Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final Post: What I've Learned Here

It's time to say goodbye to this blog. *sniff/sigh*
I thought there could be no better way to go out of this chapter of my life than with what I have learned while here:
  • I have been thrust into the reality of the eternal glory of God like never before. I have grown to understand better why I am here on earth, what purpose I serve and what that has to do with forever. I have grasped the concepts of the resurrected earth and body and it has become a reality in my life, in no way perfecting me, but changing my life forever. I guess you could say I've grown to understand the gospel in it's biggest sense and purpose.
  • I have developed a craving for the taste of truth and have found that I ponder so much more on truth.
  • I have learned the wisdom of unity when it comes to the issues of christian liberties. I'm still learning this one but I feel my time on this blog really stretched me in this area. I've learned that "speaking the truth in love" can very quickly become a declaration of human judgement on my part and that for 99% of the time, I'm probably more wise to keep my eyes on Christ because he may show me later that I was thinking wrongly or, he may show the other person that and I can trust him to move in his time and he is the judge.
  • I have learned to be passionate about life. That my time here is a struggle but also an enjoyment.
  • I have learned that living a active life is healthy and beneficial to my family.
  • I have learned that God wants to guide me intimately and not make me look like some christian woman or group of women I think I should look like.
  • I have learned and am learning the gift of humility and the power it possesses. This one is probably the one I want to learn more of the most.
  • I have learned that people are so important to God. That he longs to use me in anyway to reach the ones around me. That they are the one thing besides our souls that we take with us into eternity.
  • I have learned that God is big, and I am small and that I like it that way.
  • I have grown acutely aware of legalistic thinking and hate it more than ever. I have learned that I have to watch out for it and it's trappings always.
  • I have learned even more what it means to walk by faith especially regarding my children.
  • I have been challenged as a parent and am learning to focus on the truth and let my children also become who God intimately wants them to be.
  • I have learned to have more fun and drink a glass of wine with my husband now and then.
  • I have learned to lighten up when it's time to lighten up, and be serious when it's time to be serious. I guess you could call that being more balanced and not going to extremes to save me or define me.
  • I have learned that God is the great provider of all I need.
  • I have learned that I need to be a better friend and look for ways to encourage my friends.

I think the greatest summary could be said this way: I came here feeling very temporally empty and sad. My dad had died and the world seemed cruel and harsh. The eternal was my passion and obsession to the point that I wished to speed through this life and get it over with. After all, the greatest joys were beyond and my precious savior waits at the end! Yet through this journey God has shown me that though life is a struggle, it is also a gift and a gift to be enjoyed. That if we go to one extreme we could be a fool and waste it but if we go to the other we could be too legalistic to enjoy it. (Ecc chapter 7 I think talks of this around verse 15 or so)

I learned that God did not mean me to hold my nose, cover my ears and shield my eyes through this world anymore than he meant me to run like a fool through it trying and doing anything that came into my selfish fancy. He meant me to be alive, to live, and to live for Him and his eternal purposes and glory. To enjoy the passions of life he has given me in my portion and enjoy them well and with thanks. To be creative and imaginative and smell the roses. Yet to know that my bedrock is secure and my goals are to always be for the eternal kingdom of God. I have learned that I am on a challenging road to balance these the rest of my life. To be wary of those who go to one extreme or the other, and to keep my eyes on Christ and all he has for me in this life and forevermore. That is an adventure I look forward to taking.

I'd like to end with this youtube Lilo's teacher told me about. As we go out as a family into the public school, it's encouraging and also as we take on foster parenting. It's good for everyone though.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reality Blogging Day 2

This will be in bullet point form to save me time and feed my desire for random journaling!:)

  • I admit it, I was dreading today because of all the housework from being sick three days. I tried to sleep in but when no one else does it's like a session of torture dozing.

  • Coffee...blogging....ah, this is better and I am awake after all. Kids are watching cartoons and enjoying that one box of junk cereal they get a paycheck.

  • My head is still clogged as can be and it's been five days now.

  • I'm feeling like Jerry Lewis in "the Stooge" when Dean Martin tries to wake him up and he is having a hard time getting going. "here we go....here we go...here we go..." but it's so hard to get going.

  • My kids seem to be endless pits on Saturday's for food. I think it's because they are home and taking it easy so they think more about food. They keep coming in and asking what they can eat. How will I ever make it through teen years on this budget? I actually bought my first flat of Ramen noodles which I don't believe in just to fill the cracks on days there is no good thing to give them.

  • I get up and go into the kitchen. While feeling better yesterday I managed to grocery shop and make dinner. I did not manage to put away all the groceries and do all the dishes so there was hardly a void anywhere to set my cup of coffee down.

  • I was randomly thinking about manners. I've never understood why we follow something as proper when it came from the mind of one human. Who gets to decide what it culturally appropriate or not? After all, they are different in different places. Yet, so many people become nearly religious about manners. I've somewhat failed my girls in pushing manners too much besides the obvious ones I would send rumors about town with. Really, who decides them? I decided I'm rather rebellious.

  • Pondered the blog a lot again and was annoyed how much it was bothering me. Told myself to not over think like I do everything else. Wondered what was going on in the heads of others. I do that too much.

  • Turned on Johnny Cash and dug into the kitchen. I feel some weird kindred to Johnny Cash. His struggle between conviction and humanity are something I feel in my own skin. Pondered that for a good log while while slicing that 4lb of lunch meat with the slicer I did get to borrow from the neighbor. I was scared to use the thing. I have a fear of blades and getting digits cut off. I think I was rather loudly announcing to my children to not come within three feet of me while I was using the thing. All of a sudden I remembered Johnny Cash's brother got fatally injured using a saw. Suddenly I wondered if I was listening to the wrong music for the job. Swallowed.

  • Had the kids do some help with their rooms and the living room. Princess never fails to be so deadly hungry when it's time to work.

  • Switched around some mattresses to prepare for the foster child bed to be put up in Superkids room. Gathered up all the things the girls needed to sort though in bags and baskets. Vacuumed their room while they played.

  • Watched the lead up stuff to the Kentucky derby (I was born in Louisville) and remembered my girlhood love of horses....wow, they are so beautiful. Did housework in between. The kitchen was still a work in progress.

  • Called my mom to check on her and was on the phone at least an hour. I was saddened by how much she has been put through lately. I ask God to give her relief. It's been such a hard two years. I wonder how she can take all the circumstances. I start to ponder how much I feel her age creeping up on her. I feel the weight of sorrow and burdens on her. I long for happier days for her.

  • Ponder whether over thinking and intense analyzing of life is a side effect of grief. I don't remember thinking so hard about things or feeling so bold about what I think or feel before Dad died. I try to remember what it was like to not be so intense. Was it an innocence that is gone forever now? An ignorance is bliss kind of thing? I ask myself if I'm just now starting to grieve in my own way. Like some hyper sense is kicking in and it's driving me nuts.

  • Consider how the internet brings people so close to each other. Facebook, blogs, twitter. Is it really a good thing we are all so connected? My mother use to say that too many women in one house is a bad thing. The trend of women blogging is so hype right now and I start to wonder if we've all put ourselves in a virtual dwelling. I start to wonder if I want to be just another shouting voice in a crowd or a calm and reflective poet in the corner of the room. I'm leaning toward the latter.

  • Superkid and Lilo go out to play and come in soaking wet. What was that all about? Go to the bathroom and strip please and thank you for the puddles in the house. Don't run the faucet outside as long as you please thank you. Do you know daddy pays money for that water?

  • Daddy... I miss Rick a lot today. Can I just have a bunch of girlfriends as loving and easy to get along with as my husband? I love this man. What will I ever do if I loose him. I think of my mother again. How did that happen? Could I handle that? Where would I ever find such a kindred spirit again. I hope he gets home soon.

  • He calls and says he's done and I tell him I need garbanzo beans and french bread. Oh and I've been craving a beer. Oh, sounds great he says. Nothing heavy I warn, I do have to go to TOPS on Monday and beer is usually on my no, no list.

  • When thinking of something fast and easy for dinner since I still had half a kitchen to work on and was on my second load in the dishwasher, I remembered something. Years ago, my friend Donna and her husband invited Rick and I over for dinner. They had two young kids and we had none at that time. We got there and the dinner was iceberg bag salad w/ garbanzo and kidney beans served with a French Bread loaf w/ butter. For dessert we had gram crackers with icing spread on top. This made a big impression on me. My mother hardly ever had people over but if we did it was a big dinner. I was surprised that this salad was all we were having. I knew they were on a tight budget though and was more and more deeply amazed at their generosity to have us over even though things were tight and they did not have a meatloaf or roast to share. It made a permanent impression on me. I've always tried to remember that. I knew they wanted to be with us because we were friends and that was what made the occasion. So, I repeat that dinner now and then because it is a good memory for me. So, we are having gram crackers and icing for dessert. It's a good reason to use up the two half full containers of icing sitting around. I remind myself of my TOPS again and will be having one little piece.

  • The girls go in their room after dinner and rock out to their loud Christian girlie music. The modular shakes. Their neighbor friend comes to see if they can play and they go outside to play basketball together. The evening is balmy and clear. The green leaves in the nectarine tree are vibrant and the birds sing the sunset into play.

  • Oh, and there was a stray dog in the neighborhood today that the kids played with and begged to keep. I told them he would find his way home and they were sure he would not. I told them to go in and wash their hands with soap and water and not even talk about doggies to me again. I considered taking them up to the chew spot on the house left by Ebony. They would only say that this dog would never do that, he was too sweet.

  • Rick and Superkid take a shower and their silly boyish banter rings through the house. A deep voice and a little boyish voice chatting back and forth. I feel so blessed to have a son.

  • Emma put on shades at dinner (not sure where they came from) and made cool faces. They all got laughing and Rick had to bring them all back to focus again and again.

  • I wonder if I'll ever get everything done, look at the clock which by now says nearly eight and realize the answer is no.

  • I realize that this day is coming to an end. No matter what over thinking I've done, what was accomplished or left for later, what the kids gleaned from me or picked up from me, whether things are perfect or hard, whether we have a day of struggling or gliding by, God is purposeful and He is truth. Though I may be distracted by the tossing waves of humanity and it's drama, he is a rock..steady and firm, dependable and sure. All else seems to swirl around in unpredictable chaos but in the middle is the certainty of His wisdom. It is still and I long to be still and rest in it.

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Intimate Goals From Proverbs 31 Part 2

I'm reviewing this this morning and ready to jot it down. For the first segment of this go here. Before I start I'm curious about something...

Someone mentioned in the last comments that most people read blogs in a google reader now days which does not give a place to post comment. Is that so? Are there readers of SFE who only read in a reader provider? I did not know this since I read blogs at the blog because I love the diversity of the blogs themselves and the pictures they share on their blog. I think I've ranted on this before that readers are like sterile hospital rooms where blogs are warm and inviting like a person's living room. But if you do read in a reader I want to make it easier for readers to share back because really, that is what keeps me bothering here so I would like to provide a link at the end of posts.

Proverbs Goals from Vs. 14:

(vs. 13 is great too, it's about choosing quality fabrics and making clothing but I'm just not there and God and I both know it:)

She is like merchant ships;

She brings her food from afar.

I've jokingly called this my Costco verse before. Just because Costco is far from my house and I always felt like I was "bringing my food from afar" when I went there. Actually, lately the Lord has been convicting me to stay away from Costco because I seem to spend MORE there. But this verse does require me to take time to do homework and be educated on what our family consumes and uses to know the best quality for the best price. To know what a good deal on a certain item is. Even to go to the lengths physically and mentally to get the best for the best price. To consider all factors in travel, time and value and make a wise decision to result again in what will add and not what will take away. This week that meant I researched the sales more and made more little stops rather than heading down to Costco. This is a constantly changing homework project and one thing I need to do more is beef up on my coupons and Money Saving Mom visits. I've been convicted about taking that time again because It's worth it for things we need.

Vs. 15

She rises also while it is still night

And gives food to her household

And portions to her maidens.

I admit it, this is my LEAST FAVORITE VERSE IN PROVERBS 31!!!!

I am not a morning person. Yet, it means I need to make sure I get up early enough to allow my husband and family to start the day the best way they can. Someone recently joked with me that homeschooling was so great because they could sleep in and start when they wanted if they had a long night. This was one of the things about homeschooling that made our lives worse. I am not good at getting up and unless that structure is put on me, I won't do it. So, though I needed to be up helping my husband get ready for his day, making him breakfast and lunch, I used homeschooling freedom as a reason not to help him out. For me, the schedule and demand to be up has been so good for our family. It has also taught our kids that the world runs on a structure of time and you have to be disciplined. Some mom's I know are great at making this happen inside the homeschooling scene, but not me. Even now, I have to be more and more diligent to make sure there is also enough time to send everyone off prepared for the day they will have and not just having food thrown at them as they go out the door. AND, enough time for me to wake up before them to be able to do this JOYFULLY! It requires getting to bed at a good time the night before and for me, who loves to stay up late, that is hard.

This verse practically reminds me of the noble importance of having the job to feed a household in the morning. To help them in that way is no small thing. It is a high calling. I have the privilege of setting the tone for four peoples day! Well, actually five, because it makes a difference in my day too.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

A Bit Of Reality Blogging

I decided today to do something different with the blog for a bit and see what happens. I've wondered lately what direction to take my blogging in. I've wondered if anyone comes by much anymore. The only reason that makes me curious is because it takes time to blog and I honestly do love discussion, sharing and comment conversation. I like to know that I'm not just spewing out into space. Some people don't mind that, I enjoy feedback and banter. There does not seem to be much of it here. I've had a hard time with that. I've asked myself what makes those blogs that have zillions of people reading and responding? What is so interesting about them? And yet, I want to be myself and why does it bother me so much that this blog is not that. I feel like some kid in grade school not in the in crowd. Then I laugh out loud in my own head...because I never was! Welcome home Alicia. Welcome home.

The only reason I long for it is because I do so love to write. I love to think, I love to be real. I love to get things out, hash them over and chat about them. I so enjoy may other blogs but I'm more of the writer than the reader. I've been sorting a lot in my head about the blog and still have not made some final decisions. Some days I want to drop it, another I just want to dive into a new topic of thoughts and hear some of the readers as well. I wonder if my brain is just by itself way out in left field or if I just don't say it quite right so that anyone knows what in the world I'm talking about here. Or, I just have very quiet and blog shy readers. Who knows what the answer is. Oh, and thanks Trish for always coming and ALWAYS chatting with me! I love coming here to hear what anybody chats about and appreciate those of you who back talk me:). I understand that I'm an unpredictable blogger and send some people spinning with all the changes. I'm not a good candidate for consistency at all.LOL

So, for the next few days I'm going to just Reality Blog as I call it. That way, whatever happens I've kept a journal of my life.
Day One...Today.

Today began hard. Princess got hurt and bit her tongue literally (though I would have preferred figuratively) during the school prep time. In her anger she loudly told Lilo not to come in the room and bug her (also Lilo's room). The problem was that I had told Lilo to go get something she needed for school and when she came back out without it I asked her why she did not have it. "She told me I could not come in!" "What?" I asked. Lilo proceeded to tell me what had happened. I was frustrated with Princess and had to tell her, this was not just her room so she had no right to tell Lilo not to come in. Of course this happened way too close to the time to leave. We were in the car frustrated and Princess got grounded from playing with friends this evening because of her snipping at her sister. Then Lilo begins to cry because that meant they could not play basketball like she had wanted. It was a horrible ride to school. On top of their issues I could hardly talk from a still sick throat, my head was a sea of slush still, it was my heavy cramp day, and all the meds I'd taken being in bed sick yesterday had given me a UTI peeking right during the great hour of "get ready for school". I had ran to the cabinet to shove down some dried cranberries and a glass of water during the drama and rushed to my bathroom to down three Advil for my cramps. Of course, it did not kick in at all till after I had dropped them off. And we all know, there is no corner in the known universe reserved for the mom who feels like crap. Nope.
I went home and tried to gather my foggy clogged up brain for grocery shopping. This last pay check took us down to the bottom so I knew I had to be smart on this one and gather all I could for what the budget allowed. As I sat and tried to sort it out I just kept being bothered by the morning and the way it had gone. I hated dropping them off on days like this. I decided it was my decision today where my child was. I felt a burden that Princess needed some time with just me. Not to reward her, but to make sure her love tank was full as I've been in bed sick for two days and she has had no mommy really at all this week. I gathered up my lists and adds, purse and phone and headed out the door.
I went in and told them I needed to sign her out for the rest of the day. They gave me no trouble and called her out of class. She did not seem surprised to see me. I asked her why and she said she thought it was because of this morning. I was glad she affirmed that she needed some time.
We went to Trader Joes first and she wrote down the items and prices while I got what we needed. Total: $42.41
Next we headed to VONS for the specific deals I had found in the add. Foster Farms half chicken breasts for 99 cents a lb. and ground beef for 99 cents a lb. were some exciting sales since meat has been so hard to get at a good price. There was also some pork shoulder for 99 cents a lb which I plan to make into some BBQ pork which they love. That and some dollar bread and pretzels completed our trip. Total: $28.87
Now for Food For Less for pretty much any other non-add items we needed. I was excited to find they had a whole 4lb. lunch meat slab (for lack of a better word) for six bucks! I just need to ask my neighbor to slice it in their meat slicer and then plan to use some for other meals like some breakfast muffin flowers we have not had in a long time. Total: $52.44
Here we stopped for some girl time out at Panda Express. It's one of Princess favorite places. She and I shared a plate of mushroom chicken, noodles, and sweet and sour pork. Her picks. I decided the whole time I was not going to pick topics, or try to talk about life, I was just going to be there for her and let her talk. She talked lighthearted and casual and I think that was just what she needed. Lately there have been so many issues that we seem to only talk when it's about deep hard stuff. A little silly small talk is sometimes important.
Our last stop was for some produce that I had spotted on a Friday, Sat or Sunday only sale. We got a watermelon at 19cents a lb., red bell peppers at 50 cents each, mango's for 33 cents each (bought six to use in strawberry mango breakfast smoothies and maybe some chicken with mango salsa!) ready to go salad in a bag for a buck....cheap thrills, and tons of apples for school lunches. Total $25.06
For a grand total of $148.46... 52 bucks under budget!! That was what I was really hoping for to get those last few things through the next two weeks to make what I have at home work. It seems to be a better way of shopping for me. I get whats cheap, make some obvious meals and then work with the rest by adding one or two ingredients that Rick can pick up on his way home. Or just for another batch of bananas when my monkey of a son eats them all up the first week:)

When we started shopping it was sunny and we were looking for shade to keep the Trader Joes mink cold. By the third store, it was windy and beautiful big dark clouds were blowing in. Once we came out of Albertsons, it was raining! How fun, and it smelt so good! We rented two dollar movies at the machine too which was a fun thrill since we NEVER do that! She walked around sipping her concoction of Dr.Pepper mixed with Sierra Mist that she kept begging me to try out because it was so good. To which I kept making a funny face and tasting it anyway. We had a good time.
We came home and unloaded stuff with just little bit of time before it was time to pick up the other two. It was our secret that she had been home but she made them some butterscotch pudding for after school snack and pretended that I had made it when they got home. :)
So, it's rainy, Rick is due to be done at five and I'll now be heading into the kitchen to make Sloppy Joes, mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, salad and watermelon for dessert. Rick called a bit ago and said "oh, honey, that sounds so good!". I just love when he says that.
We plan to veg out and watch "Hotel For Dogs".
And that...was the day. Started hard but worked it's way back around. There is something about the struggle that makes the good times that much sweeter.