I sit here reflecting on what an amazing thing family is. Simple. People helping other people. Knowing full-well who you can count on. The individuals that would never hurt you if they could keep from it. Hugs. Smiles. Peace. Encouragement. I have all of this in my family, whether they’re in the same house or living in a different state. God has blessed me with role models, really great, strong ones who never surrender, even though there are days they want to. With tears in their eyes, they say “I’m doin’ ok” when you ask and you believe it, because we have a prayer-answering Father. And even though you may see some of their hurt, or that flicker of pain in their eyes, you have faith that they are ok. And on those days they want to quit, you’re able to remind them of that flame, that flicker of strength they possess, that can’t be extinguished, no matter the battle. No matter the odds or statistics. Diagnoses, injuries, heartbreak, and aches that most will never know about, will one day be erased. God is Alpha and Omega and those who call Him family can rely on His strength. We get tired, frustrated, offended, and discouraged, but with Him as our Father, we don’t lose. We get to look on His face one day and as every single individual’s knee bows, we will get it. We will finally comprehend what all of this has been for. And all the stress and anxieties of this short life will be a distant notion we can’t seem to recall. So if you don’t have the kind of family I do, be family for someone else. Hug freely. Smile incessantly. Sit beside someone and just be there in the moment. Breathe. And if you don’t know what a real relationship is like with the Creator of this place we call home for awhile, chase after it. Boldly ask God to open your eyes to that love that is like no other.
I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.
So, 16 seconds ago I was standing at the door of my kids’ room, praying that my youngest would stop wallerin’ his bed and fussin’ so that he didn’t wake up his sister. His sister, in an effort to not mince words (I’ve never been accused of this.) brought me to tears. I’m not sure where the attitude came from, but if I’d had time, I would’ve looked up boarding schools. I literally thought I might crumple to the floor, like the ever-growing pile of dirty laundry, under the weight of raising these children. I made a silent prayer that if they both went to sleep I would write. This is my outlet many times. It’s God, then the keyboard. Maybe they are one and the same for me. Either way, written/typed word has been a friend of mine for years as a means of therapy. It’s also cheaper. (Do you know what they make to tell you to “look inside yourself for the answers”??)
What do we do when the thought of cleaning up the kitchen or picking up toys or cleaning another sticky spill or listening to “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” or “Daddy, daddy, daddy!” brings on an instant headache?
I for one, think about quitting. Yep, that’s what I do. Not read the Word, not get on my knees and pray to the Almighty for strength, not call a “spiritual mother” (I’m still not sure what that last one is, enlighten me if you know please.) I think about what it would look like to quit. Let’s be real here: Shouting the words, “I QUIT!” and taking very large strides out a wide open door sounds preeeeeeeeetty good some days.
Then what? (For those of you parents still visualizing this scenario, back on track. I’m tryin’ to make a point here.) What would we do? We’d get some air, breathe a whole lot, then we’d realize we’d miss out on tons of really amazing blessings. The fight is worth the reward. It’s worth standing your ground (“NO more Gubble Puppies, er Bubble Guppies, tonight!” and prepping for the walls to shake due to screaming fits comes to mind.) to raise good Christian kids who become good Christian adults.
It works on the spiritual side of things too, for those of you who haven’t decided this already. Don’t you get sick of seein’ Bible-believin’ children of God getting sick? Don’t you just wanna quit sometimes? Knowing full well that’s not the plan God has? Why are we sick? Didn’t Jesus die on a cross for us to live the abundant life? The abundant life in my mind means not only 1.) No more cancer, but also 2.) No more colds and flu. In an effort to continue being honest and using unminced (deminced?) words, isn’t it discouraging? Don’t you just get so tired of being so tired? Why can’t we just figure this thing out?
Maybe that’s where trusting God comes in. We decide it’s not our “thing” to figure out. It’s just not for us. We accept what we’re supposed to and rebuke what we’re not and if it doesn’t go away right then and there, well? We accept that it’s part of His plan. Is it that simple? God is not the author of confusion. When’s the last time we grabbed our Bibles and claimed, out loud, what it said in there for all to hear, including the devil himself. When’s the last time we stopped, turned off all our screens, and listened for what God wants to whisper in our ear? When did we last breathe in, being still, and remind ourselves that He is God, our God?
Let’s start small: Take 3 ½ mins right now. Close your eyes and let God know that you know Who’s in control.
Then you can go work on your pile of laundry.
As my daughter watches “Little Rascals” for the 6th time in 2 weeks and my son naps, (prayerfully for longer than 12 minutes) I find myself in a state of overwhelmed disorganization. It appears that nothing in my life is organized in any fashion. And much to my exasperation, I have no idea how to go about reversing that. It is not a strongpoint of mine, perhaps anyone’s, to organize from the inside of chaos. Put me in my mom’s house and I can whip it into shape, i.e. “Why don’t you put the spatulas in that drawer instead of that one?” I see it so clearly as to how I can help someone else…when looking from the outside.
Since having kids I feel as if I’m in a constant state of disbelief and discombobulation. (Note: I’m not sure if that’s a word, but I don’t plan on checking. I have enough to do. Haven’t you been paying attention?) It is stressful to slip across the floor on your daughter’s “lovie-bear” as you search for your keys as they are not in the same place…ever. Suddenly, the dirty dishes in the sink spark the idea that your keys are in your other coat; you know the one with the print that reminds you of a dishcloth? By the time you get to the coat, you remember that your other coat needs to be drycleaned. Yet another to-do list item that’s not “to-done.”
It’s overwhelming to try and fix everything at once! I’m so thankful that God doesn’t make us fix everything at once! And not only does he not make YOU fix it all at one time, but He doesn’t make anyone else either. We’re all on a journey. This season especially, don’t judge someone else because they’re in a different part of the journey than you are. It’s easy for us to become self-righteous because of where we are, but let’s not forget where God brought us from. Christmas blessings to each of you!! Now…where did I put my Christmas ornaments?
Ahhhh, the holidays…or is it AHHHHHHHHHHH NO!!!!! THE HOLIDAYS!!! “I refuse to be neurotic this year.” This is my mantra. I choose to focus on the real reason for the holidays. I won’t be participating in any Black Friday events as (and I’m pretty sure I’ll offend some here, but that’s ok, to truly know me is to love me.) I don’t believe those who focus on the sales are focused on the real reason. There. I said it. It’s out. Comment if you must. I know that you can save money and I know that there are amazing deals and I know that blah-be-dee-blah-blah-blah…People who throw elbows in stores are not the ones I choose to model myself after. I have made the choice to be as Christ-like as possible and those stomping on others’ knuckles and kicking old women’s dentures in to get to the last LOL Elmo scream anything but “Jesus” to me.
I used to think it was so cool to have a holiday that we just spent being thankful…we’d spend time with people we were related to, some even named Uncle Herman, whether we liked them or not. We’d eat after saying a prayer that expressed how grateful we were to have all the blessings we do (even Aunt Barbara’s carrot casserole–what is she thinking?! Every year??), and we’d hang out in the kitchen or the living room, depending on where your priorities lay, whether you liked to pick at leftovers or watch the game more. We would leave that home feeling closer to our families, sharing stories and updates with our immediate family about everyone we had talked with.
Family. That’s Thanksgiving to me. Not crammed aisles, carts running into your heels, mile-long checkout lanes with less-than-chipper shoppers, grouchy cashiers wearing reindeer antlers. Our focus was not on how much time was left before we were heading to that superstore to spend our year’s savings, or worse, loading a plastic card at 32% interest. There was no agenda as to how long, exactly, we had to spend discussing Aunt Edna’s cat, even though I’m sure there needs to be a set limit on that conversation. We just enjoyed…or at the very least, relaxed. We breathed. We inhaled, then exhaled. We took the moments as they came, whether it was watching a wrestling match break out between cousins or an impromptu song from 3-year-old Kaitlyn.
My point is: I refuse to let these “stupor-stores” steal my joy and my breath this holiday season. I will take the time to truly spend with my family and be in the moment. Time is a gift. I intend to show how thankful I am for it this year.
So, here ya go God! Here’s 3 minutes! That’s essentially what I’m saying to Him and hoping that He’ll bless my writing this am! Arg! How undeniably insulting! Well, it’s been a battle…imagine that one, will ya? Since I decided to give God the first of my mornings, I have never been so tired in my life!! And this coming from someone diagnosed with CFS a few years back! (Actually, in all honesty, I just found out they never put that diagnosis in my chart. At first, I was extremely frustrated with our lacking health care system, but then I thought, “Hey, maybe this is God. Maybe I don’t need a label on all this junk. After all, the label hasn’t helped with a cure thus far.” So, come to find out, it was referenced as a possibility I believe. Even better, flailing health care or not, I chose to look at it as though it was in God’s plan.) The twists and turns of my journey are not to be ignored and undermined. Ha! This morning I find myself searching out ways to improve my health again…this time turning to a more Ayurvedic approach, based on my “dosha” or body type. Oil pulling, warm lemon water, green drinks are just a few of the new adaptations to my day. Having health issues requires a constant mind-alignment, mind/body/soul must be lined up with what God’s Word says and if we don’t take the time to do that, then we have no excuses as to why we feel the way we do. A friend of mine is a very unhappy, stressed, busy, busy, busy person. She told me she hates the summer and when I asked why, she stated she’s too busy and all she eats is junk food because she’s so busy. (let me preface this by saying, I truly, without a shadow of a doubt would get rid of the word “busy” from everyone on this planet’s vocabulary if I could. We make time for what’s important to us. If our priorities don’t line up with what we say they are, guess what: they’re not our priorities at all.) We live in a day where family, friends, and relationships take a back seat to all the other things we’re doing. Meanwhile, the WHOLE while, saying, “Family is very important to me” and “I love hanging out with my friends!” To schedule a lunch with someone you went to school with ranks right up there with completing a marathon! It’s so hard! Or is it? We breathe, we center ourselves, we determine what we can and can’t live without…for me, it is less TV and internet time…and go from there. Make choices, don’t let them make themselves, while you stand there frazzled feeling out of control of your life. My friend doesn’t have to eat greasy, sodium-filled, “edible, food-like substances.” (Thanks Michael Pollan.) I can wake up earlier to spend time with the Creator of the universe and I look at it like a chore?? My point is: We can change, but change doesn’t come about without conscious thought.
Ahhh, the quest to save money. My parents taught me well. I didn’t retain it at the time, but they taught me well. I became aware that I didn’t need to buy books on how to save money or cut costs because after the first one I read, I realized I know more than these people. I simply channel my Grandma (who used the elastic from my uncle’s Fruit of the Looms to hold the garbage bag up in the can) and hear my father’s voice, “We DO NOT cool the outdoors!” secretly wishing we could. I sweat a particularly abnormal amount.
The “Going Green” lesson was adapted to my dad unscrewing each of our lightbulbs if we left them on, leaving us to wonder each time we returned, “Did the power go off AGAIN?” Intelligent as my brother and I were, I must admit it took a few times, but it stuck. Recently I decided enough is enough: I don’t want to be paying for my education when my offspring is looking into retirement villages for me. (Picture it: My child sits down with the lawyer after I’m dancin’ with Jesus and he lets her know, not only did I leave her nada, but she also still owes the interest on my student loans. *Shudder.)
So, here I go on a green quest so to speak. As Larry Burkett says, I will be a “utilizer of resources” instead of a “consumer.” I plan to spend money on necessities (does anyone know what those are anymore?) not wants and desires. The cute outfit will have to wait, especially since my daughter is not even old enough to know cute, she just is. I’m going to save my pennies for the day when she simply MUST have the Hypercolor Tshirt from the mall. (Where did those go? I’m convinced they’ll be back one day and I pray I live to see it.)
The plan as of now is to use up what I have in my cabinets and freezer and fridge instead of buying new. I will be spending as much as a family of 3 will be on food stamps.
It wasn’t until I got older, got married, and got with it that I realized my parents were geniuses. The amount of money they must have saved by simply not wasting their resources would be unbelievable. They were green before green was cool. Country living is green living.
Just this morning, I thought, “I need new kitchen towels.” Instead of robotically (is that a word?) writing it on the WalMart list *hiss* I grabbed one of my daughter’s receiving blankets as we are no longer using them and cut it in two. Voila! 2 new towels. I couldn’t be prouder. In the words of my Grandmother, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”