August 28, 2015

30 Days of Nothing is BACK


That's right.  If you've been following this blog for a while (read = years) you might recall that we enjoy a good challenge now and again.  And for a while, we did an annual "30 Days of Nothing".  Well, we decided it was time....

For the month of September, we're going to try our hardest to make it through 30 days without spending.  GULP!

Since there's no sense in recreating the wheel, you can read re-caps of rules and what we've done in the past HERE

You can also get additional rules and info HERE

That is of course assuming you're interested in knowing what it's about, what good it does, and what the stinkin' point is of the torture.

I can tell you this - it's hard.  It should be easier than it is, but you will be amazed at what a consumer driven society we live in when you all of a sudden try to stop spending.

Also?  Since we're not spending, we use this time to try another challenge called "Empty the Pantry".  We, like many, buy TONS of groceries that either eventually out-date the Olsen Twins or never get found/seen/heard from again.  OK, we throw them out.  Isn't that the worst feeling?  Throwing out food you bought but never ate?

So during this Challenge of not spending, we add in trying to cook/make/eat up all that food just sitting in there.  We get creative, we make new recipes, and we try to just make do.

The horror!  (wink wink)

So, Tuesday is the big day and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit dreading it.  Shows you how much I still love my Chipotle.  Ahem.

Wanna play along?  Leave a note in the comments.  I'd love to know!

I'll be blogging throughout with the "on scene" excitement of what 30 days of Nothing actually looks like for a family of four.

S.O.S.



June 26, 2015

Love

Caring when you're angry

My news feed and Facebook wall today has probably looked a lot like yours. Opinions, articles, celebrations and lamentations.

To be honest, it all made me feel wonky inside.  Like Swiss cheese, but not as holy. Yes, that’s a pun.  It was kind of like being drowned in my own life lemonade, the one I’ve been trying so hard to make while I watch our world (and yes, even my own life) change, flux, and shift. 

It grieved me to see such a great divide amongst my family, friends, and even strangers. Those on both sides of the debate.  I read a wide range of articles and blogs on the subject, and found the comments were littered with hate, fear-mongering, threatening slander, name calling, and more – from both sides.  Sad.

I read rants admonishing others who didn’t share their viewpoint that they would be “un-friending” those whose ideas and opinions did not line up with their own.  From both sides.

One camp hurt, disappointed, discouraged, angry, saddened, indignant.  Another camp moved, happy, elated, relieved, triumphant, and yes, also angry and saddened at those who didn’t share in their joy.

You don’t need my opinion.  But I’m giving it anyway.  Maybe if I purge some of this urgency, I can stop feeling like Swiss and a little more like a strong sharp cheddar.  I don't know.  Whatever the heck.  Stay with me...

Here’s the deal: I’m a woman who loves Jesus and is trying to live according to His call.  Which, by the way, is not a loud shout-out to my own good deeds or perfectly clean living, but rather a humble admission to how broken and fallible I am, and how much His perfect grace has become my source of strength.  That’s the truth right there.  Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…

But that’s not what I want to talk about anyhow. 

What I want to say is this: whether you or I agree with the decision made today really has no relevance.  That is to say, it doesn’t change the bottom line anyway.  It's been decided.  It is what is.  There you have it.

To see all kinds of vitriol plastered over the web or even to stand on the side of hate and disdain for one another - what does that do but foster more anger, frustration, hatred and mistrust?  Why does having a difference of opinion somehow equal drawing lines in the sand against each other.  How is one version of hatred better than the other?  We sometimes forget that our opinions and beliefs, though comfortable for us, are not the only ones out there.  (Looking at you…everybody

I was thinking about that line in the sand that Jesus drew.  (John 8:1-11)  Are we throwing stones?

The reality is, I believe there is a greater Truth – a universal Truth of right and wrong - and it doesn’t change just because any one of us will it to.  It was and is and is to come.  God is not on a lunch break.  Ok?  If you believe in biblical truth then you and I agree that this is actually a part of the greater story.  So why are we wasting our time fighting and blaming and hating others when we should be doing exactly the opposite?

I know some of you are heartbroken today.  Use that heartbreak for good.  Love each other.  Extend your love.  Shine your light.  Let others see Him.  Care for others, love on them, even when you’re hurting. 

We are called to love.  Love ALWAYS has and ALWAYS will reign, because from His very core and being – God is love.   It’s WHO He is, quite literally. It’s His concept.  His plan.  His entire motivation for sending Jesus.  Love already won. Long ago. 

Friends, we can believe differently and still love.  We can completely disagree about theology and yet, still love one another.  We can stand on opposite sides of many different fences – but we can choose love.

Jesus kept some pretty interesting company and it took many of them decades to understand what He came to do.  He loved them anyway.  I don’t think anyone missed His love.  How could they?  He lavished it on those he met, those he walked with, and even those who killed him.  And, by the way, He lavished it on you and me.  Just as we are, today, right now. 

Who are we to judge?  Stick to the story God is telling in your life.  Get to work on you.  Stop running around yelling that the sky is falling.  It’s been falling for…well, forever.  It’s actually old news.  Let’s you and I get to work on us.  Let’s remove that plank from our eye and try to restore some true sight.  I’m personally riddled with sin.  I’m not picking out any well-polished stones to hurl in any direction.

You cannot control others.  You can control yourself, your responses, your choices, and your direction.  And you can choose to love with respect.  No matter what.  That doesn’t mean you have to agree on whatever about whatever.  That doesn’t mean you don’t feel angry or spent or tired or depleted.  On either side.

To be clear, it also doesn’t mean you need to compromise your convictions in your own life or condone things which go against your faith.  You can have your opinion and love at the same time.  It simply means we choose love because He first loved us.  And not one of us deserved it.  Amen.

So when we find ourselves in dialogue about these and other sensitive issues in the coming weeks and months – do me a favor and lean heavily on love and the mountains of grace that have been so generously and graciously poured out for you.

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear… 1 John 4:18

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love… 1 Corinthians 13:13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

Grieving has a place here for some.  I wish both sides understood that with kindness, gentleness, and respect.  But we’re called to something much bigger and much better and so much more lasting…

Our job is to love, dear friends. 

Just as we are, today, right now.

June 23, 2015

Missing home

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written anything on my little corner of the web.  My blog.  My writing space.  I think about it all the time, and yet when I’m sitting in front of the keyboard, I feel at a loss. 

How do you pick up and start again?  Where do you start?  Do you re-cap?  Do you explain?  Do you just move on and forge ahead and forget the past and just…write?

Actually…I’m not sure, but I still feel I have things to talk about.  Even if it’s my kids.  Or AB.  Or food pics.  Or whatever.  What’s on my mind/heart/etc. 

I know the blogging world sort of shifted a few years back – over to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and our faithful blogging lives took the new shape of 30 words or less with a picture.  Frankly, I’m disenchanted with all of that.  It can be a great tool to reconnect with long distance friends and family, but it doesn’t always tell the truth, does it?

Facebook is a snapshot of many of the best moments.  The carefully cropped, photo edited, color enhanced, swirly font textured images that conjure up the life most of us wish we actually had.  Let me ask you; do you go through your photos and post the blurry, funky, crazy hair, non-smiling images you find?  No.  We don’t do that.  Why would we?  We post the picture that gives our double chin the most advantageous angle.  See me THIS way, we tell them when we hit “post”.  See my kids are happy.  See we are smiling.  See all is well.  See we are on another adventure in life.  See we are deliriously happy and love each other and never fight or make messes or take each other for granted. Or whatever.  No judgment, I’m guilty.

And I suspect many of us can relate.  There’s more.  So much more behind the scenes.  So much more than 30 words or a picture can convey.  So much that has happened to each of us over the years to shape us and crush us and form us and here we are…posting a selfie on Facebook and saying how much we love sushi or this good book or this store we found.  And it has a place.  It does.  The sushi picture on Facebook.  Sure.  I love sushi…who doesn’t?

I think the point I’m making is that I’ve got stuff, man.  And Facebook was fun.  Is fun.  Sometimes.  When it doesn’t consume hours of my day.  A lot of my time has been eaten up by status updates and as great as that has been – I do long to actually connect with people through writing.  And I’m way too long-winded for 30 words or less or whatever the heck it is. 

So that’s the deal.  And maybe I’m back.  Or maybe I’ll write this and get sucked into life and laundry and forget to write again.  Who knows.  But I’m willing to try…

Here’s my peace offering for being gone so long.  The unedited, unflattering picture I have not posted.  (ahem…until now)

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Ugh.  I don’t even know what made me do that to myself.  What am I all “ahhhhh” about?  Can’t recall. 

Ok but seriously, how about one of me and the kids that’s not all…whatever that is up there…but I still have the hat on?

Aren’t they HUGE?  Just don’t even get me started. 

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August 12, 2014

Living life...

I spent the early part of my childhood growing up in a house that was about 1100 square feet.  We had a massive yard with tons of fruit trees.  Tangerines, cherries, and even lemons and limes that we spent summers plucking and eating on warm grass with all of the neighbor kids.  Tucked in at the end of a cul-de-sac and only minutes from a park and our elementary school.  And all of us neighbor kids went to that same school together, because of course - what else was there?

Northern California in the 70’s.  Brown velvety couches and brass knick knacks.  White Corelle dishes with mustard trim. Barbra Streisand records and a vacuum cleaner with a huge inflatable bag.  Thin, tall back vinyl kitchen chairs and wood paneled walls.  Formica counter-tops.  Shutters in the kitchen.  Green lined linoleum.  Peach bathroom accessories.  A Doughboy swimming pool. 

Me and Deany in the Doughboy Pool
(that’s my aunt and I floating in the “doughboy”, circa ‘80, I’m guessing. And yes, those are horrendous weeds in the corner surrounded by a dilapidated fence. who knew?)

My dad worked three jobs and after dinner while the evening news was on, would sometimes let me “beauty shop” on his hair and didn’t even complain when I added makeup as he dozed off in his recliner.  My mom cooked all kinds of awesome and was hopelessly devoted to the soap opera “All My Children”, and had stuffed animal parades with me and poured peroxide on my scrapes and cuts.  I watched cartoons on Saturday mornings until The Muppet Show came on at 11 and by then I had lost interest.  My brother and I played Star Wars anywhere, any time.  I had an entire photo album full of stickers that I was collecting.  Some were scratch and sniff and except for dill pickle, I thought they all smelled basically the same.  But delicious.

Do you know what?  Life was good.  I mean, maybe it was just ok – but that’s not what I recall.  I remember that it was good.  Tiny house, lots of love, weeds in the yard, good food, questionable d├ęcor, my sticker collection, a lot of laughter.  Life happened in that tiny little house on the end of that cul-de-sac.  My life.  That’s what I remember.  Recently my Mom reminded me that it was just a rental house and that we only lived there for 4 years.  My mind was blown.  How could that be?  It felt like years and years.  And a rental?  It wasn’t even really “ours”?

AB and I recently moved.  We spent the last ten years in a small 3 bedroom home.  I’d be lying to you if I said we felt “content” there.  I think we spent the majority of those ten years seeing the flaws.  Don’t get me wrong, we lived a lot (A LOT) of life in that house.  Ten out of 14 years of marriage and two kids kinda life.  Two adoptions.  Lots of friends and family dined there, slept there, and made us laugh there.  Lots of tears, lots of love, and lots of life happened. 

But we regretted that there was carpet everywhere.  I mean, everywhere.  Friends.  Very stained and old carpet.  We lamented that there were no closets, except the little teeny tiny ones in each of the bedrooms.  “Don’t mind our vacuum over there in the corner of the kitchen – it has no home.”  We cringed at the cracks, scrapes and flaws all over the walls from various pets and who are we kidding – from children.  I whined relentlessly over the lack of storage space.  Anton rolled his eyes in complete give-over to the landscaping that never was.  We housed a car in the garage maybe three non-consecutive years of the ten that we lived there.   My “office” was located smack in the middle of the living room.  Amidst the noise and the crazy and the TV and the dog.  Laundry lived in the hallway outside the small utility room.  There were four drawers in the kitchen and 5 cabinets.  We crammed everything we owned into every place we possibly could for ten years and debated for almost all of them about when would be the right time to do as the Jefferson’s had and start “movin’ on up”.

I didn’t like my home.  I loved it because it had become an emotional space for me, but I didn’t like it.  I wasn’t proud of it.  I was sort of embarrassed by it.  Yes, we had friends over – but it was always a source of anxiety for me.  No matter how much we tried to improve our little corner of Texas, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was still so very lacking.  I couldn’t catch up.  It was home for us, but I didn’t want anyone in it.  Not really.  I worried and fretted over how unpolished and unsophisticated it must seem in our otherwise affluent county.  (psst….dumb)

Eventually, we just felt it was time and so we began an intentional process of selling and buying.  We got lucky and found a slightly bigger house that seemed to suit us and had more than 5 cabinets in the kitchen.  Despite it was the first one we looked at.  We looked at others – but came back again and again until we knew it was right.  This was our next house.

But we still needed to sell.  And so, our little home – the one I was so tired of, so critical of – was grabbed up and bought in less than one day.  And with that, a wall of sadness hit me like a train.  We had a month to say goodbye and box up all that we owned.  It rushed by. 

When the moving van was packed and the every last item had been taken out, I walked room to room alone.  Friends, I won’t bother lying – I cried like a big baby.  I cried ugly.  I stood in the hallway facing the wall that had separated the rooms of my children.  The ones I had painted and decorated and waited for them in.  The ones I had rocked them and held them and comforted them in.  The wall that was pink and green on one side and red, white, and blue on the other. 

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Why bother lying?  I hugged that wall.  And I whispered “thank you” to those rooms and to that tiny house and tears poured down my face.  Until AB came in, hugged me, and gently prodded me outside and into the car.  I was remembering and re-living some of our most precious moments inside those walls.  I don’t mind admitting – I was really grieved to be moving.  Which surprised no one more than me.  It felt almost like I was leaving a part of my heart there.  Certainly, I was leaving a part of my life.  A season had come and gone and saying good-bye was so much harder than I had thought it would be.  Had I appreciated all the good that house had provided?  All the comfort and safety and memories and experiences?  All the growing up…

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We’ve now been in our “new to us” home for about 5 weeks.   Connecting with the space has been slow for me.  I’m sure many of you have been there.  It wasn’t love at first sight.  “Like”, sure…yes…I mean, I have oodles of closet space.  “Love”, not yet.  Not enough memories made here just yet.  And actually, I feel comforted by the warming up that I’m having to do.  I had day-dreamed about a bigger, better, more fantastic house for ten years.  And now that I’m in it, I sometimes sit around day-dreaming about that little old house across town…and miss it.

Many times lately I’ve had to stop myself when I could feel the claws of imperfection creeping in.  We’ve already put a lot of work into the house.  Lots of upgrading that simply had to be done.  But the truth is, this house is not perfect and will never be.  I don’t want to spend ten years wishing it were different.  I want to enjoy it, accept it, and live life in it.  I don’t want to keep up with my county.  I want to live real life.  The messy kind that sometimes leaves dings in the walls or spills on the carpet but makes up for it in hugs and kisses and encouragement and fun.

I want to eat good food, watch TV, swim in the blow up pool, watch while my kids grow and change and collect things and scrape knees.  I want to live life here and live it well.  I want friends and family to come and laugh with us, cry with us, and enjoy warmth – not perfection.  Not illusion.  Real life.  Where everything doesn’t matchy match and not every room is complete, and paperwork and projects are stacked up in the corners and the vacuum may or may not be out, and mistakes are made and forgiveness is heaped on in loving measure and grace is in abundance.

Brown velvety couches and brass knick knacks. White Corelle dishes with mustard trim. Barbra Streisand records and a vacuum cleaner that has a “parking spot”.  Whatever it is that makes your house a home.  Let go of the unreasonable expectations around you (I’m looking at you, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) and live your messy life.  Your imperfect life, in your imperfect house, with your imperfect favorite people.  Real life.

I guarantee, you will look back and cry ugly over how beautiful it all was.