Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reflection

Last Wednesday, during the Bible study at church, we continued the discussion on How to Spend Time with God.  I know, there are some of you that are rolling your eyes and getting ready to click away from reading this and for that all I can say is, "do as you wish."  There are a few points that really stuck out to me as I went back over the outline tonight; they are:
  1. God wants to spend time with us.
  2. You cannot be a healthy Christian without it.
  3. The purpose of a daily quiet time is to express your love to God and to receive guidance from Him.
  4. Set a time and place and stick to it.
  5. There are going to be distractions; be prepared.
  6. It takes 3 weeks for you to become familiar with something new and an additional 3 weeks for it to become part of your lifestyle.
You may be wondering, that is if you are still with me at this point, why on earth is she bringing this up now.  Well, last week really convicted me.  I mean, the Lord gives me 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, 8736 hours in a year and all he asks for is 365 hours, or 4.2%, of that time.  As I sat there thinking about that, I started to rationalize away my time and why I couldn't spare even an hour of it for quiet time.  My rationalization went a little something like this:
  • Work = 50 hrs/wk
  • School (class time and homework/studying) = 12 hrs/wk
  • Driving (to and from work & school) = 11 hrs/wk
  • Kids/housework/family = 30 hrs/wk
  • Sleep = 42 hrs/wk
That all comes to 145 hours a week and then there is church, family functions, time spent with friends, non-household chores, etc...and I'm supposed to squeeze in another hour each day...SERIOUSLY!

I got to pondering my rationalization and that is when this past week things really started to come into focus.  You know, I oftentimes believe focus comes not from inner thinking but from upper thinking.  So what is it that came into focus?  Well, why my life is the way that it is right now.  Why it feels like I'm nothing more than a hamster in a wheel.  I'm simply going through the motions.  I don't have that time with the one person that knows me better than I do, helping me to prioritize, to keep focus, to keep organized, and to lean on Him.  Nope, I'm a lone ranger out there going at it like I have the biggest six shooter there is.  Yet, it's high noon and I'm standing in the town square facing myself.

I'm sure you've heard the saying that goes a little something like 'a person is their own worst enemy'?  In my humble opinion, that is more true that the law of gravity.  It is easy to fall into the pit of despair, the cycle of stinkin' thinkin' when you are susceptible to what ever negativity is in your head.  Of course, there are a lot of reasons negative things get stuck in your head, but I'm not going to get into theology at this time.  Sometimes, it takes making that first step, one you may have taken a time or two, and giving God that hour.  Honestly, an hour was too much for me the first day, but I gave Him 10 minutes, then a little more and a little more.  Now, I haven't given it to Him at the same time or even every day, but this week has been a really, really good week; perhaps He was blessing the time I did give to Him.

On that note, I'm going to leave you with a song that has spoke to my heart a lot lately, and I think I know why God has used it.  Please click on the title and REALLY listen to the lyrics!

Someone Worth Dying For

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School

The process actually started last week.  First, with the supply shopping then with the clothes shopping.  Now, I do realize they didn't "need" clothes, but I had coupons and well, I always like having something special to wear on big days and thought they would too. It wasn't until last night we decided to organize the school supplies.  So there we were at 7:45pm going through stacks of notebooks, folders, pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, glue, etc deciding what was going into which backpack.  It concluded with me having  two bags of stuff to carry too.  Once we finally got through that exercise, which would have gone better had I not thrown out the supply list in the first place, it was time for the bedtime routine.  However, much to my chagrin over an hour had passed and the window of opportunity had passed for showers to be had so I made the "wise" decision to let them just take showers in the morning.  (Don't parents just LOVE their "wise" decisions?!)  I had Audrey set her alarm clock for the bright sunny time of 7am in the morning, thinking I will get up at 5am (this allowed me to sleep in for a bit since I took a vacation day) and get all the clothes, breakfast, etc etc around thus setting the stage for a PERFECT morning.  Honestly, I think God enjoys when His children make plans as He gets to show them that life isn't and can't be planned to the letter.  Well, we didn't have perfect.  What we had was a typical day in the life of a family trying to cram 2 hours worth of work into  45 minutes; essentially it was a comedy of errors.  No one could decide what they wanted to wear, the new shoes were now not what they wanted, the hair curling did not get done and the landscaping looked horrible as the backdrop for the pictures.  (I found this humorous considering I have had the kids stand in the same spot every year since they started school.  My landscaping has changed more than their clothing choices...yes, it is that bad!)

Once the pictures were all done and we could actually start the walk to school, they decided we were going to go s...l...o...w.  Of course, this got me riled up because I vividly remember last year when I thought we were going to leave the house at 8:10 and get to school in a timely manner and get pictures of the girls entering their classrooms, setting at their desks, posing in front of their lockers, pretty much just being "that annoying picture taking" family.  Oh no, it was almost a HUGE bust last year.  So, having learnt my lesson, we were out the door at 8 sharp, with a BRISK walk being the only acceptable mode of transportation.  Yet, what occurs when you ask a child to speed up?  Exactly, they start running.  So, there I was, arms loaded down with the bulk of their school supplies, my wrist wallet and a camera chasing after them all the while *click, click, click-ing* away so as not to miss an opportunity for a "great" backpack shot.  (After all, what good is a scrapbooking page on back to school without the infamous "backpack shot"? - Yes, I know!)  When I finally got them to stop running and caught up I snapped a few scrap worthy photos and we restarted the journey.  (By this time I was thinking - man, I am so glad this day only comes once a year!) 

It rained severely last night.  As in over an inch of rain.  The high school is under construction.  One has to pass the high school to get to the elementary school.  Are you forming the visual I am making?  Exactly!  At this time I am thanking myself for insisting neither child wear white to school today.  It was a muddy war zone getting to the school.  But, alas, we arrived - 20 minutes early!  And do you know what they do with the early arrivals?  Oh, allow me to inform you - they send them to the gym!  THE GYM!  Now, seriously, here it is the first day, I'm carrying half of Wal-Mart in two reusable shopping bags, my hair is sticking up all over the place due to the humidity causing me to look like a demented parent and you want to shuttle my kids to another location when I NEED PICTURES?!  However, at this time the Holy Spirit must have came over me (I doubt I could have controlled my temper on my own) because I kindly (yes this word can and does find its way into my vocabulary) asked if I could take the supplies to their classrooms for them.  Thankfully, they acquiesced.  In all honesty, I think the staff was worried I'd go postal or something!  (No, really, don't get that impression - I'm a calm, sedate, individual at all times!)

Now that we were in the building we made a bee line for Kelly's classroom.  We were dodging staff and little people (aka the other students) like they were asteroids in the old Atari game Galactica, after a couple of power ups we made it to our destination.  I can tell you one thing the teacher was NOT expecting to see a student or a parent as we approached the classroom.  Here we were, all loaded down and I'm in the hall directing Kelly to stand in front of her locker (It is so helpful when they put the student's name on the lockers) for pictures and out walks a girls that looked herself to not be a day over 18.  In my new found kindness I asked if we could come in so that I could take some pictures and again I was granted my wish.  I was not prepared for the amount of dots!  No, seriously, everything in this classroom was done in polka dots, EVERYTHING!  However, it seemed fitting for the room and the personality of the teacher.  After the obligatory picture taking I took Kelly to the 2nd grade early-arrival drop off area and proceded to take Audrey to her classroom.

There is a distinct difference between the 2nd and 4th grades; or rather the age and personality of the teachers.  Where Kelly's room was fun and lively, Audrey's was bland and like any other classroom.  here she was reduced to a number!  A number!  Like "Hello, sweetheart!  You are a number in the eyes of your government i am merely giving you an early introduction to it!"  Walking in I walk straight to the lady sitting behind the macbook preparing the power point.  I gathered this lady was goign to be all business and secretly felt a little sad for my baby as this was going to be her experience in her last year of elementary school.  However, I asked if I could take some pictures and again I was not met with any opposition and the teacher was kind enough to pose for a couple herself!  I asked if she wanted me to take Audrey to her early arrival drop off area and she l et her stay in the classroom.  I can only imagine the things she was saying as I left! 

From there, I took a leisurely walk home - by myself.  In reflection I think I could have done a few things differently, but we survived yet another first day.   Once home I took Lillian to get signed up for preschool thus beginning a new journey with the last of my offspring.  Yes, my dear children, there are going to be many, many, more opportunities for me to embarrass the pooh out of you.  Mwahahahahaha....

Oh, that all said, enjoy some of the photos I took today.




Monday, August 22, 2011

The 10 Things I Learned in School Today

I learned a lot as I went back to school today.  Yes, here I am 33 years old and have gone back to school.  OK, I admit, I have been doing this for the better part of my adult life.  It is rather difficult to get a degree once you have already gotten married and had kids plus work a full time and part time job.  That said, I do have an Associates in Business; which, for the most part, is not worth anything more than a High School diploma in some industries; or rather most non-entry level positions in most industries.  Let's face it, with out that magical piece of paper that shows you know how to spend obscene amounts of money and dedicate scads of time doing it, you are pretty much going no where.  Now, there are exceptions to that and many people are content living in the exception or they are grandfathered into the old way of doing things.  But I am not going to sit here and split hairs and peeve many people off.  Now back to where I started.

Ah, yes, the 10 things I learned in school today.  1) your text book is just another way for academia to bleed you dry, 2) your professors are really just there to do a job (it is evident in their grammar - seriously a first year English major should proofread their syllabuses), 3) you still need white boards, dry erase markers, and different colored pens in college (squee), 4) there is such a thing as an accounting calculator (I know, I had no idea either), 5) on line classes are in no way easier than face to face, 6) teachers forget that returning adults really do have a grown up life outside of the classroom, 7) children don't understand the statement "mommy has to study", 8) power points were created to induce coma, 9) I can get to 10 things if given the chance, 10) after this semester I will have 12 classes to go for my B.S.B in Business Management (yes, there are now tears in my eyes).

I actually love school, or perhaps the idea of it.  I am going to admit a Bachelor's in Business is not my first calling, or even my second.  However, it is the degree that I can get somewhat of a reimbursement for.  I plan to take a minor in English.  This, of course, is a more up my alley.  I think I have shared this a time or two or a dozen; I have lost count.  Insider information:  my passion, ever since I was little, has always been to teach.  I used to get teary-eyed and emotional when thinking about it, now I just let it be.  Everyone has a thing in their life they will never accomplish or do, that is merely one of mine.  I wanted to leave this on an upbeat note; therefore, I need to impart one more thing - I'm a Junior BABY! WOOT!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grown-Up You

Think back to your childhood and the friends that you had.  Are those same people in your life today?  Do you often wonder where they are or even who they are?  What would you say or do if given the chance to meet up with them again?  That is what I want to share today.

I have recently, and by that I mean in the past year or so, been given the opportunity to meet up and spend time with some fantastic women from my childhood.  OK, I'm going to use that term loosely since it was more like high school, but heaven's it's been 15+ years since that time.  Regardless, what I have learned from all of that is that these ladies are beautiful, and I don't mean from what is on the outside, though yes, they are beautiful there too, but from what is on the inside.

There is something about growing into an adult along side a person and watching them transform into their grown-up versions of themselves; something almost magical.  I have a few very, very close friends that I have had this honor with and find the memories to be delicious and remarkable as well as heart breaking and maddening, but not any I'd give back as they helped make me into the grown up version of me.

Then there is something all together different and enjoyable about re-meeting people who you only had a small interaction with (let's face it high school is but a small snip it in time).  You didn't have the pleasure or growing up with them and making the memories that created their grown-up versions of themselves, but it's OK.  In fact, it is perfect because you can bring an all together different approach to a subject. You can talk and share an opinion without worrying "are they going to like me for this" while at the same time, loving the fact that they are true to themselves and giving you the honest version of who they are too.  After all, no matter how long you are in each other's company, and whether or not your grown-up versions like each other, you are still the person you are and they are the person they are and if it doesn't work out you have merely gained insight on the growth of another.

With that, I want to say many thanks to the wonderful women that I have had the honor and pleasure of re-meeting in my life and say that you have each been an inspiration and a joy to be around.  I look forward to the next time we can spend time together.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trust This

Trust is a strong word.  Trust is a hard thing to do.  Trust. The action of putting full faith into someone and giving someone full access to your heart, soul and mind.  Oh there are different ways of looking at it.  For instance I can trust the overpass I travel over twice everyday will not collapse, I can trust that sun and water will make my garden grow and I can trust that what goes up must come down.  However, trust in another person is not something I believe in nor have faith in.  Now I know I sound like a pessimist, but years of being led astray, lied to, given the once over, talked about and set up have taken that ability from me.  I know that I control it and that I have the power to look past all that ails, but at some point there comes that line that once crossed makes going back less than an easy option. 

You may be thinking why this; why now?  Well yesterday I shared that I would reveal my anti-trust process.  Here it is...I am hugely insignificant to people.  Therefore, the best way to keep the pain from closing in, I never let people close.  Not letting a person close guarantees that I won't form trust.  Thus, I don't trust people.  I know we have all met a person who has hurt us a time or two and have made us see what lies truly at the heart of another.  I am not even going to pretend that I am the only person in this boat, because frankly I know that I am not.  But here is what this is causing in my life right now.

It is causing my not to truly love.  By that I mean, why let myself out there when all that has ever happened in the past is the painstaking realization I never mattered in the first place.  For instance, my first husband.  I was quite young when I married for the first time, only 21 and like most 21 years olds I thought I had life figured out and I was settling in for eternity.  Let me tell you the BIG wake up call I had when, after the vows were said, I was told I would never be first in his life, but rather his friends - his friends would always hold that spot.  Then there was a person that I had befriended as an adult. I shared my passions, my fears, my hopes and dreams as well everything else in between with her.  What did I get in return?  Simply that all the years I thought I knew who she was, was all a blatant lie.  She had lied to me on a level so grand that I truly didn't know who she was when I actually saw her again.  Oh, I know these two examples don't seem like much but it does go much, much deeper than this.  However, these two are but a small example of the lessons that taught me about people and trust.

I have come to realize, more so in the past few days, that there is one person who has never done anything negative to me.  A person who loved me so much He died so that I might live and yet, I have not truly given myself over to Him.  Why?  I am afraid to trust.  I am afraid to trust Him in that He will make me be who I was meant to be.  I have made a mess of my life in so many ways.  There are attributes that I possess that are far from endearing and in fact they keep people away - (hence a product of my distrust - don't let them close....).  Then everything I read, hear, and see teaches that I am to put all my trust in Him.  Him - my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   Jesus loves me, heavens He loves us all.  Yet, through all this knowledge I still struggle with trust.  That struggle brings forth the "who am I" train of thought which leads to depression which leads to, well...blogs much like I had in June and some of July.

There you have it - trust is a thing that I struggle with.  I want to trust you.  I want to trust those people who are "closest" to me, but I can't put myself out there like that anymore.  I am not strong enough to face that kind of rejection; trust me...

Trust

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That Thing I Do

Some people like to watch tv, others like to customize their Pandora play lists, yet others like to exercise; what is my favorite this to do when boredom sets in? WRITE! 

It is such a simple 5 letter word; write.  Webster describes it as "to compose and produce in words or characters duly set down"; while I describe it simply as "therapy".

Anyway, to my point - yes I have one.  Today, after what seemed like a month long sabbatical, I went to our Wednesday night Bible study and wouldn't you know it the subject was on the one thing that God and I have been sparring about for weeks, meh - more like months, and that is how to spend time with God.

Have you ever known the right thing to do, even desperately wanted to do it, made all the plans in the world to follow out on those intentions only to end up doing exactly the opposite or not quite that thing?  GOOD!  Me too!  Now doesn't it feel good to know you aren't the only person in the world suffering this same mind boggling phenomena?  Ok, so maybe it isn't that big of a deal, or is it?! (dun dun dun)

Back to my point, the lesson from tonight.  Ok, so I need to preface it (the lesson).  In school didn't you just hate or at least get extremely bored when the teacher retaught something you already learned or perhaps when going to the next level in a subject the teacher retaught "the basics" before teaching the new stuff?  Well, I did. (Though I was guaranteed good marks since I already knew it.)  The lesson from tonight is one that I've heard/learned a time or two or three before; yet tonight it felt fresh and new. The reason?  It was a lesson that I had forgotten or rather unlearned from too much time of no practice.  Think of it like a foreign language.  I studied French in Middle and High School for a total of 5 years.  I could speak it well, read it even better and write it decently; however, today I can't do a lick of it.  Why?  I stopped using it, stopped practicing it - I haven't needed it in the last 16 years.  That is what this lesson was to me; except the subject is something that I need! (Ok, pushy much?  I'm getting on with it!)

THE LESSON (The bold words give it a more authoritative feel; or not!)
A daily quiet time is a special time set aside to be alone with God through Bible reading and prayer.
The Purpose:
  1. To express your love to God.
    1. This takes time and conversation
  2. To receive guidance from God
    1. This is essentially receiving my marching orders
Why do I want to receive these orders?  Because God can ALWAYS be trusted. (Trust is a subject that I really want to share with you all but will have to come back to it another time.)

John 15 (Vine and branches) key word is Remain (abide).  This is the one thing to always remember to do; abide with Jesus, remain in Him.  Why?  Because we can go through the motions of spending time with God and never actually abide with Him.
  • AND FOLKS THAT IS WHERE I AM TODAY! My full circle.  I'm laying it all out here - I have been simply going through the motions, heck I still am and it is costing me dearly.  It is costing me my Jesus.  Not that he has ever left or turned His back on me, but that I have turned my back on Him in practice, if not in my heart.
How do I fix this?
  1. Keep my time honest, deep and personal
  2. Deepen the the quality of my devoted time to God
  3. Broaden my devoted time from a daily appointment to an all day attentiveness to His presence
    1. Essentially the conversation with Him never ends; there is no Amen.
You  may find yourself wondering why this is important and why you have bothered to read all the way to the end.  Unfortunately I don't have an answer to that, though I thank you for sticking with it!  What I do know is that this is real to me, it is in my heart and my head and I desperately needed the reschooling.  Why?  Because a flower cannot blossom with water and light.

A few verses to help you on your way:
  • Psalm 25:4-5
  • Proverbs 3:6
  • Psalm 37:5
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Philippians 4:6

Monday, August 8, 2011

Everything is Bigger in Texas - So They Say

We returned from our whirlwind vacation yesterday afternoon.  I would be lying to you if I didn't say that I loved every minute of it. So here is a brief synopsis of the trip.  Yes, I know it reads like a log book but it is what it is.  Enjoy!

08.03.11
- 2:00ish leave the house for the final time (yes, we circled back a couple of times!)
- 7:00ish we made it to the Cumberland Road Travel Plaza [250 miles into the trip there abouts] (I don't know which state IN or IL) here we had our picnic dinner and the girls got out and ran around - by design this was to wear them out so we could get in a lot of miles while they slept
- 8:20PM (I think CST) we passed the Arch in St Louis - it was sunset and absolutely beautiful

- followed by hours of random night driving ~ big cities passed = Rolla & Joplin, MO and Tulsa & Oklahoma City, OK.

08.04.11
- 6:30AM (CST) we entered Texas

- 8:00ish we arrived at Siti & Gidi's house (for those who don't know that means grandma & grandpa - bonus points if you can figure out the native language!)
- rest of day random activities (like eating and swimming) and visiting with family

08.05.11
- 11:45AM finished the tour at the Fort Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing (in other words we got to see where paper money is made!) - In case you can't read the sign it says 102 degrees - that was still cool...it was HOT HOT HOT during this trip!

- Noonish lunch at Big Joe's (That would be an Italian restaurant)
- followed by ice cream at The Ice Cream People
- finished off by random activities (kids and men swam at the pool while the ladies shopped)

08.06.11
- 11:30AM watched the longhorns come down the Chisholm Trail at the Stockyards in Fort Worth

- 12:00PM watched a mock old west gun fight...it was hilarious!





- shopped, shopped and then had lunch at a BBQ place (like I was going to leave Texas without first having some BBQ!)


- 7:00PM left Texas for home

08.07.11
-1:45PM arrived home 2278.2 total miles later- THOROUGHLY EXHAUSTED!


I can't wait to make the trip again, but we want to factor in more time to visit the states on our way there.  Vacation time constraints limited what we were able to do this time.  Oh, I hope you enjoy the photos!  Unfortunately I cannot locate the cable to get the photos off of my camera so the cell phone ones are it for now >:/

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just for the Weight of It

I am at a loss for what to do concerning my weight.  However, I have all these grand ideas.  For instance, I have started eating healthier - at least in my mind's eye I have.  I have increased my fresh fruits and veggies by more than double for a couple of weeks...yes, I know!  I have been power walking on average 3 days a week and have cut my diet soda intake by half (no I didn't switch to regular).  And what do I get for all these changes?  All of which I have been doing for a month now?  Easy, I gained 7 pounds.  So what is one to do? I am at a complete and total loss, oh wait, I already said that!

Outside of starving myself and finding some sort of scary OTC remedy what is there?   What brought all this about you ask?  Simple, I just saw the pictures of my besties and me in our swim suits and wouldn't you know it I look the worst.  Oh, come on now, not many would dare to argue with me.  I would post one of the pictures to this, but am mortified that my friend even posted them to Facebook in the first place.  (Ok, so I will attach one of them; you are welcome!)

Then there is the fact that starting with next year's insurance policy I am going to have to start paying a fat tax.  I simply do not know how to undo 14 years worth of damage to my body.  Alas, I see that I will have to move, quite literally, to the next phase.  That would be research and cutting down even more of the foods that could be sabotaging my journey.  So here is a list of things that I need to accomplish:
  • Eat better foods (Healthy fats, fruits, veggies, protein, etc)
  • Exercise more (At least 30 mins a day)
  • Drink more water (At least 8 glasses a day)
  • Curb my sweet tooth (Processed sugars are evil)

Why that list?  Well, all that research out there tells me that is what I need to do.  Now, do they tell me how I am to do it in a way that is actually achievable and applicable to my life, well, no, but hey, we can't all have our cake and eat it too. 

Huh...then again, that is probably why I wrote this post in the first place.

Signed... Fat and Disgruntled