Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Engraved


I'd like to air a few grievances before I continue with today's post. Sometimes you just have to tell somebody. I knew you'd understand.

1. My poor baby has a cold that he just can't shake. Just when we think he's kicked it, it comes back like a bad fashion trend. (Daisy dukes and tube tops, I'm looking at you. Also giant furry boots.) So I went to my local health food store in search of a homeopathic remedy--maybe even something he could take everyday for immune support. "I have the perfect solution for you," she said. For $20. For four ounces.

2.  Just...this. There is so much wrong here that I can't even look at it. (That's why I'm here instead of cleaning that whole situation up.)



3.The grocery store. The end.

So while I was at the store, waiting for my honey turkey to be sliced, I saw a mom I know from my son's elementary school. I smiled and nodded and waited for her to respond in like. Because that's what you do when you see someone you know. And she smiled vaguely and continued on her way.

Because she had no idea who I am.

Now. I know this woman's name. I've seen her at a thousand classroom parties. I know her son's name, and that he plays baseball, and I even know her husband's name. (Maybe this makes me a stalker and not a friend.)

She walked by me with no more than a polite "excuse me" and as I was staring down the back of her jacket, I pursed my lips and raised my brow and thought about how much I didn't like her. Hopefully the deli counter lady did not notice.

A few years ago, a new neighbor moved into my neighborhood, and I wanted to greet them with a homemade-fresh-store-bought cheesecake--I had met them a few times out in the neighborhood but wanted to officially welcome them. (I do not rock at making cheesecake. I'm good at other things.) The situation went down like something out of a awkwardly-made tween movie about awkward tweens.

The wife invited me in, with many thanks for the pie, then she offered to show me the house. I politely refused, saying I needed to get home and do thus-and-such and it was great to see you and have a great night and enjoy the pie and then the husband came down and interrupted my good-byes with a "the kids want you to come say goodnight".  I excused myself and started walking to the front door. Of course the kids want to say goodnight. So do I.

"Honey, you remember Heather, don't you? We met them a few times out in the neighborhood."

He looked at me. He furrowed his brow and pursed his lips and said "No."

Not, no but it's nice to see you again, or no, but thanks for the cheesecake, or no, but glad to have you.

Just no.

Awkward.

"So, honey, Heather wants a tour of the house, so why don't you show her around while I go say goodnight to the kids."

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Heather has already stated that she does not want a tour of the house. Heather has already said goodbye. Heather needs to leave.

I tried to leave again. I mean, I didn't want to be rude, but I needed to G-O.

"Oh, no, he's happy to give you a tour."

When, when, WHEN did I say I wanted a tour? Is there an unstated neighbor rule that says one must give someone a tour, even if the tour guide and the tourist are unwilling?

So I stood there with the man who had no idea who I was (and stated as such), while he showed me his kitchen. Which I had already seen because I was STANDING IN IT.

"So...this is the double-oven. This is the microwave."

FOR THE LOVE.

You can imagine how painful the rest of the thirty-minute tour was.

So I must ask myself. Why do awkward things like this keep happening to me? First, the meeting of the cousins, (remember when my cousin reintroduced himself to me in Target--only after I approached him and had to introduce myself to him, because the blank look on his face said I have no idea who you are--BY SHAKING MY HAND? No hug. No, hey, I didn't recognize you, it's been awhile! No GOOD TO SEE YA!) which, to make matters worse, was suspiciously observed by Wife of Cousin as a possible "I'm trying to pick up your husband in the laundry and cleaning aisle of Target with the bogus Hi, I'm your awkward cousin you don't remember, let's shake hands, {wink, wink} pick-up line.

I have HAD IT with being forgettable.

I've even, in the past, had people suggest bible studies to me as possibilities for me to do. Even when I'm in the study. With them.

So. I was staring at the back of this woman's coral coat, standing at the grocery store deli-counter, thinking to myself I. AM. NOT. FORGETTABLE. (Am I?)

Because clearly you--and everybody else--thinks so.

It took a minute for the ruckus to die down in my head.

Gah. I was mad. about. it.

People may not remember me. They may not even have any idea who I am. They would walk by me in Target and Kroger and not think anything about it.

People do not define who I am. Or what I'm worth.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
--God
 {isaiah 49:16}

And if God says it, then I know it is true. I just have to get past all the mad in my head to see the truth. He will never forget me.

How can He? I'm engraved on the palms of His hands.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Teenagers and Sex...

Happy Monday!

Teens. Sex.

Sometimes we dig a deep hole and throw our head in the sand, hoping and praying that our children will get through the teen years alive and with only minor scarring. Sometimes we think they know more than they do, and we stay silent when we could voice our mighty influence into the lives of our children--and we do have a huge influence. 

Today's guest post is written by my friend Angela--wife, friend, mother to a teenager.

Just had the most heartbreaking phone call ever from the high school.

The high school.

HIGH. SCHOOL.

"Our city is among the highest in the state for STD rates among TEENAGERS!"

(I'm afraid you read that and it didn't sink in, so let me repeat.)

Among. The. Highest.

In the STATE. For. Sexually. Transmitted. Diseases.

Among.

Teenagers.

I teared up. I listened to the message like five time to make sure I was hearing it right.

I teared up.

Every. Time.

I'm broken. Jesus is broken. So very broken for each and every child who thinks sex equals love. For every adult who thinks sex equals love. For every person who thinks sex outside of marriage isn't going to damage your soul.

I've had such a burden on my heart for teens. For those who are seeking to fill that place in their hearts with anything, everything, other than Jesus. I want to share my story of redemption. I want you to know that it's not about being tied down to rules and religion. I want you to know that you are BEAUTIFUL, PRECIOUS, LOVED and HIGHLY REGARDED despite anything you have ever done. 

You need to know that sex with anyone other than your spouse does not complete you. It never will. No matter how many times you try. Your past does not define you. It never will. 

I want every single person, every teen, every adult, everyone to know that TRUE LOVE lies in the arms of only One.

(And it's not him. Or her. And if he or she won't wait till they put a ring on it, move on!)

You are worth more than what your body will give him or her. You are more precious than diamonds or gold. You are highly favored! You do not have a price on you!

Parents: Speak life into your teens! Let them know how priceless they are! Let them know there is no one else like them on the face of the earth. They are a gift! They are like a precious jewel that can only be truly given to one.

Teens: I love you! You are perfect just the way you are. No boy or girl will ever love you like Jesus does. Promise! I 100% guarantee sex is better if you wait for your husband or wife. You won't be the only one "not doing it or not gettin' any". Even if you already have. Who cares what people say?! It's never too late. Never!

World: When is enough enough? When will we love? When will you stop forcing sex in your commercials, in your music? When will you stop teaching us that catcalls are sexy and rape is acceptable? Porn is the "norm" and cheating is expected? Why do I have to go sit in an auditorium full of 30-and-40-something-old parents taking notes on how to keep our teens safe from STDs and pregnancy, when the REAL issues of extreme peer pressure and self-worth aren't addressed?

Church: Our teens are hurting. We have to stop turning a blind eye or worse, condemning them for past choices they've made. Why do we condemn our teens for poor decision making yet embrace our adults for the same mistakes? Rise up, Church! We need to be making Brides. Disciples! We need to teach JESUS WITHOUT ABANDON. Stop judging. Start loving. Create safe environments! They are the FUTURE CHURCH! No more sugar-coating crap!

I'm only sharing my heart through my own past brokenness. Through my own story of complete redemption. I may step on toes. I may offend. I may not be liked. I may be persecuted. 

So was Paul and he went hard.

So was Timothy but he didn't stop.

So was Peter yet he pushed the push backs and persevered.

So was Jesus unto death. A death He died for all the crap I've done. And all you have done. It ain't pretty but He can take it. He loves me!

I've experienced both worlds. I've walked through it all. Jesus is bigger. Jesus knows you. He sees. He loves!

Now I beg beloved #answer the call

#redeemed #experiencedalovelikenoother #bethatchangeyouwanttosee

Mom to three, Angela homeschools, gardens, makes homemade granola, and drinks coffee. Sometimes simultaneously. She loves baking things from scratch (and eating it!). The eldest of her three youngin’s is finishing up his last year of high school. (Don’t bring this up around her. It’s a touchy subject.) She’s passionate about Jesus, Africa, making disciples and her hubby, DJ. 

DJ and Angela have started a not for profit organization called Ovadia Ministries, where they seek to serve orphans and widows. Angela has felt a burden on her heart for the unloved and through her own testimony, is on a mission to share the Good News with anyone she comes in contact with. Angela wants to be so full of the Holy Spirit that others can’t help but catch fire too. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

awesomeness and stuff

I opened up the trash drawer today to throw something away--I promise I didn't have ulterior motives, like checking to see if there were recyclables in there, because I don't do that--and lo and behold one of my people had thrown away an unopened yogurt container (a major offense), and I was all like muttering to myself about responsibility and Mother Earth and climate change is real and happening and IT TAKES 20 TO 100 YEARS FOR PLASTIC TO DECOMPOSE, PEOPLE.

I bet you didn't think to yourself "I'd like to wake up
this morning and see a picture of another person's trash"
yet here we are. Also, WHO ATE ALL THE M&MS?

Plus I was peeved over the fact that I paid a dollar for that yogurt. I may as well have taken a dollar bill and tossed it in the trash, which would have been preferable because then I would have gotten my hands dirty to get it out. Not that I wouldn't do that to save 20 to 100 years.

She came home yesterday and said "MOM" and then lowered her voice to this very conspiratorial tone, like we were being watched by the FSB, the KGB, the FBI and CSMS (that's her middle school, BTW). "Mom. There is like A WHOLE YEARS WORTH of newspaper in the art room and we use A TON of it while we are working with clay and then. We. THROW. IT. ALL. AWAY." Big gasp over this infraction by the non-Mother-Earth loving art teacher.

THIS ENDS TODAY.

I have been known to fish things out of the trash and wave the offending item in the faces of those standing around (when we have people over I tone it down, or else AWKWARD) and say "recycle, recycle" in a really shrill tone, which those who live with me count as a bonus.

I know. MY AWESOMENESS NEVER ENDS.

In other news, a female member of my household who will remain unnamed has recently announced a newly-discovered allergy.

To pomegranates.

Which I never buy.

To pomegranates??

Yes. To pomegranates.

She has assured me this is legit. (So are contraband weapons.) She even wrote it down in her Family and Consumer Science class under Things I Am Allergic To.

How can one be allergic to pomegranates, my friend texted me, and what are her symptoms?

EXACTLY.

**UPDATE ON THE POMEGRANATE ALLERGY SITUATION: I actually bought a pomegranate for this amazing recipe from Oh She Glows, which my two little people were all over. (I wrote that incorrectly. They were all over the pomegranate, not the salad, which I chose to fix with sauteed kale instead of the recommended raw. Still yum.)

Me: Um, I thought you were allergic to pomegranates?
Her (hand WITH pomegranate arils halfway to mouth): Oh, yeah. Huh.
Me. EXACTLY

Thursday, January 22, 2015

As-Is (Me, That Is)

For most of the thirty-seven years that I have lived on this planet, I have had serious issues really believing that God's love is enough for me and my wide-open, oftentimes wandering heart, leading me to emulate others--especially those who were more than I ever thought I would or could ever be.

People I Have Tried To Copy or At Least Look Sorta Like:

1. Brooke Shields (especially during the "Blue Lagoon" era of popularity--I had a doll)
google images

2. Christy Brinkley (who didn't want to copy that sunshiny persona?)

google images

3. Mariah Carey (the most diva-tastic of them all, but I especially loved a) her hair--not happening for me b) her skin--also not happening for me c) her style--leading me to ask my dad if I could borrow his leather bike jacket...sooooooo not the same when the jacket you are wearing is three sizes too big and d) her voice--in my dreams) I also may or may not own almost every single MC CD. 

google images

4. Kelly Kapowski (I know, random, right? I think I just wanted my own Zach Morris plus a set of mini-skirts worn with Keds and a school where you didn't actually have to do any work because the principal was an idiot)

google images

 5. KK (you may not like Kim, but she has to-die-for style and is very beautiful)
Image result for kim kardashian
google images

**6. (I got going with my day (cleaning the kitchen, a chore that I find quite enjoyable--is that weird?) and realized I forgot a major beauty influence! One Miss Marilyn Monroe, sex kitten extrodannaire)
google images


So I permed and watched straightened and copied and sang (not good) and bought clothes and makeup and shoes and looked in the mirror every night and wondered what I was doing wrong and why I wasn't more like the women I admired.

My heart got all tangled up in the effort to look like or be like someone else, losing myself in the process. 

I just walked by the mirror in the dining room on the way to get some coffee from the kitchen. Mocha Swirl. (!) But as I walked by and got a glimpse of myself, dark glasses framing my eyes, hair awkwardly pulled back (and flipped on the ends, which I hate, and I cannot figure out why this head of hair will not just cooperate and turn IN instead of OUT), no makeup on--I immediately judged myself. 

And then for like the first time ever, I stopped myself mid-way.

WTH?

Why is it that I can be kind, forgiving even, and ever so complementary to those who I admire, but I don't extend the same goodness to myself?

I've spent so much time trying to figure out how to fit someone else's mold that I forgot about me. I forgot about the fact that I am empowered to figure out for myself what is beautiful. 

Hahahahaha! Cats make
me laugh!
I call it being stuck.

A mindset. An attitude. A perspective.

Just stuck.

And with the fresh start of a newly organized closet and the freedom from trying to fit into clothes that no longer flatter my body (because they don't reside in my closet anymore so I can't look at them wistfully and think this time next summer...), it's easy to see where I have been stuck. 

Now it's time to start getting unstuck.

Yes, I can see you nodding your head and thinking that we all need to get unstuck from something. (Or somebody, but that's an entirely different post.)  This is where the rubber meets the road--where we begin something, and now we must see it through to the finish. (Maybe you don't have issues with fizzling out half-way through a project, but I have a serious problem with seeing them all the way to the end. This might be because I tend to get excited about them to begin with, but the work is always more than I expected and it isn't nearly as exciting as it was in the beginning. Hence the half-done projects around the house. Hey, everything takes time to get it right.)

Just be a tough act to follow,
You know, a free spirit, 
With a wild heart.
{miguel, simplethings}

A tough act to follow doesn't try to copy acts that are already-in-progress.

There is freedom in just being the person I was created to be, flippy hair and perceived flaws and imperfections, because then I'm not trying so hard to live up to someone else's standard or expectations.

It takes some mindpower to create a new habit, and, as they say, old habits die hard. Including those habits of the brain that take time and some new thinking patterns in order to change. My old stuck mindset says I must look like KK and sing like Mariah so that I can like myself.

My new mindset says I can like myself as-is. (!!)

No voice lessons necessary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Say Goodbye

This weeks challenge is to assess the closet where you house all your clothes, your self-worth, your pride, your ambition, and your bank account.

Your closet.

So I dutifully bounced off to count the number of items I have stuffed in my closet, only to realize that the statement I made earlier in the week, the "I like all the stuff in my closet and I wear all of it" was one colossal untruth. I saw skirts I hadn't seen in a few years. Hello, beautiful, let me try you on.

This is where the train started to derail, y'all.

The frayed, denim mini-skirt I used to wear proudly. It wouldn't button.

The cute, layered blue skirt I bought at the beach when my youngest was a baby? 

WOULDN'T EVEN FIT OVER MY BIG OLE A....okay, I'm not going to overreact here. 

I hear my sister in my head, telling me it is time to clean out my closet anyway. And my own voice is telling me I'm sure to find other clothes I love that will fit over my newly-rounder backside.

(This is not in any way comforting in moments of extreme duress, as were experienced on this otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon.)

So I found myself leaning over the dishwasher to unload all the clean, shiny dishes, tears streaming down my cheeks over the perceived injustice of it all.  I work hard. I've sacrificed good, yummy, unhealthy, yes, but tasty, delicious, evil carbohydrates (like the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie I made on Saturday night*) so I can stay at my current weight. I work out all. The. Time. FOR THE LOVE. Why, why WHY are my clothes fighting me? 

I need cooperation to stay sane. (Those were not sane moments.)

It's easy, when one is not actually trying on ill-fitting skirts and pants that will no longer go up over her bum, to declare independence from finding self-worth in any other place than God. I find Christ's image stamped on my soul, I've been known to acknowledge. I find my identity and my self-worth wrapped up in His love for me, I've said a bazillion times.

Except for when I find my clothes no longer fit, and then I'm completely and totally wrecked.

Somehow, in my mind, the past me seems like a better me than the current, slightly rounder (I'll say curvier) moi. But when I'm forced to take a hard look back at the me who wore all those wonderful, smaller clothes, I'm also forced to realize that I was no more happier (more happier? just go with it) with my weight or appearance or the way my clothes fit than I am now.

This presents a conundrum.

I was not happy then. I am not happy now.

One might conclude that CLOTHES AND WEIGHT DO NOT MAKE ONE HAPPY.

If one were wont to explore further than "I hate the way I look right now" and also "my awesomeness has somehow gone missing".

Right now, all those skirts and pants are still laying on the floor of my closet, where I threw them in a fit of tragic despair, still reminding me that I have some work to do.

This is not a clothes issue, FYI.

This is a heart issue.

My heart says I would like me better if maybe I just weren't...me.  

Those clothes represent weeds in the closet, wrapping their vines around my heart and choking out the life I was meant to have, while I discuss and ponder and dramatically mentally relive the details of what is no more.

Because I'll tell you a secret. Mama ain't 27 anymore. Mama is a solid ten years past being 27, and as it turns out, life keeps going. No one has died because I have aged a full ten years.

It is time to pull the weeds, so to speak.

IT IS TIME TO LET GO.

Freedom. I can taste it. It is near to me. I've not chosen it just yet, as I am still (absurdly) in favor of the familiar, albeit ruinous, confines of the prison cell called Finding My Self-Worth in the Things of the World.

But there is only One who can really fill my cup.

The Plan:

1. Go get a bag.
2. Walk to closet
3. Pull the weeds** (put clothes that do not fit into said bag)
4. SAY GOODBYE (they're someone else's clothes now anyway, a friend said once, when they don't fit you anymore)

And we all, 
who with unveiled faces 
contemplate the Lord's glory, 
are being transformed into his image 
with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
{2 corinthians 3:18}

Being transformed. Into His image. His image.

It doesn't get more beautiful than that.

*Pinterest--or my computer, I'm not sure which--is being difficult and not allowing me to log in, but let me promise you, if you find it on Pinterest and make it, IT WILL ROCK YOUR TASTE BUD'S WORLD.

**Thanks, Hollie. The analogy was perfect :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grow

Let it grow...
Let it groooo-oow...

My theme song for this blog.

Which has grown! Thank you so much for sharing and reading. A friend told me yesterday that she was stalking me on my blog. Well, I say, stalk away. I'm flattered.

Totally random and completely unrelated to anything else. I'm just sitting here singing it, and you know how that song gets stuck in everyone's head. (Sorry.)

I dragged my daughter to a church event last night. "I'll be there only kid there," she said as we walked in. But I know she secretly enjoys these events and wouldn't miss them, even though she accused me of not singing during worship time the previous Sunday (um, you can't sing if you don't know the song, missy) and then went on to say that she thought it was weird that people would just stand there during church and not sing (don't look at me, I whisper sing when the lyrics are familiar, and the reason I whisper sing is so that when there is a break in the singing but the music keeps playing I won't be that person who's (not the time for the grammar police, people) lone voice continues on with the melody--WHICH HAS HAPPENED TO ME, true story, at an event such as was held last night and I wanted the floor to open up and SWALLOW ME and transport me to my car where I could quickly and silently leave covered in humiliation and embarrassment--also, I am not a good singer). But then she stood there the whole time we were all singing (yes, me included, especially after the aforementioned comment) and wouldn't open her mouth, and I just thought uh-huh, yep, that's right, look at you. Not singing.

Yesterday, I said that one day we would eat the rest of our blueberry and blackberry syrups. People, today is that day. Because that's all there was. No other choices. And it occurred to me: I am part of the problem, and now I get to be part of the solution. I make the choices at the store and set them down in front of my kids mouths. I (largely) determine what they will eat. I buy the syrup when we still have perfectly good syrup sitting in the fridge.

As parents, we profoundly influence out kids. And kids, as my doctor pointed out to me today, do not appreciate hypocrisy, even if they themselves are big ole masters of deceit.

_______________________________________
Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
-Jesus
________________________________________

So here I am. Singing during worship and using up the blueberry syrup. Living out what I believe. Changing the station when a questionable song comes on. Following through with what I say. (And one young person is going to be very unhappy with me when I follow through with my threat to take the lock off her door if she can't follow the rules about not locking her door. Same with the open door policy in our house. No door on your room would kinda stink.#MAMADON'TPLAYYO) I do this because when it comes to more serious issues, like mom can I go to this party, they know where I stand. And I stand firm.

This is not easy. Sometimes it's much, much easier to be friends than to be parents. I've fallen in that trap before, where it was just easier to go along with my head stuck in the sand than it was to take a stand.

My doctor also pointed out to me (we had quite the convo about kids before we got around to the reason I was actually there) that kids do not need a friend. They have plenty of indecisive, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool friends at school. They need a parent. Yes, she said, sometimes a parent to blame. A parent to be irreverent to. A parent to complain to and act out to and fall on the floor in a heap of frustration in front of. A parent to guide them in this oftentimes confusing, messed up world.

That's a whole lotta responsibility, y'all.

They come back, my doctor promised me. Girls and boys. After they hate you, they love you. Besides, she said, a boy has to leave his mother's side and enter into a man's world, because what do you think of a 35-year-old man who is still attached to his mother?

That's a good question, Dr. C.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Seven. Again.

Yesterday, I alluded to my incredible ability to 1) procrastinate, especially when it comes to cleaning the bathroom (exhibit A right here; one can come up with many things to avoid the chore she hates, including blogging about it) and 2) create more work for myself by putting things off, or choosing to create new messes, doubling up the work, and therefore the frustration, I have.

But let me tell you. The blue patterned paper I chose to stick to the back of my cabinet last night is much prettier than before. Despite all the junk sitting in the middle of the bathroom floor.

All of this...
Needs to go back in here. Hence the challenge.

It's a bad habit I have. (Do not tell my husband that I have openly admitted this bad habit.) I will spend more time than is necessary making something pretty (say, a cabinet or my weekly chalkboard calendar), and then I will complain about not having time to do other things. Like laundry.

This happened on Sunday, when I spent several minutes looking up chalk lettering on Pinterest, then copying the numbers to the aforementioned chalkboard. Which turned out exactly as I hoped, with cute numbers and everything. (See how I have "chicken" listed for dinner every night of the week? This is all thanks to Jen Hatmaker and her little Seven study. Chicken every night. The kids have staged their own kind of mutiny, called "we are throwing your book away, mom".) This left me with less time than I hoped to do what really needed to be done, which was meal planning and grocery listing. Bummer. Why can't life be all fun and no chores, anyway?




Ah, Seven.

Seven items to eat. Seven items of clothing to wear. Giving away seven things a day.

Seven will not leave me alone.

Even though this weeks challenge focuses on food, I've been a little more sensitive to other areas of my live where I've been living in excess and didn't really recognize it as such.

Two bottles of baby powder, a full bottle of Aveeno face wash, several jewelry cleaning clothes, the case to a small travel clock (now just decoration--it refuses to work, despite my attempts at new batteries and banging it on the counter), half-empty bottles of body wash (coconut vanilla, a flavor that B&BW doesn't even make anymore, so this tells you how long it's been sitting there), nose spray that expired in 2009 (yes, you read that correctly--obviously it's been hiding from me, as I have cleaned out since then), and an old flat iron (bought in 2007) box (kept just in case I needed it for the warranty, which expired a year after the purchase date). Y'all, this is just the tip of the closet iceberg. I haven't gone through each box to determine if I need to keep or toss all my stuff. These were just a few extraneous items I found, shoved behind and between other things.

We live in the land of plenty. Meaning, when I get tired of something (coconut vanilla, anybody?), I can go buy something else to replace it. Contributing not only to the excess I've become so accustomed to, but also to the waste crisis (yes, I said crisis, because it is one, can we all just agree that waste is a problem? and that everyone should be recycling--oops, sorry, my opinion only) we are dealing with.

I don't like it? I get something different. And it doesn't even seem like that big of a deal. 

We have so many choices.

Jen Hatmaker suggests that one go through her kitchen and count the items in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Mine was about the same as hers. 240. And I still need to go to the grocery store.

Because the two bottles of syrup (one blueberry, one blackberry--topics for an entirely different post, so no time for that right now) aren't want we want to eat in the morning. We want plain maple syrup. So I continue to buy plain maple syrup, even though two glass containers are waiting to be consumed.

And I have a problem with waste, especially when it comes to food, and I don't just toss them, because one day, one day we will finish those bottles of blueberry and blackberry syrup.

I didn't count the number of Christmas bags I had stored in my basement, and I didn't count them when I sent them out the door to be recycled. I was a bit embarrassed at the possibility of being labeled Hoarder of Christmas Bags Lady.

My perspective is beginning to change a bit, and I'm beginning to see a part of the point of Seven. It's not meant to make me feel bad, but to open my eyes to that fact that I have a lot of stuff, yet I still want more, and it's putting blinders on my eyes when it comes to seeing God's Kingdom.

Temporarily disengaging from the excess so that my eyes (and my heart) can be more focused on Him.

Jen Hatmaker, you may just be on to something.

 And maybe, just maybe, this won't be an open-and-shut bible study, where I forget what I read after I've moved on to the next, but a lifestyle change. A permanent mutiny against the excess that seems to permeate my inbox, my mailbox, billboards, malls, the grocery store, and Wal*Mart.

No, I won't be eating chicken every single night of the week (which, by the way, makes meal planning a heck of a lot easier), but on some level, being aware that three bottles of syrup isn't necessary. Or good for you. (Sugar, glycemic index--sigh.)

Next week is clothing.

Big sigh.

P.S. Every time I navigate to a different website, the sponsored ads are all about boots and how amazon and zappos have them, just click here and have instant happiness. Sigh. Why, dictionary.com must you tempt me with your sidebar ads, WHY??

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Your Bathroom Will Not Implode

We have a snow day today.

Snow.

Really, it should be "we cancelled school even though a two-hour delay would have been sufficient because it was icy last night ". (I do not know this. I'm only presupposing. I haven't even been outside of my house today.)

I'd really like it if the school system would not call my house, then my cell, then my husband's cell, then send me a text to let me know that school is out. Let me refrain. Obviously, I set it up that way. I would really like it if they didn't call at 5:30 in the morning to let me know that school is out for the day, because, even though this is the time I normally get up, I wouldn't mind sleeping in. At least until like 6 or something. So I laid there, wide awake, until 6:15, and then I bebopped my way out of bed. Any other day I would have slept through my alarm. Whatever.

I had big plans for today.

1. exercise
2. make bed
3. play games with kids
4. quick trip to grocery store
5. quick trip to get some balsamic vinegar
6. laundry
7. clean bathroom
8. vacuum basement
9. make bread
10. start painting cabinets in basement with chalk paint (I'll let you know how I like chalk paint if I ever get started)
11. blog

So far, I am on my way to completing five of the eleven tasks on my list. Five.

I want all eleven done.

A few months ago, I decided that all grocery store bread is crap (most grocery store food is crap, but I'm kinda stuck so I make the best of it) and I'd start making my own.

There is a Modern Family episode that I wish I could find on YouTube. Cam is going through another diet phase, and he starts going through the entire kitchen, picking up food and trashing it. Poison! he proclaims, shoving it in the trash. Toxic! he announces, holding the offending food-substance with a highbrow.

And all I remember thinking is oh, dear. I am Cam.

Making my own bread makes me feel like Ann Voskamp.

(I'm also going to make my own hamburger buns and energy bars. I'll let you know how that goes if I ever actually do it. I recently discovered through a personality assessment of sorts that I tend to be naively idealistic.)

I've been making my own bread (on occasion) for years, along with my own pizza crust, so sandwich bread and hamburger buns seem like a natural progression, am I right?

(It's yummy. And you cannot beat the way the house smells when bread is baking.)

I was charged about getting all my stuff done. Seriously. I even had the kids knead the bread (because you need to know how to do this when you make your own homemade, non-store-bought, non-polluted bread, I reasoned with them). It looked a little weird while they were kneading it, but I didn't think much of it until 45 minutes later, when it still looked like two lumps of dough sitting on my tray.

I told my kids "Hey! Maybe it'll be like whole wheat bread biscuits!"
They are not convinced.

Because I forgot to add the yeast. An essential, if you know anything about making bread.

FAIL.

There is a parable about yeast in the New Testament.

I'm not sure I really understand it, so I won't try to explain it to you, other than to say it's about a woman with yeast. I know there's more to the story. (FAILx2. That's what commentaries are for.)

Anyways, this afternoon has fallen apart.

The kids have gone waaaaaaaaay over their prescribed 30 minute screen-time time limit. The above bread was still gooey and doughey in the middle after 30 minutes in the oven. I've been interrupted about fifty-three times while trying to write this and now I don't even know what the point was. Or how my thoughts at the beginning will connect to my thoughts at the end. I still haven't showered, even though the every-other-day-shower trend ended when school started after the break. I ate bread. (This is strictly against the no-carb rules.) There is no ice or snow on the ground yet my kids are sitting downstairs rotting their brains and playing Minecraft. And my bathroom is looking at me like "why haven't you cleaned me? you know I'm nasty".

Your bathroom will not implode, my friend texted.

I don't know.

It might.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finding Security in Him

It is cold and gray and foggy and just depressing outside, and the only thing that brings me any excitement today is the fact that I have fresh coffee to look forward to. (Shut up. Totally. Addicted.) Which is brewing right now. Just the smell perks me up. (It's Monday, okay, so of course the only exciting thing that might happen today is coffee. Tuesday will be better.)

I desperately want to be a voice that speaks truths into the lives of the people who read the pages I spill my guts on, but mostly, I feel ill-equipped and largely unqualified for the job. Sometimes I sit here, wondering what I could possibly write that could uplift someone who is struggling with the same or similar issues, when I can't even seem to find solace anywhere but in the pages of the virtual bible I read daily. But my heart longs to connect with you, to encourage and uplift, to comfort others with the comfort I have been given over the years.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
{2 corinthians 1:3-4}

In my world (albeit a somewhat slanted, kooky world), somewhere, somehow, I learned that appearance equals self-worth. Some people don't struggle with this. I do. Some people struggle with this for the entirety of the time they are on this planet. Also me. Or has been thus far. The whole idea that one could possibly find any security in the ever-evolving world of beauty is a con game anyway, made up of a web of lies, keeping those of us who look at the pages of...well, pick a magazine, they're all the same, with their airbrushing and their Photoshopping and their pinching in here and there (and making things larger--ahem, Justin Bieber)...yes, keeping those of us who look at those pictures with a skewed perspective always reaching for a perfection that is just not attainable.

I noticed the other day that I am gaining, among other Things I'd Like to Not Gain (including weight, wrinkles, and age spots), a few (depends on your perspective, I say a few because I'd rather not acknowledge at the moment that a few quickly become more than a few) laugh lines around my eyes. Crow's feet, my mom called them. (I prefer laugh lines. At least it doesn't sound like a crow was walking around on your face.)  This causes me much consternation, especially in a day and age where laugh lines don't have to be gained at the young age of 37. (It doesn't help that Jennifer Lopez, at the age of 45, has no laugh lines that I can see. Of course, I've also never seen her close up, so what do I know about Jennifer Lopez or her laugh lines?)

I've learned that it doesn't matter how many people you compare yourself to, or how many compliments you get, it's never enough. Like a never-ending well, dropping wishes in the form of pennies in one at a time, never filling up. That's the cup we hold, asking others to fill it.

Until we turn to God.

Then that never-ending well becomes a spring of life, filling our soul with life water, with the promise that we will never thirst again. 

Now that's a pretty awesome promise.

It goes beyond finding self-worth through appearance, past finding security in the many, many things we search high and low for, above the substitutes and the imitations and the alternates for self-worth we so often accept as It.

Because we are finding security in Him.

The reason I ever starting writing.

Finding Security in Him.

So even when I take a few steps back, and I find myself backed into a corner of my own making, looking at JLo's wrinkles and my wrinkles and wondering if there is justice in the world...

...I can hold my head up high, knowing that I am a child of God. Loved. Redeemed. Forgiven. Free from the heavy yoke of Skinny or Pretty or I Must Be ____ to be worthy.

Secure in who I am because of Whose I am.

Finding Security. In Him.