Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Let Them Eat Fish!

I’m at a friend’s house the other day when I get a call from the Director.  You know it’s not ever going to be a good conversation when the person on the other end starts out by saying “First of all, I’m fine.”  That was the opening line of a very scary conversation concerning an accident he had had.  He t-boned a car that had pulled out in front of him.  The really scary part, it was a young girl driving with just her learner’s permit, no licensed adult driver in the front seat, in a brand new car, I’m talking an hour old car.  Thank God no one was hurt!

After hearing the story, The Organized Child proceeds to tell me that she no longer wishes to get her permit or learn to drive!  She, is going to have a chauffeur for the rest of her life.  I responded with “Where do you intend to get the money for this chauffeur?”  She replies, “I am just going to have a chauffeur for the rest of my life!”  I asked her again about the money she then replied “I’m going to hang out in hoity toity places and find a rich man to marry.  A little shocked with her answer I got ready to question this logic, but before I could open my mouth The Informer yells out “You better like fish cause rich men only eat fish!”

After laughing, I began to try and unravel this logic and figure out where she got the idea that all rich men eat, is fish.  When I asked her how she knows that rich men only eat fish, she promptly replies with an air of, this is the end all, be all, authoritative answer that was given to me “The Middle Child told me!”  And of course my thoughts are whatever The Middle Child says is absolute truth?!  This is the person that not a half an hour ago you were arguing with about who knows what, but now whatever she says is gospel?!  When I tried to argue that logic, The Informer only said “that’s what she said, she knows”.

REALLY!!  The 13 year old has convinced the seven year old that despite the constant berating, bickering, arguing and fighting, that she is the end all, be all, authoritative, go to girl when it comes to the eating preferences of the rich, opposite sex.  So let’s move past the love hate relationship between the two of them, my question is how did the 13year old become such an expert on the eating habits of rich men?!  This child is NOT on the internet, Facebook, or other social media things.  We don’t have cable or an antenna (that means NO TV of any sort) so I know she’s not watching The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
I certainly haven’t said anything to that effect, so I’m left wondering where does one get such a crazy notion?!  Then I begin to think where does any of us get our crazy notions and convictions?

Right now our country is divided over some pretty heavy, game changers.  Some people have some pretty interesting notions on how things should be.  When discussing the financial state of certain exchange students that come to this country with Oldest today he asked me what in the heck do they do?!  Their country hasn’t really produced anything major in a long time, they are pretty mediocre when put up against other countries in the world, so how is it that the majority of their citizens have so much more money than ours?  Oldest concluded that somewhere along the way we messed up big time as a country.

I began to think about that comment and the interesting notions in our country today and where they might have come from.  I believe with all my heart that this country was founded by great men who sacrificed much to create a country of religious freedom and freedom from tyranny.  Because of what they sacrificed many great people, inventions and events have come from this country.  I’m not saying our history is all great and wonderful, we have had some dark days and big blemishes.  However, I believe we have grown and have still done much good in the world.  But I also believe that somewhere along the way we became arrogant and we adopted an attitude of entitlement “It is my right.  I deserve this.  It is owed me.”  I’m thinking that maybe these arrogant attitudes have blinded people to the truth and what is right and just and good.  I can almost see Darth Vader standing in the wings with his hand out in a choke hold fashion “Saying come to the dark side.”
When we believe ourselves to be entitled, when we have a sense of arrogance we lose our virtue of humility.  People are seen as less than us, not worthy of our attention.  We have become a society so focused only on ourselves, it’s all about me.  We have advertising that focuses on immediate gratification like “Just do it”.  We are a society of entitlement, only focusing on what I want and how it affects me. I fear that no one is looking at the long term effects of these attitudes for our country, just what we want now. What feels right and good for me right now.  And, I feel certain that many of the strange or crazy notions have come from the current attitude trend in our country.

However, I’m not entirely sure where The Middle Child got the idea that all rich men eat fish.

Pictures from www.menshealth.co.uk, en.wikipedia.org   and starwars.wikia.com

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mount Washmore or The Never Ending Story

I saw the following picture on Facebook today and laughed out loud, not because it’s funny, but because this particular subject has been on my mind all weekend.  I do believe God is trying to get my attention!

We spent the weekend packing up two kids who left on a mission trip yesterday, cleaning up and making room for the first of our three exchange students that will spend part of the summer with us.  As we cleaned and rearranged and shopped, Mount Washmore grew and grew as each of us did load after load of laundry.  The higher the pile, the more I began to think there has to be a better way, especially since there are three more people who will be joining us very soon.

I think my mother had the right set up, she hung a clothes line and hung a never ending supply of hangers over her washer and dryer.  She folded everyone’s clothes or hung them up immediately after they came out of the dryer.  I don’t remember now but I’m pretty sure she delivered the clothes to us and we were expected to put them away.  I’m not entirely sure I ever did put my laundry away, it probably ended up on top of a chair or dresser or maybe even on the floor, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t make it to any drawer or the closet.

When I was early married and had younger children six to ten or so I got tired of getting folded clothes back in the hamper so I devised a system and taught each child how to do their own laundry.  I gave them each their own day on which to do their laundry and made sure they had all the proper tools in order to do their laundry correctly.  I even made them individual picture example labels and gave them three different baskets so they could sort their laundry accordingly.  Oldest got tired of that method of laundry, so he devised his own method, which was pretty much throw it all in at once and wash on hot.  He has had pink underwear and socks before, but he doesn’t seem to mind too much.  As he has gotten older he has gotten much more careful about certain items in his wardrobe, like his dress shirts and such.  He even hangs them to dry on occasion.

Despite all my kids doing their own laundry (except for The Little Man), we still seem to have this massive mound of clothes on the end of the sofa, at least one day a week, if not for most of the week.  It’s just one of those things that seems to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list.  I mean feeding people at regular intervals, procuring some sort of education and keeping the entire house from imploding, just seems to always take precedence over anything else.  And so Mount Washmore grows to an implausible height, taking on a life of its own!  Morphing into some “B” movie blob taking over our family room, consuming small children and animals as they walk by and always leaving only one lone sock behind.

And so this brings me back to the above picture and my thoughts on laundry.  I’m thinking we should move to a nudist colony and The Director can get a job and work from home.  Think about it!  If we we're nudist’s we wouldn’t have to wash anything!  There would be no Mount Washmore!  OK, maybe, we might have to wash some sheets, but if we only had one pair per bed we would wash and put them back on right away.  No morphing blob to consume anyone.  I’m thinking this could REALLY work!  I’m not thrilled about the state of my body but I had two thoughts on that as well, OK maybe three.  One, I’m a homebody, this gives me the perfect excuse to stay home permanently!  Two, honestly I don’t think there’s that many nudist colonies with good looking people in them, at least not by society’s standards.  I get the feeling that most people who want to live as nudists might be a bit on the free spirited, hippie side, not the cool, gorgeous body, jock types.  And three, if I happen to move into the cool, gorgeous body, jock nudist colony I’ll be motivated to do what I can to improve my body, which is in PITIFUL shape, in order to fit in!

Still thinking this might be a plausible solution to Mount Washmore, now I just have to convince all the really shy and modest people I live with to join me!

Picture from We Know Memes

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crazy is as Crazy Does

I wish, like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, each time someone told me I was crazy that I could reply “I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.” 
I have heard so many times that you are crazy, I can’t even count that high.  Yesterday I was told I’m “plum crazy!”  Often times I’m told this by friends and family, people who like and love me.  I like to think it’s a compliment, and I hope that I am worthy (crazy) enough to be in the good company of the saints and martyrs.

You see, my family lives counterculture in most things, we have for many years.  I didn’t learn this lifestyle, I wasn’t raised this way, and I didn’t have any great life epiphanies that got me here.   The Director and I didn’t start out with these incredible convictions to live counterculture, it just sort of happened over time.  When we were first married we were like most every other young couple.  We had debt from the Director’s student loans, we had a mortgage, two incomes, newer cars and enough credit cards to fund a small nation

When I became pregnant with Oldest, I really wanted to stay home with him.  While the Director knew we really couldn’t live on one income, I persisted with my pleas.  I finally did research on diapers, formula and day care.  When I put it on paper and showed him that I would only be clearing about $75.00 a month after all day care related expenses he relented, and I became a stay-at-home momma.  Of course we made about $10.00 too much to qualify for food stamps and had just about nothing all the time, but we seemed to manage somehow.  (Being young and naive has its perks, you're clueless about how bad off you are and you have an optimism that only someone in their 20’s wearing rose colored glasses can have.)  And, so began our lifestyle of counterculture living.

I honestly don’t remember much about how we managed to make it.  I know there was a lot of fighting over money and expenses.  I know I made a lot of stuff from scratch and I drove a car without reverse for an entire year (believe it or not it can be done!  Just never park or go somewhere that you have to back up from.  I only got it stuck twice in that year.)  For the last twenty years I have managed to stay home and raise my kids.  I have had a few part-time jobs and worked from home here and there but overall we have lived as a one income family.  We have almost no debt (mortgage and some medical expenses) and we drive older cars that aren’t too pretty to look at.  We have made sacrifices in order to do this, sacrifices that not a lot of people would make, our first step on the road to “crazy”.

After Oldest was born, we got very involved in our local church, just about all of our social engagements and activities revolved around a church function or with church friends.  Step two on the road to “crazy”.

When Oldest was to start kindergarten, I couldn’t even begin to imagine sending him to school.  Again it wasn’t because of some religious or superior academic conviction, it was simply because I couldn’t imagine that he would be gone all day.  I couldn’t imagine six and a half hours without him and not knowing what he was doing etc.  So, we started to homeschool, step three on the road to “crazy”.

Then we went and did something completely insane, we had five children!  In a culture where the current fertility rate is 1.9 children per women, most people think we went off the deep end.  At first we had three kids, which seemed to be tolerable.  Even after The Informer was born people still seemed to be fairly ok with the idea.  But, GASP, since we used no culturally accepted forms of birth control and I got pregnant with another child just seven months after The Informer was born we were dubbed out of our minds.  When I miscarried that child several people told me it was probably for the best.  All I could think was, you’re the one that’s crazy!  When the little man came along, the general consensus was you have to be out of your mind!  Step four on the road to “crazy”.

Of course you have the whole “You’ve been together and married for how long?!”  Shock, gasp!  “Despite troubles and heartache and pain, you stayed together?!”  “I don’t know how you do it, I just couldn’t handle it, what about me, I deserve so much better blah blah blah!”  Then there is the fact that our kids aren’t involved in lots of activities, most everything revolves around church functions or something to do with singing and acting.  And then you have our strict parenting rules on modesty, dating, grades, chores and family time.  Steps five six and seven to “crazy”.

Oh, and what about the fact that I devote a good portion of the spring and beginning of my summer to co-direct VBS, spending an entire week with large groups of other people’s kids!  This year it happened to fall the week before my older kid’s leave on their mission trip so things are a bit more hectic than usual but in the eyes of others “NUTS” pure and simple.

However, here’s the thing that deemed us “CRAZY”, in fact “PLUM CRAZY”, this summer in addition to our five children we will be hosting three exchange students.  For two weeks we will have all three of them with us at the same time.  We hosted two at the same time last summer and had so much fun that this year it seemed perfectly normal to have three of them come to stay with us.  Before we were married The Director and I always discussed having eight children.  As it has turned out that was not God’s plan.  I can tell you however that I fell completely in love with the two kids we hosted last year.  I never would have thought you could love someone else’s child in such a short period of time but I did.  Believe it or not, the kids we hosted had a great time and one has asked to come back in the fall with her brother while on a school holiday.  So, I figure if we keep hosting kids, I will end up having way more than eight kids in my lifetime.

Hosting teenagers (GULP) from another country for three to six weeks in the summer is like having a month long sleepover.  My kids love it and sure it’s completely chaotic and messy, there are long waits for the bathroom and much of the food is gone when you go to get something, but the blessings far outweigh any negatives!  So, when someone hears my kids excitedly talking about our students that are coming and they look at me with dismay and disbelief, I confirm that what they have heard is true with a very large smile and enthusiastic I can’t wait either.  I then tell them of all the free or almost free places we plan to go while the kids are here.  And again a large gasp, eyes widen and I know it’s coming “you take them all out?!  All eight of them at once?!  You are CRAZY!  PLUM CRAZY!”  And, honestly I kind of smirk to myself and think that’s ok, I’m the one having all the fun, but I sure wish I could say “I am not crazy my mother had me tested!”
 Pictures Sheldon Cooper portrayed by Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Great Adventure

For the past 17 years every summer, always in June, I go on an adventure that starts in January.  It involves a good friend, my kids and a substantial number of other people’s kids.  My dear, dear friend The Teacher asked me to join her on this adventure when I was six months pregnant with The Organized Child.  It started in a small classroom filled with very active and energetic three year olds.  And, while I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day, each year I come back again and again.  This adventure is one of great stress, but HUGE rewards!  It is one of my greatest passions, despite swearing year after year, that this is the end, no more!  Each year somehow, no matter how stressed and completely spent I am, I am filled up with enough energy to take on this adventure.  I can’t claim that it is grace, because I must admit there are many times I don’t handle what is thrown my way with any grace at all.  Never the less I embark on this adventure and pray that God will take my meager efforts and work His grace like only He can.

What is this adventure?  It changes every year and yet stays the same.  It is transformative and exciting and definitely full of adventure.  It is a quest to sow seeds, seeds that with hope and prayer and love will emerge and transform the world.  Seeds that are sown all for the Glory of God.  Seeds that will hopefully blossom and bear great fruit, fruit that will be taken forth and shared with all.  This adventure is one like no other and today I started it again, in a capacity like no other before.

This morning I arose earlier than normal even though I had very little sleep.  I showered and dressed and headed out the door with all five kids in tow.  We loaded up and headed to church where we prepared with lots of other adults and teens to greet and share the word of God with 95 (you read correctly, 95) little people, ages 3 – 10.  We entered our parish center temporarily transformed for one week.  No longer a place to have donuts or omelet breakfasts on Sunday morning after mass, but a medieval castle!  Kingdom Rock Vacation Bible School where kids “Stand Strong for God”!

In 17 years I have done every job there is to do when it comes to VBS.  For the last 10 years or so I have been a co-director, making sure all the pieces of this massive puzzle fit together.  I have a tremendous friend and partner that I take this on with each year.  She is amazing when it comes to all of the administrative stuff and her people/children skills are amazing.  She handles things much more diplomatically than I do, that’s for sure.  I tend to tackle things like the daily materials, decorations, and discipline.  Together we make a great team along with one other mom who anchors us and helps us manage it all, in any capacity we need her (even though her kiddos are in high school and college).

This year I feel we are in over our heads!  95 LITTLE PEOPLE!  I should have tackled 95 little people in my 20’s when I had a lot more energy and a lot less anxiety!  So many times I looked around our parish center today and panicked!  What in the heck were we thinking taking all these kids?!  We are responsible for their safety, their fun and hopefully their learning about God’s word and His infinite love!   When it comes to their safety I’m a nervous wreck!  We have two children with diabetes, numerous kiddos with food allergies from gluten, to red dye, to eggs and milk and two children with Down syndrome.  We have children who like to wander, kiddos that miss their parents and want to go home and those older kids who think they are just too old and cool for VBS.  We have to make sure each one is safe from wandering, food stuff and normal every day boo boos.  We have to reassure little ones missing mom and dad, help redirect and keep on track others that are distracted and try and break through the tough exterior of older ones who feel they have outgrown this.  In addition we have to make sure all the helpers have what they need and are on top of what needs to be done.  All while making sure everyone is having fun!  It’s a tall order and one that has filled me with extreme panic over the course of the day!

When I got home late this afternoon, I began to tackle VBS things that needed to be done for tomorrow, most of them e-mail related.  As I deleted, answered and quickly read through the dozens upon dozens of e-mails I came across one that comes into my inbox every day.  It comes from a blog that I love but don’t always have the time to read A Holy Experience .  Today in my scatteredness I felt the need to read Ann’s words.  She writes in a very different manner, one that always speaks to my soul and fills me with peace.  In today’s post I found the following words:

“Worry is belief gone wrong.

Because you don’t believe that God will get it right.

But peace –

Peace is belief that exhales.

Because you believe that God’s provision is everywhere—like air.

Exhale. Let go. Peace is the belief that God’s provision is everywhere.”

Words I so needed to read, to breathe in deeply to the depths of my soul, words to heal a momma’s worried mind and soul.  Worried for 95 little people’s safety, their enjoyment, that they are being reached, that seeds are being planted.  So much worry and anxiety, so heavy, so heavy that my shoulders ache, weighted down, more than I can almost bear.  So much so that I began to dread thinking about tomorrow.  Please God let us just make it through the end of the week safely, my constant exasperated prayer all day.

Then the words, Ann’s words, Holy Spirit inspired words?  A still, small voice stirs in my soul, you have brought 95 little people together, 38 teens, numerous parents and adults, all to teach them about My word, My love, do you not trust that I will take your efforts and bless them?  Do you not trust that I will protect all of these children, My children?  Did I not command “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”*  “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.*

I wish I could say I had a great calm right now.   I still feel an immense responsibility and safety for the 95 little people, and helpers.  However, I do have a calmness, some calmness that I didn’t have before.  I’m working very hard on letting go and trusting!  Trusting that God is in control and without a doubt He will get it right!  That no matter what happens good or bad, He is always in control.  I’m exhaling, breathing in and out, exhaling, with each exhale I’m working on letting go a little more.  Praying that God will help me to open my fists, let go of all this anxiety, and teach me to breathe in and out, exhale completely and rest knowing the He will always get it right now matter what!

Matthew 19:14 and Matthew 8:26

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Picture in My Head

Lent has come and gone.  Easter Sunday has come and gone.  The picture in my head still remains even though my end result looks nothing like the picture.  I set out on my Lenten journey with specific images of the end result in mind.  How my Lenten journey would look, how my forty bags in forty days would look.  I’m here to say my picture is a whole lot prettier than the real thing.  I did fulfill my Lenten goal of forty bags in forty days, I did not fulfill the image I had in mind.

Here is how it panned out

Sold:  One large baby gate

Bags thrown out:  13 (this included things recycled or just thrown out because it was broken, unusable etc.)

Bags donated to the VVA:  26

Bags donated to JMJ Life Center:  2

A lot of what I got rid of was clothing, I managed to clean out some of my bedroom and go through some of the children’s clothes and toys.  However most of the bags consisted of stuff from our garage.  Overall this frustrates me a bit.  In my mind I had intended to go through each room in our house clean out the various sections of the rooms (dressers, closets, etc.) and then spring clean each room.  Ending up with a beautifully clean house on Easter Sunday.  I also intended to focus on getting closer to God as I released items from my life.  I’m not sure how I thought that would look or feel but by the end of Lent I felt like I hadn’t connected fully.  I’m not really sure how to describe it, I just didn’t have a real feeling of sacrifice I guess.  What I was left with was the realization that in the last 12 years we have accumulated a lot of STUFF!  And all that stuff crowds out important things like God and family.

When we moved into this house 12 years ago we couldn’t even fill it with furniture, now we are bursting at the seams.  And honestly after giving/throwing away 40 bags of stuff I don’t feel much relief from this over stuffed, bursting.  I have realized that I have a lot more to do to pare down and clean out.  I also realized that I feel like my soul resembles my house, overstuffed and bursting with negative, life taking, mess!  Like my house I need to do a lot more clearing out and cleaning up.  As I got rid of stuff in my home I did feel a little relief, as if I could breathe and focus on other things like God and family.

The majority of the collected bags came from an overabundance of stuff in our garage.  My family’s way of dealing with mess and stuff is to put the said mess or stuff into a box or plastic container and put it in the garage.  Out of sight out of mind!  Hence lots and lots of large plastic containers filled with STUFF being stored in the garage.  When it was all said and done I went through 15 containers/boxes and three bags from the garage.  I have a lot more to do and to get rid of, lots and lots more projects for sure.  But I’m beginning to understand why the blogs I read, that posed this challenge have done this several years in a row.  I’m looking forward to getting to the point of one blogger, she no longer has much to get rid of and she cleans stuff out as new things come into the house.  Now she’s working on scheduling cleaning jobs regularly and organizing what she does have.

I’m going to have to figure out how to get projects of de-cluttering into my daily or weekly routine.  I’m at a point where I can look at something, hear the song “Please Release Me, Let Me Go” and give it away pretty easily.  I don’t want to lose that momentum.  Letting go of stuff is so freeing!

My new goal to do one de-cluttering project a week, with a minimum of one bag a week.  We’ll see how it goes.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
Colossians 3:23

Friday, March 8, 2013

Will the Real You Please Stand Up?!

My forty days/forty bags is going along VERY slow, but I am still determined to reach my goal by Easter Sunday!

In the mean time I want to post something that I have wanted to post since January.  Four of my kids are involved in our church.  My two oldest however are very involved.  They are both peer ministers, and are actively involved in the youth ministry program.  In addition they serve the community in other ways such as cantoring, sing in the choir, alter serve, and as an Eucharistic minister.  In January our Youth Minister puts on a high school retreat, this is a mandatory retreat for the confirmation candidates, but is open to all high school students.

Both of my kids volunteered to give witness talks this past January.  The theme of the retreat was Faith Book (a play on social media).  Oldest talk was on “discernment” and The Organized Child’s topic was “about me” (focusing on her life with our without God).  Oldest talk was very good; it focused on how we have to discern so many things especially as a teenager and how seeking God’s guidance can really help.  He did a great job and obviously I’m very proud of him.  However, it is The Organized Child’s talk that I want to share with you as it hit so close to home for me, especially as a woman.  I feel that there are many people who could benefit from her message.  So, with her permission I present her witness talk.

Talk #6 - About Me...The Organized Child

(The Organized Child walks in with a purple sparkly mask on.)

With a show of hands how many of you are wondering why I’m wearing a mask? (Wait a couple of seconds) Before I tell you I have a question for all of you and I don’t want you to raise your hand for this one I just want you to think about it to yourself.  How many of you are wearing a mask right now? (Let them think about it for a minute) Almost every day, people walk out of the house wearing a mask that is similar to this one. It’s clean, shiny, sparkly, and almost perfect.   It’s the fake, put together person, the one that we think society wants to see.  I’ve worn this mask before! In fact I’ve worn a lot of masks throughout my life.

(Pulls out the bullying mask) One of the masks I have worn is the mask of low self-esteem. I was bullied a lot when I was younger. In many of the activities and groups I was involved in, I was one of the youngest girls.  The older girls would make fun of me, laugh at me, and talk bad about me behind my back. They would walk all over me as if I were a doormat, I was timid and lonely.  Those girls seemed as if they had to get to the top and it didn’t matter who they hurt along the way. I was very blessed to have a mom that was able to take me out of these situations.  She put me in ones where I was no longer the youngest, but the oldest in the group or activity. By doing this I changed from a follower and grew into a leader. I also learned what type of leader I wanted to be. I knew what it felt like to be the outcast, to be made fun of, and to have no friends and I decided that I would never be a person that acted that way or did those things to others intentionally.  During these times I learned to pray for others, even the people who treated me badly.  I also prayed for the strength to tolerate the ridicule without being ugly back to these people.  I wanted to show God’s love to others.

(Pulls out the mask of fear) Another mask I wear is the mask of fear. I was often afraid of things when I was little. I was afraid of waking up and my family not being there anymore.  I was afraid of dreams.  I was afraid of walking ten feet away from my mom in the store. I had terrible panic attacks, and I was always worried about what others thought of me. For a lot of my childhood I worried more about things rather than having fun.  My mom made me a dream catcher to help with the bad dreams.  She went out and bought me pillowcases with saints and prayers on them and a Saint Michael necklace and had it blessed for me. I wore this necklace everywhere, when I went out, at night when I was sleeping, and even in the shower. I lost the medal several times in places like parking lots; somehow it always found its way back to me. St. Michael is my patron saint and over the years he has taught me to be strong and face the fears in this world.  I realized even though I had lost my medal, St. Michael and my guardian angel are always with me.  Even as a teenager I still struggle with anxiety and worry, but recently I read a daily meditation, even though I read the wrong day, it was exactly the comfort I needed.  I know God spoke to me through that meditation reiterating He is my constant companion and comfort.  I heard a movie quote that said “Don’t let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.”  I felt like God sent that message straight to me.

(Pulls out the mask of difference)  I also wear the mask of difference. I have always felt different in so many ways.  I would have to say two of the biggest things that made me feel different were the fact that I was in speech therapy and occupational therapy when I was younger.  I struggled with the fact that in my homeschooling groups and my family at the time I was the only one that had to go to therapy. I hated when I had to go to all of the doctors’ appointments and have MRI’s and other tests I had to have while other kids were out having fun. I constantly wondered why me?!  I absolutely hated heights, ball pits, hugs, swings, learning to ride a bike, bridges, escalators, normal clothing and especially speech therapy!!!!  My therapies were hard and things other kids thought were fun were a nightmare for me.  However, I realized that the things I went through were not as bad as what some kids who are ill or have more challenging problems than I did, have to go through. Looking back on it I have learned that the therapies although challenging (and I hated them!) they helped me to be more “normal”.  I feel much better now.  These experiences taught me to carry the crosses that God gives me with grace.

(Pulls out the mask of Introvert) Another mask I wear is the mask of an introvert. Being an introvert I have to take time to process things and I also like to think before I speak. It’s very hard for me to be an introvert because by the time I come up with an idea or want to do or say something a lot of the extroverts have already decided, spoken up or taken the job. My mom is an extrovert; my father is an introvert masquerading as an extrovert and three of my siblings are extroverts.  I have also been raised with an extended family of extroverts that are in show business. While being an introvert is hard at times it does have its special virtues too, such as restraint, meekness, patience, fair-mindedness, unpretentiousness, and consideration.  I was able to accept God’s call with a lot of thought and discernment. I am able to speak and touch many people in small group settings.  Large group settings are a challenge for me but I know with God’s help I can do anything, even step out of my bubble and do things like give this talk.

(Pulls out the mask of fitting in) One more mask I wear is the mask of fitting in. Being raised in a homeschooling family, I have been taught very different than other teens. School is different, it’s very rigorous, I’m expected to get nothing but A’s, my mom says there is NO EXCUSE for anything less.  Our grading scale is different and I’m at home with my siblings 24/7.  My mom and dad for the most part are my teachers so I don’t get away with anything.  And, despite what most kids think I cannot do school in my pajamas.

Forget about school let’s talk about my parents rules and expectations.  I’m not allowed to wear shorts shorter than above my kneecap or tank tops or bikinis.  I can’t even wear a one piece bathing suit without baggies.  I have to dress modestly.  Modesty is a VERY important virtue to my parents.   I’m also not allowed to wear makeup on a regular basis and it’s really hard when society and my friends don’t have to follow the same rules.

I’m also expected to be involved with my family on a regular basis.  My siblings and I are expected to do regular chores such as clean the bathroom, keep our rooms clean, make dinner, and watch our younger siblings and anything else that is needed.  My dad expects me to help with larger chores.  This past year I had to help tar the roof with Oldest and my dad, in the heat, in my long shorts and regular t-shirt.  My parents expect all of us to have family time together on a regular basis with activities such as pizza night, movie night, games and outings.

The other BIGGEST thing that is really hard for me is I’m not allowed to date or have a boyfriend until I’m 18. Even then my parents have to meet the boy and approve before I can go out with him.  This is so important to my parents that my dad took me out to dinner to teach me how a boy should treat me.  My dad wants me to be treasured and cherished so at that dinner he gave me a chastity ring to wear until it’s replaced by my wedding ring.  While I feel special with my dad and I know my parents only want the best for me, it’s so hard for me to sit back and watch my friends go out with the boys I like. I have also been raised in the way that boys are supposed to ask the girl out and not the other way around.  In today’s world, it’s confusing because I am being raised opposite of the society norm.  I was even given a book entitled The ABC’s of Choosing a Good Husband as a confirmation gift.  What does that tell you?!

I often feel that I don’t fit in because I spend a lot of time with adults verses kids my own age. Sometimes I feel older than I am and un-cool into today’s society.  Even though I often don’t feel like I fit in I know that I was made in the image and likeness of God.  I have special gifts and talents and He wanted me here, I have a purpose in life.  I’ve learned that it’s ok to feel different sometimes, these experiences cause me to grow and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. 

Here’s the thing we all tend to listen to society in this day and age, we all want to fit in, we want to be popular, and accepted by others.  In our efforts to fit in we really end up pushing out God and God’s plans for our life. I can remember the first time I truly found God on my own terms not what my parents told me.  I was going to a different church’s youth group at the time.  Even though I was bullied there, I kept going because God was important to me and I wanted to get to know him better.

When I was younger I got a t-shirt in my Easter basket that said I am a princess, my father is the King of kings.  I recently heard a Disney commercial that represents who I feel I am and am called to be.

 (Pull out The Organized Child’s mask) I am a Princess. I am brave sometimes, I am scared sometimes. Sometimes I am brave even when I am scared. I believe in loyalty and trust. I believe loyalty is built on trust. I try to be generous. I am kind even when others are not so generous. I am a Princess. I think standing up for myself is important. I think standing up for others is more important, but standing with others is most important. I am a Princess. I believe compassion makes me strong, kindness is power, and family is the tightest bond of all. I have heard I am beautiful and I know I am strong. I promise and when I promise I never ever break that promise. I am a Princess.

(Pause!  Pull out Christ mask)  And to me, my Father is the King of Kings.

Play the song "Perfect People" by Natalie Grant

Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scared
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again


Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough


By a perfect God [5x]

Be changed by a perfect God

Be changed

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drawer d’oeuvres

I came to the conclusion that if I want to stay on track with school, make all the scheduled appointments/activities on my calendar, and continue to run the house I cannot take on any large, time consuming, projects.  So, I have decided that in order to meet my Lenten sacrifice I’m going to have to only do a little bit every day, sometimes just a drawer or a cabinet or even smaller.  Not my original plan, but I keep telling myself steady plodding brings prosperity and slow and steady wins the race.

I have a very dear friend that I’ve known for about 18 years now.  She is very quick witted and makes me laugh all the time.  I’ve never known her to be in a bad mood, I always feel lighter after talking to her.  I saw her over the weekend and was telling her about my dilemma, how I want very much to tackle these big projects but in reality I need to do lots of mini ones like a drawer daily etc.  She replied “of course it’s like the whole meal verses hors d'oeuvres, you need to do drawer d’oeuvres”.

So, there you have it, I’m doing drawer d’oeuvres to try and meet my 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  When I open a drawer or cabinet and have a few minutes I clean it out.  I write up what I’m getting rid of as the Director is a stickler about this, you know for taxes.  Then I put everything in a plastic bag clearly marked all ready to go for the VVA and move on with my day.  My goal is one drawer or cabinet etc. per day; if I’m able to do more than one per day ,woo hoo, that much more the better.

Since I last wrote I’ve been able to clean out most of my dresser, ten drawers, the top and the two small jewelry boxes on top of it (still have a couple of things to go through and then I want to wipe the entire thing down really good and polish it).  I do almost have a full bag ready to go just from my dresser (not a great start to 40 bags in 40 days, wonder if I can gain ground in someplace really messy like the garage?).  VERY SCARY!!!  I had things like nursing bras lurking in the deepest corners of my drawers.  I haven’t nursed for at least four years.  Those I’m just throwing out, so I’ll have to keep track of trash bags too I guess. Steady plodding, steady plodding.

I hope your Lenten sacrifice is going well even if only at a snail’s pace like mine.  The goal is to draw closer to God and examine my relationship with Him right?  As long as I’m always moving closer to Him I think I’m doing well.  I heard Lysa TerKeurst on the radio today.  She spoke of Imperfect Progress , and while I could certainly relate to her discussion of “processing emotions in an unhealthy way” I felt that what she had to say about imperfect progress could be related to all areas of my life.  Even this Lenten sacrificial journey.

Here’s a song to help you with de-cluttering, especially if you’re struggling with letting things go.  I got it from Flylady; it’s to be sung from the “STUFF’S” point of view.  I love it!  Please Release Me

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day's 3,4 and 5

So I'm not feeling really great about this lent so far.  My plans have not gone the way I intended.  Last Friday I spent most of the day visiting with my parents when I went to pick up the little ones from spending the night.  Then I took the Middle Child to an afternoon/evening birthday party, it was 40 minutes from home so I hung out until it was over.  By the time we got home it was after 9:00, I thought it would be nice to spend a little time with the Director before I went to bed.  So, washed out day three.

Day four, over slept.  Took care of important stuff but shows no evidence of being done, such as lowering car insurance bill, talking over important stuff with the Director etc.  I did manage to make a plan for de-cluttering though.  I broke down the house into all the rooms or areas I wanted de-cluttered.  From there I broke the rooms or areas into specific things that needed de-cluttering.  When I was done I had 69 things that needed my attention, that is a tall order and I’m not off to a great start uugghh!


The only areas I did not plan to work on were Oldest room, the Organized Child and the Middle Child’s room, the Director’s night stand and armoire and the garage.  I figure those are areas that need to be maintained by the older people occupying those spaces.  I will encourage them to de-clutter as well but I’m not going to make them do it, as if I could anyway.  In the evening the Director and I went on a spur of the moment date and spent some much needed time alone together.  Day four another wash out.

Day five, I had planned to take Sundays off.  Even if I had wanted to work around the house on Sunday I couldn’t have, our day was slam packed.  Worked an omelet breakfast in the morning, at church to raise money for the older kid’s mission trip this summer.  Took the Informer to a birthday party in the afternoon, swapped off with the Director, went home to put dinner in the crock pot and head back out to go to mass.  Got home after 7:00 because Oldest is taking drum lessons in order to take over playing the drums at the youth mass after our current drummer moves in April.  Ate dinner and watched a family movie together with the kids before heading to bed.  Day five, supposed to be a day off but another wash out.

Before I went to bed I was reading a few things on-line and doing e-mail.  I had promised to send a link from my blog to a friend.  While on the blog looking for the particular post, I came across a post I had written last year during lent   HELP! The Water is Encircling Me, Pulling Me Down!   I re-read it and I was reminded of a wonderful thing.  In the post I had quoted one of my favorite author’s blog Ann Voskamp, here is what I posted.  (Obviously this getting off on the wrong foot is a pattern in my life.)

Today I read a wonderful post from the blog that really jump started my desire to blog, A Holy Experience.  It was titled What to Do When You feel like a Loser… let me tell you it hit me right between the eyes!  It was just what I needed!

My lent has not gone according to my plans this year.  I love where Ann says

“Whoever had the crazy idea that Lent was for the good who were forsaking some lush little luxury?  Lent’s for the messes, the mourners, the muddled — for the people right lost. Lent’s not about making anybody acceptable to a Savior — but about making everybody aware of why they need a Savior….  “See how these fingers can angle — how they can bend in surrender to Him.  And if you lay the other index finger across, pick up your cross and follow Him– there it is — there’s the sign to wear, the sign showing the way out of a mess: “A” – amazing.  She has to know this, that the word, “amaze,” it comes from the act of wandering in a maze, to be bewildered, overwhelmed with wonder — amaze.  The losers, the ones lost in the labyrinth of life, are the ones made amazing – by the One who solves the mazes of life.  I touch her cheek, “In Him, you are already amazing.”  She blushes and I laugh, nod my head yes, insisting to this daughter who has to know her Father’s heart for her now because of the Son.  “In the flesh, you’re a mess.  In Christ, you amaze.”  I sign the “A” over her and Christ with the scars, He marks her.  “You’re already amazing.”

I imagine she’s speaking straight to me!  Words I so needed to hear!  The losers, the ones lost in the labyrinth of life, are the ones made amazing – by the One who solves the mazes of life.   “In Him, you are already amazing.”  To know He will solve the mazes of life.  To know that in the flesh I AM an ABSOLUTE MESS!  But in Him I amaze.

As I’m feeling like a loser for not getting a better start on lent this year, I was gently reminded that I am a mess without God.  And, even though my lent hasn’t gotten off the way I intended, I have definitely been more focused on God and spending time in His presence.   I have been intentionally trying to have a better attitude towards everyone in my family and the mess in my life.  It’s been going fairly well considering who were talking about here.  So, maybe it’s not exactly as I have intended but I do know I’m being worked on.  I know that I am growing.  And today is a new day I can definitely always start anew.  We’ll see what I accomplish today.