A Trigger of Hope

Heartbroken tonight over loss.  A very recent loss of a childhood friend.

I am reminded of the loss that many felt on 9/11.  And the loss that many have felt in the years following.  Loss of soldiers, firefighters, police, medical personnel, and many other first responders on that day…and those that have carried on the fight in the years afterward.

This is a day that triggers a lot in our house.  It triggers memories, pain, helplessness, sleeplessness, and things we don’t even understand.  It impacts us still…years later.  It affects us in deep ways.  It has caused us to become numb to the pain that we should feel and to keep our guard up to protect ourselves against further pain.

It is so hard to look in the face of loss and not be affected.  I often feel helpless and hopeless against the evil, pain, sorrow, despair, tragedy, and even the toil of daily life that this world brings.  This world sucks in so many ways.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what this world is and forget who Jesus is and what He did.  It’s easy to desensitize myself against those around me so that if (and when) the time comes that I lose them that it won’t hurt so bad.  A lie at it’s best.

Today, the loss brought a new trigger.  If I don’t allow the Gospel to enter into this place then what good is the Gospel that I say I cling to.  Today, it was the only hope I had.  Hope that things won’t always be this way.  Hope that evil won’t always have free reign.  Hope that I can feel and love those around me without fearing the someday pain of losing them.  Hope that when Jesus said we are new, that we really are new and that we are continually being made new.  Hope that His story is one of redemption, love, grace, truth, and that one day…things.will.NOT.be.this.way.

Hope that He feels our sorrow, our pain, our disappointment, our hurt, our fear, and all that we feel.  Hope that His truth and grace and love can bring peace and comfort and HOPE to this world.  Hope that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  I have hope in Him.

It was a long day filled with tears, desperate prayers, memories, many stairs (9/11 Memorial Climb), anxiety, and yet, HOPE.  It took many moments of refocusing my thoughts and redirecting them back to Jesus and the hope that He offers.  Many times of reminding myself of the Gospel, that this world is full of sin (mine at the top of the list), His plan of redemption, the cross that Jesus endured, and the hope that He offers that this world is not our home.  It takes His truth to combat the lies that I’m so easily tempted to believe.  It takes His love and comfort to combat the fears and pain that I usually allow to reign.

His Gospel is a new trigger of hope.  And today, it’s a hope that He is here even on the painful days.

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Comedy from the Blue-Eyed Blond

I was riding in the car with my little L-Bear and we were discussing her snack.  She chose apple slices.  The following conversation ensued.

L-Bear: “I like these apples.”

Me: “Good!”

L-Bear: “Why did you say good?”

Me: “Because you like your apples.”

L-Bear: “How did you know I liked my apples?”

Me: “Um, you just said, ‘I like these apples.'”

L’Bear: “Oh, yeah, I do.”

I couldn’t wait to tell my little sister!  (And the rest of you too.)

Life with My SWC

So, I’m reading a book, “You Can’t Make Me, But I Can Be Persuaded” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobais, because I believe there’s a slight chance that I have a Strong-Willed Child (SWC).  Um, that’s a joke if you know my oldest.  

Part of what I’m learning from the book is that a SWC “can take what was meant to be the simplest request and interpret it as an offensive ultimatum.”  In my house that means, once I put the request/command out there and once she makes up her mind…it’s a done deal.  She’ll stand her ground…NO.MATTER.WHAT.  Oftentimes it’s the most infuriating thing imaginable because all I want her to do is obey and do what I’ve asked…mostly to make my life easy.

Tonight was one of those times.  I simply asked her to help clean up her toys in the living room.   She did not respond well and I was immediately on edge sensing we were about to have a power struggle.  So I offered her a choice to try to “encourage” her to make the “right” decision…you know, the decision I wanted her to make.

I offered up the option to her that if she didn’t want to pick up her toys that I would do it for her, but that she would have to pay me $1.00 of her money.  You know, the money she’s been working so hard for to save up for a new Anna doll or Clover Leaf Mansion.  I mean, who wants to give up their money to mom, right??  

Ha  I should have known with my SWC that once she’d made up her mind to not clean up she didn’t really care what the consequences were.  She wasn’t going to be made to clean up.  So what did she do…she marched into her room, got down her ‘Spend’ jar, and headed back to the living room.  She asked me, “Mom, what would you do with the money?  What do you want to buy?”  I told her that I wanted a new quilt machine.

She handed me a $5.00 bill and said, “I hope you get to the buy that Mega Quilter!”.  I told her that she didn’t have to do that.  She hugged me and said, “I want to.  And I’ll help you clean up the living room.”

So not only did she give me more of her money than was required, she recognized that she now had only $4, she’d been listening and knew the name of the quilt machine I wanted, and she helped clean up.

Now how do you respond to that?  

It certainly doesn’t always end that way, but when it does I take it.  While immediate obedience and compliance isn’t the norm, and I’m often weary from negotiating EVERY.LITTLE.THING, tonight I was reminded that SWC have some really amazing qualities.  I was quite thankful the reminder.  

Getting Organized: the Kitchen and a Menu Plan

So, the theme for 2014 is going to be less stuff, more efficiency, and more time for family and friends.  I am the keeper of the stuff at my house and I’m tired of having so much to pick up, clean, and take care of.  So, I’m getting rid of it.  If it’s not essential and we don’t love it, then it’s gone.  (It’s also my secret plan to fund a fabulous girls weekend to Boston this summer!)

One of the areas I want to work on is my kitchen and menu planning.

I started by reading this awesome blog which helped me declutter my kitchen.  I now have one section of counter-top that is completely free!!  I even put away 3 appliances (toaster, bread machine, and food processor) by cleaning out my cabinets.  I LOVE it.  I used to think my mom was crazy for not keeping her toaster out, but as it turns out, she is not.

Also, I want a menu plan.  The problem is that I hate to menu plan.  Yep, HATE it.  For some reason it thoroughly stresses me out.  I finally decided that if I was going to have a menu and put in on my (newly cleaned off) fridge then it should at least be cute.  It is.  And I’m going to share it with you.  It’s pretty much the luckiest day of your life.  😉

Fridge with menu plan

Chalkboard Menu – blank  (a pdf that you can print and fill in weekly)

Menu Ideas (a word doc that you can edit to include your family favorites)

I used a white colored pencil to start with, but I think I’m going to need a white/silver marker.  How sad, I guess a trip to the office supply store is in order.  (Said in total sarcasm because a trip to the office supply store sounds like a great day to me.)

Please prepare yourself to be completely annoyed by my upcoming pursuit of less stuff and the fact that I might try to convince you to do the same.  😉

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What are 10 things you could eliminate from your kitchen TODAY???

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I Forget.

I forget the impact that it has on my house.  I forget that it changed my life.  But, here’s the timeline, in case you were bored.

September 11, 2001 – Now we know it as 9/11.

Mid-November 2001 – Chad & I met at a concert through some friends.

Early-December 2001 – Chad & I start dating.  We didn’t waste any time.

January 2002 – Chad deploys to Germany for 7 months.  And we date through letters and phone calls.

December 2003 – We get hitched!

January 2005 – Chad deploys to Iraq.

June 2006 – Chad comes home.

Fast forward to this morning.  I should have realized something was different when Husband was showing 9/11 tribute videos to the girls at 7:30 this morning.  I also should have realized that he didn’t so much respond to anything I said all day long.  I also should have realized that he was a tad on the short side with us.  I finally caught on when he parked it on the couch to watch more 9/11 tribute videos tonight.  And then again when he let our little Banana stay up to watch the Clydesdale’s Budweiser video and we all got teary-eyed.

You see, I forget.  I mean, I recognize that it’s 9/11, but I totally forget the impact that it has on people like my husband.  People who were first responders or people who went to war for it.  You see, our houses will never forget.

We are so proud to be Americans.  We love our country and we will raise our girls to love her too.

It’s been 12 years since 9/11.  It’s been 12 years since I met my husband.  It’s been 11 years since his first deployment.  It’s been 7 years since his second deployment.  And every Memorial Day, 4th of July, 9/11, and Veterans Day since then we remember.  We remember the lives, we remember the sacrifice, and we remember how our lives are forever changed.  We remember what we lost.

And we watch a lot of videos.  And we get a little crabby.  And we get a little sad.  And one of us goes to bed early.  And one of us blogs about it.

And I love my husband even more because he remembers.

(Image Source:http://variouscreen.com/image-hd-wallpapers-american-flag.html)

Born to Quit

Yep, I’m a quitter.  Pretty sure I came out of the womb that way too.  When it comes to fight or flight, I’m flight all the way.  When I was little, my mom, trying to do the right “mom” thing, made me eat peas for dinner.  I tried to tell her that I didn’t like them, but she didn’t believe me.  So you know what I did?  Yep, puked right at the table (or at least that’s how I remember the story).  I was going to quit eating those blasted peas one way or another apparently.  And to her credit, she never made me eat another pea.  I still don’t eat peas.  Parents, let that be a lesson to you.  Sometimes, kids just really don’t like whatever that good-for-you-food is, no matter how healthy or how much you like it.  Well, that was a rabbit trail.

Moving right along.  I’ll pass right out at the doctor, dentist, hospital, or even just talking about medical related things.  The first time that happened was at the dentist when I was in 4th grade and it was a tad bit shocking.  Yep, I want out.

You can ask my little brother what he thinks about me being a quitter.  When we were little he used to refuse to play board games with me.  I would beg and beg and he would tell me no because I always quit.  I would beg and promise not to quit.  He would eventually give in and I would eventually quit.  I don’t know how that happened.

I don’t like tense books, movies, situations, conversations.  I just want out.

I recently realized that this is impacting in ways that I didn’t anticipate.  I often verbally threaten to quit things, from relationships to the current quilt project or food choices or running or keeping my long hair.  I’m an equal opportunity quitter from big things to small things.  Things get hard, tricky, awkward, stupid, etc., and, let’s be honest (I will forever hear that as lesbi-honest, thanks, fat Amy), I’m probably just gonna quit.  What I’ve discovered is that I usually don’t end up actually quitting, I just need to threaten it.

If I step back and look at things, I think it has more to do with needing to be heard or needing someone to acknowledge the struggle.  I am usually looking for affirmation that I’m right (imagine that) or affirmation that the situation or topic or relationship or item is legitimately difficult.

Well, now that I recognize this (thanks to my redemption group style processing), it should help me in conversations and situations, especially with my poor husband who usually gets caught in my verbal fire storm.  If I can go into a conversation or situation knowing that I’m looking for affirmation and not necessarily to quit (or to fight) then I have the potential to change the whole dynamic (internally and externally).  Knowing that I’m looking to be heard and acknowledged is an important distinction.  I mean, I’d really like to have both…being heard and being right, but whatever.

And to my credit, I have had the same car for 8 1/2 years.  I’ve been married for 9 1/2 years.  I’ve had many of the same best friends since college.  I’m still raising my girls, despite wanting to quit many times.  Sleep and peace are awfully enticing, folks.

I don’t always quit.  I am not a quitter.  I am new.  I am being made new.

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What makes you want to quit?

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Forever Really Isn’t That Long

So, prepare yourself.  You’re either going to be jealous or tad bit smug.  Jealous because both my girls are in school or smug because one of them is only in half-day preschool.

At any rate, I ran by myself this morning while the girls were in school with no thought to having to get someone to watch them while I left the house.  And then I came home and cleaned.  Dusted, vacuumed, mopped, tub, toilet, etc.  And you know what…it actually stayed that way for a bit!  And I got to clean with no interruptions.  This is a seriously good thing.  2 hours and 35 minutes every day child free.  Errands by myself are a breeze.  Volunteering.  Meeting with people.  I do what I want, yo.  Although my little Banana might have caught on because she’s started giving me errands to run while they’re at school.  You know, she needs her medicine and the dogs need their food and I should probably do those things while they’re gone to school.  Yeah, sure, I’ll get right on that, 5 1/2 year old.

But you know what I thought at one point this morning?  “Oh, you know, that really wasn’t forever.”  You see, I actually used to think that I would be in “that” season forever.  “That” season where I was constantly doing everything for 2 other humans.  Where I ran on exhaustion more often than not.  Where I didn’t get consistent full nights sleep for like 6 years.  Yes, I said 6 years even though my little Banana isn’t 6 yet because lets be honest you don’t exactly get a full nights sleep when you’re pregnant.  Where I couldn’t do anything without making sure that my children where in someone’s care.  Where I couldn’t eat a hot meal.  You get the drift.

So, weary moms, be encouraged, I have arrived to a season with a break.  It really does exist.  Who knew???  And it won’t take you forever to arrive.  Oh, be sure, it will feel like forever.  It feels like an impossibility.  A dream world.  A mirage.  But it’s not.  And someday you will join me.  And then we will join those with children in full-time school and then in jr high and then driving (which I’m personally looking forward to so that I have my own personal shoppers) and then college.  It may take years to get to the next season, but for most of us, the next season does exist.  In my world, it took 6 years.  And that felt.like.FOREVER.  But now I’m here and it’s kind of nice.

And looking back, I’m glad I did it.  I was stretched and pulled (sometimes quite literally) and tested far more than any other 6 years of my life.  And I think, I think, that I came out more refined and less selfish than when I went into “that” season.  I have to believe that God used all those trials for my good.  I can certainly assure you that I look more like Jesus now than I did 6 years ago.  And for that, I’m grateful.  Although I kinda wish there had been an easier way to get here.

To be sure this season will have its challenges.  My little banana has apparently already cried at school several times because mean little girls told her that her drawing was ugly or they didn’t want her to be best friends with anybody else or they scared her on the playground.  And so it begins.  But, it begins with a mom who’s a little less exhausted, a little less man-handled during the day, a little more rested, a little more margin, and a little more hormonally balanced (thank goodness for my Yasmin).

You know what, it really didn’t take forever.  It really was worth it.  And I’m really glad I’m slowly but surely moving on from it.

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What is the hardest season you’ve been through?

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Ready or Not

I’ve been feeling it all week.  I knew it was coming.  And now it’s here.  My little H’s first day of kindergarten.  We got up in plenty of time.  Got her lunch packed, backpack ready, first day pictures taken, loaded up the car, and taken to school.  She was so excited!  She’s in class with her best friend from last year and she couldn’t be more thrilled.  Good luck, Teacher.  😉

I mean, who doesn’t LOVE kindergarten?  It’s pretty much the best grade.  EVER.  Although she’s not impressed by the thought of having to do crafts.  She is certain that they’ll be way too hard for her and so she’s just going to hate it in advance.  I can totally relate.

So, if I know she’s going to love it and do great at it and I’m going to enjoy the break, why is it so freaking hard?

I going to miss her.  For the past 3 1/2 years (and more before that) I’ve spent almost every day with her.  It’s been my job to do things for her and teach her.  Now there’s another woman.  That blasted “other woman”.  Suddenly, someone else has a tremendous amount of influence in her life and will be teaching her things and experiencing things with her.  Um, that kinda sounds like my job.  I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up to a lady that I met just a few days ago and have had all of 4 minutes conversation with.

Oh, and did I mention that kids are mean.  They’re going to hurt her little feelings and make her cry.  My umbrella of protection and control just shrunk considerably.  And I don’t think I like it.

You see up until now, I’ve been able to choose what I want to do for her, how I want to help her, train her, who she spends her time with, and who her friends are.  I could do a lot to protect her and prevent things proactively.  Now, it’s going to be more of a pick-the-pieces-up-after-they-crash sort of thing.

I lost a lot of control today.  I suppose that’s good and bad, but mostly just part of it.  I guess this is why God lets us do this in small steps.  I mean, shoot, my aunt has to drop her baby off in a different town, at a different house (aka dorm), with all new people, and basically no control.  Ugh, that’s sounds like a horror flick to me right now.  Maybe kindergarten isn’t so scary.

Maybe it’s another reminder that she’s not mine.  And that God loves her more than I ever will.  Do I trust his story for her (and for me) more than I trust my own for her life (and my life)?  His umbrella is bigger than mine ever was.

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PS – (Less than an hour to go and I can officially say I we made it through the day!)

And Now I’m 32

Yep, that’s right, 32.  I guess I’m older and wiser.  Probably mostly just older after the year I’ve had.  The wiser part is definitely in question.  All in all I would say that I would never ever ever ever want to do the year of 31 again.  Some years are good and some are not.  And 31 was not.

I even refused to buy a Thirty-One bag because it was my own way of rebelling against 31.  It was the year of the crazy.  I went off the pill, we tried to get pregnant, diagnosed with PCOS, back on like 4 different pills, and I was full on crazy.  Although my doctor has given me permission to tell anyone I want that my hormones are quite literally all jacked up.    That’s bad news for me and for you, I’m afraid.  I’m certainly functioning and moving forward, but man, I would never ever wish PCOS on anyone because it has done a number on me.  That and the sleep disorder (which may or may not be linked).  Even if it’s not linked, the PCOS sure doesn’t help any.  I’ll spare you the crazy story behind that because if I told you, you might actually lock me up somewhere.

I feel like 31 was a year of change.  Not necessarily big change, but change none-the-less and change seems to take a toll on me.  Now granted it might not take the same toll if I’d release my grip on my plan a bit, but I’ve got plenty more years to work on that.

And, by the way, now that I’m 32, not only am I going to buy a Thirty-One bag, but I’m going to have a party!  Take that year of 31.

I guess I’m a hot freaking mess doing the best I can.  Some days are good.  Some days are not.  And strangely I’m finding grace in between.  And sometimes I don’t even like that.

Let me tell you a story about my little Banana.  And I’m going to remind you up front that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this house.

My little Banana was doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing.  I can’t remember exactly what, but I think it involved her little sister.  I told her a couple times to stop and we talked about things and I handled them like a good mom would.  Well, she kept getting more and more frustrated and therefore more and more disobedient.  I told her that she deserved a spanking, but I was going to give her grace and not spank her.  Instead I had planned to just try to talk things over with her.  Well, she spun around on her heels and yelled across the room, “I DON’T WANT YOUR GRACE!”.

I think that’s where I am.  I want my good days to be my own doing and my own earning.  And I want to punish myself for my bad days.  That way, when I have a good day I feel even better about it and when I have a bad day I feel even worse for it.  I’m basically giving the Cross the middle finger while screaming (only the inside, because I wouldn’t anyone to think that I was actually crazy), “I DON’T WANT YOUR GRACE!”

Maybe now that I’m 32 I won’t do that anymore…at least not as much.  You see it’s absolutely crazy to me that every morning is new.  How can I get out of bed each morning and not get to claim the goodness of yesterday or not deserve to punish myself again for yesterday?!?  What would it look like to live in the grace that is there waiting?  For me to give Jesus all the credit when I have a “good day”?  You know when I don’t yell at anyone, and I actually read books with my children, and I engage with people, and I serve my husband, and I cook dinner AND do the dishes…Jesus gets the credit (just nevermind the fact that there might have been some sin in there somewhere).  And for me to crawl in Jesus lap when I have a “bad day”?  That He already had a way worse day than any of mine and He literally held the punishment for every sin ever committed and ever to-be-committed by me and everyone else??  What the what?  Now that’s freaking crazy.  Sure I don’t really want that kind of punishment on myself for my bad day yesterday.  Maybe that grace wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Where have I been?  ha  I’ve been in the pit.  It seems I’m always on the verge of dropping over the cliff of despair.  Always dangling over and not ready to fully give up but not really having any hope either.

I’ve been trying really hard to convince myself to have hope for change.  But truth be told, I have no hope.  This whole poly-cystic ovarian syndrome crap has really worked a number on me.  I can honestly say that my hormones are all jacked up.  I’ve been on two different kinds of birth control and they’re both not working.   And not only are they not working, but their added side effects are driving me more crazy.   So, I’ve been one crazy crabby mess.

I started working out again and that seems to make a difference.  I keep getting out and doing things and being around people because I know that its worthwhile to do those things and being around other messed up people makes me feel a tad more normal than I usually feel.

I got to go out of town by myself yesterday for a Tupperware party.  I know, I know, I know.  Tupperware?!?  But you know, I feel like it’s almost a gift God has given me for right now.  I genuinely love Tupperware.  It has helped organize my kitchen, given me cool stuff, meet some new people, and I get to do it for me.  It has actually been a small glimmer of light in the dark months.  And on my way yesterday to my sister-in-laws house I got to listen to two sermons.  Must have been the Holy Spirit, because I’ve pretty much been avoiding God.

Not that I don’t like God or believe in Him.  And not that I don’t have the hope of heaven, I do.  But I’ve lost all hope of this earth.  The crime, the sickness, the vileness of commercials, music, movies, ads, clothing, and the like is enough to knock me off kilter.  I am so disgusted by and fearful of this world we live in and raising two daughters in it.  Ugh, overwhelming.  I see the truth of the sin and where this world is at and where it’s heading and it numbs me into throwing my hands up and wanting to waive the white flag.  I’ve tried to see the good, I’ve tried to make myself hope, but to no avail.

Between the hormones, the meds, the sin of the world and those around me, I’ve been paralyzed with no hope.

So back to yesterday, I listened to two sermons in the car, by myself, with no interruptions and it was glorious!  Here are the links.

http://marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-and-anxiety

http://marshill.com/media/proverbs/enjoy-your-life

And then I got up this morning and this was in my YouVersion reading.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believe, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Romans 15:13

I mean, did you read that???  God must seriously be chuckling at me.  This whole time I thought I had to make myself have hope and it hasn’t been working.  Ironically the only thing my attempts seemed to bring were more anxiety.  I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted.  I start new meds today and God has given me a verse that teaches me how to have hope.  Amazing.  Only the power of the Holy Spirit.  NOT the power of SarahFae.  Noted, because that clearly wasn’t working.

I am committing to memorizing this verse.  Feel free to ask me about it.  God also gave me this verse a while back.

2 Chronicles 20:12 “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

It even rhymes!  I mean seriously, I do not know what to do a lot.

So, there’s an update on my journey.  Still riding the waves of these blasted hormones.  Still trying to sort out life on this earth.