Monday, October 31, 2016

The Perfect Image

  I have been wondering lately whether I project the image of having it all together. I don't feel like many people think I have struggles. I don't know whether this is me trying to project a specific image or if it's because I prefer to share concerns and issues with people who have become close, trusted friends. I realize that I have shared some struggles here on my blog which would be considered public. I don't have a solid answer to reconcile this with my previous statement. We'll have to be okay with the contradiction.

  I do not have it all together. Big shocker, right? I worry too much about what others think (or might be thinking). I care too much about fitting in with what a perfect mom and wife look like. Deep down I know there's no such thing, but it doesn't keep me from striving for this goal. I can be petty and choose to nurse hurts because I want sympathy (of course I tend to keep these inside which kind of defeats the purpose and instead gives me a negative outlook, poisoning me from the inside). I struggle often with letting go of my own desires, wants, agenda so that I can be available to love and serve others, including my family.

  There is a tension in me, and possibly in all parents, where I desire to care well for my family and myself but feel like I am constantly failing one or the other. I wonder if putting my son in lunch bunch so that I can have an extra hour of kid-free time is selfish or self-aware. I have been learning how much my parenting (and capacity for love and patience) is affected by whether I make time to do things that refresh and restore me. I know that when I begin to feel panicky, stressed and impatient it means I have neglected to rest and rejuvenate. Alternately, when I do take time to do things that fill me up, I am much more kind, gentle and able to focus on others. I still haven't figured out a good balance. I don't know if balance is even possible. I do know that I want to be healthy and a good role model for my kids so I need to continue to work this out.

  I feel like I am under spiritual attack right now. My thoughts are scattered. I am struggling to concentrate in prayer and reading the Bible. I don't know if he's trying to make me ineffective by causing stress, anxiety and panic. I don't know why this is happening right now. But I am calling him out. Jesus is for me. He is with me. He will never leave me. If I focus on him and drawing closer to him, perhaps my anxiety will subside and peace will take it's place. We are, after all, told to pray about everything and express thanksgiving and we will receive peace that passes understanding.

  Lord, I am anxious and burdened. I don't know why I am feeling this way but I know that you have peace that can replace this anxiousness. Please remind me that you are with me and fill me with your peace. Help me to rest in your promises and be reminded of your faithfulness and your love for me. You are for me. Thank you for creating me and for giving me worth and purpose. Thank you for my family, for my friends, for your word that instructs, encourages and reminds me of your love. I am grateful that you are in control. Please help me to lay down my plans and desires and surrender all I have to your capable hands and perfect will. Lord, I trust that you will bring good from all circumstances. I pray that I would be faithful to you and quick to respond to your leading. Lord, I need you. I cannot have a fruitful life without you. You are my rock and my salvation. Restore your servant who trusts in you. I am so grateful that you hear me and that you are available to listen at all times. I pray that you would be glorified in and through me. Have your way in me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Thoughts of My Grandparents

   My maternal grandmother (and last grandparent) passed away a little over six years ago, two days before her 86th birthday. For some reason I have been thinking a lot about her this year. On her birthday I remembered when she used to talk about Grandpa Dave (her husband) being excited about turning 92 (he died about a month before that milestone, I believe). I can hear her imitating him, saying, "I'm 92!" (which I learned this year was actually a saying that came from further up the ancestor ladder). This year she would have reached 92 years of age herself.

   My grandmother and grandfather liked to square dance. In fact, I think they might have met each other at a square dance hall. One summer when my brother and I were visiting them, they taught us the basics and took us with them to dance one evening. I was nervous about dancing with a bunch of strangers but it was fun.

  I have so many fond memories of spending summers with them at their farm house, helping with the garden, swimming in the creek, waking up and seeing deer outside my bedroom window. I can still mentally navigate their old, yellow house. Drew and I used to walk (and sometimes take turns pulling each other in the wagon) the loooong gravel road from their house out to the road to get the mail.

  Whenever I hear big band music, I think of my grandmother. She taught me how to play Heart and Soul on the piano. We would usually bake something new together each summer and she'd help me copy the recipe card for my collection. My brother and I sometimes slept in a tent under the plum trees in the yard, played with lawn darts and receive a nickel for every white cabbage-eating moth we caught.

  I remember popping puff balls off of the big oak tree in the back yard. Watching the gigantic satellite dish turn as it tried to find "Salute Your Shorts" or "Get Smart". One scoop each of Umpqua's chocolate ice cream and orange sherbet for dessert. Drew and I splitting a three o'clock snack ("Don't tell your mother!").

  I was sad that my grandmother was never able to meet my children. Kaitlyn was just under two months old when she died. I know she got to see a picture of her but I know she would have "gotten a kick out of" all of her great-grandchildren. I miss her (and her many colloquialisms) a lot.

  My kids are following in the steps of my brother and I by hopping on a plane in the summer to trek out west and spend time with their maternal grandparents and extended family. Pretty soon they'll be flying out there without us and having a blast, making many wonderful memories like we did. I know they'll forge deep relationships and have experiences that they'll treasure throughout their lives.

  In the meantime, I'll continue to think fondly of my grandparents and adventures shared. I'll pass along some Grandmaisms to my own kids in remembrance of her spunk. Hey, it's better than a stick in the eye!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September Book Review

We are now officially into fall which is exciting! Cooler weather, leaves changing, football, pumpkins and apples. All of that invites me to cozy up under a blanket with a good book (even though it's still 90 degrees outside). This month I cozied up with five books. You can read more about them below. If you want to read previous months' book reads, click the appropriate link: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August.

1. Made Well: Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments by Jenny Simmons

  This book was so good and encouraging! I'm in the process of finding healing and wholeness and this was a welcome read as I continue on this journey. Jenny talks about the tension between the heartache of death and the hope of resurrection. She shares stories from her life and from her family and friends that share the journey of navigating life through the hope of Jesus despite hardships. So many of the themes are relevant to my life right now. I would highly encourage this book to everyone (despite the shortness of the review - there's so much goodness inside I don't know where to start)! You can read a more in depth review in another post.

2. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature by Peter Scazzero

  I heard about this book on an episode of The Happy Hour by Jamie Ivey podcast. Her guest said that this was a book she was recommending everyone to read. I love Christian non-fiction book so I added it to my to-read list. I received it for my birthday and finally got to it on my list. The book is so good! It was open, honest and encouraging. It has practical advice on how to grow in your emotional health including prompts to help you see where you are on your journey and exercises to practice. It is a wonderful book that I highlighted extensively and will be referencing again. I appreciated Peter's vulnerability in sharing examples of his own journey toward emotionally healthy spirituality. I would highly recommend this book!

3. Inferno: A Novel by Dan Brown

  I saw that another Robert Langdon novel was becoming a movie. It looked action-packed so I knew I needed to read it before it came out (though I probably won't see it until it's available on demand because we don't go to the movies often). I was sucked into the story immediately and raced through it wanting to know what was happening next. I had hoped that it would be my fiction read for the beach but in my quest to find out what was happening, I finished it the night before our trip.

  In the book we find Langdon waking up in a hospital in Florence with an apparent head wound from being shot at and amnesia from the injury. He doesn't know why he's been shot but he's afraid that he has done something terrible. One of the doctors at the hospital helps him escape and together they try to figure out what is going on, why Langdon is in Italy and what his pursuers want. It was a thrill ride that kept me guessing and trying to figure out who was trustworthy and what Robert was trying to discover. If you liked the other Langdon novels, this one should not disappoint.

4. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

  I first heard of Amy Schumer when my husband and I were watching Last Comic Standing. I really enjoyed her confidence and personality. I know her humor tends to be more crude than people appreciate. Because of this reputation I was hesitant to watch Trainwreck. I really like Bill Hader so we watched it when it came to HBO. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was quite surprised at how much I did. When I saw she was publishing an autobiographical-type book I was interested to read it and learn more about her as a person. I took it with me to the beach for fall break.
  I enjoyed the book and learning about the parallels between her real life and her movie. I did not know that so much was based on her experiences (I also didn't know that she co-wrote it with her sister). I felt like I got to know Amy Schumer the person better and get a glimpse behind her stand-up comic personality. She spoke truthfully about a lot of things I could relate to - mainly being a woman. I am glad that I read it. I have more respect and compassion for Amy know that I know more about her and her life experiences. If you are able to read a book with a decent amount of foul and vulgar language then I would think you'd find it a good read. If that language offends you, then probably skip this one.

5. The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

  This book was a recommendation from Jen Hatmaker (not personally, just something she wrote about online). I am a homeowner with limited expertise in decorating but I still want a home that makes me smile so I am interested in books that speak to the averagely skilled person. Jen had shown her room makeover with the help of the book (her office) which I happened to get to see last year and loved (it's so cozy and inviting!). This seemed like a book for me.
  I LOVED this book! Myquillyn has manageable ideas and suggestions. Her advice is full of wisdom and experience. She encourages us to not be frozen by fear of failure or imperfection and find things that make our house homey. Not everyone has the same style and that's okay. In addition to decorating/DIY tips she also gave sound advice about ridding ourselves of fear, discontentment, and comparison (among other things). It is a book for the heart and the home. I checked it out of the library but I may have to acquire my own physical copy because it contains so much goodness. It is definitely one I recommend.

My total of completed books for the year is now up to 60! Please tell me about a book you read in September. I keep telling myself that I am going to stop purchasing books or borrowing them from the library until I read all of the ones I already have, but I just can't help myself! Do you have this "problem" as well?

Monday, October 3, 2016

September Goal Review

We are officially into fall and it's once again time to check in on my goals for the year. You can read about previous months by clicking the links: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly, August.

1. One arts and crafts time with the kids each month

  I wanted to do something fall related as I love the season but I didn't have a lot of time to come up with something. I decided it might be fun for the kids to make leaf rubbings so I gathered some leaves from around the yard. While they waited for me to get set up they worked on creating additional pictures. They seemed to enjoy leaf rubbing but it did not keep their attention long. .

I think J's favorite part was removing the paper from the crayons.

2. Blog at least twice per month

  For the month of September I decided to participate in all of the Friday Five writing prompts given over at MrsDisciple. I had fun writing about quitting as well as women and men I admire. The bookmarks post was fairly easy and did not require as much emotional involvement. The crying prompt, however, was challenging. It took me a bit to figure out what to write about. I am glad that I gave myself this challenge. I don't know whether publishing a post once per week is too much with all of my other responsibilities. I'm still working out all of my responsibilities and time management. I do enjoy writing and sharing I just don't want it to take away from my family. I also wrote a post about a great book I read recently.

3. Grow in gratitude, contentment and generosity

  I do feel like I have a more thankful heart toward God this month. I do still have negative mental rants here and there but it seems that a lot of my prayers include thanksgiving toward God for who he is, his faithfulness and his provision. I have written in my gratitude journal at least once per week. I am trying to appreciate the people in my life and the ways they bless and help me.

I love that my fall decor helps me to remember gratitude.
  I do feel fairly content with where I am. I am in a bit of transition at the moment but I am confident that God will bring me through and the result will be positive. I have what I need and appreciate what I have.

  I have been trying to continue to be generous to those around me with time, thoughtfulness, gifts, and encouragement. I could grow in the generousness of my grace and in thinking the best of those I come in contact with. I need to continue to believe that everyone is doing the best they can and that, if I am witnessing unkindness, then they must be having a bad day and the behavior is an anomaly. That's the kind of grace I would like to receive. I am not usually purposefully unkind or ungracious to others but I have bad days and bad moments.

  My verse memorization has fallen to the back burner. I love God's word and am encouraged by it but keeping this on my plate would be more stressful than helpful right now. Verse memorization tends to come in spurts in various seasons. I know I'll get back to it again for awhile and then take another break. I still know a lot of verses by heart that encourage me.

September's a wrap. How did the month go for you? Did you start a new goal? Let go of an old goal that is just too much write now? What did you accomplish or start in September that you're excited about? Tell me!