Thursday, July 24, 2014

Forgiveness

As I have led my Super Random, God Filled, Crazy People this summer I have pushed. I have pushed them to step out of their comfort zone, become leaders, pray out loud, learn to ask for help, work together, etc.

This week my daughter taught on forgiveness. She had a great start to her lesson. She worked alone and she was prepared...for a very short lesson! It was GREAT to see other kids step in, take the lesson a step farther and see where God led them! I was so awed!

And the lesson that could have gone no where fast......kids from the group quoted some of it in facebook! So it actually hit home!

You know their take away from the lesson?

Forgiveness is like a cut, it will heal, but it will leave a scar. Sometimes that makes you stronger, if you let it. THEN they realized that it is only that way from a human standpoint, from GOD'S standpoint, it can heal completely!

WOW! I'm impressed!

A few were honest and admitted they struggled with forgiveness. One said he struggled with hurt feelings when forgiveness was given to him but trust didn't follow. The whole leaving a scar and needing time to heal thing hit home with him. It was GREAT to see God take a small lesson and make it impactful!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Many thoughts, little time!

WOW! It has been a LONG time since I wrote anything!

I have been busy living life and running my business. This week I am involved in the Build Your Bundle Homeschooling Book sale (https://www.buildyourbundle.net/affiliates/idevaffiliate.php?id=422) so I have been anticipating TONS of business. Well, it isn't so much a flood, but a tiny trickle so far! Here is hoping though. It is only day two!

I sit here knowing the sun is shining the kids are happy with Grandma, the house is a mess and I went to a meeting this morning to learn how to use Twitter and learned nothing about it, but did get some good insight and networking time with other business owners.

I am learning that there is TONS involved with owning and operating a business that I never considered and I have struggled to feel like I needed to be an expert at it all and I am learning that it is OKAY to not be perfect in every area, as long as you are able to delegate to someone qualified. Sigh, now to find qualified people! :-)

I start a new chapter in life here soon, homeschooling. Yep, we took the leap and are going to homeschool some of the kids. The oldest will stay in school, but the Freshman and 3rd grader will come home and my 4 year old will start a Pre-K/K combo this year. We will see how it goes! I am revved up and they are excited but when reality sets in it may be a different story! I am going to do a post about it once we get going on that!

Have an amazing day if you took the time to read this and let me know you are out there!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Painful Lessons

A few weeks ago for her birthday I got my oldest daughter a hand-fed, peach-faced, love bird. She was BEAUTIFUL!



I really wasn't convinced my daughter would like having a bird around. I thought it might be like all the other animals we had tried in the past (guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, even our horses!) and it would be a cool novelty for the first few days then the reality of taking care of it would set in and she would be kinda ignoring the bird, etc. I was fully prepared to have to take over the care and keeping of the bird myself.

From the day she arrived and ended up being named Kuruka (Swahili for fly), the bird and Rebekah were best friends. If Rebekah was home, the bird was on her shoulder or with her in some way. They bonded in a way I had never seen.

Yes, you can see what is to come. The child who always left the bird with me when she went in the laundry room with the dogs, one time forgot, then played with the dog, knocking the bird off her shoulder, dog thought bird was toy, grabbed bird. Bird died. Pain hit! HARD! Both for my daughter and I.

For starters we had both bonded with the bird. Second, I hurt because I got my daughter something, in the best of intentions, to bring her joy. Instead it brought her heartache and pain. I felt like I had failed as a Mom in not shielding her and protecting her from that pain. I feel guilty for not reminding her to keep the bird and the dog apart. I felt guilty for not knowing how to keep the bird from dying in my hands a few minutes later.

We are still working through the pain in this house, but I am also seeing the lessons. When tough times hit in life, you can close your eyes and plow ahead and chose to never remember them again, you can choose to wallow in them, constantly returning and getting sucked back into that pain and not letting go of it, or you can choose to learn the lessons that every trail can teach. Rebekah is learning that in the future she will be a lot more careful with her actions. She learned that she LOVED having a bird and she wants another one (which is ordered and will be hatching in the next couple of weeks and arriving here in another 9 weeks or after that). I am learning that as much as I wanted to shield my child from such pain, I can't, but I can help her through it. I can help her learn not to let the pain ruin her life. I can encourage her that even though it hurts, the love is worth it (being widowed, I can identify with that in the scary step of loving again and remarrying!) and that life is for living, not trying to hide from the pain the way Kuruka hid under Rebekah's pony tail!














And though it is hard and painful and we can't see ever loving another bird quite like we did Kuruka, we are learning to stretch our wings, cock our heads, perch on a high spot and examine our world with the wonder and awe of a young bird. Sometimes the perch isn't the safest or the most comfortable, but it is still worth trying! So we are going to get another bird, open our hearts to love, let others in and stop trying to wrap up in bubble wrap for protection!


Have you experienced pain in your life? Has your instinct been to wallow in it, hide from it, plow through it? How did that one work for you?

God didn't call us to protect ourselves from all hurt and pain. He called us to open ourselves to His love and sharing it. It may not be comfortable but that is what we are going to do!

So as we look at pictures and remember, we will also look forward with hope that we will have another amazing bird in the future and until then, we are going to choose to wallow in God's love to comfort the pain. Who wants to wallow with us?




Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fruit Cocktail Cake and Memories

Sounds funny doesn't it? And maybe kinda yucky! Fruit Cocktail Cake. The first time my mom ever told me to get out the recipe I remember looking at her like she was nuts!

My nutty look must not have gone un-noticed because my mom told me that way back during the depression my grandma had this recipe for cake that didn't use milk. It was not uncommon to improvise things back then and I guess this was an improvision that they liked so well, they kept the recipe. I admit it, I had heard of ritz cracker apple pies that are made of crackers but supposed to taste like apple pie. I just don't buy it! So this idea of using fruit cocktail in a cake had me leery. Of course, this was BEFORE we made it.

After we made the fruit cocktail cake, I thought we messed it up! It was darker brown than most cakes, it was moist and one of the huge things I don't like about cake is that dryness so I thought we did something wrong! Mom reassured me that this was right. As we ate the cake I was in shock! This is a cake that is moist! And yummy!

Over the years I forgot the recipe even existed (am I the only one that does that?) but as I grew and got married and was moving out on my own, one thing I did was to go to Mom's recipe box and go through each recipe! You know, you don't think about it, but when you live at home and the box is there and you KNOW you have the recipes, you don't need them, but once you are on your own and you have to call and ask for the recipe a few times, you go with a bunch of cards and start copying! I found this recipe again during that trip to Mom's recipe box.

Of course, I didn't write it as nicely as Mom and I don't make it that often because it is still a cake and therefore not that healthy. Mom has made it with Splenda instead of sugar (I can't stand artificial sweeteners ever but it can be done!) For me what matters is the memories. When I make it, I remember that time I thought my mom was nuts (yes, there were PLENTY of other times I thought that and when I get that look from MY daughters, I try to extend grace!) and I remember my grandma (who would have been 101 this year). And I smile!





I still haven't learned how to put little arrows and such, but you can clearly see the marachino cherry in the bottom left corner. We add extras because our family LOVES them, but they are not required!


Fruit Cocktail Cake

2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla (I use a bit more, but I make my own vanilla and have plenty on hand)
2 Tsp Baking Soda

Mix it all up. Then drain into separate bowl one large can fruit cocktail. Dump JUST the fruit into the batter. IF it is really dry, add some of the juice you drained, until you get a cake batter texture. 

Pour into 8 x 8 x 2 pan. (hint, if you triple the recipe it perfectly fills TWO 9 x 13 pans) Then you have one for a carry in and one to leave at home! ;-)

Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. Then enjoy! 

As you can see from the picture, this is not typically frosted. I am sure it COULD be, but we never have. It truly doesn't need it!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sleep, Bedtimes

I admit it, I feel like ranting! So I'm throwing this out there...does ANYONE out there have bedtimes for their children and if so, what are they?

My children have bedtimes, summer and winter, spring and fall, weekends and weekdays. I'm mean.

My children are ages 14, 13, 7 and 3. For this summer the 14 and 13 year olds have an 8:30 bedtime. I know they don't actually shut off the light and settle until closer to 9 and that is okay. Heading to their rooms helps relax them and get them started down the road to sleep. The younger two are in bed between 7:30 and 8:00 depending on how grumpy they are!

I know MANY people who think I am too strict, too mean, too unreasonable, too mean...you name it and I have heard it!

My 8 year old nephew had a little league ball game last night that was supposed to START at 8:00 PM! That is crazy! By 8 pm, 8 year old boys need to be settling, calming, reading stories with Mommy and getting tucked in! Not starting a baseball game! But wait, the team before them took too long so their game didn't START until about 8:45! Yes, 8:45 at NIGHT! Then it is supposed to last an hour and a half! Do the math! If a storm hadn't blown up and made them call the game, my nephew could have been playing ball until 10:15 at night! Allowing time to get home and go STRAIGHT to bed he would still have been up until at least 10:40. I don't even stay up that late!

I have noticed a pattern with sports. It is crazy, they expect hours of practice, they expect game times and practice times that make family meals virtually impossible, but it isn't just sports, all sorts of clubs and such are working to fit in around all the others and have crazy schedules! What happened to families settling down and spending some quiet time together?

So I am curious, am I an oddity or do you all have bedtimes and such for your children?

I am also the mean Mom who expects her children to actually get up all summer long! They do NOT get to sleep away the day. Their bodies do better on a schedule so they get to keep closer to their school schedule!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Do you have stress?

HA! What a question! Do you have stress? Don't we all? But the important question is how do you deal with it?

I have realized something lately....we all try to deal with it ourselves! Why do we do that to ourselves? That actually just piles on MORE stress! But realistically, why do we do that? I know for me I try to deal with it myself for a variety of reasons. I don't want to bother my family or friends. I know everyone else has enough junk to deal with and I don't want to bother them, add to their stress or a variety of other things. I sometimes feel like it is a weakness to admit I need help. I sometimes am embarrassed that I can't deal with it as well as I feel I should. Or think I am stressed over things that don't stress other people.

Anyone else ever feel like that?

Well, I was thinking about it today and I remembered...yeah, I know, a bit late, that I don't HAVE to deal with stress alone! For starters, I have God. An amazing and wonderfully loving God who WANTS me to come to him with my stress! And even if I don't go to him, he knows anyway. It isn't like with a friend that I can try to not bother them and they are clueless.

So as I sit here today, trying NOT to focus on all the millions of things I need to get done, or how stressful the evening running around will be, I am resting in him. I am relaxing and knowing that he will be with me today no matter what I go through. He knows all the things I forget and how important they are. He knows how I try to keep organized (and fail!). He knows what works for me and what frustrates me. He also helps me remember and try new things to see what works for me. I have to CHOOSE, DAILY, to trust that he is with me no matter what. That doesn't make the stress go away, it just makes it easier!

So, how can I deal with stress, since it DOES exist and I can't avoid it? First, I am going to acknowledge it. I am stressed. Partially because of things I can control and partially because of things I can't control. Identifying what you CAN control is next. If you are in charge of it and it stresses you, figure out how to change that! For me, I am an avoider. If I know something is going to stress me or be difficult, I avoid it. Then I stress and worry because it isn't done. DUH! If I would just do it and get it over with, then yes, I would have some stress, but then it would be done! We did that with our taxes this year. Usually we have them done in early February but this year with our exchange student we weren't really sure how to do them so we just kept putting them off. Yep, right up until Sunday. Then it turned out they were pretty easy and we cheated ourselves out of our return for quite a long time! Sounds silly, but we did it!

After I change the things that I CAN change and acknowledged that I can't change some things, I have to change my attitude. I spend a lot of time frustrated by the things I can't change. Like that does any good, right? So instead, when there are things beyond my control I am working on REGULARLY and CONSISTENTLY giving them to God. Simply acknowledging that he is in control of the situation and he sees the big picture is pretty comforting. Some people will rely on a Bible verse or a phrase that calms or comforts them. It doesn't happen overnight.

The last thing I am really working on is to STOP! Stop worrying, stop fretting and mostly stop dwelling on the negatives. This became clear to me last week when I had a really busy week and I was REALLY looking forward to my Friday home...all day....just me and James....working on business stuff....blogging....hanging out....catching up on chores.....etc. Hmmm....was that God's plan? Apparently not. I had a friend who had her dad die that morning. So I grabbed some food and headed to her house. I felt really silly because I took a laundry basket (yes, really) full of "stuff" and it is a friend that even though we get along, we don't spend that much time together so I wasn't entire confident that she "needed" me. So I packed up my food and my makings for chai and I headed over there. I parked myself in her kitchen, made chai, started a meal in the crock pot and basically hung out and listened to her talk. I let my little man play with her children and distract them. I stressed that I wasn't doing enough and yada yada yada. Then God knocked on my heart and told me it wasn't about ME...it was about HER. I was filling a need. Even if I didn't feel useful. And all of the sudden, my stress left. I wasn't worried about what I WASN'T doing. I was just enjoying strengthening a friendship. I was not worrying about all the "Stuff" and I was worrying about my friend. Yes, it was a really long day. No, I didn't get anything done that I had planned, but I followed God's plan and I felt no stress about what I didn't get done. It was still all waiting for me on Saturday!

So today is another day when I could stress, lots to do, unsure of the exact schedule, a long list of things to do, etc. And yet, I am at peace. God is in control and I am allowing that. And just since I started typing this, one of the things that I was regretting saying yes to because it was causing me a scheduling conflict and some stress got cancelled. See, calm down, focus on God and give him the stress. He is so much better at dealing with it than I am! I think I will head out to finish my day calmer and less stressed, more focused on him today!

How will you handle your stress today? Alone or with Him?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Balancing Act

My life is just one giant balancing act! Sometimes I feel like I am perched precariously on the edge of a teeter-totter and I never know if I am going up or down!

As I try to figure it out, more and more things get piled on and I am always struggling to figure it out! Unfortunately my teeter totter is not as simple as the one pictured above. I have my family, my new home based business, my church commitments, my youth group mentoring and then in there somewhere I like to do a few things for me! How do you prioritize your time? Do you have a list of things that are all important? How do you balance them?

Sometimes I feel like I am sitting on a swing! I am working as hard as I can but I am actually getting nowhere! It may even be fun but I still make no progress over time. I am active, I am killing time, I am even enjoying it but the progress is not happening!

I am still trying to figure this out on a regular basis but I have come to some conclusions lately.

First is God. ALWAYS God is first. When I start my day with Bible study and prayer, my day just goes better. I KNOW this. I have experienced this regularly. Of course, I also regularly forget it. I get "BUSY" and it slips my mind. I have the world's best intentions but follow through is sporadic. Then I get discouraged!

Second is family. This gets more complicated. It shouldn't but when you have a larger family (I have 4 children and 1 exchange student until June), it is just hard to keep up with EVERYONE the same. I WANT to devote equal amounts of quality time to each person but then I also see that each one needs me differently at different times so I can't schedule this to fit MY needs. I need to fit THEIR needs. That makes is so much more complicated! I still haven't quite figured out how to balance the needs of my 3 year old with the needs of my 14 year old!  I have discovered though, that QUALITY time is different in each of their eyes. For my 3 year old, it is cuddle time. Or playing with trains! For my 7 year old, she just wants me to take her with me. Just her. No one else. If I go to the store and I take her, it makes her happy.  For my 12 year old...UGH...your guess is as good as mine! It varies so much from day to day, week to week that I can't keep up with her! My 14 year old wants quiet, contemplative time. She wants to work with me while no one else is around so we can talk and if that time is NOT available (even if she chooses not to use it!) then she gets grumpy and conflict happens. That is when her worst attitude comes out.

Then I have my good intentions...my business that is to help me be able to stay home with my children and devote more time to them. It takes part of my time, but still less time than a full time, out of the house job would. I can be flexible and work around their schedules so that I have to spend part of the time away from them, but I can do it at the best times for them.

My time with the church and with youth group is not as flexible. There are scheduled events. But I have chosen to get involved in ways that I am either with my children or busy at the same times they are busy so that I am not stealing too much of their time.

The part that really bothers me is the taxi service. It seems like the kids (who have very limited activities) are in things at different times! I spend much more time running from place to place than I want to. I am sure that will get better as it is easier to leave the littler ones with older ones.

As I stop to think about my life, I am thrilled. I love it. I knew when I was a child that being a Mom was a very important thing to me. I now find that it is the most rewarding thing! I have a wonderful husband who supports me in staying home and devoting time to being a Mom and that adds to it. I don't know how people work full time and still are Wife, Mom, Housekeeper and any other title you can think of! It would exhaust me!

So today as I balance my schedule....and learn to say NO to a few things (which isn't too easy!), I encourage you to prioritize and learn to say NO to a few things! Focus on the best things in your life and know that your family will appreciate it!








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