Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas is coming!

     It is a fantabulous day outside, warm with a breeze that is so un-end of October like.  It smells like spring. Oh how I wish that were true, but despite this gorgeous day I know full well what is coming.  Winter. Snow. Ice. Cold. But something good too, Christmas!

     Sometimes I wish Christmas were in February or late January as it would give more time during that cold season to look forward to it instead of having it already done.  But this year like all others in my lifetime Christmas will arrive on the 25th day of December.  I hope there is snow.  I hope the day sparkles like a diamond.  I hope my children remember this Christmas as one where Jesus was real to them. 

      So how do I go about making sure that happens?  Snow I have non control over or we would only have it for a 48 hour period Dec 24-25th.  But the mood in our home, the focus of our celebration, that I can control, that is up to me largely!  I am the MOM, the homemaker, the celebration creator, the gift thinker upper and wrapper, the cookie maker, you get the point.  And I have three little Mom's in the making.  Daughters of the King ready to learn how to best serve Him. 

     This is the beginning of my thinking so I don't have a solid plan yet, just an idea, some thoughts rolling around in my head.  I want us to do a service project, go to soup kitchen, hand out brown bags with meals in them, do something for people who have less than we do.  I want to hostess this year, invite people into our home because relationships are something God is all about.  Perhaps we will purposely observe Advent in our home this year.  I'll need to do some research on that.  The gifts the girls give one another, could they be hand crafted?  They are growing so quickly, how can I meaningfully capture their hearts this year and preserve a bit for the future? 

     Our gift giving will be smaller this year than probably ever before.  Even that though is a way we are honoring Christ, Tim and I.  How can I give from the heart and feel that it is enough?  I plan to bake and make candies and give a platter to a few people on purpose in the hopes that my baking will ease their entertaining duties this year maybe.  I love to make homemade caramels, fudge, pretzels coated in caramel and chocolate, chocolate covered peanutbutter crackers, etc.  By staying home this year those are all possible.

     This year we will have a real Christmas tree and I hope that the adventure of picking one out is something our girls treasure.  I have fond memories of walking through snow to pick out the perfect tree, and of my dad cutting it down.  Hot apple cider, the smell of pine and the cold all mingle in my mind and make me smile. 

    What do you do to make Christmas different than other times of the year?  How do you keep it Christ centered and how have you noticed it with your children?  This is the time of year dedicated to celebrating Christ and yet the holiday (holy day) has been steadily morphing into a secular gifts/family/food/greed (dare I say it?) time of year instead.  How to keep the JOY and the fun while celebrating Christ is my question.   Share with me?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Church in the Kitchen

     Last night was one of those treasured memory making nights with friends.  I could honestly tell you I went to church last night in my own kitchen.  When you think about what church is, worshiping God, enjoying Him, learning about Him, praying to Him and all done in the fellowship of other believers.  Yep. I went to church in my kitchen last night.  

   I also won SKA, aka Dutch Blitz.  Wow. That hasn't happened in my known memory! I won as in got to 100 points first.  Must've been the time of morning we played and the growing sleepiness of the other players. NAH it was all skill! That's what it was!  Somewhere in the evening I also did not win Settlers of Catan, but sure had some great conversation while playing it, not that I could specifically tell you about what right now. 

     The conversation ranged from this weeks push it to the limit attitudes from various kids to Bible translations and who owns them to the Breast Plates of righteousness, and yes I pluralized that on purpose.  The thought just makes me laugh. I've got pictures to prove it! Ya had to be there and I'm so glad I was, that they were.  Here that is.  Here in my kitchen being the church, worshiping with me. Laughing, praying, playing, and talking with me, for that I am so thankful. 

     I'm working on about four hours sleep today and doing ok.  Sometimes we need things other than sleep to fill us up.  I needed last night.  I'm looking forward to the next one and thanking God for the women and friends he's put in my life right now.  God is good. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Get Knocked Down

     But I get up again, you ain't never gonna keep me down. Isn't that how the song goes?  I actually prefer Toby Mac's Get Back Up.  We lose our way but we get back up again.  May be knocked down but not out forever. This is love callin' out to the broken. 

     Call me broken.  Call me longing for what I used to have.  No matter how far my heart may have wandered, no matter how long it's been since I paid attention.   It's never too late to get back up again. 

    Toby Mac is a man of God and anyone who thinks differently hasn't really read his lyrics or listened to the songs the man sings.  His song Hold On is reaffirming God's love and faithfulness.  It reaches my heart. 
His cd Tonight is one of my all time favorites.  And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

     Tim and I are doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Home kit.  Last night we watched week 3.  This is a big week.  It's the week we work on the cash flow plan.  That is a nice name for Budget.  I really do like it better. Instead of a budget being something telling me what I have to do a Cash Flow  Plan is me telling my money where to go and what to do.  I like that. I'm bossy like that.  One of the outstanding notes of the night was his continued emphasis on keep trying, keep working on it, it's not going to work the first time perfectly. 

     That idea of not expecting perfection the first time is a concept that I need to apply to most areas in my life.  Instead of giving up before I start because I can't do it the first time (lazy?), try and keep working at it, it's worth it.  Constant correction, that's what Andy Stanley said.  It's going to take constant correction, and Mr. Ramsey just emphasized that again.

 In about 90 days you'll start getting the hang of it. Three MONTHS to get it right?! Are you kidding?!?!  Ok.  Taking a deep breath I've already done it sort of for the last couple.  This month still counts as month one, but hey, I've already had some practice, that's a good thing!  Then he said that even then it's going to need doing every month.  I could feel a chill go up my spine. Every month, forever?  Uh, I'm not good at forever like that.  There are only two things I've done long term, love my husband and stay married to him, and love my kids. LOL  Nope, that's not three, that's two. 

I've been given the tools to do this well.  I've got the dvd series, the workbooks, the support of good friends, and even the online tools from Mr. Ramsey for 91 days, which is the length of the FPU class.  I've got the tools to do other things well also. I've got the Bible.  I've got school curriculum.  I've got friends and spousal support. 

I didn't get this far from God, this far from faith in a week.  I'm not going to get back in a week.  It was deliberate steps that took me away, my decisions to not read His word, to not pray.  It's going to take little decisions to get back.  Reading the Bible daily and thinking on it, not just reading it to check it off my list.  Praying for my children daily the way I always wanted to, why on earth did I stop?! 

I know perfectly well we can't cover a years curriculum in a month, but it's laid out intentionally to cover it in a year.  If we do a day at a time, week after week we will conquer it and the girls WILL have an excellent education.  Lesson by lesson, day by day, month after month will turn into school year after school year.  I can do this and do it well. 

I'm not even going to tackle my health right now. I'm babystepping in a few areas already and need to keep my balance.  Put too much before me and I crumple.   As my heart turns back towards God and I babystep towards Him I'm going to have faith that the other areas in my life will follow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There is no Arizona

There are some friends who when you are around them you are a better person.  They are the iron that sharpens the iron of you.  They encourage, strengthen, and bless your life.  I have been blessed with a couple of those friends.  Even more blessed to have one live just around the corner from me.  

Homeschooling can be lonely.  Like anything worth doing in life it's hard, and it takes courage and often I need encouragement.  When you are surrounded by likeminded people it makes it that much easier to do.  When those likeminded people think in a different way than you do they help you see things from a different perspective and gain insight that you wouldn't find on your own. 

In the past six years my friend has challenged my by her own actions to get outside and take my kids sledding, skiing, iceskating, or just for a walk in the snow.  Our families have gone together and sometimes we've gone without the husbands.  Sometimes it's been with other families.  We've sat on the beach, walked through the woods,  skiied over trails, talked around campfires, played together, laughed together, lived. 

I know that what I have here is something special.  It's not everywhere.  Game nights filled with games, laughter, good food and prayer.  It's been my church.  For the last three years especially this group of homeschooling mom's has been my church. 

Tonight my world shifted. My dear friend is moving, soon, and far away, probably to Arizona.  Yeah, this is all about me right now.  Later I'll be able to be happy for them, excited even for the new adventure but tonight I just cry.  If I'd known this was our last summer I'd have made more of an effort to be with them more.  If I'd only known.  Hindsight is 20/20 I know.  I feel robbed and ache for this to not be true.  I ache for my children.  Her kids are some of their best friends. 

 I don't want to fathom a future where I don't get to watch those children grow into adults.  I don't want my children to not have these children in their future.  God is in control, He works all things together for good. I know that. But tonight I'm going to cry and it sounds a lot like a country song.  There is no Arizona. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Can People Change?

Can I change? This is on my mind right now.  As I mentioned in my last blog I read through a devotion journal and saw that my struggles then are still my struggles now.  So my thoughts have turned to wondering if what I've believed to be true really is.  That God changes people.  Does he? Always? 

Because from where I'm sitting, I'm sincerely wanting to change, and have been for 10 years.  The same desire to change the same things.  Working on it, praying about it, feeling like there is hope and then I turn around and look and nope, not really a change.  Same issues. 

So is it me?  Is there something wrong with me? I don't have enough faith, or I don't want it enough?  Is it God.  Does he really promise to change people? 

Right now I keep flipping mentally back to Paul.  His thorn in the side. God didn't remove it from him. Whether that thorn was physical, or spiritual is highly debated.  Regardless, he wanted it gone and God didn't move it.  

If these things that I want to change, and they are things that would be good change, haven't changed after so long trying will they ever?    If you've read this blog at all you can probably name them.  The big 3.  My handling of money, my weight and my diligence with teaching the girls.  

Is there hope?  Right now I just don't know.  I'm swinging back and forth between my upbringing which says, "Of course! There is always hope! God changes hearts." and my reality right now which is, "Nope.  I don't see evidence for me that I can or will change permanently." 

Not a fun place to be but here I sit.  Here I think.  I want my faith that I can change, back.  But I don't want an empty, hollow faith in that, I want proof, real life evidence that I can and will change.  It's the middle of the day so it's not a midnight mood.  Hormones probably are playing a part, they always are, aren't they?  Nonetheless this is where I am. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dr. Pepper is not my friend.

I do hope this is not going to become a habit!  This blogging when I should be sleeping.  I love to sleep.  This afternoon while eating a jalapeno popper I needed a drink so I grabbed a Dr. Pepper, purchased for our entertaining today and because I really really like Dr. Pepper!  If I had thought to look at the time perhaps I would've grabbed a rootbeer or even a glass of water. That would've been wise!  But I didn't. I popped the top, enjoyed the fizz and drank a fully caffeinated Dr. Pepper at around 6 p.m. tonight. Or last night rather since it's past midnight here.

At eleven o'clock or so tonight I did turn my light off.  I said goodnight to my chatting buddy. Then as soon as my eyelids met my brain began to race.  When is the last time you wrote down your spending?  This is something I've been doing for a month and plan to continue ad naseum.  It doesn't matter right now!  I told myself but I disagreed. It does! You can't even remember the last time and it's been a spendy couple of days.  Your purse is right there with notebook, just grab it and jot them down.  Like it's that easy.  Like I remember exact amounts or have all the receipts IN my purse.  I squish the thoughts and press my eyes tightly shut. 

My thoughts twist to the week ahead.  Swimming tomorrow, do I run or exercise or read my book and sit in the hot tub while the littlest is busy?  Then Wed. I'm off too, yippee! a mini-date with dh.  Ugh, but then four days in a row of work!  Ya know, you might only work 4 ours next Saturday, not a whole day. This is enough for me to grab my calendar and attempt to read in the non-existant moonlight if that is true.  I can't see so I flip the light on.  Bummer. Nope, full shift on Sat. but a 4 hour shift on Sun! That's something! 

My eyes glance at my Bible. The one with my maiden name on the front.  I could read it, but why?  I notice the green notebook behind it.  It has quiet time notes in it from 2007.  I flip through a few pages and read.  I could've written them today, or yesterday, or six months ago, or a year ago.  My fear is that they will all still be true that same amount of time ahead.  So I voice my frustration to God. How come I haven't changed?  Have I even a little?  WHY are these struggles still my struggles? Why haven't you made me perfect yet. Errrr, or at least made me better?  It feels so hopeless. 

I don't really hear an answer so I flip the notebook and notice the list at the end.  A list of shared goals with my chatting buddy I was talking with earlier tonight.  I think to myself that I will talk about those with her tomorrow.  Our friendship bloomed from the desire for accountability to work on the issues that are still issues today.   Five minutes have passed and suddenly I just don't feel sleepy.  I remember my original thought of jotting down spending amounts. 

So I grab my purse and slip out to the living room.  Then I decide I want the workbook we're going through.  I make photocopies of the workbook pages so I can use them to see in front of me.  The perfectionist in me wants the pages to stay pristine and white, no pencil marks!  But I also want paper and pencil in front of me, doing stuff on the computer is great for somethings but for finances, I need both!! The computer AND pencil and paper. 

So here I sit now.  I've filled out the Quickie Budget somewhat.  I'll go over it with Tim tomorrow.  Oh, and I did go ahead and fill in the spending on the pages of my notebook for that purpose.  I feel better now and even a little sleepy.  Perhaps now that I've done these little things my brain will let me sleep.  Perhaps tomorrow there will be progress.  Goodnight!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving Day

It's eleven o'clock and I'm perched on my new to me favorite stool just like my grandma has in her kitchen.  The third pumpkin pie is in the oven, strike that, the fourth pumpkin pie is in the oven and the pumpkin cake is waiting for it's turn. It occurs to me that I might be able to scoosh the 9X13 pan in alongside the pizza pan.  Since selling pampered chef I don't even own any metal cookie sheets and times like this make me wish I did!  The cake will take an hour to bake and this Cinderella would love to kiss the pumpkin goodbye before midnight!

I can't really whine.  I'm chatting via instant messenger with my girlfriend.  I don't have to work tomorrow and my sweet husband and kids DID work on cleaning up the house while I was at work today.  I have the cherry cheesecake ready to go, the pecan pie is done too.  Tomorrow I will make corn casserole and let beans simmer while I bake a squash.  Then at noon extra people will arrive at our house to eat a turkey dinner. 

There's still work to be done, but to be honest I'm tired and just can't get up the juice to do it.  When the cake is in the oven I may work on cleaning and slicing veggies. OH, and I do want to make the dip tonight so it's full of flavor for tomorrow.  I adore Epicure Selections and their spice blends.  I think I'm making Smokey Bacon Ranch for tomorrow's dining pleasure.  And the pumpkin pie plethora is seasoned with their pumpkin pie spice.  The cherry cheesecake has their real vanilla.  If I didn't love my rep I'd sell it!

My exhausted husband is already asleep, fully dressed, on top of the covers "listening" to his audio book on my ipod.  He works SO hard for us.  I love that about him. 

My oldest was making the pumpkin pie this evening. Did I already tell you this?  She's getting so grown up and just melts me.  She loves to make pumpkin custard aka pumpkin pie without a shell.  So she mixes her magic and mutters at me about making her use a spice blend instead of measuring the different spices herself. I promise to take the blame if it tastes bad and she can have the credit if it takes good.  But fifteen minutes into the baking process (which according to the recipe is nearly finished.  The recipe lies!) I notice two cans of evaporated milk, unopened.  "Oops", she giggles. 

Superdad races with her to Walmart making it with 20 minutes to spare before closing time and they purchase new pie shells.  She starts the process again and then after mixing it decides she's too tired to finish.  So she is now in her room.  But when I go downstairs a few minutes later is she sleeping? Nooooo, she's reading a book!! Turkey!  

OH JOY!  The pan does fit beside the pizza pan!!! Bedtime has just skipped ahead by 45 minutes WHOOHOOOOOO!!!!   I better get going on the dip.  I hope that your day whether tomorrow is Thanksgiving for you or just another Monday, is a good day with lots to be thankful for. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

There are many things in life as a mom that I will be happy if I never encounter.  Lice, Worms, Broken Bones, I could go on but I'll stop now.  One of those things I can cross off the list.  It's been confirmed today that my youngest one has Pinworms.  May I vomit now? 

She's had redness and soreness which I chalked up to not wiping well and a possible UTI.  The test came back clear on that and teh ER doc decided to test for pinworms.  So I did.  EWWW! I refuse to do the flashlight in the middle of the night and check the bum thing.  No way, no how! 

So tonight, my family is being de-wormed and tomorrow I will scrub the house and wash the sheets again.  Everyone will shower first thing in the morning.  Everyone will wear clean underwear, EVERY DAY! For at least the next ten days. 

Yep. Some things in life I can die happy without experiencing.