Monday, June 1, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
If you'd like to join the Scripture Memory Team , it's never too late to start!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I keep saying I'm going to post about this or that and I never do it. I say I'm going to be more consistent and I'm not. I promise lovely pictures and they never appear. Hmm.
I guess you will just have to believe me when I say (or, since I am my own most loyal reader, I will have to believe myself when I say) that I have composed some wonderfully thought-provoking and witty posts in my head. Good stuff, let me tell you.
Like they say, it's the thought that counts, right?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
"When the kids are all in school, I'll have time to exercise/volunteer/deep clean, etc...."
"When Tori goes down for a nap, I'll catch up on my Bible study lessons...."
"When I get the laundry caught up..."
"When we finally have a free weekend...."
"When ___________ I'll eat more healthy...." (Yeah, I don't have a "when" for that. I just know I should.)
"When I have a little more time, I'll write a blog post that actually says everything I want it to instead of writing a series of rambling paragraphs loosely tied together under a theme only in my own mind!"
The trouble is that most of my "whens" never come to pass. Just look at the 4 sweet faces on the sidebar as proof that my first "when," as close as I came, never happened!
And counting on nap time usually guarantees a nap boycott. Hoping to catch up on laundry... well, that is just plain silly. Longing for the weekend is a good predictor of some unexpected event popping up that can't be missed. And the complete and coherent blog post.... well, just keep reading....
So then I wonder how much of life I'm missing because I'm waiting for "when" to arrive.
How many sweet moments with Tori (and my other kids) have I sacrificed to the hope of accomplishing some household task uninterrupted? How many things have I done halfway because I've been overwhelmed by those things yet to be done? Which blessings have I taken for granted because I'm looking past them to the things I don't have? What lessons have I left unlearned as I've skimmed over the surface of life in anticipation of the next "simpler" stage--a stage that never arrives?
It's a fine balance, and I can't seem to find the center of it. On one hand, being a SAHM is a life with very few marked and permanent achievements. Even those things that get done soon become undone and in need of being re-done! And in a much deeper sense than nap time or housework, this world is not our home, so there truly are many things that just won't sit right in my soul. This life is imperfect and often hard.
But on the other hand, Jesus promises life and fullness and joy--complete joy, nonetheless! However, He also clearly tells us that self-sacrifice is the only way to true joy. Some days I get that, really get it and embrace it with excitement and purpose. Other days, it feels like a complete and unattainable paradox.
Right now, my baby is in her bed crying because this is one of those "when" days for naps. My laundry is in various stages of incompletion and my floor is sticky. We have somewhere to be every evening for the next two weeks. What does complete joy, self-sacrifice, and true LIFE look like in the midst of that?
The more I think about it, it seems that perhaps asking "When...." questions is okay. Maybe I'm just focusing on the wrong "whens." What if I asked myself questions like,
"When I tuck my kids into bed each night, what do I want them to remember about the day?"
"When the my kids are all grown (which I have plenty of time to prepare for now!) what do I want our family legacy to be?"
"When I meet with Jesus at the end of my life, what crowns will I have to cast at His feet?"
Those questions are a little more difficult to answer. But those are the questions that, when it's all said and done, are truly important to me.
So, I guess I'll go get Tori from her bed. She and I can sit on the sticky floor and play.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I just wonder how all the serious bloggers out there find time to create and update their own backgrounds when I feel a little guilty about even taking time to upload a new free background that someone else predesigned when my unfolded laundry is sitting there staring at me.
On a more serious subject, we had a wonderful church service again yesterday. As Ethan and I were talking about church later in the day, I was really struck by how blessed we are to have such a vibrant and obedience-inspiring church. Sundays are the day that grounds me every week, and if I didn't have that foundation to recenter me, it would be even harder to stay focused on Jesus.
I'm thankful again today for the prayer ministers and how they share their gifts each week. Yesterday we prayed about hearing from the Lord, believing what He has told me and denying the lie of Satan that I don't hear the Lord's voice, and having a "deafness" to the distractions of the world. Great encouragement as I try to reenter a more purposeful season of "being" in the Lord after a few months of much "doing."
Anyway...Check back later because the exciting photo collage I promised in the last post will be coming in the next day or two!
Friday, April 24, 2009
I promise there is good reason, actually many good reasons, for my absence from the blog world. I'll explain soon, maybe with a photo update of just a few of the things that have been keeping me busy.
I know! We'll make a game of it! Wouldn't that be fun?! Did any of you subscribe to "Games" magazine years ago? They always had a photo collage and you had to guess what the photo depicted. Yeah, that's a great idea, if I do say so myself.
Try to contain yourself as you wait in eager anticipation!
P.S. I don't like this blog background, but I don't have time to change it right now. So there's another exciting update you can come back to check out later!
and He answered me by setting me free.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
The LORD is with me; He is my helper.
I will look in triumph on my enemies.”
Psalm 118:5-7 (NIV)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This weekend as I've meditated on God the Father's amazing gift to us, He's reminded me that He gave us Jesus out of an unfathomable, unquenchable LOVE for us. For me.
And Jesus..... there simply are no words to thank Him. Nothing but my tears and a heart broken by the ways I fail Him, yet at the same time nearly bursting with longing to be more like Him. He loves us so much.
Even as I write those words, I realize I don't know even a fraction of how deep that love really is. I can't form sentences with enough depth of meaning to encompass who He is and what He's done, let alone grasp it with my weak, distracted mind. So some days, many days, I don't really act like someone who is completely and unconditionally loved. And even more, most of the time I don't give complete and unconditional love, even to those I love the most. What a waste.
But Jesus told us He came to make all things new. I don't have to go on wasting moments and days. He offers a fresh start every morning, and the blood that He shed redeems all things when we love and seek Him. That's all I know to do.
I love you, Jesus. Your sacrifice and your love are beyond description. Would you penetrate my heart afresh every morning with the reality of your gift. Help me not to waste this....
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
This week's challenge: 3rd folder, 1st picture with the color BROWN
So there's not a ton of brown, but there's brown hair, brown glasses, and this picture is just too cute not to use! All the cousins at the time except Zach, who was only 18 months or so at the time and wouldn't have survived this pose! We were in Minneapolis in August, 2007, visiting the zoo during a weekend trip for Steve's cousin's wedding.
These cousins have such a ball together, and we only manage to get everyone together a couple of times a year, so it's really a special treat.
Hoping these will be great memories for the kids, and that there are many more to come!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Today was one of those days when I wouldn't have been surprised if a spotlight from Heaven suddenly had focused right on me, since it felt like perhaps the sermon was written for me alone! Actually, it felt to me as if the Spirit was moving pretty heavily among everyone, so I wonder how many other people sensed God speaking to them directly today?
Some themes from today (I couldn't take notes because I was trying to rock Tori to sleep much of the time, so these are the few and brief thoughts I can pull from my weak memory):
- Whatever happens...
We are called to stand firm without being frightened
We must choose joy
God loves us
God forgives us
God invites us to Himself
- Many of us deeply and sincerely long to know Jesus more, but we're limited because we are unwilling to suffer (I'm not sure he said that exactly, but that's where my thoughts took that point....)
- Fear of what might happen often creates a self-pitying, false sense of "suffering" in our lives
- Sharing in Jesus' suffering is a blessing because there's a fellowship with Him that comes only by suffering alongside Him
- We need great courage to join in Jesus' suffering
- God is with us in our suffering because, through Jesus, He knows every type of suffering we could experience
I went for prayer to ask for courage. I don't want to live hindered by fear, and I know that I often do. One of the prayer ministers shared the picture of taking many pieces of glass or metal and weaving them together to make a strong, beautiful fabric. You may not see the beauty in each individual piece, but the beauty is woven into the very core of the creation.
God continues to pour that theme of developing greater beauty into my soul. The images from today reminded me of the essay I wrote over 2 years ago about weaving wires and beads together to create a unique piece of jewelry (LHM), and it confirmed what God has been impressing on me this past year about pruning for greater beauty. Today I sense Him reminding me of the holy vessel that I am (Daniel study session 5).
The other prayer minister prayed for wisdom and discernment to recognize God's call for me individually--that Jer and Stacey's call to Haiti or what happens in my family, etc. wouldn't hinder me from seeing the plans that God has for me personally.
As he prayed for great courage to step into my own calling, I was reminded of the image I received back in November of Jesus riding up on a white horse and inviting me to jump on behind to ride into battle with Him. At the time, I could see myself jumping on bravely and willingly.
I want to ride into battle with courage every day. Whatever happens.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
So many things I'd like to have that I don't.
So many ways I'd like to be that I'm not.
So many areas I'd like to change that I haven't.
So many things I'd like to do that I can't.
So many places I could go that I won't.
So many answers I'd like to hear that I might not.
So many mysteries I'd like to have revealed that aren't.
So many things I deem important that aren't.
I've been leaning on the call and the promise of the scripture I've memorized this month. And trying not to cry as I listen to this song by Nichole Nordeman:
Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .
We'll give thanks to You
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain
Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .
We'll give thanks to You
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread
Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need
So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .
We'll give thanks to You
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace
But Jesus, would You please
Friday, March 13, 2009
-from Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster
When God puts a call on your life to do something that will impact the kingdom for Him, the timing is almost always poor and the expectations are almost always overwhelming.
-from Esther by Beth Moore
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
It is sad, because there is so much going on, and so many thoughts swirling in my mind about life in this busy season. There are things that are important and deeply meaningful that I know I will forget as life marches on. So many things I'm learning that I really want to mark somehow to remember them well.
But for now, in this time of putting first things first, my thoughts will just have to float in my head until they disappear into the abyss that once was my short-term memory. (Or is it my long-term memory? I don't know; I don't remember.)
I'm choosing to live and spend these days rather than just write about them in an effort to save them. I've never been much of a saver, I'm afraid. And I really want to become more and more a
live-r (no, of course not the gross meat--someone who really lives their life and spends their days on the truly valuable things!)
I know you'll always be there for me, dear blog. Thank you for waiting for me.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
So funny... evidence of what a child will do left unattended with a digital camera. I'm not even sure which child was playing photographer, but when I transferred pictures to the computer, there were half a dozen pictures of random things sitting on our kitchen counter (yes, our counter is cluttered.)
This is a sweet reminder to me to enjoy these busy, messy days--to enjoy life through the eyes of a child. Kids don't see clutter; they see a picture waiting to be taken.
Hmmm.. Maybe that's why they never feel the need to clean up after themselves.
Monday, March 2, 2009
This month I'm claiming the same passage that Beth Moore posted (along with dozens to hundreds of other women.) Seems to be just what the Lord had for me right now, too. Here it is:
I praise You for Your great love, and for the wonderful things You have done for me. I praise You that You are the only One who is able to satisfy my thirsty soul today and the only One who promises to fill me with good things.
Open my heart to receive Your love, and open my eyes to see the wonder of what You are doing in my life and in the world around me. Satisfy my thirst, yet give me a greater thirst for You. Make my soul long for You like the deer that pants for water. Fill the deep hunger within me with You--the only thing that ever truly can fill me. You already have met all my needs in Christ Jesus; open my heart to receive all that You offer. Overwhelm me. Forgive me for the ways I daily lose sight of You.
Thank You for the sounds of a sweet baby cooing in her crib, waiting to be scooped up and start her day with a hug and a smile that reaches from ear to ear. Thank You for the sight of 3 sweet little people, people who are growing up so fast, sauntering down the gravel drive to meet the bus that will take them into the day they each face. Thank You for the crunching of pickup wheels rolling over that same gravel as a faithful husband and father heads into a day full of deadlines and stresses and people to bless, all done with a commitment to give the best to his family.
Walk closely with each of them today, Jesus. Surprise them with the sound of Your sweet voice when they least expect it. Surround them with Your love and peace. Bless them through me, despite my own selfish heart and repeated mistakes. Help them to know the love I have for them, and make me into the mother and wife I long to be as You change me day by day.
May who I intend to be become more and more who I truly am. Give me the courage to trust You as the potter, allowing myself to become the clay. Make me a vessel deep enough and strong enough to hold all of You that You want to give. Mold me into something beautiful.
I love You. Help me to know--to really, really KNOW--how much You love me.
Thank You for a new day and new mercies.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Ah, yes, the Annual Read Across Iowa Bug Parade! At the start of the school year, the 2nd graders set "read across Iowa" reading goals, and when they meet their goals, they're the main attraction (okay, the ONLY attraction) in a VW bug parade, complete with a police escort, that loops the loop several times, honking and waving at whoever will pay attention. And believe me, they draw some attention!
Mrs. Ribbens (one of our all-time favorite teachers!) is driving the black bug, and even though you can't see him, Ethan is in the backseat, grinning and trying to see and be seen over the side of the car from the confines of his seat belt. Good times.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Seriously, I'm totally overwhelmed by the fact that I'm expected to be responsible for the character development of 4 precious little people. And somewhat discouraged by the awareness that my own spiritual health is a huge indicator of how well I will do that.
Because I am fed up. Spent. At the end of my rope. I feel like every day I face a list of about 30 hours worth responsibilities to handle in a 24-hour day. And every day I start with the greatest intentions to control my tone of voice, do first things first, catch up on the "musts" so I can get to the "shoulds," the "I'd really like to's" and maybe even some of the "wouldn't that be fun's!"
And every day I lose my patience (usually before the kids are even out the door for school!), finish maybe 10% of what needs to be done so I start the next day even further behind, and seldom figure out in the midst of that how to squeeze in the spontaneous and fun things to make our family life more joyful.
If I weren't too vain, I'd post a picture of what my home looks like right now.... Fruity Pebbles crunched on the floor from the breakfast spill, counters crusted with drips from yesterday's meal group cooking and this morning's milk spills, laundry everywhere in piles and baskets and overflowing hampers... I could go on and on. Some days that list just feels like my reality and I can just live in the midst of it, completing small jobs one by one as time with the baby allows. But today it really just makes me feel like crying.
I find that I hit this overwhelmed point at 2 recurring times:
1) When things come up that really NEED doing, things that are important, urgent, or just really valuable and have time constraints on them. Things that I care about and feel called to do. Things that can't keep being pushed back from one day's "to do" list to the next. And I simply don't have time to do them, and feel like I have no one to help pick up the slack so I can without feeling further overwhelmed by the day to day.
2) When I attempt to bring greater self-discipline into my own life and behavior. No matter how early I get up, one child or another seems to wake up earlier. No matter how intentional I am about asking God to order my day, I end the day feeling like important things are being left undone. No matter how determined I am to get enough sleep so I can be as patient and gracious as I wish to be, I find myself awake into the wee hours of the morning trying to finish the "musts" for the day.
Yes, I know all the right questions to ask about why I'm feeling like this. What are my expectations? Why? What are God's? What is truly important? What do I need to let go of? What selfishness or other sin plays into these feelings? How is the Enemy trying to steal my joy?
But some days, even those questions are enough to wear me out. Some days, just putting one foot in front of the other (or one load of laundry in after the other) is all I can handle.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Don't ask me what they were doing... some combination of dress up and just plain wackiness. Anna is wearing my slippers, summer pj shorts, a too-small stocking cap, and.... a jump rope. Like I said, don't ask me. And it looks to me like Ethan just didn't want to be left out of the picture so he pulled a silly pose!
And yes, the chair in the background is where I lay clothes that need to be taken upstairs and hung in closets. It almost always has a pile hanging off the back of it. Just keepin' it real for you!
Friday, February 20, 2009
I remember Beth Moore reminding us in one of her studies (I don't' remember which one because I've done so many in the last 5 years!) that if the same issue keeps coming up in your life, then God isn't finished with you in that area. He will (graciously) keep bringing it to the forefront so you can move out of your "desert"...pass the test, learn the lesson, be healed... whatever it is that still needs doing in your soul.
She also teaches in her Daniel study, which I'm currently in the middle of, that we also can find ourselves back in familiar territory because the Enemy loves to send us right back into our areas of captivity, and he is wily enough to attack those areas in our lives that are inconsistent, weak, and not well-protected by our spiritual armor. (Ooh, I hate him, by the way!)
Evidently God decided now would be a good time to give me a retest on some things, and/or my armor has just a few holes that the Devil is trying to poke through....
First, it feels like our family life is in a similar place to nearly a decade ago. I'm adjusting anew to the role of SAHM to an infant with little "freedom" or participation in life outside of my own 4 walls. Steve is busy and somewhat stressed at work. Our finances are stretched to the max. All of these issues characterized our early years of marriage and parenting. Somehow 15 years and 4 kids later, we're right back there. (Praise God for those areas in which He's already changed and grown us so we don't repeat ALL of the same mistakes this time!)
Another area in which I feel like I'm just driving around the cul-de-sac over and over on is in one significant relationship in my life and the way I often respond in and to it. Again, I have to thank God for the things He already has healed and changed, because not all that long ago my emotions were in constant turmoil, my heart very seldom was right toward this person, and all of it was trickling down into my immediate family relationships. God has performed great things in my life regarding this relationship. But just lately, it seems that the condition of my heart toward this person is coming to the forefront once again, because I can't leave an interaction with this person without feeling irritated or agitated or just plain YUCKY.
Finally, I must have made the mistake of getting mentally lazy and thinking things were going well with our kids, because whenever I do, some ugly issue that we have to discipline our kids over comes up. And often, that points back to some failing of mine/ours in the way we've trained them so far. It can easily stir up in me discouragement, resentment, shame, guilt... all sorts of emotions that certainly don't aid in parenting well and don't reveal a strong faith in God when it comes to my role as a mom.
(You wouldn't think there is an emotionally healthy bone in my body reading this marathon-length post, would you? But that's why this is my blog... if you didn't read my early warnings about the nature of this blog, you may want to do so now.) Anyway....
I have to ask myself what God is trying to further redeem in me, and how the Enemy is trying to drag me back into old patterns. I think I'm seeing the answer to that in some small ways, but I, of course, try to analyze it with my own little human mind. I have to remember that God's ways are not my ways and be aware that the Devil is tricky, deceitful, and just plain evil, so it is likely much deeper than first glance might suggest.
Really, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this return journey, because before Tori was born, I felt like God told me through scripture He was going to use this season in my life to prune me. I'm so thankful that He also promised that the pruning was for the purpose of bringing greater beauty. I'm not exactly sure what that means, and I'm quite certain that we're still in the cutting back stage of pruning and not in the beautiful new growth stage yet, but I'm holding on to that promise. I may not ever fully know how God's purpose will play out, but the one thing I know for sure is that I don't want to miss His purposes and I don't feel like I'm "getting it" yet.
What struck me about this whole idea of ending up back where you started is this thought: When I'm driving, if I drive the same route repeatedly, after a while I don't even notice where I am. I drive out of habit and sometimes end up at my location with no memory of passing the landmarks along the way.
I wonder if that isn't also true of my spiritual journey; am I somehow missing the "signs" along the way because the road is so comfortable and familiar that I'm not fully aware of where I am and where I'm headed? Am I running on autopilot and missing some turnoffs or even u-turns that God wants me to take? I'm thinking if that's true, I'll just end up coming right back to this same place again.
I've probably given the wrong impression. It's not that where I am now is horrible, or even that it's a bad place to be. I already have a beautiful life in so many ways, and God has been faithful and good. But God has promised even more. More pruning. More growth. More beauty. And that's the destination I want to be moving toward.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Fast forward a couple of weeks to last night. I was browsing Bring the Rain again to find out how to create a music playlist on a blog like she has on hers. The book contest hadn't ever entered my mind again since the day I commented/entered. But as I was scrolling down the screen, I saw the name "Tiffany" at the end of the list of 10 winners.
"You're kidding," I thought. "I wonder if that could actually be me? There are 2031 comments/entries into the contest, so odds are it's a different Tiffany somewhere out there in Blogland. Because I never win anything! But I may as well check it out." So I scrolled through about 1800 of the 2031 comments and found the "Tiffany" comment she was referring to, and believe it or not, I won! "I guess I can't say I never win anything anymore."
Oh, my, but I'm afraid I can. I was really just quite tickled about it all.... until today, when I figured out that I did not win. And on top of that, I had already sent a gushing e-mail to the author, letting her know where she could send my book. Just a tad embarrassing, wouldn't you say?
I discovered my mistake when I went back to the contest post today to see what my comment actually said (Something about it being unlikely I'd win with the volume of comments she receives. I thought it would be so clever of me to add that to my blog post announcing that I actually won!)
I scrolled through those 1800 comments again, and somehow, what last night was clearly my comment linking to my blog was now a comment left by Tiffany Carter. What in the world? Seriously, I am so certain that last night I found the comment, clicked on the link, and saw a picture of me and my cute little family, confirming that I was indeed the winner. Yeah, well, today, I saw a picture of Tiffany Carter and her cute little family.
Maybe I shouldn't be browsing blogs so late at night because clearly, my tired mind couldn't handle the excitement of potentially beating the 10 in 2031 odds to win a book. (Unless my conspiracy theory that someone somehow moved my comment so they could win the book is true!) I guess I'll put this book in my Amazon shopping cart along with the 5 dozen other books I have saved there and see if I can find a little cash to buy it sometime. Bummer.
So, even though it turns out my not-winning streak continues (losing streak sounds so negative), this whole thing has really got me thinking. Since my blog is so new and I haven't done nearly as much posting as I hoped, I haven't written much yet about our family's, or perhaps it's primarily just my, journey this past year and a half since the surprise of discovering Tori would join our family. And quite a journey it's been.
But you'll have to check back later to hear more about it. No telling what might happen if I try to blog late into the night again.... And I don't want to give Tiffany Carter a bad name.
Monday, February 9, 2009
"Those who make the worst of their time most complain about its shortness." - La Bruyere
I don't know who La Bruyere is, but he seems to be talking about me! I constantly feel like there's not enough time to do all the things I must do, let alone the things I'd really like to do. So what I'm setting out to discover is whether the primary problem is in my expectations--attempting or hoping to be able to do more than is realistic; or in my execution--the way I schedule and use my time on a daily basis given the basic details of my life (several kids including both older kids and an infant, a busy husband, my own personality, etc.). I realize that I tend to rebel against being scheduled and structured because my "all or nothing" thinking often leads to frustration when I can't do things as well as I'd like (which is pretty much always) or to being hyper-focused on one project or task while letting all other things fall by the wayside.
Along with that, I'm wrestling with how much of my struggle is tied to my lack of consistent time spent with God. I'd love if there were a formula promising that an intimate relationship with God would result in perfect wisdom for how to live daily life. While I know that formula doesn't exist, I do know from seasons in my life that being more connected with God and His will for me somehow lessens the "sweating" I do over "small stuff. The song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" comes to mind:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Anyone know why suddenly everything is double-spaced and won't go back to single?!?)
So I'm seeking to more fully focus on Jesus and follow His guidance for how to use each day rather than to be consumed with making lists and schedules and plotting out my time in my own human strength. His ways are not our ways, you know.
All that being said, there remains a practical side to living this life and especially to doing the SAHM thing well. In an attempt to make my external reality line up more closely with my internal intentions, I think I need to explore what in my life is truly necessary, what's pretty important, what needs to go, and decide with Jesus' guidance how I will discipline myself to live a life that holds true to what I value. Here is an initial list to work from:
General care for kids/family
Food prep. and grocery shopping,
Acceptably tidy house for the sake of function
Consistent naps for Tori
(Honestly, this category alone takes up pretty much all my time....)
- Family time
Debriefing after school
Supervision of homework and chores
Bedtime prayers and talks
- Time with the Lord
Praying the Divine Offices
Bible study lessons
The I'd Like To's
- Thoroughly cleaned house on a regular basis, especially bathrooms
- Declutter and organization
- Off-duty/alone time for me
- Hobbies - reading, blogging/journaling, scrapbooking, writing
- More quality time with Steve
The Small Stuff
- Spotless house, including kids' rooms (I don't even attempt this, but I think it's a self-imposed unrealistic expectation that causes stress)
- Blog reading (or at least the high frequency of it)
- Excess recreational internet ("window shopping," unnecessary "research," etc.)
- Hmmm.... there must be more here, but the 2nd and 3rd bullet points are definitely my major time-wasters
I'm not sure where to go from here, but it's a start. I'll be revisiting this post frequently to think about and pray for direction.
UPDATE: I had further confirmation that I need to figure some of this out as Caleb and I were talking tonight about the tasty cookies our neighbor makes (he was trying to tell me hers are better than mine without offending me). He said she is always doing "extra-terrestrial" things. I suggested that perhaps he meant "extra-curricular." He said she just spends time doing what she wants to rather than always working like I am. That makes me sad, because that's exactly how I feel, too. The thing is, the only reason he thinks I'm working all the time is because I never get anything done, so I'm always trying to get something done! I don't want his memories of me to be that I spent more time working than just living--especially if my house is still going to be this dirty!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The sun rising and setting every day.
The changing of the seasons.
And this simple equation:
1 tuckered out baby
+ 1 mommy in desperate need of some "me" time
= 1 baby who won't fall asleep
Maybe I can find my way into the history books if I can come up with an explanation for this problem!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21-23 It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24 I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
(The Solution Is Life on God's Terms)
1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
Romans 7:14-8:2 The Message
We were talking about the goings on at school, and I was mildly lamenting the fact that I am rarely at school to volunteer in their classrooms, get to know their teachers, or just have lunch with them. Ethan said, "Well, would you rather be in our classrooms or have a baby?"
I replied that I really wish I could do both (I know, I struggle with accepting reality sometimes). Ethan looked right at me and repeated, "Would you rather be in our classrooms or have a baby?"
Okay, I get the point. Thanks, sweet boy.
Having the outlook of a child can be really good for keeping life in perspective.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Somehow during that honeymoon stage I fooled myself into thinking we were going to breeze right through and somehow not deal with the reality of an infant's schedule. Guess not, because reality seems to have set in.
This dry spell also could be the byproduct of major cabin fever. A few weeks back, between snow days, a driveway drifted over with snow, and sick kids, I was literally in this house for 188 1/2 out of 192 hours. 188 1/2 hours breathing the same air, doing the same tasks over and over, rarely speaking to another adult...all the time with at least one, and often four children needing your attention...yikes!
Or maybe this Sahara-like feeling could have overtaken my heart because, since Christmas, I've only been doing my Beth Moore study--as interesting and motivating as it is--about once every other day. Before Christmas I was praying the Divine Offices faithfully 3 times a day and feeling like I was connecting pretty well with the Lord through prayer. Right now I'm just not being intentional about getting fed the same way.
Then this past weekend I tried to talk through it with Steve. How I'm struggling to embrace this season of raising an infant and being "just the mom" again without being swallowed up in it. How I don't feel like I have anything to talk about but baby stuff, and how I can't seem to find any focus outside of home when I am home 99% of the time.
Somehow as I shared my thoughts, Steve heard me saying that taking care of our kids runs counter to being who I want to be. Aaagh! That totally isn't what I was saying! So not only am I stranded on an emotional desert island, but I also can't communicate effectively with the one person I'm stranded with. Sigh. I was trying to explain how I'm trying to figure out how to fully engage in this season... to allow it to be "enough" to care for the kids and our family, while at the same time feeling like I'm becoming more fully me. Right now I don't feel like I'm succeeding at either one of those things.
That probably sounds like complaining. I hope not. But maybe it is; at this point I don't even know. But I'm wondering why I feel powerless to find relief in this dry season. I could tell it was coming, and I'm feeling hyper aware of being in it. I know the "right" things to do to get out of it, but I know they won't work because I've learned that it really isn't up to me to find the solution, so much as to trust that this desert field trip is just a stop on the journey.
So, here I sit. In the desert. Waiting for a little rain shower. Just a few drops would do. Or maybe even a drifting rain cloud over head to cast just a little shade on the scorching sand. I guess I'll have to keep my focus turned upward to watch for incoming relief.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Ah, yes, the Barnum and Bailey $11 souvenir cotton-candy-in-a-cheap-hat hat! After this photo, Caleb and I traded; I wore the hat and he took the picture. Let's just say I'm extremely thankful the random photo was #44 and not #45! This was the night we realized how sensitive Ethan is to our conversations about money because he repeatedly offered to not get a souvenir if we couldn't afford it. Yikes... better watch what we talk about in front of that boy!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
In the most recent video session I watched, she pointed out that we are "image builders" (or to put it in plain language--FAKES!) if we're any different in the dark of night or privacy of our own home than we seem to other people.
Ouch. Who isn't? Is there anyone who is always as kind to their family as they are to others? Is there someone out there who consistently looks to the good of others before thinking about themselves? Yes, I know that with Christ's help many people are truly authentic and transformed, and I am deeply changed in many ways, as well, but it's still a struggle for me. Why do I continue to think one thing but say another to avoid conflict? Feel self-righteous about the way I do this or that? Spill critical words about someone else to a friend or even just think them in my own mind? Yuck. Doesn't sound very likable.
Mostly it's frustrating because I know who I long to be, and I don't live up to that, ever. But partly it's convicting when I recognize that I often allow myself to dwell in those ugly thoughts rather than taking them captive and combating them with truth (more about the dry spell I've been in that contributes to that in a yet unfinished post). And partly, it's tiring because it is a lifelong journey to become more Christ-like, and I would really like to be perfectly like Christ NOW! Anybody with me?
Another truth Beth Moore pointed out in this session is that the one way to avoid being "burned" by life's trials is to "bathe" in God's presence. So today will be a day for reflection and prayer. I really need Jesus to speak into my heart about what the root of these sin struggles is, because the one thing I know is that I don't want to remain unchanged. I don't want to waste any opportunity He gives me, through the promptings of Beth Moore or otherwise, to be more fully made like Him. Really, I just feel like a good hug from Jesus would make it all better. I think I'll go take a "bath."
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I still hope my original intentions for this blog will come to pass. But in the meantime, thanks to the prompting of brittany, take a look at this random picture from August 2007, 30th photo in my folder:
My sweet Anna-girl at her desk on her very first day of kindergarten. She insisted on riding the bus with her big brothers, so I had to drive to school and meet her in her classroom to take pictures of her. She always has shown an independent spirit!
She's already grown up so much since then (although the independent spirit thing hasn't changed!). I can't figure out why she has been so disobedient, because we have told her time and time again that she has to stop growing up so fast! Oh, well. We love her tons, anyway.
Friday, January 23, 2009
And why is it that when those tears do rise to the surface, I try to shut them off and pretend like it's not taking everything in me to keep from bawling my head off? Why do I try so hard to avoid crying in front of other people?
I know this isn't just me; I've watched many other people do the same thing. You can see the tears well up and watch them swallow hard as if trying to swallow the emotion that's producing the tears.
Didn't God create us with the ability to cry for a reason? Don't you usually feel so much better after you've had a good cry?
What is it about us that makes us want to hide our tears? What are we afraid of?
I don't know. I'm just wondering. I guess I need good cry.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Not sure how this girl finds the time to do this regularly with 6 kids, but it could have something to do with the fact that she appears to be a professional photographer, and with 6 young kids, I'm sure there's no shortage of pictures to choose from! Plus, I guess we all choose how to spend our time; I choose to look at her photos instead of editing mine!
Anyway, here's January 2009, 8th picture in the folder:
I'm thinking that I may just have revealed a little of my own pride, because I was so glad when I discovered that the random photo was actually a pretty good one. I think I might have deleted some photos out of the folder if it had been a photo of the back of her head or something like that. Perhaps a true photographer would embrace the beauty of the candid shot if it captured real life, but personally, I'd kind of like to show off my cute Babe!
Anyway, I took this photo to document Tori's first bath in the big bath tub, even though she's 8 months old and she'd had dozens of them by the time I snapped this; I just never remembered to bring the camera upstairs with me and couldn't exactly leave her in the tub alone to go get it! It also serves as a reminder of the fun bath toy Grandpa and Grandma N gave her for Christmas.
Isn't she sweet?
And here are a few more sweet faces I love from January 2008, 8th photo:
We had tons of snow and countless snow days last year, so this was taken on a Tuesday when the kids entertained themselves outdoors. They built a whole snow family, but I think this is "Big Mama." They posed with her in my honor (go visit Big Mama to see why this isn't an insult!)
I know how it is when you come across a new blog.... You're wondering who this is, what their story might be, whether it's even worth your time to start reading. So I'm thinking you may want to know a few basic things about this blog before you go any further:
- This isn't going to be one of those blogs that follows the blog-friendly rules of short, witty posts. At least not very often. This blog is intended to contain my thoughts on any given day, and most days there are many. So those who already know me know that means "brief" will not be a descriptor, and I thought the rest of you might like to be informed, too.
- This blog will not contain lots of artsy photographs taken with an expensive camera that allows me to take indoor photos with no flash and then edit them to look professional. I'm all about capturing memories with my point and shoot camera, but I don't think I could make them look professional if I tried... And I don't think I'll try because I definitely don't need one more thing to spend time on!
- As an addendum to the above point, neither will this blog contain pictures of me or my family sitting in a booth with a plate of food every time we go out to eat. For one, we don't eat out very often anymore. And second, the food we eat at our very few local restaurants isn't photo-worthy; when you've seen one fast-food chicken sandwich, you've seen them all.
- The look of the blog may be totally different each time you visit; don't be alarmed. Instead of spending my time editing photos to look professional, I choose to spend my time changing the background of the blog just because it's fun and easy.
- As I've said, this blog is primarily a place for me to journal my thoughts in a way I don't take time for otherwise, so you are guaranteed to see the "real me," even some things about me that I'm just discovering for myself. I hold some convictions quite strongly, so be advised that those opinions may be quite evident and are not intended to offend or condemn. Feel free to disagree in as respectful a way as you are able.
- That's not to say it won't also be a place to show off cute pictures of and stories about my kids or to just ramble about nothing deep at all. That's the beauty of a blog. I can talk about whatever I want because no one else is obligated to read one word of it!
Hmmm... what else would you like to know? More personal details about me and my family will come later. Right now I have to go back to my very normal life and do the dishes and start the laundry while the Babe is sleeping.
Friday, January 16, 2009
However, based on her comments today, it seems life actually can get even worse, believe it or not.
Just now, before stomping up to her room practically in tears, she declared, "You don't understand! You don't even know what it's like to be me. It's the WORST LIFE IN THE WORLD!" Again, this on the heels of being told "no" about trying a third snack after she just "didn't really like" the first two.
Anyway... At that moment, as I stared at the photo of a complete stranger lying in a hospital bed, I made a decision. I'm going to stop
I should clarify that I don't consider all my blog-reading a waste of time. There are many blogs that have encouraged me, inspired me, challenged me, and caused me to question some things in my life and myself that really could stand to be addressed. Made me ask hard questions like, "What would I say about God if I were battling cancer? Grieving the loss of a child? Facing infertility?" And some blogs just keep me connected to people I care about but rarely see and give me the treat of seeing pictures of some real cutie pies that often make me laugh out loud.
But sometimes what I've read or seen or just plain imagined about other's lives based on their blogs really brings out the worst in me. Granted, sometimes my disagreements are valid, and I may even be the one in the right once in a while, but ugly things like envy, a critical spirit, legalism, comparison, and self-condemnation would rise up in me. Why would I want to feed that?
And then there are those blogs that I read just because....
Oh, and in case you're wondering about the title of this post... It is probably the first of many things I'll write that makes perfect sense to me but may or may not make sense to anyone else who may stumble across this blog. But I'll try to explain:
You know how sometimes you're shopping and you don't really need anything, but you run across a great bargain that you totally can justify buying, even though you don't really "need" it? As I mentioned before, blog reading has consumed quite a bit of my time over the past year or so, but if I can sit here keeping up my own blog, recording memories and exploring some of the thoughts I don't otherwise take time to enter, well then, that's a time bargain!
Make sense to you? No? Oh, well. Better get used to that!