at the end.  Also, they were sore for days.  Also.....I admit, reluctantly, that I loved it.  It was so cool and so much easier without controllers.

Last night the guys decided to pull out the boxing game we have for wii and start working on their skills cuz momma whooped em both!  So now I have to get back into it to stay ahead of them.  I forgot how fun it is I haven't been working out like that for a long time.  I believe my level of soreness revealed that quite nicely too....   Also....I hit myself in the face several times with the cord.....have I mentioned that not having controllers was really nice?  Guess who's on the band wagon?

I did find this crazy killer core workout that is super easy to do at home, no equipment or anything!
I found it on pinterest and then tracked it to the original posters blog.  WOW.  This chick is ripped and amazing.  Really inspiring.  Check it out here:  The Petite Athlete

The 30-day challenge ends today.  I'm looping back around to start it all over again.  The scripture is great and I feel like I need to work on more of the details of the challenge.  There was this amazing clarity that came through about attitude in general and I really felt that this 30 days ended up being about changing and growing me.  Widening my eyes about my own attitude and becoming more aware of my words and examining what they reflect about what is going on in my heart.   Now I'm going to do it again and try to be more deliberate in the areas that I fell short - the more specific statements and encouragements that were supposed to be delivered to Mr.  I don't think he missed them but he certainly deserves them.

I'll try to be back sooner.
Seriously.

Blessings of challenges met, eyes widened and a great big deep breath of awesome in your day!
the Mrs.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

a random kinda week

Tis a week where routine flew out the window as if it was it's only hope of survival.

Mr is still studying his rear off and is actually ahead of schedule.  He's doing great!  We had our first work dinner - a welcome dinner.  It was wonderful and I couldn't stop smiling and nodding as his regional leader described the way the company works, the culture of how people interact with each other and how families are appreciated.  So much confirmation that this has been the right move for our family in general but even more-so for Mr to be able to merge into this wonderful work environment that so suits him.  Makes the transition even more exciting!  No delusions that the first 2 years won't be difficult but when you know that you are where the Lord wants you, even difficult times come with great peace.

Halloween is over - and I'm grateful. November is here and finally joining its temperatures that arrived ahead of it.

Remember that "Daily Do's" worksheet I made for myself?  I now have 3 100 sheet notepads of it!  I'm kinda excited about that...go figure.  I know....I'm a nerd.  But it is super helpful to have a reference point and all things on one page.  Sure makes my day go more smoothly!   Well....when the rest of the house is normal anyway....which has NOT been this week!

The 30-day challenge is on day 18 now - this morning I realized I totally forgot to read yesterdays!  Whoops!  I've decided that I'm going to loop it and start all over from the beginning when its done.  I love the insights and the daily challenges but I am finding that the broader applications are actually distracting from the more specific actions with my Mr.  An attitude of encouragement toward him is less of a challenge for me, it's one I've intentionally worked on for many years.  It has actually been challenging me in how I treat and encourage the world I encounter.  How I think, speak and generally interact with everyone.  Its really neat how it seems to be affecting all the women in the same way, opening up how their mind works, paying attention to their attitude in general.  The feedback has been really fun to read and quite similar.   In eliminating the ability to be negative and intentionally speaking positive it is affecting how they think, feel and generally interact with people.   VERY COOL!

While I am supposed to be encouraging my Mr....I came home from errand day to find a surprise on the counter of beautiful pink roses and a seriously sweet card from him!  It was so neat!  Then as I finished up putting things away he came up to comment that he had a couple things to talk about and as I rounded the corner there was a little gift bag sitting on the coffee table!  The stinker had run out while I was gone to do all this.  In the gift bag was a new iPod Touch 5!  I was totally shocked and didn't know what to say!  There were lots of giddy hugs and crazy shocked faces from me!  What a neat unexpected blessing!  I do not have a cell phone, nor do I want one but, I did have his old iPod touch.  We are absolutely awful about pictures.  One day our kids are going to give us a really hard time about that!  The ipod simply didn't have enough megapixels to take decent quality pictures and we know that a camera just isn't going to get used.  So his phone and my ipod  are our family cameras.  I had tried ordering prints of pictures I had taken and they couldn't even be printed due to the poor quality.  The Dude started campaigning for mom to get a new ipod so he could get the hand me down. :)  Needless to say, he is THRILLED that mom got a new ipod! HA!

I knew a new ipod would be nice but as I am learning how to better put it to use, I am realizing the greater blessings that comes with it.  The ability to set reminders, organize calendars, send notes and reminders to family, use siri to dictate spontaneous things.....my broken brain is so blessed by these applications!  To be able to set a reminder for my son for after school and eliminate the struggle to try and remember it all day is huge!  Yes, writing it down is good but that means I also have to remember to read it and then speak it later....which more often than not doesn't happen during that frame of time it needs to.   I am so excited to have a tool to help me remember things!

I'm feeling good and like getting this week back on the tracks!  I have some organizing things I want to do - new folders and things to revamp my home binder and some cork tiles for the inside of the cupboard.

Blessings on your day for beauty and excitement in all the small things!
the Mrs.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Witnessed in Target....

A family scoping out the dollar section, both kids (aged about 11-13) trying on turkey hats.   ....all smiles and laughter.......I smiled right back at them.

A young, frustrated mom with a 2-3 year old.  Angry voiced and ordering...I heard the 1-2-3 loud and clear at least 4 times from the other side of the isle wall.  Empty threats were made.....at every location I saw them.   Angry voice and a near empty cart.   .....put him in the cart, your angry voice won't be needed and maybe he will see his mommy smile from there......I wanted to say.

A gentleman on a cell phone greets the person on the other end with "Hello, love of my life! I just found something....."  .....I smiled as I wandered away thinking of my own Mr.

Another young mom with a little one, closely supervising him inspect picture frames.  The language was gentle but firm.... "Be careful please, we must be gentle with things that can break."  ......careful, positive instruction warms my heart.   

Two separate women on an ear-bud type phone....talking loudly.   ......both make me chuckle.....I wonder if they realize how crazy they appear.

I wandered with a smile on my face.   Each person whose eye I met received a smile just for them.  Some seemed a bit befuddled and others lit up with their own.

A smile.  It is a free gift to the world that keeps on giving.

Blessings to you for miles of smiles that emanate from within and pass on the blessing to others.
the Mrs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

organizing my thoughts...

...and my day.

Yesterday was one of those days where I wish there was some kind of Bean-O for the brain.   I couldn't seem to maintain any train of thought and caught myself just sitting there or wandering trying to figure out what on earth to do next.  I wanted to do none of it.  It was the brain fartiest of days.

So in an attempt to wake the sleeping hamster in the wheel I had two cups of coffee.  It didn't work.  Yes, I know, I "gave it up" but I'm not blindly cutting things out for all time so that I feel restricted.  I'm making choices.   Coffee is not a "can't" it's a "I don't want it daily".  Though, in the last week I've been hitting that slump that comes when sleep hasn't quite been as restful or long as it should be for too many days.  So I've been reaching for what is easy and tastes oh so yummy.   So yesterday, in a brief moment of coffee induced clarity, I realized that the coffee was probably part of the problem.  My water intake hasn't been where it usually is either.  I've not dropped to a point where I can push the precious save button on the scale in a couple of weeks and I've not been as organized in my work day as I'd like to be.

Time to get organized!

I use a planner and calendar.  But that really isn't enough.  I have my pre-made seasonal schedules that are a great guide but on a day to day basis - especially while so much is still shifting in this season of transition - I need something daily that I can modify.  There are scriptures I feel drawn to spend time in, blog posts I think I should write, people I should connect with and because it is basically just floating around in my skull it's not happening.  What I do know is that when I get really organized and get it out of my head and visually onto paper, I am much more efficient with managing my day, time and tasks.  The wonderful result is that my interactions with people become deeper and more intentional.

I need something daily.  Something to fill out and check off as I go.  Yep, I ended up on Pinterest.  I know.....you knew it.    I ended up at Simple Mom and found her free printable "Daily Docket".  It was oh so close to what I wanted but needed some modification to fit my goals.

Yep.....I'm a technological genius and have no idea why this came out sideways.  Nor how to change it.

But I'm guessing you can get the idea.  Basically this is my first try and I already have modifications I want to make.   Essentially what you see is: Top left - water intake.  I use 20oz bottles so I have 3 water glasses to check off.  The narrow bar on the top right is for the day or date.  Left column: "training ~ focus" is for a scripture or thought that I'm focusing on.  Right now that would be the verse of the day for the 30-day challenge. "Events" - meetings, tests, birthdays etc - highlight items to be aware of.  "Priority Items" - things that need to get done if nothing else does. "Daily's" - this would be where my seasonal schedule comes in.  Here is where I will put my regular daily household tasks.  These are to be done first before other tasks, I'll get to that one in a minute.  Right hand column: "meet Me here" - scripture, devotional, whatever I'm pulled to or working through.  "Whats for dinner" - I think that one is easy....but there is also a "prep" spot there so I know if I need to pull something out to thaw or the prep might take extra time.  "Connect with" - emails, phone calls etc.  "Organizing extras" - this is the project area.  The space where those random things creep into the day that I want to tackle but distract me from my "daily's".  Now, I can write it down and once the daily's are done, I can move on to this spot.  "Tomorrow" - things that didn't get done, extras I don't want to forget or just reminders.  The bottom has a "sometime this week" spot for random things.  

I'd like to redistribute some of the space, the "daily's" box is larger than I need and a "Notes" area would be helpful so I don't have random notebooks all over with things written that I find a month later....  Keeping things in one place where I can address it and organize it in conjunction with my planner will stream line things and free up extra time that I would otherwise spend wandering about the house between chores.  Not to mention the amount of notebooks lying around.  I might even get more of those "52" things checked off! 

Today will be the test run, notes on how to modify it and such and see just how much it helps.  Granted today is not a day full of tasks.  I'll be pickling veggies at the request of a friend but today is officially "food processing/cooking day" so it works.  I don't always use it as such but today I will. 

Blessings for organized productivity to you, with dashes of inspiration.
the Mrs.












Saturday, October 20, 2012

30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge - day 5

It's been an odd kind of week.  The first week of the big transition......it totally would have been nice for it to start off on a relatively normal week.  On the plus side it's been a good opportunity for the kids to see how to encourage someone.  They have been around to watch me prepare cards and little treats and see his face when he sees all three of us come down the stairs with a card we all signed and a mason jar full of chex mix that Wonderteen made.  These are the moments they learn from.  Today they might be small but my hope is that they will stick and one day emerge in their own marriage, illuminated by a whole new perspective on what it meant.

Yesterday's verse: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Eph. 4:29

(Note: As I share about this challenge I'll be speaking about the prior day...because, lets face it I'm not going to give away the days surprises.  I know that Mr reads this and there will be no spoiler alerts!)

This "Husband Challenge" feels more far reaching than I anticipated.  Its not just applicable to our husbands but to the world we encounter.  Family, friends, strangers....anyone who happens to be in front of us.  One of the effects I've noticed (but not been pleased with) is that where I've been disciplining myself to not bring down my husband, my words and tone have been a bit more negative with our kids.  I'm trying to be more aware of what that is, why that is and trying to be aware of it before it is spoken instead of after.  It could be due to the nature of this week......never truly alone, the sound of cartoons in my ear (like right now I have Spongebob yelling in my ear because the TV in the living room is literally 3 feet to the left of my desk), its not been a good week for sleep - Mr is restless and each night my sleep is filled with dream after intense dream that leaves me tired in the morning but without memory of what they were other than it was crazy intense.

The Lord is stirring something within me during this time that I can only describe as intense because I don't have direction for it.  My desire is to get into my bible to listen and search but the house is just not equipped to provide the quiet I need at this time.  Do you ever have those times where He just plants words, phrases and comments from all kinds of random sources that seem to be lit up in neon to pay attention to?  That's what He's up to in my life right now.   In that place where I know He is up to something because my spirit is so agitated that I can physically feel it....buzzing....vibrating with....I'm not even sure what yet.

There inlays an additional challenge.....pursue whatever this is that the Lord is pressing in with while maintaining an intentional focus on my husband without falling into a temptation to direct all my focus onto what the Lord is doing in my own life. Also....attempting to carve out moments to address these things with Him, seek out the scriptures He is presenting even though the timing is not convenient.... Maybe....these are part of the experience......testing my focus, working out those muscles of discipline and awareness.  The Lord is never singularly focused.  He is the multitasker of all mutitaskers. :)

Today, focus will be on my Mr.  It's his birthday today!  He has roughly a half day of studying but after that it will be a day of spoiling and fun!  I can't wait to give him his gifts and see his face.  He's been working so hard and has had focus I know that I couldn't pull off in his shoes, watching him makes me burst with pride and love and I may easily become the gushiest wife on the planet that makes people want to hurl.

But that's okay, I don't mind.

Blessings to you of edifying speech, a guard over your mouth that only allows passage to words filled with grace.
the Mrs.  








Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30-Day Challenge Day 2

What a week to start....filled with opportunity to encourage and test my self discipline.

It's Mr's birthday this coming weekend.  Monday started his first day of his new job - which is basically to study his brains out so he can pass his series 7 and 66 exams before Christmas.  It also happens to be MEA week here and the Dude is off school Wednesday through Friday and Wonderteen will be here tonight for a bit, then off to a church group sleepover and then back here during the day tomorrow.  During all this Mr needs to be studying downstairs in his new home office.  

He has a rigorous schedule to keep up with.  Daily quizzes and tests need to be accomplished and the schedule is 6 days a week.  This was an opportunity to set up a nice space for him downstairs.  I purchased black shelves and frames for the wall, ordered some prints from Shutterfly so he can have some nice pictures on the wall and set up a buffet surface with some healthy snacks, tissues, paper plates and such just like he had in his work office.  Uncluttering was maybe the biggest job as that particular area had become a catchall for the random things removed from other areas of the house.  Now he has a nice chair and coffee table along with his desk area so he can have a change of pace.

His birthday Saturday offers opportunities to bless him.  I decided to have fun with it and give him little gifts each day leading up to it.  Yesterday was flowers and a hilarious card that talks - "the pocket hot dog", it made us both laugh.  

The kids being home this week will present unique challenges.  Extra traffic to the basement shower, extra volume and footsteps....boredom and bodies upstairs in my space.  The practice of editing my words has been something I've been working on for many years now.  My mother was very negative and berating of my father.  Early in our marriage we both recognized those patterns coming through in my speech and it made neither of us happy.  In the beginning it was as if I had no control of it or clue as to how to choose different words.  My mind saw the down side, the 'poor me', finger pointing perspective all too easily.  If I couldn't edit my thoughts how would I ever edit what came out of my mouth?

My journey began there to change my view of the world, my circumstances and fully embrace the fact that all things are a choice.  My free will goes beyond just my ability to choose the Lord or reject Him.  I have the choice to train my mind.  I can choose how I see a situation, how I receive and react to words spoken to me, I can choose what I say and how I feel and what I think.  It is ALL a choice and to believe anything less is a lie, an excuse to not put in the work it takes.  

"out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" 
Matt 12:34b

What is the abundance of your heart?  Listen to your words and you'll find out.   If you think it isn't an accurate reflection.......look closer.  Either you are lying to yourself that your heart is filled with something other than it is, you are in denial about the tone of your words or you need to seriously ask yourself why your heart and your mouth don't match.  

It is a change that takes a lot of work.  I think when Mr told me that I had a joyful spirit I finally felt like I had purged out that person I thought I was genetically doomed to be.  I know there is a whole nature vs nurture theory but beyond my physical looks I choose to believe that what is in me, who I am, is not and will never be beyond my control to choose.  

So in this challenge I am encouraging my husband but I am also gifting him with an improved wife in the process.  A wife whose attitude is improved by the training of her mind.  

Things are in a big transition in our home and family.  This challenge couldn't come at a better time...time to train up my mind and make sure my attitude stays in check.  This is a time to not allow my circumstances to give me permission to be sour but to hold my mind and my tongue captive to obey Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)  It is not my job to measure myself against another but to do and be what He asks of me.

Blessings to you for the discipline to hold your mind captive and discover the abundance of your heart, 
the Mrs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A 30 Day Challenge.

Okay so maybe I didn't make it back yesterday...

A new challenge has presented itself.  One entirely different from the last.  Not about food, weight or exercise...or is it?  

The food would be His Word.
The weight would be the responsibility.
The exercise would be discipline...of the mind and the tongue.

While meandering through Pinterest last week I ran across a pin with a sweet looking picture of what appears to be a bride and groom sitting in the back of a truck bed at sunset.  The comment under it simply said "30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge".  Intrigued, I followed the links.

What I found was something scriptural, focused genuinely on building up the man, daily entries were short and to the point, convicting without being condemning and gave a daily challenge that was entirely doable but also stretching.  My first reaction was to simply pin it to my "for our marriage" board and check it out later.  The Lord seemed to have other plans.  It didn't just sit quietly at the back of my brain.  It jumped full force to the front of my brain with full out jazz hands that could not be ignored.  A list of wives slowly came to mind....some who would simply enjoy the beauty that it existed and others who would love the guide and encouragement to the season in life they are in.  Share it.  So I did.

My expectation was at zero.  I thought I'd share it and if I got any response back it would be a "Thanks, that's neat!"  and nothing else.  What I got.....was much more.  Inbox messages of thanks and confession of struggling in the area.  Requests to do this as a group and support each other.   Surprise was about all I could muster at first.....then I had to chuckle at the Lord a bit.  He knows my passions, He knows my buttons and where to get me.  This would be it.  Being a godly wife by the Book is one of my greatest passions, held second only to my passion at being as consistently Christ-like as I can be - which I am significantly less successful at.  But the two connect and stretch each other....and encouraging another wife in this area is exciting.  Four, is even more!

Yesterday was our first official start date.  On day One the two challenges are set up:

  1. You can't say anything negative about your husband...to your husband...or to anyone else about your husband.
  2. Say something that you admire or appreciate about your husband...to your husband and to someone else about your husband.
What came to my mind was "hold your mind captive to the obedience of Christ" the verse in 2 Corinthians 10.  So When I went to look it up I found that all of Chapter 10 was just pure goodness on this subject.  Not specifically for wives but on the discipline of the mind and how that is so important.  A mind run loose is a dangerous thing and it can trample anyone, yourself included.  

Sound interesting?  Want to join in?

Blessings for a disciplined mind and tongue and encouragement that flows easily from and to you.
the Mrs.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Mission Accomplished.


Welcome to my garage....the party went beautifully and we had SO much food!  I did manage to take pictures before everything got started but as per usual, we forgot to take any pictures of anything during the gathering.  We are awful about pictures!  And the quality of mine are not so good as I'm using my old ipod touch. 

But here's how I set things up:
<-  This is the view from the side door, what you'd see as you entered.  Mr hung my garden sheets along the back wall so it would look nicer than staring at shelving and lawn equipment.

Two tables were put together in the middle - I wanted to make sure that conversation could flow and no one's back was to anyone during dinner.  On the other side is a seating area I set up so if people got tired of sitting at the table there were more comfortable chairs.



The "Rescue Center".  Tums, mints and tissues.  This was just as you entered the door.  There were also folded 3x5 cards and a sharpie for people to record what their dish was.

The start of the feast.  My Garden Bench converted to buffet.   An old burgundy flat sheet covered everything perfectly. At the right, is the start - silverware, large disposable plates and napkins.
 The end before all the desserts got there. Smaller plates, more napkins and a sharpie. I covered the tool bench with brown craft paper and on this area people wrote on the craft paper what the dish was!  It was slick!  I also put out a bowl of apples...granted that was more for me than others because I couldn't eat much but I wasn't the only one who had one. :)






Here is a shot of the two tables put together.  Those are not table cloths....they are curtains!!  I found them on clearance and bought a coordinating kitchen towel to go down the center.  Cheap and a perfect fit!  Now I can reuse them next year and for other parties too! 


















Here is what the center of the tables looked like.  Extra napkins under the pumpkins, candles floating in mason jars with cranberries and two sets of salt and pepper so no one needs to reach or pass.








The bar area.  A few things for mixing, a recycle bin, alcoholic drinks in the white cooler and non in the red.  There were some napkins, stir sticks and more mini pumpkins and candles.  This is actually an old sewing machine cabinet that I bought a few years ago from Goodwill but my machine never made it in there so....I'm giving it up to the fire pit.  It made a nice cocktail table though!





The final shot - warmth.  The silver cylinder you see is a borrowed propane heater.  It worked SO wonderfully that people didn't need coats!  We even opened the side door a few times.  It was wonderful.  The two laundry baskets you see are filled with blankets and extra sweatshirts - just in case.  Didn't need any of them.




It was so much fun and I laughed so hard that my voice got all gravely like I was an old smoker.  My face hurt and so did my abs.  Best work out there ever was! :)  

The list of food, you ask???  Okay, here it is.... Stuff made with beer:  Thai Chili, Corn bread, Fruit Salsa, Pulled BBQ Chicken, Pork sliders, Garlic basil mashed potatoes, Mac and Cheese, Peanut Brittle, Vanilla pudding Bunt Cake, Chocolate cupcakes, jello shooters.  Non - beer foods: Vegan sloppy joes, apple slab pie.     Honestly I think I'm forgetting things.....there was that much food!

Blessings for a wonderful week to you!
the Mrs.

I may be back later today for another post on a whole other surprise challenge that came up!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Challenge accepted.

Sometime early this year.....or perhaps late last year but at some point in the past I cannot exactly pinpoint...we gathered a few friends to a challenge.  My Mr and a guy friend started to chat about beer and somehow ended up on cooking and the two fell together into a vote I wasn't there for.

We had our first Beer Dinner challenge - the Beta test.  I know, the name is entirely too creative.  Not entirely sure how well it would go, we moved forward and everyone was asked to come up with a dish, dessert or whatever they could think of, that they could infuse beer into.  The Beta Test was a Surly challenge.   It was all about one brand of beer and using any of the flavors they make.  The results were outrageously, ridiculously amazing.  People drooled and raved and broke out in the meat sweats and fell into swollen belly comas while laughing way too hard.  A second event was demanded.

You're curious aren't you.....you want to know what on earth was so good we needed to do it a second time.   Here's a list to the best of my memory:  Bender beef stew, Coffee Bender chili (I think), beer bread, Chocolate cake with bender frosting, Coffee Bender Chocolate Cheesecake, Furious Glazed Salmon Puffs (Profiteroles were also made with Furious), Bender Bacon Mushroom Meatloaf (pretzels instead of bread crumbs), Coffee Bender marinated steaks rubbed with a coffee brown sugar dry rub, Abrasive Jello Jigglers,   salad with....a dressing made with beer I can't remember and I know there's more I'm forgetting.  But you get the point.

This weekend will be Beer Dinner 2.0.  Any beer is fair game and the guest list doubled.  The Mr and I get a tad carried away....our list has topped out at 8.   So far I have Hell Fire Pickles and Furious Peanut Brittle.  The Toffee kinda went all wrong so attempt #2 will be today along with the much demanded Bender Bacon meatloaf I made last year, the sober-Vegan Sloppy Joes and Amazeballs.  I'll be in the kitchen if you need me....for the rest of the week.  Tomorrow I clean the house, make the jigglers and any last minute cooking things I can think of.  Then Saturday will be the Rogue Doughnut pork sliders, the 21+ Mac n Cheese and decorating the garage for the event.

Here's the funny part.....ya know all those food issues I have? I can't eat any of the food with beer in it.  Thus...the "sober" vegan sloppy joes and Amazeballs.  I'm actually thinking I'll be doing a gluten free Apple Slab pie too since one of our friends is gluten free and I'm not sure how much she will be able to eat either.  So the challenge for me is to cook things I can't eat or taste and have them actually turn out not only edible but tasting of awesome.....because, lets face it, I do have a reputation to uphold.

On other challenge notes......what do you do when you don't really own table cloths (I know, I know, my membership to womanhood should be revoked, but I'm okay with that) but are trying to make a party in your garage not look like.....a party in your garage....   You opt for creative solutions.  Knowing that this party will most likely become an annual event I made the executive decision that I need to get supplies that will be reused so I am not spending a fortune on disposable table stuff every year.  I was on a mission to find some nice table cloths I could use over and over in fall-ish colors.   Much to my dismay I found that all table cloths of any decent size were at least $16 and I need at least 3.   Time to employ creativity.  I found 3 clearance curtain panels in chocolate and eggplant for less than $10 a piece, a clearance set of napkins (to use under candle centerpieces) for $5, 3 different kitchen towels for $4 and a few candles from the dollar store will get things looking a bit nicer and smelling a bit less "garage".  A bag of cranberries, some tea-light candles freed from there little metal containers, some raffia and mason jars will be the center pieces along with the tiny little pumpkins I got last week.

I will do my best to take pictures......but we know I suck at doing that.

I'm excited to see if we can pull this off......well.....okay I know we can easily pull it off but I'm actually excited to see if I can pull off making a garage look nice for a party and not have everyone freeze to death.

Challenge accepted.

Blessings of fall fun to each of you,
the Mrs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Who sets the pace?

There is this standard....one that is blurry and confusing.  It's taught in every church and yet, it never looks the same.  It is discussed in every small group and is in the heart of every follower of Christ.  It pokes at our guilt and doesn't fit in a nice, neat, easily defined box.  We use it to judge and put fellow followers down.  We use it to falsely elevate and comfort ourselves into believing we have it right.  We quietly use it to dismantle the fabric of our faith and change what was done into what we need to do.

What is my life supposed to look like if I'm living for You?  Not in a dusty sandals kind of way but in this messed up culture of technology and distraction.....what is it supposed to look like now?  Not by culture or by group, by city or by church....just by me....what is MINE supposed to look like?  

How often do we compare someone else's outward faith to our own?  We see that Susie, and Bonnie, and Blair all are disciplined in a morning routine of devotion.  They regularly post a scripture they read that morning and appear to be the epitome of humble perfection.   Then there is Lisa and Donna and Carrie....from outward appearances (because lets face it regardless of who you are seeing, that is ALL you are seeing) they participate in bible studies, talk about morning quiet time, are perfectly put together and yet they are emasculating to their husbands and they gossip but boy can they serve coffee with a smile at church.  You could pick out a whole other group who can speak deeply about the Lord and use His name in vain in the next sentence.  With no hesitation to curse or speak badly of another.  

No matter how "perfect" or "flawed" our fellow follower is....the vision of what our own faith in action is supposed to look like is flawed.  No two of us are the same.  We are each unique, our lives, our personalities and our histories.  So how on earth would my faith take the shape naturally to be like someone else's?  Not one of my friends has a brain injury.  Scripture speaking about coming to the Lord "in the morning", church, books, people and all manner of resources talking about how we are to wake early in the morning and meet with Him because that is what is right.......and then there is the "first fruits" of our time.  Does first fruits mean simply the first moments or the best moments?   Was it the first actual fruits harvested or was it the best of the best of the harvest?  My best is not in the morning.  I'm frankly not sure when my best is or if it's even at the same time each day.  So in my random chaos of a mind....what is my best?  What and when are my first fruit moments?  

I've spoken previously about a desire to be ceaseless with Him.  My desire does not wane but my behavior does.  I am easily distracted and driven off course.....tossed to and fro by the waves.  I would love to be disciplined like other women I know, those who have that set time and place where they sit to read His Word and talk with Him.  It is not something that comes naturally to me.   It is forced and uncomfortable because it doesn't feel genuine.  I've heard people speak about how some things you just need to do, before the feeling comes and it feels natural.  I get that....but I don't know how to get past the feeling that it is dishonoring to Him to force something like that.  Does it then become legalism from a lukewarm heart?

Is that what it is supposed to look like for me?  Is a morning "devotion" time what He wants for me?  Does He want that kind of action to be a part of my faith life?  Or is it His plan for me to be random?  Am I being tossed by the waves or am I giving myself over to move where and how He wants me to?  Am I seeing my faith through the eyes of my Father or the eyes around me?  Perhaps that spiritual fire doesn't burn the same in each of us.....because it isn't meant to?   What if some of us are meant to burn bright and crackly....noisemakers for God and some are meant to burn deeply....quiet and consistent....an understated heat that keeps the flame going for others....so they can dance with a colored light or shoot off loud crackling sparks?  

Lately I keep hearing messages that feel the the push of "should".   How we should love.  How we should minister.  How we should reach out.  They are all good messages.  All deeply good and right things to preach.  .....but.....inside....it makes something in my spirit twist.  My mind rings with do not conform.....because would He have created us each so lovingly, interestingly, different if He wanted us to conform to one way, one idea of how to do things?   Do not conform to this world can mean more than just the Godless worldling society.....it can also mean conforming to man's boxed idea of how a Christ Follower should function.   It feels like something is missing....some genuine connection to the reality of relationship.  

I love my husband more than air.  It is a love that burns deeply even when we don't speak for hours, I know he is there, I know he loves me and I do not doubt it.  Because I deeply respect him, I do not speak badly of him when he isn't around....I do not curse his name, or behave differently simply because he isn't in the room.  I remain myself - striving to be consistently me (for good or bad) no matter who is around.  Perhaps its the brain injury that makes me this way but I often wonder why others are not the same.  They behave differently depending on who they are with.....they put down their husbands, children or whomever, simply because the other isn't physically present.   I see people make statements on facebook about their children, about wanting to get away from them, how annoying they are or just insulting them.....and I get sick to my stomach because these statements are actually visible to those children.   Why?  How are people so unaware of their words?  

As Christ Followers, it's similar....but worse.   If you actually believe, would you drop the F-bomb right in the face of Jesus?  Cuz...ya just did.   He doesn't just appear like a genie at your beck and call, only to hear what you say at those times.  He is ALWAYS present.  Always hears.  Every curse and every prayer.  He hears every condemning thought you utter in the silence of your mind, every negative word you utter about your spouse, friend or child.....or the stranger in the checkout lane.  EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM MATTER.  They are not dismissed, they are heard and echo in heaven. 

No wonder we can't find common ground.  No wonder we can't find unity in the body of Christ.  The 10 commandments were helps, guides, bumpers on the path to the heavenly pins.  But.....gee those are old....that old testament stuff well, Jesus came so we really don't need that stuff anymore right?  No.  He adhered to them.  He followed them.  We are supposed to follow Him.  When did rules become evil infringements on our rights?  When did we stop realizing that rules are to protect, not to hurt?  

When will we get it together and realize that your walk and my walk are on the same path but our stride is different?  We wear different shoes.  Some walk fast and others slow.  Some have a limp and some run wild.  Some fall.  We are supposed to pick each other up and smile, hug and love and point in the right direction....and then let them go back on their way....not tether them to our side trying to teach them to walk the way we do.   

Jesus, what is my walk supposed to look like?  What is the measure of my stride supposed to be?  Fix my pace and my gate to fit Your plan for my walk.  I don't want to tether anyone to me Lord.  Help me to walk with others when You want me to and to walk alone when You've set that time to be just for You and I.  Help me to know one from the other Lord.  Keep the stones from my hands, I have no right to cast even one.  As others pass me, help me to cheer them on.  When others fall in my path, help me to take their hand and pull them up with love and compassion, urge them to move forward and leave the past behind.  Remind me to constantly drop seeds of joy on my way and to always, always pull weeds by the root.  Don't ever let me believe the lie that you are not walking with me just as intimately as every other person on this path.  I am never higher or lower than anyone else.  May I never be too proud to let someone else help me up when I fall.  

Blessings on your walk with Him, may He set your pace and show you that it is yours alone.
the Mrs.

Friday, September 21, 2012

life is crazy. God is good.

What a week!

The Dude came home last Thursday hit by a truck of a bug and quickly hit a 103 fever.  He has been sick ever since and until today, just kept getting worse instead of better.  Urgent care on Saturday and a doctors appointment yesterday....all tests ran were negative - which is a positive.  

Instead of getting better, last night he got worse.  Labored breathing and a sore chest.....a trip to the ER was recommended by the on-call doc.

His O2 levels were up and down; 94 up to 96 and down to 92.

I now have a pharmacy on my kitchen table.  Antibiotics, inhaler, steroid, codeine cough syrup, motrin....today the exhaustion is bringing out the drug jokes.  He thinks they are funny so that's a good sign.

It was scary watching him struggle.  Closing his eyes to focus on breathing in and out as tears slowly rolled from the corners of his eyes.  So proud of how calm he was, how intelligent he responded in the car when I asked him how he was doing "If I focus on something it helps" so I watched him in the dark, mouth the words to the country song on the radio with his eyes closed and seat reclined.  He stayed calm.  It was a clear mark of growth in him.....gone was the boy who would panic at the thought of the unexpected.  Blood draws, finger pricks, urine samples, chest x-ray, EKG......all clear and he was calm.  The longer we were there, the better he seemed to get.  After 5 hours of tests and waiting (2am) we were exhausted.  Mr and I started to feel silly and wonder if we'd over reacted and ran through random what ifs.  As our Dude tried to sleep, I put my head down on my Mr's knee for a moment and lifted a few more please and thank yous to the Lord.  The stress, fog and exhaustion cleared for a moment and I looked up at Mr...."People are praying.  People are praying that this illness will have no effect, that tests will be clear, that there will be nothing found and that he will get better and that it will be nothing.  People are praying and He answered.  That's why he's gotten better, that's why we are sitting here feeling like we shouldn't have come.  Prayers were answered."  And just as suddenly, the waves of nausea I'd been fighting since we walked in - were gone, the faint feeling I'd been begging Him to take away, was gone.  I knew that once again my amazing God came through for us.

God always answers prayers.  Not always the way we want Him to or think He will, but always there is an answer.  Sometimes we just have to look at things a little differently.....from a more heavenly angle.

This momma is exhausted.  Someone has left some pretty decent sized matching luggage under my eyes and my inner crazy lady appears to be making her way outward.  Humor is good people.  On the upside I did keep my "freak out on the inside" as per our family rule.  Its the best line from a bad movie..."Keep your freak out on the inside.  When you freak out on the outside that's when people die."  You know, in movies theres always the calm collected person who survives and the people who freeze and freak out get killed by the weird aliens or whatever.  Yes, we apply movies to real life a lot.  Humor helps reality.

Blessings to you for minimal freak outs, a smooth and gloriously uneventful weekend.
the Mrs.


Friday, September 14, 2012

confession

I'm a fairly black and white person.  Something is either right or wrong, true or false, good or bad.  Though, there are also things that I am unqualified to know.  Things I won't weigh in on which frustrates my husband to no end.  My standard answer to those topics "That's for God to decide when it's time, not me."  I'm not trying to get out of a tight spot or avoid giving a controversial opinion....it is genuinely how I feel.  God is the ultimate judge and there are some things that simply are to big for my small human mind to wrap itself around.  And who am I know think I know the mind of my God with certainty?

I hate the conversation of being judgmental.  I honestly do.  It is filled with snares and stumbling blocks and faintly defined borderlines between judgment and conviction, condemnation and accountability, superiority and humility.  I fall into each and every trap with the best of intentions.  I hold myself to a high standard and quite honestly find myself too often in a place of wonder.  I wonder if my standards are higher than others.  If I've somehow misunderstood what the conduct of a Christ follower should be.  Why I am so often surprised by people who call themselves Christians but behave like they've never met Christ.....and in some cases like they've never heard of Him.   I wonder what it is about me that my mind is so easily blown by the Choose Your Own Adventure Christians, you know the ones that know what the bible says but only live by and believe in the principals they choose to be worthy....or maybe easy is more accurate.

Is it good or bad that it doesn't occur to me that a Christ follower would not control their language?  It really never ceases to shock me that people who in every aspect of their visible walk to the world seem to be so close in relationship to Christ and then they take the Lord's name in vain in open conversation.   Curses just fall out of their mouths without shame, hesitation or apology.  

Language.  Why the Lord has it so pressed into my feeble mind and heart to pay attention to it, I don't know.  Yet there it is.   The structure of a sentence - is it focused on the positive or the negative?  A comment - does it cut down or build up?  A conversation or story - where is the focus, on the circumstance or the person?  Helpless or helpful?   End of the world or joyful in all circumstances?   Are 4 letter words being spoken out of heightened emotion or is it just part of their vocabulary?

It makes me sad, confused and at the same time totally convicted because I don't want to stand in judgment of someone else's walk.  We are all in different places and we are all in various seasons in life and learning.  It nags me though, honestly.   My heart is stabbed when another throws God's name around in vain but when another Christ follower does it....I don't know that I have the right words to even describe what that feels like.  Not just that my heart is offended, my spirit sickened but that in the biggest more important context - it has not even occurred to them how they hurt Him!  Has it?   If it had wouldn't they stop?  I am brought to silence each and every time, my mind screeches to a halt and my tongue goes dead.  Then my mind explodes in different directions my mouth cannot even articulate.  Do they know what they just said?  Why did they say it?  Have they considered how the use of His name in that way negates anything they say to His glory?  How can you boast about God's goodness while using His name to curse?   What does it say to the world if His representatives are spewing curse words?  What if the only thing they do is whine and complain in negative language the way the Worldlings do?  What distinguishes them, sets them apart?  

The Lord gives hope to the hopeless.  So why do so many seem unable to apply this to their lives??

It plagues me.  I have yet to learn how to calm my mind quickly enough to free up my mouth to say anything. To gain control of my shock so that whatever words I might deliver would be delivered in a loving way and not in a condemning tone.  I hate that in those weak moments where I'm knocked off balance my pride can get elevated and my attitude can get judgy.  It is in these moments where sadness hits me and I think.....its no wonder we all get such a bad rap.  We just don't represent Him well.

The silver lining in it all.....He is perfect where we are not.  His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness.  He is good.  He is the source for any goodness we embody.  He is the resource for our change.  He created us in His image, so there is not one of us that is unable to change and grow.  Not one of us is beyond help, it's never too late to change an attitude or a life.  Free will.  We all have a choice....we just have to make one.

Blessings of strength to chose Him in everything, embrace His grace and remain weak enough that you are required to cling to Him for strength beyond yourself.
the Mrs.





Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mark me tardy...

...or maybe absent is more like it.  My mind has been focused on all the stations of transition in our lives right now.  Lots of changes, some big and some small but all are important.

The biggest transition....the biggest change....is that my husband is changing careers.  Not just his job.  This has been a dream of his for nearly a decade.  The Lord orchestrated this timing perfectly and all the doors were flung open for him and the support that rallied around him was so encouraging.  This will be a very felt transition for the whole family.  He won't be just changing buildings or offices.  He will have 4 months of intense study and training - right here in our basement, taking all the classes and tests on-line through the company.  It means creating a working, functioning office space for him.  It means a diminished income (but we've been planning and saving for this possible opportunity for many years and have a plan), tightening the belts and making choices more thoughtfully.  It means he will be home, the commute from home to work will be mere seconds.  It means lunches and hugs and learning to respect each others work and work space while sharing it.  It means new schedules and volume levels.   It means a lot of unknowns and that our attitudes will need to be chosen wisely.  It means a big huge transition for him physically and mentally.

The school year means transitioning from seeing our daughter frequently, to very little.  Its hard.  Hard to have to miss out on the little things we will never get to be part of.  Morning routines and kitchen door send offs.  It means more phone calls and facebooking.  Catching up on the details of her life after the fact.

The school year also means our Dude is in the middle of his own big transition.  It's waking up earlier, riding a bus, learning to navigate the hallways and get to classes on time.  Dealing with stubborn lockers and learning to play an instrument.  Making friends and finding his place.  Starting a new youth program and meeting new leaders and students.

For me it means supporting all these people I love so much.   It means being aware of where we all are, what the needs are of our family and making sure that the tone set in our home is one that gives them comfort.  Making sure that home is a place where they can decompress, relax, refresh and restore from all that stuff that goes on in their day.  A place where they can feel free to talk it all through and know that there is someone who is going to listen, help them find a solution or just simply understand the frustration.   A place full of hugs and sometimes cookies but always a place where they feel safe to be who they are and have a voice to say what it is they are feeling.

Gosh, even the house itself has gone through some big changes.  Dude's room was redecorated.  Living room got new furniture and everything was moved around.  All the furniture moving changed out a couple of pieces in the dining area.  The basement has had a huge face lift just from trading the furniture out and moving everything around.  There was another great purge and a trailer load of stuff was brought to the dump.  The garage got cleaned out and totally reorganized.

The Great Purge of 2012 seems to go so far beyond just the stuff we are getting rid of.  Old selves are being cast off.  Weight is being lost both physically and mentally.  Attitudes are shifting and there is great growth happening.  Its an interesting place in life.  Only the Lord knows what else this season will bring.

Blessings of flexibility and patience to endure the shifting seasons with grace and wisdom,
the Mrs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

peace in the season

It feels odd to be in such a state of peace as we move closer to changes and transitions....excited even.

There is a quietness that is settled over me.  As programs are rolled out for the fall church season and friends start asking what we will participate in.....I quietly and confidently say "I don't know".  Because, I don't.  I don't know what fall will bring, I don't know what middle school will look like for Dude.  Will he need the down time, more time for homework or will he want to do after school programs?   I don't know.....neither do I feel a strong pull toward anything.  I simply feel this calm and an ease to go with the flow.  That during this season in life I am not to make commitments.

Its a funny feeling to finally feel this settled in my spirit...makes me want to laugh.....perhaps that's the joy bubbling up.  I love the season we are in!

I'm excited for our daughter that she is going to be a junior!  That she is really coming into her own and has found she loves drama and is actually excited about tryouts.  That she's excited about prom already and that she seems to have a new confidence and ease about her.

I'm excited for what middle school will be like for our son.  Granted there are many prayers for him that it is NOTHING like my own experience.  I love that he is so excited for the opportunities....all the clubs and extras that he wants to participate in (though I have a feeling we will have a conversation about how he can't do them all).  I love that he is so relaxed, so at ease and confident at his age.  It blows my mind.  No nervousness at all....he never has.  First day of school?  Mom, get a grip, it's no big deal, I can walk myself in.  Every year, not once, not even pre-school or kindergarten, would he let me walk him into class.  He wanted to do it on his own.  The first few years I think it was me who needed my hand held but now, he's taught me over the years that his first day experience is so much different than my own.  Mine were full of nerves and questions and what-ifs...but his, relaxed and go with the flow.

As parents, its a new season for us.  Our kids are so self sufficient now that I sometimes need to remind myself.  We don't need babysitters anymore.  That is so weird!  The need for us to do things for them has changed and now what they need from us is guidance and teaching to do things on their own, building up their skill set.  Its a great mental shift for mom.

I've been working on transitioning our home to better suit older kids and make the basement area function better for them to have friends over.  It used to be the grown up hang out and now it's all about the kids.  Gotta make it cool!

The household diet is changing so the menus will be changing, the day of the week I shop on has changed and what I buy has changed.

So many areas of transition.
Such great peace.

Blessings of anticipation for what the Lord has in store for you and protection from the desire to do anything but go with it.
the Mrs.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

the one with the 5 in the middle

I haven't wanted to totally jinx myself.
To say it out loud and claim it for fear it would become elusive again.

But I've seen it....that number with the mythical 5 in the middle.....and it didn't go anywhere.

one 5 nine

Its a 5.  Not a 6.  But a 5!  That six got kicked in the arse and has made its way off to who cares where!

It was last week....Bon Jovi started to sing to me in my head about living on a prayer and being half way there.  It was delightful.

I've since changed my weigh in methods.  Numbers don't compute or stay well in my brain.  My scale has memory functions and keeps track of my start weight, goal weight and 5 saved weigh ins at a time.  It tells me how much I've lost total and how much I have left to lose.  I was only saving my weight on Mondays and then periodically weighing in during the week to check in on how things were moving.  The frustrating part would be the days that I would be down over 2lbs but at the end of the week the saved weight didn't show that highlight - or that after the good drop I'd gained back some.   So, my new method: weigh in several times a week as I remember - but always on Mondays.  When there is a good successful drop Save THAT one and track from that point to maintain motivation and drive - as well as the reward of success in hitting that save button on a good note!  Those are the only numbers that get saved though.  Only the good ones.  So if I start to slip up....the scale feedback builds.  Instead of a +.2 one week and then next being a +.1.2 I'll get the total of +1.4 so my brain will SEE that it's not JUST a small gain this week but SEE the accumulation of how far from that success point I am getting.  To me that is more motivating - to be able to hit the save button again! :)

Oh 5, you are ever so lovely.

Added bonus.....I gave my daughter 3 pairs of my jeans.  They required a belt and were saggy and baggy...totally unflattering and I wasn't going to wear them anymore.   She's been waiting for that moment.  She's already worn all three pairs.  They look better on her anyway.  She's 8 inches taller than I and they hit all the right places on her slender but curvy teen bod.  I'm still pretty boxy in the middle.  I think I accidentally got a mans rib cage, for a short chick I've always had this broad ribcage.   Granted it does wonders for the 'girls' but really.....they don't need assistance the way they did in high school.  Once school starts the Mr and I will be having a little shopping day of our own.  I only have 3 pair of pants now....in total.  Oh darn! :)

Blessings of your own kind of fabulous 5's in your life,
the Mrs.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Can YOU say "transition" boys and girls?

There are so many tiers of it going on right now I can't even begin to describe how many places I see it.  While that sounds overwhelming - on so many levels - looks overwhelming to type, it feels entirely, unexpectedly different.

I'm loving every moment and living right in the moment of where we are, and not focused on where we might be in the next.

Is this some natural shift that happens in your mid 30's?  Or is this my very own God orchestrated transition of the mind?  There has been a tremendous mental shift for me in the last months.  One that has filled me with a peace and calm that overrides all things.  Don't get me wrong, I still get all kinds of anxious when there is way too much going on all at once, but even that is different and more short lived.  

Don't waste today on tomorrow....or yesterday.

That seems to sum up where my focus is at.  I want to be present in the here and now.  In the moments with my family I want them to feel that I was actually there and not drifted off to the next thing.  Not leaving them with memories of a wife and mother who was there physically but not actually present and there, for and with them.   I am remembering a lot of not just the details and facts of when I was growing up but the feelings I had.   The relationships I had with my family......or the complete and utter lack of them.   The combination of complete and utter aloneness with the overwhelming pressure of being an axis point to which too many things revolved around.   I am realizing as I watch my kids grow, how incredibly blessed they are to have lives that are filled with so little drama that I have to strain to try to understand the magnitude of what is "big" to them.   How as a 16 year old I would have done anything to trade lives with my daughter.  As an 11 year old......I could only dream to live life as simply and freely as my son does.  

There is so much I want to impart to them....so much to share with them....I need to make a way for it to  happen.  

The weather here has been crisp and cool.  So very fall like in nature that even some leaves have changed and fallen.   I feel so tuned in to seeing transition right now.  Its like this radar has been turned on and even the slightest, most subtle transitions jump out to greet me with this welcome I feel deep in my spirit.

It is the loveliest of times.   I feel the most comfortably "me" I have ever felt in my life.  The weight of expectation has been cast off....who I am supposed to be has no more importance.  Resting in who I am, settling in to see who He is making me into.....safety bar locked and arms up.....just going with the flow and enjoying the ride.  Life is different this way.   Even the greatest of impending shifts to our lives creates not even a ripple of stress.  

Whatever God is up to right now, I'm excited to see whats next.

Blessings to you for arms up joy in the ride of your life, 
the Mrs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An update, a weigh in and heavy compliment

Well mark me absent.  Sorry.  A lot of life happens in August!

So that porch project I mentioned a while back......or at least I think I mentioned it.....who really keeps track?  It circled the bowl for a while and disappeared, thanks to city codes.  So that idea morphed into "lets just get some patio furniture and make that weird, uninviting space more inviting" because hey!, good timing, furniture in the patio variety is going on clearance everywhere.  On a Monday morning I saw a tent sale outside a new furniture store and it was full of patio stuff.  Tuesday evening we went to check it out and it was gone.  Like the tent never was.  So we went inside thinking we'd ask or at least find the last few reject pieces to look at.  Nothing.  Since we were there we figured we should look around because we made the trip and we've been thinking about (and saving for) new living room furniture for years but not decided what we really wanted.  Turned out they were having a big sale.  We took the week to think about it and set a budget.  Saturday we looked again, calculated over and over, discussed, sat, laid down, rearranged and measured, sat some more, made ourselves reaaaaaally comfy and finally decided.  Part of the new set arrives on Thursday!  A sectional big enough that, for the first time since we've been married, my 6'6 husband can actually lay down comfortably and all of us will be able to be on it, at the same time, EVEN if he is laying down!  I'm a tad excited.  We haven't owned a new piece of furniture (that wasn't someone else's first) in about 10 years.  A new coffee table and end table arrive in about 6 weeks (on back order).

School prep is in full swing.  One boy down and one girl to go.  Tomorrow its schedule pick up and then off to shop for her new fashion identity for this year.  She's been Pinteresting like crazy!

The Dude's bedroom Transformation is 99% complete.  Just a few little things left to hang.....which I keep forgetting about.

I am currently in conflicted mommy mode.  I am so excited and ready for school to start and to get into a normal rhythm as well as get some alone time back and be able to get things done in the house in a more efficient manner.......but school starting also means that we go back to barely seeing Wonderteen.  It feels forever between weekends and considering how much closer we've all gotten this summer, it will probably feel worse.  Watching these kids grow and come into themselves is so amazing and the school year tends to bring on explosive growth.  It always seems that school starts and within a month I'm noticing big "growing up" changes in conversation and responsibility.

Weigh-ins have continued.  I feel like I've been driving toward 160 with a bungee cord attached to my butt.  I push to get there and right when I think its within my reach I am pulled back a pound....or even two.  It's been frustrating.  Though while the number dance has been happening I've noticed definition happening.  My face continues to change, my collar bones and arms look different.  Watches and rings continue to get bigger.  Belts are still losing notches and those shorts that started to feel baggy are now looking baggy and unflattering. I finally had to bite the bullet and get the girls some new gear......yes, I had to do the dreaded bra shopping again.  Though this time I actually purchased.  When they measured me they didn't tell me "uh, you need an F, we don't carry those".  Instead I heard the great news that I officially am down a band size into the 30's instead of the 40's but.....lets just say that a double turned into a triple and now that my mid section is starting to slim more, the girls are just.....OUT THERE.
As of yesterday I am solidly at 160.0.  I didn't buy avocados this week, I am going to avoid oil like the plague, I bought one bar of chocolate and marked each piece with a day of the week so I can have one square per day and it will be easy to see when I have had too many.  Though I didn't eat one yesterday.....amazing.  This week I am hoping to FINALLY get into the 150's and break through this wall. I read about all these people who make the switch to a plant based diet and just start dropping pounds left and right....it's not happening for me!  Its frustrating but I know that my body has held on to the pounds tightly.  Friends are dropping as much, or even in one case double, what I have already lost and they've done it in at least half the time.  I've now been doing this for well over a year and I'm only down 32 lbs.  I'm not saying that 32 isn't any big deal - it is a big deal and it's a lot of weight - I just really thought I'd be done by now.   Exercise....well, that really hasn't been happening.  It took several weeks for my hips to recover from the cabin jogging I did and a couple weeks ago, then I attempted the treadmill and my hips went all kinds of painful crazy.  So it appears that being a runner is not in my future and I've been avoiding the treadmill as I like feeling comfortable walking.  Once school starts I plan to start working some Pilate's into my day, as that is gentle on the joints, can be done in short increments and most positions are laying down which should be easy on the hips.

In more romantic news....Last week Mr schemed with the kids to get me out on a surprise date.  He sent me flowers and asked me out just like he did for our very first date.  We went out to dinner and to see the new Batman in Imax (still loved it by the way).  While we were at dinner he stopped and looked at me, really looked at me, and told me that since we've been married, I've never been more beautiful.  Other than the first 6 months we were together (when I was a tiny 115 and a size 4....who knows what size that would be today though) I've been heavy.  It started with beginning birth control and packing on a whopping 50 pounds in less than 5 months. It just wouldn't come off.....that combined with the diet change of "mommy and daddy's groceries" to "living on your own groceries" it just did bad things to my body and I haven't looked the same since.  For years I've looked in the mirror and not recognized myself.  Flipping back and forth between a vision in my head being smaller than reality and then looking in the mirror and feeling much larger than reality.  Now however...in my head I see myself at my goal weight and size and my body feels uncomfortably big and in the way.  It causes frustration.....and humor......one day I was laying down and put my hand down at my waist and felt this bulge.  At first I thought "what the heck is that!"  and then.....I  realized it was a fat roll and laughed myself silly.  Even the fat that is still there is different.   Everything is changing, fitting differently, looking differently....my face probably fascinates me the most.  I've seen this fat girl so long and focused on what I wanted my body to look like for so long that my new slimmer face surprises me.  When I see pictures, I think whoa....that is me???   Crazy.

The heavy compliment?  It came from Mr as we walked into the furniture store.  We were having a conversation about people we know with negative attitudes, how it seems like they search for things to complain about and can't seem to see the good in anything.  Then Mr says "They don't have a joyful spirit and aren't lucky enough to have a wife who has a joyful spirit to teach them."  It went something like that...but it really hit me and I didn't know what to say as I felt tears start to well up.  Of course those had to be stuffed down because we were going into the store and I really didn't need to be that girl at the moment. Those words though....it is a heavy compliment.  Its both something to live up to and affirming something I've striven for most of my life.  To take all of the trials and challenges life has handed me and make myself better with them.....never bitter.  It's always been a challenge to mentally not pull the "oh poor me" card or fall into that trap the world seems to set for people "oh you've been through so much, I'd be a little angry at the world too".  NO.  Adversity is NO excuse for a bad attitude, anger, bitterness or an invasive negativity that is toxic to everyone around you.  Adversity is an opportunity, to grow, to learn, to be stretched, to have the ability to stand in someone else's shoes and be able to mean it when you say I understand.  Adversity is an opportunity to gain wisdom.  Don't focus on the love and support you needed and didn't get - you can't go back and change your experience in life any more than you can change the ingredients in last nights dinner.  Focus on how you can use that experience.  Love and support someone else the way you needed it.  Give to others what you wish you'd received.  Missing out is not a valid reason for withholding from others.  It might just bring you healing in the process.

A joyful spirit....  Wow.  Me?  He really thinks that of me?   ......that may be the compliment of a lifetime.

Blessings to you, for a joyful spirit in all things transitional and stationary, may the blessing of laughter and joy bubble up from within your soul and be displayed on your face.
the Mrs.