Thursday, September 30, 2010

By Faith (ASHMWKSFD Part 3)

It's the 4th week of school and I think, somewhere between the third week of school and now, I have found my ASHMWKSFD groove. I sit here listening to the tip tap of the rain outside because the house is quiet and I can actually hear it. The kids are adjusting and I'm adjusting. You ladies were right, I will still be busy even with the kids in school all day. Getting better at the day to day. Getting things done and not feeling wasteful of my time. It's different. Not bad or good, just different.

I was tucking my son into bed last night when he leaned up to kiss me on the cheek. He said, "Mom, I love you like crazy!" What a beautiful thing! My kids are such a joy to me. I wish I could bottle those moments as a reminder on those hard parenting days.

So I'm in this place where I'm trying to figure out what God wants me to do now that my kids are in school all day. And for whatever reason I'm feeling this great pressure that because we don't have a lot of money that the expectation (not from my husband) is to go out and get a job. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but I don't know if that's what God wants me to do. I don't even know what kind of job I would go out and get.

I love photography and video editing and writing from the heart. Can I get a job doing that stuff, please?

I love volunteering at school and going on field trips and being involved in my kids lives. I still want to be available to do that. It's important to our family.

We can't have it all. Don't get me wrong, I'm a hard worker. I'm not saying I don't want to "work". I'm just saying going out and getting a job, any old job, just doesn't feel right to me. Not now.

So by faith I'm going to try to take more pictures.

And by faith, I'm going to edit videos for this really kind and generous Christian man that is willing to use me to edit some ministry projects for him. Here's something he shot and edited.

And I don't know what any of this will look like. And I continue to pray, NOT that God will bless what I HAVE decided to do, but that He will lead and guide my path to do what He wants me to do. I don't want to get in the way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Forever Marriage

Adam and I were given the great blessing of attending a Christian Marriage Conference this past weekend. We're always interested in opportunities to refocus and recommit ourselves to each other; and the weekend away wasn't too bad either. Although I'm not at liberty to share much of the specifics about the weekend, I feel like I would be remiss in not saying anything about it.

The truth is, the weekend was a great blessing. And I just can't keep that to myself. It was convicting, eye opening, and overwhelming. So beautiful to meet couples who, in spite of trials, are committed to forever. It was a huge reminder that everyone has a story. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man" (1 Corinthians 10:13), meaning you are not alone in your struggles. There are people who have endured more or less, but we all have something.

I have written about this before, but somehow when I'm in the middle of a difficult time, a period of time in a process, I forget this important truth. God says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He tells us we will have trouble. He also tells us these troubles will strengthen us (in James 1:3).

The idea, the reminder from this weekend, was that we have a choice in how we respond to what happens in our lives. That we can choose to live in a state of praise & thanksgiving. Christian speaker, Ken Poure says, "we can only think about one thing at a time. We can't worry and thank God at the same time." Never really thought about it like that before.

Humans are selfish. We worry about ourselves all the time. But praise is unselfish. It focuses our attention away from ourselves. "God is God and I am not" (Ken Poure). God is in charge! What a relief!

Andrew Murray, a South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor, once said something along these lines:
"God brought me here. It is His will. In that I can rest. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He wants me to learn. In His good time, He'll bring me out again."
I believe this way of thinking keeps us from blaming God when hard things come. It reminds us that we can either be the victim of what is happening or we can let the experience grow and strengthen our character.

Paraphrasing from Ken Poure: It's about sacrificial praise. Surrendering your right to control and your need to know why, your right to complain and groan, and your right to do it your own way.

"If it's happening you need it. Don't argue with God" (Ken Poure).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When I Can't See, I Know YOU Can!

Sweet face smiling, big blue eyes, two little teeth sticking up from the bottom -- a lovely chance to meet my good friends' precious baby boy for the first time. He is such a happy, easy going baby and when he smiles, it's pure joy!

I've known this friend for many years and I have had the great blessing of staying connected with her no matter where the road has taken her. She and her husband have done their fair share of traveling over the years, living in many different states all across the United States. Settled now for several years in Minnesota, they now have this beautiful (or should I say handsome) addition.

For all of the years I have known her and her husband they appear to be just like any other normal couple. They love each other and the Lord and devoted many years to sharing their love of Christ by working with a music ministry. And they are like any other normal couple, but with one unique twist...her husband, Dan, has Retinitis Pigmentosa. RP is a degenerative, inherited eye condition which affects the retina, resulting in progressive vision loss. Vision deteriorates slowly over time, usually over years. The outer edges of the field of vision gradually disappear leaving "tunnel vision". Over the past several years his vision has been declining dramatically. There is no cure for RP.

Having just had the chance to spend a short 2 days with them I am overwhelmed at all they have to deal with. And I want to express to them how remarkable and inspirational they are because I know sometimes it doesn't feel that way to them. They live with the stresses of RP every day. It may complicate things, but they have done amazing things to make it work. And right now they are at a crossroads. They are trying to make some big decisions and along the way struggling with the reality of this disease. They need support. They need resources.

I am certain that God has a plan for their lives. I am certain that God is going to use Emma and Dan in a special way because of RP. I know there are other people out there living with RP or loving someone with RP and their story is going to inspire others.

It's just so complicated. This world is not set up to support someone with sight problems. But when it feels like there are a lot of "cannot's"; can't drive, can't see details, can't navigate in low light, can't perform every day activities without support --- I know God can see all the "can's".

God, please open doors for Emma & Dan. Lead and guide them to opportunities that will give them both purpose and direction. Make clear the way they should go. Protect them from the voices of uncertainty and hopelessness. I pray that they will trust You, Lord --- that you have a plan and will use them for your glory. I pray they will surrender and be open to whatever that is.

Consider checking out Emma's Facebook Group called "Wives of Husbands with RP".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Love Is In The Meatloaf

Take a pound of ground beef, some oatmeal, some ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce, and some seasonings; mix it all together; form it into a shape resembling a brick or small loaf of bread; and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and voila! You have yourself a meatloaf...atleast that's the way I make it.

I don't like meatloaf, mind you. Even describing it this way sounds as appealing as, I don't know, eating a brick, perhaps? The ENTIRE reason that I make meatloaf at all is because it's one of my husbands favorite comfort foods. I actually enjoy the thought of buying the ingredients and making them into a meatloaf because I know how happy my husband will be when he finds out we're having it for dinner. Add "the best mashed potatoes ever" and some steamed broccoli and he's in heaven! It doesn't take much for some people, I guess.

See it's not really about the meatloaf. It's about the fact that he enjoys it soooooo much. There is love in that meatloaf. It's not about me and the fact that I despise meatloaf (well, maybe that's a little strong of a word to use). It's about the fact that it's one of his favorites and I want to do things for him that make him happy. I love him!

I only wish love could be in everything I make. Because I'm making it sound like I'm really great at loving my husband when in fact, I struggle the same as anybody else. Marriage is about loving the other person and putting them first. It's easy to do that when your spouse is doing that for you, but what if they're not? What if you keep on giving and they keep on taking? How long before you stop making them meatloaf?

God wants us to love each other sacrificially, putting our spouse first. How does that play out in your marriage?

Love isn't just in the meatloaf. It's in the dishes Adam does for me because I hate dishes. It's in the lunch I make him so he doesn't have to make it in the morning. It's in the folded laundry. It's in the ways we serve each other.

But it doesn't end there. Love is not only in the things we do for each other. Love is in the time spent. Even in the activities given up so that we can spend time together. Love is in the intimacy that is shared and not withheld. Love is making connecting a priority.

Love is knowing that the way I feel love is not the same as the way you feel love. And that may be the hardest thing of all.

Love is trying. It's being committed. It's never giving up hope.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-13)
Really, the reason love is in the meatloaf is because that's what's motivating me. I'm not making it for the sake of making it. I'm not grumbling and complaining when I'm making it because it's not MY favorite dish. I'm not making it BECAUSE he did something nice for me. I made it because I love him, pure and simple.

All this talk about food is making me kind of hungry. Maybe Adam will make me an ice cream sundae? ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guilty as Charged! (ASHMWKSFD Pt2)

With shopping list in hand I push my cart up and down the aisles filled with food. It's early and not at all crowded...just the way I like it. I bag up my produce, order my lunchmeat, and collect the items I will use to feed our family for the week. This was always an errand I didn't mind running, but it was always more complicated with the children. There were many days when I wished I could run in alone. It certainly wouldn't take me as long...and there would be no stop-touching-that's or come-back-here's to be uttered.

But today, I was alone.

Now if I could just preface this post by stating that I am okay. I am just trying to be real here. I'm not depressed. I'm not sitting in the house all day crying because my kids are at school and no one is here. The reality, though, is NO ONE IS HERE. And I'm feeling so bad these days at being alone. Once upon a time I was somewhat alone. I was independent and made choices for myself. I guess I underestimated how much motherhood can impact you. And I know as time goes on I will figure it all out and I might actually like the alone time. But I have a feeling I'm not the only one that's ever felt this way, so I'm going to share what I'm feeling for those Moms that totally get where I'm coming from.

So back to the grocery store....I'm pushing my cart down the dairy aisle and my ear catches a line from the song playing over the store's speakers. "Blah, blah, blah ALONE". "Blah, blah, blah ALONE". I keep hearing the word "alone" and the voice inside my head says "you are so bad at alone". Then, my cell phone rings ("And I would walk ten thousand miles...") and it's my loving husband who KNOWS I'm ALONE calling in to check on me. And I tell him about the "blah, blah, blah alone" song ("Alone" by Heart) playing over the loudspeakers and how I was just saying to myself that I'm really terrible at being alone and he laughs.

I am not pathetic (atleast that's what I tell myself). I haven't been alone all day in 8 years. I don't know how to be alone. How do I spend my time? Do I do errands and chores all day? Does that mean I'm a good stay-at-home Mom? Can I sit on the couch and read a book? Or watch that girly movie we rented but didn't have time to watch that has to be back at the store tomorrow or we have to pay extra for it (and I'm NOT doing THAT)? Does that mean I'm a slacker? What if other people knew I was sitting on the couch eating bon-bons? Would they even care?

So all of THAT thinking leads me to this blog post about GUILT! There, I said it. Basically I think I'm bad at being alone because I have a guilt complex. I have a long list of things to do. Staying at home is pretty much my job...or was it taking care of the children? Because they aren't here all day anymore. So what am I supposed to do? What does this stay at home Mom do when her kids are in school full day?

And besides guilt there is this overwhelming feeling like I don't know who I am anymore or what my purpose is because my main purpose is at school all day. Becoming a mother is like this identity that seeps into you slowly and before you know it it is who you are. And if you aren't careful it becomes the ONLY thing you think you can offer anymore.

I know that I need "me" time. I deserve "me" time. But what does that look like in the day to day? I traded no "me" time for a day full of it and now I don't even know what to do with myself. I can't even use this "me" time for me because I feel guilty not doing any "work". Is your head spinning? Because I am an over-thinker. Maybe that's why this is so hard for me. Too much time to think.

My fellow ASHMWKSFD' do you spend your days? And how do you do it guilt-free? Or is that just a dream I've convinced myself I can achieve? I'd love it if you would share your secrets with me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ASHMWKSFD Pt1 (Adventures of a Stay At Home Mom with Kids in School Full Day)

So the first day of school has come and gone. Both children are making their ways through the first days of a new school year. Both like their new teachers. Both have friends they already know in their class. Things could not be going smoother for this new transition...well, except maybe for the Mommy they're leaving behind.

First drop-off was fine until she walked into the school building. As I turned to leave, alone, the tears started to flow. The teacher outside saying "you did that like a pro". I laughed to myself as I pulled my sunglasses down over my glistening eyes. Why do I feel silly crying? This is new for me. 8 years of being a stay-at-home Mom with little ones needing me. And now I walk back to my car alone.

So yes, the first day of school was hard. I have a laundry list of things to do, but I'm having trouble figuring out which to do first. I get easily distracted and almost missed lunch without my little girl asking me a hundred times "is it time for lunch yet?" The first lunch home alone was quiet. I left a little early to pick them up because I couldn't wait to have them back with me again.

Oh, the growing we'll all do this year. It's a process. And I am impatient in the process. It will take some getting used to. I will enjoy the peace and freedom of running my errands and getting my chores done. But the honest truth is, the day isn't that fun without a little one there. So for those Mommies still wiping noses and changing diapers, embrace this time. Enjoy days filled with coloring books and building blocks. Because one day soon, they will be running off to school with lunchbox in hand, waving good-bye and you will be eating lunch alone at a quiet table. **sniffle**

Tune in for the next installment of ASHMWKSFD! Until then, wish me luck...

If you missed reading the Prequel, click HERE.
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