Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 3: 2016

Today is the last day of 2016. While many people are preparing for the evening's festivities I will not be.  My middle Little asked me, just yesterday, what the big deal was about the new year and I simply told her, I don't know.  I have never really made plans for the New Year.  Well, there was the year I had just met my Mr. (2013) and he came to my friend's house just minutes before the New Year to share the holiday with me.  Otherwise, it has notoriously been a day to sit at home and do, well, nothing!

I thought of several different things I wanted to write about today - how this year has been one of constant turmoil, a few struggles, a couple exciting events, and a daily reminder of who I am and where I fit in.  You see, there is much I don't share, not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how to. It will come, the words will come and then change will follow; I trust in that. The timing of which is still up in the air.

I started this blog post almost 10 hours ago, before the day's activities really began. I had actually typed a few paragraphs which I have long since been deleted because they weren't the words I needed to share.  As I sit here thinking of 2016 I want to take this time of reflection to thank the people in my life.  Each person I have had the opportunity to come into contact with has given me something or rather taught me something, for which I am eternally grateful.  Here are but a few:

  • I have learned from my husband what faithfulness and forgiveness looks and feels like.  He has taught me that true love isn't dependent upon feelings, body type, bank account, sense of style, morning breath, or even medusa hair. It is based on unconditional love and following God's plan and direction for your marriage - TOGETHER.
  • I have learned from my Lord and Savior what a daily walk with him and obedience to his will looks and feels like, even when it means giving up on the things you think you want and need.  He really does know what is best.
  • I have learned from my children what unconditional love looks and feels like. Seriously these 5 people are some of my favorite in all the Earth.  I love being called mommy (mom by the older ones).  And hearing "I love you."
  • I have learned from the moms in my life how to be a good mom and how to grow the bonds of family.
  • I have learned from my friends what trust and support look and feels like.  And that time isn't and shouldn't be a defining factor of the bonds of friendship.  Picking up where you left off after a day, a week, a month, is just as much a blessing as that daily 7 AM messenger conversation.
  • I have learned from my bosses how not to lead people as well as the best ways of leading people and working with others.
  • I have learned from my sister's in Christ how to bow at the feet of Jesus and how not to give up when the going gets tough.  Because heaven know's it has been tough at times this year.
  • I have learned from my dear friend, who is like a mom to me, what having an adult who loves you, listens to you, and gives you Christ-centered advice can do for your broken spirit.  Not only that but just how important that bond is and how much it is needed. 
  • I have learned from watching my brother's wife what type of beauty comes from embracing a family that is not yours.  She is the epitome of a blended family matriarch.
  • I have learned from my ex-Mr.s family that kindness doesn't die the minute you are no longer a part of the family.  And I am thankful for that.
  • I have learned from my brother what turning your life around and taking care of a family that isn't yours looks like.  I have also learned from him what unsolicited help looks like; he'd literally give you the shirt off of his back.
  • I have learned from my sister how not to use a sharp kitchen knife to de-pit an avocado!  Ha!  Or more that conversation can be fun even when you are exact opposites of each other - in every way.
  • I have learned from my extended family that although miles separate us we are all still a part of a bigger whole.
  • I have learned from myself that you are never too old to stop learning, nor should you ever be.
People, as you ring in the new year in the special way that you personally do it, remember the blessings, the lessons, and the people 2016 brought to you.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Love, M

Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 2: 30 Interesting Facts

Day 2 of this 30-day challenge and I think I spent more time looking for a topic than I will have to on the writing bit!  Naturally, I went to Pinterest and after pinning several new lists, settled in on this topic: 30 interesting facts about yourself.  I got this!!!

1)  I love to read non-fiction.  This is something that has only come about in the past few years as story books started losing their appeal.  I will pick one up every once in a while, but for the most part, it's true stuff only for me!
2)  I don't have TV.  Gasp!  I know.  How completely un-American can I be? LOL.  We have the Netflix and Amazon Prime so if there is something I feel I need to sit and waste an hour or so of my life watching, I have the option available to me.
3) I do not like pop music.  Never have, even in my younger years. It's all rather tired and boring.  I prefer classic rock (which in my defense was pop-culture before my time!)
4) I have an eclectic style in everything - clothes, decorating, etc.  I don't follow a set of trendy rules.  I kind of just go after what makes my heart smile.  It's so much more comfy that way and my people seem to like it too!
5) I started out my college career as an engineering major.  I quickly realized math and I are not as tight as we were before the alphabet got involved.
6) I love antiques. Old things make my heart smile.  I love to think of all the memories they have seen, what they must have looked like and been used for when they were first lovingly used.
7) I am BIG into recycling.  I think a bit too much at times; I drive my people nuts with it.  However, my oldest Little is now in the Tree-Huggers Club at school and is using her vast knowledge to teach the younger kids.
8) I love teaching.  It is the one thing that, when I think about it, makes my eyes well up with tears and I long to make my life's dream. I firmly believe teachers are a blessing and hold an honorable roll.  Hat's off to all of them - for every grade/subject level.
9) Our home is almost 120 years old.  She's drafty, creaky, not quite level in some places, temperamental when it comes to adornment (can't nail into the walls!!), but oh is she beautiful.  I have pictures from when she was first built and from how the original homeowners used the spaces - simply amazing.
10) We have a four-legged "child" who is the unofficial queen of our space.  She is so loved by everyone and spoiled rotten!  We love our Miss Clarabelle and are thankful we could give her a loving home to live in.
11) I love to tinker with crafts.  There are times I get a hair-brained idea, go after it with 100% gusto, and when I find out I'm not quite as talented as I'd hoped to be, I end up with a pile of useless things for the Littles to tinker with.  Anyone need a box of yarn?  #failedatcrochetingablanketmuch
12) My girls are getting a new step-mom today.  The ex-Mr. is getting married.  I am quite excited for them.  Their step-mom is a great person and someone with whom I have the pleasure of calling, friend.  I could be all those horrible, stereo-typey things but what is the purpose in that?  It creates a whole slew of ick that is simply not necessary nor worth it. Besides, we are both the product of someone else's choice.  It truly is all a matter of perspective. Plus she's cool and I dig that.  Oh, and she can crochet.  See # 11!
13) My favorite game in all of the world is Scrabble (or Words with Friends).  I don't have a vast vocabulary, but that is ok, the app takes care of that for me! Hehehe
14) I am hopelessly addicted to LulaRoe.  I have about a dozen pieces myself and my girls each have a couple pieces.  Yes, we are all hooked!  The colors, the patterns, the way it is ok to have an eclectic style and find things that are marketed just for that sole purpose.  It's like I found a clothing line that just gets me!  That, and they feel like you are in pajamas all day!  #idoclassywell
15) I wrote a paper during my first undergrad talking about VGA (video game addiction). Is it ok now to admit I actually love watching my Mr. play WoW?  Seriously Blizzard rocks out the graphics, story lines, and sound effects.  However, the Mists of Pandoria was a bit, um, not what I was expecting - from a spectator's point of view that is.  A couple of our Littles play too, so it is something everyone can enjoy.
16)  Coffee.  #selfexplanatory
17) I've never really liked the color yellow.  I don't know how it became my go-to favorite color.  Sure, it is cheery and bright and all of that, but honestly I am so much more fond of green.  And white.  Oh, how those two together make me smile.  #cancolorsmakeyouswoon
18)  I love pearls.  It isn't that diamonds aren't pretty, they are, but they are just so - common.  Pearls are elegant and simple, and well, like a diamond have to go through a lot of work to become what they are.
19)  I have a thing for trees.  There is just something altogether majestic about them.  I know it is strange, but I think it must be a reason why I enjoy the outdoors so much.  Forests make me feel at peace.
20) I do not like the tropics, the ocean, or anything where the air is so thick you have to drink it.  Yes, I am that person who will never willingly pay for a vacation to the south.
21) I have ran a marathon.  I think there are several posts on here about my love of running.  I haven't been able to for a really long time now because of my knee.  Everytime I try to start again it gets all wonky on me and I have to stop.  I cry about it.  I miss going out for a run every day.  I miss the feeling of freedom it gave me. I miss that quiet time with God.
22) I hate crowds.  I don't do well in a large group of people. I get completely bent out of shape, I start feeling overwhelmed and after about an hour of it I feel drained of all my life-force.  My Mr.  he is the exact opposite.  He loves it.  We make it work.
23) I love my mini-van.  I'm completely upset that Chrysler did away with the Town and Country, I've owned three of them now over the course of the years.  I can't wait to downsize to an SUV though.  However, Chrysler no longer makes the Aspen, so... #ahemmarketingguys #pullittogetherchrysler
24) I am working on a Bible study to present to the Pastor.  I'd like to teach it on a Wednesday night or something, but we shall see.  I can't take all of the credit for it, it is a collection of studies I have sat in. I am just revising and condensing them into a smaller series.  We shall see how it pans out.
25) I have not had a single drop of alcohol in 62 days.  The best part of that (besides the clarity and lack of empty calories) is that I have not even craved it.  I would like to take this moment and thank the Holy Spirit for his continued work in my life and deep desire to help me become more Christ-like. #ivetakenseveralchancestodothis
26) I am currently reading several books.  While I do love non-fiction, I find that I want to read so many different books that I start them even while reading another.   The results are still in the works, but seeing as how I've done this for at least 20 years of my life, I'm not likely to make a drastic change.  #imightbeabitlikebelle
27)  I am not good with small talk and find general conversation to be a very difficult task for me.  I try really hard to talk with others, but in the end struggle to keep it going.  I don't have the gift of gab or the desire to actually engage in it.  #itisntyouitsme
28) I would rather stay at home than go out.  No, it is true.  I'm not for going out just for the sake of going out.  I am a home body. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy the occasional vacation or weekend getaway, it just means that on a daily basis, home is where I prefer to be.  #homeiswheremyheartis #imnotthatexciting
29)  I love to help people.  I'm good with the doing.  But I am not one to insert myself into a situation.  You will have to be direct and ask.  I will then help.  Want me to come over? Ask.  I do not show up anywhere uninvited.  It is just me.  Don't take it personally.  I am not that random show-up-in-your-space-to-be-person.  I think a lot of people in my life take this character trait of mine the wrong way.  #sadly
30) I love to cook.  I would love to have a kitchen the size of my living room and dining room combined.  However, I have this adorably quaint gally kitchen that allows me to use my cooking prowess in a much more conservative manner.  I have to clean as I go, and be selective about what I actually need to own.  In a way, it may be a good thing.  However, when we downsize I will be sure to find a home with a kitchen at least half the size of the house.  #okimaybeexaggerating #ilovetocook

Is it too much to say that I could actually continue on with this list?  I know, there is already a lot to read.  Well, if you have made it this far - congrats!  You have officially used a portion of your life getting to know more about me.  Thank you for that.  Now, if you want to leave a comment I'd like that.  It will have to go under review seeing as how there are those out there who spam and I have to protect all of you from their inappropriate (read that - mean, ugly, hurtful) ways!

Have a good one!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

One Thing To Do

Years ago, before my life took a drastic turn, I wrote a blog about a 30-day challenge.  The premise of that blog was to write something different every day for, well, 30 days!  I never got there.  I did blog many times over the course of that life change, but I never got to the challenge.  Despite that, I'd wager to say it was some of my most profound writing; personal opinion, of course.  Honestly, in the last several months I have felt the urge to write but am constantly fighting for the words to say, the things to share, the thoughts to come. It is almost like there is nothing left in me worth writing about.  It isn't that I am without problems or life events, it is just that they are all rather, normal.  Gasp!  My life is normal - I'm a normal human.  Anyway, before I get too much further into this aimless rambling, I thought I would give another go at this whole 30-day challenge thing.

Before we begin, I have to admit Pinterest is a wonderful tool for finding random writing prompts and journaling ideas.  In fact, I have pinned a plethora of them!  The one I am using tonight - a topic for each day in the month of December - does not have a viable link; thankfully there is a good image to read from!  Today's topic is "One thing to do".

Isn't that rather vague?  There are many things that I want to do - so very many, but the first thing to come to mind is traveling to Europe.  I have wanted to do this since I was a teenager.  There is just something magical and mystical sounding about the countries - Scotland, Ireland, England, etc.  Oh, ok, it is because I spent the better part of my adolescence and early adulthood reading historical romance, most of which were based on characters from these locals.  Yet, I can't even remotely put all of the reasoning on those books. I mean, have you heard the accents?! SWOON!

Actually, I can remember the first time I "consciously" heard the accent spoken. I was younger, probably in the 4th or 5th grade, and my friends and I were walking about the trailer park where we grew up.  We had just left Dawn's mom, Deb's trailer and had stopped by Jenny's - another friend of ours whose parent's had a year-round camper just a few places behind her.  Both of these places were at the top of the hill from the lake and you could only get to by walking a rutted, overgrown footpath.  Ok, you could actually take the road, but that was the long way around and clearly takes away from the drama of the story!

In the spring of that year a new double wide was put in just two spaces down from Jenny's.  We were all so star-struck by the place because it looked so fancy compared to the trailers we were living in.  Come summer we would walk by every day hoping there were kids there to play with us, but alas, there were not, only an older couple who used the place for a summer home. It was one summer night, as I shared above, when we were walking from Dawn's, with a stop at Jennys', that we heard the words.  We all stopped. I mean, we hadn't heard anyone talk like that before and it sounded just as fancy as the house. Naturally, we had to investigate (a.k.a. be nosey)!

The grown-ups entertained us for a small bit, like any kind, fancy, and obviously proper adult would do.  I vaguely remember them telling us they were visiting their friends and didn't live around there, then me trying to talk like them - which I'm certain now was a rude thing for me to do, but I was just so enthralled.  (Honestly I still am.  Maybe that is why I love British television more than anything else...could be?! I digress.)  Then, in what seemed like a long while, but was more like a couple minutes, we were off again to relive our brush with "royalty".  Isn't it amazing what your childhood imagination can do for you?

Fast forward all these years and here I am, wishing I could go.  Knowing it will take a few years to save up the money to afford such a  trip, but also knowing there isn't anyone on this Earth I'd rather go there with than my Mr.   I'm quite thankful he, too, has an affinity for all things BBC and while I'm quite certain it is for vastly different reasons, it is something I wouldn't dream of sharing with anyone else.

So, there you have it, my one thing to do. So, I have to ask, what is yours?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Finding Joy

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23

Just a couple of days ago, I shared with you all how much I hate Christmas.  I know.  I went there.  It was as if all of the joy for the day had been sapped out of me and there wasn’t anything left for me to do but grin and bear it, so-to-speak. There are a few things I want to pass on now that the hustle and bustle are over and a certain level of normalcy is returning.  Before I do, I need to let you know it is only through hindsight I can see what I am about to share.  None of it was in the moment, even if I did have the faint awareness of it during the time.

On Christmas Eve I had the blessing of a good friend come and help me clean up the house and wrap the gifts Santa was leaving for the Littles.  Now this friend has many years of following and listening to God’s still small voice as she has traveled this thing called life.  (She has buried an adult child, lost another to personal choices, has suffered from cancer and chemo and is now in remission, just to name a few of the reasons I value her perspective and advice when hardships arise.) As we sat at the table and wrapped presents she shared some of her favorite Christmas memories and I shared mine (there’s a blog post about that in here somewhere – from many years ago). Then I shared with her what was going on concerning Christmas this year.

I want to sit here and share all of the words spoken, the many things she told me or directed me on, but instead all I truly remember her saying is along these lines, “the joy of Christmas is so much bigger than the circumstances we have while celebrating it.”  I know, right?!  We talked for a while more and then the girls and I went to the Christmas eve service at our old church (it is a tradition they love and they asked me if we could go months ago).  It was a wonderful service - which we were nearly 15 minutes late to, but we did get to spend 45 minutes singing, praying, and sharing in fellowship with others.  TO be honest, besides the candle lighting at the end, our favorite part of the service is the special story that is read in lieu of an official “sermon”.  Every year it is different from the year before. And wouldn’t you know, this year’s story focused on one main concept – finding true joy during Christmas. 

Fast forward to Christmas morning, a time I was dreading due to all of the things we had to get done in such a short time, and well, God worked it out.  Perfectly.  In the best way, possible. Just like he does – even when we (ok, I) don’t always think he will. It was a morning that not only was full of joy (evidenced in the eyes and reactions of our Littles) but one that I truly enjoyed.  Yes, there was still a lot of chaos and logistical craziness, but I managed and I wasn’t too late for any of it!  (Being the one driving, everyone else was somewhat dependent upon me to get them where they needed to go.)  After dropping all the Littles off at their next Christmas celebrations (blended families add new blessings) I got to have a wonderful Christmas dinner with my friend (whom I spoke of earlier) and her family while the Mr. was at work (public service personnel do not get the luxury of holidays off). 

Then today as I was reading more of the book, Crash the Chatterbox, I read this, “My joy is not determined by what happens to me but by what Christ is doing in me and through me.”  People…I think I got it!  Three times I was reminded of joy and how we can have it no matter what.  And, if I were to take a literary leap, just like Scrooge was given three views to find his Christmas spirit, I believe I was shown three times how to find the joy in mine.

I hope you all had a blessed holiday and that no matter what it looked like, felt like, smelled like (???), it was all like it was supposed to be. 

Much love,

Friday, December 23, 2016

When Christmas Isn't Merry

Christmas is a really hard time of year for me.  Oh, it hasn't always been hard, just in the recent past few years.  For those who have followed this blog for any given amount of time, you know it was during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season that the ex-Mr. left.  I won't sit here and tell you there hasn't been some happy Christmas memories since that time, there have, but, there are also many that make this time of year hard.  I want to share straight off that this post will be raw - you don't have to read/finish beyond this point.

It is during the Christmas season that I find in my heart so much hurt, pain, and, yes, even anger. I want to tell you I can pinpoint it to one exact thing, and maybe if I look at it hard enough I really can.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, a time to honor and remember the birth of our Savior. Yet, I have found that I cannot, especially at this time of year, put away all of the feelings I have about how Christmas is no longer Christmas - how the choices others made have impacted the memories I have and the potential for new ones to be made.

I know I am not the only person who struggles with this holiday and it would be completely naive of me to believe it so.  However, despite this truth I cannot come to grips with the amount of turmoil inside of me.  I want to be full of the joy, hope, and peace this season is reminiscent of, but with all this raw emotion building up inside of me I cannot seem to turn off the negative thoughts in my head in order to find it. (Gosh how I sound like the Grinch...) I pray constantly for the Lord to hear the pain, not the thoughts I have.  I pray for the Lord to calm me so I will ont feel anger towards others and the situations involved.  I pray for the Lord to take away the pain brought on by the blatant actions of others who claim to be "family".  I even pray for those who are purposely hurting me and my fmaily. Yet, these - this - it is all. still. here. This ugliness inside of my heart.

You guys, I shouldn't say this, but - I hate Christmas.  Really.  I think I do.  And no matter how hard I try to say and express (empty expression) how excited I am for the day and the time, I am not.  No matter how many "perfect" gifts I get for others, how many Christmas carols I sing, Hallmark movies I watch, or strands of twinkle lights I hang, there is still that thing keeping me from enjoying the season. Oh, I don't want it to be so.  I want to love Christmas.  I want to enjoy the time and make the memories.  I want it to be a day of blessing to all.  I want it to be full of happy laughter.  Instead it is not.

Oh, I'll go on through the day with a false smile, one that will have a twinkle that will not reach my eye.  I will give the carefully selected gifts to those they were bought for, and not expect a thing in return.  I will pray without ceasing for the day to to get over so I can work my way through the pain of it all.   I will trust in the Lord to get me to the 26th physically unscathed. And finally, I will be grateful there is another years worth of days before next Christmas to work out all of the bitterness this holiday envokes.