Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oversharing with Coffee

I know I say "I realized" a lot, but you have to understand, because I teach high school, every day is a new day.  A hundred thoughts are regularly running through my head (what should I eat?  Is there a better choice?  I need to exercise?!  Where can I buy cheap, cute furniture?  Do I look fat in this?  Why did she say that to me?  I wonder if I can do something to help?  Who do I need to call about this?  Seriously?  etc.); therefore, it's amazing I manage to keep anything straight.  And that pretty much guarantees that everything is a revelation.

Which is why I'm so easy to impress.  It sparkles?  I'm impressed.

But today I was reminded how crucial it is that we share our life circumstances with one another.  Over and over in Bible study we've discussed what seems to be a current problem in the Christian community:  We don't honestly share our lives.  And if no one is walking an example in front of you, how in the world could anyone learn to nagivate muddy waters?

I don't mean to go all broken record on you about the things that have hurt me in the past year.  I talk about it partially to work through the things I don't quite understand and partially to keep from developing the "it's-all-about-me-and-you-can't-possibly-understand-how-I-feel" arrogance.  I've been there.  It's ugly.  And not I-forgot-to-put-on-make-up-today-ugly.  It's Medusa ugly.  (HOO-RAY for random literary comparisons.)  Sharing has afforded me the opportunity to realize that other people have similar feelings--even in different circumstances.  So it is possible to "get" someone else...even in a completely different stage of life.

On another note, Favorite and I got one of these for our anniversary:




So if coffee and oversharing could ever possibly glorify God, then I'm totally walking the straight and narrow.  (Well, there's that obedience thing, too...I'm still on the wagon in case you were wondering.)

We Were Strangers Starting Out On A Journey...


Favorite and I celebrate eight years of marriage today.

Eight years.  It doesn't seem possible that we've been together that long--particularly when I realize that all but 2 years of my adult life have been spent with him.  And we've certainly grown up in that time period.

We've learned to navigate trailer living--even when the roof blows off on the morning of the New Year.  Turns out landscaping rocks can weight a tin roof fairly well.  Together, we also figured out that hot water is extremely nice, but not completely necessary.  And when we were finally done freezing our behinds off in the shower, we learned that you really need very little to survive in a new house.

We've learned, together, that losses never stop aching, but there is solace in truly understanding one another.  I wish I could tell you that every year of our marriage has been easier than the last, but that's just not even close to the truth.  Fortunately, the core of that relationship has definitely grown stronger even when things haven't gotten easier.

He is the man God planned for me.  He's the one who is strong enough to carry me.  He is the one who provides for our family.  And he's the one who has reminded me that things will get better.  Thankfully, today, I can tell you that he IS my better.

I love you, babe.

In the end, I want to be standing at the beginning with you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sometimes, obedience sucks.

And today I just found myself really, really tired of everything.  But thanks to the lady in Macy's who offered me one of her children.  You really don't know how glad I would've been to take one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prayer Monday 5/30


I'm going to change the rules in the game a little bit.  I think it might be easier to pray for one another if we do two things:
     1.  Share where you are and what's going on with you (i.e. prayer requests).
     2.  Visit each participant's page and pray for them in that moment and leave a comment.

We can do these things in leiu of writing an actual prayer, and I wonder if it won't make us more purposeful in praying for one another.

Currently, I'm in a place where God is calling me to obedience.  I'm a "do it m'self" girl by nature so you can imagine that this is a difficult place for me.  But I don't believe God puts us in positions if it isn't for our own well being.  I know He is teaching me and protecting me. 

This doesn't mean I've been successfully obedient this entire time.  Thankfully, I'm seeing God's grace in a way I don't think I've ever seen it before.  I also received a reminder during study this week that God rewards obedience.

But you can pray that God would draw my heart to Him during this season.  I want to know I'm doing what HE'S ASKING me to do.  Please pray that my heart would be open to hearing Him.  I'm expecting Him to be big during this time, because I'm clearly going to need his intervention.  I'm also asking Him to draw my heart to scripture and prayer.  I'm getting ready to have a lot of free time so I'm going to make every effort to commit the beginning of the day to these things.

While it may sound weird to you, one of the things I feel God is asking me to do is trust Him as my only hope--not medicine.  Please don't take that the wrong way, because I'm a complete and total believer in God's ability to heal through medicine.  I'm just positive He told me that enough is enough.  That said, I will need to commit myself to very specific eating habits and exercise habits over the course of this summer.  I need your prayers for my will power.  I know an occasional cheat is acceptable, but my body doesn't process a whole list of foods the way it's supposed to; therefore, I need to be mindful--and I need your prayers to believe that  it matters.  This is part of my obedience to Him.

I know He's moving, girls.  I've already seen evidence--in my life and the lives of others.  But that's not enough for me anymore.  I want more of Him.  And I want Him to push me to an intimacy I used to know.

I'm praying for you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Love is a Red Chair



It's love.

Two of these and maybe a small love seat?  Too bad overstock doesn't give you the sit before you buy option.

Sigh.


Friday, May 27, 2011

I Have A Dream of Decoration

Favorite is THE man.

While I was at school the last two days, he put knobs on my pantry doors, fixed the remaining parts of the banister (it's officially finished!), routered the shelves for the bathroom and almost finished hanging one of them.

It's going to be a homey place, ya'll. 

I'm working on a vision for the living room.  As I find things I like, I'll put up pictures.  I like the idea of eclectic peices that have an element in common (like a color).  But I'd also like that room to be multifunctional.  I need a place to write or sit and read or just relax without a television.  Since I have that beautiful bay window, I think that will be just the room.

I've glanced at some really cool odds and ends in places like Hobby Lobby and Target--mini ceramic end tables in bright colors, large vases that can double as door stops or umbrella holders, fun picture frames and colorful lamps.  Truthfully, I think I may just start buying things that strike my fancy and then make them work in the spaces I have.  Nothing says "me" quite like a room that goes together without the matchy-matchy element.

Plus, every time I see the pictures from Young House Love, I get a hankerin' for a completed and pulled-together room.

Maybe Sherry would be willing to come visit?  And bring a gift card?

Dancing Queen SugarBean

SugarBean is my niece, and she just recently turned 5 years old.  Every time I see her, I'm shocked at how tall she is and her amazing grasp of language.  She is constantly asking questions and learning how things fit--particularly as they relate to her.

Yesterday, she came over...so I thought I'd give you a glimpse into a few Bean-isms.

Her Pre-K group went to visit a place called Giant City Park.

Bubby (Favorite):  Where is your class picnic?

SB:  Somewhere they called the Big City Park.

Bubby:  The big city park?  What big city are you going to?

Mother-in-law:  They're going to GIANT City.

She gets synonyms, people.

Then...she saw a picture of a boy hanging on my fridge.

SB:  Who is that kid in the picture?

Me:  Oh, him?  That's Carlos.  Bubby (my favorite) and I send him money so he and his family can live.  He's from Haiti.  *Cue confused look from SB*  He's from another country.

SB:  China?

There you have it folks.  Apparently the only other country in the world is China.

Then we danced like fools in the living room.  According to SugarBean, her favorite band right now is the Black Eyed Peas so we cut a rug to "I've Got A Feeling."  I think she was shocked that her Bubby and I would dance like fools in the middle of the living room.

I taught her to head bang and play air guitar.  She's a pro.

But after we took her home, I thought about how good I felt just hanging out with her.  It makes me wonder how I would feel if I just danced in my living room and did a little air guitar/head banging of my own from time to time.

PS.  I should also mention that she helped Bubby set traps for the "muskcraps" in our pond.  I sure hope we get rid of those muskcraps.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

For Others

"You need me."

"Ehhh."

"You know you need me."

"I don't know that..."

"I know that you know that you need me."

--The Wedding Planner

Jennifer Lopez may have trying to secure a partnership with her boss, Geri, but these words popped into my head as I was doing Bible study this morning.

Leave it to God to use Jenny from the block to teach a lesson.

I've written about the benefits of isolation, and I truly believe that alone time is beneficial for everyone*.   Frankly, I've become one of those people who just needs a lot of personal space to decompress and analyze.  Favorite, on the other hand, needs to process his thoughts through conversation.

Oddly enough, neither of those eccentricities is wrong, but both require balance.  And one thing (among the multitude of lessons) the Lord is teaching me is we need one another.  Desperately.  In all sorts of circumstances.  For all sorts of reasons.  Check it out:  Philippians 2:3-4 and 1 Corinthians 12:21

Those two scriptures are just the tip of the ice burg.  John Donne was onto something when he penned the words, "No man is an island." (OF COURSE I was going to quote John Donne like any good English nerd.  You're welcome.)

We are required to pray for one another (James 5:16).  I've needed those prayers this week--often to keep from over analyzing (which is my real spiritual gift). 

But prayer isn't the only reason we need one another.  I think there is comfort in knowing we can really trust someone to be there when it counts.  We find relief in our ability to text the craziest message on the face of the planet and know the response will be something along the lines of "Gotcha."

And then sometimes we just need to know we aren't doing "it" alone.  Whatever that may be.

Basically, I think God entrusted us with one another because we need a reminder that it's not all about us at the same time we are fulfilled because we feel needed.



*  (Sometimes I'm not really a great steward of my alone time, but this post has really made me think about the free time I will have this summer.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Magic Act

I'm in a writing desert.

There's so much swirling around me at this point, but some of it would, unfortunately, be incomprehensible on this blog.  Therefore, I simply edit it the way any good English teacher would edit a paper.  And here, editing my life is easier than it should be.  I wish I had a 'save' option  or a 'delete' option or even a 'preview' option to weigh the heart of a matter before I actually had to face it.

But guess what I don't have?

So I wait.  Because that's what God seemingly keeps asking of me. 

Wait until I say go.
Wait until I give direction.
Wait until I open a door.
Wait until I give you words.
Wait, Crys. 
Wait on Me.

And I'll be honest.  I'm a little tired of waiting.  I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm supposed to be doing and I'm starting to feel like everything I touch crumbles (like the opposite of King Midas...although turning everything to gold wasn't really the blessing he anticipated).

Didn't I used to be better at this?

But maybe the point is it's not about me.  Surprisingly, I don't really struggle with that concept.  Frankly, complete invisibility is something I've found myself envious of lately. 

Anyone have one of those Harry Potter cloaks?  I sure could use it.

Wednesday Hodgepodge 5/25


1.  What is something about living in this country that you value? 'This country' is whatever country you call home. 

I value the fact that I can be a woman with the liberty to think for herself.  I value the fact that I can pray openly and share what God is doing in my life without fear of retribution.  And I pray that I cultivate each of those things now, while I have those liberties, so I will hopefully be in the habit of pursuing them regardless of legalities.

2. What is a favorite something you own that is red, white, and/or blue? 
*  I have a navy blue dress I bought at Walmart that I LUUURRRVVVEEE.  I especially like that I paid $15 for it.
*  I have a red purse that was my very first Coach purse.  Definitely some sentimental attachment as my parents bought it for me :)  Well, that and I have this thing with purses...and bags.  And I think I'm developing that attachment to jewelry...
*  My guest bathroom is actually "done up" in red, white and blue (or will be when I finally finish actually putting a house together--how long does that take by the way?).

3. Do you fly a flag at your house on patriotic holidays? 
Not generally.  On the 4th of July, we're too busy celebrating my entrance into the world.

4. What ingredients do you think should be included in a great picnic basket?

Fresh fruit is a start.  Some sort of fresh tomato, olive oil, cheese blend with a really great, crusty bread.  An array of cheeses with accompanying crackers.  Hummus.  Fresh veggies with some sort of dip.  Casey's pineapple salsa with chips (and I've decided only she makes it right).  Sangria.  Basically, everything we all end up bringing when we head to the winery for a summer visit.

Oh, and add in a board game or two and a group of friends--if you have a big enough basket.

5. What is one interesting piece of trivia you know? Interesting is of course a relative term. 

 I'm not sure I can "trivia" on command, but I know a lot of random information that doesn't benefit anyone.  Since I teach this, I'll just share this information (even though Lil Bro will totally take credit for informing me):  Julius Caesar (from the play of the same name--lol) chooses his nephew, Octavian, as his heir.  Though Rome was not yet under the single rule of an emperor, Octavian is eventually given the post (through several interesting events I won't detail here).

Of course, later he changes his name to Augustus and we read a little about his exploits at the beginning of the gospel of Matthew.

6. Wednesday, May 24th is National Escargot day...have you ever tried them? Eww or ooh? 
In 1994, I went to Florida with my high school band.  A group of us ended up eating at The Brown Derby at MGM and a boy in our group ordered them (along with rack of lamb.  His bill was astronomical).  It took me forever to put the sucker in my mouth, but I will say it was delicious.

I can't promise it wouldn't take me just as long to put one in my mouth again, though.

7. What is one thing you know for sure?

That he who began a good work in me will carry it on until the day of completion (Phil. 1:6).

8. I am so ready to be "comfortable" in my house--pictures on the wall, rooms with furniture, floors mopped, everything out of the trailer, etc.  UGH.  Sometimes I'm not even sure what to buy because I don't know if it will "fit" into the space.  I'm just going to start buying and putting things in there anyway.

Oh, and I'm totally going to learn how to lay a paving stone patio this summer at my basement walk out.  We can thank Young House Love for that nifty piece of information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Furniture Concepts

Part of getting this house together, for me, is making sure everything has a place.  It annoys me when I'm usure as to where something belongs or the most accessible place for frequently used items.  And in the kitchen, you figure that stuff out pretty quickly.  At least, we do.  But that's the room that gets the most attention.

Since my front room is largely empty (with the exception of two bookcases), I'm trying to figure out what I want in there.  So far, I'm looking at a desk--something simple with clean lines that will give me a place to organize bills, etc.

I'm thinking about this.  The wood in our house is mostly done in a cherry stain that is this color or a bit lighter, but what do you think?  Simplicity and beauty?  Functional?

And then there's furniture.  I realize I won't be getting some of it for a while, but I want chairs and maybe a loveseat with exposed legs.  Something like this in design:

But keep in mind that I'm not really looking for black leather.  Maybe red cloth?

So there you have it.  My random thoughts on a Tuesday evening before school is out.  How exciting.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stress Relief? Your Name is T-W-I-Z-Z-L-E-R-S.

These?

Are not on my diet.

But they taste really, really good.

And I figure stress relievers are welcome.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prayer Monday, 5/23


My heart is really just broken right now.  I don't feel at liberty to share everything with you, but suffice it to say I witnessed some very ugly things this evening and I'm hurt by those things.  If I have ever needed people to come together and pray for God's Will to be accomplished in a big way, I need that now.

With everything in you, I need you to pray that God would guard the hearts of people who were witnesses to what took place.  We need God to move in a mighty way--offering direction, healing, conviction and unity.  We certainly need God to ward off any sense of bitterness, hatred, disgust or evil.

I do not want to see good, godly people allow anything to come between themselves and their Creator.  I don't want bitterness to take root and weed out the things God is accomplishing.

And girls, don't be mistaken.  My God is moving.  He is moving in my life, and I'm seeing evidence that He is moving in the lives of others.  Our Bible Study this evening was proof positive.

I'm still asking you to pray this for me:  pray that my heart would break with the things that also break God's heart. You can pray that I would just be inexplicably drawn to Him. I want desperately to be drawn to my knees before Him and to confess honestly what's in my life. I want that desperation to be met in Him alone, but I'm also ready for the aching to be over. I need to know that I'm in the center of His will--that my thinking is right and that will lead to right action. I need for my mouth to stay out of the way. And, apparently, I need to stop trying to find comfort in something other than Him.

And I'm asking that you intercede for my husband and my family.

Seek Him fervently.  He is moving.

An Ode to Blogging

I've become rather attached to the whole idea of this blog.  The funny thing about isolation is that there are few opportunities to share your heart in order to work through where you are.  And while we all need a little time alone to process, I think there is something to be said for sharing our hearts.  Maybe it's so we don't lose ourselves in the process.

Blogging has given me the opportunity to share my heart--good, bad or indifferent.  I try to write like I'm having a personal conversation with someone who really cares about where I am or what I'm doing, but I have to be honest:  I can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that there are people who read.  And then I feel like I should apologize to you for my lack of content here.

I guess until I process whatever lesson I'm supposed to be learning through my current life circumstances, I'll probably cycle through the same sorts of thoughts.  I DO wonder so many things on a daily basis.  Many of them are weight and mommy related.  But sometimes I wonder how useful I am in a lot of arenas.

Oddly enough, one of those arenas is the house.  I am not constructionally inclined in any way.  But this summer, I've decided I'm going to change that.  I'm going to learn to lay patio stone.  I'm going to learn to lay flagstone.  I'm going to try to ensure that we have a patio at our basement walk out and a sidewalk to get to our front door.

And I'm hoping that will make me feel like I can contribute.  Or that it will make my arms significantly less flabby?

I'm sure I'll blog through the process.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wicket: In Loving Memory

Yesterday, our family dog died.

We got Wicket when I was about 19.  He was the sweetest puppy you could possibly imagine, and even resembled his namesake in puppyhood.

When Favorite and I got married, I was so upset about leaving Wicket at my Mom and Dad's that Favorite bought Barky.  That's how I ended up with my very own tiny shih tzu.

Of course, tiny has always been a joke.  Wicket wasn't supposed to be over 10 lbs.  So when he reached his massive 20 lb state, we were a little shocked that our "tiny, little shih tzu" might have actually been a giant.

He died in my dad's arms yesterday.  And while I'm really sad that it was time for Wicket to leave, I just can't help asking:  when do cycles like this end?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grad School and Empty Spaces

Grad school is the scariest thing in the world to me.  I contacted the local university to determine time limits, application deadline and requirements.  But it FREAKS ME OUT.  School scares the beejeezus out of me.  What if I can't handle the commitment?  What if I can't finish on time?  What if I end up with a bunch of stupid people in my classes?  What if I'M the stupid person?

Eventually, I'll bite the bullet and get everything together (like letters of recommendation from professors I haven't seen in the last 3 1/2 years).  I could probably do it this summer, but I'm wondering if I just need some time off. 

A little less stress.  A little less busyness.

Maybe, this summer, I need to spend a little time caring about people who need some tenderness.  Maybe I need to spend some time being tender before the Lord.  Maybe I need to focus on trusting Him and His plan for my life.

I need to realize that those things are purposeful actions.  I need to stop filling my days because I'm afraid I'm going to cry or mourn.  Instead, I need time to feel those things so I can commit them to God and move into a new, less debilitating stage of grief.

And I'm purposefully going to make myself available...for whatever may need me...if I'm even still needable.

But Grad School, I'll probably see you this fall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just A Little Chat

I realized today that I spend a lot of time alone.  Like.  A lot.

Normally that doesn't bother me.  Favorite and I work opposite shifts, and I really miss him throughout the week, but I've learned that I can use that time to decompress, grade and keep the house tidy.  I also don't have an endless supply of friends.  And honestly?  That doesn't bother me either.  I have pruned some things out of my life because I was unwilling to deal with the circumstances.  The friends I have left are true to color (if you know what I mean), and I have a few budding friendships that seem really promising on that front.

But today I think it would be nice to just sit on my porch and discuss ways to harvest the wheat that is my front yard with a good friend.

Kidding.  Slightly.  There is wheat in my front yard.  But that post for a different day.

I think sometimes it would just be nice to be able to unload my mind and receive immediate feedback.  You know?

Like grad school.  I started looking at the grad school application process today.  Good.  Gracious.  And some of the requirements make me just a little sick to my stomach.  I don't know that I even remember how to be a student anymore, but I think it's good practice to keep myself mindful of my own students' situations.

Or the SBD (South Beach Diet).  How it's ok on some days.  And how I allow myself a cheat a couple of days a week as long as it's not huge.  How my weight loss has stayed in the 9-10 lb range.

I'd talk about trusting God and being scared.  I'd talk about prayer concerns for others.  We'd laugh over something stupid one of us said.

It probably wouldn't be significant.

I take that back.  It would be significant to me.

This post has no purpose whatsoever; sometimes I just need to talk.

Wednesday Hodgepodge 5/18


1.  What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?

Let's be honest:  You find a cheerio, old Kleenex, a matchbox car, baby wipes and a diaper in a woman's purse.  Is it shocking to discover she has children?

And if she doesn't have children, isn't that even more telling? ;)

Just for the record, I have a set of Hello Kitty crayons in my purse.  No kids.
2. When was the last time you went to the zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?

Chris and I went to the zoo in St. Louis in March.  It was a good time because it was a beautiful day to be outside.  I think I just like the fact that you can walk around and enjoy the scenery.  It's a good time to talk.

I enjoy giraffes.  The big cats freak me out, but I have this weird thing where I have to look at them every time.  Like Panthers, for example.  And yes, I did capitalize Panther.  Anything that looks at you like it's contemplating a way to get through the cage deserves a bit of capitalization.

3. What social issue fires you up?

Right now?  Education reform.  I wholeheartedly agree that we have a responsibility to keep school districts and teachers accountable, but the currently proposed efforts are ludicrous.  It's completely ineffective to continue creating mandates that takes responsibility completely out of the hands of the students.

And it's counter productive to anything I'm trying to teach them.  After all, what's the point in getting them to realize that they need to own their own faults when education reform clearly explains that it's not their fault--it's the teacher's.

4. Are you a coupon clipper? If so, are you extreme?

No, though I probably should be.  I'm trying to condition myself to see those coupons as an actual dollar they are putting in the paper for the taking.
5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?

I have a Build-A-Bear Favorite and I built on our honeymoon.  I have every intention of building another one on our 10th anniversary.

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?

Lemon Meringue.  My gramma made fantastic lemon pie (what she called it).  One of the things I miss about her.

Coincidentally, if you read often, you'll discover that most of my memories with my gramma revolve around food.  It was her love language.  It might also be the reason I think we have to go eat so you know I care about you.

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?

Yes.  Who doesn't want to hear yes after hearing no month after month?

8. I read the entire Hunger Games series in a little under a week.  I really enjoyed it, and I'm glad to know there is an author putting something out there that doesn't revolve around vampires or zombies.  I'd like to start working on a summer reading list, but I'm afraid if I make a list, I'm going to have everything read the first two weeks of summer.  Then what would I have?  But feel free to leave suggestions anyway.

Oh, and my memory is completely collapsing.  This year, I called Lil' Bro to wish him a happy 26th birthday (he's 27), and I also wished the STBSIL a happy 32nd birthday (she turned 33).  Is there something wrong with me?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In God ALONE

A hundred different times today I had to remind myself that my hope comes from God alone (Psalm 62:5).  It was especially hard when the doctor's office called.  They reminded me that the blood work was really just preventative.

I found myself saying, "Preventative.  That really can't hurt anything can it?  I mean...it's not like I'm taking any real action."

Then there was that verse again--my hope comes from God alone

Not preventative blood work, Crys.

God.  Alone.

Honestly, I have nothing against this type of procedure or even with seeking medical advice.  I just know that God has told me to wait.  And that's difficult when I can justify the preventative blood work a hundred different ways.

Except, in this case, I'm called to obedience.  And, in this case, obedience means I'm not free to justify things that seem relatively innocuous.

And I'm really trying to be obedient.  Even if it means I'm done completely.

But that doesn't mean I'm not scared.  Or second guessing myself every other minute.  But I'm trying to learn steadfastness in what I know:  "Find rest my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Balancing the Platters and Navigating the Potholes

"I'm not really good at balancing things," I said.

"Well, it really is a balancing act," she responded.

Then I started thinking.  I actually used to be pretty decent at balancing things.  In fact, I was really organized and knew exactly what I needed to accomplish.  I made lists.  I have a task program on my phone (that I used to have on a PDA) that helps me keep all of my stuff in order, and I was awesome at checking things off and adding new responsibilities.

Then, this happened, and I haven't been able to get myself together since.  I've cycled through crazy mess to even crazier pretend-you're-completely-fine-and-nothing-is-wrong-with-you.  And what I want to do is slap myself.

There is so much grief in the world.  I can say that this situation has granted me a sort of relational tie to others who grieve.  I don't have trouble interceding for them because I get the emotions that surround those situations.  But at some point in time, I think I entered Dante's Divine Comedy:  "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."

ALL.  HOPE.  Hope of resolution.  Hope of something different.  Hope in God.  All.  Hope.

Oddly enough, I still had a conversation with another person about the fact that we choose how to live our circumstances.  Ironic, isn't it?  While her situation and my situation were different according to outer subtleties, there was so much internal similarity that I should've stopped and said, "OOOOOOH.  Right.  I totally get it."

I think that's why this prayer is so important for me right now.

And because of my need to recognize my dependence on God for everything, I'm not moving until He says move.  While I know the next months are going to be hard, I'm done allowing this endless pit to consume me.  No more doctors.  No more blood work.  No more agonizing.  Until.  God.  Clearly.  Says.  Yes.

I'll have to choose it again tomorrow.  And probably the morning after that.  But after a while, it will be a habit again--you know, the trusting God with my life thing.  It's not that I expect the road to be less rocky that way; I just expect peace while I navigate the potholes.

(Quick note:  I apologize if I haven't been myself around you.  If I've been less than helpful or I've just been out of it when you tried to talk to me, again, I'm really sorry.  I hope we'll be able to move on from this point.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prayer Monday 5/16


My posts lately have been a little less than sunny.  I hate that, because I don't really feel like that's a well-rounded view of who I am, but there is a certain amount of "contemplative" in my life these days.

That's probably sugar coating it.  Maybe I've spent too long sugar coating it.  Maybe I haven't talked about the things I'm really struggling with because I'm afraid to admit to the people who do read that I am struggling.  It's gotten easier to talk about the loss Favorite and I have faced, and I think it's acceptable to feel grief over that situation.  But I am not just feeling a little bit of grief.  I am in a deep, deep season of grieving.  I am in a season of struggling.  I am in a season of trying to listen for God and feeling like I just can't hear Him.

There is no way to explain this season of grieving accurately.  It's not just for the baby--though, that's certainly a factor.  It's for the way things might have been and for the way they are.  It's for the hurt I see that seems to be unresolved.  It's for the flippant attitudes about suffering and the perceived inability to stand up in a church service and say, "I love Jesus, but this sucks and I'm really hurting." 

In this season, I've laid down relationships and hopes.  And both of those things hurt...particularly when you feel lonely as a result. 

So if you want to pray for me this week, you can pray that my heart would break with the things that also break God's heart.  You can pray that I would just be inexplicably drawn to Him.  I want desperately to be drawn to my knees before Him and to confess honestly what's in my life.  I want that desperation to be met in Him alone, but I'm also ready for the aching to be over.  I need to know that I'm in the center of His will--that my thinking is right and that will lead to right action.  I need for my mouth to stay out of the way.  And, apparently, I need to stop trying to find comfort in something other than Him.

I'm not going to pray because that whole groaning thing?  Yeah, that's me right now.

But tell me what I can pray for you.  Seems I'll be spending plenty of time on my knees anyway.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Appropriate Time

I hate hurtful realities.  It's unfortunate that some of them come through the worst of venues.  I think that's partly due to small town life and partly due to any sort of intimate relationship with other human beings.  And sometimes I think it's a side effect of growing up in the community I also chose to make my home.

Not only do I live here, I work at the same high school from which I graduated and I attend the same church in which I was dedicated in 1980.  I feel a close connection to these places.  I feel that I have an obligation to give back to the places who have made me the person I am.

On this blog, I have the opportunity to skew the facts to favor myself.  I am not interested in that type of writing, but I'm not silly enough to believe it doesn't happen from time to time.  But I think I often fail to share my heart when it comes to my church.

I fear that we've forgotten that one of the major tenets of Christianity is relationship--relationship with Christ and relationship with others.  And that relationship isn't necessarily developed while we sit in a pew or eat potluck together.

When Favorite and I discovered that it would be highly unlikely that we would ever bring children into this world, I was devastated.  I was lost in a relationship with a Savior I trusted, but didn't understand.  I felt betrayed because I couldn't make sense of what was happening.  I didn't know how to talk about it.  I didn't even know if I wanted to talk about it.  I sat in a pew every single Sunday and felt completely lost.  I had little to no connection with many of the families there, and hated that I had to field the same question every Sunday:  "When are YOU guys going to have kids?"

Thankfully, that just wasn't true for Women's Bible study.  It took a few studies to come to that place, but when women started sharing, I felt less lost.  I heard them testify and cry over struggles that were years old, and in the same breath, I heard them explain that trust was certainly a part of the equation.  Week after week, I was humbled by their experiences.  And even more humbled by their willingness to share those experiences--to expose themselves, really.

Without them, I feel like my disconnect would've been much deeper.  They were my connection to a reality of relationship that isn't always pretty and rarely goes as planned.  But they were also the tie that reminded me that comfort comes through presence.

Those same women held me when I lost my child.  They lifted me up in prayer--probably more prayers than I could count.  They wrote me letters when I couldn't finish the last two weeks of study.  And even now, a year later, they still haven't forgotten me.

I love them because they get me.  I love them because I can open up to them and know that I won't be soothed with platitudes.  I love them because when I needed to see Christ, that's exactly what they became.

Many members of my church overlooked me.  They stopped talking to me.  They assumed my silence and lack of hello had to do with a belief that I was better.

I sat in a pew and I was completely invisible.

Then I sat in a chair, and I shared my heart.  And I was surrounded with love.

I wonder if there is ever an inappropriate time for that.

"Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'" --Matthew 25:40, The Message 

Wednesday Hodgepodge 5/11


1.  How many times in your life have you moved house? 

Oh, let's see.

There was the time I moved to U of I.
Then I moved back from U of I.
Then I got married and moved in with my husband.
Then we built a house and sorta viking moved into it.
So...four?

2. What subject would you study if you had a year to devote to it?
 
I think this is like asking an alcoholic about her drink of choice, because there are so many things I would study.  I would love to spend a year in seminary.  I would love to go back to school and spend more time studying literature.  I think I would like to learn a little about film.  Actually, I'd love to take a class about film and literature.  And mythology.  OOh...I'd love another class on mythology.

3. What in this world breaks your heart?
 
Lately, the realization that there are so many hurting people who struggle to understand God and who he is through their grief.  I hurt for them.  Actually, sometimes I think I hurt with them.

4. What is one item that symbolizes the times in which we live? Why?
 
A new sports car:  We have a destination; we need to get there fast, and we need to do it in style.

5. Share a favorite bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan.
 
On a Breast Cancer Awareness Shirt:  SAVE SECOND BASE! 
It took me a second to figure out what the shirt was talking about--then I cracked up. 

6. How do you like your spaghetti? 
 
Without calories or carbs.  Is that an option?
Sadly, I LOVE spaghetti so it's difficult to limit my intake or cut it out completely.

7. What is one piece of advice you would give a recent, or soon to be recent, graduate?
 
If you can accomplish it, get rid of those "I have to do it NOW" feelings.  Take your time.  There is no rush to get through college.  There will be people who tell you to get your degree so you can get your life started, but I hope you realize that THIS IS life.  The here and now.  You aren't wasting anything.  And maybe you'll find a little enjoyment where you are.  And those people who told you to rush will be the same people who ask you when you're getting married, when you're having kids, when you're building a house or when you'll see some grandbabies.  Rarely do they give you the opportunity to savor where you are and what you have.

8. I can't seem to get enough sleep these days.  Anyone in this boat with me?  I've started taking a B vitamin complex because it's just getting ridiculous.

Oh, and does anyone have any idea how much of an advocate you should be for your own health situation?  With my old doctor and my new doctor, I feel like I make myself a pain when I ask questions.  But when I don't ask questions, blood work is lost, questions go unanswered and I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Internet IV

INTERNET WITHDRAWAL...NEED CONNECTION AT HOME...

So you can see that's still a problem.

I can occasionally blog at work, but I try to do it on my lunch hour or after school--and that unfortunately limits me, because I'm in a mad grading frenzy and I'm ready to get out of here when the day is over!

I'm going to Hodgepodge tomorrow and then *hopefully* Favorite will be able to take a break from planting to take care of the internet problems.

Thanks for understanding internet.  When I get you back, we're going to spend some IV time together.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thoughts for Mother's Day


I have a pretty fantastic Mom.  We joke that she doesn't have an ounce of sympathy, and for general aches and pains, that's true.  We've learned that her nursing capabilities have gotten better with age, but she's still a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sort of girl.

She was always an advocate for school--and would often send you even if you felt like garbage, but I think that's mostly due to Lil' Bro's ability to vomit on command.  (I still maintain he didn't attend enough of fourth grade to have passed.)

She believes in working and doing things well.  And I believe that she is the reason I love to read as much as I do.  She always read to us, and my favorite memories of grade school include Book Fairs.  Of course, that's also her fault.  She would go to parent/teacher conferences and then bring home books from the book fair for us.  I might have picked a few out on my own, but it was always better when she did the choosing, because I ended up with books that were outside of my comfort zone (that I always loved).

But I think I really started valuing my mother more when I began my journey to join her club.

She done amazingly well for someone without sympathy.  She gets that Mother's Day is especially hard, but finds ways to make up for it.  She has cried with me over the child I should have had and the grandchild she would've held.  And she's made herself accessible even though, as she's said, she doesn't always understand the situation.

I'm grateful to her for so many reasons.  But this year, I'm most thankful I've had a mom who hasn't made me feel like I had to do this on my own.

I want to honor her, but I love that she doesn't want me to feel tortured in the process.

A few years ago, I read a letter in Dear Abby.  A daughter was writing because she was upset when her mother refused to stand in a church service honoring mothers.  The daughter felt that her mother deserved that honor; however, when she questioned her mother, the mother simply replied, "I do not want to contribute to the hurt many women feel on this day.  So I will remain in my seat."  The daughter believed the response was ridiculous and asked Abby to explain that Mother's Day was a day meant to honor all mothers--and hers deserved the accolades.

Abby's response was firm.  She believed that the mother was correct in her response.  In fact, she praised the mother as a sympathetic soul who understood how difficult days like mother's day are for women who have lost families or who have been unable to start one.

I don't know who that woman was.  I do know that I would write her a thank-you card if I could.  I would tell her how badly it hurts to watch women stand in a select club I keep trying to join with limited success.  I would tell her how much I want to scream that I am a mother, too--just one who never got to hold her baby.  And while there are probably a large cache of people who believe you aren't a mother until you actually give birth, there are several of us who know otherwise.

I just can't believe I'm the only one.  I think there are women who specifically avoid holidays like Mother's Day because they don't know how to process honor and grief in the same breath--single women, infertile women, women who have lost children and/or pregnancies.

I've been blessed.  My Mom makes that easy.  So just one day after "her" day, I'd like to give her a little bit of praise, because I think she's pretty awesome.

Prayer Monday 5/9


I'm so sorry that this isn't getting up until this morning.  I will likely come back and edit my prayer requests later today, but for now, I just wanted to make sure that you all had something to link to if you participate.

We're hoping to get our internet problem fixed by the end of the week. Until then, my blog is rather neglected ;(

This week is going to be fairly crazy at school.  It's the last week for the seniors (which doesn't really affect me), but I also have to make sure to come up with things to keep the sophomores busy for the next 2 weeks or so...  Unfortunately, I'm venturing into new territory because the Title I students never moved this quickly.  Pray that God will inspire my lesson plans!

Link Up!  I have been praying for each of you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lessons in Life and Grammar

I've decided I'm going to stop teaching grammar lessons and start teaching "People are going to think you're stupid if you do this" lessons.

That's all.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hello? But Maybe Not For Long

Ya'll.  I am having some really depressing internet problems from home.  Possibly, I could post from this fancy-schmancy phone I have, but we should probably think on more realistic terms.

I have lots of things to say.  Lots of things about curriculum and feelings and school and feelings and eating and feelings.  I just have a lot of feelings.  And normally?  I don't talk about them, but I consider this my dumping ground (for most things).

Unfortunately, until the internet is working properly, I may be on a feeling hiatus.  Think of me.  Think of me fondly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge 5/4



1.  Have you ever been served breakfast in bed? Do you enjoy that? If someone were serving you breakfast in bed this coming weekend what would you hope to see on the tray?


Breakfast?  No.  My Favorite knows me well and I am notorious for spilling stuff all over myself.  And who wants to wash sheets because she got breakfast in bed?  Not this girl.

2. What is one piece of advice you would give a new mother?

On the days when you haven't slept, the baby has puked and pooped on everything and you can't imagine why you wanted this so badly, remember how blessed you are to hold that child in your arms.

3. When was the last time you wanted to scream? Explain.

Screaming is the one way I deal with my frustration, but I specifically wanted to scream today after I called my doctor's office to get the results of my bloodwork only to find that they haven't attempted to get those results.  And all of this came after they screwed up the bloodwork initially and I had to find a LabCorp in my region so that bloodwork could be retaken.

Is it any wonder I cried?

4. Can you hula hoop?

I think it is unfair that God has given me these hips and an inability to hula hoop.

5. What is something people do in traffic that really bothers you?

Stare.  Seriously, people, I'm no looker so I know you aren't staring because I'm the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen.  And after 2 seconds, I start imagining I've grown the most horrifying zit man has ever seen or that my hair is sticking straight up.  Look at the road, please.

6. What do you do when people don't admit they're wrong?

It depends.  Sometimes I mouth and start feeling all self-righteous because OF COURSE they are wrong and I'm right.  Then there are times that I don't want someone to be mad at me so I will try to make it better even though I'm not wrong.  Weird, right?

7. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word 'fun'?

Water.  I know it's probably bizarre, but I love most things water-related and I can't wait for warm weather and swimming :)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Yesterday, a co-worker (a female so there's no weirdness) and I were discussing weight loss and I shared my weight loss frustration.  She responded, "Well you're a very attractive woman."  Her comment was so sincere and heartfelt and I was completely caught off guard.  But it made me feel so GOOD!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Proud Accomplishment

I sat in the Principal's office with the Principal, the assistant Principal and the chair of the English department.  I was so nervous I could hardly sit still and I wanted every answer I gave them to be the perfect answer.  This was, after all, the job I had always wanted.  (Well, since I had decided to get another degree in English Education.)

Then, the principal asked a question:  "What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment outside of education?"

It startled me.  I stopped, looked up so I could think and then found myself oddly comfortable.

"My relationship with my brothers," I answered.

The conversation that followed chronicled the relationship I have with Big Bro and Lil' Bro, and it was the most honest answer I probably gave that entire interview.

The truth is Ronnie, Timmy and I are pretty close as far as siblings are concerned.  I've been really blessed to call them friends into adulthood even though growing up might've shown a different picture.

We were a typical sibling group.  We fought.  We tried to strong arm one another into doing someone else's chores.  We didn't always want the other in our business.

But as we've grown older, we've realized that the only people with the same set of life experiences happen to have grown up in the same house.  We understand that when friends bail and things fall apart, there are two other people who warrant a phone call.  We get that despite each of our shortcomings, we are family--interconnected.

These days, Ronnie has added a fiancee to the mix.  Tim has added a steady girlfriend and I have contributed a husband.  But each of those people have proven to be complementary to a relationship that functions the way laces function in tennis shoes.

We are tight.  I love them deeply.  I will defend them to the core...but I also know that they will always do the same for me.  And I've never felt so proud.

___________________________________

This was written in response to The Red Dress Club's prompt:  write something about which you're proud of yourself.


Monday, May 2, 2011

SouthBeach Day 15

There were blackberries.  And plain yogurt.  And a small amount of Splenda.  And It. Was. Delicious.

You can think I'm crazy all you want.  Two solid weeks of meat and cheese and veggies and I'm so delighted by a little bit of fruit and the occasional sweet potato that I might pee my pants in anticipation.  I thought I'd give you a quick update, infuse a bit of my pessimism and then find a way to wrap up with post with something that may be slightly interesting.

So here we are.  I am 10 lbs down.  And amazed.  Here's what I was thinking about today:  I hit my threshold.  That 10 lbs is the same 10 lbs I lose at the beginning of every diet.  Sometimes it takes 2 weeks, sometimes it takes 2 months.  But that initial poundage always comes off.

I will become a believer when the weight loss extends beyond those ten pounds.  I'm not really trying to be negative or pessimistic.  I'm just trying to set realistic expectations for myself and part of that is recognizing the freak show that is my metabolism.

But you should also note that I am really working hard to maintain the rules of this diet.  There has been no cheating.  Given some personal circumstances, there probably won't be any cheating for quite some time.

Now, moving on to the more interesting portion of this post:

Crap.  That might have been as interesting as it gets today.

Tomorrow may be another story--especially considering that we are touring another school.  (They consistently make AYP.  They have to be cheating.  I have no idea how that's even possible.)  Then, on to brainstorming for curriculum development.

I'll bet you wish you had my life, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Prayer Monday 5/2


Yesterday, as I read all of the prayer requests on Kelly's Day of Prayer Post, my heart broke for all of the hurt in the world.  It may be something we know deep down, but I think that it is easy to forget how many people are truly suffering due to circumstances in their lives.  I read each request and did my best to take them in my heart and put them in God's hands.  That's what I wanted for so many of these people--for them to know the healing power of being held.

If you take the opportunity to read these requests, I sure hope it won't be a "put my life in perspective" activity for you.  I think you can appreciate the hurt of others and pray for those requests, but that doesn't mean your hurt or pain is minimized.  It simply means there are others who may share your boat.

There are people praying for salvation, those hurt by flooding and tornados, women who have dealt with infertility or lost young children, families dealing with cancer, people desperate to heal the pain of loneliness.  And, unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceburg.  I would certainly never want to minimize those situations or spout spiritual platitudes, but I do honestly pray that when comfort feels like the last thing on earth available, people know without a shadow of doubt they are being held.  I pray for the blessing of hope.

Prayer Requests
*  My family--I know it may sound strange, but our dog is likely in the last stages of his cancer.  My mother has just asked us to pray that he die so she doesn't have to go through putting him down.  Dogs become a part of the family and we've had Wicket for 12 years...so it's just a sad time for them.

*  Victims of the flooding as it continues to rain.  Kate and Sheena, who generally participate here, are certainly being affected as their schools have let out due to the fact that many students just can't get there.  It's likely Sheena may not be back in before the end of the school year.  It's really that bad.  People have lost homes, belongings, and it continues to pour here.  Please pray God's hand would intervene.  And pray this disaster would at least draw us together as a community.

*  My Favorite.

*  I'd appreciate it if you would still pray for my body.  There are many things that are looking up these days, and I finally showed a pretty decent weight loss after two weeks of no carbs.  I'm praying those two weeks were a "hard reset" for my body, and now that I can add back "good" carbs, I will continue to lose weight so everything works correctly.

*  I have some dear friends who are going through a private situation.  Please pray for their comfort and healing.

Father,
So much hurt.  Sometimes I don't know how to pray for people because there is so much hurt in this world.  We want to trust you and depend on You when times are unsure.  I just pray You would draw us.  Give a deep love for You and Your Word.  Pull our hearts to study scripture and know You deeply.  In times like these, help us find the hope and help You have promised.  We will trust You for what You can provide, Lord.  We are believing You.  You are our hope and our salvation.  Whom shall we fear?

Amen.

Link Up.