Monday, February 25, 2013

Joy Breaks

I woke up pondering... to go to work or not to go... the forecast said it should have been drizzling freezing rain, but it was not. Work is 35 minutes away, and one windshield wiper needed to be replaced. I did not want to turn around once I got there... I played it safe. The snow did not start until 4:30.

I need to work. Suddenly, our income has dropped to next to nothing. Then a snowstorm hits. Missed opportunities.

Meanwhile, plans are in the works. Big plans. Big changes. They are almost so real it's hard to believe it has not happened yet.

Roller coasters of emotions have consumed me the last two weeks. Not the kiddie roller coasters.. the ginormous ones that drop hundreds of feet and loop-de-loop upside down.

And life goes on. Sore throats and late meals. Fights. Laundry.

Today, I am numb. I see messes of snowflake cut outs and snow ice cream spills, no clean pj's and unfinished projects.

Yet life does go on. Children need to play and smile and laugh and move around. And so do I.

I don't really know how it happens, but gloom seems to creep up like a shadow and follow me around until a ridiculous amount of time has passed and I have accepted that I need to simply make it until bedtime.

But I don't. I can choose joy. I love the realization (that I have to re-learn daily) that I don't have to be depressed about a lack of money or a disorganized home. So what? I can, at most any time, stop and accept my joy. I can read something funny or pillow fight my girls or eat cookies. Or ice cream.

I can eat my ice cream and stare at my gloom with a smile on my face.

"You prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies..."-Psalm 123:5

You know, that ice cream tastes even better when it is a victory celebration. Pillow fights are sweeter. Jokes are better. Don't forget to take joy breaks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Than Conquerors

Maybe my problem is just that I think too much.

I used to think that it was honoring God to talk about my shortcomings and show how He still came through for me. Then I was perceived as someone who needed therapy. Or at least encouragement for some self esteem elevation. Somehow I managed to draw the attention back on to myself and not to exalt God.

My self esteem is just fine- if that's what you want to call it. I know well what my strengths are as well as my weaknesses. I also know I am so far from perfection in my own self. I probably know this because I think too much.

I know that even if I am good at something, I can still learn something more to do better. Always. So I will never attain perfection even in my strengths. I know that if I am around a group of critical people and leave before anyone else, they will discuss my downfalls. I know my enthusiasm is sometimes mistaken for boastfulness. I know I am misunderstood at times, and at times I fail those that put too much faith in my works. I know that I am learning day by day, so if I think that I have figured out one thing that works, it may be only for that season in my life- just for where I am currently. In a few years, however, a greater wisdom will have carried me forward. Therefore I cannot assume myself an expert on anything.

And even though these things bother me from time to time, I know that none of them matter. At least I know that now that I have had a glimpse of God's love for me.

From Ephesians 3:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

And know that I have an idea of God's love, I can have confidence that I have an all powerful, all loving God in my corner. It is no longer an obligation to live for Him, but a privilege to take part in the adventure of faith that is a sure win and exhausts all doubts.

"I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way he loves us."

I want nothing more. So when an opportunity presents itself to give, combined with compassion and passion from the Holy Spirit... oh, what an honor to be a part of blessing the socks off someone else.

And if the particular method of blessing is giving, I am relieved because giving does not take beautiful words or the right appearance. The action itself says it all. This is when God takes what I have to give and makes it something beyond measure to someone else.

I think too much. I know all too well what is against me. And none of it matters.

From Romans 8:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Loving Where We Are

Loving Kansas (and some of Missouri) the last few weeks... these are in no particular order.

Kauffman Museum Newton, KS

Kansas City Zoo, Africa

Kanza Prairie, Manhattan, KS

Zoo again

Kanza again

Pillsbury Crossings, Manhattan, KS

KSU/KU Women's basketball

Cartoon Network exhibit, Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Wichita HS North sculpture art (live owl on roof)

Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, KS

More Exploration Place

More Kansas Day activities at Kauffman Museum

Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's February

My computer stopped working a few weeks ago, for real. Usually I can finagle something to make it work just a little longer- but no more. So I am typing this with my brand new (almost) cheapest-laptop-in-Costco computer. My computer fast was a nice break.

And now it's February. The dreaded month of February. Thankfully, we have kept busy. There are a few amazing (to me) things I'd like to share about my homemaking project.

The way I do things is to start from the very basic root of the problem and work my further up until I get to the tips of the branches- a quality that usually takes a simple project and makes it into an outline worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize hopeful. Typically this means my project does not get finished. But it is what it is. I am sitting next to a 1,000 piece puzzle of a Renoir painting that I have been working on for who knows how long, a mess of homeschool books, a pile of laundry that has not been put away for a week, and a hodge-podge of various craft supplies, pencils, stuffed animals, and a Chinese Checkers game. But I do feel as though I have accomplished something. The evidence will not show for some time.

I  have had so many ideas jumbled up in my mind and I needed direction. So I prayed for a vision, but from stubborn experience I knew this vision would not be my own, which is incredibly hard for me. I had to be from my husband, and it cannot be that I sit him down and demand a vision. Oh, talk about a faith project. Less than a week later it came unexpectedly. Clear as a bell. All of the pieces of that vision are not in place, but there is direction. A vision, down at the tip of the root, that may affect all decisions hereafter.

I am so proud of my husband for his adventurous dreams.

I have know for a while that things would go better if I revised our budget, which I abandoned a while back when things changed in our financial situation. I avoided it because dealing with money makes me cranky. Fortunately, it actually has given me more peace. It looks attainable, and I feel as sort of administrative sense of ease. If you are interested in learning more about a zero-balanced budget, this is a good read.

I am also resting in the fact that I don't do everything right financially, and that's okay. I have a vision now. I'm trusting that it will all come together.

Finally, I have to rid the clutter. Our current project is to clean out closets. I gave myself and each of the children the task of picking out seven nice outfits, seven everyday outfits, a handful of T-shirts and up to three dresses. I wanted them to put thought into what each outfit would consist of, and if they needed to purchase anything to complete them. The number has no particular meaning except there are seven days in a week, and I wanted everyone to feel as though they had a comfortable amount, yet a limit.

Most of our clothes are given to us or from Goodwill (4 kids...), but what happens is that we don't keep a good inventory and we think we need something that we don't and it's cheap enough we just get it. I am drowning in clothes, most of which we don't need. Not my own, mind you. I never know what to wear. I also want to fix that problem- less time worrying about what we wear since it is available. Outfits are complete- ones that we all feel confident in.

I have been pleased that the kids have taken this project seriously and it gave them a sense of responsibility. They recognized some things they needed and even used some Christmas money to buy socks and tights. It's fun to see them emerge from their rooms fully dressed and beaming with accomplishment. I suppose time will tell if it lasts :)

In the middle of work and outings and animal reports, progress is made. Thank you, Jesus.