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."




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.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 2 - The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men


So I had grand plans for yesterday, even though it was Valentine’s Day.

The plan:
  • get up early
  • do school
  • take the kids to see their grandmother at the rehab/nursing home for Valentine’s Day
  • shop for Valentines picnic
  • create de-cluttering plan
  • pick one area of the house start de-cluttering and do a surface clean of that area
  • take the three youngest kids to my parents to spend the night
  • pack picnic
  • make the Director a valentine card
  • take older two to church for their Peer Ministry Valentine party
  • go to movie in the park with the Director
Reality - I woke up not feeling good at all.  After being up about 20 minutes I told the kids today was a holiday.  (As we homeschool year round and usually have more than the required days each year I didn't feel bad or worried about taking the day off.)  I went back to bed for a couple of hours.  When I got up for the second time, I ended up sitting with the kids searching for valentine card ideas for about an hour.  Once we decided what they wanted to make, we made a list for the store.  I took a shower and we headed out, hit the dollar store and the grocery store.  I dropped the younger kids off at my parents then went back to the grocery store for all the picnic stuff for my date with the Director.  Went to the drug store for the last valentine card supplies, headed home to finish valentines and make the dish the older kids were taking to their party.  The Director came home and took the kids to the party.  Did I mention it was raining and had been raining all day?  Back up plan was to have the picnic at home, inside, and watch the same movie that we were supposed to watch at movie in the park.  The Director put all the finger food out on plates while I finished his card.  Changed my clothes, gave the Director his cards, made a plate and began to watch the movie.  The movie was interrupted several times due to several phone calls and then because the Director needed to pick up the older two from church.  We finally finished the movie and went to bed.

Therefore, the only thing that was accomplished in the de-cluttering front yesterday was, while I was getting dressed I had the kids do a 27 Fling Boogie.  However, I did maintain a positive attitude and not lose it when certain chores hadn't been done; overall we had a fun day.  I know that was definitely an act of sacrifice on my part, as I would have usually lost it and been a banshee woman when things don't go my way.  Maybe today will be more productive.  Still praying daily, and hoping that my behavior and attitude will be a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day One – Ash Wednesday

Yesterday I didn’t get a huge jump on the house because it took me most of the day to figure out that I was absolutely sure that my Lenten sacrifice journey would in fact be de-cluttering, organizing and cleaning our house.  So, after I finally decided the following took place:

1)       I got rid of seven bags of stuff and a port-a-crib.  I’m not entirely sure that I will count this in my 40 bags, as the bags were already packed up and ready to go.  They have been in my living room for quite a while so on one hand they are now officially gone from the house, hopefully blessing someone else.  However, on the other hand I didn’t actually gather the stuff during lent.  We’ll see where I stand at the end of lent as to whether or not I count them.

 

 I scheduled a pick up at our house on-line, put the bags on the front porch, clearly marked, and waited for the VVA to pick them up.  Good thing too, as I found out yesterday that my local Goodwill branch closed uugghh!

 

2)       I forgot to post yesterday, another blog post I read concerning using everything you have in your pantry and spending minimal money on food throughout lent then donating the rest.  Of course now that I want to share it with you I can’t find the blog.  It’s not in my history and it’s not coming up in Google.   Anyway, the gist of the post was to use what is already in the house to make meals throughout lent plus a $20.00 a week food allowance.  Then donate the rest of your food money to the poor.

 

As a Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s, sale/coupon person our pantry, fridge and freezer are almost always full.  However, because some of the stuff I have bought in the past didn’t get eaten fast enough and went bad; then, when my husband lost his job last year we ate a lot of what we already had in the house, my pantry and freezer pretty much looks like Mother Hubbard’s right now.  Still, I did have a bunch of half used bags of frozen veggies and stuff in the crisper close to going bad.  So, I decided to make this soup for Ash Wednesday dinner, Kitchen Cupboard Soup .  I threw in all kinds of frozen and fresh veggies that were very close to the end of their freshness.  I had an envelope of French onion soup mix, a veggie bouillon cube, some Cabernet Sauvignon wine that my husband wasn’t too fond of and a bunch of spices that I added as well.  The soup ended up being so good that it almost felt wrong to eat it on a day of fast and abstinence.  I added a hearty whole grain bread loaf and fresh strawberries to complete the meal for the kids. (I actually have so much left over that I’m going to freeze a batch for Good Friday as well.)

 

It felt really good to use up stuff that we already had in the house, and it felt equally as good to prepare a healthy home cooked meal for my family.  I was amazed at how well it turned out. While my cupboard is still pretty bare, there are things that I can use up in my freezer, I plan to do that as well.

 

Not a huge amount accomplished but I’m focusing on self-denial as well as Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent end in profit, but those of the hasty end in loss.”  Praying my offerings are pleasing to God.
 
Mother Hubbard Old English Nursery Rhyme

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Can you pick a Lenten Sacrifice from a hat?


My kids have been running around today singing “Lent, lent, it’s time to repent, because it’s lent, lent our wills they get bent, by what we’ve done and failed to do, but ask for mercy and He’ll give it to you.  I'm reminded that I still haven't solidified my Lenten sacrifice for this year. How will I repent and ask for mercy? How will I grow in love and faith this year?

As I said yesterday I’ve really been struggling with how to make the most of this lent. Yesterday I prayed and read and prayed some more. I woke up this morning with a pretty good idea of what I planned to do for my Lenten sacrifice. I had read several things yesterday (unrelated to each other) that seemed to drive the same point home and then I read the following post from the Holy Hero's web site this morning.

A priest friend sent us an email about Lenten penitential practices. He said it so well; I thought I should give it to you all to read.

"The Lenten penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are not intended as a covert season of self-improvement, or worse, a time of self-bashing because we are sinners (even though we are), but are instead intended to help create an ever-larger space within our hearts to love. The practices are focused on dying to self so that we are expanded in our capacity to love. We seek deeper conversion and deeper love. By denying ourselves some good, we die to ourselves a little, so that we can grow more in love of God and neighbor. We die to self to grow in love.""

As I read this I wondered was my decision to de-clutter and organize my house really a true Lenten sacrifice. I go back; I re-read what I read yesterday, those passages that seemed to come to me straight from the Holy Spirit. I re-read and re-read, I ponder discern and read the above passage on Lenten penitential practices again. Is this what you want me to do this year Lord, will it be a real sacrifice? Will I grow in my faith, grow closer to you, be converted, and grow in love?  I seek to do your will, guide me on this Lenten journey.  In my soul I hear a still and quiet voice, barely answer yes.

Is it a true yes? I mean de-cluttering and organizing are great ways to bring peace to our home and family but is it a sacrifice? Then I re-read yet again Ann Voskamp’s powerful words from her post yesterday,

“It is an irrefutable law: one needs to be dispossessed of the possessions that possess — before one can be possessed of God.

Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God. God only comes to fill the empty places and kenosis is necessary – to empty the soul to know the filling of God.”

And again I re-read yesterday’s passage in my meditation book Jesus Calling

“Let Me be your positive Focus. When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy.  This is according to My ancient design, when I first crafted man. Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: In sports, sensations, acquiring possessions (emphasis mine). Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives. I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it. Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the Desire of your heart.

I went back to the blogs that got me started on the idea of de-cluttering our home for lent to begin with, I re-read again about St. Therese’ and the Little Way.  And the following post from the Clover Lane blog:

“Why Lent? To me, Lent is a time of prayer, renewal, self-reflection, sacrifice, self-control, repentance and almsgiving. It does seem silly to me to somehow try to link a good old home de-cluttering with something as deeply spiritual as the Lenten season, but the first time I did 40 bags/40 days it was much more meaningful to me than just getting rid of junk. I thought long and hard about how much we really needed vs. how much we had, I became more aware of how we spent our time and money, I had the chance to feel the rewards of charity (and so did my children) giving away to those in need some of the things we took for granted. It was a physical cleansing of the space we were all growing together in, as a family, but it also freed up space in my heart and mind for awareness and purpose-I didn't want my house buried under "stuff" and I didn't want my heart and mind buried under "stuff" either-and I learned that often the physical reflects the spiritual and vice versa.

After much time and thought I do believe that I am to de-clutter and organize my house as a Lenten sacrifice this year. It will be a sacrifice as I can always manage to find SOMETHING else better to do than clean, organize and de-clutter.  And I do believe that I will grow in love with both God and my family, as I am a mad woman when I feel like I’m drowning.  Honestly, I feel like I’m drowning in stuff almost all the time. I cannot think straight, let alone spend quiet time with the Lord in prayer and contemplation.  I’m grumpy all the time and I know at my very core that it’s because of the mess and STUFF in my life.  I know that forcing myself to actually do the de-cluttering and part with some of my stuff, I will be dying to self.  I don’t foresee this as being an easy journey, but I’m posting it here for accountability.

I decided to do a combination of the following de-cluttering posts and Flylady




I plan to break my house into several different parts. From there I plan to do a de-cluttering in the morning and clean in the afternoon for twenty minutes in each session. I hope by the end of lent I will have gotten rid of 40 bags of stuff, organized and spring cleaned so that our house is ready for a glorious Easter!  I also hope that as the weeks go on, my mind and heart will be freed, unburied and unburdened by blessing others with the stuff we aren’t using.  Through all of it I pray and hope that our family will grow in faith and love and that I will have more peace and a better relationship with God and my family.

Does anyone want to join me?
 
The wonderful picture of the hat comes from the following blog http://themorninglorivine.typepad.com/weblog/2009/02/ooooothis-is-exciting-poor-jemima-was-so-nervous-and-anxious-and-crazy-with-anticipation-last-night-she-didnt-sleep-a-wi.html

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lent - 40 days, too many choices


Today is Shrove Tuesday, how did lent sneak up on me so fast?!  I haven’t written many posts over the past few months because I feel like my life is an absolute mess; this has dampened my inspiration and creativity. Today I’ve been thinking, what is the best way for me to pray, fast and give alms this lent?  I figured if I post it here I will be held accountable and this will help me make a positive choice and stick with it for the next 40 days of Lent.

Where to start?!  I mean, I have so many things in my life that I need to be working on!  I could do any one of the following things:

·         40 days of discipline and building better relationships with my kids and in the family.  (As the Director says Little Man and the Informer are like gasoline and a match, add to the mix the Middle Child and you’ll have a raging inferno!)

·         40 days to a healthier body and family (includes healthy food options and excersise)

·         40 days to a better marital relationship

·         40 days with no TV or movies, a definite need in our family.

·         40 days to a cleaner,  uncluttered house, an even bigger need

·         40 days of using all the food in our pantry and budgeting our food money/meal planning

·         40 days of a more disciplined school day

·         40 days of budgeting

·         40 days of going to bed on time and getting enough sleep

I believe that any one of these would require a lot of discipline, prayer, fasting and giving on my part.  I can see how engaging in any one of these activities could help me grow closer to God, take a closer look at my life and relationships, and discern what God’s will for my life is.  As I recently read, often times our physical world and relationships reflects our spiritual world and relationship with God and vice versa.

A quick Google search proves I am not the only person struggling with a cluttered house, budgeting, menu planning and discipline issues.  I read several other people’s blogs and found that many others have chosen similar themes for their 40 day journey as well.  While honestly, I really want to tackle every single thing listed I know this is not a good choice.  As Fylady says baby steps, baby steps are what will bring about lasting change and new habits.  So, as I struggle with which area to work on, I’m researching and praying for guidance.  I’m praying God will lead me to the area He feels I need the most work in and the one that will bring about the greatest growth in my relationship with Him and my family.

Have you thought about the Lenten journey you might take this year yet?

The Shrove Tuesday image  above, I love, came from Pastor Tom's Blog http://pastortomilcp.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/of-pancakes-races-ashes-and-lent/