No 3-2-1…Our Missing 3 Seconds

Image

For the past several years my kids and I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with snacks, sparkling cider, and movies.  We always have a great time hanging out together and New Year’s Eve is no different!

This past year (all of 3 days ago!) we rang in the New Year in the same way.  Although I was also busy baking cookies for a get together on New Year’s Day and we were dog sitting two large, rambunctious chocolate labs…so it was a little bit rowdier than usual.  🙂

My oldest son picked the movie, I popped the popcorn, and we all snuggled down for a good laugh.  It ended with 15 minutes til midnight.  We poured our sparkling cider…actually this year we did Italian soda…and prepared to countdown to 2014!

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4…

And then our TV gave the message that the DVR was set to record two programs at once and which did we want to cancel.  We all gasped and two of my kids raced to fix it.

Unfortunately their fixes cancelled each other out and the TV switched to a totally different show.

By the time we were back to the right channel all we saw lots of strangers smooching!

Instantly there were sighs and groans and blaming…it was Zach’s fault for messing with the remote, it was Peter’s fault for jumping up and pressing buttons on the box, it was Emma’s fault for scheduling her show…thankfully I remained unscathed by the guilt-throwing!

This whole missing the last 3 numbers in the countdown was pretty funny.  I have to admit.  We laughed a lot about it.  The idea that we missed those 3 seconds…of all seconds to miss.  I mean we didn’t actually miss them because we lived through them, but we did miss the acknowledgement of them and it was certainly anti-climactic to not say, “Happy New Year!!!” at just the right time!

I’m trying to figure out what the lesson for the New Year is in this wacky start?  Maybe be ready for the unexpected?  Or don’t take things too seriously?  Or don’t schedule so much at one time?  Or be kind to one another?  Or blaming is banned?  Or don’t sweat the small stuff…like 3 seconds?  Or enjoy every second?

I guess I’d say, ENJOY EVERY SECOND…the ones you acknowledge and the ones you just live!

Be there…be where you are.

Be with your children…not worrying about them or how they are going to get through the day (or the next 3 seconds)…but trusting that God can handle these next 3 seconds and the next 3 million as well.

Be with yourself…that sounds a little wonky, but I mean that we take time to rest, to care for ourselves, to spend time with friends and family, and to do those things that bless us (like reading, running, sewing, writing, or playing an instrument…whatever you enjoy!)  That we take 3 minutes to be by ourselves.

Be with God…talking to Him, reading His word, and praising Him.  It’s easy at this place in our lives to spend more time wrestling with Him about everything, rather than trusting that He’s going to handle it all in His perfect way and perfect timing and with the perfect love He has for us.

So right now…I’m going to stop being with my computer and instead I’m going to go be with my kids!  It’s freezing cold outside and there is ice everywhere but they want to play in the snow and I best put on my mittens and join them! Brrrr…..

God bless you this New Year and may every second be filled with an awareness of how loved you are!

Blissfully Aware

clutterSomeone shared with me recently that if a fire fighter trips and hurts himself while trying to save you from your burning house, you can be sued…for a lot of money.

I’m not sure why my friend shared that with me…well, maybe it was a subtle encouragement regarding the clutter in my home.

Golly, I hope my house doesn’t catch on fire ’cause I’d get sued for sure!

There’s just something about the hallway upstairs…it’s full of tripping hazards. Laundry, books, baskets of odds and ends, piles of dirty clothes, towels (damp and dry), an occasional doll, parts of games, sometime a pair of shoes or just one, and a basket of a ridiculous amount of odd socks.

The most confounding thing is that my children are oblivious! Honestly, I believe it’s all invisible to them. What is that?

And why don’t I have it?

What a blessing blissfully unaware would be!

Unfortunately I’m exceedingly aware of the messiness and all the tripping hazards…and it’s driving me bonkers.

Of course, being driven bonkers implies that it’s my destination…I think bonkers is the vehicle I’m riding in.

I just can’t figure out if I’m driving it or riding in it!

I’ve always wanted an organized, beautiful home. Who doesn’t?!
In the past I wanted order in my home for different reasons. I wanted our home to be a restful place for my husband when he returned from work and for my children to know the joy of a peaceful environment. I also wanted to be able to offer hospitality on a whim.

Now I want my house to be nice because I don’t want to lose any more of my mind….really.

This past week has been exceedingly busy and it culminated with the stomach bug hitting. Right now, our house is not as lovely as I’d like. And, to some degree, I’m okay with that.

But on another degree (is that even a saying?) it’s really stressing me out. And it isn’t because people are going to stop by – I’m pretty sure the flu has stopped anyone from dropping in!

It’s because this life is so crazy…I don’t want my house to be too.

A messy house = a terribly impatient mother.

It’s like I become as messy emotionally and mentally as my home.
I keep trying to point it out to my children but they aren’t getting it.

I’m not sure why because I can certainly tell I’m impatient and irritated easily.

Maybe this is another case of them being blissfully unaware.

Maybe I need to be a bit blissfully unaware too.

There was a season a few years ago right after my husband left when I was. I whittled life down to the essentials and the house being immaculate was not an essential….at all.

Essential was defined as loving my children with my actions, words, and time spent together.

In thinking back, I’m realizing it was a choice. I chose to focus on the people in my life instead of the things.

I want to choose that place again.

I don’t have to be blissfully unaware of my surroundings, but I’d like to be blissfully aware of my children.

My children are much more important than the clutter they create.

I could start by figuring out what absolutely needs to be done and working with my children in a gracious and organized way to get it done!

I could choose to spend time with them rather than spending all my time fussing about the house. Honestly I do feel like I spend all if not most of my time grumping about the house. My poor children!

I could pray that God would calm my mind and heart so I could hear His leading on this. I know He desires me to bring everything to Him and He truly does care about all my silly and not so silly stuff.

Lord, there’s so much to do and I don’t want to be only doing. Father, I want to be momma more than housekeeper. Please help me use my time wisely and efficiently so I can focus on the precious people in my life rather than the things that literally trip me up!

Wading Into the Waves Holding My Savior’s Hand

Just saw that my newest blog is up at MomLifeToday.  I hope you enjoy it.

I’d also like to ask for prayer as I begin a new book proposal!  Working on Chapter 1…draft number 1,365,279…just kidding, it just feels that way! I’m so excited about the idea and I feel such a passion to share what God is showing me!  Can’t wait to see what God does with this!

Praying each of you has a wonderful, wonderful weekend filled with unexpected and beautiful blessings!

In His Care, Sue 

Snoozing Times Four

Get Up

Today I pushed snooze 4 times and then took a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.  I woke with a throbbing headache.  Not a stellar day…

On top of that I’ve been trying to give up my coca-cola addiction and I completely fell off the bandwagon.  Ugh. 

Although I do have to say, I completely enjoyed my ice cold Coke!  Yummy!

I think life is catching up with me.  I’m soooo tired…even the caffeine from my soda fix did not relieve the exhaustion! Or the headache.

Sometimes thoughts can cause so much pressure in my head.  I believe that is the source of my headache…too many thoughts.

I’ve often said that I overthink things…I don’t believe I’m overthinking at this point.  I think there are too many thoughts in my head to overthink them…I can’t even begin to address them all. 
How do I effectively deal with all I need to deal with when my head is in such tumult?

The verse that has come to mind most often lately is:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock.  Isaiah 26:3-4

I just love these verses!  Perfect peace – how could I not want that? 

Perfect?  I can’t even wrap my brain around that…one of my favorite verses is:

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  Proverbs 19:23

I do not believe that God is saying that we will have a life without trouble because He tells us in John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I do believe that regardless of the trouble we encounter in our lives, we will be untouched at our core. I will have peace because I trust Him despite and through the storm.

We will have a life of peace…perfect peace…despite the trouble because we have the Lord. 

If my focus is on Jesus not my circumstances my life is so much better.  If my mind is stayed on Him I am not overwhelmed by difficulties. 

It reminds me of Peter walking on the water…as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he was actually walking on the water.  It was only when he took his eyes away and looked at the waves that he began to sink. 

I want to keep my mind stayed on Jesus.  I want to keep my focus on Him mentally, emotionally and spiritually with a laser-like focus…I want to settle down and be with Him.  I want to reside in His presence not just visit for a moment.  I want to dwell with Him. 

With Him, is peace.  With Him, is rest.  With Him, is hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

My hope for tomorrow is that I don’t hit that blasted snooze button so many times and that it is a headache-free day! 

But I’m choosing to focus on Him anyway so snooze or no snooze, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

My Money Faucet…Quick!! Someone Get a Wrench!

money faucetSo I know in polite conversation you aren’t supposed to talk about God, politics or money. I already talk about God because He’s everything to me. And although I have very strong opinions about most things, I’ve decided to refrain from politics. But today I just gotta vent a bit about money.

Oh my goodness!!! I think it is literally pouring out of my bank account…there must be a faucet turned on that I’m unaware of and I desperately need to find it…FAST!!!

Yesterday I had to get new glasses…and since I’m over 40 they’re transition lenses. It’s a worthwhile investment (I hope) but ouch! Today the A/C motor went out and as the repairman gave me the quote I seriously wondered if we could just go without A/C upstairs this summer. Oh well…it’s just money right?

Tomorrow the car goes to the shop because I believe it has some serious indigestion problems. I’m hoping I get a mechanic that won’t take advantage of my inexperience with cars.

I also need to write a check to my community pool for the summer. We don’t do vacations…we jump in the pool! I just have to join.

In a few days I have to write a big ole check to the state of Virginia. I love my state but golly! Not THAT much!

I wish those were the only things…but it just goes on and on and on…

The year after my husband left I was so frugal that even with my tight budget I could save. And I took great comfort in that savings account. It was my security blanket.

My Dad asked me once how I was doing financially and I said, “I’m actually doing okay.” And I thought, “Wow! I am.” And then I patted myself on the back for having a savings account and being so careful. And I thought how wonderful it was that I had that safety net.

And then almost instantly I realized that I was trusting my own ability to take care of myself and my children. Not that it isn’t important to be wise with money, to be frugal and to save, but I had put an awful lot of faith in myself – in my ability to provide for my family. It was no longer about just being prepared it was about being in control.

I prayed for forgiveness and the right perspective. And BOY! Did God give it!

All of a sudden it seemed like everything needed repairs or to be replaced. Apparently my house had reached “middle-age” and needed some TLC. Unfortunately that TLC came at the expense (and I do mean expense) of my security blanket.

My savings account dwindled down in a surprisingly fast fashion. But I began again to put my trust in God…I didn’t have the money to trust anymore…therefore, the ability to control or at least feel in control was gone too.

I’m thinking maybe I didn’t learn that lesson adequately enough
…or God likes me in this place.

Because money just refuses to enter or stay in my account. I mean really…it’s getting almost comical. (Almost.)

I’m not sure how to approach it. I don’t know that I can add another thing to my life. But I gotta pray – maybe God will open my eyes to opportunities around me or ways I can save more.

But even though there is a bit of panic in my heart and head about this, I’m determined to trust that God will provide all that I need.

Okay…so while I’ve been typing this the repairman has been trying to fit the universal motor in my a/c unit and guess what!?! My unit will have none of it … they have to special order the part. It’s gonna cost more!!! ROTFL!

Seriously, I can’t stop laughing.

You know what…just bring it…God’s got this.

The Most Important

trampoline picAs I’ve been preparing for my talk at the MomLife Bootcamp this weekend, I was once again reminded that my life is not conducive to completing projects in a timely and organized manner.

I used to be an organized person…or at least I used to be able to appear like an organized person.

In my pre-mommy life I was a conference planner, but that was before 5 other people could mess with my schedule, my to-do list, and my sanity.

I really am a planner at heart. I really want to be that organized, put together, getterdone, check things off my list kinda gal. But I always seem to be waylaid.

I’d like to be able to accomplish SOMETHING! Anything!!!

There is always something that sneaks up and changes the dynamics of my day. I’ve said before that I feel like I’m always flying by the seat of my pants because my best-laid plans are for naught most days.

Spontaneity is great for a night out but not as a way of life.

I’m wondering if maybe putting a little bit less on my to-do list would be helpful…then maybe I could end the day without feeling disappointed.
I have a friend who says, “Do a little, do it well.” I think I’m more “Do a lot, do it okay.” Or “Try to do a lot. Find you can’t. Then beat yourself up about it.”

Yeah that’s me.

My kids want me…just me. Not me and a perfect house…you can’t have any fun in a perfect house anyway.

There are a lot of sayings about a messy house being a happy home. I get the idea to a point but a little order is good…right? I think the key is finding balance, understanding my priorities, relaxing.

Maybe relaxing some of our expectations…the reasonable ones and the unreasonable ones.

Honestly, we all probably need to relax in general. I know…show me how, when and where and I’m there.

As much as I wish relaxing was a glass of sweet tea, a good book and a hammock…mine is more sitting on the grass watching my son’s soccer game, putting aside my work to enjoy my daughters riding bikes in the culdesac, or sharing the sofa with 3 or more children to watch a movie.

In some ways maybe it’s an attitude.

Choosing not to stress about the stuff we can’t fix and maybe even the stuff we can.

Now that’s a God-sized task to be sure! But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13) There is also this lovely verse, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

I think it’s okay to be still and quiet and rest.

Okay, so how are we gonna do this rest thing?

I’ve been trying to figure it out for days, months…years.

When was the last time I felt rested, calm, and strong? Actually I do remember a time.

It was right after my husband announced he wanted to leave. Those months of anguish were also months of profound peace and calm. I believe it was solely because I was saturated with Scripture. I also had a clarity about what was important. And it wasn’t accomplishing great things nor was it a clean house or work completed. It was and always will be my children.

Tonight my children asked if they could all go jump on the trampoline. It was close to bedtime, but I wanted to work a little bit longer on my talk, so I said, “Ok, just 10 minutes.” As I sat near the window listening to my children laughing and playing, I couldn’t stop thinking that I wanted to be out there with them. I just had to put my stuff aside.

When I walked out barefoot ready to jump, my kids all asked, rather incredulously, “Momma, are you going to jump with us?” I cannot tell you how thankful I was that God had prompted me to put aside the important for the most important.

I guess it’s rather simple, isn’t it? Soaking up the scripture and pouring into our children. That’s not too much to organize! I might be able to do that!
I know that there is much more to it than that…living this single parent life is so difficult and overwhelming at times. But maybe we need to take our eyes off of all the craziness and focus on Christ and put aside the to-do list and focus on the people in our lives. Maybe we can stop trying so hard to do so much and we can just be for a bit.

Be in prayer. Be in the Word. Be with our people.

God’s got this. He’s got our. He’s got us.

He’s even got this silly talk I can’t seem to get my head around. I’m so thankful.

Still not organized…but thankful.

so yeah…let’s pray

flat tire photoSo yeah… this week.
I’ll just give you the highlights otherwise it’ll seem like I’m writing my second book!
And I’ll try to keep it funny.
Monday – dental fillings….enough said.
Tuesday – locked my keys in my car. Oh but I didn’t just lock my keys in the car…nope. I locked my keys AND my spare keys in the car. So I called my dear friend and prayer partner, Anna, who was kind enough to come get me on her way to another appointment. As we and 4 of our children traveled up 95N we heard a funny noise and then an even funnier noise…and then we realized there was nothing funny about it. It was that disconcerting kerflump sound of a flat tire. We pulled over to the side of the road as far off as we could get which meant the car was leaning at quite an angle. As I opened my door to go have a look, I actually fell out of the car – which I gotta admit was pretty funny. What wasn’t funny, was Anna getting out of the car and having the door slam shut on her finger. It looked like she had broken her middle finger which I teased her was just an excuse to express her feelings about the day. My wonderful son and his friend came and got all the children, while Anna and I waited for roadside assistance. We laughed a lot. It might have been a bit more like hysterical laughter at times. Especially when a house on a trailer passed by us. I joked that that was exactly what I needed for my next blog…”and then a house hit us!”
I was so glad I was there when her tire blew. I was thankful that she wasn’t alone on a major highway with her three kids. I teased that I was such a sweet friend to sacrificially lock my keys in my car so I could be with her when her tire blew. She said I should be thankful for such a kind friend who gives me so much writing material! True…she speaks truth. I’m so very thankful for her. And I’m thankful that God uses the craziest things to meet our needs and bless us. I needed a ride and she needed company. I always need material and I will always need Anna.
Praise God it all worked out…My keys are no longer on the inside of my car, my friend’s tire is no longer wobbly, and although Anna’s finger is still very crooked and swollen, it is not broken!
But my day didn’t end there…that night as the children waited with anticipation for a big snowstorm to hit, the house became decidedly chillier – no heat. Yup. Nothing like good timing. Although I will say it was fine…just annoying.
And today, the dishwasher broke…again. And everything costs money…I’m no longer getting nickeled and dimed, I’m getting “hundredth’d” and “thousandth’d” to death!
BUT, and this is a big but, I have perspective. I have a dear friend fighting for her life unexpectedly. I can’t seem to complain about my life…well, I guess I just did…but seriously, I’m sorta just making fun of things. My friend is a fighter and so many people are praying for her. And once again I am reminded that we have an awesome God.
I wish I could do something for her, her husband, and their four children – the youngest is 1 week old. Everything is covered so I can’t really do anything practical for them. And then I remember that the thing that meant the most to me when I was going through our family’s implosion, was absolutely and positively prayer. Oh, I totally appreciated, more than I can say, all the help and love and encouragement, but the prayer! That was powerful.
And I can do that! I can pray. I can pray when I wake up and when I lie down. I can pray as I walk and as I work. I can pray all the time. I can pray without ceasing. I can live with an attitude of prayer. And I can do the very best thing for my friend by praying.
I prayed for keys to magically appear when I was standing in the parking lot. I prayed for safety as we sat on 95N with a flat tire. And I prayed for my friend’s hurt finger. And now I’m praying for my sweet sick friend and her dear family. I’m praying for healing, hope, and health. I’m praying for God’s peace which passes all understanding to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And I’m praying that God will use me in some way to bless them. But I believe praying does indeed bless them. It is intangible, but powerful. It is invisible but strong. It is awesome and wonderful.
So this week…yeah…it’s been a bit of bear, but God once again has reminded me that He is all I need. He is all we all need. And He is ready and willing to listen to our prayers! Let’s pray!!
PS If you think of it, please pray for my friend , her husband and their 4 sweet children.

SHARING SOME THOUGHTS ON ROMANCE

I’ve been learning a lot about love lately.  Loving my children well.  Loving my friends well.  Loving my family well.  Loving my Lord the best.  And especially how the Lord loves me.

When I was looking up verses on love, it was amazing how many times God uses the word steadfast to describe His love for us. 
 
The word steadfast means “fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, unwavering, firmly established, firmly fixed in place or position.”
 
What was the synonym that grabbed you the most?  For me it was unwavering, but resolution came in a close second.  Unwavering is a beautiful word because to me that says that no matter what God loves me.  I imagine it like a tree standing in the midst of a hurricane and defying the wind and the storm simply by standing upright.  God’s love is not impacted by what I do or say or think, or anything I have done, said or think or anything in the future.  That is beautiful to me.  That word resolution reminds me that God has decided to love me steadfastly regardless of me.  He is resolved that I should be loved by Him.  His love is steadily directed at me.  There is never a time when He withholds His love from me. Wow!  No matter what, He loves me.  No matter what, He loves you.
 
Read Psalm 136 and see how much God wants you to truly understand how steadfastly He loves you.  I have included part of it…He says it 26 times – once in each verse!  He wants us to know His love is unwavering, unending. 
 
Dearest, He loves you relentlessly!
 
I pray that today you will grasp how deeply and steadily God loves you.
 
Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and the stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;…

Where Did She Go?

goofy pic

My daughter Elizabeth was complaining the other night at bedtime about a bunch of stuff. 

I said, “Let’s pray about it.

To which she replied with a wail, “But that never works!  I pray and God doesn’t answer.”

Oh dear! I thought.

I put my hand gently on her forehead and rubbed her eyebrow with my thumb, “Honey, what have you prayed about that you feel God hasn’t answered?”

“Moooom! I don’t wanna talk about it,” she wailed and turned her head away.

I moved in closer and took her in my arms.  I insisted gently that I really wanted to know.  And the answer was a bit shocking.

“I’ve been praying for a nice mommy, “ she sniffled. “You haven’t changed.”

Ouch.

I kept her in my arms.  Stunned.   I was prepared for a boo-boo not healed, or playmate issue at recess, or a gift not received…but it was me?!?

Apparently I used to be a nice mommy.  Now…not so much. 

I’ve thought about it a lot since then because I’ve been known to write that I used to be a nice mommy.  What changed?

Certainly there is a measure of me changing.  And there is a bit of change going on in our lives – children growing older and hopefully more responsible, more stresses with school and work, etc.

I think Elizabeth is feeling bummed that growing up a bit makes you have to be more responsible.  You know, do chores…pick up your room…do dishes…clear your plate from the table, etc.  I also expect her to be respectful and obedient.  That’s hard stuff when your 6.  When you want to play with your dolls and Mom wants you to clean up for dinner!  That is simply unacceptable circumstances for a 6 year old ….well, at least my 6 year old.

On the other hand, I think I’m having a bit of a fussy season.  It isn’t constant or even daily, it’s just that sometimes this single mama thing is no fun.  Not that life should always be fun…well…personally I’d like it to be…wish it was…but it isn’t.  J 

I think that this life sometimes just overtakes me with worries, concerns, to-do lists and chores (and maybe even some hormones…but don’t tell anyone.)  And when those overwhelming moments hit, I can be slightly irritated and maybe a smidge cross.  When I was little my Mama used to say, “Susie, don’t get your knickers twisted.”  Well, my knickers are definitely twisted, tangled, knotted, and snarled at times.

I suspect my children are all too aware of my knickers situation.  I believe my little girl would appreciate me getting myself untwisted, untangled, unknotted and unsnarled.  I believe I would as well.

Practically speaking there are some steps I could take…the biggest being SLEEP.  But since that’s unlikely what else can I do? 

Pray.  Read His words of comfort and peace to me.  Be thankful.  Get organized.  Ask for help. 

Oh and take a loooooong bubble bath.