Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here's The Deal...

I have learned something lately about being a Christian. God is not willing to share; he wants all of me. He desires for me to give him even those parts that I have hidden way over in the corner. Perhaps he even wants these bits more than anything else. It is these slivers that I long to hold on to.

I don't want to think about what Jesus would do all the time. Sometimes I want to react to something like a 'normal' person. I want to reach over into one of my corners and pull out my gossip piece and use it until I feel superior to everyone about whom I have talked. From time to time I want to grab hold of that mean chunk and say what is really on my mind until the other person feels as low as I do.

It is at these times that I must really grab on to the bigger portion of me that is fixed on being obedient to Him, that large area that gave itself over to the will of her savior. Luckily most times I am able to remember that human nature is not always God's nature. He doesn't have those dark recesses like I do. He is all good. That is what he wishes for me too, taken over by good. Even though perfection will never be realized in this lifetime, I am still required to give Him my all.

Hopefully, as I go throughout my life those dark places will get smaller and smaller as I fill them up with His love, His word and His spirit. I long for the day when God really does have all of me. That will be the most glorious day of all.

It all depends on me. God has already given me His free gift; it is up to me how I use it. I am faced with choices every day. It is up to me whether I am going to reach over into the dark place or seize God's promise to me. He has promised never to relinquish me. It is up to me to do my best not to forsake him. I do this by having the character to withstand the temptation of my will, as I yield to His.

It seems like a tough choice; it is hard to give up myself to another. However, I have only abundance to gain by letting God inhabit me as I fade into Him.

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged

Psalm 9:10
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you

Psalm 119:8
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

Better Than Goo Gone®

As you approach the new year, you are undoubtedly looking for ways to simplify your life. I have a fantastic, yet simple trick for removing those stubborn price tags and stickers from your Christmas presents this year. This works better than any commercial cleaner that I have ever tried. It also has the added benefit of being non-toxic and environmentally friendly. I know that is something I am always looking for in my life.

This revolutionary product is as straightforward as this - a drop or two of sweet orange essential oil.

Here's what you do: Take a clean dry cloth and add one or two drops of the essential oil. Take your cloth and rub it on any nonporous surface that you want to clean; presto all the stickiness is gone. Not only does this trick work on the tenacious remnants of stickers, it also works on permanent marker "accidents". Be sure you test out your surface first, though, you don't want your oil to take the paint off of a wall.

I love this solution, you no doubt will too. Next thing you know, you are going to be leaving the markers out on purpose, just so you can see the marks magically disappear in a cloud of orange vapor.

Friday, December 26, 2008

After Holiday Letdwon Syndrome

I don'think I am the only one that sufferers from the phenomenon known as After Holiday Letdown Syndrome (AHLS). It is that day after Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) crankiness that afflicts both adult and child alike.

We work so hard in the days leading up to our winter holiday to make things 'just right'. Parents envision the rapture and joy on a child's face as he opens up those long awaited gifts bedecking the floor around the tree. Children anticipate just what they asked for as they stare longingly at the beribboned packages. We build it up to such epic proportions: is it any wonder that we feel let down the day after?

Things rarely live up to our expectations. The toy that looked so cool on the TV commercial is but a bit of plastic junk when all is said and done. Kids are often not as appreciative as parents feel they ought to be. Don't kids know what effort was put forth on their behalves in the gathering of all of the gifts, not to mention the labor of wrapping the accursed things?

What are we to do? How do we avoid AHLS? Should it even be avoided? Maybe we have to go through a day or so of depression to counteract elation of the days before. Perhaps this is what helps us reestablish our equilibrium, so that we can deal with real life again; it helps us to keep our heads about us. We can't go around all the time either in the high state of anticipation, nor in the low doldrums of let down.

Life is about the ebbs and the flows. We need to learn how to ride the waves, keep our brains on an even keel while dealing with the inevitable highs and lows. The only way to do that is to experience both the ups and the downs that are thrown at us.

I hope that those of us who suffer from AHLS will be able to get through today and come out on the other side a little wiser for the experience. Maybe?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I want to take a minute to wax poetic about my friends. I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends, that I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to let them know how important the are to me.

There are my real life friends, who I absolutely could not live without, especially in these last couple of months. They came to my aid and were literally my legs for me. A thousand thank yous would not be enough to adequately thank them for their steadfastness. I love them unconditionally and hope to repay a bit of their kindness some day.

Then, there are those who I have never met in real life but have come to cherish just the same as if I met them down the street. They have taught me so much about diversity, tolerance and just plain acceptance. Having never lived farther than 75 miles from my hometown, I haven't had a very wide variety of experiences with people until I found my on-line communities. I always knew that there were different people and myriad ideas in the world, but had never had a chance to really sink my teeth into the deliciousness of it before. For the experience of thinking outside the box and moving me beyond my comfort zone, I am eternally grateful to all of my cyber friends.

I am posting a video that really touches my heart and speaks of the sentiment I am trying to express to everyone I call friend. I know it is not the type of music that everyone goes for, but I urge you to watch it and listen to the words. When you are done - go call a friend and say thank you.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Crisis of Confidence

I just heard New York's Mayor Bloomberg say something on TV that struck me as so profoundly true that I absolutely had to sit down and write out my thoughts on the subject. This country is suffering a Crisis of Confidence.

We all know that the country is in a recession. It is no secret that unemployment level have increased, bringing the current rate to 6.7%. Across the country there are over 10 million people out of work. I daresay we all know people who have lost their jobs in the last year; this makes us feel as if it could happen to us at any moment.

The reality is that we are more likely to keep our job than we are to lose it. That is right, most people are not going to lose their jobs, we just feel as if we might. The real problem with the economy is that people are scared. We have lost confidence in the American Dream. With good reason, I can see that, what with the government's lack of direction in the area of solving this economic puzzle and with people like Bernie Madoff in the world, who wouldn't lose confidence.

How does the average middle class family regain their lost confidence? Well, that is the big question, isn't it? Spending like there is no tomorrow in hopes that throwing more money into the sluggish economy will bring things around certainly doesn't sit well with most people. Sitting around in an anxious state of impending doom doesn't seem like the right way to solve a problem either. So, what to do?

I say meet positively in the middle. We need to regain our confidence in our government as well as in our fellow human beings. We the people need to be the ones to raise ourselves out of the malaise that we seem to be stuck in. It is up to us to be the change that we want to see in the world, as the Dali Lama so eloquently said. I know, I am a Pollyanna-ish person in this regard; I really do think that things will turn around and most people will be okay. This is just a ebb in an inevitable cycle of life in our country.

When broken down to its core, this country has many more Mother Teresas than we have Bernie Madoffs. Most people are good. Regardless of political affiliation, religious belief, etc, most people are honorable people. Most of us know that what is good for our neighbor is also good for us and live our lives accordingly. We simply need to restore some hope among our ranks.

Looking on the bright side does not necessarily mean putting on blinders to what is really going on. We can still have compassion for those who are out of work, help them in any way we can, without losing hope that it most likely won't happen to us. That is what it means to be an American; never losing hope in a brighter tomorrow.

I like to think that I have the strength that my grandparents had during the Great Depression. They bravely endured that time, so maybe, just maybe my generation can do the same.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This blog today is an extension of sorts of yesterday's blog.

I have felt for many years that the Lord had specific plans for me to be used my him in an expansive way. Many times I have put that thought aside because I didn't feel worthy of any such calling. Who am I, after all, to be used by God? No one really. It was at such times that I would be drawn to stories of biblical characters like Gideon, who questioned God just as I have.

Gideon asked God to give him a sign that God was actually speaking to him. Sometimes I feel it would be helpful if I could have a clear a sign from God as Gideon experienced. If only the Angel of the Lord would come and set fire to a rock beside me; then I would know for sure. Alas, it doesn't work that way any more. God does still show us signs, though. We just have to be very discerning and prayerful that we are hearing and seeing with God's will in our hearts.

As I said, over the years, I have had many subtle signs of God's plan. I have seen glimpses of the big picture that is on the horizon, but have never been able to grasp the entire thing. This has been frustrating to me. I am an impatient person by nature.

For now, I sense God telling me to wait. My job at the moment is to care for my children and to serve those in my immediate vicinity. Later...I keep hearing (God) in my head. "I will broaden the scope, later."

I will wait. While I am waiting, I have a lot to do right here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

When You Least Expect It

A funny thing happened to me at the orthopaedic surgeon's office today. Well, not really hilariously funny, but funny as in unexpected. I was waiting, as is often the case at the doctor's office, while I listened to my MP3 player. I was flipping through my songs and stopped on a song called While I'm Waiting by John Waller. This is a song I have heard many times before, after all it is on my MP3 player, so I know the song. Yet, today the song spoke to me as it never had before. I listened more carefully to the words and I really felt as though God was speaking to me through that song.

"I am waiting on you Lord, and I am hopeful"*, the song says, "I am waiting on you, though it is painful"*. The words struck me right between the eyes. It goes on to say "While, I am waiting, I will serve you. I will worship while I'm waiting."* Wow. Did the songwriter write this song just for me? No. I know he didn't, but God is using it to help me understand things, just as if it were written just for me.

I felt very close to God at that moment and I was certain that my choosing that song to listen to right then was no coincidence. I needed to be open to what God was saying to me. So I closed my eyes and offered myself up to my Lord's instruction. Let me tell you what he revealed to me.

You see, the last few weeks I have been frustratingly stalled in proceeding with my life after surgery. I have felt God stirring me, but had no clear direction. Surely, I wasn't listening and praying hard enough or I would be getting the message, I thought. Then, it dawned on me --I was rushing God again.

If there is one thing God can't be, it is rushed. His timing will happen as he sees fit. No amount of begging and cajoling from me can hurry God's will. In the mean time I am called to -- you guessed it -- wait. While I am waiting I cannot be stagnant; I have to use that time to worship and to serve. This is what God has been trying to tell me.

He does have plans for me. He may not necessarily divulge the whole plan to me at once. That really is a load off of my mind. I was really struggling because I felt I should know what I'm doing. Turns out God has it all under control. I am to take each step in obedience, as I move ahead, bold and confident*. All I need to do for now is wait and worship and serve.

Psalm 27:13-14 (New International Version)

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Romans 8:24-25 (New International Version)

24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

*All of these were taken from John Waller's song "I Am Waiting". This is not the first time one of his songs has spoken to me. I have referred to his music in my blog before. I hope that he is pleased that his songs resonate so loudly and that I have used his work in a way that would gladden him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I guess it was bound to happen.

My third child is in the fifth grade this year. He informed me last night that he did not, under any circumstances want me to attend his winter party today. I have got to tell you, even though I know this is a normal attitude for an 11 year old to have, it stung like a bee.

My two older children, at ages 13 and 12, still think I am pretty cool to be around. My little one, who is nine, has yet to stop hugging me when he sees me at school. So, I was kind of thrown for a loop that this child felt so strongly about not wanting me intruding in his space.

I thought about what he said long and hard all evening. I flip flopped back and forth between going and staying home from the party. As, I went to bed, I had made the decision to go anyway. After all, this was his last Winter Party; I didn't want to miss it.

I changed my mind this morning when I woke up. I figured it was time to let him spread his wings a bit. I felt I needed to respect his wishes and let him have his party on his own terms. As a mom, it was heartbreaking. I really wanted to be there. After all, I had been at every field trip and party he had since he was in preschool; a fact he derisively heralded to me last night. However, I knew that he would be angry with me if I showed up. It would just be delaying the inevitable, too. I had to let him grow up some time.

In the end I stayed home and cried nostalgically about the baby he once was as I anticipated the man he would soon become. He is a great kid. I know that. He is going to be a remarkable man, I have no doubt about that. Unfortunately for us moms, we have to step aside sometimes and allow our kids to make their way down their own path. It stings, but it makes me proud at the same time.

When I picked him up from school he said the party was fun. He didn't mention one way or the other how he felt about my absence. I didn't ask. I have a feeling he was happy that I had given him some breathing room. Some day he will remember that I was around all the time because I cared deeply for him, but that I let him have his space when he needed it.

Man, this mothering gig is though!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holly Jolly Christmas?

This Christmas season I find myself being neither jolly nor merry about things. I am in a funk. I am impatient. I am contrary. I have lost my pep and zest. I really don't know what the exact cause of the gloom is. I think it is a combination of things -- most of which are beyond my control.

First of all I have no tolerance for being out of commission. This convalescence is the pits. I want it to be over, yet I don't know what I am going to do when it is. People ask me how I am feeling all the time. I have about one 30th of a second to decide -- is this person really interested in hearing the long version of how I feel? Or are the looking for the short, I am just passing you in the hall and really don't even want to slow down long enough to hear your answer, version? I can never decide fast enough, so I just usually stand there with a dumb look on my face, giving people the impression that I am still ingesting copious amounts of narcotic pain medication.

The truth is I am physically right on track, and I really feel pretty fine; not too much lingering pain. I am also bored, frustrated and agitated. I want to be regular. I want to walk across the room unassisted and without a limp. I want to be able to go into the kitchen and get a cookie and a cup of tea and be able to bring them both back to the living room at the same time. I long to take a shower without scooting onto a seat inside the bathtub. I would enjoy putting on my socks without using a silly shovel/jump rope looking thing to aid me. Oh, and yeah...my legs need to be shaved and my toenails need to be trimmed. Where is the dignity in someone doing these tasks for you? So, as you can see, most people aren't looking for the long version. It would make them too uncomfortable; it's not nice to make people squirm during polite conversation.

I am also a little sad and nostalgic that the magic of Christmas has worn off for my kids. They are too old for the sparkling anticipation a little child experiences while waiting (im)patiently for the big day to roll around. They have become jaded teens and tweens who shake a package one time and declare "Shoes! I can tell by the box". There is still a little of the charm left in the holiday for my nine year old. He can't let on though, because his older brothers will roll their eyes at him. I knew this day was coming, but I always felt the transition would be more gradual. It seems like they were just toddling around the Christmas tree last week. *sigh*

This period of rest and restoration of my body was also supposed to be a time for me to get my head together and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. It hasn't gone exactly the way I planned. I wanted some quiet solitude in which I had ample opportunity for self reflection and examination. Instead I needed to have a babysitter. In the beginning, I needed someone around all the time because I couldn't do anything for myself. Now, when I am a little more self sufficient, those caretakers have become all to comfortable taking care of me (read taking over my life) and are constantly on hand. No time to be alone. I was counting on a bit of isolation to think things through.

I still have plans, though. I don't intend to grow resentful of my family. I love them and love having them around in such a paradoxical way. When they are gone, I miss them like crazy. Once they return home, it takes about 15 minutes for them to wear out their welcome.

I realize that I have to work with what I have. They pick up on my moods and attitudes. I've got to make the most of these years that I have left with them, while still maintaining a life of my own. I will not be a piece of dried up driftwood, aimlessly floating around with no purpose. I have a purpose beyond my front door and by golly, I am going to find out what it is! I just need a few minutes of peace and quiet to figure this thing (life) out.

Maybe the things that are bothering me aren't so much out of my control after all. Perhaps it is my frame of mind that is throwing things off. Hhmm... When I get a minute, I am going to think about that.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Have Concluded

I had an epiphanic moment on my way home from a meeting today - you can't make people care. It is not an earth shattering revelation, but one that I have not pondered before.

I have always been very conscientious with my work habits. It doesn't matter to me whether I am being paid for the work or not; I still feel a sense of responsibility and pride in the work that I do. In a word (or two) I Care. Now, I know I am not the most organized person in the world; I don't have a penchant for facts and figures. I try to work around my deficits and accentuate the skills that I do have. I do it all because I care about the work that I do.

Many people seem to blow off work that they aren't getting paid to do. I don't understand this at all. Why take on a responsibility that you have no passion for? Volunteer work is in a class all by itself. The rewards are few and the hours can be grueling. You have to care about the organization you are working for, or your efforts will surely fall flat.

Not everyone who says they are going to do something is actually going to follow through. It is hard to discern who is actually going to go the distance. This is an unfortunate fact of life. Not everyone cares and there is nothing you can do to make them.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

An Elf Visited My House Today

As you may know I haven't been able to put up all of my Christmas decorations this year because of my recent hip replacement surgery. I had just resigned myself to not having any lights and decorations on the outside of the house. My husband didn't much act like he was too eager to climb on the roof and put the lights on the house. Much to my amazement, he got up this morning and got on the roof and put the lights in place. My 12 year old son had a grand time setting up the other lights and decorations in the bushes and yard. He couldn't wait until it got dark outside so he could show off his elfish work. He did a fine job. I think I may let him do this every year now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Discovery

I am always excited to find new environmentally friendly, safe, natural and best of all affordable products. While doing some on-line Christmas shopping this year, I ran across this product simple called Pure Soap. The website I got it from only sells it in bulk, but it was only $11.00 for 12 bars of soap. You can easily pay upwards of $3.00 a bar for natural and castille soaps, so this sounded like a bargain. Even though I had never heard of this soap before I was curious enough to order a 12 pack. I placed my order and hoped for the best.

I got my new soap yesterday and I am so impressed with this product. It has a heavenly almond scent to it, but is scented only with pure almond oil. That is a plus to me. I love pleasant smells but I can't use artificial fragrances. It is made with cocoa butter and a variety of vegetable fats, no animal lard in sight. You've gotta love that too.

I took a shower with it last night and was not disappointed. The smooth compact bar is easy to handle and makes a gorgeous lather. My skin has been extremely dry since I had surgery, so I was pleasantly surprised that my skin didn't feel dry, flaky or itchy at all.

I am going to next try this soap in my homemade laundry soap powder recipe and see how it works. I will keep you updated as to how it performs in that capacity.

You can find the soap by doing a Google search for Pure Soap. I happened to find it at Giaim I was happy with their service and delivery. If you decide to try it. Let me know how you feel about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Must Have Done Somethng Right.

On Thanksgiving day, I took my camera with me to my parent's house and had my brother in law take some pictures of the kids for our Christmas card. I came home and uploaded them into the computer and chose one that showed them all looking ahead and smiling. Then changed the color to black and white because the colors of their clothing was wildly variant and clashed awfully. I was pretty proud of the finished product, if I do say so myself.

So, what did you do right, you ask? Well, when my daughter saw the picture she said. "Oh, I like that picture. I look really good in that one." I almost cried. At thirteen, I would never have said something like that about myself. I was woefully self conscious and lacking in self esteem. I vowed when I had my little girl that I would raise her to be a strong woman who new her worth and was not ashamed of it. I guess I did a pretty good job of it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Freshen the Air Naturally

I love scents and (good) smells. There was a time when I burned my Yankee candles daily, thinking I was clearing the air of the nasties. What I didn't realize was that it was all of those artificial fragrances that were the main cause of my horrible migraines. I found this out when I eliminated commercial cleaners and air freshening sprays and candles in my house because of my son's asthma. I no longer had the near daily headaches. I now shun the very thing that I loved so much -- my candles and my air freshener sprays. I needed to find an alternative though, because I still really enjoy a clean, fresh smell in my house.

Face it, with four kids and three dogs, there is always some sort of foul smell that needs to be combated. I turned to essential oils. I found that these potent oils not only smell pleasant, they also have aroma-therapeutic properties to them. I began to get really excited about all of the uses these tiny brown bottles held. Depressed? Try some lavender oil. It is also good for antimicrobial use when applied topically. Got a headache? Peppermint oil is your best defense. You will find that it also calms an upset stomach, as well as a host of other ailments.

I could literally go on and on listing assorted oils and their marvelous attributes, but I won't bore you with that today. I just wanted to share some of my favorite combinations with you. These can either be mixed together in a spray bottle with distilled water (shake before each use) or used in a diffuser. Play around with different oils until you find your own signature scent. It really is tons of fun.

Fresh Scent
clary sage, lemon, orange, rosemary and ylang ylang

Balancing Scent
lavender and peppermint

Autumn Spice Scent
orange, cinnamon, clove and ginger

Holiday Scent
fir, lemon, rosemary and eucalyptus