Monday, June 18, 2012

Discovering a Talent

The other day I was at my friend, Becky's house and I asked her how she makes such amazing food.  She blushed and then proceeded to tell me her secret.  She LOVES food shows.  She watches Food Network, reads their magazine along with a few others.

You are probably wondering why I told you this, well here's the answer.  You see for years I never believed I had ANY talents.  I believed that God just skipped over me, when he was handing them out.  Others have tried to tell me, and I still think some of their answers are silly, but it took a while to sink into my stubborn head to realize, "Hey, yeah, I can do that."

To add to this story, I will tell you that I live in a box. No not literally, but creatively.  I do not create anything. I make or remake things, especially when it comes to food.  From the time I was a teenager I HAD to have a recipe. I couldn't come up with something on my own.  This has frustrated my mother in countless ways. (Do not ask her or my dad about my adventures making hamburgers. lol) To this day I'm still this way, especially when I'm trying something new.

Here's the thing though, whenever we are going to a party, pot luck or for a holiday, I make a brand new recipe that I have NEVER tried before. This drives people insane.  I don't know how many times people have told me they would never do something like that, but it is second nature to me.  Now I will tell you, I spend a lot of time researching these recipes. I check reviews, advice, and compare it to other recipes that are similar.  I've never made something that I don't know the taste of each and every ingredient. If these ingredients don't sound like they would mix together then I save it for a family night dinner, but otherwise I bravely use people I don't know as my guinea pigs. :D

While sitting there listening to my friend talk, I realized that I was in a food rut.  I've been making the same things over and over again. My family was tired of eating what I make and frankly I was tired of cooking what I cooked.  I was just going through the motions of feeding my family just to get them to be quiet and to go on with my selfish ways.  This was not only selfish, a poor example, but everything that goes against the nature and way God made me.

On the way home I was talking "at," this usually happens when I keep talking and don't give him a chance to answer, my husband about this and told him how I use to be that way.  I use to love trying new recipes and treating my family to a festival for their mouths.  I told him there was no reason I couldn't do this again.

It was when we arrived home that my daughter pointed out to me that it was a talent of mine to be able to do this.  I argued with her about this and then my husband joined in and argued with him about it as well.  I told them a talent was a natural gift from God, not something that I cultivate.  A talent is like his drawing ability, my daughters ability to create a crocheted item without a pattern, my son's ability to know when I don't feel good before I do.  It was after they gave up trying to convince me, me walking away to my room to cry that I began to pray about it.

While I was praying, I realized how unyielding I was being.  That I was refusing to listen to the love and advice my family was giving me.  I was ignoring God speaking to me through them.  I was so wrapped up in pitiful me to notice to grace that was being bestowed upon me.

So in order to keep myself positive about my talent, I'm going to start another blog about food.  Each day I will post about what I've tried to make for my family.  It won't always be great, but it will always be edible.  So here is to a new beginning to my new venture.

If you have any ideas what I should name my new blog please let me know.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June's Goals

Here are my goals for the rest of June.

1. Finish organizing my bedroom.  Right now it is so disorganized I really hate going in there.

2. Finish organizing the school books in the basement.  I have re-purposed two more book shelves and need to move them down stairs.  Once they are downstairs I can finish the process of getting them done.

3. Read to my kids every day.  I know this was last month, but it is important to me.

4. Eat dinner at home everyday.  This may sound easy, but with the way I've been feeling it hasn't been.

5. Eat at the table for every meal.  This means we have to clean up after ourselves after school.

6. Read TWO books both non-fiction. I really love fiction so this will be a bit of a stretch for me and will push me to read something new.

7. Spend time everyday outside.  I HATE humid days, but I'm really lacking in Vitamin D3 and spending time outside will help.

8. Try ONE new recipe each week.  This won't be too hard, but something that will challenge me as I've fallen in a rut.

9. Plan our trip to Gatlinburg for late August. This I will enjoy as I love to plan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Problems with Comparisons and May Report Card

It is so easy for me to start comparing myself with other people.  Especially when I'm around people that mean something to me.  I'm sitting at my in-laws house (not sleeping) in their study.  Right behind me are the family photos.  I know ours need to be updated, but once my photographer is well that will be taken care of, but I digress.  On this wall you will find Stephen's two brothers, their children, his sisters and their families.  I certainly don't compare myself to his brothers as that would be silly, but it is his sisters that I compare myself with.

Stephen's sister Elizabeth, Beth, has recently finished her degree.  She is now a certified teacher. She did this while working part time at her children's school, busy with the PTA, the kids extra activities, being a preacher's wife and I'm sure keeping a company ready house.  Beth is truly an amazing woman, one to admire.  The picture of her family is classic and she makes sure they are done every year so their mom has a new picture up.

Beth left Indiana to marry the love of her life, Travis, almost 16 years ago.  She left home and hasn't really looked back.  Since leaving home she has lived in Oregon and two different places in California.  All of this without the comfort and security of family.  (Here I complained when I was 6 hours away. I know pathetic.)  I could go on and on about why my sister-in-law is admirable, but there is another one that I need to tell you about.

Katy is the youngest and a spitfire.  She has determination and the brains to back it up.  There is NOTHING that gets in the way of what Katy sees that needs to be done.  I have always admired her courage, sense of self-worth, and direction.  Katy married the love of her life, Ross, and proceeded to move to Texas.  She picked up, left Indiana and hasn't looked back.  She loves it down there and doesn't plan on moving back.  Katy is an amazing paralegal that is doing wonderful things for her law firm and the area.  I'm very proud of all that she has accomplished.

Don't get me wrong, my sisters-in-law come home as often as they can, but they are content where they are.  That isn't the issue here.  The issue is me.  What have I done with my life?

Well I moved out to Pennsylvania and all I could think about was coming back to Indiana. If you ask me I had great excuses, but that is all they are excuses.  I have four children, Beth has 3 and Katy has only been married a few years.  That is it.  I have nothing else to say for or about myself.  This is my struggle, my problem, my pain. My sisters-in-law are amazing women who have accomplished amazing things, while I feel like I can't keep my head above water.

Here is the hard answer though.  This isn't about them, it is about me.  I'm so worried about what am I doing and comparing it to what they are doing that I'm forgetting one very important thing. I AM BEING SELF ABSORBED.  As my friend Mindy would say, I need to stop making this about me and make it about God.  I need to think about the things He is doing in MY life instead of worrying about meeting up to their lives.  I don't know all the struggles they face.  I don't know the physical, spiritual, emotional and sometimes even marital problems they face.  By comparing myself to them, I'm judging them.  I've set MY standard, played God, and judged my sisters in Christ.  Forget about being fair to me, I'm not being fair to them.  They deserve so much better than that.  They deserve all my love and admiration, not judging them by my standard.

I need to worry about living up to God's standards instead of the imaginary ones I set up for myself by comparing myself to other people.  This is an OLD habit of mine and it is going to take a lot of work and prayer to work through.  I just pray that my comparisons haven't damaged any possible relationship I could have with them.

Now for the May Report Card

1.Eat from my menu daily. I would give myself a C for this one.  It would have gone better if I would have planned a menu, or used the one I printed and put on the refrigerator.

2. Keep a company ready house.  I can give myself a B for this one.  My house hasn't been spotless, but it can be company ready in less than an hour and from where I was before this is a BIG improvement.

3. Finishing reading 2 books.  I can give myself an A+ for this one. I read THREE books.  One was fluff, one was about home school organization and the other was a book about the Proverbs 31 woman.

4. Read to the kids daily. I can give myself an A for this as well.  We even supplemented with books on tape as well.

5. Declutter my bedroom. I can give myself a B for this one.  I started it and never finished it.  It does look better, but still needs more work.

6. Clean Carpets. I get a big F for this one.  Nothing happened, but we did vacuum weekly.

7. Declutter yarn. I get an F for this one.  It looks like a war zone where my yarn is. UGH!

8. Blog weekly. I can safely give myself a B+ for this one.  I think I missed a week, but I did blog every other week and that is a BIG improvement.

 This gives me a B for the month.  This is a lot better than I expected.  I'll post later this week about my goals for June.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Passing Judgement

If you don't want honesty, then please stop reading.  I'm going to be honest about myself here because God expects me to and I know there are a few others who feel this way, but are ashamed of how they feel as I have been in the past.

There are hours, days and weeks that I just don't like being a parent.  I especially don't like being a homeschooling parent who never seems to leave her house.  I really don't like being a homeschooling parent of teenagers with issues.  There are days that I don't like dealing with my children at all.

Now before you scoff at me, you need to take a walk in my shoes.  Let me describe my day to you.  This may seem like complaining and in a way it is, but there are enough people out there who would judge me and I feel the need to explain.

My kids are in bed by 9pm every night.  The boys fall asleep pretty quickly and so do the teens depending on several things, but most every night they are out by 10pm.  This means I should be able to get some good sleep, and for a normal person this would be true.  It isn't for me.  Most nights, meaning I took something to help me sleep that worked, I am asleep by midnight.  This would be ok if I didn't wake up every hour or two tossing and turning.  I can list a handful of times that I have slept well and woke up refreshed.  Most mornings I feel like I have been run over by a truck and that is after 2 cups of caffeinated tea.

My boys are up by 6am at the earliest, but it is usually about when the sun rises.  This means if I want time for myself and for bible study I have to be up by 5am.  So even if I do go to sleep by midnight that means 5 hours of sleep a night. You see how this is setting up for a bad situation?

I drag, awaken, my older two children by 7am so they can be up, accomplish their chores, and be ready for bible at 8:30am and school can begin by 9am.  They have no idea how spoiled they are to be up that late as they are up after the public school bus has already been through our neighborhood.  They would love for me to change their sleeping schedules to let them stay up as late as they want, but sleep is important and they would miss half of their life if they stayed up late all the time, and they would be completing school work instead of valuable time with their dad when he is home.  My children NEED their dad.  He is vital to keeping balance in this family.

So now they are up and the arguments begin.  The older two are tired, "I never let them get enough sleep."  According to their doctor they are fine and the sleep they are getting is plenty.  By 7am, Pip has asked me 12 times what is for breakfast, and my nerves are running thin because I have told him it is baking in the oven those 12 times.  Eating gluten free is hard, when you make everything from scratch everyday for every meal. If you have food allergies or children with food allergies you know what I'm talking about, but you do it because you know it is vital to their lives.

So while breakfast is cooking I look over the menu for the day to make sure I have everything I need for lunch and dinner, finding out half the time that "someone" has eaten something that I needed for a meal later that day.  I'll foolishly ask, but an argument ensues as no one remembers eating it themselves, but are sure that someone else did it.  This means I have to either leave out that ingredient or plan something else.  At this point I am ready to go back to bed and praying the day will start off differently, but I know I have to keep going on.

So breakfast has been eaten and the chores begin.  It is usually a quiet time in the house as we are all busy, except for Pandora playing in the background.  Each of my children have their assigned chores and I go through making sure they are "done to the list."  Yes, I have a list for each room so my children know what the standard is and it keeps me in check to make sure I don't change the rules.  It has worked well for our family, but I still have to check their work and if it doesn't meet that standard then the complaining starts about the stupid rules, stupid chores and how their friends don't do chores because "their mom's are good moms who keep a spotless house all the time instead of being lazy and useless."

All of this is before 8:30am. UGH!  We stop at 8:30am and sit down for our family bible lessons.  I've tried starting school without it and the day goes down hill FAST if we don't start our day off with God.  Some may think I am being over dramatic about this, or I'm using our family bible study as a crutch, but I say to you YES IAM!  It is THAT important and it is my daily crutch.  Everyday God seems to know exactly what our family needs for the day.  When attitudes get out of whack, when we start complaining, grumbling, having a lack of grace for each other, that we KNOW God has for us, we remind each other of what we studied.  It is HARD to take criticism from my children about my bad behavior, but God gave them to me to help me grow and be a better person, and so I better accept this with Grace or not only will I not grow, but they won't either.

It is only 9am and I'm already tired.  I've had my personal bible study, made breakfast, Pip and William are up, got the other two up at 7am, ate, chores, the daily chore argument, and had bible study.  By this point I know how the day is going to go.  You can tell me I'm being negative, and I will say again, walk in my shoes, because there is a lot I'm not talking about here.

You see in among all of this I am dealing with William.  He can wake up feeling great or he can be grumpy and will never see the light of day.  My William isn't your typical child that you can just say get over it and he is over it.  We have to walk through things.  If something in the schedule changes for him that is the worst thing that could happen.  He falls apart.  Since we have changed up his medicine and gone gluten free, sugar free, it has gotten better, but he is still sensitive.  This is part of his autism.

William is my cleaning buddy while the others work on their own.  This can cause jealousy and has caused a meltdown a few times of the other three, but if I don't stay with William he will not complete his tasks.  I've explained it to the older two, but they don't care.  While Pip, he seems to understand it better, but just wants time with me, so I've added two buddies and the boys do their work together.  The jobs are perfect, but they are accomplished and if I wanted perfect I would do it myself and my children would NEVER learn anything.

By 9am I am emotionally and physically drained.  I've already drank a pot of tea, prayed more times in 3 hours than I do in month and shed more tears that I do with a sad chick flick, all this and my day has just started. This is my typical morning.

When we decided to have children, I NEVER realized how exhausting it would be.  I mean I knew I could be a brat as a kid, ok a real brat, but this is beyond my scope of understanding.  Then you add Autism into the mix with teenage hormones and you have insanity.  I thought I would be like these women who are always well dress, always smiling, never bothered by anything.  That somehow my joy would always be filled up and nothing would ever get me down.  This is the life I wanted isn't it?  I wanted this and it would make me happy, right???

Why is it instead I find myself exhausted, emotionally?  Why is it that I find myself just wanting to stay in bed with the covers over my head, crying myself back to sleep?  The answer is this PARENTING ISN'T FOR WIMPS!!!

Parenting isn't for the faint at heart.  Being a parent of a "normal" child will stretch you to your limit, add a couple of children with learning disabilities and you are crying to God daily asking Him if He is sure He chose the right woman for this job, because you are pretty sure He didn't.

I am the one who disciplines my children on a daily, no hourly, no minutely basis.  I'm the one that has to not only tell the teenager why they can't do it their way, but why it has to be this way. I'm the one who hasn't been able to use the bathroom on her own for 14 years, unless they were all gone for the day.  I'm the one who is suppose to have a good attitude and not allow their bad one affect mine.  I'm the one who is suppose to be awake and being mom even when I've not slept for two days due to a migraine.  Finally I'm the one who usually has to hand out the consequences when there is bad behavior from selfish attitudes.

All of this is hard on me.  I'm tired.  I sometimes really hate my job.  I sometimes wish I could dump them in public school so someone else could raise them for me. I sometimes just want to quit. So why do I get up every morning and do it again and again?  Because I hear my grandma telling me that Parenting isn't for wimps and she KNOWS I'm no wimp.  Well grandma I hate to disappoint you, but I am.  If I wasn't a wimp I certainly wouldn't be posting this here.  I certainly wouldn't be questioning my job and I certainly wouldn't be a disappointment or as someone once said a poor example of what a Christian woman is suppose to be.

Maybe I'm not your idea of what a virtuous woman is suppose to be.  I KNOW I'm not the best at the job. I will tell you it isn't my prayer either.  Each morning I get up and pray to God that I will live up to HIS standards.  I will live my life showing the grace, love and mercy He has shown me.  That I will not grow weary in doing good.  That I will finish the race that is before me.  That when I lay my head down at night, I know that I have, while not being perfect, have given my family and my God everything I had to give.  That I am drained of all I am and have poured it onto the people who matter most.

Some days are better than others.  Some days I wonder why I got out of bed in the first place.  Some days I go bopping through and don't realize the time until Pip tells me, mom it is 6pm and you have dinner ready. LOL

I am sure I am no one's ideal woman, wife, parent or child of God, but I am thankful that I don't have to measure up to the standards of humans who don't walk in my shoes.  I have to measure up to the standards of God who knows my life, heart, desire, pains, sorrows, weakness, and love.  He is the one that will fill me up each night making me ready to face another grueling day of being a mom.

I was up one night when all of this fell into place for me.  I was reading about another mother who had opened her heart and talked some about her struggles.  I start judging her when it was placed upon my heart that I was doing the same thing that others do to me. It's easy to look and and just KNOW how the other person should live their life, isn't it?  I came to realize that God will be a righteous and merciful judge.  I also realized that I was like her and all I wanted was for someone to understand, for someone to not be one more thing that tears me down in the world of parenting and being a child of the King.

So here before the world, I say I am a SINNER.  I put my foot in my mouth all the time.  I say stupid things that make sense to me, but to others is foolish and immature.  I lose my patience with my children all the time and I mean ALL the time.  I do not set a perfect example to my daughter of what it means to be a godly wife and mother.  I have tired, and beat myself up emotionally, but I can't ever seem to have a perfect day. I don't treat other people the way I want to be treated.  I pass judgement on them. I some times refuse to forgive wrongs that have been committed against me. I don't always like being a mom.  I certainly don't always like being a homeschooling mom.  I get jealous of other women who have careers and make wonderful money, thinking that could have been me, if I had wanted it too.  I could have been somebody instead of just a punching bag.

These are just a few of the things that are in my head and on my heart.  I'm sure most of you will have just one more reason to look down on me.  I know there are some that already do, they have made no bones about how I am unfit as a Christian wife and do not want their children around me, especially their daughters.  This path I am on is hard at times.  There are times I just want to quit.  I know that if I want to see my God in the end I have to keep moving forward. Even if there are people passing judgement about me and my choices, I have to keep moving and let them fall behind me.  It is the painting of how God sees me that matters, not that of the other "Snoodles," that are weighing down my backpack.

I will end with one last thing as I know this is already long enough.  I have a friend who told me about her last time talking with another mom.  This mom was having a hard time being a mom and wife.  She was tired, worn down, and feeling desperate.  She didn't know what to do, so she turned to her "perfect" friend to help her.  Well, instead of taking this opportunity to build this woman up, she told her that her "attitude was awful and that things will never change unless she stopped being so selfish.  Her husband and children deserved her best not the waste that she had allowed herself to become.  If she stopped worrying about herself, stopped being a wimp, and lived for her family things would be fine."  This woman ended up telling her how ashamed she was to call her friend, that she didn't want her children to come over and be infected by her, that she would pray for this woman's children and husband and that the world would be a better place without pathetic people like her.  That night this woman had her husband take the kids with him while he went to the store.  While he was gone she quietly slipped into their bedroom and shot herself.  She was there when her daughter age 10 found her.

This "godly" woman, who claimed to be her friend, was the last person she really spoke to.  This woman helped Satan destroy this other soul with her judgement and cruelty.  This woman helped Satan set up a legacy of destruction that will go for generations.  The sad thing is that at the funeral all she could say was, "well her children will heal faster without her there to bring them down with her negativity."  I wanted to SCREAM!  I wanted to SMACK this person!  I did neither, but I did stop having much to do with this person and over the years I have lost most contact with her.  I do know that her children are NOT faithful to God in anyway at all.

I guess my warning is this, Do NOT pass judgement on others.  You have no idea what it is like to be them. You have no idea what is going on in their lives, bodies and heart.  You have no idea if they love God and are trying to serve him, but just don't meet your standards.  Not only does passing judgement on others destroy them, but it also allows you to play at being god, which will destroy YOU as well.