Saturday, August 20, 2011

Computers and ice cream.

My stepdaughter is being big-time deceptive again.

I do not say that to be derogatory or to cut her down. I say that because I'm struggling with it. We dealt with it before, during the school year, and it has reared its ugly head again. (It involves her computer usage.) The only benefit to it happening now is that I cannot pummel her fuss at her about it when she's not right here. I have the opportunity to think much more carefully about how I respond. I have dealt with it as much as I can on my end (and, I admit, it included an eensy bit of vindictive anticipation [teehee] of when she finds out I have "dealt" with it), and the rest of the dealing will be done when her father gets to it.

I was wrestling with whether to go out at 10:00 at night to buy milk and gas (hubby called me about a really good gas price), but after this, I decided the cool night air was a good idea. I saddled up the minivan, and headed out, window down.

And I prayed.

I prayed that He would help me see the good in her before instead of hunting for the bad in her. I did that too much last year, and - Parenting Tip: it does not bring about the desired effect. I set about correcting it, but this uncovering tonight was like whiplash. It felt very yucky.

I do not want to have to deal with these same issues - these issues in me - this coming school year. Last year: practice run. This year: be ready. I want to know how I'm going to handle things. I want to be mentally, emotionally, spiritually prepared. I want to have peace and grace ready in my holsters.

So I also prayed for wisdom in how to handle this attempt at being ready. I even included a very submissive "but You said!!!"
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.          (James 1:5)
So I asked.

And He gave.

"Discipline," He said. Not in a punishment way. In a loving way.

When someone doesn't have the discipline on their own to stick to a routine or rule, loved ones can step in and assist. ACCOUNTABILITY, they call it. says it's "training to act in accordance with rules." So this is training. If my stepdaughter can't yet handle the great responsibility that comes with the great power of having unsupervised computer time, then we her parents must step in and assist her in learning this discipline. We simply remove the temptation of having computer time alone, in order to remove the potential sins of disobedience and deceit. (At least in this instance.)

It's not malicious. It's not a witch hunt. It's not neener-neener. It's full of love and grace (even if she'll hate it). Check your my motivations every so often, though: the intent is to protect her heart, her soul. We are supposed to train her in the way she should go, so that when she is grown she will not depart from it.

And oh, the freedom that comes from such loving discipline, when the God we serve removes temptations from our path - things we think we can handle, but really, not so much - in order to preserve us and protect us from bigger pitfalls just up ahead!

Now...who wants to come take the Doritos and chocolate ice cream out of my kitchen to protect me from that pitfall?

(I'm kidding...please don't.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

5-Minute Friday: New

I'm linking up with Gypsy Mama for today's 5-Minute Friday. I haven't done one in forever. I usually either can't always think of something to write that fast, or I'm so involved with whomever's "5-Minute" before me, that I can't come up with something original.

The idea is that Gypsy Mama gives us a word (or two or so), and we start writing, and keep writing for 5 minutes. No pressure, no editing, no backtracking, just a 5-minute stream of consciousness. Here goes...


I'm trying to think of something "new." Honestly, I am. Gypsy Mama wrote about the new things her firstborn teaches her every year. She's good at coming up with things like that. But it was her word, so I guess she had more time to think about it than the rest of us.

I just (well, in February) got a new (to me) minivan. I have a new room in my house, empty and ripe for the decorating. I just got new sneakers yesterday (ohsocomfy). I have some new pillows on my couch, and I love them.

But that's all just STUFF. I'm trying to pare down my stuff. It's just stuff! It's starting to drive me crazy, this stuff called Stuff. I have too much stuff. It's worthless in the long run, really.

And so, I'm entering into a new phase in my life of LESS STUFF. And not just stuff-stuff, but body-stuff, house-stuff, life-stuff, brain-stuff. I want to think clearer, live more purposely, exist in sparser surroundings, and pay more attention to my kids. Can't do that surrounded by cluttery Stuff. (I shouldn't even capitalize it like that, that's how insignificant it is.)

So along with my new phase in life of living with less stuff, I'm also experimenting with a new blog. It will reflect this new venture of mine. Wait and see.


Seeing in a mirror powdery...

This morning I made a very organized to-do list for the next three weeks. Very. Three columns in Word, sorted by due date, to be completed over the next three weeks. "Clean up baby powder in living room" was not on it.

I feel the need to announce to other mothers when I have reached an event in my children's lives that is a pretty uniform, momentous, across-the-board kind of event. Well, just now I have cleaned up probably half a bottle of baby powder. [cough, cough]

I was able to vacuum most of it, wet-washcloth the rest of it out of the cracks in the floorboards, and there's a bin of cars and car tracks next to the sink waiting to be rinsed. (My airways will be another story, simply requiring water and time, I fear.) I was washing dishes in the kitchen when I started smelling it. I thought I might've picked something up that had some on it; my 2yo son likes to squeeze the bottle, even though it's closed, to see the little poof of air. I keep taking it away. But when I started smelling it, I never thought...

Then my 4yo starts calling me from the living room. I gave my standard "I'm right here" response (because I am not a beck-and-call kind of mom; if you need me, come find me). He yelled louder. "Lij!" I said. "Come find me!" He yelled louder. "Elijah!!!" I turned around from the sink to march down the hallway, but I was already seeing the cloud being blown around by the air current from the backyard door. "Oh, NOOOO, Matthew! No, no, no, no, no!!!!" as I entered the living room to see my white rugs, white cars, white tracks, white wood floor, and white-legged, white-haired son. He dutifully put his head down and, agreeing with me, shook his head no.

I got a wet washcloth and wiped down his legs, then air-lifted him out of the mess onto a clean spot of floor in the hallway. Then I collected the cars and tracks and put the bin by the sink. I retrieved my parents' vacuum (I have a new one for myself on my wish list) and vacuumed what I could (there's still some there, because - let's face it - it'll wear away eventually). I finished by wiping down everything else - desk chair, desktop (keyboard before I started typing), plastic bag of Stuff, bookshelf legs, and finally....a tropical fish magazine.

My mother-in-law left it for my kids to look at when they were cleaning out their room to move back to Nevada. And as I wiped off the cover, beautiful colors seemed to be drawn fresh as though new, gorgeous yellow and pink fish went from dull and powder-covered to bright and something only God (and a good camera) could create. (Clearly not my phone's camera.)

How often does that happen in my life! I get used to blurry, dull things. I get used to my feet hurting because I need new sneakers. (This is huge to me because I finally have new ones!) I get used to my lower back hurting because I use it more than my stomach muscles, and I have bad discipline. I get used to the smell in my car because it's hot out and I don't feel like cleaning out the trash in the heat and humidity. (Who knew that salt and vinegar chips would actually turn into a something's-rotting-in-here smell?) I get used to being overweight because my husband loves me regardless. (He really does.)

This last year has been a long one. A tough one. A growing one. One where, more than I can count, I've said "whyyyyyy?" I have not understood what the plan is, I have not understood the reasons, I have not known what the outcome will be. I have learned to trust (mostly), and have faith.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.                (1 Corinth. 13:12, NASB)
I don't know about you, but I cannot WAIT 'til I see face to face. I can't wait to know fully. I can't wait 'til I see everything with all the baby powder wiped off. How bright and beautiful it will be, as something only God can create.

(Incidentally, it's fortunate that my coffee was in the kitchen with me, and not in the powder keg.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest post!

I'm a Guest Poster! Ooh la la!!! How exciting.

My dear friend Heatherly is on a social media hiatus, and has invited several of us to guest post on her blog. Today is my day!

"In this one particular area in my current life, I have been in and out of the hopeful pool so often that recently I told my husband that I was done being positive. I had no more in me, no more oompf to try again. I was taking up permanent residence on a chaise lounge."

Hop over here and read the rest of my post! I'm so grateful and privileged to write for her!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pretty. Beautiful.

For mothers of daughters... Please go read my friend Heatherly's latest post. She said it perfectly. I'm sure we either have or will wrestle with this very same situation at some point in our daughter's life. I've dealt with it, although a whole lot more lame than Ms. Het did. Her encounter was Heaven-written.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Self inventory.

It seems every so often you have to take stock of yourself, doesn't it?

I've been thinking about my blog. Just recently, so it hasn't been a real long contemplation. My blog says that I'm writing about the learning I'm doing in life, the way God is molding me into who He wants me to be, and how faithful He is along the way. Good platform. Nothing wrong with that.

But I feel like something's changing.

I don't know what it is. I know one phase of my life is soon to end, and another is soon to begin. Both are exciting. But other parts of my life are just as static as ever, with only God's timing to wait for. I read other people's blogs that are so critically integral to where they are in life, and mine almost doesn't feel that way anymore. I don't feel attached to it. I don't feel like it's about me. Hard to figure out what to write about, though, when you don't know your purpose, your calling.

So I find myself saying, "Okay then. So who am I?" I think I'll be exploring that over the next few days. Not necessarily in the blog, but in my head. These are some of my initial thoughts:

: I know I'm a wife and mom. Those are my callings. My highest callings. Not even writing can supercede either of those. Those are what I must concentrate on. God has given me beautiful gifts, and my focus must - joyfully!!! - be on them.

: I know this last week I have gone crazy trying to accomplish things in the house before hubby gets home. Today was a HUGE leap forward in that area, and I don't feel out of motivation yet. And I haven't felt much mommy-guilt about not hanging out with the kids, so I must've been doing okay! (AND, soon I'll have another room to work with, so it'll give us a little more breathing room.)

: So based on the last one, I know decluttering is huge for me right now. (It's always been a huge desire of mine, but I've been big-time active in it this week.) Paring down, living with less, living simply, passing this lack-of-a-need-of-shtuff on to my kids.

: I know I've actually managed to exercise twice this week, and I feel like continuing it.

: I know that God continues to provide for my family, right in the nick of time, every time. And I know that it usually happens even without me asking for it (I mean that in a shame-on-me way, not a wow-cool way). I know my prayer life downright s.u.c.k.s (sorry if anyone doesn't like that word). And I know that needs to change.

These are some of my thoughts. Things may not change at all in my blog, who knows. But I think I'm starting to grow tired of being a work in progress. I want to start being the progress. I think I'm hiding behind the process. I want to start seeing some results.

Pray with me, muse with me, suggest with me, while I try to figure it out? I'd be so grateful.

Two days to go.

My dear hubby told me this morning on the phone that his phone battery is just about dead and he may not be able to charge it before heading for home. That's the downside, but the upside is that while on the phone, he started getting weepy when talking about missing me. Victory!!!! :)

That is my big grateful for the day. But with 17 things left on my To Do list this morning, and three total days left to accomplish them, I simply started at the top and cranked them out, despite how unappetizing. (You know, those things on your list that you skip over for the more fun or quicker items?) However, I also added a few items, so now I have a total of about 7 things left to do tomorrow and Saturday morning.

My second greatest grateful for the day is the 4 bags of trash and 7 bags of stuff-to-take-to-Good-Will that are leaving my house! I'm actually getting it done! Feels so good. It's from the kids' rooms, too, and they're getting really good at getting rid of something they don't need, love, or will use. (beam) So proud.

I think I got more of a workout from decluttering the boys' room tonight than from Bellyrobics last night. And I celebrated with half a piece of chocolate cake (from Walmart, so, you know, eh) and a small glass of chilled white zin, and the last fifteen minutes of So You Think You Can Dance (incidentally, chuckling at my friend and bloggy-friends all a-twitter about it).

Tomorrow I get to say "tomorrow..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More gratefuls...

= I have been UBER productive this week. Unfortunately, at the moment, you can't see all the things I've gotten done (ain't that always the way?). But I have. I have done grocery shopping (at least in part, since I had a kid who didn't feel very good). I am getting forms ready for homeschooling. I have laid ten pavers at the bottom of my backyard steps. I bought a printer (by myself, thank you). I picked out a paint color for my coffee table (okay, that's just fun for me). I have have sewn a pillow for my 2yo. I have mended two other couch pillows. I have cleaned off hubby's desk (no small feat). I have taken the trash to the dump. And - not to be overlooked - I have kept up with laundry and dishes. (Okay, looking back over my list, those are relatively few things out of what I wanted to get done...but I guess that means I'll have plenty left to keep me busy!)

= All my children (plus a niece) spontaneously put themselves outside, making it so much easier for me to collect all the things in the living room and pile them on the couch and coffee table for children to put away, which now they are sorting into their bins in the hallway. Tada!

= A week or so ago I bought a new Febreze scent - Thai Dragon Fruit - which I'm now using with the vacuum, and I love it. Light and lovely.

= Brown sugar cinnamon Pop-tarts. That's all.

= Oh, and coffee. Heart.

= Did I mention my bestie?

= I took my first ever exercise class tonight, for goodness' sake! (Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone.) It was nuts. My body doesn't do that. But I did it! And now I know I could do it again.


It's Wednesday. Finally.

There's no monumental thing happening on Wednesday, except that it finally means that I'm more than halfway through my hubby's absence. Four more full days until his return. Four. Sigh. That sounds like a lot. Isn't that a lot?

Do I sound like a big whiny crybaby about my hubby being gone? I don't mean to. I'm doing okay. It's just getting harder. It's past the halfway point, but it still feels like I have as long to go as I've already gone. And one of these times when I say to him, "I miss you," and try to explain a little about how long it seems (and I'm getting a little weepy), I'd love it if he could come up with something inspiring to say. (I don't know what. I usually have an idea of what I'd like him to say - which leads to arguments heated discussions about feeling like his life is scripted for him. But this time I don't know what I want him to say. Just something. "I'm so sorry, baby." "I miss you like crazy, too." "I'm barely hanging on here..." You know. Something.)

Although here's my yearly disclaimer -- I am no military wife. I could never be a military wife. You ladies are crazy strong. Although I do think that dealing with your hubby being gone has a great deal to do with knowing roughly how long they'll be gone. If my hubby's supposed to be gone for a weekend, my heart is set up for 2...3 days max. Right now hubby is gone for 9 days. It's too long in my book, but I'll give him the full nine days. (But if he's not back Saturday night, as promised...Sunday morning at best, depending on his traveling party, I might shrivel up.) And, military wives usually live around (not always, but usually at least are involved with) a bunch of other military wives, to whom you can go and fall apart. And they'll come back to you later and return the favor.

Fortunately, my best friend (although in Arkansas...and not really the "fall apart" type) is a former military wife and completely indulges my ramblings and poutings. I'm so thankful for her.

But I am not mocking or belittling military wives in ANY manner. The fact that your husbands are gone for months on end, you get no reprieve as the sole parent in the house, your husbands signed up for the job but would not have chosen to leave their families for so long, and the fact that they're often heading off to harm's all trump me big time. I've got nothing on you and your conditioned nerves. Not that it ever gets easier, I understand.

So...if I stop and think about how long it's been and how long I have yet to go (and how easy it is for bitterness to creep in about what a good time he's having while I'm sitting here waiting, trying to stay busy), utter despair and depression is waiting and ready to jump in and be useful.

SO. I am clinging to the Beautiful Things that are acting as buoys for a few moment's rest as I tread one day to the next. And I'm feeling it necessary to start chronicling these things so I remember all the glorious gifts God's sending my way to care for me, to allure me, to speak tenderly to me. I do notice them as they happen. I need to remember them in the betweens. Here, my first three (so as not to make this post more cumbersome)...

= Yesterday while making dinner, my 7yo skipped into the kitchen, hugged me, and then skipped out. She, completely foreign to having The Love of Your Life away from you for so long. (Although he does act as her first love until she finds her own.) Later that same evening, she came in and sang me a song she learned at church about the countdown getting lower to the day of Jesus' return. How much more straight-from-the-mouth-of-God does it get?

= I had the courage to ask my mother-in-law to feed and watch my children tonight while I venture out to my first-ever exercise class! I've been trying to shred myself this week, and I've had much less discipline than I had about it last year while hubby was gone (it was the first time hubby had been gone that long and I dutifully got up every morning to do my video). I've done the shred a total of once. Since then my boys have not been sleeping well, and I have made the decision not to listen to my alarm clock. But tonight I am leaving the house to do some "Bellyrobics" so I will get at least a second workout in this week.

= What started as an annoyance is actually a blessing - MIL thought they'd just feed the kids chicken nuggets tonight. Tonight, when I actually had coincidentally put a kid-friendly meal on the menu called "bubble-up pizzas." But, feeding them chicken nuggets saves me a meal, a meal that I can then put on next week's menu and save myself the money. :) (Still would've been neat. Wonder what I'll have for dinner...)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

end of day

Oh, God... I'm getting to bed much too late and I miss my hubby and a dear friend hurt me tonight and I'm sad and I'm still coughing and I can smell hubby on the sheets and I'm lonely and I want to cry and I'm sore and I have to do it all again tomorrow and it's only the end of day 2 and I need his hug.

Please wrap me tightly in cool sheets and uninterrupted sleep and sweet dreams of grace. Amen.

Button, button, who's got the button?

I know it's trivial, but I'm excited. I just made a button! And in due form, here's where I learned how. She rocked it. Holla.

This morning's prayer.

God, help me just for today find the balance of getting work done and spending precious time with my kids. Help me not to worry about finding a long-term balance, help me not even worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own. Help me not only be a good wife, but a good MOTHER, too. Be constantly in my face, dear Lord.